Things I just noticed…

  • Cereals with marshmallows in them are part of a balanced breakfast.  Of course, it’s the unhealthy, sugary part.  Consequently, that’s the best part.  Therefore that’s the saddest part.
  • My smartphone is smarter than I am.  It always knows where it is.  It knows how to multitask.  When it doesn’t have enough energy, it flatly refuses to even wake up.  Fucking smart.
  • Two peas in a pod.  Two peanuts in a shell.  PEAnuts. Did it really take me so long to figure that one out?
  • Dance like no one is watching.  Sing like no one is listening.  Love like you’ve never been hurt, even though you have, and loving like you haven’t is what caused you to get hurt last time, but HEY… you go ahead and try it again because it’s totally gonna work this time for sure.  I mean what’s the worst that could happen?  A broken heart?  Again?  Meh.
  • What’s worse than the cold realization that you need to switch from XXL to 3XL?  Some days, nothing.
  • It’s hard for me to talk about the Panama Canal with a straight face.  Canal is too close to anal, so it becomes “Panama, see Anal.”
  • If anyone remembers the days when the sky was yellow, and clouds were city-sized cockroaches intent on eating the purple sun, they should lay off the acid a bit.s
  • The day I heard the sound of the color orange was the day sanity and I broke up.

Technology, Social Networking, and the Old Man

Trying to link up all my various social networking tools is making me feel my age.  I have become the guy who wishes for the simpler days when a BBS was considered cutting-edge.  It’s hard to keep up sometimes, but every so often I achieve a small victory that makes me feel as though there is still hope for me.


If this works, the post I am writing will hop across my various online identities, to be seen by as many people as I can manage.  If it fails, I am going to eat a cookie and go to sleep.  Honestly though, I’ll do that if it works too.

Confusing things I saw at the toy store.

I had some time to kill while my car was being worked on, so I walked down the road a piece to wander the local “video game bicycle clothing board game action figure Barbie Lego electronics movie diaper” store [hereafter referred to as “toy store”] and see what is being offered to the young’uns these days.  Because I don’t want to point fingers, we will call this toy store “Things U Buy.”  There, now nobody has any clue which chain of stores we are talking about.

I wanna grow up.  I'm a Things U Buy adult.
I wanna grow up. I’m a Things U Buy adult.

As I wandered through the aisles I found myself marveling at how nonsensical some of the items seemed to be.  Within two minutes I began snapping pictures of the items that stuck out to me the most.  Some struck me as poorly thought out.  Some struck me as shamelessly greedy (like, more shamelesslyer than normal for toy companies.)  Some just struck me as unnecessary, or even inappropriate.  Now, I wish to share them with you.  It all started in the board game section, where you can find games adapted from the most unexpected of sources.

Let's hope it comes with Scratch 'N Sniff cards!
Let’s hope it comes with Scratch ‘N Sniff cards!

Or perhaps some nearly-understandable adaptations that almost certainly fail to live up to their original incarnations.  Like the merger of a popular game, a popular sci-fi franchise, and a…..maybe kinda popular party game?

Smartphone game + TV/Film property + tabletop game?  OK, Words With Friends + Wheel of Fortune + Scrabble.  Nailed it!
Smartphone game + TV/Film property + tabletop game? OK, Words With Friends + Wheel of Fortune + Scrabble. Nailed it!

But that pales in comparison to this “real life” version of a game based on brutal violence against fresh produce.  I assure you, this is a real thing.

The kid wanted to show me his ninja skills, so I threw a watermelon at him.  His Mom disapproved of my tactics.
The kid wanted to show me his ninja skills, so I threw a watermelon at him. His Mom disapproved of my tactics.

As I moved on to the section geared to young boys, I was faced with dozens of weapons designed to hurl soft projectiles at other young boys who all wish they could look as cool and intimidating as the boys on the packaging.  Near these items we find the modern equivalent of what was known as SpyTech when I was a kid.  Plastic items intended to make children feel like James Bond, without the copious amounts of poon that being James Bond entails.  In addition to “spy” gear, we also get junior versions of special forces equipment.  Stealth combat daggers, utility belts, and this;

Hey kid, don't forget to write "Low Profile" on the back of your shirt is neon green paint.
Hey kid, don’t forget to write “Low Profile” on the back of your shirt is neon green paint.

Pro Tip:  When you write COVERT on your covert mission gear, you are no longer covert.

Pro Tip 2:  When you replace your black armored suit with shiny, shiny gold armor, you are also no longer covert.

After creating that suit, Bruce Wayne was forced to file for bankruptcy.
After creating that suit, Bruce Wayne was forced to file for bankruptcy.

Now, without fail, anytime I browse current toy selections, I am reminded that I am getting older.  Sometimes this feeling comes from seeing how modern and sleek so many of the toys look nowadays.  But other times, it is due to seeing how many toys from my childhood are returning to shelves, riding on the nostalgia wave.  They are even joining forces with other toys, old and new, to make crazy toy bastards.  Here I found a combination that simultaneously screamed to me “why didn’t I think of this sooner?” and “WTF?”

Why not add Failed Reality TV Stars to the mix?  I want Teela vs Tila Tequila!
Why not add Failed Reality TV Stars to the mix? I want Teela vs Tila Tequila!

Many of you may have already taken note of the strange softening of certain entertainment characters, in order to make even the most intense and dark pop culture fixtures safe enough for children.  This is arguably most evident in the form of an adorable incarnation of the murder-blood-berserker-rage-slaughter-kill machine known as Wolverine.

Where is the Super Hero Squad version of Wolverine as Weapon X?  Y'know, where a computer covering his swimsuit-area is all he wears?
Where is the Super Hero Squad version of Wolverine as Weapon X? Y’know, where a computer covering his swimsuit-area is all he wears?

You might say that this particular toy line makes sense, as it makes young adult characters accesible to smaller children.  Perhaps your logic is sound.  But no logic will make the following item acceptable.  Why?  Because SUPERMAN CAN FLY FASTER THAN A MOTORCYCLE CAN DRIVE!

With a custom paint job?  You realize that General Zod is slaughtering thousands of humans, right?  We don't have time for these aesthetics!
With a custom paint job? You realize that General Zod is slaughtering thousands of humans, right? We don’t have time for these aesthetics!

And if that wasn’t enough preposterousness from the Man of Steel marketing machine, just take a look at the toy that clearly was inspired by the deleted scene showing us Superman with huge mutated hands borrowing a rejected Iron Man suit to swing a ridiculous axe at Made-Up Robot Monster.

Superman: "Hey, weren't you in that Judge Dredd movie from 1994?" Robot: ""
Superman: “Hey, weren’t you in that Judge Dredd movie from 1994?”
Robot: “…sigh…”

Okay, sarcasm aside…….these guys are pretty damn adorable.

The Force is...sickeningly cute.
The Force is…sickeningly cute.

This guy, however is not.  Honestly, would you want this staring at you while you sleep?

"Touch you naughty, I will."
“Touch you naughty, I will.”

This next item is a different flavor of inappropriate.  Robot killing machines on an utterly relentless mission to terminate [kill] every human on earth is now, apparently, wholesome fun for all the kiddies.

Landscape of tiny, tiny skulls not included.
Landscape of tiny, tiny skulls not included.

And last, but certainly not least, we have a “toy” that is clearly inspired by what may be the most questionable source for children’s merchandise.  The rapper who gave us the lyrics:

Baby let me rope you up
Tie you down
Do it right
No matter how hard you buck
Gonna get wild all night

If anyone is confused, he’s totally talking about fucking.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

Well done Toys R.... Of course, I mean Things U Buy.
Well done Toys R….
Of course, I mean Things U Buy.

New is not always new. Different is sometimes the same.

As the first day of the new year, 2013, nears its end, I keep looking for things that are different than they were in 2012.  Some are obvious, like the fact that I have a new job which I am enjoying.  Others are not as obvious, like the fact that I am feeling physically better than usual and seem to be slowly, but surely, losing some of the weight I have been meaning to shed for four years.

But not everything is different.  The largest cause of stress in my life last year was how dissatisfied I was with my job, and now that I am no longer contending with that, it has opened the way for another concern to take center stage, and it is nothing new to me.  I am, and have been for some time, very lonely.  I have a best friend, who means the world to me, and she always has my back.  I have other friends, who enrich my life constantly.  One of them recently said to me “I think you have more friends than even you realize.”  He may well be correct, and I value my friends.  But that is not the kind of lonely that we’re talking about.

I want to be in love, but I can’t seem to find it.  Some might say “you find love when you aren’t looking for it,” or “you’ll fall in love when you least expect it.”

Seriously, does that ever not come off sounding like the hollowest bullshit ever spoken?

Love does not just fall on your doorstep for you to stumble over as you leave the house one day.  It takes work, and awareness, and desire.  It is much easier to avoid love when you don’t want it than to find it when you are wishing for it.  But no matter how lonely I get, no matter how cold I feel at night with no one beside me, no matter how much I miss feeling a hand in mine…love isn’t just appearing out of nowhere.  I have to look for it.

I’m not sobbing in my sad-bastard loserness.  I’m not declaring my life over because I’m not sharing it with someone.  I’m just saying…I’m a lonely guy.  That is why I made a wish last night, when the ball dropped and the midnight fireworks began illuminating the sky.  As I looked out at the exploding colors, standing amidst a roomful of happy, cheering, boisterous friends and strangers, no trace of a smile came to my face.  Because even though I was surrounded by people, I felt more alone than I had felt in a long time.  All I heard was too-loud shouting.  All I felt was crowded.  All I saw was the fireworks display, and the faces of people happier than me reflected in the window glass.  So I wished that next time, when 2014 is being opened for business, I could leave behind the loud parties and celebration, and celebrate a quiet New Year’s Eve, alone with someone I love, who loves me in return.

To me, that would be everything…yet it does not seem like too much to ask.

Streak of Gray

And then I looked in the mirror, and saw a streak of gray in my hair.

I haven’t run a marathon.  I haven’t owned a house.  I haven’t lived anywhere more than three years since I was 18 years old.  Now I’m 33, and I have a streak of gray in my hair.

I haven’t travelled abroad.  I haven’t been in a fist fight.  I haven’t gotten blackout drunk and woken up in a strange place.  I haven’t hitchhiked.  I haven’t gone dancing.  I haven’t hosted a Thanksgiving dinner.  I haven’t taken a cruise, but now I have a streak of gray in my hair.

I haven’t written a book.  I haven’t started a business.  I haven’t made investments.  I haven’t sought my fortune.  I haven’t been called by Destiny.  I haven’t learned from my mistakes.  I haven’t found what I am looking for.  I haven’t seized the moment.  I haven’t let go of the past.  I haven’t blazed a trail.  I haven’t heard opportunity knocking.  I haven’t picked up the pieces.  I haven’t found the silver lining.

But I have looked in the mirror, and under all the years and chances, the delays and obstacles, the stumbling and slacking, the roads not taken, and dreams not pursued…there is a streak of gray in my hair.

Pencils down…

On August 12, 2012, the comic book industry lost another Golden Age luminary.

Joe Kubert, co-creator of Sgt. Rock, founder of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, now known as TheKubert School, and father of acclaimed comic book artists Adam and Andy Kubert, passed away at age 85. I urge everyone to take the opportunity to find some of his early work, and give it a look.  There is a reason he remained a name in the industry for so long.


You don’t recognize me.  I can tell.  You see something that rings a bell, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t place it.  Only when you look beneath the surface, under the skin, will you start to put it together.  Let’s pull back the curtain together and take a look.  You just sit right there, and I’ll walk you through the process step by step.

Are the chains too tight?  Yes?  Good.

We can start with the smile.  Right now, seeing you trapped as you are, my smile is real.  But behind it, you can see a few others.  The nervous smile, the fake smile, the smile eager for acceptance, all the smiles that one wears to cover up the trembling lip that comes before the tears.  You and your kind forced me to wear it every day.  For over a decade I carried those fake smiles with me everywhere I went.  Not to protect me from the names you called me, or the taunting comments.  There is no protection from that.  But they hid my true reactions, and that saved me from the additional mocking that would have ensued.  And it denied you the pleasure of seeing me break.

Keep struggling if you want.  You’ll only hurt yourself, and I am fine with that.

Let’s look at the eyes next.  I know it’s hard to see them now, being cold and dark like they are.  But behind them, you can see there used to be ambition, and hope, and light.  Can you tell what kind of light?  Would you even know?  Of course you wouldn’t.  That light comes from kindness and compassion.  Your kind aren’t really known for that.  You’re better known for making people like me think that the person in the mirror is less than worthless.  That we’re too fat, or too skinny, or weak, or ugly, or awkward for you to waste your time on, regardless of the fact that you spent quite a lot of time focusing on us in order to do it.  You gambled on us being so distraught by your torture that we would believe there was something wrong with us, and not notice that you were doing it for no other reason than for the perverted fun of it.  And you were right.  We did.  For a while.

You’re sweating.  Are you figuring it out?  Are you realizing who I am?  I assume you are, considering how pale you just became.

Still, I saved the best for last.  Behind everything else, behind the smiles and the eyes and the years and the growing, look at the soul.

I said LOOK, you coward!

Look at the scar tissue.  Look at the missing pieces.  Look at the wreckage left behind from your “harmless fun.”  Sure, it’s still alive.  It still works.  But not the way it could.  Like the way a car never quite runs properly after surviving an accident. It’s crippled now.  You saw to that.  Every time you pushed us aside to get through the door first.  Every time you called our talents “gay” because you didn’t like them or share them.  Every time you insulted the best clothes we could afford because they weren’t as cool or expensive as yours, you stabbed us.  You stabbed into our souls.  We were singers and band members, actors and artists, readers and poets, gamers and fanboys, but it would never and could never be enough to buy us out of that Hell, because we were also the kind ones, which is why we could never be like you.  Cruel, selfish, and unkind.  At least, not back then.  See, these days we are all adults now, and since we learned back then what it was like to live with pain, fear, and derision every day we have a better appreciation for decency.  We also learned a few things about how to make people feel like they’d rather die than wake up in the morning and do it over again, and again, and again, and oh dear God please just let it stop for one moment, just one quiet moment of peace and happiness!

You’ve figured it out, haven’t you?  I know who you are.  You are the High and Mighty; the Jocks, the Style-makers, the Rich, and the Popular.  But what about me?  I am the rest of us.  I am the Outcasts; the Drama Club kids, the Choir Geeks, the Band Geeks, the Comic Book Nerds, the Goths, the Emo Kids, the Poor, and the Lonely.

You act like you never ruined our childhoods.  We have never forgotten.  You think you’ve done nothing wrong.  We do not forgive you.  You trapped us in Hell during our most vulnerable years, and We are finally free of you.  Between us?  A bonfire, burning with every painful word, every heartache, every dismissive look You tortured us with.

You are bound by chains and locks, and We have the key.

Come on and take it from us.


I was barely a young man when I met my first real love.  She was a wounded romantic, and I was young and on fire.  We walked through an empty playground and I told her I loved her, because I did.  I reached inside and withdrew my fiery heart, the brightest and most trusting of all my hearts.  I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it.  In time, her scars spoke lies to her, and she believed them.  She poured water upon my fiery heart, and the charred remains dried up and blew away.

My burns were still swathed in bandages when I met my second real love.  She was confident beyond the clouds, and I was stone-like with wariness.  We kissed beneath winter icicles and I told her I loved her, because I did.  I reached inside and withdrew my stone heart, the stoutest and most cautious of all my hearts.  I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it.  In time, she deemed married life a vexation, and divorce a rite of passage to true Womanhood.  She squeezed blood from my stone heart, and the dust left behind scattered and blew away.

The cracks had just healed when I met my third real love.  She was purposely distant, and I was redesigning myself.  We stood under a shower of autumn leaves and I told her I loved her, because I did.  I reached inside and withdrew my paper heart, the intricately folded and most expressive of all my hearts.  I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it.  In time, she found the expressiveness tiresome, called it abrasive.  She tossed my paper heart upon the fire, and the embers floated up and blew away.

My eyes were newly dry when I met my fourth real love.  She was manically pixie-like, and I was hopeful yet fragile.  We each crossed the skies to be briefly near each other, and I told her I loved her, because I did.  I reached inside and withdrew my glass heart, the wide-eyed and most delicate of all my hearts.  I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it.  In time, she came to fear the hopeful closeness, and pushed my glass heart away.  It shattered to sand upon the floor, and the sand caught the wind of my sighs and blew away.

I cannot know what, or who, I will be when I meet my true, real love.  She will be everything I have sought, and I will be frightened, yet willing.  We will fill the spaces of each others’ souls, and I will tell her I love her, because I will.  I will reach inside…and find that all my hearts are gone, save the one true heart that makes me myself.  She will reach inside and withdraw half of her heart, and say “I will share my one true heart with you, because I know you will always care for it.”  I will reach inside and withdraw half of my heart.  I will give it to her because I know she will always care for it.  In time, my heart will be one with hers, and hers with mine.  That is when I will know that I have found…

…my true, real love.

Something Missing

He sees all his friends, old acquaintances, even his family, navigating life like masterful downhill skiers.  Slicing between flags at blinding speeds, looking as calm as they would were they walking the grocery aisle.  But then he looks to himself and sees a one-armed man trying to juggle for the first time.  With axes.  Blindfolded.  And upside-down.  Nothing comes easily except gaining weight and procrastinating.  He doesn’t know why he can’t right himself on this river of existence.  But at the same time, he does.  Admitting to himself that he is lazy and unmotivated is not the hard part.  It is sadly easy.  What is difficult for him is fighting that truth.  It is easier to stagnate and be mad at the universe than it is to stand up and cut your way through the jungle between yourself and your ideal. But there is always something missing.

If he had a better job he would be happy enough to make changes.

If his job had a better schedule he could be more creatively productive.

If he had a girlfriend he would be confident enough to take the steps needed to grow.

If he had more money he could work less and use that time to work out.

If he had higher self-esteem he could maintain a relationship.

If he wasn’t this, he could be that.

If he was here, he could go there.

If one, then the other.

If up, then down.

If future, then present.


If he had motivation, he could write.  So he stood up, took a step, and he wrote this.