June Ramblin’

From the Monty Python movie “Life of Brian”, What have the Romans ever done for us?

Just a reminder that you have only three more full days to enter my giveaway. Rules are on the sidebar, but basically, from now through July 3 at 11:59 EDT, everytime you comment to a post, assuming you haven’t commented already to that specific piece, gives you a chance at some prizes, including a complete DVD box set of The Dick van Dyke Show and a Michael Jackson greatest hits CD.
Speaking of Michael Jackson: in honor of the anniversary of his death this past week, the full-length video of Thriller, performed with Legos.
I KNEW there was a way to post something on Twitter and have it show up on Facebook, but couldn’t suss out the instructions. This really helped me. And, in fact, it was one of my Facebook friends who provided the link.
Author Rebecca Skloot has interesting info about her best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on her website, including audio, video and an excerpt. Continue reading “June Ramblin’”

X is for Xenophobia

How do you feel about your own racism and xenophobia? Are you confident enough to declare “I’m not racist”?

So I was looking up xenophobia in the Wikipedia, which lists this definition:
Xenophobia is the uncontrollable fear of foreigners. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “stranger,” “foreigner” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.” Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an “uncritical exaltation of another culture” in which a culture is ascribed “an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality”…

A xenophobic person has to genuinely think or believe at some level that the target is in fact a foreigner. This arguably separates xenophobia from racism and ordinary prejudice in that someone of a different race does not necessarily have to be of a different nationality. In various contexts, the terms “xenophobia” and “racism” seem to be used interchangeably, though they can have wholly different meanings (xenophobia can be based on various aspects, racism being based solely on race ethnicity and ancestry). Xenophobia can also be directed simply to anyone outside of a culture, not necessarily one particular race or people.

Well, OK. I’m not sure if it is xenophobia or racism (or both) which led to offensive characterizations against the Republican candidate for governor in South Carolina. Or the renaming of food so as not to invoke people we don’t like. Or the absurd truthiness of this Comedy Central bit about Obama and his emotions.

At some level, I suppose I had gotten to a point where I had hoped xenophobia and racism was some thing of the past, such as one segment in this TV show from 1964, which like the Daily Show segment, is parody. But I realized I was being silly. Xenphobia has lasted for millennia; why should modernism destroy it? Continue reading “X is for Xenophobia”

Quizzery Afoot

I’ve spoken before dozens at various presentations for work. There were 3000 in the audience for JEOPARDY!

From Jaquandor:

1. You’re building your dream house. What’s the one thing that this house absolutely, positively MUST HAVE? (other than the obvious basics of course)

A movie screening room, with cushy chairs and a pocorn machine.

2. What is your dream car?

I don’t have a dream car. I’m vaguely interested in getting a Vespa.

3. What is your favorite website that isn’t a blog?

Data.gov – cool stuff there

4. iPhone 4 or Droid, which do you want?

No clue. I’m so NOT covetous of these, though I saw someone’s iPhone (2 or 3) and thought it was nice.

5. When you’re feeling down or lonely or just generally out of sorts, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

Play familiar music as loud as I can stand.

6. Tell me about something or someone that you love that most people seem to hate.

Albany weather. This just wasn’t that bad a winter.

7. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Growing up is overrated. OK, a third-base coach for a major league baseball team.

8. Would you go on a reality show if given the chance?

Depends on the show. Probably not, though, since it seems the idea is to humiliate. My eldest niece and her husband are going to be on Wipe Out sometime this summer, but the very little I’ve seen of the program doesn’t thrill me.

9. Who was your favorite teacher when you were growing up. (Grade school, Middle School, Jr. High or High School only.)

Mr. Peca, 6th grade.

10. You get one pass to do something illegal or immoral. What are you gonna do?

Kidnap someone well-known in the political field and leave him on a desert island, with sufficient provisions to live.

11. What were you doing 10 years ago?

Actually, we had moved into this house in May, so undoubtedly still moving furniture around, and undoubtedly whining about it.

12. By this time next year, I …

will be sending off my passport for renewal, because it expires in July 2011.

13. Do you think the United States will elect a female President in your lifetime? Do you think this would be a good thing?

Probably; depends on who it is.

14. Which fictional, TV show character you would shag anytime?

I guess this has something to do with carpeting. Liz Lemon.

15. What is your greatest pet peeve?

People who think their time is more important han yours and act accordingly.

16. Tell me about your most recent trip of more than 100 miles?

I did; it was our trip at Easter to Charlotte, NC.

17. Which do you use more often, the dictionary or the thesaurus?

The dictionary.

18. Do you have a nickname? What is it?

O, Great Mighty One.

19. What are you dreading at the moment?

My next credit card bill.

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

If I were to worry about that, I just wouldn’t write them at all.

21. In two words, explain what ended your last relationship.

Her depression.

