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.