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  Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "A Balloon In Cactus"


by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand
Three is the most important number of all time. Why? Dividing things into threes is universally acceptable. There's Aristotle's principle of the three unities of time, place and action. There's Freud's id, ego and superego. There's the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three strikes and you're out. Third time's a charm. Bad things happen in threes; people die in threes.

Another one is that things are supposed to be funnier in threes. What if there'd only been two Stooges?

If you, the intelligent reader, doubt that three is the most important number of all time, read on --

How many Kings at Christmas? Three.

What's Jerry Seinfeld's lucky number? Nine, or, three times three.

How many dogs in the night? Three Dog Night. From 1969-1974, nobody had more Top 10 hits, moved more records, or sold more concert tickets. During this period Three Dog Night was undoubtedly the most popular band in America: twenty-one consecutive Top 40 hits and twelve straight gold LPs. By late '75, they had sold nearly 50 million records. (http://www.threedognight.com)

How many Oscars have been won by Jack Nicholson? Three. When he won for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" he said "I guess this proves there are as many nuts in the Academy as anywhere else!" His second and third wins were for "Terms of Endearment," and "As Good As It Gets." Of Jack, onetime girlfriend, Karen Mayo-Chandler said, "His idea of being sexy is dressing in blue satin boxer shorts and fluorescent orange socks, and chasing me around the room with a ping pong paddle."

For which movie did Joanne Woodward win the Oscar? "The Three Faces of Eve." If Eve hadn't been three-faced, Mrs. Newman might not have won. Woodward's first movie was "Count Three and Pray," in 1955. Another little-known fact about her is that, when she was only nine (three times three), she jumped into the limousine of megastars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier at the Atlanta premiere of Leigh's blockbuster, "Gone With the Wind," and sat on Olivier's lap. He recalled the incident three decades later.

How many James Bond films did Sean Connery make? Six, or, two times three. How many Golden Globes did he win? Three. When much younger, Connery trained for three years and entered the Mr. Universe Contest. He came in third.

How many times has Jennifer Lopez slithered down the aisle? Need you ask? Three. And her J Lo brand, which opened its first store (300 sq. ft.) in Moscow, earns her over $300 million U.S. annually. According to Forbes magazine, Moscow has more billionaires than any other city, including New York. How many billionaires does Moscow have? It has 33.

How many movies did James Dean make before he was killed in a car crash? Three. Unless you want to be let in on a secret. He first appeared in a tiny bit as a sailor in the 1952 Martin & Lewis film, "Sailor Beware." It doesn't count that, back in 1951, he was an audience warm-up guy, and stunt tester for the Goodson Todman Productions' hit game show, "Beat the Clock."

What animal got a lot of coverage in the New York Times' best-seller,"Life of Pi?" The Three-Toed Sloth. "If you came upon a sleeping three-toed sloth in the wild, two or three nudges should suffice to awaken it; it will then look sleepily in every direction but yours. Why it should look about is uncertain since the sloth sees everything in a Magoo-like blur," wrote author Yann Martel.

Mister Magoo, a crotchety, nearsighted, lovable old coot, first appeared in the 1949 UPA short, "Ragtime Bear." Magoo, whose first name was Quincy, was voiced by Jim Backus. How many television series did Magoo star in? Three.

More television history in threes can be found with Bob Newhart, who starred in three series. In fact, Bob's first album, "The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart," won three Grammies. Modesty becomes Bob Newhart, who said in a July interview for PBS' "American Masters," that after the Korean war, he and two buddies would drive to L.A. on weekend passes. "We would drive west on Sunset Boulevard and look at all the big houses and wonder who was living there," he reflected. "Now I'm in one of them."

The Diamondbacks hit three home runs in the bottom of the third inning, including the first major league homer by Connor Jackson. His idol is Babe Ruth, whose Yankee jersey number was three.

NFL cornerback, Marlin Jackson (no relation to baseball's Connor), described his superstitions this way: "Whenever I go through a door, I always tap it three times. I don't know where I got that from, I just started doing it one day. I always do something like that three times for good luck -- my old jersey number was No. 3 and my favorite number is three."

Joe DiMaggio is the only player to get at least one hit in All-Star games at Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, and Ebbets Field. That's three, and for the Yankee Clipper, three's not a crowd.

To top it off, Three has its own website: http://www.three.com/ which deals with mobile phones, music downloads, video games, and it's in Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, UK, and places we can't pronounce.

And finally, people who chugalug three Cosmopolitans, are usually three sheets to the wind.

Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand

"A Balloon In Cactus"
August 20, 2005 column
Email: maggie@maggievanostrand.com
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