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 I suspect that nearly a day after the death of Muhammad Ali, I could add anything that hasn't been said and said better by everyone from Pres. Obama on down.

So I will just note that he was one of those people who was always part of the landscape for me, who was still fighting when I was a kid, who was always on TV and kidding with Howard Cosell and showing up in cartoons and being, well, Ali.  He was the most famous man alive for a time, and he earned that.  He was part of a sport I want to see fade away, he was part of controversies I think I would have not been happy with had I been alive in 1967, and he was still someone I respect and even admire.  The world is a sadder place today but we are better having had him to challenge us and thrill us and inspire us.
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Or tell someone you know with PR experience that there is an opening in the communications office of the Jewish Museum.
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 Greetings from the con suite.  Been having a blast in the LARP as usual.  The filk room was more packed than any I have ever seen at a gencon.  Everything is amazing. 

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Darwyn Cooke, comic book writer and artist, died today at the too-young age of 53 from cancer.  He was, by my reckoning, a special and amazing talent who loved what he did and had a gift for faces, layouts, and retro design.  He did the opening montage for Batman Beyond, and spent years working with Bruce Timm on Batman: The Animated Series.  He then made the jump to comics, where he wrote and drew the wonderful Spirit comic, helped redefine Catwoman, and gave us one of the few worthwhile Before Watchmen stories.  And his adaptations of four of Richard Stark's Parker novels were incredible.  No artist was better at capturing the past in all its glory.

I didn't love everything he wrote, but when he was doing the art, even the lesser stories were full of magic, style, and a love of the craft.  He was slated to help with a new series from DC bringing together the classic action heroes of Hanna Barbera, but that is now not to be.  It would have been wonderful.

Rest well, Darwyn, and thanks for everything. 
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A few things on this Friday.

1. Passover begins tonight.  As we are having a nice crowd for seder, I am quite looking forward to it.  If you celebrate, may I wish you a happy and kosher holiday!  And happy Earth Day to the rest of you.

2. I was not the biggest Prince fan, but his place in music history and pop culture was huge and he will be missed.  Where did I know him best from?  Batman '89.  Specially, this scene.  It was a great combination of actor, music and moment, and even if Prince's Batman-inspired album was not great, this song was.  RIP, sir.

3. Wanted to let the world - or at least the world that reads this - know that we will be at Balticon on Memorial Day weekend and then Conterpoint on July 4th weekend.  The former has become one of my favorite cons, and I will once again be joining the 2-day long LARP, this time with a Star Wars theme and me as some sort of pirate!  And the latter is of course the Northeast Floating Filkcon and always fun.
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And what a fun time it was. Spent two days seeing a bit of the city with [personal profile] ladymondegreen as our tour guide, with trips to Casa Loma and the Royal Ontario Museum and a bit of walking about the Yonge-Eglinton neighborhood, where we stayed.  Had some interesting chats with a barista who was curious about filk and a cabbie with classical training as an actor in NYC.

Then it was on to FilkOntario, which was just a lot of fun and generally relaxing.  Batya's Interfilk concert was amazing, Mark Bernstein's Filk Hall of Fame acceptance speech was moving (and his concert was great), and the music was up to its usual standards.  Special shout-outs to Leslie Hudson and the Faithful Sidekicks. I don't know when we will get back to FKO again, since most years it's too close to Passover, but I hope we can manage it again someday.  It was great to see familiar faces as always and great to start making new friends.

Insight of the weekend: filk fandom is slow to buy its albums digitally.  But the performers are fine with that.  In fact, it's cheaper for them and easier.  So if you there is a filk album you like and it's available online, buy it that way.  

And now on towards Passover!!

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Just wanted to say hi from FilkOntario, where Batya is Interfilk guest and the money is plastic. Hope all is well out there.
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The Jewish Museum (aka my employer) is looking to fill two posts in its digital marketing office. One is very much a social media and web programming post, the other is more about organizing our many digital assets. Feel free to apply or to circulate to anyone you know who would be a good match.

Digital Asset Manager

Digital Marketing Associate
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1. Russ & Daughters at the Jewish Museum is now open!! And it's kosher!!

2. The Purim Ball was last night, and it was actually sort of fun. Here is proof.
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So for years, we have taken the risk of traveling in the winter. To cons across the country and in the UK, to various events with friends and family. Till now, it usually worked out fine. This weekend, our luck ran out, though not too terribly.

The event was the bar mitzvah of Batya's sister number two son. Which meant going to Rochester, NY. In good conditions, the flight is less than an hour. But the weather conspired in interesting ways. Going, there were high winds at LaGuardia. High enough that at 6 pm, we had already been informed that our flight was delayed from 9:40 to midnight. So the good news was we weren't sitting at LGA for an extra three hours. The bad news was still that our flight was really delayed. And then delayed again and again till it didn't leave till 12:50. So late that there was no way anyone at the house we've be staying at would be awake to let us in.

We - "we" being my mom as well as Batya and me - decided to get a hotel room at the airport instead. At least we managed some sleep. (Thankfully, the hotel is literally a two minute walk from the baggage claim.) It was a hassle, and we still didn't get a lot of rest, but it beat having someone at Batya's sister's house let us in at 3 am, followed by us crashing on insufficient couches.

Today - after a weekend that saw the temps drop to 12 below in Rochester - we had a 1:40 flight. That was delayed two hours in leaving because the plane needed some serious de-icing at LaGuardia. And that was then delayed another hour by the same weather conditions in New York and also another de-icing.

Total amount of time delayed going and coming back: close to seven hours, plus an unscheduled night at a hotel. All things considered, it could have been worse, since if our flight home had been cancelled, we could have been stuck in Rochester till Wednesday (due to a snowstorm there). But all these delays are tiring, and stressful, and remind me why I prefer the train.

PS: the bar mitzvah came off fine, though as ever there is no stress quite like that of having a lot of family in one place.
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I think it's snowing. Hard to tell with all that white stuff blocking my view of the street.

Fortunately, I don't have anywhere to be but home. Which is good since I can't actually get anywhere.

Interestingly, the Mets are apparently about to spend a lot of money on a free agent. That it's being done during a massive blizzard is just a coincidence. I mean, Hell hasn't actually frozen over, right?
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So as I am typing this, Tim Peake, the first Briton to join the ESA astronaut corps, is doing a spacewalk at the space station. Before he joined the ESA, he was in the British Army Air Corps. His rank when he went on reserve? Major.

In other words, he could have easily said:

This is Major Tim to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door

Cool, in more than a few ways.
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No doubt you have heard of the passing of Alan Rickman. There is little I can add that hasn't been said already by his colleagues from Daniel Radcliffe to Kevin Smith. My favorite Rickman part? Sir Alexander Dane aka Dr. Lazarus in Galaxy Quest. Not that he wasn't always great, but he brought so much of his own experience as a stage actor who made the leap the screen with him in Galaxy Quest.

But you might have missed another actor passing on. Brian Bedford died at the age of 80. Theater aficionados would have known him his appearances at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Or his many roles on Broadway, most recently as the aunt in "The Importance of Being Earnest." But I suspect most of you would know him specifically as Robin Hood. Or rather, as the voice of Robin Hood in the beloved Disney animated film from the 70s.

So thus it is a sad day for fans of various versions of the Robin Hood tale. I wonder if anyone made a fanvid splicing together Bedford's Robin and Rickman's Sheriff.
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Planet Earth is blue.

Farewell to a pop culture icon, rock star, actor, and legend.
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First off, Happy New Year!

So there’s been a good deal of pop culture content in my life this month. Here is a lot of it:

Read more... )
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Even when things are rough, for individuals or for communities, there are always things to be thankful for. Family and friends, fandoms and fics, big things and little. I know what I am thankful for, and hope that you have the chance to give thanks in your own way as well.

One thing I am thankful for is "Alice's Restaurant," Arlo Guthrie's famous story-song. Turns out that the event that inspired the song, at the real Alice's Restaurant, happened fifty years ago today. To mark the anniversary, PBS will be showing a special concert from Arlo tonight. But at noon, I plan to do the more traditional thing and listen to the original. Glad that Arlo is still with us, especially given how young his dad was when he died. Glad he's still having it come around on the guitar.
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In a few days I will be able to look back over the whole season and appreciate it as something great.

But today, I am just not there yet. The losses in the Series? Ow, ow, ow, and ow. I will need time to stop feeling the pain.

Congrats to the Royals. They earned it.
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So it's a Sunday in November. The leaves are turning, the days are shorter, and for most of my life, if I were home, there would be a football game on TV. In fact, there is a humdinger of a game going on right between the Giants and the Saints. I am following it. But I am not watching it.

I am not watching because I decided football is a terrible thing. A terrible thing that I have loved for most of my life, a terrible thing I still pay attention to, but a terrible thing nonetheless. It is a violent sport that makes billions off people trying to hurt each other, and that most likely condemns many who play it to brain damage sooner or later. That so many people watch it every week and don't seem to be bothered by this, that bothers me. That so many people are betting on what individual players are doing as if they are little more than commodities, bothers me. That the people running the sport continue to insist that there is a safe way to play the sport when it seems more and more clear that is a lie, bothers me.

So last fall, I stopped watching. There have been a few times I have ended up someplace where a game is on, and I look at the TV and find myself missing it. But I have not made the conscious choice to watch. I will admit what got me to stop watching was the spate of abuse cases involving football players, but the momentary outrage faded and I began to rethink the whole sport, at all levels. I have not reached the point where I don't care. It might be impossible to be a sports fan in America and not have to sift through tons of football talk and news, so as long as I follow baseball or basketball or any other sport, I probably can't divorce myself entirely. But the TV stays off.

The funny thing is that every time I have told someone this, they have looked at my like I grew a new head. Every time. And not just from people who like the sport. To dismiss football is, I don't know, un-American. But still I refuse to watch. And feel lonely. Ratings are up. Every time there is a new scandal, every time there is a new report about concussions, every time there is something that offends me, the ratings go up. And I keep wondering what is wrong with us.

I am not trying to start a crusade. In the grand scheme of things, this is pretty unimportant. But at the same time, I am sticking with it. And telling people why I have stopped watching. And why I hope someday not to care about it at all.

It would be nice, however, if just once someone told me that I was making sense. I am used to being on the wrong side in a political debate. Even so, I am not used to just how lonely it is.
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If you told me in March the Mets would be in the World Series, I would have smiled, and then moved on. I figured they would have a good season, and maybe contend for Wild Card spot, nothing more.

If you told me in July, I would have scoffed. This team wasn't good enough to make the playoffs at all.

If you told me last week, I would have said it was possible, since I was wrong about the Mets not being good enough. But I would have said the Cubs were better. And certainly the Mets wouldn't sweep them.

Sometimes, it's good to be wrong.

The Mets, after years of futility, are in the World Series. And I think I might finally think that there is nothing they can't do.

Bring on the AL! Next stop? Kansas City. Or Toronto.

My Fandoms

Oct. 16th, 2015 05:14 am
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On Flash, they introduced Jay Garrick and the concept of Earth-2.

The Mets won last night and moved in the championship series.

My fandoms are having a good week.
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Yes, there will be Housefilk next Sunday afternoon, October 18 from 3 to 7 pm. Aaron Davies will our host. Address is:

100 Christopher Columbus Dr., Jersey City, NJ 07302 (right next to the Grove St. PATH Station; exit from the middle of the platform and go up the escalator)

Once in the building, take the elevator to the seventh floor and go through the door between the two pairs of elevators; turn right and the room is on your right, just past the kitchen.

RSVP by replying to this post or emailing

Hope to see you then!
sdelmonte: (Take Me Out to the Ballgame)
Two months ago, the Mets had the worst week. One of their pitchers was suspended for PEDs for the second time this season. A player found out he was being traded when he was given an unexpected standing ovation from fans who were following trade rumors on their phones. And he started to cry, which really confused the manager, who didn't know about the trade. Which then fell through. The next day, the Mets endured an 9th inning that consisted of two outs, a long rain delay, three runs from the other team, and a longer rain delay. What was a sure win turned into a terrible loss.

I think a lot of us were ready to give up on the Mets for season that night.

The next day, they made a great trade. And then the player who was crying, Wilmer Flores, hit a game winning homer against the team that was in first place at the time. Two days later, the Mets were tied for first. Two days after that, the Mets were alone in first and that has been the case ever since.

Today, after nine years of sometimes good and sometimes hideous baseball, the Mets clinched their first trip to the playoffs since 2006. After all they've been through, injury and controversy and distraction and dashed hopes, this feels really good. After that one terrible, horrible day in July, winning feels amazing.

On to the playoffs!!
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Saddened to learn of the passing of baseball legend Yogi Berra. Berra was of course manager of the Mets when they stunned the NL by almost winning the World Series in 1973. And won a World Series ring in 1969 as a coach with the team. I believe he was also associated with some other team in NYC.

But what he will be most remembered for is his utterly charming but bewildering use of the English language. He was either a great sage or, well, Yogi Berra.

He will be missed by all, Mets fans and Yankees fans and New Yorkers all.

Shana Tova

Sep. 13th, 2015 05:07 pm
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And so, the Jewish calendar rolls over from 5775 to 5776. And Rosh Hashanah arrives. I wish all of you, celebrating the New Year or not, a good and happy and sweet year to come. May the new year and its blessings arrive.
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