March rambling: Odyssey of the Mind

Vote for Rebecca Jade!

The team from Wizard’s Wardrobe, the one-to-one literacy program in Albany’s South End,  won an Odyssey of the Mind program’s regional competition. And they’ll travel to Syracuse next month to compete on the state level!

If you would like to donate to Wizard’s Wardrobe to defray the additional expenses of travel, please go to the Wizard’s Wardrobe website or send a check to Wizard’s Wardrobe, PO Box 61, Albany, NY 12201. I should note that my wife is the Program Director of Wizard’s Wardrobe.

News and features

‘Cowardly’: NY Times Pummeled for Ignoring NC GOP Nominee’s Hitler and Holocaust Remarks

SCOTUS failing

Incomplete vs. overshoot
Biden Met the Challenge (SotU) 

Boeing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

The real problem with anonymity

The Death of Peak TV

Grandparents and Their Coresident Grandchildren: 2021

The Advventures of Prisma and Hydrofera Blue

THE ART AND HISTORY OF LETTERING COMICS by Todd Klein, a free online book by Todd Klein and why you might want to check it out 

From eerily prescient to wildly incorrect, 100-year-old predictions about 2024

Iris Aptel. renowned New York designer and style icon dies aged 102

How to Move a 1,000-Pound Rescued Manatee (Swimming Isn’t an Option)

Why Peter Pan Needed a Dusting and The Guy Who Flew to School and The Philadelphia Poison Plot and Can Killing Vampires Cure Tuberculosis?

Wikipedia is home to a list of lists of lists.

SMH: Catskill High School

Catskill, NY, is about three-quarters of an hour south of Albany. The basic facts are not in dispute. Choral director Michelle Storrs-Ryan was conducting a rehearsal for the upcoming high school production of Cinderella. Storrs-Ryan said facetiously to the young performers, “Be quiet, I’m going to get the tape!” according to a student named Madison, who said she volunteered. Madison took the piece of tape, put it on her mouth for about 30 seconds, removed it, and everyone laughed.

Well, almost everyone. Someone reported the occurrence, and the district superintendent, Dan Wilson, suspended Storrs-Ryan and school Principal Junait Shah.  Several protests and walkouts involving students and parents have occurred over the suspensions. Many want the superintendent to be removed over what most considered a “non-incident.”

Meanwhile, Cinderella is scheduled to premiere on March 15. The show’s choreographer, Marcus McGregor, is trying to hold things together. But would the student actors want to continue without their beloved director? McGregor was quoted in the March 12 Times Union that the show  wouldn’t be ready by then, with a dress rehearsal over the past weekend canceled.

Having seen several productions at Catskill High School – my niece Alexa was in them – I can attest that the shows were quite good to excellent and that her students adore her. Unsurprisingly, I have seen universal anger on the Catskill Community Board page on Facebook regarding the treatment of the teacher and principal.

The Board of Education released a statement noting its regularly scheduled board meeting would be March 13. As Frank S. Robinson pointed out, this is an insanity machine

Albany Public Library trustees

Albany people: Want to be a library advocate for the community? Consider becoming a library trustee!

The APL is looking for three new library trustees this spring. Two seats carry full five-year terms, while one seat carries a partial term of one year.

Albany residents interested in running for a seat on the board need to complete and submit nominating petitions by May 1. Please visit the website for full details and to download a nominating petition

There will be two information sessions for people interested in running:

You’ll learn more about the nomination and election process, and what it’s like to serve on the APL board. Several current trustees will discuss their experiences. The trustee election is set for May 21.


The San Diego Music Awards voting is open until March 27th at 5pm. I’m voting for #21 Best Video: My Reason by Rebecca Jade and #3 Best Jazz Album: Side Streets- Peter Sprague.

The Jade Element – Move On: Live from Higher Ground Music & Media

Peter Sprague Plays Have You Heard featuring Leonard Patton

Eric Carmen of the Raspberries and a solo career, died at 74. Here are some K-Chuck Radio songs

American Festival Overture by William Schuman, with Leonard Bernstein conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

J. Eric Smith’s favorites: NoMeansNo and The Damned and CAN

Coverville 1478: Cover Stories for Manic Street Preachers, Corinne Bailey Rae and The Alarm and 1479: Cover Stories for The Who and Justin Bieber

The Sirens by Reinhold Gliere

Bob Dylan – Things Have Changed

Scandal in Oz: Was “Over the Rainbow” Plagiarized? Concert Étude, Op. 38 by Signe Lund, played by Rune Alver; Over The Rainbow – Judy Garland

With A Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker; I am namechecked!

Steve Lawrence, the Grammy and Emmy winner who made up pop music duo Steve & Eydie with wife Eydie Gormé, has died. He was 88.

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm is coming to the Portland (ME) Art Museum Opening September 14th, 2024 until January 19th, 2025

Actor Charlayne Woodard is 70

Wizard’s Wardrobe

When my wife unretired, she began working at The Wizard’s Wardrobe, a  “high-quality, one-on-one after-school tutoring program.”

For the past few years, there has been a Readers Theatre fundraising event at the Capital Rep Theater in early October. I was one of the two people working the “green room.” A variety of usually local readers participate. It’s nice to get a “name” guest.

This year’s “name” was Charlayne Woodard, who grew up in Albany.  Several of the patrons knew her when she was growing up.   It’s always interesting when a performer from a small or medium-sized town goes to New York, LA, Nashville, or wherever and succeeds, fulfilling the promise that those who knew them can embrace.

When I saw the movie Hair (1979), I imagine Albany was abuzz when she and others sang White Boys.

Her IMDb bio begins: “Charlayne Woodard is a dazzling force in American theater, captivating audiences with her exceptional talent as both an actress and playwright. With two Obie Awards under her belt and nominations for the highly prestigious Tony and Drama Desk Awards, she has solidified her place as one of the most acclaimed performers of our time. ” Heck, she’s been drawn by Al Hirschfeld! Here’s her IBDb page.

I know her mostly from early episodes of Roseanne (Vonda Green – great last name, that), Days of Our Lives c 1991 (Desiree McCall), and as a recurring character, Sister Peg, on Law and Order: SVU.  Marvel Cinematic Universe fans might recognize her as Nick Fury’s wife Varra / Priscilla Davis, in The Secret Invasion miniseries.

She has many writing credits, including multi-character plays Flight and The Garden. This developed during her time in New York State’s capital.


When she was in town in 2019, she “reflected that most of her success was because of the wonderful family she grew up with in Albany.

“‘We had parents that loved their kids and put them first. Our parents worked every day during the week to provide for us, but on the weekends they spent time with us.’

“The spring of Woodard’s senior year at Albany High School, she and a group of African-American students wanted to put on a show of their own. Under the guidance of teacher John Velie, Anyone ‘Round My Goal Is It was born, a theater piece about ‘the history of Albany and how it related to slavery and us and growing up,’ Woodard said.

“The idea behind the show was to ‘do something different,’ she said, which included creating the book, the music, and the costumes. (‘I made those smocks, terribly made smocks,’ she said.)

“It was to tell a story that wouldn’t be reflected in the popular Broadway shows at the time. The group would end up touring around the area over the summer to perform the show in church basements, youth centers, gymnasiums, and correction facilities. ‘That spring sort of let me know that I wanted to be an actor,’ Woodard said.”

I may never leave town again

US Mail (not US male)

I seem to be involved in a lot of stuff for a retired guy. I may never leave town again. The period following my trip to Las Vegas was hectic.

Fri, Sept 29:  I had my annual physical., which my wife took me to. My physician’s office has moved thrice in the past few years because St. Peter’s Health Services/Trinity Health has bounced her around to Delmar, then to Slingerland, and now to Rensselaer (all in the metro but in different directions). The last move would take me an hour to get to and well over an hour to get back by bus, which is how I had gotten to her previous locations. 

Taking a term created by another patient, my doctor declared me welderly, a portmanteau of well and elderly.

My wife had booked a trip to a Wyndham timeshare property in western Massachusetts well before I planned my Las Vegas sojourn. I went with her largely because I wouldn’t otherwise see her.

Sat, Sept 30: In the morning, we returned to Albany to attend the funeral of  Dwight Smith, and I sang in the choir. I learn so much at a funeral, even about people I’ve known for years. Then, my wife returned to Massachusetts with a friend to see a play the next day.


Sun, Oct 1: I went to church. When I got home, I waded through too many emails.

Then, I went to Fort Orange Brewing for a trivia contest, a benefit for Empower Ethiopia. We started slowly, but we were in the upper half of the teams by the second round, and in second place, only two points behind the leaders, after the sixth and penultimate round.

The category of the final question was US Mail. In what decade did the price of a first-class stamp reach double digits, i.e., ten cents or more? I distinctly remember a four-cent purple Lincoln stamp when I was nine or ten, so the 1970s seemed reasonable. (It was March 2, 1974. ) The team in first place bet nothing but said the 1960s. We bet 213 of our 220 points, making sure we’d beat the third-place team if they got it right, and they had bet it all, assuming we were also correct. Janna, Annika, Chuck, and I won. Fist pump!

One thing to another

Mon, Oct 2: I went to Labcorp for fasting bloodwork at 10:30 a.m., the earliest slot I could get.

At 2 p.m., I recorded a five-minute video for the upcoming conference of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&BS) about my great-great-grandfather, James Archer. I hope they use it. 

Finally, at 4 p.m., I went to Capital Rep to the Wizard’s Wardrobe Reader’s Theater with my wife. I helped greet the readers and escort them to the “green room,” as it were. At the risk of sounding boastful, I’m pretty good at that.

That evening, the power went off for about five minutes, then three minutes, and finally well over an hour, so I went to bed.

Tues, Oct 3: Finally, the restart of my church’s Tuesday Bible Guys on ZOOM.

Then I had to figure out an introduction of Marina Antropow Cramer, who was doing an author talk at the Albany Public Library about her historically-based fiction books Roads (“When Nazi forces occupy the beautiful coastal city of Yalta, everything changes.”) and Marfa’s River.

Wed, Oct 4: Aside from making pancakes for dinner and watching baseball, I did almost nothing, flipping back and forth between two games.

Torschlusspanik: travel plans

one phone number at a time


The Word Of The Day for April 26 was Torschlusspanik, pronounced toɐ̯ʃlʊsˈpanɪk. It means “The fear that time to act is running out.” It is a German word from the 1960s that literally means “gate-shut panic.” A sample sentence: “I raced to the train station with the Torschlusspanik that I was going to miss the last train of the evening.”

We felt this during the last two weeks of our travel plans before our trip to France—the first big worry: communication. I called my phone carrier to learn how to use my cell phone overseas. The answer: I can’t. Their service covers only the US and Canada.

I called a friend who has traveled to more countries than any three people I know, and they suggested a carrier. During the  90-minute call, I also ordered a new phone and a watch.

The new phone was supposed to arrive on Monday, six days before our departure, which would have been great. But it was rescheduled for Tuesday, a busy day; sure enough, the attempted delivery occurred while I was away from home.

It finally arrived on Wednesday morning, but I needed to accomplish so many non-trip tasks that I could not start on the phone tasks until  Thursday, three days before departure. The first piece was setting up a remote WiFi device so my wife could use HER phone and I could access my computer. But I  couldn’t get it to work.


I had to contact my current cell carrier and get a transfer PIN to give to the new carrier so I could keep my old phone number. After I unpackaged the new phone, I had to wait. My previous phone was the first iPhone I ever owned. I learned what others already knew, that the applications from Phone 1 move to Phone 2 when they are nearby.

Then my wife called to say she was coming home, and I had to take out the garbage, run the dishwasher and pack. We have to pick up our daughter from college the next day. Because my wife had to work Saturday, she correctly decided that we should drive out the night before and stay at a hotel.

We arrived at our daughter’s dorm. My, there’s a lot of stuff. We had brought home quite a bit at spring break. But I doubted whether what she packed could fit in the vehicle, and I’m an excellent car packer.

Ultimately, she abandoned a couple of items. Still, there were things under my daughter’s feet. Her dirty laundry was in a large plastic bag between my legs, which I pressed down so that it would not block the mirror on the passenger-side door.

We unloaded the car, and my daughter and I schlepped the items inside as my wife went to work. Our living room was a disaster area.

During this process, my new carrier assigned me a new telephone number. Yikes, no! I spent another two hours returning to my old cell number and synching it to the new watch.

Wizard’s Wardrobe

One day before departure, my wife was tabling in Washington Park during the Tulipfest on Saturday. She’s promoting where she works, Wizard’s Wardrobe, an afterschool tutoring program in Albany’s South End.  I volunteered to work a three-hour shift, which was productive and fun, but it fed into the Torschlusspanik.

Ultimately, after I got home, my daughter got the SIM card into a device, scanned my wife’s and my passports into a Customs app, Mobile Passport Control, and did it all in four minutes after I was unsuccessful.

We’re packed and all set to go to France. Or I hope so.

Active October, part 1

Three events on October 1st

Literary Legends 2022It’s been an active October 2022, a mix of joy and anxiety, so much so that I have to diary this, and this is just the first part.

Saturday, Oct 1: Go to my former church at 9:45 a.m. We in the pickup choir rehearsed How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place, then sang it at the Jim Kalas service. I also told the story that I noted in the blog post.

There was a reception afterward in the quite lovely parlor. It’s always a bittersweet time returning to a place I spent 17 years worshipping. Some of the parishioners there still remember me, and vice versa.

My wife and I had a 3 p.m. play to attend. Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors was written by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen, who have penned Ebenezer’s Big Christmas Show and Crime and Punishment: A Comedy. Dracula is described as “Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire tale… put into a blender with the comedic influences of Mel Brooks, Monty Python, and the 39 Steps.” The five-member cast, playing multiple roles, was entertaining.

Still, I wouldn’t have picked that particular day to see the production but for a scheduling snag of my own making. My wife and I have a subscription for plays at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady during the 2022-2023 season. Part of the package included a couple of shows at the affiliated Capital Repertory Theatre, usually designated as Capital Rep.

Who calendars for this guy?

It was not until I looked at the online tickets that I had scheduled us to see Dracula and Aladdin ON THE SAME DAY. I’ve seen two different movies in a cinema, back-to-back. But watching two plays in two cities six hours apart? That did not work for us.

I bumped Drac to October 1, knowing the following two weekends were out because I would be away at my sister’s high school reunion and visiting my daughter’s college. It wasn’t until I started putting the plays into the calendar on my phone that I realized I had created another problem.

The Literary Legends gala, the primary fundraiser for the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library Foundation was ALSO on October 1. And as a board member, I had been working on the event! So I missed the setup (oy) but there for the event.

Sunday, October 2: the usual. Church, ZOOM meeting with my sisters. There was another event we could have gone to, but I begged off.

Readers Theatre

Monday, October 3: My second visit to the Capital Rep building, this time to help set up for the Wizard’s Wardrobe signature fundraising event, The Readers Theatre, “an evening of powerful readings.” Addressing the theme of Hope for Changing Times, the speakers included Alice Green of the Law and Justice Center.

My wife noted that I experienced the unusual Exacta, people recognizing me from working at FantaCo (1980-1988) AND being on JEOPARDY in 1998 at the same event. More surprising was that the latter was Nell Stokes, one of the other speakers, who I’ve known for about a decade. “I didn’t know you, but I was rooting for you!”

The other speakers were Paul Grondahl of the NYS Writers’ Institute, Jean-Remy Monnay, Holly McKenna, and an eighth-grader who had memorized her impressive talk. The host was Casey Seiler of the Albany Times Union.

Among the tasks for my wife and me was welcoming people at the door. My wife felt chilly, presumably from the night air. But I’m the one who was more likely to feel cold. I found it mildly curious but didn’t think much of it.

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