The Lydster, Part 72: Lydia is Six


Here are some things about the daughter that I think I’ll remember forever, but fear that I will forget:

*She’s 50 inches tall, weighs at least 65 pounds. I can still lift her, though I prefer the over-the-shoulder method of transportation.
*She’s in kindergarten, going to school with the wife.
*I make her lunch four days out of five. She eats a cheese sandwich (sharp cheddar) on whole wheat bread, with the crust cut off. Every day. That’s what she wants. She’ll get carrot or celery sticks, fruit cup or apple sauce, pretzels or fig bars, and a juice.
*She has developed a bit of sweet tooth, but she’ll eat yogurt as often as ice cream, and seem to find them each acceptable.
*Her favorite cereal used to be Cheerios, but when she tried Froot Loops when we visited my mom in Charlotte in June, that was the only cereal she’d eat for about six months. Lately, she’s really into Life cereal.

*She was the fastest girl in her class this fall in the Apple Run, by a considerable margin.
*She dances to EVERYTHING – TV theme music, especially the outro. She’s taking ballet once a week, and she likes to choreograph her parents.
*Her favorite show is Martha Speaks (PBS), about a talking dog, though she’ll watch her Nick Jr. favorites such as the Backyardigans, Ni-hao Kailan, the Fresh Beat Band and the Wonder Pets.
*She hates it when I pretend I don’t remember her name, or make a variation on it. Yet she often makes a variation of MY name or title, and THAT’S funny.
*She doesn’t seem to have a single favorite book. Carol’s reading the Little House on the Prairie books to her, while she prefers that I read the Dr. Seuss books or other texts. She can read Green eggs and Ham herself; we tend to take turns reading it.
*She’s somewhat less shy than she was last year.
*She still covers her ears when she sees conflict on a TV show or movie.
*She’s lost at least seven teeth; I believe she ahead of schedule. And she’s gotten five back, four lower and one upper.
*Usually, I dress her in the morning and put on her pajamas at night, except Thursday night, which is my choir night.
*She’s increasingly more helpful, putting away her clean clothes in the drawer. she also has this system to pick out her clothes for the week.
*We bought her trucks and blocks and other gender-neutral items, and she still is more a girly-girl than I would have anticipated. She likes pink and purple. Someone in Salon was fretting about her girly-girl daughter, who to be fair is even moreso than Lydia. Lydia will wear pants.
But I guess I don’t fret about it. If she wants a Disney princess tent and sleeping bag for Christmas, I don’t object. I may cringe a little on the inside, but she is who she is.

I love the girl.

ROG

March Ramblin’


Anyone out there on Posterous? I had never heard of it until very recently. I posted something the other day via e-mail, because I could. One can also post a variety of other ways. I’m not seeing the need, but then again, I didn’t get Twitter or Facebook initially either.
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It’s not coming out until May 25, but I’m looking forward to Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook by Bettye LaVette. This great singer who was in the Albany area recently – no, didn’t get a chance to see her – is covering a bunch of songs, many that I know well. It has a definite Beatles tinge.
1. The Word (Beatles)
2. No Time To Live (Traffic)
3. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Animals)
4. All My Love (Led Zeppelin)
5. Isn’t It A Pity (George Harrison)
6. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
7. It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
8. Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)
9. Salt Of The Earth (Rolling Stones)
10. Nights In White Satin (Moody Blues)
11. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Derek & the Dominoes)
12. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John)
13. Love Reign O’er Me (The Who – live from the Kennedy Center Honors)

That last song, sung to Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry, seemed to have them in tears, especially Townsend.

