G is for Green Wedding

My father and sister sang at our wedding reception. I think I did too.


When I married Carol Powell on May 15, 1999, it was not only a blending of families, it was a mixing of family sizes. My family is very small, while hers is ginormous. Since both of my parents were only children, and all of my grandparents, by that point, were deceased, this was pretty much it on my side of the ledger: (L-R) my niece Rebecca, her mother/my sister Leslie, Carol, me, my mother Trudy, my late father Les, my niece Alexandria, and her mother/my sister Marcia.

Whereas my new wife had LOTS of relatives. My mother-in-law had seven siblings, my father-in-law two. My wife had three brothers and over 30 first cousins. I, of course, had no first cousins since I had no uncles or aunts.

So when they wanted a picture of my side of the family, you might wonder: who ARE all of these people? Most of these are direct descendants of my late great aunt Charlotte, the little woman in the front right of this photo above.

My mother’s mother Gert had three siblings that reached adulthood, but only one, Ernest, who married Charlotte, had children while my mother was growing up. So even though they were a decade or more younger than my mother, my mother’s first cousins by Ernest, who died back in the 1950s, and Charlotte, were the closest child relatives she had. And even though they lived in Queens, New York City, Charlotte’s grandkids were the closest child relatives my sisters and I had, besides each other, likewise 10 years or more younger than we were. Charlotte, BTW, was the sister-in-law of Professor Irwin Corey.

So the folks in the photo are one of Charlotte’s sons (and spouse) near the center of the photo, two of her granddaughters (plus a spouse), and a couple of her great-grandkids, along with the folks in the first picture. Whereas the picture on my wife’s side was a virtual mob scene by comparison.

This is the Yates side of the family that showed up at my niece Rebecca’s wedding to Rico in 2005. There was some difficulty between the bride’s mother and the groom’s mother, who wondered why the first cousin of the bride’s grandmother should be indicated in the program. As I described here, ultimately the extended family was listed, though the bride’s uncle, i.e., I, was inadvertently left off.


Oh, at Carol’s and my reception, my father and sister sang. I think I sang one song with them, Rebecca probably performed a number or two, and even niece Alex sang Yellow Submarine with her young cousins. Leslie also sang at the wedding.

I’ve been thinking a lot about weddings because my daughter is going to be in her first one this coming month, the Pakistani event of her babysitter, which will be an elaborate affair. More on that after the fact. If you’re also planning to tie the know with your soulmate soon, you’re probably already trying to find those tungsten wedding rings for him.

The website of niece Rebecca’s band, Siren’s Crush.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Monday Monday; no, wrong Mamas & Papas song

I’m listening to the Coverville podcast a few months ago, as I usually do a couple of times a week. Brian was doing the Mondegreen episode, a term that, if I had heard it, I had forgotten. The definition, which I stole from somewhere: “Misheard lyrics (also called mondegreens) occur when people misunderstand the lyrics in a song. These are NOT intentional rephrasing of lyrics, which is called parody.” There are whole websites devoted to this issue.

The last song on the show, not only had I gotten wrong for years, but have SUNG it incorrectly when performing with my sister.

The correct lyric is:

stopped into a church
I passed along the way
well, I got down on my knees
and I pretend to pray

Yet all these years, I had been hearing:
and I began to pray

To be fair to me, many other people of my vintage heard it the same way. I know this because I asked a number of them. And it is noted as a common error in Kiss This Guy, named after a misheard line from Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze: “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”

I never misheard that Hendrix lyric or this line from California Dreamin’ offered up by Am I Right?
Misheard Lyrics:
You know you’re preaching like the Pope.
Original Lyrics:
You know the preacher likes the cold.

But the one I DID mishear I’ve thought about a number of times since. Seems that the fact that the verse has three verbs in the past tense (stopped, passed, got) tunes the ear for a fourth (began) rather than a present tense verb such as pretend. They COULD have sung “pretended” and I don’t think it ruins the scansion. Here are the complete lyrics.

BTW, what linguistic tool is being used when you speak in the present tense about things that happened in the past? “So I go to the store. I see an item I want. I buy it.” Past action, but present tense verbs.


Anyway, HERE is a version of the hit song that only went to #4 in the US charts in 1966 by the Mamas and the Papas, and HERE is another. The song is attributed to John Phillips and Michelle Gilliam.

John eventually married and divorced Michelle. John performed this version on his album Phillips 66, which was released posthumously in 2001; he would have been 75 today. Michelle Phillips is the remaining survivor of the Mamas and the Papas.

What lyrics have YOU misheard, and how did you finally figure it out?

August Ramblin’

Daniel Schorr was possibly best known for his coverage of Watergate for CBS News.

In July, David Warren, inventor of the flight data recorder, or “Black Box,” passed away at 85. His prototype was not warmly received, and as an employee of the Australian government at the time, he made no money from what is now considered a critical invention. He did, however, receive a rather nice obituary in The New York Times.

That gave me a bit of perspective. Looking at multiple news sources does that for one, too.

The big news in this neck of the woods is that New York State got some federal education money. But this is the same story in the Los Angeles Times:
California loses bid for Race to the Top federal education grant
California has fallen short in its efforts to secure a federal Race to the Top school-reform grant. The winners of the controversial federal grant program, just confirmed by federal officials, are Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. If California had been chosen, it could have won as much as $700 million in one-time funds.

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It’s been five years since Hurricane Katrina. Initially, before I got a sense of the true measure of the devastation, I understood it as how it was affecting our wallets. We were traveling from Albany to New Jersey and Pennsylvania and weren’t really watching TV. We could not help but notice, though, how the price of gas jumped from about $2.65 per gallon when we left just before the storm to about $3.25 when we returned less than a week later.

Only when I got home and got to watch the news did I recognize the full impact of the destruction, and our government’s inability to cope with it. Bless the victims of Katrina, many of whom are STILL dealing with the aftermath.
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I understand why people tire of politics, I really do. From the open letter to Lincoln, to Who let the dogs out, it can be a pretty awful game. But I’m inspired by more positive stories:
Is FOX News Stupid or Evil?
The Australian Time Warp (you don’t have to be from Australia to appreciate)
Target boycott flash mob; great video.
Glenn Beck is NOT Martin Luther King Jr.. Not even close.
2009 National Environmental Scorecard “illustrates the extent to which the Obama administration and the 111th Congress began to move our nation towards a new energy future”

Besides, despite my protestations, I’m a political junkie at heart. Which reminds me, a couple journalists covering politicians died in the past 5 weeks.
Daniel Schorr (July 23), possibly best known for his coverage of Watergate for CBS News, and discovering, on air, that he was on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. One of my journalistic heroes who was most recently on National Public Radio.
Whereas James Kilpatrick (August 15) I thought was almost always wrong. From his defense of segregation to his appearances on TV shows such as 60 Minutes’ Point/Counterpoint segment to Agronsky & Company, which I watched religiously, I loved to disagree with him. He did seem to mellow in later years.
A couple of pols died:
The former powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski (August 11), like a predecessor in that office, Wilbur Mills, and a successor, Charles Rangel, all had Congressional legal troubles.
Ted Stevens (August 9), former US Senator famous for wanting a “bridge to nowhere” for his state of Alaska was lauded by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association as a great champion of the sports industry. He predicted his death by plane, which is how his first wife perished.

While I’m thinking of the recently deceased:
Jack Tatum (July 27) – a nasty football player.
Mitch Miller (July 31) – watched a LOT of Sing Along with Mitch, even as I thought he was rather “square”. No more so than in this cover of Give Peace a Chance.
Patricia Neal (August 8) – I cannot recommend enough A Face In The Crowd, also starring Andy Griffith. Here’s the trailer.
Abbey Lincoln (August 14) – underappreciated jazz singer-songwriter and civil rights activist.
Bobby Thomson (August 16) – The shot heard ’round the world when “the Giants win the pennant” in 1951 after the baseball team was so far behind the Dodgers in August.
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The Fantastic Four As A Model For Gay Acceptance

An 83 song setlist coming to Rock Band 3. Not that I play, of course.
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Things that struck me as funny and/or weird:

For a smile, you can send a Hug-Egram. Unfortunately, you can also read the URL as “huge gram”; make of that as you will.

My favorite spam comment of the month: “Next time you should condense your post, try to leave out the parts that people skip.” Not incidentally, 25 Ways to Stop Spam

OMG WWII on Facebook! A modern adaptation of World War II for the American teenager.

What Cigarette companies don’t want us to know… (hate that phrase): “Direct E-Cig is a revolutionary electronic smoking device designed as a better smoking alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes.” Video interesting, as it shows mixed results for the product, which according to a story I read in the Wall Street Journal this week, has NOT been approved by the FDA.

When I was looking up things for my English language post this month, I found this NOT in the least bit SAFE FOR WORK video about the versatility of a popular English language word that begins with the letter F. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

FantaCo birthday musing

FantaCo was a part of my personal history that required a greater deal of accuracy, lest the faux facts proliferate.


There was a time when I used to buy into the notion that the past is past, and you move on to the next thing, as though life were some connect-the-dots puzzle, where you go from point A to point B to point C without ever doubling back. It’s not that I ever really thought that on my own, but that others suggested it, and I, for some reason, bought into it for a while.

I suppose it can be a useful tool, letting go of the past, when the past was awful. But when it was good, why forget it? (And I could make the case for remembering the less good as well.)

And some people don’t forget. Not that often, given the fact that I worked there 8.5 years, I’ve mentioned FantaCo, the comic/film book retailer/publisher/convention operator in Albany, NY. Even less frequently, I have mentioned Raoul Vezina, the house artist who also worked on publications for FantaCo (Smilin’ Ed, X-Men Chronicles) and others (New Paltz Comix, Naturalist at Large). But those brief comments generated not one but TWO of Raoul’s friends, to write to me this summer, days apart, indicating that they appreciated the mention of their friend. Understand that Raoul DIED in 1983, and it’ll give you a sense of how much impact he had on their lives, and to be sure, on mine.

These are drawings, obviously, that he did for his friend Buck. I know I have one that he did for me as the duck caricature that you see on the header.

I also reached out to Tom the Mayor, a reader of this blog, (not to be confused with Tom, the owner), who worked at FantaCo after Raoul died, right as I was leaving. Since today is the anniversary of FantaCo’s birth in 1978, I asked him if he had any impressions of FantaCo to share. He wrote:
When I first started at the company, we ran the whole publishing and shipping operation out of the very cramped back room of the store; if you stepped wrong you could fall into the basement. Your desk was there, Tom’s desk was there, Hank Jansen worked in one corner, and I was in another corner. What with backstock everywhere, if a freelancer came in the room, somebody would have to step out. I can understand why you got burnt out shortly after you brought me into the company.
Actually, I was burnt out BEFORE we brought him into the company. Yet it is often interesting to get the perspective of other people regarding events at which you were present. But Tom is right; that backroom WAS an accident waiting to happen, especially for those unfamiliar with it.


Getting back to Raoul, his friend Ed also allowed me to post these drawings by Raoul; the top one is less clear because it’s still in the frame. I’ll have to get around and scan some more of my Vezina artwork.

As I’ve noted, FantaCo closed in 1998. My buddy Steve Bissette and I, a couple of years ago, found it necessary to make corrections in the FantaCo Wikipedia listing, not because, as someone wrote to Steve at the time, we wanted to “correct the Internet” – twice this month I’ve quoted that phrase – but because it was a part of each of our personal histories that required a greater deal of accuracy, lest the faux facts proliferate.

Oh, yeah, on this date, Jack Kirby was born in 1917; he died in 1994. Tom (the owner) said that opening the store on Jack’s birthday was purely coincidental.
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A mass e-mail I received from John Hebert, with whom I worked on the comic book Sold Out for FantaCo:

Subject: Hell has frozen over!!!

For any of you who haven’t heard yet…….John Hebert is a father!!!!

Welcome to the world, Ari Michelle Hebert- born after all of an 8 minute delivery on August 10th, 2010; 6 lbs, 11.5 oz, 18 inches long… and she is GORGEOUS and has already been on the local news and the front page of the local Business Review!!!!!!!!!!

And all this time, people said I was a real mother!!!!

TV Theme Song QUESTIONS

Then there’s the special cases of themes that are best known for whistling or finger snapping.

Ken Levine was ranting about the loss of the television theme song, about which I tend to agree. It so happened that as I was reading his piece, I was in the midst of listening to one of seven or eight CDs I have of TV theme songs. I was at work, so I didn’t have time to look to see what songs were playing. A number of songs I liked but couldn’t place.

This brings me to these questions, in honor of the Emmys this week:

1. What are your favorite TV theme songs?

I’m partial to the work of Mike Post and the late Earle Hagen.

2. What do you think are the most recognizable? I’m thinking that you could be listening to a bunch of soundtrack songs and instantly recognize the tune out of context. Perhaps one has to separate the instrumentals from the songs with lyrics. I think there have been some great, distinctive themes for shows that were once popular but aren’t seen that often anymore, as far as I know, such as Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Taxi, and Barney Miller. Other shows seem to be in reruns forever. My guess, in more or less reverse order:

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson – perhaps beginning to fade from memory, but those infomercials for the best of Carson are around. And it was on for 30 years.
Sanford & Son – that great Quincy Jones tune
Peter Gunn – was a big pop hit, and was covered by the Blues Brothers
MAS*H – very popular show, still in reruns
Law & Order – a 20-year show, just off the air, its spinoffs still on the air using variations on the theme, and it’s constantly on reruns
Hawaii 5-0 – another pop hit that shows up at sporting events, and now is going to be remade for a new series in the 2010 TV season on CBS

The ones with words are tougher, but I imagine Friends, Cheers, Gilligan’s Island, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Jeffersons and The Brady Bunch would be among them.

Then there are the special cases of themes that are best known for whistling (The Andy Griffith Show (here’s The Andy Griffith Show, really) or finger-snapping (The Addams Family).

What are your favorites, and which ones were most distinctive?
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Paste magazine’s 20 Best TV Theme Songs of All Time.