31 December 2009

Happy New Year, Everyone!

May 2010 be a good one for all of you....

To celebrate, how about a punchline of an old joke...

"But, teacher, how do I know it's Robert Burns and not Robert Browning?"

and a traditional song!

It was five years ago today that my father passed away

4 January 2005

Thank you for coming today to help us remember my father. Immediately following this service, there will be a chapel service at Gate of Heaven Cemetery on Montgomery Road, followed by a reception downstairs. I must remind you of something that anybody who visited him at St. Margaret Hall already knows:

YOU CANNOT LEAVE ‘TIL YOU SIGN THE BOOK!

Before I begin, I want publicly to thank our mother, Rose Marie, for loving, comforting, and caring for our father “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, ‘til death did them part.” You truly lived your wedding vows, and we thank you for that. We love you.

I just want to be “Little Gilbert” again.

I was never an Aeneas. Aeneas, as you may recall from Vergil’s epic The Aeneid, was a Trojan prince and future father of Rome, who dutifully and lovingly carried his infirmed father on his shoulders out of the burning city of Troy. I was never that son. Early on, it was my older and stronger brother, Mike, who, when necessary, did the heaviest lifting. In the most recent years, the responsibility has fallen on the youngest, Anthony, who has been a rock for both our dad and our mom. I never was Dad’s Aeneas; so I want to be “Little Gilbert” again.

I couldn’t be Dad’s “favorite daughter” either. I couldn’t, as only an only-daughter can, make our father light up just by entering his room. Fran could and did, and Dad benefited greatly from it. I couldn’t be Fran; I just want to be “Little Gilbert” again.

Nor did I ever have to be a Frank Sinatra, Jr. I never had to be someone burdened by the weight of someone else’s name (and the responsibilities that so often attend it). Dad, after all, didn’t make his namesake either his first-born or even a junior. Our different middle names (Mario and Leonard, respectively) individualized us and, as he did with all his children, allowed me to be who I wanted to be (even if, as dad used to say – and as only he could – “Gigliotti’s a big name around here”).

He never forced his wishes upon his children. I’ll always treasure his response to my decision to leave law school and teach Latin instead. Despite being confused and probably disappointed, he only said “Your mother and I just want you to be happy.” This was hard-earned wisdom from a man who went to both West Point and medical school but was prevented from finishing either because of familial obligations.

I just want to be “Little Gilbert” again. For, growing up, that’s who I was, and, given my size and my age, it made sense then, even if I didn’t always enjoy it. In high school, when a friend would call and ask for “Gil,” I didn’t necessarily appreciate Mom’s automatic response, “Big Gil or Little Gil?” Nevertheless, as time has gone by, I realize that the name we share is more than appropriate and due more than to the fact our November birthdays are but four days apart.

I am the only male English professor at CCSU who feels underdressed in the classroom without a jacket and tie. I, like my father, have a reputation at the office for being preternaturally cheery…almost to the point of annoyance. Who else but my father, after all, would decorate his walker with Christmas lights and greenery? Well, to be honest, I hope I would!

I, “Little Gil,” more than my siblings, appreciate Dad’s abiding and deep love of old Hollywood and his theatrical bent. I understand his affection for Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, and Bing Crosby. I was the one with whom he sang and danced to Carol Channing’s “Baby Face” from the soundtrack of Thoroughly Modern Millie. I was the one who went with him to the construction site at the end of Meadowbright Lane for a bivouac (that is, “a picnic in the middle of winter”) because “That was the kind of thing Nelson Eddy’s “Stout-Hearted Men” would do.) I was the one with whom he got up early Saturday mornings to watch and laugh at “Lance Link, Secret Chimp.” I am the child who could most appreciate Dad’s pride in being the lead in Brother Goose, his high school senior play, and his performance of “Yes, We Have No Bananas” in the Angels Follies. And I was the one with whom he shared (and not infrequently performed) favorite lines from films he watched for hours every week when he was young at the Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania movie theatre.

The films he spoke about that take on particular poignancy for me at this moment are both from 1942: King’s Row and Pride of the Yankees. The most famous scene of King’s Row, a better-than-average Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, and Ann Sheridan melodrama, has Ronald Reagan waking up without his legs in a hospital after an accident and crying out “Where’s the rest of me?” I cannot but think that Dad must have asked the same question to himself many times over the years. His response is unambiguously powerful now, some 32 years after he was diagnosed: nothing’s going to defeat me, he clearly told himself, until I’M ready to say goodbye.

The second film, starring Gary Cooper, is justly more famous, and the only time I watched it with him is etched in my mind. I was visiting on Thanksgiving, and Pride of the Yankees came on television. I watched with my father and grandmother, and as Lou Gehrig slowly began to experience the symptoms of ALS, the room only got quieter. After Gehrig’s celebrated speech at the end of the movie, we all remained still – recognizing the 800-pound gorilla in the room but not saying a word. Once again, knowing my father as I do, I can imagine his thinking of the family and friends (including his many doctors, nurses, and aides) who had gathered around him throughout his life and saying the same thing the ballplayer said to the crowd in Yankee Stadium: “Today I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Today I stand here, at the very age my father was when he had been diagnosed with MS, to say my father was wrong. He wasn’t the luckiest; we are luckier – because WE had the chance to know HIM.

I just want to be “Little Gilbert” again because I want to be the loving husband, generous father, wonderful grandfather, and loyal friend that Gilbert Mario Gigliotti was. If I can even approach the man he became over his 76 years, I will, like he has, make an impact upon those around me that will be felt for generations to come.

To “Big Gil” from “Little Gil” (but on behalf of all of us):

We love you; we miss you. Godspeed.

26 December 2009

Santa brought the Gigliotti household a Wii...

...and to my dismay, I'm enjoying it tremendously.

My younger daughter thinks my Mii is a perfect rendering of her father, but I'm not sure how to take that.

I'm boxing my brains out (as it were) and have beaten down the aforesaid ten-year-old TWICE not to mention all the sundry Mii competition!

(Sports I've actually played before -- like tennis -- are at times oddly more difficult than I think they should be. I'm not saying I'm good at real tennis, but I'm pretty sure I've never swung a backhand when the ball was going to my forehand side!?!!? Can't figure out what's going on there. Then again, I'm gettin' strikes and spares at unusually high rates, considering my bowling skills.)

HOWEVER, on the plus plus plus side, according to the undeniably scientific gauge of the Wii fitness age calculation...you're reading the blog of a 31-year-old!

Booyah! Wait 'til my cardiologist hears that!

No surprise in the "Singer You'd Most Like to Hear Sing a Christmas Song" Poll

Bing Crosby won with 57% of the vote.

25 December 2009

New Old Frank Sinatra: a GREAT Xmas Gift!

Frank's singin' Body and Soul!

Merry Christmas, all!

Adeste, fideles,
Laeti triumphantes.
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte,
Regem angelorum.
Venite adoremus;
Venite adoremus;
Venite adoremus
Dominum!

24 December 2009

The more things change...

It's like the good Reverend Mather could have been living right next door to us:

"The Feast of Christ's Nativity is spent in Reveling, Dicing, Carding, Masking and in all Licentious Liberty,'' thundered the Rev. Cotton Mather of Boston in 1712, "by Mad Mirth, by long Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Reveling."

Well, that and a little ping pong!

Result of the Second Annual Gigliotti Family Christmas Eve Ping Pong Tournament

Celeste Gigliotti defeats defending champion Martha Perry, 21-18.

Arnold Stang, R.I.P.

I knew that Arnold Stang, who at age 91 just passed away this week, had co-starred with Frank Sinatra in the Otto Preminger film Man with the Golden Arm, but I didn't know that he voiced the cartoon character "Top Cat," the cat after whom I named my own T.C., during my brief, ill-fated pet-ownership period in Third Grade.

Godspeed, Top Cat!

Happy Birthday, Ava Lavinia Gardner!

Born this day, 1922.

Look forward to a big Ava year in 2010!

The anthology Ava Gardner: Touches of Venus, (featuring poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and song lyrics by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Robert Graves, Allan Gurganus, Pere Gimferrer, Mario Cabre, Alain Souchon, and other authors from the world round) is due to be released by Entasis Press in February.

At Central Connecticut State University, "Fridays with Ava: The Ava Gardner Film Series" will kick off on 5 February at 2 PM with The Killers (1946), starring Ava and Burt Lancaster, and introduced by CSU Professor Emeritus Barry Leeds. The other films are Show Boat (1951), Mogambo (1953), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), and On the Beach (1959).

Stay tuned here for more details -- and a sneak peek at the anthology's cover as soon as it's available!

Xmas Countdown

Christmas Must Be Tonight!

23 December 2009

I'm assuming the author of this ESPN.com headline didn't attend the losing school...

No. 1 UConn Tops No. 2 Standford, 80-68

(Publish Date: Today, 08:17 PM ET Duration: 03:17)

So, my fifth-grade daughter comes home from school today...

...where they had just had a holiday party -- on this last day before the Christmas vacation.

At the party, they sang "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," but NO ONE in the class knew (or remembered) the ending of the holiday classic...you know that part:

Then how the reindeer loved him
and they shouted out with glee
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
You'll go down in history!"

In short, they couldn't sing the climax of the song, which, as a result, became merely a story of redemption-less cruelty toward a strange-looking deer.

(Granted, the complete song seems to celebrate taking advantage of the odd kid on the block, but at least it recognizes some sort of unified community!)

Xmas Countdown

Enjoy Matt Monro's Mary's Boy Child, a song I didn't know of until only days ago -- which surprised my wife a great deal!

But then again I only learned about Pet Shop Boys' "It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas" until recently too. Although it does have a haunting similarity to the chorus of the old Folger's Coffee commercial jingle, "The best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup!"

19 December 2009

A Matt Monro Christmas Greeting


It's about to start snowing in New Britain, I think, so how about a little Matt Monro holiday wish!


It's one of the books I've always wanted to write!

Matt Monro: The Singer’s Singer
The Life and Music of Matt Monro

By Michele Monro
Publication Date: 29 January 2010
Hardback • 656pp • 9781848566187 • £17.99
_______________________________________________

Matt Monro: The Singer’s Singer is the never-before-told biography of one of Britain’s most popular and endearing singers, whose songs including Born Free, Walk Away, From Russia With Love, Softly As I Leave Her and Portrait of My Love have been ingrained in the public consciousness, and whose talent was revered by friends and contemporaries including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and Sir George Martin.

from Titan Books

17 December 2009

And that would "hark back" all of 9 or 10 months, right?

Headline from today's Hartford Courant's Cal section :

David Archuleta, From The Heart: Christmas Album From 'American Idol' Runner-Up Harks Back To Childhood

15 December 2009

"Do the Tap Tap Tap(ioca)"

In a previous post, I noted the top four highlights of my life as a dancer (okay, okay, even I have to laugh when I read that!).

Here's highlight number 5!

In tap class tonight, after my doing some particularly solid "backward shuffles" and "drawbacks," "Teach" looks at me and exclaims:

Who are you?!



(Full disclosure: Since I had come to tap class directly from the Arts and Sciences Holiday Social, I think it was the wine dancing.)

But imagine how long he could teach if he used a more student-centered pedagogy?!?

From Today's Chronicle of Higher Ed

December 14, 2009, 07:00 AM ET

Lecturer Breaks the World Record

Errol T. Muzawazi, whom we wrote about here last week, is still walking and talking after five days in front of a classroom at Jagiellonian University, in Krakow, Poland. His feat, which is to end today at the 130-hour mark (4 p.m. ET), can be seen live on the Web.

As with all such endeavors, Mr. Muzawazi's marathon mark will not be official until Guinness World Records declares it so, but at noon local time (6 a.m. ET), he crossed over the previous record of 120 hours. He is seeking to raise money for a trans-African educational journey.

Congratulations, Mr. Muzawazi! Now get some sleep.

14 December 2009

Re: Tiger Woods (Parts V and VI)

a) I must admit I've been very impressed with the ability of the various women with whom Tiger "carried on" (as it were) to remain quiet about it.

If I had slept with Tiger, I'd be telling EVERYBODY!

b) Went to see my older daughter in a student-written series of one acts based on international myths, Around the World in Ninety Minutes, at New Britain High School on Friday night, but was somewhat disappointed that the one with two characters named "Tiger" and "Tiger's Wife" had nothing to do with current events.

On the First Anniversary of "Connecticut Wit"

The statistics after one year of blogging:

Total posts: 375

Total "page impressions": 6,726

Total chuckles: 12

Total insights: .5

13 December 2009

11 December 2009

This is why my next anthology idea, "Cotton Mather:...

...The Fabric of Our Lives," for which I've already started collecting material, makes so much sense.!

(It's going to be a hard sell as a follow up to Sinatra: But Buddy I'm a Kind of Poem and the forthcoming Ava Gardner: Touches of Venus, both from Entasis Press, but I gotta try!)

I'd try and use the comic image as the cover, of course.

I already have the one of the comics in which the Reverend appears, but it popped up today on Prof Hacker!

Often I find NPR's "All Things Considered"...

...twee or at least a bit too earnest, like the reviewer last night who was talking about the 2009 Nobel Prize winner in literature, Herta Muller (but with an umlaut). In his description of her work, he said that his hands were almost trembling as he read her prose, a prose so affecting that often he could read no more than a page or two, and sometimes not even more than a paragraph or two at a time! Good thing it was a short book he was using as his example or else next year's winner may have been announced before he finished this year's piece!

Just before I turned off the radio, they were beginning a new segment on the five Americans arrested in Pakistan on their way to a terrorist training camp. (Investment idea to self: Five Guys Burger franchises in war zones.)

This story led me to wonder if the Taliban offers "fantasy training camps" like Major League Baseball does? It'd probably raise a lot of money from middle-aged-wanna-be-terrorists. Well, it's something they might want to consider.

And, if the terrorist training camps are already open, when exactly was the "hot stove" period for them?

08 December 2009

Another life lesson from tap dance class

In class tonight we were doing, from my (admittedly limited) perspective, a fairly intricate tap sequence, and "Teach" noted that some of us were cheating on it (i.e., not really doing all the moves to make all the sounds...), at which point I was going to ask:
Can I really be cheating if I have no idea what I'm doing?
In other words, I may not have been doing the steps correctly, but I couldn't necessarily even guarantee that -- because I really didn't know fully what steps I was performing! I was just movin' my feet. It's then that I realized the truth about what I tell my students about plagiarism. It is what it is intentional or not. The fact that I couldn't begin to say what my feet were doing was a real good indication that I was cheating. And that was BEFORE we started doin' those blasted turns! Arrgh.
(On re-reading this post, doesn't the question above sound like one of those silly Sex in the City questions posed at some point each episode by Sarah Jessica Parker?)

07 December 2009

Quote for the day

Vergil never needed dashes -- or italics -- in his poetry!

06 December 2009

Another sign that I need to pay more attention to the culture around me...

Blake Lively hosted Saturday Night Live last night.

I have no idea who this person is.

None.

Nada.

Zippo.

Now, it's not completely unheard of that I don't recognize the name of a SNL host or don't recognize her/his appearance (or can't for the life of me figure why s/he has a career), but I have always had some frame of reference for identifying the person.

Not this time -- and I went to bed before I figured it out.

Her name seems to me like it belongs to a character in some 18th-century novel...and that insight should explain the need for this post at all.

05 December 2009

Tiger Woods: Part IV (If I'd send you all of my books for free...)

From today's Hartford Courant:

"Sales of the book Get a Grip on Physics are soaring on Amazon.com because a copy can be seen on the floor of Tiger Woods's mangled SUV in pictures released by Florida police."

I need to hang around, with copies of my books in tow, of course, more places that might turn into tabloidy crime scenes!

Now THAT'D be a good reason to get on Twitter: to learn about tabloidy crime scenes as soon as they happen.

(Note to self: re-think Twitter avoidance.)

03 December 2009

Who's gonna tell Bernie that Bridget's "out"?!


And Mother and Father Fitzgerald will not be thrilled either by the news, I bet.
In her defense, this is no way to find a mate!

Re: Tiger Woods, Part III

Regarding Tiger's "alleged mistress #1":

How does a New York "hostess" one day become a New York "party girl" the next?

I'm not sure what precise characteristics (professional or personal) denotes either one of those titles, but so quick a change?



P.S. Be honest, haven't we all, at some point, left a voice mail message saying,:
"Hey, it's me, Tiger?"

02 December 2009

Re: Tiger Woods, Part II

Do the latest revelations of his "transgressions" mean that Tiger will start will wearing a scarlet letter on Sundays?

01 December 2009

President Obama's Afghanistan Time Frame

From today's New York Times:

"However officials said that Mr. Obama in his speech will give a time frame — something Mr. Bush did not do —for when the United States will start pulling the reinforcements out and begin turning over security responsibilities to Afghan forces one province at a time."

I believe what he'll say in his speech tonight is :

We'll be pulling out of Afghanistan as soon as it has universal health care!