January Rambling

Busy month coming. Black History Month at church, and I’m doing two adult ed sessions. One will be helping to hone my presentation at the Underground Railroad Conference in Troy, NY at the end of the month.
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The one weekend I won’t be doing BHM stuff, I’ll probably be here.
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Finally gave blood on January 18. I was scheduled to donate two or three times before that, but just didn’t feel up to it. The four months between donations is the longest I’ve gone since I had to pass for a year when I got rabies shots. The weird thing is that twice in a row, I got reminder cards about my donation six to eight days AFTER I was scheduled to donate; unhelpful AND a waste of money.
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I was in the home office. There was this thin book that was falling off the shelf. Turned out to be The Connoisseur’s Guide to the Contemporary Horror Film by the late Chas Balun, an item I hadn’t thought about in years. When I was working at this comic book store called FantaCo, we sold many, many copies of the item. I went over to Steve Bissette’s site to let him know about this, and wouldn’t you know, but that he had just written about Chas and that very booklet! How odd.
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ABC-TV is plugging this new show called The Deep End, about some young lawyers. The voiceover says, “From the network that brought you Grey’s Anatomy”, as though network affiliation is a reason to watch the show. Yet it DOES remind me of Grey’s in that there’s a guy under water; Meredith Grey practically drown a couple seasons ago. I shan’t be watching; hey I got 85% of my DVR capacity used up.

This reminds me of a poster SamuraiFrog wrote about, the text of which was “from the studio that brought you THE PROPOSAL.” as though anyone would go to a film for that reason. Goofy.
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This incredible machine was “built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa. Amazingly, 97% of the machines components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft, Iowa.
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A resource guide re Haiti.
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Anyone know the shelf life for amoxicillin capsules? Wayne John wanted to know.
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Another SF-found piece, on gay marriage, a satire.
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Thom Wade reminds me why I’m not a Mormon
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The Brand Identity Guru says The Bachelor and Bachelorette Brands Can’t Be More Racist. I don’t watch, but I’d be interested in the thoughts of those who do.
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Was Jack Benny in the movie Casablanca? Mark Evanier doesn’t think so, but he’s not sure.
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What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2010 under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1953.
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Hard to find music and movies.
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Salon finally figured out the joy of the Kennedy Center Honors. See also Kennedy Center Honorees at the White House.
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Scholar Ladies a video response to Single Ladies by Beyonce.
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Finally, the wife is trying to keep the daughter away from aspartame, the stuff in Equal and the other little blue packets, at least in the US, at least it is most of the time. And the stuff shows up in the darnedest places, such as packaged fruit cups one sends the daughter to school with.
But I’ve discovered that the DelMonte fruit cups, e.g., uses sucralose, the substance in Splenda and the other items in the yellow packet. Anyone aware of health issues for children with sucralose?

ROG

The Award-Winning…

Jaquandor was kind enough to bestow upon me a “Kreative Blogger” award of some sort.

I feel a certain obligation to pass these kinds of things along, based on the theory that, back in the olden days when I started blogging, some 4.7 years ago, it made the blogisphere – dare I say it? – FUN. Blogging should be fun, even if one’s venting one’s spleen to do so.

You’re supposed to reveal seven things about yourself. Of course, the problem with that I’m almost out of stuff to “reveal” that 1) I didn’t reveal before, 2) require more than a line or two, or 3) I’m not planning to reveal at this point, or quite possibly, ever. No guarantees that the list below might not have bumped into the first category:

1. I receive an irrational amount of pleasure when I delete one piece of spam in Gmail and it says I’ll be deleting “the one conversation”, or “both conversations” when I delete two, as opposed to those programs that will delete “all 1 conversations”, or some such.

2. I once got a B in art in 7th grade. My parents were at a loss as to how I did so well. This explains almost everything you need to know about me and doing art.

3. I once almost flew with someone who was traveling on someone else’s ticket. He got detained by airport security and the police for about seven hours until he showed his security clearance. This, BTW, was before 9/11.

4. I have no tattoos. I’m not opposed at this point, but 1) it would keep me from donating blood for a while and 2) my wife would hate it. Then there’s the pain and permanence thing, but those are secondary.

5. At least twice, I took jobs because of affairs of the heart. Neither was worth it; the jobs weren’t, that is, but the affairs of the heart were.

6. I tape sporting events then watch them later, going through lots of machinations (no news watching/reading or e-mail/Facebook/Twitter). Sometimes it works (Jets/Bengals, Eagles/Cowboys Saturday games I watched on Sunday; Packers/Cardinals Sunday game I finished Tuesday morning); sometimes not (the Patriots loss on the front cover of Monday’s Wall Street Journal).

7. I’m allergic to penicillin and Naprocyn, have been for years, yet I’m too lazy to get one of those tags. But we have one for my daughter with her peanut allergy.

Then I’m supposed to pass the award along. That’s a bit tougher. I’d have considered Jaquandor’s Byzantium Shores. I’d also have picked SamuraiFrog’s Electronic Cerebrectomy, except he gave the award to Jaquandor and that’s a bit too circular for me. Then there are the bums gentlemen who stopped blogging in the last year, who I used to follow.

Still, there’s:

1. Arthur @AmeriNZ – your usual, everyday blog of a gay man from Illinois who moved to New Zealand for love. OK, there’s a LOT more to it: talk about politics, comparative US/NZ culture and whatever enters his fertile mind. He also has a couple podcasts, one on politics, the other, more general.

2. Coverville – the blog is primarily a support mechanism for Brian Ibbott’s great podcast “featuring unusual covers of pop, rock and country songs by new and established performers.” But in the last year or so, he’s added a song rating system to the site. Also, he and his listeners have found some nifty videos of covers that he’s posted.

3. Progressive Ruin: Unfortunately, I gotta give props to Mike Sterling, even though he’s a cheater pants, not just for his persistence – I think he posted 364 days last year – but for some of his regular features, such as his deconstruction of the absurd items Diamond comics catalog, and especially Sluggo Saturdays. Still his obsession with the comic creature Swamp Thing is…disturbing.

4. And speaking of Swamp Thing, its best renderer, IMHO, my buddy Steve Bissette posts his Myrant, a mix of digital comics, comics & film history, political tirades and more.

5. Scott’s Scooter Chronicles is about music, books, beer, and hockey. Truth is that I’m not a big fan of the latter two, but he even makes those interesting. It’s also about his two young sons and being unemployed in America. SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN A JOB!

6. Anthony Velez’s The Dark Glass is a series of theological musings. Sometimes I don’t understand, but he always explains it, or tries to.

7. Gordon at Blog This, Pal! is mostly a pop culture (comics/TV/movies) blog. He knows more about Doctor Who and Kids in the Hall than anyone has a right to. I happen to particularly enjoy those too-rare glimpses of his personal side (his mom, St. Louis vs. Chicago). He also has a podcast that he’s rethinking. He knows I’d always vote for keeping the music, but really, he should do what brings him joy.

ROG

LOST Question

This has nothing to do with the ABC-TV show of the same name.

The scripture in the lectionary was that reading in Luke where Jesus is 12 and he gets lost. OK, he doesn’t think he’s lost. Mary and Joseph think he’s visiting other relatives, and travel a day before realizing he’s not with the other travelers. Frantic, they return to Jerusalem and look all over for three days before finally finding him in the temple. Jesus says, “Yeesh, mom and dad, you should have KNOWN where I’d be.” I always thought he was a little impudent. On the other hand, if they were in fact visited by angels before Jesus was born, maybe he had a point.

So my questions:

1. Have you ever been lost as a child?

I was at Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton, NY when I was four or five, maybe six. There were these huge culverts though the park and I wanted to know where they went. I got to the end, or at least as far as I wanted to go, and I came back. *I* didn’t think I was lost; I knew exactly how to get back. But my parents thought I was lost. I vaguely recall their combination of relief and anger.

2. Have you ever lost a child?

Well, no, but I have thought from time to time that I had. Lydia has this annoying habit of hiding, and she’s pretty good at it, too. So there have been a few times I Thought she was MIA, but fortunately, she was not.
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And speaking of lost, we lost Chas. Balun, horror film expert, a funny, irreverent, and generally nice bear of a man, to cancer at the age of 61. I started dealing with Chas. in my FantaCo days in the early 1980s when Tom Skulan came across one of his publications and we started it sell it. Later we were putting out the magazine he edited, Deep Red, and eventually we published books he authored, such as Horror Holocaust (1986) and The Gore Score (1987). My dealing with him as the person in charge of the mail order, I’d talk to him about the prosaic issue of how the items were selling. We always seemed to find some amicable banter, primarily about music.

Steve Bissette wrote a nice piece about Chas.


ROG

The Now Vs. Then Meme

One of those Sunday Stealing memes that would have been far more onerous had I compared now with 20 years ago, rather than 10

Then: August 1999

1. Age: 46

2. Romantic Status: newly married 3 months

3. Occupation: librarian, working downtown

4. Fun night out: usually go out to eat

5. My BFFs: Karen, Mark, Norman

6. I spent way too much time: watching sports on TV

7. I spent not enough time: reading books

8. I wanted to be when I grew up: a minister or a lawyer

9. Biggest concern: money

10. What my biggest concern should have been: time

11. Where did I live: in the house that Carol purchased in 1992

12. Dumbest thing I did that year: pretend that I was really cool with Carol going off to Scotland with her friend Jeanne a couple months after we were married. I missed her terribly AND I was still getting used to the house. She still might have gone, but my nonchalance gave her false info.

13. If I could go back now and talk to myself I would say: you’ll do OK.

Now: August 2009

1. Age: 56

2. Romantic Status: married

3. Occupation: librarian, working in soulless Corporate Woods

4. Fun night out: say what?

5. My BFFs: Karen, Mark, Norman

6. I spend way too much time: on the computer

7. I spend not enough time: reading books

8. I want to be when I grow up: I don’t want to grow up

9. Biggest concern: time for myself

10. What my biggest concern should be: how easily I sunburn now and taking more precautions re: that.

11. Where do I live: in a house Carol and I bought in 2000

12. Dumbest thing I have done this year: knocking down a small beehive in Lydia’s playhouse. Even though she was about 20 feet away, she ended up getting stung in the back of the neck by the bee/wasp/hornet. Then I got to listen to her ask, repeatedly, why it attacked her rather than me; the answer, of course, is that it would hurt me more if it stung her.

13. What I think I would say to myself in 10 years: you made it, more or less.

Summary:

1. What do I miss most from 1999: time

2. What do I miss least from 1999: uncertainty

3. What have I accomplished in 10 years that I am most proud of: staying married

4. What have I NOT accomplished in 10 years that I wish I had: that damn world peace; SO elusive.
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One of the truly awful world events in my lifetime was the plane bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. Over a dozen of the victims had ties with the Albany, NY area where I live. But as Demeur lays out, the one convicted participant might very well have got out on appeal. The release of Megrahi by Scotland may have been more pragmatic than compassionate.
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From Steve Bissette:
If you are or ever have been a fan of the work of writer Steve Perry of Time Spirits, Thundercats and Silverhawks – not to be confused with either the prolific and popular sf writer or the rock star — and you can afford to help a man on his last legs, please, do so.

Despite the best efforts of myself and others, Steve is in dire straits at this very moment, suffering terminal cancer and lack of any support, and sorely in need of any help that can be sent his way.
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Two journalists died this past week. Don Hewitt ran the Kennedy-Nixon debate, dubbed Walter Cronkite and created 60 Minutes. He wussed out over a tobacco story, but no one’s perfect.

My mom said if you have nothing good to say about someone, say nothing. Robert Novak: NOTHING.
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Go here August 28 at 9:00AM ET and every Friday through September for a chance to get a Free Real Chocolate coupon for your favorite Mars product.


ROG

Autumn of 1988

After eight and a half years, I left my job at FantaCo in mid-November 1988. Leafing through some old journals, I was surprised – actually shocked – to see that I had actually planned to leave a full year earlier. I made a point making sure that people were trained to take on the the tasks I did, with the mail order especially, before I left so that owner Tom Skulan wouldn’t be left in a lurch.

It was odd. I was making more money at the end than i had ever made up to that time, plus paid health insurance, something Tom was providing only to himself and me, though others could get coverage on their own dime; I don’t recall anyone taking advantage of that offer, since they were all pretty young and weren’t making that much.

The problem is that I was making money from all the horror stuff we were selling, and more importantly producing. My old buddy Steve Bissette is currently delineating the Gore Shriek history (and selling some artwork of the period. In some way, it was almost passing the torch to Steve. I was involved in the Chronicles and the like, while Steve was present for the very first Gore Shriek in June of 1988. It was the comic books, not the horror stuff, that drew me to FantaCo, but I balanced the checkbook, and it was the horror stuff that kept FantaCo going month after month.

So I quit. I wasn’t angry, just burned out. Tom felt angry and betrayed, I suspected, and this was confirmed by a couple people. I felt badly that he felt that way but I couldn’t see any real options.

As it turned out, on Thanksgiving Day, I got a call from a guy I knew telling me that our mutual good friend Nancy Sharlet was dying of cancer. I met her when we both worked together at the Schenectady Arts Council in 1978. I started on March 1. March 7 was my birthday; not knowing me well, but wanting to acknowledge the day, she got me this little S.W.A.T. truck, which I have to this day.

The GREAT thing about being unemployed was that I could spend lots of time in the hospital with her, nearly every day for about a month, before her mother came up from Tennessee to tend to her in her last days. She died on January 1, 1989.

After the funeral, I never saw her kids Jocelyn and Jeffrey again. I assume they went to live with their father, Robert, who I did not know well.

I was watching Jon Stewart a couple weeks ago. His guest was a guy named Jeff Sharlet, who is the author of The Family: Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Could this be the Jeffrey Sharlet, the six-year-old I played SORRY with when he was six? I found this 2004 interview, and the answer is clearly yes.

“I grew up in what seemed like a mostly Catholic town in upstate New York.” Check. “My father is Jewish.” Check. “My mother, with whom I lived, had been raised in a very unusual Pentecostal home.” Jeffrey and his sister Jocelyn lived with their mother; her religion was a bit unclear. “Her mother, a very poor Tennessean”. Check. “She [his grandmother] raised my mother to be interested in everything.” Double check. “Going to other people’s churches and temples, gathering stories — in my family, that was just how you did religion.” Check, and the reason I was unclear of Nancy’s religion.”

I wrote to Jeff; he didn’t write back; that’s OK. I do wonder how his sister is, though.
ROG