Folks turning 70 in May 2023

Oingo Boingo

Here’s a list of notable people turning 70 in May 2023. I’m SO much older than they are.

Tony Blair (6th). I had hope for him when he became the youngest Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1997. He worked for a minimum wage, and he supported LGBTQ rights. But in his second term, he supported W’s foolhardy invasion of Iraq.

Alex Van Halen (8th) – the only time I mentioned the drummer of Van Halen in this blog was as Eddie’s brother.

I  have one CD by Mike Oldfield (15th), which has nothing to do with Tubular Bells; I have it on vinyl, considered a precursor to new-age music.

George Brett (15th) was a Hall of Fame third baseman, playing over 20 years for the Kansas City Royals. Yet, I still think of him regarding the pine tar incident on July 24, 1983.

Pierce Brosnan (16th) played in a detective series Remington Steele, which I viewed. Other folks watching thought he should play James Bond, and he did in five films, though I saw none of them.  I did see him in Mrs. Doubtfire and Mamma Mia!

Oddly, I most remember him by how much he loved his first wife, Cassandra Harris, and her children. Cassie died in 1991, and her daughter Charlotte died in 2013, both of ovarian cancer.

“When your partner gets cancer, then life changes. Your timetable and reference for your normal routines and the way you view life, all this change. Because you’re dealing with death. You’re dealing with the possibility of death and dying…  Cassie was very positive about life. I mean, she had the most amazing energy and outlook on life. It was and is a terrible loss, and I see it reflected, from time to time, in my children.”

Doc Ock

Before I knew who he was, Alfred Molina (24th) was in many movies, including Raiders of the Lost Ark. I saw him in Chocolat, Frida, An Education, and primarily as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man movies. I didn’t know he was born in London.

Danny Elfman (29th) is such a prolific composer of film scores that I don’t know where to start. From the Wikipedia page: “Elfman has frequently worked with directors Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, and Gus Van Sant, contributing music to nearly 20 Burton projects, including Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, BatmanEdward Scissorhands,… as well as scoring Raimi’s A Simple PlanSpider-Man and Spider-Man 2, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Van Sant’s Academy Award–winning films Good Will Hunting and Milk. He wrote music for the Men in Black franchise films, the songs and score for Henry Selick’s animated musical The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the themes for the popular television series Desperate Housewives and The Simpsons.” I’ve seen every single film mentioned above.

“Among his honors are four Oscar nominations, two Emmy Awards, a Grammy,… the 2015 Disney Legend Award  and the Society of Composers & Lyricists Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022.

Yet I will link to the video for Weird Science by his band Oingo Boingo, which he is now mortified by.

2023 Oscar-nominated shorts

An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake

On two days in mid-February, my wife and I saw some of the 2023 Oscar-nominated shorts at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, NY.  I found some of the films online, which I have linked to.
Live action
Ivalu – DENMARK/16 MINS/2022

Director: Anders Walter, Pipaluk K. Jørgensen

“Ivalu is gone. Her little sister,” Pipaluk, “is desperate to find her. Her father does not care. The vast Greenlandic nature holds secrets. Where is Ivalu?”

While it was a touching bit when Pipaluk would retrace the locales they used to hang out, it was an unsatisfactory conclusion.

Night Ride (Nattrikken)  – NORWAY/15 MINS/2020

Director: Eirik Tveiten

“It is a cold night in December. As Ebba waits for the tram, an unexpected turn of events transforms the ride home into something she was not expecting.”

I liked this piece a lot, possibly my favorite in the category. It was pretty funny, held a degree of danger, and showed real humanity.

More Live Action
Le Pupille ITALY, USA/37 MINS/2022

Director: Alice Rohrwacher

“From… Academy Award® winning producer, Alfonso Cuarón is a tale of innocence, greed, and fantasy. [It] is about desires, pure and selfish, about freedom and devotion, and about the anarchy that is capable of flowering in the minds of girls within the confines of a strict religious boarding school at Christmas.”

As the longest of the pieces, the story is the most complex, taking place in World War II Italy.  It is or was on Disney+. I enjoyed it.

The Red Suitcase -LUXEMBOURG/18 MINS/2022

Director: Cyrus Neshvad

“A young Iranian woman at a Luxembourg airport is in a life-changing situation.”

While totally believable, it was most frustrating because we wanted to know what happened next.

An Irish Goodbye – IRELAND/23 MINS/2022

Director: Tom Berkeley, Ross White

“On a farm in rural Northern Ireland, estranged brothers Turlough and Lorcan are forced to reunite following the untimely death of their mother.”

My wife’s favorite, and for a good reason, even though we couldn’t suss out bits of the dialogue. The family tension rang true. It won the BAFTA in this category.


An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It -AUSTRALIA/11 MINS/2022

Director: Lachlan Pendragon

“When a young telemarketer is confronted by a mysterious talking ostrich, he learns that the universe is stop-motion animation. He must put aside his dwindling toaster sales and focus on convincing his colleagues of his terrifying discovery.”

This had a Truman Show/end of a Lego Movie vibe. BTW, the ostrich may be correct. I liked it a lot.

The Flying Sailor – CANADA/7 MINS/2022

Director: Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby

“In 1917, two ships collided in the Halifax Harbour, causing the largest accidental explosion in history. Among the tragic stories of the disaster is the remarkable account of a sailor who, blown skyward from the docks, flew a distance of two kilometres before landing uphill, naked and unharmed. The Flying Sailor is a contemplation of his journey.”

I wish I had known the above before I watched it for the first time. NOW it makes more sense.

More animation

Director:  João Gonzalez

“Every day, a father and his son jump with a parachute from their vertiginous cold house, attached to a cliff, to go to the village on the ground, far away where they sell the ice they produce daily.”

The comments helped me understand this better than I did on first watching.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse -UK/34 MINS/2022

Director: Peter Baynton, Charlie Mackesy

It “is a story of kindness, courage, and hope in traditional hand-drawn animation, following the unlikely friendship of the title characters as they journey in search of the boy’s home. Based on the book of the same name.”

I liked the traditional artwork. It’s strange, though; I can believe the talking animals, yet we both had trouble figuring out where the boy came from. How did he not freeze to death? I think this is streaming on Apple+.

Animation with a warning

My Year of Dicks -USA/25 MINS/2022

Director: Sara Gunnarsdóttir // Writer: Pamela Ribon

“An imaginative fifteen-year-old is stubbornly determined to lose her virginity despite the pathetic pickings in the outskirts of Houston in the early 90s. Created by Pamela Ribon from her critically-acclaimed memoir.”

Before it aired in the theater, there was a warning that the content may not be suitable for some. The last time I saw that message, it was some grossly bloody and inartful six minutes.

This was fun in five chapters, the first of which is here. My favorite part, though, was Chapter 5, when the protagonist asks her mom a personal question, and the mom makes the dad explain sex to the daughter. I found it extremely funny.


I didn’t see the docs in the theater, but I did view two on YouTube.

THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS – Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga

HAULOUT– Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev
Ninety thousand walruses outside your door is a sure sign that the planet’s ecosystem is out of whack.
THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT – Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison
STRANGER AT THE GATEJoshua Seftel and Conall Jones
I saw a brief piece about a “Veteran’s Return from the Brink of Terrorism” on CBS Sunday Morning. I found this to be a powerful telling of how hate can be turned around. A review of all of the short documentaries states this film “reads a little too optimistic for the current moment.” I have no idea what that means.

The Bloganuary 2023 questions

lilacs, laundry, Chinese

bloganuary 2023I wanted to do Bloganuary 2023, but I can’t wait for the morning to create. So I did all of them at the end of January, and I’m posting them all here.

What is something you want to achieve this year?

I want to offload some tasks that devolved to me rather than things I sought to do.
How are you brave?

At some level, I’ve managed to fool a lot of people into thinking I’m an extrovert. I’m not, but I must be faking it well.

What is the earliest memory you have?

I don’t know if it is an actual memory, or recalling the photo, probably the latter. My family used to go to the Catskill Game Farm in Catskill, NY. When I was about three, I was in some large plastic or metal pumpkin.

What is a treasure that’s been lost?

I had stuff at my grandmother’s house in Binghamton, NY. Some were stolen from there back in 1973 or so – my coin collection, all of my baseball cards, and some of my LPs, alphabetically A and early B, then S-Z, including a lot of Supremes, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass . Worse, then or subsequently, all of the childhood photos that I had in a red photobook disappeared.

What brings you joy in life?

Music. But you knew that.

Why do you write?

To figure things out. Sometimes, I THINK I know what I know. Then I write something, and it often morphs.

Write a short story or poem about rain.

The western US was devoid of rain, then it came too quickly to maintain. It was because of the dry terrain that caused so many such pain.

Week 2

How far back in your family tree can you go?

This is the one prompt I DID answer: here.

What is the most memorable gift you have received?

It might have been my 16th birthday when I got this container with strips of paper from my friends with significant comments.

Has a book changed your life?

Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer, which I described here.

How do you define success?

I keep asking the questions.

What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

Doing the laundry. It’s not the actual washing, which I rather like. It’s going to the basement. The steps, especially walking down, are nerve-wracking because they’re so tall. There’s no railing. I mentioned to my wife at least a decade ago that I’d love a washer-dryer on the first floor.

If you had a billion US dollars, how would you spend it?

Besides paying off the mortgages of my sisters and brothers-in-law, there are a lot of causes I’d like to contribute to. Better salaries for library staff, create affordable housing, stuff like that.

What is your preferred mode of travel?

The train. The train. And the train.

Week 3


What fear have you conquered?

I was once in a rental that had rodents. So I had to set mousetraps, then empty mousetraps. Yucky. Hadn’t overcome it, just did it anyway.

Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

The lilac bush next to the house I grew up in. Marijuana, which always reminds me of college.  Probably many more.

Describe the happiest day of your life.

I’m not sure it is THE happiest day. Still: I was in college, and my wife, the Okie, split. There was no way I could finish all of my courses. But we weren’t allowed to drop courses after the midterm point, which had passed.

That is unless I had a professional attest that I was having a physical or emotional problem. I talked to the campus pastor, Paul Walley, who I did know. He wrote me a note, and it was accepted. I was able to drop two of my courses on December 4, 1974 – a date I will always remember – keeping three that I could finish.

What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Cook: lasagna. Eat: rotisserie chicken.

What color describes your personality and why?

Well, geez, it should be

What irritates you about the home you live in?

Besides the steps to the basement? The deteriorating back porch.  Incidentally, we saw a contractor recommended by a friend in August 2022. He said he’d send us a quote by September 10. We called him twice after that but got no response.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

I’m going to cheat and say, Stephen Sondheim. I have both of his books of lyrics and it’s the lovely descriptions of his writing process. Maybe Russell Baker or Dr. Seuss.

Week 4

What was your dream job as a child?

For a time, it was practically ordained that I’d become a minister. Later, a lawyer.

What’s a lie you tell yourself?

Probably that I’m not vain.

How do you show love?

Hugs are good.

What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why?

A song? One song? There are hundreds, some of which I  will mention in March 2023. The first that comes to mind is Telling Me Lies by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris. GREAT three-part harmony and melancholy as all get out.

What language do you wish you could speak?

Chinese. Because, unlike the Romance languages, I don’t understand it AT ALL.

What are the pros and cons of procrastination?

Obviously, the pro is when the problem goes away as a result of waiting, and the con is when it doesn’t.

It’s been carrot cake for decades. Yet it wasn’t something I remember eating as a child.
Week 5

I learned that a second great-great-grandfather, besides James Archer,  fought in the Civil War. Samuel Patterson, my father’s mother’s mother’s father, fought in the 5th Massachusetts (Colored) in 1864.

What would you title the chapters of your autobiography? 

I would have no idea until I wrote it. However, I’d probably model them on the 55 short chapters in Life Itself by Roger Ebert.

Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

Driving down Route 20 in Rensselaer County, NY, heading towards Albany, gives the best view of the Albany city skyline, including the sunset. Also, a great view of the Fourth of July fireworks.

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