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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Who You Callin' A.... QUESTION

Ebony magazine has a July 2007 cover story, stories, actually, in which it proclaims that it "engages Black America in an honest examination of race, language and the culture of disrespect." It's interesting, because in the time I've been reading Ebony, and it's been, off and on, since I was a kid, this is the first time in a very long time that the magazine has provided multiple stories on one topic. Throughout, there was a timeline of race and language, then a series of articles. Worth reading, at least in the library.

The one piece that intrigued me the most is the one that suggests that there are thinks a member of the tribe can say that an outsider (say, a white male like Don Imus talking about black women) cannot. There's a guy of Polish descent who I've played racquetball with, and he has occasionally provided himself with an ethnic slur that I would never say myself. This is an obvious notion that reminds me of a story from my childhood:
My sister Leslie was teasing our sister Marcia on the school playground; it wasn't very nice. But when one of Leslie's male friends started teasing Marcia with the same words, Leslie slugged him.

So my question is this: What do you say in your tribe or tribes, however you define it (ethnicity, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, fraternity, sorority, family) that is verboten when it comes from the outside? I'm really curious about this, because, except for very good friends, who I can tell when they've done an air-headed thing, I've never been all that comfortable with that kind of talk.
A couple things other people I read have discovered that interested me greatly.
1. From the U.K.'s Chris Black wonders whether attacks on Barack Obama as not black enough from some black groups might not make him even more attractive to some white voters. For a pol from across the pond, I think Mr. Black is pretty astute about American politics. "Not black enough" always reminds me of a Joan Armatrading lyric (from the title cut of an A&M EP, "How Cruel")
"I had somebody say once my black was way too black,
And someone answer she's not black enough for me."
(I guess I'm not the only one who came to that conclusion. There's a slow-loading Blogspot blog, Seattle for Barack Obama, that used that very quote.) I'm not sold on Senator Obama, but these kinds of attacks make him more sympathetic, I think.
2. The guy in the overalls found this citation to a 1970 DC Comics survey, conducted by a groovy Flash and a Superman we can dig, asking their readers to rap about what they're interested in reading about. (Rap meant something different in 1970.) Right there between "pollution" and "space flights" is "black people". I think that in 1970, I probably would have been offended, but now, it's just hysterical.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Shared Roadway: HA!

If I'm ever ever on my bicycle and get into an accident with a car, this is the most likely scenario: I'm riding as far right as possible, with traffic, as the law requires. I go straight, while the car next to me makes a right turn so that I plow into the side of the vehicle, which did not have its directional signal on. I say this because it's almost happened more than once, or a close variation. Just last week, this variation. Car is at the red light. I pull along side of it. It starts to turn right, heading toward me - we weren't even in the intersection yet, so I guess he wanted to hug the curb. I say, very loudly, "WHOA!" And he stopped. No, he did not have his right directional on. If he had, I would have held back. The apparent optional nature of the right directional signal makes it very difficult, not only for bicyclists, but for pedestrians as well.

Now do I always obey the laws of the road while on the bike? I do not. There are certain places in Albany (New Scotland near CDPC, Western Avenue between Pine and Manning, much of Lark Street) when I just don't feel very safe on the narrow roadway, when cars have come dangerously close in the past. And, in these cases, I head for the sidewalk, always yielding to the pedestrians, as it is THEIR turf. When I'm on the roadway, however, I do the right things; I signal, I stop at red lights and stop signs, etc.

There's a traffic circle around the Harriman Campus and also at Corporate Woods that have signs reading "Shared roadway". This is peculiar in that most roadways, with the exception of the Interstates ARE - supposedly - shared roadways.

In re: this, three items caught my attention. The most direct is the death of a young woman on her bicycle in Albany. The usually mild-mannered Daniel Van Riper scolds the media and others for blaming the victim in his June 10 and 21 posts here. The second is a piece ADD wrote about the environmental impact of the automobile. The third is the widely-noted Vatican rules of the road:
1. You shall not kill. OK, stolen from the "other" Ten Commandments, but a good idea.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. By "communion, I don't think the Vatican meant giving someone the finger.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. Why, oh why, do people speed up to a red light?
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents. Some time ago, I had read this theory that all of those steel tanks on the road somehow isolate us from each other.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin. Sin in a car? Why, whatever did they mean?
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so. This could cover everything from drunken driving to the road raged to those who've lost the ability to drive due to age.
7. Support the families of accident victims. Amen.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. Interesting. I'm a big fan of true reconciliation.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party. YES! That means all up and down the chain, from trucks watching for cars to bicyclists watching for pedestrians.
10. Feel responsible toward others. Ultimately, what it's all about.

(DVR and the Vatican in the same post. Will wonders never cease?)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The National Soccer Hall of Fame

Considering the fact that my in-laws live in Oneonta, it's rather peculiar that it took Carol and me nearly eight years to visit the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the small city. Carol and I, with baby Lydia, made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame in the summer of 2004 in Springfield, MA; I think Lydia was unimpressed.

Anyway, one might ask, why the heck is the Soccer HoF in Oneonta anyway. On the very first display in the Hall, that question is addressed. The colleges there, the State University College at Oneonta and Hartwick College both had had successes in the 1970s in soccer. OK, but still, why Oneonta? Because of its approximation to Cooperstown, some folks expected that they could make it another destination in the region.

Yes, I don't know soccer, but my wife doesn't really know basketball, either. While she loved that hall in Springfield, she and I were pretty bored with this place. At least until we got to the second floor, when we got to compete in some interactive games. Still, if it wasn't for the fact that she got in free (it was Mother's Day weekend), and I got in at 10% off with an AAA card ($11.25 instead of $12.50), it would have been an EXPENSIVE boring visit.

Of course, it can't compete with the charm of Cooperstown. My father-in-law and I, as usual, went to the game last month, between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. Here's a description of the game, where minor league Brian Boch got 2 HRs, one a grand slam, and a double to lead the Orioles over the Blue Jays. My best recollections: off-key renditions by a barbershop quartet of BOTH O Canada AND The Star-Spangled Banner; four of the eight homers landing in our section, including one that hit just to my right, hit a concrete facing, then careened to the left in front of me.

Our favorite sport, though, is begging the center fielder for the ball. This is an annual event, where after the warm ups between half innings, the sections make as much noise as possible so that the player will toss the ball to their section. No one played this as well as Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells, who really knew how to milk the crowd. One time, he hid one ball while taunting the crowd with another. When he threw it to the one section, the other section moaned, until he produced the second sphere. Great theater for the three innings he stayed in the game.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Love a Parade

I was very interested in Gay Prof's piece on the gay pride march in Boston a couple weekends ago, in part because I participated in Albany's parade a couple weeks ago. Based on his piece, and the several comments the piece generated, I've concluded that the Gay Pride march in the big cities (New York, San Francisco, presumably Boston), and the ones in smaller cities, such as Albany, are very different animals. The big city events, from what I read, have been co-opted by the advertisers trying to market to a niche, while our parade seemed as though it was making a statement.

Actually, I hadn't gotten up that day planning on marching. But when I got to church, several of the members were working on the Albany Presbytery float with this cardboard Jesus in the front and a rainbow of colors decorating the float. The service had ended, the parade, which had, in previous years had taken place during the service, had not yet started, and so I joined in. there was a real sense of comradery - the AIDS activists, the PFLAG moms, the drag queens, the Presbyterians all there for civil rights, human rights.

Clearly, the crowds lining the streets were appreciative of the church taking a stand. Well, except for the one guy with a huge sign citing scripture about gaining the world and losing one's sou;l. He could not have been happy about Christians, so-called in his mind, involved in such an activity.

For some reason, I've gotten on a mailing list of some Methodists - I used to be a Methodist - who are very disturbed by the policies of the church leadership. They actually use terms such as "gay agenda".

On a related topic, our dysfunctional State Legislature has passed another one-house bill. Our Democratic Party-controlled state Assembly passed legislation in favor of gay marriage; the Republican-led State Senate didn't even bring it up before they went home for a few weeks. Here's the front cover of the paper that day. Don't expect this to pass the State senate anytime soon.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Lydster, Part 39: Dancing Queen

I know you've all been asking: just what music does Lydia like to dance to? The answer is just about anything with a beat. Sure, she'll do the routines on the Barney video or move to the tunes on her albums, which I'll play at her request, but will not initiate...

...but just as often, it's whatever music I might be playing: Stevie Wonder ("Boogie on Reggae Woman"), Traffic ("Glad"), Dylan ("I Want You"), Beatles ("Lady Madonna"), some blues or reggae or jazz. She really isn't all that particular. Most recently, it was some Brian Wilson album.

And she's pretty good at it. The still photos don't do her justice.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Hey, Lori, I'm Answering Here

My old friend Lori in Florida is one of those irregular bloggers. Postingwise, she makes no-longer-shirtless Eddie Mitchell seem like Mike Sterling. Anyway, she e-mailed me one of those things I'm supposed to e-mail back. Being the contrarian sort, I decided to put it here instead. Somewhere down the line, I lost a couple questions. C'est la guerre.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? No. My father was really strong on NOT having me named after anyone, a trait I've obviously inherited when it comes to Lydia's name.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? When I dropped off the child at day care last week and she wailed. She hadn't done that since the second day.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING Well, it's OK. I once, for a marking period in 3rd grade, got an F in handwriting, so other people may disagree.



6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I suppose it would depend what side of me I showed them.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Not a whole lot.


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Not on your life. Wait: not on MY life.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Life (regular). Don't have it often.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Well, the sneakers, yeah, because I have to. Otherwise, usually not.


13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Common: strawberry. One I haven't had in a long time: orange pineapple.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Generally, where they fit into the situation. Are they hanging by the exit? Are they saying anything? Are they saying anything that anyone wants to hear?

15. RED OR PINK? Did you know that, even early in the 20th century, pink was a boys' color, and blue a girls'? It's true. That said, red.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? If I told you, I'd have to tell you.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My father; my friends Donna, Nancy and Raoul.




21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Some Beatles covers thing Fred Hembeck gave me.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Green. Well, maybe aquamarine.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Bread baking at the Freihoffer plant, which often catches me unaware.



26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Baseball, football.

27. HAIR COLOR? What hair? Gray.

28. EYE COLOR? Brown.

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No, glasses.

30. FAVORITE FOOD? Spinach lasagna.

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy Endings, I suppose. Isn't that the dessert choice at Friendly's restaurants?

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? The last hour of Mississippi Masala.


34. SUMMER OR WINTER? In our global warming mode, winter, which hasn't been what it used to be.

35. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs THEN kisses.

36. FAVORITE DESSERT? Ice cream.

39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. (Yes, this is different from what I wrote to Eddie the other day.)

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Entrepreneur magazine.


42. FAVORITE SOUND? Water running.



45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I can make kazoo noises without a kazoo.

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Binghamton, NY

47. WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE? We have a 2003 Honda Avalon, but I don't drive it.

48. LIKE YOUR JOB? Usually.

49. PETS? None


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Roger Answers Your Questions, Eddie and Nik

Nik is a relative stranger in a strange, kiwi-infested land.

Who is your favorite historical figure?
Oh, I have no idea; it changes all the time. Right now, I'm rather keen on Thurgood Marshall, who was counsel for the NAACP in the Brown vs. Board of Education case before he ended up on the Supreme Court.

What one country have you always wanted to visit?
There are so many. I'll pick Japan because it intrigues me the most.

What's your favorite kind of candy bar?
Mounds. Mmmm, coconut.

Do you like my new haircut?
You've never looked better.

I tend to give Eddie a difficult time for the sometimes large chunks of time between posts, yet he asks me questions anyway:

Aside from Paula Abdul, what other dark musical secrets does your collection hide? Milli Vanilli? David Lee Roth? Ratt? Hanson? Mariah Carey?
I don't really know what constitutes "dark musical secrets". Of the ones listed: no; one with Van Halen; no; 1 song on a compilation disc; yes-a greatest hits CD.

Has Lydia picked up any habits at school that you and Carol don't approve of? How do you handle it?
Not really. We're trying to make sure she's being assertive enough. There was a brief time a while ago when a boy in her class was trying to bully her, and she was too acquiescent, but that seems to have passed. She does say, "Eeew, gross!", which I figure she got from another student.

What are you reading right now? (That's my favorite question to ask people.)
Shrub by the late Molly Ivins.

And speaking of Bush, let me pose a question to you all. In Salon magazine Glenn Greenwald, in an excerpt of his new book, "A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency," says: "One of the principal dangers of vesting power in a leader who is convinced of his own righteousness -- who believes that, by virtue of his ascension to political power, he has been called to a crusade against Evil -- is that the moral imperative driving the mission will justify any and all means used to achieve it." So the question is: Has the President been corrupted to do evil while trying to good, or as a friend posits:
"Call me cynical, or whatever, but I don't believe for one nanosecond that Bush and his handlers believe in good and/or evil. They want power and control and empire. The only good they believe in is what's good for them. As far as I can see, they have achieved the degree of power that they have because so few people recognize just how base are their motives."
I actually know one of the 26% or 28% who support GWB, and it's because he's "a Christian man." I swear to Rudy. So, since he's "a Christian man," the things he does, from the war to stem cell restrictions, are "Christian" position. If you've read this blog before, you know: 1) I'm a Christian, and 2) this logic REALLY hurts my head.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Great 28

Twenty-eight years ago today, Lynn Moss made an honest man out of Fred Hembeck, a story he's written about here (June 23), here (June 23), here, and ESPECIALLY here. Kudos to you both. Go to Fred's MySpace blog and send them your best wishes.
And speaking of Mr. Hembeck, he e-mailed to remind me that Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Olivia are set to appear on Larry King's CNN show June 26 (9 pm Eastern, 8pm Central) to discuss the first anniversary of Cirque de Soleil's Fab-inspired "Love" show. Incidentally, my wife went to the Cirque de Soleil show "Delirium" this week in Albany with a friend of hers, while I stayed home with Lydia. She said it was very good, but that she needed to watch some more MTV or something, because of all the frenetic movement.
The other music-related thing I'll be taping this week is "Paul Simon: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song". On my local PBS station, it airs Wednesday at 9 pm, and features a bunch of folks singing the songs of Simon. It was taped last month.
I've never golfed in my life, yet I was intrigued by last weekend's piece in the Wall Street Journal, The Problem With 'Par'; If players at this weekend's U.S. Open can't hit the target score, who can? by John Paul Newport (June 16, 2007). Specifically, this paragraph:
"The notion of par has always been somewhat mushy, and is further confused by the word's other English-language usages. In most PGA Tour events, for instance, subpar scores are par for the course. Unless, of course, a pro is feeling physically subpar, in which case he might shoot above par. On the other hand, only amateurs with decidedly above-par skills can ever hope to post subpar scores."
If I lived in the Los Angeles area, I think I would apply for this job out of sheer curiosity:

The following position is available at E! Networks:
Job Title: Researcher
Organization: Research
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Full-time position with benefits providing research, public records and ready reference.

Description: Provide entertainment research in support of all Comcast Entertainment Group units (E!, Style, G4, E! Online, International) including the following:
* Supply in-depth story and background research to assist writers and production staff.
* Locate court documents for legal backup.
* Access public records to locate individuals and track assets.
* Review copyright and trademark records to establish ownership and locate rights holders.
* Answer “ready reference” questions.
* Vet scripts for accuracy and perform fact checking.
* Help maintain both conventional and digital archives and databases.
Skills: College degree required; experience working in a library, archive or research setting; excellent organizational skills; extensive understanding of online databases, particularly Lexis/Nexis; excellent writing, spelling and grammatical skills; ability to work well under pressure; interest or experience working in the entertainment field a plus.
E! Networks is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.

Contact Gina Handsberry at E! Entertainment. Please direct all inquiries to her at She writes, on a listserv I access:
"This is not a media research position (i.e., we do not analyze Nielsen data). Rather, it is a show research position (we provide content research for the programs on the network) and would be well suited for a librarian, information professional, or anyone who has experience doing research for journalistic endeavors. It's not an easy position to fill, so I thought a post here couldn't hurt!"

The Half Geek Good Speller Who Fears a Zombie Jamboree

I had so much fun with the one quiz that I thought I'd try a few more:


Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

55% GeekMingle2 - Free Online Dating

Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

Friday, June 22, 2007

THE MORTAL SIN of blogging to blog about blogging.
What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
* dead (6x) * gay (3x) * death (1x)

There's a guy I know who was wondering about whether he should start a second blog, one for his librarian side and another for his more frivolous self; evidently, he went the dual route. He said the latter blog would be the one that he might show to a prospective employer. I noted that said prospective employer could easily find his other blog as well.

I've found articles that indicate that many blogs are temporarily or permanently abandoned. But I was curious how many folks have multiple blogs. I know Greg has his main site and his daughters' site. Some others as well. When I toyed with having my blog hosted with, as someone might say, the evil Hearst Times Union, the guy in charge of the blogs said I had two blogs in my blog, one with Lydia, and one with everything else; I disagree. For me, it's all one life continuum. Yet, Greg's division works for him, and me.

Or I always think I have the one blog. There's also the one where I post articles that interest me, but that's just to fuel the main blog; oh, the picture I posted there I did by following these directions. And I don't have time to do another real blog, though I contribute to my work blog. I had so much factoid stuff that I helped set up the New York State Data Center Affiliate blog. And I started the Friends of the Albany Public Library blog, but that's pretty topic-specific.

So, I only have the one blog. Or two. Or five. All active, i.e. updated within the last week.

Which reminds me of a reference question I had last month. The guy asked, among several other questions, how many blogs there would be in five years. How the heck would I know? I noted that, hey, maybe people will get off blogging by then. He wrote back and asked why I thought so:

"It's not that I have any special insight that blogs will go away. It's that by the time I embrace a technology, it's usually a sign that the technology is on its last legs. That's slightly cheeky, but not entirely. I'm not what you would call an early adopter, so I figure if *I* can do it, it's on its way out. Sort of how Marvel Comics came out with a character called the Disco Dazzler around 1980 (to their credit, they DID drop the Disco just before its release.)"

My mantra: when everyone else has moved onto podcasts and videocasts and whatever the next technological breakthrough will be, I'll probably be one of the dinosaurs still blogging.
Alan David Doane is BACK! After poking his head out on Groundhog's Day, he started writing a bit in April and May, but in June, he's posted with a vengeance (sometimes literally). He even cited, ahem, me. Welcome back, ADD. Those 75 historic e-mails were kind of interesting - except for the weird one about time zones - but I'm glad they've stopped.
Oh, and I seemed to have inspired Mr. Hembeck, who, in his June 20 post managed to evoke Brian Wilson and a fairly obscure former member of the New York Mets. It even makes sense, in that Hembeckian sort of way. Here's Fred's rating:
What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

No bad words were found.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nik Experiences the New Zealand Winter

One of the great things about knowing people who live in other places is that you get perspectives from those other people. For instance, I'd be inclined to say, today is the first day of summer. Or not. But Nik, who I should note I've never met personally, only through his writings, is an expat American about to experience winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Which is a roundabout way of saying: it's time for my summer/winter solstice edition of (drum roll, please)... Ask Roger Anything, in which you can, well, query myself, er, about any topic. Ask me about the two times I got to shake Nelson Rockefeller's hand or how many Supreme Court justices I've met, or anything about sports or race or politics or religion or music or television or being a librarian. Well, anything except the Dewey Decimal System; that's as deep dark secret.

You may ask a maximum of 16 questions apiece, except for Gordon, who can ask as many as he wants; bring 'em on, Piscean!

But DON'T ask me bizarro trivia questions, such as the one I saw on Ken Jennings' blog this month:

Consider the universe of baseball statistics. Forget about ones that are averages, and thus a player’s score can go up or down over time — batting average, ERA, slugging percentage, and the like. Focus on the ones that accumulate. Also, forget about statistics that nobody tracks, like ground rule doubles in extra innings under a full moon on astroturf. Stay with statistics that people have actually heard of.

Now consider that among such statistics there’s the concept of one category being a special case of another. If you do one, you necessarily do the other, but not vice versa (otherwise two statistics would be called “synonyms”). A perfect game is a special case of a no-hitter. A double is a special case of a hit. An at-bat is a special case of a plate appearance. A save is a special case of a game played, but a hit is not because you can have any number of hits in a game.

At last, the question. There are two statistics, one of which is a special case of the other. The career leaders in the two categories — the guys who did each the most times — are different men with the same first and middle names. Who are they?

Oy. I barely understood the QUESTION, let alone had any idea what the answer was.





Henry Louis (Hank) Aaron holds the record for career home runs (755) and Henry Louis (Lou) Gehrig holds the record for career grand slam home runs (23).

Of course, Barry Bonds is in a well-publicized pursuit of Aaron's record (currently at 748), and Manny Ramirez, last I checked, stood at 20 Grand Slams. Bonds, BTW, is the career leader of a statistic with his initials: Bases on Balls.

So don't ask me questions like that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Underplayed Vinyl: Beach Boys

My first Beach Boys album was Pet Sounds, followed by some of those other late 1960s/early 1970s albums, such as Smiley Smile, Surf's Up and Holland, plus the pairing of Wild Honey and 20/20. I never owned any of those early beach/surf/cars tunes until I bought those wildly successful double LP compilations, Endless Summer and Spirit of America.

So, when 15 Big Ones came out, complete with the "Brian is back!" mantra, it didn't have the same meaning to me as it might have for a more faithful BB fan.

1. "Rock And Roll Music" (Chuck Berry) - 2:29
2. "It's OK" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) - 2:12
3. "Had To Phone Ya" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love/Diane Rovell) - 1:43
4. "Chapel Of Love" (Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich/Phil Spector) - 2:34
5. "Everyone's In Love With You" (Mike Love) - 2:42
6. "Talk To Me" (J. Seneca) - 2:14
7. "That Same Song" (Brian Wilson/Mike Love) - 2:16
8. "TM Song" (Brian Wilson) - 1:34
9. "Palisades Park" (C. Barris) - 2:27
10. "Susie Cincinnati" (Al Jardine) - 2:57
11. "A Casual Look" (E. Wells) - 2:45
12. "Blueberry Hill" (A. Lewis/L. Stock/V. Rose) - 3:01
13. "Back Home" (Brian Wilson/Bob Norberg) - 2:49
14. "In The Still Of The Night" (F. Parris) - 3:03
15. "Just Once In My Life" (Gerry Goffin/Carole King/Phil Spector) - 3:47

The album begins with the Chuck Berry song. Most critics hate this rendition, even though it went to #5 in the charts. I thought it was OK. More than OK, though was "It's OK", which to my ears, was vintage Beach Boys. "Had to Phone Ya" was charming. "That Same Song" I loved, as well as "Back Home", which apparently Brian had around for over a decade. "Susie Cincinnati", which had been cut from the Sunflower album, I learned from that album's CD liner notes, was a fun little song. "Talk to Me" was a strange little tune, with weak vocals, but I sorta liked it anyway.

The rest is rather hit or miss. The remaining covers seldom distinguish themselves from the originals, or are far lesser versions, though I appreciated "Palisades Park" for the near slavish imitation it was.

Yet, as I recall, I played the album. Played it a lot, actually. It had enough songs that I liked that I largely ignored the ones I didn't. I barely remembered the uninspired, but short, "TM Song", e.g. And it wasn't that I hated the rest; it was more that it wasn't as good as it might have been.

15 Big Ones is now available on CD, paired with Love You, the follow-up Beach Boys album, that received far better reviews, at least that I've read. I own it, but don't remember it nearly that well. 15 Big Ones sold better, fueled by that Top 10 single, getting to #8 and going gold, while Love You peaked at #53.

Guess I know what Underplayed Vinyl will be next year. Brian Wilson turns 65 today; who woulda thunk it?


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why I Own Three (count 'em, 3) Paula Abdul Albums

I was at the Olin family reunion; the Olins are my wife's mother's people. They were having their international family event, which they have every lustrum. In 2001, the event was held in my hometown of Binghamton, NY. (The 1996 event was in Fargo, ND; the 2006 in eastern Washington state; 2011, somewhere in Ontario.)

One event was an auction. Many of the items were handmade items, or family treasures; I know Carol got a much-coveted family cookbook with typed or hand-written recipes from various members of the tribe. One lot, though, was for a bunch of mostly classical CDs, maybe 10 or 12 of them. I bid on them, but I was outbid by one of Carol's cousins in her late teens. Truth is I probably could have put in a pre-emptive bid, but it didn't seem sporting to overbid a poor high school student. She was really happy to get a dozen classical albums for $20, but what the heck was she going to do with three Paula Abdul CDs? She looked SO pained, so apoplectic, that I bought them from her, for $8 or $10, which she appreciated at a couple levels: she was rid of the albatross AND the albums she REALLY want were even cheaper.

I was recalling this as I finished my annual playing of my entire collection of Paula Abdul albums - Forever Your Girl, Shut Up and Dance (The Dance Remixes), and Spellbound, in anticipation of today, Paula's 45th birthday. I don't care what you say: I really like Straight Up. The rest of it: eh, not so much. I didn't really go through a phase of eighties divas - Paula, Taylor, Madonna, Expose, and Gloria - like some people I know.
I've had a long-standing affection for the Traveling Wilburys and have Volumes 1 and 3, now out of print. I'm having a hard time thinking about buying the re-release, despite Nik's appealing review. So, I decided to go to You Tube and watch a couple videos, including the star-laden Wilbury Twist, at lunchtime yesterday. But by 9 p.m. EDT yesterday, the Twist video that I saw only hours earlier was "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Warner Music Group"; it's part of the new collection. However, what remains on You Tube is the 2007 version, with more George, Bob, Tom, and Jeff. No Wonder Years kids, Milli Vanilli, Cheech Marin, Whoopi Goldberg, or Woody Harrelson, but the John Candy/Eric Idle intro remains.
A link to reviews of Paul McCartney's new album, Memory Almost Full. A couple of them have links to the music and/or videos from the album.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Macca and Ebert

Paul McCartney, star of that new iTunes commercial for "Dance Tonight", turns 65 today, so I've been thinking for a couple years, ever since I saw Johnny B. do it, that I should come up with a list of my favorite post-Beatles McCartney songs. This is a little trickier than to make a list of, say, my favorite Beatles songs, for there are huge gaps in my 1980s and 1990s collection. I've never owned, and don't really know, Pipes of Peace, Press to Play, or Broad Street. That said:

1. MAYBE I'M AMAZED from McCartney. I heard Paul was going to be on Ed Sullivan. I was disappointed that it was just a video, but not in the song.
2. MY BRAVE FACE from Flowers in the Dirt. I recall that it was Elvis Costello who encouraged Macca to play the bass like Beatle Paul.
3. JET from Band on the Run. A rollicking good time. Love the bridge.
4. WHAT'S THAT YOU'RE DOIN' from Tug of War. Admittedly, more for Stevie Wonder, whose output in the early 1980s was, let's say, less interesting to me - "I Just Called to Say I Love You", anyone? - but also pointed out Paul's funky side that I loved in "Got To Get You Into My Life" and "Lady Madonna". BTW, that OTHER McCartney/Wonder song is also on that album, but not on this list.
5. HI,HI,HI, a 1972 single. Goofy song that I loved in part because so many people got bent out of shape over it ("high, high, high").
6. FLAMING PIE from Flaming Pie. Describing a piece of John Lennon's early 1960s witticisms.
7. OO YOU from McCartney. Sparse but rocking tune. Love the vocal.
8. LOOKING FOR CHANGES from Off the Ground. This is his rant about saving the animals from testing. I like that:
"I Saw A Cat With A Machine In His Brain
The Man Who Fed Him Said He Didn't Feel Any Pain
I'd Like To See That Man Take Out That Machine And Stick It In His Own Brain
You Know What I Mean"
9. BAND ON THE RUN from Band on the Run. Anthemic.
10. WE GOT MARRIED from Flowers in the Dirt. In a minor key, it's a wonderful juxtaposition between the optimism of the lyric and the moodiness of the melody.

If I were to pick my next ten, there would be several from that first album, a few singles, and maybe JENNY WREN from Chaos and Creation.
I should also note that Roger Ebert also turns 65 today. He has long been my favorite movie critic, not because his name is Roger (though that doesn't hurt), and not because I always agree with him, but because he's so aware and honest with his personal biases that I usually know that I'll like a movie he disliked and vice versa. He's been having some medical issues over the past couple years, but appears to be on the mend.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Ah, yes, my annual Father's Day ambivalence. On one hand, my wife understandably wants to spend time with her father, who is, not so incidentally, a pretty swell father-in-law. On the other hand, he's been busy with his antique car show on Father's Day anyway. On the third hand, my father's deceased, and I think (know) I'm a little peeved with him because his treatment plan for his prostate cancer, if any, was practically a secret even to his family. On the fourth hand, I'm now a father. (I figure, if I keep going, I'll hit Eight Arms To Hold You.)

Here's a pretty big constant: I wish my father had had a chance to meet my daughter, and vice versa. Lydia and I spend time going over the family relationships; she's gotten it down pretty well. Grandma Green is my mommy. She's seen pictures of my father, mostly the 1999 wedding pictures. At some point, she'll wonder why she's never met him, and I get to tell her about heaven. (Even if one doesn't believe in heaven, I'd think it would be the easier explanation.)

So, Carol went down to visit with Lydia to visit her father yesterday. I stayed home to go to the funeral of a church member, Nancy Vail, and so I can go to the last church service conducted by my old friend Bob Pennock today before he retires. Presumably, Carol and Lydia will be home this afternoon, and I'll get to celebrate Father's Day in whatever way they deem fit.

Did I mention my ambivalence?

But then, before they left, Lydia gave me her present, a paperweight. It's a rock, painted black, with a couple eyeballs, and a black pipe cleaner tail that serves as a flag pole for a little banner that reads "#1 Dad". It's sweet. Really. Guess the day'll be OK, after all.
Tyler Perry on Father's Day and forgiveness.
"Prepare for a marital smackdown, as pastors Miriam and Glen go head-to-head over Glen's cheapskatism. He turns off the AC when passing, and puts their minivan into neutral when heading downhill. Is this consummate chisler going to wreck his marriage?" MY pastors on the 6/16/2007 episode of Car Talk!


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Immigration Questions

Back in the old days, i.e., even as recently as the 1980s, legislators from both sides of the political aisle would come together for the country's greater good and agree on some bipartisan legislation. I felt that was true with the recent immigration bill, with GWB, McCain, Kennedy and others on the left and right aboard. It's all but dead now, though the President continues his irrational optimism about it.

I'm not at all sure what immigration legislation can pass now, but I'm no fan of Peggy Noonan, who writes:
We should close our borders. We should do whatever it takes to close them tight and solid. Will that take the Army? Then send the Army. Does it mean building a wall? Then build a wall, but the wall must have doors, which can be opened a little or a lot down the road once we know where we are. Should all legal immigration stop? No. We should make a list of what our nation needs, such as engineers and nurses, and then admit a lot of engineers and nurses. We should take in what we need to survive and flourish.

I oppose this because it just isn't the identifiable groups, such as engineers and nurses, this country needs, it's the wide diversity of skills and dreams that comes from peoples from all over the world, the entrepreneurs and innovators that we risk leaving outside our doors.

So, the questions:
1) What kind of immigration policy should the country have?
2) How best should we deal with the undocumented immigrants already here?
3) Can this Congress ever pass any substantive legislation to address the issue?
Hasn't happened yet as of this writing, but expect Fred Hembeck, sometime today, to wax poetic about the Mets beating the Yankees last night, 2-0.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Summer of Love

It's not even summer yet and I've already begun to tire of mention of the term "Summer of Love". The early adopters of the counterculture movement seemed to have decided that the folks that invaded Haight-Asbury, in the words of the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir on CBS News, "just didn't get it."

But I'll admit that there's one thing that largely endured: the music. Here's a list of all the bands that played at the Monterey Pop Festival, which opened four decades ago tomorrow, withe the approximate number of LPs of theirs I own, suggesting their impact on me then; and the number of CDs I own of theirs I own, suggesting their impact on me more recently.

