December #2: Famous Monsters Chronicles, & EOY

The Great Songs :”Overlooked tracks from artists you know, obscure tracks from artists you may not know…

toon refugee.santaWeekly Sift explains the US polarized body politic: Small-government Freedom vs. Big-government Rights. Plus the Yearly Sift.

New York Times: For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions.

Deadliest U.S. mass shootings | 1984-2015.

Short video: A Conversation With Police on Race. Also, the Ferguson cop says life is ‘ruined’ after pointing AR-15 at journalists.

No Charges in the Murder of Tamir Rice and Why white people see black boys like him as older, bigger, and guiltier than they really are.

A girl narrates a letter to her dad as she grows up, and it makes rape culture obvious.

Shooting Parrots is blogging again! Why we’re hard-wired to believe conspiracy theories?

Latest Sunrise and Sunset Forecast in the US.

The city of Albany’s budget crisis.

Everyone on Earth is actually your cousin.

George Clayton Johnson, R.I.P. He was known for writing on the original Twilight Zone TV series, for co-writing the novel Logan’s Run and for writing the first-aired episode of the original Star Trek, among many things.

TEDx Grand Rapids talk: ‪”Valuable Bodies” by artist Riva Lehrer.

Second impressions By Tara Whittle.

Now I Know: The Jumping Frenchmen of Maine and How Panama United Great Britain and the derivation of the word “dude”.

The grilled cheese sandwich; you’re probably making it wrong.

Explain to me how it is that people who’ve been dead, usually exactly three years, seem to cycle up again in FB as recently deceased? Ravi Shankar and Dave Brubeck, just this month. Before that Andy Griffith. With Bob Denver, it was 7 years, so the feedback loop is shrinking.

Wide receiver Edgar Allan Poe.

Instagram Journalism, Internet Fame, & How to Think About Exercise, the former with Jeff Sharlet.

I wrote “Heaven forfend” to someone. My spellcheck does not like forfend?!

Kickstarter: The Official Famous Monsters of Filmland Chronicles Book from FantaCo.

Arthur celebrates the end of the year in search and words and phrases.

I LOVED to watch Meadowlark Lemon play with the Harlem Globetrotters.

The passing of Berowne of Savage Reflections at the age of 94, one of our regular ABC Wednesday contributors. He had a very rich life, but I’ll miss his weekly reflections.

A legendary Jerry Lewis film is reportedly about to join the National Film Registry.

Why West Coast Drivers Add ‘The’ to Their Freeway Numbers. “It’s not an affectation of the car-obsessed—it’s history.”

velveteen rabbit


Make America Great Again.

How to Misrepresent Global Warming in One Graph, for Dummies.

Lawyer for Martin Shkreli Hikes Fees Five Thousand Per Cent.

Parents Outraged Schools “Indoctrinating” Students Into Islam With Arabic Numerals.

Single Woman With 3 Young Children Unaware She Subject Of 984 Judgments Today.

Chuck Miller

Seven Star Wars movies in one day. And the British weather forecast.

What’s Japanese for “You’re so stupid”?

A TV show I barely heard of called Galavant returns; clips of the musical numbers makes me want to check it out.


The niece! Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact – Gonna Be Alright.

From imgur: Hosanna in Excel Sheets
hosanna in excel sheets
The Carole King tribute at the Kennedy Center Honors.

End of year musical mashups.

The Coverville Countdown: Best Covers of 2015, Part 1 and Part 2.

Pantheon Songs is dead. In its ashes: The Great Songs – “Overlooked tracks from artists you know, obscure tracks from artists you may not know, masterpieces, and other curios I’d play if I were an overnight DJ.”

The Sound of Silence- Disturbed.

The Artist Formerly Known As Terence Trent D’Arby.

At 90, Dick Van Dyke sings “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” with Conan O’Brien and The Vantastix.

NPR: In memoriam, 2015.

Frank Sinatra’s Drummer Tells the Story of His Final Concert.

New Yorker: The Discovery of Roscoe Holcomb and the “High Lonesome Sound”.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. No YES? NO!


New group I joined on Facebook: Stephen R. Bissette, writer-artist. NOT started by Steve, BTW.

Evanier on Mel Blanc. Mark has been blogging for 15 years.

Extinct Attractions: Thurl Ravenscroft Documentary (2004) – Grinch, Haunted Mansion, Tony the Tiger.

Trouble with Comics: Favorite Holiday Comics.

I supported the Kickstarter for the documentary I Am Big Bird, but I did NOT know the BINGHAMTON connection of the early career of Caroll Spinney.

Today’s Video Link

Google alerts (me)

Like any rational person, Dustbury LOVES Pet Sounds. I’d love to see Brian Wilson at Tanglewood in June 2016.

How Arthur@AmeriNZ blogs.

Google alert (not me)

Roger Alin Green, 74, died Sunday, December 13, 2015, at his home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


Alexander Hamilton’s powder horn is up for auction.

alexander-hamiltonI’ve become obsessed with Alexander Hamilton for a while now. He was married to Elizabeth Schuyler, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Albany (my current church!), in 1780. When Aaron Burr killed Hamilton in an 1804 duel, First Presbyterian Albany minister Eliphalet Nott wrote a persuasive sermon that led to the demise of dueling in America.

It definitely intensified with that campaign by some group to put a woman on the $20 bill, replacing Andrew Jackson, something I fully supported.

But then I heard about the Treasury Department’s plan to put a woman on the $10 bill, replacing Hamilton, our first Treasury secretary, and the greatest immigrant among the founders of the country. That plan was tweaked to keep Hamilton on the bill somewhere.

Hamilton’s greatness has become clear as I started listening to the soundtrack of the Broadway musical Hamilton, an extraordinary work by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Here’s the introductory piece. The production is quite influential among some folks; for instance, I found an article titled ‘Hamilton’ Makes Me Want to Be Great.

My family has given three copies of the soundtrack to the musical as Christmas presents this season, and I finally got a copy myself. Getting a ticket to the show is much more difficult, though President Obama has seen it twice, once in previews.

This is a prediction, based on nothing but a gut feeling, and the unexplained postponement of the $10 redesign. Obama decides that the $10 won’t be replaced after all, because, in his feisty last year, he wouldn’t do that to old Alex. Instead, he dumps Jackson, an opponent of the banking system. He suggests a woman, a black woman, maybe Rosa Parks, but I’m hoping Harriet Tubman.

Chuck Miller points out that Alexander Hamilton’s powder horn is up for auction on January 11, 2016.

Y is for the Year 2016

Aug 29 , 1966– The Beatles end their US tour with a concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

I realize I did a similar thing last year around this time. And why not? But this time, I got a tad carried away. Of course, no one knows all that will happen in 2016, besides a leap day on February 29.

Super Bowl 50 (no Roman numerals) will be held on February 7, 2016, at Levi’s Stadium, in Santa Clara, California, broadcast in the US on CBS-TV. The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. August 5–21, followed by the Paralympics, September 7–18. And of course, the 45th President of the United States will be voted on November 8.
These anniversaries will also be noted.

950th (1066)
Oct 14 – Battle of Hastings – The Norman forces of William the Conqueror defeat the English army and kill King Harold II of England.

400th (1616)
Mar – Work of Copernicus banned by the Congregation of the Index.
Apr 23- William Shakespeare, English writer and actor, died.

350th (1666)
Sept 2-4 – The Great Fire of London breaks out and burns for three days, destroying 10,000 buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral.

250th (1766)
Dec 5 – James Christie holds the first sale at Christie’s auction house in London.

200th (1816)
Apr 11 – In Philadelphia, the African Methodist Episcopal Church is established by Richard Allen and other African-American Methodists, the first such denomination completely independent of White churches.
Apr 21 – Birthday of Charlotte Brontë.

175th (1841)
Feb 4 – A first known reference to Groundhog Day in North America, in the diary of a James Morris.
Feb 10 – Act of Union (British North America Act, 1840) proclaimed in Canada; the next day, the two colonies of The Canadas are merged into the United Province of Canada.
Feb 18 – The first ongoing filibuster in the United States Senate begins and lasts until Mar 11.
Mar 9 – the United States v. The Amistad: The Supreme Court of the United States rules in the case that the Africans who seized control of the ship had been taken into slavery illegally.

150th (1866) – lots of post-US Civil War events
Jan 1 – Fisk University, a historically black university, is established in Nashville, TN.
Mar 13 – The US Congress overwhelmingly passes the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the first federal legislation to protect the rights of African-Americans; U.S. President Andrew Johnson vetoes the bill on March 27, and Congress overrides the veto on April 9.
July 28 – Birthday of Beatrix Potter.
Sept 21 – Birthday of Herbert George (H. G.) Wells.

125th (1891)
Jan 7 – Birthday of Zora Neale Hurston, Harlem Renaissance writer (d. 1960).
Feb 13 – Birthday of Grant Wood, American painter (d. 1942).
Mar 19 – Birthday of Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1974). I met him once; I need to write about that.
Apr 1 – The Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago.
Apr 1 – The London–Paris telephone system is opened to the general public.
May 5 – The Music Hall in New York (later known as Carnegie Hall) has its grand opening and first public performance, with Tchaikovsky as guest conductor.
June 25 – Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes appears in The Strand Magazine (London) for the first time, in the issue dated July.
Date unknown – James Naismith invents basketball.

100th (1916) – I emphasized this year, but didn’t mention all of the many World War I references
Jan 1 – The British Royal Army Medical Corps carries out the first successful blood transfusion using blood that had been stored and cooled.
Feb 26 – Birthday of Jackie Gleason, American comedian, actor, and musician (d. 1987).
Feb 29 – Birthday of Dinah Shore, American singer (d. 1994).
Mar 29 – Birthday of Eugene McCarthy, U.S. Senator from Minnesota and Presidential candidate (d. 2005).
Mar -Einstein publishes his theory of relativity.
Apr 5 – Birthday of Gregory Peck, American actor (d. 2003).
Apr 20 – The Chicago Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park (modern-day Wrigley Field), defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in 11 innings.
June 15 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signs a bill incorporating the Boy Scouts of America.
July 1 – Birthday of Olivia de Havilland, British-born American actress.
July 9 – Birthday of Edward Heath, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 2005).
Aug 25 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signs legislation creating the National Park Service.
Aug 31 – Birthday of Daniel Schorr, American journalist (d. 2010).
Sept 15 – World War I: Tanks are used for the first time in battle, at the Battle of the Somme.
Oct 14 – Birthday of C. Everett Koop, United States Surgeon General (d. 2013).
Nov 4 – Birthday of Walter Cronkite, American television journalist (d. 2009). I read his autobiography.
Nov 24 – Birthday of Forrest J. Ackerman, American writer (d. 2008).
Dec 18 – Birthday of Betty Grable, American actress (d. 1973).

90th (1926)
Feb 7 – Carter G. Woodson initiated the first National Negro Week. In 1972, it was renamed Black History Week and in 1976, it became Black History Month.
Aug 6 – Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

80th (1936)
May 28 – Alan Turing submits On Computable Numbers for publication.
Dec – King Edward VIII of England signed the instrument of abdication; George VI accedes to the throne

Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio

75th (1941) – of course, LOTS of World War II anniversaries, far too many to list here
Mar 11 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the US, signs the Lend-Lease Act into law, providing for the U.S. to provide aid to the Allies.
May 15 – Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak begins as the New York Yankees’ center fielder goes one for four against Chicago White Sox; ends July 17.
July 1 – Commercial TV authorized by the FCC. NBC television begins commercial operation on WNBT on channel 1. The world’s first legal TV commercial occurs at 2:29 PM before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The 10-second spot displays a picture of a clock superimposed on a map of the United States, accompanied by the voice-over “America runs on Bulova time.” As a one-off special, the first quiz show called “Uncle Bee” is telecast, followed later by Ralph Edwards hosting the second game show broadcast on U.S. TV, Truth or Consequences, as simulcast on radio and TV and sponsored by Ivory soap.
Aug 15 – Corporal Josef Jakobs is executed by firing squad at the Tower of London at 7:12 am, making him the last person to be executed at the Tower for treason. This was the final question on JEOPARDY! in May 2015.
Sept – Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox batted .406 for the season, the last Major League Baseball player to do so.
Dec 7 – Attack on Pearl Harbor, and subsequent entry by the US into WWII.

70th (1946)
Mar 5 – Winston Churchill uses the phrase “Iron Curtain” in his speech at Westminster College, Missouri.

50th (1966) – lots of Vietnam War events
Jan – Indira Gandhi named Prime Minister of India. She wan’t the first female head of government in modern times; Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon was chosen PM of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in 1960.
Jan 13 – Robert C. Weaver becomes the first African American Cabinet member, by being appointed US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
June 1 – The final new episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show airs (the first episode aired on October 3, 1961).
Aug 1 – Sniper Charles Whitman kills 14 people and wounds 32 from atop the University of Texas at Austin Main Building tower, after earlier killing his wife and mother. I wrote about this, briefly.
Aug 29 – The Beatles end their US tour with a concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It is their last-ever live performance, except for the short “rooftop concert” at the Apple Corps offices in January 1969.

35th (1981)
Jan 20 – US embassy hostages, taken Nov 4, 1979, released from Iran, coincidentally, or not, the same day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th US President.

25th (1991)
Jan 16 – Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm begins with airstrikes against Iraq.
Mar 15 – Four Los Angeles, California police officers are indicted for the videotaped March 3 beating of Rodney King during an arrest.
May – The first Starbucks Coffee outlet is opened in California.
Dec 23 – Bohemian Rhapsody returns to the top of the British singles charts after 16 years, with the re-release’s proceeds being donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust, a British charity that campaigns on various issues related to AIDS and HIV.
Dec 25 – Dissolution of the Soviet Union: Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union, from which most republics have already seceded, anticipating the dissolution of the 74-year-old state.

20th (1996)
July 5 – Dolly the sheep becomes the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.

5th (2011)
Apr 29 – Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Kate Middleton.

abc 17 (1)
ABC Wednesday – Round 17

MOVIE REVIEW: A Ballerina’s Tale

Misty Copeland’s potentially career-ending injury was also a major focus.

A-Ballerinas-Tale-posterI was rather familiar with the story of Misty Copeland, largely from this 60 Minutes clip, about how the ballerina, who didn’t even dance until she was 13, became the first African-American woman to be named principal dancer of the legendary American Ballet Theater.

What was interesting about the documentary A Ballerina’s Tale was less about the dancer herself, and more about the social context of her achievement. It wasn’t just her race but her “muscular” body that had precluded someone who looked like her to be the swan. Her potentially career-ending injury was also a major focus, and she showed tremendous resolve getting through it.

I also enjoyed learning about the history of black ballerinas. Her interaction with the apparently legendary Raven Wilkinson – who I had never heard of – was fascinating, in part because Misty too was learning about her dance roots. A group of successful older black women took Misty Copeland under their wings and helped her feel less alone, and that was touching.

This was a Kickstarter film from Nelson George, who I know best as a writer of the book Hip Hop America, and Where Did Our Love Go?, a book about Motown. Before that, he was a critic of the black music scene for Billboard.

Here is the movie trailer.

A Ballerina’s Tale was playing at the nearby Madison Theatre. We thought the Daughter would want to see it the day before Thanksgiving, but she declined. So the Wife went to the 5 pm show, and I the 7 pm viewing; we were the ONLY persons to watch it, and that was a shame because it was worthwhile.

Yet there’s an arm’s length distancing from the film’s primary subject which made her somehow less compelling. The Variety review says it best: “She’s immensely humble and focused on her goals, which makes her an excellent performer and an equally strong ambassador for dancers of color, but a tougher nut to crack as a documentary subject.”

Renaissance redux

Perhaps my enthusiasm made them think it would be more in keeping with what they would like.

Scheherazade and Other StoriesIn my recent prog rock post, I ended, “I own albums by FM, Electric Light Orchestra, Kansas, Renaissance, Supertramp, Genesis, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, but not the ones listed.”

Then Arthur commented:

I don’t have most of the albums you talk about…, BUT the ones you list at the very end of this post, I want to know more about your connection to those. That’s because I had something by most of the bands you list, but you’re the only one I know who’s ever listed Renaissance. (I have two of their albums on vinyl and chose to bring them with me from America when I had to leave so many other things behind)

Let’s start with the group Renaissance. I must have heard them in New Paltz during my college days.

1977 was pretty much, from an emotional point of view, my annus horribilis, graduated from college but directionless. In the first months of the year, I was crashing on my parents’ sofa in Charlotte, NC. My birthday was coming up in March, and all I really wanted was Scheherazade and Other Stories, the 1975 album by the British group.

I received it, and I played it. I sensed a really unenthusiastic, albeit mostly unspoken, response from the family, especially my father, who said something like “Hmm” in that particular way he did when he was displeased. He had heard a variety of musical genres, Beatles, Stones, Young Rascals, Led Zeppelin on my turntable.

Yet, I got the clear impression that this particular group was just – I don’t know, how do I put it? – Too white? Too weird? Perhaps my enthusiasm made them think it would be more in keeping with what they would like. Or something; in any case, the rejection was a bit soul-crushing.

I played it all the more for that, but at the same time, it sucked much of the joy out of listening to it. I hadn’t heard it in years until I found it on YouTube. LISTEN. My, I love it all over again, especially side 2. I mean, the second half, which literally made me weep, as I anticipated movements I had not heard in three decades.

Anyway, less than two months after my birthday in 1977, I hitchhiked out of Charlotte, unannounced, and continued my wanderings. Did I take the LP with me, or did I have them ship it to me subsequently? I have no idea.

Coincidentally, this is an album that the Wife – even younger than YOU, Arthur 😉 – was familiar with, because her college roommate Alison played the music of the group incessantly.

Other prog rock groups

FM – I misremembered; I have a couple by a duo called AMFM, at least one of which I got from a Kickstarter sale by their label, Polyvinyl.

Electric Light Orchestra – A New World Record on CD, plus extra songs. Also, a greatest hits CD. Saw Jeff Lynne’s ELO perform a song from Alone in the Universe, the 2015 album, on CBS This Morning Saturday in November.

Kansas – just a greatest hits CD.

Supertramp – Crime of the Century and Breakfast in America on vinyl. Had to burn a copy of the latter onto CD, because I LOVE that album.

Genesis – I own none of the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, though I have a LOT of solo Gabriel. Abacab (1981), Genesis (1983), Invisible Touch (1986), We Can’t Dance (1991), the latter two on CD, plus the greatest hits.

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention – Vinyl: Fillmore East – June 1971. CD – Jazz from Hell, You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (show from 1974, released in 1988), the compilation album Strictly Genteel, the single Peaches en Regalia, and a greatest hits album.

Arthur also asked:

I’ve since had time to follow the link and saw there were a lot I’d never heard of. Which made me wonder, Roger: How many of those, if any, had YOU not heard of?

LOTS. 50-45, 42, 41, 39, 38, 36, 35, 29, 26-24, and 19.

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