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.

I’m mentioned in Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said!

Jack Kirby expressed his dismay to the interviewer over Marvel’s uncompensated reuse of his Fantastic Four animation storyboards to make a ‘new’ Lee/Kirby story in Fantastic Four #236.”

Stuf' SaidMy friend Rocco, who is as responsible for me blogging – he told me about Fred Hembeck’s blog – emailed me recently. “I am reading the new book titles Stuf’ Said! about Jack and Stan. They quote you from FF Chronicle. The book is great.”

Huh, what? There is something called Jack Kirby Collector. Number 75 is a double-sized publication called Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! “The complex genesis of the Marvel Universe, in its creators’ own words.”

Here’s an early paragraph: “As the 1960s wore on, Jack was doing more of the work via the ‘Marvel method,’ where the ‘artist’ was responsible for much/most/all of the plotting and pacing of the stories, while the ‘writer’ concentrated on the words in the caption boxes and balloons, after the drawn pages were completed and the story totally fleshed out.

“But Kirby was seeing [the late Stan] Lee get most of the credit – and since Lee was the editor, he had final say in masking changes to Kirby’s stories, even tales he had minimal or no involvement with from the outset. It lead to irreconcilable differences between them…”

In 1981, FantaCo put out a magazine called the X-Men Chronicles; I edited the 32-page magazine, even though I had never undertaken such a project. It was successful, selling out of 50,000 copies.

Apparently, Marvel Comics was suitably impressed and allowed FantaCo to use its logo, for free, on the next two titles, about the Fantastic Four, edited by me, and Daredevil, edited by Mitch Cohn.

I had called Jack Kirby in California and THOUGHT he understood that I wanted to do an interview with him about his Fantastic Four participation. We pitched the titles to the distributors and highlighted the Kirby coup. At the time, there were several companies to solicit, including Seagate (Brooklyn) and Capital City (Madison, WI), not just Diamond.
Fantastic Four ChroniclesHowever, when I sent the questions, he declined to respond to a number of them, so I came up with alternate queries. He DID mention the FF. From Stuf’ Said: (p. 130): “He also expressed his dismay to the interviewer over Marvel’s uncompensated reuse of his Fantastic Four animation storyboards to make a ‘new’ Lee/Kirby story in Fantastic Four #236.”

From my interview: “The trouble is that ‘Marvel wants it all.’ It worked that way in the past. But we would like to see a more equitable future where deals can be worked out to the benefit of all who work for sales.”

I had a Kirby interview but clearly not what I expected. FantaCo had two options: use the interview, or dump it. The latter would certainly mean we would have to resolicit FF Chronicles. AND it would also have an effect on the Daredevil collection, since they were being printed two up.

We obviously took the former path, printing 80,000 of FF and 90,000 of DD. A few days after they were back from the printer, the phone rang, and Mitch Cohn answered it. It was a profanity-laden tirade from Marvel editor Jim Shooter saying, essentially or possibly literally, “WTF were you thinking?”

He threatened to have Marvel sue FantaCo – which didn’t happen – and they revoked our use of Marvel logo, which was fine by us. So I spent $17 just to read “‘Questions and Answers with Jack Kirby, Version Two,’ interview by Roger Green.”

My Randy Newman Story

When I heard When Somebody Loved Me [which he wrote] in Toy Story 2, I practically cried.

I made a cryptic comment about Randy Newman the other day. It was supposed to be something I’d bring up when I wrote about it at some future date, maybe in November, on Newman’s birthday. But my friend Rocco, who I’ve known since our FantaCo days in the early ’80s, asked about it, as well as confirming that I went with him to see that dismal Joe Jackson concert in ’89. And since today is Rocco’s birthday, I’ll tell the story now.

I was in the Poughkeepsie, New York train station, coming home from a conference c. 1999. Poughkeepsie’s about halfway between Albany and New York City, along the Hudson River.

I see walking into the ticket area a guy, a woman and a couple kids. That’s Randy Newman. Isn’t it Randy Newman? I LOVE Randy Newman!

If it’s Randy Newman, I know what I’m going to say to him. Continue reading “My Randy Newman Story”