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Monday, April 30, 2007

More Music Meme!

Stolen from Tosy because he steals from me.

What was the first recorded music you bought?
Beatles VI from the Capitol Record Club. I got 11 for one cent, but the one I paid for was that one. My sisters, neighbor and I lipsynched to this one. The others: Beatles' Second Album, Beatles '65, Something New-the Beatles, Best of herman's Hermits, Daydream-Lovin' spoonful, Big hits from England and the USA, Goldfinger-Billy Strange. I forget the rest.

What was the last?
David Bromberg - Wanted: Dead or Alive. It features a song called "The Holdup", which also appears on an earlier album, written by Bromberg and some guy named George Harrison.. This version, backed by members of the Grateful Dead, has a mariachi break in the middle.

What was the first "professional" music show you ever went to?
Quite possibly Seals & Crofts, Nov 12, 1971 with the Okie. Love makes you do strange things.

What was the last?
Sean Lennon, April 10, 2007. I even know his birthday: October 9, 1975.

What's your "desert island" album?
Never easy. Revolver (Beatles), I suppose. No, Rubber Soul (Beatles). No wait, Still Crazy after All These Years (Paul Simon). Of course, it has to be Pet Sounds (Beach Boys). What was the question?

What's your favorite album/song title?
Rubber Soul. Makes more sense as a result of some Anthology dialogue.

What's your favorite album art (include an image of it if you can)?
Sgt. Pepper. Often imitated.

Ideal choice for a karaoke song?
Take Me to the River.

Song you don't like that WILL NOT LEAVE YOUR HEAD if you hear it.
My Sharona-the Knack. Dammit. It's mot that I don't like it; it's that I'm embarrassed to like it.

Which is cooler? -- Vinyl? CD? Cassette? 8-track?
Vinyl is definitely "cooler". I never owned an 8-track. Most of my music is on CD.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Oscar-Worthy Movies I Have Seen: 1931-1932

Production (Picture):
"GRAND HOTEL", "Arrowsmith", "Bad Girl", "The Champ", "Five Star Final", "One Hour With You", "Shanghai Express", "The Smiling Lieutenant"
Nada, though I was in the room once when "The Champ" was playing on TV some years ago.

BTW, this guy named Walt Disney won a special award for his four-year-old creation, Mickey Mouse.
I forgot to mention that I appeared in some State University newsletter called The SUNY Watch, dated April 2007:

Your Name: Roger Green
Your Title and Name of Your Office: Information Specialist

Winter Techniques

What winter? The first half was so mild – an average of 12 degrees above normal over a 38-day period in December and January - that I didn't even get into winter survival mode until mid-January. For me, winter is for seeing movies, usually at the Spectrum, usually Oscar nominated films.

I’ve most recently seen, in reverse chronological order, Notes on a Scandal, Volver, The Queen and The Pursuit of Happyness.
My favorite pictures of 2006, though, were Little Miss Sunshine and Stranger Than Fiction, because they both are intelligent, funny, and a little offbeat.


Oscar-Worthy Movies I Have Seen: 1930-1931

Production (Picture):
"CIMARRON", "East Lynne", "The Front Page", "Skippy", "Trader Horn"
Was watching some chunk of "The Front Page" on TCM in the past few years, but not enough that I'd count it.
But wait! There were some interesting films in this period that weren't even nominated: Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich, Dracula with Bela Lugosi, and James Whale's Frankenstein with Boris Karloff were all unnominated. I've seen at least portions of all of them, probably all of City Lights over time, which undoubtedly suffered from being a silent film in the talkies era.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

VOTING Questions

I was reading in Newsweek a couple weeks ago about some (Republican) politician complaining about ex-cons voting. I don't see the problem. I think the ex-cons SHOULD vote. Perhaps:
1) They'll feel more a part of the society as engaged citizens.
2) They'll be able to better suss out the crooks who actually get elected, the Duke Cunninghams, the Bob Neys.

If anything, I'd think we would like to get MORE people to vote. Are people afraid that a bunch of former felons will get together and take over the town? If so, they should get out and register (and vote) themselves.

(Greg noted this story about the White House pursing legal efforts to limit voter turnout. This is not just unjust, it's pathetic.)

I also was interested in the recent French election. Apparently, the top two vote getters, Nicolas Sarkozy, who got 31% in the first round, and Ségolène Royal (26%), will be in a runoff, but the candidate who is reportedly most acceptable (or least unacceptable) to the widest number of people, François Bayrou, came in third (19%), so won't be in the runoff.

So I'm wondering:

1) What restrictions, beyond making sure somebody is of age and actually lives in the district, should there be on voters? I'm against too many restridctions.

2) What can be done to engage more people in the political process? Would Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) or other alternate voting methodologies work? How about voting over several days and/or online?
For free IRV? stickers send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:, 26 Glen Street, Malden, MA 02148. Spread the word and make it stick: IRV; for a better democracy!
Dennis Kucinich, member of Congress and Presidential candidate, has introduced Articles of Impeachment Against Vice-President Richard Cheney. Kindly, Kucinich waited until the the Veep's blood clot was under control to reintroduce the measure.
Bush v. Bush.
Erin Davies makes the best of a bad situation, letting the world see and contemplate the hate speech scrawled on her vehicle. The initial act of vandalism was especially disturbing to me since it happened in my city (Albany), but Erin's reframing is quite intriguing.
What the rains of last week did to the basement of the David Sarnoff Library last week.
Last, but certainly not least, send some love to Kelly and Lefty.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Sometimes, you just get a little down...

The damn home computer has been giving me fits the last three weeks. Initially, I thought it was a faulty Internet connection on the part of Time Warner. I talked to THREE servicepeople, then a fourth actually came to my house. This seemed to fix the problem, briefly, but then it start up again. Finally, with help, I discovered:
1) I have an Internet connection - I can play Internet backgammon - but I can't get to any URLs. I was thinking about reinstalling one of those old AOL discs, except that
2) I'm apparently dangerously low on memory
So, I'd done some blogging - actually a lot a couple weeks ago Saturday - at the library, and wrote all the posts you read so far that week. And I did write a couple things at home in Word for this week. But I find it harder not to go fact checking or finding a picture or adding a link. So, it's made me frustrated.

My very good friend Mark came up from the Mid Hudson (an hour or so south of here) to try to fix the beast, but it became so problematic that he had to take it home with him. So I couldn't even write stuff in Word at home for a few days this past week.

Since I tend to work ahead, it wasn't TOO problematic for the pieces already posted, but it MAY be in the next couple weeks, because my inventory of emergency posts are kaput. Ironic because..well, you'll see.

And, oh, yeah, I also lost my wallet. Trips to the DMV, the library and the bank, calls to the credit card companies, blah, blah. (And it gets more brain-dead than that, but never mind.)

...and then I get a couple lovely e-mails:

From an old friend, to her friend, with a copy to me:

Many adore Roger and his understated but hilarious way. I love his curiosity on oh just about any topic and his librarian-like thoroughness when he riffs on it. Have you been reading his blog? Top ten. Met him probably about 15 years ago now...

And from someone I did a workshop on "Guerrilla Marketing for Librarians" a couple weeks ago:

Hi, Roger! I wanted to thank you again for taking the time to share your expertise and ideas with us yesterday at the meeting. I enjoyed meeting you and really found your presentation to be motivating and inspiring! I am sure others felt the same. Thanks for speaking to the group -- your energy and enthusiasm, mixed with your business know-how, made for a wonderful presentation.

I post these, not to be an egomaniac. (I may be an egomaniac, but that's not why I'm posting them.) I'm posting them to remind myself, when I'm a little blue, that it's OK, I'm OK.

For it was the great ADD who told me, when I started blogging, ""You can't please everyone; you got to please yourself." No, wait, that was the late Rick Nelson. Well, ADD said SOMETHING like that at the time.

And, not that anybody asked, but I was considering moving the bloggy to the Times Union page. I think I decided not to on Easter morning. So now that Mark has returned my computer and it's working again (thanks, effendi!) I can actually work on updating my weblinks, which I'll try to do a little bit every day.
Oh, Jack Valenti, former head of the MPAA, died. I remember my first non-G-rated film, The Night They Raided Minsky's, which was rated M, the forerunner of PG. (I have the soundtrack on vinyl -"Take 10 terrific girls, but only 9 costumes." The movie ratings, which Valenti helped instigate, were imperfect, everyone knows (much kinder about violence, too fussy about the hint of sex, to my mind), but they're still somewhat useful.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Lydster, Part 37: Miss Independence

There was this old commercial for an OTC headache reliever in which a woman of a certain age is trying to assist her teenaged or adult daughter. The younger woman snaps, "Mother, please, I'D RATHER DO IT MYSELF!" (Anyone actually remember the name of the product? I'm thinking Anacin, Bufferin or Excedrin, but I'm not sure.) Anyway, the daughter, after taking the headache remedy, is happy, smiling, working together with Mom.

Now, what, pray tell, does any of this have to do with my lovely, sweet-tempered, cooperative daughter?

Well, I have become aware of the rhythm of the things that she can do herself - or thinks she can - and it is not always prudent to offer assistance at these times. She wants to pick out her clothes, and most of the time, she does, even if her mother would not have selected that particular pair of socks. The only time we try to change her mind is if the clothes might be too warm, or not warm enough - a difficult thing to gauge given that it's below 30 and above 80 in the past week and a half. She can carry things I didn't think she could, and successfully.

Yet, there are times, usually in the beginning of the day, when she's not quite awake, or the end of the day, when the eyelids are drooping, when she wants to be carried downstairs or upstairs, and I try, we try to be sensitive to those nuances.

Lovin' the little girl. Sorry, I've been corrected: BIG girl.
Sometimes, I think I'm the only proud father in the world, even though I know intellectually that's not the case.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Roger's Problem Is That He Has No Opinions

Hope you can read the item above about the cause of global warming.
I was sad to read that writer David Halberstam had died. Probably the only book of his I ever read in toto was 1972's The Best and the Brightest, but it so informed me about VietNam that it was pivotal in my understanding of "wisdom" run amok. I've read large sections of The Powers That Be (1979), one thick book. But I have read, and enjoyed the essays on sports, which may have been excerpted from his many sports books, such as The Breaks of the Game, The Amateurs, and especially Summer of '49, about the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. Halberstam died in a car accident on the way to see Yelberton Abraham Tittle, the former New York Giants' quarterback, for a book about "The Game"; a decade before the Super Bowl, the 1958 Colts-Giants Championship Game helped to "make" the NFL.
Most of the pieces about Boris Yeltsin were about his mixed legacy: "Russians pay respects to flawed hero Yeltsin": Tributes to Yeltsin praised him for taking on and defeating the Soviet establishment, but also noted his shortcomings during his eight years as president - economic turmoil, a disastrous war against rebels in Chechnya and his drink-fuelled gaffes." Somehow reminded me of an American President, Richard Nixon.
I was interested in personal international reactions to the Virginia Tech shootings. Here's one from an expatriate in New Zealand, and, at my request, one from Great Britain/ Someone domestic noted, in response to a comment I made: "People see an Iraq bombing and think, 'Gee that's sad, but not unexpected.' People expect bombing and mayhem in a war zone" but not on a peaceful college campus. OK, sure. But those lives lost are no less horrific to me because they're "expected". (And I suspect those families in Iraq are just as horrified by the loss of their loved ones, and don't think it's "sad, but expected.")
I first heard about the Ken Burns' exclusion of Hispanics in his upcoming WWII documentary from history professor GayProf. Since then, the situation has been rectified, with Burns' support. While hailed as a victory in some circles, I've also read a lot of that "affirmative action/political correctness run amok" rhetoric. I was most struck by this particular passage in GP's piece: "This time, Burns set out to chart the little-discussed Second World War. How often have I said, 'If only somebody would stop and think about that forgotten war!'" In setting himself to be the end-all and be-all on this oft-mined area, I think Burns had a greater responsibly to paint the broadest tableau possible. Off topic: GP, what do you think about this article Commentary: The hypocrisy of repeating the 'w-word'?
Here's an editorial about Kitty Carlisle Hart, more than a panelist on a game show, but New York State's grand doyenne of theatre.
And yet I have nothing pithy to say about the passing of music legend Don Ho?


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Daredevil Omnibus

ADD wrote to me a couple weeks ago:
Hey Roger,
I have a question for you that I just posted to my blog
Let me know if you have any info at all.
Hope all is well!

As I may have mentioned, it was rather strange to see in the pages of the Daredevil Omnibus the pages from FantaCo's Daredevil Chronicles, a magazine I worked on, though Mitch Cohn was the editor. The intrepid Alan David Doane asked me if Marvel had asked permission to appropriate pages directly from the FantaCo publication, and whether they paid the contributors.

The short answer, as far as I know, is no. The long answer is a little more complicated.

When FantaCo put together the X-Men Chronicles, a fanzine about the uncanny mutants edited by me, Marvel was very pleased. SO pleased that they gave us permission to use the Marvel Comics Group strip on the top of the page of the Fantastic Four Chronicles (cover by John Byrne, edited by me) and the Daredevil Chronicles (cover by Miller/Janson, edited by Mitch). In other words, they were licensed products of Marvel. Therefore, my guess is that Marvel believed they had a right to appropriate the DDC for the DD Omnibus, as it was their product, so there was no need to give permission.

Fred Hembeck tells me that Peter Sanderson, whose FantaCo interview of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, appears in the book, was given a copy of the book, according to Sanderson's Quick Stop column. Fred, whose illustration accompanies that interview, is still waiting for his copy. You'd have to ask John Byrne and George Perez whether their Daredevil drawings earned them a copy, or something more.

Incidentally, at least one "independent comics" publisher loathed the DDC, because of the emphasis on Miller and Janson, to the exclusion of the rest of the canon (Wally Wood, e g.). I won't tell you who he is, but you know when the sun or moon temporarily disappears?

I asked Mitch about all of this. He wondered about the copyright issue too when I first mentioned the project to him. I agree with him that would depend on how the copyright was done, which he recalls was all FantaCo except for trademarks owned by Marvel. While he notes that Tom Skulan (the FantaCo owner) might have a case against Marvel, we both would think Marvel would have run it past their legal department before committing to do it. "It's not like they needed that stuff in there," Mitch opined.

You should know that the subsequent Avengers Chronicles, which Mitch edited, and the Spider-Man Chronicles, which was my baby, no longer had the Marvel Comic Group strip. That's because of something that happened, a decision I made, that caused Marvel editor Jim Shooter to call with a profanity-laden tirade that poor Mitch got to hear. But that's a story for another day.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Meme stolen (sorry, recycled) from somewhere

1. Four years ago -- where were you?
Going to see Alison Krauss in concert with my wife. I was pretty convinced by that point that she would never become pregnant. Three months later, she did.

2. What bores you to tears?
Repetitive stuff such as collating groups of paper. assembly line work, which I'd done years ago. Tax preparation.

3. Do you have rhythm?
AND blues.

4. What do you dream about?
Nothing I aspire to.

5. What makes you tremble in fear?

6. Tell us something you've destroyed.
The front lock on the door of my childhood, trying unassemble, then reassemble it.

