Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Hybird Word

There is simply no doubt about it. You learn things when you read.  Take the example of reading the book, 'The Pun Also Rises.'  It is not simply a collection of puns, but rather a very readable, scholarly dissertation on all aspects of puns, from their origin, to how the brain processes words and meanings that have more than one meaning.  The four-year IBM project that built Watson, the computer that trounced humans on 'Jeopardy,' but failed to recognize that Toronto is not a U.S city is not discussed, but you certainly become aware of what challenges the programmers faced with a multiple-meaning language such as ours.

Take the type of word that is called a 'portmanteau.'  It is a word that is a combination of two or more other words, to come up a new word that has it's own meaning.  I had never heard of the word portmanteau until I read a fairly recent obituary for Michelle Triola, the live-in partner of actor Lee Marvin who sued the actor for support after being his live-in partner for six years. The attorney who represented Mr. Marvin, Marvin Mitchelson, pioneered a defense for the actor that was successful.  The newspapers dubbed the case the 'palimony' case, creating a portmanteau of the words 'pal' and 'alimony' to mean a divorce-type case involving people who weren't married.  This gave flight to words like 'gal-pal'  that have kept tabloids and private investigators busy for years.

The word palimony can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, and they use the Marvin case in their gray box for attribution.  Scholarly stuff.

So, what does this have to do with puns?  In 'The Pun Also Rises,' the author John Pollack discusses portmanteaus.  He uses 'turducken' as an example.  He's pulling my drumstick, right?  This is something the broadcaster John Madden made up for an NFL halftime show that smashes a turkey, duck and a chicken into a roasted Dodo bird to bulk up linemen with undetectable growth hormones, right?  No.

Mr. Pollack gives us history that traces the Howard Hughes Spruce Goose entree to a Frenchmen, Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de La Reyniere, who wrote about its origins somewhere in eight volumes of "recipes, restaurant reviews, gourmet shopping tips and food commentary" published between  1803 and 1812.  Imagine, restaurant reviews after taking a stagecoach to the place. (If the driver can find it.)

So, is 'turducken' in the Shorter OED?  No.

My only guess is the editors didn't consider John Madden and the NFL to be a worthy example for their gray box. That just makes them plain turkeys.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Couric Set to Make Big Announcement

Katie Couric is set to announce soon that she is leaving the CBS Evening News in order to join Sarah Palin as her vice-presidential running mate in the 2012 presidential election.

It is widely believed Ms. Couric will be an asset in helping candidate Palin understand New York by reading the New York Post headlines to her. Slowly.

Neither candidate could be reached for comment.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Clock Work

One of the pleasures I get out of watching old movies on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is that I get to see what the world looked like to my parents when they were young adults and adults in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, before their life together raising a family and my own memory of what things looked like.

Aside for the obvious scenery, cars, clothes and other things that create dated settings, the dialog does as well.  Consider 'The Glass Key,' A Dashiel Hammet story starring Brian Dunlevy, Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, made into a 1942 movie.  Brian Dunlevy's younger sister, Bonita Granville, fully dressed in the fashion of a 1940s office working women, hat, gloves and a woman's suit, (Lois Lane look) is miffed and starts to spit out how she's not just a kid, she's: "free, white and..." and before she can get to what is the '21' part of the in-vogue saying, Alan Ladd interrupts her and says '18.'  Now she's really mad. It's like someone dumped cold water on her.  Her adulthood has been pinched off.  And why wouldn't it?  Her nickname is 'Snip.'

There's another dated reference when the local bad boy, gambling honcho, Nick Varna, played by Joseph Calleia, complete with oily look and thin mustache--an early version of a Tony Soprano--is sarcastically referred to by Brian Donlevy's character, Paul Madvig as a "pop-eyed spaghetti-bender."  That tells you all you need to know.

But for me the best part is when Ladd's character, Ed Beaumont, an assistant to the Donlevy's political boss, a crooked politician with scruples, confronts his boss putting on the Ritz in his office.  Donlevy is nearly completely dressed in bib and tucker when Ladd spots his boss's socks as he has his feet feet up on the desk.  The socks are dark but have an obvious white blaze down the center.  Donlevy detects a forthcoming criticism and Ladd obliges: "The clock, it ticks too loud."

Only because I once encountered the reference of 'clock' in 'Angels and Toast' did I know what the hell Ladd was talking about.  Clock refers to an ornamental pattern worked into the side of a sock or stocking.  Imagine, getting fancy dressed and going daring with a pair of socks whose 'clock' was considered too loud?  Donlevy follows Ladd's comment and discards the pair of socks for another.

In 'Angels and Toast' by Dawn Powell, published in 1940, the salesmen Jay and Lou are taking a train from Chicago to New York when Jay kicks his shoes off in the compartment before heading to the club car and exposes his stockinged feet revealing "crimson clocks in the gray hose that matched the herring-bone stripe in his blue suit. 'Paid four fifty for these socks,'" he tells Lou.

Four-fifty for socks in 1940! These guys are really dressed up riding a train.  But it is 1940 and things haven't yet become what they have with North Face, T-shirts and baseball caps.

And one wonders.  Does the term to 'sock' someone have anything to do with to 'clock' someone?  In either case, someone is hit.  Hmmm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Breeding the Best to the Best

It might he hard to believe, but someone has produced a fair sized book on puns, 'The Pun Also Rises,' by John Pollack. I know this because I read two book reviews, and have just purchased the book, a scholarly hard cover edition that stretches 203 pages.

I haven't started the book, but the reviews are themselves interesting.  Puns have been with us quite awhile, and sometimes don't even appear to be puns.  Some you have to hear; some to have to see spelled out; some you just have to keep thinking about to realize they are puns. Some you will never get. No matter what.

One in particular, cited by in the book review by P.J. O'Rouke apparently appears in 'Macbeth' when Lady Macbeth (hardly one it would seem to be padding around the castle in jokey patter) says: "I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, / For it must seem their guilt.”  Planting evidence never seemed like so much wordplay.  I know my English teacher missed that one.

For some, puns cannot be resisted.  Consider the Twitter tweet of @obitsman who surely couldn't sneak this one into his WSJ obituary of Jess Jackson, the California winemaker and champion thoroughbred horse owner who just passed away at 81, and expect to remain employed: "Jess Stonestreet Jackson dies at 81, Founder of Kendall Jackson winery. A fine life with an oaky finish." Cue the drummer.

For myself, Jess Jackson will be missed because he was one of the deep pocket horse owners who loved the sport that the sport desperately needs to keep the game going on a high level.  People like Paul Mellon, Eugene Klein and Allen Paulson, all departed, and with them stables of great champions.

As a horse owner, Mr. Jackson got what he wanted.  His middle name, Stonestreet, was the name of his stable. He already had complete control over Curlin, the horse of the year in 2007 and 2008.  Early in 2009 Mr. Jackson purchased the filly Rachel Alexandra.  As the racing year progressed, Rachel Alexandra made a name for herself by defeating male horses in the Preakness and the Woodward Stakes. She was Horse of the Year in 2009.  Jess Jackson envisioned the dream breeding matchup of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, which in human terms would be like the word war horse William F. Buckley, Jr. being mated with the fast filly Pamela Harrison. The offspring could hardly fail to be spirited and great.

Unfortunately, while Curlin has been bred to Rachel Alexandra, the live foal is not expected to be born until February 2012.  Horses take 11 months.  Thus, the result of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best, won't be seen by Mr. Jackson.

Time will tell what we all eventually will see.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

So Things Go

It must simply be a function of growing older, but I now find myself reading obituaries, as always, but also expecting to read something in the obit that I know about the subject, not because I've met them, but because they're familiar to me through reading or hearing something about them when they were alive.

This happens a little more often these days and has now happened again when I read Robert McFadden's NYT obituary on William Donald Schaefer, a former mayor of Baltimore, governor of Maryland, and later comptroller of the state.

It was a daily double for Mr. McFadden because his bylined obit on William Busher appeared in the same edition.  Both subjects were well past 80, closer to 90, so it has to assumed that the morgue copies come out that McFadden had pre-written and the paper had on file already.

Each obit is a beaut, written in the clear McFadden style that always starts off with a lead that packs more information in it than an entire encyclopedia entry.  Pure reporting, few curlicues and asides, but some color nonetheless.  Somewhere between the Goat Man and 'just the facts.'

Despite living in New York my entire life I had heard of William Schaefer when he was mayor of Baltimore.  He apparently was a manager by walking-around type who left the office and saw what there was to see.  And reacted to it.  One of the things I heard of was a piece in the book 'In Pursuit of Excellance' where Mr. Schaefer's style of observation and management was held up for praise.

Baltimore had lots of problems during Mr. Schaefer's terms.  One of them was abandoned autos, stripped, burned and left at the curbs for months on end.  When I lived in Flushing (part of NYC) we had the same problems.  I was constantly calling them in and following up on their removal.  Our own block had more than its share of the problem.

So when I heard of how the mayor of Baltimore was handling it I was envious.  Mr. Scheafer apparently was driven around and noted where there several such abandoned vehicles.  He told the proper commissioner where the abandoned autos were and expected to find the autos removed fairly quickly. They weren't. Quickly, or otherwise.

Mr. Schaefer was not happy.  He set out again and noted where there were several abandoned autos.  This time he told his commissioner about them, but said he wasn't going to tell him where the autos were.  He basically said go find the ones I mean, but I won't tell you where they are.

The next shift saw at least 50 autos towed into the junk pound.  Mr. Schaefer had made his point.  Abandoned autos started to get attention.  If only New York Mayors Koch and Dinkins acted like that!

This vignette wasn't in Mr. Schaefer's obituary, but there was another example of his style, complete with a picture of the mayor in the zoo's seal pool that sufficed.  Mr. Schaefer was mayor for 16 years.  All his exploits couldn't find their way into a life's summation.  But a good one did.  And I remember another one.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank God for Bar Codes

There are things that just hit your eye.  It's not your fault, but when I see a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) seized property legal notice in a print newspaper that stretches uninterrupted across 12 columns of 4.5 point print containing nothing but names of perfumes, sizes and quantities, totaling nearly $1million in value, you just have to look into this further.

The names alone are all the bold face names we've ever encountered: Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Varvatos, Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, Nina Ricci, Jennifer Lopez.  The list is not alphabetized: names, quantities, and sizes repeat across an agate type plain.

You have to wonder. No one types all this in, right? No one proofread this, did they?  Not likely. But they probably did scan each cluster of bottles that were confiscated, and let the computer do the rest.  What would life be like without UPC?

So, why does the DEA list confiscated perfume vs. the usual seized Hummers, weapons, ammunition and cash?  Perfume is a controlled substance meant to induce uncontrolled behavior?  No.  Money laundering. BMPE to be official. Black Market Peso Exchange.

The link explains more, and shows that Quinn Martin may no longer be with us producing shows like 'The Fugitive,' 'O'Hara: U.S. Treasury,' but his way with words hasn't left at least the governement press corps people who create releases like: "...dirty money...with the scent of perfume;" "...even the sweetest-smelling money laundering scheme is no match for determined law enforcement."

But at least a sense of humor goes a long way. "...revealed the putrid odor of his illegal criminal activity..."

Fade to commercial.

Poetry and Irony

Poetry and irony are everywhere. You only have to look.

Consider the above picture. I've never seen this one, but it's been resuscitated in a current news story because of a landmark Mob trial in New York. The trial involves an "official" Mob boss who is giving testimony against another Mob boss. This is unprecedented.

The theme of the today's story is that food is a constant theme in the testimony. Well, we know people gotta eat, and Italians have made more than a living at it. It's a way of life. So why shouldn't some of the things that happen to people happen when there's food around? It's not like there are no cooking shows on TV these days. Or a food section in a paper that never had one.

The irony in the 1979 picture almost speaks for itself. I remember the graphic shot of the mobster who was plugged in the restaurant's garden, a shot Weegee would be credited with if he had still been alive. The freshly deceased is seen in contorted repose, with his cigar still firmly clenched in his mouth. The sheet has been pulled back. It's a mess.

But the one above is better. It's subtle. If you need help, just consider what you're looking at and read the sign above. "Outgoing orders" are a specialty.

You don't have to think like me, but it helps.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Bestseller (Of Sorts)

A tweet from @obitsman once again has set the mind down memory lane.  The latest has to do with a book that perhaps to no one's surprise has achieved a bestseller ranking. The book is about sex, and there is
A LOT of competition when it comes to that. I won't go into a time consuming review.  Follow the link and judge for yourself.

Fair warning. The story about the book will take longer to read than the book itself.  It is doubtful there will be a sequel, but a planet with 6 billion or so humans on it needs no sequels.

Years and years ago I heard or read one of those Monday newspaper statistics that the average teen-age boy thinks about sex every 14 seconds.  I do not remember at all how the measurement was arrived at.

These kind of "study results" still show up in the NYT, below the fold, and to me seem to be oddly prevalent on Mondays, even after all these years. The movers and shakers were likely doing something else over the weekend other than making news, so the paper still needs to report on something. Memorably, I also once read of Baltimore school children having trouble digesting milk.

When I read the '14 second finding' I think I was past my teen-age years, so I didn't haul out a stopwatch and see if it might be true. I figured it could be, however.

And given that, I concluded males are not given enough credit for advancing in life, probably graduating high school, maybe completing college, even achieving an advanced degree, working, marriage, perhaps children raised successfully, or close enough that it counts--like in horseshoes--all those things achieved while being distracted at least several times an hour by variations on a constant thought.

Even slowing the interval down, you have to admit, like the lyric in 'My Fair Lady,' "by and large, we are a marvelous sex."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jacket (Not) Required

The WSJ recently published a piece on the jacket/tie wearing habits and requirements of men around town. It has certainly changed. As you might expect, there are still places where both are required, but most have more often than not loosened their previous requirements to at least requiring a jacket, open collar or not. It's a great piece for anyone who does remember when people used to look at least a little dressier.

Pictures in the story feature probably the two most elegantly attired men about town: the writers Tom Wolfe and Guy Talese. Both are legendary natty dressers, and both are at least 79 years old. The devotion to their look will completely pass. But they'll be wearing suits right to the end. And a little beyond the end, for sure.

Not all is slovenly, however. Picture the talking heads of NFL football. There is a distinct competition going on with pocket squares on the Fox broadcast. Man, those guys can be sharper than Emeril's cutlery. And Tony Soprano wasn't without a pocket square, either. John Gotti, the Dapper Don, certainly cut a sharp courtroom presence with his suits, pockets squares, and double-pressed trousers. And basketball coaches? Male and female are outfitted to the nines. Especially college. Nice to see people with no visible tattoos.

Historically, there have been some slobs that stick out. When Jean Claude Talbot was a NY Ranger coach in the late 70s he seemed to be wearing pajamas behind the bench. The team then didn't seem to be wearing skates, but that's another story.

Frank Sinatra is said to become nearly violent if someone was in his presence who wasn't at least sporting a jacket. Willie Nelson stayed in a limo when asked to come into the NY Athletic Club. He balked at having to wear anything that resembled a jacket and tie just to go through the revolving doors. Times change. Clubhouse admission to a NY thoroughbred racetrack once required a jacket. My friend was once somewhat chased and made to wear a loaner jacket. It was hot. He carried it.

The WSJ story also shows a picture of a loaner jacket closet at the "21" Club restaurant. Courtrooms apparently don't require a basic dress code. Consider the current trial going on where a Mafia boss is giving testimony for the Federal prosecutor in the trail of another Mafia-linked defendant. The witness for the prosecution, Joseph C. Massino is described in news accounts as the first "official" Mafia boss to give testimony. ("Official" seems like a strange word to attach to the individual, but the NYT seems to insist. It's almost as if his name and picture appeared in an annual report.)

Mr. Massino is described as eschewing not only a jacket and a tie, but apparently a shirt with buttons. He took the witness stand "dressed in a black and gray jogging suit with a white T-shirt visible beneath." Full disclosure of his circumstances should include that he is currently serving several consecutive life sentences and is hoping to avoid a death penalty in another trial. Shopping may have been logistically out of the question. And no loaner jacket closet.

But in giving testimony as the first "offical" Mafia boss to do so against Mr. Basciano, another Mafia member, Mr. Massino is certainly guilty of two code transgressions, only only of which has to do with clothes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dead Wood at Aqueduct's Wood

And that's Uncle Mo,
He's movin' kinda slow,
With a lot more left to go.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Last Words

It takes a good obituary writer, as well as a colorful subject, to close the piece with something more memorable than the subject is no longer with us. A well placed one liner, generally at the end of the piece, will ensure even greater immortality.

