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Friday, June 30, 2006

Pop Redux

Here's one of those Internet connection things. I got this e-mail in mid-April, topic line McKinley Green:

Dear Mr. Green,

I just happened to be browsing the web and I typed in WNBF-TV on Google and as I scrolled I ran across your name and that your father was a janitor at WNBF in the mid-1950s. My brother, John, ran a grocery store at the corner of Oak & Dickinson Streets , in the 1st Ward, called Johnny's Market that used to be Ted Gold's Market previously. Anyway, there was this great gentleman named McKinley Green who would stop in most evenings after work for this or that and we'd chat about one thing or another. I was thirteen or so and it being a family grocery we all knew Mr. Green. As I said he was one of the most pleasant, courteous and charming people I have ever known. When I saw this web notation I just had to ask if this was the same person we knew. If it is the same person I just wanted to let you know I still remember him after all these years. I'll soon be 65 so you know that it has been a long time.

Anyway God Bless the man I knew as McKinley Green.

So I wrote back, clarifying that Pop was my grandfather, but that, yes, those stores were three blocks from my house, on the street of my elementary school.

I wrote my note before I actually read your blog that described your relationship to McKinley. Do you have anymore recollections of your Pop? It's been so many years since those days that it is hard to remember some things. I printed out the portion of the June 24th note to let my sisters read your memories of McKinley. I'm sorry that this grand man passed away so long ago and we didn't realize it. Was it in Binghamton?

So, I sent him a link to this story, which he evidently had not seen.

Since he asked: My grandfather loved tinkering with vehicles. He did some work in the driveway, but mostly, he'd be at some Texaco station downtown near the former post office.

He also read the National Geographic. This is actually something I remember only because he used to give me the maps every month. I used to study those maps all the time, so I developed a pretty good sense of where countries were, world capitals, and the like, at least circa 1971, when I went off to college.

So, while I hadn't thought of it previously, Pop was a vital participant in my educational process. Thanks, Pop.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Beatles LOVE, the spectacular

Like many Beatles fan, I took the news of a Cirque du Soleil show featuring Beatles music with a healthy dose of skepticism, even though the idea developed as a result of a friendship between George Harrison and Guy Laliberte, founder of the group.

So, I was much encouraged reading about the project both in last Saturday's Wall Street Journal (page A-2), and in the May-June issue of Beatlefan magazine, issue 160. The show, currently in previews, opens tomorrow in a "$130 million, 2,013-seat theater at the Mirage featuring 360-degree-in-the-round seating and advanced high definition video projections with 100-foot digital moving images."

The Beatles' legendary producer Sir George Martin and his son Giles, who helped create the "authorized mash-up", were on hand when the press, stripped of their cellphones and tape recorders, heard 15 minutes of the 90-minute presentation, which included:

Strawberry Fields (Anthology demo) morphing into an outtake, then the official version at its original speed, with riffs from at least a dozen other Beatles songs: Sgt. Pepper brass section, In My Life keyboards, the Hawaiian chant from Hello, Goodbye, plus Piggies and Penny Lane.

Within You Without You vocal to backing track, and monks, from Tomorrow Never Knows, with snippets of Got To Get You Into My Life.

Lucy In The Sky extended intro before the song.

Orchestration from Good Night with vocal from Octopus's Garden, plus bits of Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard, Lady Madonna, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

According to the WSJ, there will be "30 recognizable songs with snippets from 150 more." There will be a soundtrack by the end of the year, which I most certainly will want to get (somebody tell my wife, please). Giles Martin said he won't know what it'll sound like until "his bosses", Ringo, Paul, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono give the final word.

So, as I said, I'm encouraged.

Not so incidentally, my subscription to Beatlefan has a strange genesis:

Friend Fred had spent months trying to nag me to order a subscription. Then one day, about a month before my birthday, a copy arrives in the mail. I mentioned it to Fred, and, well...
ME: I thought to subscribe, and I'm in SUCH a fog, that I figured that
I MUST have, but I don't think I probably got around to it. (There
are LOTS of things I do I don't remember doing.) So, THANK YOU very much!
FRED: That's pretty funny! I tried imagining your shock and surprise when that first, unexpected issue showed up, you wondering HOW could this be, and then maybe figuring out yours truly was the one responsible, and gratitude would instantly overwhelm you!
Instead, it comes in, and you figure, "Gee, guess I did subscribe after all!..."
Honestly, that just cracks me up!
But you're gonna love it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

And I HAVE. So, thanks, Fred! Glad to bring some humor to your life.
CBS Sunday Morning piece on Paul McCartney, with a sidebar audio by early Beatles proponent DJ Cousin Bruce Morrow, on the significance of "When I'm 64."
Mild-mannered reporter, journalism scandal?
A belated happy 2nd blogiversary to Tom the Dog.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I Blame Richard Dawson

When I went to one of my conferences in May, one of the evening entertainment segments was based on the TV show Family Feud. I managed to miss that. But during one of the classroom sessions the next morning, the exercise was ALSO based on the Feud. Two captains were chosen, I was the first one picked, probably because of my vast game show experience, and our library director was picked second.

The game itself was like the TV show, complete with working buzzers. The questions were all business-related, thus its applicability to work. I don't remember much what happened in the second round, when I was in my first face-off, but I do remember the seventh (!) round; there was the capacity to double or even triple the scores, which would have quickened the game, but this was not done.

The question was something like "Name a brand name." I said "Coke". Not on the board. My opponent picked something I thought might be up there, maybe Microsoft. Nope. OK, I picked "Nike". Try again. Opponent picked another loser. I thought I didn't understand the question, and picked "Clorox". Not there. My opponent picked Pepsi. No go. I picked "Dell",. Uh uh. The number one answer was McDonald's, which I might have gotten to, but answers #2-#4 were Starbucks, e-Bay, and Amazon. I knew there were 100 marketing people, but I NEVER would have gotten those last three answers. Still, there's that mild embarassment of going down in flames before several dozen people you work with.

More recently, I was getting a haircut, and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" was on. The question was something like: In Mexico, the program 100 Mexicanos Dijeron translates into which of these classic game shows?" IMMEDIATELY, before they gave the four choices, I knew the answer was Family Feud, even though I didn't recognize the verb. (The contestant didn't know, her lifeline didn't know, and she quit with her $8000.)

All of this to say, I'm going to be taping a program this week called Gameshow Marathon, hosted by Ricki Lake, where some blonde woman named Brande Roderick, who I never heard of (she was Miss April 2000 for Playboy, and later Playmate of the year, but I still don't know why she's particularly FAMOUS - oh, she was on BAYWATCH) will be playing with her friends and family against Kathy Najimy (her I know from King of the Hill, Sister Act, and, God help me, the dreadful Veronica's Closet) and her tribe in an episode of...well, I think you know by now, don't you?
Computer problems. Pictures are taking FOREVER to load, even simple graphics like the spell-check icon in Blogger. So if the spelling's been off, I apologize. (I'm actually a good speller, but a lousy typist.) I'll call my provider today.
Another TV and movie star has passed away: Moose.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Love and Marriage: June 2006

Carol and I attended our second wedding in a month this weekend. I have two more to attend this year, one in October, one on a date I do not yet know. Lydia came along this time.

Fiona is our most excellent alto soloist in our church choir. Michael is this great guy she met a couple years back. The three of us have played hearts together, although not in the last three months; last time we played, Fiona won, and I want a rematch.

This was an outdoor wedding at Moreau State Park, between Saratoga and Glens Falls. The weather in the morning did not appear at all encouraging, with yet another rainy night in Albany. But the weather cleared.

Carol seemed to think the wedding was at 4 p.m., rather than the stated time of 3:30, which turned out to be a good thing, because we got there at about 3:15, and she would have worried unnecessarily.

The groom, the bride, and her two daughters walked to the site of the wedding accompanied by a bagpiper. The choir sang God Is Love (not the lyrics in italics), accompanied by a guitarist and two violinists from the choir. The minister offered up a brief but joyous service, and then we ate. It was a pot luck, and it worked out well.

Some people commented to me how wonderful it was that the choir was there. I noted we pretty much had to be there. You spend 40 weeks a year, pretty much every Thursday night and Sunday morning with a group of people, and you almost inevitably develop a pretty tight bond. About a previous choir, someone once accused us of being a "clique", and that was probably true. this group may less cliquish, but still pretty close. (That said, Fiona is pretty swell - though she'd be embarrassed to read that.)

I met a woman I'd seen on the bus I sometimes take, who's a drinking buddy of the bride, and who I prostelized about, of all things, blogging.

The park had a playground not 50 yards away, and Lydia and some the other child had a chance to use the slides and do other activities.

To paraphrase the songwriter, "A splendid time was had by all."

This is a picture of Darrin and Suzy, from the reception of the first wedding we attended. Today is their first lunaversary. You don't know lunaversary? It is a word I invented: see this.
A person whose name appears very often in my record collection, producing love songs, and lots of other genres, died recently. Arif Mardin produced a slew of albums, especially on Atlantic Records, for such varied artists as The Rascals, Dusty Springfield, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, and most notably, the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha.
Unfortunately, the Ann-Adolf romance can never take place.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Lydster, Part 27: Grandparents to the Rescue

Carol and I went to a wedding on Memorial Day weekend, and we were trying to suss out what to do with Lydia. So we tried the "noble experiment"; she would stay over at Grandma and Grandpa's house. A couple weeks before, on Mother's Day weekend, we mentioned the possibility to her, and she headed right for their vehicle. It wasn't staying with them we worried about, it was how she would be in the morning without either Mommy or Daddy there. It simply hadn't happened before, though her cousins had successfully stayed with them at an earlier age.

Little did we know that, within the month, we would be sending her there again. As I've alluded, Lydia's been sick, with pinkeye, then a bad cold, then an ear infection. I took care of her Friday, June 2, Monday, June 5, and Friday, June 9, plus the mornings of June 6 and 7, where Carol took care of her those afternoons. (We shared the weekend.) We thought she was well enough on the Thursday, but we were evidently wrong. Nor was she well enough on Monday, June 12. So Grandpa picked her up and brought her to his house, an hour and a quarter away. Then some combination of Grandma and Grandpa took care of her at our house Tuesday through Thursday.

She's feeling much better now, I'm pleased to report.

While she was sick, and I was tending to her, she still could be her charming self, applauding to my singing along with whatever record that happened to be on (likely Beatles or Beach Boys).

Glad your feeling better, honey. Love from Daddy. And thanks to Grandma and Grandpa from all of us.
Happy first birthday, Norah!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Suicide Isn't Painless: Three Questions

The coincidence of Lefty's question about heaven AND an e-mail I got from a Methodist listserv I belong to generates these questions:

One person was aware of someone who was Roman Catholic who was despairing over a suicide. Another person responded:

According to the online Catechism of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Under Part Three: Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandments Chapter Two: "You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself"
Article 5: The Fifth Commandment I. Respect for Human Life
Subsection on Suicide (Paragraphs 2280-2283) States:
Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.
Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.
If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

Several people provided examples of a more understanding position by priests, including one who noted that the priest knew [X] and "his homily was warm and touching, indicating no hint of condemnation for suicide. I don't know what the official teaching is on suicide in the Roman Catholic Church, but the practice appears no longer to be condemnation to hell. I have been thinking recently that I would like to investigation this transformation."

This piece, from a more fundamentalistist approach, suggests one person who may have committed suicide but got into heaven (Saul), but generally has a gloomier take on the topic.

So, my three questions:

1. Is there a hell?
2. Who goes there?
3. Does suicide necessarily send you there?

My answers are: Possibly; it's not my call to make; it's not my call to make.
I went by a church this week and saw the sign out front that said: "Revelation: The Last Word of God". Somehow, this really bothered me. It was as though God hasn't had anything to say to us in 1900 years. No wonder people thought God was dead.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Roger Answers Your Questions, Gordon and Lefty (or GordonLefty)

Near-twin Gordon Says:I have a few questions:

And I have a few answers.

1) Is it true that Lefty Brown and I are the same person? (After all, you never see us in the same room together)?

Well, that depends on YOUR answer to these two questions:

1. Are you left-handed?
2. Have you ever worn a bra on your head?
If the answer to both questions is YES, then maybe you ARE Lefty Brown.


2) What's the best thing about living in Albany, NY?

Probably the events: the Alive at Five free concerts, Pinksterfest, Larkfest, events on the Empire State Plaza.

Lefty found need to reply:

First of all...Gordon! Is this some lame attempt to claim ownership of my cd and comic book collection....'cause that can go both ways my friend!

Now questions:

One I've actually have been thinking about emailing you privately...
1.) The EW 25 Controversial films...have you watched Birth of a Nation? If so, what are your reactions to it? I'm trying to frame the question on the place of art versus racism. Take the Triumph of the Wills. I can appreciate the talent and artistry of R....(I forget her name)

but of course the subject and the use of film as propaganda is oft-times bone-chilling.

I've seen clips, of course, but not the whole thing. Like an argument I once made on behalf of Amos 'N' Andy, I think it SHOULD be seen, and discussed.

2.) You get one and only one Beatles album to survivor the coming Apocalypse. Which one would it be (and no fair going to either of the red or blue collections)?

Beatles Box 2. Oh, that's probably a cheat, too. Logic would dictate #1s, because it's far longer, but I'd probably come down in favor of Revolver over the white album (Revolution 9 seems too apocalyptic.)

3.) Resurrection. Will our lives in heaven being only as souls, or will it be in body as well? If it is bodily, which body type? Tattoos et al? The thinner or fatter me? Etc?

OK, try this on: it's like that story in the Acts of the Apostles where everyone hears the Word in their own tongue. You would be in your best self, but other people would recognize you from whatever stage of life they knew you best.

4.) Is violence ever justified? Do you believe a violent resistance when it comes to protect your loved ones?

Yes, and yes - but only as much as absolutely necessary. That said, I think one should avoid putting oneself in that position, which is why I oppose most wars, including the Iraq war. It is almost inevitable that an Andersonville/Abu Gharib or My Lai/Haditha will result over time, I'm afraid.

5.) Do you have any favorite sports teams?

I always pull for the NY Giants, who come up to Albany for a few weeks each summer.

6.) What musician/band do you find yourself a fan of, that 10 years you would have never expected to like?

The Dixie Chicks. They ripped off their name from the Little Feat song, they're country, all sorts of reasons for disliking them. I got their new album just this week.

7.) Why does Lefty ask so many questions?

He works in a library, which expands his mind for thought-provoking queries such as these.

That's it, for now.

And don't think I've forgotten about you, Gordon. I got my eye on you!

Assuming you're not Gordon.
Oh, I'd like to think I was immune to the charms of Aaron Spelling. I seldom watched Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Hotel, Dynasty, The Colbys, T.J. Hooker, or Charmed. OK, I watched the first season of Charlie's Angels, but didn't everyone? And I'd see The Love Boat, when there was a guest star I wanted to see, which was more often than I'd care to admit. But I forgot that Starsky and Hutch, The Rookies, Hart to Hart, and probably a whole lot more that I realized were also his work. Aaron Spelling, who was an actor in the 1950s - I did not know that - died yesterday at 83.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and Nik

Our first victim, er, contestant is Scott:

I took that test and got blue as well. Good thing I guess that my blog is already that color.

I thought to change my blog color just for the day, but changed my mind. But the blog is OBVIOUSLY green.

I really enjoy reading "Pearls Before Swine", even if the artwork is lacking.

Yeah, though the artwork is actually growing on me. It's better artistically than early Doonesbury, which was really minimalist, as I recall. In any case, it's probably one of my top three strips.

Questions for Roger:

Yeah, that's just like me, answering questions that weren't even being asked.

1. So far, what has been your biggest-happiest-proudest moment of being Lydia's father?

Don't know, actually. But I can tell you what's tickling me right now. She takes her carriage, the one she used to ride in (but won't now unless she's ill), which is still taller than she is, and walks it around the block, without riding off onto someone's lawn or someone's driveway. Just last week, I was walking behind her and the carriage and someone coming toward me though I must have had a remote control for the carriage. People seeing this from the street side seem to think it's "AWWWW"-inducing. I think it's amazing, since it involves six right turns (one out of the walkway, four at the corners, and one back into the walkway). She must be using her peripheral vision.

