The random 2023 post


This is the random 2023 post. I randomly pick the blog post date for each month, and then, within that post, randomly select a sentence. I’m sure I purloined the idea from near twin Gordon.

A serious blogger like Kelly would pour through his output and highlight his favorite work from last year. That is a great idea, but that would involve actual work.

January: “Tell everyone about how #nylibraries have been important to your communities on social media!” Oops – I got caught advocating for libraries again!

February: “I explained this phenomenon here.” The “here” is a 2021 blog post about why sometimes people call me George; it has something to do with common consonants. This was a Sunday Stealing post.

March:He wrote in a New York Times Magazine piece about catching a girl who was screaming.” The “he” was writer Armin Brott talking about how men’s involvement in parenting is often discouraged.

April: “If you know the history of the Census, you may realize that the current decennial census asks very few questions.” I was in full data geek mode.

May: “’Am I selfless, ever trusting in my supposed maternal instinct, and willing to fully sacrifice without complaining?'”  Katy Huie Harrison, Ph.D. writes about the idealized mother. Her answer was, “Hell no!” But she adds, “And I think I’m a great mom.” This was my Mother’s Day post.

June: “Visit another church congregation for a shared picnic.” My plans for a very busy June. It was a lovely picnic, BTW. A Sunday Stealing.

Side 2

July: “My daughter started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race in the Best Reality Competition area, and I saw a few episodes.” I used to watch so much more TV in the 20th Century.

August: “It was written by Adrian Tomine, who also adapted the screenplay.” My review of the movie Shortcomings, which my wife liked far more than I did. 

September: “I noted here that my sister Marcia and I used to play The Man from U.N.C.L.E. together.” A linkage post mentioned the passing of actor David McCallum.

October: “Answers from some Nerdfighters: ‘The Anthropocene Reviewed attempts to capture what it means to be human.'” My attempt to review the John Green book.  

November: “I began to doubt my cognitive abilities.” The wallet is REALLY gone this time. What a PITA. 

December: “I won’t do this for 1954 because I was born in 1953.” Celebrating the folks who are roughly nine months younger than I. 

And the photo was randomly chosen from the photos used on this blog. 

a valuable life lesson learned in 2023

How does a weary world rejoice?

One more question: 

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2023:

Repeating what I’ve said before, The trouble with normal is it always gets worse. After the UNLV shooting, in which three people died, an NBC reporter interviewed a witness. The reporter said, “Incredibly,” the witness was also present at the 2017 Vegas shooting at which five dozen were killed and hundreds wounded. There was nothing “incredible” about it. It’s just guns in America.

Someone fired a shot around a Jewish temple in Albany, NY, on December 7, the first night of Hanukkah, which led the NBC Nightly News. No one was hurt, and the shooter was quickly apprehended. But the Israel/Hamas/Palestinian war has stirred long-simmering anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim,  anti-Palestinian bigotry, which we’ve seen everywhere from college campus to the streets of bucolic Burlington, VT, where three Palestinian college kids were staying because it was perceived as safer than being in the occupied West Bank. They were shot, and one likely will never walk again.

People can’t keep saying, “It can’t happen here.” I searched Wikipedia for Maine shootings, and I had choices: the one in 1993, the one in 2006, or the two in 2023.


Then there’s the political turmoil. djt will be the Republican nominee, even if he’s convicted of one or more cases against him. The Atlantic is so terrified it had a whole issue dedicated to it.

Even if he’s not in office, his minions dominate the House, starting with the Speaker, Mike Johnson. And trumpism is baked in – book bans being the most on-the-nose example – and we can’t even count on the courts, certainly not SCOTUS, to stop it.

Add to this the ecological precipice we’re on and refugee crises worldwide, and you can call me Debbie Downer.

What is the remedy?

Still, I have hope because hopelessness is too hard. No hope means not getting out of bed in the morning. You do what you can. If that’s irrational, so be it.

How do I get there? And I see this as an ongoing process, not that I’ve arrived. For me, and it wasn’t initially a conscious decision, I’ve been embracing a series of sermons our pastors have been presenting during Advent and Christmastide collectively titled: “How does a weary world rejoice?”

“We acknowledge our weariness.” I’m very good at THAT. The first two sections of this post are precisely why I am weary. And I left a few things out.

“We find joy in connection.” Like many people, the real difficulty with COVID was the feeling of community. I’ve been embracing these opportunities. Thrice this year, I participated in trivia contests, as much for the collegiality as the competition; I’d only done trivia twice before, and one was in 2022. Participating in the Ironweed reading, a potluck, and a carol sing were other examples.

“We allow ourselves to be amazed.” My daughter interviewed me for a class project, which she says she’ll allow me to use in this blog early in 2024. I learned things about her but also about myself.


“We make room.” Our friends gave us their tickets to the Albany Symphony Orchestra on December 10. I particularly loved watching the joy that one of the cellists was experiencing. At some moment in Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, which I was unfamiliar with, there is a dead silence. It was awesome and unexpected.

It was raining very hard that day. My wife pointed out that I mentioned the wonder of a brief silence twice. It was pouring out. I get JOY when we drive below an overpass, and the sound of the deluge is stilled for 1.5 seconds.  This has been true for a very long time.

“We sing stories of hope.” On Christmas Eve 2020, my church service was online. The pastors were present, but few others. The music was provided by recordings of our choir singing from previous years. Watching me sing brought me to tears, and they were not happy tears but weeping of despair. I don’t take singing on Christmas Eve, Maundy, Easter Sunday, or even a regular weekly service for granted.

“We root ourselves in ritual.” I have Thursday choir rehearsal, Sunday service, and Tuesday book talk at the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library (moving, BTW, from noon to 2 p.m. this year). Many years ago, a friend complained when I refused to pass on choir rehearsal to do something else. Rehearsing means knowing the music better on Sunday and experiencing the choir gestalt.  

The retrospective quiz thing for 2023

Life is a Cabaret

I’m doing that retrospective quiz thing for 2023.

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

I didn’t check, but I swear I resolved to do less. I’m not sure I achieved that.

Did anyone close to you give birth?


Did anyone close to you die?

Yes. A couple of folks from the choir, Gladys Crowder and Dwight Smith.  Also, two people I knew from high school, Bob Maye and Pat Cannon, died within a week of each other, one from ALS, which weirded me out.

Off-topic, when I get a Google alert for someone who died with my name, I always check it out: Roger C. Green of Saugerties, NY, just an hour south of Albany, passed away on Christmas Eve, and he was only a year older than I am. We’re not related. I didn’t know him, but I found it sad. 

What countries did you visit?

I’m checking my blog. Nowhere in January. Ditto in February. March? Nope. How about April? Nyet. May – no… wait, YES. Apparently, I went to France! That’s never happened before!

What would you like to have in 2024 that you lacked in 2023?

Less dread that democracy, hanging by a thread, will totally collapse, and not just in the United States.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I did a lot of stuff! I went to Las Vegas, helped plan the Underground Railroad Center’s 4 July event, and participated in three trivia events.

What was your biggest failure?

I have failed to create enough space to spend time working on genealogy.

What was the best thing you bought?

I got that gadget for the trip to France, where I could charge multiple cell phones plus my watch simultaneously. I’m still using it.


Whose behavior merited celebration?

Anyone willing to point out the threat to democracy, protecting reproductive rights, fighting against book bans, fighting for bans on assault weapons, et al. Also, a resurging labor movement and folks like Partners In Health are working for better medical treatments globally, with some success in fighting TB.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

American right-wingers and Republicans. Last year, Kelly asked, “At some point, these people have to return to Earth, don’t they?” There is no reason to believe that is true. The House Republicans were particularly absurd.

Where did most of your money go?

Same as always: the house, books, eating out.

I’m So Excited

What did you get really excited about?

Lots of things: the Ironweed reading, the Lux Aeterna choir performance, seeing the first niece thrice, the UREC event, and Las Vegas.  Did I mention we went to France?

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

It’s a mixed bag. Personally happier. But the world is screwed. In particular, there is little room for resolution regarding opinions in the Israel/Hamas/Palestine issue.

Thinner or fatter?

About three pounds heavier. My wife is pitching for us to do better in 2024, which will probably happen.

Richer or poorer?

Definitely poorer. We have a kid in college.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Nothing, which is to say, to have time to read and do genealogy.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying about things.

How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Eve is at church, and Christmas Day is at home, then my mother-in-law’s.

Did you fall in love in 2023?


How many one-night stands?

Same as last year and the year before that…

What was your favorite TV program?

It’s been so long since I’ve watched any series; it tends to be CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes. I’ve watched more football this fall than in the previous five seasons combined.

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

No, it’s just more intense.


What was the best book you read?

Comics for Ukraine; Won’t Back Down, edited by Trina Robbins; John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed.

What did you want and get?

I got to see two different Eiffel Towers!

What did you want and not get?

Competence and compassion from many political figures.

What were your favorite films of this year?

A Boston Globe critic named Odie Henderson, who I’m not familiar with, listed his Top 10, and I found some overlap. In roughly my order: Past Lives (his #1), The Holdovers (his #7), It Ain’t Over (his #9), Barbie (his #3). He also had Air and You Hurt My Feelings (at #4 and #5, respectively) which I liked, but not at the same level.

The Holdovers and Barbie got some love from the National Board of Review. The Film Independent Spirit Awards liked Past Lives. Vanity Fair had You Hurt My Feelings, The Holdovers, and Past Lives in its Top 8, but it also had Asteroid City, which I did not love. .

Then there are the 2022 films I didn’t see until 2023 that I liked: The Quiet Girl, The Fabelmens, and Women Talking.

I should make a special note of seeing Cabaret with my wife in a cinema. I’d watched it when it came out a half-century ago, but she had never seen it. It is oddly timely. Shortly after that, we watched the documentary The US and the Holocaust – you’d be amazed how long items can reside on our DVR – which amplified how slipping into fascism can take place.

It was in March – I dunno

What did you do on your birthday?

I had a ZOOM call with the Bible Guys at 9 a.m. At noon, I went to the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library to listen to  Frank S. Robinson, JD, discuss and read from his book, The American Crisis: Chronicling and Confronting the Trump S***storm. After that, I don’t have any idea.

If you take selfies, post your six favorite ones:

I don’t take selfies. I suck at taking selfies. But I like this pic, taken by my wife, a lot.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2023?

{Yawn.} Say what again?

What kept you sane?

Music. Singing music with others, listening to music, and learning about music. Again, this assumes that I am, in fact, sane.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Beyonce attended Taylor Swift’s movie opening, and TS returned the gesture. Sisters are doin’ it for themselves.

What political issue stirred you the most?

Keeping democracy

Who did you miss?


One more question; that’ll be tomorrow because the answer is too danged long.

Oh, the photo on top is one that my friend Alexis took of her TV set while I happened to have been captured by Spectrum News sitting at a Juneteenth event on June 17, 2023, on the grounds of the Underground Railroad Education Center.

Sunday Stealing – is it still 2023?


Sunday StealingIs it still 2023? Sunday Stealing has a summary of the year quiz. And Kelly has one, too, which I’ll post early in 2024. But I figured out how to answer both questionnaires: give different answers!  Neither response is false, just what I thought of at the time. I did this one second, so I’ve avoided replication to the best of my ability.

1. What did you do this year that you had not done before?
When I participated in the Ironweed reading on November 1 along with five dozen other people,  I felt astonishingly Albanian in a way I had not felt in the more than 40 years I’ve lived here.

2. 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?
It wasn’t exactly a New Year’s thing, but I offloaded being in charge of the Black History Month activities for 2024, after tacitly being in charge of them for over a dozen years.

3. Did anyone you know give birth? Or get pregnant?
I don’t think so.

4. Did anyone you know die? Or have a serious illness?
Yes, to the first. And a LOT of COVID this fall.

5. What places did you visit?
Two Eiffel Towers.

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn’t have to be a physical thing)?
I’ve been working regularly on a cloning device. I have not mastered it yet, but soon!

7. What date from this year will remain etched in your memory and why?
8. What was your biggest achievement this year?
I didn’t scream at anyone online.
9. Did you get sick or injured? Anyone you know?
As I noted recently, my left knee is particularly uncomfortable. You know, the problem with having a seasonal sore throat, and I do, is that NOW I wonder if it’s COVID.

10. What was the best thing you bought?
Whatever I got for my baby sister and her daughter for Christmas, which I bought in mid-December. I purchased almost EVERYTHING I bought for Christmas between the 12th and the 20th of December.

11. Where did most of your disposable income go (money left over after you pay for food, transportation, and shelter)?
This is true: I would have a much better cash flow if I could get it together to finally fill out the tedious reimbursement forms for my medical expenses.

12. What song will always remind you of this year?
Buried by Brandy Clark, mostly because I flew from New York to Paris this year, albeit not first class, and without the drama.

13. What do you wish you would have done more of?

14. What do you wish you would have done less of?
I am waking up in the middle of the night.

15. What was your favorite new TV program? Movie? Album/Songs? Or if you didn’t pick up any new ones, what are you still watching/listening to?
I don’t do much new TV. What was I watching before the strikes? Finding Your Roots, Abbott Elementary, Grey’s Anatomy. Movies: Past Lives and The Holdovers. Albums? I make a point of getting through at least 80% of my vast music collection once a year. I just wrote about music here.

Music in 2023

Randy Newman

I wanted to write about music in 2023. The truth is that I’m not connected to the tunes of this decade as I was with even the 1990s. And it’s not for lack of effort.

My wife and I were in a pizzeria this month. There was a screen showing some current music videos. Much of it sounded annoyingly similar to me. Musician Rick Beato has regularly said the same about today’s Top 40. But is he just an old man yelling at the clouds?

Arthur has posted end-of-the-year music mashups for a long time. The first of this year’s iteration… This is what he said: “This year, I felt my familiarity with the songs was the lowest ever: While I recognised many artists, I was unfamiliar with the songs themselves—apart from Luke Combs’ cover of ‘Fast Car,’ and that was only because I know the original.” This is no knock on Combs, but it isn’t a transformative cover, though I’m glad Tracy Chapman will benefit monetarily.

I recognized another song, Get Him Back by Olivia Rodrigo, only because of this commercial.

I hear some non-Top 40 fare, notably on CBS Saturday Morning’s Saturday Sessions. I’ve even bought music directly due to artists’ appearances on the show, such as Regina Spektor and Jason Isbell.

Still, I’m impressed and somewhat jealous of the impressive coterie of albums on J. Eric Smith’s Best Of album list. Here’s the New York Times’ roster, of which I own exactly one, Paul Simon’s Seven Psalms; older artists tend not to be as prolific. Seven Psalms trailer.


Also, I purchased Brandy Clark’s eponymous album after seeing her on Saturday Sessions; listen to Dear Insecurity.

But much of what I did buy was OLD music. After seeing the musical, I snatched up the Million Dollar Quartet music; here’s a sample. A few were five-packs of Warner/Elektra/Atlantic artists such as Bonnie Raitt and Dr. John.

My favorite, though, was early Randy Newman. I never owned his first album, and I discovered  Bet No One Hurt This Bad and Cowboy, both covered by Three Dog Night, are on this collection.

According to Wikipedia, Newman said in this 2017 podcast, that “he signed away the publishing rights on his first album, does not see any money from people doing covers of those songs, and advised people getting into the business to never sign away their publishing.”

I’m okay not being up-to-date in this arena, though. I have a LOT of music from the previous century.

The question

From the annual quiz:

What was your greatest musical discovery?


Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I’ve used this song before, Elephant Talk by King Crimson, but I usually cite the B verse. 

Talk, talk, it’s only talkDebates, discussionsThese are words with a D this timeDialog, duologue, diatribeDissention, declamationDouble talk, double talk

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