Feel like getting real

I feel somehow out of touch with people glued to their tiny electronic devices, which wouldn’t be so bad except that they are, at the same time, totally oblivious to people around them.

Sometimes I feel out of sync with the culture. I couldn’t pick really put my finger on it until I read this B.A. Nilsson review of a David Bromberg show from November 9. It was less about the specific show, though.

“I have recordings galore at home, yet something magical continues to happen in that confluence of real-time happening and audience presence. By virtue of being in the house, emanating pleasure, we coax a better performance out of the band.

“And I’m here to tell the abundance of cell-phone wielding recordists that no crude video comes even close to the live experience. You’ll never be able to revisit it with as much excitement again, so you might as well keep the f****** things in your pockets. (But you won’t. You’re frightened of primary experiences. You might as well be having sex by mail.)”

It’s that I feel somehow out of touch with people glued to their tiny electronic devices, which wouldn’t be so bad except that they are, at the same time, totally oblivious to people around them. Did you ever listen to a guy speaking near you, and you think he’s talking to you, but he’s on some miniature phone?

I’m not some romantic looking for the days of hand-written letters, but I feel out of time sometimes. I NEED the “primary experiences that Nilsson is talking about. Seeing a concert in person, or watching a movie in a theater is preferable to me; the DVD or Netflix replay is just not the same.

That’s my thoughts at the close of the year 2012. Who knows how I’ll feel a year from now?
***
We lost a lot of musicians that were part of groups & music we knew, but we may not have realized the artists were part of them.

Some of these really COULD make my life easier.

Yes, Arthur, I’m sure your mom WOULD be very proud of you.

December rambling

The 45 Most Powerful Images Of 2012. There are some incredibly inspiring pictures in here, but warning: Some of these may break your heart.

Eddie at Renaissance Geek has melanoma, which he’s having removed tomorrow. For reasons he explains, he’s named his new “friends” (his word) Nigel and Sixtus. Good luck, buddy.

SamuraiFrog writes: “The trailer for Now Is Good promised me only half of what I’m feeling right now, after having watched the film this morning.” Very touching blurring of film review and personal recollection.

On Facebook, I posted A Note to You, Should You Be Thinking of Asking Me to Write For You For Free by John Scalzi, which Jaquandor cited twice this month. It got a LOT of support from creative types.

Batman and the Golden Parachute.

Liberal values.

The last man on the moon was 40 years ago. That was only a 3.5 year period of moon exploration.

Stephen Colbert interviewed Jon Stewart “at the Wellmont Theatre, a fundraiser for the Montclair Film Festival. While the two have discussed their work onstage together before, this was their first lengthy public one-on-one. And despite their 14-year professional relationship, each brought forth stories that surprised both each other and the sold-out audience.”

The power of words.

Pale blue dot (Sagan).

Calendar of meaningful dates.

The 45 Most Powerful Images Of 2012. There are some incredibly inspiring pictures in here, but warning: Some of these may break your heart.

The best (and worst) media errors and corrections of 2012.

Zeitgeist 2012: Year In Review.

Steve Bissette’s Pop Culture Injustices of 2012. Marvel/Disney figures prominently.

Each year around this time, the good folks at Turner Classic Movies release a long, stylish video noting those in the movie business who’ve passed away since January 1.

Arthur@AmeriNZ on Robert Bork, and Dustbury on Fontella Bass, both of whom died this month.

It’s not that I don’t care; it’s just too hard. Literacy Privilege: How I Learned to Check Mine Instead of Making Fun of People’s Grammar on the Internet.

Bokeh? In photography, “basically it is when something is in perfect focus and the background is blurred.”

Mike Sterling’s 9 years of blogging.

Many comic book heroes have roots in the Hudson Valley, the area I went to college. Hmm – have you guessed MY secret identity?

How Superman’s Butt Saved Christmas. “Blame SamuraiFrog for this one, folks — he gave me the title! I deny all accountability,” Jaquandor pleaded. “Except for the part where I write the following tale. Which I’m doing stream-of-conscious, right off the top of my head. No editing.”

Based on the trailer for the new Superman movie, I might actually watch Man of Steel. Don’t think I’ve seen a Superman film since Superman II, more than 30 years ago.

ADD on the end of American Elf.

Paraguay Landfill Harmonic Documentary Features Recycled Orchestra.

Ukulele Orchestra of GB – Fly Me off the Handel.

The opening number of Fiddler on the Roof done in Lego.

The first world problems rap.

Theme from the movie To Kill a Mockingbird by Elmer Bernstein. Some yahoo on the Internet suggested that Atticus Finch was a failed lawyer because his client was convicted. Oy.

He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

GOOGLE ALERTS

An extraordinary entrepreneur and executive in the social services industry with over three decades of diverse professional experience in the field, Roger Green has routinely exhibited the passion, vision, dedication, and diligence necessary to be mentioned among the elite. As a result of his phenomenal body of work, Mr. Green has earned inclusion in the distinguished network of leading professionals with Stanford Who’s Who.

It’s a big world, after all

I got to go to eight states directly as a result of work. But I also missed out on the farthest state away for the same reason.

