Those Damn Lipton QUESTIONS

Gotta get rady for Mary and Rick’s weding at 10 this morning. Lydia was uncharacteristically awake in the middle of the night for a while. And, what the heck; after all, he turned 80 this month. Share, if you will.

James Lipton’s Ten Questions
Since I’m unlikely to appear on the show, here are the ten questions (compiled by Bernard Pivot) that James Lipton asks every guest on Inside the Actors Studio, along with my own responses.

1. What is your favorite word?
“Rendezvous.” I’m fond of words of French or Italian origin.

2. What is your least favorite word?

3. What turns you on?

4. What turns you off?
Hard-headed stupidity.

5. What is your favorite curse word?
It starts with an a, it has seven letters, we all have one, and my friend Karen says
it with such passion that it’s almost music.

6. What sound or noise do you love?
Actually, I like white noise- fans, certain vacuum cleaners, even. I’m thinking noise vs. music.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?
A jackhammer.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
It took me so long to figure THIS one out. I suppose law.

9. What profession would you not like to attempt?
Oh, so many. Medicine – don’t want to kill anyone.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“So you finally figured it out, eh?”

Hamlet, the Musical

I’ve been puzzling mightily over two musical choices. The first involves the tracks for Gordon’s mixed CD thing. When he announced it, I knew immediately the theme would be murder – it was near 9/11 at the time – but in what form?

My first thought was to show the range of murder from comedy to tragedy, but there simply wasn’t enough comedy: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Beatles), The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun (Julie Brown), Lizzie Borden (some folk duo). Then I thought to do that murder ballad thing I had thought of years ago, with Delia’s Gone (Johnny Cash), Pretty Polly (Judy Collins), any number of songs from Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads CD, and others. But then I got my disc from Lefty, which contained two of my choices: Down By the River (Neil Young), and Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix). OK, scratch that.

I’m now working on a new concept, but Gordon himself stole Somebody Got Murdered from me. What to do, what to do? Anyway, I THINK my burning issue is solved, but the discs probably won’t go out until the end of next week. Those not involved in the exchange can still get whatever homicidal package I put together.

The other musical topic is the fact that someone (to whom I owe a picture of myself, but I haven’t had a chance for my wife to take it; I haven’t forgotten) gave me a $25 iTunes card. While I know I could use it on a number of things, I’ve decided that I want to get songs of artists that are one- or two-hit wonders, for whom I don’t need their whole album. So far, I’ve selected:
But It’s All Right (J.J. Jackson), not, as I understand, the late original MTV VJ, but one of the few black artists on Warner/Reprise in the 1960s, along with Bill Cosby.
I Fought the Law (Bobby Fuller Four) in Gordon’s honor.
Expressway to Your Heart (Soul Survivors), with that insistent bass line. Maybe my sister owned the single.
And because I suppose every music-loving boomer is supposed to have it:
Incense and Peppermints (Strawberry Alarm Clock)

But what else? Here are some examples:
I Can Help (Billy Swan) – possibly the least well-known #1 of the era (1972), at least until ServiceStar used it in a commercial.
Why Can’t We Live Together (Timmy Thomas) – so of its period, and yet still relevant.
The Ballad of the Green Berets (S/Sgt. Barry Sadler) – not that I’d actually buy it.

As I pondered this aloud at work, my boss said, “Why don’t you ask the people reading your blog?” What a swell idea! What singles, or for that matter, tracks of albums where the album’s not all that hot, but has one killer cut (“killer cut”? – back to the murder theme?), do you think I should own? I have the Nuggets CD, so I have Wild Thing by the Troggs, e.g.

And while I’m thinking about it: iTunes does NOT have the 12″ (about six-minute)version of Paul Simon’s Boy in the Bubble. Nor does it appear on Simon’s box set, much to my annoyance. Anybody out there know where I can find it in a digital form? (I borrowed my friend Rocco’s vinyl, and put it on a cassette tape about 20 years ago.)
I mentioned Mario Puzo yesterday, and while looking for something completely different, came across this piece about Superman.

Roger Answers Your Question, Scott & Gordon

First up, Nigel’s proud father, Scott:

1. I asked you earlier in the baseball season who would be playing in and win the World Series. You answered the Mets would be the Tigers in 6. Do you still stand by this prediction? If not, then who?

I’ll stand by the Mets to win it all. The American League winner could be anyone. My father-in-law is a Twins fan. There are lots of people around here who are rooting for the Yankees to win the AL, and then lose to the Mets. But in a short series, anything can happen, including the Tigers winning.

