Me as fictional characters, plus Obama, Serling, Cosby

Chris from NYADP asks:
Which book/ movie/ TV/ comic book character best represents how you actually are right now?
That would be Bruce Banner. He is the guy who has anger management issues. Fortunately, I was raised well enough that I don’t act on my pent-up rage so I don’t Hulk out. But sometimes, things just infuriate me.

One example is the story of Kenneth Chamberlain, a 68-year-old veteran of the U.S. Marines, was killed in his home by the police in White Plains, NY, on November 19, 2011, after his medical alert device was accidentally set off. According to his son, the audio device installed in his father’s home as part of his medical alert system captured racial slurs – Chamberlain was black – and after the door was knocked down, being Tased before being shot dead.

You’ve probably heard about shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of “neighborhood watch” vigilante George Zimmerman on February 26. There may be disagreement over just what happened that night, but there’s little doubt that incompetent police work after the fact was involved.
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The Toothache

There is a great bit by Bill Cosby on the Why Is There Air? album from the mid-1960s called The Toothache. It’s only about 4 minutes long, but it is full of great wisdom. Without having heard it for possibly decades, I remember some great lines such as:
“Here’s the difference between novocaine and pain. Novocaine doesn’t deaden pain. It postpones it. It allows all its pain buddies to get together and say, ‘We’re going to hit that hole at five o’clock.'”
But the best line, and it’s the delivery, not the words:
“And the pain…was tremendous…”

Well, I went to the dentist on Wednesday. Continue reading

C is for Cosby


Bill Cosby is an iconic individual in my life. It started out with three albums that I listened to so often that I could cite dialogue as well as I could Beatles lyrics, which is to say, quite well.

The problem with describing comedy, though, is it involves context, character development and timing. As the cover of I Started Out as a Child (November 1964) notes, “Cut left at the black Chevy” (from Street Football) is not inherently funny, except as described by the Cos. The album also featured Oops!, a brief bit about the fallacy of the perfection about doctors; and The Lone Ranger, about the masked man and Tonto getting drunk, with the Ranger’s horse Silver telling him, “Get off my back!” But the album also deals with serious topics. Medic is about him being one; “zonked means dead”. And Rigor Mortis, about American funerals, along with my preternatural reading of The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford, helped formulate my preference for cremation over the casket at an early age.

On Why Is There Air? (January 1965), in Driving in San Francisco, he discusses Lombard Street so accurately that it shows up in the Wikipedia description:
“They built a street up there called Lombard Street that goes straight down, and they’re not satisfied with you killing yourself that way—they put grooves and curves and everything in it, and they put flowers there where they’ve buried the people that have killed themselves. Lombard Street, wonderful street.” (audience reacts with knowing cheers and applause). So the one time I went to San Francisco, in 1988, you KNOW I had to go there.

That album, in $75 Car, has one of the few actual jokes. After Bill has hit a tree, he realizes he has a bunch of tickets in the glove compartment, “Which are like Savings Bonds; the longer you keep them, the greater they mature.” Continue reading

Stevie Wonder is 60


Stevie Wonder is 60 years old today. Only 60? Seems that he’s been around forever. I guess that’s what happens when you’re dubbed the “12-year-old genius.” Wish I had the time to indicate all of his significance in my musical life. Among other things, I’ve stated that he and Paul Simon were THE two most important artists in my record collection in the 1970s. Here are just some highlights.

Really don’t remember the earlier singles, such as “Fingertips, Part 2”, except as an oldie. The first song I recall listened to, on the radio, was Uptight (Everything’s Alright) in 1966. I loved it! Later, I got an album from my sister’s godfather, of all people, of Bill Cosby called Silver Throat, where he sings a parody of Uptight called Little Old Man.

My sister owned the 1966 album Down to Earth, containing the title track and A Place In the Sun, the latter a song written by Stevie that everyone at the time seemed compelled to cover. I owned 1970’s Signed Sealed Delivered.

Possibly my favorite Wonder song in the early years was 1967’s “I Was Made to Love Her”

I owned the so-so 1967 Someday At Christmas, though it contains THE great secular Christmas tune, “What Christmas Means to Me.” Continue reading