Storytelling

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the boys and I had the opportunity to visit the San Diego Comic Con.  Having just returned with oodles and oodles of pictures of cosplayers, figures, and convention halls, I’m a little behind with my post about the con itself.  Luckily, while I organize myself and the details of the trip in my head, I wanted to post this little vignette from one of our afternoons at the con.  Rodney, Shannon, Kevin and I had just spent six hours in the convention center and eager for sustenance (as Thor would say), we left to grab a sandwich and a beer.  En route, Rodney relayed a brief story about a rather awkward party he had attended years ago.  Considering myself a seasoned dabbler in the storytelling trade myself, I could not stop myself from criticizing . . . a little:

“And that’s the end of the story?  You just left?”  I asked, juggling my backpack from one shoulder to the other.  “Lame.”

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Conned: Episode 0

SDCC boundThree accounts.  Three computers.  If I thought it would improve my chances to heft some of the house’s scattered PCs — outdated, abandoned, or consumed by spiderwebs — down to my room, I might have risked electric shock and wolf spider bites to heave the towers into my room.  But I had three accounts, thus only three computers.

The other members of my party were working across the street at Katie’s new house, knocking down trees and feeding the sap-soaked limbs into the chipper, giving Mother Nature the ol’ Fargo-special (as I call it).  Thus, the task of procuring tickets to the  Comicon fell to me.

Now, we’ve attended comic book conventions in the past here in Baltimore and DC.  These are typically low-key affairs, occupying a single floor at the Baltimore convention center, which — to quote the Hulk — is puny in comparison to its counterparts in DC and Boston.  Still it manages to stock the panels with some pretty awesome writers and artists: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Don Rosa, and Neil Adams to name a few that I’ve seen (Batman and Uncle Scrooge fanatic that I am).
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Jersey . . . Sure!

Charley yelled at me Monday night.  Apparently, my sibling readers have missed my posts lately (Work and school have proven a leech on my time and energy — even sleep has been forestalled until June).  I’ve been sitting on this post for the last month-and-a-half, not wanting to post until I’ve added a few pictures, a few humoroous vignettes, a few notable insights in the human condition . . . but as this pile of labs-to-be-graded accumulates like a malignant tumor on the desk before me (“Friendly neighborhood Spiderman-mug save me!”), I figure “Screw it!  Move on!  Post the blog!  Scribble an A on the labs!  Take the day off!  Move to Orlando!  Marry a Disney princess . . . preferably Belle or that Tangled-chick!  Use more exclamation points!!!”   Carpe diem guys!  Whoo ah!  

Like many pilgrims before me, New Jersey welcomed me with open arms and a cocktail of  …. grotesque aromas:  sewer vents, tire-mushed polecat, and bilge.  We had passed most of the evening on I-95, driving  to upstate New York from Baltimore via Jersey, much like Dante’s trip to Paradiso via Inferno.   Not being a native New Yorker, you might think this an unkind comparison, but few trips through New Jersey have taken me off the turnpike; thus, the landscape of tangled grey pipes, desiccated fields, and smoking chemical factories encompasses much of my sense memory.  Still, despite the momentary assault on my lungs, the party on Saturday proved well-worth the visit.

After years of pining, dating, failing, blubbering, and ultimately dismissing the whole female race as ‘shallow sluts,’ my friend and brother, Frank ‘The Chainsaw’ had finally discovered  — how had O Henry coined it? — “the one missing face from his heart’s gallery of intimate portraits.”  That was two or three years ago; this weekend Frank had invited his whole ‘adopted’ family to a country club to celebrate his wedding.
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Bourne again

Wolverine_originsIn my experience, nothing excites and unnerves a geek more than pitting his (or her) favorite imaginary character against a rival fictional character in a hypothetical showdown to the figurative death.  Nothing.  My good friend, Rodney, believes with every fiber of his being that Jason Bourne epitomizes ‘badass.’  Yeah, Matt Damon . . .  badass . . . My friend is somewhat goofy in the head.  Rodney has even gone to such lengths to name his iPhone after the chronic amnesiac, and dubbing himself ‘The Rod Identity,’ secret sidekick to the world’s most kickass secret agent  Again, the guy’s goofy in the head.

Still like all zealots, Rodney actively sought altercations with those who believed Mr. Bourne had proven himself . . . slightly less-than-awesome. As so often was the case, the argument exploded from a deep intellectual discussion on the quality of Hugh Jackman’s performance in The Wolverine while on vacation last July . . .

We had just exited the theater at Downtown Disney, a cornucopia of Disney merchandise, theme restaurants, and — my favorite — AMC theaters.  Both Ryan and Rodney, having tragically lost half-a-dozen tennis matches two weeks prior owed the gang lunch, ice cream, and a few hours at the local cineplex.  We had spent much of the day at Animal Kingdom, sweating in lines and jumping between sunshine and deluges of afternoon thunderstorms.  As the evening sky cleared, we felt grateful for the safety of soft red velvet and an air-conditioned movie theater.  I had suggested Marvel’s latest superhero tale — thus, harmonizing my love for Japanese culture with my passion for Canadian mutant assassins — at AMC’s Dine-in theater where we snacked on sushi, mozzarella sticks, and bread pudding . . . mmmm.

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Florida 2013: Cracker Barrel

I added a wordpress app to my Smartphone and decided to test drive this bad boy at St. Augustine’s Cracker Barrel (I’m a rebel like that), seeing that my Mom and sisters are visiting the local outlets and the intermitent Floridian deluges are stoppering any attempt to sightsee the city’s copious forts and gator farms. Soooo … I’m posting tons of photos over the next several weeks in part because Disney saps the life out of you but mostly because I’m rather lazy writer. Thus, if you’ve developed a healthy lassitude to the written word, enjoy! If not, well read War and Peace or better yet my other blog posts – some are even longer than a Russian novel so go crazy you kooky sesquipedalian.

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Every visit to Cracker Barrel deja vu haunts you. We ate at three of these places and the wild assortment of candy, talking toy tucans, and 'I love Granny' t-shirts look the same regardless of zip code.

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Planking Old School

“For the last time,” I sigh, “I have no idea what kind of wood they want.  If it’s not written on the sheet I gave you, the pieces can be made from cardboard for all I care.”

I tapped the ‘sheet’ — a square piece of cut cardboard, where Mom and her carpenter had scribbled the dimensions of various planks and decorative trim.  The sheet wobbled atop a stack of wood samples like the roof of shanty poked with a funnel cloud.  The guy behind the register was not particularly blind, but I felt that calling attention to the list helped to establish my incompetence.

“Well,” the old man said, returning my sigh as if vying for a Grand Slam, “well, do you want to call them?  See what they want to do?”

I pause for a few seconds and pretend to consider the suggestion, soaking in the fact that I’ve made authority figures out of nothing more than pronouns.  ‘They’  could be the Queen of England (using the royal plural) or the NSA, scouring the guy’s phone records.  Or perhaps our alien overlords.  That’s the power of obscurity.   Besides, specifying my employers as ‘Mom and Dad’ just sounded lame.

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Small Steps

To infinity and beyond!

The final frontier.  As a kid, I’ve never acquired the obsession with space travel that so fascinated the prototypical ‘geeks’ of my generation.  Before high school, my friends and I began to specialize: the road to anime, the way of the superhero, the path of fantasy, the . . .  starport to sci-fi.  Most of us would explore other genres as well, adopting one another’s obsessions in time.  I introduced Dasad to Tolkien; he led me to comic shops, where I began collecting Batman; our friend, Lloyd, reveled in mecha anime, magical girls, Dragonball and Pokemon.  We all loved video games so finding common ground proved easy.

Still amid all the late movie marathons and gaming sessions, their interest in space and future tech never really stuck.  The nature of space and its prerequisite vacuum always seemed overwhelming and claustrophobic at the same time, like the paradox of a man trapped within infinity — or Marty always running out of time in Back to the Future.

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to space. — Douglas Adams Continue reading