The Unpleasant

•June 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment

All around me I run into the unpleasant people. I just deleted someone from my Facebook page because all he did was complain about the government, the police, the weather, the government….I’d become friends with him through some real friends in the music business. There’s another gent, whom I’d been friends with in high school, who has become very politicized. That in itself wouldn’t be a problem; I have a few good friends who are interested in politics. However, this gent looks down on anyone not of his ilk in either social standing, skin color, religious or political belief, or apparent intelligence. He also used to hit his girlfriend, who was friends with my then-girlfriend. So much for class and intelligence. The frightening thing is he was until recently part of his state militia, and has a barn full of weapons. He also has two kids. Not the best of combinations.

There’s a woman who’s friends with a very good friend of mine. She claims to be pro-science. However, anything the least bit outside mainstream science, and especially religion, is treated like the gravest of heresy by this woman. She also has the interesting habit of ending her barbs and inquiries with usually no less than eight exclamation points or question marks. I could tell her things that I’ve experienced directly that would make her head spin like a bicycle tire rolling down Everest. Sure, skepticism has it’s place, but not dogmatic skepticism like some people, including this over-punctuated person, subscribe to.

There seem to be an awful lot of–no, wait. There seem to be a good number of overly loud so their number seems greater people that work in TV. I’ve learned the hard way to keep my mouth shut around these people. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with them all that much.

What do they get out of being this way?

Why I Would Never Make A Comic Book Movie

•June 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

There are a couple reasons, most having to do with Superman.

Everybody knows I’m a comics fan, but as a rule, I don’t read the DC books. Sure, I’ll grab a Batman book once in a while if the cover catches my eye, but that’s it. The other books always seem too serious and often too goofy at the same time.
I grew up with the Superfriends show and the Superman movies. There was the right tone in each that the books often lacked. The Ultimate Expression Of The Lack Of Fun was in the Death of Superman series, the panel where Doomsday first pounds Superman. Superman just stands there, completely assured that it won’t hurt him.

THEREIN lies the problem. It’s like a computer game where you have all the cheat codes. You know you’ll win. Sure, I knew by the none-too-subtle Death of Superman that he wasn’t GOING to win, but…but…but he’s Superman! He’s SUPER!   Of course, this particular time, he loses.  Death comes to Metropolis.   “But, you overtall mushroom head,” my dear readers will opine, “THAT was a BOOK!  You’re talking MOVIES!”

I know that.  It’s called a transition.

You can’t kill Superman.  In books.  In movies.  Video games.  Whatever.

Superman, the Movie, is one of my favorite memories.   My mom went to a Broadway show with either one or both of my sisters, I think it may have been Man of La Mancha.  Since I woulda been bored to tears, was the thinking, my Dad and I went to see Superman.  A trip to New York, with my whole family, and me and Dad in the movie theater.  With popcorn.

Now, fast forward a bunch of years.  Superman Returns comes out, and it ignores the third and fourth movies.  I’d watched them, and even though I thought initially Nuclear Man was kind of a cool concept, they didn’t have the emotional connection that the first did.  To my amazement, though, everywhere I go people were bitching and moaning about what That Evil Movie (which is a blog post for another time) Did To Our Childhoods.

Did.  To. OUR.  Childhoods.

Therein lies the problem with comic book movies.  Even when they’re really well done, say, the Second Raimi Spider-Man, the first two X-Men, the first Iron Man, who’d always been a personal favorite, there is a large portion of the populace familiar with the minutest detail of the property.

INTERLUDE

College.  I was in the C&O wing when, as was wont to happen, Trek Trivia came up.  Someone mentioned I knew a bunch, so Kwon, the peech imspedimented answer to Eddie Deezen, challenged me to a competition.  Warily and wearily, I obliged.  It was called in my favor when Kwon tried to get me to name a specific stardate when something happened and all those present  decided it had gotten too silly.   THAT is the kind of person I’m talking about.

There are still people decrying the changes between X-men the book and X-Men the movie(s).    Heck, there are people still complaining because John Hammond and Ian Malcolm survived Jurassic Park The Movie.  So, to avoid this, I would only write my own superhero movie.  People will die.  If the character is supposed to be a quasimythical figure, a la Batman, HE WON’T DRIVE A CAR or HAVE A SIGNAL.  “Look, the spirit of justice is coming to get us!  I just saw his car!”  Doesn’t work outside of a semilousy James Brolin flick.

