Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 31st, 1976

Below zero degrees!

At last I got around to my homework. More strip-cutting, too.

Gave in to IT one last time this year! I am weak.

Mom made chili today!

Tonight we put the lights in at the office.

Well, this is the final day of 1976 and in these last few hours I've been reflecting on the passing year. One year ago tonight I predicted great things simply because I had always felt they would come this year. And they did in a way.

This was the year I saw my first concerts--Dawn and Wings. Also saw lots of other celebrities including Bob Hope, Gene Roddenberry, De Kelley and a host of other greats and near-greats!

On the other hand, a good share of bad things hit me, too. The incident at TUNNELVISION, a turbulent battle inside my mind about the future and my role in it and the sad realization that the past is getting further and further away.

I suppose on balance the Bicentennial year was one of my better ones, though. The good things seem to have outnumbered the bad. I completed several comic book collections, attended several conventions, I saw Debbie again, I started whole new areas of interest including Jayne Mansfield, Laurel and Hardy and underground comix.

In spite of all this, though, I feel a disappointment. It's not the loneliness--I've learned to accept that to a large extent. Somehow, though, I feel lonely in a different sort of way. is an ending and tomorrow another new beginning. It all starts anew. My main resolution is to take control of my own hormones--to avoid IT or anything related to it for at least nine more days at which time I turn 18 and my guilt will hopefully dissolve since I'll be of age at that point.

In the meantime, here's hoping for a better year next year...tomorrow. Happy New Year.

NOTES: As I mentioned earlier, for this last day, I actually stapled in a new page. 

The sketches above are from the inside back cover of the '76 Journal and were made throughout the year. 

The fact that my Mom made chili was unusual. In fact, I don't recall her ever making chili. Chili was something my Dad made and taught me to make. I make an excellent chili if I do say so myself. My wife says its my best dish as a chef. I never make it the same way twice, however, and often toss in new stuff just to see how it plays. I got that from my Dad, too. 

The obsession and guilt over natural hormonal activities didn't go away. My parents, as wonderful as they were, never talked to me about sex or masturbation. While I picked up the details on my own a little at a time, the fact that it was so hidden always gave me that level of shame. I was in my twenties before that went away. I'm happy to say (Don't tell him I told you) that we never made that mistake with our son. He knew, on an appropriate level,  from the earliest point he was interested. 

Friends since third grade, Terry and I grew apart a little at a time and finally just stopped hanging out together in our early twenties, our paths having diverged from one another. I would see him on rare occasion come through my store in the late eighties. It wasn't until 2010 that we reconnected via Facebook and now speak from time to time on the phone. He remembers all this stuff, too, although sometimes differently than I do. 

I did go to Graduation and graduated 12th in a class of 200 plus. I could have been higher if I'd actually tried. I was given an award as the outstanding English student. My son is now in the same school and, grade-wise, as a Freshman, he is thus far way out in front in the # 1 spot. 

I did NOT attend college. Part of the reason was the fact that my innate shyness prevented me from taking the steps necessary to even find out what needed to be done. It's my biggest regret and yet, if I had taken that different path I would never have met my lovely wife of 20 years now and we never would have had our son. 

I worked through some of my shyness issues when I took acting classes in late 1979. This enabled me to get a gig as a writer/performer with a local comedy troupe in 1980 and then found a similar comedy group of my own. It also enabled me to get a real job rather than emptying trashcans and mopping floors in the middle of the night. I could never have done retail without acting classes! Later on, the acting classes came in handy when I started performing onstage annually at the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Cons, too! The shyness actually remained, though, and still is an issue, but it could have been much, much worse...without the acting lessons.

 In 1978, my dad was hit by a car while walking home with coneys for me. It made the front page of both local newspapers the next day. He broke his arm and his shoulder and had leg and hip injuries. He never drove again and, because of my motion sickness issues, I had never learned to drive. He sold his car. It limited us severely  and for a solid year his arm was in a fleece lined brace and we watched him deteriorate. I was convinced he wasn't going to make it. But he did. He recovered almost completely. 

I took over the cleaning of the Social Security Office entirely as he was no longer in a position to help at all. With my pay, I was looking at an apartment across the street when suddenly my Mother took ill two years later. After yet another year-long struggle, she succumbed to cancer. My dad and I stayed there, same apartment, as roomies for another decade. Although greatly affected by her loss, his health improved amazingly. Although he never drove again, he began flying for the first time in his life, joining a couple of travel clubs! He even flew with me to Williamsburg, Chicago and San Diego (the latter two for comic book conventions, of course) in the eighties and nineties.

I never saw Debbie again and finally--FINALLY--stopped thinking about her all the time as my "ideal" girlfriend. I would not have my first date until I was 23. She was 20 and...experienced. It took a  couple of years of dating me but eventually she "experienced" me, too! After her, though, a couple of minor infatuations but no real relationship until I was 29...and I ended up marrying that one!

After more than two decades of managing bookstores, I became a victim of the economy...and then reinvented myself as a writer. One book that I did behind-the-scenes work on in 2011 was just today chosen by CNN for one of their year-end "Best of" lists! I'm not doing great at it. Right now we have less than 25 dollars to our name. But it's early yet. It's what I've always wanted and I'm NOT going to give it up now!

So I thank you one and all for embracing A GEEK'S JOURNAL-1976 in such an amazing and gratifying way. I honestly feel that seventeen year old me would have loved to have realized how universal his problems and obsessions were. How NORMAL he really was! The fact that my hated Senior Picture has been literally seen all over the world via the Internet thanks to AOL and the UK, German, Japanese, Spanish and Russian blogs that have linked this site...flabbergasting. It's going to stay up for anyone who wants to look back over the whole thing to get a fuller picture or for those who have yet to discover it. Again, though, I thank you so much...

And invite you to jump back a couple of years with me starting tomorrow to  find out JUST who I was at the ages of fourteen and fifteen as we do it all again with 1974--A GEEK'S FIRST JOURNAL!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 30th, 1976

Seemed like Thursday all day.

Dreamed about Debbie for the first time in awhile.

Picked up a really neat Laurel and Hardy book with Aunt Rosie's five dollar Christmas money.

Dad off early again today.

NOTES: What can I say? I remain a Laurel and Hardy fan to this day and have watched several of their films-good and bad--over the past year. Even introduced my son to the boys' films and the concept of reciprocal destruction. Was even reading some old Laurel and Hardy comics recently!

As for it seeming like Thursday all WAS a Thursday! Not sure why THAT was allowed to take up precious bottom of the page space, y'know?

Remember---1974 is coming back!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 29th, 1976

Mom off at noon today.

Very cold!

Finally cleaned desk.

Read the new PLAYBOY.

I said no more IT until my birtday. That didn't work when IT happened again today. Darn it!

NOTES: Not much to say here. Year's almost over and I was down to the last few lines in my Journal.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 28th, 1976

More stripwork.

Terry seems really miffed because I skipped the new KING KONG. Not sure why.

Two trips into Cincy. Got some dinner and the new PLAYBOY (no IT). Then had to go back for medicine for Dad's toothache.

There was an UNTOUCHABLES movie on today.

NOTES: THE UNTOUCHABLES was a show I had vague memories of as a child in spite of the fact that it was NOT a show little kids should have been watching. Produced by Desi Arnaz, it was the dramatized story of G-Man Elliot Ness and his fight against the gangsters and bootleggers of the 1920's.  The movie I saw that day was THE SCARFACE MOB, pieced together from the 2-part pilot film of THE UNTOUCHABLES and co-starring the great hammy character actor Neville Brand as Al Capone, a character who was in jail throughout the rest of the series. 

Above right is a theatrical poster for THE SCARFACE MOB but I went for the Belgian version seen here because of the gleeful look on Stack's face as he guns down the bad guys. Looks ten times creepier than Capone's!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 27th, 1976

Got three letters today!

Worked on more stripwork this morning.

To Florence with Terry on a neat adventure to catch the brand new Eastwood flick at the brand new cinemas there!

NOTES: When I was a child, Florence, Kentucky seemed not only a million miles away from where we lived but there was no point in us ever going there because it was all farm country. In the early seventies, plans began to come together for the Florence Mall which opened earlier this year. 

The rest of the area built up quickly around the Mall's lead with a half dozen strip malls and a ton of restaurants almost before you knew it! Still, it wasn't easy to get there as it involved a bus ride of nearly an hour each way. 

Then they announced the "Cinema City Six!" When they finally opened they were the Florence Mall Road Cinemas or just the Mall Road Cinemas or some-such. We always just referred to them as the Florence Cinemas. It was the second multiplex we had around here after the barely accessible (if you didn't drive) Showcase Cinemas.

Regular readers will have no doubt noted that I saw a LOT of movies in those days! The first one they had at the new multiplex that I just had to see was the latest Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry flick! I had loved the intense first one and liked the more pop feel of the second one even better! I just couldn't wait for this third one! Too bad I didn't really care for it. Ah, well...

About a decade after this, I would begin a nine-year long stint working in Florence. For the first six of those years, I still didn't drive and had to make that nearly-hour bus ride both ways five days a week.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 26th, 1976

Some snow again.

Parts record playing and ROBIN HOOD today. Rosie and Bill came down for a little while, mainly just long enough to exchange presents.

I salvaged strips from the GAZETTE and then disposed of them.

McCLOUD was back tonight and saw Annette again, too.

NOTES: ROBIN HOOD was probably the Errol Flynn version, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, another favorite from almost the moment I first saw it. I remember seeing Flynn first in CAPTAIN BLOOD and thinking he was the single handsomest man I'd ever seen. 

I probably watched it again out of the corner of my eye as I cut up my entire collection of THE MENOMONEE FALLS GAZETTE on this day. Yikes! Looking back now, I wish I'd kept them but they were tabloid newspapers on fairly good paper and they came out weekly. Between them and the weekly TBG, they took up a  LOT of space! They were too cool, though. Imagine an entire newspaper that ran nothing but the comics! And not just the regular comics---classic strips were mixed in with little known gems, current favorites and the best of the foreign market. And every one of them a week's worth at a time! After this date in 1976, all I had left, however, was a couple of folders with some of my favorite strips. Sigh...

Annette would, of course, be Annette. Funicello. Those early MICKEY MOUSE CLUB reruns had a lasting effect.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

****It's 1974 All Over Again Starting January 1st!****

Musical Moments of '74!

John Lennon's last live performances, onstage with Elton John!

Mick Taylor leaves the Rolling Stones!

The Ramones make their debut!

The Captain and Tennille get married and Sonny and Cher get divorced.

ABBA wins the Eurovision song contest!

Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham join Fleetwood Mac after the departure of lead singer Bob Welch.

Barry Manilow hits it big with his first # 1 record, MANDY!

Where was I while all this was happening? Watch for 1974: A GEEK'S FIRST JOURNAL!

Saturday, December 25th, 1976

Christmas. Awoke early like when I was a child. Finished reading the paper by 6:10 AM. After that, I grabbed my new records for intermittent playing the rest of the day. Just marvelous! Waited to read my new book but it was marvelous, also!

Cheated out of the expected snowstorm. It passed North of us.

Skipped the movie today.

Seemed like Sunday all day long instead of Saturday.

I completely rearranged my office to add in my new bookcase!

IT, too.

NOTES: At this stage, my Christmases were kind of non-descript I guess. Just a couple of gifts and we didn't even go see any relatives/ 

Normally, we would always go to one or the other of my Aunt's houses--Aunt Velma or Aunt Rosie. Aunt Velma was my dad's sister and Rosie was his sister-in-law. Velma's four daughters and their husbands and kids (mostly around my age) led to a packed house for a very Baptist celebration with a turkey and the best baked beans I've ever had (and I had some pretty good ones just tonight that I made myself!). Rosie and my Uncle Bill normally just had their daughter's family, an amazingly delicious ham and a quiet afternoon of sitting around the living room after presents were opened. 

After a few years, like this one, of skipping it, we returned to the traditions and my wife and I carried on the Christmas visits after my parents died until Rosie, Bill and Velma (at age 104) passed on. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

***1974 is Coming Soon!***

Friday, December 24th, 1976

DAMN! I opened up my WINGS OVER AMERICA album and there were only two records! It's supposed to be a three record set! WE took it back early this afternoon and luckily they exchanged it easily! Whew! Hope nothing else goes wrong.

Mom's present was  a neat blow-dryer for sure! She also got flowers from Mrs. K upstairs!

Later in the day it seemed like Saturday.

Christmas movies tonight.

NOTES:Not sure why I opened the record that day or why Mom got presents. We were never one of those families that opened presents on Christmas Eve. Good thing I did open my present, though, as we were able to get it replaced with one that was at least all there. I remember freaking out so much when I saw only two of the three records!

This year again, out of economic necessity as well as a general depression, we're pretty much having to skip Christmas--no shopping, no tree, presents, houseguests, TV specials or even special meals--unless you count the meatloaf I'll be baking over the weekend.  I miss the holidays the way they used to be. Sigh... For those of you who DO celebrate in one way or another, I do hope you enjoy your 2011 holiday weekend.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 23rd, 1976

Hard winds today. We ended up putting up the tree in my room this year! Chicken and coneys for meals.

Went uptown with Mom and got (indecipherable) at Post Office.

New books were out over the river later and I finally saw SILENT MOVIE.

Tonight I heard the live BAND ON THE RUN on the radio and had  along talk with Terry.

NOTES: Wish I could recall or at least interpret what we got at the Post Office. Oh,'s a lovely Depression-era Post Office we have here. All Art-Deco. I was there just Tuesday in 2011.  

SILENT MOVIE was the somewhat self-indulgent comedy that madman Mel Brooks made after his spectacular success with BLAZING SADDLES and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. It's a clever idea for a comedy sketch...dragged out to feature length. Basically Mel Funn (Brooks) and his two associates (Marty Feldman and Dom Deluise) were planning anew silent film and went around Hollywood attempting to convince some of the biggest stars of the day to star in it. These included, in unbilled cameos, Burt Reynolds, Liza Minnelli, Paul Newman and Anne Bancroft. It's not a bad movie. It's just NOT the laugh-riot they seemed to expect. Best part is famous mime Marcel Marceau, ironically and amusingly given the only one word bit of dialogue in the entire film. He says "No!"

A few years back, Amazon had a big box set of Mel Brooks DVD's on sale for only 35 dollars. SILENT MOVIE was included and I watched the whole thing again. Didn't laugh. Neither did my son. We both kept pointing out how clever this bit or that bit was, however. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 22nd, 1976

Rotten Day. Shoe was elected Scrooge as expected. He enjoyed the Farrah poster  I gave him. Tried my best to avoid the Christmas party but didn't and ended up with stomach-hurting milk. Nothing else after that. Ugh.

Little out over the river but I bought Randy a calendar for Christmas. Maybe SILENT MOVIE tomorrow.

Another new Python on 48 tonight.

NOTES: I don't recall Mr. Shoemaker as being particularly Scrooge-like but it seems from this and an earlier post that he was the favorite to be named as Scrooge...whatever that entailed. To be honest I haven't the slightest memory of this situation. It's like reading about someone else. And I bought him a Farrah Fawcett poster!!??

Randy is my cousin. He went on to be a professional ventriloquist, a lawyer and, eventually, a local mayor. 

MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS had actually ended production in 1974 as a series and the guys went on to do films, beginning with MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL. To us in America, though, these episodes shown on the local PBS affiliate were still brand new.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

***EXTRA***King Kong 1976

One over-hyped movie that I skipped in 1976 was the remake of what had become one of my favorite films--KING KONG. This one received a ton of publicity regarding everything from robotic apes to its more-or-less newly discovered starlet, Jessica Lange. It also had this amazingly cool poster with Kong straddling the still-new Twin Towers in a scene nothing like anything found on-screen!

I pieced this one together from a two-page ad in TV GUIDE 35 years ago last week. The film was not well-received critically nor by fans of the classic version but it didn't do that badly. Jessica Lange has actually been in the news this week in 2011 for her break-up with Sam Shepherd. 

I finally saw the picture when it aired on network TV a year or two later.

Tuesday, December 21st, 1976

Extremely cold!!! Bad school day and tomorrow should be worse. It'll be the last day of school for the year at least.

On arrival home today I was presented with a brand new bookcase as an early Christmas present!

Got a Christmas card from Yoshiko. Never thought to send her one.

NOTES: I've never been big on Christmas cards. As a kid, I helped my Mom send out scores every year to relatives, friends and sometimes people we never even thought of outside the Christmas season. As an adult I went from sending out a few to close friends and relatives to sending out exactly zero. 

When I was managing Waldenbooks, I would always send cards to the other stores in our district as well as to some of our better customers. I remember one year I bought one with a deadpan dog and car wearing reindeer antlers and I wrote in the names of myself and my Assistant Manager on each of them, varying from card to card as to whom was who.

My mother used to save every Christmas card we ever got. We had several boxes full. AS a kid I used to enjoy getting them down from the high closet shelves and going through them. As an adult, they were taking up space and I threw them away. Sigh...

As far as the early present of the bookcase, well, there's a reason they call me "booksteve."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 20th, 1976

All my index cards were missing but I had the info in my notebook. I got to switch lockers again.

Found out that Janie N. is doing a term paper on comics, too.

Rain and snow all day long.

J. Kahn was on the hotline tonight.

NOTES: Janie N. was one of my fellow students who, as recently as last year, lived right down the street from me here. I spoke with her more often just running into her on the street than I ever had in High School. I think she's moved, though. Haven't seen her in quite a while. I don't recall her having any interest in comics but apparently she did back then at least.

Jenette Kahn was the then-new Publisher at DC Comics. From the beginning, she had attempted to put herself out there so fans would know her. Remember, comics were essentially a "boys'" medium and here was a girl running one of the two biggest comics companies! So there she was that day on the Hotline. I would sit next to her table at breakfast at a convention hotel in Chicago in 1990. She had a good run with lots of innovations and then moved on.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 19th, 1976

For the first time in ages, most of the day was spent on homework.

Heard more live Wings on the radio and read in the paper of a new live Beatles album recorded in 1962 coming soon! Speaking of albums,  Betty called and asked Mom what I wanted for Christmas so I said 33 1/3 and she told her she'd get it!

Felt good all day until I had to deal with Jack at SS tonight still finishing up cleaning from the party. I silently hurried home as quickly as possible.

NOTES: The Beatles' Star Club recordings from Germany are really lousy recordings done from the audience on a reel to reel recorder. They were a major disappointment on arrival and yet have been endlessly repackaged ever since.

Betty is my older cousin and she and her husband had long-since taken to calling and asking what people wanted for Christmas. On the one hand, it eliminated that wonderful element of delightful surprise when you got the perfect gift. On the other, though, it also eliminated that terrible moment when you opened your gift and got...socks.

In this case, Betty got me George Harrison's THIRTY THREE AND A THIRD album, his most commercial album ever with some fun songs including the two I had enjoyed from his recent SNL appearance. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 18th, 1976

Watched a beautiful Osmonds Christmas show before bed last night!

A well-planned day in spite of IT twice.

Saw PPSA at the Times.

Had to clean up last night's Christmas party at SS over top of Jack who was "helping."

Mom washed late tonight as I watched a great WONDER WOMAN and an even better Mike and Gloria episode of ALL INTHE FAMILY.

NOTES: "PPSA" was THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN. The Times Towne Cinema was the last of the prestigious downtown theaters in Cincinnati and even it was stooping to the occasional exploitation film. The Times was where I saw TUNNELVISION earlier in the year.

I recently watched all of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films again and, while one can see the diminishing budget--or possibly just increased egos and paychecks--Sellers as Clouseau never fails to make me laugh. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 17th, 1976

48 votes for Mr. Shoemaker as Scrooge. He's planning a party next Wednesday. Twelve years ago today we had our Kindergarten Christmas play! I took the pics to school and showed them to Karen. She signed the back of it. She's SOOOO pretty! Wow.

I chose my book for my next review.

No SS tonight. Decided to wait until tomorrow.

SILENT MOVIE is coming to Y'all.

NOTES: Karen Rooney, in case you'd forgotten, was in my Kindergarten class. I think she was in first grade, also. After that, I didn't see her until seventh grade when they combined several schools to create a whole new Junior High School. She aged very well to that point. Only saw her once in the years since.

SILENT MOVIE was the new Mel Brooks movie. "Y'all" was a nickname for the then-new Florence Mall and its cinemas, so called due to a water tower nearby. Someone had painted the name FLORENCE MALL on the tower and then, for legal reasons, were told to change it. They repainted it to say FLORENCE Y'ALL...which it still does to this day.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 16th, 1976

Spanish was a mess at school. Depressing. Freezing fire drill at lunch.

Unexpected new books in Cincy after school. Plus WINGS OVER AMERICA with strict instructions--DO NOT OPEN UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

Unexpected reruns tonight. Felt really weird watching Jack Cassidy on CROSSWITS. It was like "He can't be gone. There he is!" So many have died recently.

NOTES: So we come to the final page of the actual journal with the remainder of the year squeezed in practically in one-liners before I stapled in a page for my big summing up. 

CROSSWITS was a decidedly second-string syndicated game show whose idea of a seventies celebrity was often of the likes of Carlton Carpenter (who hadn't done much of anything since the fifties and wasn't particularly famous even then). The show ran five seasons, however, hosted by Jack Clark, a man whose name was better known as announcer than host for a number of earlier game shows. Jack Cassidy happened to be on the episodes running during the week in which he died. Sad.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 15, 1976

Bad day, saleswise.

Worried about my new locker.

Again I made up with Mona.

Got good grade and praise for my SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES book report. Also got a 91 on a spelling test.

I ordered three books.

Saw Raquel on one of two good Christmas specials tonight.

NOTES: All the talk here a while back about SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES got me to dig out my copy---yes, the exact same copy I wrote the above-mentioned book report on--and give it to my fifteen year old son. He's carrying it in his backpack and reading it off and on at school as time permits. The same copy of the same book at the same school 35 years later. 

Raquel Welch's career was actually on a downswing at this stage. She really never had a starring role in US film again. Instead, she toured nightclubs with her singing act but she really wasn't that good. She came to the Beverly Hills Supper Club a year or so after this and my friend Terry (an even bigger fan of hers than I was) and I had planned to go see her but never went for some reason. Well...that's my memory. Terry tells me that HE actually DID go to see her...and that I actually went WITH him!!! I swear I didn't.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 14th, 1976

A fast, unusual day.

Lots more of REBECCA. My yearbook selling partner left Government class. Not sure what that was all about. Dupin made me switch lockers.

Caught the Rosedale bus home but depressed and irritated easily all night. Some good TV though, especially ONE DAY.

NOTES: Mr. Dupin was the Dean of Boys at the school. At this late date I have no idea why he had me switch lockers on this date. He mainly seemed to deal with disciplining people and I recall having only once been sent to his office during my three years there (and who knows for what?).

Hitchcock's REBECCA was doled out in smallish segments and thus lasted several days but that was okay as I enjoyed it immensely and didn't really want to see it end. It was shown on the main screen on the stage at the very same auditorium where we will be heading tomorrow for a Christmas Pageant. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 13th, 1976

Jack Cassidy died yesterday.

Band-aid on my nose at school made me feel stupid. Saw second part of REBECCA. A dozen new customers ordered the Yearbook.

Saw Linda's latest TV movie.

NOTES: Although ostensibly based on a true person, Linda's role in VICTORY AT ENTEBBE was rather silly as, in the middle of an airplane hijacking, she knocks on the door of the cockpit to offer both the crew and the hijacker chocolates to calm them down. Um...Yeah...right. Although obviously a favorite of mine, her acting skills were shown up horribly in her scene opposite the great Helen Hayes. I recently ran some screen grabs at my other blog

Jack Cassidy was one of my favorite character actors. He specialized in charming, egotistical men with secrets and agendas, both in comedy and drama. Several times a COLUMBO villain, he was also JETMAN in the TV series HE & SHE back in 1968, Ted Baxter's brother on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, top billed as a reporter in the 1966 SUPERMAN stage show and just a delight in so many things. One role I particularly remember him for was, ironically enough, from this time of year--the voice of Bob Cratchit in MISTER MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL. He had been married to Shirley Jones and was, in fact, father to Shaun and David Cassidy. He died by falling asleep with a lit cigarette. Sigh...So prolific an actor was Jack, however, that he continued to have new performances come out on TV and in films for more than another year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 12th, 1976

New Python last night!

Quick morning. Heard another new Wings live one on the radio!

Still no DUCK SOUP but was consoled by GO WEST unscheduled on TV.

Bad Shave. Ouch!

Saw Newton and L.A. on a Xmas show tonight!

NOTES: "Newton" would have been Wayne whom I was quite big on after the Bob Hope live Show. "L.A." though? Hmmm...I got nothin'

GO WEST was a Marx Brothers film I had seen in a revival theater (double featured with A DAY AT THE RACES) which I thought was quite hilarious but it was generally considered (and still is) one of their lesser pictures. Much of the climax of the film centers around a train chase and features gags reminiscent of Buster Keaton. Credited scriptwriter Irving Brecher admitted in his autobiography that Keaton, a sometime consultant to the Marxes at MGM, was on-set for the film so one never knows.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, December 11th, 1976


IT this morning to avoid getting HIGH SOCITY but I ended up getting it anyway later so I wouldn't miss an issue. I put it up and I will NOT go near it until I am officially 18 next month! Also got STAR*REACH, books I had missed previously and Lennon's Greatest Hits album. Saw the new triple LP live Wings album at a hefty $8.95! Who's going to pay that much!!? Will wait for a sale. Ended up skipping DUCK SOUP yet again!

Got a Christmas card from Jill. Bet she was forced.

I saved the day by catching a smoking, melting light shade that would probably have caught fire soon. Whew!

NOTES: Okay, so my will power wasn't that great. You find me any seventeen year old male who could do it! At least I was trying to be good! So there.

Being a McCartney man, I had actually never purchased any Lennon solo records until today. Not even a single. I'd see picture sleeve singles all the time of COLD TURKEY, INSTANT KARMA and POWER TO THE PEOPLE in the 35 cent records boxes in the back of a couple of drugstores uptown but I just never bought them, even though I DID enjoy hearing them on the radio. They would, of course, be worth quite a bit now so I wish I HAD bought them at 35 cents each!

$8.95 for that Wings album 3 record set may not seem like much now but remember I only paid $8.50 to see them LIVE back in May! On the other hand, I had no problem reconciling $19.76 for the similar 3 record bootleg version a couple of months back. Go figure. 

Jill was a cousin in North Carolina whom I had only ever met twice--once when we were two (there are pictures) and once when we were twelve. Never having received a Christmas card--or anything else--from her before, I quite naturally assumed that her grandmother--my Mother's sister--had made her do it. Turned out I was wrong and the two of us soon began a pen-pal-like correspondence that would last about seven years. In 1979 we'd go down to visit my Mom's relatives and she and I felt like absolute strangers to each other in person in spite of how close we'd become in our letters. It's kind of similar to meeting your email or Facebook friends in person for the first time. You THINK you'll be incredibly comfortable with them as you are online but instead it's often the opposite. Weird. 

Speaking of the Internet, about two years ago Jill and I reconnected via Facebook. First time we'd corresponded in 27 years.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, December 10th, 1976

Saw first part of REBECCA at school today. HOLMESPUN didn't come out for some reason. My Yearbook partner and I got admonished for selling Yearbook names.

Listened to some more comedy on WBXU. Fun stuff! Also heard live LADY MADONNA from McCartney! Wow!

NOTES: Sounds from the above as though we were making and selling customer lists, much like today's spammers. Since logically we had no reason to be doing anything like that I'm not at all sure what we were actually doing...but apparently we were admonished for it.

"WBXU." HAHAHAHA! In actuality, it was WVXU-FM and it would end up being an important part of my life for much of the next three decades. From the sound of it, I had here just discovered the station, probably from channel-surfing listening for more McCartney music. In those days, sometimes I'd forego television and just listen to my AM/FM radio all evening. 

I first discovered the station when I found Dr Jim King playing comedy records and old time radio sitcoms. Had you asked me ten minutes ago, I would have sworn it was a few years later, though. 

The low power public radio station, WVXU,  had been on the air as a jazz station since 1970, based out of Cincinnati's Xavier University. Not being into Jazz, had I run across it way down on the dial, I would have quickly moved on. I must have finally hit it in the middle of a comedy bit. Already being a fan of DOCTOR DEMENTO, I craved knowledge of more comedy.

Dr. King's Friday night show offered my first exposure to many OTR programs, all of them knowledgeably annotated by him. I even started listening to the Saturday afternoon WHEN SWING WAS KING broadcasts of Russ Dixon. 

In late 1980, I made my radio debut on WVXU's LIVELINE TRIVIA program, at first by phone and then as a guest and occasional co-host or guest host of the series. Dr. King took charge of the station and put it on the map, first tying it in to NPR, then adding a daily block of OTR programming in the mornings. THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE, THE LIFE OF RILEY, FIBBER McGEE AND MOLLY, THE JACK BENNY SHOW, THE SHADOW, NIGHT BEAT and a dozen others had long runs on the station (sadly often of the same limited number of syndicated episodes but, hey...). By long runs, in some of those cases, I mean thirty years!!

In the nineties, there was a brief revival of LIVELINE TRIVIA and my wife and I were asked to be guests for old times sake. It went out live from their seeming state-of-the-art studios, a far cry from the hard-to-find hole in the wall where the station was when I first went on the air there!

Dr King finally left in the new century and WVXU's local programming was quickly swallowed up by syndicated and NPR broadcasts. There was literally nothing left there for its longtime fans. BUT...some of the other folks long associated with the special magic of WVXU took some of the station's OTR licenses and even their old phone numbers, over to an even lower-powered local station, WMKV, based out of a Cincinnati retirement village. So even now if one turns on WMKV in the mornings, the classic 'VXU lineup of OTR is still in place...all these years later! Nostalgia for the nostalgia. I listened to George and Gracie earlier this week in the car.

The above photo, by the way, was taken as I was writing this. As I said, for a station whose call letters I couldn't even get right,"WBXU" ended up being in my life a loooong time. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 9th, 1976

Hauntingly perfect portrait of me in one girl's reading of a paragraph she wrote on loners today in Comp. Sigh.

New books were out after school over the river. I decided to avoid any more adult stuff from this point until I'm actually 18 a month from today. Thus I avoided HIGH SOCIETY today.

I got the "P" book in for Xmas.

NOTES: Not sure what the "P" book was--"P" for "PAUL?" As in McCartney? Would make sense.

