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A high definition recording of speech showing vocal fry at the end.

A high definition recording of speech showing vocal fry at the end.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger.net

Did you ever notice the bizarre manner of speech adopted by young women and girls lately?   It actually is a speech pattern that has evolved from what used to be called “valley girl speech” in the 1980’s. That pattern mostly consisted of “uptalk” where the voice rises at the end of a sentence, making a statement into a sort of question.

In 2013, this phenomenon has evolved to consist of several components, but the most annoying is “vocal fry” where the pitch drops and growls, mostly at the end of sentences.  The other variations include the use of “like” punctuating every few words, but guys do that too.  Here is a video that discusses vocal fry on the Today show.

www.today.com/video/new-speech-pattern-of-young-women-vocal-fry-44540995528

Some say that only “old guys” find this sort of speech to be ridiculous, but there are women who dislike it as well. I began to notice it a couple of years ago and, for some reason, found it obnoxious and irritating. At first it seemed like a way of talking used only by dopey teenage girls, but recently I have noticed it being paraded on TV and radio by otherwise intelligent and accomplished women.

At first I thought, “She needs to see a speech coach, because it is so distracting.”  And then I would wonder, “Is she going to talk like this for the rest of her life?”    “Did she actually go on a job interview speaking like that?”

But then I thought, “I’m just too sensitive as to how people speak—-get over it.”

However it turns out that many people have noticed this trend in female vocalizing, and some experts have written about it and some have found some redeeming value to this style of speech.

Most observers have a negative view , while some talk about how anyone’s speech can be changed, for example by moving to the south and then saying, “Y’all.”  So girls hear their friends talking this way, or hear Brittney Spears sing this way or hear women on TV such as the Kardashians  (whoever they are.)  

By the way, starting sentences with the word “so” is also getting to be a common speech technique to give the impression that the speaker is merely continuing a conversation that has already begun or introducing a new topic.  So I do it myself and find it to be a useful communication method, but now I have to stop it because it is becoming omnipresent and sloppily used.

A related manner of speech is to start a sentence with “and.”   Below is a  song by Barry Manilow (“When October Goes”)   It starts with “…and when October goes..”   The lyrics are by Johnny Mercer, one of the best lyricists ever.   And, you know, starting that song with “and” really does work—I like it that way.  OK OK, saying “you know” is also obnoxious…ya know what I’m saying?  And so is “like” as in “this article is like getting boring already.”

So I guess it’s good that language changes, otherwise we all would be speaking like Willie Shakespeare.  (What? You don’t think they had nicknames in the 16th century?   Getouttahere.!)

Here are some related links:

2011 Journal of Voice:

www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0892199711000701

2012 NY Times article on female speech

Vocal fry in the NY Times 2012

2015  NPR  on female speech patterns:

www.npr.org/2015/07/23/425608745/from-upspeak-to-vocal-fry-are-we-policing-young-womens-voices

MUSICAL ADD-ONS:

So, here is a Johnny Mercer song which begins with the word “And”

“When October Goes”  by Barry Manilow (music) and Johnny Mercer  (lyrics)

And here is Harry Nilsson who knows something about people talking at him. So you may recall that this music is from Midnight Cowboy, which is on the Blogfinger Unforgettable Movie list.

2017 update:   Yesterday, October 9,  the  Wall Street Journal ran a piece on this subject, but this time a female linguist had a somewhat different take.  She finds that women who talk like this are victimized at work because of their speech pattern. She says that men also speak that way, so the idea that such speech is specific to women is a form of oppression.

I think this “linguist” has an agenda that is political and is not really about the speech patterns that we reported on in 2013.  She says that the pattern was only first observed in 2015, but our article shows otherwise.  In addition she only mentions vocal fry and not the other components mentioned in our article above.

Her interview is fake news because women are in fact the ones that use such speech predominantly. Men may sometimes have a sort of vocal fry, but it is indiginous to their maleness and not a form of speech meme acquired by women almost exclusively.

And, by the way, Blogfinger struck a nerve in 2013 with our post (above). It has become the most viewed article of ours compared to our roughly 7,000 posts in our archive. It shows that few experts are reporting on this and also that lots of people are interested and find us through Google searches and links sent from BF.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.  Here is the link to the WSJ:

WSJ on vocal fry October, 2017

LITTLE WILLIE JOHN with “Talk to Me.”

“Talk to me, talk to me
Um-mm, I love the things you say
Talk to me, talk to me
In your own sweet gentle way”

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The Aurora in Ocean Grove

The Aurora in Ocean Grove. 6 Atlantic Avenue.  Internet photo.

 

Aerial view of the Aurora. Source: Zillow

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger   (updated post from 2013)

The Aurora on Atlantic Avenue in Ocean Grove, NJ has  30 bedrooms, and 5 bathrooms.  It is listed as a single family home. It sits on 4 lots with ocean views from 3 levels (and the top.)  The house is 6,615 sq. ft. and it is still for sale—since 2013.

Built in 1884 , the Aurora  has a garage and room to park several cars  (or maybe two Bentleys)  In 2012,  the owner paid $31.263.00 in taxes. More recently the taxes are $29,402.  Below is the current listing on Zillow.

www.zillow.com/homedetails/6-Atlantic-Ave-Ocean-Grove-NJ-07756/92369867_zpid/

This former hotel is considered a major Victorian historic treasure even when compared to the rest of the country  (per historian Ted Bell.)  It became even more renowned when the current owner converted it to a single family house.  It cannot be changed  back into a hotel.  If you buy it, you will need a few more bathrooms.  The word on the street is that it needs a lot of work inside.

The Aurora Hotel when it was a hotel. They say that Broadway celebrities liked to stay there. (Source–Zillow)

The Aurora is perfect for the man who has everything, including more than one wife; or a playboy with lots of playmates.   And, in case you are wondering if there is enough room, the Aurora also has a finished basement.

So, even though the price has been reduced substantially and seems to be a relative bargain, the issue is what can a buyer do with it?   The current owner purchased the grand old hotel because he wanted room for his large family, but 30 bedrooms?  That would be one bathroom for 6 bedrooms, which has the potential for some family warfare.

Blogfinger will offer a prize for the most inventive use which might seduce a buyer into purchasing the Aurora.  But you have to consider zoning.

Other uses, besides a hotel, are also technically prohibited because of zoning, including a drug rehabilitation facility, a casino,  a brothel, a frat house, a dormitory for Yeshiva students, a rooming house for Camp Meeting religious tourists, a multi-family condominium, a school, or a rooming house.  You cannot rent rooms in Ocean Grove—so Airbnb is out.  And there is no parking for more than 4 cars.

Of course, creative zoning without on-site parking is part of the Ocean Grove/Neptuner culture.  How about Mary’s Place where two single family houses were supposed to go?  It is now a  spa/respite shelter for female cancer victims.  It is officially a single family house with 10 bedrooms.

The Mary’s Place  precedent might work for the Aurora. Turn that into a shelter for some victim group.  The Neptune Zoning Department has proven itself to be very creative under Bernie Haney. They were the ones who found a solution for Mary’s Place, not the Planning Board.  There’s a lot of money going into drug rehab these days.  Del Ray Beach in Florida is such a place.

And how about the Grand Atlantic Hotel which was turned into a home for nuns?  What kind of zoning legerdemain made that happen?    And what kind of zoning allowed Grove Hall to become a conference center/65 room hotel for  visitors to use while attending religious based conferences?

Or consider the North End Redevelopment Plan which was supposed to consist of 25 single family Victorian style houses, but now the plans, after major zoning changes,  consist of 165 residential units including condominiums, an underground garage,  and a hotel.

And then there was the Surf Avenue House conversion into condominiums without parking.  That hotel was officially listed as a single family house before the owner got the designation changed to “hotel” so it could  go condo.    And how about the the Manchester Hotel which was to go condo until it burned down.

That’s the problem with precedents.   The double standards and favoritism in town create precedents.  What’s to stop the Aurora buyers from tapping into the same sort of special treatment?

JERRY ORBACH:

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Founders’ Park. October 14, 2011.    Paul Goldfinger photo   © Reposting because of the good news that a serious fundraising effort is now underway to bring back the landmark fountain.  Ted Bell says that they now have $40,000. When they reach $60,000, he can send the relic to Alabama for restoration.

 

2017 display at the site of the 4-tiered metal fountain. Courtesy of Ted Bell, HSOG. Click to enlarge.  Ted Bell is standing next to Stokes in the photo.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

2011 original post:….     “The only ones that use the park are the dog walkers and those cutting through to get to Asbury. No benches to sit on, no lighting, a bit of wasted space, no one uses the park!”

This remark, referring to Founders’ Park, is from a commenter on Blogfinger. His grim assessment, coupled with the current bleak nocturnal image of the Park, might make a stranger wonder why they don’t just pave the place, light it up like Coney Island, and then use it for parking. Well, perhaps a little more information is in order:

Founders’ Park is not only the largest open grassy space in Ocean Grove, but it is unique in other ways. I have always enjoyed walking or biking through and around the Park. It is a lovely place to visit in daylight and it seems to have its own personality.

The setting — with Wesley Lake to the north, a marvelous but decrepit antique fountain in the center, big old trees, and historic houses around the perimeter — creates a very special location that is a delight to visit.

On the south side are a row of identical white historic cottages that are owned and maintained by the CMA; if you haven’t see them, take a walk there. At the northeast corner, facing the lake, is a home restoration that will become famous, including a red roof and a yellow body; don’t miss it.

There are multiple foot paths through the Park which remind me of a large grassy square in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.  The Ocean Grove Beautification Project adds its special touch with flowers around the fountain.

The Historical Society is looking into a restoration of the fountain. Wouldn’t that be great? In summer you can watch the swan boats go in circles. And over at the north edge is an 1880 canon from the Civil War. It is aimed at Asbury Park — perhaps a symbol of an ambivalent relationship with our “sister city.”

Founders’ Park is a walkers’ park — no benches there, but that is part of the allure. It is quiet and uncrowded. People seem to take their time as they traverse the space. A lone figure walking across the Park seems like a metronome. The trees and the breezes are also in motion; the Park has a rhythm of its own.

One time I met a couple from out of town who spread a blanket and had their lunch. They were the only ones there. I spoke to  them for a Blogfinger quote; they said they “loved” to visit the Grove, and their routine was to picnic in the Park.

And let’s not forget that this place is a historic landmark. In July of 1869, a group of 22 Methodists set up tents in a clearing that would become Founders’ Park. Historian Richard Gibbons said that the site was chosen because most of what would become Ocean Grove was “wilderness, desert, desolation.”

They held a service there on July 31, 1869, in the tent of Mrs. Thornley. It was the beginning of a special town, and any assessment of Founders’ Park must include this memory.

So now we have the Jekyll and Hyde image of Founders’ Park — one ominous face by night and one happy face by day. It is a dilemma. Maybe the way to go is to light the park better, have more patrols, and be careful over there at night — take someone you like with you, preferably a big guy.

Perhaps the HSOG will establish a fund to restore the fountain. I pledge $100.00 as the first offering.

PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND  with TOM WAITS:    “Corinne Died on the Battlefield.”  They used to have Civil War reenactments at Founders Park:

Editor’s Note 2017:  Ted Bell, OG historian and author, is leading the drive to raise the necessary funds for the fountain restoration. They need to raise $106,500 to restore the fountain which is listed in 2017 by “Preservation New Jersey” as one of the state’s 10 most endangered historic places.

Bring your donation to there Historical Society of Ocean GRove,NJ, PO Box 446—-50 Pitman Avenue.  info@oceangrovehistory.org

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two

Eileen at the Café Volan in A. Park where someone else was making her coffee for a change. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©. 2016.

 

By Paul Goldfinger. Editor @Blogfinger.net   Reposted from 2011

We recently got a new coffee bean grinder.  We get our beans from a roaster in Hackettstown called Greene Brothers.  They have the best Kenya AA.  In our house, although Eileen is the chief cook and I am the chief bottle washer, she does defer to me for coffee making.

I insist on carefully following every single special step (filtered water, fresh roasted beans, commercial style drip machine by Bunn, burr grinder by Capresso, etc).  It’s just a peculiarity of mine.  I am truly a coffee fusspot.  It’s too bad coffee isn’t grown around here be cause I would go to meet the farmer.

The new coffee grinder has a transparent top where the beans go, so it looks like there is no top at all.  I went to pour the beans into the grinder, but they just bounced off the top and spilled all over Eileen’s kitchen.  They rolled around with a clatter like some kind of rogue pinball machine run amok.  She, who is so meticulous about her kitchen and everything else, looked on in horror.  She knows that I am fundamentally sloppy, but she cannot get over it.  Eileen (NMI)  is so detail oriented that my nickname for her is “Minutiae”  (Actually I would love to make this her middle name since she doesn’t have one.)

The challenge was to pick up the beans one  at a time without crunching them underfoot.  When I tossed them into the grinder she was incredulous. “What’s the big deal,”  I said. “The coffee will get very hot,  and nothing can live in that coffee. Besides, you can eat off your floor.” Well, to be precise, we never eat off the floor.

She has a way of rolling her eyes in total disgust.  At times like this she is likely to say, “How can you be so inept when you can put a pacemaker wire into someone’s heart?”

I have no answer for her. I tell her that we will need some more Greene beans soon. She says,  “I have enough. I’m serving them for dinner.”

“No, no I protested;  I don’t mean the green beans;  I mean the Greene beans!”

“ And also,”  I whined , “I’m sorry I spilled the beans.”

Eileen just looked at me and said, “I wish you wouldn’t spend so much time in my kitchen.”

 

PATTY AND THE EMBLEMS:

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Morning, Main Avenue, Ocean Grove, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger

Editor’s note: 8//18/17.     Recently we have seen a fragrance shop and a Christmas shop open on Main Avenue.  We have been discussing the future of the Grove and we have questioned the idea that this should be a tourist town.

This article (below) from 5 years ago addresses that topic and will offer some perspective when we consider the businesses in the Grove today and when we realize that the residents of the town get short shrift if their  lifestyles are even considered.

By Paul Goldfinger, editor  @Blogfinger

In 2002, Mr. Ted David self-published a book called “The Other Side of  Ocean Grove.”  Mr. David was fascinated by the quirky nature of the town, so his chapters had titles like “The Wisdom Bench,” “Krisanna’s,” “Blasted Mosquitoes” and “The Gates.” Chapter 11, however, was called “Main Avenue.” About that subject, Mr. David said, “The Great Auditorium is the heart and soul of the Grove, but Main Avenue is its skeleton and nerves.”

Recently we learned that a toy store would open in town, and an interesting discussion developed as to the nature of Main Avenue and what kinds of businesses should be here. There is, however, no set policy on this subject, so perhaps we can learn something from history.

A long-time Grover told me that early in the town’s history there were businesses up and down Main and on the side streets. Judging from a published list from 1938, it would appear that she is correct. Ted David points out that the founders wanted businesses in town to serve only the community who lived here. They had little interest in tourism other than the summer church programs.

In 1938.* on Main Avenue, we had the following businesses:  1 restaurant, 2 pharmacies, 1 electrician, 3 plumbing and heating, 1 fish and vegetable, 1 bead shop, 1 jeweler/watch repair, 5 real estate/insurance, 2 newsstands, 1 taxi stand, 1 book/needle shop, 2 gift shops and 13 hotels. Down multiple other  streets were: 1 ice cream, 1 antique, 3 carpenters, 1 auto repair, 1 dry cleaning, 1 fish market, 1 greenhouse, 1 groceries and meats, 1 milk/dairy, 1 movie house, 1 butcher, 1 painting and decorating, and 4 restaurants.

Mr David points out that until around 1990, the downtown was still devoted mostly to businesses that served the townspeople. But since then, as Ocean Grove rebounded from a downhill slide in the ’70’s and ’80’s, the idea developed that Main Avenue should change to attract tourists, and that is where we are now.

Main Avenue 2010. Paul Goldfinger photo

In recent years we have lost a cleaners, an internist, a bank branch, a quality restaurant (Moonstruck),  two serious bakeries, a cafeteria, a real deli, a real grocery, a barber shop, a newsstand (recently), a gas station (at the hardware store) and a pharmacy.

Who’s to say what happens next on Main Avenue? In this town, we can’t even trust zoning to protect our town  (Remember Mary’s Place?)    We have a Chamber of Commerce, but what do they do for the town’s residents besides close Main Ave. for car shows and other events?  Do they ever consider the lifestyles and needs of those who actually live in town? And where’s our coffee shop?  

And is it time to abolish blue laws to give the town a pick-me-up? It’s been a new ball game since 1980. 

*  Ref: Gibbons History of Ocean Grove

JONI MITCHELL  “In France They Kiss on Main Street”

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MAGIC. Ocean Grove.  Click to enlarge. Paul Goldfinger  ©

Reposted from 2010 with the comments. Blast from the past, with a memorable last line:

By Mary Beth Jahn, former mayor and Committeeman.  She is the only Committeeman ever to comment on Blogfinger.

Hey OG Resident – Oh My!, guess what?  I was one  (a Grover), too, from 1993 to 2006.  I lived in the big orange apartment building on Main and Pennsylvania.  I got used to throwing my blinkers on for a few minutes in the fire zone, unloading the car, and heading for the 100 blocks of Heck or Abbott to park on Saturdays until the Aud. let out.

The bus service was there when I moved in, and it came in darn handy when the train to NYC went down.  In 1993, the majority of the Grove was serving mental patients, so the renaissance with stores and eateries has been and continues to be a delight and a true wonder of how determined citizens who are willing to take a gamble on a magical place can turn it around.

There was a time when Ocean Grove was much more isolated – no Dunkin’ Donuts (though we briefly had a Wawa there), no Windmill, no West Grove Square.  Not all progress is bad.  I’ll agree the density went wildly out of control in the 70s, 80s, and probably the the 90s, but when the state is paying you $1,600 per person, it was hard for owners of large hotels to turn that money down.  As for the triage bus the county has asked us to house, fuel, and insure, I haven’t spoken to one first-responder who says we shouldn’t have it, especially as the southern Monmouth area consolidates services.

That aside, what are the things you love about the Grove?  All that seems to be getting lost here.  I can’t tell you how many people in town I initially met at the old Wachovia ATM.  The Jersey Shore Arts Center is pretty amazing.  Shuffleboard is tons of fun.  The Historical Society and Camp Meeting have great events.  There’s Nagel’s and Day’s and the Starving Artist.  Smuggler’s Cove and Ocean Grove Flowers always have the perfect gifts for any occasion.  For a town that size, that’s hardly shabby.

We all control our own quality of life.  There are certain things we have to learn to live with, especially in a small area.  When we let the negative aspects take over the positive, sometimes you have to make choices.  I personally learned to turn a blind eye to parking on summer weekends so it didn’t make me crazy.  I knew what it was when I moved there, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t signed up for it.  I’m not saying that’s the approach everyone should take, but at some point, with this much anger roiling around some folks, maybe it’s time for some contemplative thought about focusing on the positive rather than the negative.

I moved out of the Grove for two reasons:  one was that I was still not in remission with my severe rheumatoid arthritis, and therefore, unable to perform most home repairs, which would have left the bulk of any work we could do ourselves on my sister, which wasn’t fair.  Second, we still weren’t sure whether I was going to fully go into remission (which I have, thankfully), but to be on the safe side, we needed a home which we could afford if I ended up on disability.  So far, so good.

I miss the smell of the sea when I walk out the front door, walking down the street to the ATM and News and Such, and spending time on the boardwalk.  When I think back on my time in the Grove, those are the things I remember most, not circling around blocks for a parking spot, and I suspect most people, when they remember this summer, will remember the great beach days, dinner parties, drinks on the porch with friends and family, Frisbee on the beach, and the like.

The sheer tininess of this town is part of what gives it the magic it has.  We can choose to grasp the magic and work toward solutions, or we can become bitter and ruin an entire beautiful summer’s worth of memories.

Which side are you going to choose – the magic or the tragic?

THE DUBS  (music added 2017)

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Gotkas at the flea market in Ocean Grove. 2005. By Paul Goldfinger

Giant flea market in Ocean Grove., NJ 2005. By Paul Goldfinger

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

In Ocean Grove, there are quite a few New Yorkers whose second language is Yiddish, or, at least, who like to use Yiddish words.  The language of Eastern European Jewish immigrants is filled with words and sayings  that are useful as terms of endearment, insults or as spice in an English sentence.  You don’t have to be Jewish to like Levy’s rye bread or to learn a few Yiddish words.

In NYC, people use Yiddishisms in their daily conversation such as “shlepping ” a bag of  bagels, whitefish salad and the 5 pound NY Times  up the stairs on a Sunday morning.  So, we consider it to be a public service in the Grove to provide some new words from the “old country”  so you can communicate with your New Yawk neighbors.

In this case, someone has kindly hung their underwear from a tree at the OG Flea Market. If only lingerie could talk. Anyhow, the Jews of the Lower East Side knew nothing of fancy underwear, but they did have a word for underwear, and that word is “gotkas”  (rhymes with the Hannukah delicacy  “latkes”).  There’s something amusing–even hilarious–about using this word to describe anybody’s unmentionables.  So, give it a try.

Note:   Last October we ran a piece on a similar theme — “My Mother the Indian”   If you click on the link, you can hear a Yiddish language song about a lovable hooker.

https://blogfinger.net/2016/05/24/my-mother-the-indian-2/

And, by the way, you don’t have to be Christian to like Christmas music:

THE KLEZMONAUTS from their Christmas album Oy to the World.

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Internet photo

Sports report from the Blogfinger sports department, Paul Goldfinger, Editor.    Updated to 2015.  Go Navy.  I still have my Navy sword which I keep in our OG bedroom in case the Barbary pirates show up seeking revenge.

On Saturday, December 12, there will be a battle in Philadelphia—Army vs. Navy. This rivalry goes back 116 games.  Navy has won 59 times, and the army 49, with 7 ties.    Navy has  a long winning streak, having won the last thirteen times.  The weather should be warm, so we won’t have to shiver our timbers;  it will be a spirited event at 3:00 pm on CBS.

But here in Ocean Grove, we have two neighbors on Seaview Avenue who have chosen opposite sides every year, and each year they hang out the appropriate banner.  At 18 Seaview is Liz Ogden’s house where the Navy reigns and the goats go baaaaa.  This is what she said yesterday, “The Flags are flying on Sea View Ave in excitement for the upcoming football game Saturday at 3pm..  I learned recently that my Dad marched in the 1953 Army – Navy Football game with the American Flag..  GOOOOO NAVY!!!!!  BEAT ARMY.

 

18 Seaview18 Seaview Avenue in Ocean Grove.  Liz Ogden’s house.

US Navy Band:    

Ted Bell's home at 24 Seaview Avenue. Blogfinger photos.

Ted Bell’s home at 24 Seaview Avenue. Blogfinger photos.  Dec 10, 2015 Ted’s team are the Black Knights and they eat beans while the Navy eats the gravy.

A few houses down at 24 Seaview is the Army house where Ted Bell will be cheering for the Army mules. Ted’s grandson is a graduate of the USMA and served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.   Ted and Liz have been competing over this game for more than 10 years.  Ted gave us a quote: “Go Army, Beat Navy.”  Ted was there when the army beat the Brits at Bunker Hill.

Ted likes the traditions, especially when the two sides sing their alma maters at the end of the game.   He predicts that Army will win by a score of 13-12.  Really, Ted?   You can call him and make a bet.

Liz Ogden on Main Avenue counting her chickens. Her team are the "Midshipmen". © Paul Goldfinger photo. Dec 10, 2015.

Liz Ogden on Main Avenue, Ocean Grove,  counting her chickens. Her team are the “Midshipmen”. © Paul Goldfinger photo. Dec 10, 2015.

Liz: Watch out;  Ted may get your goat or steal your goat or eat your goat.

US Army Band      

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Pine Barrens, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger © 2013

Season’s greetings from the Pine Barrens, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger © 2013

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger   (reposted from 11/29/13)

At Wegmans this morning they were already playing Christmas music.  Ironically, they call today “Black Friday”–an odd name for a day that should still be basking in the glow of a happy, happy, merry, merry holiday.    An employee that I barely know breezed by and said, “Happy Hanukkah.”  I didn’t have time to respond, but I thought, why is she wishing me happy anything?— I don’t really know her.  I was already a bit numb from so many people in stores and elsewhere saying, “Happy Thanksgiving.”  What’s the point?  No amount of good wishes would have any impact on the happiness of my Thanksgiving. And then you have to say “Happy Thanksgiving” back, even though I don’t care about their Thanksgiving. What a drag.

When I was in practice, patients would come in and wish me a “Happy Hanukkah.”  So I would wish them a “Merry Christmas,” but these greetings always struck me as awkward. For one thing, what makes them think I’m Jewish?  I never told them.  Maybe I’m a Moroccan Muslim.  I would prefer that they wish me a “Merry Christmas” so that I can fit right in.  Then I won’t have to answer questions like, “Is it the fourth or fifth night now?” I seldom know exactly what night it is.  Besides, I know they think that Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas, and I wish I could explain that it is not even close. In my house, when I was a kid, we said a blessing, lit the candles and ate.  That was it.  And just one present, if I was lucky.

So I went up to the café in Wegmans and sat down to have coffee and a bagel, and fiddle around with my iPad.  I’m wearing earphones, so I didn’t hear the man come up to me. When I sensed his presence, I looked up and there is a gentleman with whom I sometimes chat at Wegmans.  He said that he finds all these merry, merry, happy, happy  greetings to be a bit disturbing, because so many people are suffering in the world.  He mentioned the Central African Republic where, he said, “genocide” was occurring and also Syria, a place where he spent two years in the past.  There they are having death, destruction and a huge refugee problem.

I suggested to him that perhaps Americans are a bit delusional  because they don’t know about such places. I never heard of the Central African Republic, so he told me that it used to be a French colony.  I always learn stuff at Wegmans.  Today I found out that the mashed potatoes are in the dairy department.  Go figure!

OK, I know, you all think I’m a curmudgeon, or something else. But we all have our pet peeves.  Do you have any pet peeves as it pertains to the happy, happy, merry, merry “holiday season?”

And that’s another darn thing:  Say “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holiday.”  We’re all big boys; even big girls are big boys these days.  Americans can handle the possibility of being insulted. Let’s all jettison some piece of political correctness this year.   Let’s lighten up this happy, happy, merry, merry season and wish everybody a new greeting.  Try something unexpected like,  “Ain’t that somethin’?”

And if you see me, wish me a “Merry Christmas.”  You’ll find me wandering around the Wegmans lot looking for my bloody car.

THE DIMMER TWINS   (“True Blue Aussie Christmas album”)

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