Poor Lynn Moss

When I worked at FantaCo back in the 1980s, I would see Lynn Moss occasionally. She was very patient with this guy she was married to. I really appreciated how she tolerated the comic fandom/geekdom she found herself was surrounded with. Also, her husband can be PRETTY obsessive, and he would (probably) agree with the assessment.

And, since her husband’s website has now become the mecca for all things comic book (and Beatles and “24” and their daughter Julie), it can only be worse now. Of course, in this case, she has only herself to blame, since she is the webmistress of said website. Though she has taught him some stuff, like how to do the daily postings, she’s still there to troubleshoot.

I tried to call her husband a couple of weeks ago when his webserver was (as it turned out) temporarily down, but he was out taking Julie horseback riding. So Lynn and I got to talk for the first time in at least 17 years, I believe. It was great. We talked about humor (something for a future blog, I think), FantaCo, blogging (she had read my then most recent post), and her technologically impaired spouse.

Connection

I’ve subsequently discovered that Lynn and I have a mutual acquaintance who was living on State Street in Albany at the same time Lynn and her hubby were first visiting FantaCo, a mere two blocks away, but never ran into each other. This is a fact that I gleaned because she saw mention of an old high school chum of hers in one of my blog posts, which pleased me greatly.

So happy 26th anniversary, Lynn Moss and Fred Hembeck. Maybe Carol, Lydia, and I will actually SEE youse guys and Julie one of these days. If you haven’t already, read the LOVELY story about the photographer at their wedding here, and see some of those pictures here (June 23).

The sport of the gods

I’ve mentioned only briefly that I try to play racquetball every weekday. (That HAS been tweaked somewhat by the arrival of the child, but it’s still the goal.)

What I’ve discovered is that racquetball, in some ways, is very much like baseball. BASEBALL? Yes.

  • You have to keep your eye on the ball
  • You must go where the ball is going to be, not where it is
  • Often, you have to back up to get the best defensive angle on the ball
  • Sometimes you hit it well and you’re unsuccessful, while other times you hit it poorly and luck out
  • You have to change your pace
  • It’s often a “matter of inches”
  • You can be down 14-1 and still come back and win

    I’ve played with a lot of guys, and a few women, over the years, but my main three competitors all have a FantaCo connection. Don Labriola was a FantaCo customer, as was Norm Nissen, best man in my wedding to Carol. Don had to stop playing (his knees, I think), but Norman & I are still at it nearly 20 years later.

    Tom Yanni has a more indirect FantaCo connection. He was going out with a woman named Debbie who had a roommate who was friends with FantaCo’s Mitch Cohn. Tom and I played for about 15 years until he got married and moved to Rhode Island. He has a teenaged daughter and a new son, Sam, just a couple weeks older than Lydia.

    You really get to know people quite well when you play racquetball: how often they call a “hinder” on the shot, how often they hit someone with a shot (someone’s almost always going to be hit by the shot, or more rarely, the racquet), how often they argue a call agreed to by the majority, how angry they get with themselves when they muff shots.
    You’ll see a side of people others don’t often see. One guy who we used to play cursed quite often; he was a minister who has since moved to Maryland. (But another minister we used to play, who has since moved to Pennsylvania, was the same on and off the court.)

    I used to play almost exclusively singles (2 of us) or cutthroat (3 of us), but I’ve played more partners in the last year or two than ever before, mostly due to circumstance. (The singles people used to come earlier and the doubles people later, but now we all show up at about the same time.)

    I know one guy who has a bad knee but plays when he can. His wife hid his racquet, but he found it, took it to play, then carefully replaced the racquet to its original place. Another guy had a stress test and was told by his doctor not to play until the test was over. Well, the day after the test, but before the results were in, he was back at it. The game has a devotion practically religious in nature. It was Norm who characterized racquetball as the “sport of the gods”, and he may be right.

    So thanks, Norm, Mike, Alan, Danny, Stanley, and Sherman. Hope Charlie gets better. Hope the elusive Ted shows up sometime.

  • Play ball!

    Today is the beginning of baseball season.

    WHAT? you proclaim. The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and the other teams have been playing for nearly two months. Indeed they have, but I wasn’t talking about Major League Baseball. I was talking about Minor League Baseball, specifically the Class A New York-Penn (NY-P) League.

    When I was growing up in Binghamton, my father or grandfather (but seldom both) would take me to see the Triplets. They were team in the Eastern League from 1923 to 1963 and again in 1967 and 1968. They were called the Triplets because they represented the Triple Cities in New York State’s Southern Tier: Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott (the fact that only Binghamton was a city and the other two were villages is not germane to the discussion). The out-of-town papers referred to the team as Binghamton. They were an affiliate of the New York Yankees from 1932 to 1961, so I was a fan of the Bronx Bombers as a kid.
    I saw Al Downing pitch there. He eventually became a Yankee starter. (He was best known, though, for being the Dodgers pitcher when Atlanta Braves’ star Hank Aaron hit home run #715 in 1973, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.)
    The Triplets were a Kansas City Athletics affiliate in 1962 and 1963. The team spent three years (1964-66) in the lower level NY-P League, linked with the Milwaukee Braves the first year, and the Yankees subsequently before their brief return to the Eastern League, still affiliated with the Yanks. Then nothing, as Johnson Field was torn down after the 1968 season so that a newer Route 17 could be built west of Binghamton.

    That Yankee Class A NY-P team that was in Binghamton in 1965 & 1966 ended up in Oneonta for over 30 years before moving again. Oneonta is now a Tiger affiliate in the NY-P.

    Albany has had trouble fielding a team. For a time, they had an Eastern League team in Heritage Park in Colonie (near Albany) that was affiliated with the Oakland A’s (1983-84), then the New York Yankees (1985-94.) I saw Bernie Williams play there. But those arrangements eventually collapsed.
    Then there were the Diamond Dogs (alas, no David Bowie) in an independent league not affiliated with major league baseball. I went to a few of those games and they were quite a bit of fun, though not always the highest caliber of play.
    Now, the Capital District has a new team, the Tri-Cities Valley Cats (the Tri-Cities in this case being Albany, Schenectady and Troy — all CITIES) in the NY-P League.
    The out-of-town papers referred to the team as Troy. Today’s opener is against the Oneonta Tigers at the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, nicknamed “The Joe”. (The running joke at the time: “It’s a good thing his name wasn’t John.”) Joe Bruno is the Majority Leader in the New York Senate.

    One of the cool games this season will be on July 30, when the same two teams meet in Cooperstown at Doubleday Field. The Oneonta team has, for many years, gotten a “home” game there, and I understand that it’s quite a thrill for the players. Since my father-in-law has had season tickets to the Oneonta Yankees -he saw Ricky Ledee play for them- and now the Oneonta Tigers, I’ve seen a couple games there myself.

    It’s a bit surprising that a market the size of Albany/Schenectady/Troy has a Class A team, especially since Binghamton, which is about the size of Troy and half the size of Albany, once again has a team in the Class AA Eastern League, with a higher caliber of player.
    Last year, for the first time, I went to the stadium in downtown Binghamton where the Binghamton Mets have played for a few years, after a nearly three-decade gap for baseball in Binghamton. The program had third baseman David Wright on the cover; he’d already been promoted to the New York Mets, but that’s baseball. It’s a lovely stadium, but I have to think that foul balls must hit the cars driving by on Henry Street.

    In any case, if you like baseball, but have gotten cynical over Major League Baseball because of the salaries, or whatever, check out Minor League Baseball.

    The twins

    “In the 1960’s, there were two groups on Capitol Records – one American, the other British – whose name began with the letters ‘B-E-A-.’ Each of these groups featured a bass playing songwriter born in June of 1942, and each group made records that have withstood the test of time to become classics of popular culture.”

    I started delivering the Press, the Binghamton evening and Sunday morning newspaper, back in the days when there were actually evening newspapers, in 1964 or early 1965. (The M-Sa morning paper was the Sun-Bulletin; the two papers subsequently merged into a seven-morning Press & Sun-Bulletin.)

    So, I had money of my own. Naturally, because I wanted to get all of the Beatles albums (I had some singles), I joined the Capitol Record club in 1965. My first album was Beatles VI, and I worked backward and forward from there, including this weird mostly talk album called The Beatles Story. I got Something New relatively early in the process. I distinctly remember getting Meet the Beatles in STEREO, which was a problem, because I only had a MONO player! There were directives about not playing a stereo record with a mono needle, lest you wreck the album. I didn’t play Meet the Beatles for weeks, then I did, and it SEEMED OK…

    I also got Daydream by the Lovin’ Spoonful, Herman’s Hermits’ Greatest Hits, the Hollyridge Strings performing Beatles tunes, some instrumentalist named Billy Strange, and, of course, BIG HITS FROM ENGLAND AND USA. One side had two songs each from BEATLES (England), BEACH BOYS (USA), and PETER & GORDON (England), the “kids” side; the Peter & Gordon cuts, not so incidentally, were by Lennon & McCartney. The other side contained 2 tunes by NAT KING COLE(USA) and CILLA BLACK (England), plus “Tears and Roses” by AL MARTINO (USA), the “adults” side. I probably still have it upstairs in the attic.

    Thus, my very first album I owned that featured the Beach Boys was on an album that also featured the Beatles. “I Get Around” was a great song that I had heard on the radio. But it was the other song, “Don’t Worry Baby”, a lovely ballad with exquisite harmonies that I don’t think I had been familiar with, which really intrigued me. I’d heard many of the beach/girls/cars songs on the radio, but this was something special.

    So when it became available, I bought the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. As Paul McCartney noted, “Pet Sounds was my inspiration for making Sgt. Pepper’s…the big influence. That was the big thing for me (in 1966). I just thought, ‘Oh, dear me. This is the album of all-time. What are we going to do?'” Eventually, Paul gave a copy of Pet Sounds to all of his children. At the end of 1966, a year-end poll in one of England’s music papers found The Beach Boys topping The Beatles as the #1 vocal group in the world.

    And, of course, the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, one of my next record club purchases, inspired the Beach Boys’ would-be legendary SMiLE, the album with a 37-year gestation period, finally released last year by the primary songwriter.

    So, here’s to Paul McCartney, whose 63rd birthday was two days ago, and Brian Wilson, whose 63rd natal day celebration is today. Twins separated only by 48 hours and 6000 miles.

    ***
    And speaking of vintage music, the 25th Annual Old Songs Festival is this weekend at the Altamont Fairgrounds near Albany. There was a stretch when I used to go every year, but that pattern has been altered. We PLAN to attend this year, and I hope to meet up with a friend (SKA) I haven’t seen in about three years.

    Of course, yesterday, for Father’s Day, we PLANNED to go out miniature golfing, but then Lydia fell asleep on her mother’s lap for two hours, then she was hungry, then she needed changing, etc., etc. Was it Bobby Burns who said something about plans and rodents and people?

    Let’s Get Physical

    I went to the doctor last week for my annual physical. The results: HEIGHT: 5’11 13/16″. Strange, I’ve GROWN 3/16″ in the past 32 years? WEIGHT: Too Much, but 5 pounds less than last year at this time.

    I really like my doctor. She really listens. She also rants about the same things I do, like pagers.

    One of the things on her checklist is to make sure I have a current Health Care Proxy, and I do, most recently updated in 2003. My wife has a copy, my geographically nearer sister has a copy and my doctor has a copy. If the Terry Schiavo case (a real lose-lose situation) showed anything, it is that people ought not to want their spouse, parents, siblings, and/or adult children fighting in court over who gets to decide end-of-life issues. Most of us don’t like to think of death, but barring Armageddon, it is inevitable. So I feel it is a kindness to have at least this issue under control.

    Yet there are some people, including people to whom I am related, who do not have a Health Care Proxy (the linked form is for NYS). Let this be yet ANOTHER subtle reminder.