Category Archives: Ken Levine

As Much of a Rant as I Can Muster

Ken Levine had an interesting post about ranting. He ranted about Christmas decorations in September, sports seasons that gpo on too long and the like.

SamuraiFrog links to a young woman ranting about a giveaway of Darwin’s Origin of the Species, and for good cause. (Language NSFW.) SF is also good at ranting, himself.

I suppose I’ve ranted now and then in the comments sections of other people’s blogs. I know that at least on one occasion recently, I got rather incensed that a letter writer suggested that the blogger was being racist, essentially because the blogger saw some of the reaction to Barack Obama as being racist. I felt the need to defend the blogger, though I knew the blogger didn’t need any defending from me. But I was SO incensed that I was compelled to anyway.

My little rant here, I guess, is small potatoes. My wife is a big fan of figure skating. During the fall and winter, there are six Grand Prix events that take place across the world. Apparently, though, according to this site, the only event that will be televised this season is the Skate America, and for that, only the Ladies Free Skate. No short programs, no men’s, pairs or dance. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships will be shown in January, but in the season leading up to an Olympic year, one wants more opportunities to gauge the skaters from other countries as well as the American contingent.

Meanwhile, NBC IS showing what I frankly consider junk events such as Halloween on Ice Starring Mannheim Steamroller or Musselman’s Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular. These are exhibitions, not real competitive skating. And while I don’t care personally, I think the coverage of he sport does it a disservice. It’d be like showing pre-season games and the All-Star Game without showing the regular season competition. Of course, the fact that the junk events are scheduled so often may be a reflection of the ratings, in which case I suppose the skating viewers may be to blame as well.

Oh, know what else is bugging me? The fact that when i type the words men’s, women’s, or children’s in Blogger and elsewhere, they are underlined in red as though they are misspelled. Sure I can ignore it, but why is it indicated as incorrect in the first place?


The Random Dozen Meme

I’m Sunday Stealing again:

1. When you go to Wowmart, what one thing do you get every single time, besides a funky-wheeled squeaking cart full of frustration?

The heebie-jeebies. Since I never go there on my own, only with other people, usually those with whom I am related, I find that it’s almost like suffocating.

2. What is something that people are currently “into” that you just don’t get or appreciate?

Probably a reality show that I haven’t even heard of. I mean I never knew about Jon and Kate until their marriage went south, and now I hear about them ALL OF THE TIME. Oh, I know something else: Twilight. All I know about it is what I read in other people’s blogs, none of it complimentary.

3. What is something that really hoists your sail that other people might feel “ho-hum” about?

Racquetball, the sport of kings. And I actually like to watch tennis tournaments such as the U.S. open and Wimbledon.

4. Favorite song to sing in the shower or car?

Oh, there’s no singular favorite. It’s often affected by my mood or what I’ve been listening to. On the bike, though, it’s as often as not, “Keeping On Running” by the Spencer Davis Group; GREAT bass line.

5. A really great salad must have this ingredient:

Lettuce other than iceberg.

6. What advice in a nutshell would you give to new bloggers?

Write three days worth of stuff before you post your first item; otherwise, you’ll have tabula rasa every day.

7. What was the alternate name that your parents almost named you? Do you wish they had chosen it instead of the one they gave you?

Actually, I was always going to be Roger, and my sister Leslie was going to be Leslie. I think my mom was pushing for Margaret for the baby sister, but Marcia was the compromise.

8. What in your life are you waiting for?

Very little. I find that waiting for even the weekend tends to diminish the time I’m in presently in. If it’d Wednesday and I want it to be Friday would mean Wednesday and Thursday are not being honored.

9. You get a package in the mail. What is it, and who is it from?

From my sister Marcia. Something she’s passed on from my 18-year-old niece to my 5 year old daughter.

10. Today–what song represents you?

I’m So Tired by the Beatles.

11. What is one thing that blogging has taught you about yourself?

That I’m even more opinionated than I thought I was, and more disciplined.

12. How are you going to (or how did you) choose the clothes you’re wearing today?
What do they say about you in general or specifically how you’re feeling today?

Are they clean? Are they wrinkled? Do they vaguely match? Are they torn? If the answers are Yes, No, Yes, and Depends On Where And How Much, respectively, we’re good to go. It means that clothes have never been that important to me.
I should note the passing of Larry Gelbart, writer of the TV show M*A*S*H (which I watched religiously), co-creator of the Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (hilarious, even in a local production I saw), and co-writer of Tootsie (a film I enjoyed), among many other credits, going back to working with Sid Caesar. But I’ll just recommend this piece by Mark Evanier and also this one, which rightly points to this piece by Ken Levine.


20 Questions

An old quiz I got from Ken Levine:

1. What newspapers do you read?
The Times Union (Albany), the Wall Street Journal, a couple business weeklies, occasionally the New York Times on Sunday if I’m caught up, which I never am. But I’m often checking the Times and the TU when I get a bulletin, such as last night when I read that Tom Watson blew the British Open and Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, died. (Never read that book, BTW, though I did read his followup book about being a teacher. I DID see the Angela’s Ashes movie and found it amazingly bleak.)

2. Which ones do you move your lips to while reading?
One of my racquetball buddies reads the New York Post; that’d be it.

3. Which Web sites are on your favorites bookmark?
Tends to be libraries (Albany Public Library, State Library).

4. Where do you get your car washed?
Hoffman’s. They’re all over Albany.

5. Do you know your dentist’s first name?
Yes: Michael.

6. Do you believe newspapers are going to die? If so, when?
Not entirely, but there will be many more corpses before some agreeable fiscal model settles in. There’s an article I read in print recently I found interesting:
Why ‘Going Galt’ Isn’t the Solution for Newspapers
by Nat Ives
Published: June 22, 2009
NEW YORK ( — What if every newspaper gated off all their content tomorrow? What if newspapers embraced the idea of “going Galt”? Well, it would be suicide.
[Galt refers to an Ayn Rand character.]

7. What was the last book you read?
The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg

8. What’s the last book you say you read?
I have no need want to impress people with how hip I am.

9. If you got a unicorn what would you name it?

10. What does your TiVo think about you?
In my case, DVR – You are a news nerd.

11. Character of fiction you most resemble?
Radar O’Reilly

12. Who plays you in your bio-pic?
Charles Dutton.

13. Do you floss?
Yes. Actually that was one of the things I never even knew about until I was an adult, somehow. But it’s supposed to extend one’s life.

14. Did you ever believe your toys come alive when you leave the room?
Of course.

Do you still?
Sure, why not?

15. How many old cell phones do you own?
One that I’m going to give to a local women’s shelter. They refurbish and give to women avoiding abusive situations.

16. Best show legendary biz/movie star encounter.
Since Rod Serling is my ONLY Hollywood biz encounter… Well, there was the time that I met Anita Baker at a concert and Mike Tyson and Jack Nicholson were backstage.

17. Do you get satellite radio?

18. And as a follow do you “get” satellite radio?
Sure. No commercials, 170 music channels.

19. Do you read the Enquirer/InTouch/US/People?
Only in supermarket lines.

20. Do you lie about it?
No. I had a subscription to People for several years in the 1980s and early 1990s. Now, I only see it in the lunch room and I wonder “who ARE these people?” more often as not. For every Brad and Angelina, there are are people who must have devolved from some reality show.
Ah, the moon landing 40 years ago today; Gordon muses on it. Too bad Cronkite didn’t quite make it to the anniversary.


April Ramblin'

I briefly attended that vigil for Binghamton yesterday. Would have stayed longer but for the fact that it was cold, occasionally rainy, and I had the child, who has been sick recently, in tow. She may not have understood the point of the gathering, attended by about 45, including Albany’s mayor (who, not incidentally is, running for re-election), but I still wanted her to be there. That event, along with the story in question, probably prompted this response from me.

THE best television newsperson to come out of the Capital District of New York State, Ed Dague, is in chronic pain. Touching story. I met him at least twice, which I should write about sometime, I reckon.

Greg finds legislation he just can’t get behind.

Gordon touts Robert Johnson, as well he should.

