March Rambling: a quintillion or a trillion?

Fred Hembeck talks about a compilation of his Marvel work, House of Hem.

Delayed exoneration of a death row inmate, after 30 years.

9 Things Many Americans Just Don’t Grasp (Compared to the Rest of the World).

“The phone rang. It was my college rapist.”

What Happens When Mein Kampf’s Copyright Expires?

Building Equity: Race, Ethnicity, Class and Protected Bike Lanes.

Giving Homes to the Homeless is Cheaper Than Leaving them on the Street.

Man vs. Machine. A guy walks into a bar. He finds a video poker machine – run by the Oregon state lottery – which dealt him a strange hand.

Re: NCAA men’s basketball March Madness, the odds of a perfect bracket? It’s not 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Not incidentally, 10^18, or one followed by 18 zeroes is in the English system, one trillion. In any case, 9.2 quintillion is NOT 9.20000000000000000000, as NBC Nightly News showed earlier this month; THAT number is equal to a number smaller than 10.

Dustbury explained +/- (plus/minus) in basketball to me: “It’s based on the changing score during a player’s actual time: if, during a six-minute period in which he plays, if his team scores three points more than the opposition, he is +3. This of course varies greatly with substitutions, but electronic box scores update every minute or so.”

John Oliver won’t be your therapist: How he torpedoed the reassuring tropes of fake news.

Selma: the tragic anniversary of the death of Viola Liuzzo and Underground Railroad Project remembers the March.

Joseph Skulan on Wisconsin Mining Bill AB486 (2.17.12).

Major League Baseball’s Dirty Little Secret and Through the No-Looking Glass and Professional Ice Cream Taster.

25 maps that explain the English language.

Jaquandor: Writing Outside the Lines: on outlines. Plus the beer-drinking, 1970s sitcom DVD-watching Hank Speaks: How I Edit.

Dustbury hears voices; I’ve experienced this, too.

Gordon’s eight years in Chicago.

For all you lovers of the dance: here is an explanation of the influence of Africa on modern dance – if you have three hours to spare.

The Beatles or the Stones: Which Side Are You On? “If the Stones resented the Beatles’ cultural primacy, the Beatles resented the Stones’ unassailable coolness and sexual heat.” The Beatles themselves were like other men, but the music and lyrics channeled through them contained magic and messages from beyond the mind.

“Back when L.A.’s recording scene was a hit-minting machine that ruled the airwaves,” the Wrecking Crew worked up to four three-hour sessions a day. Here’s a review of a film about them.

Not only Diana Ross but also Mary Wilson turned 71 this month. 10 underrated Supremes songs.

SamuraiFrog ranks the Weird Al Yankovic songs: 165-151 and 150-136 and 135-126 and 125-116.

Art Spiegelman and jazz composer Phillip Johnston: “Wordless!”

Swamp Thing music.

The cover art on your favorite band’s album is awesome. It’s even better with cats. Must show the Daughter.

My friend Fred Hembeck is interviewed, and talks about a compilation of his Marvel work, House of Hem.

Irwin Hasen, R.I.P., the artist of the comic strip Dondi. Here’s the New York Times obit.

Trailers for 2015: The Best Animated Short nominees.

Muppets: Jim Henson Company and the ‘Into the Woods’ Movie that Could’ve Been and the message of “Rainbow Connection’ and Cookie Monster, Life Coach and Cookie Monster is making unboxing videos and Animal’s Whiplash.

How To Make The IDEAL Chocolate Chip Cookie: Add A Pinch of Science.

Getting more mayonnaise and toothpaste out of the container.

Dominoes and Etch-A-Sketch.

Srinivasa Ramanujan’s Magic Square.

Welcome to the Inauthentic Paper Detector. “Paste any text in the textbox. The chance that your submission is a human-written authentic scientific document will be output. Text over 50% chance will be classified as authentic.” Here’s the paper about it. Everything I write is inauthentic.


