Here are some of the stories we have had in our weekly Tidbits. To read our current edition simply click on the tab above for Read Online.
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TIDBITS GOES TO COURT
• A “kangaroo court” has long been a term used for a judicial proceeding in which the outcome has been decided before the case is heard. Surprisingly, though, the term is not Australian in origin, but was first referenced in mid-19th century America. A few theories exist as to how the name came about, none of which seem to be very believable. The most acceptable story simply states “kangaroo” was used since, just like the marsupial bounds away in one direction, the parties involved already know which way things are going to bounce.
• “Court bouillon” is a liquid used to poach fish. The ingredients usually include water, vegetables, seasonings, and either wine or vinegar. The name has nothing to do with the law, however; “court bouillon” is French for “short boil,” referencing the brief length of time the mixture should be boiled in preparation.
• One of the earliest “reality” television shows was The People’s Court, which premiered in 1981. The courtroom attendees were Judge Joseph A. Wapner, bailiff Rusty Burrell, and Doug Llewellyn as the court reporter. Wapner was a no-nonsense judge, careful at all times to maintain his composure and treat all involved parties fairly. He’s not fond of the new breed of court-based shows featuring outlandish judges. In fact, in a 2002 interview, he described TV’s Judge Judy as “discourteous” and “abrasive,” going on to say: “She’s not slightly insulting. She’s insulting in capital letters.”
• In order to make themselves appear more attractive, ladies of the court used to decorate their faces with small patches of adhesive cloth, called “court plaster.” At first, they were used to hide blemishes, scrapes, or warts, but later came to be used in an ornamental fashion. During the 17th century, women would cut them into shapes (such as hearts, stars, crosses, diamonds, circles, or crescents) and place them carefully on the face.
• No single professional tennis player, male or female, dominated the sport as thoroughly as Australian star Margaret Smith Court. She won more than 60 titles in her fifteen years of competition (1960-75), and won not one, but two Grand Slams: As a mixed doubles companion to Ken Fletcher, she won the Australian Open, French Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon in 1963. She repeated this feat on her own as a women’s singles player in 1970. Court was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979.
• Originally a folk singer, Joni Mitchell matured with her audience and reached her creative peak in 1974 with the album Court and Spark. In addition to the adult contemporary hits “Help Me” (#1) and “Free Man in Paris” (#2), the track “Raised on Robbery” broke the Pop Top 100, and “Down to You” won Mitchell a Grammy award for Best Arrangement.
• Whereas America had the Declaration of Independence, France had the Tennis Court Oath. When the Third Estate was denied access to their meeting hall by Louis XVI, the group’s outdoor plans were interrupted by rain. So they met at an indoor tennis court and signed an oath to serve the people rather than their king.
• The dimensions of a basketball court vary depending on the game’s participants. The recommended court size for youngsters (up through junior high school) measures 74 feet long and 42 feet wide. For high school students, the basketball court expands to 84 feet in length by 50 feet in width. For college and the NBA, a full-size court measures 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. The key difference between a college basketball court and an NBA court lies in the three-point line, which is 19 feet 9 inches away for the students, but 23 feet 9 inches out for the professionals.