The Lydster, Part 77: Dancing Queen

Lydia is the house choreographer.

As I may have mentioned, Lydia has been taking ballet lessons once a week since October 2009. It was almost inevitable, since, in the year or two before that, she would move around the room so gracefully and deliberately that people kept asking, “Is she taking dance lessons?”

This was NOT anything that we pushed her into doing, but rather something she asked to do a few times before we relented. While I’m not anticipating her become a prima ballerina, it has instilled in her a sense of confidence she had been lacking.

It has also made Angelina Ballerina on PBS her favorite TV program.

Her school did a recital in June – this was Lydia’s costume – and she said she was nervous, though she didn’t appear to be so.

Now, she is the choreographer at home; not only does she design the moves, but she also selects the music, quite well, I think. Her mother has become her primary dance partner, with her stuffed animals and me as her captive audience.


Part of my enjoyment of The switch is the relationship between Bateman and…

Carol and Lydia went to the Poconos with Carol’s parents, one of her brothers, his wife, and their twin daughters a couple of Saturdays ago. Carol came back on Wednesday because she had to work on Thursday, but Lydia stayed. So Friday night, we felt almost obliged to see a movie. For one thing, it wouldn’t cost anything for a babysitter. For another, said babysitter is getting married in two weeks, so she might not be available for a while.

So what to see?

Scott Pilgrim is at the mall that I dislike, and it’s supposed to move to the local theater soon. Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky I knew nothing about, Winter’s Bone seemed too intense for date night, and Inception started too early, and Dinner for Schmucks too late. It came down to Eat Pray Love, and The Switch, and since the latter not only reviewed better (52% positive vs. 38% on Rotten Tomatoes) but was also considerably shorter, we went with that.

Remember the wisecracking friend of the Meg Ryan character in Sleepless in Seattle? That role here is played by Juliette Lewis. Or the Mark Feuerstein function, playing the confidant to Mel Gibson in What Women Want, now provided by Jeff Goldblum. Or the whole “friend zone” thing, which is the entire premise of When Harry Met Sally; Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston reprise Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan (again). Plus a character in most romcoms for whom one says, quoting Joe Jackson, “Is she really going out with HIM?”

Add to this the Big Unsustainable Lie that has fueled sitcms from I Love Lucy to Frasier to The Office. Actually, LIES, one of which you can discern by merely reading the summary of the film, and without which there is no story at all.

Yet, oddly, we mostly enjoyed the film. Part of it is that relationship between Bateman and…Goldblum, whose interactions are among the funniest in the film. I also loved the chemistry between Bateman and Thomas Robinson, who plays the little boy who is NOT immediately adorable like that kid in Sleepless in Seattle, but who I related to at some level.

So if you have NEVER seen a romantic comedy, you’ll probably like this one. But if you have seen a few, you may appreciate the fact that the acting, especially of Bateman, plus some touching moments, salvages the often by-the-numbers script.

Oh, and I’ll never think of ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, thanked in the end credits, quite the same way again.

F is for Former Names

Perhaps, the greatest area of change involves place names.

The item pictured above used to be called a guitar. Then this item-

-came along. And now the first item is now called an acoustic guitar, to differentiate it from the second item, an electric guitar.

This used to be known as a clock

– until this –

– came along. Now an analog clock describes a clock with an actual face, compared with a digital clock.

There’s a whole bunch of these, called retronyms, a term the late New York Times wordsmith William Safire believed had been around for 30 years, but in the dictionaries for far less time. Here is a list of retronyms.

This used to be known as a stewardess, but now is a flight attendant.

This used to be known as a fireman, but is now a firefighter.

The language has become more gender-neutral.

Perhaps, the greatest area of change involves place names. A lot of this took place in Africa in my lifetime, where locations that used to be colonies are now independent countries. Also, in the Western Hemisphere, British Honduras became Belize, British Guiana became Guyana and Dutch Guiana became Suriname.

