Category Archives: Jaquandor

Roger Answers Your Questions, Jaquandor

From the guy from Buffalo who does Byzantium Shores.

1. If they re-did the Jeopardy! eligibility rules so you could try out again, would you?

Quite possibly so. I feel ever so slightly jealous that they doubled the values a couple years after I was on. This doesn’t mean I would have won $35,200 instead of $17,600 when I played, but it made me wonder. Of course, maybe I’d suck at the game now. Certainly, I’d go in the next three years, when I’d be 60, or not at all.

Somehow I feel like one of those baseball players who came along just before free agency.

2. In retrospect: Should Spitzer have resigned?

In retrospect, no, but that whole thing wasn’t going down “in retrospect”. It wasn’t his sexual behavior that did him in, it was his hypocrisy. Truth is that he never had the patience to be governor; things he could have bullied people to do as Attorney General, with the force of law on his side, could not be achieved as Governor, where give and take is more the requirement.

No doubt that if he were not tainted, he might have continued to sound the alarm about the Wall Street fiasco, as he was working on as Attorney General. Equally true that Wall Street as happy to see him go. The truth of the matter is that I wish he had stayed as AG, but he would have had to resign that position as well, once the Customer Number Nine stuff came out.

I continue to be fascinated by sexual scandals in terms of who gets to stay in office and who has to go. I always thought that Bill Clinton got to stay because there was a general feeling that 1) he already had a reputation as a womanizer, so he didn’t have the hypocrite label slapped on him (only the “liar” label) and 2) that the impeachment over sex, and lying about it, was an overreach for something that started off as an investigation of a land deal.

3. What the hell is going on with the Catholic Church? I mean, seriously: WTF?!

The church seems to continue to be tone deaf to the scandal. Some archbishop in New York State is attacking the attackers of the Pope, as though THEY were the problem instead of the pedophile priests and the system that protected them.

SamuraiFrog had a good post about this. The church
treated it as an “internal matter”, fearing that somehow admitting it and exposing it would undermind its moral authority. Have they not learned from Watergate? It’s the COVER UP that REALLY underminds their moral authority. If they’d gotten in front of this even 30 years ago – John Paul II became Pope in 1978 – then it would have been painful, yes, but not this drip-drip-drip of scandal.

Mr. Frog notes the fact that the church feels selectively persecuted/prosecuted for its religion, that other people did wrong things. OK, and the church also claims that its first Pope knew Jesus personally, which, I’d like to suggest, places it at a slightly higher standard.

The Catholic hierarchy for years has been blaming this problem on the United States’ culture and society, as though it had been the “permissive” Americans who regularly ignore Papal dictates on issues such as birth control as the problem. Classic misdirection, but it did not “take”, given the worldwide problem.

And the “it happened a long time ago – get over it” argument, not just on this issue, but any issue, such as institutional racism and sexism, has always irritated the crap out of me. Let me say it again: the persecutors oughtn’t be able to say “Let’s move on” without the adequate response of not only apologizing for the problem, but, to the degree possible, rectifying the problem. This is why the Armenians in Turkey are still, and rightly from my POV, kvetching about the 1915
genocide that the Turkish government still denies.

As someone who protected a priest who had victimized 200 boys, the former Cardinal Ratzinger has given new meaning to “papal bull”.
***
Remember last month when I directed you to a link to my guest review for Trouble with Comics, then it went away? Well, as Bullwinkle J. Moose says, This time for sure!

ROG

I AM Happy, Damn It!

Since I still feel like I just went through the spin cycle in my clothes washer, and since Jaquandor wouldn’t mind seeing this meme spread out through Blogistan, I thought I would list ten things that make me happy (minus the obvious mentions of The Wife, The Daughter, and music). Even stole his title; shameful.

