K is for Keys


I tend to lose my keys. I’m convinced that it is some sort of deep psychological antipathy regarding the need for them. Surely, one would not even need keys if one did not require locks and we would not have locks but for the dishonesty of some. At least I know it’s not just me; just last week, someone giving me a ride to work couldn’t find HIS keys; they got thrown in his gym bag but, wrapped around some clothes, failed to make any noise.

When I was younger, I used to be impressed with the number of keys on the key chain of certain people, such as my elementary school custodian. Only later did I find out that the keys were not only a physical burden – a bunch of keys gets heavy over time – but an annoyance as well, having to rifle a couple dozen pieces of metal usually of similar shape, size and color to find the correct one.

My curiosity as a child required me to take off the lock from the front door of my house, as I needed to see how the key worked. Unfortunately, I was unable to put the lock together. Well, technically that’s not true; I did put it back together, but there were parts left over, and it no longer worked properly. Interestingly, I don’t recall getting in trouble for this act. Apparently, my father was more impressed with my curiosity than annoyed the the inconvenience and expense of getting a new lock.

The early automobiles did not even have keys. It wasn’t until 1932, I recently discovered, that Henry G. Key invented the first automobile key. Even then, locking the cars was a sporadic exercise at best in many locales.

I grew up in the upstate New York city of Binghamton, near the Pennsylvania border. It rained quite a bit more than the average city in those days, and cars would often leave their lights on. One particularly dreary day walking home from high school in the late 1960s, I recall going into 22 different cars, opening the door without benefit of a key and turning out the lights. Of course cars are now more sophisticated, and the issue of lights staying on is largely moot. But I couldn’t open these cars without a key, even if the need were there.

Of course, like so many other words, key takes on different meanings. Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State since shortly after 1800. From state historic website: The word “keystone” comes from architecture and refers to the central, wedge-shaped stone in an arch, which holds all the other stones in place. The application of the term “Keystone State” to Pennsylvania cannot be traced to any single source…At a Jefferson Republican victory rally in October 1802, Pennsylvania was toasted as “the keystone in the federal union,” and in the newspaper Aurora the following year the state was referred to as “the keystone in the democratic arch.” The modern persistence of this designation is justified in view of the key position of Pennsylvania in the economic, social, and political development of the United States. Note the different meaning of the word key in the previous sentence.

Conversely, the Florida Keys are comprised of an archipelago of about 1700 islands in the southeast United States. I would never want to live there in hurricane season (June through October), because, from what is pictured on television, there appears to be but one egress from the islands.

The singer Alicia Keys took her last name from the keys on a piano, which she learned to play when she was seven.

As is often the case, I’ll end this with some music, not Alicia Keys, or “Brand New Key” by Melanie, or that song by Francis Scott Key, or even the blues standard Key to the Highway. Instead, based entirely on a Twitter post from someone who claims he isn’t religious but that Stevie Wonder’s Have A Talk With God is just about a perfect song. From the 1976 award-winning album Songs in the Key of Life:

***
Friend Leah, Albany bus activist, writes:
I popped into KeyBank today to take care of some personal finances when the teller I know gave me the 411. Here it is:

Through [Tuesday, 3/31], you can still purchase a 10-trip pass for $9.50 — they are definitely available at the KeyBank on State Street between Broadway and S. Pearl Street [in Albany].

Starting April 1, KeyBank will have to sell the exact same passes for $13.00!! Buy [today] and save. Pass it on.

Leah’s also cited in All Over Albany.


ROG

A Senior Moment

This is a meme I saw at Johnny B’s.

Fill this out about your SENIOR year of high school!

1. Did you date someone from your school senior year? Yes, but we broke up shortly after; her choice, not mine.

2. Did you marry someone from your high school? No.

3. Did you car pool to school? No, I walked.

4. What kind of car did you drive? Didn’t.

5. What kind of car do you have now? We have an Avalon.

6. It’s Friday night…where were you (in high school)? At a party – it as more hanging out, i suppose.

7. It is Friday night…where are you(now)? Home, unless we get a babysitter.

8. What kind of job did you have in high school? Page at the Binghamton Public Library

9. What kind of job do you do now? Librarian for the NYS Small Business Development Center

10. Were you a party animal? We had a group who hung out together.

11. Were you considered a flirt? By some

12. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? Choir

13. Were you a nerd? Possibly

14. Did you get suspended or expelled? No, but I did get reprimanded.

15. Can you sing the fight song? I know the alma mater; did we HAVE a fight song?

16. Who was/were your favorite teacher(s)? There was a young English teacher, but for the life of me, I’ve forgotten her name.

