Category Archives: Childhood Memories

A Quick Thought On The Passing of Robin Williams

MorkJust a quick little blurb with my thoughts on the passing of Robin Williams.

First of all, let me just say that I too am a huge fan of his work. I will never forget seeing him for the very first time as Mork on “Happy Days” and following him along on the “Mork and Mindy” spinoff.

As an eleven-year old boy, I also fondly recall begging my parents to take me to see him in “Popeye”, one of his first film roles.

Shortly after graduating high school, I spent the summer working as an usher at a movie theater. Coincidentally, it was also the same year that “Dead Poet’s Society” was released. So in between sweeping up popcorn and picking up stuck wads of bubblegum, I must have watched that movie no less than fifty times – and never got tired of it. There was just something about Robin Williams’ performances that were so engaging.

I can’t say that I’ve felt the same way about every one of his films. Although I did enjoy him in “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Good Will Hunting” (the film that won him the Academy Award), I didn’t really care for “What Dreams May Come” or “Hook”.

I was one of the many who was shocked when I heard the news that Robin Williams had committed suicide. How could someone so larger than life and with the ability to bring joy to so many people be so sad inside that the only escape he could find was through the final solution? I am not a doctor and have never met Williams but do count my blessings that I don’t have to deal with the issues that plagued him for years.

I also find it “funny” – truthfully, a bit sad that there are people in this world who (also without having known him) are either assuming to know why Mr. Williams decided to take his own life or are using this tragedy as yet another means to forward their own agendas.

There are some in the news media who are actually calling Robin Williams a coward for “feeling sad” and for taking his own life. Which makes me wonder if these same pundits would say the same about a veteran returning from Iraq who finds it unbearable to assimilate back into civilian life? And then we have the ones who see Williams’ death as a metaphor for a political party. As if suffering from severe depression is similar to that of being a liberal. How sad it is that these people are given a nation wide platform to spew ignorance and hate while a family is grieving.

I’ll admit, I too was selfish when I first heard the news of Robin’s passing. I immediately wanted to rent all of those movies I loved just to see Robin Williams one more time. I wanted to watch that episode of “Happy Days” again. The one where he challenges Richie Cunningham and the Fonz. Yes, even though that part of my own life had moved on, I still wanted Robin Williams to be here.

DPS

We sometimes lose sight of the fact that the people we love and the ones who’ve touched our lives will not be with us forever. Instead, we tend to see them as kind of like our favorite pair of jeans or our go-to security blanket. Something that can just lie around for years in a dresser (or on a DVD shelf) and only be pulled out when we need them for comfort.

Ironically, today (August 13) also happens to be the 30th anniversary of the death of my grandfather. The first time I ever had to experience the loss of someone dear to me. So I will use Robin Williams’ death as a reminder that everything in life is only temporary, and will find comfort in the words he spoke in one of my favorite films from 25 years ago…

Carpe Diem.

A Ribbon

photo 2Last night I found myself fumbling through a collection of “stuff” that had been accumulating for years down in nether regions of my basement.

I’m sure it’s something that everyone does from time to time — going through weathered cardboard containers of old photographs, love letters and school yearbooks that clutter basements and attic crawl spaces. Of course, some of these “memories” I had told myself to dispose of years ago and yet, here they still are.

I suppose it’s just as well. It’s always nice for me to remember the curious, artistic, naive child I once was am. And by now you should be fully aware of my affection for life milestones. If there’s an anniversary of a memorable day, I love to talk about it – and today is no different. Because buried deep beneath the mounds of 1970’s comic books, VHS tapes and teenaged poetry I discovered a ribbon. And not just any regular old run-of-the-mill ribbon mind you. This was a single, purple-colored ribbon with the words “Porter School 1978-1979 – 1st” emblazoned upon it.

I tried to remember what huge endeavor I must have overcome 35 years ago to achieve this great glory. Fortunately, there was a tag affixed to the ribbon which gave me the answer.

photo 1It was near the last day of fourth grade – June 5th, 1979 to be exact. My elementary school had a fun-filled day planned at a nearby park. Kids competed with each other in games of skill like the egg toss and three-legged race – and to each victor there went a win, place or show ribbon!

This particular award I won by besting at least a hundred students in the Sack Race. (Ok, that’s a bit embellished, but to a nine-year old boy who had come in first place for the very first time, it felt like I had just won a marathon).

