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Wednesday, May 31, 2006


It's been a very busy (too busy) month, what with two conferences, a trip to Cooperstown, a 50th birthday party, a wedding, and all the attendant stuff. Not to mention the Move.

So, I haven't had time to read a lot of stuff on the Internet; heck, I've barely had time to post. Even when I do see interesting stuff, I haven't had time to comment on it. So these are a few things that struck my fancy in the last couple weeks, in no particular order:

Comic book artist Alex Toth died recently. If you've never heard of him, it is very likely you've seen his work. Read about him here and here and here and here and here (May 28) and here, but, annoyingly, not here.

Serene, who BTW put together a lovely CD compilation, wrote a review of the CD I put together, and only gave me a 9 out of 10. Just for that, I'm adding her to my blogroll.

Friend Judy's personal fundraiser page for the National Kidney Foundation, in anticipation of a walk this coming weekend.

Greg's reading about baseball.

America's identity theft capital is Maricopa County, AZ, which includes Phoenix, though they're TRYING to combat it.

Lefty wanted to know if we do math equations. Gee, I do them all the time. Halving or quadrupling a recipe is a math equation. So is figuring out the floor plan for my office space where an inch equals a foot. More than that, I do square root with pencil and paper, just to keep my mind sharp.
And I make equations out of license plates; I try to find the lowest common denominator. Since most license plates are letter heavy, I assign numerical values to some letters. First, the Roman numerals. If I need more, I might use 13 for B (mush the numbers together), 3 for E (backwards computer lettering), 100 for K (kilo), 10 for O, 5 for S, 25 for W (V times V) and 2 for Z.

Even China Daily talked about American Idol, with one picture of the two finalists, and one large picture of the runner-up by herself.

Tosy talked about the Who's best songs, coincidentally the day before Townsend's 61st birthday. At the wedding I attended Saturday, Darrin and Suzy's first dance was to "Let My Love Open the Door", not the hit version from 1980 (it went to #9), but the five-minute remix from a decade and a half later.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Homeland Security

Among the things people sent me when I indicated that I was grumpy last week - I'm not so much now - was this item. It was in a Word doc, so I had to reconfigure for your viewing pleasure. Done by people with too much time on their hands, and the last pic isn't the right one, but close enough:

The US government has a new website,

The thing is that the pictures from the site are so ambiguous they could mean anything! Here are a few interpretations. [All of the pictures are actually on the page.]

If you have set yourself on fire, do not run.

If you spot terrorism, blow your anti-terrorism whistle. If you are Vin Diesel, yell really loud.

If you spot a terrorist arrow, pin it against the wall with your shoulder.

If you are sprayed with an unknown substance, stand and think about a cool design for a new tattoo.

Use your flashlight to lift the walls right off of you!

The proper way to eliminate smallpox is to wash with soap, water and at least one(1) armless hand.

Michael Jackson is a terrorist. If you spot this smooth criminal with dead, dead eyes, run the hell away.

Hurricanes, animal corpses and your potential new tattoo have a lot in common. Think about it.

Be on the lookout for terrorists with pinkeye and leprosy. Also, they tend to rub their hands together manically.

If a door is closed, karate chop it open.

Try to absorb as much of the radiation as possible with your groin region. After 5 minutes and 12 seconds, however, you may become sterile.

After exposure to radiation it is important to consider that you may have mutated to gigantic dimensions: watch your head.

If you've become a radiation mutant with a deformed hand, remember to close the window. No one wants to see that s***.

If you hear the Backstreet Boys, Michael Bolton or Yanni on the radio, cower in the corner or run like hell.

If your lungs and stomach start talking, stand with your arms akimbo until they stop.

If you are trapped under falling debris, conserve oxygen by not farting.

If you lose a contact lens during a chemical attack, do not stop to look for it.

Do not drive a stations wagon if a power pole is protruding from the hood.

A one-inch thick piece of plywood should be sufficient protection against radiation.

Always remember to carry food with you during a terrorist attack. At least you'll be able to enjoy a nice coke and apple before you die.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What Is Pacifism?

This year, the blogger English Professor has written on What Is Militarism, What Is Realism, and What Is Pacifism, all very interesting pieces. I knew that I wanted to try to come to grips with the latter as it applies to me, and when better than Memorial Day weekend.

When I became eligible, I registered for the draft on my 18th birthday. At that time, I noted that I was a conscientious objector. After a whole bunch of stuff (I could probably write an autobiographical chapter just on 1972), I find myself in front of my draft board in the fall of 1972, explaining what being a C.O. meant to me. Among other things, I noted that the military life necessarily put one in the position of having to respond in a particular way to violence, and that my beliefs did not allow for me to put myself in that situation. One board member asked me what I would do if someone were attacking my mother. My response was that I would try to stop the attacker; I went on to note that there was a difference between putting oneself in the position to having to respond to violence and responding when violence unexpectedly comes calling. Someone expanded the question to suggest that someone like Hitler was the equivalent to someone attacking my mother, essentially, "If we don't stop him now, your mother will be become imperiled." I'm not quite sure of my response except that I rejected the premise of the question. And eventually, I was given C.O. status.

Which is why I was somewhat troubled by my reaction to our invasion in Afghanistan in 2001, which was, pretty much, none. I did not protest, I did not write letters, as I did in the buildup to the war in Iraq. I was sad when war became the answer, but I certainly understood, in a way I hadn't before (and haven't since) the desire to use military force. And I realized that at some level, I'm not as pure in philosophical spirit as I would have liked. At least part of it was that I really disliked the Taliban, in large part because of the capricious and totally unnecessary destruction of the Buddhas earlier that year. And if the troops got Osama, all the better.

So, I'm thinking on Memorial Day, we should remember those who fought and died. But we should also remember that when we send people to war, all sorts of unintended consequences will arise (think Abu Gharib), and that war needs to be the last resort, not the first option.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Love Me, I'm a Liberal

Kelly posted this meme thing on how "liberal" she is. It's pretty limited test, with a bunch of either/or questions for which I was desparate for a third choice, but I'd try it anyway.

I've been worried about the term "liberal", not recently, when the term seemed to become synonomous with "Why do you hate America?" (note: I don't), but back to when the late Phil Ochs wrote and performed a song from which I stole the title of this post, which suggests that "liberal" is not nearly progressive ENOUGH:

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 15% Conservative, 85% Liberal
Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

And while I was at it, I thought I'd see just how "tolerant" I am.

You Are 44% Open Minded

You aren't exactly open minded, but you have been known to occasionally change your mind.
You're tolerant enough to get along with others who are very different...
But you may be quietly judgmental of things or people you think are wrong.
You take your own values pretty seriously, and it would take a lot to change them.

Sounds about right, actually.
Note to Sarah, and any of you who are concerned about voter participation: I've been fascinated and encouraged by the rise of Instant Runoff Voting, which will, among many other things, allow someone to vote for a third party candidate without thinking that one is throwing one's vote away.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Book Review: Our Endangered Values

I always felt sorry for Jimmy Carter. He was giving the right message (conservation, compassion, honesty) at a time when the American ego was most bruised by the twin stains of Watergate and Vietnam. Add to that 444 days of American hostages in Iran, and there you have one flawed Presidency. (Whereas Ronald Reagan could send troops to Grenada- less than two days after we lost over 200 troops in Lebanon - and show it was indeed "morning in America" - we CAN kick butt after all.)

