Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some Lighter Fare: My "Bradbury Shelves"

Things have been sorta heavy and serious around here lately, so it's time for a little lighter retrospective on my interests and background and shaping as a fan of all-round genre stuff.   As I've said in the past, I can't say I found my roots as a kid in horror and monster movies and stories, but I was definitely drawn to different, out-of-the-box media which certainly shaped my interests.   

Mostly adventure cartoons, in the beginning,  ironically a few fantasy 'toons like Blackstar, Dungeons & Dragons (though I never really got on the He-Man train), Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, Batman, Justice League of America, The Fantastic Four, Thing and Superfriends, of course.  Jason of Star Command was a pretty cool live-action Star Wars-wanna-be show I barely remember glimpses of, except that I was absolutely obsessed with it.  There's a DVD collection of all its episodes, and one of these days, I'm going to get it.

Some pretty cool short lived cartoons like Go-Bots, Pole Position, and of COURSE Transformers.  When a bit older, G. I. Joe and ThunderCats occupied top spot for my animated affections, and when I moved into comics, I was all over the map.  

My aunt used to get me a comic subscription every year for my birthday.  First came Star Wars, then G. I. Joe, Transformers, ThunderCats, The Secret Defenders and New Defenders, and after awhile, Dad allowed me to buy one comic every month at the Reader's Island, at pretty cool magazine kiosk at our local mall.  My tastes were pretty eclectic, ranging from The Hulk to Batman. Later in college, I encountered Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, and really followed the Hulk and various X-men titles for awhile.  Of course, I was all over the Death of Superman and Knightfall titles.

And of course, the Christmas gift that practical, engineering, nonfiction-reading Dad probably regrets giving to this day: in junior high, my first box-set of Original Five Year Mission Star Trek novels.  Even more than Star Wars (because the first NEW SW novel wasn't released until after high school graduation) Star Trek was my first Sci Fi love.  

At that time, I knew nothing of the movies or television shows.  For me, Jim and Spock and Bones existed only in print, and that's it. By my senior year of high school, I encountered Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, but for a long time, I gravitated back to Star Trek and Star Wars. 

Even as my genre interests are varied, so are my interests, period.  I just like lots of different STUFF. I think that's why I love author Norman Partridge's blog so much.  Sure, he blogs about writing and the writing life and all  that, but mostly, he blogs about stuff he likes.  About things that interest him, and things that inspired him.  Seems so much more genuine than pre-determined posts with a topic and question calculated to draw a certain number of comments for maximum website exposure. 

I know that's a big thing these days for authors, and while I sorta admire the ability to draw that much attention to a website, I tire of it, don't read those blogs very often, because they just seem to rehash the same topics they know will draw attention.  That, quite frankly, bores me.

Anyway, Norm has what he likes to call his "Bradbury Shelves".  He details the inspiration of these shelves stuffed full of nostalgia here, here and here. Now, I don't have anything nearly as impressive as Norm does, and a lot of the stuff on my own "Bradbury" shelf I've collected over the last 10-15 years, not from when I was a kid.  There's some fun stuff there, though, so I thought I'd cover bits of it for a few blogs.  

A note: My "shelf" has moved around a lot, in different rooms and places.  Right now it's in my new office (which is really a work/tool room) on pretty plain shelving.  But, w/o further ado, he's segment #1:




So, the big basketball trophy to the left has NOTHING to do with writing at all, but has huge memories attached to it.  Basically, at a really BAD time in my life, right after breaking things off with my ex-fiance, I was handed the opportunity to coach a small college's men's basketball team.  Supposed to be the assistant coach, but the head coach left unexpectedly.  

I played four years of college hoops, basketball was actually my first love, but I'd never coached before.  Had no clue. So I figure one thing: "We're small and fast.  So we need to outrun everyone.  And to do that, I need to condition the heck out of them."  Luckily, I had a team of rock-hard, determined kids, led by three extra-hard senior captains.  

They did everything I asked of them and more.  We defied all expectations, turned in a winning season, and lost in the Regionals by 3 points, two steps shy of our National Tournament.  And the best  part is, the players pitched in and bought that trophy for me.  Importance?  It was really the first time I felt like a leader, of any kind.

The book immediate next to it, More Scary Stories? That whole series fascinated me in elementary school, and I guess you could say that's where my love of this stuff came from.  Those simple stories freaked me out, but I couldn't stop reading them.  Prediction of the future....? 

Anyway, holding it in place is a chunk of coral reef from the bay of Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  My last year of college basketball, our team traveled to Jamaica, stayed there for a week, running camps and outreach programs, and we played a technical college and the Jamaican Junior National Team.  I got that coral reef snorkeling.  Saw a swordfish and almost freaked out, thought it was a shark...

You see the old fashioned Coke bottle? (really, one of the reissues from the eighties) I've got a bunch of those and REALLY old bottles, from the fifties and sixties.  I think they look cool, and also, I firmly believe soda tasted WAY better bottled in glass than they do now.

Of course, a Hess Truck.  Classic kid's gift.  Will always keep it.  Just wish I'd kept it in better shape, because you can't find those original ones ANYWHERE, now.

Between the coral and Hess truck are two medals I received when my college basketball team went to the National Tournament freshman year.  Though not a big scorer, I started almost every game and played a lot.  Would like to think I made a difference.  Anyway, those medals aren't worth much, except my high school team always posted losing seasons, so that one year of college basketball pretty much wiped out four years of frustration for me, as a player.

Edit/Update: To the far right is a program for this year's Horrorfind, one of the best Horrorfinds I've attended yet.

And of course, peeking out the top is my first Hiram Grange Award for my manic reviewing habits, and also, behind the Coke bottle is an AnthoCon program, a first of it's kind (and hopefully not last) also.  Next to the Hiram Award is one of the very pictures taken of Madi and I, with me - of course - reading to her.  Behind another bottle is a thank you card signed by the entire Seton HS cast of Romeo & Juliet.  I played Prince Escalus.

Okay.  Next section of my Bradbury shelf, tomorrow...