This ribbon is also significant because it was the final year of school before they tore down Porter Elementary. A school that had stood for nearly 88 years in Easton’s south side but by this point had become obsolete and a bit of an eye sore. By fall, I’d find myself being bussed across the city limits to Palmer Elementary School and away from my typical routine of walking three blocks to school every day. It was the first time in my life that I had experienced such a drastic change from my normal, comfortable schedule.

Porter School (Circa 1979)

Porter School (circa 1979)

What’s ironic is that in my discovery of the 1st place ribbon, I also stumbled upon another award I had won. It was exactly one year to the day of my victory on the grid-iron that my fifth grade class placed second in the Silent Spelling competition of 1980. Yet through all of the other triumphs that would follow, nothing from my childhood tops that final end of school victory at Porter Elementary.

Second Place exactly one year later.

Second Place – exactly one year later.

Busing to schools quickly became the new norm. Then there were school lockers, late bells, final exams, adolescence, girls, graduation…. you get the picture. Every year more and more responsibility and every year the award (much like its blue color that slowly became purple) faded further and further into history.

Looking back, winning that ribbon was a wonderful achievement. But I don’t think I kept it around after all this time simply because I won the Sack Race in fourth grade. No, the real reason this ribbon still exists thirty-five years later is because it will always remind me of an innocence I once had.

I Wanna Go Back

Me“I wanna go back and do it all over, but I can’t go back I know.”

“I Wanna Go Back” was a song written thirty years ago by Danny Chauncey, Monty Byrom and Ira Walker for their band Billy Satellite. It was the band’s debut single and peaked at #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

But it wasn’t until two years later when Eddie Money covered the song on his 1986 platinum album “Can’t Hold Back” that a then seventeen-year old boy man finally stood up and took notice.

On a side note: I recently asked Money why he decided to include a version of the song on his album and he said “Because I recall hanging out on Friday night. The first slow dance. Hoping that I’ll get it right…C’mon, you can’t get a better lyric than that!”

For me though, the song resonated about innocence lost and the longing for the impossible: a return to a much simpler, less complicated time. Of course in 1986, I had no experience in such matters and absolutely no desire to return to anywhere. Every day for me was new and exciting.

Here’s what a typical week for me was like in 1986:

It was the summer when I got my first real car. A 1973 Toyota Corona. A laughable clunker when I think about it now, but it was my Rolls Royce then.

Weekly guitar lesson: Shredding on everything from AC/DC to Zeppelin.

Dreams of being a rock star: Heck, it even says so on my yearbook picture!

High School: Which started out every morning with Concert Choir and also included Music Theory and Art in addition to the mandatory English and Math.

“I recall hanging out on Friday night”

Friday always…ALWAYS meant going to the mall and perusing through the latest album releases at the record store. I’ll admit, I was also one of those habitual bachelors who passed by the Orange Julius in hopes of seeing a gaggle of cute girls. Then using the last fifty cents of my lawn mowing money trying to obtain the high score on Centipede in the arcade and if I was lucky, one of those “out of reach” girls would be playing a game right next to me. {SIGH}

“Back then I thought that things were never gonna change”

So, thirty years after Billy Satellite originally released it, what was it that made me think of the song this morning? I suppose it was the culmination of everything that’s been going on in the world in recent days. Here are just a few examples. Take your pick:

1. Russia escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

2. Elected representatives voting their party rather than the people they’re supposed to represent without fear of repercussion.

3. Terrorist attacks throughout the world.

4. The media’s never-ending quest to fear monger the weather and make the slightest storm out to be doomsday.

5. Neglected and abused animals, women, children and veterans.

But despite what your local newspaper, talk radio or favorite extreme Facebook group might say, the real problem with this world isn’t the fault of one particular country, political party or extended forecast. Rather, the real problem is we, the people. We’re the ones who are to blame for the mess that we’re in. And nothing showcases this example better than The Walking Dead. Yes, that’s right. The zombie show.

In a post-apocalyptic world where it’s just humans and undead walking around, the humans can not seem to overcome their own desire for power and greed in order to survive. Instead of pulling together for a common purpose (like finding out what caused the apocalypse or better still, how to cure it), they’d rather build loyalties and fight skirmishes with both humans and zombies in order to pillage whatever they can and gain an advantage. The undead themselves are actually just pawns in their cruel game. Is it too far-fetched to believe that if this happened it real life, that’s the way we would react?

The answer to fixing our problems is so simple, so why can’t we do it? It all starts (and ends) with US.

People often wonder why I still have a fascination with 80’s music, Godzilla and breakfast cereal and I could ramble off a dozen reasons about how it’s cool, or how delicious a bowl of Lucky Charms is. But perhaps the best reason of all is because it reminds me of a much simpler time. A time when I didn’t have to care. At least, not as much as I do now.

Sure, I know now that things will never be the same… but I wanna go back.

Five Things I Think: Thanksgiving Edition

turkeyThis Thursday, millions of American families will once again come together for the annual tradition of watching football and devouring as much tryptophan as possible. I too will put forth my own best effort in an eager attempt to fall into a deeper state of food coma.

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday has always been a particular favorite, especially while growing up. I have fond memories of my grandmother rising early Thanksgiving morning and beginning the process of stuffing the bird and making side-dishes. Aside from getting the turkey out to thaw the night before, nothing was ever done or prepared ahead of time. On the contrary, everything was done on the actual Thanksgiving day.

By mid-morning, every nook and cranny of our kitchen would be cluttered with empty bags or cans of vegetables and cranberry sauce. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be slowly winding down and I would be glued to our 19″ portable TV just waiting for a Kermit the Frog or Superman balloon to float down the streets of Manhattan.

Pies of many different varieties would be cooling on the stove and the smell of pumpkin and spice would begin to fill my senses. I remember looking outside of our kitchen window and seeing the last of the brown, wilted leaves falling from the trees and realize that the year was officially beginning to wind down. A feeling of home and family would wash over me as the cold winds of November blew across our little South Side Easton home. The heat given off from Nan’s all-day cook fest would be more than enough to warm a pilgrim army on their way to their own bountiful celebration. Looking back now, it surely WAS home.

As you can see, there are many things that I remember about the holiday. But as we all prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving 2013, and before I recall all the years I challenged my brother for wishbone supremacy, I’d like to share with you the five favorite memories I have about Thanksgiving while growing up.

5. Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special: It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without ol’ Chuck and his pals. The “wedge” between Great Pumpkin (my favorite of the series) and Charlie Brown Christmas, watching this show was a treat. Snoopy duking it out with the chair was hilarious and making popcorn for Thanksgiving? Well that’s just sheer genius in my book.

4. Godzilla Marathons on Channel 9. Laugh all you want, but this was one of the highlights of turkey day for me. Godzilla was actually the predecessor to MMA if you really think about it. You knew that when the big guy met the Smog monster or some other nefarious creature, there was more to it than just a desire to kick the crap out of each other. No, those guys in rubber suits really wanted to kill each other.

For me, nothing compared to the idea of filling my plate mile-high with buttered mashed taters, stuffing, beans and one of the drumsticks from the turkey and then scurrying over to the tube to watch my boy go toe to toe with King Kong. Channel 9 out of New York used to run marathons of Godzilla movies all weekend long and it didn’t get much better than that.

peace_candle3. The Peace Candle. The day after Thanksgiving is always the busiest shopping day of the year as hordes of crazy people line the stores to find an elusive $50 laptop. You know, the stores that only have two in stock at that price, but 600 people out to get it.

But Black Friday is also the night the 106-foot tall Civil War monument in the center-square of my hometown is lit up and transformed into a giant candle. Dedicated to all the men and women who served or are serving our country, it also represents one of the best meanings of Christmas: Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Man.

2. Easton/P’burg Football and Bonfire.  Unless you were born and raised in the area this one probably won’t mean anything to you. Every Thanksgiving morning for the past century, our high school football team and their cross town (actually cross-state) rival battle it out on the gridiron for football supremacy. And every night prior to the big game, Easton would light a huge bonfire at the high school to rally the troops. This is the one thing, aside from graduation that any student of Easton looks forward to their senior year.

It certainly wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without this tradition and I remember listening to it on a crappy old AM radio we had lying around. Sometimes, even on the clearest of Thursdays, you could barely hear the game amidst the static of the signal, but it didn’t matter.

And now the number one memory I have about Thanksgiving growing up:

1. Family:  Aside from the shows, the football, the parade and the turkey, my favorite Thanksgiving memories growing up are about family. The best ones being spent with my grandmother and disabled grandfather. He had suffered a stroke and due to his paralysis was unable to join us downstairs, so we would always bring Thanksgiving to him. Some of the happiest times of my childhood were spent sitting on the couch next to him breaking bread (and if I was REALLY lucky, getting him to watch Godzilla with me).

Although nowhere near the same now, I suppose I can still thankfully celebrate these “traditions” every year. DVDs can be put in and the football game and Peace Candle ceremony can be attended. But even though technology evolves and the participants in the football game change, one thing will always remain.

So, as you gather around the table to continue your own Thanksgiving traditions, my wish is that you be surrounded by good food, good health, good memories and most of all…family.

My Problem With Gandalf

gandalfThe other day I watched a video clip from director Peter Jackson’s upcoming movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; part two in a trilogy of films based on the classic 20th century novel by J.R.R Tolkien.

Jackson, as you may know, was also the director of The Lord of The Rings trilogy of films (the sequel to The Hobbit) which netted him Oscar nominations for all three, as well as the coveted Best Picture Award for the final film “The Return of The King”.

The Hobbit is one of my favorite stories of all time, and one of the few books I like to re-read every few years. Seeing this awe-inspiring video and realizing that the new movie was coming lit the fire for me, so I once again decided take the plunge. But as I dove into my worn, weather-beaten paperback copy of The Hobbit, I quickly became reacquainted with the same gnawing feeling in my gut that happens every time I read it (or any one of the other “Rings” books for that matter).

I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy worlds with dragons, wizards and trolls. Perhaps it’s the chivalry of noble men with magic rings or the notion that good always triumphs over evil that keeps me coming back. Or maybe it’s the fact that I was consumed with playing Dungeons and Dragons growing up. In any case, I love stories about bands of brothers who stick together on a journey and see it through to the end.

And that’s where my problem with Gandalf comes in.

Gandalf is the wizard in the story who “nudges” poor little Bilbo Baggins (the hobbit) on his journey with a bunch of dwarves to slay a dragon and obtain a ransom of wealth. Gandalf is one of those dudes who can pretty much destroy the whole damn world if he wants to. So why he seems content to send little people out on a dangerous quest is a mystery.

But it’s not the fact that he takes hobbits and dwarves off to fight dragons that upsets me. It’s the fact that Gandalf also likes to play “Now you see me, Now you don’t” that really pisses me off.

You see, Gandalf is one of those guys who likes to get everyone together, tells them how horrible the journey is going to be and even promises to go with them on what seems like an impossible quest. Then at some point early on during the course of the adventure, he conveniently pulls the disappearing act, and his 23 skidoo tends to occur just after an early battle. Gandalf will say something like: “Urgent matters to attend to, if you must know” or some other such nonsense. And no amount of tears or pleading from the little guys will make him change his mind.

What’s worse than Gandalf actually leaving the group is the fact that he somehow “magically” returns dozens of chapters later, just in time for the final battle and to obtain a share of the glory. Then all the way home Gandalf never has to leave again. Nope, travels with Bilbo every step of the way for months at a time. WTF?

As I finished the last page where Gandalf and Bilbo are laughing about their “adventure” together, I couldn’t help but imagine if something like that happened today. Suppose you and a team of others were building a state of the art high-rise building. Early on, your best crew member (Gandalf) leaves for no reason, but then comes back months later to hammer the final nail and claim he was a part of it. Instead of gold and glory, I’d be willing to wager Gandalf would be sporting a black eye.

Oh, you may have fooled the hobbits and the dwarves Mr. Gandalf, but not me. I’m on to you wizard.

Cars

I’m sure the last thing you’d probably expect to see me do is waste a blog post talking about some of the cars I’ve owned over the years. But, I’m very nostalgic (as most of you already know) and considering that it’s been more than a quarter century since I really came into my own as a solo driver, I decided to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about two of the first automobiles that got me around on the highways and byways of this land that I love.

corona

After you first receive your official drivers license, one of the coolest things you can do is go used-car shopping with your parents. There are aisles and aisles of horsepower as far as the eye can see, and having a say as to what car you’ll be showing off at school is one of the most important social decisions any new conqueror of the K-turn can have.

My very first car was a gray 1973 Toyota Corona wagon that my Mom purchased for $500 (along with some money I had made from working at McDonalds). It was 1986 and truth be told, I didn’t even care what kind of engine was under the hood. Four? Six? Eight cylinders? None of that nonsense even mattered to me. For all I knew, it could’ve had hamsters running in those wheel thingies for power (and if you must know, sometimes the car really did seem to drive that way).

As new drivers often do, I drove my gray Corona everywhere. Always looking for any excuse or opportunity to take it on some errand, whether up the street or across town. And considering that gasoline was around .89 cents a gallon at the time, it only made sense. Yes sir, once I became legal walking and bicycle riding went the same route as the dinosaur as far as I was concerned.

I still remember the very first day I drove it to school too. With my trusty neighbor Mike riding shotgun, we drove the back roads of Easton in the early morning sunshine. Windows down and the radio blasting Ozzy, we slowly made our way into the upper parking lot of Easton High School.

Once parked, we gathered our brown paper bag covered text books and made our way inside, making sure to give a salute to the poor unfortunates who had just arrived via the dingy, yellow school bus. It was the least I could do to let them know I still cared a bit for their plight.

Sadly, my beloved Corona began to deteriorate over the course of the school year. In December, the headlights just stopped working for no apparent reason. The following March, the right front fender began rusting off and peeling away. Fortunately for me, duct tape was the same color as my car and worked well to hold things together, but rust eventually would become my Corona’s worst enemy. At one point, the passenger side door would not open at all and in order to get in you literally had to pull a “Dukes of Hazzard” and climb through the window.

Shortly before graduation, the poor Toyota was involved in a wreck (would you believe I was turning into on coming traffic and someone just hit me?) Sadly, it was time to say good-bye to my beloved friend.

But that was when fate stepped in.

Because around that same time, my Aunt sold her well maintained 1974 Ford Torino to my brother. Bro had been driving the car for a few months, but started moving on to Mach 1 Mustangs and pick-up trucks. In a true example of brotherly love, he entrusted his beloved Torino into my care.

torino

I was so in love with this car that I even had my picture taken next to it right before I went to attend graduation and get my HS diploma.

This car provided me quality transportation for many months post high school; being my trusty steed on youthful excursions to the mall and spending late nights parked at the Starlite Drive-Inn watching movies.

But one evening, while coming home from the mall with a bunch of friends disaster struck. I remember we were driving on the highway, just a few miles from home when I heard this blaringly loud “pop” and the engine light came on. The car was slowing down rapidly, and it felt as though I had just run over some huge piece of metal. I was fortunate to get the car off of the busy highway and onto the shoulder just as the engine completely shut off and would not re-fire.  All of the love I once had for this car immediately turned into rage.

A day later, after the Torino had been towed back to the house, my brother freaked out on me. He just couldn’t understand how his well maintained 14 year old car had suddenly blown up without warning. He did some quick checking of things under the hood and then asked me the one question that to this day I still don’t have a proper answer for:

“WHY DIDN’T YOU EVER CHECK THE OIL??”

Oil? OIL? I had driven the car for months and months and honestly, the thought of checking the oil level had never occurred to me. In my defense though, this was 1988 and you would think technology had developed enough to at the very least have a warning light come on to alert me that the engine was almost out of oil. But it wasn’t meant to be. Not a drop of oil was found in the engine and it had seized; blowing a piston into the crankshaft and destroying it completely. The car was dead.

The formerly “well-maintained” Ford Torino would now sit in silence on the hill outside of our home until I could afford the $300 to put a replacement engine into it. But even with the engine replaced, the Torino never ran quite the same again and, much like it’s predecessor, eventually went to junk car heaven.

I thought of this story again today (in November of 2013) when the “Maintenance” light came on my 2012 Toyota Corolla. Needless to say, I have a 15,000 mile appointment tomorrow morning.

I’m taking no chances.

Birthday Reflections At 44

BirthdayCakeToday is October 5th, 2013: My 44th birthday.

Truth be told, it’s sometimes hard to believe that I’ve made it this far. Especially when you consider the fact that it was only yesterday when I was the youthful teenager laughing hysterically at my parents for being in their 40’s.

I suppose there’s a certain sense of immortality you have when you’re younger that lets you make fun of your elder’s age without fear of retribution (or karma ever catching up with you).

Little did I know.

When we’re young, the whole world seems to be filled with endless possibility, and I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait for the chance to break free and start my future. The only problem was, that future always seemed like it would never get here.

Last night, I stumbled upon my 1980 Easton Area Middle School ID Badge under a pile of old memories and immediately recalled the day I first received it. Although I didn’t care much for the goofy grinning picture of myself on the front, I do remember it was what was printed on the back of the worn, laminated card that really caught my attention.

