February rambling: extrauterine children

Alexei Navalny, RIP

22 Feb 2024

Alabama hospital puts a pause on IVF in the wake of ruling saying frozen embryos are children. Conservative groups have long revered Chief Justice Tom Parker as an architect for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “The majority, in its opinion, cited an 1872 statute that allows parents to sue over the wrongful death of a child and found that ‘unborn children,’ including ‘extrauterine children,’ were included in that.” SMH at the faux Christian “logic.”

‘Unconscionable’ criminal justice bills could fuel soaring incarceration in Louisiana. Reform advocates condemn raft of measures expected to pass under the new far-right governor, Jeff Landry.

Mitch McConnell to Step Down as Senate Minority Leader

Capital One to Acquire Discover, Creating a Consumer Lending Colossus. “The all-stock deal, valued at $35.3 billion, will combine two of the largest credit card companies in the United States.” As a long-time satisfied  Discover cardholder, I am extremely wary.

Ecological Overreach: Ignorance, Hubris, and Stupidity

To purchase The Black Woods: Pursuing Racial Justice on the Adirondack Frontier by Amy Godine at Cornell Press, input discount promo code 09FLYER at check out for 30% off the list price.

A Big Week in the Trump Trials; He Says Indictments and His Mug Shot Are Helping Him With Black Voters

Parent’s Guide to Fentanyl

Sleeping Pills & Addiction

The myth of men’s full-time employment

I’m a Digital Nomad. It’s Not as Fun As It Looks. Remote workers find that the challenges of globetrotting with a laptop can sometimes outweigh the benefits.

One Swedish zoo, seven escaped chimpanzees

Library staff reunites cat family

Bicentennial Minutes

Richard Lewis, “Neurotic” Comic, Dies at 76

RIP, artist Ramona Fradon, and stories about her

Dan Wilcox, Writer and Producer on ‘M*A*S*H,’ Dies at 82

Sam Waterston on His ‘Law & Order’ Goodbye and Getting to “Kill the Bull” One Last Time

Overtime rules for postseason NFL games

How Actor Kevin Miles Became “Jake from State Farm”

Why Doesn’t ❤️ Look Like a Heart?

Now I Know

The Ghost That Was Too Quiet and The Rules of the Roadkill, Smart Phone-Version and The Problem With Dark Blue and Yellow License Plates, and The Lion King and the Secret (But Not Actually R-Rated) Message

The Russians Are Coming

Alexei Navalny, the Fiercest Foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dies at 47. With every story, I become more sad and angry.

Fox Promoted Informant’s Dubious Tale To Bolster Right-Wing Lies About Ukraine

Jon Stewart on Tucker Carlson’s Putin Interview & Trip to Russia | The Daily Show

What Is The Deal With Republicans And All These Russian Spies?


FFAPL book reviews/author talks

Tuesdays at 2 pm at 161 Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue

March 5 | Book Review | The Path to Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story by Sam Wasson.  Reviewer:  John McGuire, PhD, attorney. 

March 12 | Author Talk | Author, Spiritual Director,  and Book Coach Diane Cameron will discuss her book, Looking for Signs, and talk about writing memoirs.

March 19 | Book Review | The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science by Kate Zernike.  Reviewer:  Elaine Garrett, BFA, MA, STEM Outreach and Workforce Development, SUNY Research Foundation at NY Creates and the NYS Center of Excellence in Nanoelectronics and Nanotechnology, UAlbany.

March 26 | Author Interview | Ian Ross Singleton, MFA, of the Writing & Critical Inquiry Program, U at Albany, SUNY, is interviewed by Geri Walsh, MS (special education), employment specialist, about his novel The Two Differences.


Gotta Have You –  Peter Sprague, featuring Leonard Patton and Rebecca Jade

boygenius – $20

J. Eric Smith: Yes and Good Rats

Farewell, Seiji Ozawa

Maggie Rose – Underestimate Me

Coverville 1476: Tribute to Melanie and Norah Jones Cover Story and  1477: The Robbie Williams Cover Story II

I Don’t Mind – MonaLisa Twins

Overture to Candide, conducted by composer Leonard Bernstein

Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come

Jump – Van Halen

Texas Hold’Em – Beyoncé

A film music suite from the movie Miracle

Toots Thielemans – Bluesette

Sam Mendes will direct four movies about each Beatle, slated for release in 2027 with an “innovative and groundbreaking” release schedule

November rambling: we’re in trouble

notable books

A great cover illustration by Walter Molino, repurposed by Jan Strnad, and used with Jan’s permission

Democracy and the Press: We’re in Trouble

Revisiting the fascism question

Liz Cheney’s new book blasts GOP as ‘enablers and collaborators’ of djt

Why Georgia Republicans Are Protecting the D.A. Who Indicted Trump

In the wake of the Voting Rights Act ruling, North Dakota to appeal the decision that protected tribes’ rights

ProPublica reviewed 12 of the nation’s strictest abortion bans. Few changed in 2023, as state lawmakers caved to pressure from anti-abortion groups opposing exceptions for rape, incest and health risks.

