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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gorilla My Dreams

My computer (Windows Media Player) is playing the songs on the CDs I pop in in random order; it never did THAT before. My PDF isn't working. My e-mail hangs up when I send. Web pages load slowly.

I blame it all on:

I tried to get someone to wear his gorilla mask, his Halloween perennial, but he declined. All I can do is laugh...

My friends, the authors

I've been blessed to know some fairly erudite people. In the last few months, some of them have been published:

My friend Sarah McCue wrote Farce to Force : Building Profitable E-Commerce Strategies.This is at least her fourth book.

Dr. Sarah McCue is manager of the Information and Communications Technology for Development practice at the United Nations Development Program in New York. She also wrote The Federal Role of National Export Development Organizations and drafted the E-Commerce Strategy for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

I first met her when she worked for the Michigan Small Business Development Center, but she is not nearly as stuffy as all of those titles might suggest.

My former library colleague at the NYS SBDC, Jennifer Boettcher, also a prolific author, wrote a book with Lenny Gaines, who I also know pretty well. It is entitled Industry Research Using the Economic Census : How to Find It, How to Use It (How to Find It, How to Use It). I happen to be a geek for these types of data.

Finally, the NYS SBDC has published an award-winning book called "What's Your Signage." It was written largely by my current library colleague, Darrin Conroy. The book acts as an introduction for small business owners to the importance that signage can have on their business. Since 1 in 7 Americans move each year, good signage can make a real difference. I started attending a new church six years ago, and I had no idea where the "Rose Room" was, but subsequently, there was great signage provided throughout the building, which made me feel much more welcome.

Don't know if most of you will find these of interest, but I am proud of each of the authors.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Guru Is His Middle Name

The first time I met Fred Hembeck in person I was disappointed: no squiggles on his knees.
The first time I met Free Hembeck in person, I was relieved: his head doesn't REALLY look like pair of butt cheeks.
Oh, but I kid.

Actually, the first time I met "Fred Hembeck", the guy pictured above, was in the pages of the old Comics Buyers' Guide, where Fred and "Fred" had a regular column.

In 1979, I was in New York City, at a comic book store at the West 4th Street subway stop (Greenwich Village) when I saw a blue-covered book with familiar artwork. It was Best of Dateline @#$%! , published by Eclipse, and while I was by then frequenting a comic store I would later work at, FantaCo, I had never seen the book there. So I bought it.

The first time I met the REAL Fred Hembeck was in February of 1980, when he was doing a signing of his second collection, Hembeck 1980. This was at FantaCo, who published it. I don't particularly remember it, but in my journal, I eferred to him as Mr. Hembeck.


Even then, he was just Fred. I saw him often for a while, when he came into the store. We saw each other outside the store, too. He wrote to me last year:
"Remember that time you took us to your friend's party in that trailer park, and the redneckish neighbors shot off rifles at midnight, and then stopped by the party? Whoa! SOME fun! NOW, that's a memory - the Deliverence-styled moment faced by us erstwhilke hippies!"

But he and Lynn moved away, I left FantaCo and eventually got out of comic collecting, and we lost touch. These things happen.

Then, in October 2004, I run into a mutual friend, Rocco Nigro, who said, "You know Fred has a website?" Why no, I didn't, and I went to it and liked it a lot. I e-mailed Fred and told him so. We've been regular correspondents ever since, exchanging mixed CDs, even Andy Williams, and opinions of the world.

Subsequently, I read pretty much everything on the site, even the posts from the previous year and three-quarters. I even found myself mentioned in one or two of his columns: (see May 14, e.g.)

I started "helping" my old buddy, trying to explain the difference between it's and its, and pointing out some broken links.

Eventually, I even started appearing in his column (January 17, 18, 23, March 28, 29, 31 and April 2, 2005). I think it was after the last two pieces (Herb Alpert and link to spoof LP covers that I thought about actually doing something like this myself. And a month to the day later, May 2, I did.

Of course, I kept harassing Fred about this and that.

Then last summer, we actually met in person for the first time in a LONG time - you can read about this, Rashomon-style, here at August 9 and 17 and here. It was great!

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FRED! Glad we're back in each other's lives, and we've been able to renew our friendship.

But always remember, and never forget, I'm younger than you are for the next five weeks.

(Oh, yeah, his real middle name is George, but when I send him stuff, I always change it something else starting with a G, just because.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday Funnies: The Black Comic Book, Pt. 3

More on The Colored Negro Black Comic Book by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.

Note: in the comic strip tradition all the words in the strip are in capitals, but for readability, I've deigned to write in standard English. Also the words that are in bold in the strip are in red in this text.

"Tarskin", a 4-page response to "Tarzan"

Page 1- Tarskin saves guy with diamond from a roaarr!ing lion

Page 2:

Page 3, Panel 1:
Diamond guy: Amazing! That this great black man should help and befriend a white man!
Tarskin: ?
Page 3, Panel 2:
Tarskin: You- mean – you not black?
Diamond guy: Of course not! Don’t tell me you took my sunburn-…

Page 4:
Diamond guy’s hat on ground in foreground, lion chewing on a bone, going mmrraaarrmm- and Tarskin walking away with the diamond, passing a Pogo-like character.
The chimpanzee Cheetah (looks at lion) Ooh.
Daddy Warbucks (?!) (peeks from around tree): Ooh.

While I do appreciate the fact that the man was trying to rip off our hero, I don't know how allowing the man to be fed to the animals was supposed to promote racial understanding. Even if he IS "The Man".


"Laughin' Black" a 4-page parody of "Smilin' Jack", a strip that ran from 1933 to 1973, and which ran in my local papers when I was growing up, as did most of the strips represented.

Page 1: (Three airmen in background, head officer shaking Laughin’ Black’s hand)
Officer: Welcome to our squadron, Laughin’ Black!
Laughin’: Thank you, sir!

Page 2:

Page 3, Panel 1:
Officer (next to Laughin’): We all fight for the same country, wear the same uniforms, and each of us has his very own plane
Page 3, Panel 2: Other pilots running to their planes)
Loudspeaker: Pilots! Man your planes!

Panel 4:
While jets are in the air, Laughin’ is shocked when he comes to his plane (Sign: L. Black), which is a rickety old biplane.
Laughin’: !

In the panel shown, the officer practically says the old cliche, "A credit to his race." This story did portray some truths about separate but unequal treatment.

I’m reminded how the valor of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II helped finally integrate the armed services.


"Little Ofay Nannie", a 4-page take on "Little Orphan Annie"
The convention in this strip is to underline certain words, rather than making them bold. Since I'm loath to underline - it means hyperlink to me - I will italicize the underlined text.

Page 1:
Nannie (smiling): Oh, Dandy - isn't it fantabulous that Daddy is coming home for my 65th birthday party?
Dandy (smiling): Arf

Page 2, Panel 1:
Nannie: He's been on a business trip to wonderful places like South VietNam, the Union of South Africa and Rhodesia!
Dandy: Arf
Page 2, Panel 2:
Nannie (in a classic arm-up "Annie" pose"): It'll be such fun to see him again!
Dandy: Arf

Page 3

Page 4:
Nannie (angry, pointing finger at Daddy): Turn blue, you @*O!![dagger]@ honky!!!
Dandy (growling at Daddy): Grr!
Daddy (shocked): !

While her anger was, and is, understandable, this rant left me cold, because it seemed to come out of the blue. It's interesting how the panel before the flaming is the only panel where she does not have those hollow eyes.

I was interested in the citation of South Viet Nam as one of the places Daddy was off exploiting. The African countries' white-ruled governments were obvious targets. (Rhodesia is now Zimbabwe.) I wonder if South Viet Nam was picked because a disportionate number of black soldiers were kllled in the war? Or maybe it's that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested, too many people of color, including innocent Vietnamese were dying there.

You'll note that I've added Toonopedia links to the mention of the source comic strip. I did it for "Smilin' Jack" because I figured many of you wouldn't be familiar with him. But I've decided to add the link to all of the reviews, including those previously completed, just in case you didn't know who Superman or Blondie were.

Two Ramblin' Thoughts

1. The State of the Onion is on Tuesday. It's pre-empting "Commander in Chief". I think I'd rathervwatch Geena Davis. I'll tape the speech, and fast forward through all the times the Congress stands up for the obvious applause lines (about our brave fighting forces, e.g.), and grit my teeth as he once again defends domestic spying.

2. Apparently, Jennifer is over Brad canoodling with Angelina, now that she's living with Vince. Categorize this under: Things I REALLY Don't Care About, But Discover Standing At The Checkout Line.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

3 Super Bowl Questions

1. Who do want to win? Who do you think will win? Or are you a person who neither knows nor cares?

2a. If you watch: What time do you start watching? All afternoon, or just before game time?
2b. If you don't watch, do you have an anti-Super Bowl ritual, such as going to the movies?

3. Super Bowl Sunday - secular holiday?
Football 101.


The thing I remember most about the Challenger disaster is that I'm pretty sure I had NO idea that a shuttle was being launched that particular day. Sure, there was all that "First Teacher in Space" stuff, but the thing had been postponed so many times that I frankly lost interest.

I was working at the comic book store, FantaCo, listening to my favorite radio station of all time, Q-104, when the 10-2 shift DJ, Mary Margaret (Peggy) Apple, who I knew well, stopped playing music to announce the disaster. From the little of the particulars that I remember, my sense is that she handled the story rather professionally, something she was rarely, if ever, called on to do in that job.

Later, when I gothome, I saw the pictures of the 73-second flight over and over ad nauseum uuntil I was practically nauseous. Eventually, I would learned more about O-rings than I ever thought possible.

I also remember where I was when the Columbia tragedy took place, at home getting ready for an annual MidWinter's party in the MidHudson Valley of New York State. I called my friend Mark, a real space geek and broke the news to either him or his wife Paula; they lived in the MidHudson and were going to be at the party. My first thought when I heard about it - it's the same weekend as the Challenger 17 weeks earlier! Well, not exactly, but pretty close (1/28/1986, 2/1/2003). That time, I felt even a greater sense of loss, for the Challenger disaster taught me never to take these extraordinary technological events for granted ever again.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Underground Railroad Conference

I've know Paul and Mary Liz Stewart for a lot of years. Don't see them often, especially A.L. (after Lydia), but they are friends. Such good friends that, when they called to invite us to dinner at their house last Friday, we made a bold counterproposal that they come to our house, with them bringing dinner, and they actually accepted. (It's easier to get Lydia to bed that way.) We had a great time with them and their youngest son Joel - who's into music from electronic games, an area about which I know NOTHING - talking and playing (non-scoring!) SCRABBLE.

I was one of the first people to go on their Underground Railroad tours of Albany a few years ago. They held an Underground Railroad a conference four years ago for a few hours at the College of St. Rose. Each year, the thing gets ever bigger . This year's event is "The Underground Railroad: Connecting Pathways To Liberty".

You can read all about it here.
A Conference On The Underground Railroad Movement In New York State (For more information and to register:, (518) 432-4432.

Incidentally, the map is of Historic Sites and Museums of the Underground Railroad in New York State. Go here to find out more about them.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wolfie 250

Tomorrow marks the 250th anniversary of Amadeus’ birth. To paraphrase the great Tom Lehrer, "When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for 17 years."
Listen to some Mozart tomorrow; it’ll make your brain swell. Or maybe not, but it'll sound purty.

Note to Gordon: A good lapsed Catholic like yourself may enjoy "The Vatican Rag" on the Lehrer site.

The Lydster, Part 22: Schizo Girl

Carol and I went to see Lydia’s day care teacher this month. She said that Lydia is quiet, hardly saying anything, but is pretty much a perfect angel. She cooperates with her nose being wiped and her hair being done.
Conversely, she does not fold paper. She doesn’t "match object to picture." She doesn’t "zip and unzip".
But she never uses the pacifier.

My immediate thought: Does she have the right child?

Lydia’s talking up a storm at home. At the house, nose blowing is a struggle, though she’s moderately more co-operative with her hair, All of those listed activities she does at home, notably unzipping her pajamas. But she often wants the paci, and since she pretty much weaned herself only a month ago, we’re not going to sweat it much.

Fortunately, there seems to be more integration between the home Lydia and the day care Lydia. She sings a lot in both places. She clearly understands language, even when she doesn’t speak. She's using the paci less at home.

Lydia is 22 months old today. We love her, and it appears that the feeling is mutual.

The universal symbol for "I want my paci."

Some parent, probably the male one, has capitulated.
She STILL looks like Little Orphan Lydia.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Librarian seeks reference assistance-animation

I have a real reference question for which I BELIEVE data exist, but I simply cannot put my hands on it.

What are most recognizable animated characters in the U.S. by rank?
and a corallary,
Top 5 animated characters total licensing revenue by categories, (TV, apparel, toys, accessories).

There's this list, but it isn't exactly what I'm looking for.

And speaking of marketing with animation, behold the lawsuit against cereal maker Kellogg's.

Links and other messages: not nearly Burgasian


The e-Bay Song, audio and lyrics. Name-checks William Shatner AND Dr. Dre.

See what song was #1 the day you were born unless you were born before 1955 in the US, in which case, find out what was #1 when you turned 18. For me, that was..."One Bad Apple" by the Osmonds. Oy.

The Absolutely Bottom 50 Funeral Eulogies.

Friend David Brickman will be doing his art criticism spot on WAMC (90.3 fm) today at 9:48 a.m. The topic will be a show of art and artifacts from the Brooklyn Museum at the New York State Museum in Albany. By the way, for the out-of-towners, it is possible to listen online at (live only - not archived).

See the "hottest TV spots of the week" here. The code is aar30z -three letters, two numbers, one letter.

Get your HOOTERS calendar here.

Of course, I'm NEVER bored, but if I were, I'd go to the videos here. The foosball is quite good.

One can buy items with the picture above here. The camisole is my favorite.


"So there you are, on the road, notebook full of trade secrets, and someone swipes it while you're canoodling at the KitKat Club. Career over?" Not necessarily. There's a service which "promises to shut down the PC, and even delete all the data on the notebook."

30-minute pizza promise wreaking havoc in India

The Perfect Church.

Newest member of U.S. Senate.

In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are "limbs," therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, "Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg."


The Blackberry patent case.

Beyond Treason DVD for sale.

Why your newspaper is dying.

Bush on Trial for Crimes against Humanity at the same church where MLKing, Jr. gave that speech most inportant to me.

FINALLY: in anticipation of the new February 3 deadline for the PATRIOT Act's reauthorization, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has designated January 25, 2006, as National PATRIOT Act Call-In Day. Dozens of other organizations are joining in.

What to do: Please join this effort by calling Congress TODAY, January 25th, and ask your friends to do the same.

Dial the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and ask the operator to connect you (24 hours a day) or
Enter your zip code here to find your legislators' direct Washington office phone numbers. To find their district office numbers, click on their names or call your local library.
Please phone both of your Senators and your Representative. Ask your member of Congress to work for a PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill that truly preserves free speech and privacy, and that restores checks and balances, including judicial review and much greater congressional oversight.
Other talking points: If you want to make additional points, here are a few suggestions:
  • Prevent the FBI from "fishing" through our private purchase, medical, and library records by requiring a statement of fact linking persons whose records are sought to a terrorism investigation.
  • Allow businesses and libraries to pose a meaningful challenge to a FISA Court order or a National Security Letter demanding customer records.
  • In light of warrantless wiretapping of domestic email and phone communications authorized by the president, make sure there are sufficient privacy safeguards and oversight on all parts of the PATRIOT Act involving the executive branch (which includes the Department of Justice and the FBI).
  • Protect our First Amendment rights by removing a proposed provision that would subject anyone who protests in cordoned-off areas at Presidential appearances to prison sentences up to 10 years.
  • Eliminate proposed new death penalties from the reauthorization.

    Now that we know the president has secretly authorized illegal, warrantless wiretaps and spying on peaceful protest groups, Congress must immediately stop those actions and hold much more detailed investigations over the whole Patriot Act (not just the sunsetting provisions) before reauthorizing any part of the Patriot Act.
    Although the Senate reauthorization bill is insufficient, it is a much better starting point than the House version or the Conference Report.
    Can't get through right away? Many people must be phoning Congress. Keep your calls coming! If you prefer not to wait, call the next day or phone the district office.

    Find additional resources at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee web site.

    Other organizations supporting the call-in day (partial list) include the Alliance for Justice, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, Amnesty International USA, Campaign for Reader Privacy, Center for Democracy and Technology, Code Pink, Council on American-Islamic Relations, First Amendment Foundation, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Global Exchange, League of United Latin American Citizens, League of Women Voters, Liberty Coalition, Political Action, National Lawyers Guild, People For the American Way, Rights Working Group, San Francisco Labor Council, Unitarian Universalist Association, and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.
  • Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    UPN, The WB Merge, Form New Network:The CW

    In the "it's about time they did that" category:
    From TV Week's Jay Sherman:

    "CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced Tuesday that they are merging The WB Network and UPN to create a new network to be called The CW.

    "The network, which will launch in September, will be owned jointly by Warner Bros. and CBS Corp., with each company owning a 50 percent stake in the network. Tribune Co., which had owned a stake in The WB, will become an affiliate of the new network but won't own a stake. Tribune has signed a 10-year affiliation agreement with the new network.

    "UPN President Dawn Ostroff will become president of entertainment of the new network, while John Matta, chief operating officer of The WB, will become chief operating officer of The CW.

    "Tribune's 16 major-market stations and the 12 CBS-owned UPN stations will give The CW immediate coverage of 48 percent. The remaining distribution will be a combination of selected UPN and WB affiliates that is expected to exceed 95 percent of the United States.

    "On the programming side, The CW will have a six-night, 13-hour prime-time lineup seven days a week, using a combination of programming from both UPN and The WB. The lineup of programs in the new network's lineup will be described later, according to the announcement."

    Yes, I know the WB doesn't still use Michigan J. Frog; I LIKE the Frog.

    Shelley Winters

    When I read about the death of Shelley Winters, I didn't have anything pithy to say. I believe the only movie of hers I'd seen was the Poseidon Adventure, in which her swimming ability is a key plot point.

    But what slipped my mind was that I'd seen her several times on television: Batman, Here's Lucy, a number of episodes of Roseanne, and most notably, on Chico and the Man -what made it notable was that her character's name was Shirley Schrift, Ms. Winters' real name.

    And then there's another story, for which I will evoke the most vilified woman in show business, at least among the likely readers of this piece, Whoopi Goldberg.

    Actually, the two women have something in common. Both have been given Oscars as Best Supporting Actress, Shelley Winters in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)and A Patch of Blue (1965), Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost (1990).

    Back in the days of vinyl, a friend of mine who worked for a record company sent me sample albums. One of them was the "soundtrack" of Whoopi's one-woman show on Broadway (October 1984-March 1985), which I enjoyed tremendously. During her first monologue, she plays a drug dealer named Fontaine, who is visiting the Netherlands, goes to the Anne Frank House, and is startled to see there Shelley Winters' Oscar for The Diary of Anne Frank. (Apparently, Whoopi is still telling that story, perhaps not to such great effect.)

    So, it is through Whoopi Goldberg that I first heard about Shelley Winters' generosity of spirit.

    Monday, January 23, 2006

    I Did Not Know That

    One of my favorite songs by Sam Cooke was "Bring It On Home to Me". But who was that great second voice, sometimes singing harmony, sometimes doing the call and response "yeah"? Why that was Lou Rawls. I did not know that until after Lou died this month.

    The Biblical city of Nineveh is near the current location of Mosul, Iraq on the Tigris River. I did not know that until last week's Bible study of Jonah. I had assumed it was a city on the sea. (Jonah is the guy who had that encounter with the big fish.)

    Hugh Thompson, the guy who put a stop to the My Lai massacre, was on 60 Minutes several years ago. They repeated part of the segment on the CBS Sunday Morning program just after he died this month at age 62. He talked about how he was not given adequate cover on some of his subsequent Viet Nam missions, how shunned he was by his fellow military people, until in the last decade of his life, when the military finally asked him to speak about the excesses of war. I'd seen this story before, but I did not know how emotionally involved I would feel in the retelling. I believe that his illness was probably caused, or at least exacerbated by the years of being a pariah.

    "Truthiness" is the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year, beating out Katrina-gate. I did not know truthiness was a word, but then, I haven't been watching the Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report". Truthiness "refers to the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true."

    Don't know how many are familiar with Tyler Perry. He's a black performer who dresses in drag as a character named Madea. There's always an object lesson. At her request, I bought some DVDs for my mother last Christmas, and now I find myself on the Tyler Perry fan mail list:
    On a more serious note, Madea is a character that has been a blessing but it has come with its share of challenges. Many of you don't know this but I am extremely uncomfortable doing this character. I never have anyone other than the cast and crew back stage because I am so embarrassed. I know that sounds strange, but it's true. Sometimes l looks in the mirror as I'm putting on lipstick and say to myself Boy what is wrong with you? Anyway I had to realize what I wish most people would realize about Madea. I am not a man that walks around in a dress. I am an actor and I'm playing a character. MADEA is not who I
    am. I was in the mall and a lady walked up to me and asked where was my dress (what the I AM A MAN, although I love women God himself knows I don't want to be one. I said all of that to say this. I have been asked many times to do Madea outside of my shows but I have always said no to Award shows, concerts, and movies. I won't do it because I'm uncomfortable with people seeing me like that up close and personal.
    Well Oprah asked me to do it on her show. My first reaction was no but yall know that she is a huge part of the reason I started writing. After much debate and prayer I agreed to do it. Get ready cause Madea is going to be on Oprah. PRAY FOR ME. Tyler.

    I did not know that the man was so embarrassed playing Madea. He does it often, and from what I'm told, well.

    The voice in my head offering up the title of this piece is Johnny Carson, who died a year ago today. Did you know that Carson and his predecessor as host of the Tonight Show, Jack Paar, died almost a year apart? (1/23/05, 1/27/04). I did not know that until recently, and I have no idea of the significance, if any.
    1824! (or at least 1837...

    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    Sunday Funnies: The Black Comic Book, Pt. 2

    More on The Colored Negro Black Comic Book by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.

    Note: in the comic strip tradition all the words in the strip are in capitals, but for readability, I've deigned to write in standard English. Also the words that are in bold in the strip are in red in this text.

    One other observation- for some reason, you can see the dots used as the skin tone on some strips (Natural, last week's Superblack) more than others. They all look a consistent graytone in the book.

    "Flesh Horton", a 4 page take-off on "Flash Gordon".

    Page 1:
    (Two guys sitting at the control panel)
    Flesh: Things have certainly changed, Dr. Zirkon!
    Zirkon: Yas, Flesh- they certainly have!

    Page 2:

    Page 3, Panel 1
    (Shot of spaceship)
    Flesh: Now, we live as if there were no difference in our skin color at all!
    Zirkon: To tell you the truth, Flesh, I hadn't realized you were black 'til you mentioned it!
    Page 3, Panel 2
    (Flesh opening a door)
    Flesh: -But what are we going to do-

    Page 4
    (Men and women with slightly pointed ears, sitting in airplane-like seats; sign says "Greenie Venusian Section"
    Flesh (not in shot): -with those damn green Venusians?

    People - O.K., white people - have actually told me, "I don't think of you as black." Don't know what to do with that one. What does that mean? That they think of me as white? And if so, is that supposed to be a compliment? (Hint: it's not.)

    I've also heard, "I'm color-blind." I'm always suspicious of the remark. If they are truly color-blind, which I doubt is true with most people regardless of race, why do they find a need to say it? And to me? Also, more often than not, something is said later in the conversation which betrays the comment.

    I think this story really speaks to what I consider to be a major truth: that people who have been oppressed sometimes go out and oppress Unfortunate, for sure, but it does happen.


    "Natural", a 4 page riff on "Nancy". I should note that except for the panel shown, Nancy is always smiling. Note also that while Natural is in every shot, she says nothing, but is looking coquettish, especially in the last panel.

    Page 1:
    Sluggo: I don't dig it, Natural - you're the grooviest black chick I know-
    --you picket, you stand up for your people's rights-

    Page 2, Panel 1:
    Sluggo: -Right up to your natural hair, you're all soul, baby!
    -And you gotta admit, I'm the grooviest white guy you know!
    Page 2, Panel 2:
    Sluggo (putting on round lens shades):
    I wear shades in the winter and tan myself in the summer!

    Page 3:

    Page 4:
    Sluggo (literally on a soap box): -So tell me, girl- why won't you go out with me?

    I knew these guys in high school especially, these white guys (and occasionally white gals) who could out-street talk me and expected that I would think that they were really "down with it". I tended to find them irritating.

    I've also known white people who like to tan who liked to point out that their skin color was darker than mine on their forearms, and would put their arms next to mine to prove it. Most insulting, not to mention stupid.

    But, is it just me, or does Sluggo look like he might be a light-skinned black?

    So, the real question is: is it funny? Yes, I think so. To quote AdAge's Bob Garfield: "It's the universal recognition that drives the laughs." I've been positively inclined towards everything I've looked at thus far. This too shall change.

    Saturday, January 21, 2006

    3 Questions about Lists

    My wife is an active list-maker. I find lists, especially of tasks to be done, to be depressing, because I invariably fail to accomplish what I write down. Conversely, I usually take a list to the store, particularly when buying more than three items, and most particularly when I'm buying items not for my own use.

    So, would you please tell me:

    1) What, if anything, do you make lists for?

    2) Do you make long-term lists, such as "These are the books I want to read/places I want to go before I die"?

    3) The media are always reporting on some list or other: most livable cities, the state with the best educational system, Top 10 Essential Classic Rock Albums, the most romantic movies. Which, if any of these, do you pay attention to?

    Oh, and re: that - I've been a librarian for over 13 years, and this week was the first time I actually used Playboy as a reference source; the question involved a list of party schools.
    Princeton Review
    Pub Club
    Playboy-NOTE: yes, you will see, er, women wearing, er, not wearing...

    For the librarian, one must go where the research takes ya.

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    The "Right to Choose"; The Right To Die

    The mother of one of my colleagues was watching the Alito hearings. Good for her; I watched not a minute except what I saw on the news summaries. She is very concerned about what Alito on the Supreme Court would mean for women's reproductive rights, which got to her to wondering about the NYS law concerning abortion prior to Roe v. Wade. My colleague asked me - always ask the librarian - and I said (off the top of my head) I believed that it was made legal at some point after 1969 and before the fall of 1971, when I went to college.

    In fact, the law making abortion legal in New York, the most liberal law in the US at the time, was passed in the spring of 1970, but only because Assemblyman George M. Michaels changed his vote. This made New York, and especially NYC, "The Abortion Capital of America", according to a New York magazine article.

    Not that things were settled: From this article:

    Between the passage of New York’s law in 1970 and the Supreme Court’s decision of January ’73, no more state legislatures voluntarily passed permissive abortion laws. In April of ’72, New York State repealed its most permissive law. Governor Nelson Rockefeller vetoed the repeal, and the law remained in force. In the November ’72 elections, however, so many pro-abortion legislators were swept out of office that the New York General Assembly had enough votes to override the governor’s veto. Plans were made to again repeal the law when that legislature reconvened in 1973. Before it could act, however, the Supreme Court
    handed down the Roe v. Wade decision and nothing was done.
    The 33rd anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision is this Sunday. If the Supreme Court does strike down Roe, what will happen in New York State? Of course, it depends on how the ruling is worded, but history does not provide much guidance. It will likely to become a states' issue again, and the political climate from three decades ago may not provide much guidance.
    The Supreme Court ruling this week on the Oregon assisted suicide law was decided on states' rights, not on the merits of the law itself. Expect more litigation on this issue. My primary concern over Alito on the Supreme Court is that he seems inclined to take the side of the federal government in most matters. Most pundits think the Senate vote is a done deal.
    Information about the short film The Abortion Diaries.

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    The Wicked Pickett

    You know what the sad thing was for me about Wilson Pickett's death? Besides the fact that he was only 64 when he died of a heart attack, that is?
    It was that when somebody told me, another person nearby said, "Who was that?" I'm sure she was familiar with "In the Midnight Hour" or "Funky Broadway" or "Land of 1000 Dances" or "Mustang Sally" - by somebody else: by the Young Rascals or from the Commitments movie or a covers band. Of course, Wilson was also a great interpreter of music such as "Hey Jude" and "It's Too Late."

    Lake 54

    When we bought our house almost six years ago, we noted that there used to be a built-in, in-ground swimming pool. The folks from whom we bought the house had it paved over. Actually, bricked over, and they installed a post that contains an electrical plug. One can use the area as a type of patio.

    We visited the house several times before we bought it, but what we never noticed until the house was ours was that when it rains extensively, as it did all day yesterday, the area starts to fill up rapidly with water. We started calling it Lake 54, in honor of a NYC nightclub I never went to. It fills up to about five inches, but no more than that, not because of drainage, but because it then leaks into our next door neighbor's yard. Fortunately, we can shut off the electricity from the house.

    Our new next door neighbors, who I have seen but not yet met, closed on the house on Tuesday. Tuesday night, the gentleman was out chopping the the snow and ice off his front walk, something the previous owners did sparingly at best. Of course, given the subsequent deluge, it turned out to be totally unnecessary. Still, we already feel that they'll be good neighbors. So, what's a little gushing water twixt houses? Welcome, new neighbors!

    (Pic from FolkArt Crafts.)

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    It's really not about Hugo Chavez

    Yeah, you know who he is? The President of Venezuela who the Wall Street Journal is worried about because of his relationship with the Iranians, and who taunted the U.S. President this summer, after some proclaimed Christian suggested putting a hit on the Latin leader. After Pat Robertson made his views known about Katrina, the Supreme Court and Ariel Sharon, some folks started to suggest, as someone used to say, "That's just crazy talk!" Mark Evanier wondered if Robertson isn't crazy like a fox.
    A couple buds of mine were wondering if the minister, now in his mid 70s, might not be "losing it". Well, THAT can't be it; the man is so fit that he can leg-press a ton!

    Then, I read in Greg's column about Harry Belafonte, while visiting Hugo Chavez (of course) attacking the American President. Greg wasn't pleased. (I'd disagree with the assessment that Belafonte's only a "calypso singer"; he was a vital player in the American civil rights movement. But as usual, I digress.)

    So, I got to wondering: who DO we want to speak for us? If wrestler Hulk Hogan were to go out speechifying, we'd probably laugh, but if Jesse Ventura, once in the same profession, but most recently governor of Minnesota and a model for third party politics, wants to say something, there are people would listen. Or a B-actor makes a speech at the 1964 Republican convention and becomes governor of California a couple years later.

    But it can't be politicians we want. We don't trust politicians.

    Some people seemed to have trouble with performers speaking their minds, based on the popularity of these cards.

    So who gets to speak? In this age of talk radio, reality TV, and blogs, it seems EVERYONE gets to speak. So Rev. Pat, Hugo, Harry the calypso guy, Barbra Streisand, Hulk Hogan, chat away. It's our job to try to filter out the wheat from the chaff.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Ben Franklin Says

    The picture above is NOT Ben Franklin, but then you knew that. (Didn't you?) The photo is of the late Elizabeth Montgomery, star of the TV show Bewitched, which ran on ABC from 1964 through 1972. She played Samantha Stevens, a witch married to a mortal.

    Two of the show's episodes, though, featured Ben Franklin. In the first, My Friend Ben, "Aunt Clara accidentally summons Benjamin to help Samantha fix her lamp." In the follow-up, Samantha for the Defense, Sam defends Ben "at his trial when he is accused of stealing a fire engine."

    Truth is, I don't remember either of these plots - I found the descriptions in a book called Television Comedy Series by Joel Eisner and David Krinsky. I don't even know which husband Darrin was on- the late Dick York (who starred 1964-69) or the late Dick Sargeant, though it was probably the former. What I DO remember, however, was VERY important in my view of life at the time. Ben says to Sam that he is, by nature, a pessimist, because when good things happen, he is always pleasantly surprised.

    I didn't know if that quote was truly said by the real Franklin, but it seemed to make a lot of sense, so I adopted it as part of my mantra. For years. Actually, for decades. What's really peculiar about it is that I had totally forgotten about it until fairly recently.

    I did find a list of Franklin quotes. One was: "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed." It seemed to capture the same spirit as my guiding quote.

    So, the inventor, publisher, composer and diplomat, who was born 300 years ago today, is best remembered by me from an alleged quote from a TV sitcom from four decades ago.

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    MLK Speech

    For me personally, Martin Luther King's most important speech wasn't the I Have a Dream Speech. Nor was it the letter from a Birmingham jail.

    It was this 1967 speech, the deliverance of which really ticked off Lyndon Johnson and not a few black leaders as well. I didn't hear it until after he died the following year, but it turned out to become massively important in my life.
    A 2005 sermon appropriate for the day.

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Obviously, Whoever Created This Event Was Engaged in a Desparate Cry for Love

    "Hey! You in the bushes! Come on out!"

    Apparently it's National De-Lurking Week. Who knew? Well, Greg did, but he knows all sorts of obscure crap.

    Quoting him: "If you don't know, a lurker is someone who visits blogs without ever commenting on it. So if you're stopping by, say hello. Leave a comment and tell me I'm an idiot. Tell me I'm a genius. Whatever. If you have left comments before, do it again. What will it cost you? I would do it at your blog! Really, I would!" And I WOULD.

    (Intentionally postdated for maximum short-term effect.)

    Sunday Funnies: The Black Comic Book, Pt. 1

    After my father died five and a half years ago, my mother, sisters and I went sorting through his things, naturally. One item that I seized on was The Colored Negro Black Comic Book.

    Somehow I was totally unaware of this book's existence. It was published by Price/Stern/Sloan in 1970 (though my father may have purchased it later), and I went to college in 1971, so I didn't see it around.

    It was written by Harvey Comics (Richie Rich, Casper) editor Sid Jacobson, whose name frankly didn't ring a bell, and drawn by Ernie Colon, whose name I recognized instantly.

    It's 80 pages. 14 x 19 cm. Page 3 reads in part: "This satire of America's best-loved comic strips is presented strictly for laughs, but with the hope that one day, in a world of greater honesty, justice and understanding, the black man will take his rightful place in literature of all kinds."

    So, how did it do? It's hard to judge things 35 years after the fact, but I'll give it a shot.

    Note: in the comic strip tradition all the words in the strip are in capitals, but for readability, I've deigned to write in standard English. Also the words that are in bold in the strip are in red in this text:

    The first strip is "Superblack", a 4 page takeoff on The Man of Steel.

    Page 1:
    Lois: Mother! Dad! Guess who's coming to breakfast!

    Page 2:

    Page 3, Panel 1:
    Supes: (looks lovingly at Lois, and vice versa): Lois has told me so much about you folks, we've both sure you'll have the liberalism to delight in our happiness....
    (Picture of a man, and a placard "I.F. Stone for President" in the background.)
    Page 3, Panel 2:
    (Women in background)
    Father (waving his finger in Supes' face): The world is changing fast, but not that fast! As much as I'd like to, I find that I-

    Page 4
    (Lois' mom bemused, Lois proud to see Supes hold her dad up in the air by the jacket)
    Dad: -W-Welcome you to the family -choke- son!

    The movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was obviously on the minds of the writers. Not only are Lois' first words a play on that title, but the father name-drops Sidney Poitier, the star (along with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) of that 1967 film.
    I think it works as "it's hard to REALLY be liberal" story. Miscegenation was only legal in all states the same year as the movie came out, after all. the finger in the face was a nice, patronizing liberal, touch.

    The second strip is "Bronzie", 4 page riff on "Blondie"

    Page 1:
    Bronzie: I Wonder who that could be?

    Page 2:
    (Neighbors at the door)
    Female neighbor: Good evening. We wanted to be the first to welcome you to the neighborhood.

    Page 3:

    Page 4:
    (Neighbors shocked look, Bronzie's back to them and Bronzie's husband in his chair, bemused)
    Bronzie: In fact, you're the only ones to call on us in the two years we've been living here!

    This sort of thing actually used to happen to people I knew. Funny in a somewhat painful way.

    I'll be looking at more strips in the coming weeks.

    Thanks to MB for scanning these; this way, I did not need to bug friend Fred, who had scanned some previous items for me.

    And speaking of whom: Hoffinator and Fred- remember the 2-hour premiere of "24" is tonight. I won't be watching, and I'm even more disinclined now. That is some 8 o'clock (7 central) show.

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    Three Heroic Questions

    This weekend, the country celebrates the birth of one of my heroes, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. I have music heroes (John Lennon, e.g.), and sports heroes (Willie Mays) and even blogging heroes (guess who?)

    But there are people who are transcendent, and MLK is one of those.

    1. Who are your heroes, if any, and why?

    2. Do we need heroes? What function do they serve?

    3. Your favorite song about heroes is performed by which of the following artists:
    The Beach Boys, David Bowie, Mariah Carey, The Commodores, Enrique Iglesias, David Crosby & Phil Collins, Chad Kroeger, Metallica, Tina Turner, The Wallflowers, or someone else?
    I'll answer the third question, and maybe the others, in the appropriate place.

    Speaking of MLK, there's an MLK event televised on Monday all over New York State. Read about it here.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Political quotes and German truck art

    Both courtesy of friend Anne:

    1) Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. ... Mark Twain
    2) I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. ... Winston Churchill
    3) A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. ... George Bernard Shaw

    4) A Congressman is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. ... G. Gordon Liddy
    5) Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. ... James Bovard, Civil Libertarian
    6) Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. ... Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton

    7) Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. ... PJ. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian
    8) Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. ... Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)
    9) Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short
    phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. ... Ronald Reagan (1986)

    10) I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. ... Will Rogers
    11) If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free. ... P. J. O'Rourke
    12) In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. ...
    Voltaire (1764)

    13) Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics will not take an interest in you. ... Pericles (430 B. C.)
    14) No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. ... Mark Twain (1866)
    15) Talk is cheap ... except when Congress does it. ... Unknown

    17) The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. ... Winston Churchill 18) The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. ... Mark Twain
    19) The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. ... Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher(1820-1903)

    20) There is no distinctly native American criminal class ... save Congress. ... Mark Twain
    21) What this country needs is more unemployed politicians. ... Edward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)
    22) A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have. ... Thomas Jefferson
    I made an auditory error in my review of Julie Hembeck's review last week. I heard the phrase "Do somethin' right for once" and somehow REPEATEDLY heard the word f***in' for somethin'. The wax will be removed from my ears, Fred.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    The Christmas Music Conundrum

    We here at Ramblin', being a registered librarian and all, not to mention active Presbyterian, deign to take on all matters of interest, even if no one has asked. One Fred Hembeck writes in his column of January 10:

    Three weeks is generally the accepted amount of time one expects to host a live Christmas tree indoors. Coincidentally, three weeks is also the generally
    accepted amount of time that most folks play Christmas music...
    Here's what I realized this year: ninety-nine per cent of folks--even me--end their Christmas Carol-athon no later than early evening of the December 25th, but
    virtually no one takes their tree down on the 26th. So, if you play Elmo and Patsy, Bing and Bowie, John and Yoko, and all the other seasonal crooners during the three weeks leading up to Christmas, and you trim your tree (like us) only a week before the big day, and then leave it up as the New Year approaches and eventually arrives, thereby totalling two full weeks left standing after the presents have been unwrapped... that means there's but one single seven day period in which we find the sounds of the season piping out of the stereo speakers alongside the colorful illumination of the Christmas tree! One short quick over-before-you-know-it week!

    I understand the conundrum, Fred, but I disagree with the conventional wisdom on this. Why is it that the seasonal music can only be played in that period just before Christmas? It isn't even Christmastime, it's Advent. Christmastime is that period from Christmas leading to January 6, Three Kings Day, the beginning of Epiphany.
    "The 12 Days of Christmas" FOLLOW from Christmas, not lead up to it. So the MacKenzie brothers, Bob and Doug, were partially right. Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day ARE part of the 12 days. The two Christmas albums I received this year feature Auld Lang Syne, the epitome of New Year's Eve.
    Certainly, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" should be played on the days leading up to the holiday. But what of "We Three Kings"? It's not really applicable until AFTER the birth.
    Meanwhile, there are plenty of songs that could just as well be played at the end of January (Jingle Bells, Baby It's Cold Outside).

    I have some 80 Christmas CDs - and I spent 10 hours listening just to the one disc you sent me. So my listening doesn't end until January 6. It's theologically justified. And your Christmas tree will be so much happier. (Ours went down, finally, on Sunday.)

    Of course, in order to maintain domestic tranquility, you may want to start playing the seasonal music somewhat LATER. I don't want Lynn Moss angry with me...
    And speaking of being helpful, I want to thank Polite Scott for answering my query about medically-induced comas.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    Short attention span reviews


    In addition to the things I've been watching regularly, I checked out Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg. Don't know who Steinberg is? Check here.
    He's been interviewing comedians for his show on TV Land. Another TV Land foray into original programming.
    The first guest was Mike Myers. That was the only hour-long show, and it dragged in places. There was an awkward bit when Steinberg said something nice about Myers' wife. Recently, I've read that Myers and his wife have split up.
    Larry David was Larry David. Is he just paranoid, or are they really out to get him? Funny, especially if you like his schtick.
    Steinberg directed Bob Newhart on his second sitcom. Sometimes, the fact that Steinberg knows the guests so well there is a bit of disconnect to the audience. But Newhart did a stand-up bit that KILLED.
    The show with Martin Short was the best I've seen. If you didn't know that Steinberg and Short(and Myers) were Canadian, you'd certainly be aware of it quickly.
    Tonight's show is with Jon Lovitz (10 p.m., EST), and next week's guest is George Lopez. May be worth watching.

    inJustice (yeah, that's the spelling) is a new show on ABC. I saw only the first episode. (The show started on a Sunday then moved to its regular Friday time slot.) Basically, the premise is that sometimes, in this Law & Order/CSI world, the system gets it wrong, the lawyer (Kyle MacLaughlin of Twin Peaks, Sex and the City) and his merry band of do-gooders try to make it right. Marin Hinkle from Once and Again was convicted of murdering her father. The flashback shows how the cops believed it went down, and at the end you get the real story. I enjoyed it well enough to try it again.


    I’ve seen two movies this calendar year thus far. The Squid and the Whale on January 2 and Brokeback Mountain on January 7. At this rate I’ll be seeing over 50 films a year! (Not bloody likely.) The films are both about interpersonal relations in the United States in the recent past.

    The Squid is about a couple (Jeff Daniels, the pictured Laura Linney) who get divorced – no spoiler there, it’s in the previews – and how they and their two sons deal with it in mid 1980s New York City. While I enjoyed it– the title DOES eventually get explained, and Jeff Daniels’ performance is quite good - I was looking for an ending of sorts; instead it just…stopped.

    Brokeback is a more sprawling tale than I realized, starting in 1963 Wyoming but moving on from there. One could tell that this movie was ending, if only from the music swell. (There was audible crying in the audience.) The real surprise in this film for me was Anne Hathaway, who played princesses in three movies and who MAY be the villain in the film.

    I think Heath Ledger is getting so much acclaim, not just because he’s good, and he is, but because people are genuinely amazed that he has more range than being in A Knight’s Tale. It’s like Charlize Theron doing The Italian Job then acting in Monster and (We won’t mention Aeon Flux.) Or, a few years back, this nighttime soap actress, Hilary Swank surprising in Boys Don’t Cry.

    Having seen Brokeback, I’ve now seen three of the five "best actors" nominated by Screen Actors Guild : Russell Crowe in CINDERELLA MAN, Ledger, and David Strathairn in GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. The other two are Philip Seymour Hoffman in CAPOTE and Joaquin Phoenix in WALK THE LINE. Unfortunately, neither film is playing anywhere with in a five-county range. I’m hoping that they’ll be brought back before the Oscars.

    I've seen four of the five SAG "best supporting actors": Don Cheadle in CRASH,
    Matt Dillon in CRASH, Paul Giamatti in CINDERELLA MAN, and Jake Gyllenhaal in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Just need to see George Clooney in SYRIANA, but I'm mixed about it. I hear the screenplay is unduly convoluted.

    I’ve seen very few of the actress performances:

    Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
    Felicity Huffman / TRANSAMERICA
    Charlize Theron / NORTH COUNTRY
    Reese Witherspoon / WALK THE LINE
    Ziyi Zhang / MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
    Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
    Amy Adams / JUNEBUG
    Catherine Keener/ CAPOTE
    Frances McDormand / NORTH COUNTRY
    Michelle Williams / BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
    Of the above, I saw only Williams. Particularly want to see Theron, and of course, Witherspoon and Keener.

    SAG also does Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
    CAPOTE (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) WANT TO SEE
    CRASH (Lionsgate) SAW
    GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. (Warner Independent Pictures) SAW
    HUSTLE & FLOW (Paramount Classics) MAYBE I'LL RENT

    Incidentally, Roger Ebert defends his "Best Picture of the Year" pick against suggestions that it’s the WORST picture of the year. I agree with Ebert about Crash.


    I got music for Christmas:

    James Taylor: A Christmas Album. Last year’s Hallmark album is surprisingly enjoyable.

    Michael McDonald: Through the Many Winters-A Christmas Album. This year’s
    Hallmark album is surprisingly boring, sounding in the same groove, except for the ninth song (out of 10), Christmas on the Bayou.

    Paul McCartney: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. I like this album far more than Paul’s previous effort, but not yet quite as much as 1997’s Flaming Pie. It’s become a cliché that Macca works better when he doesn’t work alone, but it appears to be true here, partnering with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. Look for the definitive review from famed Maccologist Fred Hembeck.

    Stevie Wonder: A Time for Love. I have every Stevie album since 1970’s Where I’m Coming From, and I own compilation discs that cover his earlier period. If I were new to the artist, I might have enjoyed the disc more. There are songs I like "So What the Fuss", which still sounds like a curse since I first heard in May, and the first cut, "If Your Love Cannot Be Moved", but too much of it sounds like mid-80’s Stevie, pleasant and inoffensive, but not really inventive. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

    Our New Orleans 2005. A Katrina benefit album, so I should say nice things about it. Actually, I like much of this album, particularly the great Allen Toussaint (pictured) on two cuts. Eddie Bo’s "Saints" has a bit of Tipitina groove to it. I’ve loved the Dirty Dozen Brass Band for decades. Randy Newman’s closer, Louisiana 1927, is, as someone once said, a suitable ending.

    The Clash: Super Black Market Clash. I described this as an old Clash album, because the music from 1977-1982. But the disc didn’t come out until 2000. It contains B-sides, EP cuts, and 12” single tracks. The later tracks tend to be "dub" versions of songs. I own, somewhere, Mustapha Dance, the dub version Rock the Casbah on vinyl. In fact, much of this sounds familiar, even the songs I never owned. They were probably played on the late, great Q104 radio station of Albany, gone 'bout 20 years. I was a huge fan of the Clash during the London Calling/Sandinista period, and this is probably my favorite disc of the season. Slightly embarrassing, because I actually used a gift certificate and picked it out myself.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Hi, I'm Roger

    As part of the (desparately needed) clean-up of my old e-mail, here's something someone e-mailed me in the summer of 2003. I figure it can be an introduction of me to those who've come in lately, and maybe a meme for those of you who are into such things.

    1. Where were you born: Binghamton, NY

    2. What was your given name at birth: Roger Owen Green

    3. What is/are your favorite animal(s)? cats (but don't have any)

    4. If you could have any pet in the world, what would it be? Top Cat

    5. If you could visit any place in the world that you haven't already been, where would you go? Japan

    6. Favorite game? hearts (cards), harassing Fred Hembeck

    7. Favorite thing to do on a rainy day/night? listen to music, play cards or a board game (Uno, Boggle)

    8. Idea of the perfect romantic get-a-way? anywhere there is water, but no bugs

    9. Do you believe in God? yes, but don't always understand Him/Her

    10. Favorite type of books? biographies, non-fiction generally

    11. Favorite type of music? '60s R&B and Brit invasion, late '70s & '80's "new wave"
    Favorite singer: Aretha
    Group? Beatles

    12. Morning person or night person? night, but I've adapted

    13. Do you have any brothers and/or sisters? two sisters

    14. Best character trait about yourself? I try to be helpful

    15. Worst character trait about yourself? impatience

    16. Favorite sport to participate? racquetball

    17. Favorite sport to watch? baseball, football

    18. Favorite team -NY Giants
    Favorite athlete?- Venus Williams

    19. Favorite candy? M&Ms.

    20. Can you swim? sorta.

    21. Favorite non-alcoholic drink? lemonade

    22. Favorite alcoholic drink? Amaretto; kaluaha with milk; Jamaican rum with pineapple juice

    23. How many times do you hit snooze before you get up in the morning? NONE

    24. How many different cities/towns have you lived in? seven
    How many different states? 2 (NY, NC)

    25. Can you wiggle your ears? no

    26.Do you prefer junk food or healthy food? prefer? well, junk

    27. Do you like to cook? certain things

    28. Do you like surprises? depends on the surprise.....

    29.What is your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    Random Access

    Greg and Gordon both stole this idea to take a random sentence for each month of their respective (and respectable?) blogs. I wasn't going to do it at first - I don't have a whole year's worth of posting yet - but it occurred to me that maybe it would be a decent introduction to those who've only recently joined me.

    Next, I had to figure out how to actually get a random item. So I went to this site and generated two lists of 30. I took the first list as the date and the second as the sentence number.

    May: A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write. Boy, I wish I had said that, but it was the middle of a quote.

    June: It's a bit surprising that a market the size of Albany/Schenectady/Troy has a Class A team, especially since Binghamton, which is about the size of Troy and half the size of Albany, once again has a team in the Class AA Eastern League, with a higher caliber of player.

    July: Guitar legend Les Paul will celebrate his 90th birthday with his first new studio album since 1978's "Guitar Monsters," a collaboration with Chet Atkins. Swiped from a press release.

    August: And the title is SO wrong, since NEITHER character actually owns a dog. My not-so-positive review of a movie.

    September: But that's not Washington Avenue, that's Central Avenue. I remember that ADD seemed to like this post.

    October: There is one exception. Ha!

    November: Newspapers, recycled aluminum cans, and [plastic] bottles (only the #1 and #2) are supposed to be placed in blue plastic containers issued by the city.

    December: Over there they have," and a slight pause.

    Well, THAT was fun! But I'm surprised that Fred Hembeck didn't show up, given the number of times I've mentioned him.

    Sunday, January 08, 2006


    The Times Union, the local paper, requested memories of Elvis on the 20th anniversary of his death back in 1997.

    Section: LIFE & LEISURE Page: C1
    Date: Saturday, August 16, 1997

    I wrote this long essay, only a small portion of which made it into print.

    My father hated Elvis. He resented this white artist stealing/exploiting/ profiting from performing black music. (But then half of the musicians in the '50s and '60s from Pat Boone to Led Zeppelin ``borrowed'' from black music). So I never owned any Elvis music as a child or teenager.

    Still, I did like some of his songs ("Jailhouse Rock," "Little Sister"). So I watched the '68 "comeback special" and became grudgingly, a mild fan.

    When Elvis died, I thought, "Oh that's too bad." The Elvis cult that's developed since 1977 I view with fascination and utter bemusement.

    -- Roger Green, Albany.

    Subsequently, I egained more and more respect for the music of the artist, who is one of the richest dead men in the world.

    Are you male or female: Lonely Man
    Describe yourself: A Mess of Blues
    How do some people feel about you: Anyway You Want Me (That's How I'll Be)
    How do you feel about yourself: Teddy Bear
    Describe what you want to be: King of the Whole Wide World
    Describe how you live: Flaming Star
    Describe how you love: Burning Love; Surrender; Wear My Ring Around Your Neck
    Share a few words of wisdom: Don't Be Cruel; Follow That Dream; Let Yourself Go

    Fred- Hear that Julie's into David Bowie. His birthday's today, too! But you already knew that, I see from just finishing your post.

    Librarians and other things

    I was corresponding with John Hebert, who I know from my time at FantaCo the other day. He notes that he was not intentionally cribbing anyone's style in this Batman drawing, but that one may think he is. What say you, denizens of comic fandom?

    So what do I DO with a large prime number?


    "The Hollywood Librarian: Librarians in Cinema and Society," now in production, will be the first full-length film to focus on the work and lives of librarians in the entertaining and appealing context of American movies. American film contains hundreds of examples of librarians and libraries on screen -- some positive, some negative, some laughable and some dead wrong. Films such as Sophie's Choice, Philadelphia and It's a Wonderful Life show librarians as negative stereotypes. The librarians in Lorenzo's Oil, Desk Set and The Shawshank Redemption, on the other hand, are competent and professional. Dozens of interviews of real librarians will be interwoven with movie clips of cinematic librarians and serve as transitions between the themes of censorship, intellectual freedom, children and librarians, pay equity and funding issues, and the value of reading."
    Here's a video clip of Ann Seidl, writer and director, in an address to the California Library Association, November, 2005.
    Some related sites:

    I'm forever getting CHAIN LETTER e-mails:
    "A directory of cell phone numbers will be published soon." This is partially true. "This opens the door to solicitors calling our cell phones using up our minutes." Well, no. As a librarian, I'm compelled to get to the bottom of these things.

    And speaking of librarians, remember The LIBRARIAN ACTION FIGURE. Remember, librarians kick butt.


    An American hero died last week. My Lai Pilot Hugh Thompson, who helped stop the massacre during the Vietnam war, was 62.

    Friend Dan finally got off his butt and started his own political blog. As he said, "About effing time."

    But before he did, he sent me Astonishing architecture. Of course, he had something to say: "Astonishing to the point of idiocy. Like, with all this glass, who is supposed to pay the energy bills? What about privacy, especially at night? How can acrophobiacs live in these places? Who lets their kids play on a spiral staircase with no risers? And why is there a black and white TV in the fireplace?"
    (It reminds me me of that National Lampoon Christmas song about a glass-bottom boat. "I don't want to fish looking up my dress.")

    Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen wrote a new book: Condi vs Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race and he's autographed a number of them. He writes: "The premise of the book is simple: Only Condoleezza Rice can effectively stop Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency! The book explains why and sets out a plan to draft her for the nomination." A pox on both THOSE houses, but if you're interested: Eh.

    A children's book, with sample illustrations on the web site: "Why Mommy Is a Democrat!"

    Katrina Will Make Proving Where You Live Difficult in 2006:
    Annette Watters' article raises some interesting issues about the Census Bureau's population estimates, especially for subcounty areas, and the impacts of disasters of various kinds. It suggests that just when the need for accurate estimates tends to be greatest (periods of unusual and rapid changes), is when they become least accurate.

    Republican wants to change Census count

    Meanwhile, Rep. Maloney Says Constitutional Amendment to Remove Non-Citizens From Census Is Counter to American Ideals and Impractical


    Nellie McKay, one of Fred Hembeck's favorite artists, has been dropped by her label over artistic differences.

    For people of a certain age who want to know What the heck *is* emo, anyway?

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Lou Rawls

    Lou Rawls, the singer and actor died yesterday. He had been ill with cancer.

    Of course, his big hit was "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine", one of only two Lou songs I own, but he put out dozens of albums, and appeared in several movies and TV shows, often doing voice work.

    I knew him second best for his charitable work, which included telethons that helped the United Negro College Fund raise nearly $200 million. He was ABC News' person of the week, although they said he was born in 1935 and was 72 years old, his age was apparently the source of much confusion.

    But, I'll always remember him best for a TV commercial that appears on this album. It's one of the best performed songs from commercials ever. I reckon there are worse things to be remembered for.

    Here’s to good friends,
    Tonight is kinda special,
    The beer will pour,
    Must say something more,
    So tonight, tonight
    Let it be Loewnbrau