Voir Dire #atozchallenge

voir dire

Voir dire, at least in the United States, is the way lawyers in a jury trial choose jurors. The jurisdiction (which could be a state, county, city, district, or the federal government) will select a jury pool at random, usually from people registered to vote in that area, and a group of them will be assigned to a case. The judge might ask questions up front that might have a bearing on the case, such as whether a person has done business with the defendant or respondent, whether they know either of the parties, and if there will be a problem if the case runs several weeks. That usually eliminates some members of the pool. Then, each potential juror is called and interviewed by the lawyers, who ask them questions that might reveal a predisposition that could work against them.

I was called for jury duty by the Cobb County Superior Court. Even though I’m disabled and could have gotten out of it, I wanted to do it. On the first day, a couple hundred residents of the county (including me) were sworn in and divided into groups. My group was called to hear a civil case between a homeowner and a builder. As we walked in, the judge and all parties to the suit were standing and facing us. The judge asked us if we knew either the plaintiff or respondent, and also asked if any of us did business with an insurance company that was involved. Those of us who did were told we were eliminated from the pool and we could go home. Had I not been eliminated, the lawyers would have had a chance to ask me questions and to either accept or reject me for the jury.

Most people see jury duty as a huge pain in the ass, and the courthouse wasn’t completely handicapped-friendly, but I felt like my being there was appreciated. The Sixth Amendment guarantees everyone a trial by an impartial jury, and, as they told us when we were sworn in, the county couldn’t guarantee that unless we were there and willing to hear a case. They didn’t need me, as it turns out, but they needed me and everyone else to be there in case they did.

The day my mother-in-law died, she was called to jury duty. They were very understanding when I called and told them she couldn’t make it, and just asked for a holy card from the wake. We had plenty of them, fortunately…


Terminus #atozchallenge


Greetings from Terminus, Georgia! That, believe it or not, was the original name of Atlanta. The Georgia State Assembly decided in 1836 they needed a railroad to get goods from the Port of Savannah to Chattanooga for further transport to the Midwest and established The Western and Atlantic Railroad for the task. They needed to establish a point where the train from Chattanooga would meet the train from Savannah, and chose a point east of the Chattahoochee River for the terminus. They drove a milepost into the ground, and soon a settlement developed around it. The settlement was initially called Terminus, then Thrasherville (after the owner of the general store) and Marthasville (after the governor’s daughter) before the chief engineer of the railroad suggested the name “Atlantica-Pacifica.” They settled on a shortened form (thank heaven), “Atlanta,” and the rest was history.

History was not one of my better subjects, though, so I invite you to read up on it on Wikipedia.

Seal of the City of Atlanta, Georgia (Public Domain)

Atlanta is home to the Braves (baseball), Falcons (football), and Hawks (basketball). We’ve tried hockey several times, with the IHL Knights and NHL Flames and Thrashers, all of which have either folded or relocated. It’s also the home to The Georgia Institue of Technology (better known as Georgia Tech), Georgia State University, Oglethorpe University, Emory University, and the Black colleges Clark Atlanta University, Morris Brown College, and Spelman College. It’s the home of So So Def Recordings, a major rap and hip-hop label, and a number of music acts, including the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Kriss Kross, and TLC. Joe South and Billy Joe Royal are from the nearby town of Marietta (coincidentally where we live), and Tony Joe White was living here when he wrote the Brook Benton classic, “A Rainy Night In Georgia.”

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, named for two former mayors, William B. Hartsfield (who was mayor when it was built) and Maynard Jackson (who owned many of the concessions by the time the airport was renamed for him) is the busiest airport in the nation, with almost 51 million passengers enplaning in 2016. Three Interstate highways run through the city, I-75, I-85, and I-20, and are all connected by a circular bypass, I-285. Additionally, US Highway 41 runs through Atlanta on its trip from Miami through Chicago and Milwaukee all the way up to Copper Harbor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. On Highway 41 and Georgia Highway 120 in Marietta sits “The Big Chicken,” a KFC restaurant built to look like a chicken, complete with beak that opens and closes and an eye that rolls around. Much navigation in the Atlanta area is relative to the Big Chicken. In fact, when word got out that PepsiCo, which owned KFC at the time, planned on getting rid of the Big Chicken, people were up in arms, worried that they wouldn’t be able to find anything. The company relented and actually repaired the beak and the eye, which had stopped moving for some reason…


Sullivan #atozchallenge


I am, of course, talking about Ed Sullivan.

Embed from Getty Images

Ed was a sports and entertainment reporter for the New York Daily News and was syndicated through The Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate (now Tribune Media Services) who wrote a column called “Toast Of The Town.” In 1948, when TV was in its infancy, he was asked to do a show named after his column, which eventually became The Ed Sullivan Show. The show ran for 23 years and TV critic David Hinckley called it “The last great television show.”

Mary and I have been watching The Best Of The Ed Sullivan Show on Decades every evening (as always, check local listings). Granted, it’s been over 40 years since the last show aired, but we had forgotten just how diverse a show it was. If it was entertainment, Ed had it on his show. No kidding. Musical acts, comedians, circus acts, animal acts, ballet, cast members from Broadway shows, you name it, it was on the show. A lot of comedians got their start on The Ed Sullivan Show, including George Carlin, who included this on his FM & AM album.

Ed gave Elvis Presley his first national exposure. This is from Elvis’ third appearance on the show, and Ed has some very nice words to say about him at the end of this clip.

On February 9, 1964, Ed brought Beatlemania to the US. They were on the next three shows, the last by videotape. I think this is from their first. Sorry it cuts off mid-song.

As well as the bands from the British Invasion, Ed was one of the major promoters of African American talent. Sammy Davis Jr. was a frequent guest, as were Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole. Just in the last week, I’ve seen The Supremes, The Fifth Dimension, Lou Rawls, and Richard Pryor. There wasn’t a prominent Black performer that didn’t appear on Ed’s show, acccording to one TV writer. He took a lot of heat from sponsors for that, but he held firm and treated everyone who appeared on his show with respect.

Ed Sullivan’s show was where many of us encountered acts we wouldn’t see otherwise. And, as George Carlin said, we never got to thank him. Well, thanks, Ed! Those who grew up watching your show thank you for introducing us to a diverse and rich world of entertainment.

Do you have any memories of Ed Sullivan?

Rebuttal #atozchallenge


I think TV stations have gotten out of the practice of stating the opinions of station managers as more TV stations are being run remotely by out-of-state companies and are no longer as much a part of the communities they serve. At one time, stations would choose an issue each week, come up with a position on it, write an editorial and present it at various times throughout the week. Here’s an 1973 editorial from WMAQ-TV in Chicago urging people to put pressure on the Butcher’s Union, who had written into their contract with grocery store chains that meat would not be sold unless a butcher was present, which was from 9 to 6 Monday through Saturday.

That bit at the end about welcoming the opportunity to “present significant opposing viewpoints” was a solicitation for a rebuttal, in this case giving the heads of the Butcher’s Union an opportunity to explain why not selling meat after 6 PM or on Sunday was vital to the rank and file of the union. To make their case, they picked someone who could say “kiss my rump roast” without actually saying it.

I was on the debate team when I was a freshman in high school. In high school, debates matched two teams of two students each, one of which would argue for the year’s proposition (the year I was doing it, it was whether or not the US should start the EPA, a moot issue because President Nixon had created it several months before) and the other against it. These teams were called the Affirmative and the Negative. Each member of each team would have ten minutes to state their case, one kid from the Affirmative side and one from the Negative, then the other kid from each team. Then each team was given five minutes for rebuttal, to try and rip apart the other team’s arguments. This time, the Negative went first, then the Affirmative. I think my partner and I argued more with each other than with the kids we were debating. Needless to say, we didn’t do so well, and I quit the team before the last tournament, much to the chagrin of the debate coach (but the delight of my partner), who was also my Theology teacher. Let’s just say my grade in Theology fell off significantly that quarter.

At least I didn’t get thrown off like Ron White did. Warning: very strong language ahead! NSFW! Send the kids out of the room!

Quandary #atozchallenge


I don’t know how it happened, but evidently I put the wrong date on my Q entry, and rather than being released today, it was released yesterday with my P entry. When I noticed that, I decided, well, what’s done is done, and I’m not going to change it now that it’s out there and people have commented on it.

but that left me with a new dilemma, or if you prefer, quandary: what do I do today? Do I just blow today off, figuring the post is already out there? If I do, that means I don’t have an A to Z post for today. If that were my only post for today, it would mean I broke the chain of days blogging since July 1, 2014, but it won’t be, since I already wrote a Writer’s Workshop post.

So I decided to play it safe and write another Q post for today. It’s pretty easy to come up with another eight-letter word that starts with Q and write a post about it. In fact, I think I already have…