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.

MarvelSecretWars

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!

All-New-All-Different-Avengers-Free-Comic-Book-Day-Cover

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.

Marvel-Post-Secret-Wars-2 Marvel-Post-Secret-Wars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Cap_Wolf_Packpunisherangel11-e1393386966482Brute_Force_Vol_1_1

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 ! 

Best and worst cover songs.

861

I read somewhere people stopped appreciating new music at some point in their late twenties.  Since hearing this I’ve been proud of the fact my thirst and passion for new tunes has yet to be extinguished.  Music, to me, is the great communicator.  It is a language echoing messages across different languages, religions, ethnicity, and levels of understanding.  It has the power to bring friends and families together or comforting the listener when you’re all alone.  It is a time machine transporting appreciators across decades of memories in seconds like a Delorian streaking across the sky.  I started seriously listening to music later than most, my senior year of high school.  Up until then my CD collection consisted of Scott and Todd phone scams, movie soundtracks, and a few Aerosmith albums I picked up to impress a girl I had a crush on Sophomore year (it didn’t work).  My love for the medium was galvanized in college when I was introduced to punk, heavy metal, and ska by two gentlemen I am blessed to call friends today- Mark and Nik (not a typo). Many of my weekends were spent in a noisy club reeking of stale beer and cigarettes or peroxide because we didn’t know to use hair dye back then.

Nik is the one in red, Mark is the one in black/grey, I'm the one in blue pleased with myself after nailing another friend, Dave, in the coin purse seconds before the picture was taken.
Nik is the one in red, Mark is the one in black/grey, I’m the one in blue pleased with myself after nailing another friend, Dave, in the coin purse seconds before the picture was taken.  Guess which one is Dave?  By the way, we’ve all lost significant amounts of weight since and Dave has children, so everything worked out just fine.

I’ve been addicted to the HBO series, Sonic Highways, chronicling the Foo Fighters road trip to recording studios across the country while they are recording their new album.  The show is also a journey through history of music in each particular city in only a way a true musician can appreciate.  Each episode is like a love letter to the medium and has turned many viewers, myself included, onto songs artists and musical genres they would never have even thought of listening to prior to the show airing.  In my case I am finding myself scouring You Tube searching for songs by the Zack Brown Band, Tony Joe White, and other country artists after watching the Nashville episode of the series.  What appealed to me the most about this episode is country’s heavy reliance on cover songs throughout history.  I’ve always been a big fan of the well done cover song. I embrace a well done cover song or tribute album as not only something familiar to bop your head along to but also as an opportunity to discover a new or old artist.  During my college years it seemed every punk band had at least one cover song they would either improve or utterly destroy.  The songs that improved on their predecessor were always a special treat and a great gem.  Like that seen in High Fidelity:

Some of my favorite cover songs:

1. “And Then She Kissed Me” – Kiss

A great example of taking a song and making it your own. One of my all time favorites.

2. “Cum on Feel The Noise” – Quiet Riot

I would normally out his under guilty pleasure but it was the first heaven metal song to reach #1 and it’s chock full of 80s music video cliches.

3. “16 Tons” – The Nightwatchmen

Tom Morello best known for his work with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave brings us a surprisingly jazzy version of the song about corporate oppression. Surprised this has never been used in a tv series. Speaking of Tom Morello…

4. “Paper Planes” – the Street Sweeper Social Club

This cover I actually prefer to the original by MIA. I blast this every time my iPod shuffles to it.

5. “Your Song”- Elle Goulde

This is so well done I almost wish it was an original song. Very delicate and delicate sounding. She’s got a great voice.

6. “Common People” – William Shatner and Ben Folds

This is the song that made me like Ben Folds and respect Shatner – sorry not a Trekkie

7. Enocium – entire cd Great collection of tribute and cover songs.

My personal favorites on this are:

“Dancing Days” performed by my favorite band Stone Temple Pilots,

“Going to California” by Never The Bride,

and “Hey Hey What Can I Do” by Hootie and the Blowfish

8. “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” – Al Green

This song makes me wish I could sing.  I would sing this every freaking day!