Arthur@AmeriNZ said: Okay, I haven’t participated in awhile, so: If you could pick one thing to do that you haven’t yet done in your life, what would it be and why? It could be a single event (bungy jumping in Skippers Canyon), or it could be a project or process. I’m interested in what you haven’t done that you’d like to do/wish you could do.

Travel.

Next question.

OK, maybe I should expand on this.

Here’s a map I made in 2008, right after I visited Illinois, and your former city of Chicago, for the first time. It showed that I had visited 30 of the 50 states. Now, four years later, I have visited 30 of the 50 states. My desire is to visit all 50, and I’ve made zero progress.

Related: my wife made my daughter a promise that she would visit all 50 states by the time she’s 18; she’s almost nine and she’s only been to 11, all between Vermont and North Carolina.

Now that the house is paid off, we need to save money to go west and see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park. My wife has seen Mount Rushmore, but she’d go to South Dakota and see it again with The Daughter and me.

Also related: as I explained to Scott: “I want to go to every Major League Baseball park in the same year.” I might end up breaking it up in chunks, but my thought then was to fly to Seattle (check off Washington), take the train south (stop somewhere in Oregon – check) to the 5 California teams, then to Arizona (check), Colorado, Texas, Florida, Georgia, followed by the Midwest, starting with Missouri (check), through Iowa (check), catching Minnesota (my father-in-law’s favorite team – check) and ending in the east.

I noted that I got to go to eight states directly as a result of work. But I also missed out on the farthest state away for the same reason.

Back when Carol, then my girlfriend, was working in the insurance industry, she studied to get a series of designations. She completed her coursework and was rewarded with a trip for two to Hawaii! Who wouldn’t want to go to paradise with his Significant Other?

Unfortunately, that trip coincided with a trip to New Orleans of the Association of Small Business Development Centers. As the person who was the liaison to the other SBDC programs in the country for our library, I should have been going on that trip. But my new boss said no, that she and her chosen favorite – she was very much like that – would be going, and that we could not afford to have more than two of the six or seven librarians out of the office at the same time for three or four days.

Carol wanted me to ask if she’d let me go to Hawaii with her. My thought process was if my boss said no to New Orleans because that would leave us short-staffed, then she’d say no to Hawaii for the same reason, and that I’d lose ANY chance of going to New Orleans as well. Despite my attempts to explain, I don’t think Carol truly understood my office dynamics at the time.

As it turned out, Carol went to Hawaii with my parents, and I ended up going to New Orleans, not because of the reasons I suggested, but because the two women who were going would be hauling a lot of heavy equipment with them, and they needed someone to help schlep it.

Another place I regretted not going to was Puerto Rico. My sister, her husband at the time, and her daughter lived there for six or seven years. I should have invited myself down.

Beyond the US, I’ve been to two Canadian provinces, albeit the most populated ones, Mexico, and Barbados. That’s it! I’d love to go to Paris, Rome, London, and Tokyo. Now that it’s not at war, I’d be interested in visiting Liberia, which was populated by ex-slaves from the US.

Conversely, in the past decade, my friend Karen has been to India, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Turkey, and is currently in Burma.

Arthur, you said on a recent podcast, and I’m paraphrasing here: “In 1994, if you told me I’d be moving halfway around the world a couple of years later, I would have told you that you were crazy.” Yet you packed up and moved to New Zealand, eventually getting married and doing that dual citizenship thing. I still find that remarkable.

Jack Klugman died on Serling Day Eve

In 1989, Jack Klugman underwent surgery again to remove the cancer, but this time his right vocal cord had to be removed as well. The surgery left him without the ability to speak…

My fondness for actor Jack Klugman, who died on Serling Day Eve, was quite great. He appeared in four different episodes of the classic television show The Twilight Zone, which I own on DVD. Watch a couple of minutes of In Praise of Pip.

I also possess, on DVD, the classic 1957 murder trial film 12 Angry Men, with a cast that was, or would become, name actors. Klugman was juror #5, the soft-spoken young man, who provides pivotal insight. Watch a brief clip.

Much later, using his fame as Quincy, the fictional medical examiner, the actor had a positive impact on the US legislative process dealing with so-called orphan diseases.

Of course, he was best known as Oscar Madison, the slob sportswriter half of TV’s underrated comedy, The Odd Couple, with Tony Randall as the fastidious photographer Felix Unger. The senior writer of the (Albany, NY) Times Union, Mark McGuire, has been both an entertainment writer and a sportswriter for the newspaper. One of his favorite segments involves them on the game show Password [watch].

McGuire wrote on his Facebook page: “… one of my favorite memories of being a TV columnist was having breakfast with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall at The Plaza maybe a dozen years ago. I later talked to Jack several times over the years, including the day Tony died. A few years ago I introduced Jack to the concept of ‘Odd Couple Day’… which he loved.” From the intro of the show: “On Nov. 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. …” That intro came from ABC censors, as McGuire explained, “lest anyone thought they were gay.”

From the Oral Cancer Foundation website: “He was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx in 1974. With surgery and some treatment, he was able to continue acting without much interruption. But Klugman did not stop smoking, and as in many cases of continued tobacco use after treatment, the cancer came back. In 1989, he underwent surgery again to remove the cancer, but this time his right vocal cord had to be removed as well. The surgery left him without the ability to speak… His friends and loved ones helped him through the agonizing pain of the chemotherapy and surgery as well as the rehabilitation to recover his voice. After being silent for years, Klugman is now able to speak in a small raspy voice. He recently received the American Speech and Hearing Association’s International Media Award for his battle to regain his speech.”

It’s little wonder that there was, for about three years, a Church of Klugman.
***
Charles Durning, nominated twice for an Oscar nominee, dubbed the king of the character actors, was a war hero (Normandy, Battle of the Bulge) who didn’t even become an actor until he was 40. I saw him most regularly on the television program Evening Shade with Burt Reynolds, but he appeared in dozens of TV shows, often, but not always, as the heavy. I saw him in, among other movies, The Sting, Starting Over, and Tootsie. Never saw this scene from the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, though. Charles Durning died at 89 on Christmas Eve.

Guns in every school?

There are about 300 million guns in the US, nearly one for every man, woman and child in the country. ABC News has noted that, even if a gun control law were passed tomorrow, those extant guns aren’t going to disappear.

Tom the Mayor, my old FantaCo and YMCA buddy, asks: How do you feel about the NRA’s idea of having guns in every school, you being a parent. I think they are vile and evil.

I’m not keen on the NRA’s idea. I like what Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams had to say: Keep your guns out of my school! Among other things, the armed guards, in schools and elsewhere, are often early targets for would-be mass killers. I worry that having armed guards will accelerate the problem. And the foolish notion of making the teachers into a militia is beyond the scope of the job, when they have been given increasing responsibilities for – ready for it – teaching.

If we have armed guards in every school, where will the money come from? The strains on school budgets NOW are enormous. Now, if the NRA is willing to PAY for all of these people, MAYBE we can talk about it. (Nah, not even then.) Who will these people be, anyway? A police officer, with a level of training in situational behavior, or a rent-a-cop who just knows how to take target practice well?

The fact is I heard that about a third of schools already have armed personnel, according to NBC News. Columbine had at least one armed guard during the massacre at the high school in 1999.

Ultimately, I think that the NRA and other pro-gun advocates have been disingenuous; MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell explains it well. The implication is that more guns will keep everyone safe; clearly untrue. The Fort Hood shootings represent an apt example.

There are about 300 million guns in the US, nearly one for every man, woman, and child in the country. ABC News has noted that, even if a gun control law were passed tomorrow, those extant guns aren’t going to disappear. It would be foolish, though, to do nothing.

I have a friend who grew up in Newtown, Connecticut. and still has friends there. It’s difficult that “this horror happen in such a quiet, ordinary town.” I remember writing about the all-but-forgotten mass murder in MY hometown less than four years ago. I wrote that, on Binghamton’s newspaper’s website, “along with expressions of sympathy, distress about the human condition, requests for more help for the mentally ill, and people on both sides of the gun control issue…” This is why I despair about anything ever-changing; every gun tragedy generates the same damn conversation.

And it’s ONLY because six-year-old children were many of the victims that I have any hope that that, maybe, just maybe, things WILL be different this time.

And though you didn’t ask, I figure I’ll sound off on another topic: violent video games. I’m not a gamer, but I listened to the whole podcast when Chris (Lefty) and Kelly Brown discussed certain hazards they have faced;…how video games nearly shattered their marriage and the lessons learned… . This was all very good.

Lefty also discusses the tragedy in Newton, CT, and what it means for video games. He believes that the video games that simulate killing other people are, or should be, kept away from small children. I’m not convinced this is actually happening. I remember going to the mall some years ago and my 12-year-old niece was playing some game I can only describe as gruesome. She’s turned out all right, but I’m not convinced that’s true of all the teenagers who surely get to play them. This adult gamer notes that kids have been playing “cowboys and Indians” or “army men” for decades with no ill effect. I myself had a Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army), and I grew up to be a pacifist. But playing war just wasn’t that graphic. If kids have seen 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence via movies, TV shows, music videos, and video games, is it likely that at least some of them might be negatively impacted?

Jaquandor asked a few questions. I’ll take the first one here, and the others down the road:

I see the question’s already asked, but: Guns. What on Earth to do about them?

I was going to ask Superman to take a giant magnet and collect them all.

Seriously, limiting the type of guns and the sometimes magazines they use would be a start. Some communities have gun buybacks, which I favor. I know those Second Amendment folks think the Constitution is absolute, but as I said recently, Amendment 2 is no more absolute than the First Amendment. We limit certain types of speech to maintain a safer society, but we can’t with guns?

There’s that recent shooting in, roughly, your neck of the woods, in Webster, NY, just outside Rochester. Coincidentally, that’s where my wife was born, and where my best friend from college grew up. Four firefighters shot, two fatally, responding to a house fire, set deliberately so some schmuck could shoot the responders, and so he could burn down as much of the neighborhood as possible, with at least seven houses ultimately destroyed. One of the guns he used was the same type of high-powered weapon used on children and teachers in Newtown, CT. MORE guns would not have solved that situation either.