john greenI viewed the four-minute post of vlogbrother/author John Green – I doubt we’re related but you never know – in which he talked about taking a year off from much of social media, going on an Internet diet.

Then Arthur – you know Arthur, because I’ve mentioned him at least twice on this blog – wrote I think he’s on to something, he being John.

Hank Green’s big brother – that’s John, not me – states that his Internet is not working, And by “not working,” he’s not talking poor service from Spectrum cable. “John’s specific problem is wasting too much time on social media, and needing to compulsively refresh, and all the problems that flow from that.”

Yet he – that’s John, not Arthur – can watch things on YouTube, for example, with a degree of discernment and intentionality. I find that interesting because, if I were to allow myself to fall into a time-suck hole, it would surely be the medium that AUTOMATICALLY bounces from one video to the next.

You may have heard we held elections in the United States on the first Tuesday in November, and some pundit – I really don’t remember, or care, who – complained that she or he was upset because all the results of many of the races were not determined within 24 hours, because it wasn’t as much fun, or something.

Here’s an article from the OCTOBER 29 Washington Post: Think you’ll know who won on election night? Not so fast … It explains that counting the votes in some places, such as California, take a long time because “there are seven tight House races” and “because more than half of voters opt to use vote-by-mail ballots (a.k.a. ‘absentee’ ballots in some places). California ballots postmarked on Election Day have three days to show up at county elections offices.”

This may be great for democracy, but not so wonderful for punditry. The talking heads blather on the first Sunday after the vote about whether there was a “blue wave” of Democrats in the House of Representatives, but they’re basing their observations on necessarily incomplete data.

We all want to know, NOW, how many people were shot and killed in the latest mass shooting and why. So we go back to the story while the news folks get “analysts” to speculate. The Las Vegas massacre in 2017 was particularly frustrating to people in this regard because no clear motive was ever determined.

I was struck when the Butte County, California sheriff announced that the number of people unaccounted for jumped dramatically to 631, up from 130 the day before, even as the death toll kept rising. Some folks were musing, “How can that be?” Because it takes time to gather information in difficult, horrendous and unprecedented circumstances.

Maybe a year ago, there were three or four stories I was getting updates on when someone actually chastised me not knowing about yet another story that was less than three hours old.

I applaud John Green’s desire to step back from the fray of too much information that doesn’t nourish the soul. The last two years, in particular, seems it’s hard to keep track of it all. Not doing so IS an option.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ was a “Jesuit paleontologist who worked to understand evolution and faith…. [he] fully participated in a life that included priesthood, living and working in the front lines of war, field work exploring the early origins of the human race, and adventurous travels of discovery in the backlands of China.

“[He] also participated fully in an intellectual life through the development of his imaginative, mystical writings on the evolutionary nature of the world and the cosmos.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born 1 May 1881. “While both of his parental lineages were distinguished, it is noteworthy that his mother was the great grandniece of… Voltaire. He was the fourth of the couple’s eleven children and was born at the family estate of Sarcenat… in the ancient province of Auvergne.”

A biography notes: “Drawn to the natural world, Teilhard developed his unusual powers of observation.” He was deeply affected by the deaths of his brother Alberic in 1902, followed in 1904 by the death of Louise, his youngest sister, caused him to “momentarily to turn away from concern for things of this world.”

But he found his bearings, and developed a resume that is extraordinary. Among many things: he taught physics and chemistry in Cairo; served as a stretcher-bearer during World War I, for which he received several citations; and spent many years in China, taking part in the discovery of Peking Man. And writing throughout.

He died on 10 April 1955, Easter Sunday, in New York City and buried 60 miles north of there.

I found him interesting because, in 2017, participants at a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture unanimously approved a petition to be sent to Pope Francis to remove the Vatican’s ‘warning’ from Teilhard de Chardin’s writings that dated back to 1962.

Some of his works, on subjects such as original sin and evolution, were banned by Rome as early as 1939. Read a rebuttal to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin here.

