Bob & Dick


I’ve noticed quite often that when someone, say, at church dies, who I might have known for a couple decades, they always have a back story revealed at the funeral I would not have imagined. Whereas the stories of public figures – actors, singers, and the like – are usually well-known to me.

So I was surprised that I was surprised to learn much more about Robert Culp, the actor who died last week at the age of 79. Not only was he a performer but also a writer and sometime director, often of the series on which he was performing at the time.

I knew Culp him best as Kelly Robinson on I Spy, partnering up with Bill Cosby’s Alexander Scott. Cosby was a well-regarded young comedian, but known for his stand-up routines, not dramatic performances. Yet Sheldon Leonard gave him the job, Cosby got three Emmys in three years, and Cosby and Culp became good friends.

But what struck me when I get to Gordon’s very nice obit of Robert Culp was this book cover of the Whitman novelization Message from Moscow by Brandon Keith (1966). I read this story at least a few times in my early teen years, but oddly I don’t remember that much about it, except for one thing: the villain was quite literally “hoist by his own petard.”

I Spy: I watched that show religiously for the three years it was on. I venture to say 90% of black Americans watched it, just like most black folk watched Nat King Cole’s short-lived variety show a decade earlier. There just weren’t that many opportunities to see people of color on the screen – and when you did, they were often in minor, often demeaning roles. I appreciated how both Culp and Cosby demanded that Cosby’s race not be a centerpiece of the show. I may have to go to HULU and catch an episode or two to see if it is as good as I remember it.
***
I should mention the passing of Dick Giordano, whose ascension to the position of DC Comics’ editor-in-chief corresponded to me starting at the comic book store FantaCo, in 1980. I wasn’t a big DC fan, but I did find myself picking up more of their books in the decade or so he was in charge far more than in the period before. I have a vague recollection meeting him once very briefly at the San Diego Comic Con, and he didn’t SEEM like a corporate stuffed shirt. I suspect that was because, most of all, he was an artist, specifically a quality inker, so he was inclined to try to undersand and appreciate the artist POV. A much better remembrance here.
***
Oh, and this is coincidentally related. My buddy Steve Bissette has been musing at length about Forgotten Comics Wars of the mid to late 1980s. Subtitled How Angry Freelancers Made It Possible for A New Mainstream Comics Era (Including Vertigo) to Exist, it is a very interesting take on an era when I was actively involved in the retail comics biz. I was going to compile the 12 parts once they were all released, but Mark Evanier, bless him, beat me to it. And ME notes: “That last installment has bittersweet meaning because of the recent passing of Dick Giordano, who was in the midst of the controversy.”
ROG

K is for Kindergarten


When my wife and I went to kindergarten in the 1950s (me) and 1960s (her), it was designed to acclimate us to going to school, learning how to be away from home, and an attempt to teach rudimentary things such as learning songs and telling time.

I still remember the Roman-numeraled clocks in my classroom, and the yellow rug that I, and a year later, my sister Leslie used to take our naps. In fact, I specifically remember once waking up at 11:45 a.m. and realizing that no one was there. I actually fell asleep at naptime, and Miss Cady let me sleep, knowing I would just get up and go home afterward. (If a teacher did that now, he or she almost certainly would be fired.)

The book pictured in this post above was/is actually a gift to my wife Carol from her family just before she actually went to kindergarten. The lead character in the book is coincidentally also named Carol.

But now my daughter is now in kindergarten, and it is far from the “children’s garden” its name suggests. In the United States, it has evolved from that “transition from home to the commencement of more formal schooling” to the “first year of compulsory education.” Where once kindergarten was where kids learned skills through creative play and social interaction,” in half-day increments, it is now often the full-day entry level to the standard curriculum.

I mean, my daughter has HOMEWORK! Not just learn the numbers and letters, but adding numbers and combining letters to make words. It’s far more rigorous than her mother and I experienced in the day.

There is this 87-page PDF from early in this century called Original Purpose and Development of Kindergarten in California, which addresses these issues

…kindergarten, inspired by precursor early childhood education concepts, included children from ages six and seven to as young as two and three. It sought to lead children gently “over the threshold of learning by the seductive charm of music, flowers, games, pictures, and curious objects.” Later, kindergarten was integrated into the first to 12th grade system, gradually and subtly changing its focus to emphasize emergent literacy and early academic skills. An apparent consequence was that the minimum entry age was raised several times to its current level. This philosophical divergence is still not fully resolved.

The daughter got a note home from school at the end of the semester, noting that she missed nine days from school, mostly for illness. We were informed that she won’t pass into 1st grade if she misses more than 28 days for the year. Could she “fail” kindergarten? She IS graded on concepts such as “identifies sight words in text”, “interprets data from graphs”, and “communicates ideas, feelings and elements of design,” and is doing well.

