Mixed CD-Greg Burgas

For some obscure reason, I was singing “Istanbul (not Constantinople)” in the locker room of the Albany Y a few weeks ago. I noted to one of my compatriots, Phil, that the original came out in 1953, the year I was born, but I didn’t know who performed it. (It turned out to be the Four Lads. It entered the charts on 10/17 and went to #10.) Please know that I don’t USUALLY go around singing “Istanbul”.

I’m involved in this CD exchange among two dozen bloggers, organized by Chris “Lefty” Brown (May 23). The first disc to arrive was on that same day from a guy named Greg Burgas, and what’s on it? “Istanbul”! It’s the They Might Be Giants version (which I own), but still pretty spooky.

It’s a pretty eclectic mix from Delenda Est Carthago, the name of his blog. Some of it I liked a lot. The title cut is a relatively obscure Diana Ross and the Supremes hit, “Forever Came Today,” a fine song (though how that defines the theme of the disc, I’m not quite sure yet.) Only two songs I didn’t care for, and I attribute that to a generational thing. (A Fred Hembeck lets me know that I’m the second oldest one in the exchange; he has 5 weeks on me.) One was Ugly in the Morning, an apt description of the Faith No More song, and the other some Jane’s Addiction song that would have driven me to drugs if I didn’t have willpower.

On the other hand, a lot of stuff worked. Alison Krauss’ Down to the River to Pray (the second O Brother cut on the disc) oddly segues nicely with the guitar noodling in the beginning of a song by the hard rockin’ Cinderella! Who knew? There are other links like that throughout.

But for me, THE find was: “Somewhere between a 1930s Cuban dance orchestra, a classical chamber music ensemble, a Brasilian marching street band and Japanese film noir is the 12-piece Pink Martini. Tasty. I want MORE.

(Oh, and I just figured out WHY Greg was first – his wife just had a baby. Congrats, Greg, but did you think having a baby might interfere with blogging and making mixed CDs? Can’t understand THAT.)

OK so I wrote that, but now I have two dozen MORE CDs I should address. Four I haven’t heard, and – fortunately – a few I haven’t received yet. Don’t know that I’ll be as verbose in the future. BTW, I expect that, eventually, the song lists of all of these bloggers will show up on Lefty’s page. If Chris’ list shows up on the page, I’ll link to that. MY list will show up on THIS page, also eventually.

The Lydster -Part 15: Adventurers in Babysitting

I was reminding someone that I was going to be out of work for a day earlier this month in order to watch Lydia. Someone said, “Oh, you’re going to babysit Lydia.” Hmm. Can you babysit your own child? I’ve heard this before, and something about it has never resonated correctly with me, but maybe I’m being overly sensitive.

So, I go to several dictionaries to look up babysitting/babysitter:

  • to take care of someone’s baby or child while that person is out, usually by going to their home
  • a person engaged to care for one or more children in the temporary absence of parents or guardians
  • a person who cares for or watches over someone or something that needs attention or guidance

    OK, so there’s some wiggle room in the third definition.

    Then I asked Carol: “Has ANYONE EVER said to you, “Oh, you need to babysit Lydia [because she’s sick, etc.]? And the answer, as I suspected, was “No.” SHE watches, SHE tends to, SHE cares for. And I babysit? Nah, *I* watch, *I* tend to, *I* care for.

    I really believe the linguistic distinction matters. When she’s ready to be in a relationship and have children THOUSANDS of years now, I want her to have a partner who is a caregiver, not a babysitter.

    Of course, it was difficult to give Lydia care when she went three or four days this month when she ONLY wanted Mommy, ironically around Father’s Day, but that too has passed.

    What hasn’t passed is her utter rejection of her high chair in the past 72 hours in favor of a “grown-up” chair that she can pull herself onto. She is now at the table (in the booster seat), just like everyone else.

    And that’s what I learned about myself from my daughter THIS month. Happy year and a quarter, Lydia.

  • JEOPARDY Part 5

    Continued from Saturday, June 18.

    Why are there over a half dozen Boston media trucks parked in front of the Boston Park Plaza Hotel? It can’t be for JEOPARDY!

    Being an information specialist, I figure I’d better find out, and who better to consult than the doorman?

    So, I asked him. He gave me that look that said, “You dummy!”, but he answered, “The President’s coming!” I was going to ask him the president of what, but then I got it. THE President is coming here? But why?

    As it turned out, President Clinton, Vice-President Gore, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and other dignitaries were going to be at the hotel for a fancy (read: high-priced) fund-raising dinner. The President was in Cincinnati earlier in the day, but was flying in for this evening.

