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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Media Maven

Thursday, I got a ride from my isolating Corporate Woods office with lousy bus service to the neighborhood-imbedded College of Saint Rose, using up most of my lunch break, to film what will probably be a 15-second segment of a promotion for what appears below. It's too bad that I had to go back to work, because my ride took us right past my house.

I was supposed to say something profound about why I blog, on cue. Yeesh. Ultimately, I rambled on about something to do with being a librarian and wanting to share information. (I think.) I know they'll be showing the compiled video at the event, but if it's otherwise available, I'll make a point to share it with you.

The guy who picked me up I hadn't seen in four or five years. I've talked with him regularly and e-mailed with even more frequently. But when he picked me up, he didn't recognize me, because of the vitiligo. Heck, sometimes I literally don't recognize myself.

Oh, one other thing: with the sheer number of participants, and the time frame, I can't imagine just how this thing is going to work.

The upcoming Media 2010 event to be held Wednesday, March 3, at The College of Saint Rose, has sold out. We currently are accepting names on a waiting list.

Event: Media 2010: How blogs shape the new conversation
Date: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 from 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM (ET)

Location:
College of Saint Rose
Touhey Forum, Lally Building
1009 Madison Avenue
Albany, NY 12203

***
Speaking of blogging, I seem to be spending more time deleting spam from my blogs. Except for this one, the messages don't actually GET to the blogs; I use comment moderation. On this blog, though, I don't, but I get an e-mail copy of whatever gets posted; I click on the link and delete the rubbish forever.

There seems to be particular recurring themes with these of late:
*the guy whose girlfriend, he's just discovered, has been sleeping with his roommate/brother/uncle/father, and so, of COURSE, he's inviting you to see nude pictures of her
*various schemes touting particular software
*the couple touting Louisville, KY
Plus the usual scams and stuff written in Russian and Chinese.
But the ones I don't get are the ones that say something vaguely complimentary that are signed by Anonymous and DON'T have a link to an e-mail or website. What's the point, exactly?


ROG

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Win 6 free months of blog/web hosting, own domain name

I'm sure I tweeted about this before - back in the days when I used to actually use my Twitter account - but Rose DesRochers – World outside my Window has been having this contest where if you comment to one of her posts - or a whole bunch of other stuff such as tweeting about said contest, one gets points towards winning a Wordpress blog hosting package from VisionThisHosting.com.

Unfortunately, tomorrow the 28th is the deadline.


ROG

Oscar Pics QUESTIONS

Who's going to win the big awards? I have no idea, of course, but I'll hazard some guesses anyway, based on how watching the Oscars for decades has informed my opinions.

Best Supporting Actor:
*Matt Damon-'Invictus'
Woody Harrelson-'The Messenger'
Christopher Plummer-'The Last Station'
Stanley Tucci-'The Lovely Bones'
Christoph Waltz -'Inglorious Basterds'
Who will win: Waltz. There's always someone who the general public has never heard of who wins one of the supporting nods. Don't think it'll be Plummer, whose movie got only a so-so 68% positive in Rotten Tomatoes; on the other hand, he's old (80), and the Academy likes old, plus it's his first nomination. Could be Tucci, but I think that some of those Academy voters just aren't going to watch his performance because of the subject matter.
Who I want to win: Tucci, who's just an actor who shows great range.

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz-'Nine'
*Vera Farmiga-'Up in the Air'
Maggie Gyllenhaal-'Crazy Heart'
*Anna Kendrick-'Up in the Air'
Mo'nique-'Precious'
Who will win: Mo'nique. Academy loves to reward those who play against type. Bonus that she's a minority, and Cruz got one recently.
Who I want to win: Farmiga, who lives in Ulster County, NY where I lived for a time. So I'm a homer; so what?

Best Animated Feature Film
'Coraline'
'Fantastic Mr. Fox'
*'The Princess and the Frog'
'The Secret of Kells'
*'Up'
What will win: Up. I mean it was a nominee for Best Picture.
What I want to win: The Princess & the Frog. While I LOVED the wordless beginning of Up more than I could have imagined, I liked the Disney flick more throughout.

Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal 'The Hurt Locker'
Quentin Tarantino 'Inglourious Basterds'
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman 'The Messenger'
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen 'A Serious Man'
*Peter Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy 'Up'
Who will win: Boal. I'm expecting a Hurt Locker avalanche.
Who I want to win: Boal, though it wouldn't bother me if the Coens ot Tarantino got it.

Best Adapted Screenplay
*Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell 'District 9'
*Nick Hornby 'An Education'
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche 'In the Loop'
Geoffrey Fletcher 'Precious'
*Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner 'Up in the Air'
Who will win: Reitman/Turner. This is Reitman's consolation prize for losing for Best Picture and Best Director, an Oscar tradition.
Who I want to win: Reitman/Turner.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges 'Crazy Heart'
*George Clooney 'Up in the Air'
*Colin Firth 'A Single Man'
*Morgan Freeman'Invictus'
*Jeremy Renner 'The Hurt Locker'
Who will win: Jeff Bridges, who's been nominated four times without a win, and won the Golden Globe.
Who I want to win: Bridges or Clooney

Best Actress
*Sandra Bullock 'The Blind Side'
*Helen Mirren 'The Last Station'
*Carey Mulligan 'An Education'
Gabourey Sidibe 'Precious'
* Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia as Julia Child
Who will win: Streep. The pundits are making this a contest between Streep and Bullock. Streep, whose been nominated 16 times, and won twice (but not since 1982!) has been beaten by perceived stronger performances. The competition this year includes two novices (Mulligan, Sidibe), Mirren's appearance in a so-so film, and a certain backlash against Bullock's film. If not this year for Meryl, when?
Who I want to win: STREEP

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow 'The Hurt Locker'
James Cameron 'Avatar'
Lee Daniels 'Precious'
*Jason Reitman 'Up in the Air'
Quentin Tarantino 'Inglourious Basterds'
Who will win: Bigelow. I mean, a well-received film, directed by a woman, and not on what's considered a "women's film". Perhaps her biggest booster is one of her competitors, her ex-husband Cameron.
Who I want to win: Bigelow.

Best Picture
'Avatar'
*'The Blind Side'
*'District 9'
*'An Education'
'The Hurt Locker'
'Inglourious Basterds'
'Precious'
'A Serious Man'
*'Up'
*'Up in the Air'
What will win: The Hurt Locker. In a five-movie race under the "first-to-the-post" rules, this is Avatar's, almost for certain. But I keep hearing that while Avatar is a technological achievement, its story's weak.
What I want to win: Up In The Air, which I think in the future will be seen as emblematic of its time.

So what are your picks, for who WILL win, and who you WANT to win?
Links to your blogpost describing same would be fine.


ROG

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Lydster, Part 71: Hiding Less

Making her own kind of music


The daughter has had this habit of getting all shy, even around people that she has met repeatedly, such as folks in church choir and in church generally. We had hoped that she would outgrow this, and it seems to be starting to happen.

I wonder if it's the ballet lessons she started taking last fall. Now, let me be very clear that Lydia taking ballet is strictly her idea. Her mother and I are rather agnostic on this issue; we certainly aren't the kind of parents to push her into performing. The first time she mentioned it, it was merely talk, I think. But she persisted in asking, and now once a week for 45 minutes, she's in a class with other girls of her age and experience. They had a "performance" a few weeks ago which I went to; it mostly involved showing a few positions and few moves, but it was a pleasant enough experience.


Coming in from the cold


The other experience that seems to have helped her in church choir. She and five other girls sang in front of the church just before Christmas. I would have bet money that she would have bailed, but not only did she stand there, she actually sang out.

It could just be greater security from going to kindergarten, but whatever it is, I'm in favor.



Time to go home - on the road again

ROG
First picture by Uthaclena
Other pictures by Sprylet

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Handle with Care


In the local newspaper a couple weeks ago , the health columnist Lynda Shrager wrote Making whoopee restores body and mind -- honest. "Sex twice or more per week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for men. Also, men who ejaculate frequently can decrease their risk of developing prostate cancer by, as the American Medical Association says, 'clearing out the pipes.'"

"Clearing out the pipes"?

Then I found this article, which reads: "In 2003, research on middle-aged Australian men found that those who averaged at least four ejaculations a week had a one-third lower chance of developing prostate cancer than those who had fewer. 'When you drain the pipes, as it were, you have less clogging,' says Irwin Goldstein, MD, head of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital."

Well, OK, then. As some of you know, my father died of prostate nine and a half years ago. While the general media touts those who have survived prostate cancer, I am reminded of those who did not. Here's a mixed list.

Unfortunately, thinking about pipes, a popular Irish tune came to mind. I can just imagine men wooing their significant others with the tune to "Danny Boy": "My darling dear, the pipes, the pipes are calling." You can substitute "My darling dear" with any four syllables of affection (darling, dear, dearest, lover), including the beloved's name. Or not. (The mind will go where the mind will go.)

Ms. Shrager talks about additional benefits of sex for men and women.
***
Oh, the pictures. I was looking for a visual for the F is for February post. So I went to the LIFE magazine archive, typed in the word February, and the picture above was captured. It's for Thayers Patent Medicine, and the picture was taken in February 1949 by George Silk. The bottom picture I found typing in the word Thayers in the LIFE photo archive.

Interestingly, the product, a slippery elm throat lozenge is still being produced, "Trusted by tenors, teachers, tour guides and other types who trill, talk and testify." Here's a positive review.


ROG

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Underground Railroad Conference


The 9th Annual UGR History Conference: Gender, Class, Race and Ethnicity in Abolitionism, on the Underground Railroad, and in the Struggle Since will take place February 26, 27, 28, 2010
Organized by Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc.
Hosted by Russell Sage College, Troy, New York
In Collaboration with Rensselaer County Historical Society

February 26
“The Not So Underground Underground Railroad” Teacher Workshop
Rhonda Y. Williams, Ph.D. – evening guest speaker
“Railroads, Streets and Bridges – Black Women and Freedom Journeys”

February 27
Rosemary Sadlier–Mary Ann Shadd: Publisher, Editor, Teacher, Lawyer, Suffragette

Workshops, cultural performance, vendors, poster displays
Join with scholars, artists, historians, preservationists, educators, students, community members and others to explore how the forces of gender, class, race and ethnicity have influenced the UGR and movements for freedom that have arisen in its wake.

February 28
2-hour tour of Troy’s UGR and African American heritage sites

A complete listing of pre-conference activities, workshops, speakers,
accommodations, sponsors and directions is available

REGISTER at www.ugrworkshop.com or 518-432-4432

Previous conferences:
2009 The Underground Railroad, Its Legacies, and Our Communities
2008 The Underground Railroad - How It Worked: Two Centuries of Escape,
Resistance, and the UGR Across the Continent".
2007 Underground Railroad: Uncovering the Voices of Women
2006 The Underground Railroad: Connecting Pathways to Liberty
2005 The Underground Railroad: Discoveries and Emerging stories
2004 The Underground Railroad: Quests for Freedom
2003 The Underground Railroad: Movement And Context
2002 Telling the Untold Story: The Underground Railroad In Albany and the
Surrounding Region

I mention this every year for only three reasons:

1. I've gone to these events in the past and they are always very worthwhile attending.
2. The subject matter, I believe, is important.
3. Mary Liz and Paul Stewart, the organizers of the event, and indeed the co-founders of the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, are good friends of mine.

I have a fourth reason this year: I'm doing one of the workshops on Saturday afternoon. So sign up already!

(n.b. - I took off from work Monday to finish off this presentation. Instead, I stayed home with a sick child; not nearly so productive. This to say that if the blog posts are a little terse for the next few days, that's why.)
***
African American Newspapers: Catalysts for Social Change
Thursday,February 25th, 12:15 - 1:15 PM
Location: Librarians Room, 7th floor, Cultural Education Center, Madison Avenue, Albany (New York State Library)
Register Online

African American newspapers provided vital information to the African American community by reporting stories from a perspective often ignored by their counterparts. During the Great Migration era, many subscribers in the south depended on news reports from northern publications for an accurate picture of northern life and opportunities for African Americans. In this presentation, Cordell Reaves, Historic Preservation Program Analyst at the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, will explore the impact of some of these publications and how they shaped African American life primarily during the early to mid-1900s. Bring your lunch.

ROG

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

F is for February

Amethyst, the February birthstone















Generally, when I do one of these ABC Wednesday things, I want to convey info that either I don't think the reader knows, information *I* don't know (or have forgotten), or possibly both. So what about February conveys that? certainly not Valentine's Day. Black History Month is too broad. So after even more filtering, I came up with these questions.

What, or who, is February named for? I know that September-December are designated by the 7th through 10th prefixes. July and August are named for the Caesars Julius and Augustus. January, March, May and June come from various Roman and Greek gods, Janus, Mars, Maia, and Juno, respectively. April has something to do with the word open, possibly the same root as Oster/Easter, and/or for a variation on the goddess Aphrodite.

But what of February? The Wikipedia notes: February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 in the old Roman calendar.

OK. So why is it poor February that gets to be 28 days some years and 29 on others? This is something I used to know: February used to be the last month, and so would be the month that would be lengthened or shortened to make the calendar work out. "January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period."

Did you know that the year 1900 was not a leap year and that 2100, 2200 and 2300 will NOT be leap years?
"In the Gregorian calendar, the calendar used by most modern countries, the following three criteria determine which years will be leap years:
1. Every year that is evenly divisible by four is a leap year;
2. of those years, if it can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless
3. the year is evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year."
So, all of you who will be around in the year 2100, remember that. Expect many misprinted calendars and confused computers.

Why the heck is February so often mispronounced Febuary? The answer: "Although the variant pronunciation (fĕb'yū-ĕr'ē) is often censured because it doesn't reflect the spelling of the word, it is quite common in educated speech and is generally considered acceptable. [It IS?] The loss of the first r in this pronunciation can be accounted for by the phonological process known as dissimilation, by which similar sounds in a word tend to become less similar. In the case of February, the loss of the first r is also owing to the influence of January, which has only one r." Other examples given: "beserk" for berserk, "supprise" for surprise, "paticular" for particular, and "govenor" for governor. But they left out the most important examples: "libary" for library, and "libarian" for librarian.

A pop song about when "the music died", of course, is American Pie, which has this lovely couplet:
"But February made me shiver With every paper I'd deliver."

Here's the poem February by Margaret Atwood, which ends: "Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring." Amen to THAT!


ROG

Monday, February 22, 2010

February Ramblin'

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.



Roger Ebert's Last Words, con't, commenting on the Esquire article (linked) and photo of him. "Resentment is allowing someone to live rent-free in a room in your head."

How the Somaly Mam Foundation is trying to help end human trafficking

Wayne John tells about the time when a Burger King employee threw a double cheeseburger at him. Lousy aim, too.

Gordon reveals Dymowski and DeNiro - together.

Lady Gaga or Johnny Weir? "Can you tell the difference between the pop princess’ outrageous outfits and the Olympic skating star’s flamboyant costumes without seeing their poker faces?" You Olympics watchers who see figure skating only once every four years have no idea...

Springsteen covers.

And SamuraiFrog has three recent pieces worthy of mention, about Kermit the Frog and friend,Christina Hendricks - no, I've never seen Mad Men, either - and a particular Super Bowl ad which also annoyed me. (Should note that, on the latter two pieces, his language is coarser than mine.)

This next section is graphic.

Western New York Legacy web site, www.wnylegacy.org, is freely available online, and contains thousands of digital images, documents, letters, maps, books, slides, and other items reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Western New York

Print & Photographs (P&P) online catalog: Some photos copyright free (and some not).

Rose DesRochers – World Outside my Window: Free Cartoons for Your Blog, two examples of which appear in this very post.




Courtesy of Past Expiry Cartoon


ROG

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Movie music QUESTION

It's no secret that my favorite movie music is from West Side Story. I'm also quite fond of Fiddler on the Roof. But it occurred to me: these are Broadway musicals adapted for the screen. What do I like the best that's MOVIE music?

Difficult question. But, excluding the Beatles - I've recently seen again A Hard Day's Night and Help! - here are some examples:

This is the famous Germans bomb Pearl Harbor speech by John Belushi from Animal House. But try to listen to it without the dramatic music of Elmer Bernstein, and I think it falls flat. In fact, throughout the film, Bernstein, who's probably best known for the score for The Magnificent Seven (a/k/a the Marlboro theme), has all sorts of flourishes in this movie, giving the dopiest action a counterpoint.

Quality of Mercy by Michelle Shocked from Dead Man Walking. I THINK this was written for the film (though this performance is not), as opposed to what the compilers of the music of, say, Easy Rider, called "found music", existing songs put on a soundtrack.

Forrest Gump, BTW, is the worst example of that trend; it's not that the songs are bad, only that they're obvious. California Dreamin' by the Mamas & the Papas, Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel, For What It's worth by Buffalo Springfield, and Get Together by the Youngbloods? I mean, I already own all of those songs; not everyone does, but some Time-Life collection might have been a better venue.

Ridin' the Rails by k.d. lang and Take 6 from Dick Tracy, a movie I never saw. I'm a sucker for trains, and songs about trains.

The Funeral from Cry Freedom. This is a bit of a cheat. The bulk of the song is the anthem Nkosi Sikeleli Africa (God Bless Africa). But it is the most stirring version I know, taking place after South African activist Stephen Biko's death. (It starts at 2:25 on the video.)

But the movie music I have the greatest, perhaps irrational attachment for, is from the film The Night They Raided Minsky's, which I saw with my friend Carol and her friend Judy when I was 15 in 1968. I had a mad crush, unstated, for Judy. The film was rated M, a precursor for PG. Because I have the soundtrack, I can admit that though I haven't seen the film in 40 years, I know this song, and others in the movie, by heart:
TAKE TEN TERRIFIC GIRLS (But Only Nine Costumes)
I have a secret recipe
Concocted with much skill
And once you've tried my special dish
You'll never get your fill

Take ten terrific girls
But only nine costumes
And you're cooking up something grand

Mix in some amber lights
And elegant scenery
Then stir in a fine jazz band

Then add some funny men
And pepper with laughter
It's tart and tasty I know

Then serve it piping hot
And what have you got?
A burlesque show!
Music: Charles Strouse Lyrics: Lee Adams


What movie music moves YOU?



ROG

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Theater Review: Spring Awakening

Lust. Domestic violence. Sex. Abortion. Questioning authority. Suicide. Rape. All of these are elements of the book Spring Awakening, written by German writer Frank Wedekind in the early '90s. The 1890s. This may explain why the book was banned in Germany and in English-speaking countries for decades.

Most, though not all, of those same elements, plus a large dollop of indie-rock written by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, appear in the 2007 Tony winner for Best Musical, Spring Awakening, playing at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady February 16-21.

The wife's Valentine's Day present for us was a pair of tickets to the opening night this past Tuesday. Really, all we knew of the show was what we saw on the Tonys, and that was almost three years ago.

So we got a babysitter and hoofed it over a few blocks to Central Avenue in Albany to catch the bus to Schenectady. We had gotten 5.3" of snow that day, the most the city had received in 2010. For the record, CDTA got us there (and back) quite adequately, thank you.

Before the show begins, I am awed by the set. There is no curtain so it's just there. You can see snippets of it in the Tony performance, but it hardly does it justice. Bleachers are both stage left (two rows) and stage right (three rows) and people are already sitting out there when the principles come onto the stage to sit with them. So the excellent, eclectic band is likewise on the stage from the beginning, everything from keyboards and drums to a cello? But it works.

As for the technical aspects of the performance, I was also wowed by the choreography. Not just dance per se, but how the players moved about the stage, passing off or getting microphones. The lighting was also first rate.

The fist three songs advanced the story quite well, high energy and great entertainment value. Yet the core action at the end of the first act, which involved a couple of the aforementioned elements felt, for want of a better word, stagy.

Somehow, the second act redeemed it for us, with the best song in show, the tune that got the biggest audience reaction, and the one that my dear wife says we all feel now and then, Totally F***ed (I'm serious here: NSFW or for sensitive ears, big time.)

If you see it, and you should, then it will help to know that two people play all the adult roles; in the production we saw, both actors appeared in various episodes of the Law & Order franchise, which is no surprise. Spring Awakening is ultimately "a cross-generational phenomenon that continues to transcend age and cultural barriers," as the promos suggest, and I am thinking that a greater knowledge of the plot will help the novice theater goer appreciate it more.

Something I didn't know until recently: Lea Michele, who plays the annoying but talented Rachel on the TV show Glee, was the lead in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening.

And now the musical will become a movie. Not sure just how that'll play. I can't really imagine it, but then I couldn't fathom M*A*S*H being a weekly television series, either.

A review of the Wednesday's performance suggested a small-than-expected crowd. We felt the same way about Tuesday's performance, but I had attributed the smallish crowd to the weather. I theorize that, despite its awards, it's pretty much an unknown commodity, relatively speaking; I mean, it's not South Pacific.

ROG

Friday, February 19, 2010

Smokey is 70!


If William "Smokey" Robinson was known just for the songs he performed, he would be a memorable artist. But the fact that he has written over 400 songs, according to ASCAP, and probably hundreds more and is a producer as well, then you have a musical force.

The first song released by his group the Miracles was Got A Job, a response song to Get a Job by by the Silhouettes, written by Smokey, Berry Gordy and Roquel Davis.

Here are just a other few songs written or co-written by Smokey. The group listed usually is NOT the only artist who's performed the tune:

You've Really Got A Hold On Me- the Beatles; also performed by the Miracles
My Girl-the Temptations
My Guy -Mary Wells; anyone who could write My Girl AND My Guy is the consummate songwriter
No More Tearstained Makeup - Martha & the Vandellas; a relatively obscure song with one of my favorite lines: No sponge has the power To absorb the shower Of what pancake and powder couldn't cover
Who's Loving You - Jackson 5ive. From the 1st J5 album, a cover of the Miracles tune. Isn't Michael preturnaturally experienced in love in this tune?
Ain't That Peculiar - Marvin Gaye
Tears of a Clown -the (English) Beat. But it was from the Miracles' version that I first heard of Pagliachi, which led me to find out that the reference was to a Leoncavallo opera.
Don't Mess with Bill - Marvellettes
The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game-Grace Jones, covering the Marvelettes' tune
Get Ready -Rare Earth, a song I first heard from the Temptations
No More Water In The Well - the Temptations, with a relatively rare Paul Williams lead vocal, from arguably my favorite Temps LP, With A Lot O' Soul, 1967.
Still Water (Peace) - Four Tops
Floy Joy - the Supremes

I suppose I should do a couple more Smokey songs. I pick the oft-covered Tracks of My Tears and I Second That Emotion.

So, happy 70th birthday to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters' Hall of Fame inductee, as well as 2006 Kennedy Center honoree, Smokey Robinson!

1993 photo of Smokey from LIFE magazine, for non-commercial use

ROG

Thursday, February 18, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Invictus


When the South African rugby team, the Springboks, played in Albany, NY in September 1981, 1200 people braved the torrential weather to protest the apartheid regime that the green-and-gold represented; almost certainly the bad weather tamped down the number of protesters, as there were nearly as many law enforcement folks as picketers. The singer Pete Seeger was there and so was I.

If some Americans were opposed to the Springboks, the black South Africans loathed them, routinely rooting for the foreign opposition when the Springboks played. So when apartheid ended, and Nelson Mandela was released from prison 20 years ago this month, and subsequently became President of South Africa, there was reason to believe that the minority whites would be purged from their government positions and that the Springboks would be disbanded. But former prisoner 46664, who spent over a quarter century in a small prison cell, had a different strategy, one honed by observing his captors. Vengeance was anticipated; instead, he disarmed his former foes with compassion.

Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood, for the longest time feels like a "conventional movie", maybe a little too deliberately paced, complete with the "big game". It's not until near the end that you internalize the awe-inspiring wisdom that was Mandela. I must argue with those who suggest that the final match was anti-climatic; it's not the game itself that matters, it's the people's reaction to the game that counts. Oh, and while I learned far more about rugby than I thought possible, I'm still slightly mystified what constitutes an infraction worthy of a penalty kick.

The South African leader was played by Eastwood's old friend, Morgan Freeman; he's already played God, so this is a slight step down. Still I understand why he got his Best Actor nod. Matt Damon, as captain of the Springboks, was good, but I'm surprised by his Best Supporting actor nod. Actually, I was more taken by other characters in the piece.

Nowhere is religion specifically mentioned, to my recollection. Yet there is a powerful message of faith that one can draw from this movie, partially summarized in the 1875 poem for which the movie is named.

I saw this movie Saturday afternoon at the Spectrum in Albany in large part because it's the last week it's playing; I'm glad I did.

ROG

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Disney Meme

I saw this on the sites of SamuraiFrog and Jaquandor, so you know it must be good. It's about Disney movies.

Which Disney Princess film is your favorite?

Like Jaquandor, first I had to establish just what the "canonical" Disney Princess films are. For the purposes of this quiz, I'll use the list here. Understand that I saw those early Princess films a long time ago , a couple of the recent ones (Pocohontas, Mulan), I never saw at all. I'm forced to lean toward Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. Although I read, "Giselle from Disney's film Enchanted was originally going to be added to the line until the company realized it would have to pay the actress, Amy Adams, royalties for using her likeness." So I'll pick Giselle.

Which non-Disney Princess Disney Film is your favorite?

I assume we're not talking Pixar, where it's be a fight between The Incredibles and Toy Story 2. Much easier, then. 101 Dalmatians; has a character named Roger, and when you're eight, that matters.

Which Disney film makes you cry the most?

Can't think of a one. Fear, yes: Bambi, Pinocchio, probably, to some degree, most of them. Maybe I DO need to pick a Pixar film, Toy Story 2. Specifically, When Somebody Loved Me.

Which Disney film makes you the happiest?

I'll go with Enchanted. the mix of live action and animation was quite entertaining.

Which Disney film has the best music?

Well, Fantasia, but that's a bit of a cheat. I'll go with Beauty and the Beast, though I'm fond of Princess & the Frog. For the classic films, maybe Bambi.

Which Disney film has the best love story?

I could go with Princess & the Frog. But even though I never saw it, I have read to the daughter the comic adaptation of Pocahontas, and I could like that.

Who is your favorite Disney Princess?

Also read the adaptation of Mulan, and it might be her. Or Tiana.

Who is your favorite Disney Prince?

The Beast, I reckon.

Who is your favorite Disney animal sidekick?

Jiminy Cricket, although I think his role in Pinocchio and his role teaching me how to spell encyclopedia on the Mickey Mouse Club might be blurring together.

Who is your favorite Disney main character animal?

Tramp, of Lady & the.

Who is your favorite villain?

Cruella de Ville from 101 Dalmatians. It's the black & white hair, I think.

What is your favorite Disney song?

When You Wish Upon a Star.

What is your favorite Disney villian song?

"Cruella de Ville", sung by Roger. Though if I heard the songs in Princess & the Frog again, maybe one of those. Yet I think "Gaston" is hysterical - "I'm especially good at expectorating."

What is your favorite Disney animal song?

"Circle of Life" from The Lion King.

What is your favorite Disney Princess song?

"Belle", though that first song on Princess & the Frog...

What is your favorite Disney Prince song?

No clue.

What is your favorite Disney Prince/Princess duet song?

"A Whole New World" from Aladdin.

What is your favorite Disney love song?

"How Do You Know?" from Enchanted.

Tough meme!

ROG

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

E is for Erie Canal


It was a crazy idea: dig a ditch virtually across New York State, deep and wide enough to carry produce to the market west of the Appalachian Mountains by boat safer and more cheaply than by land. When such a plan was first proposed by Jesse Hawley, a miller in the town of Geneva, New York, President Thomas Jefferson thought it was "little short of madness". Some proposals as early as 1768 suggested a shorter canal, connecting the Hudson River with Lake Ontario near Oswego.

"It was not until 1808 that the state legislature funded a survey for a canal that would connect to Lake Erie. Finally, on July 4, 1817, Governor Dewitt Clinton" - formerly mayor of New York City and long-time advocate for the canal - "broke ground for the construction of the canal. In those early days, it was often sarcastically referred to as Clinton's Big Ditch. When finally completed on October 26, 1825, it was the engineering marvel of its day." Remarkable since 1) there were no engineering schools to speak of in the country, and thus no one with a true engineering background to facilitate the work, and 2) most of the work was done by men and horses.

From New York State's history of the canal: "The effect of the Canal was immediate and dramatic and settlers poured west. The explosion of trade prophesied by Governor Clinton began, spurred by freight rates from Buffalo to New York of $10 per ton by Canal, compared with $100 per ton by road. In 1829, there were 3,640 bushels of wheat transported down the Canal from Buffalo. By 1837 this figure had increased to 500,000 bushels; four years later it reached one million. In nine years, Canal tolls more than recouped the entire cost of construction."

The canal was enlarged several times, with lateral canals also being built.

The expansion in the early 20th Century was opposed by some, particularly in those Southern Tier cities that weren't directly benefiting. "With the exception of Binghamton and Elmira, every major city in New York falls along the trade route established by the Erie Canal, from New York City (ranked fourth in population in 1800, but rose to first place) to Albany (doubled its population within a few years of the canal's completion), through Schenectady, Utica (population increased from 3,000 to 13,000 in twenty years) and Syracuse (described as a 'desolate' hamlet of a few scattered wooden houses in 1820, became a city of 11,000 in 1840), to Rochester (changed from 'one wide and deep forest' to a prosperous community of 20,000) and Buffalo (a "wilderness outpost of 200 in 1812, became a gateway to the west and its population reached 18,000 by 1840"). Nearly 80% of upstate New York's population lives within a 25 miles of the Erie Canal." So it's not surprising that the poster above was published in the county where Binghamton is located.

"With growing competition from railroads and highways, and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, commercial traffic on the Canal System declined dramatically in the latter part of the 20th century." In fact, the New York State Thruway parallels the waterway. Interstate 87 runs from New York City to Albany, much the same way Henry Hudson traveled 400 years ago. then Interstate 90 runs from Albany to Buffalo, just like the Erie Canal.

"Today, the waterway network...as the New York State Canal System...is enjoying a rebirth as a recreational and historic resource. The Erie Canal played an integral role in the transformation of New York City into the nation's leading port, a national identity that continues to be reflected in many songs, legends and artwork today."

The song The Erie Canal wasn't written until 1905. I think that, for a time, every child in school in upstate New York was required to know the tune. Erie Canal was repopularized by Bruce Springsteen on the (Pete) Seeger Sessions album earlier this century. When I saw Bruce last year, I hoped he might do this song; cities always go crazy when the artist namechecks the city he/she/they are performing in; alas, it was not the case.



ABC Wednesday.

ROG

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day


My wife purchased a group of plastic place mats a few months ago. On one of them is a roster of all the Presidents, including Barack Obama. For no particular reason, I started noting the frequency of their first names.

Number one was James, who showed up six times (4, 5, 11, 15, 20, 39). In second place was a surprise: John with five (2, 6, 10, 30, 35). Ah, but you say #30 was Calvin Coolidge, and so it was. But the mat noted, and stated here that he was born John Calvin Coolidge. In third place was William with four (9, 25, 27, 42). Best wishes for a speedy recovery for #42. In fourth place, with three is George (1, 41, 43), which, as with John was aided by a father-son Presidency.

There's a tie for fifth place: Andrew (7,17), Stephen (22, 24) and Thomas (3,28). Of course, Stephen is a cheat since it's the SAME GUY, but I didn't determine the numbering schema; wait, we know him better as Grover Cleveland. You might wonder about #28, but he was born Thomas Woodrow Wilson.

Peculiar that none of these naming anomalies show up on the White House list of Presidents. It's interesting to me that we've had as many Presidents named Richard and Benjamin and Ronald as we have named Millard and Lyndon and Barack.

I'm utterly fascinated by the Whig Presidents. There were 4 of them (9, 10, 12, 13) out of 44, or over 9%, though this will inevitably shrink, barring the party's resurgence, but they served only 8 years out of almost 211, or less than 4% of the time. That's because William Henry Harrison caught pneumonia from his way-too-long Inauguration speech in March 1841 and died a month later, succeeded by his Vice-President, John Tyler. Then Zachary Taylor, elected in 1848, died in 1850, succeeded by HIS VP, Millard Fillmore.

My focus on them comes in no small part from when I first learned to recite the all the Presidents in order from memory, and I can still do so, the hardest stretch involved that unimpressive group Taylor, Fillmore and Pierce. Sounds like a law firm, doesn't it? My particular interest in Millard Fillmore derived in no small part from a high school friend's obsession with the 1945 Joan Crawford film Mildred Pierce. Not only did I confuse Millard with Mildred, but the Pierce that followed amplified it.

Hey, coin collectors: The Millard Fillmore Presidential dollar will be available this month!

Happy Presidents Day!

ROG

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things I Love on the Internet

* A new blog on the Oscars and Instant Runoff Voting -- http://oscarvotes123.blogspot.com/. Here's a post about the new voting system for Best Picture, written by the Chair of FairVote Board of Directors, Krist Novoselic.
* The last new Johnny Cash album, American VI: Ain't No Grave is being released on February 23, during what would have been his birthday week. Am buying, sound unheard, if I don't get for my birthday.
* Brian from Coverville turned me on to Deanne Iovan's mission, inspired by Julie & Julia, as well as the 09/09/09 Beatles' releases, of covering The Beatles’ White Album, track by track, putting out a new song every nine days. She just put out Julia, which is at the end of side two. (Side 2? Hey, I grew up with the vinyl version of this album.)
* 500 cartoons on life in biology research.
* The Business Librarians listserv helped me answer a question this week. Apparently the doohickey on the tops to plastic containers, where the grated cheese comes out, one side being a shaker while the other side you can use a teaspoon to dish it out, is called a spice lid or a dispensing closure.
* Valentine’s Day/Census tie-in campaign with a selection of electronic postcards in Spanish and English.
* New CPR on YouTube: Continuous Chest Compression CPR - Mayo Clinic Presentation, sent to me by a nurse friend of mine, who thinks it's terrific.
* A recent study outlines the health benefits of having more sex. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has the details.
* My medical reimbursement company, only this week, has FINALLY decided to accept e-mailed PDFs, GIFs, etc. as well as mailing and faxes. This is particularly helpful since our fax at work does not seem to work. (When someone announced "Fax is dead!"", they weren't kidding.)
* Found several places: The Muppets: Beaker's Ballad - the Internet is SO mean.
* Thom Wade points to Hey! It's That Guy!? It's a page "dedicated to the character actors collectively known as 'That Guy'." Simon Oakland was one of the first ones I knerw by name as a kid.
* Betty White for host of SNL. My only problem is the notion that it's a resurgence; she never really left.
* Arthur@AmeriNZ found a video response to the Google Super Bowl ad done from a gay man’s POV.
* An old friend accidentally pushed some button that sent an email to EVERY address in her e-address book, which allowed us to reconnect. I've had a child and she's had two since we last communicated.
*Local school catches Olympic fever. "Events have included ring toss, rock climbing, hockey, boggle, hang man, reading comprehension, and math facts." I'll pick math facts.
* The 9th Annual Underground Railroad History Conference, Friday, February 26 at 8:30am through Sunday, February 28 at 2:00pm at Russell Sage College, Troy, NY, where I'll be one of many presenting on that Saturday. Register now!

ROG

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic QUESTION


Are you watching the Olympics? I turned on the TV for the opening ceremonies, only to see how luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili of the Republic of Georgia died. In case I missed it, NBC kindly showed it a couple more times.

(Sidebar: before I saw the accident, I was talking on the bus yesterday with some of the regulars. We found it an interesting sociological phenomenon that ABC Wide World of Sports showed Slovian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj as the Agony of Defeat for 20+ years; the guy fortunately only suffered a concussion.)

But I'm not a big Winter Olympics fan. The newish extreme sports (halfpipe, etc.) look interesting, but I have no sense of how they score them. I learned a while ago that hockey is more interesting live than on TV, but if the US is in the match and not being trounced, I'll probably watch some.

I figured out only yesterday why skiing, as inherently appealing as it should be, bores me silly. It's one guy going down the hill. Then another guy going down the hill. And another. And another. And it all looks the same unless someone makes a mistake, and falls. Are we supposed to wait for a tumble, and hope it's of the Vinko Bogataj variety rather than the Nodar Kumaritashvili type?

I realized that skiing is like the Kentucky Derby, except that only one horse and jockey go around the track. Then another. Then another. Substitute your favorite race (auto racing, track and field, swimming). Whereas the luge is so intense, not just fast but claustrophobic, it's generally more watchable. Are we waiting for the (non-fatal) wipeout there as well?

The only thing I'll truly see, though, is figure skating. The one thing my ex and my wife have in common is a love for the sport. I've been watching since 1992 and even have a basic understanding for the scoring in the men's and women's events, less so in the pairs, and hardly at all in ice dancing.


ROG

Friday, February 12, 2010

Found Post: Gonna Take a Miracle

Sometimes I write a post which I start then forget about, then find again. This isn't one of those. This was actually found in our front lawn by my wife, a green handkerchief with two notes on either side of the fold.

One note reads, in all capital letters:

{Name 1], I long to meet your needs in a supernatural way. I want to bless you more than you even can even imagine. Don't hold back by limiting my ways to your ways. I can make a way where there is no way. Even as Paul sent forth handkerchief, so my servant, [Name 2- first and last name], has sent you this handkerchief in obedience to me, as an act of faith, that I will meet your need with a miracle. Release your faith now and believe my word.

Then, handwritten (though it looks Xeroxed):

[Name 1], receive this word.
I am standing in prayer with you. [signed Name 2, first name only]

On the other side of the hankerchief is Name 1's full name and full address, three or four blocks from our house.

Then the message:

Write the amount of money you need here:

Initially an amount was written, then whited-out and replaced with the handwritten, "Thousands of dollars."

Sign your name here, claiming Matt 18:19. [Name 1 has signed].

In the King James Version, Matthew 18:19 reads: "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."

WOW. This disturbs me more than I can explain. There's an old tradition of taking a Bible verse, pulling it out of context and "proof texting" a point. It seems clear, at least to me, that the two gathered together would be praying for God's church, not personal wealth. And this commentary agrees:

WHAT VERSE 19 IS NOT
1. Verse 19 has NOTHING to do with requests to God by a believer, in relation to health, wealth, happiness or any other aspect or desire in their own life...
5. The two persons of verse 19 are NOT individual Christian believers making requests for themselves.


This reeks of charlatan theology in the Oral Roberts/Reverend Ike tradition. I'm wondering what kind of "contribution" this person made to receive the "gift" of the handkerchief. Yet another example of "Christians" making Christians look bad.


ROG

Thursday, February 11, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: A Single Man



I saw the A Single Man a couple weeks ago, in one of those "split date" things my wife and I go on, where we see the same movie in the same weekend, then compare notes. It's the story of George (Colin Firth), a British gay man and a professor in 1962 Los Angeles, who lost his life partner (Matthew Goode) and is just trying to get through the day. His public grieving is limited and his lover's family don't even allow him to the funeral. He's friendly to the housewife neighbor (Ginnifer Goodwin of Big Love), but her husband is less than friendly. His only real friend is fellow British expat Charley (Julianne Moore), who has issues of her own. One of his colleagues (Lee Pace from Pushing Daisies) represents the Cold war backdrop of this movie.

I certainly understand why Firth was nominated for an Academy Award for his role. His character is quite in need of structure in his life. Even when George lets go a little, it's honed with a certain British reserve. There's a surprisingly darkly funny sequence near the end of the film.

Tom Ford is a rookie director, a fashion designer and former Gucci executive who also wrote the screenplay based on the Chris Isherwood novel. While he tells a succinct tale, occasionally he would engage in cinematic trickery that was at times more irritating than enlightening. Julianne Moore is fine in her role, but Ford made her look every one of her 47 years, and then some.

I read someone describe the film as somnambulant, and I do understand his point. This is not a Michael Bay movie. Not much happens in A Single Man, yet quite a bit does.

Recommended, unless you're only a fan of action flicks, in which case this will undoubtedly bore you silly.
***
A few years ago, probably after seeing her in the 2002 movies Far from Heaven and the Hours, I had a dream about Julianne Moore. I almost never dream about real people I don't know. Anyway, I saved her from some some peril - getting hit by a car, I believe. She was grateful, and we became pen pals, with her sending me autographed photos and tickets to her movies. [Alas, I woke up.)

ROG

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sports and Weather

I understand why people don't care about sports, I really do. There are lots of particular sports I don't care much about myself. What I don't get is this antipathy towards the things that others happen to enjoy. The Super Bowl, which had the highest ratings ever of any US TV show, apparently dethroning the M*A*S*H finale of 1983, is such an example. Don't want to watch it? Fine. But there's no reason to suck the joy out of other people's pleasure.

I was rooting for the New Orleans Saints, and even predicted that they'd win. Some are puzzled about how important the Saints' victory would be for the city of New Orleans. One pundit sniffed that if the victory would help New Orleans get over Hurricane Katrina, wouldn't a Jets victory have done the same for New York City after 9/11? Well, no.

Anyone watching the aftermath of the August 2005 devastation will recall that the Superdome, home of the Saints, was at the epicenter of the disaster. Thousands of people lived there for days. The roof collapsed. The team ended up playing its home games elsewhere for a time, including San Antonio, Texas. The refurbishing of the Superdome and the win by the Saints, who had never even GOTTEN to a Super Bowl, let alone won one, was a fitting climax for both the team and the city that embraced each other in a most profound manner.

Of course, the real reason for watching the Super Bowl: the commercials, which you can see here or here. My favorite was the Betty White/Abe Vigoda Snickers commercial. While Betty White has been a regular working actress (the movie The Proposal and the TV show Boston Legal, e.g.), now at the age of 88, there's been a running gag whether Abe Vigoda, a star on Barney Miller, was even still alive. I also liked the Dave Letterman ad; yes, late night TV rivals Letterman and Jay Leno were actually in the same room at the same time; see this. I liked the Simpsons ad for Coca-Cola; reminds me of an ad with MC Hammer losing all his bling AND the ad with Mean Joe Greene being offered a Coke. I enjoyed the Google ad. I've long admitted my thing about chickens, so a couple of Denny's ads - for a promotion that's now over - stick in my head.

Whereas I've long tired of the E*Trade babies. Even the sweet Clydesdale commercial for Budweiser has become predictable. I can't imagine wanting to see ANY of the movies advertised. The commercials Casual Friday and I Wear No Pants were so close to each other, I thought they were for the same product; they weren't. The Tim Tebow ad, with his mother, the reportedly anti-abortion message from Focus on the Family, was mostly, "Is that all there is?" And, most unfortunately, I thought the Census ad was an ineffective use of taxpayer money.

As for the music, Queen Latifah's America the Beautiful was a bit wobbly and flat in the beginning, but Carrie Underwood's a capella rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was OK, but the last note was painful. I love the band, The Who's halftime show seemed off. The harmonies didn't work, and the medley segues were clunky. But the drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) was energetic, and they finished strong with Won't Get Fooled Again.

Meanwhile, it's been cold in Albany, but all the snow that has been hitting the Delmarva peninsula, Philadelphia (32.3 inches in 2010) and up the coast, repeatedly this winter, has so far missed Albany. Likewise, whatever snow off the Great Lakes may have affected Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, but Albany has been so far immune. Baltimore has been hammered; 41 inches this calendar year through February 8, more than Buffalo (36.1). All my NYC friends have made snarky remarks about Albany winters, but Albany has had only 8.3 inches of snow since January 1, the most 2.4 inches on January 3.

ANOTHER storm's coming up the coast yesterday and today. Again the mid-Atlantic will get pummeled. What Albany gets will depend on the track of the storm, from an inch or two to six or eight. And it'll still pale in comparison with what NYC's going to suffer today; expect massive airline delays and cancellations.

ROG

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

D is for Decade


It's five weeks into the new decade. There was no consensus on what to call the OLD decade: the zeroes, the aughts, the naughts?

This got me to thinking. How did some of the decades of the past get such colorful appellations? Specifically, why the Gay Nineties? Was there an excessive amount of nitrous oxide available? And what of the Roaring Twenties? What was so leonine about it, and did it have something to do with the MGM lion?

According to the Wikipedia, "The ('Gay Nineties') term...began to be used in the 1920s and is believed to have been created by the artist Richard V. Culter, who first released a series of drawings in Life magazine entitled 'the Gay Nineties' and later published a book of drawings with the same name. The high life of the 'old money' families was well documented in the novels of, for example, Edith Wharton, and Booth Tarkington." It was "sometimes referred to as the 'Mauve Decade,' because William Henry Perkin's aniline dye allowed the widespread use of that colour in fashion." That latter designation was totally unfamiliar to me. It's an interesting idea, given the fact that there was a depression in 1893 in the United States, following economic distress in Europe and elsewhere in the years before the collapse.

"The Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America but also in London, Paris and Berlin. The phrase was meant to emphasize the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism." Likewise, "the Jazz Age describes the period after the end of World War I, through the Roaring Twenties, ending with the onset of
the Great Depression. Traditional values of the previous period declined while the American stock market soared. The age takes its name from popular music, which saw a tremendous surge in popularity. Among the prominent concerns and trends of the
period are the public embrace of technological developments typically seen as progress — cars, air travel and the telephone - as well as new modernist trends in social behavior, the arts, and culture. Central developments included Art Deco design and architecture."

While I had heard of the Dust Bowl, I was totally unfamiliar with this paired designation: The Dust Bowl or the Dirty Thirties was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940). The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops or other techniques to prevent erosion."

Some have called the Fifties "Fabulous" but it was not a standardized definition, as far as I can tell. I can't help but think that some think of it as "fabulous" because of a post-WWII "normalcy", while others might find it likewise fabulous because of the growth of rock & roll.

The sixties were tumultuous, but again no one made that a designation that stuck. Whereas, "Novelist Tom Wolfe coined the term Me decade in New York magazine in August 1976 referring to the 1970s. The term describes a general new attitude of Americans towards self-awareness and away from history, community, and human reciprocity awareness, in clear contrast with the 1960s.

Will there be clear naming of these last three decades that we can agree on?

Here's something that had created some disagreement: some people seem to think that the new decade does not start until after 2010, and that it runs 2001-2010. This seems to come from a desire to create consistency, but it lacks logic. We know that the 19th Century ran from 1801 to 1900, and that the century is essentially named for the last year of the century, 1900. It's likewise true with the 20th Century and 2000 or the 21st Century and 2100. There are those who seem to think that the borders of the decades should fit into the borders of the century. But why?

Clearly the 1960s is named for 1960, the first year in the range 1960-1969. To suggest that it started in 1961 would be illogical; the year that names a decade should be IN the decade. Likewise, the Seventies started in 1970. The Aughts (or whatever), started in 2000, which, as noted, is the last year of the prior century. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

If consistency were in play, we might have 13 months, each four weeks long, with one or two off-calendar days, or perhaps a catch-up week every few years, as described here. Instead we have 30 days in "September, April, June and November", etc. Of course, if logic were in play, our ninth through twelfth months wouldn't have prefixes representing the numbers seven through ten, respectively.

Oh, one last thing: when you write 1960s, or 1990s or 1870s, please do not use an apostrophe; it's not 1960's or 1990's or 1870's. This source confirms my point. Which means that that lovely graphic above, which I purloined from the Chicago Sun Times newspaper, is, unfortunately, wrong!

Decade pictures courtesy of Life magazine, allowed for non-commercial use.

ROG

Monday, February 08, 2010

100 Quotes Every Geek Should Know

I've been thinking about doing this since I first saw it at Byzantium's Shores a few weeks ago. It's a list of 100 Quotes Every Geek Should Know. I will reproduce the list as follows: ++ for quotes I not only recognize but can cite by the character who says it (if it's a line of dialogue), and + for quotes I recognize by source but can't recall who said it. All others will be left as is. You can play along, then check the source attributions.

1. “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”

+ 2. “Three rings for the Elven kings under the sky, seven for the Dwarf lords in their halls of stone, nine for the mortal men doomed to die, one for the Dark Lord on his dark throne, in the land of Mordor where the shadows lie. One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring the bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.”

++ 3. “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

++ 4. “Spock. This child is about to wipe out every living thing on Earth. Now, what do you suggest we do…...spank it?”

++ 5. “With great power there must also come — great responsibility.”

6. “If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you oughtta go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it’s not for the timid.”

7. “Five card stud, nothing wild. And the sky’s the limit”

8. “If you think that by threatening me you can get me to do what you want… Well, that’s where you’re right. But - and I am only saying that because I care - there’s a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing.”

9. “We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog.”

10. “If I’m not back in five minutes, just wait longer.”

11. “I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.”

12. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE

13. “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

14. “Bill, strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

+ 15. “Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.”

16. “Didja ever look at a dollar bill, man? There’s some spooky s*** goin’ on there. And it’s green too.”

17. “Alright, alright alright.”

18. “Heya, Tom’, it’s Bob from the office down the hall. Good to see you, buddy; how’ve you been? Things have been alright for me except that I’m a zombie now. I really wish you’d let us in.”

19. “Never argue with the data.”

20. “Oooh right, it’s actually quite a funny story once you get past all the tragic elements and the over-riding sense of doom.”

21. “Fantastic!”

22. “I must not fear. / Fear is the mind-killer. / Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. / I will face my fear. / I will permit it to pass over me and through me. / And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see
its path. / Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. / Only I will remain.”

23. “This is the way society functions. Aren’t you a part of society?”

24. “Okay. You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we’re not back by dawn… call the president.”

25. “No matter where you go, there you are. ”

++ 26. “Do you know of the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space.”

+ 27. “Ray, if someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!”

28. “Greetings, programs!”

29. “I guess you picked the wrong g**-damned rec room to break into, didn’t you?!”

++ 30. “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

++ 31. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side, kid.”

++ 32. “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

33. “It’s a moral imperative.”

++ 34. “Talk with your mouth full / bite the hand that feeds you / bite off more than you can chew / dare to be stupid”

+ 35. “Well, let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. Based on this morning’s reading, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.”

36. “This episode was BADLY written!”

37. “Worst. Episode. Ever.”

+ 38. “Goonies never say die.”

+ 39. “Nothing shocks me–I’m a scientist.”

40. “Bright light! Bright light!”

41. “The Road goes ever on and on/Down from the door where it began/Now far ahead the Road has gone/And I must follow, if I can/Pursuing it with eager feet/Until it joins some larger way/Where many paths and errands meet/And whither then? I cannot say.”

++ 42. “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

43. “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”

++ 44. “Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?”

++ 45. “Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight blob of grease!”

++ 46. “I’d just as soon kiss a wookiee!”

47. “But one thing’s sure: Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody’s responsible.”

48. “I know kung fu.”

49. “This is your receipt for your husband… and this is my receipt for your receipt.”

50. “Your soul-suckin’ days are over, amigo!”

51. “I don’t believe there’s a power in the ‘verse that can stop Kaylee from being cheerful. Sometimes you just wanna duct-tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month.”

52. “Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?”

+ 53. “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

54. “There is no Earthly way of knowing… which direction we are going. There is no knowing where we’re rowing, or which way the river’s flowing. Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is a hurricane a’blowing? Not a speck of light is showing so the danger much be growing. Are the fires of hell a’glowing? Is the grisley reaper mowing? YES! The danger must be growing for the rowers keep on rowing AND THEY’RE CERTAINLY NOT SHOWING ANY SIGNS THAT THEY ARE SLOWING!!”

55. “Time…to die.”

56. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”

57. “Check, please.”

58. “So say we all.”

++ 59. “After very careful consideration, sir, I’ve come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks.”

60. “I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.”

++ 61. “No matter what you hear in there, no matter how cruelly I beg you, no matter how terribly I may scream, do not open this door or you will undo everything I have worked for.”

62. “Ahh, a bear in his natural habitat: a Studebaker.”

++ 63. “He’s dead, Jim.”

++ 64. “Who’s gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It’s chocolate, it’s peppermint - it’s delicious!”

++ 65. “Bring out your dead.”

++ 66. “My name is Inigo Montoyo. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”

67. “Why a duck? Why-a no chicken?”

++ 68. “Redrum.”

++ 69. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows."

++ 70. “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

71. “Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.”

72. “Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.”

++ 73. “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”

+ 74. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

++ 75. “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

++ 76. “You maniacs! You blew it up! Oh, damn you! Damn you all to hell!”

++ 77. “Klaatu barada nikto.”

78. “Monsters from the Id.”

++ 79. “ET phone home.”

80. “What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”

81. “We thought you was a toad!” - Delmar, O Brother Where Art Thou?

++ 82. “Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot!”

+ 83. “You don’t have to be a gun.”

++ 84. “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!”

+ 85. “Yeah, well. The Dude abides.”

86. “All things serve the beam.”

87. “You can’t fool me! There ain’t no Sanity Clause!”

88. “Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

+ 89. “And I said, I don’t care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I’m, I’m quitting, I’m going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire…"

90. “Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.”

91. “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”

92. “Gimme some sugar, baby.”

93. “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and sh*t… and Jack left town.”

++ 94. “Kneel before Zod.”

95. “Shall we play a game?”

96. “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis.”

+ 97. “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.” “Hit it!”

++ 98. “Make it so” / “Engage”

99. “Ya Ta!”

100. “End Of Line”

I really need to see the movies referred to in #73 and #85. I've seen clips, so I could figure out the quotes.

So do I get booted from geekdom?
ROG

Sunday, February 07, 2010

It's Not A Liberal or Conservative Issue

It is my general feeling that amending the United States Constitution is something that should not be suggested lightly. There's a whole slew of proposed amendments that never really went anywhere.

Still, I'm mulling over this e-mail I got from Uthaclena which reads in part: "As you are undoubtedly aware, the Supreme Court recently decided that Corporations are Persons who are entitled to spend as much money on 'free speech' to effect elections as they like. I believe that most Americans, be they Liberal or Conservative, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, or Independent, thinks that this is ludicrous. The ruling legitimizes the business of BUYING elections, which is already a grave threat to our democracy. This is an issue that should unite us despite the partisan contention of the last decade."

Well, yes. When I commented on the court case initially, my view was what it was, one commenter suggested, because I was liberal. I AM a liberal, but the issue was that the Court seemed to cede power from the people to the corporate state. It seemed radical. People complain about the "activist" court when some "progressive" ruling down. Well, this was the height of judicial activism. Along with the Griswold decision to essentially allow eminent domain for "economic" reasons, this court has put the people last.

So I'm feeling inclined to support such a measure.

"Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Congressman John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, have co-sponsored a bill to send a Constitutional Amendment to the States for ratification that would allow corporation’s influence to be limited. The proposal reads:

111TH CONGRESS, 2D SESSION
H. J. RES. ___
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States permitting Congress and the States to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations engaging in political speech.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Ms. EDWARDS of Maryland (for herself and Mr. CONYERS) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on __________________

JOINT RESOLUTION
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States permitting Congress and the States to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations engaging in political speech.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

'ARTICLE—
'SECTION 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.
'SECTION 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.'.

You can voice your support of Representative Edwards here.

But more importantly, contact YOUR OWN Congressional Representative and ask them to support this resolution so that it can move forward. If you are uncertain who your representative is or how to contact them, use the locator.

The source article can be read here.

(WARNING! Leftie blog!! ;-)"

ROG