Z is for… #atozchallenge

Z

Zeibekiko: “To Zeibekiko Tis Evodokias,” with Manolis Karandinis playing the bouzouki and some unidentified dancer putting on the show. That’s not paper on the floor, it’s pieces of broken plates. Back when I did the letter G I mentioned that zeibekiko was a free-form dance done by men, although there were a number of videos I found that were saying that women (and quite attractive women at that) were doing it. Turns out, they’re doing the feminine version of the dance, the tsifteteli, which is more like a belly dance. Maybe the ladies in the videos were doing the zeibekiko after all. Whatever…

Zither: Anton Karas playing the theme from “The Third Man.” Along with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, the music is a star of the movie.

Zydeco: Wikipedia tells me that zydeco music is a combination of blues, rhythm & blues, and music indigenous to the Louisina Creoles. I had to look it up, because I didn’t know the formal definition of it. I did know it by the sound, and that’s what’s important. Chief instruments in zydeco are the accordion (button or piano) and the rub-board, a wearable washboard you play with two old-fashioned bottle openers. Don’t know what this song is, but watch this couple cut a rug…

Zappa: As in Frank Zappa, the late musician and philosopher, who once said that most people wouldn’t know good music if it bit them in the ass. Read kind of a sad story today that the family is feuding over the estate now that Frank’s wife Gail has died, preventing son Dweezil from calling his current tour “Zappa Plays Zappa.” All I can figure is, if Frank knew they were fighting over the estate, he wouldn’t have left one. “Peaches en Regalia,” from Frank’s 1969 Hot Rats album, has become something of a jazz standard in the forty-plus years since it was released.

ZZ Top: This Houston-based power trio has been around since 1969, fer cryin’ out loud. Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums, ironically the only member who doesn’t have a beard) do some of the best straight-ahead blues-rock at high volume I’ve heard. This is a live version of “La Grange,” their first hit and the first song by them I heard many years ago.

A2Z-BADGE [2016]

And that, my friends, caps off the A to Z Challenge for both my themes (portmanteaus finished six hours ago) for 2016. Thanks to all of you who visited me for the first time during the Challenge, those who subscribed to the blog, and those who left comments. Thanks also to my minions and to the other co-hosts of the A to Z Challenge for making this a fun time for all, myself included. It’s now 1:30 Eastern Daylight Time where I am, leaving me a good day and a half to answer your comments and reciprocate your visits before I have to put on my writin’ hat again.

Keep an eye on this space May 9 for the announcement about the A to Z Reflections posts, where you get to tell the world how wonderful the A to Z Challenge is and to tell us what we’ve screwed up we can do to make the 2017 A to Z Challenge better and more enjoyable. There’ll also be a questionnaire with more questions than the SAT where you can provide us with feedback on what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what changes you’d make to the Challenge for next year.

That’s all from me. Straight ahead!

#atozchallenge: Zillionaire

zillionaire =
zillion + millionaire

 

Remember when having a million dollars was a big thing?

Now, a million dollars is nothing. $1,000,000 today was worth $136,644.86 fifty years ago. You’d need $7,318,240.74 in 2016 dollars to equal what you had if you had $1,000,000 in 1966. (Numbers courtesy the US Inflation Calculator.)

(Yes, I know, not everyone lives in the United States. This is just an example.)

We used to look at millionaires as beig ultra-wealthy. Those who had more than a million were multimillionaires. Now, we’re talking about billionaires. I mean, Bill Gates has $75 billion dollars. He’s the richest man in the world. One day we’re going to be talking about trillionaires, and quadrillionaires….

But that’s not important for our purposes. When someone is very, very wealthy, and you don’t know how much money they have, you make up a number. Like a zillion. It’s not an actual number that you can express in 10x format, but everyone understands it’s a lot. In other words, a zillionaire is someone with a zillion dollars.

What did you call your big numbers when you were younger?

Z

And that’s it! My last entry in this year’s Blogging from A to Z April Challenge! Thanks for reading and commenting. What did you think of this theme?

