herb-jeffries-08

The always curious Sharp Little Pencil wants to know:

Why do you think no one has made a movie about Herb Jeffries yet… and if they did, whom would you cast?

To the former, because I think most people don’t know Hollywood’s first singing black cowboy.

Tell you what: you write the screenplay and I’ll send it off to Jada Pinkett Smith. Actually, if there WERE a screenplay, I’d probably send it to Nelson George – I backed one of his Kickstarter projects – and he could get it to Spike Lee, with whom he has collaborated.

Maybe it’s because I just saw my niece singing with him, but I was thinking El DeBarge, of that singing DeBarge family, or Prince. If you needed a younger actor, maybe Jussie Smollett from the show Empire, which I’ve never seen, or Drake.

Who is your favorite ex-president?

My first strong awareness of an ex-President was Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), who I was SHOCKED to discover that he was still alive by the time I first learned about The Great Depression. I must confess that I was entertained by Richard Nixon, who tried REALLY hard to be an Elder Statesmen of the Republican Party, writing books, and pontificating, hoping that we’d forget about that Watergate thing.

My second favorite ex-President has to be John Quincy Adams, who went back into the House of Representatives, and argued the Amistad case before the Supreme Court.

But clearly, Jimmy Carter has set the standard for former Oval Office occupiers. If it was just for all the Habitat for Humanity houses he helped build, that would be impressive. But he has also worked vigorously on preventing and eradicating diseases in developing nations.

“A major accomplishment of The Carter Center has been the elimination of more than 99 percent of cases of Guinea worm disease, from an estimated 3.5 million cases in 1986 to 148 reported cases in 2013 to 23 in 2015.” He’s also been involved with peace negotiations and observing elections.

If you got a tattoo, what would it be?

It’d be The Duck. Or a G clef; G is for Green.

The illustrious Alan David Doane reflects:

I recently turned 50, so I’ve been thinking a lot about aging and time and so on lately.

If you could go back in time and talk to your 20 year old self, what three pieces of advice would you give him to try to improve the decades he has ahead?

This is a tricky question. By my 20th birthday, I was already married, and two years later, I was separated. So:

Do I say to him what he ought to do in order to try to save the relationship OR assume those facts to be immutable. and advise him how to survive it better?

If it were the former, I might insist that we not allow boarders, who I didn’t even know, to live in the apartment. I might have been more willing to go with her to the Philadelphia Folk Festival in August 1974, and if I didn’t, to be more direct in finding out what happened hat led to her fortnightly treks out of town the next six weeks, something I don’t know to this day.

It it were the latter, I would suggest seeking counseling earlier, drinking less in 1974-75, save more money, do more exercise… But you know, and I’ve said this before, probably recently, all of those good and bad decisions made me who I am today, for better or worse. I’m not sure he’d believe what I’d say anyway. It’s like at the end of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy realizes that she had to find out for herself.

The author Jaquandor from Byzantium Shores asks:

Has it become harder to maintain any interest you have in football, as the head-injury thing becomes more and more clear?

I saw the movie Concussion, about a doctor (Will Smith) dealing this very subject, CTE, in the National Football League a few months ago; it’s a good, not great, film. In the film, another person not from the United States explains to the doctor the sheer beauty of the sport.

So, not yet. Well, maybe, in that The Daughter thinks watching football is stupid, and a lot of that comes from the head injury debate. The Wife has never particularly enjoyed the sport. So it’s taken a hit in viewing in my household to those rare times that I have the TV home alone on a Sunday afternoon.

VERY seldom do I watch TV much after 9 p.m., including football, because it’s bad for my sleep cycle.

I DO think the NFL, having played down the risk of head injuries using research that it falsely claimed was comprehensive, has put itself on the hot seat to actually develop a better helmet. From what little I know, the design they need is actually less hard, and more resilient.

Now the league, in particular, could do more. The one game I watched at any length this past season was the New York Giants (my team in my childhood) against the Carolina Panthers (playing in the city my late parents moved to). The officials should have bounced Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for repeated helmet-smacking of cornerback Josh Norman, including a head-first attack.

Ah, but I see you have said farewell to football, and for all sorts of good and valid reasons.

What’s your favorite milkshake flavor?

Strawberry. My favorite yogurt is strawberry. My favorite ice cream is strawberry. My favorite sundae topping is strawberry. For a time, when we used to go to IHOP, I would order the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity strawberry topping on my pancakes, in part because I liked saying “Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity.” As though one wouldn’t.

There’s a local convenience store chain around these parts called Stewart’s and they make a decent ice cream. But they’ve ceased selling strawberry by itself, only with vanilla, or with vanilla and chocolate. One CAN get a hand-packed strawberry pint, though.

What’s inside your perfect taco? (And is the shell hard or soft?)

It’s soft shell – that’s easy. Guacamole, tomatoes, and lettuce. It has to have onions, and of course, cheese.

I don’t eat that much pork generally, so the taco is probably shredded pork, though chicken or beef are good too. But shredded. I’ve seen these things with solid meat, or fish, and they don’t say “taco” to me.

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