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Jaywalking - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Jay Leno's doing the whole "Do you know American history?" Jaywalking segment.

So far I've learned that we got independence from "pretty much everything" and that "they" wanted us all to be Catholic. (Must have been interesting to the Protestant English!) We got our independence in 1864 and the Mayflower, the Pinto, and the Santa Maria landed at Plymouth Rock. (Well, one out of three... sort of.) Bill Clinton was called "Tricky Dick," and of course, the words to our national anthem are totally mutable.

Of course, if I had a camera pointed at me, I'd probably freeze up, too, and no one called Jay on thinking that anything actually happened on July 4, 1776 (the first signatures hit the DoI on 7/2, and the rest entered over a period of months), but still. Come on man. I know I'm anal knowing several verses of "The Star-Spangled Banner," but is the first really that hard? ;P And England wanted us all to be Catholic? Dude. Religion in school. Please. We have no idea what on earth we're doing here!
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dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Jaywalking always makes me cry. And laugh. But cry a lot.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I know. I'm torn between laughing and screaming, myself.
laureate05 From: laureate05 Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Sometimes I wonder if people intentionally say things that are silly just to get on TV. There's only room for one smarty-pants in the final edit.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
That's the only thought I can comfort myself with in the end. People desperate for a national audience being dumb on purpose.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I have watched Jay Leno doing vox pops where reasonably affluent-looking, middle-class Yanks are shown a world map, with Australia marked (variously) as "North Korea" or "Iran" and watch them point at my country, so marked, and respond to the question being posed, that THAT is the country the US should invade next. O.o

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
And yet, if you labeled Somalia "Australia," they all say that they desperately want to go there, because everyone there is so ultimately cool and better than us.

Well... I'd wager better at geography, anyway! 'Cause if they're not better at geography than we are, I really have to have a good cry for the state of the world... Everyone has to be better at geography, because really, how could anyone be worse and still navigate the planet?!
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Isaac Asimov wrote a short story where a German spy in World War II is caught when he's tricked into revealing he knows the third verse of The Star Spangled Banner which NO real American would know.

I'm pretty bad at geography. I've tried. It just doesn't come. But even I wouldn't mix up Australia with Korea.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Honestly, there are lots of random verses of the anthem. The first, second, and last are usually the same, but the version I'm listening to now has nothing to do with the lyrics on wiki, and I seem to remember another verse entirely when I did the paper for which I learned all the verses to patriotic songs. I always get a kick out of pacifists who want to change the national anthem to "America the Beautiful," whose second verse celebrates the pilgrims taming the wilderness and whose third verse is all about the glory of the military:
Oh beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
'Til all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!

Or, of course, those who prefer "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," without realizing that the instrumental would be a tad confusing at international events, let alone realizing that most of it celebrates American religiosity!
anthem - (Anonymous) - Expand
xntrick From: xntrick Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)
A guy with my university's logo on his sweatshirt appeared on a Jaywalking segment a few years ago and just...yeah. I cringed.

But I swear we're not all morons in LA. :D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
He could undoubtedly do the same thing in Harvard Yard. ;)
From: argyle_s Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, I'll admit, I don't know the first verse to the Star Spangled Banner.

Of course, I could tell you off the top of my head that it was written by Francis Scott Key after he was held aboard a British ship during a battle for Boston Harbor. He'd boarded the ship in order to secure the release of a friend whom the British her holding, and while he was able to secure his friend's release, the Brits held him, his friend, and the Prisoner exchange agent traveling with him until after the battle for fear that they would inform the US forces as to British deployment and force levels prior to the battle.

I always get the name of the Fort wrong though. I know it's Fort McHenry, but only because I went and looked it up.

Tricky Dick is, of course, Richard Nixon. The Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, but only because it was way the hell and gone off course. The first economic system of the Plymouth Rock colony was communism.

I could go on, but I still don't know the words to that bloody song.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, okay. You're excused on grounds of mental block. ;)

And yeah, the ol' Mayflower... hella bad navigation, plus storms. And the rock honestly did not say 1632 at the time they landed, contrary to Schoolhouse Rock.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 11:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I've rarely heard the words to "O Canada." It's almost always instrumental! I know, "O Canada, my home and native land..."
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: June 23rd, 2006 06:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Whenever I watch things like this, I just have to hope that they only show the stupid ones because, hey, it's more entertaining, after all. I mean, 90% of the auditions for AI are cringe-worthy, and yet somehow they still get a bunch of passably good contestants, most of whom we don't even see audition.

All the same, I really would have hoped most Americans would know all that stuff...sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I despair for my country.
keestone From: keestone Date: June 23rd, 2006 08:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay Richard Nixon may have been "Tricky Dick", but you have to admit it isn't too far distant nickname-wise from "Slippery Willy". It's an understandible confusion. ;)
laureate05 From: laureate05 Date: June 23rd, 2006 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Isn't it actually "Slick Willy"?
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: June 23rd, 2006 08:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Back when I used to watch Jay Leno (for it is on very late and I am of the old) I would cry because I knew all the answers to US History. And I'm an Australian who has picked it all up from movies!

Is "My Country Tis of Thee" the one that is amusingly sung to "God Save the Queen"?

(Not that an Australian can gloat about national anthems. Ours is awful - we should voted for Waltzing Matilda. It's got stealing, and ghosts, and suicide and sheep!)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 11:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Is "My Country Tis of Thee" the one that is amusingly sung to "God Save the Queen"?

That's the one. It ends with the obligatory dig at GStQ, though it's a subtle-ish one... the last line is "Great God our King."
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: June 23rd, 2006 09:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Oy. I'm English, and even I'd have got those right, or at least closer. (The actual treaty ending the WoI was 1783? Mayflower landed 1620?) Very few people here know more than the first verse of God Save The Queen, though. :D (I'm not one of those few and have no particular desire to become one.)

Then again, I suspect this sort of thing is common wherever you are. I remember the UK papers printing some sort of survey in which people had been asked a variety of questions, inclusing some of the type "In which US city is the musical Chicago set?" and "In which country are the French Alps?" Approximately two-thirds of the respondents gave the wrong answers. ::headdesk:: Even if you assume that they thought it was a trick question, it seems excessively high.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, they're actually going for the 1776 date (the year the Declaration was signed, which is when Americans date their independence from... more or less, we consider ourselves historically to have been independent at exactly that point at which we announced it to the world, since it was just a minor matter of actually winning the war after that... ;) ), but I'd also take 1783 (the Treaty of Paris) or 1787 (the Constitution, though that's kind of stretching it).

A friend who was a teacher once put "What color was Washington's white horse?" on a history test for extra credit, and lots of people apparently got it wrong.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: June 23rd, 2006 09:31 am (UTC) (Link)
If it's any consolation, there was a survey in the UK about 15 years ago that showed a distressingly large number of people didn't know the words to "God Save the Queen". As most of the words are actually found in the title, at least of the only verse actually used, that's rather sad. Mind you we never had to sing it at school so I suppose we have an excuse.

Jay Leno is shown on cable TV here in Australia. It's perhaps not doing an awful lot for the overseas' image of US citizens.
From: greenwoodside Date: June 23rd, 2006 09:48 am (UTC) (Link)
As a Brownie Guide, I had to learn the first and third verses of God Save The Queen. Urgh. There's some mental storage space wasted.

Oddly enough, the sixth verse of GSTQ isn't widely sung. I wonder why.

Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the King!

From: (Anonymous) Date: June 23rd, 2006 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
One verse has a dig at the Irish, saying "Confound their papist plots"

akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: June 23rd, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
*whispers*: I only know the first verse of the Faroese national anthem!

Well, because that's the one we always sing.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
True. Something along that line. :)
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