Sunday Stealing: Swapbot redux


Swap-botFor today’s Sunday Stealing, here’s Swapbot redux

  1. What did you do today?

By “today,” I will answer for yesterday since I’ve done nothing consequential today. Or maybe I have. In any case, I washed all of the dishes and vacuumed the first floor. Then my wife and I went out and had dinner with old friends.

2.  What are the must-sees in your area?

Discover Albany has a page for this very thing. The Capitol is cool, but I haven’t been there in decades. One of my favorite underappreciated treasures in my county is the Overlook Park with the waterfalls in Cohoes. The Underground Railroad Education Center is cool and will be more so in the next few years.  I’ve visited Schuyler Mansion, Thatcher Park, and the USS Slater. My wife and I are members of the Albany Institute of History and Art. I understand that the ‎New York State Museum is getting a needed facelift.

3. What is your favourite quote?

It’s probably from Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen, a Canadian theologian who died in 1996. Here’s a piece of it: “Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection.” A longer version I posted on my 60th birthday and probably subsequently.

4. What was the last thing you cooked or ate?

I prepared oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. My regular breakfast.


5. What is something you learned from your grandparents?

Playing cards. From my paternal grandmother, canasta. From my paternal grandfather, gin rummy.

6. What makes you happy?

Friends, music, learning stuff, leisure

7. What is your best travel memory?

Unexpectedly, we flew first class from Barbados to JFK in NYC from our honeymoon in 1999.

8. What’s the weather like today?


9. Share an interesting fact that you’ve learned

Almost anything I learned as an adult after college that I feel I should have learned in school. The Red Summer of 1919 and related activities, e.g.

10. What is your favourite book, movie, or band?

I’m going to go with The Temptations. I saw a musical about them called Ain’t Too Proud in May 2023. The group is still going with one original member, Otis Williams.


11.  Write your favorite poem or haiku.

I’m sure I don’t have one. So, I decided to think of something by Bob Dylan or Smokey Robinson. But then I saw the book Finishing The Hat by Stephen Sondheim on my bookshelf. I leafed through the table of contents and came across Anyone Can Whistle from 1964. At my previous church, I sang the title song at a cabaret.

Anyone can whistle; that’s what they say-easy.

Anyone can whistle, any old day-easy.

It’s all so simple. Relax, let go, let fly.

So someone tell me, why can’t I?

I can dance a tango, I can read Greek-easy.

I can slay a dragon, any old week-easy.

What’s hard is simple. What’s natural comes hard.

Maybe you could show me how to let go,

Lower my guard, Learn to be free. Maybe if you whistle, Whistle for me.

Here is Patti LuPone singing it.

12. What is a local festival or tradition from your area?

There are several, but my favorite may be the Tulip Festival in May, which I’ve attended at least two dozen times. The Dutch colonized New York before the English took over.

13. What was the best thing you learned in school?

The most interesting fact I learned is that if you add up the digits of a long number and it adds up to be 9, and that number is divisible by 9, the larger number is divisible by 9. For 123,456,789, the digits add up to 45, divisible by 9. When I learned this in 4th grade, it was MASSIVE.

Movie review: West Side Story

There’s a place for us

West Side StoryOf course, my wife my daughter, and I HAD to go see the new movie West Side Story. Not only have we all seen the original film a number of times, but we’ve all attended at least three stage productions of the musical.

First, we loved the physical setup of the opening. The signage suggests the future location of Lincoln Center. It makes sense. “April 21, 1955: The Mayor’s Slum Clearance Committee chaired by Robert Moses is approved by the New York City Board of Estimate to designate Lincoln Square for urban renewal.” Nine years later, buildings began opening. The rubble in the new film was more believable.

Thus, this iteration is in keeping with the timeframe of the original musical (1957) and movie (1961). Of course, the vintage cars would tip one off as well.

This Tony (Ansel Elgort) has a rap sheet, less the dewy-eyed kid from film #1. So his Something’s Coming is less a certainty than a need. But he has the support of Valentina (executive producer Rita Moreno), who is the widow of Doc, who had run the store in the first movie. Valentina is a more substantial character and gets the most affecting song late in the story.

Fancy colors

My daughter noted the color schemes of the Jets (blues, greys) and Sharks (reds, browns). Though I wasn’t consciously aware of this, I must have subliminally picked up on the motif.

This Anita (Ariana DeBose) is at least as feisty as her predecessor, as Bernardo (David Alvarez) finds out. The “eyes lock across the room” between Tony and Maria (Rachel Zegler) isn’t as dramatically corny as in the first film.

What I loved about Tony singing the song Maria afterward is that other people notice, some with admiration, others with disdain, which was occasionally funny.

America was enhanced by dancing in the streets, with passersby occasionally getting a line. Gee, Officer Krupke really works in the new setting, with the ultimate musical payoff. One Hand, One Heart is lovely.

I always found Cool to be the weakest song in the show. In the musical, it’s before The Rumble, but afterward in the original film. It’s before here, but serving a very different purpose, showing a rift between Tony and Riff (Mike Faist).

The Tonight Quintet is the piece that first made me fall in love with West Side Story. The set of The Rumble, with the long shadows, worked well. So did the Gimbels, an old competitor of Macy’s in the day, for I Feel Pretty.


My nutritionist said that WSS is an opera. No more so than A Boy Like That/I Have A Love. The scene at Doc’s with Anita and the Jets was stronger this time.

It seems that from where Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera) shoots Tony, he could have also wounded Maria as well. This Chino was better developed. So was Anybodys (Iris Menas). This is a very talented cast.

If not every note feels as it did when I saw the original nearly six decades ago, it’s OK. Some folks complained that there was some dialogue in Spanish that was not translated. Given the fact that people throughout – the cops, and even Bernardo – were insisting people “speak English”, it was no big deal to me. But I will allow there was occasionally a bit too much talking altogether, IMO.

Still, we’re glad we saw the new film. The critics mostly agree. The box office was rather anemic. Did that have anything to do with allegations against Elgort?

A more fundamental question is whether there should be a remake at all. Did we NEED another version of A Star Is Born a couple of years ago? I dunno, but I don’t spend much time thinking about it.

I’m glad that WSS lyricist Stephen Sondheim got to see this film before he died. He said that he loved it. My family saw it at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany on December 30.

Composer Stephen Sondheim

colonel,and journal

Stephen SondheimAs much as I loved Stephen Sondheim as the composer of some of my favorite songs, I was even more taken by him as a teacher and raconteur.

He came to that first profession because he was fortunate to have as a neighbor Oscar Hammerstein II, as in Rodgers and. Here’s a story I’ve heard him tell. “In 1945, Sondheim presented his first musical, By George, to Hammerstein, who told him: ‘It’s the worst thing I’ve ever read. It was terrible, and if you want to know why it’s terrible, I’ll tell you.’

“Hammerstein taught him how to construct a musical. ‘I dare say, at the risk of hyperbole, that I learned more that afternoon than most people learn about songwriting in a lifetime.” 

Has anyone so talented been so hard on himself? His books Finishing The Hat (2010) and Look, I Made A Hat (2011) collect lyrics with Attendant Comments, Anecdotes, et al. They are very entertaining additions to my book collection. In fact, they reside perhaps a meter away from where I sit in the office. The former was my favorite book that year.

A massive body of work

wrote how Leonard Bernstein,  another of his teachers, kept him from using the obvious profanity at the end of Gee, Officer Krupke. Of course, as I’ve noted repeatedly, West Side Story is my favorite musical. Its creation and evolution from the stage to the movie have long fascinated me.

“The first show for which Sondheim wrote both the music and lyrics was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Comedy Night is a grand opening piece. I recall that from seeing a production of it back in the early 1970s. At some point years ago, I’ve actually sung the title tune from Anyone Can Whistle. My daughter was in a variation of his Assassins, which is difficult music indeed. I’ve seen the movie Into The Woods.

And I haven’t even mentioned Gypsy or Company or Follies or A Little Night Music. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for Sunday in the Park with George. As the Boston Globe asked, “Who else would write a musical about a vengeful barber whose victims are turned into meat pies (‘Sweeney Todd’)?”

Ken Levine notes an even earlier credit, on a television show. 

Words that rhyme

Here’s something I find intriguing. He believed “words that are spelled differently, but sound alike, such as rougher and suffer, engage the listener more than those spelled similarly, rougher and tougher… ‘I have got a rhyme in ‘Passion,’ colonel, and journal. Now, you look at them on paper, they seem to have no relation to each other at all. So, when you rhyme them, it’s, ooh, you know?'” I believe he is correct.

Mark Evanier has linked to Sondheim-related material dozens of times. As he noted: “If you have ever wanted to write songs or plays — or really anything — you will enjoy this conversation between Adam Guettel and Stephen Sondheim. It’s just two guys who write great stuff for the Broadway stage sitting around and yakking…”

Evanier also posted Send In The Clowns, sung by Bernadette Peters, generally considered the greatest interpreter of Sondheim’s work, with the composer on the piano.  And Everybody Wants To Be Sondheim, a “song written by — and performed here by — Alan Chapman.” In fact, just go to Mark’s site and search Stephen’s name.

Stephen Sondheim received nine Tony Awards, an Oscar, eight Grammys, the Laurence Olivier Award, the Kennedy Center Honors (1993), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2015). He was 91.

December rambling #1: your first draft

Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact – Gonna Be Alright (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

25mphPicture per HERE.

How Republicans Trumped Themselves. Still, I’m NOT convinced that reflects true Trump supporters on Facebook.

How people respond to Bible quotes when told they’re from the Quran.

The Deadliest Mass Shooting Everyone Forgot.

Ikea’s Newly Designed Refugee Shelters.

Why Poor People Stay Poor. Saving money costs money. Period.

UN Fighting to make LGBT people Free & Equal.

Speedway gas stations and Common Core math.

The Twitter blue bird? Hatched in Albany.

I fit the description.

2016 colors of the year.

Tom Tomorrow: The Gun Policy Debate in Four Sentences and The last thing a chaotic crime scene needs is more untrained civilians carrying guns; The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper discovers that becoming an effective good guy with a gun is harder than it looks. Plus Guns are security blankets, not insurance policies.

Conversation between Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jon Stewart & a number of 9/11 First Responders who are fighting to extend health care and compensation to responders, many of whom need it dearly. Congress is the #worstresponders.

An Interview with Catharine Hannay: Creator and Editor of, who I know personally.

John Oliver on the art of regifting.

Now I Know: Gator Aid and How to Make the World’s Best Paper Airplane.

The satire section

Study: Scalia Better Off in “Less Advanced” Court. Satire of very real comments from a member of SCOTUS.

Native Americans call for ban on Christians entering the US.

Donald Trump is actually Andy Kaufman.

Syrian family gets into U.S. by disguising themselves as guns, as the US Congress marks third anniversary of doing nothing in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown.

The Jaquandor section

Your First Draft is NOT Crap!!!

Jaquandor’s family’s first Thanksgiving in New York. Several neat posts, such as at the Hayden Planetarium, et al.


Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact – Gonna Be Alright (OFFICIAL VIDEO), plus On the field interview with Rebecca Jade!

Liz Callaway bobbles the lyrics to a Stephen Sondheim song. Or does she?

Dustbury: RIP to music’s P.F. Sloan and Cynthia Robinson.

Coverville: All-Beatles covers Thanksgiving show for the 12th year in a row! “Track by track tribute to Rubber Soul for the 50th anniversary of its release, as well as a tribute to Paris with a full set of French-spoken Beatles covers.”

Chuck Miller wants to be buried with Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July”, which I consider his last great album.


AV Club’s favorite graphic novels, one-shots, and archives of 2015.

Mark Evanier continues to list the twenty top voice actors in American animated cartoons between 1928 and 1968, including Paul Winchell (Tigger) and Howard Morris (Atom Ant) and Stan Freberg (Junior Bear), and Paul Frees (Boris Badenov, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, Poppin Fresh the Pillsbury Doughboy) and June Foray (Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale) and Daws Butler (Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Captain Crunch).

Buster Keaton – the Art of the Gag.

Smilin’ Ed Comics by Raoul Vezina & Tom Skulan. Hardcover on IndieGoGo.

GOOGLE alerts (me)

Time to Ask Arthur Anything. He answered mine about Prez and Veep candidates and Ranking the Republican candidates and The USA’s gun problem.

SamraiFrog’s 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums.

Twing toustlers.

GOOGLE alerts (not me)

St Peter’s set for £1.2 million renovation. “Admitting to being “very nervous” about taking on the large-scale project, Friends chairman Roger Green, who this year won an award for his volunteering, has agreed to stay on and see through the changes, which are not likely to be complete until at least the end of 2019.”

July rambling #1: a dog for mayor of Schenectady, and the benefits of music

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” – Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
On ISIS’ Terms: Courting a Young American.

Nicholas Winton, Rescuer of 669 Children From Holocaust, Dies at 106. Here’s the 60 Minutes piece from 2014.

Why Don’t the Poor Rise Up? Is it because of a loss of the spirit of e pluribus unum?

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on transgender rights.

Same-Sex Marriage DOES Threaten “Traditional” Marriage. It’s “a threat to those who do not believe in EQUALITY between the sexes in general.”

So much anger about love. Related: There are 6 Scriptures about homosexuality in the Bible. Here’s what they really say. He could have gotten into St. Paul’s interesting pro-celibacy position in 1 Corinthians 7.

100 Percent Is Overrated. People labeled “smart” at a young age don’t deal well with being wrong. Life grows stagnant.

John Green explains — in under eight minutes — the mess that is the economy of Greece.

Leonard Starr, R.I.P.

Stephen R. Bissette: comics pioneer & evangelist, from Radio New Zealand.

Dondi creator Irwin Hasen’s final interview.

I Can’t Believe This Is an Archie Comic.

A most disturbing story about Jackie Fox of the Runaways: One famous band. One huge secret. Many lives destroyed.

Garrison Keillor sees transition out of ‘A Prairie Home Companion’.

Ken Levine’s ode to radio, and your own “radio station.”
Brian Eno Lists the Benefits of Singing: A Long Life, Increased Intelligence, and a Sound Civilization.

Polyphonic overtone singing – Anna-Maria Hefele.

Keith Richards: Life. Full Documentary Movie – 1 hour.


Songs that Stephen Sondheim wishes he’d written. (This is part 3, but the first two are linked within.)

Paul McCartney Opens Up About Lennon, Yoko, and More. “Our greatest living rock star on why Lennon’s a martyr, who gets the credit, and touring in his seventies.”

Nice story about guitarist Lawrence Juber.

Now I Know: A Tale of One Cities.

Leonard Maltin remembers Omar Sharif. I noted that I knew him better from reading his bridge column, initially with Charles Goren, trying (and failing) to ascertain the art of the artificial bid.

BBC Radio 2003 half-hour documentary of the romantic (and business) relationship of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz available for the month of July. Here’s Mark Evanier’s brief encounter with them.

Korean age.

Meet The Obscure Exclamation Comma: Because Excitement Can Happen In The Middle Of A Sentence. Sorry, I ain’t buying.

A Dog Named Diamond Is Running for Mayor of Schenectady, New York. And her owner, Kathy, sits about ten feet from my desk at work. In fact, I have Roger Fur Mayor bumper sticker on my office cubicle wall, from when that cat ran in 2011.

Maria from Sesame Street retires. That would be Sonia Manzano.

Muppets: Congressional Muppets and what is marriage and number six and a thank you.

This Crazy Fan Theory About ‘Jeopardy!’ Actually Makes Total Sense. Or not.


The Friends of the Albany Public Library presented the library with a check at the Washington Avenue branch. “The $3,500 will go towards the costs of the summer reading program. Albany’s Tulip Queen was also on hand for the presentation.”

Preparing the circus’ center ring. The state of the Republican debate.

Jaquandor links to stuff.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial