Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Conquering our fears and pain

My beloved pet Wilma was in a car accident 2 weeks ago and died. This has shattered our family. I had to write that down, because if you hide away from saying or doing something, it gains power over you. It’s my first loss/trauma since my recovery from my breakdown and it has been both hard and also a yardstick of how I am doing these days. SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie are grieving and that is as much as I would say, since theirs is not my story. As the shock passes, the pain subsides and only the sadness and loss remain, it becomes necessary to get on the with the business of living again. We’ve ate healthier, we’ve played games, we’ve laughed, we’ve remembered, we’ve cried and then laughed again.

I’m not going to say much more than that on this subject, needless to say, family and friends have been amazingly supporting and understanding. A particular shout out to my mum and dad, who when I and my family needed them, were there in a flash and that meant a lot more to me than I expected.

So this had derailed much of what I wanted to say and do this month, but what I have done is get back to an older goal.

I have started driving.

I got a provisional license at 17/18 as most people did, but it was one of those things that people wanted for me and I felt that I should do, but it was never really something I wanted to do. In my 20’s I was always walking distance from anywhere and struggled money-wise, so it wasn’t a priority then. It my early 30’s I was enjoying my life with the MIGHTY Rosie, so it became something I would get around to. Then my breakdown happened. I have talked about that at length before, but needless to say depression and anxiety don’t really do well behind the wheel. But it’s something I should do. For my boy, it’s additional stuff for me to show him that learning is good. For my wife, it should take pressure of her to be the wheels all of the time. In case of emergency, it’s a useful life skill to have and mostly for me, since it’s a goal I can achieve and something I have been so very anxious about for so very long. I had a lesson booked last week, but as you can imagine, circumstances aside, I’d not be in the best place to try it last week. So last night I did.

It was terrifying, confusing, very alien and yet also amazing. All at the same time. Many if not most of you can and do drive, so this is no revelation, but to me, this was something of profound moment. Clutches, gears and the myriad things to keep an eye on seem to be a weakness so far, but my steering was good and only stalled the once. At 42, sometimes I have this feeling of I should have already done this with a lot of stuff, like I wasted a lot of my life. But my life led me to the MIGHTY Rosie, to being the man I am today, the dad I am and whoever I will be from here on in, so it’s time to add to that man. Terrified as I was yesterday, I did it. Scared as I am for the next one, I’ll do that too. Then the next and the next.

I have been on a journey for a while, now I am on a new one and to be honest, I am quite excited about where this will take me.

This month knocked me down, it broke me. I have wept, I have been comforted and comforted others, but I will as I have before get back up.

I have mantras and aphorisms which I share with my son.

“When do we fail?” I ask

“When we give up?” he replies

“So if we don’t give up, we never fail.”

If we don’t give up, we never fail. No matter what we are up against as long as we keep going, we can conquer the things that beset us.

I will get back to more regular posts, but right now, I just needed to say what I just said.

Love to you all internet people.

The Munky will return.

 

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Posted in Miscellaneous

Loss

Due to a loss in the family, there was no post this weekend and I don’t know what will happen next.

The MIGHTY Rosie and SuperSam are fine, but grieving.

There’s more I want to say, but there aren’t words right now and I don’t think Morevember will carry on.

 

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Stuck in the attic

Hello again internet people. I have started this post (but won’t finish it) from my new desk in my new office, in the attack of our shopfront office. This job has been at times an exercise in what I can have taken from me. I had an office, then another, then told to share, than put in a room with 16 other people. I had two printers and bit by bit was down to sharing a printer with 15 other people, despite my output being higher, not lower. Wednesday, that printer stopped working. I also lost phones for the day and now my new desk is a foot shorter. But all in all, have gained more than I have lost.

That left me with oft used idea of stripping your life down to the basics. The idea of removing anything from your life that you don’t actually need. There’s a degree of simplicity to that, which does appeal. I have been thinking about it on and off for a while, again inspired by work’s decisions and I have come to a decision about that.

I don’t agree.

While pruning the unpleasant elements of your life is a good idea, there are many people who I wouldn’t miss it they stayed out of my orbit, but the idea of only having the essentials seems rather well restrictive. It also sounds like survival. I survived for 36 years, until that broke me, after a long fight and a longer journey back, I have started to do more than survive. I have started to live. I have the things in my life I need. I have a job, a roof over my head and a loving family. But I also have wants as well. I don’t need to have a weekend away every now and again, but I want them, I appreciate them. After a day or two without it, I don’t need any phone, but being able to talk to the MIGHTY Rosie at any time is still a great thing. So yes, be mindful of the things you need, but also be kind to yourself. But the book you want to read, wear the clothes you feel comfy in, or pretty in. Drink the nicer coffee, eat the tasty food, walk in the sunshine. Survival is essential, but living is the goal.

Want is okay, because unless you are hurting someone, even yourself, what is the harm?

Be good to yourself.

Live.

 

Posted in Podcasts, Shared Stuff

Podcast a-go-go2 

My history with podcasts is almost inexorably linked to my battle with depression over the past 6 years.

But one podcast predates it, the excellent House to Astonish. Two men in Scotland talk comics with insight, humour and more than a little snark. They’ve been at it for ten years and this is the anniversary episode. I finished listening to it today and knew it was one to share.
[House to Astonish] Episode 168 – House to As10ish with Al Kennedy and Paul O’Brien

http://podplayer.net/?id=58539081 via @PodcastAddict

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous, The MIGHTY Rosie

Holiday Hangover

I spent this weekend in the Lake District, myself, SuperSam, the MIGHTY Rosie and Wilma the WTF dog. I was relaxed, played games, saw ‘The Nature’ and read a ton of comics. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday, with my favourite people, surrounded by beauty and far from the stresses of life.

And then you return. Some of the reasons why that was hard related to stories that are not mine, but needless to say, these last few days have been very trying. From my phone being unresponsive, despite the alarm ⏰going off every ten minutes. My fitbit went missing and my Tuesday started to off the rails long before 9. I got to work and my anxiety was high enough, but was cut off from the MIGHTY Rosie without my phone. I think I rely on that thing too much. I have had a rough one, preparing for our department to move to an office upstairs and it’s a bit of stress that I can do without. I have struggled with low moods, anxiety and more than a little exhaustion.

I have been here before, the edge of that darker place in your head, but I am not going to fall in. One Monday, I put my son’s bed together with the MIGHTY Rosie. I have booked a weekend away in February and have got myself a comfy chair for my new desk. It’s the little wins that get me through the day. On the good days they are the norm, on the less than good, they are the light at the end of the tunnel. I have needed that light this week and because of it, I know I will be okay.

It is going to be okay, I think I have started to really believe that.

Okay, this was rambling mess, something more fun tomorrow I think.

Posted in Comics n Stuff

Rest in Peace Mr Lee

​After my post yesterday, I checked FaceBook and hear the news that at 95 Stanley ‘Stan Lee’ Lieber had passed away. Without a thought I started writing and this is what I came up with.

Of all the celebrity deaths, this is the one that effects me. Stan ‘The Man’e was a legend who influenced and affected so many people over his life. His work enriched many childhoods including mine. His ideas, his collaborations with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko changed the face of popular culture in ways that may never be calculated. To me, his stories taught me to never give up, to treat everyone well, despite colour, creed or origin. His stories taught me wonder, the idea of other worlds and responsibility. His creations litter my home, my memory my DVD collection. My first comic was Original X-Men 1, reprinting X-Men from 1963. He changed comics forever, working with the best creators of the age to create a fictional shared universe that is still thriving today over 55 years later. He was the ambassador for comics and the voice of Marvel for many years. When comic book movies became a bigger thing, it was always the idea that the movie only starts when Stan Lee shows up.
Thank you Stan, you created a world for us all to play in and give us a direction to head for, onward and upwards towards glory.

Excelsior.

Posted in Podcasts, Shared Stuff, TV Stuff

Podcast a-go-go

As I wrote in a previous post, my affection for Star Trek goes quite a way quite back. The Next Generation was where I really grew to love Trek and one of my favourite podcasters has recently done an episode of his excellent Palace of Glittering Delights all about TNG and it really is worth a listen. TNG was never a perfect show, but with over 180 episodes and 4 movies, there was some great stuff in.here and he looks at 10 he enjoyed. I have an order I listen to podcasts in, being so behind on my subscriptions, but Palace always jumps the queue.
[Palace of Glittering Delights] 101 – Top Ten (ish) Treks II

http://podplayer.net/?id=58481977 via @PodcastAddict

Posted in TV Stuff

I believe in redemption: Or I enjoyed Star Trek Discovery

Trek and Me:

