Date afternoon

One of the things those relationship “experts” always say is that, in order to keep a relationship strong, you need to continue to “date” your spouse/s.o. It’s ESPECIALLY necessary when you have children.

So we decided on a date afternoon this past Sunday. We used to do it once a month, in the middle of the month (we got married on 15 May), but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. The trick about Sunday is that it was communion Sunday (which means a longer service) AND the wife was partially in charge of the after-service snacks. And because my wife’s a deacon, people had things to ask her. So while she was talking, I struck up a conversation with someone. It turns out she kept talking because I was talking, and I was talking because SHE was talking. By this point, our babysitter, who had previously had just been sitting around, had engaged in conversation.

So, it’s 12:45 pm by the time we get home. too late really to feed the child and get to the 1 pm movies. So instead we went out to a restaurant. It’s a Middle Eastern restaurant called Ma Moun. The food was good, but we were mildly worried that no one else came in the whole time we were there.

Then we went to Staples to buy a paper shredder. Tres romantique, n’est-ce pas? Except that it was just nice even doing something that mundane. the cool thing was that they were on sale 25%. The confusing thing was that the one we decided on was only marked down from $79.95 to $74.95; a larger machine would have cost the same. We took it to the counter for a price check and stated our confusion with that minimal discount; the clerk called the manager, who surveyed the situation and said, “How much do you want to pay for it?” Well, since you asked…The manager took $15 off, and the $59.95 was what we had in mind. Usually it’s the wife who picks up on these pricing discrepancies, but this time I sussed it out.

It was a nice date.
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Did that radio thing I was worried about yesterday; I haven’t heard it yet, but once the nausea went away, I guess it went OK. I’ll listen to it when it’s available.
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Yesterday afternoon about 5 pm, Joe Fludd, long-time FantaCo customer, e-mailed me with the sad news that Nic Morrison, another FantaCo regular who worked there for a time had died. I enjoyed seeing Nic around from time to time. As the obit noted, he “entered into eternal life on his 47th birthday, October 1, 2009, at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital, ten days after suffering a devastating stroke.” The wake was Sunday, the funeral yesterday; had I known sooner, I might have made one or the other. Quoting a mutual friend, “Nic was a gentle soul and a good person. 47 is too young.”
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Apparently, Blogger has a limit of 2000 labels, and I have reached that threshold. Thus, e.g., I cannot add Nic Morrison to the label. Sometime when I have absolutely nothing better to do, I will deal with relabeling fifty-three months of blogging.

October Ramblin’

I have no idea how or why, but someone I do not know wrote to me and asked: “Do you know why Amy Madigan was not cast as Allison French in the 2008 movie Appaloosa. She’s married to Ed Harris who co-wrote the screenplay, directed & starred in the movie?” I wrote back, “I have no idea except that Renee Zellweger is younger and more famous.”
I did also include a couple quotes:
September 13, 2006
Harris’ wife, actress Amy Madigan, informed the [SF] Chronicle that she won’t be appearing in the film because there’s no role for her in it.

October 16, 2007
Tavis Smiley: How is [Ed], by the way?
Amy Madigan: He’s wonderful. He’s directing a film right now in New Mexico called “Appaloosa” with – and he’s also acting in it – with Viggo Mortensen. He’s playing his part in that, and Renee Zellweger and Jeremy Irons, and they’re just riding horses, and they have guns, and it’s a very cool story, based on a Robert Parker novel, as a matter of fact.
Tavis: After 23 years of marriage…?
Amy: Twenty-four.
Tavis: Twenty-four years – you guys are used to being apart, I guess, for extensive time?
Amy: Yeah, but I still don’t like it. We’re just revisiting – we’re lucky because when we’re together we really have all that time, but it’s still difficult.
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I Am the Walrus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The song also contains the exclamation goo goo g’joob with “koo koo g’joob heard clearly in the second. Various hypotheses exist regarding the origin and meaning. One is that the phrase was derived from the similar “koo koo ka choo” in Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson, written in 1967. However, the film The Graduate, where “Mrs. Robinson” debuted, did not appear until December 1967, a month after “I Am the Walrus”, and The Graduate Original Soundtrack (which contained only fragments of the final version of “Mrs Robinson”) was not until January 1968.
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There’s a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It’s about eliminating the ‘drive-through’ Mastectomy where patients are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.
Lifetime Television has put this bill on their Web page with a petition drive to show support. Last year over half the House signed on. Sign the petition if you feel so moved; you need not give more than your name, state, and zip code.
Possibly not coincidentally, there was a story on ABC News last week about a father and daughter who both had breast cancer. I recall that Ed Brooke, former US Senator (R-MA) had breast cancer. Here are some stats. So while over 99% of people getting v=breast cancer are women, men can get it too.
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alan david doane has started a blog to promote his freelance copywriting services. I understand he works in both UPPER and lower case.
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An old friend, Elinor Brownstein im very excited that the musical she wrote is being produced: Oy Vay, the Musical
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Chicken soup for stressed-out pandas
The Wuhan Zoo in central China has been feeding its two pandas home-cooked chicken soup twice in a month to reduce stress and give them a nutritional boost, a zoo official said Friday.
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“A church squabble of ten years’ standing at Wallpack Center, NJ has developed a very singular phase. When the church was built, some ten years ago, the church people were divided on the subject of the site. Later, their choir became the center of the quarrel. A part of the congregation wanted the organist and singers of their choice, while others were opposed to them. The past few weeks the feeling has been getting more and more bitter. A few days ago there was to have been a special service, for which another organist was engaged, but on gathering at the church the congregation was amazed to find that someone had entered the building and, after daubing the organ inside and out with tar, had sprinkled on a bountiful supply of
feathers. The whole organ, cover, keyboard, stops, pedals, and all had received the double coat. This is certainly the most ridiculous display of petty vengeance on record”. From the News and Observer, Raleigh, NC, October 26, 1883. (Re-printed in The American Organist, October 2008, p. 52.)
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Condolences to my friend Mary whose brother Tim died at the age of 46 after spending the last 10 years of his life fighting a battle with adult onset myotonic dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy.

ROG

Chronicles of the Fantastic Four Chronicles


(This conversation will be limited to the Chronicles series. FantaCo had also put out Splatter Movies and Hembeck 6, among other items, in this period.)

The X-Men Chronicles was a hit for FantaCo Enterprises in 1981. We had printed 50,000 copies and had presold at least 35.000 to the distributors. And not only did it also sell as an individual item in the store and in the mail order, we were able to trade some for Marvel, DC and other companies’ product, particularly underground comics from Last Gasp, a company our comics distributor, Seagate, wasn’t dealing with.
So what do we do as a follow-up? We decided to do two books, the Daredevil Chronicles, which Mitch Cohn would edit, and the Fantastic Four Chronicles, which would be my baby. I’m not going to talk much more about the former, except that I thought it was terribly Frank Miller-heavy. One of the Mullaney brothers from Eclipse Comics, Jan or Dean, apparently agreed; he wrote to say he read the book and threw it in the trash. (The letter, I think, appeared in the Spider-Man Chronicles, or maybe the Avengers Chronicles.)

The stuff below in italics is directly from my journal:

September 2, 1981: I call John Byrne, who agreed to write an article and do a centerspread, in addition to the front cover. And I called Jack Kirby, who agreed to fill out a questionnaire about the FF. “What a coup!” I wrote.
October 16: George Perez agrees to do the back cover for the FF book.
October 22: Receive Byrne front cover, centerspread and article.
November 5: Call Jay Zilber re: Wein/Wolfman interview. Then called Jack Kirby re: Q&A – he said he couldn’t answer questions re: FF, Marvel, only re: new projects. I panicked and got upset and angry. By that point, we probably had sent out info on the book to the comic distributors, indicating its content.Mitch calmed me down & said “Why don’t you do interview on Kirby now with a caveat. He [Kirby] agreed to that & also said I could use the rather nasty stuff re: FF 236 & his lack of prior knowledge that it would be used. Typed up new questions.
November 18: Michael Hobson of Marvel called to OK licensing on the FF and DD books, and that the company had “no problem” with the non-licensed X-Men Chronicles.
November 23: Get Kirby response.
December 17: I was going to do some editing (e.g., Joe Fludd’s lengthy piece, Jay Zilber’s just-arrived article), but instead spent most of the day looking unsuccessfully for a letter from Mike Hobson of Marvel giving us permission for licensing, which Tom needs for another bank loan.
O.K., I lied. I AM going to talk a little about Splatter Movies. This was a book written by an author named John McCarty that was really Tom’s baby; Mitch, Raoul and I were all a bit disturbed by it, although I did end up up proofreading it. And it turned out to be the most profitable thing FantaCo published in my tenure there. But at $8.95, it was initially a slow road selling to our distributors, who, after all, were comic book folks. This created a cash flow problem, for which the loan was to address.

January 3, 1982: Type the FF checklist at home while I watch football (Cincinnati beat the Bills, the 49ers beat the Giants; I doubt I was happy about that.)
January 7: I assume we found the Hobson letter eventually because Tom was able to secure $25,000 note from the bank so we’ll be able to pay $8700 printing bill for Splatter Movies.
January: Get various articles and artwork, not including Perez back cover. At some point, I call John Byrne, who allows us to use the front cover as the back cover as well, for free. Byrne was not universally loved, but I always had very good dealings with him; the FFC was not the last time. After the covers go to the printer, Perez cover FINALLY shows up, and I end up replacing content from one of the inside covers. (I’m thinking it was a Joe Fludd piece, because it seemed ironic that such a Perez devotee would be bumped by Perez himself.)
January 26: Tom called accounts (Bud Plant, NMI, Pacific). We now have fewer than 100 out of 50,000 X-Men Chronicles, and anticipate print runs of 70,000 each for FF and DD (the latter, eventually set at 80,000).
March 1: Start shipping out FFC, DDC orders, which takes a week, between the wholesale and retail orders.
March 5: Tom had made up 100 copies each of FFC and DDC in white paper stock, rather than newsprint. Gave 25 each to Mitch and me, 2 each to Rocco and Raoul. Somewhere I still have some of these.
March 15: Returning artwork, paying contributors, sending out review copies.
March 22: For Spider-Man Chronicles, got a Fred Hembeck to interview Roger Stern.
March 26: Mitch called Jim Shooter, who told Mitch in no uncertain terms (“What the f*** were you guys thinking about?”) that they at Marvel were unhappy with the Chronicles series, that there can be no licensing in the future, and that we’d “better be careful” in the future…No [more] Chronicles would be disastrous because another loan was contingent on publishing them…Tom called a patent attorney.
Oddly, a couple months later, there WAS further conversation with Mike Hobson about licensing, but nothing ever came to fruition, and the Avengers and Spider-Man Chronicles came out license-free, with no hassle from Marvel. We DID have another legal tussle, however, but that’s for another day.

In retrospect – let’s hear it for retrospect – I should have either 1) called Marvel about the content of the Kirby interview or 2) pulled the Kirby interview. The former just didn’t cross my mind. The latter did, but I was resistant because it would have meant resoliciting the FFC to the distributors and a costly delay.

I wrote this today for two reasons. One: FantaCo’s birthday was August 28, 1978; the store survived 20 years. The other is that Jack Kirby’s birthday was August 28, 1917, which means he would have been 90 today; he passed on February 6, 1994. Here’s a picture of Jack from the 1982 San Diego comic con, taken by Alan Light.

The Force is Trying to Suck Me In

I ran into one of my FantaCo buddies, Joe Fludd, the other day. Joe did some art for the Chronicles series. Anyway, he asked, “Did you see Sith yet?” And I said, “No,” and that I really hadn’t planned to see it. But he seemed very enthusiastic. “It’s everything that you wanted in Episode 1.” Hmm. And, of course, it explains how Anakin becomes Darth Vader.

Let me look at the PROS and CONS:

PRO: I really loved the first three Star Wars movies, or Episodes 4-6, if you prefer.
CON: I was really bored by the fourth film, Episode 1, except for hating a particularly universally loathed character, which I will not name (JJB). So,
CON: I never saw the fifth film, Episode 2.
PRO: The sixth (and final, according to George Lucas) film, Episode 3, is playing at the local, independently-owned, recently reopened Madison Theater, right in my neighborhood. I wouldn’t have to go to the mall and/or to some big chain of theaters to see it.
The Madison has been around since 1929. In 1994, it was sold, renamed the Norma Jean Madison Theater, after Arthur Miller’s ex-wife (or was it Joe DiMaggio’s?) It was closed in 2001, then opened under new management, only to close again in 2003.
PRO: Carol would like to see it.
CON: We’d have to get a babysitter, which isn’t always easy. Indeed, we were invited to view the film with another couple this past Thursday, but care for the child became the deciding factor in not going.
CON: Episode 3 is rated PG-13, and I know why – one of those parental warning pieces appeared in the local paper. The second Raiders film, a scene from which I found a bit disturbing, practically created PG-13. The Hoffinator, who also saw it last week, said it was very good but “dark.”

The logical solution is to rent Episode 2 (I heard it was on broadcast TV recently, but broadcast TV is a TERRIBLE way to see most movies), THEN go to Episode 3. Based on the box office for the first DAY ($50 million), it’ll probably be around a while.

And now, this message from the Organic Trade Association, featuring ObiWan Cannoli, Cuke Skywalker, Princess Lettuce, C3 Peanuts, and Artoo Tofu. (Thanks, Anne.)