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06/17/18: My memory is not what it was, not that it ever was very good for anything more than snippets of old Monty Python skits. Recently a friend of mine told me that he was digging out old journals from when he was in his early twenties, and he discovering reams of information about events in his past that he had only vague recollections of. Man, I wish I had that. I realized a while back just how valuable this web site is when I couldn't remember something and found that I wrote about it when it happened. Not everything is here, but many major events in my life got at least a passing mention here.
     So I've started a project that I'd been thinking about for a while. I created a spreadsheet on Google Docs (for portability sake) and have been adding brief mentions of events in my life. I've tended to recall times of my life based on a few significant events, such as jobs, cars, computers, and vacations. I know those are far from the most significant things in a person's life, but I can attribute exact dates to those events, and I can use them as guideposts to organize some less-remembered items. I'm just doing this in my free time, adding a few items at a time, but I think when it starts to get fleshed out, it will trigger more memories that I can plug into the timeline.
     I was adding some concerts to the list, most of which were easy because I still have a pile of ticket stubs and most have the date on the part I kept, but there was one event I don't have the stub for that I wanted to include. Back in 1981, the restored version of Abel Gance's 1927 masterpiece Napoleon was touring the country, accompanied by a full orchestra. It played at the Chicago Theater, and I remember going, but I didn't remember the exact date. My date was a friend of a friend who I took to her high-school prom, and since we only went out a few times besides (I was asked to a lot of proms by "friends") I knew that it was spring of that year. I tried searching the web for details, hoping it was only there one weekend (I remember we went on a Saturday) but it played two weekends, so I'm not sure which I saw. But on the first Google search result screen, there was a link to a picture on Wikipedia with the caption, "A group of moviegoers in front of the Chicago Theatre marquee in 1981 at the showing of Abel Gance's Napoleon". I expected some group of anonymous fans, but when I clicked on the picture, I actually recognized several people. In the center is noted author Max Allan Collins and his wife Barbara. They are flanked by Don and Maggie Thompson, who I felt I knew personally from all the articles I read by them over the years of my subscription to the late, lamented Comics Buyer's Guide. The guy on the left is Alan Light, the founder of CBG, and the other is Terry Beatty, an artist and collaborator of Collins. There is no mention on Wikipedia of who these people were, but it cam from Alan Light's flickr account, and a caption there confirmed my identification.
     I started my project with the intention of recovering some of my memories that may be slipping away, but considering I recognized these people that I only knew from the pages of a magazine I subscribed to, I think maybe my memory is not as bad as I assumed it is.


06/10/18: Today we moseyed over to our local mini-multiplex and saw the new Avengers film that's been raking in all the dough. I've had pretty good luck with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as opposed to DC, which turned me off with The Dark Knight to where the only DC movie I've seen since is Wonder Woman, a film that reviewers think was an anomaly because it wasn't as "grim and gritty" as the rest. We've seen all the MCU films to date except for Black Panther, which Stephie didn't want to see, and pretty much liked them all. The last Iron Man movie was not too good, and I didn't much care for the second Avengers film, but the new one is raking in money by the bushel, so it's got to be good, right?
     While the credits were rolling and we were waiting for the obligatory end credits scenes, I didn't say anything to Stephie. As we were walking out, she leaned over and said, "I'm never seeing another comic book movie again." I don't know that I would go that far, because I'm cautiously optimistic about the upcoming Shazam! film (even though the character's name is not Shazam, it's Captain Marvel, dammit!) but I think I can pretty much guarantee that I'm not going to see the next Avenger's movie, whenever it comes out. I did not have a good time at the show.
     I'm a comics fan, but I don't know much about the Marvel universe that this plays out in. I didn't read the Infinity Gauntlet or any of the other Infinity stories, nor do I care to, especially after this. I have a passing familiarity with Thanos from the '70s when my brothers and I bought darn near every title on the rack between us. I don't remember him being this powerful, where he and his followers could just take out every hero that dared stand against him. I realize that powerful heroes need equally powerful adversaries to make a good story, but watching this film was like following your favorite football team all season, only to have them get to the Super Bowl and lose 51-3, without ever getting the ball past mid-field. Apologies for the sports analogy, but that's what I thought of as we were walking out of the theater.
     I know that this is only part one of two parts, and there will probably be some redemption in the second film, not to mention nullifying most of the deaths that were so shocking and senseless, but I don't care. I paid to see a film, not a half a film. I remember back in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back came out. General consensus is that Empire was the best of the original trilogy, but I thought it sucked because it ended without any indication of Han Solo's fate (yeah, no spoiler warning for a 38-year-old film.) Friends told me that we would find out in the next movie, but I knew that was three years away! When the second part of this one hits the multiplexes next year and were I to go, I wouldn't remember anything other than a profound sense of disappointment from this one.
     It had some good points, sure, and some of the action scenes were exciting, but overall it was just one depressing fight scene after another, up to the crappy ending. Just "thanks for your money, come back next year." I probably would have put up with this in the comics back when I was a kid because they only cost me twenty cents to read, and I knew the story would continue in thirty days, with maybe an ending. But at over $20 including refreshments for the two of us, and having to wait at least a year for the conclusion, I feel ripped off.


05/06/18: Attention, friends. After more years than I care to admit, we again have a working doorbell! You no longer have to call us from the foyer to tell us that you've arrived. Feel free to stop by and try it.


04/13/18: Today was Friday the 13th, so we thought it would be a good day to buy a new car! As many of you know, we downsized to one vehicle while I was taking the train to work. With no public transportation options for my new job (well, none that would have me on the train for less than five hours round trip) we've been getting by using my sister-in-law's car. We knew that they would need it back someday, and that some day was this weekend, so we went shopping. We tried to find a reasonably priced used car, but couldn't find one that we thought would be reliable for my long daily commute. So we stopped by Westfield Ford, where we purchased our Escape, to see what was available in our price range.
     There's something about Westfield Ford. I don't know if they're hypnotists or what, but this is the second time we went there "just to see what was available" and walked out (rather drove out) with a new car. This time it was a brand-new blue Ford Focus. We walked in and taledto the salesperson, who immediately found us a car he thought we might like. We took it for a drive and really liked it, but as I was parking it, Stephie asked the salesperson in the back seat what all the buttons on the console were. He said they were for all the amenities, like the heated steering wheel and heated side view mirrors. I immediately objected, reminding him that we needed basic transportation without all the bells and whistles. He went off and found us the same car but without all the gizmos. It does have satellite radio, but I gather that's standard, so there wasn't anything I could do. It'll just be a useless button on the radio, because after the initial subscription period is over, I am not paying for that.
     I really loved my previous Focus, and this looks to be a worthy successor. I hope it lasts as long as the last one did, or at least long enough for us to pay it off!

03/28/18: Today my cell phone rang, and the caller ID said it was a call from New York. When I answered, a recorded voice told me that my bank was monitoring my credit and it was so good that I might be able to qualify for zero percent credit. I only needed to press 1 to speak with a live operator. I pressed 1 and was told I was number 22 in the queue. Since Stephie was making dinner, I had time so I waited.
     The queue went down pretty quick, and I was thinking of what to say by the time I was in single digits. Stephie said I should hang up but I said no, I was excited.
     Finally a guy picked up the call and asked how I was. In my most exuberant voice I said, "I'm great! How are you?" He seemed a little taken aback, but replied, "Fine, thanks for asking. Are you looking for information about reducing your credit?" I said, "Yeah, the message said that I could reduce my interest to zero! But I figured that since I have such great credit, you guys should be paying me! Is there any way of getting a negative interest rate?" The guy chuckled and said, "If only, sir. If only." Then he hung up on me.



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