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?


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.

Being The Real, True Story Of Heroics In Over My Head

•July 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Remember Klinger? Remember how he was trying to get out of the Army on a Section 8? They don’t call it a Section 8 anymore. I’m not sure what they call it now, but it’s particuarly relevant to this story.

In college, I spent a bit(which can be read as waaaaaay too much) of time in the C&O wing, in the games club in particular. I was even vice president for a while–long story. This isn’t the place for it yet. Also resident in the Wing was the martial arts club. The GPC and the martial arts club had quite a bit of overlap, as most of the gamers in the club were martial artists to some degree. My best friend, Brian, is one of these guys. I, despite a few weeks of kung fu training by my next door neighbor and a month of training at my son’s school, am not a martial artist. This point must be made perfectly clear. I am NOT a martial artist, nor do I play one on TV.

One night, it was decided that we should all go to South Street in Philadelphia. GPC and the martial arts club. For those who don’t know, South Street is the equivalent of the boardwalk at the beach, only slightly better paved.

Now, there was a girl. I know what you’re thinking–and THIS time, you’re wrong. I wasn’t madly head over heels in love with her. She was nice, I liked her, that was it. She’d managed somehow to get a boyfriend who wasn’t very pleasant or nice. He was quite the jerk. More details coming on this guy. So, several martial artists, their girlfriends who were in the GPC, and this girl and Mr. Wonderful.

There are several cars involved. My two friends are in the back of mine, and Mr. Wonderful is next to me, his girlfriend is in another car. He’s not happy about this. Not so much about being in the Excelsior with us, but being seperated.

We get down to South Street. Now, I’m a fairly big guy. Over six foot, broad in the shoulder area, but remember, the closest thing to martial arts training I had then is reading every GI Joe comic written. So we’re traveling en masse down South Street, checking out different shops. The girl asks me if she can stay by me since she’s dumping the guy and she’s afraid. Do I point out that there are others in our party more capable of defending her honor and person than myself?

You’ve MET me, right?

So, she stays close to me. The boyfriend, who is ALSO six-footish and broad of shoulder, is getting angrier and angrier. I take my new responsibility very seriously, never letting her out of my sight. Thank God we didn’t have to have a potty break. Mr. Wonderful is rapidly approaching critical mass. Still, I have my arm around her shoulder whilst thinking “Yeah, um, what? What am I DOING?” Mr. Wonderful is at this point ditching the whole group.

It’s decided that we should hit Denny’s. At that point Denny’s was the destination of choice when we were either hungry, bored, or in a town with gravity. So, the girl and I are in my car driving as the other cars are going, too. That’s when she springs it.

Mr. Wonderful had been in the Navy. They threw him out on whatever the current Naval equivalent of a Section 8 is. Serious anger issues. I’m nodding, thinking, “Sometimes this hero stuff is for the friggin’ BIRDS!” So, someone too nuts to be in the Navy has been stalking me and her all night, and she chose ME to hide behind, even though all the other guys in the group were martial artists. ME. I made her feel safe. I made me feel like I had brains of Jello.

I tried to kiss her that night. She said, since she was Jewish and I wasn’t, we couldn”t date. She then said it wouldn’t stop her from sleeping with me.

SECOND time my mind reeled that night.

Who’s to say?

•July 14, 2014 • 1 Comment

Over on Amazon’s Alien review listings, in the one star part there’s a guy who talks about unhealthy images on impressionable minds. Beyond the fact that an R-rated movie usually isn’t seen by minds considered impressionable, that started me thinking. Granted, the reviewer’s opinion is so much in the minority it isn’t funny. But what if there were something that someone pointed out was similarly unhealthy that actually WAS? I play around with good and evil and good in a lot of what I’ve written. This could be an interesting angle to play up, like Carrie’s mother having lunch with the televised preacher from Dawn of the Dead, only they’re both dead-on? Forgive the pun, unintentional for a change.

Overestimating Advancement

•July 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Everyone who knows me well enough knows that I’m kind of a science geek. If you didn’t, for SHAME! But, anyway, I am. A lot of the time at work when there’s nothing going on, and in master control, that’s a LOT of the time, I’m bouncing around sites like Space.Com.

There are people who look at the people in the past as less intelligent because they didn’t know as much Science With A Capital S (if you didn’t notice) as we do now, and look down on anyone who believes in the paranormal as uneducated and ill-informed.

Let’s look at the first case. Say there’s an island tribe, for instance. There’s a VOLCANO. Volcano erupts, destroys the village, paves over the crops, and generally ruins Sunday afternoon. Now, the People In Charge in the village might look at the volcano and say, “How do we keep this from happening again?” Someone who might be anthropomorhphizing the volcano may say, “Well, the mountain was PISSED. Maybe it was hungry. I know when I get hungry I get pissed. Maybe if we give the mountain an early lunch, it’ll be like me and take a nap.”

Now, remember the Sciencey people I was talking about earlier? Sure you do; you’re a smart audience. They would SCOFF at this assumption. “A volcano erupts because of pressure from inside the Earth,” showing all the hubris and the bad linguistic habit of saying THE Earth. Does anyone say, “THE Jupiter?” Or “THE Mars?” Sure they say THE Sun, but shut up, okay? These villagers are a nice bunch, clever, but they’re in subsistence mode, not research mode. Gathering pineapples and fishing all day leaves NO time for geophysical research.

Now, eventually, after tossing goats, pineapples, virgins, more pineapples, live sharks, good grief Charlie Brown MORE pineapples and another virgin into the lava the stupid mountain erupts AGAIN. Maybe they’ll realize living on the corner of Krakatoa Lane and Vesuvius Boulevard is a bad idea and move. But once upon a time, ALL society was in that place, including the scientists. Don’t pat yourself on the back too much because you were born into a supposedly enlightened time.

Rain and wind

•June 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been playing with some scenes in my head and the only thing so far that’s connected them is driving rain and wind gusts. There’s at least one leaking building.

I don’t know where this is gonna take me but it’s kinda cool.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.