Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The guy being interviewed on "Nightline" Monday night was saying some of the things that I think every day. Except that he was doing a much better job of articulating it than I ever could. Maybe because he's British. Ben Schott collects facts. Schott says that we all take in far more information than we can comprehend. In the "Nightline" piece he said, "It would be a torture if we recalled everything and a torture if we recalled nothing. So somehow there's a balance of normality."

He puts the interesting tidbits in a series of books. "Schott's Original Miscellany" has examples of Famous Last Words, Shakespearean Insults, Cockney Rhyming Slang, Patron Saints and Notable Belgians. "Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany" has a list of unusual meats and what they supposedly taste like among other things. "Schott's Sporting, Gaming & Idling Miscellany" is filled with things like a list of the Wacky Racers and the number of calories burned by various activities.

"Nightline" focused on Schott's ongoing gathering of stuff that interests him, which is how he writes "Schott's Almanac" each year. Of all the things Ben Schott said in the interview, I most identified with his interest in the accumulation, not the retention of facts. Schott said, "I write it down so I can forget about it." That's the same reason I write this blog.

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Blogger bean said...

frank, do you have any of those books? someone may owe you a birthday present this year. i have them and they are every bit as good as they sound.

Blogger Frank Murphy said...

Well, there goes my idea for your Christmas gift! No, I don't have the books and didn't know that you already did. I promise to act surprised!


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