Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

From Grappling on the Mats to Diamond Thief to Treading the Boards

The pace of life never really slows down. Especially if you have kids. The older Xander gets, the busier he he seems to get. Wrestling. Baseball. Theater. Some days I feel like I need an assistant to keep HIS schedule straight.

Yup, that's me going for my second District title waaaaay back in '91.
Xander ended his first season of wrestling last month. He alternated between 70lbs. and 75lbs. weight classes, and did okay for a rookie. When he stepped on the the mat he alternated from looking impressive to looking lost. He ended the season with an 11-20 record. As a hard core wrestler myself I was proud to see him out there. I don't think there is anything to compare with it in terms of pressure, physicality and toughness. No matter what you do, if you walk into a wrestling room at the beginning of the season and walk out at the end, regardless of your record, you are better. Not just better athletically, but emotionally. Taking an ass kicking daily, will toughen you up inside and out. It's a sport where you are constantly pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do. I think the only thing that could be harder would be military training. I'm the first to admit I'm tough on Xander when he messes up, and I hold very high expectations of him. Conversely, I cheer the loudest when he does well and am first to step up for him when he is getting the shaft. Too many kids today are coddled, but conversely too many kids have zero support systems. As typical Americans we seem to swing from one extreme to the other. But I digress...

Xander going for 3rd at the Bristol Brawl Jan. 4th.
Xander. Wrestling. He started the duel meet part of the season with a rough 1-6 record but then went into tournament part season earning one 4th place, four 3rd place wins, two 2nd place finishes, and took the Gold in two tournaments. Considering some kids are starting in kindergarten these days. I was impressed with how hard he wanted to work and how well he ended up. One of the dads at the first practice was, ironically, the Varsity team captain of my high school team the first year I wrestled back in middle school. He gave me good advice: "Relax when they lose. Any kid who wins more than he loses his first year, is wrestling the wrong kids." He was right,  but sometimes it was just hard to watch.

After wrestling, Xander went straight into Baseball, returning to last year's team. I helped out as an assistant coach last year but was asked to take over as the manager this year because the previous manager had one of those work schedules that just made it too difficult for him to be there. I jumped at it because I had gotten so frustrated with seeing kids who struggled get left behind to play only in the outfield and/or sit the bench. Everybody plays and everybody sits out on our team. Every kid rotates into the infield. Sure the more advanced kids will play regularly at the more difficult positions. Everyone will play or learn at least 3-5 positions by the end of the season. Sure, it will make us less competitive but in the long run, the kids will learn more and have more fun. But again, I digress...

Xander just before his CF RBI double in the April 11th season opener.
Xander. Baseball. He is off to a fantastic start. Four games in and he has 1 double, 3 singles and 3 walks with his only non-hit being a ground out to first in game 3. He is already 16 for 17 in stolen bases. He played the season opener behind the plate where he got one third of our outs nailing runners attempting to steal. Game 2 he got his very first start as pitcher. I was stunned at how well he did. I have always said he is a far superior catcher than a pitcher. He has accuracy but not power. It can very easily become batting practice for the other team when he's on the mound. He pitched 3 2/3 innings before hitting the pitch limit of 75 pitches. He got a no-decision because it was 5-5 when he came off the mound. In that time he only walked 3 batters, struck out 7 batters and only gave up 5 hits. It was an amazing start. In Game 3 he played first base where it seemed the opposition were all hitting the ball (lefties and late swings) right at him allowing him to get 4 outs on his own including a double play where he caught a pop-up and nailed a runner before they could get back to 2B. Game 4 he started at Short Stop but ended up pitching 2 and 2/3 of relief. Unfortunately it was not as strong as his first outing to say the least. He gave up 12 hits, walked 7 and struck out 2, which is closer to what I expected. Sadly, we are pretty weak in the pitching department so my little catcher may be one of our main pitchers much to the delight of several other team managers I am sure.

Sadly he is going to miss Game 5. Practice starts on Theatre Bristol's production of Les Miserables. which bring us to...

The first cast meeting of Les Miserables. (Xander is in black on the left).
Xander. Theatre. Ever since he first saw Les Miserables, he has wanted to play the role of Gavroche. What kid wouldn't, he gets a solo and (spoiler alert!) a death scene. When we heard Theatre Bristol was going to have a performance right in our own backyard, we knew we could not stand in his way. Considering his voice is starting to deepen, we knew it would in fact be his first chance to play the character would be his last chance. Even now we are starting to worry since he is occasionally sounding like Peter on that episode of Brady Bunch when he tries to hit the high notes. He will be sharing the role with another child (common practice to double cast kids roles). He's excited. right now it appears he will have the opening night performance. We have OUR tickets.

So it was a busy winter that turned into a busy spring and will undoubtedly morph into a busy summer, I'm not even touching on all his school related activities like safety patrol, troupe performances, and the school news/weather broadcasts. At least in the summer he won't have to worry about keeping that straight "A" average he manages. That's the really impressive part. But he is an impressive kid.

He just needs a personal assistant to keep up with it all.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

RIP Leonard Nimoy: The Humanity Behind Our Favorite Alien

Leonard plays a death scene over three decades before his actual passing.
It's been almost two months since the passing of Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy and I've been contemplative. I have thought a lot about what is so appealing about the actor beyond the character that made him famous: Mr. Spock. I'll confess much like the character of Mr. Spock himself, I'm conflicted. My emotional side and my logical side are having a tug of war. My emotional side is very bummed that Leonard is gone. I was only in the same room with him a single time (along with a throng of giddy Trekkers) so do I have the right to be so familiar as to call him Leonard? You betcha, I invited that man into my home hundreds of times every time I fired up my TV, VCR or DVD player, so I'm going with Leonard. Anyhow, watching the multitudes morn seems kind of silly. Illogical if you will. Leonard lived a long life, passing less than a month before his 84th birthday. He was healthy enough to work and make personal appearances through 2014. He had a successful career both in front and behind the camera, and created a character that is so iconic that he will be remembered generations from now even when other aspects of 20th century pop culture have long been forgotten. He was wealthy, loved, respected and by all accounts happy in his later years. Life was pretty good to Leonard.


I miss him. The idea that he will not be in the next Star Trek film due out for the 50th anniversary in 2016... makes me... illogically sad. The idea that he will never make the movie about conjoined twins Chang and Ing Bunker makes me sad. The idea that he won't again challenge traditional views as he did with his photography makes me sad.

The man behind the ears: Actor, director, photographer & poet.
 There is probably a little placing of the actor on a pedestal because of the devotion and love his character inspired. Leonard was not perfect. There were reports that he fought with producers of Star Trek, even being so narcissistic as to think that Mr. Spock was the central character. Spock was clearly the break out character because he was so identified with by fans. His character along with Dr. McCoy served as emotional and intellectual counterbalances. Ying and Yang. Logic and emotion. The two characters illustrated the conflict within the main character (Kirk). He was important, instrumental and necessary, but not the main character. He initially shunned his fans, because of typecasting going so far as to write a book condescendingly called I'm Not Spock. He clearly resented the character and felt it hurt his career, and only returned for a big payday (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) and again later for the opportunity to put the character away by killing him off (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn). He would allow the resurrection of the character only for the opportunity to direct (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). By all rights he should be hated by Trekkers.


When the Star Trek animated series was on he refused to participate unless George Takei and Nichelle Nichols participated. He realized the ethnic diversity was important to the show and the ideals of Star Trek. He was ready to let a payday slide by if the project didn't live up to it's own ideals. He ensured his co-stars who didn't get big paydays in the early movies got equal pay in the latter films. He would again push the ideals of Star Trek when he directed his second feature by promoting an ecological message (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) and pushed a allegorical tale for the final film of the original franchise when executive produced Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It wasn't until Star Trek star William Shatner published his autobiography Up Till Now was anyone aware of how much Leonard tried to help Shatner's late wife deal with her alcoholism. His philanthropy is now well known but was not overtly advertised for public relations purposes.  Only years after the fact did it trickle out that he gave to charity, provided grants, and contributed to restoration projects. Who could hate a man like that?

So, I guess what I'm saying is that Leonard wasn't perfect; he was self centered one day and self sacrificing the next.  In other words, he was a perfect example of a human being: flawed. To his credit he never stopped striving to improve and do better. In the process, he left a legacy steeped in the arts and humanitarianism and that's more than most of us get to do.

It's illogical to be sad, yet I am, because part of the appeal of Leonard Nimoy was that we identified with his personal flaws and admired his striving to overcome them.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Personal Appearance: Marble City ComiCon in Knoxville, TN

My Adventures In Pulp partner Matthew Childers, has been burning up the comic book convention circuit of late. I'll confess it's a little harder for me. Xander is older and therefore and I'm trying to be as involved as I can before he gets too old for me and moves on to middle and high school, which means my weekends are packed with wrestling matches, baseball games, play performances, etc. There are other considerations as well. As a writer, when we sell issues of Adventures in Pulp, those are a break even situation where we hope we can recoup the cost of printing and hopefully have some copies left over to give away to editors and publishers. I'm not a Grant Morrison or Mark Waid. The super stars may get paid to appear or at the least get accommodations and travel taken care of. I'm no where near that level, so any appearance I make comes out of pocket. On the flip side Matt can do commissions, sell prints, or sketches and he can break even on his hotel, food and gas. In fact, if the show goes real well, he might even have a little extra for his pocket.

I shoulda learned to draw. But it is what it is. Sometimes self promotion costs a little.

Matt asked if I wanted to join him for Marble City ComiCon in Knoxville, TN.  The timing is right in the heart of baseball season, so I told him that I probably would not be able to make it. I never gave it another thought until one day I was on twitter and saw the con mentioned. Ironically, I was going to ask Matt if he was free for dinner. We used to go out pretty regularly, but it was such a busy winter with Xander's wrestling, we never seemed to be able to work out a definite time. With the exception of ETSUCon back in February, Matt and I have not been in the same room since before the holidays. So I asked if he was going to the Con over the weekend and he told me that it was the following weekend on April 25 & 26th.

My heart skipped a beat. It's rare when things work out. April 25th was the ONLY Saturday for the 3 months of baseball season that Xander didn't have practice or a game. Serendipity steal my heart. So it looks like I will join Matt in Knoxville on the 25th. Please come by and say "hi." We will be at table #701.

To find out details on the convention go to: www.marblecitycomicon.com

Don't forget to check Adventures In Pulp. We are up to Page 8 on our current short story ASHES OF THE IMMORTALS over at www.adventuresinpulp.com.

You know, now that I think about it, I got distracted by the confusion over the dates and never did ask Matt about dinner...