February Ramblin’

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Roger Ebert’s Last Words, con’t, commenting on the Esquire article (linked) and photo of him. “Resentment is allowing someone to live rent-free in a room in your head.”

How the Somaly Mam Foundation is trying to help end human trafficking

Wayne John tells about the time when a Burger King employee threw a double cheeseburger at him. Lousy aim, too.

Gordon reveals Dymowski and DeNiro – together.

Lady Gaga or Johnny Weir? “Can you tell the difference between the pop princess’ outrageous outfits and the Olympic skating star’s flamboyant costumes without seeing their poker faces?” You Olympics watchers who see figure skating only once every four years have no idea…

Springsteen covers.

And SamuraiFrog has three recent pieces worthy of mention, about Kermit the Frog and friend,Christina Hendricks – no, I’ve never seen Mad Men, either – and a particular Super Bowl ad which also annoyed me. (Should note that, on the latter two pieces, his language is coarser than mine.)

This next section is graphic.

Western New York Legacy web site, www.wnylegacy.org, is freely available online, and contains thousands of digital images, documents, letters, maps, books, slides, and other items reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Western New York

Print & Photographs (P&P) online catalog: Some photos copyright free (and some not).

Rose DesRochers – World Outside my Window: Free Cartoons for Your Blog, two examples of which appear in this very post.



Courtesy of Past Expiry Cartoon



ROG

The Award-Winning…

Jaquandor was kind enough to bestow upon me a “Kreative Blogger” award of some sort.

I feel a certain obligation to pass these kinds of things along, based on the theory that, back in the olden days when I started blogging, some 4.7 years ago, it made the blogisphere – dare I say it? – FUN. Blogging should be fun, even if one’s venting one’s spleen to do so.

You’re supposed to reveal seven things about yourself. Of course, the problem with that I’m almost out of stuff to “reveal” that 1) I didn’t reveal before, 2) require more than a line or two, or 3) I’m not planning to reveal at this point, or quite possibly, ever. No guarantees that the list below might not have bumped into the first category:

1. I receive an irrational amount of pleasure when I delete one piece of spam in Gmail and it says I’ll be deleting “the one conversation”, or “both conversations” when I delete two, as opposed to those programs that will delete “all 1 conversations”, or some such.

2. I once got a B in art in 7th grade. My parents were at a loss as to how I did so well. This explains almost everything you need to know about me and doing art.

3. I once almost flew with someone who was traveling on someone else’s ticket. He got detained by airport security and the police for about seven hours until he showed his security clearance. This, BTW, was before 9/11.

4. I have no tattoos. I’m not opposed at this point, but 1) it would keep me from donating blood for a while and 2) my wife would hate it. Then there’s the pain and permanence thing, but those are secondary.

5. At least twice, I took jobs because of affairs of the heart. Neither was worth it; the jobs weren’t, that is, but the affairs of the heart were.

6. I tape sporting events then watch them later, going through lots of machinations (no news watching/reading or e-mail/Facebook/Twitter). Sometimes it works (Jets/Bengals, Eagles/Cowboys Saturday games I watched on Sunday; Packers/Cardinals Sunday game I finished Tuesday morning); sometimes not (the Patriots loss on the front cover of Monday’s Wall Street Journal).

7. I’m allergic to penicillin and Naprocyn, have been for years, yet I’m too lazy to get one of those tags. But we have one for my daughter with her peanut allergy.

Then I’m supposed to pass the award along. That’s a bit tougher. I’d have considered Jaquandor’s Byzantium Shores. I’d also have picked SamuraiFrog’s Electronic Cerebrectomy, except he gave the award to Jaquandor and that’s a bit too circular for me. Then there are the bums gentlemen who stopped blogging in the last year, who I used to follow.

Still, there’s:

1. Arthur @AmeriNZ – your usual, everyday blog of a gay man from Illinois who moved to New Zealand for love. OK, there’s a LOT more to it: talk about politics, comparative US/NZ culture and whatever enters his fertile mind. He also has a couple podcasts, one on politics, the other, more general.

2. Coverville – the blog is primarily a support mechanism for Brian Ibbott’s great podcast “featuring unusual covers of pop, rock and country songs by new and established performers.” But in the last year or so, he’s added a song rating system to the site. Also, he and his listeners have found some nifty videos of covers that he’s posted.

3. Progressive Ruin: Unfortunately, I gotta give props to Mike Sterling, even though he’s a cheater pants, not just for his persistence – I think he posted 364 days last year – but for some of his regular features, such as his deconstruction of the absurd items Diamond comics catalog, and especially Sluggo Saturdays. Still his obsession with the comic creature Swamp Thing is…disturbing.

4. And speaking of Swamp Thing, its best renderer, IMHO, my buddy Steve Bissette posts his Myrant, a mix of digital comics, comics & film history, political tirades and more.

5. Scott’s Scooter Chronicles is about music, books, beer, and hockey. Truth is that I’m not a big fan of the latter two, but he even makes those interesting. It’s also about his two young sons and being unemployed in America. SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN A JOB!

6. Anthony Velez’s The Dark Glass is a series of theological musings. Sometimes I don’t understand, but he always explains it, or tries to.

7. Gordon at Blog This, Pal! is mostly a pop culture (comics/TV/movies) blog. He knows more about Doctor Who and Kids in the Hall than anyone has a right to. I happen to particularly enjoy those too-rare glimpses of his personal side (his mom, St. Louis vs. Chicago). He also has a podcast that he’s rethinking. He knows I’d always vote for keeping the music, but really, he should do what brings him joy.

ROG

The Rod Serling Holiday

Near twin Gordon has decreed, and I have capitulated, to try to make both Bogie Day and Serling Day the holidays of choice in the blogosphere. Why? “Because both men were born on December 25th, and both encapsulate the ultimate in pop culture coolness.”

But I just don’t have enough to say about Humphrey Bogart, though I did see The African Queen, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and one of my favorite films in the whole world, Casablanca. One of the times I saw Casablanca was in Rochester, NY outdoors in a park with my old neighbor from New Paltz, Debi. How I came to even be in Rochester involves lost brain cells. Oh, yeah, and I have a recording where expounds on the value of baseball.

As for Rod Serling, what more can I say that I didn’t already say here or here, where I discuss meeting him or any number of other posts about episodes and whatnot.

It occurred to me, though, that I may never have mentioned the fact that I attended the world premiere(!) of Twilight Zone: The Movie, 13 days before it officially opened. The event took place, naturally, in Binghamton, NY, my hometown, on June 11, 1983 at the Crest Theater on Main Street, which had a seating capacity of approximately 800. I saw lots of movies at the Crest growing up. Hmm, I wonder if Serling saw any movies there growing up? It was a walkable, certainly a bikeable distance from his house on Bennett Avenue.

Some of the details have faded to memory, such as how I got tickets. I DO recall that it was very hot outside, waiting there for the dignitaries to come in. Of course, Rod was not one of them, having died eight years earlier from smoking cigarettes.

And I DO recall that this was a Very Big Deal for this small city where Rod Serling’s family moved to from Syracuse before he turned two. One of the dignitaries was Helen Foley, Serling’s beloved high school English teacher. Another was Richard Deacon (pictured below with Betty White, circa 1983) who was on Leave It To Beaver, but was best known as the put-upon producer Mel Cooley on The Dick van Dyke Show. Deacon, who died in 1984, was born in Philadelphia in 1921 but also grew up in Binghamton.

As for the movie itself, well, I’d have to see it again. I did think the first segment, a vague remake of A Quality of Mercy (Season 3, episode 80), was almost unrecognizable from the original. The filming of that segment led to the accidental deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two child actors. Whereas the remake of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (Season 5, episode 123) felt pretty much like the William Shatner version, at least in my memory.

The movie segment It’s a Good Life, featured a character named Helen Foley (played by Kathleen Quinlan), which got a big laugh from the audience; oddly, “Helen Foley” was not the name of a character in the original episode, but rather in the Nightmare as a Child television version.

*An episode guide of the television series can be found here.*


Pictures of Rod Serling c. 1955; all photos from LIFE.com.
ROG

Information QUESTION

I was reading the Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago, and they reported that betting line and most of the “experts” predicted that Chicago would get the 2016 Olympics; you know how THAT worked out.

My question, then, is: What are your sources of information that you most trust? It might well be different sources for different info.

For instance, I find Advertising Age to be a remarkably good gauge of the fall television season, not so much what will be good as much as what the advertisers will be likely to buy into, which may have to quality. the shows they picked to click (Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife) showed up on many lists as did their losers (Brothers, the already canceled The Beautiful Life). The point is that, year in and year out, they’ve been reliable.

Bill Flanagan of MTV has an occasional segment on CBS Sunday Morning where he recommends albums. There hasn’t been one I have purchased that I did not enjoy. This includes albums by Lizz Wright, Randy Newman, Mudcrutch, and Levon Helm, plus an album of Nashville blues.

I used to love to watch Roger Ebert with Richard Roeper or the late Gene Siskel, and he, interacting with his cohort, always gave me a good gauge as to whether I would like a movie. I didn’t always like what he liked – he had his blind spots – but I always knew WHY he liked it and it informed my viewing. Actually, now I am more affected by Ebert’s pronouncements on non-movie topics such as alcoholism, death and racism.

When Chicago was up for the Olympics, I had had my doubts about it. So I was happy that Gordon confirmed my feelings; all things Chicago, I tend to listen to Gordon. Likewise, the American expat Arthur’s insights, especially on New Zealand politics, are generally my gauge. And there are a bunch more: Johnny Bacardi on Elton John music, Jaquandor on movie music, etc., etc.

Who are your guides?
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My reaction to Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize was epitomized in the title of something on saw at Common Dreams: now earn it!

ROG

That Equinox Tradition! Ask Roger Anything!

Ask Roger Anything comes at a really opportune time. Answering your questions really revs up the batteries. Leave your questions in the comment section, or if you’re really shy, e-mail them to me.

I don’t know about other bloggers, but I need the relationship that blogging can provide. Often, and this is both counter-intuitive and slightly nerve wracking, I’ll go look at other blogs when I “should” be working on my own. This is not so I can steal from them, though a meme or six has come that way, but because I need the electronic esprit de corps.

A little bit ago, I noted that I don’t really write this blog and that I often have the content of a piece go in a different direction than I had initially planned. Likewise, I learn a lot from commenting elsewhere, including about me.

From Gordon’s noting the passing of a friend, I learned how much I regretted dropping – 20 years ago! -a methodology that I used to use to keep up with friends. From ADD’s piece on creator rights, I realized that there is a parallel between those who want to protect the status quo (“they signed the damn contract; it’s their own fault”) and some forms of Christianity, which I will call fundamentalism (not a great word, really, but understood – or misunderstood well enough for this purpose). Whereas trying to create a more equitable distribution of wealth fits into (my) loosey-goosey “liberal” theology that suggests that getting to the right end is more important than the literal reading of “the law”.

So back to the issue at hand, just about anything goes. I do not recall a question yet that I did not answer, and answer with the truth; the whole truth and nothing but the truth will cost extra.
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Brian at Coverville played my John Hiatt-Elvis Costello request, the lowest rated song on the show, alas!
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Also Musical: Jaquandor’s ten film scores, or filmscores.
ROG