#194: Fresh Up Freddie Sez…

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194.1  So what’s Fresh up Freddie have to do with anything? He was a cartoon spokescritter for 7Up, created by the Disney studios for their prime time TV series Zorro…debuting in October, 1957. And it’s interesting to consider how our ideas about the past differ from the way things really were at the time. It’s fair to say that today Zorro is considered a children’s show…and for its 2 seasons it did air at 8pm, early enough for most schoolchildren. Yet the 7Up commercials, many of which you can see on YouTube, were aimed at adults and older teens…despite the fact that soft drinks were one of the few consumer goods kids could purchase on their own. Then again, one of the earliest sponsors of The Flintstones was Winston cigarettes!

194.2  But the reason Fresh Up Freddie pops up today is his catch-phrase…”Right now you’re probably asking yourself…” And right now you’re probably asking yourself if I’ve said all I care to about step-cousins…and the answer is: almost. Because when I was rooting around the Yahoo! Answers website, I found several posts worth commenting on…which is what we’ll do today…starting with…

inset 1194.3  Here we assume that the cousin grandpa married was his 1st cousin, giving us the diagram on the left side of Chart 693. Your grandpa’s 2nd wife B is your dad’s step-mother, so to that extent she is your step-grandmother. They state that B is also their 3rd cousin, which is wrong, but in an interesting way. It has been my experience that people who make the mistake of thinking the child of their 1st cousin is their 2nd cousin have not thought out the implication of this mistake…namely that this would also make your parent’s 1st cousin your 2nd cousin. Likewise, calling your 1st cousin’s grandchild your 3rd cousin makes your grandparent’s 1st cousin also your 3rd cousin.

chart 693

194.4  But this person here has grasped that concept…presumably considering C their 2nd cousin, along with D  of course their 1st cousin. It’s interesting simply to see this cousin mistake taken back to past generations…usually it’s made going forward to succeeding generations.

chart 694

194.5   And this person then carries the cousin mistake forward to his generation in a consistent manner…X, which he calls his “step-auntie,” would be his father’s step-sibling and also his father’s 3rd cousin, so his 4th cousin. And X‘s child Y would then be his 5th cousin. As I said, wrong but at least consistent! I took the trouble to draw all this out to emphasize once again that this cousin mistake gives you an even/odd cousin system…members of your dad’s generation, like C and X, are your 2nd and 4th cousins respectively…even. and Y are members of your generation, and as such are your 1st and 5th cousins…and C‘s child would be your 3rd cousin…odd. The point being that when somebody calls their 1st cousin’s child their 2nd cousin, they don’t realize that in one fell swoop they’ve established this awkward even/odd system…I’m just sayin’…

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194.6  So in Chart 695, multi-godzillionaire A wants to leave her vast fortune to Z…and wonders which of 3 ways to describe lucky Z would be best…answer: none of them!

chart 695

With something as important as a will, you want to identify beyond all possible doubt the exact person you’re talking about…full name, address at the time the will is written, and a detailed description of how this person is related to you. Anything less, and you’re asking for trouble in probate. Trust me, if you left everything to “my 2nd cousin,” intending that to mean your 1st cousin’s child, there isn’t a court in the land that wouldn’t give it all to your parent’s 1st cousin’s child. D’oh!

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194.7  “…nothing wrong with the face”…they almost certainly meant “fact” not “face”…back in the day there used to be such a thing as proofreading. Which is not to say a pleasant countenance isn’t always appreciated…let alone the minor detail that this isn’t your step-2nd cousin but your step-1st cousin once removed descending.

chart 696

The part I like is where they lose control of their pronouns, and have their grandfather marrying his great grandmother…replace “his” with “my cousin’s” and you’re back on track.

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194.8  What’s cool here is the mention of a brother who is on another side of the family…thus he can’t be a full brother, with the same parents as you, since in that case there is no other side of the family. Could he be a half-brother? Possibly, but then one might think he could be at least a little bit on your side, which he evidently isn’t.

chart 697

I’d reckon he’s your step-brother…and with step-brothers like that, who needs — oh, never mind. But you’re right…none of the steps are blood relatives of yours, so go for it, sez me.

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194.9  I’m commenting on this only to point out the superfluous use of the word usually…which you see a lot these days, along with its step-double half-2nd cousin generally. I came across this recently on Uncle Wiki, where is was said: Expletive infixation is a process by which an expletive or profanity is inserted into a word, usually for intensification.”  What they’re talking about, using mild oaths, are such constructions as “in-frickin’-credible” and “un-blasted-believable.”

194.10  One of the most famous comes from My Fair Lady, in the song “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”…”abso-bloomin’-lutely.” Now where Wiki says “usually for intensification” …this means sometimes NOT for intensification, but for something else…and I’ve wracked my brains trying to think what what that something else might be…and come up dry. Likewise, “step generally means married into the family” means other times step means something else…but what could that be? How do you get a step without somebody somewhere in your family being hitched? Search me.

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194.11 Sure, it’s easy to chuckle at people who don’t know what removed means…here they think removed can somehow move horizontally…which it can’t, only vertically. Let’s just call this an entertainingly mistaken shot in the dark.

chart 698

Now by “technical term” they mean, whether they know they do or not, the genealogical jargon or short-hand for a complicated (agreed!) relationship. And the suggestion in the box at the bottom is utterly sound…just spell it out for what it is and be done with it. I would make just one modification: “step-son of my cousin’s aunt on the other side of the family.”  Because after all, your cousin’s aunt could be your aunt, or even your mother, nez pah?

inset 7

194.12  okay, I’m not a 15 year old girl, but I can still draw pretty pictures. And I hope nobody minds that we assume cousin means 1st cousin…and further, her step-cousin’s cousin is a cousin by blood. Recall that there are 3 different things that can conceivably be called your step-1st cousin…

chart 699

…and here they are…X is the one you like. Notice that in Chart 699 I got sloppy and made you a boy instead of a girl…but then this is 2014, so I guess nobody is supposed to notice “that”…if you get my drift, and I think you do. Anyway, X is of no blood relation to you, so you’re in the clear as far as that goes. You’re being a minor, I dunno how far that should actually go, but there you go…

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194.13  And finally…one of the challenges in helping people with their kinship queries is in figuring out what they’re talking about in the first place. The “2nd cousin mistake” is so rampant that you have to watch out for it…still, I will assume they are using it correctly unless there is evidence to the contrary. Here, interestingly enough, there is evidence they are using “2nd cousin” correctly…it’s slim, but it’s there.

