Happy Thanksgiving!

November 28 is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, so a Happy Thanksgiving to my countrymen. And to all, I’m thankful that you stopped by today.

Image credit: BVDC / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: BVDC / 123RF Stock Photo

Mary and I spend the holiday at home. My brothers and I all live in different states, and our parents have all passed away. Besides, it’s difficult for me to travel since the stroke.

Mary and I have a saying when we are consciously procrastinating on something: “It’s time to make the cranberries.” Here’s the story behind that:

When I was living at home, and after Mary and I were married, we would have Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with my mother and stepfather and about a dozen other family members. My stepfather would cook the turkey outside on the Weber charcoal grill, run to the grocery store half a dozen times to pick up items that he would discover that we didn’t have, peel and cook the vegetables, bake the dinner rolls and pies, and make the gravy. My mother would make the cranberry sauce, which involved putting a pound of cranberries and a cup of sugar in a saucepan with enough water to cover, setting them on a burner, and cooking them until the cranberries popped. My stepfather would be hard at work in the kitchen making preparations most of the day while my mother sat in her “command module” (think of The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon’s spot on the couch), cigarette in one hand, phone in the other, and talk to her sisters all day, each conversation ending with, “I have to get off the phone and make the cranberries.” There were a couple of years when dinner was held up because Mom hadn’t made the cranberries yet.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are.


Two for Tuesday: The Doors

I wrote a checklist in Springpad not long ago that had a list of the bands that I wanted to feature here on Tuesdays, and for some rason I forgot about it until I had trouble thinking of a band to feature here. When I brought it up, I realized that I had done just about all the musical acts on it but this one.

The Doors (vocalist Jim Morrison, guitarist Robbie Krieger, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, and drummer John Densmore) formed in 1965 and signed with Elektra Records in 1966. Their first big hit was “Light My Fire,” certified gold in 1967; their last, “Riders on the Storm,” was released in 1971 after the death of Morrison. The band continued until 1973 as a trio, releasing several more albums before splitting up. In all, the band has received 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and 5 multi-Platinum album awards in the United States alone, and are popular to this day.

The story is told that they were scheduled to play The Ed Sullivan Show and, when the producers heard that they were going to do “Light My Fire,” they asked them to change the line “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” to “Girl, we couldn’t get much better.” The band agreed, but when Morrison sang the line, he did the original one, either by accident or on purpose. Regardless, Ed Sullivan was furious and told the band that they would never appear on The Ed Sullivan Show again. Morrison reportedly told Ed, “Who cares? We’ve already played The Ed Sullivan Show.”

The first song is “Riders on the Storm,” their last hit record. It reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971, shortly after Morrison’s death.

The second song is “Touch Me,” which rose to #3 on the Hot 100 (#1 in Canada) and was certified Gold in 1968. This performance was from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour originally shown on CBS in December 1968. The band is accompanied by saxophonist Curtis Amy and members of the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. Robbie Krieger has a black eye here; it was either from a fight with Jim Morrison, a car accident, or from being hit by a man who was aiming for Jim Morrison, who ducked.

The Doors: your Two for Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

ETA: This is post #300 on this blog. Thanks for sticking with me.

#ROW80: Last November Update

I declared NaNoWriMo 2013 a bust early last week, closed the Scrivener file and filed it away. I hated to just give up on it, but I simply have too much to do and had no idea where I was going with it, or any of the three projects I had going this month, for that matter. As I said in last week’s update, I doubt that I’ll be participating again, unless I have a really good idea and have it fully developed by the last week of October.

Anyway, on to this week’s update:

  • Fifty new ideas: I had one day when I came up with three good ideas for sample online applications. No really good writing ideas, but ideas are ideas, even if they’re not particularly good ones. Just need a little work, that’s all.
  • NaNoWriMo: See above. Dropping this from the list.
  • Read 30 minutes a day: The Kindle has spoiled me. The battery died a couple of weeks ago, and the reading ground to a halt. I have the new battery and will install it probably tomorrow. I did read some of Janet Evanovich’s Takedown Twenty. So far, very funny.
  • Sample website: I’ll be taking the new ideas and figuring out how to make them come to life. At least one of them will require knowledge that I don’t have yet. I also discovered that my grasp of several key Rails concepts leaves something to be desired, so more work is needed there. Live and learn.
  • FlexJobs: I would like to get at least one of the sample apps working before committing to anything there. Doesn’t look like that will be happening in the immediate future, but that’s no reason to delay joining. That will be my objective for this week.

Until next week, straight ahead.

Fifty years ago today, November 22, 1963…

My brothers and I were all home sick with the flu, and like every other kid in Chicago, we were watching “Bozo’s Circus.” Mom and Dad were both at work, and Lillian, the woman who cleaned house and kept us in line, was working in the kitchen.

At about twenty to one, WGN News broke in with news that President Kennedy and Governor Connally of Texas were shot in a motorcade in Dallas. We didn’t care; we wanted to see the rest of Bozo. A few minutes later, WGN began a simulcast with CBS News. This video is the second hour; at around 7 minutes he announces that it’s official, that President Kennedy died as a result of being shot.

I remember being anxious when I went to bed that night. I was 7 and all of the discussion and TV coverage had gotten to me. Dad tucked me into bed, and he said, “Johnny, he’s probably sitting up in Heaven watching all of this and laughing his ass off.” Dad knew just what to say.

For the next four days, the assassination of the President was all there was on TV. No cartoons. Darn.

Sunday, we were all doing better, and were sitting in front of the TV watching the Dallas Police transfer Lee Harvey Oswald to another facility as we waited for Mom and Dad to finish getting dressed for Mass. And, this is what we see.

“Mom! Dad! They shot Oswald!” The three of us were like a Greek chorus. We never made it to Mass, but I think you figured that out already.

Today (Friday), starting at 1:40 PM Eastern Standard Time, CBSNews.com will do a live stream of its broadcast that day. I know a lot of my readers might not have been around when it happened, so here’s your chance to see what it was like first-hand. If you miss it or can’t find it (you know how websites can get), don’t worry; just search for “Kennedy assassination” on YouTube. There are a number of long videos, taken from each of the networks and from WFAA-TV in Dallas. David Von Pein also maintains a site on Blogspot that has links to everything that he’s collected, including radio and TV coverage.

I’m sure that some of you have run across other websites about the assassination. Feel free to add the links in the comments.

I watch these and am amazed at how primitive everything is. News anchors smoking on the set, the absence of flashy graphics or sets, the lack of video coverage, the way that they have to depend on the telephone to get the news. Fifty years ago, it was state-of-the-art.

Introducing: Mary Cecelia O’Brian

A word or two of explanation: Several friends of mine and I, as well as about 60,000 other people worldwide, are taking “The Future of Storytelling,” a “massive open online course,” or MOOC, through Iversity.org. Our assignment two weeks ago was to develop a character and then put said character somewhere in the world of social media, such as on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or our own blog. Naturally, I’m late…

I couldn’t decide whether to create a whole new character for the exercise or to use a character that I had already developed. In the end, I decided to use Mary Cecelia O’Brian, whom I developed 15+ years ago for the Ghostletters Listserv, which eventually became the Ghostletters Yahoo! group. For lack of a better way to put it, Ghostletters, or “GL” as we called it, was a collaborative fiction writing group, somewhat different from its original charter, “conversations between historical and fictional characters.” It’s going through a revival under its original listowner, Kit Moss; I was its listowner for about ten years, explaining all the gray hair and stomach trouble.

I’d better let Mary Cecelia take it from here… Continue reading “Introducing: Mary Cecelia O’Brian”