Check out Bettye’s website for her performances with Paul & Ringo, with Jon Bon Jovi, and her stellar Who cover.
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SamuraiFrog informs me that there is a Soul Train YouTube channel, which is very cool.
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I was listening to Les Brown this week. He had a big hit in the 1940s with Bizet Has His Day, an adaptation of Farandole from L’Arlésienne.
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Ever get a song stuck in your head, but you CAN’T REMEMBER the title? This happened to me the other day. I called up a librarian friend who wasn’t working that day. Then I called a violinist friend of mine; she knew the song I hummed, but couldn’t remember what it was either. She called her sister, and she identified it as In The Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, music by Edvard Grieg. Don’t think you know this piece? I’ll bet you do, especially if you play any of the three dozen versions from Duke Ellington, Erasure and ELO to Rick Wakeman and the Who. I’m rather partial to the ska version. Somehow, I have it in my mind that this music also inspired the Sugar Crisp commercial theme.
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As a reaction to the Tea Baggers, there is now a Coffee Party. I’m only slightly conflicted in that I really like tea and really don’t like coffee.
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Have I mentioned lately that I really love Betty White? I’ll even record Saturday Night Live on May 8, and I only watched it in 2008 for “Sarah Palin”.
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The greatest 9,331 movies of all time.
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Is my cellphone frying my brain?
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Don’t know why I do that March Madness thing. This year’s results have been worse than ever, thanks to the upsets. Yet I can still win.

For the games today and tomorrow:
I picked: Kansas over Michigan State.
Who’s actually playing: Northern Iowa and Michigan State.
I’m rooting for: Northern Iowa. Their colors are purple and gold, just like my graduate school alma mater. What the heck; I hope they get to the Final Four. Go Panthers!

I picked: Georgetown over Ohio State.
Who’s actually playing: Tennessee and Ohio State.
I’m rooting for: Tennessee. The leader in our group picked Ohio State to win the whole thing.

I picked: Syracuse over UTEP
Who’s actually playing: Syracuse and Butler.
I’m rooting for: Syracuse, who I have going to the Final Four.

I picked: Pittsburgh over Kansas State.
Who’s actually playing: Xavier and Kansas State.
I’m rooting for: Xavier.

I picked: Baylor over Villanova.
Who’s actually playing: Baylor and St. Mary’s.
I’m rooting for: Baylor, who I have in the Final Four.

I picked Louisville over Siena.
Who’s actually playing: Duke and Purdue (yikes).
I’m rooting for: Purdue. Actually, I’m rooting against Duke every round.

I picked: West Virginia over New Mexico
Who’s actually playing: West Virginia and Washington.
I’m rooting for: West Virginia, who I have winning the tournament over (oops) Kansas.

I picked: Kentucky over Cornell.
Who’s actually playing: Kentucky and Cornell!
I’m rooting for: Kentucky on my sheet, the upstate New York team in my heart.

ROG

VIDEO REVIEW: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs


Here’s an interesting experiment; go with your spouse and child to an elementary school gym, along with four dozen other elementary school kids and their parents to see a 2-D version of a 3-D movie based on a 30-page book. That’s what we did a couple Friday nights ago as we viewed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

I had no preconceived notions about this film. I hadn’t read the book, first published in 1978, written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. In fact I never even heard of it until the film was being promoted.

This iteration tells the story of Flint Lockwood, science nerd, whose mother (Lauren Graham) believes he’ll be someone special; she dies early on, and his monosyllabic, unibrow fisherman-father (James Caan) believes in more practical efforts, wanting his son (Bill Hader) to work at the sardine store with him. Everyone on the island of Swallow Falls eats sardines.

Flint is tortured by an annoying character, Baby Brent (Andy Samburg), who was famous as the Gerber baby, and keeps milking his fame. (Independently, my wife and I thought he was very much like the character in the Back to the Future movies who kept harassing Marty McFly’s father.)

Flint, undeterred from his dream, manages to invent a machine that converts water into food. Needing to hide his creativity from the local policeman (Mr. T), he accidentally launches it into the atmosphere. Instead of rain, food of every sort starts falling from the sky. This phenomenon inspires a television station to send a weather reporter trainee (Anna Faris) to cover the phenomenon.

I laughed out loud several times in the first half of the movie at lines that probably went right over the heads of the purported target audience. At least once, I swear I was the ONLY person laughing.

At some point, the movie becomes some illustrated cross between the movies Twister (which I saw) and 2012 (which I did not). This part was less interesting to me, though not without its charms, and frightened the daughter some to boot.

Still, I enjoyed the intelligently-made film overall, and it reviewed well enough. Within the film of writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were none-too-subtle digs at the food industry (processed foods with no connection to the source, a la Fast Food Nation), gluttony (see also: the latter part of WALL-E), environmental destruction, and sexism in the entertainment industry.

I finally got around to reading the book this week, and while there were nods to the source material (food as rafts, yellow Jell-O, and of course a spaghetti storm), the movie is a whole ‘nother animal altogether. Friends of friends of mine who are devotees of the book often HATE the movie because it’s not the book; I think the movie should be appreciated on the merits of what’s on the screen, NOT based on how it is or is not true to the source material.
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The movie trailer.

ROG

J is for JEOPARDY!


For reasons I will explain later, this is my favorite Final JEOPARDY! answer- the category is SISTER CITIES: San Francisco, California is a sister city to this one in Italy.

I started watching the game show JEOPARDY! fairly early on. It started in 1964 as a noontime show on NBC-TV. Art Fleming was the host; you can see some of his 1970s work here. I would stop at the home of my maternal grandmother and great aunt Deana; Deana and I would watch the show while we ate lunch, which grandma Williams usually prepared, and then I would return to school. The show lasted for 11 years, and I probably watched it for the first four regularly, until I went to high school, and again as often as possible once I got to college in 1971.

It is the Fleming version of the show that shows up in the film Airplane 2 (about the only original bit in that movie sequel), and in the “Weird Al” Yankovic video I Lost on Jeopardy.

Then, after a short-lived version in 1978, JEOPARDY! returned in syndicated (non-network) television in 1984 with Alex Trebek as host. I recognized Trebek from a game called High Rollers, which involved answering a couple questions then using these oversized pair of dice.

The other thing that was different from the original game, is that the values of clues had increased tenfold, from $10-$50 in JEOPARDY! (and twice that in Double JEOPARDY!) to $100-$500 in JEOPARDY! (The values doubled in the beginning of Season 19, in the fall of 2002, to $200-$1000 in JEOPARDY!) Not incidentally, in the current game, “the minimum wager on a Daily Double is $5, which was half the smallest clue value on the original version of Jeopardy! that premiered in 1964 with Art Fleming as host.”

I always love the story about the creation of JEOPARDY! After the game show scandals of the 1950s, where certain players were leaked the answers, rigging the results, the late entertainer Merv Griffin was having a meal with his then-wife. He was musing about how he could put together a show in that atmosphere of distrust. She suggested giving the contestants the answers. He said something equivalent to “Are you crazy? That’s been the problem!” She responded, “5280”; he said, “What is the number of feet in a mile?” The ah-ha moment arrived.

Merv Griffin also wrote the Think Music that plays for thirty seconds while the contestants are writing down their Final JEOPARDY! responses.

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Oh, that question at the top: What I loved about it is that, obviously, the JEOPARDY! folks wouldn’t expect you to KNOW San Francisco’s Italian sister city. So there must be some linkage between SF and one city in Italy. And I figured it out. Any guesses?
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One of the things people occasionally ask me when they try out for the game show JEOPARDY! is what sources they should use. Sure, there’s the official JEOPARDY! site. But THE most valuable tool, I think, is the JEOPARDY! archive, specifically the help function.

Some intrepid JEOPARDY! fans have gotten together to archive almost every show in the past 13 years, and have captured some earlier episodes as well. If one can’t watch the show, then reading the answers and questions will help prepare you for playing. There is also information about wagering, a LOT of info I think, other than general knowledge, waging is the most important aspect in the game. The site even describes the episode on the TV show Cheers when postman Cliff Clavin was on JEOPARDY!, had an insurmountable lead and still managed to lose.

Karl Coryat, a two-day champion back in 1996, has some good tips for what to study: “…there are a few things you absolutely must know. These are, in order of importance: State and world capitals; U.S. presidents (order, years of office, and general biographies); state nicknames; and Shakespeare’s plays, including basic plot lines and major characters.” I might have put Presidents first, but I don’t disagree with his general premise.

“Prior to a rule change that went into effect at the beginning of the 20th Season [2003-2004], a champion could win a maximum of 5 games, whereupon he/she would retire and later return for the next Tournament of Champions.” It was the rule change that allowed Ken Jennings to win 74 games in a row. It was great for Jennings, but I’m still not convinced it was great for JEOPARDY! The Tournament that year, instead of having a bunch of 5-time champions, and maybe one or two 4-timers, actually had a 3-day champ, diluting the process.

