Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh my God... take a look

I have to laugh and cry. My calendar – which I keep a copy of in my office at the paper to remind me how NOT to do something – is a collectible in someone's eyes.

I also keep a fossil mastodon bone on my desk to remind me that the alternative to evolution is death.

The Year in Fear project was an education. I had come up with the idea of producing a horror calendar and involved
my close friend Steve Bissette. Our other close fiend Mark Martin was the art director at Tundra and worked with Steve to produce a beautiful showcase for his art.

Well, the office politics at Tundra helped put a few nails in the project's coffin. Someone needs to write a book on how the publishing experiment set up by a multi-millionaire cartoonist managed to subvert all of its stated goals for of supporting creators and their work.

More than the office politics – I wasn't very popular there as I was an outsider who actually had done his job – The Year in Fear died because of ignorance. I thought the marketing person had done the research to understand how to sell calendars. God, was I a moron!

The chucklehead at Tundra in charge of this detail – naturally a relative of The Man – didn't have a frickin' clue. So the job of getting sales was left up to me.

After a poor showing in the comics trade, I though I should approach Spenser's Gifts, one of the largest sellers of calendars in the country at the beginning of the '90s. I drove to their headquarters in Atlantic City and saw a buyer who patiently explained to me that I was too late for that year's calendar sales cycle, that the calendar was too large and that it didn't have a hole so it could be hung on a display hook.


So I then worked out a deal with Fangoria magazine to sell the calendar through that magazine and we moved a few. By this time Steve and I had rescued a quantity of calendars that Tundra was ready to trash.

When the Fangoria deal came to an end, Steve and I cut the plates up so they could be sold as mini-posters when the tow of us had a table at Chiller Con.

Neither of us made much money on the calendar, especially considering there were people who were getting kill fees for their projects in the thousands.

So here's my lesson for today:
Don't trust a publisher to know how to sell your project and research your project's market thoroughly before making commitments to style and content.

By the way, I think I still have some calendars in my basement. I'll sell them cheaper than $50! And Bissette and I will sign them.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs
My friend Maureen Turner has written a very nice piece on my Springfield post card book in this week's edition of The Valley Advocate:

I really appreciate the coverage the book has received. Susan Kaplan of WFCR taped an interview, which has yet to run and basically every outlet that could have run a story has done that – not to count television which would never run such a story.

The Republican received a review copy from the company, but would only mention me in their paper if I dropped dead. And even then they might resist.

Although I'm on a friendly basis with a number of the reporters from the daily, the powers-that-be have never been very happy with me because I have been willing to criticize their publication. It was the unwritten rule of the press in the area that Valley media outlets don't acknowledge one another or criticize one another unless there is some sort of business arrangement between them.

Personally I think it's fine to give a wink and a nod to other media – which I've done – and not to hesitate to blast them if they deserve it.

In any event, thanks Mo for the story!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From the folks at Zogby...interesting results!

Pleasantville, N.Y. - October 29, 2008 - Just days before Americans choose our next president, voting has concluded in the Weekly Reader Student Presidential Election Poll.  And the nation's students resoundingly say that Barack Obama will be the country's next leader.  In the 14th Weekly Reader election survey, with more than 125,000 votes cast from kindergarten through 12th grade, the result was Obama 54.7% and John McCain 42.9% (with "other" candidates receiving 2.5% of the student vote). The Obama victory in the classroom electoral vote was even more resounding: The Democrat won 33 states and the District of Columbia, garnering 420 electoral votes, while McCain took 17 states and 118 electoral votes.

For the past 52 years, the results of the Weekly Reader poll have been consistently on target, with the student vote correctly predicting the next president in 12 out of 13 elections. (The only time the kids were wrong was 1992, when they chose George H.W. Bush over Bill Clinton.) This year, as in 2000 and 2004, the student election was conducted in conjunction with noted polling organization Zogby International.

Below are more thought-provoking, and perhaps prescient, results from the Weekly Reader Student Presidential Election Poll: 

While the election results may appear one-sided, they actually were extraordinarily close in many places. In three states, less than a tenth of a percentage point separated the winning ticket from the losing one. Iowa and Missouri were the states where Obama barely squeaked by, while in North Dakota, McCain won by the same slim margin. 

