30 November 2012

My Top 5 Shipwreck Songs!

5. "Isle of France"
Nic Jones, 1977
4.  "Billy Bones and the White Bird"
Elton John, 1975
3.  "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
Gordon Lightfoot, 1975

2.  "Odessa (City on the Black Sea)"
Bee Gees, 1969
1. "The Theme from Gilligan's Island"
The Wellingtons, 1964

29 November 2012

Economically and metaphorically speaking, I'm torn between...

...the "debt ceiling" and the "fiscal cliff." 

While neither is a particularly happy place, the former suggests shelter, but the latter offers great vistas, right?

A financial Scylla and Charybdis...now we're talking!

A Brian Wilson Showdown: Rhymin' Simon or Sir Elton


Is it wrong of me to prefer having, in the Baseball Hall of Fame...

...some of the players on the 2013 ballot, like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, who (admittedly or not) lengthened their careers and padded their stats through steroid use, than 2004 inductee Paul Molitor, who, as a designated hitter, got the hitting numbers he did by sitting on the bench for most of his career?  (And, no, the DH isn't the same as a relief pitcher because, when a reliever is pitching well and then due up to bat, the manager has to decide, "Is his (probably) making an out at this point in the game worth my still having him pitch in the next inning?"  That's called "strategy."
    I truly believe if players are THAT good at some aspect of the game, then their teams should have to gamble that their strengths outweigh their weaknesses.  In the final years, Bonds was nothing close to the defensive player that he was earlier in his career, but his hitting made him worth the risk.  Ditto with McGwire, and Sosa.
     Please, Commissioner Selig, get rid of the DH!

28 November 2012

I thought we were beyond this sort of...

...over-reaction to rather trite artistic statements...

...because, if we're not, I'll never be able to get a gallery to display my:

"Nixon in Gethsemane"
"Harding  Parts the Red Sea"
"FDR Feeds the 5000"
"W. Walks on Water"
Ars longa, vita brevis

26 November 2012

25 November 2012

Our (at times) oxymoronic culture

1)  More students than ever require remedial math classes when they enter college, while the popularity of "rotisserie leagues" in football, baseball, etc., which require nothing but the pursuit and comprehension of statistical data, have made sports of all kinds more popular than ever.  Don't these fantasy league players realize it's math that they're doing before/during/after every game?

2)  We have the highest percentage of obese people in our country's history at the same time that, I'm betting, we have the highest percentage of people training for and participating in marathons, half-marathons, 5-Ks, etc..., not to mention more of these kinds of races than ever in our history. 

And while, I think, our split-personality in #2 can be explained by class and/or socio-economics (if those are different), the first one remains utterly inexplicable to me.   

I'm not going too much out on a limb, I'm bettin', by thinking that Lindsay Lohan's "Liz and Dick"

...is not going to be very good, and that even just a snippet of Gail Wronsky's "Cirque du Liz and Dick, Puerto Vallarta" (available in Ava Gardner: Touches of Venus) will be more enlightening -- and entertaining -- than the entire made-for-television movie!

So, here you go:

...Here it’s all La Vida no vale nada.
Life is worth nothing.
Part of her is sorry she became

a public utility.
Part of him wants to do Hamlet again.
But he feels closer to Claudius,

Marrying so quickly on top of the death
of the other marriage.  A woman
is like glass, they say here:

always in danger.
they’ve renamed the town Seething

They still have that feeling of antenna
a quivering contact with each other.
Above her head she poses

another spray of artificial roses,
making him think of a novelty rodeo act
he saw a very long time ago in Wales.










I probably was "Darrin Stephens" in another life...

...because I really like advertising.

Several years ago, I won lunch with the Chancellor and a t-shirt (!) in the Connecticut State University System's motto contest with:

CSU: Developing a State of Minds
(Nota bene: Now that CSU has become ConnSCU, heaven knows what we're developing with all those extra initials.)
I've also always believed that the Chamber of Commerce of a certain Cape Cod town could make not a little money selling hats, t-shits, and bumper stickers with the slogan:
I Gotta Mashpee!
And, as we were driving this Thanksgiving, I figured, in all the years since The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi (or in whatever Star Wars film the character debuted), in a Maryland town along I-95 someone must have already opened a little eatery/sandwich shop named:
The Joppa Hut
Then again, maybe not.

