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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Remember Where I Was When I Heard Michael Jackson Died

I do know and am quite likely to remember how I learned of MJ's death.

Just as I remember when JFK died - fifth grade, Miss Oberlik's class, Daniel S. Dickinson School, Binghamton, NY. Just as I remember finding out about the Challenger disaster - working in the back room at FantaCo Enterprises, the late comic book store store on Central Avenue, Albany, NY, while listening to Q-104, when Mary Margaret Apple interrupted the music to give the news.

This is not to say - lest you start to fret - that I'm making a comparison about the import of these events. I am talking about how memory works.

I was at the Albany Public Library, main branch, computer room, shortly after 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 25. I needed to write about my daughter for a blog post the next day. Then I heard someone say to the woman at the desk that Michael Jackson had died. WHA? So I went to CNN and AP, both of whom indicated that Michael had been rushed to the hospital but neither of whom had announced his death. Most sources indicated that TMZ, the Matt Drudge of entertainment sites, WAS declaring Michael dead, but that they were seeking independent verification.

About 15 minutes later, CNN notes that "multiple sources" have noted Michael's passing. In the moment, I was more peeved that TMZ had been right in breaking the story, that this was a greater sign of the deterioration of the mainstream media, than the death of an entertainer who I'd watched, sometimes with tremendous admiration and other times in disdain, over the past four decades. Someone who, and I ALWAYS hate this, was younger than I am.

The death of Michael Jackson is this fascinating cultural and technological phenomenon. It slowed Twitter to a crawl and taxed much of the rest of the Internet as well.

Here's what always bothers me about these types of stories. There are folks who say endlessly, "Why do people care about THAT? If people spent more time caring about (pick one or more) world hunger/the health care crisis/the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan/whatever, rather than some entertainer's death, we'd be better off." It's often the same people disdain the use of television (they don't have one or only watch PBS).

I'm willing to bet that if people spent as much time worrying about the health care industry as they did about Michael or Jon & Kate (who I must admit, I didn't even know who they were until a month ago) or some other "frivolous" thing, it would have next to zero impact on the important issue. It is as though some individuals feel that passion for Off the Wall, Michael's best album, could be somehow transferable to other, more "significant" things. (Speaking of which, apparently Michael's soul has been saved, in case you were wondering.) Thank goodness ABC was planning repeats of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice last Thursday so they could preempt them for instant specials on Michael and Farrah Fawcett, who, not unexpectedly, had died earlier that day. (What, no special on Sky Saxon of the Seeds?)

So I will remember how I learned of Michael's death, just as I remember John Lennon's (heard it from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football) or the shootings of Lee Harvey Oswald and Robert F. Kennedy (saw them on TV in real time). The intensity of the events will wane, but a piece of the recollection will likely remain.
Just discovered The Dead Rock Stars Club. Have only been in 2009, but it is quite detailed. Not does it have obvious choices such as MJ, Sky Saxon and Koko Taylor, but more obscure artists such as Viola Wills, and even folks you wouldn't have thought of in this context: Gale Storm (I'm old enough to remember My Little Margie), Ed McMahon, and David Carradine, e.g.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Eight Meme

Jacquandor has a quiz thing! And I'm a sucker for them

8 Things I am looking forward to:

1. Riding the bicycle more.

2. Carol finally being done with her schooling in early August. It's exhausting for all of us.

3. I'm hoping for our annual trip to the Mid-Hudson area of NYS, though the school thing may interfere.

4. That month between Carol being done with school and Lydia entering kindergarten when I can go to racquetball directly from home and Carol will take Lydia to day care.

5. Getting the new Top Pop Singles book from Record Research.

6. September when it'll presumably gets less hot. I burn incredibly easily these days.

7. September, which is my favorite sports month. U.S. Open tennis, end of the baseball season, beginning of football season.

8. Actually watching those TV shows I've recorded but not seen - Scrubs, The Office, 30 Rock.

8 Things I did yesterday:

1. Went to church.

2. Watched the news from Friday and Saturday.

3. Made pancakes.

4. Read old newspapers.

5. Rode the stationery bike.

6. Played board games with the child.

7. Read to the child.

8. Sing to the child.

8 Things I wish I could do:

1. Care about politics. I mean I participate, and I'll probably be carrying petitions for two candidates this summer, but sometimes I sense a real futility.

2. See better - reading in bad light is a chore.

3. Catch up on some of the "I ought to read that" list.

4. Have my father meet my daughter,

5. Type; I'd make blogging easier.

6. Most of the handiwork (that I'm really quite awful at.

7. Sleep through the night.

8. Lose weight.

8 Shows I Watch


2. 60 Minutes

3. This Week (ABC)

4. CBS Sunday Morning

5. Brothers & Sisters

6. Grey's Anatomy

7. Bill Moyers Journal

8. Scrubs

Just a couple more entries would sum up the entirety of my teevee watching these days.

