Jim Lee: A Picture of Success

  Many of you may not know who the gentleman in the picture is and why he’s taking a selfie in the bathroom with a sketchpad in the background.  His name is Jim Lee, he is one of the most prolific and talented comic book artists/creators in the industry today.  During his 30 year career … Read moreJim Lee: A Picture of Success

Batman vs Superman Scares the Sh*t Out of Me

  If you’ve read my blog before, then you know I’m a huge comic book fan.  I’m especially happy the entire genre is in the midst of a renaissance in movie theaters across the globe.  With the massive success of Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, Fox’s X-men films (LOVED DEADPOOL), and anything Marvel one has to ask, … Read moreBatman vs Superman Scares the Sh*t Out of Me

Growing Up With Scott Weiland

 

I have a funny kind of memory.  I’ve always been the kind of person who looks at the trees rather than the entire forest.  I can tell you everything I had for dinner the day I received my Masters Degree, the arcade machines at the Eagle Rock Lanes when I bowled every Saturday morning from grade school to college, and all the stores in the Headquarters Plaza Mall during the late 80s and Early 90s during our weekly trips to the movies.  I can remember all these small minute details but I can’t tell you where I was or what was playing the first time I heard my all time favorite band, Stone Temple Pilots.  It’s a shame because now as an adult I not only embrace STP’s music as art and an early gateway to similar artists, but also the soundtrack to my life staring in my teens up until my mid-thirties.

I know I wasn’t an early adopter of their music; I didn’t own a CD player until Christmas 1994 (sophomore year of HS) and even then my early CD collection was various volumes of “Scott and Todd Phone Scams”, music from the video game “Secret of Mana” (I totally hit it off with all the girls), and a copy of Aerosmith “Big Ones” which I only bought because I overheard the girl I had a crush on tell her friends how much she liked the band (guess she didn’t have Nintendo).  The first time I even knew of Stone Temple Pilots (STP) was in spring of 1994.  I rushed to CD World because my favorite musician at the time, Hammer, had a new album out titled “The Funky Headhunter.”   While I was at the register I noticed STP’s debut album, Core, on display near the far aisle.  I took note of it because of the band’s unusual name and the artwork stood out; I didn’t buy the album that day- in fact I never actually purchased a copy of Core or the band’s follow up Purple.  A few years later my taste in music had evolved a bit.  I had developed a habit of going to bed while watching 120 Minutes on a Sunday night.  During this time I was afraid to share my music with others and unfortunately, was too intimidated to expand my circle of friends.  Had I done this, I probably would have discovered STP earlier.  My best friend growing up had taken a liking to classic rock, funk, and electronic music and my sister had moved on to more rap and dance music.  Although I appreciated all these other forms of music, and still do, I lacked the communal feeling a fan develops from listening to music with others.  I would come home and draw (my favorite after school activity) while listening to CIV, Everclear, Soundgarden, Presidents of the Untied States of America, Bush, and others.  One afternoon my sister was cleaning out her room and getting rid of CDs she stopped listening to.  I picked through one of the boxes she was discarding and rescued a trove of musical treasures.  My haul that day included Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Ozzy, Pantera, and my beloved STP.   If my sister never gave me another Christmas or birthday gift again, I would be OK with it because her discarded tunes are a residual gift that has enriched my soul for years.  Around this time, my Language Arts teach assigned the class a paper to write about and dissect our favorite song.  We would present our papers to the class and get a change to share the actual song in the class.  By this time STP’s second album Purple was almost 2 years old and had become (and still is) my favorite album of all time.  I had memorized every note, riff, and lyric of the music and eagerly wrote about my favorite track, Vaseline.  Being that I didn’t share my love for music with any of my classmates I didn’t know the single had been played to death nor did I realize the album was considered passe by now.  After I read my paper and played my song in class, someone had commented, “really? this song is so old.”  I don’t know why the comment bothered me but it did.   I didn’t discuss music with anyone until midway in the fall semester of Freshman year at college.  Despite this, Purple, had a permanent spot in my CD player for the next decade or so.  Later the same year, STP’s third album “Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop” was released.  The weekend before the album was released, I was on vacation in Florida with my best friend’s family.  When we piled into the rental car for the first time and flipped the radio on, the DJ announced in anticipation of the new album the station would broadcast Tiny Music… in it’s entirety all weekend long.   By the end of the trip, I was hooked and Stone Temple Pilots had become cemented in my mind as my favorite band.  I had planned to get tickets to see STP when they came around but as many know, the tour never happened as Scott was arrested and incarcerated for drug possession.

I developed a theory, more of a policy really, stating I won’t consider myself a fan of a band or musician until I’ve seen them perform live at least once.  I formed this theory because of STP and the emotional impact their live show had on me.  Five years after my trip to Florida, I was all in when it came to STP.  I had all four albums, posters, magazines, bootlegs, everything!  My first tattoo is of the cover of Purple, a baby riding on a dragon in a distinct Japanese style.  Surprisingly enough I hadn’t seen STP live yet, due to lack of opportunity.  The closest I came was seeing Scott Weiland perform a short set to support his solo album 12 Bar Blues during K-Rock’s Dysfunctional Family Picnic II tour.  I was supposed to see the band on tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at PNC Bank Arts Center earlier in the summer but a freakishly harsh rainstorm slowed traffic down to a crawl.  By the time I walked into the venue, I heard the band saying their goodbyes to make way for the Chili Peppers.  The opportunity to see them finally arose in fall of the same year, at the Asbury Park Convention Hall.  I remember walking into the small venue, a far cry from the stadiums and arena the band had played previously.  The entire show was all general admission allowing my sister and I to get close to the stage, but not precluding me from having to protect my sister from grabby guys around us.  On this evening, I believe I experienced what it truly means to feel the power of music and how it can effect one’s soul if allowed.  It was akin to a religious experience where one can understand an aspect of the human condition that may have eluded them before.    Somewhere between the guitar parts of Interstate Love Song, the soft quiet stillness of Atlanta, and a magnificent cover of Shine On You Crazy Diamond I felt like I had found the answers to every question I ever had.  I went on to see STP play eight more times at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Susquehanna Bank Arts Center, Stone Pony Summer Stage, and lastly NJPAC (the single best show I’ve ever seen in my life).  I sang every song, I danced around like a fool, I listened intently as fellow New Jersians Robert and Dean DeLeo told the crowd the same story every single time they played in NJ: their first concert ever, The Carpenters at the Garden State Arts Center.

Then there was Scott. Outside of his work in STP I’ve seen Scott perform with Velvet Revolver on three occasions, completely solo once, and with his final band, The Wildabouts, four times.   At one point in my life I knew I had seen Weiland once too many in too short of a time when I found myself thinking of wearing a scarf in the summertime (thankfully I didn’t).   Scott was the kind of artist who projected his emotions into his performances so heavily at times it drowned out the music. When he was happy, the entire venue felt his intensity, it was like what I would imagine watching an artist like Jackson Pollack create one of his masterpieces.  When he was stressed, we all felt it.  I had seen the shows were he showed up 3 hours late slurring his words and almost falling off the gigantic speakers adorning the stage.  I’ve been to hundreds of concerts in my life and seen a wide variety of artists from Metallica to the Dave Matthews Band, Beastie Boys to Paul McCartney, and Less Than Jake to The Cherry Poppin Daddys but no one has ever matched the amount of emotion Scott Weiland brought to the stage.  The last time I saw Scott Perform turned out to be one of his final shows- November 28th 2015 at the Wellmount Theater in Montclair, NJ.  The show itself wasn’t his best but not his worse either.  He started the show acting a little subdued and quiet but by the end the rock star I had come to admire was in full effect.  In my mind, it was noticeable his fame was fading and I had decided he would reunite with Stone Temple Pilots soon.  His last album, Master Blaster, showed he still has the talent, both parties needed each other, it made perfect sense.   After the show, Scott was doing meet and greets for $300 a couple.  I had discussed it with my girlfriend and decided to pass, as it was a lot of money right before the holidays.  Had I known he would be dead less than a week later, I would have certainly paid the money.

The purpose of my rambling post isn’t to glorify Scott Weiland’s death.  Even though I had secretly hoped it wasn’t the case I, like everyone else, knew the case of death would be drug related.  I would rather celebrate the music, memories, and understanding Scott gave me. His music was like a friend, holding my hand during turbulent times and celebrating with me during the fun times. Our heroes are never perfect, they are humans with very real problems and trials just like you or I but their work lives on and resonates with us long after the final encore.  If I ever had the opportunity to speak to Scott Weiland I’d like to think I wouldn’t gush or get nervous like I tend to around those I admire, I’d thank him for helping me understand more about myself by writing and singing about himself.   I’d like to end with these thoughts, a quote from my favorite film Almost Famous, “Music, you now, true music – not just rock n roll – it chooses you. It live in your car, or alone listening to your headphones, you know, with the cast scenic bridges and angelic choirs in your brain. It’s a place apart from the vast, benign lap of America.”

 

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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.  Scott truly flew without no feathers.

Where to Find the Best Deals This Weekend

 

 

Everyone wants to get a deal.  We all take pride in showing off our shiny new things to our friends, neighbors, and other on-lookers only to say, “I only got it for…”  As a special gift to you and your family, this holiday season, I’m going to tell you where you can get the absolute best deal for any gift worth giving.  There’s one slight catch: I’m not going to reveal this nugget until the very end of this post.

Last year I wrote an article titled, Stay the Hell Home! where I observed the major retail stores in our country attempt to breeze past Thanksgiving and start the shopping season early.  I pledged not to frequent any of the stores who stayed open for Thanksgiving for the entire holiday season.  This became a personal mission of mine when a friend told me he would not be seeing his elderly grandmother for Thanksgiving because her employer, Walmart,told her she would be out of a job if she failed to report to duty.  In other words, she wasn’t asked to volunteer to come in and earn time and a half, she was being forced to work through the holiday.  This year I am dismayed to see retail stores continue this same trend and I am once again pledging to take my business elsewhere UNLESS the CEO’s and Executive Board are also working through Thanksgiving.  I have sent letters to the corporate offices of major retailers including Target, Walmart, and Best Buy informing them of my one man boycott.  While I doubt the Board of Directors will be behind the register when Macy’s opens at 6 pm tomorrow, hopefully I can inspire you to stay home.

Here are a list of facts you may want to consider before you leave your family at the dinner table:

  1. SHOP ONLINE – I realize I may be biased but my website, www.philtasticshopper.com is designed specifically to help you get the best deal.  There are specialized tools like comparative shopping and shop buddy designed to specifically save you money at your favorite stores.  Understand, I’m not trying to change what you buy, just how you buy it.  In exchange, many partner stores offer up to 50% cashback.  Money in your pocket for something you were already going to buy.
  2. You aren’t necessarily getting the best deal –  Stores have figured out how to work the average consumer up into a frenzy and then, through the power of marketing, direct your focus to the items allowing the most room for profit.  Due to the advent of social media, companies really didn’t lose any money on me ignoring the ad because some pixel addled person will line up to buy the expensive piece of plastic they really don’t need in addition to one or two games to go with it.
  3. Unless you’re waiting  outside of the store now, they are most likely out of it–  Stores tend to get limited quantities of hot items.  Unless you are one of the first people in line at the store, chances are you probably won’t be getting it.

The absolute best deal you will get this holiday season, as promised, is not found at any store or on any website no matter what time of day you look. The best deal ever is right in your home.  Once your done reading, commenting, sharing, and praising this post ( shameless yes) shut your computer or phone down and walk into the dining room.  Sit with your spouse, your children, and relatives- even if they don’t have anything in particular to say or if they’re sleeping.  I don’t remember the Christmas mornings where I spent all day burning my retinas while staring intently at a Gameboy.  As cheesy as it sounds, I remember moments like how my Grandmother’s cooking smelled, how my Mom made sure the house was meticulously decorated each year, and the time when my Dad wrapped my present in about 7 larger boxes like a Russian doll.  Instead of buying objects, make some memories.  The luster of the shiny new things will fade away in weeks but good quality family time will shine on in the recesses of our minds for years to come.  No matter how hard a corporation or store tries they can’t manufacture memories of time will spent with family.  In the end isn’t family what Thanksgiving is all about?

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.  Phil wishes you and your family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.  

 

A Panel To Kill

Halloween has come and gone.  The windows once adorned with pumpkins and witches are now home to Christmas Trees and Santa- yes they’re trying to skip Thanksgiving again (more to come on a future post)!   Regular readers to my blog know I’m an avid comic book reader and collector.  I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying thousands of stories featuring adventure, action, drama, comedy, and sometimes horror.  I asked a select group of comic book artists, store owners, and fans what the scariest story they’ve ever read was.  Warning, some of these posts reference stories not meant for young readers.

Here is what they said:

Ryan Henry – comic book fan and aspiring creator.

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Batman vs The Red Hood !

I don’t think I have read that many but one comes to mind. There is a batman comic where he is lying beaten in an alleyway and people who may or not be there come up to and talk to him. It was scary and creepy at the same time. I don’t remember the comic name, but I think it was from the early 90s

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilan Strasser – owner Mighty Moose Comics in Bellevue, WA

COMIC classics illustrated war of the worlds
Not to be confused with the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds

Probably the single scariest comic story I’ve ever read was the Classics Illustrated War of the Worlds comic!! Because I was young when I first read it and I was of the generation that grew up on 1950’s sci-fi movies, it seemed very possible to me that it could happen. It was scary as hell for a 10 year old!!

 

In the Bellevue area? Learn more about Mighty Moose Comics here!

 

 

 

 

Jan Marc Quisimbing – Comic book artist, writer, and creator 

2 favs: Batman Gothic, art by Klaus Janson and Gotham By Gaslight. Great reads that still give me chills. If you don’t own them, you should. Also Batman The Cult. Great stuff 
King of Hellbatman-the-cult-1Gotham by Gaslight

Jan Marc has created spectacular comics of his own including Pogi Boy and Big Brown Monkey.  For some of his ridiculously creative and awesome art, check his website out here.  If you are in the Sedona area, look for the Janimal around the local art scene and comic book shows.

Scott Hughes – Owner, Highlander Games and Comics in Boonton, NJ and Fat Moose Comics in Whippany, NJ 

When I think of the ‘Scariest’ Comic story, I of course try to think of some story of horror. Perhaps my favorite Eerie or Creepy book. But, when I think of the books that I loved when I was younger, the books that braved the trail of realism, it is hard for me to think of a ‘scarier’ story than Kraven’s Last Hunt. A story that single-handedly changed how Spider-Man was written. It’s haunting imagery, the fear in Mary Jane’s eyes, the desperate actions of Spider-Man, created a dark tone and realism that I had not read before in Amazing Spider-Man. The eventual ending and suicide of an iconic Spidey Villain left me with a sense of loss that, years removed, I can still feel the twangs of.

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For info about Highlander Games & Comics click here

For more info on Fat Moose Comics ( my comic book store of choice and a truly great store for all things fun) click here 

“Philtastic” Phil Maenza – That’s me! 🙂

Admitting I’ve never been into horror movies or comics.  As a kid I preferred Godzilla to Jason any day of the week and as an adult I’d watch Pan’s Labyrinth or The Shining before a single episode of The Walking Dead.  I can recall two distinct comic book stories that creeped me out big time.  The first is Scott Snyder’s modern day classic Batman story: The Court of Owls.

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The idea of a cultish secret society quietly occupying the dark corners of Gotham City was enough to terrify anyone including Batman himself.  It’s the first time I ever noticed the character was afraid because the master detective who was smart enough to out think criminal minds like the Riddler, Penguin, and Joker was surprised and literally stopped by the shocking finale. In the end it didn’t take a super powered homicidal maniac to scare Batman, it took a group of well off socialites in masks.

The second scariest tale I’ve read wasn’t a complete story it was one single panel.  The first time Marvel’s Ultimate Universe almost ended (not really the universe, just the quality stories (except Ultimate Spidey), the body count was high.  Seminal heroes like Daredevil, Beast, and Nightcrawler met their untimely fate- some off panel.  Although many of the deaths were shocking and unexpected the most gruesome and surprising was the beloved Wasp.    For the first time in my long history or reading comics, I made an audible gasp as I turned the page to see the longtime Avenger half-eaten by the Blob.  The villain was in turn bitten in half by Hank Pym but I’ve never forgotten Ms. Van Dyne’s fate.

 

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What is your scariest memory from either comics or literature?  Let me know and I’ll recap some of the best ones – phil@successphil.com

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an entrepreneur, consumer behavior professional, and lifestyle expert.  His 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.  The Joker’s appearance during End Game came in at a close third for me. 

My Life As a Gamer

I’ve never had an addictive personality; I can’t stand cigarettes and grew bored of alcohol sometime after college.  For a very long time, however, I was addicted to the pixelated joy of gaming.  The original Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short, turns 30 years old this week. I personally haven’t touched a game controller … Read moreMy Life As a Gamer

Don’t Call it a Reboot! Pt2: Marvel’s Secret War

Please note, this is a continuation of my prior post title: Don’t call it a reboot pt 1: DC’s Convergence which you can review by clicking on the hyperlink.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it  (SPOILERS)

The Marvel Universe, referred to comic book aficionados as the 616, has come to an end!  Having collided with the Ultimate Universe, resulting in both “realities” being eradicated and mashed into one new reality called Battle World. So just how did all this happen?  Basically, Black Panther discovered the different alternate earths comprising Marvel’s famed Multi-verse ( i e parallel universes) are crashing into each other and destroying their respective realities.  Black Panther alerts the Illuminati, a brain trust of the greatest minds of the Marvel Universe, and eventually the other Avengers but despite all their actions they are unable to stop the incursion of the Ultimate Universe with their own.  Please note, the description I gave is a extreme summary of a plot that unfolded over the course of roughly three years in multiple titles.  If you want the full story, head to your local comic book store and check out “Time Runs Out” story line. If you go this option, be prepared to shell out some serious cash for a collected volume of all the issues which make up the story.

Enter Battle World

As stated above, the only remains of the Multiverse and all of Marvel is a place called Battle World, a mashup of different Marvel stories and realities throughout the company’s history.  Elements of each universe have their own small country on a map, in a very Game of Thrones style world ruled by none other than Dr. Doom.  These nations include themes from story lines such as Planet Hulk, Civil War, Inferno, Armor Wars, and 2099. It seems multiple versions of the same characters are present such as Spider-man (ie Ultimate, Renew your Vows, Spiderverse, etc), Wolverine (ie X-men 92, Age of Apocalypse, Old Man Logan, etc) and a legion of Thors who act as Dr. Doom’s guard, believing he is the messiah.

Why Secret War?

According to various reports, Marvel own 40% of the market with DC a distant second- so why shake things up? Depends who you ask.  The Marvel writing staff insists this ambitious story has been years in development as a means to streamline everything into one universe, which makes sense to a degree.  Marvel has had many convoluted stories retconed over the past few years, this could serve as a literary device to finally straighten things out.  Feral fans insist this is a may of making the comics appear more similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently sweeping movie theaters across the world blockbuster after blockbuster, this makes sense to a degree as well.  Merchandise for both the Fantastic Four and X-men have become noticeably less visible over the past couple years as Fox owns the exclusive cinematic rights to each property.  This came to a climax when Marvel and Fox met in court over the use of  the characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who have ties to both the X-men and Avengers. Whatever the reason may be, Marvel seems to have a definite plan here, even leaking some exciting post Secret Wars plans.

I’m more positive on Secret Wars than I was at this point during DC’s Convergence because Marvel seems to have some direction and plans this far out they are more than excited to share.  Right off the bat I’m more than happy to see the lineup for the new (or another) Avengers team including Ms. Marvel, Ultimate Spider-man, and Sam Wilson.  If anything is to be saved from the Ultimate Universe, Miles Morales deserves his place in the spotlight and it seems the powers that be agree!

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Recently Marvel has announced top talent writer Brian Michael Bendis, known not only for the creation and subsequent destruction of the Ultimate Universe but also the creation of the modern day Avengers, will be assuming writing duties of Iron Man this fall.  Iron Man will be Marvel’s new tent pole title around which this bold new universe will be built around.  This was further backed up by new teaser art showing Iron Man surrounded by other characters who will be at the forefront of Marvel post-Secret Wars including recognizable characters who have been in the background  like Ant-Man, Agent Phil Culson, and various members of the Inhumans as well as Secret Wars refugees Old Man Logan and Bloodwulf ( a character from the 1970s I had to look up myself).  One notable character included in the artwork is X-23 donning a new costume inspired by her mentor, the deceased Wolverine we all miss.  One thinks this may be an attempt to silence anyone insistent Marvel is attempting to “do away” with the X-Men.

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Other exciting observations include members of the Squadron Supreme, Thing in new Guardians inspired attire, Spider-Gwen, Peter Parker, Citizen V, and Dr. Strange wielding a rather nasty looking double edged ax.   Marvel has also stated Maestro, the villainous Hulk from the Future Imperfect story line and the all female Avengers featured in A-Force will also be a prominent part of this new universe.

 

My Secret Wars Wish List

Just as I did with Convergence, I’m asking posting some things I’d like to see both during and post Secret Wars.

1. Empty out the toy box – With the inclusion of mini-series such as Weird World, Where Monsters Dwell, and 1602 inspired continents it’s apparent Marvel is certainly digging deep for content.  I say while you’re at it lets tap the bottom of the toy chest for the long forgotten characters and stories we thought we’d never see.  I’m talking about bargain bin dwellers such as Cap-Wolf, Brute Force, and the Marvel Knights Angel Punisher.  At the end of the day, why the hell not?

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2. Magneto – The Malcom X inspired character is one of the most interesting figures in comic book history not because of the various changes he has been through but because despite these changes he has kept true to his ideals.  There will be various versions of other characters walking around, why not have the present day Magneto collide with his counter parts and less than noble versions.  Why not have the heroic Age of Apocalypse Magneto collide with the character at the height of his villainy from X-Men 92.  Maybe even an entire team of Magneto’s, M-Force?

3. Wolverine – If you read my post on the Death of Wolverine you’ll no doubt know I am a huge fan of the Ol’Canuckle head and was sad to see him go.  He was my favorite character since childhood and has left a huge vacuum in the Marvel Universe.   Many automatically assumed as soon as Secret War was announced this would be the way Logan would rise again.  All this being said, keep him dead. Nuff said.

4. Villains – Marvel has a stable of some of the greatest antagonists in comics- Apocalypse, Kingpin, Kang, Norman Osborn etc.  Although there have been some notable moments in individual titles It feel as if they’ve all taken a backseat to Thanos in the past few years, on a line wide scale.  Even Sabertooth and Venom are heroes right now.  With the inclusion of Maestro this is a good time to bring back the bad.  Let’s see characters like Omega Red, Stryfe, and Mr. Sinister, who has already made an early appearance in Battle World, make a comeback.  The Ultimate universe also some great villains in their stable, Dr. Doom, Green Goblin, and Reed Richards.  I’m curios to see their take on Red Skull, whom will star in his own Battle World title.

5. Don’t be afraid to keep what worked – Marvel hasn’t been afraid to try bold new ideas.  Some like introducing a more diverse superhero (Ms. Marvel, Northstar, Miles Morales, and Flash Thompson) are applauded by the readers and the industry while other moves have been quickly introduced and redacted what didn’t work  (Spider-man: The Other). It’s encouraging to see some of the more recent changes, like a female Thor and a black Captain America, are sticking around.  I love the direction of the most recent volumes of Ms.Marvel, Daredevil, and Silver Surfer.  Would hate to think Secret Wars would bring these stories to an abrupt, screeching halt.

6. No more “baby heroes” – One title during I won’t be picking up is A vs X, why? Skottie Young. Yes his offbeat “baby” style is amusing at times but he’s over exposed.  Style does note always mean substance.

Whatever may happen, I’m sure the House of Ideas has a few surprised up their sleeves.  If not, it can always been undone, hexed away, or redacted in an unusual and contradicting story line.  In the meantime, bring on the changes, the new friends, and the new stories.

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.  Excelsior ! 

The Magic of Wildwood, NJ

  Wildwood has always held a special place in my heart.  As a child it was our annual summer vacation destination where I would explore Dracula’s Castle, eat my weight in ice cream at Duffer’s (BTW if you or someone you know works at Duffers they need to bring back the Volcano Sundae pronto), and … Read moreThe Magic of Wildwood, NJ

What the film Hudson Hawk Taught Me

It was May of 1991 and I was a 12 years old sixth grader who was an action and adventure junkie.  I’d like to tell you I found adventure every weekend riding dirt bikes or going to karate but the truth was I was more into Nintendo and Ninja Turtles than anything else.  The highlight … Read moreWhat the film Hudson Hawk Taught Me

Return Refocus Renew

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Before I start this post, the first in many months, allow me to explain my hiatus from posting to The Masterpiece Mindset.  As you may know, the aim of my blog is to help elevate the human experience with discussions on a variety of topics, ranging from entertainment to more serious personal happenings.  While away from this site, I have been working on a new vehicle to spread positive energy and help improve your experience, as a reader.  This new vehicle is www.successphil.com – a way to inspire you to be Philtastic !  Make no mistake, the Masterpiece Mindset isn’t going anywhere, it just has a new and improved way to connect to you.

Speaking of returns, I returned to something this past weekend I had also been neglecting- my yoga practice.  While healing from a re-aggravated injury, I have been focusing on my internet business and connecting with other hungry entrepreneurs.  Although this time has yielded a great deal of growth, I had felt the old clouds of past failures and disappointments wander into my mind on a few occasions. I felt disconnected and at times, doubtful about my future.  While examining how to let these negative feelings go for good I realized when these issues were bothering me in the past, my yoga practice had been a ray of focus and positive energy to dissipate the clouds of doubt I was lost in.  I resolved to return to my practice but had apprehensions and was afraid.

The day of class I was so nervous I found every reason I could not to go to class.  I knew, however, I needed yoga and the positive effects of a regular practice in my life.  I hadn’t realized how long I hadn’t been to class when I strolled in.  I was expecting to find everyone warming up but was surprised to see the class was in mid-pose.  I jumped right into a pose without stretching, which is ill advised of course, and began attempting to match the positions as best as I could.  I realized about five minutes into my visit the class had started 30 minutes earlier, I basically barged into a class mid-way.  After the initial wave of embarrassment crested and washed over me, I started to slow down and focus on relaxation.   I found myself connecting with a well of positive energy and self awareness I had not tapped into in weeks.  My mind relaxed and allowed me to slow down to listen to myself so I could allow myself to focus.  If you’ve never practiced yoga, the best example I can think of is getting a good stretch from a tired overworked muscle.  The feeling of relief and freedom is a small degree of satisfaction I felt from my short Vinyasa flow yoga session.

What can one learn from my experience? The person who said you can’t go home had never really tried or perhaps had a compelling reason not to.  Returning to a practice or activity you not only enjoy but is healthy for you is something we should all aspire to do.  When in doubt, do what I did and remember the words of Virgin CEO Richard Branson from his book “The Virgin Way” – “Screw it, just do it!”

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.