A Little Background Information 2022

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 min­utes.

WHEN REQUIRED TO POST A PROFILE on the in­ternet, I usu­ally write, “Mys­tical lib­eral likes long walks alone at night in the dark in the city in the rain with an um­brella and a flask of 10-year-old Laphroaig.” While this bit of irony works for some readers (es­pe­cially any readers old enough to re­member the mania for per­sonal ads back in the ’90s), others want a little more in terms of per­sonal back­ground information.

Rather than re­gale you with tales of my pro­fes­sional ca­reer and the jobs I have held out­side of pub­lishing (in­cluding but hardly lim­ited to bar­tender, FEMA crew man­ager, and jew­elry en­graver), or the “true story” be­hind the story my brother and sister still love to tell about me flip­ping the Mo­nopoly board up in the air in anger when we were kids, or goals reached and dreams yet un­ful­filled, I’m just going to list things that I am still pas­sionate about at the age of 70. As each cat­e­gory could con­tain dozens of en­tries, I kept my se­lec­tions down to no more than a few for each.

“A Little Back­ground In­for­ma­tion 2022” is a Word­Press page, so it is not a part of the ac­tual blog posts and cannot be seen on the home­page. I placed a post ti­tled “A Little Back­ground In­for­ma­tion” that can be seen on the home­page to at­tract readers. If you came to this page via a search for that post, just click the back arrow in the upper left and it will take you back to where you started.

Or, should you want to see or read more of the Neal Umphred Dot Com blog, click here.

 

JenniferGarner 2022 HastyPuddiingAward 800 crop

In­spired by the re­cent movie YES DAY, on Sat­urday, Feb­ruary 5, 2022, Jen­nifer Garner was hon­ored as the 2022 Woman of the Year by Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s Hasty Pud­ding The­atri­cals the­ater troupe.

A few of my favorite people

Fa­vorite male singer
Elvis Presley

Fa­vorite fe­male singer
Petula Clark

Fa­vorite groups
Bea­tles (1961-1969)

Beach Boys (1962-1972)
Rolling Stones (1963-forever)
Kinks (1964-1971)
Byrds (1965-1968)

Fa­vorite fic­tion authors
Poul An­derson

James Clavell
Phillip Dick
Harlan El­lison
Anne Mc­Caf­frey
Lewis Shiner
Norman Spinrad

Fa­vorite non-fiction authors
Bill James

Stephen Jay Gould
Laura Kipnis

Fa­vorite poet
Tristan Tzara (for Ap­prox­i­mate Man 1)

Fa­vorite actors
Cary Grant

Kevin Costner

Fa­vorite actresses
Jean Arthur
Jen­nifer Garner

Fa­vorite movie directors
Woody Allen

Clint East­wood

Fa­vorite car­toon character
Bugs Bunny

Fa­vorite cos­tumed heroes
The Fan­tastic Four (Jack Kirby and Stan Lee)
Spi­derman (Steve Ditko and Stan Lee)

Fa­vorite cos­tume­less heroes
Dr. Strange (Steve Ditko and Stan Lee)

Pip­squeak (Wally Wood)
The Spirit (Will Eisner)

Fa­vorite above­ground comic books artists
Steve Ditko

Jack Kirby
Wally Wood

Fa­vorite un­der­ground comic artists
R. Crumb

Fred Schrier

Fa­vorite psy­che­delic poster artists
Rick Griffin

Wes Wilson

 

 WallyWood OverstreetPriceGuide 800

This art was done by Wally Wood for the cover of the 1979 edi­tion of Robert Over­street’s Comic Book Price Guide. It is an homage to the work that Wood did for the leg­endary EC comic books Weird Sci­ence and Weird Fan­tasy in the early ’50s.

A few of my favorite media things

Fa­vorite single
Elvis Presley, “Hound Dog” / “Don’t Be Cruel” (1956)

Fa­vorite album
The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966) 2

Fa­vorite novels
James Clavell, Tai-Pan (1966)

James Clavell, Shogun (1975)

Fa­vorite old movies
King Kong (1933)

The Scarlet Pim­pernel (1934)
Snow White And The Seven Dwarves (1937)

Fa­vorite re­cent movies
A Clock­work Or­ange (1971)

Dances With Wolves (1990)
Tin Cup
(1996)
Love Ac­tu­ally (2003)

Fa­vorite tele­vi­sion series
Star Trek (1966-1968)

Northern Ex­po­sure (1990-1995)
Friends (1994-2004)
Firefly (2002-2003) 3

 

KevinCostner TinCup poster 800

When I first met Berni, she handed me a VHS copy of the MICHAEL with John Tra­volta as an ornery archangel and said, “This is my go-to movie when I want to get away from it all and chill out.” At the time, I did not have a “chill out” movie, but I do now: TIN CUP with Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Cheech Marin, and Don Johnson.

A few of my favorite other things

Fa­vorite mixed drink
Tan­queray mar­tini, stirred not shaken, straight up, with one olive squeezed into the drink then tossed over my left shoulder. 4

Fa­vorite un­mixed drink
10-year-old Laphroaig

Fa­vorite drugs
Ly­sergic acid diethylamide

Fa­vorite par­tic­i­pa­tory sports
Base­ball

Vol­ley­ball

Fa­vorite spec­tator sports
Base­ball

Girl-watching

Fa­vorite base­ball team
Philadel­phia Phillies

Fa­vorite base­ball player
Pete Rose 5

Fa­vorite ice cream
Tillamook Vanilla Bean

Fa­vorite quotation
“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble—it’s what you know that just ain’t so.” 6

Fa­vorite pithy sayings
“Life’s tough, then you die.”

“So it goes.”

 

ArcaroGenell 800

When­ever I visit my home state of Penn­syl­vania, I im­me­di­ately head to Old Forge for pizza at Ar­caro & Genell’s restau­rant. If there is a better pizza any­where, I have yet to taste it.

A few personal background details

Status
I am in a long-term, com­mitted re­la­tion­ship with a woman who hates seeing her name on the in­ternet. 7

Af­fec­ta­tion
Foot­notes on my blog posts. 8

Snob­bery
I am a pizza snob who be­lieves that Old Forge, Penn­syl­vania, is the Pizza Cap­ital of the World.

Life­long love
I love cats in all shapes, sizes, and demeanors.

Life­long hate
I hate f*cking bul­lies! 9

 

ATOG 1970 onstage fist 1500 copy

In the “baby book” that my mother kept for me, she wrote that my fa­vorite song in 1956 was “Sh-Boom.” No doubt it was the Crew Cuts’ ho­mog­e­nized ver­sion of the Chord’s rhythm & blues classic. It doesn’t matter be­cause in my memory, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” has been my fa­vorite record for as long as I can re­member! For more on Mr. Presley, please check out my other blog, Elvis – A Touch Of Gold.

 

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FOOTNOTES:

1  The Mary Ann Caws trans­la­tion of 1973.

2  But there are a number of al­bums that could be con­sid­ered a close second. This in­cludes but is cer­tainly not lim­ited to Blonde On Blonde (1966), Younger Than Yes­terday (1967), Music From Big Pink and Beg­gars Ban­quet (1968), From Elvis In Mem­phis and Arthur (1969), and Sun­flower (1970).

3  Since we started binge-watching tele­vi­sion se­ries on DVD a few years ago, I could add so, so many more titles—but won’t.

4  That’s a mar­tini made the old-fashioned way: four-parts-gin-to-one-part-vermouth, not the modern 20-1 mix.

5  Be­cause as a Phillies fan I credit Rose with their first World Cham­pi­onship in 1980 to Rose.

6  There are many vari­a­tions on this ob­ser­va­tion but this is the one I heard first and it’s the one I like best. While it is often at­trib­uted to Mark Twain, ac­cording to the Quote In­ves­ti­gator web­site, scholars at the Center for Mark Twain Studies of Elmira Col­lege have found no sub­stan­tive ev­i­dence sup­porting the as­crip­tion to Twain.

7  I would love to re­gale you with tales of my con­quests, my loves, my losses—but that same internet-hating woman would have what’s left of my balls pickled in a jar on the mantle if I did.

8  Like these.

9  All bul­lies: phys­ical, emo­tional, in­tel­lec­tual, spir­i­tual, and in this country, po­lit­ical and eco­nomic bullies.