music friday: frequently played albums

The question has been asked on Twitter: What 5 albums have you listened to most in your life? Be honest, not trendy. I don't know how to be honest ... I mean, if I ask Last.fm, which has been tracking my Spotify usage for a long time, the album I have listened to the most is Pink's The Truth About Love, which I'm pretty sure doesn't reach the numbers of stuff from the 60s, to begin with. So, keeping all that in mind, here is what I came up with, in no particular order.

Honorable Mention to Children of the Future, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Dirty Mind, Surrealistic Pillow, Beggars Banquet.

Personal note: The White Album was released on November 22, 1968. My then girlfriend/current wife gave it to me for a Xmas present.


cataracts no more

Yesterday, I had cataract surgery on both eyes. If you've ever had this done, you know how I'm feeling right now.

I'm giddy. It's not just that I can see better than I did with contacts/glasses ... it's that I can see BETTER. Colors are far more vivid, distance vision is much improved, there is no more hazy film on everything I look at. It's amazing.

And the procedure wasn't bad, either. I made them give me lots of sedatives, but when they asked halfway if I needed more, I said no, I was having too much fun. The doctor had told me what I saw would be kinda psychedelic ... guess what, he was right! It was like having an old-school light show in my eyes. I'm pretty unknowledgeable about what he did, but they give you enough local anesthetic that you can't feel a thing, and between the bright light shining in your eyes and the accompanying light show, I never once thought "ugh, they're cutting into my eyes".

Whole thing took half-an-hour ... I spent more time in prep than I did in the operating room. The difference was apparent immediately ... as they were wheeling me out of the operating room, I told the nurses, hey, I can see your faces! I've been like that pretty much ever since (closing in on 24 hours now). I can see better than I ever remember ... my vision is now 20/25 in each eye, and I don't think they are done getting better. I need reading glasses ... for 60 years I was nearsighted, now I'm farsighted. It's impressive.

And colorful.


thoughts on kentucky

A few scattered thoughts, the day after the Kentucky Derby, many of which I have written about before. First, a post from 2012:

I’m looking at the will of my great-great-great-great-great grandfather on my mom’s side of the family. John Cralle II died in Virginia in 1757. Some excerpts:

To Thomas Cralle Lamkin, son of Mary Jones, widow and relict of Charles Jones, late of Northumberland County five negoes vixt: Little Ben, Isaac, Peggs Bess, Blacka Top and Aggy. If he should die before he arrives to age or day of marriage, his mother Mary Jones to enjoy two of the said slaves that may be left at his death, she to have her choice during her natural life, then to revert to my children the remaining part

To son William Matthews Cralle nine negroes vizt: Chnce, Cate, and their daughter Bess, Frank, Alice, Stephen, Cate, Dominy, and Edmond.

Mulatto man Will, may be free at my decease.

To son Rodham Kenner Cralle three negroes vizt: Harry, George, and Nanny and my watch.

To daugher Mary Foushee my silver tankard, and negro wench Rose Anna

Rest of my estate both real and personal to be equally divided between five children Kenner, John, Rodham, William, and Mary, except Ben and Matthews whom I give to my son Kenner, son John to have Rachel, Old Ben to make choice of his master among my children.

From "How African-Americans disappeared from the Kentucky Derby", by Katherine Mooney:

When the horses enter the gate for the 145th Kentucky Derby, their jockeys will hail from Venezuela, Florida, Panama and France. None will be African-American. That’s been the norm for quite a while. When Marlon St. Julien rode the Derby in 2000, he became the first black man to get a mount since 1921.

It wasn’t always this way. The Kentucky Derby, in fact, is closely intertwined with black Americans’ struggles for equality, a history I explore in my book on race and thoroughbred racing. In the 19th century – when horse racing was America’s most popular sport – former slaves populated the ranks of jockeys and trainers, and black men won more than half of the first 25 runnings of the Kentucky Derby. But in the 1890s – as Jim Crow laws destroyed gains black people had made since emancipation – they ended up losing their jobs....

Soup Perkins, who won the Kentucky Derby at 15, drank himself to death at 31. The jockey Tom Britton couldn’t find a job and committed suicide by swallowing acid. Albert Isom bought a pistol at a pawnshop and shot himself in the head in front of the clerk.

The history of the Kentucky Derby, then, is also the history of men who were at the forefront of black life in the decades after emancipation – only to pay a terrible price for it.

And finally, an anecdote I have told many times. When my maternal grandmother was alive, she always looked forward to the Kentucky Derby. She was born in Kentucky in 1903, although it appears she had moved to California by the time she was 7 years old. Each year, when they played "My Old Kentucky Home" at the Derby, she would cry. I don't actually remember this happening, but I definitely remember her telling me about it on several occasions. It mattered to her.

Her name, before she later married, was Georgia Catherine Cralle. She was descended from the aforementioned John Cralle II.

As in my earlier mentions, I don't know what to make of all of the above.


jury duty

Been busy around here in a mundane way, which explains the lack of posts. Friday night, my daughter and I went to Fireworks Night at the Giants game. Game lasted 18 innings ... we bolted after 13 so we didn't miss our BART train, got home an hour later and were able to catch the end of the game on TV. Followed, a few minutes later, by the sound of fireworks (we live maybe 10 miles from the park, although on the other side of the Bay). Since then, I've mostly been waiting to see if I would get jury duty, and sure enough, I had to report yesterday morning. Nothing much happened, and they sent us home until today. I returned this morning, and was one of the 18 selected for voir dire. I predicted in advance that I would not be selected, and told my wife I even knew the reason why, although I wouldn't talk about it ... you know how it is, you can't discuss a case and all that.

Well, I'm home now, having been thanked and excused, for what I am sure is the very reason I expected. I'll be vague ... I don't know when you are allowed to talk, but really, the story doesn't need too many details. I usually decide in advance if I want to serve or not ... I have lots of honest answers that can make me seem like a better or worse jury member ... I've been known to pull the old "my dad was an embezzler", and once even said I didn't like cops because one of them gut shot a friend. When I worked in a factory, I liked jury duty, because we got paid full time (thank you, union) and didn't have to go to work. That one lasted six days. I was on one other jury ... I should have been asked to leave, but I kept my mouth shut ... it was a case of one guy getting his face smashed in by another guy in a pickup basketball game, and I couldn't quit wondering why we were wasting our time ... but the second day, they settled, with the puncher agreeing to pay the punchee's dental bills. And I've been excused once.

This time, I was happy to serve, although transportation was a bit of a problem, and in a few hours we're going to see Pink in San Jose and I didn't want that to be a problem. But as I say, I knew I wouldn't be chosen.

You see, this was a civil case involving a wrongful death (apologies if I get the legal terms wrong) where the family of the deceased was suing the landlords of the building where the death occurred. I knew if I said anything about my opinion of landlords, I'd be gone. I wasn't going to volunteer the information ... I wasn't sure how relevant it was, and I felt I could overcome my hatred of landlords if it was necessary to help decide a case. But one of the attorneys asked a general question about people who either were landlords or who had negative experiences with landlords, and I felt I should say something. So I said I hesitated to bring it up, and I meant no disrespect to the landlords sitting in the courtroom, but I don't like landlords, and I've lived in Berkeley for 45+ years, and we make Landlord Hating into a religion.

Sure enough, the lawyers for the landlords used a peremptory challenge to thank me and excuse me.

Next stop, Pink. At one point today, a lawyer asked us if we had any things we were passionate about. I happened to be sitting directly in front of him, so he looked at his chart and asked, "Mr. Rubio?" I said, well, I'm going to see Pink tonight!


cataracts

I'm going to have cataract surgery.

Saw an ophthalmologist today. I can skip most of the details because 1) I don't really understand them, and 2) he dilated my eyes and my computer monitor is still too bright for me to look at for more than a second or two. I know very little about my physical self, and when I looked up cataract surgery, I just wanted to know if I would be put to sleep or not. (The answer is no.) Now I know that the doctor is going to replace a part of my eyes, and when he is done, I not only won't have cataracts any longer but my vision will be changed ... in a good way. I may not need contacts or glasses any more, or I may need glasses but a much weaker prescription. I have worn glasses for more than 50 years, and contacts for almost 40. I've always been extremely near-sighted. The notion that I'll be able to see "normally" was unexpected. And given that, according to my wife, for the last several years I say "I can't see" about ten times a day, the difference should be interesting.

So watch this space. I might even look at it myself, once it quits blinding me with its light.

 


1984 addendum

Should have thought to include this in the TT post:

1984

The captions are a little blurry, so:

  • Upper left, "The withered old prole tells her story."
  • Upper right, "Julia flirts while Winston reads."
  • Middle left, "Winston and Julia are caught together."
  • Middle right, "Big Brother's 'Exiles'."

And in the group photo at the bottom, which is of the acting group from my senior year, you can see a few friends of the blog. That's Robin Smith in the front, second from right. In the back row, sitting next to each other (#5-6 from the left) are the future Dub Debrie, and Tina Sellars who was then Gooch. On Tina's left is Lynette Shaw, later a pioneer in legalizing marijuana and once the Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor of California. I feel like this is not the full picture ... for one thing, I'm not in it.

Also, here's a picture of me getting made up for my role in 1984:

Steven in makeup 1984

A few other mementos I can get to easily ... all from high school, there are no pictures as far as I know of me in junior-high plays. From Inherit the Wind ... that's me as the William Jennings Bryan character.

Inherit the wind

This is from My Three Angels, which was made into the movie We're No Angels on two occasions, 1955 when Aldo Ray played my character, and 1989, which I haven't seen but I think maybe Sean Penn played my part. In the picture, that's me in the middle.

Mythreeangels

[Edited to add this photo from Arsenic and Old Lace ... I played the Boris Karloff character, and am in the back, behind the guy who is in ropes.]

Arsenic and old lace