chart 700

It hinges on the wording “my 2nd cousin’s mom”…using 2C correctly, that would be your parent’s 1st cousin…incorrectly, it would be your 1st cousin. And in the latter case, why not just say that your 1st cousin got married while you were dating the new spouse’s daughter, whom you now consider some sort of step-cousin to you. So it suggests they’re using 2C correctly…but like I said, it’s slim. But correct or not, step-cousins no matter how you construe them are simply not blood relations and everybody ought to quit worrying about it…and that’s pretty much been today’s message. Next week, we rekindle the Coyfield and McHat Feud…woo hoo!


wicked ballsy


Back to Fresh up Freddie…above are the stars of the 1944 Disney film The Three Caballeros…Donald Duck…Brazilian parrot Jose Carioca…and Mexican rooster Panchito.  And as you can see below, the look of Freddie was patterned very closely after Panchito.


So why is it often said that Freddie is a combination of Panchito and another character from the movie, the Aracuan Bird? Altho he has limited screen time, Aracuan steals every scene he’s in. A frenetic cross between Daffy Duck and Robin Williams, he went on to star with Donald in 2 more short features…and see below, he looks nothing like the Brazilian speckled chachalaca, locally called the aracuana…nor does he bear the slightest resemblance to Freddie…so what gives?


Well, I had the presence of mind to actually watch the aforementioned cartoons, and the mystery was solved. The Aracuan Bird has a signature song that includes an infectious hoot which is similar altho not identical to Fresh up Freddie’s trademark “doot’en, doot’en, doot’en!”check here…and reinforcing the Disney connection, in this commercial Fred’s adversary is none other than Mickey Mouse’s old nemesis, Black Pete.


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#193: Exploding Heads

193.1  Today’s blog is utterly gratuitous. You can skip it if you want to…come back next week…no hard feelings. I’m doing it just because I want to…and can. Actually, it’s an exaggeration…things will get rather complicated, but it’s all built up one steep at a time, piece by piece, relative by relative. I realistically expect all heads to survive intact.

193.2  But the thought I had was this: take the 3 types of step-1st cousins, put them all on one chart, then see how they are related to each other. Again, as I’ve been saying for the past several weeks, the idea of step-relations beyond the immediate family of parents/children/siblings is probably “taking it too far” for a lot of people…like calling your wife’s sister’s husband your brother-in-law-in-law or something. Still, what happens if we do take it too far..

inset 1193.3  To start, we’ll take the 3 kinds of step-1st cousins and label them X, Y, and Z.

X…your parent’s step-sibling’s child
Y…your parent’s sibling’s step-child
Z…your step-parent’s sibling’s child

193.4  And just to be absolutely clear, all marriages will be labeled as 1st or 2nd…Chart 688…then it’s just a matter of wending our way thru the branches. There’s an old-timey word you don’t hear much these days…wend.

chart 688

193.5  From X‘s point of viewY is his father’s step-brother’s step-son…Z is his father’s step-brother’s second wife’s nephew. And no, Z isn’t C‘s step-nephew…simply C‘s nephew by marriage

193.6  From Y‘s point of viewX is his step-father’s step-brother’s son…Z is his step-father’s brother’s second wife’s nephew.

193.7  And from Z‘s point of viewX is his step-uncle’s step-brother’s son…and Y is his aunt’s husband’s brother’s step-son. Again, C is in no way Z‘s step-uncle, since C is neither Z‘s parent’s step-brother…nor is C the brother of Z‘s step-parent. C is merely Z‘s aunt’s husband…nothing more.

193.8  That wasn’t so bad…or was it? Except to point out that we’re beyond steps here…on the one hand steps of steps…and on the other hand relationships that can only be described as “by marriage” since there are no steps directly involved…as with C and Z. Do we dare proceed with a mass diagram of step-2nd cousins? Yes, but for a different reason…recall the 5 kinds of step-2nd cousins…

1…your step-parent’s 1st cousin’s child
2…your step-grandparent’s sibling’s grandchild
3…your grandparent’s step-sibling’s grandchild
4…your grandparent’s sibling’s step-grandchild
5…your parent’s 1st cousin’s child

193.9  …yielding Chart 689, which might almost be described as magnificent, in its own lugubrious sort of way…

chart 689

193.10  But instead of relating  1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 to each other…which you’re perfectly free to do if you like…I’ll instead use Chart 689  to demonstrate what I meant last week when I said that these types of step-2nd cousins compliment each other by pairs…they are opposite ends of one relationship. That is, if you have a type 1, to him you are a type 5…if you have a type 5, to him you are a type 1. Ditto with types 2 and 4…and 3’s are all 3’s to each other.

193.11 These charts spell that out…and to analyze one example, in Chart 690, what 5 is to you, you are to 1. Starting with you (green line) and 1 (orange line) you go up to a grandparent…then to the grandparent’s sibling…then to the sibling’s child…then to the child’s step-child. The green and orange lines don’t look exactly the same because in some cases I have diagrammed both parents, in other cases just one parent, but if you follow it along, you’ll see the paths are identical.

chart 690 chart 691 chart 692

193.12  And if this reminds you of how you are a spousal BIL to your fraternal BIL, and a fraternal to your spousal…well that’s as it should be. Next week, we wrap up steps with a collection of notions and sundries…back in 7…

wicked ballsy


Uncle Grandpa is the star of a bizarre animated TV series of the same name…he is described as being either the uncle or grandfather of everyone on Earth…a neat trick, but then it’s only a cartoon show, nez pah? And yes, one episode features his counterpart, Aunt Grandma. In a similar vein are…the title of the first Make Room for Daddy episode: “Uncle Daddy”…a concoction from the Pogo comic strip, Aunt Granny’s Bitter Brittle Root, said to cure the cold robbies and whim-whams…heck, even Uncle Junior from The Sopranos. 


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#192: Watch That Second Step…It’s a Lulu!

