Favorite topics: history, books, movies, music

100 $100 bills;

blue booksAnother Sunday Stealing meme. This one concerns some of my favorite topics: history, books, movies, and music.

What period of history is your favorite to read about?

“Favorite” may be stretching it, but it’s the period in American history between the end of the Civil War (1865) and the beginning of the Civil Rights era of the mid-20th Century.

Reconstruction included several black legislators; Jim Crow, which largely undid the progress; the “scientific” rationalization of bigotry; the Red Summer of 1919; the civil rights leaders who were ahead of the curve.


What is your favorite genre of fiction?

I like fiction rooted in real events. The only Stephen King book I ever read was 11/22/63.

Do you choose a book by its cover?

Sometimes. Or at least the book jacket. Does this tell me something I didn’t know AND want to find out? Incidentally, it is true: some librarians DO refer to books by their color. “Can you get me that tall green book, please?”

Where do you do most of your reading?

On the sofa, near an end so that I can put one arm up.

Without looking, guess how many books are in your TBR pile. Now, look. Were you right?

Hundreds. Yup, hundreds.


How many movies are on your TBW list?

That’s quite a different calculation. There are tons of movies on various platforms that make the enumeration of the same to be quite impossible. Now, if you’re talking about movies I have on DVD that I have not watched, maybe a half dozen. But I also have lots of unwatched TV episodes and the like.

What’s your favorite genre of movie?

Quite possibly the documentary. Beyond that, comedy.

Do you still go to see movies in the theater?

Yes, but it’s much more difficult. Albany County is currently COVID-red, so my wife is reluctant to go, even though we both got COVID in August.

Moreover, I got out of the routine. When I went regularly, there were a lot of trailers that helped me decide whether or not to see that film in the future. Now, I know there are trailers online, but 1) there are so many that I don’t have the time, and 2) trailers on a computer are not the same dynamically as trailers in a cinema.

BTW, I dislike seeing movies on a computer screen, though I’ve seen several since March 2020. I’m trying to decide if I should get Roku or a newer, larger television set.


You have $10,000 and no strings or obligations for one full day. Where do you go, and what do you do?

Let’s further assume I can’t give it away to a charity, a political campaign, or to random strangers (100 $100 bills; it DOES appeal to me). It can’t be something practical. The one-day limit is a hassle. What I’d LIKE to do is buy out a large theater with at least a 500-person capacity and show a movie that people might want to see on the big screen, such as The Wizard of Oz or Casablanca. But I don’t know if I could pull it off logistically.


How many songs are on your favorite playlist?

About 3,753. I don’t know that I have a favorite playlist. The idea of hearing the same songs more than a dozen times a year is alien to me.

What method do you use to listen to music (Spotify, iTunes, Pandora…)?

I play compact discs. In fact, I’m playing the Psychedelic Soul album by The Temptations as I write this. Before that, I listened to Lyle Lovett, Rebecca Jade, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Weird Al Yankovic, The Beatles, and Television’s Greatest Hits (TV theme songs).

I do have songs on Amazon, but that’s my fallback position.

Imprinted: Illustrating Race

Kadir Nelson

imprintedImprinted: Illustrating Race is a current exhibit at the  Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, 45 minutes from Albany, NY. I’ve written about visiting there a few times. In 2017, Rockwell and Warhol; in 2015, Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs; and in 2013,  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The current show, running from June 11 through October 30, 2022, “examines the role of published images in shaping attitudes toward race and culture. Over 300 artworks and objects… will be on view, produced from the late eighteenth century to today, which has an impact on public perception about race in the United States.

“The exhibition will explore stereotypical racial representations that have been imprinted upon us through the mass publication of images.” Many of these involve formerly enslaved people, but also Chinese would-be immigrants. These are generally from the 18th to the early 20th century.

But some creators took on the bigotry in that period. “William J. Wilson published the ‘Afric-American Picture Gallery’ under the name of Ethiop in the Anglo-African Magazine.” He wrote: “we must begin to tell our own story, write our own lecture, paint our own picture, chisel our own bust.”

Later, “The Harlem Renaissance… inspired pride in Black life and identity following World War I through the Great Depression. Artists associated with the movement conveyed a rising consciousness of inequality and discrimination and an interest in the rapidly changing modern world, many experiencing a freedom of expression through the arts for the first time.”

Modern times

“Illustration, Race, and Responsibility: 1950s to Now will explore activism through art from the Civil Rights movements of the mid-20th century to the racial unrest of present-day…

George Floyd.New Yorker“Concurrent to the Imprinted exhibition, In Our Lifetime: Paintings from the Pandemic by Kadir Nelson will be on view… Featuring recent works which have never been exhibited publicly. These are large pieces all created between 2020 and 2022.” You may recognize one work, his George Floyd piece, that was featured as a New Yorker cover.

My wife and I also went on a tour of Norman Rockwell’s studio, a short walk away. The docent was very informative. One thing I had never noticed was that on Rockwell’s cover featuring Ruby Bridges walking with the marshalls, they are all walking in step, signifying their unified purpose.

If you are anywhere near Stockbridge, MA, I recommend a trip to the Norman Rockwell Museum, especially in the next month.

Oh, on the same trip, we also saw a Rodin exhibit at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Unfortunately, that show has concluded, but there are other fine things to see there.

September rambling: perfect Yiddish word

Rebecca Jade interview, Middle Earth debate

Rebecca Jade.Dallas
Rebecca Jade.Dallas

An Ode to Oy — the Perfect Yiddish Word

And speaking of which: Rings of Power Cast Slams Racist Threats Against Performers: “Middle-Earth Is Not All White.” This hurts my head. Someone wrote, and I’ve misplaced the attribution, I’m afraid: “When did we stop being able to just sit down and enjoy something that’s been created? Just take all shows and movies as fan fiction of any book that they take it from and enjoy the creators’ stories.”

Sah Quah: More than twenty years after the American Civil War, an enslaved Alaskan walked into a Sitka courtroom and sued for his freedom

The Church Left on the Curb:  A chance trash-day encounter reveals a 170-year institutional history

Bernard Shaw, CNN’s First Chief News Anchor, Dies at 82

Anne Garrels, the longtime foreign correspondent for NPR, dies at 71


In Memorium Video from this year’s Emmys and going about a decade back

Jazz Pianist & NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis Dies at His Chicago Home, September 12, at the age of 87

“Weird Al” Yankovic on the Long, Hard Road to Bring His Mock Biopic to the Big Screen

Ken Levine ends his blog, but his podcast will continue

At 100, Norman Lear Looks Back (And Ahead)

Whiz! Bang! Boom! Energetic Ads Hold Viewers’ Attention

Real Money, Fake Musicians: Inside a Million-Dollar Instagram Verification Scheme

Quentin Tarantino, Miramax Settle ‘Pulp Fiction’ NFT Legal Battle

Flin Flon: One Book’s Unlikely Survival

Has a computer ever passed the Turing test?

The Twisted Life of Clippy, Microsoft’s annoying paperclip. Its developers never imagined the virtual assistant would become a cultural icon.

Some good advice from John Green

Of Elbows and Tables

Best State Capitals to Live In – 2022 Edition. Albany, NY, is #9.

The Small Town In New York With More Historic Buildings Than Any Other

Can Something Be “Very Unique”? Modifying Absolute Adjectives

Now I Know: What About Bob (dot com)? and The Wisdom of Crowds of Sports Fans? and  The Almost-War Over a Bear’s Missing Privates

Polly ticks

President and Mrs. Obama Become a Part of White House History with Reveal of Official Portraits, and Barack Obama just won the Emmy

How deranged anti-Obama conspiracy theories led America to Donald Trump

Fascist is a description, not an insult, and  “Semi-Fascism”: The Shoe Fits

Judge Cannon’s Incredibly Flawed Trump Special Master Ruling

The faulty premise of the ‘2,000 mules’ trailer about voting by mail in the 2020 election

How Many Of ‘Her Emails’ Were Classified? Actually, Zero

Thomas, Barrett will further delegitimize SCOTUS when they fail to recuse on key cases

The Battle for Voters’ Imaginations over Abortion. Pete Buttigieg was correct.

When We Rose to Fight COVID, We Were Deliberately Turned Against Each Other

The Return of the Bitter Politics of Envy

UN Report Highlights Ongoing Racism in the US

Nebraska HS newspaper and journalism program shut down over student-written commentary on LGBTQ+ issues. The shutdown of the prize-winning student newspaper after 54 years occurred because an edition in June contained student-written commentary on LGBTQ+ issues, the origins of Pride Month, and the history of homophobia, material members of the local school board considered inappropriate.


U.S. life expectancy drops sharply, the second consecutive decline

Most and Least Ethnically Diverse Cities in the U.S.

Demographic divide – the key differences in media and entertainment that continue to evolve between younger and older Americans.

New Data Reveal Inequality in Retirement Account Ownership

When and How Often People Marry Changes by Birth Cohort


Behind the Beats article about Rebecca Jade by the Smooth Jazz Network!

The In Crowd – the Ramsey Lewis Trio

The Comedians – Dmitry Kabalevsky. The second section, The Galop, is EXTREMELY familiar to me.

Wade In The Water – Ramsey Lewis

Jonchaies by Iannis Xenakis

Coverville 1412: The Clash Cover Story III and 1413: The Squeeze Cover Story III

Conductor Seiji Ozawa leads the Vienna Philharmonic in Strauss’s overture to Die Fledermaus

Hang On Sloopy – Ramsey Lewis Trio. I still have the Hang On Ramsey album on vinyl

If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot 

March rambling: quotation marks

Support the Albany High School robotics team!

From https://xkcd.com/2579/

In a world-historic first, microplastics were detected in human blood

The Our World in Data COVID vaccination data

 How American conservatives turned against the vaccine

The Lancet: Paul Farmer

Cameroonians fleeing conflict are in dire need of Temporary Protected Status – cf.  Inside “the most diverse square mile in America”

What Caused the War? Ukraine and Russia in Historical Context

The Race to Archive the Ukrainian Internet

Ukrainian Actress Oksana Shvets Killed in Russian Rocket Attack

Non-war conflict

Hate and extremism

How did Christianity become so toxic?

The Interactive Theater of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Hearing

Addressing racial inequality in paid leave policy

Sara Jacobs, one of the youngest members of Congress, talks about sexism and ageism in politics. 

Writing Women into History

Women in medicine are running up the wrong side of the escalator

Where Does the Religious Right Go After Roe?

Sojourner Truth’s Battle to Free Her Son from Slavery

Actor Tim Reid on addressing racial issues on WKRP in Cincinnati

Texas’ New Voting Law Disenfranchised Thousands Of Otherwise Eligible Voters

The Tangled, Messy Roots of Fake News, long before it became djt’s favorite term

Ginni Thomas demanded Congressional Republicans take the fight to overturn the 2020 election to the streets

John Bolton admits that ‘it’s hard to describe how little [djt] knows’

I Know There’s An Answer

Climate Change Brings Uncontrollable Wildfires

 The Illinois town that got up and left

The 1950 Census is Coming: What You Need to Know

Timbuctoo Institute would build opportunities in the Adirondacks 

About Those Gas Prices

Concert  Tickets: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

2021 County and Economic Development Regions Population Estimates for NYS

Luka’s mural

Jobfished: the con that tricked dozens into working for a fake design agency

“They’re called ‘quotation marks’.”

Phobias. Aibohphobia is the (unofficial) fear of palindromes. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is used to describe the fear of very long words.

The official Girl Scout cookie power rankings

The Result of a Rabbit Hole

Audience participation

GoFundMe page for the Albany High School Robotics Team to compete at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Houston, TX on April 20-23. They placed 2nd in the New York Tech Valley Regional Competition.

Four Open Seats on Albany Public Library Board in May 17 Election. Nominations are due to the Clerk of the City School District of Albany by Wednesday, April 27, at 5 pm.

New York Bike Census

Now I Know

The Biggest Bread Soup in the World and Why Are My Baby Carrots Always Wet? and The First Computer Bug and The Phone Booth in the Middle of Nowhere and Beware the Ire of Caesar and Which Came First, The Algorithm or the Pi? and World War II’s Pre-Email E-Mail


Livinliv – Aleksandr Shymko

Irish tunes

K-Chuck Radio: The musical tree of Ida Red  and green songs

Holiday at Ferghana -Reinhold Gliere

Lullabye of Broadway from 42nd Street

Coverville: 1393 – John Cale and Velvet Underground Cover Story and 1394 – The Blink-182 Cover Story II and 1395 – The Smashing Pumpkins Cover Story II

Word debates: sheroes and herstory

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly statuesSomeone on a Facebook page that is about words asked a question. “Heard on NPR a discussion of heroes and sheroes. What’s wrong with heroine?”

Folks on the list replied that heroine is a diminutive for “hero” and may demean and trivialize the qualities of the women. They noted that words such as comedienne and poetess have fallen by the wayside. I remember that, in my lifetime, some people were trying to reintroduce the word authoress. For what purpose, I no longer recall. It hasn’t been embraced, fortunately, except as an “old-fashioned” word in some dictionaries.

The one word that has survived is the word actress. While I’ve often heard “actor” used for all performers, “actress” still is in the lexicon for awards, such as the Oscars and the Tonys. That is understandable. Getting rid of categories by gender might be someone’s idea of “equitable,” but one could reasonably believe that men would end up receiving the lion’s share of recognition.


“Heroine” also has people thinking that it sounds very much like something else, which I’ve believed for a half-century. Even the Free Dictionary and others note this. “Not to be confused with: heroin – highly addictive narcotic derived from morphine: He had a hard time kicking heroin.” This I did not know: “The name heroin was coined from the German heroisch meaning heroic, strong. Heroin is stronger (more potent) than morphine.”

One objection to sheroes was this: “I just think it’s mostly patronizing. If a woman is a hero, she’s a hero. ‘Sheroes’ sounds like the Women’s Auxiliary of Heroes. It’s the ‘Hear Me Roar’ version of heroism.” I don’t hear it that way, but OK.

We can beat them, just for one day

Another noted all the female heroes we have had for decades. “Alice Stebbins, first American woman police officer hired in the 1910s. Loretta Walsh, the first woman to enroll in the military in 1917. A whole century earlier in 1815, Molly Williams was the first woman firefighter and I’m pretty sure women have been doing ‘everyday stuff’ since the beginning of time.

“I mean, sure, let’s go with sheroes but don’t excuse it thinking that women police officer/military/firefighter are some progressive new thing. That’s just the wrong narrative and honestly, most of my personal heroes are some (my mom and grandma for example) and a new word just seems unnecessary in my opinion.” Ah, but what of severe pushback are some of those women still receiving, particularly in the US military?

“Language is a social thing and if the majority decide to start using this kind of language, then my opinion becomes irrelevant. Let society decide.” Which, inevitably, it does. I really don’t have skin in that game. Maybe it’s because of the ease people are presently dubbed heroic, IMO. Though I’m rather fond of the Misty Copeland-inspired Barbie ‘Sheroes’ Doll.


On the other hand, I’m rather fond of herstory, though my spellcheck is not. Sure, women’s history IS history, just as black history IS history. But there are so many examples where it’s not as well-known as it should be.

I was particularly taken by a monument of several statues honoring journalist Nellie Bly opening on Roosevelt Island. It was created by sculptor Amanda Matthews. “In 1887, Bly went undercover as an inmate at the island’s asylum. Her report ‘Ten Days in a Mad-House’ revealed the deplorable treatment of women in the facility and prompted outrage and reform.” On the backs of the sculptures are engraved with the quote from Bly’s writings that inspired the selection of each subject.

“Matthews also made a sculpture of educator Nettie Depp. It will be installed next year at the Kentucky State Capitol. She said she made the statue after she discovered the state lacked sculptures honoring women.” The only female who had been honored with a statue in KY heretofore was a horse.

“‘Women’s history didn’t show up in our history books the same as men. It’s not written down as much. It’s not portrayed as much. So, we have to reach back into history, find this information, bring it into the 21st century,’ said Matthews.” And I would agree. For instance, I had never heard of Alice Stebbins Wells, Loretta Perfectus Walsh, or Molly Williams.

What do you all think of sheroes and herstory?

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