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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Depressing Songs QUESTION

E-mail from a friend:

So there is this book called "I hate myself and want to die, the 52 most depressing songs you've ever heard" by Tom Reynolds

it is divided into chapters

1. I was a teenage car crash
2. I hate myself and want to die
3. I'm trying to be profound and touching but really suck at it
4. If I sing about drugs, people will take me seriously
5. She hates me, I hate her
6. Horrifying remakes of already depressing songs
7. I'm telling a story nobody wants to hear
8. I had no idea that song was so morbid
9. I mope, therefore I am
10.Perfect storms
Honourable Mentions

So I sat around in the Saratoga Last Vestige which is as close to High Fidelity as one is apt to get and 4 of us threw around songs and managed to guess over 20 of these songs and propose many others.

SOOO for the first thing I am making a set of CDs with the 52 most depressing songs of the book in order (from most depressing to the 52nd most depressing)

AND we are creating our own lists of 52 most depressing songs and combining them to make a second set of cds. And you are obviously the best qualified person I know to contribute to this endeavor.
[Oh, the PRESSURE!] so please make a list. If you include any songs from the book I will let you know and you can submit another or submit 75 songs in order and i will just take the first 52 that qualify.

The book starts in the late 50s and goes to the present. My list is only going to go to the end of the 20th century unless i decide to include "White Flag" by Dido (I know I did horrible unforgivable things to you and that you can't possibly ever want to think of me again that is why I have decided to stalk you for the rest of your life and make you miserable all in the name of this perverted love I think I have for you).

OH and including a pithy explanation as to why you are including the song such as I just gave you above on white flag is appreciated but not required.

With an invitation like THAT how could I refuse?

So, off the top of my head I provided:

My Baby's the Star of a Driver's Ed Movie-Blotto (1) - "her underwear was clean"
Leader of the Pack-Melissa Ethridge (1, 6) - this one you certainly know, if not by this artist
The Needle and the damage done-Neil Young (4) -a paean to his dead friend
Abraham, Martin and John/What The world needs Now-Tom Clay (6,7)
Timothy-the Buoys (7,8) - cannibalism
1941 Mining Disaster-Bee Gees (3,7) - self-explanatory
Ebony Eyes-Everly Brothers (plane crash - yet hokey) - why is the plane late? maybe it left late. Can everyone waiting for the flight please report to the chapel?
People Who Died-Jim Carroll Band (3)- "they were all my friends and they died"; a Q104 staple
Tears in Heaven-Eric Clapton (7) death of his son
Strange Fruit-Cassandra Wilson (7) lynchings of black people; a Billie holiday song
I Am Rock, Richard Cory, Sound of Silence-Simon & Garfunkel; "I have my books and my poetry to protect me"; suicide; "hello darkness, my old friend"
The Mercy Seat-Johnny Cash death row
- indeed several songs from Folsom Prison - "shot a man in Reno just to watch him die"
to Sting's I Hung My Head - another shooting, followed by regret
Biko--Peter Gabriel (7) - death of anti-apartheid leader in South Africa

But I know there's a lot more, so I'll make you a deal. Send at least one song, preferably with a brief description, and I'll make you copies (if you want) of whatever uplifting music I receive from this project.
And speaking of free music, but not nearly so depressing, I still have a couple copies of my award-winning, Lefty Brown's Mixed Bag V disc exchange entry, Flick Tunes. Send me an address and I'll send you some tunes.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Roger (Finally) Answers Your Question, Greg


I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I have a question about black people. As a foolish white person, I have noticed a certain comraderie that black people share even when they don't know each other. This is something I have rarely seen among us whiteys. I wonder if you notice this too, and if you have any explanation why it's a phenomenon. It's very interesting.

You can ignore me if I'm just stereotyping and need to get my head out of my butt.


Sir? SIR? Really! We've exchanged music. I know I'm about two decades your senior, but still...

You my have heard of a term called "white skin privilege". (I'd look up a reference but I don't have Internet access - see below). Whether you do or don't, and I'll contend that there is something to it, the greeting you see, I suspect, is an acknowledgement of a people looking after their own. Beyond that, there was the fact that there was the common experience. When Nat Cole had his short-lived TV show in the mid-1950s, I will practically will guarantee that 90% of the black people were watching (and obviously, not enough of the white people); ditto with I Spy or other shows with black stars, when that was extremely rare.

You don't see that many white people doing the head nod with unfamiliars because the white male system is still the dominant culture, even as it becomes less so, statistically, in this country. But it's interesting that you ask about it these days, because I see it far less often than I used to, when I was in my teens and twenties. There was a sense of solidarity in the common struggle, not just for justice, but occasionally for survival. Maybe it's because the racial dynamic has changed in the country. So I'm going to assume the correctness of the premise of your question, as far as it goes, Greg. But I don't think it's just a "black" thing. I think it's an "other" thing.

I have seen the nod with south Asians who don't know each other, but feel - I surmise, since I didn't ask them - that shared experience of feeling somewhat like the outsider.

When I was going to college in the 1970s, all the long-haired hippie freaks gave the head nod. They surmised, probably correctly, early on, that the values and experiences of those other people were not dissimilar to their own. (Later, though, when hair was not such a sign of rebellion, that assumption went right out the window.)

I find that I get it with bicycle riders, an "us against the motorists" salute.

Find a room of one businesswoman and a dozen or more businessmen. Another businesswoman enters the room, and more often than not I've seen it. The look. The "I'm not alone here" look, the "you may have some idea what I've experienced" look.

I got on a bus this year with a bunch of teenage, mostly black kids getting out of school, who were, to be generous, rather boisterous. Immediately, a middle-aged white woman and I caught each other's eye, and in fact, ended up sitting together in our little cocoon from youth. We were surely The Others in this case.
I didn't plan to stretch the question-answering for three days, but I've been having technical difficulties with my computer at home. I try to get on the Internet; it doesn't work; I call Time Warner Cable and a technician puts me through all sorts of exercises with the computer, the end result of which being Internet connectivity. For about ten minutes. I did this exercise thrice on Tuesday night, and once on Wednesday night. A techie is coming to my house today. Between 12:30 and 2:30, smack dab in the middle of the day.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Roger (Finally) Answers Your Questions, Tosy

1. What is your biggest fear for your daughter?
That she'll become moody and cynical like her father.

2. What about your daughter are you most proud of?
Funny, I don't think of Lydia in terms of pride. Joy, yes.
I mean I'm happy that she's pleasant, often polite, often helpful, often using the potty. I know I'm thrilled that when we read this Barney story about being polite and Barney and Baby Bop are having peanut butter sandwiches, she says, "I can't eat that, I'm allergic." I'm pleased that she knows her parents' names, but doesn't refer to us by them anymore. (And if she does when she's 15, I'll take a page from the comic strip Zits and start calling her by one of the cutesy names I call her now.)
I think I'm unreasonably influenced by some recent report that suggests that a parent oughtn't to praise the child for the things that she is naturally (e.g., beautiful), but for the effort she makes, such as setting the table (quite accurately, and often without being asked), or remembering that a particular item that Carol bought from the store goes into a particular place in the medicine cabinet without prompting, even when the packaging is different. She's extremely observant, which of course cuts both ways.

3. What work of art (book, movie, whatever) are you the most invested in? Must read any article about it, have thought about it far too much, love to discuss it whenever an opportunity arises, etc.
I don't think I'm that invested these days in any one thing. Certainly, I'll read about the Beatles oeuvre, but not a particular album. Book? The Bible, I suppose, but that's so broad, and hardly exhaustive, since there are so many (sometimes contradictory) pieces about it. Or It. Movie? Maybe Annie Hall, but I wouldn't describe it as obsessive. My feeling about the movie may be, but not the need to read everything about it.
There was a time, though, I probably read everything about Sgt. Pepper. And I would get into heated debates at the time over Hearts and Bones with people who though that Paul Simon was a @#$%^&*! for removing Artie from the recording and me defending his artistic choice.