One variation on JEOPARDY! you may or may not remember was called Rock & Roll Jeopardy. It ran from 1998 to 2001 on VH-1 and was hosted by Jeff Probst, who would later host a reality show called Survivor. I thought it was a lesser program, in large part because, for most of its run, one played for “points” rather than dollars, with the person with the most points getting $5,000.

You can read about my JEOPARDY appearances here; the Boston shows in 1998 were the first non-tournament games ever played outside the Los Angeles-area studio. I only discovered recently that I had the second highest one-game dollar amount in the 1998-1999 season.

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The question: What is Assisi? San Francisco is named for Saint Francis of Assisi.


ABC Wednesday


ROG

Judd’s Merged Meme

Sunday Stealing again

1. What were doing 10 years ago?

In the process of buying the home we now live in; the closing was May 8.

2. Five snacks that you enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world

Banana splits
Oatmeal-raisin cookies
Strawberry milk shakes, the real kind, not the McDonald’s kind
Carrot cake
Apple pie with vanilla ice cream

3. Five things you would do if you were a billionaire:

Pay off the mortgages for my mother, sister and brothers-in-law. Oh yeah, and ours.
Buy a building for the local food pantry.
Keep open the local YMCA that’s closing on March 31.
Give $1000 each, maybe to a whole bunch of arts/music related entities.
I suppose I’d buy a house with an in-house theater, although renting out the local theater from time to time seems just so much more fun!

4. Three of your habits:

Overanalyzing
Avoiding talks about money; they tend to give me a headache
Blogging

5. Five jobs that you’ve have had:

Janitor (twice)
Bookkeeper/operator of an Artisans arcade
Manager of a comic book store
Customer service representative for an evil health insurance company
Ticket seller for college concerts

6. Five places that you’ve lived:

Binghamton, NY
Kingston, NY
New Paltz, NY
Jamaica (Queens), NY
Charlotte, NC

7. Five things that you did yesterday:

Went to church
Worked on my blog
Watched taped television news
Worked on the daughter’s homework
Made the daughter’s lunch for today

8. Five people you would want to get to know more about:

Bill Moyers
Joel Whitburn
Miriam Makeba
Peter Gomes
Jesus – especially that 18-year gap between hanging out at the temple when he was 12 and the beginning of his ministry

9. Abortion: for or against it?

I seriously doubt that most people are FOR abortion. I believe it was one of the Clintons who said “safe, legal and rare.”

10. Do you think the world would fail with a female president?

Do you think the world isn’t failing already? The number of female heads of state in other countries makes the dearth in the United States all the more embarrassing.

11. Do you believe in the death penalty?

No. Besides the inequity of its application by race and class, and the very real probability that innocent people have been executed in this country, there’s another reason. It’s Biblical interpretation that my Jehovah’s Witness buddy talks about. There’s a commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” How is the state killing, and on my behalf, no less, acceptable?

12. Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already?

Taxed and regulated, yes.

13. Are you for or against premarital sex?

I’m in favor of consenting adults doing what they want.

14. Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized?

Yes. I may have mentioned this recently.

15. Do you think it’s wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the USA?

I think it’s more wrong that over the centuries, the US immigration policy has been so arbitrary, discriminating against certain ethnic groups. Besides, depending on the version of history you read, who are the real illegals?

16. Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen?

Probably. I mean, I drank when I was 18. The prohibition doesn’t work, a number of college presidents suggest. In college, you have two different classes of people, and it’s darn easy for a senior to buy a sophomore illegal booze. Better to have supervised settings.

17. Should the war in Iraq be called off?

The U.S. participation in the war in Iraq, at this point, will end sooner rather than later.

18. Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?

No, I don’t. It happens anyway, you know. Doctors giving massive doses of morphine for “pain management.” I’d rather it be above board and open, in a medical context.

19. Do you believe in spanking your children?

My father spanked us. My sisters and I have had a number of conversations about what it was we did to warrant it; we have no idea. (Except once.) It made us fearful, but it didn’t make us better. So, generally not.

20. Do you worry that others will judge you from reading some of your answers?

That assumes 1) anyone actually reads what I say and 2) anyone cares. If so, no I don’t worry. To quote the great philosopher Popeye: “I yam what I yam.”

ROG