September rambling #3: taking a knee

It occurred to me that people not familiar with American football may not understand the play “taking a knee“. It “occurs when the quarterback immediately kneels to the ground, ending the play on contact, after receiving the snap. It is primarily used to run the clock down, either at the end of the first half or the game itself, in order to preserve a lead or a win. Although it generally results in a loss of a yard and uses up a down, it minimizes the risk of a fumble, which would give the other team a chance at recovering the ball.

“Especially when the outcome of the game has been well decided, defenses will often give little resistance to the play as a matter of sportsmanship as well as to reduce injury risk on what is a relatively simple play.”

This is what spiritual warfare looks like. “There is not a more perfect gesture of Christian nonviolent resistance than to kneel while the lovers of empire stand. It makes a spectacle of our worldly powers”

Bob Costas on NFL protests and patriotism

Principled stands taken at great risk are often how movements are born

The Daily Show: When is the ‘right time’ for black people to protest?

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?

Nationalism Reconsidered

Ibram Kendi, leading scholar about racism: education and love are not the answer

The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’ (from a white guy)

“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.” –Maggie Kuhn

John Green reviews what is known and what is not known about the Russia Scandal

Right-Wing Star Declares He’s Too Healthy For Insurance: Guess What Happened. He has a car accident and now needs a GoFundMe to pay for this hospital bills. The schadenfreude was not strong here; it was more function of irritation, way out of proportion, over his arrogance

Corporate Consolidation: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Court Rules Copyright is Not a “Use It or Lose It” Right

Hurricane names are Insufficiently intimidating

Last weekend, I went to two street festivals in Albany. Larkfest I used to go to all of the time when I was single and lived nearby, but it had been a while. I was helping Albany Public Library staff to get folks to get library cards. The Madison Street Fair is smaller, but closer. At both events, the weather got HOT; sunburn at Larkfest, which is particularly bad for me with the vitiligo, so I used an umbrella at Madison.

Amy Biancolli: turns on the slide

Veteran Voice Actress June Foray Remembered at Packed Event

Closed Campus? A Case Study of Skipping at Subchunkin, a place three blocks from my house

A Letter of Resignation Walking away, and “the hardest thing I’ve ever written”

The Dead Man Who Sued to Make Himself Alive and The Man Who Ate Lots of Potatoes

MUSIC

K-Chuck Radio: Motown like you’ve never heard it before

Coverville 1186: Cover Stories for 10CC, Nick Cave and Oasis

Uranium Fever – Elton Britt (1955)

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Music, September 1971: widely un-bought

“Not all the fresh music made in 1971 made an impact in that year. Some of it didn’t come out until years later the people who made it had made it had moved on, had become different people, or died.” That’s the first sentence in the September chapter of Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth.

The Modern Lovers included future Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison and leader Jonathan Richman, who is considered by some to be the ‘godfather of punk rock.”

Roxy Music was primarily wanted to be perceived as an art project, as most of the members, including Bryan Ferry, were students. Likewise, David Byrne was meeting up with Chris Frantz at the Phode Island School of Design and thinking about a band called the Artistics; Byrne and Franz would, of course, also help create Talking Heads.

Kraftwerk was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1969. Their second album had “more in common with the workshopping approach to improvised theater than the performance-oriented approach of traditional rock.”

When the critics suggest who ought to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they often mention this band, certainly not for its commercial success, but its influence. The Wikipedia notes: “Kraftwerk’s musical style and image can be heard and seen in 1980s synthpop groups such as Gary Numan, Ultravox, John Foxx, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Human League, Depeche Mode, Visage, and Soft Cell.”

Alex Chilton had experience some success with a band called the Box Tops, but the experience left him drained. He and some mates ended up starting a band called Big Star. Their album, #1 Record, released in 1972, did nothing, maybe because it was released on the soul label Stax, which had just bought itself out “of a distribution deal with Columbia” [Records] and therefore had to “promote a white rock record through a black promotion and distribution system.”

The records of the Velvet Underground and Big Star, “like those of of the Stooges, MC5 and Nick Drake, were widely available and widely un-bought.” But those artists inspired music that eventually topped the charts.

Listen to

George Jackson – Bob Dylan here or here

Motel Blues – Loudon Wainwright III here or here

Hospital – Modern Lovers here or here

Andy Warhol – David Bowie here or here

Life Is a Carnival – the Band here or here

The Emmy Awards, which I did not watch

When I was growing up, I always watched the Emmy Awards. It was my opportunity to see my favorite television performers in the surreal moment of being off-script.

But I haven’t watched them in a number of years, and I know why: I’ve never seen most of the programs being honored. A lot of them have been on HBO, which I’ve never subscribed to, and an increasing number on services such as Netflix.

And the Emmy ratings were lower than they were any year except 2016, so it’s not just me. I’m sure the Handmaid’s Tale miniseries was tremendous – I read the book 20 years ago – but the buzz about the TV program is all secondhand to me.

Even the shows that are on basic cable, which I could watch, I don’t. I happened to catch an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia recently – it was on after the Daily Show – and I hated it so much, I couldn’t finish it.

And speaking of hate, Ken Levine, who has won three Emmys for writing Cheers, did his usual snarky review of the event, both as a podcast and in his blog, and apparently he got a lot of backlash. He was critical of Emmy announcer Jermaine Fowler, who is black, and some folks decided that Levine must be racist.

Well, I heard a couple of Fowler’s bits, and I thought they were fine, for WWE (wrestling), or being a home team announcer for a basketball or football game. (Someone else suggested that Fowler should cover sports, and there were those who perceived THAT to be a racist comment, because they were presumably implying that blacks should stay in their lane.)

I have real ambivalence about former White House press secretary Sean Spicer showing up at the Emmys. On one hand, he was a lying [place your favorite profanity here] in his previous position. On the other hand, his sudden appearance caught the audience by surprise, notably Melissa McCarthy, who portrayed him on Saturday Night Live, and Veep’s Anna Chlumsky, whose reaction became a Facebook GIF. I’m just pleased that none of the networks – CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and even FOX – are going to hire him.

As that list of shows that I “should” watch grows and grows, my chances of watching future Emmy Awards shrinks. The good stuff I’ll catch on YouTube clips.

The phrase “President Trump” still fills me with stunned disbelief

Our first contestant in Ask Roger Anything -you may still participate! is Jaquandor, writer of fine books, who asks:

To what degree does the phrase “President Trump” still fill you with stunned disbelief?

It used to be about 11 on a scale of 10. Now it’s only 9.89. To this day, there are people who say I dislike him because my candidate lost. This is not at all the case.

It’s because this guy either doesn’t know how to be Presidential, or actively chooses not to be. He goes on Twitter, finds a video of him hitting a golf ball and his shot “hitting” Hillary Clinton. So, like a juvenile, he retweets it.

He comes up with an unclever name for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, “Rocket Man” – isn’t that what he wants Kim to STOP doing? The New Yorker’s David Borowitz had some satirical fun with this: In War of Elton John Lyrics, Kim Jong Un Calls Trump “Honky Cat” .

And then Trump, possibly encouraged by his shrinking base, uses it AGAIN in his address to the United Nations. This appears to be the dangerous taunting by an adolescent.

And Kim’s use of the word dotard – “a person, especially an old person, exhibiting a decline in mental faculties; a weak-minded or foolish old person” – put many Americans in the uncomfortable position of wondering whether he was onto something.

His threatened withdrawal of the Iran nuclear agreement makes creating a deal with North Korea even more difficult. Since the United States agreed to VOLUNTARY benchmarks for our participation in the Paris climate change accord, the US withdrawal doesn’t even make sense. Our allies oppose our leaving the Paris accords, and most feel the same on the Iran deal.

Trump pardons a criminal sheriff, who violated hundreds of people’s civil rights. He declares that Nazis and white supremacists can be “good people.” Then he calls NFL players who kneel for the national anthem “sons of bitches” who should be fired. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rightly released a statement saying Trump’s comments are “divisive” and show a lack of respect for the league, the game, and the players.

His behavior, to borrow a term, is unpresidented.

He supports various pieces of legislation in Congress without seeming to have any idea what they mean. He said that Cassidy-Graham, the latest iteration of “let’s kill Obamacare”, is “better than the other bills” the Senate tried to pass in 2017. Given the fact that the new bill’s impact hasn’t been fully explored by the Congressional Budget Office, this assertion seems dubious.

His anti-immigrant positions have helped lead foreign students to choose to go to college in Canada, travelers abroad avoiding the United States and the DACA fanilies being destabilize in the US. I won’t even get into the migrant farm workers who won’t be there to pick the crops.

So, yes, it’s difficult to believe that any “normal” President could be so terrible so quickly. See The Seth Abramson Trump Tweetstorm

The Lydster: more empathetic

There was a Washington Post article in April 2017, The simple idea to make kids more empathetic? Get them reading the news. It’s about a specific program sythesizing the news.

One of the things I tried to protect the Daughter from was the news. I thought I was watching it when she was busy doing other things. But at some point, when she was eight or nine, I noticed she was picking up on stories. Moreover, she was aware of them at a level that I knew that her classmates were not. And that is still true.

I must admit this is a curse she has inherited from from her father, who was reading op/ed columns in the local paper at 9 or 10. William F. Buckley and Jack Anderson and the like was on my reading diet.

Following the news, she became more aware of the candidates for President – she hated Chris Christie, loved Bernie Sanders – and more of them than 90% of American adults.

I tried very hard not to inculcate her with my pain about race in America. Yet the evidence in the news, with only some minor clarification from me, really informed how she saw unarmed black men getting shot. I really didn’t want her to have to know about this, but it’s out there.

She has participated in walks to fight hunger. She has contributed money to help shelter animals. She really does have a good heart, which would probably embarrass her, but so be it.

I think that she will be a good citizen. She’ll follow the issues and she’ll always vote. At this point, I can’t see her ever running for office – at some level, she is very shy – but i can imagine her working behind the scenes for a candidate she supports. And perhaps she’ll surprise me.

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

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.