Sometimes the local politics or internal struggles affect the nomenclature. Ceylon is now Sri Lanka, e.g. and the Democratic Republic of the Congo used to be Zaire. Cambodia has had a couple of other names.

Some formerly divided countries re-merged, such as Germany and Vietnam. In Africa, Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to create Tanzania. Conversely, other countries broke into two or more parts. Bangladesh was once East Pakistan. Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and especially the Soviet Union are no more. Egypt and Syria merged to form the United Arab Republic in 1958 but got a divorce in 1961. Here is a list of some countries that have had name changes.

One of the name changes I remember most, though, was a city; Peking became Beijing, explained here; likewise, a description of the change from Bombay to Mumbai, something I admit I occasionally forget. Of course, St. Petersburg, Russia has been Petrograd and Leningrad.

Three of the four schools I’ve attended in my life have changed names. Binghamton Central High School merged with Binghamton North to become Binghamton High School in 1982. Both my State University of New York undergrad school, New Paltz, and my grad school, Albany, have undergone a number of name changes; the former in 1828 as the New Paltz Classic Academy, and the latter as the New York State Normal School in 1844. My first school, Daniel S. Dickinson, has long ago been razed.

Finally, THE song of a name change, first a hit by The Four Lads, way back in 1953. Listen to Istanbul (not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants.

Feel free to share your favorite name changes.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7


Crafty fifty meme

Lived in NYC for four months in the summer of 1977 (ah, the Summer of Sam!)

Sunday Stealing split this meme in two – Part 1 and Part 2 – I’m a man of wealth and taste. Seriously, just look at the blog; you’ll figure it out.

5. Did you ever get into a bar and drink before you were 21?
Yes, I was 18. Then again, the legal age for drinking at the time was 18. I’m not convinced that 21 is better.

6. What countries have you been to?
Here’s a repeat question: Canada, Mexico, Barbados, USA.

7. Do you watch MTV anymore?
No, and in the early 1980s, I watched it a lot. Even watched the first three seasons of The Real World in the early 1990s.

8. What do you think about Oprah?
She’s rich, she’s occasionally interesting, but she needs someone else to be on the cover of her magazine.

10. You need a new pair of jeans: what store do you go to first?
Don’t wear jeans.

11. Did you ever watch The O.C.?
Not even accidentally for five minutes.

12. What kind of car do you drive?
Our car is a Toyota Avalon, not from a year in the recall.

13. Honestly, is that car insured?
If you knew my wife, you wouldn’t ask such a silly question. Of course it is.

14. Do you like sushi?
Not particularly. But my wife does.

15. Have you ever been to Tiffany & Co. or Saks 5th Ave?
Saks a long time ago; probably Tiffany’s as well, but not positive.

16. Did your parents spoil you growing up?

No. The curse of the firstborn. Now, my grandmothers did or tried.

17. Do you like roller coasters?
Used to. Haven’t ridden in years, except for a pretty dinky one at the North Pole, NY a couple of years ago.

18. What magazine(s) do you buy regularly or subscribe to?
TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, Ebony, Newsweek.

19. Do you remember the old WB show “Popular”?
I laugh when I read the words “old show” and “WB” in the same sentence. In any case, I remember that it existed, but never saw it, never wanted to see it.

20. When you go out do you prefer to go to a dance club or to a bar?
I’ve done both, though not recently. Bar, I suppose.

21. What do you think about gay marriage?
Should be legal.

22. Who do you think will be the next president?
Much to my surprise, Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana.

23. Are you registered to vote?

24. Do you own an iPad?

25. Is your bathroom filled with beauty stuff?
Filled? No.

26. What do you normally smell like?
Well, lessee. I have no aftershave. I use unscented deodorant, unscented shampoo, unscented soap. I smell like me.

27. Do you like Carrie Underwood?
I was watching when she won on American Idol and has turned out to be more successful than I would have imagined. Don’t own any of her music.

28. Been to “The Vegas”?
“The Vegas”? Really? No, in any case.

29. How far away do you live from your parents?
772.55 miles from my mother. My father is deceased.

30. Are you happy with your job?
Usually, though occasionally we get some rather “interesting” questions.

31. Where do you work and what do you do there?
I work at the New York State Small Business Development Center as a business librarian. I help find things that the clients of SBDC counselors ask about their businesses, from industry trends to demographics to regulations.

32. What did you get in the mail today?
Bills and a catalog.

33. How do you like your steak cooked?
As rare as possible.

34. Britney Spears…is she back?
Back from where? Don’t own any of her music either. I was skimming a People magazine and she seemed happy with her boyfriend.

35. What do you usually order at Taco Bell?
There is a Taco Bell less than three miles from my house and I don’t think I’ve ever been to it. Pass.

36. Have you ever sat all the way through Gone With the Wind?

37. Have you ever been to Mt Rushmore?
No, but my wife has before we were married.

38. Is it just me, or was The Marine (w/John Cena) a really horrible movie?
I have no idea what this is.

39. Are surveys like the cocaine of myspace?
More the marijuana.

40. Where is your favorite place (that you have actually been to)?
Either Montreal or San Francisco.

41. What is your favorite candle scent
It’s been decades since I had scented candles. Something woody, I guess, maybe pine.

42. Do you believe places can really be haunted?
I leave open the possibility.

43. Do you smoke cigarettes?
No. Not are they unhealthy, they make you stink.

44. Have you ever been to NYC or LA?
Lived in NYC for four months in the summer of 1977 (ah, the Summer of Sam!), and have visited a number of times, though not since the Daughter was born. The closest I got to LA was Anaheim Stadium.

45. How many states have you been to where all you saw was the airport?
Now that I’ve been to Chicago a couple of years ago, none.

46. Do you think 50 questions is enough?
Too many.

47. Are you currently planning a trip?
Yes, to Ontario next year. That’s why we waited for 2 hours to get my daughter a passport on July 12, the last day of the old rates. BTW, it arrived on August 14.

48. Is Ryan Seacrest gay? Should anyone care?
I have no idea, though, in that same People magazine, he seemed to be hanging out with one of those dancers from one of those dance shows (Julianne Hough?)
Well, I don’t care. People will care about what they will care about, whether I think they should or not. People, you shouldn’t care about this celebrity minutiae! Nope, didn’t work.

49. Do you take anti-depressants? Sleeping pills?
No, and not lately.

50. What do you think about space travel?
All things being equal – and they never are, of course – I’m in favor. but don’t really want to be doing it myself.

30-Day Challenge: Day 20 – A 10+ Year Old Picture

Hard to believe he’s been gone 30 years this summer.

The instruction was to provide an older picture; nothing stated suggests who or what should be the subject. Since my sister Leslie sent me these pictures, along with some of my father, I thought I’d show these.

This is my grandfather, McKinley Green, who I wrote about a few times early in my blogging, here and here and here.

The particulars are lost to me so far, but apparently, McKinley, or Pop as almost called him (the others called him Mac), was my father’s stepfather. He’s not in the picture in the 1930 Census; I’ve seen the records. Yet, my father’s birth certificate, dated 1944, when my father was 18, lists Pop as my father’s father. There was a clear clerical error, however. In the section that lists the age of the parents at the time of my father’s birth, my grandmother’s info is correct, but Mac’s info listed his age in 1944, not my father’s birth year of 1926.

As noted, my grandfather loved going to the track, both for the cars and the horses. Our thing was playing gin rummy, and we played a LOT, especially on Sunday afternoons while watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. And when he was looking for a card, he would often say, “Be there, finakis!” I have no idea what that meant.

Hard to believe he’s been gone 30 years this summer.
Oh, the baby in the picture above is my eldest niece Becky, my sister Leslie’s daughter.