Last dance music QUESTION

The intricacies of singing in chicken may require a substitute.

I have this Facebook friend, who not only is an actual terrestrial friend but who I see regularly. Anyway, she sent around this list of disco songs from which she would like the music for her funeral.

Whereas I would like a nice dignified affair. But the last song ought to be done in chicken. Almost any tune can be done in chicken. Exhibit A: unfortunately, just a snippet of In The Mood by Henhouse Five Plus Too, which is the nom de cluck of singer Ray Stevens. I don’t know if I can overstate the significance this song has had on my life, ever since I heard it on some Warner Brothers Lost Leader over 30 years ago.

Of course, I wouldn’t necessarily want In The Mood. Bach can be done well in chicken, even in four-part harmony. And if one cannot master the intricacies of chicken, I suppose kazoo will do. I played a lot of kazoo, occasionally even professionally.

So what special music would you want at YOUR funeral?

July Ramblin’

A dedicated to Sir Mick

I was moved by this:
Why didn’t I scream when I was raped?
I was 15 when it happened. Now, after a career as a terrorism expert, I want to find out what took place, and why, By Jessica Stern

I was encouraged by this:

There are now about 250 million people worldwide living in jurisdictions that provide for marriage equity, as this colorful chart will help to demonstrate.
The big spike you see in 2008 is California recognizing gay marriage through the courts, and then un-recognizing it through the passage of Proposition 8. Right now, it’s possible to marry your same-sex partner in Buenos Aires, in Mexico City, in Ames, Iowa, and in Pretoria, South Africa, but not in San Francisco. With countries like Argentina and Portugal now recognizing same-sex marriages, however, the global trajectory has returned to its slow but steady upward pace.

I had forgotten about this:

Evanier noted correctly that the last name of the Dennis the Menace creator is Ketcham, not Ketchum, as the copyright notice on the stamps suggests. While verifying the spelling, I came across arguably, the most awkward moment in Dennis the Menace history.

I was frustrated by this:
Stop the Madness: Education’s foremost historian on where NCLB went wrong, ending the testing regime, and why we need neighborhood schools.
Adapted from The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, by Diane Ravitch (Basic Books, 2010).

When I was having insomnia, just watching this help relax me enough to go to sleep:
water therapy

These made me laugh:
Star Wars on the bagpipes while riding a unicycle (well, of course)
Ken Levine and Hells Angels
Life lessons from a Disney mermaid!
I felt uncomfortable laughing at this:
Suicide Jumper
And this, while well crafted, just didn’t make me laugh at all:
Seinfeld drama

In honor of Mick Jagger’s birthday this month, I listened to this cover:
Ollabelle – I Am Waiting
For a reason listed above, listening to this song by the Box Tops: Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March, which I only vaguely recall. It got to #28 in early 1969.

I hope to be listening to this soon:

Music Legend Brian Wilson Completes Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, A New Disney Pearl CD of George and Ira Gershwin Classics Set For Release August 17. Highlights include two new songs Wilson crafted from previously unpublished George Gershwin music


30-Day Challenge: Day 14-Favorite Purchase Ever Made

This book has all the albums of all the group who had a Top 200 hit according to the Billboard charts, with brief bios of the artists, and a list of all the album cuts.

Favorite purchase EVER made, by me? As opposed to things purchased for me, which would an entirely different matter. Oh, dear, my library geekdom mind is showing; well, at least it has a pop culture bent.

All right, I have to pick something that has given me hours and hours of enjoyment. I first thought of the World Almanac, but I did not purchase my first half dozen almanacs, my parents did, for Christmas.

Certainly, a contender was going to be the first time I ever purchased The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, which allowed me to relive shows I remember, get details on shows I had forgotten, and provide useful, if trivial, information when television facts are at issue. Based on a recent blog post, I discovered that, in the Albany market in 1967, the Monkees were pre-empted by the syndicated Death Valley Days, and that I Dream of Jeannie was bumped by a local quiz show. I love that trivia stuff.

But I suppose, honestly, the correct answer to this question is the first time I got Top Pop Albums, which probably covered 1955 to 1995. I’m guessing because I’ve purchased subsequent additions. This book has all the albums of all the group who had a Top 200 hit according to the Billboard charts, with brief bios of the artists, and a list of all the album cuts, so one could find on which albums that particular song appeared. It allows me, in a visceral way, to re-experience artists I love or learn new things. I refer to it several times a week.

In fact, the newest iteration of this book, which goes up to 2009, has become so large that the album cuts now appear on a separate CD; necessary, given the number of records delineated, but I believe that the previous version, which went up to 2005, will probably be the one that I will find most useful on a day-to-day basis. 

Movie Review: Salt

Oh, look, there’s the building I used to work in! Did they manually change the highway signs or did they just correct them digitally?

I’ve been known to be a self-confessed art-house snob when it comes to movies. Interestingly, our local art house, the Spectrum Theatre, was showing Salt, the new Angelina Jolie movie that was filmed, in part, in Albany, NY, rerouting traffic for a few weeks last summer.

Let me state from the start that Salt isn’t the type of movie the wife and I tend to see. We’ve never viewed any of the Jason Bourne movies, for example. When you see a lot of a certain genre of movie (or listen to a certain genre of music), it develops one’s critical eye (or ear). Still, Salt is what we decided to see on Monday night date night.