Ten Songs By The Beatles With “You” In The Title #atozchallenge

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I’ve been reading a couple of books about The Beatles, namely The Beatles: Every Little Thing by Maxwell Mackenzie and Meet The Beatles by Steven D. Stark, and it put me in a Beatles mood. Plus I realized I haven’t focused on them yet during this challenge. This started out, as all of these have, as five songs, then I thought I might put all of them in here and realized there were almost 50, so I settled on ten. I’ve probably left your favorite out; let me know what it is in the comments.

For You Blue: From Let It Be, this is a peek into one of the sessions with George, Ringo, Paul, and Johnandyoko.

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away: From Help!, written and sung by John.

Do You Want To Know A Secret?: From Please Please Me (UK) or Introducing… The Beatles! (US). Written by John, sung by George, back in the days they didn’t let George write songs or sing much.

She Loves You: Originally released in the UK as a single, it was added to The Beatles’ Second Album by Capitol in the US.

You’re Gonna Lose That Girl: Also from Help!, also written and sung by John.

From Me To You: Released as a single in both the UK (Parlophone) and US (Vee Jay), it wasn’t included on an album until the compilations 1962-1966 (US) and A Collection of Beatles Oldies (UK) were compiled.

I’m Happy Just To Dance With You: Was in the movie A Hard Day’s Night (from whence this comes). The UK soundtrack album, which included songs not in the film, was issued by Parlophone. In the US, the soundtrack album was issued by United Artists Records, because UA had done the film, but the songs that were not part of the film were removed and replaced by versions of the songs done by the Hollyridge Strings. Capitol issued the album Something New for the US, which included the songs from the film and some odds and ends, because they had already released the songs from the film on the album Beatles ’65. Confused yet? George did the vocal, but the song was written by John and Paul.

Till There Was You: A cover, sung by Paul, of the song from the musical The Music Man. Includes an outstanding guitar solo by George. It was on With The Beatles in the UK, and on Meet The Beatles in the US.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Wasn’t released on an album in the UK, but was included on Meet The Beatles in the US, because that’s just the way Capitol rolled. This was The Beatles’ first #1 song in the US.

P. S. I Love You: Was on Please Please Me in the UK, but was removed from Introducing… The Beatles! by Vee Jay, simply because American albums had twelve songs, not fourteen. That’s the explanation I got. Vee Jay did release it as a single on their Tollie label as the flip side to “Love Me Do,” which had also been dropped by Vee Jay.

#atozchallenge: Yinglish

Yinglish =
Yiddish + English

 

Remember these commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?

The same thing happens when languages collide: there’s some transfer of words, phrases, and expressions between the two languages. In the case of Yinglish, this would be Yiddish speakers with the English language and vice versa. Lots of words and expressions have crossed over from Yiddish into English, such as bagel, shlemiel, oy gevalt, mazel tov, and yenta. Expressions like, “what am I, a doctor?”, “on you, it looks good,” and “all right, already!” maintain the Yiddish word order, but use the English words. And some words have crossed over from English and become part of the Yiddish language. Leo Rosten, who wrote the book The Joys of Yinglish, calls those words Ameridish, a portmanteau of American and Yiddish.

You see other portmanteaus to describe the combinations of other languages with English…

Spanglish: Spanish and English
Franglish: French and English
Hinglish: Hindi and English
Denglish: German (Deutsch) and English
Dunglish: Dutch and English
Chinglish: Chinese and English
etc.

 

English is a mutt of a language anyway, based in Anglo-Saxon and borrowing words from Latin, Greek, Arabic, Gaelic, and practically all the other languages on earth. This should come as no surprise. There are those who believe that languages should be pure and exhibit very little influence of other languages. I’m not sure that’s possible, or desirable. What do you think?

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Five Xylophone (more or less) Songs #atozchallenge

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I have to thank Janet Miles, who blogs over at Janet’s Smiles (and yes, you should go to her blog and read it, it’s great), who today came up with a portmanteau that ties into that theme, and also gave me a fantastic idea for my afternoon theme:

xylorimba =
xylophone + marimba

 


A xylorimba, from Emil Richards collection (source:Wikipedia/Xylosmygame, Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

The xylophone, Wikipedia tells us, is a percussion instrument which has tuned wooden bars that are struck with mallets. The xylophone proper has a higher pitch range than the marimba and is the instrument used in orchestras. A third instrument, the vibraphone, has metal bars and resonator tubes with butterfly valves on them that give it a wobbly sound, and a sustain pedal like a piano. The xylorimba is a combination of the marimba and xylophone and has a range that covers both instruments.

