Wonderful Tunes Provided By Friends. Wild Tangents Provided By Me.

Posts tagged ‘family’


I frequently mix up the “ABC/NBC Mystery Movie” network call letters but I never mix up the songs. This is the theme for the 1989 ABC series. Burt Bacharach wrote it after the birth of his daughter Nikki in 1966. At the time Nikki, who was born prematurely, was struggling for her life in the hospital. Hal David wrote lovely lyrics that expressed the hope and heartache Burt and Angie Dickinson must have been feeling at the time. I’ve seen the lyrics printed but I’ve never heard them sung. This beautiful instrumental version of the song is much more popular. I think it conveys the message just as well.

Today happens to be “Blog For Access Day.” Bloggers with an interest in disability issues are encouraged to devote their blogs to the subject today. I mention this because, tragically, Nikki Bacharach took her own life in 2007. A spokesperson said she was unable to cope with the effects of her Asperger’s syndrome. I have 4 (probably a couple more) family members who fall along the Asperger’s end of the autistic spectrum. Thankfully, most of them were born after 1994 when experts finally began correctly diagnosing it but a couple of them weren’t.

I grew up with a cousin who had AS before it had a name. Mostly we chalked her grumpy bookishness up to teenage angst but it was clearly more. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her to grow up with this nameless difference but “not easy” is almost certainly an understatement. We had a pretty rocky relationship growing up but I have her to thank for my love of many things geeky. Happily my cousin’s story has a much happier ending than poor Nikki’s. She’s got a husband and three beautiful children. For the young people in my family living with autism the outlook is even brighter. I am sad that, even in 2007 when supports and resources were abundant and available, Nikki still couldn’t find any peace within herself and I’m very grateful that improved access means few others will suffer her fate.

Harry Nilsson And The Problem With Single TV Fathers

“Courtship of Eddie’s Father” ran from 1969 to 1972 and it was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid.

I once read an interesting article about the 50’s and 60’s widower dad shows. It was the author’s belief that all those depictions of single parent homes were directly responsible for the moral decay of society today. I never buy into alarmist rhetoric myself, unless of course it’s alarmist rhetoric that I personally agree with. It is true that many of my favorite shows growing up depicted single parent homes. I have to wonder if that fact contributed to my decision to become a single parent. Whether or not I’ll contribute to society’s “moral decay” remains to be seen. But, if my child does grow up to be a floozy/axe murderer, at least I can take comfort in the fact that it’s really all Fred MacMurray’s fault!

Musical Patriotism

“Mr Smith Goes To Washington” (1939) stars Jimmy Stewart as Jefferson Smith, a naive junior senator who fights corruption in congress. The score for this film was written by award winning composer Dimtri Tiomkin whose film score credits also include Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Lost Horizon.” Let’s hear his mix of some favorite patriotic tunes:

In my family we like our politics loud, preachy and opinionated. We frequently discuss the all the warts of our political system but we also treasure what is great about it. A trip to Washington DC is a necessary pilgrimage for us. With one thing and another I haven’t been there yet. Even though it’s a cheap and easy trip, I might just wait and see it for the first time with my daughter. We will likely wait a couple of years before our first trip because I think she’ll appreciate it more when she’s a touch older.

If that kid in the movie is any measure, my grandparents were right. Kids in the olden days actually were better! I can’t imagine my daughter standing in front of a giant Lincoln statue and having the focus and presence of mind to reverently read a plaque. In fact, based on previous conversations with her, I think the dialog would go something like this:

“Mommy! Our presivent was HUGE!”
“No dear, he was a normal sized man. They just made his statue big.”
“But Mom look at the size of his chair! His bottom must be gigantic!”
“We can’t see it but I imagine the statue’s bottom is pretty big.”
“But really he was regular size?”
“That’s good because if he was a giant I would NOT want to see his poop!”

My princess ladies and gentlemen.

Nat, Mel, or June: Can You Spot The Domestic Goddess?

This is a clip from “The Nat King Cole Show” which ran from 1956 -1957. I believe this is the first June Christy we’ve had on this thread! I love it when women show up. June was born in my home state Illinois and she began singing professionally at the tender age of 13. She came to prominence when she replaced Anita O’Day in Stan Kenton’s orchestra where she scored hits with “Tampico” and “How High The Moon.”  I always LOVE to hear Nat King Cole play and Mel Torme on drums is a treat!

While I was looking up info for this post, I came across some publicity photos of June. A couple showed her with her hubby in their spotless home in typical poses of 1950’s domesticity. It made me smile because my mom will be visiting all next week. I love my mom and we always look forward to her visits. Here’s my question though, why do I feel the need to imitate that same image of perfect domesticity whenever anyone comes over? I don’t live in squalor. A&E is not about to show up with a camera crew. But I work full time and I Mom full time too and I confess that when I have time to myself, I do not always feel like picking up a dust rag. But now that my mom is coming I am polishing and dusting and organizing like a mad woman! I’m thinking entertaining would be a lot less stressful if I just print up a form letter of domestic confession:

Dear [insert visitor here],

My knick knacks are often dusty, my toiletries are shamefully unorganized, and sometimes there’s pet hair on the furniture. I hope you can still find it in your heart to love me somehow.


P.S. Caution: Restroom sometimes contains disgruntled flying rodent.

Mary Lou Williams and the Music Of My Nights

I’ve been meaning to post Mary Lou Williams for a while now. She was a gifted pianist, band leader, composer and arranger. She taught herself to play when she was 6 and began performing in Vaudeville as a child. Even though she was a contemporary of greats like Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman, her contributions to jazz music are often sadly overlooked. The video I chose is simply called “Solo Blues Piano.”

My grandma, had no crackpot theories about Mary Lou Williams. In fact, the parallels between the two women’s lives are astounding ( “astounding” here meaning few but sorta neat). My grandmother was also named Mary Lou and she was also a jazz pianist… well she was an IRS tax clerk who enjoyed playing along with her jazz albums in the evenings after work. Grandma was actually pretty good but she could swear with the best of them when she missed a note. There is really nothing more entertaining to a child than a particularly blue string of little old lady swears on a Friday night! Sometimes when I listen to a particularly excellent pianist I stop and say a silent “$^&%$ thank you” to my Beautiful Grandma. =)

Mel Torme and Me

Last time I chose a fairly recent clip of “The Christmas Song.” This time I thought I’d post some vintage Mel. Here’s “When Sunny Gets Blue” because it’s one of my mom’s favorite songs.

Child prodigy Mel Torme began performing at age 4. He began composing at age 13 and had written his first hit record at 16. I gave my first performance at 4 too. I sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and recieved rave reviews from both my grandma AND my mommy!

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