I thought, after an intense flashback scene, the beginning of the movie was slow, giving a lot of exposition; I never felt that way again. Salt was an adrenaline rush of action and tension from about 12 minutes in until the end. About 3/4 of the way through, my wife whispered, “I’m exhausted,” and I knew just what she meant.

This is one of those Cold War dramas that seemed farfetched until the recent Russian spy scandal in real life; the difference is that this group is far more competent, insulating themselves even in the halls of government.

I started reading the reviews: “bombastic, bells-and-whistles spectacular” – check; “ludicrous but somehow credible spy thriller” – check; “As she tries to find her husband, and perhaps assassinate the Russian president, she’s not quite sure who or what she is. And neither are we. Which is precisely why the whole thing works” – check; “How many times have we seen Cruise or Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis evade pursuers or when the need arises, disable them? The sex change makes what transpires feel fresh — and unpredictable.” – double-check. Anyone who has seen Die Hard or Mission: Impossible, and I have, has seen some of these tricks before, but somehow this (mostly) worked for me.

Perhaps it’s the star power that is Angelina Jolie. Though I don’t believe I’d seen her in anything since Girl, Interrupted in 1999, she turned out to be perfect for this role; she has…PRESENCE.

The one thing that took me out of the movie – but it’s OK – is probably the thing that I came to see: the highways around Albany, during the absurdly entertaining chase scene. Oh, look, there’s the building I used to work in! I recognize the Environmental Conservation building! Did they manually change the highway signs or did they just correct them digitally? The skyline looked pretty good!

If you see a lot of this genre of movie, you may feel it’s all rehashed plotlines, but we were glad to see it. If you live or lived around Albany, you must see it, if not in theaters, then certainly when it comes out on DVD, just for the ah-ha feeling you’ll have. Though if you wait for the Albany mention during the end credits, you’ll be disappointed.

Other movies using In Paradisum from Requiem, Op. 48 by Faure, in addition to Salt.

Roger Ebert’s positive review


B is for Baseball Tour

Babe Ruth, Jack Nicholson and a cast of others.

Because she loves us, my wife purchased trolley tour tickets for her father and me with the Albany Aquaducks on Sunday, June 27, the week after Father’s Day; no we didn’t go in the water. The tour was to touch upon the baseball highlights of the area.

We were instructed to meet at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in nearby Troy, NY, generally called “The Joe”, named for the former State Senate majority leader, who was convicted of a couple of counts of corruption (though a subsequent Supreme Court ruling may end up nullifying the charges).

It IS a very nice stadium.

Here’s the peculiar thing, though: at the appointed hour of 2 pm, there were 17 people registered, and apparently paid, to go on the event. Yet the only people present were the driver, the woman from the Aquaducks, our tour guide, my father-in-law, and me.

Our guide was Rip Rowan, for a time the sports guy for WTEN-TV (Channel 10 in Albany), later doing work with the now-defunct Albany-Colonie Yankees, then the Tri-Cities Valleycats, who play in the Joe, until Rip retired in 2009.

Rip and the tour guide were on their cellphones trying to find out where the other customers were. In the meantime, Rip and two ValleyCats employees gave us a tour of the stadium, including the press box, which was air-conditioned, a particular perk on such a hot day.

Back to the vehicle, still with no additional customers, we drove around the area to the former site of Hawkins Stadium in nearby Menands:
New York Yankees play the Albany Senators at Hawkins Stadium before 7,000 fans. Babe Ruth hits three homers in batting practice. In the third inning, Ruth hits the longest homer ever in the city’s history. Ruth plays first base. Lou Gehrig plays left field. (August 9, 1929).

The odd thing is that the backstop is still nearby, 50 years after the stadium was demolished, and in reasonably good condition at that.

We then drove over to Ristorante Paradiso in Albany. Paradiso Owner Matt Daskalakis, who played with the Albany Senators in the 1950s, told his impressions of the sport in the 1950s versus now. It was clear he had practiced his talk with a greater number of participants in mind, but he told his interesting stories to the two of us anyway.

(Paradiso was a set for the Jack Nicholson/Meryl Streep film about a fictionalized Albany, Ironweed, based on the novel by noted local author William Kennedy. I actually saw Nicholson and Mike Tyson backstage at an Anita Baker concert in 1987.)

Next stop, Bleeker Stadium, only about eight blocks from my house, yet I didn’t know, until my father-in-law told me, that Albany now has a team in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. It is a summer (June/July) wood bat development league for professional baseball. The local team, Albany Dutchmen, are in their second season, and were between games of a doubleheader – against two different teams, one game being a makeup game of a rainout. A spokesman told us about the team and the league.

Finally, back to The Joe to watch the Valleycats, a Houston Astros farm team, play against Lowell, a Red Sox farm team. The home team lost but we had fun, eating hot dogs and chips, and drinking our sodas, all part of the package deal.

A story about the 2009 tour, which was somewhat different.

It has occurred to me that my father-in-law likes going to ball games with me because I enjoy baseball so much, whereas his sons are/were more or less indifferent. It took me longer to realize that I enjoy going to the games with him, because he knows the game so well, certainly, but also because it was something I used to do with my dad.
Ball Park Reviews, a website devoted to documenting in words and photos both major and minor league baseball parks across the United States and Canada.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

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