The Recent Adventures

•August 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It’s been an interesting couple weeks around here.

Let’s start at the beginning, back in October. Yes, smart ass, I know that’s more than a couple weeks, but that’s how far back the beginning of this part goes. See, the inspection was up on our Corolla. The hood was also up because of a fender bender, and wouldn’t close. Since the car had over 240,000 miles on it, and would need brakes at least along with the body work, we decided to trade up. After going to a bunch of dealerships and a bank who wouldn’t give us any loans, we finally found a bad credit(not us)/no credit(ding! ding! ding! on to the bonus round!) place up the street. They had a 2002 Taurus with 120,000 miles on it. After negotiating out the loan, we got the car. Well, except for the heater not working and the brakes(!) occasionally not working in the cold, not too bad. We’ve had to have three alternators put on, but that’s because the car chain place who will remain unnamed but shares initials with peanut butter screwed it up the first two times. Two places checked the brakes, couldn’t find any problem. Checked the heater, couldn’t find anything wrong. A few months after this, Stace is driving to work and the brake dashboard light comes on. I walk up, get the car, take it to a DIFFERENT chain place that I’d dealt with on Greycar. They look at the car, ask me where I got it, and inform me that to come close to passing inspection, it’ll need over $4000 of work–including the leaking rear brake cylinder and a few tires. The mechanic then asks me if I got the car at the corner of two roads nearby, which is in fact where I got it. Mr. Mechanic tells me that the guy is known for that, and even though I bought it as is, it’s illegal in Pennsylvania to sell a car that won’t pass inspection. He tells me the government offices to get in touch with if the dealer won’t play nice. The dealer wasn’t going to play nice, so I filled out the paperwork and waited and watched the brake fluid level like a hawk. Six weeks go by. I hear less than someone with earplugs in a sensory deprivation tank at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. I call the office I sent the paperwork to, and I’m informed by the person handling my case that it was all approved and mailed out in June. This is now the middle of July. I’ve received nothing, so she sends it out again. Three more weeks pass, nothing. I call again, my contact says she’ll overnight it. One of the first two envelopes is in the mail that day. However, contrary to the approved part, dealerboy isn’t going to pay for the repairs and the only option is to take him to court.  My contact says she never said anything was approved and she doesn’t even know what that would mean.  In the midst of my seppuku preparations, we happen to mention to Brian’s She’s Not My Girlfriend’s parents that we need to get inspected.  Turns out he works with a mechanic shop, we should take it there.  We get the number, I call, drop off the Offending Vehicle, and walk to the park a few blocks away with my Complete Lovecraft book to pass the time and/or distract me.

Forty minutes or so pass.  The phone rings.  I hear the distant death knell of any hope or pride on distant hills.

“I have an estimate on the Ford,” the voice on the phone says.

My stomach is tied tighter than my sneakers.

“Break it to me gently,” I think I said.

“It’s going to be $305.  Your rear master cylinder needs replacing.  Other than that, it’s a very clean car, you must take good care of it.  We test drove it, it rides really nice.”

“Three HUNDRED…..?” I say.

“Yeah, something something mutter mutter,” the mechanic says.  Between the nervous blood pumping in my ears and the Angels From On High singing over me, he could’ve said they have to sacrifice thirteen hamsters over the brake cylinder first and I wouldn’t have known the difference.

I stammer for a minute, incredulous.  Then I tell him I have to call him right back, I’m not THREE HUNDRED? sure which card we’ll have to THREE HUNDRED? use for this.  I call Stace, tell her, she’s almost as incredulous, and tells me which one to use.   I call the shop back, and tell him to go for it.  I read the Doom that Came to Sarnath, the White Ship, a few other Lovecraft tales.  People start to come into the park, looking for a miniature golf course.  At first, I  don’t remember where it is, but then it hits me that it’s a few blocks down.  I pick up some plastic trash around the benches and put it in the cans.  I start walking around.

There’s a train station a few blocks down.  I like trains, so maybe I’ll watch for a while.  The stairs lead up to the platform, where some benches are outside and some are in.  On the inside, there’s someone sleeping who looks like his luck has run out.  Right at the bottom of the stairs is a Wawa.  (For anyone not from this area, Wawa’s are like uppity 7-11’s.)  I go buy some fruit, a sandwich, and a drink, then leave it by the somnolent on the bench without waking him.

I walk around some more, and since we’re keeping the car, I go into Advance Auto Parts to see about replacing the antenna.  There’s nothing to mount the mast too, so the guy has no idea what I’m talking about.  I keep walking, and soon I’m back to the car with its new stickers.

A week and a half go by.  Stace starts getting pain in her back and whenever she eats.  She makes a doctor’s appointment, since she has insurance now, and Monday after I slept for a few hours after work, I take her over.  Right next door is the hospital, where the doctor says she has to go to the emergency room.

Well, frig.

We drive thirty feet over, I argue with people who claim they’re valets because I don’t want to give them our car, I just want to drop her off.   The guy in charge, in a gruff voice, says that I’ll have to park in the garage then.  Stace won’t get out of the car without me, so we go fifteen feet further into the garage, and then we start looking for the emergency room.  We find it after wandering around for what seemed an interminable time to me.  We wait in a large room with TV’s on whatever daytime talk shows were judged the most inane, and then she’s taken into a room.   My hackles are up, my shoulders seem very broad, and I’m very looming whenever someone comes into the room.  The ultrasound tech ran a scan, where all they saw were gall stones, but not her actual gall bladder.

It had to come out.  I went home to tell Brian, who was still asleep, and then I went back to the ER.  It’s now around 2:00 PM.  I call work to tell my ever-cheerful boss what’s happening.

“So you’re not coming in?”

“She’s going into surgery, so she’ll be overnight, and someone needs to stay with Brian.”

“You’re calling me at 2:00, it doesn’t give me much time to take your shift.”  I start at 10:00.  PM.  I literally looked at the phone for a minute and contemplated ripping several new orifices over the phone.  I also contemplate telling him that it’s a shame emergency surgery doesn’t take into account overnight schedules.  I get off the phone after being WAY more diplomatic than was deserved, and go tell Brian(who went back to sleep)  and got some things, including the backpack with the laptop in it.

They are a little concerned because Stace’s blood clots veeeeeeeeeeeery slowly.   Finally the doctor, an Asian guy with the last name of Vu, (“Don’t make deja joke, don’t make deja joke, don’t make deja joke….”) comes in, tell her and and my looming self that she’ll go in, and everything will take about an hour.  I go to the waiting area with tall ceilings and skylights that remind me of the Denver airport.  There are plasma screens on the wall, and every patient gets a number so the waiting can monitor their status.  Stace was 622326, I think.  She goes from Pre-Op to Surgery.

And stays there.  For an hour and a half.  I start to pace, then go back to the seat with the laptop.  There’s a father and son, discussing investments and business opportunities and blah blah blah.  90 minutes go by.  The woman at the desk calls me, says the doctor’s on the phone.  I’m slightly nervous, but he says she’s done, and it was, this is an exact quote, “very icky.”  About twenty minutes later, he actually comes out and tells me there were over 160+ gall stones and a VERY infected gall bladder, and they’ll be taking her up to her room soon.  Half an hour and several texts sent later, they show me back to recovery, where they wheel my already- conscious wife in.  We get wheeled up to her room, where thirty seconds after her low fat lower flavor lunch is delivered.  Even though she’s awake, she’s in no condition to eat.  I was, but they didn’t seem to have gotten my order.  One of my sisters kept texting to make sure Stace was in good shape, and the other, since she worked forty six inches from the hospital, came to visit.  They kinda kept me from freaking out,  Finally I went home and had a really garbage night’s sleep without her.  The Clone had taken everything in stride, although slightly nervous and he wanted nothing to do with going to the hospital.  After another night in there, she came home.

So, what’s been happening with all of you?

Odd Habit I Seem To Have Developed

•July 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Way back when I started Perception, it was a conscious decision not to give the main character a name. Partly it was to increase the you’re inside her head feel, partly because there was so much internal dialogue.  Now it seems that the last few short stories I’ve worked on the characters don’t have names.  Wonder if that means something, or am I just more interested in telling the story?

A Career Begins

•July 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday, my son, the kid who has loved animals since he was old enough to know what they are, worked for the first time at the Elmwood Park Zoo. It’s on a volunteer basis, and he’s currently only doing two days a week, but he still got to work with the animals.

He was working with birds on this fine day.

If I Were To Make A Trek Show….

•July 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

First off, I’ve considered it.  The cost and time involved make the consideration die aborning.  Still, were I to do it, here’s what it’d be.

It’d be ship-based, more exploratory, part of the whole boldly-go thing.  If there was one thing that I thought TOS had over the later shows, it was the new races and civilizations.  There’s more to the galaxy than Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians.

Sometimes the ship would run into things that no one had ever seen, and it wouldn’t be understood at the end of the story.  Think Doomsday Machine.

There would be at least one or two jerks in the crew, just to keep it interesting.  Story lines where everyone gets along aren’t as fun to write as people who really dislike each other.

The ship would be sort of middle-sized, but not particularly significant.  No saving the entire Federation every other week.  Who they run into is more interesting.

The captain would probably like the rules and regulations, but they keep running into things where the rules and regs don’t help much.  The rest of the crew would have to help him adapt.   The first officer would be a little more adventurous, but not always the wisest person to go to.  The navigator would be an Andorian who wanted to get away from Andor because he finds snow dull.

Remember, exhaustion starts with ICK!

•July 2, 2015 • 1 Comment

I haven’t gotten much sleep in the past few days. Thursday morning’s are USUALLY the last day of my week, but I had to be industrious and say I’d do overtime tonight. My eyelids in truth want to imitate garage doors at closing time, but they must stay open! Until 9:00 at least! Onward I press!

And Wally the Hamster came home yesterday. Why my son wanted to name his hamster after his grandfather is a mystery for a more conscious day.

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.


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.