Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Last Visit to Backlist Books

A few months after re-introducing me to Dungeons & Dragons, my friend Paul suggested we visit Backlist Books in Massillon for an afternoon of gaming in the then-newly-relaunched Gamma World. It was the first time I had sat down with a group of strangers (except for Paul, of course) for a role-playing session.

We had enough fun that Fred, owner of Backlist, started a Sunday afternoon Gamma World campaign in a setting of his own creation. It lasted several months, and when we’d completed that quest, Fred asked if I’d be interested in joining one of his Wednesday night D&D Encounters groups. I started in September 2011, and over most of the next year, I played through three adventures with two different groups, and I was learning Pathfinder in the fall when Fred broke the news that the store would be closing at the end of 2012.

Besides gaming, there was always plenty of conversation about books and movies and TV and video games and (for us older folks) 1980s pop culture and alternative music. Fred and I also talked running in the months leading up to the Canton Marathon.

Since becoming a Backlist regular, I made a real effort to order new books through the store and reserve Amazon for buying other things.

Kelsey and I drove over on Monday, Dec. 31, to complete one final purchase:

That’s a Handmade By Fred eight-foot bookcase, now in its new home here in my office. (I did have to fire up the circular saw and lop off about 5 inches from the top, since the room’s ceiling height is only 93 inches.) It’s even constructed with an angled base, so it’s nice and stable. I also really dig having a bookcase with a top shelf that – for me, anyway – requires the use of a small stepstool.

There’s a lot of space on those shelves occupied by bits of former Backlist inventory – books from several editions of D&D; science fiction new (Ready Player OneThe Inexplicables) and old (Gateway; At the Mountains of Madness); TSR “Endless Quests” books to replace the ones I bought in middle school and lost long ago; John Green, and Jim C. Hines, and a pulpy-covered paperback collection of vintage Star Wars comics.

All in all, a fine reminder of a few years of really good times.

Thanks, Fred!

December 31, 2012 Posted by | Books, geek, Ohio, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Things About My Grandma

My grandmother Joan (pronounced “Jo-Ann”)  passed away yesterday. This is one of the earliest pictures I can find of the two of us, and I realize today that in this photograph, she is only a few years older than I am right now.

Here are some things to know about my grandma, Joan (Engle) (Booth) Schoenberger, who was always kind of quietly amazing:

She was from Massillon, Ohio and counted Paul Brown among her high school teachers. (For the record, she always told me he wasn’t a particularly good teacher, because he was constantly focused on something else.)

Her first husband – my paternal grandfather – died when he was only 34 years old, so my grandma raised my dad and my uncle on her own, a single mom in small-town Ohio. Only as an adult and parent did I begin to grasp how difficult that must have been.

She moved with her boys from Massillon to Upper Sandusky, Ohio, and became a librarian.

She loved to read. And while my parents and Sesame Street encouraged my reading habit early on, it was visits to grandma and the unfettered access to the shelves of Upper Sandusky’s Carnegie Public Library that fed my addiction. Even though we lived across the state, grandma would let me check out stacks and stacks of books, and I still remember some of them, like The Gollywhopper Egg and all the Bobbsey Twins mysteries. There was an old painting of a man hanging on one of the walls, and I remember grandma pointing out that his eyes followed you creepily. Grandma was also responsible for unknowingly introducing me to Blue Snaggletooth. (This library connection stayed strong: When I was in college and obsessively seeking All Things Ray Bradbury, I went to the Upper Sandusky library on a search for “The October Game,” and found it in a collection there. The librarians didn’t know me, but they let me check out the book despite having no library card and having a home address some 110 miles away, because I was Joan’s grandson. And she had already been retired for awhile.)

Grandma always laughed and said that she wasn’t very sharp, but get her in a game of Oh, Hell and she would begin every hand with a woe-is-me reminder that she had no idea what to bid or to play, and then she’d rack up the points while simultaneously thwarting your bids and insisting the entire time that it was all luck.

She was fun to hang out with.

I was at her wedding: My mom’s father had been a widower since the early 1970s. He and my grandma Joan were married in the 1980s, throwing our family tree into giddy chaos.

Her house was always a special place to visit, whether it was for a holiday, or the Wyandot County Fair, or just because we were going over for the weekend because Mom and Dad needed to take care of something in Upper.

This chair belonged to her.

When I attended Bowling Green, my friends and I would stop in and visit her from time to time on the way to Columbus. She usually offered to buy us dinner at the local bar – The Pour House – which served excellent wet burritos.

I am so very glad that Kelsey knew her great-grandma well, and that the two of them got to share each other’s company for 15 years.

When I read my copy of Giant John – which I’m pretty sure is a library discard my grandma gave me – I will always hear her voice.

November 15, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, Family history, Ohio | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Massillon Meets The Cincinnati Kid


Urban art in Massillon. Kels & I think it looks like Bruce McCulloch.

August 27, 2011 Posted by | 1990s, geek, Ohio | , , , | Leave a comment

“I have an existential map …”

… it has ‘You are here’ written all over it.” (Stephen Wright)

Maybe that’s what Google Maps needs to shoot for, seeing as how a search for Canton, Ohio – while correctly labeled itself – once  again leads to Massillon.

You are here. Or not.

It’s also been brought to my attention in the comments on a previous post about this that at least the error is balanced somewhat:

Click to enlarge.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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