Pulp Fiction is 20 Years Old: Is It in Your Time Capsule ?

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I’m fully aware I’m getting older but I had a moment this past weekend that really put my age into perspective. I was discussing films with my younger sister Margot, a sophomore in high school but she has a mature appreciation for the arts ( mostly dance) including film. We have had a lot of dialogue about classic films and foreign movies, although I can’t get her to watch any Fellini or Pan’s Labyrinth yet. I Very casually said to her, ” Wow Pulp Fiction is twenty years old this year I remember when it came out.” Them she dropped the atomic bomb on me I naively didn’t expect to hear from her cultured mouth, ” I’ve never seen it before.” “WHAT???” I replied as a rush of memories from my high school years flushed my brain at once: sneaking info the AMC on route 10 with my friends to see them film for the first time, Uma Thurman ( still one of the sexiest woman alive in my book) staring out from the glossy poster hung on the wall of every dorm room in college, wincing every time they bleeped a curse the first the I watched the film on basic cable (still didn’t turn it off though). She must have sensed the wave of panic and nostalgia I was caught in as she said, “We can watch it together one day. I tried to watch it but only got as far as the diner scene” (yes the opening). Margot and I will watch Pulp Fiction one day but our whole exchange got me thinking, if you had to put three items into a time capsule to define my personal taste, rather than representing my generation, on an artistic or cultural level, what would they be? I had participated in a similar projects with members of my art class during my senior year of high school. We had each put in a drawing or something representing our artwork at the time but our items were lost when the janitor mistook the time capsule for trash.

Three items I would include today:

1. An iPod or MP3 player with a mix of U2, David Bowie, STP, Billy Bragg, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Scott Weiland and some of my other favorites. Some funk too, gotta have the funk. If you’re having a bad day put on some Kool and the Gang, George Clinton, or even Ray Charles. It’s a proven fact you can’t be depressed and listen to funk. I’d have to leave a note explaining good music expired ten years ago. Hopefully the generation before us brought it back by then.

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2. A box set of all the Marvel Films. If this comes as a shock to you than you must have never read this blog before.

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3. Finally I’d include a copy of Grant Cardone’s 10x with a note: I did everything this guy said I should do now so I can enjoy the other two items later. Life is better when you earn it rather than mortgage it from your future.

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I know this was a short one but tell me, what’s in your time capsule? Comment and let me know !

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. But where we’re going we don’t need any roads.

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The Death of Wolverine

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It’s been a few days since Marvel official killed off my favorite superhero – Wolverine. I’ve recounted some of my feelings and thoughts on The Death of Wolverine on my Instagram account (@philtasticphil), including how I first became interested in the character as a child. All these years I’ve never questioned why I have such an affinity for the Ol’Canuckle Head. I finally realized perhaps the reason I’ve always been a fan of the character is become the both of us have grown up together; me growing from a child to an adult and Logan as a fully fleshed out character.

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When I first started reading Wolverine and X-Men related comics I was about 13 or 14 years old. The very first issue of the Wolverine ongoing solo series I purchased read like a scene from a high octane action film. It had Wolverine pitted against an army of soldiers with him cutting his way through a tank. Somewhere Stallone is kicking himself for not thinking of this for this scene for his last Expendables movie.

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Wolverine as a character wasn’t terribly complex, he was a short hairy guy who drank heavily, smoked cigars, and was virtually unkillable. I would later realize Wolverine really wasn’t created with a particular backstory in mind, this was recently confirmed in an interview with Len Wein ( the character’s co-creator) which appears at the end of Death of Wolverine issue #1. This allowed for great writers like Chris Claremont, Frank Miller, and Larry Hama to chart the course of the character through actions and events rather than mythos. One of the parts of his past which was established was his unbreakable claws and skeleton was the result of a government experiment. He was also ladened with false memory implants, establishing an air of mystery about the character. He was a soldier in the Civil War and teamed up with Black Widow and Captain America during WW2.

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He had the ninja training and personal tragedies of Batman without the brooding. His stories included him traveling to exotic locations with other popular characters and often coupling with equally exotic women, but only in an alternate reality would he marry the woman of his dreams, Jean Grey, as she was with Cyclops the leader of the X-men. So if you’re a discouraged love lorn team and the object of your affection tells you there’s no way she’d ever go out with you, remember it took Logan an alternate timeline but it happened. ( I’m kidding forget that girl she’s a loser). 🙂 So we have a short ugly character with the skills of a ninja, berserker rage, with a dash of 007, and a pinch of X-files who can’t get the girl he wants because she’s dating the captain of the football team. Is it any wonder Wolverine was able to find favor among the average male comic book enthusiast ?

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I walked away from comics during my college years, for regular comic book fans this was shortly after Logan lost his nose and became a de-evolved beast. I would look online and try to see what was happening with my old friend every now and then but didn’t go back into a comic book store until 2001 when Marvel came under the toolage of Joe Quesada as Editor-in-Chief. Quesada decided he was going to make a splash by announcing a story many though would never be told, the origin of Wolverine. Many had tried in the past with everything from a caveman, to the son of his main at agonist Sabertooth, and even a mutated wolverine. Quesada had assigned top tier talent to the project including one of my favorite artists, Andy Kubert, whom I spent many hours trying to duplicate as a teenager. Needless to say I was all in. The end result was a masterpiece which stands in my mind as one of the best comic book stories to date. It showed the progression of the sickly son of an aristocrat to the early version of the character I’d come to admire as a kid. Like any good stories, it answered old questions and created brand new ones including Wolverine’s real name: Jim Howlett. If you choose to pickup the series please also read Wolverine #176 as it serves as a haunting epilogue to the series.

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The real excitement came years later when for the first time ever Wolverine remembered everything, flowing the events of the House Of M mini-series. This lead him on a quest through his past in the series, Wolverine Origins. The series followed Logan as he tried to come to grips with the good and bad parts of his forgotten history as he tried to make amends for some of his past transgressions. The series included some of my favorite villains Cyber and Omega Red. The Origins series also introduced new characters who would have a huge impact on Wolverine’s history namingly Romulus, the puppet master, and the son he never knew Daken.

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Post origins, Wolverine’s role shifted to a team player, a leader, and an educator. In addition to becoming headmaster of the Jean Grey School he also became a member of several Avengers squads. This was a boom for the character and for avid Wolverine readers as we saw a Logan who approached each situation with the air of experience and caution for this students and teammates.

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In later volumes of his solo series, He became depowered losing his signature healing factor. This brought a series of new complications to Logan including the fact he could no longer pop his signature claws out for fear of bleeding to death or infection. As an adult this new direction for the character appealed to me. Even though the character couldn’t physically be the hero he once was he did it anyway. He went up against the odds and got the job done regardless of the health implications.

WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW

Wolverine I was told by some of the greatest minds of the Marvel Universe his lack of a healing factor would be terminal and to take it easy. In the end it wasn’t his lack of power that did him in, it was his nature. Like the scorpion hitched on the back of the frog crossing a river, he struck against the very enemy who created him knowing it meant certain death. His final adventure took him around the world and included almost all of his greatest foes ( Cyber, Nuke, Sabertooth, Viper, and Ogun). It also included his first protege, Kitty Pryde as a spiritual sequel to the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini-series of the early 1980s. I would have liked to see the inclusion of Omega Red as I feel he was a big part of Logan’s rouges gallery. I also would have liked to see other Wolverine allies appear such as Jubilee, Albert, Elsie Dee, and Maverick. That being said, The Death Of Wolverine mini-series brings our hero full circle to face the man responsible for his unbreakable adamantium skeleton. He sacrificed himself to prevent others from enduring the torture he went through and in the end became incased in the very substance he was defined by for many years.

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Wolverine has joined the likes of Superman. Captain America, and other superheroes who have died and come back to fight another day. After reading Wolverine’s swan song I followed it with the epilogues from other comics including: Logan’s Legacy, Storm, Wolverine and the X-men, and Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler was by far the most emotional and impacted story. It spoke from the perspective of a fellow newly resurrected X-man and recounted Wolverines history only as his best friend could. Wolverine will be back one day, it’s inevitable. His absence will ring through the pages of every book Marvel publishes for quite some time. As an adult, who regularly seeks inspiration from art, music, literature and pop culture Wolverine’s death will create a new benchmark for me. How hard will I fight for my beliefs ? When someone tells me I can’t do something will I allow them to impose limits on me? In the 2000 film, Almost Famous, Penny Lane tells William “…and if you ever get lonely go to the record stores and visit your friends. ” Luckily when I miss my friend Logan, I’ve got hundreds of issues of his adventures arranged in long boxes in the spare room of my home. When faced with opposition Wolverine will come to mind to remind me to be the best I am at whatever I what I do and it is not your past that defines you it is your actions. When it gets really rough, when I’m in a position that looks impossible his last words will ring true. What are they? You’ll have to purchase the last issue to find out.

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Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. His current favorite comics are Ultimate Spider-man, X-Factor, Swamp Thing, and Uncanny Avengers

The Lesson I Learned From George Clooney

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I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately but I’ve successfully worked out of it and I owe it to George Clooney. I’m in a time of transition and change isn’t easy but it can be rewarding. I remain positive by focusing on my goals, associating with positive people, and putting up as many positive vibes as I can via Facebook, Instagram (@philtasticphil), twitter (@pmtick), and of course this blog. Part of change also includes avoiding old bad habits. This weekend I almost tore open an old wound typing up my original blog topic, life lessons I learned from George Clooney movies ( specifically “The Descendants” and “Up In The Air”). I found myself tearing up someone I used to be very close with, something I promised myself I would never do and took pride in the fact I’ve always acted above board. I feel it’s important I share what happened to me this weekend and how I dug myself out of it, in case you may be struggling in your own situation right now.

1. Let it flow – about halfway into my post I realized I took a turn somewhere. It was obvious I struck a nerve within myself and it needed to be addressed or it would have just festered. I let my typing continue until I was exhausted

2. Examine and diagnose – I reviewed what I had typed and said to myself ” why did I say this ?” In this case when the relationship ended there was a lot left unsaid. Part of me wants to say, ” Look I know you weren’t on the level with me and played me for a fool.” Then I remind myself, some things are better left unsaid but everything happens for a reason.

3. Evaluate where you are now – I stopped and thought about what has happened in my life since then. I rekindled old relationships with friends I was not allowed to associate with while in the relationship and cut ties with negative people I was over encumbered with ( most got the picture, two I have to ignore to this day). I started a business which really spawned a flurry of personal development in growth in me. I learned about goal setting and put an action plan into motion. This directly lead into me losing 70 lbs and improving my overall physical health. I also grew more confident by simply dating women and realizing some of my better qualities something I couldn’t recognize while in the relationship. I made new, positively minded friends who support me and help nurture my growth. I become more active and Started studying yoga. I intend on becoming an instructor one day.

I also remembered an incident about six months ago, I was leaving my Elks lodge after an event and was supposed to meet my girlfriend at the time for dinner. I was running late and hurried to my car. As I was getting in I heard a familiar voice in the distance. I peeked out of my window and saw this person, her sister, and the two negatives who can’t take a hint I noted above. I rolled down my window and said hello. This person, a single mother well into her thirties, physically hid behind her sister not unlike a shy child. She had gained a significant amount of weight and was most likely embarrassed. I don’t mention this to sound shallow, she always had an unwarranted fixation with her weight despite constant reassurance she looks beautiful. I only mention it to illustrate the different mindsets we both had in this moment. An honest person has nothing to hide, nor any reason to feel guilty. Then, one of the negatives attempted to pick a fight with me. Understand I know he didn’t want to fight, he was looking for a reaction ( juvenile I know). I smiled. It was at this time I realized how much the group had hampered me, like weeds choking plants in a garden. Without their negative influence I was able to embrace my own value and self worth to realize I shouldn’t spend time with people who devalue me.

4. Have faith – I’m not a religious person, I believe in God but I am not a regular churchgoer. During the really hard time that followed the breakup, someone gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard. “You did everything you can do, now just throw it up to God and trust he’ll lead you in the right direction.” All of this success I’ve achieved since I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if I was in that relationship because I was with a person who embraced negative thinking and was ultimately wrong for me. God led me away from the negative environment I was in because I wouldn’t have grown if I was still there and there was no way I could ever allow myself to regress.

5. Breathe deep and exhale – this is something I can say I have learned from George Clooney. Understand I’m not a diehard fan but nor will I rush out to see a film if Clooney. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are two films I had in mind when I decided to write this piece, Up In The Air and The Descendants. Both films share an underlying theme: no man is an island. The human experience is enriched by sharing our lives with others. Not everyone we meet will be pleasant or will help us be better than we were before but the people who do should be cherished and the people who deserve our attention. Without spoiling either film, Clooney’s characters go through an arc of personal enlightenment resolving when he accepts his circumstances, even though they may not be ideal. Rather than getting stuck, he breathes deep and resolves to move on.

These aren’t the type of films to have sequels but unlike a motion picture, life goes on. The best part is everyday is an opportunity to write a new chapter, create a new scene, and work towards your ideal finale. You can choose whether the story of your life is a comedy, a drama, or a disaster movie and the part you will play. With this in mind, what films have impacted your life and how ? Please reply and share.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. His favorite George Clooney film to date is Out of Sight.

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