Archive for August, 2017

I didn’t have a huge interest in the British royals, though I’ve seen two movies featuring George VI (The King’s Speech and Hyde Park on the Hudson). His successor, his elder daughter Queen Elizabeth II, has been monarch for my entire life. The late Anthony Armstrong-Jones, the royal photographer, and QEII’s former brother-in-law (her sister Margaret’s ex), had his birthday on 7 March, as do I.

But it was impossible not to be aware of the wedding on 29 July 1981 between Prince Charles and Diana Spencer. As I noted back on 2013-07-27, about a half a year after the event, my friend Jessica developed a parody skit of that event, a narrative accompanied by a slide show. The presentation was the Eighth Step Coffee House when it was still located at First Presbyterian Church, and it was hilariously irreverent. I played the Archbishop of Canterbury.

When Diana died on 31 August 1997, I thought it was most unfortunate. But like QEII, as portrayed in the movie The Queen, I did not realize what an outpouring of grief would transpire.

I know my ex-girlfriend (now my wife) was more affected as well. They were about the same age, among other things. I don’t know if she knew that the Spencers were related to her family, the Olins, at that time, though it’s been much codified since, so they are actually distant cousins.

Still, in my possession is a CD of the BBC Recording of the Funeral Service of 6 September, released on 30 September. I may have purchased it for someone else. I play it nearly every year around this time, and I find it quite moving. The tolling of the bells, the various hymns and readings, her brother Earl Spencer’s loving but bitter tribute, and of course, Elton John’s reworking of his song Candle In The Wind [listen]. Rerecorded shortly thereafter, it became one of the biggest singles of all time.

Professor Jonathan Frink Sr, voiced by Jerry Lewis

U.S. Productivity: What Is It, How to Calculate It

Workers, the labor movement and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Play The Bail Trap Game!

Hitting the pavement instead of the sheetcake

Vice News/HBO Documentary on Charlottesville

Vloggger brothers: Race is uncomfortable for me to talk about

Kim Kingsley: My Life Lessons in Rust Belt Racism

Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago

Kickstarter: Mine! : a comics collection to benefit Planned Parenthood

8 years of suffering under Barack Obama

Religion for the Nonreligious

Alaska’s permafrost is no longer permanent. It is starting to thaw

The yard of campaign yard signs

Forgotten Technology: Man Lifts 20 Ton Block By Hand

Warren Roberts: Reflecting on my blogs at the Times Union

REVIEW: “Monty Python’s Spamalot” at the Mac-Haydn – the Wife and I saw this show. It was great, but we were so near the stage we feared that we’d have our feet being stepped on. And I was struck by a cow – seriously. A stuffed cow that was launched from the French castle; ’twas but a glancing blow

Jay Thomas on Letterman.- The ‘Lone Ranger’ Story (2014)

Which Gaming Console Was the Most Popular?

Tony Isabella: To Black Lightning, with love

Now I Know: The Political Race Which Was, Literally, a Race and Drinking and Drive-Overs

Give the back of your hand to opisthenar

THAT GUY AND HIS FAMILY

Friedrich wrote letter begging not to be deported

The White nationalist House

The Message in Joe Arpaio’s Pardon and Fascism as a Unifying Principle

The Constitutional Crisis Has Begun

DJT’s list of false and misleading claims tops 1,000

How He Uses Deceit And Propaganda To Shape Perceptions

The Village Voice did a profile back in 1979—nothing’s changed, he’s always lied

How the Secret Service Treats Protestors

How he Ruined My Relationship With My White Mother

Chelsea Clinton comes to Barron’s defense after conservative criticism

MUSIC

Housequake -Prince, live (1987)

Waiting For The Waiter – MonaLisa Twins ft. John Sebastian

Coverville 1182: August birthday cavalcade

It’s Good News Week – Hedgehoppers Anonymous

K-Chuck Radio: I want a Beach Boys a cappella album right now!!

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Barbershop Harmony Society

Gated reverb: The sound of the ’80s

Gordon Lightfoot’s 10 Best Songs

Gene Kelly would have been 105 this month

The Good Old Days, and Two Lost Souls – Jerry Lewis in Damn Yankees

Rent Party Rag – Spider John Koerner

Sesame Street: ’80s Music Mashup Parody and El Patito, featuring Ernie and Rosita

Children’s March: Over the Hills and Far Away, by Percy Grainger

Hello Goodbye – the Beatles

As a result of the tremendous success of the musical about the United States’ first Treasury Secretary, there have several articles referring to “the Hamilton effect.” This 2016 article in Playbill describes saving the $10 bill, popularizing Hamilton as a first name, and increasing an interest in late 18th century American history. See also here and here, for instance.

In the Albany, NY area, the Hamilton effect is strong. The historic Schuyler Mansion celebrates 100 years as state-run site. It’s a bigger deal than it might be because Alexander Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler “in the mansion’s parlor on Dec. 14, 1780. The couple lived in Albany for nearly two years after their marriage and they brought their children on summer vacations to the 32 Catherine St. house. Scholars believe Hamilton wrote three of the 85 articles known as the Federalist Papers in the house.”

My wife finished Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography, all 832 pages of it, this summer. The daughter insists that we listen to the music every time we are in the car. This is actually less than last year when the playing was nonstop.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway musical altered the lives of countless unsuspecting fans with a powerful history lesson embedded in hypnotic, rhyming lyrics and a hip-hop beat.” It won 11 of 16 Tony awards for which it was nominated.

Long before the phenomenon, we were positively disposed toward Hamilton. A. Ham’s wife was a member of First Presbyterian Church, my current church, albeit in a different location.

Upon the death of Alexander Hamilton in 1804, highly-regarded First Presbyterian minister Eliphalet Nott delivered a “powerful sermon condemning the practice of dueling. It had a profound influence in curtailing the custom and has been recognized to this day as a work of great oratory.” I heard the sermon delivered at First Pres in 2004.

The three of us are hoping to finally see Hamilton in the next couple years.

The soundtrack
The soundtrack
The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)
Hamilton’s “rap” still rings true today

Jack-KirbyThe Wikipedia post reads: “Jack Kirby (/ˈkɜrbi/; August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994), born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic book artist, writer, and editor widely regarded as one of the medium’s major innovators and one of its most prolific and influential creators.” This is understatement; he was known as King Kirby for a reason.

Check out this page for just some of the characters he was responsible for creating or co-creating.

Lots of people can write more eloquently than I about Jack Read the rest of this entry »


The day after our work trip to Syracuse in April, a remarkable thing happened. I brought my keys, my wallet, my cellphone, one of my Amazon Fire tablets, and my work identification to work. That had not happened in so long I do not recall when. Then it happened again on Thursday, June 1.

Usually, I know where my keys are, unless the Daughter has borrowed them, or they’re in a pair of pants that have ended up in the laundry. Still, it’s a good thing we have a spare house key.

Generally, I bring my wallet, though occasionally it’ll be in the OTHER coat. Loose change in the backpack, or an emergency credit card in the mail drawer, can be a salvation.

I like carrying one of my tablets to check emails and play games. I remember more than half the time. In fact, I now have TWO tablets because I misplaced one for a couple weeks, and then the other, eventually discovered in the clutter we’ve been tackling.

Incidentally, one of them, the 8, as opposed to the 7, can be charged for hours, but it will only show as 1% charged. I can then use it for quite a while before it really IS at 1%, then at 0%, and it shuts down.

There was a recent report that more people are living without a landline. That won’t include me for some time, unless, like the folks in Illinois might be, I’m forced to give it up.

It seems that either my cell is MIA, or it has zero juice. The other thing I’ve noticed is that my cellphone does NOT work well in my own house. When I call the phone company to get the landline fixed, I usually have to use it on the front porch.

But I seem most resistant to the ID. That definitely DID go through the washing machine, because my badge has a bit of of a psychedelic look. Moreover, almost every time I use the thing, I sing, “Let me see your ID.”

My parents used to call me the “absent-minded professor,” so I assure you that this is not a function of age. It’s just how my mind works, or occasionally, fails to.

As noted, technology doesn’t always work for me the way I understand it’s supposed to.

A friend of mine was visiting a friend in London, when two guys on a scooter snatched her phone out of hand as she was happily gesturing and chatting with her friend. Beyond feeling sad for her, it points to my distrust of becoming dependent on any device too much.

I made a tactical error on a trip to New Paltz, my old college town, recently. We were rushing to leave Albany, but I was short on cash. The Daughter’s phone says there’s a branch of my bank within a store in town, but when I get there, the store ownership has changed. It’s essentially the same establishment, with a different name, but no longer even an ATM. Fortunately there was another option only a couple miles away, but still…

The technologically bashful Arthur recognizes that all his new technology is a product of his great good fortune. So I reckon I oughtn’t to kvetch about my techno stress too much.

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