I’m going through all this because xylophones, marimbas, xylorimbas, and vibraphones, as well as glockenspiels and bell lyres, are essentially the same, and get called xylophones even if they aren’t. Also, it makes this work, because the videos I’ll feature are of either marimba or vibraphone players. So, let’s get to the music, darn it…

Giant Steps – Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFranco: I first saw Terry Gibbs when he was the bandleader for Steve Allen’s syndicated late-night talk show. One night, I saw he and Steve playing a song together on the vibes; it was pretty fantastic stuff. In the early Eighties Terry and clarinetist Buddy DeFranco began working together, as in this video. They’re joined by John Campbell on piano, Todd Coolman on bass, and Gerry Gibbs on drums.

Bags’ Groove – The New Gary Burton Quartet: I saw the original Gary Burton Quartet, featuring Pat Metheny on guitar, at Amazingrace in Evanston, Illinois roughly forty years ago. This performance at the Sava Center in Belgrade, Serbia, features the new quartet, which at the time consisted of Burton, Julian Lage on guitar, Jorge Roeder on bass, and Antonio Sanchez on drums.

Taco Belle – Baja Marimba Band: This band was discovered in the Sixties by Herb Alpert, who had his own south-of-the-border thing going, and as with the Tijuana Brass, none of the members were from Mexico. You have to admit, they had a pretty good time. The band was fronted by marimbist (it’s a word now) Julius Wechter and their music was almost as good as their clowning around.

True Blues – Modern Jazz Quartet: Milt Jackson is one of the better-known vibraphonists and has been fronting the MJQ for years. This performance is from London, though I don’t know what year. Joining him are John Lewis on piano, Percy Heath on bass, and Connie Kay on drums.

Moonlight Feels Right – Starbuck: Yeah, I know, I yank this out anytime I can make an excuse to. So? Bruce Blackman (keyboard and vocal) and Bo Wagner (marimba) fronted this band, which had the one hit in 1976. Would it have been a hit without the marimba? I doubt it. This was taped at Chastain Park here in Atlanta, which is Blackman’s home base (also mine) and where he still pops up from time to time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this escapade. Are you familiar with any other xylophone etc. players?

#atozchallenge: Ten (X) More Portmanteaux

x-asperation =
x + exasperation

 
The letter X, let’s face it, is, pardon my French, an enormous pain in the ass. Very few words in English start with it, and when they do, it’s pronounced like Z, as in xanthan gum and xylophone. Why not just spell them zanthan gum and zylophone and be done with it? Speaking of xylophones, here are Reg Kehoe and his Marimba Queens.

I love that video, especially the bass player, Frank DeNunzio, Sr. He really gets into it, doesn’t he?

Anyway, X is also the Roman numeral for ten, so here are ten more portmanteaux, or portmanteaus, if you prefer.

  1. mimsy (miserable + flimsy): The man who gave the name to portmanteau words was C. L. Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, in his book Through The Looking Glass. Humpty Dumpty is the one who introduces the concept to Alice from high atop his wall.
  2. CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation): Like FedEx, CONELRAD is a syllabic abbreviation, which are portmanteau words after a fashion. CONELRAD was a technique designed by the Office of Civil Defense back in the 1950’s to deal with the possibility of an attack by a hostile nation (at the time, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, now the Russian Federation and presumably no longer hostile). Theoretically, it prevented an enemy bomber from dropping an atomic bomb on a city by taking away a bomber’s ability to use radio and television signals to zero in on a city, much as we Americans did to Germany in World War II. Wikipedia (the blogger’s best friend) has a very good article on the subject.
  3. Cockapoo (cocker spaniel + poodle): Portmanteaux are used frequently to name cross-breeds of dogs, such as the cockapoo, the maltipoo (Maltese + poodle), and the like. While not recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club and other certification organizations, the cockapoo is a popular dog, small and long-lived.
  4. Kimye (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West): Supercouples are popular, wealthy, or powerful couples that get a lot of attention from the public, mostly because they get a lot of attention from the tabloid press. Portmanteaus of their names are common: Bennifer (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez), TomKat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), and Billary (Bill and Hillary Clinton) are examples. Occasionally, pairings of characters on television shows get the same treatment, such as Tiva (Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherley) and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) from NCIS) and HarMac (Harmon Rabb (David James Elliott) and Sarah “Mac” McKenzie (Catherine Bell) from JAG).
  5. Sharknado (shark + tornado): This was a 2013 movie starring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. Here’s the premise: “When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace.” I’ve never seen it (I think it aired on cable network Syfy in the US), but there was a lot of talk about it, most of it derisive…
  6. broccoflower (broccoli + cauliflower): What do you do with two cruciferous vegetables that kids won’t eat? Cross-breed them and make a third vegetable kids won’t eat, of course! (The difference between broccoli and boogers is that kids won’t eat broccoli…)
  7. surfactant (surface active agent): A word that I didn’t know was a portmanteau. If you read the content list of laundry detergent, most of them have (maybe it’s changed and this is no longer the case, I don’t know) one called “anionic surfactants.” They loosen the dirt and bring it to the surface, where agitation and other chemical compounds can remove it.
  8. Snowmageddon (snow + armageddon): Here’s one you’ve seen here. Snowmageddon generally refers to a major snowstorm that dumps lots of snow on an area and ties up traffic so badly that you’re better off staying in and waiting until the snow is removed, or, better, until it melts. That’s generally what we do here in Atlanta, which has everyone in stitches any time it happens, because a bad snowstorm in Atlanta typically leaves one to two inches. We’ve had far worse snow events here, though, believe me.
  9. simulcast (simultaneous broadcast): This is broadcasting an event over more than one medium simultaneously. In the 1970’s, before high-fidelity, stereo sound was possible via television, a local TV station broadcasting a concert would work with an FM radio station in the same market to broadcast the audio simultaneous with the video. The viewer could then watch the TV with the sound off and listen to the radio, and the picture (usually) matched with the sound. This could also refer to two radio stations airing the same programming, or someone publishing the same blog material on WordPress and Blogger…
  10. Texarkana (Texas + Arkansas + Louisiana): I talked back on March 25 about geographic names that are portmanteaus of the geographic areas that comprise them. Texarkana, Texas and Texarkana, Arkansas are twin cities that sit either side of the Texas-Arkansas border, and both are cities in an area called Arklatexoma, where Arkansas, Louisiana (postal abbreviation LA), Texas, and Oklahoma come together. Another example of this are the Benelux countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

This was a little longer than most entries, but I wanted to show how portmanteaus are used all through the English language. There are portmanteaus in other languages as well. I’ve referred to this list on Wikipedia for most of the portmanteaus I’ve used here, and there are many other lists on the World Wide Web. They’re a lot of fun, and I hope you’ll take some time to look into them in more detail.

X

The Top 5 from WLS Radio Chicago, April 27, 1974 #atozchallenge

W

WLSMusicradiologocolor
WLS logo during the 1970’s. Source: WLS History Site

Just so you know, by the time you get this, I’ll be getting poked and prodded by my doctor. My first annual Medicare checkup…

1974 was a big year in my life, and WLS was my favorite radio station, so this was just meant to be. Here are the Top Five from their survey on this date 42 years ago.

#5: Hooked On A Feeling – Blue Swede: The band from Stockholm had borrowed Jonathan King’s arrangement of this classic B. J. Thomas song and rode it all the way as high as #1 in Chicago, where it moved back and forth with Elton John’s “Benny And The Jets.” It was down from #2 the week before, and was out of the Top Five the following week.

#4: The Loco-motion – Grand Funk: By this time, they had dropped the “Railroad” from their name and had added Craig Frost on keyboards, making them a quartet. Up from #7 the week before, this would capture the top spot the following week.

#3: Come And Get Your Love – Redbone: The Native American band took this song to #2 the following week, and it stayed in the Top Five until Memorial Day weekend. It was their only song to be an international hit.

#2: The Lord’s Prayer – Sister Janet Mead: My mother was a teacher, and remembers the day the kids in her class were dancing to this, apparently oblivious to the fact that it was the Lord’s Prayer. Sister Janet, an Australian Sister of Mercy, is the second nun to chart, the first being Soeur Sourire, “The Singing Nun,” who had an international hit with “Dominique” in the early Sixties. This was as high as it got, being knocked out of the Top Five the next week by Marvin Hamlisch’s “The Entertainer” and a new entry, Ray Stevens’ “The Streak.”