This is NOT her parents’ kindergarten.

I’d write more, but I have to go help her with her homework now.


ABC Wednesday
ROG

Eight Ten Meme

Sunday Stealing, yet again:

TEN TO START.

1. Are you single?
No, married.

2. Are you happy?
Sometimes. Not as much as I could be.

3. Are you bored?
Almost never. In fact, if I have something to read, I’m never bored, even waiting in line.

4. Are you naked?
Not currently.

5. Are you a blonde?
Actually I was for a very brief time when I was 2 or 3.

6. Are you moody?
Occasionally. OK, maybe more than occasionally. But usually I hide it well.

7. Are you a lover/hater?
Try to be/try not to be; doesn’t always work.

8. Are you hot/cold?
I tend to be too cold a lot more than I’m too hot.

9. Are you Irish?
I don’t know. Quite possibly.

10. Are you Asian?
Probably not.

TEN FACTS.

1. Name:
Roger Owen Green.

2. Nicknames:
Rog; beyond that, I tend to avoid them, or actively reject them outright.

3. Birth mark:
None that come to mind.

4. Hair color:
Gray.

5. Natural hair color:
Gray; I’m just not that vain about it.

6. Eye color:
Brown. Or bloodshot.

7. Height:
5’11 5/8″

8. Facebook Mood:
Never set it. Don’t even know where to set it. Don’t care.

9. Favorite color:
Blue. Or green.

10. One Place to Visit:
Paris, France. As opposed to Paris, Texas.

TEN THINGS ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE.

1. Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. Lust, yes.

2. Do you believe in soul mates?
You mean the notion that there is just one person out there among the seven billion for you? No.

3. Ah, a missing question, where we get to speculate on what was so personal that the blogger declined to note it.

4. Have you ever been hurt emotionally?
Oh, goodness yes.

5. Have you ever broken someone’s heart?
Undoubtedly. That Neil Young song is running through my mind, only love can break your heart.

6. Have you ever been cheated on?
Yes.

7. Have you ever liked someone and not told them?
More than once.

8. Are you afraid of commitment?
All things considered, I’m better in a committed relationship than not.

9. Who was the last person you hugged?
My daughter.

10. Who was the last person you kissed?
My wife.

TEN THIS OR THAT.

1. Love or lust?
Yes.

2. Ah, another missing question.

3. Cats or dogs?
Cats. My daughter is wary of dogs. Actually she’s wary of cats too, but not as much.

4. A few best friends or many regular friends?
A few best friends.

5. Television or internet?
It was TV for SO long, but I find I watch less and less.

6. Chinese Or Indian?
This is in reference to? If it’s food, Indian.

7. Wild night out or romantic night in?
Romantic. I just never was that wild.

8. Money or Happiness?
Money won’t make you happy. Happiness.

9. Night or day?
Day, about 10:15 a.m. Hey, Joe Jackson’s album Night and Day I haven’t listened to for a while.

10. MSN or phone?
Phone.

TEN HAVE YOU EVER.

1. Been caught sneaking out?
No, but I was caught sneaking back in.

2. Been skinny dipping?
Yes. This question seems to show up in these things. A lot.

3. Stolen?
Gum when I was seven.

4. Bungee jumped?
No.

5. Lied to someone you liked?
In all likelihood. Wait – yes.

6. Finished an entire jaw breaker?
Have no idea.

8. Wanted an ex bf/gf back?
Actually have dated exes.

9. Cried because you lost a pet?
Yes. My cat Tiger got run over by a car when I was about 12.

10. Wanted to disappear?
And sometimes did.

TEN PREFERENCES IN A PARTNER.

1. Smile or eyes?
Eyes.

2. Light or dark hair?
Dark.

3. Hugs or kisses?
Hugs. well, if she’s a really GOOD kisser…

4. Shorter or taller?
Shorter or the same.

5. Intelligence or attraction?
If not intelligent, not all that attractive.

6. Romantic or spontaneous?
Spontaneously romantic.

7. Funny or serious?
Meh. Both, at the right time.

8. Older or Younger?
Doesn’t matter.

9. Outgoing or quiet?
Mix.

10. Sweet or Bad Ass?
Sweet.

TEN HAVE YOU’S.

1. Ever performed in front of a large crowd?
Define perform and large. Maybe 400 singing. About 700 acting. About 3000 when I was on JEOPARDY!

