January Rambling: Rapturous Research and Sour Apples

My favorite first ABC Wednesday post in a while.

QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Who are the four music artists to have won an Academy Award for an ACTING role and achieving a #1 album in the U.S.? (This excludes people such as Bruce Springsteen and Elton John, who won MUSIC Oscars.)

Arrgh! – the idiots who are the Newtown truthers. Other fools are harassing the guy who took in six children after the Newtown shootings. The Hitler gun control lie. Related: Run, Hide, Fight: Alabama’s video response to mass shootings. Also, Amy’s poem – “If Jesus had had a gun in Gethsamane, would he have taken aim at the guards?”

Gandhi and gambling.

Idle No More 101. What it’s NOT: “An extended Native American Heritage Month, where non-Natives have to act like they’re fascinated by Native culture.”

The power of the Mouse.

Talk about class warfare.

Steve Bissette makes the case for boycotting DragonCon. I’ve never been, but if you have, you will want to read this.

The future king of the Netherlands had visited Albany in 2009.

A video of 15-year-old Noah St. John, winner of the 2012 ‘NPR Snap Judgment Performance of the Year.’ “It’s part performance art, part dramatic monologue, part spoken poetry — ‘storytelling with a beat.'”

I have research rapture, and have had it for a LONG time! “You may pity me if you wish, but my compulsion is relatively mild… I am addicted to looking things up.”

Cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational. One can nitpick over the examples, but it’s still interesting.

The derivation of the phrase to give someone the third degree.

Untangle and disentangle.

Advice on giving advice, especially to teens and tweens.

One performed one of the most popular singles of all time.
One won the Sour Apple Award for Least Cooperative Actor three times but got the Golden Apple Award as Male Star of the Year subsequently.
One is a woman, and possibly the most obvious choice.
One is in a movie that was nominated for the 2012 Academy Awards, though he was not.

Restoring your faith in humanity.

I went to see the touring company of Million Dollar Quartet last week and enjoyed the talk afterward quite a bit.

Cheri’s Facebook rules. They are all commonsensical, and if I cared enough about FB, I’d post them on my Facebook page as well. I still may. And “like” Arthur on Facebook, or don’t; he doesn’t much care.

Aspiring actress Melanie Boudwin. My favorite premiere ABC Wednesday post in a while.

Steve loves reading.

TV weather when the computers are down.

Musicians, beware the rehearsal police.

Before Planet of the Apes; a strange Twilight Zone comic book.

Movie ratings through the years – in video form.

Orson Welles: young, old, drunk, sober…

I never saw any of the 10 Decent Movies That Were Doomed by Unfair Memes, though I wanted to see Scott Pilgrim, and just never got the chance when it was in theaters. But how does John Carter get released without mentioning the Mars angle?

Cookie Monster and Grover take on ‘The Avengers,’ ‘The Hunger Games,’ and more…in song!

Rubber Duckie: the Story Behind Sesame Street’s Iconic Bath Time Tune. But Grover is bitter.

The Doors’ ”Riders On The Storm” in a major key?

Short video background on the Batman TV show.

Please help my friend’s cat to become an LOL cat.

5000 ducks go for a walk.

QUESTION OF THE MONTH ANSWERS: Bing Crosby (who gets mentioned in a blog post next month), Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and Jamie Foxx.

Friend Fred Hembeck is 60

Happy birthday, Fred Hembeck.

This past August, my wife, my daughter, and I got to visit Fred Hembeck and his wife Lynn Moss down in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. This had been an annual event for three or four years, but it had been four years since we last came by. I’m quite sure of that because their daughter Julie was about to go to college the last time we visited, and now she’s graduated. She was also present.

Anyone who has been following Fred’s Facebook page will know, right before Father’s Day 2012, Julie’s left leg was run over by a Mack truck! She went through a variety of treatments, including several different casts and at least three surgeries.

To add insult to injury, quite literally, from Fred: “Because the witnesses who stopped to help Julie drove by just as she was in the middle of the street fleeing the truck, they didn’t see her moments earlier trying to cross in the legal crosswalk, so SHE’S been issued a ticket!” They have had to spring for a lawyer to fight this, and her college town is about five hours away each way, so some unwanted travel as well.

Always glad to see Fred and Lynn at the biannual comic book shows in Albany. I’ve heard, though I haven’t seen it yet, that Fred’s story in Mars Attacks the Holidays is one of the highlights. AND I did not hear that from Fred or Lynn or Julie!

Fred turns 60 about five weeks before I do, so his job is to test the waters to see how it is in the land of the sexagenarians. Happy birthday, effendi.

C is for Cooperation, and Competition

I don’t mind losing, but I DO like to win.

Anyone who knows me casually will likely come to the conclusion that I am a rather cooperative guy, and that would be true. I got a Masters degree in Library Science, a very cooperative field, at a school, not necessarily coincidently, dominated by women students. Whereas, a decade earlier, I had dropped out of a Masters program in Public Administration, where the students were far more competitive, and not so incidentally, far more male.

The classic example: when I would be in the library trying to find a resource in the PA program, and couldn’t find it, there was a good chance that someone else had, and had hidden it to make it more difficult for others; really zero-sum. Whereas the library folks were more of a “high tide lifts all boats” people, that by helping others, one was helping oneself, and the profession.

My cooperativeness, however, ends when it comes to playing games: board games such as SCRABBLE, or especially backgammon. In card games such as hearts and bid whist, I can be a bit ruthless.

I think it’s a function of the fact that my paternal grandmother, who taught me the card game canasta. Once I understood the fundamentals of the game, she played me as though I were an adult. So when I did defeat her, it wasn’t a gimme. Likewise with my great aunt Deanna, with whom I played 500 rummy and Scrabble; my parents, with whom I played pinochle; and my paternal grandfather, with whom I played gin rummy. I sensed they all believed that letting me win would not serve me well. I play my good friend Mary in backgammon these days, and I never attack her position without statistical good cause, but to the untrained observer, it seems to be mean; I never play to be mean. I don’t mind losing, but I DO like to win.

There’s a card game called casino, where one of the objectives is to get the aces. There are four cards on the table, and each player has four cards in hand. My college girlfriend was playing me, and there’s an ace on the table. She went first, the ace remained, so I picked it up on my next turn. But I quickly discovered she had an ace IN HER HAND, with which she could have picked up the ace on the board. “Why didn’t you pick up the ace?” “I wanted you to have it.” I was really ticked off; love was one thing, but one does NOT throw the game.

When I play The Daughter in Sorry or Connect Four board games, I play her the same way, mostly because she has legitimately beaten me, quite often in fact. Whereas she hasn’t figured out the strategy in checkers yet, and I will point out why she oughtn’t to make a particular move. And most unfortunately for me, she really hasn’t gravitated to card games, except for UNO; she beat me twice just last week.

Here’s a great cartoon about cooperation.

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

Movie review: Life of Pi

After making it back home from the Madison Theatre after seeing Wreck-it Ralph, I went back there with my friend Mary, while The Wife and the Daughter went ice skating. We saw Life of Pi, the fifth Best Picture nomination I’ve seen this season.

One thing is for sure – I don’t believe in God any more than I did; that’s a reference to a line in the film. If you have seen the commercial of the young man on a boat with a Bengal tiger, you find out early on that that guy survives, because he’s telling this whole back story to some writer guy. This is only occasionally interesting to me, the growing up at a zoo, though there is an important early scene involving the tiger, and another setup involving swimming.

When the zoo is being moved from India to Canada, and a storm hits that imperils everyone aboard, human and animal, then it gets rather interesting. The bulk of the film is this vegetarian Catholic Hindu trying not to become a meal for this powerful carnivore.

This lengthy segment is alternating tense and quite lovely, with the 3D surprisingly effective. The Daughter would have been quite unsettled had she seen it, even though the film had a PG rating.

I liked this movie more than I think it sounds; it just took me a while to hone in on it, not having read the book on which it is based. All the actors playing Pi were strong, especially Suraj Sharma as the Pi on the boat. It’s quite an interesting, nonlinear tale, involving a mysterious island. It’ll stick with me for a while, I believe.

(Fairly) New in the Dictionary

Those late 19th and early 20th century elixirs had all sort of funky stuff in them.

I was clearing out some old newspapers when I came across the continuation of a story from August about words being added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which I meant to write about at the time. Does that ever happen to you? Here’s the article.

Shown below are some of the words, along with a few thoughts about them. The years indicate first documented use.

aha moment
– n (1939) a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension

Surprised this didn’t make it sooner.

brain cramp
– n (1982): an instance of temporary mental confusion resulting in an error or lapse of judgment

There are some variations on this term that may be more popular.

bucket list
– n (2006): a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying

I was really shocked this was so recent since they’ve made a 2007 movie with this title; check out this website of things you should do before “kicking the bucket”

cloud computing
– n (2006): the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet

I still don’t understand how this work, even though I have some music stored there

– n (2009): a short-lived artificially produced radioactive element that has 112 protons

When they say short-lived, they are not kidding. I think it was measured in nanoseconds. Can this be a real element?

craft beer
– n (1986): a specialty beer produced in limited quantities: MICROBREW

I’ve also heard the term artisan used.

– n (1802) 1: CORN EARWORM 2: a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind

I assume the second usage is a lot more recent.

energy drink
– n (1904): a usually carbonated beverage that typically contains caffeine and other ingredients (as taurine and ginseng) intended to increase the drinker’s energy

Those late 19th and early 20th-century elixirs had all sorts of funky stuff in them.

– n (1999): a handheld electronic device designed to be used for reading e-books and similar material

Maybe someday, I’ll have one…

– n (1988): … used metaphorically as a euphemism

Such a delicately described definition!

– n (1998): one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish

I’ve seen the term, but I’ve never heard anyone actually say it.

game changer
– n (1993): a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way

It’s such an obvious sports metaphor, I figured it would be much older.

– adj (1919) … 2 slang: drained of energy: SPENT, EXHAUSTED

A certain irony that being gassed and being out of gas have similar meanings.

– n (1996): a pub, bar, or tavern that also offers meals of high quality

Never heard anyone ever say this either.

– n (2000): a game in which players are given the geographical coordinates of a cache of items which they search for with a GPS device

This is something I would do, if I had the time. And the right equipment.

life coach
– n (1986): an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems

I probably need one.

man cave
– n (1992): a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities

There was a big to-do in the Albany area when the man cave of a pair of state workers was discovered.

– n (1859): something created by combining elements from two or more sources

I assume the original meaning was about liquor. The current definition, regarding music or video, wasn’t broadly technologically available for that long.

– adj (1986): promoting excessive weight gain: producing obesity

I’ve never seen or heard of this word.

– n (2007): the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone

Something that I hope I don’t have to explain to my daughter.

– adj (1998): of a construction project or site: ready for the start of work

Very popular after the government stimulus program.

systemic risk*
– n (1982): the risk that the failure of one financial institution (as a bank) could cause other interconnected institutions to fail and harm the economy as a whole

The SOBs.

tipping point*
– n (1959): the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place

This always reminded me of a seesaw.

– adj (1664) … 4: relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market

The SOBs, part 2.

– adj (1672) … 3: having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth

I’ve known so many people in this situation in the past three years.
14 wonderful words with no English equivalent.


*Not shown in the newspaper article.