Category Archives: church

The Lydster, Part 71: Hiding Less

Making her own kind of music

The daughter has had this habit of getting all shy, even around people that she has met repeatedly, such as folks in church choir and in church generally. We had hoped that she would outgrow this, and it seems to be starting to happen.

I wonder if it’s the ballet lessons she started taking last fall. Now, let me be very clear that Lydia taking ballet is strictly her idea. Her mother and I are rather agnostic on this issue; we certainly aren’t the kind of parents to push her into performing. The first time she mentioned it, it was merely talk, I think. But she persisted in asking, and now once a week for 45 minutes, she’s in a class with other girls of her age and experience. They had a “performance” a few weeks ago which I went to; it mostly involved showing a few positions and few moves, but it was a pleasant enough experience.

Coming in from the cold

The other experience that seems to have helped her in church choir. She and five other girls sang in front of the church just before Christmas. I would have bet money that she would have bailed, but not only did she stand there, she actually sang out.

It could just be greater security from going to kindergarten, but whatever it is, I’m in favor.

Time to go home – on the road again

First picture by Uthaclena
Other pictures by Sprylet

February Ramblin'

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Roger Ebert’s Last Words, con’t, commenting on the Esquire article (linked) and photo of him. “Resentment is allowing someone to live rent-free in a room in your head.”

How the Somaly Mam Foundation is trying to help end human trafficking

Wayne John tells about the time when a Burger King employee threw a double cheeseburger at him. Lousy aim, too.

Gordon reveals Dymowski and DeNiro – together.

Lady Gaga or Johnny Weir? “Can you tell the difference between the pop princess’ outrageous outfits and the Olympic skating star’s flamboyant costumes without seeing their poker faces?” You Olympics watchers who see figure skating only once every four years have no idea…

Springsteen covers.

And SamuraiFrog has three recent pieces worthy of mention, about Kermit the Frog and friend,Christina Hendricks – no, I’ve never seen Mad Men, either – and a particular Super Bowl ad which also annoyed me. (Should note that, on the latter two pieces, his language is coarser than mine.)

This next section is graphic.

Western New York Legacy web site,, is freely available online, and contains thousands of digital images, documents, letters, maps, books, slides, and other items reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Western New York

Print & Photographs (P&P) online catalog: Some photos copyright free (and some not).

Rose DesRochers – World Outside my Window: Free Cartoons for Your Blog, two examples of which appear in this very post.

Courtesy of Past Expiry Cartoon


Autumnal aspirations QUESTIONS

What are you looking forward to this fall?

For me:
TELEVISION: the usual TV shows (JEOPARDY!, The Office, 30 Rock, news programs). The only new program I’ve recorded is Glee, and that only because Jane Lynch, who I liked in movies such as The 40 Year Old Virgin and Best in Show is in it. I haven’t even read the TV Guide with all the new shows yet; anything else I should be watching?I’m already passing on Cougartown; the whole woman as “cougar” thing is bothersome to me.
Then there’s sports. I’ll probably watch more baseball in October than I did from April through September. Football, probably from Thanksgiving on, unless I get lucky.
CHURCH: Choir began last Thursday. Homecoming Sunday is tomorrow. And there’s a wedding, but since the bride hasn’t announced it yet, I shan’t.
EVENTS: Definitely attending a talk by Douglas Blackmon, author of Slavery By Another Name on September 24 at the Albany Public Library. Really want to see the The Civil Rights Struggle, African-American GIs, and Germany photo exhibit at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY sometime in October.
Also want to go apple picking and leaf gazing, the latter preerably in Vermont.
Learn more about picture above here.


An interesting choir year

The choir is done for the church year until September. It’s been a momentous period. Victor left last June, and in the proper Presbyterian tradition, a committee was formed to find a replacement. In the meantime, we had Don, a fellow I’d worked with often, who would be interim through Epiphany in early January. The committee found a candidate, OKed by the choir, but she was in the DC area and had to sell or rent her residence. Fortunately, with a new administration, she was able to come up on March 1. In the interim, Chris, our bass section leader, filled in as director.

Janet came up but, just as we got to Holy Week, fell ill. So it was Chris leading the choir on Easter Sunday. Janet returned, but her sister, who had been dying of cancer, got to the end stages. Jack, another bass in the choir, took over the last couple rehearsals and services. Evelyn, Janet’s sister died on Friday, June 26.

Coincidentally, Bradley Wong, a former member of the church and the choir – he was there when I first arrived nine years ago, though not in several seasons – died on Saturday, June 27.

It’s those deaths, along with the number of celebrity deaths and maybe the constant rain of late that put Samuel Barber to mind. I had a friend named Donna George who died a few years ago. She had given me this recording of eight different versions of Barber’s Adagio.

So I went to YouTube and found this choral version of the Agnus Dei plus a more traditional version.


A few days in the life

Apparently, there are actually blogs that do nothing but note all the things that happen in people’s lives. I’ve been resistant to that, but I’m inclined to note the last few days in some detail. I suppose I could have made these many Twitter posts – and be mocked – but frankly have been too busy.

After racquetball, go to the dentist. He’d put a crown in last fall, but he was dissatisfied with the spacing between my teeth, where food would get caught, so he’s doing a redo gratis. It may be free, but it’s not free of discomfort. Also takes longer than planned and I miss my bus – another one doesn’t come for 2.5 hours, but my colleague picks me up.
End of the day, wife drops off daughter at my work to take home, so wife can go to meetings, one work-related, the other at church. Unfortunately, she can’t find the first meeting and the second one is canceled.

Father-Child Pancake Breakfast at daughter’s daycare. That was nice, but I had to break up a couple boys who were literally about to come to blows over toy dinosaurs. A friend of mine that I’ve only known since 1958, whose birthday is today, BTW, suggested over four years ago that it’s probably a good thing I had a daughter rather than a son. I didn’t understand at the time, but I think I do now.

FINALLY take items to the post office. This was something I was going to do on December 20, along with finishing the Christmas letter; the wife had edited what I had wrote. But I NEEDED just that one day, and when I ended up taking care of my sick child instead – and into the evening, because the wife had a meeting – not only did the window of opportunity go away, but so did a whole bunch of my holiday mojo. I was actually quite melancholy over it for weeks. I never did complete the letter – that weekend was impossibly full, and the presents, bought weeks before, never got sent. So, on this day, packages to my mother and sisters, plus some other items to Eddie, Tom the Mayor, Scott and a woman in Canada finally went out the door. (I STILL haven’t sent to Lefty Brown’s friend Anthony, because I don’t have his address.)

Take bus downtown. At my stop, Washington and Lark, is a fire truck, with an EMT truck pulling up. There’s a guy they need to defibrillate sitting outside the kiosk; it’s cold – could they not have done this in a vehicle? While this was going on, an ambulance and another fire truck stop a block away at Dove and Washington. What’s going on there?

My bus shows up, but not a half block on my journey, a car pulls out of its parking space and hits the bus I’m on. No one was hurt; in fact, I barely noticed. But the bus driver had to wait for the police and the CDTA supervisor. Fortunately,the bus company sent another vehicle less than 25 minutes later to finish the trek.

That evening, a first rehearsal with our new church choir director, Janet Davis, followed by a gathering at the home of the interim director, Chris, who lives in this quite historic house (once the home of the Albany Conservatory, and before that, a Presbyterian manse).


I heard that on the news that Albany High School will be delayed two hours because of the presence of Fred Phelps, who I mentioned here. This is actually something I’ve known for over a week ago but was told not to report, lest Freddy and the schemers be tipped off. So after I dropped off Lydia, I did what I suggested others not do – go to the high school. Across the street from the school there were the Westboro people well outnumbered by he counterdemonstrators. Most of the good guys were well behaved and spoke on their megaphones about Christian love.

Then people went in two different directions. Some, including me, went downtown to SUNY Central to rally where Phelps said he’d be on his website; evidently, he finally figured out that this WASN’T the campus and didn’t show. Still about 150 people (way more than the 50 the Times Union reported) made some noise and got lots of support from the passersby.

Meanwhile, the others went uptown at the not optimal (read: busily dangerous) Fuller Road and Washington Avenue, where the Phelps people ended up. That also went well, according to reports. Incidentally, there was ALSO a fairly large rally Thursday night in front of City Hall, where the mayor – who’s running for ere-election this year, unsurprisingly – showed up.

[We interrupt this blog to note End the Lies, a a new website showing some of the worst perpetrators of lies about GLBT people. Now back to the narrative.]

I had received a $50 gift certificate from the Downtown Business Improvement District in a drawing I barely remember entering for a place called Salon 109 at 109 State Street in Albany, so I opted to get a massage there. It was…WONDERFUL. Later, had lunch with my wife – this almost never happens – as we partook of an especially very good buffet of Indian food.

SATURDAY, MARCH 7 (yes, it was my birthday)

Very busy time in my house, with one person, John, fixing our oven that’s been out six days and our hall lights that had been out for over six months, someone else, Bonnie, cleaning the house, and lengthy conversations with both of my sisters and aforementioned old friend – HB, Sara Lee).

Played backgammon for an hour with the Hoffinator and a couple games of hearts with her and friend Orchid; I shot on the last hand to win the second game. Game playing – just what I wanted as a present. The Obama speeches book, the racquetball equipment and the Clapton 2004 DVD were just bonuses.


Church youth did Godspell Jr. It was excellent; surprisingly moving.
The weather is warming and I took Lydia to the playground for the first time this year. The ground is muddy, but the wood chip base around the slides is absorbent and not too bad.

That’s enough.


October Ramblin'

I have no idea how or why, but someone I do not know wrote to me and asked: “Do you know why Amy Madigan was not cast as Allison French in the 2008 movie Appaloosa. She’s married to Ed Harris who co-wrote the screenplay, directed & starred in the movie?” I wrote back, “I have no idea except that Renee Zellweger is younger and more famous.”
I did also include a couple quotes:
September 13, 2006
Harris’ wife, actress Amy Madigan, informed the [SF] Chronicle that she won’t be appearing in the film because there’s no role for her in it.

October 16, 2007
Tavis Smiley: How is [Ed], by the way?
Amy Madigan: He’s wonderful. He’s directing a film right now in New Mexico called “Appaloosa” with – and he’s also acting in it – with Viggo Mortensen. He’s playing his part in that, and Renee Zellweger and Jeremy Irons, and they’re just riding horses, and they have guns, and it’s a very cool story, based on a Robert Parker novel, as a matter of fact.
Tavis: After 23 years of marriage…?
Amy: Twenty-four.
Tavis: Twenty-four years – you guys are used to being apart, I guess, for extensive time?
Amy: Yeah, but I still don’t like it. We’re just revisiting – we’re lucky because when we’re together we really have all that time, but it’s still difficult.
I Am the Walrus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The song also contains the exclamation goo goo g’joob with “koo koo g’joob heard clearly in the second. Various hypotheses exist regarding the origin and meaning. One is that the phrase was derived from the similar “koo koo ka choo” in Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson, written in 1967. However, the film The Graduate, where “Mrs. Robinson” debuted, did not appear until December 1967, a month after “I Am the Walrus”, and The Graduate Original Soundtrack (which contained only fragments of the final version of “Mrs Robinson”) was not until January 1968.
There’s a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It’s about eliminating the ‘drive-through’ Mastectomy where patients are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.
Lifetime Television has put this bill on their Web page with a petition drive to show support. Last year over half the House signed on. Sign the petition if you feel so moved; you need not give more than your name, state, and zip code.
Possibly not coincidentally, there was a story on ABC News last week about a father and daughter who both had breast cancer. I recall that Ed Brooke, former US Senator (R-MA) had breast cancer. Here are some stats. So while over 99% of people getting v=breast cancer are women, men can get it too.
alan david doane has started a blog to promote his freelance copywriting services. I understand he works in both UPPER and lower case.
An old friend, Elinor Brownstein im very excited that the musical she wrote is being produced: Oy Vay, the Musical
Chicken soup for stressed-out pandas
The Wuhan Zoo in central China has been feeding its two pandas home-cooked chicken soup twice in a month to reduce stress and give them a nutritional boost, a zoo official said Friday.
“A church squabble of ten years’ standing at Wallpack Center, NJ has developed a very singular phase. When the church was built, some ten years ago, the church people were divided on the subject of the site. Later, their choir became the center of the quarrel. A part of the congregation wanted the organist and singers of their choice, while others were opposed to them. The past few weeks the feeling has been getting more and more bitter. A few days ago there was to have been a special service, for which another organist was engaged, but on gathering at the church the congregation was amazed to find that someone had entered the building and, after daubing the organ inside and out with tar, had sprinkled on a bountiful supply of
feathers. The whole organ, cover, keyboard, stops, pedals, and all had received the double coat. This is certainly the most ridiculous display of petty vengeance on record”. From the News and Observer, Raleigh, NC, October 26, 1883. (Re-printed in The American Organist, October 2008, p. 52.)
Condolences to my friend Mary whose brother Tim died at the age of 46 after spending the last 10 years of his life fighting a battle with adult onset myotonic dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy.


Stuff White People Like

A black colleague e-mailed me about a website called Stuff White People Like. I had heard of the two-month old blog before, but I hadn’t checked it out until this weekend.

I was curious how I would fare. Early on, I meshed with items 8, 12, 35, 36, 38, 43, 44, 46, 50, 55, and 57. But these last several posts:
* #78 Multilingual Children – well, optimally
* #77 Musical Comedy – I like Weird Al
* #76 Bottles of Water – afraid so
* #75 Threatening to Move to Canada – once in a great while
* #74 Oscar Parties – been there
* #73 Gentrification – not yet
* #72 Study Abroad – not yet
* #71 Being the only white person around – d/n/a
* #70 Difficult Breakups – oh, yeah
* #69 Mos Def – not so much
* #68 Michel Gondry – no
* #67 Standing Still at Concerts – depends
* #66 Divorce – yes
* #65 Co-Ed Sports – not recently, but there was that volleyball at the Y period in the early 1990s
* #64 Recycling – absolutely

My cultural identity is in shambles!

I jest, but there is this:
I was leading adult education for three weeks during Black History Month, a/k/a, February. The latter two weeks, this guy shows up and talks. A lot. About issues tangential at best to the topic at hand.
The last week, I’m wearing this African garb. As I rush from Adult Ed to the bathroom, then onto choir, this guy asks me if I were African-American. I figure he’s just yanking my chain and ignore him.
Then the new church letter comes out for March. Inside is a black-and-white picture of some of the participants of the first adult ed class I led, including someone who I didn’t immediately recognize as me. In my mind’s eye, I look the same as I always did, but the vitiligo has rendered me light enough so that someone who did not know me DIDN’T know that I was black. Most peculiar.


Monday pontificating

Via Jaquandor:

1. If there were no blogs, what would you be doing right now?

I found this question utterly fascinating, maybe because it hit a nerve. Before I was blogging, I was kvetching about the fact that I wasn’t writing or expressing my opinions and that I was missing out on recording stuff about Lydia, which, I knew, I would someday forget. So, if I weren’t blogging, I would be kvetching about the fact that I wasn’t writing or expressing my opinions…
On the other hand, I might be caught up on watching TV taped programs, and I’d certainly be more up-to-date with my weekly periodicals reading.

Incidentally, I cleaned up my blogroll this weekend, moving some links to my work blog, deleting a couple, and adding a couple, such as Anthony Velez’s The Dark Glass, mostly because I was tired of having to go there via Lefty. I’ve put a few folks under the uninterestingly-titled Other Interesting Folks. If you have suggestions for adds, or if you want to be added, moved, or deleted from the blogroll, you know where to find me.

2. If you had to spend one year living alone in a remote cabin, what would you spend your time doing?

OK, this depends heavily on what technologies are available. Will I have a computer? Internet connectivity? Assuming that, I would be catching up on reading those aforementioned magazines, then tackle the books. Alternating with writing two books, one a roman a clef about churches, choirs and ministers; choir people can be really strange folks. The other would be a history of the first 10 years of FantaCo.

Of course, listening to music and watching movies and stuff on DVD.

Now, if we’re talking really rustic, with no electricity, still doing the reading, maybe writing by hand. And slowly going: Stark. Raving. Bonkers.

3. If you could go back in time, what one piece advice would you give yourself?

Depends on the time frame:
Me at 16: you’re working in a library. You LIKE working in a library. Consider this as a career. You’re not cut out to be a lawyer.
Me at 24: no, you won’t be celibate forever.
There are plenty of others.

4. “If you really knew me you would know that…”

You should run away as quickly as possible.

You Are 24% Weirdo

You’re a little weird, but you’d be even weirder if you didn’t have a few quirks.
You are just strange enough to know it, but nobody else seems to notice your weirdness.
That’s because, deep down, everyone is a little freaky!

Merv Griffin died yesterday of prostate cancer, the disease that, as it happened, killed my father. Not only was Merv a popular talk show host, but he created both Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY! Most importantly, he wrote the JEOPARDY! theme:

ADD’s dreams, one of which features, of all people, me. BTW, the Daredevil Chronicles had the greater print run, but that’ll all become clear later this month.


More Light

This Sunday is More Light Sunday in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. So what is “more light”? “Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).” But as it’s been the case in other mainline Protestant denominations, there are wide-ranging beliefs within the faith. As one article reads: “Will the religious conflicts about homosexuality be settled by compromise or schism?”

I was, for nearly 20 years, a United Methodist, another denomination having the same internal struggle. The Methodists’ Book of Discipline reads: “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” Yet there are undoubtedly gay UM clergy. Indeed, on the season finale of the (fictional) Brothers & Sisters on May 20, the senator’s brother turns out to be a gay UM minister.

I don’t have a problem with gay clergy, or gay members of session or other boards. What I guess is bugging me is the fact that the denominations have rules of prohibition, yet it is well-known, by me, e.g., that the rules are ignored in some parts of the country. I guess I’d be more comfortable if the written rules of the denominations could be changed to become more inclusive, but based on the divisive nature of the issue, I can’t imagine that happening any time soon.
I’ve been fascinated by the fact that my former church, indeed m, my former pastor, has been fighting with the city of Albany over rock concerts in the church basement. Now, the pastor has been suspended by the church hierarchy. While the newspaper says that the suspension is unrelated to the court dispute, a reasonable person could reasonably infer from the story that the suspension really IS about the court case. That inference would be wrong. I’ve talked to some members of the church; I’m positive that the suspension and the court case are unrelated. But since the church hierarchy can’t talk about the situation, based on privacy concerns for the minister, I can’t really fault the paper for not getting it quite right.


Pieces of April

This is what I have going on for the next month:
1. Take Lydia for her physical today.
2. Participate in the Maundy Thursday service at my church service, and rehearse for Good Friday.
3. Go to the Capital Area Council of Churches ecumenical Good Friday service, also at my church.
4. Participation in the Good Friday service. We’re singing The Seven Last Words of Christ by Theodore DuBois. Please come if you’re in the area. The soloists are great and the organ part is very dramatic. Hope my voice comes bck; currently, I have laryngitis, probably from seasonal allergies.
5. Easter Sunday service. No wonder some choir directors refer to to this, ironically, as hell week.
6. April 10 – As mentioned, I’m going to see a scion of a rock legend. Sean Lennon at the Egg.
7. April 11 – I was asked do to this just yesterday: talk to a bunch of librarians about guerrila marketing.
8. April 18 – I am taking a CPR course. Also donating blood for the 120th time.
9. Thursday, April 19, 7 pm. writers Christopher Ringwald and Amy Biancolli will be speaking at the Albany Public Library, main branch, sponsored by the Friends of the Albany Public Library. He writes on religion and philosophy, she writes movie reviews for a Houston newspaper, but is syndicated nationally. BTW, they’re married. Since I’m in charge of the event, if you’re in the area, please, PLEASE come. It’s free. I just want folks to come.
10. Friday, April 19. Carol and I are going to the Symphony! A world premiere based on William Kennedy’s new book, Roscoe.
11. A work conference in Utica at the end of the month. Not only do I need to prepare my share of the library presentation, but I’m also writing the questions for a JEOPARDY! segment of another prrsentation. That’s 61 questions, in 12 categories plus the final.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

Also, I must drink lots of water. This is based on an incident on Friday. I’ve finally gotten my bicycle out, on Wednesday. This involves putting the bike on the bus to day care; riding the 2.6 miles to the Y to play racquetball – by taking the bike, I actually got there 20 minutes sooner than I would have if I had taken the bus; playing racquetball (for over an hour -yay!), then taking the bike to the bus stop (another quarter mile), take the bike on the bus to Corporate Woods to work. I had to leave early to get my Internet connection fixed, so I get the bike to put on the bus to town, ride the bike to the bank and then home (1.6 miles+); then, after the cable guy comes, go to another bank to get a bus pass and back (maybe a mile each way). Then about two hours later, get the most painful cramp I’ve ever experienced in my life, noit in my calf, which I’ve had before, but in my left inner thigh. Utterly excrutiating, and wouldn’t go away until after three glasses of water, some Motrin and 15 minutes.

Re: the cable guy, I need to con my friend Mark to come up and help me install a couple things on my computer, not the least of which is more memory.

Meanwhile, I want to be more current with the newspaper. I’ve been almost constantly a week behind, reading about our local Extreme Makeover: Home Edition family in Colonie, which will be broadcast as the season finale next month. This is a show I’ve actually never seen, but I’ll probably catch this one.
There was also Dan Savage movie review of a couple weeks ago that I just read in Metroland: “Have you seen 300 yet? It’s about a handful of lightly armed ancient Greeks—the Spartans—who take on the mighty and massive Persian army. Some feel the film is homophobic; some feel it’s a conservative, pro-war piece of agitprop.
Homophobic? It’s Ann Coulter on a meth binge.”

I’m looking forward to listening to lots of Emmylou Harris and Marvin Gaye, since their birthdays were yesterday, as well as hearing some Richard Thompson, Willie Dixon, and assorted others.

Finally watched this video that’s been sent to me TWICE so far, so if I post it, I won’t get it again: – The Apple iRack

Plus the usual stuff. So it’ll be a busy month. And May will be equally so. I almost never wish my life away, but I’m REALLY looking forward to mid-June.

Florida beat Ohio Stste, and I fell from 1st to 4th in my pool. At least I picked out There’s No Such Website on the first try.