As a longtime fan of sci-fi and similar genres, it’s not going to be shocking information that I was a fan of Star Trek. I was for many years a Trekkie and feel no more embarassment about that, than I do anything else I am a fan of. By that I mean, deeply embrassed in the past, but a lot less concerned about people’s opinion now. Whilst Star Trek was on telly when I was younger, it wasn’t until The Next Generation started in 1987 that I really started to get into Star Trek. With it’s hopeful future, high concept sci-fi ideas and cool technology, there was a lot for me to like, it even had a number of alien characters for my less socially confident self could identify with. The show went from strength to strength and this spin off itself had a spin off, the excellent Deep Space 9. It peaked at that point and for me the less said about Voyager and Enterprise the better. For many years Trek was the only game in town for quality TV sci-fi, so it kind of got away with coasting from time to time, when other sci-fi TV and films started getting better, Trek didn’t keep up, so when Enterprise called it a day at 4 years old, I was quite sanguine about the whole thing, we got over 28 seasons of enjoyable TV and ten or so movies, I think we did alright and so Star Trek kind of went away.

Years went by and then the JJ Abrams reboot happened, recastings and hand-wavy alternate universes gave us new Trek, but with all the old names and it was …good. The first film stands up as a good space opera movie, with action and some small amount of pathos and a little fun here and there, but didn’t feel like Trek, the second one wasn’t better in that regard, the third one, Star Trek Beyond, felt a little more like real Star Trek, but the writing was on the wall and with all sorts of problems with the casting and the like, it felt like movie Trek was about to go the way of TV Trek and I was okay with that, Star Trek was a TV thing anyway, so it not being on at the pictures was no great loss, I mean with the MCU and Star Wars doing so well, it wasn’t as if I didn’t have enough to fill up my Blu-Ray collection.

But really, Star Trek was and really should be a TV show, it was more cerebral, more episodic and was made to have a large cast, that didn’t really need a star. Then we heard the news, Star Trek was coming back to the small screen on a streaming service, then the horror for the non-Americans, it was a streaming service we didn’t get. Fortunately the ever expanding Netflix got the international nights and along with all the old shows, we got something unexpected, for the first time in ten years, new Trek on TV. For the first time in a while, Star Trek was exciting again.

The show itself.

Warning, spoilers

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Set just before the Original series, in the 2250’s, this was the story of Michael Burnham, the adopted daughter of Sarek of Vulcan, who had become the 1st officer of the USS Shenzhou under it’s captain Philippa Georgiou. Whilst surveying a binary star system, the ship encounters Klingons. These Klingons under the leadership of zealot T’Kuvma are trying to unite the great houses of Quo’nos and the best way to do that is to find a common foe, in this case the United Federation of Planets. Michael sees this heading towards a fight and tries to strike first, to avoid diplomacy and meet the Klingons as they would meet them. This goes badly and this ill-advised course of events, leads to a state of war between the Federation and the Klingon empire, which was of course what T’Kuvma wanted all along. After shooting her superior officer and her attempts to make things right getting her captain killed, Michael is arrested for treason, stripped of her commission and sentenced to prison for the rest of her life, all as the Federation she did this all for is plunged into a war that Starfleet (mostly at this point being explorers rather than soldiers) is ill-equipped to fight.

6 Months later, she is on a shuttle being moved to another ship, when it’s attacked by a Klingon vessel and is rescued by the USS Discovery, under the command of Gabriel Lorca, who see’s Michael as useful to him. Michael is uneasy, seeing many of her old crew on Discovery, including it’s 1st officer is Mr Saru, her old subordinate on the Shenzhou. Lorca offers her a chance a redemption, a way to win the war and explore the universe once more. She’s given quarters, which she shares with an incredibly chatty cadet called Tilly and an assignment in engineering with the less than cheerful Lt Paul Stamets. The first season of Discovery is essentially Michael’s redemption, her second chance to do the right thing, for the right reasons.

There’s the usual easter eggs, with appearances by Spock’s parents, Harry Mudd as well as many mentions of familar worlds and races, but there’s also a lot of new. The uniforms are not the old two piece bright colours and the Klingons also get quite the new look. There’s a bleaker tone, as if a brighter world has been tarnished by war, but still yearns to gleam. We also get looks as what it means to be a human raised by aliens, what war does to good people and also how compassion for our enemy might be the only thing that seperates us from them. We see matter of fact depictions of gay marriage, sensitive handlings of post traumatic stress disorder and what different people are okay living with in order to keep themselves and their way of life alive.

It isn’t Star Trek of old, it isn’t Rodenberry’s way, but it is compelling, it is interesting and it is a welcome return to Trek on TV. It starts well, takes several twists and turns and ends up as single season that tells an interesting story about redemption, about principles and about compassion.

This could have been a disaster (cough Enterprise cough) but instead was a thoughtful 15 part story that showed me that my love of Star Trek was an ongoing thing, rather than something a bit of my history. When I heard that season 2 was coming in January, I was actually excited about it.

It’s not it’s episodic antecedents, but if you have ever enjoyed Trek, you’ll find a lot of the good is still there, if you haven’t then it’s different enough from what it was to win new fans. It’s easy to find on Netflix here in the UK and it’s well worth seeking out.

Posted in Comics n Stuff

5 Non-Franchise Superhero teams.

And as we approach the weekend.

Avengers, Justice League and the X-Men, all marquee teams of super-people and all subjects of the proliferation problem in 80’s and 90’s comics, with multiple teams and multiple books. From West Coast Avengers, to Young Justice and X-Factor, it’s easy to believe a set of characters is only good if they either are, it’d have spin-off or satellite teams. But often my favourite teams are either one offs, or using a second hand name.

Thunderbolts.

First appearing in an issue of The Incredible Hulk, this was a new team of heroes that rose to prominence in the post-Onslaught era of the Marvel Universe, consisting of Citizen V, Atlas, Meteorite, Techno, Mach-1_and Songbird, they were just new heroes inspired to fill the void left by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. It soon transpired that this was a new incarnation of the Masters of Evil, in reality they were Baron Zemo, Goliath III, Moonstone, Fixer, the Beetle and Screaming Mimi.This series was by Kurt Buziek and Mark Bagley and was a highlight of Marvel’s Heroes Reborn era. After ditching Baron Zemo/Citizen V, this team of criminals tried their hand at actually being heroes, it was well written and had great art and the sense that anything could happen as these bad guys tried to be something more.

WildC.A.T.S. Covert Action Teams

One of the first wave of Image comics in the early 90’s, it was the brainchild of X-title wunderkind Jim Lee and was a sci-fi tale of aliens and alien human hybrids in covert battle with less friendly aliens. It was more sci-fi than super-heroics, but with a memorable line-up: Emp, Void, Maul, Warblade, Grifter, Zealot and Spartan and then several additions and status quo changes, it was never boring.

New Warriors

Another 90’s Marvel title with Mark Bagley art, this time with Fabian Niceza on words. This was a mix of underused and forgotten characters, this was an ‘Arby’s team of young heroes including Firestar, Nova, Speedball, Namorita and Marvel Boy, together with new characters Silhouette and Night Thrasher. There were 90’s cliches paired with a social conscience of a sort and a rapidly changing roster that kept the series interesting and the team was never gone for too long.

Stormwatch

A second tier Image title, it was written by Jim Lee with help from Brandon Choi and had art by Scott Clark, although a consistent art team would be hard to find for this story of a UN run super soldier crisis response team. With very 90’s members such as Batallion, Winter, Hellstrike, Diva, Fuji, Weatherman and Backlash, they were different from what Marvel and DC were doing at the time. Part Avengers, part Star Trek, this was an interesting idea that struggled to find it’s identity after the first few issues and benefitted greatly from a new writer when Warren Ellis took over and retooled the book considerably.

Guardians of the Galaxy

This was a bit obvious for me, rather than the second team with the name that appeared in the mid 00’s, this was a sort of Avengers in the futures with space opera trappings and more than the odd reference to the modern Marvel Universe. The team of Martinex T’Naga, Yondu Udonta, Aleta Ogord, Charlie-27, Nicholette Gold, Starhawk and Vance Astro all became favourite characters of mine, especially when Jim Valentino gave them their own title in 1990. I loved this series so much as one of the first comics that really hooked me. I could write about it all day, but I did a blog about it, which lays it all out quite effectively.

These were 5 teams that weren’t huge sellers or multi-title franchises, but were a lot of fun and I enjoyed each one, more than once.