First kiss; still retired; Fan-Taco

Things get settled eventually

First KissSome Ask Roger Anything questions, all from people I met in the 1970s or 1980s IRL, as it turns out. All were asked on Facebook.

Kevin, who I’ve known since college, asks: How old were you when you had your first kiss?

This proved to be surprisingly difficult to answer. I thought my first kiss was when I was 13, at the home of my friends Danny and Bob, and I kissed Mary under the mistletoe. But Mary, who I’m still in touch with via FB, has no such recollection. Maybe it’s a false memory.

That would mean I was 15 or 16 when I surely kissed Martha. That would have been 1968 or 1969. Not incidentally, the Beatles white album came out in November 1968. So I sang the song Martha My Dear a LOT at the time, and played it too, Side 2, 1st track.

How was I to know that it was a paean to Paul McCartney’s English sheepdog?

Still retired

Augustus, with whom I worked at the comic book store FantaCo in the mid-1980s, wants to know: How long have you been retired?

My last day of work was Friday, June 28. I say I retired on Sunday, June 30 because that’s the day my insurance ended. I was primary on Medicare as of July 1, though, based on the denial got recently for a doctor’s service, Medicare STILL doesn’t know it. It’s not really their fault but my previous insurance company’s.

My friend Catbird wrote:
What I’ve heard about Medicare is:
Find a provider who takes it (prepare for disappointment)
Receive service
Receive bill for what was not reimbursed in 45 days
Tell provider, who resubmits
Things get settled eventually
No wonder so many providers don’t accept Medicare! It seems like the only ones that do are the big medical machines like MedStar (and maybe United Healthcare)
Other countries do healthcare a LOT better than the US.

Fan-Taco

Mark, my old roommate who also worked at FantaCo, is being funny: Did you ever work at a Restaurant called Fan-taco?

Ha. It does remind me, though, that I have NEVER worked in food service in my whole life. No cooking, waiting, dishwashing. I was not opposed to it but just did other stuff.

Exiting my jobs over the years

I have no idea about these things

exitingSince I am about to leave my job of 26 years plus, I thought I’d mention exiting my jobs in the past.

IBM, Endicott, NY, 03-09/1971: I was working the evening shift, 5:12 p.m.-2 a.m., though it was usually until 4 a.m. I worked on putting this laminated gel on computer boards, then heating these boards in ovens, then attaching plastic plates to the board.

I was very good. Too good, in fact, because the first process was so easy that the job quota went from 60 items/hour to 80/hour. The day shift had been slacking off. In retaliation, the day shift did a ton of the first process, leaving the more precise second task for me.

When I left, my manager was disappointed, but I needed to go to college.

Some box factory, 2 weeks in the summer of 1973, described here. After they gave me grief about my productivity, they begged me to stay.

Albany Savings Bank, teller, 02/1978 – two days after my training was over, and I was on the window by myself, spending an hour trying to find a five cent overage, I quit with two days notice. They weren’t happy but they were only paying me $6000 a year, less than what I had in my drawer every day.

Schenectady Arts Council, 03/1978-01/1979 – I took this job, which, BTW, paid $8200. It was a lot more fun and interesting.

Ostensibly, I was the bookkeeper, but I solicited ads for a fundraiser to fix Proctors Theatre, I was a dance partner for the choreographer when she taught disco to school, and most regularly, I ran the biweekly Artisans’ Arcade in the Proctors’ walkway.

When the federal funding was suddenly cut, a bunch of us went out drinking. I’m fairly sure I called my girlfriend to come pick me up.

Empire Blue Cross, 02/1979-03/1980 – described here.

FantaCo, 05/1980-11/1988 – the comic book store/publisher/mail order place. It was a great job for a long time. But as I wrote here, I was just burned out.

I thought I would never have a job with a tenure more than the 8.5 years I worked at FantaCo. Yet I was at the NY SBDC greater than thrice as long, proving I have no idea about these things.

Listen to I Quit – Blotto

For ABC Wednesday

Librarians in America (and everywhere)

Working at FantaCo, the comic book store et al., has been very helpful in my current job. I know about balancing a checkbook, applying for a business loan, trying to get a better rate on a credit card.

Berkeley Lab Librarians Peter Palath and Michael Golden
Berkeley Lab Librarians Peter Palath and Michael Golden at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Friday, October 6, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif.
My dear friend Deborah wonders if Asking Roger Anything would include her son asking me questions about finding work in libraries in America? (He is, last I knew, in France.)

Why, yes, it would. We should set up some online dialogue. Meanwhile, let me give you some general thoughts about being a librarian.

Whatever he already knows, in whatever field, is good. It’s because it will be useful in some yet unexplained way.

Working at FantaCo, the comic book store et al., has been very helpful in my current job. I know about balancing a checkbook, applying for a business loan, trying to get a better rate on a credit card.

Late last month, I gave a webinar about sales tax. It was, well, pretty damn good, according to the reviews.

My interest in such an arcane topic came from realizing that a comic book is a periodical and not subject to sales tax in New York State. But if you sell that same comic book for more than the cover price, it is then a “collectible” and therefore IS subject to sales tax.

(I know that last paragraph was REALLY exciting. Riveting, even. My friend Dave and I talked sales tax that very evening. Seriously. Of course he WORKS for the tax department.)

Working as an enumerator for the 1990 Census was likewise of great value to my current work. If you know the questions they ask, it informs what data might be available.

Librarians HAVE to be curious. You have to want to, no, need to know. You can be trained to do that, I suppose, but it REALLY helps if one is innately so disposed.

This is why my friends Judy and Jendy and Broome nagged me to go to library school in 1990. They KNEW. It was patently OBVIOUS to them, and eventually to me, that my mind works in a particular way. Ask my sisters; I’ve ALWAYS had a need to know.

He doesn’t have to be up on EVERY topic, just his areas of interest. But it is an occupational hazard that other people think librarians know everything about EVERYTHING, when it’s merely ALMOST everything.

This notion, BTW, is laid out in the book called The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Your son probably should read it. I’m about 2/3s of the way through.

“I cannot throw out these books”

I wrote 10 or 11 blog posts re Never A Dull Moment: 1971, the year that rock exploded by David Hepworth.

Jaquandor recently wrote about owning books. In part, he quotes from Life Itself by Roger Ebert, which makes more sense in its entirety, and really speaks to me. “I cannot throw out these books. Some are enchanted because I have personally turned all their pages and read every word. They’re shrines to my past hours.”

Looking at my bookshelves in the office, I realize the sheer number of books I am not going to get rid of, because. And that doesn’t even count the ones in the bookcases that are in the attic, arranged, BTW, and the relatively few in the living room.

Initially, I  was just going to pick books as they appeared on the shelves. Then I decided to put them in some sort of imperfect order

ALBANY

Six and Eleven – Ed Dague (2010). Former local news anchor I hung out with him one night and have a transcript – somewhere – of that night’s broadcast in 1994

A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath – Christopher Ringwald. (2007). Signed to me. I got to hear him speak on the topic in my church a few years before his tragic death.

Figuring Sh!t Out: Love, Laughter, Suicide, and Survival – Amy Biancolli (2015). Signed to me, my wife and our daughter. About surviving the suicides in her life, including that of her husband, the aforementioned C Ringwald

O Albany – William Kennedy (1983). The greatest writer out of the city. Both he and Biancolli worked for the local newspaper, the Times Union, and both were honored by the Albany Public Library Foundation

RACE

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II – Douglas A. Blackmon (2008) – signed to me in 2009 at an event arranged by Bill Kennedy

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander (revised 2011). Because it makes sense.

The Sweeter the Juice – Shirlee Taylor Haizlip. when I wrote a blog post about it, I got an email from her!

Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes – Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Anthony Walton (2004). Did you know Kareem was on JEOPARDY! for the first time the same month I was?

FANTACO

The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus – Fred Hembeck (2008). I remember helping friend Fred unload boxes of these at a comic book convention in Saratoga Springs, NY

Xerox Ferox: The Wild World of the Horror Film Fanzine – John Szpunar. It premiered at FantaCon 2013. I got it signed by the author, plus subjects such as Steve Bissette, Tom Skulan, Dennis Daniel and Jim Whiting

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book One – Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, John Totleben (2009), art plate signed by Steve; I met Steve at FantaCo in 1987

FantaCo book publications, almost all of which have stories; I know I was quoted in the Washington Post about Splatter Movies (1981)

Elfquest books – Wendy and Richard Pini, the original 20 issues in four volumes. Wendy and Richard came up to FantaCo for signings thrice a year

MUSIC

Blues People – LeRoi Jones (1963), before he became Amiri Baraka, he wrote about “the Negro experience in white America and the music that developed from it.”

Soulsville USA – Rob Bowman (1997). The story of STAX Records

Never A Dull Moment: 1971, the year that rock exploded – David Hepworth. I wrote 10 or 11 blog posts on this book

Across the Charts: The 1960s – Joel Whitburn (2008), This a book that shows the power of songs that cross over among the pop, soul, country, and adult contemporary charts.

Plus a slew of books on the Beatles

This post is getting LONG – more books soon.

Banning teens from trick-or-treating is ridiculous

Margaret Hamilton in her first reprisal of her role as The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.

Places to Spend Halloween[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Why banning 13-year-olds from trick-or-treating on Halloween is ridiculous:

“The city of Chesapeake [, Virginia] has an ordinance that bans anyone 13 years and older from trick-or-treating. If teens are caught in costume with a sack full of free candy, they could be found ‘guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $100 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both.'”

Such laws are not anything new in the state. Rules with undoubtedly selective enforcement – officials say they won’t be actively looking to catch teenage trick-or-treaters in the act – make me nervous about its application.
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Here’s a plug for my old boss: If you missed the Monster Art of Basil Gogos campaign on Kickstarter or just want to order an extra book, please go to FantaCo.net to place your pre-order. This second chance offer ends on Halloween night!!! Do not miss your chance.
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The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a Halloween-themed television special starring Paul Lynde broadcast October 29, 1976 on ABC. It featured guest stars Margaret Hamilton in her first reprisal of her role as The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.

Also guest starring are Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf, Tim Conway, Roz Kelly, Florence Henderson, rock band KISS, Billy Barty, Betty White and, in an unbilled surprise appearance, Donny and Marie Osmond.
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The Best Horror Movies in One Boo-tiful List

From the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features. Dating back 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain, Halloween is an ancient tradition associated with images of witches, ghosts and vampires.

Haunted and Historic Pub Crawl of Ten Broeck Mansion

The Isle of the Dead by Sergei Rachmaninov

Halloween Safety poster

The Official “Trumpkin” Pre-carved Halloween Pumpkin

It takes a village to raise a giant pumpkin

Newly Discovered Goblin Spider Resembles ‘Predator’ Alien

Would you try this candy corn pizza? (NOPE)

5 Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

70 Best Homemade Halloween Costumes for Kids of All Ages

Macabre flower

Home Depot’s New Hauntingly Cool Halloween Decorations