T is for transportation

Early in October, I needed to get back from my hometown of Binghamton, NY back to my home in Albany in order to see The Color Purple at Proctors Theatre in nearby Schenectady. I stopped at the nice newish transportation hub in Binghamton, which had been spruced up a whole lot since I last took a bus out of Binghamton.

Unfortunately, it closed at 9:45 p.m., and I was there at 10:30. Worse, when I got online, I discovered that the bus I wanted, which leaves at 4:15 a.m.(!), was sold out.

Still, my friend got up at 3:15 to take me to the bus station; now THAT is a true pal. A bus heading for Syracuse, north, but a couple hours west of Albany, shows up around 4:15. The last time I needed to buy a ticket when the station was closed I would buy it from the driver.

Apparently, the procedure now is that he holds my ID, drives me to Syracuse, and THEN I buy a ticket for the trip I’ve already taken, and get my ID back. Then I buy a ticket for the bus from Syracuse to Albany, which was showing up at 6:30, only a half hour after I arrived; cool.

Syracuse has an even nicer transportation hub. I could have caught the train from there, if necessary.

I liked this: a young woman was heading back to college in western Massachusetts from Rochester, west of Syracuse. Unfortunately, she overslept and missed her bus. Fortunately, her father drove her the nearly 90 miles from Rochester to Syracuse in the middle of the night. She was very appreciative.
***
When I ride my bike, I ride along the right side of the road, the way I am supposed to. At least a couple times a week, I see a guy bearing right at me, because he’s going on the left side, usually going the wrong way on a one-way street to boot.

Almost every time this happens, he yells, “You’re on the wrong side!” To which I yell back, “You are incorrect.” Short of throwing page 91 of the New York State driver’s manual, which reads, “Where there is [no bicycle lane, bicyclists] must remain near the right curb or edge of the road or on a right shoulder of the road, to prevent interference with other traffic,” there’s not much I can do.

For ABC Wednesday

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Q is for Famous Quotation

My late father used to say, fairly frequently as I recall, this quotation: “It is better to remain silent and be thought of as a a fool than to speak up and remove any doubt.”

But who was he quoting? I couldn’t find anything in Bartelby or Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the latter, in print form, a constant source of my entertainment growing up.

Finally, I found a similar quotation at Quote Investigator. Was it attributed to Abraham Lincoln? Mark Twain? A Biblical Proverb?

“There is a biblical proverb that expresses a similar idea, namely Proverbs 17:28. Here is the New International Version followed by the King James Version of this verse:

“‘Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.’

“‘Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.'”

After dismissing Lincoln and Twain because the attributions to them were so much after their time, and noting the Proverbs have not quite the same sentiment, QI favors Maurice Switzer, from a “book titled ‘Mrs. Goose, Her Book’… The publication date was 1907 and the copyright notice was 1906. The book was primarily filled with clever nonsense verse, and the phrasing in this early version was slightly different:

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”

This all begs the question, Is it true? Do people actually think you’re smart if you retain a mysterious silence? Perhaps; this does not appear to be a period in history when a lot goes unsaid. That apparent need to always say SOMETHING is often to the detriment of the speaker, and, quite often, of us all.

Rather off topic, but LISTEN to the Tremeloes sing Silence is Golden.

For ABC Wednesday

N is for Nicknames

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 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

M is for Lisa Murkowski

There were three Republican Senators who voted against the so-called ““skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare in July 2017. One was John McCain of Arizona, who made a dramatic return to DC that week after a diagnosis of brain cancer. The other two were women who had been bucking their party all that week, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. All, it could be argued, put principle before party.

The female senators were on receiving end of insults from male officials. “They were told that they… deserve a physical reprimand for their decisions not to support Republican health-care proposals.

Senator Murkowski is particularly interesting to me because she has won three full terms to the Senate, yet has never won a majority of the vote. “Murkowski was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, who resigned his seat in December 2002 to become the Governor of Alaska. She completed her father’s unexpired term, which ended in January 2005. She ran for and won a full term in 2004,” with 48.5% of the vote.

“She ran for a second term in 2010. She lost the Republican Party nomination to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. She then ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams in the General Election,” with 39.5% of the vote, “making her the first U.S. Senator to be elected by write-in vote since Strom Thurmond [of South Carolina] in 1954.”

In fact, I predicted that victory in this very blog on 2 November 2010:
“But I will go out on a limb to say that I think Lisa Murkowski will barely retain her Senate seat in Alaska. Three-way polling is much less reliable than that done for a two person race. Good news: her name will appear on a list of potential write-in candidates. Bad news: there are about 100 people on the list. Good news: she has great name recognition in the state. Bad news: she’s been around a long time, and her father before her. Good news: it is established that a vote for a write-in candidate must be counted, if the intent is clear. So someone drawing the three pictures on this page could be seen as voting for Murkowski, like so:”

mer

cow

ski

The French word for sea is MER + COW + SKI = Murkowski.

In 2016, she won again, with 44% of the vote. The political threats to her has not fazed her, maybe because she doesn’t have to run for office again until 2022.

For ABC Wednesday

I is for I Was a Communist for the F.B.I.

The movie I Was A Communist for the F.B.I., it seems, was on television a LOT when I was a kid. And I’d usually watched it.

We only had two TV stations. One was the CBS affiliate, Channel 12, WNBF-TV at the time, which also carried some ABC shows. The other was the NBC affiliate, Channel 40, WINR-TV. And one or both of them would play this 1951 melodrama regularly, to fill their weekend afternoon programming.

From the Wikipedia:

“The story follows [Pittsburgh steelworker Matt] Cvetic, who infiltrated a local Communist Party cell for nine years and reported back to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on their activities.

“The film and [1952-1953] radio show are, in part, artifacts of the McCarthy era, as well as a time capsule of American society during the Second Red Scare. The purpose of both is partly to warn people about the threat of Communist subversion of American society. The tone of the show is ultra-patriotic…”

From Rotten Tomatoes:

“The real Matt Cvetic was a borderline alcoholic with a nasty disposition (he once allegedly beat his sister-in-law so badly she required hospitalization). But Cvetic was also a fervent anti-communist, and so, for a brief period in the early 1950s, he was a folk hero. I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. is the semi-true story of how Cvetic (played by Frank Lovejoy) renounced his friends and family and embraced the Red cause–on behalf of the F.B.I., for whom he was a volunteer undercover agent.”

It was a film so important to the Hollywood film collective that “it was nominated for the 1952 Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Feature category, though it’s about as much a documentary as On the Waterfront.” It rightly lost to Kon-Tiki.

Oddly, I think the movie had the opposite effect on me than it was supposed to. I haven’t watched it again. But YOU can here.

For ABC Wednesday.

W is for Junior Walker and the All-Stars

Among the wealth of artists that performed on the Motown labels in 1960s, I probably know about Junior Walker the least. He was born Autry DeWalt-Mixom, Jr. in Blythesville, Arkansas on 14 June 1931. He grew up in South Bend, Indiana.

He started his band, the Jumping Jacks, and his good friend, drummer Billy Nicks, had a group, the Rhythm Rockers, but the two would play on each other’s gigs. Since Nicks had a local TV show in South Bend, he asked Walker to join his band.

When Nicks got drafted, Walker convinced the group to move to Battle Creek, Michigan. After some personnel and name changes, the All Stars were signed by Harvey Fuqua to his Harvey records. “Fuqua’s labels were taken over by Motown’s Berry Gordy, and Jr. Walker & the All Stars [the usual spelling] became members of the Motown family, recording for their Soul imprint in 1964.”

The group’s first big hit was “Shotgun” in 1965, which “uses only one chord throughout the entire song — A-flat seventh. Other songs featuring this same structure (or non-structure) are Chain of Fools and Land of 1000 Dances.” The song is in the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. The All Stars were in a particular groove. The song appeared in several movies, including Malcolm X.

I have this Motown LP box set that explains that there was a songwriter – it doesn’t identify who, but it was either Johnny Bristol, who discovered the group; Fuqua, who took Bristol’s suggestion; or a guy named Vernon Bullock. The songwriter pitched the song to Junior, but he said it wasn’t his thing.

The next year, the songwriter said he still had that song, and Walker reluctantly agreed to record “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” in 1969. “A Motown quality control meeting rejected this song for single release, but radio station DJs made the track popular, resulting in Motown releasing it as a single.”

Junior Walker died of cancer on 23 November 1995 at the age of 64 in Battle Creek.

Listen to:

Shotgun, #4 pop, #1 rhythm & blues for four weeks in 1965 here or here

(I’m A) Road Runner, #20 pop, #4 r&b in 1966 here or here

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), #18 pop, #3 r&b in 1966 here or here

What Does It Take (To Win Your Love), #4 pop, #1 r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

These Eyes, #16 pop, # r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

Urgent (Foreigner, with Jr. Walker on sax solo), #3 pop in 1981, here or here

Urgent, 1983, appears in 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan, here or here

Round 20 of ABC Wednesday.

X is for Xylopolist

christmas_treeA xylopolist is someone who sells wood. Or, from Encyclo: 1. One who sells timber; a timber-merchant. 2. A dealer in wooden objects or one who sells various kinds of wood or wooden objects. I assume this includes someone who sells Christmas trees.

X is always tricky for ABC Wednesday participants. There are two common prefixes in English that start with X that folks have used quite often. Continue reading

Q is for Qualtagh

good-morning-this-morning (1)The Wiktionary defines qualtagh (Manx English) as “The first person one encounters, either after leaving one’s home or (sometimes) outside one’s home, especially on New Year’s Day.” Unused Words describes the word as “the first person one meets (either leaving or entering their house) after the start of the New Year.”

But the first reference I saw did not specify the New Year. So I started thinking about this Continue reading

P is for People songs

peopleI had all these posts for Round 15 lined up, either odd words or 70th birthdays, except for a few. After I mucked it over a good while, I said, to no one in particular, “I’ve got nothing, people.” Then suddenly, I did. Songs starting with the word People in the title that I own.

One must start, naturally, with People by Barbra Streisand, her signature song from Funny Girl that went to #5 in 1964 on the US Billboard singles charts. “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Is that true? I was rather fond of the cover version by Nat King Cole) that only went to #100 that same year.

A lot of People songs are inspirational. – People Get Ready by The Impressions), featuring Curtis Mayfield, went to #14 in 1965, but was an anthem of the civil rights movement.

People Are Strange by The Doors, #12 in 1967 Continue reading