What Kept Me Going This Past Year

December 3, 2014

It goes without saying that everyone goes through hard times in their lives. Personally I have dealt with a lot of disappointment and frustration this past year. In the midst of all of the questioning and tears there have been a few things that have brought me some measure of comfort during the tough times.

One of the great loves of my life are good stories. I enjoy the story and I enjoy the synergy between writer and artist that the comic book medium provides. It takes me around 10 minutes to read a comic book. It always cheers me up and more importantly it gives me a moment to step back and catch my breath. It helps me calm my brain for a few moments while I read about how Batman or Spider-Man save the city or let my skin crawl as I watch the demons emerge from the forest in the horror comic Wytches. I also appreciate the different art techniques used by the many different artists in comics today.  That is what happens when one of your parents is an art teacher.







Another form of art that has helped me get through the year is music.  I have always loved music. There is something special about that melodious noise. It is like someone plucked an emotion out of the air and stuck it in a jar. When you open the jar you can take out the emotion and either wrap it around you like a blanket or drive it into your heart like a blade. Music gives us the ability to express emotions and relieve the tension they can cause.  One particular album that came out this year that has helped me a lot is “Extremist” by the band Demon Hunter.  I love metal and I love the brutal honesty that it can convey.  Demon Hunter is made up of a group of guys that were pastor’s kids or grew up in church. Their lyrics and the way they approach life and religion in them connects with me.  Their latest album “Extremist” has some songs on it that inspire me to keep moving forward. “I will Fail You” , “Artificial Light” and “Cross to Bear” are my favorite songs on that album.



Finally Brian Welch the guitarist for Korn and his side band Love and Death wrote a book called “Stronger: Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality” where he shares in short chapters the struggles of his life and how he has worked to overcome them.  Once again his honesty is what I enjoy most in the book.  His points aren’t all that deep. Don’t expect anything on the level of Kierkegaard or Lewis. Just expect the story of how a guy that loses his temper and does some selfish things finds his way to a measure of peace and learns some life lessons on the journey.



So what works inspire you? What are some escapes that help you relax and decompress?


My Favorites From 2011

December 30, 2011

On a personal level 2011 was a another tumultuous and hellish year for me.  However it was a great year for the various “geeks” trapped in my head.

Comic book Geek:

DC comics decided to relaunch their entire universe. The event mini series “Flashpoint” put an end to the previous DCU and jump started the new DCU or DCNU.   This was a ballsy move for DC and so far it has worked. At least as far as sales are concerned.  I will admit that as a whole I prefer the pre-flashpoint DCU to the new one. However, the wingnut in me was thrilled with the relaunched Nightwing book.  So far it has contained the best Nightwing stories I have read since the good old days when Chuck Dixon wrote the book back in the 90’s.  Another stand out book for me was Frankenstein Agent of SHADE.  It is just a fun comic book to read.  Frankenstein leads a team of monsters against crazy threats from other dimensions.  If you haven’t tried that book yet then you are missing out.


Marvel’s Ultimate line was on fire this year. Not only did Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe die but a new Spider-Man emerged. Jonathan Hickman has written some great stuff in the Ultimates while Nick Spencer has scripted some amazing stories in X-Men.   In the main Marvel Universe Wolverine’s black ops team Uncanny X-force has also been a great read.

The only indie comic I got into this year was IDW’s Dungeons and Dragons comic. It translated everything I enjoyed about the game into a highly entertaining and well written comic.

Gaming Geek:

This year I drifted away from miniature gaming and back to tabletop role-playing.  The Heroes of Shadow book for 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons offered some great options for players.  It added several interesting classes like the Assassin, Vampire and Black Guard.  It also added some new races and some interesting options for the existing classes. Nethermancy anyone?

Movie Geek:

This was a great year to be a comic book fan as many of this past years best movies were pulled  from the pages of the funny books.  Thor is my “movie of the year”. I also loved Captain America and Cowboys and Aliens.

The movie Immortals made my greek mythology nerd happy and it also demonstrated how awesome over the top CGI gore can be.

Music Geek:

Some of my favorite bands released great albums this year. Opeth’s “Heritage” is amazing.  Evanescence rocks it on their new album. Amy Lee once again makes me wish that I had a vagina so that I could fully emote with her…Don’t tell anyone I said that.  On the Christian front Sleeping Giant put out a metalcore record with some crushing rifts and non seeker friendly lyrics. “Kingdom Days in an Evil Age” crushes compromise.   Becoming the Archetype’s “Celestial Completion”  proved once again that Christians can make excellent Proggessive death metal!


TV Geek A.K.A I can’t get a date so I watch:

To be honest it has been a while since I found a TV show that I get excited about watching. Like most people i’ll watch the occasional episode of one of the CSIs or NCISes to pass the time.  I don’t go out of my way to catch them though.  The show Person of Interest caught my interest. It has everything I love in it: drama, action, mystery and a compelling back story that is slowly unfolding throughout the series.  It helps that it stars two of my favorite actors: Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson. I have noticed a few other LOST alums popping up throughout the course of this show.

Now all of the geeks that are trapped inside of my brain have had their voice.   What have you guys enjoyed most this year?

Good Stuff In September

September 30, 2011

I am back. For some reason I feel compelled to keep this blog going. I tried to update earlier this month using a crappy laptop and let’s just say things didn’t work out. I hate that laptop. It will not be on my “good stuff in September” list.  So what did I enjoy this past month?  I’ll start with some of my favorite comics.

DC relaunched all of their books this past month and I picked up quite a few of them.  My favorite relaunch titles are a tie between Nightwing and Justice League International.  As a long time Wingnut seeing Dick back in action as a wiser and more competant Nightwing was a welcome sight.  The writer of this book gets Nightwing and truly seems to understand and love the character.  It seems that the days of having terrible writers on this book are long over.  Justice League International I picked up on a whim. After I read it I immediatly added it to my pull list.  In this comic the U.N decided that they want a Super hero team of their own that they can control. So they assemble a group of heroes and send them on their first mission.  It was a great read and I look forward to future issues.  



Honorable mention goes to Justice League Dark.  You can’t go wrong reading any Justice League book right now.  I have also enjoyed Marvel’s relaunch of their Ultimate Universe. All four of those books have been an excellent read and it is nice to be able to follow an entire universe.  I hope the Ultimate line stays small and streamlined. It is everything the Marvel universe isn’t right now.  The Ultimate U is entertaining and engaging.  In this universe we have new Spider-Man, an outlaw team of X-men and all sorts of insanity happening to the Ultimates.  Great stuff!

Finally, two bands I like put out great records. Sleeping Giant put out a record called “Kingdom Days in an Evil Age” .  It is no holds bar in your face Christian metalcore. This is the way more spiritual bands should approach their music. It is crushing and encouraging at the same time.

 Opeth also released a great record. It is a lot different from their past efforts and I think that is one of the reasons I love it so much.  It has more of a folk feel while remaining dark as ever.  The muscicianship on this album blows me away with each listen. In case for some reason you don’t know….. Opeth is not a Christian band. I listen to the music I like regardless of religious affiliation. They are just good ole heathen music….  I didn’t want someone to pick up “Heritage” and expect some awesome Jesus loving songs….

So that is what was good for me in September.  Next month is Halloween! I love this time of year.

Halloween Goodness: Zombies

October 25, 2010

In celebration of Halloween I am going to do daily posts that highlight my favorite movies, comics and whatever else I can think of based on the creature I pick.  Today’s Halloween monster is the zombie. If  glittery Vampires populate pop cultures wet dreams than surely Zombies are in its worst nightmares. After all it is difficult to romanticize a lumbering creature that just wants to eat you and not copulate with you.  So without further ado here are my favorite pieces of zombie goodness.

By far my favorite zombie movie is 28 Days Later. The movie has a great cast and some truly terrifying zombies. Although in the movie we find out that sometimes human nature can be worse than zombies when it is pushed to the limits.

As far as Zombie comedies go “Zombieland” is my favorite.  The Bill Murray scenes alone make this movie worth seeing.  Honorable mention goes to “Shaun of the Dead”.

My favorite piece of music inspired by Zombies is the “Zombie EP” that was put out by The Devil Wears Prada earlier this year.  There aren’t enough Zombie concept albums in music.  This record is good and heavy. It is the heaviest thing that i’ve ever heard out of these guys. They should write this way more often.

My favorite Zombie board game is “Last Night on Earth” . This game is a regular zombie hootananny!

Finally my favorite Zombie comic book event is Blackest Night. That story line was awesome and it put to shame Marvel’s lame attempts at zombie stories.

What are some of your favorite zombie items/movies/whatever?



Industrial Music Battles Cancer

November 5, 2009

I have to admit that it warms my heart when I see artists come together for a worthy cause. Several Industrial bands are going to have songs on a massive 4 disc compilation project. All of the profits from this project will go towards fighting cancer. Awesome! It comes out  February of next year. I’m including all of the promotional info about it:


Featuring a huge number of amazing bands, this 4 disc compilation coming out on Metropolis Records on 2/9/2010 was put together by longtime 16volt friend and cancer survivor Jim Semonik with proceeds going towards the Foundation for Cancer Research and Wellness. Here is some more info from The Pittsburgh City Paper:

Like the city itself, Pittsburgh’s dark-electronic music scene encompasses both the clangor of the Industrial Revolution and the buzz-and-click of the Information Age. A consistent mover in that cyber-punk community is Jim Semonik, who’s put in a decade of both concert promotion (as Distortion Productions) and live performance, with electro-industrial band Rein[forced]. Semonik’s dedication didn’t waver during his difficult bout with Colon Cancer last year, and he’s eager to give back to the medical wizards who saved his life with an anthology called Electronic Saviors: Industrial Music to Cure Cancer.

