Sunday, January 13, 2008


When I was a kid, the CBC had a series entitled "Fighting Words" which ran from 1955 to 1962. It might've been around when you were a kid too since the CBC kept reviving it in the 1970's and again in 1982 in their ongoing attempt to force some damn culture down our throats whether we wanted to watch or not.

Back in my day, it was harder to avoid. Where I lived we had two TV stations and one of them spent a lot of time with Oral Roberts and the Billy Graham Crusades.

"Fighting Words" had about the most insular and elite format ever contrived for television. It was a program completely riveted on its own navel as Toronto Star Drama critic and moderator Leonard Cohen would explain in each opening:

"Fighting Words is a program in which four people of assorted activities and temperaments are invited, without any preparation or rehearsal, and often without knowing one another, to identify the authorship of quotations which they must then discuss. Each week the program either deals with a new issue, or a phase of some subject never discussed before."

The panelists were well known writers and thinkers of the time, who all spoke in the same plummy tones as Cohen, working hard to impress each other, and those of us who couldn't bear to watch Oral heal one more deaf guy, with just how fricken smart they were.

99.99% of it was completely over my head. Until one night.

The quote they were discussing was "When it's one man against a corporation, the corporation always wins." And I knew that. Because I'd just read it in the newspaper. In the comic section. It was a sentiment voiced by Charlie Brown in a four panel strip in "Peanuts".

I was stunned. One of the guys who made me giggle had been elevated to this platform of higher thought. Other people knew who Charlie Brown was. Smart people. Surely this was the proof my parents needed that my life plan of becoming a famous cartoonist was not frivolous!

And then I was further stunned. Because none of those smarty pants panelists had a clue who had made such a profound statement. It wasn't Karl Marx or John Keynes or any of the other possibilities they postulated. They kept associating it with struggles for workers rights or against the military/industrial complex, completely unaware it had more to do with Lucy and Linus and a lemonade stand.

And then stunner of stunners, when the buzzer sounded and the quotee was revealed, not one of them knew who Charlie Brown was nor had any inkling of the artist behind him, Charles Schultz.

I think that was the day I realized that being smart doesn't actually mean you know anything important.

Later in life, I would give up medical school to become an actor and Leonard Cohen would write a review of the first professional production I was in. But that's a story for another time.

What I've been trying to get to is this Sunday's diversion. And, despite the title, it's unrelated to the one from last Sunday.

"When it's one man against a corporation, the corporation always wins" still applies, at least it appears to, in the case of Randy Taylor, a self described "Texas Man" who has sparked a so far unsuccessful consumer revolt against the Jimmy Dean Sausage Company.

But here at the Legion we sympathize with the little guy -- and those over 200 pounds as well...

Enjoy your Sunday.


DMc said...

I'll tell you what, though, son. That Jimmy Dean sausage is some GD fine sausage.

And it's not for northerners.

And the package is too small.

Gaffigan, third row last night. Jealous?

jimhenshaw said...

You sir define the Hip-wah-zee!

And there's nothin' kie "some good" bacon to go with "some good" sausage.

Cunningham said...

What Mr. Taylor is forgetting to do is wrap that sumbitch in some bacon.

Yesiree... bacon. The better kin to sausage.