Category Archives: Tosy

First Meme

From SamuraiFrog:

First Job: Among other things, my father arranged flowers for weddings and events such as debutante balls. Sister Leslie and I always got sucked into working on that.
But another choice would be when I’d sing at my father’s gigs. Eventually Leslie joined us, certainly before I was 14, and we did get paid, albeit usually not much.

First Real Job: Newspaper delivery of the Evening and Sunday Press when I was 12.
Or alternatively pick being a page at the Binghamton Public Library when I was 16.

First Favorite Politician: Bill Burns. He was mayor of Binghamton, a Democrat, when I was 16. He had succeeded his brother John, who was more naturally suave politician. Bill was now what you’d call a wonk and looked the part. I remember blowing up balloons at his headquarters. Unfortunately, he lost in 1969 (I think) to Al Libous, who I despised politically. When Libous ran for Congress in 1974, I worked hard for his opponent, Matt McHugh, who fortunately beat Libous.

First Car: It was always someone else’s car, like the Okie’s Volvo; I never remember car stuff.

First Record/CD: Beatles VI and other Beatles LPs, plus Daydream by the Lovin’ Spoonful; it was from the Capitol Record Club.

First Sport Played: Almost certainly baseball or softball; it depends whether it was on the school playground (softball) or at Ansco field (baseball), which we got to by walking through Spring Forest Cemetery.

First Concert: Seals & Crofts, November 12, 1971 in NYC; I’m convinced that J. Geils opened for them and was booed; the band may be a false memory, but the booing of the opening act was not.

First Foreign Country Visited: Canada. Niagara Falls, Ontario. I was…10?

First Favorite TV Show: Captain Kangaroo. Featured Mr. Green Jeans. Also, Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock, and the bizarre cartoon Clutch Cargo.

First Favorite Actor: Dick van Dyke from his eponymous show.

First Favorite Actress: Mary Tyler Moore, “The Dick van Dyke Show” Capri pants!

First Girlfriend/Boyfriend: I suppose how you define it. I suppose Martha when I was 15 or 16.

First Encounter with a Famous Person: For some reason, I was on the sidelines at a Boston Celtics-New York Knicks game and almost literally ran into Willis Reed, the Knicks center.
Actually shook Nelson Rockefeller’s hand twice while I was in high school.

First Brush With Death: I was about seven and I had a knit hat on. I thought I could see through it, so I put it over my head. Unfortunately, it cut off my peripheral vision and I almost got hit by a car while crossing the street in the middle of the block.

First House/Condo Owned: Well, technically, the house Carol bought, which we moved into when we got married. But I prefer to think of that as her house, and our current house, which we bought in May 2000,.

First Film Seen: I’m thinking State Fair; don’t know which version.

First Favorite Recording Artist: Probably, from my father’s singles, the Everly Brothers.

First Favorite Radio Station: WENE, 1360 (I think) AM, Top 40 radio in Endicott, NY.

First Book I Remember Reading: Probably some Dr. Seuss book, such as Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham.

First Meme You Answered on Your Blog: This one from Tosy in November 2005. ROG

May Ramblin'

I was listening to one of the few podcasts I follow regularly, Coverville; highly recommended, BTW. Anyway, there is sometimes a segment at the end called Musically Challenged, in which a listener provides a quiz for Coverville host Brian Ibbott, and usually for Brian’s wife Tina. Lo and behold, the quiz for episode 574 was provided by Tosy and Cosh. Tosy was the one who turned me onto Coverville.

I had requested of Brian that he play a Pete Seeger cover in honor of Pete’s 90th birthday a couple weeks ago. Well, Brian didn’t play any Pete covers on May 3, but instead dedicated the whole next show to Seeger. My request for one song became the inspiration for the entire episode. I am pleased.
A (weird) random conversation starter from Jaquandor.
On June 6, 2009, in honor of the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s trip up the river that now bears his name, a musician will be playing the Mid-Hudson Bridge, the bridge that connects Poughkeepsie and Highland, near my college town of New Paltz. Not just playing ON the bridge, but actually playing the bridge as an instrument.
1981 Video Predicts The Death Of Print Newspapers.
Mr. Frog reviews the warts-and-all complete history of Sesame Street. It includes discussion of this scene which always chokes me up:

How to test your copyright knowledge.
A couple television programs you should watch. They’ve already aired, but thanks to the Internet, they are easily retrievable.