Most, but not all, swing states went to Obama. The Democrat took Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. McCain won Minnesota and New Hampshire, each by a surprisingly wide 8 points, as well as North Carolina in a 4.6% victory over Obama. 

McCain took Republican strongholds Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. Obama romped in the deep blue states of California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, and the District of Columbia. 

The Democratic candidate had a few startling triumphs-such as sweeping the vote in the Republican slate's two home states of Alaska and Arizona, registering a big win in Georgia, receiving 82% of the student vote in Nevada, gaining a 34-point win in Mississippi, and logging a 10% victory over McCain in George W. Bush's home state of Texas. 

Obama was the victor in every grade-except grade 10, which chose McCain. The results were the tightest in the 11th grade, where Obama slid by with a 1.5% victory, followed by second grade, where Obama won by a margin of 1.8%. The widest spread appeared in the ninth grade, where Obama's gigantic 85.6% beat McCain's 12.4% - a whopping 73.2% margin!  

"Historically, our poll has been an amazing indicator of the presidential race's outcome, so we're all waiting with great anticipation to see what happens on Election Day," said Neal Goff, President of Weekly Reader. "Throughout the past few months, we've delivered cutting-edge multimedia election materials directly to schools so that students could cast an informed vote. We're excited to have given kids this important forum to express their opinions about who should be the next president." 

Friday, October 24, 2008

They just had a press conference today for this event on Wednesday, which isn't much time to promote it. My wife and I attended the one in the summer and it was a great experience.

SPRINGFIELD – As promised after the success of the first Dine Around conducted this summer, the Springfield Business Improvement District (BID) will sponsor a second restaurant tour on Oct. 29.

The first Dine Around attracted around 400 diners who sampled the goods of nine downtown restaurants with 45-minute stops at each establishment. Organizers hope the same kind of turnout will take place this week. The cost is $35 person and tickets can be bought by either logging onto the BID’s Web site ( or by calling 787-1816. Registration will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the starting location.

The participating restaurants include the 350 Grill, Virtuosos, Currents, Café Lebanon, Montenia’s, McCaffrey’s Public House, the Student Prince, Sitar and Shakagos. At each stop, participants will be served a free glass of wine or beer and samples from the menu.

For example, at the Student Prince, the offerings will be fried camembert cheese, knockwurst, cheese spaetzle and chicken paprika. At the Sitar, there will be vegetable samosa, vegetable pakora, chicken pakora and shahi sabz biryani.

Malkit Singh, the owner of the Sitar, said at a press conference on Friday the last Dine Around was “ a really good time.” He noted it drew “new faces” to his restaurant and that participants not only got to try different cuisines, but also were able to meet new people.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said there had been similar events in the past that utilized a bus. The advantage of this event is that people walk from restaurant to restaurant and see what downtown is like.

“If you haven’t been to downtown Springfield, come on down,” Sarno said. “It’s clean and safe.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hey political junkies....this just in:

While some people run the Boston Marathon.

Ralph Nader will be running the Massachusetts Marathon.

And we’re hoping to put Ralph in the record books for most campaign stops in one day.

As a result, Ralph Nader and the Nader/Gonzalez road crew are in for the sprint of their lives.

Twenty-one campaign stops.

In twenty-one towns and cities across Massachusetts.

In one day – Saturday, October 25.

We’re hoping for a big Nader voter turnout in Massachusetts – where Ralph got his third largest vote total (6.4 percent) in 2000.

But pulling off the logistics on this one will be a minor Massachusetts miracle.

We’re sending a dozen Nader’s Raiders into Massachusetts.

We’re planning on having an advance team, a Ralph team, a van for the press, travelling musicians, and a clean up van bringing up the rear.

We need your donations to pay for rental cars, vans, gasoline, flyers, and multiple GPS units.

We’ll be holding combinations of press conferences, rallies and campaign events in: Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Lexington, Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton,Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, North Hampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge and Sheffield.

We’re heading into the Massachusetts Marathon with our heads held high.

To bring the word from one end of the Commonwealth to the other – Ralph Nader stands with the American people.

And against Wall Street crime and Washington corruption.

* Stop One 8:10-8:30: Vila Donuts 93 Main Rd, Westfield, ma
* Stop Two: 9:00-9:15 AM: Public Library 449 Front Street, Chicopee.
* Stop Three: 10:45-11:05: Federal Reserve- 600 Atlantic Ave, Boston.
* Stop Four 11:15-11:45: The Middle East 472 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge. Lunch Fundraiser: $50 Minimum Contribution
* Stop Five: 11:55-12:20: Tufts University, Student Center, Bottom Floor, Somerville.
* Stop Six: 12:25-12:45: Danish Pastry Shop 330 Boston Ave, Medford.
* Stop Seven 1:00-1:20: Energy Awareness Fair Meet and Greet. 251 Waltham St., Lexington.
* Stop Eight: 1:35-2:00: Old North Bridge 174 Liberty St. Concord.
* Stop Nine: 2:25-2:45: Waltham Location TBA.
* Stop Ten: 3:00-3:20: Water Town Public Library 123 Main Street Watertown.
* Stop Eleven: 3:35-4:00: Lasell College Newton 1844 Commonwealth Avenue room TBA, Newton.
* Stop Twelve 4:20-4:40: Ben’s Deli: 5 Turnpike Rd Southborough.
* Stop Thirteen 5:10 to 5:30: Clark University 950 Main St., Worcester.
* Stop Fourteen 5:40-6:00: The Coffee Mug 286 SouthBridge St. Auburn.
* Stop Fifteen 6:55-7:15 West Springfield Location TBA.
* Stop Sixteen 7:30-8:00: Nadines Cafe Lebanon 1390 Main St Springfield.
* Stop Seventeen 8:05-8:25: Holyoke, MA Location TBA.
* Stop Eighteen 8:45-9:15 Smith College, Northampton Location TBA.
* Stop Nineteen 10:10-10:30: The Lions Den 30 Main St. Stockbridge.
* Stop Twenty: 10:50-11:10 Sheffield, MA, Location TBA

I'll be at the Chicopee stop hopefully asking him some questions.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My pop culture weekend part three

I've been on the sets of three films – two features and a short – and each time I've watched the process of making films with great interest.

Most film guys my age dabbled in Super 8 production while a beardless youth. I helped make one group film and produced several shorts. The group film was the effort of a bunch of friends and our film teacher. While it was fun, I never felt comfortable acting or trying to make a film with actors.

Actors required a casting process and costumes and trying to schedule everyone the right way – sigh. It was a lot of work.

Instead I took up stop motion film using clay figures and I loved it. Granted you had to be careful with those lights – clay melts! – but I was very happy with the relative solitude of the animation process and the control.

My most ambitious animated film was a comment on the arms race with hands representing opposing sides using progressively bigger hamburgers to intimidate each other. At the climax, the hamburgers eat each other.

Anyway, the process of making movies has always intrigued me and I was happy when local producer and director Bob Stock invited me through my pal Marty Langford to hang out while he grabbed the few shots left to finish the live action part of his horror film Angel's Blade 2.

So I headed to Granby and watched Stock's very efficient crew shot star Corbin Bernsen in a number of short but necessary scenes.

Bernsen is a pro and through his suggestions showed he was still involved in the movie which he had worked on the previous year.

Bernsen waits for his cue.

I admired that Bernsen quickly got into character and didn't phone in a performance.

Stock and Bernsen

The crew sets up a shot using a rental truck.

Bernsen graciously took time for a photo with me. Thanks!

Stock now has to add all of his special effects and CGI work.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pop Culture weekend part 2

I was trying to recall just what spurred my interest in horror films and I cant recall what the trigger was. I know I was in junior high school and I was increasingly more interested in movies in general.

My mom was certainly a movie fan, but she didn't care for horror flicks and kept me aware from them with such success that when I did stumble upon something scary I was terrified.

In fact my petrified reaction to seeing the giant brain in "Journey to the Seventh Planet" when I was in the third grade – seen today I'm doubly ashamed at my reaction to such a piece of cheese – led my losing my "going to to movie by myself privileges for years.

Anyhow however it happened, it happened in a big way and I was hooked on seeing guys such as Karloff, Lugosi, Jr. Cushing, Price and Lee.

Going to horror film shows has been a regular part of my fan experience for years, although I've stayed away from the biggest of them all in recent years, Chiller Theater, only because it is so big and so crowded.

I have many fond memories of attending Chiller as a dealer. Among them are Dave Prowse – Darth Vader himself– coming over to our table to shoot the breeze. He was a very nice guy. Another is watching my pal Steve Bissette squirm when Hammer actress Ingrid Pitt came onto him. Still another was a great dinner with Brazilian horror icon Coffin Joe who sports fingernails that are five and six inches long. I couldn't watch him eat as I didn't want to stare at how he was manipulating his knife and fork.

Well, the Other Mark and I attended a junior version of Chiller – Rock and Shock on Oct. 11 and I filed this report for my newspapers:

It’s that time of year again when people’s thoughts turn just a little dark – Halloween. And by the looks of things at this year’s Rock and Shock convention in Worcester – a three day event celebrating horror movies, heavy metal rock and roll and other pop culture phenomena that recently took place – despite an economic downturn people are still willing to spend money on a
rocks glass full of eyeballs that’s actually a candle.

Well I did. I had to bring my wife home a present.

Rock and Shock is a smaller version of the largest horror and pop culture show on the East Coast, Chiller Theatre in New Jersey. That extravaganza ( will be presented Oct. 24 through 26 at the Hilton Parsippany in Parsippany, NJ. While I enjoy the Big E atmosphere of Chiller – the event is huge – Rock and Shock manages to satisfy my horror convention jones without a three-plus hour drive.

And luckily many of the companies showing off their wares at Rock and Shock have them available on the Internet, so even if you missed the show, you can still find those odd times you think you need for the holiday

Many of the exhibitors are native to New England, which adds a regional
feel to the proceedings.

GASP magazine is one of those Massachusetts-grown creations as the publication is based in Gardner. The magazine, which is available online at caters to “independent horror” in literature,
film, and art.

One of its staffers, Aaron LaBonte explained the magazine supports “the little guy.” Editor Candace LaBonte added the quarterly magazine is “an outlet for people who don’t know how to publish their work.”

The magazine can be purchased as a download, conventional print form or on a CD-Rom through its Web site. It doesn’t have any newsstand distribution at this time.

And it is for adults as I quickly assessed with a quick thumb-through.

Currently the magazine is preparing its fifth issue.

The horror products of Horror Décor (, whose booth was next door to GASP, weren’t quite as visceral as the magazine, and should appeal to the horror fan looking for something a tad subtler.

Owner Matthew Molloy has been in business for two years manufacturing the previously mentioned eyeball candle – a big seller he reported at only $5. This year he featured a blood splattered shower curtain ($24.50) and a bathmat ($7.50) with two bloody footprints as well as a series of throw pillows ($12), one of which honored “Shaun of the Dead.”

Need a clock of the living room? Molloy was selling a bloody saw blade clock in two different sizes ($35 and $30).

“No script, no agenda, all bull****” is the slogan for Outside the Cinema (, a free podcast dedicated to horror films. Boston-based co-host Ryan St. Pierre said not only does he and his on-air partner Bill Fulkerson enjoy performing the Internet broadcasts, but also they are actually making a little money through advertising.

Definitely rated R for language, the podcast I listened to was like being in a room with two slightly hyper-active fanboys who are both knowledgeable and funny – in a hyper-active fanboy way.

“The Ghouligans,” a fun cable access show from Long Island, represented independent television productions. Producer Michael Koscik said the show has been in production since 2005 and lampoons classic movie monsters.

He quickly added, though “we treat them with respect.”

The DVD on sale for $15 is also available at the show’s Web site,, with other merchandise.

I liked the show. It’s a well-produced hybrid between “The Monkees,” and the old “Beach Party” movies with classic sit-coms. Colorful and geared toward at least most of the family, “The Ghouligans” is goofy monster fun.

The other aspect of Rock and Shock – and the up-coming Chiller Theatre – are actors with pop culture credentials looking to meet fans and more importantly sell their autographs at $20 or $25 a shot. A new wrinkle this
year was many of the celebs charged an additional $10 if you wanted to take a photo with them with your camera.

Yikes. I had wanted to take some shots but didn’t want to take an illegal photo and be wrestled to the ground by Rock and Shock security.

The folks drawing the longest lines at Rock and Shock were former wrestler and star of “they Live,” Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jason Mewes, “Jay” of “Jay and Silent Bob” from the Kevin Smith movies. For some reason various victims and monsters from the “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th” and “Hellraiser” series just didn’t attract fans more.

Well, I thought as I picked up my two collections of previews for grindhouse movies that played on 42nd Street theaters, there’s no accounting for taste.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, October 13, 2008

Benny Juxx had Mr. TA in a bad way at the Castle of Knights on Oct. 17. Mr. TA is Terry Allen, a professional wrestler who runs the Big Time Wrestling promotion and who is a talented illustrator and graphic designer in his other life.

Pop Culture Weekend part one

I realize that many people who know me are completely dumbfounded about some of the things that interest me, one of those being professional wrestling. I've watched it since I was a kid and I've always appreciated the athletic ability of the wrestlers as well as the theatrics and the undiluted ballyhoo of it.

We understand that outcomes can be predetermined and that some of the moves are more sound effect than physical fury. But the medival morality play nature of much of wrestling coupled with the cynical real world out that evil can triumph and that cheaters win are powerful narrative ingredients.

I see little difference between the power of the soap opera to suck people into a fictional world and the best professional wrestling. I'm sure my mom and other soapie fans would disagree, but both theatrical forms share common archetypes and story structures.

I must admit there is a certain "outlaw" nature to liking pro wrestling. It's like admitting enjoying the flavor of pork rinds or cheese in a squirt can. You know on one level you shouldn't like it, but you do!

My nephew Douglas is developing into quite a fan in that he totally gets into the spirit of the live match. He roots for one villian – Mr. TA – and is willing to shout insults to the wrestlers. His best lines included "Did you learn that in dance school?" Hey, the kid is nine. His skills are just developing!

Mick Foley, the former WWE superstar, was the main draw to the event and thanks to my friend Tom Burke, I got to meet Mick when he wasn't either busy signing autographs or in the ring. He seemed, as he did in the interview I did for my newspaper (which follows), a very decent, down to earth guy:

Mick Foley is apologetic that his son, who is loudly enjoying, might interrupt this telephone interview.

Some might think it's ironic that one of the toughest men in professional wrestling is a dedicated father of three, but Foley is pretty much retired from competing and is happy spending more time at home than on the road.

"My family is one of my main focuses," he said.

The man who wrestled under the names of Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind and won numerous championship belts will be a guest referee at the Big Time Wrestling show on Oct. 10 at the Castle of Knights. Foley will also be available for autographs and photos prior to the matches.

Foley said he is currently doing only one or two wrestling shows a year and his most recent was an appearance at Madison Square Garden.

"It's [a casual schedule of appearances] a goal to work toward," he said.

"I've never done the math involved, but I think I've done more of them [matches] in buildings like the Knights of Columbus than in Madison Square Garden," Foley said.

He doesn't really miss wrestling full time. "I feel absolutely good about what I've accomplished," he said.

A wrestling fan as a teen he wrestled on his high school team with classmate comic Kevin James he entered the field in 1986.

He backed away from competition in 2000 and has appeared as a commentator and personality in the ring more than as a wrestler. He and his long-time employers, World Wrestling Entertainment, parted ways last month and Foley said he was looking forward to his new association with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling on the Spike television channel.

He said he is "sleeping easier at night" staying out of the ring.

Besides outrageous characters, Foley was known for his do-anything attitude in the ring, which made for memorable moments for fans and a lot of injuries for him. He said that he has sore joints and pain in his back and neck, but that he actually feels better today than he did 10 years ago.

"I was never under the illusion this [career] wouldn't come with a price tag," he explained.

In a form of entertainment that demands both athletic ability as well as portraying a character, Foley's personas were known for their outrageousness. Cactus Jack was capable of dishing out considerable violence; Dude Love was a throwback hippie; and Mankind wore a Hannibal Lector style mask and had an ally a sock puppet known as "Mr. Socko."

Foley said that Mankind, perhaps his most popular incarnation, came about in 1999 when most of the other wrestlers were portraying characters that were either "cool good guys or cool bad guys." Foley wanted to do someone different and Mankind who lived in a boiler room and talked to a rat was different. Eventually mankind became more comical.

"I was lucky," Foley said about the creation of his characters. "Other guys were restrained. I was given free reign for a number of years and allowed to make alterations."

Foley said he never considered himself a "leading man" wrestler, but rather a "character actor."

Foley has written three memoirs, three children's books and two novels. Some of his books have been on the New York Times Bestseller List. He said he started his writing career in 1999 when he read what the ghostwriter assigned to his first book, "Have a Nice Day; A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks," had written and he thought he could do better.

He said he enjoys writing and that readers like his conversational style.

One might wonder why a man who has built up a huge fan base and has skill portraying characters wouldn't take those assets to the movie screen such as his one-time tag team partner Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Foley explained while he likes acting, he didn't want to come off the road to take more time away from his family.

Today he said he is able to make his own work schedule, spend time with his family and do volunteer work.

Here is Mick with Tom backstage at Big Time Wrestling.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The folks at Western New England College sent me this today and I thought it was interesting:

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly oppose eliminating the state income tax, according to the latest survey from the Western New England College Polling Institute.

The telephone poll of 408 registered voters, conducted September 29 through October 6, found that 62 percent of voters oppose Question 1, a ballot initiative that calls for doing away with the state’s income tax. Twenty-six percent favor the idea, while 12 percent said they are undecided or declined to offer an opinion.

The survey also found:

Voters favor decriminalizing possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, with 62 percent voicing support, 32 percent opposed, and five percent saying they are undecided or declining to offer an opinion.

Voters support banning dog racing in Massachusetts 53 percent to 30 percent, but a sizable number – 17 percent – said they are undecided or declined to offer an opinion.
Voters will decide the questions on November 4. Previous attempts to eliminate the income tax and ban dog racing have failed. The income tax proposal received support from 45 percent of voters in 2002, while the dog racing ban lost narrowly in 2000.

The nature of ballot questions can make the outcome of initiatives hard to predict, said Tim Vercellotti, associate professor of political science and co-director of the Western New England College Polling Institute. “Some voters who express a preference on ballot questions in pre-election surveys don’t always make it that far down the ballot when casting their vote,” Vercellotti said. He noted that 11 percent of voters who cast a ballot in the 2002 gubernatorial race did not vote on the state income tax question in that election.

Question wording also can influence voters’ responses on issues. The Western New England College Polling Institute asked:

“Voters in November also will decide whether Massachusetts should eliminate the state income tax. Supporters of this idea say it will save the average taxpayer $3,600 per year. Opponents of this idea say eliminating the income tax would force state and local government to make deep cuts in services.

Do you support or oppose eliminating the state income tax?”

“After hearing both sides of the issue in the question, voters were less likely to support the idea,” Vercellotti noted. “While eliminating the income tax may have initial appeal when it comes to voters’ pocketbooks, hearing about the potential consequences in terms of services seems to reduce that appeal.”

Opinions about the proposal varied by party identification and education. Democrats opposed the idea 74 percent to 14 percent, while Republicans favored it 42 percent to 36 percent. Independent voters also were opposed by a margin of 70 percent to 22 percent. Voters who have a high school education or less were evenly divided, with 41 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. Survey respondents who had at least some college opposed the idea 59 percent to 25 percent, while college graduates were opposed 70 percent to 19 percent.

Support for decriminalizing possession of an ounce or less of marijuana also varied across key demographic factors – in this case party identification and age. Democrats and independent voters supported the idea 62 percent to 32 percent. The margin was narrower among Republican voters, who backed the idea 54 percent to 44 percent. The proposal, which will be Question 2 on the November ballot, also drew sizable support from voters under age 65. Voters age 65 and older were evenly split, with 45 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed.

The proposed ban on dog racing in Massachusetts – listed as Question 3 on the ballot – divided voters by party and gender. Democrats supported the ban 62 percent to 27 percent, while 49 percent of Republican and independent voters were in favor and about one-third of each group was opposed. Women were more likely than men to support the ban. Fifty-nine percent of women were in favor, with 22 percent opposed. Male voters were almost evenly split, with 44 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.

The survey also found a relatively large level of uncertainty about the idea, with 17 percent of voters saying they were undecided or declining to offer an opinion. “A large chunk of the electorate has not yet formed views on this issue,” Vercellotti said. “That suggests there could be some volatility in opinion in this area, with the potential for some swings before Election Day.”

The Western New England College Polling Institute surveyed 449 adults drawn from across Massachusetts using random-digit-dialing between September 29 and October 6. The sample yielded 408 adults who said they were registered to vote in Massachusetts. Unless otherwise noted, figures are based on the statewide sample of registered voters. The data were weighted to reflect the adult population of Massachusetts by gender, race and age. Complete results of the poll are available online at

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I'm feeling very guilty now.

Our home is about halfway done in the siding job that will help seal and protect its century-plus timbers and plaster. We've replaced plumbing and upgraded electrical service. We've replaced the aging slate shingles with a modern roof. We've repointed our chimneys.

But these changes didn't change the fundamental look of the home. It always looked like a Greek revival farmhouse from 1864.

Now it doesn't. The only detail left is the doorway.

The simple truth is we couldn't afford the upgrading and painting of wooden clapboards. The siding, once it is done, will mean that my wife and I won't have to worry about this aspect of home ownership for the rest of the lives.

With any luck.

I've saved some of the wooden pieces that were removed and will install them as shelves in one room of the house.

Perhaps I shouldn't fret so much, since the house has undergone its initial construction and then two additions. I just feel I'm subtracting something, though.

I had a very satisfying turn-out for the book signing at the Holyoke Barnes & Noble on Saturday. It's reassuring to see people buy multiple copies of your book and one gentleman came back to get another copy as a gift since he liked it so much.

My old friend and best man at our wedding, Joe, surprised me big time as he was in town for a wedding. An Springfield native, he now lives in Arizona. It's apparently true you can take the boy out of Springfield, but you can't take Springfield out of the boy. Joe, by the way, always had the best taste in shirts.

Please goover to my Fleischer site as I've decided to start adding some images from my collection to it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Springfield's Third train station – a real beauty – was used for less than 30 years before it was replaced by the current station.

The newest plan for Union Station was released yesterday and it is the most sensible one that has been suggested so far.

There is no shopping mall, IMAX theater or hotel complex. Instead the plan is to consolidate train, bus and taxi service in one location with a parking garage, office space and some "traveler-support retail." All of the grand vision items have been replaced with ones that are within the the realm of possibility.

The $65 million project, if all of its ducks line up, could be completed b y 2011.

The baggage building would be demolished for the parking garage and bus bay. Buses would enter Frank B. Murray Street by Main, go into the enclosed bus bay area, and then exit via Dwight Street. The parking garage would be above the bus bays.

The tunnel linking the station to Lyman Street would be re-opened.

PVTA officials are still waiting for a final "we're in" from Peter Pan Buslines.

This would be a great step forward for the region and downtown Springield, especially if the state invests in the commuter line proposed between Springfield and New Haven. Although in this very uncertain economic times, one can't be assured that the Legislature would see fit to invest that kind of money in Western Massachusetts transportation infrastructure.

I was allowed inside the station – although I was quickly escorted out by one worker – and a number of the vintage benches are still there in the waiting room, covered in plastic. The clock in the main lobby is still there, although, needing repair.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs