Cursing Ohio

According to data published in The Atlantic, Ohioans tend to be ill-mannered jerks. The data was gathered from more than 600,000 recorded calls — to service reps, banks, and other businesses in more than 30 industries that advise you that your call to them might be recorded.  The recorded calls were sifted to identify the obscenities, and then sorted by state.  The results showed that we Buckeyes are far more likely to swear than, say, people who live in Washington or Massachusetts.  What’s more, Ohioans also are among the callers least likely to say please and thank you.

Why is this so?  Ohioans are usually a pretty mild-mannered bunch.  We live in the middle of the country.  Our population is divided between urban and rural, blue collar and white collar, Republican and Democrat, and we manage to get along just fine.  We don’t have the reputation for arrogance of, say, Californians, and aren’t known for rudeness like New Yorkers are.  So what gives?

The answer is simple.  Ohio is home to the Cleveland Browns.  I’d be willing to wager that the vast majority of the cursing communications were recorded on Sunday nights during the fall, after the Browns have managed to fumble away another game.  When your team somehow manages to lose a 12-point lead with less than two minutes in the game — and that’s a routine result — all you can really do is launch invective at the heavens or, alternatively, the poor schnook who has fielded your call about whether there’s some way to fix that plasma TV screen you just kicked in.

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In Praise Of Vince Guaraldi

If you’ve watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, you’ve enjoyed the music of Vince Guaraldi.

Guaraldi’s jazz-flavored interpretations of holiday classics like O Tannenbaum, What Child Is This?, and Greensleeves, played by a trio with Guaraldi on piano, Jerry Granelli on drums, and Puzzy Firth on bass, were perfectly suited to Charles Schulz’s beautiful tale of Charlie Brown’s search for the meaning of Christmas.  I long ago bought the soundtrack CD at a bargain bin, and Guaraldi’s songs have been a key part of the holidays at the Webner household ever since.  I really can’t imagine what the holidays would be like without that music.

On a soundtrack album that is filled with gem after gem, my favorite track is the the instrumental version of Christmas Time Is Here — spare, shuffling, deeply melodic, with each note heartfelt and moving.  It’s the first song on my holiday mix iPod playlist and it inevitably puts me in the holiday mood.  It’s perfect music for a wintry day.

Although I will always associate Vince Guaraldi with A Charlie Brown Christmas, Guaraldi wasn’t a one-hit wonder.  With his trademark glasses and thick handlebar moustache, he was a staple of the jazz scene for two decades.  He recorded lots of excellent music, including the memorable Cast Your Fate to the Wind.  His career was cut short by his untimely death, of an apparent heart attack, in 1976, when he was only 47 years old.  You can learn a little bit more about Guaraldi and his music here.  It’s worth a few moments to know more about a man who helped to provide a soundtrack for our holidays.