1. Being touched – I don’t mean that in any sordid way. I mean hugs, hand holding, massage. (There was some recent studies that showed that when people are touched, they have a better perception of the event.)
2. White noise to go to sleep by – fan, my daughter’s air filter, even a vacuum cleaner if it’s far enough away. (There was at least one night in the Daughter’s first two months that the vacuum got HER to go to sleep.)
3. The fact that when I write, it takes me to often unexpected places.
4. Learning new things almost daily.
5. Being able to pull out some obscure piece of information, whether it be at work or helping someone on the bus figure out the best route or watching JEOPARDY!
6. Racquetball – nothing like beating up a helpless piece of rubber.
7. The English language – its amalgamation of such diverse sources, from Latin and Greek to Tagalog and Arabic.
8. Black and white photographs; they seem to have such character.
9. Baseball. It’s not just watching it. It’s the history, the obsessive use of statistics (batting average against left-handers in night games, e.g.)
10. Card games – hearts, pinochle, bid whist, spades. It’s the social aspect of games I like the most; playing on the computer is just not the same.
***
Time to drink some English tea.

ROG

Online/offline life

I attended this blogger conference last week at the College of Saint Rose. If you go to the link, you’ll see what people, including me, thought of the event. The video, which I kvetched about in the article, is also available at the site.

One of the running observations in those comments is that the participants feared that the event would turn out to be a snarkfest, based on some of the online comments that some of these same people had made online to each other. Instead it was, if not a love fest, then at least quite civil. And I got to see my buddy David Brickman, pictured, and not just his head.

I find it all very odd, because, lately, I’m finding people online to be, for the most part, much more civil than in person. There was an incident last month at church – which I won’t get into much except to say this: when someone wants to convince me of the efficacy of a point of view, it’s really important that the topic sentence not be patently, demonstrably false. That transaction, combined with some other circumstances, made going there, especially to choir, a little less of a safe place to be than it had been heretofore. Not occasionally, some of my racquetball partners can be – let’s say unnecessarily irritating lately. Our neighbors, who we are fond of, lost their house for back taxes; verdict is out on the buyer, but early signs are, let’s say, less than encouraging. And the Albany Y is closing at the end of the month; I’ve only been a member since December 1982, so I have no emotional investment.

Meanwhile, online life is pretty darn great. Part of that, admittedly, is the fact that it was my birthday Sunday and I got probably two dozen Facebook well wishers, plus four e-cards, a number of e-mails, a few comments on the blog, and a mention from Gordon. Since I am admittedly LOUSY at Facebook – it just isn’t something I find the time to do regularly – I found the FB responses in particular really gratifying.

But it’s other stuff. My blog was featured on the Times Union page when I happened to be sitting at the library next to a guy looking for a job; I could just give him the link to the Census information. “Hey, is that you?” pictured on top? Why yes, it is.

The mighty comic blogger ADD cited a conversation we had a while back in a recent post. Jaquandor (the guy at Byzantium Shores) and Scott answered my questions; yes, some of them are the same questions. I get good comments from the ABC Wednesday folks.

Sunday Stealing stole my meme (that’s a good thing); and yes, I had admittedly stolen it myself.

Speaking of stealing, I was pleased that the NYS senator Kirsten Gillibrand came out for gay men being able to donate blood. I wanted to write something but didn’t have time, so of course, I stole it. I feel only slightly guilty, because I stole it from me. Repositioning, as I recall ADD and I decided.

Someone joked at the Times Union gig that “almost no one” showed up in pajamas. Sometimes, the folks that I could “talk” with in my PJs are just easier to deal with. Well, except for Glenn Beck attacking me.
***
I’m not much of a believer in astrology, but my friend of 52 years, born two days after I, sent me our chart. I found it oddly soothing:
“This aspect is all about breaking the bonds that held you down in the past.” [Sounds right.] You are about to become liberated from some sort of situation that contained or limited you…Earlier in the month we have an excellent day that you may want to circle on your calendar – March 7…will help you hone your powers of communication. The written and spoken word will become very important to your progress at this time, and if you are born on March 7, or within five days of this date, this will be true for your whole year to come because this is happening on your “solar return” or return of the Sun to your time of birth. (The closer your birthday falls to March 7, the more dramatically you will see this trend.) Travel taken near March 7 should go really well, and all news, including news about home and family, could make you want to sing!”
Since my birthday was March 7 – which turned out to be a pretty good day…

ROG

100 Quotes Every Geek Should Know

I’ve been thinking about doing this since I first saw it at Byzantium’s Shores a few weeks ago. It’s a list of 100 Quotes Every Geek Should Know. I will reproduce the list as follows: ++ for quotes I not only recognize but can cite by the character who says it (if it’s a line of dialogue), and + for quotes I recognize by source but can’t recall who said it. All others will be left as is. You can play along, then check the source attributions.

