Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Random Stuff, banging around in my head

I have been having nightmares.

Work stress has got to the point that my subconscious is affected. Nightmares affect sleep, bad sleep drains you, which makes you more susceptible to unhelpful thoughts and low moods, which affect your subconscious, which can lead to nightmares and so on.

There’s a lot to be stressed about, a lot to be afraid of, from the ongoing co-vid19 crisis which seems to be unending to the events across the pond as yet another racist crime committed by law enforcement has caused protests and riots. We are watching a 1st world nation of great prominence and arguably one of the most important nations in the last century devolve right before our eyes. My heart goes out to people of colour over there and their allies and loved ones and hope change comes from this, because it really needs to, we shouldn’t still be here. The people there deserve better.

But last night I got a training session with my personal trainer Ali. We used equipment in his backyard and kept full social distance between us, but I got to use weights, TRXs and also did lunges and today I am SORE!!!!!

There’s so much to be worried about, so much to fear. But we don’t have to consider that the default. I am enjoying the sweet pain today, pain I earned, pain I appreciate. This lockdown has taken so much from me. It’s taken the freedom to move around, my walk to work/school with my son. It’s taken time with my parents, shopping being a casual activity and not some kind of psuedo-military operation and the ability to hug my parents. It’s cost me a couple of weeks away and so on.

I’m not seeing this as any kind of oppression or anything and don’t want my convenience at the expense of someone’s life or anything like that. But it’s a fact that this current situation has taken stuff off me. Last night, having a training session, it felt like I got something back. I’m paying for it today like, but it’s a price worth paying.

Little is better, work is as hellish as it has been with clients and their employees being as dickish as ever, but I got something back last night. Maybe as lockdown restrictions are lowered, we can get more stuff back.

We will be alright.

We are never as alone as we think we are.

Take care of one another and stay safe.

 

Posted in Comics n Stuff

Stuff I have enjoyed: Dan Slott & Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer

I go to work, it’s fairly negative right now. I put on the TV, it’s fairly negative right now. I go out, oh wait no I don’t.

The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to not be cheerful, so I want to do some about positive stuff.

Earlier this year, I was finally able to finish my back issue run of Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer. It was 29 issues which was split over two series that started in March 2014. I missed the boat on it at first, but picked the first few issues up for 50p per issue at a mart and decided to try to get the whole thing. A month or so before lockdown I finally got the whole thing collected and then over a couple of days read them in one go.

You know what, it’s good.

Mike Allred is an artist with a very clean style that looks animated. It’s simplistic in some regards, even cartoonish. It is however very consistent and despite its simplicity is as detailed as anyone else on the scene at the moment. The writer Dan Slott is someone I have a 50:50 opinion of. I have been mixed with his recent Fantastic Four issues and I liked maybe half of his very lengthy work on Spider-Man, but I can see one thing. He is a passionate writer, who clearly loves what characters he writes about.

His Silver Surfer run seems to be the answer to the question, isn’t the Silver Surfer a bit like Doctor Who? Think about it, human looking alien, keeps getting involved with Earth, teams up with human beings, powerful and yet not violent by nature, has an implausible method of transport. Sound familiar? It’s this aspect that Slott leans into, pairing the Surfer with a woman called Dawn. Dawn gets pulled into an alien’s plan to coerce the Surfer into helping them and they start having adventures together.

There’s weird concepts, familiar characters and brand new ones. Dawn becomes the co-star of the book, rather than a supporting character and both of them grow and change because of their association. One thing I do like is that it’s optimistic. It’s hopeful and full of wonder and a nice counterpoint to both the grimgrittydark feeling of most comics and the grimgrittydark feeling of actual reality and part of that is the art, which is mostly the pencils of Mike Allred. The creator of Madman and the artist of the X-Statix version of X-Force, his art is bright, colourful and fun.

Do you remember fun? It’s all so dark sometimes, but from time to time you need some cartoony, some funny, some silly and all of that is here. It’s a fairly contained run of around 30 or so issues, broken up by 2015’s Secret Wars event, but honestly none of that matters. It’s a good comic that isn’t tied quite so heavily to the rest of the Marvel Universe and is very accessible. The art is amazing, consistently throughout and it does tell a complete story. It has heart and consequences and I really enjoyed it.

It’s probably available in trade, it’s easy to find back issue wise and it’s available on Comixology and is well worth checking out.

Anywhere and Everywhere – Hang On!

