Category Archives: Mark Evanier

Behind the Curve

Partially because I deigned to watch football the last three weekends and partially because I have the annoying habit of taking on more stuff than I’m comfortable with, I’m behind in watching stuff on TV, reading the paper, etc.

That two-hour Haiti special, the album for which is the first #1 album that exists without an actual physical product? Haven’t watched it.

The State of the Union – read the reviews, but not heard the actual address. The chat Obama had with Republicans that went so well for the President that FOX News stopped showing it 20 minutes in – plenty of places to read it or watch it, including here but hasn’t happened yet. Still, I think Evanier’s right when he notes: Once you tell your constituents that everything Obama does is evil, you can’t meet him halfway on anything without appearing to be compromising with evil. You can’t even support him when he does things you like. I think that’s a lot of our problem right there.

Of course, being behind has its benefits. After Martha Coakley lost to Scott Brown in the Massachusetts race for US Senate, there’s been this revisionist message that the Democrats only dumped on her because she lost. Watching the Sunday morning talk shows two and nine days before that election, it was clear that the Democrats, though muted in their criticism – she was still their candidate – suggested that she did not run the robust campaign she ought to have. Yes, in answer to her rhetorical question, you DO pass out fliers in front of Fenway Park.

Some stories I missed altogether, such as the death of Pernell Roberts, the eldest son on Bonanza who later became, in some bizarro world spinoff, Trapper John in the CBS drama Trapper John, MD. It was not a great show, though it was the jumping off point for now-Broadway legend Brian Stokes Mitchell.

I plowed through a couple weeks of the Wall Street Journal and came across this story of Scarlett Johansson’s debut on Broadway as well as a very positive review of “Gregory Mosher’s revival of ‘A View From the Bridge, Arthur Miller’s
1955 play about love and death on the Brooklyn waterfront.” “Of course you’ll be wondering about Ms. Johansson, whose Broadway debut this is, and I can tell you all you need to know in a sentence: She is so completely submerged in her role that you could easily fail to spot her when she makes her first entrance. You’d never guess that she hasn’t acted on a stage since she was a little girl.”

Other stories I just didn’t know what to say. I noticed that Kate McGarrigle of the singing/songwriting McGarrigle Sisters, and also mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright, died of cancer at the age of 62 back on January 18. The best I could come with is a link to an obituary for Kate written by her sister Anna. I was listening to Trio, an album by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris this week. There’s a Kate song called I’ve Had Enough, about lost love, but feels right here.

Love it’s not I who didn’t try
Hard enough, hard enough
And this is why I’m saying goodbye
I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough
Love you don’t see
The pain in me
That’s plain enough, plain enough
You’re never here to catch the tears
I cried for us, I cried for us

I’ll take my share but I’ll be fair
There’s not much stuff
Easy enough
And if you choose I’ll break the news
This part is tough, so very tough

I’ve tried and tried to put aside
The time to talk, but without luck
So I’ll just pin this note within your coat
And leave the garden gate unlocked

And this is why I’m saying goodbye
I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough

Her funeral is today in Montreal.

Little Boxes theme from Weeds by the McGarrigle Sisters.

ROG

The Concert Suit

As much as as I hate buying clothes generally, I REALLY hate buying suits. All that measuring, especially when the body trends poorly compared with the previous time I bought a suit, which it did. The harsh lights and the three-sided, full-length mirrors don’t help.

The other bad thing about buying a suit is that I end up spending too much. I’ve gotten myself to the place, and I’m buying one (expensive) suit; why not two, especially when the second is free, except for the alterations? And while I’m at it, how about some new shirts, which are buy one, get one at 50% off? Oh, and new ties to go along with them? And I DO need a better coat for winter. At the end of the excursion, I experience massive sticker shock and don’t buy any suits, or much of anything else clothing-wise for the next two or three years.

The initiation of this shopping spree is this event:

We received information about the dress code for the performance a week ago Sunday. And I own ZERO black suits, and only one white shirt that’s probably too tight. So this past Saturday evening, the wife, the daughter and I went shopping.

And I’ve felt lousy ever since.

Initially, I thought it was just exhaustion that sent me to bed at 8:30 Saturday night, but now I’m thinking it’s some sort of sinusitis and/or allergies flaring up. But what caused the truly horrific insomnia I got Sunday night, so much so that my eyes burned on Monday morning? Probably consuming the cheese and crackers I ate after the Sunday night rehearsal.

But more basically, I think it was a week without riding the bicycle or playing racquetball. When I got to do both on Monday, I got surges of energy that I’d been lacking lately, though I was more stuffed up yesterday.

So no, I can’t blame any of it on shopping for suits, unfortunately.
***
Monday night, I did go to the marriage equality rally. The State Senate was supposed to take up the legislation the next day. So the chant was, “What do we want?” “Marriage equality!” “When do we want it?” “Tomorrow!” Tomorrow? I mean, yes, literally, the next day when the vote was due, but “tomorrow” has such lousy scansion; having been to lots of rallies, I’m a big fan of “NOW!”

In any case, the state legislature didn’t vote on much of anything Tuesday, and they won’t be meeting again until next week. I DO think that the position of at least Republican state senator I saw on TV Tuesday night – that the government can’t deal with ANYTHING else until it deals with the budget deficit – is totally bogus. Truth is, balancing the budget will be a long, arduous process that may take weeks; gay marriage can be achieved with one vote in one house, as the State Assembly has already passed a bill. Twice.

Speaking of which: Via Mark Evanier – Shelly Goldstein on stupid, callous, homophobic hateful legislation. Julie Andrews couldn’t do any better.
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I found out in Hispanic Business, of all places, that Glenn Beck Lost His Lawsuit Over A Controversial Domain Name
Fox TV host Glenn Beck has lost a suit he filed against the creator of a satirical Web site spreading a rumor that even the site itself admitted was false: Beck raped and murdered a girl in 1990. Although he lost the case, Beck still received the domain name he sought, but not because the arbitrator awarded it to him. Rather, the man who established the site gave it to Beck himself — but not without getting in a good parting shot. And the REAL kicker is that the guy has kept the CONTENT of the site up at http://gb1990.com/. That’s GB, as in Glenn Beck, 1990 (dot) com.

It’s a nasty little site, but then again, Glenn Beck is a nasty little man. It is also one of those First Amendment issues people love to hate. My reactions is a mix of mild discomfort with a whole lot of schadenfreude.
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Chances Are Profanity Was Intentionally Encoded in Text of Schwarzenegger’s Veto. As though you had any doubt.

ROG

The Random Dozen Meme

I’m Sunday Stealing again:

1. When you go to Wowmart, what one thing do you get every single time, besides a funky-wheeled squeaking cart full of frustration?

The heebie-jeebies. Since I never go there on my own, only with other people, usually those with whom I am related, I find that it’s almost like suffocating.

2. What is something that people are currently “into” that you just don’t get or appreciate?

Probably a reality show that I haven’t even heard of. I mean I never knew about Jon and Kate until their marriage went south, and now I hear about them ALL OF THE TIME. Oh, I know something else: Twilight. All I know about it is what I read in other people’s blogs, none of it complimentary.

3. What is something that really hoists your sail that other people might feel “ho-hum” about?

Racquetball, the sport of kings. And I actually like to watch tennis tournaments such as the U.S. open and Wimbledon.

4. Favorite song to sing in the shower or car?

Oh, there’s no singular favorite. It’s often affected by my mood or what I’ve been listening to. On the bike, though, it’s as often as not, “Keeping On Running” by the Spencer Davis Group; GREAT bass line.

5. A really great salad must have this ingredient:

Lettuce other than iceberg.

6. What advice in a nutshell would you give to new bloggers?

Write three days worth of stuff before you post your first item; otherwise, you’ll have tabula rasa every day.

7. What was the alternate name that your parents almost named you? Do you wish they had chosen it instead of the one they gave you?

