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Q&A: Marvin Gaye's death, ACORN prosecutions, grammatically speaking

Singer Marvin Gaye had several top 10 songs, including I Heard It Through the Grapevine.

Special to the Times

Singer Marvin Gaye had several top 10 songs, including I Heard It Through the Grapevine.

How Marvin Gaye Jr. died

Do you have any information on why R&B singer Marvin Gaye was killed?

Marvin Gaye Jr. was killed April 1, 1984, the day before his 45th birthday, by his father, the Rev. Marvin Gay Sr. (his singer son added the extra letter to his name when he launched his Motown singing career). Gaye Jr. had apparently intervened in an argument between his mother and father at their Los Angeles home and shoved his father to the ground. Gay Sr. reportedly said, "I'm not going to stand for this embarrassment," got the gun his son had given him and shot him in the shoulder and upper arm.

Those close to the singer theorized that it was a death wish come true. For months before, he had toyed with suicide. Gaye was almost broke and facing a variety of legal difficulties at the time of his death. Gaye had top 10 songs with I Heard It Through the Grapevine and What's Going On and, with Tammi Terrell, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing. He won two Grammy awards for his 1982 hit, Sexual Healing.

Gay, a retired minister from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was originally charged with first-degree murder. But the charge was reduced to voluntary manslaughter after Gay, then 69, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He pleaded guilty, said he was sorry and was placed on five years of probation. He died of pneumonia at age 84 in 1998 in Culver City, Calif.

No prosecution in ACORN cases

In the last presidential election, how many cases of voter fraud were detected involving ACORN? In which states? How many people were prosecuted?

During the 2008 presidential election, law enforcement agencies in about a dozen states including Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin investigated fake voter registration cards submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN. No criminal charges were filed against the nonprofit organization, which collected 1.3 million registrations in a nationwide get-out-the-vote effort.

The agency said the bogus cards represented less than 1 percent of those collected. The problem forms — some bearing names such as "Mickey Mouse" and "Donald Duck" — were completed by lazy workers trying to get out of canvassing neighborhoods, ACORN officials said.

Staying grammatically correct

Which is grammatically correct, "different from" or "different than"?

Grammarians recommend using "different from" because it is more accurate and customary. Use it when the comparison is between two persons or things: My pen is different from yours. The American Heritage Book of English Usage states "different than" is becoming more acceptable, especially in American usage when used before a clause: "He was different than (what) I expected" because "what" can be omitted.

Q&A: Marvin Gaye's death, ACORN prosecutions, grammatically speaking 03/30/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 30, 2009 5:53pm]
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