I know what you did this summer…

Monday ends my 16 week paternity leave. No more Paw Patrol marathons. No more day time trips to the grocery store with two kids in tow. No more dropping the oldest off at daycare and then spending the rest of the day feeding a newborn.

Come Monday I’ll put on pants for the first time since May 6th and then like Phil Collins once sang: “that’s all…that’s all.”

It’s a bittersweet moment. On the one hand I’ll get some adult interaction and reconnect with co-workers. On the other hand I have immensely enjoyed my time away from the office. I’ll miss spending a large part of my day with a baby laying on my chest (the only way he would sleep during the day for the first few weeks). I’ll miss the chaos of having both kids home at the same time. Making breakfast or lunch for the oldest while trying to appease the youngest. It was like juggling chainsaws sometimes.

The 16 weeks flew by. It seems like only yesterday we were frantically driving to the hospital in the early hours of the morning ready to welcome our newest addition. Now I’m headed back to work. In the time in-between we had our first smile, got peed on several times and had a road trip to Chicago.

I think the real adjustment is going to be on our two and a half year old. He’s grown accustomed to having me around at his will. Now for eight hours a day I will be predisposed and unavailable. Actually it might be harder on me, I’ve enjoyed myself in the past few weeks and felt a fulfillment that I haven’t quite felt before. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s certainly been fun (for the most part).

When I tell people I get 16 weeks full pay they almost all reply with: “but you didn’t even give birth to the kid.” As if a fathers role is merely being a speed donor and nothing more. I’m an active participant in both my kid’s lives because when two parties are involved raising a kid is a partnership. I’m an active participant in both my kid’s lives because I love them more than anything in this world.

I’ll say the same thing I said the last time I went on paternity leave: the time off is no vacation. I’m not jet-setting off to Saint-Tropez or spending the summer in the Hamptons. Shit, I’m lucky if I can sneak out for a few minutes to go to Target (when the wife is home obviously, I’m not leaving my kids home alone).

So as the final…oh, 48 hours of my paternity leave tick away, my thoughts are on the fact that I now have to put on clothes that aren’t tie dyes and cut off shorts. And that is the real tragedy in all this.

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[the microwave generation: what’s the matter with kids these days?]

Tom Brokaw coined the term “The Greatest Generation” to describe the generation who grew up during the Great Depression. The young men who went off to fight in WWII and the men and women who stayed on the home front contributing to the workforce. Life during wartime, it was hell on earth.

But for those who were alive then. On the front lines and back home, there was no time to whine. There was no time to post status updates. They couldn’t tweet witty jokes and post a picture of the macrobiotic, gluten-free, vegan sandwich they got at the local co-op. No, for them there was no time to waste on bullshit like that…there was work to do.

They went to war and many of them gave up the ultimate sacrifice. They didn’t do these things for fame and glory. They didn’t do it for followers or online friends. They did it because it was the right thing to do; for their families, for their friends, for their country. They were without a doubt the last great generation we will ever see.

Fast forward to modern times. We have another polarizing generation: the millennial. This one is on the opposite side of the coin. Where the Greatest Generation was selfless and benevolent, the millennials (also known as Generation Y) are selfish and narcissistic. They are lazy and overly entitled. They are the living embodiment of “first world problems,” their struggles boiled down to a sarcastic hashtag.

And if you think I’m being harsh just try to have a conversation with a twenty-something.

They are what is known as the Microwave Generation. They want everything fast…instant gratification. A vast majority of them can’t recall a time when there wasn’t cellphones or iPods or computers. Their whole lives have been spent on the Internet. They were born in a time where information is readily available at their fingertips and they assume that is how the world has always worked. A click of the button will get you anything: from shopping for clothes to landing a job. Yet for all their dependency on technology they seem to take it all for granted. This generation has the greatest access to knowledge in the history of mankind and yet they are the ones that care the least about it.

Now, before you youngsters get your pitchforks out, I’m not calling you ALL lazy. A vast majority of you, yes. But not all. I know that there are exceptions for every rule. And you (insert your name here) are a special snowflake. You are unique and special and all that other happy, hippie bullshit that has been bestowed upon you over your life.