Chuck Miller: Welcome to the club, Roger Green!! Apparently, I have posted 1000 times on my Times Union blog. I had no idea. Also, Another win for the TU Community Bloggers.

My blog post re: the Barber Adagio was linked to EvilGeniusVic’s Capital Region.

Sharp Little Pencil: Outhouses and Holes We Dig, for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

Jaquandor’s Sentential Links (the Leonard Nimoy edition).

Eric Clapton is 70

Despite the fact that it directly led to Clapton’s departure from the band, I’ve always liked this song.

Clapton2010CoverEven before singer-bassist Jack Bruce died in October 2014, guitarist Eric Clapton had nixed the idea of a Cream reunion with those two plus drummer Ginger Baker. In fact, he suggested that retiring from the road would be his 70th birthday present to himself, though he might record an occasional album.

No reunion was just as well. Over nine years ago, I received The Royal Albert Hall album, and while it was quite good, it could never measure up to my expectations.

Cream represented my first awareness of “Slowhand,” whose guitar prowess had generated “Clapton is God” messages all over England, even when organized religion there was on the wane.

Certainly, I knew of his Beatles connection, with him playing on While My Guitar Gently Weeps. And of course, there was the fact that, at different points, both George Harrison and his good friend Clapton, wrote songs about, and were married to, Pattie Boyd.

This is more about retailing than Clapton: I went to a store in the Binghamton area and bought 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton’s second album, from 1974, though I probably bought it the following year. As soon as the sale was completed, the sales clerk told me what a lousy album it was. I took it home, decided that I liked it, particularly Motherless Children, I Shot The Sheriff, and Let It Grow. Suffice to say, I never bought a record from that store ever again.

Here are some of my favorite songs featuring Clapton. The order, other than the top five, is rather fluid.

20. Why Does Love Got to be So Sad? – Derek and the Dominos. Clapton and Duane Allman licks, with a solid foundation from Jim Gordon on drums and Carl Radle on bass
19. Let It Rain. Written by Clapton, with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett and Eric Clapton, it was the last song on his first solo album.
18. We’re Going Wrong – Cream. I loved Cream’s second album, Disraeli Gears, from its fanciful cover, to its reference to a 19th-century British prime minister. I created in my mind a harmony vocal for this chorus.
17. Politician (live) – Cream. Politician was recorded by the band for the Wheels of Fire album. But it’s the live version on Goodbye Cream which really shows its lyric cynicism.
16. Those were the Days – Cream. Those trippy lyrics, changing rhythms, and the bells. I owned three different songs with this title, and still do: this one (the B-side of White Room, one of the few singles I owned), the Mary Hopkin hit, and the opening theme to the television show All in the Family.

15. Little Wing – Derek and the Dominos. A cover of the Jimi Hendrix song, showing the greatness of Duane Allman.
14. Sea of Joy – Blind Faith. This was the group that rose from the ashes of Cream with Clapton and Baker, plus Ric Grech, bassist with a band called Family, and the distinctive vocals of Steve Winwood, formerly of the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic.
13. I Feel Free – Cream. LOVE the a cappella opening. From Fresh Cream. I recall that my 7th-grade history teacher referred to the group as The Cream, and one of my classmates sternly corrected him.
12. Cocaine. One of many J.J. Cale songs covered by Clapton, this one for the 1977 Slowhand album. I used to sing “this go better with Coca-Cola” in counterpoint to this song; it DOES fit.
11. I Ain’t Got You – the Yardbirds. I love the stops in this song.

10. Strange Brew – Cream. First song on Disraeli Gears.
9. Can’t Find My Way Back Home – Blind Faith. A song written by Winwood that speaks to a basic tenet of my 20s and 30s
8. White Room – Cream. This is one of my favorite Jack Bruce bass lines.
7. For Your Love – the Yardbirds. Despite the fact that it directly led to Clapton’s departure from the band, I’ve always liked this song. Clapton was upset that the band was moving from R&B to pop, and left to join John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.
6. Tales of Brave Ulysses-Cream. Naturally, from Disraeli Gears.
And you see a girl’s brown body dancing thru the turquoise
And her footprints make you follow where the sky loves the sea
And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body
Carving deep blue ripples in the tissue of your mind

5. To Tell The Truth (single)- Derek and the Dominos. This was, according to the Clapton box set I own, the first Derek and the Dominos’ single, but it was withdrawn as not in keeping with the band’s sound. I loved this more frantic version from the first listen, far more than the album version.
4. Badge – Cream. This sounded Beatlesque even before I knew George Harrison co-wrote this with Clapton and plays guitar under the pseudonym L’Angelo Misterioso.
3. Layla – Derek and the Dominos. When the Okie and I lived in Colonial Arms Apartment in New Paltz, NY, our neighbors Howie and Debi had a cat named Layla who was a sister to our cat Doris. Incidentally, this song was re-covered by Clapton in an unplugged version, which The Wife prefers.
2. Sunshine of Your Love – Cream. This was about a perfect pop song: great trading vocals, and harmonies; tremendous playing, especially that tom-tom beat. The Blue Moon guitar solo on the bridge. Of course, from Disraeli Gears.
1. I’m So Glad (live) – Cream. Still, my favorite Clapton performance is on the live version of a Skip James tune from Goodbye Cream. The studio version was on Fresh Cream.

L is for Lent

Every time Jesus mentioned the equivalent of a church tradition, the Torah, he qualified it with something like this: “The scriptures say thus and so, but I say…”

christianLeftI realize it’s rather late in the season of Lent. But I’m endlessly fascinated with it. Much of my favorite music is associated with the season.

Why DO we give up something for Lent?

Today we know Lent as a season of conversion: we acknowledge the ways we have turned away from God in our lives and we focus on turning our hearts and minds back toward God.

A piece someone wrote recently – I no longer remember who – has stayed with me:

I have a question for my friends who are giving up something for Lent: chocolate, Facebook, etc. I used to give up sweets etc. too. It just occurred to me, though, that instead of “giving up” something, if we all did MORE random acts of kindness (being extra kind or extra considerate, holding doors, letting people pull ahead of us, etc.), the world would be really great for those 40 days.

And who knows, maybe it would continue beyond that. And I think God would like that a whole lot more. I know the reasoning is to deprive ourselves. What if we deprived ourselves of being selfish or snippy or judgmental? Just a thought. I’m going to go eat chocolate now.

My church has expanded the season to Lentecost, from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost, to agree to take on service activities, such as our Author/Illustrator Day in April with a local school, the home repair & rebuilding program, and the FOCUS Breakfast Program, among several choices. Here is the FOCUS Churches Lenten reflections, created by forty men and women from the community of partner congregations, of which my church is one; I’m sure it’ll still apply AFTER Easter as well.

The religion page in the Huffington Post features a good read, WWJD: What Would Jesus Do? Do You Really Want to Know? It begins:

Once upon a time, a mother made her son a wristband. On it was written: WWJD? This, of course stood for: “What Would Jesus Do?” She instructed her son to look at the wristband before making decisions on how to live his Christian life.

A week later she was shocked to see that her son had become friends with prostitutes, was hanging out with ‘sinners’ — even buying people who were already drunk yet another round of beers!

I was also taken by a piece in Salon. Despite its probably polarizing title, Why conservative Christians would have hated Jesus, and some finger-wagging narrative, it did have some points that I could buy into:

Every time Jesus mentioned the equivalent of a church tradition, the Torah, he qualified it with something like this: “The scriptures say thus and so, but I say…” Jesus undermined the scriptures and religious tradition in favor of empathy. Every time Jesus undermined the scriptures (Jewish “church tradition”) it was to err on the side of co-suffering love… Every time Pope Francis sides with those the Church casts out he is closer to Jesus…

Perhaps what we need to give up is some of our rigidity about what God looks like.
Why I’m Coming Out as a Christian. “I’m not scared that non-believers will make me feel like an outcast. I’m scared that Christians will.”

ABC Wednesday – Round 16

If I wrote “I can’t breathe,” you’d probably misunderstand

Amy Biancolli will talk about “Living and writing in Smalbany: A love story” on April 25 at 1:30 at the Washington Avenue Branch of the Albany Public Library.

respiratorysystemI’ve been feeling crummy all week. It’s probably bronchial.

Missed church Sunday. In fact, I never even got out of my pajamas.

Muddled through work on Monday and Tuesday. But Tuesday night, the sound of my own coughing and wheezing, plus a sore throat, kept me awake most of the night.

By Wednesday, my condition was too aggravating, not to mention exhausting. I went to see my doctor, who gave me DRUGS. Sorry, pharmaceuticals, including one that helped me to sleep for a few hours on Wednesday afternoon, and gave me a decent sleep on Wednesday night. Sleep is GOOD.

Thursday morning, I had an irritating coughing jag. Take more medicine; good thing I take the bus to work, because operating heavy machinery is off the table. It’d be nice to finally pull out the bicycle from storage, but I’d likely be pulled over for riding while impaired, and rightly so.

Hand-eye coordination is iffy. The talking to self is up, way up, just to remind me to turn off the burners on the stove or put the milk back in the fridge. I managed to knock nearly a whole cup of ginger ale onto my computer keyboard.

If I haven’t visited your blog yet this week, especially the ABC Wednesday folks, I will, eventually. I left a lengthy comment on this interesting post by Arthur, which I obviously failed to submit properly, and I’m presently too tired to rewrite it.

I haven’t worked on that poster for the Friends of the Albany Public Library for that talk by Amy Biancolli, “Living and writing in Smalbany: A love story” on Saturday, April 25 at 1:30 at the Main Washington Avenue Branch of the Albany Public Library. That’s preceded by a luncheon at noon for $20 at the University Club. Hey, I’ll get to it.

The worst part of this condition is that it’s Lent when we often perform my favorite music, but I am unable to sing. I try, but I hear myself go flat. Which I suppose is better than NOT hearing myself go flat.

The only post I wrote all week wasn’t even for this blog. It was about a girl I know who had her wheelchair stolen; a fundraiser generated the $5000 to get it replaced.

Finally, something I found interesting about Dick Nixon at Let’s Be Serious About Ted Cruz From The Start: He’s Too Extreme And Too Disliked To Win. That Ted Cruz who failed to protect his name domain.

A chart there, which I’ve copied here, shows that Nixon was a flaming liberal compared with the bulk of Republicans who’ve run for President in the past 40 years. Make of that what you will.

Lenten music Friday: Barber Adagio

Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” would be played at the state funerals of both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

Samuel_Barber Thomas Larson called Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” “the saddest music ever written,” and he may be right.

NPR describes the premiere performance on 5 November 1938 with conductor Arturo Toscanini leading the NBC Symphony Orchestra, broadcast to millions of radio listeners.

From This Day in History:

Adagio for Strings had begun not as a freestanding piece, but as one movement of Barber’s 1936 String Quartet No. 1, Opus 11. When that movement provoked a mid-composition standing ovation at its premiere performance, Barber decided to create the orchestral adaptation that he would soon send to Toscanini.

In later years, the piece would be played at the state funerals of both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, taking its place as what one observer has called “the semi-official music of mourning.”

It is an adaptable piece, which has been arranged for solo organ, clarinet choir, woodwind band, and, as Agnus Dei, for chorus with optional organ or piano accompaniment, among others.

9/11 tribute. Leonard Slatkin, conductor. LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL IN ENGLAND – 2001.

September 11: 10th-anniversary memorial concert, Steven Schneider, organist. St. James’ Episcopal Church, Marietta, GA.

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