Prince CharlesIt may be softheadedness, particularly since I think the whole idea of monarchy and primogeniture is rather silly. Still, sometimes I feel sorry for Prince Charles.

After all, the only job for which he has been trained to do is to become king. And his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, stubbornly, remains alive and shows no signs of abdicating. He is the oldest and longest-serving heir apparent in British history.

Worse, because of his massive royal wedding to Diana Spencer, which turned into a marriage gone very wrong, almost no one really wants him to be king at all at this point. They favor his eldest son with the late, beloved Diana, William, who had his fairytale wedding of his own with Kate Middleton. William has now fathered three more heirs of his own.

To the degree Charles is tolerated, beyond royal protocol, it’s because Charles appears to have been a good dad to William and Harry. This was especially true after Diana, the fun, sensitive, compassionate one was killed in 1997. The folks in the UK seem even tolerant of Charles’ second wife, Camilla, who he probably should have married in the first place.

Charles represents his mother in many functions, much having to do with the Commonwealth. He also does quite a bit of charitable work, especially regarding education and the environment. He frets about the world of plastics his grandchildren are going to grow up in.

No wonder that being first in line for the British throne may have gone to Prince Charles’ head.

“The Prince of Wales… has reportedly earned a special nickname among the staff at Clarence House: The Pampered Prince. That’s because, according to Amazon Prime’s new documentary ‘Serving the Royals: Inside the Firm,’ Charles needs help doing just about everything.

“‘His pajamas are pressed every morning, his shoelaces are pressed flat with an iron, the bath plug has to be in a certain position and the water temperature has to be just tepid,’ Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, revealed in the documentary…

“This isn’t the first time that Prince Charles’ odd behavior has made headlines. A recently published book by Tom Bowers, ‘Rebel Prince, The Power, Passion, And Defiance Of Prince Charles,’ includes interviews with more than 120 people who share outlandish stories about working for the Royals.

“Apparently, Princess Diana’s ex brings his own toilet seat with him when he travels, changes outfits five times a day, only recently discovered what Saran wrap is and never shows up to a dinner party without his own food.”

Quoting the Simon & Garfunkel, “How terribly strange to be 70.” There was birthday party earlier this year, but today’s the actual natal day.

As you may know, “In Greek mythology Sisyphus or Sisyphos was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He is being punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when they near the top, repeating this action for eternity. Through the classical influence on modern culture, tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as Sisyphean.”

So I was a bit tickled when my buddy Chris wrote: “I am a happy Sisyphus; my rock is a delight.”

She agreed, as I suspected, that she was paraphrasing Albert Camus, who wrote:

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile.

“Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

Chris said that if Camus “can recognize the likely futility of life and be happy in Vichy France, I can be happy in the coziness of my college…” despite the inevitable frustrations. She added, “Camus, I’m guessing got it from King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, so all good ideas came from somewhere.”

Until I had come across that quote some time ago, I had never thought of Sisyphus as happy. So, I gather that there should be joy in taking on narrow-mindedness in the classroom when the students see only duality – right/wrong, black/white – because there is often nuance.

We should find joy in fighting poverty, saving the environment, promoting justice, seeking equality, et al., even when that rock rolls down the hill. You have to, in the words of Curtis Mayfield, Keep on pushing.

Zachary Kanin’s 2014 New Yorker illustration

For ABC Wednesday

Megyn KellyIf you’re in the United States, you might be familiar with Megyn Kelly. She was a news personality for Fox News from 2004 to 2017. She was a panelist at one of the Republican “debates”, where she had a bit of a row with one of the candidates, the one who ended up getting the nomination.

I imagine it’s why she was hired by NBC to be their “conservative female journalist.” On her short-lived Sunday evening show, she interviewed conspiracy nut Alex Jones, which was not a popular move.

Then she was given the third hour of the four-hour block of the TODAY show, but she never fit in thematically, or, apparently, personally. Her rating were disastrous.

When she was in a discussion about Halloween and described that using blackface had been considered acceptable when she was growing up, a couple things happened. One was that she was heavily criticized, especially by her NBC colleagues.

She gave up an apology, acknowledging the painful legacy, but diminishing her statement by mentioning how she tended not being “politically correct.” She lost her post as host of the 9 a.m. hour of the “Today” show.

I wish there had been a bit more of that explanation, not merely that it was “offensive.” CBS News Sunday Morning provided Blackface: A cultural history of a racist art form.

Borowitz of the New Yorker, wrote, satirically, Fox News Says Megyn Kelly’s Blackface Comments Not Racist Enough to Get Old Job Back.

The other reaction was from where she grew up, which happens to be Delmar, Albany County, NY. Students from her high school alma mater condemned Kelly’s comments, saying she was not accurately describing their town.

One prominent Albany Law School grad complained that, largely based on her race-baiting arguments on Fox, the law school shamefully put Kelly, class of 1995, on the cover of its alumni magazine, hosted her book signing, and had her speak at a graduation.

Ivan Rodat, who went to high school with Megyn Kelly wrote a measured response in Blackface in the ’Burbs.

A good friend of mine told me that the family now lives in the house Megyn Kelly grew up in. I only recently learned that when NBC first signed Kelly, the network wanted the current owners to “meet cute” the former resident. That was, to say the least, a non-starter.

http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cai.2a11702

This is the big one: the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great World War, the war to end all wars, which has not worked out nearly as well as we would have liked.

I read this spring: The 3.3 million veterans who have served since September 11, 2001, “now are roughly half the size of the largest living veteran population: Those who served in the Vietnam era.”

While I knew this intellectually, it pained me to see: “As this year marks the 15th and 17th anniversaries of the onset of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…” This means that every 16-year-old born in the United States has ALWAYS lived with war, just as every 18-year-old has lived post-Columbine, the Colorado mass shooting.

Or more correctly, warlike conflicts, since the US doesn’t usually bother with such formalities involving Congress declaring war anymore. Because of the voluntary nature of the military, it is not always obvious on the home front that we’re at war, or in conflict, or whatever we call it. No war bonds or victory gardens.

And it’s a tricky thing to recognize the valor of a soldier in combat, even when one opposes the actual incursion. My long-held opposition to the wars in Vietnam and Iraq have led to some to label me in the past as unpatriotic, not “supporting our troops.” To which I said some version of “I support their right to come home in one piece.”

I’ve never understood how a bumper sticker actually translated into helping those who served in the military. Whereas helping homeless veterans, or helping those with the physical and psychological scars of battle are noble callings.

More Census stats:

“Veterans who have served since 9/11 are more diverse

“About 17 percent are women, 15.3 percent are black, and 12.1 percent are Hispanic. Almost half (47.6 percent) are still under the age of 35.

“They are an educated group. More than 46 percent have some college education and 32 percent have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2016, about 612,000 post-9/11 veterans were in college.”

Music throwback: Loving You Has Made Me BananasI can’t believe – or maybe I CAN believe – that I failed to note the 50th anniversary earlier this year of the release of Loving You Has Made Me Bananas by Guy Marks. Marks, born Mario Scarpa on Halloween 1923 in South Philadelphia, PA, was one of 11 children, nine who lived to adulthood, born to Italian immigrants.

“He had a natural gift for mimicry, and his impressions of celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Boris Karloff, and many others were considered among the best. However, he also could imitate a housefly on a slippery oil cloth, neon signs, alligators, driftwood furniture, rubber bands, frozen chickens, frogs, praying mantis, and — his favorite — an ostrich, all of which found their way into his act or in characters he played on TV.”

Marks “made his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 29, 1960. From that point on he appeared dozens of times throughout the 1960s and 1970s on popular variety shows. His big break came when he was cast as a regular on the 1962–63 season of The Joey Bishop Show.”

Loving You Has Made Me Bananas is an odd song in that I rarely heard it when it first came out – it only reached #51 on the Billboard pop charts, though #19 on the adult contemporary list, in 1968 – but when I did, I assumed it was some oldie I had somehow managed to have missed. It hit the Top 30 in the UK in both 1968 and 1978.

In the day, everyone knew 3/4s of the chorus:

Oh, your red scarf matches your eyes
You closed your cover before striking
[something something something] blues
Loving you has made me bananas.

But what was that third line? I never knew until recently:
Father had the shipfitter blues

Guy Marks died November 28, 1987 at the age of 64.

Listen to the single:

Loving You Has Made Me Bananas here or here

Forgive Me My Love here

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