Many have commented, and I tend to agree, that he has been one of our best ex-Presidents. Recently, I read his book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2005).

In his chapter, "The Rise of Religious Fundamentalism," he quotes his letter to the magazine Christianity Today: "Increasingly, true believers inclined to...decide 'Since I am aligned with God, I am superior and my beliefs should prevail, and anyone who disagrees with me is inherently wrong.'" Then later, "Those Christians who resist the inclination toward fundamentalism and who truly follow the nature, actions, and words of Jesus Christ should encompass people who are different from us with our care, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, and unselfish love."

The self-described evangelical Christian believes there is no conflict between science and religion. He notes that the entwining of church and state is a rejection of "Jesus' admonition to 'render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's...'"
He also has some good thoughts about abortion, the death penalty, women's role in the church, foreign policy, just war, and the environment.

The former President notes that the average income per person "in the 20 richest nation was $27,591, and in the poorest nations only $211, a ratio of 131:1!" He believes the divide between rich and poor, throughout the word, and even within this country, is the single biggest issue we must face.

I recommend this book, especially the first half, to those with a Christian point-of view, and especially to those who have an antipathy towards Christianity as it is often practiced in this country.
THREE QUESTIONS for you, if you please:

1. I'm curious who you think are the best ex-Presidents. I'm no history scholar, but JQ Adams' return to the House of Representatives and Taft's ascension to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice ought to rank. I'd be inclined to give kudos to Clinton and poppa Bush, but there hasn't been enough time to judge fully. Oh, yeah, a Nobel Peace Prize ought to count for SOMETHING.
Of course, there have only been 33 ex-Presidents. W is Prez #43, so 42 -1 for Cleveland (he may have been President twice, but I'm counting him as an ex only once) -8 (the four assassinated and the four who died of natural causes- I'm putting Zachary Taylor in the latter category, FWIW.)

2. I find myself agreeing with the current "leader of the free world" - these things happen - when he apologized for his cowboy rhetoric after 9/11 - he specifically mentioned the "wanted dead or alive" stuff. It wasn't a "mistakes were made" non-apology, but (seemingly) a true act of contrition. I've chosen to believe it's a sincere apology. Do you? Do you recall any other REAL Presidential apologies? I recall Clinton said something post-Monica, but details are sketchy in my mind.

3. I saw about 24 minutes of the show "24" this past season. I did catch David Palmer's casket on the tarmac during the last show. I found it oddly moving. I'm going to miss knowing that strong guy's around. My favorite fictional POTUS is J. Bartlett on The West Wing, because he was so complex, so believable. Though I do have some affection for Dave in the movie of the same name, a much nicer guy than his doppelganger. Who are your favorite faux Presidents, and why?
A review of the documentary about global warming An Inconvenient Truth, featuring "he coulda/shoulda been President", Al Gore.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Lydster, Part 26: Miss You

In the last month, I was away for seven days, at two conferences and one wet baseball game. A year ago, I was away at the former two events, but don't recall missing Lydia quite so much. And I got the sense that she missed me, although I did speak to her on the phone every day.

Maybe that explains why she's been so clingy when I drop her off at day care lately. For MONTHS, it was hug, kiss, bye bye. But now it's hold my hand, read story or two, then a snack, and THEN maybe I can leave.

BTW, these pictures predate the ones from last month. They were lost (and obviously found) during the work move. Some of these are from her birthday party. She looks so serious in most of them.

This sequence is called Girl Contemplating Spheroid Objects.

Happy 26 months, honey.

Oh, and re: last month's pictures, more than one person asked if she was carrying a GUN in the last picture, where she's looking out the door! No, it was the part of the screen door that keeps it from closing too fast just beyond her hand. (What IS that piece of the door called, anyway?)
My friend and my boss Darrin is getting married tomorrow. Since he's not there today, it gives me an opportunity to post a little something about him and his financee Suzy on the work blog.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I was sent this nugget:
"Does he, like many Democrats, think the election was stolen? Gore pauses a long time and starts in to the middle distance. 'There may come a time when I speak on that,' Gore says, 'but it's not now; I need more time to frame it carefully if I do.' Gore sighs. 'In our system, there's no intermediate step between a definite Supreme Court decision and violent revolution.'" (New York magazine, May 29, 2006, page 24, line 57)
These are carefully couched terms. My sense is that the former VP and senator, a son of a senator, is being very politic. I believe that he's really a bit grumpy, and deservedly so.

My friend Sarah has been accused of being a grumpy young woman. I wouldn't call her grumpy, I'd consider her concerned for the state of the country.

Whereas I AM grumpy. This takes on two forms, the political and the personal. Re: the former, I'm grumpy that the Senate's going to vote on ANWR--again. That Federal Marriage Amendment is bugging me; a friend has suggested joining a postcard campaign against it, which couldn't hurt, I suppose, though I think personalized individual postcards and e-mails may be more effective; since the anthrax scare of 2001, letters are less effective. Oh, and there's other stuff, too.

On the personal side, I discovered this week, to my horror, that a private conversation I was having at work could be heard perfectly four cubicles away. Conversely, I seem to be able to hear three groups of people talking, including every visitor, but only in a cacophonous mush.
I'm grumpy because I seemed to have missed the memos about how we're tracking our questions, a small matter I suppose, but how did I miss it? I read an e-mail that my work e-mail had changed, so I sent out a bunch of e-mails to others to that effect, then I was told it hadn't changed...yet. It will be, BTW, Apparently, I received one or more phone calls last Friday and/or Monday, based on the light on my phone, but I can't access them.

I'm uncharacteristically grumpy in a "bite-my-bottom-lip" sort of way, and I don't think it's my general state of being.

At least one of my colleagues is a bit grumpy, too. Writing to a third party: "Not to overstate things, but this has been the single most frustrating two-week stretch of work in my time here." Internet has been intermittent. The power in the whole building went off for about 15 seconds on Tuesday, etc., etc., etc. At least we've gotten our CD-ROMs for the library on the eighth working day there.

I think it's a function of the fact we like doing our work, and we like doing it well, and it's been hard to do our jobs, WHEN we can do our jobs; a couple librarians STILL don't have a working printer. A couple of us went to our work conference earlier this month to explain that we would be attacking the backlog of reference questions, when what's been happening has been the opposite; I finished two questions yesterday that came in on the 20th...of April, totally unacceptable to us.
Also, in part, I think it's also because it's been uncommonly gloomy, weatherwise. Rain at least 10 of the last 12 days at some point, though it was sunny yesterday.

In fact, it's gotten so bad that I've been forced to sing Broadway musicals to cheer myself up.

So, this what I'm asking for: Funny stuff. Laugh out loud stuff. Stupid stuff. Tasteless stuff. As long as it's funny. Or in the words of another musical Be a Clown. Laughter is the best medicine, or so Reader's Digest would tell me. Post to the site or send it to my CURRENT e-mail address. Or else I'll be forced to sing "Tomorrow" from Annie.

Examples I've already gotten:


and this

A woman on the bus I see often told me these yesterday:

Why did the bicyclist crash into the wall?
Because he was two-tired.

What did the fish say when he crashed into the wall?
Freddie Hembeck talks about Freddie and the Dreamers' front man Freddie Garrity, who died recently, in today's post. Ah, I remember him well. THAT'LL cheer me up- doing the Freddie!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dylan turns 65

Random thoughts about the man once known as Zimmerman, who is eligible for Social Security today:

There was this poster in the library in my school, some op art thing with the word Dylan on it. I didn't know how to say the word; I thought it was Die-Lan, rather than Dill-an. I soon learned.

The first Dylan song I owned: I Want You on my now-stolen "Best of 66" Columbia Records compilation.

Well, that was my first Dylan-as-artist song, for I had a number of Dylan songs by Peter, Paul and Mary, the Byrds and Pete Seeger.

The first Dylan album I bought was Nashville Skyline. Or maybe John Wesley Harding.

Someone bought me Dylan's book Tarantula. I'm sure I still have it somewhere, but I doubt I've ever read it all the way through.

I worked in a dreadful summer camp when I was 17, where they constantly ripped off their workers. One of my colleagues wrote this song, written to the tune of "Maggie's Farm" (name changed to protect the guilty). There were several verses, which he typed and mimeographed. Wish I could find my copy. One verse:
I ain't gonna work at J.L.'s camp no more (X2)
J.L.'s always comin' 'round and say "Go mow the grass"
He can take that lawn mower and stick it up his ***
There's room for that and plenty more.
No, I ain't gonna work at J.L.'s camp no more.

One of the first albums I bought as a gift was Self Portrait, which my girlfriend at the time really wanted. After she played it, I was not sure that she was happy that she had asked for it. It has, among other things, a nasty version of The Boxer, which I'm sure was in retaliation for the 1966 Simon and Garfunkel song A Simple Desultory Philippic, especially the "I've lost my harmonica, Albert" bit. The lyrics of this tune is here.

I didn't understand My Back Pages, even when I was 18. I thought it was just some poetic mishmash. I thought I knew everything I needed to know in life. But by the time I was 23, I understood it all too well: "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

Most of my Dylan albums are from the 1970s.

I've never seen him play live. I've had the opportunity, but was concerned at the time about his then uneven performance track record. My loss.

I was weirded out by the Victoria's Secret ad, too.

I had pre-ordered the Love and Theft album from the local independent music store. The release date was September 11, 2001. Inexplicably, I actually went and picked up the album that afternoon. But I didn't play it for at least a week. When I finally DID listen to it, it really made me smile - especially the string of a half dozen songs starting with "Summer Days" - perhaps for the first time all week.
The famous (or infamous, depending on your view of these things) moment during the 1988 Lloyd Bentsen/Dan Quayle debate. (I happened to love it.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Verizon goes down; Going to cell

I totally forgot to describe the ending of my Verizon story, last discussed here.
We received a letter from their collection agency dated January 3. Stubbornly holding on to our $22.45, I called and wrote to that company on January 4, explaining YET AGAIN what happened. I believe I sent a copy to the Public Service Commission.

After getting no sense of satisfaction, and fearing threat they would wreck her good credit, my wife also wrote to the collection agency on February 6, with a copy to the PSC, fully documenting the debacle of their billing process. A day later, we got a letter from the PSC saying, essentially that they were going to aggressively look into this matter. In a letter dated February 10, Verizon wrote:

"Thank you for the opportunity to address your concern regarding the above account. This letter is to confirm that the above mentioned telephone number is satisfied in full." It also noted the collection agency was notified, that we'd have no derogatory notice on our credit report and that we could call them if we had questions.


Subsequently, we've gotten letters from Verizon asking us to come back, even offering us $25 to return. $25? A few years back, phone companies were offering us twice that, THRICE that to switch. No thanks.

Meanwhile, we need to get a couple cell phones. (Wait a minute: did I write "cell phones" and "need to get" in the same sentence? What's happened to me?) OK, we OUGHT to get a couple cell phones; the troubles I've had getting home from the new work place have convinced me of the efficacy of doing so. The last time we had cell phones, we had Verizon, we didn't use them all that much, probably 3 or 4 times a week max, and it was costing us WAY too much, maybe $70-$80/month.

And I've been peeved about how Verizon capitulated so easily in this NSA thing, though I've read that they said they did resist.

When I went down to my first conference this month down in Catskill, I was going to use someone's cell phone, with service provided by Cingular. Unfortunately, the phone didn't work. The only phones that were functional there were those that had services provided by...Verizon.

So, what does one do? Get one of those "per call" phones? And Allah knows I don't want to spend a fortune on the phones themselves. What does someone who wants to have two phones but for emergency use only want to get?

Know that if we DO get cell phones, I won't be giving out the number except to my spouse, and maybe my child's daycare. My need to be available 24/7 is virtually nil. I don't want to become one of those cell phone users who utter the words, "Oh, I have to take this call."

At some level, I have some contempt for cell phones, or is it the users? Three out the last four times I almost got hit by a car at a street corner, it was with the driver's ear in the cell phone. New York State's anti-cell ban is ineffectual, as it is unenforceable. So, I feel as though I'm going over to the dark side.

Well, this has been very therapeutic. Thanks. The check's in the mail.

Monday, May 22, 2006

TV Age

A number of people I know mourn the ending of their favorite shows. I really don't. I figure that 1) there will be other shows; there are ALWAYS other shows and 2) if not, then that's more time for reading. This past season was disappointing in that only one show I was watching got canceled (Arrested Development), while I started watching three new shows , all of which got renewed. Not a good trend. Thank goodness for the DVR. So watch will I be watching in the fall?

Thanks to Tosy for pointing out The Futon Critic. Thanks also to Tom the Dog, who has previewed all the new shows on his blog (May 16-19), so I don't have to.

10PM What About Brian? - I started watching this soap opera on a lark last season and decided I liked it enough to give it another go. Saw the final episode of THIS season only yesterday.

8PM - Gilmore Girls - As if you didn't know, though Friday Night Lights is interesting enough of a concept to tape at least once.
9PM I'm curious enough about Let's Rob to at least watch it once. Mick Jagger?
10PM Boston Legal - with more ex-Star Trek people than any cast on TV right now. And haven't watched the last two-hour episode of this season.

Nothing. Oh, I might try a show or two - mostly likely 30 Rock - but nothing is yet must see.

8PM My Name Is Earl - Both my wife and I are very fond of this show.
8:30PM The Office - and also this one. STILL haven't seen the last two episodes of either of these programs.
9PM Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Is anyone who is a TV junkie NOT anticipating this?
9PM Grey's Anatomy - The joy of being able to record two shows at once, since it's choir night and I'm unlikely to see either one in real time. Three episodes to go this season.


Definitely nothing.

7PM Everybody Hates Chris - all the new shows I added this year have male names (Brian, Earl, Chris) - what is the significance of that? One episode to go this season.
7PM 60 Minutes - three episodes to watch.
8PM The Simpsons
8PM NFL Football, if the game is interesting, especially later in the season.
10PM Brothers & Sisters - here's where I agree with Tosy about Ally McBeal enough to try this Calista Flockhart-starring vehicle.

Waiting in the wings:
Scrubs - three episodes of the current season still to watch.
I haven't seen American Idol in several weeks, though my wife has, but I have to admit that I'm surprised that Taylor, who is SO goofy that he's been parodied on SNL, has made it to the final two. But I've read in TV Guide that lots of folks, including - if I'm remembering correctly - Tim McGraw, like him because Taylor is "real". I'm NOT surprised that Katharine's still around, as she was Tom's recent OoMA, and likely the object of other people's affection as well.
I saw a piece on ABC News last night about Idol being shown in 5th and 6th grade music classes so that the students can evaluate the performers. The report suggested that, with 22% of schools cutting music and art, and that cut being related to No Child Left Behind's emphasis on reading and math, W is making Ryan Seacrest even more ubiquitous.
My wife noted that the Winfrey ball special that was supposed to be on last Monday, but pre-emptied by the President's immigration speech, and postponed until tonight, means that W is actually more powerful than Oprah. So far.
How many shows this past season ended with one or more people getting shot, with the network hyping that fact? CSI: Miami, E/R - there was a bunch of them, but I've managed to block most of them out. I've come to expect that sort of thing on 24, but it seems that the merry month of May now means TV bloodbaths. Is this a function of competing with the "summer" movies that are starting now?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Sunday Ramble

I was reading Ad Age when two ads just struck me. Both featured very attractive Hispanic women. The copy for the Univision ad read: "Just talk to me in Spanish." The one for Si TV read: "You lost me at 'Hola'." It continued that 96% of young Latinos speak English. Of course, these ads reflect the respective programming of these cable networks. But, to me, it also addresses the fact that one cannot pigeonhole the Hispanic population in the language debate.

The Senate's largely meaningless gesture to designate English as the national language seemed designed more to be able to tell the folks at home about how they've "stood up for America", because the bill wouldn't alter multilingual ballots, signage, or government websites, nor should it. Next thing you know, they'll be an official muffin.

As for the President's words on the topic, he seems to be speaking from both sides of his mouth on this. As Neil Young might say, "Flip. Flop."
In the last three weeks, I've seen three stories, on two networks (ABC and CBS) about ethanol in Flex cars in Brazil. (This MSNBC story on the topic is nearly two years old.) Flex cars, some of which have been designed by GM, can run on ethanol, gasoline or a combination of the two. The Brazilians use sugar cane, which costs about $1 per gallon to produce. Corn, which one would likely use in the United States, costs about $1.25 per gallon to make. Gasoline now goes for about $2 per gallon to produce.
It's less polluting, it cuts gas imports (Brazil now has no imports). No drilling in ANWR would be necessary. Maybe there's a downside, besides the loss of market share for Big Oil (poor Exxon Mobil!), but I haven't discovered it yet.

Hey, I wonder if they could make a hybrid flex car?
The 70th most popular baby name for girls on the Social Security page for 2005 is Nevaeh. It went from not in the top 1000 in 2000 to #266 in 2001, #191 in 2002, #145 in 2003, #101 in 2004 to its current position. As I saw on the news last week, the name was devised by singer Sonny Sandoval, who, I must admit, I have never heard of. He's with a Christian band called P.O.D. Nevaeh is Heaven spelled backwards.
Near-twin Gordon reviews my latest mixed CD.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"I'm Only Sleeping" Questions

Sometimes I experience insomnia. Quite often, I can identify the proximate cause. In the words of Paul Simon, sometimes I think too much. Also, eating late in the evening, or drinking caffeine (even one diet cola in the morning) may affect my noctural experience.

I find that white noise sometimes helps. In my new office, they have white noise, which is supposed to prevent us from hearing other conversations. It doesn't, but it does make me sleepy. Unfortunately, our country has not adopted the concept of the siesta, and being in a cubicle, I can't take a cat nap.

The idea of the nap used to be foreign to me, but lately, one a weekend can get me through the next week.

I find pills don't really help, even the prescription stuff such as Ambien, but Nyquil often does. But I don't want to become habituated to it, especially if I'm not sick.

The other thing that helps somewhat is heavy breathing (no, not that - get your mind out of the gutter), filling my lungs as much as possible then exhaling slowly.

Lately Lydia has been experiencing something similar. Like me, she generally falls asleep, but then wakes up in the middle of the night.

So my questions, if you would be so kind to answer:

Do you, or have you suffered from insomnia? For how long? Under what circumstances (stress caused by a particular event, e.g.)?

How did you treat your insomnia? Did you ever go to a sleep clinic?

Why does a two-year old wake up in the middle of the night more often than not recently?

Friday, May 19, 2006

TW3- mid May, 2006

I feel crummy.

Well, I need to back up a bit.

Monday, May 15- go to Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown with my father-in-law, Richard. While it was lovely at noon for the parade, it started clouding up during the Home Run Derby at 1, and they started the game early, at 1:35 instead of 2. If they could get in five innings, it'd be a legit game and they wouldn't have to refund 9000 tickets. But the rain increased, and we got soaked, so the game was called after 2 1/2 innings. My mother-in-law Joyce and I rendezvoused with Carol and Lydia. Our anniversary dinner consisted of salads at the McDonald's in Cobleskill, NY, then home.
Tuesday, May 16- First day in new office. Getting there was easier than I thought. We'd all done floor designs for our cubicles. I don't know why we bothered, as our designs had nothing to do with what they set up - in my case, my back to the entranceway. My Chinese colleague Jinshui said it was bad feng shui.
So I rearranged the office, and started putting my stuff away. Sometimes, I feel as though I have ADHD, because I simply cannot stay on a task for two or three hours at a time. I did some reference, what I could do that didn't involve copying (copier not there yet) or the CD-ROMs (LAN not working).
I wait at the bus stop to go home. The bus passes in one direction, so I figure it'll make a stop on the return trip. But then it comes back and passes me again. Fortunately, I flag down another bus and make it home.

Wednesday, May 17 - finish unpacking and do some reference. While getting there is easy (because other buses stop at the designated locales), I manage to miss BOTH late buses and have to walk home. Now, as the eagle flies, my new office is much closer to my home than my old. Of course, roads aren't designed that way, and I end up walking along I-90, which is dangerous enough in the best of circumstances, but potentially lethal during construction. Fortunately, some construction worker invited me to walk inside the barrier, and I got home a little less than an hour and a half after I left, soaked from a brief but torrential downpour.

Thursday, May 18 - As I did the previous two days, brought Lydia to day care. She's starting to develop a cough. Meet with a potential intern. Try to get some work done, but now the Internet and e-mail are also down. Except for catching up on reading Advertising Age and the Wall Street Journal, there is literally nothing I can do workwise.
Wife Carol calls to tell me that Lydia threw up at day care. They tried to call me, but we got new numbers. The old number was SUPPOSED at least leave a message, but no, it has a recording of the new tenant in our old space. So the day care couldn't reach me at all.
Got a ride to town, took myself out to dinner at a Greek restaurant.
Went to a meeting of the Friends of the Albany Public Library, got elected vice-president. Listened to a storyteller talk about the historic Cherry Hill section of Albany. Went to second half of choir rehearsal, then home.

So today, sick Roger is home with sick Lydia. Usually, I'd like to come up with a punchline to these tales, but as the great Peter Paul commercial says: "Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't."
I'm sad about the Macca split, mostly because of the speculation:

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I Am, I Said

Yeah, this is one of those fill in the blank thingies I swiped from Tosy, with apologies to Neil Diamond:

I am a news junkie. If I can't watch it, I'll tape it.
I said a lot of things with a filter.
I want people to recognize that the current federal government is not working in their interest, unless they make a lot of money.
I wish my father were still alive.
I hate hot and humid weather.
I love my family, my friends, music, and blogging.
I miss a lot of my family and friends, who are too far away to see regularly.
I fear getting bats in the house AGAIN because the contractor never bat-proofed the house like he said he would.
I hear poorly in bars.
I wonder about the nature of God. Constantly.
I regret not being able to have made my ex happy, even though no one can make another person happy if she's rooted in depression.
I am not nearly as smart as people think I am, but I let them keep thinking it anyway.
I dance at weddings, and that's about it.
I sing constantly. Even when I'm not singing aloud, I'm often singing in my head.
I cry often over certain pieces of music.
I am not always methodical.
I make with my hands lasagna. Some other stuff, too.
I write not nearly as often as the muse strikes.
I confuse some of the -ance and -ence word endings.
I need a massage.
I should lose some weight.
I start making duck noises and crack myself up.
I finish weeding old magazines, even if they're unread.
I tag no one. But those who haven't blogged lately - and you know who you are - might use it to get started again.
Happy birthday to my "baby sister", Marcia!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Catching Up Is Hard To Do: The Culture

Last year, when I attended these same two conferences, I gave laboriously detailed instructions to my wife to make sure she took out the VCR tape on Tuesday night before JEOPARDY!, lest the six hour recording be cut off and I miss recording one of our shows. This year, I didn't have to worry about that because we have a DVR. All I had to be concerned about was the fact that the memory was up to 87% and that I had to watch or purge some programs.

So what did I think of the finales of Everybody Hates Chris, Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, The Office, and Gray's Anatomy? I don't know; I haven't seen ANY of them yet, or indeed the penultimate episodes of ANY of those series (three back with Gray). Also, as is often the case, I watch the series finale of a show I used to watch, but then stopped. Previously, that's included Friends and Seinfeld; this season, it was West Wing. Haven't seen that either.

The only finale we DID watch was Gilmore Girls. I was disappointed. But then I read Tosy and I've totally changed my mind. Really.

I hadn't read many of the bloggers until recently. I hadn't seen Eddie's review of my recent compilation or Lefty lifting heavy books or even Fred dissecting the Pen 15 club back on May 11.

I did answer Lefty's question about boycotting musical artists. I tend to operate opposite of that. The Dixie Chicks are putting out a new album this month, and I'm most inclined to get it because of their troubles.

(Although now that I think of it, there IS one artist I did boycott, or more specifically the product she endorsed: Anita Bryant and orange juice, until her contract ran out.)

There's a special on Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions on CMT that I've missed twice already, and will record tomorrow (Thursday) at 6 pm.

I almost forgot Pinkersterfest on this Saturday past (!) until my wife reminded me; it's a VERY BIG DEAL around here. Maybe it was the gloomy forecast, but actually Saturday was the one day it DIDN'T rain - at least in daylight hours - in about a week.

More than that, I almost missed They Might Be Giants playing in the park for free! In any case, they were great. They did "We're the Replacements" from the very first EP of theirs I have from 1987. Of course, they did "The Egg", one of at least three venue songs they performed. One of things they were promoting on stage was "Experimental Film" from Homestar Runner. Very early on, during their description of the sun, they described their politics, talking about a "failed foreign policy", a "failed domestic policy", and "a failed Presidency"; they also describe themselves as "tax and spend liberals." Their last song before the three-song coda was "Istanbul", which was written the year I was born.
Friend Dan sent me this a while back:
"Thought you might find this amusing. Think about it... so many comic covers these days have blatant female T and A in skintight outfits, and no one objects. I sure don't, lemme tell ya.
But what's good for the goose is good for the female bird, right?
So... are these covers obscene, or are they the male equivalent of female depictions?"

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Catching Up Is Hard To Do: The news

I spent six of the first 12 days of this month at two different conferences. While I enjoyed them, it inevitably disrupts the daily rhythm. For instance, I miss news stories, or else, I hear them piecemeal.

One example: the death of Floyd Patterson. He was the first boxer I could identify by name. Additionally, this resonated for me because he was living in my old college town of New Paltz for years and because, like my father, he died from prostate cancer.
Someone asked me one day last week what I thought of the NSA domestic spying. Ever eloquent, I said, "Huh?" Then it was explained to me. Truth is, it didn't surprise me all that much. Nor did it surprise me that 2/3s of the American people, according to some poll, thought domestic spying was a good idea. I figure they just didn't understand the implications, that the spying could be on them.
But then, there was a follow-up question in which 2/3s of Americans wouldn't mind if their own phone calls were intercepted.
Do they really want other people to know about that a cyst they had that was found to be malignant, or the bill they didn't pay because they were a little short? (I was going to write something about a married couple having bicoastal phone "relations", but didn't want to offend anyone's sensibilities.)

Someone at one of the conferences told me that Americans were sheep. The context was Iraq. I was willing to play devil's advocate about people being fooled by misleading/false information from their government. But this one? Bah! Or Baa.

Or am I missing some nuance of this story, besides the "don't leak our secrets" argument?
Albany County district attorney David Soares made headlines when he described the failed U.S. drug policy at a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He was criticized locally by the mayor and the police union for suggesting that the police were overpaid. But Soares, who took on the Democratic machine and won what many thought was a surprising victory in 2004 had his supporters as well. He apologized for parts of his remarks, but stands by his main point, opposition to the arcane enforcement such as theRockefeller drug laws. (I suppose I should note here that I made a few phone calls on his behalf during the primary campaign, which, in Albany, is generally tantamount to election.)
I'm troubled. At least some of what the President of Iran said, that 18-page letter generally described as "rambling", as though that were a bad thing - look at the name of this blog - made some sense to me.
Katie Couric, anchor of the CBS Evening News - seems like a lot of money that won't translate into better ratings. In fact, the ratings went up when Bob Schieffer "temporarily" replaced Dan Rather for 14 months
Meredith Viera, new co-host of the Today show - good for her. I liked her going back to her 60 Minutes days.
Rosie O'Donnell, new co-host of The View - don't care. Saw some AOL thing about whether the couch will be big enough for her and Star Jones.
Spanish language national anthem - don't care. Don't think it is a substantive issue. Besides, as Greg points out, almost nobody knows the lyrics in English anyway.
Rush Limbaugh - the fact that he turned himself in to be arrested means he was arrested; that's not liberal press bias. His sentence seemed reasonable to me - hope others with his problem but without Roy Black as their lawyer get similar treatment.

Monday, May 15, 2006

7th anniversary

Carol and I picked our wedding day seven years ago, in part because it was about halfway between my birthday in March and her birthday in July. (I for one never thought about it nearly coinciding with Mother's Day.) Having been married before, the planning of the event didn't hold much excitement for me. I mean, I wanted to BE married; it's just, at some level. I just rather have eloped. But Carol hadn't been married, and I didn't want to cheat her out of "her day".

Most fortunately, my father was, among many of his other skills, an amazingly good designer of weddings and other celebrations. So when Carol and I went down to Charlotte in April 1999, Carol and Dad dealt with color schemes - PLEASE don't ask me what the color scheme of the wedding was - and decorations for the reception, while I concentrated on what I wanted in the service itself: the Scripture, the music, etc., with Carol's input.

The wedding was a careful negotiation: one of my new brothers-in-law, John, as one of my groomsmen (hmm - his birthday was yesterday, but he died a couple years back) and I got to use my then eight-year-old niece Alex as the flower girl. Stuff like that.

The event turned out to be bigger than either of us had originally thought, and as I mentioned last year, at a church we longer attend, but all of that is temporal.

Baseball figures into our anniversary this year. I'm going to the Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh...with my father-in-law. Then he, his wife, and my wife will rendezvous somewhere. She's been a good sport about this.

Happy anniversary, honey. (Geez, I don't know why I wrote that'; she STILL doesn't read the blog.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

M is for the Many Things She Gave Me

It's Mom’s Day. My mother is the person I know least likely to operate with an agenda. She is overwhelmingly nice. Sometimes TOO nice. A telemarketer calls and she says she’s not interested, and doesn't understand why he doesn't then hang up. (Because he still things he can still sell to her as long as she still on the phone.)

My father was the disciplinarian when I was growing up. My mom actually tried to spank me once, but it was a half-hearted effort.

She had a lot of guilt about being a working mom; the correct verbiage now is "a mother working outside the home", but we’re talking the late 1950s and the 1960s. We would go to her mother's house at lunch and after school. My grandmother was a strange, paranoid woman who told us about bogeymen, "bad people" and the like in such terrifying detail that both sister Leslie and I tended to believe her, whereas baby sister Marcia saw through the BS.

So, my mom was upset that her children’s minds were being filled with so much rubbish, even a decade after the fact. We tried to assure her not worry, that we were OK, that none of us ended up as mass murders or committed other felonies.

We could really tease my mom. She was not a great cook, and in fact, my father was much better in the kitchen. But she tried. Once, she made something from a recipe she found. It had weird green specks in it that we thought were awful. There was a detergent at the time called Oxydol, which advertised having "green bleaching crystals", and for years we made reference to this disastrous meal with "green bleaching crystals."

I think one of my favorite times with my mother was when I was 12 and Leslie was 11. My father smoked at the time, but my mother never has. So we sat at the kitchen table and we all lit up. Then we all coughed our brains out. Neither Leslie nor I ever were smokers.

So, there are some random thoughts about Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.
Happy birthday, Rocco.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Move - Today

Wow. The work move is today, postponed from yesterday. Probably the last I'll say about it (lucky you).

If some of it seems a tad cryptic, well, there's a reason for that.

One of the things that makes transition easier is information. If there had been a real opportunity to ask questions, I would have queried why, when six units were moving to this space, why five of them had been attending meetings for a month, while the sixth was not even informed?

With newer information, I might posit this question: Why are all of the folks moving to the third floor of this new building required to paying parking fees? And being threatened with being fired if they park without paying?

Free parking would have been at least one upside of the move - not for me, but still- yet even that has been dashed. The folks on the fourth floor of the new building (two folks I know from church) and the second floor of this building (a guy from the Bradley birthing class I attended) are not paying, and indeed one of them laughed at the suggestion. Surely, the fact that our folks were paying for parking when they were downtown, where parking is at a premium, oughtn't impact parking at the CW, where parking is plentiful. Someone had the audacity to suggest to me that those driving are helping to subsidize the move, but that can't be it. Of course not.

And I'm sure the building people have forbade us from having food at our desks, but it certainly can't be true that someone has been assigned to check to make sure we don't have hot plates at our desks, can it? That would suggest that we need to be treated like children, rather than the professionals we are, so I'm sure that's just an ugly rumor.

And speaking of rumors, I heard that someone has forbidden any signage for individual workspaces, i.e., name plates. That can't be right. Over 200 people from a half dozen programs going to a place with a standard look and feel would certainly require some differentiation. I have this old name plate from when I was a teller for about a month nearly 30 years ago just waiting to be dusted off. Sammy

So, in conclusion, my reticence about this particular move does not come merely from:
-not wanting to move
-the inconvenience of where we're moving to
-the realization that we're less likely to attract library interns because of our new location
-missing downtown
-my bad memories of the last time I worked at that location
-moving from an office with a door to a cubicle
-moving to a smaller space
-getting an e-mail dated this past Wednesday at 9 pm informing us that when the computer files are migrated at the end of the day yesterday, some of our files are moving into something called the archives, and that we should move said files to another area if we don't want them stored in the archives - since I was out of time at the time, reading this Thursday at 4 pm, that news was particularly distressing to me
-not being able to listen to music
-having to become one of those clock-watching people who HAS to leave at 5:30, even when I'm in the middle of something
but for those reasons and...others.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Photo op

Just back from conference #2 of the month. I presented there too.

I had this friend I went to school with from about 2nd to 9th grade named Ray. His mother was the den mother when we were Cub Scouts together. I was in Ray and Pam's wedding in October 1976. Pam just sent me this newspaper clipping from 1961, which, if you can't read it, indicates that I was helping with the packing for supplies for a "Negro tent community in Tennesssee". No doubt that my apparel was my father's idea.

You may notice that they gave full street addresses for the girl Penny and for me; they don't do THAT anymore, do they? You will also note that they misspelled my last name as Greene. Even then, I hated it when they screwed up my moniker.
My friend Judy, who drove me to Boston to be on JEOPARDY! in 1998, is taking the show's test in NYC tomorrow. Another friend called me to give pointers to a colleague who is also taking the test. They are all Albany librarians, so I wish them the best of luck.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Christianity" fights back

Got this e-mail recently:

Got plans for May 19, the day that the movie The DaVinci Code is slated to open? If not, go to the movies. If so, then go to the movies sometime that weekend before May 21. Just don't go to The DaVinci Code.

That's the advice being given to Christians by Christians who know how Hollywood works and know the best way to get the bean-counters in Hollywood to

"May 19th is the date the Da Vinci Code movie opens. A movie based on a book that wears its heresy and blasphemy as a badge of honor.

"What can we as Christians do in response to the release of this movie? I'm going to offer you the usual choices -- and a new one.

"Here are the usual suspects:

"A) We can ignore the movie.

"The problem with this option: The box office is a ballot box. The only people whose votes are counted are those who buy tickets. And the ballot box closes on the Sunday of opening weekend. If you stay home, you have lost your chance to make your vote heard. You have thrown your vote away, and from Hollywood's point of view, you don't count. By staying home, you do nothing to shape the decision-making process regarding what movies will make it to the big screen.

"B) We can protest.

"The problem with this option: It doesn't work. Any publicity is good publicity. Protests not only fuel the box office, they make all Christians look like idiots. And again, protests and boycotts do nothing to help shape the decisions being made right now about what movies Hollywood will make in the next few years. (Or they convince Hollywood to make *more* movies that will provoke Christians to protest, which will drive the box office up.)

"C) We can discuss the movie. We can be rational and be ready with study guides and workshops and point-by-point refutations of the lies promulgated by the movie.

"The problem with this option: No one's listening. They think they know what we're going to say already. We'll lose most of these discussions anyway, no matter how prepared we are, because the power of story always trumps the power of facts (why do you think Jesus taught in parables?!). And once again: rational discussion of history does nothing to affect Hollywood's choices regarding what movies to make.

"But there's a fourth choice.

"On May 19th, you should go to the movies.

"Just go to another movie.

"Save the date now. May 19th, or May 20th. No later than Sunday, May 21st -- that's the day the ballot box closes. You'll get a vote, the only vote Hollywood recognizes: The power of cold hard cash laid down on a box office window on opening weekend.

"Use your vote. Don't throw it away. Vote for a movie other than DVC. If enough people do it, the powers that be will notice. They won't have a choice.

"The major studio movie scheduled for release against DVC is the DreamWorks animated feature Over the Hedge. The trailers look fun, and you can take your kids. And your friends. And their friends. In fact, let's all go see it.

"Let's rock the box office in a way no one expects -- without protests, without boycotts, without arguments, without rancor. Let's show up at the box office ballot box and cast our votes. And buy some popcorn, too.

"May 19th. Mark your calendars now: Over the Hedge's opening weekend. Buy a ticket.

"And spread the word. Forward this e-mail to all the Christians in your address book. Post it on your blogs. Talk about it to your churches. And let's all go to the movies."

Spread the word. And go to the movies on May 19.

So, if Over the Hedge becomes an unexpected box office smash, you'll know why.

Truth is, I'm one of the 14 people in the country who hasn't read the DaVinci Code, haven't been compelled to read it, haven't purchased it with the intent to read it, and wasn't that interested in seeing the movie. The e-mail makes me more eager to see the film, especially on the first weekend. The reality is, I haven't seen ANY movie this calendar year, and I doubt either this OR Over the Hedge will be the first.
I feel fortunate that the two NYC tabloids have have a firm grasp on theology, judging by their headlines last week, when Moussaouri got life, rather than death. (A more typical headline: "No Way Out" on the Troy Record.) Personally, I was touched by some of the families of the 9/11 victims who testified, essentially for life over yet one more death.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Conference '06 #1: The place

There are a bunch of resorts in the Catskills north of New York City that were built in the late 1940s and early 1950s that, for a time, became destinations for the well-to-do, but later became obsolete, as tourism dollars started going elsewhere - trips to the Caribbean and elsewhere. I (and many of my colleagues) could have sworn that one of those places was the Friar Tuck Inn, where we had our conference. So I was shocked, SHOCKED to learn that it didn't even open until Memorial Day weekend 1971, with Duke Ellington playing.

Some of my relatives have suggested that it was built in anticipation of legalized gambling that was proposed but never came to the area. The rumors at the time was that there was illegal gambling going on, run by the underworld.

The lobby is dark and eclectically designed. The lights on the ceiling seemed to have a Moroccan design. The room has a large-screen TV, often set on PBS classroom learning, though I did see the Red Sox beat the Yankees there one evening.

One of the many peculiar features is that the main building and some of the attached buildings, named Camelot I and Camelot II, were on different levels. One could go from the 3rd floor of one building and be on the 2nd floor of another.

The hallways were bizarre mazes where people were STILL getting lost three days into the conference. One was never sure that one was traveling the most efficient path. I always found what I was looking for, but I often felt as though I were traveling from LA to San Francisco...via Denver.

I was told by two people, independently, that the hallways in the Camelot sections reminded them of the hallways in the Nicholson version of "The Shining". One of these people said, "See the little girl? Redrum!" I said, "Shut up!", because I could envision what he said.

There were a couple sections with Buckingham in the name. One of them, across the way, had little turrets.

The food was serviceable - a piece of dried-out cake here, a funky tuna salad there notwithstanding. More than one person noted that the breakfast bacon was cooked perfectly, not over- or undercooked. I assumed there would be a buffet, but instead we were served from limited breakfast, lunch and dinner menus by a largely energetic staff.

There was an outdoor pool area (not yet in use in this weather), and a nice indoor pool. The exercise room was small, with professionally done signage that indicated that management was not responsible "for it's use".

There was a pond nearby with two of the loudest geese I've ever heard. There were courts for shuffleboard and bocce. The bocce court was not a manicured lawn, but rather crushed stone, which was OK, except that it had weird grooves in it. The small ball, or the jack, was actually a golf ball. I played a couple times, once against center director Irene, and once with the new librarian Amelia against librarian Josee and counselor Lynn (we won 15-14). After that, I had to deny rumors that I was an old Italian man.

But the most peculiar thing about this place as the fact that there were no clocks. Anywhere, as far as I could see. None in the meeting rooms, dining room, lobby, hallways, or even our rooms. Maybe the people STILL want to make it into a casino.

When I was in my room, the only way to tell time was to turn on the TV to CNN. In fact, on the first day there, I discovered the TV wasn't working because someone (a previous guest, one assumes) yanked the cable out. Someone replaced the cable - very quickly, actually.

This was, literally, a place out of time.
Because I was out of town during the big immigration action last week, I missed some of the nuances of the story, such as the LA Times "facts" about immigration hoax.

I DID get to see the Today Show's Katie Couric listen as Ann Curry announced the death of Louis Rukeyser last week. It was obvious that Katie hadn't heard the news until that very second, and that it affected her emotionally. It wasn't breaking news, so I thought she would have been told earlier of the passing of someone who worked prominently for a sister network, CNBC.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Old Fogey Music

As I've indicated, I have participated in these music exchanges with fellow bloggers, in part to hear music that I wouldn't have heard before, maybe hit onto some new, cutting edge artists. And I like quite a bit of what I've heard. (Sidebar: here's what Lefty thought of my last disc.)

So what did I just add to my Amazon list?

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris - All the Roadrunning
Released April 25, 2006.
My first albums by these artists:
Communique, Dire Straits, 1979
Elite Hotel, Emmylou Harris, 1976
(Picture from Knopfler's website.)

Paul Simon- Surprise
Released May 9, 2006.
My first album by this artist:
Wednesday Morning, Three A.M., Simon & Garfunkel, 1966.

Bruce Springsteen- We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Released April 25, 2006.
My first album by this artist:
Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., 1973
My first album by the subject of this album:
We Shall Overcome, Pete Seeger (live at Carnegie Hall), 1963

Neil Young, Living with War
Released May 8, 2006.
My first album by this artist:
Retrospective: Best of Buffalo Springfield, 1969 or
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Neil Young, 1969

The Beatles- The Capitol Albums Vol. 2
Released April 11, 2006.
The very first LP I ever bought, Beatles VI from 1965, is in this collection.

And I hear the late Johnny Cash will have a new album out this summer, and I'll want that too.

So, I find myself still leaning on the reliable "brands", in spite of myself. Well, there it is.

Paul Simon, who will be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this week, was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning in a piece that aired a couple days ago. Harry Smith asked him if he felt 64, and he noted that Paul McCartney called him up on his birthday last October and sang to him "When I'm 64," so he knows it at some level.
Friday's Wall Street Journal had an article by John Lippman about why some TV shows haven't put out a box set: music rights. WKRP in Cincinnati, The Wonder Years, and Beverly Hills 90210 are some of the shows cited. Ally McBeal has some "best of" programs, but the Vonda Shepherd covers would cost "multiple millions" of dollars.
When the sixth season of Dawson's Creek was recently released on DVD, 49 of 204 songs in the 22 episodes were replaced.
I put Music Shack out of business. OK, it wasn't just me, but the local record store is closing next month, after 36 years in business, and as a former regular, I feel partially responsible. I haven't been there in over two years. Coincidentally, I have a daughter who's two. But it was also two years ago when they moved from the WAY-too-convenient-for-me location on the second block of Central Avenue in Albany, to the 'burb of Colonie. The article is here, as of this writing, but will undoubtedly be in the back issues section come Thursday.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Indicting a Ham Sandwich

I was watching the news about the Duke lacrosse players, before two were indicted and subsequently arrested. One of the defense lawyers said: "In North Carolina, you can indict a ham sandwich."

I wondered abou the origins of that phrase, but I didn't have to look too far. Sol Wachtler, who was New York State's top judge, once said district attorneys now have so much influence on grand juries that "by and large" they could get them to "indict a ham sandwich." Specifically, he noted, "Even a modestly competent district attorney can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich."

Interestingly, seven years after the former Court of Appeals Judge made this pronouncement in 1985, a grand jury indicted him for sexual harassment.

The phrase went into popular use after Tom Wolfe used it in the 1987 book, Bonfire of the Vanities.
From Truthout e-mail of 5/4/06:
"Cindy Sheehan writes that she (and every single other individual on this planet working for peace and justice) is often accused of being "anti-American" for dissenting against her feral government that has gone wild with lawlessness and greed,..."
Feral government: typo or intentional barb? After all, feral means: Funereal; deadly; fatal; dangerous OR Wild; untamed; ferine; not domesticated. Oh, the article is here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Arrange Your Music QUESTION

O.K. -sometimes I ask a question because I'm curious about your opinions. This time, I REALLY want to know:

How do you arrange your recorded music?

For a while, I used to separate it into classical (defined as the composer is most important) and pop (which was all the rest).

Then, I found that, in the pop section, I had too many compilation discs to keep track of, so I culled them (and soundtracks) into a separate category.

And now, I find myself re-sorting again. I've split the "compilations" into soundtracks (movie, Broadway, TV), tributes (to particular artists - got a LOT of Beatles), the compilers (this includes CDs on Motown, as well as discs put together by Eddie, e.g.). Then there are those few albums that I've ended up filing by category (folk, R&B), something I disdain in my artist section because I don't know what it means. If I put THEM in categories, I'd have to split my k.d. lang into country and pop, and that just would not do. An album called Discovery R&B, or Warner Jazz, though, pretty much says it all.

The re-sorting became a function of not remembering. What IS the name of that Richard Thompson tribute album? (Beat the Retreat). How about the Elton John one? (Two Rooms). Or Curtis Mayfield? (A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield). The reshuffling puts all the Motown compilations together under M, rather than some under H (for Hitsville USA).

Of course, some albums fall under more than one category. The Tom Petty soundtrack for She's the One; file under artist or soundtrack? The I Am Sam album- soundtrack or Beatles tribute?

So, again, what is YOUR solution? Assuming the solution isn't "Put it all in my (nonexistent) iPod."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Say Hey

Back in 1994, I bought some beverage from McDonald's and I ended up with a Willie Mays glass. It features a replica of his 1957 baseball card when he played with the New York Giants. That was the team's last year at the Polo Grounds, before moving to San Francisco. (I still have the glass.) His days in New York were immortalized by a Terry Cashman song, and there was also Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song) by The Treniers.

My first recollection of a World Series was in 1962. It was difficult for me because my two favorite teams at the time were playing. My hometown Triplets was long a Yankee farm team, so I had a rooting interest in the team of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford and Elston Howard. But I don't know what attracted me to the team now playing across the country in San Francisco, unless it was the players: Juan Marichal, Willie "Stretch" McCovey, Felipe and Matty Alou, and the "Say Hey Kid", Willie Mays. I thought he was the best baseball player ever - he could hit for power, hit for average, steal bases, play great defense. (The Yankees won that Series, four games to three.)

When I went to Cooperstown one year, I got to buy this plastic figurine of Willie. I loved it. The arms even moved! Then the dog bit off one of his feet, and one of the arms (the one with the glove) fell off, but I kept it for a good long time anyway.

It must have been because he batted .211 in his final season, as a New York Met, that kept some people from voting him into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, but he still got 409 votes or 94.68% of the votes cast anyway and was elected in 1979.

He was present when his godson, Barry Bonds, son of his former teammate Bobby Bonds, tied his home run mark of 660 early in 2004. Unfortunately, Barry's blasts are mired in a steroidal dispute, whereas the kid who used to play stickball on the streets of New York City, even after he became a star, will have a legacy untouched by such controversy.

Willie Mays, the greatest living baseball player, turns 75 today. Happy birthday.
Anyone hear froom Nat Pike lately? His blog has 404ed.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Stop the Music

Since I'm moving from an office with a door to a cubicle, one of the things I will really miss is the ability to listen to music. Currently I listen to 6 or 8 CDs daily at work, but soon that will likely be cut down to...none. I can't really do my job with a Walkperson on, I don't think, although I may try. I answer phones, talk with colleagues, etc. So, none of my music will be "work-safe."

Here then, in memoriam, is my obsessive compulsive manner of playing music at work, RIP, May 12, 2006, born from the conviction that if I'm going to own over 1000 CDs, I damn well better find a way to play them:

THE BIRTHDAYS: I got a couple lists, one from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which was somewhat inaccurate and no longer is on the site), plus some other lists, and I play the music of the artists during their birth week. Solo artists are easy. Groups are harder, unless the group member is clearly dominant (Dave Clark in the DC5 - December, BTW). Sometimes, I can't decide, and I pick two of them (Rolling Stones in July-Mick, and December-Keith). Or because I find a desire to play them at different times of the year (Beach Boys in June-Brian, and December- Carl and Dennis).

Beatles I play thrice a year, in February-George, June-Paul, and October-John, along with their respective solo works. What about poor Ringo (July)? That month I play a lot of Beatle covers, along with his solo stuff. And I have a LOT of Beatles covers.

Birthdays include, BTW, certain non-performers, notably Berry Gordy; I play a lot of Motown compilations in November. And more recently, some of the blogger compilers, e.g. Fred in January, Kelly last month, etc.

Black History Month, which I've decided runs from MLK Day to the end of February): lots of R&B compilations, notably Say It Loud!
Valentine's Day: Yeah, I have some love albums. Wanna make something of it?
Academy Awards: Soundtracks in February or March, depending on the date of the broadcast
St. Patrick's Day: Chieftains, Clannad, the Coors
Lent: a requiem each week

I also have music for the 4th of July, Halloween and of course, Christmas.

So, it'll be...different very soon.