A Sequence of Events

My father passed away on November 28th in 2013. In 2014 the 28th was Thanksgiving and I was worried that I would have trouble with the day. And while others in my family seemed to struggle, even if they hide it fairly well, I found myself no worse off than I had been on Thanksgiving the year prior, where we had a good time but missed the presence of my father who was in a nursing facility recovering from surgery as he had been for some time.

That night, a year prior, we got in our cars and went to visit him, taking him a plate of the Thanksgiving feast. He was very happy that we had come, as he’d been very upset that he would be unable to attend. I was glad we’d gotten everyone to come.

The next day I came to visit him, because I needed him to sign some checks. A few for bills and a couple for Christmas gifts for out of town family, his children from his previous marriage. I didn’t stay long. Then on Saturday I was sick, and being sick I couldn’t go see him, so I called him and told him I couldn’t come by and probably wouldn’t be by on Sunday either. I told him that I loved him, and he said he loved me too. These weren’t things we said often, he and I, and I couldn’t tell you why I said it that day, but I did. I suppose that’s about the best last words to have with someone.

The flu or cold or whatever I had hit me hard, and I was down for the next few days, taking time off work to get well. Then on Wednesday morning my brother called and told me dad had been taken to the hospital. Or maybe he called to tell me about the first incident of dad passing out. I honestly don’t recall the phone calls of that morning. We went to the hospital, my wife and I, both sick and wearing masks to hopefully limit our possible contagion. He was in the ER when we arrived. He’d coded four times, once in the ambulance and three times in the ER, or at least that’s what I recall, and then we was taken to the ICU. He was alive, but dependent on machines. He’d had, they believed, a blood clot, and we waited on a doctor to come assess his brain function, to let us know the chance of recovery.

Later that morning, we had them turn off the machines and allowed my father, whom the doctors gave no chance of recovery, to pass.

So, as I said, Thanksgiving, on the anniversary of his passing, went much more smoothly than expected. By the weekend I was sick again, another flu, and Saturday morning I broke down as I recalled our last conversation. Then on Wednesday after Thanksgiving, I broke again. The date, it seems, doesn’t matter as much as the repeating of a sequence of events. I suspect in the coming years that the Saturday and Wednesday after Thanksgiving will continue to be rough for me, especially if I get the flu.

Over three years ago, someone who had been my best friend for a decade died on Christmas Day. Every year I expect the day to be difficult, and while I have a moment or two of sadness, I’ve never broken down. In 2010, when it happened, we heard about it while driving home from Christmas with the family, and it had snowed, and was still snowing. My wife wishes for a white Christmas every year, and if we every get one I wonder what it will do to me.

Blue Christmas


As long as I could remember, it had always been “us” on Christmas Day. My mother, my father, my older brother, my younger brother and me. My mother passed in 2003, and since then the four boys continued on. But then my younger brother and his wife had a son, and who could deny a child the joy of Christmas morning at home? Not me, not when those were some of my favorite memories.

I was in search of a new tradition.

My wife and I decided that we would take my father out for breakfast. That would be the new thing. We did that a couple years, and now… my father is gone. From his passing on the 28th of November to now the time just slipped away. We’ve made no plans. Christmas morning will just be us and the dogs.

Just before he died, just after Thanksgiving, the last time I saw him in person, I was getting him to sign checks for Christmas gifts. Every year he sent money to the children from his first marriage, my half-brother and half-sister, and he gave my brothers and I money with which to purchase gifts in his name for our families. In my case, for me to purchase something for my wife, and for my wife to purchase something for me. Christmas morning we will be opening the last Christmas gifts from my father.

As if that were not enough, two years ago, one of my best friends died on Christmas Day. This year, much like last, I can only assume he will be heavy in my thoughts.

This evening we will join with the rest of my family for some gift exchanging and such, and I am certain there will be merriment and cheer, yet a pall will fall across the whole of the day.

I expect, however, that many of you are not weighed down with sorrows so fresh. So, though my heart is heavy this year, I wish to you all, sincerely, a very merry Christmas.

Shhh… it’s a secret!

nomailThe past few years, I’ve participated in a Secret Santa event from a community I belong to. Two years ago, it was just Quarter to Three, and last year too. This year it’s Quarter to Three and Broken Forum. The first year I participated in it, I was lame. I bought items from my Santee’s Amazon wish list based on a theme – all comic book related – and wrapped/packed them in old Comic Shop News issues. Last year, however, I took it upon myself to again pick a theme but to include something crafted, something unique. It went over extremely well.

Last year, I bought my Santee a couple of book in the Steampunk genre, and then I took a copy of his wedding photo and redid it as Steampunk. It’s the first image below.

This year, I was participating in two exchanges. For one, I went with a space theme – more specifically, Gundam. I got him a model that he wanted and then made up a photo to go along with it. It’s the second image. For the other, my Santee did not provide his wish list and he was fairly difficult to stalk because he actually keeps to himself a lot, but luckily he said he’d be open to anything. Since I’m a big zombie fan and he’s a chemical engineer, I decided to get him a selection of my favorite recent(ish) zombie books and created a photo of him working on zombie formulas in his lab. It’s the final image.

I’ve really enjoyed doing these, and I look forward to doing more of them in the years to come.

A Week of Tweets on 2010-12-05

  • Anyone else playing Perpetuum? #
  • "Cheer up, Ed. This is not goodbye. It's just I won't ever see you again." #
  • If your browser has more than one 3rd party toolbar installed and no good reason for it, I officially ban you from the Internet. Good day. #
  • Started this year's Christmas short story last night. I'll tease you with the first line: "The Christmas tree finished eating Henry Wright." #
  • Homemade chicken pot pie. Delicious! Thank you, wife. #
  • The best part about the end of NaNoWriMo is that I can get back to reading. #
  • Still disabling Lexulous emails on Facebook daily, still getting the emails. One of you needs to admit fault and fit it. Stop buck passing. #
  • What is the point of a WYSIWYG tool if the tool applies not default styles by default? #
  • You are expecting an email and it doesn't come. Why do you suspect it was never sent BEFORE checking your spam/junk folder? #stupidpeople #
  • Damn you browsers! Why can't you all use the exact same standards?! #
  • @comcast Why are the prices on your website so different from what the people on the phone say? One of them is lying… #
  • Seriously? $82 a month for Internet Access, Comcast? Seriously? #iwishihadanalternative #nocompetitionblows #
  • Find a way, watch all 13 episodes of Terriers, then send an email to user@fxnetworks.com in support of a second season. #terriers #fx #
  • On Error Resume Next #

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Movie Round-Up: December 25th, 2009

It’s Christmas, so these are going to be short and sweet…

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel:

No.  Just, no.  Not if you paid me.

It’s Complicated:

You know, reading the description of this movie, I wouldn’t mind seeing.  But I’m certainly not going to pay $10 to see it in the theater.


Just like the movie above, it looks like its going to be decent, but not at the theater.  I’ll wait for this musical on Netflix.

Up in the Air:

I’m a big fan of Jason Reitman’s work, especially since Thank You For Smoking.  And George Clooney is great.  Everything I’ve heard about this film is good news, so I totally want to go see this.

Sherlock Holmes:

Oh, hell yes.  I’ve always liked Holmes, but not when he just stood around out-thinking his opponents.  I prefer Holmes to have a touch of action and adventure to him.  From the first trailer I saw of this I knew I was going to see it, and see it I will.

The Last Christmas

As promised, here is my holiday short story.  It begins like this…

He hadn’t thought of himself as anything more than Santa Claus in many years. Since he’d been passed the mantle he’d just enjoyed the magic of the position. He spent three-hundred sixty-four days of the year in his village workshop, with just one night out to deliver toys to all the girls and boys who still believed.

It was a dwindling list of names, but more so this year. Around April the list very nearly cut by half in a single day, and steadily it had fallen until around mid May. After that is dropped in chunks every now and then with one more sharp decline in early October. By December first, when the village usually kicked into overdrive to finish all the toys, there we barely more than a hundred names left, less as he loaded up his sleigh on Christmas Eve.

… you can read the entire thing here.

Cats & Bags, Ledges & Jumping

Mostly, this post exists entirely to commit me to action so that I can’t back out and if I do people can call me out on it and say, “You said you were going to, then didn’t!”

Last year, I sat down on December first, thoroughly disappointed that I’d failed the NaNoWriMo, again, and thought to myself, “What I need is a smaller goal.”  So I decided I was going to write a short story and post it on Christmas Eve.  The story that I wrote, however, was very very depressing.  Not that I had intended to write something light and happy, but my initial turn toward darkness wound up being a death spiral into oblivion.  In the year since I didn’t post it I’ve only read the story twice and hated it both times because it was not only dark it was needlessly so.  It wasn’t just dark, it was black.  There was just nothing redeeming about it at all because it wasn’t even well written.  Obviously, I didn’t post it.

So, another NaNoWriMo has gone by and I didn’t win, again, but I had the same thought as last year.  That I just needed a smaller goal.  I kicked around the idea that sparked last year’s short and decided that since I, personally, am not in such a dark place this year (last year in addition to failing the WriMo I was also unemployed and a number of other things) I would take another crack at it.  I am very pleased with the results.  I still need to make another pass or two at it for glaring errors and then give my editorial staff (wife) a shot at it, but I do think it will be ready before Christmas.

As such, I am stating here and now that I will be posting a short story on Christmas Eve.  It is entitled “The Last Christmas” and I hope you return to read it and enjoy it.

Movie Round-Up: November 6th, 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats:

This movie looks bizarre enough to make me laugh. Seriously, a movie about a secret military group trying to kill goats with the power of their minds? I may not rush to the theater to see this one, but it is definitely on my must see list for the future.

A Christmas Carol:

Again?  I suppose Hollywood needs to trot out the Dickens classic every now and then, but I haven’t been a huge fan of the dead-eyed uncanny valley motion capture Zemeckis films so far, perhaps this one will change that.  It is in 3-D, and I love me some 3-D.  However, I might want to wait until a little closer to Christmas to see it.  I just hope its not gone by then.

The Fourth Kind:

I like movies about alien abductions. Fire in the Sky, Communion, and so on. So I am predisposed to like this movie, however, after seeing a screening I found I only sort of enjoyed it.  It was interesting, but felt more like a documentary than a movie.  On the other hand, as a film making experiment I think the movie does very well. Writer/Director Olatunde Osunsanmi used a mixture of “filmed” footage starring Milla Jovovich and “raw” footage consisting of audio and video tapes of the true events the movie is based on.  In addition to that, the majority of the “filmed” footage, taken almost as re-enactments, played in simple stereo sound and had a tinny quality, as if we were listening to the sound through a tape deck, but when important “action” scenes, those concerning contact with aliens, the theater would flood with full high quality surround sound.  It made an impact on the audience, the switch from stereo to full surround, and heightened the experience.  While overall I was a little disappointed in the story of the film, I would definitely recommend seeing this one in the theater if you are at all interested.

The Box:

With the success of I Am Legend a little while back, it was inevitable that other Richard Matheson stories would get to the big screen.  This one, originally titled “Button, Button”, was also previously an episode of the 1985 run of The Twilight Zone.  A half-hour or hour long show seems the right length for the content of this story.  Matheson’s original differed from the Twilight Zone episode, and so this movie differs from both.  It was too long, too slow, and for something billed as a horror and/or suspense film, it lacked both.  The real problem with the film is that it telegraphs its only punch and then never deviates.  If you pay attention in the beginning, after the short conversation with Mr. Steward after Norma Lewis presses the button, you have all the information you need to know how this is going to end.  Sure, the movie throws a few red herrings at you to try to fake you out, but they are all hollow elements, and in my opinion would have been a far more interesting story than what we got if they had been fleshed out.  So, my recommendation, pass on this one.  In fact, don’t even bother with it down the road when its on DVD or cable.