Watching people work


Here’s another day in the life post: Tuesday, March 26. For some reason, many of these are on Tuesdays. Reflecting on it, I spent a lot of time watching people work. The ones I watched for the longest time were the half-dozen people taking down that tree across the street from my house, especially looking out my middle bay window. It was better than television.

The process involved a guy in the cherry picker trimming the branches of two trees and tethering the damaged section with rope so it would not fall too quickly. The guys below were putting the small branches in the wood chipper – wood chippers always remind me of the movie Fargo. The chips flew into the back of a truck like the one pictured. A guy was running a tractor-like vehicle that carried logs to the chipper. One fellow was carefully controlling passing traffic in both directions.

It fascinated me because I would have had no idea how to take down the tree without potentially damaging a house or car. And the tree is gone; there aren’t even signs of the roots. I love Men At Work.


I helped facilitate the interview of author Ian Ross Singleton by educator Geri Walsh concerning his book The Two Differences, which is a lot about Detroit but especially Odessa, Ukraine.

They had invited the Ukraine Solidarity Capital District to table at the event. The group stands for the country’s “independence and territorial integrity.”

Kudos to reference librarian Susan, the new liaison with the FFAPL for Tuesday book reviews and author talks. Oddly, we went to library school simultaneously but only realized this a few months ago.

I saw the interim branch manager, Deanna, at the circulation desk. Librarians do it all.

Indian food

I agreed to order takeout from our nearby Indian restaurant. I usually order takeout to pick up around 5:30, and it’s relatively efficient. Because of my wife’s work schedule, I arranged for a slightly later slot. I called at 6 p.m. and was told it would take about 25 minutes.

When I arrived at the restaurant at 6:25, I was asked to sit at a table. People arriving after I got there were told the same thing.  There was some confusion; the guy at the register was not a native speaker, I gathered, and it became incumbent for me to explain to them that we were all in the same situation.

However, an increasingly impatient couple was there before I was. He said repeatedly, “How long will this take?” with an increasing edge in his voice. She counted up: “It’s been 35 minutes!” “It’s been 40 minutes!”

When the next order came out, the guy at the register asked them, “Is this your order? Aloo gobi, chicken tikka masala, and lamb saag?” Er, no, that was mine, which made them more disgusted. I wondered, in retrospect, if they were walk-ins. I understood their frustration, but their attitude made me uncomfortable.

Still, the usual manager or owner might have diffused the situation with free mango lassis or another strategy.

And finally

Our daughter complained online that her parents hadn’t gotten her anything for her birthday. “I didn’t know what you wanted.” “I made a list online on Saturday!” That would have been useful to have known.

So, some mail-order workers will get some items to our daughter soon.

Cyndi Lauper and Colin Hay turn 70

Who Can It Be Now

Cyndi Lauper (b June 22nd) received the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1984. Her debut album She’s So Unusual (1983) got to #4 on the Billboard charts and spawned five Top 30  hits, four in the Top Five. I own this album.

Her follow-up album True Colors (1986) generated three Top 12 songs, two of which were Top 3. I never got this one.

In fact, I essentially lost track of her career until my wife bought me her 2003 CD, At Last, a decent covers album.

Cyndi composed music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, based on the 2006 film; Harvey Fierstein wrote the book. It opened on Broadway in April 2013. The musical received 13 nominations, winning six, including Best Musical and Best Actor. She won the award for Best Original Score, the first woman to win solo in this category. The show had a six-year run with 2,507 regular performances before ending its Broadway run in April 2019. 


She was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2023. She was #2 after George Michael in the fan vote but did not get in. When Billboard had a readers’ poll of who was snubbed among those on the ballot, more than half picked her. (I checked Warren Zevon.)

Here’s her website. In October 2022, she noted that she had started her “‘Girls Just Want To Have Fundamental Rights’ Fund, which was formed to financially support women’s issues in an inclusive way.”

She appeared in an episode of Finding Your Roots this season. Here’s a segment about her ancestors playing a part in a Swiss peasant rebellion

 The photograph was from 2014 when “LGBT youth advocate Cyndi Lauper traveled to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.”

I often see her in TV commercials plugging a product to treat her psoriasis.

Here is a 2023 THR interview. “Cyndi Lauper on New Documentary, LGBTQ Fans and Not Loving Her First Recording of ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’: ‘It Was Like Yawn and Boring'”

Her hits 

Girls Just Want To Have Fun, #2 pop for two weeks in 1984

Time After Time, #1 for two weeks pop, #1 for three weeks adult contemporary in 1984

She Bop, #3 pop for three weeks in 1984

All Through The Night, #5 pop, #4 AC in 1984

Money Changes Everything, #27 pop in 1985

The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough, #10 pop in 1985

True Colors, #1 for two weeks pop, #5 AC in 1986

Change of Heart, #3 in 1987

At Last

Everybody Say Yeah from the Broadway Cast Album of Kinky Boots

Men At Work

I have two albums by the Australian group Men at Work, the quintet featuring Colin Hay (b. June 29th) on vocals and guitar. Business as Usual (1982) was #1 on the Billboard album charts for fifteen weeks. Cargo (1983) reached #3 for five weeks. The group won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1983.

They broke up between 1986 and 1996, then split again in 2002, though Hay and Greg Ham played as MaW with guest musicians.

As I noted back in 2012 and Arthur mentioned more recently, “In June 2009, the band was sued for copyright infringement, the allegation being that the flute part was lifted from a 1932 Australian song called ‘Kookaburra.'”

(This is sad: “Ham took the verdict particularly hard, feeling responsible for having performed the flute riff at the centre of the lawsuit and worried that he would only be remembered for copying someone else’s music, resulting in depression and anxiety. Ham’s body was found in his home on 19 April 2012 after he suffered a fatal heart attack at age 58.” Here’s a brief video showing the comparisons. )

But Men at Work founder Hay has continued as a solo musician, putting on albums and tracks on movie soundtracks and television programs.  I know him best from his three appearances on the sitcom Scrubs. Hay has been a member of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.

Their hits

Who Can It Be Now, #1 pop in 1982

Down Under, #1 pop for four weeks, #13 AC in 1982

Overkill, #3 pop, #6 AC in 1983

It’s A Mistake, #6 pop, #10 AC in 1983

Overkill – Colin Hay on Scrubs (2002)


One other notable musician was born in June 1953. Johnny Clegg (b. June 7th) was a “South African musician, singer-songwriter, dancer, anthropologist, and anti-apartheid activist. ” His Wikipedia page notes that he kept forming interracial bands in apartheid South Africa, including Juluka and Savuka.

He had two albums with Savuka to reach the lower rungs of the Billboard charts, Shadow Man (#155 in 1988) and Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World (#123 in 1990).

Johnny Clegg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, ultimately leading to his death on 16 July 2019.

Scatterlings of Africa – Juluka, #106 in 1983, which also appeared on the Rain Man soundtrack (1988)

Dela – used in the film  George of the Jungle

Life Is A Magic Thing – used in the film FernGully: The Last Rainforest

Great Heart

Asimbonanga (live), dedicated to Nelson Mandela

Music Copyright QUESTION

Martin Mull did a song called Licks (Off of Records), parodying the musical trend.

Two of my favorite topics are music and copyright law. When they converge, I’m utterly fascinated. Ann from New Zealand wrote about Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree, a children’s song I learned from a songbook in my elementary school. What I discovered from Ann was that the song was not in the public domain, as I had assumed, but was written in 1934 and is still under copyright. More to the point, the Australian group Men at Work have been successfully sued for lifting bits of Kookaburra and putting it on their 1982 international hit Down Under, where I first heard about vegemite.

But the theft wasn’t discovered until a judge on some TV music show misidentified Down Under as Kookaburra fairly recently. I find this hysterical because I recognized the flute bit as a swipe of Kookaburra right away, but I didn’t think it was substantial enough to be a copyright violation if in fact it was taken from a copyrighted song.

I hear a lot of licks off records, especially on live albums. In fact, Martin Mull did a song called Licks (Off of Records), parodying the trend.

Eric Clapton famously lifted Blue Moon and put it in the guitar solo on Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love, apparently without repercussions. Likewise, Bill Cosby swiped Purple Haze for the title song from his Hooray For The Salvation Army Band! album, apparently without legal action.

What songs have you heard that seem to steal from other songs without attribution, either music or lyrics? Note that Weird Al and MC Hammer, among others, always credited their sources.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial