Square Dancing … in Gym Class?

Sandra Boynton writes some of the best children’s books. They are perfect reads for Ella right now. They have great pictures, fun verses, and many of them are actually songs. I would say that they are just as fun for us to read as they are for Ella to listen to! This week, Sam was reading “Barnyard Dance.”

She came to the lyric that read “…with a BAA and a MOO and a COCKADOODLEDOO, everybody promenade two by two.” She looked at me and asked me what “promenade” meant. I told her it was a term used in square dancing. She looked at me funny when I answered. Without her saying a word, I knew her facial expression was asking, “How in the world do you know that!?”

(In square dancing, and in particular modern Western square dance, when a promenade is called it is understood to be a “couples promenade” involving all four couples. The couples assume a promenade position, each turn to the right as a unit, and walk counter-clockwise around the ring.)

Promenade

I explained that i knew what it meant because in high school gym class we had a few weeks were we danced. This led to an even more baffled look from my wife. I looked at her and said, “You didn’t have to square dance in gym class?” Matter of factly, she said, “No. We did things that you normally do in gym class!” I was surprised and angry at the same time.

We were the only students forced into promenading, circling left, allemande lefting, and do si do-ing with members of the opposite sex?! Of all the things we did in gym class, this was the ONE thing that every one (at least everyone I talked to) hated! We were teenagers and we were being forced to hold hands and stuff! It was SO uncomfortable. I remember Mr. and Mrs. B (our gym teachers were husband and wife) making us “rehearse” these square dance moves over and over. It was torture!!

They would play the music for the dances off of an old turntable with a microphone placed by the speaker so we could hear it. The one song that I remember square dancing to the most was Dean Martin’s Houston. I am sure that Dean was not singing on the song that they played. Instead, the lyrics were changed to give the various square dance calls. When it was time to promenade, that was where the chorus (“Going back to Houston. Houston. Houston.”) would be sung.

For years, I tried to block the traumatic weeks of square dancing from my mind. I eventually succeeded, until a day in 1993. I was filling in on Honey Radio for Richard D and doing his Top 12 at 12 show which focused on the year 1965. In the countdown that day was Dean Martin’s Houston. It all came back! The Do Si Do’s, the Promenades, and Ladies In, and Men Sashay! Who square dances in gym class?!?

To this day, whenever I think about square dancing, three things immediately come to mind

First, the 1950 Bugs Bunny cartoon Hillbilly Hare and the famous Square Dance number in it.

Hillbilly Hare – 1950

Second, The Dean Martin Show with Roy Rogers. (Funny how there is another Dean Martin connection to square dancing, huh?) Dean never rehearsed his show. So when they taped this square dance number, the dancers are literally pushing and pulling him around and showing him where to go. It is just awesome to watch….

Dean Martin, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans Square Dance

And finally, Gym Class!!!

For whatever it is worth, I learned how to do the Hustle and the Bus Stop in gym class. Thanks to Mr. & Mrs. B, I can line dance at wedding receptions….well, the Hustle, anyway.

A Holiday Dozen

I mentioned to my friend Max that I had hoped to post a Christmas song every day from December 1st through Christmas Day. When it comes to holiday tunes, I could probably post a favorite Christmas song for every day of the year …

At any rate, rather than spend the time to do that, I was asked by a friend to pick my Top 10 favorite Christmas Albums. How can I do that? I have so many! I could easily pick my Top 10 Christmas albums for each genre – pop, country, classical, jazz, etc… So here is what I decided to do. I took a piece of paper and jotted down the 10 albums I felt were “must have” albums for me every year. I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10, so I made it 12.

In no particular order, here is the Holiday Dozen I came up with:

Ok, you gotta have Bing! He was often referred to as “The Voice of Christmas,” and for good reason! It was an album that often accompanied us while we opened gifts.

A great album of great songs – Brenda Lee, Bobby Helms, Stevie Wonder, Roy Orbison, The Drifters, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin are all represented in this amazing collection!

When Charles Schulz was asked to write a Christmas Special, he said he would on one condition – it had to include the story of Christ’s birth. When he chose the soundtrack for the special, he wanted something that he felt could relate to everyone – so he picked Jazz. Vince Guaraldi’s songs are synonymous with Christmas for me.

Growing up, I always disliked The Christmas Song. I guess I couldn’t relate to it as a kid. As I grew up, it became more and more meaningful to me. This album is full of many other fantastic cuts that never get played on the radio.

This one represents the “novelty” side of Christmas! Yes, it includes the Chipmunks, but it also includes some classic novelty songs from Allan Sherman, Bob & Doug McKenzie, Cheech & Chong, and Weird Al Yankovic. It is also one of the few places you can find Stan Freberg’s Christmas Dragnet. Oh, yeah, and that dumb Hippopotamus song is on here, too (but I skip that one).

This is one that a friend told me about. The story goes that a couple of members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra were sitting around talking one day. They asked each other what they thought Glenn would be doing if he were still around. One of them said “Probably working on a Christmas album.” The idea was born. They contacted former members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and they recorded this one. It is truly a great album and tribute to Miller.

Bing Crosby may have been called the “Voice of Christmas,” but Frank Sinatra was THE VOICE. This collection includes one of my favorites: Whatever Happened to Christmas. You also get his amazing version of Have Yourself a Marry Little Christmas and other classics.

Some great songs from Al Martino, Jo Stafford, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, and other pop singers of the 40’s and 50’s.

I have talked about this one before. It is just an amazing album with something for everyone. I love listening to Doc and the Tonight Show Band jamming on songs like Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow, and my favorite version of Jingle Bells! You’ll also love the Children’s Choir and Bell Choir on other numbers.

Mel, of course, wrote The Christmas Song, and I just love to hear his version of it. Nat King Cole’s version doesn’t include Mel’s extra lyric: “Love and joy come to you, and a Merry Christmas, too. And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.” Known as “The Velvet Fog,” Mel’s voice is perfect on Christmas Time Is Here, The Christmas Medley, Sleigh Ride, and a Christmas version of The Glow Worm.

I have so many favorite Elvis Christmas songs that aren’t on this album, but I love how they have added the orchestra to his classics on this album. Santa Claus is Back in Town sounds so much fuller with them. I only wish that they had done If Every Day Was Like Christmas for this album.

Before both of his Christmas albums were made available, they took tracks from both his “Winter Romance” album and “The Dean Martin Christmas Album” and combined them for this collection. I have both of those albums now, but for one collection – I pick this one. Marshmallow World is one of my favorite cuts!

How about you? What’s your Holiday Dozen??

Son of a … Mitch!

Sirius XM Radio has a few holiday music channels. They each kind of fall into a category – Country Christmas, Uptempo Holiday favorites, etc… I often find myself listening to the channel they call Holiday Traditions. This channel focuses on songs and artists from the 1940’s through the 1960’s. I hear a lot of my favorite artists on there like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, etc… They also play instrumental favorites, too.

On my way into work this week I noticed they will often play Christmas songs from the Ray Conniff Singers. As kids, I think my folks had two Christmas albums from them. I don’t really recall being a fan of them.

Listening to their version of Frosty the Snowman, I began to think. I wondered why they play so much Ray Conniff, but never play any Christmas songs by another singing group we had on LP – Mitch Miller.

Among the many Christmas albums we had (Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Bing Crosby), the above Mitch Miller album got a TON of play at our house. If memory serves me right, this album was one that my dad put on when we opened Christmas gifts. Mitch Miller had a TV show in the 1960’s where his singers sang songs and the lyrics were on the screen so viewers could sing along. He had many albums, too. I’m not sure just how many holiday albums, but I know we had that one!

Must Be Santa

Of all the holiday songs on the album, there is one that really stands out from my childhood – Must Be Santa. This song was not on any of the other holiday albums we owned. It was not a song that you ever heard on the radio. It was, in a sense, a Mitch Miller exclusive! As a matter of fact, Mitch was the first to record it, as far as I can tell. He released it in November of 1960.

The song is based on a German drinking song (the Schnitzelbank song) and is a “call and response” song. The lead singer sings a question and the singers answer back (Full Lyrics below).

I remember as kids loving this song. We often sang along with the “answer back” lines. As I grew older and heard the song, I remember noticing something I hadn’t really before. There was one voice that screamed through as they sang “Must be Santa” and it was awful!

It was a piercing voice. It almost sounds like a kid whose voice is changing. I cringe when I hear it now. It always seemed like that voice always sang a second longer that every other voice. Plus It was almost like some sort of fake vibrato in that voice. Give the song a listen in the YouTube video and see if you can’t hear the voice….

Now that I think about it …. maybe that voice is why they don’t play more Mitch Miller on the radio ….

Who’s got a beard that’s long and white?
Santa’s got a beard that’s long and white
Who comes around on a special night?
Santa comes around on a special night

Special Night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Who wears boots and a suit of red?
Santa wears boots and a suit of red

Who wears a long cap on his head?
Santa wears a long cap on his head

Cap on head, suit that’s red
Special night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Who’s got a big red cherry nose?
Santa’s got a big red cherry nose

Who laughs this way: “HO HO HO”?
Santa laughs this way: “HO HO HO”

HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that’s red
Special night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Who very soon will come our way?
Santa very soon will come our way

Eight little reindeer pull his sleigh?
Santa’s little reindeer pull his sleigh

Reindeer sleigh, come our way
HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that’s red
Special night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen
Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen
Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen

Reindeer sleigh, come our way
HO HO HO, cherry nose
Cap on head, suit that’s red
Special night, beard that’s white

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Must be Santa
Must be Santa
Must be Santa, Santa Claus

Well, well, well. Look who’s back…

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This is my first blog since May 18th. I guess this is the longest I have gone between blogs and many have sent private messages wondering if I am doing okay. My good buddy, Max, sent an email asking about me and it took me a while to write him back. Knowing I work in the medical field, and knowing how often I blog, he feared the worst. Needless to say, he was relieved to hear back from me. I figured if folks were worried if I was still around, I’d take some time to write.

It is not that I haven’t had stuff to write about, because I certainly have. I guess I was just having a hard time motivating myself to do so. It has been a very emotional month. So where do I even begin?

When I last wrote, I had just celebrated my 50th birthday. It seems that every time I hit a mile stone birthday, something happens to remind me I am getting older. This birthday, I found myself trying to read and really having difficulty seeing the words. I had Lasik surgery done years ago and I have had no real issues with my vision. I was told that the only thing that they couldn’t correct was if I needed reading glasses. I need to make an appointment to have my eyes checked, but until then, I am reading with these ridiculous readers on!

Speaking of birthdays, I feel bad because two very important ones came and went since I last blogged and they certainly both deserved a full blog. My wife celebrated at the beginning of the month and my youngest son officially became a teenager just a few days ago. Birthdays in quarantine suck. I didn’t get to really do anything for either of them! It will be a week or two before I see my son, so I am planning on doing something for him when he is back here with me.

I got Amazon gift cards from my mother and father-in-law, and from my dad. I decided I’d get some vinyl to play. One for laughs and one for music.

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You can’t go wrong with Frank Sinatra. They remixed his Nice and Easy album and I picked that up.

Next, I found an album I had years ago that is loaded with laughs from the great Soupy Sales.

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Graduation on the Internet

My oldest son graduated this year. You may have seen something about his school, as it made national news. They rented the Drive-in theater in town and showed all of the commencement speeches, staff speeches, and called out every graduate’s name (while showing their pictures) on the three big screens. Sadly, only one car per student was allowed, so Sam and I watched the live stream from home. It was certainly not the way I thought I would see my son graduate.

I emailed the principal and voiced how disappointed I was that only one car was allowed per student. Certainly there were more divorced parents than just me! I had hoped that he would return my email, but that didn’t happen. So, I cheered and cried when they read his name from my living room. He wore his cap and gown to the ceremony, but I haven’t gotten any pictures of him in them. I am hoping that he will come by with them so I can at least get one.

Back to Work

I returned to work two weeks ago. I really wasn’t sure I was ready to return, but the doc thought I’d be okay. The lab where I work is open, but only a few of the staff is back there. The rest are still working in a labor pool at jobs that they are assigned to. When I returned to work, that was where I went. The only bad thing is, the labor pool is going away and that means I will have to take a temporary lay off.

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The thing that scares me is wondering if they will ever call me back. I know of many people in radio who were told they were being laid off temporarily, only to have the companies eliminate those positions and terminate them. This is happening all over as many companies are doing whatever is necessary to keep their business alive. In the weekly trade magazine that comes our for just country radio stations, there is almost three pages of people LOOKING for jobs, while there is just a half page of stations looking to hire people.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day I was up early to meet my sons for breakfast. It was the first time we’d eaten in a restaurant since things opened back up. It was nice to see both of them together. Lately, I have only been seeing Dimitri, as Dante’ is now working and usually hanging with his friends. We had a nice breakfast and I enjoyed my time with them.

When I came home, Sam had Ella all dressed for Father’s Day.

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I received my Father’s Day/Birthday gift from Sam between my birthday and Father’s Day. She ordered me something that was made special for me. She had hoped it would be here by my birthday, but it took a few weeks to make. I was floored by this when it arrived. It was a book –

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She got to design how I looked, and how Ella looked. She said it was hard because her hair was still looking red some days and blonde on others. There were various stories to put in the book. She had Ella point and those were the ones that ended up in the book. She asked me to read it and I could barely make it through. It made me so emotional. It was the perfect gift and I will treasure it forever!!

My Baby Girl

The one thing that has been a plus though all of this is the time that I have gotten to spend with Ella. She brings me so much happiness. On nice days, we always try to take a walk around the neighborhood. She loves it! We look at the squirrels, listen to the birds, say hello to neighbors, and just enjoy the nice weather.

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We like to play with her toys on the floor, she likes to bounce in her jumpy seat, we nap together, and occasionally, we’ll watch Bubble Guppies together (she likes the music on that show).

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Sometimes, I will put on my Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra albums and we’ll sway and dance in the living room. Having this precious time with her has been a blessing. With the layoff, I will have more time with her and that will be the positive in a negative situation.

Classes

My DVD’s arrived for my Bible classes. I am currently re-watching the first year (the stuff that I had already done) and will continue with the new classes when I am finished. Just revisiting these classes has been very beneficial for me. I am glad that I decided to return.

I certainly feel like my spiritual life is moving in the right direction. I have a lot of peace right now, despite the uncertainty that lies ahead. I have faith that no matter what is ahead of me …. Every thing will be okay.

Faith-in-the-unknown

With that being said, I guess that brings you up to date. I hope to not be so long between blogs. Thanks for reading!

The Little Things

spring

Spring!

I saw the above cartoon on Facebook and had to share it. Even though the “official” first day of Spring was in March, it is actually starting to feel like it here in Michigan. When people ask my what my favorite season is I usually say “autumn.” Spring is a close second. Spring is an amazing time of renewal. The grass goes from brown to green, the trees begin to bud, and flowers begin to bloom.

Cleaning

I actually got to go outside and accomplish a few things yesterday! When I moved in with Sam, I had many boxes of things that I stored out in the garage. Most of them contained books and various papers. Some of those boxes were full of things that my ex threw in boxes and sent here.

I spent a few hours yesterday and went through many of the boxes that were full of “unknown” things. A lot of the boxes contained old mail and stuff that just needed to be thrown away. There was plenty of stuff that contained personal information that needs to be shredded (the shredder will be working overtime soon).

I also found some boxes I will call my “wishful thinking” boxes. Those boxes contained clothes that are a size or two smaller than I wear now. I kept hoping that I would soon be able to wear them again. The problem is, by the time I can fit into them, they will be out of style (took me forever to give up on the bell bottoms!). Those clothes all went in a Goodwill bag. The rest went to the curb!

