Sunday Stealing: traveled

travel advisories

This week’s Sunday is all about where I’ve traveled, or want to.

1. Have you traveled abroad? Where have you been? If you haven’t been overseas, which country would you most like to visit?

Barbados, 1999; France, 2023; Mexico, at least twice in the 1980 and/or 1990s; Canada, several times, most recently in Ontario in 2011

2. Where did you go on your last trip? Talk about where you went and what you did.

The last trip abroad? I wrote a LOT about France in 2023. One of the most recent posts was this. The last trip out of state was in Las Vegas, NV, also in 2023; one of those posts is here.

3. What is the best place for a vacation in your country? Why is it good?

I have no idea. It tends to be a personal thing. I’m not one to hang out on the beach. Since my 1994 knee injury, I haven’t gone climbing. Generally speaking, I like places that are walkable (Savannah, GA; Newport, RI) or have decent mass transit (many, but not all,  major cities). 

4. What is the longest time you have been away from home? Did you feel homesick?

We’re not counting college or the like, I suspect. Maybe two weeks. I wouldn’t call it homesick as much as tired of living from a suitcase, since none of those trips were going to one place and staying there.

How long is too long?

5. How long should a vacation be? How long does it take you to really relax?

I may be constitutionally incapable of relaxing on vacation. In the ’80s, when I worked at FantaCo, the owner FORCED me to take some time. So I took eight successive Wednesdays off. I could pay bills, do chores, and see a matinee. 

6. What forms of transportation do you prefer to use when you travel?

All things being equal, I always prefer the train, the only civilized form of transportation. It’s a pain in the US because freight trains take precedence over passenger trains for access to the tracks.

7. How do you choose where to go? Are you inspired by other people’s travel stories? Or photos? Or advertising?

I went to Las Vegas because I had never been to Las Vegas. There were family reunions in Peterborough, ON, Canada in 2011 and Ashtabula, OH in 2016, and we found things to do en route. If I were going to a US city, I would check out the CityPASS program. It was great when my family went to Toronto, ON, Canada in 2011. 

8. What’s more important to you when you travel – comfort and relaxation, or stimulating new experiences?

New experiences, obviously, since relaxation is not my strength.

9. Do you like to try local foods when you go somewhere? Have you ever had something really delicious?

I had some food in old Montreal in 1991 or 1992. I don’t remember what it was, but it was very good. The food in France was generally great.


10. Things can go wrong when you travel. Have you had any bad travel experiences?

By far, the worst travel experience was flying into JFK from Barbados in May 1999. The Customs line was terrible. Actually, entering France at DeGaulle in 2023 was pretty chaotic too.

11. Do you take a lot with you when you travel? Or do you try to pack light?

As little as possible.

12. Which places in the world do you think are too dangerous to visit? Why are they dangerous?

I’d use the US State Department travel advisory list. As of today, Burma (Myanmar), Belarus, South Sudan, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Libya, Mali, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Yemen, Burkina Faso, and Central African Republic are all listed as Level 4: Do Not Travel.  Israel/the West Bank/Gaza and Mexico are mixed bags. Dave Koz was going to have a music cruise featuring Rebecca Jade that would have included Israel, but after October 7, 2023, the itinerary was changed. 

13. What is the best age to travel? Can children appreciate the experience?

The younger your joints, the better. Of course, children can appreciate the experience. My daughter went on those reunion circuits.  

Going it alone

14. What are the advantages and disadvantages of traveling alone?

My 1998 trip to Detroit, Cleveland, and Washington, DC was by myself. It was great. But going to France or Las Vegas would have likely been boring and logistically challenging going by myself.

15. What kind of accommodation do you like to stay in when you travel?

In France, we were at four very different venues, from a lovely modern hotel to an equivalent of a B&B. It was all good.  

16. Do you like to talk to the local people when you travel? Why or why not?

Always. Even in France, it was great, and my French was tres mal. Also, talking to people on the train has historically been fruitful.  

17. Would you like to go to a big international event, such as the Olympics or an international film festival? What would be good or bad about attending such an event?

I’ve been to two cities the year before the Olympics: Atlanta in 1995, and Paris in 2023. I’m pretty sure I would have hated being there the following years because of the touristy crowds. But I could imagine going to the Toronto Film Festival because people are there to see the movies. 

June rambling: Schedule F

Donald Sutherland


Washington Park on Willett Street between Lancaster and Streets, Albany, NY, Friday, June 21, 2024, after the storm the day before (ROG)

djt’s Second Term: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and his Schedule F plan, explained

The Limits of Originalism (SCOTUS)

Deep-Sea Mining and UK Elections: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Europe is Healthier than the USBut it’s not about the physical (although it makes the stage more dramatic), it’s about the work/life balance. About third spaces that encourage being around people, in a way that’s deeper than a brutal transactionalism.

The US is about the individual, to a hyper degree. Everyone is so focused on being emancipated from everything, freed from any “outdated” obligations, that they end up in an empty loneliness.

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Why Physical Media is Having a Comeback

Bill Cobbs, Actor in ‘Night at the Museum’ and many others Dies at 90. He was one of those character actors I learned to recognize in film and episodic television. 

Martin Mull, Funnyman and ‘Fernwood 2 Night’ Star, Dies at 80

The Real (Weird) Way We See Numbers

Now I Know: How Bad Film Captured an Explosion and The Nobel Prize Winner Who Bet Against Himself and The Dead Parrot Society and The Case of the Mousey Soup

Kelly’s Sunday Stealing. He is the greatest cheerleader for Pie I’ve ever known.

Alex Trebek Forever stamps

Donald Sutherland 1935 – 2024 

The obituary and Hollywood tributes

I saw him in LOTS of movies: The Dirty Dozen (1967) – as a “crazed/dazed Pvt.” at the drive-in with my parents and sisters.

MAS*H (1970) – the original anti-establishment Army medic Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce;  I saw it again on TV when WXXA, Channel 23, first broadcast in Albany in 1982. The station showed it on the first Sunday morning it broadcast at 8 a.m.; I thought it was a strange choice

 Klute (1971) -” a private eye who falls for a prostitute (his then real-life romantic partner Jane Fonda)”

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) – the pot-smoking professor

Ordinary People (1980) – a friend of mine describes this movie as like his growing up with a controlling mother (the Mary Tyler Moore character) and ineffectual father (Sutherland)

Backdraft (1991) – pyromaniac; JFK (1991) – conspiracy theorist 

Undoubtedly many others.

What struck me in a 2017 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper was this exchange:

If there’s a slight sadness about Sutherland it may be because his childhood in Canada wasn’t easy. He survived polio as a toddler and spent all of fourth grade at home with rheumatic fever. He was an awkward kid. Tall with big ears, at school they called him Dumbo. When he was 16, he had a question for his mother.

Donald Sutherland: And I went to her and I said: “Mother, am I good looking?” And my mother looked at me and went. “Your face has character, Donald.” And I went and hid in my room for at least a day.

Anderson Cooper: Did what she say stay with you?

Donald Sutherland: Not really. Just– just for– 65, 66 years.

Donald Sutherland: It’s not easy, Anderson. It’s not easy to know that you’re an ugly man, in the business like I’m in.

Anderson Cooper: Do you think of yourself as an ugly man?

Donald Sutherland: Unattractive is a gentler way of putting it.

Ouch! I never thought that.

Kelly posted some music.


I’m constantly reminded that technology is fine until it’s not. When the Massachusetts 911 system went down on Tuesday, June 18, I received an alert to that effect. I do not know why. A program intended to secure the state’s system caused the firewall to stop calls from reaching dispatch centers. Or something like that.

About 15 minutes later, while I was at a book review at the library, almost everyone’s phone started buzzing. It was rather startling and worrisome. It was the New York State 911 system letting us know that OUR state’s system was NOT down.


I Have Nothing – Peter Sprague featuring Rebecca Jade

Licks Off Of Records – Martin Mull

Mandela’s Blues – Kinky Friedman

Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Grateful Dead, which reminded me of the time I saw the Jerry Garcia Band in New Paltz on November 29, 1977

 Coverville 1492: The John Wetton Cover Story and 1493: Purple Rain 40th Anniversary

Had To Cry Today – Peter Sprague featuring Leonard Patton

March Of The Belgian Paratroopers by Pierre Leemans.

Star 69 – R.E.M.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite – Dick Van Dyke and Jason Alexander

Summer church

we may find release from fear of rattling saber, from dread of war’s increase

Stolen from a different First Presbyterian Church

I sing in the church choir for most of the school/church year, from mid-September to mid-June. We sing an anthem, the offertory, and another piece or two. But in summer church, I’m part of the congregation. In some respects, it’s nice. I get to sit with my wife, e.g.

On the other hand, congregational singing tends to be in unison. When you’re used to singing in four-part harmony – bass, or occasionally, second tenor – singing the melody for three or five verses is… less interesting. But singing in parts when everyone around you sings the top line is a little strange sonically. It’s not that I haven’t done that, but still.

I can tell that other choir members feel the same thing. Last week, after the passing of the peace, we sang the Gloria Patri by Henry Wellington Greatorex. I happened to be standing near four basses and an alto. Know for sure we were singing parts. (I looked for church recordings, but like this one, the melody overwhelms.


I was sitting near the tenor soloist, who sang the psalter, the communion music, and other pieces. Without any prior agreement, we sang the hymns with at least the middle verses in parts.

The opening hymn was Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. (You can hear some harmony in the middle verses, plus a descant in the final verse in this recording of a Westminster Abbey Commonwealth Day Service 2020. It is based on Psalm 103,” originally written in German by Joachim Neander (1650-80), translated into English by Catherine Winkworth (1827-78) and others. Set to the tune, LOBE DEN HERREN, which is the melody to ‘Hast du denn, Liebster’ in 17th-century German collections.”

Hymn #2  was O God of Every Nation with words William Watkins Reid, Jr. from 1958. This recording was created by one of those virtual COVID choir choirs, which lets one hear the parts much easier.  I like the lyrics a lot.

The final hymn was an oldie, How Firm A Foundation. This version is very mechanical, but at least you get a sense of the harmony.

The responsive hymn was the first verse of Lord, Dismiss Us With Your Blessing, known as Sicilian Mariners. This recording is just an instrumental.

My point is that Josh and I had a great time singing in parts while being in the congregation. We didn’t even have to look at the music, only some of the words. And isn’t joy what we’re looking for?

Christofascism in America

The Window of Vulnerability: A Political Spirituality

If there was any doubt before, I believe the issue is now settled. Christofascism in America is here.

What sealed it for me was something the presumptive Republican nominee said at one of his rallies recently. “If I took this shirt off, you would see a beautiful beautiful person. But you would see wounds all over. I’ve taken a lot of wounds I can tell you. More than I suspect any president ever.”

While some elements of social media focused on the potentially disturbing sight of the 45th President unclad, what was more troubling was the reference to the stigmata, the wounds that Jesus received during the crucifixion. And instead of being booed offstage as a heretic, djt was cheered.

It is a common theme: he’s running for YOU. He’s taking on the evil, secular world for YOU. THEY are after HIM, and he stands in the way of them coming after YOU.


The term Christofascist is not new. From Odyssey: “The term was first coined by Dorothee Steffensky-Sölle, a leftist Christian theologian who used this portmanteau to describe her opposition to Christian fundamentalists of the variety with which we associate the Westboro Baptist Church here in the States.

“While her ideas on God are heterodox in most theological circles, her political naming of those Christians who have wed themselves to the image of an angry, vengeful God who despises black folk, immigrants, LGBT peoples, and aspires for the United States to be His instrument on Earth is a useful distinction.”

Here’s a paragraph from her 1990 book, The Window of Vulnerability: A Political Spirituality:  “The third value in the new Christofascist civil religion is the family and, within it, the role of the woman. Being religious means keeping women in the place ordained for them by God. A patriarchal ideology of the family complements an attitude of extreme hostility toward labor unions and a rejection of all social measures.

“Reagan was a master at playing on the deep-seated anxieties of people caught up in massive technological change. He exploited their fear of inflation and of the loss of jobs and turned it toward a different point–namely, sexuality. It is not the nuclear bomb that threatens our survival; it is love between two men or two women that endangers everything we have achieved! The moral scandal of our time is not the starvation of a million children in the Third World, thanks to our masterly economic planning, but the abortion of unborn life!”

But it’s related to a rapture doctrine, which goes back to the mid-19th century by white evangelicals who opposed the Church of England.


The Economist ran a recent article entitled: Donald Trump has finally got it right about the January 6th insurrectionists. They were “warriors”—that’s the problem.”

It starts off:

Here is a thought experiment. Try to put politics and the presidential race out of your mind and give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt about the attack on the Capitol on January 6th 2021. Accept that he believed the election was stolen and that he meant it when he told the crowd that day to march from the White House to Capitol Hill “peacefully and patriotically”. Accept that he believed none of his supporters was carrying weapons or intended violence of any sort. Accept that he has since come to conclude, as he has claimed, that Nancy Pelosi, then the speaker of the House, somehow “caused” the violence, that the police “ushered in” the crowd, that they were “a loving crowd”, indeed, “patriots” who have since become not just “victims” but even “hostages” of a weaponised system of justice.

Then ask yourself this: after embracing all of those assumptions and assertions, why would you celebrate the rioters as “warriors”, as Mr. Trump did during a rally earlier this month?

I surmise it’s because they see themselves as warriors for Christianity. And by “Christianity,” I don’t mean feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and turning the other cheek. Those are liberal talking points!

No, they mean REAL Christians, who ban books, threaten women’s health care, create anti-LGBT legislation, and do so with a Christofascist flair. With the Speaker of the House and much of the Supreme Court on board, not to mention dozens of governors, state legislatures, and local officials on board, those damn liberal Christians – of which I count myself as one – seem to be threatening.

What type of Christian

I receive emails from Mike Huckabee, plugging the My Faith Votes agenda. He writes, “Christians in America are ready to step up and stand strong for biblical values in a world that wants to shut Christians out of the public square. I don’t necessarily disagree. But I believe it’s the Christofascists who are sucking up a lot of the oxygen.

The Biblical values I would embrace are tied to Matthew 25.

“When we welcome others, we welcome Christ; when we bring together people who are divided, we are doing God’s reconciling work. We are called to serve Jesus by contributing to the well-being of the most vulnerable in all societies – rural and urban, small and large, young and not-so-young. From affordable housing to community gardens to equitable educational and employment opportunities to healing from addiction and mental illness to enacting policy change – there is not just one way to be a part of the Matthew 25 movement.

“Make no mistake, Jesus is calling us to perform ordinary acts of compassion in daily life. In so doing, we continue Christ’s work of proclaiming release to captives and good news to the poor — the good news of God’s righteousness, justice, and peace for all.”


Lydster: Dancing Many Drums


My daughter worked on two papers about people portrayed in the book  Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance, edited by Thomas F. DeFrantz.

The first was about Kyundor, or the Witch Woman: An African Opera in America, 1934. Maureen Needham writes: “Versatile, multitalented as an opera and concert singer, dancer and choreographer, and teacher of African culture, the great but virtually forgotten Asadata Dafora made a huge contribution to the birth of African dance and musical drama in the United States.”

John Perpener wrote several dance biographies for Jacob’s Pillow. Of Dafora, he notes the performer was born in  Sierra Leone in 1890 and moved to NYC in 1929.

His breakthrough was  Kykunkor or the Witch Woman, “which opened in May 1934… Sparked by a positive review by John Martin of the New York Times, impressive audiences began to attend the dance-opera at the Unity Theater, a small performance space on East Twenty-Third Street in New York City.  Martin effusively described  Kykunkor as ‘“one of the most exciting dance performances of the season’ Not only did his critical imprimatur stimulate interest in Dafora’s work, it also forwarded the artist’s objective—to prove that the art and culture of Africa was equal in importance to that of the world’s other cultures.”

On YouTube, you can find videos of others honoring Dafora’s works, such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater showing the dance of Awassa Astrige or the Ostrich, Dafora’s 1932 work.

Check out the Wikipedia page for this innovator who died in 1965. I was unaware of this man.


My daughter’s other topic was Katherine Dunham (1909-2006). From the   Institute for Dunham Technique Certification page: she “was a world-famous dancer, choreographer, author, anthropologist, social activist, and humanitarian.

“She translated her vision of dance in the African diaspora, including the United States, into vivid works of choreography that show a people’s culture. During her ‘World Tours’ period (1938-1965), her company was one of the few major internationally recognized American dance companies that toured six continents. The success of the dance company was also due to her artistic collaboration with her brilliant designer husband, Canadian John Pratt, who was the costume and set designer for the Katherine Dunham Dance Company.

“However, during this period in her own country, she also encountered many instances of racial discrimination, both in accommodations for her company and in segregated theaters where blacks were either relegated to the back row balcony or not allowed in at all. Dunham always fought against this racial discrimination, bringing several lawsuits and using her celebrity to bring attention to the African American plight. During this period, she created a repertoire of over 100 ballets for concert, Broadway, nightclubs and opera.”

The book features a chapter by Constance Valis Hill: Katherine Durham’s Southland: Protest in the Face of Repression. Read about this production in the LOC and Dance Magazine. The piece was performed in 1951 abroad, but not in the United States until 2012.

Check out a page in the LOC page, which shows videos of her work, as well as Wikipedia and the IBDb. I knew about her from the 1983 Kennedy Center Honors she received.


Nadine A. George wrote about “Dance and Identity Politics in American Negro Vaudeville: The Whitman Sisters, 1900-1935.” She’s also written the book The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville. She’s quoted here that “these four Black women manipulated their race, gender, and class to resist hegemonic forces while achieving success. By maintaining a high-class image, they were able to challenge the fictions of racial and gender identity.”

The LOC notes that the sisters, ” Mabel Whitman (1880-1942), Essie Whitman (1882-1903), Alberta Whitman (ca. 1887-1963) and ‘Baby’ Alice Whitman (ca. 1900-1969), comprise the family of black female entertainers who owned and produced their own performing company, which traveled across the United States.. to play in all the major cities, becoming the longest running and highest-paid act on the T.O.B.A. circuit and a crucible of dance talent in black vaudeville.”

Besides Wikipedia, there’s a lot about these siblings here. Here’s a brief audio essay.

While my daughter did not write about them, they were fascinating performers and entrepreneurs who influenced many. I did not know of them.

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