Archive for the October 2007 Category


A few years back, Tom Brokaw, the NBC anchor, wrote a book in which he called the survivors of the great American Depression and of World War II the “greatest generation.” That was a very generous comment by Tom Brokaw, which we may or may not have deserved. But nonetheless, that greatest generation is now well into its eighties. Having seen the great American Depression and World War II, I suspect that there are a few things left for those of us in that generation to be surprised about. There are few things left for us to consider as unseemly or vulgar, we’ve pretty much seen it all.

In my own case, the American Depression and the combat phases of World War II were so debilitating that I have yet to write about them. For me, there is no happiness in recalling the deprivations during the Depression or the wounds and deaths and suffering of the combat phases of World War II. I simply find it very difficult to think about those things and certainly to write about them.

So it would seem that those of us in the so-called greatest generation have been, in the New York phrase, “around the block a few times.” But in the past few weeks, I have heard advertisements and a newscast that cause me to believe that in my trips around the block I have not seen everything there is to observe.

Consider for example the extensive advertising that is taking place on television for erectile dysfunction or, as the television announcers like to refer to it, “E.D.” I suppose I ought to be flattered by the pharmaceutical companies bestowing my nickname on this medical condition. In point of fact, however, in barracks, tents, locker rooms, etc., the subject of erectile dysfunction is rarely if ever raised. For all intents and purposes among the “greatest generation”, E.D. is a non-starter. It is not discussed or dissected. It simply does not rise to a level of discussion among my generation.

One advertisement promises help lasting for “36 hours,” for “whenever the time is right.” Good gracious! Most of the greatest generation would instinctively know when the time is right. And they would also know that erectile dysfunction is not a subject for endless discussion. And so I come to the conclusion, “Are we prudes simply because we refuse to wallow in discussions of this medical condition?” My belief is that we are not prudes; we are simply above that level of discussion.

The other afternoon I was listening to a newscast on television that turned to a commercial which ended in the expression, “Have a happy period.” I was totally astounded to find that the television advertisement had to do with menstrual periods. If there was ever a subject completely forbidden among the greatest generation, it would be that one. Again I ask, “Are the greatest generation’s members prudes because they are reluctant or refuse to discuss that female condition.” Most of the men, as I recall it, are gentlemen who absolutely refuse to touch that subject and so my answer would be that the members of the greatest generation are not prudes but gentlemen.

And finally, I hear from television sources that Laura Bush, George’s wife, is taking off for Arab countries to inform them that breast cancer is deadly. Arab men have a different view of their women than the rest of us have. They regard their women as property. It is for this reason that they cloth them in burkas that reveal very little of the female figure or hair. I am at a loss to tell you why looking at a woman’s hair excites anyone. But apparently the Arabs are carried away by passions that they do not understand. But in any case, here we have the First Lady of the United States traveling six or seven thousand miles to tell the women of the Arab countries that they should have mammograms and examinations for breast cancer. I suspect that her entreaties will fall largely on deaf ears. In the first place, decisions in life in the Arab world are made by men, not by women. And secondly, there are few women, I suspect, that would tell their husbands that they are going to take off their clothes for a male doctor. Do not forget that the Arab society is one where they even deny that they have any homosexuality. The Arabs have a long way to go before they will become interested in a Christian woman coming from six or seven thousand miles away to lecture them on breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a horrid disease which we all deplore. But Mrs. Bush did not need to travel six or seven thousand miles to address the Arab women. If she would leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and walk a few blocks toward the RFK stadium, she would find black women by the thousands who are uninsured and who are unable to visit a doctor to check on the condition of their breasts. I suspect that the leading figures in the Arab cultural world are aware of the lack of insurance among poor women in the United States. They may extend typical Arab courtesy to Mrs. Bush when she shows up, but as soon as she leaves, things will return to their normal state of affairs. In the meantime, the Arab men who make the decisions will be asking, “Why did you come six or seven thousand miles when you could find all kinds of deplorable medical conditions within a few blocks of the White House?”

In the final analysis, if Mrs. Bush wishes to address the high incidence of deaths among Arab women from cancer of the breast, that is probably all to the good. I would simply comment that she could have accomplished the same purpose among the poor female population of Washington, D.C. or of Dallas, Texas, or any other city in this country. Aside from that, the members of the so-called greatest generation are stunned and surprised to see intimate personal medical conditions advertised on television. In our day, conditions such as erectile dysfunction were never discussed among polite society or even soldierly society. It is all well and good to know everything about those conditions, but my point is that open discussion rarely if ever took place.

So finally I would answer the basic question of whether or not the members of the greatest generation are prudes by saying absolutely not. But we are surprised, even dismayed, to find intimate medical conditions being advertised on television. Does our dismay make us prudes? I believe not.

October 28, 2007
Essay 267

Kevin’s commentary: Wel

In an essay called “CRI DE COEUR” written just two months after this one, Pop claims that all advertising these days is directed at 18-30 year olds, and that not very much advertising time is spent on his generation. However here he says that the amount of E.D. advertising is ‘extensive.’ To my knowledge, there are not a lot of 20-year-old guys coming down with E.D.

I’d also posit that there are probably still a good amount of advertisers who reach the elderly via TV, knowing that in many cases young people don’t watch traditional television at all. I have not had consistent access to a cable television in my residence since I left Austin for college, and I don’t think my issue is particularly unusual.


From the year 1776, the United States depended on the United States Army (USA) to fight its battles. The Army fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and in the First World War and acquitted itself very well. However, shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Army brass determined that it was necessary to create a second army. This army was to be called not the United States Army but rather the Army of the United States. I hope you are holding on tightly as we maneuver through this jungle of bureaucracy. There is no known incident whereby German or Japanese soldiers inquired of our personnel as to whether they belonged to the United States Army or the Army of the United States. They must have figured one dead American was as good as the other.

All of this comes into focus on an evening shortly after my 20th birthday when I was preparing to be sworn in on a voluntary enlistment in the Army of the United States (AUS). It was a two-hour streetcar trip from my home in Richmond Heights, Missouri to Jefferson Barracks where my enlistment would begin. I was committed to serve for the “duration of hostilities plus six months.” What I did not know was that the “duration of hostilities” actually continued until a peace treaty was signed. Usually that ceremony takes place four or five years after peace has been achieved. But I gave that little thought as I prepared to leave my home and become a soldier.

I was standing in my bedroom going through my possessions trying to determine what I could take with me as military service beckoned. Shortly before 9 PM, my father entered my bedroom. I was aware of the time because he always went to bed no later than 9 PM, after having read a chapter or so in his Bible. My father was a taciturn man who did not waste words needlessly. He said, “Son, I have a little something here that I believe you might like to have.” When I looked at my father’s gift, it was an 1881 silver dollar. He went on to say, “As long as you carry this in your pocket, you will never be broke.” Being broke was a nightmare to my father. He had been through hard times in the Depression and he was genuinely concerned about becoming bankrupt. We may have shaken hands after that ceremony, but I don’t recall doing so. He had delivered his gift to me and given me some advice. That being done, he went to bed because 5:30 in the morning “comes mighty early.”

A few words about my father are in order here. For all the years that I knew him, we were largely strangers. There was no hostility between us ever at all. Yet there was no great warmth either. Try as I might, I can think of no better word than strangers.

There may be several reasons for this situation. My father was wed to rural life. If he had had his way, he would have been a farmer until the day of his death. I, of course, had no use for rural life because I was a city kid. My father had completed the McGuffy Second Grade Reader when he quit school at age 16 or 17. I had by that age finished high school. And finally, our sense of strangeness must have had something to do with religion. My father believed that every word in the Bible was true and accurate. I held no such beliefs. When all things are taken into consideration, my father considered me to be a very “strange duck.”

My father spoke a dialect of the English language which I call “country speak.” It has Elizabethan overtones as well as echoes of Appalachia. And it contains several deliberate mispronunciations. For example my father’s name was Ezra, which usually is pronounced as Ez-rah. When he rendered that name aloud, he always referred to himself as Ez-reee. That great state on the west coast was not California but was called in his lingo “Californee.” If he were to go into a restaurant and order a bottle of soda, it would be pronounced “so-dee.” That was not the end of it. He believed that when something was necessary, it should be pronounced as “need-cessity.” Then there was the case where he always considered the past tense of dining as “et.” If someone were to ask him to enjoy a meal, he might well reply, “Thank you; I have already et.” A good host would have knowed about the previous meal. I hope you can see why I considered “country speak” as a dialect of the English language. I do not speak country-speak, but I understand it perfectly.

Then there was the matter of his name, which is my name as well. In 1881, my father was the fourth or fifth child of Susan Dent and William Meredith Carr. Both of them were children of Irish immigrants. One way or another, they named that child Ezra, which is a Hebrew name, and Edgar, which is an English name. It has always been my belief that those two names for an Irish child are wildly inappropriate. Only people named the Holy Ghost would rival Ezra Edgar for inappropriateness.

I realized that my father was not in the habit of bestowing gifts on everybody. The gift of a silver dollar with his birth year on it meant something to him and it meant something to me, even though we were basically strangers. I put that silver dollar in my pocket and carried it there until December 8, 1943, when it was taken from me by a German soldier in a prisoner-of-war camp in northern Italy. In those circumstances, having lost my silver dollar from my father, I relied upon an ancient Irish expression. I said, under my breath, “I hope you never have a day’s luck for the rest of your life.” The fact of the matter is that the prison guard’s life lasted less than two weeks. When the Italian Partisans raided the compound, they shot every German soldier in sight. So I suppose that the man who lifted my silver dollar enjoyed it for only a fortnight. If he sent that silver dollar back to one of his relatives in Germany, perhaps that person will not enjoy great fortune as long as I am alive.

As soon as I could do it, I replaced that silver dollar and carried it in my pocket until my retirement. Unfortunately, the Army paymasters in Italy had no 1881 silver dollars, so a 1922 silver dollar, the year of my birth, was accepted in its place. By the time I retired, that silver dollar’s engraving and the picture of Miss Liberty were worn almost to smoothness. At the time, I owned a suit or two with vests. My wife took that silver dollar and had a gold ring placed around its edges. The gold ring was attached to a gold chain which was attached to a pocket watch that AT&T had given me for having completed 40 years of service. If my luck holds out, following this is a picture of the silver dollar, the chain, and the gold watch.

For several years, the silver dollar, the watch, and the chain have been laying helplessly in my top dresser drawer. Now it is time to put them to work. There are five Carr grandsons and there are two Costa Rica grandsons who have adopted me as their “Grandpa in America,” as well as their new sister Melissa. And then there is Daniel Commodore, who works at the fish counter in a supermarket that we patronize. Daniel is a native of Accra, Ghana. He says that when I approach his workplace, he thinks of his own father. I am greatly flattered.

If and when any of the forgoing eight gentlemen elect to take a bride, I hope that they will buy or rent a suit with an appropriate vest. In one pocket of the vest, the watch should be placed. The gold chain must be snaked through button holes until it reaches the opposite side of the vest wherein the silver dollar will be used as a fob. If a vest is unavailable, the watch and the fob may be worn on the shirt or suit as long as the gold chain is prominently visible.

Similarly, if the young men have a pair of high-waisted pants, they may wear the jewelry with the watch in one pocket and the fob in the other, so long as the chain is apparent. The idea is to announce to the world that the wearer carries a watch and a fob, which accounts for the prominence that the chain should display.

This offer is not for permanent possession; it is simply a free rental. If there is a significant graduation or some other achievement of that sort, the silver dollar, fob, and watch may also be used to mark such a happy occasion, providing that the chain is similarly displayed.

These items are masculine in nature. When Señorita Melissa becomes a bride, or achieves some other significant step in her life, her grandparents in America will make proper recognition of those achievements.

As long as I carried the silver dollar in my pants pocket, I was reminded of my father. When I paid for lunch or bought a newspaper, the change would come out of my pocket, which would include the silver dollar. On every occasion, I thought of my father. I hope that when my grandchildren wear the silver dollar fob, they will think of him as well. None of them have ever met him but he was a strong and decent person. In the final years of his life, glaucoma overtook my father’s eyes and he spent the last eleven or twelve years in blindness. During those years, I can never recall my father ever complaining about his blindness. Nor can I recall his complaining about the loveless marriage that his arrangement with my mother had long since become.

So you see that in the end my father’s gesture to me on that evening in 1942 has lived on and will survive me as I lend this gift to my grandchildren. He was a good man.

Beyond all of the accolades that my father has generated, it is my hope that sooner or later every university in this country will begin to offer courses in “country speak”. There is something lyrical about a “country speaker” saying to a host who offers food, “No, thank you; I have already et. You should have knowed that.” Even Queen Elizabeth or the Archbishop of Canterbury would find it very difficult to approach that level of eloquence in the English language.

October 27, 2007
Essay 266
Kevin’s commentary: Clearly, all the grandsons need to work on this whole “getting married” thing; I don’t think many of us are particularly close. Beautiful watch and chain, though. Maybe they’ll come back into fashion sometime.

My main takeaway here is as someone of largely Irish blood, I apparently have access to a friggen leprechaun-style luck curse and I’m just now finding this out at age 23.


This humble essay has spent a longer time in gestation than normal. The longer pregnancy is brought about by the fact that it deals with human failures. And secondly, some of the characters in the essay are less than glorious. No one likes to read about failures; they like to read about cuddly dogs and lap cat kittens and well-behaved children. But on the obverse side there are, in fact, failures. This essay will deal with four of those failures.

All of this was brought into focus when I recalled an untitled recitation that is a part of Irish literature and folklore. The name of the author is unknown because over the course of years, his memory has been erased from the memory of man. We suspect that it was written sometime in the 18th or 19th century and we know that it is not the work of William Butler Yeats, the premier Irish poet. The first verse reads like this:

“He stumbled home from Clifton Faire
On drunken legs and cheeks aglow.

But there was something in his air
That told of kingship long ago.

I turned and inly burned with grief
that one so high should fall so low.”

When it comes to failures one needs to look no further than the collapse of the 2007 New York Mets. The 2007 Mets were a club that this poem must have been written about. They were indeed the baseball club so high, and in the end, they sank so low.

Midway through the season, the New York Mets enjoyed a fourteen-game lead. In baseball circles, such a lead is considered largely insurmountable. In the final 17 days of the baseball season, the Mets had a seven-game lead.

They managed to fritter it all away while the Philadelphia Phillies put together a winning streak that overtook the Mets. On the final day of the season, it was the Phillies who were in first place, not the Mets. So we have here a case of “that one so high should fall so low.” The Mets missed the playoffs and at the end of their season, they packed their bags and went home. No playoff money, and no World Series money. And no paid appearances on television.

So this is the first failure that is brought to mind by the untitled poem by the Irish author whose name has been erased from the memory of man.

The second case of failure also involves a baseball club, the New York Yankees. The Yankees made the playoffs for the 12th consecutive year under the leadership of Joe Torre, their manager. But they also found that for the third consecutive year, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. So they packed their bags and headed for their home cities. Again it is a case of “that one so high should fall so low.” On top of this failure, the Yankees in effect fired their manager.

One of the reasons that this essay has spent so much time being birthed is that it was held up while the Yankee Series was open to question. That series was soon settled as the Cleveland Indians took three of the four games from the Yankees. But now comes a further holdup in that the owner of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, ha threatened to fire the manager of the Yankees unless he won that series. Well, the Yankees lost that series and we waiting for the other shoe to drop, to see whether in fact Steinbrenner would fire Joe Torre.

In terms of manliness, George Steinbrenner is a gnat. Joe Torre, on the other hand, is a decent giant. Yet in this case, it is the gnat determining the future of the giant.

After ten or more days of deliberation, the Yankees offered Joe Torre a contract that he had to refuse. In the Joe Torre incident, the New York Yankees, including their owner, have covered themselves with dis-glory.

About all that can be said about the New York Mets and the New York Yankees is “wait until next year.” In the 2008 season, both of these baseball clubs will have an opportunity to chase the golden chalice once again. The third failure that I wish to discuss today has to do with the 2000 Olympics. In that Olympic contest, held in Sydney, Australia, the American sprinter, Marion Jones, was clearly the outstanding female performer. She won a total of five medals. Four were for individual performances and the fifth was for her anchoring the relay team in the women’s races.

Since the 2000 Olympics, Marion Jones has been plagued by the accusation that she had taken performance-enhancing drugs. The reason for this skepticism is that her performances defied human expectations. I know very little about women’s track and field records, but it seemed to me that the questioners were so persistent that they must have known something. This past week Marion Jones appeared before a federal judge and pleaded guilty to having lied to a federal agent. Marion Jones admitted that the charges against her about taking performance-enhancing drugs were true. Again, it is a case of “that one so high should fall so low.”

Marion Jones is a mother. She faces the possibility of a jail term and what is she going to tell her child about this incident? I suspect that will be the most difficult speech that Marion Jones will ever have to make.

And finally we come to the Senior Senator from the great State of Idaho. You may recall that early this spring, Senator Larry Craig was arrested because he propositioned an undercover cop in a Minneapolis men’s room. Senator Craig had two months to study the charges against him and, in the end, he signed a confession which gave him rights to appeal. Yet in the past week or so, Senator Craig has hired a high-powered Washington lawyer, Billy Martin, to go to a Minneapolis court to try to overturn his own confession. The effort failed. Now whereas Senator Craig had said that he would resign from the Senate on September 30, it subsequently developed that it is his intent to stay on in the Senate until his term expires in January of 2009. You may recall an earlier essay in which I deplored Senator Craig for his hypocrisy. He is a closeted homosexual, voting against every right that homosexuals might possibly enjoy. Here he voted against marriage between homosexuals as well as civil unions. And he also voted to keep them out of the Army. When it comes to being a hypocrite, Larry Craig is the world’s champion.

Another reason for the delay in the gestation of this essay is that back in his home state, the authorities there had nominated Senator Craig to be in the Idaho Hall of Fame. This of course was done before the news of the bathroom incident became known. Now it remains to be seen whether they will withdraw their nomination of Larry Craig to be in the Hall of Fame for the great State of Idaho. It seems to me that Senator Craig should be memorialized by a marble statue depicting his “wide stance” for all of posterity. But be that as it may, this is another case of “that one so high should fall so low.”

Well, there are four failures – the New York Mets, the New York Yankees, Marion Jones, and the great Senator Larry Craig. Reading about them may not be inspirational but in fact it seems to me that the anonymous poet from the 18th or 19th century had them in mind when he said “that one so high should fall so low.”

The final verse of the untitled recitation goes like this:

“But he plucked a flow’r and sniffed its scent
And waved it toward the sunset sky!

Some old sweet rapture through him went,
And kindled, in his bloodshot eye.

I sighed and inly cried for joy
That one so low could rise so high!”

So you see all of the failures mentioned today are not without hope because in the second verse of the unnamed poet’s contribution, he says that there is a possibility that “one so low could rise so high.” So the poet had his eye on 2007. If however I had my choice, I would hope that never should Larry Craig rise to any level of human acclaim. As far as I am concerned, Larry Craig is of a piece with George Steinbrenner. They are gnats of humanity. As for Marion Jones, I hope that one way or another she will recover, because her sprinting days at age 30 are now over. And as for the New York Mets and the New York Yankees, I can only repeat that well-worn timeless phrase, “Wait ‘til next year.” Perhaps in 2008 we will have a world series between the Mets and the Yankees. That indeed would be a case of starting so low and rising so high.

Finally with respect to Larry Craig, I have been waiting for 65 years to site a reading that capsulizes etiquette in men’s restrooms. There was a saloon in Nameoki, Illinois, that had a sign over the urinal in its men’s room. The sign said, “We aim to please. You aim too, please.” If Larry Craig had stuck to this counsel, he might not be in the legal mess that he finds himself in today.

October 15, 2007
Essay 264

Kevin’s commentary: No dice on that 08 world series, though the cardinals did pick up a 2011 win, which is definitely a plus! A real case of the low rising high, though, would involve the Houston Astros and a winning season record. Alas, the American League has not been kind to them.


When the British post office delivers copies of this essay to the former Camille Parker-Bowles and her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, both of them will pounce on the title as a redundancy or as a tautology. That it is a redundancy and a tautology, I fully agree. But it seems to me that the new word I am adding to the English dictionary is worthy of being called a new neologism. In any case, it is better than the folks who say “revert back” or the people who add an unnecessary “u” in the middle of nuc-u-lar power.

The word “nunce” appeared to me in a heaven sent spontaneous manner as I awoke. There was no forethought or afterthought. It just happened. As soon as it happened, I knew that the English language would be greatly enriched.

The new word flows from my experience over the past several years with night sweats. As time has progressed, it has been necessary for me to keep at least four pajama tops on a hook in a closet to be used when the former pajama top becomes wet with sweat. During a week, I may enjoy two full-fledged night sweats along with three or four moisturizers that nonetheless require me to change the top of my pajamas. On a good night, I am able to sleep without having to change the top of my pajamas. But that happens rarely, say no more than once a week.

The medical profession has been of absolutely no help whatsoever. When they are asked about what produces night sweats, they throw up their hands and in all candor, I must compliment them for their honesty because they say that they simply do not know. They do not know what causes them nor do they know how to fix it. So people with night sweats continue to have night sweats. Perhaps it is a function of the male menopause.

When morning comes, I usually comment that this was a two-pajama-top night or a three or a four one, depending upon how much the night sweats afflicted me. But this week there was an occasion when I slept all the way through.

When my wife noticed in the morning that I was wearing the same costume as when I went to bed, she asked, “And how many times did you change your pajama tops last night?”

Without thinking, I instantly answered her, “Nunce,” meaning not once. And so an addition to the English language was born.

I am inclined to let the night sweats go forward, if they contribute to further additions to the language of our forefathers. I have consulted with neurologists, cardiologists, urologists, dermatologists, and even a Lebanese podiatrist. He was from Lebanon, a country near Jordan, and it is not to be confused with being a lesbian podiatrist.

So as you can see, if the night sweats continue to contribute to the lexicon of the English language, I guess I say, let us have night sweats. But “nunce” seems to me to be a contraction that ranks with “don’t” and “can’t” and “couldn’t.” As such, they are to be treasured not only by Queen Elizabeth and her new daughter-in-law, Camille Parker-Bowles, but those two women might wish to instruct Charles, the Prince of Wales, on its proper use. There are those who call the Prince a Dunce, but I believe that even he can master the use of this new neologism.

Now that we have settled the issue of night sweats and the new language addition of “nunce,” let us turn to a word called “lagniappe.” Lagniappe is a Cajun word meaning something extra. If a bartender offers you some peanuts to go with your drink, that is lagniappe. If you go to a ball game and if it lasts more than nine innings, that is also lagniappe. What I am suggesting next is another case of lagniappe which has to do with the intrusive “r” in the English language. This can occur in several instances.

Let us consider the speech of New Englanders. They might say, for example, “My mother-in-lawr sawr an idear that would be helpful around the house.” What I want to know is where did that intrusive “r” come from? Is that lagniappe? I am baffled by what the intrusive “r” adds to these words.

Midwesterners such as my mother might put the intrusive “r” a little earlier in the words she used. For example, there are many cases where people pronounce the name of the capital of the United States as “Warshington, DC.” There are others, such as my mother, who said that on Monday she had to “warsh” clothes. I have no idea where the intrusive “r” in those words comes from. But there it is.

On Sundays, my parents attended church where one of the favorite hymns was, “Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?” Both of my parents pronounced that word as “warshed,” which I believe would have detracted from the ecclesiastical underpinnings of that ancient hymn.

And then we have an intrusive “r” at the end of words that end in the letter “a.” There are those, particularly in the eastern sections of the United States, who might say that they saw a man from “Africer” or that he was sailing to “Americer.” John F. Kennedy was one of those who put the intrusive “r” on words like Africa and America. He also pronounced the name of the island nation 90 miles off our southern coast as “Cuber.” What I would like to know is how Mr. Kennedy would have dealt with one of my favorite vegetables which is okra. Would he really have pronounced it as “okrer”? He was a Massachusetts blue-blood who seldom saw okra on his plate, but it would intrigue me as how he would have pronounced that word. Would Eva, the gentle lady who transcribes these essays, also be called “Ever” by JFK?

These are merely cases of lagniappe which have intrigued me for years. As in the case with the physicians in the foregoing part of this essay, I can find no lexicographers who are familiar with the intrusive “r,” just as I can find no one who can fix night sweats.

Well, there you have my story about the new word, “nunce,” as well as the lagniappe story about the intrusive “r”s. I am not sure that they add much to your enjoyment in reading this essay, but I hope that they make Queen Elizabeth and her daughter-in-law smile once in a while. And for all I know, it may be that Queen Elizabeth has night sweats just as this below-the-salt Irish commoner has them. Up the Republic!

The author of the forgoing essay has a Hebrew name which Bostonians would pronounce as “Ezrer” and is married to a lady known as Ms. Chicker. Is there any more to be said about the intrusive “r”?

October 25, 2007
Essay 265
Kevin’s commentary: I’d add that Beijingers and Bostonians have more in common than is commonly realized. The Beijing accent is famous for its semi-random use of the “r” sound in everyday words. For instance, if I was to ask where my friend was, I would ask “Wo de pengyou zai na li” with ‘na li’ meaning ‘where.’ Beijingers would ask “Wo de pengyou zi narrr?” because apparently the “li” sound is too inconvenient to make.

Similarly the first time I lived in Beijing, I lived by the North East gate to the university — the “Dong bei men.” Invariably when I told the cab drivers where I lived, they’d nod and say “ah, dong bei marrr.” So maybe there’s something just inherently appealing about appending that sound to words that don’t need it.