December rambling: Fudge

Hanukkah in Santa Monica times 8


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Meeting of Congress

Fueling Inequality, Earnings of the Top 0.1% in the US Have Soared by 465% Since 1979. The bottom 90% saw earnings growth of just 29% between 1979 and 2021, the Economic Policy Institute found.
Jewish Groups Say GOP Is Pushing Antisemitism
Alan Singer: Is Holocaust Education an Antidote to Anti-Semitism?

Did George Santos lie about everything? The representative-elect (R-NY), who allegedly made up his life story, explained.

Republicans turn final House hearing on far-right violence into a clown show

Arthur answers Roger: Ranking Choices (voting) and  Indepen-dunce

Should Doctors Warn Patients About the Downsides of Medicare Advantage Plans?

Census Bureau: LGBT Adults Report More Anxiety, Depression at All Ages

Book About ‘War on Ivermectin’ Distributed by Major Publishing House — “Infuriating to see misinformation mongers being taken seriously”

Celebrities Shilling Crypto Face More Than Just Mockery

Why Economists Study Demographic Change

Barbara Walters, Trailblazing Broadcast Journalist, Dies at 93 – I started watching her on the TODAY show.

Franco Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers’ legendary running back, dies at 72. He and I had the same birthday, albeit three years apart.

Soccer great Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele: 1940-2022

Paul Silas, 3-time NBA champion and longtime coach dies at 79

Walking Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)

New VIP+ Special Report: Mobile Sports Gambling and  Media

How to be a helpful host to your friends with food allergies

John Oliver on  trash

Still not sure why a “door” nail, though . . .

Comics arrested onstage

What is the Democracy’s Library?


Academy Awards releases its shortlist of 10-15 nominees in 10 categories

Celebrities who died in 2022 from Vanity Fair and TCM

Cory Doctorow: A Year in Illustration

SATIRE: Elon Musk Named Most Exhausting Person of 2022

Orange crush

Trump still has no credible response to the Jan 6  report

He somehow avoided a Mandatory IRS Tax Audit for two years as President

David Whelan, Paul’s brother, gives him a tongue-lashing for his reaction to Brittney Griner’s release

His trading card images appear to have been lifted from catalogs and stock collections

‘His World Is So, So Small’: Former Adviser Says He Cracked  During White House Isolation


Tell Me If You Still Care – Kevin Flournoy, ft. Phil Perry and Shannon Pearson, with Rebecca Jade on background vocals

Speaking of RJ: 2022 Year-End BEATS Magazine noted Breakout Artist: Rebecca Jade (p. 22) and Best Artist: Dave Koz, with whom Rebecca toured in December 2022

Hollywood Reporter Music Editor Picks the 10 Best Songs of 2022, most of which I have never heard of

AmeriNZ: 2022 pop music mashups

Eight versions of the Tom Lehrer classic Hanukkah in Santa Monica. It also includes the Maccabees ‘ Latke Recipe. which is to the tune of Shut Up and Dance by Walk The Moon, a song from 2014 that I managed to have missed.

Istanbul – They Might Be Giants

Dino Danelli, the original drummer of The (Young) Rascals, dies at 79

Musical discovery in 2022

Francis Albert Sinatra

Janis.Jorma.typewriterThere’s a blogger who does this EOY thing. I’m going just to pick off the music categories right now.

What was your greatest musical discovery in 2022?

It was weird. I bought more music than in the previous two years combined. Almost none were from artists who first started recording in the 21st century.

I just received this. Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen – The Legendary Typewriter Tape: 6/25/64 at Jorma’s House. Haven’t given it a sufficient listen, but I will.
Nobody Loves You When You’re Down And Out

One item I got was a boxed set. Twelve CDs of Steeleye Span. I think I MIGHT have one LP of theirs. But it was the fact that it was relatively inexpensive (c. $60) that sealed the deal.
Thomas The Rhymer

I bought a new Elvis Costello album, The Boy Named If. This is another one with the Imposters. I have about a third of Elvis’ 30-odd albums. It’s always hard to hear old music by older artists without comparing them with other works in their oeuvre. I’ll need to listen to it some more.
The Death Of Magic Thinking

The same is largely true of Bonnie Raitt’s first album in six years, Just Like That… It’s never less than solid, but it’ll need a few more spins.
Down The Hall

Perhaps the most interesting album I listened to was from a guy who died in 1998. Frank Sinatra put out Watertown, a concept album, in late 1969. The main composer of the album is Bob Gaudio of Four Seasons fame. It was re-released in 2022 with additional tracks. I think it works.

I did get SOME newer music. I enjoyed Jon Batiste’s 2022 Grammy Award-winning album, WE ARE.                                                                                                     Cry

Older tunes

And there are some other older albums I picked up. After seeing the Broadway production of David Byrne’s American Utopia on television, I bought the Broadway Original Cast Recording. While not as good as viewing it, it was mighty fine.
I Should Watch TV 

The 1992 album Partners by accordion player Flaco Jimenez features a lot of guests, including Stephen Stills, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt
Don’t Worry Baby, featuring Los Lobos

Of course, I listened to a lot of extant music. Recently, my wife asked me how many CDs I had. I guesstimated about 2000. Then I counted them. And by counting, I tabulated the number in a drawer and multiplied because math. It’s closer to 3000. And if you HAVE that many CDs, you ought to PLAY them. And I do.

Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

First, a story that I might have told before in part. After the Paul Simon album Graceland came out, there was a 12-inch version of Boy In The Bubble that came out. I heard it on the radio, probably the local Q104, and I loved it. So I ran to my nearest record store and asked to order it. For whatever reason, it never arrived. I did record my friend Rocco’s vinyl onto a cassette, which is probably still in my attic somewhere.

I bought the Paul Simon box set at some point, hoping it would be on there. No luck. Then after 2011, I bought the 25th-anniversary version; surely, IT would contain the track I sought. Alas, no. BTW, I sent my old copy of the CD to some blogger who wasn’t familiar with Graceland.

Finally, this year, Rocco downloaded the track and burned me a CD.
Boy In The Bubble (12-inch)
Some lyrics:

The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky…
Staccato signals of constant information
A loose affiliation of millionaires
And billionaires and baby
These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long-distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all, oh yeah

The reasons I don’t drive

I can burn out a clutch in a minute

I don't driveIn response to this post about being reluctant to ask for help, Lisa asked, “Have you ever written a post about the reasons you don’t drive?”

The reasons I don’t drive are… I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever fully addressed this topic. The answer is that while I have undoubtedly touched on it, I don’t know that I have come up with a definitive analysis. Or that there is one.

Growing up, my parents both drove. My grandfather Mac surely did and loved it; he was a real car guy. Both of my sisters drive.

But I never had any particular desire to learn when I was growing up. In Binghamton, I walked a lot; I used to traverse 2.4 miles to a church each week, coincidentally very near where my parents would eventually move to in Johnson City. Usually, I would walk back, though I occasionally got a ride.


In college, my girlfriend, the Okie, had a car, a blue Saab station wagon with standard transmission. She briefly tried to teach me how to drive it but almost immediately started screaming, “You’re burning out my clutch!” That was the only time I tried that.

I had, as I’ve noted, seven different driver’s permits over a nearly 20-year period, six in New York and one in North Carolina. Not incidentally, I know the rules of the road better than most drivers. People threatened to teach me but only took me out on the road once or not at all.

Once, I took the Okie’s next car, a red thing with a push-button transmission. I was trying to go forward but went in reverse instead and hit a full-size Dumpster, knocking it over but doing no apparent damage to the vehicle.

I did drive once from Schenectady to Albany at 3 a.m. because the driver was too drunk. Going straight was fine, but my right turn was… a little wide.

The lesson

In 1987, a friend of mine told me about a job in the music business they thought I would be well suited for. But it involved having a license and a car. So I decided to go to a driving school.

As I noted here, “As directed, I was driving south on Watervliet Avenue… He told me to turn left. So I turned onto Livingston Avenue…, but he wanted me to have taken 3rd Street. Inexplicably, he started screaming at me. Livingston was a 90 left turn, while 3rd street was more like 120 degrees.

It’s one thing for your friends and family to decide they don’t want to teach you or don’t have the time. It’s quite another for a paid stranger to decide you’re doing it all wrong ten minutes into the lesson.

The mind

But this doesn’t really answer WHY I never felt particularly compelled to learn, except for that one time. I really don’t know. When I was a kid, I had a recurring dream about being in the back seat of a car that crashed through the Court Street bridge in Binghamton and began sinking into the Chenango River. Now that I think of it, I don’t think there was any driver.

A friend of mine wondered if I feared Driving While Black. Not consciously, but as I learned about more incidents, including at least one in Albany, it did make me more comfortable being the passenger.

Maybe it’s because I never thought I would ever pass the driver’s test. It’s that I was convinced I could never learn to parallel park since turning the steering wheel while going backward in the car totally bollocks my brain. I also have terrible spatial recognition in reverse, even with the mirrors.

In any case, if I DID have a license, I wouldn’t drive after dark because my night vision is increasingly deficient.

On the other hand

The positive of not driving is that I am very good at negotiating most transit systems. I tend to judge cities by how good or awful I can get around without a car.

When my daughter and I visited two colleges on Long Island and in New York City in the summer of 2021, we took Amtrak to Penn Station, then the LIRR; later, back on the LIRR to NYC. The next day, we took the subway, and when one line was going to be delayed, we hopped on another train. We could have taken the CDTA to the local train station if we had needed to.

One of the things my daughter has realized is that when you leave your house in your car five minutes late, you usually get to your destination five minutes late. But if you leave to catch a bus five minutes late, this could make you 15, 30, or 60 minutes late, or totally stuck, depending on the schedule.

Something I’ve used at least thrice this year is Uber. On my daughter’s prom night this spring, with her mother asleep at 3 a.m., I retrieved my kid via two Uber rides.

When you don’t drive, you figure stuff out.

Stormy weather (Roger answers)


stormy weather.BuffaloThe first question for Ask Roger Anything , about stormy weather, comes from Kelly Sedinger.

The storm will be past by the time you answer this, but when you hear about storms like this, what’s your level of anxiety? I waffle between “WE got this” and “OMG, we are SO screwed.”

I should note that Kelly is from western New York, near Buffalo. His area experienced Snowvember, so notable – snow taller than Kelly, it appears – that a YouTuber came to town to document the aftermath.

But the storm just before Christmas sounded much worse: high winds, plummeting temperatures, plus considerable snow. Now I took it seriously. I put the garbage cans on the porch, with the heavier recycle bin keeping the trash can in place. My wife went out in the car around 3 pm to deposit a check but after ten minutes, and the temperature drops ten degrees Fahrenheit (more than two degrees Celsius), she gave up.

Still, the Albany experience, aside from the cold temperatures, c. 14F/-10C, was not bad. A little black ice; the hilltowns always fare worse around here.

The Buffalo area, conversely, had what was described as a Category Two hurricane but with snow instead of rain, with blizzard conditions that killed over two dozen people in Erie County, NY,  alone.

And the bad weather wasn’t confined to that area. A member of our church choir and their spouse, trying to fly on Southwest Airlines, were stuck in the Denver airport for days. The water system in Jackson, MS failed AGAIN.

The answer to the question is: 1) yes, I take it seriously, but 2) it was far worse in much of the country than I would have anticipated.


On 60 Minutes in early November 2022, there was a segment on What prepping looks like in 2022: Stocking up and skilling up for extreme catastrophes. While one apparently has to be on Paramount+ to access the video, the text is here.

It begins: “If you hear the term ‘survivalist’ and it conjures images of militants and conspiracy theorists— residing on the fringes and on compounds, armed to the teeth—well, it’s time to reset your doomsday clock.

“A worldwide community of preppers – those who stockpile goods and skill-up for extreme catastrophes – is girding less for the end of days, than for a disaster that calls for taking cover. A climate emergency, civil unrest, the possibility of a dirty bomb, to say nothing of a global pandemic that suddenly shuts down the world. It was COVID that turned abstract apocalyptic scenarios into a reality.”

The story did have us inventory what water and ready-to-eat foods we had on hand. Should we get a backup generator? The Buffalo blizzard reignited the conversation, as did the folks who shot at the power grid in North Carolina this autumn, shutting it down for days.

I’m not freaking out. I won’t become a survivalist tomorrow. BUT SHTF takes place with increasing frequency. So over time, I’m inclined to want to become more prepared for… whatever.

Thinking back over the year

book decisions

Fran AlleeEach year I complete a year-end survey that Kelly uses. So when Sunday Stealing posted, Thinking back over the year, I was thinking about skipping it.

But then I pondered, “What if I come up with DIFFERENT answers to some of the repeated questions?” Ooo, fun! I’ll probably post the Kelly iteration, which I’ve already completed, on the 1st or 2nd of January.

 What did you do this year that you had not done before?

Play Wordle and several other word games. I wrote about that here and will address this again soon after I reach game #300.

Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions/goals for the year, and will you make/set more for next year?  What are they? What are your new ones?

I had never found making resolutions particularly useful except a couple of times when I decided to leave two different jobs.

What was the best book you read this year?  How many did you read?

I started LOTS of books. I skimmed a great deal, especially regarding baseball. This is because my cousin-in-law, Diane, gave me a bunch from the collection of her late husband, Jack, whom I liked greatly. So I had to decide what would be shelved on the second floor, which I could access readily; these tended to be statistics. The rest go to the attic, where I actually have more bookcases!

The health of others

Did anyone you know die? Or have a serious illness/injury?

Several passed away, who I’ll mention next week. I’m going to write about one who died in December.

Fran Allee (pictured) was a real force at my previous church for many years, elegant, eloquent, and intelligent. Over three decades, she cooked hundreds of church meals and even nudged me to make dinners for 40 people. The Thursday before Thanksgiving, she would make seven different types of stuffing, and they were all delicious.

Each summer, for years, she had several people out to her cottage about 40 minutes from Albany, NY. This involved a Bible study led by Jim Kalas, who also died this year.

Her marriage to her widowed old friend Jack in her late 60s ended when he passed away less than two years later. She was 104 when she died!

Two friends, one from church and a hearts buddy, dealt with cancer this year. The latter reportedly is much better. The former is home for the holidays from the hospital as they respond well to ongoing treatment.

A church friend who I haven’t seen all year because of various injuries, but we believe they’ll be back early next year.

Oh, and my wife’s cellulitis, described in part here.

What places have you visited?

I didn’t go anywhere outside Massachusetts and New York State in 2022.

Any new pets? Lost a pet?

No, and no.


What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn’t have to be a physical thing, i.e., love, job security, peace of mind…)?

I just watched a CBS News piece on Watergate that I had recorded six months ago about President Richard Nixon’s downfall in 1974. I would love to have the U.S. Republican Party comparable to that back then, with members who put principle over party instead of supporting terrible candidates (US Senate candidate Herschel Walker, e.g.) and tolerating intolerable public officials (Congressperson Marjorie Taylor Greene, for one).

What date from this year will remain etched in your memory and why?

June 13. My daughter and I went to Carnegie Hall, which I noted here.

What was your biggest achievement this year?

Helping to get some new folks on the FFAPL board.

Did you get sick or injured?

My whole family had COVID in late August, which I wrote about here. It wasn’t that bad, truth to tell, but I’d been inoculated frequently.

What was the best thing you bought?


Where did most of your disposable income (money left over after paying for food, medical care, basic clothing, transportation, and shelter) go?


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