4. Name the saddest and most joyful pieces of music you can think of.
Sad depends on the mood. "Gone Away" by Roberta Flack for broken romance, e.g.
The In Memoriam music on ABC News This week, which is just a slower variation of the regular theme, where they scroll the Iraq and Afghanistan war dead US soldiers and Marines, always makes me a bit melancholy.
The Barber Adagio, especially at approximately 6 minutes into an 8-minute rendition; my late friend Donna George gave me a whole album of Barber adagios, so I'm always reminded of her.
But I guess I'll pick the adagio by Albinoni. There was this performance of it by Leo Mahigian on the violin and his son Peter on the organ. It was in the same program during which my church choir performed the Mozart Requiem. Leo's wife Arlene was a member of the choir. She became a very good friend to me, sort of a surrogate mother. However, she was too sick from cancer to sing, though she was at the performance in a wheelchair. Three weeks later, she died; I saw her the day before, and she squeezed my hand to let me know she still recognized me. There was an audiotape of the service that was available afterwards, and for about 10 years, every time I heard the Albinoni, whether or not it was that performance, I wept.
Joyful: tough. Lots of stuff. Sometimes, it the combination. I was putting together a mixed tape and it included Communications Breakdown by Led Zeppelin, followed by Barabajagal by Donovan. Not only was I pleased at how well the two pieces went together, but I was juiced to have the two former Yardbirds guitarists, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, back to back.
Anything with a good bass line (Keep On Running by the Spencer Davis Group, Hey Ya by OutKast). Anything where the folks performing seemed to be having fun (Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young comes to mind).
One of the first thing that came to mind - this will be different next time someone asks - was "Soul Sacrifice by Santana on Woodstock, especially seeing the movie in my mind's eye.
Just this past Sunday, the postlude our wonderful organist Nancy played was the famous Bach Toccata. Somewhere about 6 minutes into an 8-minute rendition (again), a most unexpected chord pops up. It always floors me. Then the last three chords send me into spasms of joy. This is much more true in person than listening to a recording.
But, separate from the a/v or in-person experience, I'm going today with a song I heard in May of 1971. I went to New Paltz to visit my girlfriend and we ended up breaking up - not my idea. Wounded, I hitched over to Poughkeepsie to see my old friend Steve. He was turning me on to different music, including the first album by some young singer named Bonnie Raitt, who he had seen. But THE song that caught my attention was the first cut on an album "That's The way God Planned It" by Billy Preston, an album produced by one George Harrison, BTW. The cut is "Do What You Want To". It starts off relatively slowly, but really moves by the end. I know this for sure because I had to listen to it again and again. (Neil Young's "When You Dance, I Can Really Love" speeds up that way, too.) Anyway, I was (mostly) out of my funk by the time I got back home in Binghamton.

5. If you HAD to act in a remake of a film, what film would it be and who would you want to play?

Young Frankenstein. I'd be the Monster. Always wanted to be a song-and-dance man. BTW, I've read that there are plans to bring that classic Mel Brooks film parody to Broadway. Could be interesting, though Broadway, at least on the musical side, has become as cautious as network TV (CSI: Albany?) in trying to replicate the tried and true (Hairspray, Mamma Mia, etc.)

"Pardon me, boy, is this the Transylvania station?"
"Yah, Yah."


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Roger (Finally) Answers Your Questions, Scott

On the top of your web site, under the title, there reads: "B1 d- t- k+ s-- u-- f+ i o x- e- l c--" What does that mean?

Why thanks for pointing it out! It now reads B6 d- t k+ s+ u- f+ i o+ x- e+ l c-- Good catch!

What is your favorite baseball memory?

I had a hard time with this. Certainly, the 1962, 1977, or 1995 Yankees, or the 1969 or 1986 Mets winning the Series, or the 10-inning Jack Morris win in 1991 or the game I saw on 6/14/91 between the Red Sox and Angels. But the first thing that actually came to mind was Sid Bream sliding into home in the 1992 NLCS. Maybe it was because I hadn't gotten sick of the Braves yet, since they'd been so bad for so long. But I think it was just such a terrible slide against his old team, and how Barry Bonds' throw beat him to the plate but was just a little off line. The unlikely hero.

What is the last good book of fiction that you read?

Seldom read fiction at all at this point. Probably A Handmaid's Tale.

Do you think that finding an alternative fuel will become a government priority in the next ten years?

Yes, if some palpable disaster strikes. Don't know what that is yet.

Name something that you like that others think is uncharacteristic of you.

I don't think it's true across the board, but there are lots of people who think of me as a sweet, laid back, easy-going kind of guy. These people have never played cards with me. Or racquetball. Or softball. Or volleyball.
To that end, I seem to be in the minority of people who thought that the guy on JEOPARDY who had the lead, then initially bet to finish in a historic three-way tie bugged me. To use a sports example, it'd be like someone coming up in the 9th inning of a baseball game, already having hit a double, triple and home run, therefore needing only a single for the cycle, hitting the ball into the gap so that he'd surely get a stand-up double, but instead stopping at first.

What former (dead or alive) US President would you like to sit down and talk with?

Well, I've answered this before, and picked Jefferson and/or Lincoln. I think this time, I'll pick Teddy Roosevelt. He was an environmentalist. Maybe he has some ideas about how to create the political will in this country to actually fight global warming. I'm not sure Al "He's A Movie Star" Gore's recent visit to Capitol Hill will do the trick.

If Lydia had been a boy, what name did you and your wife have picked out?

Well, we had a bear of a time with boy's names. I think the only one that one of us hadn't yet vetoed was Micah. Not so incidentally, the snowperson is one she and Carol did after the Valentine's Day that resided in our front lawn. It was gone, though, by the time of the St. Patrick Day's storm.

I'll bite, but am interested since you brought it up) What is your favorite verse from the Bible?

We sang last week in church Stainer's God So Loved the World, which is based on John 3:16, what one former pastor described as "the Bible in a nutshell". I've been more partial to the next verse, also in the Stainer piece: "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." It speaks to me about those finger-pointing "gotcha" people.

Since you're a sports guy, I'll note it here:
All four of my teams are in the Final Four. Can't remember that happening, ever. I'm in first place in my pool, and only the commissioner (who picked Florida) or I (who picked Georgetown) can win. If Florida wins the championship, I lose. If Florida wins and Georgetown loses on Saturday, I can still win if Ohio State beats Florida on Monday, because we both picked Florida to beat UCLA. If both Florida and Georgetown lose on Saturday, I win. So, I'm still in it.

Oh, you wanted to know the MEANING of the code. You don't remember that I described it in July 2005? I don't either. Anyway, here's the translation.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Lydster, Part 36a: Happy Birthday plus one

Friend Dan wrote:
"What! How did she get so old??"
Darned if I know.
My friend Deb wrote:

Great pictures of Lydia. Have you tried monster spray? is my question--I think it needs some research. There are lots of web sites and suggestions that a new label on air freshener will also do the trick.) I believe you can get it at CVS. We also had a doll named Baby who now lives on top of the desk in
my daughter's room (now 22 and about to go off [out of the country again]. Providence).
My friend Shirley wrote:

[My granddaughter] is four now, as you probably recall, and a look at your
blogspot reminds me that [she and] Lydia have some things in common, like being adored little girls and first and (to date) only children, with verbal and demonstrative parents. L's pictures suggest that she is a tremendously happy and well-balanced kid. The same is true of our granddaughter. We're realizing that first and "only," and therefore highly verbal kids, carry a heavier cognitive burden--lots to deal with in their little brains. I love it that you chase the monsters from L's room. But they sure do come back. It doesn't seem to us at all unusual for this stuff to go on longer than you'd like. Our little girl has been interacting with her nocturnal monsters for a couple of years now. Our daughter, a little tired of being wakened at 2:00 AM and trying to "do the right thing" and "explore the causes," now has a bed in her daughter's room and sleeps there some of every night.
That probably would get her a black mark by child-raising gurus, and we're not recommending it, but it's also not a permanent arrangement; she will grow out of this stage. Meanwhile it eliminates a lot of stress on all sides. My granddaughter sleeps better and so does my daughter. It also honors her concerns, which means she'll go on telling them about whatever is on her mind and not shutting up like a clam, and it deals with the "symptom" until the super structure of reality adjusts
to--well, reality. (Part of reality could be getting big enough physically so your parents bedroom doesn't seem like a thousand miles away.) No doubt Lydia, like our grannddaughter, knows perfectly well that it's "all in her head," but that it's none the less scary."

Well, it's not every night, but sometimes, Lydia does end up in our bed, or she and I or Carol and I in the guest room, not so much from monsters while she's awake, but from nightmares.
This from intrepid reporter Mark:

Here is my theory: Respond as to whether you agree or not.

The worst years for all parents come in intervals of 3:

Newbown: Yeah, cute is one word. Another is ... well, that's three words.
3: Tantrums, with vocabulary.
6: Over that whole kindergarten phase where they are proud they can follow rules.
9: Think they're 12.
12: Think they're 15.
15: They are 15.
18. They are off on their own, and they're not ready.
21. They are really off on their own, and you're not ready.

That is off the top of my head. Discuss amongst yourself.

Yes, newborn WAS tough. Someone told me recently that boys tend to be more terrible at two, while girls are more terrible at three. Anyone want to comment on that theory?


Marshall Rogers, 1950-2007

I always had an affection for illustrator Marshall Rogers because of his name. Seriously. Oh, yeah, I read his Batman Detective series with Steve Englehart, and I read virtually everything he drew for Marvel before 1992, when I dumped my comic collection.

Wait, I still have my old comic magazines in the attic! I'm going to go look for Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, an old b&w mag series that I'm pretty sure that I still have. Despite the admittedly hokey name, I really liked those stories that he illustrated and Chris Claremont wrote.

Got an e-mail about his death from an artist fellow I know yesterday. 57! My condolences to his friends and family.


Monday, March 26, 2007

The Lydster, Part 36: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Today's Lydia's 3rd birthday! Yet I have pictures from 2005. The best-laid plans...

Friend TFox says:
She's a tall drink of water, as my mom would have said. You'll have to start screening boyfriends before you know it! :)
What about a link to other famous folks born on her B-Day?

OK, here it is Who do we find?Poets, such as A. E. Housman (1859) and Robert Frost (1874)Other writers such as Joseph Campbell (1904), Tennessee Williams (1911), Erica Jong, (1942), and Bob Woodward (1943)Musical folks such as Rufus Thomas (1917), Diana Ross (1944), Steven Tyler of Aerosmith (1948), and Teddy Pendergrass (1950)
Performers such as Strother Martin (1919), Bob Elliott of Bob & Ray (1923), Leonard Nimoy (1931), Alan Arkin (1934), James Caan (1940), Vicki Lawrence (1949), Martin Short and Ernest Thomas (both 1950, same as Teddy Pendergrass), Jennifer Gray (1960), and T.R. Knight of Grey's Anatomy (1973)Athletes such as Marcus Allen, football (1960, same as Jennifer Gray) and John Stockton, basketball (1962)But I was most interested to note that her birthday coincided with women of note:
Sandra Day O'Connor, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1930)
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House (1940, exactly the same age as James Caan!)
Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor (1953)So, what does she want to do when she gets older? I'll be fascinated to find out.
Final JEOPARDY!, 3/13/07:
According to the Mayo Clinic, allergies to these are the USA's most common cause of life-threatening allergic reaction.
All three contestants got it right.
The correct response: What are peanuts? I knew that, actually.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

(1) Foster Dulles; (2) and George Michael; (3) and Bernie Taupin

In honor of someone's 60th birthday today, I found these clues on the J-Archive for whom the answer is "Who is..." and the birthday person in question, except for the last three, for which the answer is this person, added to the footnoted person in the title of this piece.

HOT TUNES $600: He's recorded "Burn Down the Mission", "Flames of Paradise" & a big hit about a candle.
RAY CHARLES & FRIENDS $600: (Hi, I'm Larry King.) In 2005 I talked to this pop legend about his duet of "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" with Ray Charles
THE 1970s MUSIC SCENE $800: He sang "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" about a suicide he attempted when engaged to an onion heiress
DUETS $200: In 1994 he charted a new version of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", this time with RuPaul
POP STARS A.K.A. $200: "Rocket Man" Reginald Dwight
THE OSCARS $200: Though he's acted on screen, as in "Tommy", his first nomination & win was for a song in "The Lion King"
ROCK MUSIC $100: Although his 1974 hit "Bennie And The Jets" hit No. 1 in the U.S., it only reached No. 37 in the U.K.
NICKNAMES $800: This rock star, nicknamed "Captain Fantastic", has over $50,000 worth of eyeglasses
PEOPLE $400: When he auctioned off his wacky wardrobe, his Pinball Wizard boots sold for over $20,000
(1) BEFORE & AFTER $800: He sang "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" when negotiating a peace treaty with Japan & as Ike's Secretary of State
(2) POP MUSIC $400: These 2 singers, with 4 first names between them, had the 1991 No. 1 hit "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"
(3) THEY WROTE THE SONGS $300: "Honky Cat" & "Crocodile Rock"

This doesn't count the clues where the person's name is in the clue, including a whole category on 4/11/2006.

Unfortunately, the J-Archive doesn't have out yet my favorite Final JEOPARDY! clue, about a musician who has had a Top 40 song every year from 1971 to 1995. Interestingly, this person didn't have one in 1996, but had his biggest hit in 1997.

And if you don't know who he is, then write to me. Privately.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Lydster at 3: T Minus 2

I asked a few people how I should celebrate Lydia's upcoming birthday. My old buddy Pat from Kansas (the state, not the group) suggested that I do some timeline pictures. Good idea. These photos are all from 2004.

Someone else suggested I describe each of her years. Well, we have one of those books where we record everything: her first tooth,, her first step. But I'll be darned if I could actually FIND it. Much of Lydia's second and third years are recorded in this blog. But year one? It's already of a bit of a blur. Except for a few things.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being totally unprepared, and 10 being totally prepared, in terms of childbirth, we were about a 9, thanks to our Bradley course.
On the same scale, in terms of child raising, we were about a minus 13. On day four, all she did was eat, sleep and scream. Our doula was helping with breasst feeding instructions, because the child was not latching on. Day 4 was the WORST. We were exhausted, frustrated, and seemingly totally incompetent at this parenting thing. We realize that we were being punished for every inappropriate thought, word, or deed that we had ever done. Payback was brutal.

Then, on day 5, she didn't cry quite so much. Day 6 was worse than day 5, but nowhere as bad as day 4. Day 7 was a relative picnic. As we figured her out, we became more confident. Maybe she did, too.

Of course, it was not all easy. sleeping at night could be tricky for her, and therefore for us. I remember having a vacuum cleaner on just outside her room a couple nights. (Sidebar: I just read about someone who put out an album of appliance noises, including dishwashers, washers and dryers.)

Several people had told us that the car would be our salvation since she'd fall asleep in it. Well, yes and no. We'd get in the car, she'd cry for five minutes, sleep for one hour - and no more - then wail the rest of the way. This made trips to the grandparents in Oneonta (1 hour, 20 minutes) torturous for the last 15 minutes. Finally, and accidentally, we discovered that if I sang to her, and I mean pretty much constantly (Old McDonald with more animals than a zoo), she'd be placated until we got home.

She was crawling "early" by the book, so we thought maybe she'd walk early as well, but she was disinclined. Fortunately, we didn't worry about it.

Carol was breastfeeding, so we were both happy when we started on other foods at six or seven months, me because I could be a greater part of the process. I specifically remember thay Lydia had 8 teeth at 8 months. I used to call her Buddha baby.

An old friend from college, who is my age, but who has two practically grown boys asked: How about - why is some snot green? (I didn't know this until I became a parent.)
Well, I would, but I'm not sure, and from this piece about purulent rhinitis, other people aren't sure, either:

The green colour is due to immune cells called neutrophils. These are the first cells to appear when bacteria start infecting the nasopharynx. Neutrophils will engulf the bacteria (phagocytosis) and begin to destroy them within themselves using potent digestive enzymes (amongst other things, another being hydrogen peroxide). One of these is lactoferrin and other enzymes are dependent on iron for their activity. The colouration therefore comes from the iron. Ferrous iron compounds are green. It turns yellow the bacteria have been around for a while and other cells start moving in and dying
Dr Martin Powell, Caerphilly, Wales

I agree with Dr Powell that is is the enzymes in neutrophils that give snot its green colour. However, I thought this was due to another powerful antimicrobial agent, peroxidase. Incidentally, this is the same enzyme that gives wasabi its green colour - a lovely thought for the next time you're in Yo Sushi!

