The Bloganuary 2023 questions

lilacs, laundry, Chinese

bloganuary 2023I wanted to do Bloganuary 2023, but I can’t wait for the morning to create. So I did all of them at the end of January, and I’m posting them all here.

What is something you want to achieve this year?

I want to offload some tasks that devolved to me rather than things I sought to do.
How are you brave?

At some level, I’ve managed to fool a lot of people into thinking I’m an extrovert. I’m not, but I must be faking it well.

What is the earliest memory you have?

I don’t know if it is an actual memory, or recalling the photo, probably the latter. My family used to go to the Catskill Game Farm in Catskill, NY. When I was about three, I was in some large plastic or metal pumpkin.

What is a treasure that’s been lost?

I had stuff at my grandmother’s house in Binghamton, NY. Some were stolen from there back in 1973 or so – my coin collection, all of my baseball cards, and some of my LPs, alphabetically A and early B, then S-Z, including a lot of Supremes, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass . Worse, then or subsequently, all of the childhood photos that I had in a red photobook disappeared.

What brings you joy in life?

Music. But you knew that.

Why do you write?

To figure things out. Sometimes, I THINK I know what I know. Then I write something, and it often morphs.

Write a short story or poem about rain.

The western US was devoid of rain, then it came too quickly to maintain. It was because of the dry terrain that caused so many such pain.

Week 2

How far back in your family tree can you go?

This is the one prompt I DID answer: here.

What is the most memorable gift you have received?

It might have been my 16th birthday when I got this container with strips of paper from my friends with significant comments.

Has a book changed your life?

Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer, which I described here.

How do you define success?

I keep asking the questions.

What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

Doing the laundry. It’s not the actual washing, which I rather like. It’s going to the basement. The steps, especially walking down, are nerve-wracking because they’re so tall. There’s no railing. I mentioned to my wife at least a decade ago that I’d love a washer-dryer on the first floor.

If you had a billion US dollars, how would you spend it?

Besides paying off the mortgages of my sisters and brothers-in-law, there are a lot of causes I’d like to contribute to. Better salaries for library staff, create affordable housing, stuff like that.

What is your preferred mode of travel?

The train. The train. And the train.

Week 3


What fear have you conquered?

I was once in a rental that had rodents. So I had to set mousetraps, then empty mousetraps. Yucky. Hadn’t overcome it, just did it anyway.

Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?

The lilac bush next to the house I grew up in. Marijuana, which always reminds me of college.  Probably many more.

Describe the happiest day of your life.

I’m not sure it is THE happiest day. Still: I was in college, and my wife, the Okie, split. There was no way I could finish all of my courses. But we weren’t allowed to drop courses after the midterm point, which had passed.

That is unless I had a professional attest that I was having a physical or emotional problem. I talked to the campus pastor, Paul Walley, who I did know. He wrote me a note, and it was accepted. I was able to drop two of my courses on December 4, 1974 – a date I will always remember – keeping three that I could finish.

What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Cook: lasagna. Eat: rotisserie chicken.

What color describes your personality and why?

Well, geez, it should be

What irritates you about the home you live in?

Besides the steps to the basement? The deteriorating back porch.  Incidentally, we saw a contractor recommended by a friend in August 2022. He said he’d send us a quote by September 10. We called him twice after that but got no response.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

I’m going to cheat and say, Stephen Sondheim. I have both of his books of lyrics and it’s the lovely descriptions of his writing process. Maybe Russell Baker or Dr. Seuss.

Week 4

What was your dream job as a child?

For a time, it was practically ordained that I’d become a minister. Later, a lawyer.

What’s a lie you tell yourself?

Probably that I’m not vain.

How do you show love?

Hugs are good.

What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why?

A song? One song? There are hundreds, some of which I  will mention in March 2023. The first that comes to mind is Telling Me Lies by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris. GREAT three-part harmony and melancholy as all get out.

What language do you wish you could speak?

Chinese. Because, unlike the Romance languages, I don’t understand it AT ALL.

What are the pros and cons of procrastination?

Obviously, the pro is when the problem goes away as a result of waiting, and the con is when it doesn’t.

It’s been carrot cake for decades. Yet it wasn’t something I remember eating as a child.
Week 5

I learned that a second great-great-grandfather, besides James Archer,  fought in the Civil War. Samuel Patterson, my father’s mother’s mother’s father, fought in the 5th Massachusetts (Colored) in 1864.

What would you title the chapters of your autobiography? 

I would have no idea until I wrote it. However, I’d probably model them on the 55 short chapters in Life Itself by Roger Ebert.

Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

Driving down Route 20 in Rensselaer County, NY, heading towards Albany, gives the best view of the Albany city skyline, including the sunset. Also, a great view of the Fourth of July fireworks.

How Long ’til Black Future Month?

The Jetsons

N K Jemisin
N K Jemisin

Waiting in a doctor’s office back in November, I finally got around to reading the New Yorker for January 27, 2020. The article that struck me most was Dream Worlds by Raffi Khatchadourian.

The subject was the science-fiction writer N. K. Jemisin. “In 2018, she released ‘How Long ’til Black Future Month?’ a collection of short stories.” I haven’t read them. In fact, I was not even familiar with Nora Keita Jemesin until this 20-minute read. She is fascinating.

“Jemisin mastered an outsider’s art of adaptation.” This is a skill lots of black people have developed. “Shifting between Alabama and New York, where she spent summers with her father, she adjusted to the jarring differences across the Mason-Dixon Line, both social and personal… Childhood, she told me, was ‘a schizoid experience.’ In Mobile, she shifted across racial divisions, too, attending a predominantly white school that had been forced to desegregate…”

“How Long ’til Black Future Month?” takes its name from an essay that Jemisin wrote in 2013. “It begins with two memories of watching ‘The Jetsons’: first as a girl, excitedly taking it all in, and then as an adult. ‘I notice something: there’s nobody even slightly brown in the Jetsons’ world,’ she wrote. ‘This is supposed to be the real world’s future, right? Albeit in a silly, humorous form.”


“‘The thing is, not-white people make up most of the world’s population, now as well as back in the Sixties when the show was created. So what happened to all those people, in the minds of this show’s creators? Are they down beneath the clouds, where the Jetsons never go? Was there an apocalypse, or maybe a pogrom? Was there a memo?’” One of the aspects of equality involves representation in the work.

Another was trying to break down the stereotypes surrounding black people and the science fiction genre. About a decade ago, Octavia “Butler’s sense of invisibility was still sorely felt. One of her blogposts was “‘If you’re a person of color who is into science fiction, speak up. We’re doing a headcount of how many of us exist.’ And it was a huge number… In fact, the post was titled ‘The Wild Unicorn Herd Check-in.'”


“Amid a reactionary backlash, Jemisin became a target. In 2013, she gave an impassioned speech about race in the genre, noting that a white supremacist had just run for president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Though he lost, he had secured ten percent of the vote, prompting her to criticize the ‘great unmeasured mass of enablers’ who had been silent. The former candidate, in turn, called her an ‘ignorant half-savage’ in a racist screed.

“As the cultural divide sharpened… conservative writers began interfering with the Hugos, using a loophole to shape the list of nominees. Until it was closed, two years later, people protested by selecting ‘No award’ on ballots. ‘The Fifth Season’ won its award just after the loophole was closed.

“Accepting her third Hugo, Jemisin stood at the lectern, with the rocket-shaped award beside her, and declared, ‘This is the year in which I get to smile at all of those naysayers, every single mediocre, insecure wannabe who fixes their mouth to suggest that I do not belong on this stage, that people like me could not possibly have earned such an honor, and that when they win it’s ‘meritocracy,’ but when we win it’s ‘identity politics.’ Holding up the award, she added, ‘I get to smile at those people, and lift a massive, shining rocket-shaped finger in their direction.'”

I like the idea of Black Future Month.

September rambling: demand decency

“I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing”

The Illegitimacy of a Conservative Supreme Court.

Demand decency.

Staying Sane in Anxious Times (without being useless).

A Catholic’s Case Against Amy Coney Barrett. Plus The Supreme Court: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Pasco’s sheriff created a futuristic program to stop crime before it happens. It monitors and harasses families across the county.

Uninsured up from last year and pandemic likely to exacerbate this trend.

Renewed calls for diversity and inclusion in ballet.

A Texas County Clerk’s Bold Crusade to Transform How We Vote.

The Twisted History of Cursive Writing.

How to Make Your Writing Funnier – Cheri Steinkellner.

NFL Legend Gale Sayers Dies at 77: CNN and NPR.

Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock has died at 81.

Secret ‘Man Cave’ Discovered in Room Beneath Grand Central Station.

NANCY is again a comic strip?

Ken Levine interviews Michael Uslan, The Man Who Saved Batman, Part One and Part Two.

Dick York After ‘Bewitched’.

The Judy Jetson controversy.

Tomato quick bread recipe.

Now I Know

The Original Scapegoat and The Final Frontier of Telemarketing and The Last Confederate POW and Why Roosters Don’t Deafen Themselves.

Antiracism Challenge

Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman on race, injustice, and protest.

A series of short films about identity in America.

The Speak Up Handbook by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

What Is Privilege?

‘Intergroup anxiety’: Can you try too hard to be fair?

Racism is Trauma.

Allegories on race and racism – Camara Jones, TEDxEmory.

ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.


His Rage Is Worse Than You’ve Heard.

Every Lie Is a Confession.

He Fuels March Toward Fascism With “Anarchist Jurisdictions” Edict.

He Says Coronavirus ‘Affects Virtually Nobody,’ As U.S. Has World’s Highest Death Toll.

His HHS ad blitz raises alarms.

Blacks have themselves to blame for inequality, and Jews ‘are only in it for themselves’.

DOJ Unveils Proposal That Would Make It Harder for Twitter and Facebook to Block His Dangerous Posts.

He Is $1.1 Billion in Debt.

They got Al Capone for tax evasion, too…. cf I Found Joe Biden’s Tax Returns.

He celebrates violence against his enemies as recurring rally theme.

Shock (?) Over His Refusal To Promise ‘Peaceful Transfer Of Power’.

Barbara Walter Interview on ABC’s 20/20 – August 17, 1990.

I Won’t Vote Trump – Randy Rainbow.


RIP, Toots.Zooming in with Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert — the Legend Who Literally Invented “Reggae”. Bam Bam and 54-46 Was My Number and Sweet and Dandy and Pressure Drop.

I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door I’ll Get It Myself) – James Brown

I’d Rather Go Blind ~ Rebecca Jade at Spaghettini.

Tiny Desk (Home) Concert – Phoebe Bridgers.

With God On Our Side – NEVILLE BROTHERS.

We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong.

Virtual Sabbath Prayer.

Coverville 1324: Cover Stories for Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars and 1325: 50 Years After…After the Gold Rush (Album Cover) and 1326: Jimi Hendrix Cover Tribute.

Attention by Pamela Z.

4’33” by John Cage.

Without the Beatles.

Arthur says: “You should write a book!”

The readings MAY involve the consumption of alcohol

write a bookArthur, who is experiencing that brutal Kiwi winter right now, was the first person to both Tell AND Ask Roger Anything.

TELL: You should write a book!

ASK: What obstacles would you have to overcome, and/or what would you need in place to write a book?

Back around my birthday in March 2019, I thought what I might do in my retirement. Writing a book was not even a consideration. What would I write it about? Me? I wasn’t feeling it.

Then in May, I came around to maybe writing about the house in which my mother grew up. I’d actually floated this to one of my cousins a couple of years ago. She was doing some genealogy about our common ancestors. It was beyond the scope of what she was working on, but I spent a lot of time there myself.

Moreover, my sister Marcia has a LOT of photos that she’s scanned. the pictures are mostly of the exteriors, but also a lot of people over a roughly 60-year span.

There’s another book that I thought about, involving the year I turned 19. A momentous year in my life. The problem is that I’d have to reveal my own shortcomings publicly.

The good news, however, is that I had kept diaries as far back as March 1972, so I have detailed accounts of at least some of what I did. And I mean OVERLY precise. What I ate, and where, et al.

I think I got the idea from my college roommate in my freshman year, a grad student named Ron, who wrote down EVERYTHING he spent, a candy bar or going out to dinner. One day, he spent $1,000 on a car, which really skewed his daily averages.

My diaries, and there are about a dozen of them, continued to about 1986. It’s not the entire period, because several of the journals were destroyed in the flooded basement of the apartment building I was living in c 1997. I genuinely don’t know what I have and what was lost.

At the time, I was quite upset, but now I am somewhat relieved that at least part of my ever-present past has been obliterated. It means, though, that EVENTUALLY, I’m going to read those remaining chicken scratching. Thus, the advantage and the obstacle are the same.

Some of it will be great. Is THAT when I saw that concert! I’ll get to relieve some of the history of FantaCo, the comic book store where I worked in the 1980s.

Some of it will be awful. My, was I petulant? Or unkind! Or oblivious! I’ll probably get to relieve heartbreak that I caused, or received! Oh, boy.

And, ha! now I’ll probably have time to read the damn things. The readings MAY involve the consumption of alcohol.

From that mess of a life, I’ll have to figure out what the STORIES are. 1972, which I remember surprisingly well even without the prompts, has a certain dramatic arc. Other than that year, I’m not at all sure about a narrative. And how do I write about other people I’ve mentioned, many of whom are still around?

Once I DO start writing, if I start writing, I realize that I need to do it when I’m mostly alone, when my wife and daughter are asleep, or downstairs watching some dance show on TV, or off to work/school. I work best in the presence of semi-loud, generally familiar music.

A fortnight of years of blogging

“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.’)

14 ballIt’s another anniversary at Ramblin’ with Roger. If 14 days is a fortnight, is fourteen years a fortnight of years? Probably not. Don’t care. (Not to be confused with Fortnite, which I’ve never played.)

You may have noticed that I’ve changed the look of the blog in the past month or so. This was not done for aesthetic reasons but rather operational ones. My old design was clashing with some PHP function – too boring to explain, frankly.

So I changed to some WordPress in-house style called Twenty Sixteen. I like that it does the pull quotes, that the comments are on the side, and the basic clean look. I need to tweak it eventually.

Of course, earlier posts may look “off” – pictures too wide, notably. But I don’t foresee changing the previous output any time soon.

I came across this article called The State of Blogging: Post Length and Publishing Frequency Trends. “The proportion of bloggers who typically write posts under 500 words has steadily declined since 2014.” The vast majority of my posts are under that threshold.

“…while the proportion of bloggers who typically write posts longer than 1,000 words has steadily increased.” I doubt I have five posts TOTAL out of over 5000 that have over a thousand words. I am a blogging dinosaur; so be it.

I am occasionally reminded why I blog. One of the factors was the Inaugural post of the late Steve Gerber, who wrote, among other things, The Defenders, Howard the Duck, and Man-Thing.

He wrote back on April 4, 2005: “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.)”

Less than a month later, I started this blog, which proves that I am susceptible to suggestion. It makes me a good hypnosis subject and a dogged daily blogger.

Image by wisconsinpics from Pixabay

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