100 Things I Love

May I just write music, movies and massages and leave it at that? Probably not. From Jaquandor. Again. In no particular order. Took longer to compile than 100 things that bug me. What does THAT say about me?

1. Government and association websites/databases with a lot of good, free stuff.

2. Blogging. It practically saved my life, created connections I would not have otherwise; among others, it’s how I reestablished with Fred and Deborah.

3. Cranberry juice. Often mixed with orange juice, sometimes with a splash of ginger ale.

4. A good massage.

5. Albany will probably withstand the forces of global warming better than most places.

6. Oatmeal raisin cookies.

7. Cinnamon raisin bagels.

8. Music in harmony – it could be Bach or the Beach Boys. I love it. I know unison singing has its place, but it’s not my favorite.

9. British invasion music and its American counterpoint.

10. The blues and folk and rockabilly that led to the 1960s music explosion.

11. Pizza. Good pizza, not the stuff at the work cafeteria.

12. The answering machine. Yes, I screen my calls. Got a problem with hat? Now, the phone number will appear on my TV screen for me to (usually) ignore.

13. The DVR. We still have in the queue Raisin in the Sun from February, ice skating from April and Thursday night comedies from May. Back in the VCR days, we’d have to keep track of what tape to watch or tape with. I’m also pleased with the limitations of the DVR, about 50 hours, which forces one to watch or delete, thus limiting the amount of TV we can watch. We see very little in real time.

14. The Billboard books Top Pop singles and Top Pop Albums.

15. The World Almanac, which I’ve been reading since I was 9 or 10.

16. Woody Allen movies of the 1970s and 1980s.

17. Candlelight. The power has gone out in my neighborhood two or three times a year.

18. Hess trucks for Christmas.

19. Oatmeal.

20. Gud grammer.

21. Cats. Used to own them; maybe, someday, I will again.

22. Reading the funnies in the paper, especially Pearls Before Swine.

23. Playing racquetball.

24. Watching baseball, especially at the stadium; maybe I’ll see the Cubs in September.

25. Watching football on TV from November on.

26. Pie. Apple or blueberry or peach, slightly warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

27. Builders who seem to have meshed form AND function into design in “green” ways that are accessible to all.

28. Joni Mitchell. Some other singer-songwriters too, but I’ve seen Joni twice, so we have a track record.

29. Cottage cheese. Goes with everything – fruit, eggs, cold chicken, apple sauce.

30. Maps. My grandfather used to give me his National Geographic maps. I’ve long been fascinated with how the US and the world changed geopolitically over time.

31. White wine, served with a slight chill. The red stuff gives me wicked headaches.

32. Walking on the beach as the waves roll in. My favorite time was in Galveston about a decade ago.

33. Intentionally getting “lost”, just walking somewhere with no particular goal.

34. Newspapers. I like to read, and they’re useful for drawing on, etc.

35. The late 1970s music movement: Police, Talking Heads and the like.

36. Giving massages.

37. JEOPARDY! daily calendars.

38. From JAQ: “Older women with long hair. Too often, when women head into whatever it is we consider ‘elder years’ these days – for purposes of this post, to pick an arbitrary figure, over fifty – women tend to cut their hair short or make liberal use of curlers or something like that. There’s always something striking, though, about an older woman with a full head of long, silver hair. Or red. Or blonde.”

39. “Picking songs and pieces of music for mix CDs. I like to think I’m pretty good at this.” I get rather invested in it.

40. Doing square root by hand. Because I can.

41. License plate math. Thinking of a license plate as an equation and solving for an unknown factor. (Has many rules, listed in the 8th paragraph http://rogerowengreen.blogspot.com/2006/05/pastiche.html here.)

42. Rack of Lamb with Mint Jelly.

43. Cheerios and spoon-sized Shredded Wheat, together.

44. Spinach lasagna.

45. Ice cream.

46. JEOPARDY! But Alex HAS to stop mentioning Ken Jennings every time someone wins more than three games.

47. Hell. The book series by Matt Groening that predates the Simpsons. Especially Love Is Hell.

48. Librarians are wonderful people.

49. Neil Young, just because.

50. Green. Green means go, in the money, environmentally friendly. Green’s the color of spring.

*****
Brian Ibbott of Coverville re: someone’s controversial opinion: “When you stir the pot, do you prefer a wooden or slotted spoon?”
*****
51. Excellent short-lived TV series, such as My So-Called Life and Once and Again. Maybe they would have eventually gone downhill, but we’ll never know, will we?