The generations before these overly entitled brats didn’t worry about hurt feelings and bullying. They faced their problems head on and handled their business. If something stood in their way they didn’t cry to their parents about it. They didn’t ask for money to blow on new cell phones, tattoos and video games. They took care of things. They got by on their own means. Basically, they kicked ass and took names.

Some times I lay in bed at night terrified that this is going to be the generation that will be running this world some day…if they can actually put their cell phone down first.

[they pave paradise, put up a racist parking lot]

Yesterday in Buffalo a white woman went on a racist tirade against a black man. Not exactly a news story, in fact it’s just another day at the office in Western New York, but this story didn’t end in the parking lot of a discount department store. The altercation was caught on tape. And like many things in the 24-hour news cycle we live in it was broadcast over the internet.

To simply say: “It was broadcast over the Internet” would be an understatement actually. It was far-reaching. It made it to The Huffington Post, Radar Online and even made it’s way across the pond to The Daily Mail (leaving people in the UK to beg the question: “My word, where is Buffalo?”). And that’s just a small sampling of how much steam this story gathered. I even blogged about it on this very website, so suffice to say the story was “kind of a big deal.”

I was hoping that when the story broke that some discussion would be opened up about race relations in America. I was hoping that it would shine a light on how people, no matter what color their skin is, carry around bigoted feelings. And from that, I was hoping that maybe…just maybe we could begin to heal. I know now that was Pollyannaish of me. I was naive. I was foolish.

What we wound up seeing was something almost as ugly as the racist comments spewed in the video. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at the comments section of some local news outlets who covered the incident. Look at your Facebook news feed. Talk to the person in front of you at Tim Horton’s (go ahead…I’ll wait here and finish my waffle).

Did you see/hear the worst people in the world? Pretty bad, huh?

Almost as quickly as the video broke, there came an army of keyboard commandos to defend Mrs. Ambrosia. An army. A legion of people justifying her behavior. People who claimed that she “didn’t go far enough.” People who wanted to know why black people can say the “n-word” and white people can’t. People who wanted to claim that they were “proud to be white.” This is the world we live in, folks: divided and polarized.

Immediately people wanted to know what happened before the video started to roll. And that’s a valid question, but if you’re using it to justify racism you may be missing the point. If someone crosses you, pisses you off, offends you…I can understand being upset. I can understand her being mad if he truly (as she claimed) “frightened” her kid. But for her to let loose a racist rant fit for a KKK rally doesn’t seem reasonable.

The point isn’t about who is right and who is wrong, but we need to stop excusing bad behavior. We need to stop chalking things like this up to people having a bad day. Spare me the bullshit. Spare me the excuses. It’s time for people to own up to their problems.

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[the city of “good neighbors”]

In case you missed it Buffalo grabbed a few headlines across the internet today, making the first page of Reddit as well as being mentioned on sites like Gawker and World Star Hip Hop.

No, we didn’t overreact to someone criticizing our town. No, there wasn’t another bear running wild in the suburbs. And no, we didn’t have a snowstorm in June. I only wish it were one of those news items. Sadly, we earned some internet top-billing because some basket case let loose a string of racial epithets in a parking lot of a Dollar General.

The video, seen here shows a woman, now identified as Janelle Ambrosia (I can comfortably throw her name out there as it has already been plastered all over the internet including a parody page) using the n-word numerous times in front of her children to a man who was filming her for going off on a tirade against him. In the video, Mrs. Ambrosia who has had her brush with the law boasts about stripping for cops and uses a number of profanities all in the presence of her children who she claims to be looking out for.

Within minutes of the video being posted on the WBLK website a social media firestorm was set off. Comments ranged from the hilarious to insightful. Then, it gained momentum…like a runaway shopping cart speeding down a hill. Websites far and wide were on it, people I follow on Twitter who have ZERO connection to Buffalo were asking me to chime in.

Of course the story took on a bigger magnitude here in our little microcosm of a city where the term “BuffaLOVE” is passed around like a joint at a Phish show. The racist spectacle was covered with much gusto around Buffalo, but no one had a better viewpoint of it than Alan Bedenko. If you’re on the Twitter and not already following him you should do so (here, I’ll make it easy for you, here’s his twitter). His sentiments echo mine on this issue, but I suggest you check out his post on it as well.

Now, while most of my social media timeline was mocking this woman and posting introspect and insight into racism in our own backyard, there were some people who felt compelled to defend the woman (namely people who post in the comments section of local media outlets).

Mrs. Ambrosia’s defenders pulled out all the stops: “What happened before the video started?” “How come black people get to use that word?” “What did she do that was wrong?”

I’ll answer those questions: Does it matter? Because they can. Everything that came out of her mouth.

Actually, I too was wondering what happened before the video started rolling. I wondered what really was the catalyst that sent her over the edge. I wondered how many times she used the n-word before the video started. I wondered if Airport Plaza Jeweler Chicken made an appearance. That last one is a reference that only locals will get.

The truth is it really DIDN’T matter what happened before the video started. She can make all the claims she wants, nothing will back up her stories and excuses. What matters is what we saw. And what we saw was testament that racism is alive and it can take the form of a mother with the mouth of a sailor on leave who takes off her clothes for law enforcement officers.

Of course there are two sides to every story and the outlet who basically broke the story locally was on that and reached out to Ambrosia for a comment. Now, faced with allegations of blatant racism, you’d think the young woman would admit to using poor judgment and maybe being reckless with a hateful slur. You’d think that she’d reach out to the black community and apologize. You’d think that she would beg forgiveness for her words and try to make amends.

You’d be wrong.

Instead, Ambrosia took the time to borrow from the Racist Playbook by using the ol’ “I’m Not A Racist” defense (in case you didn’t remember the video, she uses the n-word SIX TIMES). She then went on to redefine the n-word in her own convenient terms as saying it was meant to describe someone who was “ignorant,” (you know, like a racist?). Please, if she truly meant to call the man in the video “ignorant” she would have just called him “ignorant.” Instead, she used the n-word SIX TIMES and did so in a pointed and very matter of the fact manner. She knew what she was doing.

Her Twitter*, reads like the insane ramblings of a KKK member meets Jersey Shore party girl meets person with an IQ less than 5. In her tweets, most of which have been deleted she tells a black commenter to “Go back to Africa,” (because that’s where ALL black people were born…take THAT Dave Matthews). She later asks “If people can be openly gay how come I can’t be openly racist?” Well, are people BORN racist?

The real story here isn’t that a woman from Buffalo used some racial slurs. Hell, Buffalo has had it’s history of racist internet sensations. It should come as no surprise to anyone who lives here. We are among the top segregated cities in America, and for those keeping score at home: that’s not an honor.

We can call ourselves the “City of Good Neighbors” all we want. We can use clever marketing ploys like BuffaLOVE until we’re blue in the face (hey, at least THAT would make us all the same color). But until we stop having bigots like Janelle Ambrosia place a stigma on our fair city, we might as well be Mississippi circa 1960.

But today, we all saw something ugly and vile and it opened the floodgates.

 

*It has come to my attention that said Twitter account has been uncovered as a fake. 

[Buffalo ComiCon]

“Is everybody ready for Buffalo ComiCon?” a man yells out. There’s a smattering of “woos” and “yeahs,” but mostly silence among the lines of comic book fans lined up in the hallway. Moments later a young woman comes out and asks again in place of her male counterpart.

“Is everybody ready for Queen City Comics Buffalo ComiCon?”

Vendors at Buffalo ComiCon

Vendors at Buffalo ComiCon

This time there is a notable response from the crowd. A man dressed as Han Solo lets cheer. And with that, the doors were open for the 14th Annual Buffalo ComiCon.

Throughout the Marriott Inn ballroom cosplayers, comic book collectors and self proclaimed “nerds” check out the offerings. From massive comic book collections, both vintage and brand new to artwork being sold by local artists. Amateur comic book artists were on hand, selling their own books.

Fans dressed as their favorite comic book and sci-fi characters, from a miniature Incredible Hulk to a Stormtrooper in authentic garb. There was a Princess Leia. And countless shirts sporting logos of Batman, Superman, Flash, and the Green Lantern.

Among the vendors and artists and roleplayers was Bane co-creator Graham Nolan, who took time to talk to [miscellany media] about the crowd-sourced Joe Frankenstein, his roots in Florida and how it played a role in his project Sunshine State, and his thoughts on the eating habits of Batman villain Bane.

Tell me a bit about “Sunshine State,” it’s a definite contrast from your work with the Bane and The Phantom

I was looking for another outlet and I always wanted to do a humor strip so, I wanted to do something about where I was originally from in Florida.

How did you come to work on Rex Morgan, MD

I had published Monster Island, but originally my thoughts were to do it as an adventure strip, but I didn’t have any contacts in the strip world, so I published it as a comic book. Then after it came out I reformatted it and sent it into King Features and all the other syndicates to see if I could get it syndicated. They all said they can’t sell an adventure strip anymore, however we have an opening on this one, Rex Morgan. It was serendipity.

Were you a fan at all of the strip growing up? 

No I wasn’t, I had never saw it. Although the Buffalo News did have it, but I never read it when it was in the (Buffalo) news. It was kind of on the downside, but there was a point when Rex was on of the top strips that every paper had to have back in the ‘50s and ‘60s…it was a really, really well done popular strip. And it had kind of fallen on some hard times and they wanted me to kind of bring it back to those illustrative days. So, I was like “That’s a good challenge,” so that’s why I decided to do it.

 So you co-created Bane, one of Batman’s most worthy adversaries. How did that come about? 

That came about, when I had got a call that they were going to do this Nightfall storyline and they needed this character created for it. I wasn’t there for the initial meeting where what they needed to do for Nightfall, but Chuck Dixon had recommended me, because he knew what a big Doc Savage fan I was and Chuck and I were friends and worked together at Eclipse. And he recommended me, so they approached me about designing the character.

Bane co-creator, Graham Nolan

Bane co-creator, Graham Nolan

Ok, I’ve got to ask you, what did you think of the Bane we saw in The Dark Night Rises? How did you feel about the changes from the strip and the movie? 

(makes a thumbs down) Pffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft. (laughs) You’ll have to spell that some how.

What was it for you, was it the voice? Because I know that a lot of people felt that Tom Hardy was pretty hard to hear. 

I liked the voice, I thought it was interesting. I thought they captured a lot of the character really well, his menace and all that stuff. But I hated his outfit. I hated his mask. That mask was the worse.

Totally, I think the way he was presented looks wise was quite a change from the comic. 

I mean, if they had done the uniform the way the did in the movie, but if they kept the traditional mask I would have been happier. I could lived with that. Because even in my design I had a paramilitary idea for it (gestures to a print of Bane), hence with the pants and the boots and all that kind of stuff. But what they did with the mask, it looked like The Alien was on his face. I mean, how does he eat with that? (laughs)

I just discovered your Joe Frankenstein strip, which I think is really cool. It has this coming of age superhero take, but with a monster story line. Do you think something like this could translate to a movie?  

Oh absolutely

Who do you think could play Joe? 

I know exactly who would play him, because I designed Joe to actually look like him. It’s the Mac Guy…Justin Long. Originally when I had seen him in that college comedy, “Accepted,” I loved that movie. He was a riot in it.  And around that age he would have been perfect for Joe Frankenstein.

 Alright, so Bane is arguably one of the greatest comic villains of all time. Who do you think this the greatest comic villain? And you can say Bane. 

(laughs) You know, I really don’t know. Each hero has to have a really good villain to make a hero of him. My favorites growing up were the Joker and Green Goblin. Not the best, but they were my favorites.

 Green Goblin and Bane are mine for sure.

Very cool. Oh and Bane. And Bane. (laughs)

Comics on comics on comics

Comics on comics on comics

TK-421, why aren't you at your post?

TK-421, why aren’t you at your post?

[i’m back…back in a new york groove]

Hey errrbody, it’s been awhile since my last update (as in the entire summer and then some). Please forgive my absence, some things came up (bought a house, had a slight computer malfunction that set me back a bit)…but forget all that. I’m back, I’m pissed and ready to rock. 

So what’s on the horizon you ask? More podcasts. More articles. More features. More fun. A cool promo for bands I dig called [BReaking BAnds]. Other stuff too. 

Looking for creative people to fill my staff. Think you got what it takes, drop me a line at miscellanypodcast[at]gmail[dot]com. Then tell me in a few words what you can bring to the table. Literally, I will ask you to bring stuff to an actual table. A marble conference table. Like the one Kanye tweeted about

Oh and if you’re on FaceBook make sure to like [miscellany media] (the actual page, not the “job” one I have listed).Here, I’ll make it easy for you…CLICK THIS. And follow [miscellany media] on Twitter at twitter.com/miscellanymag

That’s it. 

 

For Boston…

A moment of triumph quickly turned into horror and confusion yesterday as a pair of explosions left a gruesome scene at the Boston Marathon.

The blasts left three dead, including an 8-year-old boy and over 150 people were hospitalized, some critically. Details are still coming in as to who caused the attack or what the motives were.

The news rolled across my Twitter feed in real time. As a novice runner, I had been periodically checking my news feed during the event to check progress and get results. That’s when I started seeing mentions of confusion and terror. Words like “blast” and “bombing.”

Then a photo of the aftermath. Debris everywhere. Smoke. Charred remains of paper. And on the pavement, blood. It was sickening and unreal. In an age where we have in many ways become desensitized to violence, I found the images and accounts of the events that unfolded almost too much to handle. When I heard that the life of a young kid was cut down, my heart broke.

The finish line is normally an area where hands are held high and spirits are lifted, instead it became a trauma unit. People scattered to assist those in need, others rushed for cover. In those uncertain moments of horror, one is never sure on what to do.

It bears mentioning is that yesterday was Patriots’ Day in Boston, a state wide holiday. Two things are certain on this day, the Red Sox play a day game and the marathon is run. Bostonians take pride in this day and the race. It’s a time honored tradition. Most of the city is shut down. People take the day off maybe as an excuse to watch the run or sneak out of the office for a day and get to Fenway.

Boston is a city close to my heart. As a kid who was born and raised in Buffalo, New York I grew up as a fan of both the Red Sox and Bruins. I started following the Red Sox when I was six years old. My reasoning? Because they had a “B” on their cap and since my name began with that letter it made sense. I became a fan of the Bruins a year or so later after my father took me to a Sabres game where they played the Bruins. I walked in wearing a Buffalo hat, but left as a fan of the team in black and gold. Since then I haven’t turned my back on my loyalty to the teams of that city. My wife and I even spent part of our honeymoon in Boston and have returned numerous times. It’s a great city full of some of the finest people around.

Through social media I’ve drawn a bond with many people from the area. On Twitter we’ve shared joy over our teams victories and disappointment (and often humor) in their defeats. It’s a tight-knit, dysfunctional social community and yesterday we all banded together in support and comfort. Not just the fine people of Boston, not just the fans of the teams from that area, but people from all over were apart of the discussion. Words of encouragement and hope rolled in from all over, from New York City to California. Last night, fans of the Oakland Athletics changed their chant from “Let’s go Oakland” to “Let’s go Boston.”

As a testament to the strength of that city and the marathon itself, many people who had finished the race continued running to Mass General Hospital to donate blood to those in need. There were reports of first responders using lanyards as makeshift tourniquets.

Patriots’ Day celebrates the earliest days of our nation. Though celebrated on the third Monday in April, the actual Patriots’ Day is April 19th and it marks the Battles of Lexington and Concord and “the shot heard around the world.” It’s tragic that a day which celebrates freedom is now marred by violence.

Whether or not the significance of this day factored into the events is unclear. What is clear is that the city of Boston will prosper and next year, the marathon will be bigger and stronger, but will never be the same.

[episode 3, season2: biggest shitshow EVER]

Beanz comes back to the [miscellany studios] to chat about the word “asshole,” Magnum, PI and random bullshit. Extra special guest input from LeMonde. 

 

Episode 3, Season 2

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[episode 2, season 2: sandy hook truthers are batshit crazy]

This morning I discovered that there exists a sect of people who believe the shooting in Newton, CT was a hoax. A hoax put on by the government to pass gun control laws. I even got a “hate message” over Twitter for an off-hand remark I made about it. This is the world we live in folks. Anyway, enjoy the show (it’s in mp3 format, so I know you all can play it now).

Listen here:

Episode 2, Season 2

Or here:

http://miscellany.podbean.com/mf/web/5p2pen/episode2season2.mp3

 

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IT’S A HOAX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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[pardon our dust: part deux]

Making some changes to the blog. New posts, more staff writers and podcasts to come very soon! Maybe even re-uploading some old episodes!

 

In the meantime here is a picture of a picture of Tommy Lee Jones at the Golden Globes looking grumpy.

 

Enjoy.

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xoxo 

bryan von