February rambling #2: The Man Who Mistook Jesus For An A.T.M.

A Beach Boy asks, “Why am I the villain?”


Sharp Little Pencil: The Man Who Mistook Jesus For An A.T.M..

What Happens Now That We Know Gravitational Waves Are Real? Compare with Introduction to the flat earth, how it works, and why we believe it.

The Latter Days of a Better Nation. For instance, Florida Legal: Man Shoots Young Girl Neighbor In Her House From Homemade Gun Range.

Looking Back BY Jeffrey Toobin, re: Antonin Scalia.

John Oliver: on voting and on abortion. Plus an interview.

The Apple/FBI question is harder than it looks.


How Writers Ruin Their Amazon Links (Yes, You Probably Do It Too), which is keeping unnecessary stuff in the URL; I mentioned this here.

What I Mean When I Say ‘I Have Anxiety’.

‪What makes a good life‬.

The Dark Underside of the Show-Dog World .

What Is Face Blindness?

Dustbury would stand up straight if he could. I SO relate.

Arthur’s dad would be 100.

The Uncanny Adventures of (I Hate) Dr. Wertham.

Now I Know: The Trees of Hate and The Science Behind the Slogan (Morton’s salt) and The History of Being on Hold and A Stinky Suit.

Muppet commercials from 1965.

Four Rare JEOPARDY! Scenarios. Plus Canadians Left With Questions After Being Barred From ‘Jeopardy!’

The obligatory Donald Trump section

I think he’ll be the Republican nominee.

How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable.

Inside the Republican Party’s Desperate Mission to Stop Donald Trump.

For Donald Trump, internet bullying is a highly effective campaign tactic.

America’s Agitator: Donald Trump Is the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

Why We Secretly Love Donald Trump (and Why We Should Fight It).

What it would take to build Trump’s border wall.

An Open Letter to My Friends Who Support Donald Trump.

Why I am Endorsing* Trump. Note the asterisk.

Nearly 20 percent of Trump’s supporters disapprove of Lincoln freeing the slaves.

Canadian island welcomes Americans who wish to move if Trump wins. Actually, they welcome people from all political stripes.

New liquid Trump and I know, right?

The other folks running

What that Cruz-Rubio ‘He doesn’t speak Spanish’ thing was about.

Neurologist explains why it’s hard to look at Ted Cruz’s creepy ‘unsettling’ face.

Why do so many people from Europe want Bernie Sanders to be the President of the United States?


Bohemian Rhapsody – the Maniacal 4 Trombone Quartet.

10 Artists Who Hated Their Biggest Hit.

K-Chuck Radio: The Sugarhill Pulse.

Song stylist Nancy Wilson.

The Ballad of Mike Love. A Beach Boy asks, “Why am I the villain?”


Arthur’s Internet Wading for February 21.

The best American movies ever made

Annie Hall was my talisman for a good long while

DO_THE_RIGHT_THINGOne of those lists, this from BBC Culture, of the 100 greatest American films. How many have I seen? They are marked thusly: *

100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013) – the newest film on the list; felt that I “ought” to see it, but I just did not want to
98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) – I’ve seen parts of this on TV, but never from beginning to the end
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008) – the Daughter was four; wasn’t seeing much of anything
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)

90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) – I’ve seen large portions of this
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961) – some of my favorite music
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
*81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)

80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944) – seen much of this
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) – I’m a bit surprised, as some folks HATED this movie
78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977) – I’ve seen two different iterations of this
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) – not that fond of this
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) – one of the first VCR tapes I ever purchased, so I could watch it over and over…

70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
*62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) – this was ruined by Jack looking crazy already in the first scene
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)

60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
*54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
*46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) – I NEED TO SEE THIS FILM
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915) – again, I’ve seen much of it
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
*33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) – saw fairly recently
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)

30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980) – saw relatively recently
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) – the best picture of that year
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977) – my talisman for a good long while
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990) – seen large segments
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975) – tried to watch on video a few years ago, but couldn’t get into it
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
*12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)

10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) – I took this out from the library several years ago, and fell asleep

Only 36 of 100. Not great. Need to see more Hitchcock, Altman and Chaplin.
Exploring Bollywood stereotypes and impact.

Voting in the primaries

I would have supported Paul Simon, not the singer but the Senator from Illinois

Fred Harris
Fred Harris

I almost always vote. I may have missed a school district vote in the early days, but I recall casting a ballot FIVE times in 1976: twice on the school budget, for the Presidential primary, for the non-Presidential primaries, and in the general election.

Voting in the primaries is something a LOT of people don’t do, and I find it mystifying. There ARE rules that allow people affiliated with the two major parties to vote, to the exclusion of those not enrolled, which is the way it works in New York State. That is why I’m registered in a political party. OK, in the Democratic party; I KNOW this is a shock to some of you.

The Presidential primary in New York is in April 2016, and I’m likely to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, my former US Senator. Besides the fact that I think his positions are more aligned with mine, I have a feeling he’ll do better against the Republican candidate, whoever he is, than Hillary would. I wouldn’t count Bernie out.

On Facebook, a guy named Joe Mahoney posted this on February 10: “It should be pretty clear by now that these professional political analysts you see on TV — the people who were convinced a year ago it would be Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush in 2016, no question — have no more wisdom or insight than your typical cab driver or supermarket checkout clerk…”

For reasons of my own memory, I’ve decided to try to record who I voted for in each Presidential primary. This is not as easy as you might think, and not only because of my failing brain cells.
June 20, 1972. My clear preference was Shirley Chisholm, the first black Congresswoman, who served part of Brooklyn. The problem was something Arthur mentioned about the 2016 Illinois primary: “Voters vote for committed delegates running in their Congressional District… However, not all candidates, especially minor candidates, are able to mount a full slate of delegate candidates in all Congressional Districts.”

I’m fairly sure Ms. Chisholm was not on the ballot in my upstate Congressional district. In fact, I’m not even sure there WAS a primary in my Congressional district; the state’s selection was the very last, so George McGovern may have locked up the nomination by then, losing badly to the incumbent Richard Nixon in November.

April 1976. My clear preference was Fred Harris, the rumpled iconoclast Senator from Oklahoma. But was he on the ballot in New York? If not, I might have voted for Congressman Mo Udall (AZ) or Senator Frank Church (ID) instead, but surely not Jimmy Carter. There was some arcane thing that the Carter forces did in New York to keep someone off the ballot, and it ticked me off.

March 25, 1980. Both Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) and Governor Jerry Brown (CA) challenged the incumbent President Carter. Despite the horrible incident in Chappaquiddick, I supported Ted, who actually won New York. At the same time, I was afraid for him. Every President elected, or re-elected, in a year ending in zero had died in office. Moreover, all of Teddy’s brothers had died violently, Joe in World War II, and JFK and RFK via assassins’ bullets. Of course, Jimmy Carter was renominated, but lost the general election. President Ronald Reagan was shot in March 1981, but survived.

April 3, 1984. I actually liked Walter Mondale (MN), Jimmy Carter’s Vice-President, and the eventual nominee who lost to Reagan. But I thought he was too much tied to that failed administration. So I supported Senator Gary Hart (CO). I DIDN’T support the Rev. Jesse Jackson because of an ethnic slur he had made three months earlier, then denied saying for a time.

Paul Simon, not the singer
Paul Simon, not the singer

1988. If he were on the ballot, in New York, I would have supported Paul Simon, not the singer but the Senator from Illinois. Governor Michael Dukakis (MA) won the nomination, but lost the general election to George H.W. Bush.

April 7, 1992. Former Senator Paul Tsongas (MA) was my guy, but he quit the race three weeks before the primary. Did I vote for him or did I switch to Jerry Brown? I DIDN’T vote for Bill Clinton in the primary, but did when he won the general election.

1996. If perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche even forced a primary in New York against the incumbent Bill Clinton, I’d be mighty surprised.

March 7, 2000. I voted for former US Senator (and former New York Knicks basketball player) Bill Bradley (NJ) over Vice-President Al Gore (TN). After he lost New York by nearly 2-1, and several other states on that day (my birthday), Bradley withdrew two days later. Of course, I voted for Gore v. George W. Bush, and of course Gore wonlost.

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich

March 2, 2004. In a primary, sometimes one votes one’s heart. I voted for former Cleveland mayor and then-current congressman Dennis Kucinich (OH), knowing that it was a quixotic campaign. If I were to have voted for someone who I thought might have had a chance to WIN, I might have picked Senator John Edwards (NC), who became John Kerry’s running mate when they lost to Bush/Cheney.

February 5, 2008. On Super Tuesday, the day “on which the greatest number of states hold primary elections”, I voted for Barack Obama against my former US Senator Hillary Clinton, though I had voted for her when she ran for the Senate in 2000. Clinton won New York, but, of course, eventually lost the nomination.

Obviously, Obama was the first Democrat who I ever voted for who actually won the nomination, and, as we know, he became the 44th President when he beat Senator John McCain (AZ). 2008 was only the second time the candidate I supported in the general election won, the first being 1992 with Bill Clinton.

2012. Obama was unopposed in New York State, though he faced token opposition elsewhere. He was reelected President, beating former Governor Mitt Romney (MA).

Well, THAT was more difficult than I thought it would be.

The Lydster, Part 143: playing with Fire

My loving child regularly mocks me.

Amazon fireALL of her friends had some sort of electronic device, and she did not, so someone (Santa? The Wife, and I? I forget) gave The Daughter an Amazon Fire for Christmas. It was one of the best presents I ever got.

For one thing, it ended the fussing over The Wife’s work iPad. It was entrusted to the adult, of course, but the child knew far better how to actually USE the thing. I was of no help in this arena either.

The Daughter getting her own device means The Wife doesn’t complain that her device is not charged, or not in her school bag in the morning as she heads off to work. Not hearing this repeated disagreement is GREAT, for ME, and for them as well.

Another thing: it made MY Amazon Fire, purchased some months ago, actually usable. For some reason, I had to change the password in our home WiFi last summer, and the Time Warner Cable guy said, “You’d better write it down because it’s unretrievable.” Well, I DID lose it, in fairly short order. I had my device but couldn’t use it at home.

Since The Daughter wanted to use her new machine at home, I called TWC anyway – something I wouldn’t have bothered to do for myself – and, lo and behold, was able to reset the password to something this Census geek can actually remember.

Oh, yeah. The Wife has a habit of putting all the plugs for all the devices in a drawer, but somehow, my Fire charger went MIA. Now, I can use The Daughter’s charger; yeah, I could have bought a new one, but I did not. My loving child regularly mocks me when she realizes things she can do after two days that I never figured out in four months.

John Caldwell

John Caldwell was also known locally for that great cover he did for the Blotto album Combo Akimbo.

mugshotsI have no idea how Tom Skulan, owner of a comic book store in Albany called FantaCo, where I worked for several years, got John Caldwell to allow us to publish one of his books. Mug Shots: A splendid collection of cartoons by John Caldwell came out in September 1980, just in time for the second FantaCon convention. The book was a 64-page trade paperback, with a wraparound cover by Caldwell.

I was surprised because I knew John’s work, if not his name, from the magazine NATIONAL LAMPOON, from which some of the strips had previously appeared, along with the SATURDAY REVIEW. Yet John was willing to let a publisher with a minimal record put out his book.

I should note that the sales were not terribly robust, but only because it didn’t appeal to the superhero-driven comic distributors we were dealing with. My personal copy is nearby the computer in our home office.

And John Caldwell not only showed up at FantaCon that year, and a few other events, he was a witty, pleasant, not at all arrogant guy. My friend Bill Anderson wrote: “I’m immeasurably saddened to learn of the death of the wonderfully funny and friendly John Caldwell. Meeting, and getting to spend time with, John was a highlight of the early FantaCons for me. Here [below, is one of] two drawings I own by John: a huge sign that he drew for his table at FantaCon (which I literally yanked from his hands as he attempted to throw it away after the convention).”


He was also known locally for that great cover he did for the Blotto album Combo Akimbo. One of the Blotto folks, Sarge remembers John.

On Facebook, MAD magazine expressed its profound sadness as well at the “passing of longtime MAD writer/artist John ‘Hammerhead’ Caldwell:
“John became one of ‘The Usual Gang of Idiots’ in October 1978, MAD #202. Over the years he contributed hundreds of pages to the magazine. He received the enduring nickname ‘Hammerhead’ after mailing a piece of his original cover artwork to the MAD offices wrapped between two flimsy pieces of cheap cardboard, the kind you would expect to get when buying a dress shirt at the Dollar Store. The artwork was almost destroyed in the mail.”

The last time I saw John was an unexpected meeting at the Albany Institute of History and Art a few years back. He remembered the guy who shipped out those Mug Shots for FantaCo. One fan wrote: “I have a whole case [of Mug Shots] buried away.” We both thought that John Caldwell, with his off-center sense of humor, would have appreciated the joke.

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