March rambling: as good as Jacinda Ardern

John Oliver’s Monica Lewinsky Interview Should Be Required for Internet Use. The Secret Life of Muslims: An education.

I helped convict two men of murder. I’ve regretted it ever since.

The Secret Life of Muslims: An education.

Jacinda Ardern Has Rewritten the Script for How a Nation Grieves After a Terrorist Attack and Why The World Looks To New Zealand — And Not US and NY Times Editorial Board: U.S. Deserves Leader ‘As Good As Jacinda Ardern’.

These Are the World’s Healthiest Nations. The US is #35 on the list.

Early responses to the Mueller report from Weekly Sift and AmeriNZ.

Public Shaming: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; this Monica Lewinsky Interview Should Be Required for Internet Use.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: The Reparations Debate: Should America Compensate the Descendants of Slaves?

Why You Should Stop Saying ‘Committed Suicide’.

The Trump–Rosie Feud That Ensnared Barbara Walters and Blew Up The View.


Top 10 Most Populous City Ranking History (1950-2035).

Confronting Season-Change Denial.

Vlogbrothers: Writing and Marriage Advice from Michelle Obama and How to Get a Colonoscopy.

The ‘Men’s Liberation’ Movement Time Forgot.

The only metric of success that really matters is the one we ignore.

When Hoarding Is a Disorder.

Mispronouncing Students’ Names: A Slight That Can Cut Deep.

8-year-old homeless refugee takes chess world by storm.

The Power Of Doing Only One Thing.

Chuck Miller spoiler: My big problem with the new Shazam! movie.

Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry on Making Eternal Sunshine.

Green Book: History vs. Hollywood.

Jim Meskimen doing some impressionist “warm-up” exercises.

Happy retirement to Joe Sinnott.

Historian finds first grand slam in MLB history — in Rensselaer County, NY.

Maple Sugaring Time In The South End of Albany.

Now I Know: The Trail Ink Left Behind and How a Silly Social Media Thing Helped Break the Ice and When You’re Glad The Bank Isn’t Trustworthy.


Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind – MonaLisa Twins featuring John Sebastian.

Postmodern Jukebox: Video Killed The Radio Star in the style of Queen ft. Cunio and Pinky And The Brain Theme.

King of Anything – Sara Bareilles.

Workshop versions of songs from Hamilton.

Unforgettable Covers of Aretha Franklin songs.

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – Walker Brothers.

In Ireland -Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty.

The Irish Suite – Leroy Anderson.

K-Chick Radio: Harry Nilsson.

Coverville: 1256: Tributes for Keith Flint, Dick Dale and Cover Stories for Ric Ocasek and Nick Lowe.

Light Calvary overture – Franz von Suppe.

George Winston’s Linus and Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi.

Dick Dale, Surf Guitar Legend, Dead At 81.

Aubrey Logan and her band talk about her new album Where the Sunshine Is Expensive, including a couple clips of the niece/backup singer Rebecca Jade.

Marvin Gaye would have been 80

As a solo artist, Marvin Gaye had future stars such as the Vandellas and the Supremes singing backup for him.

Marvin GayeWe’re coming up to the 80th anniversary of the birth of legendary singer Marvin Gaye (April 2, 1939) AND the 35th anniversary of his death at the hands of his own father (April 1, 1984).

In the 1960s, he was one of the most significant artists on the Motown label. Early on, he was a session drummer. He became a successful songwriter.

As a solo artist, he had future stars such as the Vandellas and the Supremes singing backup for him. He had hits with a number of female duet partners. He was a producers for the Originals and others.

Marvin is so cool that he’s been mashed up musically with
The Ramones and Slayer.

I made a list of favorite songs five years ago, but the links no longer work; numbers refer to chart action on the Billboard charts (US). Three Ain’t songs in my Marvin Gaye Top Ten.

21.The Star-Spangled Banner– version performed at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game
19.Let’s Get It On (1 for six weeks RB, 1 pop, 1973)
18.Got to Give It Up (1 for five weeks RB, 1 pop, 1977)
17.I’ll Be Doggone (1 RB, 8 pop, 1965)
16.Pride And Joy (2 for three weeks RB, 10 pop, 1963)

15.You’re All I Need to Get By (with Tammi Terrell) (1 for five weeks RB, 7 pop, 1968)
14.Your Unchanging Love (7 RB, 33 pop, 1967)
13.I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1 for seven weeks, both RB and pop, 1968) – you know how you’ve heard Stairway to Heaven or Freebird too often?
12.It Takes Two (with Kim Weston) (4 RB, 14 pop, 1967)
11.Mercy Mercy Me (1 for two weeks RB, 4 pop, 1971)

10.Sexual Healing (1 for ten weeks RB, 1982; 3 pop, 1983)
9.Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing (with Tammi Terrell) (1 RB, 8 pop, 1968)
8.What’s Going On (1 for five weeks RB, 2 pop, 1971)
7.Hitch Hike (12 RB, 30 pop, 1963)
6.Ain’t That Peculiar (1 RB, 8 pop, 1965)

5.Stubborn Kind Of Fellow (8 RB, 46 pop, 1962) – and he was, in his dealings with Motown founder Berry Gordy and others
4.Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (with Tammi Terrell) (3 for three weeks RB, 19 pop, 1967); Tears Dry on Their Own by Amy Winehouse leans heavily on this version of the Ashford/Simpson hit
3.Piece Of Clay – described here
2.Inner City Blues (1 for two weeks RB, 9 pop, 1971) – STILL makes me want to holler, throw up both my hands…
1.Can I Get a Witness (3 RB, 22 pop, 1963)

Favorite stars in television and movies

Who is your favorite friend that you met in 1977 at a Halloween party in New Paltz?

Cate BlanchettThe evil Tom the Mayor, who I know from FantaCo wants to know: Who is your all-time favorite Movie Star, Male and Female, one only apiece? Also Favorite TV Stars, same rule, one apiece.

First off, the line between television and film has blurred tremendously. You find performers easily bouncing between the two media. But OK.

Movie star (male): after considering Mark Ruffalo and George Clooney, I ended up with Denzel Washington. He’s the actor who I’ve seen both early on and relatively recently: Cry Freedom (1987), Glory (1989); Mississippi Masala (1991); Malcolm X (1992); Philadelphia (1993); The Pelican Brief (1993); Crimson Tide (1995).

Also, Devil in a Blue Dress (1995); The Preacher’s Wife (1995); The Hurricane (1999); Remember the Titans (2000); The Manchurian Candidate (2004); Unstoppable (2010); and Fences (2016). There were two or three others I might have caught if I had had the time.

Movie star (female): ignoring Streep, for cause: Cate Blanchett, who often disappears into her roles. I’ve seen her in Oscar and Lucinda (1997); Elizabeth (1998); The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999); The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001); The Shipping News (2001); Notes on a Scandal (2006); Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007); Blue Jasmine (2013); Cinderella (2015); Carol (2015); and Ocean’s Eight (2018).

TV star (male): the late James Garner, who played two iconic roles, Bret Maverick in the western Maverick, and private detective Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files. He also became the father figure in 8 Simple Rules after John Ritter died and lasted longer – a couple seasons – than any show losing its protagonist normally would.

TV star (female): excluding Betty White, I’ll go with the late Mary Tyler Moore, who was Laura Petrie in the Dick Van Dyke Show, a series I have on DVD. Then she was Mary Richards on her eponymously-named show.

Huh, I answered a similar question almost nine years ago.

Another question, this from Judy: Who is your favorite friend that you met in 1977 at a Halloween party in New Paltz?

That was a REALLY long time ago. You don’t expect me to remember that far back, do you?

Trying not to lose my marbles

I played the marbles video again, stopped watching it midway through, but continued to listen to it.

marblesI came across this video of 11,000 marbles, and it made me happy.

I saw it a week after a committee at church was finishing the arrangement of speakers for the Adult Education class in February and early March. There was a special guest going to take the third slot, so we only had to work on three weeks. But then that person changed to the second slot, and eventually out of the month altogether.

Finally, we had nailed down A, B, C, and D. Phew! Then A had to drop out. Fortunately, I FINALLY got hold of someone else, the person I had actually pursued first, so it was set: E, B, C, and D.

Then midweek, another person had to reschedule, but was available for a week the committee wasn’t in charge of. I reached the pastors, and NOW the schedule was E, B, F, D and C.

I gained two pounds that week from stress eating. Seriously.

So watching marbles was soothing. Then I played the video again, stopped watching it midway through, but continued to listen to it. It sounded like waters rushing against the shore. It was surprisingly soothing, putting me almost in a Zen-like state.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before. One of my great pet peeves is when someone creates a project like this, or something more elaborate, in the Rube Goldberg tradition, naysayers will squawk, “They must have too much time on their hands!”

In my experience, what this REALLY means is that someone has created a project the squawkers wouldn’t – and probably COULDN’T – have spent their time doing. Which is fine until they belittle those who are doing that something.

At a point when I was starting to lose my marbles a little bit, I’m happy that someone had the skill and interest and sense of fun to move 11,000 orbs of various colors.

“Here’s the host of JEOPARDY!, Alex Trebek!”

While I’m sure Alex Trebek had agreed to the special venue across the country, I think it took him a while to warm up to the change in his rhythm

Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek, Boston, 1998
Some arithmetic guy, and others, have asked me to write about Alex Trebek, in light of his recent diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

I’ve noted in the past that my JEOPARDY! viewing goes back to the 1960s, watching Art Fleming host the weekday show on NBC-TV. When the show returned in 1984, I was fine with the new host, Alex Trebek. I had seen him on a couple games shows, notably High Rollers. Given the fact that I was annoyed by the amount of luck involved in the play, that’s high praise.

When I was on JEOPARDY!, it represented a unique set of circumstances. It was recorded in September 1998 at the Wang Theater in Boston, the first time the regular show took place outside the Los Angeles-area studios. The Massachusetts city was very excited, and expressed in its stories the ‘appropriateness” of the show being recorded there, with all the smart people from Harvard, MIT, et al.

While I’m sure Trebek had agreed to the special venue across the country, I think it took him a while to warm up to the change in his rhythm. For one thing, he had to talk to the press quite a bit: the Boston Globe – in which my picture appeared!- and the Christian Science Monitor, for two.

Alex Trebek quite often says that the reason he likes doing JEOPARDY! is that he enjoys being around smart people. During a lengthy sitting around period for the contestants, we contestants got to watch, though not hear, him being interviewed. You could see on his face and in his body language when he was asked a question he thought was stupid and/or obvious.

Trebek was also reportedly annoyed by how difficult it was to get into the hotel that he and the contestants stayed in. There was a fundraiser for some Democratic candidates there, and Bill Clinton was among a wealth of politicians, reportedly including Vice-President Al Gore, and US Senator Ted Kennedy.

Of course, no one got close to that entrance. Earlier that day, there were massive protests and counter-protests regarding special prosecutor Ken Starr’s probes into Clinton’s behavior.

So it’s in that context that I can try to explain what happened on stage while I was getting a picture with Alex Trebek – he did the rabbit-ears thing on me. I knew it at the time because I could see him doing so in a monitor. Why me? Maybe because, at 45, I was the oldest contestant.

Weeks later, though, I got my photo from being on JEOPARDY! and it’s me alone. I will admit that I was quite disappointed at the time, but I’ve mostly let it go. Still, after hearing the frightening diagnosis, I felt melancholy. I wish I had my paired picture with who The New Republic in November 2014 referred to as The Last King of the American Middlebrow.

Watch these JEOPARDY!-related scenes:
Groundhog Day
Golden Girls
White Men Can’t Jump

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