192.1  Today we get into some heavy-duty kinship analysis…but it will demonstrate a valuable point…that being, as you expand your family tree, you’ll find various relations can occur in more than one way, which might not be immediately obvious. For example, last week I mentioned double 1st cousins can exist in only one basic configuration on your family tree….double 2nd cousins, in 3 ways…double 3rd cousins, in 6 ways, etc. And that’s what will happen today with…

192.2  …step-2nd cousins…And TBT, I don’t recommend you try this at home…it’s merely an academic exercise, shall we say. Because as we saw last week, there is ambiguity in steps as you move beyond the nuclear step-family of parents, children, siblings. Step-1st cousins can occur in 3 distinct ways…it’s a connection between 2 people, no argument there…does it raise to the level of a relationship? In my opinion yes, but a tenuous one…all the more so for step-2nd cousins…and beyond.  

chart 680

192.3  But to give it a whirl…Chart 680 shows how we figure step-2nd cousins…and there are 2 interesting things to notice…

chart 681

In column B, I have re-written the definitions of step-1st cousin so that each contains the words parent, sibling, and child…the definitions in column A did not. And notice how “step-” (in yellow) migrates neatly down the 3 definitions. Now to get the definitions of step-2nd cousin in column C, we remember that 2nd cousins are the offspring of 1st cousins, just as 1st cousins are the offspring of siblings. So where it says “sibling” in column B, we replace that with “1st cousin” in column C…done and done…or are we?

inset192.4  The second definition of step-2nd cousin, highlighted to the left in yellow…does anything occur to you? If not, something would when you tried to diagram these out…step-1st cousin can mean 3 different things!  We now have 5 definitions for step-2nd cousin, not 3.


chart 682

192.5  So I’ve expanded the 3 to 5, and re-written the “new” 3 with grand- terminology. All that’s left to do is diagram them out…see them working in action! And just to be completely kosher, we’ll check that these really are step-2nd cousins. To do that, we’ll remove the step-relationship, indicated by the green arrow, and see what comes of it. In Chart 683  for example, we reconstruct the relationship assuming that the step-mother of YOU is actually YOU’s biological mother…and sure enough…

chart 683

chart 684

chart 685

chart 686

chart 687

192.6  Particularly nice to see how the green arrow indicating the origin of the step-relation migrates up one side of the tree, then down the other. This is simply mathematics’ way of telling us that the 1st type compliments the 5th type, the 2nd type compliments the 4th, and the 3rd type compliments itself…nice how we can all get along, nez pah? Next week, brains hurt and heads explode…don’t miss it!

wicked ballsy


BTW…based on the above reasoning, I believe there are 7 kinds of step-3rd cousins…I leave that as an exercise for you, dear reader…and if you care to tackle it, gold star for you, old school style...


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#191: Don’t Step on the Cousins

191.1   First off, we must ask if there is such a thing as a “step-cousin.” Just because you can say it…put the words “step” and “cousin” together…doesn’t mean you’re referring to anything real. I mean, take “step-spouse”…that would be the husband or wife of your —- your what? See, nothing comes.

191.2  But honestly, it’s reasonable to think that a step-cousin is something…after all, when you get a step-parent, that person has relatives…parents, siblings, children, uncles and aunts, grandparents, and of course, cousins…numbered and removed. So to get the lay of the land…to see what the hoi polloi  thinks…I went to Yahoo! Answers and searched questions mentioning step-cousins…which we will assume are step-1st cousins unless stated otherwise.

191.3 I looked at the first 10 “pages” of questions and answers…86 in total…and here are the results…

inset 1

It’s not surprising that almost half didn’t specific precisely what a step-cousin was supposed to be…most of the questions were about dating and/or whatever-ing a step-cousin. Only a few were concerned with what a step-cousin actually is…and they did manage to correctly identify the 3 kinds of step-cousins…altho none of the posters thought it could be more than just one single thing. Of the 10 others, each was different, and each was wrong…we’ll look at those, just for the fun of it, in a moment.

chart 674

191.4  type 1…Nephew of Step-Parent…This is pretty straightforward…you have a new mother, step-mother A…she has a sister, your step-aunt…and she also has a nephew, her sister’s son, your step-cousin. If A were your biological mother, her nephew would be your biological 1st cousin, so that checks, as far as it goes. The fact that there are 2 other kinds of step-cousins suggests we’re taking steps a little too far, but you’re perfectly free to.

191.5  In Chart 674 and the succeeding charts, your blood relatives are labelled in black, all others in yellow…also, people in green are not specifically mentioned in the original question and answers…I’ve put them there to further analyze the connections. Here, B is your step-sibling…and his 1st cousin is your step-cousin…just another way to define it.

chart 675

191.6  type 2…Uncle’s Step-Son…Again, if this person were your uncle’s biological son, he would be your 1st cousin…but he’s a step-son so your step-cousin. And he is also your cousin B‘s step-brother. Plus it’s complimentary…if somebody is your type 2, you are his type 1, and vice versa.

chart 676

191.7  type 3…Parent’s Step-Sibling’s Son…Finally, Chart 676  takes it back a generation. A is your father’s step-father…his son B is your father’s step-brother…and when brother’s have children, those children are 1st cousin. In this case, the brothers are not biological brothers but step-brothers, so the cousins are step-cousins. And unlike the other 2 types, type 3  is completely reciprocal….see today’s wicked ballsy.

191.8  At this point you might ask: if last week we found there were 2 kinds of step-uncles, and a step-cousin is a step-uncle’s son, why are there 3 types of step-cousins, not 2? Because types 1 and 2 are thru step-uncles…type 3 is thru a biological uncle. The moral is: as you extend relatives, both direct and collateral, you also increase the number of ways a given relationship can come about. For example, there is only one way you can have double 1st cousins…but for double 2nd cousins, there are 3 ways…and for double 3rd cousins, 6 ways.

191.9  As to the other 10 ways folks at Yahoo! Answers thought you could have a a step-cousin, they are a mixed bag for sure…and as I said, none of them are step-cousins….OK, one is a maybe…can you guess which?

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191.10 Spouse’s Cousin…Marriage creates 2 types of non-biological relationships…in-laws and steps. For example, if I were to marry a woman, her mother is my mother-in-law…her son is my step-son. Being a native speaker of English does not insulate you from getting these two confused, as we see here. Your spouse’s cousin is properly your cousin-in-law…altho why not just keep it simple and say: my spouse’s cousin. K.I.S.S.

191.11 …Mom’s BF’s Niece…Here they’re jumping the gun..no steps exist until somebody gets hitched. Were the Mom to marry the boyfriend, he would become your step-father…his children your step-siblings…and his nieces and nephews your step-cousins. The important thing is this: traditionally, you could not have a father and a step-father both alive…a step-relationship came about thru the death of a parent. Today of course, you can have both…and if you’re a child, the question of where you’re living becomes important. If you’re living with your father, your mother’s new husband is acting less as a step-father than if you were living with your mother. In other cases, one’s step-father might be the only father you’ve ever known, and to you be considered just your father, not really your step.

