Smokey Robinson is 75

SmokeyUsually, when a musical artist reached the age of 70, I would indicate my favorite songs that they recorded. For some reason, though, five years ago, I listed some of my favorite songs WRITTEN by Smokey Robinson. And his legendary songwriting, and producing, IS worthy of note, and absolutely VITAL to the success of Motown Records.

A bit of Motown trivia: I Heard It Through the Grapevine, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, was first recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles [LISTEN], but Berry Gordy rejected it, and Marvin Gaye’s version as well. He allowed Gladys Knight and the Pips to release it, and they had a #2 hit. Then, the other versions were released, with Marvin having a massive hit.

I haven’t heard it yet, but the artist released a new album, “Smokey & Friends” on August 19, 2014 on Verve Records, a duets collection “with Contemporary and Classic Artists such as Elton John, James Taylor, Mary J. Blige, Aloe Blacc, Jessie J, Miguel, CeeLo, Ledisi and more. It was his highest-charting album in 33 years.

The “problem” with putting together this list Continue reading Smokey Robinson is 75

I'll take the cheap applause

applause2Mark Evanier pointed to what is likely Woody Allen’s first-ever podcast interview. (Likely because Woody has no idea what a podcast is, he noted.) I listened to it – it’s 35 minutes long – and I got one takeaway.

The interviewer asked him how he felt about that instant applause that established comedians get when doing stand-up. They don’t have to do anything except walk on stage; sometimes just having the name announced. Isn’t this just cheap applause? Continue reading I'll take the cheap applause

10 movies that have influenced me

beingthereThere’s some online game in which you name ten films that heavily influenced your way of thinking, or world view, or whatever. They need not be GOOD films or your FAVORITE films. If I picked Annie Hall, which may be my favorite, it would be selected, as I noted before, because of my hatred of going into a movie after it starts, just like Alvy Singer (Woody Allen). But let me look elsewhere.

Being There (1979) – Can a guy uttering stuff he’s heard on TV be embraced as a wise and profound leader? Seemed ridiculous at the time, save for televangelists, but now reality-show “celebrities” often drive the national dialogue (see: Jersey Shore, Duck Dynasty, The Real Housewives of Topeka, et al.)
Continue reading 10 movies that have influenced me

E is for Eleanor Roosevelt

EleanorRooseveltI watched the excellent The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Ken Burns’s seven-part series on PBS this past fall and became even more impressed with Eleanor Roosevelt than I had been before. She was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, the daughter of his brother Elliot.

She married her fifth cousin Franklin Roosevelt on St. Patrick’s Day 1905 in New York City, “given away” by her uncle Teddy, who was by then President.

In spite of Franklin’s marital betrayal, which wounded Eleanor greatly, they were a dynamic political couple. She could sometimes say or do things that he, a more pragmatic state legislator, governor and eventually President, could not.

In the summer of 2013, my family visited Val-Kill, her place on the Hudson River not far from the home in Hyde Park that was her mother-in-law’s and where she seldom felt comfortable and welcomed. There is a kiosk there where one could read her My Day columns, which she wrote from 1936 to 1962, the year that she passed away.

After FDR died in 1945, she was appointed by President Truman to be a delegate to the group that would create the United Nations. She became a primary author of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

Check out these Eleanor-centered clips from Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts:
ER Is Born & Elliot Dies
ER and the Red Cross
Her First Step into Politics
ER vs. Sara Delano Roosevelt
ER on Troubled World
ER’s South Pacific Visit
ER Leaves White House

Unknown heroes: Harriet Elizabeth Brown

brown2From the Zinn Education Project:

Harriet Elizabeth Brown was a Calvert County (MD) school teacher in the 1930s. In 1937, she became aware that white teachers were making almost twice the salary of black teachers who had the same level of education and experience. She contacted NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall who worked with her to sue the county based on a violation of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On December 27, 1937, the case was settled. The result was that the Calvert County Board of Education agreed to equalize the salaries of white and black teachers. The case helped pave the way for the Maryland Teachers Pay Equalization Law and eventually changes in the state and country.

Harriet Elizabeth Brown (February 10, 1907 — January 1, 2009) is a member of the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.

Photoof Harriet Elizabeth Brown courtesy of the Maryland State Archives.

Never heard of that band – oh, THEM!

I was reminded that back in the early 1970s, the student government at the State University College of New York at New Paltz put on a bunch of concerts, many of which I attended. But I remember reading about one in the Fall of 1971 by some group I had never heard of. The show cost only 50 cents, but I passed.

That group was Continue reading Never heard of that band – oh, THEM!

The Multilingual Keyboard

multilingualI was once reading “Diacritical Issues for Multilingual Searching” – yes, I read things with titles like that – by Susanne Bjorner. Actually, by Susanne Bjørner. It appeared back in the January 2008 issue of Searcher magazine. It goes on about whether you miss information when you fail to use those diacritical marks over letters (using the n instead of the ñ, for instance) when you search. For the most part, the answer is no, since most databases will translate the ñ as an n.

Still, if one is writing a lot in a different language one could change the keyboard, by opening regional and language options, click on language tabs, under installed… Wait a minute, I only want to use those diacritical letters occasionally, to write someone’s name properly. Well, for that, Bjørner came up with this nifty cheat sheet. It involves using the Alt key and numeric keypad to the right of the QWERTY keyboard. Hold the Alt key, type in the four numbers, then release. Thus:

Alt 0193 Á
Alt 0225 á

Alt 0197 Å
Alt 0229 å

Alt 0198 Æ
Alt 0230 æ

Alt 0201 É
Alt 0233 é

Alt 0235 ë

Alt 0205 Í
Alt 0237 í

Alt 0211 Ó
Alt 0243 ó

Alt 0214 Ö
Alt 0246 ö

Alt 0216 Ø
Alt 0248 ø

Alt 0218 Ú
Alt 0250 ú

Alt 0220 Ü
Alt 0252 ü

Alt 0209 Ñ
Alt 0241 ñ

At home, I found I had to have my Num Lock on, but not at work.

But here’s an issue: your laptop may not HAVE a numerical keypad. So, you’ll need to create a Word file with the cheat sheet on your standard computer, save it to the laptop, then copy and paste. Still, if you prefer writing María to Maria – if that’s the way she spells her name – this is a lovely way to create linguistically more accurate names.