Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pee Wee

I've always wondered about the nickname "Pee Wee" - from whence did it come, and with what was it associated?

One of baseball's all-time greats, Pee Wee Reese, was born in Ekron, KY (Meade County) in 1918 and was living in Louisville at the time of his death on August 14, 1999.

Just two days later, on August 16, 1999, the country music star Pee Wee King, also living in Louisville, also died.

King was best known for "You Belong To Me" (you know the song - "Seeeee the pyramids alonggggg the Niiiiiile....") He also wrote "The Tennessee Waltz" in an attempt to capitalize on Bill Monroe's success with "The Kentucky Waltz", but he also had many great Country and Western Swing songs over the years such as "Dragnet", "Slow Poke", "Why Don't Y'all Go Home?" and "Unbreakable Heart".

And then there's bluesman Pee Wee Crayton, and of course, that Pee-wee Herman guy. And growing up, I read Richie Rich comics, which had a character named Pee Wee. I also used to know a bonafide Kentucky Pee Wee: back in the 90s when I had antique-mall booths all over central Kentucky, I knew a fellow known only as "Pee Wee" who dealt in antique tools, hardware, coins, locks, and railroadiana.

But what is the etymology of the term "Pee Wee"? Why are these two syllables historically applied to children, or to people who are short in stature? (And many of the people with the nickname aren't even short at all.) According to the dictionary, Pee Wee means "One, such as a child, that is relatively or unusually small", and notes that it's probably a variant of "wee", meaning tiny.

It also suggests that "Pee Wee" is related to "Pewee", which is a type of bird. (Oddly, though, their own description refers to Pewees as "small" and as "large" in the exact same entry!)

Which brings us right back to Kentucky again - the city of Pewee Valley (the setting of the old "Little Colonel" books) in Oldham County is named after that bird. Apparently it was omnipresent enough here that the city's founders gave it that name, although no one's sure how "valley" got into it - the city is actually built on a crest, not a valley.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mystery Bottle?

From my writing blog:

Readers of my column Commonwealth Curiosities in the September issue of Kentucky Monthly will get an early report about a very special and very mysterious bottle in my possession; one that I plan to open at a special event soon. More details to be announced.

Check it out!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Knob Creek Church of Christ

For our purposes here, the Knob Creek Church of Christ in Graves County has three key points of interest going for it:

For one, it's located in Dukedom, Kentucky, which I've always thought is one of the greatest Kentucky place names. It's not a word that comes up in casual conversation unless you're an ardent anglophile or you're singing Gene Chandler's "Duke of Earl". Only by calling it "Fiefdom" could the community's founder have made a wackier move.

The church is historically important for being the first Restoration Movement church to use the name "Church of Christ" (even though Barton W. Stone's church is sometimes miscredited with this honor.)

But what's truly noteworthy to me about this place is the fact that the building itself literally straddles the KY-TN state border, and the dividing line runs between the pulpit and the pews. Therefore, the minister is delivering his sermons in Kentucky but his congregation is in Tennessee!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tombstone Filled With Marijuana

Customs agents at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport were recently baffled by a tombstone that someone tried to ship via air from overseas. Apparently, it's just something that is never done - the costs to ship a giant heavy slab of stone via air are immense, and why would anyone do that when gravestones are almost always made to order in the vicinity of the cemetery in which it's to be used?

Upon further inspection, the agents started noticing other oddities - there was no last name on the headstone, assuming the senior in "Delroy Senior" is a suffix and not a surname. Being "late of England and Jamaica" was also puzzling to them, although I'll grant slack that someone could have genuinely considered themselves to have been of both places.

But once they inspected it closely, they found the stone was actually ordinary cheap poured concrete painted with a faux-finish to look like granite. The drug-sniffing dogs were called in and they immediately went off like a geiger counter at the BP disaster site. As it turns out, the fake tombstone was hollow inside and filled with 50 pounds of marijuana.

According to cincinnati.com:

Bell said efforts to find the stone’s sender – or the intended recipient – have failed because everyone involved used fake names and addresses.

“Everything came up as a dead end,” Bell said.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Abandoned Cave City Tourist Attractions

A fantastic collection of photos of Cave City's numerous defunct tourist traps has turned up in, of all places, an interior decorating blog from Nashville.

Kristie Barnett's Making Arrangements blog recently took a break from its usual style, design and feng shui topics to show some vacation photos taken while passing through Cave City. It's sad how many of the great places there have closed their doors, and it's up to us to do something about it. Like Aldo the Apache and his men in the film Inglourious Basterds, we need to organize a determined squad of entrepreneurs to go down there on a mission to help restore Cave City's beautifully tacky tourist trade. Who's with me?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wal-Mart Sued Over Dead Mouse in Milk

A Louisville family claims to have found a dead mouse in a milk container they purchased at Wal-Mart's Sam's Club at 1401 Alliant Avenue.

Robert and Rosalind Grant reportedly didn't find the mouse until they had been drinking the milk for three days. According to the suit they've now filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, their granddaughter had blood in her stool after drinking the tainted milk. The suit, filed against Wal-Mart and Superior Dairy, also claims the Grants have suffered embarrassment, humiliation and emotional distress.

All three have sought medical attention after the incident.

Such occurrences are seemingly unlikely but they do happen. Last summer a couple in Florida found a dead frog in a can of Diet Pepsi (also purchased at a Sam's Club, interestingly).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Donut Cheeseburgers Coming to Kentucky

A Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger may not sound very good to you, but I'm intrigued by the concept. (Then again, I have a stainless steel stomach when it comes to "fair food", having been an early adopter of the deep-fried Twinkie and the deep-fried cheesecake.)

Well rejoice, my fellow arteriosclerotics-in-training, the Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger is coming to the Kentucky State Fair. According to Cailley Hammel at Bluegrass Moms, the creation was tried out at the Wisconsin State Fair, where a donut was cleaved lengthwise like a bagel to form the two buns for the meat. However, at Kentucky's fair, they're reportedly using an entire donut for each of the buns. Crazy, man, crazy. But I am so there.

Predictably, the media attention about the donutburger is leaning heavily on scare-tactic health warnings, as if eating a donutburger all at once is somehow much worse than eating a donut for breakfast and a burger for lunch. They did they same thing when KFC announced its Double Down Bacon Sandwich that used slabs of fried chicken instead of buns, and I don't think anyone ended up going to the emergency room over it.

Instead of counting calories or fat grams, I urge you to watch your intake of trans-fats/hydrogenated oils instead, because that's what'll kill you. (and Krispy Kreme donuts, before you ask, dear reader, are virtually trans-fat free!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Commonwealth Curiosities

From my writing blog:

My new column, Commonwealth Curiosities, debuts in the current August issue of Kentucky Monthly magazine! More of my musings on what's weird, wild, wondrous and worthy in our fair state; you know the drill.

In this issue, the "back to school" special, I examine points of interest to be found on college campuses and universities around Kentucky.

Look for Kentucky Monthly magazine at your local bookstore or newsstand, and if they don't have it, ask!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Creation Sculpture

This strange sculpture by George R. Anthonisen is located near the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville.

I can't find any details on what the sculpture means, exactly, but it's not too hard to figure out the symbolism of the naked Adam-and-Eve-like couple kissing on one side, and the spiral on the other side that resembles a solar system revolving around a pregnant sun.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

15 Second Man

Okay, everyone's already talking it to death and it is sort of funny - 'cept it ain't - so let's address it here and then quickly move on.

As everyone's nattering about around the water cooler lately, Rick Pitino was forced to make some weird and embarrassing statements in the course of his court testimony - namely, that his lovemaking to Karen Sypher lasted all of fifteen seconds.

Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, folks. Have a good laugh at someone else's expense, because that someone has achieved more in his lifetime than you ever could - even if you devoted the entirety of your short remaining years on this planet to it.

As Joe Kennedy once said to Frank Sinatra, "the bigger the man, the bigger the mistake." That's life.

Now that Pitino has been vindicated and the psycho-stalker who tried and failed to ruin his life has been found guilty of extortion, how about we in the media grow up a notch or nine and minimize our coverage of reckless gossip about the personal lives of celebrities - even when it's newsworthy? I double dog dare you.

(Of course, I know it'll never happen; that's not the direction society is moving in nowadays. Ask Tiger Woods about that.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lewis Cemetery, West Liberty

Nicosia's Roadside Weirdness blog is back after a hiatus! She's making up for lost time with a plethora of new posts all at once - check 'em out! One in particular that caught my eye was this post about a quaint little cemetery on 519 (pictured from her blog above), near the Rowan-Morgan County line. I'm pretty sure this is Lewis Cemetery. There's also the Howard Cemetery not far away.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Marvin Finn's Grave

The Kentucky folk artist Marvin Finn, known for his primitive woodcarved chickens, has a suitably beaky headstone on his grave in Louisville Cemetary; presumably designed himself.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Trolling for Trophies

Just received a press release from the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Foundation, who are having their "Trolling for Trophies" drawing at the end of this month. Apparently the winner of the drawing gets a $1000 shopping spree with Tim Farmer at Bass Pro Shops, an all-day chance to fish in a 13 acre private lake stocked with 50-inch muskie, 23-inch hybrids, 10-pound largemouths, 3-pound shellcrackers and 2-pound crappie. Plus, you get to be on TV, on the Kentucky Afield show.

Sounds pretty good to me... even though apparently neither trolling nor a trophy is actually involved! (The fish themselves are the trophies, I understand that, but still, I like trophy trophies!)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Storm Over Stonehenge

I never get bored with storm pictures. Took these a few weeks ago during a really bad storm as I drove down Louisville's Shelbyville Road and could feel the temperature and the barometric pressure suddenly plummet. We didn't get a tornado that day, but I think we really dodged the bullet.