2021: ’22? You’d better be better!

J. Eric Smith

Clinical trials, courtesy of https://xkcd.com/2530/

The rest of the annual quiz from Kelly. BTW, ’22? You’d better be better!

Where did most of your money go?

Books, music, medical stuff, takeout food.

What did you get really excited about?

GETTING THE VACCINE. Eating out. Going to the movies, though I didn’t do so often. Being the point person for the Literary Legends, Lydia Davis and Gene Mirabelli. The choir meeting again. Doing research in Binghamton.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Clearly sadder.

Thinner or fatter?

Back to where I was a couple of years ago, alas. A function, in part, of being sadder.

Richer or poorer?

A little poorer, but not appreciably problematic.

The rain

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading, singing, sleeping.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Going to ZOOM meetings, figuring out my new insurance coverage

How did you spend Christmas?

Opening presents, watching the church service on Facebook, eating dinner with my MIL, playing a lot of Xmas CDs

Did you fall in love in 2021?


How many one-night stands?

Same as last year. And the year before that. And the year before that…

What was your favorite TV program?

CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, Finding Your Roots. I have an extremely low capacity for watching TV right now, except for, of all things, Law and Order: Criminal Intent (2001-2011), which I mostly missed when it originally aired. JEOPARDY I still watch but don’t love it as much.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


What was the best book you read?


The park

What did you want and get?

A COVID shot, or three.

What did you want and not get?

Liberation from the limiting effects of COVID.

What were your favorite films of this year?

Summer of Soul (the ONLY one of these I saw in a theater), Promising Young Woman, Another RoundWolfwalkers, Small Axe: Mangrove (if it’s a movie), One Night in Miami, Sound of Metal,  The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

What did you do on your birthday?

I went to adult education and church online. Talked with my sisters on ZOOM. Had cake. I don’t much remember beyond that.

And other things

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?

Wearing shoes as infrequently as possible.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Possibly Isabel Wilkerson whose book Caste I bought but did not read.

What political issue stirred you the most?

The dissipation of truth, not just in government, but online.

Who did you miss?

Other than the deceased, I’ve actually managed to see many people in my neck of the woods (FINALLY!) in recent months, because I missed them all!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021

Writing about it is a pain. Not writing about it is worse.

I was quite touched by what J. Eric Smith kindly wrote about me in his blog, which he’s been writing since before the word blog was created.  I am, I’ve read, “a super-long-time daily blogger of refined tastes and interests, many of which closely align with my own. Roger also brings his formidable librarian skills to organizing his information, and that’s a noticeably great thing in the mostly mucky mire of poorly-curated online experience.”

That sort of helps me when I fear that I absolutely have not a single thing more to say before I finally have a Eureka moment again.

Now, why am I thinking of a song by the Cowsills (#2 for two weeks pop in 1967)? I have no idea. As noted: ’22? You’d better be better!

2021: a spaced odyssey

tough questions

Every data table
Courtesy https://xkcd.com/2502/

Time to make the donuts! I mean respond to more of these spaced odyssey questions in the quiz promulgated by the illustrious Kelly. I’m not faulting him, BTW.

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

Well, probably not and definitely not. I didn’t REALLY make any for last year. But if I had, I probably would have failed. So I’m DEFINITELY not making any this year because it’s too much of a bummer.

Did anyone close to you get married?

Why yes. my good friend Alexis married her beau with a similar name.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

I don’t think so, though, as of this writing, someone vaguely named for me is very pregnant.

Did anyone close to you die?

Yeah, and I wrote about most of them here and here.  Also, I went to the funeral of Jack White, a cousin, online.

And I attended the funeral of my former next-door neighbor Dino Patelos at his Greek Orthodox church. During the service, his priest favorably compared him to Jimmy Buffet in Margarettaville, but with a boilermaker. 

Since I don’t SEE many people, I was afraid I was forgetting someone, but, no they died near the end of 2020.

Almost abroad

What countries did you visit?

Well, I didn’t GO to Canada. But we were on The Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls, so we were Canada-adjacent.

What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?

The normal I thought I would get in 2021 after living through 2020.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I did some research about my family when I went to Binghamton. Didn’t find as much as I had hoped, but the effort was there.

What was your biggest failure?

I’m not sure I finished a single book. I bought more than a dozen of them and started at least half of those. Actually, that’s not quite true. I did finish The Color of Law, but that was in February 2021.

What was the best thing you bought?

Aside from music? Probably the iPhone 8. And the case, because the phone literally kept slipping off the sofa.

Thumbs up, thumbs down

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Those who try to inform: John Oliver, Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, various websites. The folks who worked in COVID hotspots in the US, even though you KNEW they were ticked off about it because they thought it didn’t need to be. Folks promoting vaccines, addressing hesitancy and fear. People who stood up to racial, economic, and other disparity.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Tough question. They fall into many categories, only a few of which are noted here. The problem is that some belong in multiple slots. The list is necessarily incomplete.

January 6 facilitators and deniers. This includes, but is hardly limited to, Steve Bannon; Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorne (R-NC), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA); Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows; Mike Pence

Big Lie promulgators: DJ Trump; MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell; Elise Stefanik (R-NY); various media outlets, including a vulpine one, including the one with Lara Logan

COVID facilitators and deniers. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI); governors Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Greg Abbott (R-TX)

General blowhards. SCOTUS justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas; Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Kennedy (R-LA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN);  Josh Hawley (R-MO); Reps. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY); Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R-NC); former Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY); Candace Owens; Eric Clapton

I’ll finish this spaced odyssey tomorrow.

The annual quiz: musical section

Rebecca Jade, Olivia Rodrigo, Jason Isbell, QoS

I usually do that annual quiz that Kelly foisted upon me years ago, on January 1. And I usually do music on Saturday. So I’ve decided to do the musical section today and the rest tomorrow and/or the next day.

What was your greatest musical discovery? 

When you have about 2000 albums, it’s entirely possible to rediscover music that you already own. This happens almost every week.

Then there is the music that I did not think that I wouldn’t buy, then purchased in 2021, such as:
Odessey and Oracle – The Zombies. Care of Cell 44
Stop Making Sense (1984 Film) – Talking Heads. Even though I saw the SPAC show of the tour, I never bought the soundtrack. And I STILL haven’t seen the film. Life During Wartime 
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You – Aretha Franklin. Drown In My Own Tears 
The Allen Toussaiant Collection. Southern Nights.
The Beatles (The White Album) [6 CD] Ob-La-Di, Ob-la-Da  (Esher Demo)
Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan. I bought this in part because I missed this reference watching some quiz show. I Contain Multitudes 
folklore – Taylor Swift. My first Swifty album. Cardigan 
Good Souls Better Angels – Lucinda Williams. Good Souls 
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition conducted by Ormandy

I also recently bought
Love For Sale – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. I was so touched by the 60 Minutes interviewLove For Sale 
Georgia Blue – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Recorded because Georgia went blue in 2020. Honeysuckle Blue 

Of all of the artists my daughter likes, the only one that has actually stuck in the brain in 2021 was Olivia Rodrigo. Part of that is a function that she was the subject of a CBS Sunday Morning segment. It mentioned her participation in the White House’s push for the COVID vaccine.

What kept you sane?

Assuming facts not in evidence, listening to music. Since I wasn’t MAKING music for most of the year – choir finally started rehearsing in October- LISTENING became even more vital. That would include J. Eric Smith’s  Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists, which will spread into 2022; of course, Coverville; plus Kelly’s mostly semiweekly pieces.

And the niece. In 2021, I got to see the fabulous Rebecca Jade, remotely.
Homemade: Part 10 and Part 11 
Peter Sprague: Wichita Lineman and Are You Going With Me and Spring Ain’t Here and It’s For You and Farmers Trust 
Melody League Session with The Sully Band 
Music For The Soul
Jas Miller: Toes In The Sand 

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Frankly, part of it is tied to Congress’s failure to pass an infrastructure bill earlier, which, given the vagaries of politics, threw away whatever advantage Biden had when the troubles – Afghanistan, e.g. inevitably took place. If it’d been up to me, the Democrats would have taken the bipartisan victory in May/June, and then work on the larger bill afterward.

The last verse of Slip Slidin’ Away:

God only knows
God makes his plan
The information’s unavailable
To the mortal man
We work our jobs
Collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway
When in fact we’re slip-slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip-slidin’ away

-Paul Simon

2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees


Todd Rundgren Gtr Player 1977On February 10, I received an email: “Hello rock and roll fans! We’re excited to announce this year’s Nominees for induction into the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick.

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame offers fans the opportunity to participate in the Induction selection process with the Fan Vote. Through April 30, fans can vote every day at rockhall.com, or at the Museum in Cleveland. The top five artists, as selected by the public, will comprise a ‘fans’ ballot’ that will be tallied along with the other ballots to select the 2021 Inductees.

For the past three years, I’ve had this no-doubter.

This is the third year in a row he’s been nominated. Two years ago, I wrote: “I have his albums with the Nazz, Utopia and a number of his solo albums. He’s also produced a chunk of notable albums for others… He’s a wizard, a true star.”
I Saw the Light  

“To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first commercial recording at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. Seven out of 16 of the Nominees are on the ballot for the first time, including Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Mary J. Blige, Fela Kuti, and Dionne Warwick.”

They got the beat

My next choice: #The GO-GO’S:
They’ve had a resurgence of sorts with a 2020 documentary about “the first all-women group to write their own songs, play their own instruments, and snag a #1 hit.” I’ll admit my bias since I saw them at J.B. Scott’s in Albany back in 1981. They played the entire first album and a non-album B-side.
Our Lips Are Sealed 

I don’t know Iron Maiden’s music very well. But the other first-timers on the list I could make a case for.

Dionne Warwick has no chance with the fans. She does not rock, and while neither did her young cousin Whitney Houston, who has been inducted, Whitney wasn’t doing Bacharach and David. I’m fond of Dionne, and maybe I’ll vote for her down the road.

On the other hand, I was shocked by the votes for the late Fela Kuti, who was leading the pack early. I didn’t think the originator of Afrobeat was that well-known, certainly not in the US. I don’t have any of his albums as such, but I do have Red Hot + Riot, which features his music. If things get close, I might switch to him.

“Chaka Khan was previously nominated both solo and with the band Rufus.”
Frankly, I’m not feeling Rufus for the Hall. But Chaka’s body of work, absolutely. This is her 7th nomination either solo or in the group.
I Feel for You 

“If elected, Carole King and Tina Turner will become the second and third female artists inducted twice, following Stevie Nicks’ 2019 election. If Foo Fighters are inducted, Dave Grohl will also become a twice-inducted performer.” And, I suppose, because there are so many deserving nominees, I won’t be voting for any of these.

Uncontrollable urge

Wikipedia says “their music… mingling kitsch science fiction themes, deadpan surrealist humor, and mordantly satirical social commentary. Who knew how prescient they would be?
Whip It 

Kate Bush, Rage Against the Machine, and especially The New York Dolls would be on my ballot if I had more picks. Mary J. Blige and Jay Z, as first-timers, will get nominated again, I’m sure.

#LL COOL J; Eligible year: 2009
This is his sixth nomination, previously considered in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2018, and 2019. His historic import, I suspect, has been buried a bit by his acting success.
I’m Bad 

You can vote every day, presumably. An “overwhelming” fan response crashed the Fan Vote early the first morning but was fixed in short order.

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