17. Where did you sit during lunch? Cafeteria

18. What was your school’s full name? Binghamton Central HS

19. When did you graduate? 1971

20. What was your school mascot? Bulldog.

21. If you could go back and do it again, would you? Knowing what I know now, my initial reaction was that I would. But upon further reflection, instead of being a “good” kid, I probably WOULD have been suspended. Or expelled.

22. Did you have fun at Prom? It was OK. The them was “All Things Must Pass”, based on the George Harrison song. But I remember better going to see Midnight Cowboy afterwards.

23. Do you still talk to your prom date? We’re friends, but we’ve been out of touch. I did go to her wedding a few years back.

24. Who was your best friend? Karen Durkot or Carol Bakic. The reasons I went to my 35th anniversary reunion in 2006.

25. What did you want to be when you grew up? A lawyer.

26. Any regrets? Yes and no. Wish I were braver, but the way it turned out had value.

27. Biggest fashion mistake? I was oblivious to fashion – still am, actually – so if I had any, I didn’t know. Now I seriously don’t remember.

28. Favorite fashion trend? Ditto. I have no idea. Though I do recall girls wearing culottes. In my sophomore year, they were banned; by senior year, they were standard.

29. Are you going to your next reunion? Perhaps.

30. Who did you have a secret crush on? By senior year, I was happy in my relationship, which would come to a crashing halt four months later.

31. Did you go on spring break? Not that I recall.

***IF YOU WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH THE PERSON THIS IS ABOUT, LEAVE YOUR FAVORITE HIGH SCHOOL MEMORY THAT INVOLVED THAT PERSON!***
ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Lynn

I have a strong idea who Lynn is, but I’m not positive.

Why do you believe in god (assuming you do)?

Yes, I do. Part of it is faith. Part of it is the sense of the wonder and beauty of the world – for me, particularly music – that God seems self-evident. And part of is that, in a much more enlightened, scientific world, is the otherwise unexplanable, which I attribute to God.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Yes, probably, maybe, perhaps, but other than being closer to God, not clear what that means. In any case, it is not the focus of my life.

Do you think that non-believers are doomed in the afterlife?

Non-believers of what? Most religions suggest some type of life after this one. I’m a Christian; do I believe that a devout Jew, Hindu, Muslim is going to hell? Well, no, I don’t, if there is one, which I’m sure some would consider sacrilege, but there it is. In any case, it’s not my call, and again frankly where I’m concentrating.

Jesus said that we don’t know know the time the Lord will come again. Some people seem to have taken that as an excuse to sit by the door, waiting for the Resurrection. I happen to believe that kind of thinking is blasphemy. We should be busy feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and otherwise loving one’s brothers and sisters, our primary tasks.

And what IS hell? Separation from God. I was watching the soon-to-be-canceled TV series Life on Mars, and a couple cops on a stakeout got into a conversation about life after this one. One cop decided heaven, and I’m paraphrasing here, had to do with having all the pizza and sex one could want. And hell is being on the other side looking at all those people in heaven eating pizza and having sex. Don’t know that I’d subscribe exactly to that notion, but the apartness from God would be hell.

What do you think of the theory of evolution in relation to religion?

Ah, the easy question. I find them totally compatible. Some people, and a lot of them are Christians, seem to have confused physical truth and metaphysical truth. The Bible is not a history book; it’s allegory and poetry. Is it true? Sure, the same way a good movie or poem or song can true, not factually but at its core.

Let’s take the Creation. Do I think the earth was literally built in six days, as we now understand the concept of “day”? I do not. But that there was an evolution of the world, where humans arrive fairly late in the game is pretty consistent with most science. My Jehovah’s Witness buddy said just this week that the notion of earth literally being put together in six days is “silly”.

More important is the notion of resting on the Sabbath, which is far more consistently stated in the Bible. In the 10 Commandments. In the story about manna from heaven that was supposed to be collected only six days, with a double portion on that sixth day and none on the seventh. The message of setting aside time for reflection makes sense, even in a secular world, does it not?
***
Neil Gaiman is not a Scientologist.


ROG

On and On Question

But first, may I express my disdain for this white-collar criminal who stole over $110,000 and got no jail time. Meanwhile, someone who recently stole $600 of returnable bottles and cans got six months in jail. As it turns out, I was unfortunate enough to know Felix; he made my life and the lives of some of my colleagues quite difficult, and there are any number of us who wanted to see him behind bars. Feh.

Did you ever want to get a particular piece of information one time, but because you have to sign up, you end up getting mailing/e-mails, etc. ad naseum? That happens to me a lot at work. I used to get stuff from some pizza manufacturing association. I still receive material from associations dealing with everything from raising alpacas to designing car washes.

I DID sign up for New York’s complete state government payroll, which was posted for 2008 recently on www.SeeThroughNY.net, the government transparency website sponsored by the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

But sometimes, I keep getting stuff with no effort on my part. I made reference to an independent film in this blog and now I keep getting their literature. I wrote about the black bicycle champion Major Taylor in this blog, and I keep getting their mailings. It doesn’t bother me; I just find it interesting.

AARP sent me information on joining six years ago, and I did, but then failed tpo renew because of their position on some issue or other; they keep trying to get me back, though.

So what vestiges of information that you may have wanted in the past but no longer desire pops up in your mailbox, electronic or snail?
***
Just yesterday, we received a call from 1-954-636-1087. We didn’t answer and the caller ID did not identify the company. I was curious, though, who it might be; I had faxed something to Florida earlier that day, and I did not want to blow off a legit call. I discovered 800 notes, where people can leave messages about unknown calls. For the number in question, there were a number of recent notices. One contributor discovered the number belongs to something called My Major. “I asked what kind of business it was and they said they are a college locator that provides information about people to college advisors so that they can be called back. I told him that I had already graduated and that I didn’t want them to call again. He said he was sorry and that I was not in their demographic group, then put my number on a do not call list. I would suggest telling them that you have also graduated (even if you have never gone to college) so that they are not interested in you anymore. I will post again if they call back.”
***
Irving R. Levine died. I wonder how many people reading this blog know who he was; I most certainly did. And Dan Seals, member of a popular singing duo and brother of a member of an even more popular duo, died at 61, which always brings me pause. I picked this obit for the local boy makes good headline.


ROG

SOLD OUT Part 2 by John Hebert:

I’d graduated from art school on a Sunday afternoon, then had a few days to goof around, swim, spin my tires and sleep in before Tom Skulan, the guru of FantaCo returned from vacation to (hopefully) officially anoint me the official funnybook arteest of this mysterious project Roger had clued me in on. On that Thursday, I strode into FantaCo to be greeted by Roger and whisked past the rack of comics, fanzines, toys and borderline porn into…THE BACKROOM of the store which was the office and nerve center of the whole operation, not to mention highly top secret and very much off limits to the general populace. It felt cool to be in that elite “club” of people who could pass through that tacky, tacked up curtain behind the shelves and step into the inner workings of a publishing Mecca. This may seem a gushing, drooling bit much but, as so many wanna be comic writers, artists, etc. can attest, when you get to go “behind the curtain” or security door, etc. ala’ “The Wizard Of Oz”, it’s as though you’ve arrived, made it into the inner circle, etc. I can’t even describe the way it felt the first time I was whisked inside the glass security door at Marvel while some hapless and possibly hopeless “shattered dreamers” were left cooling their heels on the couches in the waiting area- it’s like an exclusive club and since so many of us were never invited into the exclusive clubs of the world most likely DUE to being into comics and etc., it’s nice.

The backroom was kind of dismal and gloomy. Not only was it the office but a storeroom stacked with overstocks of various books, magazines, horror posters and borderline porn and it was definitely un-insulated (more on that later), but in the leftmost corner sat Tom Skulan and his desk from which the empire called FantaCo was run. I’d met Tom several times over the years as a customer but it felt different to be actually “peddling my wares” to him as he had a reputation for being able to draw out the best in his creative people. He stood and offered his hand as Roger re-introduced me to him and gave him an abbreviated version of my life’s story, then gestured for me to lay my portfolio out on the desk. I did as directed while proudly repeating the story of my recent completion of art school and coaching by the Zeck-man as Tom flipped through the acetate covered pages, occasionally nodding and mm-hmming approvingly in the quiet but deep Eric Boghosianesque voice that I would come to know well over the next few months (there’s a casting suggestion for Mr. S’s biopic if ever, right down to the curly black hair). Finally, after what seemed like and eternity of my babbling and Raj and Tom’s exchanging of knowing glances not unlike Joe Friday and Bill Gannon, Tom shut the ‘port, looked up at me and said, “Okay, here’s what we’re looking at…” and life was never to be the same again.

The guys broke down the basic plot of what was to become “SOLD OUT”, and I loved it from the moment I heard it, even more so than most of the pitches I’ve gotten over the years from M*rV*l or whomever, this was to be “AN EVENT”, and one helluva satirical one at that. The project was to be a 2 issue spoof/indictment/tell all of all that was bad, hypocritical, phony, and just plain screwed up in comics(I figured that would guarantee some 500 or so pages worth of work right off the top) springing from the then overblown independent, black and white(or as we came to say WAAAAYYYY too many times “poorly drawn black and white”) comic craze. The book would begin with a 3/4 issue or so retelling of the actual history of the comic book marketplace, mercilessly skewering many a comics personality and practice along the way, then spinning out into what may have come to pass if the black-n-white phenomenon was allowed to continue as it had, eventually pushing the comics market into a world of rampant speculation, greed, corruption and eventually decimation due to a lack of that old adage “Those who do not acknowledge the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Before we go any further, let me be the first to say that without reservation, APPROXIMATELY 90% OF WHAT WE EVENTUALLY HAD TO SAY IN THAT LITTLE POORLY DRAWN BLACK AND WHITE COMIC ACTUALLY DID COME TO BE AND WAS EERILY CLOSE TO THE WAY THAT COMICS TOOK A SWAN DIVE IN THE MID-90’s, ALTHOUGH WE “PREDICTED IT” IN 1986!!!!!!!!!! You heard it here, folks, go dig up a back issue and give it a read, it’s more interesting to read now, some 20 plus years later, but, I digress, we’ll come to this later so for now, back to our tale already in progress….

Over the next 45 minutes or so, the 3 or us bounced a lot of ideas off of each other as the project was already obviously writing itself as we went along a la “Casablanca” and the last half of the tale was purposely left to only a brief outline so that we might adapt to the events as they transpired. By the end of our meeting, we’d cited such diverse influences or possible influences as: “Mickey Mouse and The Air Pirates”, “Citizen Kane”, the graphic novel adaptation of “1941” and The Bible. I was sent off to begin sketches of, of all things, a hamster, a turtle, and a stunned kid in front of an empty comic book rack, and, let me tell you, of all the years I was an illustrator and of all the weird stuff I had to reference and sometimes out and out fake, fudge or swipe to tell a story, there weren’t many things tougher to draw than a simple,…… empty,…….. comic book rack…..

To be continued in part 3

ROG

The Lydster, Part 60: Lydia is Five


Gordon also asked: “How’s the Lydster?”

Well, her birthday is today. I wrote a letter to our Bradley birth instructor this week indicating how important that childhood education was for us. (The birth story, BTW, is here.)

We’re planning her birthday party. This will be her first one that wasn’t ice cream and cake with the family. Meanwhile, she’s been to LOTS of fancier gigs of her friends. It’s not a matter of competition, but on the other hand, this one at least, we thought we’d do something at the local museum.

The invitations have turned out to ber more of a chore than we thought. She wants to invite her old friends from day care, some of whom we have no contact info. Meanwhile, she’s decided that she doesn’t want to invite a couple of her new friends because they recently took her stuffed animal without permission. Her mother suggested that she just not bring the stuffed animal; I say that she’s got to speak up when that happens and complain to them and, if necessary, to her teachers. Someone told me kids don’t hold a grudge; I’m not convinced that’s true with mine.

