Protagonists With a Plethora of Abilities

A number of fictional characters have two or more talents that readers see simultaneously or consecutively.

For instance, Adam Dalgliesh of P.D. James’ mysteries is both a detective and published poet. In the consecutive realm, Charles Strickland is first a stockbroker and then a struggling genius of a painter in W. Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence.

Having more than one talent can obviously make a character more interesting, admirable, unpredictable, etc. — and can open up lots of dramatic possibilities. An example of that is the way Strickland coldly abandons his wife and children to pursue his art — trading a comfortable existence for a life of intense privation that involves starving for his fame as well as actually starving (almost).

Then there are the amateur detectives who do other things for their “day job” — as is the case with Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen running a small-town post office when she and her pets aren’t sleuthing in Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries. An often-seen personality “hook” for many fictional detectives is doing another thing well in addition to ferreting out the bad guys.

Other characters have a job they hate or at best tolerate, and then do something more fun in their spare time. Dave Raymond is a courier in Tom Perrotta’s The Wishbones, but gets his real enjoyment playing guitar in a wedding band (when he’s not agonizing over which of two women is best for him).

In Andre Dubus III’s House of Sand and Fog, former Iranian colonel Massoud Behrani is working as a trash collector and convenience-store clerk in the U.S. when he buys a house as a first step to becoming a real-estate investor. Unfortunately, havoc ensues. Behrani is also an example of immigrants forced to take less prestigious jobs in a new country.

Chance, necessity, or societal events can cause people to put their different talents to use. In Fannie Flagg’s The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Fritzi Jurdabralinski is an expert car mechanic and stunt pilot who joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II.

The not-admirable Briony Tallis becomes a nurse during that war and later a novelist in Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

Then there’s Renaissance man — actually Renaissance orc — Mr. Nutt in Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals. That intellectual character is a “candle dripper,” blacksmith, soccer coach…

Who are your favorite fictional characters with two or more talents and/or a diverse job history?

If you’d like, you could also name real people with multiple talents and/or jobs — such as Leonardo da Vinci (painter, inventor, architect, etc.), Paul Robeson (singer, actor, activist, etc.), and Hillary Clinton (lawyer, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, etc.). Actually, I prefer Bernie Sanders, but that’s another story. 🙂

Authors who had other jobs before, during, or after their writing careers? See this post.

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

205 thoughts on “Protagonists With a Plethora of Abilities

  1. I suppose this qualifies although barely. I just finished reading Zola’s ‘Germinal’ and the main character, Etienne Lantier’ reputedly a mechanic from Paris, becomes one of the miners at the Montsou operation. There’s little evidence of his mechanical skills although he, although initially terrified and intimated, becomes a very competent coal miner. I suppose strike organizing could be considered another skill, which Etienne does as well as his mentor, Pluchart, who is a fellow mechanic from Paris and also an organizer for the International, which I suppose was one of the early labor unions (?).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, bobess48! Just saw your terrific review of “Germinal” linked on Facebook.

      Etienne does indeed seem to have at least three skills, even if the mechanical one isn’t displayed much in Zola’s superb novel. Mr. Lantier also has the “ability” for his hair to turn white overnight, but that’s another matter… 😦


  2. OK, I’ll mention my last protagonist in this column. Of course, another amateur private detective (which is by Rex Stout, the great Nero Wolfe). Nero’s a gourmand (and obese), and will not leave his home unless absolutely necessary (like say, his gourmet dinners with like-minded folks).. He’s a PI, who has a young assistant, Archie Goodwin, who does all of the legwork involved in solving crimes. Wolfe is a great detective, is extremely intelligent (he spends most of his free time reading), yet he spends time in his orchid room on the top of his townhome a few hours per day, and then spends time conferring with his chef, Fritz as to the day’s menu.

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        • Thanks, Clairdelune! Will give one of those Rex Stout books a try when I can! I’m on a streak of reading nearly 10 novels in a row by authors I’d never read before — P.D. James, Julia Glass, Andy Weir, Octavia Butler, Herman Hesse, Flann O’Brien, Terry Pratchett, Anita Shreve, and Philip K. Dick — with Charles Bukowski next. 🙂

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          • You’re in for a treat! P.D. James, Octavia Butler, Terry Pratchett and Philip K. Dick are all among my long-time favorites.
            Wish I could enjoy a reading marathon – I have a year’s worth of the SciFi mags I subscribed to last year, Analog and Asimov’s, have read one or two storied only. Three unread Jack Reacher’s novels also sitting int he stack…. I can only dream. Maybe someday I will actually retire! 😦

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            • I’ve really been enjoying many of those authors. P.D. James’ “The Lighthouse” was an expert mystery, Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” was amazing/harrowing, Terry Pratchett’s “Unseen Academicals” was very whimsical yet very human, and Philip K. Dick’s “Dr. Bloodmoney” initially seemed good not great but it is in fact very compelling the more I read of it.

              So sorry you currently don’t have time to read more — I hope that changes in the not-too-distant future. You certainly read a huge number of books before your recent work crunch.


              • I would definitely recommend of Dick’s works, ‘The Man in the High Castle’ (which I re-read and reviewed last year), which won the Hugo Award and ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ on which the film ‘Blade Runner’ was based. As I’ve said before, Dick died a bit too early. He visited the set of ‘Blade Runner’ but died before the film was released. If he could see how many of his novels and stories have been adapted into films in the ensuing 30 something years he might not be terribly pleased although I would think he’d be very rich from the royalties, something he never was while alive.

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                • Thanks, Brian! Now that I’ve finished “Dr. Bloodmoney,” I’ll be mentioning Philip K. Dick in my March 20 column.

                  I wanted to read “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” and “The Man in the High Castle,” but they were checked out during my last library visit. The library did have many of Dick’s other 40-plus novels, so I picked one at random. 🙂

                  Yes, a shame he died not long before “Blade Runner” was released. As you note, if he had lived he might not have been happy with the way his work was treated on screen, but, as you also note, it sure could have helped him emerge from a life of near-poverty. (One of his short stories became “Total Recall”; I have a hunch Dick might not have been a Schwarzenegger fan. 🙂 )

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              • If your library has it, you might like John Brunner’s “Stand on Zanzibar”. I read it so long ago i don’t recall all the details, but I do remember his predictions about world populations and mass exodus from the troubled regions, it’s the first thing I thought of when I heard the news about the massive numbers of Syrians and others from that part of the world, and the masses crossing the Straits of Gibraltar into Europe. Back then, Brunner had a prophetic vision of the future, which today is our reality.

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    • Kat Lib, Nero Wolfe is one of my favorite PIs!! I think I’ve read all of Rex Stout’s books about Nero and Archie Goodwin, also watched faithfully the excellent TV series of 2003(?), Maury Chaikin was a perfect Nero Wolfe and Timothy Hutton was also well cast as Archie Goodwin. The only problem was that the show usually made me want to go and whip up a gourmet dinner… 😀

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  3. Dave in this political season this blog is going rather well, I am amazed by how all the posters are writing their opinions yet maintaining so much cordiality towards one another .
    Kudos to all and the credit is all yours.

    Anyways I don`t know in this maze of this blog Dr. Watson of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was mentioned. A physician by profession and also a friend, roommate from time to time, assistant of Sherlock Holmes and a perfect gentleman to balance Sherlock`s eccentric personality.

    Sherlock was also one of most famous music lovers and violinists , I have not read that many of the books but is all the BBC series Sherlock was known to play violin .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, bebe! Very nice of you to say that! 🙂 I agree — the political conversation here is cordial, and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s mostly a debate about Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders, but I think it would still be cordial if we had some GOP supporters also commenting regularly.

      Great mentions of Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes each having (at least) two talents/jobs!

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      • Now on current situation..
        Was at my usual cleaners and one young man studying Special Ed calls himself a Republican. I enjoy taking to him and another one and another before his with tats all over him who listens to NPR classical. Anyways they say if Trump wins they want to move to Canada, when I mention Cruz he goes oh Ted is a snake in the grass.

        I ask him since I agree with what you are saying why are you a Republican the 21 year old tells me I don`t want them to take my gun away. Did not care much for Bernie either but admits most in his age group likes him.

        Then I go then why not vote for Hillary..since you don`t like anyone else.
        He said if the choice is between Trump and Hillary he is going for the later one.

        He also said the boss of the place is handing out Cruz Cards which he does not like mixing business with politics.
        This 21 year old gives me hope for a better future.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very interesting encounter, bebe. Great that you had a discussion with that smart 21-year-old!

          The gun thing does puzzle me. Though many Democrats want some sort of gun control, they’re hardly taking people’s guns away. NRA propaganda seems to run deep. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Obvious Candidates Dept.:

    Swiss Family Robinson– what few things they couldn’t build were miraculously available from their wrecked ship. Crafty folk in every way.

    Robinson Crusoe– he was quite the homemaker, eventually acquiring help– but not hired help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting. When one is forced to acquire multiple skills, one often acquires them. Same with Mark Watney in Andy Weir’s “The Martian” and Humphrey van Weyden in Jack London’s “The Sea-Wolf,” among other characters and novels.


  5. Don’t know if Kat Lib will see this, but as it pertains to topic, I shall enter it as a comment on its own and hope.

    EC Bentley wrote an early-ish detective story of the modern type, in 1913: Trent’s Last Case. Trent, an amateur sleuth, is a professional portrait painter.

    form The Rap Sheet:

    “The book was written on a dare.

    The author was a British newspaper reporter named E.C. Bentley, and when his friend G.K. Chesterton (of Father Brown fame) challenged him to write a story about a new kind of detective–an antithesis to Sherlock Holmes–he complied. Bentley wanted his sleuth to be a realistic character, not an idiosyncratic mix of mannerisms. His detective would not be an analytical master of deduction. On the contrary, he would be so fallible that he might actually get the crime’s solution wrong. As Bentley explained in his 1905 autobiography, Those Days,

    It should be possible, I thought, to write a detective story in which the detective was recognizable as a human being and was not quite so much the ‘heavy sleuth.’ … Why not show up the fallibility of the Holmesian method?

    Bentley met Chesterson’s challenge, and the result was Trent’s Last Case, first published in 1913. The novel was wildly popular; in Britain, it sold out four editions in its first five months. In the United States, it was published as The Woman in Black and performed well. And over the years, both critics and mystery writers have offered generous praise of the book, with many even citing it as the first modern detective novel.

    Here are the blurbs printed in the 1978 Perennial Library edition:

    “One of the three best detective stories ever written.”–Agatha Christie

    “The finest detective story of modern times.”–G.K. Chesterton

    And in the same edition’s introduction, Dorothy L. Sayers wrote that Trent’s Last Case was “startlingly original … when it first appeared. It shook the little world of the mystery novel like a revolution, and nothing was ever quite the same again. Every detective writer of today owes something, consciously or unconsciously, to its liberating and inspiring influence.”

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    • Hi jhNY, I just saw your comment above about “Trent’s Last Case,” and yes, I read it many years ago. It was so long ago that I can’t remember much about the book, other than I recall that I liked it very much. I may also have read Bentley’s book “Trent’s Own Case,” but my memory has become increasingly unreliable these days. 🙂 I’ve probably mentioned before that I need to read a book at least twice or even more before I can remember much about it. I pulled out a book I have on my shelves entitled “Books to Die For,” edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke, that has essays from today’s mystery writers about the mysteries they enjoyed or were influenced by, all the way from Edgar Allan Poe (1841) to Mark Gimenez (2008); the latter I’ve never heard about. Surprisingly, there was no mention of “Trent’s Last case.”
      Dave, Lee Child wrote an article in this book about “The Damned and the Destroyed (1962), which was another author I didn’t recognize.
      jhNY, I saw below that you wanted to read a Dorothy L. Sayers novel. I’ll only say that Lord Peter changed through the years from somewhat of a cartoonish Bertie Wooster (and possibly an anti-Semite) to a more serious character.

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        • Dave, I just put back on my shelves the books (Dorothy L. Sayers) that I was writing about to jhNY As I put them back in the empty spaces, what should appear but your book. I hope you are satisfied that I didn’t throw your wonderful book into one of those boxes in storage, but instead it’s placed right alongside of one of my all-time favorite writers As you know, I loved your book, and I love your blog!

          Liked by 2 people

      • So glad you saw my comment– I wanted you to note Sayers wrote the intro for the edition I read.

        I’ve read both both books of Trent, the latter being co-written and years after the first, and enjoyed them, though at this remove, I cannot see the novel aspects of the plot and characterizations which were obvious to contemporary readers. I guess too many later detective stories spoiled me in advance. But there was in Trent’s Last Case a strange society of drug devotees with a lair in France that was written up well enough to be memorable and even disconcerting, and a scene of worldwide stock panic in Trent’s Own Case that likewise sticks in the mind, so both, in my opinion, are worth a read.

        As for your remark about memory, I am just now rereading Stendahl’s The Charterhouse of Parma, in hope of retaining a bit more than the certainty I’d read it. So far, so good.

        When I dig out my Sayers collection (it’s in a box of books I’ve had to store away so as to make room in front of my windows– new ones were installed last fall, yet tomorrow repair folk come in for the third time to make mandatory, and hopefully final adjustments), I shall bear in mind your warning re Lord Peter’s earlier manifestations– I suspect my collection is of short stories, which strikes me as likely, therefore, to be early in the Sayers catalog– I have already begun to picture Wooster in a deerstalker. Happily, I’m a fool for Wodehouse.

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        • You also need to add a monocle to your picture of Lord Peter. I looked up monocles on Wikipedia, and apparently they are still made today. I had no idea, other than the Planter’s Peanut character in their advertising. It was also of interest that when it talked about fictional wearers of monocles, right after the mention of Lord Peter, it was followed immediately by Wodehouse’s Psmith character. I also adore Wodehouse, but I’m not sure I read much more than the Jeeves/Wooster books. I have quite a few DVDs of the latter duo, played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. They will always be the only Jeeves/Wooster on film, just as Jeremy Brett will always be Sherlock Holmes to me.

          I understand about having books in boxes. I’m preparing to move, so I’ve got around 12 boxes of books, DVDs and CDs in storage. Yet if anyone came into my condo, they would be shocked to know that I had so much more than they could see. Which is a long way of saying that any books of Sayers’ stories are in one of those boxes in storage. I do still have, however, two hardback compilations of Lord Peter novels. One includes “Strong Poison,” “Have His Carcase,” and “Unnatural Death.” The other includes “Murder Must Advertise,” “Gaudy Night,” and “Whose Body?”. Those aren’t chronological by any means. Three of them feature Harriet Vane, who is imprisoned for murder and Lord Peter falls in love with her while finding the real murderer (“Strong Poison”).; “Have His Carcase,” in which Harriet stumbles across a body while on a walking tour (and Lord Peter comes to the rescue), and “Gaudy Night,” in which Harriet goes back to her Oxford college for some such celebration. I must admit that my favorite Lord Peter novels are the three I mentioned, because Harriet is such a strong character, especially in “Gaudy Night,” in which Harriet takes the lead role and there are many interesting exchanges between her and other attendees at this celebration; between Harriet and the female dons in Oxford and, of course, between Harriet and Lord Peter. Sorry, I didn’t mean to run on so long.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Also ought to mention, just because:

            I own a pair of pince-nez, replete with cork lined nose-piece, still in their original case, still attached to a silken black cord. (Never worn– at least by me).

            I will have no trouble picturing Lord Peter behind a monocle, although I do admit a monocle tends to conjure up an image of Von Stroheim, which I now must banish in favor of a titled Brit.

            Liked by 1 person

            • When I first started to respond to you, I had to look up the difference between “pince-nez” and a monocle. You’d think I would know this after reading so many British mysteries, but I apparently never got down to the nitty-gritty of who wore what when. Without taking a look ahead, I’d venture a guess that it was Hercule Poirot that wore the “pince-nez.”

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              • Precisement! , as the Belgian detective might say. I mentioned that eyewear to let you know I was familiar with such oldtimey accoutrements, as well as to refer to another famous fictional sleuth.

                Liked by 1 person

    • Just so you know, I did read the (I think) entire collection of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries that I enjoyed very much. I think what bothers me most about today’s mysteries as opposed to those from earlier (especially those from the Golden Age of detective fiction) is the coarseness of language as well as more graphic crimes (lots of blood and gore). I do enjoy many modern day books that have crossed the line between those books as opposed to what was printed years ago, but I must say that there’s something to be said for a mystery that’s more of a puzzle than anything else.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Dave, once again am coming up for air! 🙂
    You mentioned my favorite detective of all time: P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh. I think I fell in love with him years ago when I read the first of the novels about him. Alas, I never met a man like him, a soulful poet AND a man of action!! Some of “his” verses that P.D. James included in the novels are quite good, I thought, which means she was also doubly talented as a novelist and a poet.
    There are several scientists in various fields who proved to be also talented writers: Carl Sagan, Loren Eiseley, E.O. Wilson, Karl Jung, and of course the polymath Isaac Asimov who was also a science teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you’ve reached one of your rare breaks from work, Clairdelune! Hope it’s for at least a few days.

      Thanks for the excellent, eloquent comment! Being a creative person and an action person IS a rare combination. Nice to see it once in a while in real life and in fiction — as with Adam Dalgliesh. Like you, I’m impressed with novelists who are also excellent poets (P.D. James, Sir Walter Scott, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt in “Possession,” Vladimir Nabokov in “Pale Fire,” etc.).

      And a great list of scientists/writers! Reminds me that there have also been doctors (or people who at least studied some medicine) who are/were great writers — Khaled Hosseini, W. Somerset Maugham, Walker Percy, and others.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did not know that Hosseini was a doctor, but I knew about Somerset Maugham. The scientists I mentioned were easy to recall, their books are lined up on my desk waiting for a chance to read them again….
        If I recall my history/philosophy/literature classes, way back in the Middle Ages when the lines between the various disciplines were a lot blurrier, it was not uncommon for a doctor/naturalist/alchemist to also be a philosopher and a poet: Avicenna and Maimonides, for example, wore many additional hats; Nicholaus Copernicus was basically a jack-of-all-trades, he also wrote and I believe translated classic works besides being an astronomer; a few centuries later, John Keats definitely showed that being a doctor was no hindrance to his talent as a poet. I always admired individuals able to move so easily among several different fields of knowledge. Seems to me that such ability to learn and synthesize different fields of knowledge into a “panoramic view”, to use today’s language, is not as common today, and it certainly is not encouraged in today’s highly compartmentalized education, especially in the US.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Great, interesting, thought-provoking comment, Clairdelune. I guess things have indeed become more specialized/compartmentalized today. Sort of like assembly-line workers just responsible for one part of a car rather than the whole car. Our education system is definitely one of the culprits, as is the tough job market that scares many people into developing just one strong employment skill. Plus the technological knowledge needed for various specific fields makes it more difficult to be a “jack of all trades” good in many things. Maybe those are among the reasons there are fewer da Vincis today.

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          • Da Vincis are hard to come by, sorta like Mozarts.

            Interestingly, Da Vinci not only was a painter and occasional sculptor, but was also employed as a sort of military adviser/deviser.

            Less well-known: his first record of employment was as a lute-player! He also invented a musical instrument, the viola organista, which has been built from his sketches and played in performance in the last few years:

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yup, in short supply.

              I wonder if da Vinci’s military doings were sort of involuntary? I read a biography of him years ago, but have forgotten much of it.

              Wow — I didn’t realize he had those musical accomplishments, too! A real Renaissance man, hundred of years before the prog-rock group Renaissance…

              P.S.: Great photo in that link!


  7. Condo Rice once the Secretary of State a staunch yes person to W on every issues including the war on Iraq on bogus theory of WMD is also a classically trained Piano Player

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Since the blog has already taken a political tack, I’ll pile on. Hillary Clinton has taken on a plethora of roles in her life. She has always been an activist, she is a lawyer, she is a wife and mother (and grandmother), she was a first lady, she was a congresswoman, she was a Secretary of State, now she is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. I think she is an incredibly smart woman! I wish I knew the truth about all of the controversies that have swirled around her through the years! However, I don’t know the truth nor does anybody else. I think part of the reason she is being attacked so viciously is because she is a woman, just like Obama has been attacked so viciously simply because he is black. The death of the 4 people at Bengazi was a horrible tragedy, but Chris Stevens was the 7th U.S. Ambassador who has been killed as a sitting ambassador. That doesn’t lessen the tragedy but it does put it in perspective. Just my opinion, no more.

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    • Thanks, lulabelle! Glad you weighed in! I welcome all kinds of discussion under my columns, even if it’s not about literature. And I sort of started the political talk with my brief mentions of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at the end of my post.

      Anyway, excellent comment! I have some issues with Clinton because of things such as her being too close to Wall Street and her being one of the U.S. Senators voting to authorize the Iraq War. But I agree that she’s super-smart, has a very diverse set of experiences, and more. I totally agree that many of the attacks on her arise from sexism, just as many of the attacks on Barack Obama arise from racism (as you noted). If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, I’ll vote for her.

      The Republicans have a helluva lot of nerve focusing so heavily on Benghazi considering how many people died in Iraq due to George W.’s needless invasion and occupation of that country.

      Liked by 3 people

      • To reply to all of you about today’s issues, I’ll throw in my two cents worth: I’ve been a pro-Hillary candidate for the past few years. I think people want to focus on her record only from her First Lady days, to her Senator days, and then to her Secretary of State days. While not overlooking some things from those times, I think one needs to read her bio from the days she spent during her Wellesey to Yale School, to her days as an intern in several different firms. She has so many accomplishments during those years that are too numerous to mention. She’s got an incredible resume, if people would take to look at it.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Just to add something to this conversation, I’d like to say that I almost hope Hillary doesn’t win this nomination, if only to spare her all the negative articles and attacks that will never go away. While I don’t know if Bernie can withstand all of the attacks that will most likely come his way, I’d much rather have him than Cruz or Rubio. And looking at Rubio’s record, is there even much of a good comeback?

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          • Thanks for your two excellent comments, Kat Lib! Hillary Clinton does have an incredible resume — maybe one of the best for a presidential candidate in U.S. history. And you’re right that she did accomplish a lot before she first came to national prominence as First Lady. You’re also correct that she has been the subject of unending attacks, some of them very personal.

            I agree that Bernie Sanders will be attacked more and more if he continues to do well in the primaries and if he wins the Democratic nomination. I think much of the mainstream media and many right-wingers have either mostly ignored Sanders or given him a pass in the hope that he would defeat Clinton and make it easier for a Republican to win the election this November (under the supposed theory that Sanders would be a weaker Democratic candidate than Clinton). But Sanders will be attacked more often and more viciously if it looks like he has a chance to win. He does threaten the interests of corporate types everywhere in a way Clinton doesn’t — and of course in a way the Republicans don’t.

            And Marco Rubio is almost as bad as Trump and Cruz in most ways; he just has a slightly more genial personality than those other two. What a disgusting trio. And Kasich has a record in Ohio that’s almost as conservative, despite his undeserved “moderate” reputation.

            Anyway, with your two cents, my two cents, and others’ two cents, we may be approaching enough to feed a parking meter. 🙂

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            • my 2 cents…we turn on CNN some nights..MSNBC has lying Brian I can`t take. There analysts are more soft spoken and try not to take sides . Analysts were saying John Kasich noticeably never attacks anyone not even Trump shows he is angling for a VP ticket.

              Liked by 1 person

              • MSNBC has indeed gone downhill, bebe — hiring the fibber Brian Williams, pushing out some progressive voices (such as Melissa Harris-Perry)…

                And Kasich? Only the crazy Republican field of candidates could make Ohio’s governor seem like a “moderate.” (I know I’m saying something you already know firsthand. 🙂 ) He definitely seems to be angling for veep, as I think Martin O’Malley was also doing in the Dem primary before he dropped out.


                • Kasich, having had his own Fox teevee show a while back, has the advantage of being at ease before cameras, comparatively, especially in intimate settings. This ease is sometimes mistaken for more than it should be by observers desperate to find someone to love out of the GOP field. But he’s another corporatist with a smile, and is tied to the financial sector (he was an investment banker with bear Stearns till 2008, when market forces intervened), and to the restriction of women’s rights. He does evince some compassion for the poor– an entirely manageable amount– which makes him stand out a bit this campaign season.

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                  • Well said, jhNY! “…another corporatist with a smile” — that’s Kaisch to a T. Could also describe Marco Rubio, as well as a heckuva lot of Democrats. One can judge politicians by the way they govern, and Kasich has governed Ohio in a right-wing way.

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                  • You are so right jhNY…being in OH I was very critical of Kasich, streets are falling apart, drug overdoses, high crime rate, airport sitting empty , flights gets cancelled only after Delta took over and on and on..
                    Now as Dave says “Only the crazy Republican field of candidates could make Ohio’s governor seem like a “moderate.”.
                    Everything is relative and that`s how low our expectations have become.

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          • I am there with you Kat Lib I was a Hillary supporter from 08 and when she lost the election she never wasted a moment and fully supported President Obama from day one. Then in 2012 when Obama was having some trouble Bill Clinton went all the way to make sure Obama gets elected.
            Now Hillary Clinton`s life is an open book and there is so much hatred toward her it is difficult to fathom. Whatever wrong done by her husband she gets the blame.

            There was a big upset last night in Michigan and I don`t know what to think of it, Some of her very close friends before had the similar feeling that she did not run only for so much negativity.
            Now on the other side Trump is full for hate, but I thing Ted Cruz is worse than anyone.

            It is going to be a very long year .

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            • Great points, bebe! I hope whoever loses the race for the Democratic presidential nomination supports the winner (like Clinton did in 2008, as you note) and urges their followers to do the same. A Republican win — by Trump or, as you say, the even worse Cruz — would be a disaster in all kinds of ways. 😦

              Hillary Clinton definitely deserves some criticism (too cozy to Wall Street, voting for the Iraq War, very late in supporting gay marriage, etc.) but the extent and nastiness of the criticism is completely over the top.

              Liked by 1 person

    • Greetings, lulabelleharris!

      I do think there us much to chew on re H. Clinton, Libya, and her notions re foreign policy. Here’s an interesting, and possibly unique take:

      Of course, the concerns therein have nearly never been given a teevee airing, but….

      (I will vote for Clinton in the general election, I’m nearly certain. If I don’t, it would only be due to the fact that my state (NY) and my neighborhood NYC’s Upper West Side, will overwhelmingly go Democrat at that time, allowing me, should I wish, to vote Green.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • is you one vote and your choice, I have heard that from one of my close friend. I am simply curious who would be you choice , since Bloomberg may not be running as a third party candidate.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I cannot imagine I would ever vote for Bloomberg, having had more than I enjoyed of him while he was mayor.

          In the primary, I will vote for Sanders. I doubt he will win the nomination, but he’s my choice.

          If Hillary Clinton is the party’s nominee, I will most likely vote for her in the general election, unless, as I said, having the luxury of living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (where Democrats always win overwhelmingly) and in the state of NY (where Democrats NEARLY always win), I decide I’ll vote Green Party.

          There is no possibility I will vote for any Republican running for anything.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate for president this year.

            Bloomberg has better views than some Republicans (the party he was affiliated with as mayor) — on gun control, for instance. But overall I dislike his stances — he’s very pro-Wall Street, very “law and order,” etc. Such an elitist.

            I’ve also never voted for a Republican in my life, and never will. Maybe if I had been alive during Abraham Lincoln’s time… 🙂


            • Bloomberg has spent some of his precious time in each major party, simply because his self-made awesomeness is of such size that it cannot be contained in merely one. He counts himself, at least once, among the betters that know better than the rest of us how we should go about doing everything. And yet, I remain ungrateful.

              He’s a technocrat whose technology produced the algorithms that drove the financial markets speedily into The Great Ditch of 2008. That’s the sort of wizardry he would bring to the whole of the economy if only he could be persuaded to rule.


              Liked by 1 person

              • Nicely put, jhNY! Bloomberg does think of himself as better than most of the rest of us (he’s not), and he can go to hell. 🙂 As you know, he’s so imperial he managed to get a third term as NYC mayor rammed through when the limit was two terms.

                I knew a couple of people who worked for Bloomberg’s company (one of whom tragically died on 9/11 when he was at a conference in the World Trade Center) and they thought it was a soulless place.


          • Neither will I, I just saw Dave`s post of Jill Stein, never even heard of her. Anyways…I don`t know who is worse..I believe it is Ted Cruz the snake handler.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Howdy, Dave!

    — Who are your favorite fictional characters with two or more talents and/or a diverse job history? —

    Ian Fleming’s James Bond in novels such as “Casino Royale,” “Doctor No,” “From Russia, with Love,” “The Man with the Golden Gun,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and “Thunderball” as well as in short stories such as “For Your Eyes Only,” “From a View to a Kill,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Risico” and “The Hildebrand Rarity” appears to have as many skills as required by the mission du jour. A crack shot with either the Beretta .25 Automatic Colt Pistol (earlier in the series) or the Walther PPK (later in the series), Bond knows about a zillion other ways to exercise his license to kill, employing all of them with horrifying regularity, with or without using his talents in hand-to-hand combat. Seemingly a master of baccarat, a game of both chance and skill depending on the variant, Agent 007 also is about a scratch golfer, a proficient overwater skier, a polished underwater diver and an adept automobile driver, especially of the odd Bentley. And thanks to the cover stories necessitated by the nature of his work, he has about as diverse a job history as any other james of all trades in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, J.J.! Well said! James Bond is definitely a VERY multi-talented fellow, and charismatic to boot. A suave near-superhero. Almost no real person could do all he did.

      Your comment reminds me that Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character also has plenty of skills — beats up the bad guys with his fists (or legs or head), expert shooter, former military investigator, super smart (including being intuitive about human psychology and rather well read), etc.

      Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, but less– and after deciding to do whatever he does to the bad guy, nearly always for his own reasons (and not his employer’s– shooting folks for your government’s ever-shifting security priorities without question is creepy– at least to me– by comparison).

            There is a thread of cruelty running through Bond and emanating from his author which was certainly picked up and elaborated in the movies. I don’t find it– or anything like as much of it, at least– in Lee Child’s books– but then, I find I enjoy them more than I ever enjoyed Fleming… and for a few reasons, some of which have to do with superior craftsmanship. Maybe my enjoyment has allowed me to see a distinction– a distinction without a difference?– but I see it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Very true, jhNY. Reacher is basically a lone wolf, and does have a moral compass. He’s not cruel for cruelty’s sake; he’s only as tough as he needs to be to dispatch the evildoers. I’d rather have Reacher as a friend than Bond!

              I’ve actually never read any Bond books — saw a couple of the movies — but I agree that Lee Child is an excellent writer. One is not just drawn in by the action, the plots, and the characters, but by the writing itself: lean, pitch-perfect, at times wry, and more.

              Liked by 1 person

          • Howdy, jhNY and Dave!

            — Also, a jokey psychopath, that J. Bond. (jhNY) True, jhNY. Jack Reacher has a bit of that, too (Dave) —

            My Ian Fleming period came in the last quarter of the last century of the last millennium, so my recollections of his works are a bit stale, but I personally do not remember the author (and, by extension, his most famous character) exhibiting a whole lot in the way of humor, which, of course, contrasts with films based on those same works, especially the SMERSH hit “Casino Royale” of 1967. Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond?* Funny, funny stuff.


            *“You can’t shoot me! I have a very low threshold of death. My doctor says I can’t have bullets enter my body at any time.”

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks, J.J.! As I mentioned, I’m hardly a Bond expert — having read no Ian Fleming books and seeing only a couple of movies. But interesting how Bond films (or spoofs of Bond films) might be somewhat more jokey than the novels. Another example of movies often trying to “entertain-erize” novels.

              And Woody Allen can be VERY funny. (My obvious statement of the month. 🙂 )


              • BTW, J.J., I’m now in the middle of reading my first novel by an author you recommended: Philip K. Dick. The apocalyptic “Dr. Bloodmoney” is excellent, and definitely holding my interest. (My local library didn’t have Dick’s more famous novels when I was there, so I picked “Dr. Bloodmoney” almost at random.)


                • — The apocalyptic “Dr. Bloodmoney” is excellent, and definitely holding my interest. —

                  Wow! I have neither read nor even heard of that one. I will have to put it on The List. (I love the homage to Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”!)

                  Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Dave, I’ll have to mention for the 100th time, my favorite amateur sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey. Not only was he a superior detective than anyone else in England, he was a wine connoisseur, a brilliant scholar (who graduated from Balliol College in Oxford with whatsoever honors they gave back then), someone who had a very nice tenor voice, who was well known as a famous cricketer and even held a job down within an advertising agency. I’m sure there are many more things, but one of books I read about the author, “Dorothy L. Sayers,” made the point that the author was in love with her creation. Perhaps.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lord Peter Wimsey is definitely a Renaissance man, Kat Lib. Thanks for mentioning him! Very nice description of his talents.

      Coincidentally, I just finished a draft of my March 13 book column, and it includes a mention of “Strong Poison” — in which, as you know, Wimsey first meets Harriet Vane. Thanks for recommending Dorothy L. Sayers to me a while ago!


    • Bought a Sayers collection in hardback, mostly due to your championing of the author, but then window installation and much moving about of tottering piles within my tiny apt. (still ongoing, every once in a while, for half a year[!]), and now I can’t lay my hands on it!

      You remind me I still have a goal: read Dorothy L. Sayers! I look forward to the happy day I have done so.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Of course, it’s common knowledge that Sherlock Holmes was not only a consulting detective, but also a passionate and able player of the violin.

    Less well-known, I think, is the former profession, long ago abandoned for a career in criminal mastermindery, of Professor Moriarty, in Holmes’ own words (which is to say, Doyle’s, but then all the words in his stories are):

    “He is a man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty. At the age of twenty-one he wrote a treatise upon the binomial theorem which has had a European vogue. On the strength of it, he won the mathematical chair at one of our smaller universities, and had, to all appearances, a most brilliant career before him.”

    Mathematics as foundation for later evil… it adds up. I now feel justified in sleeping through Algebra II– what looked like a teen in slumber was actually a noble battler against demonic forces. Alas, the forces of good proved mostly weak, and easily routed at test time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, jhNY, for mentioning those two Arthur Conan Doyle characters — and all that interesting background on the brilliant Professor Moriarty! I guess Dr. Watson also had a couple things going on during his life — medical doctor and assistant to/sounding board for Sherlock Holmes.


    • jhNY, I thought I was alone in my battle against the demonic forces. My years of suffering through Algebra classes and trying to break the evil code hidden in algebraic equations seem lighter now knowing there was a fellow sufferer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • jhNY and Clairdelune, I’ve always wondered why advanced, frustrating math (algebra, etc.) are taught in high school. Seems like basic math is enough to get most people through life.


        • We were, when I was in school, the unhappy subjects of a social experiment forged in the crucible of the Cold War: New Math. Like the push-ups and chin-ups and sit-ups we were required to perform so as to comport to the president’s fitness guidelines, the New Math was supposed to prepare us for a lifetime of technical competition with our enemies, the godless commies in the USSR.

          The New Math was visited on all, children and teachers, from a great height, and could not be avoided. I recall at least one of my teachers puzzling over our lesson along with us, and doing her damnedest not to look hopeless. She had been, but short weeks before, a competent instructor of arithmetic.

          I’ve intended, for years, to take a whack at math as an adult, and even bought a comprehensive introductory textbook which I cracked open and leafed through, but in that moment “I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

          Liked by 1 person

          • And now there’s Common Core math, which I experience weeknights via my younger daughter’s homework. CC math offers problems that can be solved in a simple/direct way, but forces students to go through all kinds of complicated steps to arrive at the answer. I hate it. Courtesy of the Pearson corporation, which is making a mint foisting this stuff on schools. Pearson also produces the awful standardized PARCC tests given every single year from 3rd to 11th grade. 😦


            • Having no children, I cannot know what it must be like to see Common Core foisted on the young, but it’s a shame, I think, that we cannot seem to craft a testable public school education, so that a NY employer, say, could look at a MD diploma and know he can hire its owner, expecting that diploma to represent the same standard and achievement here and there. Naturally, at our late stage of corrupted everything, we can only move in that direction but so far, and at the cost of empowering and overpaying corporatists of education.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I can see the benefit of some (loose) standardization of education across the U.S., but I’d prefer it be driven by the government in alliance with public school teachers — with no private corporations involved to profiteer from it. Of course, that’s a non-starter given the state of politics in the U.S. and the anti-teacher/anti-government hysteria of rich right-wingers who send their kids to private schools and only like government when it benefits themselves (which is quite often).


  12. Hi Dave, I’m not sure that I’m on the right track, but I again thought of Harry Potter. I thought JK Rowling was very clever in taking us to so many different classes at Hogwarts. Some were quite academic, while some involved a lot of wand waving. And some seemed more than a little like chemistry. And of course there was Harry’s extracurricular love of Quidditch. With all that going on, I’m not sure how he found time to defeat You Know Who!

    Maugham’s Philip Carey was also quite busy, trying to paint, studying medicine, and eventually becoming a doctor. And I think, he spent a short time as an accountant, but I could be thinking of a Dickens character?

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were definitely some multi-talented students, professors, and others in the “Harry Potter” series, and Hogwarts was a school that (usually) helped make that happen. (The Dursleys, who of course never were at Hogwarts, were not so talented — except in negative behavior.) Harry was not an exceptional academic, but he certainly had resourcefulness, common sense, courage, and — as you noted — plenty of Quidditch ability. Funny last line in your first paragraph, Susan!

      And, yes, Philip Carey did a LOT of things. If I’m remembering right, he also might have worked in a big store directing people to different places in the store. But, as is the case with your Dickens character reference, I might be thinking of another book. 🙂 Thanks again for getting me to read the terrific “Of Human Bondage”!


      • Hi Dave, I really wanted to comment here before you posted your next topic, but somehow the weekend just got away from me. I don’t remember Philip working in any kind of store, but it has been a few years since my last reading of “Of Human Bondage”. I wish I had more time for re-reading 😦

        For what it’s worth, I agree with you about Sanders over Clinton. Not that I can vote of course. Though as the election could have an impact on the rest of the world, I think we all should get a say! I’ve not actually followed a U.S. Election before, but the Republican options are so frightening, that I can’t help but be interested. Reading a Facebook conversation the other day, a GOP supporter said that the Democrats knew nothing about their party, and that they could come up with no positive reasons to get behind the candidates. The best thing they could say about Clinton and Sanders was that they weren’t Trump. I’m still trying to figure out how that’s not enough.

        I also completely agree with Bebe’s earlier comment about the respect on this site. Politics can be such a heated topic, and if Facebook is anything to judge by, it can make people quite vicious. Though I’m not remotely surprised that there can be political conversation here without it becoming nasty, I am very grateful.

        Hope you had a terrific weekend 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hope you’ve had a great weekend, too!

          Yes, the U.S. election will have a big impact on the rest of the world; I can just imagine the horror so many countries would feel if Trump won. You and others outside the U.S. SHOULD have a say. 🙂

          Actually, unlike the Republican supporter on Facebook, I think there are strong reasons to get behind Sanders and some reasons to get behind Clinton besides the two of them not being Trump.

          Last but not least, I appreciate your kind words about the respectful conversation on this site! I’m grateful for it, too, and — as you say — things can get pretty heated on Facebook and elsewhere. Thanks for being part of the respectful talk here!


  13. I’m taking another angle if I may. We all know Superman was a mild mannered reporter working at a metropolitan newspaper by day,Superhero extraordinaire by night. When I was a young girl I so enjoyed the Batman series from tv with Adam West and company. In the beginning of the show,the caped crusaders were animated. If the girl I idolized,Batgirl,was on the program,you would see her riding a motorcycle via animation. Boy was I happy ! She was a librarian by day,hipster superhero after hours. I so wanted to have the secret room,turn into this tough,free spirited young woman. Wear a hip leather outfit and ride a motorcycle too boot!
    As far as George W., you mentioned his other “jobs.” What he really would have preferred to be I read from a credible person,was Commissioner of baseball.

    I laughed when read Maureen Dowd in The NYT say he came out of his painting exile to what was, no surprise, an ill fated endorsement of his brother Jeb. Heck their respective mother the revered Barbara couldn’t even help. Bye Jeb. If only the shady, bombastic, narcissist Trump would spontaneously combust. Add his pal Chris Christie your governor, looks like your stuck with him till Jan 2018. Hillary,THANK GOODNESS, will,most assuredly,be our next President of the United States.😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Michele! I greatly enjoyed your lines about multi-talented superheroes, male and female. 🙂

      I’ve heard about George W. wanting to be commissioner of baseball more than U.S. president. He might have done a rotten job in that Bud Selig-ish role, but think of all the lives that would have been saved if Bush hadn’t been in the White House to start the disastrous Iraq War.

      Yes, what a total washout his brother Jeb’s campaign was. And it irks me when people like him and Marco Rubio are labeled as moderates. They might not be quite as right-wing as someone like Ted Cruz, but they’re pretty darn conservative — and not even remotely nice people when one thinks about their vicious policy positions. Anti-poor, etc.

      Having Chris Christie as governor is indeed depressing. He’s an opportunistic bully, and that’s an understatement.

      While I prefer Bernie Sanders, I’d definitely vote for Hillary if she got the Democratic nomination.


      • During Cruz’s filibuster, he spent much time lavishing praise on Rubio, and held him up to the viewers of C-SPAN as a model of senatorial and conservative behavior, calling Rubio’s election to the US Senate a “transformational” moment in US politics. That would be because, so far as voting records are concerned, Cruz and he hold nearly identical voting records. Both are radical conservatives. One seems, to many, more attractive than the other. Which only underscores the deep unseriousness of our political discourse, despite the hour and the stakes.

        Liked by 2 people

        • A lot of insights in your comment, jhNY. Thanks!

          Yes, politicians say nice things to each other, then savage each other, then make up, etc., etc. So inauthentic. Heck, Chris Christie blasted Trump while he (Christie) was in the presidential race and then of course endorsed him afterward.

          And Cruz and Rubio are indeed ideological peas in a pod, but Rubio seems more “moderate” because he’s not as abrasive as Cruz. Reminds me a bit of the Reagan phenomenon — Ronald seemed like sort of a nice guy, but his policies were atrocious (though some of them were less far-right than most of the GOP mindset today).


  14. Great topic Dave..could not help myself what immediately popped in my mind.
    In real life W twice elected President and also a painter he claims to be.

    Seriously, thanks for mentioning Paul Robeson what a powerful voice and actor, activist.

    Liked by 1 person

          • Really nice that his music was played in your family, bebe! I didn’t learn about Paul Robeson until I was in college (Rutgers, which Robeson graduated from in 1919), and was struck by how little known such a talented man was. He had been mostly erased from America’s history books because of his leftist views. I have two of his albums — one with songs from when he was a young man and another from his famous Carnegie Hall concert in 1958, when the McCarthy era was ebbing.

            Liked by 1 person

              • bebe, so great that your cousins knew his music!

                Interesting to think how Paul Robeson would be received in America now. He’d be admired by many, but vilified by the right wing as much as he was in the 1950s. Heck, when one thinks of how our biracial President is treated so contemptuously by right-wing racists, and Obama is centrist/somewhat liberal not a leftist.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Exactly Dave..this 2016 election is becoming an American nightmare. Now looking back indication of Trump`s racism was evident when he challenged Obama`s birthright. Then there is Cruz worse and dangerous than anyone there, he is smart and manipulative. Who votes for Cruz if he is disliked by all.
                  You are correct on Obama he is more centrist than once thought before.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • GREAT point, bebe. Trump’s “birther” nonsense against Obama really confirmed how racist and fact-free The Donald is. And you’re right that Cruz is SO disliked. I’ve read that not one of his fellow Senators has endorsed him. I agree that he’s actually worse than Trump. 😦


              • Two great links indeed relevant to today, as “Bill” Faulkner would understand. Over the years, I’ve read several Robeson biographies that gave a good sense of the right-wing-instigated Peekskill riots. But the Woody Guthrie/Trump’s father stuff was unknown to me until recently.


          • bebe, thanks for the clip of Paul Robeson. I saw a revival of Showboat on Broadway (it could have been 10 years ago, ,I just don’t remember),but hearing that song brought tears to my eyes. .

            Liked by 2 people

        • Dave and Bebe: Paul Robeson – one of my favorite singers. Spent hours as a teen listening over and over to “Ol’ Man River”, finding delight in the beauty of that perfect combination of voice and music.

          Liked by 2 people

          • “…perfect combination of voice and music” — wonderful way to describe Paul Robeson and “Ol’ Man River,” Clairdelune!

            I also liked the way Robeson, in his later years, revised the lyrics of the song a bit to give it less resignation (such as changing “ah’m tired of living/an’ skeered of dying” to “I must keep fighting/until I’m dying”).

            Great that you’re a fan of his music!


    • Thank you, bebe! Chuckled at your George W. Bush reference. He’s done several things — as you know, Texas Rangers president, Texas governor, U.S. President, painter…and has done them all either in a so-so way or terribly. In his little finger, Paul Robeson had more integrity and talent than Bush has in his entire body.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
          Van Morrison
          Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
          Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
          Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
          Long way from my home
          Sometimes I wish I could fly
          Like a bird up in the sky
          Oh, sometimes I wish I could fly
          Fly like a bird up in the sky
          Sometimes I wish I could fly
          Like a bird up in the sky
          Closer to my home
          Motherless children have a hard time
          Motherless children have-a such a hard time
          Motherless children have such a really hard time
          A long way from home
          Sometimes I feel like freedom is near
          Sometimes I feel like freedom is here
          Sometimes I feel like freedom is so near
          But we’re so far from home

          Liked by 1 person

            • Also, Richie Havens at Woodstock– and possibly elsewhere. A gracious man, and kind. I spent the better part of a day with him in a recording studio, going over those very recordings. I think it was the first time he’d heard everything he did at Woodstock. He was eventually winging it, having long before run out of all rehearsed material…

              Liked by 1 person

              • Oh, the parts of “Freedom” with the repeated “sometimes I feel like a motherless child” line?

                So great that you worked with Richie Havens, and that he was such a nice guy. As for winging the latter part of his performance, what a winging job he did!

                I think “Freedom” and Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” are my favorite Woodstock moments.


                • “Oh, the parts of “Freedom” with the repeated “sometimes I feel like a motherless child” line?” Yes– though I think he also does a bit more of it than just sing that one line.

                  My guess: he heard the song as sung by Nina Simone, and made his own way through it.

                  So you’re saying that Albert Lee and the watermelon was not your Woodstock high point?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Oh, you’re right — more than that one line.

                    If only STAN Lee had played Woodstock and, anticipating the 1970s David Bowie, used the backing band The Spider-Men from Mars…


              • jhNY, I thought I posted this before, but I can’t find my comment, so here goes (and sorry if it’s a repeat). Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, I was a friend of someone who owned a restaurant/bar, but also got musical talents booked for weekend concerts. One of those was Richie Havens, who put on a great show. Another one that I loved was Laura Nyro (and we sat through both of her sets). There was Livingston Taylor and a member of The Band (can’t remember which one) and others that I can’t now remember. There goes my brain again! 🙂
                bebe, as to Van Morrison, I love so many of his songs and albums that I hate to seem negative, but after paying $300 to see him at the Tower Theater in Philly, he put on a mediocre performance (not to mention that one of my group was totally upset that Morrison decreed that no alcohol could be served, as is usually the case at these types of concerts). However, I do love “Astral Weeks”.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Nice memories– and I know what you mean about your brain– mine is working similarly nowadays. I am amazed by what I can still remember, but more by what I seem to have forgotten– though sometimes I remember whatever it was hours later…

                  Just finished recommending Astral Weeks up the page a bit!

                  Liked by 1 person

          • Here’s a song with a similar theme, by Blind Willie Johnson:

            and here’s another Johnson song, this one actually traveling through space now on Voyager I, as a way of introducing strangers to humanity, should they care to construct an LP player to hear it! I’d say the tune is way over-complimentary to ourselves…:

            and here’s another, because he’s just that kind of great:

            Liked by 2 people

            • Tremendous stuff, jhNY. Thank you! You always link to great music I’ve had little or no previous exposure to. And having that Voyager I honor is so nice — though posthumous stuff like that of course doesn’t come close to making up for not getting the recognition one deserves when alive.


              • He was Columbia’s best-selling race artist well into the 1930’s, if I recall my old reading on him, and was probably paid a little for each side he made with them.

                The photo (I think it’s the only one made of him), untrimmed, reveals a sort of home-made capo: a pencil held tightly against strings by the force of many rubber bands. He played on the streets of Texas, Beaumont, I think, till he died. And his death was all bound up in poverty too– his house caught fire, and though he wand his wife made it out all right, having nowhere else to go, they returned to what was left and tried to live. The fire department’s water that saved the house also soaked the mattress, which they tried to cover (before plastic bags were around)– but the damp soaked through, Willie Johnson got pneumonia, and shortly thereafter, died.

                At least that’s what I recall– the reading on the man I did was 40 years ago or more.

                Liked by 1 person

                  • My memory has proved, and not for the first time, faulty. That capo is missing from the photograph I cited. I got him mixed up with somebody else (most likely Sleepy John Estes– guess I should do some rereadin’).

                    But what I didn’t mention is: the tin cup tied to his guitar’s headstock, placed there for easy donating. That’s how he made his daily bread, playing religious music in the streets.

                    Liked by 1 person

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