Archive for the ‘Fred Hembeck’ Category
Yesterday was Lydia’s first day of kindergarten. To say she did not want to go would be an understatement. She wouldn’t get up, she wouldn’t eat when asked (then suddenly when it was time to go, was ravenous) and mostly, she lost the ability to talk – all she could do was grunt and it was up to her parents to decipher the guttural sounds. The obligatory pictures all having her looking forlorn when she actually faced the camera. But when I got home last night, she was all smiles. I think she was afraid she wouldn’t fit in, despite our best efforts to reassure her.
Not so incidentally, she’s not attending the neighborhood school this fall, contrary to plans my wife Carol and I had made, but rather the school where Carol teaches. Carol had called the school a couple weeks ago and had left a message to this effect on the answering machine. She also called the district office but was directed back to the school. We never got a call from the local school until someone who sounded like a truant officer called, noting Lydia’s absence.
We are disappointed that Lydia will not be able to attend the neighborhood school. The problem was that the school’s relatively late opening time, 8:45 a.m., made it it impossible to drop her off and get to work at anything approaching on time. If a pre-school program had been available, it is quite likely that our school choice for Lydia would have been the neighborhood school.
I can’t believe how sucked into the Beatles stuff I’ve gotten this week. I’ve taped every program and watched quite a few, although not yet the movies A Hard Day’s Night or Help! or six hours of the Anthology series yet. I did watch this Beatles video collection which I loved. Penny Lane wasn’t as good as I remembered it from when I was 13, but the version of Revolution (loud but with the do-be-do-wahs of Revolution 1) was great.
Some of these are being repeated through this weekend, if you want to tape them (times are Eastern, I assume, or maybe it’s accurate for multiple time zones) on VH1 Classic.
Beatles Video Retrospective – Th 9/10, 4pm; Su 9/13, 3 pm
A Hard Day’s Night – F 9/11, 7 pm; Sa 9/12, 2 pm;
Help! – F 9/11, 9 pm; Sa 9/12, 4 pm; Su 9/13, 1 pm
The Beatles Anthology Part 1 – Su 9/13, 5 pm
The Beatles Anthology Part 2 – Su 9/13, 7 pm
The Beatles Anthology Part 3 – Su 9/13, 9 pm
One segment that’s NOT being repeated, as far as I can see, is this 2005 special about the Bangladesh concert, which I watched. It featured the late Billy Preston, who died 6/6/06; my, he did not look well. BTW, his birthday was widely reported as 9/9, but according to Billy’s official website and some court papers, his birthday was 9/2, 1946.
The Ellie Greenwich Coverville cover story, which another fellow and I had requested.
Dateline:@#$!: Fred Hembeck Interviews Wonder Woman (Sept , featuring gratuitous mentions of the songs of a Motown legend. As Fred put it, “Take a look, should you be so inclined–it’s WAY shorter than ‘Watchmen’ and just as likely to be ignored by Alan Moore!!”
Before I get to that, though, I need to direct you to this post of June 23, 2004, when Fred Hembeck noted the 25th wedding anniversary of Lynn Moss and himself. That was five years ago, which would make today…their 30TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY! Big congrats to you both. Oh, and people, you might want to check out a more recent Fred post, June 21, 2009, where daughter Julie cracks wise.
Oh, and since we’re speaking about Fred, you can now buy Hembeck-designed T-shirts from WORLD OF STRANGE Fantastic Apparel. You can’t buy them from Fred directly , but his June 3 post explains how it all came about.
Got this from the Frog again; BTW, there’s the back of lovely naked female person in the header of his blog, so depending on where you live or work, that may be an issue. What I guess I’m having trouble with in the meme is the hate side. It’s not that I don’t dislike stuff; it’s that if I dislike it, I tend to ignore it and subsequently forget who or what it was.
1. Most hated food: Brussels sprouts; Sir Frog had a vivid description.
2. Most hated person: Well, I forgave G W Bush, so I’ll say Dick Cheney.
3. Most hated job: Working at Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield as a customer service rep. We were given all the tools to fail. I note that of the 16 people in my training class, at least 12 had left the company before I did 13 months later.
4. Most hated city: that would be Charlotte, NC circa 1977; my father described it as a big country town. But I don’t hate it now, and can think of no substitutes.
5. Most hated band: can’t think of one.
6. Most hated web site: ditto. What I do hate are websites that are perfectly functional; then they do a redesign so I can’t find anything.
7. Most hated TV program: is that show with the Sweet 16 excesses still on? Hated it, just hated it.
8. Most hated British politician: Tony Blair, maybe because I actually had high hopes for him before he became a W toady.
9. Most hated artist: don’t know.
10. Most hated book: Don’t know. That said, the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament is often troubling. Oh, and related, I JUST discovered Mr. Frog’s The Bible Summarized By A Smartass from a couple years ago. Example from Genesis 22: “Abraham walks up the mountain and knifes his kid. Except that God jumps out of the bushes at the last second, probably laughing and pointing. ‘Oh, dude, you were totally going to do it! You were! You should see your face, man! You’ve just been Punk’d!’”
11. Most hated shop: Wal-Mart. Beyond the politics of the place, I had a really lousy experience there when I first shopped there in 1994, and haven’t been back since except with someone else.
12. Most hated organization: Ku Klux Klan, which is still out there, trust me.
13. Most hated historical event: Dred Scott decision, US Supreme Court, 1857.
14. Most hated sport: NASCAR, I suppose. I tried watching it, and unless there’s, Allah forbid, an accident, it’s pretty boring.
15. Most hated piece of technology: The cell phone. The expectation that one can be accessed 24/7. The fact that people drive poorly when talking on them, even the hands-free ones. The fact that I hear too much of other people’s lives when they use them.
16. Most hated annual event: Cinco de Mayo. Pointless drinking.
17. Most hated daily task: Flossing. I swear the gaps in my teeth on the right side of my mouth are far smaller than on the left side, and it’s a PITA.
18. Most hated comedian: never got the Three Stooges.
And now the love.
1. Most loved food: spinach lasagna.
2. Most loved person: The wife or the daughter.
3. Most loved job: working at FantaCo from 1981-1986; but I was there from 1980-1988. So overall, I’ll say being a librarian at the NYS Small Business Development Center.
4. Most loved city: Montreal. U.S. city: San Francisco.
5. Most loved band: The Beatles.
6. Most loved web site: I don’t know; maybe Evanier’s.
7. Most loved TV program: Current: Scrubs. Ever? The Dick van Dyke Show. HOF: JEOPARDY! Oh, and my wife is watching 30 Rock faster than I am. BTW, I just came across a piece on how 30 Rock is a rip off of the Muppet Show
8. Most loved movie: Annie Hall. It’s been a linchpin.
9. Most loved artist: Auguste Rodin. First time I actually saw a Rodin sculpture in person, rather than in photos – probably in Boston – it was heaven.
10. Most loved book: Top Pop Albums by Joel Whitburn. Oh, something with a narrative? Henri J. M. Nouwen’s Here and Now: Living in the Spirit.
11. Most loved shop: Before I worked there, FantaCo.
12. Most loved organization: American Red Cross.
13. Most loved historical event: the resignation of Richard Nixon.
14. Most loved sport: baseball.
15. Most loved piece of technology: DVR
16. Most loved annual event: my birthday. I take it off from work.
17. Most loved daily task: racquetball.
18. Most loved comedian: Bill Cosby in the 1960s. Have five of his albums that I haven’t played in years, but there are whole bits I can still hear and recite from memory.
I’ve been thinking about the notion of friends a lot recently.
There are people who I’ve been friends with for over 50 years, longer than some of you have been alive. I’ve known them since kindergarten. But what happens when one of them has…changed dramatically? Are you still friends, just because he attended your ninth birthday party? Especially if you haven’t been in touch much in for the better part of 30 of those years.
I have a friend, whose birthday was last month, turning 56 (thus just a bit older than I). We’ve been friends with since the first day of college, September 12, 1971 (but who’s counting?) But the vast majority of people from college I have no real interest in seeing; it’s not antipathy, more meh.
I’ve been in Albany 30 years and I’ve made some good friends. On the other hand, there are people one sees at church and work that I can say that I hardly know at all, though I see them often.
Fred Hembeck is an example of a good friend who I lost touch with but got back in contact with via the Internet. (When IS that show in April, Fred?) He has written a moving piece about the loss of his good friend Charlie; I didn’t know Charlie, but the tale has such universality that I think you ought to read it here (March 9, 2009).
I’ve discovered that one can develop a friendship through regular participation in something. For a time it was hearts. For some time, it’s been racquetball.
Somehow, I’ve managed to develop friendships with a couple of my exes.
Then there are those people you haven’t even met, but through their blogs and other communications, you get to know rather well. Greg Burgas, an interesting fellow out of Arizona via Oregon and Pennsylvania, was musing on that aspect too – and mentioned me specifically as a friend. And I feel similarly inclined. I know about his wife, his daughters, the accident one of them had, where he’s lived, how he missed a friend’s wedding, his taste in music. I feel an obligation – well, maybe too strong a word – but a desire to please him if it’s reasonable. Recently he said he wished I wrote more on race, and directly as a result of that, I wrote this post.
Thee was this bilious audio of Richard Nixon talking about All in the Family and homosexuality that I found on Evanier’s page that I knew three people might appreciate; two of them I have never met. So this line of “friend” gets murky.
Here’s something that makes it murkier: Facebook. Just in the past week, I have suddenly discovered that I’m now “friends” with a whole new batch of people. Some of them I’m thinking: weren’t we friends before? Interestingly, I noticed that one of them, who I’ve known for years, wrote “in a relationship – it’s complicated”; I queried about this but received a cryptic “noyb” reply.
Back in 1974, I saw Billy Joel in New Paltz. The opening act was a guy named Buzzy Linhart, who was primarily a songwriter. He told us ad nauseum all the people he had written songs for, including this one by Bette Midler:
It’s no great secret that my good friend Fred Hembeck was instrumental in getting me to start blogging. I had contributed a couple things to him that he used in his blog, and that inspired me to do my own.
In recent months, though, Fred’s blogging output had begun to slacken appreciably. Part of that was due to the work involved in preparing for his still-available book, but also, he’d seemed to have just lost a little of his blogging mojo.
Fred discovered a revolutionary new technology that has re-energized his blog in the last month and a half. It’s called:
As Fred himself said, “Okay, I’ll admit it–regarding YouTube, I’m way, WAAAAY behind the curve. But only because I knew what would happen if I allowed myself to do more than peak into the occasional video embedded over on another blog.
I knew I’d become obsessed.”
And obsessed he has become. But an obsessed Fred Hembeck is a Fred Hembeck who’s exciting to read. If you haven’t been been by Fred Sez, or haven’t been there lately, check it out.
WARNING: You may spend more time there watching his YouTube links than you planned.
Oh, and happy birthday, effendi – you’re older than I am for five weeks!
I have loved television for decades. I’m unapologetic about it. I don’t watch “only PBS and the History Channel” either. I like commercial, sometimes trashy TV. I can still tell you the nights certain programs were on forty years ago. I have books about the Dick van Dyke Show, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Colombo, Taxi, and JEOPARDY!, plus several general texts.
But a couple things have happened in the last couple years that seems to have lessened the allure of the tube. One was the writers’ strike. Ironically, I supported the writers on their position regarding the strike. But my TV mojo just got lost, just as it did for baseball after the 1994 strike, when it took about three years to get it back.
The other event took place in early December. I had recorded a number of television shows on my DVR that I had not had a chance to see. I was two weeks behind on the dramas (all on ABC). The comedies (all on NBC) were even further back; I had seen no 30 Rock, and the The Office and Earl were likewise five or six weeks behind, at least. The were a couple news programs, about three weeks of JEOPARDY! plus shows for Lydia to watch. The power in our house went out only for an hour on a Saturday night during an ice storm. But when the power surged back, it fried the DVR.
What I discovered is that I could watch the dramas on abc.com, and over a week or two, I caught up. Thank goodness for the Advent season, when those shows are either preempted or repeated. But going to find all of those comedies, presumably on hulu.com felt like…work. So, it’s likely I’ll just catch a couple December reruns and move forward with the new programs, though I have caught some Office webisodes.
My friend Fred and I once had this conversation about TV shows. Generally speaking, he doesn’t give up on a show. Once he starts it, he generally finishes the run, with rare exceptions. I am a bit more willing to cut my losses; American Idol and 24 are just two shows I watched then decided that wasn’t enjoying them enough, but I am sympathetic to his POV, and don’t abandon easily.
Still, I imagine that once the shows I’m watching now go off the air, I may not necessarily pick up new ones. (Yes, I said that last year, and I picked up Life on Mars, but at least that was a one-to-one replacement for Men in Trees.)
One of my shows, Boston Legal, is already gone. (BTW, what’s with those folks writing to TV Guide complaining how liberal the show is? One was shocked, SHOCKED that they made fun of Sarah Palin. Why didn’t they just CHANGE THE CHANNEL? Or wait a week or two, when the show was kaput?)
Two more shows, Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money will soon be swimming with the fishes. This will leave Brothers and Sisters, Grey’s Anatomy (stop with the dead lover sex, FCOL!) and the aforementioned Life on Mars, plus the last season of Scrubs on ABC – starts tonight!, and the Thursday comedies on NBC. Once they go off the air, I may be down to news programs, JEOPARDY!, and in season, some sports events.
That is, unless Lauren Graham gets another series. Oh, and can somebody tell me when GSN starts rerunning the JEOPARDY! episodes from November 2008?
This is not to say I don’t enjoy what I am viewing. I recommend that you watch at least the beginning of last week’s Bill Moyers Journal, where he celebrates “The Onion”; my favorite headline, “Housing Crisis Vindicates Guy Who Still Lives With Parents”. He also notes that today’s economic and militaristic crises were foretold in the 1933 Marx Brothers classic, “Duck Soup”:
MRS. TEASDALE: Gentleman, I’ve already loaned Freedonia more than half the fortune my husband left me. I consider that money lost and now you’re asking for another 20 million dollars.
Also on the show: John Lithgow on poetry and Arthur Miller.
So, I’ll be curious just what, if anything, will pique my interest in five years. I took Mad Men season 1 from the library last week, but it has only a two-day window, and I ended up seeing none of it. I can imagine to decide to catch this season of The Office or 30 Rock on DVD, perhaps skipping over the episodes I happen to catch on air. What is clear, though, is with online access, DVD and the DVR, TV viewing has most certainly changed for me.
One more thing. The loss of the DVR meant I was watching my little portable b&w TV more often (I could have rewired the cable to the TV directly, but that would have been, you know, work to do and then undo. So I’ve opted order one of those coupons so I can get a discount on buying one of those over-the-air converters, just at a point when the digital TV subsidy program is running out of money. I ordered my coupon a couple weeks ago online, but apparently, they are to arrive via passenger pigeon.
Postal Service lifts curtain on 2009 stamps, which will feature early, black-and-white TV shows: “Lucy and Ethel lose their struggle with a chocolate assembly line. Joe Friday demands “just the facts” with a penetrating gaze. A secret word brings Groucho a visit from a duck.”
“Folks who grew up as television came of age will delight in a 20-stamp set included in the Postal Service’s plans for 2009 recalling early memories of the medium.” This I will buy.
“Most of the commemorative stamps are priced at 42 cents, the current first-class rate. However, a rate increase is scheduled in May and the size will depend on the consumer price index.”
“The Early TV Memories stamp set is scheduled for release Aug. 11 in Los Angeles.”
As pop culture goes, my participation in same was pretty dismal. But I’m going to plod on and describe the highlights.
Last month, the Comic Reporter asked its readers to “Name Five Memorable Comics-Related Things About 2008 (A Book You Read, An Experience You Had, An Event That Made You Take Notice — Anything That Would Help You In The Future Recall This Year.” I failed to participate there, but I will here.
1a. Fred Hembeck’s book came out, and I’m mentioned in the thank yous; I like seeing my name in print, what can I say? This also meant that I actually went to more comic-related shows (three) than I have in a while. At two of them, I saw Fred.
1b. At one of those shows, someone actually asked ME to sign some FantaCo Chronicles I worked on 25 years ago. What an ego boost!
1c. I also saw my friend Rocco Nigro, and re-met the inestimable Alan David Doane, who was probably an annoying teenager last I had seen him, rather than the charmer he is now.
2. Someone put out a Wikipedia page for FantaCo, a place I worked for 8.5 years, this summer. Frankly, the page was awful, riddled with errors and omissions. Fortunately, the guy contacted me, and it became the mission of mine and of my old buddy Steve Bissette to rectify the record; the thing is not perfect, but it’s a WHOLE lot better. The incident also gave me a chance to get in contact with former FantaCo owner Tom Skulan for the first time in nearly a decade.
3. Reading Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier. It explained a lot about Jack’s motivation the times I dealt with him on the phone in the early 1980s.
5. Freddie and Me by Mike Dawson, which, among other things, made me want to listen to more of the music of the group Queen.
I got maybe a dozen 2008 albums all year, by Lindsay Buckingham, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, REM, She and Him, Brian Wilson, Lizz Wright, a couple others plus the MOJO take on the Beatles’ white album. I liked them all at some level, but the even snarlkier than usual Newman album “stuck” the most. More old fogey music I received for Christmas and haven’t heard enough to judge: Paul McCartney, James Taylor and Johhny Cash. The latter is a 40th anniversary double CD/DVD box set of his Folsom Prison concerts; just on a quick listen, I’m happy to hear the Carl Perkins and Statler Brothers tunes for the first time.
A paltry number of 2008 pics so far: Iron Man (my favorite), Young@Heart, Man on Wire, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, and Synecdoche, New York. Three of them, IM, MoW and VCB made the Top 10 list at the WSJ along with WALL-E, Slumdog Millionaire and a bunch of other films I will try to see.
Yes, I did see some 2007 films in 2008 and I will undoubtedly see some 2008 films in 2009. Still, five is worse than the seven I saw last year, and catching up on video just doesn’t seem to happen, not that it’s entirely comparable anyway.
Oh, heck, TV deserves its own posting. Thanks to technology, it’s about the only thing I have even a modicum of a chance to (barely) keep up with.