Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

My Concerns with Ohio’s New Passenger Rail

I’m a huge fan of mass transit and public transportation and the funding required to keep it up and running. Couple this with the fact that air travel – which I used to love – has become something I now only tolerate when it’s absolutely necessary, and you’ve got someone who was really excited about Ohio’s new passenger rail system.

Now that the plans are out there, I could hardly be more disappointed.

See, I live in envy of the transportation options of friends and family who live in the New York and Northern Virginia areas. When we visit, I absolutely dig the subways and metro trains and buses. And during the four years I spent commuting 57 miles one-way from North Canton to Cleveland, I would have gladly spent more than the equivalent of my gas money for the option of getting on a train at, say, the Akron-Canton Airport and riding downtown to Tower City.

So here’s why the new passenger rail feels like a gut punch: From my admittedly Northeast Ohio-biased perspective, our corner of the state really gets shafted. (To say nothing of Toledo – which is exactly what the new system does.) But more than me taking it personally, the plan essentially ignores a vast portion of the state’s most populous region.

Look at the map of the route accompanying that Plain Dealer story. You’re talking six total stops: two each in Cleveland and Cincinnati, one apiece in Dayton and Columbus. The number of stops isn’t really my issue, though – it’s their placement.

For example: Dayton and Columbus are 70-some miles apart, but the new passenger rail avoids the shortest route from Columbus to Cincinnati so that Dayton can be on the line. This connects Dayton with both of its bigger neighbors and could, it seems, easily accommodate the schedules of commuters to and from those two larger cities. Hypothetically, Cincinnati and Columbus get to keep their income tax from workers in their limits, while Dayton and its suburbs get to keep their residents and property taxes.

Now look at the Northeast corner. The rail runs from Cleveland’s west side down through the largely rural north central part of the state, completely avoiding the populous corridor stretching south along I-77 through Akron and Canton. In other words, anyone south of Cleveland will actually have to drive a fair piece away from Columbus in order to pick up the train that runs to Columbus. Furthermore, a close examination of the state’s geography reveals that an alarming number of people do live south of Cleveland because the city’s northern border is a Great Freaking Lake.

Realizing these are the very early days of this project and there is room for develpment and change and schedule tweaking, I just don’t see right now where the regular travelers are for this line.

As the Plain Dealer points out, working in one of the Three C’s and living in another isn’t suddenly going to become a viable option. That leaves tourism. And while there is recreation business to be had, given the travel time involved and then the added costs of transportation in and around your destination, I’m not seeing much incentive to take the train when driving I-71 can get you from Columbus to Cincinnati in four hours or so. Who in Youngstown or Canton is going to drive an hour and a half or two hours to the west side of Cleveland so they can get on a train to Columbus? Akronites already have a pretty decent deal, since I-71 runs just to the west of the city thorugh Medina County and offers a straight freeway shot to the state’s capital.

So from a  practicality standpoint, all of this seems to make the new rail virtually useless to a huge portion of the most populous corner of the state. The whole “if you build it they will come” approach seems foolish to me. Why not put the rail where “they” already are?

Look at this U.S. Census Bureau population density map from 2000:

Ohio Population Density, 2000 census

See that big well-shaded area in the upper right corner right? There are 10 counties there with a population greater than 100,000 according to this map of 2006 population estimates. (And an eleventh, Geauga county, was at 95,676.) How many of these counties are touched by this rail? Two: Lorain and Cuyahoga, which occupy the northwestern-most points of the region.

In fact, look at that 2006 list again, with the numbers handily compiled into this chart from US-Places.com:

Graph: US-Places.com

It’s topped by nine Ohio counties with populations greater than 300,000 people. Leading the way, of course, are those which are home to the three C’s: Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Franklin (Columbus) and Hamilton (Cincinnati).

Fourth on the list is Summit County, with a population of 545,931 and anchored by Akron – utterly untouched by the new rail line.

Fifth is Montgomery County, where you’ll find Dayton, with its own proposed rail stop.

Sixth is Lucas County, home to Toledo,which as I’ve noted, falls far outside the plan. In my estimation, though, its situation is different from the Northeast region in that it’s surrounded by a lot of farmland, and no other county in the region has a population above 125,000. (In fact, only two other counties in my 21-county ballparking  of Northwest Ohio even reach past the 100,000-person mark.

Seventh on the list is Stark County, where I live, and its major city of Canton, which anchors the south end of that I-77 corridor I mentioned earlier. Again – no connection to the new rail system whatsoever.

