Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve. And Tina, and Eliza, and...

The tobacco cigarette once was held
in high regard among the swells
exactly how alcohol now is.
A sip for celebratory cheers
moody contemplation, tears,
or proof of frathouse prowess.
This should settle that 'Ginger-or-MaryAnn?' thing once and for all.
So the bubbly seems the reason
for get-togethers this festive season,
when conviviality should be.
Pious remembrance not withstanding
a denouement should bring understanding,
hope for future joviality that would be.
The Boston Diva supports M.A.D.D. The elegant look of stucco and sofa-size art.Billie Piper, in Jenny Agutter's outfit from Logan's Run.
As you raise a glass or if you don't
or if you scowl at those who won't
or if you merely nod and wink,
as you regard the changing calendar page
that indicates your own advancing age
and proposes that you drink...
The Hairy Eyeball Club. The Hairy Eyeball Club with Glove. Class.
She lived on champagne and sponge cake.
Do try to remember
That we're all in this together.

(This presentation includes images of Tina Louise, Eliza Dushku (whose birthday was yesterday), Angelina Jolie, Billie Piper, Ann-Margret, Angie Dickinson, and Marilyn Monroe.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Boxtroversy continues...

Some readers of this Journal have tossed their heaving lines onto the deck of the good ship "Boxing Day" and I feel strongly about an omission that your host had deliberated. You know that after this, it's either 'Cosby' or 'SeaQuest DSV'for me.This is a character named "Box," from the 1976 film Logan's Run, portrayed -- with dryer hoses and shiny stuff -- by Roscoe Lee Browne. Logan's Run was a popular sci-fi buddy film set in a pleasant enough future, if you don't mind having to live entirely indoors and die at the age of thirty.
The only thing that I can recall about Logan's Run is Jenny Agutter. Or, most likely, her outfit: A 3-foot by 3-foot piece of green silk.She was also in a 1971 movie called Walkabout, where her character's wardrobe was less oppressive.(     ) But, I enjoy sharing images here in the Journal, so, here is a photograph of Jenny Agutter: But I'd like to direct... when she was twelve.
She is now 57, and looks remarkably similar. No I wouldn't.
Although I remember her best from An American Werewolf in London.as Nurse Alex Price

(This presenttation included photographs of Jenny Ann Agutter.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

While we're on the subject...

Back last century when your host deigned to share his audio production enormous talent unequaled skill blind barnyard luck work with the world, there were a few tenets that he brought from print advertising media, where he had failed quite admirably.
A compelling argument is generally made for remaining positive in media -- albeit the results can be construed as saccharine. Even though the word "no" is smaller and uses less ink and thus once could have been rationalized as a cost-saver, its use was curbed and restricted to slogans where it was partnered with "waxy yellowy build-up" or "bitter taste." And even in those instances, the product ran the risk of being associated with -- and not dissociated from -- those negative qualities.
So, one wonders what exactly was going on at the meeting discussing this package copy,

You're just thinking 'cardboardcardboard'

...Since now, all I can do as I sample the product -- which does not taste like cardboard exactly, although it doesn't compare entirely too favorably either -- all that I think of is cardboard.
Because it says "cardboard" right there. AND it has a " ™ " so you know that they're serious. And the website is spooky.
(Particularly when the doctor guy says "billions.")
As with most other things, I prefer the older and simpler ways.There's room to move as a copywriter. I could be manager in two years. King. God.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26

A great diversion on the day after Christmas is arguing with family and friends the etymology of "Boxing Day." According to Wallbank's Cavalcade of Saints's Days:

The origins of "Boxing Day" is ("...is..." because the singular "origins" is one of those funny words that looks like a plural because it has an "s" -- and not one of those plurals that some authors create by using "'s" -- which is becoming so vogue nowadays. Are becoming. Whatever...) easily found in this verse of a popular song, written by Saint Steven before he was shot with arrows. It has been said that Saint Steven's choice of "folk music" as an avocation led to his painful martyrdom. Or is that Buffy Sainte-Marie? Seen here stringing up one of her weapons with our ubiquitous pal Pete Seeger:

or, actually, here, in this traditional Wren Boys tune. If you don't know The Wren Boys, you are very lucky. These are the urchins who go around killing birds in your backyard and offering to dispose of the carcass -- for a fee! To curtail this sly extortion, folk songs were written that made them seem like, well, simple begging children who are either dim or cheeky, obsessively repeat themselves compulsively, and apparently call everyone "Mrs. Clancy":

I have a little box under me arm,
Under me arm
Under me arm.
I have a little box under me arm,
A penny or tuppence would do it no harm.
Mrs. Clancy's a very good woman,
A very good woman,
A very good woman,
Mrs.Clancy's a very good woman,
She give us a penny to bury the wren.

Do you see what they did there? And how that explains "Boxing Day" ? They patronize you, promise you something in vague terms, do a little song & dance, demand money for something you cannot see them do. They put your money in that box under their arm.
Well, we'll have none of that in this parish!
And with that, we close all of the little doors and pack the Advent Calendar back into its box. Thanks for playing along.

Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25

This piece was written by longtime columnist for the Fall River Herald News John McAvoy. It was placed in the Congressional Record by Representative Barney Frank, who is -- ironically -- neither Irish nor Catholic nor a resident of Fall River. I once had a few "laughs" with John McAvoy last century and would like to share his 1983 Christmas column with you. It's about the town where I was born.

“When Christmas fires are burning,
Old memories come and go,
Like light and shadows playing,
Within the firelight glow,a magic scene appears,
Dear faces smile and beckon, from out of other years."
—Martha Eleanor Barth
The years drift away as Christmas comes again.
I recall with great nostalgia the Christmas of 1927 and 1928 when I was 7 and 8.
We lived in the last house on Pine Street on a hill overlooking the railway tracks, where Harbor Terrace is now located. It was a two-tenement house, but we lived all over it. (We were a large family ... three girls, three boys.)My father owned a junk-yard, and it was located in our front yard — second-hand lumber piled high, scrap metal, doors and window sashes in heaps. That was the view from the bedroom windows.
From the kitchen and front room (parlor), you looked down the hill on the railroad tracks, which brought the train from Boston out to the pier of the Fall River Line to meet the New York boat. You also saw the traffic on Davol Street and the panorama of the waterfront — the New York boat, coal barges, and the Bowen Coal Co. with its miniature railway cars that carried and dumped the coal in piles.
My mother had a lovely garden in the back yard (perched over the tracks), though the front with all the lumber was not so elegant (to put it mildly). On the south side of the “estate,” my father had a row of sheds and a barn which housed his horse Nelly, who drew the junk wagon.
* * *
Our front room was only open in winter at Christmas time. The day before Christmas Eve, my mother would place a portable kerosene stove with a perforated top (which reflected on the ceiling), thus making the room warm for Christmas. The smell of kerosene can bring back the thrill of Christmas to me to this day. Our Christmas tree would not be put up till the last moment, so it would last. The fresh pine and the odor of kerosene intertwined, and the combination to me is the fragrance of Christmas.
Both my parents came from Ireland and were very religious. My mother was a saint, and she loved Christmas with a passion. She brought over the Irish custom of saying 4,000 Hail Mary’s from Dec. 1 to Christmas Day. If you did this, legend said, any wish you chose would be given to you. Even as a child, my wish would be that we would have a happy Christmas, and we always did.
My mother was a superb cook, and that was what she was before she married. She worked on the hill for wealthy Yankees.
We were the most “Yankeefied” Irish family in Fall River. Christmas Eve, the house would be permeated with the smell of rising bread, white and Irish with raisins and caraway seeds, and the scent of baking cakes and pies. Around three in the afternoon, my mother and father’s friend, Annie Cody, would come up the stairs with a large wicker basket filled with gifts. She was like a preview of coming attractions, a harbinger of Santa Claus.
* * *
At dusk, and it had to be just the right moment (and only mother seemed to know), my mother would take a blessed candle and place it in a container in the front window facing up towards Main Street. In my mind’s eye, I can still see her pulling back the old-fashioned lace curtains to make room for the candle.
As you would look up Pine Street, you would see many candles like this. The candlelight was a symbol of welcomed hospitality, assuring the Irish people that no one seeking shelter would be homeless. The candlelight must shine forth all night long and may be snuffed out only by those having the name of Mary. (Of course, every Irish family had a Mary.)
My mother and I would always rise on Christmas morning at 4:30 and attend 5:30 Mass at Sacred Heart Church. I would peek in the front room where the kerosene stove was pouring forth heat. Its perforated top would make patterns on the ceiling, and the tinsel on the tree would glow in the reflection. You could see the outline of the presents piled under the tree. What a magical moment!
However, I would not open my gifts until we came home from Mass. My mother and I would trek up the hill in the dark. On Pine Street, near Purchase, there was a house with a cupola on the top which held a lighted Christmas tree, which was very unusual for the time.
The church was like an oasis in a desert, as you entered it from the black night. It would be beautifully decorated with wreaths and poinsettias and aglow with candles. It would be a solemn high Mass. (Three priests!) When Mass ended, it would still be dark. My heart would be beating so fast, I felt it would jump out of my body.
* * *
When we got in the house, my mother would tie on her white apron and would come in the front room and sit on the piano bench.
Before I opened my presents, I would give her mine. It was always the same — a green candy dish in the shape of a leaf, which I bought for 10 cents in the back of Woolworth’s. I would clumsily wrap it myself in white tissue paper. My mother would ooh and aah, “How did ye ever think of it, it was just what I wanted.” Right then I would decide I would give her the same thing next Christmas, if the gift made her so happy.
My good mother needed a candy dish like a hole in the head, but she knew how to make a small boy happy. I think of all my memories of Christmas, this is the happiest to me, giving my mother that candy dish.
