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Monday, March 31, 2008

Forgotten Foods

ADD wrote a forgotten foods piece about foods that were common at his family's dinner table when he was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s that he no longer eats; I thought I'd do the same though I'm more than a decade older.

But before making my list, which will be relatively short, I'd comment on HIS list.

Rack of Lamb with Mint Jelly - had this on Easter Sunday for the first time in years. I'd forgotten how much I liked it.

Harvey Wallbanger Cake - don't know if I ever had this. Certainly my mother didn't make it.

Liver and Onions - when I was a bit anemic earlier this year, I went out and had liver with onions. Onions have to be sauteed. A half pound of liver and a whole package of frozen spinach. I liked it. Neither my wife or daughter were around, but my wife came home and could smell it, and I don't mean the onions.

Chipped Beef on Toast - I'd forgotten about this. I did have this. Whether it was at my house, my grandmother's, or at a restaurant, I don't remember, but I do recall liking it.

Codfish - Yes, Alan, I do recall frozen cod, though in a paper box. Another one I haven't had in decades.

Turkey Soup after Thanksgiving - Still happens at my in-laws' house, and, on the rare time that Thanksgiving's been at my house, at mine.

Spam - I know I bought this even in my twenties, but not for as long time.

Vienna Sausages - I know I ate them at some point in my distant past, but I can't remember what they tasted like.

Beets - Specifically, can beets in my childhood. HATED them. HATED them. Had to eat them. Put mustard on them to kill the taste, which was only marginally successful. Beets to me are as broccoli was to GHWB; I'm a grown-up, don't have to eat them. Did I mention I HATED them?

Mincemeat Pie - like ADD, served at Thanksgiving. Like ADD, I passed, though always took a bite to see if my taste buds had developed. After all, everyone said it was "good", and it was pie. Usually, I like pie; not this time.

Filet Mignon - did NOT have in my childhood. Probably last had on my birthday two or three years ago.

Raw Oysters and Frogs Legs - Nope.

So, what else do I remember from my childhood? Canned everything.
Canned juice, mostly DelMonte; do they make that any more? You took a can opener made a hole in one side, a slightly smaller hole on the other and pour it right out of the can. Later, when we feared contamination from the "tin" can, poured it into a pitcher.
Canned waxed beans. Vile, unappetizing yellow beans. Tasted like, lessee - wax.
Also, canned carrots, peas, beans, spinach - canned spinach, despite Popeye's claims, wasn't very good.
Canned sweet potatoes.
The only thing we still have in cans are fruits and soups.

Suddenly, I'm not all that hungry.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Roger Answers Your Questions, Jaquandor

Jaquandor, who kindly plugged Ask Roger Anything asks:

1. List at least three movies that you love despite the fact that the world has united against them in abject hatred.

You mean like your love of Titanic? Initially, I was really hard pressed to think of one. OK, I did consider one, Continental Divide, with John Belushi and Blair Brown. The critics I read at the time savaged it. I went to Rotten Tomatoes to verify this, and what do I find? 75% positive; of course, that was only 6 out of 8 critics who liked it. Maybe it's aged better. I have a great affection for the 1945 version of State Fair, while not pillaged (and regarded far better than the 1962 Pat Boone version), was rated only so-so compared to the 1933 version. Finally, Requiem for A Dream wasn't exactly hated, but with its unrated status and difficult content, it's no surprise that the 2000 film only did $2,546,851. Ellen Burstyn should have won the Oscar that year rather than Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich, though that might have been Julia's best performance.

But then I remembered some movies I saw 30 years ago that I haven't seen since - a 1977-78 trilogy of films of the Burt Reynolds/Sally Field oeuvre. Smokey and the Bandit, about running beer across county lines, with Jackie Gleason; The End, a comedy about bungled suicide, with Dom DeLuise; and Hooper, about a stunt man. My girlfriend at the time really liked them, and I found myself enjoying them as well in spite of myself.

And how about a film that I haven't seen in 40 years? Mark Evanier lobbied for it to be released on DVD, and it is so. The Night They Rated Minsky’s – my first movie that I attended that was rated M for mature audiences; this later became GP, then PG. I remember who I saw it with: my friend Carol (not to be confused with my wife) and her friend Judy (for whom I had an unrequited crush). I remember the songs (You Rat You, Perfect Gentleman, the title tune, plus Take 10 Terrific Girls - But Only Nine Costumes, which I know by heart) because I own the soundtrack, on vinyl, given to me by my grandfather, a janitor at a radio station (WNBF, Binghamton, NY). He got it because the station was THROWING IT AWAY. I remember the opening, done by Rudy Vallee: "In 1925 there was this real religious girl, and by accident -- she invented the striptease. This real religious girl. In 1925. Thank you." I may have to watch the DVD just to see if the film, the first one with Elliott Gould and the last one with Bert Lahr, is as much fun as the soundtrack is or as good as I remember.

2. Since I assume you do a fair share of toy shopping these days, are there any toys you see out there that make you think, "Wow, I wish I'd had that when I was a kid!" Or, conversely, are you the type to go to an antiques store with your kid, see the toys you yourself played with, and subject your kid to lectures about how much better those toys were?

She has some toys, notably her train set which is much more sophisticated than anything I had, and her cars with a track, but I don't covet them, mostly because, generally speaking, I've ODed on "stuff".
Nor do I try to force my childhood on her, though she just got a ball and bat, not exactly a Wiffle ball, but similar. I suppose some day I hope she can appreciate the wonder that is Slinky, but I guess I don't worry about it much. She seems happy so far with her stuffed bears, dolls, books, videos, puzzles, and coloring books for now.

3. What does the entire area of New York State west of, say, Troy have to do to get Albany to realize how bad things are out here?! (By "Albany" I mean of course our state government and not people who just live and work in Albany.)

Given the bath the state government has taken over the Wall Street crisis (Bear Stearns, et al.), recognition of the problem may not be the issue, it's doing anything substantial about it.

4. Describe something that makes you laugh deep and hearty, despite the fact that few other people think it's funny.

Bad puns. Henhouse Five Plus Two doing In the Mood like chickens; indeed anything that is done in the style of chickens. Ode to Joy per chicken. Smoke on the Water per chicken.

5. KFC: Original or Extra Crispy? (I prefer Original myself.)

And speaking of chicken: oh, original. The extra crispy tastes like cardboard. That said, can't remember the last time I had KFC - it was since I've been married but before Lydia was born.
Actually, I have a historic fondness for KFC. On or around my 19th birthday at college in New Paltz, my roommate, my girlfriend, my best college friend and some others conspired with my parents (who came with my sisters from Binghamton, a couple hours away) to have a surprise party for me. I was surprised, in part because I walked into my room and my glasses steamed up. I took off my glasses to clean them and noticed over a dozen people in my room, none of whom I could make out - is that my father over there? They brought KFC, and there were leftovers that the poor college student ate over the next several days.

6. What scares you more: John McCain continuing George Bush's foreign policy, or John McCain continuing George Bush's economic policy?

You seem to suggest that George W. Bush HAS an economic policy. OK, the rich get richer. But even THAT'S not working very well lately. McCain has shown no grasp of economics at all. And it's difficult to separate the foreign/defense policy of spend without ceasing from our economic woes. OK, I'll pick foreign policy, because if we continue to isolate ourselves, that is NOT in our national interest.
Here's the awful thing: I think John McCain has a very good chance of winning in November. I saw a poll recently and Clinton Leads Pack in Negative Ratings; moreover, in the self-selecting poll AOL had, the results were the same:
Clinton 28% positive, 61% negative, 11% neutral Total Votes: 650,265
McCain 42, 32, 26; 604,308
Obama 38, 47, 15; 618,110
Yes, McCain is the only one with greater positive than negative ratings. Also note the vote totals; more people went out of their way to dis Hillary than Barack or John. Meanwhile, the Hillary supporters are beginning to hate Barack, and vice versa, and threatening to vote for McCain, or no one in the general election. A huge number of women in particular will be most disappointed if Clinton loses and will opt out; likewise, Obama supporter, many young and/or black, will not embrace the former First Lady. I have a BAD feeling about this; I hope I'm wrong.

Oh, the woman in the picture: Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, who some tout as Vice-Presidential on the McCain ticket. "The first-ever woman Governor of Alaska, its youngest (44) governor, and the first to have been born after Alaska became a state. A onetime beauty queen, high school athlete, and TV reporter, Palin was elected mayor of Washila in 1996 and, two years ago, made national headlines by defeating present and past governors to win the state's highest office." Unfortunately, the pundits observe, Alaska only has three electoral votes and is likely to go Republican anyway. I STILL think McCain's picking a governor or former governor as his running mate.


Saturday, March 29, 2008


1. I was listening to the Coverville podcast this week. Brian played Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting by The Who from Two Rooms: Celebrating The Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin and noted that Elton John also covered the Who's Pinball Wizard. So your mission, should you decide to accept, is to find other examples of besides these discovered by Fred Hembeck, my co-workers and me:

Beatles- You Really Got A Hold on Me
Smokey Robinson- And I Love Her

Elvis- Hey Jude (a pretty horrific version)
Paul McCartney- That's Alright Mama, It's Now or Never

Fats Domino - Lady Madonna
Paul McCartney - I'm in Love Again

Little Richard- I Saw Her Standing There
Beatles- Long Tall Sally, Hey Hey Hey Hey

Ray Charles - Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby
Beatles - Hallelelujah I Love Her So

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - And I Love Her
Beatles-You've Really Got A Hold On Me

Simon & Garfunkel - The Times They Are A-Changin' (from Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.)
Bob Dylan - The Boxer (from Self-Portrait)

Tim Hardin - Simple Song of Freedom
Bobby Darin - If I Were a Carpenter, Lady Came from Baltimore, Reason To Believe

Versions should be commercially available (CD, mp3).

2. Mark Evanier wrote about the missing title tune to the animated Disney classic 101 Dalmatians, which I really enjoyed.

And I can relate, somewhat. When I bought the Yellow Submarine single, the lyrics went:
As we live a life of ease (a life of ease)
Every one of us (every one of us)
Has all we need (has all we need).
But on the Revolver album version, there's no "a life of ease" echo. Finally, on one of those four-song "singles" CDs that came out at the time of the Beatles Anthology series, a version of Yellow Sub, with the "a life of ease" echo! I wasn't crazy.

Now all I need is some proof that the Simon & Garfunkel song Bridge over Troubled Water is in a different key (or at least a different playback speed) on the single than it was on the album.
So, my question: what aspect of music, film, TV or other entertainment do you remember differently than is commonly recalled?


Friday, March 28, 2008

Roger Answers Your Questions, Gordon

Gordon, who knows I've met Rod Serling, asks these questions:

1) What's your favorite Twilight Zone episode?

Certainly, Time Enough At Last with Burgess Meredith:

The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street with Claude Akins and Jack Weston, and A Game of Pool with Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters are up there. It's a Good Life with Billy Mumy and The Dummy with Cliff Robertson and Frank Sutton scared me as a kid.
But perhaps, as a librarian, I relate most to The Obsolete Man with Burgess Meredith and Fritz Weaver, about librarians and religion and politics, which can be seen, in three parts, below:

Yes, it's heavy-handed and preachy, but that's OK by me.

2) What have you been asked to do professionally that has you going, "I can't believe they pay me to do this?"

When I worked at the Schenectady Arts Council on a CETA grant in 1978 into January 1979, I was hired as a bookkeeper and to run a biweekly craft show, but there really wasn't that much to do to fill 35 or 40 hours a week, though I was on the telephone selling ads for a benefit to revitalize Proctor's Theatre for a couple weeks. So I found other things to take on. The dancer, Darlene, was teaching elementary school kids dance in the elementary schools, including disco, and she needed a partner, so I was drafted. The secretary, Susan, decided that she and I would go sing to the developmentally disabled from time to time. I loved that job, loved dealing with artists and musicians, and we stopped only because the money ran out.

3) What's the deal with "Chocolate Rain"? I don't get it.

You mean this thing that got 16 million hits and won some YouTube award?

Damned if I know. I have little idea WHY something becomes a hit on the Internet: LOLcats or lonelygirl15 - don't really get it.
That said, let me spitball here. It may be the juxtaposition of the unexpected. This nerdy-looking black guy with a deep voice that one might not be anticipating, with lyrics that seem to be saying SOMETHING, but we're not sure what; better play it again. Or maybe it's that he's put his listeners in a trance with the keyboards.
The footer to an e-mail I received yesterday (no, I don't know the parties involved)-
Mr. Diefenbaker:...I mentioned the cost of living a moment ago, and while I speak the cost of living has gone up.
Mr. St. Laurent: You should stop speaking.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

At the Old Ball Game

It's baseball season already? Two games in the books, played in Japan, and a full slate starting next week. Weren't some games postponed last year because of snow?

A baseball - will it blend?

Still, I love baseball. I love its traditions. I love its attention to arcane statistics. Speaking of which: What team and in what season did every player with over 300 at-bats had a batting average over .300, the only time in history this has happened?

Baseball is.... narrated by the legendary announcer Ernie Harwell - I have this on CD

The hardest part of the new season is finding out where players got traded to. I know pitcher Johan Santana signed with the Mets and that Mets OF Lastings Milledge was traded, but not much else.

A version of Abbott & Costello's Who's On First different from the version I own on CD

Baseball by Bill Cosby, from the album 'To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With'

According to this story, actor Richard Widmark, who died this week, was the father-in-law of Dodger Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.

Baseball and Football by George Carlin: I own a different version on LP. This one seems more recent, more expansive. I most love that final description of football.

The answer to the trivia question: the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals. I did not know that; I would have picked the 1927 Yankees.
Oh, and it's March Madness in college basketball. I know for nothing about it, yet managed to get 15 of 16 right on the first day. I picked Davidson over Georgetown! I picked Siena, located in Albany County, NY over Vanderbilt! And I still lead my pool. The bad news: I had Pitt going to the Final Four, losing to UCLA (with UNC beating Kansas, and UCLA over UNC). All my remaining picks are overdogs. Go, Bruins!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Lydster, Part 48: Lydia is Four

Random thoughts for the occasion.

Lots of people say things like, "Can you believe it's been four years? The time goes by so FAST!" Yes, I believe it's been four years. I'm never quite sure what I'm supposed to say when folks utter such folk wisdom. Usually, I nod my head and say "Hmmm."
I've been grousing about the early change of the clocks, which may not even save energy. Used to be that when I need Lydia to wake up at 6:20, so we can catch the 7 a.m. bus, I could just raise the shades, and she'd get up. But it's DARK at what was 5:20 a.m., standard time, in March. She took a couple weeks to adjust to the new time. Heck, I'M still tired in the morning.

She definitely has a pecking order when it comes her playthings. Whereas all of her dolls (most of them called Hannah) used to rule, now it's the stuffed bears (Elizabeth and TeddyTeddy) and the stuffed lamb. The dolls? "They're just dolls!", but the creatures are her "sisters"; very strange.

Lydia is one of the youngest kids in her class and one of the tallest. There may be a boy who's taller, but he's several months her senior. She is reasonably well, though she had had a touch of whatever was going around earlier this month. She's only gained a pound or two in recent months, but is getting harder to lift. She's been in a real hug and cuddle mood; I hear that this passes, so I shan't complain.

She's pretty smart. Some books she reads to me. I don't think she's actually reading them as much as reciting from memory based on the pictures, but it's fun to be read to. She can count to 29; she stubbornly rejected my suggestion for "thirty" in favor of "twenty-ten". She also knows what the color turquoise is, which I'm pretty sure I didn't when I was four.

I still am not using the digital camera. These pictures were all on the same disposable camera I'd use then forget about, then use, then misplace. So it's a lovely coincidence that it covers well the past few months of her life.

Happy birthday, Lydia!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Roger Answers Your Questions, Nik and Scott

Nik, the expat in New Zealand asks: I'll go all deep -- so has the coverage/reaction to the Obama campaign so far made you MORE hopeful about race in America or LESS hopeful?

Scott asks: Clinton aide Ferraro makes a racist-type remark about Obama, and the Clinton campaign barely has to say anything to be excused. The pastor of the church Obama attends (who is not working for Obama) makes racist-type remarks, and Obama has to continually distance himself from them. It seems obvious to me that racism is even present in this scenario. How do you feel about these events?

OK. Let me try to answer this in a coherent way, because I've found the last week rather mind-boggling. First, I've long thought that Barack Obama's attempt to run a campaign for President of the United States without race being a major issue was incredibly naive and/or disingenuous. I didn't think that country is/was "post-racial" enough for that. I figured that, sooner or later, race would come to the fore. And it did, in subtle ways with Bill Clinton comparing Obama's South Carolina win to Jesse Jackson's; hey, they're both black. But here's the thing: as much as Barack has tried to downplay it, pssst, he is partly black.
And notice how well Obama's done among the different constituent over time. He wowed 'em in Iowa, a largely white state, which made some black Americans nervous. But once it appeared the Hillary Clinton campaign was trying to paint Barack as black, playing, if you will, the "race card", he became the "black" candidate. The Mississippi primary is instructive, as Obama got about 90% of the black vote and less than 30% of the white vote.
The Jeremiah Wright situation was problematic not just for the reverend's rhetoric but because it reminded people once again: he goes to a black church; he must!
Geraldine Ferraro was clumsy in her wording. She could have said something like "the black community must be very proud how well Barack is doing" and gotten across the same message - that he's a black man - and still be on the Hillary team.
So, Nik, in answer to your specific question - am I MORE hopeful about race in America or LESS hopeful? - the answer is yes. I thought it was a GREAT speech that Obama gave last week, one that made me MORE sure of Obama than before, but as I noted here, it's been misinterpreted or heard merely in soundbites.
Scott, I don't know that the coverage is racist as much as it's "If it bleeds, it leads" inflammatory. The perception I'm getting that, OK, he's the Obama pastor for 20 years; let's say he was sitting in the pews for 50 weeks a year. This means that Barack and his wife heard this "God Damn AmeriKKKa" rhetoric 1000 times AND subjected their daughters to it dozens of times as well. The assumption seems to be that's the sermon topic EVERY week, which is clearly not the case by all informed reports. So Barack, a state senator in Springfield, 200 miles and over 3 hours away from Chicago for a number of years before being in Washington, DC, probably hadn't heard hundreds of examples of vitriol, as the case seemed to be painted.

Finally, slightly off the topic, I started attending a (predominantly white) church in Albany in June 1982, started attending regularly in January 1983, became a member in December 1984, and took on leadership roles in the church. Stuff happened often - I won't get into it here, but it involved the pastor - but it wasn't until February 2000 that I largely stopped attending, and I was still going to meetings at my old church as late as August 2000. It wasn't until 2002 that I ended my membership with my old church and joined my new one. So I sympathize greatly with the notion that one just doesn't abandon one's church lightly, for the people are the church, not the pastor.


Monday, March 24, 2008

iTunes MEME

From Johnny B.:

Instructions: Open up your iTunes and fill out this survey, no matter how embarrassing the responses might be.

