Rex, you got some ‘splainin’ to do

I have mentioned Chuck Miller’s departure from the Times Union community blogs, as a result of an April Fools joke, and him starting his own blog. He was doing fine, with over 700 subscribers in the first four days, far better than he fared on the Times Union platform. http://66.147.242.86/~chuckti0/well-that-was-an-adventure/ But then:

Last night, I received my Times Union archive of blog posts from the past eight and a half years of blogging for them. I thought everything would be fine, I simply would upload my files and combine old blog posts with new.

Unfortunately, the second I did this…

My chuckthewriterblog.wordpress.com site went crash. Locked me out for violations of terms of service.

Bottom line: chuckthewriterblog.com is currently populating, and will be up soon. But as I know from recent personal experience, it is NOT instantaneous. Check out the temporary blog.

What I DIDN’T get into before was the harrumphing of the Times Union. As quoted by a non-TU blogger named Sylvia:

“A community blog hosted by timesunion.com falsely reported Saturday morning that Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to President Trump, would be the commencement speaker at the University at Albany. As soon as we were alerted to the post, we removed it from our site and suspended the blog. We apologize to anybody who was misled by this post, which was not written by a Times Union staff member. Even on April Fools’ Day, there’s no place for fake news under the Times Union banner.”

TU editor Rex Smith, who I’ve met IRL, and even sang with once, noted on Twitter: “Not funny. The Times Union regrets this violation of the the principle of accurate reporting. This is not TU content.”

And the WAMC Roundtable on 3 April was likewise SHOCKED. The “bogus link” they referenced was Chuck’s senior year on the local TV quiz show for high schoolers, which he’d written about ad nauseum.

Yes, I am humming, “It’s a scandal, it’s a outrage.”

Yet it was only a year earlier that Chuck had written on his TU blog, “Uber reaches agreement to come to Albany!” which made the Washington Post’s April Fools’ Day pranks: 2016’s comprehensive, updating (and upsetting) list. The TU seemed to enjoy hitting on the zeitgeist.

If memory serves, Chuck did NOT slap an April Fools label on that 2016 post the first day, though the next day he did, to avoid the story staying on the Internet under false pretenses. This was fine then for the TU, and one would have expected it would have been fine this year, instead of suspension and blocking him from his site.

Meanwhile, there is another TU community blogger who wrote in March, apparently in all seriousness, that the White House has been closed to visitors since 9/11 until 2017. I won’t link to her because she’s guano crazy. But Heather Fazio mentions her.

Since he’s done a joke blog EVERY YEAR for 8 YEARS, I’ve been forced to conclude that there is something else at play here with Chuck Miller’s suspension. I have to think he got under the TU’s skin once too often. He often advocated for more recognition for the community bloggers, including appearances in the paper, which went away and then came back, as a direct result of his nagging. Early in my tenure as a TU blogger, the TU ponied up for pizza for its unpaid community writers, but no more.

Perhaps the tipping point was him pointing out some oblivious remarks, such as he did on Thursday.

In her blog last Monday, TU staff blogger Kristi Gustafson Barlette wrote a piece about certain thoughts in the Capital District, a “When I think of…” recap…

The part that irked me? This portion.

“When I think of great blogging, I think of Amanda Talar (who is coming back to the east coast). I also think of Matt Baumgartner and really, really miss his blogging.”

Wow. When Kristi Gustafson Barlette thinks of “great blogging,” she references two people who haven’t blogged for the TU in YEARS. Not taking anything away from those bloggers – they have written amazing posts in the past – but it totally ignores the fantastic writing and observations of the Times Union’s current bloggers and raconteurs and observers and writers. Whether you agree or disagree with their topics and thoughts, they at least deserve your attention and consideration.

Maybe if Kristi Gustafson Barlette took a few moments and actually read these blogs, she might indeed find some new favorites. Some new “great blogging” examples.

I wonder if THAT was the last straw for the TU, with his ANNUAL joke – and I will say, Kellyanne, by definition is NOT funny – was just the excuse they were looking for. Or the TU can explain that how it punishes an obvious attempt at humor and tolerating this 4/1 piece while supporting actual fake news on its community pages. If SHE writes fiction, why blast Chuck?

See, here’s the thing: this story isn’t really about Chuck anymore. It’s about a BS response from the TU to him which affects the integrity of the TU organization. The thought that, as an unpaid community blogger, if the TU doesn’t like what you write, you can get kabonged without even so much as an appeal process, in direct contrast to what we were originally told. It’s also saying that the TU accept racist, xenophobic, untrue and vacuous stuff under their banner, but only selectively.

What’s the real story? See the posts by Judd Krasher, Fran Rossi Szpylczyn, Heather Fazio, and Aaron Bush.

The library meme

book_RoomPer Chuck Miller, my fellow Times Union blogger:

“The System”: In the main, the books on music, movies, television are on the shelf in front of me. Behind me: almanacs/trivia; church/faith/religion, including hymnals; the recently acquired unread; bio/autobio; classics (Shakespeare, Grimm, Twain); politics; Beatles. Off to the right, and also upstairs, comic book/comic strip stuff (Marvel Masterworks, Doonesbury collections, Elfquest collections, Life Is Hell). This is imperfect, and I’m much less fussy than I used to be.

Favorite female writer: Rachel Carson. She changed my life.

Favorite male writer: Nelson George.

Bought on location Continue reading

Closing TV themes that are DIFFERENT than the opening theme

Frasier_LogoMy daughter wanted breakfast one morning recently. I thought to give her the tossed salad I had made the night before, which she merely nibbled at. Instead, I went with her request of scrambled eggs; the egg carton was under the salad bowl.

That made me think, naturally, of Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs, the end theme for the TV show Frasier [LISTEN to the extended version] . But what was the opening theme of that show? Seems that it varies a bit; LISTEN to this compilation.

What other shows have distinctive different opening and closing themes? Continue reading

June Rambling: Hal Holbrook; Marimba Queens

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

My denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) voted for marriage equality at its General Assembly this month. “Ministers will be allowed to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.”

On the other hand, Freedom and Faith Coalition’s Road to Majority conference had an Obama figurine in the urinal.

CBS News Sunday Morning did a piece, Born this way: Stories of young transgender children. The ever-interesting Dustbury on Gender Confirmation Surgery.

Writer Jay Lake worked closely with Lynne Thomas, an Illinois-based librarian… to ensure that all his blog posts and essays would be saved for posterity. “Though this is a relatively uncomplicated task for his blog content, which he unambiguously owned, it gets problematic when you wade into the legal rights of preserving your social media presence. ‘You can’t just download Facebook content into an archive.’”

A cartoon from 2008, and still apt: A Concise History Of Black-White Relations In The United States.

Mark Evanier on O.J. Simpson trial nostalgia.
Continue reading

September Rambling: overcoming adversity

Why is September a slow writing month? Haven’t even gotten to look at many interesting links I have set aside to peruse later, then “later” never comes. Jaquandor’s having writing problems too, but it appears to have been rectified, according to his Facebook posts.

Arthur has had a woeful time on HIS blog, but maybe it’s the way it is after seven years of blogging. Or maybe he’s just excited about the fact that on Friday, November 1, he and Nigel are going to the registry office in Auckland, New Zealand to change their civil union to marriage. Mazel tov!

My friend Claire’s annual blog post.

SamuraiFro​g was in a wedding. He was extremely anxious about it Continue reading

August Rambling II: Smart is sexy and stupid is not


The New York Times’ prophetic 1983 warning about the NSA, which naturally leads to Glenn Greenwald killed the internet.

My Feelings About the Harriet Tubman Sex Tape in 10 GIFs.

Invisible Disabilities Day is October 24. I have this friend with rather constant neck pain, but she doesn’t LOOK sick, and therefore feels diminished by those who actually don’t believe her. Conversely, The Complexities of Giving: People with Disabilities as Help Objects.

Photos of the worldly goods of inmates at the Willard Asylum. I backed the Kickstarter for this and wrote about it a couple years ago.

“Each week, TIME Magazine designs covers for four markets: the U.S., Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.” Often, America’s cover is quite, well – different. I had noticed this before. I don’t know that it’s “stunning,” but it IS telling.

The Peanuts gang meets The Smiths, in which This Charming Charlie masterfully blends Charles Schulz’ comics with lyrics by The Smiths. Continue reading

August mid-month bailing-out Rambling

©www.jimbenton.com. Used by permission.

Here’s the truth of the matter: I was away last weekend, overbooked. (Will explain, eventually.) I’ve been exhausted much of the week, rather ticked by something else, and it’s difficult to write. I’ve created ONE blog post for this site this week (the one about the possible Olympic boycott in 2014).

Since I write ahead, it wasn’t an IMMEDIATE problem, but eventually, it would be. At the same time, I hit on a whole bunch of linkage, enough (as of August 9, as I write this) for a whole post, with three weeks to (I hope) find more linking goodness for the end of the month. So consider this my summer vacation/”it’s my blog and I’ll cheat if I want” post.

The Mark Evanier News from ME section, in honor of him being named by TIME magazine, as one of the 25 Best Bloggers of 2013:
While I am very fond of his stories about his parents individually, I love Tales of My Mother and My Father #1. “My parents met in Hartford, Connecticut in the mid-forties. They dated for a time but there was enormous pressure for them to not do this. My father, you see, was Jewish. My mother, you see, was Catholic.” Continue reading

July Rambling: privilege, and 12-tone music

Watch the important documentary Two American Families online at Bill Moyers’ website. In the same vein, To Rescue Local Economies, Cities Seize Underwater Mortgages Through Eminent Domain.

From Meryl, the graphic novel expert: The Armageddon Letters and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also, Zahra – from Paradise to President. Published in 2011, its story takes place in Iran, June 2009.

Brief Thoughts on Shelby County v. Holder by Mark S. Mishler. (But the actual title is TOO long!)

Daniel Nester writes about privilege. I found it interesting, in part, because it reminded me of certain white sociology students Continue reading

Television as a cultural anthropological prism

Ike and Mamie watching TV

I think I keep reading about, and therefore writing about television, despite the fact that I watch it in decreasing amounts, because I find it a fascinating cultural phenomenon. I was at our choir party this month, and we were talking about how networks, particularly ABC, will start broadcasting a serialized show and either never show the ending (The Nine, which I watched) or truncate it badly (this season’s Last Resort, which I wouldn’t watch for that reason) Continue reading

Chuck Miller’s blogging flashback, involving me

Chuck Miller, without a camera obscuring his face

Chuck Miller, a fellow blogger on the Times Union newspaper site, “came across this old video clip of an event from three years ago.” How did he GET that clip anyway? I’ve never had it.

“In March 2010, the Times Union hosted a blogging get-together at the College of Saint Rose. I remember being part of this event; heck, I even showed up in a little video clip that promoted the event.” Continue reading