52. Dictionaries, the less abridged, the better.

53. The Complete Directory to Prime Network and Cable TV Shows by Brooks and Marsh.

54. Hymnals. It’s a great way of seeing the transition of the way religion is enacted. I have one nearly 150 years old, with just the words; it was ASSUMED you knew the music.

55. The Simpsons. One of those things I like that my wife does not

56. Romance language, especially French and Italian. I just like the way they sound.

57. Fireworks.

58. “Footbridges and boardwalks.”

59. The color blue.

60. Real maple syrup. Probably won’t be available in New York and Vermont in the next century.

61. “Sausages.”

62. Bill Moyers’ Journal. It speaks truth to power.

63. Rum. Don’t drink NEARLY enough of it anymore.

64. My birthday, which I share with Jenna Fischer, Rachel Weisz, Luther Burbank and many other fine folks.

65. Taking a bath. I do it rarely enough that it’s always special.

66. Jazz, of many kinds.

67. Automatic bill payments.

68. Song of Solomon. A horny little book of the Bible that’s hardly ever in the lectionary.

69. The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling.

70. Montreal. I’ve been there twice and loved it.

71. Motown, especially 1963-1972.

72. The Dick van Dyke Show and everyone associated with it, from Carl Reiner to Earl Hagen.

73. “Popcorn. My favorite of all snacks! I tend to prefer it with butter…”,

74. Slippers.

75. “Ms. Pac Man is still my favorite video game, however many years it’s been since I first played it.”

76. Sorry, the board game I most like to play with children.

77. SCRABBLE, which I used to play with my great aunt when I was eight.

78. The train, my favorite form of transportation.

79. “Shrimp.”

80. The promise of the U.S. Constitution. That it sometimes falls short isn’t its fault.

81. Many card games, including hearts, spades and pinochle.

82. Comic books. I don’t read them much now, but especially that period from 1972-1992, I devoured ’em.

83. The bicycle. In spite of the accident.

84. Thunderstorms when I’m home.

85. Books about movies and the industry.

86. My rain stick. It relieves stress.

87. City buses. I love how the daughter has learned to hail them.

88. Good Italian restaurants.

89. Intelligent movie comedies such as Groundhog Day.

90. Non-chain movie theaters.

91. Headphones, so I can listen to music but you don’t have to.

92. Dreamer politicians, such as Dennis Kucinich, who recently took action to have Bush and Cheney impeached. May history judge him more kindly.

93. Sunrise.

94. Sunset.

95. Learning new things almost every day on my job.

96. Optimists. Not sure I’m one, but they’re good to have around.

97. Cynics. They have their place, too.

98. Friends I’ve met, and friends I know only know electronically.

99. Being the alpha male of my tiny tribe. Didn’t like it initially, but now I’ve grown accustomed to it.

100. “You. You know who you are.”

And there we have it: 100 things I love.

ROG

Roger Answers Your Question, Roger and Anthony


Roger from Albany wonders: So how are you feeling now after your accident?

The problem is that I’m healing, feeling better, so that inevitably I overdo. Friday, for instance, I was carrying a bag in my right arm that I guess was too heavy, for my left side, where I broke my rib four weeks ago tomorrow, ended up in pain not unlike what I experienced two weeks ago. Still, I am healing, and I actually lifted my left arm almost straight up. I can’t run, but i can trot, which I couldn’t do the week before . The only thing that gives me really tremendous pain is sneezing. (Yes, i do talk to myself; ask my wife.) Oh and the picture was stolen from ADD, but then again, he stole my whole post, just as he promised.

Anthony asks: If it is not too late, I would like to ask a question, of a mildly philosophical and yet somewhat personal nature.

What do you think is the most critical quality or characteristic for a politician (make that statesman) to have in order to effectively govern, and why do think this?

First off, you assume that someone CAN effectively govern. Let’s posit that that is possible.

Second, you assume it’s not too late. After listening to a half dozen podcasts by James Howard Kunstler (curse you, ADD), I wonder. (On he other hand, ADD did have his own quasi-theological treatise.

Third, let me touch on a trait that are NOT necessary: be the kind of person with whom I can have a beer. Besides the fact that I don’t much like beer, I’ve thought it was a bizarre criterion for picking leaders.

I suppose the chief characteristic I’m looking for in a politician is integrity. I think that one can lead more effectively that way. And it’s not just beyond reproach, like Caesar’s wife. It’s a value system that makes one feel that the politician/statesperson wasn’t bending to which ever way the political winds are blowing. I’m not saying that John Kerry was doing that in 2004, but sometimes it FELT like that.

Of course, one has to have real Christian values, such as looking out for the greater good, rather than just for his or her cronies. One does not profess to be a Christian, or indeed, a member of any faith, to achieve this; conversely, public piety does not Christian values prove (see Bush, George W.)

I read about this town along the Mississippi River that was flooded in 1993. The town decided to move the entire town to higher ground. So while neighboring towns are inundated again in 2008, this small town is literally high and dry. That took leadership, and an integrity that this was taking place to help everyone.

When I was in college in New Paltz, NY in 1974, a Congressional seat opened up. The Republican incumbent, Howard Robison of Tioga County, decided not to run again in this massive district that ran through at least five counties and looked like a giant curved hot dog, running from Ithaca (Tompkins County) through my hometown of Binghamton (Broome County) all the way to Woodstock and New Paltz (Ulster County). Four Democrats and five Republicans vied for the seat.

I was a member of the New Paltz Democratic Club and we heard from three of the Dem candidates; the fourth the Town of Union (Broome County) supervisor Knopp (or something like that) didn’t bother, because the core of the population base skewed east and we were on the western fringe. The three who came were a young lawyer from Binghamton, who at least one member ended up supporting; Bill Schecter (sp?) a Woodstock lawyer and perfectly acceptable choice; and Matt McHugh, the district attorney from Tompkins County. As the anti-establishment type that I was, I felt I would be least likely to support McHugh, whose job title epitomized “The Man”. But I wish I could tell you now what quiet elegance the man had where he expressed his viewpoint and I realized that, despite my initial misgivings, it as clear to me that he was the best man for the job. He oozed character. Maybe three or four others (John Vett – who would later become mayor of New Paltz; Tom Nyquist – who would also eventually become mayor of New Paltz; Tom’s wife Corinne) also supported McHugh; everyone else went to the local favorite, Schecter.

I never worked so hard on behalf of another person in my life until I cleaned out my mother’s shed last fall. I went door to door carrying petitions and got at least 125 signatures. I attended a number of “meet the candidate” house events. One of Matt’s great gifts was not only the ability to remember people’s names, but specific details about them. “Hello, Mary, how’s your husband Bob’s lumbago?”

Matt even gave me a ride from New Paltz to Binghamton so I could visit friends, and on the two-and-a-half hour drive debated the issues of the day. I didn’t agree with all of his positions. I specifically recall his position against abortion, based on his Roman Catholic upbringing which I didn’t share, and yet we found ways to agree to disagree while embracing our common ground.

The results of the primary was that Matt McHugh won the primary. He lost the part of Ulster County in the district, but I was pleased to note that HE WON NEW PALTZ!

For the general election, one of my professors, Glenn McNitt, who had been backing Schecter, helped organize polling phone banks, and I made a lot of calls. McHugh would be running against Al Libous, the mayor of Binghamton, whose politics I HATED. Of course, McHugh won the general election and served until the end of 1992, when he declined to run for reelection.

He is currently on the board of http://www.abanet.org/rol/europe_and_eurasia/board_europe_eurasia.html the America Bar association Rule of Law Initiative.

Anthony, I know I’ve fallen far afield of your question. Anyway, I think people sense authentic or inauthentic. Well, some of the time.

Oh, and thanks for your defense of me by that “opiate of the masses” guy. Peculiar, the post itself was primarily a thanks to my church choir director, whose last service is today; I never expected that sort of response and feel rather ill-equipped to go one-on-one with that type.

ROG

MOVIE REVIEWS: Defending Your Life, ID4, Andromeda Strain

Movies I’ve seen recently, two on DVD, one recorded on the DVR.

