A few weeks back, I found myself in Wilson, NC home to the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. I took some pictures to share on the blog and I just kept forgetting to post them. So here without further ado are some pictures and a video.
My first memories of Batman come from around the age of three or four. I was watching TV when 1966’s Batman came on. It was on in syndication a lot in the mid 80’s, and I found myself watching this colorful show full of all sorts of memorable characters fighting. I was enamored with what I saw and so began my daily watching of Batman.
My fandom of the TV show led me to watch anything I could get my hands on Batman related, which for the most part was just this VHS at the local video store.
Warner Home Video had released segments from The Adventures of Batman (1968), which were segments taken from The Batman/Superman Hour (1968).
Since there wasn’t much Batman to consume, I found myself desiring toys and luckily for me, Kenner had a line of toys called The Super Powers. These toys began production in 1984 and I probably started getting mine somewhere in 1986-1987. I ended up with several toys from this line including: Batman, Robin, Superman, Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman, The Joker, and The Penguin.
My next big Batman memory was a party that my father was having at work. He was in the Navy, and they were holding a Batman Party and of course, I thought my dad would be Batman. I was extremely disappointed when my mother told me he was going to be Egghead, a character I had never even heard of. Egghead was portrayed by Vincent Price in the 1966 series from which my dad’s costume was based on. This would have been sometime around 1988.
Also in 1988, Death in the Family was released. This was a huge deal for comics and it even went mainstream. Fans voted on whether or not to kill Jason Todd, the current Robin and they voted that he needed to die. So, comics were written, sales spiked, and my parents even bought me a trade paperback of the story from which I think they thought I’d take care of and could sell as an adult. I read, and re-read Death in a Family to the point that the front cover wore off. Needless to say, it was pretty worthless by the time 1990 rolled around, but I kept it for a very long time.
By 1989, Batman fever was infecting the nation. The new film directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton was released in June and was tearing up the box office. Toys and tie-ins were everywhere, and I was right there at the perfect age to cash in.
Sadly, I didn’t get to see the film in theater. My grandmother tried to get my uncle to take me to the movies with him and his friends, but he didn’t want to be responsible for a first grader during the hottest, most exciting film of the summer. So, while I never got a chance to see it on the big screen, I did get a bunch of the toys and other goodies.
Some of the highlights included various figures by Applause, Taco Bell Cups, candy dispensers, cereal, Batmobiles, and more. I’ve gathered some images from around the web that showcases a portion of my collection at that time.
Recently, I ran across this post by Brad Warner, a Buddhist teacher that I follow: Be A Loser.
The last paragraph and a half were very enlightening, because it echo’s the way I’ve recently discovered seems to be a way to reduce stress.
…my usual policy became that if someone wanted to defeat me in a battle, I would allow that person to defeat me.
I realized that the “winner” in these conflicts usually has more trouble than the “loser.” So I would allow the other person to be the “winner” and deal with the trouble they created for themselves by being the “winner.” As the “loser” I always had less responsiblity and less work to do. It was a great strategy.
Being raised a “man” I was taught to fight every injustice. Stand up for myself in every situation and go down swinging. Unfortunately, those sentiments don’t always work in the real world. What I should have been taught is to learn to pick your battles. There are times that you must stand up for yourself and you cannot be a doormat, but there are also times when a conflict is so stupid and so meaningless, it’s just easier to lose and walk away. You end up winning in the end.
A prime example would be the whole concept of going above and beyond. I’ve always been that guy who worked extra hard and wanted to be the best. It helped me in some jobs, but not my current one. Going above and beyond only got me extra work with no extra compensation. It got me put into bad situations where I was mistreated and made to feel miserable. It took me a couple of years, but I realized there is no light at the end of this tunnel. There is no grand promotion or recognition. It’s just more tedious work and be taken advantage of.
So, I pulled back on the reigns. I withdrew but still stayed productive. I get my job done, and done right, but I don’t go above and beyond. I don’t put in any extra effort. I shy away from any extra tasks and I don’t look for kudos. I come in, do my job, and go home. I collect a paycheck and that’s it. And you know what? My life got a lot better. I mean, shockingly better. My anger and frustration at work was reduced significantly and every day is a little more tolerable. I look forward to the day I find a new job and hopefully my work ethic will be rewarded, but until then, I’m happy to be the loser and go home happy.
Yesterday, I discussed a lesson on friendship that I learned from the movie Grownups. I know… random. Anyway, I had a little more I wanted to say but I felt like the post was getting a little long so I decided to split it into two parts. So here we go:
Two years ago, I lost 80 lbs. It took a while, but people started noticing at work and that felt good. The compliments poured in, I inspired two people to lose significant weight, and my confidence boosted. Having been the fat kid most of my life, it felt good to be lighter and healthier.
The weight loss helped me out of a couple of physical health obstacles and I think the self-esteem boost helped me get out of a toxic relationship. It was a super positive experience and one that I’m grateful for.
I was terrified after I reached my goal about maintaining my new weight. It also didn’t help that I started dating an amazing cook. Slowly the pounds crept back up. I decided I’d start counting calories again and then the pandemic happened. I attempted to lose a little bit of the weight, but I only have so much energy: I can work on my mental health or my physical health, but I can’t do both. I’m just not wired to handle that. I choose my mental health.
I haven’t gained all my weight back, but I have gained half of it back. I actually feel good and feel like I still look pretty decent, but there is always that lingering feeling that I’m a failure. All of those people I work with who made a big deal out of my weight loss, I imagine them whispering about how they just knew I couldn’t keep it off. I think about the snide remarks they say behind my back about how disappointing it is that I’m a lazy loser who couldn’t keep the weight off. Of course, most likely, they don’t even care or notice, but its hard to not imagine those sort of things.
I’ve held off on buying new clothes because I guess secretly I hoped I’d feel good mentally and jump right back on losing weight. I realized the other day that that is just not going to happen right now. I need to feel better at work, so I went to Kohls and I bought some new shirts, one size larger just to give me some breathing room and to make me feel that much better.
And let me tell you… it’s made a world of a difference this week.
I look better in clothes that fit. I feel better and I’m not constantly fumbling around with one button that kept coming unbuttoned. Sure, it felt a bit like defeat that I had to buy bigger clothes, but once I got over that mental hurdle everything else has been fantastic.
So, what changed? What prompted me to hop up on my super chill out day that I planned to watch movies and run to Kohls and buy new clothes? Well, like I said yesterday, I was watching Grownups. I saw the characters joking and having fun and accepting their overweight friend and I realized that my thoughts were stupid. Hell, the people who made a deal out of my weight loss aren’t even people I like. The people I like, liked me before I lost the weight and would like me after. I was doing the one thing I would always advise anyone not to do and that is worry about someone else thinks, especially someone you don’t even like.
I think just watching that movie jolted me enough to realize that I was acting stupid. I just needed to go buy a couple new shirts, enjoy life, stop worrying about other people, and as soon as I’m feeling better mentally, I can start calorie counting again and drop the weight just like I did last time. This definitely was not worth straining myself mentally over. Life is friggin hard right now and I’m sitting here worrying about this stupid shit. Thanks to Grownups, I’m feeling a lot better about myself this week.
I’ve spent most my online time the past couple of weeks moving my blogs over to WordPress. This was a huge undertaking, especially for my BrandonsHorror.com blog which had well over 1,000 photos I needed to properly attach to each page. It’s helped some work days go by a little quicker and is the type of mindless, tedious task that I think I needed. It gave me time to heal a little and kept me from fretting so much about life.
I’ve actually found a good rhythm lately. I’ve been able to find some things that make me happy, focus on them, and just try and let the rest wash away. I know this feeling of contentment will pass, but its always a nice reprieve to find yourself atop of wave of emotion, instead of at the bottom.
Without the constant barrage of information from the internet world and the news I’ve had time to think about my life and the things I want and need in it. This has allowed me to adjust my needs ever so slightly so that they can be met and I can feel a little bit better. I don’t believe in giant leaps of improvement, but I do think small incremental increases can be achieve with a little effort and realistic expectations.
I found some inspiration in a weird place, which isn’t that unusual for me. I’m always looking for lessons to be learned and I tend to shy away at articles like, “Top Five Ways to Be Happy” or books like The Secret. I’ve wasted so much time reading self-help books and getting no where with them.
This time I found a little inspiration from the movie Grownups. It’s a pretty universally hated Adam Sandler movie, that I thought was pretty decent. It’s nothing special, but it’s one of those movies that’s an easy watch and it’ll get a chuckle or two out of you. Just avoid the sequel, it’s pretty horrible.
I re-watched this movie on Monday and I think it just resonated with me. I’m not quite as old as the actors in the film when it was made, but with my 37th birthday coming up I’m pretty close to that age range. I’m getting older and that’s always in the back of my head.
In Grownups, Adam Sandler reunites with his childhood basketball team after their coach dies. They rent a lake house, attempt to disconnect their children from their phones, and just have a good old time. What made the movie so enjoyable for me, was the interactions between the adult male friends. It was the thing I could relate to the most. Having moved a bunch as a child, I don’t have a core group of childhood friends. Actually, I don’t have any friends from my childhood. I have one on again and off again friend from high school and another I met when I just got out of high school, and those are my two oldest friends. Outside of that, I have two or three people I talk to on a near daily basis and they make up my friends.
I used to feel bad about not having more friends nearby. It was almost as if my friends who are so far away weren’t real friends since we couldn’t meet up once a week. Heck, some of these friends I would go 10+ years in seeing. But after observing the friendships of some of my peers and just letting go of this notion that proximity plays a factor in friendship, I realized that my friends are quite amazing. I have three people I can totally rely on almost any time of night. Guys I can reach out to when I have concerns, guys I can share my fandom with. I have friends that I actually enjoy. I’d love to have them closer, but I’m incredibly blessed to have these people in my life even if our relationships are mostly text based. (And what’s wrong with that anyway?)
I think with my free time and getting out of debt this year, I realized I need to make an effort to keep in touch a little better and make some trips to see these friends a little more. I guess, one of the things I took from Grownups is to not take your friends for granted and to realize how precious they are the older you get.
Well… football is back and I noticed leaves on the ground as I walked into the work this morning. Fall is indeed on it’s way.
We are halfway through September and it feels like it should be May. The disruption of 2020 has even thrown my introverted internal clock off. That’s not to say I’m not happy to see Fall, it just makes me wonder if this will be considered a lost year.
The sporting events, box office totals, job loss stats and the like will all be branded with an asterisk noting the extraordinary circumstances that occurred. I wonder if I’ll mark this year with an asterisk when I look back on my life or if it’ll be just another blip like every other year.
I’ve found the way for me to keep my spirits up is to focus on something each week. Maybe it’s watching Martin Scorsese movies or maybe its following NASCAR. Maybe it’s binge watching horror movies or reading a book. I just try to find something that I can focus on and near obsess over and it gets me through the workweek which is by far the hardest. My work has become intolerable and I just need something to focus on while I’m there.
Avoiding the news and well… at times, avoiding people have also been key to keeping my sanity. Sometimes you have to weigh the suffering and irritation that can come with interacting with people in comparison to just taking solace in the quiet and as of late, the quiet has been winning out big time. I enjoy nothing more than sitting on the couch and watching a movie far away from the drama outside my door.
This morning felt a little different. It was a darker than normal which is usually the first hint that Fall is around the corner. It feels so weird to say that, since the normal ebb and flow of the year has been disrupted by all that has been going on. I almost feel like we hit pause on the world back in March and nothing has progressed since. Of course, the seasons wait for no one, so Fall is coming and so is Winter which means Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are just around the corner.
I’m not sure why the holidays were on my mind, but I guess I thought about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and whether or not it would happen and if spectators would be allowed. I felt a twinge of sadness at the thought of it not happening, but that empathy was for others, not myself because the parade hasn’t really meant all that much to me over the years.
I didn’t grow up watching the parade. Sure, I watched parts of it here and there, but it wasn’t a tradition for me or my family. As an adult, I’ve turned it on occasionally, but the stereotypical day of parade, turkey, and football is just not something I’m used to.
Holidays weren’t ever a huge deal for my family. My grandmother always went all out, but we didn’t establish traditions and when my parents divorced that disturbed things further. I actually began to hate holidays as time went on since most of the time I spent my holidays traveling between parents and grandparents, and it was most exhausting than fun. By the time I moved out on my own, I swore off decorating for holidays and decided to be a Scrooge about everything.
That lasted seven or eight years, before I really started missing the idea of celebrating the holidays. I got back into watching holiday movies and I bought a Christmas tree. I started decorating my apartment and while I didn’t go too crazy, I did just enough that I was comfortable and not over encumbered.
Obviously my little attempts at making the holidays my own didn’t make up for the lack of traditions or cohesive family, but I started a tradition of my own which was watching holiday episodes of 90’s sitcoms. Every Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I dig into my favorite sitcoms from my youth and spend the holidays with my favorite characters. My goal is to one day design my own holiday DVD sets containing my favorite episodes, but I’m still discovering new ones and I haven’t put it in the time to make that happen yet.
Last year, I spent Thanksgiving in Memphis but the five or six years prior to that I spent them with my grandmother. Every Thanksgiving my mom and step-dad would go visit his family, which left my grandmother alone on Thanksgiving. My brother and I would spend our Thanksgiving with her. It was nice because she was one heck of a cook and always put a lot of effort into decorating and making her place feel special for the holidays.
I recall showing up while the parade was still on, catching up with her and my brother before enjoying a nice dinner at her dining room table. She’d pull out the good dishes and cloth napkins and we’d all enjoy whatever feast she put together. She’d have to prepare two dishes, since my brother is vegan, but I fondly remember the last dinner being a huge bone in chicken breast that she panned fried along with some fresh mashed potatoes, rolls, and green beans. After dinner, we enjoyed slices of cheesecake she picked up. It maybe wasn’t the most traditional dinner, but it was good.
I think this memory glows so brightly for a couple of reasons:
- She passed away last year.
- It was similar to some of the best memories of my childhood.
As previously mentioned, my grandmother was the one person who went all out for the holidays. She’d had nice decorations that she brought out and she’d play Christmas music both at home and in her car. She built beautiful holiday displays at work and there was just something warm and comforting about those times with her. I think it was because she didn’t just sling cheap decorations everywhere, but she intentionally decorated with some solid pieces that made her apartment feel classy.
I spent a lot of time with my grandmother following my parent’s divorce and I credit a lot of my childhood interests to that time. She made sure that the time we spent with her, we spent it as children and not young people being forced to adapt. We enjoyed cartoons, trips to the library, and toys. Everyday she’d make dinner, lay out a huge towel on the coffee table, and we’d eat sitting on the floor while watching Full House and Ducktales. It was a bright spot in my childhood that occurred when everything seemed so dark, and those few Thanksgivings where it was just me, her, and my brother, were sort of a progression of those times. I wish I would have appreciated them a little more while they were occurring.
I will say, that last Thanksgiving together in 2018, I remember sitting on the couch and proclaiming that this is what the holidays should be like. Calm, enjoyable dinner, good conversation in a location that felt special. Then again, I’m sure the nostalgia of being around her decorations played a huge part in all of that. My brother was fiercely defensive of my other family members who weren’t in attendance, but for a few minutes I appreciated what I had.
I’m not sure what the holidays will bring this year. My mother was so distraught at my grandmother’s death last year, she wanted to do something that wasn’t normal and didn’t remind her of my grandmother, so we all brought Asian dishes. Now with the state of the world I have no real expectations for this holiday season. I guess, I hope that maybe everyone can find some patience and kindness and we can end this year better than we began it.
I’m gonna enjoy my 90’s sitcoms. I found a great Christmas episode of Wings a few months back where Joe gets in a fight at a video store and it’ll be a great addition to my normal viewings of Roseanne, Home Improvement, Sabrina, and Just Shoot Me.
I first watched Wargames sometime in the late 90’s. It was recommended to me by a friend I had met online who knew I had a growing desire to see more 80’s movies. I remember him saying that out of all of the movies he recommended, he thought I’d enjoy Wargames the most. He was right.
I’m going to assume you’ve seen Wargames, but if you have not, please note this post will ruin the ending of the movie. Also, it’s a great movie that I highly recommend seeing at least once, so check it out if you get a chance.
We all know how this movie ends. WOPR is about to bomb the hell out of Russia when Falken and David convince WOPR to play tic-tac-toe. They do this to show the AI that in some games the are no true winners, which is enough for WOPR to call off the attack. Afterwards WOPR says:
The Only Winning Move is Not To Play
As I’ve gotten older, I’m not sure another quote has been quite as relevant as this one in my life.
It’s taken me several years, but I’ve come to learn that you do not have to participate in everything. Anything from the office potluck to social media can be opted out of. I guess you can call that the power of saying no.
But in a society that preaches progress, self-improvement, and constant change, you can find yourself easily straggling the line between coming and going. There are so many people pushing for why you should or shouldn’t do something and this paradox of choice leaves some of us paralyzed. We overthink and try to find out how to have our cake and eat it to. We create extra stress over the stupidest of decisions, all because of social norms or expectations.
A recent example I can think of is my relationship with social media. I enjoyed it, but I knew it was bad for me. It was a time suck and I grew frustrated with the drama and advertising. So, I took some time away and then came back under the impression that I’d limit the amount of people I followed, keep it friends only, and limit the amount of wastefulness. Did it work? Somewhat. But it didn’t solve the advertising or privacy issues and since buying an ad free version wasn’t an option, I decided to just not participate anymore. I had to opt out. No longer was I pulled by the social expectation that I should have a social media account nor was sacrificing my own personal morals on interacting with software that I didn’t find ethical. I just stepped away from it all and you know what? Life is better. I’m no longer torn between the two worlds and none of it matters, because the option just isn’t there. It truly was a case where the only way for me to win was not to play.
It’s not just when dealing with social media though. I find it useful in relationships, arguments, petty drama, co-worker tiffs, and so on. In so many instances getting involved does nothing but bring on stress and pain, which can be easily avoided if you just shrug your shoulders and move on. I guess, its taken me a while to learn that you truly have to pick your battles. Fight the ones that worth fighting for and let the rest go. And if it’s overly complicated or seems like a no-win scenario, then you can always take your ball and go home. There is nothing wrong with that sometimes.
I haven’t wrote much lately. I’ve wanted to, but I haven’t had much to say.
Things have been rough the past few weeks and I’ve been working on dealing with some issues along with managing my own mental health. I promised myself this blog would not turn into one of those “cries for attention” sort of experiments, so what little writing and venting I have done, I’ve done privately, where I feel that sort of thing is best done.
What follows are just a collection of random thoughts and commentary of things going on.
The Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 demo comes out Friday. I’m super excited to see a proper HD version of Tony Hawk exist.
I’ve struggled sleeping the last few weeks but on Friday, all that changed. Two events occurred that evening that I think led to my sleeping better.
- I had a good discussion with my significant other.
- I watched a horror movie.
I wish I could say for sure it was the discussion, but I really think the horror movie had something to do with it. I’m not sure if it’s because I dove back into one of my passions or just experienced the anxiety relief that comes with horror films, but I slept good and have every day since.
I’ve realized that I have to take things off the table in order for me to feel better a lot of the time. Sometimes that as simple as saying, “I just can’t talk about this stuff right now.” I believe the low grade anxiety that’s going on for everyone just compounds with regular anxiety and I struggle with that.
I watched the first episode of Lower Decks. It was okay, but nothing great. If it wasn’t Star Trek branded I’m sure I wouldn’t continue to watch, but it is, so I will. It’s a very easy twenty minutes of comfort television, at least so far.
I’ve been reading quite a bit. I’ve finished up He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back by Mark Bechtel a week and a half ago, then read Stand Firm by Svend Brinkmann, and now I’m almost finished with Shock Value by Jason Zinoman.
The prices of run of the mill DVDs and blu-rays are going up as physical media winds down and I’m assuming people are buying more because of all the streaming wars mess. I’m slowly trying to build up my collection without breaking the bank.
I have no idea what this movie is about but damn if this poster doesn’t make me want to see it.
(I actually DuckDuckGoed this after typing up this blog and discovered the plot is about Wild Bill Hickock and Crazy Horse teaming up to take down a fabled white buffalo. Now I GOTTA SEE IT)
Earlier this week, I spent seven hours in a room with someone who was blasting angry, alpha male podcasts. You know, the type of podcasts that tell you to walk in front of people and not beside them so you can show your dominance. To the person’s credit, he had a door closed, but in this tiny closet of a room, he also had a box fan on high. So, the sound of voices carried well throughout his room and into the lobby portion of the room where I work. So, for seven hours I listened to grown men with questionable backgrounds scream, shame, and tell you how to live your life. Needless to say, my head was killing me when it was all said and done.
In fact, the headache that it gave me lasted so long I ended up not going into work the next day. I stayed home with the TV and Spotify turned off and I cleaned and relaxed in silence. The assault on my senses the day before had overwhelmed me and I craved the silence.
I find myself craving silence more and more. I don’t listen to Spotify on the way to work some days and I stopped listening to podcasts a couple years ago. I realized that when I listened to podcasts, I wasn’t relaxed. It was just too much talking going on in a world where people don’t know when to shut up. Again, I say assault on my senses, because that’s the way it truly feels to me. It’s like my brain has reached a limit on how much intake it can take on any single day.
I feel this way not just on audible noises, but the written word as well. I believe this why I’ve been so intentional about weeding out the trash that I read on a daily basis. I try to avoid the rumors, skip over the “What if’s” and avoid anything that doesn’t truly bring substance into my life. I just don’t think we are wired to absorb this much information on a daily basis.
Again, I reference back to a blog post I made a few weeks ago about being Disconnected and I wonder if I need to scale back even more.