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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Logan-inspired post

I was cleaning out old e-mail, and this thing that someone sent me in 1998 was still there!

Grammar is important

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill all exclamation points!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
And finally...
34. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Why I don’t shop at Wal-Mart

In honor of the release of the documentary WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price, I thought I’d tell you why I don’t shop there. I mean, NOW it’s because of all those socio-political reasons, such as them driving out small business and exploiting workers, but the ORIGINAL reason was much more prosaic.

In 1994, I was separating from a significant relationship. I needed stuff, lots of that basic household stuff- kitchen utensils, bathroom items, a few household goods. So I went to the only Wal-Mart then in the area, in something called the Crossgates Common (or Commons). I must have spent over $90. It was only after I got home on the bus that I realized that I was missing a bag of material. I immediately called the store and they confirmed that, yes, I had left a bag at the register. It was five minutes before closing, so I told the person that I’d be back the next day at a specific time. I was told the package would be in the manager’s office.

The next day, I went to said Wal-Mart, and went to the office, only to be told to wait a few minutes, which turned out to be a half hour. Then I was told that the manager would be there shortly. That turned out to be another 30 minutes. Finally, I was told that they couldn’t find the bag, and that I could just pick up the stuff again. How I wish they had said that in the first place. So I wandered through the vast store again and found most of what I had gotten before or something comparable, but it took me nearly as long as the original trip. This so annoyed me that I vowed never to go again.

Subsequently, I learned more about how Wal-Mart has interfered with their employees’ lives and whatnot. But my original complaint is that they over-promised and under-delivered. In other words, bad customer service.

Now, the only time I ever step foot in a Wal-Mart is with some relative of mine (mother, sister, in-law). One of my sisters can tell you the the best Wal-Marts within 100 miles of the NC/SC border.
But I won't spend a dime. No, that’s not true. We got a $25 gift certificate from Wal-Mart as a present for Lydia, and the items ended up costing $25.72. So, in the past ten years, I’ve spent nearly a dollar at Wal-Mart, over seven cents per year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I get an e-mail weekly from e-week magazine. Sometimes it's a lot of technobabble for this poor Luddite, but the batch today caught my attention, and might be helpful or interesting to you:

Xbox 360 Crashes, Defects Reported

Xbox 360 Review

Ten to Avoid—the Worst Products of 2005

Firefox 1.5 REVIEW

Free Show Cuts HDTV Confusion

TiVo Handheld Device Software Draws Ire at TV Network

Supreme Court to Hear eBay Patent Appeal

Malicious Keyloggers Run Rampant on Net

Cyber-crime Yields More Cash than Drugs

REVIEW: Royal Albert Hall: London 2-3-5-6 2005-Cream

Pretty much from the beginning, I was a fan of the group Cream. From junior high, when my good friend chastized our history teacher for referring to the group first as Fresh Cream (the title of the first album), then The Cream. "No, it's Cream, just Cream!" Well not "just" Cream, but a remarkable powerful sound coming from just three players.
The group really took off with the second album, Disraeli Gears, which featured "Sunshine of Your Love", subject of the trivia question below. Unfortunately, the group was together for only 4 albums (all of which I owned and own) and about three years. (I'm not counting the posthumous stuff.) Much of that small body of work was live, half of the double album Wheels of Fire and 3 of the 6 songs on Goodbye Cream.

I felt excitement and not a little trepidation when I heard about new Cream music. Royal Albert Hall turned out to be both. I know "I'm So Glad", the 9-minute anthem from Goodbye Cream, practically note-for-note. The RAH version, while good, simply would not compare, would it? No, and the next track, the oft-recorded "Spoonful" didn't meet my impossible standards either. But as I listened on, I found the album turned out to be rather enjoyable. And on subsequent listens, even those tracks I knew so well in different incarnations took on a pleasurable tone for me. In fact, the only thing I could have done without is the 10-minute drum-laden "Toad", but I wasn't into extended drum solos in 1968, either.

So, if you're very much versed in the Cream sound as I am, you'll find the package to be good, but for those who didn't grow up with the music, and I've talked to some of my younger office colleagues, they are blown away by the collection.

I'm guessing the American reviewer is younger than the Canadian one.

Well, that was what I thought of the CD. For the DVD, I had a totally different feeling: I loved it. Maybe it's the knowing nods the bandmates give each other, but this concert is definitely better seen and heard than just heard. I can only compare it, strangely, with the 1960 Presidential debate. People hearing the debate on radio thought Nixon had won the debate, but TV viewers thought it was Kennedy who was victorious.

We're talking largely about the very same music, though the DVD has an extra song and revealing interviews that show the origin of the reunion. My advice: see it first, THEN listen.

You may also be interested in the Cream media player, where you can see some of the Cream videos here.
Now for the rest of the story. I get this e-mail that reads:


I just found your blog: and I think you may be of some help to me. I'm reaching out to you on behalf of M80 & Rhino regarding Cream London Royal Albert Hall CD and DVD. Since you are a fan of The Yardbirds, I thought that you might be interested in posting the press release and/or an entry on your blog? You seem like a reputable influencer, and I love your blog, so I think you'd be a big help to us

Please let me know if you're interested!


I'm thinking it might just be spam, but then I reread it. He found a post I wrote about a CD I sent to Lefty. An innovative way to get the word out.

"A reputable influencer?" Yikes!
So, I wrote back, was sent the first review copies I've received since I got some comics in the 1980s.

Got stuff for me to review? I'll promise to review it. (Won't promise to like it, though.)
Now, for a trivia question: The guitar break in "Sunshine of Your Love" is swiped from what song which was a hit many times since 1949, and reached #1 in 1961? (Block the BLANK space for the answer.)

Blue Moon, recorded by (according to Whitburn):
Mel Torme (#20, 1949)
Billy Eckstine (#21, 1949)
Elvis Presley (#55, 1956)
The Marcels (#1, 1961)
Herb Lance (#50, 1961)
The Ventures (#54, 1961)

Monday, November 28, 2005


There were two men of note who died last week, very different. The thing they had in common in my mind is that I watched them on television a lot.

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita played Arnold on Happy Days. Most of the Asians I saw on TV were servants. Sammee Tong playing "helpful, but often inscrutable Oriental houseboy" Peter Tong to John Forythe’s Bachelor Father (1957-1962). Victor Sen Yeng played the often befudled cook Hop Sing on Bonanza (1959-1973). Miyoshi Umeki played Mrs. Livingston, Tom’s (Bill Bixby) "dependable…. but sometimes confused housekeeper" on The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969-1972). (Quotes from the Brooks and Marsh "Directory to...TV Shows".)
I watched some Happy Days reunion show on Nick at Nite recently, and one of the clips was of "Arnold" saying something like "Does this face look like an Arnold?" Well, no, but it was an Asian face that stood up for himself, to Richie and his pals, even the Fonz, at least that year (1975-1976) when he was first on, and I was watching. He left the show to star in the short-lived "Mr. T. and Tina," then returned in 1982 to Happy Days at a point I had stopped watching.
Later, he would become the first Asian-American nominated for an Academy Award for The Karate Kid, losing to Dr. Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields.

The other person was Hugh Sidey, who covered nine Presidents for Time magazine, and I’m sure I’ve read his words often. But I knew him best for being a panelist on a news program called Agronsky and Company. Not only must I have watched it a lot, it must have been well-known that I watched it a lot, for Raoul Vezina made me a birthday card referencing the fact, sometimes in the early 1980s. Martin Agronsky was the moderator, Carl Rowan was the guy who was left of center, James Kilpatrick represented the right of center, and Hugh Sidey was generally the centralist. (There were others over the years.) They seldom talked over each other, talking louder to make their point. It was all rather civilized. They, particularly Sidey, were gentlemen, in the traditional sense. It was though other opinions actually MATTERED. A period largely lost in televised discourse.

And in other media news, expect an interesting wiriters' strike.

Finally, I REALLY want to know: who ARE the 29% of Americans who still think Dick Cheney is honest and ethical?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Plan B Thanksgiving

The Plan A Thanksgiving involved getting up early on Thanksgiving morning, packing up the car to ride five hours to central Pennsylvania. That’s five hours of driving time. With a not-yet-two year old, one should calculate at least two stops.

Lydia would get to see her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins with whom she’d get to play. Perhaps on Friday someone would watch Lydia so that Carol and I could go to the movies. It certainly would involve board games such as Scrabble.

On Saturday, we would be driving back the five hours plus back to Albany.

But Lydia was under the weather, and so was I (although I didn’t want to press this point, since it was Carol’s family that she’d want to see). But those factors plus a dodgy forecast of snow, not so much for where we are as much as where we were going, killed the deal.

The Plan B Thanksgiving: Roger goes to the store to buy a 10-12 pound fresh turkey on Thursday morning. There are NO 10-12 pound turkeys; there are only 15-16 pound turkeys at $1.69 a pound and a 20 lb. turkey at 89 cents a pound. (If you do the math, the bigger bird is cheaper.) Plus buy cranberry sauce, stuffing (Stove Top, in honor of its inventor, who died recently), and various other accoutrements; Carol makes most of the meal, while I watch Lydia. I manage to see the entire first half of the Dallas/Denver football game while Lydia napped, and saw most of the fourth quarter and the OT after dinner. (Dallas lost! Yay!) I clean up/put away/take out the garbage.

Friday, I manage to catch up on newspaper reading, much of my television viewing. While we trade off watching Lydia.

Saturday: I watched enough recorded TV so that the DVR which was at 98% full two wweeks ago, and over 70% even last week, is down to zero by the end of Saturday. Likewise, I read the Thursday through Saturday newspapers on the actual day they came out.

So, all in all, it wasn’t a bad Thanksgiving, not what he had envisioned. Lydia likes pickles and cranberry sauce, but would not eat beans and turkey, which she had previously liked. That was Lydia’s second Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Lydster Part 20: Filling my shoes

I remember walking around in my parents’ shoes when I was 4 or 5. (How DO women wear high heels, I’ll never know.) I wasn’t aware that kids started doing "dress up" as young as Lydia is. She’s been regularly wearing the shoes of her mother and me for a couple months now. It’s amazing how well she maneuvers in them.

She also wears my gloves

and other apparel.

She's understood language for months, but she's really increased her spoken vocabulary a great deal in the last month. I'm particularly pleased that she likes to say "thank you"; may it always be so.

It's starting to hit me, just a little, that "how they grow so fast" thing that every parent I've ever met has told me, almost always unsolicited.

Happy 20 months, Lydia. Daddy loves you.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Too full to post

American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month -November 2005

Black Friday, a day I avoid shopping like the plague. It's not a political thing, it's more agoraphobic, not in daily life, but shopping in the mall:
Fear of being alone-NO
Fear of losing control in a public place-YES
Fear of being in places where escape might be difficult-ABSOLUTELY
Becoming house bound for prolonged periods-SOMETIMES
Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others-OCCASIONALLY
Feelings of helplessness-YES
Dependence upon others-YES
Feeling that the body is unreal-OH,YEAH
Feeling that the environment is unreal-WELL, IT IS, ISN'T IT?
Anxiety or panic attack (acute severe anxiety)-OCCASIONALLY
Unusual temper or agitation with trembling or twitching-TEMPER AND AGITATION, YOU BETCHA
There hasn't been a sale created that will get me into a retail establishment today.

November 25th

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Roger Owen Green's Abecedarian List of Things I'm Thankful For

It's Thanksgiving. What am I thankful for? This post was stolen, including the key word in the title from Tom the Dog, but he possibly purloined it as well from this Thanksgiving 2004 post:

Allen, Woody, the movies of. It is truly scary how much "Annie Hall" paralleled my life. Or my life paralleled "Annie Hall".
Beatles, The. Collectively and individually.
Cats. I grew up with cats. Haven't had one in about 20 years, but cats and I get along.
Donors, blood. The need is always great. In my experience, the Red Cross people are trying to make the process more efficient. Last time I donated, I was in and out in 30 minutes, from reading the instructions to the health history to the actual donation (5 minutes) to juice and cookies. Your experience may vary. Next time, I get my 14 gallon pin; so now you know- I only donate for the fancy jewelry.
Emmy" night. I'm a sucker for the "old line" awards shows. It isn't who wins or loses, it's how they win (or lose) that's fun. That and reading the grousing about how so-and-so should have won.

Family and friends. Carol and Lydia. The Greens in Charlotte. The Greens in San Diego. The Powells. Mark K. Mary R. My fellow librarians. The folks at my church. My racquetball buddies. Those strange blogger buddies I've only met electronically through Hemby. It's like the awards shows: when you start naming folks, you risk leaving important people out.
Gilmore Girls. Probably my favorite show right now. Sure it's a soap opera but so is Arrested Development and 24. My favorite scene from last season involved Bible-thumping, rock-n-roll-hating Mrs. Kim arranging a rock tour for her daughter Lane; so out of the blue and yet consistent.
Hell- before there was the iconic Homer Simpson ever aired, there were a series of strips that eventually were turned into a series of books by Simpsons creator Matt Groening called Life is Hell, Love is Hell, etc. that I related to greatly.
Ice cream- the good kind. when I was a kid, my mom bought the store brand. Now, I can taste the difference between the good stuff and the crap.
Jennings, the late Peter. As a result of the death of my favorite newsperson of recent years, ABC News is doing a month-long series called "Quit to Live", aimed at understanding the tobacco consumption phenomemon from a variety of angles.
Kelley, David E.- his quirky shows, from Picket Fences to Boston Legal, have entertained, and occasionally infuriated me. He's married to

this woman, for which I imagine he is thankful.
Librarians are wonderful people.
Massage- I need to get another one soon. One of life's great pleasures.
New York-it's a schizo state: upstate/downstate tensions with Long Island in both camps, oddly shaped. My sense is that most people think only of the buildings of New York City, but we've got farms in this state.
Oscar night- I can enjoy it even when I've seen few of the films. Watch it more on tape these days.
Pasta- as my old pappy, the great Italian chef Leslio Verdi, once said, "It's all in the sauce." You cook it it a LONG time. For instance, the sauce for lasanga should be cooked for at least four hours on the stove BEFORE it goes in the oven.
"Question authority"- whoever came up with THAT one got it right, especially these days.
Racquetball -sport of the gods.

Saturn- my favorite planet. When I was about nine, my father painted the solar system on my bedroom ceiling. One of the coolest things he ever did for me.
TiVo and other technologies that make life easier.
Utopia: It's good to have a vision of what's better than what we have.
Valentine, Saint. It's not so much the hearts and flowers and chocolate and cards that I appreciate; it's that there was a person (or persons) who lived whose loving acts now mean that the very name can inspire the giving of hearts and flowers and chocolates and cards.
Weather-we have it here in Albany. We've had snow, followed by 70 degree weather this fall, then rain. It's beginning to snow today. It ain't always 72 and sunny, and that's good. "Builds character," I've been told.

X-Men comics- not so much for the comics themselves, though I enjoyed them well enough at the time. When I sold the bulk of my collection, the increased value of X-Men 94-150 and GS 1 made it worthwhile to get rid of. I lived on that money for a couple months. (Comic cover courtesy of Comic Covers.)
Young, Neil - with and without his various compatriots.
Zen- I don't practice it, but I'm glad some folks do.

A Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Dream of Geena

When I feel a little unwell, I tend to have very vivid dreams. One dream last night was of me in a bus, about 3/4s of the way back. The bus has no driver and is careening out of control, but I manage to stop it from my seat (mentally?- shades of Professor X) by directing it up a rocky incline, where it comes to a stop.

Another dream I had was one in a series I call the Television Episode Continuation or TEC dream. This involves watching a TV show just before I go to bed and the story from the show continues, this time with me in it. This used to happen a lot when I used to watch "Cagney and Lacey," for some reason, usually the domestic stuff between Harvey and Mary Beth Lacey. Last night, I watched a taped episode of "Commander-in-Chief" from about a month ago, and I found myself inside Mac's White House, discussing strategy about the Russians. It's only the third time I've seen the show, and while I like it well enough, it's not my favorite show or anything.

If I were casting my life story, Geena Davis would definitely play my wife. Carol's hair is darker, but they are both very tall. That doesn't explain, though the TEC phenomenon.

Anyway, I'm a little better now, not racquetball-playing better, but "go-to-work-and get-rid-of-192-emails-and-7-phone-messages" better.

Telecommunications: Internet

You know when people tell you to do something, and you recognize that it is a good and reasonable thing to do, yet you fail to do it? Well, that's what I did when I got my Road Runner Internet connection. Not only the techie from work, Mark, but also my mother-in-law suggested that I needed to get a firewall. I knew I needed a firewall. It was something I knew to get before they told me. And yet it didn't happen.

When it was first connected, on September 6, it was SO fast, much faster than the dial-up we've been suffering with for the past two or three years. I was a happy camper.

Then one day about a month ago, there was an invasion so virulent that not only did it slow down my Internet connection, I couldn't even open Word documents or games. So I disconnected the RR connection, and got some McAfee software. But trying to rehook the Internet connection failed for reasons that are beyond my Luddite capacities.

Ultimately, I had to get my old friend Mark (not to be confused with co-worker Mark) to come up to Albany from down near New Paltz to try to fix the problem. His quick fixes showed that I had at least nine spyware attachments and one virus, but it didn't solve the problem, and he ended up having to wipe my hard drive and reloading Windows and other software, plus anti-spyware protection, virus protection, and a firewall.

The cool thing is that I got to see him and his wife and daughter, and we all went out to a Middle Eastern restaurant for a fabulous meal.

So, the obvious lesson, get protection. Why does that sound slightly sordid?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bridget Loves Bernie

As I’ve mentioned, the networks have all but abandoned Saturday night. Last week, I was talking to one of my colleagues at work about a TV show called "Bridget Loves Bernie". It started Meredith Baxter, later of Family Ties, and David Birney. (Birney played Bernie – how CUTE.) I recalled that it was a show on that powerhouse Saturday night CBS lineup for the 1972-1973 season.
At 8 was All in the Family, the number 1 show the previous season, that season and the next three.
At 8:30 B Loves B, the number 5 show for the season
At 9, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, in at #7.
At 9:30, it was The Bob Newhart Show, at #16.
Bridget Loves Bernie was the highest rated show ever to get cancelled, and after one season. According to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows" by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh:
"One contributing factor may have been the furor created by the unhappiness of religious groups, primarily Jewish, over the show’s condoning and publicizing mixed marriage." Birney and Baxter, not so incidentally, were married from 1974 to 1989.

I bring this up now because I read in Evanier’s column from Saturday that Harold Stone, who played the Jewish father on the show, died at the age of 92. Since I don't often go around talking about "Bridget Loves Bernie", a show I seem to remember liking (but it WAS 30+ years ago and I haven't seen it since), I found that coincidence mildly unsettling.
(When ABC canceled a show called "Welcome to the Neighborhood" that offended blacks, Latinos, gays, and most importantly, the government, earlier this year it wasn’t unprecedented. What WAS unusual about that show it that the show NEVER AIRED.)

Not so incidentally, the CBS Saturday lineup for the following season (1973-1974) was considered the best ever with:
8 AiTF (#1)
8:30 M*A*S*H (#4)
9 MTM (#9)
9:30 Bob Newhart (#11)
10 Carol Burnett (#27), replacing the canceled Mission:Impossible

The only good thing about nothing on TV on Saturday night is that I get a chance to watch the prerecorded stuff, DVDs, or go out.

Feelin' crummy

Sinus headache.
Sore throat.
Chest cold.
General achiness.
And I seriously considered going to work today because I have so much stuff to do, even though I have about 140 sick days; that's not hyperbole, it's what happens when you work in the same job long enough.
Inability to focus - that's what tipped the scale.
I think I'll take some NyQuil and take a nap.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday meme: Comedy films

From Scalzi via Tosy

Here's a best comedy list, in alphabetical order, not quality order. The ones I've seen are in in italics. The ones I own will be in the notes.

Airplane! - one of my favorites. I think, in part, it's due to the exquisite acting of one Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, who not only played the part of Roger, but also appeared on JEOPARDY! the week before I did, and won! (What that latter point has to do with the movie, I'll never tell.) The terrible follow-up has only one good scene: JEOPARDY! with Art Fleming.
All About Eve
Amelie -swet, but never thought as top comedy material.
Annie Hall- there are more things about this movie that have happened in my life that it's scary. This was my touchstone film for a good 20 years. So la-dee-da, la-dee-dah. OWN on cassette tape.
The Apartment- I assume he means the original.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery - and no particular interest in seeing it, for some reason.
Blazing Saddles- violence to horse, scathing racial cliches. Painfully funny.
Bringing Up Baby
Broadcast News- Albert Brooks was BRILLIANT in this film.
Caddyshack-saw on commercial TV, which doesn't count for me.
Le diner de con
Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb- I MUST see this film!
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story -wasn't interested.
Duck Soup
Ferris Bueller's Day Off- possibly my wife's favorite comedy
Four Weddings and a Funeral- I like it, but I think it's uneven, and probably not 50 best.
The General
Ghostbusters- I remember that Ray Parker, Jr. was SHOCKED how fast that video came out. OWN on videocassette.
The Gold Rush
Good Morning Vietnam - how many movies and TV shows since this one have used "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong?
The Graduate- I finally saw THIS YEAR! Very fond.
Groundhog Day- Another linchpin film for me. It's all about redemption. AND it has a JEOPARDY! scene. OWN on videocassette.
A Hard Day's Night- saw after I saw Help!
His Girl Friday
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The Lady Killers
Local Hero
Manhattan- liked, and was discomforted, the way Woody films do
M*A*S*H - the TV show should have ended when Gary Burgoff, the only member of the movie cast on the TV show, left. The football game fels like The Longest Yard.
Monty Python's Life of Brian- this was on last week's indy film list. I defended this film vigorous at the time from those who thought it an attack on Christianity.
National Lampoon's Animal House- if I'm surfing through the TV, and I hit on this movie from ther Bluto speech ("Germans bombed Pearl Harbor") to the end, I have to watch.
The Odd Couple. Saw after the TV show. I got used to the Randall/Klugman rhythm.
The Producers -the audience reaction to "Springtime for Hitler" still cracks me up.
Raising Arizona- I saw this in a movie theater with about six people. THE best before-the-credits-come-up movie segment ever.
Roxanne-very sweet. I had forgotten this movie, which I saw in first run.
Rushmore- meant to. Someone's promised to lend me the DVD.
Shaun of the Dead
A Shot in the Dark
Some Like it Hot Joe e. Brown's face is a classic face.
Strictly Ballroom
Sullivan's Travels
There's Something About Mary
This is Spinal Tap- OWN the soundtrack.
To Be or Not to Be
Tootsie- possibly Dustin Hoffman's best film, because he tapped into that anger he has admitted to living with at the time.
Toy Story- I'm very fond of this movie, though I prefer the sequel
Les vacances de M. Hulot
When Harry Met Sally...- source of endless conversations about relationships.
Withnail and I
The one movie that I wish were on the list: Young Frankenstein; during one later scene, I literally fell out of my seat in the movie theater, I laughed so hard.

I've seen 30 out of 50. More and more, I'm drawn to comedy, rather than drama. Maybe the world's too rough to spend my entertainment dollars always on "serious fare."
And apropos of nothing, I've had, so far ZERO winners, nay, ZERO contestants for the contest yesterday. You too can still be a winner.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

World Hello Day

I was reading Nick Jr. magazine - I'm always amazed at what I'm reading these days - when I discovered that tomorrow, November 21 is World Hello Day. I had never heard of it, but it has been going on for over 30 years. They even have cards and more cards designating the occasion.

The basic idea is to say "hello" to 10 people tomorrow, preferably people you would not normally say hello to. Maybe that strange person on the bus, or a total stranger walking by.

So, in honor of World Hello Day, I am having a contest. Be the first person to e-mail me with the answer to the question will win:
1) a copy of a mixed CD with hello/welcome as a theme
2) a copy of a mixed CD of my favorite Hello Records songs (that I haven't made yet)
3) a Dave Barry book about terrible songs (this has nothing to do with the theme, I just happen to have two copies), and
4) other hello-related stuff to be determined
The next four winners will receive 2) 3) and 4)

The question:
At first so strange to feel so friendly
To say good morning and really mean it
To feel these changes happening in me
But not to notice till I feel it.

1) What is the full name of the song above Title (and Parenthetical Title)
2) Who sang it first?
3) Who wrote it?

As always, decisios of the judge is final. No employees of Arro Verti Enterprises are eligible.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Three TV Questions

Mark McGuire, the TV writer from the local newspaper, the Times Union, to whom I can be as much a pain as I am to some other people, listed his list of the top 10 most influential shows. They were:

10. "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (1968-73, NBC).
9. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-77, CBS).
8. "Hill Street Blues" (1981-87, NBC).
7. "The Real World" (1992-present, MTV).
6. "All in the Family" (1971-83, CBS).
5. "Sesame Street" (1969-present, PBS).
4. "The Tonight Show" (1954-present, NBC).
3. "Dragnet" (1952-59; 1967-70, NBC).
2. "The Milton Berle Show" (1948-57, NBC).
1. "I Love Lucy" (1951-57, CBS).
Other shows he deemed worthy of consideration: "Law & Order" (NBC), "The Simpsons" (Fox), "Roots," (ABC), "Saturday Night Live" (NBC), "Gunsmoke," (CBS), "Monday Night Football (ABC)," "An American Family" (PBS).

You can read his rationale here.

He also listed the five best spinoffs:
5. "Lou Grant" ("Mary Tyler Moore Show")
4. "Knots Landing" ("Dallas")
3. "Happy Days" ("Love, American Style")
2. "Frasier" ("Cheers")
1. "The Simpsons" ("The Tracy Ullman Show")
and the five worst spinoffs:
5. "Joanie Loves Chachi" ("Happy Days"
4. "Gloria" ("All in the Family")
3. "The Tortellis" ("Cheers")
2. "Joey" ("Friends")
1. "AfterMASH" ("M*A*S*H")

So, my questions to you:

1) What do you consider the 5 or 10 most influential programs in television history? Not necessarily the best, but the ones that help define the genre.
2) What are the 5 best and 5 worst spinoffs of American television shows?
3) What are the 3 or 5 or 10 best shows derived from another medium (book, play, movie, oh what the heck, British TV)?

My answers will be below. You can block it to see it, or put your responses in first, THEN go back and see mine. (Thanks to Tom the Dog for explaining this process to me.)

I Love Lucy
Milton Berle
The Honeymooners- precursor to everything from the Flintstones to the King of Queens
The Real World
Hill Street Blues
All in the Family
The Jeffersons
Saturday Night Live
That Girl-precuror to MTM

Fish (from Barney Miller)
The Tortellis
Joanne Loves Chachi

Lou Grant
Happy Days
Andy Griffith Show (from the Danny Thomas Show)

All in the Family (British TV)
Odd Couple (play, movie)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie)
M*A*S*H (movie)

Friday, November 18, 2005

In the workplace last autumn

Last year around this time was a very melancholy time for me. I had already been to two funerals that fall (the husband of one friend, the mother of another) and had sent a half dozen cards to friends who had lost their parents.

Then my friend Tom Hoffman, husband of the Hoffinator, mentioned on these pages recently, had some sort of digestive tract problem which sent him to the hospital on Halloween, which was on a Sunday. Tom's problem required some surgery, which meant that he would not be able to go to the polls. For someone as politically conscious as Tom, this was a real crisis. Fortunately, the Board of Elections webpage had a form online that allowed us to print it out. Then his wife still had to take it to the hospital and get him to sign it before 5 p.m. Monday, the day before Election Day. Fortunately, she was able to do so, and she got an absentee ballot, which she delivered to the polls on Election Day when she voted, thus assuring victory for President John Kerry.

Just as Tom was getting out of one hospital, my big boss, Jim, landed in another hospital with a heart attack while playing in a basketball game, saved by the janitor using the defibulator required at all of the schools. Jim was making a slow recovery, but appeared out of danger.

When Tom got out, I e-mailed him pretty much every day, mostly about politics. He was a political junkie who chastized me for voting for Nader in 2000 (in New York, where Gore won by a wide margin anyway.)

Then the next Friday, I came to work, and the secretaries called to me in a conspiratorial manner which meant that they were going to give me bad news. I figured that Jim had died. One of them whispered, "Tom died."

Tom died? I was happy for Jim and his family. But Tom DIED? He had had a massive heart attack the night before, a year ago today. We all were in shock; he was doing so well. And he wasn't even 50.

Over the next few days, folks from the office were over at the house, helping in whatever way possible. The funeral was the next week, and it was Jim's first time out of the hospital.

There's not a political story that goes by when I don't think, "I wonder what Tom's take on this will be, er, would have been?" I'm sure he would be relishing the Republican infighting over the Miers nomination, outraged by the Bush administration's defense of torture, and thrilled that Scooter Libby was indicted.

More than that, he was a weather junkie, who could predict with some accuracy the path of a hurricane. He was the commissioner of the March Madness basketball pool, and he was often a winner of said pool. (No, it wasn't a fix, and no money was involved, only bragging rights.) He was a librarian, so he was naturally very bright.

I know the Hoffinator misses him.

I want to know what he thinks about whether Rove will be indicted, and what are his thoughts about Alito, and whether he believes the Democrats will win the House in 2006, and...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Telecommunications: Cable TV

I got myself believing that I didn’t watch very much television anymore. Getting a DVR has put that into real question, because I record almost everything I watch, so it becomes much easier to track.
A digital video recorder is like a TiVo, or so I am led to believe; I never owned a TiVo. I can watch one program while recording another. This comes in very handy when we put Lydia to bed and it's 7:45. I can’t watch JEOPARDY! because it started 15 minutes earlier. (I mean, I technically COULD, but it would be wrong.) So, instead, I'll watch the evening news. THEN I'll watch J from the beginning (and be done with it in 13 minutes, and that long only because I listen to the interviews.)

With the old VCR, I’d get really behind watching J because I’d have to find the correct show on the tape. My wife will tell you that I was pretty much of a moaner when it came to watching shows on a six-hour tape. She’d say, "Let's watch Gilmore Girls!" But I’d groan, "Do we HAVE to NOW? It’s the fourth item on the tape, and I’ll have to go back to find it, then skip over it later!" Now, we have a menu, and we can watch whatever we want whenever we have the opportunity.
The other thing I can do is to tape two things at once, which I gather from Mark Evanier TiVo cannot do. Boy, I wish I had this feature some years ago when The Equalizer was on CBS and St. Elsewhere was on NBC, both on Wednesday at 10 p.m.

The downside to the DVR is that it has finite capacity, some 30 hours; it seems to be some combination of number of shows and the hours taped. On Tuesday, I was up to 33 shows unwatched, 98% capacity - we were busy with other things, and I had taped a Macca special here, a Johnny Cash special there- which required dumping a couple shows quickly.

So what AM I recording to watch?
6:30 pm ABC World News Tonight. We usually watch it after Lydia's in bed.
7:30 pm JEOPARDY!, which, unfortunately, really starts at 7:29:50, so I miss one or two introductions.
9 am: CBS Sunday Morning
9 am: This Week - I couldn't decide so I’m taping both.
7 pm: 60 Minutes- But why does the machine suggest that it will actually start at 7 pm when there’s a 4:15 NFL game? I end up recording Cold Case just to see the last 60 Minutes segment.
8 pm: The Simpsons, if I can find when it’s actually on after football.
12:35 am: Ebert & Roeper
8 pm: Arrested Development – so I finally decide to watch the show, and what do I get? Two weeks of "encore performances" of Prison Break, then a pair of AD episodes, back-to-back, then more Prison Break.
Tuesday: This has been "Must See TV" night for me for a while
8 pm: Gilmore Girls
9 pm: Commander-in-Chief
9 pm: My Name Is Earl – I know about counter-programming, but why are the only new shows I’m watching on at the same time?
9:30 pm: The Office
10 pm: Boston Legal
10 pm: Queer Eye- which must be on hiatus
And we eagerly await the return of Scrubs
Wednesday: Nothing
Thursday: Nothing. A night of shows we have watched in the past but have given up on: Survivor, The Apprentice, E.R., even Joey. Actually, we have, at my wife's suggestion, recorded a couple episodes of Everybody Hates Chris, one of which we have seen and enjoyed.
Friday: Nothing
Saturday: The evening news, if it isn’t pre-empted by college football. Otherwise nothing. (With the networks often showing reruns of shows that were on during the week, why don’t they just give the time back to the affiliates? I suspect it's because it IS a time they can occasionally run specials and they don’t want to surrender the time permanently, but that's a guess.)

So that’s 15 hours a week, more or less. Probably a few minutes of news in the morning for the weather.
Here’s where you say, "You oughta be watching X." Well, it won’t be CSI or NCIS or any show that portrays how crummy people are to other people. I’ve given up on 24. I don't plan on getting HBO.

So we tape early in the week, and watch later in the week.
My wife watches the evening news, 60 Minutes, and the Tuesday shows except Boston Legal. Actually, we haven't seen Commander-in-Chief in three weeks, but we will, we will. It's recorded and it's retrievable, unike some VCR tapes I have. For example, there was a Temptations movie (2-part, 4-hour) taped, never watched; must be 5 years ago now.
The other thing my wife views is figure skating. I say I don't watch it, but I could, if asked, provide an analysis of the pros and cons of the old scoring system (based on 6.0) and the new one. So I don't sit down to watch it as much as it's on while I'm reading the paper and I get to absorb it by osmosis: Grand Prix. Triple salchow. "Fell out of doing a triple lutz and only landed a double; that will cost him plenty." And why do the sponsors (this year, Ore-Ida and Marshall’s) run the same commercial, 3 5, even 9 times in two hours? Fortunately, she usually watches this in the recorded mode, so she can zap past them.
Yes, I watch some sporting events, but I tend to be a playoff fan: from September on in baseball, from Thanksgiving on in the NFL, March Madness in men’s college basketball. But if a baseball game happens to be on during the season while I'm flicking through the channels, I will check it out, especially in the summer when many shows are repeats.

And maybe I'll find that Temptations tape.

Next time: Internet

Mom's birthday

Trudy Green's 78 today. I don't mind mentioning her age, because she doesn't seem to mind.

My mother used to "work outside the home", as it's now referred to, when we were kids. So we spent a lot of time at my grandmother's, her mother's, house. Grandma Williams used to tell us stories about bogeymen and whatnot, and Leslie and I were gullible enough to believe her tales; baby sister Marcia was too savvy to buy into it.

My mother was pretty much unaware of this until we told her when we were adults. This gave her a huge case of the guilts. Was she a good mother? My sisters and I perfected our response, we heard the question so often.

"We're FINE, Mom! None of us are mass murderers or destitute. We're happy, reasonably healthy. You were a fine mom, and we love you." Which worked until she thought of it again.

Happy birthday, Mom. You done good. Really.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Music to screw up your computers by

Got an e-mail from our techie at work, Mark (portions irrelevant to the general public removed), usually a pretty reliable sort:

Recently, Sony has been caught using some pretty underhanded, quite invasive methods to keep people from copying CDs released from certain artists. I've not discussed this with everyone until now, because Sony would not release the list of those titles that are affected by this "XCP" copy protection.

There are already at least four ways of using this "XCP" software for nefarious purposes.

Please note, this is about removing some nasty software that makes your PC vulnerable to many different attacks, not about bypassing legitimate software protection (which this is NOT).

Here is the list of CURRENTLY KNOWN artists/titles (more may come out of the woodwork):

Trey Anastasio - Shine
Celine Dion - On ne Change Pas
Neil Diamond - 12 Songs
Our Lady Peace - Healthy in Paranoid Times
Chris Botti - To Love Again
Van Zant - Get Right with the Man
Switchfoot - Nothing is Sound
The Coral - The Invisible Invasion
Acceptance - Phantoms
Susie Suh - Susie Suh
Amerie - Touch
Life of Agony - Broken Valley
Horace Silver Quintet - Silver's Blue
Gerry Mulligan - Jeru
Dexter Gordon - Manhattan Symphonie
The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity
The Dead 60s - The Dead 60s
Dion - The Essential Dion
Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
Ricky Martin - Life

I would suspect ANY SONY or BMG disc released during 2005. Some of you may note that I'm not calling these Audio CD's or CD's - they are in fact NOT true Audio CD's. Many of these non-audio CD titles will cause damage to stereos (car and home) that do not know how to deal with the non-audio portion of the disc.

Anyone out there heard any more on this?

Addendum: I just came across this article.
The Boing Boing website has further info on this topic.

Tobacco road

As a sensitive, new age guy, I recognize that the smoker has become an oppressed minority, a marginalized and ostricized member of society, treated like a leper, forced to smoke 10 feet from building entrances in the middle of winter while engaging in a legal behavior.

I don't care. I feel no pity.

When I was a kid, I used to go to O'Leary's market at the corner and buy cigarettes for my father. (You used to be able to do such things, back in the bad old days.) Winstons, they were.
Some point after the Surgeon General's warning about the risks of lung disease from cigarettes, my father developed emphysema. He quit, but when the symptoms went away, he went back to smoking. I thought this was the dumbest thing he had ever done, and I (gingerly) made that known to him. Eventually, I started stealing his cigarettes, first a few at a time, and then whole packs. (He bought them by the carton.) I figured if they became expensive enough, he'd have to quit. Packs were already up to 35 or 40 cents. Soon, my father tired of my behavior and said, "Roger, give me back my cigarettes," and I did.
Eventually, my father quit smoking. He'd argue otherwise, though. He'd say that he never quit, he just stopped for a day, then another day, until it became over 25 years of another day without tobacco.

Back in 1972, I was in an elevator at college when a guy was coming onto the elevator and about to light up. I pleaded with him not to. He said, "Why? Do you have asthma?" I lied, "Yes!" and he didn't light up. I have a very good nose, and I've sussed out a smoker at 30 feet. I don't know if I'm peculiarly sensitive to smoke, but I do know that physically it's becoming increasingly more difficult to be around smoking, or heavy smokers, or even where smoking has taken place recently and/or heavily.

I'm not as nice about this issue as I used to be, especially since I've had a child. I suppose I can live with people offing themselves, but I draw the line when they're slowly killing me and those I love. I really suffer when smokers smoke in open air stadia. It may be pouring rain, but I'll leave a bus kiosk before standing next to smoking.

Tomorrow is the Great American Smoke-Out where people are supposed to try to quit tobacco. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths both among men and among women. One cannot nag someone to quit: see Steve Gerber on August 10. (Mark Evanier had some interesting observations about this back on August 9.) Good luck to those who desire to quit.

My bottom line on smoking: my right to life and my liberty from smoke is more important than someone else's pursuit of happiness from tobacco.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Telecommunications: Phone

We had the opportunity to change our phone (local and long-distance), cable, and Internet service to one cable carrier (Time Warner) in our area this fall, and took it. It has been a mixed bag.

Our phone service last year I had ordered from some other carrier, and the bill always seemed terribly high. So Carol contacted Verizon for another package, and it became even higher.

We both have Masters degrees, but for the life of us, we couldn’t figure out why our phone bill ran nearly $100 per month, especially when we made few or no long distance calls. True, we had a second line for our Internet connection, but that was only about $8 before taxes.

One of the things we were promised with the new service was a clear signal. Well, it’s clear enough, except when it isn’t. And it isn't when it gets close to the computer, for some reason.

Still, there is a clear cost savings.

Now I am inclined to make as many long-distance calls as I can. Give me you number; maybe I’ll call you.

A recent (last two weeks) enhancement puts the phone number of an incoming caller on our TV screen. Obviously, that's a mixed bag. It's nice to not have to get up to answer the phone when the screen has posted in the upper left, "Private Name, Private Number", but if I were to be planning a surprise for Carol, for instance, it could really put the kibosh on the deal. I imagine there's a way to disable the feature, but I don't know what it is. I didn't hear about the feature from Time Warner; I read about it in the paper.

The one thing I don’t like about the phone system, the one thing that nearly killed the deal, is the fact that if the cable goes out, we have no capacity for E-911 service, a point they emphasized repeatedly, including with two mailings. I guess that’s the reason to have cell phones with per call charges.

Naturally, the transition from Verizon did not go smoothly. There was a final bill of $41, which we paid, but then we got a SECOND bill for NEW service, under the telephone number of our second line. It seems that the day the Verizon guy showed up (September 6) to uninstall the Verizon, the computer put it in as a new installation, with all of its attendant fees. I called Verizon, was told that the bill was in error, and that, in fact, we were due nearly $67. (One is usually paying ahead for telephone service.)

Then, LAST month, I get another bill from Verizon for $138, with a threat to disconnect the service that we don’t even have or want. I call the first Verizon help number and get stuck in phone mail hell. I call the second Verizon help number, but I put in my actual current phone number and get stuck again, and hang up. Finally, I call the second Verizon help number, put in our "new" phone number, wade through the voice mail options for five minutes before being given an option to talk to a real, live human being.

This Verizon representative finally cancels the charges on the second number, assures us that the $67 check the representative promised us a month ago is on its way within the next two weeks. I’ll believe it when I cash it.

Just last week, ANOTHER Verizon bill, this time for $87. It is to laugh, lest one cry.

Next time: Cable.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Short takes 11/14/05

Those of you who don't think contacting your members of Congress, the House approved a ‘motion to instruct’ House conferees to support the four-year sunsets in the Senate bill to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act (S. 1389) rather than the ten-year sunsets in the House bill (H.R. 3199). Tell your folks that "concerned Americans in your district, and throughout the country, are outraged about post-9/11 civil liberties abuses and have been calling for changes to the PATRIOT Act and other anti-terrorism laws and policies for the past four years. To date, seven state legislatures and nearly 400 local governments have passed resolutions expressing concern about these laws and policies, and calling on Congress to uphold civil liberties." Find your members of Congress here.
The new iPod.
Carol and I saw the film Good Night, and Good Luck, directed by George Clooney. I won't review it except to say it was very good and the cinematography was grand. Watch the Eisenhower speech about the protection of habeus corpus near the end of the film (and compare the current aedministration's policy re: the same.
A question, though. There was a reference in the end credits to Technicolor. Does anyone know if it was filmed in color and processed in black and white?

Somehow, I missed the death earlier this month of actress Sheree North. She's probably best known as Cosmo Kramer's mother on Seinfeld, but I remember her best as Lou Grant's feisty, no-nonsense girlfriend on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She's one of those actresses with a LONG career, starting out as a substitute for Marilyn Monroe. If you saw her, you'd likely say, "Oh, yeah, HER."

Meme Monday: Independent Films

First off:

My computer is fixed. More in due course. But what this means is that I won't be posting and writing at the public library, with a one-hour maximum and usually a waiting list to use the public computers, something that I've been doing for the last three or four weeks. So, I can write longer pieces again.

From Empire via Tom the Dog.

I thought I saw a lot of indy films (most of the films I see are at the indy theater in town, but as you will see, massive gaps. Italics I saw.

1. Reservoir Dogs: This was one of those films that I thought I should see, but the descripton of the violence kept me away.
2. Donnie Darko: I heard nothing but good things, especially from the cinephile in my office, and yet...
3. The Terminator: Nope.
4. Clerks: Missed this one, too. Actually want to see this.
5. Monty Python's Life of Brian: FINALLY, a film I've seen. And liked. If you grew up in a religious tradition, as I have, it's either funnier (what I say), or abhorent. I laughed a LOT in this movie.
6. Night of the Living Dead. Nope.
7. Sex, Lies, and Videotape. From what I've read, this movie just about created the indy movie as a viable entity. Seeing James Spader on Boston Public, I see him as just a grown-up version of the character in this film.
8. The Usual Suspects. Loved it. Keyser Sose sees dead people.
9. Sideways. Very fond of this, although I agree with Tom that it may be "a little too recent to rank quite so high."
10. Mean Streets. Was into not seeing violent films at the time.
11. Bad Taste. Don't really know this film.
12. Eraserhead. Meant to see.
13. Memento. REALLY meant to see; life got in the way.
14. Stranger Than Paradise. Nope.
15. Blood Simple. Sometimes you see the trailer SO often you think you did.
16. She's Gotta Have It. More important as what it led to in Spike Lee's career, I think.
17. City of God. Got squeamish.
18. Withnail and I. Only recall vaguely.
19. Lone Star. Of COURSE, I saw this one. It's a Sayles' film, and possibly my favorite.
20. Slacker. This I should see.
21. Roger and Me. Any movie with my NAME in it is required viewing.
22. Nosferatu. Nope.
23. The Evil Dead. Wasn't interested in seeing.
24. Happiness. My WIFE saw this film, and I was busy that night.
25. Drugstore Cowboy. Need to see.
26. Lost in Translation. Didn't love it.
27. Dark Star. No.
28. In the Company of Men. I was very intrigued by ther trailer and the reviews.
29. Bad Lieutenant. Nein.
30. Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song: My SISTER saw this when it was brand new.
31. Pink Flamingos. Saw LOTS of Waters films.
32. Two Lane Blacktop. Don't remember it.
33. Shallow Grave. Don't remember it.
34. The Blair Witch Project. Wasn't that interested.
35. THX-1138. Falls in the category of "I SHOULD see it."
36. Buffalo '66. Only vaguely recall.
37. Being John Malkovich- I'm quite fond of this. First of several Keener films I've seen.
38. Grosse Point Blank Saw it on video, which I don't know is the same as actually SEEING it.
39. The Passion of the Christ. Actually I didn't feel like sitting through the agony, and didn't feel like giving Mel more money to prove I was a Christian.
40. The Descent. This is a recent film. I see very few recent films.
41. Dead Man's Shoes. Also too recent. (Too recent is any time after March 2003.)
42. Swingers. How did I manage to miss this film?
43. Shadows. I've seen John Cassavetes films, but I've never even heard of this one.
44. Amores Perros. Violence fear.
45. Mad Max. I may have seen parts on commercial TV.
46. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. No interest.
47. Blood Feast. Definitely no interest. I believe FantaCo may have publish a book about this.
48. Cube. I'm not remembering.
49. Run Lola Run. Saw trailer MANY times.
50. El Mariachi. Maybe someday.

10 out of 50? I must have spent my time seeing lower quality indy films. Lots of rental ideas for me here, at least.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Review: Gilbert's Halloween Mix

I participated in a CD exchange with about a half dozen folks, presumably with a Halloweenish theme. Most of the folks have their own blogs, and most of the CDs came so close to Halloween that I didn't have time to give them a decent listen. I figure that the bloggers can comment on their own work. (I found a lot to recommend on Greg's, Kelly's, Lefty's and especially Gordon's discs.) I WAS fascinated that Gordon and Gilbert both picked William Shatner, Gordon and I both picked CCR, and Lefty and I both picked the Rolling Stones and Howlin' Wolf, but they were different cuts. Kelly and I both picked Thriller by Michael Jackson, but mine was just the extended rap.

But the one CD that continues to command my attention (OK, to haunt me) is the one from this guy Gilbert. I couldn't read his last name on the envelope, and I tossed his address after I sent a copy of my CD to him.

NAME: Gilbert
BLOG NAME: none that I'm aware of
NAME OF CD: Cowboys horror mix: Be very afraid
RUNNING TIME: 1:19 (that's one hour, 19 minutes)
COVER ART: Photograph of Barbra Streisand, who does not appear on the album
1. Spiders and Snakes- Jim Stafford
2. Boomshakalaka-Dumb and Dumber song (by Apache Indian, I have read)
3. I Play Chicken with the Train-Cowboy Troy
4. I Believe I Can Fly-William Hung
5. Peanut Butter and Jelly Time-Buckwheat Boyz
6. Run, Joey, Run-David Geddes
7. It's a Small World After All-from Disney
8. No, No, No-Yoko Ono
9. We Built This City-Starship
10. Men in Black-Will Smith
11. Spice Up Your Life-Spice Girls
12. Hooked on a Feeling-David Hasselhoff
13. Macarena-Los Del Rio
14. I Wanna Sex You Up-William Shatner
15. Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades-Timbuk 3
16. Enter Sandman-Pat Boone
17. Disco Duck-Rick Dees
18. Achy Breaky Heart-Billy Ray Cyrus
19. Mr. Roboto-Styx
20. Common People-William Shatner
21. Mr. Jaws-from the Dr. Demento Collection (probably Dickie Goodman)
22. Da Da Da-Trio
23. Dueling Banjos-Lester Flatts & Earl Scruggs
ALREADY REVIEWED BY: Cut #4 has bee (see below)
GENERAL THOUGHTS: I get it, I GET it, Gilbert. These songs are all so bad, they're scary. Well, it's more of a mixed bag for me.
THINGS I PARTICULARLY LOVED: 8, 23. Then there are those innocuous dumb songs (e.g., 1, 15). 3 is sorta funny, as is 20.
9- I'm quoted in an article entitled ALL THOSE BAD SONGS SAY SO MUCH (May 12, 2004 ALBANY Times Union):
"The WORST song ever, worse than `Honey,' worse than `Having My Baby' (is) `The Men in My Little Girl's Life,' by Mike Douglas. It went to 6 in '66 (see the 666, sign of the Antichrist?) Of course, [that was] way before the MTV/VH1 era, for which `We Bilked This City Outta Rock 'n' Roll' is a pretty good choice." (Roger Green, Albany)
That latter reference was to the FantaCo parody, Sold Out #1, one of the two comic books I ever co-wrote. The comic read: "We bilked this city on black and whites". So my disdain for the Starship track runs ver-r-ry deep, maybe because the root group (Jefferson Airplane) was so removed from that corporate rock sound.
12 is a perfectly good song by B.J. Thomas (#5, 1969), turned into that "oo-ga-cha-ka" song by Blue Swede (#1, 1974). Naturally, Mr. Baywatch picked the Swedish version to cover.
13, 18-I don't do any cult dances; that includes the chicken dance, the electric slide and these two.
17- 'nuff said
And most particularly, 4: Lefty threatened to punch Gil out over this song. Gordon seconded that emotion. And these are peaceful guys!
I should say that on a scale of 1 to 1000, with 1000 being the angelic choir, and 1 being a jackhammer waking you up in the middle of the night in the next room, this is probably a 2, only because the instrumentalists, unlike the fallen Idol candidate, is in tune.
OFFICE FRIENDLY: If you don't mind your ears bleeding occasionally
ONLY VAGUELY RELATED: Mr. Jaws is a descendent of that music pastiche started back in 1956 with The Flying Saucer, which, for some reason, I find that I own on a beat-up 45.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Rock Meme-Neil Young Hits the Big 6-0

Yes, Neil made it to 60, despite that real health scare of a brain aneurysm earlier this year.

He may very well be my favorite living artist. I have, in one form or another, at least two dozen of his albums, from Buffalo Springfield, to CSNY (and combinations thereof), to his range of solo works. He changes phases like a chameleon, and I've gone with him through most of them: folk-rock to rock to rockabilly, electronic to grunge. I have his current album, Prairie Wind, on my Christmas wish list (along with other geezers such as Macca, the Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder).

Here's a recent interview.

I knew that Neil is a big train enthusiast, and I ALMOST made a mixed tape of train songs to send to him. Ultimately, I didn't, but only because I thought it was a bit too geeky.

Artist/Band: Neil Young (b. in Toronto, 11/12/1945)
Are you male or female: Man Needs a Maid
Describe yourself: We R in Control
How do some people feel about you: Mystery Train
How do you feel about yourself: Like a Hurricane
Describe what you want to be: Campaigner
Describe how you live: Don't Let It Bring You Down
Describe how you love: When You Dance, I Can Really Love; Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Share a few words of wisdom: Rust Never Sleeps

One (Not So) Simple Question: Conventional Wisdom

All I want to hear from you fine folks is one (or more) example(s) of "conventional wisdom" that proved not to be the case. Your favorite(s), particularly the ones you believe many people STILL believe. (Is this motivated by statistics in my Veterans Day post? You betcha.)

Example: Lincoln did NOT write the Gettsburg Address on the back of an envelope while riding on the train from Washington to Gettysburg.

Example: Bra burning at the first significant feminist rally in Atlantic City. Didn't happen. There WAS conversation about doing so, but the organizers couldn't get a fire permit.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans Day 2005

One of the fundamental roots of the American political process is that ultimately, we have civilian, rather than military, leadership of the military. We HAVE had former military leaders (Jackson, WH Harrison, Grant, e.g.) as Presidents. The last person to come from that tradition, Dwight David Eisenhower, warned us against a "military-industrial complex"; that warning proved to be too true.

It is the job of the military to fight wars. It is the duty of the civilian leadership to ascertain those rare times that we should fight those wars. In the run-up to the war in Iraq, from September of 2002 to April 2003, I was at a demonstration against this potential conflict nearly every week. Certainly, I was informed by some of my pacifist acquaintances of the impropriety of a "war of choice." But I was also persuaded by people who had fought in the military: World War II veteran George HW Bush ("41"), who chose NOT to go into Baghdad during the Gulf War and Vietnam War veteran Colin Powell, who helped lead the Gulf War effort. (Powell has recanted his February 2003 testimony before the U.N.)

During the buildup to the war, perhaps in January 2003, CBS News reporter Bob Simon, who was captured during the 1991 Gulf War, did an opinion piece for CBS Sunday Morning. He said, essentially, that the U.S. has over 100,000 troops in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is (reluctantly) letting the inspectors go wherever they want looking for the WMDs. Why not keep the status quo? Just keep looking until they’re found?

Of course, that was not the intention of the "chicken hawks" Bush, Cheney and those around them. They wanted to invade Iraq, and seemed to have used 9/11 as the excuse.
I haven’t found a more recent poll, but in a Harris poll in February 2005:
47 percent believed that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, up six percentage points from November;
44 percent actually believed that several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis, up significantly from 37% in November (most of the hijackers were Saudis);
36 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded (down slightly from 38% in November).

As much as I opposed the war, I was also of the opinion that those military leaders that wanted 300,000 troops were probably right. But the administration wanted to win the war on the cheap, so they found someone to agree with their numbers, around 135,000, launched the war, toppled Saddam, and W infamously declared "Mission Accomplished."

Meanwhile, those opposing the war were forced on their heels with three little words: "Support the Troops." War opponents were bending over backwards showing that "we support the troops", if not the particular mission. But opposing the war was tantamount to treason, even more so than during Vietnam, the last war I actively opposed.
I look at things this way: the troops are supposed to fight when and where assigned. They should avoid egregious errors (My Lai, Abu Gharib). But the decision to deploy falls on the civilian leadership.

The parallels with Vietnam came out very quickly, and I'm not sure I bought them early on, but now, I'm more inclined to:
VietNam: A long, and largely, secret relationship, going back to 1956.
Iraq: A long, and largely, secret relationship, going back to at least 1983.
VietNam: The rationale is to stop the spread of communism there, lest we fight it at our front door.
Iraq: The rationale is to stop the spread of terrorism there, lest we fight it at our front door.
VietNam: Our broader involvement was based on a big lie. (Gulf of Tonkin resolution, 1964.)
Iraq: Our broader involvement was based on a big lie. (9/11 and Iraq, 2001 onward.)

So on this Veterans’ Day, I recognize and honor the great valor of those who have fought in wars, even as I mourn again the idiocy that got us here.

(The picture above is of my friend David and me at an antiwar demonstration in mid-February 2003.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ramblin' Thoughts-11/10/2005

Ramblin’ Roundup: Things that won’t generate a whole posting, but that are on my mind:


Lydia’s persistent cold- 3 ½ weeks of varying conditions: runny nose, cough, sneezing. She was home for a week, has been to the doctor twice, Is now on antibiotics. Yet she is generally in good spirits (except on Tuesday, when I think she had teething pain).

A friend of mine had an episode of TIA. I must admit that I had no idea what TIA was, unless it was referring to the Travel Industry Association of America or the Toy Industry association. Best wishes to Deb.

One of the members of my church choir was hit by a truck on Central Avenue (Route 5) in Albany last week. She had to have hip replacement surgery and will require quite a bit of rehab. A speedy recovery to Lucille.

I'm happy to note that my minister is out of the hospital, after having some neurosurgical procedure. Joe'll be back in the saddle in a couple weeks.

Benjamin: my friends from choir, Britany and David had a baby on Friday, a boy weighing about 6 ½ pounds and measuring at 2o inches. Family was already home on Sunday. Bethany is now a big sister. I'm very happy for them all.

In re: birthing, our birth class teacher Emily is on the front cover of today's Metroland. The daughter of one of my co-workers goes to school with Emily's son Arlo, something I didn't know until today.

Darrin & Suzy-my boss and his long-time girlfriend are engaged to be married next year. Congrats.

Give blood- that’s what I did yesterday, time #111.

A story even too too wacky for Greg Burgas!


Election Day-yes, the incumbent mayor won in Albany, but only one of his three picks for school board. And my friend Judy was one of the winners, no doubt because of my lawn sign. (Does ANYONE vote as a result of lawn signs?)

My friend Mark wrote: "Is it just me, or is there something ironic with having both of the following headlines in the same box on MSNBC?
  • WP: Bush orders ethics training for staff (which is no longer on the page---hmmm)
  • Cheney urges exemption to torture ban for CIA

    I have a PDF of what purports to be Rosa Parks' funeral service, which I will e-mail to anyone woho wants it. It's nice.


    A science fiction/comic book/fantasy/rock & roll covention in Springfield, MA this weekend, featuring Leonard Nimoy, Peter David, John Wetton and John Hebert.

    And speaking of comic book artist Hebert, he writes: "Go to the attached and check out the cast and crew notes...look for a familiar name in both of which, then go to the production photos and look very may see a familiar face and vehicle....."

    A bit late for Halloween, but there's always next year: How Zombies Work

    Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian- this is a relatively recent segment on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio show. She kicks butt, as one would expect a librarian to do.

    JEOPARDY!-there’s a woman on from Salt Lake City who won for five days. (They’re now in the college tournament for two weeks.) It took Alex all of four days to invoke the name of SLC resident and 74-day champion Ken Jennings. Please make him stop.

    It's Don't Bring Your Dogs to Work time.

    Rock & roll feuds: Yoko Ono apologized to Paul McCartney for suggesting his music is vapid. Mike Love is suing his cousin and former fellow Beach Boy Brian Wilson over some fool thing having to do with Beach Boy album given away in relationship to Wilson's SmiLE album.

    Everything you need to be a working actor

    Scanner-I bought one from a church sale a week and a half ago for $3; still haven’t gotten around to installing it. When/if I do successfully, there are things I want to share with you all.
  • Wednesday, November 09, 2005


    My father was rather fearless, or so it seemed to me when I was a kid. Very little in the world seemed to ruffle him. If he were upset by the Cuban missle crisis, I never saw it. When Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he went to Binghamton's downtown to try to keep a lid on the violence that ended up devastating other cities.

    The ONLY time I ever saw him lose his cool due to events external to the family was the blackout of November 9, 1965, forty years ago today. He suggested that the event, which covered 13 states and two Canadian provinces, was perhaps a communist plot. I NEVER heard my father mention communism, except in passing, and certainly never as something that he particularly feared. When my father was worried, I was worried, even if I didn't quite believe that the blackout was a function of a Red menace.

    As a result of that event, "the powers that be" said that the power would never go out in that fashion ever again. And, of course, that proved to be true, if you don't count some smaller incidents, such as the 1977 blackout in NYC.

    Until August 14, 2003.

    The thing I most remember about that day: practically the first thing I heard about that blackout was the authorities eliminating the possibility that the event was related to terrorism. (That, and the fact that in Albany, every fourth traffic light was working. Our office lost power, but our house was out for only five minutes or so.)

    So, where is the line between taking legitimate precautions and living in fear? More and more, I know less and less. I tend to lean against what I consider to be the position of paranoia, but maybe I'm just naive.

    (Thanks again to FGH for the photo scan.)

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Rock Meme-Bonnie Raitt

    I went to visit my girlfiend at college in May 1971. Much to my surprise, we ended up breaking up. Wounded, I ended up visiting my friend Steve in Poughkeepsie, and he told me about this singer/guitarist named Bonnie Raitt, who he had seen perform. He was really wowed by her, when when I heard her Give It Up album the next year, so was I.

    What is it about me and female Scorpio women musicians vis a vis my romantic relationships? lang, Mitchell, and now Raitt. And I never realized it until this month. More self-discovery on the blog.

    Artist/Band: Bonnie Raitt (b. 11/8/1949)
    Are you male or female: Nobody's Girl
    Describe yourself: Rock Steady
    How do some people feel about you: Something to Talk About
    How do you feel about yourself: I Feel the Same
    Describe what you want to be: Good Enough
    Describe how you live: Road's My Middle Name
    Describe how you love: Love Sneakin' Up on You
    Share a few words of wisdom: Give It Up or Let Me Go; You're Gonna Get What's Coming

    Vote, Dammit!

    I already have, at 6:10 a.m. Pretty much straight line Working Families and Green parties, plus some Democratic judges. New York allows for cross-endorsements.

    For some reason, this song by Tom Paxton, popularized by Pete Seeger, came to mind, especially the last verse:

    What Did You Learn In School Today

    What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
    I learned that Washington never told a lie
    I learned that soldiers seldom die
    I learned that everybody's free
    That's what the teacher said to me
    And that's what I learned in school today
    That's what I learned in school

    What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
    I learned that policemen are my friends
    I learned that justice never ends
    I learned that murderers die for their crimes
    Even if we make a mistake sometimes
    And that's what I learned in school today
    That's what I learned in school

    What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
    I learned that war is not so bad
    I learned about the great ones we have had
    We fought in Germany and in France
    And someday I might get my chance
    And that's what I learned in school today
    That's what I learned in school

    What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
    I learned that our government must be strong
    It's always right and never wrong
    Our leaders are the finest men
    So we elect them again and again
    And that's what I learned in school today
    That's what I learned in school

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    When I hear Joni

    I got married in 1972 at the age of 19. Yes, we were young and foolish and in love. By 1974, we were fighting, mostly about two things: money, or the lack of it, and religion, or my lack of it.
    On the money front, she was working as a nurse. I was in still in school. I did the grocery shopping with my neighbor Debi, going to two stores to get the best prices. We loathed it when our significant others wanted to go shopping too. They were always wanting to buy off-budget things like Screaming Yellow Zonkers.
    On the religion front, she became a Baha’i, while I was pulling away from my traditional, near fundamentalist Christian ways to a place of serious doubt about organized religion altogether. Baha’is aren’t supposed to proselytize, but she was pretty isolated and wasn’t aware of that. And the primary target of her conversion tactics was me.
    Also, she had this annoying tendency to bring strays home. I don’t mean stray dogs or cats. I mean people. Two different women were sleeping on our couch for considerable periods of time. I didn’t know them, I didn’t invite them, and they weren’t even paying any rent.
    Early in the summer of 1974, we bought tickets to see Joni Mitchell on August 22 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, something I was really looking forward to. We rode up from New Paltz to Saratoga, a distance of some 90 miles, with my friend Mark and his then-girlfriend. They were in the front seats. For 90 miles, I (and they) heard a tirade of everything that I had ever done wrong in the relationship, including things I thought were resolved, things I had no idea bothered her from months earlier, and things I had no idea what she was talking about. This continued out of the car, through the SPAC gates, into our seats. Certainly she would stop when the music started. No, she kept on, even when the opening act, Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, who would also be Joni’s backing band, started playing.
    I got up and sat somewhere else, some 20 rows behind her and my friends. There were people checking tickets in the amphitheater to make sure people were in the correct seats, so I moved around. At intermission, I went back to our original seats. My wife was crying hysterically because the ticket checkers had misread one of the tickets of another patron, was going to put him in her seat and throw her out because she didn’t have a ticket at all. (I had them both.)
    We saw the second part of the show without incident. (This was the tour reflected in the Miles of Aisles album.) We went home, and I doubt any of the four of us uttered 10 words for that 90 miles home.
    We separated shortly after that, wrote bilious letters back and forth, then less angry correspondence. We finally got to a point of being quite civil.
    I went to visit her in 1981. By then, she was living in Philadelphia. There was an outdoor concert that we went to see. I don’t remember much about the performance. I was just glad we had gotten to be in a better place. The performer, of course, was Joni Mitchell.

    Artist/Band: Joni Mitchell (b. Roberta Joan Anderson, 11/7/1943)
    Are you male or female: Lucky Girl
    Describe yourself: Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire
    How do some people feel about you: Real Good for Free
    How do you feel about yourself: Pirate of Penance
    Describe what you want to be: Don Juan's Restless Daughter
    Describe how you live: Impossible Dreamer
    Describe how you love: You Turn Me On-I'm a Radio
    Share a few words of wisdom: In France They Kiss on Main Street; God Must Be a Boogie Man

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Bottle Entrepreneurs

    New York State has a bottle and can return law, five cents on beer and soda. There’s conversation about expanding it to bottled water, bottled iced tea and other beverages.

    The return rate for these containers is about 70 to 80%. Shockingly (to me), people I know actually THROW AWAY these containers. (Shocking, because these people drink a LOT of beer.) This is problematic for a couple reasons. One issue is that the behavior adds waste to the landfill. The other is that it fuels unfortunate behavior in those people I call the "bottle entrepreneurs," those people who pick up the cans that other people throw away.

    In general, I believe the bottle entrepreneurs perform an important public service. After a concert I attended at Washington Park in Albany, the BE were out in force picking up redeemable containers. I swear that the city officials actually waited for them to come through with their bags and (presumably stolen) shopping carts, before starting the clean up. And why not? It creates less work for the city people to do, and less waste to go to the ever-burgeoning landfill.

    In the city, municipal trash is supposed to be separated by the homeowners and renters. Newspapers, recycled aluminum cans, and bottles (only the #1 and #2) are supposed to be placed in blue plastic containers issued by the city. Lawn waste (leaves, e.g.) goes in long paper bags. The rest goes in the regular garbage.

    The problem occurs when the BE come down the street on trash night, looking for returnables. They look in the blue containers, which sometimes HAVE returnables. They even go through some trash that ins put in clear plastic bags when they can see potential nickels in waiting. One of my neighbors has a note on her blue container, not a handwritten note, but a an 8” X 5” message on a label maker that says:
    This Container Does Not Have ANY Returnable Bottles or Cans. KEEP OUT!

    Another neighbor saw a man walking onto her porch; she was across the street at the time, and yelled, "May I help you?" The BE said, "Oh, I ring the doorbell here all of the time." The neighbor disputed this report, when ANOTHER BE shouted, "Oh, give him a dollar, he’s hungry!" The neighbor, not liking being lied to, declined the offer.

    I have no solution to the problem unless people start returning bottles at a much greater rate, rendering the garbage picking behavior unprofitable. I mostly favor the expansion of the Bottle Law to include other containers. I figure that the BEs will merely have to make fewer stops before their carts are full. At the same time, it’s really annoying when your recycles are rifled through so that containers are all over the lawn and the city fails to collect what you put out.

    I guess this is meant by "The joys of urban life."


    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    3 Voting ?s

    One year, in 1976, I voted five times, in the Presidential primary, the regular primary, the general election, and two school-related votes. Do I think it makes a difference? I’m not sure. But I keep doing it, just in case. Also, I've had ancestors who fought for the right to vote, so I'm just not willing to just give it away.

    This year, one race where voting won’t make a lick of difference is in the Albany mayoral contest. I know the challengers HATE that kind of talk, but I believe it, as do most observers. This is a one-party town, Democratic, and the incumbent, Jerry "How-Many-Events-Can-I-Make-In-One-Day?" Jennings, will get his fourth four-year term.
    Naturally, I will vote for someone else. In this case, that would be Alice Green, coincidentally the Green Party candidate, and unrelated to me. (But she lives less than two blocks from my house.) Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary came to her house for a fundraiser. When Ralph Nader endorsed her, he practically challenged Jennings' manhood for failing to debate her; there was also someone in a chicken costume outside City Hall.
    There is a Republican candidate, Joe Sullivan, but he is practically Harold Stassen.

    The mayor used to be a school vice-principal, so he tries to run the school board as well, though it is not in his purview. We received a very well-crafted flier for three of the six candidates. As it turns out, those three are the ones supported by the mayor.

    I don’t know one of the other three candidates; the second is a decent incumbent. But I am familiar with Judy Doesschate. In fact, I’ve known Judy for 30 years. We were in student government together at the State University College at New Paltz in 1974 and 1975. She was the editor of the student newsletter I worked on. Good luck, Judy!

    In New York State, there are two Propositions. Prop 2 is easy for me. It's a $2.9 billion bond issue for transportation. I'm in favor of the things that the bond issue would pay for, but not via that payment methodology.
    Prop 1 is harder. It would "reform" the state budget process, which Allah knows we need, since 20 of the last 21 budgets have been late. It pushes back the budget due date from April 1 to May 1 (that's OK), and if there is no budget, would provide for provisional amounts to go to school districts, instead of them having to borrow, which is great news. Yet it seems that it allows the state legislature, which will be stronger vis a vis the governor in this new paradigm, not to bother working to meet the new deadline for the budget at all. People whose opinions I value come down on both sides of the issue.

    So, my three questions for you are of an electoral nature; my tresponses will be in the answer section as well:

    How often do you vote? Every election? Just the general elections in November? Every two years? Every four years? Never?

    Why do so few Americans vote? Is the registration process in your state too onerous? (Registration is very different from state to state.)

    Will you ever run for elected office? For what office? And why? (And if not, why not?)

    BONUS QUESTION FOR NEW YORKERS: What's YOUR take on Prop 1, or for that matter, Prop 2, the Albany mayor's race, the NYC's mayor's race, or anything else electoral?