8 Life Lessons I have benefited from (or am TRYING to put into practice)

1. Listen more, talk less.

2. Please, please: Don't be a litterbug, 'cause every litter bit hurts.

3. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

4. Do, or do not. There is no try.

5. Take the road less traveled.

6. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

7. Do unto others...

8. Smile, though your heart is aching.

Quizzes! Fun!! I love words with zz -give 'em the old raZZle daZZle.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Roger (Finally) Answers Your Questions, Scott

Scott from the Scooter Chronicles - GIVE THIS MAN A JOB! - wrote several questions:

Since obtaining your current job, have you ever thought of switching careers?

What, and leave show business? Seriously, not really. I learn something new (and sometimes interesting) every day. I work with smart people, and I provide a valuable service, if I do say so.

Besides which, I came to it so late (library school at 37, librarian at 39), I feel behind the curve compared with people who are my contemporaries agewise but have twice as much experience in the field.

Do you think the Obama administration will be able to make changes to the current health care systems? If so, do you think it will truly change for the better?

It'll be incremental change, and it'll be marginally for the better. But it won't be the sweeping changes you righteously ranted about a few months ago. I knew trouble was brewing when single-payer wasn't even on the table. I blame Sen. Max Baucus for that. Then the single-payer people were at the table but could not speak. Do not underestimate the power of the insurance lobbies.

Who do you think will be in the World Series, and who will win it?

At the beginning of the season, I picked Mets over Red Sox. Still feel the BoSox will be there. I could/should jump on the Dodgers/Cards/Phillies bandwagon, but heck with it, I'll stick with the Metropolitans.

Oh, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about "high-leverage" situation hitting versus the two-run homer in the fifth inning when you're already ahead 11-1.
These are the best and worst, through June 13.
Giants .299/.254
Phillies .288/.247
Marlins .263/.231

Nationals .236/.284
Mariners .252/.279
Rays .257/.276

When growing up, did you play in any organized baseball leagues?

No. Tried out for Little League once. I was a middling to poor fielder, but what really made me give up was being at bat. This kid threw a 3-2 pitch for a strike and I never even saw it.

Is so, what position(s) did you play? (If you didn't, what position would you have liked to play?)

I played a lot of unorganized baseball. I tended to play the right side of the infield, though I'm right-handed, because my arm wasn't great. I could throw relatively accurately from second to first, but not from shortstop or third base. Also played first, since I was a large target. Actually got better getting throws in the dirt, but not throws that were too wide or too high.

I also caught some games. Didn't much enjoy it, but I could block the ball if I didn't catch it.

Who was your favorite baseball player while growing up?

Clearly, Willie Mays. He could hit for average and power, he could run and he could field well. That said, I always had an affection for National League outfielders such as Vada Pinson (Reds), Lou Brock (Cards), Billy Williams (Cubs), Hank Aaron (Braves), the Alou Brothers (Giants), Frank Robinson (Reds/Orioles), and Roberto Clemente (Pirates); I had a Clemente card that referred to him as "Bob", but he was no "Bob".

Do you have a favorite baseball player now? If so, who and why?

Albert Pujois (Cards). Seems like a decent guy and he's very good.

Any big travel plans for the summer months?

At this very moment, we were supposed to be in Williamsburg, VA with my parents-in-law, my two brothers-in-law, their wives and collectively, their three daughters. But my wife Carol has so much school work to do in preparation for going away to college for 17 days in a row later this summer that we bailed. During that 17-day run, I'll be doing the solo parenting thing. Having my wife back will be like a vacation; we did this last summer as well, so I know of what I speak.

There's talk about going somewhere in August, but so far, I'm not feeling it. I don't know about your experiences with Nigel, but my experience with Lydia is that vacation away from home is more taxing than just staying in the routine. I AM basing that on our vacation when she was three, and she's more self-sufficient now.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael, Farrah, Ed

Just this month, a friend of mine bought me the 1979 Michael Jackson album Off the Wall on CD, after I noted that I only have it on vinyl and that I believed that Off the Wall was better than the album Thriller.

But my appreciation for Michael goes back earlier than that. The first album where Diana Ross "presents" the boys from Gary, Indiana to us was played often in our household. Not that I owned it; my sister did. On the surface, it was a little too childish to buy the music of a group led by a preteen. But I certainly did listen. I watched them on Ed Sullivan and eventually on their Saturday morning cartoon show. (In Gordon's tribute to MJ, he picked a fine song from that debut album.)

But it was the second collection, ABC, that won me over. Not just the title song - "Sit down, girl, I think I love you" - but especially The Love You Save. I can competently sing every vocal part of that song - save for Michael's. My sister got the third album, cleverly titled "Third Album", and the fourth. I once requested on my favorite radio station of the 1970s that the DJ play Maybe Tomorrow, but she cut it off before that great call and response at the end.

I went away to college, appreciating what I had heard, but they left my consciousness until Dancing Machine in 1974, which I simply could not resist. Ultimately, I picked up that 1976 anthology.

There was this Andy Rooney special circa 1978 who did a riff on who was famous and who was not. Paul McCartney was famous; Michael Jackson, to his mind, was not. That would certainly change.

1979's Off the Wall would sell sell over seven million copies domestically. But Michael's commercial growth was stalled because MTV wouldn't play MJ's music, including the new (1982) Thriller; not their demographic. That is to say, too black. Columbia/Epic said, Fine, we'll take off our OTHER artists from MTV; MTV capitulated. Given the way that MJ made MTV, and vice versa, it seems unbelievable now.

Every teenaged girl i knew thought that Michael was so "cute". For whatever reasons, Michael's appearance began to morph, all the weird stuff began happening. Seriously, I think the vitiligo, the skin disease that I also have messed with his head as much as his reportedly abusive father Joe. But I'm not going there. I choose to remember Michael as this force so powerful that on the Motown 25 special, he performed two non-Motown songs, mesmerizing the audience with his moonwalk, and forever stamped his ticket as a pop legend.
I hardly ever saw Charlie's Angels. I know watched one episode at my parents' house in Charlotte, NC that first season; I think it was the now infamous prison episode. When I bought a notebook with Farrah's famous red bathing suit on the cover, I said I was being ironic; well, maybe. Used that notebook as a journal and I still have it, actually. She showed that she could act in The Burning Bed, which I did see.

So, I didn't have a great deal invested in Farrah the icon. But her very public fight with cancer and her dogged determination to tackle it was admirable, if a little uncomfortable.
I always felt a little sorry for Ed McMahon. It was though, because he "lucked" into a high-profile, long-term job, he was somehow undeserving of it. Stuff happens; if he came onto a great gig, more power to him. Actually, I probably saw him more in his pitchman; he seemed ubiquitous in the roles, and I think it undercut his effectiveness. But he seemed like an OK guy. And in any case, he did not suffer the premature death of the others mentioned herein.
In more upbeat news:
Help Polyvinyl Save 10,000 Records From Destruction. I did and will be getting Of Montreal and other artists in return.
My niece Rebecca's in a Top 40 Cover band, Siren's Crush.
They've been in a battle of the bands and have made it the finals! The final competition is this coming Sunday night, June 28, 2009 at Viejas Casino, San Diego. 7 - 10 PM.
If you're in the area, please come out and show your support. If you can't make it, please send out good thoughts.


Friday, June 26, 2009

The Lydster, Part 63: The Songs

It's been long been my philosophy that, as much as I love providing information for youse folk, a primary point of this blog is as a resource for myself. Things I think I'll remember "forever" fade into oblivion.

With that in mind, I'm going to note the songs I sing to my daughter. Often, it's the case that I'll take an existing song and put new lyrics to it. If I do that, though, it has to be a song that she does not know. Once, I tried singing something to the "Wonder Pets" theme: "Lydia, Lydia, my favorite girl..." I was scolded, and told "THAT'S not how it goes."

So, I take songs obscure to her. One of the first was this ditty:
"I love Lydia
I love Lydia,
'Cause she is my daughter
Oh yeah
She is my daughter."
This is to the tune of I Eat Cannibals by TOTAL Coelo. I didn't even KNOW what the tune was at first, since I don't even own it, I don't think.

Another song I adapted Turn Down Day by The Cyrkle, a group best known for covering Paul Simon's Red Rubber Ball. The words vary, but I usually start with the chorus, usually trying to prod the child out of bed:
It's a day-care day
And it's time to get some clothes
It's a day-care day
Let's get ready.

These tend to be the morning songs.

There are a slew of tuness to choose from when I sing to her at bedtime. Many are standard children's songs, though she likes a variation on Twinkle, Twinkle about traffic lights which she taught me. "Sing A Song of Sixpence" is altered from "pecked off her nose" to "[kiss sound] kissed her nose", at her instance, NOT me being overprotective.

The Car Song I learned from my father and I sing to her: "Mommy, won't you take me for a ride in the car." Be Kind to Your Parents was from from a record my sister Leslie and I had on red vinyl when we were kids; we sang it at my 50th birthday party.

But always, these are the last two. When she's really tired, these are the ONLY two: A, You're Adorable, which my mother sang to me - indeed the ONLY song I remember my mother ever singing to me, and for which I changed many of the lyrics, starting with J ("you're so jolly") because I couldn't remember the original; and Good Night, the song from the Beatles' white album, during which I turn on her night light, then slowly dim the overhead light.

Tomorrow, my take on yesterday's news.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

June Ramblin'

My goodness, I have been EXHAUSTED lately, ever since I got back from visiting family in Charlotte, NC last week. Not just a little tired, but wiped out. I HAD to mow the lawn when I got back - nine days and lots of rain since the last time, but it felt as though the mower was holding me up.

Part of it is the constant use of the automobile. In the course of a week at home, I'll bike or play racquetball or at least walk to the supermarket or the pharmacy. I took one walk with Lydia in Charlotte, and I was uncomfortable with that. No sidewalks and people drive way too fast, especially on the curve near my mom's house.

I was so tired that a call I got on Friday it took me until Monday to call back. Calls from the weekend I STILL haven't returned. Lydia too had been sick three or four days.

Eating at 8:30 pm is contraindicated for my five-year old. Indeed, some of my frustration wasn't about me being stuck for 3.5 hours at Wal-Mart(!). It was that, on Sunday, we went to church, then a cake thing for the niece and another girl graduating from high school, then ANOTHER church service, then ANOTHER cake thing. we went to eat at Mickey Ds, then to the Wal-Mart. we were supposed to get photos at 4 pm, but when the photographer hadn't acknowledged us at 4:45, we left.

We were out from 8:40 a.m. to 5:20 p.m, and Lydia without her new glasses, which she reminded me of at 9:30 a.m. I had no idea that we'd be out ALL DAY.

It went on like that with increasing frustration, about which you'll undoubtedly hear more. That said, I was glad my niece and my daughter got along so well. And a highlight of the week was when my 30-year-old niece called and shared with her mother her love of The Wonder Pets; my sister was momentarily slackjawed, but ended up appreciating it herself when she watched with Lydia.

Running stop light = $100.00
DUI = $5,000.00
Not wearing a seat belt = $50.00
Putting you AND your girlfriend on your fake driver's license = PRICELESS
(Allegedly, an actual driver's license from a traffic stop.)
Beautifully stated insults
Tapping your cell phone
Covertube: Toto’s “Africa” performed by Perpetuum Jazzile. Even if you don't like the song, at least watch the percussive first 90 seconds.
Weird Al channels Jim Morrison
Han Solo, P.I.; the side-by-side comparison is astonishing.
When Scottish Sheep Herders get bored
Getting your child to sleep. This is of particular interest to me because it's being offered by an apparently local pediatric sleep expert named Dr. Roger Green.
The Joy of Less
Budget Travel hosting a contest to vote for "America's Coolest Small Town", and Owego, the only town in NYS nominated, won. It's the county seat of the county next to my home county of Broome. My grandma owned property there years ago.
This spam pleased me:
The Fondation De France(FDF) would like to notify you that you have been chosen by
the board of trustees as one of the final recipients of a cash Grant/Donation of
$1,350,000.00.This is a yearly program, which is a measure of universal development
To file for claims...
Please endeavor to quote your Qualification numbers (FDF-444-6647-9163) and always
check you inbox, spam or junk for our emails and updates.
I'm not older than dirt...yet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

W is for World

The world is populated with plenty of bizarre and astonishing creatures. I think I've met some of these folks, in human form.

An actor I know.

Certainly, this creature on cable news.

Has the beady eyes of as prominent local citizen.

A contestant on a reality television show.

An animated fellow.

This looks like a professor I once had.

I find that this type of mop cleans quite well.


the chair of a committee I once served on.

A former customer.

Now, if I were nice, I'd tell you what these creatures are. But tr=the pictures were sent to me without that information. I WAS given an incomplete list of choices, though:
Dumbo Octopus
Emperor Tamarin
Frill-necked Lizard
Komondor Dog
Pink Fairy Armadillo
Proboscis Monkey
Pygmy Marmoset
Star-nosed Mole
Sucker-footed Bat
Sun Bear
White-faced Saki Monkey
Yeti Crab

I've figured out most of them, but have at it.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Memes of Love and Hate

Before I get to that, though, I need to direct you to this post of June 23, 2004, when Fred Hembeck noted the 25th wedding anniversary of Lynn Moss and himself. That was five years ago, which would make today...their 30TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY! Big congrats to you both. Oh, and people, you might want to check out a more recent Fred post, June 21, 2009, where daughter Julie cracks wise.

