G is for the girls and women in my family

My wife and I have a daughter, as you probably know. My two sisters each have a daughter. All the females in my little tribe are gathered here together, after my mother’s funeral in Charlotte, NC in February 2011.

As it turns out, my wife’s two younger brothers both have children. One brother has twin daughters, the other a solo daughter, all born in the same year.

When the Daughter was born, one of my very long-time friends heard I had had a child, she mistakenly heard we had a son. Corrected, she was greatly relieved. “Thank God!” she exclaimed.

Maybe it’s because she knows I’ve always gotten along with girls and women, in the main, far more than I have boys and men. I would have one or two male friends, but a lot of female friends by comparison.

I’m not sure why, though. Maybe it’s the testosterone-laden braggadocio that the male of the species engaged in that I found irritating/exhausting.

This is interesting: Dads pay more attention to baby girls than boys, study says. “Fathers of daughters spent about 60% more time attentively responding to their child, compared to those with sons. They also spent about five times as much time singing and whistling with girls and spoke more openly about emotions, including sadness.”

The study notes: “the research could not establish the extent to which innate preferences of girls and boys might be prompting different treatment from their parent. However, the authors concluded that it was likely that social biases were playing at least some role.”

And the song that started running through my mind – there’s always a song, isn’t there? – is a lengthy piece called Soliloquy, from the musical Carousel by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, and made famous by Frank Sinatra (LISTEN).

The protagonist ASSUMED that he would have a son – “My boy, Bill” – until the thought:
What if he is a girl?
What would I do with her?
What could I do for her?
A bum with no money
You can have fun with a son
But you got to be a father to a girl

Hmm, I DO have fun with the Daughter. I guess, in my heart of hearts, I was glad that we had a girl.

ABC Wednesday, Round 21

G is for Dick Gregory: activist, comedian, writer

When I was at BB King’s Blues Club in NYC this past week, I noticed that Dick Gregory was scheduled to do two shows with Paul Mooney on November 2. Yes, he was still active up to the end of his life. The club’s description is a good place to start:

“An activist, philosopher, anti-drug crusader, comedian, author, actor, recording artist, and nutritionist, Dick Gregory was on the front line in the ’60s during the Civil Rights era. Today he continues to be a ‘drum major for justice and equality.’

“Born in 1932 in St. Louis, MO, his social satire has drastically changed the way white Americans perceive African Americans. After beginning to perform comedy in the mid-’50s while serving in the army, Gregory first entered the national comedy scene in 1961, when Chicago’s Playboy Club (as a direct request from publisher Hugh Hefner) booked him as a replacement for white comedian, ‘Professor’ Irwin Corey. His tenure as a replacement for Corey was so successful – at one performance he won over an audience that included Southern white convention goers – that the Playboy Club offered him a contract extension from several weeks to three years.”

Dustbury shares the fried chicken joke.

“By 1962 Gregory had become a nationally known headline performer, selling out nightclubs, making numerous national television appearances, and recording popular comedy albums.”

Though Mark Evanier knew Gregory from his LPs, I was more familiar with him from his books, especially From the Back of the Bus, my father’s paperback copy, which I devoured.

Early on, he became a civil rights activist, working with Malcolm and Martin, among others.

I have mentioned on these pages, most recently on 20160603, that Dick Gregory ran for President in 1968, and that my parents, especially my father, were inclined to vote for this black man for President. I couldn’t yet vote, but I lobbied strongly for Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate, stating that Richard Nixon, the Republican, was too dangerous. What they did in the privacy of the voting booth, I’ll never know, but I STILL have the campaign button.

“Although Gregory’s steadfast commitment has limited his opportunities to perform, he’s still found ways to share his powerful and often comedic message with audiences across the country. In 1996, he took the stage stage with his critically acclaimed one-man show, Dick Gregory Live! The reviews of the show compared him to the greatest stand-ups in the history of Broadway…

“Although Gregory announced in 2001 that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma, he was able to battle the cancer into remission with a regimen of diet, vitamins, and exercise… The new millennium has found Gregory continuing to write, perform, and shape public opinion. ‘I’ve lived long enough to need two autobiographies, which is fine with me,’ he laughs. ‘I’m looking forward to writing the third and fourth volumes as well.”

Dick Gregory has died at the age of 84, and the world is diminished by that fact.

For ABC Wednesday

August rambling #2: egotistical, arrogant, boorish

Children of Catholic priests live with secrets and sorrow

Salt Lake County Mayor posed as a homeless person

How we talk about ‘ethnic’ food matters

Why top chefs are starting to give dishwashers their due

The Symptoms of Dying

Questions for Me About Dying By Cory Taylor

Etiquette and the Cancer Patient

Female Lawyers Can Talk, Too

Actually, I was biologically designed to be an engineer

The Many Lives of Pauli Murray, an architect of the civil-rights struggle—and the women’s movement

For ‘Little Mermaid’ star, a rude awakening in Middle America

A study of the 1947 short Don’t Be a Sucker suggests old attitudes about fascism in America have never gone away

With teamwork and hustle, Toledo Blade dominated after Charlottesville attack

Yorkshire Pudding of the UK wrote: “My initial definition of ‘trumpish’ is “egotistical, arrogant and boorish, having the capacity to swat away all criticism and blunder ahead in the unsophisticated manner of the 45th President of the USA”

HOW DONALD TRUMP AND ROY COHN’S RUTHLESS SYMBIOSIS CHANGED AMERICA

The Real Story Behind All Those Confederate Statues

John Oliver: North Korea

Scott Pruitt Is Turning the EPA into the KGB

Border wall at National Butterfly Center violates property rights and worse

David Letterman Reflects on Harvey Pekar

The World’s First Robot Lawyer

Upstate New York is waiting for the next eclipse: April 6 2024

The Moral History of Air Conditioning

How (not) to memorise mathematics

The Meaning of ‘Mamihlapinatapai’

Yes, Your Manuscript Was Due 30 Years Ago

A Social Media-Fueled Bestseller List, of Poetry

A friend of mine wrote recently, on a Friday: “If you tried to contact me anytime after Tuesday, sorry I did not get back to you! My phone went spastic and wasn’t receiving messages until about 5 minutes ago when it suddenly downloaded over 100 of them. So…give me a bit and I will answer you eventually.” Sounds like what would happen to me, if I were to text.

Notes from a Baby-Names Obsessive

Albany’s Nipper the dog history

Safe and Healthy Formulas for Your Feline Friend

The day Captain Kangaroo visited Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

Will Disney stop publishing Marvel comic books?

TV’s Original SPIDER-MAN Breaks His Silence

Woman Sues Cap’n Crunch Because ‘Crunchberries’ Are Not Fruit

Now I Know: A Penny (or 2,500) For Your Misdeeds and The Man Who Liked Himself So Much, He Went to Jail and The Balloon Expedition to the North Pole That Was a Bust and LEGO’s Grayscale Color War

MUSIC

Sheila E. Stands Up for Freedom in ‘Funky National Anthem: Message 2 America’

Pachelbel’s Canon in D, scrolling score

Rubber Soul

Back Alley Oproar

i got music, part iii: i like my hands (and will not cut them off)

Music, August 1971: Concert for Bangladesh

More random music recollections based on the book Never A Dull Moment.

By today’s standards, or even by the criteria of rock benefit concerts later that decade, George Harrison had no idea what he was doing as a benefit organizer. The Concert for Bangladesh, initiated after the former East Pakistan suffered from massacres and famine, happened because the former Beatle saw the effect the tragedy had on his friend and teacher Ravi Shankar, a Bengali.

Harrison was able to line up Ringo Starr. Would there be a Beatles reunion, the press wondered? Er, no. The mysterious Klaus Voorman, who designed the Revolver cover, and played bass on John’s Live Peace in Toronto, was on board. But John wanted Yoko there too and that was the end of that. The only place the Beatles would all be together would be on the charts.

Longtime session musician Leon Russell was hot off Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. A drug-addled Eric Clapton was such an uncertainty that George had Peter Frampton show up at the rehearsals, just in case. Keyboardist Billy Preston, drummer Jim Keltner, the band Badfinger, and some of Russell’s cohorts completed the band. Both Harrison, who never had to be the front man before, and Bob Dylan, who had been out of the spotlight for some time, were nervous.

August 1 was the only available date at Madison Square Garden before Disney on Parade took over. Two shows at 2:30 and 8 pm. “There were no plans to broadcast the show live on radio or to record for TV.” Of the three cameras used to capture the show, “what survives is largely thanks to the camera that was in the pits.”

Meanwhile, Warner Brothers Records in Los Angeles was signing up artists with seemingly little concern for their immediate commercial viability. Randy Newman, Lowell George of Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder. Asylum Records, under David Geffen, was signing Jackson Browne and an unnamed group that would become The Eagles.

There were lots of accidental meetings of troubadours. Graham Parsons finds Emmylou Harris. Kris Kristofferson and Paul Anka meet on a plane, see each other’s gigs, and this led to the signing of Steve Goodman and John Prine. Jerry Jeff Walker hears an Anna McGarrigle song and pitches it to Linda Ronstadt; it was Heart Like a Wheel.

It was a magic, synchronistic time.

Listen to:

What is Life – George Harrison here or here

Willin’ – Little Feat here or here

City of New Orleans – Steve Goodman here or here

Hello In There – John Prine here or here

Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers here or here

Heart Like A Wheel – Kate and Anna McGarrigle here or here

Rotten Tomatoes’ BEST SCI-FI MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Science fiction is not particularly my favorite movie genre. I don’t dismiss it, but I’m not necessarily motivated to see films either.

And SOME of the films are, I’ve heard, monumental.

As part of my Lazy Summer Blogging series, here’s the first half of Rotten Tomatoes’ Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time.

A * indicates one of the paltry number of films I’ve actually seen.
The link in INTERSTELLAR is to my review.

100. A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001) – I actually thought to see this at the time. That will be a recurring theme.
99. SPLICE (2010) -barely remember it being advertised.
98. SIGNS (2002) – I guess this was one of the GOOD M. Night Shyamalan films
97. PACIFIC RIM (2013) – had no interest
96. PREDATOR (1987) – one of those Arnold films where you say, “You didn’t see THAT?” I probably had some comic book adaptation, though
95. SUNSHINE (2007) – don’t remember this at all

94. VIDEODROME (1983) – now this I remember being advertised, because director David Cronenberg was practically a god to FantaCo’s horror fans.
I should note that, in addition to selling comic books, FantaCo sold magazines about films, especially horror films, and even published books and magazines and comic books about the sub-genre. It wasn’t my thing, personally, but I became quite conversant about movies that I had never seen, just by reading about them.

* 93. STAR TREK III – THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) – finally, a film I saw, and at the movies. I was emotionally invested.

92. WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) – the was the year when we had an infant; we missed LOTS of movies
91. JURASSIC WORLD (2015) – wasn’t interested

90. DREDD (2012) – I actually used to read the comic books, but wasn’t ready for on-screen “bombastic violence”
89. PROMETHEUS (2012) – didn’t need a “quasi-prequel to Alien”

*88. INTERSTELLAR (2014) – I agree that “its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp”

87. MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME (1985) – probably saw bits and pieces of this on TV
86. ALIEN: COVENANT (2017) – nah
85. GATTACA (1997) – another “I thought about seeing that”
84. THE THING (1982) – also in the “I was aware of it because of FantaCo”
83. PAPRIKA (2006) – had not heard of this
82. TOTAL RECALL (1990) – another Arnold movie I’ve seen bits and pieces of on TV
81. METROPOLIS (2002) – don’t remember if this played around here

80. PREDESTINATION (2015) – not remembering this at all
79. THEY LIVE (1988) – another John Carpenter film from my FantaCo days
78. STAR TREK VI – THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991) – after the terrible Star Trek V movie, I never saw another Star Trek film until the first reboot; I need to catch up on thesest
77. SERENITY (2005) – came out in the new baby period
76. THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976) – on the list of the films I want to see

*75. STAR WARS: EPISODE VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) – a suitable ending of that first trilogy

74. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011) – saw the violence of the trailer and opted out
73. STAR WARS: EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005) – after loathing Star Wars I, never gave II or II a chance

*72. WESTWORLD (1973) – very effective. No, I haven’t seen the more recent iteration.a

71. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) – another John Carpenter film from my FantaCo era
70. LOS CRONOCRÍMENES (TIMECRIMES) (2007) – don’t know it

*69. ALTERED STATES (1980) – I LOVED this movie at the time, though I have not seen it since. It “attacks the viewer with its inventive, aggressive mix of muddled sound effects and visual pyrotechnics.”

68. TURBO KID (2015) – don’t recall hearing about this
67. SUPER 8 (2011) – yet another “I was going to see that
66. AKIRA (1988) – thought it’s animated, I sensed it was too violent for my taste
65. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (2016) – not remembering this
64. TWELVE MONKEYS (12 MONKEYS) (1995) – considered seeing this and didn’t for some reason
63. THE ABYSS (1989) – not the only James Cameron film on this list I haven’t seen
62. AVATAR (2009) – this one, for instance, only the #2 all-time domestic grossing film (and #15, even accounting for inflation)

*61. ROBOCOP (1987) – I found it a “surprisingly smart sci-fi flick that uses ultraviolence to disguise its satire of American culture.”

*60. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) – my favorite Star Trek movie, and the one that was most parodied. “KHAAAAAAN!”

*59. THE MATRIX (1999) – I was glad to have seen this, not enough to see the sequels, mind you.

58. STAR TREK BEYOND (2016) – I hadn’t seen the previous film when this came out; I’ll probably catch it sometime.
57. THE HUNGER GAMES (2012) – I know it’s a YA favorite, but I suspect it’s too violent for the Daughter’s taste, and probably mine
56. ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011) – from the Shaun of the Dead people, but I don’t know it
55. MOON (2009) – don’t know it at all
54. THX 1138 (1971) – I suppose I OUGHT to see George Lucas’ feature

*53. PLANET OF THE APES (1968) – I was really taken by this film when it first came out, even before I knew Rod Serling had written the screenplay from Pierre Boule’s novel.

52. GALAXY QUEST (1999) – I had intended to see this but did not
51. MAD MAX (1979) – I’ve seen bits of this on TV; looked intriguing

The next fifty next week. I’ve seen a lot more of them.

“Why so many blacks in ads?”

“Why so many blacks in ads?” is one of those burning issues that I was totally oblivious to until Frank S. Robinson, no relation to the Hall of Fame outfielder, as far as I know, laid it out recently.

He wrote that “I’ve made a point of tallying blacks in ads and commercials. And in fact they are way overrepresented, relative to their 13+% population share.” Oh, dear! And I thought we were supposed to be post-racial!

An “over-educated Trump supporter” named Bruce who’s “a conscientious, growing, practicing follower of Jesus Christ” – that is oxymoronic to me – elucidates further that not only are there too many blacks, but that “women as the head of household and/or the ‘brains of the outfit’ are overrepresented” as well, and breaks down other delineations.

“Urban liberal advertising agency powers are still directing ad content and money to buy ad campaigns, so this should be no surprise.

“However, are they risking a backlash? Are they fomenting a bit of ‘reverse racism’ and unnecessary divisiveness?”

Oh, so NOW it’s “divisiveness”. Maybe I need that course that some GWU law professor suggested to understand certain disgruntled 2016 voters.

To deal with this “scourge”, I recommend:

Frank should look at TV commercials, not just in recent years, but over the period that there has been national television. Let’s pick 1947, because that makes it an even 70 years, and because that was the year the World Series was first broadcast nationally – OK, to six cities from Schenectady to St. Louis.

Bruce should calculate the racial composition of those ads running in the 1950s and 1960s and well beyond versus the racial breakdown. He would discover, shockingly, that there was a certain group that was “overrepresented” compared to its numbers in the population for a very long time.

Moreover, the ads representing a changing demographic. One in seven marriages in 2014 were of people from different races/ethnic groups, so the commercials represent not just what is but what will be.

At the point that the average number blacks and Hispanics et al. in ads are overrepresented over the seven-decade span – and not just the “non-threatening black friend” (yikes, 1 black person among 4 white people is already over your 13% quota!) – I’ll get back to them on what to do about this “problem”.

Meanwhile, I’ll muse over Frank’s assertion: “That yuppie demographic is where the consumer-spending money is. And for them, blackness is actually attractive; connoting coolness, hipness, with-it-ness, knowing what’s going on. Not inferior but superior. And to this demographic, an America fully integrating blacks is a better America. Putting them in ads hence creates a positive buzz.”

In other words, that assertion from the 1960s and ’70s that some deemed “racist” may be true: Black IS beautiful. And speaking of which, Procter and Gamble put out an ad called the Talk, which a conservative site described, in the title of its article, as “‘Sick sick sick’ racist Procter & Gamble ad crosses every line! If you are white, brace yourself before watching”.

Elvis has left the building

“Elvis has left the building” has become such a cliche, or as the Wikipedia puts it, “a catchphrase and punchline,” if you’re young enough, you may not know that people actually said it of Elvis Presley.

It was “announced at the end of [his] concerts to encourage fans to accept that there would be no further encores and to go home. It is now used more widely to indicate that someone has made an exit or that something is complete.”

From Phrases:

“Oddly, although the phrase was routinely used to encourage the audience to leave, the first time that it was announced it was to encourage them to stay in their seats. That first use was in December 1956 by Horace Logan [listen], who was the announcer at the Louisiana Hayride show, in which Elvis was a regular performer.

“Presley had very quickly become very popular with teenagers but had previously taken a regular lowly spot at the Hayride, which was his first big break. He was on the bill quite early in proceedings but after his performance was over and the encore complete, the crowd of teenagers, who weren’t Hillbilly enthusiasts, began to leave. Logan announced: ‘Please, young people … Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away … Please take your seats.'”

Throughout the 1970s, the phrase was captured on record several times, spoken by Al Dvorin.

Now, it is “used to refer to anyone who has exited in some sense. For instance, it might be used when someone makes a dramatic exit from an argument, to relieve tension among those who remain. Baseball broadcasters on radio and/or television sometimes use the phrase as a humorous way to describe a home run, which is typically hit over the outfield fence, leaving the field of play.”

There is a movie called Elvis Has Left the Building (2004): “A fugitive Pink Lady rep hooks up with a bored ad exec as she’s trying to avoid going down for the murder of several Elvis impersonators.”

The phrase is referred to in the Dire Straits song Calling Elvis [listen].

Calling Elvis
Is anybody home?
Calling Elvis
I’m here all alone
Did he leave the building?
Or can he come to the phone?
Calling Elvis
I’m here all alone

The Wikipedia lists several pop references to the phrase, including the films The Usual Suspects and Independence Day. But it doesn’t mention Elvis is Dead by Living Colour [listen], which is the strongest reference for me.

Elvis is dead, 40 years today. Or as I read 40 years ago tomorrow, Elvis HAS left the building. Right? RIGHT?!

F is for fascists, white supremacists and other thugs

The oddest political statement this weekend may have come from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday. He said he’s not entirely sure why white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other groups feel DJT is sympathetic to their cause, that “they believe they have a friend in Donald Trump.”

The mayor of Charlottesville, VA knows why: There is a “direct line” between how President Donald Trump’s campaign played on the nation’s “worst prejudices” and the rioting that ended in the deaths of three people in his city, plus lots of other violence, Mayor Mike Signer said Sunday. “Look at the campaign he ran,” Signer told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I mean, look at the intentional courting, both on the one hand of all these white supremacists, white nationalists, a group like that, anti-Semitic groups, and then look on the other hand the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence… put to bed all those different efforts, just like we saw [Saturday].”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke knows why: At the start of “Unite the Right” rally kicked off in Charlottesville, Virginia, Duke said the gathering of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and far-right individuals pointed to a future fulfillment of President Donald Trump’s “promises.” For instance, when he picked Steve Bannon, who had been executive chair of “Breitbart News, a far-right news, opinion, and commentary website,” to participate in his campaign and then become his White House chief strategist.

Graham urged the Donald to immediately condemn the hate groups. “They are enemies of freedom,” but DJT “missed an opportunity” in his comments Saturday to disavow any relationship with racist organizations.

Or as John Oliver coarsely put it, ‘Idiot’ Trump Managed To Screw Up Disavowing Nazis. “Nazis are a lot like cats. If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.” Yet, Orange was able to lash out at an African-American C.E.O. who quit an advisory panel over the response to Charlottesville.

Meanwhile, several Republicans, including Orrin Hatch, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and even First Daughter Ivanka Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, have strongly denounced the white supremacists and their allies, as did the chancellor of Germany. The “evil attack” by a driver on a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville was domestic terrorism, the attorney general said.

When the White House offered its weak tea rejection of the Nazis and their allies, Duke warned Trump, “Remember it was white Americans who put you in the presidency.” He did eventually recite something, too little and too late.

I understand that we need to talk to each other, but what does one say to someone at the rally so utterly oblivious to his xenophobia? These are people who fancy themselves the victims of the so-called politically correct assault on American democracy, “a false narrative that helped propel Mr. Trump to victory. Each feeds on the same demented lies about race and justice that corrupt true democracy and erode real liberty.”

Here a map of hate groups in the United States. It is mourning in America. “God” Responds To White Supremacist Terrorists.

The summer of MEGO

What we did on my wife’s summer vacation: a whole lot of financial stuff.

For one thing, we worked on our will. The major, although by no means only, issue, is what would happen to the Daughter if something were to happen to both her mother AND her father. This is such happy business.

Then we worked with not one, but two financial planners. OK, I personally only went to one of them, trying to figure out how I can retire in a couple years and still be able to help the Daughter through college. And what would retirement look like, since I don’t play golf?

My young bride would also like to retire eventually, and she attended some additional workshops to get a better idea what her benefits would be.

We’re developing an “asset allocation strategy that is consistent with your risk tolerance, time horizon and investment objectives so there is coordination amongst all your investment so that all your accounts are working together vs independently.”

ZZZ, what?

My risk tolerance, it must be stated, is EXTREMELY low, When I was getting those quarterly statements during the great recession, the sole (not that much of an) upside was that others were taking even a worse financial bath.

I should note that my wife LOVES this stuff, reviewing our life insurance programs – she used to sell insurance before she became a teacher again. She taught for a couple years in the mid-1980s, then returned to it at the beginning of this century after back to graduate school.

But for me, My Eyes Glaze Over. I told our financial advisor straight off that the process was akin to going to the dentist; it’s important but painful. That initial 100-minute meeting was probably twice what my attention span could take.

That said, he was surprised, given my stated disdain for the process, that I knew Stuff. Just because it bores me doesn’t mean I’m unaware.

Come September, our fun summer project will (I hope) blessedly be over.