James Dean – d. 9/30/55

It’s clear, though, that Bob Dylan “got” it about James Dean, and that Don McLean understood that Dylan “got” it.

I’m not sure that most people can fully understand cultural phenomena that take place before they were born, or aware of the outside world. A person born after 1968 could appreciate the Beatles’ music, but could he or she understand Beatlemania?

Well, that’s how I am about the actor James Dean, who died 55 years ago today, not to be confused with Jimmy Dean, the sausage guy who died recently. I recognize him as a cultural icon, though he was in only three major movies, two of which were released posthumously. I understand it intellectually, but I didn’t “get” it.

CBS News has done at least two stories about Dean; here’s just a snippet of one, James Dean’s cousin Marcus Winslow takes Steve Kroft on a tour of Dean’s museum and his final resting place.

Here’s the song Message From James Dean by Bill Hayes.

It’s clear, though, that Bob Dylan “got” it, and that Don McLean understood that Dylan “got” it. In this FAQ about McLean’s American Pie, referring to the line, “In a coat he borrowed from James Dean”:

In the movie “Rebel Without a Cause”, James Dean has a red windbreaker that holds symbolic meaning throughout the film… In one particularly intense scene, Dean lends his coat to a guy who is shot and killed; Dean’s father arrives, sees the coat on the dead man, thinks it’s Dean, and loses it. On the cover of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”, Dylan is wearing just such as red windbreaker and is posed in a street scene similar to one shown in a well-known picture of James Dean. Bob Dylan played a command performance for the Queen and Prince Consort of England. He was not properly attired, so perhaps this is a reference to his apparel…
James Dean’s red windbreaker is important throughout the film, not just at the end. When he put it on, it meant that it was time to face the world, time to do what he thought had to be done, and other melodramatic but thoroughly enjoyable stuff like that. The week after the movie came out, virtually every clothing store in the U.S. was sold out of red windbreakers. Remember that Dean’s impact was similar to Dylan’s: both were a symbol for the youth of their time, a reminder that they had something to say and demanded to be listened to.

But maybe I began to understand better when I read what Wendy wrote about first seeing Rebel Without A Cause:
Here was a character who felt unloved and unseen by his parents just like me. He was also an outcast at his high-school which I completely understood. What I didn’t understand though was how could anyone not fall in love with a character like “Jim”. That was the first time that James Dean touched me with his magic.

As I watched the movie further, I realized that Jim represented all the loneliness, angst, and anger that teenagers either flaunt or hide. He was the antithesis of the shiny smile-y, white-bread teenager that was hailed in the 1950s. Jim didn’t care about how he appeared and couldn’t hide the pain that he wore like a cloak.

Eddie Fisher died last week. I don’t remember his singing career at all – and I knew singers of his era – and all that leaving Debbie Reynolds for Liz Taylor stuff was before my recollecting, too. Mostly, for me, he was Carrie Fisher’s dad.

September Ramblin’

There was this woman named Dottie Rambo, an American gospel singer, musician, and writer of over 2500 songs, who died a couple of years ago in a motor vehicle accident. I mention this because in her obit in an Italian online news publication, the accompanying picture is NOT Dottie Rambo. Who is it? Dottie’s given name was Joyce. There is a librarian friend of mine named Joyce Rambo, still alive, BTW; it is HER picture that graces the Italian obit, not Dottie’s.

A record producer plays the entire Beatles catalog on the ukulele; this video is only a sample.

The Apostrophe Song. For those who know the difference between it’s and its or you’re and your, and grimace when they see her’s. And especially for those who dont. I mean, don’t.

Playing for Change, Episode 34: Raghuvamsa Sudha. What do the letters in music stand for?

Vanessa’s wedding reception surprise. I HAD to post this because this IS my second favorite musical, after West Side Story. More about the couple.

Librarians will survive budget cuts.

NCC-1701 Pizza Cutter for your favorite Star Trek fan. And the video.

Star Wars TV Intro (Hawaii Five-O Version)
Star Wars TV Intro (Dallas Version)

And speaking of Dallas: Only one of the reasons I hate the Dallas Cowboys.

America Is a Joke article about Jon Stewart. “The worst of times for politics and media has been the best of times for The Daily Show’s host—and unfortunately things are getting even funnier.”

How to quit your job. OK, so it was just acting.

Did Christine O’Donnell make this PSA?

Are You a Comic-Con Dork?

“1,002 theatrical cartoons were produced by the legendary Warner Brothers animation studio in its heyday. This video, which is about the length of one of those cartoons, purports to feature one frame from each of those 1,002 cartoons.” Plus several iterations of the song The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down; if you’ve watched Bugs Bunny or his pals, you KNOW this song.

Explaining Fair Use Using Disney Characters. Not every use of copyrighted material is disallowed.