For the first time, I saw the words “YR GRAD-87″ and believed that the year of my high school graduation (1987) was so very far away. To this shy, cheesy-grinned, eleven-year old boy, seven years seemed like seventy and the idea of me one day living in the year 2000 was equivalent to being in a Star Wars movie. It was impossible for me to even comprehend it ever happening.

idcard

Fast forward, and here I am celebrating a birthday twenty-six years post graduation and nearly fourteen years beyond 2000. A brand new century. When did I close my eyes and wake up a middle-aged man? Back in 1980, it seemed like all I had was time and now, it sometimes feels like time is running out. Why just the other day, I was given the sad news about a high school classmate who had unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 43.

doodlecIf what you’ve read so far sounds a bit depressing or makes you feel old, I apologize. This post wasn’t meant to bum you out.

On the contrary, 2013 has actually been one of the best years of my life. In just these last few months I’ve been able to accomplish something I’ve always wanted to do with a dear friend – write and publish my very first book.

In addition to that, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and write articles with many of the artists and performers I admire most. A pipe dream for the little boy you see in the above picture.

I’ve also made a conscious decision to start doing something different for my birthday every year. Beginning this October, I’ll be using my age number as a benchmark to do something to help others in some way. This year, I decided to use the equivalent of my age (44) in dollars and use it to hopefully put a smile on a sick child’s face.

Who knows, maybe next year I’ll take the “45” and divide it up into hours; donating my time over the course of the month to volunteering or raising money for charity. Then maybe at “46” I’ll donate forty-six signed copies of my #1 New York Times Bestseller (hey, it could happen) to a charity auction. Nothing is too small and anything is something.

Which got me to thinking, what if every one of us did something similar? How about instead of just receiving well wishes and birthday cards for making it through another year, what if every person used their own special day as an opportunity to do something for the greater good? Instead of making it a day all about ourselves, what if we made part of our day about helping someone else? One day set aside that you’ll always remember (I mean, how could you forget? After all, it IS your birthday). What better feeling can there possibly be than knowing you made this world a better place, and did it on the day you were born!

Here are some ideas of things you can do to really “celebrate” your birthday:

1. Volunteer a few hours of your time at a local food bank/soup kitchen/animal shelter.

2. Walk (or run) in a marathon to raise money for research.

3. Spend part of your day gathering up unused clothing to donate to a needy family.

According to my calculations, most good work would be done on September 16th (the most common birthday) and the least, February 29th (leap year).

As for me? Well, you can add candle #44 to that birthday cake. This year, I’d like us all to imagine a world where someone is doing something to help someone else, every single day of the year.

Impossible? Maybe. But then again, that’s what I used to think about 1987 and 2000 too.

The Greatest Month Of The Year

OctoberDon’t Forget to check out the Doodle Book Contest! Click Here For Details!

In life, there are only twelve months to any given year. A dozen different containers of days divided up evenly into four seasons. Each month, its own thing of beauty. Each one a chance for new beginnings.

I’m sure at some point along the way, when all of these months first got together, there must have been arguments over which of them should be considered the greatest.

I can already picture January bragging about the fact that he’s always been first. The first month to ring in a new year. The first month where resolutions are made. Then February would chime in about being the lover’s month; April would mention something about “showers”; May would talk about Moms and June would talk about summer and being the month that most weddings occur in.

And I’m quite certain December would eventually state his case for being great because of the whole Christmas thing.

Not one to brag or voice his discontent, October would just smile and watch the others bicker. For you see, he (much like I) already knows which month is the greatest.

October is the GREATEST month of the year, and here’s why:

1. October is National Breast Cancer and Rett Syndrome Awareness Month: Thirty one days in which to raise funds and awareness to help find cures.

2. Columbus Day: It’s the day America was discovered….. DUH!

3. Oktoberfest: Time to get your drink on.

4. October is the only month where Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry cereal are all readily available in stores. THAT alone is cause for celebration!

5. For baseball enthusiasts, October means only one thing: The World Series.

6.  October is the month when fall colors are at their peak. Sure, the Autumnal Equinox “technically” starts in September, but leaves are still green for the most part in September. And by November, the foliage has turned into a dull, brownish color. For those of us in who live here in the northeast, the best days of all are actually when the weather is overcast with a threat of rain. Seeing bright-colored shades of red, yellow and orange leaves beneath the gray sky is one of the most beautiful sights there is.

7. Halloween. Nothing more needs to be said. The final day of the greatest month of the year is the only day where it’s OK to get dressed up and scare the shit out of people. It’s also the only day of the year where you can go walk the streets and beg for candy and not get arrested. Trust me, I’ve tried.

But the absolute real reason October is the greatest month of the year does not lie in days of awareness, cereal consumption or trick or treat. No, October is the greatest month of the year because of what happened on the 5th day of it back in 1969….

I was born.

Doodle Book Contest

Earlier this year, Michele Quinn and I released our very first children’s book, “Doodle”. Shortly after it’s release, we decided to donate all profits from the book to the daughter of Michele’s friend, who was ill and in need of a bone marrow transplant. 100% of the monies we received as profit were used to help offset the family’s medical bills as well as raise awareness of Aplastic Anemia; the disease the daughter had been diagnosed with.

NewBookCover

Now it’s time to put out a call to all faithful readers of this blog. Michele and I are nearing the final stages of completing our next book, Doodle Meets the Pound Pup – a rhyming story that centers around topics that aren’t discussed much, but ones that are very important.

In order to help us decide which Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization to donate proceeds from sales of the new book to, we need to hear from you!!

If you know of or represent a worthy Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization, we’re asking you to please write in and tell us which organization you feel is most deserving, but even more importantly… why you believe so. We’ll choose one entry that we feel best explains their cause to receive our donation.

The winner of the contest will also receive two signed copies of the new book; one for you and one for the winning shelter or rescue group!

To submit your entry, post it on our Facebook page
Or send us an email by Clicking Here

If you don’t have an organization to nominate, please consider sharing or Tweeting this article so we can get the word out.

More information on “Doodle Meets the Pound Pup” as well as a release date will be made soon. Thanks in advance for your help!

No Trick: Halloween 35th Anniversary Edition A Real Treat!

Halloween35John Carpenter’s Halloween is the scariest movie ever made. I know, that’s a bold statement for someone like me to make, but one that’s nonetheless appropriate.

For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past thirty-five Octobers, Halloween tells the story of Michael Myers; a psychotic murderer whose been institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister.

Fifteen years after his initial confinement, Myers manages to escape the institution and begins stalking bookish teenage girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends while his doctor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) chases him through the streets of his hometown.

From the opening credits to the climactic final confrontation between Loomis and Myers, Halloween holds the coveted spot as my greatest horror film of all time and for good reason. Unlike many of today’s horror films which rely heavily upon the use of over the top death scenes and gallons of fake blood and gore to sell its scare, Halloween’s scariness stems from using it’s audiences own imagination to instill that fear upon themselves.

Whether it’s the innocence of Laurie Strode; the subtle, yet highly effective use of camera angles and jump scares; the “shape” standing visible and then suddenly disappearing or the eerie theme music playing at the most (in)appropriate of times, it’s the vulnerability and fear of the unknown that causes us to not only be afraid of the monster, but also to honestly consider whether or not this actually could be happening.

I’ll always remember how excited I was whenever Halloween was coming on, but to this day still find it uncomfortable watching those opening credits (even in broad daylight) and being forced to recall my own childhood fear of the bogeyman and the dark. As a youth, whenever the glowing pumpkin and creepy intro music came on the screen announcing the film was about to begin, that was always my cue to close my eyes and cover my ears until after the credits were over.

In celebration of the film’s 35th anniversary, Anchor Bay Entertainment and Trancas International have just released a special 35th Anniversary Blu-ray version of Halloween. This new 35th Anniversary package includes an all-new HD transfer that was personally supervised by the film’s original cinematographer, Dean Cundey, as well as a new 7.1 audio mix.

But the real “treat” of this package has to be the brand-new, feature-length audio commentary by writer/director John Carpenter and actress Jamie Lee Curtis, discussing the film with fresh perspective all these years later. Available in a collectible limited-edition book-style format, the package also includes 20 pages of archival photos as well as an essay by Halloween historian Stef Hutchinson and specially commissioned cover art by Jay Shaw.

Want my advice? Grab some popcorn, turn down the lights (never completely off, of course) and skip past the opening credits. Because thankfully, modern technology allows us the opportunity to do so. (Five Stars)

five stars

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