November rambling 2: Walmart returnables, and Blotto musicology

A Writer Gets Grilled By His 18-Year-Old Self

Dan said: “Perhaps someone absquatulated with an important part.”

Meanwhile, in America…, the succinctly brilliant viral meme from Andy McClure.

Trying to follow what is going on in Syria and why? This comic will get you there in 5 minutes.

9 questions about Daesh you were too embarrassed to ask.

Jeff Sharlet: The Darkness Show: On Jokes and Terror in Paris.

Gate A-4.

Walmart employee fired for redeeming a few dollars of cans and bottles. Local story goes national. And international. And becomes a cause.

It’s a tawdry catfight… between bourgeois actors who desperately seek to inherit the imprimatur of the Civil Rights struggle.

Being frugal with outrage.

High Cheekbones and Straight Black Hair? “100 Amazing Facts About the Negro: Why most black people aren’t ‘part Indian,’ despite family lore.”

The Original Conscious Uncouplers.

Texas Women Are Inducing Their Own Abortions.

If you enjoyed a good book and you’re a woman, the critics think you’re wrong.

The Internet Is Freaking Out Over This ‘Jeopardy’ Contestant’s Voice. “It’s time to stop policing the way women sound.”

A Writer Gets Grilled By His 18-Year-Old Self In ‘Later That Same Life’.

Dustbury has a birthday.

the death of comedy.

The oldest known video footage of New York City.

Now I Know: Not Safe, But Fired and Prisoner of Honor and Comma Chameleon Law.

Explaining Einstein. We have a winner!

How to count coins.

Miss Rose Marie, The Longest Active Career In Entertainment, Honored with Shirley Temple Award.

Justin Bieber Just Beat The Beatles’ 51-Year-Old Billboard Record.

It’s time to have a Blotto musicology conference.

The New Yorker Editor Who Became a Comic Book Hero. (Françoise Mouly).

Smilin’ Ed Comics Kickstarter Only Hardcover Editions!

Muppets: From the mouth of frogs and Bert is sick and commercials and Little Muppet Monsters (1985) and miscellaneous stuff.


Arthur’s Internet wading. And it’s all my fault!

SamuraiFrog: I Spend Thanksgiving Alone Every Year. I’ve done so, and at a very basic level, I understand his position.

U is for Untrue “news”

The Daily Currant and its ilk have fooled even US mainstream media organizations.

True-or-FalseIn September 2015, I was seeing this story on Facebook, disseminated by people I knew personally, that indicated that President Obama was going to receive his second Nobel Peace Prize. Instantly, I knew it was bogus – among other things, the award would be issued later in the year – but I wanted to know WHY it was spreading so quickly.

Both and who published the story are notorious fake websites, that do not print legitimate news. is not affiliated with USAToday in any way, according to its disclaimer. is part of a growing number of .co websites that attempt to disguise themselves as reputable brands that includes, and These are fake news websites and nothing on them should be taken seriously.

In fact, a report that the new Facebook “dislike” button would delete posts with 10 dislikes was gaining some traction. It’s a devilishly potent formula of taking a fact – in this case, Facebook installing a “dislike” button – then tapping into suspicions about Facebook, and coming up with a credible lie.

HowStuffWorks has a story on 10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Story, not particularly useful. It does note that there are satire sites such as The Onion, which would also apply to the Borowitz report at the New Yorker. These are clearly designed to tell a greater truth.

A recent article in The Onion: Pope Francis Kills 3 Hours Milling Around Atlanta Airport During Layover To D.C. – shows how the leader of over a billion Catholics might spend time milling around the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, like many passengers actually do. Now that they are known as such, these web pages are less likely to be incorrectly disseminated as true, though, in the past couple of years, the governments of Iran and China have been fooled.

Whereas sites such as The Daily Currant and its ilk have beguiled even US mainstream media organizations. “The site’s business model as an ad-driven clickbait-generator relies on it. When Currant stories go viral, it’s not because their satire contains essential truths, but rather because their satire is taken as truth— and usually that ‘truth’ is engineered to outrage a particular frequency of the political spectrum. As Slate’s Josh Voorhees wrote…, ‘It’s a classic Currant con, one that relies on its mark wanting to believe a particular story is true.'”

This doesn’t even count the sites designed to distort the narrative, to meet a political agenda. Conservative media claiming a picture shows Syrian refugees with ISIS flags used a real picture, a counter-protest to anti-Islam policies. The flag wasn’t an ISIS flag, because in May 2012, when the picture was taken, there was no ISIS at the time.

One of the more clever cases involved the BBC, Dow and the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster.

As a librarian and someone who seeks to be an informed citizen, this is a challenge. One can’t always trust the (corporate) press to get it right; see Judith Miller and the New York Times on the run-up to the Iraq war, for a classic example.

I try to read/watch a variety of sources and determine whether a narrative passes the sniff test. It’s not always easy.

abc 17 (1)
ABC Wednesday – Round 17

Music Throwback Saturday: Every Valley Shall Be Exalted

Ev’ry valley shall be exalted, and ev’ry mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain.
(Isaiah 40: 4)

handel.soulfulHandel’s Messiah is surely An Unexpected Easter Masterpiece. But I’ve sung it often enough during Advent – that period before Christmas that we’re now in – to associate it more with this season, even though it was first performed in April 1742, to an audience of 700, “as ladies had heeded pleas by management to wear dresses ‘without Hoops’ in order to make ‘Room for more company.'”

Some 250 years later, Mervyn Warren begat Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, a “critically acclaimed gospel album by various artists. [It] has been widely praised for its use of multiple genres of African-American music, including spirituals, blues, ragtime, big band, jazz fusion, R&B and hip hop.

“The album received the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album, as well as the 1992 Dove Award for Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year.”

Overture – London Philharmonic Orchestra
Overture: A Partial History of Black Music – Mervyn Warren, Janice Chandler Eteme, Dwayne Adell, Cedric Dent, Joe Hogue

Ev’ry valley shall be exalted, and ev’ry mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain.
(Isaiah 40: 4)

Every Valley Shall Be Exalted – London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus
“Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” Lizz Lee and Chris Willis (with Mike E.)

Movie Review: Heart of A Dog

Heart of a Dog is a documentary by artist/musician Laurie Anderson about her very deep relationship with her canine.

heart of a dog.laurie andersonIt’s Tuesday, November 17, the last day that the Spectrum 8 Theatre will be under the current ownership. Come Friday, November 20, the cinema will reopen under the control of the chain, Landmark Theaters.

The current owners insist the new company will keep it just the same. Keith and Sugi Pickard gave me that message the previous Saturday at the APL Foundation Library Gala, and Keith, who’s helping with the concession stand queue repeats the message this night to the Wife and me. I’ve been going there, or to its predecessor, the 3rd Street Cinema in Rensselaer, since 1980.

There are a number of films I’d like to see. But the one playing that seemed avant-garde, least mainstream, most Spectrum-like, was Heart of a Dog, a documentary by artist/musician Laurie Anderson about her very deep relationship with her canine, but also about her late mother, post 9/11 surveillance, and memory. Her late husband Lou Reed makes a brief appearance. It’s impressionistic and meditative and contemplative and musical, and occasionally very funny. Go read some nice reviews, 97% positive on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sugi Pickard watched that single screening. So did Cathy Frank, the legendary namesake of Cathy’s Waffles in ’80s Albany, who posted her disastrous-looking but still apparently tasty waffles on her Facebook page. It was a Smallbany event of sorts, the end of an era, like the apparent demise of Metroland after 38 years, or the closing of Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry in Albany after 67 years.

Oh, and it was my mom’s birthday, and Laurie was remembering what thing her mom said to her that most sticks to her mind. And it got me thinking some more about MY mom’s words to me. And it was…soothing to contemplate.

The Lydster, Part 140: PTX

ptxThe Daughter uses The Wife’s iPad more than The Wife does. Among other things, she watches music videos. Sometimes, while riding the stationary bike, she listens to her second favorite group (after the Beatles, of course.)

That would be Pentatonix, an a cappella quintet: Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstie Maldonado, Kevin Olusola, and Avi Kaplan. From the website:

Since bursting onto the scene in 2011, Grammy Award-winners and platinum selling recording artists, Pentatonix, has sold more than 2 million albums in the U.S. alone and amassed over 905 million views on their YouTube channel with more than 7.8 million subscribers. Their latest holiday album – That’s Christmas To Me – sold more than 1.1 million copies in the U. S., becoming one of only four acts to release a platinum album in 2014.

The Daughter came up with her Top 10 favorite songs.

10. White Winter Hymnal. OK, I don’t “get” the song from their 2014 Christmas album, originally recorded by Fleet Foxes on their 2008 debut album.

9. I Need Your Love. I like this more than the Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding original.

8. Daft Punk. I find the blue eyes…distracting, and not in a good way. This is a medley of Daft Punk songs, including Get Lucky. In February 2015, the group received their first GRAMMY® Award for Best Arrangement, Instrumental and A Cappella for the medley.

7. Radioactive, featuring Lindsey Stirling. A cover of a 2012 Imagine Dragons song.

6. Rather Be. Originally done by Clean Bandit, featuring Jess Glynne. I’ll admit that I had never heard either version before.

5. Can’t Hold Us. I wonder if the Daughter’s seen the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis video featuring Ray Dalton from 2013.

4. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Now we’re into very familiar source material: Tchaikovsky. Let’s watch Nina Kaptsova dance to it.

3. Love Again. Is this an original? If not, I have no idea of the source material.

2. The Evolution Of Music. This is the first recording of theirs I heard, a medley of songs MOSTLY from the 20th and 21st century. I like how it changes from black & white to color in the 1960s. Here it is again, with the “thank you” tag. Here’s the list of songs covered.

My twin nieces and The Daughter performed this at the Olin family reunion in July. Let’s watch Minnie the Moocher by Cab Calloway.

1. Wizard Of Ahhhs, starring Todrick Hall. A Wizard of OZ motif, featuring a medley of these songs. I had no idea who Hall was – here’s his Evolution of Disney.

I need to listen to Somewhere Over The Rainbow, by Judy Garland and by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole, plus the IZ medley of Rainbow and What a Wonderful World.