CRUNCH, KRONK, CHUNG

The title will eventually make sense but this was something that happened many years ago….

It was cold, close to the holidays, and Sheree’s parents were leaving town. Sheree was a nice girl– I think. I don’t remember how well we knew her at the American Academy of Art back in the early ’80’s. But one day, she announced there was going to be a party at her house and we were all invited. Seemingly the whole school. 

You see what’s coming. 

So we headed out to the burbs, me in my stylish 1982 velour shirt, to Lemont and it was certainly a party. The relatively small house packed with people, only a few we recognized from school. And of course it was loud. So loud, you couldn’t hear yourself talk, with the crowd and the music. Our little group consisted of me, Lin, Pam, Doug and honestly, we usually had a fifth rotating member of the gang at that point depending on schedules, so it was either Neil, Martis, Jim or Mike, but of the five is us, we could barely see or hear each other because of the crowd. 

The first sign that everything was going to hell, was that Sheree was already passed out in her bedroom. So no one was hosting, no one was in charge. 

This… was a Rogue Rager.

The second, and infinitely more troubling sign of this party running out of runway were the guests in the kitchen. Sheree was very, very loose about invitations to this thing. Not only were there a number of college football players in attendance, but also, a group of bouncers from a club in Chicago. 

Only now, nearly 40 years after the spectacle, am I wondering if maybe Sheree arranged for the bouncers to maybe keep things in line? Maybe she knew a friend of a friend? Don’t know. In any event, if there was any kind of plan in place, that plan failed. 

Yeah, I don’t think there was a plan.

Because at a certain point in the kitchen, the football players and the bouncers were challenging each other to a game of quarters. A usually harmless drinking game where you bounce quarters into cups, thus forcing the opposing player to chug a beer or take a shot. It’s all well and good until someone gives somebody else the stink eye.

We were in the midst of the crowd in the living room when the music stopped and we heard crashing noises coming from the kitchen. The crowd seemed to be thickest around the outer edge of the kitchen. Curious, I started to insinuate myself through the crowd to go see what was happening in there. When I reached the edge of the crowd, I was frankly stunned. 

Admittedly, I was very drunk by this point in the evening. The last hour was just a bunch of noise and beer. So it took me a minute to take in what I saw. To actually comprehend it. 

The kitchen was utterly destroyed. There were holes smashed in the blood smeared walls. Scattered kindling that used to be a table with a quarters game on it before everything went to hell. And there were bodies flying around. Things were moving very fast, so I couldn’t count how many guys were fighting, just that they were big and capable of throwing their opponents. One of these opponents landed unconscious at my feet, since I was standing at the edge of the crowd. This was a very bad place to be standing, but that would be made clear to me in about 7 seconds. 

I looked down at my feet and saw a guy laying there. I looked up and saw a large shadow fall over me. I raised my hands in — what I thought– was a “hey, I don’t want any trouble, I was just curious to see what was going on in here” gesture. Maybe my drunken face seemed like it had a cocky expression. Maybe he just didn’t like my velour shirt.

Large, looming shadow man interpreted my gesture in an aggressive way, resulting in three, rapid fire sounds.

CRUNCH. His first punch broke my nose, and as my head began rotating to the right,

KRONK. His second punch hit my cheek bone, continuing to rotate my head until,

CHUNG. The third and final rapid punch, now into the back of my head, had spun me around until my head was in the sink. 

At which point, a massive dose of adrenaline kicked in, I shot to full sobriety in a nanosecond, and I was PISSED. 

Evidently, I must have turned around looking like I was ready for round two, because at that point, several of the other bystanders pulled me into the crowd and to safety. The general message there being “Hey, he will easily kill you. Come here to safety. You’re welcome. Idiot.”

They deposited me back into the living room, away from the danger. I marched into the bathroom to assess the damage. There was surprisingly little pain, as I was still on an adrenaline high, along with the booze. THAT is an interesting mix. Looking into the bathroom mirror, it seemed like I got off pretty easy. Then the blood started streaming out of my nose. For the next minute or so, I tried to staunch the blood with every towel in the bathroom, and clean myself up.

Sorry Sheree, but bloody towels are going to be the least of your problems when your folks get home, I thought. Worst of all, I got blood on my velour shirt. 

I wandered out of the bathroom into the living room, only to find it empty, with red and blue lights flashing and glowing in every window around the house. Coppers! Where were my friends? I would later find out that being separated, one pair thought I was with the other pair and vice versa, as they crawled out back windows with everyone else. But the point was moot. I was the only idiot left and in the kitchen, I saw a police officer placing one of the brawlers up against the wall. 

Thinking quickly (80% adrenaline, 20% alcohol), I sniffed up as much blood as I could, hoping that because there was as yet no massive swelling, I wouldn’t be mistaken as one of the fighters. In hindsight, there was very little danger of me being mistaken for one of the fighters. Delightful countenance. Velour shirt. 

But when an officer advanced on me as I entered the kitchen, I said “There’s a guy wreckin’ stuff in the back.” He went back and I bolted out the kitchen door. 

Only to hit the driveway and find more party goers being thrown up against the side of the house by police. One came my way and I said “You might wanna get in there, two guys are beatin’ on a cop.” And sure enough, they ran into the house. All the partygoers bolted, a few of them saying thanks and a block away, I found my friends, who were relieved to see me. We piled in the car and got outta there.

By the time they dropped me off at home, the adrenaline had started to wear off along with the booze, and the pain began to creep in. They gang took a good long look at me under the streetlight in front of my house. The prognosis was not good. That blood wasn’t coming out of that velour shirt. The nose looked bad too.

But it would be okay, I thought. It was the wee hours of the morning and the very next day, before I would get up, mom and Vic were leaving on vacation and they’d be gone for like two weeks. I figured I’d heal up by the time they got back and they’d never know. I washed my face and went to bed.

The next morning, my mother, the behavioral forensic scientist noticed an almost microscopic speck of blood in the sink and immediately knew enough to interrogate me when they got back. 

16 years later, I had to get nose surgery to repair the slowly escalating damage to the airways in my nose. Which caused another 15 years of sinus infections. I still have issues. 

No idea whatever happened to Sheree. 

The moral of the story? Never wear your favorite velour shirt to an even remotely sketchy party.

Stargazing!

So, you say you wanna see the stars?

Well, I did, so earlier in the year, I threw out the idea to the family to take a family trip—while we still can— to go see a proper star-scape. There are various places around the country where you can experience an excellent stellar presentation, and we made reservations at Pickett Memorial state park, as they were on a list of top spots. 

Mind you, we made these plans before the COVID apocalypse so things suddenly got a bit iffier. But in the end, the very nature of our plan revolved around a secluded cabin in the woods, as you have to go to the middle of nowhere to get away from civilization and light pollution itself.  

The trip down was smooth and uneventful, except when we were attacked by some kind of giant wasp that flew into our car. Mass panic and terror ensued. “Don’t anger it!” was exclaimed. Was it a Murder hornet? Let’s say yes, because it was freakin’ huge. 

On the drive down, we *did* see plenty of people at gatherings and yard sales, only some of whom were masked, but we were driving by and good luck to them and all those they infect. Throughout the course of the 4 days, the very few people we interacted with were masked and properly distant. By and large precautions were being taken. We stayed VERY MUCH to ourselves.

Side note: one of the games we brought with was “Happy Little Accidents”, a drawing game endorsed (we hope) by the bob Ross estate. But a very fun game.

Being there for three nights for the star-gazing, we spent some of the two days seeing some of the sights and climbing along some trails. The girls did a lot more extra trail and photo work than us boys did. I can run and sprint and jog all I want but an hour or so climbing up and all over rocks and trails in 90 degree heat had me exhausted, then later sleeping like a baby. 

Side note two: another game we brought with was “Throw, Throw Burrito”, which is kinda self explanatory except cards are also involved. Great game!

We really couldn’t get decent photos of the stars with our phones during the evenings, so I’ll have to resort to showing one they have on the Pickett website, as I recognize the nebula! I love me a good nebula. Usually never see them up by us. We hoped we’d get at least one clear night of the three and we got all three, and each night was more clear than the last.

On the way back, we stopped at one of the many distilleries they have in Kentucky, Jeptha Creed. Top marks on this lovely enterprise, where you can peruse their many products and variations on moonshine and vodka. They even have a free tasting every hour in their really beautiful headquarters. After trying some of their wares, yes, you’ll be grabbing at least a bottle or too. I ended up getting some apple pie moonshine, coffee vodka and spicy pepper vodka. Really good stuff. 

Friendly folks and even there, very conscientious about social distancing and masking up. Great design, set up and impressive on every level. Highly recommended if you’re ever in southern Kentucky on 64 South.

As the kids are now adults, any time we actually manage to do a vacation with just the four of, is getting to be a very rare thing indeed, so this one was pretty good. 

We really could have used Neil deGrasse Tyson to sit with us and spin tales of the stars but no vacation is *perfect*. But if Neil ever sees this (he won’t), hey Neil, next time, we’re going to shoot for the Northern lights. Any suggestions?

Because the thing IS.

Doctor Who part 5

In 1987, as Doctor Who was at its nadir, us Star Trek fans were starved for more Trek and we got Star Trek: The Next Generation. It didn’t matter that the majority of the first two seasons were not great. The fans were starving for it and we’d forgive anything.

In 2005, us Who fans had just gone through 16 years with only one TV movie and a lotta books and some audios to show for it. But Russell T Davies brought the show back with Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor and it was GOOD! My entire family would gather around a laptop computer to view the bit torrent file I illegally obtained so we could enjoy the latest episode. ***Have no fear, I always ended up purchasing the DVD’s. In fact, for “Series 1” as it was known, it wasn’t being shown on BBC America yet (stupid stupid BBC), so for awhile, I fear I’d be taking it off the Internet forever. But I think the Beeb finally got wise and started showing it in a timely fashion. 

Eccleston stepped away after one season (personal reasons) and introduced nu-Who fans to regeneration and we got David Tennant, who was a huge fan of the classic show and stuck around for three series and some specials, then we got Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor, who also stuck around for three years. 

The show had now been back for seven full seasons and specials, when came the 50th anniversary special. A true spectacular, that brought together Tennant, Smith, and John Hurt as the War Doctor and dealt with him having to make the decision back in time as to whether to destroy Gallifrey or not. It was huge, beautiful and epic on every level and they managed to not only work in ALL the previous Doctors, but actually hit us with the briefest of cameos, the close up of the eyes (and eyebrows) of the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, who hadn’t even shown up yet!!!!!!

AND, if all that wasn’t mind blowing enough, yet another future incarnation of the Doctor showed up, who called himself the Curator and was played by Tom Baker. Jesus, I’m getting emotional just remembering that. It was everything a Who fan could have possibly hoped for. 

Another amazing fact is that the 50th anniversary special was shown simultaneously on tv and movie screens all around the world in over *90* countries. An incredible technological feat. Possibly the biggest of its kind ever. (I’m guessing).

After a huge battle on an alien planet, the Doctor had reached the end of his life cycle but the Time Lords granted him a whole new batch of regenerations, thus, we got 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi who did as great a job as his predecessors for three seasons, and then a whole new showrunner (Chris Chibnall) new Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and a new direction, which, due to Chibnall’s limitations as a writer and showrunner, made the show suffer and divided fandom more than ever. Half of Series 11 was a mess, Series 12 slightly better. We’ve got 18 months or more to wait AGAIN before the next series and the ratings are tanking again. It is, like Seasons 23 and 24 of the classic series, another nadir. But that’s the thing. There’s always regeneration. No matter what, just like the Doctor, barring incident, the show can live on forever.

Long may it reign. 

Doctor Who part 4

The early 1980’s saw an all time high in popularity for Doctor Who in the US and in the U.K., 1982-85 saw great ratings for all three of 5th Doctor Peter Davison’s seasons, as well as the first season of 6th Doctor Colin Baker. The show was really in excellent shape, with Colin’s first season ratings actually improving slightly on Davison’s last.

But unlikely trouble straight out of a soap opera entered the picture.

The new head of BBC programming, Michael Grade, had declared that he wasn’t a fan of Doctor Who and decided it should be rested. This was his first volley. Then, he took the show off the air for an 18 month hiatus. That was the second barrage. The fans were understandably angry. When the show finally came back for Colin’s second season, it was a shadow of its former self. The budget was cut, as was the episode numbers, from 26 down to 14. That was the third strike. 

It didn’t help matters that the preeminent writer of the season, Robert Holmes took gravely ill and hasty rewrites lowered the quality of the last adventure. They also experimented with a season long story arc that didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped. 

When a healthy Doctor Who left for the hiatus, it was averaging over 8 million viewers a week. When it came back, it struggled with half that. Grade wasn’t done yet. He decided all the issues were the fault of incumbent Doctor Colin Baker and fired him. 

And that was the knock out punch. You may ask, why would Grade systematically dismantle and destroy a show that’s not only legendary, but getting very respectable ratings? And what did this guy Grade have against Colin? Ah.

Colin used to date Grade’s then current wife. Yeah. So, this petty, unprofessional asshole basically torpedoed the show for personal reasons.

Season 23 and Colin were both gone. In came Sylvester McCoy for seasons 24-26. Still a shadow of the former show, with fewer stories, lower budget and no support from the Beeb. Toward the end, seasons 25 and 26 were slowly getting better but eventually, the axe fell and Doctor Who got canceled. Mind you, it was some years later that I finally found out all the dirty details. I still stuck by the show, even through “The Wilderness Years”, 1990 through 2005, The only respite being the jointly produced Fox/BBC Doctor Who 1996 TV movie starring Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor. It was a decent, if flawed production which allowed showing McCoy regenerating into McGann, who was great. It was a pilot shown on Fox to good ratings (9 million) but not enough to get a series on the schedule. That may have been a good thing, as nine years later, we got a reprieve.

Next: New Who

Doctor Who part 3

It’s 1981, and I’m swimming in the world of Doctor Who. It had been a year since I discovered it and researched the history of the first four Doctors. Imagine my shock, after finally getting my bearings, hearing that after seven years, Tom Baker was stepping down to regenerate into Doctor number five, in the form of Peter Davison

That year’ comic convention had a larger room dedicated to Doctor Who, with a lot of merchandise and even some dozen chairs and a tv showing tapes of old episodes. This is when they learned that the Chicago fan base at least was growing exponentially. The room was *packed* with people crowded around tv. I was wedged in between larger, sweatier fans as the standing room only crowd watched the entire six part Planet of the Spiders, 3rd Doctor Jon Pertwee’s final adventure, where at the end, he regenerated into Tom Baker with a cheer from the crowd. 

I think this is when the convention people realized there was money to be made on fitting Doctor Who with a bigger space.

1982 — suddenly, the DW section of the con got a lot bigger, with more rooms, features, and even showing some of the 5th Doctor’s adventures on a screen, as our PBS station, WTTW didn’t have these stories yet. We were still working are way through the remainder of the Baker stories.

1983 — the 20th anniversary of the show saw some extra excitement. It had gotten so big in Chicago, that for the first time ever, we, via WTTW, after being all caught up on Davison’s 20th anniversary season, actually got to view the *actual* 20th anniversary special, “the Five Doctors” *before* the UK. (The Brit fans were livid)

The cherry on the sundae was that years’ convention was the biggest ever, a dedicated DW con, packed with over 10,000 fans, and thousands more turned away. They had a dedicated ballroom showing old Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker and Davison eps 24 hours a day. I waltzed in there at 3am and watched all ten parts of Troughton’s finale, The War Games. 

And all of the surviving Doctors, Troughton thru Davison attended (Hartnell passed in ’77) and all four even appeared together for a photo op. This was maybe the pinnacle of the show’s popularity in the USA and wouldn’t hit this height again for 30 years.

Next: Bad Grade, death and rebirth.

The Doctor Who Addiction part 2

So, having discovered this strange show called Doctor Who one day in 1980, I quickly became an avid fan, watching new 25 minute episodes each day. I can’t remember how soon it would be before we actually owned a VCR so I could tape them but I think it was fairly soon after I started watching. 

Later that year, I’d attend a comic convention in Chicago. While looking around, I spotted a small side room with Doctor Who signage. Inside were some Target novelizations of some of the televised stories, a few magazines such as Doctor Who weekly and various bits and bobs, toys, etc. but nothing compared to what they have nowadays. 

Most intriguing was a very nicely rendered pencil sketch of four heads side by side. I recognized the one on the right as Tom Baker, the Doctor, but although the other heads were vaguely familiar, I wasn’t sure who they were. I asked the man running the booth. He explained to me that the other heads were the Doctor’s previous incarnations. You see, the Doctor, when fatally injured, dying, etc., could regenerate into a whole new body to heal himself. It’s how the show had lasted 18 seasons at that point. Then it occurred to me where I’d seen the other heads. The very first story I saw ended with a mental battle between the Doctor and the villain Morbius. As the contest raged, various faces appeared in the viewscreen between them. All these faces and others (?) appeared. Now it made sense. Earlier lives!

Oh my god. This was the greatest concept for a tv show ever. If the ratings sag too greatly, or the lead actor wants to move on, etc., they can regenerate him into someone else! Utterly brilliant. I was IN before but now I was prepared to worship at the alter of all things Who. As time passed, I started finding out everything I could about each of these incarnations, trying to piece together the history of the character and the actors who played him. 

William Hartnell was the tetchy, imperious old 1st Doctor in Edwardian garb, who played the part from 1963 to 1966, *filming nearly all year round*, accumulating the to this day, the second highest amount of episodes of any Doctor other than Tom Baker. The Doctor and his companions, including his granddaughter, her two school teachers, and various others down the line, fought alien monsters, present day threats on earth, but also frequently went back in earth’s history to seek adventure. Essentially six seasons worth in the span of three years, compared to these days tv schedules. But the brutal schedule took its toll on Hartnell’s health and he had to step down. But they wanted the show to go on. What to do?

They could have simply recast the part with someone similar but let’s face it, that’s cheap, very much a soap opera move and they knew it. So they had a brainstorm. They’d already established that the Doctor was an alien. What if his alien race could change their appearance? 

In his last story, the 1st Doctor collapsed from exhaustion. His body was enveloped in a glow and when it subsided, a different man was in his place, much to the confusion of his companions. They decided to cast character actor Patrick Troughton to take over the role, letting him play the character totally differently. Instead of the old Edwardian gentleman, he now became more of a disheveled and impish tramp. It was a HUGE risk but they didn’t have a lot of choice. And it worked. The 2nd Doctor was a more humorous little character who constantly made his opponents underestimate him, whether they were alien monsters or power mad dictators, you name it. But the experiment worked and from 1966 through 1969, Troughton and his various companions filmed their adventures all year round as well, prompting the 2nd Doctor actor to leave, also due to the grueling filming schedule. The ratings were sinking as well. For a bit there, the BBC considered just ending the show. The 2nd Doctor’s era ended when he called his home planet for assistance in tackling a huge threat, as well as a renegade member of his own race. Here we learned that the Doctor was from a race called the Time Lords, who, once the threat was resolved, put the Doctor on trial for interfering with other worlds and exiled him to earth with no way out. 

The show really only came back because they had nothing better to put in the time slot. The 3rd Doctor was played by Jon Pertwee, a tall man of action with white hair and vibrant fancy dress, capable of defending himself with a fighting style of Venusian aikido.  With his love of gadgets, he was a colorful mix of the Doctor, Batman and James Bond, or Austin Powers. And the show was finally in color as well. But he was the exact opposite of Troughton’s cosmic hobo, and, since he was exiled to present day earth, he allied with UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) to combat threats from within earth as well as threats from outer space. The filming schedule had relaxed from over 40 eps a year down to around 24 to 26 and Pertwee stayed for five seasons before leaving the role. But not before the Time Lords ended his exile, permitting him to travel through space and time again. In came Tom Baker and his trademark scarf who stayed for a record long seven seasons.

Next: more conventions, escalation, fandom!

How *did* this Doctor Who addiction start? (Probably Part 1)

The year is 1980. I’m puttering around the house, local PBS station on in the background. Suddenly, I hear this music. Eerie, different…enough to get me looking at what’s going on. The screen is filled with a blue tunnel effect…we’re speeding down it. A blue box appears and is traveling down the tunnel. Then this man appears in the foreground, curly hair, big eyes. It gives the effect he’s bigger than Time. Then he disappears and this diamond logo comes into view. “Doctor Who“. It’s a powerful, penetrating set of visuals, resulting in an episode title, “The Brain of Morbius“, written by Robin Bland. 

What the hell is this?

We see an alien creature crawling along the set of an alien world, until it’s killed by some large man. The setting and lighting remind me of Masterpiece theater, the on set video look. The scene shifts elsewhere on the planet to where the blue box appears out of nowhere. The man with the curly hair exits the box along with a cute girl. The man shouts to the heavens, the story goes on and my world has changed forever. 

I later found out that that particular episode was a copy that they neglected to add in the special effects, sound effects or background music, which made things seems a bit more odd than usual. A mistake that really presented the whole episode at its worst, technically speaking. I didn’t know and I didn’t care. 

This was magnificent. This was science fiction, science fantasy and wonder. This was a live play in front of my eyes, dealing with time travel, mad scientists and monsters. This was a curly haired madman that was compelling, magnetic, and a booming voice that could command any situation, any room. I was in. Hooked. Lost and found. And I had no idea what I was in for… for the next 40 years.

When next I visit this topic, it’ll be about the conventions, Channel 11 WTTW and those formative fan years.

The Big Disney Trip

It was probably around a decade ago that the four us made THE trip to Disney World. We’d been there a few times before when the kids were younger but now they were in their early to mid teens and we’d passed the point of having to constantly keep an eye on them, which made for a more relaxing trip in general. We did an 8 day trip through Christmas itself with full park hopper passes/fast passes, so we could go anywhere, anytime. 

Having had experience going there in the past, I formulated a plan to take maximum advantage of the parks, without utterly exhausting everyone with walking 10 hours a day. The plan was simple — generic example: First day, you get up early, go the Magic Kingdom, maybe hit something like the Haunted House and Pirates of the Caribbean and maybe something else. It’s first thing in the morning, so you’re able to hit all three without much of a wait, then, as the crowds start to get thicker, you leave the park, taking note of a couple more rides you want to go on. *Those* you go on in a few days, when you start with this park again. Mid day, you take it easy, maybe have lunch at one of the countries in Epcot, but basically lounge a bit. Then, you’re fresh and ready for the afternoon session, maybe hitting Animal Kingdom, going on a couple rides, while making notes of the most popular ones, and to hit *those* when you start the day with the AK. After dinner, you can hit a third park, hit a couple rides that are available, make notes for the morning, etc. and with 8 days to play with, you can start the day with each of the parks at least twice while you’re there. 

This worked really well. We never had to rush or compete or jockey for position. We pretty much hit all the highlights in all the parks. Some twice. I think my favorite of all was Expedition Everest, in the Animal Kingdom. It was the ultimate in design/ride/experience. The atmosphere as you wait in line is pure Tibetan, as you see the great mountain in the distance, a beautifully constructed mini mountain that the coaster runs through. It starts out as a coaster as you pierce the mountain but then slows and stops *inside*, as ahead, right around the bend, you see shadows of where the track has been destroyed, broken and bent, as another shadow, that of a giant yeti is roaring and coming toward you. The coaster starts to slowly back up and escapes from the advancing mountain, then does the whole coaster ride backward to the end. Simply brilliant and beautiful. We went on it at night and during the day. Lots of great experiences there as always. The dinosaur ride in Epcot was great, Soarin’ was fantastic. So many great rides, plus the old favorites. 

And the food. Oh, do yourself a favor and make reservations a few days in advance for dinner or lunch at some of the countries in Epcot. We had a late lunch in Canada as per a recommendation and we had steak with mushroom risotto that was maybe the best I’d ever had. 

The weather was just about perfect the entire time. Florida around Christmas is usually sunny, in the 50’s or 60’s during the day, perfect for walking around the park. We really only had one night where it dropped down into the 30’s when we were at an outdoor concert, but the rest of the time, it was perfect. The crowds were moderate at worst, allowing us plenty of time and usually pretty short lines, except smack dab in the middle of the day, when we were on siesta. Really, the only day it got crazy busy packed with people was our last day there. It got so crowded, I guess it was December 29th or so, that they actually had to put up the “PARK IS FULL” sign. it worked out perfectly for us though, as we’d already hit everything we wanted to go on via “the plan”. 

When it comes to evaluating a vacation, sometimes it comes down to “how little went wrong?” In this case, pretty much nothing went wrong. We had a relaxing plan, worked like a charm, saw everything, had fun, ate like kings and queens. Lin and I pretty much decided that it was *such* a comprehensively good time all around, we probably wouldn’t have to ever come again. There’d be no way to top it.

At best, we might go there some day with the grandkids.

ABSOLUTELY NO RUSH ON THAT, because the thing IS.

Follicular Mane-crafting

With a full seven months of unabated hair growth since January first, I find that the longer my hair gets, the tighter and thicker the curls get, *especially* on the sides and the back. Well, the back …. I may as well have a poodle sitting on the back of my head at this point, that’s how thick it is.

 

My wife and daughter have viewed it as a creative outlet and, having nothing better to do most days, I relented to their pleas. 

Evidently, the waves on top were inspiration enough for several seascapes and a setting of ocean danger. 


Look out, Johnny! ‘Tis the Kraken!


And I’m assuming its Flipper to the rescue.


I have no idea what all they added but blue paint was involved. 


HAIR!

“The Swedes” from The Umbrella Academy- Very Probably not Plagiarism…

I’m currently half way through the second season of The Umbrella Academy, a very well done show on Netflix. It tells the story of seven people with various superpowers who were all born on the exact same day 30 years ago under very mysterious circumstances. Each were also purchased as infants by the eccentric scientist and inventor, Reginald Hargreeves. He then adopted and molded them into a world saving team known as The Umbrella Academy.  

The series is based on the comic books of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. Before the Netflix series, I really hadn’t heard of the comic, but the tv series isn’t an exact adaptation of the series, in that I guess things are shuffled around and changed for the sake of the adaptation by showrunner Steve Blackman. Some story elements and characters were created specifically for the show and were not created in the earlier comic.

That’s all well and good but IN this second season, imagine my surprise when I was introduced to a trio of white haired, silent Nordic assassins who are referred to as “The Swedes”. 

Heyyyyyy…

Now, yes, MY graphic novel, The Swede, debuted last year, and featured a quiet, white haired assassin as well, albeit not some time traveling version, just the garden variety assassin that has a penchant for snapping necks, but still, The Swede.

Another big difference between The Swede and The Swedes, is that my character prefers working with his hands, while the trio is loaded up with tons of guns. 

Is it at ALL slightly possible that Steve Blackman saw something of my character in an ad or a visual somewhere and was influenced? Yes. Is it *likely*? Probably not.

Because they started filming season two a year ago, so it’s undoubtedly just a coincidence and a tangential one at that. Plus, that’s a tv show and they hadn’t used The Swedes in the comic. 

However…. if they DO ever end up using The Swedes in a follow up comic, let it be known that I came up with the name of mine and produced my series first. 

Just putting it out there.

Just saying. 

Consider this an official planting of the flag. 

My Swedish flag. 

And in the spirit of camaraderie and cross-promotion, if Mr. Blackman, Mr. Way or Mr. Ba would like to publicly mention or check out any of The Swede graphic novels that are currently available … on Amazon, LINKED HERE and HERE…. internationally as well, LINKED HERE and HERE, that would be wonderful and I’d certainly appreciate it.

Thank you. 

Tv and movie optioning rights are also available. Just sayin’.

Because the thing IS. 

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY (L to R) AIDAN GALLAGHER as NUMBER FIVE, EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN as ALLISON HARGREEVES, ROBERT SHEEHAN as KLAUS HARGREEVES, TOM HOPPER as LUTHER HARGREEVES, DAVID CASTAÑEDA as DIEGO HARGREEVES and ELLEN PAGE as VANYA HARGREEVES in episode 206 of THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX/NETFLIX © 2020
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