Oh, and since we're speaking about Fred, you can now buy Hembeck-designed T-shirts from WORLD OF STRANGE Fantastic Apparel. You can't buy them from Fred directly , but his June 3 post explains how it all came about.
Got this from the Frog again; BTW, there's the back of lovely naked female person in the header of his blog, so depending on where you live or work, that may be an issue. What I guess I'm having trouble with in the meme is the hate side. It's not that I don't dislike stuff; it's that if I dislike it, I tend to ignore it and subsequently forget who or what it was.

1. Most hated food: Brussels sprouts; Sir Frog had a vivid description.
2. Most hated person: Well, I forgave G W Bush, so I'll say Dick Cheney.
3. Most hated job: Working at Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield as a customer service rep. We were given all the tools to fail. I note that of the 16 people in my training class, at least 12 had left the company before I did 13 months later.
4. Most hated city: that would be Charlotte, NC circa 1977; my father described it as a big country town. But I don't hate it now, and can think of no substitutes.
5. Most hated band: can't think of one.
6. Most hated web site: ditto. What I do hate are websites that are perfectly functional; then they do a redesign so I can't find anything.
7. Most hated TV program: is that show with the Sweet 16 excesses still on? Hated it, just hated it.
8. Most hated British politician: Tony Blair, maybe because I actually had high hopes for him before he became a W toady.
9. Most hated artist: don't know.
10. Most hated book: Don't know. That said, the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament is often troubling. Oh, and related, I JUST discovered Mr. Frog's The Bible Summarized By A Smartass from a couple years ago. Example from Genesis 22: "Abraham walks up the mountain and knifes his kid. Except that God jumps out of the bushes at the last second, probably laughing and pointing. 'Oh, dude, you were totally going to do it! You were! You should see your face, man! You’ve just been Punk’d!'"
11. Most hated shop: Wal-Mart. Beyond the politics of the place, I had a really lousy experience there when I first shopped there in 1994, and haven't been back since except with someone else.
12. Most hated organization: Ku Klux Klan, which is still out there, trust me.
13. Most hated historical event: Dred Scott decision, US Supreme Court, 1857.
14. Most hated sport: NASCAR, I suppose. I tried watching it, and unless there's, Allah forbid, an accident, it's pretty boring.
15. Most hated piece of technology: The cell phone. The expectation that one can be accessed 24/7. The fact that people drive poorly when talking on them, even the hands-free ones. The fact that I hear too much of other people's lives when they use them.
16. Most hated annual event: Cinco de Mayo. Pointless drinking.
17. Most hated daily task: Flossing. I swear the gaps in my teeth on the right side of my mouth are far smaller than on the left side, and it's a PITA.
18. Most hated comedian: never got the Three Stooges.

And now the love.

1. Most loved food: spinach lasagna.
2. Most loved person: The wife or the daughter.
3. Most loved job: working at FantaCo from 1981-1986; but I was there from 1980-1988. So overall, I'll say being a librarian at the NYS Small Business Development Center.
4. Most loved city: Montreal. U.S. city: San Francisco.
5. Most loved band: The Beatles.
6. Most loved web site: I don't know; maybe Evanier's.
7. Most loved TV program: Current: Scrubs. Ever? The Dick van Dyke Show. HOF: JEOPARDY! Oh, and my wife is watching 30 Rock faster than I am. BTW, I just came across a piece on how 30 Rock is a rip off of the Muppet Show
8. Most loved movie: Annie Hall. It's been a linchpin.
9. Most loved artist: Auguste Rodin. First time I actually saw a Rodin sculpture in person, rather than in photos - probably in Boston - it was heaven.
10. Most loved book: Top Pop Albums by Joel Whitburn. Oh, something with a narrative? Henri J. M. Nouwen's Here and Now: Living in the Spirit.
11. Most loved shop: Before I worked there, FantaCo.
12. Most loved organization: American Red Cross.
13. Most loved historical event: the resignation of Richard Nixon.
14. Most loved sport: baseball.
15. Most loved piece of technology: DVR
16. Most loved annual event: my birthday. I take it off from work.
17. Most loved daily task: racquetball.
18. Most loved comedian: Bill Cosby in the 1960s. Have five of his albums that I haven't played in years, but there are whole bits I can still hear and recite from memory.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Ask Roger Anything, Solstice Edition

Now that it's summer (or winter, depending), it is time to Ask Roger Anything. Oh, but wait - I'm distracted by somebody who recently noted that if people from space came to Earth, they might conclude the South Pole is the top of the world and the North Pole is on the bottom; after all there is a large land mass. Or maybe they'd pick some point on the equator or the Tropic of Cancer. Is our sense of top and bottom somewhat arbitrary?

Usually I do this because I'm afraid I'll run out of things to write about. This is not the case presently; I have three or four blogposts re my trip to North Carolina alone. I am, though, having trouble actually composing them, or even deciding if I should. Answering YOUR questions gives me opportunity to muse on them some more.

Anyway, I already have a question from SB: "So perhaps you've already written about this, but I'd be interested to hear how libraries continue to change and evolve with stuff like Twitter and Facebook. Do libraries have their own Facebook badges? Is that - gasp! - allowed?"

Our library has a Facebook page, which is fueled in part from our blog feed. We have a Twitter feed that keeps both our blog and our website fresh. Our Facebook badge is a variation on the SBDC logo.

I've seen over 1000 libraries on both Twitter and Facebook, and I'd guesstimate that there are tens of thousands of librarians who are on one or both of the sites; I am on those, LinkedIn and a couple others.

The Library of Congress has over 10,000 followers but is following, last I checked, no one. At least the Library Journal is following a couple hundred while it is followed by over 5,000. I - and apparently others - had contacted the LOC about this, and the folks responded, rather quickly, that were worried that there would be too much noise in the feed. I'm not sure I agree with their thought process.

So, any other questions, folks? Everything is on the table. Let your mind get creative.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day 2009

As usual, I'm missing my father, glad to be Lydia's father, and wishing that my father and my daughter had met.

I've been musing about this for a while: do guys say, "I love being a dad" the way some women say, "I love being a mom"? I mean I love being LYDIA'S dad, but it's not the same thing.

You know what cereal commercial I hated? The one for Kix that went: "Kids like Kix for what Kix has got. Moms like Kix for what Kix has not." It seemed to suggest that dads didn't care what was in their children's breakfast food. Not true, and the implication made me a bit peevish.

I really liked traveling with Lydia, just the two of us. Save for a couple 1.5-hour bus trips from Albany to Oneonta and back, we don't travel alone together beyond the routes of the CDTA regional bus system. She traveled well. She was momentarily peeved when I had to put her tray table in its upright and locked position until she realized that EVERYBODY had to do that.

Lydia made me a drawing for Father's Day. Drawing seems to be the gift for every occasion of late: birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries.

From AwesomeStories:

In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a Mother's Day sermon when she wondered why people didn't celebrate Father's Day. After her mom's death, Sonora's dad - William Jackson Smart, a Civil-War veteran - had raised all of his children alone.

To show her gratitude, Sonora worked to have Father's Day celebrated during June - the month of William's birth. She was successful, and the event took place on the 19th of June, 1910. Fourteen years later, Father's Day had become so important in America that President Coolidge recommended it should be a national holiday.

It was President Lyndon Johnson, though, who designated the date as the third Sunday of June and President Nixon who formally instituted Father's Day as a time of national observance.

And ... in case you didn't know ... the rose is the official Father's Day flower. Red is for fathers who are living; white is for fathers who have died.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ray Davies Is 65 - tomorrow

I think I may have heard the Kinks' All Day and All of the Night as an in-store play in a Binghamton, NY department store called Philadelphia Sales. It seemed to be the loudest, most unrelenting piece of music I ever heard; I loved it.

The Kinks seemed to go in and out of fashion. There was the early success, then a second wave in the early 1970s (Victoria, Lola, Apeman) to some spotty success in the late 1970s (Superman) and somewhat greater acclaim in the early 1980s (Come Dancing, Don't Forget to Dance).

I've been listening to a lot of Kinks music this month. One is the The Ultimate Collection, a 2002 greatest hits compilation. It's a great grouping of songs, though it does not include the minor hit Destroyer [YouTube video], which cops the main riff from All Day and All of the Night, and the storyline is a continuation of the Lola saga. Fortunately, that song and Give The People What They want both show up on a live Kinks album I own.

Nor does the collection contain anything from my favorite Kinks album, the 1971 release Muswell Hillbillies. It was their debut album on RCA Records after their previous contract had expired. "The album is named after the Muswell Hill area of London, where band leader Ray Davies and guitarist Dave Davies grew up and where the band formed in the early 1960s." The album bombed horribly, especially in contrast to the hits, but I enjoyed it greatly. It has elements of Dixieland jazz, dance hall tunes, and country. While Alcohol is probably my favorite song, I recall going around at the time saying, in the manner of Complicated Life, "Why is life soooo COM-plicated?"

I'm pleased to note that Ray Davies' Other People's Lives was one of my favorite albums in 2006. I noted at the time: "Given its long gestation period, an amazingly coherent album."

So Ray Davies has had a positive musical effect on me for over four decades. Happy early birthday, Ray.

Old friend of mine with Ray late in 2005 or early in 2006.


Friday, June 19, 2009

What I Am

My old friend Uthaclena (and by OLD, I mean more than a week older than I am) got all philosophically musing on us recently. Worker, son, husband, father, this-and-that. These are not just voices - these are personae and skill sets, some greater, some lesser, a psychic closet of costumes and masks from among which we may select.

I am a son, brother, husband, father. But I have, either by my own doing, or those imposed on me, been defined by other roles.

Bus guy - not only is CDTA a primary form of transportation for me, but I'm pretty good at answering questions about the best way to get from here to there by bus - or IF one can get there. Assuming I've ridden the route more than a couple times, I can pretty much suss out the system.

Bicycle guy - though I barely rode for a year for various reasons, there are folks who know me from one two-wheeler or another.

Cereal guy - I swear there are people in my building who don't even know my name but could tell you what I have for breakfast (or occasionally lunch) each weeekday: Cheerios and/or Spoom-Size Shredded Wheat.

JEOPARDY! guy - it's sorta like the Oscars. OK, more like the Golden Globes.

Luddite guy or alternatively, computer guy - the former is most definitely true. I remember someone who was talking about compression of my iTunes folder; I was just happy I could figue out how to download music at all. And don't get me started about my cellphone. Yet some people who are even more inept technologically than I am keep asking questions that even I can answer.

Blog guy - less from this blog as from the other blog, even though I've been doing this one for over three years longer. It helps that occasionally, the text has appeared in the newspaper, providing a faux sense of authority.

Black guy - often I'm the only black male in a situation. So if someone who didn't know me by name were to ask who I was in a group, he or she might ask: "Who is that balding guy?" Well, they could, but it'd probably be more efficient, and not at all racialist, to ask the more obvious question.

I took one of those personality tests a while back, and I'm an INFP:
Extraverted 16% Introverted 84%
Sensing 47% Intuition 53%
Thinking 32% Feeling 68%
Judging 16% Perceiving 84%
Some people are surprised that I am as introverted as I score; I am not.

So, to quote the musings of a fellow March Piscean, a Roger named Daltry, who are YOU?
Here's something really silly:
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

death (5x) breast (3x) dead (2x) vulva (1x)

My sister asked, and I don't know. Does anyone know who produced "Daily Bread", shown here?


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Macca and Ebert

It's James Paul McCartney's 67th birthday.

I continue to like about 50% of Macca's output. Never really warmed to the Fireman album as I did Chaos and Creation. But I LOVED this bootl unauthorized recording of Paul doing Beatles songs someone sent me. Some are straight covers, but others, notably Yesterday and Hey Jude are just plain goofy; in the former, rabbits are mentioned.

There's always one story in Beatlefan magazine that I treasure. The March/April 2009 edition is no exception. Bruce Spizer did a tribute to Alan Livingston. Don't know who he was? He was the one who signed the Beatles to Capitol Records. The bare facts of his life are reflected on the Wikipedia page, but not his personality. As Livingston's widow recalled, he was the one who recognized the group's full potential and put the resources of Capitol Records behind the group. Here's a different, less in-depth Livingston interview. But his career ran from Bozo to Sinatra and from Beatles to Star Wars; he was president of entertainment at 20th Century Fox when the movie was being developed. Livingston died on March 13, 2009 at the age of 91 and without him, you might not have heard of Paul McCartney.

It's also Roger Joseph Ebert's 67th birthday. I used to watch Ebert & Roeper religiously, and before that, Siskel & Ebert. Lately, I've been more interested in his non-film essays than his reviews. His recent essay about death is a prime example. Always engaging.

Happy birthday, Paul and Roger.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Barry Manilow Turns 65 66

And I thought I'd acknowledge that; now I have.

Actually, there is one song Manilow wrote and performed that I rather like. Call it a guilty pleasure. And no, it's not "I Write The Songs", which was actually written by sometime Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, the guy who wrote 'Disney Girls (1957)'. Bruce, BTW, turns 65 on June 27.

The Manilow song I like is Could It Be Magic. I love how the intro morphs into the main theme and then morphs back into the outro piano bit. Here is how Barry himself describes it: "I thought I had come up with the coolest batch of chords in my composing experience. And then I realized that before I had that glass of wine, I had been playing my Chopin preludes. And I wrote the song around Chopin's 'Prelude in C Minor.'"

This has brought me a whole lot of sympathy for at least some of the musicians who have cribbed parts of other songs. I always believed George Harrison when he copped 'He's So Fine' for 'My Sweet Lord'. Paul McCartney was so worried that he had inadvertently stolen the tune for 'Yesterday' that he ran around asking people if they'd heard the song before. The difference between Harrison and Manilow is that Manilow's subconscious had the wisdom to swipe from a dead guy whose work is in the public domain, while Harrison pilfered from a more recent composition.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

V is for Vacation

I have alluded to this before: the wife and I had not been on a vacation alone together in over five years. This correlates nicely with the fact that we have a five-year-old daughter. So a couple years back, for our 10th anniversary, the wife began saving some money for us to do something.

As it turned out, we decided to travel a mere 32 miles from our home in Albany to Saratoga Springs, NY. While our actual anniversary was May 15, we decided to travel Thursday through Sunday on a week Carol had off from school in April and the in-laws could come up from Oneonta - about 70 miles away - and watch the child.

Thursday, we checked into the inn. We had had Indian food in Albany for a late lunch so all we had for dinner was popcorn as we went to the movies to see I Love You, Man, which I reviewed here; not high art, but we enjoyed it.
Friday morning, we went to the Tang Museum, discussed here.

Then, we went to this cute little restaurant for lunch; had an Old World charm. The food was good, but we noted that they used peanut oil in some of their cooking. Tasty, but the child is allergic, so I suspect we wouldn't be going there as a family.

In the afternoon, we went to the National Museum of Dance. Ah, piled snow melts slower.

Here's the building. That person in pink is my wife, BTW.

I have to say that we found the museum quite disappointing. A good museum or hall of fame - and this purports to be that for dance - needs enough "stuff" to make you want to come back again. This place just did not.

On the other hand, this was the only museum-like place we went to that actually allowed us to take photographs. Make of that what you will. The showcase pictured above is the primary part of the Peter Martens display; Martens is the most recent inductee. Oh, there are the dresses below, signed by some of his dance partners.

But there were no permanent items for each of the artists, save for a banner with fairly limited information. BTW, I no longer remember WHAT this is.

One of the cool things this place DID have were coverings on the windows representing the Hall of Famers. Don't recall who the couple are, but the woman on the left is choreographer Agnes deMille.

This begins the section "The Evolution of Dance on the Broadway Stage", starting with a replication of the streets around the Great White Way.

This is Sardi's, the famous restaurant where performers hung out.

A picture of one of my favorite performers, the late Jerry Orbach.

The museum is working on developing a section on the "spa" history of Saratoga. This is a machine used in that period.

There was a small Russian dance exhibit.

The place was so casual that the purse of the woman working on the spa area, which was adjacent to the Russian area, was just sitting on a table nearby. Fortunate that we did not have larceny on our minds.

For dinner, we decided to go to the famous Hattie's, nee Hattie's Chicken Shack. As we were going in, a contingent of folks led bty U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer were coming out. The chicken was good, but the macronini asnd cheese was fabulous. BTW, Hattie's is on the lower left, a comic book store which I went into briefly is on the lower right and above that is the legendary Caffè Lena.

(Incidentally, these are right across the street from a nice Thai restaurant that ADD took Rocco Nigro and me to last year.)

The next morning we went to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Now THIS is a great museum! THIS is a hall of fame! And though I'm less interested in horse racing than dance, this is a place I could return to. There were three sets of plaques: for horses, jockeys anmd others, primarily trainers. Interesting exhibits, informative films. (Picture below is not from the Hall but an exhibit of a street vendor.)

There was soime sort of vendor event in the city's civic center, and we managed to eat enough sample foods that we actually didn't need to have lunch. Afterwards, we went up to Glens Falls to see the Hyde Collection. It's part a couple's actual former house. The living room had 1500 books, surrounded by works by Rembrandt, Degas, and Rubens. The kitchen featured 17th century German chairs and 17th century French table. You can read about the collectors' philosophy for the eclectic collections throughout the house. Definitely worthwhile.

The gallery featured Thomas Chambers (1808-1869) born and died in England, who helped create the popular market of landscape painting. He spent much of his time in the United States including NYC, Baltimore, Boston and Albany (c. 1850) before returning to UK in 1865. Just didn't much care for it.

Then we ate an extraordinary dinner at our inn; the horse above, BTW, is just outside the main entrance of the building. Each morning we also had a nice breakfast there.

Alas, after breakfast, we had to return from our little getaway. This was a most enjoyable time where we didn't talk about the child all weekend but rather enjoyed each other's company.