Also: she sees my change (coins), and has not indicated any interest in swallowing them. (Conversely, her father swallowed a penny once.) Instead, she brings it to me. This frustrates her mother; when SHE finds my change (on the floor, on the bed, in the laundry), she puts it in her change jar.
Recently, Carol was reading the paper, and Lydia said, "NO, Daddy's!" (I read it a lot more than my wife does.) I thought it was very funny. Not sure my wife did.

2. It's early yet, but who are you picking to win the World Series?

You're a cruel man, Scott.
All right. The New York Metropolitans over the Detroit Tigers in six games.
BTW, I saw the Tigers' leadoff hitter, Curtis Granderson, playing in Class A Oneonta three years ago.

3. What is the most controversial book you have read and what are your general thoughts about it?

I don't know. Really. So, I went to Banned Books list and picked out four "challenged" books I've read.

Captain Underpants - I used to read this series with my niece who's now 15, when she was maybe half that age. We enjoyed it tremendously.

A Handmaid's Tale - I'm not a big novel fan, but that was the assignment for that particular month in my book club. I was surprised how much I was enraptured by this Margaret Atwood story.

Pentagon Papers - I was really ticked off with the abuses of my government.

Joy of Sex - I was 15. I don't remember. Oh, wait, I do remember. I said, "THAT can't be right, can it?" (It was.)

(And forgive me if questions #1 and #3 have already been asked of you in the past.)

I'm sure I've answered #1 before, but it's always changing, so I never mind answering it.

And now from Nik:

Cheesy cliched questions!

I like cheese.

If you were a tree, what kind would you be?

A chestnut tree. There were chestnut trees on my walk home from school, and every year in season, I'd collect chestnuts. They're smooth and beautiful, like fine wood. I'd keep them through the winter, to remind me that there would be new life. Then I'd toss them before they would go bad and do it again the next year. I should note that they were actually horse chestnuts, and therefore not edible.

If you could meet any person living or dead, who?

Thomas Jefferson, or Thomas Edison. Or maybe politician, inventor and regular raconteur Ben Franklin.

If you were a book, what would your title be?

I've ben thinking about this a lot, actually, because I signed up at The Remembering Site to write my life story. Haven't actually WRITTEN much (started three sections), but have mused on it. In 1989, I probably would have stolen "Still Crazy After all These Years". Now I really don't know yet. But I'm open to suggestion/persuasion.
Fred Hembeck:
a) got married to Lynn Moss 27 years ago today
b) is smart enough to have mentioned same in his blog today
c) was kind enough to mention me in his post yesterday even though he was
d) the subject of my teasing last year on this date over this subject
e) is someone, along with the aforementioned Lynn Moss (and the artist currently known as Julie!) who we hope to see this summer
f) has a new outlet for his musings - this week, Beatlemania...and Al Jolson?

Yes, the answer is all of the above. Congrats, you kids!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Add Some Music to Your Day

Got some new music lately. Finally listened to it the three times required by Roger's Rules of Listening to Music.

Paul Simon- Surprise. I found a surprising number of people online who indicated that they didn't like the album. I've enjoyed it thus far, especially the first song, which was so atypical Simon, probably the Brian Eno influence, that I though I had put in the wrong album. "How can you live in the Northeast? How can you live in the South? How can you build on the banks of a river When the flood water pours from the mouth?" A conversation I've had with others since the flooding on the Mississippi in the last decade.

Lesley Gore - Ever Since. Gorgeous. Great reinterpretation of "You Don't Own Me".

George Harrison. This is an album of rarities a friend sent me. My favorite tune so far is a song that starts out with My Sweet Lord musically, but lyrically is a pirate song.

Jesse James appears in both the Mark Knofler/Emmylou Harris disc, and the Springsteen disc. I found Mark and Emmylou's disc quite enjoyable.

The new Springsteen album, The Seeger Sessions, which I got from one of my sisters from Father's Day, it felt like I've know for years. It's like what Carole King once said about her early performances; she felt that she went on the stage "pre-loved", because her friend James Taylor would introduce her by asking the audience, "Do you know (these songs)? This lady wrote them!" That's how I feel about this album - loved practically before I heard a note.
Springsteen's version of "We Shall Overcome" I had already owned from this Seeger tribute compilation that I bought in 2002 at an Old Songs festival. "Overcome" and "Eyes on the Prize" were on the Seeger "We Shall Overcome" album I've owned for 40 years. "Froggie Went a-Courtin' " and "Erie Canal" I knew from my childhood - all upstate New York children of a certain age knew "from Albany to Buffalo". And the gospel and folk songs were also largely familiar.

Lefty made an album for Eddie, and sent me a copy, too. My enthusiasm practically matches Eddie's.

And speaking of Eddie - it's always about you, Eddie - he and I were the grand winners of the Blog This Pal 2nd Blogiversary Giveaway. We were also the ONLY entrants in the Blog This Pal 2nd Blogiversary Giveaway. One prize was a book called Fun with Milk and Cheese, which Dairy products with attitude is always fun. It was one of the last things I was reading when I went cold turkey on comics back in the early 1990s, so it was great to get.
Then there was the music. Gordon starts with a Star Trek cut called which you would recognize, Amok Time. Then the Beatles' Revolution. Then Ernie from Sesame Street singing "Rubber Duckie"? A brave man, that Gordon. My favorite track, though, is the next one, Harry Belafonte's Mama Look A Bobo, with the line, "Shut your mout' Go away Mama, look at bobo dey", which I hadn't heard since I was about four years old. It's a dumb song, but it brought pleasant memories. There were other good songs, too.
Now, of COURSE it would be inappropriate to ask for you folks to burn music for me. But I DID own these, and they got lost in the office move.
One was the first disc of a 2-disc Ella Fitzgerald 75th Birthday Celebration on the Decca Jazz label.
One was the first disc of the 4-disc Steve Winwood box set.
One was the soundtrack for Toy Story 2.
Now if you happen to have any of these items, and are willing to...share, please let me know.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer Solstice: Ask Roger Anything

Your Blog Should Be Blue

Your blog is a peaceful, calming force in the blogosphere.
You tend to avoid conflict - you're more likely to share than rant.
From your social causes to cute pet photos, your life is a (mostly) open book.

Song in my head: What Kind of Fool Am I.

In celebration of summer, here's your chance once again to Ask Roger Anything. And he has to answer! The answers might even be true! E-mail me or leave it in the reply space.

The other day, Chris Black asked "Are you following the World Cup?" Well, I haven't actually SEEN any of it, though I read the write-ups in the paper (and see a very occasional ESPN SportsCenter) enough to fear the Brazilians. I think it's because I don't find soccer (or futbol) to be a great TV sport; it's MUCH better live, when you can see the whole field, and the strategies the players employ. (Whereas football, American-style, is a great TV sport, because the action is more limited.)
I've also discovered that, for me, hockey is better live than on TV, pretty much for the same reason; TV hockey feels like "follow the puck." Oh, congratulations, 'Canes.

So, Roger, what new acronym do we need to adopt? IYT. The acronym already has a couple definitions, but needs another: An "Inapplicable 'You, Too' " as described in the 5/23 edition of Pearls Before Swine

It is SO true. Sunday, my wife said to two of our male neighbors, "Happy Fathers Day." They replied in unison, "You, too." Then they grinned sheepishly.

Add IYT to the lexicon!

Oh, and look at yesterday's (6/20) Pearls for wisdom about blogging.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road

You may have read this wire story about the surviving Beach Boys getting together on the roof of the Capitol Records building to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Pet Sounds album.

I thought I'd list, not so much my favorite Beach Boys songs, but the ones that have affected me the most. Truth is, I could probably pick seven songs from Pet Sounds for the Top Ten, but what fun would THAT be?

1. Sail On Sailor - from my freshman year in college; the first time I really listened to post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys.
2. God Only Knows - damn, this is so beautiful, I could practically cry.
3. Our Prayer - ditto.
4. I Get Around- the first Beach Boys song I ever owned. The instrument-only version from the box set merely enhances my enjoyment.
5. Help Me Rhonda - the BAW BAW BAW BAW version with the "Help me Rhonda, yeah" in harmony, not the other, inferior version.
6. Don't Talk - "Listen. Listen, listen, listen."
7. In My Room - beautiful, but sad.
8. 'Til I Die - beautiful, but REALLY sad. "I'm a cork on the ocean."
9. Darlin' - just because.
10. Feel Flows - from my college days, reinforced by Cameron Crowe.
11. Wouldn't It Be Nice - a specific personal reference.
12. When I Grow Up - I was a sucker for the years going by: "14, 15, 16, 17".
13. All Summer Long - from American Graffiti. Always thought the instrumental bridge was out of tune.
14. You Still Believe In Me - another Pet Sounds track.
15. Barbara Ann - great sing-a-long song.
16. Caroline, No - the single listed as by Brian Wilson.
17. Don't Worry, Baby - the other first song in my collection.
18. Be True to Your School - another song with multiple versions; I like the one without the female background singers. A JEOPARDY reference.
19. I Just Wasn't Made for These Times - sometimes, I could relate to the title.
20. Transcendental Mediation - I loved the irony: a relaxed title with fairly raucous music.
21. Break Away - it was a VERY minor hit in 1969 (#63); I didn't hear it until the mid-1970s.
22. Good Vibrations - probably would have ranked higher except that it was savagely overplayed.
23. Surf's Up - I have no idea what most of the lyrics mean, but it has that classic BB vocalese ending.
24. Let's Go Away for Awhile - instrumental from Pet Sounds.
25. Surfer Girl

And, Friends, if I were to Do It Again, under the Warmth of the Sun, I might have picked a dozen other songs and rearrange the order.

Anyway, happy 64th birthday to Brian Wilson, who, with the release of SMiLE last year and the related tour, seems to be in a very good place.
School budget vote in Albany today. Budget is $500 LESS than the contingency budget, but the contingency budget would be more restrictive. Vote YES., 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Need, feed

I've always loved the 1939 World's Fair in New York. Not that I was there; I'm not THAT old. But its impact was quite fascinating, especially as it related to what people thought the World of tomorrow would look like.

When George Orwell wrote 1984 back in 1949, I imagine it seemed that 1984 would reflect a none too distant future for this New Society to take hold. Of course, a version of Newspeak has been around ever since the first euphemism was devised.
(I think the degree to which it took hold in that title decade was epitomized by the lyrics from Tracy Chapman's 1987 Why?
Why, when there's so many of us are there people still alone?
Why are the missiles called peacekeepers, when they're aimed to kill?...
Love is hate, war is peace, no is yes,
We're all free...but, somebody's gonna have to answer, the time is coming soon.
Amidst all these questions and contradictions there're some who seek the truth.

Science fiction has long sought to reflect on the future, possibly most notably in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Prince's 1999 may have seen out of reach in 1983, or maybe it was just the apocalyptic nature of the penultimate year of the 20th Century that was so attractive to the songwriter.

So when Paul McCartney wrote, when he was a teenager, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me," I imagine it was with that time was so very, very far into the future." I'm guessing that that he couldn't envision his life nearly decades on, so he needed a somewhat campy, vaudevilian tune (perhaps the music of his father) to create an emotional distance from that far off time. (Ain't that far off anymore.) And I'm sure others have noted the irony that in his 64th year, his second wife presumably doesn't need him, won't be around to feed him. As a Beatles fan, as a Paul fan, that makes me sad. Paul as supermarket tabloid fodder: "Paul to Heather, 'Give me our baby!' " Heather's sister to her defense. Sir Paul, who turned 64 yesterday (or "Yesterday" -appropriate lyrics there), deserves better.
Johnny B with his birthday greetings, bottle of wine for Macca.
Bloggers: ever see something that just BEGS for comment, and then just forget? Last week's Supreme Court no-knock warrant ruling, which seemed terribly stupid and terribly dangerous, falls in that category. Fortunately, ME remembered.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day 2006

Lydia's illness of over 10 days has made her very mommycentric. Seems like the same thing was happening LAST Father's Day. Still, she DOES let me hang with her when Mommy's not around, when we read, play with her blocks, and eat and even change her diaper. But when I try to change her when mommy's around, she screams and thrashes about violently.

I can't help remembering (again) how I wish MY dad could have met Lydia. Interestingly, both of my sisters send me Father's Day cards. It surprises me, but maybe it's a function of me being the alpha male in the family. (Heck, except for my niece's husband of a year and a quarter, the ONLY male in the Green line.) Certainly, I seldom (or maybe never) sent THEM Mother's Day cards, but then our Mom is still around. My friend Mark called me last night (his daughter is 10) to wish me a Happy Father's Day. What really surprised me is that my friend Sarah Kim sent me a Father's Day card, handmade.

I should note that my father-in-law Richard has been great. His 70th birthday was last month, and we had a surprise birthday party for him yesterday, with his kids converging in Oneonta from Albany, Catskill, and southeast Pennsylvania, along with a few dozen of his friends and relatives. He's coming up to Albany, so he and I can go to the season opener of the New York-Penn League game Tuesday between his Oneonta Tigers and my Tri-City Valley Cats (a Houston Astros farm team). He'll feature in the Tales of Lydia a week or so hence.

Still, there's some fatigue-driven melancholy - I finally fall asleep around 4 a.m. yesterday morning, only to be awakened by my favorite daughter 30 minutes later, so even though I slept last night, I'm still running on fumes - and I've found there is only one cure for me: listening to music. Which will be a post unto itself soon. Amazon, do you still have my credit card on file? (Answer, at least at work, no, because we have a new IP address.)

But one couplet from the new Paul Simon album, seems appropriate here:
"There could never be a father
Who loves his daughter more than I love you"
Fathers of daughters everywhere, INCLUDING HERE, will claim the same.
I haven't had time to listen to this three minute audio (and I don't have sound on my computer at home, but friend Sarah recommends it for Fathers Day, and that's good enough for me.
I'm feeling for my buddy Eddie, whose father died last year just before Father's Day.
Ooh, it's Paul McCartney's 64th birthday today. I'm SURE Mr. Hembeck will have something, ESPECIALLY since I reminded him. I'll get to my thoughts, soon.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

If I Had a Billion Dollars -Three Questions

The other song playing in my head: Money Changes Everything

I was thinking about Bill Gates, the epitome of nerdy technogeek, having donated through the Gates Foundation $10 billion in 11 years, and how he's getting out of the rate race and, like Andrew Carnegie, another "richest man in the world", is dedicating the rest of his life to even more philanthropic work.

Meanwhile, the technopress has been having a field day with the "Microsoft after Gates" story. One loving story was a slide show of Microsoft's Top 10 Flops. So, the questions:

1. If you came into money, real money, maybe lottery or inheritance money, beyond taking care of the needs (and wants) of yourself, family and friends, what cause or causes would you spend the money on? There are any number of charities I'd like to give $1000 to outright, then evaluate further.

2. What WILL Microsoft look like post-Gates? To tell you how little I know about this, of the 10 flops, I remember only 2.

3. How much money would you want to have in order to say, "I'm done with working"? With a 2-year old going to college in only 16 years, and with an aging mother and an even more aging house, I'm guessing...$10 million?

Friday, June 16, 2006


OK, I'm not quite that, but I AM not what this piece would call an Early Adopter of Technological Innovations, either:
the first 2.5% of the adopters are the "innovators"
the next 13.5% of the adopters are the "early adopters"
the next 34% of the adopters are the "early majority"
the next 34% of the adopters are the "late majority"
the last 16% of the adopters are the "laggards" (or Luddite)
I'm probably "early majority" on a few things, "late majority" on most, and a "laggard" on more than a few.

This article describes "How to identify an early adopter of the Next Big Thing". This SO not me.

I remember kicking and screaming into the compact disc age. I mean, I had 1200 albums. Are they going to become obsolete? (Answer: largely.) My first CD purchases were new albums (Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits was definitely one), and lots of greatest hits (Elton John, Billy Joel for two) after friend Broome bought me the first four Beatles' albums on CD and I was unable to play them.

I also had some DVDs (for free from cereal boxes), and the machines had achieved at least a 50% penetration when I finally got a player about a year and a half ago.

I still don't own a Palm pilot (and would be afraid to do so, lest I lose it and become totally paralyzed). I'm currently without a cell phone (though that, unfortunately, will change soon), and I think Blutooth is what someone with bad dental problems suffers from. (Diffusion is the process by which a new idea or new product is accepted by the market, in case you were wondering.)

On the other hand, I never got stuck with a Betamax. I always felt sorry for Beta, which was widely considered the preferable technology, but lost out because SONY was outmaneuvered.

To my everlasting glee, I NEVER owned an eight-track. I was in someone's car listening to The Beatles Again (that was the title), and in the middle of "Rain" , a the-minute song, the machine switches tracks. "You're kidding!" I said out loud. "I will NEVER buy that technology. It's stupid!" And apparently, I was right...for once.

What got me, blogger for little over a year, when seemingly half the world has been doing it forever, thinking about this, is an article in Advertising Age this week about "The Man" (their words invading My Space is a site for Victoria's Secret is the site for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie is a too cute site for the Dodge Caliber, of course, is the site for the remake of The Omen. I may not know what to do with my three-month old MySpace space, but corporate America sure knows what to do with theirs.

(And I'm still having enough technological problems with Blogger that I cannot lift a comic strip into this post, one that says: "No matter how far technology advances, there will never be a better computer accessory than dot matrix printer paper.")
I was reading an article about net neutrality in the Wall Street Journal and was thoroughly confused. I went to the Wikipedia site and got even more confounded. Fortunately, the article in this week's Metroland, currently here, but likely in the June 15 archives after next week, explains it in a way that even I can understand it. Oh, yeah, I'm in favor of net neutrality.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Saddam, Hitler and Margaret Hamilton

One of the wonderful thngs about being from a small city is that the folks love to own you. Jamestown, NY loves Lucille Ball, a native daughter. Binghamton loves Rod Serling, where he grew up, even though he was born in Syracuse.

Albany touts award-winning writer William Kennedy, who wrote Ironweed, among many other works. Not quite at his stature (yet) is Gregory Maguire, pictured above, who has written a number of books, some for children, others for the general reader. The most famous of these is Wicked, which was turned into a Tony-award winning musical. Wicked is the story of the Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch of the West's point of view, and fairly sympathetic at that.

Gregory Maguire spoke at the Albany Public Library a couple months ago. He was very funny, engaging, witty. One of the things he discussed was the inspiration for Wicked, which was the first Gulf war in the early 1990s. He was living in Britain at the time and was reading the press reports that Saddam was as bad as Hitler. Hitler: that brought him short. For Hitler is the touchstone by which all others can be measured. (Recall, if you will, the suggestion by some that W's policies, and the public reaction, or lack, was like Hitler in 1933 - most responses were viscerally intense.)

Well, Maguire didn't want to write about Hitler anyway. He's not a historian. Besides, lots of people had already documented him. Well, who else epitomized evil nearly as well?

Why, the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz! As performed by Margaret Hamilton, she embodied intimidation - "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" - and threats of torture - "How about a little fire, Scarecrow?" - all with that hideous laugh, and of course, green makeup. [Your Kermit the Frog reference here.]

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I've always been fascinated by the American flag. It seems very...efficient. The 50 stars, the 13 stripes. When Vermont and Kentucky became the 14th and 15th states, the flag had 15 stripes, but soon, it became clear that adding a stripe with every state would become unworkable. A brief history can be found here. It's good to know that if we get a 51st state, there's already a flag designed.

But I never understood the term "red, white, and blue". Sure, it's the color of the flag, but it's also the color of the British Union Jack. Look at pictures of flags of the world,
and you notice lots of them in that basic color scheme, in places like France, and our good friend, Cuba, not to mention Chile, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Norway, and, of course, Liberia.

Anyway, happy Flag Day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Confessions of a Listy

OK, I admit it: once upon a time, I actually got excited when some magazine or newspaper would put out a list of the best of something. Rolling Stone magazine put out far more lists than this article would suggest. There were earlier lists of greatest albums and songs, I'm certain. At some point in the mid-1990s, I know there was a list of greatest albums of the 1980s. I remember because I owned 9 of the top 10, and I received the 10th, Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights (#9) for my subsequent birthday. But the overkill in recent years has diminished the thrill.

Likewise, when the AFI came out with 100 years, 100 movies (1998) or 100 years, 100 legends (1999), I was interested, but when they went after laughs (2000), thrills (2001), passions (2002), heroes & villains (2003), etc., the formula started to wear on me. The one exception was the movie quotes in 2005, only because they have so influenced the language. (The whole AFI list of nominated films and winners can be found here.) There's a new one tomorrow night on CBS, "100 years, 100 cheers". Eh. Maybe I'll record it to watch later in the summer when even JEOPARDY! is in reruns. BTW, "Due to licensing restrictions, the telecasts of the AFI 100...100 Series are not available for distribution or purchase on DVD or VHS." In case you were looking.

Entertainment Weekly came out with the 25 most controversial films last week. I saw the cover on the floor and tried to guess some of the choices. Interestingly, the first two I thought of were "Last": "Last Temptation of Christ" and "Last Tango in Paris", both of which were on the list, and neither of which I have seen. My third was "The Life of Brian", which I saw, but which was not on the list.
The full list, with the few I've seen in italics:
1. The Passion of the Christ (2004) - directed by Mel Gibson
2. A Clockwork Orange (1971) - directed by Stanley Kubrick
3. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) - directed by Michael Moore
4. Deep Throat (1972) - directed by Gerard Damiano
5. JFK (1991) - directed by Oliver Stone
6. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - directed by Martin Scorsese
7. The Birth of a Nation (1915) - directed by D.W. Griffith
8. Natural Born Killers (1994) - directed by Oliver Stone
9. Last Tango in Paris (1956) - directed by Elia Kazan
10. Baby Doll (1956) - directed by Elia Kazan
11. The Message (1977) - directed by Moustapha Akkad
12. The Deer Hunter (1978) - directed by Michael Cimino
13. The da Vinci Code (2006) - directed by Ron Howard
14. The Warriors (1979) -directed by Walter Hill
15. Triumph of the Will (1935) - directed by Leni Riefenstahl
16. United 93- directed by Paul Greengrass
17. Freaks (1932) - directed by Tod Browning
18. I Am Curious (Yellow) (1969) - directed by Vilgot Sjoman
19. Basic Instinct (1992) - directed by Paul Verhoeven
20. Cannibal Holocaust (1985) - directed by Ruggero Deodato
21. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - directed by Arthur Penn
22. Do The Right Thing (1989) - directed by Spike Lee
23. Kids (1995) - directed by Larry Clark
24. Caligula (1980) - directed by Tinto Brass
25. Aladdin (1992) - directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
I was glad to see this list, if only because it reminded me of films that had slipped my mind (Freaks, The Message), or that I did not know about at all (Baby Doll, Cannibal Holocaust).

Finally, I happen to know, by heart, the list of the greatest home run hitters in Major League Baseball (numbers as of end of Sunday):
Henry Aaron 755
Barry Bonds 716, and counting (OK, kvetch because I know you will)
George Herman Ruth 714
Willie Mays 660
Sammy Sosa (juiced?) 588
Frank Robinson 586
Mark McGwire 583 (probably juiced)
Harmon Killebrew 573
Raphael Palmiero 569 (caught being juiced)
Reggie Jackson 563
Mike Schmidt 548
Ken Griffey, Jr. 547, and counting
Bonds and McGwire were supposedly mortal locks to pass Aaron, as was Griffey, before he started getting hurt. The steroid controversy has diminished the home run, but I'm convinced it has also made certain players more vulnerable to injury, notably McGwire. (I've never heard allegations about Griffey, though.) And at the rate he's been hitting homers this season, Bonds will never pass Hammerin' Hank, either, which is all right by me.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What Time of Day Am I?

You Are Sunrise

You enjoy living a slow, fulfilling life. You enjoy living every moment, no matter how ordinary.
You are a person of reflection and meditation. You start and end every day by looking inward.
Caring and giving, you enjoy making people happy. You're often cooking for friends or buying them gifts.
All in all, you know how to love life for what it is - not for how it should be.

I'm sunrise? I'm exhausted at sunrise!
From a school faculty newsletter:
"Next Time, Try a Ruler: The eight, long awaited replacement pillars, for Schenectady's Historic City Hall's clock tower, finally arrived. They were two feet too short. Dah! (Gazette, 5/11/06)"
"Dah"?! "Duh!", maybe, or "D'oh" , but "Dah"?
On-Demand News Videos on AOL:
"Naked Protesters Take to the Streets
Dozens of bicyclists rode nude through downtown Mexico City to demand respect from motorists. (June 10)"
From an AP feed, and not as provocative as you might think (or hope).
Peter Schaap of ESPN narrated a serious report yesterday for ABC News on racism in soccer, with players from Africa playing for European teams being taunted even by their own fans. Anchor David Muir's encapsulation: "The dark side of the world sport," which, unfortunately I thought was, unintentionally, quite funny.
Johnny B and Mike Sterling let us know that Jaxon, the legendary underground comic book artist whose work I've enjoyed, died recently.
Go read this post about blogging frequency that ADD posted.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Conventional Blogging

When I first starting blogging a little more than a year ago, I used to talk about how the blogging process had affected me, pretty much once a month. Little did I know then, as I know now, that blogging about blogging is considered declasse. So I stopped. Until now.

I can't help it. When my wife got home after school Friday, I had had a bit of an enervating day with Lydia. So I did what I seldom do anymore, since we've had the DVR; I channel-surfed. When I hit C-SPAN 2, which was listed as the Senate, I found myself at the "First Year of the YearlyKos convention, which brings together bloggers and elected officials", according to the overlay, held in Las Vegas, NV. Moreover, it was being shown LIVE.
My comments are impressions of the event, as I wasn't taking copious notes; since C-SPAN is forever rerunning stuff, you might be able to catch it yourself sometime.

As you might be able to tell from the name, four of the five panelists were from the Daily Kos, including the Kos himself, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. The fifth was from My DD [direct democracy].com.

I came in at the very end of the prepared remarks, but in time for the extensive Q&A. The Daily Kos is trying to figure out a culture code of civility. That said, they would like to concentrate on the writing, not on bylaws.

A great deal of the discussion was how to take a lurker to the Daily Kos, e.g., and turn that person into a political activist. At least one panelist noted that of any 100 people who go to the site, 10 will post, and one will do the diary. This has been a constant number over the last few years. Moreover, as Markos noted, the the "old-timers", who might have been on the site for a year, have always complained about the newbies. The site was compared to a city, where some people leave, sometimes for greater glory, and others come on board.

The conversation about keeping upwith one'ss reading wassuccinctlyy phrased: "How can anybody read all that stuff?" This lead to conversations about "high-impact diaries" and technologies that I was not quite following.

There was an extensive discussion about having a pseudonym online. A Daily Kos writer referred to as Hunter, addressed this. He believes some people operate with the "politics of division," and he was quite perturbed about it. Having a viewpoint that is outside of the mainstream, or even having a point of view at all can lead to nasty recriminations, with people calling employers of bloggers, etc., etc.

So as a blogger who uses his own name, how do I feel about that? Well, let me put it this way: if I had it to do over again, I might have done it differently. But not for my sake. I remember this former fellow choir member of mine named Holly, who, on her 50th birthday, went out and bought the car she really wanted. The reality is that I probably have fewer years in my future than in my past, so I don't really care for myself if I might tick someone off. Conversely, I do care about the well-being of my wife and daughter, so it's a tricky wicket.

Some bloggers who use their own names write terribly specific things in their posts: "the family and I will be in Milwaukee all next week," which presumably means that their house in Appleton is vulnerable. I never put out that I am away, only that I've been away, the credo of another named blogger I know.

Then there's the case of GayProf. GayProf is a gay, Latino history professor in a college or university in Texas. ("A gay, Latino history professor in Texas" - can there be more than one, or is his/my Longhorn bias showing?) Recently, a couple of his colleagues found his site. Apparently, as a result, he's been forthcoming enough to actually put his picture on his site, which I stole for this in-joke post.

My point is that I've come down on the side of the Popeye imperative: "I yam what I yam." And I hope it works out.
A forthcoming show of Alpaca Owners and Breeders is taking place in August. It struck me as funny, yet somehow appropriate that a National Fleece Show was taking place in Las Vegas, a place where, allegedly, people are being fleeced much of the time.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Summer Questions

Something that has been brought home to me often in the past few years is that people who don't work in the summer look at summer differently than others. Teachers, for instance. My wife is one, and she's forever using terms such as "Just three more months until the end of the semester", "The semester will be over in two months".

Whereas, I don't think that way at all. Summer is just part of that great meteorological continuum , the part where we DON'T have to wear ties at work unless some mucky muck is coming around. (Why we have to wear them the rest of the year, given the fact that we don't see the general public, is a mystery to me. At the new place, it's EXTREMELY rare, unlike before in our downtown offices, for someone to wander in - one needs a swiper card or to be buzzed in to get on our floor.)

Still, one does make summer plans. Our family is hoping to rendezvous with my family in Charlotte and my sister in San Diego in our hometown of Binghamton next month.

So, please, if you would, share with me your answers to these three solstice questions:

1. What movies/TV shows do you want to see this summer? I want to see the Superman Returns film, The Closer TV show and not much else.

2. What do you want to read and/or write? I'm looking to get rid of some aging periodicals. There's a couple autobio pieces I want to work on.

3. Where would you like to go this summer? Besides my hometown - possibly THRICE, for a party, a family reunion and my 35th high school reunion - actually I want to stay in town and see lots of free live music, especially The Turtles and John Hiatt.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Roger's Dozen Things - 6/9/06

These are twelve things that have caught my attention this week:

1. Lydia's illness. Generally speaking, she a very charming child, even when under the weather. But this recent pink eye/cold/fever/cough/runny nose/itchiness/insomnia thing made her uncharacteristically cranky.

Meanwhile, I've missed work Friday, Monday, came in late on Tuesday and Wednesday, when I was supposed to be training our new interns. Fortunately, she's somewhat better now, though she still has a cough which precludes me from sleeping through the night. Edit, 9:05 a.m. Nope, I'm home with her again.

2. There was a wonderful story about DMC of Run DMC, which featured Sarah McLachlan, on the CBS Sunday Morning this past week, 'I Am Who I Am': Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels And His Long Journey To Self-Awareness. The print version is here, but it doesn't do the story justice. When my wife watched it, she got teary-eyed, and I seemed to have gotten something stuck in my eye... (Imagine pictures of Darryl and Sarah; the Blogger curse strikes again.)

3. I finally got to watch the CMT special on Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger sessions. I loved the joy of the music making process. He seemed to, in some cases, take a familiar song, e.g., "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep" and sing what might otherwise have been the tenor part in traditional four-part harmony, and make it the melody line. Or so it seems to me. (Think Simon & Garfunkel's The Boxer- compare what Paul and Art sing on the chorus.) I've GOT to get that album. And Lefty went to see him!

4. TV shows with a strong lead character. Commander in Chief- yeah, the three producers in one season really screwed it up - and the last episode EVER is this Wednesday, so I'm looking to watch something new to watch besides JEOPARDY and the news this summer. I'm going to try The Closer with Kyra Sedgwick on TNT. A marathon session of last season will be on TNT Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EDT), and then the Season 2 opener will be on Monday at 9 p.m.

5. The last The Office - yeah, it was three weeks ago, but I just saw it! I loved Michael's ménage, and especially loved the ending. Also saw the last Scrubs, and the last bit threw me a curve.

6. Mowing the lawn: actually, I don't care - I'd just as soon hire goats - but my wife does, and with all the rain, it's been difficult to get to it. A hand mower becomes useless once the grass hits a certain height, so I got to it on Tuesday just in time. It usually takes less than a half hour, but this time it took over an hour.

7. I've been thinking about songs for Kelly's Songs of Summer Mixed CD exchange, assuming she accepts me. There are LOTS of songs, but I'm TRYING not to be too clichéd. Damn, and I really LOVE Summer in the City by the Lovin' Spoonful. I used to play the bass line on the piano when I was a kid.

8. I enjoyed the songwriters post that Tosy put up this week.

9. Julie Hembeck draws Fred Hembeck. A great likeness, Julie.

10. Things in the news: That idiot Ann Coulter. Did I mention the word idiot?

There's also a local murder story in which a young man is accused of killing his father and brutalizing his mother; you simply cannot live around here and NOT know about it. His attorney's request for a change of venue seems understandable, given this.

