When I really stopped and thought about this for a while, it was easy to draw parallels between these people and victims of sexual abuse, or even abuse in general. The whirlwind of negative and self-destructive emotions that a person goes through with abuse mirror the same for abductees. Those abused often try to drive the experience from their mind, which causes a lot of other psychological issues. Or, because they CAN’T drive it from their minds, they lash out at the world. They also, almost always, go on to suffer from some form of depression.Continue reading
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my writing and I are heavily influenced by my younger years. There are a number of shows, some a bit more obscure, that I know have had an impact on both my life and my writing. I’m going to tell you about a few of them.Continue reading
Disclaimer: Some spoilers may lie herein.
My wife and I and a friend of ours went out last week to see the Lego Movie, as did much of the nerdier citizens across the nation. Like most of these people I was completely blown away by the sheer magnitude of the film. That sentence didn’t mean ANYTHING. What I mean to say is that it was really, really good and there was seldom a point in the movie where I was not either laughing hysterically, or crying uncontrollably.
The Lego Movie touched on so many points for me (and, apparently, so many others who saw it) that were powerfully emotional. From the deep loneliness of Emmet in his desire to find a friend, to the Father’s struggle with coming to terms with the fact that he was, in fact, the bad guy (realizing why Lord Business was always on stilts near this scene was also tear-inducing). The jump that the writers make from a completely fantastical and child like world of make believe, to a very real (literally) and relatable story about father and son is , in a word, awesomely cool (that was two words). All of these moments come together in one of the most heartwarming and touching stories I’ve seen from this kind of movie.
Which brings me to the production. The sheer depth of this movie is shattering. I mean the real world Lego City in the basement at the end was jarringly cool. The fact that there was not a single piece of the animated parts of this movie that was NOT a Lego piece, was just bitchin’. My friend Nathan commented on the sea of Lego studs, which made me cringe at the thought of having to wrangle all of those pieces. All of the different and unique Lego creations were really cool too. SPACESHIP!!!!!!
To be fair, this is coming from a guy who kind of sucked at making cool Lego things and was always impressed/jealous of other people’s creations, which seemed so much cooler than my own. The dinorobot that couldn’t walk, but had a swinging tail comes to mind. It looked neither like a robot or a dinosaur but, as I said, the tail swung about vertically. To be fair, I never had the GIANT TUB O’ LEGOS that just about everyone else I know seems to have had. I had just one of those bucket-of-chicken sized lego sets and it was only ever half-full. So there’s that.
Finally I have to talk about Liam Neeson. Now, those of you who know me well enough know that I love Liam Neeson: I kind of want him to be my dad. That being said, he was easily the best and funniest part of this entire movie for me. Bad Cop’s sinister Taken tones played in stark contrast to Good Cop’s lighthearted sweetness, which I have nothing to compare to, which was half of the cool. I was so excited I could just throw a chair!
In short, the Lego movie was utterly magnificent and demands to be watched. Liz and I agreed that we could have easily watched it again immediately after it was over (and that is a SUPER rare thing for me). So don’t sit there reading my blog. GO SEE THE LEGO MOVIE NOW!
What did you think of the Lego Movie?
What was your favorite part of the movie? Did you see anything else this week that you think was as good or better? Leave your answers in the comments below. Thanks much for reading and please remember to have a wonderful day!
P.S. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!!!!
There are a great many things that are very different for me since I moved from the hectic confines of Baltimore to the quieter, slower paced calm of St. Joseph and the Midwest. There are a great many things, too, that I took for granted when I lived in Baltimore… being able to get anywhere without a car, 24 hour stores not named Walmart, Sub Shops, the ocean (no matter how stinky it might be) oh and of course: Royal Farms fries. But today I’d like to talk a bit about something that my neighbors here in the Midwest take for granted and something for which I am constantly grateful to be able to experience on a regular basis.
The Night’s Sky.
When living in even a small city, the light pollution, while often beautiful especially during a storm, can make the night’s sky seem cold, dark and lightless. I discovered many years ago while in another part of the rural Midwest with my wife and a friend that the night’s sky is not cold, dark, and lightless at all. We were out there for a wedding and our friend Kyle was driving us back to his home where we were staying. It was the middle of summer, but later at night so it was quite dark. Liz asked him to pull over so that we could look at the sky. So that she could share it with me. It was the first time that I had ever seen that starry expanse and experience it in what my limited mind would call “All its Glory.” The stars just kept going and going, and through it all, in between all of the stars, there was this beautiful blue hue. This haze that seemed to me to be the star dust of distant solar systems mingling together and I could only see it in this beautiful way because I was so far away.
I pride myself on having been able to point out constellations in the night’s sky to my peers when I was in high school, or later when I worked as a laborer in this job or that. My fellow students and coworkers did not often look up at the night’s sky. I feel that many in Baltimore and in cities like it don’t often look up and this makes me kind of sad, so I used to take every opportunity I could to point up. More often than not they were unimpressed and often times mockingly so. I could not fathom why they didn’t have a greater sense of wonder at the concept of heavenly bodies. Not until I saw the true night’s sky. See, to a person in a city, even being able to see a constellation isn’t that big a deal ( I suppose) because it’s only a handful of stars in an otherwise pitch black sky. The lights of the city are all around you and in their own way, quite beautiful, so why bother looking up at some tiny pin prick of light that isn’t even that bright anyway? If my peers could see what I had seen those years ago on that stretch of rural country road in Iowa, they might think very differently.
I admit that I do not look up into the true night’s sky as often as I should, or even as often as I’d like. I get distracted with this or that human endeavor — video games, tv series, trying to write a book — and I miss the natural beauty that is above is at all times. Every once in a while I ask my wife to drive me out into the middle of nowhere, so that we both can spend an hour or so just looking up. I encourage any you to do this, too. Even if it is difficult, find a way to get out past the lights of the metropolitan world, a way to escape the constant pull of the day-to-day hum drum of being human, and look up. It will be good for your soul.
What does the night’s sky look like where you are?
Do you see the stars? Do you see the darkness? Do you see neither? Share your wisdom. Tell me your experiences and thoughts in the comment below. Thank you for reading and as always, have a wonderful day.
As The White Wolf and The Darkness gets more and more exposure, I am feeling what it is like to actually be an author. I didn’t think I was going to feel very different about anything until I had made it big and sold a ton of books, and then I thought I’d feel VERY different. I realize now that it’s actually more like the whole “growing up” or “adult” experience, the changes one feels are subtle and plentiful, and some of them are a huge shock.
I think the first time I noticed this was when we got the proof of my novel from the printer. I had a copy, the FIRST copy, of MY book in my hands. I felt as though I should be overwhelmed with emotion, but I wasn’t — and this is really odd, because anyone who knows me knows I’m big on feels. It was really cool to see my work in a printed written form, but I just wasn’t slammed by it the way I thought I’d be. It wasn’t until my friend Cooper came over and saw it sitting on the table. He reacted with his trademark, “OOH!” which is of the highest of praises coming from him. Someone who was not my wife was genuinely and fervently excited to read my book. It was at this moment that I felt that rush of emotion I was expecting.
