CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, June 15, 2016 – The professional basketball season will end sometime this week, so today’s trivia takes a look at a phrase that has become one of the league’s trademarks. And, just for kicks we throw in a little geographic and presidential trivia too.
1 – “In your face”: Like so many idioms that find their way into everyday language, the term “in your face” derives its origins from basketball.
Referring to someone who “humiliates an opponent” such as when he is taking a shot or following a great defensive play, the origin of the term is only about 35 years old. In 1980 a sports book about the best places in the US for a pickup basketball game was published under the title “The In-Your-Face Basketball Book.”
Even then it took more than a decade before William Safire to write about it in his “On Language” column for the “New York Times Magazine” in 1992. Safire credited the three-word phrase to be a full-time member of the “cliché Hall of Fame” after assistant editor Allan M. Siegal complained about its extensive usage. Today the “cliché Hall of Fame” is sometimes referred to as “Banned Phrases” due to overuse.
Like it or not, “in your face” lives on today as a particularly descriptive sports term.
As such, expect game #6 of the NBA finals to be as physical as any NFL game with both teams attempting to avoid the embarrassment “in your face” basketball.
2 – Teddy Roosevelt and the Maxwell House slogan: Time for another “You Be the Judge” story. Legend has it that during a visit to Nashville by President Theodore Roosevelt to visit Andrew Jackson’s estate in 1907, he commented that his coffee a the hotel was “Good to the last drop.” Maxwell House coffee adopted the phrase without giving credit to Roosevelt, preferring instead to credit Clifford Spiller, former president of General Foods.
Perhaps one reason for the oversight is because Coca-Cola was using the same slogan at that time.
Nevertheless, “Good to the last drop” is now a registered trademark of the Maxwell House coffee and appears on its logo.
Roosevelt’s connection to the phrase has never been historically verified, although there does exist another quote which bears no resemblance to the now familiar slogan. Maxwell House claims the story is true and in 2009 ran a commercial with Roosevelt repriser Joe Wiegard telling the story.
Once again, as with many of our trivia pursuits, you can decide for yourself. Where’s Judge Judy when you need her?
3 – Numbers and letters: Here are a couple of tidbits you probably never thought about but might win you some drinks one night at your favorite watering hole.
You can actually do the first item in your head when you haven’t got anything else on your mind. The only number whose letters are in alphabetical order is 40 (f-o-r-t-y).
Next we come to a note about letters, in which we inform you that Alaska is the only state that can be typed on one row of a keyboard. You might want to begin with Ohio, Iowa and Utah and go from there. It will take less time to discover the truth.
4 – Some geographical quickies: Geography trivia is always fun because, more often than not, it is surprising to consider. Here are few:
Did you know that only one state in the US borders just one other state? Maine takes the honor. However, two states actually border eight others. Both Tennessee and Missouri can make that claim.
Ever heard of the sun rising in the west? Or does it? Why the question? Because the Atlantic end of the Panama Canal is actually west of the Pacific end.
Speaking of east and west, you might be surprised to know that Charleston, SC is west of Quito, Ecuador.
And better yet, Pittsburgh is further west than the westernmost point of South America.
There you have it, our “in your face” edition of the world of useless knowledge for this Wednesday.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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