Your Tax Dollars Help Starve Children in Yemen

The End of the American Order

America’s democracy problem

Self-dealing – of the money contributed to his 2020 campaign, $1.1 million has been spent at his businesses

“Witch hunts” explained

The Lame-Duck Power Grab

The Media isn’t “Polarized”, It Has a Right-Wing Cancer

Racism in America: Why Nothing Has Changed

Deconstructing a Genius Climate Change Argument

The Insect Apocalypse

On The Melian Dialogue

My car lost its hometown…

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

How Restaurants Got So Loud

Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health

Everything That’s Ethical to Steal From Work—And Why We Do It in the First Place

Ken Berry, Star of ‘F Troop’ and ‘Mama’s Family’ has dieds at 85 and Dance like Ken Berry and Ken Berry’s been “Bush-wacked”

Did Ross Perot cost George HW Bush a second term as President? and The Dirty Secrets of George HW Bush and Why All the Bush Nostalgia?

This ’80s PBS Show Made It Cool To Love Math

The first installment of the Gasoline Alley newspaper strip appeared in newspapers 100 years ago, and it is still running

Toy Industry to Induct Three New Members into Esteemed Hall of Fame, including the late Stan Lee

Chuck Dixon is now the most prolific comic book writer of all time

The Chilling Killing Wind cover reveal

City Lights is the greatest silent film ever made

Now I Know: The International Dispute That Slowed Down Time and The Space Capsule That Crashed in Oklahoma and The Helium Balloon With a Magical Ending and Floating Away On a Raft of Disappointment and The Hockey Save that Started in the Stands

Cookie Monster: pays a visit to the popular vlog, Rocketboom and The Lord of the Crumbs and C is for Cookie and CM Nosh and Les Mousserables and Furry Potter and the Goblet of Cookies and the Cookie Ballet with superstar ballerina Misty Copeland and HashtagPBS with Martha Stewart

MUSIC

Here’s to the State of Mississippi – Phil Ochs

The Split – Cordell Jackson, the rockin’ granny

Coverville 1242: The Randy Newman Cover Story III

Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2

K-Chuck Radio: I need a good Squeeze right now

Overture from Der Freischutz, composed by Carl Maria von Weber

Arthur’s Weekend Diversion: George Ezra and Hot Chocolate

Tightrope – Janelle Monáe

The Little Things – Chris Heron

Jump For My Love – Perpetuum Jazzile

Saturn (Sleeping at Last cover) – That Cello Guy

Help You Out – AlexSpacesOut

Hell No- Ingrid Michaelson, who attended Binghamton University

Hazel Scott Was Once the Biggest Star in Jazz. Here’s Why You’ve Never Heard of Her

Once was smooth jazz

Deadpool defends Nickelback

black santaAs you may know, Stax Records was the great record label out of Memphis, TN. Motown may have been “The Sound of Young America,” But Stax was “Soulsville U.S.A.”, the title of a tremdous book by Rob Bowman.

For this holiday season, I decided to reprise some songs from the Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles box sets I have. But I had forgotten that there are THREE box sets of nine CDs each. I only bought the first two. So the third set is new to me, and possibly to you.

Volume 3: 1972-1975

What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas – The Emotions; OK, you don’t hear a lot of sad Christmas songs that make the playlist

Season’s Greetings – Cix Bits; totally unfamiliar with this group

Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ – Albert King; what it says

Volume 2: 1968-1971

Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas – Staple Singers; a downer, social justice song – no airplay for you

Black Christmas – Emotions; the trio returns with a song that won’t make most seasonal playlists

The Mistletoe And Me – Isaac Hayes; I contend that this is a GREAT Christmas song, which I’ve never heard on the radio

Volume 1: 1959-1968

Jingle Bells – Booker T. and the M.G.’s; this actually got to #20 on the Xmas charts in 1966, a special designation that Billboard has had on and off. Of the songs listed here, it’s probably the one you’ve most likely heard in December

Winter Snow – Booker T. and the M.G.’s; I love, LOVE this song. Yes, it is melancholy, but it’s an instrumental

Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday – William Bell; this song, written by Bell and Booker T. Jones, actually made #33 on the R&B charts in 1968. Not strictly a holiday song, it would be a fine addition to a playlist

Everyday will be like a holiday
When my baby, when my baby comes home

Now she’s been gone
for such a long time
ever since she’s been gone,
she been on my mind

I got a letter today,
just about noon
she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be home soon”

liturgical cycleIt seems that Advent, the season we’re in now, doesn’t bring me as much joy as it does for others. Someone, I don’t remember who, recently suggested that Advent is Lent-lite.

And I submit it may be true. Just as the Lent precedes the Easter Resurrection, so too is the waiting for the birth. The songs can be somber and in minor key.

It may be Seasonal Affective Disorder, “a type of depression that reoccurs during the winter months and typically lasts until the spring or summer.” The early snow did not help.

Back in the 1980s, I used to go visit my parents’ house in Charlotte, NC January, around Martin Luther King’s birthday. The perfect timing was mandated by doing seasonal music at church and the heavy retail period at the store I worked, FantaCo, followed by doing inventory just after the first of the year.

But I reckon that I also become despondent over how the season has been taken over. Mark Evanier said, “I’m not a Christian but I used to have a very strong respect for what they stood for,” and I knew too well what he meant.

When Christianist apologists act Unchristian, when they “show that on immigration, race, and poverty, white evangelical Protestants have surrendered moral judgment and social responsibility, ” it makes me somewhat angry, but mostly incredibly sad.

Alternet suggests the so-called “war on Christmas” for a proxy war for white supremacy. And it sounds about right.

Then Christmas Eve arrives. It still involves waiting, but it is now of a very short duration. The music that we sing generally has a special magic.

The service has some of the structures of the previous years, yet it always has something new. I trick myself into believing that, for a short while at least, all IS right with the world.

The rocker Ted Nugent turns 70 today and I’m conflicted. On one hand, the vile, racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-animal rights, anti-environmentalist musician should be called out, yes?

On the other hand, as my late mother always said, “If you don’t have something good to say about someone, don’t say anything.” I could write that and leave the rest of the page blank. Which would make the statement, I suppose, and it would be REALLY easy to write, to boot. But it wouldn’t be that interesting to read.

I find him so contemptible that when I saw this faux headline a couple years back Millions Mourn As Rocker/Activist Ted Nugent, Age 68, Found Alive, I’m only mildly embarrassed to admit that I laughed out loud.


His continual disdain for Barack Obama goes back years. “At a concert on August 22, 2007, while wielding what appeared to be automatic rifles, Nugent said in reference to Obama, “suck on my machine gun.”


Naturally, last year, the current resident of the White House “invited Nugent to visit along with right-wing politician/pundit Sarah Palin and rock-or-country musician Kid Rock. The three invitees posed for a picture under the official portrait of First Lady Hillary Clinton — to mock her.”


This year: “Classic rocker and NRA board member Ted Nugent has attacked Parkland’s teenage school shooting survivors-turned-gun control activists, calling them ‘mushy brained’ and ‘soulless’ liars. In an appearance on The Joe Pags Show…, Nugent apparently forgot about his promise to stop using ‘hateful rhetoric’ after last year’s congressional shooting in Virginia.”


He also has, it appears intentionally, obfuscated whether he dodged the military draft.


And yet there is one old song of his with the Amboy Dukes I actually really like. And I enjoy it much more because “Nugent, an ardent anti-drug campaigner, has always claimed that he had no idea that this song was about drug use.”


I would never want to journey into the center of his [string of invectives] mind.

Kennedy Center Honors 2018

“On December 2, 2018, the Kennedy Center held its 41st annual national celebration of the arts — The Kennedy Center Honors.” For the second year in a row, the guy in the White House won’t be there.

“The 2018 Honorees include singer and actress Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, Country music entertainer Reba McEntire, and jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter.”

I wrote at length about Cher on her 70th birthday a couple years ago. SINCE then, she continues to do concerts, received the Billboard Icon Award, co-starred in the romantic musical comedy film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and put out a hit album of ABBA covers called Dancing Queen.

She’s now the subject of “The Cher Show, a jukebox musical based on Cher’s life and music, [which] officially premiered at the Oriental Theatre, Chicago, on June 28, 2018, and had its Broadway debut on December 3, 2018.”

Philip Glass (b. 1937) is a minimalist composer. Some soundtrack of his used to drive an old girlfriend of mine crazy when I played it. I have two of his CDs; one is The “Low” Symphony, based on the music of David Bowie.

The other is Songs from Liquid Days, “a collection of songs composed by… Glass with lyrics by Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, David Byrne, and Laurie Anderson… The recording features performances by Bernard Fowler, the Kronos Quartet, Janice Pendarvis, Douglas Perry, The Roches, Linda Ronstadt…” Listen to Forgetting.

Reba McEntire (b. 1955) is one of the most successful country artists ever; if I have any of her songs, it’s on a random compilation. But she shows up in films, on TV and even on Broadway. She’s ubiquitous.

Wayne Shorter (b. 1933) is a major jazz saxophonist. He played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis’ jazz quintet in the 1960s. I know him best from the jazz-fusion group Weather Report.

He has a 2018 magnum opus, Emanon. “Encompassing three discs of music (just over two hours) and an original sci-fi graphic novel, the project is a grand statement that seeks to blur distinctions between the premeditated idea and the spontaneous gesture, or between ‘classical’ and ‘jazz’ as they’re usually framed.”

“This year, the co-creators of Hamilton — writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and music director Alex Lacamoire — received a unique Kennedy Center Honors as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category.”

Though I’ve not yet seen Hamilton, about first Treasury Secretary, I’m in that group that has heard so often that I know the songs as well as I’m familiar with On the Street Where You Live, even though I’ve never seen My Fair Lady.

The writers of JEOPARDY! use Hamilton references a lot, to mixed results: “This musical includes the song ‘The Room Where It Happens'” was a missed Daily Double. No one knew “In the entrance hall of Monticello Jefferson placed a bust of himself opposite one of this Cabinet secretary & rival.”

“The Honors Gala will be broadcast on the CBS Network for the 41st consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Wednesday, December 26 at 8 p.m. ET.” 2017 Honoree Gloria Estefan hosts.

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