Herb Trimpe

14
Apr

I found out today that artist Herb Trimpe passed away. Perhaps you’ve not heard the name before, but you’ve probably heard of The Incredible Hulk, who Trimpe worked on for most of the 1970s, establishing many of the character’s iconic elements, Wolverine, a character first drawn by Trimpe (who he also co-created with Len Wein and John Romita), and GI:Joe, the long-running action toy line, defined in large part by Marvel Comics’ seminal 151 issue run in the 1980s, whose first issues were drawn by Trimpe (and more than anything else, was the book that hooked me on comics in the first place).

I had the honor of meeting Mr. Trimpe a couple of times at VA Comicon events, where I found him to be gracious, charming, and a hell of storyteller, comfortably holding court with the fans sharing tales about working in Marvel’s “bullpen” with Stan Lee and the rest (although he did most of his work at home) during the “silver age”, much to the delight of all the fans and admirers present. He also signed a couple of my early GI:JOE issues, which hold places of particular honor in my collection. I’d tried several times to get a couple of pages of his original art (really good stuff), but always got outbid.

It’s always a shame when we lose one of the greats; especially someone as consistently great and prolific (if not as well-known) as Herb Trimpe. This is just my small attempt to bring these things to light.

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back to the real world

14
Apr

Had a great long weekend playing rock star. The band was tight, the headliners were gracious, the venues were excellent, and the audience was appreciative. Couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Plus we layed down tracks for half-a-dozen songs for the next record. One more item struck from the bucket list.

Now I go back to the mundane and sometimes frustrating life of an IT project manager. Oh well.

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this weekend…the tour

09
Apr

If you happen to be in or around North Carolina this weekend, why not swing by The Cary Theater on Friday night or The Green Bean Coffeehouse in Greensboro on Sunday for some live music?

I’ll be sitting in on bass with The Blibbering Humdingers for both shows, opening for wizard rock pioneers Harry and the Potters, which, if you know anything about the genre, is a big honking deal.

I’m looking forward to it because we always have a lot of fun doing this, and it’s my first real break from work since I started this job, which is long overdue. See you out there!

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my inner 9 year old just screamed

01
Apr

Like a lot of latchkey Gen-Xers in the 80s, I spent a lot of time with the TV babysitter. The early 80s was also the advent of cable TV, complete with the old style plastic woodgrain channel-changey boxes and all that. In what must have been ’83 or ’84, we had HBO for a while. During that time, I saw the movie Poltergeist many times, because some sadistic HBO programmer thought putting freaky scary movies like that on TV at 10am when little kids are watching would be funny.

I guess it was. Most of the movie wasn’t all that bad, but then there was the clown, the leading cause of coulrophobia for an entire decade. that damned thing still creeps me out.

I wasn’t consciously aware of it until today (but given the current entertainment landcape, I probably should have just assumed), but there’s a remake of that classic Tobey Hooper (or was it Speilberg?) horror flick coming out next month. This is the big lobby poster:

I guess I wasn’t the only one that movie scarred, although the new clown is a little too on-the-nose sinister; the old one was creepy precisely because it wasn’t meant to be.

Oh well.

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irony morrissettii

31
Mar

So, my morning today started, as it often does, with my morning bathroom rituals, which are nothing special, and thus I won’t describe them in detail, in deference to common decency…never fear, though, this story gets rather icky anyway…

As you may know, my home is small, and space is at a premium. To save some space, above my toilet is a combination shelving unit/towel rack, upon which sits, among other things, the little black bag in which I keep my personal grooming items and some prescription medication. I keep things in this “toiletry bag” in part because it keeps my relatively modest collection of items together and accessible amongst the occasional avalanche of hair care products and cosmetics my wife and daughter keep there, and partially because I never got out of the habit of using this bag, which was invaluable during my years of business travel.

So, as I entered the bathroom this morning to begin my rituals, I noticed that during the night, one of my children (presumably) left the toilet seat lid up. I noticed this at the same time my entry into the room disturbed some sort of air current or caused a stray vibration, or otherwise upset the delicately crafted feng shui, causing my toiletry bag to take a not-terribly-graceful tumble into it’s namesake bowl.

