Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy.

Coming to a theater near you!

Coming to a theater near you!

 

When Guardians of the Galaxy was first announced as a potential movie, I was both incredibly excited and more than a little worried.  I was excited because I loved all the incarnations of the team, from the futuristic team of the 70s and 90s to the rag tag cosmic head busters of today.  This was going to take the current version of the team and turn it into a big screen cosmic adventure, what a great idea.  Of course, Hollywood could totally screw it up and the movie could end up looking like a Joel Schumacher “epic” production.  Marvel took a huge risk making this.  In 2010, when the movie was first announced, very few movie goers had any idea who the characters were.  At the time, there wasn’t even a Guardians comic book on the shelves.  With some stellar marketing and cross pollination between film studio and comic book publisher, Marvel managed to pump up a major amount of interest.

In my opinion, the gamble paid off big time.  Guardians of the Galaxy immediately draws you into its world and makes you care about its inhabitants.  We are on Earth for no more than five minuets.  Young Peter Quill is apparently abducted by aliens and bam…..26 years later we are on another planet following this very devil-may-care, Han Solo meets Randall from Clerks type character (Played by Chris Pratt) on a mission to steal something he knows nothing about.  Right away we are given a sample of how fun this adventure will be when Peter Quill (Also known as Star-Lord….well, he’s the only one that calls him that.) uses alien creatures as microphones in a weird karaoke session as he traverses the hazards of an alien cavern.  We learn that Peter is working for Yondu (Played excellently by Michael Rooker), the leader of a team of intergalactic pirates known as Ravagers.

Peter’s stolen goods bring him nothing but negative attention.  The films main villain, Ronan (Played perfectly by Pushing Daisies Pie Maker, Lee Pace) is introduced as a sort of religious zellot from the Kree alien race.  Ronan works with Thanos (Played by Josh Brolin….Goonies!), the mysterious alien seen at the end of the Avengers movie.  Under Thanos’ orders, Ronan sends Gamora (Played by Zoe Saldana), the assassin step daughter of Thanos to kill Peter and retrieve the object he stole.  Rocket (An genetic experiment who resembles an Earth Raccoon; voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his awesome ally Groot (A living tree creature; voiced by Vin Diesel) are bounty hunters seeking to turn Peter Quill in for the reward on his head.

 

 

Through a very fun and entertaining battle, the four end up being arrested by the Nova Corps, cosmic cops headed up by Coprsman Rey (John C. Reilly) and Nova Prime (Glenn Close) and are sent to a maximum security prison.  Here they meet the alien living weapon known as Drax whom seeks to kill Ronan.  Soon all five characters realize that they have a common enemy….Ronan and they work together to break out of prison.  That’s where the movie moves into a really fun team dynamic that sends us ricocheting across the Galaxy.  The movie culminates in a very rewarding final battle.  This is a battle our heroes just have no business getting involved in, but that’s what makes them heroes, and that’s what makes this movie all the more entertaining.

Hi.  I'm Josh Brolin.

Hi. I’m Josh Brolin.

The story overall is pretty strong.  There is a good plot that organically brings the characters together, rather than seeming forced like the Avengers.  There are many great performances by some of the best actors in the business.  Benicio Del Toro has a cool guest spot, reprising his role as the Collector, last seen in Thor: The Dark World.  In just a few moments, Benicio is able to exude a creepy sort of charm.  We don’t know if this character is good or bad, but he is certainly entertaining. While we don’t see a lot of her, Dr. Who’s Karen Gillian plays Nebula, another of Thanos’ stepdaughters.  In the brief moments  she is on screen, Gillian manages to give Nebula a very interesting, if not somewhat nihilistic mystique.   Chris Pratt certainly proves himself to be a fun and entertaining action/adventure actor as Peter Quill/Star-Lord.  Pratt provides so many hilarious moments simply by his facial expressions.  WWE wrestler Dave Bautista gives an enjoyable performance as Drax, an incredibly literal man (well, an alien man) who is haunted by the loss of his family at the hands of Ronan.  Many of the most entertaining Drax moments come from the culture clash between him and his other teammates.  Rocket comments that figures of speech go over Drax’s head and Drax replies:  “Nothing goes over my head…..my reflexes are too quick!”  Bradley Cooper steals a large chunk of the movie as Rocket Raccoon, his wise ass attitude is the perfect shield for the character’s tragic origins.  While Groot is incredibly fun and proves to be the team’s biggest asset, I still think anyone could have provided his voice.  All he says is “I am Groot!”  I like Vin Diesel, but couldn’t anyone have said that?

scottieyoung groot

I wasn’t pleased with Zoe Saldana’s role as Gamora.  She wasn’t necessarily bad, but she wasn’t all that engaging either.  I think someone who is used to playing edgier characters like Rosario Dawson could have brought more depth to the character.  Saldana just seems a little flat.  Michael Rooker nails the role of Yondu, bringing the character to a whole new level.  This isn’t the noble warrior from the original comic book, Rooker transforms him into an alien redneck with a bad attitude, which serves as a fun distraction for an otherwise overly serious genre.  While many old school comic book fans may not like this incarnation of Yondu, it doesn’t cancel out the original character.  The film Yondu is in the 21st century, he could very well just be an ancestor of the warrior comic nerds like me are familiar with.

Yondu is kind of like a blue Merle from The Walking dead.....

Yondu is kind of like a blue Merle from The Walking dead…..

Director James Gunn masterfully blends a wide array of characters, settings and plot pieces that would be difficult for many directors and creates a comic book movie that not only succeeds in being a great adaptation, it’s fun.  Incredibly fun.  With characters you’ve never heard of and far out cosmic plots, Gunn and crew have crafted a film that is superior than the Avengers in many ways.  9/10 (It would have been 10/10 if Saldana had given Gamora just a little more depth and edge.  She’s just not that kind of actress.)

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Nerd’s guide for the uninitiated.

Note:  For a cut-out scorecard for the Uninitiated scroll down to the bottom.  Otherwise, read on!

Comic book movies make money, in most cases they make a lot of money.  We’re talking money of Uncle Scrooge McDuck proportions.  If you had the kind of money a comic book movie generates, you could swim around in a money bin full of gold coins.  You’d probably get pink eye though.  Who knows where that money has been?  Gross.

"I'm going to infect all of Duckburg with Pink eye!"

“I’m going to infect all of Duckburg with Pink eye!”

Now that Hollywood has been making so much money off of the comic book films, it makes sense that EVERY DAMN CHARACTER WILL GET THEIR OWN MOVIE!  Well, maybe not every character, but some titles and characters that are obscure to the average movie goer are going to find a home at the Box Office nearest you.  As far as movie rights, the Marvel characters are tied up in weird and somewhat unprecedented legal red tape that creates rather interesting situations. (Well interesting for I, the Nerd of Mass Distraction) You see, the film rights for the Marvel Characters aren’t all held by Marvel Studios (A branch of Disney, with some initial co-operation by Paramount Studios).  The rights to various Superheroes and their related characters are held by different studios.

20th Century Fox has the rights for:  All X-Men related characters (X-men, X-Force, X-Factor, X-Babies), The Silver Surfer, All Fantastic Four related Characters and Scarlet Witch and Quick Silver (They’re X-Men related, but remember their names because that’s where things get weird….)

Sony Pictures has the rights for:  Spider-Man and all Spider-Man related characters (Sinister Six, Morbius the living Vampire, Venom and Spider-Ham…oh, he’s real.)

Marvel Studios holds the rights to:  Well, everything else.  Any character not held by Fox or Sony is fair game for Marvel Studios.  Here comes the weird part….Since Marvel Studios holds the rights to the Avengers and Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were in the Avengers in early issues of the comics, both Fox and Marvel hold the rights.  So that’s why we saw Quicksilver in X-Men Days of Future Past (Fox) and SPOILER>>>>>>>>>> That is why Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were in the post credit scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Marvel Studios).

While confusing, all of this film rights mess is actually a good thing.  If Marvel Studios had the rights to all of the big franchises like Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four, they would never make films about the more obscure characters like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

For that, I am thankful for all the legal red tape because I have loved the Guardians of the Galaxy since I was a kid.  Although, that’s where things become a little confusing.  The Guardians that I used to read in the 90’s are very different from the Guardians of today.  In fact, there are actually three majorly different incarnations of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Future Guardians  

The Original team of Guardians of the Galaxy actually began way back in 1969 in Marvel Super-Heroes issue 18.  The book was essentially Marvel’s version of DC’s Legion of Super Heroes, the stories were set 1,000 years in the future.  The original stories featured:

Clockwise from the top: Major Victory (A time displaced human from the 20th century), Charlie-27 (A genetically engineered worker from Jupiter), Martinex (A crystal skinned warrior from Pluto), and Yondu (A blue skinned warrior from Alpha-centauri who is connected to nature....sounds like Avatar....hmmmm.), Nikki (A woman from Mercury with fire hair). and Star Hawk (The incarnation of a Hawk like cosmic deity)

Clockwise from the top: Major Victory (A time displaced human from the 20th century), Charlie-27 (A genetically engineered worker from Jupiter), Martinex (A crystal skinned warrior from Pluto), and Yondu (A blue skinned warrior from Alpha-centauri who is connected to nature….sounds like Avatar….hmmmm.), Nikki (A woman from Mercury with fire hair). and Star Hawk (The incarnation of a Hawk like cosmic deity)

The original team popped in and out of specials one shot books and sort of faded into obscurity.  They did not get their own book  until 1990 when Writer/Artist Jim Valentino launched the first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy just 21 years after their debut.

My brother's trashed my original copy in the 90s...I bought a new one for $1 at Nostalgic Books and Comics in San Gabriel, CA....Thanks, Pete!

My brother’s trashed my original copy in the 90’s…I bought a new one at Nostalgic Books and Comics in San Gabriel, CA….Thanks, Pete!

I loved the 90’s book because it really embraced the roots of Marvel History.  Jim Valentino and crew seemed to have a lot of fun with the idea of these characters living in the future of the Marvel universe.  Major Victory used Captain America’s shield.  There was an alien version of Dr. Strange. Wolverine had feral, warrior descendant named Rancor who searched for his adamantium skeleton.  The Vision had evolved from an android to become Mainframe, a planet sized Artificial Intelligence.  Wonderman (Simon Williams) had become an immortal hero known as Hollywood and went on to form a spin-off team, the Galactic Guardians.  A cult of Punisher obsessed maniacs roam New York killing everyone in their path.  Perhaps one of the coolest homages in the 90’s book were the Stark, an alien race who worshiped Iron Man and Tony Stark.    The book went on for 62 issues and the characters pretty much vanished.

The Annihilation Wave Guardians       

In 2007 Marvel launched a sequel to their popular science fiction epic, Annihilation called Annihilation: Conquest.  The book created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning gave us the new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  This team was a ragtag group of cosmic heroes all brought together to defeat the threat of the Phalanx, an alien race of robot like beings whom assimilate organic life into cyber beings.  (Pretty much a rip off of the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation).  Unlike the original team, the adventures of this group were based in the contemporary Marvel Universe.  After defeating the Phalanx, Star Lord gathered the team together to create a force that stops threats before they even have a chance to start.  The book debuted in 2008.  This new team featured:

Clockwise from top: Adam Warlock, Quasar, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Star-Lord, and Gamora.

Clockwise from top: Adam Warlock (originally Adam was a very Christ like cosmic protector…his creator Roy Thomas was inspired by the musical Jesus Christ: Superstar), Quasar (The female wielder of the cosmic powered Nega-bands), Rocket Raccoon (A gun toting alien who resembles an Earth Raccoon….his creator Bill Mantlo was inspired by the Beatles song, Rocky Raccoon.), Drax (A once human man who was ressurected by aliens to become an unstoppable killing machine against the evil Thanos), Star-Lord (The half human son of an alien prince), and Gamora (The assassin step daughter of Thanos). Groot, the living tree like alien who can only say his own name is not pictured.

The stories were very fun, cosmic tales about a team of losers who shouldn’t even be working together.  The team dynamic was fun and structured very well.  Rocket Raccoon was the wisecracking wacky guy, Groot was the strong silent type (And sort of served as Rocket’s closest friend, he kept him in a flower pot for a portion of the story) Drax and Gamora were the distant warriors who were trying to reconnect with their all but lost compassionate sides, Adam Warlock was the world (Universe) weary traveler who was sort of crotchety and upset that not everyone knew as much as he did, Quasar was the fresh hero who was trying to live up to the legacy of her slain predecessor and Star Lord was the reluctant leader trying to bring all of these unstable forces together for the greater good.   The stories had a military vibe to them and read like a cosmic version of Kelly’s Heroes.

 

Well....without Don Rickles  as a talking Raccoon...

Well….without Don Rickles as a talking Raccoon…

 

The book went on for 25 issues and actually inspired Marvel Studios to get the production rolling for a film version.  As the film was being produced, Marvel had a problem…there was not a Guardians of the Galaxy comic on the shelves to amp up publicity for the movie.  So, Brian Michael Bendis and Steve Mcniven launched a third volume.

Marvel Now! Guardians         

As part of the Marvel Now! relaunch of books (Marvel took almost all their comics, canceled the current runs and re-launched every issue as a new #1 ) the newest incarnation of the Guardians pretty much featured the movie line up of Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Gamora, and Groot.  While the new book is still a pretty good and enjoyable read, it is pretty much just a tie in for the movie, existing to build early interest in the movie.

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And now a quick scorecard for the uninitiated (Print this, cut it out and bring it to the movie):  

AHHH! There's so much information! MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE!!!!

AHHH! There’s so much information! MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE!!!!

 

The Good Guys:

Star Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldona), Rocket Raccoon (Voice of Bradley Cooper), Groot (Voice of Vin Diesel), Drax (Dave Bautista)

The Bad Guys:

Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace):  The deadly, near indestructible enforcer for the Kree Alien race.

ronanblend

 

Thanos (Josh Brolin):  An alien being from Titan whom is obsessed with death and seeks to destroy half the universe…you may recognize him from the end of the Avengers movie where he flashes a terrifying smile of evil.

thanosblend

 

Yondu (Michael Rooker):  One of the original Guardians of the Galaxy in the comic books, this version of Yondu is more of a greedy, manipulative bounty hunter.  He is more of an Anti-hero and may actually be on the side of good in the end.

The last guy who made a smurf joke got kicked in the face....

The last guy who made a smurf joke got kicked in the face….

Nebula (Karen Gillian):  The cosmic powered step-daugher of Thanos.

nebulablend

 

The others:  

Nova Corp:  A military organization that polices the galaxy, using Nova officers such as Corpsman Dey (John C. Reilly) and Nova Prime (Glenn Close).  In the comics, Corpsman Dey comes to Earth and trains Richard Ryder, a young man who eventually becomes Earth’s Nova. Richard Ryder is rumored to play a role in the movie, at least in a cameo.    Look for the Nova Corp to play a big part in this and future movies.

Quasar:  The female version of Quasar was a member of the 2nd incarnation of the comic book guardians and there is a rumor that her predecessor, Shield Agent Wendel Vaughn will play a role in the Marvel Movies.  Perhaps he will have a cameo here….

The Collector (Benicio Del Toro):  A strange alien who is collecting powerful cosmic artifacts.  He was featured at the end of the Thor: The Dark World film.  In that movie, the Collector comments on gathering “Infinity stones”.  In the comics, Thanos gathers infinity gems and uses them to power the infinity gauntlet which he uses to wipe out half the universe.

The Kree:  A race of technologically advanced warrior aliens, the Kree have a strange hierarchy led by the Supreme Intelligence, a giant green alien head floating in a massive tank.  The super hero Captain Mar-Vel was a former Kree warrior turned protector of Earth.  He would later empower Carol Danvers who would become Ms. Marvel.

The Knowhere:  A strange massive headquarters for the Guardians of the Galaxy that is in the nexus of multiple realities.  The headquarters is more than a space station it is actually the giant head of a dead cosmic being called a Celestial.  It is rumored that the Knowhere will be featured in the film.