7. Do you feel in control over your life?
I have a three-year old.

8. How are you feeling?

9. When is the last time you went to the doctor?
Yeah, I'll tell you about that sometime.

10. Ever broken a bone?

11. Ever had surgery?
On my right knee.

12. When is the la st time you were in a hospital?
For myself? Car accident when I was 19.

13. Do like Daylight Savings Time, or should it be gotten rid of?

14. Do you wear a wristwatch?
When I remember.

15. Analog or Digital?

16. What's your favorite game show to watch?
Besides JEOPARDY!? Not watching any currently.

17. What game show would you like to be on?

18. Do you know anyone who has been on a game show?
Well, not personally.

19. What do you think the worst game show is?
As a GAME of skill, it has to be the Mandel show.

20. Bob Barker, Howie Mandel or Alex Trebek?
I always liked Bob Barker, going back to Truth or Consequences.

21. What do you try to stay away from?

22. Are you clumsy or graceful?

23. What is it too late for?
My major league baseball career.

24. What/who was your first love?
Baseball cards.

25. What would you like to take back?
Certain things said.

26. American football: good times or couldn't care less?
Probably the best TV sport.

27. Do you have a favorite sports team?
Varies, though I grew up a NY Giants fan.

28. What's your favorite junk food?

29. What is your fondest memory?
Probably had some musical tie.

30. Does time always kill pain?

31. Are you more likely to yell or give the silent treatment?
Silent, though I've gotten better at just saying it.

32. First kiss?
A girl named Mary, under mistletoe, when I was 13.

33. Underwater swimming or skydiving?
Mediocre swimmmer.

34. Careful as you cross the street or never look both ways?
Always looking, because the drivers aren't.

35. What have you quit?
Organizations that take up too much time.

36. Are you complicated?
Am I?

37. Do you retaliate?
Generally not.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day Dichotomy

I think I finally figured it out.

I've been struggling to figure out why some people are willing to believe in the possibly of global warming, while others seem to be so staunchly from Missouri. And it isn't just a left-right, liberal-conservative, Democratic-Republican thing, though it does have aspects of it.

Well, here's the (cheeky) theory; it's all dependent on how they view the legal system.

Let's take group A, which I'll call Red. Red wants to make sure we lock up all the people who need locking up (not necessarily including their friends). Red is dependent, though often bends, the rule of criminal law which requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Red has doubt, which Red finds reasonable. So, Red doesn't seem to want to do anything until there's total unanimity of opinion. Examples of this thinking: a recent Wall Street Journal op/ed piece, the current administration's position that we can't do anything until China does, the let's sit on our hands position of the EPA that was vacated by the Supreme Court recently.

Then let's take group B, which I'll call Gray. Gray thinks we need sweeping changes, which can often be done with a class-action lawsuit. The rule of civil law requires that only a preponderence of evidence support the position, which is good enough for Gray. Thus, Gray finds the rising temperatures, stranded polar bears and hungry penguins, the increase in severe weather, the disappearing bees, the poor maple seasons to provide a preponderence of evidence of human-generated global warming. Well, maybe not the bees. A leading Republican on this side appeared on the cover of Newsweek recently; notably, he's one of the few who isn't running for President, because he's ineligible.

Regardless, what I loved about this Earth Day/Month was the Step It Up protests all over the country last weekend. "We're not going to join all together in a mass demonstration and waste all of that petrol!" they were saying. "Act locally."

In New York, there's conversation about expanding the bottle bill (five cent deposit on returned soda and beer cans and bottles) that was passed a couple decades ago, to water bottles, sports drinks, bottled iced tea and the like. I'm in favor. The growth of sports drinks and the like was not anticipated when the original law was passed.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Mental Mistake

I made a tactical error this week: I watched, and read far too much about Virginia Tech. There were two episodes of My Name Is Earl listed on my DVR Monday night; it was really Dateline NBC. That Boston Legal on Tuesday? ABC Primetime. Yeah, I COULD have just deleted them, but no, I kept watching. At least I've missed, so far, the controversial airing of some of the material sent to NBC by the killer. Yet I was coming to a conclusion not dissimilar to this one. Which is to say, I do feel for the VT community, and the country as a whole, but I'm struck by how one bomb in Baghdad might well kill two or three dozen people. I wonder if we - I - have become inured because it happens so damn often there.

The shock of VT will subside when the NEXT thing happens - was the Don Imus thing only last week? - only to be brought back in the spotlight by the inevitable lawsuit by some of the families of the last 30 victims. (Meanwhile, whether to lock up the guns or for everyone to be packin' heat is addressed well here.

But the BIGGEST mistake I made this week was going here where one can find the full text of a couple of Cho Seung-Hui's plays. Oddly, it wasn't the plays I found most disturbing, it was the banal dialogue of people. Nasty sniping at each other. "Someone should have turned him in, gotten him therapy" (in fact, they did). Well, you can read it if you want. For some reason, the movie Minority Report came to mind, even though I've never seen it.

Anyway, here's one comment. Please tell me what you think, if you will:

This guy's sick for sure. But he's sick because he killed 30+ people. He's not sick because he wrote weird plays.

As a writer, I find it offensive that so many people say this kid should have been turned into counselors, authorities, school officials, etc. because of something he wrote. Do we really want a society where we judge the content of someone's character based on a creative piece he or she wrote? If your answer is yes, then think of all the books we would have to burn. Think of the great works of the past that we would never read. Forget about Shakespeare's "Hamlet," "Macbeth," or almost anything else by Shakespeare. Forget about Henry James' "Turn of the Screw." We couldn't read "Fahrenheit 451" even though we'd be living in a society sort of like the society in "Fahrenheit 451." And Stephen King? Are you kidding? He's as sick as this guy, if we're judging people based on creative works. The school officials are not to blame. The students are not to blame. The local law enforcement officials are not to blame. This could have happened anywhere, on any campus, in any dorm. That's what makes it so tragic.

I was intrigued, however, how the local media lucked into "the local angle" as poet Nikki Giovanni, who I used to read 20 years ago, taught Cho a couple years ago, but booted him out of class. She spoke at an already scheduled lecture at the University at Albany on Thursday.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Annie Hall

How can I explain why Annie Hall, released 30 years ago this very day, has become a major marker in my life? Why I've seen it at least four times in the theater, and is one of the very first VHS tapes I ever purchased?

*Alvy Singer, Woody Allen's character in the movie, HATES to go to a movie after it started. Me, too. That's partly because I almost sat on someone's lap in a darkened theater, but still.
*When I lived in NYC that summer of '77, I hung out around Washington Square Park.
*Alvy hates Los Angeles; I've never been.
*Paul Simon, of whom I was/am a big fan, made his movie debut as Tony Lacey.
*The cocaine scene in the movie? Definitely plausible.
*Sigourney Weaver made her film debut as "Alvy's date outside theater".
*It informed me that comedy can be intelligent and funny.
*Variety said expand the scene in "Annie Hall" where Woody visits Diane Keaton's family & you've got Meet the Parents. I've met parents; it's almost ALWAYS like that.
*Christopher Walken played Annie's neurotic brother Duane.
*There's a split screen scene where Annie and Alvy discuss their sex life. He: She never wants to have sex, only three times a week. She: He wants to have sex all the time - three times a week. Yup.
*I've been in a relationship where this dialogue took place: "A relationship is like a shark; it has to move forward or it dies. What we have here is a dead shark."
*Film critic John Simon said about it: "Repetitious and aimless as to seem to beg for oblivion". He didn't like Star Wars either.
*I always liked the fact that Diane Keaton's given name was Diane Hall. (In case you were wondering, Woody Allen was Allen Stewart Konigsberg.)
*"You only gave me books with the word 'death' in the title". I relate to this, too.
*I went through an unfortunate period when I said, "La-dee-dah, la-dee-dah." A lot.
*Woody Allen finally got some Oscar love. He was nominated for acting in, directing & writing; he won for the latter 2.
Go see what Fred Hembeck did on April 10. Careful readers of this blog may already know, since he, his family, and I all were together.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bill and Orchid's anniversary

I have friends, good ones, whose birthdays, anniversaries and other significant dates I simply cannot remember. But Bill and Orchid's wedding date I remember, for really dreadful reasons.

