Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 143: Mary Worth – The Aldo Kelrast Saga (2006)

Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill, Episode #143

Mary Worth: The Aldo Kelrast Saga
(July 2 – October 20, 2006)
by Karen Moy & Joe Giella
King Features Syndicate

Blogger is still giving me all sorts of grief when I try uploading pictures (or even when I’m just trying to open a new post… the very piece you’re hopefully reading right now, took over thirty-seconds to actually open.  Gotta wonder, am I the only person using this platform having these issues?  Rather than attempt at continuing down the path of the Byrne/Mackie Spider-Man Reboot, I decided to share a more personal story today… and also plug a particular episode of the Cosmic Treadmill that is very special to me.

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Early on in our partnership, Reggie and I decided we didn’t want to limit our output to purely saddle-stapled comic book fare… we wanted to cover all-things sequential art, including such topics as manga, fumetti… and yes, even newspaper strips!  It took us a heckuva long time to finally get around to it, but… we finally did with this peculiar little ditty from Mary Worth that I hope you all enjoy.

Thing of it is… when you think about newspaper “funnies”, it’s like they’re mostly one-and-done gags, and have very little semblance of continuity… at least the sort of continuity we were familiar with dissecting, analyzing, and discussing.  We had a tidy little list going of some of the soapier strips that we thought might have decent enough “meat on the bone” so to speak to warrant an entire episode’s worth of discussion.

There are strips like Funky Winkerbean, Rex Morgan, M.D., Mark Trail, even some with superheroes like Amazing Spider-Man and the classic DC ones from back in the long ago.  I remembered way back during the mid-2000’s, coming across a site called The Comics Curmudgeon… which, I’d have to assume many folks reading are familiar with.  Funnily enough, I discovered that site the same weekend I happened across the Life of Reilly blog that discussed the Spider-Man Clone Saga… so, bouncing between the two sites, I was pretty much attached to my computer for awhile there.

While at Josh’s site, he was in the midst of a very strange “saga” going on in the Mary Worth strip… involving, of all things… a Captain Kangaroo-lookin’ dude who had the creepy-obsessive-hots for the octogenarian titular character!  Upon recalling this, I immediately suggested this arc for an episode.

This was early May, 2019.

If you followed the channel, you might be aware of what happened in middle of that month.  This was when Reggie suffered his aortic dissection.  This episode of the Treadmill will always remind me of that day, because, the Google Doc where I was composing this script was still an active tab on my browser when I found out… and, I couldn’t bring myself to closing it.  I actually never did.  A Windows Update that hit a week or so later, rebooting my system took care of that for me.

I wasn’t sure I was going to share this story… at least not today, but… we’re already here, so why not?

On the morning of May 21, 2019… probably around 3:30am… I, as many men who are nearing or are in their forties do, took one of my several nightly trips to the bathroom.  Before getting back into bed, I did something I never do… I checked my phone.  I’m not sure what told me to do it… but I did.  In my email there was a message from Reggie’s wife, who explained the situation.

Me, being just a layman (and also an idiot), saw the word “aortic”, and just assumed he had a heart attack.  Not that heart attacks aren’t scary and deadly… but, you hear about people surviving them all the time, ya know?  I initially figured that this would be a little set-back, and by the end of that day, I’d probably be chatting him up on the phone.

Not knowing quite what to say, I didn’t immediately respond… and figured I would try and get a couple hours more sleep.

I couldn’t.

I laid there for a bit… but, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this might be a bit more serious than I initially thought it was.  I eventually rolled out of bed, and headed downstairs to go about the day’s business.  Had some school work to attend to (was researching the affects of “screen time” on children’s brain development)… no blogging, as I was in the middle of Action Comics Daily, and had written myself about a week ahead of schedule.

I kept popping back and forth between my research and Lizzy’s (Reggie’s wife) email.  I still wasn’t sure how to respond.  It might be clear to many people reading this, but I’m not all that emotionally adept.  I struggle with that sort of thing… I also second-(and third)-guess everything I say/type/do.  So, I wasn’t sure about anything.

I finally realized that I should maybe find out exactly what an aortic dissection is… and so, I did.  It is an incredibly scary (and rare) injury… and I immediately understood just how tremendously lucky we were that Reggie even made it to the hospital.  Aortic dissections, by the way, claimed the lives of John Ritter and comics artist Mike Wieringo.

Reggie’s wife included her phone number in the email, and so (not wanting to call while she was almost certainly preoccupied) I sent her a text.  She wrote back promptly, and explained some of the situation.  She was absolutely awesome throughout, and it meant (and still means) a lot to me that she kept me in the loop.

This is where my internet/real life disconnect… and overall “analogue” nature really shows.  I… I dunno how to properly explain how my mind works, but I’ll try the best I can.  Since I found this all out online… I kind of compartmentalized it as an “online thing”, which is to say… not real.  It makes no sense, I understand… but, it was how I initially “processed” (or, more accurately, failed to process) the situation.  Maybe it was a defensive measure… maybe I’m just dumb.  Whatever it was, even though I knew this was actually something that was happening… I still couldn’t accept that it was “real”.  Does that make sense?

It wasn’t until later that afternoon where it started to sink in.  Lizzy sent me a text while I was out driving.  I had nowhere to go, but didn’t want to be home, ya know?  It was a very hazy day… mentally.  Right now, I can remember it like it was yesterday… if you were to ask me on that night what I’d done that day, I’m not sure I could’ve told you.

I thought about maybe going to a comic store… which, is usually what I do when I want to clear my head.  I thought it would be a chance to look for more “research material” for the show, old magazines and what-not.  Ya see, I really wasn’t grasping the severity of this situation.  I was sitting in the parking lot of a local comic shop, and I was on the phone with my friend Dave who had just heard about Reggie’s situation.  We talked for a bit, and a few moments after we hung up, Lizzy’s text came through.

She said that they had their preliminary talks with the doctors… she shared some of the best/worst case scenarios… which finally drilled into my head the severity (and the realness) of this situation.  This wasn’t something that would just “pass”.  This was going to remain… and, dumbstruck, I just sat there in my car… and started bawling.  I couldn’t imagine what he and his family were going through during that time.

She asked me to share the information with listeners to the shows and those who know him… and, I did.  It was a very difficult thing to.  To that point, it was probably the hardest thing I’d done recording-wise.

Over the course of the next few months, I maintained regular contact with Lizzy regarding Reggie’s condition.  For much of it, he was unconscious… and running a scarily high fever.  I still remember the day I got the call that he was awake… and the fever had broken.  His wife asked if it would be okay if Reggie gave me a call that weekend… and I was over the Moon.

We talked… and, I was surprised at how optimistic he was, given the situation.  He was so excited to get back to “work”, ya know?  And… this silly Mary Worth show was one of the episodes he was psyched to do.

That same night, I reopened the long-dormant Mary Worth Google Doc… and got right into it.  Just a couple months later, we got the bugger recorded and released into the world.  It’s a very special episode… for several reasons, and now you all know what those reasons are.

If you do choose to listen (and I hope you do, because this one’s a riot!)… here is a link to the entire Mary Worth: Aldo Kelrast Saga – http://www.zubbie.com/stuff/mw/  If that link ever goes dead, please let me know… I have a super-secret “backup” for the entire thing.

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