31 January 2010

The mark of a great song is that it can be recorded by...

...a variety of artists and sound great every time...be it by the composer, by the singer who introduced it, or by the singer whose version I first heard!

No, I'm not a Tea Partier...

...I'm not even anything close to a tea guy.

I only drink Harney and Sons' Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea and only because it tastes like that hard candy called Atomic Fireballs (which, FYI, visitors to the office of the Dean of the CCSU School of Arts and Sciences can grab from her candy dish!) -- just as sweet and cinnamony but without the sugar.

So, understand that the following criticism comes from a tea tyro, who doesn't understand anything about steeping tea and would never even consider using a loose tea:

I HATE the sachet.

It's bigger and bulkier and more expensive than the tea bag, and, as a result, less convenient and a bit less tasty -- since even in the cute tin, it's exposed to air more than the individually wrapped tea bag.

(It does hold more tea since, I'm told, more and more Americans prefer MUGS of tea as opposed to cups. But, unless you're a mug person, it's more than you need for a cup but not really enough for two -- unless you're my remarkably efficient tea-loving mother-in-law who could probably squeeze three or four cups out of one. I'm not that patient. I want a cup of Fireballs now, and I don't want a lot of fussing about...especially at the office.)

Now true tea lovers will probably be appalled by my pedestrian tea-ness, and I fully recognize my limited tastes...but I do love what I love. Ever since tasting my first H&S Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea at The Herbery, I've cut drastically back on my former fave hot beverage, Hot Chocolate!

That must give me some maturity points, no?

30 January 2010

"Of her day," sir?! "Of her DAY"? Nay, sir, of all time!

"Mini Biography" of Gene Tierney from IMDB

With prominent cheekbones and the most appealing overbite of her day, her striking good looks helped propel her to stardom. Her best known role is the enigmatic murder victim in Laura (1944). She was also Oscar-nominated for Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Her acting performances were few in the 1950s as she battled a troubled emotional life that included hospitalization and shock treatment for depression.

Not that you can tell by any of her pictures, BTW!

Most recently discovered non-Sinatra Sinatra item that I'd like to hear

The name of the band is Sinatra 65. This was released in 1994.

28 January 2010

Two thoughts on the death of J.D. Salinger

...would it be perverse to suggest that they have a public viewing so that the public that has longed so much to see him for the past however many years could get a good, long look at him?

In junior year of high school, we read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Catcher in the Rye by Salinger. I believe I was the only one in the class who preferred Hawthorne. I'm still right.

"Diagnosing Tablet Fever in Higher Education"

The last two tablets that I can remember being excited about were (in reverse chronological order):


The Rosetta Stone

27 January 2010

What President Obama should REALLY say to Congress tonight in his State of the Union Address

From the final verse of "Loves Me Like a Rock":

"Who do...
Who do you think your fooling?
I got the Presidential Seal
I'm up on the Presidential Podium
My mama loves
She loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
And she loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
and she loves me!"

"Never Mind the Why or Wherefore!"

Today my younger daughter is shadowing at the Hartford Magnet Middle School, a.k.a., the Hartford Middle Magnet or simply HMMS.

Now when I hear HMMS, I can't help thinking that it sounds either vaguely like the acronym for some Catholic high school or, even more so, like the title of that beloved Gilbert and Sullivan operetta H.M.S. Pinafore, which is the reason I shall henceforth refer to said middle school simply as "Pinafore."

26 January 2010

Humor in the Classroom

Humor in the Classroom

Posted using ShareThis

I begin each class with a joke (a remnant of my Catholic high school teaching days when one started off each class with a prayer -- a practice which has two beneficial effects: getting students into a different frame of mind and marking clearly the beginning of class).

Anyway, I am teaching an ESL class for the first time this semester and, even before I began my favorite opening-of-the-semester joke, I realized my joke wasn't going to go over well:

Two musicians are walking down the street.

One says to the other, "Who was that piccolo I saw you with last night?"

The other replies, "That was no piccolo; that was my fife."

I have to explain a Henny Youngman allusion to American college students, so I shouldn't have been surprised that international students would be even less likely to see the humor (limited as it may be to most people). My explanation of the lineage of the joke didn't seem to help.

I'm going forward nonetheless. What better way to see how a language can work than through its jokes?

25 January 2010

First look at the cover of the new Ava Gardner anthology due out from Entasis Press this coming April!

Tomorrow on "Frank, Gil, and Friends"

Today, 25 January 2010, marks the 20th anniversary of Ava Gardner's death,

so, tomorrow, we'll be playing songs Frank recorded in 1951 and 1952

(the years leading up to and immediately following their marriage on 7 November 1951)


Frank, Gil, and Friends

Tuesdays 8-10 AM

on-air at WFCS 107.7 FM New Britain/Hartford

on-line at www.live365.com/stations/wfcs

For more program info go to http://home.comcast.net/~g18gigliotti/site (The "Frank, Gil, and Friends" website)

An idiosyncratic "Today in History"

It's the Feast of the conversion of St. Paul, so try and at least get knocked off a horse (if you can't actually get on the road to Damascus).

Ava Gardner dies in 1990.

That's funny, I'd have thought the list of reasons might be a bit longer!

"[Barry Manilow's] disinterest in subtext and his rhythmic timidity are what keeps Mr. Manilow from being Frank Sinatra."

From Stephen Holden's review of Manilow's new album The Greatest Love Songs of All Time

24 January 2010

Chairmanship Countdown

Classes for Spring 2010 at CCSU begin tomorrow.

Only 7 months and 1 week to go as chairman.
That's 219 days, to be precise.

23 January 2010

Requiescas in Pacem, Jean Simmons!

She'll always be Varinia from Spartacus to me!

I kinda like the sound of "La Bande de Rats"


It would have sounded even better had Lauren Bacall originally uttered it in French (in that Lauren Bacall voice) when she said to her hubby Humphrey Bogart and his Holmbly Hills friends:

"Look at you. You look like a pack of rats!"

22 January 2010

Why I love the Internet (and Wikipedia)

NOSTALGIA and hardcore newsmen!

What the article doesn't mention is the sonorously memorable late news opening:

"It's Eleven O'Clock. Time for the 'Al Schottelkotte News.'"

Another musical memory of my youth

It's 1974 all over again.

Reunion's "Life is a Rock (but the Radio Rolled Me)"

Back when New Year's Eve still meant listening to the Top 100 Countdown on some Cincinnati radio station.

(Was WSAI still Top 40 then?)

Start the weekend with Frank and Tom

A little bossanovian"Change Partners," anyone?

The New Ava Gardner Museum Blog and other Ava News

I'm quite excited that the Ava Gardner Museum now has its own blog -- a chance for all of us who aren't in shouting distance of Smithfield, NC to keep up with events, exhibits, etc. at the Museum.

Other news...

Just heard from my publisher, Entasis Press, that we're looking at an April release for the new anthology, Ava Gardner: Touches of Venus.

And the free Ava film series at CCSU, "Fridays with Ava," sponsored by Alumni Affairs Office, will include a pre-screening reception at each movie! Ava with snacks on a Friday afternoon. What could be better that that?

I'm also trying to arrange with Playhouse on Park a free morning screening of Ava's One Touch of Venus. Details as they become available.

And this Tuesday at 9:00 AM on the "Frank, Gil, and Friends" radio show, we'll mark this Monday's 20th anniversary of Ava's passing with a special Ava playlist!!!!! (Just return here on Tuesday and click on the WFCS station link right on this blog!)

Ava Gardner-- alive and well in central Connecticut!

21 January 2010

Shakespearean Quote of the Week

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.

Julius Caesar

20 January 2010

The Military Step

Something I should practice!

I read a brochure today (oh, boy)...

...with a variety of programs for which one of the experts had this combination of credentials:

a Master's Degree in Exercise Science

a Certificate in Spirituality

and "extensive training" in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

19 January 2010

According to reports, Tiger Woods is being treated...

...for sex addiction at some facility somewhere. (I wasn't paying close attention, to be honest.) Treatment includes a chastity pledge. The head of the facility, according to the report, is taking a "hands-on approach" with his famous patient.

That language seems less than felicitous, if you ask me.

(On a golf-related note, I played my first nine-hole game of Wii golf -- 3 holes each of the beginner, intermediate, and expert levels -- and scored a 3-under-par! I felt so good, I wanted to let my Mii go out and pick up some NYC "hostess/party girls".)

New St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGuire insists that steroids did not help him...

...in his breaking of Roger Maris's single season Major League home run record, and manager Jose Offerman is literally beating up on umpires.

And PETE ROSE is the one who is banned from baseball?

If the UConn Men's Basketball Team were in the top 25...

...would Jim Calhoun be taking a "temporary" leave of absence for medical issues, "none of which involve previous medical conditions"?

It's amazing how bad having no half-court game can make a coach feel!

18 January 2010

My adult life (as seen in prime time)


Mad About You

Everybody Loves Raymond

Men of a Certain Age

(well, excluding that Scott Bakula character, of course)

17 January 2010

The only cool New York Jet EVER, or...

...if your knees are only going last a short time, make the most of the time you've got!

Keep your Billie Jo and your Betty Jo; my Bradley sister of choice was (and is)....

Bobbie Jo!
And there's NO way, when Steve crashes his crop duster,
that he falls for and marries Betty Jo.
Just no way.

Things I miss about the old NFL

1) Head coaches with suits and ties -- and hats, if possible. That Hank Stram was such a rebel with his white double-breasted jacket!
2) Quarterbacks who didn't move around so much at the line of scrimmage. I get tired just watchin' Peyton Manning before the snap (although I am, given the choices at this point, rooting for the Colts).
3) COLD games played on a COLD field in January in Minnesota.

16 January 2010

Playhouse on Park is the "Cheese to My Macaroni"!

On Friday evening, the family and I attended Playhouse on Park's production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), a very entertaining three-man show with Sean Harris, David Salsa, and Rich Hollman, directed by Tom Ridgely.

The packed house (BTW, erroneously called the first-ever sold-out show at POP) enjoyed the manic energy of the three actors and their remarkable ability to switch roles -- and gears -- at the drop of a hat (or of a line or of a costume or of a prop)!

Whether a devotee of the Bard or a novice, one can't help but enjoy oneself because, even in the midst of the silliest of spoofs, the actors are able to make the language and characters come alive. (Even the apparent throw-away soliloquy of Hamlet, as beautifully performed by Mr. Hollman, spoke volumes of reasons why Shakespeare will not -- indeed, cannot-- go away.)

The show is so fast-paced I really can't remember everything I found really, really funny. I know I can't recall the last Uncle Vanya joke I was exposed to, and admittedly I didn't really fully get the allusion last night, but I laughed, and laughed heartily... so it needn't matter.

As I told my daughters, the strength of a show like this is that, despite its mockery of scholarly approaches to the playwright and the plays, the authors (Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Borgeson) had to be masters of the Shakespearean corpus to create such a work. So genuinely funny a play can't be written by those who don't know and love "my Willy."

From my perspective , this is the most completely successful production that POP has yet mounted, and that's not an easy mark to hit (given what they have done even in their short existence)!

FYI: The title of this post alludes to one of the Hamlet bits that got the entire audience playing along. And, if that doesn't define good theatre, I'm not sure what does!

14 January 2010

I'm not a fan of "American Idol" because I don't like...

...what it's done to the general perception of what good singing is (i.e., you're only good now if you are able to perform a myriad of vocal pyrotechnics -- Damn the melody! Full speed ahead! -- instead of able to perform simply and tunefully a well-written song).

But the little I do watch of it only emphasizes to me repeatedly how much Simon will be missed when he leaves after this season -- since he's the only one who is willing to tell the truth.

That said, doesn't the man own any shirts?

Sometimes the obvious is a better choice!

As I posted on the comments, I can't believe they chose "Mudcats" over their being the Spoon River "Anthologies"!

13 January 2010

Good for Conan!

I still can't believe that Leno is doing this to Mr. O'Brien. He could've taken the high road, but obviously not.

Instead the younger man, not too long ago the future of NBC late night, must leave (and quite understandably so).

12 January 2010

How to practice the step that I need to remember for next week's tap class


While sitting in a chair

Right Step

Left Step

Right Spank

Left Spank

Right Dig

Left Dig

CORRECTED thing I need to remember for next week's tap class

The Shim Sham

Right Shuffle Step

Left Shuffle Step

Right Shuffle Ball Change Shuffle Step

Left Shuffle Step

Right Shuffle Step

Left Shuffle Ball Change Shuffle Step

Right Shuffle Step

Left Shuffle Step

Right Shuffle Ball Change Shuffle Dig Step (right)

Left Rear Toe Step (back)

Right Hop (back)

Left Hop (back)

Right Step (wide)

Left Step (wide)

Not a good omen

I've just been reminded by my Outlook meeting reminder of a meeting for students on probation.

The reminder comes on my screen and to turn it off you have several choices, one of which is:


Watch out students.

Fridays with Ava: An Ava Gardner Film Series

The CCSU Alumni Association



An AVA GARDNER Film Series

(with each movie introduced by a CCSU professor with an expertise in a related field)

February 5

THE KILLERS (1946) w/ Professor Barry Leeds

February 19

SHOW BOAT (1951) w/ Professor Felton Best

March 5

MOGAMBO (1953) w/ Professor Burlin Barr

March 12

THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954) w/ Professor Cindy White

April 23

ON THE BEACH (1959) w/ Professor David Blitz

Screenings are free and open to the public

"Nixon's Seduction of Frank Sinatra"

...you could do all this or just have him play a lot of golf with Spiro Agnew!

11 January 2010

The Spring Line-up of "Central Authors"



CCSU’s cable television show featuring members of the Central family (faculty, staff, and alumni) talking about their books

and airing on some 20 cable outlets throughout Connecticut. (Check your local listings!)

WEDNESDAYS at 12:00 in the CCSU Bookstore

February 10th

Gender and Allegory in Transamerican Fiction and Performance

Katherine Sugg (English)

February 24th

Meeting the Demands of Reason: The Life and Thought of Andrei Sakharov

Jay Bergman (History)

March 10th

Plague, Apocalypses, and Bug-Eyed Monsters: How Speculative Fiction Shows Us Our Nightmares

Heather Urbanski (English)

March 31st

Electrifying the Rural American West: Stories of Power, People, and Place

Leah Glaser (History)

April 7th

Replacement Child

Judy Mandel (Alumna, Class of ‘81)

April 14th

A Talk about Writing Textbooks:

Mosaicos: Spanish as a World Language, Identidades: Exploraciones e Interconexiones, and La escritura paso a paso.

Paloma Lapuerta (Modern Languages)


Watch Central Authors daily on CCSU TV, channel 23, at 8:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 7:30 pm,


online at www.ccsu.edu/centralauthors/programming.htm

Think globally; read locally!