Read Teilhard for Beginners.

For ABC Wednesday

Stan LeeBy the time I started reading comic books in the early 1970s, Stan Lee had just recently stopped scripting the bulk of the Marvel titles. He had ceded the title of editor-in-chief in 1972 to Roy Thomas, and other writers were joining the fold.

But Lee, born Stanley Martin Lieber, was listed as publisher and his name was still prominent in every issue: “Stan Lee Presents” and his chatty Stan’s Soapbox. Then I started reading the back issues of the Amazing Spider-Man, via the reprint title Marvel Tales, drawn by Steve Ditko. This inevitably brought me to reading other 1960s works, mostly Lee/Jack Kirby material.

The Hollywood Reporter noted: “Beginning in the 1960s, the irrepressible and feisty Lee punched up his Marvel superheroes with personality, not just power. Until then, comic book headliners like those of DC Comics were square and well-adjusted, but his heroes had human foibles and hang-ups… The evildoers were a mess of psychological complexity.”

As I was learning about the Marvel Universe, I picked up The Origins of Marvel Comics, a book by Stan Lee which Alan David Doane lovingly wrote about. And I got Son of Origins and several other books.

Larry Wilson, who owned a comic book store rival of FantaCo in Albany, noted that “he taught me history, irony, bravery, how to be heroic, fairness, and humility. He gave hope to the downtrodden and told us that good defeats evil, racism is vile, and we all have a role to play in the cause of justice.”

Christopher Allen wrote: “I can’t begin to calculate his impact on me as not just a lover of comics but of reading, of words, and how he affected how I saw the world and the people in it, how even heroes have problems, how everyone deserves respect, and how we are responsible for using our abilities to try to make the world a little better for others.”

Chuck Rozanski, President of Mile High Comics wrote about being “a scared 10 year-old kid hiding in his room from an abusive father in 1965 who found hope and strength through Stan’s awesome early Spider-Man stories…. I took great solace from [Peter Parker’s] struggles to find his place in a hostile world, while still maintaining his decency and never losing his moral compass.

“In many regards, Stan Lee became my surrogate father through the power of his remarkable prose, which still resonates with children (and adults) today. He instilled positive values in me that continue to guide my life, and for that I will be eternally grateful to him.”

Back when my friend Fred Hembeck used to have a daily blog, he always wrote about Stan on December 28, Lee’s birthday. In 2009, wrote: “The man is Fantastic, Amazing, and Incredible, with the Uncanny ability to keep us in Suspense, all the while Astonishing us–even if he is a bit Strange at times!” For an earlier birthday note, see HERE.

John Trumbull collated recollections by people Lee worked with, including Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and many others. Even in his nineties, Stan was the face of Marvel, as his IMDB page makes clear, with dozens of movie appearances, game voiceovers and the like.

Comic book writer Mark Evanier has an interesting perspective. “The trouble with having mixed feelings about someone is that there are those who just want to dwell on the negative ones.”

Also: “Those of you who feel like I do that our friend Jack Kirby was wronged by credits in the past, please remember that Marvel now credits Jack where for decades they did not.” Stan, for his part, was almost always generous in describing Kirby and Ditko’s role in the Marvel method.

I was sadly aware that his last year or so was difficult. “Lee’s wife and partner in nearly everything, Joan Lee, died on July 6, 2017, leaving a void that made her husband… vulnerable to hangers-on who began to surround him.”

The Vanity Fair article, and title, are correct: Stan Lee’s True Legacy Is a Complicated Cosmic Mystery. Ditto the subtitle: “Marvel’s greatest showman was always misunderstood—by those who inflated his importance, and those who dismissed him as a boastful egomaniac.”

Finally, this public service message from Stan. RIP, true believer.
***
Now I Know: When a Court Ruled Whether the X-Men Are Human

Someone wrote on Wednesday, “Is it Friday yet?” I wrote, “Nowhere near!” Why is it that a four-day work week, theoretically a “short week”, can feel so long?

TUESDAY: It wasn’t a short week for everyone. The techies have brought in brand-new computers the day before. They’re nice! I can now read the difference between the E and the R or the N and the M on the new keyboard.

And the computer itself is smaller than the router I have at home. Oh, it has no CD drive, which means I can’t play CDs on the compu… wait a minute, I left a CD in my old computer. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve it.

Naturally, I spend the day looking up passwords, having to recover more than a few, while listening to music I had downloaded.

WEDNESDAY: A bit of snow in Albany, but it didn’t look too bad out. Then my wife called me from work before I left to tell me that it was treacherously slippery out there.

I went to the bus stop and, uncharacteristically, there were nearly a dozen people there. The 7:50 #10 Western Avenue bus never came, I’m told. We all sardined into the 8:10. It is standing room only.

So why does this woman near the front have her purse on a seat? More than one person tried to get her attention to cede the space, but she was obliviously playing a video game on her phone.

Finally, someone tried to move the purse over, and this woman, who was relatively tiny, said in this loud, untiny voice, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” The woman nearby asked about sitting, but the woman seated ranted for about 30 seconds about that her bag was heavy.

1. There was plenty of room under the seat, and 2. Other people weren’t taking up two seats, though they were carrying far larger items. Several people on the bus said very unkind things about this woman, even as we wished each other a good day.

Lest you think the problem was only on the bus, read Chuck Miller’s account about driving on the same day. By the time I finally got to work, there were troves of stories on the local news and Facebook of black ice and accidents everywhere in the region.

THURSDAY: Actually a decent day. I even rode my bike to work. But a storm was coming, so choir rehearsal was canceled.

It was only later that I realized that the DVR recorded NONE of the programming I had scheduled. Some I can see on-demand eventually but I hate missing JEOPARDY!

FRIDAY: Winter snow. My daughter’s school had a two-hour delay. My wife’s school was closed. This actually gave me the opportunity to pass on the #10, take the circuitous #138 bus, which, because there were no school kids on it, actually got me to work nearly on time.

Our intern, who was born in a warmer clime, was scheduled to arrive at 11 but didn’t arrive until 2; ah well.

TW3. It wasn’t THAT bad.

My mom loved Nat King Cole. Not only did she appreciate his voice, but she thought he was quite handsome. As he was born on St. Patrick’s Day 1919, he was less than nine years older than she was.

I remember being in my maternal grandmother’s second floor and find albums of Nat Cole 78s. And by “albums”, I mean these books that looked like photo albums with paper sleeves holding a single cut on each side of the vinyl.

To my recollection, they weren’t being played anymore. My household, a few blocks away, had moved over to that newish technology, the LP, with a dozen songs playing at 33 RPM, or 45 rpm singles. I don’t recall my grandma having any player at all.

I have no idea what happened to the collection, and since I never HEARD them, I don’t recall the tracks, but it seems that most of them were on Capitol Records.

Here’s a list of Nat King Cole songs on 78s. Absent my mother’s feedback, I guess I’ll link to some of my favorites from the period, with no guarantees that I haven’t snatched a re-recording, rather than the originals; there were quite a lot of them.

Hit That Jive Jack (1942)

Straighten Up And Fly Right (1944)

Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good To You (1944)

Sweet Lorraine (1944)

It’s Only A Paper Moon (1944)

The Frim Fram Sauce (1945)

(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 (1946)

(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons (1946)

The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) (1946)

Makin’ Whoopee (1947)

I’m Thru With Love (1950) – the year my parents got married

Mona Lisa (1950)

Too Young (1951)

Unforgettable (1951)

Send for Me (1957) – this may exist in both 78 and 45

I remember when he died in February 1965 from lung cancer, his ever-present cigarettes being the cause. My mom didn’t make a big deal of it, as I recall, but I suspected that his passing privately wounded her.

My mom, Trudy Green, who died 2/2/2011, would have been 91 today.

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