Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas to All

Christmas 2012…and it would be easy to forget the spirit in light of what has happened this year. What with Sandy and the senseless shootings, especially the one this week in Sandy hook that snuffed out so many of our precious little children. They are irreplaceable and whether you knew them or not we are all so much poorer today than we were just a few days ago.

Yeah, the Christmas lights shine less brightly this year.

The music sounds kind of tinny.

It seems like it may never get warm again.

And that’s unacceptable.

Because the music WILL get sweeter, the lights brighter and our lives warmer.

Christmas is important.

Most especially when the world seems cruelest.

So let me tell you a story.

About a hero.

My hero.

My dad.

You know my father got me my very first comic book. I was maybe, seven. It was a very beat up copy of Superman Annual #1. He got it from the junk yard from a box of old comics at a penny a piece. He actually brought the whole box home, but that annual is the one I remember.

He did a lot of little things like that, my dad. He taught me how to throw a curve ball, how to fight, camp and change a tire. He taught me how to take care of my pets and how to cook.

My dad taught me that hand outs are what you give to strangers but a hand up is what you give to friends.

Oh and by the way he also taught me that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet, so it’s ALWAYS a hand up you are giving.

My dad was also a hero. A real, honest to Captain America hero in fact. He was a paratrooper during the Korean War and won the Bronze Star for bravery under fire.
But he was a bigger hero at home.

My dad didn’t have a lot of education. He never made a ton of money or got famous. And he died way too soon at the age of 52.

But in the too brief time that I knew him, my father never let us miss a meal or want for anything. Even though he often worked three jobs, he was never to tired to spend a few moments playing with my brother, my sister or me.

And every Sunday morning I would wake to the smell of bacon frying. My father making breakfast for the family so my mother could sleep in. To this day I always feel a tug in my heart when I smell bacon frying.

Of course my dad would wave all of that off and say I was over sentimental…actually he’d call me a sap. But as tough as he was, my dad may have been the biggest sap of all of us. He claimed that Christmas was just for my mom and the kids…but how his eyes would light up when the tree was trimmed and lit. And it was my dad who played that Crosby Christmas album so often that we had to replace it every few years.

One Christmas when I was four he brought home my first dog. A mutt named Missy. I had that dog until I turned eighteen. For years he carped at how much trouble she was. But when got, old and sick and had to be put to sleep. It was my dad who went with me to take care of her. It was the only time I actually saw him cry. He loved that dog as much as I did.

What a sap he was.

As sons get older, we sometimes drift from our dads. I don’t recall ever having a real argument with my father but we did drift. As I reached my twenties I was determined to find my life in the arts as an actor or a singer while my dad who had been a truck driver, laborer and cook thought his son should be a doctor, lawyer or some other more practical thing. Still he supported every decision I ever made…and he never missed a show I did…and he never…ever forgot Christmas.

I don’t think it is a stretch when I say that if I never got to be half the man or half the father that MY father was. But even being only half of what he was…is pretty good.

I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas. That you hold your friends and family very close. Remember that you see heroes everywhere you look…even when you are looking into your own mirror.

Yeah.. I’m a sap…but I come by it honestly.

Merry Christmas…Happy Holidays.

That’s 30!


Are You Kidding Me?

Where do I start with this one? Well first let me just say that my regular column will be posted tonight or tomorrow, but something has come up that I really felt a need to comment on.

It seems that Dan Slott, the outstanding writer of Spider-Man has actually received death threats over the outcome of Spider-Man #700.

To those people I say....

Are you kidding me????

There are actually yahoos out there who are so divorced from reality that they would make threats of physical violence?

Oh and by the way, your freedom of speech does NOT extend to making death threats. So pease don't try to justify your arrogant stupidity by saying it's your ain't your right chuckleheads.

And it is not a joke either. Take a look at the news and tell me that you would not take it very seriously if YOU had your life threatened.

Of course this is not the first time a creator has gotten hate mail and threats because "fans" think THEY own the characters they follow. But the stupidity of this mind set never fails to astound me. No one says you have to like a story arc or a development. Feel fret to criticize but if your criticism extends to an urge to commit really should seek out a good therapist.

