Do I Understand…?

blogging about blogging

MAK, with whom I traveled to Las Vegas, has an inquiring mind.

Do I understand that you have a couple of blogs ready to go at any given time and ongoing drafts?

Well, sort of. When we left for LV on Sunday, I had 41 blog posts scheduled. On Friday, I had 36, having written one while there. But many are specific to a particular date (two about the daughter for the 26th of September and October, one regarding my mom’s birthday, one for Veterans Day, one for the 25th anniversary of my appearance on JEOPARDY, posts for November 1 and 2).

So, while they’re ready to go, it’s not at “any given time.” The great thing about writing ahead is that sometimes I change them. Indeed, my November 1 and 2 posts generated a third one. Several sooner-than-later pieces (music, movie reviews, Ask Roger Anything answers) exist. Some I could post eventually. And about five that no one will see until I die so I can haunt you after I’m gone. 


I’ve learned that when I have an idea for a post to write for a specific date, such as November 11, I’d better write it right then, even if it’s September 17. Otherwise, I might forget that great idea. No, not the idea, but the approach.

I don’t publish in the order that I write. Also, I often switch the order, so something urgent to write about might bump a post already in the queue. I do that a LOT. As a result, most of the time, I have no idea what’s being posted on most days, which is a lot of fun.

I saw Barbenheimer on successive days, but I didn’t post reviews of them back-to-back. My working theory is that if someone doesn’t like one type of feature, maybe the next day will be more their cuppa.

The Ask Roger Anything and Sunday Stealing features serve the same function: generate ideas to write about, but my approach is quite different. For ARA, I’ll look up things, such as the law for ADA compliance. Conversely, Sunday Stealing is essentially free association. The former might take a couple of hours, while I can usually do the latter in half an hour.

The reason for the linkage is that there are too many things I could write about, but I don’t have time for that. I don’t always agree 100% with every POV, but they interest me in some way.  

Need a new shiny object.

I tend to write as fast as two-finger typing allows. While I might start a post on one day and finish it the next, posts that, for reasons of time, go on past that tend to make me cranky. The blog post I wrote in Vegas took four days, making me cranky because my brain wanted to go on to the next topic.

I once noted: My late blogger buddy Dustbury “noted that he and I have something in common: we are both magpies. As he put it: ‘The Eurasian magpie… is wicked smart, especially for a bird… I am not quite sure how ‘magpie’ became a descriptor for humans who flit from topic to topic unless it has to do with the bird’s tendency to be attracted to Shiny Things, but I’m pretty sure I fit that description, and I have several readers who seem to do likewise.’”

I seldom know what will land with the audience and what won’t. I was pretty sure Roger in a pink do-rag might resonate. But a piece I wrote in 2014 about Spaulding Krullers – think donuts – continues to generate comments in 2023.

I have – let’s see – 111 posts in drafts. The vast majority will NEVER see the light of day.

Here’s a bonus of writing it down. It’s a repository of my personal information. When DID I see that movie? What year did that cousin die? It was not the original motivation, but after nearly 18.5 years, I searched my blog at least twice a week.

Until it sucks

There is an article I came across, How To Know It’s Time To Quit Writing. “You don’t find any joy in it anymore – when you sit down to write, it feels like a struggle,  you have no motivation, and even when you do manage to get words out, you don’t get that rush of satisfaction like you used to.”

It still brings me joy most of the time. When it doesn’t, I’ll probably stop. And BTW, congrats on your second post in less than a month. As I told you, quoting the late Steve Gerber:  “There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an “aspiring writer.” A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.)”

Note about the photo taken from our car, my wife driving, on October 8, 2023, just north of Catskill, NY. Five minutes earlier, the rainbow was quite strong. This is Fading Rainbow from a Moving Car. I like it anyway.

Has “The American Experiment” failed?


american experimentUthaclena is asking:

Do you think that “The American Experiment” has failed? How likely do you think it is that the United States is headed for a breakup?

I am increasingly concerned about this. The single item that most triggered this worry is the 2022 Texas GOP Platform. It runs about 40 pages, with 275 paragraphs of positions. It also includes two resolutions, one against the gun bill brokered in part by their own Republican senator John Cornyn. I thought the bill was weak tea, though better than nothing. But they have discerned that gun control is a violation of their “God-given rights.”

The other resolution indicates that Joe Biden isn’t actually president. If we can’t agree on the manner in which we operate and oversee our elections, the whole process falls apart. I mean, I DESPISED Biden’s predecessor, but I never believed he wasn’t president, no matter I wanted it to be otherwise. And this isn’t some blowhard commentator saying this, it’s a major political party in our second-most-populous state.

Among the other positions taken by the TX GOP:

The repealing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which had already been gutted by the Supreme Court back in 2012.
Leaving the U.N.; check out paragraph 273
Banning income tax (repealing the 16th amendment) and ending the direct election of US Senators (repealing the 17th Amendment, return to the appointment of Senators by the state legislatures).
Disallowing same-sex marriage
Banning sex education – search the document for the word sex
SECESSION (paragraph 33)

BTW, Kelly covers some of this same territory.


I’m of the generation where the Supreme Court EXPANDED the rights of those who were minorities and/or less powerful, less fortunate. This court has decided that the state’s right to control guns within its own borders (10th Amendment) is superseded by the right to have guns (2nd Amendment).

Some commentators suggested that we ought not to worry that other rights might be abrogated, as Clarence Thomas suggested in his concurring opinion striking down Roe. The votes in SCOTUS aren’t there, presently. But several others pointed out, including the SCOTUS guy for ABC News, Terry Moran, an opposing view that makes more sense to me. Thomas’ opinion questioning same-gender marriage and contraception, et al. is actually more consistent with Alito’s flawed argument that there is no Constitutional right to abortion.

I came across this Neil Gaiman tweet of an NPR piece, Throughline’ Traces Evangelicals’ History On The Abortion Issue by By Rund Abdelfatah. You should read the whole thing; it’s not long. It totally surprised me.

“The Southern Baptist Convention… actually passed resolutions in 1971, 1974, and 1976 – after Roe v. Wade – affirming the idea that women should have access to abortion for a variety of reasons and that the government should play a limited role in that matter… The experts we talked to said white evangelicals at that time saw abortion as largely a Catholic issue.” It was desegregation that started the sea change.

What a country!

Look at maternal mortality rates by country (per 100,000 live births). The US stands at 17.3, worse, FAR worse than any industrialized country. Or child poverty, where the US is well above average. Rare among industrialized nations: no paid maternity leave.

The notion that the US is saving lives by overturning Roe is laughable. Quoting the late George Carlin: “No neonatal care, no daycare, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn you’re fine; if you’re preschool you’re f###ed… And then they turn around and say, ‘we’re pro-life.'”

How does each of the states’ anti-abortion laws apply, anyway? As I heard or read from multiple sources, ambiguity is a design, not a flaw. How do interstate companies respond?

Vanity Fair states the decision was “a result that was born not of careful decision-making and analytic rigor, but of power.” Despite the majority of Americans feeling otherwise.

My buddy Greg Burgas thinks the Republicans have overplayed their hand; that’d be nice, but I remain unconvinced.


 We have Americans who believe the President who was elected in 2020 wasn’t elected. Many others now find the Supreme Court to be an illegitimate entity. And of course, everyone hates the do-nothing… OK, do very little… Congress. It’s not as though these issues will be resolved if we just vote in November.

Alan Singer, who I have met, incidentally, writes about fascism in Russia, the US, and elsewhere. “The United States now has a significant bitter Ethno-nationalist white Christian movement that considers itself aggrieved by Jews, Blacks, Latinos, and immigrants who they claim to want to replace them as the dominant group. It has a political party and cult-like figures who manipulate this group to hold onto power and block any attempts to address major social and economic issues…

“Corporate interests support the cult figures and their efforts to stir up mass support because it is in the interests of these wealthy capitalists to cut taxes and eliminate government regulations… It includes armed groups that threaten military action in the name of 2nd Amendment rights.”

Book bans in K-12 schools have escalated recently. Many “of the books on the list were written by Black or LGBTQ authors.”

So a breakup isn’t inevitable. But I think it’s way more likely now than I did in 2019. Jeff Sharlet, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, who I’ve known for years, has had his journey into “the far-right world of January 6 insurrectionists, QAnon-ers, and Trump cultists—who they are, what they’re saying, what they believe, and what their still-growing movement might portend (including the specter of civil war in America). Such a prospect, says Sharlet, is ‘scarier than it’s ever been.'”

Add inflation, crime, and global warming influenced extreme weather, and who knows? Of course, it would be an ugly, difficult breakup. The 1947 partition of India and Pakistan along religious lines was extremely costly, monetarily and in terms of about two million lives lost. Since we’re the USA, it’d be even worse.

1972 – the surprise party

New Hampshire primary


Mar 5 – After playing pool with Uthaclena, I stopped at the vending machine. I took off my boots to keep my roommate’s floor clean. One of my socks came off. I walked into my room. I saw a stranger, the Okie’s roomie, then my father near the window, and my sister Leslie near my roomie’s mirror. SURPRISE party! Shocked was more like it.

Marcia, Mom, and of course, the Okie and the roomie were there. My family brought Kentucky Fried Chicken, cake, and some beverages. The roomie made a general birthday page in the dorm, and a few people came by. Leslie took her friend Joe to the bus station, then returned. The Okie’s mother and baby sister visited.

I got from my family two rolls of Scotch tape, a bottle of Stridex, 24 8-cents stamps, underpants, a nice blue shirt with a strange VOTE button, and some albums:
Color Blind – the Glitterhouse
Stoned Soul Picnic – the Fifth Dimension
Santana III
There’s A Riot Goin’ On – Sly and the Family Stone
The Okie was worried I wouldn’t like the Leadbelly album she bought me, but I did, especially Bourgeois Blues and Gallows Pole.

The Okie’s father arrived before my family left. Apparently, he was nervous to meet them for some reason, the Okie told me later.

The Okie and I went to see the movie Last Summer, which she found very upsetting, relating to Cathy Burns’ Rhoda. (Burns, who died in 2019, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.)

After the party

Mar 6 Yesterday must have really thrown me because I was so disorganized. Couldn’t find my checkbook or notebooks. Forgot the meal ticket booklet, the fact that one of my classes was canceled, and that my gym stuff was in my laundry

Mar 7 My 19th birthday. Also, the day of the New Hampshire primaries. According to WNPC: Muskie 42%, McGovern 34%, Yorty 8%, Hartke 4%, with votes for supposed non-candidates Mills (5%) and Kennedy (1%). (Official numbers were slightly different.)

Did three loads of laundry. Uthaclena gave me the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album.

Later, I suddenly became very depressed, in part about off and on communication with the Okie.

In general

A lot about snowball fights, doing schoolwork (I really like my Basic Economics II class), Uthaclena reading comic books (e.g. Green Lantern/Green Arrow 89), the Okie’s unreliable car, writing letters, and eating ice cream sandwiches.

Feb 24 – Uthaclena received the Bangladesh album. I gave him Absolutely Live – the Doors. A couple of days later, he bought Pictures at an Exhibition – Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
Feb 26 – Bruce Goldberg had said on WNPC (college radio) that Muhammad Ali was going to meet the kangaroo boxing champion of the world. Apparently, MSG was going to sue Bruce for defamation of character over what was a joke.

1972: A Hole In The Bucket

other implements of destruction

me and Leslie, Feb 1972

My diary notes a fight I had in February 1972 with my girlfriend at the time, the Okie. It involved the song A Hole In The Bucket.

The tune has a bit of history in my family. My father used to sing it, playing both the put-upon Henry and the, er, strident Liza. But by the time we were teenagers, my sister Leslie and I had taken over the song in the Green Family Singers shows. It was our tour de force. I did the cowering bit so well that once, I nearly rolled into a pond at a campground. And Leslie was also very good in her role.

I suspect I had in my mind our version, or maybe Dad’s, or Harry Belafonte and a female singer. Here’s one with Odetta. The Okie’s rendition couldn’t compare. I’m guessing that I was wrong here, overly and unnecessarily critical. One does get a certain version of a song in one’s ear. BTW, here’s a Sesame Street take.

And other things

Besides going to class at SUNY New Paltz and the like, I used to write letters, to Leslie and to several friends I had gone to school with at Binghamton Central High School. I played 8-ball quite often; you’d think I’d get better at it, but not appreciably so.

To no surprise, I listened to a lot of music this month, Led Zeppelin III, Beatles, Donovan, plus whatever was on the college radio station, WNPC.

Feb 4 – read Ms. magazine cover to cover, even the ads
Feb 5 – The Okie tried to teach me to drive her Saab. The manual transmission did me in.
Feb 6 – The Okie, a guy named Steve and I went to see the movie Carnal Knowledge, which I thought was a good film
Feb 7 – the assigned readings to Intro to Black Studies were Before the Mayflower [which I still have], Blues People [ditto; it’s by Amiri Baraka, then Leroy Jones], Soledad Brothers, and an anthology
Feb 8 – I put a check in the bank to put my checking account $4.39 in the black
Feb 13 – Saw the movie Yellow Submarine
Feb 14 – I bought as Valentine’s Day presents two Kris Kristofferson albums, Me and Bobby McGee, and The Silver Tongued Devil and I
The Sunday News (NYC newspaper) editorial thinks this “Women’s Lib” has gone “far enough” and that we need to get back to “normalcy”; no female at Annapolis, e.g.
Feb 17 – Leslie took the bus from Binghamton to visit me; on the 19th, she went on the bus to NYC. [The out-of-focus photo is from that trip.] Later, the Okie’s car got hit, although not seriously. Leslie and the Okie’s roommate slept in my bed, with the Okie and I sleeping on a sleeping bag on the floor. “A lot of laughing and joking for quite a while.”

The snow event

Feb 20 – Digging out several cars after yesterday’s snowstorm. There was a community spirit, but also the more cars we got out of the parking lot, the more additional vehicles could be freed. Where the Okie’s car had gotten stuck the day before on Route 299 was a huge pile of snow. But eventually, we [Uthaclena, the Okie and her roommate, me and my roomie] dig into the pile with our buckets, sticks, and “other implements of destruction.” [Yes, I quoted Arlo.] But we discovered the car wasn’t there after all.

We went to the police station. The older guy there Uthaclena thought was going to keel over, and frankly the Okie and I agreed. He said the car was at Tantello’s Texaco, so the Okie wrote a check for $15.75, but we looked and the car wasn’t there.

It was actually at Uppy’s Gulf. After the woman there told the Okie how to spell Uppy’s, she announced they didn’t accept checks. So we pooled our money to pay the $15 towing fee and the $2 for “parking.” [I have the Uppy’s voided check in my diary.]

Non est scriptor coegi licentia

no car memory

no drivers licenseWhen I posted on Facebook a link to this post about trying to get from Binghamton to Albany, it generated a fair amount of conversation.

One buddy of mine asked: “Not that it’s any of my business, but curiosity is killing me: Why not drive?” I replied, “Because I have no license.” Or according to a translator: “Non est scriptor coegi licentia.”

This is true, as far as it goes. But more accurate, I suppose, is that I’ve NEVER had a driver’s license. Not ever. And while it’s just the way I am, it’d be disingenuous to think it wasn’t peculiar to most Americans. So I suppose it’s time to take a deep dive into that fact.

So I started free-associating and came up with over 1800 words. This means I’ll have to break this up into three chunks.

I don’t “get” cars

My parents both drove. My sisters both drive. It was never that important to me, except for a couple of brief times, which I’ll share with you eventually.

I have no car memory. That is, I didn’t care about cars growing up. I don’t know what model of cars my parents owned except one, I think, was a “woody,” with a faux wood exterior.

And I didn’t keep track of what kind of models each car maker made. I mean Chevrolet had the Chevette and some other “ch” lines. Ford had the Fairlane and the Mustang. But that’s about it. To this day, when I see a car model category on JEOPARDY, I respond exceedingly poorly.

Moreover, I never daydreamed about driving a car. I got around pretty well on foot, going to school and church, even walking three miles each way on Sunday afternoons to go to a second church. I had my bicycle, and occasionally, rode the bus.

In fact, my recurring nightmare was being in the back seat of a car, and the vehicle crashes through the side of the bridge, sinking rapidly into the river. (It was probably the Court Street Bridge into the Chenango River in Binghamton.)

The ex-husband of a friend of mine would ask me, “How do you not drive?” And since I never did, I had no good answer.

Ridin’ thumb

Even before I went to college, I started hitchhiking, from Binghamton to New Paltz, where my girlfriend at the time was attending. I took that stretch of road several times.

Speaking of which, the most serious car accident I was ever in happened when I was getting out of a car after a ride. A woman who had some physical limitation was unable to apply the brakes and plowed into that car while I was halfway out. I swore I’d never be like the driver in a situation like that.

I spent two days in the hospital, a week resting at home, then, when my right shoulder gave out, four weeks of physical therapy.

At some point, I got what was the first of seven driver’s permits, the document one needs to try to learn to drive. I think my first lesson was in the Okie’s Volvo? Saab? In any case, it had a manual transmission, and she screamed at me because I was going to burn out her clutch. And that was the end of that.

Later, she had a red car with push-button automatic transmission. Once I tried to drive it around the parking lot of the Colonial Arms apartments in New Paltz. It was uneventful until I accidentally went in reverse, knocking over a Dumpster! Surprisingly, the car appeared OK.

During this period, my good friend Uthaclena once tried to teach me to drive. I must have been quite terrible since he STILL shudders when he talks about it. I thought I was doing fine.

More soonish.


Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial