Rainbows, Moonbows, Sunsets, and the Stars: Adventures beneath the Hawaiian sky

So much of one’s time in Hawaii is spent looking up, or out. Up to the sky, or out to where the sky meets the sea.

And there’s a rainbow almost every day.

In Buffalo, I might get to see a rainbow three or four times a year. In Hawaii, there were rainbows almost every day. I’d get up, make coffee, go to the balcony to greet the morning, look to the right (west) to the rain clouds descending (and breaking up) from the mountains, and…rainbows.

And then there were the sunsets, and the lingering light once the sun was down:

On this trip, the planets got into the act. Here, from top to bottom, are Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus:

One morning I was awake quite early, so I got up at 6:00am…just in time to see Orion setting. Orion is a winter constellation, which I associate with the colder times of year…which of course this is, even in Hawaii, though it doesn’t seem like it.

The most magical skyward sight of all, though, was something I’d never seen before, something I don’t even think I knew was possible until late one night, on a drizzly evening, The Wife and I both saw it at the same time: a moonbow. Though we didn’t see much of the moon on our trip, because we were mostly facing south so its path through the Hawaiian sky was mostly behind us and out of view from our south-facing balcony, there was a full moon while we were there, and on that night its light was bright enough to shine through the water droplets in the air. The result was this:

Hawaii is quite a place for those of us who find magic in the sky….


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Something for Thursday

Listening to SiriusXM last week, I was struck by a song I’d never heard before…or rather, a performance of a song I’d never heard before.

“Mr. Bojangles” is most famous as Sammy Davis Jr.’s “signature” song, I suppose; until the other day that was really all I knew about this song. I’m not a big Sammy Davis Jr. listener, so I’m therefore really not very familiar with this song at all. (Disclaimer: That is to say, Sammy Davis Jr. is an artist with whom I am largely unfamiliar. I’m not a big listener of his in the sense that I haven’t heard much of him, not in the sense that I don’t care for his work much. I have almost no opinion.) All I do know of this song is that it has a gently rocking kind of triple-time waltz rhythm and that it’s about a guy named Bojangles who dances.

But last week, SiriusXM’s 1970s channel served up “Mr. Bojangles”, performed by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I’m not a whole lot more familiar with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band than I am with Sammy Davis Jr., but I know that they’re a country band whose album Will the Circle Be Unbroken is one of the great bluegrass albums of all time, so this got me wondering about “Mr. Bojangles”, which I had always figured was an older song, to be so strongly associated with a Rat Pack guy like Sammy Davis Jr.

Turns out, though, that “Me. Bojangles” was written in 1968 by country singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker. The song got covered a bunch over the next batch of years, but Sammy Davis Jr. really made it his song. For more on that, read this wonderful article–but for now, here’s that rendition that stopped me in my tracks, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and “Mr. Bojangles”.


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“I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right”: A MAGNUM geek visits Paradise

Longtime readers may remember that I was a big fan of the show Magnum PI back in the day. That is, the original show, the one that ran in the 1980s, and not the new reboot show that is running, well, now. (Nothing against the current incarnation, which I’ve watched a couple of times; it seems like a perfectly acceptable procedural show, but it’s never going to replace the original for me.) Being in Hawaii, where Magnum was set, gave me a chance to see some familiar locations from the show up close.

The biggest draw for an old Magnum fan would almost certainly have been the old estate that on the show doubled as “Robin’s Nest”, the Hawaii estate of the famed novelist Robin Masters, for whom Thomas Magnum and the estate’s major domo, Jonathan Quayle Higgins, worked. This estate was on the eastern shore of Oahu, and we did drive past where it was…but note the past tense there. Sadly, the location–in real life, the Anderson Estate–was demolished a couple of years ago after a long period of neglect. However, we did stop at a beach park a mile or so down the road from where the Anderson Estate once stood, and I took this photo of Manana Island, which is now a bird sanctuary:

You could often see that island in the distance when Magnum was swimming in Mr. Masters’s tidal pool.

Along the same shore, to the south (we drove by this first, actually), we stopped at an overlook with a stunning view. (Overlooks with stunning views are rather a thing in Hawaii!) Here’s a bit of that view, isolated:


That little island with the building on it, connected by bridge to Oahu, is the Makai Research Pier, belonging to Makai Ocean Engineering, a company that works on oceanic tech like sea cables and that sort of thing. That pier doubled, on Magnum PI, as the headquarters for Island Hoppers, the helicopter excursion business run by Magnum’s buddy, Theodore Calvin (TC).

I didn’t realize this at the time, but the lookout where I took that photo, Makapu’u Lookout, is on the same cliffs that become Makapu’u Point, a bit farther to the east. We briefly stopped there but realized that the hiking trail was much longer and more strenuous than we really felt up to that day, so we didn’t go…but it ends at Makapu’u Lighthouse:

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrew_wertheimer/32922164913/

Fans of Magnum will remember this lighthouse for one of the series’s most surprising, and unnerving, episode endings. In the episode “Faith and Beggorah”, there’s a subplot where Magnum is supposed to be investigating if a boxer’s wife is cheating on him. In the episode’s final scene, Rick and TC are watching from a distance as the wife and her putative boyfriend-on-the-side are at this lighthouse–but they are arguing constantly. We can’t hear what they’re saying, but Rick is bored because they can’t prove that she’s cheating on the husband if all they ever see her doing is yelling at the boyfriend. Rick is watching through a telescopic camera lens, while TC is lazily dozing off to the side. TC says “Oh, just keep watching, maybe something interesting will happen”…and at that moment, the boyfriend picks the woman up and tosses her off the lighthouse and down the cliffs. Yikes!


Then there’s this place, the War Memorial Natatorium in Waikiki. This was right down the street from our resort, and yet, I never walked down to get a closer look, alas! Next time, I swear! (Unless it gets torn down, which is apparently a possibility as this location has been an ongoing preservation struggle for a while.)


Built to honor the veterans and fallen of World War I, the Natatorium is not unlike all the various “War Memorial Stadiums” built across America, except that this one is a salt-water swimming pool. It has been closed for decades and is, as noted, an ongoing subject of debate between preservation and demolition. On Magnum, it featured prominently during the climax of an episode titled “Death and Taxes”, where a serial killer forms a fixation on Magnum, for some reason that the episode leaves unstated (to creepy effect).

Some places I did not get pictures of include the Iolani Palace, used often on the show as the location for various government agencies (such as when Magnum had dealings with the local PD)–

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aa4on/14396166855

Also Honolulu’s Chinatown, which we passed through twice, once by car and once on the bus. This area served as location for when Magnum PI did stories set in the “seedier” part of town, such as the show’s fictional Vietnamese neighborhood, “Little Saigon”.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/81454274@N07/14058078021

There’s something exciting about seeing places you only know through movies and television, isn’t there? This is not a Magnum location, but it is one of the most famous locations in movie history, thanks to a very steamy scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity:

And I didn’t get into any places where Elvis Presley filmed at all, I’m sorry to say. We did go to Pearl Harbor, though, and Elvis Presley was a major contributor that fundraising for the Arizona Memorial back in 1961.

It’s also always interesting to note how much poetic and cinematic license play into how movie and teevee locations work! There’s a Magnum PI episode from late in the show’s run where everyone is after a literal buried treasure, and after some tromping through the wilderness they all end up jumping off a cliff into a pool with a waterfall in order to grab some of the money that has ended up floating there. (I don’t remember the particulars.) I looked this up, figuring it to be located someplace deep in the island’s mountainous interior, but…not so! It turns out that if you stand on that exact spot, in no direction are you more than a couple hundred feet from a parking lot or a four-lane highway.

Anyway, folks, be careful when arranging your vacations, because if the place you’re going is where filming took place for a movie or show a member of your party is a big fan of, you’re going to hear about it. A lot.

Even if the place that person sees has nothing to do with the movie or show being mentioned, like this revolving restaurant in Waikiki. Doesn’t it look a bit like Piz Gloria, the mountaintop lair of Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service???


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Tone Poem Tuesday

Somewhere in my online life, I saw someone recently mention Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu. I don’t remember who or where, though! This is what happens when you scroll too quickly: some things make enough dent that you remember them, but try and give credit, and…nothing. So if you’re the one who clued me in, thank you!

Takashi Yoshimatsu is a Japanese composer, still living, who was born in 1953. I’ve only heard a very small portion of his work, so I’m not really comfortable describing his style, but from what little I’ve read, Yoshimatsu composes in a neo-Romantic style, preferring lyricism and harmony over modernism, atonalism, or avant-gardism. The present work is meditative and evocative, almost impressionistic in nature; its structure reminds me somewhat of Alexander Scriabin, though without that Russian giant’s wild leaps of color and range.

Ode to Birds and Raibow apparently memorializes the composer’s sister, who died in 1994. He does not call it a “requiem”, but rather an “ode to a soul at play” (credit). The work is full of complex chords and deft orchestral writing, with snatches of melody constantly coming and going, almost the way birdsong is always just there but never sounds really complete in our ears. The work is by turns gentle and passionate, but the overall emotional tone is one of warmth.

Takashi Yoshimatsu has a large body of work for exploration, and I look forward to digging into it more. Here is Ode to Birds and Rainbow.

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Hawaiian adventures


Our trip to Hawaii was…amazing. Just amazing. In fact, it was quite nearly perfect.

My mother dreamed all her life of going to Hawaii, and at some point after she had safely seen her two children off to lives of their own, she put her foot down, announcing to my father that they were going. This was sometime in the 1990s. Since then, she has gone to Hawaii something like a dozen times. For this last visit, she treated my family and I to going along with her, as part of her celebration for having turned 80 this past August.

If I count this Hawaii trip as a gift, and I do, it might well be the greatest gift I’ve ever received. This would probably blow the mind of my second-grade self (that’s the year I got an electric train), but seriously, this trip was a gift that to be surpassed would probably have to be along the lines of someone giving me their kidney.

For various reasons, I’d never really thought about going to Hawaii myself. It was a place that I knew about, but didn’t really hold out a great deal of hope for visiting personally. Now, all I can think about is going back.

I’m not going to wax poetic at length here about that trip (though I will have a few more posts about it, focusing on a couple of specific things), but if you’re curious, you can see a lot of what we saw via my Flickr albums. I’ve organized just about every picture I took in Hawaii into these albums. I haven’t gone through and captioned every photo, but I’ve done a lot of them.

  1. Hawaii 2021: This album was going to be my “All the Hawaii” photos album, but then I realized that I needed to split them up more, so this one ended up incomplete. (I put all of the selfies and photos of The Wife and I in this album, though!)
  2. Hawaii 2021, Food and Drink: Self-explanatory. I have never eaten so well on a trip as I did on this trip. I have also not imbibed so well as I did on this trip, which is quite a thing given that we live near one of the United States’s great wine regions. (Food will probably be a post of its own, but meantime, here are pics.)
  3. At the Byodo-In Temple: I took a bunch of pictures in this one place, so it gets its own album.
  4. Pearl Harbor: Another location-specific album. We did not get to go to the USS Arizona Memorial, due to damage to the docks (Oahu was hit by a big storm the week before we got there), but Pearl Harbor is still a deeply moving place to visit.
  5. Sunsets and Rainbows: Self-explanatory. See this post for meditation on a theme.
  6. Candids and Streetscapes: Photos of people and places. I love people-watching, and Waikiki is a fantastic place to do so.
  7. Landscapes, Seascapes, and all the rest: This is the biggest album, encapsulating just about all of my “Oh WOW LOOK AT THAT!!!” moments throughout the trip. Even my crappy photos looked good!



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Back in the Saddle!

It’s January 10, so here ends my brief hiatus! As I get my bearings again, here are some links to things:

::  First, I have no idea how long this may last online (copyright holders may squash it), but here’s the BBC telecast of the 2022 New Years From Vienna concert. If you’re familiar with the version that runs every year on PBS as part of Great Performances, you’ll note differences: this is just the concert, recorded live, with none of the “Vienna travelogue” stuff that forms much of what Americans see. There is some Vienna travelogue stuff, during an extended film in the middle of the program that pairs some lovely chamber music with some wonderful photography of Vienna and surroundings. (This takes up the concert’s intermission period.) Still, since the featured attraction here is still the great Vienna Philharmonic and the music of the Strauss family, you’re in good stead if you watch this!

::  I thought about writing an essay about the 1-6-21 Insurrection, but really, there’s nothing I have to say that Jim Wright, John Scalzi, and Kevin Drum didn’t already say, so check them out. (And if you’re looking for “debate” on what was most certainly an attempt to set aside the results of an election to reinstall an authoritarian President, go somewhere else. I do not value “debate” and I will not even approve any pro-insurrection comments to appear on my site.)

::  It was Elvis Presley’s birthday two days ago. Sheila O’Malley has this covered, here and here.

::  I’m not generally a big fan of “Why I hate this person” pieces, but…well, here’s a gem of the form, if you feel like hating on soon-to-be-retired Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

::  Are you following the ongoing developments in the deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope? You should be! Space.com has you covered. Spoiler: So far, it’s going pretty well. Note the body language from the folks actually running the mission:

::  I have not yet seen the movie Licorice Pizza, but Roger has. I do want to see it.

::  I made Cioppino the other night!

What’s Cioppino? It’s a fish stew invented in San Francisco, and it is delicious. I found an easy recipe for it in one of my Instant Pot cookbooks, and I have fallen in love with this stuff. (It’s a little pricy so I don’t make it too often.)

::  And winter finally showed up in Western New York…though as I write this on Sunday morning, it’s all melting. (And will apparently be replaced tonight and tomorrow, as we’re on a temperature roller-coaster.)

That’s about it for now. How are things in your necks o’ the woods?

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A Very Public Service Message

Make sure to check out my Year’s End post just below this one…and then, note that after today, I’m taking a brief breather from posting in this space. Posting will resume here on January 10. I’m going to recharge the blogging batteries, read, clean my library, and…sigh…get back to work on Forgotten Stars V. I’ll still be tweeting and posting to Instagram, so check me out there!

And now, really. Exeunt. I mean it. Exeunt! EXEUNT!!!


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2021. I didn’t love you, but I loved parts of you.

It’s time for my annual look back at the year that was. I did this every year on Byzantium’s Shores, and now I do it here. Generally, 2021 wasn’t terrible for me personally, even though it was not a fantastic year for many. I try to maintain my occasional optimism, but it is hard sometimes.

Time for the annual quiz! As always, many of my answers stay the same from year to year. But some don’t! Let’s see!

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Heh! Aside from “Read a lot, write a lot, eat healthier, listen to more music”, I don’t do much in terms of resolutions. I made a decent dent in the stack of books that I wanted to read in 2021, and some of those titles are shifted to my “Hopefully in 2022” List. (I tend to deviate from planned reading lists when I see a book somewhere, be it a bookstore or a library or my own shelves, and I say, “Oooh! I wanna read that NOW!”)

And I did write a lot. I’ve blogged more this year than in the last several years, and I’ve been toiling away on the first draft of Forgotten Stars V: A Fifth of Space Princesses (not the actual title) pretty much since January 1. I took a break from that book for Hawaii, which was a good thing anyway as I bogged down on the book’s story a bit. After doing some plotting, I plan to return to it on January 1. Again. 

I have also started doing a round of edits on my supernatural thriller Into the Jaws of Cerberus (the actual title!), with an eye on publishing it in 2022.

As for reading, it was a great year! According to Goodreads I read 57 books this year. (It’s probably give or take one or two. Goodreads’s accounting of stats can be a bit of a mess as sometimes it credits you for two editions of the same book, and other quibbles. Goodreads is actually a pretty frustrating tool to use–I’m not sure why Amazon bought it, if they’re not going to do anything with it–but as I use it exclusively to track my reading, I don’t feel like bailing yet.) I usually set a challenge of 52 books on GR each year, so I made it again. Yay!

Here are my ten favorite books from 2021 (links to posts in which I wrote about those books specifically in this space):

  • Spoon River Anthology, Edgar Lee Masters
  • Why We Swim, Bonnie Tsui [post]
  • This Will All Be Over Soon, Cecily Strong [post]
  • So Many Ways To Lose, Devin Gordon [post]
  • Pychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, Lester Bangs
  • The Last Stargazers, Emily M. Levesque
  • Mary Astor’s Purple Diary, Edward Sorel
  • The Smallest Lights in the Universe, Sara Seager
  • The Deficit Myth, Stephanie Kelton
  • World of Wonders, Aimee Nezhukumatathil [post]

You can see my complete 2021 Reading List on Goodreads here. I liked almost everything I read this year; my biggest reservations were Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule (the first book in the Star Wars: The High Republic publishing venture; based on other reactions to this book I saw online, I feel I may owe this a re-read), The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book by Deborah Lipp (enormously frustrating because here’s a Bond fan who loves Bond as much as I do and yet our opinions throughout the series vary wildly), and A Thousand Country Roads by Robert James Waller (which I read out of curiosity after a Bridges of Madison County re-read and…well, it’s not great).

Some titles I hope to read in 2022:

  • The Expanse, complete, James SA Corey
  • Winter’s Tale and In Sunlight and In Shadow, Mark Helprin
  • Jade City, Fonda Lee
  • Victories Greater Than Death, Charlie Jane Anders
  • The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  • A Promised Land, Barack Obama
  • Coming of Age in the Milky Way, Timothy Ferris
  • Alice in Sunderland, Bryan Talbot

And more!

Living healthier? I did that! I recorded weight losses at each doctor’s visit this year, and my numbers rock across the board. And I listened to a ton of new music. Onward and upward!

Did anyone close to you give birth?

There’s a nice young couple down the street who welcomed their second child this year, but that’s about it.

Did anyone close to you die?

No, but several people I know passed away.

What countries did you visit?

Again, I never left the United States. But I did leave the continent! Hooray for Hawaii!

What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?

An end to the pandemic, and a feeling that my country is moving toward rationality and a renewed commitment to thinking collectively and valuing democracy.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Frankly, having as good a year as I had amidst all of this [waves at everything] was quite an accomplishment, I think. I kept living, kept writing, kept reading, kept learning. That’s an achievement, I think.

What was your biggest failure?

Not sure I’d call it a failure, but I’m disappointed that once again my plans for drafting a novel proved very unrealistic. Every time I’ve written one of these things I’ve bogged down and taken longer to get it done than I expected, and yet, every time it happens again, I go through several days of panic–“OMG, I’m losing it, my writing is deserting me, I’m doomed! DOOOOOOMED!”–before the clouds start to part and the dust cloud starts to spin and slowly become an accretion disc which then becomes a celestial body all its own.

And then I write.

I also spent too much time noodling about on social media. One approach I’ve taken thereof is to always have at least one e-book in progress, so I can pull up my Kindle app instead of Twitter or Facebook.

What was the best thing you bought?

My new phone: A Samsung Galaxy s21 Ultra! With 512GB internal storage! [look for post, if not, write about it here]

I bought a lot of nifty stuff here and there, with some cool book hauls along the way, but for sheer amusement, nothing beats this necklace for The Wife:

In Waikiki there is an alley that has been converted into a marketplace of stall and tent vendors, hawking t-shirts and jewelry and knick-knacks, gewgaws, and tchotchkes of all kinds. None of it is high-end stuff, but it’s generally fun souvenir stuff. One woman was selling pretty jewelry, and in such situations The Wife and I have developed a routine: she notes that I’m lingering over jewelry and wanders off for a few minutes, so I can buy something as a surprise. Except this time, she stuck right by me, just as the woman operating the booth–an Asian lady–starts into her spiel, which she delivered stream-of-consciousness without stopping for breath:

“Ooooh, you’re looking at this set? It comes with earrings! Isn’t it pretty? It’s the color of the sea, note the blue and the green, like the waves here. It would look lovely on your wife! Ohhh, is this your wife? [to The Wife] Wouldn’t this look pretty on you? Yes! In fact, let’s see how pretty it is on you! [swoops behind The Wife and in seconds the necklace is on her neck] Ooooh, this is so pretty! [to me] You see how pretty she is? She loves it! Look how happy she is! And it comes with the matching earrings! They’d be so pretty on her….”

This goes on, even though I’ve already got my wallet open.

The set was about $30, so again, this wasn’t a back-breaking purchase, and it wasn’t even the only jewelry I bought for her on this trip! But it was the most memorable sale that I was a part of all year, I think.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Anyone who kept masking, got their vaccinations and boosters, and behaved like members of a functioning society without bleating about “liberty” and “freedoms” and all of that crap. Also, anyone who continued to stand up for democracy. We’re gonna miss that when it’s gone, folks.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and Republicans of just about every kind. Anyone who acted like “Critical Race Theory” was the most important thing under the sun…until the November elections, after which nary a word was heard of it. And our Supreme Court, whose conservative majority is in the process of installing every policy for which it was bought, paid for, and stolen.

Moving on to more positive stuff:

Where did most of your money go?

Same as always: Books, booze, food, gifts, and vintage overalls. And I paid down some debt, which was nice. Oh, and a Big Trip!

What did you get really excited about?

The afore-mentioned Big Trip! That was huge. A part of me didn’t believe we were actually going there until the Captain on the last plane (our route was BUF-ATL-LAX-HNL) came on the speaker and said, “We’re beginning our final descent into Honolulu.”

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

I’m really trying to concede as little ground as humanly possible to the idea that as we get older, life gets sadder.

Thinner or fatter?

See above: thinner! Though I will admit that my eating habits the last three weeks or so have slammed the brakes on things in that regard. It shouldn’t be too hard getting back in the swing of things, though.

Richer or poorer?

I paid down a lot more debt this year, and I am getting more and more aggressive with my 401K with each year, so I guess the end result of that is “richer”.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Besides the usual stuff, well…more cooking! I need to rekindle my enjoyment of cooking.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Eating crap. I can’t give up all of my vices, but I would like to indulge them in higher-quality items.

How did you spend Christmas?

Eating, opening gifts, worrying about our luggage, and generally being jet-lagged. It took until just this past Wednesday before I really felt like I’d acclimated back to Eastern Time.

My sister was here in person this year–no Facetime on Mom’s iPad this year, yay!–and we ate pretty well. But as Christmases go, it was pretty lethargic.

Did you fall in love in 2021?

Well, there was this really pretty woman I spotted at a bus stop in Waikiki….

She seemed open to my flirting!

How many one-night stands?

A gentleman doesn’t answer such questions. Besides, it’s zero. Married, y’all!

What was your favorite TV program?

Shows we found and enjoyed this year include Leverage (a heist show about a younger, hipper, edgier kind of “A-Team” group who go around doing “rob from the rich” type stuff), Good Girls (a comedy-drama about three women who have been best friends since grade school who decide, in their financial stress, to commit robbery to pay their bills–and thus get embroiled in a life of crime), and my favorite, The Repair Shop. This show will be getting its very own post at some time soon. I love it to death.

I haven’t tried any new network shows of late, after we had terrible luck last year with show’s we’d discovered and loved being canceled after one or two seasons.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I really try to avoid hate. I am not always successful, but I’d rather not name names.

What was the best book you read?

See above!

What was your greatest musical discovery?

I focused a lot on the music of Jean Sibelius this year (and I still need to work through his larger works). I had always struggled to love his work in the past, but there’s something in his austere heat and chill that appeals to me at this point.

And this year I listened to a lot of Taylor Swift. I think she’s an amazingly talented person and I’ll entertain no debate on this point.

What did you want and get?

A new President and a Democratic Congress.

What did you want and not get?

An end to the filibuster.

What were your favorite films of this year?

I saw exactly one movie in a theater this year: No Time To Die, which has a post of its own forthcoming at some point in January. We also watched all of the Ocean’s movies, the heist flicks with George Clooney and company, as well as the one with Sandra Bullock and company. We enjoyed these greatly, though at times I wonder why a team with the financial resources it apparently has really needs to be stealing money at all.

What did you do on your birthday?

As usual, we journeyed to Ithaca and the Finger Lakes. This year’s trip was shorter and we missed the Ithaca Apple Festival by a week (they didn’t finalize dates for the Festival until after we had to commit to booking a hotel room), but it was still a lovely time.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?

It didn’t really change much, did it? Though I’ve diversified in the shirt department, though. As I neared fifty, I finally embraced flannel. Also, I added “Renaissance Faire” shirts to my repertoire.

What kept you sane?

Books and music and dogs and cats and overalls. Walks in the woods and by the water. I cope best when I’m allowed to focus my energies inward.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Christina Hendricks and Manny Montana, GOOD GIRLS

The afore-mentioned show Good Girls is loaded with terrific acting, but my favorites were the duo of Christina Hendricks and Manny Montana, whose chemistry is utterly scorching onscreen. I loved their scenes together so much that I decided that when the show ended I wanted them to go off and do a gender-bent Indiana Jones movie, with Hendricks as Dr. Jones and Montana as Dr. Jones’s occasional lover and occasional sidekick, Mario Ravenwood. (Sadly, I have since learned that Hendricks and Montana may not have gotten along terribly well on the Good Girls set, so my fantasies of Hendricks in khakis and a leather coat and a hat and brandishing a whip, and Montana in a tux with white jacket and a rose in the lapel, remain just that.)

What political issue stirred you the most?

We live in a terrible era, politically. But what’s bothering the most is the Republican Party’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy and lock themselves into power, at a time when their policy positions are entirely based on nonsense, irrationality, and error.

Who did you miss?

Once again, I miss the local geek community. I hope we can have cons again soon.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021:

Leaving last year’s answer intact:

Read a lot, write a lot. Listen to music. Go for walks and look at sunsets. Take all the pictures you want. Learn new things and try new stuff. If you have a dog, take him for walks. Buy books for your daughter, even when she complains that she likes to pick her own books (let her do that, too). Nothing fits your hand so well as your lover’s hand. Eating out is fine, but learn to cook things, too. Have a place to go where they know you and what you order. Don’t be afraid to revisit your childhood passions now and again; you weren’t always wrong back then. Overalls are awesome, it’s OK to wear double denim, and a pie in the face is a wonderful thing!

To this I’d add: The United States of America desperately needs to re-embrace rational and collective thinking, and ditch its mythologies about rugged individualism and the eternal wisdom of “the Founders”.

I’d sum it up with a quote from the afore-mentioned Enola Holmes: “Our future is up to us.”

If you take selfies, post your six favorite ones:

This might be my favorite such photo of the year.

Of course, this implies the existence of…


If you have a blog or other online writing forum, share some of your favorite work from this year:

This is a new question that I’ve just added! I don’t really want to have an entirely separate post for Favorite Posts anymore; all of my yearly sum-up will be in a single post. That said, here’s some stuff I’ve liked from the year gone by. (Format might be a bit screwy on some of these since I’m linking the versions that were imported to this site from Byzantium’s Shores.)

On Fandom, Personal Attachments, and the Buffalo Bills

I raise a glass to you, Dr. Vishniac

What Happened Was: Thoughts on the Film


Lance Mannion: RIP

A Year of Masking

The Flannel Conversion

On Ned Beatty and Hear My Song

“I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go”: Forty Years of Indiana Jones

“Well I’ll tell you this and I’ll tell you that, I’m very very scared of a very big hat!”

“I’d rather die living” (Thoughts on anti-vaxxers)

Round-about we go (On Roundabouts)

WNY Love Letter: The Dumas Bridge

A proposed AMENDMENT, addressing certain ISSUES pertaining to the SUPREME COURT of these UNITED STATES.

How many coffee-brewing methods does one geek need, anyway?

Nuphone, whodis?

Chili, done MY way

Recent adventures in Overalls Nation

Gap, with stripes: new to the overalls collection

Sir Cottagecore meets Monsieur Village Cooper: Realizing My New Aesthetic

Speaking of Made-Up Holidays: Celebrating “Pie in the Face Day”

My Official and Correct James Bond Movie Rankings: You Only Rank Once, Rank Another Day, Live and Let Rank, A View to a Ranking, Licence to Rank, “I never joke about my ranking!”

Finally, while I won’t link them all, my posts from Hawaii can all be found here. I will be adding to this later on!

That’s just a smattering of everything I did in this space this year, so I do encourage you all to look through the archives. I’m still a blogger at heart!

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Most years this one is really super-easy. This year, I had to struggle a bit…until I realized there’s really only one choice. In fact, it was so obvious, given my interests and the feeling this year of time either standing still or running out…and the role this song plays in one of my favorite movies of all time and in a movie that just came out this year.

With music by John Barry and lyrics by Hal David, here is Louis Armstrong.

We have all the time in the world
Time enough for life

To unfold all the precious things
Love has in storeWe have all the love in the world
If that’s all we have you will find
We need nothing more

Every step of the way
Will find us
With the cares of the world
Far behind us

We have all the time in the world
Just for love
Nothing more, nothing less
Only love

Every step of the way
Will find us
With the cares of the world
Far behind us, yes

We have all the time in the world
Just for love
Nothing more, nothing less
Only love

Only love


And with that I bring my year of blogging to another end. This year began on Byzantium’s Shores, and now it ends here on ForgottenStars.net. A brief word about that: I’ve known for a number of years that this was a move that I should make–even though I don’t have any idea how many readers have come along for the ride–but I hesitated for various reasons. Finally, though, I really couldn’t wait any longer. I do rather miss the heyday of blogging, and I do rather miss my “old stomping ground” that I set up in a bit of haste way back in February of 2002. Some people have turned blogging into a career, or they’ve managed to parlay their blogging into new careers. I haven’t been so lucky, but that was never the point…and who knows what the future holds as I move forward with this format. Anyway, I hope you’ll stick around and tell all your friends. I like to think I produce decent content here!

With that, I bid 2021 a farewell. Not really a fond farewell, but I will say this: for me, 2021 was better than 2020. I realize that we’re not exactly setting the bar very high there, but every improvement starts somewhere. I seem to remember a certain Starfleet captain advising a war-addicted planet to give up its ways one day at a time: “We’re not going to kill, today.” A lot of wisdom there.

Thank you, readers! See you in 2022!

Exit, pursued by a greyhound who wants a cookie.

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Bon voyage, James Webb Space Telescope!

I haven’t mentioned this, but the rocket bearing the James Webb Space Telescope blasted off the other day. The telescope is headed for the L2 Lagrange Point, a spot in space where it will orbit the Sun in such a way that it maintains its relative position to Earth. This telescope will have stunning visual capabilities that will put Hubble to shame, which is a bold statement considering the decades of astonishing imagery and science produced by the Webb Telescope’s predecessor. I cannot wait to see the images that come back and to learn the things that Webb helps us discover.

Here’s a handy guide on the Webb Telescope’s mission. Even in times such as these, we keep learning about the universe. It’s part of what keeps us going, even in times such as these!

Mirrors of the James Webb Space Telescope.

(photos via)

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Oh, and by the way…

…I will write a few more posts about our Hawaiian adventure, but first I want to get all my photos from that trip organized into albums on Flickr, while the adventure is fresh on my mind. I don’t want to dig into photos in another week or two and start saying, “Now where was this? What were we doing? Huh? Wazzat?!” So, bear with me. (Plus, I don’t want this site to become All-Hawaii-All-The-Time, thus becoming the cyber-version of That Guy Who Won’t Shut Up About The Place He Went That You Didn’t.)

Carry on, folks!


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