1. “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”

+ 2. “Three rings for the Elven kings under the sky, seven for the Dwarf lords in their halls of stone, nine for the mortal men doomed to die, one for the Dark Lord on his dark throne, in the land of Mordor where the shadows lie. One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring the bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.”

++ 3. “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

++ 4. “Spock. This child is about to wipe out every living thing on Earth. Now, what do you suggest we do……spank it?”

++ 5. “With great power there must also come — great responsibility.”

6. “If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you oughtta go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it’s not for the timid.”

7. “Five card stud, nothing wild. And the sky’s the limit”

8. “If you think that by threatening me you can get me to do what you want… Well, that’s where you’re right. But – and I am only saying that because I care – there’s a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing.”

9. “We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog.”

10. “If I’m not back in five minutes, just wait longer.”

11. “I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.”

12. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE

13. “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

14. “Bill, strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

+ 15. “Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.”

16. “Didja ever look at a dollar bill, man? There’s some spooky s*** goin’ on there. And it’s green too.”

17. “Alright, alright alright.”

18. “Heya, Tom’, it’s Bob from the office down the hall. Good to see you, buddy; how’ve you been? Things have been alright for me except that I’m a zombie now. I really wish you’d let us in.”

19. “Never argue with the data.”

20. “Oooh right, it’s actually quite a funny story once you get past all the tragic elements and the over-riding sense of doom.”

21. “Fantastic!”

22. “I must not fear. / Fear is the mind-killer. / Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. / I will face my fear. / I will permit it to pass over me and through me. / And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see
its path. / Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. / Only I will remain.”

23. “This is the way society functions. Aren’t you a part of society?”

24. “Okay. You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we’re not back by dawn… call the president.”

25. “No matter where you go, there you are. ”

++ 26. “Do you know of the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space.”

+ 27. “Ray, if someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!”

28. “Greetings, programs!”

29. “I guess you picked the wrong g**-damned rec room to break into, didn’t you?!”

++ 30. “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

++ 31. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side, kid.”

++ 32. “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

33. “It’s a moral imperative.”

++ 34. “Talk with your mouth full / bite the hand that feeds you / bite off more than you can chew / dare to be stupid”

+ 35. “Well, let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. Based on this morning’s reading, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.”

36. “This episode was BADLY written!”

37. “Worst. Episode. Ever.”

+ 38. “Goonies never say die.”

+ 39. “Nothing shocks me–I’m a scientist.”

40. “Bright light! Bright light!”

41. “The Road goes ever on and on/Down from the door where it began/Now far ahead the Road has gone/And I must follow, if I can/Pursuing it with eager feet/Until it joins some larger way/Where many paths and errands meet/And whither then? I cannot say.”

++ 42. “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

43. “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”

++ 44. “Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?”

++ 45. “Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight blob of grease!”

++ 46. “I’d just as soon kiss a wookiee!”

47. “But one thing’s sure: Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody’s responsible.”

48. “I know kung fu.”

49. “This is your receipt for your husband… and this is my receipt for your receipt.”

50. “Your soul-suckin’ days are over, amigo!”

51. “I don’t believe there’s a power in the ‘verse that can stop Kaylee from being cheerful. Sometimes you just wanna duct-tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month.”

52. “Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?”

+ 53. “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

54. “There is no Earthly way of knowing… which direction we are going. There is no knowing where we’re rowing, or which way the river’s flowing. Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is a hurricane a’blowing? Not a speck of light is showing so the danger much be growing. Are the fires of hell a’glowing? Is the grisley reaper mowing? YES! The danger must be growing for the rowers keep on rowing AND THEY’RE CERTAINLY NOT SHOWING ANY SIGNS THAT THEY ARE SLOWING!!”

55. “Time…to die.”

56. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”

57. “Check, please.”

58. “So say we all.”

++ 59. “After very careful consideration, sir, I’ve come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks.”

60. “I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.”

++ 61. “No matter what you hear in there, no matter how cr
uelly I beg you, no matter how terribly I may scream, do not open this door or you will undo everything I have worked for.”

62. “Ahh, a bear in his natural habitat: a Studebaker.”

++ 63. “He’s dead, Jim.”

++ 64. “Who’s gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It’s chocolate, it’s peppermint – it’s delicious!”

++ 65. “Bring out your dead.”

++ 66. “My name is Inigo Montoyo. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”

67. “Why a duck? Why-a no chicken?”

++ 68. “Redrum.”

++ 69. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”

++ 70. “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

71. “Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.”

72. “Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.”

++ 73. “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”

+ 74. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

++ 75. “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

++ 76. “You maniacs! You blew it up! Oh, damn you! Damn you all to hell!”

++ 77. “Klaatu barada nikto.”

78. “Monsters from the Id.”

++ 79. “ET phone home.”

80. “What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”

81. “We thought you was a toad!” – Delmar, O Brother Where Art Thou?

++ 82. “Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot!”

+ 83. “You don’t have to be a gun.”

++ 84. “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!”

+ 85. “Yeah, well. The Dude abides.”

86. “All things serve the beam.”

87. “You can’t fool me! There ain’t no Sanity Clause!”

88. “Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

+ 89. “And I said, I don’t care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I’m, I’m quitting, I’m going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire…”

90. “Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.”

91. “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”

92. “Gimme some sugar, baby.”

93. “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and sh*t… and Jack left town.”

++ 94. “Kneel before Zod.”

95. “Shall we play a game?”

96. “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis.”

+ 97. “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.” “Hit it!”

++ 98. “Make it so” / “Engage”

99. “Ya Ta!”

100. “End Of Line”

I really need to see the movies referred to in #73 and #85. I’ve seen clips, so I could figure out the quotes.

So do I get booted from geekdom?
ROG

The Award-Winning…

Jaquandor was kind enough to bestow upon me a “Kreative Blogger” award of some sort.

I feel a certain obligation to pass these kinds of things along, based on the theory that, back in the olden days when I started blogging, some 4.7 years ago, it made the blogisphere – dare I say it? – FUN. Blogging should be fun, even if one’s venting one’s spleen to do so.

You’re supposed to reveal seven things about yourself. Of course, the problem with that I’m almost out of stuff to “reveal” that 1) I didn’t reveal before, 2) require more than a line or two, or 3) I’m not planning to reveal at this point, or quite possibly, ever. No guarantees that the list below might not have bumped into the first category:

1. I receive an irrational amount of pleasure when I delete one piece of spam in Gmail and it says I’ll be deleting “the one conversation”, or “both conversations” when I delete two, as opposed to those programs that will delete “all 1 conversations”, or some such.

2. I once got a B in art in 7th grade. My parents were at a loss as to how I did so well. This explains almost everything you need to know about me and doing art.

3. I once almost flew with someone who was traveling on someone else’s ticket. He got detained by airport security and the police for about seven hours until he showed his security clearance. This, BTW, was before 9/11.

4. I have no tattoos. I’m not opposed at this point, but 1) it would keep me from donating blood for a while and 2) my wife would hate it. Then there’s the pain and permanence thing, but those are secondary.

5. At least twice, I took jobs because of affairs of the heart. Neither was worth it; the jobs weren’t, that is, but the affairs of the heart were.

6. I tape sporting events then watch them later, going through lots of machinations (no news watching/reading or e-mail/Facebook/Twitter). Sometimes it works (Jets/Bengals, Eagles/Cowboys Saturday games I watched on Sunday; Packers/Cardinals Sunday game I finished Tuesday morning); sometimes not (the Patriots loss on the front cover of Monday’s Wall Street Journal).

7. I’m allergic to penicillin and Naprocyn, have been for years, yet I’m too lazy to get one of those tags. But we have one for my daughter with her peanut allergy.

Then I’m supposed to pass the award along. That’s a bit tougher. I’d have considered Jaquandor’s Byzantium Shores. I’d also have picked SamuraiFrog’s Electronic Cerebrectomy, except he gave the award to Jaquandor and that’s a bit too circular for me. Then there are the bums gentlemen who stopped blogging in the last year, who I used to follow.

Still, there’s:

1. Arthur @AmeriNZ – your usual, everyday blog of a gay man from Illinois who moved to New Zealand for love. OK, there’s a LOT more to it: talk about politics, comparative US/NZ culture and whatever enters his fertile mind. He also has a couple podcasts, one on politics, the other, more general.

2. Coverville – the blog is primarily a support mechanism for Brian Ibbott’s great podcast “featuring unusual covers of pop, rock and country songs by new and established performers.” But in the last year or so, he’s added a song rating system to the site. Also, he and his listeners have found some nifty videos of covers that he’s posted.

3. Progressive Ruin: Unfortunately, I gotta give props to Mike Sterling, even though he’s a cheater pants, not just for his persistence – I think he posted 364 days last year – but for some of his regular features, such as his deconstruction of the absurd items Diamond comics catalog, and especially Sluggo Saturdays. Still his obsession with the comic creature Swamp Thing is…disturbing.

4. And speaking of Swamp Thing, its best renderer, IMHO, my buddy Steve Bissette posts his Myrant, a mix of digital comics, comics & film history, political tirades and more.

5. Scott’s Scooter Chronicles is about music, books, beer, and hockey. Truth is that I’m not a big fan of the latter two, but he even makes those interesting. It’s also about his two young sons and being unemployed in America. SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN A JOB!

6. Anthony Velez’s The Dark Glass is a series of theological musings. Sometimes I don’t understand, but he always explains it, or tries to.

7. Gordon at Blog This, Pal! is mostly a pop culture (comics/TV/movies) blog. He knows more about Doctor Who and Kids in the Hall than anyone has a right to. I happen to particularly enjoy those too-rare glimpses of his personal side (his mom, St. Louis vs. Chicago). He also has a podcast that he’s rethinking. He knows I’d always vote for keeping the music, but really, he should do what brings him joy.

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and Jaquandor

Queries from veteran Roger queriers,

First up is the noble Scott:

Is there a team you are rooting for to win the Super Bowl?

Besides the Giants, who just don’t deserve it this year (41-9 loss to Carolina yesterday?), gotta be the Saints. Partly it a parochial hope that a Super Bowl appearance will once again point out the aftermath of Katrina and how much is yet undone in the recovery. Also, can’t help but think it would give the city a real boost; they’ve already postponed some Mardi Gras events in anticipation of getting to the big game. And yes, I thought losing to the Cowboys was probably a good thing; get the loss out of their system. (So naturally they lose to Tampa Bay yesterday.) The perfect season was a curse for the Patriots a couple seasons back, so the loss to the Jets – who are still in playoff contention – theoretically will help the Colts. Or not.

What is your favorite Christmas family tradition?

I’m still grasping at any kind of tradition. We had a tree the last three years, but not the previous two. What we eat varies; this year it was lasagna! And while I sing on Christmas Eve, it’s hardly a FAMILY tradition, since my wife and daughter weren’t there. In fact, I didn’t see my daughter at all on Christmas Eve, though I did talk with her twice on the phone. The tree decorations I used to have seem to have disappeared. So it’s not so much tradition; it’s jazz improv, and it’s all good.

Do you do a lot of decorating inside and outside your house for the holidays?

Outside, not at all. Inside, the Christmas cards – and we got a LOT of Christmas cards this year, more than ever – go around the entryway to our living room. In fact we had so many, we put a few on the other side, the entryway back into the hallway. There’s the tree. There’s red garland on the railing heading upstairs. We do have a creche.

The daughter constructed a snowman from paper, which we hung up. She also made some drawings that got put around the house.

What Christmas gift made the most lasting impression on you?

That would be the Beatles in Mono box set that I got in…2009. It wasn’t just that I got the music; it was something I wanted and Santa delivered that singular package that was more than Santa is inclined to spend on a one item.

What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?

Seriously, a Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army); I played with that forever and STILL turned out as a pacifist. Tom Hanks got one as a kid, he once told Leno.

Although the family getting a color TV in 1969, when I was 16, was huge, too; we literally saw the world in a different way. Watching the Wizard of Oz the next year, in particular, was a revelation; a “horse of a different color”, indeed.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Roger!

You too, Scott.

The best of the west, western NYS, that is, Jaquandor asks:

Do you cook? If so, what? Do you have a favorite ethnic cuisine? If so, what?

I did cook. And I was functional, not inspirational, at things like chicken. But I don’t particularly enjoy it, Carol’s better at it, and I get home close to 6:30 pm. I tend to make eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, grilled cheese sandwiches, those kinds of things on the weekends.

My favorite ethnic cuisine is lasagna, which I used to make in the winter, though the recent Christmas meal in fact was made by the wife and mother-in-law; I shredded the mozzarella. I also used to bake, but likewise Carol’s more ept and I, rather inept. Damn, I just remember a time I confused baking powder with baking soda in a pancake recipe; it was AWFUL.

And do you have a strong opinion one way or the other on Governor Paterson?

Notice that David Paterson’s positives have gone from the low 20s to the mid 30s. Still not great, and still losing to Andrew Cuomo by 40 points, should the attorney general run in a primary against him. But perhaps there is a recognition that he’s at least TRYING to balance the budget, whereas the state legislature is unable/unwilling to. I wonder if those television ads, like this one are having an effect.

I have a question for you; do you think those Saturday Night Live parodies hurt him with the electorate? I’ve been under the impression that the NYS voters and SNL watchers are not that linked, but I could be wrong.

I can/do argue with some of his choices; his cuts to education and libraries seem particularly short-sighted. But I haven’t written him off politically, especially if Rick Lazio, who ran a TERRIBLE campaign against Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate race in 2000, turns out to be the GOP nominee, rather than Rudy Giuliani.

ROG

My Solstice Tradition: ASK ROGER ANYTHING!


I’m trying, really trying, to get into the spirit of the season. I’ve been checking out Polite Scott’s Advent Calendar Comic Book Cover Countdowns and Jaquandor’s Daily Dose of Christmas and Tegan’s LEGO Advent Calendar, the Tournament of Carols (Bing will definitely win) and most of all, Fred Hembeck’s The Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, MANY Faces of Santa Claus!

Yet, I’m still felling the seasonal stress. Sunday, in particular, made me very…grumpy. Sunday, I was Christmas shopping. There IS a correlation, though shopping wasn’t the only frustration that day. The neck is sore, for some reason. And my left heel has a cut on it, probably from chafing while wearing some boots when it snowed a couple weeks ago. (But NOT this past weekend, as it turns out.) The one thing that did make me laugh was an e-mail from some cruise line that had the heading, ” There’s Still Time to Give the Gift of Cruising!”

So, to cheer me up, it is your opportunity to Ask Roger Anything. Anything at all; nothing is off limits. These are the exciting rules:
1. You can ask Roger anything.
2. He must answer.
3. He must stop referring to himself in the third person.
4. My answers must be true. Now it can be the truth without being the WHOLE truth, but the discerning questioner will pick up on this.

And starting on Sunday, I will answer your questions. If you want me to answer a question or three, you can leave a comment – I love comments – or you can find my e-mail on the sidebar and you can e-mail it to me.

ROG

Information QUESTION

I was reading the Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago, and they reported that betting line and most of the “experts” predicted that Chicago would get the 2016 Olympics; you know how THAT worked out.

My question, then, is: What are your sources of information that you most trust? It might well be different sources for different info.

For instance, I find Advertising Age to be a remarkably good gauge of the fall television season, not so much what will be good as much as what the advertisers will be likely to buy into, which may have to quality. the shows they picked to click (Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife) showed up on many lists as did their losers (Brothers, the already canceled The Beautiful Life). The point is that, year in and year out, they’ve been reliable.

Bill Flanagan of MTV has an occasional segment on CBS Sunday Morning where he recommends albums. There hasn’t been one I have purchased that I did not enjoy. This includes albums by Lizz Wright, Randy Newman, Mudcrutch, and Levon Helm, plus an album of Nashville blues.

I used to love to watch Roger Ebert with Richard Roeper or the late Gene Siskel, and he, interacting with his cohort, always gave me a good gauge as to whether I would like a movie. I didn’t always like what he liked – he had his blind spots – but I always knew WHY he liked it and it informed my viewing. Actually, now I am more affected by Ebert’s pronouncements on non-movie topics such as alcoholism, death and racism.

When Chicago was up for the Olympics, I had had my doubts about it. So I was happy that Gordon confirmed my feelings; all things Chicago, I tend to listen to Gordon. Likewise, the American expat Arthur’s insights, especially on New Zealand politics, are generally my gauge. And there are a bunch more: Johnny Bacardi on Elton John music, Jaquandor on movie music, etc., etc.

Who are your guides?
***
My reaction to Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize was epitomized in the title of something on saw at Common Dreams: now earn it!

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Jaquandor and Rebecca

Jaquandor of Byzantium Shores, the finest blogger in western New York AND a fashionista ahead of the curve, asks these questions:

Does David Paterson know what he’s doing?

More often than he’s given credit for, I think. On his Day 1, he’s all funny and charming. On Day 2, he admits that both he and his wife were unfaithful, a brilliant move designed to make sure the state was not suddenly surprised by another sex scandal after Eliot Spitzer’s downfall. It was a calculated risk that worked.

He was right to note the fiscal disaster the state was going to be suffering after the Wall Street collapse, as it affected our state disproportionally; not only was the state heavily invested, but a lot of New Yorkers lost their jobs on Wall Street in the market meltdown. Of course, the state, unlike the federal government, cannot operate in a deficit, so cutbacks and layoffs were inevitable. Part of Paterson’s problem is that he was bearer of bad news.

He was also stifled by the second most dysfunctional state legislature in the country – I’m convinced California’s is worse – and threw a Hail Mary by picking his own lieutenant governor in order to break the state Senate deadlock. I found and read the state constitution and decided that the lower court was right; that picking his own replacement, essentially, was beyond the scope of the emergency powers he was citing. I thought they would be used in cases where the legislature was wiped out by war or disaster that the state couldn’t be allowed to flounder. Apparently, the Court of Appeals (which, for you non-New Yorkers, is the state’s highest court) decided that the gridlock that took place for a month beginning June 8 WAS enough of an emergency that picking his own lt gov WAS kosher. So kudos to him.

Now, he royally messed up the appointment of Hillary Clinton’s replacement for the US Senate. Don’t know what that whole Caroline Kennedy dance was. But while Kirsten Gillibrand was not a popular choice downstate at the time, notice how her primary opposition has melted away.

This is not to say that I’ve agreed with all of his decisions. His unilateral decision NOT to tax the rich more, lest they leave the state, seemed tone deaf to me.

So his abysmally low poll numbers surprise me a bit. There is a local public radio force named Alan Chartock of WAMC who believes part of his problem is him being characterized as a bumbler on Saturday Night Live a few times, much the same way that Chevy Chase’s portrayal of Gerald Ford established the President as clumsy. There was a poll a while back (Siena or Marist College ran it) that said that 7% of the population felt negative towards Paterson because of how SNL portrayed him. Wow, didn’t think that SNL still had that much pull, outside of Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin last year.

I’ll be curious how he does on Meet the Press today, rerun on other NBC networks during the week. You KNOW that David Gregory has to ask him about the report that the Obama people didn’t want him running for governor in 2010, which would not come from legitimate channels right before the President visited the Capital District on Monday.

Photo by John Hebert

To what degree is the eBook the way of the future? (I assume we all grant that there will be eBooks, but how much will they take over?)

Actually, I’ll ask you this, since you read and watch science fiction: do you EVER see people reading books or newspapers in the futuristic portrayals? I don’t recall any.

I think more the question is how much will paper products stick around? There were a couple pieces in Entertainment Weekly recently – pretty sure Stephen King was one of them – that discussed the visceral pleasure of the book – how it feels in the hand, how it smells, how it is laid out, how you can fan the pages to create a breeze (I’m doing this from memory and may have made up that last one) – that the electronic equivalent can NEVER replicate.

There’s a private high school in New England that in 2009 got rid of all of its books, replaced by eBooks. The headmistress said that the students were thriving. If experiences like that “take”, then the books will become like vinyl records; they’ll still be around, but marginalized. Conversely, if there is a pushback from educators who say our kids NEED the actual manipulation of pages – and, IMO, they do – then the flow will be stemmed, though not stopped.

Of course, eBooks might be replaced by something else – remember how ubiquitous the VCR used to be? – are replaced by some sort of computer chip that goes directly into our brains.

