'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TIME TO LXXXVI ROMAN NUMERALS
I donít know about you, but Iíve had it up to here with Roman numerals. (I realize you canít see me right now, but to indicate what I mean by ďup to here,Ē I am holding my hand just below my chin, a full LXIII inches off the floor.)
A couple months ago we had Super Bowl XLVI (-10 + 50 + 5 + 1 = 46). No other sport does this. For example, in baseball it was the 1967 World Series, not World Series LXVI. Using Roman numerals makes it impossible to put a particular game in historical context. We have no idea when Super Bowl XVII took place, nor which teams played. Itís a dumb system.
Luckily I think the Super Bowl will stop using Roman numerals in the very near future. In 2016 it will be the 50th time this championship game is played. The Roman numeral for 50 is L, but in our culture the letter L now stands for ďloser.Ē So with any luck they will refer to the game as Super Bowl 50, or even better, the 2016 Super Bowl.
Right now we are in the religious season of Lent. A common Lenten practice is the Stations of the Cross. The various stations are numbered from I to XIV (10 Ė 1 + 5 = 14). Itís kind of awkward when there is a long pause during this ceremony, and then the leader whispers, ďWhoís suppose to read the eighth station?Ē and I reply, ďNot me. Iím suppose to read the vee-eye-eye-eye station.Ē I doubt this Roman numeral system will change anytime soon because this devotion originated with the Roman Catholic Church, based in Rome for the past MM years, whose leader is called Benedict XVI (10 + 5 + 1 = 16).
Later this year the Summer Olympics will be in London, England. This is the 30th time the modern games have been held, but do they call it the 30th Olympiad? Of course not. They call it the XXX Olympiad. Except nowadays XXX does not mean 30, it means pornography. So unless they want this one to be known as the Porn Olympics, they might want to dump the Roman numerals. I suggest they try something completely revolutionary and non-traditional, such as the 2012 Olympics.
The most frustrating use of Roman numerals, by far, is the way Hollywood lists the dates that movies were made. I recently watched a John Wayne movie, and I was curious about when it was filmed. During the final credits they flashed in tiny print, for a couple of brief seconds, this symbol: MCMLVIII.
I tried to add the numbers quickly in my head. ďOK, em plus cee plus em, no wait, itís em minus cee plus em plus, oh now I forgot what the other letters were.Ē
Finally I came up with two answers. The movie was made in either 1762 or 2055. But that canít be right because everyone knows John Wayne didnít make any movies in 1762. (His first film was made in 1774, a short black and white movie co-starring Ben Franklin called, ďKite Flying Hombres.Ē) And Iím pretty sure the movie wasnít made in 2055 because John Wayne made it very clear he had no intention of making films after 2040.
Maybe we should go completely modern and use the binary system, the digital language of computers which uses only 1s and 0s. It would be Super Bowl 101110 (32 + 0 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 0 = 46) and the 11110 Olympiad (16 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 0 = 30).
No, thatís even more confusing. This whole topic is giving me a headache. I should take II aspirin and a XXV minute nap.
Bill's suspense novel "Purge the Evil" now available for Kindle download. For info, click here: http://www.boomertrek.com/PurgeTheEvil.htm
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