22. What were you doing this morning at 8 am?

Well, yesterday, I was getting ready for church. Today, I’ll be getting ready for work.

23. Do you have any famous relatives?

Of a sort, as I explained: Irwin Corey. And no, Al Green is NOT my cousin, though I made a joke that he was.

24. How many different beverages have you drank today?

Let’s see: water, apple juice, ginger ale.

25. What is something you are excited about?

Finishing this meme.

26. When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group?

Define large. I’ve spoken before dozens at various presentations for work. There were 3000 in the audience for JEOPARDY!, and while I wasn’t addressing them directly, I nfelt their presence.

27. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

Holy crap, my face keeps changing with the vitilago and the sun.

28. What were you doing at midnight last night?


29. What’s a word that you say a lot?


30. Who is your worst enemy?

Some days, me.

That’s all!

MOVIE REVIEW: The Karate Kid (2010)

Mr. Han, the taciturn maintenance man, teaches Dre kung fu. So why is this movie called the Karate Kid?

It’s date night. It’s been a while since we had one of those. I let my date pick the movie; I mean, I suppose I could have vetoed it, but I’m generally disinclined.

First, we go to dinner at a local restaurant/bar named Junior’s. The food’s OK, but it’s one of those places with about a half dozen TVs. The truly weird thing is that three of them were on the same ESPN channel, but that the broadcast at the bar was about seven seconds AHEAD of the the sets in the dining area. It was a College World Series game. Batter swings on the bar TV, batter swings on the restaurant TV. Outfielder catches the ball in the bar, outfielder makes the catch in the restaurant. ESPN logo in the bar…well, you get the idea.

So, what will we see? The choices:
Jonah Hex, the adaptation of the DC comic book; she doesn’t know Jonah Hex
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the adaptation of an apparently popular video game that I never heard of, that’s on its last night, before being replaced by the Cruise/Diaz film, Knight and Day
Shrek Forever After, apparently the last in the franchise. We saw the first two; I would have seen this.
The A-Team, the remake of the 1980s TV show that I seldom watched
Toy Story 3 (“in Disney 3D”), the third in that series; we own the first two on video. DEFINITELY would have seen this.
Killers, that Ashton Kutcher dog, which had the honor of being the only item that wasn’t a sequel or remake.
But she picked The Karate Kid , which was fine by me. I figured she was a big fan of the original. But in fact, she hadn’t seen the original with Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita or its two follow-ups, and neither had I.

So, I’m seeing this not in the context of the previous films, but as an entity on its own.

Dre Parker (Jaden Smith from The Pursuit of Happyness) has to leave home in rundown Detroit because his widowed mom Sherry (Taraji P. Henson from Benjamin Button) got a job in Beijing, China. We know Detroit’s run down because we see ALL the boarded-up buildings. They arrive at their dwelling, where at least most of the people speak English, including a cute Chinese girl, Mei Ying (Wen Wen Han) practicing her violin. Unfortunately, this flirtation is not appreciated by the building bully, Cheng (Zhenwei Wang), who enjoys administering a beatdown (or two, or three).

Dre is FINALLY rescued by Mr. Han, the taciturn maintenance man who teaches Dre kung fu, or so Dre can participate in a wushu tournament. (So why is this movie called the Karate Kid? As Sherry says at one point, “Kung fu, karate – what’s the difference?”) Obviously it’s a ploy to extend the brand, and, I’ve read, it’s pretty faithful to the original.

What I liked: the performers; the use of China (Forbidden City, Great Wall and other locations as backdrop). What bothered me: too long (2:20) by about 20 minutes. Surely, we could have gotten the lesson about hanging up your clothes (an homage, I understand, to the original’s “Wax on, wax off”) sooner. One less beatdown of Dre would have been nice too. And it’s a sports movie, so, even if I didn’t see the 1984 film, the ending is not a shock.

Still, it had enough heart to recommend this film, produced by Jaden’s parents, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Rotten Tomatoes score of 69% (as of this writing)
Roger Ebert’s positive review

A bit off the point, but Jaquandor links to a Ralph Macchio makeover (NSFW).

The Lydster, Part 75: Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

A happy, ferocious feline

Ah, found pictures! Last summer, I took Lydia to some jazz music festival at the Hudson River Riverfront in Albany. Don’t much remember the music – I liked it, she, not so much – because the daughter was getting antsy. So we wandered through the vendor area and got something to eat.

Then we came across a booth for face painting. And it cost only one dollar. These pictures don’t do the artistry justice.

We walked throughout the area, and people, unbidden kept asking, “Where did you get that done?” Quite unintentionally, we became great ambassadors for the booth.

Afterwards, we took the bus home, and she was definitely the A-topic on the vehicle.

It was too bad when she had to take off the makeup before bed.

So I want to thank the talented woman who brought a lot of happiness Lydia’s way for the day.

The William Blake poem, Tyger Tyger Burning Bright