2020 (Just Go Away)

They say you got to love yourself first, that’s a trip
I’ve been hating myself since I was a little kid
I know it’s sad that the game’s rained out
And all the bleachers emptied out and the turnstiles spin
All the good ones in the world they keep dropping dead
Everybody’s got a bullet flying at their head
I seen it coming, man, I seen it coming
I seen it coming, no
No one’s gonna change, hey, and that’s the truth
No one’s gonna change, oh, baby not for you
No one’s gonna change, hey, and that’s the truth
And I’m never gonna do what you want me to
Conor Oberst – “No One Changes”

Well, we’re all still in the thick of it, eh?
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The strangeness around day to day life has only gotten stronger. It was odd at first; now it seems like this is probably the new “normal”. Is that a good thing? Time will be the judge of that. Though, in my infinite wisdom and endless supply of negative outlooks, I don’t believe we’ve come close to seeing the worst of it.
Rayshard Brooks. Atlanta.
Breonna Taylor. Louisville.
George Floyd. Minneapolis.
Will these names be linked to another watershed moment in US history? I sure hope so. There are countless other names that could go above and below those three. Men and women from every walk of life have suffered the same injustices. And, as things seem to go in this neck of the world, I’m willing to bet that we are years away from a full-stop. But that has to be the end game, right? Getting everyone to a point where equality is how “it is” instead of how “it should be”?
(Part of me quietly wonders if the beams really are breaking. Or, maybe, this simulation has acquired one too many viruses and is edging closer and closer to shorting out for good).
If you want a fun game to play, I suggest paying close attention to your social media feeds during these times. It’s pretty easy to spot which of your family and friends are racists. There is no prize or wonderful feeling of accomplishment if you win — just an uneasy feeling that may lead to vomiting or bouts of explosive diarrhea.
It’s refreshing to see that the responsible parties are being held accountable for their actions (finally). Of course, the road is still long and dimly lit. Trials will stretch on and on. Justice can often be within reach and then swiftly yanked away when that part of the process is reached. The country will wait with bated breath and watch every single event unfold. Once verdicts are handed down, I imagine the ‘ol fork in the road is going to loom as large as a mushroom cloud.
New cases of COVID-19 are shooting through the roof in many of the states that opened their doors in the hope of returning to the way things were. One projected figure has 200,000 deaths by October. Eeesh.
How are COVID-19 and racism alike? If you haven’t been personally affected by either, then they simply cannot exist! Fake news! A work! All a big fuzzy ruse! Just a scam!
I made the choice to spend a little bit of time away from the house these last few weekends. Britt and I drove out to a couple different places around Pittsburgh. Now, for the most part, most of the folks we came across were wearing masks and keeping their distance. Notice I used the word most. As I pointed out last time (and above), we are still deeply entrenched in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A pandemic that does not seem to be slowing down at all. If you’re the type of person that can’t suck it up enough to wear a mask in a public area for a few minutes, then do us all a favor and stay home. This really is not an issue of personal liberties or freedoms being stepped all over. For some of us, it is LIFE and DEATH.
(Shocking…I know. Leave it to Americans to try and politicize everything).
I do enjoy the constant usage of words like sheep, compliance, and conspiracy when folks are trying to justify being assholes.
(But…but…I never get sick and you know, I really don’t care if I get it…I’ll be fine…YouTube and many scientific experts on Facebook say this is all a big joke anyway…so what if I am risking the health and safety of everyone I come into contact with????? I refuse to live my life in fear! Fear is how they control you!)
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It was weird being out. I haven’t been locked away for months (doctor visits here and there). But actually going out and stepping back into doing things that I used to do felt very odd. Also very uncomfortable at times. At the time, I equated it to the feeling you get when you are doing something that you probably shouldn’t be doing. A hollowness that started in my guts and slowly worked itself all the way up to my throat. It eased and eventually went away, yeah, but the whole thing was still quite unpleasant.
It was certainly disappointing (and not at all surprising) to see how the masses acted once some of the restrictions were lifted around the country. Will this lead us right back to where we were in March and April? Perhaps. Will the stubborn continue to run ahead with the blind hope that they don’t wind up crashing into a wall? We’ll see what the magic 8-ball says.
(Once you’re done with the racism game on social media, you can peruse various comments sections under posts with Covid related material and/or opinions. A real bright blinking warning: your brain will hurt about one minute into the process and you will run the risk of permanent damage to your intelligence).
The third and final season of Dark premiered this past weekend on Netflix. As of this writing, we are only two episodes in and there is still a whole lot of mystery left to solve. I highly recommend giving this show a watch (with the original German audio and subtitles). It’s quite a ride.
My return journey to the Dark Tower is almost complete. It still packs a punch. Hard to believe I first finished this series in 2004. The time away really helped give me a fresh outlook on the material and how incredible a job King did weaving the whole thing together. I also managed to knock out King’s latest effort If It Bleeds. It’s a collection of four novellas that are all quite enjoyable. The title story is a sequel to The Outsider and features the return of fan-favorite Holly Gibney. My favorite was a bit called “The Rat”. A struggling writer takes a much needed solo vacation to a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere with the hope of finally breaking through his own wall and finishing a novel. And, of course, the character gets far too deep into his own head and has trouble with even the smallest details. And then he finds a dying rat outside of his door during a storm and, well, things end up going the way they often do in a King story.
I’ve got three titles from publishers waiting to be read (well, technically just one at the moment…the other two are on the way). Paul Tremblay and Zoje Stage both have new titles being released in the next few weeks as well (very excited for both). That should be enough to keep me busy until August.
Well, something is banging around in my closet again, so I’ll take that as a sign to stop running my mouth.
Wear a mask. Be safe. Be courteous. It really isn’t that hard. I promise.

Wake Up (Smell the Pancakes & Insanity)

 

whites

Silence.

I’m rather good at it. Keeping quiet. Standing in the background. Being a wallflower (as I was often told during school dances and other functions). When it comes to matters of my own opinion, I often struggle with how and when to present them to the world. Fiction is easy – it’s made up. It’s either good or bad (it can occasionally slip into the middle sometimes). I can write a story and throw it out for consumption and easily move along to the next project. But when a time comes to put out an opinion – an important one – that ease vanishes instantly.

I’m not sure I have a whole lot to say that hasn’t already been said.

What happened to George Floyd was disgusting. Plain and simple. It’s also disgusting to know that similar things have happened to black men and women for decades and no real change has ever come from any of it. We seemingly protect and praise those who seek to abuse their power. We sit back and watch as the country burns and the blind parrots echo the same babble and dribble that they heard from someone else.

Last time out, I posed the question ‘what is next’? Well, that one got answered in short order.

We’re a country in serious trouble. It starts from the top and trickles down into every crack and gap on the streets and sidewalks below. Instead of trying to forge ahead for a brighter future, we’re continually allowing ourselves to become trapped in endless loops and cycles of violence and hatred. And for what? Where is that going to get anyone? Why are we seemingly doomed to make the same mistakes time and time again? Why does every problem divide us further? Why do so many people in positions of power make the word unity seem dirty and unwanted?

Of course, I speak (write) from a point of view that has never once known discrimination. My only worry when walking down the street is whether or not I’ll be forced to find a bathroom. I can confidently stroll past a police vehicle and not once feel the need to turn around and make sure I’m not being followed. I can walk into a store and not be stared at the entire time. I’ll never be labeled as a threat just because I have a different skin color. Not me. I can sit back and watch the chaos and know that I’ll never be in a situation that would cause demonstrations of such magnitude. Great for me, right? For a lot of us, right? I certainly can’t imagine the struggles people on the other side of the fence deal with on a daily basis.

Are there solutions? I’d like to think so. Will those solutions ever find their way to seeing daylight? I am not as optimistic about that. Government and authority still sit on heavy blocks created from generations of racism and greed. We’re shown this to be a fact almost daily. We live in a country that once owned people — people that are still thought of as ‘less’ in the eyes of many. We give authority to people who do not deserve it. And when the most horrific things happen, we have the gall to feign surprise. We pick and choose which “freedoms” should be honored and fought for.

Yes, we are constantly reminded of the terrible things that occur in this country. And when those of us who have the nerve to exercise their right to express their voice, we are told that we aren’t doing it the right way. When a man knelt on the sidelines of a pro football game, the country said, ‘No, that isn’t right’. When peaceful protesters lined up in a federal park, they were told, ‘No, you can’t do that’ (and then they were gassed and shot with rubber bullets so the President could have some pictures taken in front of a church). When the rioting started, the country said, ‘No, you definitely can’t do that’.

(And no, I don’t support or believe in the rioting and looting. More so the looting and destruction of businesses. But, as you know, humans will take advantage of any situation that they can).

So where does a real solution come from? Voting? Not in my lifetime. We’ll see the poling stations filled come this November and changes will take place in name and title and most likely end there. It goes back to the building blocks of the country. Fresh voices are often silenced. New approaches to progress and relations are countered with arguments and lies. The right hates the left. The left hates the right. The middle — often times — just wants to bang their head on something until this rotted fantasy stops once and for all. New blood enters the system and quickly finds itself tainted and spoiled — like a piece of meat left out in the hot sun for days.

Is there a total solution? On a grand scale? I don’t know. But change — real change — has to start at home. It has to start with youth. That’s where all of this begins. Babies aren’t born with hate in their hearts. They don’t come out of the womb waving flags and eagerly waiting for the next white supremacist meeting. Hate is taught. Hate is learned. Hate is senseless.

No one in a position of authority should be a “bad apple”. Not a single one. We trust those folks to keep us safe. To protect us. But the cold truth still says that they will look at me much differently than they will someone of color.

We all look the same with our skin removed.

Much like the ongoing global pandemic, this is another situation where you don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. (Yes, the pandemic is still happening and still a major threat). What we have is an issue of inequality that persists. It’s hate and fear that linger and ruin mind after mind. We’re all human. And it’s total insanity that in 2020 we still have to push along the message of treating everyone the same.

I hope to see the day when these problems are merely historical relics. Lessons taught in classrooms and in homes. I hope to see a day when a person of color can just live their life in peace without the worry that a cop is going to murder them simply because they exist. I hope to see the day when kids don’t even know the meaning of the word racism because such a thing is no longer a problem.

I certainly hope to see the day when our leaders actually lead. And unite. And promote harmony and peace and progress. It’s a marathon. Not a sprint. Like most things, change can only come one day at a time if you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen.

Be good to everyone.

(and wear your masks if you’re leaving the house…)

-TR

 

So, This is Where We Are…

So…what’s new?

Well. Things sure have changed since I last threw up a load of word vomit in this ‘ol blog.

The world changed. Sports stopped. Entertainment productions stopped. Social distancing is a thing. Economic health and politics are highly favored over the health and safety of everyone (okay, so, that part isn’t really much of a change). Folks have to gear up as though they are headed in to perform surgery before heading out to buy bread and milk (the smart ones anyway).

When this whole thing really kicked off, I will admit, I was struck with an almost daily feeling that we were just trotting along to a most certain apocalyptic doom. It was a heavy feeling that refused to budge most of the time; citing it’s right, as a feeling, to hang around and make every moment seem rather yucky. Once we were rather deep into quarantine, that feeling subsided. Not all the way, mind you, but enough that it was hardly noticeable.

Of course, when I made the trek to visit the doctor last week, I was greeted by that sense of dread. It was like a dog who was ecstatic that its owner finally came home after a long day at the office. It leapt right into my lap and stayed there for hours. Being uncomfortable is a part of daily life for me. Sitting in that waiting room really took things to a whole new level. It didn’t start there. No. Getting out of the car and walking inside was when that first thick veil of awfulness came down on top of me (sort of like a chilled weighted blanket). To top things off, the woman who went into the waiting room just ahead of me was NOT wearing a mask. And when asked to do so, she just shrugged and pulled one out of her purse. I fail to see the difficulty in having it on from the start. 

I could launch into a hefty rant about how the selfishness of people has really reached brand new heights during this pandemic. But what’s the point? Just be mindful when you get the invitations ready for that pity party that you’re going to want to throw down the road. You lose your right to complain when you walk out into a storm without an umbrella.

I can’t imagine that too many people care to be on the wrong side of history. You can dig out those text books and run down the list of every major incident that’s ever occurred in this little blue marble. Hindsight is free and rarely charming. There are endless conversations that start with ‘what-if’ and ‘if we’d only done this’ and those usually amount to major time wasters. It’s easy to look back that way — time already slipped into the world of the Langoliers and the answers were already revealed. There seems to be time to get this whole thing shifted over to the ‘we did it right’ side of the board. It’s a time when being selfless is crucial. There are a lot of people out there (me included) that count on others to be as cautious as possible. Having life inconvenienced is crap, I know. But it is what it is. And it isn’t hard. 

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If 2020 was a person, it would be accurate to say that it’d be the kind of person you would expect to find passed out in a corner somewhere. Lacking pants. Covered in their own crap and piss and empty containers of Capri Sun. We’re inching closer to the midway point of the year and it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down anytime soon. Pandemic. Murder hornets. Who has Terminators coming next? Aliens? COVID-20 that produces zombies? At this point, it’s all possible.

I’m four books in with my re-reading of The Dark Tower. My brother and I started the journey (again) around the same time. This is his first time with the last few books and my second. Although, with my literary memory being worse than a thinny, it really feels like the first time for me. And that applies to the entire series. I have no simple explanation for why my brain acts like a dried out piece of fruit at times. And I dare not dwell on it (as I have so many times before). Mid-World feels (almost) brand new and that’s okay. It really is a shame that Amazon passed on making this into a series. The bad taste of the film adaptation will forever sit on our tongues like flakes of burnt bread. Flakes that were drenched in ghost pepper extract and set on fire before being served to us. 

I finished work on a draft of a new novel last week. That’s really where the bulk of my time has been spent recently — in a little Pennsylvania town with a pretty rotten history. I continue to find myself almost obsessed with what I’ve come to call the Pennsylvania Square (a collection of four towns that includes Pittsburgh). Now, of course, these places don’t exist in our little section of reality. I like to think that there is a plane of existence that contains my little towns. I am planning to publish a new novelette on this blog in the near future. Readers will be introduced to Leeton and one of the many stories that call the little town home. And for those asking, a novelette is longer than a short story and shorter than a novella. I’m sure a day will come when I will cease being so long-winded. Obviously, today is not that day. 