21 November 2012

Lou Reed or Robbie Robertson?

For the Thanksgiving (Literary) Feast: Joel Barlow's "The Hasty Pudding"

My favorite parts of Joel Barlow's The Hasty Pudding (1793)

From "Canto I"

I sing the sweets I know, the charms I feel,
My morning incense, and my evening meal,
The sweets of Hasty Pudding. Come, dear bowl,
Glide o'er my palate, and inspire my soul.
The milk beside thee, smoking from the kine,
It's substance mingled, married in with thine,
Shall cool and temper thy superior heat,
And save the pains of blowing while I eat.
Oh! could the smooth, the emblematic song
Flow like thy genial juices o'er my tongue,
Could those mild morsels in my numbers chime,
And, as they roll in substance, roll in rime,
No more thy awkward unpoetic name
Should shun the muse, or prejudice thy fame;
But rising grateful to the accustomed ear,
All bards should catch it, and all realms revere!
Assist me first with pious toil to trace
Through wrecks of time thy lineage and they race;
Declare what lovely squaw, in days of yore,
(Ere great Columbus sought thy native shore)
First gave thee to the world; her works of fame
Have lived indeed, but lived without a name.
Some tawny Ceres, goddess of her days,
First learned with stones to crack the well-dried maize,
Through the rough sieve to shake the golden shower,
In boiling water stir the yellow flour:
The yellow flour, bestrewed and stirred with haste,
Swell in the flood and thickens to a paste,
Then puffs and wallops, rises to the brim,
Drinks the dry knobs that on the surface swim;
The knobs at last the busy ladle breaks,
And the whole mass its true consistence takes.
Could but her sacred name, unknown so long,
Rise, like her labors, to the son of song,
To her, to them, I'd consecrate my lays,
And blow her pudding with the breath of praise.

From "Canto II"

But since, O man! thy life and health demand
Not food alone, but labor from thy hand,
First in the field, beneath the sun's strong rays,
Ask of thy mother earth the needful maize;
She loves the race that courts her yielding soil,
And gives her bounties to the sons of toil.
When now the ox, obedient to thy call,
Repays the loan that filled the winter stall,
Pursue his traces o'er the furrowed plain,
And plant in measured hills the golden grain.
But when the tender germ begins to shoot,
And the green spire declares the sprouting root,
Then guard your nursling from each greedy foe,
The insidious worm, the all-devouring crow.
A little ashes, sprinkled round the spire,
Son steeped in rain, will bid the worm retire;
The feathered robber with his hungry maw
Swift flies the field before your man of straw,
A frightful image, such as schoolboys bring
When met to burn the Pope or hang the King.
Thrice in the season, through each verdant row
Wield the strong plowshare and the faithful hoe;
The faithful hoe, a double task that takes,
To till the summer corn, and roast the winter cakes.
Slow springs the blade, while checked by chilling rains,
Ere yet the sun the seat of Cancer gains;
But when his fiercest fires emblaze the land,
Then start the juices, then the roots expand;
Then, like a column of Corinthian mold,
The stalk struts upward, and the leaves unfold;
The busy branches all the ridges fill,
Entwine their arms, and kiss from hill to hill.

From "Canto III"

The laws of husking every wight can tell;
And sure no laws he ever keeps so well:
For each red ear a general kiss he gains,
With each smut ear he smuts the luckless swains;
But when to some sweet maid a prize is cast,
Red as her lips, and taper as her waist,
She walks the round, and culls one favored beau,
Who leaps, the luscious tribute to bestow.
Various the sport, as are the wits and brains
Of well-pleased lasses and contending swains;
Till the vast mound of corn is swept away,
And he that gets the last ear wins the day.
Meanwhile the housewife urges all her care,
The well-earned feast to hasten and prepare.
The sifted meal already waits her hand,
The milk is strained, the bowls in order stand,
The fire flames high; and, as a pool (that takes
The headlong stream that o'er the milldam breaks)
Foams, roars, and rages with incessant toils,
So the vexed cauldron rages, roars, and boils.
First with clean salt she seasons well the food,
Then strews the flour, and thickens all the flood.
Long o'er the simmering fire she lets it stand;
To stir it well demands a stronger hand;
The husband takes his turn; and round and round
The ladle flies; at last the toil is crowned;
When to the board the thronging huskers our,
And take their seats as at the corn before.


There is a choice in spoons. Though small appear
The nice distinction, yet to me 'tis clear.
The deep-bowled Gallie spoon, contrived to scoop
In ample draughts the thin diluted soup,
Performs not well in those substantial things,
Whose mass adhesive to the metal clings;
Where the strong labial muscles must embrace,
The gentle curve, and sweep the hollow space.
With ease to enter and discharge the freight,
A bowl less concave but still more dilate,
Becomes the pudding best. The shape, the size,
A secret rests unknown to vulgar eyes.
Experienced feeders can alone impart
A rule so much above the lore of art.
These tuneful lips that thousand spoons have tried,
With just precision could the point decide,
Though not in song; the muse but poorly shines
In cones, and cubes, and geometric lines;
Yet the true form, as near as she can tell,
Is that small section of a goose-egg shell,
Which in two equal portions shall divide
The distance from the center to the side.
Fear not to slaver; 'tis no deadly sin.
Like the free Frenchman, from your joyous chin
Suspend the ready napkin; or, like me,
Poise with one hand your bowl upon your knee;
Just in the zenith your wise head project,
Your full spoon, rising in a line direct,
Bold as a bucket, heeds no drops that fall,
The wide-mouthed bowl will surely catch them all.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!


20 November 2012

Today in a nutshell

1.  My next sabbatical project, if (after being on the committee for two years) I ever have the nerve to apply again!, will either be a study of whether eating potato chips does in fact prevent yawning -- even in the face of yawns by others in the room OR a play A Long Day's Journey into Afternoon, a drama depicting the interactions of a sabbatical leave committee.  (Nota bene: the only yawning occurred during the breaks in-between the 28, yes, 28, interviews -- in 15-minute intervals.)

2.  I finally have the step that will allow me to proceed with my tap dance version of Richard III: shuffle-heel-change!

3. The brand new Shorter 8th Edition of the Norton Anthology of American Literature with older daughter's name in the acknowledgements (for winning Norton's Recitation Contest last year) arrives in office mail.

A good day!

19 November 2012

My top four newspaper song references....

"Headlines," Paul Anka, rates a mention (even though it's a dreadful song), so I won't make this a top five.

4.  "New York State of Mind," Billy Joel

3.  "Overs," Simon and Garfunkel

2. "A Day in the Life," The Beatles

1.  "New Orleans Wins the War," Randy Newman

18 November 2012

I swear this'll be the last Hostess Snoball post...

...well, at least until the next one, but, just to further establish my hard-won right to mourn the passing of Hostess, let me just add that some dear friends once made me a Snoball cake (since I wasn't going to be able to have such a treat at my wedding)!

Sadly, I don't have a picture of that wonder, so let's put another picture of some actual Snoballs on the blog (since no blog can have too many of those):

Sic transit...

If you had to choose one to sing you one song...

Dusty Springfield


Petula Clark

17 November 2012

My Top 7 Sonnies/Sunnies

7.  Sonny Jurgenson, a good quarterback

6. Sunny von Bulow, a good wife (to a bad husband)

5.  Sonny Bono, a good father

4.  Sonny Liston, a good fighter

3.  Sunny Skylar, a good songwriter

2.  Sonny Corleone, a good brother

1. Sonny, a good character from Paul Simon's "The Obvious Child" (from Rhythm of the Saints)


My Top 7 Favorite (non-fiscal) Cliffs

All this talk about the "Fiscal Cliff" has made me think about my favorite cliffs.... (not including any "one-f" Clifs, btw)

7.  Clifford the Big Red Dog, but the books NOT the PBS television show (for which they had to move to Birdwell island why?)

6.  Cliffs Notes, which, if there were Cliffs Notes for CT Wit, you'd be done with this post by now!

5.  Jimmy Cliff, especially for his duet with Elvis Costello: "Seven-Day Weekend"

4.  Cliff Richard, especially the early Cliff Richard!

3.  Cliff Claven

2.  Cliff Robertson

and my favorite cliff?

1. "The White Cliffs of Dover" (Glenn Miller style!)

For all of you who, in fact, haven't bought a Hostess product...

...in two or five or ten years
(or whenever you started running those 5Ks),
these empty shelves fall on your heads.

And now, Ms. Joan Jett:


Long live the Sno-Ball.


16 November 2012

You'd think HEARING would be the first thing to go...

...on these guys.  (And, really, aside from Roger Daltry, these guys need a good Lenscrafters, no?)


Redefining the meaning of the cliche...

...a Sno-Ball's chance in hell.

Once again, people, it's NOT about the Twinkie!

As I said back in January when Hostess first declared bankruptcy, I really wish the press would cover the important issue about the potential liquidation of Hostess.  If not Hostess, then:


I watched the new Rolling Stones documentary, "Crossfire Hurricane,"...

...last night on HBO with my older daughter, a burgeoning fan.  Although I have always liked many of the songs, I've never been a fan of the group (well, except Charlie Watts, who just seems to be bemused by the antics of the boys in front). 

My thoughts about the doc, during which I admittedly fell asleep at several points:

1) According to the credits, Bill Wyman is your "Historical Consultant"?  Isn't he a member of the self-same group that essentially said, "It's been a blast; well, what we can remember of it."?

2) If so much of this documentary is comprised of never-before-seen footage, how come it felt like we'd seen this all before (albeit I'd never seen Mick Jagger's bare behind before)?

3) Speaking of Mick's derriere, Jagger is a poseur.  I know this is a critical cliche at this point, but when, at film's end, in a brand new clip we see him still "with moves like Jagger" (i.e., prancing with open shirt falling off his shoulders, etc.), I gotta ask, "Really, Mick?"

4) Speaking of cliches, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, documentary directors, no more cameras trailing the performers as they wind their subterranean ways from the dressing room to the stage!  They all do it.  Sinatra did it.  Perry Como probably did it.  And, yes, there are many hangers-on of all sorts who accompany them as they go.  Sinatra had them.  Como probably had them.  Figure out something new.

5) There's a reason why Brian Jones is my older daughter's favorite Stone.

6) I think the moss has officially gathered.

15 November 2012

I can't figure out what I like most about this clip...

a) John Denver and Mama Cass's duet
b) Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special
c) Cass' Get-Out-the-Vote Message
d) John's bell-sleeve shirt!
You can't have too much great, right?

14 November 2012

Top Five Reasons Connecticut Should Secede First!

Given all the secession talk since the reelection of the President, maybe the Land of Steady Habits needs to be "Still Revolutionary" indeed!

Here are the top 5 reasons we shouldn't be late to the secession party:

5.  We don't want to be the guy who's left picking up the tab after all the other diners in his group have already left -- with their "I think that's about what I owe" (wink, wink) on the table!

4.  Hartford as a NATIONAL capitol; that would definitely bring back the Whalers!

3.  Secession worked out pretty well in the 19th Century, right?

2.  Think of the bumper stickers the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education could sell:
"You can't spell secession without CONnScu"
(okay, well, maybe you can)

1.  With a whole new government in Connecticut, I'm betting that Linda MacMahon would happily serve as our Commander-in-Chief!

12 November 2012

Even though Lance Armstrong has severed ties with the Livestrong Foundation...

...I think he could still raise funds for them by selling a new bracelet:


What would Lance Take?


Great stuff, if only we got to follow the lyric writing a little more closely!

As students are registering for my John Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace class at CCSU in Spring 2013, it was cool to find these episodes of "Dubway Days" (by BreakThruRadio.Com) on YouTube, which follow Wes' writing a song with Ben Arthur in the course of one day. 
The result?
"Cracked and Crooked Heart"


11 November 2012

08 November 2012

So, given the obscene sums of money spent on this presidential campaign...

...and, given that this will be President Obama's second term (i.e., he's already done the whole "inaugural thing"), who's with me in asking the President, the Democratic Party, and all the other political operatives to spend the money normally spent on the various inaugural balls for Hurricane Sandy victims or any charities of his choice?

07 November 2012

Who can name the birthday boys and the others in this photo?

Happy Birthday, Joni Mitchell! From one 11/7 baby to another!

Here's our horoscope, for our birthday today, from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

IF NOVEMBER 7 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: Seek peace and tranquility in the next four weeks, but don't overestimate your abilities or take others for granted. You will have extra energy in December and January but should watch out for being too aggressive about obtaining your goals. Wait to take advantage of helpful opportunities that pop up in April and May, which can provide you with long lasting benefits. Those are times when people who have your best interests at heart will be happy to grant favors and give valuable advice and when your business judgment is at its best for career, finances and relationships.

A few thoughts about yesterday's election results

1)  President Obama woke up this morning saying, "I WON!  Oh, wait.  Crap, I won..."

2)  Yes, I voted for Chris Murphy, but he and Dick Blumenthal had better not still be Connecticut's two senators 20 years from now (but I fear they will be).

3)  Somehow, for the sake of their citizens' sanity and because I want to see a live presidential candidate too (without having to go to a $500,000/plate dinner in Fairfield County), we've got to somehow get rid of the "swing states" concept.

4)  No matter what, I do like voting!

06 November 2012

On"60 Minutes," David McCullough said we should all...

...read up on Harry Truman, and I'm betting the historian was thinking about our reading HIS book about the old haberdasher.  But who's got time for that? 
But there's always time for a song!

My two key questions for voting in this election

1) What would 2008 candidate Obama think about the performance of President Obama the past four years?


2) What would Massachussetts Governor Romney think about the plans for the federal governemnt proposed by 2012 candidate Romney? 

04 November 2012

So, after watching "Saturday Night Live" clips that...

...various people have posted on facebook (and elsewhere), I've come to the (obvious perhaps to many others) conclusion that SNL was made for such sharing.  The viewer now can enjoy the funniest bits/skits without having to suffer (and, yes, that's precisely the word) through an entire episode. 
     It used to be the case that this viewer would simply aim at lasting through "Weekend Update" or the first performance by the musical guest because rarely were there any "gems" to be found after those points anyway, but now even that time commitment has become unnecessary.
     It's taken me this long perhaps to notice asect of SNL because -- "progress" be damned! -- I am still an appointment viewing kind of guy.  I LIKE watching something when it airs -- as opposed to catching up on it "On Demand."  I admit to turning to "On Demand" to watch old episodes of Law and Order since it's no longer in production, but give me my Good Wife on Sunday night, Parenthood on Tuesday, my Mad Men and Newsroom in whatever season the programmers' whim decrees, and my sporting events when they are live (be it the British Open at 4 AM or the World Series just a little earlier at 2).  And, no, I don't want to watch movies on anyone's phone.
     You can take the boy out of the '70s television paradigm, but you can't take the '70s television paradigm out of the boy!

03 November 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I miss ya!


On my walk on Friday morning, I was listening to....

...one of my favorite live albums (a genre, I must admit, of which I'm generally not fond), Paul Simon's 1974 Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin' (with the South American band Urubamba and the gospel group the Jesse Dixon Singers).

It contains probably my favorite audience/performer exchange of all time.

From a member of the audience: Say a few words!

Simon's reply: Say a few words.  Well, let's hope that we're...let's hope that we...continue to live
clear stop.) 


Cue album's final track, "America"

02 November 2012

My top 5 favorite drumming singers (singing drummers?)

5. Phil Collins
Sure, "Sussudio" is crap, as are his __________________, ___________________, and ______________, etc., but Phil is just such an earnest and likable bloke (as he proved when he was the sole performer at "Live Aid" to perform on BOTH sides of the Atlantic!), I feel bad if I didn't include him.

4. Ringo Starr
Granted, I like neither his ham-handed singing nor his similarly-subtle drumming, but he is a member of the Beatles, and he's the lead singer of "With a Little Help from My Friends," and, THAT, if nothing else, should place Richard Starkey/Billy Shears on anyone's list.

3. Don Henley
Certainly there are those who hate his solo work only a little less than his Eagles stuff (or vice versa!), but his paean to sustainability, "Last Resort," on Hotel California, not to mention "Not Enough Love in the World" (from Building the Perfect Beast) and "Heart of the Matter" (from The End of the Innocence) make us only love his self-important self-involvement more: "I was either standing in your shadow/ or blocking your light/ though I kept on trying/ I could not make it right/ for you, girl/ there's just not enough love in the world!"

2. Levon Helm
"Virgil Cain is my name..." and "I pulled into Nazareth feeling about half-past dead..."  Need I say more?

1. Karen Carpenter
Better singer than all of the guys put together and often drummed in what looked to be a prom dress!  "Top of the World," indeed!