The coterie of stuffed animals

Minnesota Twins

stuffed animalsWhat I realized after this post by fillyjonk was that I haven’t spent nearly enough time playing with the stuffed animals. Note that these are MY animals, not my daughter’s. A couple of them technically are my wife’s that I bought for her.

The monkey with the mask is Oscar. He knows he was a replacement for my previous monkey, Ersie, who I lost in the divorce. He’s the most verbal of the creatures and does a great Ersie two-step. His name comes from the fact that my friend Uthaclena found him in a movie theater. I suppose I should get him an N-95 mask except that he really doesn’t get out much these days.

The large white bear in the back, somewhat obscured, is named Mr. Applause. I think it’s the brand of the bear. He’s very cuddly. My sister Leslie gave him to me in the 1990s.

The orange lion to the left is named Lenny, I suppose an obvious name for a lion. But he is really named for Leonard Bernstein, the composer and conductor who had wild and expressive hair. Sometimes he roars, but they are friendly sounds.

The tan bear to the right of Mr. Applause is Gunther. Gunther is so very engaging that my friend Dorothy actually borrowed him for a time.


My late brother-in-law John had bought my wife a flower arrangement with came with a bear who was named Genesis, or Genny. Genny got lost on a vacation. I tried to replace her. Both of the dark brown bears, the one behind Lenny and the one to the right were attempts to substitute for Genny. They weren’t quite the right size. But they’re still nice.

There are others that aren’t in the shot. Blanca is a white bear about the size of Jenny to the right. She knows limited Spanish and French. I think one of my former co-workers, Terry, gave her to me.

Twin bears, about the size of Nick, the Santa, are named Minnie and Paula. Minnie’s smile is more Mona Lisa while Paula’s is fuller. Named for two cities in Minnesota, where my late FIL’s favorite baseball team plays.

Stories exist for many of the other stuffed animals, but that’s enough of this. Otherwise, you might think I’m weird or something…

January rambling: Bad Wolves

Sedition seems to be a running theme.

Permanent link to this comic:

Love has everywhere to go.

If you claim to value education, vaccinate teachers.

Penn Station’s Beautiful New Moynihan Train Hall Is Now Open.

‘They just sort of showed up’: The Amish find a home in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

How the Muppets Helped Me Contemplate My Mortality This Christmas (ht to fillyjonk -also for the Bowie, below).

The 100 Sequences That Shaped Animation

In Conversation: Francis Ford Coppola

The Hidden Depths of Alex Trebek’s Banter with “Jeopardy!” Contestants.

Good Advice About Bad Advice – as someone who was on JEOPARDY, I relate to this a LOT.

RIP Tommy Lasorda, who had one of the most memorable performances ever seen on a Capital Region baseball diamond.

RIP Bill Lambdin, a fixture in Capital Region news for decades.

1970 episode of the game show To Tell the Truth that featured William M. Gaines, the publisher of MAD.

RIP Dawn Wells.

Pet peeve – people who are always late.

A family of 12 siblings now holds the Guinness World Record for highest combined age.  

“Show me the receipts” and other modern idioms.

12 Amazing U.S. Company Towns You Can Still Visit.

Now I Know: The Life-Saving Power of Television and The Rain Storm That Bugged Out and How Postage May Have Saved the Panama Canal and But Can a Ghost Be President?

Arthur’s dreams and Not missing American products.  

Polly ticks

The Dark Reality of Betting Against QAnon

Psychology Today, 2016 (and still true): The Psychology Behind Trump’s Unwavering Support.

Facing Legal and Political Peril, Trump Is Turning On Even His Most Devoted Allies.

Weekly Sift: Sedition and Free Speech and The Capitol Invasion is Both an End and a Beginning.

They’ve Showed Us Who They Are.

The Daily Social Distancing Show- Fox Your Feelings: Then and Now. 

Democracy is a threat to white supremacy—and that is the cause of America’s crisis.

It’s Time For The Republican Party To Split.


The Yearly Sift: Themes of the Year.

Politico: The Worst Predictions.

Record Year for Far-Right Violence in the US.

Google’s Year in Search

20 things that went strangely, wonderfully right

Words of the Year, including anti-masker, asymptomatic, asynchronous, coronavirus pandemic, doomscrolling, fraud, mostly peaceful, mute, QAnon, remote, social distancing, superspreader event, the Great Equalizer, unprecedented, well, Zoom.

The Streaming Wars Could Finally End in 2021.

100 best movies on AMAZON PRIME (DECEMBER 2020).


Bad Wolves – Rebecca Jade  featuring Jason Mraz, Miki Vale and Veronica May.

Sedition – Randy Rainbow.

Their music will not ‘be forgot’: RIP 2020

Coverville 1339 and 1340: The 2020 Coverville Countdown Part 1 and Part 2

Coverville 1341: Gerry and The Pacemakers Tribute.

Movin’ Right Along – Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear.

Changes by David Bowie piano cover/lesson.


Symphony No. 7 in A Major, op. 92.

Piano Concerto no. 3 in C minor.

Choral Fantasy

Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos, in G major and E-flat Major, respectively.

Moonlight Sonata; also Symphony No. 1 and the Triple Concerto.

The Symphony No. 9 in D minor.

Movie review: The Antidote (be kind)

Tikkun Olam

The AntidoteThe year 2021 has been designated as Be Kind year. Designated by me, because 2020 was so damn difficult.

I was motivated specifically by two things, one positive and one not. On the upside is this article about Promoting the power of kindness. There is “a new documentary, ‘The Antidote,’ on Amazon Prime. Directed by Kahane Cooperman and John Hoffman, the film was inspired by what Hoffman sees as an increasingly dangerous cultural and political climate.

“‘There has been such division and such rancor that if that division starts eating away at these common decencies that we exhibit towards one another, then our democracy might truly be in danger,’ Hoffman said.” The “film highlights people for whom kindness isn’t a random act, but a full-time commitment. Cooperman said, “Kindness is a fierce tool and a weapon for change.”

Movie on computer

So I watched The Antidote (2020). The theme seemed to based less on kindness and more on actions of fairness and justice. The CBS piece highlights Dr. Jim O’Connell. Thirty-six years ago, “his mentor suggested he work for a year at a shelter. The shelter’s chief nurse told Dr. O’Connell to set aside the stethoscope and the medical bag. ‘And she put them aside, and I had to soak feet,” he recalled. Yes, soak the feet of the homeless.”

Reporter Mo Rocca asked, “When we pass a homeless person on the street, what should we do?” Dr. O’Connell replied, “The most important thing you can do is to look the person in the eye and just acknowledge them. Really, what they’re looking for is not to be ignored. Just saying hello to somebody, rather than ignoring them, is really, really powerful.”

Interlocking the movie segments is a classroom in Modesto, CA that requires a comparative religions class. You may not be surprised by the takeaway that most major religions have a similar creed, basically the Golden Rule. But what matters is that the eyes of the kids in the classroom were opened.

Other reviews

I found only a couple of reviews. One was a brief but scathing one-star user screed on IMDB calling the film “delusional.” The other was from the Austin Chronicle by Richard Whitaker, which I’m going to quote at length.

“It’s told exactly how you think it would be told. Lots of pretty shots of different locations, with stirring strings and maudlin arpeggio piano… It’s undoubtedly a Kumbaya chorus but is that a bad thing?… [Its] Panglossian philosophy often made the show seem a little glib.

“But maybe we do need to be beaten over the head with the idea that being considerate should not be regarded as a political act. ‘We need more of that,’ says one amiable gentleman who performs his one selfless act in his own moment of paying everything forward. When kindness seems in such short supply, [we require] a little reminder that it’s easy and takes so little effort.”


I said there were two things that inspired my 2021 Be Kind campaign. The other was a post by fillyjonk. It really irritated me. She was waiting in a store for a package of meat. “When the man finally came out, ANOTHER MAN stepped up from the side of the case and said, before I could even open my mouth, ‘I need a pork shoulder’ even though I WAS STANDING RIGHT THERE.” The title of the piece, “Again, I’m invisible.”

I surely recognized that feeling. It is awful and infuriating and demoralizing. We can do better. We MUST do better. Rev. Jennifer Butler from Faith in Public Life noted this recently. “In Jewish tradition, we are called to the work of ‘Tikkun Olam,’ repairing the world. All our faith traditions echo this charge by requiring us to move beyond proclaiming our faith with our words to living out our faith in our deeds.”

COVID deniers with COVID

Wear a mask in public. Social distancing. This is news?

donald trump wearing corona virus mask face blinded cartoonI’ve been watching the evening news, masochist that I am. More than once in the last few weeks, I’ve seen someone break down crying about the loss of their beloved family member. I’m not made of stone, so I feel a little sad.

Then they weep, “I didn’t know that COVID was REAL!” I bite my lip. In a recent comment on my blog, the blogger fillyjonk wrote, “I find myself irrationally angry at so many of my fellow citizens. ” I tend to agree with her, except for the “irrationally” part. NOW, they believe?

Still, I was STUNNED to read an article in  Vanity Fair this month. What Do You Do When Your COVID Patient Doesn’t Believe In COVID? The online version is quite explicit: “‘It’s the Trump Bubble.'” OMG. “The Right Has Created a Wave of COVID Patients Who Don’t Believe It’s Real.”

Even before getting to the story itself, this description. “A Texas nurse had a patient in a COVID ICU tell her the virus is ‘fake news.’ A California nurse was mocked for wearing a mask. As a new wave of COVID-19 sweeps the country, health care workers are grappling with the consequences of the president’s misinformation machine. ‘This is insane,’ says one. ‘I have never seen anything like it.'”

I am literally holding my hands to my head, fearing that it will somehow explode. COVID deniers with COVID.

Nothing is real

“Gigi Perez, a California–based nurse… told me, ‘The COVID-19 unit I work in has already lost seven nurses in the last three months due to the burnout from managing these types of patients.’ In the last two weeks, Perez said, nine of her fellow health care workers have contracted COVID-19. Workers are ‘beginning to resent the public for not doing their part to help control the pandemic,’ she said.”

And this. “An infectious disease doctor who asked to remain anonymous told me he had never before experienced politics overshadowing science in the medical field. ‘Before [Donald] Trump I never spoke politics in the clinic room,’ he said. ‘There is no doubt that COVID splits into fact-free and factful worlds. This is why we have a raging epidemic.”

In WaPo,  read about a Missouri county health director. Concerning contact tracing, she says, “Probably half of the people we call are skeptical or combative. They refuse to talk. They deny their own positive test results. They hang up. They say they’re going to hire a lawyer. They give you fake people they’ve spent time with and fake numbers.”

While downplaying the pandemic from the beginning, the despicable regime behavior started in earnest on April 3. That’s when IMPOTUS said his experts were “now recommending Americans wear ‘non-medical cloth’ face coverings.” He said “the recommendations… were voluntary and that he would not partake. ‘I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”

And the die was cast. Now, hospitals in half the states are facing a massive staffing shortage as Covid-19 surges.

White flag

Here’s a story in the Boston Globe.  With COVID-19 victory in sight, America surrenders. “What’s happened to us? A lifetime ago, Americans endured years of Great Depression suffering, then went off to fight World War II or, on the home front, tightened their belts, stretched their rationed food, and planted Victory Gardens.”

But that’s not us. “Yes, this isolated, socially distanced existence is tiresome, particularly in cold weather. But we have salvation, in the form of vaccinations, within sight… Then life will begin to return to normal.”

This past summer, the writer “had a chance to catch up with an old pal from high school who, long a Republican, has become a Fox News conservative. The good news, said my friend, who has a graduate degree, was that if the Democrats won, the big to-do about COVID-19 would end on Nov. 3. Why, I asked? Because, he said, it was all a big hoax to get Joe Biden elected. We joke a lot, so I assumed he was kidding. No.”

So it makes “sense” that when the CDC urges against Thanksgiving travel, it will be largely ignored. In the New York Times, a writer traced his COVID-19 bubble and it’s “enormous.” He was thinking a dozen or two, but it was over 100 people.

And much of the blame for the current explosion of cases must fall on a regime that has announced in October, “We are not going to control the pandemic.” That’s the truth. About four dozen of them have had the virus.

I am SO angry with the regime’s handling of the crisis. Americans are dying unnecessarily. And the buck stops there.

Octoberish rambling: Road to 270

Many Tom Lehrer lyrics to the public domain. 

election screen time per xkcd. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

Road to 270 map

He’d Waited Decades to Argue His Innocence. She Was a Judge Who Believed in Second Chances. Nobody Knew She Suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Franklin Graham Goes Apoplectic Over Pope’s Push for Civil Unions for Gays.

Talk To Your Boss About Burnout Before It’s an Emergency.

Hidden cameras and secret trackers reveal where Amazon returns end up


MyHeritage vs 23andMe vs AncestryDNA – Battle of the Titans 2000

The Town That Went Feral

Yeah,  thanks, Zoom

The Commercial that Killed a Fast Food Chain – Rax

Game show legend  Tom Kennedy, host of ‘Name That Tune,’ dies at 93

Five Nouns You Didn’t Realize Were Also Verbs

The 25 most spectacular branding fails of the last 25 years

Mistakes You’re Making When Reheating Leftovers  That Could Make You Sick

These Are America’s Favorite Halloween Candies By State And Starburst Tops The List

Now I Know: The Most Dangerous Pole Dance and Why Penguins Are a Laughing Matter and The Greatest Soccer Player Who Never Was and The Cheetos Challenge and Where the Cows Go and When Abraham Lincoln Lost New Jersey (and Won Anyway) and  Big Yellow Man Washed Ashore  on the Beach and  Where Men and Women Literally Don’t Speak the Same Language


How to fight the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

Dynamic Change of COVID-19 Seroprevalence among Asymptomatic Population in Tokyo

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The  World Health Organization

Evidence Points to  Role of Blood Type in COVID-19

The US Is Missing a Chance to Tackle Climate Crisis and Pandemic Relief Together

Airport enlists Sniffer Dogs to Test for COVID-19

Analysis Shows Spike in Cases After Numerous Trump Rallies

Wear A Mask (Be Our Guest Parody)

IMPOTUS’ scorched earth policy

Executive Order Letting Him Purge Thousands of Federal Workers for Disloyalty

He demands Barr arrest foes and it hardly makes a ripple

Kavanaugh Parrots His Mail-In Ballot Lies as SCOTUS Bars Extension of Wisconsin Deadline

Lincoln Project Burns Fox News Phonies And Their ‘Trump TV’ National Memo

John Oliver on his immigration policies -‘Truly disciplined about being truly evil’

In the deluded mindset of Trumpworld’s denizens,  wearing a mask is: a) a sign of weakness, and b) a sign of, somehow, being a woman—which is itself seen, by them, as equivalent to weakness.

 He Confides His Feelings About ‘A Female President’  

Columbia University study shows that over 130,000 COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided with a more robust pandemic response

Got the Best COVID Treatment. For the Rest of Us He Wants “Herd Immunity.”

He’s their monster.  But suddenly Senate Republicans have never heard of him

A Radical Proposal  for Dealing with His Supporters After Biden Wins

The Administration’s Racial Bias — As a Black veteran, I can’t remain silent

The NYT’s shocking report on family separation


British Writer Pens The Best Description Of Trump I’ve Read


Eddie Van Halen, Hall of Famer Who Revolutionized the Guitar, Dead at 65

Coverville:  1329: The Eddie Van Halen Tribute and 1330: John Lennon Cover Story V 

Live From SpragueLand Episode 11: Peter Sprague Plays The Beatles 

Rhythm’s In the Melody  – Soulsha

Brahms – Sextet in G major  – Park | Yoo | Chang | Ullery | deMaine | Kim

i carry your heart by Eric Whitacre.

Pop Psalms: Once in a Lifetime  – Talking Heads

Italian folksong The Carnival of Venice, played by Wynton Marsalis and the Eastman Wind Ensemble

Sounds from St. Olaf – Episode 2:  Cubano Be, Cubano Bop  Jazz at St. Olaf

My Old Flame – Spike Jones, with Paul Frees imitating Peter Lorre

Tom Lehrer is officially releasing the lyrics to many of his songs into the public domain. 

Sean Ono Lennon talks with Elton John, Julian Lennon, and Paul McCarney about John Lennon. Part 1 and Part 2

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