"I'm going to need a lot of Visine to flush that space ship out of my eye...."

“I’m going to need a lot of Visine to flush that space ship out of my eye….”

Not only did I get my head chopped off but now people are livin' in it?  What a revoltin' development.

Not only did I get my head chopped off but now people are livin’ in it? What a revoltin’ development.

Howard the Duck:  There is a rumor going around that the humanoid Duck from another universe is going to have a cameo.  While the Howard the Duck movie is universally hated….I really liked it when it came out.  I was just a kid though when I last saw it.  I opened with Scrooge and I am closing with Howard….

This is from the climactic Rocket vs. Howard shoot out scene.....or maybe not...

This is from the climactic Rocket vs. Howard shoot out scene…..or maybe not…

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As you can see, the Guardians have a really rich history and this movie could draw on that and either be really great….or it could forsake its comic book roots and just be terrible.  From everything we’ve seen, it looks to be a fun homage to the comics.  I’ll give a review when I watch the film tomorrow.  Let me know what you think.

Pop back in for more nerdy fun.

 

 

 

 

Waiting on the front porch

 In Northern California, back when I was a kid, there was a major upsurge in child abductions.  Kids would be walking home from school and just never make it home. I remember vividly watching the news and seeing the pain in the eyes of tortured parents who have been waiting for their kids to come home.  I just imagined these poor parents sitting on their front porch, or their stoop and their just looking out toward the horizon, praying that their children will be walking down the driveway, laughing and brimming with life.
Today, my heart aches for those parents even stronger then before.  A week ago, my wife Mercedes and I were expecting a new life.  A new addition to our wonderful, crazy, wonderfully crazy family.  Excitedly, I told a lot of our friends and family, beating Mercy to the punch in some instances.  We were both very happy, but something felt off.  There was just this overall sense that something was missing, like there was a piece of the puzzle just out of reach.   When you have a feeling like that, you just tell yourself that you’re exaggerating or being a worry wort and you stuff it into the back of your mind and forget all about it.  That feeling was still there, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to think about it, let alone really talk about it.
We talked about names, gender, rearranging the house, rearranging our lives and the fact that we could be insane for wanting another child….you know, all of the usual stuff associated with having babies.  I started a blog post called “Baby:  The sequel”.  Here’s what I had so far:

If having a baby was a movie, it would most certainly have to be a Michael Bay movie.  Yeah, I know, we all want to think having a baby is really sweet and nostalgic like a John Hughes film.  Two incredibly witty, incredibly photogenic people (That’s Mercy and I in a nutshell) meet up.  There’s friction at first, they eventually fall in love and have a baby and there’s wacky hijinks with kooky parents and goofy doctors and maybe some kind of rush to the hospital with Martin Short as a Russian cab driver….that’s what we all want anyway.  What we get is explosions, crazy off the wall characters and a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t make any sense at all.  Ok, the explosions are usually emotional (until the baby arrives, then they are scatological.) My wife and I went through our first action movie….”Baby:  The reckoning”.  It was a wild ride with German doctors (Think Hans Gruber, but really nice and really old.), ticking time bombs (Never deprive a pregnant woman of her breakfast burrito.), and gnarly scars (Have you ever seen a C-section? Rambo couldn’t even handle that…not even Rambo.)  Now we are about to have the sequel…”Baby 2:  Probably another girl…sorry dad.”  Why would anyone put themselves through the craziness again?  Well, we love each other very much, we love our children and we are clinically insane.  We must be right?  And the girl thing isn’t a joke, I want a boy….yet I know this is going to be a girl.  Which  means I am going to have to pay for a lot of weddings in the future.  Does anyone have four more job openings for me, I’ll need some more cash flow.

I didn’t expand on it and I didn’t post it.  I wanted to, yet that nagging feeling kept bothering me.  I decided to wait until we had the first ultrasound.  I was going to post the ultrasound picture, just like I had done with Luna.   A few days passed after we first learned we were expecting and my wife and I kept talking about names.  If it was a boy we would go with Delbert, my late Grandfather’s name, or Bowie (after David Bowie) or Ryan (I was against that one, that was all Mercy’s idea)….or this or that….the boy name was always up in the air.  Mercy knew we were going to have a girl and as much as I joked and protested that we had too much estrogen in the household already, so did I.  This baby was going to be a girl, we both knew it.  Mercy didn’t have too many candidates for a girl’s name.  She loved the name Cielo.  We both did.  It was so natural.  We have a Luna and we would have a baby Cielo.  The Moon and Heaven.

Unfortunatly, the ultrasound we were waiting for never came.  On Monday, 7/21/14 Mercy lost the baby.  I struggle to find words to describe either of our emotions right now.  Sad would be an understatement. Mercy is naturally saddened and shaken, but not devastated.  She is the strongest woman I have ever known in my life.   I wish I had her strength.  All I can do is hug her.  When the time is right and I see that glint in her eye, I will try to make her smile, maybe even laugh.  For now, hugs are good and tears are natural.
We have God in our lives and in our hearts and we both know that this little life that has slipped from our grasp is not lost.  She is with God.  Our Cielo is in Heaven where she belongs.  And while it is a different type of loss, I still feel and relate to those ever waiting parents.  In this case, know Cielo is in Heaven waiting with God for Mommy and Daddy to come home.

“What was she thinking?” An anthropological guide to teenage girls.

"So I walks into a bar and I orders ten beers and I says...put it on my bill!  Get it!  Why don't anyone laugh at me jokes?  I'm a freak!  A freak!!"

“So I walks into a bar and I orders ten beers and I says…put it on my bill! Get it! Why don’t anyone laugh at me jokes? I’m a freak! A freak!!”

What is the function of the mighty Platypus?  If we were to be part of some kind of cosmically aware sentient Google Earth and we zoomed out and looked down on creation, could we see what part the odd Platypus plays in the theatrical production that is life?  No, probably not.  The same could be said about the twice as mysterious Teenage girl.  What are they thinking?  What do they want?  When will they stop talking?  WHEN?  WHEN?  WHEN?!!!!  The joy of parenthood.

My wife, Mercy and I began raising my sister Michelea when she was just 10 years old…It seemed so much easier then.  Once she was acclimated to a lifestyle that didn’t include the continuous consumption of pixie sticks she stopped fidgeting enough to fall in love with reading and playing outside and just being a kid.  She would just run around fighting imaginary zombies until it was time for dinner….then we would read the Witches.  While only six years ago, those days of imaginary ghouls and Roald Dahl seem so long ago.  Fictitious zombies faded away to make room for real life ghouls like the disgusting Black Veil Brides.

"What do you mean we ripped off Kiss?  We meant to rip off Motley Crue!"

“What do you mean we ripped off Kiss? We meant to rip off Motley Crue!”

Seriously, have you seen these jokers?  It is as if they worshiped at the altar of Aqua net and Motley Crue.  If you thought Motley Crue was a lousy band, you haven’t heard anything until you’ve listened to this collection of groaning imbeciles.  Michelea:  “Oh can I please see the Black Veil brides….please?  It would be so Amazing!”  Me: “I’d rather have a tarantula bite my left eye while a howler monkey beats me in the head with a ratchet.”

I'd rather have this happen than listen to Black Veil Brides.

I’d rather have this happen than listen to Black Veil Brides.

Whimsical and creative fiction from the minds of Maurice Sendak, Mark Twain and Shel Silverstein  became cookie cutter drivel like Twilight and the Hunger Games.  I will concede that the Hunger Games is actually written well but the concept is just like any ordinary summer blockbuster.  You all know Twilight and if you’re not a girl ages 12-16 you know that it is just plain silly and sometimes downright insulting to the female gender.  “I don’t care if he’s an unholy creature of the night and he wants to suck my blood and he’s kind of a diva and a jerk….I love him!”  Now if that doesn’t sound like someone struggling with battered wife/girlfriend syndrome, I don’t know what does.  “Hey girls, it’s okay to like a guy who treats you like crap as long as he has magical powers! WHEEEEEEEEE!” Luckily Michelea is over that trend.  Okay actually when her grades were slumping I threw every last one of her vampire books away.  I would like to think that somewhere there was a garbage man that was about to throw the books in the trash compactor when his fellow burly garbage man stopped him and said:  “Are you insane Carl?  That’s Marked, the first volume in the House of Night series!  I love to read about the struggles of young Zoey Redbird and the world of vampires!”

"No Zoey Redbird!  Don't fall for the dashing young vampire, he'll just break your immortal heart!"

“No Zoey Redbird! Don’t fall for the dashing young vampire, he’ll just break your immortal heart!”

 

Of course these are all just phases in the mad world of teenage-girldom.  One phase that seems to last FOREVER is that all teenage girls know better than you.  According to a council of teenage girls, the teenage girl brain is like that of Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer all rolled into one.  This of course is a biased conclusion.  One such memorable teenage brain moment came when Michelea was insistent on telling me that the Getty Villa was in Miami.  Miami, California.  I corrected her as nicely and as diplomatically as I could.  “Don’t be a moron, Miami is not in California!”  To this she replied:  “You don’t understand!  It’s in Miami, California.”  So I showed her a map and she was quiet for about two hours.  That was the plus side.  However, teenage girls don’t stay quiet for long and they tend to share their opinions with everyone in ear shot, as Mercy can tell you.

Mercy and Michelea were arguing over a word in a book….ugh, I believe it was in Twilight.  Michelea swore up and down that there was a word pronounced “Chow-es”.  Since my wife has lived longer than a teenager and you know, can read and stuff she disagreed.  To which Michelea responded:  “You just don’t understand!  This is a word you probably know nothing about!  It’s Chow-es, It’s Chow-es!”  Teens see themselves as world weary pioneers and think that they have discovered everything for the first time and we as adults are just some kind of dim witted country bumpkins.  So, the common battle cry for the ego wounded teen girl is “You don’t understand!”  Of course in this instance I was the official, reluctant and scared referee.  The word was Chaos.  Chow-es is not a word, sorry to disappoint you.  And yes Michelea, we do understand Chaos, it’s called having a teenager.

Pictured:  The Chow-es of having a teenage girl in the house.

Pictured: The Chow-es of having a teenage girl in the house.

 

 

“Dad, what’s a blog? Does it live the swamp?” Lunaisms.

For the past few days I have been really listening to my children.  Yes, I know this comes as a shock to many.  Don’t worry, I’m not listening to them because I suddenly am trying to be a competent member of the family.  I’m listening to them because they are just so funny and people like to read funny things.

Today, let’s look at the many funny, baffling, and ludicrous things my three year old, Luna  will say. I call them Luna-isms.  It’s amazing when you think about it because she really does have an opinion on all facets of life, even if she doesn’t actually understand 88 % of the world around her.

 

Our miniature philosopher displaying her serene calmness.

Our miniature philosopher displaying her serene calmness.

LOCAL POLITICS:

Me:  “Do you know who the mayor of Los Angeles is?”

Luna:  “Grandpa.”

Me:  “Really?  Grandpa is the Mayor of Los Angeles?”

Garcetti, Not Grandpa

Garcetti, Not Grandpa

Luna:  “He told me not to walk in the living room with cookies.”

Me:  “What does a mayor do?”

Luna:  “He’s a boss.  Bossers like to take naps.  I can’t eat cookies in your bed anymore because I leave crumbs.”

NATIONAL POLITICS:

Me:  “Who is the President of the United States?”

Luna:  “The President is Obama.  He lives in the statue of Americas.”

Current resident of the Statue of America...according to my 3 year old.

Current resident of the Statue of America…according to my 3 year old.

Me: “What does he do?”

Luna:  “I need more money.”

Me:  “Yeah, so do I.”

ENTERTAINMENT:

Me:  “What is your favorite movie?”

Luna:  “Cinderella Blue.  She is Cinderella and she wears a blue dress and she has glass shoes.

After all that fast food, she might not fit into those glass slippers either.

After all that fast food, she might not fit into those glass slippers either.

Me:  “She wears glass shoes? Won’t they break?”

Luna:  “Girls won’t break glass shoes.  You can’t wear glass shoes because you are a big man.  And you have a beard.  Beard people can’t wear glass shoes.”

Me:  “What is your favorite show on television.”

Luna:  “I like to Eye Spy and Timothy goes to school.  You say Timothy goes to jail….I don’t like that!  Policers are going to take YOU to jail.  It’s a bad choice and get out of this family.”

Me:  “Okay, I will leave.”

Luna:  “No!  I love you.  I was just making a joke.”

FINE CUISINE:

Me:  “What is your favorite food.”

Luna:  “I like Pancakes with cherry eyeballs and sausage mouths and you eat them fast.”

Me:  “That sounds really good.”

Luna:  “It’s not for you.  Only girls.  Boys eat rocks.”

RELIGION:

Me:  “What do we do at Church?”

Luna:  “We sing Blessed be the name and then all the children stand up and pray and then they go to Sunday school and we talk about Jesus.”

Me:  “What did Jesus do?”

Luna:  “Jesus made good choices and wanted everybody to be good and some bad people made bad choices and they made Jesus pass away.  Then Jesus was in a cave and he pushed a rock and came out for Easter.  Children hunt Easter eggs and eat chocolates.  I like Chocolates.  Daddy do we have candy?”

Pictured:  Luna's dream Easter.

Pictured: Luna’s dream Easter.

Next time:  Michelea-isms, true tales of the weird things a teenager says.

 

Tonight’s Episode: “The hardest post I’ve ever had to write.” Or “A very special episode of Blossom.”

veryspecial

Nerds of Mass Distraction has been sleeping for a while. If you have followed the blog in its many incarnations in the past, you may have noticed that I haven’t updated anything in bloggo formo in a long time. While I have been introducing the new facebook page and dumping as much nerd based material onto that as I can, I have missed the personal depth that a blog can provide. Done right, a blog is kind of like viewing a piece of someone’s personality. That’s what I tried to capture over the years. If you read the blog you get to know me, at least just a little. To really explain why I haven’t touched the blog in a while is to delve into a very serious subject, one that few people talk about, but things need to be brought to light. So on that note, take some time to compose yourself….laugh break starting in 5….4….3….2…..1….

spamviking

 

 

Okay, are you done? Good. In January of this year I had an incredibly traumatic experience, something that would soon trigger a chain of events that changed my life in many ways. My lovely wife was giving me a back rub, as lovely wives tend to do. Out of the blue I was hit over the head with a horrendous memory of my childhood. A memory that had been locked inside my mind for over 25 years. I pushed my wife away and began to sob uncontrollably. I had just came to the realization that I had been sexually abused as a child. Now as odd as it sounds, repressed memories are not uncommon, especially for someone who experienced a traumatic event at such a young age.

For both legal and privacy reasons, I will not go into the Who’s and the How’s all too much.  The fact is, that my abuser was someone who had abused many people in and around my family and did serve jail time for two of those crimes. Before this sudden and traumatic flashback, I only remembered and acknowledged one such event of abuse by this man but suddenly after January I would suddenly be ambushed by wave after wave of horrible memories. As these flashbacks continued to provide clues to the bigger puzzle, I talked to family members, asked questions and put the pieces together. Soon I came to the horrific realization that I had been abused for at least three years (That I can remember) From this January to now I have had my emotions just flipped upside down and blended into mush. I would get angry for no apparent reason, I’d yell, I’d cry….I was a mess.

Thankfully, God has blessed me with an amazing wife. Mercedes has been both a rock to keep me anchored and sane and a safety net to catch me when I am falling due to one of these emotionally overloading flashbacks. Let me tell you, they are incredibly painful to experience. I never know what the trigger will be and suddenly for a brief moment I am no longer in the present day, I am reliving that moment where my six year old self is frightened and powerless. Not to take away from the seriousness at all, to me, the experience is very much like Quantum Leap….instead of my consciousness jumping into JFK or Babe Ruth it jumps into my younger self and I am back there in the 1980s scared out of my mind. While these experiences don’t last a long time, they feel like an eternity. Some are very brief with a little impact while others send me falling to my knees crying.  Amazingly, this experience has brought us closer together than ever before.  I am so blessed by God that I have a strong, powerful and courageous wife otherwise I’d be a raving lunatic.  Mercedes Castro-Miller, I love you so much.  (Okay, I promise I will stop embarrassing you, Wifey-Poo…well, I just did it again, didn’t I?)

My church has been incredibly helpful as well, I have awesome guidance through my Pastor, Richard and his wife, Jennifer.  They have both kept me grounded and reminded me that I am loved and I am NOT TO BLAME for what was done to me.  I wish I could say that I found love and support all around, but I would be lying. Sadly we live in a society that would rather sweep the truth of sexual abuse under the rug and pretend there aren’t abusers rather than have fruitful and productive discussions on the topic. When I told my mother about what I’ve been going through she said “I’m really sorry that happened to you.” My father on the other hand said “Well it happened a long, long time ago. You should really get over it.” Needless to say, I haven’t spoken with him since then and I have no immediate desire to speak with him any time soon.  Also on my father’s side of the family I’ve had and aunt and a cousin who accused my wife of convincing me to “make up stories to stir up shit”.  I’ve stopped talking to them too.  Family can be a magical thing, can’t it?  Sadly, I’m not the only person who has had to face these ignorant types of people.

The topic of sexual abuse is like the proverbial Sasquatch in the living room, you can cover it up with a blanket and pretend it isn’t there, but that doesn’t make it go away and it doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Men, women and children are in danger everyday from predators who wear the disguises of friends, family, civil servants, clergy and what have you. For whatever reason males who have been sexually abused get ignored in our society. We have our cultural stigma that a boy/man can handle anything and “They’ll be okay…just tough it up….” The problematic misconception is getting worse. In my case the abuser was a man. However in our society if a woman abuses a young man many people say he’s “lucky” or she’s a “cougar”.  No, he is a survivor of sexual abuse and she is a predator…end of discussion.

We need to stop ignoring the abuse and start supporting the survivors rather than treating them like jokes or pariahs. That’s why I am telling my story today. Yes, I know I write a funny little blog about family, fatherhood, comics and being a nerd but it is a good platform as any to bring this dark subject to light.  Now as I am beginning counseling, I am slowly starting to be comfortable again in my own skin and comfortable interacting with people.  It’s a slow and steady process as with any post traumatic stress, but the healing has begun.

For anyone new to my blog who may be startled or offended by the little sprinklings of humor I put in this post….get over it.   One thing my wife is helping me with as we go through this experience is that I need to stop holding back who I am for the sake of sparing the feelings of others.  That side of me is definitely on its way out.  This is who I am and if you don’t like it you can take a walk.  I always try to bring humor and humanity to topics I write about and I will not allow this traumatic experience to change that.  Any sane person will realize that I am not making light of sexual abuse.  The truth is sometimes bitter and painful to swallow so I am just giving it the candy shell of humor.

So with that said, you’ll start to see a lot more of me and my blog and soon we will be back to that point where you all get sick of my rants once again.  As always thank you for reading and may you forever be nerdy.

For the  facts on sexual abuse please visit these sites, they’ve helped me:

One in Six:  A resource for Male survivors of sexual abuse.  This site really helped me a lot when I was first coming to terms with my experience.  There is a wealth of information here for men.

Male Survivor:   Another great resource for Men who have been sexually abused.  There are a lot of great resources here.

RAINN:  This is an excellent resource for anyone who has been sexually abused.  This is probably one of the best general sites out there on the subject.

 

 

A new year….A new outlook…A new Post!

2013 is gone…it’s dead and I killed it! YAY! Sure, the past year brought out some good things in our lives. I just felt that the negative seemed to outweigh the good in a lot of ways, both personally and creatively. Even Pop culture seemed to have a darker edge to it.

Iron Man 3 (An excellent movie) gave us a neurotic, damaged Tony Stark. Man of Steel (Spoiler commencing in 5….4…3…2…1) featured a Superman whom killed his enemy as a last resort rather than having a firm line against killing. (I warned you about the spoiler…the movie stank so don’t bother.) Worst of all was the harbinger of death that was the MTV Video Music Awards of 2013….Let’s not even speak of that unimaginable horror.

The tounge of the apocalypse.

The tounge of the apocalypse.

Not all of 2013 was bad…there were a few bright spots and despite it all, through the grace of God…we made it out alive! So, with that venom leached out of my system, let’s put the bad behind us and concentrate on the good. Here now, submitted for your approval is a list, just like all the other lists that Nerds such as myself love to compile. This is the list of….

THE BEST OF THE NERD WORLD 2013
(This is all my opinion. If you disagree…nothing at all will happen.)

BEST COMIC SERIES OF 2013

Astro City

Thankfully, Hollywood Producer Jon Peters had nothing to do with this giant metal spider.

Thankfully, Hollywood Producer Jon Peters had nothing to do with this giant metal spider.

As with every single year, 2013 saw the release of many different books, some new, some re-launches and reboots. The book that had me hooked with every single issue was Astro City, hands down! This was Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s return to the hit series that they launched in the mid 90’s.

This new volume brought us a strange new character known as the Broken Man…a somewhat cosmic being (SPOILER AHEAD…He might also an inmate of a loony bin) who narrates the first issue and warns of a new menace. Busiek returns to doing what he does best and giving us super hero stories as witnessed by everyday people. Brent Anderson and Alex Ross help bring these already believable characters to life, creating excellent interiors (Anderson) and photo realistic covers (Ross). I think the best issue of the new launch is issue 5. This story deviates from the usual formula where either a hero or man on the street is the focus. In this issue, we are once again in the presence of the Broken Man and he is putting us in the driver’s seat as we witness his crazy home made timeline. We, the reader wander off and receive small tidbits of really promising storylines that we have to savor like an appetizer before the Broken Man pulls us away. It is an amazing issue that showcases the storytelling strengths of both Busiek and Anderson with one of the best covers Ross ever painted.

BEST SINGLE ISSUE OF 2013

Locke and Key Alpha #2

Seriously, this was one out of a billion cover variants from this issue.  They were all really good!

Seriously, this was one out of a billion cover variants from this issue. They were all really good!

The Locke and Key saga from IDW by writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez started waaaay back in 2008 and was released in a slow drip. Like morphine in an IV drip at a hospital. Also like morphine, the series was wildly addicting. Telling the story of the Locke family and their battle with evil, the book gave us all too human characters over the years. We meet the Locke Family and soon witness the murder of patriarch Mr. Locke by a psychotic young man named Sam Lesser. Soon the family moves to the ancestral Locke family home, the Key House and that’s when things really get weird. The house is host to mystic properties, most importantly magical keys that grant various powers and abilities. Soon a generations old evil is released and an unfinished family story is forced to unfold. Alpha #2 gives us the final curtain call…in the most perfect way possible. (Sorta Spoilers ahead) Evil is not only vanquished, but pardoned and released from eternal torment. Those whom were thought to have fallen return (Okay, just one. Everyone else who dies in the Drowning Cave stays dead. Sorry.) And the family grows, leading to the possibilities of future adventures. I do not recommend this story for a new reader, it’s not that kind of single issue. However, in one single issue, the amazing story is wrapped up in a brilliantly written and lavishly illustrated bow.

BEST NERD FLICK OF 2013

WORLD’S END

Speaking of Variant...this comic book style "World's End" movie poster rocks!

Speaking of Variant…this comic book style “World’s End” movie poster rocks!

Just like with Locke and Key, the Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost Science Fiction, Action Comedy World’s End is the ending chapter in an amazing work of art. What started in Shawn of the Dead and continued in Hot Fuzz is wrapped up in World’s End. While the movies aren’t related story wise, they are all created by the same people and loaded full of Easter Eggs and bonuses that tie each film together. The major tie is that an Ice Cream flavor from the Cornetto company is featured some way in each film. This story is the most mature and dark of the three, it still has a major amount of laughs and thrills that any warm blooded Nerd would love. The movie handles action in a way that makes me very, very excited to see the Edgar Wright Ant-Man movie. If Wright can make a pub crawl this exciting, imagine what he can do with the Avenger’s most over looked member.

BEST SUPER HERO FLICK of 2013

IRON MAN 3

Another cool poster from Collider (The World's End poster is also from there)

Another cool poster from Collider (The World’s End poster is also from there)

Since this movie came so early in the year, it is sort of hard to believe that it was released in 2013. Giving us a psychologically damaged Tony Stark, we bear witness to his world crumbling apart after the events of the Avengers. Directed and Co-Written by Shane Black (And Co-Written by Robert Downey Jr.) Iron Man 3 was everything that a super hero follow up should be…intriguing. The movie pulled you in because it didn’t follow the all to predictable path. Even the end of the movie left many people wondering about the status quo of Iron Man. The villain of the film was another really cool twist because it gave us something that we just didn’t see coming. Was it true to the comic book…every part but the Mandrin’s movie origin was as close as you would expect from a movie adaptation. Whether you’re a comic book fan or just an action movie addict there is something to be found for everyone. Unless you were a fan of the traditional Mandrin…but he was sort of a walking, talking racial slur, so you shouldn’t be a big fan.

BEST ETC. OF 2013

Here is a quick list of the people, places and things that I Nerded out on in 2013

Day of the Doctor (The 50th anniversary of Dr. Who)

John Hurt as The War Doctor

Superior Spider-Man becoming a surprisingly great book

Arrow on television

Agents of SHIELD

Ben Affleck cast as Batman (Just kidding.)

A look at 2014…since we’re actually in 2014.

As the new year approaches, my family and I are all in brighter happier moods. Yes, we are still not on our feet financially but our faith has strengthened ten fold, so did our love. (Sorry to get sappy, but the truth is the truth.)  Good things are on the horizon for 2014.  I am going to start working in Special Education again, my lovely wife, Mercedes has just returned to college to finish her Childhood Development degrees, My teen, Michelea is even more teenish than ever before (Yay?) and is going to start her Junior year of High School sooner than I want to think about, and the toddler is turning Three and her throat condition is officially gone.  (YAY!)

On the writing front, my good friend Gerry Castro and I are working on a Magazine about the Paranormal that will see the light of day later in 2014.  We’re shooting for Fall….Summer if at all possible.  The magazine will tackle all sorts of topics related to the weird and unexplained.  Of course it will have a sense of humor and wit that you’ve come to expect…or hate.  More details on that to come…If you have any stories or encounters with the paranormal, feel free to contact me.

Back in this blog, expect to see more comic book reviews, movie news, and some more obscure exposes on Nerd topics.  Next up….After our move from Alhambra to East Los Angeles, I finally went through my box ‘o books and found that old Strayer stories book about M.L. Strayer.  I will post the very rare 1954 Interview of Stayer and her Husband just months before they disappeared.  Plus…A Strayer update of sorts….2014 is going to be a wild year.