#1: Benny And The Jets – Elton John: This spent three weeks at #1, but by the following week it fell to #5 and was out of the Top Five the week after that, when the #1 song in Chicago was Ray Stevens’ “The Streak.”

So that’s what we were listening to 42 years ago.

#atozchallenge: Webinar

webinar =
World Wide Web + seminar

 

By now, anyone who works for, or used to work for, a high-tech or an international company has taken part in a webinar. They’re great, because no one has to travel. Instead of getting on a plane and flying to the meeting location, you sign in to a website like Webex or GoToMeeting at a specific time and enter a key they give you, and at the appointed time, or whenever you reach a quorum, the seminar begins. The leader can speak and share things from their computer screen, from PowerPoint, and everyone signed in to the webinar can listen watch. If someone has a question, they can click a button on their screen which pops up a place for them to type their question, and when the leader sees someone has a question they can read it and answer it. The same technology can be used to conduct other types of meetings, and often is, again if people are geographically dispersed. You can then archive the meeting, so people who can’t be there at the time can access it when it’s convenient and hear and see what went on.

Some personal experiences:

  • The last company I worked for used webinars and web meetings a lot, because we had offices around the world and people onsite with clients all the time.
  • After that company and I parted ways, I worked for my brother, who’s in Kansas City, and I never had to actually be there: he could call me, or we could use Skype to talk to one another.
  • I’m a member of a writer’s group in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We meet using Google Hangouts.

The hardest thing about webinars and web meetings is coördinating people’s times. With people all over the world, a time that might be good for Asia might not be good for North America, and having to remember how many hours ahead or behind everyone is can be a pain. We ran into this with the Twitter chats we had for the Challenge, especially when the US went on Daylight Saving Time. A good website to use is TimeAndDate.com, which uses world time and computes local time based on the time zone and whether or not they’re on summer time.

Have you participated in any webinars or web meetings?

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Two for Tuesday (plus 3): Vangelis

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ProgRock

Vangelis first came to my attention (and probably most of our attention) with his Academy Award-winning score for the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire. I wouldn’t necessarily classify his music as “progressive rock,” although he’s considered one of the pioneers of electronic music and worked with Jon Anderson of Yes in the early 1980’s. A more apt description would be New Age, but then, New Age grew out of electronic music. He’s been around for over fifty years and has issued as many albums, both studio LP’s and scores from films. A few of his full albums have been posted to YouTube, and they’re quite relaxing.

Anyway, on to the tunes…

Chariots of Fire: from the soundtrack for Chariots of Fire.

Hymne: From the soundtrack for the 1979 documentary Opéra Sauvage by filmmaker Frédéric Rossif.

Alpha: from his 1976 album Albedo 0.39.

Theme from Antarctica: from the 1983 film Nankyoku Monogatari (“South Pole Story”) by filmmaker Koreyoshi Kurahara.

Conquest of Paradise: from the 1992 Ridley Scott film 1492: Conquest of Paradise.

Vangelis, your Two (plus three) for Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

#atozchallenge: Velcro

Velcro =
velours + crochet

 

I did the original V entry last month, but forgot to tell WordPress that I wanted to post it today instead of right away, and it got out on me. I decided to come up with another word for V, and it’s a good one.

Swiss engineer George de Mestral took his dog for a walk in the woods one day in 1941, and ended up having to pick burrs off his pant legs and his dog. That gave him an idea for a fastener that would work the same way. In 1948, he made two strips, one with hundreds of tiny hooks and the other with hundreds of tiny loops, so that when pressed together they would stick to each other.

He named his invention Velcro, from the words velours crochet, or “velvet hook” in English, and it was patented in 1961. The Velcro Corporation, based in Curaçao, owns the name and the patent. They state that Velcro is a company, not a product, to keep the word from being used as a generic term for “hook and loop fastener.”

Velcro makes my life easier. Because my right hand was affected by the stroke, I can’t use both hands to tie my shoes, so my shoes have straps with Velcro strips. All I need to do is press them together, and I’m good to go. I also have a pocket on my laptop bag that’s held shut with Velcro.

What part does Velcro play in your life?

V