Another very cool moment that signified to me that I was, and am, in fact, an author by trade, was the first time someone made fun of one of my characters. A friend of mine, who I’ll call friend A because I do not wish to embarrass them, and I were having a conversation with my wife Liz and another friend who I’ll call friend B for the same reason. The subject of the book came up and both friends claimed to be somewhere in the middle of it. I remained silent except to thank them for reading it. I did this for two reasons, first: I didn’t want to open my big mouth as I am want to do and spoil the story for them and second: While I am not at all humble about my work (cause it is pretty damned good), I try to be modest. Liz, being more encouraging to me and less modest to others asked which character they liked the best. My two friends rattled off the characters they liked and the qualities of those characters. Friend B mentioned a like of Asala, the magician, and began to express why. Friend A immediately made a catty snarky scowl and turned to my wife saying “I don’t like Asala.” Friend A then began to mock Asala, making fun of her struggles and her methods and just about everything about her. Both my wife and friend B urged friend A to stop, as they felt I would be hurt by his words, but I insisted that he continue. You see, it was great, because in that moment I wasn’t the author. He wasn’t sparing MY feelings because I was his friend and had written the book. He was talking GENUINELY about a book he was reading. My book. He was making fun of the PERSON that was Asala. Not the way she was written, not how I wrote her, but HER. Asala was REAL and friend A simply didn’t like her. Which was flipping great! Someone was making fun of MY character! I was a writer!
(Oh and friend A? If you’re reading this and you still don’t like Asala…that’s ok, cause she likes you just fine.)
Another great moment was short, sweet, and wonderful. It was also brought to me AND you, once again, by my lovely wife Liz. We were in Hastings looking for movies and Liz had disappeared for a bit. She finally found me again and guided me over to the Sci-Fi section of books in the store. There on a lower shelf were three of the copies we’d consigned to the store a week earlier. This was powerfully significant for two reasons. The first was that we’d given the store FIVE copies of The White Wolf and The Darkness, which means two had already sold…..in like a week……WINNING! The second was that my book, that I had written, was surrounded by the work of Sci-Fi giants. Immediately next to my book was a copy of The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and only a few short shelves away from was of my favorite authors R.A. Salvatore, whose work covered two shelves. Also not far away was a copy of A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin. My book was here amongst these real authors. I was an author.
On January 25th I will be doing a book signing at the Hastings in St. Joseph and you should all come. I think it’s going to be another one of those moments that change things for me and reinforce my confidence as an author. I just have no idea how it is going to do so and I am looking forward to the surprise. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I am DOING a book signing. I think I’m most excited about something that might seem small to others. When someone asks me what I do, I don’t have to explain what shit job I’m currently working at to make extra money, or express shame at not being currently employed. I will be able to firmly look that person in the eye and state boldly, “I’m a writer.”
Are you a writer?
Any other writers out there? Or any other folks with similar experiences in their chosen vocations or fields? I’d LOVE to hear those stories. Leave your responses in the comments below. Have a wonderful day!
As some might expect from my last post before the my brief and somewhat unexpected hiatus, I did a lot of Santa Clausing in my community and in my community of friends. No, no – I didn’t dress up as the jolly bearded gift giver, though I am known for occasionally donning the mantle. This year’s Yuletide cheer began mostly on December 12th. You see, my wedding anniversary is New Years Eve, but there tends to be some frustration around this, as other things get planned near this date and we miss out on seeing people. This year Liz and I decided to forgo our normal private New Years Eve plan and throw it out the window. We set the date for Commune Christmas (I’ll get to that later) for New Years Eve so that we could spend more time with the people we love and miss. I can hear you asking “What the hell does this have to do with Dec 12th?” and to that I say, “Don’t interrupt. It’s like…..super rude, man.”
With our anniversary on the back burner, I decided to surprise my wonderful and beautiful wife. When she went out to run errands on the 12th, I got dressed up nice and made her a silly little paper invitation to “Secret Dinners!” I put all of her favorite stuff in it with a poem, ’cause I’m awesome. Then I waited for her to call and started making a surprise dinner of Pancakes, Bacon and Egg in the Hole, her favorites. She laughed, she cried (a lot) we made kissy faces. This first bit of love in the season kickstarted my holiday motor and we were under way!
Almost the whole of the following week was spent in preparation for the coming holidays and surrounding events. On December 18th, the day before my birthday, Liz and I had a speaking event at a local library and, contrary to my doubt in my own abilities, it went off without a hitch. Everyone was entertained and, thanks to Liz, learned something. I even sold a couple of books, one to a librarian. Which, if I do say so myself, is kind of impressive considering I donated four copies to the library system, and he could have borrowed one of those.
I also signed a number of copies, which felt great. That is something I’m trying to get good at. I want to write something meaningful to a person who asks me to sign their book. You know? I’m also getting good at my flourish-y author’s signature, which is kind of fun too. That evening my D&D group got together to totally not play D&D and we surprised my one of our party with a new (real) longbow and arrows. I love seeing people enjoy surprises!
The next day, on my birthday, the spirit of the season was within me and I went out into the world to spread it. First, as a birthday wish, I asked my wife to show me how to make some simple chocolate chip cookies, so that I could make a huge plate for the staff in my building. Which reminds me: If you live in or work in a place that has a custodial engineer (or a janitor if you wanna be a dick about it), please be respectful and appreciative of that person and the function they perform. I was a custodian for about three years and if you’ve never done it, you can never know how thankless and demoralizing a job it can be. Please be nice to your cleaning persons, mostly because they clean your poo.
So anyway we gave out the cookies and then went to my wife’s knitting club where her best friend’s mom (our de facto bonus mom) and some of the coolest ladies in all of the fine state of Kansas, hang out, chat and knit, sew, crotchet and otherwise craft the crap out of some stuff in totally awesome ways. My presence was a bit of a surprise, as I have never joined them before. The chocolate candy bars I brought for them all were also a surprise. Awesome crafty women like chocolate – I think I read that somewhere. My de facto mom then surprised ME with the coolest Santa Claus quilt you’ve ever seen. (It now resides on my comfy chair and will come down with all the other decorations WHEN I’M GOOD AND READY!)
Afterwards we grabbed Liz’s best friend/sister (who got me some delicious mead as a gift – Nice one, Megan!) and grabbed some delicious hot beverages at the Dunkin Donuts before we went out to St. Joseph’s scenic Krug Park to check out all the wonderful light displays. The night ended with a scrumptious birthday dinner at Cheddar’s (I got the Monte Cristo) and heading home to check out the new DLC for Batman: Arkham Origins that I got with my season pass for the game, which was my awesome wife’s gift.
The following weekend was spent at the King’s- a family of friends who are friends of our family. Every year since we’ve moved to the midwest my wife and I go to their big open house Christmas party. This year we got caught in the massive snow storm that blanketed all we could see in white, but we made it there safe and sound and since we were coming back to open presents with them the next day (and since it was icy death outside), we stayed the night. The next morning was one of the nicest, most peaceful Christmas experiences of my life. There was coffee and sticky buns and we watched the end of Despicable Me and we borrowed a computer so Liz and I could talk to my sisters and niece and nephew and watch them open presents and everyone got along and nobody fought or acted mean to each other. It was glorious. Later on Megan and her parents (our bonus parents) came over and we all opened presents and watched Christmas movies and ate chili and potato soup. Oh, and by the by, yes, every single member of this family inspired the character you think they did.
On Monday the 23rd, the day before Christmas Eve, we swooped up to Omaha and absconded with my brother-in-law back to St. Joe, but not before taking him and HIS De Facto Mom out for dinner and getting some really expensive mead for like fo’ dollahs. (I like mead, it’s a theme.) Liz’s bro could not wait and insisted on giving us the presents he got for us on that night. Liz got Lego Marvel Super Heroes (FTW) and I got Poke’mon Soul Silver (yes I wanted it, piss off). On Christmas Eve, we had Lasagna for supper, a tradition in my wife’s family, and opened our stockings later that night, another tradition. The rest of that week was all gaming and awesomeness.
We ended the week with burgers at The Casbah in Lawrence, KS, which was totally worth the drive. On that Saturday we returned to Omaha and had many laughs at Liz’s family’s annual party: Rourke Family Christmas, or RourXmas for short. The hosts this year were Tim (another awesome writer) and Mary (an amazing hostess) and it was an absolute blast. Delicious food and intelligent (most of the time) conversation, and so much fun.
We returned from there to our own home and another visit with the Kings, this time the youths of the clan. There had been grand plans for a horror movie extravaganza, but we spent most of the time talking and battling colds. Oh yeah, BIG important thing about this holiday season and the biggest reason for the hiatus…. Liz and I realized we were getting sick on our way to Omaha and there was absolutely nothing to do about it. Luckily, the Kings were also sick, so we kind of had an amazing time, because no one really cared. Then Liz and I started cleaning up the house for our new years eve party and what is known as Commune Christmas.
My wife went to college, I did not. While she was at college she met and befriended many strange and awesome people. As the ever-looming threat of apocalyptic desolation is ingrained into our culture, it was recognized that these strange and awesome people had unique talents and skills that would be useful in such an event. Soon this realization began the institution of a plan — a plan for a post-apocalyptic community, or commune. Hence the name for their annual holiday get-together: Commune Christmas. White elephant as-seen-on-tv gifts were exchanged, tea was brewed and shit was strange…..and awesome. We finished the event off the next day with a laid-back lunch at the El Maguey Mexican restaurant…..at least my lunch was mild.
The rest of THAT week was spent with another friend from Colorado who enjoyed more tea and and many games of Sentinels of the Multiverse (BEST CARD GAME EVAR! Thanks again, Sis!) and Pandante (and also made for us a strange and delicious meal of Bok Choy. I think it’s French. (I know, it’s not!)). After a few evenings of movies, games, and camaraderie, we drove our friend to the airport on Monday and officially ended our holiday season.
As you may have deduced from the length of this report, the midwestern branch of the Gubernatis family has been flipping busy!
And now, looking forward…
I want to tell everyone who I mentioned above that I love you with all of my heart, and that I am so glad to have you in my life. I want to say to all of those not mentioned above that I love you with all of my heart and I miss you deeply. Here’s to 2014, everyone, and a brighter future.
Since today is my birthday, I’ve decided to write about anything that strikes my fancy. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities between these two iconic and powerful characters. Now I know what you’re thinking, but there are a LOT more similarities than one might think.
Lets start with the basics: Both St. Nicholas and Bruce Wayne are wealthy philanthropists who use their power and influence to encourage others to obey the accepted rules of a societal system. Both believe themselves to be of the highest moral authority, especially Batman (I tend to agree on this point). Both are nocturnal, except in very rare instances. Both use fear, intimidation and coercion to force others to be better people. Their methods might be a BIT different, but the core of the M.O. is there: “Be good, or else.”
I think a big misconception about Santa is that he uses bribery. This is not true, for the simple fact that, for Santa, “Good little children” is the status quo. He expects and assumes that most if not all children WILL be good; that they ARE good. He believes in the goodness in all children, in all people. Even if you were kind of bad one year, you were likely gonna get SOMETHING from him under the tree. It is only when a child is REALLY or CONSISTENTLY bad, breaking with the norm, that they get nothing or coal. Presents from Santa are NOT bribery and are more about his own desire to GIVE gifts and see little children smile. Nothing, or a lump of coal is Santa’s equivalent to Batman creeping up on you in a dark alley and beating the shit out of you, because you broke the law.
Which brings me to another big similarity: Santa and Batman are both nocturnal and achieve their goals with only a few lucky individuals having even seen them. Most people only see the results of their night time good deeds, whether it’s children coming down the stairs to find a special gift just for them under the tree, or the poor tired Commissioner Gordon finding yet another Gotham perp hanging from a lamp post, or tied to their accomplices.
They see you when you’re sleeping, they know when you’re awake. They know if you’ve been bad or good, so be good or you’ll get a concussion. Both Batman and Santa Claus, through the use of some craft they possess, seem to always know who’s been naughty and nice. In the case of Batman, it’s an immensely vast security network and a plethora of informants. In the case of Santa Claus it is a veritable army of invisible elves that report to him on the behavior of EVERY child on the planet. Not to mention Hugin and Munin. Another interesting similarity? Neither of them give a damn about your privacy.
Batman maintains a hideout where he spends all day training in martial arts, making advanced crime fighting gadgets, investigating crimes and brooding. Santa Claus has a fortress at the north pole where he spends all year eating cookies and cakes, making toys, reviewing his list and being jolly. Ok those aren’t exactly similar things, but they both have super secret bases where they keep their straight up bitchin’ rides. The Batmobile is like the ONLY car I’ve ever wanted to drive. Though I think the sleigh trumps it, being emissions-free and all.
Both are utterly recognizable by both children and adults almost everywhere. Interestingly enough, Batman may be MORE recognizable world-wide than the Right Jolly Old Elf. Either way, when you see either of them, you know it and you feel immediately better than you did before. At least I do anyway. I mean, how could seeing either of them be a BAD thing? I mean, unless you’ve been naughty…..have you? Cause if you have and you see Batman…just…just lie down and give up or something. Don’t try and run. ESPECIALLY if you see them both, cause while it isn’t Santa’s like, regular gig, even money is on him helping the Dark Knight take your ass down. You’ve got no chance at all.
Also there is selflessness. It takes a lot of energy to be Santa Claus, even more to be Batman. Both figures offer up their whole beings to be what they are. Granted both of them enjoy what they do, but probably not all the time. When Batman bites down on a belt while Alfred relocates his shoulder after a fight with Killer Croc, I bet he has second thoughts. Just like when Santa gets stuck in another heating vent, because NOBODY USES REGULAR DAMN CHIMNEYS ANYMORE and has to call Blitzen to yank his ass out of there, he might be thinking about retirement. But they keep doing it. They keep on keeping on, because……well because we need them to. Because we need to believe that goodness is rewarded and badness or evil is punished; that there are guardians who watch over us and protect us.
Which brings me to the most important similarity. Batman and Santa Claus are both REAL. We all know Santa is real, that goes without saying, but……I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and believing it for almost as long. Batman has become real. As real as Santa is. The spirit of Batman, of the Dark Knight lives within us. Whenever you see a crime being committed and you intervene, or even call the police instead of moving on and not getting involved….you’re Batman. Whenever your kids stand up to bullies in school, not because they are picking on THEM, but because they are picking on someone else….they’re Batman. Whenever you do the right thing, in spite of it being difficult or not particularly good for you at the time…..you’re Batman.
But you have to WANT it, too. It’s like wearing a Santa suit. You can put it on and not FEEL the spirit of Santa within you and you’re just some guy in a Santa suit. But if you feel that spirit, let it into you and want it to be a part of you, you BECOME Santa. The same is true for donning the cowl of the Dark Knight. If you put it on and let the spirit of Batman into you….you become Batman. Even if you are just making some sick kids feel better for an afternoon. You ARE Batman. Anyone who’s ever worn these suits knows it’s true.
The final similarity I offer is more just something they have in common. They are both great role models. As far as looking for someone to look up to, or someone for your kids to look up to and want to emulate, you can do a hell of a lot worse than Batman and Santa Claus. I didn’t have very good role models as a child. Nor did I have any particularly strong male figures in my life. It was not until I grew older and reflected on my young life that I realized I had chosen these two figures. You can ask anyone I went to school with, or frankly who knows me: if someone is doing something wrong or illegal, I will not turn a blind eye. This has gotten me into trouble before and on several occasions gotten me injured. You could ask the same people about the lengths to which I will go to try and help someone have a happy holiday, especially if their holiday isn’t going so great. This has also gotten me into trouble before and on MANY occasions made me broke. But those are the role models I chose. There are no two men I can think of that I want to be more like and that is an encouraging thought.
Who are your role models?
Any thoughts on that mass of crazy that you just read? I want to hear about it! Leave your thoughts in the comments. Thank you so much for reading my insanity and as always, have a wonderful day and if I don’t see you, have a Happy Yule too!