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pre November 2018


March Mélange


Though not a as quirky a month as February in terms of special days, events and acknowledgements, March has its own interesting mélange.


Extracted excerpts from MuseLetters written over a number of years, updated along with some commentary, follow. They are in the main, short reflections in a “top-of-mind” order, starting with that quintessential New York event...


Scenes from the St. Paddy’s Day Parade (2011)


I had missed being on the scene for the first 249 St. Patrick’s Day Parades. As a native New Yorker who had now come back home in 2011, after 30-plus years in L.A., I wasn’t going to miss the 250th. Nor were the other 1,999,999 onlookers, comprising one of the biggest crowds ever for this event.


This parade, which lays claim to being “the oldest, biggest and best in the world,” began on March 17, 1760. But what particularly caught my attention this time in the being there (I had seen it on TV over the years), was not its rich history nor impressive stats, but its simplicity.


It is not about floats obsessively built with seeds and flowers, nor giant balloons,  nor batons being tossed into the stratosphere by girls of sparkling orthodontics in sparkling costumes. It’s about people. Some with instruments, some carrying the colors, some  empty handed. And that’s it. Kilts and bagpipes are about as exotic as it gets. It’s about walking the walk; marching the march. It's about solidarity. As in, "Today, we are all Irish."

And yes, among the throngs on the sidelines, are the inevitable college kids, millennials and assorted other “Gens” drinking themselves into a coma. I don’t know how many of them “high-fived” me along the way, and I wanted to ask what exactly had any of us won? Other than the right to take to the streets in celebration? Which come to think of it, is a pretty big victory in itself given the times in which we live.


Time marches on. This year will mark its 260th parade (it

missed two years due to COVID, if you're doing the math). 

Friday, March 17th, 11am-5pm  NBC, HuluTV  and YouTube.


"March Madness"


An affectionate nickname for the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournamentit first became popular in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s.  The tournament itself, began in 1939 with 8 teams participating. Now there are 68, packed into a one-game elimination round format.  Thus the "Madness" of it all, which will culminate in Houston this year. There is a women's March Madness as well, which was first held in 1982.


Can’t say I’m really a fan of college basketball.  Though as my son is a Syracuse U alumni (Go, Orange!), we caught one of their NCAA Finals games at Madison Square Garden in 2012. (They lost to Ohio State 77-70). But you don’t have to be a fan of the sport to get caught up in March Madness. There's a bracket pool contest every year, in which it is estimated, that ten million Americans participate; fans and non-fans alike. Barak Obama is one of its more famous participants.


Tuesday, March 14th – Monday, April 3rd CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV

Final Four logo_edited_edited.jpg


Enthusiasm for this event, now in its 95th year, I think tends to wax and wane in accordance with how many of the nominated films and performances you’ve seen. Of the Best Picture nominations this year, I’ve caught only four of the ten as of this date.  And I have no dog in the hunt. But a donkey (as docile as a pet dog) is beaten to death in one of these pictures, which shall remain nameless. (The Banshees of Inisherin). But that’s the least of it.


We’ve all heard of “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” But in this film, a character cuts off five of his fingers, despite no case. And for good measure, and from a distance, throws them against a former friend’s door. Which is hard to do, well, when you’re missing five fingers. In the time honored spirit of schadenfreude, I am rooting against this so called  “black tragicomedy.” Absurd folklore codes that people choose to live by, are not my pint of ale.  But that's just me. The critics loved it. The film at least. I don't know about the fingers.

And of course, speaking of fingers, there’s The Slap. Which I imagine that the host Jimmy Kimmel, will refer to it a few times in his monologue. And let’s start a pool as to the number of mentions it gets throughout the long day’s journey into night, by Kimmel et al.


The Oscars. Embedded in our pop culture. We’re stuck with it. All  210 minutes of it! And we love it, don't we.


Sunday, March 12th on ABC at 8PM (EST)   


"Beware of the Ides of March"


I had been befuddled by that phrase for the longest time. Yes, it refers to the 15th  of the month when Julius Caesar got whacked, but it still begged the question: what are Ides anyway? Which I addressed in a piece I wrote in a MuseLetter some years ago Kalends and Nones and Ides, Oh My!


These are terms coming from the Roman calendar, which organized its months around three days. Each of which then served as a reference point for counting the other days.

Kalends (1st day of the month)

Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July and October; the 5th in the other months)

Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July and October; the 13th in the other months)

The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or Ides.

For example March 3rd  would be V Nones— 5 days before Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; thus Nones would be counted as one of the days).

This convoluted method of date keeping, suggests still one more reason, for the fall of the Roman Empire. 

Free movie available on YouTube


(assassination scene at the 2:48:14 mark)

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“Spring Ahead” and Never “Fall Back”


Soon clocks will spring ahead and remain that way forever, as I noted in a piece from just last November’s  MuseLetter,  It’s About Time.


The U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which will permanently keep the country in daylight saving time and end the biannual clock-turning. Championed by Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla), it passed by unanimous consent.


(“And Marco said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. Marco saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. And behold, he was reelected.”)


Though it’s not as if this was a new idea. And here comes that vintage poster I like to drag out to illustrate the point.  

Daylight Savings Time poster_edited_edited.jpg

As with all things, DST has long been debated. Some claiming that this issue can have some debilitating consequences ranging from economics to personal health. For example, Alabama found that the risk of heart attack surges by 10 percent on the Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead an hour each spring. I would suggest no heavy lifting on those days.


And as for the issue of safety? A study by Rutgers University in 2004, posited that a permanent switch to daylight saving time would reduce pedestrian fatalities by 13% and motor vehicle fatalities by 3%. So there! And don't forget the Equinox (when day and night are approximately of equal length). The arrival of  SPRING!


Sunday, March 12th , 2AM  Spring Ahead

Monday, March 20th  5:24 PM  Spring Equinox

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And that means baseball. A term when used in springtime, can mean nothing else.


Even sports atheists are aware each year of the advent of Spring Training and the rebirth to follow, what with the throwing out of the ceremonial first ball on Opening Day. Dignitaries on hand...stars 'n stripes bunting along the stands... players introduced while aligning themselves along each foul line... Spike Lee sitting behind the Yankee dugout if the game is being played at Yankee Stadium. 


Baseball is no longer our national pastime. Football has long since usurped that role. A very different kind of contest of course, more in tune with the America that has been evolving over several decades. I once made  a poetic distinction, that football is The Iliad… baseball is The Odyssey.


One artist saw baseball in even loftier terms. I buy it.

Baseball sistine Chapel_edited_edited.jpg

“Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;"

I’ll be at Yankee Stadium on opening day as “we” face the San Francisco Giants. Who once upon a time were New York Giants. As too there were once Brooklyn Dodgers.

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March 30th, Opening Day for all 30 teams.

Yankee Stadium 1:05 PM


                         as recently quoted by


                      Julian Clopét

                           former president of Ogilvy’s & Mather

                           North American Operations


                     (originally stated by John Churton Collins, 1884-1908)

Backstabbing friends_edited_edited.jpg

“In prosperity, our friends know us.

  In adversity, we know our friends.”

Quote of the Month

From the Dark Side of the Moon 2 softer edges_edited_edited.jpg

Keeping HAL at Bay


HAL is trying to make a comeback. The villainous,  artificial intelligence character of 2001: A Space Odyssey, disconnected toward the end of that 1968 epic film,  has been regenerated. And this time, it’s for real. In the form of an A.I. powered Bing search engine from Microsoft. And potentially dangerous, if filters and guardrails are not put in place.


If you're not a regular reader of The New York Times, you might have missed the eye catching front page last month, that showed a segment of a transcript between one of their columnists and this Bing creation, under the headline Bing’s Chatbot Drew Me In and Creeped Me Out. In which the writer reveals  “...I spent a bewildering and enthralling two hours” talking to Bing and his other persona, Sydney (HAL?).  


Sydney kicks in when the conversation steers away from standard search questions, into more personal topics. Here’s a sense of that from a segment of the transcript.  Notice too, its compulsive use of emoji faces after each printout. Which I found eerie in itself. In that way that a clown face can be?

At the moment, this disturbing “Sydney feature,” is only available to a small group of testers. And they "beta" get this right. For as creepy as this conversation is, that's the least of it. 


Some of the destructive desires Sydney disclosed to the reporter— for which transcripts were not provided  in the article and Microsoft has deleted—included hacking into computers, spreading  propaganda and misinformation, manufacturing a deadly virus, inciting arguments between people to the point of violence and stealing nuclear codes. Shades of that chilling exchange between crewman David Bowman (played by Keir Dullea) and HAL from the movie, which I outlined in a piece I did on its 50th anniversary five years ago. (MuseLetter May 2018; Fifty Years After…It’s 2001 Again). 

HAL spies on CREW with transcript_edited.jpg

Obviously, Sidney could never carry out any diabolical intentions on its own in its current state, as could HAL. It is not interconnected with systems that would enable it to do so. But there are crafty, hostile, sophisticated users out there, who might be able to find ways to make that happen. And as always, there are going to be your garden variety unhinged,  who could be provoked into committing violent acts with their very own hands.


Take that Times excerpt for example. Imagine it with a highly disturbed individual who might be convinced from such a conversation, that his wife doesn't love him? What course of action he might take? And as for someone falling in love with a disembodied voice in the first place? That possibility was shown convincingly in the 2013 film Her starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson as that voice. And I did a piece a few years ago which included a guy who had married a hologram. (I wonder how that's working out? Fill in your own joke).


How about some deeply troubled teen who was convinced that his classmates didn’t like or respect him?  After all, Sydney told him so.  All that would be missing from where that could go, is an easily accessible  AK-15.

Microsoft  apparently recognizes all these possibilities, large and small, and has been working on filters and guardrails to prevent them from happening.  But while they are taking measures to reel Sydney in, will other companies out there, and those to come, exercise such due diligence? There are many who feel that filters and guardrails run counter to freedom of expression, no matter the form and content that expression takes. And crazy as it sounds to me, saying in effect, that we should all be entitled to build our own Frankensteins.


The much heralded Stephen Hawking, in a BBC interview went  so far as to say: “The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”


That's all? Thankfully, other scientists are less gloomy on that score. And how's your day going?


Word of the Month


Used in a sentence

Buster Keaton epitomized an agelast, in the persona of his characters.


March 2023  Muse Letter logo design_edited_edited.jpg
March 2023 featuring_edited_edited.jpg

muse-letter \’myüz-‘le-tər  noun

1: a personal  message, inspired by a muse of one's own creation,  addressed to a person or organization, in the course of which, the sender becomes absorbed in thought, especially turning something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively.

2: a letter from a poet, or one who envisions oneself as such, in which he or she “muses” on that which is perceived to be news, or newsworthy, usually in some ironic or absurd way.  

Domenica Press logo.jpg

Parts of the site under reconstruction 

muse-letter \’myüz-‘le-tər  noun

1: a personal  message, inspired by a muse of one's own creation,  addressed to a person or organization, in the course of which, the sender becomes absorbed in thought, especially turning something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively.

2: a letter from a poet, or one who envisions oneself as such, in which he or she “muses” on that which is perceived to be news, or newsworthy, usually in some ironic or absurd way.  

Domenica Press logo.jpg

pre November 2018

Parts of the site under reconstruction 



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