Defending Your Life (1991), lent to me by a co-worker, is an Albert Brooks movie, by which I mean he directs, writes, and stars in a film that’s about what happens after one dies, a vaguely familiar version of one’s earthly existence. But everyone gets to see the highlights and lowlights of their past and have to explain their actions. Brooks’ character meets and falls for another of the recently deceased, played by Meryl Streep. It’s a comedy, but it did not have many big laughs for me. Still, I liked it, as I found it quite thought-provoking.
There is a movie trailer included but DON’T watch it until after you see the film, as it essentially REVEALS THE ENDING.
***
Independence Day: One of my co-workers lent this to me on VHS. Another co-worker, seeing that I had the tape, brought me the DVD of the film. Apparently lots of people really liked this film, as it was a big hit in the summer of 1996.
I will say that in the July 2 segment, things got blowed up real good. But I never got all that invested in the characters – well, maybe Randy Quaid’s drunken alleged former alien captive. I was watching the movie for a number of minutes when I had to look at the package; Will Smith IS in this, isn’t he? Yup, billed first, no less.
All the electronic alien encounters was done better in Contact, the meeting of the First Lady with another character stretch credulity, and the President would have been tackled by the Secret Service before getting into the plane. I didn’t hate it. More like indifference.

Whereas I hated, hated the A&E remake of The Andromeda Strain. I never saw the 1971 theatrical release. It featured Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order), Christa Miller (Drew Carey, Scrubs), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Ricky Schroeder (NYPD Blue, 24 – yes, he’s back to his Silver Spoons name) and Viola Davis (L&O: SVU) as scientists that are trying to find the reason a town all but died, making all who initially didn’t die suicidal or homicidal. TV Guide gave a “jeer” to Eric McCormack’s (Will & Grace) wooden performance as a drug-adled reporter, and rightly so. The mutation of the strain seemed almost random. Still,, I watched the second half of this four-hour mess, hoping for the payoff. Instead, it just went stoopid, especially in the last hour. I’m loath to provide spoilers, but suffice to say that: the family drama involving one of the scientists went nowhere; one romantic liaison had no chemistry, while another was highly implausible; the fate of one scientist went totally unexplained, a rescue mission contradicted the movie’s own internal logic; another rescue was utterly laughable; the death of one character was unexplained; and worse, the big reveal left me saying, WTF?! Awful, just awful. It’s available on DVD, but I implore you: DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS.
ROG

Songs That Move Me, 70-61

70. The Love You Save – Jackson 5
It’s true; I could sing every part of this song except Michael’s, and often did sing along, especially Jermaine’s part.
Feeling: Joyous.
(starts at 3:05, after some other J5 music)

69. The Supremes – Remove This Doubt.
Back in the bad old days of romance, there would be songs that I would play that reflected my state of mind. This was one. Great strings. Later covered by Elvis Costello.
Feeling: melancholy.

68. Levon-Elton John
I love it, pretty much for reasons noted here.
Feeling: What’s it all about?

67. I Got a Line on You – Spirit
A song from college that I have on vinyl that someone put on a mixed CD for me this century. Loved the doubled guitar line.
Feeling; Joyous.

66. Summer Days – Bob Dylan
The live versions I found, and there are several, don’t quite provide the same sensation as the studio recording..
Feeling: Like dancing.

A truncated album version.

65. Do What You Want to – Billy Preston.
I saw the late Billy Preston at a concert in college. The song starts slowly then speeds up considerably by the end. Great vocal and organ throughout. From the That’s The Way God Planned It album, produced by the late George Harrison.
Feeling: I will you love you anyway.

64. Spencer Davis Group – Keep on Running
This song lives on the bottom. When I used to ride my bike to work, I had this song in mind when taking an incline. Ah, when Steve Winwood was young.
Feeling: Energized.

63. A Hard Day’s Night – the Beatles.
Love that first chord, the shared vocals, the guitar bridge. Indeed, I have a fondness for the two-minute jazz version on the HDN soundtrack.
Feeling: joyous.

62. Lucky Man-Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Last song on the first album. I used to do a credible simulation of the synth at the end.
Feeling: not so lucky.

61. Pete Townshend – Let My Love Open the Door
I’ve read that Pete said that this isn’t a romantic love song, but a song of religious love. Whatever it is, I’m fond of the instrumentation in the beginning and the harmony vocals as much as anything. Also like the remix he did.
Feeling: loving.

ROG

The Lydster, Part 51: Bigger


When we took Lydia to the doctor’s for her physical shortly after her fourth birthday, she weighed 42 pounds and was 44 inches tall. A couple of months later, when we took her to her allergist, she measured 49 pounds and 47 inches tall. The size 11 toddler shoes which had fit her for several months no longer came even close to getting on her feet. She’s wearing size 13s and is very close to size 1 for children. Inevitably, when I tell someone she’s just had her birthday recently, people say, “Oh, she must be 5, or is she 6?” And invariably, I have to correct them and tell them that she is merely 4. Even her daycare teachers who see her daily sometimes forget.

Meanwhile, she’s seemed to have developed allergies to the spring grasses. One night, she was out while Carol (subbing for me) was mowing the lawn, and the next morning she broke into a coughing jag, worrisome because she ended up crying while walking in an unfocused manner. I scooped her up with my right arm – which still hurt but less than doing it on the other side – Carol got her some water, and she seemed OK.

In fact, it was her follow-up trip to the allergist when she gave us more trouble than she has in years. Usually, we have to wake her at 6:30, but that morning, she woke up at 5:30. I’m convinced that the worry awakened her. She was demanding and whiny almost constantly, uncharacteristically. I went downstairs to put the upstairs garbage in with the kitchen trash when I saw an invasion of black ants there, maybe 50 or more. Oddly, I called to Lydia, because she seemed fairly obsessed with few ants we had seen previously. I took out the garbage bag only to find more in the can, which didn’t drown easily. Lydia pointed out every escaping insect. (Subsequently, we got traps, which are working.) After this excitement, Lydia was back to her cheerful and cooperative self.

ROG

Remembering Raoul Vezina

As I’ve mentioned here before, maybe once or twice, I used to work at a comic book store/publisher called FantaCo Enterprises in Albany, NY from 1980 to 1988.
Raoul Vezina was an artist who worked for and was published by FantaCo, in the latter case, particularly in a series called Smilin’ Ed.
Raoul died 25 years ago in November, and I am looking for all things Vezina so I can write about him: primarily recollections, but also samples of his artwork.

Thank you.

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, Gay Prof and Scott

Gay Prof offers:
My question: Do you have any theories about the best way to keep John McCain out of the White House?

I do, but unfortunately it’s illegal and probably immoral. Wait, there’s probably some ageist crack I could make, but I won’t.
Look, I don’t know why people vote against their own interests, except that they naively by into a bill of goods. The economic boom that we used to be in was helping the John McCains of the country a lot more than you and me. Literally, the rich get richer, with golden parachutes for CEOs of failing companies. I thought Charlie Gibson on ABC News asked George Stephanopoulos an odd question last week: with Barack backing out of public financing, was it “fair” for Barack to have so much more money vs. McCain. I laughed so hard I almost hurt myself again. The GOP has had a lot more $$ at its disposal for decades, and Obama’s money is coming mostly from the common people. Is it fair that the government tut-tut homeowners for getting into financial situations that government policies encouraged? I know this doesn’t answer the question, but I’m stumped to find out how is John McCain the ANSWER to any of our current woes.

Generous Scott adds: I don’t care if you don’t answer any of mine, but I certainly hope you can answer Gayprof’s and it be something that we can truly do to make it happen.
Well, I did answer GP’s, FWIW. And now I’ll answer yours:

1. Who do you think will play in the World Series this year, and who will win it?

One team will be a new team, i.e., one we haven’t seen much of before. I think before the season I picked the Cubs, so I’ll stick with them. Not so incidentally, I’m hoping to see them play in Wrigley for the very first time in September. I thought that Cleveland and Detroit would do better, but alas. So, I’m going with Tampa; it’ll probably be Boston, but I’ve bored with Boston sports teams (except the Celtics, who I picked to win in seven.) It’s been 100 years. don’t the Cubs get to win every CENTURY?

2. What do you think has been the best (so far) movie adaptation based on a comic book?

Superman. No, Spider-Man. Wait, I liked Spider-Man 2 more than the first one. I didn’t see the last Batman or the upcoming one, but saw several others – not those. I did like Iron Man, but not the first Fantastic Four.

3. What are you top five movies?

Always impossible. Annie Hall’s on there, and probably Groundhog Day. The others are so fluid, like my favorite songs list or even favorite album. It might include Casablanca, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Field of Dreams, The Iron Giant, Rear Window, the original Star Wars (“episode 4” – feh), Toy Story 2, West Side Story (which isn’t a great movie, but the music and choreography hold), The Wizard of Oz, Young Frankenstein, and about a dozen movies I’ve either forgotten or are of the genres named (Empire Strikes Back, Toy Story); it could be any of the Pixar films I’ve seen, e.g.

4. If Obama loses the Presidential election, do you think it will hurt race relations and the fight against racism, or do you think that his nomination was already a move in the right direction and that a loss won’t set it back?

Yes.

Oh, you want more.

One of those ongoing myths was that Barack Obama was embraced nationally by black folks out of the shoot. Look at any poll that came out in December 2007, and Obama’s losing big time to Hillary Clinton with black voters. Part of it, ironically was that he wasn’t considered black enough. (And Hillary Clinton was?) But when he won Iowa, black voters gave him another look, and he’s been winning the black vote handily ever since, starting in South Carolina. (Which is why Bill Clinton’s correct observation that Jesse Jackson won South Carolina irritated so many people; it wasn’t just that he was black, it was that he was a black that, since the white folks in Iowa liked him, actually had a chance to win.) All the things he’s endured since from what I think is a media obsession with Rev. Wright to the sniping at Michelle Obama to the Muslim thing – regularly, at least 7% of the electorate believes that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is Muslim (not that should matter if he were) has made him more attractive to many blacks, and probably to white liberals as well. Here’s what often happens in with black folks when one of their own is put upon; they become more loyal, recognizing the institutional racism involved.

So, if he loses, most older blacks will see it as the same-o same-o. I’m not sure the paradigm holds for younger blacks, especially those who identify as biracial. It’s not that they don’t see racism, it’s that they may see Barack’s nomination, to use a football metaphor, as field position. Maybe Barack doesn’t score the touchdown this time, but it makes someone else’s chances better the next time. Maybe.

5. What album in your collection would probably most surprise your friends?

That would almost certainly be my one Toby Keith album. Not crazy about his politics, but I got it it for free at a convention in Nashville, and I rather liked a couple songs, especially “Let’s Talk About Me.”
***
Someone, I wish I could remember who, said about Robert Mugabe: If Zimbabwe had oil, we would have invaded by now.

ROG

Roger Answers Your Questions, ADD

The inimitable Alan David Doane, with whom I spent much of last Saturday afternoon, along with John Hebert, Rocco Nigro and Fred Hembeck wrote: I have five questions, which if you answer them all, I will steal your responses and put on my blog, because that’s just the kind of guy I am. And he is. He really is. He’s also a guy who hates his cell phone but keeps it charged, whereas I often don’t know where the phone and/or the charger are.

What is your favourite comic book story?

Yeesh. I must admit a fondness for the Defenders when Gerber was writing it, and I love a good origin story (Spider-Man, Hulk), but ultimately, I end up with Giant-Size Man Thing #1.

When reading comics, do you focus on the writing over the art, the art over the writing, or both about equally?

Serviceable art will allow me to read a well-told story. The most beautiful art will not save a terrible story line. One of the comic books I hate the most has to be Spider-Man #1. The McFarlane art was tolerable at best, but the story was so gawd awful, I stopped buying the title after 3 or 4 issues. Given the fact that I LOVED-LOVED-LOVED Peter Parker/Spider-Man, it was painful, but necessary. This was NOT the Peter I knew. The Spider-Man was more like Spawn. Loathsome.
When the Pinis used to come to FantaCo to do Elfquest signings, Richard used to rail against the comic fanboys who cared about art to the exclusion of story, and I thought he was absolutely right.
That said, sometimes the art DOES move me. I was buying Sub-Mariner during Bill Everett’s second run, and I loved the look.

Who do you think is the greatest comic book artist still alive today and why?

Well, besides Fred G. Hembeck, who should be considered just based on the sheer number of characters he’s drawn? I’ll cop out and say Art Spiegelman because he helped bring the comic form out of the comic book ghetto.

What’s your happiest memory of working at FantaCo?

I almost always loved when our publications came in, but I’m going to pick something rather arcane.
There was a graphic novelization of the Stephen King’s Creepshow drawn by Berni Wrightson in the mid-1980s. Having connections in both the comic and horror markets we knew, both instinctively and from comic and horror film stores we dealt with that there was still a demand for this title. The publisher, we ascertained, still had many copies of the book. I wrote to the publisher- nothing. I called the publisher – I was told the book was no longer available, which I knew to be untrue. Finally, I reached someone who acknowledged that they had copies but that it was not worth it for them to send it out only to deal with a huge percentage of returns.
So I said, “What if we bought them non-returnable?” I thought the guy’s teeth were going to fall out. “Non-returnable?” So, we took 100 copies of it at 70% off the $6.95 cover price, put them in the store and listed them in a Fangoria ad, and blew through them. So I called again and said, can we have another 100?” By this point other stores were clamoring for this book, so we ordered an additional 500, and sold it to these horror book stores, and a few comic book stores, at 40% non-returnable. The stores got to sell a book they could otherwise not get, we made a decent profit even wholesaling someone else’s book, and we kept the Wrightson book from just being remaindered. My persistence in dealing with this publisher was, strangely, my favorite FantaCo moment.