Posted in TV Stuff

Stuff I have enjoyed: Picard

I go to work, it’s fairly negative right now. I put on the TV, it’s fairly negative right now. I go out, oh wait no I don’t.

The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to not be cheerful, so I want to do some about positive stuff.

I was a kid in the 80’s. That was a bit of a magical time, new technology appearing all the time, some of the best kids TV in years, some of the best toys that went with it and a lot of my childhood was happy. One positive was that there was a guy who drove round the streets where I lived renting video tapes. I watched a lot of films during that era, but one thing I also did was watch my first few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Now, with the clarity of hindsight, I can see the flaws of that show, it’s re-tread scripts and wonky special effects of the early seasons, but to a 12 year old boy, this was magical. So despite the ground-breaking nature of the original series, or that Deep Space Nine is hands down a better show, TNG has a special place in my heart. When it ended, I was sad, but then we got the 4 films of lets say varying quality, but by the end of Star Trek: Nemesis I was glad to say goodbye. But I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t curious about what happened to the crew of the USS Enterprise E and it’s Captain, Jean-Luc Picard.

Clearly, I was not alone.

Amazon released the series earlier this year with a 11 episode run set in the timeline of the Next Generation, but two decades after Nemesis and years after the fall of Romulus depicted in the J.J. Abrams helmed Stark Trek XI. I was apprehensive, there’s been a lot of revival/reunion shows recently. This is often a sign of a lack of new ideas and a slavish devotion to our beloved shows of the past. I was less than keen on the overall idea.

I watched it of course, because I am undeniably a Trekkie.

The show first aired 24 January 2020 and the cast was:-

Patrick Stewart – Jean-Luc Picard

Allison Pill – Dr. Agnes Jurati

Isa Briones – Dahj/Soji

Michelle Hurd – Raffi Muskier

Santiago Cabera – Capt. Cristobal Rios

Harry Treadaway – Narek

Evan Evagora – Elnor

Jeri Ryan – 7 of 9

….and more besides.

This show is the story of Jean-Luc living in isolation on his family’s vineyard. He’s retreated there after storming out of Starfleet years earlier. He’s embittered and angry but is drawn back into things when a woman is on the run and somehow knows he can help. After many years, there’s a mission. He gets a crew, hires a ship and heads out into space. It doesn’t matter that he has a brain anomaly that will most likely kill him soon, someone needs to be saved.

The story was tightly plotted, the dialogue was fairly witty and the tone matched the time it was show, which was pretty bleak, but it’s the performances that make this work and Patrick Stewart is still as strong a presence as he ever was when he first put on the uniform. It played with themes of regret, of seeing something you believed in fail and how anger costs you. One thing it didn’t do is play to the myth of the old hero, who is as strong as he was 30 years ago. This Picard is an old man, struggling to keep up with the younger cast and battling health issues. Then we have the whole anti-artificial intelligence plot and the mystery of Data’s legacy and there’s a really exciting and interesting story going on here. The effects were good, fantastic actions scenes and even a few easter-eggs for the long time fans. I watched it weekly, downloading each episode as it dropped.

If you have ever enjoyed Star Trek it’s worth checking out, but if you haven’t it’s still a very well made TV show with an excellent cast and was a reminder that this franchise can have more than one type of show and work. If they left it at this one, I’d be perfectly content, but am also glad that they haven’t and look forward to whatever they do next and that isn’t a small thing in a TV landscape that I am less and less invested in. It was also sort of adorable that his dog was called ‘Number One.’

Take care of yourself everyone.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

My Marvel Life Presents: Fabulous First Issue – Sensational She Hulk 1

It’s another fabulous first issue

My Marvel Life

Sensational She-Hulk # 1 – January 1989

Why I picked this comic: After the more straight forward and serious minded Nova, I wanted to do something a little bit more silly. It was John Byrne at his height with a series that was chock full of witty dialogue and 4th wall breaking. If Nova was too earnest, this was the antidote.

The Comic Itself: Second chances: written and pencilled by John Byrne with inks by Bob Wiacek.. Jennifer Walters the Sensational She-Hulk is testing her strength and dexterity at a nearby circus. Unbeknownst to her, 2nd string villain team The Headmen have hired the 3rd string villains Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime to learn everything about She-Hulk and her invite was a ruse. Hypnotising her the Ringmaster gets a breakdown of her history. We learn of her past as a lawyer and how her involvement in a case…

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Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Stuff in my head today

It’s been a while internet people. I haven’t had the time, nor really the inclination to write anything for a while, even my regular projects have fallen a bit by the wayside.

