in the dark

Sometimes, I start writing a blog post that doesn’t come together satisfactorily. Here are some recent examples.

I started a post called Weird. One aspect was how some political emails I received mentioned people by their full proper names. “Tell James Daniel Jordan your opinions.” Or “Are you supporting Elizabeth Lynne Cheney?” Or “Thank Charles Ellis Schumer.” These are, of course, Gym Jordan – I mean Jim Jordan, Liz Cheney, and Chuck Schumerr, respectively.

This led to an internal discussion about why some younger performers receive the “whose real name is” treatment while I’ve not seen “Ice-T, whose real name is Tracy Lauren Marrow.”  Most casual fans didn’t even know the original names of Martin Sheen (Ramón Estévez), Vin Diesel (Mark Sinclair), etc. But do I get into old-time actors like Archibald Leach (Cary Grant) and Marion Morrison (John Wayne)? Mission creep.


The initial impetus for Weird was a trip from our house in Albany to a restaurant in Troy, a distance of seven miles, the day after the August blue moon. We passed a broken-down CDTA bus, then the aftermath of at least five accidents. A cop car was blocking the entrance to the gas station across from our dining establishment.

A few weeks later, I sat at the bus stop on Western Avenue at N. Allen, waiting to go downtown. Two cars were in the two westbound lanes. The vehicle in the right lane made a right turn. Then, the car in the left lane also made a right turn. Instead of falling behind the first car, it attempted to pass and got hit on the right passenger side. Weird. And stupid.

Let there be light.

One thing we need to fix in our house is providing more illumination. It’s weird how bad my night vision is. The light at the top of the stairs is too faint for one, especially THIS one, to see well. But the fixture is sealed, so we can’t open it to replace the bulbs. There’s a nightlight on constantly because it’s too far from the outdoor light.

The living room has long been a problem. We need to replace the ceiling fan with one that isn’t as wonky and has a light future. As a guy who goes to the file cabinet that contains 70% of my CDs, I can’t read the titles on the spine at night or when it’s overcast.

But the most problematic, and the most weird, is the main kitchen light. It works great. Then it stops. Based on my experience working at FantaCo in the 1980s, the problem isn’t the light bulbs – which we could replace – but the ballast. When I walked into the kitchen one evening, I could see. Then, I could not. I bumped into a Chewy box next to an open bag of cat litter. The litter was dumped onto the floor. Other examples of weird I either incorporated into another post or forgot.

N is for Nicknames, names one nicks

Elizabeth was totally off the table, despite being the name of the only British monarch in my lifetime.

One of the great things my father did was to name me Roger, which does not engender a lot of nicknames. He also did not name me after himself, also good. That might have gotten m called Junior, or Bud (like on the TV show Father Knows Best).

I was thinking about this because Rob Hoffman wrote about nicknames, and specifically about how certain names are more prone to variations.

“Elizabeth – (Betty, Beth, Liz, Lizzie, Betts, Bette) This name provides a lot of flexibility. Elizabeth is royal, while Betty is a fun neighbor with a silly laugh. Liz is a ‘good-time,’ but Lizzie is downright dangerous.)” Which is why, when naming our daughter, Elizabeth was totally off the table, despite being the name of the only British monarch in my lifetime AND my late mother’s middle name.

Mom, BTW, was named Gertrude, after her mother. She was usually called Gertie by her cousins, which she disliked less than her formal name, but not by much. As an adult, though, she became Trudy and THAT suited her.

My father was named Leslie, but he always was Les in my reckoning. Les is also the shortened form of Lester, though, and some people, in an attempt to be formal, referred to him with that moniker. You could see him bristle.

Roger doesn’t really lend itself to shortening, other than Rog, and I like that. There have been attempts to give me nicknames, and I always fought them off. When I was a janitor at Binghamton (NY) City Hall in the spring and summer of 1975, one of the other custodians tried to dub me “Flash”, because I got my core work done in six hours, and then would do the extra stuff, such as buffing the floor, and still have time to talk to the police captain, or read, or clean the doors yet another time – glass doors always have fingerprints.

He and his colleague took as long as they could, never did work beyond what was required, and sometimes not even that. So they called me Flash, I acted as though I didn’t hear them. Eventually, they gave up.

For ABC Wednesday

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