Friday, June 16
* The Association - 1 greatest hits LP. Hey, they tried to be "relevant" on the smothers Brothers Show when the sang Requiem for the Masses.
* The Paupers - nope
* Lou Rawls - 1 CD
* Beverly - who?
* Johnny Rivers - 1 greatest hits CD
* The Animals - at least one LP that includes the song "Monterey", 1 greatest hits CD
* Simon and Garfunkel - at least six LPs, plus at least four solo Simon LPs, and one Garfunkel LP. S&G box set, Paul Simon box set, plus other CDs of each
Saturday, June 17
* Canned Heat - maybe one LP
* Big Brother & The Holding Company -one LP, plus three other Janis Joplin LPs and three Janis CDs
* Country Joe and The Fish - one LP, plus their appearance on the Woodstock LP
* Al Kooper - the Super Sessions with Mike Bloomfield and Steve Stills LP; the first Blood, Sweat and Tears LP
* The Butterfield Blues Band - one LP, one CD
* Quicksilver Messenger Service - one LP
* Steve Miller Band - two CDs
* The Electric Flag - one LP
* Moby Grape - one LP
* Hugh Masekela - alas, none
* The Byrds - one LP, two CDs
* Laura Nyro -two LPs
* Jefferson Airplane - at least six LPs, a two-disc greatest hits CD
* Booker T and The MG's - no, though well-represented in the two Stax-Volt CD box sets I have
* Otis Redding - ditto
Sunday, June 18
* Ravi Shankar - one LP; I also have CDs of two of his daughters
* The Blues Project -one LP
* Big Brother & The Holding Company - see above
* The Group With No Name - don't know
* Buffalo Springfield - 1 LP, 1 greatest hits CDs, plus four CSN(Y) LPs, two CSNY CDs, two solo Stills CDs (once owned on LP but lost or stolen), eight Neil Young LPs, at least seven Neil Young CDs
* The Who - seven LPs, three CDs, four Pete Townshend LPs, three Townshend CDs
* Grateful Dead - four LPs, one greatest hits CD
* The Jimi Hendrix Experience - four LPs, three CDs
* Scott McKenzie - nope
* The Mamas & The Papas - five LPs, a three-disc greatest hits CD

Meanwhile, Brian Wilson is playing Monterey this month, 40 years after the Beach Boys declined for a variety of reasons. I have a LOT of Brian Wilson (at least 4 CD), and Beach Boys albums (a boatload of LPs and CDs, some duplicative).


TV shorts

Boston Legal has dropped four cast members: Julie Bowen, Mark Valley, Constance Zimmer, and the woefully underused Rene Auberjonois have all been let go from the show, even as it adds John Larroquette. I don't remember so many people leaving a show at once since the last season of Boston Legal's predecessor, The Practice, when Dylan McDermott, Kelli Williams, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Lara Flynn Boyle got the boot, and James Spader was added.
For those who are already thinking about it, the Fall 2007 schedule.
Gordon's right. Mr. Wizard IS a show both he and I watched as kids.
We are assured that Lost won't end like The Sopranos did. I've never seen an episode of The Sopranos, but I'm convinced that Tony is dead; the screen going to black was Tony's demise.
How Kellogg's Limits on Kids Advertising Could Shake Up Industry
The The Hot 100 List


Thursday, June 14, 2007

21 days

Sometimes, I just need to guess, even when I can look it up. I was trying to surmise why June 14, specifically, is Flag Day. Is it that there are 21 days from June 14 to July 4, inclusive, which seems to have morphed National Flag Week into a nearly month long tricolor display? Is this somehow tied to the 21-gun salute or the 21 steps used at Arlington National Cemetery?

Evidently not: the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag on June 14, 1777, 230 years ago today. BTW, there have been 27 versions of the flag over the years.

In the Business Review (May 25, 2007), the local business weekly, it was reported that a pizza shop owner in Latham has lowered the American flag to half staff in front of his shop on May 18 to honor the more than 3,400 soldiers killed in Iraq. From the headline, it was also a way to protest the war. The story has angered an Iraq war vet, who wrote in the June 1 issue that he was disappointed in the paper for running such a story on Memorial Day weekend. He also noted Title 4 of the United States Code, Section 7(m) gives the allowable reasons for flying a flag; the protest was not one of the acceptable reasons.

This reminded me of some flag etiquette issues that took place during the VietNam War. There were some who flew the flag upside down. From Title 4, Section 8 (a) of the U.S. Code: "The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property." Of course, I believe those engaged in the behavior believed that the war WAS an "extreme danger to life or property."

I understand both the pizza man's protest AND the soldier's frustration. I recognize that the flag lowering could be perceived as provocative. Yet, the soldier's point is a bit legalistic, I think, given other sections of the code violated freely:
8 (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Like this never happens.

Oh, and I still stand by what I wrote about flag burning a couple years back.
Bombs away! Or, as the person sending me this link wrote: Want to see something really stupid? I thought this was just an urban legend, but apparently not.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

World of work

Some weeks ago, I read an article about how some (younger) people who go on an interview wearing what few experts would recommend. I might have taken it as a bit of a joke, except a friend of mine told me that a guy showed up to an interview he was conducting wearing shorts. My friend was inclined to dismiss him, except that he was quite intelligent and qualified. During the Q&A, the applicant asked, "Can I wear shorts to work?" The answer was no, but he was hired and he has worked out well.
I came across this list of unusual questions to ask in an interview from a usually reliable source, but at least a couple would never get past most Human Resources departments. One was "How about those Yankees?" (or other sports team), which may be perceived as sexist; an alternative, asking about the hot/cold/wet weather, seemed like a better idea.

Then there was a question about asking a really oddball question, just to see the reaction, and if the answer's not too long or too short (whatever that means), that's good. One suggestion: asking how many phone books there are in New York City. Of course, if I were answering it, I'd know there are about 8 million New Yorkers, meaning roughly 3 million households, and about 98% of all households have a phone. There are people with only cellphones that may not have phone books, but then there are offices with multiple phone books. Having no real idea, I'll surmise that there at least as many business phone books as residential, so I'd say 6 million. I would be one of the people that would go on too long.

An alternate question: how do they get the cream filling in a Twinkie? (If you're ever asked this, BTW, it's described in the Wikipedia post for Twinkies.)
When the Job Isn't What You Expected. As the guide noted: "The thing is, you never really know what a job's going to be like until you start. I've had friends take jobs that wound up having absolutely nothing to do with the job description they'd gotten in the interview. It's like they wandered into the wrong building and sat down at someone else's desk, and no one noticed the mistake."
For those of you who don't read Mark Evanier, the lyrics to The New Battle of New Orleans by Ray Stevens, who has performed a wide range of serious and silly songs. Disappointing, to say the least. BTW, he is number 160 in my Billboard Top Pop Singles artists 1955-2002, right between Def Leppard and Gene Pitney, though he doesn't rank in the Billboard albums book.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Loving vs. Virginia

It must have been at a short-term internship I had at some point, though I no longer remember the job, but I do remember being engaging by this woman in the office - a secretary, perhaps - in a dialogue about race. She seemed to be a genuinely nice person who opposed the idea of mixed marriage because of the difficulty it would impose on the children.

I mention that today because this is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down the laws that banned interracial marriage. The full text can be found here. Incidentally, though no longer enforced, some anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books until the end of the 20th century.

Miscegenation. First time I ever saw this word, probably in Ebony magazine when I was fairly young, I didn't know what it meant, but I figured it was bad, not only because of the prefix, but because of the less than positive spin it got in many of the articles.

I'm not 100% sure of my heritage, but there is this woman, my maternal grandmother's grandmother, who was English or Irish. There are either Dutch or German (a/k/a, Pennsylvania Dutch) in my background as well.

In any case, there has been a steady increase in the number of "mixed marriages" in the last 40 years; some numbers are available here and at this PDF. There have a number of prominent mixed race people in the American culture, from Tiger Woods to Barack Obama, that - perhaps - makes it more "acceptable". This is not to say that mixed race kids don't get hassled or are asked to "choose" in which tribe they belong. But, as a composer once said, "It's getting better all the time." Or so I choose to feel.
I wasn't looking to go there, but, in looking up some citations, I found a couple articles that suggest that the precedent in Loving vs. Virginia reflect an "evolving society" when it comes to gay marriage. A quote from this article:
The rationale used by religious and political leaders in an attempt to ban same-sex marriage in the United States is being compared to the arguments used to support discrimination laws in the landmark civil rights case Loving vs. Virginia.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Seven or eight things about me

I believe it was Gordon who noted seven things about him that you may not have known. Then Scott tagged me, with these instructions:
"Players start with 8 random facts about themselves. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them that they have been tagged."

1. When I first picked up the album Magical Mystery Tour in the store back in 1967 or early 1968, I simply could not read the words "Beatles" in the yellow stars. I knew it WAS a Beatles album from the song list, but it was a full five minutes before I sussed out the group name. (Confidential to Fred Hembeck: November 27, 1967.)