The combination of Douglas Martin's piece on Ned McWherter, a popular Tennesee governor, and Mr. McWherter's apparently own outsized personality, create a memorable obituary closing.

Mr. McWherter seemed destined to become what he did, perhaps because of his physical size and personality, but also because of an early vocation that followed leaving several universities. After work in a shoe factory, he became a traveling shoe salesman in Tennesee. If Mr. McWherter's further life story through the obituary were set to music, Dolly Parton would sing it.

Ned, with what seems like the characteristic humility that can only come from confident people, basically predicted that no matter who you were, the attendance at your funeral is going to be guided by the weather.

But it's even better when you read how he said it.

Merkel Media

To continue to prove the point I made in a blog entry of December 2, 2010, Anna Merkel's picture is a mainstay of reporting the news from Germany. Ms. Merkel is of course the current Chancellor of Germany, but one whose hold on the job appears to be weakening.

As if to prove it is weakening, the newspapers are drawing metaphors that her government is limping as much as she is after her elective (get it?) knee surgery.

It hasn't been counted how many times her picture has appeared in the WSJ between the prior blog entry and this one, but it has been almost daily--on and off crutches.

Stay tuned. If the government recovers, she'll be seen on a rehab's treadmill.


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Corner Pocket

There's a bit of eeriness in reading what was written about someone 40 years ago and now finding that they fairly recently passed away, and realizing that what you read and have now re-read was actually enough to form the basis for their brief, written sendoff.

For me, this was certainly the case when I pulled out of my archives a 'Sports of the Times' piece by Robery Lipsyte who wrote about Bill Maloney, an adept three cushion billiard player who wrapped up a tournament at New York's McGirr's pool, billiard hall by trouncing the opposition--my friend included--giving away "spots" to try and level the playing field.

The tournament took place in early June 1971 and the piece appeared in the paper June 17, 1971. You'll have to either see me, or go to that place called a library to get an archival database link to the well-crafted story of Bill Maloney's life up to that point. Pool and billiards are distinctly different games that only look alike to people who see no distinction in anything.

Billiards is played on a felt covered table that has no pockets, with a cue ball, and two object balls. Pool, or pocket billiards, is played on a nearly similar table, but one that has six pockets to swallow any of 15 accurately hit object balls, and perhaps the cue ball, if you goof up. Keeping the cue ball out of the belly of a pocket will improve your chances of winning.

There even seems to be some evidence that pool halls were really billiard halls that became repositories of the betting slips, or policy numbers that were 'pooled' in a central place before being passed on for further distribution up the chain of command that governed the illegal, but highly popular and lucrative activity of playing the daily number.

Billiards was always seen as the purer game over pocket pool. Certain sin and corruption awaited those in River City, I-O-WA when Professor Harold Hill pointed out that the billiard hall was now going to have a "pool" table installed. "Pool starts with 'P', and that rhymes with 'T', and that spells trouble." Hard to argue with the alphabet. This of course was in the musical 'Music Man,' but nonetheless reflected what was felt about the coming popularity of pool that catered to ball bangers and resembled bowling on a table. Lowlifes.

Billiards was popular in the Midwest. My mother's younger brother would rather play billiards than pool and first showed me the game on a pocketless table that was guided by a "diamond system" of markings, resembling arrowheads, on the tops of the side rails. William Hoppe was considered in higher esteem than Willie Mosconi, both champions, but one at billiards, the other at pool.

Into the rarefied air of billiards floated Bill Maloney. I've been a NYT reader for many, many years, and know thay never write about billiard or pool players with any regularity, and certainly didn't often make them subjects of the 'Sports of the Times' column. Add to this the story-telling ability of the Lipsyte piece, and my own connection to having seen the player in the action that gave birth to the story, well, you might understand why I've held onto the clipping for 40 years.

Re-reading it I was struck by details I had so long ago forgotten about. Bill Maloney, slightly older than us, went to Stuyvesant High school. My friend and I did as well. Bill lived in Manhattan, as we did at the time. Bill spent time at Julian's Billiard Academy, a 14th street slight-walkup emporium hard by the Academy of Music, a former opera house, theater, turned movie theater that have all long ago disappeared into new bricks.

Julian's had the same look as Ames, the backdrop for the movie 'The Hustler' and even McGirr's. Dark places, whose tables were lit by low hanging lamps and ringed with high strings of abacus beads for score keeping. The high tension wires that would tell the tale of who was winning.

While my friend and I knew of and played at Julian's, we practiced our craft at Broadway Billiards, closer to my friend's home. Broadway was under the vast penny arcade at 52nd and Broadway. It was run by Mr. Monaco and was bright, clean, and basically free of any "characters," basically because Mr. Monaco didn't tolerate it.

There were many pool tables, and eventually a few billiard tables. Pool tournaments were held there and we watched several of the old guard face off for games of 150 point straight pool tournaments. Never nine ball. The arcade and pool hall are gone, long ago replaced by the Novotel Hotel and tears.

I never became good at either billiards, or pool, but my friend did. He didn't hustle, he didn't gamble on it, but he did excel at it. The assembled would never even play him straight pool, for time, even up. And remember, at this point we were both in high school. Dennis, ever the competitor, took up three cushion billiards, somewhat like a violinist would take up the piano. Just to find out.

He didn't come close to the skill level needed for tournament play, but did enter the tornament at McGirr's because he was always confident about anything he ever did. He got an automatic five spot from Maloney in a 15 point match. And while Dennis did put together a bit of a run, he was absolutely no match for Maloney, who may have won the match at 15-8, the spot included.

It was great theater, and it was even more fun to later see the whole event turn into a column I've long treasured. The Internet and Google brought me up-to-date with Bill Maloney. He passed away in 2009. There are some simple, short sendoffs that will likely stay there as long as there is an Internet. There is also a picture of Bill showing that he really didn't seem to change much since his appearance in 1971. He still had the choir-boy looks, and was as lithe-looking as when we saw him wordlessly demolish the opposition, including my friend.

Friday, April 1, 2011

MMA - Mixed Marital Arts

My routine has changed a bit lately. I sleep a little later, and I can sometimes be seen in public after 8 P.M. This has allowed me to take in a few of those writer presentations that pop up, generally in New York, and generally sponsored by Barnes and Noble, The Nation's Bookseller.

The most recent of these outings was Wednesday night, at the Tribeca Barnes and Noble, on Warren Street, near Greenwich Avenue. This is an area slightly north of 9/11's ground zero, and is gaining a look of respectability.

On the way to the BN store I passed Park Place and looked west, from Church Street. There, plain as day was a store front's sign that proclaimed it was the Dakota Roadhouse. Normally, this wouldn't have meant a thing to me, but that was the name of a recent winning horse at Aqueduct when I was in attendance two visits ago. I even blogged about it, since the horse won in such stirring, come-from-behind fashion and made people at a table near us in the dining room appear in the winner's circle. No one had to ask them to smile for the camera.

Spotting that there were construction worker types outside the establishment smoking I somewhat assumed it was a bar. It is. It looks like a Blarney Stone, with a new name. Certainly not a fern bar. I thought about showing off to someone inside that I knew the bar's mascot had lately won a race at Aqueduct. I didn't, however. I figured I was too late for the celebration, and I didn't need to use the bathroom. Taking a picture with my cell phone closed my recognition of the Dakota Roadhouse.

The gathering at the Tribeca Barnes and Noble was a nice affair that promoted the recent release of 'At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing,' an anthology of boxing sportswriting through the ages. Living and deceased writers are represented in the book, and some of the living ones were on the stage: Pete Hamill, Robert Lipsyte, Mike Lupica, Colum McCann, George Kimball and Leonard Gardner. All had something to do with what was inside the book.

Nice introductions, with each participant asked to tell a 'boxing story.' The well-rehearsed ad libs were nearly all funny, some laced with memories of their fathers, mixed with some poignancy. Pete Hamill really does sound like the Pete Hamill you hear in dated, or recent interview outtakes that may pop up on Public television. It's a deep, sonorous voice that comes from a crinkled, hooded-eye visage that has seen a lot, and seems to remember most of it.

All the recollections were good, but one comment was the best, coming from Mr. Hamill, seemingly unconnected to anything that has just been said. Pete remarked that he had absolutely no use for watching mixed martial arts (MMA) contests. They reminded him of weddings he used to go to, "especially those between Italians and Irish."

And when you type the words, you realize that 'martial' and 'marital' have the same letters, just in a slightly diferent order.

It's our world, and we're all entitled to remember it as we like.