Friday, December 14, 2012

How About Some Retooling?

So, you've read the earlier post regarding a potential reality show I wrote about. Well, at work the other evening I devised what I initially thought was a new premise until I began ruminating verbosely about it to my coworkers.

Here's the thing, American Idol has run its course. Really. Basically, people watch it for the train wreck of those who audition and aren't chosen for Hollywood. So I surmised taking all of the reality shows out there: American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent, etc. etc. You'll have a great judges pool to boot. That'll also give you plenty of sensational spectacles to laugh/cringe at/with/for.

Then it dawned on me...

That's "The Gong Show"

Then I figured someone could just bring that back (again) and I realized, today's viewing audience doesn't exactly relate to Chuck Barris, so I figured I'd concede to letting Ryan Seacrest host it. Obviously, this is probably just another pipe dream and if it actually does take off, I won't get any monetary compensation anyway...but it'd be cool if I did.

Anyway, what do I know?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beautiful Tranquility

The Light Of God
If ever a fictional place came to life out of a book or movie, it would be Letchworth State Park.

I first visited Letchworth over Labor Day weekend in 2009 and immediately fell in love with the place. If I were to marry again, I'd wish the ceremony and associated photographs to be in the park. Additionally, upon my death, whenever that my be, I wish my ashes be dispersed in the park (if possible). I've not been anywhere else as peaceful and beautiful as Letchworth. More often than not, "Wow" escaped my lips compelled by the sheer natural wonder of nature's creation, respectfully adapted by a thoughtful mankind.
The Footbridge
Upon glimpsing the footbridge from high above peeking out from behind tree branches, I sought out the path which would bring me down to it.
From the Cathedral
At nearly every turn, there's a breathtaking view in the park
big sweeping Bend
But the real reason I ever ventured to Letchworth to begin with was for scenic train photographs. In 2009, I fell short of discovering a spot in the park and dedicated nearly two and a half hours this trip searching for it with a great success. Nature and the railroad cooperated for a brief wait and well-lit results
CP on Portageville Trestle
Upon returning to the Upper Falls area, located under the railroad trestle, I stumbled upon an unexpected surprise
Catwoman was awaiting bicyclists who were on a fundraising ride, rather ironic considering the previous weekend I spent all of Saturday at a local comics convention.
I didn't know which section of the park to stay in!!
Eastbound NS train On Portageville Trestle
As with the last time, I enjoyed my visit to the park, and already want to go back there again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

3rd Annual ComiCONN

So it's been another year since the last "Show For The Fans By The Fans" and I must say, third time's the charm so far. In the Spring it seemed ComiCONN was battling against the odds, coming off of a bout against Hurricane Irene in 2011 and appropriate venues seemingly non-existant.

Well, the Trumbull, CT, Marriot stepped up to the challenge and a date was set for the Third Annual ComiCONN.Larger Than Life Mural
World reknown artists and writers attended the show on August 18, 2012 and likely helped to contribute to the overwhelmingly unexpected crowd which pushed the limits of local fire codes, and caused the cosplayers to move outside for the public photo sessions (an improvement in my opinion, especially once the weather improved).

I bought a few prints, got some comics autographed, and took nearly 300 images of costumed heroes and villains from home-made to near professional level. Stay Puff
Anime Had A Bigger Presence
One group in particular touted nearly three dozen cosplayers and was very impressive.
Hero Army Assembled
Interior Group Photo Session
Harley Quinn, Deadpool and, my personal favorite, Lady Deadpool personified their characters as if they'd jumped right off of the page. Even the Tony Stark in glowing Iron Man armor (with shades and carrying his headpiece) was true to his character (right down to the numerous heroines hanging off of him throughout the afternoon) and he could turn right around and relate to a little kid with ease. They were a great group, as you can see.
Avengers Assemble

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bizarro Show

People, as a rule, don't like performance art. No one goes to a concert to watch an avant garde performer act weird. One purposesly CHOOSES to go to a theatre to willingly watch performance art. There's nothing wrong with that, and I'm fully in support of it. Had I more money, I'd support the arts. Alas, I can't, other than the occasional motion picture, audio compilation (cd or record), concert, or musical theatre. I'd go to a play also, but again, no money means no attendance. Oh, and I forgot books. Books I can do. I can read between calls for help at work, but I'm getting off topic.

My mind was wandering the other day while in the bathroom, and that's how I devised my opening lines. I imagined one's typical band of popular musicians (be they country, rock, pop, rap, or whatever genre one enjoys) putting on an enjoyable show for its fans, then suddenly doing something so unorthodox as standing on stage silent for 23 minutes (there's a recorded piece whose title I forget but it's just that. The composition requires the performers to rest for such a duration) or something as avant garde as pretending to be swans in front of rear projected footage of something totally unrelated showing on a screen behind them, then picking up their instruments again and suddenly they're a genre band again. Yeah, I'm scary like that. Just listen to my mp3 player...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Any Moment My Wall Will Be Gone And a Dude Will Have Fallen Through My Ceiling

Let me quickly set the scene, as I'm usually too long winded for my own good -- not that I'm complaining...

So, there's eight units in my condominium building, four per floor, two each per floor per front and back. The lower back unit behind my upper front one caught fire in January 2012, casuing me much consternation and a continuing lack of securital sense at home since.

Following the fire, my downstairs neighbors, those immediately below my unit, underwent partial renovation from water damage caused by an incident in December 2011 (their walls being open to expose the studs helped extinguish the fire handily). Now, I work overnights; since I've never been a morning person, the workload is much more to my capabilities, and it's the furthest away from a co-worker who, at the time, I was experiencing friction with.

Renovation and sleep are more combustible than me and that co-worker ever were.

I made it through the downstairs remodelling relatively unscathed as it was a lot of drywall finishing; that is some pneumatic nail gunning and/or screw gun work. There was some hammering, but for the most part I chose to stay at home and try to sleep through it.

Fast forward to the end of April 2012 and work to rebuild the two fire damaged units immediately behind me (top and bottom floors) began in earnest. Rather more specifically, the one top floor immediately behind me. I almost wonder if it were to be better homeless than the contractors cutting everything out with a saws-all and scabbing in replacement framework.

Okay, wishing one's self homeless is not good karma, but it's so frustrating (not to mention insanity invoking) to hear the rafters vibrate above me, forty feet away from where they're cutting (or ARE they on the other side of my ceiling after all...?).

The thumping of thge nail gun, the thrum of the air compressor, the radio and even the dude singing along with such are all quite tolerable and I've proven already I can sleep through that. In fact, I've come to find great irrational reassurance the guys are there working while I sleep because if something else catastrophic were to occur, they're awake to rouse me for an evacuation. But the saws-all and the sledgehammer banging have gotten to become more than I can stand. It's as if any minute they'll cut through my wall or one of them will fall through my ceiling while I try to sleep. Not to mention, the other night my downstairs neighbor, immediately below me, revealed a crucial truss was deemed of questionable condition as a result of the fire. Had it needed to be replaced, I would be staying someplace else, my cats would be either in a shelter of some foster home, and my place would be a bigger wreck than it already is with no ceiling or walls of its own. I'm at my wits end.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic Railroad????

CV 4559-4924-4923 Palmer diamond 9-3-1989
What, pray tell, does a photo of a train have to do with the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic?

Actually, more than one might think. I refer you to Larry Lowenthal's "Titanic Railroad:The Southern New England" (Marker Press Brimfield, MA 1998) for the full story, but to briefly summarize, Charles Melville Hays was the driving figurehead of the Grand Trunk Railroad. At the height of the JP Morgan/Charles Mellen reign of forming a monopolistic transportation system in the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, Hays was aiming for his own route in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to compete with what was basically the only other railroad in region. (The relatively tiny Central Vermont Railway running north to south from New London, CT to St Albans, VT, was a Grand Trunk RR affiliation). Hays proposed "Southern New England RR" would have run from a port at Providence, RI, to the Central Vermont yard in Palmer, MA (where the above photo was taken on September 3, 1989).

Hays was a passenger aboard the Titanic returning from Europe following another trip to garner support and potential funding for the SNE construction. We all know the outcome of Titanic, and Hays was among the majority who perished. In spite of this, construction commenced on the SNE in fits and starts unitl finally ending altogether in 1915, leaving graded right-of-ways and unadorned concrete piers awaiting bridges and rails which will never come.

How would the rail scene be different had Titanic not sunk? Perhaps today's Providence & Worcester Railroad might have a competitior between Providence, RI, and Central Massachusetts in the New England Central RR (successor of Central Vermont which was sold out of the GT parent Canadian National family in the mid 1990s) instead of an interchange partner at Willimantic, CT, numerous miles out of the way. Perhaps, as history has shown, the SNE would have become just what it is: an abandooned railroad grade through having succumbed as much of the NYNH&H superlative secondary lines throughout the region due to that area's slowly eroding economy.

To this day, 100 years later, concrete monoliths and other telltale features can still be located if one cares to look hard enough. I myself will make the adventure sometime in the future, though I don't know when, but at least when the leaves aren't in the way.

The SNE lives on, however, in its mystique but also at least in one model railroad form, documented in Model Railroader magazine.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Almost Two Encounters With Davy Jones

While I was enrolled as a student in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna University, Davy Jones, of The Monkees owned a farm in the geographical area and was spotted numerous times downtown by fellow students of mine.

I never got to meet him.

I came close -- twice -- each time missing him by one day. The first time was early in my college years and he was enjoying dinner at a popular local restaurant the night before I ate there myself. You guessed it, later in my college years, he ate at this very same restaurant the night AFTER I had.

Now this is only relevant because I've been an avid fan of The Monkees from gaining sentience (which coincidentally falls around their 10th anniversary of 1976, not the MTV catapulted 20th anniversary in 1986) when Boston's channel 56 ran The Monkees tv series in early afternoons back to back with the Banana Splits. Fortunately, my inability to ever meet Davy had no negative effect upon my meeting his fellow bandmates Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz closer to home.

Thanks for all of the wonderful music (some of the album tracks are better than the singles) and for the wonderful memories (everybody remembers the Brady Bunch appearance, does anyone remember the Scooby Doo episodes?). With Davy's passing my winning concert tickets to their 45th anniversary tour in June 2011 are that much more special, as the tour came to an abrupt, confusing end shortly thereafter.

Rest in peace, Artful Dodger

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Lobster I Can Fight, A Fire I Cannot Part II

You might remember in July 2010 the condo building next door to the one I live in suffered a devastating fire, and to this day occupants are finally just moving back home. If I thought (as I did then) that was too close for comfort imagine my heartbreak when I heard a young woman crying outside my window minutes before my alarm clock chimed for me to get ready for work the other night.

Then I heard the sirens followed by "What's on fire?"

Off went the covers, on went the work clothes (though I WAS in violation of dress code as since I would likely be evacuated I was going to save an X-Men shirt or two), grabbed my SD cards, cooler and work bag and a pair of special model train locomotives before the FD was pounding on my door.

So it was happening again, but now in my own building.

It was surrealistic being inside a burning building checking all of cats's hiding spaces to evacuate them, staying just ahead of the fire which clawed its way through a neighbor's kitchen soffet. By the Lord's grace I was making it out of my bedroom with the last cat when thin white/gray smoke began filling my hallway. Time was up, no saving the bishoujo, photos, trains or music beyond the mp3 player I tossed in my bag.

"I'm out, I'm out!" I yelled to the fire department awaiting me and the cats, as I bled from the scratches the neurotic Himalayan gave me on face, neck and hands.

Once I'd booked off of work and called my family to assure them I was okay I mentally checked off what meant the most to me to salvage after this disaster.

Fortunately, not all was lost. In fact, five hours after the 911 call myself and six other units were cleared for occupancy -- the blaze confined to the originating unit and the one above. Vent holes had been cut into the building, but it was spared significant water damage due to the fire being caught so quickly.

Of course, my place smells like I sat around the campfire, but I'm so lucky that's all. There's no visible smoke damage and no water damage from the fire. (And so soon after replacing that comics run, phew).

I'm concerned though, as I had the water heater flood in December and the fire scare the other night; I fear there'll be a plague of locusts in February! (Just kidding)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rebuilding the Archives

The Communications Dept partook in a Secret Santa exchange this past Holiday Season. Even at work, people know I like superheroes and my Secret Santa gifted me with a gift certificate to one of the many comic shops located in the region where I live.
Uncanny 354 Variant
Naturally, on one of my days off I took advantage of the gift certificate to fill in the holes of my X-Men collection; to replace what I sold when I was married, thinking that part of me was past (and it was at the time, but it's come back). I'm happy to say I've completed the run I originally had of Uncanny X-Men when I first started collecting the title with #319 (and originally stopping around #397 or so). Now more than eight years since I last had these issues, and one year since I started grabbing up back issues again, I have back what I first had in one of the titles (only a dozen or so more to rebuild!)