Snot only goes green in the presence of infection. When white cells encounter germs they manufacture a large amount of an enzyme called myeloperoxidase which generates toxic compounds like bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Myeloperoxide is green because it contains a lot of iron, which you may remember from chemistry lessons is green in its ferrous form.
Ben Benjamin, Torquay, UK

Got that?


Friday, March 23, 2007

March Rambling

Yesterday, I was walking home from the drugstore carrying a couple bags, including a couple prescriptions plus bottles of ginger ale and cranberry juice for Carol, who had a couple wisdom teeth removed yesterday morning. This guy in his car yells out his window, something "doing with those f*****' bags?", looking at me. Then he giggled and drove away. I'm not sure why, but I've been a victim of that "yell and drive" before, in Albany, at least twice with a racial overtone. Sure I can ignore it, but I'd lying if I told you it didn't bother me, more as a reflection of the inanity of human beings, rather than any real damage done to me.

Still, if I weren't carrying items that slowed me down, I might have tried to catch up with this dude and ask him why he was being such a [end place for the digestive tract for an equine].

In fact, one time when I was a target of yell and drive, I was on my bicycle, and I did go after the car, which caught a traffic light. I got up to the car, pounded my fist on the trunk once, then pulled over to the passenger side, where the yeller was. He got all "hey, man, only kidding, man, it was a joke, man" on me. I said nothing as the car pulled away. That WAS fun, though.
There is this quite lovely woman I've seen on the bus. She is, as they say, "a woman of a certain age", with gray hair. She had age lines but they looked (really) good on her. A couple days ago, I see her and she's dyed her hair brown. Oddly, it made her look older, for the gray hairs, her face earned; the brunette ones, not so much.
High lead levels found in some Albany schools. This is not only somewhat distressing, but also a bit surprising. One of the schools is brand new (opened in January 2007) and is the school Lydia is likely to attend in a couple years.
There was an excellent story, written by a sixth grader, in the local paper about her peanut allergy. we're going to make copies so that Lydia and the people around her will have a better idea what Lydia is/will be going through.
Clutter and mess trump clean and neat: a story after my own desk, er, heart.
Here's a useful caffeine reference.
My old pal David Brickman has one of his photos, "View of Arbor Hill Neighborhood looking North from Lark Street 1998," which was purchased by the Albany Institute of History and Art last spring, now on exhibit in their "entry gallery," where works from the vast permanent collection are showcased. If you are within reach, you can go to the Institute and have a look. Or, use the link to see the image on his website.
My daughter woke up screaming at 4 am yesterday from a nightmare. SHE went back to sleep; I didn't. Then last night, I stayed up watching basketball (I got 3 out of 4 -Memphis won by 1 - ouch) until 12:30 am. Need caffeine. More tomorrow.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Am I a Luddite?

Twice in the last week, actually within 18 hours, I was referred to as a Luddite. Once, you can ignore; twice, you have to think about it.

Time number one was Thursday afternoon, when I was expressing frustration with some technology at work, how it changes often and not always for the better. The young woman said, "And you just want it to work." "Yes, and I don't want to have to look under the hood," to use an automotive metaphor. Of course, even car mechanics can't look under the hood anymore without complicated diagnostic computer technology anymore. If wanting it to work without hassle makes me a Luddite, then I am.

Time number two was Friday morning, when one of my racquetball partners was going on about the wonders of being able to watch cable television on his cell phone. I furrowed my brow and said, "Why would you want to watch TV on a two-inch screen?" Informed that the screen was larger than usual, I corrected myself; "OK, a three-inch screen." If not being an early adopter of technology is being a Luddite, then I'm so there.

I had to laugh when I read this from Lefty Brown: "I'm behind the curve when it comes to technology. I've just started listening to podcasts." And he's thinking of starting one of his own this year. I'm planning a podcast, 2011.

Truth is, mechanical stuff has never come easily to me. I need to be shown. I cannot be told. I cannot Read The Manual. Just this week, I was trying to design an e-mail template. I was sent instructions, which I was following, until I realized that I had to keep some window open that I had closed - NOT EXPLAINED IN THE MANUAL - and I had to start all over again.

Also at work, we've been putting together PDF files to send to clients. Well, I couldn't get this AT ALL. Then, someone SHOWED me, and I discovered how easy the task was. But reading about it simply did not help me.

In my first days of my job, some 14 1/2 years ago, I was operating something called an electronic bulletin board, which involved doing a lot of things at the C:\ prompt of my computer, i.e., in DOS. This despite the fact that I had no idea what an EBB was, or what it was used for, or DOS commands, for that matter. Fortunately, this very patient guy named Kevin showed me a lot of stuff over a two-day period, and I became rather proficient at it. A useless skill now, but it showed that I am teachable.

I LIKE some technology, but some technologies don't like me. I remember that wife Carol has gotten a lovely VCR from her brothers, but we never used it except to play tapes, because the tuning took three people three hours and it still wasn't right. Whereas MY VCR was so idiot-proof that, with the onscreen instructions, I was able to set it up in about 10 minutes. The DVR is wonderful, because I can easily watch programs out of order of when I recorded them and easily switch from skating (my wife's primary interest) to JEOPARDY, e.g.

I never got an eight-track because I realized what a stupid technology it was when I was in someone's car, listening to The Beatles Again, when the song "Rain" stopped in midsong to change tracks. It's a three-minute song, FCOL! A stupid technology.

I never got a Betamax machine, but that was only because the competing technologies made me nervous; I didn't own a VCR until Beta was essentially dead. I'm feeling similarly disinterested in BluRay or BluTooth, or whatever is competing with something else; I'll wait until it all shakes out before deciding that I need it.

Need. So far, I don't NEED a Palm Pilot, or XBox. Or even a cell phone, though virtually everyone says I will when Lydia gets older, and maybe that'll be true. Or maybe there will be some other technology to replace it. Cell phones: a mixed technology. Useful in cases of emergency, but I've never wanted to be available 24/7, thank you.

Anyway, I don't think I have anything on Ned Ludd, the original Luddite, who used to smash machines to try to forestall the Industrial Revolution. Though I did write a little cheer for him:
Captain Ludd
He's our man
If he can't do it
Don't need to be done.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Embracing 54

I'm working on trying to remember that I'm 54. It's not that I fear it, or regret it; it's that I'm likely not to remember it. It's not as though I can recall all the times I spent at Studio 54; heck, I never even saw the movie. It's a nonadecagonal number, but I don't even know what that means.

It's not like a number divisible by 10, or even 5. It's not a power of a number, such as 27 or 32 or 36 or 49 or 64. It's not a repeating digit (33, 44, or next year's 55).

It's not a popular culture iconic number such as Jack Benny's 39 or Paul McCartney's 64 (again - I should DEFINITELY remember that year.)

It doesn't have special meaning to me, such as last year (53 - born in '53) or the year I turned 37 (March 7) or will turn 73 (7 March).

It's not even a prime number.

So how do I embrace my 54ness? Shall I remember that 54 is:
The atomic number of xenon, a noble gas?
The jersey number of Chicago Bears' middle linebacker Brian Urlacher?
The number of the police car on an old NBC sitcom I used to watch enough that I STILL remember the theme, from which someone made a terrible movie starring David Johansen and John C. McGinley, the very existence of which I didn't remember?

Then it struck me, though not right away: 54 is the number of my house. I guess I WILL be able to remember it after all, and won't have to recall 54 40 or fight.

(There is some appropriate Homeric response, but I'm not going to g'oh there.)
There's a holdup in the Bronx,
Brooklyn's broken out in fights.
There's a traffic jam in Harlem
That's backed up to Jackson Heights.
There's a scout troop short a child,
Kruschev's due at Idlewild
Car 54, Where Are You?

Re: the US Attorneys' firing case, you may have seen this letter (in PDF) that has more conditions that attendees at a hypochondriac convention. Or as one colleague put it: "Jedi mind tricks: 'You will hear testimony from only Harriet Miers and you will be satisfied...'" And to think that she could have been on the Supreme Court.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It's That Time Again

Yes, I know the excitement is really building; don't pass out, please. It's your chance, once again, to ASK ROGER ANYTHING. That's right, and he has to answer. He might even answer honestly.

You could ask him what are the movie soundtracks he owns of movies he has never seen; there are several. Or his favorite Bible verse. Or the two-letter provincial codes in Canada. Or his most serious/favorite criminal endeavor. Or how he was an environmentalist before his time, scoffed at by his family. Or to explain the infield fly rule. Or to pick out his favorite Hess truck. Or how to bet on Final JEOPARDY! Or why the Michael Jackson album Off the Wall is better than Thriller.

Since the child is turning three soon, you can ask about her.

Some of you who have posed this question in your own blogs, to which I have always generously provided queries, are ESPECIALLY invited to share. You know who you are.

Here's an unsolicited answer to a non-question. While one can steal second base, third base or home in baseball, one cannot steal first base. The situation where a batter runs to first on a third strike after the catcher drops the ball is a no-risk move on the batter's part. If the catcher throws out the batter at first, he's out, but he would have been out anyway. But when a runner is trying to steal second, the runner is at risk of being thrown out; thus the successful pilfering IS a stolen base.

You can e-mail me or leave it in the reply section.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Yet Another Attempt at Minimal Self-Revelation through Answering a Series of Seemingly Unrelated Questions

1. Your name spelled backwards.
Neerg Newo Regor.

2. Where were your parents born?
My mother in Binghamton, NY. My father, I'm not sure - somewhere around there.

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
Undoubtedly a picture for the blog.

4. What's your favorite restaurant?
Depends. But Carol & I always go to a restaurant called Justin's in January (or so), because that's where I proposed and she accepted.

5. Last time you swam in a pool?
At Fred Hembeck's house, summer of 2006. But I would call it swimming, it was more like hanging out.

6. Have you ever been in a school play?
Several, actually, in small roles. The largest was playing the fire chief in Ionesco's "The Bald Soprano".

7. How many kids do you want?
At this point, one.

8. Type of music you dislike most?
Tough question.

9. Are you registered to vote?

10. Do you have cable?
Yes, and a DVR to eventually watch the shows I record, eventually.

11. Have you ever ridden on a moped?
If I had, I'd never admit it.

12. Ever prank call anybody?
Not to my recollection.

13. Ever get a parking ticket?
In the 1980s, when I worked at FantaCo, every time Tom and I went to a show in NYC, we'd read the conflicting signs, decide it was OK to park there and end up getting a ticket.

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
Well, I haven't yet.

15. Furthest place you ever traveled?
Barbados. That's practically in South America.

16. Do you have a garden?
My wife does-flowers.

17. What's your favorite comic strip?
Probably For Better or Worse, even though it's going into its "wrap everything up neatly" phase, much to the annoyance of some. Also, much to my surprise, Luann.

18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?
Well, I know the first verse, kind of spotty on the second and third. But the fourth I know by heart. "Then conquer we must when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: "In God is our Trust."

19. Bath or Shower, morning or night?
When I'm in a hotel with a tub, I bathe at night. Normally, I shower in the morning.

20. Best movie you've seen in the past month?

21. Favorite pizza topping?

22. Chips or popcorn?

23. What color lipstick do you usually wear?
Well, I don't, but if I did, I expect it would be bright red.

24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells?

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?
My life is a beauty pageant.

26. Orange or Apple juice?
40% cranberry, 40% orange, 20% ginger ale. I like my mixed drinks.

27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine?
With Carol at Justin's.

28. Favorite type chocolate bar?

29. When was the last time you voted at the polls?
The school/library vote in February.

30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
Last fall.

31. Have you ever won a trophy?
Racquetball, 1989.

32. Are you a good cook?
I think I could be, if I applied myself.

33. Do you know how to pump your own gas?
Well, yeah...

34. Ever order an article from an infomercial?
No, but I was tempted once.

35. Sprite or 7-Up?

36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work?
Yes, it's called a tie, a noose around my neck.

37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy?
Undoubtedly something for Lydia.

38. Ever throw up in public?
Not lately.

39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?

40. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Lust, maybe.

41. Ever call a 1-900 number?
Those still around? Actually the NYS Department of State has one to find out about corporations. Don't think I've called it, though.

42. Can exes be friends?
Actually, at least four of my exes are friends, and attended my marriage to Carol. Another one didn't make it, but Carol and I subsequently attended her wedding.

43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?
Might have been my friend Donna a few years ago, just before she died.

44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby?
Not especially.

45. What message is on your answering machine?
An intentionally boring one.

46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character?
Mr. Robinson of Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood.

47. What was the name of your first pet?
Peter, the cat. BTW, I read that security folks are now asking questions other than your mother's maiden name, such as your first pet's name. Guess I won't be using THAT one. They're also asking for your favorite sports team (what if you have two, or none?) and your favorite food (one favorite food? couldn't even imagine).

48. What is in your purse?
Haven't used a purse in a few years now.

49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime?
Play Internet backgammon.

50. What is one thing you are grateful for today?
That there is a two-term limit for the Presidency.
The passing of Brad Delp, the lead singer for the band "Boston", who committed suicide last week in his Atkinson, NH, home, made me surprisingly sad. And I wasn't even that big a fan of the band, though in truth, I do own THE album (LP). Police reports released a few days ago reported that a note was paper-clipped to the neck of Delp’s shirt when police found his body on the bathroom floor, his head on a pillow. The note read, "Mr. Brad Delp. J’ai une ame solitaire. I am a lonely soul." Such despair...
March Madness. I was 25-7 after the first two days. All 8 of my Elite 8 teams are still alive. Huzzah.
Happy birthday, Amelia B. and Jon P.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Four Years

Four years ago, the President gave this brief address to the nation. Since then, Saddam Hussein is dead, 3000+ Americans are dead, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead, two million Iraqis have fled their country, including many who had supported the US military mission but who are now not getting the support they need.

Many of the American wounded might not have survived 25 or even 10 years ago. Some, especially early on, were provided inadequate protection, and now find that, once they leave the hospital, are given inadequate care. "Support the troops", indeed.

John McCain was right about those non-binding resolutions the Democrats tried to pass earlier this year: it's immoral to continue to, on one hand, fund the war and on the other hand, suggest the war is wrong. The "surge" will work until it's over, and whether or not we set a "timetable for withdrawal" or not, the forces of instability will wait it out, change tactics or change venues. Hey, don't believe me; read what wide-eyed liberals such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, National security adviser to President Carter; Richard Clarke, Counterterrorism czar from 1992 to 2003; Gen. Tony McPeak (retired), Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War; and Bob Graham, Former chair, Senate Intelligence Committee have to say.

I had predicted four years ago that a partitioned Iraq would exist one year from now. Kurdistan exists now in almost every way (flag, currency, head of state) right now, and has since the US and UK enforced the no-fly zones 15 or 16 years ago. It seems that perhaps trying to force together an Iraq initially created by the British after World War I, insensitive to tribal concerns (see also: the colonial powers in Africa), that a different way ought to be considered. Yes, I know about the concerns of Turkey and other countries in the region. The Kurds may be the largest group of people without a country to call its own, and trying to keep an imposed country together without force may not be practical (see also: Yugoslavia), maybe it's time to deal with the reality.

Incidentally, I don't think that the wisdom of initial opposition to this war should be shelved with a "yeah, but what would they do NOW?" retort. Criticism of this war before the war started, expressed by Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich, and no other Democrat or Republican running for President - if there's anyone else, please let me know - shows at least a certain foresight that their colleagues lacked, which may bode well for the future.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Media and Politics QUESTION

The Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago will be celebrating the 75th anniversary salute to FDR on July 2. FDR accepted his nomination at Chicago Stadium and announced his plans for the New Deal. If I were in Chicago, I'd be very inclined to go to this gig. Media! Politics! Robert Vaughn!

Also at this event, the organization will be announcing America’s top 100 political moments in radio and television.

Without thinking or researching, because thinking will just confuse things, and I wanted to go with my gut feelings, my Top 11.
In chrono order:
1. Al Smith, 1928. Not many people saw it, of course.
2. FDR, "Day of Infamy", December 1941. Still respond to it in the ear.
3. McCarthy hearings in the 1950s.
4. JFK-Nixon debates, esp. the first one. I read somewhere that people listening to it on the radio thought Nixon won, while those watching TV would pick Kennedy. This would be #1, if I were to rank.
5. I Have a Dream speech (That certainly is political), August 1963.
6. JFK assassination. November 1963.
7. Cronkite dissing LBJ about Vietnam, February 1968
8. Democratic National Convention, August 1968
9. Watergate hearings (esp. John Dean), 1973
10. Reagan in Normandy, 1984
11. Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings ("high-tech lynching")

Of course, there are the FDR's fireside chats, the black power salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Jimmy Carter's Moral Equivalent of War energy policy with the sweater, the assassination attempt on Reagan, Iran-Contra, and a bunch more, but the ones I picked just resonated more for me.

