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Members of the NYU team (L to R): Marlee Roberts (producer), Nora Unkel (assistant director), Craig Clayton (writer) , and Ben Nelson (director) on the porch at 124 Main Avenue. Paul Goldfinger photo.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor and film critic @Blogfinger.  Re-post from November, 2012:

 

Did you ever hear of Spike Lee, Joel Coen, Ang Lee, and Oliver Stone? Well those film makers are all alumni of the NYU Film School, a division of the Tisch School of the Arts. It is one of the finest film schools in the country, and we had a team of their students in town this weekend, making a short movie called “Still.”

Tisch School of the Arts. Greenwich Village. From the NYU web site.

Marlee Roberts, the producer of the film “Still,” spoke to us in the living room at 124 Main Avenue on a cold Ocean Grove Sunday morning. She and her production team had been looking for a house that seemed like it was from the 1950’s. When they found the “cozy” cottage on Main, they were “very excited.”

“We were searching for a special town for our film”, she said , “And this was perfect.”

The quaint little Ocean Grove cottage was buzzing with activity. Members of the team were all over the house when we stopped by. On Saturday they had recreated a party in the living room. They also had shot some footage in the old-fashioned kitchen and now they were upstairs in the bedroom. “Our film is rated PG-13,” Marlee said, “and it is totally student run—no faculty involved.”

Filming in the bedroom. Photo by NYU crew

It is evident that this is serious filmmaking. The actors are not only college students, but they are professionals, and the standards are quite high. When it was time to say, “Aaand action,” I could hear a voice call out from upstairs, “Nobody move, or talk…don’t even breathe.” Then everyone who had been moving, talking and breathing froze. It looked like a wax museum for a few minutes.

Lighting the set and adjusting the sound. Photo by the NYU crew.

Marlee told us that “Still” would be a short film—about 18 minutes— and the goal would be to distribute it to film festivals. It’s about a young couple who have found the fountain of youth, so their love story goes on for awhile.

The filming began in Secaucus, but the Ocean Grove setting was the main location. After 1 1/2 days in town, the crew would be going to Spring Lake and then Manhattan. After that the post-production work begins.

Marlee, an actress, singer and filmmaker, is an animated and lovely young woman from North Arlington, New Jersey, who promised to send us one of her songs for the Blogfinger Juke Box. We suggested that she let us show her finished film in town when it is ready. She liked that idea.

I can see it now: “The Blogfinger Film Festival presents ‘Still’.” Let’s do it!  (PS –does anyone have a red carpet we can borrow?). As for this article, it’s a wrap.

Editor’s Note: It was a delight to watch these young filmmakers work with such passion in creating an original film in our town. Thank you to Flo Meier, the owner of that “perfect” Ocean Grove cottage, who alerted us to this special event.

And to the crew of “Still” here’s a musical gift. Sidney Bechet, the great French jazz saxophonist, plays “Si Tu Vois Ma Mère” which is the opening music for Woody Allen’s new hit film “Midnight in Paris.” I suspect no NYU film student can possibly graduate without knowing Woody’s work.    —PG

 

 

 

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Robert Capa, Life Magazine photographer went into Omaha Beach with the American troops. Robert Capa, Life Magazine photographer landed  at  Omaha Beach with the American troops. They went in at Easy Red/Fox Green sector. June 6, 1944 .He took this photo and won a Pulitzer Prize. *   (see below)

 

By Paul Goldfinger, MD    Editor @Blogfinger

Robert Capa landed with the troops and shot quickly with his Leica 35 mm camera.  He handed over his film to an aide who got the film out  to a boat and then on to England for processing.  Unfortunately, an overzealous lab tech ruined most of the exposures except for a few. The image above is one of them, and the Capa D-Day collection is among the best examples of American photojournalism.

There were 12 surgical teams that went in on D-Day, but only 8 made it to shore.  Medics quickly organized the wounded. Medical stations and field hospitals were quickly established on shore.  Of the wounded who made it to a medical station, less than 1% died.

During the month prior to D-Day,  American factories manufactured 100 million doses of the wonder drug Penicillin. There were 4,644 U.S. Army nurses who were stationed on the European front in 1944. They landed on the beaches on June 10 and walked 5 miles or more to field hospitals.

 

Normandy, a few days after D-Day, aircraft bring in containers of blood for transfusion. * Normandy, a few days after D-Day.  Aircraft bring in containers of blood for transfusion. *

 

June 6, 2022.  Still photographs by Paul Goldfinger obtained from the movie Saving Private Ryan by Steven Spielberg.

Troops dropped off in the bloody water move in to Omaha Beach, Dog Sector.  Paul Goldfinger still.  High mortality in the first wave.

 

Tom Hanks as Capt. John Miller regains his composure after barely making it ashore. There is mayhem and death all around.    Paul Goldfinger still.

 

Medics try to save lives on the beach, but deadly fire inhibits  effectiveness. Paul Goldfinger still.

 

Nazi pill boxes take a high toll on the beach. Eventually Capt. Miller and his men break through to open the log jam. Paul Goldfinger still.

 

 

* Reference:  Time Magazine D-Day 70th Anniversary Tribute  (re-issue of the 2004 Time Classic)

 

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT.  From the soundtrack of the film  The Aviator

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A large crowd assembles for the Saturday night concert in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, USA. Photo by Paul Goldfinger

 

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor,  Blogfinger.net    Memorial Day 2012.  Ocean Grove

Leave it to Harry Eichhorn to come up with a concert that celebrates America while covering the gamut of music, from Dvorak to Irving Berlin and, of course, Ocean Grove’s sentimental favorite, John Phillip Sousa.

Perhaps you are wondering what a wind ensemble is, and how it is different from a band.  Well, there’s not much difference, but “wind ensemble” tells you what to expect, while a band could be anything  from the Foo Fighters to the Neptune High School Marching Scarlet Fliers.

I guess a wind ensemble contains musicians who blow into their instruments. This definition , or course, doesn’t hold up for the percussionists.  After all, did you ever try to blow into a snare drum?  But Harry Eichhorn’s group of about 45 musicians and 35 choristers turned on the charm for an audience of mostly senior citizens, some of whom might have actually heard Sousa perform live when he conducted the Marine Band here back in the day.

Harry looked great in his trademark pressed slacks and starched shirt. If he were running for office, he would win by a landslide, even if Lawrence Welk himself were on the ballot.

The concert was predictable with the veterans rising to their feet  (those who could actually still stand) and clapping to the rhythms of their theme songs. As always, the smallest group to get up has the most unrecognizable song—the US Coast Guard.  But I think that their song is the most beautiful.  Sometimes only one or two Coast Guard vets stand. They should wear something special like a life vest.

I get to stand with the U.S. Navy as they play Anchors Aweigh, but I wasn’t a warrior—-my weapon was a stethoscope, but I did get to wear an undrawn sword for dress inspections. I actually keep that sword in my OG bedroom in case a Barbary pirate were to invade my house.   Yet I do feel proud getting up  during this ritual which is always met with enthusiasm by the crowds that come to Harry’s patriotic musical tributes.

It really doesn’t matter what Harry plays—it will delight the folks, especially when a euphonium player sitting in the back, Ted Freeman, stands to announce the program using his 1940’s era radio voice. I wish, just once , that Ted would say, “”From out of the west with the speed of light and a hearty hi-yo Silver.”

The whole experience of going to a concert like this in Ocean Grove encompasses a lot more than Harry’s merry band digging into one old-fashioned medley after another. The unique ingredients that create that “old feeling” include the Great Auditorium itself, the sea breezes, patriotism, the town’s history, people sitting on the lawn, kids playing in the park, and the polite crowd lined up outside of Day’s.

The third piece on the program was the “Liberty Bell March” by Sousa. It is not well known, but Ted told us that it was played by the Marine Band at the inauguration of the last three US Presidents. So here is the US Marine Band playing the “Liberty Bell March:”

—Paul Goldfinger

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Eileen’s Passover table in Ocean Grove. April, 2022. Eileen Goldfinger photo. © Click to enlarge. Make the matzah balls bigger.

 

J.A. Joel, Jewish soldier in the Union Army. 1862. Author of the Civil War seder article described below. (photo: Jewish Virtual Library)

 

During Reverend Stokes’ time, a Passover seder in the Grove would have been highly unlikely.  But these days, given the changing demographics in what used to be a one-size-fits-all religious environment, seders in the Grove do occur.

The seder is a festive celebration devoted to family, traditional foods and retelling  the story of the Exodus. A guide book called  the Hagaddah is used during the seder. It was invented about 1500 years ago and hasn’t changed much in its essentials over those generations.

Although Passover is a happy holiday, the recitation of this phase of Jewish history is a solemn obligation and a touchstone for Jewish identity. Most American Jews celebrate a seder at Passover. But seders are held all over the world, and, although the framework is the same for each seder, there are many variations of  the rituals, depending on regional and cultural differences.

It is surprising where seders have occurred in the past. We know, for example, that secret Passover celebrations were held “underground” during the Inquisition, in Spain and Portugal.

Image courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. Two marines and a soldier attend a seder in 1944. In front of them are Australian matzohs. They are probably in the Pacific.

 

In America, there are reports of seders being held by soldiers during the  Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  There were matzoh factories in unlikely places such as Montana and the Dakotas.

In 1862, an account by  soldier, J. A. Joel of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Regiment,  of a seder celebrated by Union soldiers in Fayette, West Virginia, was published in The Jewish Messenger.  Joel and 20 other Jewish soldiers were granted leave to observe Passover.  They received matzoh shipped from Cincinnati.

Said Joel, “We sent parties to forage for Passover food while a group stayed to build a log hut for the services. We obtained two kegs of cider (Ed. note: wine was unavailable), a lamb, several chickens and some eggs. We could not obtain horseradish or parsley, but instead we found a weed whose bitterness, I apprehend, exceeded anything our forefathers ‘enjoyed.’ “   (Ed. note: The seder table includes “bitter herbs” to recall the terrible  times as slaves.)

Joel went on to report how they used “Yankee ingenuity” to make substitutions for other traditional components of the seder. Those Jews who fought with the North felt like they had the moral high ground  (compared to Jews serving in the Confederate Army) because of the similarity between the freeing of Jewish slaves in Exodus and their participation in freeing the American black slaves. Happy Easter and Passover to those Grovers who celebrate these holidays.

Here is a link about a seder in Ocean Grove in 2011 with references to Haggadahs.

Ocean Grove seder 2011.

 

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

ETTA JAMES: “Down by the Riverside.”

 

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Torro Shoe Repair and Leather Works. Ft. Myers, Fla. Torro Shoe Repair and Leather Works. Ft. Myers, Fla.  By Paul Goldfinger © 2015.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

I went into the Torro  Shoe Repair and Leather Works shop on McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers, Florida, not far from the Edison and Ford estates.  The sign in the window offered cheerleading and kick boxing lessons. Inside, it was a small space with several machines to fix shoes and the sort of disarray that only occurs in places where artists or craftsmen work.

Somehow old-time shoe repair shops  like this survive because some leather items are too good to be disposable. My belt came from Pennsylvania via Bill’s Khaki’s, and I needed two holes added.

This is not a belt to throw away when the size needs adjusting. I’m a sucker for handmade items that have patina, enduring parts, mechanical mechanisms, and classy old-fashioned  styling, so this is the ad from Bill’s that got me to purchase their English bridle leather belt with a stainless steel buckle—this belt had “meaning:”

For years, customers have asked us to make a belt that goes perfectly with our khakis and jeans. But making a belt just for the sake of it wasn’t compelling… the belt had to have meaning. Then we found Floyd, a second generation Amish harness maker whose workshop lies deep in the remote mountains of Pennsylvania. This belt was our first collaborative effort. The end result explains why we went to such great lengths to bring these belts to you.”   

I never met the Torro craftsman who fixed my belt at the rate of $2.00 per hole.  I imagined him to be old-world, perhaps Italian, in his manner, wearing a soiled apron that was tinted by hundreds of cans of shoe polish—-the kind that you had to rub into the shoe.  I thought he might have Puccini playing on the radio.   But he never materialized , and there was no music.

Instead,  a pretty, slender, young  blond woman came out from the back. She had no patina or other signs of aging or handmade workmanship, but she did have style. Maybe she was the kick boxing instructor.

Anyhow she told me to leave the belt and come back later.  I said, “Don’t I get a ticket or something?”    She said, ” I just handed it to you.”  Uh oh, my cover was blown.  I was so busy being distracted that a tiny orange ticket wound up in my shirt pocket.  On it it said only “2 holes.”

Did I feel loved at Torro?  Not really, but I did enjoy the visit. And my pants no longer tend to drift south.

 

PINK MARTINI from their album “Hang On Little Tomato.”

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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:   “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl.”

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Brittany Primavera on the OG beach. Photo by Marc Steiner for the New York Times

Brittany Primavera on the OG beach. Photo by Marc Steiner for the New York Times

 

In an article dated July 17, 2013, New York Times reporter Alex Williams caught up with recent law school graduate Brittany Primavera, who was studying for the bar exam in a sand chair in Ocean Grove. Evidently, it is not unusual for new grads (Brittany is from Seton Hall University School of Law) to go somewhere peaceful to cram for the test without surrounding themselves with anxiety, such as is found in the University Library which is located in the concrete jungle of Newark, near Penn Station.

So Brittany rented a house in the Grove and spends her days on the beach, getting tan and cramming for the test.

(Note: 2021  Brittany is now Senior Consul for a New York law firm. )

 

RANI ARBO AND DAISY MAHEM from the 2010 album “Ranky Tanky.” (This is a 1970 Cat Stevens song from the film “Harold and Maude.”)

 

 

Thanks to Dennis Caren for alerting us to this stylish development. It is the sort of information sharing that we hope for on Blogfinger.

 

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

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The Milky Way. Photo from the Internet

 

Re-post from 2012.  Charles Layton was a member of the Blogfinger staff when he wrote this marvelous piece. Charles now lives in Philadelphia.  He is a professional editor from the Philadelphia Inquirer, now retired.

 

By Charles Layton

A few years ago we lived for three weeks in Nicaragua, in a house at the edge of a small, very remote fishing village called Casares. It was a spectacular place. Instead of shooshing and murmuring, as they mostly do in Ocean Grove, the waves on that shore towered and crashed and sucked and splattered and spat. They were never subdued.

From our porch, looking out on the Pacific Ocean, we watched pelicans dive bombing for fish. Each afternoon huge flocks – a hundred or more at a time – would fly right past us, headed for their nesting grounds.

But even better was the sky at night. After all the meager lights in that little town went dark, the sky became a light show of blazing stars and star clusters, plunging meteors, wandering planets. Sometimes, very late, when the call of nature roused me from bed, I would walk out on the patio alone and stare and stare at the universe, and especially at the Milky Way, wheeling above me. Stars by the thousands, unbelievably distinct and clear.

In Ocean Grove, on most nights, you can actually count the number of visible stars. Often it’s no more than a dozen. Sometimes it’s none. Living under a permanent scrim of light pollution, we forget how many stars are out there. Many of us have never actually seen the night sky in its true state – as I saw it on the coast of Nicaragua, and as our ancestors knew it.

In a couple of weeks we’ll hear jokes about the Mayan calendar coming to an end, and how that will be the destruction of the earth and all mankind. No need to do your Christmas shopping or pay your taxes now, our doom is written in the stars, har har. What idiots, those Mayans.

But really, the Mayans and all ancient peoples lived their lives in constant communion with the teeming, moving lights in the natural sky. The ancient peoples had no idea what those lights were. They noted that the lights moved in strange ways. Sometimes one could be seen to streak and fall out of the sky. Sometimes a comet would appear, ominously hovering. (What did that portent? Something important, right?) The night sky was those people’s television, fraught with drama and bad news.

The constellation Orion. The three middle stars are his belt

Religions arose to explain all those moving lights. Stories were told. People saw pictures in the sky – a lion, a crab, a hunter named Orion holding a bow in one hand and a club in the other. Because the planets moved independently of the rest of the turning firmament, the ancients associated those special lights with gods – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

But because the sky was so brilliant, prominent, ever-present and mysterious, ancient people studied it methodically. They built observatories and took and recorded measurements. They found that the heavenly bodies displayed repeating patterns which, when plotted, yielded information useful to hunters, farmers, nomads and sailors. Astrologers tried to discern when “the stars were right” for planting or marrying or doing business or giving birth.

The Bible says the “wise men” (men who understood signs in the sky) were guided to Bethlehem by a star. If such a beckoning star rose in the sky now, I doubt we’d even see it — unless JCP&L suffered a major blackout.

Hurricane Sandy taught us the value of electricity, and I’m happy to have the power back on; I would never want to do without it. Still, it’s not a trivial thing, our loss of that ancient awareness of the richness of the sky.

 

 

BILLIE HOLIDAY  (this song added on 4/23/21):

 

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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. 2/5/21.  (Original post 2013; update 2017)

 

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 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

2020:  And here is the latest   (below link), but this article  could drive you to drink or to speak in a falsetto, like Frankie Lymon who did that while asking the eternal question :  “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”    If you are a obsessive compulsive type who can’t get enough of vocal fry, try clicking on this, but you will be sorry!  —-PG:   “enuf awready.”

What is Vocal Fry and What Does it Sound Like?

 

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 topic and also that lots of people are interested and find us through Google searches and links sent from BF.

 

2021 update:   We heard Dana Perino  (former White House Press Sec.) being interviewed on radio by Brian Kilmeade regarding her new book Everything Will Be OK, and they were discussing up talking young women.  Dana was complaining about how young women say “like” all the time and speak with “uptalk.”

But she forgot to mention vocal fry, and, honestly, I could hear her uptalking also, but only mildly.  She said that such speech patterns will reduce the chances of a young woman to get ahead in our society.

Another journalist referred to “uptalking millennials.”

So clearly, the problem persists and thus we get hits of this piece on Blogfinger.net  nearly everyday.

 

Paul Goldfinger, MD,  Editor @Blogfinger.

Here is the link to the WSJ:

www.wsj.com/articles/young-women-speak-older-ears-hear-vocal-fry-1507649162

 

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”

 

 

Ladies:  Would you talk to a guy named “Little Willie?”

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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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