November 24th, 2021

storyteller doll

A Grand Catch-Up

I have a lot of catching up to do, but let’s start with a couple of items of shameless self-promotion.


Shameless Self-Promotion - Storytelling Edition: There are still a few days left for you to get tickets to my next storytelling show. This is Saturday night, November 27th at 7 pm EST and is both live at The Auld Shebeen in Fairfax, VA and being live streamed, so is watchable from anywhere. The theme is Thanksgiving: Stories of Gratitude, Grace, and Gravy and my story, which is up first, has to do with what I really learned in ballet class. Tickets are available at the Better Said Than Done website.


Shameless Self-Promotion - Podcast Edition: I am (again) on the Style Invitational podcast that Mike Gips produces. Six of us played a game show, which was tremendous fun. Theres an audio only version up right now at the You’re Invited website and a video version is in the works.


Celebrity Death Watch: Eddie Robinson played first base for the Cleveland Indians and later managed the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves. Joy Watson wrote children’s books. Gerald Home was an actor and puppeteer who, among other things, operated Audrey II in the 1986 film version of Little Shop of Horrors. Pauline Bart was a sociologist who studied women’s issues, including rape. Granville Adams was an actor who was notorious for pushing somebody into an elevator shaft in a nightclub brawl. Ruthie Thompson was an animator for Disney and was 111 years old at her death. Paddy Moloney co-founded the Irish band The Chieftains. Marcus Malone was a percussionist who was one of the founding members of Santana. Ray Fosse was a catcher for the Cleveland Indians and Oakland A’s. Gary Paulsen wrote children’s and young adult fiction. Madame Nguyen Van Thieu was the first lady of South Vietnam from 1967 to 1975. Betty Lynn was an actress who was best known for playing Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show. George Butler made documentary films including Pumping Iron and a trilogy about Ernest Shackleton. Robin McNamara was a singer-songwriter, best known for “Lay a Little Loving’ On Me.” Jay Black headed up Jay and the Americans. Peter Scolari was a sitcom actor in Newhart and Bosom Buddies. Linwood Holton was governor of Virginia in the early 1970’s. Jerry Remy was a baseball player and long-time color commentator for the Red Sox. Justus Rosenberg was a member of the French resistance during World War II. Pat Martino was a jazz guitarist and composer. Aaron Beck was a psychiatrist who developed cognitive behavior therapy. Declan Mulligan was the guitarist for The Beau Brummells. Bettina Grossman was a conceptual artist. Ruth Ann Miner was the governor of Delaware from 2001 to 2009. Dean Stockwell was an actor who appeared in the TV show Quantum Leap as well as numerous movies. Max Cleland was a disabled Vietnam veteran (triple amputee) who served a term as a U.S. senator from Georgia. Graeme Edge was the drummer for the Moody Blues. Petra Nayer was a book reviewer for NPR. Sam Huff was a linebacker for the Washington Redskins. Julio Lugo played shortstop for the Red Sox. Clarissa Eden was the widow of former British prime minister Anthony Eden. Art Lafleur was a character actor who appeared in The Sandlot and Field of Dreams. Dave Frishberg wrote comic songs, including “My Attorney, Berne,” as well as a few songs for Schoolhouse Rock. Keith Allison was a singer and bassist for Paul Revere and the Raiders. Peter Buck co-founded Subway. Bill Virton was an outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and later managed several teams, notably the Houston Astros. Robert Ellis was an artist whose work included what was at one time the largest tapestry in the world. Jay Last was one of the founders of Fairchild Semiconductor. Ron Shaffer originated the Dr. Gridlock transportation column in the Washington Post.


Arthur Mattock was a professor of mathematics at MIT. I am reasonably sure that I had him for 18.03 (Differential Equations) back in spring semester 1977. I have a vague memory of him assigning a problem set the day before it was due on the grounds that everyone does them last minute anyway.


Colin Powell was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993 and the Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. He formulated a doctrine that said the U.S. should not intervene militarily unless American national security interests are at stake and there is overwhelming public support, but also gave a speech to the United Nations on the rationale for the Iraq War that did not meet those criteria. He had the integrity to leave the Republican party after the January 6th insurrection.


Leslie Bricusse was a composer and lyricist, His movie work included Dr. Doolittle and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. His most prominent musical theatre works were his collaborations with Anthony Newly on Stop the World - I Want to Get Off and The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd.

Mort Sahl was a comedian and broke new ground as a social satirist.

Neal Edward Smith was the longest serving U.S. representative from Iowa. He earned me 25 ghoul pool points.

F. W. de Klerk was the last apartheid era president of South Africa. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for dismantling apartheid but was controversial for the inadequacy of his apologies for the racist system.

Robert Bly was poet. His book Iron John is widely credited with starting the mythopoetic men’s movement.


Malaise: I’ve been in a bit of a funk for the past couple of weeks, for no obvious reason. I think it is most likely a combination of lack of sunlight and chilly temperatures. I am trying to counter it by doing things and planning more things.


Politics - Virginia: Another factor in my malaise was the outcome of the elections. There has been a lot of analysis about what went wrong in the Virginia gubernatorial race, but I think it’s really a lot simpler than the way the pundits have portrayed it. Namely, Terry McAuliffe ran a completely incompetent campaign. I got lots of mailers from him early in the race but nothing in the last two months. Youngkin had ads on the radio about every 5 minutes, while McAuliffe had none. He needed to get out beyond his supporters who went to rallies to counter the lies (primarily about education) that Youngkin was spouting.


Politics - Rittenhouse: While I am disappointed that Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges, I’ve read a couple of pieces that provide a rational explanation. Namely, once the judge limited the case by removing the illegal possession of firearms charges, the only issue was whether or not he could claim self-defense. And, in Wisconsin, the burden of proof is on the State to prove he did not have grounds for that claim. Interestingly, the same is true in most states now. In fact, Virginia may be the last exception.


Broadway’s One Hit Wonders: Just before my vacation I went to a virtual One Day University lecture by Sean Hartley about Broadway’s One Hit Wonders. When I’d seen the description, I had some objections. Sure The Music Man was much more successful, but Meredith Willson also wrote The Unsinkable Molly Brown which did respectably. And Galt McDermott (who wrote the music for Hair) won a Tony for Two Gentlemen of Verona, a show I was surprised to like as much as I did. Hartley did talk about both of those and admit he was stretching the definition. At any rate, the talk was quite entertaining and informative. I’d say the gist of it is that the creative teams did not want to work together for various reasons. In addition, several of the people involved preferred to concentrate on other projects, e.g. pop music. Of course, there is also the tragedy of Rent with Jonathan Larson’s death the night before the off-Broadway premiere. (Which reminds me - I need to find time to see the movie version of Tick Tick Boom.) Perhaps it is more surprising that there are so many people who did have a string of Broadway hits.


Travel Talk: There was a (virtual) Travelers’ Century Club talk by John Gimlette about the Guianas this past weekend. This is a part of the world I’ve been interested in for a while. The talk was excellent - entertaining and informative, with a lot of practical information. I need to look up Gimlette’s book, Wild Coast (and, probably, his other travel books).


Criminal relatives: Today there was a JewishGen webinar about researching criminal ancestors. Ron Arons has written a couple of books on the subject and was fairly informative, but he needed way more than the one hour he had. And, yes, genealogy research is something else I am way way way behind on.


Another Genealogy Talk: There was a JGSGW meeting on Sunday with a talk on the topic of planning for what will happen to your research after you die. I’ll say the most useful part of that was the suggestion to just devote 30 minutes a day for 30 days to working on an action plan. I think I will wait until January, however.




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