I was, therefore interested to see the recently released movie Evan Almighty (sequel to the film Bruce Almighty) in which former TV anchorman-turned state senator, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) gets the call from God to follow the example of Noah and build an ark in the middle of a housing development in Washington.
The conceit begins with considerable charm and some wit (for example, the name of the mysterious wood company which starts delivering vast quantities of timber to Evan's home is GO FOR WOOD!) although, unfortunately, it rather rapidly degenerates into an uncomfortable combination of moral messaging and silly slapstick.
Anyway, somewhere towards the end, God (Morgan Freeman, naturally) presents the word ARK to Evan as being an acronym for Acts of Random Kindness - which struck me as original and rather clever.
Of course, I should have known: there is nothing new under the sun (or the rainbow) and it turns out that it's originality is only in the ordering of the letters and that Random Acts of Kindness is a universally known catchphrase - but a rotten acronym!
According to Wikipedia, the phrase originated as follows:
The phrase may be a modification, or paraphrasing, of "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty", coined by Anne Herbert. Some claim that the phrase was created by Dr. Chuck Wall.Google Acts of Random Kindness (or vice versa) and you'll find any number of websites including The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
Dr. Wall, (holder of a Ph D in Educational Administration and Marketing Management) was looking for an assignment to give to his Human Relations class at Bakersfield College in California when he heard a local radio announcer talking about yet another random act of senseless violence. "I remember thinking, 'Is this the new definition of the news?'" he recalls. "A group of kids doing wonderful things ... sadly, that isn't news."
That phrase – "random act of senseless violence" – intrigued Wall, who imagined turning the negative message into a positive one just by changing one word. When he returned to the classroom the next day, he shared with his students their next project: commit one random act of senseless kindness. At the time, Wall had no idea what the efforts of his class would bring. Nor could he know that his minor change in verbiage would result in a catchphrase that would spread across the world. "You would have thought we discovered human kindness — that no one had ever come up with the concept of being kind to another," he says.
Sadly, however, I couldn't find any useful information whatsoever on ark-building or wild-animal wrangling...