11. "Doc" Rivett, who I saw just last month at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Albany Public Library. He was retiring as president, and he took his sweet time starting the meeting, I thought. He fell that very day, May 18, was admitted to the hospital, and died Tuesday. (Did he fall BEFORE the meeting?) Now I feel especially badly, over his passing, but also for being so impatient with an 87-year old guy.

Oh, I told my wife Billy Preston had died. She thought I said Billy Crystal. It lead to a very weird conversation, especially the bottom line, which was that she didn't know who Billy Preston was. Ah, these young people.

12. Got new music from Lefty, which I'm enjoying. He does this Top 10 every week, which I won't be doing, but thanks, guy, for the inspiration.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Reforming "reform"

Here's my weird thought de jour: I don't know what the word "reform" means.

I looked it up in a dictionary, and it says: "Reform \Re*form"\, v. i. To return to a good state"

So when I read about, say, immigration "reform", with contradictory senses of what "good" is - lock the borders! show compassion! - the term becomes nearly meaningless to me.

A few weeks ago, the French labor unions, emboldened by massive turnout of demonstrators on the streets of several cities, demanded that the government withdraw its contentious labor reform law. In this case, one COULD suggest the "reform" was trying bring back prosperity, but the young adults who would be subject to firing certainly didn't see it that way.

"The Senate's idea of lobbying reform is no substantive reform at all."

"Raise judges' pay: They have gone years without an increase, and the system needs reform"

Long Term Care Reform Committee of the New York State Bar Association: "Poor people can always get care; rich people can afford it. It's the middle class that's getting squeezed," he warns.

"The United States stood nearly alone" last month "as it voted against the creation of a new U.N. Human Rights Council, saying the reform did not go far enough to keep abusers off the panel."

"Consensus elusive in talks: Labor, business leaders differ on ways to reform workers' compensation"

"Faster work sought on voting reform: U.S. Department of Justice turns up heat on state to meet federal election guidelines"

"PSC praises price reform: Panel says deregulation helps energy consumers, but assemblyman assails report"

In each case, one side will tout action as progress, while the others will bewail as punitive.

I think again of the word re-form, to form again. I guess my point is that the things lifted as reform may be re-form, i.e., change, but it is not necessarily better. So I vow not to use the word loosely. I wish others, especially politicians, would choose to do the same.

NCLB - perhaps the antithesis of reform.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

(Mostly) Classical music meme

I got this from Tosy and Cosh some time ago, but never was all that hot on classical music terminology.

One is supposed to name our favorite incarnations of various musical forms. If I showed you all of the blanks, it would outnumber the answers. So I won't.

Symphony: Gee, I don't know. Is there just one? Beethoven's Fifth, first movement, Beethoven's Ninth, second movement (the theme song to the NBC News with Huntley and Brinkley). A number of Mozart symphonies, 29, 35, 40. Dvorak's Ninth. OK, I'll pick that one -"New World".

Tone Poem, or other non-symphony long-form orchestral work: Scheherazade, by Rimsky-Korsakov. (I stole the answer, because I had no idea what a tone poem was and I DO like that piece.)

Piano concerto: Something by Mozart

Piano sonata: Raindrop by Chopin

Other chamber music: The Pachelbel Canon (so it's so obvious - sue me)

Latin choral work (mass, requiem, Stabat Mater, etc.): OK, it's cliche, but it's the Mozart Requiem. Hey, it's the 250th anniversary of his birth. I LIKE Requiems.

Classical work composed after 1950: Te Deum by Arvo Part

Movie Score: Last Exit to Brooklyn by Mark Knopfler

TV theme: most of the Mike Post oeuvre- Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Rockford Files, NYPD Blue. Also, Taxi, the Fugitive, and Hawaii 5-0, especially the percussion in the beginning.

Song, Rock: If I had to pick ONE right this minute, It might be "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo" by Johnny Winter And.

Song, blues: "Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On". Can't remember who did it.

Song, country: "Stand By Your Man" by Lyle Lovett.

Song, other: "Waters of Babylon" by Don McLean

Guitar or lute, classical: There's a Doors' song "Spanish Caravan" from the "Waiting for the Sun" album, which is based on some classical guitar piece.

Guitar, rock, blues, country or other: the "Blue Moon" section of "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream.

Goofy novelty song: "In the Mood" by Henhouse Five Plus Too.

I knew Billy Preston was sick, but it still his passing yesterday made me sad. I remember hearing that first Apple album of his when I went to visit my friend Steve in Poughkeepsie, shortly after my high school girlfriend broke up with me. I especially loved the first song, "Do What You Want To (I Will Love You Anyway)".
One of my favorite Billy Preston riffs was the organ on "I Got the Blues" from the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers album, which has been playing in my head. Although best known for playing with the Beatles, and for solo John, George and Ringo discs, he played on several Stones albums as well. And of course, he had his own hits.
Only recently did I learn that he co-wrote "You Are So Beautiful", the big Joe Cocker smash.

Johnny B on Billy P.
Again, I was able to get the Billy Preston pic (from the Beatles Again site), but not any of the dozen graphics I tried for the main part. Blogger, thy name is maddening.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Gypsy moths

Our local newspaper, the Times Union, has recently started this Reader Network, abbreviated TURN. The premise:
We want to get feedback from real people in real time and to involve readers in our coverage. Once you register to join the Reader Network, Times Union reporters and editors will send you periodic (not more than once a week) e-mails asking for your input on a variety of subjects.

We may ask general questions like "How are we doing?" or more specific ones like "We are writing a story about people who collect stamps. Do you know someone we should contact?" or "The President signed new tax legislation today. How will the changes affect you?"

I don't know why I signed up - I'm shy, retiring, and have no opinions on anything, as you well know - but sign up I did. So the second thing they send out by e-mail (don't remember the first) was to ask about how gypsy moths were affecting our lives. It so happened that I did have a little tale to tell.

In this past Sunday's paper, there's an article "Small size, big appetite and bad manners." There was a sidebar piece, "Bugged by caterpillars," with four little stories. Mine is the fourth:

"We were away in Oneonta this past weekend. Just as we were pulling out of our parking space, a gypsy moth caterpillar landed on the windshield, falling from a tree. We figured it would fly off when we need the speed limit on I-88, but it tenaciously hung on. Then I took water from a bottle, thinking to wash the ugly bugger away - no good. Only an increase in speed finally dislodged the creature."

I went to church yesterday, and was surprised the number of people who read the Sunday morning paper before church, or at least get to page A-8.
Blogger was working well enough to download that lovely picture above yesterday, but then nothing else, despite numerous attempts. This morning, I was able to download the picture below:

Then I decided it was too large and fuzzy, so I attempted to downloaded again in a smaller version. NG - frustrating. It's from the Library of Congress, BTW.
hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia - what a great word! I wonder if those national spelling bee kids could spell it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Internet Santa Claus and other things

When I hit my first blogiversary last month someone suggested that I visit "everyone else's blog like some sort of internet Santa Claus." I thought that was very funny. But yesterday, I felt that it was probably also correct.

Gay Prof was stymied trying to post pictures on Blogger. I wrote: "I've been having the same problem, off and on, with Blogger with stuff from the Internet. 9 out 10 times, it'll say that it's downloaded, then the image doesn't really load. I've had more success downloading from my computer, so I've been saving the image I find on the Internet to the computer, THEN downloading from the computer. Try that." Of course, now, that isn't working, either, as evidenced by a lack of a graphic on THIS post. Anyone else having that problem with Blogger recently? More to the point, does anyone have a SOLUTION, short of getting rid of Blogger?

Someone else had a link to a bad e-mail address, which I noted. THAT was fixable.