Bill Anderson is now a well-regarded inker for a number of comics, some of which are listed here and here and here.

But when I first met him, he was just a (not too annoying) kid who wanted to draw. Eventually, he did some inking for Fred Hembeck, the late Raoul Vezina and others on some FantaCo publications. (Here's one citation - the first item.) He also worked at FantaCo, doing mail order and occasionally working in the store when I worked there in the 1980s.

Don't remember exactly when Bill started going out with Orchid, but I know it was by the time of my friend Norm's 30th birthday some 18 years ago, because every picture I tried to take of them that night involved both of them hiding their faces, as though the camera were going to steal their souls.

After they were engaged, Bill asked me to be in the wedding. The day before the ceremony, Bill, the other groomsmen and I rode downstate for the rehearsal. Somebody, probably I, remembered that the next day was the second anniversary of Oklahoma City bombing and the fourth anniversary of the Waco disaster. What made this slightly creepy was the fact that some pilot and his plane had disappeared. Conspiracy theorists on the radio were speculating that perhaps the plane was in hiding to be launched as a weapon on the anniversary of these two events. I was not, and am not, much of a conspiracy theorist myself, but I admit the plane's disappearance did cause me pause. (Some time later, the plane and its deceased pilot were found crashed into a mountain.) So the guys were in an interesting frame of mind when we got to the church.

Meanwhile, Orchid and her entourage arrived separately. The guys were a few minutes late, but the women about 45 minutes tardy. The priest implored us to be on time the next day for the 3 pm wedding, because there would be a 5 pm church service.

So, the next day, the guys are at the sanctuary in plenty of time. The women were "running a few minutes late", each call explained. The priest, while saying nothing (other than "Where ARE they?", repeatedly), was clearly becoming apoplexic. Finally, around 4:05, the women arrived, and the service began. This was a Catholic service with mass, communion and the like. The priest buzzed through the ceremony in record time, just as the parishioners for the 5 pm service were beginning to file in. I'm pretty sure there were no pictures taken at the church, only at the reception.

So, today, Bill and Orchid celebrate ten years of married bliss, with three kids, still (understandably) occasionally late. We're still in regular contact. Happy anniversary!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Simpsons

I first became aware of Matt Groening through a series of books reprinting the Life In Hell comic strip: Work Is Hell and School Is Hell - the latter cover features a one-eared rabbit writing on the chalkboard repeated, "I must remember to be cheerful and obedient." My favorite, though, was Love Is Hell, part of my off-and-on philosophy at the time.

I was watching The Tracy Ullman Show when this strange, dysfunctional cartoon family came on. The characters reminded me greatly of the Hell characters, and I was instantly drawn in. Then, a couple years later, they got their own show. I watched it fairly religiously for the first eight or nine seasons, not quite so faithfully in the last eight or nine years.

I had never been able to convince my wife that the Simpsons are good, clever. She seemed to find them coarse and crude, which, of course, they are. But there's more to them than that. Finally, I had borrowed a Simpsons DVD of an early season from the library, and my wife caught a Treehouse of Horror segment when Homer reads "The Raven". She LIKED it!

I went to a presentation by a librarian last year who was talking about copyright, and at one point, he ran a segment from the Simpsons that addressed why they couldn't sing Christmas carols that weren't in the public domain. The speaker said that 30-second piece addressed most of the major concerns of copyright law. (It's on this video, starting at about 50 seconds in.)

Just one example of their culture impact: The Rhetoric of Homer Simpson.

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the first appearance of the Simpsons. I may have to pull out my soundtrack, sing along with the musical version of Streetcar Named Desire or "Monorail" or "Baby's on Board." The longest-running animated program, one of the longest running primetime shows PERIOD, has definitely passed the audition, even if Barney still doesn't get it.
Thanks to rain for the last two or three days, Lake 54 almost crested. Actually, we're better off than our next door neighbors, whosee lawn is lower than ours and is still covered with nearly a foot of water. Our basement is damp; theirs is flooded.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Don and Jackie

The thing I got out of the Sunday morning talk shows was that many in Big Media were enablers of Don Imus. On ABC's This Week, host George Stephanoplolous admitted to appearing on the show. On NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert and David Brooks of the New York Times noted their appearances on the show. One of them mentioned that high-profile media and politicians were happy to get that demographic of mostly young people who don't watch the traditional news or attend political rallies. Apparently, the conversation within NBC over the "correct response" to Imus' comments was rather intense; next week's TV Guide suggests that Al Roker's "it could have been my daughter" speech held the day. Brooks was self-admittedly being disingenuous when he claimed that he didn't know what was on the Imus show, except for his own segment. Given that both Time and Newsweek had cover stories on in the late 1990s, this perhaps seems not credible.

But as the conversations inevitably headed in the "Who can say what?" territory, I did find a bit of possible, albeit lame evidence. Some folks noted that politicians have embraced rappers who have used the same kind of language. It is true for me that I don't listen to a lot of rap, specifically because of the lyric content that denigrates women, lifts up thuggery and dismisses education; I hear it, and I turn it off. I'd be hard pressed to identify any rapper to a specific song since the early 1990s, save for a few that were so popular or so controversial that I couldn't help but to know. And yes, I know that other music can be misogynistic and that not all rap is.

This, it has occurred to me that with a three-year old, I'm going to have to start listening to more music and radio that I don't particularly enjoy, if only to be in touch with the messages she may be subjected to. That's what PBS' Gwen Ifill does for her seven-year-old goddaughter, she noted on Meet the Press. Eh. I haven't listened to Imus since he was a local DJ in the 1970s, though I certainly knew his rep.

I also got specifically annoyed with George Will on ABC, who though one of the Rutgers players as harmed for life as disingenuous. I don't think he understands the context: denigrated initially, then denigrated again for, in the minds of some, getting Imus fired, receiving hate mail and threats. A 20-year old feeling threatened is not the advancement of the "victim market."

Sunday, of course, was also the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first major league appearance. Some 200 players, managers and coaches were wearing Robinson's number 42, which had been retired a decade earlier. (Unfortunately, a goodly number of east coast games, which were free on cable just for the weekend, were postponed because of the rain, but I did enjoy seeing the commercials on FSN South and especially FSN Bay area - what is that store logo that looks like SpongeBob SquarePants?) I found the tributes, especially the pregame before the Dodgers-Padres matchup on ESPN, when Jackie's widow Rachel was given an award by the baseball commisioner, to be surprisingly moving.

My wife asked if anyone had made a link between Don Imus and Jackie Robinson. Actually, ABC News did, as it named Jackie Robinson its Person of the Week, noting that much had been accomplished, but with much more to be done. Oh, and I discovered that Rachel Robinson's birthday is July 19, 1922 - looking very spry - while Don Imus' is July 23, 1940.

Oh, BTW, GayProf, guess which one of the 16 baseball teams of the 1940s and 1950s was the last to integrate? (Answer is within the labels to this post.)
My prayers to the Virginia Tech community, and to us all.


Monday, April 16, 2007

My Mind Is Very Balanced, But a Little Cluttered

Brain Lateralization Test Results
Right Brain (52%) The right hemisphere is the visual, figurative, artistic, and intuitive side of the brain.
Left Brain (50%) The left hemisphere is the logical, articulate, assertive, and practical side of the brain
Are You Right or Left Brained?
personality tests by

Your Mind is 58% Cluttered

Your mind is starting to get cluttered, and as a result, it's a little harder for you to keep focused.
Try to let go of your pettiest worries and concerns. The worrying is worse than the actual problems!

And speaking of a cluttered mind, Fred Hembeck told me last week that he remembers the first FantaCon, a comic book convention run by the store I eventually worked at in the '80's, coincided with the death of Vivian Vance, Lucille Ball's sidekick in three TV shows, in August 1979.

