Category Archives: Blog / Personal Business

Ten Creepy! Scary! Shocking! LOL! Horror Film Moments: “Night of the Living Dead” (VII)

One more for today: The seventh installment in my “cinematic moments” series, “Ten Creepy! Scary! Shocking! LOL! Horror Film Moments”, is from the low-budget George Romero 1968 black-and-white classic that gave new life to the zombie genre: “Night of the Living Dead.” From the opening scene, where Johnny tries to scare his sister in a cemetery with the line, “They’re coming to get you Barbara”, the die—no pun intended—has been cast. Check out the scene where the dead rise, and we’re not talkin’ Lazarus!

Taking out the Trash on Social Media

At one point, only a couple of months ago, I was nearing 5000 Facebook “friends”, whom I was adding throughout the years without giving much thought to it. But the increasing toxicity over the last few years has been palpable. It led me to “trim” my FB “friend” list by over 4000 people.* I’ve even invited some folks to unfriend me if they didn’t like what I had to say, and lo and behold, my wish was granted! THANK GOODNESS! I have had it with the toxicity and the nastiness in social media. I’ve seen it up close and personal for all too many years. Life is too short.

Taking out the trash …

___
* And for the record, I still have over 940 FB “friends”. We don’t all agree! But there is a difference between having a disagreement and being disagreeable. (Actually, it’s now below 940… so clearly, the approach is working!)

But more importantly, it’s not just about taking toxicity out of the airspace; at root, it’s about self-care, indeed. Nobody should have to devote one moment of their time to something that is as corrosive as that kind of interaction. It erodes us and it diminishes us. All the more reason to take the intiative and do what’s right for yourself.

Happy Anniversary, Bro and Wan!

Just wanted to give a shout-out to my brother, Carl Barry and my sister-in-law, Joanne Barry—they are children of the stage, after all, as wonderful jazz musicians—for a Happy Anniversary. Yes, I call my brother “Bro” and my sister-in-law “Wan”, and it’s their $#-th wedding anniversary, and I would have put up this as a “Song of the Day”, except I did so on this date back in 2005! “Do you remember the 21st night of September?” I sure do! Many more happy and healthy returns, with much love, always!

September” also happens to be one of my all-time favorite Earth, Wind & Fire hits, with a wonderful lead vocal by the late, great Maurice White. Below is the group performing the song, but also check out an all-star performance of it at the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors [YouTube link].

Facebook: Trust, but Verify!

Earlier today, I was invited by Facebook to complete a process of authentication that would secure my profile with a “verified badge,” such that people who read my posts on my Timeline can trust that the words come from me! A check mark now appears to the right of my name on my profile page and to the right of my name anywhere that I make a comment. Hovering over that check mark, you’ll see that “Facebook confirmed that this is the authentic profile for this public figure.” Public figure! Wow!

As Facebook explains:

The verified badge appears next to a Facebook Page or profile. It means Facebook has confirmed that the Page or profile is the authentic presence of the public figure or global brand it represents. We don’t use the verified badge to endorse or recognize public figures or brands. The verified badge is a tool to help people find public figures and brands’ real Pages and profiles. If a Page or profile has the verified badge, we’ve confirmed that it represents who it says it does. If the badge isn’t there, it may not be the real Page or profile. Posts, stories and other content from verified Pages and profiles aren’t verified by Facebook.

So rest assured, my Facebook account is not a sock account (or, more properly, a “sock puppet account“), and my page represents an “authentic,” “unique,” “complete,” and “notable” profile. Given all that’s happened on Facebook over the last few years, I don’t know if this is a plus or a minus. But there aren’t many other folks who would want to “own” the dialectical libertarian “brand” I represent. I knew who I was before this verification process. I know who I am today. And, now, apparently, so do you!

smh 🙂

Song of the Day #1884 (and Happy Birthday to My Sister!)

Song of the Day: The “S.O.S. III” SOLAR Disconet Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Robert F. Gregory, Fernando Fernandez, and Jose Crep Nunez, features the soulful “Sound of Los Angeles” (from which the SOLAR record label created its acronym). This medley offers some of the best R&B dance music of its era from such groups as Shalamar, Dynasty, The Whispers, Lakeside, and Midnight Star. I digitized this one from my own vinyl copy and posted it on YouTube, uploaded for the sole purpose of entertainment with no copyright infringement intended. The featured songs are among some of my—and my sister’s—all-time favorites … and it’s in her honor that I post this medley today. A happy and a healthy birthday to My Sister, My Friend—and many more to come! Despite some health setbacks this past year, my sister (“Ms. Ski” to all her former students!) still has that fascinating rhythm, and she’ll be back on that dancefloor in no time! (And another Tip o’ the Hat to our dear Ryan Neugebauer for his YouTube Tech Tips in getting this medley up!)

John Dewey H.S.: A Love Letter …

On Facebook, my friend Stephen Boydstun, made the following query:


You attended the John Dewey high school in Brooklyn, and I was wondering if there were differences in that school compared to other high schools that were advertised and how did its specialness stack up in your experience of it. Your 1977 yearbook is online, though not with very clear images. It indicates you were awarded a Regents scholarship. Does that mean a scholarship to go to college? The high school was free, right? Do you have a clear senior picture you could show us? Perhaps you have already written about some of this and could direct me to that spot.

I’ve only written in passing about my experiences at John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X, in Brooklyn, New York). But there’s so much to say.

As background, folks can indeed check out the John Dewey High School Archives here. Available on that site are my 1977 senior yearbook (my own yearbook is somewhere in my apartment, but my high school photo [ugh!] can be found on page 88), Graduation Program, and Senior Recogntion Night Program. I was indeed the recipient of a small Regents scholarship, though, more importantly, I received a Regents-endorsed diploma, because I successfully completed the necessary Regents exams to qualify (in Biology, English, Geometry, Social Studies, and so forth).

John Dewey was an extraordinary “free” public high school. I don’t know how my experiences in high school compare to those of others in standard high school curricula throughout the New York city public school system. But I can say that my high school years were among the most remarkable educational experiences of my life. The school stressed individual responsibility within a nourishing social environment, with gifted teachers who cared, and who offered challenging courses and extracurricular activities on a sprawling college-like campus. Check out “The John Dewey High School Adventure” (October 1971, volume 53, no. 2, Phi Delta Kappan International) by Sol Levine, who was the principal of the school when I was in attendance. A 1977 New York Times article also highlighted the school’s unique character.

In 1974, I entered the school as a sophomore (a tenth-grader), having graduated from a 2-year SP (“special progress“) program at David A. Boody Junior High School, which consolidated the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades into a two-year timeframe. Instead of the traditional fall and spring semesters, John Dewey High School provided students with five 6-week cycles throughout the academic year. Courses were graded on a pass-fail system, which placed less stress on grade-consciousness and more on augmented learning—though teachers could give students an “ME” (Mastery with Excellence) certificate. The school day was longer (8 am to 4 pm) than the standard NYC high school, which allowed for “free periods” in which we were expected to meet in study groups, clubs (both traditional and nontraditional), and on-campus activities. The school didn’t participate in interscholastic sports team competitions, but encouraged intramural play on its wonderful athletic field.

Sophomore Year

In my sophomore year, in addition to full-year studies of French, Advanced Geometry, Biology, and Business Education (Typewriting), I took courses in the following areas:

English

  • Introduction to Dramatic Literature
  • Introduction to Creative Writing (with Brian McCarthy, who also stoked my interest in science fiction, with the Science Fiction Club and the Palingenesis publication it spawned)
  • Introduction to Journalism
  • Introduction to the Short Story

Social Studies:

  • War and Peace (Twentieth Century)
  • Struggle for Democracy (Up to the French Revolution)
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Consumer Economics
  • Urban Economics

I was medically excused from gym, but took associated courses in “Human Sexuality” and “Psychology of Human Relations”.

Junior Year

I engaged in full-year studies (all five cycles) in French, Chemistry, Trigonometry, and Music (The History of Jazz, 3 cycles of which were attended in my junior year, 2 cycles of which were completed in my senior year—during which I actually taught several weeks on the history of jazz guitar and the history of jazz violin). I also took these courses in the following disciplines:

English

  • Psychological Approach to Literature (2 cycles)
  • Shakespeare (2 cycles)

Social Studies

  • The Kennedy Years & After
  • American People
  • The Holocaust (the first such course ever offered on a high-school level, taught by Ira Zornberg, under whom I came to edit the social studies periodical, Gadfly)
  • Futuristics

I began my studies with the Law Institute, led by two wonderful teachers, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Wolfson:

  • Justice, Judges, and Jury
  • Supreme Court & Civil Liberties
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Business Law

I also took one elective course in “Photography”—where I learned to take and develop photographs, as well as various “DISKS” (“Dewey Independent Study Kits”) in such areas as Medieval History and the Renaissance.

Senior Year

In my final year at John Dewey High School, I undertook full-year studies of Advanced French, Anthropology, three cycles of Calculus, and Advanced Placement American History (taught by Larry Pero, Chair of the History Department, for which I earned college credit with St. John’s University). I also studied the following courses in English:

  • Man, Nature, and Survival
  • Individualism in American Literature
  • Introduction to Film
  • Public Speaking

And I completed my studies in the Law Institute with the following courses:

  • Law in an Urban Society
  • Fieldwork and Legal Research

Never giving a second thought to the issue of “Grade-Point Average,” I fully embraced the enriched atmosphere of learning that John Dewey High School provided for its students. I graduated with honors for growth, personal achievement, and personal contributions in English, French, Music, and Social Studies, and received recognition for my extra-curricular activities.

I also received the English Achievement Award for Excellence in the Communication Arts, the James K. Hackett Medal for Demonstrated Proficiency in Oratory, the Publications Award for Demonstrated Excellence in the Field of Journalism, the John Dewey Science Fiction Club Award, the Chemistry Teachers Club of New York Award for scholarship in chemistry, a certificate of merit from the Association of Teachers of Social Studies of NYC, and the Honorable Samuel A. Welcome Award for Excellence in Legal Studies.

Most importantly, the teachers at John Dewey High School, unafraid to show their own political predilections, encouraged me to develop my own political and intellectual interests, whether or not they agreed with the directions I was taking. Indeed, once I had discovered Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand, while enrolled in my Advanced Placement American History course, the libertarian trajectory of my politics was seeded, nourished, and challenged by my teachers. A greater gift from American educators I could never have received.

From what I understand, the school is more traditional today than it was in its inception, but I’ve retained friends among my former peers and faculty and will always have a depth of love for the high school that more than prepared me for a rigorous and rewarding undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral education at New York University.

RIP, Jackie Mason

A hilarious comic—who offended everybody with his irreverent politically incorrect humor—has died at the age of 93.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Pearls Before Swine: Remote Learning

Today’s “Pearls Before Swine” installment, courtesy of The New York Daily News and Stephan Pastis. I may not have all these remotes, but since I often misplace the ones I do have, I sure would like that last one!

Remote Learning

Ski and Me: Update #3

Back in December 2020, I first posted on my sister’s medical adventures. Elizabeth Sciabarra (aka “Ms. Ski” to the thousands of students whose lives she touched as an educator for nearly fifty years) was taken seriously ill in mid-November. This was followed in mid-March by back surgery, which necessitated her entrance, on April 7, 2021, into a subacute rehabilitation facility. She has toughed it out, as only she can, and today—after 4+ months of physical therapy—I am happy to report that my sister is home again.

The first thing on our agenda was ordering some Brooklyn Pizza to celebrate her return!

Here’s to many more days of celebrating, as she continues to progress toward full recovery. Thanks to all those who have expressed their love and support.

Here’s to My Sister! My Friend! My Partner in Crime! With all my love, always …

Welcome Home!

Song of the Day #1868

Song of the Day: Michael Jackson 70s & 80s Mega-Medley [YouTube link] was mixed by Chris Matthew Sciabarra (yes, Me!) and features some of MJ’s biggest hits from the era that he dominated, including recordings with his brothers, some famous duets (with Jermaine Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and Mick Jagger), and, of course, classics from his solo studio albums. I mixed this medley from 12″ vinyl records, using an analog cassette tape recorder, without any sampling capabilities, and with the creative, if crude, use of a pause button for a few extra tricks. I’ve digitized it and it debuts on YouTube today. Catch it before they snatch it away! And if they do, then check out the Michael Jackson Disconet Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Tuta Aquino (who did have sampling capabilities!). I had the pleasure of seeing MJ in concert twice—once with his brothers, once solo. Soft-spoken when interviewed, he turned into a lion on stage. On this date in 2009, Michael Jackson died tragically at the age of 50. Scandals, trials, allegations, and controversies aside, few would deny the remarkable musical legacy this artist—perhaps the greatest “song and dance man” of his generation—left behind. This is also linked at Quora Digest. Hope you enjoy this medley of memorable musical moments! (And again, H/T to Ryan Neugebauer for the YouTube tech tips!).