I hope they remembered to flush. In my rush to retrieve the items, I didn’t spend much time looking.

Luckily, nothing appears to have been permanently damaged, other than a package of dental floss that I’m not going to take any chances with. It seems that my prescription bottles retained enough airtight integrity to not soak the pills, which is good (see the last post for hints on intuiting why), and a good washing of the razor and contact lens case (empty) should solve the rest.

In any case, it was an absolutely wonderful way to start the day. Nothing like slightly disgusting semi-irony to get the blood flowing.

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♫ hello depression my old friend ♫

30
Mar

F**K off, please.

it’s been a tough couple of weeks. No particular thing to point to beyond life and chemical imbalances; it’s just hitting extra hard right now after my working so very hard to hold things together last week, which, on top of other stuff previously expressed, involved begging executive level management for a few million dollars and dealing with some unnecessary information hoarding around the office, and some cyclical household budget stress.

F**k off also, money.

Logically, I can tell that things are moving forward toward better things, but logic and this sort of thing operate on fundamentally different planes of existence, and don’t actually intersect. You can *know* things, but knowledge doesn’t always overcome brain chemistry; no matter how much I would *love* to just cheer up right now, things just don’t work that way.

Anyway, this might be more than you need or care to know about, but I’ve seen firsthand what not talking about this sort of stuff can do to people, and promised myself several years ago that I wasn’t going to perpetuate the “not talking about it” status quo when it comes to things like clinical depression. Most of my motivation is completely altruistic in the sense that talking about it takes some of the stigma away (I’ve got nothing to be embarassed about); which might help someone else, and in talking about things, even in generalities in a public forum like this, is useful for providing information (this link or this one are both pretty helpful), and getting information out there about stuff like this has never hurt anyone in the long run.

As I always say in these sorts of situations, if you’re engaging with me on a personal basis, please be patient; this isn’t my first rodeo; I know this cycle’s going to pass, and I could see it coming (I know the kind of stuff that triggers these things), which makes it easier. I’ll come out the other side, I always do.

One thing that gave me a little respite from wallowing was watching most of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix this weekend; it’s very funny, balancing the borders between dark, light, inappropriate, and true in all the right ways. Plus, there’s the shame puppet.

So, by way of explanation and as a public service, that’s where I am.

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oh the buzzwordity!

27
Mar

My current job, which, I think, maybe, on the whole, I’m going to eventually grow to like, possibly, once I truly come to terms with the fact that I don’t actually make anything anymore so much as enable other people to make thing, involves a lot of business-speak for something that’s nominally in the world of information technology.

As most of you know, I’ve been employed in the public sector for nigh on twenty years (and that’s as specific as I’ll get on the topic), and while I’ve spent most of that time engaging with private sector contractors, the last couple of months has been new in the sense that I’m actually in charge of directing the work they do, rather than just working side-by-side with them. I’ll be honest, it’s probably closer to management than I’m actually comfortable with, but it’s mostly managing stuff that I have some familiarity with, and the folks who do the actual work know what they’re doing and mostly make me look competent.

Occasionally, though, I run into interactions that leave me baffled. One individual I deal with regularly somehow manages, in response to what I’m relatively sure is clear, concise, and unambiguous correspondence, to answer in what feels less like cogent language and more like a textbook from a low-rent MBA program went on a two-week bender with an 80s valley girl, and after getting far too enthusiastic with drink, emptied the contents of their collective insides into my inbox.

To protect the guilty, I’m not going to quote any of it here, but, it’s all short, clipped, incomplete sentences with lots of “paradigm shifting” and “actionable intelligence” and “project statusing” and such, with every paragraph ended with a single word sentence like “Cool?” or “Awesome.”, serving more as punctuation and performance art than adding any value*.

It often takes reading-over several times, and then checking in with a colleague to figure out what this person is actually trying to say. Not the kind of thing I ever look forward to first thing in the morning; it’s baffling and exhausting.

This has been your occasional window into my work life. I promise, I’ll keep this stuff to a minimum, because it’s really the last thing I want to think about; I’ll get back to the more interesting stuff I do that feels creative and pays me (almost) nothing soon.

__________________________

* – my language here is, sadly, approaching mba-speak. I promise you that it’s just a survial mechanism, or perhaps a manifestation of Stockholm Syndrome. I haven’t joined up with the enemy.

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today

23
Mar

If you see me today and I seem a little more down (than usual anyway), please forgive me. It’s not you. It’s just me noticing someone missing who I think would have gotten a real kick out of some of the cool stuff my family and I manage to find ourselves doing (or for that matter, my family in general).

Don’t mind me, I’ll be better soon.

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rocking for spock

23
Mar

Among all the other things this weekend, I played a show with my friends The Blibbering Humdingers at a local venue in town; ’twas us and our fellow nerd-rockers Paradox Machine playing to a full house of friends and nerd-rock fans, which was pretty great. We had a lot of local (and not so local) friends come out for an evening of music, and a good time, it seems, was had by all.

I know we had fun, anyway. We played a great set, including one new tune that’ll end up on a record at some point (a Doctor Who-themed country tune called “Key To Your Hearts”) and as the event was titled “Rock for Spock” ( it was officially scheduled right after Leonard Nimoy’s death a few weeks back), my bandmates surprised me with an impromptu (and largely improvised) version of the late actor’s iconic “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”, during which I hit most of the right notes.

My friend Scott (not the singer) shot the following photo during the set – you can almost see me back behind Scott (the singer)’s giant top hat:

We’ve got a few more gigs coming up in the next couple of weeks/months, including a slot opening for Wizard Rock pioneers Harry and the Potters (which is a big deal in the wrock world) in Cary NC, and a couple of convention gigs at local (for me) events RavenCon (April 24-26) and (for them) ConCarolinas (may 29-31).

How the hell I ended up as such a busy musician in my early middle-age never ceases to amaze me.

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“i won’t break today”

20
Mar

As much as I hate to admit it, the subject of this post is what I find myself chanting to myself as I walk from the parking lot to the office door every morning these days. Things are a little rough around my office right now; first, because I’m still figuring out what the hell my job is supposed to be (and I recently picked up another whole job when someone pulled a quickie retirement a couple of weeks ago), but secondly, because there’s a big dark, scary cloud of reorganization on the horizon for the whole organization, and nobody quite knows how it’s going to shake out; my job is secure, though almost everyone else is pretty worried, not knowing where they’re going to end up once the smoke clears (though the rumors are such that if I hadn’t been hired for the particular slot I’ve been in since January, I would’ve ended up getting shunted over to this office soon enough anyway*).

There’s some stress around here, it’s safe to say.

And that’s just the office. At home, we’re sort of down to one car at the moment; the van hit a pothole last week, and dented up the fancy aluminum/nickel alloy rim such that it has been deemed irreparable. The dealer wanted an unreasonable price for one, and as I couldn’t source one locally, I ended up hitting the ‘net for a remanufactured replacement, which should be in my hands this evening, if UPS tracking is to be believed.

So, there’s that.

The only think keeping me going this week, honestly, is the fact that I get to play rock star tomorrow night in my own damned city. Some of my friends in the band Paradox Machine have organized a show in town Saturday night, and invited The Blibbering Humdingers along for the ride, and as Scott and Kirsten aren’t yet so sick of me that they’ve asked me to stop following them around, I’ll be sitting in on bass for the evening.

If you happen to be in/around town this weekend, you could definitely do worse for entertainment. Details for the show here. Doors at the Regency Family Restaurant open at 6pm; It’s two bands and dinner for $20 bucks – a pretty good deal, if I do say so myself.

Hopefully we can still make load-in time with one car, which is really pretty small to contain my bass rig and the family, some of which will be dancing earlier in the day at a local Irish Festival…

Rock on.

________________________________

*- so much for the whole buyers remorse thing and begging for my old job back…

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