Saturday, June 29, 2019

From the archives (June 17, 2008): Let's hear it for Ira Gershwin!

Of all the song lyrics Ira Gershwin (George's brother) ever wrote (and he wrote many, including such great songs as “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “The Man I Love,” “Summertime,” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”), these are my all-time favorite:

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Moon
by Ira Gershwin (1931)

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, moon,
Blah, blah, blah, above;
Blah, blah, blah, blah, croon,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, love.
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, merry month of May;
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, ’neath the clouds of gray.

Blah, blah, blah, your hair,
Blah, blah, blah, your eyes,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, care,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, skies.
Tra la la la, tra la la la la, cottage for two,
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, darling, with you!”

And what better time to bring them to your attention than during the waning days of the romantic and equally rhymeable month of moon croon tune swoon June!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Time Marches On Department: Meryl Streep is 70

Just let that sink in. I will not comment further except to say that the first time I ever saw Ms. Streep on the silver screen was in The Deer Hunter. I looked it up just now and the year was 1978, so that would make her, let's see, divide by 4, carry the 8, all of 29 years old in that movie. I feel old. No, that is incorrect. I am old. And so, by the way, is Meryl Streep.

Moving right along, I ran across a page on Facebook called YumOola (who names these things?) that takes you, when you click on it, to a website called (I repeat, who names these things?) and a list called 50 Snacks The States Are Known For -- Have You Tried Yours?

No kidding, that was the title. Being the curious sort, I perused the list and here they (the 50 snacks) are, although some of them are not "snacks" in the typical sense of the word:

You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.

Here we go.

Alabama: Cheese Grits
Alaska: Salmon
Arizona: Mexican Food
Arkansas: Cheese Dip
California: Avocado Toast
Colorado: Rocky Mountain Oysters
Connecticut: Hot Lobster Rolls
Delaware: The Bobbie
Florida: Key Lime Pie
Georgia: Peach Cobbler
Hawaii: The Hawaiian Plate
Idaho: Potatoes
Illinois: Italian Beef Sandwiches
Indiana: Hoosier Pie
Iowa: Corn on the Cob
Kansas: Bread
Kentucky: Fried Chicken
Louisiana: Jambalaya
Maine: Lobster
Maryland: Crab
Massachusetts: Clam Chowder
Michigan: Cherries
Minnesota: Swedish Meatballs
Mississippi: Biscuits and Gravy
Missouri: Toasted Ravioli
Montana: Wheat Montana Cinnamon Rolls
Nebraska: Runzas
Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail
New Hampshire: Cider Donuts
New Jersey: Salt Water Taffy
New Mexico: Chili Peppers
New York: Cheesecake
North Carolina: BBQ Pork
North Dakota: Bison Burgers
Ohio: Buckeyes
Oklahoma: Country Fried Steak
Oregon: Marionberry Pie
Pennsylvania: Cheesesteaks
Rhode Island: Clam Cakes
South Carolina: Sweet Tea
South Dakota: Kuchen
Tennessee: Hot Chicken
Texas: Tex Mex
Utah: Jello
Vermont: Maple Syrup
Virginia: Apples
Washington: Oysters
West Virginia: Pepperoni Roll
Wisconsin: Cheese
Wyoming: Beef Jerky

I don't think the list is scientific. I think it's just supposed to be fun. But I have been wrong before.

A few observations: I have never been to North Dakota, but I have eaten bison burgers. I lived in Nebraska for three years but I have never heard of runzas. Why would Illinois have Italian Beef Sandwiches instead of Polish Sausages? Shouldn't Minnesota's snack be lutefisk, not Swedish meatballs? In a shout-out to my friend Snowbrush, I am very familiar with biscuits and gravy (Mississippi) but I have no idea what a marionberry (Oregon) is.

My two favorites (British, favourites) from the list are definitely Georgia's Peach Cobbler and Florida's Key Lime Pie. I am also an expert, if you ever need one, on Tex Mex.

Live and learn. And while you're living and learning, you need to know that key lime pie is nothing at all like lemon meringue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Excitement is in the eye of the beholder

While Yorkshire Pudding and his lovely wife Shirley are spending time traipsing around on the island of Santorini in Greece, we have news of a more local nature.

We have a new baby!