I was tentatively pleased about the news on the peanut butter allergy front. It’d be nice if, one day, she had one less allergy, since it’s about time for the daily sprays to deal with her pollen allergies.

There’s a working dog on our bus every morning. She’s gone from making sure that I’m between her and the canine to hurrying past it; this is progress.

There’s an open house in Albany for kids entering kindergarten this weekend, with registration starting on Monday. Someone suggested that this will make life easier; I’m not convinced. Since we live in walking distance of her school, I’m still not sure how I get her to school and get to work on time. (And by “on time” I’d settle for within a half hour, as opposed to 2.5 hours.) The buses run infrequently to Corporate (frickin’) Woods, and kindergarten starts late – 8:45 a.m. Don’t know how other parents who both work outside the home deal with this stuff.

Lydia is either going to take her first train ride or first plane ride this year; I haven’t decided.

Any specific questions?

ROG

J is for Jazz

The problem with jazz is that it means everything from Kenny G to Madeleine Peyroux to New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band. No definition of the American music seems adequate. One I saw recently described it as “cerebral music with rhythm”. This one is about as OK as I can find. Even the word itself, the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Twentieth Century, has been hard to nail down.

Jazz is about discovery. This article expresses the wonder of discover that jazz can bring.

Ultimately, though, jazz can’t be adequately described. It must be experienced. These are all songs I own.
Tutu (live)- Miles Davis
Tutu was one of the last albums I got as an LP; i.e., on vinyl.

Cassandra Wilson – Harvest Moon
A Neil Young cover.

Benny Goodman & His Orchestra – Sing Sing Sing
As the title suggests, this song DOES have lyrics, but I think it’s better as an instrumental.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – STOMPING AT THE SAVOY
Also recommended: any of the Ella Song Books. Or all of them.

Oh, there’s so much, I can’t do the topic justice.

Here’s a peculiar thing about Jazz that perhaps folks not in the United States or Americans who don’t follow basketball might not know. There is a basketball team called the Utah Jazz. Utah is not generally known for jazz, and in disposition seems to be the antithesis of that music. The Jazz was formed in New Orleans in 1974, a most likely place for a team with such a nickname, but the team moved to the Rocky Mountains in 1979. (New Orleans got the Hornets, a team formerly in Charlotte, NC in 2002.)

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and Gordon

Our first contestant is soon-to-be-daddy again Scott from Scooter Chronicles:

1. In a previous post, you predicted the winners of each MLB division. Who do you think wins the league pennants, and who wins the World Series?

Once you get to a short series, there are so many variables so it’s hard to say. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s a wild card like the Boston Red Sox. And, shades, of 1986, I’m going to pick the Mets to beat them.

By the way, Scott – you NEED this: a free, 586-page PDF of the Emerald Guide to Baseball 2009.

2. What is your take on the AIG bonuses? Where do you think the government needs to take this?

First, those noting that the bonuses were a small percentage of the bailout are correct. Second, the first point is totally irrelevant; AIG is totally tone deaf. I’ve been REALLY uncomfortable with this “too big to fail” label; gives these companies a feeling of entitlement. Given the fact that the average American didn’t even know what AIG WAS a year ago, it’s unsurprising. The only time I ever saw them was on advertisements on Sunday morning talk shows. So their audience was never the average American, it was the DC movers and shakers.

At this point, with over a sixth of a TRILLION dollars already in, the government isn’t going to say to AIG, “Go ahead, go bankrupt,” though those bonuses could have been voided if it had. Some of the bonus monies are going to be given back – or deducted from the next check. But if the government is going to nationalize these companies, and they have all but done so – whatever you want to call it – they damn well better job of setting the rules of engagement for giving away lending OUR money. Politically, if not economically, I think the administration needs to try the “clawback” of AIG bonuses; I know that New York State’s Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has been looking at the contracts as well. Here’s an interesting article about other money our government might try to recover.

3. Who is your favorite musician? Could be a member of a band, or a solo artist, or whomever. But specifically, a musician.

This is probably influenced somewhat by my birthday present, the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival DVD, but I guess I’ll pick Eric Clapton. The stuff on the Yardbirds, Derek and the Dominoes, Blind Faith, his early solo stuff, and especially Cream moved me greatly, and that concert showed that sometimes, he’s still got it.

4. What is your favorite season of the year?

Spring, beginning of new life. It gets warmer. Oddly, it’s also still in Lent, so I get to sing the more mournful stuff in church.

5. Did you read “Watchmen”? If so, what did you think of it? Have any interest in seeing the movie?

I read Watchmen when it came out, and I liked it a lot at the time. I feel as though I should read it again either before or after I see the movie.

Next up, social network maven Gordon from Blog THIS, Pal!

1. Taking a quick business trip to NY City, I want to visit again…but I also want to do more out-of-the-way, quirky places as well as the usual tourist-y stuff. Any suggestions?

The Queens Public Library. Serving the most diverse county in the country, it has a wide variety of collections.

2. Your preliminary thoughts on these early days of the Obama presidency – is he doing right? Way off course?

I have some reservations, but I’m more pleased than displeased. The stuff on Iraq, stem cell research, Gitmo, and much of the stimulus I’m for, especially the emphasis on GREEN jobs and the part about health care, in part because of this story, something Scott has blogged about recently. I loved his apology over the Daschle nomination.

But I’m still not convinced that we’re not going into a quagmire in Afghanistan, as the Soviet Union did, if we’re not already, and more troops might not help. Also, there were a LOT of vacancies in the Treasury Department with a lot to do. I know he inherited TARP, but it rather stinks.

The other question I’ll hold in abeyance.

Still taking more questions!

ROG

The Faith Meme

This quiz was a Facebook thing thing I got from Jaquandor (again!)

1. Who gave you your first Bible?

It was so long ago that I have no idea. Best guess, though, would be my paternal grandmother, who was also my Sunday school teacher. Or perhaps it came from the church itself. No doubt, it was a King James Version. Currently, I own the Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, Good News, The Way and Good News. I also have New Testament only: Jerusalem Bible and New International Version, and probably others. Additionally, I have handbooks, a concordance, essays and hymnals – quite a few hymnals, actually.

I also have The Book of Mormon, which I tried to read but found boring, as well as a Treasury of Kahlil Gibran. I’ve had others, but they’ve disappeared over the years; I don’t recall specifically selling them or giving them away.

2. When and where did you receive your first Communion?

No idea, but it was as a child; I “grew up in the church”, as people were wont to say.

3. What was the first prayer you were taught?

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

When I learned this as a young child, it didn’t bother me, but by the time I was eight or so, it started to really freak me out, actually.

4. What was the first church you attended?

Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Zion (A.M.E. Zion) on Sherman Avenue (or Street) off Carroll Street in Binghamton, NY. The church moved to the corner of Oak and Lydia Streets when I was about seven, just two short blocks from my home.

5. What was the first Bible passage/story that became meaningful to you?

There were so many Bible stories I was taught. I suppose Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace from the Book of Daniel; it may have been their names.

6. What was the first miracle you experienced?

I suppose it was when I started speaking in tongues. I think I’ve told that story in this blog somewhere, though for the life of me, I cannot find it presently.

7. Where and when were you baptized?

Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church, Binghamton, NY, August 1953, which I know only because I’ve seen the photo.

Bonus: Is there a story of faith you would like to share that doesn’t fit into one of these categories? If so, share it.

I had a “saved” experience when I was nine years old. Oddly, it wasn’t at church, but at a Bible study that was maybe a half a block from my church. It almost certainly had to do with a Billy Graham crusade.
Subsequently, I started to go to Friday Night Bible Group, usually with my sister Leslie, for years at the home of Pat and Art Gritman. She was the secretary to Neville Smith, the principal of my elementary/junior high school, Daniel S. Dickinson in Binghamton. She was about 16 years younger than Art; I remember specifically that when she was 48, he was 64.
When I was in high school, I would go to my church in the morning, then walk with my friend Bob Swingle to the Primitive Methodist Church in Johnson City in the evening, not an insubstantial trek on foot. From Bible club and from PM, I could quote chunks of Scripture by heart.
But it was also during high school when doubts about my faith emerged. The notion that, e.g., most people in India, good practicing Hindus, were going to go to hell because they didn’t know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior became problematic to me, and I drifted away from the church in my twenties, merely dabbling in everything from Baha’ism (the faith of an ex) to Catholicism (often my Christmas and Easter place of choice) to Unitarianism to the Unification Church. It wasn’t until the early 1980s when, through music, I found my way back into church, and that was/is a theologically evolving process.

March Ramblin’

I find myself thinking a lot about Natasha Richardson, which is strange because, unprompted by IMBD, I couldn’t tell you one thing I’d seen her in; Nell and the remake of The Parent Trap, as it turns out. Whereas I know about lots of films in which I saw her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, or her husband, Liam Neeson.

Besides the strange way she died, there’s that weird argument that always seems to happen when a famous person passes away. In the comments to this nice article in Salon, one person essentially hijacks the issue with “Aren’t there more important things in the world to worry about?” Lots of back-and-forth that you can read yourselves. Or not.

My feeling is that if someone is uninterested in a “celebrity death”, then he/she oughtn’t to pay attention. But it’s one thing to say, “I don’t care.” It’s quite another to say, “And you shouldn’t either.” People should be allowed to grieve even those they’ve never met, yet because of their artistry or personality or for whatever reason, has moved them in some way. Their loss is real.

And invariably, the death of a celebrity shines a light on the cause of said death, if it’s unusual. (“Wear a helmet when skiing!” “No, it’s too restricting to see and hear properly.”)

I felt the same way when Jennifer Hudson lost three family members to murder. There were those who offered, “People are murdered all the time in Chicago. Why should I care about THIS?” I say: by all means, please don’t. But offer not your analysis about “the celebrity culture”, as though others might not be moved by the American Idol/Dreamgirls performer’s situation. Besides, even in the Windy City, a triple homicide is not an everyday occurrence.
***
Looks as though I’ll still have Dora the Explorer to deal with:
The daughter would normally “age out” of Dora in a year or two. But now that the daughter has dubbed the tween explorer as “beautiful”, I guess I’ll be stuck with her for a little while longer. Why they just didn’t come up with an older cousin so that the original Dora could entertain the younger crowd, I just don’t know.
***
I found this background for a seminar interesting.
In June 2008, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-61, new copyright legislation that closely followed the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The public response to the bill was both immediate and angry – tens of thousands of Canadians wrote to the Minister and their local Members of Parliament, leading to town hall meetings, negative press coverage, and the growing realization that copyright was fast becoming a mainstream political and policy issue.

The “Canadian copy-fight”, which includes many new advocacy groups and the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group that has over 90,000 members, has attracted considerable attention from the mainstream media, with many wondering how copyright had emerged as a contentious policy issue.

So the Canadians are having as much trouble with expanding the copyright law as some Americans did a decade ago, including (need I say) me.
***
There’s an online petition to save Proctor’s Theater in Troy, NY from demolition. Apparently, the current plan is to “save the facade” and tack on behind it some ugly badly-built auditorium. The rest of the beautiful building is to end up in the already overloaded landfill in Albany County.

Frankly, I’m not big on online petitions. Frankly, I doubt their efficacy, especially when the signatories include people who are not constituents of the officials taking an action. But the real audience is not so much the folks who run Troy City Hall as it is Governor Paterson. “The city of Troy is applying for a grant from New York State to demolish the theater. The petition to Governor Paterson is asking him to grant money for the renovation of the theater, not its destruction.

“The theater was built in 1914 and remains the last existing grand movie palace in Troy. While the building is in disrepair, it does not need to be torn down. In 1979 Proctor’s was placed on National Register of Historic Places – but this distinction may not save it from the wrecking ball.”

Anyway, I add my name here because, in some minuscule way, I helped with the renovation of Proctor’s in Schenectady in the late 1970s by selling ads and performing in the arcade for an April 1978 fundraiser. It’s also the building I worked in for nearly 11 months. Here’s a picture of Proctor’s Schenectady – Troy’s is similar though now in disrepair – but, as the petitioner noted, “with vision and leadership it can look like this again!”