1. One on my reading list has provided, not just cities visited in 2020, but cities not visited, i.e. those for which trips were cancelled. That hadn't occurred to me to do, even though for a while I was posting a monthly list of concerts not attended on the same basis. I think it hadn't occurred to me because I don't always know exactly where I would be staying. But I can say that known trips for the year that didn't take place would have taken me to:
Montgomery County, MD
Ashland, OR, and Seattle, WA (by car)
2. I didn't participate in the "round-the-world" sf-fannish New Year's Eve party, but I did log in for the (British) Tolkien Society's Tolkien's Birthday toast (he's 129) on Sunday. I had a glass of the Chaucer's Mead that B. had bought for the holidays, appropriate both because this was a mead-ing and because Chaucer was an author that Tolkien actually liked, a rare find indeed. We had the traditional toasts, to the Queen (told you they were British), to Absent Friends, and to The Professor; TS chair Shaun Gunner read aloud the scene of Bilbo's Birthday speech (ending with Bilbo's last words, "I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!" and not recounting what happens next), and then we split up into randomly-assigned breakout rooms to chat with our fellow members. Mine included two people I already knew, plus several cats in different households. I regretted that my cats were usually asleep at this hour, but the others told me that no, when I was out of the room for a bit a cat made an appearance on my video feed. "Was it the dilute orange one?" I asked. Yes, they confirmed. "I thought so. His name is Tybalt," I said.
3. Those awkward night hours when I can't go back to sleep but am too tired to work are a good time for watching movies, though they leave me easily impatient. Going over what's new on Amazon this month that I hadn't seen had me turning off both Face/Off and Donnie Brasco after a few minutes each because even the good guys were totally repulsive characters, and why is a guy called "Lefty" when he's conspicuously right-handed? On the other hand, Escape from Alcatraz, even though I knew already it would be more a prison-life movie than an exciting-escape movie, was so excellently directed and paced that I found it totally engrossing. Even better watching than Clint Eastwood being strong and silent as the chief escapee, was the sadistic prison warden who was played by - of all people - Patrick McGoohan. Uttering the same kind of authoritarian blither that so enraged his character in The Prisoner when it came from various Number Twos, he was cold and smug, McGoohan's acting specialty. Consequently the sound of thunder, exactly like that which begins The Prisoner's opening credits, and a shot of a helicopter landing on a beach, struck me as Prisoner references likewise. And it's a movie about prisoners, right? Right.
4. There's been an enormous amount of coverage of the tape of DT's phone call to the Georgia election officials (the state Secretary of State and his lawyer). Setting new records for horrifying, even from this source, it is best characterized by Dan Rather's tweet, "It's like telling the Nixon tapes to 'hold my beer.'" Numerous articles on the legal implications, of which the best I've read is this one, point out that DT's only possible defense against prosecution for attempted election fraud is that he really believes the guff he's spewing out. (Fraud has to be conscious.) Which he must believe, otherwise there's be no force in his threatening Raffensperger and Germany with their own prosecutions for fraud for having suppressed the alternative universe in which DT won. But there's a huge flaw in his taking this approach, and it was Jonathan Chait who best pointed it out: he "does not sound like a man who believes he has uncovered a serious crime. He sounds, instead, like a man who is engaged in a negotiation, offering his counterpart a cover story he can use to deliver the goods. ... He doesn’t care what process or rationale Raffensperger employs to arrive at that bottom line, any more than he cared what section of the Ukrainian criminal code Zelensky would charge Biden with supposedly violating." So as we already knew, at heart he's a mobster. He should be a character in Donnie Brasco. Then I could turn him off after 15 minutes and not have to think about it further.