March rambling: censorship figures

Unsold Pilots

The American Library Association (ALA) released censorship figures from 2023. The data are alarming.

The 10th anniversary of the Foilies — awards given to public agencies responsible for the most egregious, absurd, and outrageous defiance of freedom of information requests.

Student Loans: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

FTC Releases Report on Grocery Supply Chain Disruptions: Pandemic-induced disruptions disproportionally impacted smaller firms, as larger companies sought to protect market share, power

Businesses Are Not as Agile as They Think

Jobs most impacted by AI

Bob Westphal died early this morning. Someone accurately wrote, “He was a wonderful person, an honest seeker, lover of poetry, storyteller, and friend.” He was also one of the Bible Guys until he moved away a few years ago and a member of the First Pres Choir from 2007 to 2009.

Jeanette Sharp,  Ph.D. died. From her obit:  “She developed macular degeneration at an early age, which eventually progressed to complete blindness. Despite this hurdle, she earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from SUNY Albany. She worked at Albany Medical Center, and held a private practice until her retirement in 2018.” I sang with her for several years at the Trinity UMC choir. We shared a birthday. I was quite fond of her.

Why the I’s have it. Is there a physiological reason why we say “tick tock” rather than “tock tick?” Why does the “i” get first position in all of our i/o word combinations (as in “ping pong”)? Writer and narrator Robert Krulwich explores the phenomenon in this video essay.

Are You Mispronouncing These U.S. City Names, such as Schenectady?

Doctors warned women of developing “bicycle face” from cycling in the 19th century.
Kelly gets rid of some open tabs
Bad proposed laws in New York State
Steven Sanders of Troy, a former member of the state Assembly for 28 years, writes in the Times Union: 
“Legislation being circulated in Albany would criminalize certain acts of protest. Such laws would be way out of bounds…

“According to a state Senate bill (S. 8646), anyone who obstructs public thoroughfares, even a single street or avenue, with an “intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm” could be charged with ‘aggravated disorderly conduct’ and jailed for up to a year. Under an Assembly proposal (A. 8951), persons engaged in similar conduct could be indicted as “domestic terrorists,”  a Class D felony that could be punishable by up to seven years behind bars. Those measures would surely intimidate individuals from exercising their First Amendment rights or participating in time-honored civil disobedience or protests. Criminalizing such actions would be a serious suppression of political speech.

“Under another measure before the Assembly (A. 8334), a person who disrupts a public meeting by being unruly or not obeying the rules set forth by the moderator could end up charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which could bring up to one year in jail. This kind of protest conduct is common, albeit bothersome. But who may or may not be arrested for such behavior is a totally subjective decision. Giving such wide discretion to police officials will inevitably lead to selective enforcement.”

Pop culture

“It’s a Silent Fire”: Decaying Digital Movie and TV Show Files Are a Hollywood Crisis. Industry pros sweat the possibility that many digital files will eventually become unusable — an archival tragedy reminiscent of the celluloid era.

Oscars’ Best Casting Award: Which Movies Would’ve Won Over 96 Years of Academy History?

M. Emmet Walsh, Actor in ‘Blood Simple,’ ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘The Jerk,’ ‘Slap Shot,’ ‘Brubaker’ and ‘Critters’ Dies at 88

Mark Evanier celebrated Unsold Pilots Week March 10-16, including these television one-offs: Stick Around (1977) with Andy Kaufman as a robot; Carol Channing Show (1966); Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe (1959) with Kurt Kasznar as Nero Wolfe and William Shatner as his sidekick, Archie Goodwin; Operation Greasepaint (1968) created by the comedy team of Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster, it starred the comedy team of Jack Burns and Avery Schreiber;  Scared Stiff (1971), written and produced by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson much in the vein of an old Abbott and Costello movie, starring Bob Denver and Warren Berlinger;  Dick Tracy (1967) by most of the folks who brought you the Batman TV, starring Ray MacDonnell; and Bozo the Clown (1954) with Gil Lamb

William Shatner on His Biggest ‘Star Trek’ Regret – and Why He Cried With Bezos

2024 ToC Champion Yogesh Raut | Inside Jeopardy!
Greg Hatcher: ‘And Friday’s Contestants Are …’
Up in the sky … it’s a restored Superman!

Now I Know: Good Mousekeeping and The Blind Man and the Armless Man Who Planted 10,000 Trees and The Town Where It’s Fun to Be a Grouch and The World’s Oldest Kindergartener and The Endless “Africa” in Africa and The Problem with Customer Support Chatbots [I DO so hate them]


Kamasi Washington – Prologue

Peter Sprague Plays We Love The Drums featuring Duncan Moore

Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Guadalcanal Diary and Earth, Wind, & Fire

Polovtsian Dances by Alexander Borodin from his opera Prince Igor 

Coverville 1480: Eric Carmen Tribute and Sly and the Family Stone Cover Story and 1481: Tributes for Steve Harley (and Cockney Rebel) and Karl Wallinger (and World Party)

Bully – Atom Bomb

Hoagy Carmichael sings the Yabba Dabba Doo Song on The Flintstones

Your Forgiveness – Paul Simon (LIVE on The Late Show)

“Life Is Incredible” – Stephen Colbert’s FULL EXTENDED interview with Paul Simon

The Father Of All Music — Why Not Listening To Bach Is A Mistake


Starting on St. Patrick’s Day, I received the same spam comment from several sources. But they had one feature in common: the names were related to vaping, such as best mouth to lung vape and brit beast sub-ohm tank.

“Hi, It has come to our attention that you are using our client’s photographs on your site without a valid licence. We have already posted out all supporting documents to the address of your office. Please confirm once you have received them. In the meantime, we would like to invite you to settle this dispute by making the below payment of £500. Visual Rights Group Ltd, KBC Bank London, IBAN: GB39 KRED 1654 8703, 1135 11, Account Number: 03113511, Sort Code: 16-54-87 Once you have made the payment, please email us with your payment reference number. Please note that a failure to settle at this stage will only accrue greater costs once the matter is referred to court. I thank you for your cooperation and look forward to your reply. Yours sincerely, Visual Rights Group Ltd, Company No. 11747843, Polhill Business Centre, London Road, Polhill, TN14 7AA, Registered Address: 42-44 Clarendon Road, Watford WD17 1JJ”

Interestingly, the photos included ones I’ve taken myself, pics from federal government sites, the promo stuff from movies, and even the duck I’ve been using for nearly 19 years.

Lydster: something substantial


My daughter has commanded that I write something substantial about her for her significant birthday. But it’s TWO hard! How can I encapsulate her TWO decades in one post? I know – I’ll write TWO posts over TWO months! My blog, my rules.

Let’s start before the beginning. My wife had asked, more than once, if I was ready to have a child. My response, of course, was: how the heck do I know? I had said I was amenable to trying, but when you’re five decades old, you don’t know if it would happen.

Then it did. My wife and I remember when we first knew she was pregnant, but no one else, save for folks in the doctor’s office, did. We were returning from a small party when we saw our friend Fred. He was out with his one-week-old named Carol. Indeed, Fred has mentioned this encounter in the past year, so it was significant to him, too, especially after he heard about our secret.

We developed a birth plan, and when we realized the ob/gyn was not on board, my wife changed doctors at eight months pregnant, which I thought was great. Scary, but bold.


The child was born. She didn’t sleep well for a few days, so neither did we. But things got better eventually. Someone had told us that the way one gets a child to sleep is to drive them around. This was SO not the case for her! On trips to see her maternal grandparents in Oneonta, NY, she’d cry -OK, wail – for ten minutes before falling asleep for an hour. She’d wake up and start wailing again UNLESS her father got into the back seat with her and sang to her constantly: e.g., OldMcDonaldHadAFarmEIEIOAndOnThatFarm… This generally worked.

My workmates had gotten us a red carriage, and I loved to ride her around the neighborhood. The school district has razed the 99-year-old School 19 and then built Pine Hills Elementary School on the same site. I appreciated that they built a new structure just for my daughter, or so I chose to believe.

After my wife returned to work, she dropped our daughter off at a private daycare for the first year. It was during that time that I SHOULD have been recording all of her milestones: when she started to crawl then walk – the former was earlier than the norm, the latter, slightly later. She crawled up the stairs, much to the horror of her mother.

As a result of NOT tracking her progress in the book, I’ve been writing about her EVERY month on the 26th since May 2005. I might have written about her on other days, but this is at least the 227th piece. Now, I could wade through this blog and pick out highlights in her life. But, with few exceptions, I will wing it instead.


Around that time,  I took her to Mercy Cares for Kids, right on the bus line. We were happy about the diverse population of the children. I loved dropping her off, and it was our little time together. Then I’d take another bus to work.

Only one time that she got there but refused to stay, and it was a morning that, for some reason, we got there about a half hour late. She did NOT like to go in when all of the other kids were already there. So I brought her home and took off the day from work. Even then, she had rules.

When she started school, she attended Watervliet Elementary for kindergarten since her mother taught there. Then, she went to Pine Hills Elementary for grades 1-6. She met her bestie, Kay, there.

Her sense of fashion was evident early on. After she outgrew the hand-me-downs my wife’s friend Alison gave us, my daughter largely specified her wardrobe. Early on, it was pink and purple, but she quickly developed her own style. She also started taking care of her hair, in part because her parents were fairly hapless. Eventually, she also got into makeup. Her process is tied to her sense of art, which is very strong.

Popular culture

We watched a lot of television together, such as Little Bear and Franklin. Wonder Pets was a favorite; her mom was Linny, the guinea pig, I was Turtle Tuck, and she was Ming-Ming Duckling. Later, she watched some Disney shows, some of which were not awful.

The first compact disc I bought her was the Beatles #1s. When we saw Paul McCartney in 2014, she knew most of the band’s songs but was less versed in solo Macca and Wings. I also tried to let her know about 1960s and 1970s Motown.  Ultimately, she found her taste, listening to Pentatonix, then BTS, but ultimately 1990’s soul, especially Blaque. She owns a 3-LP set of Aaliyah, and Santa got her record player last Christmas.

My daughter was involved in various ballet, soccer, and other activities. It’s all a learning process, and we never prodded her to continue. She WAS pretty good at the clarinet, though, and we still have the instrument in case she ever wants to return to it.

That’s enough for this month, except to wish her a wonderful birthday!

Watching the 50th Annual Daytime Emmys

Yannis Anastassakis

I watched the 50th Annual Daytime Emmys. The show aired on CBS and started streaming on Paramount+ on December 15. Of course, I didn’t view it in real-time because I don’t watch ANYTHING unless it’s recorded so that I can zap through the commercials.

Later, I realized I watched it for two reasons. One is that it was the first awards show after the end of the writers’ and actors’ strikes, so I was curious. Also, as one of the presenters noted, people used to watch soaps with their elders, in my case, Grandma Williams and her sister Deana. Their “stories” were the CBS shows Guiding Light, Edge of Night, and Secret Storm. In 1990, I started watching the NBC shows Generations (ended in 1991), Days Of Lives (jumped the shark for me in 1992), and Another World (ended in 1999).

I almost gave up on the awards show early. The program was hosted by ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT’s Nischelle Turner and Kevin Frazier. I didn’t know her, but Frazier shows up on some CBS news shows after other awards, such as the Oscars. In this role, I found them boringly insufferable with lame banter, and I turned it off for a time. When ET won Best Entertainment News Series, they accepted the award and seemed to forget they had to return to hosting.

The next time I watched, I got to see actual awards. The first winner, OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A DRAMA SERIES: ACTRESS, was Sonya Eddy as Epiphany Johnson, General Hospital (ABC).

There was a brief look of confusion on the faces of the presenters. It turns out the woman, born in 1967, had DIED in 2022. Someone from the show came up and said lovely things about her.

Cop shows

Next up was OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A DRAMA SERIES: ACTOR. The winner was Robert Gossett, Eddy’s acting partner on GH. My, he looked familiar. He was  Assistant Chief Russell Taylor on the cop drama The Closer with Kyra Sedgwick and its spinoff, Major Crimes with Mary McDonnell, which I  watched regularly. He’s actor Lou Gossett, Jr.’s cousin.

Former newscaster Connie Chung noted that she was grateful she was introducing the In Memorium segment rather than being on the list.  In addition to Barbara Walters (The View), it included Pat Robertson, Olivia-Newton (songwriter for As The World Turns), Jerry Springer, Stephen “tWitch” Boss (Ellen DeGeneres Show), Suzanne Somers, and lifetime achievement winner Bob Barker. It also noted Robert Clary, who played Pierre LeClair on Days Of Our Lives but who I knew from Hogan’s Heroes.

From my soap-watching days, I remember Anne Heche (Vicky/Marley on AW), Arleen Sorkin (Calliope Jones), and lifetime achievement winner and Jennifer’s dad, John Aniston, born Yannis Anastassakis (Victor Kiriakis),  (both DOOL).

Playing Heather Webster

The Guest Performance in a Daytime Drama Series winner was Alley Mills from General Hospital. I first knew her from a great show that lasted a mere 13 weeks in 1979, The Associates, which was about “the working lives of three neophyte lawyers.” It also starred Martin Short and Joe Regalbuto. But she’s best known as Norma Arnold, Kevin’s mom, on The Wonder Years. 

She mentioned she was still mourning the loss of her husband, and I wondered who that was. It was the game show legend Orson Bean, who died after being struck by a car in February 2020.  The day I watched her speech, I saw a picture on Facebook of the To Tell The Truth cast, who I could identify without help: Bean, Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Kitty Carlisle, and host Bud Collyer. Orson was also a clue on my first appearance on JEOPARDY! In the category Beans for $300: “Born Dallas Burroughs in 1928, he’s the actor seen here.” It was a much older guy than I remembered, but I still got it right.

Million Dollar Quartet Christmas

The Gilded Age

In the jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet Christmas,  which my wife and I saw at Capital Rep in Albany on November 25, “Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley come together again to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.” In this timeframe, Elvis (Luke Monday) has left Sun Records and its owner, Sam Phillips (Rob Morrison) for hits on RCA Records and Hollywood stardom. He’s there with his girlfriend Dyanne (Taylor Aronson).

Johnny  Matt Cusack) has signed with Columbia Records and experienced some country hits but not much crossover. Carl Perkins (Jeremy Sevelovitz) had a massive hit with Blue Suede Shoes, but his career was derailed by a car accident. Jerry Lee Lewis (Billy Rude) is still in the Sun stable, aching for chance of stardom.

If you’ve seen the famous photo of the Million Dollar Quartet, there was a woman sitting on the piano, Elvis’ girlfriend at the time, Marilyn Evans. It’s highly unlikely that she was as vivacious and flirty as Dyanne was, or that she was one of the singers.


None of this matters overly much. The bones of the story are largely accurate. Moreover, the musicians were fantastic. Cusack found the timbre of Cash’s voice. Monday could move like Presley. The real Perkins would be awed by Sevelovitz’s tremendous guitar work. But Rude embodied Lewis, from his manic piano playing to the youthful arrogance. Aronson’s Dyanne had a lovely voice.

The play was quite serviceable, with some clever quips. (The Day Tripper riff made sense, given the dialogue; I laughed out loud.) It is a ssequel to Million Dollar Quartet, which my wife and I saw at Proctors Theatre in January 2013. (This is why I have a blog.)

It’s a brief program, 45 minutes, then a 15-minute intermission, then another 45 minutes, the last 15 minutes or so which was a mini-concert. It was quite suitable for a holiday show.

It’s playing through December 24.

My church was a TV star

There was a watch party for the first episode of Season 2 of The Gilded Age at my church on October 29. That’s because “It’s Easter Sunday 1883… Featured amid the holiday flowers and strolling crowds are three landmark Capital Region churches. First Presbyterian Church at Willett and State streets teams up with St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at 107 State St. to stand in for St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in 19th-century Manhattan…

“‘It was very cool to see. They were in our building for three weeks. They used our assembly hall as a green room,’ said the Rev. Dr. Miriam Lawrence Leupold, co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

“State Street and Washington Park appear in the opening episode as the setting for the Easter parade. It starts off the eight-episode season’s continuing clash between new and old money in Gilded Age New York City over competing opera houses.  Julian Fellowes is the creator of ‘The Gilded Age.'”

It’s a show on Max, which I don’t have a subscription for. Though our church’s star turn was over in the first ten minutes, the episode itself was very compelling, especially when dealing with labor issues. I’ve always enjoyed the work of Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon, the latter of whom I once voted for governor.

Taylor’s version

In late October, I went to see the film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. It was disappointing but it’s my own fault. I went to see it at the Spectrum, a Landmark theater not geared towards the hype three weeks after it opened.

So thee were a total of three of us in the theater, two women in their 20s, and me. They had “only” seen it once before because they’d been busy.

As someone not immersed in Swiftian music, I was impressed how her albums, her Eras, changed. I wasn’t crazy about Reputation, which I learned later has an interesting backstory. But I liked the story songs of folklore. I also enjoyed some of her very early work, with her at the piano.

I agree with this review: “Overall, The Eras Tour concert film is an enjoyable and entertaining experience for any music fan, but it will especially be a blast for Taylor Swift’s fans. It is a well-made film that captures the essence and excitement of Swift’s live shows. The film has good camera work, editing, and sound design that make the viewer feel like they are part of the concert.”

But I’m still not a Swiftie.

The price of tickets were $19.89 (she was born in 1989, which I knew), but since I’m a senior, it was only $13.13, 13 being TS’s lucky number (which I somehow missed.)

Spectrum cable $15 rebate

a “reckoning”

spectrumReading the article Disney vs. Charter Spectrum: The Sticking Points, Where Things Stand, and More in The Hollywood Reporter for September 4, one item jumped out at me. 

“Is Charter Spectrum giving customers rebates? Yes, Charter Spectrum is offering customers who call customer service a $15 rebate. If the dispute drags on, it is possible” that the offer will expand.

Hey, I still have Spectrum Cable. Unlike most of the other carriage disputes between cable providers and carriers, this one affected me. I planned to watch at least some of the US Open tennis tournament broadcast on the ESPN networks over the Labor Day weekend.

When I called Customer Service first thing Tuesday morning, I had a 12-minute wait. The first person I talked with had no idea what I was talking about. I was transferred to billing, which took another 14 minutes.


NOW I’m at the right place. After verifying my information, she activated the $15 rebate plus a $5 rebate for the next six months, which they added because they had just raised their rates by about $8. But it won’t affect my August 23 bill, but rather the following one.

Go somewhere else!

Per the article: “In an unprecedented move, Charter [Spectrum] is telling some customers to consider Fubo, the sports-centric vMVPD, and is offering a discounted rate for three months (yes, the cable company is giving its customers an offer to cancel their TV service).”

In my experience, this was correct! The billing person sent me an email. The last line: “For more information about the situation and to see what options are available, visit” The link eventually directs me to two tiers of Fubo with a Spectrum discount. Alternatively, “Stream with another provider such as Sling or YouTube TV.”

I’m going to have to consider the options seriously. My phone/Internet/cable services are bundled. Currently, the phone service is reasonable, but the phone is high, and the cable is expensive. I could get the phone and Internet service for less from Verizon.

I don’t know if Fubo would work on my “old” (2015) television. The other issue involves getting a DVR, if that’s an option, because I hate watching live TV.

Less than a month ago, TechCrunch noted: “Linear TV viewing [cable and broadcast usage] sinks below 50% as streaming soars to new heights.”

THR quotes  MoffettNathanson analysts Michael Nathanson and Craig Moffett: “‘The stark reality is the media and distribution landscape has been building up to this moment for many years. Each media company owns some of the blame…’ Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall calls the [Disney/Charter Spectrum] dispute a ‘reckoning’ for the media business.” Is this “the end of the end?”

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial