Monday, February 18, 2008

Facts: Retention of


Uno: The human trachea is lined with pseudostratified superciliated columnar epithelium with goblet cells. This I learned from Dr. Rafalko in introductory human anatomy, circa 1967. I believe it was Dr. Rafalko's single favorite anatomical fact. He stressed over and over that this would be a test question. Why the quirky professor attached such importance to this arcane fact is still a mystery to me.

Superciliated means that even the cilia have cilia!

Dos: In the decade before construction of the Brooklyn Bridge began, Brooklyn was the fastest growing city in the US of A -- adding about 130,000 residents between 1860 and 1870. This fact was included in the entertaining but somewhat annoying spiel of a tour guide. My youngest son and I had come to New York mostly to see a game at legendary Yankee Stadium. The next day, before heading to Philadelphia, we took a little tour of Manhattan, from Central Park to the Battery to the Staten Island Ferry to the Brooklyn Bridge. Out of the roughly four hours of almost non-stop patter by our guide (who was from Queens), I remember almost nothing except the population growth of Brooklyn. Inexplicable.

Tres: John Prine once upon a time cast himself as a rebellious, outlaw-type singer-songwriter. The refrain of his song "Illegal Smile," about smokin' dope, goes "Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone, I'm just tryin' to have me some fun." That was back in the early 1970's. I don't think he has that edge any more.

On a 1975 album called Common Sense, Prine recorded "Come Back To Us Barbara Lewis (Hare Krishna Beauregard)." I memorized the lyrics to that song and can recite them today. In the intervening decades, I have memorized dozens, maybe hundreds, of songs -- for a while. But these have faded or gotten jumbled. Why is it that this stupid song of Prine's is fixed so well in my addled brain? Strange.

Quatro: "Impact" makes a lousy verb. OK, so that's an opinion and not strictly speaking a fact. It's my blog, so I can include an opnion in a post that is concerned with facts. Can't I?

Anyway, to make an obvious but no less interesting point: memory is a tricky thing, made even more slippery because the line between fact and opinion isn't always clear. Just ask Roger Clemens.

Here's a poem by Richard Brautigan that touches on this phenomenon. From "Lay the Marble Tea"

Hansel and Gretel

I have always wanted to write a poem about Hansel
and Gretel going through the forest, leaving behind
them pieces of apple pie to form sort of a bridge between
dream and reality, and being followed by those gentle
birds that embrace both illusions like violins eating
pieces of apple pie.

--------------

Mmmmm...pie.

1 comment:

Bleeet said...

1. Pine trees are often green.

2. Mustard tastes like spicy sweat.

3. Santa hates cats.

That's just a few of the facts I've memorized over the years, Jim.