Then I would open my presents. My mother and I must have been kindred spirits because one of my presents was always the same, a puzzle map of the United States, where you could pick up the various states separately. I really looked forward to getting it, never tired of it, and liked it the best of my gifts.
* * *
Then my father and brothers and sisters would get up and go to Mass. If it was a snowy Christmas, you’d look out the bedroom window and see the lumber and the scrap metal all covered with white. And to the west you’d gaze out as the morning train would meet the New York boat, and elegant women in furs would wave to you as the locomotive would belch and speed by under the kitchen window.
Yes, it was fun living on the waterfront!
I recall that a family lived on one of the coal barges in the harbor. At Christmas, they would have a lighted tree on board. I envied them, I thought, (and still do) that it must be great to live on a boat.
* * *
First thing you knew, my father and brothers and sisters would be home from Mass. Then the excitement would begin. The phone would begin to ring. Friends would start to come in. Although we had a nice front door, I never remember anyone using it. Everyone came in the back door. The aroma of roasting turkey would be in the air. The dining room table would groan under all the delicious food.
The meal would be topped off by the once-a-year treat of snow pudding. This was a “Yankee” delicacy my mother picked up on the “Hill.” It was made from the white of eggs and would be whipped into a froth. We would take turns beating it (no electric beaters then) for what seemed like hours, till the pudding was as light and clear as the new fallen snow. This would be served with lemon custard sauce. What a scrumptious ending to a delicious Christmas dinner.
My mother would always send one of us out to the barn with a special Christmas plate for Nelly, for she had to partake of our Christmas celebration.
* * *
Christmas afternoon would find new friends arriving, and after supper we would have more company. My mother had a close friend, Mary Dunn, who was a marvelous piano player (her specialty was Victor Herbert’s “My Hero”). Mary always headed the list of guests. Mona Kennedy, who lived across the street, played the mandolin, and her sister Louise had a lilting voice.
Everyone sang around the piano (which was right next to my father’s big black safe, where he used to keep it to show he was a success in America — or so he thought). My mother did her best to camouflage it with doilies and poinsettias.
My sister Mae, who worked in Cherry’s, would have a group from the store on Christmas night. We would all sing Christmas carols. Then my father, who was a 6-foot, 2-inch sandy-haired Irishman, would boom out in this heavy brogue, “How about an Irish song?”
The company would then sing, “My Wild Irish Rose,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” and then papa would say, “Mary, how about a tune?”
My sister Mae (no shrinking violet) would favor us with “Where the River Shannon Flows,” complete with gestures. I think there was a rut in our parlor carpet where the fabled river weaved its way.
“That Tumbledown Shack in Athlone” was the tearjerker of the evening. As the lyrics reached the lines “just to pillow my head on the old trundle bed; just to see my dear mother once more,” all the native born Irish in the room would sob as they brushed the tears from their eyes.
Then Mary Dunn would break into a popular song. The sheet music on the piano pops before me. “How Many Times,” “Mary Lou,” “Sonny Boy,” “My Melancholy Baby,” “Button Up Your Overcoat,” “Girl of My Dreams,” “Ramona” and “My Blue Heaven.”
* * *
The sing-song would be followed by a collation that included turkey sandwiches, coffee, jelly, homemade nut cake, Irish bread and steaming hot cups of tea and coffee.
Was there ever joy as wondrous as on these Christmas nights? When the company departed amid many “Merry Christmases” and happy banter, all the guests seemed to walk out into the night and up Pine Street to their various homes.
Then you’d go to bed, well fed and happy from the spirit of Christmas. How marvelous those Christmases were!
* * *
This story has a poignant sequel. My mother, like all the old-time Irish, liked to plan her funeral, partly out of common sense, and partly out of Irish whimsy. When my mother would broach the subject, we would say, “Oh ma, we don’t want to hear about that.”
Because she knew I was the foolish one in the family, she would confide in me. “I want three things when I die. I’d like a nice mahogany coffin (how any coffin can be nice is beyond me, but that is what she used to say) and I’d like a bouquet of red roses at my head, and I don’t want to be left alone for a minute.” (Those were the days of house wakes.)
My mother died on the morning of Christmas Eve, 1943. I was drafted in 1942 and sent to England in 1943. The first day I was there, I sent a Fall River florist money to send my mother a dozen roses for Christmas.She was brought back to the house that night, as it was wartime and Christmas Eve, and there were no flowers available that night. But five minutes later, my flowers arrived (as my Christmas gift). So my mother had her roses, and her wishes were granted.
I have often thought Christmas is so beautiful here on earth; what must it be like in heaven? I thought what a lovely day to go to heaven for someone who liked Christmas as my mother did.
* * *
Christmas is a day to be enjoyed. The hit song of a recent Broadway musical is “The Best of Times is Now.” Part of the lyrics are: “So hold this moment fast. And live and love as hard as you know how. And make this moment last. Because the best of times is now.” This is true. So enjoy your Christmas with all its joy and pleasures and the happiness of the day with your family and friends.
But do not forget the memory of other Christmases and the dear faces who are part of those memories. For the true happiness of Christmas is the combination of the present and the past, which makes the day unique.
“So those who love their fellow men,
Are glad it is December,
For peace on earth and memories,
Are precious to remember.”
— Marguerite Halker

