The Duncan Banner


September 1, 2013

What’s written is not always what’s read

DUNCAN — Not sure who decided summer should start in late August, but while we sweat it out, here’s some of the sticky notes that serve as my memory:

I first started writing for human consumption over 37 years ago, when writing music reviews for my hometown paper somehow evolved into a career in journalism.

Over the decades, I’ve learned an undeniable fact about the writer-reader equation: What is written is not always what’s read. Or if you want to flip it around: What’s read is not always what’s written.

A writer can pen a simple observation — something that seems universally apparent, almost innocuous — but in the mind of a reader the meaning can get folded, spindled and mutilated.

Take the sentence: “The sky is blue.” When 10 people read those four words, five of them will know exactly what the writer was saying. They look up at the sky, nod their head and go on with their lives.

However, two readers process the same sentence and insist, “No, the sky’s not blue, it’s more a Pilgrim gray.” One other reader will launch into a scientific explanation about the sky not having any color, and what we see is actually sunlight reflected and filtered through dust particles.

And two other people will read “The sky is blue.” and respond, “Hmmm. What are you really trying to say?”

Advice to young married guys from a marriage veteran: Remove the phrase “What are you mad at me for?” from your lexicon. If your wife is mad at you and you don’t know why, you’ve just tossed gasoline on a fire.

If she wasn’t mad initially, through the power of suggestion you’ve opened the door for her to remember one of your past screw ups.

At the risk of the ’Bama grad in the Big Office calling down the Crimson Tide on my head, here’s how I think this 2013 college football season pans out. Alabama goes undefeated in the regular season but is upset in the SEC championship game by — take your choice — Georgia, South Carolina or Florida. In the final BCS Championship Game, the SEC representative is beaten by Stanford or Oregon.

This life thing is all about “paths.” You know, right ones, wrong ones; short ones, long ones; ones we may fear but must travel to see where they lead before knowing if they were right or wrong; ones that are a nice stroll, which give us a chance to catch our breath for the more challenging ones.

Alabama Shakes singer and pretty-danged-good-guitarist Brittany Howard has the most interesting female voice I’ve heard since Joplin. No, not Scott Joplin — Janis.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Pulitzer Prize sci-fi author Ray Bradbury said it.

Should sick days also include the days you’re sick of work?

This sign outside a restaurant in Springfield, Mo. proves there is value in commas: BBQ and tunafish salad sandwiches. Gag. What sounds a little more digestible would be: “BBQ, and tunafish salad sandwiches.”

Even though the percentage of use of marijuana by white people and black people in Oklahoma is equal, the ACLU has reported black people are nearly three times more likely to be arrested for pot possession.

When someone starts a sentence “I’m not being ...”, they almost always are.

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer, builder of a replica of the Titanic, when he was assessing the dangers it would face: “One of the benefits of global warming is there hasn’t been as many icebergs in the North Atlantic these days.”

What I look for in people is how we’re alike. Seeing the differences is easy and usually only true on the surface.

“Got chicks?’ On the message board at Cackle Hatchery outside Lebanon, Mo. (Hey, when you’re driving long distance, you’re easily amused.)

My most favorite town name anywhere? Cookietown, Oklahoma. Yum!

About the only better name would be Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookietown, Oklahoma, which could be a problem fitting on to an envelope.

For the young techno crowd: An “envelope” is a container human beings once used to transport something we called “letters.”

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  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

    If the Oklahoma State Legislators and our Governor spent less time interfering in women’s rights to manage their bodies, creating ways to lay more taxes and fees on the middle class in order to generate more tax breaks which benefit only the wealthy while also conceiving methods with which to fill Oklahoma’s for-profit prisons, they would be doing all of us a favor. Instead, why not work to enhance funding for our schools and wage increases for all school employees? While reforming the state’s educational budget, why don’t they approve wage increases for our Oklahoma State Troopers and enlarge their Academy to insure qualified individuals are ready to fill the upcoming vacancies as many of the older force retire?

    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014


Who do you favor for the U.S. Senate seat that Tom Coburn is giving up?

State Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton
U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond
State Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City
Former State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso
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