I’m rather light on the recommendations front. I suppose that is quite understandable considering the current circumstances. The Lodge is a cool little horror flick to check out. Community is now on Netflix and I cannot say enough good things about that show. Comedy gold. Prodigal Son (Fox) ended early but on a strong note. The Outsider (HBO) was really good. Watchmen (HBO) as well. I am certainly eager for movies to come back (as well as everything else). Until then, it’s re-runs and random dives into the murky pool known as 80’s horror. We did watch The House By the Cemetery a few nights ago. It’s a Lucio Fulci film from 1981. The effects were great (kills/gore). I’m still not quite sure what the whole thing was actually about, though. 

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Be mindful of others. Be good to each other. We’ve all got more than enough going on as it is. Being a dick isn’t going to make you or anyone else feel better. Now is the time to dig in and take care of people. 

I’ll stop myself and leave off with a big congratulations to Chris and Jordan. They’ve got a baby on the way. I’ll have another nephew sometime this fall. There will be plenty of monkeys and hockey-related gifts in the future. 

-TR

 

 

 

 

 

The Time I Shot a Movie with Homer Simpson (Yes, Really).

“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.”
― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

We are in some truly bizarre times, ladies and germs. Has the world gone mad?

Sidney Crosby probably needs surgery. Days of Our Lives laid off their entire crew and is probably going under. The much beloved President is probably going to be impeached. The Steelers have a winning record despite losing the most important player on the team. CM Punk showed up on WWE Backstage last night. That’s a tiny sample of life at the moment. Bonkers.

Have you ever noticed that most movie reviews are filled to the brim with big words and little to no real content or completely formed thoughts? Yes, sort of like this blog and the content I throw out into the world. It’s relatively the same.

For the most part, I completely avoid reviews. Reading them, anyway. If you’re gallivanting about on the Internet, you’re going to catch some headlines along the way. I don’t avoid them solely because 95% of them are negative (that’s a part of it) but because I don’t want to set myself up into any sort of predisposition going into something. Good or bad.

My thought on this isn’t entirely a blanket statement. I do believe, in a lot of cases, things get bad reviews when the reviewer (or “critic”) doesn’t quite understand what they’ve just seen. There is a disconnect somewhere along the way and in their mind, that automatically makes something bad. You’ll see the hip and fresh buzz terms like “lazy/bad writing”, “poor pacing/editing”, and a handful of others that try so desperately to enhance the writer’s point (whatever it may be). I won’t dare take a dip in the pool of smarmy PC terminology. Folks say things, don’t touch on any examples, and cry foul when someone dares to disagree.

Critical analysis is nothing new. Even the overly negative critical analysis is nothing new. There are just a thousand platforms available for people to expel the thoughts in their heads and often times, those thoughts fall in line with the current trends. And hating everything is very trendy. Is there a point? I don’t know. Try the stuff you want to try. See what you want to see. So on and so on. And don’t be afraid to just exile negative people and things from your life. It’s liberating.

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We caught a screening of Joker opening weekend. Put aside all of the “controversy” and see this movie. You don’t need to have any knowledge of anything going into this. It’s intense. Maybe even brutal at times. It’s certainly a well constructed commentary on many of the issues that plague our society today. And, in my opinion, an Oscar worthy performance by Joaquin Phoenix. I was skeptical about the entire thing when it was announced but I went in with fresh eyes and a clear head. I guess I didn’t quite know what to expect and maybe that was for the best. It isn’t a film for everyone. But maybe it should be.

Doctor Sleep is great. And I mean great. It was the perfect blend of book adaption and sequel to Kubrick’s movie. Go see it. Have fun with it.

So I was reflecting the other night and realized that it’s been 9 years since the filming of Super 8. I spent two days (as did many others) living a microscopic fragment of the Hollywood life. I was without a job. I had a colostomy bag glued to my stomach. I could go places without hesitation or hours of internal strife and debate. I drove to the set instead of the building where I was supposed to go. So the first day did not start off very well. Once I got myself in order, I got to wardrobe and sucked myself into some very tight 70’s clothes. We shot the town hall scene that day and it was a wonderful experience. Just watching the technical process of framing each shot and how much work went into every take…it was great. J.J. Abrams led the way. Kyle Chandler was in the scene.

So here is the kicker. I can’t remember if this happened pre-lunch or post-lunch. There was some kind of technical glitch (I think), so we were delayed a little. A few members of the crew had been tasked with keeping everyone entertained. They asked if anyone had any special talents. Stuff like that. A few people spoke up but no one really stepped forward to do anything. Then comes Jeff Jimerson. Yes. Best known as the National Anthem singer for the Pittsburgh Penguins. And he just kills it with his rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”. Place goes nuts. We shoot some more.

Our day is coming to a close. J.J. Abrams speaks and thanks everyone. I think at this point, he recorded a message and sent it to Spielberg. Then, in one of my favorite moments ever, Abrams brings up Dan Castellaneta (he has a brief part in the film). AND HE TALKED TO US AS HOMER SIMPSON! It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. Being a lifelong fan of The Simpsons, I was floored. Hell, the cast on stage seemed just as excited. The guy is an icon. And he seemed as genuinely nice as anyone could be.

Day two rolled around. I knew where I was going this time around. I also found my way into a makeup chair. No idea how. Got touched up a bit. And a nice lady shaved off my beard and kept the mustache. Which, for the time, was the look. Not one of my favorite looks (there was a period of time where I could only grow a mustache and…well…it was not a good fit). The weather was nice and I was part of a group that carried luggage and ran down the street. We jumped into a car (I was the driver). Of course, we didn’t go anywhere. And no, I couldn’t tell you what model the car was. Something older, obviously. It would have been cool to drive.

I was part of one another shot that day. A few of us just had to run down the road. I believe they just filmed us from the knees down. One of those quick little cut shots to further establish what’s happening. I remember big military style vehicles rolling down Main Street with little green balls attached to them (CGI purposes). I don’t recall either scene making it into the final cut (the evacuation scene is but the footage was from one of the other streets).

A lot of people in town got to do stuff with this movie and it was a whole heck of a lot of fun. And I didn’t live in Weirton at the time, so I didn’t have to deal with the insane traffic issues. A small check in the YAY column.

I made it through episode 8 of American Horror Story: 1984. I’ll go ahead and give myself a pat on the back. It’s cool so far. I really enjoy the formula of the narrative shifting after a few episodes. I think doing that has kept the show from stumbling around in the dark like some of the other seasons. They did it with Roanoke (season 6) and it really worked well. You keep with the characters and the overall feel of the story being told but things are mixed up so much that you feel like you’re watching something new. Sort of like a sequel within a season. If that makes any sort of sense. The finale airs tonight. Once I watch it, I’ll have the entire season under my belt. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Evil (CBS) is easily the best new show on this fall. Prodigal Son (Fox) is good but I really cannot get behind the main character. All of the other characters are great. I don’t know what it is about him. Just…maybe too over the top? I don’t know. Still worth a watch. Emergence (ABC) is cool. So far. The story tipped it’s hand (or so it seems) rather early. It’ll be interesting to see how things go moving forward. I’m just happy that Allison Tolman and Terry O’Quinn are back on TV almost every week.

Castle Rock (Hulu) Season Two is chugging along. We’re six episodes deep and it’s pretty good. Lizzy Caplan is AMAZING as Annie Wilkes. Tim Robbins plays Pop Merrill (featured in King’s story “The Sun Dog” and mentioned several times in Needful Things). It’s an anthology style show, so you don’t need to catch up on Season One to enjoy this (at least I don’t think so). I enjoy the way this show remixes King’s characters and settings. You get the people and places you’re familiar with but it’s very hard to guess what’s going to happen next.

There has been a little more to life besides television and hockey. I’m rather deep into a new novel that I am very excited to share with everyone. Perhaps by the start of the New Year? I can only hope for such luck. I keep asking it to just write itself but I haven’t had a response yet. So yeah. It’s done when it’s done. I won’t go too much into it just yet. The first draft was written when I was in high school. Yeah, this idea has been gestating for quite some time.

Okay. All for now. Until next time. Yep.

Big City Walking (NYCC Recap)

“It made me feel almost giddy, like a high-school girl watching the captain of the football team worked up his nerve to ask for a date. You mean me? Little old me? Oh my stars, really? Pardon me while I flutter my eyelashes.”
― Jeff Lindsay, Darkly Dreaming Dexter

We have returned to our tiny little blue home. West Virginia doesn’t seem so bad when you’ve spent time in a place like New York City. Those who know me well (and those who know me from reading this continuous babble) know that I am not a people person. I don’t care to be around them in large quantities. Depending on the day, I can affix small quantities to that statement as well. I digress. New York City is a living, breathing entity all to itself. It’s basically wall to wall people and large buildings and a lot of colorful, eye catching advertisements. The traffic is a nightmare. Vagrants wander around seeking handouts or screaming about the end times that are certainly coming. You walk when the street sign says to walk. You stop when the people in front of you disregard their surroundings to they can take pictures of buildings that four million people have previously taken pictures of. Or when a SVU doesn’t take notice of the red light and barrels through the intersection. Business professionals hurriedly scamper from street to street in what I can only assume is due to non-stop lifestyles full of meetings, e-mails, and fully stocked liquor cabinets.

I was brought to New York City for New York Comic Con. NYCC. The largest comic/pop culture convention that isn’t in San Diego. A place where I should feel at home. Where I should be happy. A place that should cater to my every desire as a fan. And I wanted no part of it.

In a world where I have perfect health (there he goes with that old song and dance), then yeah, I’m golden. But waiting in lines for everything (including bathrooms) when you have a volatile and unpredictable stomach condition is not exactly anyone’s idea of a good time. Crowds. Lines. More crowds. More lines. Waiting for this. Waiting for that. That’s your basic breakdown of any sort of major convention, I suppose. Stomach issues, fights and fits with anxiety, and a back that hardly supports most regular activities. Everything in that sentence fragment works together to form a villainous trio that wants to cause nothing more than pain and misery.

Thursday was a tough day. I got on the show floor just as it opened, so I had a brief window to walk around and look at everything before the masses gathered. There are certainly a plethora of options. And if you’re a fan of just about anything, I’m willing to bet that you could have found at least one thing there that would have been interesting. I wandered around a bit. Did my best to shoulder my way through the thick globs of folks just standing about. As the afternoon rolled around, I was well into being awake for 24 hours straight. Yeah. I felt amazing. We took in a panel about horror writers and what scares them (What Scares the Scarer?) It featured Kristin Thorsness (The Wicked Tree), Wesley Chu (The Walking Dead: Typhoon), Clay McLeod Chapman (The Remaking), and Rachel Harrison (The Return). This one was of particular interest to me. I enjoy hearing the opinions and thoughts of other writers (especially when it comes to horror). And of course, they were set up at a little booth across from the entrance to that particular panel room so they could sell and sign their books. And I just wandered away and went back to looking around at stuff.

I’m terrible at meeting people. Talking to people. Interaction. We could go on and on.

Thursday ended early and I was back at the hotel by 6.

Friday was a bit easier. Again, I got to the show floor as it opened. The first panel of the day for me was Nathan Pyle’s Strange Planet.

(https://www.instagram.com/nathanwpylestrangeplanet/)

He talked about the things to do (and not to do) when it came to creating your own successful comic content. His comic, Strange Planet, is a massive hit. It’s brilliant. And they are beings, not aliens. That was clear. He talked about the usual struggles that artists and creators go through (almost on a daily basis). He touched on confidence and how it will probably not exist. But to that, he added that it’s important to just keep going. Keep putting stuff out there. Eventually you’re going to find something that sticks.

Pyle

My last panel of the day was a special screening of the new HBO series Watchmen. It has the coveted 9:00 PM slot on Sunday nights and will start on October 20. The room was filled to the brim. As of now, I believe, we are the only fans to have watched the pilot episode. So that’s cool. The only thing I would suggest (if you plan to watch it) is to either read the comics (or graphic novel…if you must call it that) or find a rundown of the major plot points. It IS NOT required to enjoy the show but you’ll notice some really cool stuff. It’s a direct followup to the comic series and NOT the 2009 movie. That’s an important distinction. They brought out a few members of the cast and crew after and had a little Q&A. So yeah. Give it a whirl. I wasn’t disappointed.

I missed out on a lot. Mostly due to my own bullshit. Otherwise due to the insane amount of people and massive area you need to cover to see and do everything. I didn’t get to see or meet Paul Tremblay or Joe Hill. Missed the AEW panel. Missed the Castle Rock panel and screening (Britt got to go and said it was good). Walked away with far less merch than I wanted (but that’s A-OKAY).

Britt said it best though. It’s all well and fine to come away with stuff. But the best parts of something like NYCC are the experiences. The things you get to do that other people around the country won’t get to do (or see). Yeah, you’re sharing those experiences with the thousands of others that have made the journey, but it’s still relatively unique. And yeah, I didn’t want to go. At certain times leading up to it, I was sure that I wasn’t going to go. But I did. I survived. Will I go next year? We’ll see. Will I continue to do things and complain about them before, during, and after? Probably.

Is there a point to any of this? I doubt it. I suppose, if I could get any sort of a point across, it would be that everyone should enjoy things while they are still able to do so. If there is something you want to do, then go do it. Stop waiting for the right time. Moments come and go and they don’t often reappear. I try my best to do the things I want and I try my best to enjoy the stuff I’m forced into doing. And yeah, a lot of my adventures have me coming across as a whiny little muppet when it comes time to write or talk about them. Life is strange and tough, man. And all of that whining is a direct representation about how it is to live with chronic medical conditions that are slowly killing you. Don’t take me for someone who is unappreciative. Someone who isn’t humble. I may not have a solid plan for the future and the ground under my feet is unsteady day in and day out. But I’m still here doing my best. We just have to live our best lives. But we can also recognize and take appropriate action when things get to be just a bit too much. Sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in on us. In those moments, our vision gets fuzzy and our heads spin and we aren’t sure what might happen next. We sift through fog and walk through wet sand and we’re pretty sure that those chest pains are for real this time. We lose control. Or maybe you’re like me and all of that stuff happens and then you’re faced with the realization that the line for the bathroom is 30 people deep and you may have five minutes to dart through large crowds to get somewhere before some awful business happens.

Enjoy moments when you’re in them. If you’re able. And even if you’re not, you can give it your best.

She’s a Witch! (May We Burn Her?)

Sir Bedevere: …and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped.

King Arthur: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep’s bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

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For centuries, mankind has relished in the idea of time travel. We’ve longed to find a way to travel between now and then (or now and tomorrow…or in the case of Back to the Future Part 2, now > tomorrow > back to now (but a different now) > back to long before > back to a time before all of the other times).

But folks, we’ve done it!

Our ancestors would be proud. Like, overly proud. Look how far we’ve come! In the span of only a few years, we’ve managed to take our conscious minds and send them back to the Dark Ages. Yippie! It’s exciting. The Earth is flat! Vaccines are BAD! Everything is super duper fine with the climate!

Personally, I CANNOT wait until we start burning witches again.

Now, kids, how do we identify witches?

That’s right! They float! Chances are they won’t exactly look very witch-like but that’s okay! Accuse and burn away!

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I am the furthest thing from an activist for any issue. There are far better people out there equipped to handle that sort of stuff. And we’re all saddled with our own views and opinions (despite the pure insanity of some of them). My wish is that people would stop throwing common sense out the window. We turn to science when we need it (which, you know, is ALWAYS) but cast it aside when it doesn’t support our opinion of a subject. Yet, you know, science has that weird way of proving facts and doesn’t deal in the underworld of subjective thought and opinion. We have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips at all times and it just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Yes, I’m sure PAM from Seattle is an expert in what vaccines harm children and which ones don’t. Facebook says so anyway. Has to be true.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a narrative. Of an idea. I get it. I’m still convinced that I’m from a reality where it was the Berenstein Bears and not the Berenstain Bears. Some folks still have a rage thinking that Colin Kaepernick hates the troops. Baseball fans still seem to hate Ryan Braun for some reason. Conspiracies say that Stanley Kubrick helped fake the moon landing. The evil Illuminati ensured that bread remained square while bologna stayed round! None of it is true. But it’s 2019, you dullard. Facts don’t mean a thing.

Well, I don’t know about the bologna thing. Nothing about that adds up.

But yeah. If you find yourself in a rage because a 16-year-old girl wants to save the planet, I do suggest you seek some sort of mental help. Lots of strong folks are working daily to erase the stigma of mental health. There is help out there for you. Re-evaluate things.

I’ll never grasp why there is always push-back to people trying to do good things. As a race, we’ve done (and continue to do) A LOT of shitty things. But we’ve also come together and done some pretty kick ass stuff too. I think if you’re the type that wants a better life for your children or your grandchildren, then maybe it’s a cool idea to show them examples of the right things to do. Yeah, it’s likely that Earth will become an unlivable inferno after some more dates fall from the calendar. And it’s also likely that people will lift the bullshit sheets they cover themselves with and maybe something will get done that will help.

Or…you know…keep on keeping on and prepare your crosses for some witches!

Steelers fell to 0-3 last weekend. Pirates fell down the ladder right after the All Star Break and then proceeded to set themselves on fire. They then somehow managed to open up a sewer cover and free fall into the murk that floats beneath PNC Park.

Hockey is 5 DAYS AWAY. Just keep telling yourself that over and over. It will lessen the sting a little.

I finished Stephen King’s new book The Institute a few days ago. Very entertaining read. It was a good slow burn kind of story (which I love). We’re certainly in a very new chapter of King’s career. Are his days of scaring the shit out of people behind him? Probably not. But his newer stuff only solidifies the fact that he’s easily one of the greatest storytellers of the last few decades and most of it has come without being dipped in the lake of horror.

I like that name for a cheesy 80’s paperback. Lake of Horror. (Tagline – You don’t want to know what’s lurking below…)

I have successfully watched 2 — yes, count them, 2!! — episodes of American Horror Story: 1984. This last episode introduced some plot lines that might wind up turning me off. But perhaps not. The acting, as always, is incredible. Cody Fern is a treasure. And seeing Emma Roberts and Billie Lourd together is great fun (I was a big fan of Scream Queens). John Carroll Lynch plays creepy better than most. We’ll see how the story comes together in the weeks to come. Fingers crossed that things stay somewhat simple.

It is premiere week for the major television networks. As usual, South Park and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia left me in stitches. The Good Place (NBC) is entering its final season and last night’s season premiere was great. I told myself that making an actual effort to watch and keep up with watching shows is something I need to do this year. I enjoyed Stumptown (ABC). The jury is still out on Prodigal Son (Fox) and Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS). At some point this weekend, I’ll give my attention to Evil (CBS) and Emergence (ABC). I need to remedy my subscription status with Shudder so I can catch the first episode of Creepshow.

The ‘to-watch’ list in the movies category continues to grow at an almost exponential rate. Managed to get in Between Two Ferns: The Movie last week. It’s that dumb, silly kind of comedy that I enjoy probably way more than I should. Also caught Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire. Britt has a very strong fandom for found footage films. Me, well, not so much (though there are some gems out there). I do recommend the first Hell House LLC. Worth a viewing.

Midsommar is also out on digital platforms. If you like uncomfortable horror, go on and watch it. It’s not for everyone but if you liked Hereditary, then you will probably like this. I actually felt bad that Britt had to sit through it with me.

Be good to each other.

 

 

Sparkle Motion (And How Your Commitment is Doubted)

Donnie: I made a new friend.
Dr. Lilian Thurman: Real or imaginary?
Donnie: Imaginary.

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Let’s see. Last entry was in late June. Sounds about right.

I had two earlier entries written and almost ready to go. One was totally scrapped. The other (a sort of review and one-man discussion about IT) will be posted sometime in the next week or two. Or maybe in nine months. Possibly never.

Daniel Johnston passed away a few days ago. I will have an entire post dedicated to him coming soon as well. It’s too much to put in here. RIP. True love will find you in the end.

New York Comic Con is in about two weeks. Sure I’ll have plenty to say about that experience. Assuming I survive, that is.

I’ve tried to keep track of my constant nonsensical thoughts over the last month. Most have been forgotten. Some will be ignored. I don’t need to cross back into the eternal gun debate. Enough folks on both sides of that stupid fence keep that fire burning day and night.

I have an idea. This goes out to anyone looking to spice up their gym (Mouser’s…I’m looking at you…not that your gym needs anymore spice). Add a room with furniture. Couches. Fridges. Armoires. Giant boxes full of books. You get the idea. Pick it up and move it around a bit. Maybe make it a distance thing. I don’t know. It’s a great idea.

Football is back. Week 3 approaches and the Steelers are already in a bit of a pickle. Roethlisberger is out for the rest of the season. Elbow surgery. That’s a swift kick in the dick, folks. Ah well. You never know what might happen. News broke last night that they traded for Dolphins DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fans and media types alike have been clamoring for the Steelers to upgrade their defense a bit more. Well, they did. And it goes to show that they have faith in their new starter Mason Rudolph.

I am 1-1 in fantasy football. Not a terrible start. Usually I go 0-3 or 1-2 to start most seasons. Suppose the latter could still happen.

The Penguins played their first preseason game last night. They made the little haul across the state and took the ice in Penn State’s Pegula Arena. A team comprised of mostly Wilkes Barre/Scranton players (with a few big club players sprinkled in) took on a Buffalo Sabres team that had about half of their usual NHL lineup (Eichel, Skinner, Dahlin, Hutton – to name a few). The stream quality was iffy so I tuned in and out and in and out. First two periods were mostly forgettable (being outshot 37-9 is yucky). But they managed a strong third period and the teams went to OT tied 4-4. Eichel got the OT winner.

