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Sat, Oct. 19

Williams: Needed things

In 1991, Stephen King wrote “Needful Things”, a novel about a shopkeeper who sells goods with which his customers have deep-seated connections. Well, this column has nothing to do with any of that.

This column is about things we truly need in life. High on my suggested “needed” list are staples such as bacon, football, puppies, peppy cars with five-speed transmissions, more hair, sensible shoes, peach pies and Western movies.

On the other hand, we don’t need everything we have. We don’t need words we can’t pronounce such as “Otorhinolaryngologist”. If I ever really wanted to be one of these, I’d probably put Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor on my business card instead. Another word we don’t need is “Floccinaucinihilipilification.” This is actually the longest non-technical word in the English language and it means that something is meaningless or worthless. Yeah, I’d say.

As long as we’re on the subject, we also don’t need things such as “iambic pentameters.” Listen, I’m over 70 years old and while I’ve attempted to write poetry once in a while, I’m not sure I’d know how to confront a pentameter in a dark alley. According to the small print I’ve read, “iambic” refers to an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. I’m stressed just hearing this. I’ve also learned that small groups of syllables in poetry are called feet. If I can’t pronounce what an ear, nose and throat doctor is called, I don’ t even want to know how you refer to a doctor for syllable feet.

We do need more popcorn in our lives. We need Coke soft drinks that don’t rot our insides away. We should be able to expect prime-of-life performance from our geriatric bodies.

We need fewer laws and even fewer lawyers and even fewer politicians. We need more Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies. We need fewer speed traps. We need more uncontrollable laughing attacks. We need to yawn less frequently during job interviews. We need more/less ogling and blushing, but I can’t remember which. I’d wager that we need more lumberjacks and fewer lobbyists. We need more passion. We need less aggravation. We need alcohol that doesn’t cause hangovers. We don’t need rain during important sports events.

Warning: The following three paragraphs are serious. I think we need fine dramatic performances coming out of Hollywood. I appreciate actors such as George C. Scott, Gregory Peck and Kelsey Grammar. These aren’t the only three, of course. Even though this is a “flip” column, I realize that great acting is a matter of taste. I’ll also point out that better writers of drama in Hollywood wouldn’t hurt.

OK, I’m still serious. As much as I follow the NFL, I’d like to see some decisions made on values, not just dollars and cents. If players can’t stay off drugs, or can’t stop with the domestic abuse, they shouldn’t wear a uniform of the league. I realize that most professional athletes are young, relatively uninformed about life and are overly endowed with testosterone, but as long as American youth watches them, they need to act like intelligent adults.

My final serious point in this column is that we need college professors who are dedicated to only one goal: to educate students and to prepare them to succeed in the real world.

Professors need to ditch their special agendas and realize that if their imprint upon graduates does not directly advance the interests of those graduates in life, those professors shouldn’t be in the classroom.

I guess that’s about it. Oh, one thing I forgot; we definitely need fewer rules of punctuation.

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