One is Bill Moyers Journal of April 17. Bill interviews the executive producer of HBO’s critically-acclaimed show THE WIRE, David Simon who “talks…about inner-city crime and politics, storytelling and the future of journalism today.” I’ve never seen The Wire, but now I must watch it on DVD. But you don’t have to have watched that vaunted program to appreciate his insights.

The other is a two-part 60 Minutes report narrated by Lesley Stahl. In Part 1 she “reports on flaws in eyewitness testimony that are at the heart of the DNA exonerations of falsely convicted people like Ronald Cotton, who has now forgiven his accuser, Jennifer Thompson.” In Part 2, she “explores the task of an eyewitness to choose a criminal out of line up through memory. Jennifer Thompson falsely selected Ronald Cotton as her rapist.” Thompson and Cotton are now friends, and have co-written a book, Picking Cotton.
Dom Deluise as role model for Mark Evanier, of a sort.


The Lydster, Part 56: Too Shy

There are times when my daughter is bold and fearless. In her classroom, for instance, her teachers rave about how well she helps the newer students get acclimated. Other times, she just wants to retreat behind one of her parents.

Her favorite TV show – pretty much her ONLY TV show she watches on a regular basis, as we’re TRYING to limit her consumption – is something called Little Bear. It is based on some 1950s books by Maurice Sendak, for which, quite coincidentally, we received a three-in-volume volume of the book. Little Bear lives in the forest with his parents and has friends with Owl, Duck, Hen and Cat. The TV series was filmed in the 1990s in Canada.

Most of these stories she enjoys, but a few of them made her quite frightened: one with Father Bear arguing with the personified North Wind, a couple featuring goblins, which look more like Santa’s elves.

But the episodes cycle through and repeat after a number of weeks, and Lydia’s discovered that there’s nothing to fear from the wind or the goblins.

I was reminded that, last Christmastime, we were at a party. The kids went upstairs with an adult to play. As it turned out, they were watching Little Nemo. I went to check up on her, and I noticed my child, in ithe midst of a bunch of happy children, looking terrified. She ran to me, and I watched the remaining part of the movie with her, including the scary dentist scene, during which she buried her head under my arm.

It occurred to me while reading Tosy, who has two girls about Lydia’s age, that before we venture on showing Lydia the movie The Wizard of Oz, perhaps I ought to READ the story to her first. Interestingly, my wife has a friend whose daughter had seen the Wizard of Oz a half dozen times, or more, by the time she was THREE, and wasn’t afraid at all. I remember being still afraid of it at age seven; on the other hand, in a pre-video age, I saw it but once a year.

Ah, the power of repetition.


BOOK REVIEW: Freddie and Me

I wasn’t a big fan of the rock group Queen. I do own their Greatest Hits album on vinyl, but that’s it. But Mike Dawson was a HUGE fan. In his comic book autobiography, Freddie and Me: A Coming of Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody, Dawson talks about how his upbringing in England and eventually in the United States was heavily integrated with the music and the lives of Freddie Mercury and his band. This wasn’t just the background music in his life a la the movie The Big Chill; these tunes were core elements that affected the decisions he made throughout his early years.

The book is funny, and occasionally sad; it’s specifically personal, yet has a universal sense as well. For instance, when he notes how much he hated those Queen fans-come-lately who only knew “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the result of the movie “Wayne’s World”, it sounds like any number of comic book, art and music fans I’ve encountered over the years.(I think this speaks to Tosy’s feelings about the overplayed title tune of this book. If you’re a big fan of the group Queen or, oddly, George Michael, you’ll almost certainly love this book. If you’re a big fan of any musician or artist, you will certainly relate to the passion upon which Dawson draws.
Coincidentally, Freddie and me is one of several items for sale at ADD’s graphic novel sale.
Go to this episode of Coverville and hear the rare Michael Jackson/Freddie Mercury demo to the Jacksons’ hit “State of Shock” that ultimately featured Mick Jagger on guest vocal.


I got one of those invitations to be LinkedIn to a social networking page. I recognized the person, so I said yes. Later that morning, that same guy, who is a sales rep for a database service we use at work called to see how we were doing with the service. (I had previously spoken to him and complained about the interface of the database.) This led me to ask him, “what’s the benefit of the social network?” I can if he can just call me up, I don’t need to be “connected” to him. He explained that people that one of us is linked to is vetted, in a way. I scratched my head, knowing some people with hundreds of MySpace “friends”,e.g., are no more connected than people one night see at a bus stop.

I’ve gone to parties, and because I tend to be the one who tends more to Lydia than her mother on those occasions, I’ll not have a substantial conversation with anyone. I’ve gone to these father/child breakfast things at Lydia’s day care, and except for a couple dads I’d talk with previously, I didn’t really get to know any of them. We are in the same room, but there’s no real connection.

So how does one get to “know” people? I’m on a couple listservs at work, and just by people asking questions and answering them, I get a feel for the way their minds work. Certainly, I’ve got a sense for people via their blogs, but especially when I’ve exchanged music with them. I was reorganizing my music over the weekend – using drawers I bought at a library auction – and the mixed CDs of Green and Dymowski and Burgas and Brown (come back, Kelly!) and Brown and Bacardi all show up in the same drawer. I’ve never met any of them (well, except for Green), but I feel that I know them better than people I’ve seen face to face recently. That’s both kinda weird and kinda nice.
I’m enjoying listening to discs from Thom (two discs) and Tosy.

Buying New Music

It’s been a while since I went out and bought new music, but the Barnes & Noble had sent me a coupon worth 40% off on all CDs, after whatever sale prices applied. Sunday, I took the bus to the ever-expanding Colonie Center. B&N used to be in a free-standing building on Wolf Road in Colonie across from the mall. But at some point in the past few months, it has moved to its new location across the street.

I went in figuring I’d buy some new music, the new k.d. lang, the new Herbie Hancock that won a Grammy for best album(!) or maybe its predecessor which featured Paul Simon and Sting. I was also looking for the soundtrack of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, either the Julie Andrews or the Lesley Ann Warren version. NONE of them were there. O.K., now what?

So, I just systematically started looking through the albums. I was trying not to buy on CD the exact same albums I already own on vinyl, because a friend of mine told me about her recent experience converting vinyl to CD. That eliminated greatest hits by Bob Dylan, Queen, the Guess Who, Hall & Oates (yes, shut up), The Association (YES, shut up), and a couple others.

First album picked, much to my surprise: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John. I have all of the other “classic” period EJ albums on vinyl, save for the early Empty Sky, but never got this one. At some level, the garish cover, and the fact that the album went to #1 in its first week, turned me off at the time. But it was Elton’s 61st birthday recently, and the only CDs I had to play were various greatest hits collections, plus the later Made in England. I’m sure I was affected also by Johnny B.’s recent discussions of all things early Elton. What sealed the deal was one of the additional tracks. Along with Lucy in the Sky and Philly Freedom was One Day at a Time, which I assumed was not the theme song of the Bonnie Franklin TV show that debuted in 1975, but rather the John Lennon cut, and it was.

Second album: The Ramones Greatest Hits. I have a couple LPs, but have massive holes in the collection. Probably influenced by Gordon.

The third album: The Very Best of Todd Rundgren. I have various Nazz, Utopia and solo LPs, but still wanted this.

The fourth album: OK, no recent Herbie Hancock? How about some classic Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters, featuring the classic cut Watermelon Man? All right then.

These were all $12.99 each list price, so $7.80 after the coupon, and I might have quit there, but I discovered The Millennium rack. If you’ve been in a record store lately, you’d recognize these. Black and white picture, gray top. And there were several to choose from: the Platters, Tom Jones, the Allman Brothers were all considered. The cool thing about these is that they were $9.99 each, but three for $20 if I used my MasterCard. I ended up picking Joan Baez, who my father admired as far back as 1959, when he brought home the oddly-named The Best of Joan Baez; and John Mellencamp, probably in part because of the love Tosy had given him after his recent induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The final album was also on the Millennium rack, but was not a Millennium album. It was Lucinda Williams’ 2003 album World Without Tears. $16.99 list, but still with the 3 for $20 sticker. I might have gotten this one anyway, but Lefty Brown’s affection for her did not hurt. Also the fact that, because I had the 40% off coupon, 3 for $20 became 3 for $12, or $4 apiece. (BTW, there’s a second version of World Without Tears with three extra songs available out there. Oh, and the three for $20 continues through May 5.)

Total price, less than $47, under my $50 mental budget. So thanks, guys, for going shopping with me.
Elton Joe Performs “Dogs in the Kitchen” , the never-completed song, the lyrics of which appear in Captain Fantastic.


Tosy Was Wrong

Tosy wrote: For some reason, I get the feeling that everyone knows about Coverville. But maybe I’m wrong. Yup, Tosy, you were wrong, ’cause I wasn’t familiar with this eclectic website that offers a podcast two or three times a week consisting of cover songs, nothing but cover songs. Now I’ve subscribed to it via iTunes. I was considering listening to some of the earlier episodes, but there are 407 of them, so I thought the better of it.

I love cover tunes. I have whole albums dedicated to the works of Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, The Eagles, Marvin Gaye, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Curtis Mayfield, Charlie Mingus, Harry Nilsson, Doc Pomus, Pete Seeger, Richard Thompson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Who, and Neil Young. The Red, Hot Blue albums tend to be filled with covers. I have Motown artists covering other Motown artists, and pop versions of West Side Story. And Beatles – LOTS of Beatles covers.

Coverville also features a search mechanism by which one can find who covered what songs. The main search page was offline last I checked; however, Brian Ibbott, host and producer of the radio broadcast, has sent me a link to the beta search site that works much better. I’m loath to put the beta link on this page because the original search page will be back online soon, but if the original search engine is not working, e-mail me and I’ll get you the beta site.

It also has a discussion board, where I found this cover of Stairway to Heaven, if it had been done by four moptops:

Thank you for being wrong, Tosy.
There are other sites to search cover versions such as The Covers Project and Second Hand Songs.
Singing in a choir will keep you young
Misty Harris, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, January 05, 2008

Though Brahms and Beethoven aren’t what Richard Simmons had in mind with “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” new research suggests the composers’ choral work might be just what your body wants.

According to Victoria Meredith, a University of Western Ontario professor who used the school’s adult choirs as a “live research lab,” participation in choral music leads to increased respiratory function, improved overall health, a heightened immune system and improved brain function. Meredith also concludes that performing in a choir “can keep you younger and healthier for longer,” pointing to similar studies that found people who sing on a regular basis require fewer doctors’ visits, are less prone to falls, don’t need as much medication, and are less likely to be depressed.



The Merry Christmas Meme

From Tosy of New Jersey:

1. Favorite traditional Christmas song:
“The Coventry Carol”. I’m particularly fond of Alison Moyet’s version on the orginal “A Very Special Christmas”.

2. Favorite contemporary or modern Christmas song:
“The Bells of Christmas” by Julie Andrews from a Firestone LP in the mid-1960s. It was re-recorded with an extra-long bridge that utterly ruins it, though.

3. Christmas song that makes you cry
A performance of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” by Kim and Reggie Harris. It is a sad song, ultimately.

4. Real or artificial tree:
Real. I fear artificial trees.

5. Favorite Christmas edible treat
I take a shot of amaretto in a goblet, then pour eggnog into it. Not only does it taste good, it looks good.

6. White lights or multi-colored:
White. Though I grew up with these huge colored lights.

7. How many Christmas parties will you go to this year:
One. Already went.

8. Favorite act of kindness to perform during this season:
Random acts of kindness.

9. Favorite sounds of Christmas:

10. Favorite things to wear:
I have a Santa hat.

11. Favorite Christmas movie/TV special:
Except for Charlie Brown, don’t really watch them anymore.

12. Eggnog or hot chocolate:
Depends on the temperature outside.

13. Favorite Christmas book:
This hardbound book of carols I got for my wife a couple years ago.

14. Christmas books on my “to read” list:

15. Peppermint or cinnamon:
Peppermint usually.

16. What’s on the top of your tree:
An angel.

17. Traditional Christmas meal growing up:
Don’t really remember.

18. Online shopping or traditional “go to the store” shopping:
Online if it isn’t a small store.

19. Something you received as a Christmas gift as a child that you still have:
No clue. In all likelihood, some LPs, but couldn’t specify titles.

20. How many Christmas cards you have mailed so far:

21. Favorite source for Christmas ideas:
My wife.

22. Coordinated/themed or hodge-podge tree decorations:
Hodge-podge. My ornaments, her ornaments from when we were kids, new ornaments.

23. What’s on the top of YOUR Christmas wishlist:
A Hess truck.

24. Roles you’ve played in Christmas plays/programs:
Shepherd, wise man.

25. Wrapping paper or gift bags:
When I was a kid, I used to wrap presents in the comics section of the Sunday paper. I was often mocked by my family, and I abandoned it. I think I’ll go back to it.

26. When do you put up the tree:
Well, we hadn’t had one in a couple years. about two weeks before Christmas when we do.

27. When do you take the tree down:
New Years’ Day, or soon thereafter.

28. Do you have a nativity scene:
A creche on the fireplace mantle.

29. Hardest person to buy for:
My mother.

30. Easiest person to buy for:
My daughter.

31. Worst Christmas gift you ever received:
I have no idea.

32. When do you start shopping for Christmas:
It varies. Once upon a time, there was a Medieval Faire in October,, and I’d start then. Some years, it’s two weeks before Christmas, and I’d take a day off from work and do the whole thing.

33. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present:
Possibly, but unlikely.

34. Travel at Christmas or stay home:
Home for the first time since Lydia was born.

35. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer:
Yes, all nine.

36. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning:
Christmas morning.

37. Most annoying thing about this time of year:
Nasty people in over-crowded stores.

38. What I love most about Christmas:
Traditional Christmas music.
Educational Stocking Stuffers and a terrible gift idea.
Brian Lynch’s A Simulated Christmas , courtesy of ADD.
The Nine-Inning Holiday Trivia Quiz from ESPN; tough!


If I Had A Heart

Tosy posted this musical meme.

1. Put your music player on Shuffle

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER WHAT (this is in capital letters, so it is very serious).

“Tell Mama” – Etta James. Interesting and appropriate.

“It Might As Well Be Spring” – Sarah Vaughn. Well, my birthday DOES foretell the vernal equinox.

“Wake Up, Little Susie” – Elton John. Oh, oh, we’re in trouble deep. All our friends are saying, “ooo, la la.”

“1990”-Temptations. Lessee, in 1990, I was 37, quite possibly my favorite age to be.

“Independence Day” – Ani DeFranco. I would like to think that’s true.

“It’s Summer” – Temptations. Not a sun worshipper, but I do prefer it to the winter.

“Smile” – Lily Allen. Aw, shucks.

“My Favorite Things” – Andre 3000. well, not THINGS, but a nice sentiment, nonetheless.

“Me and Mr. Jones – Amy Winehouse. I wonder if it’s Dylan’s Mr. Jones.

10. WHAT IS 2+2?
“The Finale” from Next Stop Wonderland soundtrack. A fancy word for the Sum, I suppose.

“I Love You for Sentimental Reasons”- Sam Cooke. Another lovely sentiment.

“Supersonic” – J.J. Fad. Sure, why not?

“Til the Cops Come Knockin'” Maxwell. Well, the way things are going…

“20 Dollars” – Angie Stone. I think I’m worth more than that!

“My Dearest Darling” – Etta James. Some of these are so right on.

“God Bless Texas” – Brooks and Dunn. Then there are the occasional say what? responses.

“Number One Crush” – Garbage. Another appropriate notion.

“Night Ride Home” Joni Mitchell. Spookily dead on.

“Who Dares Wins” – the Streets. Well, not ENTIRELY clear, but appeals to my competitive streak.

“Littlest Birds” Jolie Holland. I won’t think too much on that.

“This Love of Mine” – Dinah Washington. I must be really fond of my buds.

“If I Had a Heart” – Joni Mitchell. Not to be confused with the Tin Man.
Fred Hembeck is plugging his upcoming book again. Some of the readers don’t seem to understand that no Marvel and DC product means no Marvel Age or Daily Planet strips, e.g. It DOESN’T mean no Marvel and DC characters; it’ll have LOTS of Marvel and DC characters, complete with squiggles. In fact, if the book does well, it wouldn’t shock me if Marvel tried to put together the Hembeck Marvel stuff (Fantastic Four Roast, Hembeck Destroys the Universe), though those involve several other artists, and it might not be practical.


Be Selfish

Someone (I thought it was Lefty, but I could be wrong) wrote down his or her personal mission statement, as it were, about who that person is. I’m thinking something along the lines of the famous What I Believe by Steve Martin, or maybe My Conviction from the Broadway musical Hair, a statement of beliefs. And since my birthday passed last month, now’s a good a time as any for mine.

Be selfish.
If you can’t find a good reason to do good, find a selfish one.
Don’t lie, not because it’s morally wrong, but because it’s just too inconvenient to keep track of.
Shovel your walk, clean up your property, not because it’s the neighborly thing to do, but you don’t want a summons from the city or a lawsuit.
Give blood for the free cookies.
Be a courteous driver because, if you end up in an accident, the paperwork alone will negate the time you saved running the red light.
Let people off the bus before you get on, because there will then be more room for you.
Be selfish. For everyone’s sake.

I need more, but that’s a first pass.
BTW, the picture was inspired by someone – OK, Lefty’s wife – who takes a word, puts it in Google, and posts the image; the word here, of course, is selfish. The picture came from here. I don’t get it, but it’s so interesting that I couldn’t resist.

Lefty reviews my Mixed CD. I think he liked it, but I’m not sure.
Tosy accepts my mild tag.
Spatula Formula, Nik’s “ramblings of an American expatriate in New Zealand”, turns three. Happy blogiversary.
Did I mention I’m seeing Sean Lennon tonight? A review, eventually.