15 Famous Thinkers Who Couldn’t Spell

Words can be tricky things, often spelled quite differently than how they sound, coming from foreign languages with different sets of rules, or being just plain weird. It’s no wonder then that so many people struggle with spelling, even those who are generally regarded as having some seriously brilliant minds. No, it’s not just grade-schoolers, college students, and the everyday man who struggles with the age old “i before e” dilemma, but also scientists, writers, and world leaders. Here, you’ll find a list of great thinkers who made great strides in their respective fields, but never could quite conquer the perils of spelling.

  1. Alfred Mosher Butts

    Unfamiliar with this name? Well, you’re probably familiar with what he created, though it might surprise you to learn that Butts was a bad speller. He created the iconic and still quite popular game Scrabble, which requires one to be adept at spelling. The inventor himself was admittedly not the best speller, often scoring only 300 points on average in a game of Scrabble.

  2. William Faulkner

    Faulkner wasn’t a truly terrible speller, but if you take a look at his original manuscripts there are some definite errors the iconic Southern author wouldn’t have wanted to see in print. Despite setting many of his famous books and short stories in the difficult to spell and pronounce Yoknapatawpha County, Faulkner’s editors confirm that despite their repeated attempts to point out his mistakes, he made spelling errors all through his career.

  3. F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Few writers are so known for their bad spelling as Fitzgerald. How bad, you say? Fitzgerald wasn’t even able to spell the name of one of his closest friends, Hemingway, often misaddressing him in correspondence and papers as “Earnest Hemminway.” The editor of his collected letters called him a “lamentable speller” who struggled with words like “definite” and “criticism.” Still, his poor spelling didn’t seem to do the author any harm, and many of his works are regarded as literary masterpieces today.

  4. Ernest Hemingway

    Ernest Hemingway may not have had much room to judge when it came to his friend Fitzgerald not spelling his name correctly. Long before the days of spell check, Hemingway had to rely on newspaper and book editors to catch his mistakes, a job which they often complained would be a lot easier if he would make an effort to spell things correctly (though Hemingway retorted that that’s what they were being paid to do).

  5. John Keats

    The brilliant Keats died quite young at only 26, so one can hardly blame him for not spending time worrying about spelling in his written works. If readers want to get a taste of his more interesting spelling choices, they only need turn to his letters. They record many odd spelling choices, including the misspelling of purple as “purplue” in a letter to his love Fanny Brawne, a misspelling which she questioned and Keats tried to cover up by saying he was creating a new combination of purple and blue.

  6. Jane Austen

    Jane Austen may have a place among the literary elites today, but when it came to spelling and grammar she wasn’t too handy with either. Research into her personal letters and manuscripts has exposed numerous errors in spelling and grammar that were corrected later by her early editor, William Gifford. One of her favorite misspellings? She often spelled “scissors” as “scissars.”

  7. Fannie Flagg

    Actress and author Fannie Flagg has had great success in her literary career, most notably with the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe which was later adapted into a highly successful film. Yet writing never came easy to Flagg, who has dyslexia. She has said she was challenged as a writer because she was “severely dyslexic and couldn’t spell, still can’t spell. So I was discouraged from writing and embarrassed.” Flagg obviously overcame her embarrassment, and has since written numerous books and screenplays.

  8. Albert Einstein

    Being bilingual, one could hardly blame Einstein for being a bad speller in English. Yet it wasn’t just in English that Einstein struggled. He also was a pretty bad speller in his native German, and got even worse when he began using English more regularly. Of course, Einstein didn’t make those same errors when it came to writing mathematical equations, a fact that helped to make his name synonymous with genius today.

  9. Winston Churchill

    While today Churchill may be regarded as a great leader and speaker, he had a rough start in his schooling, always struggling with spelling and writing. He was a notoriously bad speller throughout his life, but he never let it hold him back. He battled through his difficulties, which also included a speech impediment, to leave his mark on the world.

  10. Leonardo Da Vinci

    Leonardo helped define the term “Renaissance man,” excelling in both the arts and the sciences, but spelling may not have been his forte. He is quoted as having once said, “You should prefer a good scientist without literary abilities than a literate one without scientific skills.” Some historians believe he may have been dyslexic (there is no way to prove that, of course) as his journals and writings are riddled with spelling errors common with dyslexics.

  11. Agatha Christie

    Agatha Christie penned some of the bestselling books ever created, but the author admitted once, “I, myself, was always recognized … as the “slow one” in the family. It was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was … an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day.” Despite her struggles with spelling, Christie was an enormously successful writer, and has gone down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling novelist of all time.

  12. John F. Kennedy Jr.

    JFK is a figure that has fascinated the American public for decades, but what many may not know is just how bad of a speller the famous president was. He was outed for his poor spelling by his wife, Jackie, though she was a French literature major in college and would later become a book editor, so she may have been a pretty harsh critic.

  13. W.B. Yeats

    Yeats is yet another famous author who, while quite adept at writing, was pretty terrible when it came to spelling. To see examples of his spelling errors, one need only find a copy of his collected letters which contain misspellings like “feal” for “feel” and “sleap” for “sleep”. Despite his inadequacy when it came to spelling, Yeats was a prolific and very successful writer, winning a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.

  14. John Irving

    John Irving is another author on this list whose poor spelling was the result of dyslexia. Sadly, Irving wasn’t recognized as having dyslexia until much later in his life, stating, “The diagnosis of dyslexia wasn’t available in the late fifties — bad spelling like mine was considered a psychological problem by the language therapist who evaluated my mysterious case. When the repeated courses of language therapy were judged to have had no discernible influence on me, I was turned over to the school psychiatrist.” Irving’s struggles with spelling affected him deeply, and he even reflects on them in one of his most famous novels, The World According to Garp, stating that English is such a mishmash of different languages that no one should ever feel stupid for being a bad speller.

  15. Benjamin Franklin

    Ben Franklin wasn’t a particularly good speller in his time, and actually felt that the alphabet as it stood (and still does today) was what was holding so many back from being able to spell. In a letter he once wrote, “You need not be concerned in writing to me about your bad spelling, for in my opinion as our alphabet now stands the bad spelling, or what is called so, is generally best, as conforming to the sound of the letters and of the words.” Whether you struggle with spelling or not, you have to admit he has a point, as many words are spelled quite differently than they sound.

* Today’s article brought to you by www.onlinecollegecourses.com

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10 Things You Should Never Carry in Your Purse or Wallet

We carry a great risk of becoming victims of identity theft every day, and it all starts in the wallet and purse. Every piece of plastic, every password, and every receipt you put in your wallet or purse could be the very thing thieves use to compromise your finances and steal your identity. The best way to protect yourself and your belongings is to use common sense and not carry the following items (click the links for more detailed information):

  1. Social Security card and number

    Your Social Security number is incredibly valuable and it can be detrimental if someone gets access to it. You may use your Social Security number for work documentation and government services, but very rarely will you have to show your Social Security card. If your card gets into the wrong hands, there’s no telling what a person will do with it. Thieves can open a credit card in your name, apply for loans, and much worse. If you can’t memorize this number for the life of you, do not write the numbers on paper and leave it in your wallet or purse. Even if you delete the dashes, a thief can figure out what number this is because all SSN have nine digits. Be smart and leave your Social Security card and number in a safe place with other important documents.

  2. Passport

    When traveling abroad, you can’t really get around carrying your passport on you. However, American travelers are advised to pack extra passport photos and a photocopy of their passport information in case it is lost or stolen. These documents and photos should be left in the hotel, preferably in a hotel safe. This will make getting a replacement easier and protect you from other identity theft dangers.

  3. Checkbook

    It might be convenient to keep your checkbook on hand, but it can be a big mess if someone gets ahold of it. One look at your checkbook and a thief will have access to your account number, routing number, and possibly your signature. If they’re really sneaky, they might be able to forge your signature and cash a check. Avoid this fiasco by keeping your checkbook at home in a safe place.

  4. Passwords

    Passwords, such as PIN numbers, e-mail passwords, and even alarm codes should not be carried around in your wallet or purse. It doesn’t take much for a thief to figure out that four digits could be your PIN number. If you cannot remember important passwords that you need to use on a regular basis, then store them on a protected computer or phone.

  5. Gift cards and certificates

    Many people carry gift cards and certificates in their wallet because they never know when they’ll end up using them. This might seem convenient, but if your wallet or purse gets stolen, you’ll be kicking yourself for not leaving these gifts at home. Gift cards and certificates are as good as money, and you don’t have to show an ID to use them. Avoid this risk by leaving gift cards and certificates at home until you’ve picked a day to use them.

  6. USB devices

    As wonderful and convenient as USBs are, they can be very problematic if a thief gets ahold of one. Many USBs contain confidential files and personal information that a thief would love to have. Not to mention, all of your hard work and important documents could be lost in an instant if someone snags your purse or wallet.

  7. Receipts

    Many people disregard receipts and leave them hanging around or stuffed into a purse or wallet, but these small pieces of paper can be quite telling, especially to a smart thief. Some receipts contain your credit card information and signature, which opens the door for identity theft and forgery. Also, if a thief has access to your address and they can see what you bought on a receipt, they may go as far as to break into your house.

  8. Unprotected cell phone

    A cell phone without a password is a dangerous thing to carry around. A thief will have full access to your e-mail and other personal information stored in your phone. Placing a password on your phone could deter a thief from taking your phone in the first place and prevent them from accessing any personal information. If your phone does not have a password option, then carry it in a pocket or on your body instead of in a bag.

  9. Too many credit cards

    Carrying all of your credit cards in your wallet can be very risky and quite the hassle if they get stolen. Not only will you have to cancel each and every credit card, but you’ll also have to use cash or write checks while you wait on new credit cards to be sent. To avoid this fiasco, only carry the cards you use on a regular basis and leave the rest at home so you’re not completely S.O.L.

  10. Large amounts of cash

    Carrying a lot of cash in your wallet or purse is risky for many obvious reasons. If you get mugged, you’ll be out a lot of money. It’s never a bad idea to keep some cash on you, especially when traveling, but be sure to bring only as much as you need and don’t flash it around for others to see.

* Today’s article brought to you by www.criminaljusticedegreesguide.com

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Cooking With Cops: Crime Scene Yams

Okay, take off those gun belts and grab a spatula. Today you’ll be Cooking With Cops! And the first recipe is…

Crime Scene Yams

The Evidence (Ingredients):

4 large yams

6 tsp butter (yes, only 6, Paula Deen)

juice of 1/2 lime (or a couple of good squirts of lime juice from a plastic grocery store lime)

juice of 1/2 orange (or 1/4 cup of orange juice, the breakfast kind)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp ground ginger (No Mary Ann this time)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup honey (do not substitute this ingredient!)

1 cup dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is okay if that’s what you have, but you really should upgrade to the real stuff)

The Procedure

This recipe takes a little time, but it’s well worth it—mouth-watering worth it!

1. Preheat oven to 375 (NO MICROWAVING. IT IS NOT THE SAME)

2. Place 4 large yams on a cookie sheet, side-by-side like corpses at a mob murder scene—and bake for 45 minutes. The yams should be still slightly firm to the touch—not quite done, but almost. You know, like when a body is two hours into rigor.

3. Allow the yams to cool enough to peel.

4. While the yams are cooling, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, orange and lime juice, cinnamon, ginger, and other ingredients into a pot. Heat until the ingredients are well-mixed. Should look like a really thin syrup, or blood on a sidewalk during a New England spring shower.

5. Yep, you guessed it (you might make detective sooner than you thought!), now peel and cut the yams into 3/4″ discs. They should still be firm in the centers (not quite done).

6. Layer the yam slices in a 9×13 baking dish and then pour the honey mixture over the yams. (Some people would like to sprinkle a few crushed pecans over the top at this point. Personally, I think they’re sick, but if that’s your thing then help yourself).

7. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Doesn’t have to be body-bag-tight, just snug.

8. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. The dish should be bubbling nicely at this point.

9. Remove from oven and cool until it’s less than 10,000 degrees before serving.

10. Enjoy!

Seriously, this dish is superb!

*Do you have a recipe you’d like to share? If so, please contact me at lofland32@msn.com. Please type Cooking With Cops in the subject line of the message.

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the families of each of these brave officers.

Sergeant Barbara Ester, 47

Arkansas Department of Correction

January 20, 2012 – Sergeant Barbara Ester was stabbed to death by an inmate when she entered an open dormitory area to investigate a contraband issue. Sgt. Ester had reason to believe that inmate Latavious Johnson, a convicted murderer, possessed an unauthorized pair of tennis shoes. And, when she approached Johnson he stabbed her in the side, abdomen, and chest. Sgt. Ester is survived by her husband who also works as an officer in the same facility.

Patrol Officer Garret Davis, 28

Honolulu Hawaii Police Department

January 21, 2012 – Officer Garret Davis was killed while assisting a stranded motorist. He’d parked his patrol car behind the disabled vehicle and was struck from behind by another vehicle. The patrol car immediately burst into flames. Officer Davis died at the scene.

Deputy Sheriff James Thacker, 53

Pike County Kentucky Sheriff’s Department

January 23, 2012 – Deputy Sheriff James Thacker was killed in a head-on automobile crash when a vehicle crossed the center line, striking the patrol car.

Senior Police Officer Gail Thomas, 46

Atlanta Georgia Police Department

January 24, 2012 – Officer Gail Thomas was assisting at the scene of a traffic accident when she was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver.

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Dr. Katherine Ramsland: Seeking Serial Killers

Seeking Serial Killers: Real-life Lecter helps hunt monsters

by Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Like Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs,” Ted Bundy once enlightened a task force on the motives and movement of an elusive killer. They learned a lot about Bundy as well. Now a unique new crime show, “Dark Minds,” will engage in a similar process.

True crime author M. William Phelps created the series with criminal profiler John Kelly. Their aim is to reopen some cold cases that involved serial murder and view them from a different angle — that of another serial killer. They’re working with an unnamed (and unpaid) offender, referred to as “13,” who reads the case notes and calls in his analysis on the show.

I asked Phelps to tell me about this provocative production. First, and foremost, I wanted to know why “13” wants to assist.

“John Kelly is 13’s gatekeeper,” Phelps told me. “Kelly has worked with 13 for 10 years and says 13 wants to give back. According to 13, it is an act of remorse and penance, which we know, psychologically speaking, is very rare for a serial killer. I think, however, it is also stimulating to 13 and feeding his fantasies, which all serials harbor, in prison or out, and in some way, helping us allows 13 to continue the game. Serial killers live through their fantasies.”

The first episode, “The Valley Killer,” focuses on a series of murders in Connecticut. “Between 1978 and 1988,” Phelps said, “seven women were brutally stabbed and dumped in the woods of the Connecticut River Valley up through New Hampshire and Vermont. It’s a cold case that hasn’t seen any sort of attention in years. In the episode, I interview the Valley Killer’s only known survivor. She has seen his face and can identify him — she was stabbed 27 times and lived. In the episode, I bring her a person of interest, and her reaction to the photo I present is physical (she begins to tremble and shake), as opposed to oral (in other words, she didn’t say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s him,’), which tells me a tremendous amount about the credibility of the identification. I also introduce her to, and interview, this person-of-interest’s son. The meeting and interview is chilling.”

When Bundy analyzed the Green River Killer, I said, it was often more about him than about his subject. I asked Phelps if 13 might be engaged in something similar.

“Absolutely not,” he assured me. “13 is deeply engrossed in helping us. He truly wants to prove he knows what he’s talking about. He’s not paid. His crimes are never discussed. No one knows who he is or what he’s done. He gets no glory, no media attention. I also think Bundy just wanted to continue the cat-and-mouse with cops and lie his way into trying to become some sort of quasi-profiler. Bundy never had any intention to help, whereas, I feel 13 definitely does. 13 studies the cases we send him very seriously and confidently. There are times when his insight is so spot on it’s scary to think that he came to a specific realization because he’s done it — he’s killed people. He’s been there! He’s hunted human beings. You cannot get that type of analysis from anyone else. Viewers of ‘Dark Minds’ will be repulsed, riveted, scared, entertained, and, we hope, encouraged to call in to a tip line if they know anything about a particular murder case we’re investigating.”

In fact, it’s ultimately what Kelly and Phelps aspire to achieve. “We want to expose cold, stagnant murder cases, shining a light on their importance and, hopefully, reigniting the investigation. I also want to provide answers to families of murder victims, if I can. The series will also introduce true crime fans to the inherent psychological nature of the serial killer’s mind — what is he really thinking? People think they have an understanding of the socio/psychopath, but they really don’t. Most people watch cable news and hear talking heads speak of the sociopath in ways that simply aren’t true. We speak to a psychopath and he reveals his most inner thoughts as they pertain to active murder investigations. For the first time, essentially, viewers will walk in the footsteps and begin to think as a serial killer would. That’s not only unique, it’s groundbreaking for television.

I asked if such an intimate connection with a killer has been disturbing. “I do broach this subject throughout the show,” Phelps affirmed. “It was, at times, a struggle for me whether I was shaking hands with the devil and jumping into a sandbox with him. I’ve had a loved-one murdered. I know what pain is. John Kelly, who is also a forensic psychotherapist, helped me work through this. I began to understand that fighting fire with fire is sometimes necessary for the sake of what we want to achieve. And as it turned out, 13’s help was at times invaluable. He tells us things about the killer I’m hunting that no one else but a killer could know. You have to set aside your personal feelings regarding the darkness in order to get closer to the light. It was extremely difficult for me emotionally, no doubt.”

Since serial killers are often deceptive, I wondered if Phelps had ever caught 13 lying?

“No. It’s not like that,” he assured me. “13 really cannot lie. We don’t allow him to talk about himself or his crimes. We just allow him to give us insight into the cases we send him to study. He stumbled a few times when we hit a subject he wasn’t comfortable with, but again, he talked his way through and ended up providing insight that was utterly disturbing and fascinating. For example, we ask him in the ‘The Valley Killer’ episode, ‘What type of vehicle do you think our guy is driving?’ He thinks about it and says, ‘Van. Mini-van.’ Kelly says, ‘Why do you say that?’ He says, ‘Because I would.’ He talks about stabbing a person as something akin to ‘no other sensation.’ Now, where can you get that kind of psychological insight when building profiles and hunting serial killers? As it turns out, our person of interest drove a vehicle very similar to a van. 13 didn’t even know we had a person of interest.”

I’m looking forward to this series, which starts this Wednesday, January 25, at 10:00 PM, on Investigation Discovery. A lot of us miss the crime shows that Court TV used to air, but the ID network is becoming a solid replacement.

The next episode of “Dark Minds,” THE EASTBOUND STRANGLER, airs Wednesday, February 1st, 10pm.

* ID network images

*     *     *

Dr. Katherine Ramsland has master’s degrees in forensic and clinical psychology, a master’s in criminal justice, and a Ph.D. in philosophy. She has published nearly 1,000 articles and forty books, including The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, The CSI Effect, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Healthcare Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers, Inside the Minds of Sexual Predators, and The Human Predator: A Historical Chronology of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation. She has been featured on numerous documentaries and such programs as 20/20, The Today Show, 48 Hours, Montel Williams, and Forensic Files, and she currently writes regular features for InSinc and The Forensic Examiner. She teaches forensic psychology and criminal justice as an associate professor at DeSales University in Pennsylvania and consults with death investigators and law enforcement worldwide on cases involving serial murder. Her latest books are The Mind of a Murderer: Privileged Access to the Demons that Drive Extreme Violence and an ebook called Psychopath.


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Southland: Underwater – A Review And Recap

Cops routinely find themselves under water. The best manage to keep their heads above the surface. But even for a strong swimmer like Ben Sherman the undertow can be tricky.

Ben finds himself in a situation where he’s surrounded by a large group of unruly young people. There’s bumping and shoving and name-calling. Things begin to get out of hand. He’s pushed by a young woman who he immediately places under arrest. Then, suddenly, another woman slaps Ben directly in his rookie face. What’d he do? How’d he react? Well, we had to wait until later in the episode to find out, but I, for one, knew exactly what he’d do. Yep. Been there, done that…sort of.

It’s an eye-opening moment for a young police officer when he’s assaulted for the first time. Sure, he trains and trains and trains for that moment, but nothing could prepare him for the shock that comes with being on the receiving end of a hearty face-slap, a punch, or a big ‘ol cheek-splattering wad of gooey saliva.

I remember that day, my “first time” and remember it well. I’d been on the streets, still very much a rookie, for approximately six months when I arrested a very petite young woman for a drug offense. She looked quite timid and sweet. Her hair was silky and she had eyes like a doe deer. Her hands were tiny. Her voice, soft like velvet. And her cheeks were rosy, like those of a China doll. And I recall thinking that, stupidly, I’d remove the cuffs while I questioned her. After all, what could that frail woman do to a big guy like me. Well, let me tell you, that sweet little doe-eyed %&^*$ slapped me into next week the second the cuffs came off. There was no pain, just a lot of really bright, white light and a ton of shock, surprise, and hope that no one saw her do it. Then came the swearing and spitting. Lots of spitting. She was doing the spitting but it was I who was doing the most cussing.

But it doesn’t end there. After that first shocking moment comes the next sweet little woman, or innocent liitle boy, a drug user down on his luck who robs a store to feed his kids and his habit, a poor elderly lady who shoplifts so she can eat, a drug crazed man who assaults his own parents, hungry kids, starving animals, guns, knives, a little girl…raped, murder after murder after murder. Mutilated bodies. Crying children…and yes, you soon find yourself underwater, struggling to keep your head above the surface.

There’s a new tough-as-nails captain this week, a captain who comes across during his welcome-to-my-shift-speech as wanting to kick ass first and take names later. But his ideas are sound ideas. They’re just plain good, old-fashioned police work—get out of your cars and walk, meet and talk to the people in your assigned areas, squeeze your snitches for information. Being proactive is what it’s all about. Don’t sit back and wait for crimes to happen. Stop them before they start.

The captain also passes out McDonald’s job applications to everyone, stating something like, “Each time you screw up fill out a line on your application.” He’s telling his troops that after a few goofs they’ll be needing new jobs because he won’t put up with many mistakes.

Lydia is called to work a hit and run case where all the team has to go on is a severed hand that’s still attached to a very expensive purse. After tracking down the suspect’s car, Detective Adams makes a gruesome discovery—body parts, including the head of the deceased, embedded among the radiator, water pump, and other mechanical parts located beneath the SUV.

Turns out the driver, a well-to-do citizen, had been driving drunk and claimed he thought he’d hit a coyote. He was promptly arrested and placed inside a patrol car where he immediately began to cry, the normal display of remorse that comes with a suspect’s realization that jail is in the immediate future. Funny how that remorse normally doesn’t appear until the cuffs go on.

Sammy and Ben decide to take the Captain’s advice and shake down a hooker for information, using a crack pipe they found in her purse as leverage to prompt her into cooperating. She gives up a little information and they allow her to go on her way.

I’m nearly convinced that these guys were cops in previous lives because the attention to detail in this show is incredible. Yes, that’s it’s done on the streets. It’s a day-in-day-out process of trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. And you do it by talking to people. Squeezing the snitches for information. and, as Lydia’s new partner will soon find out, by telling a few lies to get the information you need.

Lydia and Ruben, her new partner, are investigating a murder, an investigation that led them to home of the suspect’s grandmother, played by Marla Gibbs (Sorry, but I cannot see Ms. Gibbs without expecting to see George Jefferson come strutting around a corner. She’s a fine actor but she’ll always be Florence Johnston to me. But she looks fantastic, especially since she now 80). Hey, weren’t those two on 227? And wasn’t Adams’ character’s name Brenda on that show? A nice injection of humor, since “Brenda” was the name this little old lady kept calling Detective Adams.

Ruben appears a little shocked to learn that detectives sometimes must present a bit of false information when working a case. Still, he finds himself in a position where he might have to pull the trigger on the murder suspect, another unfortunate and unpleasant aspect of the job.

But Lydia solves that problem in a hurry by tackling the guy, an action that sends them both into a swimming pool (you see the ongoing theme, right?).

Ben appears to be a little on edge in this episode. Things just aren’t going his way. And that bit of bad luck continues when he chases a bad guy into a back yard where the thug swings a baseball bat, trying to hit a home run with Ben’s head. This scene is a familiar one to all street cops—a suspect hides inside a house, the homeowners and everyone inside tells the officers they haven’t seen the guy and they don’t know him. Then the guy pops up and runs. It’s like hearing a politician tell a lie…happens every single day.

Cooper and Tang (Lucy Liu is a great addition to this show, by the way) find themselves on the receiving end of the “odd” situations this week. We all have them, too. You know, the “Elvis-is-hiding-behind-the-cheesecake-in-my-refrigerator” type of calls.

1. The new partners roll up on a flaming pedestrian who’d ignited while smoking meth and watching porn in the back room of an “adult” store.

2. They roll up on a nude guy jogging along the sidewalk. Tang tells the guy it’s illegal to do that in the city, but it’s okay to run naked on the freeway. So he thanks her and heads onto an on-ramp. Tang turns to Cooper and says, “He’s CHP’s problem now.”

This scene may have seemed a bit silly to non-cops, but “back in the day,” and I’m not saying it’s right, I know of a few times when officers transported “unwanted problem people” to the next county and simply dropped them off.

3. A guys steps in front of Cooper and Tang’s patrol car and shouts, “I’m not going back to jail.” When Cooper steps out of the car the man tackles him. Tang jumps to Coop’s aid and begins to wail on the guy using her ASP (expandable baton). But it has no effect on the wild man.

Backup arrives (Dewey) and promptly deploys his Taser. The three of them finally subdue and cuff the guy.

Another realistic scene. I can’t tell you how many times cops are placed in this position, fighting to gain control of very strong and powerful people. And it sometimes takes two or three or more officers to subdue a combative suspect.

– Ben and Sammy respond to a call where an elderly woman fired a shot at her neighbor. When the officers approach the front door Ben thinks he sees a weapon and yells, “Gun!” and the two beat a hasty retreat to the safety of their patrol car. The woman fires a couple of rounds through the window and a standoff begins.

Captain Rucker arrives and he’s there with a plan. He pretends to be a preacher and approaches the door holding a Bible over his head, quoting scripture. But she’s not buying it, so Ben grabs the woman’s cat and offers to give it to her in exchange for her gun. She pretends to agree and lays down her rifle, but pulls out a secondary handgun. The captain promptly gives her a blast from his shotgun, terminating the threat who, by the way, was wearing body armor.

Several years ago, I was faced with a similar situation. I was at home watching TV when I suddenly heard shouting outside. I opened the front door and saw three patrol cars, lights flashing, and five or six uniformed officers crouching down behind them. Now, my across-the-street neighbors were elderly. Very nice people. So I was a bit puzzled until I saw the man on their front porch who was aiming a revolver at the man who lived there. A closer look told me that the suspect was actually the homeowner’s son, a guy I knew to have a pretty bad drug problem. Later I learned that the son had come by and asked for money, and when his parents refused he pulled the gun and began making threats.

Well, I knew the son, had encounters with him in the past (a few minor arrests, etc.) so I walked over to patrol officers to see what I could do to help out. By the way, I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and no shoes. I was in for the night. Comfortable.

Anyway, I called out to the guy. He promptly told me to F-off. And that really didn’t set well with me. Neither did the look of terror on the old couple’s faces. So I did a dumb thing. I walked up to the porch and headed straight for the suspect. He started to turn toward me but, before he even realized what I was doing, I, well, let’s just say only a second passed before I had the gun and he was lying on the porch floor. After it was over I realized what a totally stupid thing I’d done. Hell, I didn’t even have a gun with me.

The point I’m trying to make with this anecdotal babble is that the things you see on Southland, no matter how “out there” they seem to you, are quite real. This stuff happens in real life. While you’re at work or at home sleeping, cops are doing what you see on this show.

And that, my friends, brings us back to Ben and the young woman who slapped him. Well, Ben, feeling overwhelmed by the crowd that was closing in on him and, because the woman had landed a blow to his cheek and to his ego and, because he’d never experienced this before, well, he punched the woman squarely in her face. Right on the snoot with a closed fist.

The scene was captured on video, of course, and Ben is called into the captain’s office to explain his actions, and Sammy defends him.

Outside, Ben thanks Sammy for sticking up for him. Sammy, the experienced cop, says, “You always have your partner’s back…” Ben smiles. But Sammy then completes his statement. “…even when he’s wrong. You kinda lost your cool. We don’t fire back because we’re mad, we fire back to save lives.”

What a powerful and very true statement. Saving lives is the name of the game, no matter how hard you have to paddle to keep your head above water.

Yes, Ben has filled in the first line of his McDonald’s application. But we all do. We’re human.

* This is the best darn cop show to ever hit a TV screen. And all I can say is, “You go Cheo Coker. You write one fine police story.” The same goes for the all the writers. And my hat’s off to the crew and directors as well. And a big nod to the actors who go above and beyond to show their audience a side to police work that’s not usually seen…the truth.

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