Saturday the 16th marks the 4-year anniversary of this column. I tried to convince DR managing editor Glen Faison that the proper method of celebrating a column’s fourth year was to put it smack dab on the front page blown up corner to corner, but obviously he didn’t buy it.
So instead, I will simply focus this entire column on the number 4.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR—In 1977 my mom gave me a subscription to Marvel’s Fantastic Four comic book. One of my favorite issues was when Reed Richards a.k.a. Mister Fantastic was stuck in the Negative Zone, an alternate antimatter dimension.
Now in 2011 you can simply Google “negative zone” and get detailed info on just what it was all about. Back in the day, however, you had to read a ton of comic books and cross reference those with others. I knew about what super villains lived there, what sort of creatures inhabited it and the dangers inherent in visiting it. Why, I would have become a Negative Zone scholar if I hadn’t, you know, discovered girls.
THE PREHISTORIC FOUR—While “The Flintstones” had other characters like Pebbles and Bamm Bamm , Joe Rockhead and Mr. Slate, the show was primarily about the relationships between the four main characters-- Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Barney and Betty Rubble. I learned several life lessons from the show including:
1. Drive a hybrid car.
2. Just accept that often the animals that run your household appliances are going to make wiseacre comments from time to time.
3. If you start running in your house it will somehow magically become infinitely long and your furniture will repeat itself every 10 feet or so.
4. It’s okay for a man to wear a dress as long as it promotes baseball unity (Fred’s San Francisco Giants’ orange and black evening gown set off with an LA Dodger blue tie).
“4” BY FOREIGNER—Who could forget such classic songs as “Urgent”, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and “Juke Box Hero” on their chart-topping 1981 album?
This is also the record where some of the members of the band that started out as a sextet discovered royalty checks divided by four were bigger and sacked two members.
UNLUCKY FOUR--Four is considered an unlucky number in certain Asian cultures because it sounds like the word "death." Consequently, many of their numbered product lines skip the number four.
Nokia cell phones have no series beginning with a 4 and when Microsoft Windows released their fourth version they called it “Windows 95."
I get that, but calling the Beatles “The Fab 95” would just be confusing.
THE FOUR GREAT ELEMENTS—The four great elements are of course earth, wind, fire and water. Like Foreigner though, Earth, Wind & Fire jettisoned Water for fatter paychecks.
19 > 4 —Before I think I’m all that because “The Last Laugh” turns four this month, I should mention that my brudda Kelvin’s column “The Other Side” has been running for 19 straight years.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my younger brother for paving the way for me, but dagnabit, just once I would like a Daily Republic reader to confuse him for me instead of the other way around.
What usually happens is someone walks up and says they really enjoy reading my articles. They then cite a particular one they read recently that presented a nuanced, cogent opinion on a particular topic.
I then have to tell them that Kelvin wrote that column and explain that I write about much weightier matters like whether or not we should chisel out some trousers to cover the Chief Solano bare-bootied /thonged statue downtown.
Their reaction is to cough nervously, avert their eyes and, mumble that they, uh, like my stuff too.
I perform this humiliating little ritual so often that, to be efficient, I typed up a tersely-worded statement declaring who I am, laminated it and read it to people like a cop informing them of their Miranda Rights. Hopefully by the 5th anniversary I'll have it memorized.
Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at *sigh* firstname.lastname@example.org