2. My favorite mixed drink is 45% orange juice, 45% cranberry juice, 10% ginger ale. The cranberry cuts the OJ's acidity, the OJ cuts the cranberry's tartness, and the ginger ale is just to give it that faux alcohol sensation. I've ordered the mixed juices sans ginger ale in restaurants, and while some places seem to take it in stride, others act as though I want them to cross a desert barefoot to get liquids from a cactus or something.

3. My favorite cereal combination is spoon-size shredded wheat and Cheerios. But I won't buy either of them unless they're on sale. So when they ARE on sale, I might buy four or six boxes. I might even use coupons, which I seldom use otherwise.

4. In the spring or summer of 1976, I was in a production of Godspell in my college town of New Paltz. My solo was, initially, "We Beseech Thee", a song I could sing and I liked, but got changed to "All Good Gifts", which I was never fond of.

5. When I lived in New York City in the summer of 1977, I lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, but I worked in Manhattan. I took the #7 train, then the E or the F train. I was a telephone solicitor five nights a week from 6 pm until midnight. Who was I calling at 11:30 at night? People on the West Coast, of course. The folks I called were people who had once expressed interest in the product - people with lapsed subscription to TV Guide, people who owned the Encyclopedia Americana who might want the Annual. As a result, I'm very polite to phone solicitors; I say "no, thank you," right before I hang up on them.

6. During that summer of 1977 (which, not so incidentally was the Summer of Sam), I met this young woman from the Unification church (yes, that's the Moonies) and would have dinner with her group once a week for a couple months at their place in the Bronx. I was invited to go to their complex upstate; I always declined.

7. Once that summer, for no particular reason, I walked from the Bronx to the New York Public Library, some 160 blocks. Another time, I walked from the library to Wall Street; don't know how many blocks that is.

8. I once successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver on a 70-plus-year-old woman in May 1995. This was at my church of the time. I had been in a pretty sour mood, actually, because of resolving some old affairs of the heart stuff. This woman, who I did not know, was off to the side, looking as though she was turning blue. Then someone opined that perhaps she might have eaten something. I recalled my training from high school, never utilized. Some piece of meat flew at least 15 feet. The pastor, always one to come up with a smart-aleck remark, said to me, "If you see ME choking, just let me die." (Confidential to MRR - yes, he's the one.)

I've always been loath to tag - though I don't mind being tagged - so, only if you want to:
The Scribe at Peace X Peace
Uthaclena at the Hydrogen Jukebox
and the Weird Monday person, Kelly Brown.
Oh, here's another thing about me: I recorded two programs last night - and neither was the last episode of the sopranos. One was The Tonys on CBS, which we like to watch because we're generally unfamiliar with the productions, ironically, the reason nobody ELSE watches them. The other is Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions band live in Dublin on PBS. We've actually watched neither, but hope to before the fall.


Sunday, June 10, 2007


Last weekend, the wife and I got to go to the movies for the first time in ever so long. There's usually some negotiation involved, but we honed in on our choice straight off.

I had intended to review this movie right away before I was influenced by other assessments, but of course that didn't happened. What I've discovered in a number of reviews of this film is the overuse of the q word. Rotten Tomatoes, which gave it a 90% positive rating, notes the consensus is that it's "sweet, smart and quirky".
Waitress is the story of a woman named Jenna (played by Keri Russell), who's pregnant - that's established very early in the film, so that's hardly a spoiler - and in a bad marriage. Her day-to-day salvation is making pies, delicious-looking pies, with names that describe her feelings at the moment, such as Baby Screaming Its Head Off in the Middle of the Night and Ruining My Life Pie. Jenna has two co-workers, Dawn (Adrienne Shelly) and Becky (Cheryl Hines), who are friends, even when each make choices that the others aren't crazy about.
Jenna finds solace, for a time, in meeting with the new ob/gyn in town, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion). But ultimately, it's about Jenna trying to figure it all out for herself.

I don't want to say too much more about the plot, but I will make these observations:
Andy Griffith as the crusty diner owner Joe is wonderful.
It's unfortunate that Jenna's chauvinist husband is named Earl (Jeremy Sisto), because it reminded me of that Dixie Chicks song and video, Goodbye Earl. This Earl turns out to be more nuanced than the one played by Dennis Franz.
This is a foodie movie in the tradition of Chocolat or Big Night. There is a one pie-making scene that is VERY sensuous.
The music, mostly alt-country, I guess, and at least one tune co-written by director Adrienne Shelly, was great. One song choice I thought was a little odd, though I gave it a pass when I realized it was performed by the group Cake, another food group.
Some of the reviews claim that there is an "inconsistency of tone" in this movie. I didn't feel it. I thought it was just how life is.
I really liked the waitresses and their bonds, but Cheryl Hines as Becky reminded me just a little of Polly Holliday as Flo in the TV show Alice, also about three waitresses.

All in all, I really liked this movie. But I had a sense of sadness during the credits, not by what was on the screen, but over the fact that the director Shelly would not be making another warm and touching film, as she was murdered last year.

I should mention, finally, that Keri Russell as Jenna is wonderful in this film. I'd never seen her in Felicity, before or after the infamous haircut, but there are few (if any) scenes she's not in, and she's always credible and interesting.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Should They Stay or Should They Go QUESTIONS

As distressed as I've sometimes been over things in these United States, I've never given any real thought about, say, moving to Canada. But people with whom I'm acquainted have considered it, with some degree of seriousness. Even in the midst of the VietNam War, when I had a very low draft number, it had not occurred to me to think about departing, though many did. So, I find it rather entertaining to note that at least some Vermonters want to secede from the Union.

Meanwhile, to the dismay of some, Democrats in Washington want to keep impeachment off the table. I guess I'm in that group that say 1) and make DICK CHENEY President? Are you kidding?, and 2) any impeachment procedure, no matter how justified - and I think it may be, over the domestic spying and signing documents alone - WILL be seen as partisan politics, retaliation for the (idiotic) Clinton impeachment. But I could be persuaded. Should the President be impeached? Will he be impeached? Are things seeming so bleak that you'd leave the United States, if you live here? (And if you don't, how are you feeling about your country's government?) And will you be moving to Vermont any time soon?

On another topic, any of you with AOL accounts find the "moustache" version more difficult to open? It seems better now, but initially it didn't work at all. Once, it didn't open in German:
Fehler beim Herunterladen des erwünschten Inhalts.
Beim Herunterladen des erwünschten Inhalts ist ein Fehler aufgetreten. Bitte versuchen Sie es später erneut.
Sollte dieser Hinweis weiter bestehen, sehen Sie bitte in den Hilfeseiten nach. Um mehr über den eMail-Service zu erfahren, besuchen Sie bitte unsere Homepage.

It's good to know the German words for eMail and Homepage.

Finally, is there even one person out there who feels sorry for that person who actually may have to serve a 45-day sentence, the one who cried out, "Mommy! Don't they know I'm rich, and above the law?" Well, I don't, and I have found not a soul, not a soul, who, in the words of Mr. T, pities the fool, though leave it to Gordon to take the high road. (I am operating on yesterday's info that she's still in jail.)


Friday, June 08, 2007

I Used To Sell Funny Books?

I don't know why, but I'm almost always surprised when my old life dealing with comic books crosses over to my new (OK, decade and a half) life as a librarian. Case in point, someone on a library listserv I monitor wrote [personal reference deleted]:

"I have a question about graphic novels. I bought my son (2nd grade) a graphic novel - Pokemon - and it says that it reads from back to front. That we understand. But how do we read on the page? Is it from right to left, starting on the right hand side of the page at the top right? Or top left? We do not understand. Thank you."

I was going to write back and say, "It depends." That's true in American comic books with irregular panels. But a couple folks wrote back with better responses:

This is a pretty good example of how it reads (thanks to Tokyopop).

Some volumes are more difficult than others (when bubbles extend from one panel DOWN to another panel, for instance). But I'd think Pokemon is probably pretty standard and easy to follow as far as manga goes. This one is thanks to Viz.
As one commentator asked, will we see Spider-Ham and Mickey Mouse together again?
I haven't been to a comic book show in YEARS, but I was thinking about going to this one in July.
A belated happy anniversary to Lefty and Kelly Brown out in Ca-li-for-ni-a. From "10th Anniversary Traditional Gift: Tin or aluminum. The pliability of tin and aluminum is a symbol of how a successful marriage needs to be flexible and durable and how it can be bent without being broken."
Sorry for the terse post. My wife has been getting up at 4 a.m. almost all week, doing this end of the year student evaluation stuff, thus cutting into the blogging time. And they say teachers have it easy.

I thought I'd have one more chance this morning, but the daughter needed cuddling at 4 a.m. And that's just fine.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sporting News

I went to the local CVS drugstore this week. The clerk asked me if I wanted to contribute a dollar for fighting ALS. I said OK.
The clerk said, "It's called Lou Garry's disease."
I said, "It's Lou GEHRIG's disease." He looked puzzled.
"You know, Lou Gehrig. Played in the greatest number of major league (baseball) games in a row until Cal Ripkin, Jr. broke his record."
"Who did he play for?"
"The Yankees. Played with Babe Ruth."
"The Yankees? I HATE the Yankees!"
"But Gehrig was a good guy. Gary Cooper in 'Pride of the Yankees': 'I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.'"
"Yeah, I think I heard of that. But I HATE the Yankees! I think I'll stop asking (for ALS donations). Hope my manager doesn't notice."

Detroit Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield apparently believes there are more Latin players, and fewer black players, in MLB, because Latinos are more "manageable" than blacks. Some sports writer suggested ed that it was a Don Imus moment. I disagree; I think it was an Al Campanis moment. Campanis was the Los Angeles Dodgers executive who infamously said on Nightline in 1987 that blacks did not have the "necessities" for managing a baseball team. I actually watched that episode of Nightline, in real time - those were the days - and Ted Koppel was gently trying to get Campanis to change his statement. It was a peculiar moment: Koppel, who admittedly knew little about baseball, breaks this big story on a show ostensibly honoring Jackie Robinson. Campanis was soon fired by the Dodgers, and MLB has made an effort to get teams to at least interview minority candidates. The strange thing about the Sheffield incident is that I hadn't heard about it at all until I read it in the column.

That minor league manager's meltdown, a big hit on You Tube, is part of a larger story on ABC News Monday night about hot-headed managers. The piece suggests that you not try these tactics at your own job, as tempting as it might be.'s Jayson Stark notes that "racial issues are front and center for many Americans as (San Francisco Giants outfielder) Barry Bonds chases the all-time home run record." A recent survey found that 52 percent of fans hope Bonds doesn't break the record, while 37 percent of fans want him to surpass Hank Aaron's mark, set in 1974. "However, race plays a unique role. Black fans in the survey are more than twice as likely to want Bonds to break Aaron's record (74 percent to 28 percent), and 37 percent of black fans think Bonds used steroids, compared to 76 percent of white fans.
"Blacks are nearly twice as likely to think Bonds has been treated unfairly (46 percent to 25 percent). Why? The survey found that 41 percent of black fans think this is due to the steroids issue, 25 percent think it's because of his race, and 21 percent blame Bonds' personality. For whites who think Bonds has been treated unfairly, 66 percent blame steroids. Virtually none blame race."
The Sports Illustrated Box Seat survey yesterday asked: "Are you rooting for Barry Bonds to break Hank Aaron’s Home Run record?" It was an ongoing online tally:
Yes 11.9% 53
No 68.2% 304
Don't care 20% 89
It's generally agreed that Barry Bonds is selfish, moody and uncommunicative. I posit that that may be why he's more popular with some blacks; that he's selfish, moody and uncommunicative, and doesn't care what The Man says. In any case, I don't recall such a disparity over a sports figure since the O.J. murder trial.
All this talk about whether the commissioner of baseball should/will show up at when Barry Bonds hits home run #756, then Bonds goes on a homer drought, and he's stuck at 746, with one dinger in 51 at-bats. Will he actually break the record, or not?

I don't really follow NHL hockey, but I was rooting for the Buffalo Sabres; that didn't take. So now, I'm rooting for their old opponent, the Ottawa Senators. I'll always pick a cold-weather team over a team named for a Disney movie, the Anaheim Ducks. Naturally, the Stanley Cup goes to California.

I'm also not that hot on NBA basketball, but I'm pulling for Cleveland, even though Lebron James is the only player I can name on the squad. While the San Antonio Spurs have won championships in 1999, 2003, and 2005, the city of Cleveland hasn't won a title of any kind since 1964, when the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship (pre-Super Bowl era). The Cleveland Indians last won the World Series in 1948 and the Cleveland Cavaliers have never won the NBA Finals, or played in them until 2007.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


"I wear a seven, And you're out of order
'Cause I can tell from here, You're a seven and a quarter"
"Don't Touch My Hat" by Lyle Lovett

I have a big head. I'm not talking ego here, I'm talking about the fact that I can seldom find a hat or cap that actually fits. Those "one size fits all" things don't. Most hats sit on top of my head like a crown.

At my high school graduation, they had to pin my size 7 3/4 graduation cap on. Then I had to remove it for the Pledge of Allegiance, and it never did sit right again.

In the winter, it's not so bad, as I can wear a knit cap. But in the summer, I need protection for my increasingly follicle-less pate. The only cap that has actually fit me I got from the Census Bureau, of all places.

Last weekend, visiting the in-laws, we stopped at several stores with no particular success. Then I found not one, but two hats that fit, and they were on sale so I bought them both, one blue and one white. They are porkpie hats.

My wife says I look retro chic. Definitely retro; others can determine chic. But it's a matter of function over form.
To celebrate Sergeant Pepper's 40th birthday, The Sun in the UK has given the classic montage a modern-day makeover, by replacing all the people with modern-day celebrities. The Beatles are replaced by their kids, and Bob Dylan is replaced by...Bob Dylan. Fred Hembeck (June 4) also weighs in on the album.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

25 things

Tosy has got me sussed.

1. I've come to realize that my last kiss... was probably done perfunctorily.

2. I am listening to... a lot of Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and the B groups they used to be in.

3. I talk...more often than not with a filter of appropriateness.

4. I want...a couple more hours per day to read and play. I need to play.

5. My best friend(s)...with a few exceptions, don't live around here, so I see them rarely.

7. The weather is... wet, but pleasantly so.

8. I hate it when people...are inconsiderate. My current pet peeve involves the bus kiosks around two of our hospitals, St. Peter's and Albany Med. The hospital employees use the kiosks to smoke their cigarettes during their breaks, then go back work.

9. Love is... as strong as death. That's a lyric in a church anthem, from the Song of Solomon, and it always gets to me.

10. Marriage is... not for the meek.

11. Somewhere, someone is thinking... someone stole my invention. In all likelihood, it didn't happen.

12. I'll always... remember the things I should have done more than the things I did do.

13. I have a secret crush on... oh, golly, any number of people. However, I haven't watched a program because a person was on it since I watched Sisters for Sela Ward.

14. The last time I cried was... watching Flashpoint last week. It was a CBS News special about reporter Kimberly Dozier's near death experience in Iraq from an IED. Her soundman and cameraman died, as did a soldier and his translator.

15. My cell phone is... missing.

16. When I wake up in the morning... I start ruminating about what needs to be done. Then I end up doing a list of things not on the list at all.

17. Before I go to bed... I often play Internet backgammon.

18. Right now I am thinking about... caffeine.

19. Babies are... statements of optimism in a sometimes miserable world.

20. I go on MySpace... almost never, even though I have a page.

21. Today I... answer a bunch of question about a blog I helped initiate last week.

22. Tonight I... hope to watch one of those episodes from six weeks of Scrubs, Earl or the office. That was on my list LAST week; saw one Earl.

23. Tomorrow I... go play racquetball in the morning, if the three-year old and I get out of the house in time.

24. I really want to... get a massage.

25. Someone who will most likely repost this? I haven't a clue; Eddie could.
Don't steal beer in Montana
"I know I don't know most celebs in real life, and therefore shouldn't go throwing haterade at them left and right ... but man, I cannot stand Paris Hilton." - Jen Hubley, About.Com. Haterade - I like that.


Monday, June 04, 2007

My Back Is Killing Me

On Memorial Day, I was carrying Lydia's not-so-little red wagon down the back step of the house. I stepped down on what should have been the penultimate step and ended up on my back, the wagon on top of me. I discovered that step was lower on the left side by about an inch and a quarter than it was on the right.

You might think 1.25 inches isn't much, but when you can't actually SEE the steps, it's like a chasm. Falling down these stairs, at least in this case, is somewhat like sliding into second base. One starts vertically, and ends up horizontal. The difference is intentionality; I didn't plan to land on my backside carrying the wagon. (Also, no one in Major League Baseball seems to slide feet first anymore.)

Immediately after the fall, I thought, "I need to sue the landlord." Then I had that annoying realization: I AM the landlord. When you've lived in housing owned by others for the vast majority of your life, home ownership, even after eight years, is still a bit of a foreign concept.

The house I grew up in was owned by my maternal grandmother, which, as I think back on it, may have contributed to the tension between her and my father. My parents didn't buy their own place until shortly after I went to college.

So, I've been a renter most of my life. This means I've moved a number of times, some number north of 20, maybe as many as 30; I forget. Given the fact that I didn't move from the time I was six months old until I went to college, that meant about once a year in my adulthood prior to being a homeowner. Since I stayed some places longer than a year, other places were much shorter. 1977, e.g., I was in Charlotte, NYC and New Paltz. In 1978, I was at three different addresses in Schenectady, four if you count the four days I spent at one location.

But the rate of change has slowed, I spent 4.5 years in one apartment before I got married. One year in the house Carol bought before we met, and now seven years here.

The downside of moving so often are that it's harder to peg time. "Oh, that happened when I was living on Madison Avenue; must have been '82 or '83." the other downside is that the ability for stuff to clutter up certain rooms is so much easier. But I'll deal.

Oh, and the back is still sore, as is my left knee, which I seem to have hyperextended. I say "seem" because I haven't gone to the doctor, yet. I will if it isn't better soon.
And speaking of stuff, we have an overstuffed chair and a pull-out sofa bed that we've been trying to get rid of (i.e., give away if someone would just haul it off) for weeks. The chair's going on the curb this week, the sofa next. The street entrepreneurs, I hope, will pick them up before they end up in the landfill. I've tired of having two stuffed chairs and two sofas in the living room.
Things I like about June: music on PBS. Alison Krauss live and also a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald on Wednesday. Later in the month, the Gershwin Award to Paul Simon, with a whole bunch of folks singing Simon songs.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dateline: Choctaw Ridge, Mississippi

June 3: Today, long-time residents of this delta town recall the mysterious death of Billie Joe MacAllister, who jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. No reason was ever established for the suicide, although some witnesses alleged that young MacAllister and a young woman were seen earlier tossing something off the bridge.

Every year on this date, I almost always remember Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry, which came out 40 years ago this fall. I even own the LP named after the song, which I believe I got from the Capitol Records Club via the "negative option"; i.e., I failed to mail in the refusal card in time. The meaning of the song has been long dissected. I think as one person wrote, it was ancient the day it came out. It said a lot by saying so little. What WAS thrown off the bridge? I remember the local radio station near Binghamton, WENE, running a contest about that, in the day. The winning entry was a diamond ring. Most theorists, though, had more sinister theories.

There was a 1976 movie, directed by Max Baer, Jr., Jethro Bodine from The Beverly Hillbillies, which as I recall, was awful AND offensive, and came up with a theory for Billy Joe's death that was a preposterous leap from the evidence given in the song. BTW, the name was spelled Billie Joe on the album, but most lyrics cite it as Billy Joe.

The tune, which rivaled only American Pie five years later in that era for discussions of the true meaning of the song, was never really clarified by songwriter Gentry. The song was parodied by Dylan in Clothesline Saga. But my favorite piece of trivia about the song is that it can be sung to the tune of Prince's 1999. It's not a perfect fit, but pretty close!

It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day.
I was out choppin' cotton, and my brother was balin' hay.
And at dinner time we stopped, and we walked back to the house to eat.
And mama hollered at the back door "y'all remember to wipe your feet."
And then she said she got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge
Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

Papa said to mama as he passed around the blackeyed peas,
"Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense, pass the biscuits, please."
"There's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow."
Mama said it was shame about Billy Joe, anyhow.
Seems like nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge,
And now Billy Joe MacAllister's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billy Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show.
And wasn't I talkin' to him after church last Sunday night?
"I'll have another piece of apple pie, you know it don't seem right.
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge,
And now you tell me Billy Joe's jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

Mama said to me "Child, what's happened to your appetite?
I've been cookin' all morning and you haven't touched a single bite.
That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today,
Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday. Oh, by the way,
He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge
And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

A year has come 'n' gone since we heard the news 'bout Billy Joe.
Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo.
There was a virus going 'round, papa caught it and he died last spring,
And now mama doesn't seem to wanna do much of anything.
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on Choctaw Ridge,
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Potpourri of Questions

Please answer any that strike your fancy.

1. Mr. Burgas found this article about a library dropping the Dewey Decimal System in favor of shelving "by topic, similar to the way bookstores arrange books". This hurts my head, not because I'm married to Dewey - my library actually uses Library of Congress - but because shelving by DDC or LoC IS arranging by topic. But maybe I'm missing something here.
a. How are the books, etc., in the libraries you use arranged?
b. How would you prefer they be arranged?

2. Several folks have linked to the story about e-mail bankruptcy, i.e., to say, "My e-mail's overwhelmed me. I give up. Let's start over."
a. On average, how many e-mails do you get a day at work? At home? How many sit in that limbo-land at any given time, waiting for some sort of action? For me it's about 150 at work, 30 at home. Occasionally, I'll get rid of work e-mail at home. At any given time, I have between 60-150 work e-mails and 10 home e-mails waiting for me to do SOMETHING. Sometimes, it's posting on a blog. The solutions in the article, phone calls and Instant Messaging would not work for me AT ALL; they'd be too distracting. How about for you? And how's your spam content? The so-called king of spam was arrested this week. About 2% of my work e-mail and 10% of my personal e-mail is spam in a given week.

3. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez ticked off some people when as a runner, he misled an opposing fielder, noted here. Was this OK, or out of bounds? Deception has always been a part of the game. A pitcher's pickoff move. Hidden ball tricks. An outfielder pretending to catch a ball to keep runners at bay. Phantom double plays, where the middle infielder's foot is in the general vicinity of second base. The A-Rod incident didn't bother me at all.
Prove the world is flat. Win $5,000!


Friday, June 01, 2007

"A splendid time is guaranteed"

It was 20 years ago today: Sgt. Pepper came out on CD, honoring the 20th anniversary of the release of the Sgt. Pepper LP. I bought the LP sometime in June 1967 for $3.67 at W.T. Grant's, and while I wasn't immediately overwhelmed by the music - I was, eventually, especially "Getting Better" and "Fixing a Hole" - I did realize that the album was something special.

It was the cover, often parodied (see here, starting with 240) - but this will change as more titles are added) and all the cool stuff enclosed in the package, such as the sergeant stripes - I still have that sheet SOMEWHERE.) The lyrics actually being listed indicated that they were (gasp!) IMPORTANT.

With very few exceptions, it seems as though the idea of The Album - i.e., a collection of songs designed to be put together as a coherent whole - is endangered. If Sgt. Pepper were released today, would the individual cuts get downloaded, thus missing the impact of the coherent whole?

There have been few covers of songs from Sgt. Pepper, save for Joe Cocker's classic rendition of "With a Little Help From My Friends", that have really stood out for me. Recently, I was able to hear the MOJO recording of the package, which didn't send me. Bill Cosby, on his "Hooray for the Salvation Army Band" album did a cover of the title tune, with female backup singers: strange.

One exception is the take of Sgt. Pepper by a group called Big Daddy. "With a Little Help from My Friends" as "Chances Are" by Johnny Mathis. "Mr. Kite" turned into Palisades Park". "A Day in the Life" as a couple Buddy Holly tunes. And possibly my favorite, "Within You Without You" as a beatnik send-up. Good stuff.
JEOPARDY answer from 5/15/2007 under YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED for $600: "Title of the 1965 Beatles No. 1 hit song that is a calendrical impossibility." Response below.
Am I going to be going to Starbucks to get the new Paul McCartney album on June 5? Well, it does sound intriguing, but I'd like to hear a review or two beforehand. Macca's last album, 2005's "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard", which I have, was pretty good, so history would suggest he's due for another dud. But I'll keep a good thought. Here's the first video. BTW, I have a copy of the Macca interview in the June 4, 2007 New Yorker.
A link to the Smithereens' "I Want To hold Your Hand. And another link, in case the first one goes away.
J question: What is "Eight Days a Week"?