They are remastering the whole Beatles catalog. Given the fact that I’ve already bought it all about thrice (US LP, UK LP, CD), do I want to buy this AGAIN? No, yet the Past Masters package sounds annoyingly intriguing.

Ken Levine talks about Point of View, one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H. Did the TV show House steal it? Didn’t see the House ep, but I have my doubts.

15 free downloads to pep up your old PC, which I haven’t tried yet, but I figure if I post it, it’ll remind me.

I’m getting fairly obsessed with getting the Denver mint state quarters. All I need are Hawaii, Washington state, Missouri and, most problematic, Pennsylvania, the eldest. Oh, and the District of Columbia; just got the Philly mint version this week. Haven’t seen the Puerto Rico quarter yet.

My good buddy Steve Bissette discusses, in great deal, including 27 8 by 10 color glossies, Saga of the Swamp Thing #20, the transitional first issue by Alan Moore, John Totleman, and himself that starts off the neat book I just received.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Speaking of Swamp Thing, the co-creator of, and later Steve’s editor on, the title, coping as well as one can, given the circumstances, but there’s a movement afoot to replace the comics he wrote or edited and, to that end, for people to contribute to a Len Wein comics checklist. I always liked his work during my days of reading Marvel Comics.

So THAT’S what happened at the Albany Comic Show Sunday, before I got there.

ADD’s Eisner picks. I’ll take his word for it, since the only thing on the list I own is Mark Evanier’s Kirby book, though Coraline has been on back order for about a month.

Evanier tells A Story You Won’t Believe about Spike Jones.

I’m so pleased: Two weekends ago, we went to the in-laws for their 50th wedding anniversary. Last weekend was Lydia’s 5th birthday party at the State Museum. Next weekend is something else again. This coming weekend, Easter, the wife and her mother were trying to come up with a plan to get together. The final resolution – we’re all staying in our respective homes and resting; I mean we’ll go to church and all, but no travel. I for one am exhausted, and so is my wife, so this is a good thing.

Nik from Spatula Forum celebrates five years of blogging by talking about…

Arthur from AmeriNZ celebrates both his 100th blogpost and two years of podcasting.


Chuck Lorre and I are LikeThis

I was reading Ken Levine’s column last month. By sheer circumstance, I may have been one of the first people in the country to notice the now-famous Chuck Lorre placards:

Times Union Section: LIFE & LEISURE
Page: D7 Date: Wednesday, October 1, 1997
ROB OWEN TV/Radio writer

The new TV season is only in its second week, but already there has been a noteworthy sighting of minutiae — an insider’s joke during the end credits of ABC’s “Dharma & Greg.”

Roger Green of Albany telephoned last week to point out the producer’s credit for Chuck Lorre Productions that included lines of type running down the screen in less than two seconds.

Green videotaped “Dharma & Greg” and by freeze framing it was able to read the statement from the show’s executive producer, which included the following:

“I believe that the obsessive worship of movie, TV and sports figures is less likely to produce spiritual gain than praying to Thor.”

“I believe that the Laws of Karma do not apply to show business, where good things happen to bad people on a fairly regular basis.”

“I believe when ABC reads this, I’m gonna be in b-i-i-g trouble.”

A spokesperson for the show’s production company said this type of credit is unusual, but wouldn’t confirm whether it will be different each week.

But the lightning-fast statement concluded with this hint: “Please be sure to tune in again to this vanity card for more of my personal beliefs.”

Set your VCRs tonight for just before 9 p.m. and prepare to freeze frame.

Here’s the complete message.

I recall specifically that I taped the new show only because I was about to watch it when my good friend, the late Lillian Johnson, called right at 8:30. So I taped the show on the VCR. Then I watched it immediately thereafter and had a “what was that?” moment.

It was three weeks before I saw the phenomenon mentioned in Entertainment Weekly, so I’m going to assume I was among the first to note it.

See all of Chuck Lorre’s placards, for The Big Bang Theory. Two and a Half Men and Dharma & Greg here. Apparently, he wasn’t doing the messages for Cybill or Grace Under Fire.

Not so incidentally, I can’t help but think of Jenna Elfman whenever I hear about the Dharma Initiative on Lost.