There were also old pieces of drywall out there and things from various projects and even from the previous owners that just needed to be tossed. I truly believe I heard our garbage men swearing at me this morning as the were picking up the trash.

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Catch

It was in the 50’s yesterday and sunny. The weather has been chilly and rainy. We’ve even had some snow. The sun was a welcome sight! It has been nice to open up the windows and enjoy the breeze.

Because of the weather, my sons have been kind of cooped up in the house. I mentioned in my last blog about playing cribbage with my youngest son. I have hoped to dig out the Scrabble game as well, to keep them busy. Yesterday, I asked if they wanted to take a walk around the neighborhood. They looked at me like I was nuts! “Exercise?! Really?!”

Instead, I suggested we get out the baseball and play catch. Surprisingly, they agreed. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed every minute of it. Just me and the boys playing catch – priceless memories! I was able to snag a few shots of them and I love how I was able to capture some with the ball in the air. My phone takes better pictures that some of the expensive cameras I have owned.

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Daddy/Daughter Time

While it isn’t what I would call a “schedule,” I am enjoying some special moments with Ella. She usually gets up around 3 or 4 in the morning for a bottle. Sam has usually be doing this feeding, although I have once or twice. Ella falls asleep much easier for Sam, so after that bottle, she cuddles her and gets her back to sleep. Ella will then wake up around 6:30 or 7 and it’s my turn.

She doesn’t necessarily want to eat right away, and she is usually wide awake. She is usually full of many smiles (and presents many photo opportunities). For about an hour, I have “daddy/daughter” time. First, we sit on the couch and I make silly noises and make her smile. She is cooing a lot more now, so we have lots of conversation. Next, we have floor time. She has a little “toy tent” where there are toys that hang down for her to play with. At her feet, there is a piano that plays music when her feet hit the keys. She is going to be very musical!

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Usually, when floor time is over, she will be ready for a bottle. After that, she will go down for one of her longer naps. Yesterday, after floor time, she wasn’t ready to eat yet. So I picked her up and just kind of walked around the house. I usually sing to her while I hold her, but yesterday, I did something different.

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I pulled out one of my favorite Dean Martin albums and put it on the turntable. She listened to the whole side! She watched the record going around and around. She loved every minute of this. I put the above picture on Instagram and tagged Dean Martin’s daughter Deana and said, “My 10 week old daughter thinks your dad sings his songs better than me!”

It was so special for me. I sing her almost every song on this album. I just swayed back and forth with her in my arms. I hope that she will always want to share a dance with her daddy to these songs.

Back to the Book

Almost 20 years ago, I was taking Bible classes. I was completely focused on them, and then my first son was born. My ex felt that the classes were taking up too much of my time. We ended up leaving the church we were attending because she “didn’t feel comfortable” and so on and so forth. Because I hated arguing about it, I just gave in and stopped my classes and we stopped go to that church.

We went to a few different churches after that, which she always seemed to like (because she knew people there or they had a place to leave the kids). With each church, I always seemed to have issues (mostly doctrinal). When I mentioned my issues, they were usually blown off. She was happy there and that was all that mattered. Eventually, we stopped going to church all together.

As I have written in past blogs, since the quarantine, I have found myself returning to my faith. I have had the chance to watch many church messages from pastors I know. I was watching one message from a pastor who taught many of the classes I was taking. I mentioned this to Sam and she asked, “Why did you stop taking your classes?” When I explained, she told me “You should finish your classes.” Deep down, I knew she was right.

I called the school and asked what I had to do to start back up. They told me that I could start right back where I left off. I had the choice to start over and take tests again, but they still had a record of the tests I already took, so I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to. I found all of my notes from the first year of the school (all still neatly in their folders) and am reviewing them in preparation of continuing. Sadly, I do not have copies of my graded tests. I don’t even have a copy of my ungraded tests.

I am looking forward to moving forward and finishing what I started so long ago.

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End of Quarantine

It looks like we are nearing the end of the quarantine. I hope and pray that life can get back to normal – or a close to it – soon.

Be safe, my friends! Enjoy Spring!

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Tune Tuesday – Vieni Sul Mar

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I wish I could speak Italian.  I have always wanted to learn.  I guess I always end up talking myself into believing that I can’t learn it.  The older I get, the less I can remember.  I also tell myself that I probably don’t have the time to learn it.  Then, there is the cost involved as many courses you can buy are quite pricey.  At any rate, I think the Italian language is just beautiful.

As a fan of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Lou Monte, there are many songs that they have done in which a lyric or two is sung completely in Italian (Lazy Mary, Volare, Come Back to Sorrento, etc…).  Bottom line, I don’t know what they are singing about, but I like the song, if that makes sense.  I don’t exactly recall how I came to know of Andrea Bocelli.  I don’t think someone said, “Hey!  Check this guy’s music out!”.  More than likely, I was sitting at home surfing channels and saw him on PBS.

At some point, I decided to buy an album of his on iTunes.  I chose Incanto.  I chose this one because I actually recognized one of the titles (Santa Lucia).  As I sat and listened to this album, there was one song that stood out for a couple of reasons: 1) I recognized it and 2) the arrangement was just beautiful.  The song is Vieni Sul Mar.

Funny story of how I recognized it – I saw it in a Three Stooges short.  In their 1945 short, Micro Phonies, Gino Corrado plays an Italian violinist and singer who sings this song at Mrs. Bixby’s party.  The Stooges, with Curly dressed as Senorita Cucaracha, sabotage his singing by flicking cherries into his mouth as he is singing it!

So my first exposure to the song is a humorous one, however, I’m glad I came to hear it in a non-humorous way.

The song is a Neapolitan waltz.  The melody is beautiful.  Andrea’s vocals are just amazing.  I totally get lost in the song.  I listened to this over and over and with each listen I grew more fond of the song – and, because I don’t speak Italian, I had no idea what it is about!

After a search of the internet, I found that Vieni Sul Mar means “Come to the Sea”.  I have to be honest, when you see the translation in English, it’s a bit disappointing.  I am not sure how accurate this translation is, but every time I read the English I think, “How can such a beautiful melody be about a drunk sailor!?”

So, give it a listen.  Enjoy the string arrangement, enjoy his vocals, and get lost in a beautiful melody.

Vieni Sul Mar (Italian)

Deh, ti desta fanciulla, la luna

spande un raggio si caro sul mar.

Vieni meco, t’aspetta la bruna.

Fida barca del tuo marinar.

Ma tu dormi, e non pensi al tuo fido.

Ma non dorme chi vive d’amor.

Io la notte a te volo, sul lido.

Ed il giorno a te volo col cor.

 

Vieni sul mar. Vieni a vogar.

Sentirai l’ebbrezza del tuo marinar.

 

Da quel giorno che t’ho conosciuta,

oh fanciulla di questo mio cuor.

Speme e pace per te ho perduto

perché t’amo d’un immenso amor.

Fra le belle, tu sei la più bella.

Fra le rose tu sei la più fin.

Tu del ciel sei brillante mia stella.

Ed in terra divina beltà.

 

Vieni sul mar. Vieni a vogar.

Sentirai l’ebbrezza del tuo marinar.

 

Addio dunque, riposa, e domani

quando l’alba a svegliarti verrà.

sopra lidi lontani lontani

l’infelice nocchiero sarà.

Ma tu dormi, e non pensi al tuo fido.

Ma non dorme chi vive d’amor.

Io la notte a te volo, sul lido.

Ed il giorno a te volo col cor.

 

Vieni sul mar. Vieni a vogar.

Sentirai l’ebbrezza del tuo marinar.

 

Vieni sul mar. Vieni a vogar.

Sentirai l’ebbrezza del tuo marinar.

 

Come To The Sea (English Translation)

Pray thee, awake maiden, the moon

spreads it’s ray over the dear sea.

Come with me, I wait for you brunette.

Trust in the boat of your sailor.

But you sleep, thinking not of your devoted one.

But they sleep not who live by love.

This night to you I fly, to the shore.

And in the day you fly with my heart.

 

Come to the sea. Come for a row.

Feel the intoxication of your sailor.

 

Since that day I have known,

oh maiden of this heart of mine.

Hope and peace for you I have lost

because I love you with a love so great.

Among the pretty ones, you are the prettiest.

Among the roses you are most fine.

Of the sky you are my bright star.

And on the earth beauty divine.

 

Come to the sea. Come for a row.

Feel the intoxication of your sailor.

 

Adio till later, rest, and tomorrow

when dawn will wake you,

over shores far, far away

the helmsman will be unhappy.

But you sleep, thinking not of your devoted one.

But they sleep not who live by love.

This night to you I fly, to the shore.

And in the day you fly with my heart.

 

Come to the sea. Come for a row.

Feel the intoxication of your sailor.

 

Come to the sea. Come for a row.

Feel the intoxication of your sailor

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Golden Gift

Outside of a wedding ring, I don’t know many men who wear a lot of jewelry (unless they are a rapper!).  I know a few guys who wear a chain around their neck or maybe a bracelet.  I don’t wear much jewelry, and up until a year or so ago, I only wore a ring.  Due to money issues in my first marriage, I ended up pawning a few gold charms I had, and eventually my wedding ring.  If I hadn’t put my foot down, I may have been forced to pawn a very special piece of jewelry.

In a recent blog, I posted a picture of my daughter on my chest.  In that picture, you can see a bit of a necklace that I began wearing again within the past few years.  This is the brief story of this golden gift that means quite a bit to me.

My grandmother had given me a chain with a cross on it when I was probably about 13 years old.  The chain ended up breaking because it was so thin, and she gave me another one.  One Christmas I had asked my parents for a trumpet charm to wear on that chain.  I wish I could remember the year, but that escapes me.  It may have been shortly after my grandpa died in 1981, but I’m not sure.

At any rate, I remember it being the last gift my mom handed me to open that year.  It was such a simple charm, but I loved it.  She told me she had it specially made for me.  She knew some jeweler who had made a ring or something for her and they did it.  I wore it all the time – until a few years after I got married.

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At some point during that relationship, I was told how silly it was to wear the necklace.  “You’re not even in band anymore.  That horn sits in the case collecting dust.  You look silly wearing that thing,” I was told.  So I took it off and it sat in my jewelry box for years.

Fast forward to a few years ago.  I was moving some stuff around at the house and my jewelry box fell and the stuff in it fell out.  As I picked up things like my class ring, my tie clips, tuxedo studs, I picked up my necklace.  I immediately thought of my mom and just how happy she was to give that charm to me.  So I put it on.  Sam said she’d never seen me wear it before and I told her why I stopped wearing it.  She told me she liked it and told me I should wear it anytime I wanted.  I haven’t taken it off since. I have actually had patients ask about it while I am working.  My nieces always ask about it (and try to play it) when I am holding them.  I am sure Ella will do the same when she gets bigger.  She will even occasionally grasp onto the chain when I am holding her today.

The only other piece of jewelry I would ever consider wearing is a pinky ring – after all, I am Italian.  Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra both wore matching pinky rings that Frank had made for them, a gesture that showed their love for each other.  I think it’d be cool to wear one.

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The chain and charm are one of two pieces of jewelry I wear every day.  The other is my wedding ring.  Each piece is a reminder of very special women in my life.  One promise I can make – you will never see me walking around with this ridiculous amount of jewelry on!

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2 Years of Ramblings – A Reflection

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Two Years Old

Word Press informs me that this blog turned two years old yesterday!  Two years and the blogging continues….

I wrote a blog reflecting on one year and some feelings remain the same.  Rather than look back on the entire two years, I thought I would reflect on the last year, which had many milestones!  Over the past year, I have gained many more followers, so for those new followers, let me give you a brief look at why this blog exists two years later.

The beginnings

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When I began this blog, I really didn’t have any idea of what it would be.  In my head, I thought that I might blog about some things I liked.  I also knew I would probably write about some favorite memories.  I might also write tributes to important people in my life or just random thoughts to help me deal with emotions or life situations.

This blog was meant for me.  It was to be a “sort of” therapy for me.  I envisioned it as a way to keep track of thoughts, write down stories I didn’t want to forget, and occasionally just vent. I had often joked about writing an autobiography, and in a way, this blog has become “chapters”.

I never thought that anyone would actually want to read these blogs (unless, of course, the blog mentioned them)!  Yet, here I am over two years later and I have “followers” – people who actually make it a point to read this no matter what the topic.  It humbles me.

Looking Back

If I were to compare “year one” with “year two” I would say the blogs leaned a lot more happy.  They contained many happy moments.  Looking back, I see how I have grown and learned to deal with certain people, certain situations, and look at things more objectively.  I have learned to think before reacting.  I have learned to separate myself from those things that bring on stress and make me uncomfortable.  I have gotten more in touch with the person I want to be. Looking back, I see much more happiness.  Life has been very good to me over the last year.

Musical Blogs

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Much like last year, there were plenty of blogs about music.  I began to post a song every Tuesday that held some special meaning.  Maybe the song was prompted by a singer’s birthday or it was just something I heard on the radio.  I admit toward the end of the year, I neglected the Tune Tuesday feature a bit.  I hope to be a bit more consistent with it in the year ahead.  Last year’s songs ranged from Dean Martin to Hugh Laurie to the Muppets!  I look forward to this year’s selections.

Memories of the Past

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Nostalgic memories are often featured here.  Many of them stem from things I see that bring back memories.  Some writings stem from an idea I got from a fellow blogger.  Some of the topics from last year included the ice cream man, toys I remember from my childhood, breakfast cereals from my childhood, memories of band class, the Sunday comics I used to read, books I read as a child and to my boys, and the summer baseball games I played in the neighborhood.  There was also a blog about Muppets phased out of Sesame Street.

Guest Blogger

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I toyed with this idea, and my little brother stepped up to bat.  It was fun to tell him to write whatever he wanted to and see what he came up with.  I really like this idea, and I hope to get a few others to write occasional pieces for this blog.  I am very open to this idea.  Let me know if you would like to do this!  You could write about me, our friendship, or expand on something I have already written.

Friendship salutes

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This year I saluted my oldest and best friend on his birthday.  I also saluted three of my friends from school/band in one blog because they all celebrated birthdays in October. Remembering some of the funny radio stories that involved my co-host Stephanie was a blast for sure!  Some blogs were inspired by friends and their posts on Facebook.  Year three I am already planning some overdue friendship blogs.  Stay tuned!

Movies

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This year, I did a series on my favorite movies by decade.  The idea was to pick one favorite film from each year you have been alive.  I was born in 1970, so I did a blog for each decade (70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s).  I neglected to do 2010-2019, but now that we have entered the new decade, I will have to make sure to wrap that series up.  I really enjoy being able to write about my favorite films, and I found it a challenge to narrow it down to one each year.

Celebrities

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Last year I wrote about less celebrities than the year before.  I wrote about The Three Stooges, in a round about way, as I went with the boys to the Stooges Festival in Redford.  I devoted an entire blog to some of the very funny lines that Paul Lynde had from the Hollywood Squares.  The great Jack Benny got an much deserved blog on his birthday.  I also wrote about Elvis on the anniversary of his passing.  I believe that there are a few other celebrities who I could easily devote an entire blog to, I just wonder if folks would read it.

Television

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Along with movies and music, TV tends to be a topic I love to write about.  This year I wrote a blog about the classic 1966 Batman show.  I also wrote about my favorite TV shows of the 1950’s.  For Tune Tuesday, I picked Sanford and Son because of the theme song.  I really need to write about that show and some of my other favorites.  This year I blogged about the remake of All in the Family and The Jefferson’s which again brought me back to one of my original blogging ideas – “why must they remake everything!?”  I also had a chance to talk about one of my favorite Christmas TV specials this year.

Serious Topics

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While many blogs tend to focus on entertaining things, some blogs wind up being of a serious nature.  I am human.  I can’t be upbeat all the time.  I finally had the guts to write about the topic of divorce – just to see if I could do it. Death was also a topic.  I lost some close friends this year.  I also had friends of mine who lost loved ones.  Just this week alone, my buddy Chris lost his mom and a co-worker lost hers.  It’s a hard topic to write about, but I did.

Emotional Blogs

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As I look back over “year two”, there is no shortage of blogs that brought about strong emotions from me.  One of those stemmed from a photo shoot for my oldest son.  Senior pictures.  I still choke up as I think about him being a senior and graduating.  Speaking of graduation, my wife graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in April.  I felt so much pride for her as she walked that stage.  She did all the work, so why it was so emotional for me, I don’t know.  I sometimes think I can get too emotional.  Rest assured – there are more emotional blogs in the year ahead!

Rants

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The blog also consisted of many personal rants.  Some I have mentioned (TV and Movie remakes, missing Muppets, and such), but I also ranted (and whined) about having the “man cold”.  That blog brought about much teasing from friends!  I also ranted about how much I miss record stores (prompted by a record player I received for my birthday).  I know I have other “rant” topics in my blogging notebook.

A Love Story

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Sam and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.  I chose to take the occasion of our anniversary to tell “our story”. The people who were close to us knew the story, but many didn’t.  As sort of a “love letter” to my wife, and as a way to tell just how our wonderful relationship began, I wrote a series of three blogs leading up to our anniversary.  Those blogs talked of how we met and became close friends, how we began dating and how I proposed, and then how we got married.  Those blogs were among my highest read last year.  A blog followed about our anniversary trip.  Sam makes me SO happy and I am sure there will be many more blogs about our amazing relationship.

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On Father’s Day, Sam told me that we were expecting a baby.  It was SO hard to NOT blog about that!!  We waited some time before spilling the beans with our big announcement.  A series of blogs about expecting a baby, then finding out we were having a girl, and finally sharing the name we had picked for her remain the most read blogs in the history of this blog!  The support from our friends and family has been SO amazing!  Sharing stories of the baby shower and 3D ultrasound pics has been a thrill.  We are closing in on the due date (February 16) and she can come anytime.  The nursery is ready and so are we! We anxiously await her arrival and with it, I will have plenty of things to share with you about being a dad again!

The Future

As I said last year – Not so long ago, I was told my someone once close to me to stop writing.  “Nobody wants to read about that crap!  It is a waste of time.  Stop trying to be creative. Nobody cares about what you like and don’t like!”  If I have learned anything from Facebook and this blog, it is that people do care!  People do like to read what I write!  In the end, I don’t really write for others, I write for myself.  The fact that other people read this blog and get some enjoyment out if it is a little bonus.

In future blogs, I will continue to write about things I love.  I will write about things that people want to know about.  I hope to do more Question and Answer blogs and I will continue to participate in Blogathons.  I want to write about how Autism played a role on my life, which I never seemed to get around to last year.  I also want to continue to write on movies and music. I will continue to write about things in my personal life (and how it is affected by the arrival of our beautiful daughter). I will continue to write – because I enjoy it.  The minute this is no longer satisfying and I feel that I have written all I can write … I will stop.  Until then, thank YOU for reading my “various ramblings”.  I appreciate you!

Happy 2nd Birthday!!

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The Challenge: #PayClassicsForward for Christmas

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A blog that I follow, Once Upon a Screen, posted a challenge that she has done for a few years now.  The idea is to share some of your favorite movies with others – by “paying classics forward”.  You can my friend, Aurora’s post from this year here:

The Challenge: #PayClassicsForward for Christmas

From the above link, you can also click on her posts from previous years.  She loosely follows the “format” of The 12 Days of Christmas.  Another buddy at Movie Movie Blog Blog II posted his here:

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What follows is my attempt to share some movie “classics” with you.  Perhaps you can check some out during your holiday break?  Here goes:

One AMAZING performance –

James Cagney as psychopath Cody Jarrett in White Heat.  He had given up playing gangsters a few years prior, but returns with this electrifying and mesmerizing performance in this film.  The ending is classic!!

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Two Musical Brothers –

Jake and Elwood Blues are on a “mission from God” to raise money to save an orphanage, but first, they need to put their band back together.  Based on two characters they did on Saturday Night Live, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, along with an amazing band, great cast, stellar cameos from legendary singers, and the Bluesmobile are a MUST see!

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Three Movie Trilogies

The Star Wars Original Trilogy.  Yes, I know that there are prequels and sequels, but the original trilogy (Episodes 4, 5, & 6) are required viewing for everyone!

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The Back to the Future Trilogy.  Time travel has never been so much fun! While I still feel that Part 3 could have had a better ending, I still love watching the adventures of Doc Brown, Marty McFly, and Biff Tannen.

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The Godfather Trilogy.  Movie perfection!  Godfather 1 & Godfather 2 are such masterful works!  While Godfather 3 was panned by many critics, I still find it to have some wonderful moments.

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Four Star General

George C. Scott won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of General George S. Patton.  I have always loved him as an actor, and his performance in this film is truly worthy of the award.

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Five Card Stud

I love a good western.  I could have had an entire list of westerns to suggest to readers (maybe that’s a future blog).  Five Card Stud stars two of my favorite actors, Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum.  I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s good stuff! Shuffle the cards….

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The Sixth Sense

I remember seeing this one in the theater. I remember exactly how blown away I was at the ending.  If you have never seen it, you need to!  Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment are terrific.  Still one of my favorites of all time.

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Seven “Hoods”

Robin and the 7 Hoods is one of two Rat Pack films on this list.  Take the story of Robin Hood and set it in 1920’s Chicago and you have a fun flick.  There are some great musical numbers, including a Sinatra classic, “My Kind of Town”.  Peter Falk is brilliant in this film, as is Bing Crosby.  Then, of course, you have Dean, Frank & Sammy!

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Favorite Eight film series.

The Harry Potter series.  Whether you are a child or an adult, this wonderful world of wizardry is very well done.  What makes it extra special is that the main characters are played by the same people throughout the entire series.  I saw the movies before I read the books.  My kids and I love watching these together.

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Nine Players

I’m talking baseball movies.  I’ll give you a drama and a comedy.  For laughs, Major League is my pick.  The all star cast includes Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, and Wesley Snipes! Bob Uecker as the Indians announcer is worth the watch!

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In the drama category, The Natural with Robert Redford is my suggestion.  Roy Hobbs and his bat “Wonderboy” lead the Knights to many victories in this wonderful film!  Wilford Brimley is great as the manager.  Watch for Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Barbara Hershey, and Robert Duvall as well!

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Ten Commandments

The Cecil B. DeMille epic is an amazing movie with a phenomenal all-star cast and pretty cool special effects for 1956!  Charlton Heston is Moses.

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Others in the cast include Vincent Price, Anne Baxter, Yvonne De Carlo, Yul Brynner, and Edward G. Robinson.

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Watch this.  “So let it be written.  So let it be done.”

Ocean’s Eleven

The original!  Not the George Clooney, Brad Pitt remake!  This is my second Rat Pack selection.  Sinatra is Danny Ocean, and him and his old military buddies are going to rob all the major casinos in Las Vegas.  I have always loved the ending of this film – so much is said (and felt) with nothing but silence and no dialogue.

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Twelve Angry Men

Henry Fonda leads an all-star cast of jurors who must decide whether a teen is guilty, sending him to a death sentence.  In the film, we see 12 very different personalities all trying to work together to come to a conclusion.  The clashing of these various personalities is what makes the film so brilliant.  Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, and Lee J. Cobb all put in thrilling performances.

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Now it is your turn – pay it forward.  What movies are must sees for other film fans?  You have freedom to pick what you want and use your numbers how you wish.  Use my post and the examples of my friend as a guide.

 

 

Winter Storm and Winter Songs

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According to the calendar, it is still officially Autumn.  There are still colored leaves on the trees here in Michigan.  Many people haven’t even started raking them yet.  This, however, may be the shortest Autumn I can remember as we were hit today with quite the winter storm!

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I guess we broke the record today for “most snowfall” on November 11th.  The record (for the Detroit area, anyway) was set back in 1984 – 4.1 inches.  That record was surpassed as early as 1pm today.  The snow continued to fall throughout the evening and made for one hell of a ride (3+ hours) into work!

The snow brings out a lot of anger in people.  People waste no time talking about how much they hate the snow.  “It’s too early,” they say.  It’s not like we haven’t had snow early in November before, we have.  As a matter of fact, it was one year ago I posted about it snowing on Facebook.  We’ve certainly seen snow as early as late October, too!  While I don’t necessarily like having to shovel it, or drive in it, I do like the snow.  I marvel at the beauty of it when it has first fallen on the ground.  Someone posted this on Facebook yesterday, and it is SO true:

“If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.”

Sometimes, in life, we need to look for the positives instead of focusing on the negatives.

At any rate, all the snow brought me back to a thought I had while writing a recent blog about Christmas music (Is It Too Early? – on November 2).  Some radio stations (both local and on Sirius XM) have started playing all Christmas music.  On my drive in, I was flipping around and stopped on the local station, because they were playing a song that would be considered a Christmas song, but actually worked because of the weather.

Here I am driving 30mph while the snow is falling, and Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!” is playing.  It was the perfect song for the weather.  Which brings me back to the thought I had in the previous blog – why can’t stations play “winter” songs before Christmas, and after Christmas?  I compiled a list of songs that could certainly be played as just “winter hits”.

Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!

Winter Wonderland

Snowfall

Winter Weather

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I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

Marshmallow World

Song For A Winter’s Night

Snowbird

Hazy Shade of Winter

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Jingle Bells

There are SO many more.  Jingle Bell Rock could easily be a “winter song”.  Frosty the Snowman is a “winter song”.  Sleigh Ride is also a snowy “winter song”!  It doesn’t have to be Christmas for me to enjoy those songs.  Am I forgetting any?  What can YOU add to the list?

Too Early?

I should mention that my wife listens to Christmas music all year round.  AND she likes to be able to enjoy the decorations, so when we have our first snow, the tree goes up.  Yes, it is up and decorated…and the cats are already enjoying it.

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I guess I should make sure the snow blower starts when I get home ….

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