Old Father 2010

I’m no more, or less, disillusioned by politics than I was last year.


So what kind of year was 2010?

I’m still sad that my local YMCA closed. I was a member there from December 1982 to April 2010. I played racquetball there, and occasionally volleyball as well. My attempt to play racquetball elsewhere proved unworkable.

My bike was stolen; majorly bummed by that.

The blog I do for the Times Union newspaper got excerpted in the print edition at least a half dozen times this year. The problem with that, of course, is that the blurb may be confusing to the reader out of context. Still, people actually recognize me from this, which, I guess, is a good thing. I’m notorious enough to be asked to participate in that To Kill A Mockingbird readathon.

I’ve been attending my current church and singing in the choir for 10 years. We got a new choir director this fall. After eight years of stability, the last couple of years were full of transition in the leadership of the choir; hope this guy sticks around a while. I’ve been a Presbyterian for eight years, after being a Methodist – or nothing – for most of my life; STILL learning about it.

I attended no funerals this year; that’s actually quite unusual for me.

After attending the school where my wife works for a year, my daughter is now attending her neighborhood school in the city, and I take her there most days, while her mother picks her up.

We’re going to an international reunion next year, and we all got passports, not just on the last day, but the last 15 minutes, before the rates went up.

I’m no more, or less, disillusioned by politics than I was last year.

When the Golden Globes movie nominations came out, I realized that, outside of the animated films, of which I saw Toy Story 3, Tangled, and 30 minutes of Despicable Me, I saw only one movie for which either the actors and/or the film was nominated, and that was The Kids Are All Right.

My TV DVR is constantly at 75% full, give or take 10 percentage points. I have yet to see an episode of 30 Rock or The Office for this season, I’m weeks behind on Glee. I skipped the JEOPARDY! college tournament. I AM up-to-date with The Closer and Grey’s Anatomy, however.

I have in excess of 140 sick days available at work, a function of being there 18 years.

I blogged every day this year, again.

Johnny B. re Captain Beefheart

I didn’t realize until I saw this TCM clip that THREE members of the cast of the movie Airplane! died this year: Peter Graves, Barbara Billingsly, and Leslie Nielsen.

December Ramblin’

Hit me with your rhythm stick/Je t’adore, ich liebe dich
Hit me with your rhythm stick/Das ist gut, c’est fantastique


I’ve enjoyed seeing composer Steven Sondheim, lyricist for West Side story, a funny Thing happened on the Way to the Forum, and many, many other musicals, a couple times on television recently, promoting his book “Finishing the Hat: Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes.” I’ve ordered the book if only for the lyrics themselves, and what he’ll have to say about them. I enjoyed hearing about the strong tutelege of family friend Oscar Hammerstein. He has appeared on Stephen Colbert‘s program and on The Newshour on PBS. Part of the latter interview is here:
JEFFREY BROWN: And the greatest focus is on words that rhyme….He uses an old rhyming dictionary and a 1946 edition of “Roget’s Thesaurus.”
STEPHEN SONDHEIM: A rhyme draws the ear’s attention to the word. So, you don’t make the least important word in the line the rhyme word. So, you have to — and also a rhyme can take something that is not too strong and make it much stronger…
BROWN: And…he believes words that are spelled differently, but sound alike, such as rougher and suffer, engage the listener more than those spelled similarly, rougher and tougher.
SONDHEIM: I think we see words on — as if they’re on paper, sometimes when you hear them. I don’t mean it’s an absolutely conscious thing, but I’m absolutely convinced that people essentially see what they’re hearing.
BROWN: Yes. So, I’m hearing rougher and suffer rhyme…then I quickly think…
SONDHEIM: And that’s a surprise… I have got a rhyme in “Passion,” colonel, and journal. Now, you look at them on paper, they seem to have no relation to each other at all. So, when you rhyme them, it’s, ooh, you know? It’s — it — I really may be wrong about this. It’s just something that has struck me over the years.

So what lyrics immediately, and I mean IMMEDIATELY, come to mind? Hit Me with your Rhythm stick by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, a staple on my favorite radio station of the late 1970s, Q104.
Specifically:
In the wilds of Borneo And the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho, move their body to and fro

But also the foreign language rhymes:
Hit me with your rhythm stick/Je t’adore, ich liebe dich
Hit me with your rhythm stick/Das ist gut, c’est fantastique
Here are a couple of recordings HERE with some misspellings, and an odd ending and HERE, after an ad.

Jaquandor found this nifty cartoon that explains climate change.

Eddie shares this Go Go’s video. Eddie notes that Belinda Carlisle’s memoir states their repertoire was limited to the songs on the first album in
their early touring days. This confirms my recollection that when I saw them at JB Scott’s in Albany in 1981, or late 1980, around the time of their 1st album, they played every song on the album plus one non-album B-side.

The Playing For Change Foundation’s new Song Around the World – John Lennon’s “Imagine”

The Twilight Zone Marathon is on again. The December 31 lineup has been posted at syfy.com. But the Marathon will be interrupted for two hours that evening by one of those dopey wrestling shows.

How cats lap up milk, in slow motion

Painting Like Jackson Pollock

I’m afraid I cannot condone this abuse of perfectly good coconut creme pies. Well, maybe for a good cause.

STAN LEE is on their side! Spidey an agent of the Illuminati? Say it ain’t so, Stan! Say it ain’t so! Especially now that you’re 88, as Johnny Bacardi notes.

I mourn the loss of Matt Staccone, SBDC advisor, at the age of 55.

A friend of mine came across this eBay sale of ‘Two Decades of Comics’ fanzine booklet from March 1981; “Fantastic Brian Bolland cover art featuring Brother Power The Geek, Nightshade & Indian? looking at book with characters heads flying out: Storm, Man-Thing, Sgt Rock, Cain, The Demon, Howard The Duck, Metamorpho, The Spectre etc.
Very scarce – Book comprehensively views A-Z of comic book titles with fan-art – notably: Dave Hornsby “The Creeper” art 1pg, Nik Neocleous “Deathlok” art 1pg, Kev F Sutherland “Iron Jaw” art 1pg, Steve Whitaker “Red Wolf” art 1pg, Steve Lowther “The Werewolf” art 1pg, Eagle Awards 1976-1979 Results feature 4pg.” And boy, did that cover look familiar. As it turns out, FantaCo published it as an inside cover in our Chronicles Annual. That Annual was based on that same magazine.

Five Sci-Fi Children’s Books, including Kirk and Spock are Friends.

Beatles Island Songs, 143-134

From Nike ads to “The Royal Tenenbaums,” the moments that defiled and celebrated the Fab Four.



JEOPARDY Answers of the day-
BEATLES MUSIC: Chauffeur Alf Bicknell was the inspiration for this 1965 song
BEATLES TUNES: It’s the Beatles’ only U.S. No. 1 hit single whose title is the name of an actual place.
Questions at the end

The rules of engagement

143 Michelle from Rubber Soul. Pretty song, and in French, no less, but desperately overplayed in the day. The name became a Top 10 name for US girls from 1966 through 1980.
142 Rocky Raccoon from the white album. A cheeky McCartney folk song, enjoyable enough.
141 I’ve Got a Feeling from Let It Be. I like the fact that this was really a McCartney/Lennon song, even at that late date.
140 You Like Me Too Much from Help! (UK), Beatles VI. Like the saloonish intro to this Harrison song.
139 Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey from the white album. I was in college playing charades. My fellow players had gotten Hide Me and Monkey, so I knew they were NEVER going to get the answer. I hear a bit of Yankee Doodle, of all things, in the guitar riff.
138 What Goes On from Rubber Soul (UK), Yesterday and Today (US). The first record to credit Starkey in the writing credits, with Lennon/McCartney. Like the three-part harmony.
137 This Boy from B-side of I Want To Hold Your Hand (UK), Meet the Beatles (US). Nice Lennon vocals with McCartney and Harrison harmony.
136 The Inner Light, B-side of Lady Madonna. Harrison stole the lyrics, I believe, from some Taoist text. First Harrison song on a single.
135 Yes It Is, B-side of Ticket to Ride (UK), Beatles VI (US). More Lennon, with McCartney and Harrison vocals.
134 Thank You Girl, B-side of From Me to You (UK), The Beatles’ Second Album (US). especially like the drumming and harmonica at the end.

Beatlesnumber9, a “Super Beatles Fan Site”
The Beatles in pop culture: Triumphs and tragedies Slide show: From Nike ads to “The Royal Tenenbaums,” the moments that defiled and celebrated the Fab Four

JEOPARDY Questions
What is Ticket to Ride?
What is Penny Lane? (Incidentally, Strawberry Fields Forever only got to Number 8 in the US)

X is for Ex, Xi, Xu

“I box in yellow Gox box socks.” – Dr. Seuss


I used to play the board game SCRABBLE a lot when I was a child, especially with my great aunt Deana. The goal isn’t to make the longest, or best words, but rather, to get the most points. So, here are acceptable two-letter words that one can use in the English-language edition utilizing the letter X. Getting an X – worth 8 points, same as the J, and more than any other save for the Q and the Z (10 points each), can be eXhilarating or eXhausting, depending on the words on the board and the other letters in your tray.

Knowing these short words will help, especially when building words in two directions. (BTW, there are sets available in several different languages, and these examples may not apply.)
AX (oh, you knew that one)
EX the letter ‘x’ (spelling letters can be useful; ar, ef, el, em, en – the latter two also printers’ measures)
OX (you had that one, too)

XI the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet (other Greek letters in this category: mu, nu, and, of course, pi)
XU a minor currency of Vietnam, 100 xu = 1 dong

“Knowing which words are acceptable – even if you have no idea of their definitions – is a perfectly legitimate strategy, and all expert players have memorized all the two-letter words and often the three-letter words as well.”

Here are the three-letter words that use the letter X:
AXE BOX COX DEX FAX FIX FOX GOX HEX KEX LAX LEX LOX LUX MAX MIX NIX OXO OXY PAX PIX POX PYX RAX REX SAX SEX SIX SOX TAX TUX VEX VOX WAX XIS ZAX

Some of these I know, though others, not so.

But wait! I recognize one of these words from literature.
Specifically: “I box in yellow Gox box socks.”
— Dr. Seuss (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) c. 1960, 1988

Is gox a REAL word?

Apparently, YES! It means “gaseous oxygen”. (Which really confuses me because I thought oxygen usually WAS a gas. It seems to me that it’s rather like saying “liquid water”, instead of “water”, to differentiate it from ice or steam.)
***
The peculiar thing about this particular post is that I wrote it nearly six months ago! I KNEW I’d need a good idea for X, and I didn’t want to waste it! Thus my accidental use of the badge for Round 6, rather than the badge for Round 7, which I’ve since corrected.

Also, you’ll note that ABC Wednesday has a new home! For a bunch of technical reasons, the link below is now the correct location.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Roger Answers Your Questions, Denise, Tom, Shooting Parrots, Jaquandor & dogs

I have no “traditional Christmas dinner menu”. Over the years, it’s been ham, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, lasagna, probably roast beef, even Chinese takeout.

What a great bunch of responses to my request!


Ginger, Buddy and Shadow proving doggie wisdom from Pawprints in the Sands of Time ask the fundamental question:
Alright, here’s for your wish…Why do u want us to play this game of questions and answers this Christmas?

Because I learn so much, both about the person, er, entity, who is asking, and more, about myself as I think about things that might not have otherwise occurred to me. In other words, it’s an exercise in self-reflection.
***
I “know” Denise Nesbitt – and “know” is such an interesting term for someone you have never actually met, but it’s accurate nevertheless – through her creation of ABC Wednesday. She also can be found at Mrs. Nesbitt’s Space.

OK, What did you buy your wife, mother, and daughter for Christmas Roger?

There was this Medieval Faire every year at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY for about 30 years. And while I was going out with Carol, I sometimes -thrice, she tells me – would buy her a hand knit wool sweater from this particular woman. Then the faire stopped for about eight years. I’d buy her a sweater from LL Bean, and once from this Irish shop across the river in Troy, but it just wasn’t the same. Then last year, the faire was backe…I mean, back! Unfortunately, this particular vendor couldn’t make it, as she had another commitment. Bummer. But this year, she was back, Carol hinted heavily what she wanted, we walked away, but later, I came back and bought. There was also this teddy bear that she lost, that was given to her by her late brother; I found not quite a replica, but close.

Lydia got a lot of things: books, clothes, an enhanced version of the old game Twister, with CDs rather than a spinner; the big thing was this expensive doll she wanted, complete with wardrobe. In fact, her mother and I had purchased SO many items, we held some back for her birthday, three months hence. At that same Faire I mentioned, there was a soap in the shape of a seashell that Santa discovered she wanted.

My mother has been difficult to shop for for years. If you ask her directly, she’ll either say, “Oh anything” or “You needn’t bother.” Unhelpful to be sure. But my sister tells me that she really likes these puzzle books. I ended going to the CVS Pharmacy, found a couple of those, plus a lap blanket and a bathrobe – it’s been COLD in North Carolina lately.
***
Shooting Parrots, who provides “random thoughts in a random world”, asks:
What was the best ever Christmas present you received? And which was the worst?!
I think the best is the unexpected: my father helping me on my Sunday paper route on Christmas morning in 1966, or our first color TV in 1969, or the free tree my then significant other and I got on Christmas Eve 1991 from Sears, and took home on a city bus.
Worst?

Haven’t a clue. I mean, I groan when my wife gives me clothes, but it really isn’t a bad gift. Maybe it’s because I’ve mastered the art of regifting, long before I’d ever heard the term.
***
Tom the Mayor I know from my time at FantaCo, though I actually met him when he worked at the Albany YMCA on Washington Avenue (RIP).
Do you ever feel any bigotry in your neighborhood in Albany? Do you think that Racial attitudes have changed since you first moved to Albany?

Interesting question. I always wonder how it would have been growing up in Albany. But I didn’t get here until I was 26 and already with the receding hairline. And some people know who I am here, a couple recognizing me from my Times Union blog just this week.

I’m not saying that my life in Albany has been incident-free. More than once, people have yelled racist comments, usually from moving vehicles. But that hasn’t happened in at least a decade.

I recall that in the early 1990s I got unsolicited lectures (at least twice) about the problems of miscegenation, not for the adults involved, but for “the children” that might arrive. So I’m curious how this will play out for my daughter, whether she’ll be subjected to that. It was really important for us that Lydia go to a diverse daycare, and she had friends who were black, white, and Asian. I have cautious hope that things are indeed better.
***
Buffalo’s finest blogger, Jaquandor at Byzantium Shores asks:
1. You are ordered to design a new menu for your family’s Christmas dinner…with the one stipulation that you use none of the dishes that are currently featured in your traditional Christmas dinner. What’s the menu?

Here’s the problem: I have no “traditional Christmas dinner menu”. Over the years, it’s been ham, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, lasagna, probably roast beef, even Chinese takeout. So I would have to go with hot dogs, hamburgers, fish filets, French fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches. What, no veggies? Again, it’s been all over the map, so it’s either a vegetable I’ve had, or do not like.

2. Are there any current “reality” shows that you would actually consider auditioning for?
If by stretching the definition to include game shows, “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”, maybe. My antipathy for reality shows isn’t just with the game, it’s the editing to make the program more dramatic.

3. If you ran into Bill O’Reilly somewhere on the street on, say, December 19, would you tell him “Happy Holidays!” just to see him get angry? (I know I would!)
Yeah, except it’d be “Happy holidays, Bill,” so he knew I knew who he was.

4. Do you have high hopes, medium hopes, or not much hope at all for Governor-elect Cuomo?
Medium-low. I thought he ran a lousy campaign, he was not very forthcoming – his financials didn’t come out until weeks after the election – and I just don’t much trust him. The only reason he won is that he was running against a nutcase. I didn’t even vote for him. (No, I didn’t vote for Paladino, I voted for Howie Hawkins on the Green Party line, because it was evident that Cuomo was going to win anyway.)

Of course, to be fair, I’m not sure what ANYONE can do about this state and local government crisis. Did you see that 60 Minutes segment? ALL the states are in big fiscal trouble.

Well, next time out: Demeur, Anthony, Gordon, Scott, ChrisJ, and anyone else who wants to play.