Or more basically, to quote William Shatner ...."get a life"

Thus endeth my vent....non venting column to follow!

That's 30!


Thursday, December 6, 2012


On November 30th at 11:59 PST the long running, highly successful MMORPG, City Of Heroes closed it’s doors and the lights went out for a legion of superheroes as the servers went off line. Paragon City went dark, not with a bang but with a key stroke. Since it’s inception in 2004 the critically acclaimed COH was home to many thousands of our fellow dreamers who’s great desire was to be a superhero.

And who among us hasn’t had that dream? I, myself am a legendary (in my own mind) figure in DC Universe Online! Marvel is set to release it’s own MMO and of course there is the long running Champions Online. There are literally millions of people, from the very young to the very old living out their own Superhero fantasy.
The desire to BE Superman resonates pretty deeply.

City of Heroes was not killed by apathy or a lack of ideas on the parts of players and developers. It was struck down after eight years by a villain more rancorous than The Red Skull, more insidious than Lex Luthor, more implacable than Galactus…yes…COH was defeated by the one unstoppable evil in all the multiverses….
Corporate restructuring.

There was no final great battle. No time for a proper send off for it’s huge player base. Just a player generated vigil and last one out turn off the lights.
I hope to see many of those players pop up on DCUO or marvel, or Champions. But I suspect that for a great number of my fellow virtual Superheroes there will be no replacing COH.

But the dream lives. And that got me to thinking. Superhero RPGS go back pretty far. Before computers and D&D dice. I was playing Superhero MMO’s back in the 1960’s. of course back then we had a different word for it. We called it… playing. And you had to actually (ugh!) be WITH the people you were playing with. It was analog…it was IN YOUR FACE…and a hell of a lot of fun.

Back in my ancestral land of Brooklyn , in the kingdom of 102nd Street and Flatlands Avenue during the summers of 1964-1968 the Legion Of Superheroes was alive and well and fighting the forces of evil…

Evil being Alan Baxter and his pimple faced organization known only as THRUSH (stolen liberally from The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) . Alan and his minions of terror were assigned their roles due to the fact that they lived around the block from my own virtuous crew!
I of course was Superboy. This was not because I was the strongest, fastest or best looking kid. (Though I humbly must admit to all of those virtues). It was because my cousin Cindy (the toughest kid on the block) was Supergirl and would pound anyone who wouldn’t let me be Superboy.

Eddie Shanker who was well known in the neighborhood for his chemistry set was Element Lad. Eddie could take any two chemicals and make something foul smelling enough to make a skunk puke. Eddie was very popular. The last I heard of Eddie he was working in the Department of Sanitation. Something poetic about that!

Of course there was yucky Margaret who got to be Saturn Girl because it was either that of Phantom Girl and Margaret liked astronomy. (Yucky Margaret also introduced most of the boys in the neighborhood to the wonder of girls by the time we turned 15 and by which time she was far less yucky. She still gets Christmas cards from most of us to this day).

Rounding out our intrepid band was Weird Victor. Victor was weird because his mother was his barber and always cut his bangs at a 45 degree angle. He was also weird because he would eat anything. Not just the usual bugs and dirt. We ALL did that. Weird Victor actually LIKED (yuck) FRIED LIVER! Naturally he was Matter Eater Lad. Only Matter Eater Lad could eat liver and live! That stuff had a smell that would do Eddie Shanker proud! Whilst Victor later solved his hair problem he never got over his unnatural love for fried liver and onions. We tried intervention and even Kentucky Fried Chicken to no avail. It was our greatest failure.

Of course we never actually FOUGHT with the pimply forces of Thrush. Our encounters consisted largely of one group chasing the other through alleys and back yards. When we finally cornered one another Alan would jut his chin and shout out a hearty…HA!
Which I would trump with an even heartier …ha…HA!

Pretty rough stuff I can tell you. But we were a tough breed. Our battles were the stuff of legend. And even though pimply Alan is now, and has been for many years FATHER Alan, part of me is convinced that it’s just a front. That he is biding his time until he can make the forces of Thrush rise again.

Well Father Alan, bring it on. You will find The Legion waiting…right after the AARP meeting.

That’s 30!