191.12  As things get more complicated, there are no hard and fast rules…at the very least many people would consider only your parent’s current spouse as your step-parent…but others would say no, you can have 3 or 4 step-fathers, depending on how things went, On the other hand, some people might consider none of their mother’s subsequent husbands as their step-father, including the current one…and how about husbands she had before your father? Can a live-in be considered as step-parent? They can certainly function as one. So you’re pretty much free to categorize them as you see fit.

191.13  …Uncle’s Adopted Son…In 191 blogs, I don’t think Related How Again? has ever touched upon adopted or foster children…for the simple reason that genealogy is primarily concerned with blood ties…and blood ties result when 2 different lines are united in an act of procreation. There is no procreation directly involved in adoption…even tho you can adopt a relative, obviously. Still, genealogy can trace other types of  family ties and connections.. “Step” is simply the wrong way to say it…”adopted” means adopted…and if you call your adopted brother simply your “brother,” that’s fine.

chart 677

191.14  …Uncle’s New Wife’s Nephew…which is to say, your uncle’s step-nephew. Now in Chart 677, X is your 1st cousin…Y is X‘s step-brother…and Y‘s 1st cousin Z could be considered X‘s step-cousin. The question is, could Z also be your step-cousin? Well, think of it this way: was the nephew of Uncle A‘s first wife also your step-cousin? They couldn’t be, because before the second marriage, there was no step-relationship between anybody! What’s more, some might argue that it’s a stretch to consider your Uncle A‘s step-son your step-cousin (as we are doing here), let alone Uncle A‘s step-nephew.

191.15  In the end, it’s how a question of how far you want to extend it…what if has a step-brother…or step-cousin, thru his father C or even thru his mother? They’re surely something to Z‘s cousin Y, but are they anything to you or to X? It’s the same sort of thing that happens with siblings-in-law. What for example would your wife’s sister’s husband be to you? Some people do extend brother-in-law out that far…the husbands of 2 sisters are brothers-in-law. But many people don’t. So what about your wife’s sister’s husband’s brother?…and his wife…and her sister? It depends on where you draw the line, but the line does get drawn, nez pah?

chart 678

191.16  …half-brother’s cousin…This one’s tricky…because if you compare Charts 678 and 674…one has your half-brother, the other has your step-brother…but your “step-cousin” in 674 is in exactly the same spot on the tree as B is in 678…so shouldn’t B be your step-cousin as well? And the truth is, he could be…yup, this is the one maybe…it would all depend on the order of your father’s 2 marriages. For example…

674 678

Now in Chart 674, with the order of your father’s wives specified, A is your “new” mother…your step-mother, and all her relatives in a sense your step-relatives…certainly her son is your step-brother. But now in Chart 678, A is nothing more than your father’s first wife…she is not your current, new, or step-mother…really, she isn’t even your “old” mother, since when you came along she was no longer married to your father. Yes, her son is your half-brother because he shares a father with you…but your half-brother’s cousin B is like your first cousin’s cousins on the “other side”…thru a side of his family to which you aren’t related. It’s a connection of sorts, but no relationship.

chart 679

191.17  …father’s half-sister’s nephew…This one is also kind of tricky…until you realize that if A is your father’s half-sibling, then the parent B of A‘s nephew D is also your father’s half-sibling…so D is not your step-cousin but your half-cousin, just as C would be…and of course both C and D would be your father’s half-nephews.

191.18   …sister’s step-son…Here they’ve got the generations wrong…your sister’s step-son would be your step-nephew, not step-cousin.

191.19   …half-cousin…Once upon a time, half- did mean the same as step-. That’s because what we would call half and full brothers were the same…if they had the same father, that was enough…whether their mothers were the same or different didn’t matter. It was kinship figured patrilineally, thru the father’s line only. But now, centuries later, we figure kinship thru both the lines of both parents….and half- means thru just one line…full means thru both lines…and half- no longer means the same as step-, which doesn’t stop people from saying one when they mean they other. And finally…

191.20  …step-brother…and…1st cousin…In these 2 cases, it was clearly a slip-up…what they described was a step-brother in one question, a 1st cousin in the other…and in each case they mistakenly called that a “step-cousin.” They weren’t paying close attention…and accidents can happen in the best regulated families, sez me. Next week, since we’ve gone this far, we might as well take a look at step-2nd-cousins…caution: not for the squeamish!


wicked ballsy


Like I said…reciprocity…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#190: Steps by Step

inset 0190.1   Our system of kinship has 2 fundamental categories: relatives by blood and relatives by marriage. Can the relationships between 2 people be both? Yes indeed, as we saw last week with Mookie Wilson…his brother had a child, Preston…then Mookie married Preston’s mother, making Mookie both Preston’s uncle and step-father…and BTW, Preston considered Mookie the only father he’s ever known. So yes, there can be overlap. But that overlap can be tricky.

190.2  Within what I call the nuclear step-family…parents, children, siblings…one cannot be both blood and step. For parents: your step-mother is married to your biological father, but is not your biological mother…so by definition she can’t be both your biological mother and step-mother…because she isn’t your biological mother*. For children: your step-son is the biological child of your spouse, but not of you…so again, they can’t be both a biological child and a step-child to you.

*  …except that real life is messy. So for example your biological parents could have split up soon after you were born. Dad marries your step-mother, who raises you until you are a teenager…you have no contact with your real mother. Then your step-mother dies, and your Dad marries your real mother, who now functions as a step-mother…your “new” mother…even tho she is blood…get it?

190.3  But what happens when we extend step-relatives beyond the nuclear step-family? Could someone, for example, be both your biological uncle and your step-uncle? Well, since last week we had a case where a person’s biological grandparent and step-grandparent were the same person, owing to the fact that step-siblings had married…you’d think it could work for uncles…and you’d be right.

chart 669

190.4  One such possibility is Chart 669A…here Y had daughter B, X had sons A and CA married B and had you…then X married Y. Now C is your biological uncle, being your father’s brother. But C is also your mother’s step-brother, so in that sense your step-uncle. Please ignore the fact that your father is also your mother’s step-brother…it’ll be easier on your sanity, I think.

