Tag Archives: reading

Happy Birthday, You’re Now Officially Closer To The End

I’ve had a birthday every year since I turned 1. I don’t remember that one, but some of them are supposed to be milestones. Thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty, thirty, forty, and this year’s major occurrence, my fiftieth birthday. Fifty years old. God, that sounded so old when I was a kid. Fifty years old. People will tell you it’s not old at all. Usually these people are in their later fifties or their sixties or even seventies.

The thing I realized this morning as I turned fifty years old while working at my job, is that my life is already more than halfway over. Think about it. What’s the age of your oldest relative, or friend? What were the ages of the last three people whose funeral you attended? Was the average of any of these figures over 100? Heck, were any of the individual answers over 100. How about 95? 90? Even if the average is 90, although I suspect it’s probably closer to 80 or 85, I hit the halfway mark five years ago.

You know how when you’re reading a book and you hit that halfway point, everything starts gelling. All of the main characters have been introduced. The plot is usually fully revealed and the action is accelerating, forcing you to keep on reading to see how it all comes out. If you’re like me, you start calculating how many pages are left. Or maybe it’s a TV show and you know there will be three more commercial breaks. I’m not at that last commercial break yet, but I don’t need to worry about seeing Flo or the GEICO gecko more than another time or two.

I’m a little sad, mostly because I haven’t accomplished anything with my life other than the basics. I have a wife, a couple of grown kids, a granddaughter, a job, a car, and a house. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to make movies. I wanted to have fans that I entertained with my next project. Nope. I have a dog that puts on an acrobatic act for me every time she thinks she’s getting to go for a walk, but that’s the extent of my fan club, and honestly as cute as it is watching the dog jump and spin and twist in midair, it makes it very difficult to attach her leash to her collar.

Maybe some third act miracle will happen and I’ll still get that fame I was dreaming of when I was a child of fifteen, twenty-one, or thirty-four. But the pages are getting flipped faster. The action is accelerating, and before you know it Time’s finger will be ready to flip that last page to see how it all wraps up…

Part of me imagines people happy and celebrating as they toss me in the ground. I’ve battled with depression all my life and low self-esteem issues as well. I know I’m a great person, but I can’t convince myself that I am. And I sure can’t convince anyone else, except for maybe my dog… and maybe my wife… maybe the kids… oh and some of my nieces and nephews and cousins and maybe my sisters and some other friends and family. And maybe that’s enough. Maybe that’s more than enough.

I Remember The Silmarillion

One thing I loved as a kid was books. Even when I was a toddler, I would want my mom to buy me books more than toys. One of my favorites was a book called “I Have A Turtle”.

Two sentences long, but a lifetime of joy... (dot dot dot)

Two sentences long, but a lifetime of joy… (dot dot dot)


I Have A Turtle told the story of a little boy who had a pet turtle that he kept in a hat box under his bed. Actually that sentence is almost the entire first half of the book. The book is, in fact, only two sentences long. What the author did to stretch it out was to break up those two sentences into several prepositional phrases that continued from page to page with the use of ellipsis, the three periods.

When my family would read me this book, they would always make me giggle by reading the three periods as well. So the book would start out “I have a turtle, dot, dot, dot”. I loved those “dot, dot, dots” at the end of nearly every page, and I could never imagine reading the book any other way.

As I got older I was able to read by myself and I latched onto a few new books like Dragon In Danger, Green Smoke, The Enormous Egg, Yours Till Niagara Falls, and the works of Judy Blume. These titles filled my grade school days with smiles and amazement. As I entered Junior High I discovered Conan of Aquilonia on the newsstand and quickly picked it up and read it followed by all of the other Robert E. Howard books that I could get my hands on. I tried Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter of Mars series, and of course I picked up Forever by Judy Blume as well. I also worked my way through a couple best sellers; Jaws and The Exorcist. Toward the end of Junior High I, like all of my friends, picked up The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I devoured The Hobbit, but never got started on the trilogy for some reason. It was around this time that a new book hit the market, a sequel to the Middle-Earth classics. This book was The Silmarillion.
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I distinctly remember getting the paperback version of this book for Christmas along with Monty Python and the Holy Grail The Book, Monty Python’s Big Red Book, and Saturday Night Live. I read the two Python books as well as the SNL book, but I never did get started on The Silmarillion. Several other friends got The Silmarillion as well, and the ones that started reading it all gave up on it. To this day my paperback copy sits on a shelf in my home library unread. Of course being the compulsive collector that I am, I also now have the hardcover copy as well and it is equally as unread by me.

We Had Two Things As Kids

My son grew up in a world with 24/7 cartoons and video games. My daughter was able to add the Internet to her childhood toolkit. When I was a kid we only had cartoons on Saturday morning and perhaps an hour or so early on other mornings and an hour or so with Mister Cartoon after school. Video games, home systems that is, wouldn’t come along until High School. As for the Internet, we were years away from even bulletin boards, much less full-blown websites. We basically had two things as kids: books and our imaginations.

Now don’t get me wrong, we had toys. We had G.I. Joe, Mego, Shogun Warriors, Micronauts, Aurora model kits, and all sorts of other playthings. The difference is that our toys didn’t do anything unless you used your imagination. We could make Biotron fly and Mazinga battle Godzilla, but only through the art of pretending. For those of you too young to understand what this means, we would hold our little Micronaut up in the air and make flying noises with our mouths as we did loops or went running out in a playground with the toy held out and held high. We would take our figures, one in each hand, and have them do battle with one another by beating the two pieces of plastic against each other. One hand would hold the attacking toy while the other hand-held the toy that about to get hit. After a thunderous blow, the other toy would be lifted up and retaliate. Sometimes both hands would move the two toys at each other simultaneously causing both of them to go flying backwards. All sound effects were created by us, and the outcome of the battle was whatever storyline we wanted to tell. Unless one of the toys broke. Then we improvised. “Oh no, Johnny West hit G.I. Joe so hard that his arms both flew off.”

Model kits also required us to use our imaginations, but they did have instruction sheets. I loved figure kits. One of my friends loved car models. Another friend had tons of dinosaur models. You would get a cardboard box with a gorgeous painting of what the kit should look like on the front. Sometimes the sides had actual pictures of professionally assembled and painted kits. When you opened the box there were plastic trees with little numbered parts on them. Usually they were all molded in a single color, normally the dominant color of the figure. The Wolfman would be in brown. Godzilla would be in dark green. Some kits had additional glow in the dark parts or they had clear or chromed parts, especially for cars.

I kept my Aurora kits on my dresser or on a shelf in my closet. In the closet, the glow in the dark parts would light up when I shut the closet door. My friend with all of the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes kits had a special wooden platform in his basement. His dad had made it for him so he could connect their bases and set them up on display like a prehistoric train set. He used to pretend that at bedtime he could talk to them on a toy walkie-talkie that he had. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and swore that one day, I would fix up something like that for myself.

The other thing we had, as I stated, was books. We had comic books, paperbacks, and magazines. Back then everybody seemed to sell comic books. You could buy them at the drug store, the newsstand, bus stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, department stores, and other places as well. I had lots of comics, but it wasn’t until I picked up Kamandi #9 while on vacation at King’s Island that I became a true collector. The front cover showed these people in a hot air balloon fighting giant bats. It looked so amazing that I had to buy it. I bought it, read it, and decided that I would have to find the next issue when it came out. Since I had never seen this book before, I assumed that I was holding the first issue. When I got home, I was shocked to find issue #8 at my local 7-11 (which was literally open from 7 AM until 11 PM at the time). When I realized that I had actually missed the first seven issues, I was shocked and devastated, but I kept looking for them. Eventually I ordered the missing issues from an ad I found for back issues comics by mail. I still have every issue of Kamandi to this day.

We also had paperback books and magazines to entertain us. I’ve mentioned all the monster magazines that I used to buy, but there were other mags as well. Car Toons and Surf Toons featured cartoons about cars and surfing. Marvel and Warren publishing both had black and white comic magazines and there were numerous humor magazines as well. Mad is still around, but there was also Sick, Cracked, Crazy, and the National Lampoon. The Lampoon was a bit more adult, but I still managed to get almost every issue from around #96 up and a local newsagent even sold me a huge collection of back issues which included the very first issue.

Paperbacks also entertained us as kids, and at a fairly bargain rate. I picked up all of the Planet of the Apes books for between 50 and 95 cents each. I also had a bunch of superhero books, Star Trek fotonovels, and other titles. Two of my prized possessions at the time were a pair of oversized hardcovers dedicated to talking solely about horror movies. I always wanted a copy of the Ray Harryhausen Scrapbook, but it was too expensive at the time. I finally picked up a copy years later at a used bookstore and I replaced my copies of the two horror movie books (as well as a third one I picked up later) off eBay. I don’t know why I had gotten rid of my copies in the first place, but I was glad to have them back.

Time And Related Distractions In Sleep

When I was a teenager I could stay up all night playing D&D and still be awake and alert the next morning. In my twenties if work called or the kids got sick in the middle of the night, I was wide awake and ready to go. In my thirties I could still stay out late, wake up quick, and function like nothing out of the ordinary. But now that I am in my forties and rapidly closing in on the big five oh, my body seems to have decided to give me a big F.U.

I began to notice that I couldn’t stay up like I used to unless I was actively involved in something like work. Watching tv or reading would cause the body to shut down quicker than an anesthetic. And getting up? Forget that. My legs take five good minutes just to decide to support my fat ass and allow it to wander down the hall to the bathroom. And if I fail to get my full 8 hours of sleep? Well, good luck getting a coherent functional human being for the rest of the day. As Adam Sandler once asked on one of his CDs, What the hell happened to me?

What switch got thrown in my body that caused it to go from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds to “let me hook up these jumper cables and try not to flood the engine”? More importantly, how do I switch it back? I have very little free time any more and I would really love to be able to read some comics or watch a movie or two. The other day I laid down to read the first 6 issues of All New X-Men and halfway through the fourth issue, I dropped like a stone. The night before I had only gotten six hours of sleep and my body was like a loan shark. It wanted those other two hours back and some interest on top of it.

Tonight I was sitting watching Tosh.0 on Blu-ray. I was in the middle of the bonus features watching the extended web redemption for the double rainbow guy. The next thing I know my brain has completely shut down. I am not hearing or processing anything that is being said. My eyes close and for a few seconds I am gone. I probably would have stayed just like that if the wife hadn’t yelled in to tell me that she was going to bed. That woke me up enough that I managed to realize the segment was ending and I sat there and stared at the menu for several minutes before deciding to try and move on.

Now I’m sitting here typing this and knowing that I have to stay up another twenty or so minutes so that I don’t throw off my body too bad when I go to work tomorrow. My mind is clicking off activities to keep me cognizant. Write this post. Write a post reviewing the Blu-ray I just finished. Check out the new shirts at RiptApparel and The Yetee in ten minutes. My twenty year old self would be sitting in the living room watching another DVD. My teen age body would be laying in the floor with his DM’s guide and PH book and Monster Manual and some graph paper designing a cool new dungeon for the weekend. But I’m no longer a teenager, a twenty-something, or even a thirty-something. I’m a forty-eight year old that wants his nap. Dear God, I’m not getting older, I’m becoming a toddler again.