Maybe Fred's just excited about getting a call from SpongeBob SquarePants! REALLY! Read all about it here. I wish someone had captured the conversation in a podcast.

Speaking of podcasts, I listened to my very first one just last week, when Gordon answered a bunch of questions, one or two of which were asked by me. I'm sure I'll be doing one soon - maybe by 2011.

Here's something I didn't know until recently: Kurt Vonnegut worked at GE in Schenectady years ago. Here's a news story and an editorial in the local paper on that point. The former begins: "When Kurt Vonnegut's mercurial recurring character and alter ego, Kilgore Trout, took his own life in 2004 by drinking Drano, the character did it in Cohoes."

Hey, Tosy, the guest critic on Ebert and Roeper this week is John Mellencamp!


Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Dinner with Hembecks

I'm pretty sure it started with a March 2 e-mail from Fred Hembeck to me and to our mutual friend Rocco, who also lives in Albany: "Lynn (Moss, Fred's wife) just informed me that Sean Lennon is going to be performing at the Egg on Tuesday, April 10th--tickets are currently being offered to Egg members only (only fair that Egg men have the advantage when it comes to a Lennon, I suppose...), but the general public get their chance starting on March 12th. Seeing as how tickets are going for only $24--and that Sean's new album has gotten mostly positive reviews (I haven't gotten a copy yet, tho when I saw him on Conan about a month or so back, I was pretty impressed by his performance--and I WILL be getting a copy soon, given the new set of circumstances), we're thinking about driving up to see the concert. Hey, it's either this, or Zak Starkey and his band, and Who tickets are way more expensive! As you fellows--and your lady friends--actually live in Albany, I thought I'd check in with you and see if either of you have any potential interest in joining us?"

We mulled it over. Rocco evidently decided against, and my wife was likewise disinclined, as she hadn't heard any of his music. Well, I hadn't heard any of his music either, except for It's Alright, when he appeared on an album of cover versions of his mother's songs called Every Man Has a Woman.

But if Fred, Lynn, and their daughter Julie were going to drive a couple hours to Albany to see Sean, how could I say no? (Fred and I discussed this later: the fact that THEY initiated the activity made it easier to go without Carol. I wouldn't have considered inviting them up, for logistical reasons having to do with the child, but since they were coming up anyway...)

So, they ordered the tickets, and then Fred sent me copies of both of Sean's albums. I discovered that I liked them both quite a bit, though some of the lyrics were a bit of a downer, I thought.

So, now I'm psyched, Fred and Lynn are psyched, Julie's psyched.

Next order of business was to figure out the logistics. They would pick me up from work (faster than the irregular bus service from Corporate Woods), and we would go out to dinner. The initial request was for a place with a decent vegetarian menu, but was later modified to a vegan place, for Julie's gone vegan.

On the day of the show, Fred writes: We'll leave here at 3:15.
We'll call you on Julie's cell phone when we arrive!
We'll eat!!
We'll go to the concert!!!

I get picked up, and I hear the dulcet tones of Rod Stewart, Julie's current obsession. At least it was Rod back he was good. We eat at Mamoun's Falafel, which was satisfying to all. We drive to the Egg. (The Albanian forgets the fastest approach to the underground parking, and we go on a mild excursion.)

We get to the concert. Our seats are in the fourth row, not too from the center aisle. This is a very intimate setting to see a show. The great thing about the Egg is that there aren't many really bad seats. But we had an excellent location, about 30 feet from at least one performer in every set.

First up is Kamila Thompson, daughter of the legendary Richard and Linda Thompson. She's wearing this attractively funky outfit, a fairly short blue dress with some sort of red print, a black sweater, black Capri pants and light colored high heels (Pink? Peach? Hard to tell with the lighting). There were so many power chords all over the floor that I thought she might trip over something.

She had a quite lovely voice, though not all of her songs, mostly about love and loss, were all that compelling. They seemed a bit pedestrian. A few riffs on her pink guitar, which she did not, she assures us, get from Hello Kitty, were rather tasty. She wanted people to go to her MySpace page; one of her MySpace friends, BTW, is Sean Lennon, I later discovered.

After as short break, Women & Children came out. There was but one woman, Cheryl, who sounded as though she had a cold and/or allergies (I sympathize). Her voice, for some reason, reminded me a little of Marianne Faithfull, circa Broken English. She did one song with her at the keyboards, then a guy comes out to play bass on the next song; he eventually plays guitar. The first drummer ends up on bass, and a second drummer eventually appears. A reviewer described them as being like Velvet Underground, and I guess that's accurate. The real problem is that no one wanted to hear them. One opening act was OK; two strained the patience of this largely middle-aged audience; it IS a work night. No fewer than three people I knew and saw during the second, fairly lengthy intermission said that W&C "sucked"; so did the Metroland reviewer. I didn't think so, but the vocals were thin, and the 40-minute set seemed interminable.

Finally, there's Sean and his band, all in suits, except for the woman on the keyboards, his musical director. I think that familiarity with his music helped my appreciation of the tunes. But as Sean acknowledged onstage, he knew that most of the people in that room had no idea what his music sounded like; while he never used the B word, he knew there were people there just because he was a "son of a Beatle". I got the sense that he's made peace with that. He introduced one song, and one woman near the front clapped; he dedicated the song to her.

Most of the songs he played early on sounded not unlike the albums, but as the show progressed, I heard some pleasant variations on the theme. He played at least one new song. Sean was very good, the band was tight, and it was an enjoyable experience.

Well, except for the one loudmouth somewhere near the back. Three or four times he shouted out stuff, and except for the first one, "Listen to What The Man Said!" (a McCartney tune! har, har!), it was incomprehensible to Sean and to me. Eventually, security people invited him to leave . Also, there were flash pictures being taken during Kamila's set, after which a guy from the Egg asked that no more be shot, not just for legal reasons, but because at least one person in the audience was having a bad physical reaction to the strobelight effect of the flashes. I noticed none during W&C, but plenty during Sean's set.

I'm sure Fred, when he gives his Rashomon version of the event for his Quick Step column next week, will describe a post-concert purchase.

They dropped me off, then headed off on their two-hour ride home. I'm tempted to say, "A splendid time was had by all," but I'll pass. Thanks to Fred, Lynn and Julie for the invitation.
Jackie Robinson played with the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time 60 years ago today.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

1st and 16th Amendments QUESTIONS

1. There's been a lot of discussion about the rules of engagement on blogs and whether removing inappropriate comments is censorship. Initially, I think, the rules of engagement should be common decency, and if someone puts something inappropriate on the comments on this blog - and I alone get to decide what that is - then I will. But then , I came across a ning called Stop Cyberbullying, and I recognize cyberbullying can be disruptive in the victims' lives. So I thought, maybe there SHOULD be some sort of rules of engagement. It may be like the speed limit, where many/most people drive over it, but maybe it'll keep some people from doing 70 in a 35 m.p.h. zone.
So, do we need rules of engagement in cyberspace? What would it look like? And who gets to enforce them?

2. Paying taxes this weekend. Again. I suppose we could take fewer deductions, but then the government would have my money longer. I'm not always thrilled with the use. I can support a national defense, but not so much lucrative contracts to the Betchtels of the work that take the money and do shoddy or no work. I'm glad my taxes pay for schools, libraries (well, yeah), feeding the poor, clothing the hungry. Not so keen on the government executing people in my name.
So, if one could pick and choose: what taxes would you gladly pay, and which ones make you pause?
(Picture from
And while I'm in the question mode, a couple speculative modes about TV:
1. If Fred D. Thompson actually runs for President, will the networks that carry his various Law & Order shows have to broadcast only those episodes in which he does not appear? Otherwise, won't his political opponents make a claim for equal time?

2. On last week's Boston Legal, a very pregnant Denise (Julie Bowen) accepted a wedding proposal from the father of the child, Brad (Mark Valley). But in the preview for the next episode, Shirley (Candice Bergen) seems to suggest that Julie should not marry Brad. Is she saying that this single professional woman go it alone with her baby, a la Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen)?


