Jewish World Review Dec. 4, 2003 / 8 Kislev, 5764

Jeff Elder

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Consumer Reports


The sad poem in a romantic comedy; Why do some coins, like quarters and dimes, have ridges?; more


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Q. In the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral," what is the poem read at the funeral? - Ray Richardson, Boone, N.C.

Ray, it is the deeply moving "Funeral Blues" by British-born W.H. Auden (1907-1973). If I had any sense at all, I'd reprint the whole thing. Here, at least, is the last half of it:

He was my North, my South, my East and West. My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong. The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood; For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Actor John Hannah read the poem in the movie, and his reading is included on the soundtrack, listed as "After the Funeral."

Q. Can you help me find a word for the beads that are hung in doorways? There is a Coors in it for you if you find the answer. _Augie Beasley, Charlotte, N.C.

A: Augie, you're not the first reader to offer me a brew.

I CAN'T IMAGINE where you people get the idea that I like to sit around and shoot the breeze over a cold one.

But I can't accept your kind offer. Ethics, dear Augie, ethics. I could never besmirch the sanctity of this hallowed spot.

Especially for a Coors.

Those far-out hangings are called "bead curtains." And back in the late '60s-early '70s, there wasn't much groovier. As a kid in those days I had a fringed leather vest and a brass peace-sign necklace.

Far out, man.

There was a kid about my age who I thought was the coolest dude in the world. He had enormous talent, naturally good looks, charisma, fame, wealth

What happened to you, Michael Jackson?

Q: Why do some coins, like quarters and dimes, have ridges on the sides? - John Lilley, Charlotte, N.C.

A: For the answer to this question, let's turn to our friends at the U.S. Mint.

(Hey Mint guys, can I have some money? PLEEEEEEEEASE. Do you know what it costs just to buy shoes for my kids? Who's gonna miss, say, seven grand? I'll sweep up around the Mint, empty the trash, everything. Just leave me the keys.)

As I was saying. The stingy people at the Mint, who won't even share a LITTLE, say the dollar coin, half dollar, quarter and dime were originally made of gold and silver. Some people would file the edges off the coins to get shavings of the precious metals.

Some coins in circulation were reduced to about half their minted weight. Merchants took to weighing every coin they were passed, which slowed down business.

The grooved, or "reeded" edges prevented shaving, and also made counterfeiting more difficult. The penny and nickel never contained precious metals, so reeding wasn't necessary. None of the coins now contain precious metals.

Quarters, dimes and half dollars have a copper core and an outer layer made of copper and a copper-nickel alloy. Nickels are made from that same alloy. The golden dollar has a copper core, and the alloy layers on each side are copper, zinc, manganese and nickel. The penny, once a copper coin, is now composed of copper-plated zinc.

The Mint continues to use reeded edges because it helps the visually impaired identify the coins. For example, ridges make it easy to identify a dime from a penny.

There are 188 ridges on a dime; 119 on a quarter.

Last year the country produced 7,288,855,000 pennies; 1,230,480,000 nickels; 2,567,000,000 dimes; 3,313,704,000 quarters; 5,600,000 half dollars and 7,597,610 golden dollars.

It costs 10.03 cents to make a golden dollar; 9.63 cents to make a half dollar; 4.29 cents to make a quarter; 1.88 cents to make a dime; 3.13 cents to make a nickel; and 0.81 cents to make a penny. And I'll give anyone those rates in exchange. PLEEEEEEEEASE.

Know why the Mint workers went on strike? They wanted to make less money.

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QUICK QUIZ

1. What likable TV show about a private detective always began with an answering machine message like: "Jim, It's Norma at the market. It bounced. You want us to tear it up, send it back or put it with the others?"

2. Who is the killer in Edgar Allen Poe's pioneering story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue?"

3. What did A. Conan Doyle attempt unsuccessfully to do to Sherlock Holmes in 1894?

___

ANSWERS

1. "The Rockford Files."
2. An orangutan.
3. Kill him off. Doyle was tired of writing mysteries, but the public demanded more about the genius in the deerstalker cap.

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Jeff Elder is a columnist for The Charlotte Observer. Comment or try to stump him by clicking here.

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