I’m always asked how I think the Penguins are going to do. Despite my unconditional love for the NHL as a whole, I do hold the Penguins at the tippy top of my heart. Optimism is always in full swing at the start of any season. They’ll win the Cup. Right? If you’re a fan, you don’t think any other way. Realism dictates that we’ll have a clear picture come January or February. And, as history tells us, even that time of the year doesn’t exactly paint the clearest picture. I find it’s best to avoid social media, root for your team, and enjoy the ride. If you weren’t a fan before, say, 2009, then you probably don’t remember the struggles this team went through. Count yourselves as fortune and lucky that things are still good. Yeah, being swept out of the playoffs was poop. But it’s a new year. It’s a new day. Yes it is.

I am making my yearly fall resolution to try my best to finish a season of American Horror Story. Jot that down somewhere. They’re doing an 80’s slasher theme this season. That’s right up my alley. We’ll see how it goes. In the 8 seasons they’ve done, I’ve only finished 3 (Murder House, Roanoke, Cult). A show like that should be right up my alley but man…I just have a hard time really sticking with it. And that sucks. I always tell myself that a time will come when I’ll strap myself to the big chair in the living room and force my way through the whole series. Clockwork Orange style if need be.

Are we on the verge of the next pro wrestling war?

No. We are not.

I’m sure in the minds of fans across the Internet, war is immanent. Battle lines will be drawn on Twitter and Instagram and teenagers who dedicate their lives to running weird fan accounts will be swimming in content they’ve plucked from other folks. Horrible things will be said back and forth. It will be a shining example of why wrestling fans are slowly ruining everything.

It’s NXT vs. AEW, right? Two “rival” wrestling shows on at the same time. Battling for ratings supremacy. We are reaching into the past and dredging up memories of the fabled Monday Night Wars. WWE vs. WCW. It’s going to be the same thing all over again! Ahhh!

No. It’s not.

WWE vs. WCW was a war for ratings. A war for survival. For fans. They duked it out to see who could put on the better program. Thing is, fans actually had to make a choice back then. Unless you had your VCR programmed to record one show while you watched another, you had to choose. And each company had its loyal fan base. Some of us would flip between USA and TNT and stick with whatever seemed most interesting at the time. Others just stayed on one channel and enjoyed the entire show. I believe WCW showed a replay of their show but most of us had to get up early for school the next day, so staying up wasn’t an option.

It’s 2019. Not many people are forced to make choices when it comes to programming anymore.

DVR. On Demand. WWE Network. YouTube. I could go on and on.

I believe the people that are preparing for “war” are just young kids that weren’t around for the Monday night stuff. Or, possibly, they are older “fans” who live and die on the Internet. And there seems to be a constant need for these lads and ladies to feel like they belong to something. It’s all well and fine to have a home team you like to root for. But this is entertainment. Everyone — in both companies — works hard and deserves success.

Again, it’s best to avoid social media. Wrestling fans seem to have nothing better to do with their time than complain and bitch about what they watch (despite, you know, continuing to watch the thing that is causing them so much grief). And going to shows is usually no better. If people aren’t sitting on their hands, then they are doing everything they can to try and get themselves “over” (I hate using wrestling terminology). I don’t get all the hate. I don’t get all the negativity. It’s entertainment. It’s supposed to be fun. If you aren’t entertained — if you aren’t having fun — then why are you still watching? Find something else to do. And we won’t even touch on the insanity of “fans” being awful to wrestlers on social media. Well, okay, “fans” being awful to pretty much everyone on social media. Wrestlers are people too.

We’ve got tickets to the AEW show that’s coming up in Pittsburgh and man, I do worry about it. Not what we’ll see in the ring — that’ll be great — but by what (or whom) will be sitting near us. Around us. Seems like folks just like shitting all over everything. And that can be a handful to deal with in a public setting. I’m sure I could do an entire rant about people and the general lack of spacial awareness they usually display.

I tend to rag on Philadelphia. A LOT. But we have attended a number of wrestling shows over there in the last few years and it’s been a treat. Especially NXT: TakeOver in 2018. That crowd was electric. I love being a part of stuff like that. I cannot imagine what it’s like being on the other side of that enthusiasm. A feeling greater than your normal run-of-the-mill adrenaline rush, I’d guess.

So yeah. AEW vs. NXT.

AEW. Cody. Kenny Omega. Young Bucks. Jon Moxley. Britt Baker. A brand new promotion that is looking to gain footing and put on exciting, entertaining shows. NXT. The Undisputed Era. Johnny Gargano. Shayna Baszler. Velveteen Dream. Our guy, Joaquin Wilde. WWE’s hottest roster. A group of guys and gals who constantly put on incredible matches and exist under the umbrella of the biggest wrestling company in the known universe.

Just enjoy both. Be happy that we live in a time where enjoying both is a possibility. I know I will.

And, if the Penguins are playing on Wednesday…well…my DVR will be pulling double duty those nights. Probably most Wednesday nights. Once the NHL season starts, I’ll have at least one game a night to watch. Can my dream of a Penguins/Oilers Cup final happen this season? Optimism says yes.

So okay. Be good to one another. And yourselves.

 

 

 

Dreamland (1…2…3)

“Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.”
― Ray Bradbury

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Joaquin Wilde makes his NXT TV debut. (Photo courtesy of WWE.com)

Last night, I watched a dream come true.

I don’t write about professional wrestling much. Ever, actually. And it’s not that I don’t want to — sometimes I think it would make for interesting subject matter — but I generally drop into something else and say “next time”. I don’t find shame or embarrassment in writing or talking about pro wrestling. I’m a fan. I’ve always been a fan. I’m sure I’ll always be a fan. Wrestling was brought into my life at a very young age — as it was for most of us — and it’s stayed there ever since. One of my earliest memories is going with my dad down to Wheeling for a show. I don’t remember much of the action. I don’t even really remember where we sat. I do recall being upset that I wasn’t allowed to get one of those big foam fingers. Priorities.

But last night, I watched a dream come true.

Dreams. We all have them. The weird stuff we see and experience when we sleep. Some are good. Some are iffy. Some are just full on nightmares. Some don’t make a bit of sense and we forget them the moment we wake.

But that’s not the direction we are headed today.

Because last night I watched a dream come true.

When I was a kid (around 10 or 11), I met a guy named Michael Paris. Here was this scrawny Filipino kid living in West Virginia. He liked basketball and on first glance, I didn’t expect much in the way of a friendship. Turns out, he was also a huge fan of pro wrestling. And so was I! So the bond was formed. And that’s how it works. One simple thing can bring people together for life. One shared enjoyment is all it takes.

We grew up together. We spent collective years watching and studying and enjoying wrestling. As time went along, more and more people trickled in and out of what became a very tight knit group of friends. A group of guys that loved wrestling and could never get enough of it.

Michael had the dream back then. The itch. He was going to make wrestling his life. That was it. There was no hesitation. He was going to give it his all. If it worked, it worked. If not, well, that wasn’t a scenario that was talked about much.

I shared that dream. Sometimes, I still think about a reality where that was something that happened for me. But it didn’t and maybe it was never meant to. I went along and found my own way and now I’m navigating my own choppy dream waters.

Michael chased that dream. He put in the work. The time. The years of blood, sweat, and tears. He faced highs. Lows. Moments of self-doubt. Moments where he stood between a rock and a hard place. Moments where — unfortunately — he faced life and death.

In April 2017, he suffered a very serious injury while performing in Mexico City. An injury that almost cost him his career — and more importantly — his life. A ruptured colon and internal bleeding led to a major surgery that would alter the course of his life forever.

Everything happens for a reason, right?

In March of this year, Michael signed with WWE.

I’ve watched his career from the start. From the days when we goofed off in the backyard, to him taking an unbelievable beating at the hands of Homicide at the IWC Super Indy Tournament, to holding titles in Impact Wrestling (TNA), and now to stepping into a WWE ring.

Michael made his NXT TV debut last night. And I’m still in awe.

I’m in awe because my friend made his dream come true.

And that’s why we’re all here, right? To make our best lives? To enjoy each moment? I think, sometimes, chasing your dreams is looked at with cocked eyes and pursed lips because as you get older, the nasty adult priorities are always biting at our heels. As kids we are told that we can be anything that we want to be (assuming you have parents that see fit to encourage such things). As we grow older, we are exposed to the crop of folks that say otherwise. I’ve always been convinced that the naysayers are just fools who let their dreams die. Or fools that never had dreams in the first place. (Because, well, if they couldn’t do it…neither should you).

As kids, the possibilities seemed endless. Infinite. We wanted to be superheroes. Movie stars. Rock gods. Comic book artists. We wanted to catch the game winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. Walk out of WrestleMania as the champion! We fell in love with those things and projected ourselves into those roles every day.

But time and dreams are always working against one another. And more often than not, those big ideas we had as kids are tucked away in a trunk and pushed into the back of the closet.

Is it easy to do the big stuff? No. Actually, it will probably be some of the hardest work you’ll ever do. But if it was easy, then everyone would do it. There are no guarantees. No shortcuts. And there is no middle ground. You’re either all in or all out. I believe that’s the only way it’ll really work. The path to making a dream come true is full of rejection and reality and walls that occasionally extend to the sky.

It takes reckless courage to chase dreams. And it takes even more courage to hold onto those dreams and let them carry you wherever you’re meant to go.

I always lean to the idea of staying humble and hungry. Complacency is a killer. So is ego. The two combined form a weird parasite that looks like it slithered right out of Carpenter’s remake of The Thing.

The dream path has two endings. Either it works or it doesn’t. Failure is always a possibility. It always lingers. It’s the monster around the corner that’s just waiting for you to let your guard down so it can strike and eat your face. The idea of failure is scary, sure, but it’s one I’d rather face than the alternative. I’ve always said that it’s better to try and fail than to have never tried at all. Personally, I don’t want to face death and have a big fat ‘what-if’ scenario hanging over my head.

Michael and I took very different paths in life. It’s been a few years since we saw one another. We don’t even talk much these but that’s okay. I miss my friend, yes, but I know he’s living his best life. He’s walking proof that dreams come true. That dreams are worth having. That the countless hours and hours of hard work will pay off in the end.

It struck me, as I sat down to write this, that his near-death experience and mine lined up within a month of one another. Life is weird that way, I guess. It really isn’t a thing that you want to have in common with someone. But we’re still here and still working toward the things we want. So there’s that.

I’m sure dozens and dozens of things like this will be written. Memories will be shared and maybe even some name dropping to family and friends and co-workers. I mean, knowing someone in the WWE is a cool thing, right?

I watched a dream come true last night. And that gives me hope. Hope not only for myself but for every person out there who wants to do something special with their life. Anything is possible. And we can accomplish anything if we just put every bit of ourselves into it.

And never stop believing. Never giving up. Never settling when someone says no. Reckless courage. Always being willing to knock down every single thing that tries to get in the way.

My friend made his dream come true. And it makes me so freaking happy.

Be good to one another.

(NXT can be seen every Wednesday night on the WWE Network. Worth watching if you’re a wrestling fan.)

 

 

Critical (Waffles, Sheep, and Detox)

“It’s easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It’s a lot more difficult to perform one.”
― Chuck Palahniuk

 

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Hamster in Butt World

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Corn Universe. Where man evolved from corn.

It’s fun to be mad. There is a feeling of exhilaration when our feet slide into those well worn grooves on the soapbox. It doesn’t matter if we have an actual grasp on the facts of a subject. We grab our digital telescopes and look down the block and hope we see something that will stir up the fires in the hearts and fingers of our buddies who camp out (for now) in the land of outrage culture.

Do we want to hate things more? Or is it just easier? Having a negative opinion about a certain thing gives us a lot more leg room when it comes to talking about said thing. There is an eagerness to this kind of negativity. Before, we jumped at the chance to be the one to introduce something to the group (music, movies, books, etc…). Now, the line is log-jammed at the front with folks who want to be the first to publicly hate something. We take a break from begging celebrities to notice us on social media so we can flame and torch a thing that someone else did. That, in itself, I suppose, is another attempt at being noticed. At being taken with some sort of value. We think — maybe assume — that our wit and intelligence will bleed across the things we type.

But it’s been said — here and plenty of others places — hating everything doesn’t make you interesting.

They say everyone is a critic and that’s very true. It’s the easy thing to do. It’s a position that requires the least amount of effort. “This thing you spent months and months doing…yeah, it sucks…and I could have done it so much better…but I didn’t…and I won’t…”. And hey, I get it. You put yourself and your creations out into the public and you’re going to get criticism. The two go hand in hand. I know writers are told to avoid reviews. I would think the same would go for anyone in the realm of entertainment.

It’s weird. People get attacked for liking things. They are made to feel like they shouldn’t enjoy what they enjoy. I used to be guilty of trashing stuff I didn’t like. And yeah, I’m right at that point in my life where I DO NOT understand a lot of the stuff that younger folks enjoy. Hell, I don’t even understand half of the stuff my wife enjoys. We’ve been together almost 8 years now and I still find myself confused by the stuff she does. I expect that to last for as long as I do. And I am sure that I will continue to shake my head and drift off to take part in my own weird activities. She watches people play video games. I write stories about demons and monsters while listening to Bach, Beethoven, and then I’ll change it up and bop my head along to something by The Beach Boys.

I usually throw a chunk of the blame at social media. We’re continually drifting away from land and the island we’re building is toxic and weird and more dangerous than the one from LOST. I expect that the smoke monster has a Twitter handle and creates A LOT of online petitions to fire people for doing stuff.

It all comes down to the human condition. We are never blameless. Guns don’t kill people. Facebook doesn’t shame mothers. Instagram doesn’t push agendas. We do. We take these tools and abuse them. We pick targets and go after them until there is nothing left. Compassion for other humans is gone. Toast. Poof. Thanos dusted that part of us. The lot of us just go along with no repercussions and all is perfectly smooth and buttery.

We’re all exposed to the good and the bad. Some of us even see the ugly from time to time to time. Optimism. Pessimism. Realism. I know everyone has used at least one of those words when describing themselves. Maybe you picked the right one and did so with pride. Or maybe you lied and picked one that isn’t exactly a correct descriptor of your real nature. I’ve been told countless times that I’m a negative person. Usually, I combat that by saying that I just operate under the realism umbrella. And that’s partially the truth.

I don’t often look forward to things. Usually I hope that social situations and plans somehow get cancelled last minute. When I start a journey somewhere, I generally focus on how much time is left before I can get out and get back home. I pass on food and regret it. I eat food and regret it. Sometimes, I smell food and regret it. That really happens. I keep an eye out for people and situations that send up that ever-so-familiar red flag and I try to stay on the other side of them. I mumble through conversations because I don’t think that I have anything truly interesting to bring to the table. I mean, if you want to talk hockey or movies, then I’m your guy. And sometimes I can fake it just long enough to make it out unscathed. Is this negativity? Realism? A clear sign of serious depression? Tapeworm? The beginning stages of demonic possession?

Stranger things have happened. Stranger things will continue to happen.

(Stranger Things Season 3 is starting in a few more weeks! EEEEK!)

I had a dream that my wife gave birth to the Anti-Christ. And I had a chance to kill it. And I didn’t. Dream me was fine with letting that little demon grow up and take over the world. Most of you know that I am not overly fond of children. So this choice made by dream me was very interesting.

On a side note. If I was a parent to the Anti-Christ, I’d still get that little fella vaccinated.

Clearly I’ve had demons and the Devil on my mind quite a bit lately. I finally watched Rosemary’s Baby all the way through. My last novel had a good bit to do with demons and possession. My new novel/novella/whatever-the-heck-it-is does as well. Good to see that I’m branching out to other things.

On a side side note. I also watched Repulsion. It’s Roman Polanski’s first English film. If you are a fan of raw, suffocating horror, go ahead and watch that.

The St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup. Dead last in January to champions in June. I am curious if the Blues model will be used next season. Be terrible at the start. Fire the coach. Come together as a team. Win it all. It worked for the Penguins twice (’09 and ’16).

The NHL Draft is on Friday (June 21). I’m not very good at predicting the future but I do expect some big moves to be made. By the Pens and a few other teams. We are just coming out of a playoff race where all 4 division winners were knocked out in the first round. Something tells me that there will be some changes. Blockbuster stuff? Maybe. You can never count on that happening but I do think we’ll see some interesting movement.

The term ‘tech detox’ was used in one of the new Black Mirror episodes. I laughed when I heard it. Then I quickly realized that it’s probably a good idea. Then I laughed again.

Book Recommendations:
The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

Be good.

 

Lower the Curtain (What Are You Looking For?)

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“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones aired its final episode a few weeks ago. It was met with a very mixed reaction. In other news, water is wet and clouds occasionally look like puppies.

There was so much debate sparked about those final episodes. And some of it was earned. A lot wasn’t. But that’s just my take. I wish the seasons had been longer. Those dreaded “filler” episodes would have eased some of the complaining, I think. Still, we were treated to some really cool stuff. I was happy with it and felt it did a good job closing out the story.

Remember, there are always the books. If you hated this season and turned into an expert on writing and show running, then you’ll have your chance to re-live the story again when GRRM puts out books six and seven. Or, I don’t know, sit down and write out your own ending(s). Fan-fiction is still a thing (I think).

Outside of Breaking Bad, I don’t know of many television shows that received overall positive vibes for the finale. I’m sure there are some out there. Cheers? M*A*S*H? The Office? Muppet Babies?

Writing an ending to anything is tough. Writing an ending to something that is beloved by millions is well outside of my knowledge. Fan expectation can be over the top at times and often allows itself to grow into something that can never be attained. We all have our ideas of how things should play out and what should happen and how we’d do things. More often than not, though, all of that stuff doesn’t happen and we (as fans) feel slighted and let down.

Storytellers don’t have an obligation to write what the fans want. They just have to keep everyone invested. Keep them wanting more.

There was a series that aired on ABC called Happy Town. It aired in 2010 and was cancelled after 5 episodes? 4 maybe? I recall they put the remaining episodes online for anyone who cared enough to finish them. Which I did. Now maybe this is one of those cases where I am looking at memories through rose colored glasses but I remember this show being pretty cool. The overall mystery was about a rash of serial kidnappings happening in a remote town in Minnesota. The cast was great. Steven Weber. Sam Neil. Frances Conroy. M. C. Gainey. Just to name a couple. I think the bad guy was called the Magic Man? I should go back and watch the thing sometime. I know ABC still has it on their website.

It’s an interesting thing to look at over and over. Obviously, the ratings for the program were bad enough that ABC didn’t want to invest anymore time or money. I get that. Television is big business. It was 9 years ago, yeah, but you didn’t have the major streaming platforms around like we do now. Something like this could have found a home with a Netflix or a Hulu. And I think it’s a shame that it didn’t.

Side bar. I am still waiting for Hannibal to find a new home. It’s been years since NBC cancelled that show and I still want more.

To the point. There are a ton of stories that never get an ending. There are countless hours put forth by men and women to bring these creations to life. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I don’t believe lack of effort is ever the issue. Heck, I get lost in my own head space when I’m writing stories. Sometimes I get lost when I’m doing the dishes. I can’t imagine having the kind of pressure that television writers and show runners have. Seems like the type of pressure that could easily suffocate a person.

I am good at being late to the party with a lot of stuff. Especially media. I just finished both seasons of Barry. It’s with Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Anthony Carrigan, and Henry Winkler. It’s on HBO and definitely worth watching. It has a wonderful blend of dark humor and drama. Hader plays a hit-man who follows a target into an acting class and ends up joining the class and wanting to become an actor. Performances are fantastic and it’s got plenty to keep you hooked.

Robert Pattinson has been cast as Batman. I’m fine with this. I was hoping to have taken in some of Pattinson’s indie work before I got to this bit but I’m shit at time management. I learned a long time ago that getting all worked up over casting is pointless. Utterly pointless. Did anyone think it was a good idea that Heath Ledger landed the role of the Joker? No. And yet, damn near everyone loved it. And him. It’s okay to step back from the pre-judgement table and wait it out somewhere else.

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Interior page from Detective Comics 27 (1st appearance of Batman)

I think it’s hard for folks to separate actors from their more famous roles. I just hope the script is good. Definitely on board with the story idea of going back to Batman’s roots as the world’s greatest detective. And as a comic fan, I do hope for some of the more colorful villains. Having a proper Riddler seems all too obvious at this point. Killer Croc? Ventriloquist and Scarface? Hugo Strange? Zsasz? Man Bat? Calendar Man?

I could go on and on and on here.

Just remember this:

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The good ‘ol days before Captain America. Give Pattinson a chance before you set fire to the Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

We spend last weekend in Philadelphia. I know, I know. That sentence alone should throw up a big red flag. We had tickets to see Glen Hansard and it was worth every bit. He’s playing in Cleveland in September but I don’t really do so well with activities that involve standing for hours at a time. So Philadelphia was the only other option. The guy is brilliant. He put out a new album called “This Wild Willing” and I highly recommend it. Hansard is an Irish singer/songwriter and an Oscar winner (“Falling Slowly” from the film Once).

Philly isn’t nearly as crowded as NYC, so that was a plus. A bit easier for me to get around. And finding a bathroom wasn’t a big issue. Another plus there. We’d been to the city plenty of times but this was the first time we’d ever really been downtown and got to walk around a little. I wasn’t accosted or even threatened for wearing a Penguins hat! Imagine that. I still have a pretty hard time when it comes to traveling. And usually in the moment, I regret leaving the house and I always tell myself that I don’t want to ever go anywhere again.

On Saturday we did a bit of walking around the King of Prussia Mall. A few miles worth. That place is huge. Worth a visit (if you’re a fan of malls…). We’ve been there several times (a usual haunt from our Scranton days). Plenty of high end stores. You know, the stores where they check your credit before you’re even allowed to peruse their offerings. T-shirts well over $100 each. Fashion has always — and will always — elude me. If I’m ever out and about and you see me and I’m looking stylish or whatever, please, I beg of you, heavily consider the idea that I have been replaced by a pod person. And act accordingly.

The new season of Black Mirror released this morning. So I’m off to binge the hell out of that.

Be good.