29 November 2009

The Season of Advent (Week One)

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point a grammatically superior chorus was changed to one less effective...

The hymn: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

The chorus (as I learned it):

Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel
To you shall come Emmanuel.

The chorus (as it is sung now):

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel.

Now, who separates an imperative ("rejoice") from the entity being addressed ("Israel") by an entire line of lyric -- especially when there's a considerable pause after the first line, which contributes to the confusion?

You might be able to do in Latin because the case endings will tell you "Israel" is in the vocative.

In English, however, word order matters.

The Christmas list begins...

1. Frank Incense

28 November 2009

From Charles Brockden Brown's WIELAND, or The Transformation (An American Tale), 1798

"[Pleyel] urged, that ... to make the picture of a single family a model from which to sketch the condition of a nation, was absurd."

Chapter IV

24 November 2009

"Dancing with the Stars": Mya was robbed!

Donny Osmond?

I don't think so.

Why I'll Never Be a True Guitar Hero

As I was treadmilling last night, the Carpenters' song "Goodbye to Love," with its fairly cool guitar solo, came on my MP3Player, and I wondered if that song was available on any o' those interactive gaming systems. I'm thinking not.

(Forget pretending to be John, Paul, George, and Ringo on LSD, let's play Karen on drums or Richard on keyboards! Insert anorexia joke here.)

The song also brought to mind that, when our family bought a brand new 1975 Chevrolet Malibu Classic with its 8-track tape player (no more am radio for us!), my father complained about the racket emanating from it on The Carpenters Greatest Hits tape. That, and "Better off Dead" from Elton John's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, simply drove him nuts!

We were truly a headbangin' family, in case you you couldn't tell.

23 November 2009

Frank Ad Nauseam

A little bit of serendipity, I guess you'd call it (or the product of a sick mind):

A 45-second "drop" ad that we recently made for "Frank, Gil, and Friends" features an outtake of Sinatra's 1958 recording session for Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When," during which he jokingly sings:

"It seems we've stood and talked like this before;
We threw up on each in the same old way
But I can't remember night or day."

This then brought to mind the chorus of the 1991 Morrissey song "Our Frank," which reads:

"So give us a drink
and make it quick
or else I'm gonna be sick
sick all over
your frankly vulgar
red pullover
see how the colors blend."

The "frank" in the Morrissey title is an adjective describing "conversation" and not anyone's name, but the juxtaposition of it and nausea just seemed too precious to pass up.

I must learn to control my instincts better.

22 November 2009

Another fine production at Playhouse on Park!

Just returned from the closing performance of Donald Margulies' Collected Stories at Playhouse on Park.

I really liked the play itself as well as the performances by Willi Burke and Pearl Rhein. Although I sensed a bit of line trouble by Ms. Burke, her ability to depict her character's vulnerability in Act II was especially powerful, while Ms. Rhein's character matured as the confidence in her talent grew in front of our eyes.

Yet another winning production from POP.

If you haven't seen one of the seemingly 1000 things presented there under the new management in the last few months, check out their website...and go!

Not that I have any say, but here are some things I'd like to see produced:

Bernard Kops's Playing Sinatra
Gershwin and Gershwin's Girl Crazy
Something Greek (Antigone, The Bacchae, or The Frogs)
Peter Schaffer's Black Comedy/White Lies

and, perhaps, an all-tap show with nothing but Sinatra tunes! (Who could collaborate on a thing like that?)

We shouldn't wonder why Americans are so awful at financial planning (and, not unrelatedly, marriage)...

...when in one of the greatest American musicals, Oklahoma, audiences are treated to such brilliant financial minds as Curly, Will, Jud, and Ali, all of whom handle money with the brains of one of the ears of corn growin' as high as an elephant's eye in "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning."

Curly and Jud engage in a bidding war, each willing to dispose of his entire life's savings or tools-of-his-trade (i.e., future earnings potential) for a lunch.

Will meanwhile can't hold on to $50 to save his l(w)ife, and Ali, well, considering he actually runs a business, is quite the poor entrepreneur.

We'll overlook the fact that all these financial transactions are thinly veiled attempts to buy and sell women because that would lead us to a discussion of the Goodspeed Opera House's production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the educational packet for which includes worksheets for middle- and high-schoolers in language arts, history, and culture.

I can hear the post-performance class now:

"Teacher, what's a 'procurer'?"

"What I want to be when I grow up: a 'courtesan'!"

"Our band's finally got a name -- 'The House of Lycus'!"

Now, those are solid and measurable educational outcomes.

Well, as long as the future recruits' parents ignore the murder-outside-a-campus-dance part

From today's Hartford Courant's "On the Fly" column by John Altavilla:

"[University of Connecticut football coach] Randy Edsall's pregame interview with NBC's Alex Flanagan was the most important recruiting pitch he'll ever give, but no less significant than the halftime feature on Jazz Howard's death, which bathed campus, coach, and program in a most favorable light for future recruits."

20 November 2009

You can keep your Oprah...

...the king of daytime talk for me will always be Phil Donahue. Most just remember the bad years at the end with his wearing dresses and the things that led him to try to compete with Jerry Springer, Morton Downey Jr., etc..., but in his heyday there were few better interviewers and moderators anywhere on television. Part of the problem was he had outpaced and outgrown his audience but refused to allow everyone (including himself) to see what that might mean for his program. And so he'd put on a dress! One of the best episodes I ever saw of his show must've been in the early-to-mid 80s when his entire audience was comprised of sex therapists who were in Chicago for a convention. It wasn't tawdry or sleazy; it was 60 minutes of smart talk about an important subject. And he married THAT GIRL!!!

Maybe the Maya were right, Dr. Larsen...

...but we've just been looking in the wrong place for the end of the world (and just a little bit too late)!

I'm holding out for the "Mind GPS"

The key to successful management is getting things organized—ideas, people, and projects—in order to get the work done on time and under budget.

The best way to do this is with a project chart. And there's no better way to get organized than with a mind map. This article shows you how. You'll learn:


Why use a mind map


How to create a mind map, and


How to use a mind map to manage projects

1. Why use a mind map

Free eCourse


A mind map is a visual outline with the central box as the top-level idea, topics as bullets below it, sub-topics as elements of each bullet, and so on.

A mind map is a very efficient way to record ideas during a brainstorming session and to organize them into a coherent plan, afterwards.

Why use a mind map instead of an outline?
Mind maps are better than outlines because:

  • They are easier to read than bulleted lists
  • They are better for brainstorming
  • They are much more interesting than bullets when presenting your ideas in a PowerPoint® presentation
  • They are much more spatially efficient since you can branch out your ideas horizontally (lists grow mostly vertically)
  • Mind maps let you see what you're thinking; bulleted lists don't convey ideas with the same level of clarity as a mind map

2. How to create a mind map

Let's use the launch of a new product as an example:

Step 1. Start with a Few Initial "Big Topics."

This product is going to be handled by a reseller channel. The big topics are:

  • Recruiting the resellers
  • Training them
  • Creating sales collaterals they can use
  • Generating customer leads for them
  • Using PR to increase awareness about the product

Step 2. Refine each "Big Topic" with a few Specific "Areas of Interest."

We took the original list and expanded on each node with a few increasingly specified subtopics; here's how our mind map appears in outline format:

  • Go to Market Plan
    • PR
      • Press Releases
      • Hire Agency
      • Press Tour
    • Lead Generation
      • Direct Mail
      • Print Ads
    • Product Collaterals
      • Data sheet
      • Web site
      • E-mails
      • Print Ads
    • Sales Training
      • Reseller Kit
      • Video
    • Recruit Resellers
      • E-mail to list
      • Call leads

See how we have much more space to get information across when we use a mind map? Now we're going to take it one step further.

Step 3. Refine, Add More Subtopics, then Repeat.

You can keep iterating through subtopics until you have covered the full set of possible topics. A bulleted list with this much content would become less and less legible, but a mind map remains manageable.

3. How to use a mind map to get projects done

In our example, we used a mind map to identify all the work involved in our product launch plan. The next step, to actually get these projects done, is to:

Convert your mind map into an actionable project plan.
Each of the main topics in our map can be considered a top-level task in a product launch project. The sub-topics are sub-tasks. The mind map can then be considered a blueprint for completing the project.

To get the project started and manage it through completion, we need to view the tasks in the context of a project plan. Here's how:

Make each box in your mind map a line item in the second column of your project chart. Use the first column to number your tasks and sub tasks as shown below. Then add start dates and task durations.

(SmartDraw converts your mind map to a project chart automatically with a single mouse-click. You can also toggle between mind map and project chart views for easy editing.)

Click here to learn how to use mind maps and project charts to organize and manage projects using SmartDraw.


How to Manage a Project
Click here to sign up.

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FYI: In reference to "rakes"

"To associate, is to approve; to approve, is to be betrayed!"

:Hannah Webster Foster,
Letter LXXIII, The Coquette (1797)

19 November 2009

from "The Importance of Silly Research"

From the NYTimes "Idea of the Day":

Defenders say oddball findings that get a lot of press — typically promoted by shrewd university public-relations people — are often not the primary aim of research, “just a byproduct of it.” They are hype-rich side dishes, and can yield gravy: The publicity “means more kudos and respect within the research world, which can translate into more funding for other work,” says one of the article’s interview subjects.

What more can anyone ask?!

18 November 2009

Since "Statistical Anomaly Day" went so well...

...and both the 700th broadcast of "Frank, Gil, and Friends" and Thanksgiving are next week, the host will give $1 to the Friendship Center in New Britain for each on-line listener during next Tuesday's show, 8-10 AM on Tuesday, 24 November 2009, at www.live365.com/stations/wfcs

To celebrate, we'll also be giving away copies of Charles Pignone's Frank Sinatra: The Family Album and David Lloyd's The Gospel According to Frank!

Listen and EVERYBODY wins!

Statistical Anomaly Day was a winner!

Yesterday, for my morning radio show, I encouraged as many members of the "Frank, Gil and Friends" distribution list to log on during the show as possible to demonstrate to the student members of WFCS, the radio station of CCSU, how a little leg work in building audiences could produce results. An anomaly indeed!

(NB: TLH stands for "Total Listening Hours")

Some parachutes really are golden!!!!

November 17, 2009, 02:59 PM ET

Cuesta College President Quits, Criticizing His Own Leadership

David Pelham, president of Cuesta College since March 2008, resigned abruptly on Monday. In an e-mail message to people on the California campus, Mr. Pelham criticized his own leadership of the financially challenged community college, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. He will step down in December to take a post running an unspecified college in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

17 November 2009

Life Imitates Art: Yogurt Edition

Before tap class tonight at the Hartt School 's Mort & Irma Handel Performing Arts Center, I bought a Greek yogurt at the cafe.

I picked up a plastic spoon and started eating.

Quickly I realized the spoon, in shape and size, was completely wrong for the food I was eating, and so, immediately and naturally, Joel Barlow's words from Canto Three of "The Hasty Pudding" (1793) came to mind:

There is a choice in spoons. Though small appear
The nice distinction, yet to me 'tis clear.
The deep-bowled Gallic spoon, contrived to scoop
In ample draughts the thin diluted soup,
Performs not well in those substantial things,
Whose mass adhesive to the metal clings;
Where the strong labial muscles must embrace,
The gentle curve, and sweep the hollow space.
With ease to enter and discharge the freight,
A bowl less concave and more dilate,
Becomes the pudding best...

The mock epic, perhaps the best neo-classical poem written in British America and definitely the best poem composed about cornmeal mush, now rings truer than ever for me...

...and I also now know to bring my own spoon to tap class (maybe one of those "Frosty" spoons from Wendy's)!

15 November 2009

(Trying to ) make it rain in Paris!

Who could've forseen the violence in Paris when some company was planning to give away money from a bus driving around the Eiffel Tower?

"Instead of the middle-class Parisians the organizers had hoped for, witnesses said the crowd, overwhelmingly young, male and poor, appeared to be made up mostly of residents of the tough suburbs that ring the French capital, as well as poor students and homeless men."

So, if I decide, on a whim, to give away high grades later on this semester, I'll assume only the better students will come asking, right?

14 November 2009

And, no singing "I Won't Dance, Don't Ask Me"!

Since there's always new exercise regimens being pitched to women like pole dancing, etc...

I've decided to remind men of the great exercise fads that have always been out there for them:

Hey, guys, try dancing

on roller skates

or ice,

or with a hat rack,

or a gun,

or a bank of parking meters,

or a broom,

or just yourself!


(Full disclosure: I'm shaped more like the penguin than anyone.)

12 November 2009

Eydie walked into my life again today...

In my car today I was playing an old mix tape containing a great song from this great album by the great Eydie Gorme (albeit with a not-so-great hairdo).

The song: "If He Walked Into My Life"

The only time (I'm thinking) that my name...

...and Ron Jeremy's will ever be linked, and the Recorder article doesn't even mention me, the debate's moderator!

There is a nice photo in the slide show below, but, where's the love?

11 November 2009

Merlin Mann on the Seersucker Suit

"Seersucker suits are like handguns. They look cool, chicks dig 'em, and once you own one, you're ALWAYS looking for an excuse to use it."


Thanks, JBJ!

10 November 2009

As the King of Siam would say...

"It's a puzzlement!"

Why would someone like me, who is not a non-political animal in the least and who understands the importance of politicking, really dislike going to University Senate meetings? I have consciously avoided it since arriving in 1992, and have only been going of late as an alternate for one of the two chairperson seats for the School of Arts and Sciences (a role that may become more regular next semester).

Am I missing something? I must be. I should like this. Shouldn't I?

But, then again, maybe my quoting the King of Siam says it all.

08 November 2009

Everything old is new again

Good design ideas never go outta style, I guess!

Ah, stick it in your...

On the radio, lately, there has been a spate of commercials for a new thermometer that a parent simply places on a child's forehead -- since using an aural one is so "uncomfortable"!

Are they kidding me? In the realm of thermometer placement, the ear's a walk in the park.

Not to sound bitter, but it's further amazing to me that any child today could complain about the taste of medicine.

On top of that, kids today have the capability to watch their favorite shows at any point and as often as they want.

Color me jealous.

Sinatra lyric of the week from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

So, gentlemen, deal me out
do not to try to feel me out
since Adelaide, Adelaide, ever-lovin' Adelaide
is takin' a chance
(talk about your long shot!)
is takin' a chance on me!

"Adelaide" (Frank Loesser)
as performed by Frank Sinatra, Guys and Dolls movie soundtrack, 1955

07 November 2009

Happy Anniversary, Ava and Frank

On this day in history, 1951: Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner marry.

I knew this already, but I thought I'd share!

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection (birthday edition)

Now that it's your birthday
I don't what to do
Can't give you a Thunderbird
Or a penthouse with a view
Can't even buy a little present
I'm much too broke I find
But there is one way I may save the day
And I sure hope you don't mind
That I can't give you anything but love, baby
That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby...

"I Can't Give You Anything But Love" (Dorothy Fields)
as performed by Judy Garland, Judy at Carnegie Hall, 1961

06 November 2009

Frank Sinatra, Ben Franklin, and the Rev. George Whitefield: LIVE (or not)!

Sinatra: New York, the five disc (4 cds + 1 dvd) set from Reprise Records of live performances from throughout the singer's career, was released this past Tuesday, and the inevitable, but nonetheless healthy, debate among Sinatra enthusiasts began in earnest on Wednesday. On the one hand, if Sinatra's not at his best, should such things be released, and, since we all know (they say) there are better things in the vaults, why release such substandard things at all? On the other, the argument goes, "Hey, the release of anything that hasn't been previously released is an undeniably good thing."

While I agree that real new releases (as opposed to repackaging) are a very good thing, I fall between the two camps...but mostly because I'm not a fan of the live album, in concept. My feeling is, unless the concert was some unbelievable (and, in some way, unexpected) triumph (i.e., Judy at Carnegie Hall, 1961), not a small part of the performance experience is simply lost on a recording. And if, as in some cases on Sinatra: New York, the performances are weak, the very weaknesses that for the most part go all but unacknowledged by a live audience will be magnified tenfold and become inescapable to the listener at home... To casual fans, Sinatra's Live at the Sands, The Main Event, and Sinatra in Paris, probably give all they'll ever need from a live career-spanning perspective, even if hardcore fans, like myself, will buy whatever unreleased material the Sinatra estate decides to release.

I can't but think of Benjamin Franklin's comments in his autobiography about the Reverend George Whitefield, the main force behind the mid-18th century religious revival known as the Great Awakening. Franklin admired the preacher and commented on his uncanny ability to move enormous crowds with his preaching. Whitefield's great mistake, according to Franklin, was the publication of those same sermons -- which gave the utterly captivated crowd a second chance to really examine what had happened, which almost always was not nearly as great or captivating or moving as it first appeared.

And so it is with so many live recordings (by Sinatra and others): yes, I would have LOVED to have been there, but my not being there makes listening to the performance far less compelling and makes my ears far less forgiving. Sinatra's presence could fill the largest of arenas, and an audience could feel that force palpably. Live recordings only rarely can capture his presence.

Some things, like the Reverend Whitefield's sermons and most live Sinatra shows, are perhaps best left to the incredible impact the performance has on one's memory.

Some things are best when ephemeral.

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

I could learn every line of Crime and Punishment
by heart and recite it to you
To swim seven seas would be a breeze I bet
but I couldn't love you any more than I do.

"Couldn't Love You (Any More Than I Do)"
Nick Lowe, Nick the Knife, 1982

05 November 2009

Eye-Opening Stat of the Week

In two days I'll be older than Judy Garland when she died.


Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

loved ones loved ones
visit the building
take the highway park and come up and see me
I'll be working working
but if you come visit
I'll put down what I'm doing
my friends are important

"Don't Worry About the Government"
Talking Heads, 77,1977

04 November 2009

More on Election Day

I forgot to mention that yesterday's election in New Britain included a race for the position of constable.

Constable?!! What is this mid-19th Century England?

Let's bring back the beadle then, too!

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Now Mary Lou loved Johnny with a mean true love

"Reason to Believe"
Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska, 1982

03 November 2009

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

America's calling, Harry Truman!
Harry, won't you please come home.
Things are looking bad
I know you would be mad...

Harry Truman"
Chicago, Chicago VIII, 1975

Bring back voting machines!!!

Voted this morning in the local mayoral race, inter alia, and really, really miss the voting machine.

Filling in circles with black ink seems soooo SAT/CMT-ish.

What a great idea: If you really don't want people to vote, make it seem like taking a test!

02 November 2009

Steve Allen not only invented the late night talk show...

...but he obviously foresaw relationship-based reality shows like The Bachelor, etc.

How else to explain the following joke from his Private Joke File?

OLD GENTLEMAN (bewildered at an elaborate wedding):

Are you the bridegroom?


No, sir, I was eliminated in the semifinals.

Lyric of the day from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

Little old lady got mutilated late last night
Werewolves of London again

"Werewolves of London"
Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy, 1978

01 November 2009

Vic Damone and wife #1

She was a cutie, that Pier Angeli...

Top 13 things I learned from Vic Damone's autobiography, "Singing Was The Easy Part" (SPOILER ALERT!)

13. Larry King can't write a good foreword to save his life.

12. When playing golf with Perry Como, bring quarters because
a) you will play a quarter a hole,
b) he won't play you without seeing your quarters, and
c) he'll lose no more than two holes.

11. Vic converted from Catholicism to Baha'i

10. The suggestion that he marry his present wife, Rhona, one of the co-founders of "Jones New York," was made by her live-in companion/business partner of 25 years --- although I'm unsure if that is a recommendation one should give added weight or consider tainted.

9. Legendary golfer Ben Hogan, who "categorically" never gave tips on golf tips to anybody, once muttered when passing Vic on the practice tee, "Turn, goddamnit. Turn."

8. Vic hung up on Frank Sinatra twice.

7. Sinatra's bodyguard, sent by his boss, stopped Vic from killing the lover of his first wife, Italian actress Pier Angeli, offering the sage advice, "Kill her...him you should send roses to" (and find how how he managed to do it).

6. He and Diahann Carroll obviously weren't married too long...everyone's favorite "Julia" only merits about three pages in the whole book (?!).

5. Both Burt Bacharach and John "Star Wars" Williams were Vic's accompanist over the years.

4. Mike Douglas owed his talk show career to Vic.

3. If, with a naked woman, you enter a sauna occupied by the Rat Pack, the naked Frank and Sammy will run out "like sacred rabbits" to cover themselves, and Dean will just sit there saying "Beautiful, just beautiful..."

2. On a date with Ava Gardner, you're going to drink and swear (and have a helluva time), even if you never drink and swear any other time.

1. NEVER leave your mob-daughter-princess-of-a-fiancee alone with your mother in the kitchen of your parents' house, lest
a) your mother start recommending dishes you might enjoy after you marry,
b) your fiancee take offense at the idea that she would have to cook at all,
c) your fiancee start calling your mother all sorts of names,
d) you break off the engagenment, and
e) you almost get thrown out of a NY hotel window by her mobster father.

Final thoughts:

I will no longer use my standard "There are no good Vic Damone stories" punchline when explaining why there are so many Sinatra/Mob stories, compared to everyone else, even though all those entertainers were singing in the same mob-run clubs as Frank.

The book is a fun, quick read that, while not especially well written, clearly portrays the character of the man and the tenor of his life and career.

I'm glad I read it.

Sinatra lyric of the week from the Gigliotti vinyl collection

All those years I've worked for Santa Fe
Never ever missed a single day
Just one more without a raise in pay
And I'm leavin'

"Michael and Peter" (Jake Holmes)
Frank Sinatra, Watertown, 1969

Yet more evidence in support of abolishing the designated hitter rule in MLB

Andy Pettitte, the American League pitcher hitting only because the World Series game was being played in a National League park, singled home the tying run in the 5th inning of last night's Game 3.

Was it expected? No. Was it flukey? Sure? Was it exciting? Definitely. (And, ket's note, as an NL guy, I'm rooting for the Phillies!)

It's the way baseball should be played -- everybody pulling his weight on both sides of the ball (to mix my sports metaphors), not some slugger hitting a home run then sitting down for a nice rest without worrying about playing defense.

And don't even get me started on those WILD CARD teams...oy.