L is for me doing the laundry

During my wife’s recuperation from foot surgery this summer, I had done the vast majority of the laundry. She sorts, I take them down to the basement to wash, I put them in the dryer, and then haul them up so she can fold them.

What I hate is going down the basement stairs. Like many houses of its vintage, nearly a century, the steps are high and the space going down is narrow. It gives me a case of vertigo. Usually, I just toss the basket from the landing to the basement floor, then gather up the clothes. Going up is MUCH easier.

Being unmarried for many years, I got to the point where I didn’t have to wash the clothes for three weeks. That’s because I had at least a couple dozen shirts and sets of undergarments, an amount my wife thought was crazy when we got married. Conversely, I think she has far too few.

Hey, who had a San Diego Padres tee for her school’s sports day? It wasn’t her. I have T-shirts from various movies, from the Coverville music podcast, and from various other occasions, to wear, depending on my mood. Only this year did I buy some solid color (not white) tees.

So I don’t mind running the machines, but doing it every other day or more is boring. In the past, I had gotten used to schlepping clothes to the laundromat. I ran into my friend Alberta recently, and she told me her washing machine died. But instead of buying a new one, she opted to relish the quietude of reading while the laundromat machines chugged along.

This is certainly true of me: it’s difficult to traverse the “mental load” part of household maintenance and the importance of figuring out how to share it.

On Facebook recently, someone said if the washer is on the left and the dryer is right in countries that read left to right, is different in countries where one reads right to left? But almost no one – not us – have a washer on the left. I wish it were so.

ABC Wednesday

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Music Throwback: We Are the World

This being the birthdays of both Ray Charles (b. 1930) and Bruce Springsteen (b. 1949), the song We Are the World came to mind. Both singers had significant solos.

Let’s back up. Back in 1983-1985, there was a terrible famine in Ethiopia. In reaction to the television reports, Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (Ultravox, Thin Lizzy) wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas? in 1984. “It was first recorded in a single day on 25 November 1984 by Band Aid, a supergroup put together by Geldof and Ure and consisting mainly of the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time.” It was re-recorded three times: in 1989, 2004, and 2014 for various charities.

American singer Harry Belafonte thought that if a bunch of Brits could do this, what could Americans do? Initially thinking of a benefit concert, Belafonte was convinced by “Ken Kragen, who managed an impressive roster of talent, that they could raise more money and make a bigger impact with an original song; Belafonte agreed…”

From Rolling Stone: “‘Check your egos at the door’ read the sign on the front door of A&M Studios in Los Angeles on the night of January 28th, 1985. Producer Quincy Jones had placed it there because dozens of the nation’s biggest singers were walking through that door, and he had exactly one night to cut a record that would save lives by raising money to help alleviate a famine in Ethiopia.

“The result, USA for Africa’s We Are the World, was released… on March 7th, 1985, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.

By all accounts, some people, especially the rockers, didn’t particularly like the song. But it was Springsteen who refused to undermine the process and kept that faction in check.

Here are the lyrics, with indicators of the soloists.

The success of the Band Aid and USA for Africa singles led to benefit concerts such as Live Aid, also in 1985 and the various Farm Aid concerts.

I didn’t buy the single which was #1 for four weeks on the pop charts and two weeks on the soul charts (and #76 on the country charts) and sold four million copies in the US alone. I bought the album, which also sold well, but was lightly regarded.
Listen to:

Do They Know It’s Christmas (1984) here or here

We Are the World here or here (long version)

Queen at Live Aid here

We are the World (2010), for Haiti here

The making of We Are the World here

The subconscious mind of Ask Roger Anything

Here the blogger writes obliquely around what actually happened. The blogger was given some information about himself. He thought some of it was valid, some not, but since he thought it didn’t really matter in the grander scheme of things, he was willing to let it go.

