February rambling: expats, and the end of “Parenthood”


How America’s Sporting Events Have Turned into Mass Religious Events to Bless Wars and Militarism. Amen.

The Weekly Sift analyzes what the Atlantic article “What ISIS Really Wants” gets right and gets wrong. Also, ISIS Bans Teaching Evolution In Schools in Mosul, as well as art, music, history, literature and, of course, Christianity.

American ISIS: The Domestic Terrorist Fallout of the Iraq War.

Melanie: A Modern Day Scarlet Pimpernel and Human Trafficking.

Something most Americans know little or nothing about: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the latest trade deal being cooked up in secret by big corporations and their lobbyists.

John Oliver Eviscerates the Stunningly Corrupt Practices of Big Pharma. This IS journalism. I also LOVE how he takes on Big Tobacco and their bullying tactics internationally.

Here are Remarks by the President at National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2015. Obama Attacked for Telling the Truth about Christianity’s Bloody History and The Foolish, Historically Illiterate, Incredible Response to Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Speech. True this: Using religion to brutalize other people is not a Muslim invention, nor is it foreign to the American experience.

Is The Phrase ‘Playing The Race Card’ As Racist As It Sounds? You Bet It Is.

A Latin motto for Vermont? “I thought Vermont was American, not Latin?”

When a Puerto Rican Wins the Powerball.

When Hate Stays in the Closet: “Answering the most sympathetic and reasonable arguments against same-sex marriage.”

A cautionary tale: How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life.

Amy Biancolli: The Weight of a Ring.

Uthaclena: Truth in Advertising, or The Eyes Have It.

Dear Student: Should Your Granny Die Before The Midterm … “Grandmothers are 10 times more likely to die before a midterm, and 19 times more likely to die before a final exam. Grannies of students who weren’t doing well in their classes were at even higher risk of meeting their maker.”

3 Tips For Being Awake In A World That Is Asleep.

Learning stuff.

Nancy Frank, organist at First Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY, retires after 42 years. Not only is she a fine organist, but a great person as well.

Watch Middle School Kids Play A Led Zeppelin Medley … On Xylophones.

Vogue’s The 10 Greatest Oscar-Winning Songs of All Time.

Bob Dylan’s Full MusiCares Speech: How He Wrote the Songs.

Jaquandor is ranking the Bond songs!

The Real Instrument Behind The Sound In ‘Good Vibrations’.

Chuck Miller on the redemptive quality of Allan Sherman.

One of my favorite TV shows, Parenthood, ended this past month. Deleted Scenes Show Seth’s Return, Sarah’s Roast, and More.

Gary Owens of Laugh-In fame, RIP. Mark Evanier’s piece, and a story with Evanier’s mom, and the short-lived show Letters to Laugh-In. Plus Ken Levine’s appreciation.

What happens to someone who goes on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and loses $225,000?

Clowns: Beware of the Unicycling Clown and The Toronto Circus Riot of 1855.

Muppets: Miss Piggy and Constantine, the World’s Most Dangerous Frog, accept an award, and I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu) and Cookie Monster Chase. Also, ‘Big Birdman’ starring Caroll Spinney and Big Bird [Birdman Spoof] plus Simply Delicious Shower Thoughts with Cookie Monster and I’m Going To Go Back There Someday and The Muppet Movie can’t hide a soft heart beneath the silly gags. Finally, a Sesame Street discography.

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.

Video Artist Eran Amir made this video that looks like magical things seem to happen because the video is being run in reverse — but this is not running in reverse…


Somehow, I have helped to encourage SamuraiFrog to compile a ranking of all of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s songs. THIS is a good thing that I will share with The Daughter.

Arthur wrote a GREAT piece, E is for Expat, about being a stranger in a strange land and how that changes over time, quoting others, as well as noting his own experiences.

Jaquandor answers my questions about changing his mind, but not about pie.


Roger Green, from Sudbury, was named as the regional winner of the Churches Conservation Trust Volunteer Award… This is in recognition of the work he has done for St Peter’s Church, Sudbury, where he chairs the Friends’ group, facilitates regular markets, festivals, concerts and theatre productions, and has helped boost visitor numbers to around 60,000 a year.

Lenten music Friday: Leonard Bernstein’s Mass

Was Leonard Bernstein’s Mass a “brilliant failure”?

leonard.bernsteinIt started with an e-mail I sent to Dustbury about some guy complaining that a piece of sacred music that sounds like the theme of My Little Pony; Dustbury wrote about this. He then replied to me, “I imagine he also didn’t like Leonard Bernstein’s 1971 Mass, and especially this [LISTEN].

I agreed that the original writer was unnecessarily fussy. “He probably hates the mass in the vernacular. But the church has tried to be with it.” Saint Thomas of Lehrer, e.g. [LISTEN].

But that taste of Bernstein’s Mass made me have to LISTEN to the whole Mass. (The version of the excerpted bit above starts at 55:00.) It is fascinating, strange.

Someone told me recently that the Mass was a “brilliant failure.” I’m not sure I LIKE it, exactly/entirely, and I’d be hard-pressed to sit through the whole thing in one sitting because a little of it sometimes goes a long way. But as Dustbury noted: “Even a revised ritual is still a ritual.”

Those televised Young People’s Concerts for CBS-TV, conducted by Bernstein, were huge for my appreciation of classical music when I was growing up. And, of course, I adore West Side Story. I have a lion named Lenny, whose mane reminds me of the late conductor’s hair.

One last thing: the full Mass is part of something called the Proms. I would have had no idea what that meant except that I had read something from Melanie on that very topic, that she listens to them on BBC Radio.

The Lydster, Part 131: Connect Four and Monopoly

The Daughter just lacks the cutthroat instinct for Monopoly.

connect-fourAn MIT Student Creates a Robot That Plays Connect Four for a Course Final. And it wins fairly often. But it’s not playing The Daughter, who beats me a good 2/3s of the time. For those of you unfamiliar, the goal is to get four of your checkers in a row, in any direction. (In the example, black has a Connect Four diagonally.)

She was home from school recently for a teacher conference, and her friend came over as well so that her parents could go to work. The last time I suggested we play Monopoly, she tried it and quit after an hour. But she’d played at her friend’s house recently, and liked it.

She was winning, too, while her friend was losing. But instead of knocking her friend out of the game, The Daughter kept giving her money. Eventually, this caught up to The Daughter’s bottom line, when she landed on some of my hotels, and I ended up winning, though it took hours before I finally wiped her out. She didn’t want to be a quitter, but I wouldn’t have minded if she had relented an hour sooner. She said she wasn’t good at the game, but that’s not entirely true; she just lacks the cutthroat instinct.

Three-fifths of a person

“Representatives… shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

three-fifthsWhen I was vamping while waiting for the speaker for an Adult Education class during Black History Month at my church, I preemptively pointed out that the reason we STILL talk about these issues is that they are not always that well known.

Making a very tangential point, I mentioned in passing the Three-Fifth Compromise. I took this on faith that everyone knew what I was talking about. It was in the original US Constitution:

Article 1, Section 2:
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other Persons.”

Those “all other persons” were slaves. It was not changed until the Fourteenth Amendment, passed by Congress on June 13, 1866, and ratified on July 9, 1868.

However, there were a couple of people who did not know this piece of Americana. So the conversation inadvertently proved the point.

“Black history IS American history” has become the mantra of both who want to continue Black History Month, and those who think it’s “been done.” The latter say, “We know about George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King already.”

To that end, I recommend checking out Filling In the Gaps in American History, which is “a collection of biographies, experiences, commentaries and behind the scenes looks at events in American History dealing with people of African descent that are generally not recorded in history texts.”

Jacqui C. Williams, FIGAH founding director, writes: “There were artists, inventors, activists, educators, women, and men of faith, cowboys, stagecoach drivers, law enforcement officers, entrepreneurs and more who contributed to the creation and development of this land over and above the labor of those enslaved. I did not read of them in my history classes…”

Speaking of history, All Over Albany did a piece on Stephen Myers for Black History Month.

And I came across Civil Rights: Holding the Hands of History. It’s a Facebook Community Page about Viola Liuzzo by her daughter Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe. Viola Liuzzo was a white Detroit housewife who was shot to death by Ku Klux Klan members following the voting rights march in Alabama, the march depicted in the movie “Selma.”

From there, I found the blog of Tara Ochs, who plays Viola in the movie. Check out, especially, her posts from 2014 forward.

The Gospel according to the Beatles, Sunday, March 1

There will be musical revue of The Gospel according to the Beatles on Sunday, March 1 at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 362 State Street.

Gospel according to the Beatles

There will be a musical revue of The Gospel according to the Beatles on Sunday, March 1 at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 362 State, corner of Willett Street in Albany, across from Washington Park in Albany, NY. It is an original musical adaptation by director Christy D’Ambrosio, performed by the youth of the church. The narrative is based upon the book The Gospel According to the Beatles, written by Steve Turner.

Orchestration is provided by Christian Diefendorf. Instruments provided by Christopher Trombley, John Keal Music. Theatrical Ramp designed & constructed by John Myers. Costumes provided by The Costumer.