A couple times a year he would do a column, in which he wrote fictitious "letters from readers" to himself, asking questions for which he just happened to have the answer. He would always include a comment in his pretend letters about his column. It was outrageous. It was ridiculous. It was inspired. As a tribute to him, I will devote this blog to emulating his question/answer columns. This is for you, Ray Orrock.
Dear Melanie Sherman
I really love your blog. It makes me laugh. Please keep on writing.
When I was a kid and something broke, my father used to “gerry-rig” it back together using duct tape or wire or rubber bands. Do you know where that term came from?
Your devoted reader,
Antonio Gomez Gutierrez
Dear Mr. Gutierrez
Thank you so much for your compliment. As it happens, I can tell you the term “gerry-rig” is actually from the nautical term “jury rig”. When a mast was carried away in a storm, or blown away in battle, the crew would jury rig a temporary mast or yards using whatever means possible until they could get into a harbor or port where more permanent repairs could be made.
I’ve been reading your blog for several months and I can really identify with all the problems you encounter. It makes me feel good to know there are others out there as inept as me.
Who was it that said, “I have not yet begun to fight?” Was it Thomas Paine, Benedict Arnold or Nathan Hale?”
Dear Mr. Bhagyamma
I’m happy I am able to make you feel right at home with your incompetence.
It grieves me to say this, but none of those gentlemen were responsible for this famous historical quotation. It was Captain John Paul Jones who, in 1779, uttered that retort when Captain Richard Pearson of the 50 gun HMS Serapis (it was actually a 44 gun ship but it carried an extra six 6-pounders at the time of the battle) asked if Jones was giving up. It seems the battle wasn’t going well for Captain Jones. His equipment was old, his ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, was an old, converted merchant vessel, and the cannons were blowing up in the crew’s faces. One crewman cried out, asking for mercy from the mighty British ship. Unfortunately Captain Pearson heard the cry before John Paul Jones could silence the man. Pearson asked if Captain Jones was asking for quarter. Infuriated one of his crew would cry out in such a manner, Jones called out he had no intention of striking his colors. “I have not yet begun to fight,” he insisted. True to his word, he eventually captured the Serapis, affecting the first United States victory over a British ship of war during the American Revolution.
Thanks for your question,
I haven’t ever read your blog. I think it is a waste of time reading blogs. But, I wondered if you knew anything about making jelly.
Dear Ms. Pipsnorkle
No I do not.
I love your blog so much. It is so witty and filled with interesting information. I have it on my blog roll and can’t wait to check to see if there is a new entry each day.
Why was a British Royal Navy seamen called a “Limey?”
Francesca di Giovanni
Dear Ms. di Giovanni,
Thank you very much for your interest in my blog. I appreciate it. The British discovered that giving seaman lime juice would prevent scurvy, a disease that could wipe out a good deal of the crew. It was a brilliant plan, saving the lives of countless sailors.
Thank you again for your question.
Yes, I can see now how fun writing the question/answer column must have been for Ray. I certainly enjoyed writing this one. Thanks for all the laughs you gave me, Mr. Orrock. I’m hoisting one for you.