When I'm doing research, as librarian, and I find typos on webpages, especially substantive ones, I let them know, because, if the information appears otherwise credible, that typo will make it appear to others that it is not a reliable source.
It's time for the men's professional basketball and hockey finals , with me without a real rooting interest since the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL were eliminated in the last round; the NBA's LA Clippers (ne the Buffalo Braves) went down a couple rounds ago in their playoff. So who to support? Absent anything else, I tend to root for the team from the East. Beyond that, though, the NHL Carolina Hurricanes play in the state my mom and one of my sisters live in, North Carolina; they're playing the Edmonton Oilers. Meanwhile, NBA Miami Heat have coach Pat Riley. Though I wasn't a big Lakers fan, even when he coached them, he's from Schenectady, near Albany, and he lost his mom recently, so I'll go with the team of Shaq and the wonderfully named Dwyane Wade against the Dallas Mavericks.
Lydia had pink eye Friday and I stayed home with her. She woke up Saturday very warm to the touch (temperature over 101), and I stayed home with her much of the day; it finally stopped raining, and we finally went out around 6 pm. Carol stayed with her much of yesterday. Today, it'll be my turn again. Thus, I post now or not at all today.
Just this morning, I found my copies of Bob Dylan's Tarantula and also Rod McKuen's Listen to the Warm. They were given to me as going to college presents by friends of my parents who were also friends of mine in August 1971. I STILL haven't gotten through either one.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mark of the Beast

I received this e-mail a couple months ago: "Well everyone is emailing around about the time tonight 1:02.3 on 4/05/06(123456) But what about June 6th 2006 it will be 6/06/06 (666) Yikes!"

I'm a Christian, but I just don't get the obsession of certain people trying to decipher Revelation in the manner they do. Is The UPC Code The Forerunner Of The "Mark of the Beast"? Well, no, the article says, but computer chips are.

Haters of our 40th President pointed out that Ronald Wilson Reagan had six letters in his name. No, he PROBABLY wasn't the Antichrist.

I've glanced at this site and this site and this one, but after deep contemplation, I have decided NOT to hide under my bed the day after tomorrow. Even though the new Omen movie opens on that day.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Love and Marriage: Three Questions

This being June, the traditional month for weddings (though I've never been married in June), I thought I'd ask some questions about matrimony.

I was very interested in the post from Gay Prof last month about gay marriage. One of the things he wrote: "What concerns me is that the discussion of same-sex marriage is largely being shaped without our input."

My heterocentric (is that the word I want?) self was a bit surprised to read that. People I know, including a member of a lesbian couple who is at the heart of a legal challenge by 44 couples suing for equal protection under the law. Elissa (in the picture on the left with partner Lynne) works for a local library.

Yet, I do recognize that well-meaning people DO assume what is best for others, not understanding how patronizing it can be. (I suspect men do this to women more than occasionally, e.g.)

So, I'm really curious:

1. To you, the idea of gay marriage is:
a) an anathema to all that is good and holy
b) a plot by breeders to make gays "be like them"
c) going too far, but those domestic partner arrangements are good enough
d) an idea whose time has come
e) irrelevant, because marriage is just a statist construct anyway

I choose d.

2. If gay marriage is allowed, how, if at all, will it affect heterosexual marriage? The suggestion that gay marriage will somehow threaten to destroy "the family" as we know it mystifies me. I must be rather thick, because I just don't get it.

3. A local story that has caught my interest is this one: Empire Blue Cross insurance policy covers the domestic partner of a same-sex couple but not an opposite-sex couple. The complainant notes: "Empire's own standards for domestic partner requirements -- as posted on the company's Web site -- were the same for opposite-sex or same-sex couples. He said this policy was discrimination." Presumably, Empire's rationale is that opposite-sex couples could, if they chose to, get married, while same-sex couples don't yet have that legal right.

How do you feel about this case? Does giving domestic partner insurance to opposite sex partners threaten marriage? I'm ambivalent, for I see Empire's point, yet, based on the application of law, I think they're wrong legally. Moreover, I'm in favor of getting closer to a universal health plan, and domestic partnerships, for either gay or straight couples, works in that direction.

BONUS: What makes a good marriage? And/Or: What makes a marriage work?

My answer: Compromise, but not on core values. That you share those core values.

Please feel free to answer these questions in the appropriate place. If you'd like, note your orientation and marital status (or would-be marital status).

Friday, June 02, 2006

Albany Was Perfect

The great thing about living in Albany, NY has been that, geographically and meteorologically, it's as close to perfect. Really.

We don't get a lot of earthquakes, as they do in California. I've felt only two in New York in my life, both 5.1 with the epicenter far north of here, in 1983 and 2002. (See page 29 of the PDF.)

We can get tornados, but we're not in the alley that lies in Midwest.

We're not in the desert Southwest, where brushfires threaten homes.

We're not along the Mississippi River's flood plain, which devastated homes in the 1990s, although there can be localized flooding.

While we had 26 inches of snow in a March 1993 storm (and more in a March 1888 event, but I wasn't around then), a lot of the snowstorms tends to go off the coast in recent years. The lake effect snow that sometimes hits the area from Buffalo to Syracuse, and especially north of Syracuse, usually doesn't reach this far east.

And we're not in the Gulf Coast or the southeast Atlantic Coast, where hurricanes are likely to strike.

All those conversations about whether to rebuild, from SF in 1906 to NO in 2005, just haven't applied.

So it was disappointing to learn that in the 2006 hurricane season, which officially started yesterday, not only is likely to be as intense as the 2005 season, but also that it is much more likely to strike the Northeast. Now I'm 150 miles from NYC, so it probably won't hit us directly, as it might in Long Island (where the major insurers are REFUSING to offer any more flood insurance). I remember, though how a major storm (I'm thinking Andrew in 1992, though it may have been Hugo in 1989) can really pack a punch, even inland.

Actually, the strangest weather pattern I ever experienced in Albany is something called a derecho. No, I'd never heard of it before either. On July 15, 1995, I was awakened by a wind that felt as though it would shatter the glass of my bedroom window. It passed through, but not before knocking down a bunch of trees in nearby Washington Park. Elsewhere, it toppled a tree that nearly killed a member of the church I then attended.

Will our good weather pattern hold, or will our luck run out? In which case, I'll have to move to Albany,...Oregon or somewhere.
We did get caught in a storm yesterday after work in the Home Depot parking lot. It was brief (30 minutes) but intense, with nickel-size hail, occasional downpours, lots of lightning and the loudest thunder I can recall. We waited it out in the car.
That's at least 10 of the last 13 days where it has rained in Albany.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Movie: Akeelah and the Bee

Carol and I had the chance to go to the movies this past weekend for the first time since Valentine's Day, when we saw that romantic comedy, Capote. I wanted to see Thank You for Smoking, which gotten very good reviews, including from near-twin Gordon over a month ago. She wanted to see Akeelah and the Bee. Her logic was sound. Even though Smoking came out earlier, Akeelah is showing only twice a day, whereas Smoking is still going four times daily.

This is a sports movie. By that, I mean there are conventions that the movie inevitably takes, such as the "big game" at the end. Yet I ended up being quite taken by the story. A lot of that I'd credit the young actress Keke Palmer, who's so convincing you'd think this was a documentary rather than a drama. Angela Bassett, as her mother and especially, Laurence Fishburne as her coach were particularly effective, though one scene with pupil and coach got dangerously close to treacle. Fishburne also served as one of the producers.

Very effective as the father of Akeelah's chief competitor was Tzi Ma, who you might have seen on "Commander in Chief" or "24" this past season, although I wondered about the stereotype of the very competitive Asian kid.

I was briefly taken out of the movie when I saw Eddie Steeples as a street thug. It's not his fault that Carol and I looked at each other and thought " 'Crabman' from 'My Name Is Earl'!"

What is it about the spelling bee that has made it so compelling recently? First, there was the 2002 documentary Spellbound, not to be confused with the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. then there was last year's Bee Season. On Broadway, the Tony Award-winning production is playing in Schenectady (in this metro area) next spring.

Early in the movie, Akeelah is watching the National Spelling Bee finals on ESPN. This year, tonight in fact, the semifinals are on on ESPN (noon-3pm, EDT), but the finals will be live on ABC (8-10 pm, EDT). We have a rooting interest, a girl from one of the school district in which Carol teaches

On the way home from the film, we stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts less than a block from the theater to share one of those cold drinks. Independently, both of us thought that one of the young women behind the counter looked very much like a young Angela Bassett! We didn't say anything until we left, and we wondered if we had been projecting this from seeing the film, but it's unlikely that both of us would generate the same vision. I went in again yesterday, and she still looks like Bassett. Strange.