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa & Old Boats

Always a great photo op. And there's always a nice story to go with.

December 24

Christmas Eve, babe. As is our tradition:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23

The "23" reminds us that today is Christmas Adam. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, of course, and Holiday anticipation approaches feverish preoccupation. Imaginative readers have conjectured that the biblical "Adam" might have been anticipating his "Eve," although he has to get knocked out and mussed up a bit before encountering her. Eve is introduced after Adam in the Creation narrative, so the day before Christmas Eve is traditionally known as "Christmas Adam." (A hypothetical exegesis was also hyperbolically related here).
Looking at the "23" above reminds me of the "33" on the Rolling Rock beer bottle. It's a lot like beer. only without all that beerness of other beers.
And beer reminds one of pizza.
Pizza reminds me of this image of ginchy Welsh teevee star Eve Myles, A new mom, she's the pride of Ystradgynlais."Gwen Cooper" from that Torchwood one. (I cannot vouch for Welsh pizza.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22

All right. "22." Three days before Christmas. Which means that you can now be officially completely burned out of enthusiasm for every single thing on this album:As performed by Jimmy Buffett

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21

Behind that pagan-looking holly-covered 21 on our Yulemas Almanac, a slip of paper to mark the Solstice whose weather I least attend. Wikipedia explains... Bring on those longer days!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20

Because you thought I'd let this go without a pin-up of Julie London:(Incidentally, the twelfth cut on Julie London's Calendar Girl album is "Warm In December" -- not "I'd Like You For Christmas" written by her husband Bobby Troup. I'm sure that there's a story in that.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19

Friday, December 18, 2009

December 18

Since it's Friday The Eighteenth and we're still in the Greater New Bedford (or SouthCoast) area, no holiday would be right without...It was pointed out that these should have been featured earlier in the Yulendar.

Yummy Scallops !!1!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17

As we wend our way through the adventure of Advent, the 17 reminds us that it's time...

... for a cat on a Roomba to tidy up a little before next week.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16

In the little park on our Calendar of Yule, there's even a place for... And yes, there was a hat with this outfit.... Michelle Monaghan as Harmony from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. (Not everyone's holiday favorite.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15

There's a big star in the December sky with a 15 on it, and it reminds me of...

... Johnny Cunningham. That seat has been empty now for six years.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14

That Fourteen reminds us of a birthday.

She comes from Ireland
She’s very beautiful
I come from Brisbane
I’m quite plain
She’s from the mountains, so close to heaven
Clouds on her shoes, stars on her chest
I love Lee Remick, she’s a darling

-"Lee Remick" by the Go-Betweens, 1978

(This presentation features Lee Remick. Who came not from Ireland, but Quincy Massachusetts, which is not particularly mountainous. The rest, though, is undeniable.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 12

That 12 by the barely-frozen skating pond has a neat website:

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11

As is tradition: from New Bedford's Temple Beth Ishmael ...

Yes, those are TEMPLE toggle ironsHau’oli Hanukaha !

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10

Behind the (Jeremiah) 10, there's one of those reputedly out-of-context Old Testament biblical quotations some argumentative folk like to schlepp out this time of year...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9

Behind that picket fence gate with the number Nine...Were you going to wait until Boxing Day to put this up?...an odd bunch of Victorian cats decorating a festive hall.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8

Behind the Eight now is... Honest.... some herringbone fabric.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7

Take special care while you lift the Seven on the ashcan lid shoved down the leaking gutter alleyway in the cold December rain that stings your rum-rosy cheeks under your mascara tearstained eyes...

... it's Birthday Boy Tom Waits, with a Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis! He's 60 today.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6

Peel back the Six, and it's...Dave Brubeck (whose birthday is today) and his Quartet.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 5

Right there, behind the Twenty-First Amendment which ended the United States Prohibition Era on December 5, 1933, so that we could obsess to this day over lots of other things...Kill Divil Santa says, 'Ho Ho Ho!'It's a Tiny Rum Bottle Necklace!

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 4

Over there, behind that tinselly fir, the number Four reveals: She always enjoyed the holidays.It's Paulette Goddard!

Apparently, Kids DO NOT Say the "Darnedest" Things.

I heard about this on our local talk radio. Host was getting quite a bit sauced about it, drooling and frothing, so I couldn't really make it out. Something about a big hoax. I thought that it was about the climate thing, but the wireless reception here on the timemarsh is a little funny since Colonel Green's radiodome wnet down, so I think this is what the gag is about...
Call it what you will -- Precocious Kids Hoax, Childrens' Television Whitewash -- but this Art Linkletter character perpetrated the most elaborately vicious and perfidious examples of mendacity.
Using what are obviously staged and carefully edited interviews, Linkletter's weekly television documentary program fooled viewers into believing that kids actually do say the darnedest things.
However, interstudio memorandums have been brought to light (while a maintenance crew was clearing Linkletter's old studio for a reality program starring Lou Dobbs and Sarah Palin)that show clearly that Linkletter's crew -- and obviously Linkletter himself -- was involved in a huge "production" that involved nothing less than coverups, staged antics, and special lighting effects.
These kids saying allegedly the darnedest things were, for the most part, just regular youngsters who, as seen in every other generation of youngster, did not say the darnedest things. At all.
Those alarmists who believe that kids do indeed say the darnedest things have been found out by a group calling themselves "realists" who claim that the found memos make references to a “trick” that would “hide the not-darnedness” of kids statements, and instructions to "edit" contrary data from the broadcast. ("Edit" -- some television professionals admit -- means, "to edit.")

The most damaging revelations indicate that producers -- all members of the Hollywood liberal elite -- may have “manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause” -- that of kids saying the darnedest things.
Many of these Realists insist that they themselves did not say the darnedest things as children, that their own kids do not say the darnedest things, and believe that Mr Linkletter's insistence that kids say the darnedest things stems from his being born in Canada, where kids may have once said the darnedest things, but no longer do because of socialism
.
I don't buy it. Linkletter seems like a pretty nice guy...


Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3

Look: Fling open shutters on the second floor of Bob Cratchit's hovel, and it'sUse only when... No, DON'T use. Never mind that.A Wheelmate Laptop Steering Wheel Desk!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Doors of the Advent Calendar Open...

... just as North Atlantic Hurricane Season closes. Since stately Goon Manor has just begun to decorate for the War on Christmas Season, your host was late in remembering to fetch the Julekalendar down from the garret where treasured seasonal mementos are hid the rest of the year.
And since today is December the Second, we get two special gifts:
1. A Hand-powered Chainsaw!
This requires forethought, or at least an understanding of gravity. and
2. A Dennis Day Christmas Album! With Jack Benny!
Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty, Benjamin Kubelsky, and others hired for the occasion.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Last Veterans' Day Parade of the decade, and you gotta grumble about it...

In a letter published in Saturday's Standard-Times (enlabeled "In Veterans Day parade, vets play second fiddle," also available at SouthCoastToday.com through the folowing link) former editor Ken Hartnett "[c]an't help but wonder why New Bedford parade planners persist in pushing our honored veterans way back in the ranks of parade marchers, giving the place of honor to politicians, notably the mayor and city councilors."
Aware of belaboring the alliteration, I profess that I have "paraded." From meandering Duval Street with costumed and not-at-all-costumed revelers capping Key West's Fantasy Fest to stepping in the fussily-choreographed Fall River Celebrates America Parade. I have processed solemnly (or cheerily, or both) in saints' days processions, and I have also handed, reefed, and steered in Parades of Sail involving TallShips™.
As a broadcaster, the order of a march was rarely of consequence to me since names that I was required to say were imposed upon me in the preshow meetings. "And an appearance by The Hills-Mills Comedy Clown Band, so stay tuned..."
As participant, being in the festivities is in itself the reward, the honor in the action. But to this day I have no idea what manner of calculation and collusion goes into parade planning. I have seen "honored guests" appear at the very beginning of the parade, toward the middle of the parade, and at the very end of the parade. I'm sure that there is some ancient traditional codification, some erudite and trusted manual for parade organizers, but I have never seen it.
Ken Hartnett, though, may be privy to the abstruse machinations either honoring or abasing ambulators in processions, for he is quite put out by the placement of veterans in New Bedford's Veterans' Day parade. One veteran in particular, whom Hartnett befittingly singles out for notice and mention:

The recent Veterans Day parade included the thinning ranks of World War II veterans, including one of our region's biggest heroes, Calvin Siegal, who defied death and two German bullets in the Battle of the Bulge.
I look for Siegal in every parade because he marches proud and tall in his original uniform, a sight to see for those who know and honor him.
I know Cal from my days at the Whaling Museum, as well as from our membership in the "thinning ranks" of those who button shirt collars and choose to wear actual bowties.
At the appropriate opportunity -- here for instance -- I will praise Mr. Siegal for his business acumen, gracious community involvement, and fine example of public service.
As far as the appropriate placement of aspirant officers, City Councillors or other entertainers: Opening acts rarely draw the crowds or merit the applause. And I noticed last Thursday that very few kids left the Macy's Day Parade before Santa's appearance.
At the end.
And it should be noted: Although the hearse is located at the front of a funeral cortege, few want the honor of riding in it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank The Day

Sailing on the ocean leaving all confusion
Of who you are and what you want to be
Sailing up the green wall, laughing as the wind blows
Singing, sliding down the other side
Working in the sun, having good hard fun
When nighttime comes we'll rest and thank the day
We thank the day

Landing on an island, I couldn't keep from smiling
The people there were friendly as can be
Livin' in an ocean of syncopated motion
Laughing, singing all our cares away
Working in the sun, our days be spent in fun
When nighttime comes we'll rest and thank the day
We thank the day
When nighttime comes we'll rest and thank the day
We thank the day
Sailing on the ocean leaving all confusion
Of who you are and what you want to be
Sailing up the green wall, laughing as the wind blows
Singing, sliding down the other side
Working in the sun, our days be spent in fun
When nighttime comes we'll rest and thank the day
Thank the day


Dave Torbert, New Riders of the Purple Sage
from The Adventures Of Panama Red,1973

(This presentation includes a photograph of Farrah Fawcett)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

While Giving Thanks...

That's John Paul Jones. Whose band won't be at the Z either.

H.M.S. Impossible (not shown). Proudly protecting SouthCoast waters from Dire Straits.Because 'randomly asking jokers on your e-mail list' is always preferable to 'just marketing more effectively.'

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holiday Reminders....

Your host has looked over the afternoon's post and vagued the usual disturbing seasonal waft.
To someone without the non-profit know-how of your Third Mate, it might appear that everyone is standing around with a hand out, insisting that I tender some sort of pecuniary "help." I don't know if this is due to my recent musings on the philanthropic art, but the coincidence appears obvious.
I was more encouraged by the fifty-eight-pound carton that FedEx had left in error on the estate's service entrance mat. A box that clearly belonged at the Colonial farmstead up and across the street.
'Life is hard. After all, it kills you.' Kate said that.(Entertaining aside: When I traipsed the errant package to its correct recipient -- a delightful neighbor lady in her early next century -- she remarked on "the difficulty that young people have these days telling the difference between 'five' and 'six.'" I chuckled, but later thought: Ma'am, I may have encountered some disquiet with temporal displacement, but I'm not exactly what you might call a peer. So go easy with the "kids these days" stuff.)
As an independently-engaged operative, I don't find myself responding to begging letters with any great liberality. I do ante up what I can and when I can, because I believe in the reasonable missions of most charitable alliances. It does no organization any good to get a check for thirty-five dollars when a simple, ready check for a hundred grand will cover most of the outfit's operating budget. But that's a choice which I leave to my neighbors and fellow travellers.
Please allow me, shipmate, to clearly and wholly deny suggestions that I won't feed this year's various worthy kitties or "répondez s'il vous plaît merci mais non" to seasonal holiday shindig invitations. Every solicitation must be answered -- even the Nigerian ones and the ones from those who never put me on their e-mail list, didn't send me the right novelty promotional geegaw, or pay me.
Each fundraising event must be attended -- likely not by me, of course -- but it is my fondest delight that between now and the date of the least possible lengthy daylight that I fill each moment of darkness with as much par-tay as reasonably available, open bar or whatnot.
Which is, apparently, the way everyone else will have it because today I have received nine "special holiday fundraiser" invitations to add to the growing stack of "annual seasonal soirees" or "solstice embraces" or "cool yule evenin' swings" or "kooky kwanzaa spectaculars" or even some "Christmas party" ones.
As of this writing, there are thirty-five days until the mall Santas once again get temporarily terminated and local radio stations have to shelve their "24/7 Elmo, Patsy, and The Boston Pops Marathons."
And I'm looking at one hundred and eighty-seven envelopes. I may just stay right here with Cyd and the Saint Bernard. Until the K9 cask seems funny again.

(This presentation includes photographs of Katharine Hepburn and Cyd Charisse and a Saint Bernard.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

National Philanthropy Day

At United Way we believe everyone has the ability to give back to their community, regardless of their circumstances. As National Philanthropy Day approaches, please consider getting involved by giving, advocating or volunteering. It does not matter how you decide to get involved; it just matters that you do.

-Michelle N. Hantman, President
United Way of Greater New Bedford

I have always considered the United Way as a sort of "Chamber-of-Commerce-Lite." More contemporary, both sartorially and hygienically, United Way workers add a veneer of bureaucratic gravitas that many businesses in the civic sector need. Well-intentioned pencil pushers, cheerleaders, and bean counters, the United Way is indispensable in gentling the rabble to abstractions like "giving" and "volunteering," and usually remains far enough from actual philanthropists to do any real harm.I'm spreadin' it around, ma'am.My definition of "philanthropy" is less complicated but no less philosophical than the United Way's, as they focus on the three key building blocks of education, income and health. The United Way movement creates long lasting community change by addressing the underlying causes of problems that prevent progress in these areas. LIVE UNITED is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change. LIVE UNITED.
Very nice. Also: not exactly philanthropy. What The United Way defines there is "humanitarian civic involvement." Shame that they have to set up offices in in thousands of cities around the world to show people how to take care of their neighbors and communities, since the private sector is too busy eating its young and not DONATING MONEY TO CHARITY. We've come that far, Milton Friedman.
I am not, despite former personal and professional connections, that mercenary.
But.
Wait.
Is it possible that philanthropy may be the only concrete outlet left for demonstrating true rational self-interest?Pretty subtle, huh?If we understand philanthropy as an ongoing fiduciary commitment to a group's reasonably well-defined goal -- with which our own goals concur -- we can appreciate the Development Director's maxim, "Giving is Getting." When a donor agrees with the mission set by a non-profit and acts to support that particular organization, program, or service, the reward is obvious. I mean, even besides all that emotional "feeling good about yourself" stuff. What could be more consciously selfish than ensuring your own happiness by giving money to a place that houses artifacts (or shows paintings, or presents speakers, musicians, or literature) that interest you?
But the non-profit or civic sector has always been there when the for-profit sector has failed. "Trickle down" was a failure of the for-profit sector and the non-profit sector was there to house the errors. Literally.
Remember that the next time that you whine (incorrectly) about non-profits taking your "hard-earned tax dollars." They don't take your tax money; they manage their own business well enough to succeed, make a profit, and put that profit back into their business and its mission, exempt from taxes because they serve the community. All the while being misunderstood and ignored, if not watched, maligned, questioned, monitored and regulated more than any private corporation that is given a tax break just for moving in.
Because a private corporation's only "mission" is to make money.
Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. It lifts the corporation above suspicion of any underhandedness. The non-profit business, however, declares its mission to "help and serve" its community.
Which is a very suspect admission indeed.

(This presentation includes photographs of Brooke Astor and Patricia Neal.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sesame Street, Forty years of

Look. I'm First Lady. Can I get someone to teach this carpet remnant how to use the First Person?Those who are unaware of your host's unassailable pronunciatory confidence -- most palpable while I'm reading aloud, as in broadcasting -- will be enriched to know that at one time, I displayed no such endowment.
The year was 1969. We had just sent men to wander around on the Moon, and as a kid whose horizons stretched as far as the map of the Ponderosa and as wide as the Enterprise's five-year mission, only one individual's presence was both bane and boon: Sister Mary Margaret Martha Mary-something, the attendant spirit of this young student's First Grade class at Saint Christopher's School.Ambition. We all got 'em.
It was my ambition to read and commit to memory every bit of printed reading material I could find so as to expedite and assist lively dialogue around the schoolyard, dinner table, car seats on family trips, and any other eventuality where social interaction demanded more than nods, grunts, shrugs, or waves.
My home had been furnished with tomes from every age of human endeavor. Mom and Dad seemed to know everything in them, so I had some catching up to do. The children's reference center upstairs was appointed for my sister and me with books of collected fairy tales and fables, fabulously illustrated treatises on dinosaurs, and the smaller red version of the big grey Encyclopædia Britannica that resided downstairs in the adults' Atheneum, where I would some day start devouring bigger books with smaller letters. Just as soon as I had fully annihilated the first rungs up the literary ladder, with brief asides to Superman and Spiderman comic books.
And the damned puerile Weekly Readers at school.
The Weekly Reader, according to its website, produces : "standards-based, research-proven resources to support the development of academic vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing skills, and fluency for all learners. Through differentiated instruction and explicitly leveled materials, we strive to help educators..." and then it goes on about "diversity" and "21st-Century classrooms," none of which would have interested our class filled with New Hampshire Catholic hockey kids with last names that were easily-pronounceable and for the most part of French-Canadian or English/Irish derivation.Sister Mary Margaret DoppelgangerEach member of the class would read aloud one paragraph from the Weekly Reader as we shared the weekly assignment every Friday during Reading class. The front page of the handout consisted of three or four "paragraph" (read: "sentence") stories about current events (sorry, no Viet Nam conflict or Stonewall riots or Mansons). Some lucky readers got to read both the headline and the lead paragraph. One or two of my classmates would consistently stumble, but we were all well-behaved and patient, particularly those of us who regularly showed facility with the written and spoken word and politely helped when one of our classmates chanced upon an unfamiliar word or ungainly diphthong.
I enjoyed reading aloud, since it afforded me an opportunity to show everyone my familiarity with every single word.
Except for one.
And that word was "sesame."
I don't remember the exact wording of the headline, but the whole story welcomed to television a new program for youngsters set on a street in New York City, with such characters as "Big Bird," "Kermit the Frog," "Oscar the Grouch," and something called "Cookie Monster." "It's called SEE-same Street," I read.
A beat.
Then, a rustling of papers, a snicker, and a chuckle that grew infectious throughout our regularly respectful classroom.
Never had anyone ever laughed at a mispronunciation before, and the uproar directed at me seemed to forever right that particular wrong.
Sister Mary Margaret Martha Mary-something cleared her throat -- a lithe throat enhanced by the black crepe of her coif, now that I look back with a grown-up's eye -- and offered a soft correction: "SESS-a-mee."
"Oh," I exhaled. "Kinda like Sinbad? Like 'Open Sesame,' right?"
As luck would have it, that rejoinder saved my arm from many a malicious whack in the schoolyard, and I was assured the role of steady second pick in kickball. But I also pursued impeccable articulation with unconventional vigor. Within weeks, I was presented by Sister Mary Margaret Martha Mary-something as some sort of reading-aloud prodigy and delivered a disquisition concerning flying mammals -- bats specifically -- to the Fourth Grade science class and to Mother Superior, who had invited several idle novices and the visiting Diocesan Bishop, who blessed me and commented on the immodesty of the length of Sister Mary Margaret Martha Mary-something's habit.
Eventually, the whims of the Moirae would lead me to read aloud professionally at radio stations, including some in Fall River Massachusetts, my birthplace as well as the birthplace of Joe Raposo, the Portuguese-American composer who worked for Sesame Street, wrote the theme song and other classics, like "Bein' Green."
Rumor has it that Sister Mary Margaret Martha Mary-something left the priory soon after and opened a chain of Leather'n'Lace Boutiques. At least that's the story that I heard.
And good for her.

(This presentation includes photographs of Audrey Hepburn, First Lady Michelle Obama, Sally Field and Shelley Morrison.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Robert Browning: "Who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once."

Although it would be a lovely though temerarious walk, my Beloved and I don't wander about the side-walkless, motor-bandited, and poorly-lit trail to the local High School in the evening. But every night -- and long into the night, as that's apparently how the echoes work out here in the conservation-protected wilds of South Dartmouth -- my Beloved and I are treated to the "The Gift of Music."
Which is exactly the title of the program that our neighbors, the Dartmouth High School Marching Band and Color Guard, performed in order to win their second National Championship in two years.
If one wades through the SouthCoastToday.Com article linked to above, one finds that Music Director Bill Kingsland has precisely the proper winning philosophy necessary in band competitions. And, ultimately, in life.

"The key to success was eliminating errors from the performance, he [Kingsland] said."

I have never heard a more fitting injunction, except that one from my middle school band instructor who said, "Learn it right, or don't bother playing it at all!" A little more of a command than an encouragement toward meritorious consummation, but we got the idea. And none of us went on to play in the high school band. Or, for that matter, do anything more musical than holler lyrics and stage dive. (At least, that's what the guy with the candy-apple red Rickenbacker said when he handed me back my microphone, harmonica, and metaphoric hat.)
Some bands have opportunities that others don't have because they are a team whose members understand cooperation, collusion, and collaboration.
There will be those who give their all...
Stella Stevens, OverachieverNancy Carroll (no relation)
Some bring something special to their instruments...
Sophia Loren on accordion Debbie Reynolds' got a squeezebox
And some simply bring their instruments. Which is also special...
Tina Louise on tamborineJayne Mansfield ON
But all play what we play best...Björk

(This presentation includes photographs of Stella Stevens, Nancy Carroll, Sophia Loren, Debbie Reynolds, Tina Louise, Jayne Mansfield, and Björk Guðmundsdóttir.)