But the funny thing thing is that, in the middle of the night, a couple days later, the blogger’s subconscious recognized that a good portion of the information was BS and needed a response. And in due course, he wrote one.

That ever happen to you?

And the response was about 2000 words in the blogger’s head, but he wrote fewer than 1000. He couldn’t sleep through the night until he had finished it.

I guess you gotta listen to your subconscious.

So I need you now to reach into your personal inner sanctums to Ask Roger Anything. And you may ask truly anything. I promise to respond, generally within a month.

Now I always say that I will answer your questions to the best of my ability, which ebbs and flows. But maybe you’ll hit on something my subconscious wants to unleash, for good or ill. Who knows unless you ask? Obfuscation on my part, while always an option, hasn’t been all that necessary.

You can leave your questions below or on Facebook or Twitter; for the latter, my name is ersie. Always look for the duck. If you prefer to remain anonymous, that’s fine, but you need to SAY so; you should e-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB and note that you want to remain unmentioned; otherwise, I’ll assume you want to be cited.

Stephen King turns 70

Considering I’ve read almost nothing of the writings of Stephen King, and and have watched relatively little of the films based on his work, I nevertheless enjoy his observations about the world.

The first movie I ever saw based on a book of his was The Shining (1980), which I pretty much hated. And it’s because of what happens early on, when the Jack Nicholson character looks crazy pretty much as soon as he’s gotten the keys to the hotel. So the wave of blood in the hall isn’t even scary, it’s comical.

Stand by Me (1986), based on his novella The Body, I loved; a great coming-of-age story. Misery (1990) I Liked a lot, surprisingly given the sudden violence. The Green Mile (1999) I had some problems with, but enjoyed well enough.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994), based on the short story Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, is one of my favorite films, and that’s true for a lot of people. The fact it was a commercial dud before finding its audience somehow makes the movie more satisfying.

That’s it, out of over 200 writing credits. I saw a little of the remake of The Shining (1997), but not enough to count.

I’ve read various comic book adaptations of the work of Stephen King. None was rendered better than Creepshow by the late Berni Wrightson.

The ONLY book of his I ever read cover to cover was 11-22-63, and I read it in less than a month. I know this because I took the then-newish, 800+ page tome out on a 14-day checkout, and I renewed it only once. But I was not interested enough to watch the 2016 miniseries.

Still, I’m interested in what he thinks on a variety of topics. If I were to read another of his books, it would probably be On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Here are some nifty quotes from the book. Possibly my favorite: “If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it.”

He also has some things to say about politics which I must admit dovetail with my worldview.

Happy birthday to the King of Horror.

September rambling #2: Len Wein

Share this post if you agree

A Moment of Silence – a poem by Emmanuel Ortiz

Guntown (Rogue Kite video)

I’m a US military vet, and I feel afraid in my own country

Joe Arpaio: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Reverend Barber on White Supremacy

Tired are the peacemakers

Increasingly, foreign students are choosing Canada over the US

What Your Phone Knows. Is your phone watching you?

What Does an Innocent Man Have to Do to Go Free? Plead Guilty

Here’s why right-wing Christians think they are America’s most persecuted

So, you hate unions because …

The Great Flood and What Comes After

Spotting a viral hoax: Debunking the fakes from Hurricane Irma

Congress’ most unapologetic feminist, Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from my state of New York

How English Was Made – the introduction of the printing press had a profound and revolutionary effect on the language

Why Science-Fiction Writers Couldn’t Imagine the Internet

Scientists Say That Being Forgetful Is Actually A Sign You Are Unusually Intelligent – gee, I HOPE this is true

Newly-coined portmanteaus:
“It took me a long time to get to sleep after the whole shebacle.” From shebang and debacle (per the wife of a friend)
“Vomment” is a comment, usually on social media, someone makes that’s so full of bile and bitterness than it’s the verbal equivalent of vomit (per AmeriNZ)

When I heard Len Wein, the legendary comics writer-editor, passed away at the age of 69, I was surprisingly sad. I had never met him, but he started writing comics professionally almost simultaneously to when I started reading them. Mark Evanier, his long-time friend wrote “Len Wein died… and it feels so odd to type those words even though I’ve known for a long time I would have to.” I also know people IRL who knew him IRL, and I experience their sadness as well. Condolences to his wife Christine Valada

No, I don’t understand Len Wein’s teddy bear thing


How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire

Condolences to my old FantaCo boss Tom Skulan, and his brothers Dan and Joe, on the loss of their mother Ruth. I remember her fondly, though I haven’t seen her since the 1990s. Tom said that she really liked me too, and that she had asked about me as recently as a year ago. She was suffering from Sjogren’s syndrome, which I had been unfamiliar with.

Once the kings of Hollywood, directors are now increasingly interchangeable

22 Broadway Musicals That Closed on Opening Night

How are diamonds made?

Helpful Home Remedies for Sunburn

Now I Know: The Fake Illness Which Saved Lives and The Power of Being Bored and What Happens When a Monkey Takes an Awesome Selfie and The Million Pound Cough

MUSIC

Papa, Can you hear me – Nina Simone

Mozart. Symphony no. 29 in A major

Composer Alan Menken plays his greatest hits in ten minutes

Dee Dee Sharp – Mashed Potato Time and other tunes

Coverville 1185: Cover Stories for Fiona Apple and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics

I don’t want to work

They Dance to a Popular Song from 2016

Why Brian Wilson Is A Genius

Pirate music throwback: We Are Family

The family was going to the movies. I got out of the car and walked a little bit ahead, hoping unsuccessfully to to exchange an old Spectrum Theatre card to get into the entity run by Landmark. They stopped taking them at the end of 2016, alas!

But the Daughter said that I had to wait. She asked, “And do you know why?”

“No”

“Because” – and then she sang “We are family.”

I asked her how she knew it; she’d heard it from some school mates. Did she know who sang it? “Sly and the Family Stone?”

“Sister Sledge. But a good guess, actually.”

I’m reminded of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, who used the song as the team’s theme song that season. It went to #2 pop and #1 r&b on the Billboard charts. It also went to #1 in Canada, and it was Top 6 in the UK, Italy, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

The Pirates had stars such as Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Bill Madlock. They got to the World Series but were down three games to one in a seven-game series. Then I did something uncharacteristic: I bet a couple dollars on the Pirates in Game 5, which they won. And I did likewise for Game 6, in which they were likewise successful. But I chickened out on Game 7, when they won the Series.

From the Wikipedia:

“We Are Family” was the first song that Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards wrote for any other act than their own band Chic… Atlantic Records President Jerry L. Greenberg wanted the pair to write and produce for other acts on the label, which Rodgers and Edwards considered far too big and established, e.g., The Rolling Stones, Bette Midler… The pair suggested that they write and produce a song for the label’s least established act, and that if they got them a hit record, then they could take the challenge of writing for a bigger act.

There’s a We Are Family Foundation, which “amplifies the world’s most influential, creative young people who are positively affecting our planet to power their work and ideas forward.”

Listen to We Are Family here or here or here (12″ version)

K is for Thou Shalt Not Kill

My late mother had a fairly simple theology, which she said was to follow the Ten Commandments. Sometime in the last decade of life, I asked her what did that mean in this world. What is meant by graven images, e.g.?

Also, I asked what does Thou Shalt Not Kill mean? How does it apply to war, self-defense, defense of others, capital punishment, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, even eating meat? This was not a terribly lengthy conversation.

It is evidently true that in biblical Hebrew… “killing (harag) and murder (ratzah) are two different words with two very different moral connotations, and the commandment uses the Hebrew word ratzah.”

The question becomes, Is the last word? I was looking at 78 biblical verses about Thou Shalt Not Kill. On a personal level, I was immediately drawn to Luke 6:31″ “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” This is generally known as the Golden Rule.

