Megyn KellyIf you’re in the United States, you might be familiar with Megyn Kelly. She was a news personality for Fox News from 2004 to 2017. She was a panelist at one of the Republican “debates”, where she had a bit of a row with one of the candidates, the one who ended up getting the nomination.

I imagine it’s why she was hired by NBC to be their “conservative female journalist.” On her short-lived Sunday evening show, she interviewed conspiracy nut Alex Jones, which was not a popular move.

Then she was given the third hour of the four-hour block of the TODAY show, but she never fit in thematically, or, apparently, personally. Her rating were disastrous.

When she was in a discussion about Halloween and described that using blackface had been considered acceptable when she was growing up, a couple things happened. One was that she was heavily criticized, especially by her NBC colleagues.

She gave up an apology, acknowledging the painful legacy, but diminishing her statement by mentioning how she tended not being “politically correct.” She lost her post as host of the 9 a.m. hour of the “Today” show.

I wish there had been a bit more of that explanation, not merely that it was “offensive.” CBS News Sunday Morning provided Blackface: A cultural history of a racist art form.

Borowitz of the New Yorker, wrote, satirically, Fox News Says Megyn Kelly’s Blackface Comments Not Racist Enough to Get Old Job Back.

The other reaction was from where she grew up, which happens to be Delmar, Albany County, NY. Students from her high school alma mater condemned Kelly’s comments, saying she was not accurately describing their town.

One prominent Albany Law School grad complained that, largely based on her race-baiting arguments on Fox, the law school shamefully put Kelly, class of 1995, on the cover of its alumni magazine, hosted her book signing, and had her speak at a graduation.

Ivan Rodat, who went to high school with Megyn Kelly wrote a measured response in Blackface in the ’Burbs.

A good friend of mine told me that the family now lives in the house Megyn Kelly grew up in. I only recently learned that when NBC first signed Kelly, the network wanted the current owners to “meet cute” the former resident. That was, to say the least, a non-starter.

This is the big one: the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great World War, the war to end all wars, which has not worked out nearly as well as we would have liked.

I read this spring: The 3.3 million veterans who have served since September 11, 2001, “now are roughly half the size of the largest living veteran population: Those who served in the Vietnam era.”

While I knew this intellectually, it pained me to see: “As this year marks the 15th and 17th anniversaries of the onset of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…” This means that every 16-year-old born in the United States has ALWAYS lived with war, just as every 18-year-old has lived post-Columbine, the Colorado mass shooting.

Or more correctly, warlike conflicts, since the US doesn’t usually bother with such formalities involving Congress declaring war anymore. Because of the voluntary nature of the military, it is not always obvious on the home front that we’re at war, or in conflict, or whatever we call it. No war bonds or victory gardens.

And it’s a tricky thing to recognize the valor of a soldier in combat, even when one opposes the actual incursion. My long-held opposition to the wars in Vietnam and Iraq have led to some to label me in the past as unpatriotic, not “supporting our troops.” To which I said some version of “I support their right to come home in one piece.”

I’ve never understood how a bumper sticker actually translated into helping those who served in the military. Whereas helping homeless veterans, or helping those with the physical and psychological scars of battle are noble callings.

More Census stats:

“Veterans who have served since 9/11 are more diverse

“About 17 percent are women, 15.3 percent are black, and 12.1 percent are Hispanic. Almost half (47.6 percent) are still under the age of 35.

“They are an educated group. More than 46 percent have some college education and 32 percent have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2016, about 612,000 post-9/11 veterans were in college.”

Music throwback: Loving You Has Made Me BananasI can’t believe – or maybe I CAN believe – that I failed to note the 50th anniversary earlier this year of the release of Loving You Has Made Me Bananas by Guy Marks. Marks, born Mario Scarpa on Halloween 1923 in South Philadelphia, PA, was one of 11 children, nine who lived to adulthood, born to Italian immigrants.

“He had a natural gift for mimicry, and his impressions of celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Boris Karloff, and many others were considered among the best. However, he also could imitate a housefly on a slippery oil cloth, neon signs, alligators, driftwood furniture, rubber bands, frozen chickens, frogs, praying mantis, and — his favorite — an ostrich, all of which found their way into his act or in characters he played on TV.”

Marks “made his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 29, 1960. From that point on he appeared dozens of times throughout the 1960s and 1970s on popular variety shows. His big break came when he was cast as a regular on the 1962–63 season of The Joey Bishop Show.”

Loving You Has Made Me Bananas is an odd song in that I rarely heard it when it first came out – it only reached #51 on the Billboard pop charts, though #19 on the adult contemporary list, in 1968 – but when I did, I assumed it was some oldie I had somehow managed to have missed. It hit the Top 30 in the UK in both 1968 and 1978.

In the day, everyone knew 3/4s of the chorus:

Oh, your red scarf matches your eyes
You closed your cover before striking
[something something something] blues
Loving you has made me bananas.

But what was that third line? I never knew until recently:
Father had the shipfitter blues

Guy Marks died November 28, 1987 at the age of 64.

Listen to the single:

Loving You Has Made Me Bananas here or here

Forgive Me My Love here

It was 20 years ago today that I was in a room at my then-church watching myself on JEOPARDY! I was VERY uncomfortable with this – I would have as soon watched it alone at home – but others had talked me into this gathering.

I need not go through the blow-by-blow experience about being on the show. I wrote about it extensively when I started this blog in 2005, a serial with cliffhangers at the end of each installment, which you can read HERE. The pieces are below the links. They’re also on this site for those dates, Saturdays starting on May 28.

In fact, as I’ve noted, it was being on JEOPARDY! that convinced me that I had enough stuff to write about, at least for a little while. Since I needn’t recap this period, I thought I’d mentioned how the show has changed.

For one thing, the show does an online audition, whereas I did mine in person. The value of the board doubled three years after my appearance. They now give cash prizes to the runners-up.

The most significant change was that, starting in September 2003, a contestant who won five consecutive days could keep playing instead of retiring undefeated and showing up in the Tournament of Champions. For all sorts of reasons, I’ve always opposed the change. And for this season, there’s their FIRST-EVER TEAM TOURNAMENT! I’m not excited.

I still watch the show every day. Well, that’s not technically true. I record it every day and watch at my leisure. So I hate it when JEOPARDY! becomes newsworthy, such as a Sudden Death Tiebreaker! first in regular play.

Or when someone’s noted as an eight-time winner in a news story when I’ve only watched his fourth episode. I now knew he would win those next four games. (That happened last year with bartender Austin Rogers.) It seems that recent champions are more quirky, in the main.

I’m buds with Amy Roeder, one of my competitors, on Facebook.

Winning one game on JEOPARDY! is better than not winning at all, or not getting on at all. No, I can’t go back. But I still have the VCR tape transferred to a DVD. Oh, 12 surprising things you didn’t know about ‘Jeopardy!’ all but one of which I was aware of.

Big BirdI was going to pass on this quiz. But Ken Levine did it, and so did Mark Evanier.

Then the original Big Bird, Caroll Spinney, left ‘Sesame Street’ After Nearly 50 Years. What’s THAT got to do with anything? Those of you who spent time in the neighborhood know.

Available/Single? Neither. In the words of Bullwinkle J. Moose, “This time for sure!”

Best Friend? Either someone I’ve known since kindergarten or someone I’ve known since the first day at college.

Cake or Pie? Pie, clearly. It’s so flexible. Meat pies, fruit pies, pies for throwing, which I don’t do but this guy – buy his books! – does.

Drink of Choice? it’s seasonal. Right now, mulled cider. At other times, lemonade.

Essential Item You Use Everyday? My electric toothbrush.

Favorite Color? Well, duh. Green. Or maybe blue. No, definitely green.

Gummy Bears or Worms? I don’t HATE them, I just don’t see the point.

Hometown? Binghamton, NY

Indulgence? Probably this blog.

January or February? Probably February. Closer to my birthday. Also, it’s Black History Month at my church, which is a pain in the tuckus, but January involves PLANNING it, which is worse.

Kids and Their Names? Oh, The Daughter doesn’t mind being The Lydster, but HATES being referred to as The Daughter.

Life is Incomplete Without? Music. Even when it’s not playing, I often hear it.

Marriage Date? May 15, which we picked in honor of McDonald’s opening its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California in 1940.

Number of Siblings? Two sisters, both younger.

Oranges or Apples? Orange juice for drinking, Mac apples for eating.

Phobias/Fears? Trump in 2020.

Quote You Like? I’d rather stay silent and appear ignorant than to speak up and remove any doubt. That’s the way my late father said it.

Reason to Smile? A familiar piece of music when I suddenly hear something new. In general, learning something new.

Season? Paprika. Oh, sorry, spring, which, BTW, my birthday is the foreteller of.

Tag Three or Four People? Willie Mays, Art Fleming, Eleanor Roosevelt. And Arthur, but only if he wants to so he can make par.

Unknown Fact About Me? I’m told that, when I was in third grade, I got so angry because some kids were playing keep-away with my hat that I went home. I can totally believe it. What I don’t remember is the anecdote my friends all tell that I hopped a Crowley’s milk truck to get home.

Vegetable You Don’t Like? I was going to say Trumpettes, but let’s go with canned beets, which are also terrible.

Worst Habit? I am not a neat freak.

X-Rays You’ve Had? There was one on my left knee in 1994, one showing my broken rib in 2009, and the usual ones folks have.

Your Favorite Food? Spinach lasagna. It has spinach. It has lasagna. What more do I need?

Zodiac Sign? Pisces, like Luther Burbank, Maurice Ravel, and Willard Scott.

Here’s Caroll Spinney, as Big Bird, singing ABC-DEF-GHI Song.

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