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As a middle child, I have a lot to thank my older brother for. But in a few things, I wish I hadn’t followed in his footsteps.

My older brother was a trail-blazer when it came to drinking, smoking and most of the other passages from childhood to adult. Being only slightly more than two years younger, I became his sidekick — his drinking monkey.

Monkey smoking a cigarette and carrying a bottle of booze.I’ve since wised up and dropped my evil habits. But I know that many people aren’t able to master their habits.

On an unrelated topic, my younger brother (when he was very young) asked my mother if she would have another boy so HE could have a little brother (the poor lady had already given birth to three boys.)

She told him that more children were not in the picture.

So little brother asked, “Then can we have a monkey?”

For purposes of these anecdotes, both brothers will remain nameless. Please forgive me, my brothers.

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I have reason to believe that I am the last person on Earth who drives a regular-sized car.

All around me are SUVs, Mini-vans and full-sized vans, Hummers, Jeeps and their clones and deriviatives, and mainly pickup trucks (most of the Monster Truck variety).

How does society compensate to all this? By reducing parking spaces.

3 cars squeeze into 2 parking spacesTo squeeze more people into a business (and squeeze more money out of them), you simply draw the lines in the parking lot narrower and write COMPACT in them. Of course, there are no compact vehicles, but that is not the fault of the businesses.

So the Hummers and Monster trucks can park in every other space, taking up one and a half of them so nobody can park between them, and the parking lot capacity is down to 1/3 of its optimal space.

A shrink I know would probably say that people feel so battered and vulnerable in this world of diminishing freedoms and shrinking income that they feel better in large (HUGE) vehicles.

You can fight back by driving recklessly, cutting people off in traffic, running them off the road. If you have a huge metal shell around you and can speed away, nobody can harm you — no matter how small and weak you are.

But then, I’m no shrink — I don’t know the reasons behind anything. I’m just looking for a parking space. A full-sized parking space.

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My Funny Valentine — You will still hear this every Valentine’s Day, even 80 years after it was written. The song is tender but odd — like the person who wrote it.

Actually, the beautiful music was written by “Richard Rodgers” — the guy who wrote Oklahoma and The Sound of Music and a lot of other classic Broadway musicals that were hits on the big screen.

But the lyrics were not written by Hammerstein — the better known of Rodgers’ partners.

For about 25 years, Richard Rodgers wrote with Lorenz — or Larry — Hart. And no story from Broadway or Hollywood could match the real-life story of this tortured but talented soul.

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart composing a song

Larry Hart and Dick Rodgers

“Funny Valentine” was written for (in most opinions) the greatest of Richard Rodgers’ musicals — “Babes in Arms.” The score of that show is like a greatest-hits compilation of Rodgers & Hart. “The Lady Is A Tramp,” “Have You Seen Miss Jones,” “Where or When” all have been adopted as

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As usual, most of the comments on losing our treasured Mary Tyler Moore were delivered by tweet. Quite a few celebrities said nothing more than quoting her theme song from the legendary 70’s TV Series.
 
“Love is All Around” was written and sung by Sonny Curtis, who started out as a good ole boy from Texas who happened into an historic gig as the lead guitarist for Buddy Holly.
Sonny Curtis and the Crickets 1950s
 
In case you think he was a one-shot-wonder, he also wrote “Walk Right Back”, for the Everly Brothers (and played in their band) and “More Than I Can Say”for the Crickets’ and later covered by Bobby Vee in the 60s and Leo Sayer in the 70s.
His biggest hit “I Fought the Law (and the law won” was covered by numerous artists. My favorite among his tunes is “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” which became a country hit for Keith Whitley.
Yeah, Sonny has done pretty good for himself, including induction into both the Musicians Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
 
It’s great to see him get recognition again (and probably a big boost in his royalty checks) from the beloved Mary Tyler Moore theme.
 
It’s a pity about the circumstances, though.

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I learned to play the guitar when I was about 13 –8th grade. My family had a 3rd or 4th hand acoustic guitar originally bought for my older brother, but since he was left-handed, it just laid around unused for a couple of years.

I had a Beatles song book and I had all the Beatles records (and loved them) so that was my stimulus to learn to play. The guitar wasn’t easy to play, but I was determined. I even persevered when I broke the high E string and didn’t have any means to get a replacement (I was just a kid in a small town and had no idea how to go about getting a replacement). I just adjusted my chords so they didn’t use the high string.

After learning the basics, and being determined to stick with it, I really longed for an electric guitar. Eric Clapton had one. Carlos Santana had one. Jimi Hendrix had one. I really needed one!

Then I saw it — the perfect guitar.

On the inside back page of most comic books were lots of novelty items for sale. X-ray Specs

I play a little guitar

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“Let’s Get Lost” is an intriguing title for a movie, taken from a popular song by trumpet legend Chet Baker. Baker crossed that big divide between pop music stardom and jazz obscurity with his song selection, trumpet-playing and his distinctive vocals. It didn’t hurt that he was matinee-idol handsome either.

Film director Bruce Weber made the documentary a year before Baker died and released it right about the time of his death in 1988. I’m not sure if it came out before or after the event. I’m 

Chet Baker on drugs

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Joe Hardaway had a long career in the movies — specifically cartoons. He did everything over time — voices, script and gag writer, and director. By the time he died in 1957, he had contributed great things to the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood Animation.

Joe was known to his friend as Bugs — like gangster Bugsy Siegel, who was hitting all the headlines at that time. The name meant “Crazy as a bedbug” in the slang of that era.

Hardaway was working with all the biggies of that time, including Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker creator) and Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones at Warner Brothers. The story

Bugs Bunny Origin

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Some people learn from mistakes, some don’t and repeat the errors over and over.

And some don’t survive mistakes long enough to learn.

Take the old story about “Boiling A Frog.”

We are told that if a frog is in a pan of cool water and the temperature is raised very slowly, the frog adjusts and bears the warmer water. Supposedly (the story goes), he will just keep tolerating hotter and hotter water until he boils to death.

Of course, if you know your frogs (and you DO know frogs, don’t you?), they will eventually jump out. After all, even a frog can only put up with so much.

The lesson is figuring out the point when the frog decides to jump out.

The philosophers will ask “What killed the frog?” Was it the boiling water or the frog’s decision

happy frog in hot water

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Why do we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a national holiday?

Because it took a century after the Civil War was over to finally officially address the lack of equality that was promised to the descendents of Africa slaves. Dr. King was a leader of the people and even while living became a symbol of all that was wrong with racial relations in America. His death became a rallying point for social and political change.

The turbulent decade of the 60s saw racial tensions boiling over. NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was shot by a Ku Klux Klan member. Another white supremacist killed four young black girls by bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

And a classically trained pianist named Nina Simone wrote and performed and recorded a song with a dirty word in the title and inflamatory lyrics.

Mississippi Goddam.

“Alabama’s gotten me so upset / Tennessee made me lose my rest / And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam…”

Was she cursing the state of Mississippi? Or was she just so exasperated with the events that she

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