May Rambling #2: New Zealand music

America.duck
Descendants of Solomon Northup, who recounted his story in a memoir, 12 Years A Slave.

The Real Origins of the Religious Right. “They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.”

Dustbury points to an article about how the ineptitude of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and its predecessors, go back nearly a century.
The Worst Argument Ever Made Against Gay Marriage.

Amy Biancolli’s book: To plunge is to live. Also, her parents in love.

Judy Sanders, former local news reporter and photographer, is dying of ovarian cancer. Confronting the long goodbye from Paul Grondahl, and a piece by her former colleague, Ken Screven.

Diane Cameron’s blog Love in the Time of Cancer has been going on since 2008, but I just discovered it.

Getting kicked out of the prom.

New York Erratic asked: “Have you ever dated anyone who turned out to be gay?” Continue reading

$30,193.86

hospital-billThe bill came for the Daughter’s two-day stay at a local hospital:
Over $4,000 for the emergency room
Over $4,000 for the MRI brain scan
Over $12,000 for the MRI spine scan (which they probably didn’t finish when she balked after an HOUR)
Over $4,000 for various labs.
Over $4,500 in “accommodation fees.”
Plus drugs and physical therapy.

The hospital actually got $4,889 from my insurance company, with over $25,000 eliminated by the “Insurance Contractual Adjustment.”

That made the total due from us $100.

THAT is why I LOATHE it when I’m without insurance.

One can argue whether it was all necessary, to eliminate what she might have had, but evidently did not. Had she suffered from Guillain-Barré syndrome, rather than the viral infection she likely had, it would have been terrible.

One more thing on this topic: the Wife and I were at the hospital all the time, but not always at the same time. I HIGHLY recommend that you get a notebook when you go to the hospital with someone – and you SHOULD have someone, if at all possible. You are likely going to see so many different people, it’ll be difficult to keep track of what each one said.

I’m always coming across people – writers, artists, musicians especially – who have no insurance. It’s usually in the context of someone who has had some illness or injury, and is now facing some catastrophic bills. This is why I’ve supported the single-payer insurance plan that never got off the ground in the bulk of the US; Obamacare is definitely a half a loaf, but, I’m hoping, better than nothing for those people going forward.

Cherry Valley and the Limestone Inn 2014

limestone_mansionBack in October 2001, the Wife and I went to Cherry Valley, NY, about an hour west of Albany. It was, of course, a month after 9/11, and I wanted to get away. She had contended then that we could do what is now known as a staycation. As I have noted, she rather sucks at staycation; she now acknowledges this to be true.

And the Limestone Mansion in 2001 was a pretty good place to be: no TV, no Internet, just nice rooms. The owners, Wolfgang and Loretta, also made breakfast, but they had arranged some chef to do do dinners, and they were, I must say, fabulous.

It was probably some desire to recreate that time that when we arranged to revisit the Limestone for Memorial Day weekend, that The Wife asked me to leave all of my devices, save for the cellphone, home. Though I found it odd, I did, and not only did I regret it, eventually so did she.

It was a trip that almost didn’t happen at all. The car, in that past week, had an irritating habit of starting only occasionally, having SOMETHING to do with the ignition doohickey. That Friday Continue reading

Gladys Knight is 70

GladysKnight.Pips Gladys Knight & the Pips, if I had thought of them, I could have put in my weekly family music groups. One of those pieces of trivia I’ve long known is that “at the age of seven in 1952, she won Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour television show contest.” In 1953, Gladys,”her brother Bubba, sister Brenda, and their cousins William and Eleanor Guest started a singing group called ‘The Pips’ (named after another cousin, James ‘Pip’ Woods). The Pips began to perform and tour, eventually replacing Brenda Knight and Eleanor Guest with Langston George in 1959 and Edward Patten in 1963.”

I felt a bit badly for Gladys and the Pips during their tenure at Motown. Continue reading

T is for the Talking Heads

Frantz, Weymouth, Harrison, Byrne

Frantz, Weymouth, Harrison, Byrne

One of the two greatest concerts I ever saw was the August 1983 performance of the Talking Heads at the Saratoga Performance Arts Center, which someone put online; actually, here’s another recording. It starts with David Byrne by himself on guitar and percussion. He’s joined by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, who were married in 1977, on drums and bass, respectively, for a song or two, before Jerry Harrison joins on guitar. That was the core band, but then the additional players are added in; the process was so organic.

This is the same tour from which the classic Jonathan Demme film Stop Making Sense was taken Continue reading

The Lydster, Part 122: The Games People Play

I’ve noted that I like to play various games with The Daughter, especially at the point she can play competitively with me. She can play the board game SORRY and Connect Four (VIDEO) straight up, meaning she can beat me as often as I can defeat her.

I had always beaten her in Chinese checkers, and even when I played her recently, she was playing in what I thought was a haphazard way, moving sideways when she could have jumped forward. But then she set up multiple jumps and actually beat me, by a single move.

Didn’t enjoy playing checkers with me, because she didn’t seem to grasp it. Then one day she beat me. No, she CRUSHED me. She still had 10 pieces to my two when I conceded.

I decided to play her in Yatzhee, and she she beat me the first time out. I won the next five games, but then she’s been winning half the time, so it’s worth it for both of us to play.

Memorial Day: revisionist history

Almost a year ago, Demeur sent me an article about the history of Memorial Day.

[Historian David] Blight’s award-winning Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001) explained how three “overall visions of Civil War memory collided” in the decades after the war.

The first was the emancipationist vision, embodied in African Americans’ remembrances and the politics of Radical Reconstruction, in which the Civil War was understood principally as a war for the destruction of slavery and the liberation of African Americans to achieve full citizenship.

The second was the reconciliationist vision, ostensibly less political, which focused on honoring the dead on both sides, respecting their sacrifice, and the reunion of the country.

The third was Continue reading

Frank Oz is 70, tomorrow

frank_ozMiss Piggy and Fozzie Bear on The Muppet Show. Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Thee were all creatures performed and co-created by Frank Oz, born Frank Richard Oznowicz. He has also performed Sam Eagle and Animal on the Muppet Show, and Yoda in the Star Wars movies.

Sesame Street, which I was too old to watch, but I did anyway; the various Muppet TV shows and movies; and the original Star Wars trilogy have brought me hours of joy.

I’ve indicated my favorite Muppets recently Continue reading

Bring back the bad weather!

EMPACMother’s Day, May 10, was absolutely beautiful. Blue skies, decent temperatures, no rain, flowers in bloom. Had a nice dinner with an extended troupe of in-laws in Catskill, an hour south of Albany. Got home that evening, went to bed with a hacking cough, which led to a sore throat, in lieu of sleeping. This was not a cold or the flu; this was allergy, to trees, and grass, and pollen. There are conflicting theories as to whether a long and harsh winter could lead to an equally irritating spring allergy season, because it postpones the budding.

All I know is that I was miserable, despite getting injections every four weeks for several months. Now I’m on Fluticasone (nose spray), Advair (an inhaler) and am taking Zyrtec tablet (actually the OTC equivalent); the latter makes me tired, so I take it only at night. I’ve been sleeping sitting up for most of last week and a half.

Oh, yeah, The Daughter has almost exactly the same symptoms.

Saturday night, went to the concert of the Albany Symphony Orchestra at the The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in nearby Troy. EMPAC is a technological marvel, but more than that, it is really cool. Inside the glass enclosure, it reminds one of a ship, in a good way.

I was so looking forward to the concert. ASO highlights living composers. But shortly after the beginning of the first piece, by John Harbison, I felt a coughing jag coming on. Since I was smack dab in the middle, I had to quickly climb past several people, and leave the theater. Couldn’t stop coughing for about ten minutes. Finally, the hacking subsided, and I caught, outside the doors, most of the second piece, also by Harbison.

But I was happy to sit in the back while catching Scattered, a “Concerto for Scat Singing, Piano & Orchestra,” written and performed by Clarice Assad. Here’s the second movement, performed a couple years back; that section is much slower than the first or third movements.

After intermission, composer Joan Tower, who is quite funny, introduced her piece that featured famed percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie in her return to the Albany Symphony; she played on the ASO’s Grammy-winning recording, awarded this year. Glennie, not incidentally, has been deaf since the age of twelve.

The concert was not a total bust, as I did to hear more than half of it. Still, I want this lousy feeling to GO AWAY.