Miscellaneous Memories

Since nobody visits this blog, I decided to make it a place where I can just vent all my scattered thoughts and frustrations. I mean, who really cares about me? Nobody. It is a fact that I see on the faces of everyone I know, on the faces I love. People think I’m stupid. I’m smarter than they realize. I know they really just don’t care.

To those who wish I’d just go away, It’s very possible they’ll get their wish. My body is failing. My mind is failing, too. My mind is really all I have … and it’s leaving me. My time on Earth is getting shorter. There so much I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to LIVE! It’s okay. Maybe in the next life.

Until then I’ll just come here from time-to-time to rant like the insane person I’m becoming. Just watch as I transform into a monster.

My own anger and frustrations have sent me into exile. I am alone. I will always be alone. Spoiler Alert: we are all alone.  We pretend we’re not. It is a pleasing lie we tell ourselves. The truth is, no one gives a damn about anyone else in this world. We are alone. To escape the crushing pain of loneliness that eats away at me, I either sleep or I watch TV or I read comic books.

People ask me, “You are an adult. What is it with you and comic books?” People with small minds who don’t understand will never understand. Fuck, to be honest, I don’t really understand my fascination with comics, comic collecting, comic book movies – any of it! But after a LOT of thinking on it, I uncovered a memory that’s been buried in the back of my addled mind under a pile of unfulfilled dreams and broken promises. It may hold the answer. It involves me, my dad and comic books…

My dad and I were never all that close. My mom and I were best friends. I mourn her passing every day. But my dad and I just never got on the same page, no pun intended. I know my dad loved me. When I got older, there was just too much between us. We couldn’t be close. But there were times when we connected. This memory is pretty old. It’s a bit fuzzy. More than a bit. However, it may contain a kernel of meaning and a little understanding.

The memory is from when I was very young. I can’t be sure if it took place after I got sick (diagnosed with RA) or before. I was diagnosed at age 5, so I’m fairly sure it was after, but not long after.

It was morning. I remember being in bed. Sick. In Pain. Not understanding why. I remember my dad coming into my room. “Hey, dad,” he said. (My dad called me “dad.” Don’t ask me why.) He said he had something for me. He then explained to me that a friend of his from work gave him some comic books to give to me. I remember not being sure what to make of it. Then I saw my dad kneel down beside my bed so he could read them to me. My dad read comic books to me when I was sick! I can’t be sure, but I think they were “Thor” comics. I remember him reading to me, page after page. He couldn’t read for too long. He had to go to work. For that little while I was whisked away to another place. I loved it! The action! The characters! I remember asking him to tell me all about the different heroes I saw on those tattered pages. My dad didn’t have the answers, but he tried very hard to satisfy my curiosities. My dad kneeling by my bed to read “Thor” comics to me. It is a beautiful memory that I find myself revisiting often.

As I got older, my love of comic books grew. Somewhere along the way, someone handed me an “Incredible Hulk” comic book and I was completely hooked. I loved the drawings. I loved the colors. Most of all, I loved the story. I loved the Hulk, but I bonded with Bruce Banner, the man who became the Hulk. Banner and I were like kindred spirits. You see, Banner saw his alter-ego as a disease. Forever Banner searched for a way to cure himself of the painful burden…a predicament I keenly connected with. After all, I too had a monster inside me. Banner’s handicap was the Hulk. Mine was Arthritis.  I loved seeing the green monster use his muscles to put an end to his foes. Hey, I wanted to be that unimaginably powerful, too! But I felt for Banner. His struggle was my struggle.

When I got a little older, my dad did not try to suppress my love of comics. I remember him driving me to a comic book store in Pitman, I think. A very heavy, scruffy-looking man with tattoos ran the place. I remember being intimidated by him. His tough exterior hid a heart of gold. On one particular visit, I remember him just giving me a big box filled with old comics! He just GAVE them to me! I was overwhelmed by his generosity. I think my dad was, too. Most of the comics were “ROM The Space Knight” books. I read them all! (I wish I still had them!) My dad took me back to that store many times when I was a kid. I remember each visit feeling like a trip to Disney World!

I either sold or gave away all the comics from that time – except for one. It is a very old Hulk from the ’60s. I still have it because I remember when I bought it at that very store. It’s not worth much, but it means everything to me. It links me back to a happier time so so so long ago.

I’m sure my dad expected I’d grow out of my love for comic books. And, in time, other priorities in life did take precedence over comics and collecting. But, even as I became an adult, I still found my way back to comics. Even now, at age 49, getting a new comic book, reading it and putting it into its own little plastic bag still brings me immense joy.

But why? Well, maybe it has something to do with a memory of my dad keeling by my bed reading comic books to me.

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Paul McCartney in concert, seeing a legend perform…

At some point I should use this blog to discuss writing, specifically science fiction writing, since that is what the blog is supposed to be about. For now, I am taking another detour…

Seeing Paul McCartney in Concert

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On June 21st I went to see Paul McCartney in concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. I am a huge Beatles fan. So, going to see half of the greatest song writing team in popular music history and one of the last two surviving members of the greatest rock band of all time was for me a no-brainer.

However, as the day of the concert approached, I grew ever more anxious. I wanted nothing to keep me from getting to the show. Yet, every possible negative thing that might prevent me from going was all I could think about. On the day of the big event I had a rather intense panic attack so severe that I almost didn’t go. That’s a contradiction, I know. There is no logic to anxiety. Nothing would keep me from going, except, I suppose, myself. By the time my brother and nephew arrived to pick me up (we were all going together) I had somehow regrouped. A plethora of negative mental forces were conspiring to ruin my chance to see one of my favorite musicians.  I was determined to not let them win.

…A side note about panic attacks. If you are someone who has never experienced one, God bless you. You really have no idea how lucky you are. Do you mind doing me a favor? Try to conjure up in your mind your scariest moment, that moment when you truly felt like you were in mortal danger. How did you feel? Were you trembling? Heart racing? Sweating? Imagine feeling that whenever you decided to just leave your house. If you are someone who has panic attacks, you understand what it takes to overcome one. It can feel like a psychical battle.  But one of the worst aspects of panic attacks is the stigma attached. I have encountered people who view anyone who has panic attacks as weak. The expression on someone’s face alone is enough to sense their attitude on the subject. Thankfully I have found a few people who share a similar affliction and can sympathize. You would be surprised how far an encouraging word can go. That dismissive look from someone who does not understand what panic attacks are…that look alone only makes it worse…

So I hope that short walk down terror lane gives you some small hint as to how difficult it was for me to go to see Paul McCartney .

In case you don’t know, Paul McCartney from around 1960 to 1970 was one quarter of the influential rock band The Beatles. Along with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, he wrote or co-wrote the songs that have become part of our collective DNA. From melancholy ballads  like “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby,” to pop songs like “Love Me Do” and “I Want to Hold your Hand” to rocking songs like “Helter-Skelter: and “Get Back” to so much more. After the Beatles, Paul joined the band Wings where he continued to write and perform amazing songs like “Band on the Run” and “Live and Let Die.”

Now I could recount the concert for you in boring rudimentary detail, but I won’t. I fact I wont even talk about the show itself. Instead I would rather try to explain how it felt for me to be there.

Imagine you are living in Vienna in the 1800s and you are lucky enough to hear the music of a contemporary composer named Beethoven. The man himself is larger than life! Imagine how you would feel to be in the presence of the master as he performs his greatest works for you, the music that moved you from when you were very young and still moves you. For me, seeing Paul McCartney was a bit like that. You may say I’m stretching the metaphor. You may think McCartney is no Beethoven.   I respectfully disagree. McCartney is as influential as any Classical Composer. He is a genius song writer whose music and lyrics have moved millions upon millions of music fans. Songs like “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” are songs that changed my life. Seeing McCartney play his songs live was emotionally overwhelming. The best word to describe how I felt is Elated.

ELATED adjective
1. very happy or proud; jubilant; in high spirits:

Yep, that is pretty much how I felt.

Throughout the 3-hour show all I kept saying to myself was “I can’t believe this” and “This is unbelievable.” Days after the concert my brother Tony, nephew Sam and I were still blown away by the show. The pyrotechnics and laser effects were incredible. The stage effects were so cool, too! But hearing those songs, and seeing them performed by the man himself – the moment moved me to tears. Yes, I was elated!

Young or old, a fan or not, if you get a chance to see Paul McCartney in concert, you should go. Sir Paul is 73 and probably won’t be performing for that much longer. I will say, he didn’t look, sound or play like any 73-year old I know. There must be some sort of magic elixir in being a Rock legend. Let’s hope there is. I plan to see Paul McCartney play in concert every year until I’m 73!

Thanks for reading.

Geek It Up a Little…

Hello again!

First of all, I want to say hello and thank you to my new followers! I will try to keep my blogs as interesting and entertaining as possible, but…no promises.

Anyway…

I feel like my first blog post was a bit of a downer. So, for this one I will try and keep things light.

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MoviePilot.com

I would like to share my experiences with a site called MoviePilot.com. Perhaps you are aware of it already. If you are a fan of Science Fiction movies and TV or you are just a pop culture fanatic AND you are opinionated, then this site is definitely for you.

MoviePilot.com basically works like a blog site. Contributors write and post articles using the site’s editor. Do you have a problem with Wonder Woman’s new costume? Are you bugged by that one scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and you just gotta tell someone? Maybe you discovered the next great Anime and are dying to share it. Well then click on over to MoviePilot.com and become a contributor. Write an opinion post, a movie review or just post a cool video. Okay maybe its a little kitschy, I guess. Kitschy is popular these days. Plus, its a lot of fun. Post an article. Follow other contributors. Get people reading your articles and start a geek discussion.

Quick story, I found the site somehow via Facebook. I didn’t really have an interest in posting anything, but I would leave comments on other people’s posts. My comments were usually directed toward articles about the Incredible Hulk. (More on my deep rooted love for the green guy in a future blog.) After leaving a few comments, one of the site managers emailed me and asked if I would like to contribute. At first I didn’t even reply. I thought I was too old for the MoviePilot crowd. But, upon consideration, I decided it was okay to unleash my geek opinions onto the world. The Internet will never be the same.

Its not like I am a prolific poster. I contribute when the mood strikes me. My first post concerned the use of religious symbolism in science fiction films. That post drew modest interest. A follow up post was it bit more esoteric. It concerned the Incredible Hulk’s origin story in film versus his origin story in the comics. See what I mean? Put on your boots, ‘cos its gonna get pretty deep. But that kinda stuff interests me, and that post drew a ton of comments! Too deep for you? Don’t feel intimidated. The level of geek-e-ness varies from contributor to contributor.

My most recent MoviePilot.com post is called, “I AM Serious, (and Don’t Call Me Shirley): 3 Movies that Started New Genres.” Follow the link if you care to read it.

Many MoviePilot contributors who are well plugged into social media often post breaking news type stuff. My posts are generally opinion pieces. I am very opinionated. It’s a burden.

I’m sure there are many other sites out there like MoviePilot. GeekandSundry.com may work the same way. All the content on MoviePilot is contributor-driven. There are no staff writers, at least as far as I know. Contributors are not paid, but there is no fee to submit content, either. What’s nice, too, is I’m writing. Any kind of writing, even brief geek articles, is beneficial. I appreciate reader comments. Its gratifying to know someone had read what I wrote and felt strongly enough about it to comment.

So, if you are at all like me, I suggest at least giving MoviePilot.com a look. It’s a fun site run by great people. The whole vibe of the site is positive. If you just want to be snarky toward other people, you may not be welcomed. The idea is to develop a kinder gentler geek community. I invite you to check it out for yourself.

Thanks for reading!

My First Blog…

To whom it may concern…Hi! How’s it going? Welcome to my humble blog.

Since this is my first ever post of my first ever blog, I suppose I should take the time to tell you a little about myself. I am not one of those people who particularly enjoys talking about himself. Nor am I one who thinks that everything I do is amazing. If anything, I am more critical of myself than anyone else has ever been or will ever be. I am constantly worried I am not measuring up to some imaginary unobtainable standard. Worry and fear breed inactivity. Depression soon follows. The downward spiral begins…

That is a discussion for future posts…possibly. Let’s see how this one goes…

My good friend and editor (I love telling people I have an editor) informed me that, if I am going to be taken seriously as a writer, I need a blog. She seems to know what she is talking about, so here I am.

In the beginning I wrote purely for the pleasure of it. It was something I did in my spare time. Then someone invented the Internet and I soon found myself chatting away with other Science Fiction enthusiast. For our own amusement a few of us decided to try writing a story or two. I would upload Star Trek my fan-fiction stories to be scrutinized by my fellow Trekkies at TrekFanFiction.com. Once I thought like I kind of knew what I was doing, I started my own Trek fan fiction series called Star Trek: Paradigm Shift. If you Google it, you might even find some of those old stories still floating around. With Paradigm Shift I tried to turn Star Trek on its ear. Instead of a ship of over-achieving bright-eyed over-eager pip-polished officers, my characters were, well, less all that. The stories, a mix of comedy and drama, followed the bumbling crew of the USS Condor and her clueless Captain Phillip Reming. Although those stores may be a little rough around the edges, they were my first attempts at writing original fiction. Creating something from nothing and giving life to unique characters – it helped me prove to myself that maybe…just maybe I CAN do this writing thing.

After that, I attempted writing original fiction. In those days the ideas seemed to flow out from my fingers and into the computer like water. There was almost no effort. Writing was pure joy. Tapping into a well of courage I didn’t know I had, I launched my own website dedicated to original science fiction. DistantWorlds.net featured my short stories as well as the works from many other armature fiction writers. At the site’s modest heights in popularity it hosted fiction from dozens of writers. It was the best way at the time to get free critiques of my writing while also giving others to same opportunity for feedback. In time the site grew less popular. Life happened. I gave it up.

I ran into my fair share of downs and far too few ups. Writing became less of a joy. The more challenging my life became, the less I felt like writing.  However, taunting me from my computer’s hard drive was a short story begging to be something more. It was a kind of twisted take on Adam and Eve titled Of Human Design. The few people that had read it suggested I turn it into a novel. A novel?! The idea seemed insane. Life was handing me lemons. Besides, I did not believe I had a novel in me. Still, over time, when the mood struck, I would pull out this poorly-written overly-dark story and add a bit more. The meandering tale may have stayed hidden on my computer forever if it weren’t for the amazing encouragement I received from the Professor and fellow students of a creative writing class. It was their encouragement that boosted my confidence enough to finish it. I wish I could properly describe what I felt when I typed the words The End. The characters and their story were finally out of my head. I was free. They were free. I felt like flying.

The next logical step is to get it published…right?

With my masterpiece complete, I assumed publishing it would be a breeze! Funny, right? Honestly, if I had known that writing it was the easy part and getting it published was the hard part, I may not have even bothered to write it at all. No one tells you, especially if you are a new writer, that actually getting published is nearly impossible. Once again I metaphorically dug myself yet another pit of despair and jumped right in…

That’s about the time Alexis Rivell, a genius and a fellow student from my creative writing class, offered to help me get my novel off the ground. Let me just say a few words about Ms. Rivell. Have you ever met someone and felt a kind of aura around them that exudes a sense of confidence and wisdom beyond his or her years? That was what I sensed from Alexis the first day I met her. A voice in my head said, “This person is special. Make friends with her. Don’t screw it up.” When she freely offered to take on the herculean task of working with me to get my 500+ page opus published, I was a little skeptical. You see, others had made similar offers but never followed through. I felt it was unwise to get my hopes too high again. I do believe Alexis is sincere. After seeing the effort she has already put in, it is clear she has the insight, brilliance and patience to possibly pull this off!!

The only thing holding me back is me.

By now (if you don’t know me) you may be wondering what challenges am I referring to. Of what “lemons” do I speak? Well, that would require you to know more about me, the human person. We’ll leave that for another time.

Thanks for reading!