Category Archives: Lynn Moss

Memes of Love and Hate

Before I get to that, though, I need to direct you to this post of June 23, 2004, when Fred Hembeck noted the 25th wedding anniversary of Lynn Moss and himself. That was five years ago, which would make today…their 30TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY! Big congrats to you both. Oh, and people, you might want to check out a more recent Fred post, June 21, 2009, where daughter Julie cracks wise.

Oh, and since we’re speaking about Fred, you can now buy Hembeck-designed T-shirts from WORLD OF STRANGE Fantastic Apparel. You can’t buy them from Fred directly , but his June 3 post explains how it all came about.
Got this from the Frog again; BTW, there’s the back of lovely naked female person in the header of his blog, so depending on where you live or work, that may be an issue. What I guess I’m having trouble with in the meme is the hate side. It’s not that I don’t dislike stuff; it’s that if I dislike it, I tend to ignore it and subsequently forget who or what it was.

1. Most hated food: Brussels sprouts; Sir Frog had a vivid description.
2. Most hated person: Well, I forgave G W Bush, so I’ll say Dick Cheney.
3. Most hated job: Working at Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield as a customer service rep. We were given all the tools to fail. I note that of the 16 people in my training class, at least 12 had left the company before I did 13 months later.
4. Most hated city: that would be Charlotte, NC circa 1977; my father described it as a big country town. But I don’t hate it now, and can think of no substitutes.
5. Most hated band: can’t think of one.
6. Most hated web site: ditto. What I do hate are websites that are perfectly functional; then they do a redesign so I can’t find anything.
7. Most hated TV program: is that show with the Sweet 16 excesses still on? Hated it, just hated it.
8. Most hated British politician: Tony Blair, maybe because I actually had high hopes for him before he became a W toady.
9. Most hated artist: don’t know.
10. Most hated book: Don’t know. That said, the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament is often troubling. Oh, and related, I JUST discovered Mr. Frog’s The Bible Summarized By A Smartass from a couple years ago. Example from Genesis 22: “Abraham walks up the mountain and knifes his kid. Except that God jumps out of the bushes at the last second, probably laughing and pointing. ‘Oh, dude, you were totally going to do it! You were! You should see your face, man! You’ve just been Punk’d!'”
11. Most hated shop: Wal-Mart. Beyond the politics of the place, I had a really lousy experience there when I first shopped there in 1994, and haven’t been back since except with someone else.
12. Most hated organization: Ku Klux Klan, which is still out there, trust me.
13. Most hated historical event: Dred Scott decision, US Supreme Court, 1857.
14. Most hated sport: NASCAR, I suppose. I tried watching it, and unless there’s, Allah forbid, an accident, it’s pretty boring.
15. Most hated piece of technology: The cell phone. The expectation that one can be accessed 24/7. The fact that people drive poorly when talking on them, even the hands-free ones. The fact that I hear too much of other people’s lives when they use them.
16. Most hated annual event: Cinco de Mayo. Pointless drinking.
17. Most hated daily task: Flossing. I swear the gaps in my teeth on the right side of my mouth are far smaller than on the left side, and it’s a PITA.
18. Most hated comedian: never got the Three Stooges.

And now the love.

1. Most loved food: spinach lasagna.
2. Most loved person: The wife or the daughter.
3. Most loved job: working at FantaCo from 1981-1986; but I was there from 1980-1988. So overall, I’ll say being a librarian at the NYS Small Business Development Center.
4. Most loved city: Montreal. U.S. city: San Francisco.
5. Most loved band: The Beatles.
6. Most loved web site: I don’t know; maybe Evanier’s.
7. Most loved TV program: Current: Scrubs. Ever? The Dick van Dyke Show. HOF: JEOPARDY! Oh, and my wife is watching 30 Rock faster than I am. BTW, I just came across a piece on how 30 Rock is a rip off of the Muppet Show
8. Most loved movie: Annie Hall. It’s been a linchpin.
9. Most loved artist: Auguste Rodin. First time I actually saw a Rodin sculpture in person, rather than in photos – probably in Boston – it was heaven.
10. Most loved book: Top Pop Albums by Joel Whitburn. Oh, something with a narrative? Henri J. M. Nouwen’s Here and Now: Living in the Spirit.
11. Most loved shop: Before I worked there, FantaCo.
12. Most loved organization: American Red Cross.
13. Most loved historical event: the resignation of Richard Nixon.
14. Most loved sport: baseball.
15. Most loved piece of technology: DVR
16. Most loved annual event: my birthday. I take it off from work.
17. Most loved daily task: racquetball.
18. Most loved comedian: Bill Cosby in the 1960s. Have five of his albums that I haven’t played in years, but there are whole bits I can still hear and recite from memory.


Julie Hembeck Turns 18

One of the great pleasures I’ve had as a result of reigniting my friendship with Fred Hembeck and his wife Lynn Moss was getting to know their daughter Julie. From an awkward 15-year-old teenager to a beautiful 18-year-old young lady, she has blossomed in her confidence as well as her artistic eye. She will be going to college next month in New York State, but about four hours from home, compared with a couple colleges she looked at right in the Mid-Hudson that were only about an hour’s drive. So Fred and Lynn have to cope with being empty-nesters.

In fact, Leonard Bernstein, who would have been 90 today, discusses and plays the Ode for Joy, just for Julie:

And speaking of the Hembecks, Carol, Lydia and I made our annual trek to their chateau earlier this month. As usual, Fred and I blathered about what we’ve later described as unincapsulable. I know we talked about FantaCo, Regis Philbin, and Fred’s new book. But the conversation tended to flit from subject to subject.

He, our wives and I also had a philosophical conversation about blogging. My wife chastised me for me saying that she should look at my blog, rather than me having to explain what I had written. I noted that it isn’t just the information in the blog that I was trying to convey but the style and manner in which I said it. So to give a Cliff’s Notes version of it wouldn’t do it justice.

Fred ragged on me when he discovered that I had watched on the Internet the last 10 minutes of “There Shall Be Blood.” About every 10 minutes he would find some parallel slapdown to give me, ending with “Oh I suppose you listened to/read/watched/ saw the last 10 minutes of THAT,” no matter what it was. He even got my beloved wife to join in the fun. I had a good time anyway, with Lynn’s vegetarian dinner a highlight of the day.
Another satisfied Fred Hembeck customer.

Hembeck is 55

Fred turns 55 today, that wonderful time of the year when he’s older than I for about five weeks. The interview I did with him, which I posted a few days ago was only the first half. Unfortunately, technological difficulties precluded getting the second part. But since I still have the questions written, I’m going to piece this together based entirely on my recollection of a conversation ten days ago, and hope for the best.

I asked him about his comic influences: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the original team on Spider-Man; his recently expressed love of Lee/Kirby circa 1964; how he came to DCs first, and he told some wonderful tales, none of which I can summarize properly. Since he’s not reading new comics heavily, he doesn’t have strong opinions about the Brand New Day reboot of Spider-Man, with Peter as a single guy, Harry is back, etc., although, for most of Fred’s reading of the character, Peter IS single, so it doesn’t bother him much.

Fred is indeed a member of the Bing Crosby fan club. “Probably among the youngest members when you joined,” I opined. Apparently his wife Lynn had said something similar. He first noted Der Bingle in those Hope/Crosby Road movies, and he thinks Hope is underrated as a singer, but that Crosby’s voice he really appreciated. I noted that he turned me on to an album that Bing did with the Andrews Sisters.

I asked, “You seem to have more than a passing interest in Soupy Sales. You even have an album of him singing pop songs. One is forced to ask the question why?” He laughed, noting that his love of Soupy came from watching him on NYC TV growing up.

He claims to be less obsessed with Jerry Lewis, although he still watching the Labor Day weekend telethons and will catch him in whatever dramatic roles he takes. (I recall a Law & Order franchise show that Fred had mentioned in a column.)

A couple years back, I gave Fred some slight grief over his youthful affection for Al Jolson. He noted that, at the time, pre-Beatles, he hated all things rock and roll, and that he was fascinated by just how huge Jolson was, to have two movies of his life story, one played by Jolson himself and one by Larry Parks. (Sidebar: there was a video clue of Parks mimicking someone, not in blackface, in a video clue on the second day I was on JEOPARDY; I got that it was Jolson.) No, Fred has not seen the recent movie The Savages, where Jolson figures into the storyline.

I asked what old movies did he grow up watching that he thought most affected his sensibilities now. He demurred, saying that it was more old television that helped turn him into the man he is. He specifically mentioned Sgt. Bilko, and I almost asked him about Allan Melvin, who had died, but that Fred had not yet written about; he has subsequently. We talked about our shared affection for the Dick van Dyke Show, of which he’s watched all five seasons on DVD AND has been reading a book about it. He needs to blog on how well it’s held up. He professes that Car 54 Where Are You was a much better show than The Munsters, though they shared actor Al (Grandpa) Lewis.

His affection for Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys is legendary. I made him record the Kennedy Center Honors segment on Brian. He’s glad, because he was touched, especially by Lyle Lovett’s singing, surprising to him because he’s not such a Lyle fan, though he knows I am. He was less impressed with Hootie and the Blowfish, who he though had broken up anyway. Always interesting to see Brian looking uncomfortable, we agreed.