Note that by this point, the explicitness with HUSTLER has been superseded by the even more explicitness of HIGH SOCIETY. I recently found an issue of HS from this period online and downloaded it just for old time's sake. It looks so amazingly tame now! Was interesting to note not one but THREE of my current FACEBOOK friends were actual contributors to that 1976 issue...although their work, which was NON-porn, was missing from the copy I downloaded. It was just noted on the contents page. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 8th, 1976

Fair day at the table and the rest, too.

Second chance on DUCK SOUP!

Heard BLACKBIRD live while working at SS tonight. Then later heard MAYBE I'M AMAZED! Better than the original!

NOTES: With only one more page in the book I was getting even more terse with these final entries. It didn't really help and I ended up stapling an extra page onto the inside back cover!

"The table" referred to the volunteer position where I was selling Yearbooks with a  partner during at least one period for a few days. 

The live Wings songs were the hottest thing on the radio at that point. 1976 had definitely been the year that McCartney made everyone realize that he was NOT just an ex-Beatle.

DUCK SOUP would eventually become my favorite Marx Brothers movie. It's purely anarchist comedy with no trace of the usual romantic subplot and not exactly an overabundance of the often mundane musical numbers either. Many fans think unadulterated Marxes are too much for the palate. Me, I wish they'd made a dozen more like this!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 7th, 1976

Some snow today. Fair day at school. First Yearbook day good. We had a dog in comp!

Saw a Cary Grant cameo in a John Wayne comedy!

Heard a cut from the new WINGS OVER AMERICA album on the radio tonight!

Quick at SS tonight because Jack followed us and talked and talked. Got back and watched Farrah with Merv.

NOTES: The unlikely pairing of John Wayne and Cary Grant never actually occurred although Grant does appear in one brief scene of a John Wayne/Claudette Colbert comedy entitled WITHOUT RESERVATIONS from 1946. Jack Benny also cameos. 

Seems like a small white dog had just wandered into the school and no one could coax him out. So when he wandered into our classroom in the afternoon, we simply closed the door and kept him there until someone could come to take him outside.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 6th, 1976

Late everywhere all day. I took HITLER to school. Mr. T had brought in the Fritz article from yesterday's paper to show me. I was asked to partner Dale in Yearbook sales.

Heard Denny O'Neil's voice on the Hotline tonight.

Saw Tony with DINAH today. Saw a promo with Linda B for that VICTORY AT ENTEBBE and then finally got to see Steffie in FEATHER & FATHER.

Six full late hours at SS tonight and three bags! Sheesh!

NOTES: Dale, you'll recall from the other day, was in my class. Not a bad guy. Mr Tucker apparently brought that article in and that was cool. Seems unlikely he would have brought in an article on an underground coix character and X-rated film star so it makes me again think it may NOT have been Fritz the Cat...but Fritz who? Actor Fritz Weaver? 

Tony was Tony Orlando. He had become one of my proprietary celebs since I had seen him in concert so, of course, I was on first name basis with him. Wasn't yet into cute nicknames though. That was reserved for "Steffie"--Stefanie Powers, the first actress who ever responded to a letter from me. 

Stefanie premiered this night in THE FEATHER AND FATHER GANG, a retitled version of FEATHER AND FATHER, a show that had been announced for the Fall season and then postponed for some reason. Her lawyer character was teamed with the always-delightful Harold Gould (as a con man) to solve crimes. I don't recall it as being all that good but was happy to see it finally show up. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 5th, 1976

Felt lost all day.

Big FRITZ article in the ENQUIRER today.

I worked some on my EC paper.

IT for the third day in a row...badly.

I wrote an unconventional letter to Yoshiko and voted in the Comic Art Fan Awards.

My depression wasn't helped by an empty-handed return from uptown when I had expected to get records.

I cowardly avoided DUCK SOUP so I could wallow in my bad day. Felt better by night anyway, though. New McMILLAN tonight. Also saw Farrah commercial and watched CATCH 22. VERY confusing!

NOTES: No idea why the local CINCINNATI ENQUIRER would have been writing about FRITZ THE CAT at this point, many years since the 2nd and last film had been released. Can't think of any other "Fritz" I could have been referring to, though, other than perhaps artist Frank Frazetta whose nickname was "Fritz." Not sure I knew that then, though.

CATCH 22 is a movie that just totally doesn't work for me. Some good performances are mostly wasted in an effort to translate Joseph Heller's now-classic novel into some semblance of linear order...which seems to miss the point. I gave it another go a few years back on cable but it still lost me...except for Bob Newhart!

McMILLAN AND WIFE was a long-running segment of NBC's Sunday Mystery Movie series. alternating with McCLOUD, COLUMBO and a 4th series that changed fairly often. Starring the seemingly mismatched team of tall, rugged, laconic, middle-aged Rock Hudson and young, ditzy, flighty and short Susan St. James as, essentially, a Nick and Nora Charles variant, with Rock as the Police Commissioner of San Francisco, it was a fun mystery series in a wonderful setting. Nancy Walker appeared memorably as their housekeeper. 

By 1976, Susan St. James, very much a free spirit in real life, had had several babies and left the series. Nancy Walker's star was rising, too, so she moved on. Rock had shaved his porn star mustache of the early seasons and allowed himself to go a tad grey and supposedly his wife had died. His new housekeeper was aging loud-mouthed comedienne Martha Raye. As simply McMILLAN, this night was its first episode. It would only run one season thusly but the episodes were still choice and in the end this is my favorite Rock Hudson performance. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday, December 4th, 1976

Early today we got a package from Mickey. She sent me volume one of a Hitler biography...for Christmas.

I met the Shriner Parade in Cincy and later watched the Santa Claus parade on TV.

Still later, Flash Gordon was on!

NOTES: As a kid I loved parades. What kid didn't. By this point I was getting to the stage where I could take 'em or leave 'em. Running into an unexpected parade when you're just trying to cross the street downtown was a pain.

My first knowledge of FLASH GORDON was from reruns of the Buster Crabbe serials on WXIX TV when I was about 11 or so. This was probably at least a chapter of one of the serials being rerun this night also.

Mickey was my mother's older sister in North Carolina. I still don't know the whole story but supposedly Mickey used to bilk soldiers out of money by marrying them or saying she would in letters. There was a period before I was born when she was "away" somewhere. Jail? A hospital? On the run? No idea...but my mother always said she raised Mickey's daughter like she was her own during that period. Used to read her WONDER WOMAN comics! I met her once in 1962 and perhaps saw her at a funeral in 1968 but other than that had had no real contact with her. 

The book she sent me was actually one of that year's big sellers--ADOLF HITLER by prominent historian John Toland. She belonged to a Book Club and basically sent their selection for that month. When Part 2 came along, she forwarded that also. I took them to school in the waning months of Senior Year to read and got strange looks from a lot of folks.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 3rd, 1976

Went to a college prep meeting in the Library today for three hours. Fair.

Got my own coneys tonight.

Called DC's hotline and heard Marty Pasko talking about new Superboy stories coming in ADVENTURE COMICS! Wow!

Listened to Don Ameche, Robert Klein and even Monty Python on radio.

Osmonds and more were on unusual Mormon TV special.

NOTES: Not sure why I went to a college prep thing if I had already decided against college. Since I did go, however, I'm not sure why that didn't at least make me reconsider that.

Don Ameche was, at the time, pretty much a  has-been star from 1930's radio and movies. In the eighties he would make a spectacular comeback in films with COCOON and go on to star in a number of major releases until his death including one of my all-time favorites, THINGS CHANGE.

DC had a phone hotline where editors, writers and artists offered up-to-the-minute news in those pre-Web days. As a youngster, SUPERBOY had been a favorite but his solo stories had disappeared in the early seventies. Was good to hear he was coming back...and in ADVENTURE COMICS yet, one of my favorite comic books! In fact, if you haven't done so yet, check out DAYS OF ADVENTURE, my most recent blog!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thursday, December 2nd, 1976

As expected, awoke to more snow.

Magic tricks in Comp.

Found out we can see REBECCA at school for 20 cents.

Second harassment of the week by unknown Stan Grady! Who the hell IS this creep and what does he have against me?

Found a dime on the bus to Cincy but only ended up picking up dinner there today.

Dad got a thing in the mail saying he's been nominated for honorary sheriff!

NOTES: Ah, the days when spam came via snail mail. Pretty sure now that nomination for my father was a ruse by some organization--maybe or maybe not a shady one--to get money out of him. We were so innocent back then.

We had read REBECCA in class and I enjoyed it immensely. Was surprised to find the movie was a Hitchcock film and that they were showing it at school! The film became a quick favorite, also, as did star Joan Fontaine (although she really didn't last on my favorites list, sadly).

Yeah, no clue who this "Stan Grady" guy was but apparently he had had issues with me earlier in the week and then again today. I have no memory of him at all. Hey, Stan. Buddy...if you're reading this, you were TOTALLY forgotten, man! Whatever your beef was with me, it did not even deserve a mention beyond today's brief acknowledgement of your existence. I win. You lose. 

And magic tricks? Wonder what that was all about.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wednesday, December 1st, 1976

Up at 6 and helped get all them cans in (illegible)'s trunk. Froze! Caught the 7:40 bus. Arrived at school at 8.

Encountered Dale and we walked to get measured together. Head: 7 & 3/4, Height: 5' 8".

I took a Bradbury book to school with me. Managed to avoid Mona.

Learned of Mom's four month old brother who died on December first many years ago!

Saw Shatner on MIKE DOUGLAS. Two neat TV specials on tonight.

More snow late tonight, Supposed to keep coming down all night long.

NOTES: I hate to sound repetitive but once again my much vaunted memory fails me. Cans? In a car trunk apparently frozen shut? At 6 AM? No freakin' clue.

At least the measuring hinted at the other day makes sense now--for caps and gowns for graduation! Duh! Perhaps its due to the idiot who mis-measured me here today that I for years THOUGHT I was five foot eight when in actuality I'm five foot FOUR! 

My wife the genealogist is very intrigued by this mention of a an Uncle of mine only months old when he died! She said she knew of my Aunt who died at only 9 years old but not an even younger Uncle that hadn't survved. I was like--AN AUNT, TOO!!?? I'd never heard about her either! She's working to find info on this Uncle now.

I was a big fan of William Shatner, not just on STAR TREK but on all of his other series and TV movies and even his infamous Promise margarine commercials. A few years ago, he came through my airport store about an hour before I came in that day. I'm told he was...let's just say NOT at his most gracious that day.