Sunday, October 15, 2017

Swimsover 2017

  It has remained warm enough over the past couple of weeks that I've been able go in the pool almost every day. In fact, last Tuesday evening, I was able to take a post-volleyball "midnight swim" (the latest in the year I've ever had one). But the calendar has reached mid-October and the "seasonable" weather is finally catching up to it, so it is once again time for Swimsover.
  This afternoon, with the air temperature in the mid-70s and the water at just about 70 degrees, I took my last swim of the season. Tomorrow, the cover goes on and we begin the countdown to First Dunk 2018.

"Come on, Froggy, can this really be the end!"



Monday, September 11, 2017

The Hofstra Unispan

  Way back in Batman Family #6 in 1976, I wrote a story about Robin battling the Joker's Daughter on top of the Hudson University Unispan, an enclosed bridge that spanned Interstate 24, connecting the north and south campuses.


  Said structure was modeled on the Unispan at Hofstra University, my alma mater. Not coincidentally, it also spans Interstate 24 and connects the north and south campuses.


  Every dozen years or so, someone at Hofstra would stumble across the comic, decide it was newsworthy, and would get in touch with me for a story. On one occasion, I was asked if the use of the Unispan was a coincidence. When I replied that I was an alumnus, his response was, "Really?"

  Now, some four decades after I put the Unispan in a story, Hofstra has put me in the Unispan. A mural running along both interior walls shows highlights of the school's 80+ year history, including a couple of dozen notable staff and alumni. I was astonished to find out that I was among them.


  The caption reads: "Alum Bob Rozakis '73 is the author of more than 400 DC Comics books, including one that paid homage to Hofstra's Unispan connecting North and South campuses by depicting a fight between Robin and the Joker's daughter atop the 'Hudson University' Unispan."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Another CTY Summer... with a Twist

  I'm back to my annual stint at the Writing & Imagination instructor for Johns Hopkins' CTY (Center for Talented Youth) program in a couple of days. This year, however, I will not be making the trek down to the Washington College campus in lovely, bucolic Chestertown, Maryland, the site I've been going to since 1996.
  Last summer, due to a drop in enrollment, there were not enough students to run a second-session WRIT class at Chestertown, so after three weeks there, I packed everything up and moved to the Lafayette College site in Easton, Pennsylvania. (Overnight, I went from being the wise old sage at Chestertown to the new kid on the block at Easton.) Despite the change in venue, there was little difference in how the class went and the students were just as productive as they would have been in C'town. (An amusing note: One of the girls in my class told me she had wanted to take the course at the Chestertown site, but had to come to Easton. So, she would have been in my class even if there had been one in C'town.)
  When it came time to re-up for 2017, I expected that I would again be splitting my time between two campuses, but asked for both sessions in the same place if it was available. Initially, it wasn't an option, but someone else's situation changed and I was offered all six weeks in Easton. So that it where I will be.
  It will seem odd not to be at Washington College. (I've spent more time living in their dorms than any of their four-year students do!) There are people I'm used to seeing every summer and I know the campus and town like the back of my hand.
  On the flip side, however, Easton is two hours closer to home and the route takes me within four blocks of my son's house, meaning Papa can drop in and visit with Alex on the way back and forth.
  I'll do a bit more exploring of Easton and the area this time around and get to know the new set of staffers a bit better. Regardless of the site, I know the class will be creative and productive and a lot of fun. So, as I say every year, "Bring on the kids."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Teen Titans

  My entire run on Teen Titans (issues #44 to 53) plus the three issues of Batman Family that introduced Duela Dent (a.k.a. The Joker's Daughter) are a major portion of the soon-to-be-released Teen Titans: The Bronze Age Omnibus.

  The run of stories is also notable for the introduction of The Bumblebee, who has since gotten a prime spot among the DC Superhero Girls.
  And, if that's not enough to entice you, there's even an introduction to the volume written by yours truly. You can check it out on Amazon with this link: TT Omnibus

First Dunk 2017

  The "early April" weather we've been having for the past six weeks seems to finally be going away. The pool was opened last week and today, with the water at 69 degrees and the air in the mid-70s, it was time to take the First Dunk of the season.


  Ironically, I am wearing the same tee shirt for the First Dunk that I wore for Swimsover last fall. I look  much happier in this pic.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Another Visit from Alex

  Since his day care was closed for the holidays, but Mommy and Daddy had to work, Alex came for a three-day stay with Papa and Grandma. Unlike the past couple of visits, which were marked by wet and freezing weather, this week was filled with warm sunshine.
  On Tuesday, we went to Jones Beach. Lots of other people had the same idea and we noticed a large number of family groups that were grandparents and small children. Clearly, Alex was not the only child whose parents were working.

Wearing one of Papa's hats and Grandma's sunglasses
  Much of our play at the beach involved the adventures of four trucks we had brought. We dug a big hole that was over a hill on the road that the trucks were traveling on. This, I was advised, was a trap set by evil villains and when the trucks came over the hill and fell in it, the villains covered them with sand. Luckily, I was able to mark the spot or we would have been digging for quite awhile trying to find the trucks in the "sand pit of doom."
Preparing the road that led to the "sand pit of doom"
  The visit also included a haircut from Alex the barber and this was a major event because it was the first time Alex (the grandson) sat in the "big boy seat" rather than on my lap. He and Alex (the barber) actually worked out this deal during the last visit: If Alex (the grandson) sat on his own, he would get three lollipops. Neither Alex had forgotten the deal and, I am happy to report, it went perfectly.
  The barber shop visit resulted in one extra bonus for Alex. Though we had gone to McDonalds for lunch the day before, he pointed out that whenever he gets a haircut "you know what we do next, Papa!" So, he got his second Happy Meal in as many days, this time from the drive-thru "because we can take it home and I can eat some of it later." (The french fries were all gone by the time we got home.)
  There was plenty of other playing too. Alex and Grandma spent quite a bit of time drawing Alextown on the driveway and then driving various cars and trucks around it. He and I battled the super-villains Rockmaster, Stonemaster, and their sidekick Pebble (who were actually three pillows). The trains took over the floor of the family room, hero and villain action figures battled in the bathtub, and Transformers were constantly changing forms to fight the evil Decepticons.
  It was a happy and exciting visit for all involved.

The happy visitor to Camp Papa and Grandma

On the Bike Path

  As the weather has gotten nicer, I've been able to go for a bicycle ride almost every day. Most rides include a portion of a bicycle path that stretches about six miles from Bethpage State Park to Sunrise Highway. The point I get on it is just about the middle, so I can go north to the park or south to Sunrise.
  Not surprisingly, plenty of other people have the same idea. And on weekday afternoons, most of those other people are "men of a certain age." Retired guys, like me, who have their afternoons free. Some take leisurely rides -- the woods are pleasant and there are a stream and some small lakes along the way -- while others seem to be trying to regain their lost youth by proving they can race along at top speeds. (Some of those I later find along the way, sitting on a bench, taking what I perceive to be a much-needed rest. It's like the tortoise and the hare; you go racing past me but eventually I catch up and pass you.)
  We share the bike path with walkers, joggers, people with baby strollers, folks walking dogs, and parents with small children just learning to ride. Common courtesy necessitates that, when you are about to overtake any of these people (or even other bikers moving at a slower pace), you give a warning of your approach. Some bikers have bells or horns, but a simple "On your left!" is enough to safely prevent potential accidents.
  Unfortunately, common courtesy does not appear to be so common any more. More often than not, bikers speed past without any warning, as if they own the path and everyone else should stay out of their way.  On a few occasions, when I have warned and then passed people, they have thanked me for letting them know, seemingly surprised that anyone still does it.
  Just one more casualty of the current social climate...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

On the Bench

Sitting on a bench on the Boardwalk at Jones Beach...

It's chilly, with a steady breeze, but while the sun is out, it is comfortable. As the clouds roll in, the temperature drops from 54 degrees to 46.

All sorts of people walk by. So many of them could be turned into writing prompts.
  Most people are dressed for the conditions, many in parkas, with hats and gloves and scarves. One young guy strolls by in shorts and a long-sleeved tee-shirt... and a wool hat pulled down over his ears!
  One man, seeing that I am reading, says, "Oh. A scholar!" I smile and do not point out that I am reading a James Patterson novel.
  A young woman stops nearby and uses the railing for a variety of leg exercises. She looks like a ballerina who has lost her ballet class. Each time I glance back, I half-expect her to be spinning like a top.
  A woman points out to sea and says to her husband, "There are five ships out there." "I see two," he replies, shaking his head. I scan the horizon and have to agree with him. Perhaps she has telescopic vision.
  Two men on bicycles who first passed in a leisurely manner with the wind at their backs are now headed in the opposite direction, not looking happy at all.
  Two small children are climbing a nearby sand dune as their grandmother looks on. "You're not allowed to fall down," she warns them.
  A woman walks past, earbuds in place, but I can hear the music. I wonder just how high she has the volume turned up.
  Two men, probably about my age, walk by and I catch a snippet of their conversation. "Reckless promiscuity! That's the real problem."

  I mention this last one to Laurie as we drive home. She points out that promiscuity is, by definition, reckless. Indeed, but is it the real problem?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lego My Calculator 2

  Saw The Lego Batman Movie this afternoon and thought it was lots of fun. I look forward to watching it with Alex when it comes out on DVD.
  Meantime, another of those things I never thought I'd see: My name in the credits on a movie screen...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lego My Calculator

  The Bumblebee is not the only character I created that is making it into high-profile entertainment. The Calculator makes his big-screen debut in The Lego Batman Movie.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Polar Ball

  It started as a joke during our summer weekend volleyball games that we should get together on New Year's Day and play, regardless of the weather. As our outdoor season came to an end, the idea had grown from "Ha ha, yeah, right!" to "We're really going to do this."
  A discussion about how many people would actually be available on New Year's morning resulted in the change to Saturday, January 7th. Then came the logo...
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  And then came the day we were scheduled to play, with a temperature of 22 degrees and plenty of snow in the forecast. Would anyone actually show up, especially since it started snowing an hour before game time?
  You betcha! Twenty-six crazy volleyball players had a great time for two hours, and "Nobody's going to believe we did this" was heard more than once.
  Afterward, it was off to a nearby pub to warm up and have lunch.
  Of course, to commemorate the event, there were t-shirts.
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Yours truly with Chris and Sammy modeling our shirts

  And even a video by Roy, who had a "helmet-cam," which you can check out here. (You can see me doing an over-the-shoulder return at 1:35 in the video.)
  We're already planning for next year!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Men Seeking Pizza 2016

  Our second year as Men Seeking Pizza had us expanding our horizons, exploring pizzerias in nearby Plainedge and North Massapequa along with revisiting many of the Farmingdale ones we'd ranked in 2015. As with last year, we found a few really good pies, many that were middle-of-the-pack-but-I-wouldn't-turn-it-down, and a couple places that, well, let's just say we're not going to bother going back in 2017.
   This year had an interesting turn of events when the pizzeria we ranked as #3 went out of business (and came back as a Mexican restaurant weeks later). We decided that there was no accounting for taste in that neighborhood as the rest of the pizzerias in the area, some of which we ranked very low, are still in business.
  As it turned out, our semi-finalists for 2016 were three of the top four from 2015 - Mary's, Piazzetta, and Marino's - along with newcomer Crostini's. In the first round, Mary's, the 2015 champ, beat Crostini's and Marino's outscored Piazzetta.  The final face-off ended with two great pies and a close vote, with Marino's coming out on top as our 2016 champion.