I asked him what was about the Beach Boys and Brian’s solo work that he finds so appealing. He wished he were more versed in music terminology so that he could answer that better.

I noted that we’re both Beatles’ fans, but he leans towards Paul, Brian Wilson’s near twin, while I tended toward John. Fred clarified that, up to Rubber Soul or so, it was about even, and perhaps he was leaning a little towards John, before Paul took over. He noted John’s near-absence on Revolver, which, of course, would have been the American version that Capitol Records had butchered. Yes, he was you watching Sullivan on February of 1964, and that was a transformative time in his life. He has seen both Paul and Ringo live.

He’s gone through phases of music, which has involved everyone from Lesley Gore to Michael Jackson to Nellie McKay.

Fred has gotten over last season’s colossal collapse by the New York Mets.

I went on to some personal stuff. He was born an only child of parents who were a bit older than his friends’ parents. His father was 50, his mother 39. I noted that they were YOUNGER than I was when Carol and I had our daughter Lydia. He grew up on Long Island, in Yaphank, but went to college in Buffalo, where he met Lynn Moss. He spent a time in the Kingston/Woodstock area. Then he came to the Capital District when Lynn went to RPI. I had thought that was when he started hanging out with the FantaCo folks, even me. In fact, he had met Mitch Cohn in Kingston. He recalled that he had only known Mitch for a couple weeks before Fred and Lynn got married, so he didn’t invite Mitch to the ceremony. They did invite people they soon lost track of, but Mitch was someone Fred especially would know for several years thereafter.

When Fred and Lynn moved downstate, I lost track of them. Somehow, probably through Rocco Nigro, I did know that they had a baby girl, Julie, who’s now 17, and getting ready for college. She has her first serious boyfriend, and I wondered if it messed with that strong father-daughter bond I’ve seen them have. He explained that he likes Julie’s boyfriend quite a bit.

I asked about some friendships he developed in the comics field. I think I heard from Rocco that Fred had turned Terry Austin from a Luddite to a technological wizard. Fred noted several names, including Joe Staton, Joe Sinnott and Professor Herb Trimpe, but there may have been others.

One day in October 2004, I ran into Rocco, and he said to me, “Have you seen Fred’s website?” Of course, I hadn’t. Hembeck, of Germain origin, is an unusual enough name that when he registered, it was available. I asked him, “What was the goal when you started the site and how has that evolved?” Don’t recall the answer to the latter part, but as to the former, he wanted to be all things to all comics and comics-related people, which I sensed almost immediately when I saw his list of links. When I discovered, I e-mailed Fred and he e-mailed me back. And I got a little obsessed with his site, as I sent Fred a SERIES of e-mails noting broken links on his prodigious links page. And, we recalled, I gave Fred a couple of blog ideas, one on Herb Alpert’s 70th birthday and another about those variation on album covers site.

“Ultimately, I thought I had enough ideas that I thought I could have my own blog. So, it’s YOUR FAULT, F
red Hembeck, for getting me to blog, curse you!” He just laughed.

Fred has a MySpace page where he actually get comments for some of the stuff he republishes from He also has The Fred Hembeck Show, which started on IGN and is now on Quick Stop Entertainment. Ken Plume brought Fred to IGN, so when Ken left, and Peter Sanderson as well, Fred followed.

That column was interrupted by the book, but now he’s back at it. It used to be a weekly, but now he’s re-examining what he should be doing there that he isn’t doing at his home site. So recently, he’s been doing strips that, one day, can be gathered for a collection.

My family’s been to the Hembeck palatial estate three years running now. I think the first year, Fred and I unintentionally seemed to be speaking in code and said, “Oh, yeah, I wrote about it on my blog” about a dozen times. Drove my wife crazy. I noted that Fred’s wife is more likely to read my blog than my wife is, and that I’ve learned to accept that.

So, that, in peculiar summary form, was the second part of the interview. Happy birthday, old man. Let me know what double nickel is like.

[PHOTOS: Various combinations of Lydia, Carol (in the red) and me visiting Fred, Lynn (in the white) and Julie (in the blue), August 2007, all taken by me, except the one I’m in, taken by Julie. Discovered perhaps a week ago.]

What Hast Moss Wrought

Lynn Moss, the wife of Fred Hembeck, has posted pictures of the second FantaCon back in 1980, before she WAS the wife of Fred Hembeck, if I’m remembering correctly. (EDIT: I wasn’t remembering correctly: they were married the year before.) The convention was put on by FantaCo Enterprises, the comic book store I worked at from 1980 to 1988. The pictures feature Fred, Lynn, Bill Anderson, Joe Staton, Wendy and Richard Pini, Dave Simons, and John Caldwell, plus FantaCo artist/front man Raoul Vezina, FantaCo employee Mitch Cohn and FantaCo owner Tom Skulan. The pictures also feature the “art jam” drawing done by Fred, Raoul, Wendy Pini, Berni Wrightson, Jeff Jones, Simons, Caldwell, and Staton, a drawing Fred described on November 28, 2003.

BTW, 21 Central Avenue, Albany, which was FantaCo’s location for its 20 years, has been several things in the years since it closed in 1998. Currently it’s a bazzar (their spelling), a convenience store that sells halal meats and other items.
R: You really ought to plug Fred’s upcoming book again.
R: Well, I have all of those FantaCo publications in the Smilin’ Ed and Hembeck series. In fact, just came across them in the attic this weekend.
R: Yeah, but there’s over 600 MORE pages, some of which you’ve never seen.
R: Really?
R: Yeah, and all for about $25.
R: WOW! But I need a new angle.
R: How’s that?
R: I need a new way to plug the book again.
R: How about the cover, with the color scheme they chose NOT to use?

R: That’d work.
A bunch of Jack Kirby stories that have allegedly never been reprinted. (Thanks, Dan.)
Fred and Rose talk about commerce, of a sort.


Interview by Dymowski

Gordon writes: As promised, here are my five interview questions for your blog.

1) You’ve discussed Rod Serling multiple times on your blog. My question – what are your favorite Serling-written pieces? (You can pull from anywhere – the Playhouse 90 stuff, Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, et al)

There were some pre-Twilight Zone pieces, and maybe a Night Gallery or two, but I think I’ll stick with Twilight Zone, because there were so many:
“Time Enough at Last” with Burgess Meredith as a man after a nuclear war with time enough to read (finally!), but then who breaks his glasses.
“The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” with Claude Akins and Jack Weston. The power goes out. Is it the aliens? It turns out the monsters are ourselves. For some reason, in some ways, reminds me of an old EC comics story about the guy who is not saluting the flag, so the crowd beats him to death, figuring he’s a Commie, when, in fact, he lost his sight fighting in the war on our side.
“It’s a Good Life” with Billy Mumy as a very scary, and powerful, kid.
“A Game of Pool” with Jack Klugman, playing the game of, and for, his life.
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” with William Shatner. Is there something on the wing of the airplane, or is he crazy? This segment also appears in the Twilight Zone movie, perhaps to lesser effect.
I’m sure there are others: “The Dummy”, “To Serve Man”. There’s one, Little Girl Lost, with a kid going under the bed and ending up in another dimension, that TERRIFIED me in the day. I must also mention “Walking Distance”, that DOES have a carousel that reminds me of Rec Park in Binghamton. There was a segment, Nightmare as a Child, that was also in the Twilight Zone movie; I laughed out loud when I saw it at movie’s world premiere in Binghamton, because it namechecked Helen Foley, his favorite teacher and one of mine, who was in the audience at the time.
BTW, Gordon sent me this link to a bunch of “The Twilight Zone” TV Bumpers; here’s a definition of a bumper. Lots of them are for cigarette ads, especially early on; tobacco killed Rod Serling far too young. Oh, the picture above was purloined from here; when IS that museum going to open?

2) As a relatively new father, what aspect of parenting – or your daughter’s future – are you a little concerned about? Any adjustments that you think you will have to make?

There is always a balancing act between letting her do as much as she wants and making sure she doesn’t get hurt or frustrated or spoiled. She tends to be wary of strangers, which has its good and not-so-good elements. The world can be scary, and I want her to be cautious without being paranoid. It’s a fine line, that.

3) Does your local public library have a summer reading program? And if so, do you participate?

Yes, and as a matter of fact, as a member of the Friends of the Albany Public Library has authorized money to subsidize the program. Do I participate myself? No, but I’m sure we will in the future.

4) What strange, hidden secret of Fred Hembeck do you think the comics-reading public should know?

Interesting. I saw Fred, his wife Lynn, and daughter Julie just yesterday. He is a piler. He has piles of stuff. Reference materials for his blog here, reference materials for his cover redoes there. His Superman DVDs under those for Gilmore Girls. It’s not messy, exactly; it’s rather organized chaos.

5) What is your all-time favorite book?

I once said the World Almanac, and it’s probably true, or maybe one of those Billboard singles or album books. But if you’re talking about books with actual paragraphs, O Albany! by William Kennedy. I know this is sacrilege, but I’ve never gotten through any of Bill Kennedy’s Albany-based fiction, and I’ve tried. But I enjoyed his non-fiction piece. Favorite fiction, and I read very little these days: A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.


The QUESTION of Culcha

This is, mais oui, Bastille Day. Even though I was really bad at it, I liked taking French in high school, because I loved the sound of the language. Even words that have entered the English language please me just hearing them. Rendezvous. Reconnaissance. Boulevard. Chandelier.

I’m not a snob about it, but I tend to like French wine, French bread. I’m inclined to see the current movie La Vie En Rose because it features French chanteuse Edith Piaf.

I guess I never understood the antipathy towards France in the lead-up to the Iraq war. After all, the country was supportive of us going into Afghanistan. On 9/12/2001, the front page of Le Monde was “We are all Americans”.

Usually, the argument was that the US “saved their bacon” in WWII. But there might not have been a US if it weren’t for the French support during the American Revolution, a friendship once so rich that they gave us a nice little statue in New York harbor. And the antipathy was far greater towards France than towards Germany or Canada. It wasn’t just the right wing radio pushing for “freedom fries”, it was the right-wing members of Congress. I went to a conference in the fall of 2003 and actually found myself defending the French position on the war at a time that it was not so popular to do.

Oh, and here’s something else I never understood. If one says, red, white and blue, the assumption is that we’re talking about the US flag. But the French flag, and the British, and the Norwegian flag, for that matter, are all that same set of colors, so why is it assumed that we’re talking about the American flag?

Anyway, please let me know:
Are there cultures, languages, cuisine, art that you just LOVE? And why? How is this manifested? If you had the means, would you want to travel to that country? (Yes, I would like to go to France.) Conversely, are there cultures that irritate the heck out of you, and why?
And speaking of culture, today is the birthday of one Lynn Moss. I know it’s a cliche to say “his better half”, but I’ve MET Fred Hembeck. (Just funning with you, effendi!)


The Great 28

Twenty-eight years ago today, Lynn Moss made an honest man out of Fred Hembeck, a story he’s written about here (June 23), here (June 23), here, and ESPECIALLY here. Kudos to you both. Go to Fred’s MySpace blog and send them your best wishes.
And speaking of Mr. Hembeck, he e-mailed to remind me that Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Olivia are set to appear on Larry King’s CNN show June 26 (9 pm Eastern, 8pm Central) to discuss the first anniversary of Cirque de Soleil’s Fab-inspired “Love” show. Incidentally, my wife went to the Cirque de Soleil show “Delirium” this week in Albany with a friend of hers, while I stayed home with Lydia. She said it was very good, but that she needed to watch some more MTV or something, because of all the frenetic movement.
The other music-related thing I’ll be taping this week is “Paul Simon: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song”. On my local PBS station, it airs Wednesday at 9 pm, and features a bunch of folks singing the songs of Simon. It was taped last month.
I’ve never golfed in my life, yet I was intrigued by last weekend’s piece in the Wall Street Journal, The Problem With ‘Par’; If players at this weekend’s U.S. Open can’t hit the target score, who can? by John Paul Newport (June 16, 2007). Specifically, this paragraph:
“The notion of par has always been somewhat mushy, and is further confused by the word’s other English-language usages. In most PGA Tour events, for instance, subpar scores are par for the course. Unless, of course, a pro is feeling physically subpar, in which case he might shoot above par. On the other hand, only amateurs with decidedly above-par skills can ever hope to post subpar scores.”
If I lived in the Los Angeles area, I think I would apply for this job out of sheer curiosity:

The following position is available at E! Networks:
Job Title: Researcher
Organization: Research
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Full-time position with benefits providing research, public records and ready reference.

Description: Provide entertainment research in support of all Comcast Entertainment Group units (E!, Style, G4, E! Online, International) including the following:
* Supply in-depth story and background research to assist writers and production staff.
* Locate court documents for legal backup.
* Access public records to locate individuals and track assets.
* Review copyright and trademark records to establish ownership and locate rights holders.
* Answer “ready reference” questions.
* Vet scripts for accuracy and perform fact checking.
* Help maintain both conventional and digital archives and databases.
Skills: College degree required; experience working in a library, archive or research setting; excellent organizational skills; extensive understanding of online databases, particularly Lexis/Nexis; excellent writing, spelling and grammatical skills; ability to work well under pressure; interest or experience working in the entertainment field a plus.
E! Networks is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.

Contact Gina Handsberry at E! Entertainment. Please direct all inquiries to her at She writes, on a listserv I access:
“This is not a media research position (i.e., we do not analyze Nielsen data). Rather, it is a show research position (we provide content research for the programs on the network) and would be well suited for a librarian, information professional, or anyone who has experience doing research for journalistic endeavors. It’s not an easy position to fill, so I thought a post here couldn’t hurt!”

My Dinner with Hembecks

I’m pretty sure it started with a March 2 e-mail from Fred Hembeck to me and to our mutual friend Rocco, who also lives in Albany: “Lynn (Moss, Fred’s wife) just informed me that Sean Lennon is going to be performing at the Egg on Tuesday, April 10th–tickets are currently being offered to Egg members only (only fair that Egg men have the advantage when it comes to a Lennon, I suppose…), but the general public get their chance starting on March 12th. Seeing as how tickets are going for only $24–and that Sean’s new album has gotten mostly positive reviews (I haven’t gotten a copy yet, tho when I saw him on Conan about a month or so back, I was pretty impressed by his performance–and I WILL be getting a copy soon, given the new set of circumstances), we’re thinking about driving up to see the concert. Hey, it’s either this, or Zak Starkey and his band, and Who tickets are way more expensive! As you fellows–and your lady friends–actually live in Albany, I thought I’d check in with you and see if either of you have any potential interest in joining us?”

We mulled it over. Rocco evidently decided against, and my wife was likewise disinclined, as she hadn’t heard any of his music. Well, I hadn’t heard any of his music either, except for It’s Alright, when he appeared on an album of cover versions of his mother’s songs called Every Man Has a Woman.

But if Fred, Lynn, and their daughter Julie were going to drive a couple hours to Albany to see Sean, how could I say no? (Fred and I discussed this later: the fact that THEY initiated the activity made it easier to go without Carol. I wouldn’t have considered inviting them up, for logistical reasons having to do with the child, but since they were coming up anyway…)

So, they ordered the tickets, and then Fred sent me copies of both of Sean’s albums. I discovered that I liked them both quite a bit, though some of the lyrics were a bit of a downer, I thought.

So, now I’m psyched, Fred and Lynn are psyched, Julie’s psyched.

Next order of business was to figure out the logistics. They would pick me up from work (faster than the irregular bus service from Corporate Woods), and we would go out to dinner. The initial request was for a place with a decent vegetarian menu, but was later modified to a vegan place, for Julie’s gone vegan.

On the day of the show, Fred writes: We’ll leave here at 3:15.
We’ll call you on Julie’s cell phone when we arrive!
We’ll eat!!
We’ll go to the concert!!!

I get picked up, and I hear the dulcet tones of Rod Stewart, Julie’s current obsession. At least it was Rod back he was good. We eat at Mamoun’s Falafel, which was satisfying to all. We drive to the Egg. (The Albanian forgets the fastest approach to the underground parking, and we go on a mild excursion.)

We get to the concert. Our seats are in the fourth row, not too from the center aisle. This is a very intimate setting to see a show. The great thing about the Egg is that there aren’t many really bad seats. But we had an excellent location, about 30 feet from at least one performer in every set.

First up is Kamila Thompson, daughter of the legendary Richard and Linda Thompson. She’s wearing this attractively funky outfit, a fairly short blue dress with some sort of red print, a black sweater, black Capri pants and light colored high heels (Pink? Peach? Hard to tell with the lighting). There were so many power chords all over the floor that I thought she might trip over something.

She had a quite lovely voice, though not all of her songs, mostly about love and loss, were all that compelling. They seemed a bit pedestrian. A few riffs on her pink guitar, which she did not, she assures us, get from Hello Kitty, were rather tasty. She wanted people to go to her MySpace page; one of her MySpace friends, BTW, is Sean Lennon, I later discovered.

After as short break, Women & Children came out. There was but one woman, Cheryl, who sounded as though she had a cold and/or allergies (I sympathize). Her voice, for some reason, reminded me a little of Marianne Faithfull, circa Broken English. She did one song with her at the keyboards, then a guy comes out to play bass on the next song; he eventually plays guitar. The first drummer ends up on bass, and a second drummer eventually appears. A reviewer described them as being like Velvet Underground, and I guess that’s accurate. The real problem is that no one wanted to hear them. One opening act was OK; two strained the patience of this largely middle-aged audience; it IS a work night. No fewer than three people I knew and saw during the second, fairly lengthy intermission said that W&C “sucked”; so did the Metroland reviewer. I didn’t think so, but the vocals were thin, and the 40-minute set seemed interminable.

Finally, there’s Sean and his band, all in suits, except for the woman on the keyboards, his musical director. I think that familiarity with his music helped my appreciation of the tunes. But as Sean acknowledged onstage, he knew that most of the people in that room had no idea what his music sounded like; while he never used the B word, he knew there were people there just because he was a “son of a Beatle”. I got the sense that he’s made peace with that. He introduced one song, and one woman near the front clapped; he dedicated the song to her.

Most of the songs he played early on sounded not unlike the albums, but as the show progressed, I heard some pleasant variations on the theme. He played at least one new song. Sean was very good, the band was tight, and it was an enjoyable experience.

Well, except for the one loudmouth somewhere near the back. Three or four times he shouted out stuff, and except for the first one, “Listen to What The Man Said!” (a McCartney tune! har, har!), it was incomprehensible to Sean and to me. Eventually, security people invited him to leave . Also, there were flash pictures being taken during Kamila’s set, after which a guy from the Egg asked that no more be shot, not just for legal reasons, but because at least one person in the audience was having a bad physical reaction to the strobelight effect of the flashes. I noticed none during W&C, but plenty during Sean’s set.

I’m sure Fred, when he gives his Rashomon version of the event for his Quick Step column next week, will describe a post-concert purchase.

They dropped me off, then headed off on their two-hour ride home. I’m tempted to say, “A splendid time was had by all,” but I’ll pass. Thanks to Fred, Lynn and Julie for the invitation.
Jackie Robinson played with the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time 60 years ago today.


Romeo, Romeo

Carol, Lydia, and I sojourned down to the Mid-Hudson valley a couple hours south of Albany for the weekend.

FRIDAY- If you’ve read the column at Frez Sez for August 9 – complete with (shudder), photographs (or should that be (shutter)?), you will already know what the first stop was: visiting Fred Hembeck and Lynn Moss! Given the fact that I have mentioned Fred in this blog any number of times, I may have failed to say that I probably haven’t SEEN him in the flesh since…well, I don’t know. I MAY have run into him at Midnight Comics in 1992, but even that would have been 13 years ago. And it was probably much longer.

Lynn, I’m almost certain that I haven’t seen since my FantaCo days, and that was 1988. If she wasn’t at the FantaCon that year, it might have even been 1983, the previous FantaCon and the year after they moved from Troy to the Mid-Hudson.

Of course, they haven’t met Carol or Lydia.

We arrived in the mid-afternoon (our goal was earlier, but ever since we had a child, we are, inexplicably, ALWAYS LATE.) We got to meet the famous Julie, one of the stars of Fred’s column Fred Sez. She’s bright and pleasant and a talented artist; the source of these skills is a puzzlement. (Kidding, Fred!) Unfortunately, MY child, Lydia, proceeded to move some things around, such as some models for some still life; I hope Julie forgives.

Lydia was infinitely interested in the bunny Romeo. She’s never seen such a creature, so she thoroughly enjoyed petting the rabbit.

I should note that a couple days before, I get this lengthy e-mail from Fred describing the disarray of his abode. It was not as bad as he made it sound, and was a lot neater than places I lived pre-Carol. It was, as someone I knew called it, “lived in,” particularly the area where Fred creates his artistic magic. I recognized some of the comics pulled out for his recent writings (Dr. Graves, Little Dot).

Early on, Carol and Lynn discover that Lynn knows Carol’s brother Dan from work!

As Fred wrote, one of the peculiar aspects of parts of the conversation was that I would say something, and often Fred and/or Lynn would say, “Oh, yeah, you mentioned that in your blog.” Fred would make a comment and I’d cite Fred’s even longer body of electronic musings. Fortunately, we DID have things to talk about that we hadn’t written about, and since Carol doesn’t often read my blog and I doubt EVER reads Fred’s (sorry, guy), it was all new to her.

Since Fred and Lynn have a nearly 15-year old (birthday the same month as Michael Jackson, her former musical hero – now she’s into Pink Floyd), the house isn’t what you called babyproof, so Carol & I took turns chasing around Lydia lest she tumble down the couple steps into the living room or den. Lydia seemed to love going around and around and around…

Fred dropped off Julie at a friend’s house. Later we had a lovely lasagna dinner prepared by Lynn. Afterwards, the storm that had come through passed and we went into the pool.

My favorite conversation with Fred took place then. It was a lot of pop culture references for which we could use verbal shorthand. In fact, the BEST part was when we discussed…oh, wait, I can’t talk about THAT. Fred is going to use it for his blog! It has to do with entertainment, but not comic books.

Then I got to go to THE BASEMENT, where rows of comics and comic-related material resided, some stacked quite neatly. But the man needs more shelves!

We had a wonderful time but needed to leave to go to our hotel room near Poughkeepsie and put the child to bed.

SATURDAY: We went to a swimming party at Darla’s in Pleasant Valley. This was a group of old friends, some of which I’d known since college, and the rest were connected to my college buds. Lydia was fascinated by the cat, also named Romeo, but the feline just ran away. Lots of good food. A mellow time.

SUNDAY: We left the hotel and drove over to my college town of New Paltz. Well, the place has a NP mailing address, but is actually closer to Rifton. In any case, I visited my friends Mark and Paula. They were at the party yesterday but arrived late, and we didn’t have much of a chance to talk with them then. Mark is one of the few people I can tell you the date I met him: September 12, 1971, the first day of college. We’ve been friends ever since. He’s the one who got me into comic books. Paula is his high school sweetheart. They went their separate ways after high school, but got back together in the early 1990s and got married. They have a 10-year old daughter Adrienne.

We had lunch, and the talk old friends have. I nagged Mark into seriously thinking about a blog (he’s a lot more opinionated than I), and suggested possible topics for it.

We drove home, happy to have experienced the trip, and happy to be home (except that, apparently, the power had gone out AGAIN…)

"Dorothy", Part 2

Back on June 1, I did this summary column of all the things that I had learned in a month of blogging. The title above comes from “What Have You Learned, Dorothy?” from The Wizard of Oz (1939). That quote did NOT make the AFI’s top 400 quotes, though six Oz quotes did, let alone the Top 100 movie quotes (3 Oz gems.) I’ve liked this quote because of the delivery by Glinda (Billie Burke) of the word LEARNED.

I’ve LEARNED that I have nothing to say about the new War of the Worlds movie opening this week, even though it was partially filmed in Athens, NY, near here, except to say that I LOVE it when a big film hits a small town; it seems to really enhance the collective ego of the place. I especially have nothing to say about Tom and Katie.

I wrote about identity theft on June 10, but the worst was yet to come. The story about the breach in security that put 40 million credit cards at risk comes out. So, what’s the advice we get? “Be vigilant.” Check your statements for unauthorized expenditures, and whatnot.
I’ve LEARNED that I’m feeling TIRED of being “vigilant”. Watching for the next terrorist/shark attack/industrial disease/assault on civil liberties/illegal incursion is exhausting enough. But having to be wary of the faceless interlocking conglomerate that seems to know more about me than I do makes me want to take all of my money and stuff it under my pillow. But if everyone did THAT, I’ve been told, it would wreck this economy.

Speaking of money, I’ve LEARNED that when I need 75 cents for a vending machine, little is more frustrating than having two quarters, two dimes and 13 pennies.

I’ve LEARNED that throwing money at a problem is a lot easier that changing hearts. This is why Bob Geldof’s Live 8 concerts tomorrow is much more remarkable than the Live Aid concerts two decades ago. Sir Bob is trying to make a systemic change in the attitudes and policies of the G8 nations towards the poorer nations, such as those in Africa.

I’ve LEARNED that Heather Mills McCartney (that’s the wife of Sir Paul) visited “Philip” and “addressed his worry and fears, and counseled him about living life as an amputee” on the June 29 episode of the NBC soap Days of Our Lives, and she is expected to appear once more, on the July 4 show. If she hasn’t already, expect her to talk about Adopt a Minefield, a topic close to her heart.

Burning the flag was my Flag Day message. So, of course, the House subsequently passes an amendment that would allow Congress the right to pass a law banning flag-burning. It still has to pass the Senate and then pass muster in 38 states. I’ve LEARNED that some legislation just seems to have a life of its own.

I’ve LEARNED that it is Canada Day and I had to LOOK UP the name of the Prime Minister. It may be conjecture on my part, but I’m guessing that most Canadians can name the U.S. President.

I’ve LEARNED that I can scoop even intrepid writers like Fred Hembeck (June 23).

I’ve LEARNED that Lynn Moss, who I had immortalized on this page recently, is amazingly clever. She figured out the hotel problem in the last episode of the Jeopardy! story was Bill Clinton! My, that Julie has bright parents!

I’ve LEARNED how to link to a single entry on my blog, although not everyone else’s.

I’ve LEARNED that at least two of my sister Leslie’s friends are reading this blog.

I’ve LEARNED that my cholesterol is down from 204 last June to 176 this June. I’d like to say it was diet and exercise, so I will: bad diet and lack of exercise. But no pharmaceuticals.

I’ve LEARNED that Lydia is 23 pounds (50th percentile) and 33 inches (70th percentile), as of yesterday.

I’ve LEARNED that I am even more evil than Hemby in getting people to start blogs, like I did to my poor friend Lori, and I will continue to do so. Nothing will stop me. HEH, HEH, HEH!