Death noted: A playwright who caught the pitch

“During the Depression, my [physician] father went back to Boone, and I lived for four years of my early life in Boone…. The other plays are OK, at their best, but the pitch of the voices… in my Appalachian plays…  is a little sharper because I heard that when I was a child.”

— Playwright Romulus Linney, recalling for an interviewer in 2002 one of his many North Carolina influences. Romulus Zachariah Linney IV’s great-grandfather was a Taylorsville lawyer and three-term Congressman.

Linney died Saturday at age 80, prolific and widely respected though never having achieved the fame of an August Wilson or a Horton Foote (or of Laura, his actress daughter).

What? The sky wasn’t always Carolina blue?

Those industrious elves at Google Books Ngram Viewer must never sleep! Here are their latest offerings for North Carolinians’ provocation and speculation:

Carolina blue was adopted on campus about 1800, but the rest of the world seems to have taken a while to catch on.

— Jimmie Johnson vs. Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. Maybe if he wins six consecutive championships….

— Great Dismal Swamp vs. Okefenokee Swamp. The 1980s spike coincides with an environmental conflict over the Okefenokee.

— chitterlings vs. chitlins. Of course, when the Ngram measures not American usage but British….

— Don Knotts vs. Barney Fife surprised me — but now that the actor is dead, the immortal deputy is closing fast.