Also, from Matthew 5: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

I was a Methodist for the majority of my life, and the message for me has almost always been, “Use your head! Make up your own mind! Don’t just swallow everything the religious leaders have taught you.” I’ve also been struck by what a Unitarian once told me, that we all create our own theology. I think this true: God/the universe/whatever you call it has given us discernment and intellect.

So, for example, capital punishment makes no sense to me. I’ve written in the past about how a father a young woman killed the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 went on a spiritual journey to where he found the idea of vengeance against her murderer, Timothy McVeigh, utterly abhorrent.

But we all find different paths on this journey. What are some of yours?

New York Needs a Constitutional Convention?

There’s an article from the Rockefeller Institute of Government called Why New York Needs a Constitutional Convention, which notes:

“Every 20 years, New Yorkers have the chance to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention (known as a ConCon). The next vote will be held this November. If the voters approve a convention, delegates will be elected in November 2018, and the convention will open in April 2019.”

Here’s the odd thing: I agree with almost everything the writers are saying about a need for a ConCon. Yet I disagree about actually conducting one.

On the affirmative side:
Are you satisfied with the way the state is governed? Surely not.

“New York:
“Has a persistent culture of corruption. Albany thrives on a pay-to-play culture that has seen: four temporary presidents of the Senate since 2008 charged with (and three convicted of) some form of public corruption; the convictions on corruption charges of one of those temporary presidents, Dean Skelos, and the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, within weeks of each other.” The fact that Silver and Joe Bruno’s convictions were overturned barely mitigates this mess.

“Has close to a 90 percent incumbency rate for members of the state Assembly and Senate. More legislators leave office under indictment, conviction, retirement, or death than by losing elections! District lines are drawn in ways that not only favor one party or the other, but insulate most incumbents from primary challenges as well.

“Does anybody really believe that a legislature benefiting from the current power structure and anxious to retain that power would adopt, or even seriously consider, institutional reforms such as…
an independent redistricting commission that would end political gerrymandering…;
an independent Moreland/Ethics Commission?”

On the other hand:

“…the political insiders and lobbyists… view the convention as a great opportunity to rewrite the current Constitution to their own benefit, while making a huge profit in the process. The constitutional convention takes place over several years—while the taxpayers… are footing the bill for the delegates’ election and salary—at an estimated cost of $200 million…

“Any approved amendments will not take effect until at least 2020 and beyond. Delegates will be paid a salary of $80,000 a year (in addition to their other income). Because delegates are elected to their positions, many will be elected officials or politically savvy insiders who are familiar with the techniques and demands of the political process, such as fundraising and campaigning.” That’s what happened the last time, in 1967.

“The argument that the convention provides an opportunity for ‘fresh eyes’ and ‘outsiders’ to participate in government is not the reality. Instead, the reality is that a constitutional convention would be controlled by well-funded special interests, such as… career politicians, and it will put the ‘”foxes in the hen house.'”

There’s a BIG problem in New York, but the solution might well be worse than the disease.

Music throwback: Stax food choices

The Astors

I was listening to one of my Stax-Volt box sets, which I usually do in the summer, in honor of the label’s co-founder Jim Stewart’s birthday. (His sister Estelle Axton ALSO belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, BTW.) I’ve written about Stax before, including its complicated relationship with Atlantic Records.

I noticed that some of the Memphis soul label artists, especially the more obscure ones – we’re not talking Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas – had tracks with food-related titles.

This is not to say that some of the name artists didn’t ALSO choose a musical culinary route. Booker T and the MG’s had a song about popcorn, e.g. But I picked three songs to highlight, two of which may give you tooth decay.

Candy – The Astors. Composed by Booker T & MG’s guitarist Steve Cropper and Isaac Hayes, this is the only one of the Memphis group’s songs to chart. #12 on the R&B charts, #63 on the pop charts (Billboard) in the summer of 1965.

“As ‘Candy’ moved up the charts, The Astors performed on shows at the Uptown Theater in Philly, the Howard Theater in D.C., The Regal Theater in Chicago, and The Apollo Theater in New York. The other performers on these shows included The O’Jays, The Coasters, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions, and Redd Foxx to name a few. The Astors also spent 2 1/2 months performing on tour with The James Brown Review.”

Listen HERE or HERE
***

Sugar, Sugar – The Mad Lads (1966). The song was composed by Alvertis Isbell and Eddie Floyd, the latter a name artist, but, as far as I can tell, the song did not chart. The group is from Detroit.

Listen HERE or HERE
***

Hot Dog- The Four Shells (March 1966). “A Chicago group recording licensed to Stax, produced by Jerry Butler and Eddie Thomas.” I cannot find any chart action for this either.

Listen HERE or HERE

Despite their relative obscurity, these all sound vaguely familiar, as though they were regionally popular, even if they were not always national hits.

100 greatest movie comedies of all time

Some Like It Hot

My problem with of most rosters such as the “greatest movie comedies” is that there’s a good chance I’ve seen substantial portions of them. But they don’t count unless I’ve seen them in their entirety.

So I’ve seen chunks of:

87. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953)
80. Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999)
65. Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980)
54. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
33. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004)

28. It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934)
27. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
25. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
21. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

17. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
16. The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940)
15. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, 1975)
14. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
13. To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)
12. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
11. The Big Lebowski (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1998) This was playing at the local cinema recently, and I didn’t make it

10. The General (Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 1926)
5. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
2. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
1. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) – I’ve probably watched every scene, but never from beginning to end

Odd thing about 100. (tie) The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982) is that I have the soundtrack on LP but I never saw the film

I have seen, almost always in a cinema:

99. The Jerk (Carl Reiner, 1979) – on TV
95. Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984)
85. Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973) – probably at college
84. Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996)

78. The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) – saw this, again, recently, in the cinema with the family
74. Trading Places (John Landis, 1983)
73. The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis, 1963) – as a kid, at the movies
72. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (David Zucker, 1988)
71. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001) – didn’t particularly like it

69. Love and Death (Woody Allen, 1975) – I’ve seen virtually all of Woody’s films in the 20th century
58. Zelig (Woody Allen, 1983)
57. Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004)
56. Broadcast News (James L Brooks, 1987)- when I saw it in the cinema, I loved it at the time
55. Best in Show (Christopher Guest, 2000)
53. The Blues Brothers (John Landis, 1980)

47. Animal House (John Landis, 1978) – I can always listen to the “Germans bomb Pearl Harbor” speech
46. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) – ah, this was a comedy. OK, I guess
44. Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
43. M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970) – when Albany got an independent TV station in the early 1980, now its FOX affiliate, it showed this movie at 8 a.m. on the first Sunday it was on the air

40. The Producers (Mel Brooks, 1967) – my second favorite Brooks movie
38. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940) – on TV
36. A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichton and John Cleese, 1988)
35. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952) – saw it on DVD with the family
34. Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)
32. Raising Arizona (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1987) – possibly THE best movie before the opening credits that I’ve ever seen. Six people the movie theater.
31. Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982)

29. When Harry Met Sally… (Rob Reiner, 1989) – made a star out of Carl Reiner’s wife Estelle
22. Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974) – literally fell out of my seat laughing, in the movie theater
20. Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1974)

9. This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)
7. Airplane! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, 1980) – I’ll Roger that
6. Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979) – I never really understood he controversy; Brian CLEARLY wasn’t Jesus. One of my favorite segments is about what the Romans have done for us
4. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) – one of the first movies I bought on VHS
3. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977) – my touchstone movie, and also one of the first I got on VHS

Only 34 of the greatest movie comedies, meh. There are also links to interesting articles about the gender preferences in the selection.