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Pop Gets It Wrong

Misinformation spreads like bedbugs. For centuries, humans have clung to articles of faith gleaned from parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, authority figures, community leaders, and other notoriously unreliable sources.

These rumors, superstitions, misinterpretations, urban legends, and baseless theories are often nothing more than quaint, harmless nonsense. Then again, try telling that to those who believe them.

The pop culture, fueled by blogs, YouTube, and Twitter, should never be confused with anything serious or responsible. So just for the fun of it, see if you’re wise to these pop-culture fallacies.

Jack Daniels  This is neither the man nor the booze. The man’s name was Jack Daniel, whose Jack Daniel Distillery was licensed in 1866. Thus, his fine Tennessee whiskey is Jack Daniel’s, with an apostrophe.

Louis Armstrong  Jazz aficionados are not amused when they hear his first name pronounced “loo-ee.” In his vocal on the 1964 hit song “Hello, Dolly!” Armstrong pointedly articulates “loo-iss” when he says, “This is Louis, Dolly.”

St. Patty’s Day  Everyone knows this refers to March 17, St. Patrick’s Day—or does it? How you celebrate it is your business, but how you spell it is St. Paddy’s Day.

Santa’s reindeer  Good for you if you can name them all, but let’s just talk about “Donner” (of “Donner and Blitzen” fame). Turns out Donner is an infamous pass in the northern Sierra Nevada. Santa’s reindeer is Donder, with a second d.

Daylight Savings Time  Few would think twice about the phrase as written here, but it’s supposed to be “daylight saving time”—no capitals, no second s in “saving.”

“I’m laughing all the way to the bank”  This defiant proclamation has become a cliché. It implies that the speaker is so rich that nothing bothers him. It misquotes a celebrated pianist named Liberace, whose flamboyance some considered bad form in the strait-laced 1950s. After one scathing review, Liberace wrote a letter to the critic, wryly informing him, “I cried all the way to the bank.”

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame”  Everyone sings baseball’s anthem wrong. The second line, which everyone thinks is, “Take me out to the crowd,” is really “Take me out with the crowd.” The fifth line, which everyone thinks is, “For it’s root, root, root for the home team,” is actually, “Let me root, root, root for the home team.”

Let’s give the last word on this to former major-leaguer Larry Anderson, who pitched for a few teams in the 1970s: “In the seventh inning, fans all get up and sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’—and they’re already there.”

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