Actually, I was always going to be Roger, and my sister Leslie was going to be Leslie. I think my mom was pushing for Margaret for the baby sister, but Marcia was the compromise.

8. What in your life are you waiting for?

Very little. I find that waiting for even the weekend tends to diminish the time I’m in presently in. If it’d Wednesday and I want it to be Friday would mean Wednesday and Thursday are not being honored.

9. You get a package in the mail. What is it, and who is it from?

From my sister Marcia. Something she’s passed on from my 18-year-old niece to my 5 year old daughter.

10. Today–what song represents you?

I’m So Tired by the Beatles.

11. What is one thing that blogging has taught you about yourself?

That I’m even more opinionated than I thought I was, and more disciplined.

12. How are you going to (or how did you) choose the clothes you’re wearing today?
What do they say about you in general or specifically how you’re feeling today?

Are they clean? Are they wrinkled? Do they vaguely match? Are they torn? If the answers are Yes, No, Yes, and Depends On Where And How Much, respectively, we’re good to go. It means that clothes have never been that important to me.
***
I should note the passing of Larry Gelbart, writer of the TV show M*A*S*H (which I watched religiously), co-creator of the Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (hilarious, even in a local production I saw), and co-writer of Tootsie (a film I enjoyed), among many other credits, going back to working with Sid Caesar. But I’ll just recommend this piece by Mark Evanier and also this one, which rightly points to this piece by Ken Levine.

ROG

W.W.C.T.G.Y.T.B.N.C.O.S.Y.A.O. Question

I think it was Mark Evanier who came up with the notion of the W.W.C.T.G.Y.T.B.N.C.O.S.Y.A.O. (the World Wide Conspiracy To Get You To Buy New Copies Of Stuff You Already Own). This is why I’m less than excited by the remastered Beatles music coming out 09/09/09.

I haven’t done this in a while, but last week, I went to the library, got five CDs and burned them. I’m totally unapologetic about it, too, because every single album I’ve not only purchased but still own in vinyl. Until I get around to buying one of those turntables that will convert vinyl to digital form – I saw one listed recently for a little over $100 – then I will keep at it.

So what is on my little foray this week?

Boston- Boston. Yes, THAT album with More than A Feeling, et al.
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – Deja Vu – with four writers, they worked hard to be equitable, with each getting two songs, Stills/Young getting one, and the other song a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock.
Devo- Q: Are We Not Men? A: We are Devo – features one of my all-time favorite covers, Satisfaction. Incidentally, I have a schlocky instrumental album of Devo songs, done by Devo.
The Guess Who- co-founded by Randy Bachman, who later founded Bachman-Turner Overdrive, it has some decent songs. But the one that most fascinated me when i first bought it was a song I did not know before, Hang On To Your Life, which ends with the stark parts of Psalm 22.
Neil Young – Harvest. I listened to this album a LOT in my college years.

I could only take out five at a time. So what was interesting to me was what I didn’t take this time:
Allman Brothers – Brothers and Sisters. I have a colleague who burns so much Allman music for me that I may have ODed on them.
John Lennon – Rock and Roll. I bought this album on December 9, 1980, the day after Lennon died; they were sold out of Double Fantasy by the time I got to the store (Just a song or strawberries) at lunchtime. This is an oddly unsatisfying album, one I didn’t listen to much at the time. Mayne I SHOULD revisit for that reason alone.
Pretenders – the first album. It was a double album with out takes and alternate versions; almost certainly for next time.
Van Halen – the ONLY Van Halen I’ve ever owned, which I probably got for Happy Trails.

Oh, the questions: how do you feel about buying things (DVD, CDs) that you already own (VCR tapes, LPs or cassettes)? Do you avoid them? Pick only the core stuff? Seek out compilations? (Most of my early CDs were greatest hits collections of artists I already owned heavily on vinyl, such as Billy Joel and Elton John.) Do you have a mechanism to convert to newer formats?
ROG

May Ramblin'

I was listening to one of the few podcasts I follow regularly, Coverville; highly recommended, BTW. Anyway, there is sometimes a segment at the end called Musically Challenged, in which a listener provides a quiz for Coverville host Brian Ibbott, and usually for Brian’s wife Tina. Lo and behold, the quiz for episode 574 was provided by Tosy and Cosh. Tosy was the one who turned me onto Coverville.

I had requested of Brian that he play a Pete Seeger cover in honor of Pete’s 90th birthday a couple weeks ago. Well, Brian didn’t play any Pete covers on May 3, but instead dedicated the whole next show to Seeger. My request for one song became the inspiration for the entire episode. I am pleased.
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A (weird) random conversation starter from Jaquandor.
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On June 6, 2009, in honor of the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s trip up the river that now bears his name, a musician will be playing the Mid-Hudson Bridge, the bridge that connects Poughkeepsie and Highland, near my college town of New Paltz. Not just playing ON the bridge, but actually playing the bridge as an instrument.
***
1981 Video Predicts The Death Of Print Newspapers.
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Mr. Frog reviews the warts-and-all complete history of Sesame Street. It includes discussion of this scene which always chokes me up:

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How to test your copyright knowledge.
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A couple television programs you should watch. They’ve already aired, but thanks to the Internet, they are easily retrievable.

One is Bill Moyers Journal of April 17. Bill interviews the executive producer of HBO’s critically-acclaimed show THE WIRE, David Simon who “talks…about inner-city crime and politics, storytelling and the future of journalism today.” I’ve never seen The Wire, but now I must watch it on DVD. But you don’t have to have watched that vaunted program to appreciate his insights.

The other is a two-part 60 Minutes report narrated by Lesley Stahl. In Part 1 she “reports on flaws in eyewitness testimony that are at the heart of the DNA exonerations of falsely convicted people like Ronald Cotton, who has now forgiven his accuser, Jennifer Thompson.” In Part 2, she “explores the task of an eyewitness to choose a criminal out of line up through memory. Jennifer Thompson falsely selected Ronald Cotton as her rapist.” Thompson and Cotton are now friends, and have co-written a book, Picking Cotton.
***
Dom Deluise as role model for Mark Evanier, of a sort.

ROG

April Ramblin'

I briefly attended that vigil for Binghamton yesterday. Would have stayed longer but for the fact that it was cold, occasionally rainy, and I had the child, who has been sick recently, in tow. She may not have understood the point of the gathering, attended by about 45, including Albany’s mayor (who, not incidentally is, running for re-election), but I still wanted her to be there. That event, along with the story in question, probably prompted this response from me.

THE best television newsperson to come out of the Capital District of New York State, Ed Dague, is in chronic pain. Touching story. I met him at least twice, which I should write about sometime, I reckon.

Greg finds legislation he just can’t get behind.

Gordon touts Robert Johnson, as well he should.

They are remastering the whole Beatles catalog. Given the fact that I’ve already bought it all about thrice (US LP, UK LP, CD), do I want to buy this AGAIN? No, yet the Past Masters package sounds annoyingly intriguing.

Ken Levine talks about Point of View, one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H. Did the TV show House steal it? Didn’t see the House ep, but I have my doubts.

15 free downloads to pep up your old PC, which I haven’t tried yet, but I figure if I post it, it’ll remind me.

I’m getting fairly obsessed with getting the Denver mint state quarters. All I need are Hawaii, Washington state, Missouri and, most problematic, Pennsylvania, the eldest. Oh, and the District of Columbia; just got the Philly mint version this week. Haven’t seen the Puerto Rico quarter yet.

My good buddy Steve Bissette discusses, in great deal, including 27 8 by 10 color glossies, Saga of the Swamp Thing #20, the transitional first issue by Alan Moore, John Totleman, and himself that starts off the neat book I just received.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Speaking of Swamp Thing, the co-creator of, and later Steve’s editor on, the title, coping as well as one can, given the circumstances, but there’s a movement afoot to replace the comics he wrote or edited and, to that end, for people to contribute to a Len Wein comics checklist. I always liked his work during my days of reading Marvel Comics.

So THAT’S what happened at the Albany Comic Show Sunday, before I got there.

ADD’s Eisner picks. I’ll take his word for it, since the only thing on the list I own is Mark Evanier’s Kirby book, though Coraline has been on back order for about a month.

Evanier tells A Story You Won’t Believe about Spike Jones.

I’m so pleased: Two weekends ago, we went to the in-laws for their 50th wedding anniversary. Last weekend was Lydia’s 5th birthday party at the State Museum. Next weekend is something else again. This coming weekend, Easter, the wife and her mother were trying to come up with a plan to get together. The final resolution – we’re all staying in our respective homes and resting; I mean we’ll go to church and all, but no travel. I for one am exhausted, and so is my wife, so this is a good thing.

Nik from Spatula Forum celebrates five years of blogging by talking about…

Arthur from AmeriNZ celebrates both his 100th blogpost and two years of podcasting.

ROG

The Year In Review: Mixed Media

As pop culture goes, my participation in same was pretty dismal. But I’m going to plod on and describe the highlights.

COMICS
Last month, the Comic Reporter asked its readers to “Name Five Memorable Comics-Related Things About 2008 (A Book You Read, An Experience You Had, An Event That Made You Take Notice — Anything That Would Help You In The Future Recall This Year.” I failed to participate there, but I will here.

1a. Fred Hembeck’s book came out, and I’m mentioned in the thank yous; I like seeing my name in print, what can I say? This also meant that I actually went to more comic-related shows (three) than I have in a while. At two of them, I saw Fred.
1b. At one of those shows, someone actually asked ME to sign some FantaCo Chronicles I worked on 25 years ago. What an ego boost!
1c. I also saw my friend Rocco Nigro, and re-met the inestimable Alan David Doane, who was probably an annoying teenager last I had seen him, rather than the charmer he is now.

2. Someone put out a Wikipedia page for FantaCo, a place I worked for 8.5 years, this summer. Frankly, the page was awful, riddled with errors and omissions. Fortunately, the guy contacted me, and it became the mission of mine and of my old buddy Steve Bissette to rectify the record; the thing is not perfect, but it’s a WHOLE lot better. The incident also gave me a chance to get in contact with former FantaCo owner Tom Skulan for the first time in nearly a decade.

3. Reading Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier. It explained a lot about Jack’s motivation the times I dealt with him on the phone in the early 1980s.

4. The deaths of Steve Gerber in 2008, who unbeknowst to him helped inspire this blog, and of Raoul Vezina, 25 years ago.

5. Freddie and Me by Mike Dawson, which, among other things, made me want to listen to more of the music of the group Queen.

MUSIC
I got maybe a dozen 2008 albums all year, by Lindsay Buckingham, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, REM, She and Him, Brian Wilson, Lizz Wright, a couple others plus the MOJO take on the Beatles’ white album. I liked them all at some level, but the even snarlkier than usual Newman album “stuck” the most. More old fogey music I received for Christmas and haven’t heard enough to judge: Paul McCartney, James Taylor and Johhny Cash. The latter is a 40th anniversary double CD/DVD box set of his Folsom Prison concerts; just on a quick listen, I’m happy to hear the Carl Perkins and Statler Brothers tunes for the first time.

MOVIES
A paltry number of 2008 pics so far: Iron Man (my favorite), Young@Heart, Man on Wire, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, and Synecdoche, New York. Three of them, IM, MoW and VCB made the Top 10 list at the WSJ along with WALL-E, Slumdog Millionaire and a bunch of other films I will try to see.
Yes, I did see some 2007 films in 2008 and I will undoubtedly see some 2008 films in 2009. Still, five is worse than the seven I saw last year, and catching up on video just doesn’t seem to happen, not that it’s entirely comparable anyway.

TELEVISION

Oh, heck, TV deserves its own posting. Thanks to technology, it’s about the only thing I have even a modicum of a chance to (barely) keep up with.

ROG