2. Ever done drugs?
Sure. I’m weaning myself from caffeine currently.

3. Ever been pregnant?
I never was one of those guys who said “we’re pregnant”; that stuff bugs me. So, no.

5. Ever been on a cheer leading team?
No.

6. Ever Been on a dance team?
No, though I have danced n a performance a couple times.

7. Ever been on a sports team?
No, tried out, didn’t make it.

8. Ever been in a drama play/production?
Several in high school, usually in small roles. Only three since then.

9. Ever owned a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Escalade, Hummer or Bentley?
No, and wouldn’t own a Hummer.

10. Ever been in a rap video?
What? No.

TEN LASTS.

1. Last phone call you made:
To my wife.

2. Last person you hung out with:
My wife and daughter.

3. Last time a question was dropped.

4. Last time you worked:
Friday.

5. Last person you tackled:
My daughter.

6. Last person you IM’d:
n/a

8. Last person(s) you went to the movies with:
My wife

9. Last thing you missed:
A bus.

10. Last thing you ate:
A banana.

ROG

Was Jesus Homely?

There was a piece in a Times Union blog written by high school student Allison Moss a few weeks ago, addressing the question “Was Jesus Gay?” This was based on something singer Elton John reportedly said. Well, Jesus Christ Superstar suggests that he (or He) was bisexual. Of course, as much as I adore JCSS, I never considered it theologically authoritative.

It was that question that prompted me to revisit the notion, “Was Jesus homely?” As I understand it, we really have no idea about the physical characteristics of Jesus. He was not depicted in art until decades after walking the earth. Looking in the Bible, there appears to be no description whatsoever, except an interpretation of Isaiah 53:2, which says, “He has no form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him”. If this is in fact referring to Jesus, and the subsequent verses of the chapter are used in Messiah (Handel) as Jesus verses, then this Jesus fellow was rather plain-looking.

There’s a lengthy Wikipedia description about the depictions of Jesus, which I don’t treat as gospel either, but it IS interesting. My favorite section is on this point: “But when the pagan Celsus ridiculed the Christian religion for having an ugly God in about 180, Origen (d. 248) cited Psalm 45:3: ‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, mighty one, with thy beauty and fairness.’ Later the emphasis of leading Christian thinkers changed; Jerome (d. 420) and Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) argued that Jesus must have been ideally beautiful in face and body. For Augustine he was ‘beautiful as a child, beautiful on earth, beautiful in heaven’.” So humans, using their own sensibilities, created the appearance of Jesus in their own image of what he (or He) must have looked like. The beard and long hair was copped, ironically, from the image of competing “gods”.

In other words, early depictions of Jesus suggested that He was plain-looking, but other religionists stuck their thumbs in their ears, wiggled their fingers, and chimed in a sing-songy voice, “Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah, nyah, nyah, your God is ugly!” So Christians made THEIR manifestation of God look more like OTHER people’s manifestation of the gods. Given the Biblical directive way back in Genesis that God made humans in God’s image, it seems as though people feel compelled to return the favor.

Moreover, He was probably short. How else does he evade the madding crowd that wants to throw him over a cliff?

So eventually, Jesus started looking, more or less, like this guy:

Theologically, it would make more sense to me if Jesus was less than handsome. It is now well documented that tall, handsome people fare better in social interactions than others. What would be the theological point if Jesus were physically appealing? One might ask if people were following Him for shallow reasons based on His countenance rather than for his message.

When images of “black Jesus” became popular four or five decades ago in some households, people were shocked, SHOCKED. “THAT’S not what Jesus looked like!” Maybe, maybe not. He probably looked more like that than this, given the geography:

I think this Time magazine cover is a fairly accurate representation of what Christ, and indeed Christianity, looks like; it depends on the point of view.

***
Yes, this is a rewrite of a post from six months ago. It just felt like a Holy week piece.

ROG

Changing the Rules in Sports QUESTION

The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is thinking about expanding from 65 teams to 96, which I happen to think is a terrible idea. The Wall Street Journal wrote a snarky article, Hey NCAA, No Need to Stop at 96 Possibly Expanding the Tournament by Nearly 50% Is a Cop-Out; Let’s Let Everyone in,where they sarcastically suggest inviting “every one of the current 347 NCAA Division I schools. That’s right: The Magnificent Three Hundred and Forty Seven. Catchy, right? It just rolls off the tongue…One school will be crowned
the champion, but everyone will be considered a ‘winner.’ The idea is to replicate the drama, energy and positivity of a third-grade gingerbread-house-making contest.”

Meanwhile, the NFL has changed the rules regarding ties in the playoffs, which seems reasonably fair.

So what rule changes in sports would you like to see? How about:

Electronically-called balls and strikes in baseball?
Going back to the 6.0 scale in figure skating?
Actually calling traveling in NBA games?
(I’d say no, no and yes.)

ROG