Old Father 2010


So what kind of year was 2010?

I’m still sad that my local YMCA closed. I was a member there from December 1982 to April 2010. I played racquetball there, and occasionally volleyball as well. My attempt to play racquetball elsewhere proved unworkable.

My bike was stolen; majorly bummed by that.

The blog I do for the Times Union newspaper got excerpted in the print edition at least a half dozen times this year. The problem with that, of course, is that the blurb may be confusing to the reader out of context. Still, people actually recognize me from this, which, I guess, is a good thing. I’m notorious enough to be asked to participate in that To Kill A Mockingbird readathon.

I’ve been attending my current church and singing in the choir for 10 years. We got a new choir director this fall. After eight years of stability, the last couple years was full of transition in the leadership of the choir; hope this guy sticks around a while. I’ve been a Presbyterian for eight years Continue reading

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December Ramblin’


I’ve enjoyed seeing composer Steven Sondheim, lyricist for West Side story, a funny Thing happened on the Way to the Forum, and many, many other musicals, a couple times on television recently, promoting his book “Finishing the Hat: Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes.” I’ve ordered the book if only for the lyrics themselves, and what he’ll have to say about them. I enjoyed hearing about the strong tutelege of family friend Oscar Hammerstein. He has appeared on Stephen Colbert‘s program and on The Newshour on PBS. Part of the latter interview is here:
JEFFREY BROWN: And the greatest focus is on words that rhyme….He uses an old rhyming dictionary and a 1946 edition of “Roget’s Thesaurus.”
STEPHEN SONDHEIM: A rhyme draws the ear’s attention to the word. So, you don’t make the least important word in the line the rhyme word. So, you have to — and also a rhyme can take something that is not too strong and make it much stronger…
BROWN: And…he believes words that are spelled differently, but sound alike, such as rougher and suffer Continue reading

Beatles Island Songs, 143-134



JEOPARDY Answers of the day-
BEATLES MUSIC: Chauffeur Alf Bicknell was the inspiration for this 1965 song
BEATLES TUNES: It’s the Beatles’ only U.S. No. 1 hit single whose title is the name of an actual place.
Questions at the end

The rules of engagement

143 Michelle from Rubber Soul. Pretty song, and in French, no less, but desparately overplayed in the day. The name became a Top 10 name for US girls from 1966 through 1980.
142 Rocky Raccoon from the white album. A cheeky McCartney folk song, enjoyable enough.
141 I’ve Got a Feeling from Let It Be. I like the fact that this was really a McCartney/Lennon song, even at that late date.
140 You Like Me Too Much from Help! (UK), Beatles VI. Like the saloonish intro to this Harrison song.
139 Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey from the white album. I was in college playing charades Continue reading

X is for Ex, Xi, Xu


I used to play the board game SCRABBLE a lot when I was child, especially with my great aunt Deana. The goal isn’t to make the longest, or best words, but rather, to get the most points. So, here are acceptable two-letter words that one can use in the English-language edition utilizing the letter X. Getting an X – worth 8 points, same as the J, and more than any other save for the Q and the Z (10 points each), can be eXhilarating or eXhausting, depending on the words on the board and the other letters in your tray.

Knowing these short words will help, especially when building words in two directions. (BTW, there are sets available in several different languages, and these examples may not apply.)
AX (oh, you knew that one)
EX the letter ‘x’ (spelling letters can be useful; ar, ef, el, em, en – the latter two also printers’ measures)
OX (you had that one, too)

XI the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet (other Greek letters in this category: mu, nu and, of course, pi)
XU a minor currency of Vietnam, 100 xu = 1 dong

“Knowing which words are acceptable – even if you have no idea of their definitions – is a perfectly legitimate strategy, and all expert players have memorized all the two-letter words and often the three-letter words as well.”

Here are the three-letter words that use the letter X:
Continue reading

Roger Answers Your Questions, Denise, Tom, Shooting Parrots, Jaquandor & dogs

What a great bunch of responses to my request!


Ginger, Buddy and Shadow proving doggie wisdom from Pawprints in the Sands of Time ask the fundamental question:
Alright, here’s for your wish…Why do u want us to play this game of questions and answers this Christmas?

Because I learn so much, both about the person, er, entity, who is asking, and more, about myself as I think about things that might not have otherwise occurred to me. In other words, it’s an exercise in self-reflection.
***
I “know” Denise Nesbitt – and “know” is such an interesting term for someone you have never actually met, but it’s accurate nevertheless – through her creation of ABC Wednesday. She also can be found at Mrs. Nesbitt’s Space.
OK What did you buy your wife, mother and daughter for Christmas Roger?

There was this Medieval Faire every year at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY for about 30 years. And while I was going out with Carol, I sometimes -thrice, she tells me – would buy her a hand knit wool sweater from this particular woman. Then the faire stopped for about eight years. I’d buy her a sweater from LL Bean, and once from this Irish shop across the river in Troy, but it just wasn’t the same. Then last year, the faire was backe…I mean, back! Unfortunately, this particular vendor couldn’t make it, as she had another commitment. Bummer. But this year, she was back, Carol hinted heavily what she wanted, we walked away, but later, I came back and bought. There was also this teddy bear that she lost, that was given to her by her late brother; I found not quite a replica, but close.

Lydia got a lot of things: books, clothes, an enhanced version of the old game Twister, with CDs rather than a spinner; the big thing was this expensive doll she wanted, complete with wardrobe. In fact, her mother and I had purchased SO many items, we held some back for her birthday, three months hence. At that same Faire I mentioned, there was a soap in the shape of a seashell that Santa discovered she wanted.

My mother has been difficult to shop for for years. If you ask her directly, she’ll either say, “Oh anything” or “You needn’t bother.” Unhelpful to be sure. But my sister tells me that she really likes these puzzle books. I ended going to the CVS Pharmacy, found a couple of those, plus a lap blanket and a bathrobe – it’s been COLD in North Carolina lately.
***
Shooting Parrots, who provides “random thoughts in a random world”, asks:
What was the best ever Christmas present you received? And which was the worst?!
I think the best is the unexpected: my father helping me on my Sunday paper route on Christmas morning in 1966, or our first color TV in 1969, or the free tree my then significant other and I got on Christmas Eve 1991 from Sears, and took home on a city bus.
Worst? Continue reading

The Lydster, Part 81: Letting Go


Part of the difficulty with this Christmas is that The Daughter did not seem to want to give up anything she already has. Games and toys, especially stuffed animals, that are well past her presumed age range she holds onto like a canteen of water in the desert. She also has all of her books, but I give that a bit of a pass. Her daily homework involves her reading 15 minutes each weekday, so the books we used to read to her, she can now read herself.

Not that a few items didn’t disappear Continue reading

Merry Christmas QUESTIONS


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

How are spending your Christmas? (Or how did you spend it?)
What did you give as gifts? What did you get?
If you’re Jewish, are you spending it at a Chinese restaurant?

The great thing about this year, contrary to some (most) previous years, is that my wife became a much better hinter than she used to be. So she knows she’s getting that handmade wool sweater she saw at the Medieval Faire back in October. But the upside is that I had her primary gift, in OCTOBER.
Continue reading

All I Want For Christmas Is You


I’m serious now. What I would like most from you this Christmas is for you to participate in a little thing I call ASK ROGER ANYTHING, which involves…well, you know. And he -[stop talking about yourself in third person] – I have to answer your questions honestly, leaving a modicum of wiggle room for obfuscation. You may ask in the comment section or, if you’d rather, e-mail me. I will say that responses to e-mails of people who wish to remain anonymous will probably be murkier than those from people who own their requests. I’ll be answering them during Christmastide, which is to say the 12 days of Christmas, that period between tomorrow and Epiphany.

Meanwhile, I’ll be singing tonight at church. No surprise Continue reading

Beatles Island Songs, 153-144

JEOPARDY Answer of the day – POP MUSIC: Take 2 letters off a Beatles song title & you get this title of Paul McCartney’s 2002 live CD of his American tour. (Question is below.)

The rules of engagement

153 From Me to You. This song wasn’t on any album I owned until the Past Masters Volume 1 CD! Fine song, actually, but I just plain forget about its existence.
152 Within You Without You from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. An interesting, if ultimately slightly pedantic theological treatise from Harrison.
151 Please Mr. Postman from With the Beatles (UK), The Beatles’ Second Album (US). A song orginally by the Motown group the Marvelettes; this is a competent cover from John, but not better than the original.
150 The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill from the white album. A very funny Lennon song, particular the falsetto. Not sure what it means, but that’s all right.
149 Ask Me Why from Please Please Me (UK), Introducing the Beatles/The Early Beatles (US). Like the Latin feel of the Lennon song. Also the double meaning of the word “please”. Continue reading

The Giveaway: The (Delayed) Results

You know about the best laid plans. Way back on May 5, to inaugurate my new blog, I decided to have a giveaway of five items for anyone leaving a comment of five words or more, the rule designed to eliminate those who might leave a comment like, “Nice!” or “Thanks!” Besides, it was my FIFTH anniversary, so I wanted FIVE words, OK? At least one smart aleck left me a comment something like “So: Five words then, huh?” Hey, that qualified.

The entry period was May 3 through July 3, inclusive. I picked the latter date because one of the items, the Billboard book was supposed to ship in early July. Well, it didn’t; I didn’t receive it until mid-August. By this time, we were the throes of busyness around the Pakistani wedding, followed immediately by the buyness of back to school.

Then, I misplaced two of the items for a couple weeks, then it totally slipped my mind for a couple weeks until I cleaned the work desk and said, “Oh, nuts, THAT’S still here?”

I went into the comments section for the new blog and noted 372 comments. Then I picked the random number generator for six numbers. Frankly, I didn’t bother to check if they all qualified – and at least one was mine, which would NOT qualify. But if the post was unacceptable, I’d skip it for the next choice, which proved to be necessary.

I contacted the first person who got the choice of any of the prizes; once selected, the second person got the choice of any of the remaining items, and so on.

I wrote You may select ONE item from the following:
any one of the three items listed in this post, or
the complete Dick van Dyke DVD set
the CD -The List by Rosanne Cash
the CD-Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits
the book – The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg
(later, when I found it, I added to the list)

1. Joy from A Raft of Apples requested that I send her something not on the list. “Send me a picture postcard. On the plus side, still only one trip to the post office, on the minus you may not have convenient postcard availability.
“I’m a collector of postcards and also a Postcrosser (random people from around the world send each other cards). I’m fascinated by the countries of the world and the cards are little moments of time and places complete with messages on the back.”

Well, how could I turn THAT down!

She received it and wrote:
“Hi Roger
Thanks for the Albany Skyline postcard, your home town beautiful in the setting sun. And also thanks for the UK way date, LOL, it also came with a nice clear US Mail cancellation, which leaves me in no doubt as it had Nov on the date so us Brits don’t get confused:-)
I agree with you, blogging is a great introduction to the citizens of the world.”
Well, of COURSE, I dated it day, month, year; it makes sense. The only reason why I don’t do it always is the possibility of confusion, such as on my work timesheet.

2. LisaF of peripheral perceptions asked for Beyond words: daily readings in the ABC’s of Faith.
She wrote:
“Just wanted to let you know the book arrived today! It’s much thicker than I expected it to be. The timing is perfect as I just finished my other book and plan to start reading it tonight before I fall asleep. Funny thing….a dollar coin dropped out of the pages when I opened it up! Was that suppose to happen? :-)”
Oh, yeah, that was in the rules too. One Presidential dollar coin of whoever’s coin was out most recently on May 2 and that turned out to be Millard Fillmore, the 13th and one of the least regarded Presidents. But at least the coin was pretty.

3. Scott of Scooter Chronicles requested The Heart of Christianity” by Marcus Borg. I’ll get back to him presently.

4. Amy B of Amy’s Miscellany also wanted Beyond Words, which I could accommodate. She said nice things about me – blush – in her blog.

5. Now here’s where it gets strange. I tell the next person, but I’m clearly not being understood, because she has never made a selection, despite e-mails back and forth. The opportunity is still open to her. But I didn’t want to wait too long; I wanted to ship them all at the same time.

6. As it turned out, Scott, a frequent commenter, got ANOTHER pick. This time, he took what I thought he’d pick in the first place, the Billboard book. He thanked me and noted that his son Nigel was impressed. “He said, ‘That’s a lot of stuff, Daddy!’ after I piled everything on the table. He especially liked the coins.”

So it’s not entirely resolved yet, but I wanted to write this during the calendar year.