Friday, April 13, 2007

Underplayed Vinyl: Steppenwolf

One of my favorite albums from my high school days, the first Steppenwolf album, was the best of the group's output. The fact that I had not read Herman Hesse did not diminish my enjoyment.
1. Sookie Sookie - a song by soul singer/songwriter Don Covey, who wrote Aretha's hits See Saw and Chain of Fools. The second single from the album, it failed to chart. It's funky, in a rock sort of way.
2. Everybody's Next One - a pleasant rocker about sex.
3. Berry Rides Again - rock and roll, with great Berryesque guitar riffs, and a piano that borrows from Berry's pianist, johnny Johnson. Cops many of his terms, like "Johnny B. Goode" or "Roll Over Beethoven".
4. Hootchie Kootchie Man - bluesy cover of the Willie Dixon song, as good as any of the Led Zeppelin blues covers
5. Born to Be Wild - interesting that song got buried this deep into the album. The third single WAS the charm, as it ended up going up to #2 on the charts. Possibly the song least reflective of the rest of the album. "Heavy metal thunder", indeed. Became THE biker anthem when it was used in the movie Easy Rider.
6. Your Wall's Too High - slow rock tune that changes rhythms ends side one.
7. Desperation - organ-driven rhythm and blues styling that has a feel of the title
8. The Pusher - the other song by the group that shows up in Easy Rider. Sonically, it's more in keeping with the rest of the album than the hit, with those very creepy chords. A gripping take on the song by Hoyt Axton, who also wrote Greenback Dollar and Three Dog Night's Joy to the World.
9. A Girl I Knew. The first single, a commercial dud. Starts and ends with a lovely harpsichord, in contrast to the louder tunes on the album.
10. Take What You Need - straight ahead bluesy rock
11. The Ostrich - my favorite song on the album, the political/ecological rocker. This song is a precursor to the even more didactic (and longer) title cut on Steppenwolf's Monster album.
We'll call you when you're six years old
And drag you to the factory
To train your brain for eighteen years
With promise of security
But then you're free
And forty years you waste to chase the dollar sign
So you may die in Florida
At the pleasant age of sixty-nine

The water's getting hard to drink
We've mangled up the countryside
The air will choke you when you breathe
We're all committing suicide
But it's alright
It's progress folks keep pushin' till your body rots
Will strip the earth of all its green
And then divide her into parking lots

But there's nothing you and I can do
You and I are only two
What's right and wrong is hard to say
Forget about it for today
We'll stick our heads into the sand
Just pretend that all is grand
Then hope that everything turns out ok

You're free to speak your mind my friend
As long as you agree with me
Don't criticize the fatherland
Or those who shape your destiny
'Cause if you do
You'll lose your job your mind and all the friends you knew
We'll send out all our boys in blue
They'll find a way to silence you


The first Steppenwolf is the bluesiest of the groups's albums and has made, if not my 10 island albums, a top 25 list. Not so incidentally, yesterday was lead singer John Kay's 63rd birthday. Kay and his mother fled from Soviet-occupied East Germany to West Germany when he was four, and ended up in Canada in 1958. Kay joined a blues band in Toronto called The Sparrows in 1965, which had been formed the year before with a different lead singer. The group moved to San Francisco in 1967, changed their sound somewhat, and got the recording contract that led to this album.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Here Now the News

One Fred G (for Generous) Hembeck passed this on to me: Rupert Murdock's New York Post front page from yesterday. I don't remember which of these many characters in Anna Nicole Land this Larry is, but the picture is worth posting anyway.
He (Fred, not Larry) may be featured in another post in the near future.
Meanwhile, I was watching ESPN last night when the crawl made mention of two stories:
Men exonerated in rape charge - oh, yeah, the Duke lacrosse team members.
Don Imus suspended by his network - oh, yeah, for dissing the Rutgers women's basketball team.
Interesting how, in some way or another, race, gender, class and power all played into both "sports" stories.
I read that Google Earth is mapping the atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan. Thought I'd look for it myself, but absentmindedly used Google Maps instead. I discovered something quite curious. There's a Darfur, Minnesota 56022, about 130 miles southwest of St. Paul.
However you feel about the war in Iraq - and I've made myself quite clear on this in the past - there's something really unsettling about the Defense Dept. extending the tours of duty of US soldiers by 25%. It has me worried about what happens if/when another war breaks out; also, the "bait and switch" seems patently unfair to the soldiers and their families.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MOVIE REVIEW: The Namesake

The wife and I got to go to the movies on Good Friday. After going to an Indian-Pakistani buffet, we went to a movie at the Spectrum about a Bengali family from India. It was made by Mira Nair, who made the charming 2002 film Monsoon Wedding, as well as the entertaining 1992 interracial romance Mississippi Masala. we had been looking forward to seeing this picture, having seen the previews a number of times in the winter movie-going period.

Nair's new film, The Namesake, though it also contains a wedding, paints with a broader palate. This is both the movie's strength and weakness. Its most positive attribute is that it is a movie of scope, covering this Indian couple who come to the United States and raise a couple American kids who are less than enamored with the old traditions. The name of the male child is an important part of the story. The problem is that some segments are far weaker than others, and both Carol and I got impatient at times.

I find I almost entirely agree with the reviews, both positive AND negative.
(NEGATIVE) The episodic structure grows rather rambling over two hours.
(POSITIVE) The movie might be perceived as being a little slow but it's surprisingly engrossing, and the occasional bits of humor are welcome and in keeping with the tone of the entire piece.
(POSITIVE) It'll make you want to a) book a holiday to India and b) call your mother.
(POSITIVE) Sprawling but affecting family drama, marked by sensitive direction and fine performances.
(POSITIVE) A rich, if not completely satisfying, pleasure.
and especially this one
(POSITIVE) The Namesake takes in a lot of territory, and at times is too diffuse, too attenuated. But the actors are so expressive that they provide their own continuity. They transport us to a realm of pure feeling.

Ultimately, it's worth it to see "Kal Penn [have] something more substantial on his resumé than Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies." Days after seeing the film, the characters still resonate with us, especially the parents. It is another worthwhile film by Mira Nair about the immigrant experience.
Got this e-mail about a new animated film from an adoption group participant and wanted to know if anyone has seen the film - I haven't - and if so, if he or she thinks the comments in the letter below are valid:

We feel that it is important to warn you about a Disney movie called "Meet the Robinsons" that is now playing at many local cinemas. The advertising for this animated feature makes it sound like a great movie for any young child. Fortunately, one of our adoptive parents alerted us about the negative adoption messages in the story and the very unhappy experience she had with both of her children who were very greatly disturbed by the messages conveyed in this film. As a result, I went to
see the film to decide if it warranted putting out an alert to our adoptive parent community. Indeed, I thought that the concerns raised were completely valid.
The movie is filled with extraordinarily inappropriate messages about adoption. The basic story is about an adorable baby whose birth mother leaves him on the doorstep of an orphanage. Portrayed as loving, sweet, extremely smart and overly appealing, he spends the next 12 years of his life wanting a family and being turned down by one family after another - in all, 114 couples refuse to adopt him. One scene shows a prospective dad losing interest in adoption because this very smart little boy is
more interested in science than sports. The prospective parents leave the disappointed child in a huff when he accidentally splatters them with some liquid from his science project. This is supposed to be funny.
Since no one else wants him, the child invents a time machine in order to go back in time to find his birth mother. The "bad guy" in his time travel journey turns out to be his best buddy from childhood, once his orphanage roommate. Now an emotional wreck resulting from being left behind when the orphanage was closed and shut down, the once-cute orphan is now mean and devious. Another chuckle. Various monsters attack the child as he continues his birth mother search. You get the picture!
I found "Meet the Robinsons" to be both tasteless and totally insensitive regarding adoption issues. Please think very carefully before taking your child to see it, whether adopted or not. I will write the Disney Corporation to let them know about my concerns about their flippant way of dealing with issues that are extremely important and not funny for millions of adoptees and their families in this country and around the world.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Be Selfish

Someone (I thought it was Lefty, but I could be wrong) wrote down his or her personal mission statement, as it were, about who that person is. I'm thinking something along the lines of the famous What I Believe by Steve Martin, or maybe My Conviction from the Broadway musical Hair, a statement of beliefs. And since my birthday passed last month, now's a good a time as any for mine.

