All Hallows Eve 2012

The Daughter will go out tonight, but because of her peanut allergy, she generally gets to keep less than 50% of her haul; her mother gets the rest.

For all my lifetime, through 2006, the end of Daylight Saving Time in most of the United States was on the last Sunday in October. But thanks to the powerful candy lobby, which wants children to be able to trick or treat on Halloween with more daylight, and its ally, the dentist lobby, which wants children to rot their teeth, it’s been pushed back to the first Monday in November. It’s this time of year that always confuses me in terms of what time it in other countries, since the start and end of DST/British Summer Time does not happen simultaneously. Go to this site to see what time it is around the world.

Glad to see that Mark Evanier has ended his war on candy corn.; well, almost. He still doesn’t like it, but as long as he doesn’t have to eat it, he doesn’t care if you do. I happen to like it, in moderation. Can’t seem to find a decent video of I Don’t Like Candy Corn by Moose and Zee from Nick Jr., which I remember watching with my daughter a few years back.

The Daughter will go out tonight, but because of her peanut allergy, she generally gets to keep less than 50% of her haul; her mother gets the rest. She’s going as a soccer player, BTW, which is a bit of a cheat since she IS.

Here’s something I may not have mentioned; I don’t particularly like peanut butter. Actually, that’s not true – I HATE peanut butter. Odd thing is that I loved it as a kid, specifically Jif. I remember eating it when I was three or four. I think I must have had too much at some point because now the smell makes me nauseous, and the taste is intolerable. I’m not allergic; I can eat peanuts, though I don’t love them.

I’ve dressed up for Halloween as an adult, but not for at least a decade.

Having never seen a movie from the Halloween movie series, I’m not planning to start now. Yet I know more about the series than I care to because FantaCo, where I worked in the 1980s, sold a number of Michael Myers masks, and other items of interest. But my buddy Steve Bissette revisits the film, and also reviews 2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA (2012).

Go search SamuraiFrog’s blog for Halloween goodness. Then, courtesy of Jaquandor, listen to spooky music – if you dare!

The Library of Congress: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows
The Food and Drug Administration: Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents
The Census Bureau: Facts for Features: Halloween

October Rambling: Name That Tune

Me, uncharacteristically, if not ahead of the curve, at least with it.

Briticisms in American English.

Black and White Vernacular in American Sign Language.

Give this man a Silver Star; a future President got one.

I want to tell you something about the future. “It will either be: A mind-bendingly awesome; utopian landscape where all of Earth’s problems have been resolved and technology and humanity have evolved to create harmony. Or it might be a f@#$ed-up dystopian nightmare.” Gotta say that I’ve tired of the latter portrayal, but these movie clips are still interesting.

Erich Von Stroheim Radio Broadcast (1948) Talks about the Death of D.W. GRIFFITH, the early and controversial filmmaker.

Why film critic Roger Ebert won’t stick to his knitting, talking about (GASP!) politics when he “should” be limiting himself to movie reviews.

Sad that Alex Karras died. Followed him as an All-Pro defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, on “Monday Night Football”, and as an actor in the movie Blazing Saddles.

Being hit on by a swinger couple. Actually, a lovely piece by Ken Levine on the phenomenon of storytelling. He also wrote a lovely tribute to the late NBC exec Brandon Tartikoff, which also explains why so much of today’s TV is lousy.

What IS the name of that mysterious music? YOU’VE heard it – it’s the thing playing HERE and HERE and even HERE. I’ve finally discovered from various sources that it’s called Mysterioso Pizzicato, a/k/a Here comes the villain. It was first published in the ‘Remick Folio of Moving Picture Music, vol. I,’ in 1914, compiled and edited by one J. Bodewalt Lampe, who may (or may not) have written it. The tune was used as background to scary scenes in silent movies.

The Beethoven Mystery: Why haven’t we figured out his Ninth Symphony yet?

“Perfessor​” Bill Edward: Profession​al Purveyor of Pianistic Pyrotechni​cs.

The website for CBS Television City in Hollywood; fascinating history, which you can also see in this video.

Mark Evanier’s mother died at the age of 90. “Someone… might think, ‘Hey, smoking can’t be that bad if Mark’s mother smoked 75 years and made it to age 90.’ Yeah, but for about the last fifteen, she could barely walk and barely see.” He’s been writing a series called Tales of My Mother. The fourth one, about her and the TV show LA Law and Jimmy Smits, is a particular hoot, but they are all worth reading.

Glenn Fleishman describes what it’s like to be on the game show Jeopardy! Here are Jeopardy’s most memorable moments, including what happens if a certain person says something.

Ray Bradbury matches wits with Groucho Marx.

Charles Darwin And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Every Infomercial Ever.

Matching birthday probabilities and Johnny Carson.

Let’s look at the rise of Gangham Style and how media events and social networks can trigger massive sharing. I noticed that I blogged about it on August 15, which put me, uncharacteristically, if not ahead of the curve, at least with it. Then, of course, I find some real life Simpsons opening from June, and I realize, nope, still behind the curve.

Chuck Miller explains why 45s have big holes in the center, while vinyl albums have small holes.

The Marshmallo​w Test.

25 Foods You’ll Never Be Able To Eat Again. I never had most of these, though I did try Apple Newtons a few times.

Jaquandor writes about the superhero cat named Little Bootie; oh, and technology. Also, a pie to the face; no, I don’t quite understand, but it seems to make him SO happy.


Robots shut down live broadcast of scfi award ceremony.

An unwitting participant in an international travesty.

RFID; the F does NOT mean freedom, or foolproof. This one got excerpted in the newspaper.

What if the technology went away?

Scanning whole books is fair use?

Obviously, we WERE a Christian nation. Ask a Native American.


In his attempt to compose a soundtrack to a novel — Lair Hunt’s The Impossibly — Roger Green, with the help of Mark Harris on saxophone and bass clarinet…

Roger Green and Associates, Inc.
Attribute importance is a key information need for marketers. An understanding of attribute importance can help explain physician prescribing, it can help identify …

P is for (Helicopter) Parenting

There are some parents to deign to raise what have been dubbed free-range kids, children who get around on their own, pretty much as I did when I was eight or nine.

One of the things I want for my daughter is room for her to find her own way, without her mother or me hovering about. Yet I find myself looking out the window of our house, checking our own back yard, making sure she’s OK. I’m trying not to be a helicopter parent, testing the line between consciousness and overparenting.

Here’s a fact: more kids ride to school than ever before. “The most recent data on active transportation among school-age children represent a significant decrease since 1969. The number of students walking and biking to school has decreased more than three-fold over the past few decades, from 41 percent of students in 1969 to only 13 percent of students in 2001.” Surely, part of this is a function of consolidated school districts, which are generally larger. But one parent on our street acknowledges driving her child the few blocks to the school.

I can’t help but think that much of this trend stems from a six-year-old boy named Etan Patz. He walked to school in 1979 in New York City and never came home; it was only in 2012 that someone has confessed to killing the child at that time. Etan Patz was the first missing child to appear on a milk carton. In those days, one had to wait 12 or 24 hours before the police would truly respond to a missing persons report. But after other high-profile crimes, there are amber alerts that take the info about a missing child across the region, or even across the country, almost instantly.

There are some parents to deign to raise what has been dubbed free-range kids, children who get around on their own, pretty much as I did when I was eight or nine, going off to the playground with no parental or other adult supervision. And I did that before the days of cellphones. These current parents have been highly criticized in some circles. What if something happens?

I find myself regularly conflicted between safety and a more laissez-faire attitude.

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

Video reviews: Iron Man 2 and The Parent Trap

Maureen O’Hara is gorgeous in The Parent Trap.

The Parent Trap (1961), if I saw it – and surely I MUST have seen it at some point – mustn’t I? – I watched SO long ago that the details are surely erased from my memory. It was a Disney film starring Hayley Mills… and Hayley Mills! I DO recall that ad campaign. The script was based on Das Doppelte Lottchen, a novel by Erich Kastner, that had been made into British and German films, using twin girls.

Two girls, one from tony Boston, the other from freewheeling California, meet at a summer camp and take an instant dislike to each other. Each just doesn’t like that other girl with her face. Antics ensue, including a social event with the boys from a neighboring camp, ruined by the duo.

Forced to spend time together in isolation, Sharon and Susan discover they have the exact same birthday… and the same mother! They figure out that their parents separated when they were infants, with Sharon staying with their mother, and Susan off with their dad. They decide to switch places, which involves Susan cutting Sharon’s hair, in order to get their parents back together.

Susan gets to spend time with her mother (Maureen O’Hara), grandmother (Cathleen Nesbitt), and grandfather (Charlie Ruggles), who is the first to uncover the scheme. Meanwhile, Sharon finally sees dad (Brian Keith) on his ranch. His housekeeper (Una Merkel) notices a “change” in the girl. But trouble is brewing: Dad is engaged to some gold digger named Vicki (Joanna Barnes).

Eventually, Susan and mom head west, and the plot goes from there.

The not-so-good:
It’s too long! At 129 minutes, we watched it in two sittings. I would have cut some parts of the 30-minute set-up.
A couple of the songs, by Richard and Robert Sherman, were period pieces, and not very impressive.
For both of these, I blame Uncle Walt. I discovered, from the extras disc, that the movie lacked a title song for a good while. One working title was Let’s Get Together; the Sherman Brothers wrote a song by that name, and then Walt insisted that director David Swift insert the song into the movie, not once, but twice. As sung by Annette Funicello, it’s on a record at the dance; as sung by Susan and Sharon, (unconvincingly) playing guitar and piano, it’s a serenade to mom and dad.
The ultimate title song, performed by Tommy Sands and Annette, isn’t great either.

The quite good:
The winning cast. In spite of the implausibility that parents would keep the sisters’ existence from each other, and the unlikely coincidence of the meeting, good chemistry between the siblings, and with their family.
Hayley playing opposite Hayley, much more difficult in the day than it would be now, was quite effective. The filmmakers, I discovered, looked for some physical background, such as a wall design so that if the matting weren’t perfect, it wouldn’t be as obvious.
From the extra disc: highly entertaining six minutes with Susan Henning, who played Hayley’s double, who only appeared on-screen when one girl was at an angle to the other, or when you saw one girl’s back. She is uncredited in the film, but Walt Disney himself gave her a special trophy at the end of the shoot.
The other Sherman Brothers song, For Now for Always, sung by Maureen O’Hara, as mom recalls the first date with dad, is lovely. This too was a title song contender. Speaking of lovely, O’Hara is gorgeous in this film, more beautiful at 40 than the 26-year-old Barnes.

I think this review is largely accurate, especially with regards to the extras, although the disc I rented paired Parent Trap with its 1986 TV sequel.
Which brings me to:
The Parent Trap II (1986). A quarter century after Susan and Sharon’s successful maneuver, a now divorced Sharon (Hayley Mills) wants to move to NYC for her job. Her daughter Nicki fears losing her best friend Mary, unless Sharon marries Mary’s dad Bill (Tom Skerritt); then they would be sisters. They get aunt Susan (Hayley Mills), who is married, to pretend to be Sharon to get him interest in Sharon. Wha?

The motivation for Susan is so non-existent. It’s one thing to get her parents, who were once married, BACK together again. This matchmaking, though, is bizarre. The film had the feel of a clunky 1980s TV movie because it is. There is one rather funny scene near the end, but both the Daughter and I were either bored or confused through much of this.
Iron Man 2 (2010) was OK. I LOVED the first film but was concerned about the big reveal at the end that Tony Stark was Iron Man. In this iteration, Tony tangles with a self-important Senator (Gary Shandling) and a military weapons expert (Sam Rockwell). Can the secrets of the powerful Iron Man suits fall into the wrong hands? Apparently so, as Ivan (Mickey Rourke), son of Tony’s father’s colleague, poses a serious threat.

Meanwhile, Lt. Rhodes (now played by Don Cheadle) gets all conflicted about his obligations to the military and to his friend Tony. Does Tony just give Stark Industries to his secretary, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)?! And what’s the story with Stark Industries legal consultant Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson)? It all made sense at the end but felt convoluted along the way.

Oh, and obviously, I was supposed to have seen this BEFORE the Thor movie. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) continues to be involved in the mix. In any case, I think I’m now finally ready to see the Avengers movie.

40 Years Ago: October 1972 – The Draft Board

Since my draft number was so low (002), I thought I would be doing some sort of alternative service in 1973.


After getting a letter from the Selective Service, a/k/a, the draft board, indicating that I was reclassified 1-A (eligible for military service) over the summer, I filed an appeal. Though I was living in my college town of New Paltz, NY, I had to return to my hometown of Binghamton, NY.

There were three men on the draft board. The chairman said that his daughter talked about me all the time when we were in high school; I was president of student government and involved in the theater club, among other things. Did I remember her? I said, “Oh, yeah!” I had no idea who she was, at least by name, though maybe I would have recognized her by sight.

One guy said, after introducing himself, said absolutely nothing.

The third man was Garland Hamlin. This was a man I had known all my life. We attended the same church. His wife was organist at that church, and she had tried for about a year to teach me to play piano, so I had been in the Hamlin house dozens of times. I went to school with his two daughters. So I believe that he found it necessary to ask the toughest questions.

I know that he invoked Hitler. He wondered if a Hitler were attacking my mother what I would do. I said I would defend her, but that was different than initiating conflict by going to war.

Around the same time, I had to go for my military physical in Syracuse, NY, which I passed. even though I have a minor heart murmur which I’ve lived with since I was born; the doctor didn’t even notice until I had brought it to his attention.

It did take them a month to ascertain that I was moral enough to go to war. I was asked if had ever given money to a variety of groups, only two of which I had even heard of, the Communist Party of the USA and the Socialist Workers Party. I certainly spent some nominal amount on an antiwar button or two from the SWP, so I wrote yes re: them.

Finally, the word came from the draft board. I was reclassified 1-A-O, a conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service only. I’m sure it was vital that I had indicated my CO status when I had first registered for the draft a year and a half earlier. My thanks to Jean Hagopian, mother of my friend Amy, who was my informal draft counselor through this period.

Here’s the kicker, though. Since my draft number was so low (002), I thought I would be doing some sort of alternative service in 1973. But since the Vietnam war was winding down, and there were many older people whose temporary deferments had lapsed, they drafted NO ONE born in 1953 before the draft law ended on June 30, 1973. Moreover, on January 27, 1973, Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird announced the creation of an all-volunteer armed forces, negating the need for the military draft. So all of that rigamarole had been for nothing, as it turned out.

Those were interesting times.

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