9. “The Man Who Sold The World” – Nirvana

If you grew up in the nineties you couldn’t escape this song. It holds up and is every bit as haunting as the Bowie original.

10. “Hurt” – Johnny Cash

This video still chokes me up every time I see it. I think this was released shortly after June passed. Even though Nine Inch Nails released it, it feels like it was Cash song all along

11. “Take On Me” -Reel Big Fish

I listened to a good amount of punk and ska music in college. Every punk band had a cover song on their album. This was by far my favorite. It makes me miss ska music. Even though the video is goofy and missing the signature animation of the original, it’s just a lot of fun.

12. “Love Me Two Times” – Aerosmith

Great bluesy classic !  They also have a great cover of Come Together if you feel like searching for it.

13. “I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston

It’s a shame how she passed but when this came out I was shocked to learn its a cover of Dolly Parton. She had such a wonderful voice.

14. “Chauffeur” – Deftones

Deftones are known for their heaven guitars, pounding drums, and guttural screams but this Duran Duran classic really proves their musicianship.

15. “Cat Scratch Fever” – Pantera

I saw an interview once with Dimebag before he passed where he proclaimed Ted Nugent as a huge influence on him and Vinny Paul. The arrangement and care with this track is a meticulous testament to their admiration of the song.

16. “Desolation Row” – My Chemical Romance

I’m not a fan of My Chemical Romance and I don’t know of Bob Dylan is either but when I hear this song I don’t care lol. The official video is boring so I went with a fan made one using footage from the film The Watchmen, based on the graphic novel of the same name. This song appears on the soundtrack.

17. “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon” – Urge Overkill

The Pulp Fiction soundtrack cemented Tarantino’s knack for mixing music with motion picture to invoke emotion, like Scorsese before him. This was the only cover on the soundtrack but a stand out track.  When I was in high school I copied the track onto a mix tape. I didn’t realize this was a cover song until the manager at the indoor amusement facility I worked for, Dimitri, borrowed the tape.

18. “Don’t Think Twice” – Mike Ness

The Social D frontman really showed off his musicianship with this classic. Exactly what you wouldn’t expect from punk, that’s why it’s so punk.

19. “Airbag” – Richard Cheese and Lounge Against The Machine

If you don’t know who Richard Cheese is you need to go to iTunes and download all his songs RIGHT NOW !!! Swankified versions of rock amd rap hits. Hilarious and well done.

20. “The Man in Black” – The Bouncing Souls

Hands down my favorite cover !!!! From the best band out of NJ!! Bon who ?? Boss of what ?? That’s right I said it !!!

Honorable Mentions:

1. “Keep Me Hangin On”

Vanilla Fudge

and Kim Wylde

I kept both versions to illustrate how the same cover from 2 different artists can have two totally different moods.

2. “Sweet Dreams” – Marilyn Manson

Turns the 80s dance song into a creepy nightmare.  

hqdefault

He later did a cover of “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell and “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode.

Both of which….sucked.

3. “Got The Time” – Anthrax

4. “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” – Hole

Remember the film, “Crow:Salvation” few do.  It was direct to video fodder you can’t even find in a bargain bin today.  The soundtrack, however, was fantastic and included this tune.  Hole also had a great cover of “Gold Dust Woman” on the Crow: City of Angels soundtrack, which was also great too.

5.”Come on Eileen” – Save Ferris

Monique Powell was supposed to be Gwen Stefani before we knew who Gwen Stefani was.  Campy video but great sound.

6. “Land of Confusion ” – Disturbed

Great song but apparently they tried to cover the video of Pearl Jam’s song Do The Evolution too, including hiring comic book artist/legend Todd McFarlane to design the video  but failed 🙁

Todd McFarlane with his biggest creation, Spawn.
Todd McFarlane with his biggest creation, Spawn.

7. “Holy Diver” – Kill switch Engaged

Great song. Terrible video. I’m assuming they were trying to spoof Dio’s video for Rainbow in the Dark by visiting a Midevil Times

8. “Teenager in Love” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

9. “Imagine” – Blues Traveler

10. “Don’t Stop Me Now” – The Vandals

11. “Turn The Page” – Metallica

A noticeably darker version takes on a whole different meaning than the original. I would have listed it under my best but it was overplayed.

12. “I Will Survive” – Cake

That’s right ladies, we’ve taken it back l!

13. We’re a Happy Family – A Tribute To The Ramones Entire Cd
Great Ramones covers from U2, Rob Zombie, Kiss, and Pete Yorn.  Although Red Hot Chili Peppers version of “Havana Affair” is my favorite, I’ve included Garbage’s cover of “I Just Wanna Have Something to Do”

14. “Strutter” – The Donnas

Let’s face it –

Brett Anderson of The Donnas

drcstrutterpic3

looks a lot better as the Star Child

8285217b5efb91f457e2a351813dd909

Than Paul ever did

15. “Save a Prayer” – Eve’s Plumb

16. “Kick Out The Jams” – Rage Against The Machine

17. “Heroes” – The Wallflowers

Literally the only good thing about the Godzilla film from the late 90s. Jacob Dylan’s explanation of this song ruined it for me ” The Wallflowers are playing despite the city being destroyed cause that’s what we do for our fans ” yacht !!

18. “Big Hard Sun” – Eddie Vedder

19. ” Polk Salad Annie” – Elvis Presley

20. “Let Down” – Scott Weiland

21. “Thank You” – Chris Cornell

22. “Ring of Fire” – Social Distortion

23. “Tired of Waiting for You” – Green Day

24. “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” – Patti Smith

When I hear this I think of watching Dennis Miller’s show on HBO with my Dad. 🙂

miller

25. “Summer Nights” – Less Than Jake

If you aren’t familiar the punk band put out an album titled Greased covering all songs from the Grease soundtrack. Some love it some hate it. I’m in the first category

26. “Hotel California” – Kid With Man Head

Most of you probably don’t know this one but it holds a special meaning for my friends and I. Every time I hear this I think of Freshman year at Rutgers, Nicholas Hall, E Wing and our times together.  This post is dedicated to you 🙂

Here’s a list of some to avoid like the plague at all costs

1. “Fame” -Tommy Lee

Someone told Tommy Lee he should try to sing. I hope that someone has since lost their hearing

2. “Feel Like Making Love” -Kid Rock

I love Kid Rock but this one hurts.

3. “Stayin Alive” – Ozzy Osbourne

Starts with “all aboard the disco train!!” —- I’ll take the next one

4. “Sweet Child of Mine” – Sheryl Crow

5. “Papa Don’t Preach” – Kelly Osbourne

Not even auto-tune can save it

6. “Dancing With Myself” – Blink 182

Just annoying

7. “Squeeze Box” – Poison

Painful

8. The Most Wonderful Time of Year – Entire Cd – Scott Weiland

The video for Winter Wonderland was great a nice call back to Bing Crosby. His version of Silent Night is long and labored.

9. “Billy Jean” – Chris Cornell

Chris is a great singer but he slims like he’s in pain through half this song

10. “The Boys Are Back In Town” – Everclear

Boring

11. “I’m a Believer” – Smash Mouth

So sweet and sugary it will make u a diabetic

12. “It’s My Life” – No Doubt

Bland

13. “You Spin Me Right Round” – Dope

Also bland

14. “Bullet The Blue Sky” – POD

A mess

15. “Another Brick in the Wall” – Class of 99

It’s a shame this is the last recording we have of Layne Stanley.

Guilty Pleasures
1.”Word Up” – Korn
2. “Smokin in the Boys Room” – Motley Crew
3. “Cleveland Rocks” – The Presidents Of The United States of America
4. “Street Fighting Man” – Rage Against The Machine
5. “Blue Monday” – Orgy
6. “Revolution” – Stone Temple Pilots
7. “Faith” – Limp Bizkit
8. “Legs” – Kid Rock
9. “Smooth Criminal” – Alien Ant Farm

10. “Going Back to Miami” – Blues Brothers

What’s your favorite cover? Did I miss one?  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. 

Words Never Said – The Story of Fireflies and Flux

IMG_1598.JPG

I have a friend I have not seen in a few years. Who or why isn’t important, not to this post at least. I can’t say for sure if I ever will see her again, my heart says maybe my head says probably not. Rather than dwell on uncertainty I choose to make my own future. Let my fate be driven by my actions and thoughts rather than random acts put into motion by others. Still there is a conversation I wish I had with this person a long time ago. Let’s call this person Flux to avoid any further uncomfortable grammar. The rest of the details are irrelevant.

When I met Flux, Flux was very shy especially towards men. Flux had an issue with an abusive man and as a result had a fear of all men, even those in Flux’s family. Overtime Flux and I grew very close. I treated Flux like a member of my family and Flux did the same. One evening we were coming home from a night at the movies. I was in my car and Flux was in another. I didn’t see a “no turn on red” sign and was pulled over. I arrived at Flux’s house about twenty minutes later to find Flux was upset It was obvious Flux had sever separation anxiety and was afraid something had happened to me. A few months later, I was gone from Flux’s life. It wasn’t because of anything either of had done. The reason is irrelevant. I miss Flux a lot to this day and often regret I’m not part of Flux’s life any longer but I know the circumstances which separated us and know I did everything I could. There is one thing I was I had said to Flux. It haunts me now sometimes but I have faith Flux knows this because I have no other choice.

When I was a child and the warmer months were upon us, my sister and I would go outside at dusk and chase fireflies. We would try to trap one to watch their body illuminate before releasing them back into the night. On one occasion we were visiting my Grandmother, as we did weekly, and I had gone outside to catch fireflies. I managed to trap one in a small jar. I ran inside the house excited to show my family my new pet. My aunt and uncle ( brother and sister) sat me down and explained I had to release my firefly. I was only six or seven years old at the time but they explained to me somethings can’t belong to one person. They are there temporarily to appreciate and then are gone. Twenty five years or so later I realized I learned something important about people one summer evening at grandma’s house. People are like fireflies. They come into our life and they may brighten things up for awhile or they may just fly away. What makes them so special is the time we share amazed by their glow, not the time we spend missing their absence.

Flux is a little older now. I hope this is something Flux has come to realize. Every time I miss Flux I think about fireflies and say a quick little prayer hoping Flux is doing well, knowing if we are meant to be in each other’s life again, God will make it so. Until then, Every summer night when I see a firefly glow I will think of Flux and smile. Although I wish I could snuggle up next to Flux and play games like we always used to, I have to settle on this.

The Story of Two Monks – What Does it Mean to You ?

monkAssome of you may know, I regularly practice vinyasa flow yoga tohelp keep my back flexible as well as promote overall wellness.  At the end of one of my recent classes, my instructor read us a short story to meditate on during shavasana.

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her.

The senior monk carried this woman on his shoulder, forded the river and let her down on the other bank. The junior monk was very upset, but said nothing.

They both were walking and senior monk noticed that his junior was suddenly silent and inquired “Is something the matter, you seem very upset?”

The junior monk replied, “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The senior monk replied, “I left the woman a long time ago at the bank, however, you seem to be carrying her still.”

Although I later learned this is a classic story from the Tao, it was new to me and I found it deeply interesting on a few different levels  After class a small group of us spoke about how it meant letting go of the past and either accepting situations for what they are or coming to a peaceful resolution.

Although I agreed with this translation of the story, I found as the week continued to march on, the story took on new meaning for me.  In terms of goals and decision making the story of the monks reminded me to focus on the bigger picture.  While the younger monk thinking all the reasons why he shouldn’t help the woman in distress, the elder monk realized this was an opportunity to work towards the purpose he has devoted his life to, the betterment of man.  Although I’m not a monk and have never aspired to be one, I assume the main objective of a monk is to reach enlightenment and commune with nature on a high level of consciousness. I’ve been reading, or more accurately listening, to Grant Cardon’s “10x Rule” lately and found his overall message is not unlike this interpretation of the monks’ story.  Although his unapologetic style meant to rile up the listener with a dose of equal parts inspiration and moxie is a far cry from the peaceful monks tone, both teachings remind us to focus on whats important in life.  Don’t waste your time and energy on coming up with reasons why something won’t work and focus on how you can make it work.

This past week also started and ran a fundraiser to benefit a friend who lost her home to a fire.  I’ve always had an altruistic nature and have been a member of several different charitable and community organizations in the past.  I set a goal of raising $1,000 and proudly touted my goal and my plan online.  I was initially surprised and almost dismayed when some people I had counted on helping out flat out declined to participate. I had to pause and tell myself I’m doing this not for my own benefit but to help out someone in need.  Perhaps these people who didn’t want to help were assisting in other ways and if not, it wasn’t a reflection on me or my friend it was a reflection on that person.  Needles to say, I re-focused on the task at hand and continued to plow ahead.  I didn’t hit my $1,000 goal but at the end I had raised money from sales and donations, which I originally hadn’t considered I would receive at all.  When I collect the donations and deliver them to my friend later this week, her happiness will have made the journey worth it.

Let’s look at this from the other monk’s perspective, one can always learn something new by looking at the other perspective.  In this case, the younger monk was confined by the regulations of his order.  I’m sure we’ve all felt confined by regulations and guidelines at one time or another. That being said, the monk in this situation should have focused more on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t do.  Perhaps he could have procured a boat or canoe to help the woman sail across the water.  Maybe he could have found a way around it by wrapping her in cloth so there was’t any skin to skin contact.  Either way this is a case of ambition, if the younger monk really wanted to help the woman he would have found a way.  The fact he didn’t help the woman doesn’t make him a terrible person; sometimes good people fail to act in good ways, but in his mind he knows he did wrong.  If not he wouldn’t be preoccupied with “would have” or “should have.”  He expected the other monk to ignore the woman as he chose to, the fact the elder monk acted differently bothered the younger monk, not because he failed to act but because he felt the actions of his associate made him appear like less of a person.

In summary, here’s what I took from the story of two monks:

  1. If you have a goal that is important to you, you’ll find a way to reach it or to stay true to your path to reaching it.
  2. Over-thinking, under-thinking,and not taking action doesn’t help anyone. and finally…
  3. When faced with adversity, don’t focus on why not, instead ask yourself how.

What are your thought about the story of the two monks?  What is your interpretation and how does it apply to a challenge you’ve faced or something you want to accomplish? I want to know – comment below and let’s chat.

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 is also all about that bass. 

 

 

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

IMG_1277.PNG

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.

IMG_1278-0.PNG

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.

IMG_1276.PNG

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.

IMG_1275.PNG

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.

IMG_1279.PNG

The Death of Wolverine

IMG_0847.JPG

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.

IMG_1040.JPG

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.

IMG_0966.PNG

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.

IMG_1057.JPG

IMG_1077.JPG

IMG_1041.JPG

IMG_0932.PNG

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 ?

IMG_1065.JPG

IMG_1056.PNG

IMG_0932-0.PNG

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.

IMG_1039.JPG

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.

IMG_1068.JPG

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.

IMG_1030.JPG

IMG_1110.PNG

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.

IMG_1051.JPG

IMG_1067.JPG

IMG_1081.JPG

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.

X

IMG_1064.JPG

IMG_1050.JPG

IMG_1042.JPG

IMG_1111.PNG

IMG_1069.JPG

IMG_1121.JPG

IMG_1060.PNG

IMG_0995.PNG

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

IMG_0962.PNG

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.

IMG_0961.JPG

Why is everyone mad at U2 ?

IMG_0662.JPG

I’m going to start this post by stating two facts about myself, which I want to make clear before diving too deep into the subject:

1. Although I am a fan of U2, I have never been a fan of their politics.

2. I am also a fan of Ozzy Osbourne.

Last week Apple unveiled a whole new bag of goodies including the newest I-Phone we’ve all been waiting to either praise or raze since last years. Ideal came out. To top it off, Apple announced all I-tunes users now own a free copy of U2’s new album, “Songs of Innocence“. All they have to do is pluck it from the cloud and enjoy. Everyone likes something for free right ? Apparently not. Many I-tunes users are reporting they resent the fact U2 has given their music to them for free. Some younger users complaining they don’t know who the band is, despite decades of sold out stadium tours across the world. My question to these people is: What’s all the fuss about ?

To those who don’t care for U2 – I get it. You’ll never listen to the songs, great I respect and celebrate your freedom of musical choice. If you’re a music enthusiast, like me, you’re I-pod is chock full of thousands of songs you consistently skip over. Most of that music you pass by you probably paid for in some way shape or form. Whats another 11 tracks of fast forward past ?

To the youngsters who haven’t heard of U2 – you have the most to gain from this. You get to discover a group of the most beautifully versed poets. If you don’t believe me, jump on You Tube and check out “One”, ““Stay”, or the 2002 Superbowl Halftime Show ( my personal favorite halftime experience). Try to expand your boundaries a bit. Yea they’re not jumping on stage singing about their clothing line or have rambling outbursts on how hard it is to be married to a Kardashian but give it a shot, you may like it.

To those concerned U2 has “sold out” – Where have you been for the last twenty years ? This band have always introduced their new projects in a huge fashion, whether it be on the rooftops of a building in LA or pre-loaded onto your $500 phone. U2 hasn’t been the band who played at the local pub for years now! They’ve had their music showcased in movies (including their own film, Rattle and Hum), television programs, and commercials for years now. They announced the tour for their album titled “Pop” at a K-mart ( it was supposed to be ironic). They appeared on The Simpsons and more recently on Entourage. The early I-pod commercials even portrayed silhouettes dancing to U2’s hit, “Vertigo”. They even had a special edition I-pod filled with the band’s music.

To Sharon Osbourne, who will probably never see this – Mrs. Osbourne, big fan of you and you’re husband’s work but, calling U2 a bunch of sell outs, with mediocre music, and stating Apple is responsible for making music disposable ? Come on now! Ozzy has more useless merchandise than any other artist. There’s the lunch boxes, action figures, lighters, bottle openers, shot glasses, and other oddities destined for the dollar bin at the local Spencer’s. Not to mention the appearance on South Park, video game soundtracks, Ozzy’s cameo in the Adam Sandler Opus “Little Nicky” or the fact “Crazy Train” blares through stadiums and arenas at sporting events across the country. Love him or hate him Ozzy has sold out over and over again. There is also the MTV reality series responsible for revitalizing Ozzy’s careers and attempting to launch the career of Kelly Osbourne, who I may add recently appeared in Sharknado 2. As far as the quality of music goes, I’ve bought plenty of Ozzy albums where only two or three tracks didn’t strike me as filler, including the Prince of Darkness box set ( all aboard the disco train). Although I love the guy, Ozzy’s not really experiencing a musical renaissance right now. Just sayin.

Music on a whole became a disposable commodity well before Apple or even the advent of the MP3. The truth is music became irrelevant when it became unaffordable. I can show you all my concert ticket stubs chronicling the gradual climb in ticket prices from something the 15 year old Phil could afford on his pt after school and weekend job to an investment 35 year old Phil has to plan and budget for. File sharing services stopped the record companies from gouging their customers but also made it extremely difficult for artist, both new and old, from enjoying the high sales the industry had become accustomed to. Tom Petty recently gave out copies of his last album for free to anyone who purchased a ticket to his shows. Generation Y doesn’t even buy music in any form anymore, most stream their tunes through services like Pandora and iHeart Radio. Keeping all this in mind can you blame U2 for jumping on the opportunity to put their music in the ears of millions of subscribers.

So to the naysayers who have loudly protested the album, I want to hear from you. What’s the problem ? What’s so terrible about getting a free download from Apple ? Is this really an issue or is it just media fluff ? I want to know what you have to say. Comment on the post and fill me in.

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 first lets take another selfie !

What Entrepreneurs can Learn From Batman

This artwork encompasses what makes Batman great and why we should aspire to be a little more like him ( minus the terrible childhood tragedy and obsessive compulsive nature forcing him into a life of loneliness). In this pic we’ve got 2 other beloved comic book characters and fellow members of the Justice League (the … Read more

Facebook Helps Bring the Limbs on my Family Tree Closer

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” – Alex Haley It’s easy for someone to hate social media.  It may not have a practical purpose other then to let people who have too much to say talk to much about what their favorite movie is, how high … Read more