190.5  In Chart 669B, your father A marries your Aunt B, making her your step-mother…C is your biological uncle, being your mother’s brother…but he’s also now your step-uncle, being your step-mother’s brother…but here again, looked at that way, your mother X is also now your step-aunt…are you sure you want to extend steps beyond the nuclear family? Just askin’…

chart 670

190.6  Last week we looked at 2 different ways you could have a step-uncle…left side of Chart 670, Uncle C is a step-uncle because he’s your step-mother’s brother. I call this a self-step relationship since it comes about because you yourself are in a step-relationship. On the right side, Uncle C is your biological mother’s step-brother, so again your step-uncle. Con-step come from consanguine…meaning it is not you, but one of your relatives, that is in a step-relationship. It has been suggested to me that there might be yet another way…

chart 671

190.7  In Chart 671, your 1st cousin C is the son of your mother’s sister B. Suppose B divorces C’s father D and remarries…her new husband E is now cousin C’s step-father…does that also make E your step-uncle? Before you say yes, what was D? As the husband of your biological aunt you probably called him “uncle”…looked at that way, wouldn’t E now be just your  “uncle”…the same as D was? Or perhaps you’d say “uncle by marriage.” But this would be based on E‘s  relationship to your aunt, without regard to his relationship to you cousin. See the tangles that develop when you start expanding steps beyond the nuclear step-family? You’re free to of course…knock yourself out.

chart 672190.8  But this is a good time to recall some basics. In Chart 672, we’re assuming you marry a woman named B who has a son C by a previous marriage. Consider B’s father A…is he your father-in-law or your step-father? And what is C…your son-in-law or your step-son? Native speakers of English can parse in-laws versus steps fairly automatically…still, we do have 2 parallel systems of terminology…or 3 really, when you consider your biological aunt’s husband, whom most people again would address as “uncle”…but ultimately acknowledge as an “uncle by marriage”…certainly neither a step nor an in-law.

190.9  So where does this leave E in Chart 671? Would he be your “step-uncle by marriage”? This is what we here at Related How Again? call a connection, not a relationship. And not to gild the lily, but notice that in Chart 669A, A‘s father-in-law Y is also A‘s step-father…it can happen in the best of families, sez me.

190.10  And just to put steps into some historical context, check out this quote from The Mountain of Names: A History of the Human Family written by Alex Shoumatoff in 1985.


What’s important to realize here is that such a “marriage chain…of six marriages among seven people” would have been the result of deaths, not divorces. Today, one can have a biological mother and a step-mother both alive at the same time…this was almost never the case with our ancestors. It is notable that there were “families with an extremely dense and complex mix of natural and step-parents and full and half siblings”…and “[of the resulting children] some of them did not have any parents in common.”

190.11  And of course among the full and half-siblings would be step-siblings as well…but as is correctly pointed out, some of the children would ultimately not related to some of the others in any simple way, short of something like “my step-brother’s half-brother”…again, more of a connection than a relationship, as our kinship system would currently reckon it. Altho like anything else, that can change…today there is some impetus to refer to your half-sibling’s half-sibling…of no blood relation to you but on the “other side”…as your “quarter-sibling.” If the culture wants and needs it, the language will provide it. Next week…what the heck, we might as well tackle step-cousins…and coming soon: The Hatfields and McCoys Revisited.

wicked ballsy

chartt 673

Paralleling the 2 kinds of step-relatives, I distinguished in Related How Again #144 between the 2 kinds of sibling-in-laws….starting at 144.8. “Spousal” means you get it thru your spouse…you can’t have one without having a spouse, since A is your spouse’s sibling. “Fraternal” means you get it thru your sibling…you can’t have one without having a sibling, since B is your sibling’s spouse. If you are an unmarried only child, you can have neither type, nez pah?

That these really are 2 different things can be seen by the fact that A‘s parents in Chart 673 are your in-laws…but B‘s parents are not your in-laws…they are your sister’s. Spousal and fraternal siblings-in-law are actually the 2 ends of one single relationship…for example, to your spousal BIL A you are his fraternal BIL. Can 2 people be both to each other? Of course…it happens every time 2 siblings from one family marry 2 siblings from another family. Diagram it out if you don’t believe me…but I’d believe me…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#189: Kevin’s Kwestion

Here is an interesting kinship question for you.
My older brother’s ex-wife’s (Pam’s) parents’ names were Fred and Wanda.
After Fred’s mother and Wanda’s father passed away,
Fred’s father married Wanda’s mother and had a daughter named Elaine.
Fred and Wanda married and had two daughters named Pam and Teresa.
(1)  Elaine is Pam’s double half-aunt,
(2)  Pam’s parents are step-brother and step-sister,
(3)  Elaine is both Fred and Wanda’s half-sister,
(4)  and both of Pam’s living grandparents are also her step-grandparents.
(5)  Since Pam and Teresa are sisters, does that make them step first cousins as well?
(6)  Whenever Elaine used to introduce Fred and Wanda, she would say,
         “This is my brother Fred…he is married to my sister Wanda.”
(7)  Do I have all of these blood and step family connections correct?
(8)  What would be the blood and step relations between Teresa’s children and Elaine’s children?

189.1  The above is from a guy named Kevin, and an interesting tangle it is! I have numbered Kevin’s assertions and questions, and we will examine each in turn. But before I do that, let’s look at step-relations a little closer, perhaps in a way that never occurred to you. And I don’t actually know if any of this will be relevant to Kevin’s Kwestion, but it’s interesting nonetheless, sez me.

189.2  And we’ll proceed with a type of diagram that’s different from what I ordinarily use for steps. Chart 662A is typical…it could have come about in 2 ways: A and B had E, while C and D had G…then B and C had F. Or, B and C had F…then split up and had E and G respectively. The reason the chronology is important is that your non-biological step-parent is the current spouse of your biological parent, not a former spouse. In Chart 662A, we could show this by putting little 1’s and 2’s next to the double lines, indicating the chronological order of the marriages.

chart 662

189.3  But to analyze step-relationships themselves, I am going to use a different style of symbolism, Chart 662B. Here, a child is connected to its parents…to one parent by a direct line…to two parents by a line connected to the parents’ marriage double-line. And of course, it is now assumed that B and C are currently married.

189.4  So Chart 663A shows a step-relationship…B is E‘s biological mother…C is married to B but is not E‘s biological father…we then say C is E‘s step-father…and E is C‘s step-son. This is what we might call a nuclear step-relationship…because it involves the only the nuclear family…parents and child. And while B is certainly involved in this relationship, B still not a step-anything, is she? She is E‘s mother and C‘s wife…but not a step in any way.

chart 663

189.5  Chart 663B gives us a “Brady Bunch” scenario…this is still a nuclear step-relationship,  simply doubled…and introduces the idea of step-siblings. Now both B and C are step-parents, where in Chart 663A  only C was a step-parent…and E and G are properly called step-siblings. And altho it may seem ridiculously obvious, it’s still important to note that a person cannot have a step-sibling without having a step-parent.

189.6  This is important is because it answers the seemingly knotty question of whether half-siblings are also step-siblings. Looking back at Chart 662, E and F are half-siblings…they have the same mother B and different fathers A and C. In the case where B and C are currently married, Chart 662B, people often wonder if F and E are also step-siblings…reasoning that C is the biological mother of F, and C is not E‘s biological mother yet is married to E‘s biological father.

189.7  And we can now see clearly why the answer is no: to have a step-sibling, F must have a step-parent, and he does not! B and C are the only parents involved, and they are both the biological parents of F. Wow, that was easy…

189.8  One thing more: what I have called the nuclear step-family…parents, children, and siblings…might be looked upon by some people as being a true step-relationship. I will refrain from calling it that, but will opine that it is what people typically think of when talking about step-relations. And the trouble is, when you try to extend the concept of steps beyond these basics, you run into ambiguities. Take the example of the step-aunt/step-nephew relationship. It can occur in 2 distinct ways, as in Chart 664.

chart 664

189.9  In Chart 664A, C is your step-aunt why? Because she is the sister of your step-mother B. But in Chart 664B, C is your step-aunt for a different reason: because she is the step-sister of your biological mother B. Did you see that coming? In Chart 664A, I will call C your self-step-aunt…meaning your relationship to her results from you yourself being in a nuclear step-family. For Chart 664B, C is your con-step-aunt…meaning your relationship to her results from one of your relatives, somebody consanguine to you, but not you, being in a nuclear step-relationship…in this case, it’s your mother B who’s in step.

189.10  And now we see the difficulty with considering what is a “true” step…in Chart 664A, as we have seen, is your self-step-aunt, because it is you who are in a nuclear step-relationship. But to C, you are not her self-step-nephew, because she is not in a nuclear step-relationship…rather, it’s her sister B who is…therefore you are C‘s con-step-nephew. Opposite ends of the relationship between you and C are different kinds of steps…self- and con-. And with Chart 664B…here C is your con-step-aunt, since it is not you that is in the step-relationship, but your mother B. But to C, you are her self-step-nephew, since she is in a step-relationship, with your mother B.

189.11  If we were to say that only self-steps are “true” steps, then in Chart 664A, you would be related to C, but C wouldn’t be related to you…and vice versa in Chart 664B…you would not be related to C, but she would be related to you. And whatever else you might want in a kinship system, it’s fundamentally necessary that all relationships be reciprocal, or two-way…if I am your relative, you are my relative. The terms for each of us might be the same, as sibling/sibling or 1st cousin/1st cousin….or they might be different, as father/son or aunt/nephew…but we are each related to the other. So for any kind of step-relation to exist, both self-step and con-step-relations must exist. And without my invented terminology, there is ambiguity.

189.12   And perhaps this is why steps typically aren’t extended beyond parents and children…not even to grands…is your step-grandfather your step-father’s father…or your father’s step-father? There’s no way to know what you mean…or there was no way…now with self-‘s and con-‘s there is. At any rate, Kevin’s Kwestion has been patiently waiting, so let’s gnaw away at it, shall we?

189.13  Kev’s ex-sister-in-law Pam’s family started out like this…

chart 665

…then ended up like this, with Fred’s father and Wanda’s mother dead…yup, dead…not passed or deceased or anything else….old school spoken here, thank you.

chart 666

 189.14  (1)  Elaine is Pam’s double half-aunt. Correct…Elaine is the half-sister of Pam’s father Fred…and also the half-sister of Pam’s mother Wanda. I might be tempted to reserve the “double” terminology for cousins, and say Elaine is Pam’s half-aunt in 2 different ways…but it’s still true that Elaine is twice as closely related to Pam than if it were only one way.
189.15  (2)  Pam’s parents are step-brother and step-sister. Absolutely true…just like the Brady Bunch. And it’s funny that the how of it makes a difference to some people. Like if on the show, Greg eventually married Marcia, there’d be a hew and cry to be sure. But if Greg and Marcia met and married each other first…then their parents married…not so bad, right? And remember, on a later season episode, Mike’s dad did marry Carol’s mom…played by the same actors in old-folk makeup.

189.16  (3)  Elaine is both Fred and Wanda’s half-sister.  There’s no denying it…Fred and Elaine have the same mother but different fathers…Wanda and Elaine have the same father but different mothers.

189.17  (4)  and both of Pam’s living grandparents are also her step-grandparents. By the letter of the law this is correct…B is the step-father of Pam’s mother Wanda…C is the step-mother of Pam’s father Fred. Do people generally extend step-relation beyond what I have called the nuclear step-family…parents, children, siblings? Some do, some don’t. But consider this: multiple relationships between blood relatives are important because they mean the relatives are more closely related than they would be otherwise…for example, double 1st cousins are related by 1/4, as close as half-siblings…that’s a biological fact. The question is, of what value is a multiple relationship that is not a blood relationship?

189.18  And even beyond genetic considerations, double 1st cousins live lives that are different from “single” 1st cousins. For single 1st cousins, family reunions are either on their father’s side or their mother’s side, and therefore involve 2 different sets of cousins on the guest lists. For double 1st cousins, there are some cousins who show up at both gatherings, and rightly so. Now if somebody is both your biological grandparent and your step-grandparent, what is the consequence? Genetically of course, there is none. Socially, if the families are close, a step-grandparent might act as an actual grandparent, especially if there were no others alive or in the picture. But a biological grandparent would act no differently if they were also a step-grandparent…so in a very real sense, such a double relationship is meaningless…they’re “already” a grandparent, nez pah?

