Category Archives: Arts and Letters

The humanities

Alan King Negotiates a Raise With Howard Hughes

When Jack Entratter sold out to Hughes, I figured my obligation to the Sands was over. Everybody had worked for Jack for less money than they could have got elsewhere because we were a family. I’m not complaining – I was getting $25,000 a week – but I’d been turning down offers of a lot more from other places.

The family was disintegrating anyway. Sinatra had a big fight with one of the Sands’ bosses, a guy by the name of Carl Cohen, and Frank just picked up and moved over to Caesar’s Palace. I got a call in New York in the Middle of the night. “Sinatra walked,” Carl Cohen said. “You gotta get out here and replace him right away.

When I arrived, the Sands was like a war zone, and Howard Hughes had become the invisible man. Still, he knew everything that was going on. Everyone believed all the important rooms in the Sands were bugged, and that Hughes was listening in on everybody.

I’d walk into an empty dressing room and shout, “How are ya, Howard? Alan here.” Wherever I went, I’d talk to Howard. I’d go up to a lamp: “Howard, how you feeling?”

It was a joke that paid off. One night Charlie Turner—a holdover from the Entratter regime who had stayed on at the Sands—came backstage to talk to me. “Alan, I hear you’re not happy here.”
“Charlie,” I said, “I’m not.”
“Okay,” he said, “what will make you happy?
“Money,” I said. And I started screaming at the ceiling. “You hear me, Howard? Money!”

Next day, a couple of Howard’s representatives showed up with a new offer. “We’ll double your salary, we’ll give you fifty thousand a week, nine weeks a year, three three-week engagements.”

The Sands still felt like home, so I said okay. Next day, a well-dressed man – everybody who worked for Hughes looked like an FBI agent – came and handed me a little box. Inside was a pair of cufflinks, exact duplicates of the drill bit Howard’s father had invented, the bit on which the Hughes fortune was built.

It was a badge of honor. After the man left, I sat down at my dressing table, looked into the mirror, and said, “Thank you, Howard!”

I finished out the year.

NAME – DROPPING: The Life and Lies of Alan King
Excellent book. King is a world-class raconteur.

Good rememberence of King here:
independent.co.uk

Kenneth Tynan once wrote, “If a sawn-off shotgun could talk, it would sound like Alan King.” Cigar-wielding master of the angry monologue, and star of over 30 television specials and 16 films, the durable King was revered by his fellow funny men. “Alan King took aggravation to new heights of hilarity,” wrote Bob Monkhouse. “He’s irritated but he doesn’t irritate.” Billy Crystal, who played King’s son in the film Memories of Me (1988), called him “a museum of comedy”.

10 Great Modern Classic Novels

Modern = written since 1980
Classic = will still be read 100 years from date of writing
(Selections mine, blubs via Amazon. I stuck with novels written in English because I don’t know enough lit in translation to judge.)

Flaubert’s Parrot – Julian Barnes, 1984
A kind of detective story, relating a cranky amateur scholar’s search for the truth about Gustave Flaubert, and the obsession of this detective whose life seems to oddly mirror those of Flaubert’s characters.

The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks, 1984
Meet Frank Cauldhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least:
Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I’d disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim.

The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe, 1987
After Tom Wolfe defined the ’60s in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and the cultural U-turn at the turn of the ’80s in The Right Stuff, nobody thought he could ever top himself again. In 1987, when The Bonfire of the Vanities arrived, the literati called Wolfe an “aging enfant terrible.”

The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris, 1988
A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname–Buffalo Bill–is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter–Hannibal the Cannibal–who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989
Here is Kazuo Ishiguro’s profoundly compelling portrait of Stevens, the perfect butler, and of his fading, insular world in post-World War II England.

L.A. Confidential – James Ellroy, 1990
L.A. Confidential is epic “noir”, a crime novel of astonishing detail and scope written by the bestselling author of The Black Dahlia. A horrific mass murder invades the lives of victims and victimizers on both sides of the law. And three lawmen are caught in a deadly spiral, a nightmare that tests loyalty and courage, and offers no mercy, grants no survivors.

Regeneration – Pat Barker, 1991
In 1917 Siegfried Sasson, noted poet and decorated war hero, publicly refused to continue serving as a British officer in World War I. His reason: the war was a senseless slaughter. He was officially classified “mentally unsound” and sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital. There a brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. William Rivers, set about restoring Sassoon’s “sanity” and sending him back to the trenches.

Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin, 1996
Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

The Wishbones – Tom Perrotta, 1997
Everything is going pretty well for Dave Raymond. He’s 31, but he still feels young. He’s playing guitar with the Wishbones, a New Jersey wedding band, and while it isn’t exactly the Big Time, it is music. He has a roof over his head…well, it’s his parents’ roof, but they don’t hassle him much. Life isn’t perfect. But it isn’t bad. Not bad at all. But then he has to blow it all by proposing to his girlfriend.

Pym – Mat Johnson, 2011
Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes has just made a startling discovery: the manuscript of a crude slave narrative that confirms the reality of Edgar Allan Poe’s strange and only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.

Hey Sonny, Where’s Cher? Hey Cher, Where’s Sonny?

Sonny was very easy to work with. True blue, no pretense at all. The only time he got a little prickly was when people would come up and say, “Where’s Cher?” That has to get stale after you’ve been divorced for ten years. In fact, he had his new wife with him, this beautiful young woman, and you could see that he was just so smitten; he was totally attentive to her. Sonny was a bright guy and also a bit of a smart-ass, which I liked. There’s nothing like a smart-ass to give you a laugh.

Debby Harry.
Face It: A Memoir

FRED SCHNEIDER: I went to the awards when Madonna did “Like a Virgin,” and Cher was there. I was excited to meet Cher. But some punk comes up to her and says, “Hey, Cher, where’s Sonny?” And without missing a beat, Cher goes, “He’s home, fucking your mother.” That’s the sort of story you remember.

Tannenbaum, Rob.
I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution

 

The Automat

An automat is a fast food restaurant where simple foods and drinks are served by vending machines. The world’s first automat was named Quisisana, which opened in Berlin, Germany in 1895.

The first automat in the U.S. was opened June 12, 1902, at 818 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia by Horn & Hardart; Horn & Hardart became the most prominent American automat chain.

The automats were popular with a wide variety of patrons, including Walter Winchell, Irving Berlin and other celebrities of the era. The New York automats were popular with unemployed songwriters and actors. Playwright Neil Simon called automats “the Maxim’s of the disenfranchised” in a 1987 article.

Wikipedia

I didn’t have any money to come into the city and go drinking—I was still flopping (in more ways than one) at my parents’ Brooklyn apartment—but I could always lay my hands on a quarter. So one Sunday night I took the subway to Manhattan (a nickel), spent two cents on the Daily News and two cents on the Daily Mirror, and went to Horn & Hardart, the automat where for a dime you could get a roll and the best baked beans that were ever made. Then I headed for Leon and Eddie’s.

Alan King. NAME – DROPPING: The Life and Lies of Alan King

Keith Richards’ 10 Classic Roots and Reggae List

1. Stagolee – Jesse Fuller, 1958
This says something about the way I feel. There is a mixture of music in him: ragtime, blues, folk and country. And he’s a one-man band.

2. When Did You Leave Heaven – Big Bill Broonzy, 1951
He was the best-known American blues player in England in the Fifties. There’s footage of him singing that song, in a barroom in Belgium or something. Check it out.

3. It Hurts Me too – Elmore James, 1957
Brian Jones introduced me to Elmore. His voice is so compelling, and that seemingly effortless slide playing was unusual. What struck me was how Elmore James looked a bit like a school teacher, very respectable.

4. Blues Hangover – Slim Harpo, 1960
The sheer swampiness of this – it had the be here, especially because he puts the whole band through a hangover at the same time.

5. Key to the Highway – Little Walter, 1958
It’s the sheer sound, the way the band is right behind Walter. It’s the best version of the song ever.

6. Piece of My Heart – Erma Franklin, 1967
Janis Joplin did a good job covering this. But Erma’s got the stuff. She was Aretha’s sister. Erma is rougher. Aretha’s voice was more pure.

7. In a Dis Ya Time – The Itals, 1998
The Itals are in reggae’s harmony tradition. It is the pinnacle of how reggae can sound.

8. Innocent People Cry – Gregory Isaacs, 1974
Isaacs has written some incredible songs. It took me months to find this in Jamaica. I was asking around for “Chookie No Lookie” [the chorus]. Everybody’s giving me a blank stare. Thein it was, “Oh, you mean ‘Innocent People Cry’. How did he come up with that title?

9. Memphis, Tennessee – Chuck Berry, 1958
I think he’s playing everything except the drums and a little piano. There is something about the way the guitars mesh together. I have to doff the old hat. The greatest.

10. 32-20 – Robert Johnson, 1936
Hey, it’s about guns.

“When you’re asked to do these sorts of lists, you don’t want to come up with the obvious stuff. We know the classics. We’ve seen thousands of those lists. I was trying to think of stuff that’s slipped between the cracks. This list is a mixture, some of the essences that appeal to me. I look at this and think, ‘That’s a pretty good list. I can live with it.'”

Keith Richards
The Playlist Issue
Rolling Stone, December 9, 2010

See also, Mick Jagger’s 10 Classic Blues Playlist – Now With Notes

What is a truth you don’t like accepting about yourself?

What is a truth you don’t like accepting about yourself? from AskReddit

NotDepressed1224
I either think too high of myself or not enough of myself, there is no in between

kaazgranaat2309
Im lazy and have no dicipline

squashishous
I can naturally be mean if I don’t think carefully before I speak

ollieliotd
I’m paralyzed with indecision and feel like I keep making panic moves.

3VD
I don’t treat my body well and I have a lot of crutches that will impact me later in life.

PlumbusFungus
I can get emotional over stupid things. I try not to and I recognize it happening but feel out of control over it

No_Web_9121
I am not special or more talented than anyone else, I am literally more or less average. I guess its not bad, I don’t hate it, but doesn’t mean i like it

The New York Public Library’s Books of the Century (20th century)

The following is a complete list of the titles included in the exhibition Books of the Century at The New York Public Library’s Center for the Humanities, May 20, 1995-July 13, 1996, and in The New York Public Library’s Books of the Century, published by Oxford University Press. Continue reading The New York Public Library’s Books of the Century (20th century)

Rock and Roll Dream – Onstage with Kiss

Countdown. Then the shove and I’m on stage, moving like I’m unremotely controlled. Forgetting completely that I ‘m in front of 5,000 people participating as one fifth of this sadistic cheerleading squad, bobbing and gyrating in instinctively, I no longer hear the music, just a noise and a beat. On cue I strut over to Simmons’ mike and lean into it and sing. Singing loud without hearing myself, oblivious to everything but those four other beings onstage. Gene whispers for me to “shake it” and I loosen up a little more, until I feel like a Vegas showgirl going to a go go. Suddenly it strikes me: I like this. And I venture a look at the crowd, that clamoring, hungry throng of bodies below me. All I can think at that moment is how much all those kids resemble an unleashed pit of snakes, their outstretched arms bobbin and nodding, as if charmed by the music. I wonder if they will pick up on the hoax? But they keep screaming and cheering, so I might just as well be Peter Criss, unleashed from his drum kit, as anyone.

“I Dreamed I Was Onstage with KISS in my Maidenform Bra”
Jaan Uhelszki
Creem, August 1975

Teaching Indifference – Lesson of Bells

The third lesson I teach is indifference. I teach children not to care too much about anything, even though they want to make it appear that they do. How I do this is very subtle. I do it by demanding that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor. It’s heartwarming when they do that; it impresses everyone, even me. When I’m at my best I plan lessons very carefully in order to produce this show of enthusiasm. But when the bell rings I insist they drop whatever it is we have been doing and proceed quickly to the next work station. They must turn on and off like a light switch. Nothing important is ever finished in my class nor in any class I know of. Students never have a complete experience except on the installment plan.

Indeed, the lesson of bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything? Years of bells will condition all but the strongest to a world that can no longer offer important work to do. Bells are the secret logic of school time; their logic is inexorable. Bells destroy the past and future, rendering every interval the same as any other, as the abstraction of a map renders every living mountain and river the same, even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.

Gatto, John Taylor. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling 

Amazon Review Translation Example

4.0 out of 5 stars Bon roman
Bon roman qui est écrit de manière simple.
La lecture se fait d’un trait.
On est plongé progressivement dasn la descente de Travis.

4.0 out of 5 stars Good novel
Good novel that is written in a simple way.
Reading is done with one stroke.
We are gradually immersed in Travis’s descent.

* I think this is automated translation. Could be wrong.
From this page: Taxi Driver by Richard Elman. (Looks like a novelization of the movie Taxi Driver. I’d check it out but dig those prices!)

I Can’t Hear the Dialogue So I Use Captions

Mathew Price is a production sound mixer who has worked on The Sopranos and The Marvellous Mrs Maisel. “When they take the sound we record on set and kind of undermix it, it feels like, ‘What did we try so hard for?’” he says. Price believes the problem is partly that modern directors have so many more tracks to play with, causing “track overload”, the result being that “the dialogue gets short shrift a lot of the time”. When he watches films or TV shows at home, he turns on the subtitles in case of clarity issues – he is far from the only one – and will limit the TV’s dynamic range.(In cinemas the dynamic range – the range between the loudest and quietest sounds – is wider than on home TV screens, and, although the sound is compressed in the transition to TV, the range can still be so wide that you are forced to turn up the volume for dialogue, then down again for action.)

Ralph Jones
The Guardian

Funkadelic – (Not Just) Knee Deep

The song has been heavily sampled by many artists. Hip hop group De La Soul sampled the intro to the song in their hit “Me Myself and I“, which reached #34 on the Billboard Pop Charts and #1 on the R&B Charts.

Also LL Cool J (“Nitro”), Everlast (“Never Missin A Beat”), Tone Lōc (“Funky Cold Medina“), MC Hammer & Deion Sanders (“Straight to My Feet”), The rap group Mass 187 (“Swang Your Hips)”, G-Funk Intro & his unreleased track “Do U Remember”. Tha Dogg Pound used the sample in their unreleased track “Can’t C Us”. Geto Boys sampled the intro for “Homie Don’t Play That”. The Black Eyed Peas also used the beat behind it to remix their hit single “Shut Up“. X Clan sampled the song in “Funkin’ Lesson”. It was also interpolated in the song “Get Away” by Bobby Brown. In 2014, it was sampled in Jessie J‘s “Seal Me with a Kiss”.

EPMD sampled it in their song “Gold Digger”, and Digital Underground used it in two of their songs, “Kiss You Back” and “Bran Nu Swetta”.

Rapper Tupac Shakur sampled the song for his “Intro/Bomb First (My Second Reply)” and his Dr. Dre produced track “Can’t C Me”.

In 1997, Vanessa Williams sampled “Knee Deep” for her song “Happiness“.

Dr. Dre’s song, “Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)“, is based on “Knee Deep”.

South Korean girl band Mamamoo song “Um Oh Ah Yeh” from their third mini-album Pink Funky was influenced from it.

Wikipedia

Hot Mic Stories – Education in the Time of Covid

Students/Teachers of Reddit, what’s the best ‘forgot to turn off the mic’ story during virtual learning? from r/AskReddit

Odd_Camera_9588
Ironically my IT teacher forgot to turn of his mic and camera and proceeded to get in a very heated argument on the phone with his ex-girlfriend who he has a kid with. Did I mention that she’s also a teacher at our school? Yeah most awkward 5 minutes of my life before he realised

WorldTheAround
Any entertaining details from the argument?

Odd_Camera_9588
Not really from the actual argument, just a lot of swearing, but when he realised she said ‘great, you can’t even do the job you’re barely qualified to do in the first place’

Unknown_user_12
Well, it happened in one of the classes.

The teacher was going through a rough time and the class could feel it. We assured her that we had done our homework and that she could take rest for the time being. She agreed and told she would switch her mic off and sleep for a while, as we did whatever.

Her husband was right beside her and the mic wasn’t turned off. She told, ” I am so lucky to have these students” and started sobbing to her husband. We all heard this, but kept quiet to prevent her being embarrassed.

She slept well during that time and we sent her a thank you gift collectively.

bingbong1234
I was producing a video for some university professors on a specific medical thing for a virtual learning course. I was all set up to shoot the process, and the teachers excused themselves to the next office to regroup and have a chat. I already had their wireless lav mics attached and fed to my camera, so when I sat down at the camera and put on my headphones I immediately heard their conversation – they were criticizing me, saying they couldn’t believe they hired someone so young, inexperienced in that particular medical field, how I looked, how I asked questions, etc… Oops! At least I made them a fine video. These days I don’t put my headphones on until we’re about to shoot.

Large_Dr_Pepper  
One of my professors classes had a student say something like “I just joined 5 minutes before class and this asshole is already teaching.”

The professor just laughed and told him his mic was on.

The 50 Quintessential New York Albums – Village Voice List

Quintessential – representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.

https://www.villagevoice.com/2014/02/18/the-50-most-nyc-albums-ever/
VILLAGE VOICE STAFF
FEBRUARY 18, 2014

For the past week we’ve been locked in the torch of the Statue of Liberty, subsisting on nothing but Russ & Daughters’ lox, listening to the best records about, by, and for New York City through headphones endorsed by Lou Reed. Our mission: to come up with a list of the 50 Most NYC Albums Ever; albums born of the five boroughs that best capture what it’s like to live, love, struggle, and exist in the sprawling, unforgiving, culturally dense metropolis we pay too much to call home. The albums we finally agreed upon capture everything from the unaffected cool of the Lower East Side to the horn-spiked salsa of Spanish Harlem and much more. So let’s get to it. Here, now, the 50 most quintessential New York records. Apologies in advance for The Muppets Take Manhattan not making the cut.

50. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003) The Yeah Yeah Yeahs might not be the hipster band du jour anymore, but Fever to Tell is still a perfect downtown New York record, gritty and artsy and stylish.

49. Jay Z – The Blueprint (2001) Jay-Z famously mocked Nas for having a “one hot album every 10-year average.” And yet Jay himself has only reached the height of his potential three times in a nearly 30-year career.

48. Jim Carroll – Catholic Boy (1980) With his New York drug-drawl and angel-headed hipster-hustler lyrics, poet-turned-musician Jim Carroll spoke-sang with an urgency that belied his drug of choice.

Continue reading The 50 Quintessential New York Albums – Village Voice List

STAR / S.T.A.R Storytelling Format

The situation, task, action, result (STAR) format is a technique used by interviewers to gather all the relevant information about a specific capability that the job requires.

Situation: The interviewer wants you to present a recent challenging situation in which you found yourself.

Task: What were you required to achieve? The interviewer will be looking to see what you were trying to achieve from the situation. Some performance development methods use “Target” rather than “Task”. Job interview candidates who describe a “Target” they set themselves instead of an externally imposed “Task” emphasize their own intrinsic motivation to perform and to develop their performance.

Action: What did you do? The interviewer will be looking for information on what you did, why you did it and what the alternatives were.

Results: What was the outcome of your actions? What did you achieve through your actions and did you meet your objectives? What did you learn from this experience and have you used this learning since?

Here’s some interview questions you can try this with:
Tell me about a time you showed leadership.
Tell me about a time you were successful on a team.
Tell me about something you’ve accomplished that you are proud of.
Tell me about a time you had to manage conflicting priorities.
Tell me about a time you failed or made a mistake.
Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult person.
Tell me about a time you had to persuade someone.
Tell me about a time you disagreed with someone.
Tell me about a time you created a goal and achieved it.
Tell me about a time you surpassed people’s expectations.
Tell me about a time you had to handle pressure.
Tell me about a time you had to learn something quickly.

Wikipedia