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February 23, 2005

'Overrated and underrated' things

Just as I was beginning to worry about not having anything to say in these twice-weekly columns, along comes an issue of one of my favorite magazines, American Heritage, and that usually provides enough controversy for at least a few paragraphs of commentary. This one is the annual list of "Overrated and Underrated" things and that always provides a basis for contention, or at least a different opinion.

Actually, there are so many opinions expressed in the magazine's lead article, it would take several columns to deal with all of them. So, I'll just choose a few of the most irritating pieces and see where that leads us.

No. 1 on the list of "most overrated" is the Hershey chocolate bar. Right there I have to get a grip and realize that a difference of opinion is normal. The writer of this segment, Patricia Volk, misses the foil wrapper, now a paper version, but most of all she says the bar tastes almost as bad as Mississippi mud. Have you had one lately? Do you agree with her assessment? As for the most underrated candy bar, she finds a basis for the Butterfinger and gives several reasons why she likes that piece of candy.

The most overrated Civil War general, according to Michael Korda, is none other than good old Robert E. Lee, and the writer states the reasons for his choice. The most overrated comic strip, as chosen by Rob Goulart, is Peanuts, by the late Charles Shulz. No doubt millions of readers would disagree with this choice. For the underrated laurel, Barnaby is the writer's choice.

The most overrated college football star was Notre Dame's George Gipp, the pass receiver who was portrayed on the silver screen by none other than ex-President Ronald Reagan. As detailed in the magazine by Ray Robinson, George Gipp may never have whispered the plea to Coach Knute Rockne about winning one for the Gipper. Indeed, according to Mr. Robinson, George was never called "Gipper" by anyone, other than the film's screen writer.

Finally, to wind this up, I found a strange pair of choices for most overrated and most underrated musical. Both awards went to the same play, "My Fair Lady." That strikes me as odd, except that they were tapped by two different writers. Personally, I thought the play was fantastic and I often hum one of the many tunes from it.