There are, by my rough estimation, about fifty thousand books about the Beatles. Can you recommend a couple, to help narrow it all down?

You are a relative newbie to the Fabs, so I’d start with The Beatles by Hunter Davies, one of the first. It’s pretty thorough without overwhelming (e.g., the Beatles Anthology), though ends before the end of the group, if I remember correctly. Beyond that, it would depend on what you’re really interested in: their songwriting, the recording techniques, their lives, Beatlemania. Many dismiss Philip Norman book Shout! as anti-Paul, but few doubt his thoroughness and it’s a good read; he has a newer book I haven’t read that seems to be better received. Peter Brown’s The Love You Make is “an insider’s story”, and is interesting at that level. There’s a relatively recent book Can’t Buy Me Love that has reviewed really well, but I haven’t actually read.

My personal favorite, actually, is The Beatles: An Illustrated Record by Roy Carr & Tony Tyler. It was about the recordings, and it was at the point where I (thought I ) knew everything about them, but I was basing my knowledge on the US LPs I bought; this book totally upended my understanding. But now the CDs are out in the “British” order, so it wouldn’t have the same effect, I imagine.

I’d love to hear the opinions of sages such as Fred Hembeck and Johnny Bacardi on this topic.

Rebecca from 40 Forever, who is intelligent, attractive and personable – naturally she’s a librarian – asks:

How many guitars are in Rochester’s famous House of Guitars?

37,326.

Actually, the website says “it’s home to an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 guitars and 4 million albums, CDs and tapes.”

Meant to get to Scott’s questions, but I still feel not great and I may be the healthiest of the three of us. Certainly feeling better than the wife, who took a three-hour nap yesterday. Anyway, Scott, before the end of the month. as the J5 title goes, “Maybe tomorrow.”

Torture and other fun topics

I suppose it oughtn’t to be necessary to say, but I’m against torture. Dick Cheney’s been rebuked. Not so incidentally, I recognize his right to speak; I was just hoping that he wouldn’t exercise it right away. Most Vice-Presidents (Nixon in 1960, Gore in 2000) GO AWAY for a while.

Jaquandor, in touting someone else’s disgust with some conservative talk show host’s ramblings about waterboarding, was rather eviscerating of (yawn) Hannity who was likewise braying that he’d undergo waterboarding and “he’d do it for the troops”, I thought, “OK, you blowhard. But let’s do it right. Let’s have someone grab you off the street, throw you into a van, blindfold you, and drive you to someplace you have no idea. Then let’s have them strip off your clothes, deprive you of food for days, not say a word to you except to tell you to stand up or lie down; let’s have them randomly beat you. And then let’s have them waterboard you. No cameras to record your bravado. No knowledge that after ten seconds it’ll all be over. Let’s have them waterboard you, over and over and over again, until you scream for no more. Sounds about right to me.

Meanwhile Greg talks about Charles Krauthammer, moral relativism and torture, which you should just go read.

But there was a concept in Greg’s piece that reminded me of a somewhat different situation. In October 1972, I had to go in front of my draft board in Binghamton to maintain my position that I was a conscious objector, which I had declared when I had registered for the draft about a year and a half earlier, and which I had to deal with because my draft number was so low – 2. One of the questions was what I would do if someone attacked my mother. I said I would defend her and protect her. Then, I was asked, would not going to fight a Hitler be a protecting my mother against attack? My response was that it is one think to respond to an immediate threat of an attack against my mother; it was far different to intentionally put myself in a position to to fight and kill people. Perhaps this is moral relativism too, but regardless, I was granted a c.o.; then because the draft law was winding down, I wasn’t drafted anyway, even for alternative service.

Here’s another blogpost that had an impact on me this week, by Thom Wade: I hate that rape is an acceptable metaphor for minor things. Among the examples, “Stop Raping My Childhood, George Lucas.” Thom links to other banal rants as well. It is SO obviously wrongheaded that Thom should not have had to comment.

Finally, a personal, somewhat painful recollection by SamuraiFrog about family and friends and rage and therapy. “Everyone tells you to just get over it and move on, stop living in the past. But living in the past isn’t the problem.” I related to it more than I can say; OK, more than I am willing to say.

ROG