Archive for the ‘ABC Wednesday’ Category


It must have been about 1996, give or take a year. I was working as a librarian, for the same company I work for now, but three locations ago, and I was having trouble with my computer. (Historical fact: I ALWAYS have trouble with my computers; when the IT people set a schedule for replacement, my difficulties almost always exceed their expectations. I like computers, but they don’t always like me.)

So I ask one of the techies if he could fix my computer, which had frozen up. He said, “Did you reboot it?”, and I said, “Huh?” Up until that very moment, I had never heard the term “reboot”. I thought he wanted me to kick it, and if necessary, kick it again, which I was willing to do, though I doubted its efficacy.

That was not what he meant; he meant for me to turn the computer off and then to restart it, thus reloading the operating system. Years of being trained by IT guys now informs me that I don’t even go see them until I can honestly say, “I rebooted it, and it still doesn’t work.” Later, I learned the sometimes magic of Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

Now the term reboot has evolved into another meaning: “A term that comes from computer usage. To reboot a computer is to start it up again after a computer crash. Hence, “reboot” has the connotation of starting a process over again.*

This take on “reboot” is particularly popular with popular culture, such as motion pictures and television shows. The 2009 Star Trek movie, going back to before Kirk, Spock et al were on the Enterprise is a popular example. The 2010 Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood has been called a reboot, though it’s been remade about 287 times. 2010′s Karate Kid, with Will Smith’s son Jaden as the Kid and Jackie Chan in the Pat Morita role is a recent example, as is the 2010 version of Nightmare on Elm Street, without Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. The 2010 fall TV schedule features Hawaii 5-0, a popular show over 30 years ago.

What is the difference between a remake and a reboot? I’m not quite sure.

I will opine that the revamping of this blog at the beginning of the month is NOT a reboot. It’s still the same person writing (me). It may be on WordPress rather than Blogger, but that’s like a show moving from one television network to another. I may now have my own URL, but doesn’t change much either.

In case you were wondering how this change came about:
Rose DesRochers, an “avid blogger, published poet and freelance writer” from Canada had a free blog hosting contest back in February. I wrote about it, and actually won six months of free service from VisionThisHosting.com. Shawn DesRochers, Rose’s husband, is the Web Hosting Administrator. I did nothing about it for a while, then probably made Shawn’s life miserable getting this site up.

Rose and Shawn have been going through some stuff recently, which I would not bring up except that Rose mentioned herself in her blog. Their 19-year-old daughter has just been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which I’m sure affected not only Rose, but Shawn as well. Rose writes that, coincidentally, May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month.

So thanks, Rose, for the site. Shawn, thanks for your continued assistance. My good wishes to you both and for your daughter.
***
Oh, and happy birthday to my “baby” sister Marcia!


ABC Wednesday

* “reboot.” The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 16 May. 2010. .


When I first heard the songs of the rock group Queen in the mid-1970s, I thought it was a very good group with songs such as:
*Killer Queen (#12 on the Billboard charts in the United States in 1975)
*You’re My Best Friend (#9 in 1976)
*Bicycle Race (#24 in 1978) – hey, I ride sometimes
*the rockabilly sensibilities of Crazy Little Thing Called Love (the group’s first #1, in 1980)
*Play The Game (#42 in 1980)
*the bass line-insistent Another One Bites The Dust (another #1, in 1980)
*the goofy fun of Flash (as in Gordon) (#42 in 1981)

Then Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991 Read the rest of this entry »

Before I get started, a JEOPARDY! Daily Double from 4/14/2010:
ONLY ONE VOWEL $2,000: Though it has only one vowel in its name, this element’s periodic table symbol is 2 vowels.

It’s been a long time since I took high school chemistry. Check out, if you would, this nifty dynamic periodic table. If you put the cursor over a category, it will highlight those elements in that category. If you click on the category, it will give you an encyclopedic interpretation of the group. This is likewise true for the individual elements.
Read the rest of this entry »


You thought that when the closing ceremonies took place in Vancouver, BC at the end of February, the high-caliber athletes had almost all left town. But there would be, in March, a parallel “Olympics”, he Paralympics, coming to the Canadian city. This involves a number of athletes who compete at the highest levels despite their physical disabilities.

The Paralympics started in 1960 (summer) and 1976 (winter), and has its own governing board, separate from the IOC. Yet, since the Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea in 1988, the location of these games have paralleled the locations of the Summer and Winter Olympics. At least for the next Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the Olympics and the Paralympics share a common organizing committee. I called the U.S. folks in the Paralympic movement to clarify the relationship between the two groups, but the public relations person was not available.

The summer and winter games include the following sports, governed by the IPC: Alpine Skiing, Athletics, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey, Powerlifting, Shooting, Swimming, Wheelchair Dance Sport, plus several sports regulated by international federations, and a handful of others under the jurisdiction of International Organization of Sport for the Disabled.

The Paralympics are not to be confused with the Special Olympics, founded by the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver. “For people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics is often the only place where they have an opportunity to participate in their communities and develop belief in themselves.”

Not incidentally, this year is the premiere of the Youth Olympic Games;you can find more here.

Of course, there are the Olympics, which ran for about 1000 years, then was canceled for over a millennium, with a few furtive attempts to restart during that time. I’m not going to talk about the modern Games, which started in 1896, except for three things:
1) if I ever get to Switzerland, I MUST go to the Olympic museum
2) a really cool feature on the olympic.org site is feature that can retrieve all the Olympic results from 1896 through 2008; Vancouver is not yet represented.
3)Juan Antonio Samaranch, former IOC head, recently died. Got to say that he really modernized the financing of the games, though there were some issues over the Salt Lake City Games. And, except for American Avery Brundidge, he was the only IOC head I could name.


Sumi, the Paralympics mascot

ABC Wednesday
ROG


I have not traveled extensively. I’ve been to about 30 US states. Outside of the country, I’ve only been to Canada, Mexico and Barbados, only the former more than once. So I get to “travel” through a number of blogs.

One of the blogs I visit is Nik Durga’s Spatula Forum. Nik is “an American journalist who now lives in New Zealand with my kiwi wife and son.” Somehow, this led me to http://amerinz.blogspot.com/. Arthur is another American expat living in New Zealand, of longer tenure, who writes: “I moved to New Zealand from Chicago in 1995 to be with my partner. I’ve worked in the printing and publishing industries for about twenty years.” It’s possible I found Arthur through Nik’s appearance on Arthur’s podcast, but I don’t recall.

Regardless, Arthur celebrated the third anniversary of his podcast last month, March 28, to be precise. In honor of that, he posed 20 questions, for which he kindly also presented the answers, which people were supposed to send him in order to win a “Kiwi prize pack”; alas, I did not win. Being a tad librarianish, I decided to send along links with the answers, which was not required. It later occurred to me that those links could be the basis of THIS VERY blogpost.

The information will not be in the order that Arthur gave it, since his was intentionally all over the place chronologically.

The Waitangi Treaty was signed February 6, 1840. This “extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection, and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British subjects.”

The First_Taranaki War, fueled by a land dispute between the Maori and the Europeans,
began on March 17, 1860 and ended on March 18, 1861.

The New Zealand Cross was created on March 10, 1869, important “because New Zealand’s local military were not eligible for the [British] Victoria Cross.”

“New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world where women had won the right to vote” on September 19, 1893.

The Brunner mine disaster took place on March 26, 1896.

New Zealand achieved dominion status on September 26, 1907.

There are 453 New Zealand World War I memorials.

An agreement of Australian-New Zealand cooperation was signed in Canberra on January 21, 1944.

The Wahine Shipwreck disaster occurred on April 10, 1968.

The Homosexual Law Reform Act was signed on July 11, and went into effect August 8, 1986.

The first Kiwi to win an Academy Award took place in March 1994, the 21st in Los Angeles, when Anna Paquin was named Best Supporting Actress for “The Piano”. Anna was born in Canada, but raised in New Zealand.

The Prostitution Reform Act was passed in 2003.

Nationwide elections in New Zealand are held every three years, “or earlier, should it be necessary.” At this writing, the ruling party is New Zealand National Party and the leading opposition party is the New Zealand Labour Party.

There are about 13200 km from Chicago, IL US to Auckland, NZ.

As at Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 02:58:46 am (local time), the estimated resident population of New Zealand was 4,364,669.

Most of the questions Arthur got from New Zealand History online, which celebrated its 11th anniversary last month.


ABC Wednesday


ROG


“There is something almost superhuman about the range and technique of Bobby McFerrin,” says Newsweek. “He sounds, by turns, like a blackbird, a Martian, an operatic soprano, a small child, and a bebop trumpet.”

Back in the early 1980s, I had heard of this a capella singer who performed in the jazz mode, making near orchestral sounds with his voice and body, named Bobby McFerrin. I was familiar with him mostly because every album had a some pop music covers. [Here is a live cover version of the Beatles' Blackbird.]

Almost every season of the popular sitcom called Cosby Show had a different version of the theme to open the show. For Season 4 (1987-1988), the opening was performed by McFerrin.

In the summer of 1988, I was in San Diego, riding in the car of my sister’s friend Donald, when I heard a song called “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” for the first time. I thought, “That could be a big hit in southern California, but I don’t know if anyone else will buy it.” Of course, it hit the national charts on July 30, and went to #1 for two weeks, starting on September 30. (Here’s one video, and this the video featuring McFerrin and Robin Williams.

Skip to in 1989, when he he formed a ten-person ‘Voicestra’ which he featured on his 1990 album Medicine Music. I happened to catch McFerrin and Voicestra one morning on NBC-TV’s Today show. After a couple songs, I recall that Bryant Gumbel, then the co-host of the show, noted that McFerrin had said in an interview that he would no longer perform “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, his only #1 hit, and that now he (Gumbel) understood why.
Sweet in the Morning from Medicine Music, featuring Voicestra.
Discipline, Featuring Robert McFerrin & Voicestra

I bought about a half dozen copies of that album to give as Christmas presents in 1990.

I was watching that episode with our brand-new new church choir director, Eric, who was crashing at our apartment until he found a place of his own. A couple years later, he arranged the McFerrin version of the 23rd Psalm for three guys in the choir to sing, Bob, Tim, and with me singing the highest part, all falsetto. On the recording, McFerrin sings all three vocal tracks, overdubbed, himself, which you can hear HERE.

McFerrin has also worked in collaboration with instrumental performers including pianists Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul, drummer Tony Williams, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma; this is Ma and McFerrin’s version of Ave Maria.

My wife and I had the great good fortune to see bobby McFerrin live at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on August 6, 1999. Here’s the review, from which I want to highlight the following:

Whether conducting the classics, improvising on an original tune plucked from thin air or cavorting within the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the affable McFerrin charms all in his wake.

Finding descriptive labels for the multitalented McFerrin seems futile. His talent is so broad and diverse that there seems to be nothing he can’t do well, including stand-up comedy. There’s a serious side, too, as the wunderkind leads the likes of the Philly through compositions by major composers such as Sergei Prokofiev and Felix
Mendelssohn.

McFerrin’s uncanny ability to do “voices” put the audience on the floor with
all the characters from “Oz,” the most memorable of which was Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch line — “Come here, my little pretty!”

[This was HYSTERICAL.]

McFerrin invited singers in the audience who knew the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria” to sing along. McFerrin sang every note of Bach’s rippling arpeggios for accompaniment, while several audience soloists sang Gounod’s wonderful melody over the top.
[This was absolutely extraordinary. One of the soloists was only a few rows in front of us.]

The Philly sang (yes, sang) the “William Tell Overture,” for encore.
{A hoot.]

Listen to CircleSong Six from the CircleSong album.

As an Amazon review says:
“Despite the undeniable uniqueness of his gift, Bobby’s music is always accessible and inviting. When he invites his fans to sing along, as he almost always does, few can resist. Inclusiveness, play, and the universality of voices raised together in song are at the heart of Bobby’s art. Bobby McFerrin was exposed to a multitude of musical genres during his youth–classical, R&B, jazz, pop and world musics. ‘When you grow up with that hodgepodge of music, it just comes out. It was like growing up in a multilingual house,’ he says. Bobby McFerrin continues to explore the musical universe, known and unknown.”

A Bobby McFerrin discography.

Bobby McFerrin turned 60 on March 11, 2010.

ROG

ABC Wednesday


Most Americans probably know Abraham Lincoln better than any other President. He’s the only one, other than John Kennedy, whose birth day (February 12, 1809) and date of death (April 15, 1865) I know by heart.

So why are historians endlessly fascinated by the 16th President to a degree that there are over 2500 biographies of the man? Maybe it’s because the simple narrative of Honest Abe, born in a log cabin, who saw slavery as an issue worth fighting a Civil War over is instinctively such an incomplete narrative.

2009 was the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, and there were a number of pieces on PBS (public broadcasting in the US) about the man shed new light on him for me, and possibly for you as well.

Bill Moyers discussed THE LINCOLN ANTHOLOGY: GREAT WRITERS ON HIS LIFE AND LEGACY FROM 1860 TO NOW is a collection of more than 90 authors from across the years who create a constantly evolving portrait of the man whose shadow keeps lengthening across our history.

Moyers also highlighted Lincoln through the eyes of critically acclaimed, veteran dance artist Bill T. Jones. “In a groundbreaking work of choreography called FONDLY DO WE HOPE…FERVENTLY DO WE PRAY, Jones reimagines a young Lincoln in his formative years through dance.”

Jones said: “Lincoln was, in some people’s mind, always Honest Abe on a pedestal, but Lincoln had a sexuality. Lincoln was a politician. In the debates, Lincoln is the one that said to Douglas that, no, I would never marry a black woman. But I don’t — just because I don’t want a black woman for a wife doesn’t mean I must have her for a slave. And he even said, I’m not sure if all — if blacks and whites are equal, you know. But he said, people have the right to certain liberties. They have certain rights because they are in America. He was a man of his era.”

Also, from a conversation with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.:

What made Lincoln such a unique president?

Lincoln had a tremendous capacity for personal growth – more than any other American President. He was essentially a man of his times, resolute in his belief in the inequality of the races. But within the cauldron of the Civil War, he began to see that there could not be a United States without freedom for the black man. He came to embrace blacks, particularly those that fought so valiantly for the Union, as fully deserving the basic human right of freedom. He was slow to the cause to be sure, but once he got there, he was unshakable. Now, we will never know how far he might have gone had he lived. That’s part of the mystique that still surrounds him: the question “what if?”

Why is Lincoln’s legacy so contested?

Because Lincoln is so closely identified with what it is to be American, everyone wants to claim him, to rewrite his story to satisfy their own particular needs. For my own people, it was important to imagine him as the Great Emancipator, the Moses who led us out of slavery. For others, it was Lincoln the humble man who rose to greatness, or Lincoln the great Commander, or Lincoln the martyr. Every generation since his death has conjured up their own Lincoln. There were many Lincolns — enough for people to love and hate.

That explanation of the third US President (of eight) to die in office, but but the first (of four) to be assassinated, resonates with me. We project onto Lincoln, who was only 56 when he died, who he was and who he might have become. This might explain the release just last month of the generally positively-reviewed novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. No, really.

Finally, this story retold in Living Water.

The Debt
When he was an attorney, Abraham Lincoln was once approached by a man who passionately insisted on bringing a suit for $2.50 against an impoverished debtor. Lincoln tried to discourage him, but the man was bent on revenge. When he saw that the man would not be put off, Lincoln agreed to take the case and asked for a legal fee of $10, which the plaintiff paid. Lincoln then gave half of the money to the defendant, who willingly confessed to the debt and paid the $2.50! But even more amazing than Lincoln’s ingenuous settlement was the fact that the irate plaintiff was satisfied with it.*

More Lincoln photos here.

ABC Wednesday
The largest of over 100 places in the US named Lincoln is in Nebraska.

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