So, what would be your picks?

P.S. - Gordon, might you attend?
I should note St. Patrick's day, since I'm Roger O'Green, but there's already enough blarney in this post, what with media AND politics. The primary Albany parade, though, was postponed for a week because of the foot plus of snow we received overnight.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Oscar-Worthy Movies I Have Seen: 1929-1930

The nominated films - Production (Picture):
"ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT" (winner), "The Big House", "Disraeli", "The Divorcee", "The Love Parade". Saw none of them.
Interesting that this was the only year multiple nominations for an actor or actress in the same category were allowed. So George Arliss beat himself ("Disraeli" over "The Green Goddess") and two Ronald Colman performances ("Bulldog Drummond", "Condemned"), among others.
Likewise, Norma Shearer in "Their Own Desire" was beaten by Shearer in "The Divorcee", while Greta Garbo was an also-ran twice, in "Anna Christie" (of which I've seen pieces of on TV) and in "Romance".


Oscar-Worthy Movies I Have Seen: 1928-1929

The first listed is the winner- Production (Picture):
"THE BROADWAY MELODY", "Alibi", "Hollywood Revue", "In Old Arizona", "The Patriot" (silent)
Saw none of these nor any of the nominated performances.

By the 1990s, this WILL change.
Appropriately, here's "Finding His Voice", a 1929 Max Fleischer cartoon about how optical soundtracks on films work:


Oscar-Worthy Movies I Have Seen: 1927-1928

I had so much fun with reviwing my experience seeing the Oscar-winning films, I've decided to review, year by year, all of the films I've seen that have received Oscar consideration for that year.

First up, 1927-1928, when the nominees were:
Production (Picture): "WINGS", "The Racket", "Seventh Heaven"
["The Way of All Flesh" and "The Last Command" are omitted from the latest official Academy list]
Unique and Artistic Picture (also known as Artistic Quality of Production):
"SUNRISE", "Chang", "The Crowd"

I saw NONE of them, nor the films nominated for other categories.



Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Madness

For the past few years, I've been involved in picking the winners of the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. For the last couple years, my #1 team lost in the finals. The winner of the pool last year was a five-year old boy, who had also won two years previously, when he was three. He picks based on school mascots, nicknames, and geography, which is obviously more successful than reading everything I can from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and CBS Sportsline. I suppose I could just WATCH THE GAMES during the season, but truth is, the only game I watched this season was the six minutes of the Albany-Vermont game. That's six minutes more than I watched LAST year.

Anyway, one gets one point for getting the games in round one, two points for round two, four points for round three, etc. Even if NO one picks the ultimate champion, someone will win the pool, which is not for money but for pride. I'll be sharing my progress, but I won't give you the blow-by-blow. I will tell you, out of sheer civic pride, i'm picking Albany to win one game. I also have Georgetown beating Ohio State, Florida beating UCLA and Georgetown beating Florida in the Final Four.

I was playing Internet backgammon with someone this week, and he or she seemed to leave their pieces intentionally vulnerable. Even if you've never played the game, what you need to know is that two pieces on a space are safe and one is not, and that this person seemed to intentionally want to get hit. Strange, and not that much fun, winning handily like that. Reminds me of an old girlfriend who was playing a card game called casino. Aces are worth a point apiece, and she was playing first, but didn't pick up the aces on the table even though she had an ace in her hand to do so, which soon became evident. She did it so I could win; this did NOT make me happy.

Anyway, my posts for the next couple days will be short, because my back's been killing me. I seem to have pulled something trying to right myself on the ice, the old melt-and-refreeze stuff. I didn't fall; almost wish I did. So I stayed home Tuesday and watched the Grammys; yeah, only a month late. The highlight for me had to be Mary J. Blige doing Stay with Me, a song by Lorraine Ellison which I have on vinyl on THE 1969 WARNER/REPRISE RECORD SHOW. I LOVE those LPs, as they were wonderfully eclectic. - I have 32 of the 37 listed.

The Ellison song was the last of a quintet of songs I used to play when romance would go sour:
Remove This Doubt-Supremes
Sweet Bitter Love-Aretha
Gone Away-Roberta Flack
First Night Alone without You-Jane Olivor


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Crackerjacks (my daughter is allergic to peanuts)

My ritual for preparing for the baseball season usually involves purchasing Street& Smith's Baseball Annual. It helps to remind me who was traded or retired during the off season. I'm sure it's a fantasy league player's dream, but that's never interested me.

What DID interest me is the career totals in the several categories. I was fascinated to find that the leading active player in hits (tied all-time with Rogers Horsby) and doubles (ahead of Hank Aaron and Cal Ripkin Jr.), AND second to Barry Bonds in runs (beating out, among others, Jimmie Foxx and Honus Wagner), and third to Bonds and Griffey Jr. in total bases is Craig Biggio. Barring some revelation, he should be a lock for the Hall of Fame when he retires.

So, who is the batter with the fourth all-time greatest slugging percentage after Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig? It isn't Bonds, who is sixth, after Foxx. It's Albert Pujols, who's top 4 among active players in on-base percentage.

Of course, over the past few years, the issue of steroids has muddied the waters in terms of not only baseball but other sports achievements. For reasons that I'm not entirely sure I understand, it is the Albany (NY) County district attorney that is leading the charge in a major steroid bust in Florida.

At some level, I think I, and many others are fervently hoping that today's stars, such as Pujols and Ryan Howard, will stay clean, for the sake of the game.
Paraphrased from The Very Worst In Sports

In 1895, Mike Grady played professional baseball for the Phillies. Grady, normally a catcher, was playing third base in a particularly memorable – and painful -- game for him. As the story goes, he bobbled an easy grounder allowing the batter to reach first base (first error). His throw to first was wild (second error), allowing the runner to advance. The runner tried to stretch it to third. The first baseman's throw to Grady at third was in time, but he dropped it (third error). Finally, the runner was racing home and Grady's throw sailed over
the catcher's head into the grandstand (fourth error) - ALL in one single play!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I've been in conversation with this guy from the local newspaper about putting my little bloggy on the Times Union newspaper blog site. The paper would not exercise any editorial control over my work, and they could move the nearly two years of my back stuff onto the site.

The upside:
Potentially more readers, as the TU would support my/their blog

The downside
No bloglinks (though I could, I suppose, keep a blog with links)
These transfer things always seem to be more complicated than they're sold on being
I'd get grief from someone about selling out to the evil Hearst corporation

But I'm thinking about it.I imagine those oof you who have strong opinions will share them.

Meanwhile, friend Judy sent me a link to "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us":

From an unsolicited e-mail:

Dr. Benjamin Wiker has summarized the background of the popular phrase:

"The story begins with Mr. George Hull, a student of archeology and paleontology who contrived a famous hoax to make money. Hull had a 'giant' carved out of stone, and buried on his cousin’s farm in Cardiff , New York . Why? Because evangelists of the time were preaching about lost giants that roamed the earth, and Hull knew he could make a mint if the buried giant was 'suddenly' unearthed and put on display. And he did. Things went so well that he was able to sell two-thirds interest in the giant for $30,000 to a group of men, one of them being banker David Hannum (who believed the giant real). P.T. Barnum tried to buy the giant, but Hull and Hannum wouldn't sell. So, ol' P.T. had one carved of his own, and claimed Hull and Hannum's was a fake! Seeing the streams of visitors flowing in to see P.T.'s 'giant', Hannum, still believing his own giant to be real, declared: 'There’s a sucker born every minute.'

