The year 2020: Hugh Downs, because

The Zen of alphabetization

The nail in the coffin of my 2020 recollection after I stick a silver dagger in its chest.

What was the best book you read?

Hugh Downs
Hugh Downs

This Brilliant Darkness by Jeff Sharlet. Probably because I’m briefly mentioned therein.

What did you want and get?

Some semblance of connectivity. Zoom is good for Bible studies, the Dads group at church. Actually, it’s been great for communicating with my sisters. It’s fine for keeping in touch with the choir, but not nearly as good as singing together.

What did you want and not get?

The sense of the creative. I didn’t sing or see a lot of performances or read a lot of books.

What were your favorite films of this year?

This will be different because I didn’t see a lot of films at the cinema. Note these are not the BEST films, necessarily, which is probably Parasite or 1917, but the ones I most enjoyed.

Knives Out 
Just Mercy 

On video:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 
Coco 
Thor: Ragnarok 

What did you do on your birthday?

Our church did a performance of Once On This Island the following day, just before the lockdown. So I spent much of the time at the dress rehearsal.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?

Comfortable footwear. These long-sleeved shirts my wife bought from L.L. Bean that help prevent me from getting sunburned.

What kept you sane?

To the degree that is true – and one could argue that – I play music constantly. Compact discs, because I like the tangible. Then every three months, I put the ones I played away because it involves the mental exercise of alphabetization.

Yeah, most of it is already online, but listening to that doesn’t bring me… JOY. I love reading the liner notes – Ricky Fataar is on a 2016 Bonnie Raitt album; Emmylou Harris is everywhere.

And sometimes, I would alternate between listening to a CD and riding the stationary bike for 15 minutes. The CD might be 29 minutes, or 45, or 74. I like the asymmetrical nature of the process.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Chadwick Boseman (RIP), Kobe Bryant (RIP), Lebron James.
Ji-Man Choi – pronounced like Eliot Ness – the pudgy but amazingly athletic first baseman of the Tampa Bay Rays.

There are probably others. But it’s been a long year.

In fact, this is so true that I actually forgot Hugh Downs died in 2020. Of course, he did.  And I mentioned it 

What political issue stirred you the most?

My general belief that we may have already irrevocably destroyed the planet. Democracy in the USA may be unfixable. Oh, and that – surprise! – racism still exists in America.

Who was the best new person you met?

Who meets new people? Actually, one of the best things, in my telephoning exercise, is to reconnect with people I had not talked with in years, such as Janet, Diana, Jeff, Al, Judith, Kim, Maureen…

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020

Sometimes, the workarounds are successful, and sometimes, not so much.

Small Zoom gatherings work. Or they don’t for reasons some of us can recite in our sleep. I’m betting Jeffrey Tobin’s  ZOOM meeting was really boring. Someone failed to mute, so he forgot to turn off the camera.

“Parties” on Zoom I’m most uncomfortable with. If you’re at a real party, you talk for a while, observe for a while, haul empty cups to the kitchen. But online, you’re expected to be “on.”

At one gathering this year with three dozen people, someone asked ME specifically why I hadn’t said anything. It’s mostly because 1) it’s difficult to know when to speak and not talk over people and 2) I didn’t really have anything to say.

Takeout food. Some are great. Pizza, Indian food. I haven’t had Chinese this year, but I imagine it’d be pretty good. But some, from restaurants I love, are lackluster. Italian food is hit or miss, e.g.

Telemedicine, as noted – meh.

Performances – better than nothing, but an ersatz experience. It’s interesting that, because of the pandemic plus the technology, there are MORE opportunities to hear music online than I could possibly take in.

Tell you what, 2021. If you don’t suck as much as 2020 did, my summary about you will be half as long. Deal?

December 36, 2020

Hey, 2021, you’re not starting off very well. Sluggish COVID vaccine distribution.

And such a blatant attempt to steal the election by the Republican party that all living former defense secretaries have condemned  GOP attempts to overturn the election and involve the military.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who I do not like, nevertheless is partly correct in opposing challenging the Electoral College tally. “Congress would take away the power to choose the president from the people, which would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress.”

Newsmax, having sold its soul, said that it has “reviewed the full tape and transcript of [his] call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

It claims “The transcript shows [Trump] pressed the Secretary on serious vote fraud issues in Georgia and Trump never acted improperly.”

Naturally, Newsmax blames the mainstream media for “duplicity” in spreading “false” information. The man said on tape, “I just want to find 11,780 votes” and alternately berated, flattered, begged, and threatened with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims. He is soliciting election fraud, in his increasingly desperate attack on democracy, dammit.

Music in the time of COVID, 2020

Six Feet Apart! Stay Away!

In the best of times this century, I’m not listening to much current music. Music in the time of COVID is pretty much the same. It’s always a miracle when I purchase tunes put out by an artist whose first album came out since 2001.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Freedom HighwayLinda Ronstadt, oddly. I bought one of her Mexican albums, her Capitol albums, plus the complete Trio with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. After seeing the documentary about her in the summer of 2019, I was utterly sad that her singing voice has been silenced.

Also, I enjoyed Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back far more than I thought. Those riffs from the Temptations, Isaac Hayes and many others were quite enjoyable.

The only 2020 music I bought was Reunions by Jason Isbell And the 400 Unit, and Gaslighter by The Dixie Chicks, I mean The Chicks. Whatever. I swore in 2003 that I’d buy all of their albums. They had not put one out in 14 years, so it hasn’t been a heavy lift.

I’ve actually gotten to see my niece Rebecca Jade singing from her home. I’d seen her perform live only once before, back in 2018, when I visited her mother. I’ve also seen RJ with her occasional collaborator, jazz guitarist Peter Sprague. They’ve had the only live music shows I’ve “attended.”

Perfidia – Linda Ronstadt
Gaslighter – The Chicks
What Have I Done To Help – Jason Isbell And the 400 Unit
Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddens, feat. Bhi Bhiman
Party for Your Right to Fight – Public Enemy
Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen

Rebecca Jade videos

COVIDy

The Boston Globe compiled 40 songs about the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve actually heard several of these without even trying, usually on a news show.

Six Feet Apart – Luke Combs
Do What You Can  -Bon Jovi
Let Your Love Be Known – Bono
Stay Away – Randy Newman
This Too Shall Pass – Mike Love featuring John Stamos

And there were “songs written before the virus spread but released because the tracks resonate with the current times.”

Living In A Ghost Town – The Rolling Stones
Tryin’ to Keep It Together – Norah Jones
We’re All In This Together Now  – John Paul White featuring Rosanne Cash
Grateful – Jewel

VMAs?

Here’s a matter of self-curiosity. I watched the Video Music Awards this year for the first time in more than a decade. It aired on August 30, but I didn’t actually view it until October. And then in 15-25 minute segments.

As you might imagine, there were people I had never once heard of, CNCO, Maluma, and Doja Cat, who my daughter does not like for some reason. Then there are the ones whose names I’d seen but could not have identified, such as Chloe X Halle and DaBaby.

So THAT’S what The Weeknd looks like. (And he’s significant enough that my spellcheck accepts the spelling of his name.)

Thank goodness for some veteran acts such as Black Eyed Peas and Miley Cyrus. Because my daughter was obsessed a couple of years ago, I actually know more about BTS than any sexagenarian needs to. They premiered the song Dynamite and soon enough it’s not only #1 in the country with half a billion views but playing on some television ad. (For what, IDK, and don’t tell me because I don’t care.)

Lady Gaga won every category for which she was nominated, one with Ariana Grande including a new category.

Dynamite – BTS
Rain On Me – Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Nobody told me there’d be days like these (X3)
Strange days indeed
Most peculiar, Mama

Nobody told me – John Lennon (1984, posthumous)

The year 2020: “This hand is a foot”

Where’s my damn mask?

hand is a footUsually, I do this wrapup of the previous year. But the previous year was 2020. Like my grandfather, McKinley Green would say when we played gin rummy together, “This hand is a foot.” Meaning, “What the heck?” Or possibly something more graphic. So this going to take a while.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

1/1/2020 was way too long ago. I don’t remember.

And after 2020, I sure don’t intend to make plans for 2021, because do you know what plans do? They LAUGH! They mock! Then they say, “You have no control over these things!”

That said, I will finish the Raoul Vezina Wikipedia page. Unless I’m attacked by wild bears. Or oxen. Which I do not dismiss happening out of hand.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

I don’t believe so.

Did you attend any weddings?

I didn’t attend much of ANYTHING after mid-March, so no.

Did anyone close to you die?

My good friend from church Keith Barber. He beat cancer, only to succumb to some sort of respiratory infection. Since it was January, no one was looking for COVID in upstate New York. So I wonder…

My father-in-law Richard Powell, who died from lymphoma – NOT COVID – on Earth Day. I finally started watching some baseball in late October. There were some plays I knew we would have talked about, such as when the Atlanta Braves ran themselves out of Game 7 of the NLCS. And I missed sharing this with him.

Incidentally, while he was cremated, there still hasn’t been either a proper obituary or a service. Maybe in May 2021, on what would have been his birthday? Who knows?

What countries did you visit?

I might have visited Canada if they would have let us in. Heck, every time I went to a doctor’s office, they ask me if I’ve left the state. NYS was requiring people from many states to quarantine for a fortnight.

My passport expired in August 2020, which probably wouldn’t have happened in a NORMAL year. I do have the enhanced DMV thing, which is good for a few more years.

What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?

[Respondent laughs uncontrollably.] I would like to be able to leave the house without thinking about whether I have a mask with me. I’d like to be able to go to church, and especially go to choir rehearsal. Going to the movies, concerts, and out to eat. Generally speaking, going to REAL events rather than ZOOM/YouTube/Facebook events.

Not seeing the body count of COVID victims anymore. Knowing the rules at the grocery store regarding the use of bags, which changed a half dozen times this year.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Working the Census, I expect. Figuring out how to be a Zoom host.

Actually, it was probably calling people on the telephone. Two people per day, every day, from the spring equinox to the summer solstice, then one/day until mid-August when I started working the Census.

What was your biggest failure?

No doubt falling behind on a volunteer project. Then when I got Mr. Dithered, and I was Dagwood Bumstead, I just shut down altogether.

What was the best thing you bought?

Medical supplies. A thermometer, which my wife ended up needing to use every day. I’m oddly fond of taking my blood pressure because it requires me to sit quietly for five minutes every day. Oh, and a Delxo 3 Step Ladder, which we use a lot.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Of course, a whole bunch of doctors, nurses, technicians, janitors, grocery store clerks, et al. working through a pandemic
People protesting, demanding justice. That would include my daughter.
The artists, writers who have documented this time.

Anthony Fauci
Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris
Alexander S. Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill
John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers
Randy Rainbow, The Vlogbrothers
Kelly Sedinger, Arthur Schenck
Stacey Abrams, Greta Thunberg, Jane Fonda
Rebecca Jade, Alexandria Green

John Lewis (RIP), Katie Porter, AOC, Paul Tonko, Pramila Jayapal, Lucy McBath

Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RIP)

The Lincoln Project
Amy Roeder 

Those groups of people who figured out how to take food to restaurants, feed hungry people, and keep some businesses afloat
Firefighters, especially those battling the infernos in the western US
Isabel Wilkerson, Ibram Kendi, Bryan Stevenson, Alicia Garza, The Anti-Racism Task Force at my church
The National Basketball Association – the “bubble” worked!

I’m sure there are others

Enough of this. Well, until tomorrow.

Dec rambling: Year in the Wilderness

“What in God’s Name are You Doing?”

Tales of the Unelected
Courtesy of Rich Ragsdale – https://www.instagram.com/richragsdale/

For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet by  Joy Harjo (1951- ).

Beware of Bad Faith.

The untold story of how the Golden State Killer was found: A covert operation and private DNA.

Ken Levine, who used to write for CHEERS: I no longer find Cliff Clavin funny.

Race Car Crash From Hell—and the Science That Saved Its Drive.

R.I.P., Ann Reinking.

She’s from Schenectady. Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer  Becomes Winningest Coach in Women’s Basketball History.

What If You Could Do It All Over?

President Obama – Inspiring Future Leaders and “A Promised Land” | The Daily Social Distancing Show.

America’s Capital of Dead Vice-Presidents.

My Name Is Roscoe: The Life and Legacy of “Fatty” Arbuckle.

On Jeff Smith, problematic people, food, and memory.

Lethologica: When a word’s on the tip of your tongue.

Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned … Against the English Language.

Toledo Zoo’s Tasmanian Devils are biofluorescent.

Of Breakfast Cereals and Cults.

Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some $#!+”

Now I Know: The Strange Brick Circles of San Francisco and The Programmer That Couldn’t Quit and The Man Who Was Dying to Be an Actor and The Hair-Raising Stunt That Scored a Secret Touchdown and Why Your Ice Cubes are White.

Ask Arthur Anything (I did): Surgery as a teenager and Same as it never was.

2020

The Year in the Wilderness. Despair too is contagious. We share it as we shed a spore.

Pew Research: 20 striking findings.

The 50 Most Popular Names for Dogs.

What the U.S. searched for.

J Eric Smith: Best of My Web. And [blushes] I’m on his list.

Race in America

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pregnancy-Related Deaths.

Dr. Camara Jones Explains the  Cliff of Good Health.

Sheet from the American Psychological Association exploring the compounding impact of socioeconomic status and race on health.

Hear the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cells have been used to test the effects of radiation and poisons, to study the human genome, to learn more about how viruses work, and played a crucial role in the development of the polio vaccine.

IMPOTUS – three more weeks!

A Christian asks Christian Trumpers: “What in God’s Name are You Doing?”

Executions Will Be Most of Any President in Over a Century.

Spends Final Days Plotting Revenge Against His Enemies and Pardons for Everyone Else

A Shockingly Long List of His Controversial Pardons. Maybe He ‘Could Be Prosecuted for Bribery’?

Shares Video Suggesting COVID Pandemic Created to Make Him Look Bad, Lose Election.

He Leaves the U.S. Severely Compromised By Massive Russian Hack.

Mar-a-Lago Neighbors Are Trying to Block His Return.

The real reason he is so upset

Pence Blurts Out The Real Reason Why Republicans Hate Democrats.

The loathsome  Stephen Miller, The Frankenstein of Santa Monica.

MUSIC

Rudolph the Leaky Lawyer – Randy Rainbow

WE ARE · Jon Batiste · St. Augustine High School Marching 100 · David Gauthier · Gospel Soul Children Choir · Craig Adams · Braedon Gautier · Brennan Gautier · Autumn Rowe

Joel Ross’ Being a Young Black Man, Live @ The Jazz Gallery.

Johnathan Blake’s My Life Matters, Live @ The Jazz Gallery.

Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ – Charlie Pride.

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto no. 1 – Maestro Mehta’s 80th birthday – Khatia Buniatishvili.

Coverville 1337: Paul Westerberg and The Replacements Cover Story.

The theme song from The Flintstones – Jacob Collier.

K-Chuck Radio: It’s all in Whodini’s wand

2020 music mashups here and here

Come Together -The Beatles.

Alec Baldwin interviews  Paul McCartney on John Lennon’s 80th birthday.

Beethoven

 Cello Sonata no. 5

Music for the play The Ruins of Athens

The Piano Concertos 1 and 2

Wellington’s Victory

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67.

This Night – Billy Joel.

Ask Roger Anything, or 2020 won’t end

Bring on 2021

AskThe Boston Globe listed the 20 best shows on television this year; I have seen NONE of them. I’ve done no sourdough bread baking. How is it that I now have MORE books to read than I did last year at this time?

Earlier this month, the NYS Council of Churches had its Gala, the recording of which is here. There were various speakers and presentations. The CoC sponsored a Youth Leadership Seminar in DC, which my daughter attended. Their info is at about the hour and 25-minute mark of the video. About 10 minutes later, see a pic of a chance encounter with our US Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand.

What’s weird is that the Seminar was in February of THIS year. You know, as people get older, they are always amazed at how fast time goes by. Yet, I would have thought that trip was two years ago, at least. It’s a 2020… what’s the opposite of a miracle?

Or else

In order to purge myself of this particularly infinite year, I’ve determined that you can Ask Roger Anything. You really should. If you don’t, 2020 won’t end. Or so I’m told. If they say it, it must be true. You may ask about 2020, or 2021 if it ever arrives. I’m not a big believer in the apocalypse. But fires, floods, pestilence, strife…

As always, I’ll even answer your queries, generally within the month. You are invited to leave your questions, suggestions, recipes, predictions of end times in the comments section of this here blog, or on Facebook or Twitter. Hey, if you send it to me on Instagram, I might actually have to go there. On Twitter, my name is ersie. Always look for the duck.

If you prefer to remain anonymous, that is permitted. However, let me know if that’s your intent. E-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB and note that you want to be unnamed. Otherwise, I’ll assume otherwise.