Since I last posted, we are still in lockdown, here in Blighty the government has decided to change their official policy from one of clear advice and instruction to vague handwavy suggestions. So instead of stay at home unless you are in a key or essential job, we have go into work if you can’t work at home, but don’t use public transportation. You can go to the park, but you still can’t go and see friends and loved ones at home, you can see a friend in public, but not be close to them. You can go and exercise as much as you want, but there’s no gyms. It has been somewhat confusing. We are getting daily briefings, but less and less actual information is getting across. So lockdown continues, death-tolls rise and we somehow know even less than we did in the past.

It’s been a scary and also somehow boring time and this has created unique mental health stresses in unexpected places. I am still in work, my work is not healthcare essential, but I am a key worker in that I am in financial services and people still want paying in this situation. With my wife (the MIGHTY Rosie) working from home, it wouldn’t be practical for both of us to do so, so I go to work every day as usual. The unusual is the workload, the constant interruptions and the no knowing when things would get back to normal. Giselle the dept manager was off last week, I can understand that, I genuinely can, but it dropped me and the Disney Princess into a huge vat of the brown stuff. It got so bad that she had a bit of what she called a breakdown on Friday. It was difficult to see that, partially because I know how that feels and no one wants to do that in front of people at work. The other reason is that I couldn’t just go over and hug her. She’s not a hugger really and with people I am not close to neither am I, but I would have anyway except for social distancing. The company’s director (also her brother) came in and offered to do all kinds to help, yet when I spend 2 years complaining about how we are understaffed and over worked, nowt. Still it looks like we are getting help and that sounds like a good thing. But whilst most people are working from home or not working, I am working twice as hard as ever and feeling the strain. I get up, go to work, go home for lunch, go back to work, go home. Every day of the week and I have been feeling the strain.

When the announcement came that schools would re-open early June, my primary though was “that’s nice, but my son won’t be going in.” We’ve something like the highest infection rates in Europe and we need to be sending children into places were social distancing won’t be viable. Have you tried keeping 4 year olds away from one another? Try it, it’s like herding cats. Even if children aren’t catching it as much, they’ll still carry it from their homes to one another and this looks likely to increase the rate of infection. Science may not back me up, but it still seems too soon to be doing this and it be safe. It turns out that our city Mayer agrees and Liverpool (along with Hartlepool) have chosen to defy this June return date. Our city has decided not to reopen schools on the basis of public safety. I am in the position of being proud of a political body in this country. That is a bizarre feeling I must admit. The safety and well being of my son has been my focus in this era, getting him to focus on reading and learning while he is off, making sure he keeps social distance from everyone, even his devoted grandparents and trying to manage his hayfever in an increasing warm climate is the thing that I am focused on, so I don’t see him going back to school straight away, even if other kids do. It does make me look like a bit of an anti-vaxxer, but I get the feeling that this is an unprecedented enough situation to get me the benefit of the doubt, I want his life to get back to normal as soon as possible, but never at the expense of his well being and safety.

So these are the things that are going through my head right now, well at least some of them and I felt the need to get these things out there. But here’s the thing, it’s not all doom and gloom and I feel like I need to get some positives out there.

1: My love of comics has made a resurgence, despite all of the local comic shops being closed and the distribution being stopped, I have been re-reading lots of comics as well as using the sales at Comixology to enjoy new things. DC comics have started doing digital first comics, 17-22 page one and done comics that aren’t so continuity heavy and aimed at younger and laspsed readers. They have been really entertaining and at 80p per issue, really well priced. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and the Flash all have one and I have been really enjoying them. I think there is a Swamp Thing and a DC Girls one too, but I haven’t been reading those.

2: Local shops have become a staple of my shopping in a way that they haven’t  been for years. There’s a bakers that sells the cream soda that you used to get from the lemonade van that used to visit the streets where I lived during my childhood and that’s been a lovely slice of my childhood brought back. I have also spent money at a butchers and a fruit and veg shop nearby as well as several corner shops and newsagents, rather than visit Asda or Tesco and deal with queues and shortages. Asda and companies like that will be fine, so these smaller outfits need our support and our £s.

3: Delivery businesses. There are local firms that deliver fruit & veg and others that do cakes and treats and as a result I have had some lovely cupcakes recently. I know I should be eating better right now, but damn that’s been some tasty stress eating.

