My life from A-Z

Pisces. Pisces. Pisces.

If it’s good enough for Ken Levine

• A-Available/Single? Available for what? Oh, wait, I see. Not available.
• B-Best Friend? Well, my oldest friends, Karen and Carol (not my wife), I’ve known since kindergarten. Carol’s e-mailed me recently, and Karen called.
• C-Cake or Pie? Pie. Fruit pie, especially.
• D-Drink Of Choice? Water with some True Lemon added.
• E-Essential Item You Use Everyday? My electric toothbrush.
• F-Favorite Color? Green, obviously. Or blue.
• G-Gummy Bears Or Worms? Not a great fan of either.
• H-Hometown? Binghamton, NY, the Parlor City.
• I-Indulgence? Reference books on pop culture.
• J-January Or February? February. Closer to spring.
• K-Kids & Their Names? Lydia. Oh, and Daffodil and Unicorn and Valentino and Kenya and… all of Lydia’s dolls and stuffed animals are my children. I have over two dozen, yet stay true to the ZPG mantra.
• L-Life Is Incomplete Without? Music.
• M-Marriage Date? May 15, 1999.
• N-Number Of Siblings? 2 sisters, both younger.
• O-Oranges Or Apples? Apple, especially McIntosh.
• P-Phobias/Fears? Downed power lines.
• Q-Favorite Quote? “All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones.”- Benjamin Franklin
• R-Reason to Smile? Photos of the daughter.
• S-Season? Spring
• T-Tag Three or Four People? Zero. Wait a minute, I’m tagging YOU.
• U-Unknown Fact About Me? I failed the test to be on the $10,000 Pyramid in 1977.
• V-Vegetable you don’t like? Cauliflower
• W-Worst Habit? Losing track of the stupid swiper thing that gets me into my building.
• X-X-rays You’ve Had? Teeth, rib (when I broke it in 2008), knee (when I tore the meniscus in 1994).
• Y-Your Favorite Food? Spinach Lasagna.
• Z-Zodiac Sign? Pisces. Pisces. Pisces. Smack dab in the middle of Pisces. Don’t care what that zodiac kerfuffle said about me being an Aquarius. Aquarian? Whatever.
Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey, and the Duke) in honor of star outfielder Duke Snider, who was among baseball’s Boys of Summer in the late 1940s and ’50s, helping lead Brooklyn to its only World Series championship in 1955. His death was reported yesterday; he was 84.

February Ramblin’

I still have trouble with Leviticus myself, so this is quite intriguing.

I think I have an instinctive sense of balance about my blog between the personal and the other stuff (politics, popular culture, etc.). Obviously, that’s been skewed more than a little this month, and frankly, I’m all right with that.

Serene Green- the flower arrangement my office sent to my mother’s funeral (and which we brought to my parents’ gravesite

I received a bushel of great notes of condolences re: the passing of my mother earlier this month. Some came in the form of e-mails, others in comments to various blog posts. I received cards, e-cards, cards with flowers. This doesn’t even count the telephone calls and the face-to-face comments. One that struck me greatly was written by someone I’ve worked with for 17 years:

It must be more than just a coincidence that the last blog post you wrote before telling the news of your mother was about circle songs. When I see “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” in print, I always hear Aaron Neville’s voice, singing of “my dear old mother”.

Judging by the comments to your posts, you have many wise friends, with all manner of experiences. I’ve no clue what to say, except that your mother will live on in song, and in spirit. Bless her soul, and my best to you and all your family.

So I played the Neville Brothers’ track and I cried more than I had all month.

Anyway, I’m sure that I’ll get back to my less open-book self-analysis blog. Eventually.

Steve Bissette notes a terrific new documentary illuminating the music & marvels of composer/musician Raymond Scott. YOU may not know Raymond Scott, but the folks doing old Warner Brothers cartoons, Motown, Devo, and composer John Williams did. And speaking of my buddy Steve, there’s an interesting early 1990s, two-part Lou Mougin interview of him here and here, where he talks about Swamp Thing with Alan Moore, independent comic publishing, and other interesting items.

I get an e-mail about a “truly infamous and heinous work [called Obama Nation – get the pun?] that a couple of people in the comics profession have just done. I am just plain ashamed to see this, and the commentator can’t even bring himself to show the whole thing (though what he describes is enough to make your blood run cold). It’s like a time warp back to Jim Crow, I kid you not.”
Then Mark Evanier writes that the cartoon WASN’T “racist or disgusting, especially compared to a lot of what’s said about the Obamas on the web these days.” A low threshold, IMO.
Certainly, the caricature that Alan David Doane showed in his post makes me queasy, but ADD is certainly correct when he says that Obama Nation is “a loathsome, unfunny comic strip obviously fueled by hatred.”

From the 1944 movie Broadway Rhythm, the Ross Sisters doing Solid Potato Salad. You WILL say, “How did they DO that?”

Here’s THE most interesting thing I ever found in my spam filter:

“Unexpected lessons on the power of obedience—and how grace can fuel it. – HOW TO BE PERFECT, Daniel M. Harrell – One Church’s Audacious Experiment in Living the Old Testament Book of Leviticus. As a longtime minister and preacher who had successfully skirted Leviticus for most of his life, author Daniel Harrell wanted to come to grips with all that Leviticus teaches–not just loving neighbors, but the parts about animal sacrifice, Sabbath-keeping, skin diseases, homosexuality, and stoning sinners, too. Yet rather than approaching Leviticus with a view toward mitigating its commands, he decided to simply obey them.

I still have trouble with Leviticus myself, so this is quite intriguing. Even if I don’t necessarily come to the same conclusions as the author – and there’s a lot here to examine without having read the book – I applaud the effort to tackle it, rather than do what some modern Bible studies do, which is to selectively ignore it.

A revision of Genesis 19.

An edit of Huck Finn that I could get behind. And, BTW, Toni Morrison’s introduction​on to the 1996 Oxford edition of Huck Finn (pdf).

What ‘The Simpsons’ could teach us about global warming

“Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.”
– Marin County newspaper’s TV listing for “The Wizard of Oz”
Video of Eyes on the Prize – Mavis Staples.

The Lydster, Part 83: The $50 Headache

In retrospect, I developed two theories about what happened to Lydia, which are not mutually exclusive.

Back on January 29, my wife and my daughter went down to Saugerties, about an hour south of Albany, to go to the birthday party of her ten-year-old twin cousins, my brother-in-law’s daughters. Carol and Lydia left late and so got to the party about a half-hour after its 2:30 start time.

On the return trip, Lydia complained of a raging headache, which she described as “sharks sawing into my head” and “like I’m dying”. When she got home, she curled up in my arms, not wanting to eat.

The Urgent Care place, unfortunately, closed at 6 pm, so after consulting with her pediatrician, we took his suggestion and ended up going to the emergency room at Albany Med. I can tell Lydia was not faking when she asked me to sit in the back seat of the car with her, which I’ve only done a handful of times since she was three, usually when she’s been sick or injured.

Of course, since there were people in much more obvious distress at the hospital, we ended being there about 2.5 hours. And as she got to watch the Disney Channel at a point when she should have been in bed, she started feeling better, beginning to get her appetite back. A $50 co-pay later, we went home.

In retrospect, I developed two theories about what happened to Lydia, which are not mutually exclusive. One is that she got stressed out at the party, playing with over a dozen kids she did not know, all of whom are older than she is. The other possibility is that she overheard conversations about my mother’s stroke the day before, and developed sympathetic pains. In any case, it made for a long day, between talking to my sisters on the phone, worrying about our mother, and concerned enough about our daughter that we took her to the ER.

Pictures (c)2009, Alexandria Green-House

Movie Anagrams

These aren’t necessarily who I want to win – I’d take Rush over Bale, for one – but who I THINK will win.

During the trivia contest in which a friend regularly participates, one of the categories was ‘movie title anagrams’. Since it’s Oscar week, see how many you can get in the same allotted ten minutes.

1. The Rave Bra
2. That Mixer
3. Tiger Rut
4. Haled Wirer
5. Local Rattle
6. Whale on Plate
7. Mayfly Raid
8. Pan Tool
9. New Tramp Toy
10. Greet a Pest Ache

I won’t approve any quiz answers for the first 24 hours, so everyone will be on equal footing.

I had written about my early Oscar picks here four weeks ago. I had intended to see several more films in the intervening time, but life (and death) got in the way. The only full-length movie I’ve seen since then is Blue Valentine, about which I will write soon. So I guess I’ll let my picks from last month stand: Firth, Bale, Portman and Steinfeld in the acting categories; The Social Network and The King’s Speech in the screenplay categories; The King’s Speech for Best Picture. Which means I have to actually make a selection for Best Director, and my gut says The Social Network’s David Fincher over The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper, with the Academy spreading the wealth. These aren’t necessarily who I want to win – I’d take Rush over Bale, for one – but who I THINK will win.

The Best Picture vote uses Instant Runoff Voting. What does that mean? See HERE.

Civil War books

Blight helps to explain why America today continues to wrestle with the seemingly endless and divisive issue of race, even while a black man resides in the White House.

Late last year, Glenn W LaFantasie came up with The top 12 Civil War books ever written for Salon magazine. A bold list with a lot of caveats (no biographies, no series or multivolume works, no fiction.) And if you’re interested, you can check out his choices, and the four dozen comments about the same.

But I came to a dead stop when he described his #5 book, “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory” by David W. Blight (2001), which I have never read. It’s because the description seems so important to our 21st-century lives in America:

[It] explores how the past is connected to the present by looking at the ways in which Americans have remembered the Civil War. His deeply researched and carefully crafted study argues that after the war white veterans, Union and Confederate, facilitated the reconciliation of the two sections by consciously avoiding the fact that slavery had brought on the sectional conflict, choosing instead to celebrate the courage that they and their comrades had brandished in battle. Less consciously, they and their fellow Americans found this new narrative — this rewriting of history based on a kind of historical amnesia — comforting and restorative. Reunification became a joyful event, but it came at a steep price. After Reconstruction, Northerners and Southerners alike took hold of a “Lost Cause” ideology that showed pity toward the South in its defeat, accepted Jim Crow policies that deprived blacks of their civil rights, and pushed for policies and practices that would ensure white supremacy across the land. Blight carefully avoids grinding axes as he makes his argument, which taken as a whole helps to explain why America today continues to wrestle with the seemingly endless and divisive issue of race, even while a black man resides in the White House. Here is a powerful book, artfully written by a scholar of learned poise who believes that by knowing the past we might better know ourselves.

I was wowed by the description, and if the book is as good as its review, it seems evident that I, and perhaps many of us, should be reading it.

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