Thursday, March 10, 2005

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

• One more time: "Courage."
Dan Rather said goodbye to us all on the CBS Evening News last night. With sagging ratings against the others in the "Big Three," still smarting after that bogus exposé about Bush's military record, and in the wake of Walter Cronkite's admission that he should have been replaced by Bob Schieffer long ago, Rather signed off as he did for a time some years before, with the word "courage." This time, it went out to the heroes and victims of 9/11, and the tsunami disasters, among others besides himself (for once). The one-hour special about his career was interesting, especially the ground-breaking coverage behind the lines in Vietnam -- a feat which, besides setting a precedent for similar coverage of armed conflict, prepared him for getting roughed up by security goons at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Guess who's taking over the anchor chair for awhile. Film at eleven...

• "You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to." On to the bigger issues of the day. Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? In 1893, the Supreme Court ruled that it was a vegetable, in the course of imposing a tariff on the tomato, along with the cucumber, the squash, and the green bean. (Apparently, it was reasoned that the tomato was served with the main dinner, as opposed to dessert, so...) The New Jersey legislature wrestles with this question, in declaring the Jersey tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) the official state vegetable. However, it has traditionally been botanically classified as a fruit. But it gets more complicated; the tomato is in the same botanical class as the potato, the pepper, and the eggplant, all of which are commonly considered to be... Well, you get the idea. Besides, New Jersey already has a state fruit -- the highbush blueberry.

• Happy trails, Chris, until we meet again. Country singer-songwriter Chris LeDoux died yesterday after a long battle with liver ailments. He was 56. LeDoux was an extremely prolific artist, recording 22 albums on his own label before signing on with Capitol (which eventually reissued all his titles), where he recorded 15 more albums. His close friend Garth Brooks recorded his "Much to Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" in 1989. Others also recorded his songs. Unfortunately, LeDoux only achieved modest success as a celebrity in his genre. In commenting on his death, Capitol Records President/CEO Mike Dungan said, "In a world of egos and soundalikes, he was a unique artist and a wonderful man." In other words, pard'ner, LeDoux was the "real deal." In 1976, he became a world champion bareback rider from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. At the time of his death, he and his family lived on a ranch near Kaycee, Wyoming.

(Based on wire reports of the Associated Press, along with numerous other sources.)

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