This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich man, Poor Man, Beggar man Thief: The bouncing of a basketball as affirmation of self, occupation,marital status, and perhaps even worthy of a billion dollars..

March Madness began yesterday with 16 College Basketball games played in approximately 12 plus hours. Today there will be another 16  played  with 8 in the afternoon and eight in the evening until the Am hours. On Saturday and Sunday there will be eight more games each day as the original field of 64 becomes what is called the Sweet Sixteen. Next Thursday through Sunday  the Sweet Sixteen will become the Elite Eight and finally the Final Four to decided  April 5th-April 7th  in North Texas (Dallas).  In a nut shell that is March Madness.

As one would expect there is quite a bit of interest in these games. Especially in our area because  both University of Michigan and Michigan State are playing and predicted to do well. Both schools won yesterday and will play again in the next round on Saturday. Michigan will play Texas in a game nationally televised on the CBS television network at approximately 5:30 pm.  Michigan State will play Ivy League champion Harvard at approximately 8:30 pm Saturday evening on the TNT cable television  provider.

A new wrinkle this year which  has nothing to do with college sports is contest by a mortgage company, that promises to award  a reported one billion dollars to an individual who submits a perfect bracket. A bracket is simply a two pronged pitch fork lying on its side which like bunk beds contains the names of two contestants or in this case schools. One wins and advances or one loses and goes home as their season is over. Michigan vs Texas is a bracket. Winning all one's brackets wins the national championship

In the case of individual who correctly picks the winner of each and every game the prize could  be a billion dollars.That has tongues wagging, and writers writing. 

Yesterday a newspaper headlined , "It took one NCAA tournament game for 80 percent of people to lose their chance of a billion dollars.

That  is one way to look at an eleven seed (a ranking from 1 to 16 with the higher numbers being lower) upsetting a  number 5 seed, but is nothing new. In fact pre-occupation with presumed prognostic events pre-dates our earliest school yard memories by centuries.

For this writer that would be Kindergarten recess. The girls jumped rope  and played jacks which also involved  a bouncing ball. I also remember from grade school  a device of folded paper which fit over the hand and opened  like a flower to reveal quadrants.

"Cootie catchers," the Mrs. said without hesitation. Origami skills necessary  to make the catcher put this  in say the third grade level however.

The boys, seemingly  more interested  in the then and there played marbles and bounced bubble gum cards off the walls. The card that actually hit the wall but remained the closest to wall, won.  In a variant the cards were tossed with the one  that flew the furthest was the winner.  The winner captured the loser's card. Baseball cards were in still vogue in the third grade, but as one's horizon expanded success in cards was believed to indicative of future success.

A dozen or more  years or were required to determine what became of us or who if any we would marry.

My father who had madding sense of logic which I always found infuriating. Once he told me, "if you are young and single and hang around a place long enough you will probably wind up marrying someone who went to school there." 

That would explain how my wife went to the University of Michigan. 

The rest of it ? Who knows? But we all want to find out. The closely scrutinized bouncing basketball as tea leaves is part identification of what we once were in our supposed prime. What we are  now, and what we will become when old age says firmly that we are not what we think. 

Funny how many literary references come come from  chants of children's games  and a poem by A.A. Milne.

Thus the following from Wikipedia...

The most common modern version is:
Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar Man, Thief.[1]
The most common American version is:
Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar Man, Thief,
Doctor, Lawyer, (or "Merchant")
Indian Chief.[1]


A similar rhyme has been noted in William Caxton's, The Game and Playe of the Chesse (c. 1475), in which pawns are named: "Labourer, Smith, Clerk, Merchant, Physician, Taverner, Guard and Ribald."[1]
The first record of the opening four professions being grouped together is in William Congreve's Love for Love (1695), which has the lines:
A Soldier and a Sailor, a Tinker and a Taylor,
Had once a doubtful strife, sir.[1]
When James Orchard Halliwell collected the rhyme in the 1840s, it was for counting buttons with the lines: "My belief - a captain, a colonel, a cow-boy, a thief."[2] The version printed by William Wells Newell in Games and Songs of American Children in 1883 was: "Rich man, Poor man, beggar-man, thief, Doctor, lawyer (or merchant), Indian chief", and it may be from American tradition that the modern lyrics solidified.[1]

Alternative versions

A. A. Milne's Now We are Six (1927) had the following version of "Cherry stones":
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief,
Or what about a cowboy, policeman, jailer, engine driver, or a pirate chief?
Or what about a ploughman or a keeper at the zoo,
Or what about a circus man who lets the people through?
Or the man who takes the pennies on the roundabouts and swings,
Or the man who plays the organ or the other man who sings?
Or what about the rabbit man with rabbits in his pockets
And what about a rocket man who's always making rockets?
Oh it's such a lot of things there are and such a lot to be
That there's always lots of cherries on my little cherry tree.[3]
The "tinker, tailor" rhyme is one part of a longer counting or divination game, often played by young girls to foretell their futures; it runs as follows:
When shall I marry?
This year, next year, sometime, never.
What will my husband be?
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich-man, poor-man, beggar-man, thief.
What will I be?
Lady, baby, gypsy, queen.
What shall I wear?
Silk, satin, cotton, rags (or silk, satin, velvet, lace)
How shall I get it?
Given, borrowed, bought, stolen.
How shall I get to church?
Coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, cart.
Where shall I live?
Big house, little house, pig-sty, barn.
During the divination, the girl will ask a question and then count out a series of actions or objects by reciting the rhyme. The rhyme is repeated until the last of the series of objects or actions is reached. The last recited term or word is that which will come true. Buttons on a dress, petals on a flower, bounces of a ball, number of jumps over a rope, etc., may be counted.
There are innumerable variations of the rhyme:

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