How many songs total: 829
How many hours or days of music: 2.1 days

Most recently played: Billy Joel- Elvis Presley Boulevard
Most played: Simon & Garfunkel - A Simple Desultory Philippic
Most recently added: Mike Nesmith, Complete First National Band Recordings

Sort by song title:
First Song: About a Girl-Nirvana
Last Song: Zydeco Gris Gris- BeauSoleil

Sort by time:
Shortest Song: "Eat for Two" 10,000 Maniacs (cut off)(0:16); Holiday Greetings from Hello (Hello Family Santa Special) (0:20)
Longest Song: 17:07 (some unidentified noodling song; in fact the 11 longest songs are all unknown)
Longest song I can actually identify: Africa Talks to You (8:45) Sly & the Family Stone from There's a Riot Going On

Sort by album:
First album: Amandla! soundtrack
Last album: Toy Story 2 soundtrack

First song that comes up on Shuffle: Graceland- Willie Nelson

Search the following and state how many songs come up:
Death - 0
Life - 15
Love - 56
Hate - 2
You - 76
Sex - 2


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and GayProf

Happy Easter! Appropriately, I'm answering questions from a couple of good eggs.

Scott, who I recently offered a few questions to, has responded in kind.

1. Who do you think will win the NL East this year?

Why, the M-M-M-M-Meh-Meh-Meh-Meh. I'd rather not say; I don't want to jinx them. They have a new front-line pitcher which should avoid that near-record collapse from last year.

2. Who is your favorite singer?

Gee, that's hard. I like lots of different singers for a lot of different moods. People such as Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke certainly would be on the list, but so would a lot of rockers. I find it difficult to separate the vocal from the material. Mike Love of the Beach Boys has a bit of a nasally sound to his voice, yet those BB songs on which he sings lead work for me. Other living singers? Cassandra Wilson immediately comes to mind.

3. Who is your favorite comic book hero? (Gay Prof adds: "I hope the answer to question number 3 from Scott is Wonder Woman.")

Oh, GP, I so do hate disappointing you. Let me explain how I got into comics in college. A new friend of mine collected them. I thought he was crazy, then I started looking at them. The first one I bought was Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1. I thought he was pretty cool. (Later, he decided to change his name to the boring Power Man, and my interest waned.)
Luke Cage appeared in the shadows of Amazing Spider-Man #122 and was on the cover of #123, which got me interested in the webslinger. At about the same time, I was interested in Sub-Mariner #50 (or so) at a point when Bill Everett, the golden age artist who had created Namor, returned to the book. In fact, Sub-Mariner was the first book I sought out back issues of. I got into the Defenders because Namor was in it, then the Avengers because of the Defenders-Avengers war. So I was a Marvel zombie. I'd say my favorites are Spider-Man, Namor and Luke Cage, but I discount anything that might have happened in the last decade or so.
Conversely, I really wasn't interested in the mainline DC superheroes that eventually bored me in my childhood (Superman, Batman, Flash). By the time I DID look at Wonder Woman, she wasn't even wearing the star-spangelled garb. These stories were so damn EARNEST - they marketed some of them as "Women's Lib" issues - their term, not mine. I owned this particular issue, maybe my first, but didn't stay with it long, I'm afraid, GP.

4. What was your favorite subject in school?

Spelling. Eye wuz allwayz a gud speler. And math. I always liked arithmetic and algebra. I like how if you have a long number and the digit adds up to nine, then it's divisible by nine. Numbers are magic. I'm more likely to remember someone's phone number than someone's name.

5. What was the toughest subject for you in school?

Shop. I had it in seventh and eighth grade - wood, ceramics and something else. The wood items never came out evenly; the ceramic things kept blowing up in the kiln. Strangely, ninth grade metal shop wasn't so bad, maybe because the tools were more precise so I couldn't muck things up so much.

GayProf: My question would be what food is your ultimate "comfort food?"

Mac and cheese. My wife makes it, grating the cheese. We're not talking blue boxes of Kraft here.

Scott, I'll answer your other question soon; it's tied into Nik's, and should best be answered together.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sex, drugs and politics QUESTION

Here's a promise for you: I'm never running for elective political office. You never know what skeletons, or even perceived skeletons, might pop up. Well, maybe when I'm 70, when I will be able to honestly say, "I don't remember" when asked about my presumably sordid past.

I'm thinking about this because New York's NEW governor, David Paterson, is caught up in some sexual infidelity. Truth is, I don't much care because it's none of my business, and, unlike his predecessor, "I'm a f***ing steamroller" Spitzer, he hadn't set the morals bar so high that his affairs are major disappointments. Mostly because most people outside of Albany didn't even know who David Paterson was until a little over a week ago. In any case, he's likely to survive this politically because he would be succeeded by the Senate Majority Leader, who is a REPUBLICAN, Joe Bruno.

This begs the questions:
1) How much of a person's personal life should be open to the public when he or she is considering running for public office?
2) How far does one get to dig about someone's history and place as relevant? I recall that GWB said some years ago that he had not done certain drugs (cocaine, I believe) in the previous 25 years, answered in such a way that it suggested that perhaps he HAD used it earlier than that. As much as I dislike GWB politically - and I mean a WHOLE lot - I don't much care about an old drug bust.


Friday, March 21, 2008


Just after my birthday this year, after all the various members of my family were sick, and my wife had, a few days earlier, taken a tumble in the bathtub, appeared an obituary in the local newspaper for someone named Carol A. Green, which is my wife's name. This woman was 48, a couple years older than my wife, had four brothers (Carol had three). There were other facts that suggested that it wasn't my Carol (the deceased Carol's parents were deceased, she had had a lengthy illness, she lived in East Greenbush - across the river, and she was apparently Roman Catholic.)

That's not as bizarre, though, as something that happened four and a half years ago. I was away at a conference when Carol, pregnant with Lydia, got two sympathy cards regarding the passing of her husband Roger. Since she was reasonably assured that I was not deceased at the time, she was as confused as she was startled. Turns out that a Roger Greene (with the e at the end) had died in this area and that he had a wife named Carol. The folks sending the cards got our address from the phone book. So we just sent the cards back to the senders with an explanation.

In any case, condolences to the family of Carol A. Green, to whom I am not related.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Another Equinox-Driven ASK ROGER ANYTHING

I've seen this recently at the electronic homes of Messrs. Jaquandor and Scooter, with me contributing a question or two (or three...), and so now now it's my turn to ask youse guys to ask me, well, anything. And I have to answer them. With the truth, not necessarily the WHOLE truth, but nothing but the truth.

You could ask: "Heyyy, didn't spring USED to be on March 21, not March 20?" and I'll say, Why, yes it did!

How am I feeling about a 260,000-square-foot Wal-Mart near Albany, the "retailer's largest in the U.S."? Yuck!

You ask me for the shortest Bible verse, and I'd say, "John 11:35".

It's all up to you. Post the questions in the comments, or e-mail me at the address in the side bar. Sometime before the end of the month, I'll answer 'em all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Iraq Plus Five

I'm not quite sure what more there is to say. Just this month, there was a study discounting the Saddam Hussein/Al-Qaeda link. This follows this 2007 report, which merely confirms what the 9/11 Commission said back in 2004. I won't even talk about the expense, which is now calculated in the TRILLIONS of dollars.

Here's a website tracking the casualties. Let us pray that we're NOT there for another hundred years.
I need to write more on this, but let me say that I really liked Obama's speech on race.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The 123 Meme

From Jaquandor, again.

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Well, I happened to be in the public library so I went to the nearest shelf, which happens to have been the 7-day loan fiction, i.e. recent popular fiction, and got Street Love: A Triple Crown Anthology (2007). From The Fink, by Quentin Carter:
Not bionic. Not super. Just lil ole Shania Freeman.

Eh, try again. Nikki Turner presents Street Chronicles: Tales from da Hood (2006). From the story 360 by The Ghost:
The two agents walked out the door. They'd gotten what they wanted. Cojack's mother kissed him on the cheek, sat down with him for a while, then headed home to get some rest."

Well, that was better. One more time: The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrahams(2007):
My interest today, however, was in only one daughter, and from what I had seen, she was hardly defenseless.
The Marquis's palace was an enormous brown stone edifice with three curved balconies and many large windows surrounded by decorative columns. Two guards stood by the door, and over their clothes they wore the sleeveless blue tunic that bore the Marquis's coat of arms, with a castle and lion embroidered in gold.

OK, consider yourselves tagged if you haven't posted in the past 33 days.


Monday, March 17, 2008

An Irish Blessing

(Found here)

From JEOPARDY!, Thursday, May 17, 2007
The largest art theft in U.S. history was at 1:24 a.m. on this date in 1990, while Boston slumbered after partying.
Apparently, there could have been some ethno-theological near-catastrophe going on today: St. Patrick's Day arrived during Holy Week. This convergence hasn't happened since 1940, when the wearing of the green collided with Palm Sunday, and before that, 1913, with the holiday on Monday of the sacred period. Of course, Albany, with its large Irish Catholic population, had its parade, check that, PARADES and The St. Patrick's Day mass, which CANNOT, apparently, be substituted for one of the Holy Week masses, on Saturday. So there can be time for both the saints AND the sinners, who, of course, are usually the same people.

Naturally, every day is St. Patrick's Day for me; with a name like Roger O'Green, how can it be otherwise?

So my friend Mary sent me some appropriate factoids from something called FITNET:

There is a factoid floating around that Coca-Cola was originally green. To the best of my research this is false and would fall under the category of urban legend. Although the concoction was at one time sold in green bottles. Maybe the rumor was related to the position the company takes on the environment.

"Lord, keep my memory green." -Charles Dickens

"Research is a scientific activity dedicated to discovering what makes grass green." -Russell Baker

"A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, 'At my age, I don't even buy green bananas.'" -Claude Pepper

"Are you green and growing or ripe and rotting?" -Ray Kroc

"Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power." -Barbara Jordan

"If you can sell green toothpaste in this country, you can sell opera." -Sarah Caldwell

"I was the toast of two continents: Greenland and Australia." -Dorothy Parker

"It's not easy being green." -Kermit the Frog
The JEOPARDY! question: What is March 18? (Check the time!)


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pray without Ceasing

During Lent, our adult education classes on Sundays and our Lenten devotional classes on Thursdays have been devoted to prayer. Sometimes, the lessons actually stick, such as the idea of praying when I turn on the computer when I get to work in the morning, then praying again when I turn it off. Of course, the way my work computer is acting lately, probably I SHOULD pray for its continued operational well-being. The worksheet also suggests setting up a screen saver with a meaningful Bible verse or enter a password of religious import. The latter I almost certainly WON’T do, only because I’m having trouble keeping track of the eight I’m rotating through as it is.

I’ve also embraced the notion of praying the newspaper, the idea of praying for those who have suffered that I read about, but also for the writer of the story who may have some residual pain over having to convey the bad news. One of the things I’ve been doing in Albany for decades is stopping when I see an emergency vehicle approach an intersection, for thrice I have seen accidents of drivers not yielding, twice at the same corner; I suppose offering up a prayer in that case couldn’t hurt.

The one thing I have embraced, surprisingly, is putting together some beads on a string with a list of things that are important. I was surprised because I suppose that it felt a little papist. (Of course, some Unitarians I used to know probably think the candle that is lit in the beginning of every session to remind us of the presence of Jesus is probably papist.) In any case, one can put together four beads for the four seasons or for the four directions. It could be seven for the days of the week or ten for the Commandments.

Somehow, mine came from a Bible verse that I memorized, WAY back in the day when I used to do that for my Friday night Bible club, which was when I was 10 to 16 years old. The one (or technically, ones) that popped out: Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." That’s the King James Version. The New International Version might make more linguistic sense: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." However, I remember it in the KJ version, so that’s what I use, moving a bead with each of the nine words starting with love.

I think that perhaps the seeming rigidity of organized religion has rendered certain activities void of meaning for many people. To that I say, start your own ritual with whatever is meaningful for you.
My church choir is performing the Duruflé Requiem Good Friday, March 21, 2008.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Getting To Know You

Three people played my little quiz last week. One, Scott, answered in his blog. One, M., answered by e-mail, and the third, Uthaclena, answered in the comments.

So, now, beware: it's my time to turn the tables and see if I can answer the same questions about them.

Where did we meet (can be electronically - if so, how did you come to this blog, and if applicable, how did I come to yours)?
S: Actually, I think he linked to my blog, or at least cited my blog, I noticed in Technorati. So I went to his blog, liked what I saw, and voila.
M: At church, mid-to-late 1980s.
U: September 12, 1971 in the basement of Bliss Hall, State University College at New Paltz, probably in a food line.

Take a stab at my middle name.
S: No idea. Bet it starts with a consonant.
M: Starts with L. Louise? No idea.
U: Starts with A.
Yes, my middle name is Owen.

Do I smoke?
S: The rare cigar.
M: No.
U: Nothing legal.
No, I don't.

Color of my eyes.
S: Look bluish in photos.
M: Brown
U: Brown.
Mine are brown.

Do I have any siblings? If so, where am I in the birth order?
S: Fortunately, you answered that here. You're the eldest, as am I.
M: Seems as though I've met a brother who I think is older.
U: You have two younger brothers.
I have two younger sisters, Leslie and and Marcia.

What's one of my favorite things to do?
S: Listen to music.
M: Listen to music.
U: Listen to music.
Whereas I NEVER listen to music, he lied.

What's my favorite type of music?
S: Prog rock.
M: At your wedding, you had someone play Ripple, so I'm going with the Dead, though you certainly like your Beatles.
U: While you like your 1960s music, you also appreciate progressive jazz.
My tastes are fairly eclectic, though 1960s Motown and Beatles are important.

Am I shy or outgoing?
S: Comfortable in your own skin.
M: Shyly outgoing.
U: Depends on the situation.
I'm probably more shy than people think.

Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules?
S: Tries to keep to the rules, except when they don't make sense.
M: Definitely knows the rules, will follow them if necessary.
U: Hates many of the rules, avoids them when he can, suffers them when he can't.
ME? I subvert the stupid ones whenever possible.

Any special talents?
S: You know more about hockey than I will ever know.
M: You're extremely talented at putting people at ease.
U: Your time as a bartender has served you well.
U identified my kazoo skills.

How many children do I have?
S: You are always making plans for Nigel.
M: One under 18, plus.
U: A daughter named after your middle name, but spelled differently.
I have Lydia.

If you and I were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing that I would
S: Some tome.
M: A first aid kit.
U: Sufficient firewood.
Me? A World Almanac

AND for a bonus question, you can share any other factoid you deign to share, as long as it's about me, and it's truthful. Preferably not mean.
S: He has a very spiritual side, quite possibly more than he realizes.
M: She used to be a party animal!
U: About the only person who could actually blackmail me.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Are the banks open?

On the January 11, 2008 episode of JEOPARDY!, the $600 clue in the category Math Rocks was this:
Kate Bush sang over 100 digits about this symbol, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. The question makes me hungry already.

Happy π Day!

I must admit a certain fascination with other people's fascination with what I learned in high school as 22/7, but which is a lot more precise than that, such as
this one:

or especially this one, which lets me know that "the string 19530307 occurs at position 20,376,164 counting from the first digit after the decimal point." Of course, it does.

Personally, I've never bothered to learn pi past the fifth digit after the decimal (3.14159), because then I'd have to worry about rounding errors. I didn't know that definition of π was implied in the Bible, though with all that calculating of the cubits, I should have guessed.

No, I've never seen the movie.

"In celebration of the day, feel free to take a moment to contemplate and enjoy the mathematics in nature (or just draw a circle)." (Stolen from my friend Annie, as was the title of the piece.)


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Q is 75

To an audience who may know Quincy Jones best as the father of actress Rashida Jones, formerly of the television show The Office, I wanted to write about the massive impact that Q has had on popular music. I went to the Wikipedia post, which was a good start, but the discography was sorely lacking. This Rolling Stone discography isn't bad, but is missing vital elements. The CBS Sunday Morning story from this past weekend, which currently isn't even online, just touches on his importance.

Personally, I own a wide range of Q's output, from some of those Frank Sinatra sides he arranged such as "Fly Me to the Moon", to those Lesley Gore hits such as "It's My Party" that he produced, the Q-production for the Brothers Johnson album that contains "Strawberry Letter #23, composer for the "Sanford and Son" theme, cat-wrangler for the "We Are the World" session, the composer/arranger for soundtrack for the television event "Roots", and possibly my favorite, the production of Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" album. Oh, yeah, and its obscure follow-up, the album known as "Thriller".

I also own a couple albums with Quincy listed as artist, Q's Jook Joint (2004), and Back on the Block (1989), both star-studded extravaganzas. If not totally successful, they show the range of the the man, from rap lite with Melle Mel and Ice-T intertwined with Tevin Campbell's Zulu chant, snatching a piece of the Ironside theme, which Q wrote; to a funky tune featuring Chaka Khan and Q's very old friend Ray Charles; to an introduction to Birdland by rappers and jazz artists; to the most successful take, an "a cappella groove" with Ella, Sarah and Bobby McFerrin, among others. Undoubtedly, there are other jazz sides and soundtracks that I'm not even aware of.

I even own some oversized photo-bio of the man. So Happy birthday, Q, and thanks for the wide range of great music.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

MOVIE REVIEW: Elizabeth: the Golden Age

One night a couple weeks ago, I couldn't sleep. So I got up and watched a DVD of the follow-up to Cate Blanchett's Oscar-nominated role playing Queen Elizabeth I from nine seasons prior. I had really liked the earlier film, which I had seen in a place around here that serves food before the film. I was interested in the intrigue, and Blanchett was marvelous.

She's still very good in this film, but the intrigue this time was so byzantine or so boring - I'm not sure which - that I didn't much care. Geoffrey Rush's Sir Francis Walsingham is skulking around on who knows what side of the issue.

I did rather enjoy Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh and Abbie Cornish as Beth. In fact, it was when Raleigh first appears that I came out of my stupor.

If I remember correctly, the the number 1585 come up on the screen even before the title of the film. "I'll bet that an event takes place three years hence will be in this movie," I thought, and so it was, but it had a "I've seen it all before" quality.

I'm convinced that if you come into the movie with low expectations - the critics were generally unkind - then you might enjoy it for what it is, but it's definitely a lesser epic.
I've now managed to see all five Best Actress performances for 2007. Historically, this is not all that unusual, but lately, it's extraordinary. And if I were voting, I would have picked Julie Christie for Away From Her. Marion Cotillard lost points because she was lip-synching, quite well, to Edith Piaf and to Piaf sound-alike Jil Aigrot. My second favorite performance actually was Ellen Page in Juno.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dead Man Walking

As the Sheriff of Wall Street slinks into the sunset, New Yorkers are left with Disbelief. Disappointment. Disgust.

When I first heard the story, I thought, somehow, that Governor Spitzer was involved in the indictment of a prostitution ring. He was, but not at all in the way I could possibly have imagined.

If it were a case of a guy falling off the fidelity wagon, the average politician might very well survive that. But when it's Eliot Spitzer, the self-proclaimed paragon of virtue, busily fighting corruption as NYS Attorney General; when it's "it'll be different" when he's governor from "Day One"; when he's well-known for chastising the moral compass of subordinates, it becomes difficult to shake a prostitution charge, and at the Mayflower Hotel in DC, of all places. Especially when it appears that there was an ongoing relationship with this prostitution ring going back to last July, not just a one-time fling on the day before Valentine's Day (how sweet) with money being laundered to hide his identity.

If the hypocrite isn't already gone this morning, he will be soon, if only because he no longer has the moral authority to govern. Yesterday, at his press conference, so short that it was shown in its entirety on the local news stations, he said in his apology that it was a private matter, and while he does have much explaining to do to his wife (one of his chief legal advisers!) and his three daughters, aged 13 to 17, he has much to explain to the rest of us.

I got this from a conservative website: "This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multi-tiered management structure... It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring." -- Governor [then Attorney General] Eliot Spitzer (D-NY), on the 2004 break-up of a Staten Island prostitution ring

Is it strange to think that a man with daughters would be less likely to be involved with a prostitute five or six older than his oldest daughter? Perhaps. Undoubtedly, it's sexist to be surprised that a man would cheat on his quite attractive, as well as extremely intelligent, wife.

The fallout of this is that the next governor of New York, David Patterson, will be black and legally blind. Son of the NYC-based politician Basil Patterson, who ran for Lieutenant Governor back in 1970 (Arthur Goldberg and Basil lost to Nelson Rockefeller/and Malcolm Wilson), David will be a more conciliatory figure than Eliot Spitzer, who described himself a a "f***ing steamroller". Whether we'll have an on-time budget - it's due by April 1 - is up in the air.

I voted for Eliot Spitzer for governor in 2006 to try to change the dysfunctionality of Albany. That he wasn't able to do that in Year One, with distractions such as Troopergate and licenses for illegal aliens, was merely disappointing. With this revelation, I feel betrayed. And much to my surprise, angry.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Three quizzes

In lieu of content:

You fit in with:

40% spiritual.
40% reason-oriented.

Your ideals are mostly spiritual, but in an individualistic way. While spirituality is very important in your life, organized religion itself may not be for you. It is best for you to seek these things on your own terms.

Take This Quiz at

School Smart

You're more of a 'school smarts' kind of person. You are best with the theoretical things, and your intelligence is both natural and learned - a blend of personal, experiential knowledge and book learnin'.

40% theoretical intelligence
0% learned intelligence

Take this quiz at

Your Theme Song:

"The Sounds Of Silence", Simon & Garfunkel

'What is your theme song?' at


Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Rainy Day

It rained all day yesterday, utterly flooding our backyard. None of us even got dressed. Three sick people muddling through. I sneezed constantly, and for some reason, it really hurt my left ear.

I watched the Oscars. The whole thing. The best line was by Tilda Swinton about George Clooney's Batman costume.
I listened to lots of music (Chess blues, Pete Droge, James Taylor).
I read about a dozen books and played catch with my daughter, who had left day care early Friday with a 101.2F fever.
I ate leftover birthday carrot cake. The birthday was pretty OK. Strangely, a highlight Friday involved visiting my sick friend, who will forever be known as Cupcake, in the hospital; he's recovering from esophageal cancer surgery he had on Monday.
I read old newspapers. For some reason, I fell behind a couple months ago and am constantly catching up. The funny thing is that the Times Union has pulled quotes from my blog on their page for The Best of Our Blogs two or three times, complete with my picture, most recently a piece on Daylight Saving Time, and I generally hear it from other people before I actually see it myself.
In fact, I feel that a week off would be great, so I can clean up by blogroll and do other maintenance. I had the time yesterday, but not the energy.

Real content soon. I hope.
Happy birthday, KD!


Saturday, March 08, 2008

How Do You Know Me QUESTIONS

OK, since it's my birthday week, I'd like you to tell me how well you know me. As added incentive, if you have a blog and post this quiz and let me know you've posted this quiz, I'll do the same for you.

Where did we meet (can be electronically - if so, how did you come to this blog, and if applicable, how did I come to yours)?

Take a stab at my middle name.

Do I smoke?

Color of my eyes.

Do I have any siblings? If so, where am I in the birth order?

What's one of my favorite things to do?

What's my favorite type of music?

Am I shy or outgoing?

Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules?

Any special talents?

How many children do I have?

If you and I were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing that I would

AND for a bonus question, you can share any other factoid you deign to share, as long as it's about me, and it's truthful. Preferably not mean.

Also, how much of this do you think is actually true:

- March 7 -
You are kind hearted and very friendly. You love attention, and you are always daydreaming in your own world. People gravitate towards
Positive Traits:
intelligent, ethical, analytical, photographic memory, intuitive
Negative Traits:
overly introverted, eccentric, uncommunicative, selfishness, cynicism

'What does your Birthdate mean?' at


Friday, March 07, 2008

Double nickel

G-55. That's G, as in Green, 55. I get to be a Bingo card call for five more years!

Every year, I take off my birthday from work. So as I wake from my Nyquil-induced fog, planning to start the day attending a daddy or grandfather/child breakfast at my daughter's day care, I'm taking off my birthday from the blog, and will leave you with the usual thing:

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

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

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


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Not boring

The only thing that sucks more than being sick is being sick around my birthday. I seem to have what half of everyone I know seems to be suffering with. My wife's been ill, too, and she took an illness-related fall on Tuesday that meant seven (count 'em, 7) hours in the ER; I went with her, and the event involved a number of brief flurries of action, followed by huge periods of waiting.

On the potential upside this week, one of my oldest friends, Karen, who I've known for 50 YEARS!, and whose birthday, not so incidentally, is March 9, sent me this Susan Miller astrology chart:

"It's rare to have Uranus so close to the Sun and moon, and if you were born on March 7 or within five days of this date, [such as Gordon, whose birthday is today] this new moon will help you advance your hopes and wishes in a big way. This will not be a boring month, by anyone's estimation!

A new moon will coincide with one's birthday only very rarely - it could be decades until this happens again - so the coming 12 months should be VERY memorable, filled with fresh starts. If you were born on or near the new moon, March 7, you more than other Pisces will feel the full effects and benefits that are about to flow forward.

The best part of this is that the new moon will be in elegant angle to Jupiter, the Great Benefactor planet, now in your solar 1st house of your personality, identity, and all dreams and desires important to you. The 1st house is the engine that drives the whole chart!"

I suppose I should note that March 7 is MY birthday. While I'm not a big believer in astrology, I don't dismiss it outright either. Anyway, I love that "the new moon will be in elegant angle to Jupiter"; I have no idea what that means, but it sounds purty.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Joe Stalin and Elvis Presley

March 5, 1953: Joseph (or Josef) Stalin died four days after what was considered to be a stroke, at the age of 74. Officially, the cause of death was listed as a cerebral hemorrhage... It has been suggested that Stalin was assassinated...In 2003, a joint group of Russian and American historians announced their view that Stalin ingested warfarin, a powerful rat poison that inhibits coagulation of the blood and so predisposes the victim to hemorrhagic stroke (cerebral hemorrhage). Since it is flavorless, warfarin is a plausible weapon of murder. The facts surrounding Stalin's death will probably never be known with certainty.
(For a long time, I used to wonder about the correlation between Stalin's death and my birth, two days later.)

March 5, 1965: A milestone in Elvis' personal life. While driving to Los Angeles to begin work on his latest film, the singer tells Larry Geller that he feels their recent religious studies haven't produced a bonafide religious "experience." Not long after, Elvis pulls over and runs into the middle of the desert when he sees a cloud formation that looks like Russian dictator Josef Stalin.
As he watches, it turns into a face Elvis interprets as that of Jesus Christ. As Geller recalls it in Peter Guralnick's acclaimed book Careless Love:
"It's God!" Elvis cried. "It's God!" Tears streamed down his face as he hugged me tightly and said, "...I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You got me here. I'll never forget, never, man. It really happened. I saw the face of Stalin and I thought to myself, Why Stalin? Is it a projection of something that's inside of me? Is God trying to show me what he thinks of me? And then it happened! The face of Stalin turned right into the face of Jesus, and he smiled at me, and every fiber of my being felt it... Oh, God. Oh, God," Elvis kept saying. Then he paused and added a peculiar aside. "Can you imagine what the fans would think if they saw me like this?"
"They'd only love you all the more," Geller said.
"Yeah," he said, "Well, I hope that's true."
Visibly shaken, he resumes the trip, although most of the Memphis Mafia are skeptical about the validity of this "sign."

There's probably something pithy to say, but I don't know what.

You may have seen this, but Pete Seeger slammed Joe Stalin last year.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Stuff White People Like

A black colleague e-mailed me about a website called Stuff White People Like. I had heard of the two-month old blog before, but I hadn't checked it out until this weekend.

I was curious how I would fare. Early on, I meshed with items 8, 12, 35, 36, 38, 43, 44, 46, 50, 55, and 57. But these last several posts:
* #78 Multilingual Children - well, optimally
* #77 Musical Comedy - I like Weird Al
* #76 Bottles of Water - afraid so
* #75 Threatening to Move to Canada - once in a great while
* #74 Oscar Parties - been there
* #73 Gentrification - not yet
* #72 Study Abroad - not yet
* #71 Being the only white person around - d/n/a
* #70 Difficult Breakups - oh, yeah
* #69 Mos Def - not so much
* #68 Michel Gondry - no
* #67 Standing Still at Concerts - depends
* #66 Divorce - yes
* #65 Co-Ed Sports - not recently, but there was that volleyball at the Y period in the early 1990s
* #64 Recycling - absolutely

My cultural identity is in shambles!

I jest, but there is this:
I was leading adult education for three weeks during Black History Month, a/k/a, February. The latter two weeks, this guy shows up and talks. A lot. About issues tangential at best to the topic at hand.
The last week, I'm wearing this African garb. As I rush from Adult Ed to the bathroom, then onto choir, this guy asks me if I were African-American. I figure he's just yanking my chain and ignore him.
Then the new church letter comes out for March. Inside is a black-and-white picture of some of the participants of the first adult ed class I led, including someone who I didn't immediately recognize as me. In my mind's eye, I look the same as I always did, but the vitiligo has rendered me light enough so that someone who did not know me DIDN'T know that I was black. Most peculiar.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Graphic meme

From Tosy and/or Cosh from a couple months back; I did it, then promptly misplaced it.

1. The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

Shina is a Japanese model I had never heard of.

2. The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.
We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are - that is the fact. - Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 - 1980)

3. The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

You then take the pic and add your band name and the album title to it, then post your pic. And so we get:

Johnny B. asked for art requests. So I suggested he draw Fred Hembeck. See the results.
Jaquandor asked for questions, and questions he got from me, profound and profane. He answers them here and here and here (1st question), with even more to come.


Sunday, March 02, 2008


Somebody pointed out to me recently that all that Easter/spring parallel stuff is terribly Northern Hemispherist, and of course, he was right; Easter in the Southern Hemisphere is in the autumn. Anyway, my sister sent me an e-mail last month:

As it turns out, the story has appeared in a number of websites, such as here (edited) and here (complete).

Don't always know if I'm an Easter person, but I'm definitely a Lenten person.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Movies Forgotten QUESTION

I got an e-mail from my eldest niece Rebecca this week: I just finished reading your blog from today and from this past week... I enjoy watching movies, too, like you do, and I was wondering if you have seen "Six Degrees of Separation" with Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing, and a young Will Smith. If so, I was curious as to what you thought of it... I just watched it last night and to me, it took a while to get started, but then it became a bit more interesting. However, after the movie, I was left to think about the whole story, and I just don't know really what to make of it and wanted to know what you thought about it, if you've even seen it. Among other things, most of the acting by the "children" in the movie seemed so forced, I wasn't sure if that was meant to be that way or not...
She clarified later: About the "children", I put the word in parentheses because even though they were young adults in college, they over-acted like they were spoiled 10 year olds. It was kinda weird...

Also, I had hoped to have a guess at one of your movie quotes, but no such luck... Not even a poor guess! Well, I did know the "Shawshank Redemption" one, but it was already figured out...

Well, Rebecca, I DID see this 1993 film, probably at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany (as opposed to on video, which, I believe, makes a difference in the viewing experience). I recall that I liked it, I was absorbed by the story. And while I remember the adults and young Will, I have no particular recollection of the acting abilities of the younger characters - which included Heather Graham and Anthony Michael Hall. I do recall at the time that I thought the whole thing was a bit stagy, and just a bit preachy.

That's what happens when you see a lot of movies, I was reminded, when I was looking at Buffalo blogger Jaquandor's list of his top 100 movies. There at #64 was Eating Raoul (1982) which I most certainly saw at the Spectrum's predecessor, The 3rd Street Cinema in Troy. I probably even know who I saw it with. But the details of the movie, beyond the broad premise of whacking people with frying pans, has gone hazy. I recall laughing a LOT at the time, in part because I had a friend named Raoul, but also because I thought it was a real hoot, the juxtaposition of this uptight couple with their entrepreneurial ways. Seems that I should probably watch it again.

And it doesn't have to be older films that can slip away. In preparing to watch the Oscars, I was trying to recall all the films of Tilda Swinton I had seen. There was that bizarro-worlds trip Orlando (1992) and Adaptation (2002) and Broken Flowers (2005). But what was that movie, you know, it had a lot of water in it? Oh, yeah, 2001's The Deep End. I remember being engaged in the movie, but until I read the plot synopsis, the story line had all but abandoned me.

So here's the question for you all: what movies have you seen in the past that you liked well enough at the time, but that are slipping from your particular memories?

Oh, if you look at last Saturday's post, you'll find the answers to the movie quotes quiz.

Thanks, Rebecca, for the posting idea.