Butler County just north of Cincinnati, and Lorain County, already mentioned, occupy spots eight and nine on the population list, and both are directly touched by the rail.

I think it’s also worth noting that counties 10, 11 and 12 on the list are three of the remaining four in Ohio with populations greater than 200,000.  They are  Mahoning (Youngstown), Trumbull (Warren) and Lake counties, all three of them in the northeast,  and once more, all untouched by the new rail.

Number 13?  Warren County, right along the Dayton-Cincinnati route.

While some say this project  isn’t about commuters, that’s fine, but then don’t tell me it’s about getting congestion off the freeways, because I think those are two totally different things to address.

The thing is, for all of these doubts, I really want this to succeed. I want it to draw passengers and bring in cash so maybe it can be expanded and hey, maybe even spark the development of high-speed rail. I want it to lead to a day when I can go visit my Columbus and Cincinnati friends by train and be back to work on Monday, or maybe a day when my brothers and I can go catch a Browns game without driving out of our own county.

In other words, I desperately want to be wrong about all of this.

But right now, I just don’t see these rails leading to any of those destinations.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, Ohio, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

X-Files, Glass Robots and Star Wars.

I finally introduced Kelsey to The X-Files last weekend, and it was so much fun I wrote about it over at GeekDad , so why not take a few minutes to check it out and revisit Mulder and Scully and our stretchy friend Eugene Victor Tooms?

And speaking of GeekDad, an interview I did last week with Oregon artist Eric Bailey about his flameworked glass robots got linked and quoted yesterday by Cory Freaking Doctorow over at BoingBoing, which is, um, awfully neat. No, seriously.

Last thing for this morning: One day in, My Quest for 1,000 Star Wars Fans is approximately 1/250th of the way there, so many, many thanks to those who ordered Collect All 21! and for everyone’s continued support through sharing, blogging Twittering and ReTweeting.

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Books, geek, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wanted: 1,000 Star Wars Fans and Friends

I don’t even know how to start this, really, so here’s what’s going on: Remember that sort-of-funny little story about my wife’s car conking out? Well, as it turns out, we have absolutely NOT reached the day where we can laugh about it, because as I sit here, staying up late unable to sleep, there are two possibilities. Either Jenn’s car is shot beyond repair, or it can be fixed – for an amount surpassing that of one of our monthly mortgage payments.

I realize in the life-encompassing gigantic picture of things, this matters exactly squat, but in the here-and-now small picture of things, it sucks awfully hard, especially coming on the heels of Jenn unable to work for two weeks because she had pneumonia.

Even though I’ve been building a pretty decent freelance career which I love, the truth is we’ve been playing a pretty hardscrabble game of catch-up ever since I lost my job last March, and seeing 2010 off to such a largely cruddy start in terms of things I can’t control – say, pneumonia and timing chains – is exceedingly disheartening.

I thought quite awhile about whether or not to write this post, because you know, in the face of all that can go wrong in a world and a life, our current struggles seem insignificant in comparison to so many others. But as a friend of mine put it when I was venting and simultaneously wrestling with this notion of feeling guilty about venting, “Yes, they’re relatively small problems. But that doesn’t mean they’re not real.” And you know what? It’s more important to me to try and do what’s necessary to take care of my home and family than to worry about whether or not someone on the internet thinks I’m whiny.

The super-frustrating thing is how relatively little it would take to set things on track. And here’s what I’ve realized: If I could somehow sell just a thousand copies of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years through Lulu – print or download(PDF download = Just Five Bucks),   it doesn’t matter – it would go an awfully long way toward making things a lot more OK than they are at the moment.

I mean, one thousand, right? Heck, even reaching out to people in just the United States, all I’d have to do would be to convince 20 people per state – less than TWO DOZEN people in each; less than ONE PERSON for every THREE COUNTIES in the country! – there are my 1,000 Star Wars fans right freaking there. And I know there are more than a couple outside these borders.

And yes, I know that some people prefer Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and I’m insanely grateful for every one of those distributed sales, too, but they bring in a significant chunk less than the Lulu direct sales, and at any rate, those take a few months to get reported anyway, while Lulu pays out monthly. And to be perfectly honest, things are desperate now and looking for a boost in April just doesn’t spark my hopes at the moment. (In fact, if you really don’t want to deal with Lulu and would settle for an electronic version of the book – I don’t have many physical copies on hand right now – shoot me an email and I’ll sell you the PDF directly.)

I am, of course, fully aware that this makes me sound like a chump, because I know damn well that a thousand is no small number – unless you’re talking about the internet.

My hope is this: Many of my awesomely supportive friends and acquaintances have, well, other friends and acquaintances, who, I’d bet, also know still more people. There is, in fact, no people shortage. And from the miracles of generosity I’ve seen accomplished online,and with the sheer numbers of people all willing to do something small that adds up to something heart-shatteringly incredible, I know that the right Tweet or ReTweet, the casual Facebook mention, the quick blog link or post in the right corners of the web are all it takes to just make amazing things happen.

To my fellow first-generation Star Wars fans, parents, and former kids of the 1980s who have already bought the book, you remain incredibly fantastic and endlessly encouraging  people, and I humbly hope you’ll continue spreading the word about it somehow.

I’m not asking for amazing – I’d just like to be able to tell my wife that everything is fine, and I’d really, really like to believe it myself.

January 27, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Weblogs | , , , , | 5 Comments

Building blocks.

Update: Fellow GeekDad writer Jonathan Liu says these look an awful lot like Wechsler Blocks, which I’d never heard of, but are (were?) apparently used in psychological testing. Interesting.

I can’t recall a time when these blocks were not among my toys.

Just a couple of blocks, about one-and- 9/16 inches square on a side.

When I go back in memory, they’re there, in the wooden toy box – the one with the hinged, great-potential-for-finger-smashing lid –  in the space where I played next to the kitchen of our house in Lima, Ohio, the first place I remember living.

And even when I’d outgrown them, they stayed part of the “box of blocks” that expanded through two more Booth boys and eventually filled about two-thirds of the original mailbox from the North Canton house where we all grew up.

Somewhere in my adult years, I got hold of two of these blocks and kept them around because they reminded me of being a little kid and how fascinated I was with the number of patterns it was possible to create in diamonds and triangles and stripes and zig-zags.

General Mills Fun Group black and white blocks

"Triangle Man, Triangle Man..."

Within the last few months, I found three more (I don’t remember how many were in the set originally – maybe eight) drifting around the bottom of the toy box that mom keeps at her house for all her grandkids, and I reunited them with the pair I had.

A side note which I like: The tiny embossed copyright on each block reads GMFGI, which stands for General Mills Fun Group, Inc. and is also present on several of my earliest Star Wars figures.

Adding the trio of new blocks pretty quickly reawakened the memory of those patterns I made when I was little, but I’ve also found myself messing around with new arrangements, using the corners and angled views as opposed to the sort of flat, mosaic designs that use just one set of faces.

You know what would be cool? Someone with time and patience and more talent than me could do some awfully nifty stuff with a couple hundred – or thousand – of these. I wouldn’t mind having a couple more myself, but honestly, I’ve never seen another set, and I haven’t been able to find them online.

It’s probably for the best – I do have work to do.

January 25, 2010 Posted by | geek, Ohio | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Pong ping to the past.

Most of the time, when I talk about the first home video game system we had when I was little, I’m talking about the Atari. (Much like “Star Wars: A New Hope,” I’ll never call this thing either by its full name – “Atari Video Computer System” or its later-popularized numeric designation, the 2600.)

Truth is, though, there was a predecessor in the Booth household: One of these Radio Shack TV Scoreboard games.

I think my dad was itching to get one after seeing something like it at my Uncle John’s house, and it was quite the big deal when we hooked it up to the family room TV.

Looking at that picture on Retro Thing activated some deep-seated tactile and muscle memory: I can feel the heft of the larger “right player” controller, which housed the brains of the thing, and the lightweight “it’s-just-a-plastic-knob” feel of the detachable “left player” controller. My fingertips can recall the resistance and satisfying clicks of the power switch and the selector toggles, and the way the paddles smoothly turned

What our system had, though, that my uncle’s lacked, was that monstrous plastic Dirty Harry hand cannon gun you used to play the two target-shooting games. Seriously: That thing was huge. Yeah, it was hollow and plastic and ridiculously light, and the trigger-pull was a wholly unsatisfying tiny >click!<  but look at the damn thing. Long after we had abandoned this game for the fields of Combat and the march of Space Invaders, we cut the cord off the bottom of this gun and used it for Halloween costumes and stuff like that.

Even after the TV Scoreboard lost its place in our living room, my parents let me hook it up to the old black-and-white Zenith TV we kept in the spare bedroom upstairs. (The one with the power knob missing and which, after shutoff, condensed the whole picture into a brilliant blue-white star which slowly faded from the center of the screen over about five minutes.)

Double-bonus flashback: Years later, when my cousins got their first-generation Nintendo and we all took turns, I totally DESTROYED all those little Mario-talented warriors when it came to Duck Hunt.

I credit the hours spent on “target” and “skeet.”

January 21, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, geek, video games | , , , | 1 Comment

Small connections, family history.

The “family trunk” sits in our upstairs hallway.

From Johan Michael Schoenberger to, eventually, me.

It’s packed with old photos, school records, birth and death certificates, newspapers, land deeds, keys, coins, pocket knives, class rings, pins and other bits and pieces of lives come and gone and ongoing.

Sometimes I think about what was in it when it reached the United States in 1838; what my 22-year-old great-great-great-great grandfather Johan Michael Schoenberger might have packed in here for the trip he made from Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then, in 1847, to the northwest corner of this state that was just 44 years old itself. (I should note that the assertion that this trunk came over from Germany is pretty much unsubstantiated, and for all I know, every Schoenberger branch – and there are many – has a trunk about which they believe the same thing.)

I’ve written about some of the stuff in there before: The newspapers announcing the 1969 moon landing, for instance; the jacket I had when my Dad was in Korea; the note I just mentioned the other day.

Some of these things kind of tell their own stories, while others – until I do a little brain-picking of people like my mom and grandma – remain just, you know, “stuff.”

It’s pretty overwhelming to imagine working my way through the whole trunk, but much easier to just start with little pieces and write what I can.

Click for a bigger version.

For instance, there are these nested dolls from Japan, which were in a box of things mom recently gave me to put in the trunk. The outermost ones are about 2.5 inches tall.

Now, I can actually remember these from when I was really little – picking them up and taking them apart for the first time in decades, I was kind of surprised at how clumsy I felt, and then I realized the last time I had done this, my fingers were a lot smaller – and I had always assumed my Dad brought them back from his time overseas in the Air Force.

The thing is, though, mom included a note with them that said, “from my Aunt Mary Jane while in Japan in WW II.”

Okay, then, time to ask mom a little more.

Mary Jane was a sister of my mom’s mom, Donna Ruth (of the aforementioned “square meeting” note). And while I suppose it’s possible I met her sometime during my life, I don’t remember it. Mom was also able to tell me her Aunt Mary Jane was a nurse in the Navy, and that her married last name was Davis.

Mary Jane (Beidelscheis) Davis

My great aunt Mary Jane, former Navy Nurse.

I found her obituary – and this picture – archived online at South Coast Today:

FAIRHAVEN — Mary Jane (Beidelschies) Davis, 87, of Fairhaven, formerly of Dartmouth, died Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005, at Alden Court Nursing and Rehabilitation Center after a brief illness. She was the widow of Clifford Sumner Davis Jr.

Born and raised in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, the daughter of the late Harry and Ethel Hope (Justus) Beidelschies, she lived in Swansea before moving to Dartmouth in 1962.

She was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Fairhaven.

Mrs. Davis was a registered nurse in the Navy Nurses Corps; she served aboard hospital ships during the Korean War until she retired as a lieutenant commander.

She was a member of the Retired Navy Nurses Association. She graduated from Grant Hospital School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio.

Survivors include a daughter, Susan E. Oliveira of New Bedford; a son, Paul C. Davis of Hollis, N.H.; a brother; Allen Beidelschies of Ohio; a sister, Ann Binau of Ohio; two grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; and several nieces and nephews.

She was the sister of the late John Beidelschies, Paul Beidelschies, Robert Beidelschies, Russell Beidelschies, Donna Ruth Schoenberger and Leah Comstock.

It’s funny, seeing some of those names in a four-year-old obituary from a newspaper a few hundred miles distant, and associating a them with memories of houses and visits and family reunions.

The only connection I can make with my great-aunt Mary Jane, though, is these tiny wooden toys whose origin I only learned within the past few days.

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Family history, Ohio, photos | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The roots of my peculiarity run deep.

The chaos continues around the Booth house today, but I couldn’t resist sharing this.

I have a trunk full of a lot of our family history-type stuff, and someday I’d like to document it all, but last night during my moments of organizing, I came across a typed section of a letter from my maternal grandmother, Donna Ruth Schoenberger, to one of her relatives. Now, for perspective, she died in December 1973, a little more than a month past my third birthday, so while I don’t know when this was written, I’m guessing I was maybe two, two-and-a-half years old, and staying with my grandparents at their farm outside Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Here’s what this clipped-out fragment reads, in part:

Had Johnny for 6 days. Really enjoyed him. He went with me to my to my circle meeting on Tuesday. He was real good. Said he did not want to go to a circle meeting, he wanted to go to a square meeting….

>ba-dum!<

Thanks, folks, I’ll be here all week!

So, yeah, my odd attempts at humor apparently go way back and maybe say a little something about my family which I absolutely love.


January 15, 2010 Posted by | geek, Ohio | , , , , | 1 Comment

Winter afternoon adventure.

So today was ticking along OK, I guess. Got another freelance assignment, and also managed to get some emails sent and some work connected with The Learned Owl visit next month.

And then, around 3 p.m., I leave the house to go pick up Kelsey from her after-school Power of the Pen practice.I take Jenn’s car because I need to change the flat tire on mine and since I haven’t had to drive anywhere in the past couple days, I haven’t done it yet. (Fooooooreshadowing!)

I’ve given myself extra time to swing down to Our Friendly Neighborhood Post Office and mail a package. Swinging into the parking lot, I’m slightly dismayed to see the place is oddly packed and the line’s out the door, so I loop ’round the back of the building to turn around and –

Jenn’s. Car. Dies.

Just stops. No coughs, no sputters, just No More Go.

Well, shit. At least I’m here behind the Post Office and not blocking traffic or anything.

I reach for my cell phone but can’t quite reach it because it’s sitting on my effing desk in the office at home.

At this point, my primary concern is getting hold of Kelsey to let her know I’m going to be late and she should go hang out at the library, which is attached to her school building.

So I zip up my coat and start walking, figuring it’s sunny and not too chilly, and our auto mechanic’s shop, as it happens, is pretty close by. (It’s almost exactly a half-mile – I checked later on Google Maps.) Once I’m there, he lets me use his phone to call my brother, who comes and picks me up in his car a few minutes later.

I call Kelsey with Adam’s cell phone, and then we return to the Post Office and try to jump Jenn’s car with the cables, but the engine’s not turning over.

Okay, so: I go inside the now-totally-NOT busy Post Office (and I just now realize I could have mailed my package right then, but of course, at the moment, I wasn’t really givingashit about that at all), and tell the woman working there what’s going on, and she kind of freaks out a bit and, half-panicked, wants to know how long I plan to have my car there. (Well, I didn’t plan to have it there at all, so clearly my planning skills today aren’t something you want to rely on anyway, right?) Turns out she’s worried that the afternoon mail truck will arrive and be unable to turn around in his usual manner, but if we can get the car moved into one of the spaces out front – of which there are about four total – that’s fine with her.

So Adam and I push the car around the building, and by the time we get out front, there’s exactly one space left, and we push the car into it. We head back to his house, and he lets me take their minivan to pick up Kelsey.

When she and I get back, Adam and I decide the thing to do so we don’t get in trouble with the Post Office is to drive down and push Jenn’s car the half-mile from there to the mechanic’s shop. How bad can it be, right? I mean, once you’ve got momentum and the car’s going, right? And it’s not an uber-busy road or anything, but if we’re going to do this, we should go now before it gets dark, so that’s what we do.

We get down there, push the car backwards out of the space, and nose it gently to the road’s edge and then shove it in park to wait. And there’s no, “The next car coming is waaaay down there” thinking. It’s completely, “We’re not going until we don’t see anything coming from that direction.” Fortunately, we’re making a right-hand turn, so we only have to worry about half the traffic flow.

After about five minutes or so, we get a break and we’re off and rolling. He’s behind the car, I’m pushing from the driver’s side with the door open so I can steer. And it’s not actually that bad for about the first tenth of a mile. Hell, we even handle the train tracks pretty easily.

A woman slows down as she’s passing and asks if we need gas or a cell phone or anything, and we thank her but point out that we’re going to the garage just up the street. Still, the fact that she inquired at all was awfully nice.

What happens, of course, is that the ever-so-slight downhill we were enjoying reversed itself and became and ever-so-slight uphill over the next couple tenths of a mile. (If you trust the Google map elevation, the road actually climbs about 15 feet or so during this stretch. Seems like a lot to me, but then again, gradual slopes can be deceiving.) I start realizing I’m working pretty damn hard and that a car, even rolling in neutral, gets heavy after awhile, and I’m considering whether we should scoot over to the side and take a break. But we keep going. Adam sounds like he’s working pretty hard too, but it usually takes him longer to admit it.

A point where the road curves left and goes downhill just a little is coming up, but I’m not sure I can finish the climb there without a brief recharge, so we edge to the right and stop near a driveway.

While we’re catching our breath, Adam points out with chuckling dismay that I have managed to steer the right front tire into the only sizable pile of snow along this entire freaking bit of roadside, so that when we do decide to resume the push, we’re going to have to back the car up a couple feet first.

A truck pulls over in front of us and a guy gets out and asks if we’re OK, and again, we explain that we’re almost to our goal, but we appreciate the offer – which is the truth. However, Adam does ask me to get out my cell phone (I picked it up at home just before going to get Kelsey – ’cause I’ve learned my lesson, right?) and fake like I’m talking so that we don’t force people to keep stopping and asking if we need help.

Maybe ten minutes later, we’re rested and ready to finish this, so we wait for another complete break in traffic, rock the car back out of the snow, and start it rolling forward again. Once we pass the curve, the pushing gets a ton easier again, and now the mechanic’s shop is in sight, and I’m looking back over my shoulder eyeing the road because  1) the shop is on the left, so we’re going to have to cross both lanes of traffic, and 2) the shop’s entrance is an uphill push, and I’m hoping we can get a break in the cars and keep our momentum going.

Of course, all I see now is a steady line of cars slowing to come around us.

When we near the entrance, we have to stop and wait, and another truck pulls in front of us, and another guy walks back and offers to help. This time, we’re happy to be able to say we’re only trying to get across the street, and once a break comes, the three of us get the car into the lot.

I take the key into the mechanic, and now Adam and I have a half-mile walk back to the Post Office.

Yes, he says, we’re now Those Idiots Out Walking On The Road.

Bah, I say – I’ve already walked this stretch once today, and besides, how many times were we Those Crazy Guys Out Running At Five In The Morning?

In fact, I pointed out, he and I had traveled this very same length of pavement in this very same direction once before, long before sunup, on the day of my 20-mile training run.

The sun is nearing the horizon, and the air is getting a lot cooler, and some of the passing cars have their headlights on, and we’re talking and laughing.

And for a couple minutes, my mind is taken off worrying.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, Ohio | , | 4 Comments

Comics and Star Wars at Learned Owl

I’m awfully excited about this.

Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio is one of those great independent local bookstores that everyone should be lucky enough to have close by, and the folks who run it are generously hosting Adam Besenyodi and me for a double-shot-of-geek afternoon on Saturday Feb. 13 from 3-5 p.m.

Adam’s going to read from and discuss his book Deus Ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan, while I’m bringing Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek: The First 30 Years to the party. So look for a couple hours of total 1980s pop culture nostalgia mixed with the joys of sharing this wonderful stuff with our kids. We’ll also have copies of the books on hand to sign and sell.

Hearing Adam get all excited about comics and read from Deus Ex Comica is just plain fun and entertaining, and I’d drive to Hudson for his talk even if I wasn’t on the schedule myself.

My own readings from Collect All 21! will be accompanied by some suitably embarrassing childhood photos, so if you’re of a certain age, feel free to listen and snicker at my vintage 1982 brown corduroys even while deep down in places you don’t like to admit, you had a pair just like them, or maybe even in avocado green.

Learned Owl is at 204 N. Main Street in Hudson OH  – 44236 – and it’s within super-easy reach of the gloriously accessible Interstate 80, meaning with less than a two-hour drive, you can zing in from even far-flung locales like Sandusky or Pittsburgh or Mansfield and spend a nice day in Northeast Ohio.  (Hey, if you have young kids? Make a day of it – there’s storytime and crafts with Olivia the Pig from the Ian Falconer books at the shop the same day. With pizza, no less.)

January 13, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, Ohio, Travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

But can she play “Enter Sandman” on Expert?

A couple Decembers back, Jenn & I spent a night gaming with our friends Keith & Marcia, and I wrote about playing “Cue Me”:

Too many rules to explain here, but it was a ton of fun and my wife totally wins bonus points for guessing the answer “Boston Tea Party” on the single-word clue “harbor.” Also, seeing her throw sets of 12-sided dice hit some middle-school-D&D-playing nerve in me and made her even more attractive than usual. Nerdgrrrrreow.

Yeah, well, Danica McKellar playing Rock Band on last night’s Big Bang Theory had a similar effect.

Rock On, Winnie Cooper.

Image: Sonja Flemming/CBS

January 12, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, geek, Television | , , , | 1 Comment

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