Here is our new baby just after it was delivered:

Here is our new baby with its first gift, a rooster rug:

Here is our new baby open with its innards displayed for all to see:

As I am a Christian man, I will not show you our new baby's bottom.

In other news, we converted our huntboard -- you may call it a sideboard or a buffet where you live -- into a beverage (coffee/tea) bar by adding a large piece of glass that had been in our garage for years. Waste not, want not. Mrs. RWP produced the embroidered cross-stitch piece that hangs on the wall above the beverage bar. It took her many hours (months) to complete. It was a little like having a baby.

We also had another baby a few months ago, but I don't think I ever showed you pictures.

Yorkshire Pudding shows you the four corners of the earth. I show you the four corners of our Toyota Rav4.

Finally, here are two of our older babies that we have had for over half a century. This photograph was taken a week ago at Ferst Center for the Arts on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where my sons had taken me to see the play I told you about in the previous post.

Plainly, old gifts are the best gifts.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Mindless meanderings, or everything is still normal

Dear Wormwood,

Yesterday my two sons loaded me into the car as an early Father's Day present and the three of us drove in to Atlanta and saw an 80-minute play based on C.S. Lewis's book, The Screwtape Letters. It was called, appropriately, The Screwtape Letters.

(Note to Self: In the first sentence above, the phrase "as a Father's Day present" probably would have been better if placed elsewhere. --RWP)

A group called the Fellowship for the Performing Arts (FPA) out of New York put on the play, which had only two characters, Screwtape and his charming (I'm being sarcastic) little demonic assistant, Toadpipe. The play was very good. FPA have been to Atlanta before, having produced Lewis's The Great Divorce here as well as Martin Luther On Trial. I saw and enjoyed them all.

The play was performed at the Ferst Center for the Arts on the campus of Georgia Tech. It's too bad the place isn't called the Ferst Center for the Performing Arts because then I could have written (FPA) a second time if I ignored the word "Center".

I notice little things like that.

Anyway, a good time was had by all and we stopped for lunch at Jason's Deli in Kennesaw on the way down. I had an enormous Reuben sandwich that was called "Lighter Portion" on the menu, and a fresh fruit cup to boot. I didn't actually boot it. I ate it.

The fruit. Not the cup. Strawberries, pineapple, apples, and grapes are much tastier and more satisfying than the cup in which they are delivered.

I'm guessing. I don't know that for a fact.

It's another happy day in the Rhymeswithplague household. We may have to go out and buy a new refrigerator this afternoon.

Wish us luck.

Your uncle (Bob or Screwtape, take your pick)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Once upon a time in America (rhymeswithplague chapter)

[Editor's note. A no-longer-active blogger, David Barlow a.k.a. Putz out in Utah, would be very complimentary regarding the family research that went into the creation of this post. Putz, if you are still around, I salute you even as you, I trust, are undoubtedly somewhere saluting me. I would say "It was nothing" but that would be untrue. A great deal of time and effort went into the creation of this post. --RWP]

Solomon Aarons, whose grave in Adath Jeshurun Cemetery in Philadelphia you see above, was my great-grandfather. He was born on August 11, 1847, in Spitalfields, Middlesex, England, the fourth child of five in the family of Noah Aarons (born about 1811) and his wife Mary (born about 1815). At the time of the 1851 British census Noah and Mary Aarons lived in Whitechapel, Middlesex, England with their children Nathaniel (born about 1836), Catherine and Rachel (possibly twins, born about 1846), Solomon (my great-grandfather), and Joseph (born in 1850).

I do not know when or how or why, but at some point before the U.S. Civil War, Solomon Aarons emigrated to the United Sttes as a child or young teenager (whether with or without his family I also do not know). As a young teenager he served as either a bugler or a drummer boy -- I'm not sure which -- in one of the Philadelphia (Irish) Brigades during the war even though he was Jewish, not Irish. He was 17 when the war ended. He married Rachael DeWolf after the war, had a large family, and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 12, 1902. He was my mother's mother's father and he died eight years before my mother was born. His widow, Rachael DeWolf Aarons, lived until 1932, two years after my mother received a teaching certificate from West Chester State Teachers College.

Solomon and Rachael Aarons had a large family, nine children in all. There were Noah (born 1867), DeWolf (born about 1870), Mary (born July 1872), Sophia (born August 1873), Nathaniel (born November 1875), Rosetta (born October 16, 1878), Joseph (born November 1881), Elizabeth (born January 1883), and Augustus (born April 1886).

Noah Aarons married Bella and they had a daughter, Rae Aarons, who was born in October 1890. I remember hearing my mother and her sister speak of their Uncle Noah, who lived to be a very old man.

DeWolf Aarons was given his mother's maiden name. I know nothing else about him.

Mary Aarons, known in the family as Aunt Mamie, married a Mr. Beck and had one son, Solomon (born about 1892). When my mother and I visited Pennsylvania in the summer of 1955, I met Sol Beck and his wife Myrtle in their sixties when they drove up to Philadelphia from Baltimore, Maryland, to visit family (my grandfather, 80 at the time, was Sol's Uncle Nat). Sol and Myrtle Beck had no children.

Sophia Aarons, known in the family as Aunt Sophie, married Julius Peiser in 1899 and they had two daughters, Esther (born about 1901) and Rae (born June 20, 1909). Esther Peiser never married, but Rae Peiser married Amos Scotese and they had a son named Robert (born about 1938). Rae was my mother's favorite first cousin as they were about the same age. I met her on that same trip. Rae died in May 1994.

Nathaniel Aarons was born in November 1875. I know nothing else about him.

Rosetta Aarons was born October 16, 1878. She married Nathan Silberman in 1897 and had four children - Marion (born January 29, 1899), Solomon (born 1903), Jacob (born January 13, 1907) who was known in the family as Jack, and Ruth Elizabeth (born April 10, 1910), who was my mother. Rosetta, my maternal grandmother, died December 8, 1937.

Joseph Aarons was born in November 1881. I know nothing else about him.

Elizabeth Aarons, known in the family as Aunt Bessie, was my mother's favorite aunt. Bessie was born in January 1883 and married Joseph Singer in 1905. Their honeymoon was a trip by ship to China, where they bought pieces of furniture for their home. I saw some of that furniture when I met Joe Singer, a widower and a Philadelphia lawyer, on that same trip to Pennsylvania in 1955.

Augustus Aarons, known in the family as Uncle Gus, was born in January 1883. I know nothing else about him either.

On that trip to Pennsylvania with my mother in 1955, I met all of my maternal cousins. We were five in all. Aunt Marion's son was Philip Caracena, six years older than me. Uncle Jack’s son was Jack, Jr., a year older than Philip. Uncle Sol's two daughters were Eileen and Joan. Joan was the oldest cousin and Eileen was the same age as Philip. I was the youngest of the group.

My cousin Philip married Virginia Burquest of Sarasota, Florida, and had three children — two boys and a girl — Chris, Kurt, and Elise. My cousin Jack married Sylvia Funghi of Hershey, Pennsylvania, and had three daughters - the twins, Lisa and Anne, and their younger sister, Linda. Both marriages ended in divorce. Philip was married at least two more times and died at 81 in Edmond, Oklahoma, a couple of years ago. Jack died a couple of decades ago in New Port Richey, Florida. My cousin Joan married Herman Rush and moved to California, where they still live, 88 and 89 respectively, in Ventura County. Their children were James and Mandie. My cousin Eileen married Bud Stone and moved, I think, to Connecticut. After 1955, I saw Philip one more time, in 1958, when he was engaged to Virginia, and I saw Jack one more time, when he came through Texas on a post-college-graduation trip around the U.S. with a friend, but I never saw Joan or Eileen ever again.

Chris Caracena lives in Atlanta. Kurt lives in Colorado Springs. Elise is divorced and lives with her son in Tampa, Florida. Lisa Silberman lives in Seattle. Anne lives in New Mexico. Linda travels a lot and most recently has spent time in New York, Spain, and England. Mandie Rush lives in California.

We are a far-flung family. I have no contact with any of my maternal relatives except for an occasional comment on Facebook from Kurt or Lisa, two of my first cousins once removed.

Good gravy, Marie (as panelist Brett Somers on the old television show Match Game used to say), I didn't tell you anything at all about my mother's father's line (Silberman) or my bio-dad's (Minor) or my non-bio dad's (Brague).

Pick one:
A. Shame on me.
B. Thank God for small favors (British, favours).

I will be laboring (<i>British,</i> labouring) under a handicap for the next couple of weeks (<i>British,</i> fortnight)

More about that below. First, though, I want to add an addendum (what else would you do with an addendum?) to my previous post about phone...