189.19  (5)  Since Pam and Teresa are sisters, does that make them step first cousins as well?  Technically speaking, yes…in fact they are double 1st cousins. If you must extend steps beyond the nuclear step-family, relationships can be reckoned by assuming the “step-” part isn’t there…determining the results…then re-attaching the “step-“. In this case, Fred and Wanda go from being step-siblings to siblings…and the children of siblings are double 1st cousins, along with also being siblings…this genetic overload is what constitutes the dangers of such close interbreeding. And I should point out that this example of being a double 1st cousin to your sibling has nothing to do with Elaine, the double half-aunt…after all, if an aunt, or even half-aunt, has 2 nieces, they are 1st cousins to each other only if they are not siblings…in which case, they are, well, siblings, not cousins, capeesh?

189.20  So Pam and Teresa in this sense would be double step-1st cousins…but of course there would be no genetic component to this beyond plain siblings…so as with the grandparents, it’s a distinction without a difference. I’d be tempted to put it in the category of the man who claims to be his own cousin…you can finagle the paths on your family tree that way if you’re of a mind to, but what’s the point?

189.21  (6)  Whenever Elaine used to introduce Fred and Wanda, she would say, “This is my brother Fred…he is married to my sister Wanda.”  Here is one of the hazards of the very common practice of calling a half-sibling simply a sibling. In this case, there is no blood relationship between Fred and Wanda, so why shouldn’t they be married? Yet, they are “brother and sister”…seems kind of provocative to not spell it out, but that’s Elaine’s choice.

189.22  (7)  Do I have all of these blood and step family connections correct? Pretty much yes…just watch out for doubles.

chart 667189.23  (8)  What would be the blood and step relations between Teresa’s children and Elaine’s children?  Without fear of contradiction, I would say: double half-1st cousins once removed…Earl is the ascending, Tom is the descending. Are they also steps? No, because Elaine, having no step-parents, also has no step-siblings. Where you can very easily go wrong is in forgetting that the relationship between Elaine and Fred… and Elaine and Wanda…is halfs…while the relationship between Fred and Wanda is step. And thank you Kevin for a fun time indeed!

wicked ballsy

chart 668

On more thought…when 2 people get married, we assume they are unrelated unless otherwise informed. Similarly, your step-parent would not generally be related to you…but in rare cases could be. And such is the case above, with former Major League ballplayers Mookie and Preston Wilson. It is said that Mookie is Preston’s step-father and uncle…and Preston is Mookie’s step-son and nephew. This is entirely correct, since Preston’s father was Mookie’s brother. The family is open about this to a point…that point being whether or not Preston’s parents were ever married. I can’t seem to find out, and while I’m certainly curious, I yield to the family’s privacy, if that’s what’s going on.


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#188: Removing Day

188.1  Today we address something that has bugged me for some time…it’s this simple question: All those people who think that your 1st cousin’s child is your 2nd cousin…what do they think removed cousins are? Because what they’re calling a 2nd cousin is actually a 1st cousin once removed…or to be completely proper, a 1st cousin once removed descending.

188.2  And I believe for a lot of them, the answer is what I’ve always assumed it was: they haven’t the foggiest notion of what removed cousins are. If they did, they’d know what 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. cousins are as well, and obviously they don’t. In my experience, people making the “2nd cousin” mistake do so simply because they don’t understand our kinship system. I have never talked to anyone making that mistake who had even the remotest idea what a removed cousin was. Occasionally, one will realize that calling their 1st cousin’s child their 2nd cousin automatically makes their parent’s 1st cousin also their 2nd cousin…but most haven’t thought that much about family trees beyond the absolute basics.

188.3   For the past several weeks, I’ve been exploring the crazy ideas people have about kinship at the Yahoo! Answers website. A question is posed, and all manner of correct and incorrect answers come forth. So I tried a site search for questions concerning 2nd cousins. As expected, some got it right, others wrong. Of those who were wrong, the vast majority didn’t bring removed cousins into it. But luckily for me, a few did…and so I have two answers to my original question…and there may be others, but it’s a start.

188.4  The first answer is that it has something to do with marriages. Now that makes a certain amount of cockeyed sense…their incorrect use of terminology has already accounted for actual removed cousins…so “removed” must apply to something else…and what else could there be? Examples…

inset 1

188.5  (A) is not “super sure”…good!…but guesses that a removed cousin is a step-child of your biological uncle or aunt. Wrong, but not an unreasonable guess. (B) believes a removed cousin is your biological cousin’s spouse…a cousin-in-law. Again wrong, but again at least they’re trying. And in both these instances, it’s a marriage that creates the removed cousin…as a step- or as an in-law. (C) seems to be saying the same thing as (B), but misses the mark…they probably don’t mean it’s your married cousin who’s your removed cousin, but  rather the person your cousin is married to…hard to tell when they can’t clearly communicate their thoughts. And speaking of which, (D)‘s answer is almost mystical…suffice it to say if Dear Abby had given answers like that, she wouldn’t have lasted a week….she would have been “one out” in a hurry, boy.

chart 658

188.6  So we know that at least some people who think your 1st cousin’s child is your 2nd cousin also think a removed cousin is either your step-cousin or your cousin’s spouse. But there’s another erroneous interpretation for removed cousins…I have no hard data, but I get the feeling this one is more common. It begins when somebody says that a 2nd cousin and a 1st cousin once removed are the same thing. And when this idea is expanded upon, what comes out is that they believe an Xth cousin Y times removed is the same as an (X+Y)th cousin…you just add everything up. Chart 658 illustrates this notion out to 4th cousin.

188.7  Let me stress that Chart 658 is wrong in two ways: 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousins are wrong…and the idea that you add the numbers to get an equivalent terminology is also dead wrong. But the thinking is, as a blogger once remarked, Why say 3rd cousin once removed when you can just say 4th cousin?  In other words, 3 + 1 = 4…Keep It Simple, Stupid. And this makes sense…the relative identified as a 4th cousin can be described in 3 other ways…3C 1R…2C 2R…and 1C 3R…but why would you bother? What’s the point? It takes a perfectly simple concept…4th cousin…and complicates it for no good reason. But…since people do talk about removed cousins all the time…the correct inference here is that this “useless” interpretation must be wrong, just because it is useless, it serves no purpose. OK, lots of people can’t think that logically, but there you go…

188.8  However….the “add it up” theory of what “cousin removed” means is an interesting one, wrong as it may be…and I’d like to look at it a bit further, which, since this is my blog, I may do with blissful impunity. The thing is, “adding it up” has an undeniable internal logic to it…unlike many other goofed up kinship notions, it hangs together…it does not contradict itself.

chart  659

188.9  Look at Chart 659 and take 4th cousin as an example. It definitely is 3 steps away from a 1st cousin…hence 1st cousin 3 times removed…in green. It’s also 2 steps away from a 2nd cousin (brown), so 2nd cousin twice removed…and 1 step away from a 3rd cousin (orange), giving you, by this logic, 3rd cousin once removed. But again,  why would you ever want to express it that way? And the answer is, you wouldn’t. But let’s press on.

chart 660

188.10  The point of a system of kinship terminology is to uniquely identify everybody you’re related to, each and every twig on your family tree. So let’s expand Chart 658 outward. If for you, your 1st cousin’s child is your 2nd cousin, your 1st cousin’s grandchild is your 3rd cousin, etc…then it must be the same for your father…and in Chart 660, we do just that…your father’s cousins noted in green. The question now is, what are your father’s cousins to you? People who make this 2nd cousin mistake do so because they don’t understand kinship, and trying to expand it this way is way beyond anything they can or even want to attempt.

188.11  But let’s take a crack at it, for the sake of argument. Look at 3 people…your father, your father’s 1st cousin, and you. What do you have? A pair of 1st cousins and the child of one of them. Now look at you, your 1st cousin, and your 1st cousin’s child. What do you have? The same exact thing! A pair of cousins and the child of one of them. Situations are the same, so relationships must be the same. In your case, you and the child of your 1st cousin are 2nd cousins…so in your father’s case, your father’s 1st cousin and the child of your father’s 1st cousin’s 1st cousin must also be 2nd cousins…making your and your father’s 1st cousin 2nd cousins. This is a perfect example of the patterns that repeat over and over…up, down, and across a family tree.

188.12  So your father’s 1st cousin is your 2nd cousin. Now simply apply the same cousin terminology used on the left side of Chart 660  to the side: your 2nd cousin’s child is your 3rd cousin…in this case, your 2nd cousin is your father’s 1st cousin…and your 3rd cousin is your father’s 2nd cousin…and this continues all the way down the generations. Notice that this 3rd cousin (actually your 2nd cousin using correct terminology) is of your generation…so here your generation consists of a 1st cousin, then a 3rd cousin, and if we extended it to the right…what?…a 5th cousin?….1, 3, 5, all odd numbers?

chart 262

188.13  Yes, this is exactly what happens…the infamous Odds/Evens system of kinship terminology I covered in Related How Again? #75 . This is where your odd numbered cousins are in your generation…your even numbered cousins are in your father’s generation and your son’s generation…odd numbered for your grandfather’s and grandson’s generation…and alternating up and down, as in Chart  263.

chart 263

And checking recycled Charts 262, where each number of cousin has its own color, we notice something interesting: You have 2nd cousins in 2 different places on your family tree…3rd cousins in 3 places…4th cousins in 4 places…and it will keep going like that, as you see in Chart 661.

chartt 661

188.14  And an unwieldy mess it is…let’s take 7th cousins as an example, and say Teddy Roosevelt and my grandfather were 7th cousins. This could mean…

1.  Gramps was the 4th great grandson of TR’s 1st cousin…or…
2.  Gramps was the 2nd great grandson of TR’s 3rd cousin…or…
3.  Gramps was the grandson of TR’s 5th cousin…or…
4.  Gramps was TR’s 7th cousin (i.e. the same generation)…or…
5.  Gramps was TR’s grandfather’s 5th cousin…or…
6.  Gramps was TR’s great great grandfather’s 3rd cousin…or…
7.  Gramps was TR’s 4th great grandfather’s 1st cousin…

188.15  So much for “7th cousin” pinpointing a unique spot on your family tree, nez pah? So you might say, well don’t call them 7th cousins…just use one of the 7 specific descriptions above. Trouble is, that won’t work either…take description #3…Gramps was the 2nd great grandson of TR’s 3rd cousin. Here, “3rd cousin” can refer to one of 3 different things, so description #3 refers to 3 different things…d’oh!

188.16  Bottom line: the Odds/Evens system is completely useless as a coherent system of kinship terminology. Does the nudnik who thinks their 1st cousin’s child is their 2nd cousin actually know that by doing so they’re advocating such a system? Of course not…this a perfect example of an unintended consequence. But then, that’s what happens when you literally don’t know what you’re talking about.

chart 127

188.17  One thing I ought to mention…Chart 127 shows the correct terminology for numbered cousins (your generation) and removed cousins (other generations.) And you will notice that for each removed cousin type, there is one among your ancestors, blue area…and one among your descendants, pink area. That is why you must add “ascending” for the blue and “descending” for the pink…but that’s it, system is now complete. It can’t and won’t be any more cumbersome than that. How in the world would you distinguish 7 different 7th cousins? 7th cousin 1st degree, 7th cousin 2nd degree, 7th cousin 3rd degree, and like that? And which is which? Our system is very solid and very practical…could it be better? Absolutely, because…

188.18  …a responder at Yahoo! Answers with a Hispanic last name said this regarding removed cousins: It [your 1st cousin's child] would be like your mother’s cousin. To you it would be your cousin once removed. In my culture and family, however, my mother’s cousin would be my aunt/uncle. Specifically, they mean “2nd uncle” and “2nd aunt”…in Spanish, a 1st cousin once removed ascending is a 2nd uncle/aunt…a 1st cousin once removed descending is a 2nd nephew/niece…keeping the terminology consistent for generations above and below you. Not that the Spanish language is perfect…they have a muddled way of dealing with grands and greats, to the extent that nobody can agree just how to do it. Still, removing removeds is a laudable achievement, sez me.

wicked ballsy


The question is, how exactly is Uncle Duke related to Zonker Harris? His full name is Raoul Duke…his son Earl and his cousin David are also both Dukes. He is described by some on the net as an “uncle by courtesy”…that is, an old family friend of Zonker’s parents, an “honorary” uncle. But this strip implies otherwise.

For the record, Zonker’s full name is Edgar Zonker Harris…revealed in the 1983 musical “Doonesbury: A Musical Comedy.” I don’t believe Zonker’s parents have first names. Zonker has an unseen (so they say) sister named Louise…Zonker’s nephew Zipper Harris is her son. But could Zonker’s mother’s maiden name be Duke? Without reading every strip since 1970, I’m not prepared to bet on anything…let’s leave it at that.


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved