Lancelot has died: Robert Goulet, 1933-2007

Robert GouletYou have to understand something about my family, to know why I care that Robert Goulet ((Here is his Wikipedia entry, and his official site.)) has died. Besides being that rare performer that is comfortable making fun of himself ((While he appeared in several comedies, including an episode of The Simpsons, this Emerald Nuts SuperBowl commercial is my favorite.)) (a quality that endeared him to today’s youthful generation), Goulet portrayed Lancelot in the Broadway production of the musical Camelot, alongside Richard Burton and Julie Andrews.

My mother had the record of the original Broadway cast when I was growing up. When I was old enough to put records on by myself, I used to rotate Camelot with a Spider-Man record I had, and a record about Sparky the talking piano/train? My memory is fuzzy on that last. But I spent the next two decades immersing myself in all things Arthurian. My mother had a lot to do with that, and it’s been a bond between us forever. We even made an Arthurian heraldry quilt together.

I’m not quite suggesting that Robert Goulet is responsible for the man I turned out to be, but thinking about him now makes me remember all those parts of my life that were affected by the Arthurian legends. As a kid I drew a lot of swords and sorcery stuff, I played Dungeons and Dragons, I read a ton of fantasy novels (not the least of which was Le Morte d’Artur, but most more along the lines of The Lord of the Rings), I was, in short, that kid in high school.

I found out this morning that my wife shares some of the nostalgia I felt on hearing of Goulet’s death. Turns out, her mother had the Camelot record, and she, too, listened to it as a kid.

In honor of Mr. Goulet’s influence (however small) on my life, I went and bought the Camelot soundtrack on iTunes this morning, and I have been listening to it this morning. Turns out I miss musical theater.

Siracusa is like the best eggnog

I have just finished reading John Siracusa’s review of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5, a.k.a. Leopard. It came out… last night, I guess, and there have been links to it all over the Internet all day. It was, as is usual for his reviews of the Apple OS, excellent. Detailed, opinionated, funny, sensible, long, filled with screenshots and movies (and, happily, a drop down table of contents to skip some of the more… esoteric, stuff).

I waited all day to read it, until I had gotten some tasks done, and until I had some moments guaranteed to myself to savor it. I feel about his reviews like this: at the grocery store last weekend, I saw that the eggnog has been rolled out in the milk aisle. I love eggnog, especially a (local?) variety called Milknog. When I buy it (and I haven’t yet) I will leave it in the fridge all day, waiting until my tasks are done, until I have a moment to savor it fully. Because there is so much fat in this stuff that you can’t have too much of it.

John Siracusa is like eggnog to me. I anticipate it, and the savoring is better the longer I have waited.

If you have any interest in the Mac OS, you owe it to yourself to read his review. His passion is the passion of the Mac user, and his annoyances, his delights, those are, too. Feel free to skip around.

Am I the only guy without IMAP Gmail?

I must be. I have spent the last four days (at great risk to my marriage) constantly refreshing my Gmail account, then singing out and signing back in, because someone, somewhere, posted that you might have to do that, then signing out, clearing my browser’s cache, and signing back in, because someone else said you might have to do that, and each and every time, all I get in Gmail’s Settings is:

Forwarding and POP

I’m starting to hate kittens.

The Kansas Jayhawks are 8-0 for the first time since 1909

This has been a great year to be me, sportswise. Of course, I’m going to curse it all now, but it may be that everyone needs a little humbling, right? (Nevertheless, I’m knocking on all the wood I can find.)

I’m not what you would call a sports fan. I like the competition, I like rooting for a team and seeing them win. I grew up overseas, and I remember a Mundial between Argentina and Germany. As it became increasingly clear that the Germans were handing it to the Argentines, I got so upset I took my bike out and rode around the neighborhood. It was crushing, and I was… twelve, probably. [And on doing research, I can’t find a game I would have watched between Argentina and Germany that Argentina lost… so, so much for memory. Ed.] I used to watch some soccer, some basketball, but I was never a stats-tracking, game-going, fan.

Then i came to the US, and went to college in Rhode Island (a state that calls Boston teams home), and was steeped in New England sports. So I have been (and most certainly am today) a Boston sports fan. Watching the Patriots play undefeated football has been fun all season. Not that I get many of the games here, but some make it through. It is doubly fun because we were in Minnesota for the year of Randy Moss’ breakout, and it is good to see him back. Watching the Red Sox last night was lots of fun, too, especially when it looked like the Rockies were going to spoil it. I used to watch a lot of baseball (and even attended some Pawsox game during college), and I have enjoyed the playoffs this year.

But I live in Kansas now, and watching the undefeated Kansas Jayhawks (KU’s college football team) play football has been a blast. They played a powder-puff non-conference schedule, but in the last three weeks have played tough road games and still won. Last year, our first college football season in Kansas, the team lost a large number of games in the last quarter. This year, they are putting those games away. It actually reminds me a lot of the years we spent in Iowa, when Kirk Ferentz was just getting the Iowa football program back on its feet. Watching this little team that could was great. The wife and I have fond memories of weekends spent working on the house, or in the yard, with the game on the radio. And we’re building that here, too.

[A note of condolence for the Iowa football fans this year… sorry about your season.]

And, of course, we have college basketball to look forward to, starting this next week! Would it be greedy to hope for their success, too?

Where are the protest songs?

We’re doing our morning chores when Washington Bullets by The Clash comes on the iTunes mix, and after about half the song, my wife (who did not bring The Clash to our marriage) asks from the other room, “Is this the Clash?”

Inimitable. But it made me wonder, for the umpteenth time in the last four years, where are all the protest songs? What happened to music as a political outlet? And don’t give me John Mayer. That song could have been so much more than it was. Poking sly fun at your own fan base is one thing, testifying against your irresponsible government is another. I want the latter.

Maybe we just don’t hear it on today’s radio. Which is a whole ‘nother rant.

Melinda Gordon needs better cell phone service

We’re sitting here watching our second episode of Ghost Whisperer of the night, and Melinda just checked her cell phone and found the dreaded “No Service” message. That makes two perilous situations in a row where her cell phone company has failed her. You’d think they’d get more towers in Grandview.

In other news, I may watch too much TV.

Somebody write an article about foul ball catching fans, please

Top of the fourth inning in the World Series. Beckett pitches to Atkins, and he fouls it down the third base line. The ball lands in the stands, and is caught by a guy in a red hoodie, who then holds it up over his head, and all the folks in that section dutifully clap for him.

And it makes me think. People who sit in foul territory probably get to catch (or the opportunity to catch) more balls than people sitting in home run territory. But the balls are less prestigious, of course. There must be an interesting subculture there, the sort of thing Ira Glass would cover.

I’d like to read/listen to that story. Someone?

Dutch join laminating revolution

Dutch Drivers LicenseWhile doing research for another project of mine, I came across a web page at the site of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management in the Netherlands ((Known locally as the Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat which actually seems to translate to Ministry of Movement and Water State, leaving Public Works… not sure where.)), that was advising its citizens about the brand new credit card sized driving license that was now available. The date was October 1, 2006. The site also touts how this new fangled convenience can be used as an ID card, too, but warns that it will take at least five days to get the card once you order it.

Apparently they previously had large, folded up documents. Similar to what you had to show the officials in World War II movies when they asked to see your “papers.” And yet, the page has an RSS feed.

They conveniently provide the page in English if you prefer (I did) but the translation could use a tweak. In the section where they discuss using your license as ID, they mention that it has no nationality identifier, and so your employer will still need your passport to register you “for employee insurance schemes.” Available options: pyramid, ponzi, and dastardly.

[Yes, I know the British use scheme in this other way, and that the Dutch translation was probably done by someone familiar with the Queen’s English, but I still found it amusing.]

Are Apple’s recent actions a sign of their decline?

Apple has recently made a number of reversals. The iPhone price change. The iTunes Plus (DRM-free) price drop. The iPhone SDK announcement (after strongly implying that there would not be third-party apps on the iPhone).

So, answer me this. Are these decisions indicative of a company that is reacting swiftly to market changes, or signs that the company is no longer able to forecast the market as well as they were once able? Are they nimble, or stumbling?

What do you think?

And the Nobel goes to…

It is nice that Al Gore got the Nobel Peace Prize. And the thousand or more scientists who contributed to the UN reports. Though you have to feel sorry for perennial Nobel Peace Bridesmaid Juan Carlos II. If those ETA people would just have stayed gone, he might have had a chance, but now it’s about ten years too late.