Posts Tagged ‘ABC Wednesday’

For a long time, well before I took high school French, I thought the first European city I’d like to visit would be Paris. Two of my cousins were born there; one had been living there again until recently, and the other is working there presently.

I pictured sitting in some cafe watching the people and absorbing the culture, the art, the music. I love this description: “Paris’ grandeur is inspiring but what I love most about the city is its intimacy. Its quartiers are like a patchwork of villages, and while it’s one of the world’s major metropolises – with all of the culture and facilities that go with it – there’s a real sense of community at the local shops, markets and cafes that hasn’t changed since my childhood. Yet because every little ‘village’ has its own evolving character, I’m constantly discovering and rediscovering hidden corners of the city.”

In the past couple years, the director of our library went there with his family; one of my sisters was taken there by her daughter on the way to the south of France; and there have been several others I know who have made the trip.

Maybe it’s that France saved the bacon the of the American colonists during our Revolutionary War.

When I think of the city, it’s the Eiffel Tower, of course. I had a pencil sharpener in the shape of the structure when I was a child. La tour Eiffel shows up in no fewer than five dozen films, including Midnight in Paris, which I saw.

Paris is also the Moulin Rouge, and of course, I saw that film as well. One of the best lines in one of the best films EVER is “We’ll always have Paris.” That comes from the 1942 classic Casablanca, spoken by Rick to his former lover Ilsa.

Oddly, the various attacks against Paris, including the Jewish cemeteries being defaced, Charlie Hebdo, and, most notably, the events of November 13, 2015 makes me MORE likely to want to visit.

LISTEN to some of my favorite music about Paris:

Sous le ciel de Paris – Edith Piaf
My Father – Judy Collins
April In Paris – Count Basie (the “pop goes the weasel” version)

Free Man In Paris – Joni Mitchell
George Gershwin’s An American in Paris – André Previn/London Symphony Orchestra
Audition (The Fools Who Dream) – Emma Stone from the movie La La Land

ABC Wednesday – Round 20

The verb “to orient” means “to align or position (something) relative to the points of a compass or other specified positions” But it also refers to finding “one’s position in relation to new and strange surroundings.”

The derivation of the term Orient comes from the Latin word for east. While a 20th century definition would suggest Asia, or especially the eastern countries there such as China, Japan, and Korea, “the original East-West (or Orient-Occident) line in the Roman Empire was the Italian Peninsula’s East Coast.” As the definition moved eastward, the area in western Asia eventually became the Near East or Middle East, with China, et al becoming the Far East.

Probably the most famous train in the world is the Orient Express, the “name of a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883 by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL)….Several routes in the past concurrently used the Orient Express name, or slight variants there of… The name has become synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul), the original endpoints of the timetabled service.”

The push back against the term Orient is that it is Eurocentric. Some believe the term “Oriental” suggested to them “passivity”, based on portrayals of people in media. A practitioner of Oriental medicine asks, “Is it racist?

When Oriental was official banned in New York State in 2009, Frank H. Wu, a law professor at Howard University, said, “The world ‘Oriental’ is not inherently negative. It’s associated with a time period when Asians had a subordinate status.” He said “the term was associated with exoticism and with old stereotypes of geisha girls and emasculated men… ‘Oriental’ is like the word ‘Negro.’ It conjures up an era.”

“By the strictest definition, Oriental rugs are carpets hand knotted only in Asia. Iran, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Tibet and Nepal are some of the biggest rug exporters. Persian rugs also are Oriental rugs but they are made only in Iran (formerly known as Persia).”

For the longest time, I have been fascinated by what people are considered to be famous. The late Andy Rooney, who was best known for his commentary on the CBS News program 60 Minutes from 1978 to 2011, did a special around 1979, where he mused who was noteworthy. To him, Paul McCartney was famous, but Michael Jackson was not. Of course, this was before the album Thriller came out; I suspect Rooney would have altered his opinion.

In the days prior to 157 cable channel, it was pretty easy in the United States to ascertain that whoever was on national television had a modicum of fame. That is no longer the case. A former contestant on 16 and Pregnant (that’s a show?) recently passed away, and it was reported in my local paper; of course, I never heard of her.

There’s a database called Datasets I belong to, and it put out, at the end of this past year, an international list of “celebrity deaths”. The roster for April 11, 2016 included:

Ed Snider, 83 – American sports executive (Comcast Spectacor, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers)
Doug Banks, 57 – American radio personality (The Doug Banks Radio Show)
João Carvalho, 28 – Portuguese mixed martial arts fighter
Hokie Gajan, 56 – American football player and broadcaster (New Orleans Saints)
Veenu Paliwal, 44 – Indian motorcyclist
Alan Hurd, 78 – English cricketer.
Alvin Lubis, 37 – Indonesian musician.
Miss Shangay Lily, 53 – Spanish drag queen.
Steve Quinn, 64 – British rugby league player (York, Featherstone)
Albert Filozov, 78 – Russian actor.
Emile Ford, 78 – Saint Lucian singer (“What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?”) and sound engineer.
Édgar Perea, 81 – Colombian politician and football commentator.
Tony Ayers, 82 – Australian public servant.
Peter J. Jannetta, 84 – American neurosurgeon (Allegheny General Hospital).
Huntly D. Millar, 88 – Canadian medical technology executive.
Yura Halim, 92 – Bruneian politician, Chief Minister (1967–1972) and lyricist (national anthem)
Richard Ransom, 96 – American businessman (Hickory Farms).
Anne Gould Hauberg, 98 – American arts patron, founder of the Pilchuck Glass School
Ruth Gilbert, 99 – New Zealand poet.2016-04-11
Dame Marion Kettlewell, 102 – British naval officer, Director of the Wrens (1966–1970)
Mohsen Gheytaslou, 25–26 – Iranian soldier (65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade).
A. R. Surendran, no data – Sri Lankan lawyer
Tibor Ordina, 45 – Hungarian track and field athlete

I know NONE of these 23 people, save for Ford, who I heard of only vaguely. I did read Ransom’s obit. Let’s try February 13.

Bořek Šípek, 66 – Czech architect and designer
Flakey Dove, 30 – British racehorse, winner of the 1994 Champion Hurdle
Trifon Ivanov, 50 – Bulgarian footballer (national team)
Slobodan Santrač, 69 – Serbian football player (Yugoslavia) and manager
Barry Jones, 74 – New Zealand Roman Catholic prelate
Giorgio Rossano, 76 – Italian footballer.
Antonin Scalia, 79 – American judge, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (since 1986)
Nathan Barksdale, 54 – American heroin dealer, dramatized in The Wire
Bud Webster, 63 – American science fiction and fantasy writer.
Angela Bairstow, 73 – English badminton player.
Robin Ghosh, 76 – Bangladeshi composer.
Avigdor Ben-Gal, 79 – Israeli general, GOC Northern Command (1977–1981)
Yvonne Barr, 83 – Irish virologist, discovered Epstein–Barr virus
O. N. V. Kurup, 84 – Indian poet, recipient of the Jnanpith Award (2007)
Mike Shepherdson, 85 – Malaysian Olympic hockey player (1956) and cricketer (national team).
Edward J. McCluskey, 86 – American electrical engineer.
Sir Christopher Zeeman, 91 – British mathematician.
Rafael Moreno Valle, 98 – Mexican military physician and politician, Governor of Puebla (1969–1972), Secretary of Health (1964–1968).

Of the 17 people, and one horse, listed, the only one I had unequivocally heard of was Scalia, the SCOTUS justice whose vacancy President Obama was not allowed to fill. I do remember reading the obituaries of Ghosh and Zeeman.

I thought to write this when Zsa Zsa Gabor died in 2016. While she was in some 30 movies, she was most famous for being famous, a precursor to Paris Hilton or those darn Kardashians.

In December, Arthur posted YouTube Rewind: The Ultimate 2016 Challenge plus some 2016 music mashups. I knew hardly anyone in these videos – I must be getting old – but I didn’t care at all.

ABC Wednesday – Round 20

Me writing about Mill Valley is the fault of Mexican food and a famous director.

For dinner during the last week in December 2016, my bride made tacos. We hadn’t had them, either at home or in a restaurant, in months. And I – as is my wont – started singing The Taco Man, actually The Candy Man, but with a word change. You may know the 1972 hit by Sammy Davis Jr. That made her think of I’d Like To Teach the World to Sing by the New Seekers from that same year.

She also recalled a song called Mill Valley. I know LOTS of songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s, but I didn’t know this one. She even knew the lyrics!

I’m gonna talk about a place
That’s got a hold on me,
Mill Valley
A little place where life
Feels very fine and free,
Mill Valley
Where people aren’t afraid to smile
And stop and talk with you awhile,
And you can be as friendly
As you want to be.
Mill Valley!

As it turns out, a teacher named Rita Abrams wrote the song and recorded with children at the school where she was teaching, released under the name Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point Third Grade Class. The song spent only a couple weeks on the lower rungs of the Billboard pop charts, peaking at #90 in 1970.

But it must have done better with those easy-listening stations that weren’t playing Mama Told Me Not To Come by Three Dog Night or Ball of Confusion by the Temptations, because it’s been referred to as a radio staple.

There were stories in Newsweek, Life Magazine and Rolling Stone. “Annie Liebovitz stood on top of the piano to take our picture,” the educator recalled. An album, which referred to the students as 4th graders, which they were by then, was released.

Ironically, there were 2014 stories suggesting the teacher-turned-songwriter could no longer afford to live in her Mill Valley condo because of rising real estate costs.

Rita Abrams and her class had a 45th reunion in 2015.

And the director who made the video? An obscure young director named Francis Ford Coppola, who, two years later, would be directing the film that would win the Oscar for Best Movie, The Godfather.

ABC Wednesday – Round 20

The Daughter is now a teenager. She’s 5 feet, 9 inches, or 1.75 meters, tall. She is enjoying middle school pretty well after the adjustment period. Among other things, she’s figured out it’s easier to take the “blue” bus to Western Avenue then take the #10 regular CDTA bus than to take the crowded “brown” bus which would take her a block from our house.


She is extremely talented. She created this little paper box for her mother for Valentine’s Day. It’s full of little pictures of my wife, including some in her childhood, plus pictures of herself, me and the cats. It must have been very time-consuming.

For me, she got this large box. But it was a ruse, because it was filled with a dozen and a half strips of paper on why she cares for me. The initial tag said, “I couldn’t think of anything,” but she was kidding:

*You wake me up [not always easy]
*You love cats [actually a drawing of a cat rather than the word]
*You make good pancakes
*You help me leave for school
*You give me money
*We watch the news
*You help me with my homework [probably my #1 task for her]
*You tolerate your life [I do not know what that means]
*You play Sorry [board game]
*You play Uno [card game]
*Supergirl [we watched the TV series together]
*You and I Love Lucy [she’s been watching the box set]
*You are FUN
*Your wisdom
*You force me to go to bed
*You read to me
*You love me [that, I do]

She has a strong sense of justice, and likes to participate in working on houses with a church group, or the like.

She presently has two bedrooms, one tiny one where she sleeps, and the somewhat (SOMEWHAT?) untidy room where her clothes are. She tends to do her crafts there.

We had promised her a phone months, before she went to middle school, but she did not get one until Christmas. She likes playing a particular game that involves finding three-, four-, and five letter words from a set of five or six letters.

Right now, she says she wants to be a lawyer, but I think she’ll do something more artistic. Maybe she’ll do both.

Happy natal day, dear daughter.

Also for ABC Wednesday, Round 20

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