item 1 >>> Couple of years ago I noticed the influx of Latin American baseball players will first names beginning with Y. According to a prof at University of Miami, this fad (and it’s for both sexes) got started in Cuba, where just about everything was controlled by the state except what you named your kid. This resulted in all sorts of creative baby names, and the Y-names might have been inspired by Russian names, like Yuri and Yevgeny. I believe the first in the Bigs was Yorvit Torrealba  (Venezuela) in 2001. Then came Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico) 2004, Yuniesky Betancourt (Cuba) 2005, and Yusmeiro Petit (Venezuela) 2006.

item 2 >>> But to me, the father of the craze is Ugueth Urtain Urbina, who debuted with the Expos in 1990. He’s also from Venezuela, and has 2 brothers named Ulises Utah Urbina and Ulmer Ulses Urbina. Unfortunately, the ex-ballplayer UUU is now serving 24 years in prison in his home country for attempted murder. And the great-great-grandfather of the fad has to be Yale Murphy, who played briefly in the 1890s.

item 3 >>> And while we’re at it, the Russian connection in Cuba includes 2 key factors: many there learn to speak Russian, and doctors on loan from Russia are common…and some deliver babies. Plus, Cuban doctors are “exported” to other Caribbean nations, hence the Dominican Republic’s Vladimir Guerrero, among others.

item 4 >>> When I was a kid, and you too probability, Hallowe’en loot went into a brown paper bag, or a trick-or-treat bag with handles and orange and black Hallowe’en decorations on it. Then came the plastic jack-o-lanterns, and mostly today it’s pillow cases. One tip: if your kid wakes up the next morning with a splitting head-ache, he probably slept on a Tootsie Roll…check that pillow case!

item 5 >>> Interesting article in the Nov. issue of Smithsonian magazine about the infamous 1830 murder of Capt. Joseph White in Salem. Not as well-known as the Lizzie Borden axe murders (which came later), but it’s said Daniel Webster’s stirring summation for the prosecution influenced the writing of both Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. BTW, I was gratified to be able to more-or-less instantly call to mind the Lizzie Borden town: Fall River…but read on…

item 6 >>> “No, you can’t chop your Papa up in Massachusetts, Massachusetts is a far cry from New York.” From that wonderful song by the Chad Mitchell Trio, on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wlO-J0v9ZY. Turns out they didn’t write it tho, it comes from a Broadway show “New Faces of 1952,” as part of a larger production number called “The Lizzie Borden Hoedown.” You might read somewhere that Paul Lynde sang the song, but that’s not true…he was in the show, but in that number he had just a small role as the Judge. Also on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qim5xxf4-2Y.  Also, it was her step-mother, not mother, and she was acquitted. Case unsolved to this day.

Item 7 >>> Not for nothing, but Elizabeth Montgomery of “Bewitched” fame played her in the 1975 film “The Legend of Lizzie Borden.” A genealogist claims Elizabeth and Lizzie are 6th cousins once removed. Altho they were born 73 years apart, that’s plausible, since cousins of the same generation can differ in age by 60 years, and once removed means 2 generations.

item 8 >>> Wait a minute, by how many years? OK, lets work it out using extreme but still possible ages. A woman gives birth to Alice when she’s 13, and Zoe when she’s 43, so these sibs are separated by 30 years. If Alive has a child when she’s 13, and Zoe has a child when she’s 43, the resulting cousins differ in age by 60 years.

Item 9 >>> And one more thing…North Shore folks might wonder why there are places called Hathorne, but the writer was Nathaniel Hawthorne. That’s an easy one…he was born July 4, 1804 in Salem. His family name was Hathorne, but he added the W, supposedly to disassociate himself from the family’s skeleton in the closet: John Hathorne was a judge during the Salem Witch Trials.

item 10 >>> Jeez, nothing’s ever simple, is it? He wasn’t the first in the family to add the W, altho some, like his parents, saw no need to. There’s even evidence that the original name in England had the W. There is some scholarly disagreement about how his name was pronounced…apparently he had started using the W in college, but was still nick-named Hath. New York/New England connection…the Milburn Hawthorne collection at St. Lawrence University. Cool, except there’s no such person as Milburn Hawthorne…it’s the Ulysses Sumner Milburn Collection of Hawthorniana…

Wicked Ballsy

Nice vintage Hallowe’en image…and I know some people are irked, as I am, by Christmas traditions and accouterments being adapted for Hallowe’en, but in the fact is, in the old days, along with “Jolly,” they’d also wish “Merry Hallowe’en”…I’m just slayin’…

big chief shameless plug-in-the-face

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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