Bless our heart, under authoritarian rule, loyalty is regarded as more important than competence....

Bob Garner: Johnny one-note

Bob Garner

Bob Garner


Sunday, May 13, 2018

I could make a case that no one has ever been more persistently argumentative than me.

Now I’m reaping what I’ve sowed, right there in the exact same weedy, thorny field known as Facebook. Yes, a troll is lurking, determined to exact a toll in the form of my agreement with his theories.

In my earlier enthusiasm, I used to imagine that “trolling” was one form of fishing for people. I’m only recently realizing that even without guile, it was more like trying to get them to “rise to the bait.”

The “luring” interpretation actually was how the term was used in the early days of social media. Then it changed to describe a malicious figure repeatedly demanding the tribute of assent.

It took me forever to catch on. God has a real sense of irony and humor, and I really have no choice but to laugh along with him. God, I mean, not the troll.


An old Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart song called “Johnny One-Note” had lyrics no doubt drawn from an even older joke — the one about the fiddler who claimed all other musicians were only searching for the perfect note, while he had found it.

“Poor Johnny one-note, yelled willy nilly … Until he was blue in the face. For holding one note was his ace.”

I once heard an eminently sensible man say, “If someone asks, or the moment seems appropriate, state your position quietly, respectfully and briefly. Once. Don’t keep on about it until they seek more, because it doesn’t strengthen with repetition.”

In the military, a subordinate may express a position contrary to that of his superior officer or non-com up to a point. Beyond that, there may be a reputation for insubordination that gray-heads of the particular service will have to settle in some unpleasant manner.

The ones who figure out where that point lies become the gray-heads.

In civilian life, it’s usually wise to choose the quiet, subordinate position in both worldview and tactics. The last shall be first, and all that.

You don’t want the Scoutmaster thinking you’re arguing during a hike about who’s right and will thus achieve the greatest rank. Especially if the leader is too far ahead to hear you audibly … but somehow knows anyhow. He might ask you about it later around the campfire. Whoa!

To use another analogy, if there aren’t enough early common interests and views for someone to agree to go out with you, it makes little sense to keep asking them on dates using the same lines. News flash: THEY AREN’T GOING OUT WITH YOU. PERIOD!

Not now anyway. Find people to date who can grasp and appreciate what you’re saying at this moment in time. See whether relationships develop with any in particular. The person you asked out earlier may come around later, but if they do, it won’t be because you waited for them under that bridge.

Relationship is indispensable. Anything else is only creepy.

The perfect amount of salt adds wonderful savor to food. Using salt without care and restraint may preserve meat and other foods, but it will grievously harm you, to say nothing of ruining many budding relationships. The things preserved into ossification could be your opinions and attitudes.

Thoughtful, balanced discussion can throw a lot of light on most subjects. But if the tongue — the voltage regulator, if you will — isn’t working right, repetitive argument produces only damaging heat, not illumination.

“OK, your superior arguments have caused me to change my mind and come over to your side.”

Said no one ever. Ha-ha-ha.

Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker. Contact him at bgarner2662@gmail.com.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


May 27, 2018

"The Garden is Open" sign is still there.

The tulips and azaleas, though well past their height, still glorify the yard.

It is still worth a special trip to Chapel Hill to experience this lovely, well-planned, colorful garden.

But the twin sisters who planned every part of their grounds and…

May 23, 2018

Sometimes presentation is overrated. Eton Mess is a British dessert that’s an unapologetic mishmash of fruit, cream and crumbled meringues folded together and plunked in a glass or bowl. It’s the kind of mix that appeals to kids and adults alike. While you might call it messy,…


May 20, 2018

Weeks after college graduations and weeks before high school ceremonies, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is having what the Rev. Bob Hudak calls a “commencement” today.

It is not a commencement in which diplomas will be conferred but a commencement in the sense of the beginning of…


May 20, 2018

I read recently about a mama raccoon and her four babies falling through the ceiling and onto the living room couch of a Michigan home.

The closest I ever came to that was a lone dead squirrel that wormed its way around the uncompleted mounting of a new ceiling light fixture, was apparently…

Bob Garner

May 20, 2018


Dear Short Answers: There is a woman in town who is a stay-at-home mom with three children. Every year (actually, three times a year), she throws the most lavish birthday parties for her kids. It makes the rest of us moms look like slackers. Every year, our own kids ask why…

Short Answers

May 19, 2018


■ Burning Bush United Holy Church, 610 N.C. 43 North, Vanceboro, will have quarterly meeting at 11 a.m. Sunday.

■ Carson Memorial Pentecostal Holiness Church, 1710 Pactolus Highway, will have its annual homecoming service at 11 a.m. Sunday. The group Unshackled will be musical guests.…

May 18, 2018

Capsules of movies playing locally. New releases are indicated with an asterisk.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR — The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. (2…


May 18, 2018

Diners at Oklahoma’s Tulsa Club must have thought there was something funny going on that spring evening when more than two dozen men met on the roof and spent several hours singing old songs.

Customer complaints about the noise caused the next meeting to be moved to the Hotel Tulsa, but the…


May 18, 2018


Art from Pitt County Schools high school students will be on exhibit from today through June 10 in the Commons Gallery. An opening reception will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. today.

The Greenville Museum of Art is at 802 Evans St. Call 758-1946 or visit gmoa.org.

Gray Gallery

The exhibit “110…


May 16, 2018

Wingstop is a new restaurant at 1885 E. Fire Tower Road next to Baskin Robbins Ice Cream. Enjoy ample seating at artfully decorated tables with an aviation theme, listen to upbeat music and order an array of items from wings to sides from the easy-to-navigate menu.

Wingstop offers three styles of…

328 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
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