Monday, March 12, 2007

Look alikes

Not having come across a meme that struck me, I went with this art de computer, via some FOL (Friend of Lefty). Frankly, don't think any of them REALLY look like me. Do you? (The fifth is Paul Tibbetts.)
UAlbany plays Virginia in Columbus this week in men's basketball's March Madness. I'll probably do some pool. Any insights on upsets, such as what #12 is going to beat the #5 seed they're playing?
Today would have been my parents' 57th wedding anniversary. On their 50th, in 2000, my sisters and I were trying to plan a surprise party for them. However, my father was ALSO trying to plan a surprise party for his wife, and the people my sisters and I called were confused by the fact that TWO parties were planned for the same day at the same place - their church - so, we ended up joining forces in surprising mom. Dad died five months later, so that last party holds a special place in our hearts.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Flick Tunes

But first, a sports note: UAlbany 60, U Vermont 59 in Burlington yesterday, where the Great Danes had never won in seven previous tries since 1999, when they went to Division I. I watched on ESPN2 as VT had the ball, down one with 30 seconds to go, but thanks to great defense by Albany never even got off a shot. Albany, my grad school alma mater, wins the America East men's basketball title and gets to get seeded something-teen in the NCAA bracket tonight.
I made this mixed CD for Lefty and his comrades, and I was so happy that the process worked that I made an extra five copies for whoever wants one.

I started with the God/afterlife songs:
Morning Hymn and Alleluia-Nuns Chorus-The Sound of Music
I'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord-Lyle Lovett-The Apostle
In Your Mind-Johnny Cash-Dead Man Walking
The Great Beyond-R.E.M.-Man in the Moon
I'm Going Home-Sacred Harp Singers at Liberty Church-Cold Mountain
Then the revolution songs:
Beware Verwoerd-Miriam Makeba-Amandla!
[Title]-Bono and Gavin Friday-In the Name of the Father
Revolution-Grandaddy-I Am Sam
Segue is from a revolutionary movie
Overture to the Sun-A Clockwork Orange
Transportation songs; the protagonists in the latter two movies have a none too positive fate:
Ridin' the Rails-k.d. lang and Take 6-Dick Tracy
Lonely Avenue-Ian Gillian and Roger Glover-Rain Man
Tennessee Plates-Charlie Sexton-Thelma & Louise
Ballad of Easy Rider-Roger McGuinn-Easy Rider
Easy Rider hits New Orleans, so I'll go there
Ma 'Tit Fille-Buckwheat Zydeco-The Big Easy
Another celebration
The Funeral (September 25, 1987)- George Fenton and Jonas Gwangwa-Cry Freedom: the bulk of this track is the very noble Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (God Bless Africa). So I need some leavening.
Gump-Weird Al Yankovic
Upbeat, positive ending
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive-Clint Eastwood-Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
You've Got a Friend in Me-Robert Goulet-Toy Story 2


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Time, TV and Train QUESTIONS

1. Our techie guy wrote: "The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, passed by the U.S. Congress July, 2005, extended Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the U.S. by approximately four weeks. As a result, beginning in 2007, DST will start three weeks earlier on March 11, 2007, and end one week later on November 4, 2007, resulting in a new DST period that is four weeks longer than previously observed. These four weeks are referred to in this article as the "extended DST period".

We have prepared a plan to correct the Time Zone entries on both your computer and our servers... We will be updating your Exchange Mailboxes on Saturday March 10th, beginning at Noon... As a result, any meeting invitation for the 'extended DST period' that was previously sent will be re-sent to each invitee because it will be read as a 'new time.' All meeting requests will need to be reaccepted or re-declined in order to update your calendars properly."

So, the first set of questions: Has the change in Daylight Saving Time been more of a hassle for you at work? At home? I think the DVR will reset on its own, but that the VCR (purchased in 1997 and Y2K compliant!) will not. Other than kids going trick or treating when it's lighter, do you see any net benefit to the change, which will cost companies an estimated $2 billion to deal with? I don't, and places that are in the northwest segments of a time zone (Lansing, MI in the east, Bismarck, ND in the central, and Helena, MT in the mountains, it'll be dark at 8 a.m. on March 12, when kids are going to school. Where's the energy savings?

2. As you may have heard, there are plans afoot to move the Addison character on Grey's Anatomy to a spinoff show. There are lots of Kate Walsh fans out there, as she's the first person I've seen on both Tom the Dog's Object of My Affection list AND Jaquandor's Realizations Of Womanly Radiance list.

The Ad Age Water Cooler column of February 26 suggests other possibilities for spinoff potential:
Hurley (Jorge Garcia)-Lost
Justin (Mark Indelicato)-Ugly Betty
Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson)-The Office
Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys)-Brothers & Sisters

Can't speak for the former two, but I just don't see it in the latter two, especially Dwight, who is a wonderful character relating to both Angela and Michael. Then again, I didn't see the potential of seeing spinning off Rhoda from the Mary Tyler Moore Show, though spinning off Maude from All in the Family or even Frasier Crane from Cheers made more sense to me.

So, what do you think of spinning off any of these characters from their shows? Any other ideas?

3. This is actually a work-related request: I need a list of recorded songs about trains. I found a couple lists here and here, but I can't help but to think they're missing some obvious tunes that I'm just not thinking of.
Are NY Giants QB Eli Manning and "24" President Wayne Palmer the Same Guy? [Thanks to MMcG.]


Friday, March 09, 2007

Perplexing Pixilation Problem

So what did I do on my birthday? I got up early to finish - finally!- burning some CDs that I promised to the folks involved with Lefty Brown's Mixed Bag. It was NOT for lack of trying. It seemed as though iTunes is the culprit, for me and a co-worker at least. Even though it has this lovely way to put together collections, it appears that stuff I copy from iTunes, including things I didn't even BUY on iTunes, has a tendency to allow the first nine songs or so to track, and then not so much after that. So, I took said disc with nine seemingly OK songs and rerecorded said tunes into another program, then made a disc of them from a third program. (I'm exhausted just thinking about this.) Problem was, those nine already recorded songs, when copied onto a disc, tended to fade in and out. Thus, I had to rip the nine songs individually AGAIN. The good news is that this actually seemed to work. Finally.

My baby sister and her daughter called at 6:15 to wish me HB (talked with my other sister later in the day), then Carol took Lydia to day care so I could have a few extra minutes playing racquetball. Came home, ate, made a list.

I hate making lists.

I hate making lists, because, inevitably, the list is longer than the time allotted for the things on the list. I will tell you that reading the newspapers, working on the blog, putting the CDs away that I've played recently ("recently" being since late January), or even emptying the dishwasher did not happen. Didn't even put "going to the movies", my traditional birthday item, on the list.

Looked at a few blogs, including the one of my good buddy Fred Hembeck, who has the Greens Goblin, Lantern, and Arrow, plus the Martian Manhunter wishing me an HB; the Hulk had another agenda. (Fred might be interested in reading the March 6 post on why "24" uses real phone numbers on the show.)

I did print out lists for the mixed CD, no small feat, since the printer had been spooling out gibberish for a couple weeks. After taking myself to lunch at an Indian restaurant, I stood in a very s-l-o-w line and finally MAIL these CDs to the participants (and also to the aforementioned Mr. Hembeck). Additionally, I sent one of them to the guy who sent me this link to the MidWinter's event I missed this year because it was right after Lydia's surgery:

(Not to be confused with this or this, though the process is similar.)

That guy, BTW, also, walked me through the incredibly convoluted process of burning these CDs in the first place, on Saturday. Thanks, effendi! He, Fred, and Lefty Brown also got a copy of this book. (If anyone else would like a copy, please let me know, and I'll send you one.)

After the P.O., I went to the grocery store to get some food for the hearts card party I'm having on Sunday - call if you want to come. The card party is really what I put on my birthday wish list.

I have all this new music from these folks I've never met that I'm supposed to rank by Sunday, which is really difficult. I will say that Lefty's disc is in second place, of the ones I've heard so far, which is all that I received before yesterday.

Watched a couple news programs. Had dinner with wife and daughter, with carrot cake for birthday dessert. Lydia sang happy birthday to me thrice on my birthday: in the morning, when she came home, and with the cake.

I did get presents: headphones (the only other thing I asked for - my old ones broke), a couple racquetball gloves, and a pass to the Spectrum movie theater. My wife was mock upset when I told her I might take my girlfriend to the movies until I noted that SHE was my girlfriend.

All in all, not the birthday I planned, but mostly pretty OK.

On the other hand, the celebration continued the next day, with a half dozen birthday messages on my voice mail and work e-mail, plus a couple cards in the mail. Most special, the drawing that Mr. Hembeck featured on his blog for March 7 was in a package at my desk when I got to work! Not only that, some, actually a LOT of, tunes were also included. Huzzah!


Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Right is of no Sex - Truth is of no Color"

On February 24, 2007, Carol and I I attended a conference on the Underground Railroad: Uncovering the Voices of Women, organized for the sixth year in a row by our friends Paul and Mary Liz Stewart. It was excellent.

One of the sessions was "From the UGR to Women’s Rights: Historic Sites in Central NY" by Judy Wellman, Ph.D. From the program: "Nationally, abolitionism provided one of the most important roots of the early women’s rights movement. In central NY, a survey of sites relating to African Americans and European Americans involved with the UGR suggests powerful connections between the UGR and early women’s rights movement." One finds a number of suffragists at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement, described well here. The quote in the title is by early feminist Frederick Douglass.

I can't help but notice the parallels between the 19th and 20th Century women's movements. The article cited above notes how a major anti-slavery convention in London in 1840 did not seat or hear from women delegates, two of whom were Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I recall the discussions during the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, where women (rightly) complained that they were being relegated to the sidelines, expected to do the cleaning and cooking, while the menfolk did the "important" organizing.

The toughest part of the conference had to be in the opening plenary session, in which Delores M. Walters, Ph.D. described "The Narrative Life of Margaret Garner's Life and Beyond". Margaret Garner was a slave who, with her family, attempted to escape, but was recaptured. Rather than letting her two-year-old be brought back into slavery, she killed her. Margaret was put on trial, and returned to slavery, but died soon thereafter.

There is now an opera, written by Toni Morrison, author of the book "Beloved", which has a narrative section that parallels Margaret Garner's life. It has been performed a number of times already, and it will be performed again in New York City in September 2007.

The conference ended with a responsive reading of a litany, found here.

The conference is already planning for next year, so if you're in the area, please consider attending.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Roger Turns 54

Photo by Lydia Green, January 2007, unaltered.

I'm loving the synchroncity of 03/07/07, because it gives 03/07 more than one meaning.

It can be very warm even in Albany on my birthday. Not this year, when it's 4 degrees and windy.

Every year, I take off my birthday from work. So I'm taking off my birthday from the blog, and will leave you with what I wrote last year:

In our local Hearst paper, they always run this poem in August on the anniversary of the death of some founder. I think my tradition will be that I will quote a section from one of my favorite books, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen, a Canadian theologian who died in 1996. (Copyright 1994, published by The Crossroad Publishing Company.)

I share this passage about birthdays, not only for my sake, but, I hope, for yours as well:

Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: "Thank you for being you." Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: "Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished." No, we say: "Thank you for being born and being among us."
Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people's birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection. These are ways of saying: "It's good that you are alive; it's good that you are walking with me on this earth. Let's be glad and rejoice. This is the day that God has made for us to be and to be together."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Underplayed Vinyl: The Supremes

It's the 63rd birthday of original Supreme Mary Wilson.

The Supremes, of course, were THE #1 female group in the Unites States. You can argue for Destiny's Child or someone else, but by the calculations of the Joel Whitburn book reflecting the Billboard singles charts through 2002, they were #25, behind Madonna (#4), Janet Jackson (#9), Aretha Franklin (#10), and Mariah Carey (#14) among female artists; Destiny's Child was #181. On the Billboard album charts through 2006, they were #29, behind only Babs (#5) and Aretha (#18); Destiny's Child was #451. (The Whitburn books balances off the fact that there are more people today than 40 years ago, and gives points to longevity.)

But it wasn't always the case. They were known as the "no-hit Supremes" when they came out with Meet the Supremes, which didn't enhance their commercial reputation. This was in a period (1962) that the others besides Diana Ross actually sang leads. The late Florence Ballard sings on my favorite song on the album, the energetic pop of "Buttered Popcorn", while Mary Wilson is featured on the soul ballad "Baby Don't Go", written by Berry Gordy. There were actually two album covers. My original album cover was the "soft focus" one, which was actually the second version, done in 1965, after they made it big. The "chairs" cover was the first cover, which was still being used when I repurchased the album subsequent to the Great Album Theft of 1972. You can't even find this album on Amazon, except at an outrageous price from individuals. Too bad, because it's a charming collection, showing a lot of promise for what was to come.

That theft wiped out a lot of albums I never replaced, notably the "theme" albums: A Little Bit of Liverpool (featuring a terrible version of A Hard Day's Night); The Supremes Sing Country, Western, and Pop; and We Remember Sam Cooke, all coming out after the breakthrough album Where Did Our Love Go, and before More Hits by the Supremes.
After a couple specialty discs and the more popular fare of I Hear A Symphony and Supremes A' Go Go, the group came out with what I thought was a peculiarly named 1967 album: The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland, odd because most of their pop fare was already written by Brian, Lamont and Eddie, and produced by the former two. As was often the case at Motown at that time, the album featured songs previously recorded by other Motown artists such as the Four Tops ("I'll Turn to Stone", "It's the Same Old Song") and Martha and the Vandellas ("Love is Like a) Heat Wave"), which, while not matching the originals, were enjoyable. Of course, it had the hits ("You Keep Me Hangin' On", "Love is Here and Now You're Gone"), but my favorite song is a tune I always thought my sister or my eldest niece, singers both, ought to try, "Remove This Doubt", complete with strings. Elvis Costello did this song on Kojak Variety, which is not bad, but pales to the original, to my ears.

1967 was a real transitional year. Florence Ballard left the group after the Rogers and Hart album, replaced by Cindy Birdsong of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. Also, Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown over a dispute with Berry Gordy. The group, now Diana Ross and the Supremes, did one pop album, Reflections, a really transitional album with the last H-D-H pieces (and the last Flo Ballard work), and too many uninspired covers (Ode to Billie Joe?). Then they did three specialty albums, including one with the Temptations, before releasing Love Child.

Love Child is the last very good Supremes album, as opposed to a couple singles and a bunch of filler. The first side is more soulful, the second, more pop. The group and the producers seem reinvigorated here, but the subsequent albums were far inferior to this one.

Love Child (Henry Cosby, Frank Wilson, Pam Sawyer, Deke Richards, R. Dean Taylor) -yes, the R. Dean Taylor of "Indiana Wants Me" fame. Motown session singers The Andantes sing the backup vocals on this song.
Keep an Eye (Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson)- a great song of warranted paranoia; "There used to be three of us seen all over town. Now there's only two. Someone's missing. Guess who?"
How Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone (Sawyer, Wilson) - an Amazon critic says: "a late 60's soul masterpiece, features a killer (and much studied) James Jamerson bass line, and lyrically, tells a compelling story."
Does Your Mama Know About Me (Tom Baird, Tommy Chong) - a cover of the Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers song about interracial love. Yes, that's the Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong on the songwriting credits.
Honey Bee (Keep on Stinging Me) (Janie Bradford, Debbie Dean, Richards) - straight ahead infectious pop. My favorite song because of the bass and background vocals
Some Things You Never Get Used To (Ashford, Simpson) The first single, which only went to #30, oddly. The Andantes sing backup here.
He's My Sunny Boy (Smokey Robinson)- the horns punch up this tune.
You've Been So Wonderful to Me (Anna Gordy Gaye, George Gordy, Allen Story) - lilting pop.
(Don't Break These) Chains of Love (George Beauchamp, Harvey Fuqua, Johnny Bristol) - more towards the MOR Motown was aiming Diana towards.
You Ain't Livin' Till You're Lovin ' (Ashford, Simpson) - a cover of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell's original that I was not familiar with at the time.
I'll Set You Free (Gwen Fuqua, B. Gordy, Ivy Jo Hunter, Renee Tener) - my favorite song from Side 2, with the classic Supremes background vocals.
Can't Shake It Loose (Sidney Barnes, George Clinton, Joanne Jackson, Rose Marie McCoy) Yes, THAT George Clinton, and I don't mean the former governor of New York.
Greg Burgas sent me a mixed disc featuring Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine, the title track of an apparently not very good 1965 movie. And though I own FOUR Supremes collections (two on vinyl, two on CD), I never owned this song, which is on The Supremes Box Set (2000). Thanks., Greg!