Be selfish.
If you can't find a good reason to do good, find a selfish one.
Don't lie, not because it's morally wrong, but because it's just too inconvenient to keep track of.
Shovel your walk, clean up your property, not because it's the neighborly thing to do, but you don't want a summons from the city or a lawsuit.
Give blood for the free cookies.
Be a courteous driver because, if you end up in an accident, the paperwork alone will negate the time you saved running the red light.
Let people off the bus before you get on, because there will then be more room for you.
Be selfish. For everyone's sake.

I need more, but that's a first pass.
BTW, the picture was inspired by someone - OK, Lefty's wife - who takes a word, puts it in Google, and posts the image; the word here, of course, is selfish. The picture came from here. I don't get it, but it's so interesting that I couldn't resist.

Lefty reviews my Mixed CD. I think he liked it, but I'm not sure.
Tosy accepts my mild tag.
Spatula Formula, Nik's "ramblings of an American expatriate in New Zealand", turns three. Happy blogiversary.
Did I mention I'm seeing Sean Lennon tonight? A review, eventually.

Monday, April 09, 2007

So I'm a Tree Hugger: Wanna Make Somethin' Of It?

This is one of those things I got from Jaquandor who was practically apologetic about posting it, even though he thought it was pretty accurate. Well, I think this one's pretty reflective of me, too.
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Social Nerd

You're interested in things such as politics, psychology, child care, and peace. I wouldn't go so far as to call you a hippie, but some of you may be tree-huggers. You're the type of people who are interested in bettering the world. You're possible the least nerdy of them all; unless you participate in other activities that paled your nerdiness compared to your involvement in social activities. Whatever the case, we could still use more of you around. ^_^

Drama Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Literature Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Johnny Hart died this weekend, apparently having a stroke while at his drawing board. I've long had mixed feelings about him. On one hand, growing up in Binghamton, Broome County, NY, not only did I read the strips B.C. and later The Wizard of Id for years, but I knew that Johnny Hart was from the area, a source of parochial local pride. The B.C. Open golf tournament, named for both the strip and the county, was aided by Hart, a big deal for the region. To this day, the early Wizard of Id joke, "The peasants are revolting!"/"They certainly are" produces an embarrassed chuckle; I always heard the king's line in the voice of Henny Youngman or Rodney Dangerfield.
Eventually, though, I seemed to outgrow the strip at a point when Hart's overt, and occasionally controversial, religiosity would creep into the strip.

Was this panel offensive to Islam? Was it supposed to be? To the latter point, I don't know, and my homer mentally says I hope not.
Mark Evanier's observations about Hart.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Lent's Over Already?

At my current church, we used to have an associate pastor who I really liked. He was a pleasant person, but he described himself as a Lenten kind of guy. I think I can relate.

Easter's great: Christ is risen, the core of the Christian faith. Yet, it is the period before Easter that somehow has always caused me more pleasure. Maybe it was the reflective nature, not so much the "giving up"" something, as I learned it in my childhood, but rather the taking on of something, whether it be a devotional or trying to think more of others.

Lenten music is also better than Easter music.

I found that I have agreed with George W. Bush, not once but twice this Lenten season - no, this is not an April Fools joke - and it was essentially based on him acting in what I would consider a Lenten manner.

One time as when he apologized for the dreadful conditions in parts of Walter Reed Hospital. You can see this as political expediency, and maybe it was, but I found it refreshingly different from his Decider mode.

The other time was when he participated in the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, when he essentially apologized for the indignities endured by these black fliers: "I would like to offer a gesture to help atone for all the unreturned salutes and unforgivable indignities."

Of course, announcing my W support, in this limited context, at the Y, which was an attempt to show that even he isn't all bad, merely helped crystalize the differences I had with another over foreign policy, which was not the intent of the comment, and I regretted the tone the conversation ended up taking..

More Lenten reflection is needed, I guess.
Meanwhile, Good Friday service did not go well for me. I sang what I could, which was probably not much above an A below middle C. But by the fifth moment in the DuBois, I felt the need to cough uncontrollably. I stifled it as much as possible, then left at the end of the movement. Since I'm near the middle of the choir loft, there's no way to do this unobtrusively, but I went out a side door that leads to the outside, came in another door, and listened to the rest of the service.
This event was:
*depressing - you work to learn the piece then you can't sing it
*irritating - the body fails me
I put my robe away, with about a dozen people saying, "Are you all right?" Well, apparently OK for talking, but not for singing. I left before talking to at least three old friends from my former church choir. (Sorry, Bob, Holly and Kathy.) I caught a bus home. The one good thing about is that was that I literally put out a fire someone had started in the bus kiosk.


Saturday, April 07, 2007


I saw this article a while back: "According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average home has 26 consumer electronics devices — anything ranging from a radio to a PDA." The writer decides the cellphone is the most important item he owns and would be the leasst likely to give up. Also, I read in Parade magazine this article in which the cellphone is on the Top 10 of the Most UNWanted Inventions.

So what devices do you have? What do you need? What would you give up? What would you couldn't live without?

I have no cellphone, but I do have a phone that I can remove from the base, something my wise parents-in-law bought for us just after Lydia was born. Its best feature, though, is the homing device at the base which I push to find it. (I 'd love that for the remote on the DVR.)

Have a DVR. Don't NEED the DVR. I do like the DVR, a lot actually. Still have the VCR, which is good because I still have a bunch of VHS tapes, which the child watches on occasion.

I have a stereo with a turntable that's in need of repair. The turntable operates only when I spin it manually, then it catches. I also have a 78 player in the attic in need of a cartridge. (Yes, I have 78s. No, I'm not THAT old. I was living in an apartment building, and the nice old ladies who lived upstairs gave them to me when we all got thrown out of the building so the landlords could renovate and go upscale.)

For me, I suppose, my technology keeper has become the computer. I communicate with it (e-mail and blog), I watch stuff on it (videos, though rarely), I listen to music on it (well, the one at work), I keep track of my schedule with those Windows pop-ups. I could watch TV on it, and did, a little, for college basketball.

What says you?


Friday, April 06, 2007

Not Such a Good Friday

I'm sitting in the choir loft last night, listening to the Passion reading from Luke as the lights get lower and lower, and suddenly get a vivid sensation about why I so oppose the death penalty: the execution of the innocent. It was a point I had reached intellectually before, but this was a more visceral understanding that I'm not sure I can explain.

In any case, I'm still feeling rather awful. Looking at computer screens is particularly not recommended, because everything looks fuzzy. So, I'll be brief:

Thanks to Gordon for answering one of my questions,. One down, about a dozen to go. Microsoft Paint, eh?

Thanks to Scott for embracing his 2003-ness and citing me as the inspiration.

Congrats to Gay Prof for not having to go back to Texas, but will instead be at BMU.

Thanks to uberblogger Mark Evanier for posting a video AFTER I DID. This pleases me, and I'm not sure why. And thanks to Dan for sending it to me in the first place.

Thanks to Lefty's Mixed CD pals, even Greg, and to little Stevie Brown, Lefty's intelligent iPod.

Special thanks to ol' what's his name who I spoke to by phone yesterday for the first time in a while.

I'm going to rest most of the day so that I can try to sing tonight. I had about a six-note range last night, mostly in the lower register. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


You know how a tune can get stuck in your head, in all likelihood. One of my racquetball buddies has a sibling who was on The Price is Right. Guess which theme song I started whistling, and quite well, I might add?

But sometimes these things come to mind for no discernible reason. What on earth lodged "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family in my brain? I seldom watched the show, I never owned any of their music, and I hadn't heard it recently, at least consciously. (Was it background music in a store or a telephone hold button?) So I'm suddenly dissecting the amazingly bizarre rhyming pattern of a song that I don't especially like:
So what am I so afraid of
Afraid that I'm not sure of
A love there is no cure for
(If this is wrong, I don''t really need to know; that's how I remember it.)

I bring this up because I need new tune suggestions. Mr. Lefty Brown, as mentioned before, has sent me a year-long subscription to his favorite music site, eMusic. This means 15 songs a month for 12 months to download. So I ask you: what tunes do I want, that I really, really want? Can be old or new. I'm planning to use the thing as soon as I pull out my chainsaw so that I can liberate it from the industrial strength plastic cover that it's encased in.
Meanwhile, I've been thing about TV. Not so much about watching it; I'm actually watching less, because there have been a string of repeats on lately. But weird Thoughts, with apologies to Kelly Brown, who I think is somehow related to Lefty.
*Why do they have 42-minute programs, such as the wacky NBC lineup next Thursday? Is this to confound me? And if they do, why do they invariably run long, so that I need to tape the next program as well?
*Why hasn't Katie Couric caught on? It isn't just because she came from morning news/talk shows. Tom Brokaw was on NBC's Today Show, while Charles Gibson spent two shifts on ABC's Good Morning America. Is it gender? Maybe. It's true Couric's interview with Elizabeth Edwards and her husband John on 60 Minutes was rather weird, mostly because she said, "some people say" about a dozen times, thus trying to be hard-hitting, yet nice. Meanwhile, Cynthia McFadden's Nightline interview with Elizabeth Edwards and her elder daughter this week seemed genuine.
*I'm feeling a tad nostalgic. I looked at the TV Guide, and next week features series premieres, season premieres, mid-season premieres, and season finales. Can anyone really keep track? All I want to know is when does The Closer start up with new episodes, And I can't figure that out, even when I go to the website.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Film Music: "Real" Music?

I've been reflecting on the whole conversation about whether movie music is "real" music (as opposed, I suppose, to "just reel music"). I'm sure both Tosy and Jaquandor have weighed in on this, but I'm too lazy to check where.

In any case, I started thinking about this when I went to the Albany Symphony back on March 25. I was supposed to go with my wife, but she was still suffering the effects of oral surgery. so I ended up going with my father-in-law to this American music series concert. The first half was contemporary composers, and the second was listed as by Hermann. I thought, "Hmm, I don't know an American composer named Hermann." Then I read the notes: oh, BERNARD Hermann, the composer for movies. I too was biased about thinking of a composer for movies as a composer.

The performance, mostly of music written prior to his movie career, was wonderfully lush. The concert ended with the overture for one of the movies he scored, North by Northwest. It stood up well without the visuals of the movie. Here's the article Hidden Herrmann: ASO resurrects movie music master's works from obscurity from the local paper.

Somehow, this got me to start thinking about Elmer Bernstein. I've long been aware of how effective his "serious" music is, never put to better effect, I think, than in "Animal House". If it weren't for wonderful juxtaposition of his artistry with the hijinks of the characters, I don't think the movie would not be nearly as funny. Likewise, his music for Airplane! lends a mock seriousness to the proceedings, one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Separate from the films, though, and it works as well as fine listening. Next time you watch either one or any of the other comedies he's scored, listen for the "background music" as music.

I note this today because would have been Elmer Bernstein's 85th birthday; he died back in 2004. I think it's too bad I can't separate his, well, magnificent theme for the Magnificent Seven from the tune's use as a Marlboro commercial, something I can still hear and see in my head, even though President Nixon signed legislation banning TV and radio ads back in April 1970, effective January 1971.
MLK, Jr. was assassinated 39 years ago today. Since he was 39 when he died, that was now nearly a whole (short) lifetime ago.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pieces of April

This is what I have going on for the next month:
1. Take Lydia for her physical today.
2. Participate in the Maundy Thursday service at my church service, and rehearse for Good Friday.
3. Go to the Capital Area Council of Churches ecumenical Good Friday service, also at my church.
4. Participation in the Good Friday service. We're singing The Seven Last Words of Christ by Theodore DuBois. Please come if you're in the area. The soloists are great and the organ part is very dramatic. Hope my voice comes bck; currently, I have laryngitis, probably from seasonal allergies.
5. Easter Sunday service. No wonder some choir directors refer to to this, ironically, as hell week.
6. April 10 - As mentioned, I'm going to see a scion of a rock legend. Sean Lennon at the Egg.
7. April 11 - I was asked do to this just yesterday: talk to a bunch of librarians about guerrila marketing.
8. April 18 - I am taking a CPR course. Also donating blood for the 120th time.
9. Thursday, April 19, 7 pm. writers Christopher Ringwald and Amy Biancolli will be speaking at the Albany Public Library, main branch, sponsored by the Friends of the Albany Public Library. He writes on religion and philosophy, she writes movie reviews for a Houston newspaper, but is syndicated nationally. BTW, they're married. Since I'm in charge of the event, if you're in the area, please, PLEASE come. It's free. I just want folks to come.
10. Friday, April 19. Carol and I are going to the Symphony! A world premiere based on William Kennedy's new book, Roscoe.
11. A work conference in Utica at the end of the month. Not only do I need to prepare my share of the library presentation, but I'm also writing the questions for a JEOPARDY! segment of another prrsentation. That's 61 questions, in 12 categories plus the final.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

Also, I must drink lots of water. This is based on an incident on Friday. I've finally gotten my bicycle out, on Wednesday. This involves putting the bike on the bus to day care; riding the 2.6 miles to the Y to play racquetball - by taking the bike, I actually got there 20 minutes sooner than I would have if I had taken the bus; playing racquetball (for over an hour -yay!), then taking the bike to the bus stop (another quarter mile), take the bike on the bus to Corporate Woods to work. I had to leave early to get my Internet connection fixed, so I get the bike to put on the bus to town, ride the bike to the bank and then home (1.6 miles+); then, after the cable guy comes, go to another bank to get a bus pass and back (maybe a mile each way). Then about two hours later, get the most painful cramp I've ever experienced in my life, noit in my calf, which I've had before, but in my left inner thigh. Utterly excrutiating, and wouldn't go away until after three glasses of water, some Motrin and 15 minutes.

Re: the cable guy, I need to con my friend Mark to come up and help me install a couple things on my computer, not the least of which is more memory.

Meanwhile, I want to be more current with the newspaper. I've been almost constantly a week behind, reading about our local Extreme Makeover: Home Edition family in Colonie, which will be broadcast as the season finale next month. This is a show I've actually never seen, but I'll probably catch this one.
There was also Dan Savage movie review of a couple weeks ago that I just read in Metroland: "Have you seen 300 yet? It's about a handful of lightly armed ancient Greeks—the Spartans—who take on the mighty and massive Persian army. Some feel the film is homophobic; some feel it's a conservative, pro-war piece of agitprop.
Homophobic? It's Ann Coulter on a meth binge."

I'm looking forward to listening to lots of Emmylou Harris and Marvin Gaye, since their birthdays were yesterday, as well as hearing some Richard Thompson, Willie Dixon, and assorted others.

Finally watched this video that's been sent to me TWICE so far, so if I post it, I won't get it again: - The Apple iRack

Plus the usual stuff. So it'll be a busy month. And May will be equally so. I almost never wish my life away, but I'm REALLY looking forward to mid-June.

Florida beat Ohio Stste, and I fell from 1st to 4th in my pool. At least I picked out There's No Such Website on the first try.