Here’s another: I just came across in the past week a letter that one of FantaCo’s mail order customers sent to me. Why it should resurface now, I have no idea, since we’ve only been in the house since 2000. (A 1989 article about the comic book Shriek was also in the pile.) This guy worked for Ryko, and he would send me, his mail order purveyor, free music.
Roger-
Good to speak to you on the phone today (1-26-88)…I’m finding Ryko fans in the strangest places.
Hope you enjoy these guys – I chucked in a couple 3″, too. The one with no writing is “They Might Be Giants”, a couple of guys from Hoboken, NJ.
I like this not for the swag, but because apparently I was giving him service worthy of him sending me free stuff. Still have that unlabeled TMBG disc.

What do you think is the single best publication FantaCo released in its history?

While I have a strong affection for the Spider-Man Chronicles, which I edited, I’m going to say Gates of Eden, which Mitch Cohn edited. No, I’m NOT going to pick the Amazing Herschell Gordon Lewis and his World of Exploitation Films, no matter how much you beg, Alan.

ROG

Carlin and other family-friendly topics

So I wake up at four a.m. for the third time in the night, because I still can’t find a comfortable sleeping position, probably because I didn’t take my pain pills all day yesterday, because I didn’t want to become habituated to them, so I get up and check Evanier, who notes George Carlin has died, and he writes: “Seven words come immediately to mind. All are appropriate for the occasion.” And I check my blog and note that I’d only mentioned Carlin thrice, twice on baseball and football, and once on education, but I recall how I’d been watching Carlin for decades, from the “hippy, dippy weatherman I remember him doing on the “Ed Sullivan Show” to one of the sharpest minds of social commentary, and there’s a pain in my heart AND my side. DAMN! (Not one of the seven words.)
***
Since one Kelly Brown specifically requested me to take this test, what could I do?

75

As a 1930s husband, I am
Superior

Take the test!

And speaking of family things, something I saw on the bus last week: Woman and daughter waiting for the bus, get on the bus. Woman sees child’s father on the bus, apparently to the surprise of all concerned. She says to child, “Oh, your father’s on the bus,’ hands the child to the father, saying “YOU take her!!” then gets off the bus. Child cries for mommy a couple blocks, but is eventually soothed by daddy; Arthur would have been pleased.

At least that a better bus story than my wife experienced, which involved a three-year old running on the bus, failing, crying, and the mother screaming at the wailing child, “I told you not to run on the bus.”
***
I was watching Bill Moyers again, and I must recommend it. It deals with race in America. One segment is about Slavery by Another Name, Douglas A. Blackmon’s book about what the subtitle calls “the Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.”
Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude.
Blackmon has a website addressing the issue.

Moyers also previewed the documentary which opens the 21st season of P.O.V. TRACES OF THE TRADE: A STORY OF THE DEEP NORTH, which tells the story journey of discovery into the history and consequences of slavery and which will air on my PBS station Tuesday night.
***
Someone tipped me about Twilight Zone radio plays produced in 2004 for CBS radio using Rod Serling’s original scripts, with Stacey Keach narrating and hosting.

ROG

A Wizard, A True Star

There have been so many incarnations of Todd Rundgren that I have a difficult time keeping track. Surely, Open My Eyes by Nazz was the first song I connected with.

I own both Nazz albums.

Then he bounced back and forth between being a solo artist and the leader of the group Utopia. From the former category, a painful ballad that asks a question – Can We Still Be Friends – and just from the music, you’re pretty sure the answer is no.

Without looking, I’m not sure what I own, though the 1985 A Capella album is certainly among them.

From Utopia, I have Deface the Music (1980), a Beatles tribute/parody, Swing to the Right (1990), and likely other albums.

Utopia hit in 1977 with Love in Action in 1977; this is solo Todd performing in 1986.

Signature tune, first done with Nazz, but a 1972 solo hit, Hello, It’s Me:

He has toured with Ringo’s All Starrs and has recently performed as part of the New Cars.

Todd Harry Rundgren, born June 22, 1948, turns the big six-oh today.

ROG