 

The I’s Don’t Have It

•June 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It seems an evolution in writing is taking place. I expect this is, largely, due to text messaging and people accessing the internet over their phones. What is this?

A large group of people, when telling about something they’re doing, leave out the subject. Rather than saying, “I’m leaving the house for the airport, where I’ll fly to Timbuktu,” for example, it’ll read thusly. “Leaving the house, and flying to Timbuktu.”  If someone feels longing for another, it’s “Missing so-and-so.”  WHO, specifically, is missing them?  A myopic sniper?

I love words.  Long words, medium sized words, and itty bitty dinky words consisting of only a single character.  Put these words in.  Make it clear that YOU are going to the movies to guzzle popcorn and Slim Jims.  Don’t make future cryptolinguists wonder if the early twenty-first century suffered from some bizarre Orwellian groupthink.

How Stupid ARE Some People?

•April 13, 2015 • 2 Comments

The Clone’s school district is very anti-bully happy. Anti-bullying posters abound throughout the place, there are Anti-Bully Zone placards out by the curb. They’re just not particularly good at the anti-bully execution. Case in point: Recent events involving the previously mentioned Clone.

He doesn’t feel like he makes friends readily. How far this is from the truth could be debated. Well, he has been hanging around with a few guys who crossed the border into unpleasantness some time ago. They’re continually poking at him, giving him the finger, and just being generally intimidating. The clone, ever resourceful, recorded this on his phone so we could see what was happening.

His school has a man who is in charge of discipline. This person, and I use that term generously, was apparently a police officer earlier in his career. I’ve spoken to him on various occasions, once when my kid came home from a fourth period class with rope marks on his forearm. In getting ready to leave a class, he sat in an open seat to tie his sneaker, which another kid, not the seat’s assignee, took issue with and pulled the strings on his gym bag so tightly to leave the marks mentioned. The teacher was not in the class to witness this. Remember that, it comes into play later. There was also an incident last year, where, during dodgeball, the Clone threw his arm out and caught a kid across the neck who’d been running from the side. The Clone was disciplined for this. I called for an explanation as to the reasoning, where the teachers were during this, and where the logic was in disciplining someone for partaking of a game organized by the apparently absent teachers. I never received a satisfactory explanation. Remember this also.

We decided it was necessary to meet with this person to try to resolve the situation. I went over, showed the video, and he had videos of his own where my son was sitting with the same kids, seemingly getting along famously. Disciplineboy, against our wishes, called my son into the room and spoke to him about this. I was told repeatedly that he shouldn’t have had his phone out, to which I repeatedly said he’d done it to show evidence. I had to wonder where the priorities were. The kid was getting more and more uncomfortable as it was “recommended” that he eat somewhere else. This was also taking place where they share classes, and the response was, “Well, they decide to work together.” We told Disciplineboy this can’t keep happening.

Forward a week. The Clone comes home and tells me Disciplineboy pulled him into the office to tell him that one of the kids had reportedly said he was bringing a shotgun, which he’d been bragging about getting for his birthday for months, into school and was going to shoot the Clone, as well as other people. My son told us this at 7:30PM when we were in a store. My wife and I looked at each other, her scared, me infuriated. This was Thursday, which is my first night off after my work week. I hadn’t slept all that much during the day, so by the time we got home I was ready to drop. My wife, on the other hand, hardly slept a wink after this news. I drove the kid to the bus stop, and once he was on board, I called the school, asking for the principal.
“He’s in a meeting,” his secretary told me. “Would you like his voice mail?”
“No,” I responded, “Get him on the phone now.”
“What is this in reference to?” she asked.
“This is in reference to shotgun threats being made against my son in your building and no one notifying us. Now get him on the phone.”
“Well, he’s in a meeting and I can’t reach him.”
“Is the meeting about my son being threatened with a shotgun?”
“No.”
“Then go inside, and get him. I can’t imagine anything he’s talking about being more important than that today.”
We argued back and forth for a few minutes, with first me ready to drive the five minutes to get to the school and then, my wife being slightly calmer, waiting until I got the call back from the mysteriously placed prinicipal. I told him I wanted a meeting immediately, the current time being 7:45. He said he could meet with us at 8:15. I said that would be fine, and I was going to get explanations. We got there at 7:55 and waited. At 8:13, the principal and his lackey, Disciplineboy, brought us into the office. My wife and I declared how mystified we were that all this could take place and no one think to notify us. Turns out, according to them, the threat wasn’t against the kid, but he HEARD it. My response to this was, “I don’t CARE. If anything with firearms is taking place anywhere around my kid, I WANT TO KNOW.” We then explained about the incident we’d already met about, I showed the video on my phone when the principal was unaware of it, and h ALSO stated the kid shouldn’t have had his phone out. My wife and I then both questioned where their priorities were. We were then informed the investigation was ongoing. I informed them that while they were investigating, my son could’ve ended up with a bullet in his brain since there is no security measure against this in the building. I told both of them that neither were to speak to the Clone unless I was in the room. We went back and forth for several minutes, with the principal ending with a request to me that if there’s a problem to go to him, not his secretary. I told him I was trying to, reiterating that I didn’t believe there was any matter worth a meeting more important than the threat of gun violence. He then asked that I apologize to the secretary. I did, with the proviso that if our situations reversed, I was certain the secretary or the principal would act with the same urgency.

Fast forward a bit. The end of the day. The school is doing standardized tests this week. They had a pep rally(a pep rally for STANDARDIZED TESTS? Methinks they protest too much. Or something.) and, afterward, they went back to their homerooms. A kid that had been thrown out of the Clone’s karate school for actions by his mother, who was also slightly mental, threatened to take of the Clone’s head and two other kids, while slapping them. Again, no teachers to be seen. I heard about this and promptly called my victim, er, the principal. He said he’d look into it. That was Friday. I can’t wait to hear what he reports today.

Are origins needed?

•February 25, 2015 • 4 Comments

I’ve written a bunch of books. I have ten in a series that I’d planned for at least fourteen parts. Did I start with the beginning?

No.

I started with the second book. Why? I knew who my characters were. I wanted to get into the tale, get the action set up with out the preliminaries. I eventually went back to write the first book, with more characters that, since I’d established the main cast in the one I’d already written, I was free to kill off in interesting ways.

Look at Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies or the Nightmare on Elm Street redux. Both movies, while reasonably well done, make the main antagonist into something the originals never did–they make them sympathetic. I don’t WANT a sympathetic Michael Myers. I know Freddie’s backstory, but do I need to see it? I don’t think so. In a horror movie like that, the antagonist should be like Myers was in the first movie–mysterious, almost a force of nature.

Superman has become almost Arthurian in that almost everyone knows the basics. I have to admit, I didn’t care much for Man of Steel, partly for trying to explain/humanize Zod and partly for its eyecandyness. I can watch a long movie and not lose interest. Superman used to be one of my favorite heroes. Now, I thought the changes made to Jonathan Kent were interesting, but other than some pretty effects sequences, nothing happens that the Christopher Reeve movies didn’t do better. Now, if there’d been more story development time spent between Zod and Superman instead of the Krypton and Kansas scenes, it could have been so much better. The movie did make Superman feel more alien, but from the time he was very young, he was raised HERE, so the alienosity seemed misplaced.

Can I share a secret? Out of the Marvel X-Characters, Wolverine was never my favorite. Sure, I like the Canucklehead, but I also found Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Colossus more interesting, not to mention Kitty Pryde. One of the things that made them appealing is they could’ve been me. Except for his intense need for Vizine, Scott Summers isn’t much different from most people. Piotr, when not imitating his mother’s silver, is still pretty big but fairly gentle. That’s something I have some experience with. They’re relateable. Logan, remember Logan? He’s as different from me, and most people I suppose, as you can get. There was also a sense of mystery about him. Now that Origins has come out, not to mention the first Wolverine movie, some of that was lost. Snake-Eyes was in the same boat. You weren’t sure why he was masked, why he didn’t speak. Issue 26 changed that, but there was still some mystery since you were never sure what he was thinking and obviously there wasn’t any dialogue coming out of him to clarify anything.

Adventures In Chaperoning

•December 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So, you guys ready for the Adventure of the Ren Chaperone? Well, tough, you’re gonna hear it anyway. We get to the school, the clouds low and grey in the sky, hanging as though they were impregnated guppies that swam through grey paint. I waited in the office, the first victim, er, volunteer for our expedition. Various other suckers/parents drifted in, including one decked out, head to shin, in the school colors. Beneath his knees, below his shorts, he wore beige knee high socks. And here I thought my Bazinga! t-shirt might get me noticed. We get on the charter busses, Cloneboy and I can’t sit together because 7th graders are apparently stupid and territorial. I knew half of that equation going in. The convoy leaves the school, gets on the turnpike, and promptly goes nowhere fast. Traffic is lovely on Wednesday mornings. A Harry Potter movie gets put on, along with several statements that cell phones aren’t allowed. Fort Washington lingers in our windows for several long minutes. It is about this time that some girl a few rows up starts asking when we’ll get there and why she can’t get up and exercise. It took most of the fibers in my being to keep from pointing out that we were on a bus, not a traveling gymnasium. Then several of the girls start singing a song incessantly that only seemed to have four lyrics.

Patience, thy name is not mine.

The King of Prussia rest area is reached, and the bus in front of us pulls in, with us following. After several minutes it is determined that the air conditioning is not working on that bus. The conversation throughout turns to how the people on that bus may have to share our own, which I, again, want to point out could be difficult since there are no empty seats.  After about twenty minutes of seventh graders wondering what is to become of their private seats, the other bus up and drives away, all passengers still aboard.  We start up after, complainy girl still wondering when we’ll get there.  The cell phone announcement drifts back, GEEZ, move the needle already!  Traffic isn’t as bad at this point, so toward the end of Azkaban we reach the Lancaster exit.  I scare the kid next to me by telling him that we should get there in another ninety minutes.  I have to have SOME fun, right?  Moments later, we pull onto the winery grounds, and it has started to drizzle.  A largish fellow in some blue-tartanned kilt gets on the bus, naming himself as Angus MacRedBeard.  After several less-than-energetic Long Live the Kings and God Save the Queens, we get off.  Drizzling starts to get enthusiastic about being relabled rain.

At school, the English, sorry, Literacy teacher had suggested it would probably be a good idea if all the groups ate lunch before anything else.  I steer our happy little band around to the picnic tables.  Some of our party had brought lunch, the rest would have to scrounge, er, purchase something.  One happy little individual complains that he wants pizza whilst standing about four microns away from an ancrhonistic place labeled Ye Olde Pizza Shoppe.  When he asks, I tell him to turn around.  He does, at first completely missing the pizza, only spotting it on the second revolution.  Ah, youth.  While pizza is being acquired, my hoagie being eaten, and Brian eating whatever the hell he had, along with his individual can of Pringles, one kid, who used to go to Brian’s karate school before being dismissed for, um, issues, says he wants to spend his money.

“Go for it,” I tell him.  “Can you find your way back here, after?”  I’m a firm believer that seventh graders can be given some independence.  Some sixth graders, too.  Many enthusiastic nods follow, and whilst he is off to make his purchase, another kid, in a Phillies windbreaker, starts to complain about the rain.  Are we the ONLY parents that checked the weather that morning?  Seems so, since Brian’s the only kid armed with an umbrella.  By this time the Ex-Karate Kid has returned, having purchased a purple plastic half-mask.  Keep that in mind; it’ll be important later.

 

Brian, being the ever-responsible one, after finishing his nacho lunchable, throws the trash away, along with the lid for his can of Pringles.  I combine his can with mine, putting the lid on, crunching a few.  We start to explore the grounds, and it’s at this point that Ex-Karate starts displaying buyer’s remorse.  He literally asks every stall if they’ll trade his mask for whatever they have.  It was cute twice, got quite annoying for the rest of the day.

Now, the Faire is known for two things in the food area, turkey legs and hot cider.   Cider afficianado that I am, I got some, tasting the delectable steaming treat.  I ask Brian if he wants to try it.  He does, disliking it instantly and spilling the rest as he gave it back to me.  Easy come, easy go, I suppose.

My little party of six seems to want to do a David Copperfield impression, as two of them keep vanishing.  There’s a maze to walk through, where the proprietor is discounting admission due to the precipitation.  The Clone was fond of this the last time, so he wants to try it again.  Ex Karate and another kid want to go in.  I stay outside with Phillies Rain Boy and the other two.  There was a bit of yelling by Ex as he tried to outdo everyone else in there, if he knew them or no.

Starting the Year with a Dragon

•December 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

There’s a story playing with the edges of my consciousness about dragons showing up for New Year’s. Asians will be mystified as the Year of the Dragon isn’t for a couple years.

 
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