Fill-in for Sunday Stealing

FantaCo photographs

Roger.cartoonThe Sunday Stealing is a fill-in.

1. I am currently obsessed with old photographs. I used to work at a comic book store in Albany called FantaCo from 1980 to 1988. Specifically, my old boss Tom is looking for old photos from that period. As it turns out, I took a bunch of pictures with cheap cameras. They are in photo albums, in some semblance of order. I will wade through the photo albums and mail them to him. He will digitize them, then send the pics and the digitized files back.

BTW, if you have some FantaCo or FantaCon pics, feel free to email them to me or send them via Facebook. If you can identify any people, that would be great.

Simultaneously, I’ll be hunting for photos of an ex-girlfriend to give to someone who knew her in the same time frame.

2. Today I am happy because I’m going to see some theater, not just today but eight productions over the next ten months.

3. The age I am is apparently inappropriate to some people. The age I feel depends on the part. For instance, my head is about fifty, but my left knee is about 100.

4. My favorite place may be my office. It has 70% of my books, and I have a device on which I can play music.

5. Something I have been procrastinating on is creating a Wikipedia page for my late friend, the artist Raoul Vezina, who worked at FantaCo. I have enough material, but I’ve never done one of these things before.

6. The last thing I purchased was almost certainly recorded music.

Books!

7. The thing I love most about my home is the built-in bookcases in my office.

8. My most prized possession – IDK. Maybe the metal file box with all of my important papers.

9. If I could be one age for the rest of my life, I would want to be 37; it’s a prime number.

10. My outlook on life tends toward the pessimistic. Global warming, gun violence, and certain political philosophies are involved.

11. If you want to annoy me, be a poor listener.

12. I am completely defenseless when it comes to bubbles.

13. The bravest thing I’ve ever done was run out into traffic to scoop up a toddler who had wandered out there.

14. Something that keeps me awake at night is: See 10.

15. My favorite meal in the entire world is lasagna.

Personal History: Sunday Stealing

Who Knows Where The Time Goes

daughter, wife, niece, sister, sister, niece (Feb 2011)

This week’s Sunday Stealing is called Personal History, an interesting topic.

1. What would you like people to know about your mother?

I was thinking about this a lot this week. My father was the more outgoing and visible member of the couple. But I doubt they would have been been able to pay the bills if it wasn’t for my mom.

She was a bookkeeper at McLean’s Department Store in Binghamton, NY, then worked at Columbia Gas, not even a block away. When she moved to Charlotte, NC, she was a teller at First Union Bank, which eventually was swallowed by Wells Fargo. I probably got my love of numbers from her. When I told her we were learning base 2, which we were told was the basis of computers, she was clearly excited.

2. What would you like people to know about your father?

I’ll be writing about him on August 10, the anniversary of his death. My eclectic taste in music started with him.

3.  What was your childhood bedroom like?

HA! After my second sister was born, my father put up two walls in the dining room, built a wooden shelf into the two walls, then put a mattress on top of that. My storage was under the “bed,” though my books were around the corner on a bookcase. My dad painted the solar system on the ceiling.

Ballgame

4. What was your favorite activity as a child?

Alone: playing with my baseball cards. With others: playing softball/baseball/kickball. And singing.

5. What was high school like for you?

When we first got there, there was a certain hostility from some because my friends were identified as against the Vietnam war. But by the time I graduated, most of the school was against the war. I was on the stage crew and president of the Red Cross club. I was also president of the student government, which is how I sort of got to introduce Rod Serling.

6. Write about your cousins.

I have no first cousins. My parents were only children. Well, essentially. My mom had a younger sister who died as an infant. So my cousins were my mother’s cousin’s kids who lived in NYC and were a decade or more younger than I. Still, aside from my sisters and their daughters, they’re the closest relatives outside my nuclear household.

7.  What was your favorite food as a child?

Spinach. Totally indoctrinated by Popeye.

8. What was your most memorable birthday?

My 16th was held at the American Civic Association, so it was a real party. Lois, who I’ve known since kindergarten, gave me Judy Collins’ album Who Knows Where The Time Goes. She was afraid it might be too country for me; it was not.

9. What world events were significant to you as a child?

The integration of the high school in Little Rock, AR. Sputnik. The Cuban Missile Crisis – I didn’t really understand it, but I grokked adults all being nervous. The assassinations of Medgar Evers and John F. Kennedy. The massive 1965 blackout was the only time I ever heard my father worry about a possible Soviet plot.

To Starr Avenue

10. What did a typical day look like as a child?

During the school year, walk to school about half a mile, usually trying to vary my route. At lunch, walk home to my grandma Williams’ house for lunch, watch JEOPARDY with her sister, my wonderful Aunt Deana, back to school, then walk home with, in geographic order, Bill, Lois, Karen, Carol, and Ray. I’d walk home.

11. Write about your grandparents. 

Gertrude Williams (1897-1982) operated out of making us afraid of the boogie man. I don’t remember her husband, Clarence Williams (d. 1958), though I may have gone to his funeral. 

Agatha Green (1902-1964) was my Sunday school teacher and taught me how to play canasta. She was the first person I knew well to die, and I was devastated. McKinley Green (1896? -1980) was a custodian at WNBF-TV-AM-FM and would bring home stuff the station no longer wanted, such s the soundtrack to The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968).

12. Did you move as a child?

I moved from the second floor of 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, to the first floor when my mother was pregnant with her second child. Until college, that was it.

13. Who taught you to drive?

Several people tried, including the Okie, Uthaclena, my father, and a professional.

14. Which job has been your favorite?

FantaCo, the comic book store/mail order/publisher/convention, where I worked from May 1980 to November 1988.

15. What was the best part of your 30s?

Working at FantaCo, singing in the Trinity UMC choir

For Lent, Ask Roger Anything

I have wisdom, I’m told

AskFor Lent, people have been giving up something. But some years ago, I heard a sermon and decided that the way, or at least, A way to go, is to take on something.

I’ve heard that some people decide to engage in random acts of kindness. That’s admirable, I suppose. I always try to engage in random acts of kindness, throughout the year. The trick is that you have to have your eyes and ears and mind open to it.

The opening of the TV show The Odd Couple came to mind. Felix Unger (Tony Randall) tries to help an older woman and the woman slugs him with the purse. Then a Boy Scout also pokes him. I don’t want to be a Felix Unger.

Part of the Ash Wednesday Prayer of Confession at my church this year includes this. “We forget that we are called, invited, and loved with all that we are—including our mess, our beauty, our faith, and our doubt.”

Especially doubt. Most sane people have it. I related to this recent John Green video titled Hard week, which incorporated grief with hope.

When Easter is on April 22

(A random fact: Ash Wednesday was on my birthday in 1962, 1973, and 1984, though I have no recollection of this. It won’t happen again until 2057 when I turn 104. I’m sure I’ll be surprised.)

I would probably have quit blogging long ago except for your likes and comments, and suggestions. I was taken but a comment to this post from December 2020 about Handel Messiah and the book of Isaiah chapter 40. And I received, this month, a response from an old FantaCo colleague who used to go by Matt: “Wow, all glory to God. Here I am researching Isaiah for a Bible study and lo and behold, it’s wisdom by my old friend and mentor Roger Green. Wow. God is great. Always wonderful to think of you Sir. Your influence on my life continues. It is now profound. Love and Grace my brother.”

I found it quite touching. And, to paraphrase Sonny Curtis, it took a nothing day, and suddenly made it all seem worthwhile.

We have all been here before

I ask y’all to Ask Roger Anything because it gets me out of my own head, and into yours. What are YOU thinking about right now? What’s going on in your life that generates such a question?

And I’ll answer your queries, generally within a month. Please leave your questions, suggestions, et al in the comments section of the blog. OR you can also contact me on Facebook or Twitter. On Twitter, my name is ersie. Always look for the duck.

You may remain anonymous, or preferably pseudonymous, but you need to share that. E-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB and note that you want to be unnamed. Otherwise, I’ll attribute the queries to you.

I love this arcane stuff

Jane Seymour turns 70

My wife had purchased a few bushels of apples over the late summer. She kept them in the basement, which tends to be cooler than the rest of the house. But by December, the last of the apples were looking wrinkled.

“They’re wisened,” I observed.  This led to a conversation about why the word has a short I rather than long I sound, though it has one S rather than two. Maybe because the long I sounds more like someone who is wise? I love arcane stuff like this, items that make me ponder.

Not a new decade

My friend David and I had a nice back-and-forth about whether the decade should start with 2021 since the century began with 2001. I favored the inconsistency. After all, September is the ninth month, not the seventh.

I think he was won over by how we define people. “An individual who has been alive for two full decades is referred to as being in their 20s for the next decade of their life, from age 20 to 29.” 

Census stuff

My Census buddy, also named David, and I exchange articles about the Census. Several of his finds I’ve used in various articles. I noted for him a Daily Kos report indicating that “the state-level population data from the 2020 census that is needed to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state receives is not expected to be released until April 30, four months after the original deadline.”

Likewise, “the more granular population data needed for states to actually draw new districts won’t be released until at least after July 30, which is also a delay of at least four months from the original March 31 deadline. Consequently, these delays will create major disruptions for the upcoming 2020 round of congressional and legislative redistricting.

“New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice released an in-depth report in 2020 looking at which states have deadlines that are in conflict with a potentially delayed data release schedule and what the impact of a delay may be.

“The most directly affected states are New Jersey and Virginia, which are the only two states that are set to hold legislative elections statewide in 2021 and would normally redraw all of their legislative districts this year.”

I remain a Census geek.

Music and art

My friend and FantaCo colleague Rocco tipped me off about the book Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel (2015). It has a graphic that would have been on a Kitchen Sink Chronicles if FantaCo had ever published it back in the 1980s.

I had just purchased The Beatles (The White Album) [6 CD + Blu-ray]. So I gave him the three-CD set I bought a couple of years ago but didn’t need anymore.

We got into an arcane conversation about the album Graceland by Paul Simon. I had purchased the 25th Anniversary Edition (2011) CD a few years back. It also featured the Under African Skies film on DVD. I gave my old copy of the Graceland CD to a blogger buddy who had never heard it.

But Rocco had NOT purchased it, and I knew why. It was because it did NOT include the 6-minute version of Boy in the Bubble. Rocco had purchased the 12″ from the Music Shack record store back when it came out. I tried to get a copy but it never arrived. Rocco lent me his 12″ and I recorded the song on a cassette. But we BOTH were disappointed that the song failed to show up on the anniversary edition.

NOT the third wife of Henry VIII

The performer  Jane Seymour turns 70 today. I often note people who reach three score and ten in this blog. Though I’ve seen her in few guest appearances, a miniseries or two, and some infomercials I’ve come across, I really only know her from one thing. And if you know her for only one thing, it’s probably the same show: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I didn’t watch it regularly, but I didn’t turn it off when I happened across it.

The “good death” of Carl Reiner

Denny O’Neil, David Mazzucchelli, and me

It appears that Carl Reiner had a good death on June 29. The 98-year-old was productive and vital until the very end.

This is very clear as I was watching If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast, the 2017 documentary for which Reiner was nominated for an Emmy. I caught it on July 3.

He “tracks down several nonagenarians [and older] to show how the twilight years can be rewarding.” The participants included Fyvush Finkel, who died before the release; the recently deceased Kirk Douglas; Betty White; Dick Van Dyke, with his much younger wife Arlene; Norman Lear; and naturally, his friend of 70 years, Mel Brooks. Here’s the preview.

I’m pleased to note that my daughter has watched all five seasons of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which Carl Reiner created, and which I love. Of course, he played the irritable TV star, Alan Brady, as well as the budding English anti-existentialist Yale Sampson, and several other annoying characters.

Not like his characters

But as Mark Evanier noted: “Carl Reiner was the friendliest, most talented person in show business… He was a guy I admired not just for his fine work as a writer, producer, director, and performer but for just the way he was as a person. Every time I was around him, he was an absolute delight – funny, engaging, willing to talk with anyone about anything. He was just what you’d want an idol to be. He was a role model for how to be truly successful and sane in show business.”

Yes, Carl Reiner was an actor (Ocean’s 11 franchise, Hot in Cleveland) and director (Oh, God; The Jerk; All of Me). But mostly he was a writer, going back to 1950s television, with Sid Caesar and Dinah Shore. He co-wrote and directed Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) and The Man with Two Brains (1983).

I had wished he would have been selected for the Kennedy Center Honors, like his friends Mel Brooks had been in 2009 and Norman Lear in 2017. It may be that he was underappreciated as the straight man, such as the interviewer of Brooks’ 2000 Year Old Man.

Other recent deaths of note

Dennis O’Neil, who died June 11, was a comic writer who I admired greatly. His Green Lantern/Green Arrow with Neal Adams made the book relevant. He also did work on Iron Man and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Somewhere in my possession is a photo of O’Neil, David Mazzucchelli, Augustus Manly (Matt at the time), me, and a fifth person at the comic book store FantaCo in Albany. Denny and David were working on Daredevil at the time, so this had to be 1984 or 1985. He was quite pleasant, but I might have been a bit awestruck.

Hugh Downs, who passed away on July 1, was a constant presence in my television watching the last third of the 20th century. He hosted the game show Concentration (1958-1968), which BTW I was very bad at. Downs also co-hosted The Today Show (1962-1971).

With Barbara Walters, he co-hosted the news show 20/20 from 1978 until his retirement in 1999. In 1984, “he was certified by the Guinness World Records as holding the record for the greatest number of hours on network commercial television (15,188 hours).”

The reference to the “good death”, incidentally, comes from Paul McCartney explaining the song The End of the End from his 2007 album Memory Almost Full.

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