Disney Epic Mickey Mouse. Love the visuals.

Katy Perry Spoofs Canceled ‘Sesame Street’ Appearance on ‘SNL’, with a link to the original duet with Elmo

You may be familiar with the fact that Hollywood’s making a film about Facebook. Now, the Twitter movie.

Ken Levine says: They must really be out of stars for the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

The FOR COLORED GIRLS trailer from Tyler Perry. Looks intense. My sister read the book, but I never did.

Finally, Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, who I must admit I never heard of. “Danny Glover and Edward Asner, co-chairs of ‘Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban 5’ made a call to their colleagues in the United States inviting them to add their name to a letter to President Obama encouraging him to issue an Executive Clemency order on behalf of the Cuban 5.

“A significant number of well-known actors and artists who responded to the call” include Susan Sarandon, Oliver Stone, Martin Sheen, Pete Seeger, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Chrissie Hynde, Haskell Wexler, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, James Cromwell, Mike Farrell, Elliott Gould, and Esai Morales.

K is for Kill

Surely, self-defense is often raised as a defense of war, just as it would be for an individual under attack.

I was attempting to have a theological conversation with my mother a few years back. She demurred, “I just follow the Ten Commandments.” Yeah, I said, but what do they mean? Take that one that says, “Thou shalt not kill?” How does one interpret that in today’s world?

For instance, according to some sources, “the Hebrew word that was used in this case for ‘kill’ (or murder) was the somewhat rare term rasah… Although its exact meaning has defied explanation, in other contexts it could refer to killing that was inherently evil… However, the same term could also have applied to unintentional manslaughter…, blood vengeance…, the legal execution of a criminal …”

Indeed, most iterations of Scripture now use the word “murder” rather than “kill” in Exodus 20:13, which I interpret as a more legalistic term.

This study suggests five topics for discussion, so I thought I’d touch on the same, though there are plenty more.

Suicide: if killing anyone is considered a sin against God, by its very nature, some consider suicide to be an irreparable sin. Yet in legal terms, one mitigates for “diminished capacity.” Would God do any less? The only suicide I can recall in the Bible was by Judas Iscariot, after turning Jesus over to the authorities.

Capital Punishment: “An eye for an eye,” the Old Testament says, but Jesus seems to modify that. Many, including me, feel quite uncomfortable with the state executing others in their name. Some even consider it murder by the state (rasah), and there are Biblical references to that being the case unless the guilt was absolutely certain.

Euthanasia: the miracle of medicine allow people to be kept alive much longer than we once thought possible. But what of the quality of that life? And certainly, one can distinguish between stopping doing everything possible to let go, and aiding the process, something most U.S. states would consider a form of murder.

War: certainly many wars were fought and recorded in Biblical times. How does that inform what WE should do? Some were expecting Jesus to be a great warrior in the military sense and were disappointed by this “Prince of Peace” fellow. And are there just wars and unjust wars? This has been argued for millennia. Surely, self-defense is often raised as a defense of war, just as it would be for an individual under attack.

Abortion: when does life begin? One would be hard-pressed to argue against the notion that at least the potential for life commences when a zygote is created. But these can be formed fairly frequently and don’t usually attach to the womb to grow. This discussion also is addressed in the stem cell debate and even some forms of birth control.

These are complicated issues. What do YOU think?

Unrighteous anger as murder?

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and Anne-Marie

DADT is toast; it just doesn’t know it yet. When is that report coming out that’s supposed to assess the impact of openly gay personnel in the military?

My good buddy Scott, who I’ve never met, the blogger at Scooter Chronicles, has several questions:

1. Now that the baseball playoff teams (except for the NL West) are pretty well set, who do you see getting to the World Series and who wins it?

I can’t help but think the teams will be from the East. But which teams? Minnesota has been hot, but I think they can be beaten; likewise the Rangers. So I’m saying Tampa and the Yankees in the ALCS. I’ll pick the Yankees, but I’m by no means certain.

Look for Cincinnati to get to the NLCS, and lose to the Phillies. Yankees over the Phillies. Or Tampa over the Phillies. Whoever wins the AL EAST over the winner of the NL EAST.

2. How long have you been reading/collecting comics?

Well, I’m pretty much not anymore, though I pick up some on Free Comic Book Day in May, and inevitablty buy SOMETHING. I started in 1971 – it was his fault – and sold my collection in 1994. but I still have some collections, and even bought some Marvel Masterworks just this year.

3. If you still read them often, is there a new series that really interests you?

Well, no. But I would recommend to you Saga of the Swamp Thing collection by Moore, Bissette, and Totleben, and not just because Steve Bissette is my buddy who I HAVE met. I know you just read The Watchmen. This is a different thing, of course, but very good.

4. Of the comic book superheroes, who do you think has the coolest logo?

Well, Superman’s is iconic, of course. I’ll pick Green Lantern because it’s…green. And because even I could draw it.

5. What do you think the eventual outcome will be for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the DREAM Act?

DADT is toast; it just doesn’t know it yet. When is that report coming out that’s supposed to assess the impact of openly gay personnel in the military? The Republicans need political cover to overturn it. If the report comes out before the election, it could be overturned after the election. If not, it’ll be more difficult, but it WILL happen.

Whereas I just can’t see the DREAM Act passing at all. The GOP won’t touch it because it rewards “bad behavior” of children, CHILDREN (were they supposed to stay home without their parents?) who came to the United States illegally, want to be productive members of US society through college and/or the military. It’ll happen only when we have a “comprehensive immigration policy” and THAT’S not going to happen anytime soon.

6. If you could go back in time and choose a different career, would you and what would it be?

There was nothing else I’d do as well. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but I hated my pre-law course, which really did throw me off for quite a while.
I always wanted to be a Pip. Background singer. Don’t like singing melody, but love singing harmony.

7. A bit cliche, but I can’t remember anyone asking this before, if you could have dinner with three other people, whether they are currently living or have already passed on, who would they be and why?

Jesus, Mohammed and Thomas Jefferson. The first two because I’d be curious about what they thought of things being said in their respective names. Jefferson because he was an interestingly complicated dude who wanted freedom, owned slaves and apparently slept with one, was a theist but not in the traditional sense, and was a book guy. BTW, have you seen Tea Party Jesus, which was described in the Huffington Post a couple months ago. It puts “The words of Christians in the mouth of Christ.” Well, purported Christians, anyway.

Picture from Tea Party Jesus. Used by permission.
The words above describe some politician I described here.

Anne-Marie with a Dash from Montreal – I need to go back there someday – asks:

When should someone retire from a job? Should we wait till we are physically too tired to perform or retire early while we still have some life left in us?

The great philosopher Neil Young once said, It’s better to burn out than fade away. This is a complicated question, based on your economic situation, your prospects and training for another position, your interest in something else.

That said, I think life is too short to work until one is too tired to perform. You do yourself a disservice, your employer and customers a disservice. I wrote on Thursday about leaving a job – I didn’t have one to go to, but it just was time to go. But I was single then, living in an apartment; I’m married with a child and a mortgage now, and probably wouldn’t make the same choice. Your situation will mitigate your decision. But you need joy in your life.

You and your husband are in a small apartment in Qatar right now; I’m guessing that it might be lucrative being there. But you don’t seem to love, or even like(?) being there; it’s too hot except at night, you probably don’t get enough sleep and I’m guessing you’re tired constantly. Short of working nights, if that were possible, I’d leave if at all feasible.

SamuraiFrog gave me an award, and all I have to do is pass it along to 10 others. Well, I can’t give it to SF, obviously, or to Jaquandor, because SF gave the award to him.

Witch Reviews
Witch Blog
The Pedalogue (Leslie, not my sister)
Anthony North
Mrs. Nesbitt’s Space
peripheral perceptions (Lisa)
Bringing Up Salamanders (Nydia)
Rose DesRochers – World Outside my Window

The Lydster, Part 78: Unicorn’s Sister

Looking at 50-year-old women, who are presumably finished having children, 18.3% of them had a single child in 2006, up from 11.4% in 1990.

The daughter is an only child. The daughter has a couple of dozen brothers and sisters. She has a number of stuffed animals and dolls who are in an ever-changing, and to me, an incomprehensible hierarchy of relationships vis a vis her. Some are now dolls of her siblings, for instance; please don’t ask me which are which.

I DO know, however, that her number one sibling is her sister Unicorn. She has three or four other unicorns that have names that aren’t Unicorn; I forget what they are. It was she – Lydia, not Unicorn, at least I think so – who decided that they should wear matching outfits when they played in their band. The keyboards, which I have had for decades, can be programmed to play some tunes, and it has an annoying automatic tune as well.

Sometimes, I feel marginally guilty, for her sake, having just one (human) child, but she seems to have adapted. She has friends at church and school, she LOVES her cousins who live an hour away (and the ones that live further, as well.) In any case, it is what it is, and we’re not going to be changing it.

Here’s an interesting article: A Dose of Sibling Rivalry: For Only Child Families, New Thinking Pushes Kid-Time, Sharing and Squabbling AUGUST 10, 2010 Wall Street Journal.
“Looking at 50-year-old women, who are presumably finished having children, 18.3% of them had a single child in 2006, up from 11.4% in 1990, according to numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics. The growth is being spurred by more later-in-life marriage and child-bearing. Financial concerns are also at play. As the cost of diapers, child-care, and college degrees keep their steady march northward, some parents are deciding it’s just too expensive to have that second kid.”


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