All Hallows Eve

I shaved my beard and a mustache, Susan and a couple of her friends made me up, with a dress from a second-hand store, a wig and shoes from somewhere, and we went to the party, she as “Sid”, and me as “Shirley”.

The odd thing about Halloween, as I think back on it, is that I have almost no recollection of the costumes I wore while trick-or-treating as a child. I’m sure I went, mostly in my grandmother’s neighborhood, but as to what I wore, it’s a total blank. It doesn’t help that most of the photos from my childhood were lost, so I have no cues. And I pretty much gave up the gig by the time I was a teenager, though I may have been called upon to take my baby sister, who was (and still is!) five years younger than I.

I may have donned a costume once or twice in college, but it was in my mid-twenties when I really began dressing up.

One year I wore a Frankenstein mask and a seersucker suit; really stylin’. Another time, I had a skeleton mask with a wizard’s hat and my college graduation gown; there’s a great picture somewhere of me leaning on a car reading the Daily News Sunday funnies in this outfit.

But my all-time favorite outfit was one planned by my girlfriend at the time, Susan, when I was 25. I shaved my beard and a mustache, Susan and a couple of her friends made me up, with a dress from a second-hand store, a wig and shoes from somewhere, and we went to the party, she as “Sid”, and me as “Shirley”.

The outfit, along with my affected high-pitched voice actually fooled people; no one knew who I was, though they were confused as to what I was dressed up as. It wasn’t until later in the evening, when my “five o’clock shadow” started to appear, that people started figuring things out.
Sid and Shirley

I don’t dress up now, but the daughter does. I enjoy the holiday more vicariously now.
***
Samurai Frog’s Halloween posts over the years. Mucho posts.
For Thom Wade, Halloween lasts at least four weeks. My favorite post: The Top 10 Horror Themes in movies
An Open Letter to Pumpkin-Flavored Seasonal Treats
A recipe for candy corn.
Reader Wil on traditions.
And since nothing says Halloween to me like Mussorgsky, LISTEN to Night On Bald Mountain

October Rambling

Stan Lee becomes a Jeopardy! category

A sure sign of madness: I’m now participating on the Times Union Getting There blog. Here’s my introductory piece, and you’ll find more along the way.

A Graveyard Of Commerce: Albany’s walled-off waterfront offers a boat launch, some casual tourism, and raw sewage

W. enters a local school board race – in Colorado

For mixed family, old racial tensions remain a part of life

The REAL Way to Get Wall Street’s Attention:

GO to OccupyWishList.org to provide some necessary supplies to various Occupy groups.

Bad Lip Reading – I enjoy this more in concept than in actuality

U.S. Skater Nailed First ‘Quadruple Lutz’. No, I don’t know what it is either, but my wife does.

25 Words You Might Not Know Are Trademarked -actually most of them I knew. But there were a few in comments that I did not.

A segment from Family Feud that came out eight months ago; never said I was ahead of the curve.

Ken Levine answers my question. He’s a TV writer of some note (Frasier, MASH).

And Then There’s………Maude.

The Dick Van Dyke Show Blogathon: In Praise Of Laura Petrie’s Capri Pants (or something like that); the article’s better than the title. And related to D.V.D., the Carl Reiner Tribute at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Obscure 1987 Sitcom Predicted Muammar Gaddafi’s Death Year.

A spider in the lampshade! And speaking of spiders, Spider-Man Swing dances, and Stan Lee becomes a Jeopardy! category.

From Jim Shooter, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics: old Superman Syndicated Strips. Plus Spooky or Inexplicable Events – Directory Assistance. Quite moving.

Nursery Rhyme Comics: Great comic illustrators do Mother Goose

MAD guy Al Jaffee’s greatest fear

Paul McCartney Toasted John Lennon At His Wedding Reception

The Porkka Boys cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Folks from Finland are particularly fascinating to me. In any case, not a wretched excess version, such as William Shatner’s jaw-dropper.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced the appointment of Dr. Anne C. Beal, M.D., M.P.H., as its first chief operating officer. PCORI was created by Congress as an independent, non-profit research organization to help patients and those who care for them make informed health decisions. Anne, BTW, is my cousin.

An interview with singer, songwriter, poet and my e-friend, Amy Barlow Liberatore

Did you know of Frank Kameny, who died this month? You will after you read these pieces by Arthur at AmeriNZ and, and watching this piece from CBS News.

Patti Page recently rerecorded “Doggie in the Window” as “Doggie in the Shelter.”

Science fiction writer David Brin shared this fascinating blog post about the social and cultural meaning of Star Trek

Never say science fiction is just make-believe. We live it every day

(Thanks to JA Fludd for some of these)

What’s the difference QUESTION

In my Golden Book Encyclopedia that I owned as a child, I read that a Belgian hare is NOT a hare, but a rabbit. I swear that the illogic of that statement started me on a road where discovering the differences between similar things got thwarted. (BTW, here’s the answer. Or HERE.)

Likewise, I’m not good distinguishing frogs from toads, monarch butterflies from viceroy butterflies, many car models (unless they’re really distinctive, such as the old VW Beetles, or a Rolls Royce), and even similar flowers.

I also must be somewhat colorblind, for I have a bear of a time distinguishing between black and navy blue, which I discovered about 15 years ago, when my mother bought me a blue chair to go with my blue rug. “What blue rug?” I pondered.

For what do you find difficulty in differentiating, particularly things that other people seem to see?

What a Mess!

Next time he comes here, he’ll be work on…our foundation, which he also has to do in decent weather; the curse of an old house. Then, he’ll finally get to insulating the OTHER half of the attic.

Generally, I enjoy listening to the podcast of Arthur@AmeriNZ. But on a recent episode, Arthur was describing what a mess his house was, and the fact that he can’t do X until Y is done, and he can’t do Y until Z is done, et al. I nearly shrieked – and not with joy – because it’s pretty much what’s been going on with us.

It’s been going on SO long that the chronology has gotten to be a bit sketchy. As I recall, a couple of years ago, we decided to get the attic insulated. There is a bunch of stuff up there, inevitably. The easiest way to go about it was to move all the things in one half of the attic to the other, which we did, which naturally made that side almost impassable, and difficult to find things in, as you might imagine. Then we waited. And waited.

Our contractor had some emergencies that he needed to do for other people, and a couple for us.

Finally, the contractor did the work on half the attic, in relatively short order. We painted the one side and it looked lovely, as attics go.

So now it’s time to insulate the other side; this was November 2010. Of course, everything that was in the attic is now on the OTHER half. The attic is stripped down to the studs. And we wait and wait. The contractor has flood repairs to do for others. He also – and this is important to do in good weather – replaced our roof.

Next time he comes here, he’ll be work on…our foundation, which he also has to do in decent weather; the curse of an old house. Then, he’ll finally get to insulating the OTHER half of the attic.

We might have sought another contractor for the attic save for the fact that the job was already 2/3s done.

Oh, and when I said that all the stuff is in the attic, that’s not entirely accurate. Some of it won’t fit up there right now. So there are things in the guest room, which has been a tidy, and occasionally untidy, mess for about 24 months. Once the other side of the attic is finished, and then we paint it, the living quarters of the house will be MUCH nicer. Maybe by next summer.

And once the attic is passable, it’ll be much easier to sort what’s there and we can decide what to keep, what to give away, and what to toss, without having to live immediately in it.

From Which “Grapevine” Did You Hear It?

Which iteration should be considered the original? Surely, one could make a case for the Miracles’ version. But many experts would pick the version first released, and that would be the Pips’.

I love good cover versions of songs. Came across a rather fine list from Popdose. And I so agree with the opening statement: “It’s generally agreed upon that if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, you shouldn’t bother doing a cover.”

Certainly can’t argue with the top two, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, originally performed by Otis Redding; and “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix, originally done by Bob Dylan. Both of the original artists have acknowledged the transformative nature of these covers. A previous list I saw contained songs that I had never heard of in the Top 10, which I discovered were less than six years old; seems to me these songs need to stand the test of time

But I have one nit to pick over this list, and it’s around the song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” As noted here and elsewhere, the song by Motown staff writers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong was first recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on August 6, 1966. And Marvin Gaye recorded his version on April 10, 1967. But Berry Gordy, the head of Motown, hated the song & vetoed the releases by both artists.

Gladys Knight and the Pips’ version* was recorded next, and was very reluctantly released by Gordy. It went to #1 on the R&B charts for six weeks, and to #2 on the pop charts for three weeks in the fall of 1967.

It was only after this point that the other two versions were released. The Miracles’ was just an album cut, but Marvin Gaye’s single was #1 for seven weeks on both the R&B and pop charts in the late fall of 1968, a Grammy Hall of Fame winner in 2001. “Gaye’s version has since become a landmark in pop music. In 2004, it ranked No.80 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. On the commemorative 50th Anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine in June 2008, Gaye’s version was ranked as the 65th biggest song on the chart.”

So two questions exist for me: first, which iteration should be considered the original? Surely, one could make a case for the Miracles’ version. But many experts, such as Brian Ibbott of Coverville, would pick the version first released, and that would be the Pips’.

Also, how could the panel pick the perfectly fine version of this song by Creedence Clearwater Revival* over the Marvin Gaye classic, even if the latter did get overplayed in the 1980s, around the time of the movie the Big Chill? Not so incidentally, I don’t own the Miracles’ version, but I do have CCR, Gaye, and the Pips, which is actually my favorite take.

And while I’m thinking about Marvin, I would definitely find room on that covers list for Wherever I Lay My Hat, originally done by Gaye, but covered by Paul Young.

*Link to the music