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Photo by Rev. Colleen Darraugh, Wikipedia

The Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry has led an epic American life. The Florida native began preaching at age 15 and worked his way through opposite-sex marriage, parenthood, divorce, ouster from his church, military service, and a suicide attempt before finding his voice as a gay minister and founding the first gay-centric church in 1968. Since then the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) have grown to embrace 222 congregations in 37 countries. Perry, now 80, stepped down as MCC’s Moderator in 2005, but not before presiding over the first same-sex union in 1969, suing for legal recognition of same-sex marriages in…


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In the tradition of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, Julia Spencer-Fleming has written a series of novels about a clergy member who moonlights as a sleuth. What sets the Rev. Claire Fergusson apart from the surprising number of other clerical detectives is not so much her gender or Episcopal denomination as her military service as a helicopter pilot in Iraq — and, as the series progresses, her romance and eventual marriage to Russ Van Alstyne, the police chief of Millers Kill in upstate New York. Those two distinctions make the series an intriguing update of both the traditional “cozy” mystery genre…


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For a journalist and critic, sleeping with your subjects is a potential conflict of interest, not to mention a monumental act of bad taste. But that’s what I’ve been doing with the OontZ Angle 3 Plus. This little portable speaker is my new bedtime music companion.

I was drawn to the OontZ because for me, bedtime music is a medical necessity. I have chronic insomnia. Without enhancers, I would sleep two or three hours every two or three nights. No one can go on like that. Drugs helped, for a while, but I reached the point where the elephant tranquilizers…


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Leon Rosselson at Occupy protest, London. Photo by Janet Gyford.

Few songwriters mock money and power as thought-provokingly and entertainingly as Leon Rosselson. The London native has a unique way of balancing outrage with humor. A Rosselsong may approach its subject with a pointed stick, like the one that one-ups the prevalent view of looting (YouTube | Spotify) with unexpected historical context. A song about Mozart’s sister (YouTube | Spotify) is doubly mischievous — first suggesting that she would have outshone him if not hobbled by sexism, then offering the twist of an unreliable narrator. In general, no expectation goes unsubverted (YouTube | Spotify). But not all of the stimulus…


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Does this look like a cannister of disinfectant wipes to you?

Some time ago I paid an internet scammer more than a hundred bucks for disinfectant products that never shipped. In such instances of fraud, credit card companies typically take the side of the customer and refund the money. This case worked out differently — the scammer got the credit card company to reverse the refund and clawed back my money. In this second part of what I never intended to be a multi-part series, I will go into how this happened, how the credit card company responded, and the ultimate resolution (to date).

The story so far: Like many other…


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HSU Research VTF-2 MK5 subwoofers

Now that I have gone from full-time audio equipment reviewer to semi-retired person, I am at liberty to make choices not available before. When my subwoofer expired of old age and reviewer-abuse syndrome — oh, the beatings it took — I saw this not as a loss but as an opportunity. I thereupon bought two subwoofers larger than any I’ve had before.

In my previous life, for obvious practical reasons, I shunned any gear that I could not easily uncrate, move around the room, and pack up again later. I was a highly specialized reviewer and my strong suits were…


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When I moved to New York City in 1975 Columbus Circle was a pedestrian nightmare. The 2005 redesign has made the southwestern corner of Central Park more pedestrian-friendly but one of Columbus Circle’s chief flaws stubbornly remains — its name. For the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Christopher Columbus has become a symbol of colonial oppression and theft. Now there is a movement to change the name of Columbus Circle.

The idea is compelling. The recent sea change in attitudes on systemic racism makes this the ideal time for it, now that Confederate monuments that stood obscenely for generations are…


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Screenshot of brandjacking website — not affiliated with Clorox

It’s amazing what you’ll believe if you want to believe it badly enough. I wanted to believe that a Facebook ad led me to a genuine Clorox-sanctioned website where I could buy that brand’s disinfecting wipes. You might well ask why the reputable maker of bleach and other cleaning products would sell direct to the public. Surely, I thought to myself, Clorox is being sensitive to the frustration of consumers who can’t find its products on store shelves. I was convinced that this operation was a goodwill gesture intended to keep us happy customers. It was instead a scam designed…


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PNAS

My hearing has just been severely injured — and not for the first time — by a motorist in Manhattan, where a super-majority of residents live in car-free households.

I was carrying home some groceries when I came to a man and woman conversing on the sidewalk. They were not wearing the face masks which anyone with an ounce of decency now wears amid the Covid19 crisis. The sidewalk was partly blocked by scaffolding, as often happens on the streets of New York City, and I would have had to walk within less than a foot of them. …


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Since retiring from public performance in 2009, the British drummer Bill Bruford has earned a doctorate in music from the University of Surrey and launched a new career as an author and lecturer. In the recordings he has left behind his snare is as recognizable, if not quite as celebrated, as John Lennon’s voice or Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. If he had retired after injecting clockwork precision and tension into the Yes masterpieces Fragile and Close to the Edge, his place in history would have been assured. But he quit that secure job to help King Crimson record its provocative growth-spurt…

Mark Fleischmann

Author of The Friendly Audio Guide and the annually updated Practical Home Theater (quietriverpress.com).

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