4: Whilst I have not been able to binge watch TV, I have been able to enjoy what has been available and will be posting about that soon enough, but I have been able to enjoy a re-watch of How I Met Your Mother with SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie, a Power Rangers re-watch with Super-Sam and Grey’s Anatomy with the MIGHTY Rosie. I also watched the ‘documentary’ Chris Claremont’s X-Men, which I found interesting.

5: I have started exercising in the morning, some pull ups, push ups and stuff and now have a fitness tracker on my wrist (wow that’s a high pulse rate) and it’s kept my physical well being close to the front of my mind, which it should have been anyway and that early exercise has helped start my days off well.

6: My people. From the extended family I can only contact via social media, to my family (the aforementioned MIGHTY Rosie and SuperSam together with Lottie the Loopydog) my people have been the best thing about all this. SuperSam is reading stuff that I have given to him and we are walking the dog together and enjoying one another’s company. The MIGHTY Rosie and I are talking more and whilst we are both suffering in our mental health, we are talking about it more and being more of a team than we have in years, a year ago things were falling apart, but now even with the world ending outside our door we are good with and for one another.

7: It’s going to be okay.

I am not by nature an optimist, I suffer from anxiety and depression and as a result the negative is never too far away, but I honestly believe it’s going to all work out. The pandemic has exposed the ‘leaders’ in this world as being as uncaring as we feared, that the system is rigged against us and that all we are in reality all just in it together. But we are all in this together. Strangers say hello from 6 feet away, “Stay safe” has become the new “see you later.” We finally recognise our healthcare workers as the super heroes that they are and we are using social media to care for one another in a way we haven’t been for a long time. These are scary times, people are dying, but this shall pass and one day this will be alright and we will be able to walk in the sun again. We will be okay and if you are reading this, I hope that includes you. Well this random bit of verbal incontinence is done, take care of yourselves.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

My Marvel Life Presents – Fabulous First Issue: The Man Called Nova 1

The next fabulous first issue

My Marvel Life

The Man Called Nova # 1 – September 1976

Why I picked this comic: My previous post was on the dawn of the Silver Age, but as much as the Silver Age was kicked off by DC, this blog is called My Marvel Life, so we also need to look at the birth of the Marvel Age of Comics. The legend of the comic, where Martin Goodman told the dissatisfied Stan Lee to make a team of super-heroes to match DC’s Justice League. Stan wanted to quite, but his wife convinced him to try and write the comic he’d read and if it didn’t work, then quit. Taking the monster comics of the 1950’s and adding a super-hero flavour to it, enabled this epoch making creative team to produce something a little bit special. No Fantastic Four 1, no Marvel. There was no way that I wasn’t going to include…

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Posted in Uncategorized

My Marvel Life Presents -Fabulous First Issue: Showcase 4

The first proper Fabulous First Issue post

My Marvel Life

Showcase 4: October 1956

I picked this because: If you are going to do a blog about 1st issues, then how can you not start with the beginning of the Silver Age and super-hero comics’ comeback.

With the end of WWII, the popularity of the superhero waned, by the late 40’s and early 50’s only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were ongoing concerns at DC Comics. Editor Julius ‘Julie’ Schwartz made the choice to bring some of the other Golden Age characters back, people like the Flash,  Green Lantern, the Atom and Hawkman. He took the names and some of the basic ideas and created a new sci-fi take on these heroes, but none of this would have been done without the first of these, replacing Jay Garrick as the Flash with Barry Allen.  If that hadn’t worked, the entire Silver Age wouldn’t have happened, Timely wouldn’t have become Marvel…

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Posted in Uncategorized

My Marvel Life Presents -Fabulous First Issue: Or look what I made my wife do

From the idiot that brought you Pilot Era

My Marvel Life

I am  a lucky man.

There are many reasons why I can say that and the way the world is at the moment, there are even more than there were before. But the main reason I say this today is because of my wife. I have been married to the MIGHTY Rosie for over a decade and despite our differences, we have been able to share many interests.

One of the ones we don’t really share to the same intensity is comics. Now she has always been supportive of my hobby, to the extent she even helped sort out accommodation and tickets for my trip to Thought Bubble last year. A couple of times she’s even taken a few trades from time to time and enjoyed them.

About 18 months ago, I started a project on TV that blossomed into the blog Pilot Era which is a look at first episodes…

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Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Getting back in.

This year, I took a bit of a break from blogging. It wasn’t intentional, just life sort of gets in the way and all that. Time gets away from you.

Over February, I managed to get back up to date with Pilot Era , but nothing new has been come up with since then. I wanted to get back into writing something, maybe something personal, maybe something geeky, but something nonetheless.

Then the f***ing world ended. The Corona virus has cut a swath across the world, affected countless people and more besides. The response from many nations has been a lockdown. 80% of staff aren’t there, doors are locked, so getting in and out is a pain and I have found my mental health suffering over the increased workload and the overall increase in bad news, frightening statistics and overall sense of gloom.

How can I write about comics and recent TV shows I have enjoyed when all this is going on?

I don’t know, but I can find out. As scary as this thing is and believe me it is scary. When I have colleagues in with me, they talk about how scary this is, the underlying sense of disquiet and impending disaster. For me, that’s a Wednesday. The one upside of all this is that I know how to function when I am afraid, when all seems bleak. I have had to teach Giselle and the Disney Princess about coping techniques, including one I have found most useful. Whenever you feel overwhelmed and the walls are closing in, stop.

Speak outloud: 5 Things you can see.

4 Things you can hear

3 Things you can feel

2 Things you can smell

1 Thing you can taste.

I have used this a couple of times, since this Corona Virus thing has been headline news and I was thanked for sharing it with my colleagues who have had no experience with mental health struggles. I suppose that is going to be the next big problem. We are going to be looking at something of a mental health crisis before too long. I have felt the edges of it encroaching on me, just as they did this time last year, but now I can see it and can talk about it and hopefully head it off, the MIGHTY Rosie and SuperSam have felt effects as well, but that’s not a thing to be discussed here. My parents are well as are my brother and his family, my sister-in-law and her kids and we are in touch often enough.

It’s a strange situation we find ourselves in, but even though we are locked away from one another, we are not. In this era of social media, we can reach out to one another, we can ask how each-other are. We’ve seen sing-songs across streets, I took part in a virtual pub quiz a week or so ago and a dozen or so things aside. We feel the absence of community, but is it absent? Or has our sense of what community is changed? We are isolated, we are socially distancing ourselves, but we can still talk to one another, we can still share our stories and remind one another of hope. This is not going to last forever, we will come out of the other side of this, with the knowledge of who is actually important in society. We forget about the people who make this world run, we pay them little, we ignore them and yet when a healthcare crisis occurs, they are there.

Every Thursday at 8pm, we open our door and clap, a nationwide thunderous applause to those people on the front line of the National Health Service. Those underfunded and over worked souls who care for us, who heal us and provide aid even at their own risk. Seeing people do that, week after week has warmed my heart. I have seen people put notes through doors asking if we need things. In my own road, there have been students going home with universities closed donating the food they would leave behind to anyone who needs it. A handyman we know asking if anyone needs anything when he is out doing essential maintenance, so we can cut down on un-necessary shopping. I have read the news, seen the scum-bags who have used this crisis as an excuse to be worse, but I have seen so many people step up. Leaders fail to lead, but helpers have been helping. It’s been little things, such as printing colouring in sheets to send to people who we know that have kids to keep them entertained, face-timing with my son’s grandparents, because they miss one another and saying hello to anyone in the street, so we know we are not alone.

This is a scary time, can’t get away from that, but I genuinely believe that there is a place beyond this. I believe that this crisis will pass and we will get back to some version of normal. Maybe it’s because I need to believe that, but I believe it nonetheless. We are locked away from one another, but we are not alone. We will get through this, if you are person reading this, that means you. It is these scary times that show us who we are and who we need to be. We need to be physically distant, but socially? No we need to remind one another that we are there. If there is anyone who you can think of that you haven’t heard from in the last few days, a call or a text might mean so much more than usual.

To all those on WordPress, thank you. You have been here for me when I have needed you, something to read, a response when I have read or even just reminding me that I and my family are not as alone as we think. I have rambled, but I need to say something, to not allow this part of my life to go dark. We need to do the things that make us smile, to remind us that we still can. My favourite podcaster on his excellent show Palace of Glittering delights always ends it the same way. “It’s all going to be alright.”

You know what, I think it will be. We can look out for each other, we can care for one another and can love one another.

Now I have rambled enough, I am going to go and give the MIGHTY Rosie a cuddle, like I said do the things that make you smile.