    You need to remember the time frame: this was the Monicagate era. Eventually, I could look down from my upper story room (12th floor?) and see many hundred protesters. It seemed that they were split about 50/50. Half were upset with President Clinton because of his behavior and the effect it had on the country. But the other half was outraged by Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor, for putting all of the lurid details about Bill and Monica on the Internet. “Pornographer” was often used in the anti-Starr signage. (My view at the time was “a pox on both houses.”)

    Judy, Max and I went to see an OMNIMAX showing of a movie about Mount Everest, which was most exciting. (Max going to the OMNIMAX – how cool is THAT for a teenager?, I thought). Then we went out to dinner. When we got back, 4 of the 5 building entrances were inaccessible for security reasons. (I heard later in an interview that Alex Trebek also had difficulty getting back in, but I did not see him.)
    There was a large canopy that stretched to the middle of the street. One could not see anyone coming in or out of the event. Cars would drive under the canopy, then out. When we walked back from dinner, we noted that the glass was tinted as well (and bullet-proof, too, I gather.) We also saw security on adjoining rooftops.

    We went into the hotel through the only means of access and went up to my room. Judy’s car was in the lot, and she was unlikely to be able to get out very easily. Also, the event downstairs was apparently running late, so we watched the last episode of the Larry Sanders Show on HBO. Judy and Max left around 11:30, when the roads were finally clear, and they stayed at a nearby hotel. I went to bed but slept fitfully.

    The next morning, I went down to get my complementary breakfast, but I really couldn’t eat. In fact, I was feeling a little queasy. We were to meet in the hotel lobby with our change of clothes at 11:30 a.m. We rode in a couple vans for the two or three block trip to the Wang Center.

    We went into a room and met Susanne Thurber, talent coordinator, who gave us tips on playing the game. Among other things, she noted that the place was much larger (seating capacity 3200) than the small theater where the show is filmed (250). She noted that a good game involves clearing the board, so we should go right to the next clue as soon as possible, always indicating the category and the amount. We should be upbeat. (She told us a lot of other good stuff which I’ve since forgotten.)

    Boston was really psyched to have JEOPARDY! in town. The show had traveled before, to Stockholm, Washington, DC and Berkeley, but this was a first for this town. I understand that it was chosen because of the extremely high viewership per capita. The Globe, the Herald, and even the Christian Science Monitor were there, interviewing Susanne, Alex Trebek, head writer Gary Johnson, and others.

    This is how the Boston Herald’s Marisa Guthrie described the set (9/19/98): “The Wang stage was littered with Boston props, from a bigger-than-life sculpture of Paul Revere astride his trusty mare to a scaled-down replica of the Old North Church with the top of the steeple cut off. (It won’t show up on camera anyway.)” There was a preponderance of red brick everywhere, from the game board to the players’ lecterns.

    In fact, if you go here, and click on “Boston photo album”, you’ll see the set, including a picture of (ahem) me. If you’re in the “Contestants” field, you will also see (er) me. (The interview section is no longer functional; whatever profundities that I said are now lost to the ages.)

    I’m wandering around on stage, when suddenly, I had the sense that I was being followed. Some guy I don’t know says, “Glad to see you, Roger. Good luck!”

    Continued on Saturday, July 2.

    Memories of Pop

    So I went up to my attic, trying to find some memorabilia for a project I’m working on, about which I will tell you about soon. I didn’t find the memorabilia, but I DID find 10 notebooks I used as diaries between 1979 and 1987, which will also be helpful for that aforementioned mysterious project. But it IS rather painful to read about your immature, self-absorbed thoughts from 25 years ago. (As opposed to my current MATURE, self-absorbed thoughts.)

    One of the things I re-discovered was the death of my grandfather a quarter century ago this week. I knew he had died sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, but the precise date had fled my memory.

    Pop is what we (my parents, my sisters and I) called my father’s father, McKinley Green. Everyone else called him Mac. My nuclear family lived downstairs in a very small two-family house in Binghamton. Pop and his wife, my Grandma Green, Agatha (and it was A gath’ a, not Ag’ ath a) lived upstairs. This was one of two houses owned my mother’s mother, Grandma (Gertrude) Williams, who lived about six blocks away. (HER death I remember quite well: Super Bowl Sunday, 1982.)

    Pop was a janitor at WNBF-TV and radio; eventually, the TV station was sold, but he maintained his job at the radio station. I’m not quite sure just how old was, but he was well past the age of retirement, yet the station kept him on to work as long as he wanted, and as much as he wanted. He was such an amiable man that people liked him to be around.

    He used to bring home albums (LPs) that had been discarded by the station. Most were “beautiful music” with no artist even listed, or in later years, obscure rock bands that I had never even heard of, but three discs stand out in my mind.

  • “50 Stars, 50 Hits on two great country albums!” That’s the way it was advertised on TV, and I was thrilled when Pop brought a copy home. It featured Buck Owens, George Jones, Minnie Pearl, T. Texas Ruby and many more -46 more, to be precise. In Binghamton in the 1960s, you could get these clear channels (not to be confused with the conglomerate Clear Channel) at night, and I could get stations in New York and Cleveland. I could also reach WWVA in Wheeling, WV, a country station, and I probably listened a couple nights a week for four or five years.
  • Gary Lewis and the Playboys Greatest Hits- Jerry’s son’s band doing The Loser (with a Broken Heart), Where Will the Words Come From, (You Don’t Have to) Paint Me a Picture, My Heart’s Symphony, and my favorite, Jill.
  • The soundtrack to the movie The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968). I saw this movie with my high school friend Carol and HER friend Judy, on whom I had a tremendous crush (though nothing ever came of it.) The film, starring Britt Eklund and Jason Robards, was the film debut of Elliot Gould and served as the final film for Bert Lahr. It started with Rudy Vallee saying: “In 1925, there was this real religious girl. And, quite by accident, she invented the striptease. This real religious girl. In 1925. Thank you.” It also featured songs like “Take 10 Terrific Girls, But Only 9 Costumes.” For a 15 year old, this was really hot stuff, even though the “striptease” in the movie lasted a nanosecond, so getting the album was quite fine.

    Pop was an avid hunter. He provided the vast majority of the venison I’ve ever eaten in my life. The only time I ever used a firearm was with Pop. We went out to the woods somewhere, and he gave me his rifle. I fired. Naturally, the recoil left me sitting on my butt. Pop also liked to bowl, work on cars, and especially go to the track, particularly in Monticello.

    I used to go upstairs and play gin rummy with him while we watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. In the later years, I’d beat him about 50% of the time. On a bulletin board, he had a faded newspaper clipping of Ed Marinaro, the Cornell running back, who was the son or nephew of a friend of his; Marinaro eventually played Officer Joe Coffey on Hill Street Blues.

    From my 6/26/1980 diary: “Pop was a very dark-skinned man with grey hair, thinning, but more prevalent than mine, combed straight back… I recall a certain twinkle in his eye, though I hadn’t seen him in a year and a half or longer; he was never home when I dropped by. I probably should have written more often, but he never wrote back…I would have called if had [had] a telephone, but he refused… The phone company would have required a deposit in switching service from Grandma Green’s name [she died in the mid-1960s] to his, even tho’ he had been paying the bills, [so he had the phone taken out.] He was stubborn that way.”

    I was going to write about Pop’s death, and I will soon. But it was nice to write a little about Pop’s life.

  • Poor Lynn Moss

    When I worked at FantaCo back in the 1980s, I would see Lynn Moss occasionally. She was very patient with this guy she was married to. I really appreciated how she tolerated the comic fandom/geekdom she found herself was surrounded with. Also, her husband can be PRETTY obsessive, and he would (probably) agree with the assessment.

    And, since her husband’s website has now become the mecca for all things comic book (and Beatles and “24” and their daughter Julie), it can only be worse now. Of course, in this case, she has only herself to blame, since she is the webmistress of said website. Though she has taught him some stuff, like how to do the daily postings, she’s still there to troubleshoot.

    I tried to call her husband a couple weeks ago when his web server was (as it turned out) temporarily down, but he was out taking Julie horseback riding. So Lynn and I got to talk for the first time in at least 17 years, I believe. It was great. We talked about humor (something for a future blog, I think), FantaCo, blogging (she had read my then most recent post), and her technologically-impaired spouse.

    I’ve subsequently discovered that Lynn and I have a mutual acquaintance who was living on State Street in Albany at the same time Lynn and her hubby were first visiting FantaCo, a mere two blocks away, but never ran into each other. This is a fact that I gleaned because she saw mention of an old high school chum of hers in one of my blog posts, which pleased me greatly.

    So happy 26th anniversary, Lynn Moss and Fred Hembeck. Maybe Carol, Lydia and I will actually SEE youse guys and Julie one of these days. If you haven’t already, read the LOVELY story about the photographer at their wedding here, and see some of those pictures here (June 23).