“Summertime, the TV viewing is awful.
All my favorite shows are repeats or they’re gone.
The stuff they put on now should be declared unlawful.
So, it’s time to go out and play in the back lawn.”

George and Ira must be rolling over in their graves.

I was flicking through the channels the other morning and came across a televised broadcast of a radio interview of a guy talking about a book (talk about mixed media). The theme of the book was that parents of this generation are more likely to keep their kids inside than ever before (and the kids are more acclimated to the indoors, playing with computers, watching TV, and having play dates) than previous generations. A greater fear of strangers on the part of parents feeds into this as well. The question: how is that group of kids going to respond to needs to protect the (outside) environment when they grow up? The answer: I don’t know; as I said, I was just flicking through.

There is actually ONE summer show I should admit that Carol and I started watching a couple weeks ago. It’s called “The Scholar,” on Mondays at 8 p.m. (EDT) on ABC. The premise is that 10 high school seniors, five males and five females, are competing for a full-ride scholarship to the university of his or her choice. Like “The Apprentice”, the groups are divided into two teams who are assigned tasks to do in a limited amount of time. Unlike “The Apprentice”, no one gets “fired” or even “voted off the island.” The three best at the task are given a topic, such as African geography (from last week), and given three or four hours to study before being tested, spelling-bee style. The winner of that round gets a $50,000 scholarship and the right to compete for the full ride.

I suppose we enjoy it because these teens are so positive in wanting to make a difference in the world (being President, curing cancer). Their task last week involved helping a couple Boys/Girls Club-type centers. Among other criteria, they were judged on how much they engaged the kids they were helping in the process.

This week’s show involves putting together a jigsaw map of the U.S. states as the test. Naturally, I’ve only seen the last week’s previews (except for sports and news, my TV watching’s almost always on tape because of the child), but I’d have done really well on that test. I spent hours and hours playing with similar puzzles as a child. I recognized that Alabama and Mississippi were mirror images, from the way they both have too short a panhandle for the size of the state (cf. Florida or Oklahoma.) Vermont and New Hampshire, very different states politically, are also mirror images in jigsaw puzzles. The hardest states to place were Colorado and Wyoming, practically the same size (8th and 9th largest states, respectively) and shape.

I’m suddenly feeling very nostalgic. Guess what a little 15-month old I know will be getting in a couple years?


Probably NOT the new Bobby Zimmerman CD from Starbucks.

Library plates

As a librarian, I’m obliged to pass along the following press release, in case y’all want to run out and get one…

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles announced the availability of the new “Love Your Library” license plate at a press conference today. The plate features a library-related graphic and the tagline “READ LEARN EXPLORE.”

Renato Donato, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the NYS DMV; Carole Huxley, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Cultural Education; Assemblywoman Sandra Galef; and a representative of Senator Hugh Farley’s office. Assemblywoman Galef and Senator Farley sponsored the law creating the Love Your Library license plate.

The Love Your Library (LYL) license plate is available to anyone who has a passenger or commercial vehicle registered in New York State. The International Symbol of Access is available on both types of plates for those who qualify. When issued in the commercial class, the word COMMERCIAL will appear in the tagline. Proceeds from the plate’s annual fee will help support the NY State Library’s Statewide Summer Reading Program at public libraries across the state.

The NYSL’s Statewide Summer Reading Program keeps students Pre-K through 12 reading when school is not in session. Youngsters choose what they read and learn the joys of reading while building literacy skills.

Each year the NYSL works with public libraries and library systems to develop a theme and encourage youngsters to participate. This year’s program, “Tune In @Your Library,” was coordinated by Crystal Faris, Youth Services Manager, Nassau Library System. More than 1 million youngsters participated in 2004.

The LYL license plate is available from the NYS DMV, their Custom Plates Unit at 518-402-4838, and all Issuing Offices. Individuals may call the Custom Plates number to place an order using MasterCard, Visa, American Express or Discover Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The order forms can also be accessed on the NYSL’s web site or to order online, go here and click on the ‘Love Your Library’ plate under ‘Recently Released Plates.’

The initial fee for a plate with a number assigned by DMV is $43, with a $25 annual renewal fee. The initial fee for a plate personalized with your choice of two to six characters including spaces is $68, with a $50 annual renewal fee. The $25 annual fee will be deposited to the credit of the LYL Fund, which supports the Statewide Summer Reading Program.

For more information on the LYL fund, contact Janet M. Welch, State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries via phone at (518) 474-5930 or e-mail.

For more information on the New York State Library’s Statewide Summer Reading Program, go to the website and point to Statewide Summer Reading.

One of the nation’s leading research libraries, the New York State Library has served New Yorkers, state government and researchers from throughout the United States for more than 180 years. It is the largest state library in the nation and the only state library to qualify for membership in the Association of Research Libraries. The New York State Library is a program of the State Education Department.

The blogger CD exchange-ROG

Several months before I was involved with the bloggers exchange I mentioned a couple of days ago, I was participating on a one-on-one exchange with Fred Hembeck, my old compatriot from the FantaCo comic book days. Most of my earlier works were chronologically based, but as Fred was already doing more thematic pieces, I did likewise.

One of the topics I decided on was to get a song for every state in the country. I missed a few states, but I ended up putting together three discs of an “American travelogue.”

Meanwhile, Fred was involved with a bunch of folks, most of them interested in comic books, who did a bloggers’ exchange of mixed CDs, initiated by Chris “Lefty” Brown. As I wasn’t blogging at the time, I couldn’t participate. But now that I am posting fairly regularly, I got to give it a go in the second round with these very diverse folks (May 23).

I decided to use the first of my American Travelogue discs, but I made a few changes.

Let’s begin

US: I wanted to start and end with an “American” song. I started with “American Roulette” from Robbie Robertson’s first solo album, which starts off slowly but really rocks at the end. My old friend Karen has worked for record companies for over half her life, and she was trying to promote this album when it came out. She goes to one station trying to explain who Robertson WAS, “You know, The Band? Backing band for Dylan? The Last Waltz?” No hint of recognition from some 23-year-old program director who was making decisions about what got played on the air.

NY: “New York, New York” – Ryan Adams was an alt-country darling in 2001. Some critics indicate that he puts out too much mediocre stuff, so his double albums should be single discs. Remind me to look up “alt-country.”

NJ: “Atlantic City” – I wanted to NOT do Springsteen here; I half succeeded. It’s a Bruce song by post-Robertson The Band, a little more up-tempo than The Boss’s version, with a mandolin.

PA: “Allentown” – I expect to be pilloried by some bloggers for putting the very uncool Billy Joel on the disc, but sonically, it just works for me. I had put Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom,” but it didn’t fit.

MD: “Baltimore” – I’m sure I got Peter Case from Karen. It is one of those albums that I never remember to play, but the gravelly-voiced singer always satisfies when I do. I considered Vonda Shepherd’s “Maryland” here, but I was in a city groove.

DE: Couldn’t find anything in my collection for the First State. Don’t think “The White Cliffs of Dover” would count.

DC: “The Bourgeois Blues” – Folkways put out an album of covers of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly tunes. This song was written by the latter, and sung by Taj Mahal. Talks about black people not getting a break in our nation’s capital.

Heading South

VA: Some relative told me that “I Believe” was the “future of popular music.” So, sound unheard, I bought the Blessed Union of Souls album. I wouldn’t say it was “the future of popular music,” but “Sweet Virginia” works on this disc.

NC: “Take the Train to Charlotte” – There are a number of other NC songs, but this one was obvious for me, since my mom, sister Marcia, and niece Alex live there. From the Roots and Blues 109-song, box set, this tune is by Fiddlin’ John Carson, no relation to the late, late-night talk show host (I don’t think so, anyway.) This song is from c. 1930.

SC: “Darlington County” – talk about commercial! From Springsteen’s massive Born in the U.S.A. album. This was the toughest change because I replaced an obscure John Linnell song “South Carolina”, but again the sound was the determining factor.

GA: “Oh, Atlanta.” Love the chromatic scale ascent on this Alison Krauss tune. Chromatic scale? Play the scale MI up to DO, including the black keys, on a piano, staccato (short notes), then imagine that on guitar leading to Alison’s sweet voice.

FL: “Gator on the Lawn.” At 1:13, the shortest song, also the loudest. It has a really rockabilly feel. From the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ box set.


PR: I DUMPED “America” from West Side Story from this version. I LOVE West Side Story, I ADORE West Side Story, but I didn’t think it worked here.

AL: “Alabamy Home” by the Gotham Stompers, an instrumental from “1930s Jazz- The Small Combos.”

MS: “The Jazz Fiddler” by the Mississippi Sheiks, also from “Roots & Blues”.

LA: “Down at the Twist & Shout” was performed by Mary Chapin Carpenter at a Super Bowl, and I have the live recording, but this is the studio version.

TX: I love Lyle Lovett. I love his backing vocalists, Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens. They really help make “That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas)” swing.

US: This CD ends with a Garth Brooks song “American Honky Tonk Bar Association.” It is a flat-out country song for the “hardhat, gunrack, achin’-back, overtaxed, flag-wavin’, fun-lovin’ crowd.” I had, in the previous incarnation, put this song before Lyle.

So, when I see reviews of this album on other blogs and I link to them, you’ll know what the heck they are talking about. Not so incidentally, look at Lefty’s page for June 28 for what other bloggers said about their own and each others’ discs.

The Undesirable Demographic

I am pretty OK being over 50. Yes, I am. On the other hand, I don’t need constant reminders.

So, the umpteenth mailing from AARP and its various services gets tiresome. However, while many marketers have abandoned me because I’m no longer in the “desirable” 18-49 range (and given the junk snail- and e-mail I get, that’s not all bad), there are some who have figured out that people MY age actually spend money!

So, I am trying to figure out how I feel about a recent e-mail I got.
This is a complimentary issue of Advising Boomer’s e-News. You are not subscribed. To become a FREE subscriber and guarantee your continued delivery, send a blank email to:

I’m always suspicious of sources that that say things like, “The Financial and Lifestyle Resource for Trusted Advisors”. Indeed, anything with the word “lifestyle” sets my teeth on edge.
The sample articles were about
“A Boomer Look at Marriage”: interesting
“Destiny: Americans Save Little For Retirement Health Expenses”: stop depressing me
“Bush To Keep Talking About Social Security”: MEGO

Well, I guess NOT.

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