On the occasion of my 48th birthday I am presenting you my cyber-reader a list of 48 facts about me. I wonder how many of these you knew?
1. I was born in Normal, Illinois. "I left Normal as a one year old and never looked back."
2. I was born with a leg-muscle condition. I had to wear special orthopedic shoes and braces for about a year until I started walking.
3. I was born in The Year of The Dragon.
4. I'm the second son and fourth of four kids; "the baby."
5. I share my birthday with Julie Andrews, Jimmy Carter, the late Tom Bosley, and my friends Vivian and Diane. Go, Libras!
6. "Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison was the Number One song in the USA the week I was born.
7. Although I lived in Illinois and Boston as a child, the only place I remember is St. Louis. I consider myself a Missourian.
8. My blood type is A-. My parents used to joke that if I had tried a *little* harder I would have been A+
9. I'm told I nearly drowned in a Holiday Inn pool when I was about 1 1/2 years old.
10. I did not go to kindergarten.
11. I distinctly remember reading a book by myself when I was six years old, sitting on the curb in front of my house.
12. "Jesus Christ Superstar" is the first movie I remember going to. My parents took the whole family when it came out. I remember thinking that the actor who portrayed Judas was really dead and that the other actors didn't care.
13. I had a huge crush on Batgirl and Robin when I was a kid. I would have been fine if Batman hadn't shown up at all.
14. I nearly got sick the first time I saw "The Poseidon Adventure." My father had to take me out to the lobby and explain to me that it was all make-believe. (I would have been about 8 years old at the time.)
15. My father used to take whichever of us kids wanted to go with him to see old James Bond double-features and drive-ins. Sean Connery is still my favorite Bond.
16. The first comic book I remember reading is JUSTICE LEAGUE #112 (July 1974). Thank you, Brian Falconer!
17. The first music I remember recognizing were oldies. "American Graffitti" was popular and my sister had the LP. She listened to it all the time.
18. I have no idea why, but I knew Aquaman was my favorite super-hero as soon as I encountered him, in comics and in THE SUPER FRIENDS.
19. I used to make linoleum prints. There is still an illustration hanging in my parents' house that I did as a child.
20. The TV-movie "Helter Skelter" scared the hell out of me in 1976. To this day, Charles Manson is my main boogeyman, and the threat of being in the wrong place at the wrong time haunts me.
21. The last "family road trip" I took as a kid was the summer of 1976 when we drove cross-country from St. Louis to Vermont. It was fantastic.
22. I wrote and drew my own series of comic-books and super-hero prose stories called "The Animal League of Earth" for approximately six years. The last regular issue was #80, followed by a 150-page Annual (#6) in June, 1982.
23. I won a comic-book design contest for DC's TEEN TITANS in 1977. My design was used as the letter column header until the comic book was cancelled.
24. I flew to California by myself in 1978 to visit a friend who had recently moved there. I asked my parents if I could go if I saved for the ticket, and they naively said yes. I saved my allowance and my baby-sitting money and they allowed me to go.
25. I was on the junior high yearbook staff for about a week. I didn't understand the adviser's instructions or like her demeanor, so I walked away from the position after only two meetings. I am in the staff photo in the actual yearbook, though.
26. I studied Russian for four years in junior high school. At the time, I had dreams of going to the Moscow Olympics in 1980. I can still sing a Russian children's song.
27. The first live musical I ever saw was "Lil' Abner," a high school production that my sister was in.
28. My friend Susan Dreyer and I were the only two sophomores admitted to the high school newspaper staff that year. So we were the only two seniors to have been on the staff all three years. I ended up as Editor-In-Chief.
29. I have had several letters printed in various comic books.
30. The first professional play I ever saw was "Deathtrap." It's still one of my favorites.
31. I was on the Stage Crew for various productions in high school, including the Spring Musicals "Hello, Dolly!" and "Grease."
32. I made my acting debut in the high school Senior Play, "Mrs. McThing." I played Cookie, the Chef. It was more than 25 years before I acted again.
33. I was going to study to be a writer or journalist before I won a free trip to Japan the summer of 1983.
34. "Hiroshima" were the first Japanese kanji I learned. It's still one of my favorite words.
35. I started to drink coffee while I was in Hiroshima. Everywhere I went people thought all Americans drank it, so they always ordered it for me. I had no language skills to stop them, so I acquired a taste for it out of necessity.
36. I started to drink Bloody Marys in college because the ingredients were cheap to buy, the drink itself went down easy, and because vodka didn't have an odor.
37. I missed the opportunity to be in the movie "Purple Rain." An open casting call for extras was announced while I was living outside Minneapolis, but my friends and I didn't want to take the time to go to First Ave where they were filming.
38. I was a college exchange student in Sendai, Miyagi for one year. The recent tsunami disaster hit very close to home, literally.
39. All through college I was going to double-major in English and Japan Studies. However, as graduation loomed my JS professor didn't like my thesis and told me to re-vise it. By that time I already had my Miyazaki job lined up, so I settled for a single major instead of doing the extra work.
39. I got my job in Miyazaki because I promised my advisor who arranged it that I would stay at least two years. I ended up staying fourteen.
40. I got married when I was 25 years old.
41. I promised my future father-in-law that if he allowed me to marry his daughter I would change my last name to his and never leave Japan. (This is why our daughter has Yuko's legal last name.)
42. If Anna had been a boy her name would have been Kent, which is my middle name.
43. I was a correspondent for WIZARD's TOYFARE magazine for almost a year. I reported from Japan on the Pokemon phenomena.
44. Yuko got ovarian cancer while she was pregnant with our second child.
45. I left Japan because my bosses did not want to increase the scope of our town's international work. When my immediate boss at the Board of Education was promoted to Superintendent, I quit. His previous job had been in Agriculture.
46. My favorite beers are Asahi Super-Dry, Heineken, and Corona. Because I grew up in Anheuser-Busch country, I turn down all Bud products unless I have absolutely no choice.
47. I could survive on eating just pizza, curry rice, and burritos.
48. So far I've visited 30 States and 3 foreign countries. I definitely want to visit Korea, Russia, and the UK, as well as Alaska and Hawai'i.