November rambling: we’re in trouble

notable books

A great cover illustration by Walter Molino, repurposed by Jan Strnad, and used with Jan’s permission

Democracy and the Press: We’re in Trouble

Revisiting the fascism question

Liz Cheney’s new book blasts GOP as ‘enablers and collaborators’ of djt

Why Georgia Republicans Are Protecting the D.A. Who Indicted Trump

In the wake of the Voting Rights Act ruling, North Dakota to appeal the decision that protected tribes’ rights

ProPublica reviewed 12 of the nation’s strictest abortion bans. Few changed in 2023, as state lawmakers caved to pressure from anti-abortion groups opposing exceptions for rape, incest and health risks.

Dollar Stores: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

The Remarkable Biden Economy

You Cannot Rely on the Government to Protect You From Bad Charities

FTC Authorizes Compulsory Process for AI-related Products and Services

Rosalynn Carter, Outspoken Former First Lady, Dies at 96

Chuck Miller: A big toe named Elise Stefanik

NYPL service was impacted due to City budget cuts, including ending Sunday service at the vast majority of locations that currently offer it.

 About 8.2 Million People Moved Between States in 2022

Of special interest to me

Finally — a PROFESSIONAL Comics Magazine! COMICS SCENE 1, January 1982. At this point in the video, there is a discussion about a FantaCo ad. Tom Skulan noted that the ad wasn’t particularly successful, whereas the ads for horror items in Fangoria magazine were much more profitable.

New York Times: 100 Notable Books of 2023, one of which was written by an author I actually know 

Obit for Bob Maye, who grew up not far from my house in Binghamton, NY

Consumer Value Stores

Boston Globe: CVS pharmacists are at a breaking point, imperiling the company’s reinvention plans. The link may be behind a paywall, but basically: “There are not enough pharmacists in the pipeline, and the ones the company employs are reaching a breaking point. The company… has spent billions remaking itself into a sophisticated healthcare conglomerate. A key goal is turning its thousands of stores into community clinics where pharmacists, doctors, and nurses work together to improve patient health. But none of this works if the company can’t hire or retain its pharmacists. ‘Pharmacists are burned out,’ said a former CVS executive.”


Warner Bros. Reverses Course on ‘Coyote vs. Acme‘ After Filmmakers Rebel. I don’t understand how a studio makes money scrapping a film it’s completed.

The people who ruined the internet

The Boy Who Captured JFK From His Parents’ Basement

John Oliver – Finding a Place for Satire & Immigration as a Comedian | The Daily Show

Do You Want to Build a Movie? An Oral History of Frozen

How TMZ Became Hollywood’s Grim Reaper

Frances Sternhagen, a two-time Tony winner and television and movie actor, Died at 93. I’ve seen her on The Closer, ER, Sex and the City, Cheers, and the movie Misery, among many other roles.

What Is the Value of a Scenic View?

Medical Malpractice On Law & Order, episode 1, Ft. Legal Eagle

Mark Evanier bankrupted his grandmother in Monopoly, and in life

Greg’s long, strange trip of collecting comic books
There is no such place as Wyoming
Now I Know
 How Fake Fish May Save Coral Reefs (And You Can Help!) and Cops of Coffee and The Very Expensive (and Not Very Nice) Surprise Party and The Man Who Bought (And Returned?) Stonehenge and

The Hole in a Swiss Citizenship Application


Peter Sprague Plays Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You featuring Rebecca Jade

Tray Wellington: Crooked Mind

Mr. Big Stuff – Jean Knight, who died recently at 80

The Highwomen: Crowded Table

Jake Blount: Didn’t It Rain

Rhiannon Giddens: You’re The One

Coverville 1465: The XTC Cover Story II and  1466: The 20th Annual All-Beatles Thanksgiving Cover Story

Amythyst Kiah: Hangover Blues

Our Native Daughters: Black Myself

On The Beautiful Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II

Rina Sawayama : Chosen Family

Kara Jackson: Pawnshop

Rossini: L’italiana in Algeri – Overture

Michael Pollack accompanies Billy Joel on “New York State of Mind”

You Were Meant For Me – Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds

Notation Must Die: The Battle For How We Read Music, which starts with ten minutes about chess notation

Comic book poll re: writers, artists

FantaCo connection

06-RAW-7My buddy Greg Burgas commented on a comic book poll that ranked writers and artists. I’m not participating because I haven’t really followed comics since 1994, when I sold the bulk of my collection. There are several names I do not even recognize. I still have books such as the Marvel Masterworks, the Moore/Bissette  Swamp Thing, a couple of Will Eisner titles, and the original Dark Knight.

The post got me reflecting on some of the people I’ve interacted with, though.

 David Mazzucchelli and Denny O’Neill made a store appearance at FantaCo in 1985 during their Daredevil run. There’s a photo I lent to someone to digitize; it shows them, Matt, a couple of other people, and me in the store.

I never dealt directly with Bernie Wrightson except in short phone calls, but FantaCo published some of his work.  When he died too young, I wrote about him here because he was so talented and a sweet guy in even those brief interactions.

In his Wikipedia page, [Greg] “Capullo’s first comic work was a publication called Gore Shriek, which was picked up and published by a comic book store in Albany, New York, called Fantaco EnterprisesGore Shriek was a horror comic book specifically labeled Not Intended for Children because of the violent and graphic nature of it.” FantaCo didn’t “pick it up,” but whatever. I knew Greg, though not well.

Barry Windsor-Smith appeared in FantaCo pubs, but my dealings with him were meager.

Frank Miller created the cover for FantaCo’s Daredevil Chronicles, edited by Mitch Cohn, and also did a centerspread and interview. When I was going to edit a Spider-Man Chronicles, Miller agreed to produce the cover. But he bailed at the last minute, causing me quite a lot of stress. 


Art Spiegelman used to come to FantaCo to personally deliver copies of Raw, the oversized and eclectic comics and graphics magazine he and his wife, Françoise Mouly, published in the 1980s. I remember hanging out with him during the 1988 San Diego Comic-Con; it’s probably recorded in my diary.

FantaCo was in discussion with Denis Kitchen about putting out a Kitchen Sink Enterprises Chronicles with a Will Eisner cover. I would have edited that issue; alas, it never happened. Except for asking him a question at a panel discussion during that ’88 Con, I never had any dealings with Eisner.

I bought a graphic novel from Jim Starlin at an Albany comics show in the 2010s. He autographed it, but he was very busy.

I told my Jack Kirby story here.

George Perez created the Avengers Chronicles cover for FantaCo, He was supposed to make the back cover for the Fantastic Four Chronicles but was problematically late.

John Byrne saved my bacon as an editor, not once but twice, as I noted here, re: Miller and Perez.

Travelogue USA , NY-TX

Fred Hembeck and Lefty Brown

travelogueTravelogue USA, NY-TX has a backstory.

From my post way back on June 29, 2005: “Fred [Hembeck] was involved with a bunch of folks, most of them interested in comic books, who did a bloggers’ exchange of mixed CDs, initiated by Chris ‘Lefty’ Brown. As I wasn’t blogging at the time, I couldn’t participate. But now that I am posting fairly regularly [that is to say, at least daily], I got to give it a go in the second round with these very diverse folks (May 23).

“I decided to use the first of my American Travelogue discs, but I made a few changes.” You can read the rationale in the post and also my non-review of my own CD here.

US: American Roulette – Robbie Robertson
NY: New York, New YorkRyan Adams                                                                     NJ:  Atlantic City – The Band                                                                                            PA:  Allentown – Billy Joel

MD:  Baltimore – Peter Case
DC:  The Bourgeois Blues – Taj Mahal.
VA:  Oh, Virginia – Blessed Union of Souls


NC:  Take The Train To Charlotte – Fiddlin’ John Carson. This is the title of the post I wrote on February 2, 2011, when I went to see my mother. I did not know that would be the day she died.
SC:  Darlington County – Bruce Springsteen
GA:  Oh, Atlanta – Alison Krauss
FL: Gator On The Lawn – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

AL:  Alabamy Home – the Gotham Stompers
MS:  The Jazz Fiddler – the Mississippi Sheiks
LA:  Down at the Twist and Shout – Mary Chapin Carpenter
TX:  That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas) – Lyle Lovett
US:  American Honky Tonk Bar Association – Garth Brooks, the one song I had my doubts about. I could have and probably should have used U.S. Blues – Harshed Mallows

I ended up making a few dozen of these mixed CDs, either just for Fred or for the blogger collective. And I have a bunch from Fred, Lefty Brown, and several others, even Greg Burgas, which I plan to play in the next few months. Some of the ones I made I’ll recreate here over time, but in no particular order.

Happier Now Sunday Stealing

Hembeck, ADD, AmeriNZ, Forgotten Stars

happier nowThe Happier Now Sunday Stealing questions this week are all over the place.

What flavor Popsicle is the best?

I haven’t had Popsicles in years. But I remember that I favored grape, lime, cherry, and orange, in approximately that order.

Do you have a DVR feature with your cable?

Yes, and increasingly it’s the ONLY way I can watch television. It’s not only much faster – JEOPARDY! in 18 minutes – but I also get to avoid the plethora of advertisements for prescription drugs that are ubiquitous on American television. I’ve been told, and someone can correct me, that the ads are banned everywhere except in the US and New Zealand.

How many drawers does your dresser have?

Five. Or not nearly enough.

Is your closet a mess?

Actually, I have an armoire. After our daughter was born, the room with a large closet became her bedroom for a time. Now it’s my wife’s office. So no.

Have you ever solved a Rubik’s Cube?

No, but I haven’t tried in decades.

Describe your favorite pair of pajama pants:

They’re blue and have moose on them.

What color is your wallet?

The brown color of probably faux leather.

Do you find flea markets and thrift shops enjoyable?

Not really. The cost (of time)/benefit (the find) is too unbalanced. Sorry, Eddie.


Have you met amazing people online?

Yes. I could write a whole blog post on this topic. When I first started blogging in 2005, I followed my friend Fred Hembeck’s now-defunct but still extant blog. I met a slew of great folks there, including Lefty, Gordon, the aforementioned Eddie, and even Greg.

I discovered the late Dustbury, who died in 2019. So I know fillyjonk because I knew Charles Hill.

I stumbled upon Denise Nesbitt’s ABC Wednesday, which I participated in for about a decade. I met Leslie and many other fine folks.

The local newspaper, the Times Union, used to have a blog platform. I still follow folks such as Chuck Miller and J. Eric Smith, the latter of whom is no longer in the area.   

Then there are people for whom I have NO idea how I “met” them, such as  Arthur and Kelly.

This doesn’t count all of the people I’ve become reacquainted with, including Steve Bissette,  Alan David Doane, and a bunch of folks on Facebook.

Between the lines

Would you be happy if I colored a picture for you?

Only if it’s better than I would draw for myself, which is almost certainly going to be true.

What show do you think ‘made’ the 90’s?

Law and Order, The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, NYPD Blue… I think I’m supposed to say Seinfeld or Friends.

Are you happier now than you were last year?

Yes, because 2021 was too COVIDy. An odd observation, I suppose, since I actually GOT COVID in August 2022. But I’ve gone to a few movies, attended plays, eaten at a few restaurants, and participated in the church choir in 2022.

What are you currently drinking?

Not alcohol, and that’s about calories, not any other consideration. Arnold Palmer.

Do you trust people easily?

Not especially. I don’t DISTRUST people out of hand, but when they’ve betrayed me, I always remember. I can forgive, but I seldom forget.

What are you looking forward to in the next three months?

My daughter will be home from her first semester of college.

How do I consume my music?

If it’s May, it must be Winwood and Wonder

As is often the case, this post, How do I consume my music?, was inspired by old buddy Greg Burgas’ post. Before I get to the crux of the matter, let me address some of his introductory comments.

He writes: “I still buy physical compact discs because, like comics, I like the physical objects, but I’m certainly not averse to getting something only digitally.” This is true of me as well. I know I HAVE various recordings that are digital only, but I have not organized them in any systematic way.

“I don’t listen to Spotify or any other music service, and I rarely listen to the radio.” Ditto. The radio in the car is controlled by my wife and, to some degree, my daughter.

“I don’t tend to find a lot of new music, which is fine with me. A lot of the bands I like are still releasing albums, and I’m good.” This is largely true. I’m more likely to buy the new Bonnie Raitt or Elvis Costello – I bought them both in 2022, though Elvis now has ANOTHER album.

Most of the artists who put out their first albums in the 21st century, I learned about them from watching Saturday Sessions on CBS’ morning show. Regina Spektor and especially Jason Isbell are the examples that immediately come to mind.

The crux of the matter

“My point with my friend was: If you liked something for years, why don’t you listen to it anymore?” Well, I think it’s just how different minds work. I remember a trip to Cooperstown back in the 1990s, and we had Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues on probably the cassette player. And when Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place) came up, they did not remember it, even though they owned the album! They fell in love with it anew.

“I have a CD player in the car.” The new car does not, to the disappointment of both my wife and me.

“So my Question is: How do you consume your music? Do you listen to music?”

I consume my music almost constantly, roughly seven CDs per day. I had a portable CD player at work, and now at home. And I play them more or less systematically, based on the artist’s birthday. I play musicals in June and movie soundtracks in February. At some point – ooh, in 2007! – I wrote about that.

If I have no CD player, I’ve been known to go to my Amazon list, which is comprised not only of albums I’ve bought there but random freebies I don’t recognize.

“What do you do in the car if you don’t listen to music? Audiobooks? (Gasp) Silence? Let me know!!!!!” My wife will listen to National Public Radio. But if the daughter is listening – she often has her own devices – we’ll listen to the pop radio stations. And my wife has listened to books on tape.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial