Why a duck (as opposed to other fowl)

It’s all too much

Smilin Ed 1Back in June, my friend Mary, not to be confused with my other friend Mary, asked me about the derivation of the duck. This is both easy in the micro sense and unclear in the macro.

In my FantaCo days, we published this comic book called Smilin’ Ed. Ed was a rat. I mean literally, FantaCo’s rascally rodent mascot. The character was drawn by the late Raoul Vezina. The stories were by Tom Skulan and Raoul. Invariably, he put us FantaCo folk in the stories. I was a duck.

Why was I a duck? I’m not sure. It may that I used to do a decent imitation of Donald Duck, only less comprehensible. BTW, I can still do that. Why? Why wouldn’t I?

Then again, I’ve always had affection for fowl since I first heard Henhouse Five Plus Two cluck In The Mood. I knew then that almost any music could be done in chicken.

I’m a duck in the Smilin’ Ed story in the X-Men Chronicles, and in a huge birthday card that Raoul drew of me reading the New York Times. He did this particular drawing for a friend of mine. When I got my own URL, I decided to use the drawing.

Which reminds me

I’ve been, in my purported free time, working on a Wikipedia page for Raoul. It’s not that I have too little information but too much. His friends, including one who has recently died, have sent me at least 100 emails. They contain tidbits of info about Raoul, including a bunch of items I didn’t know. He did a few album covers. Music was as much a passion of his as art. He often combined the two.

For instance, he had started, but never completed, a comic book about the legendary Albany band Blotto of I Want To Be A Lifeguard fame. I’m hoping that when my family goes back to school, whenever that might be, I’ll get back to it.

Gallery of the Louvre: gallery of my office

“Whoever you are, you’ve got Charisma!”

gallery of the louvreAt work, I’ve got an office for the first time in 12 years. I’ve been in cubicles, and for more than two years in a part of a storage space; long story.

*The only thing on the wall in the latter location was a picture of John Lennon c 1972 which my friend Rocco of FantaCo gave me decades ago.

My wife and my daughter decided to rectify that situation. Most of the items were in the attic, not getting the love they needed.

*The largest item is a print my wife had of Gallery of the Louvre, 1831-33 by Samuel Finley Breese Morse. Yeah, the guy who invented the telegraph was also an artist.

It appeals to me, a picture of pictures in a picture. But I also appreciate that one can be an artist and an inventor too.

*My friend, the late Raoul Vezina, did a pencil drawing of me as the duck and had it framed. The large word balloon reads “SURPRISE, ROGER!” The thought balloon was of me thinking, “Is it time for Agronsky and Company already?” That referred to a news talk show I watched regularly.

The duck is reading a New York Times Magazine, which featured the actual content of the issue dated Sunday, March 7, 1982, SELF-SEARCHING IN ISRAEL by Michael Elkins. I think Raoul gave it to me the next day. The picture reminds me of Raoul, of course, who died in November 1983, but also FantaCo, and my birthday.

*A little picture of a pear in the foreground. The caption: “‘Whoever you are, you’ve got Charisma!’ exclaimed Red Ball.” My wife tells me it’s suggestive. Whatever.

In a WTEN (Channel 10, Albany) interview of me before I appeared on JEOPARDY! in 1998, I noted that passing the test doesn’t necessarily mean I’d be on the show. The interviewer said what makes the difference between appearing and not. I said, cheekily, “I don’t know, charisma?” And for about five years after that, one of my work colleagues noted that I had CHARISMA.

*There’s a tiny photo of the top of Binghamton (NY) City Hall, which my friend, and ex-girlfriend, gave me. My hometown.

*The last piece is abstract so difficult to describe. I expect from the color scheme it was from Central America. We got it as a wedding present, I believe.

R is for Ramblin’ with Roger

Steve Gerber, comic book writer extraordinaire, posted about writing in April 2005, essentially saying, “Writers write.”

Since I just hit my 13th anniversary of writing this here Ramblin’ with Roger blog thing, I’d thought I’d describe why I do it.

I’ve mentioned before that my friend Fred Hembeck had started a blog, that friend Rocco had tipped me off to same, and that I read everything Fred wrote, which meant going back about two years.

And Fred was prolific. He wrote every day, usually pieces a lot longer than I write currently. Then I would comment on his blog, and he would mention me therein. I gave him a couple ideas; for instance, I found a page of record album covers based on other album covers, which still exists.

So I thought, maybe I could do this myself. But what would I write ABOUT? I only had two topics that I KNEW I would have to cover. One was the Daughter, who was a little over a year old. I said to myself when she was born that I would write about her in a baby book that people give to parents of newborns, where you track when the child first crawls and walks and gets the first tooth.

There is incontrovertible evidence that I was TERRIBLE at this exercise. Instead, I would write about her every month, on the 26th. And I have, every month, although it’s often been as much about ME having a daughter after I’m five decades old.

The other topic was my appearances on the game show JEOPARDY. It was taped in September 1998 and was broadcast in November, and I was afraid the details were starting to fade.

I started writing in my Blogger blog on May 2, 2005, and I have written every day, at least once a day. In the early days, it was tough because Blogger didn't let me schedule posts. I remember writing at a library in Lake Placid during a break in a work conference.

I was inspired by what the late Steve Gerber, comic book writer of Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, the Defenders, and other Marvel comics I loved, posted about writing in April 2005, essentially saying, “Writers write.”

Oh, the duck. At FantaCo, I was editing something called X-Men Chronicles. I had extra pages to fill, and so Smilin’ Ed artiste Raoul Vezina and I pieced together a story about the rodent buying a case of a popular comic book. I appeared as a duck because… well, I don’t know.

Around that time, Raoul drew the duck for my friend Lynne. In 2010, when I was getting my own URL, Lynne’s husband Dan, who recognized me from the caricature when he met me on the street back in 1985, scanned the drawing, and I have used it ever since, on the Ramblin’ with Roger blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

For ABC Wednesday

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Scientology and the cult of tRump

The Rules of the Gun Debate: The rules for discussing firearms in the United States obscure the obvious solutions

My Daughter Was Murdered in a Mass Shooting. Then I Was Ordered to Pay Her Killer’s Gun Dealer

Sandy Hook mom: ‘We value guns, flags & fake acts of patriotism over people, pain’

Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns

Just What We Needed: More Inequality, Bigger Deficits

From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories

Forensic Science: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Statistical indicators of President Obama’s eight years in office

The Day Donald Trump Watched An Octogenarian Bleeding To Death And Did Nothing To Help

Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures

The Five Stirring Stanzas That Proved a Poem Can Help End a War

“The Closet” where a black camper slept is preserved in Schroon Lake, NY

How to Protest Without Offending White People

Comic: Back to the Future of Racism

Chuck Miller’s two-week boycott of ESPN

Finding Your Roots: Bernie Sanders and Larry David (may be available only in the US and until 31 Oct)

Free counseling for those affected by Hurricane Harvey from BetterHelp.com for up to three months

Want Change In Education? Look Beyond The Usual Suspects (Like Finland)

How to handle being “unfriended” on Facebook

Naturalist At Large environmental cartoons by Don Rittner and Raoul Vezina (1983)

“Mr Brunelle Explains It All” Cartoon Gallery

The Vast Influence Of Donald Duck

How one election changed Disney’s relationship with Anaheim

EU English

The Mary Tyler Moore Show Fall Preview

Y.A. Tittle dies at age 90. He was the first New York Giants quarterback of my youth

Sputnik’s 60th birthday

30 Of the Most Amazing Images from Electron Microscopes

Now I Know: The Town that Drives Itself and Why We Yawn and Why Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop and The Ben and Jerry’s Flavor that Left a Bad Taste Behind

Floss Firstenberg Alper Obituary: Floss was an amazing listener, a trusted confidante, the focus of many people’s erotic dreams, an oft-invited dinner guest and irreverent as hell

MUSIC

Waiting For The Waiter – MonaLisa Twins ft. John Sebastian

Coverville 1187: Cover Stories for Gerry & The Pacemakers and Everything But The Girl

Magic Moments – Perry Como

Merrily We Roll Along – Eddie Cantor

Music throwback Saturday: Blotto

Metalhead by Blotto featured guitarist Buck Dharma.

comboakimbo.jpegFor Ask Roger Anything, Tom the Mayor, who used to work at FantaCo, the now-defunct comic book store in Albany, NY, inquired:

What is your favorite Blotto song (For you Albany people)?

For you non-Albany people, Blotto was a popular local band who performed with humor and panache. Like the Ramones, the various performers took on the S-less band name as their surname. It was vocalist Sarge, bassist Cheese, guitarist Broadway, guitar-vocalist Bowtie , and drummer Lee Harvey Blotto. Female lead singer Blanche joined the band for a while, then quit, and was replaced by Chevrolet Blotto.

As you know, Tom, FantaCo sold the band’s various EPs, their single and the album Combo Akimbo during the 1980s. The cover was designed Continue reading “Music throwback Saturday: Blotto”