2. If you could dine with one athlete, one politician, and one writer (all either dead or alive) who would they be and why?

I’ll pick all dead people on the theory that I could somehow still meet the live ones:
Athlete – Arthur Ashe. He was a pioneer who lived his life with dignity.
Politician- Thomas Jefferson. Maybe he’d give me the real scoop on Sally Hemings.
Writer- Mario Puzo. Just because I happened to see this name on my bookshelf. Also, because I’d be interested in how he researched “The Godfather”.

3. (Playing off Lefty’s first question) How far do you think we are away from having an African-American President?

It’d have to be someone not perceived either as an old-line liberal (Jesse Jackson) or a sellout (Condi Rice). Someone like Barack Obama. 2016. Maybe.

4. Do you think it’s right for the President (whether Dubya or any other after) to put their religious beliefs so in the forefront, considering that we have freedom of religion in this country?

Yes. I’m old enough to remember JFK having to say that he wouldn’t take orders from the Pope. That said, as a Christian myself, his brand of Christianity makes me very uncomfortable.

5. Do you know that I was going to do this same segment again on my web site because it was really fun the first time (after stealing your idea) but you beat me to it by a week or so?
No, but if you hum a few bars…
“I was gonna do
The same post as you.”
Is that how it goes?
And I see you did yesterday. I hope I found questions to make your life a living heck, at least.

And now, a fellow Piscean, Gordon:

1. Have you seen the remastered STAR TREK? And if so, what do you think?

No. And I think I’ve grown weary of re-release, remastered, release the original (Star Wars). Now, I’ll ask you, should I see the remastered STAR TREK? I know you wrote about the Trekkers’ complaints. It doesn’t BOTHER me, philosophically, as opposed to my feelings about colorization, e.g., I just think it’s a way to squeeze more dimes out of my pocket, and I’ll pass, thank you.

2. Does William Shatner really deserve to be a cult figure?

As opposed to whom? Sure, why not? I’m always reminded of the folks on Hollywood Squares, where I no longer knew WHY Charley Weaver was famous in the first place. Shatner’s avoided that with his three series plus the Star Trek movies. (Gee, a visual of him doing Rock-et Man suddenly flashed through my brain. Whoa!)

3. Mike Sterling: pro or con?

Well, when he’s behaving himself, he’s OK. But when he’s being a great big cheater pants, to the pits with him!

Roger Answers Your Questions, Eddie and Lefty

Our first contestant is Eddie, who not only asked a couple questions but promoted this Q&A.

1. How many CD’s does a person have to own before you, Roger, consider the amount to be excessive?

Well, it depends on the amount you play. Let’s say I have 1500 CDs. (OK, let’s.) If I play six albums five times a week, that’s 30 albums. Multiply that by 50 weeks, and 1500 is just the perfect number to be able to play your whole collection at least once a year. All of the discs get played, and none of them feel lonely and rejected. If one plays more music, one can own more music; if less, then less.

This is the reason, in large part, why I have a system of music playing that I know I’ve described in this blog, but cannot find. In brief, I play music around artists’ birthdays (Springsteen now, Emmylou in April), compilers’ birthdays (Motown compilations in November, in honor of Berry Gordy), events (movie soundtracks in February and March, in honor of the Academy Awards), etc. Which reminds me: when’s your birthday? I like to play your compilations around then.

This is not to say I’m limited to these times; when I get the new Dylan album for Christmas (someone pleeeeease tell my wife she’s getting this for me), I’ll get the sense that I’ll be playing it a lot in January and February, even if his birthday’s not until May.

Of course, you don’t HAVE to play them all annually. There are those albums you keep around for a few songs to put on compilation discs. (So why don’t I just put them all on mp3s? Because I’d miss the information on the package.)

So my answer, for me, is 3000, and I’m only (a little more than) halfway there.

2. What does a guy have to do to get your summer mix, considering he was theoretically part of the exchange?

Well, theoretically, I wrote you an e-mail on this very topic that said I would send you a copy when I finished the crime CD in Gordon’s exchange. But then, I got, curiously, a number of e-mails unsendable from two bloggers: my friend Lori in Florida, one of the few bloggers I actually know, and you. (Did you know I can see stuff such as on your page?)

So, for your trouble, my next package to you will contain the summer mix, the crime mix, and a mix that’s totally randomly selected from a pile I put together when I was only exchanging with Hemby. And not so incidentally, I received your package on Friday. Boy, I hope Lydia doesn’t turn out like the Lydia in that song.

Great groveling to Lefty, BTW.

And speaking of the southpaw:

1. Would you vote for a African-American Presidential candidate if they were conservative?

I suppose conservative in what way? Prior to 2003, I would have considered Colin Powell. He seemed to be a man of integrity. And truth is, maybe he bought that bill of goods about Iraq he spoke about at the UN in February 2003. Certainly, I appreciate his position on opposing torture.

Whereas his successor as Secretary of State, Condi Rice, I would NEVER vote for. At least Alan Keyes seems to have a consistent moral position, even if I oppose most of it.

2. Will we ever see a non-Christian presidential candidate?

Sure, he’ll be Jewish (and it’ll be a he) in 2016. Or 2020.

3. Can you remember that last time you heard a piece of music that made you nearly weep (for joy or sorrow)?

Sure, happens all the time.
Joy: the vocalization at the end of Surf’s Up by the Beach Boys
Sorrow: there’s a suspension at the end of a dramatic crescendo about 6 minutes into an 8 minute version of Barber’s Adagio that almost never fails to get to me. (Anyone want to explain this better than I just did, please feel free.)

BTW, re: your question about going blind or deaf, sometimes I can recreate in my own mind a piece of music. If I would still have that, that’d be great.

4. What was the worst vacation you ever went on?

Undoubtedly it was some damn camping trip my father foisted on us. One place, north of Binghamton on the way to Syracuse actually had laundry facilities, but it was so fly-infested that I ended up killing dozens, including – and this is true – seven with one blow.

5. What website could you not live without?

At work, I use the Census Bureau page a LOT at work.
Personally, right now, it’s my own page, or links thereon. What great insight has Gay Prof provided for us? What pop culture wisdom will Tom the Dog share? How’s Nigel?

6. What did you think of my Circle of Friends mix?

I liked it, especially that middle section with Duran Duran and the Hall & Oates cover and that song that swipes, among other things, the Miracles’ “Tears of a Clown”.

7. So is Bush dumb, ill-informed, greedy, crafty, or evil?

I DON’T KNOW. Maybe all of them. Surely, he’s crafty enough to have surrounded himself with people who could make him President. Early on in his administration, he was clearly ill-informed; you’ll recall during the 2000 campaign how little he knew of world affairs. I don’t care how many books he reads, but some of his comments in this area – I’m too lazy to look ’em up – sounded just dumb.

Evil. A serious word, that. But some of his non-response to the issue of torture as disingenuous at best. Did you see him interviewed by Matt Lauer this month? Something very disturbing about that, at least.

The Lydster, Part 30: Two and a Half

I had all of these grandiose ideas about a panoply of pictures of Lydia over the past 2.5 years, but I was having trouble with Blogger, which put the kibosh on that. The picture above, with my mother and Carol’s, was supposed to be used for Grandparents’ Day, but I forgot. And I did manage to get a couple old pics to post.

You know the physicians’ creed to do no harm. I’m pleased to note that Lydia has made it to 2 1/2 in one piece, because of the parenting skills of her mother, and in spite of the parenting skills of me, or so she’ll tell her therapist in 20 years.

O.K., that was unnecessarily self-effacing. I do have some skills. I can get her to squueze her medicine thingy into her nose, usually. I can get her to stop crying by doing something extraordinarily silly. (Don’t ask.)

I’ve been taking my bike on the bus when I take her to day care. What pleases (and frankly surprises) me, and the people in the bus, is that I’ll say to her, “Stay on the sidewalk until I put the bike on the bus” and she does, saying “Bike on bus and then get me”. Then I carry her onto the bus. Then I take her off the bus, ask her to stay on the sidewalk until the bike comes off, and she complies again.

Good news: Lydia has ONLY a peanut allergy. That’s good, because I pretty much knew that anyway, and that she DOESN’T have an allergy to anything else, according to the blood test, such as tree nuts, grasses, milk, cats, dogs, or any number of other things that might have affected her.

Lydia only a month ago used to say she was two, but now says she’s two and a half, something neither her mother or I taught her. I blame her day care.

I love her a lot. When I get home from work, she’ll quit what she’s doing (eating, playing) to greet me. She is a good hugger.

Well, enough of this saccharine stuff. More cynicism soon.

Lydia, Carol, and I are mentioned in this story in the Capitaland Quartly section of this past Sunday’s Times Union. The paper was going to get a picture, but the photographer’s schedule changed and we were unable to wait around.

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