Dollar Stores: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

The Remarkable Biden Economy

You Cannot Rely on the Government to Protect You From Bad Charities

FTC Authorizes Compulsory Process for AI-related Products and Services

Rosalynn Carter, Outspoken Former First Lady, Dies at 96

Chuck Miller: A big toe named Elise Stefanik

NYPL service was impacted due to City budget cuts, including ending Sunday service at the vast majority of locations that currently offer it.

 About 8.2 Million People Moved Between States in 2022

Of special interest to me

Finally — a PROFESSIONAL Comics Magazine! COMICS SCENE 1, January 1982. At this point in the video, there is a discussion about a FantaCo ad. Tom Skulan noted that the ad wasn’t particularly successful, whereas the ads for horror items in Fangoria magazine were much more profitable.

New York Times: 100 Notable Books of 2023, one of which was written by an author I actually know 

Obit for Bob Maye, who grew up not far from my house in Binghamton, NY

Consumer Value Stores

Boston Globe: CVS pharmacists are at a breaking point, imperiling the company’s reinvention plans. The link may be behind a paywall, but basically: “There are not enough pharmacists in the pipeline, and the ones the company employs are reaching a breaking point. The company… has spent billions remaking itself into a sophisticated healthcare conglomerate. A key goal is turning its thousands of stores into community clinics where pharmacists, doctors, and nurses work together to improve patient health. But none of this works if the company can’t hire or retain its pharmacists. ‘Pharmacists are burned out,’ said a former CVS executive.”


Warner Bros. Reverses Course on ‘Coyote vs. Acme‘ After Filmmakers Rebel. I don’t understand how a studio makes money scrapping a film it’s completed.

The people who ruined the internet

The Boy Who Captured JFK From His Parents’ Basement

John Oliver – Finding a Place for Satire & Immigration as a Comedian | The Daily Show

Do You Want to Build a Movie? An Oral History of Frozen

How TMZ Became Hollywood’s Grim Reaper

Frances Sternhagen, a two-time Tony winner and television and movie actor, Died at 93. I’ve seen her on The Closer, ER, Sex and the City, Cheers, and the movie Misery, among many other roles.

What Is the Value of a Scenic View?

Medical Malpractice On Law & Order, episode 1, Ft. Legal Eagle

Mark Evanier bankrupted his grandmother in Monopoly, and in life

Greg’s long, strange trip of collecting comic books
There is no such place as Wyoming
Now I Know
 How Fake Fish May Save Coral Reefs (And You Can Help!) and Cops of Coffee and The Very Expensive (and Not Very Nice) Surprise Party and The Man Who Bought (And Returned?) Stonehenge and

The Hole in a Swiss Citizenship Application


Peter Sprague Plays Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You featuring Rebecca Jade

Tray Wellington: Crooked Mind

Mr. Big Stuff – Jean Knight, who died recently at 80

The Highwomen: Crowded Table

Jake Blount: Didn’t It Rain

Rhiannon Giddens: You’re The One

Coverville 1465: The XTC Cover Story II and  1466: The 20th Annual All-Beatles Thanksgiving Cover Story

Amythyst Kiah: Hangover Blues

Our Native Daughters: Black Myself

On The Beautiful Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II

Rina Sawayama : Chosen Family

Kara Jackson: Pawnshop

Rossini: L’italiana in Algeri – Overture

Michael Pollack accompanies Billy Joel on “New York State of Mind”

You Were Meant For Me – Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds

Notation Must Die: The Battle For How We Read Music, which starts with ten minutes about chess notation

Rebecca Jade, the first niece

A Shade of Jade

Since Rebecca Jade, the first niece, is having a significant natal day tomorrow, I figured it was time to write about her again.

She and her parents lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC, for her first two years. I first visited her when she was a month old. For sure, I was at her first and second birthday parties. Then, her family moved to Puerto Rico.

Still, I’d see her on occasion. The picture above is after my Grandma Williams’ funeral at Trinity AME Zion Church in Binghamton, NY. It’s my favorite picture of us together, although the one of me walking with little Becky, when she’s wearing a red jumper, is cool too.

She, her mother, and I would converge on Charlotte, NC, for my parents’ anniversaries divisible by 5. We often had family photos taken. On one occasion, Rebecca had remnants of chicken pox on her face, which shows a bit in the photo.

I attended her high school graduation in El Cajon, CA. She played basketball for Berkeley, and I saw her play once at a road game in the NYC area; I also made it to her college graduation.  

She was at both of my parents’ funerals in 2000 and 2011. My mom’s was the latter when she first met my daughter. But my daughter had seen Rebecca on television in a competition called Wipeout on ABC-TV in 2010. My niece placed second.

Rebecca attended my last wedding in 1999, and I attended hers to Rico in 2005. My family, Rebecca and Rico, spent Thanksgiving 2013 together at our cousin Anne’s house in New Rochelle, NY.

Cold Fact

The first musical recording of the first niece was a three-song demo when she was a teenager. However, one of her earliest albums was 2011’s The Jade Element, which one can find here.

There are two Rebecca Jade and The Cold Fact albums, the 2015 eponymous one and 2019’s Running Out Of Time. You can get the former here or here. The latter can be found here or here ,or on vinyl – vinyl! – here or here.

In 2018, I caught Rebecca and the Cold Fact’s gig in a San Diego club. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen her perform professionally, but it was the initial time I saw her with her band. They won a humungous $5,000 check!

Peter Sprague

I’ve seen her sing with jazz guitarist Peter Sprague and his band several times during his Liveish sessions online. Even during the height of COVID, they performed by being in separate rooms or even outside. Check out It’s For You (2021), Are You Going With Me (2021), In My Life (2022), and Guinnevere (2023).

Peter and Rebecca recorded the excellent Planet Cole Porter in 2017, which you can get here. Check out the title song, the only one not written by Porter, live.

Being a bit of an RJ completist, I also have  Sparks and Seeds by Peter Sprague and Randy Phillips (2018). Rebecca sings four songs, with additional tunes by Emily Elbert, Leonard Patton, Lisa Hightower, and Allison Adams Tucker

At home


During COVID, Rebecca did about a dozen Home Made shows. Some are on Facebook. Episodes 10 and 11 11 on YouTube.

She’s put together a great new album, A Shade of Jade, which one can get at her website, along with seeing more videos, checking out her upcoming shows, and the like.

In 2023, I got to see Rebecca thrice. On July 4, she was supposed to sing backup for Sheila E. as she had in NYC in 2017 and at the New York State Fair in 2019. A thunderstorm canceled the show, but my extended family and I got to talk with her at the hotel where the band stayed.

In August, she sang in a Syracuse park. My wife, my daughter, and I saw her before the performance. Afterward, we got to hang out with her, a couple of the musicians, and promoters. Then, in late September, I saw her, for 10 seconds, in the Charlotte airport as she rushed to her connecting flight.

I would have gone to see her on the Dave Koz Christmas tour this year, as I did in 2021, when I went down to Long Island, but in 2023, they are not getting closer than Cleveland and near Pittsburgh.

Happy birthday, first niece! I love you, but you knew that, didn’t you?

The fair; the niece; the funeral

A Shade of Jade

In a five-day period last week, I had three medical appointments, went to the county fair, saw my eldest niece sing, and sang at a funeral.

Tues, Aug 15: I went to the dentist for a crown at around 10:20 a.m. This treatment was delayed twice, once by the dentist’s office in March or April because of a dentist leaving the practice.  Then I postponed it because I realized it was five days before going to France, and I would likely have mouth pain.

While waiting in the office – they were running late -I received a phone call from my gastroenterologist’s office, telling me there was an opening for a follow-up appointment today at 3 pm, so I took it.

I hate talking on the phone in public, as it feels rude. So I was speaking so softly that the GI office caller couldn’t hear me.

Because I have had a root canal where the crown is being put on, the novocaine injection didn’t hurt much. I had to remember to only eat on my left side. And by Friday, the pain required OTC pain medicine and Orajel.

I went downtown to the library talk, which was interesting but long, and the subject of its own post.

Among other things, my gastroenterologist’s office took a blood sample. This later revealed that my iron count was fine and good enough to donate blood, but my hemoglobin count was slightly low. More spinach!

After dinner, my wife and I went to the movies, which is its own story.

Le deluge

Wed, Aug 16: It was a lovely morning as my wife and I sat on the porch of a fellow choir member who would be speaking at Gladys’ funeral.

We went to the Altamont Fair, the county fair for Albany, Schenectady, and Greene Counties. It’s free on Wednesdays for seniors like me.

As we approached one Farm Equipment building, it began to rain. Then it began to pour. For about 20 minutes, we stayed in the building, listening to the torrent struck the metal roof. The operators in that building closed three of the four doors because the wind was bringing the water inside.

I’ve been attending events at the Fairground for over 40 years, and never have I seen the infield turned into such a sea of mud. There were six feet wide streams in some parts for a time and even more severe flooding elsewhere. Water got inside some structures. The equestrian events were canceled.

Still, we saw much of the event. I learned how to make lip balm: two parts beeswax to one part coconut oil, and one part shea butter. (BTW, Congrats, Chuck Miller.)

Salt City

Thurs, Aug 17: I went to my podiatrist while my wife had breakfast with former work colleagues.

Then my wife, daughter, and I traveled to Syracuse the attend the final Jazz in the City event. We go to the hotel of the performer, named Rebecca Jade, who I may have mentioned on these pages. We went to eat at the Salt City Market, a marvelous concept of several small food vendors under one roof. After dropping off RJ, we checked into a nearby hotel.

We drove the short distance to the lovely Thornden Park. Jazz in the City is a series of free public health events, so the vendors did blood pressure screenings, gave away COVID tests, dental products, etc. The opening act involved women dancing to funky tunes for their health.

Then Rebecca hit the stage. She was singing with a pickup band (keyboard, guitar, bass, drums, and occasional sax) she had met only the day before. The two 50-minute sets combined cover songs with original songs from her latest album, A Shade of Jade.

It would be perceived as avuncular bias if I were to gush about how good and professional she was. I will note she sold some albums to people who were NOT related to her.

We bought Jazz in the City T-shirts because Rebecca’s name and visage appeared thereon.

Afterward, she, a couple of organizers, and one of the musicians went to the bar of RJ’s hotel for a drink, and Rebecca also ate. One of the folks was taking her back to the airport for her 6:15 a.m. flight to San Diego via Charlotte. (Coincidentally, she’ll perform in the Queen City on September 22.)

Going home

Fri, Aug 18: My family went home. The day before, the eastbound traffic was at a standstill in two locations on the Thruway, but it was smooth traveling this day except for the mouth pain from visiting the dentist three days earlier.

Sat, Aug 19: I went to church to sing at the funeral of Gladys Crowder. There were 30 in the choir; 10 were former choir members who came back, one driving from Auburn, NY, 173 miles (248 km) to be there. Three current choir members had never sung with Gladys, but they were there because that’s just what choir people do. Everyone said the music was great,  and the service was lovely.

Afterward, I talked with folks I knew from Trinity, the former church of Gladys, Tim, my wife, and me, as well as current and former First Pres folk.

My wife and I went home and took naps.


July rambling: False Equivalence

Concert by Peter Sprague and Rebecca Jade

No Labels: The Party of False Equivalence

djt’s Attacks on the Legal System Are a Preview of How He Plans to Govern, so Authoritarianism Will Be on the Ballot

The Steep Cost of Ron DeSantis’s Vaccine Turnabout and Republican Deaths in Florida, Ohio Linked to COVID vaccine Politics

Nikki Haley Calls for ‘Generational Change’ Then Declares She Would Support a Second djt Term

The Rogue Court vs. Modern Democracy

Arrgh. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) argued at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that a tweet from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about baseball legend Hank Aaron’s death after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine was “just pointing out facts.” 

My Sister Lucy’s Death and Life: Picturing an Alternate Timeline of Recovery By Amy Biancolli

Irish Singer Sinéad O’Connor Dies at 56

The Emotional Recession Is Here

More Americans Are Living Alone

National Marriage and Divorce Rates Declined From 2011 to 2021

F-Rated Charities Receive Top Ratings & Seals From Nonprofit Trade Associations

Streaming Giants Have a Local TV News Problem

Comic books took center stage for the first time in more than a decade at Comic-Con

Bruce Lee & Me: A reflection on the 50th anniversary of my friend’s death by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Why We Say “Pardon My French,” “It’s All Greek to Me,” and Other National Idioms

The CJ Cregg Memorial Globe

Now I Know: How iTunes Saved Dunder Mifflin and The Third Little Pig’s Guide to Computer Hardware and Where There’s a Way, There’s a Will?


Two recent events have merged in my mind.  One was the video for Jason Aldean’s Try That In A Small Town. A right-wing online site I follow – so you don’t have to – calls it a fake controversy.

The song was released in May, but “not a peep from the perpetually offended. Another two months passed before his label released the video, and then the left unleashed the Kraken.” Bands and labels release videos so that more people listen to the song. Duh.

Not incidentally, after the controversy, streams for the song jumped 999 percent.

“If the words were offensive and scare-wordy ‘racist,’ why didn’t they seize and pounce on them when the song was first put out? Because there is nothing offensive or racist about the lyrics.”

Or because most racism exists without anyone using the N-word or whatever. Modern bigotry is coded with dog whistles. As someone wrote, “The lyrics alone are coded just enough to maintain plausible deniability.” Conversely, the video centered on a Tennessee courthouse that was the site of a famous lynching

Indeed, the song is part of a long legacy with a very dark side. “Betsy Phillips, a writer for the Nashville Scene…  explains: ‘There were at least two lynchings in Columbia, but I can’t stress enough that there were many, many lynchings in the surrounding counties.’

“Asked whether she believes Aldean had direct knowledge of the Maury County Courthouse’s frightening history, Phillips points to interviews where Aldean has boasted, ‘I haven’t read a book since high school.'”

An editor for a small-town newspaper notes: “While Aldean’s lyrics may seem flattering to small towns, they do the opposite. They do damage to our efforts to be welcoming communities. The song doesn’t inspire; it divides. It doesn’t promote small towns; it stereotypes and diminishes them.”

Several people on social media mentioned Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who tried jogging in a small town and was murdered by gun-toting racists. I immediately thought of Arbery, Emmett Till,  Trayvon Martin, Mathew Shepherd, sundown towns, and other manifestations of bigotry that Aldean may not be familiar with. 

Only heroes

This segues into the DeSantis-approved version of American racial history. “Florida wants to tell a story about race in America that has heroes but no villains. This is in line with the demands of DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act, which requires that students be indoctrinated with an upbeat narrative.”

A Florida textbook publisher disallowed mentioning Rosa Parks was Black in one of their books because of the act.

“By banning an AP course on African-American studies, banning books about race, sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity in various school districts… DeSantis is showing he intends to not only purge Black history — he intends to rewrite it so that the ugly parts sound beautiful. This is a deliberate effort to gaslight citizens and teach children to believe the U.S. was always great, not because chattel slavery didn’t exist, but because it did.”

It’d be like saying Jews could avoid the Holocaust by being useful. Wait, someone from Fox news essentially did say that.

To the degree that enslaved people learned skills, they were designed for the enslaver to exploit further. An 1856 editorial in the Richmond Enquirer tells the truth: “Democratic liberty exists solely because we have slaves … freedom is not possible without slavery.” OK, “freedom” for those of power and privilege.

Also, in 7 of the 16 examples described by Florida education officials,  the people were not enslaved at all. Lewis Latimer was born to free, self-liberated parents in 1848 before he worked on the development of the telephone. Henry Blair, Paul Cuffe, John Chavis, and entrepreneur James Forten were other examples provided by Florida, despite them being born free.

Aldean said, “What I am is a proud American. I’m proud to be from here. I love our country, and I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls— started happening to us. I love our country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that. I’ll tell you that right now.”

In the “good old days,” ignorance was bliss… at least for some people. “They won’t listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past. Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes, even if it were the truth. They don’t want the truth; they want their traditions.” ― Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky.


Live(ish) at SpragueLand Episode 34 —Peter Sprague and Rebecca Jade – How Will I Know concert

Sinéad O’Connor’s Best: 12 of Her Finest Musical Moments

Andre Watts performs the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor by Camille Saint-Saens.

Coverville 1449: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees 2023 and 1450: Cover stories for Joan Osborne and Rufus Wainwright and 1451: Sinead O’Connor Tribute and Rolling Stones Cover Story

A selection of music about the moon

Hey Nineteen – Kent Nishimura on Solo Acoustic Guitar 

Common Tones in Simple Time – John Adams

For What It’s Worth –  MonaLisa Twins

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial