Today I Learned: TV Theme Songs of the ’80s Edition

Today I learned that Alan Thicke wrote the opening themes for both The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes. For extra bonus, I learned that Paul Reiser wrote the theme for Mad About You.

This is why I listen to Stop Podcasting Yourself, and you should too. Of course, they also claimed that Thicke wrote the opening song for Growing Pains, which turned out not to be true. That’s why I always fact check Canadians, and you should too.

What is a male seamstress called?

L and L and I were talking about sewing the other day, and we couldn’t figure out what the male variant of ‘seamstress’ is. All we could come up with was ‘seamster’ which seemed a little too organized labor to be correct. However, the power of the internet proved that ‘seamster‘ is indeed a word, although ‘tailor’ would probably be the more common term. ‘Sartor‘ would also be appropriate.


L and I were recently talking about whether trilemma is a word. It seemed dubious since the only lists the entry from

1. a situation, analogous to a dilemma, in which there are three almost equally undesirable alternatives: His trilemma consisted in not knowing whether to acknowledge receipt, deny it, or simply leave.
2. Logic. a form of argument in which three choices are presented, each of which is indicated to have consequences that may be unfavorable.

Furthermore, this seems very much in the modern style of extremifying words as the origin of new words. (This problem is so big, it’s not just a DIlemma, it’s a TRIlemma!)

But thinking about the fact that it’s a logic term, I’m pretty sure it’s a word. If a dilemma is a choice between two negative alternatives, then it makes sense that a choice between three negative alternatives would be a trilemma. A simple google search bears this out. The fact that it’s used in quotes suggests to me that it’s a technical term that’s moving into common parlance.


Tall guy and podcaster Jesse Thorn likes to refer to those old-timey bicycles with one giant wheel in the front and one small wheel in the back. Apparently these are called “velocipedes,” although that usage seems to be a subset of the more general term. From

1. a vehicle, usually having two or three wheels, that is propelled by the rider.
2. an early kind of bicycle or tricycle.
3. a light, three-wheeled, pedal-driven vehicle for railway inspection, used for carrying one person on a railroad track.

Jesse Thorn also has a fascination with donks, which are miniature donkeys and natural friends of mini-horses, and mediocre baseball players of the 1980s such as Ken Oberkfell. This is why I can’t stop listening to Jordan, Jesse, GO!

What ever happened to Shirley Temple?

Shirley Temple would make for a great entry in an alive or dead. She was a huge star in the 1930’s as a kid (won an Academy Award at age 6) and then basically retired from show business in 1949. She turned her attention to politics and eventually served as ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. Occasionally she will make an appearance, but otherwise she’s stayed out of the public eye. And yes, she’s still alive…

Yea wikipedia!

Long Live Lawn Bowling! Down with Bocce!

Golden Gate Park has lawn bowling greens where bocce playing is specifically prohibited. Did you know that lawn bowling and bocce are different things? I didn’t. But I have since learned that in bocce, the balls are spherical, but in bowling, the balls are asymmetric, having a flat side that can be used to curve the balls’ trajectory as they roll down the green. Hence, lawn bowling is the land equivalent to curling. Which makes it inherently better than bocce. Thus, only lawn bowling is allowed in this American town.

Who’s face appears on the dime?

What’s great about MelDandy is that she knows my limits. She wanted to know who was on the dime, so instead of calling me, she called Odie. His answer was Harry Truman. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know Odie’s limits, because it’s actually FDR on the dime. So we all learned something.

Also, apparently Grover Cleveland was on the $1000 bill. I guess having two non-consecutive terms as president qualifies one to appear on currency.


Odie started calling me ‘sirrah’ on the train the other day. We figured it was the predecessor of ‘sir,’ which turned out to be true. But ‘sirrah’ holds a different connotation, according to

–noun Archaic.
a term of address used to inferiors or children to express impatience, contempt, etc.

Origin: 1520–30; extended form of sir; source of final vowel is unclear