Saviors has become a monumental undertaking: a four-CD box-set plus a downloadable fifth album, due on February 9, 2010 on goth-industrial juggernaut Metropolis Records. The 80-plus artist lineup includes industrial/EBM legends Combichrist, Chemlab, Suicide Commando, 16Volt and Leather Strip, and a contingent of local acts like Prometheus Burning and Semonik’s group. “It took 90 percent of my free time for the last eight months,” Semonik recalls, “but it was well worth it considering the tracks I got — there’s not one filler on the whole thing.”

Proceeds from the compilation will be donated to the Foundation for Cancer Research and Wellness situated in Harrisburg, PA. Furthermore, the compilation will be LIMITED TO 2500 COPIES!

The following is a complete track listing from the compilation:

Disc 1 – Diagnosis & Insurance:

1.SMP-Stay Sick
2.Stromkern-Notes From A War(First new track since 2004’s Light it up)
3.Boole-Smoking Gun
4.Interface-Never Say Farewell
5.Chemlab-Solar Max(The Jimmy Sextex Coil)(First New Track since 2004’s Oxidizer)
6.Bow Ever Down-Goodbye
7.The Gothsicles-Jim, Let Me Know When You Can Drink Again(Extreme Party Stylezz)
8.TERRORFAKT-Painkiller(First New Track in 3 years since Teethgrinder)
9.16 Volt-Things Unkind
10.Rein[Forced]-Malignancy(Pancreatitis Mix)(First New track since 2006’s Futile Longings..)
11.Ego Likeness-Save Your Serpent
12.Burikusu!!-7 Dimensional
14.Cesium 137-Endure(Encoder Mix)
15.Cyanotic Feat Eric Powell of 16 Volt-Axiome(Grey Version)
16.Silent Auction-Deliverance
17.Terror Firma Sky-Cancerous Catalyst Converter(First Released Track since Static Landscapes comp 2000)

Disc 2 – Chemotherapy & Radiation:

1.The Dark Clan-Beat it, Kill it
2.The Azoic-Search and Destroy(Savior Mix)
3.genCAB-Version 2(Aesthetic Perfection Mix)
4.Christ Analogue-The Fight
5.Prometheus Burning Feat Jimmy Semtex of Rein[Forced]-Malignant Disco
6.Boxed Warning-Run First
7.Assemblage 23-Impermenance(Flight AC-112 Mix)
8.I:Scintilla-From A Wasteland To A Dream
9.Imperative Reaction-Giving In To The Change(Assemblege 23 Mix)
12.Sonik Foundry-Stigmata
13.XuberX-Fear Is Fear
14.Mindless Faith-Into The Wind
15.Cyber Strukture-Some Sorta Rhythmic Machine
16.vircon-Count Backwards From Ten
17.Jordan Decay-The Great War

Disc 3 – Surgery:

1. Deathline Int’l-Breaking
2. Encoder featuring Jimmy Semtex of Rein[Forced] and Patricia Wake-Jim’s Song
3. Vicious Alliance-Right Beside You (Save Me Now Mix)
4. backandtotheleft-Maybe Today
5. Nachtmahr-Katharsis(Purification Mix)
6. Null Device-Under the Gun Immune Response
7. Suicide Commando-Until We Die (Winter Edit)
8. Agnes Wired For Sound-Don’t Worry (We’ll Meet Up Again)
9. System Syn-Blood (2009 Edit)
10. Acumen Nation-The Juice of Rotted Fruit
11. Aesthetic Perfection-The Ones (genCAB Mix)
12. Dismantled-Not Me
13. FGFC820-Children Of Decay (Northborne Mix)
14. Everything Goes Cold-I’ve Sold Your Organs on the Black Market to Finance the Purchase of a Used Minivan (I Don’t Want Those Organs If There’s Cancer in Them Mix)
15. Leæther Strip-The Scalpel song (Neoplasm edit)
16. Mordacious-Sleeping Beauty
17. Flesh Field-Detritus of Reason

Disc 4 – Recovery:

1. Noisuf-X-White Noise (Gift Mix)
2. Hardwire-I Am Forever
3. The Atomica Project-Transmission
4. Massiv In Mensch featuring Mind.In.A.Box-Supermassive Gravity (Endanger Mix)
5. SD6-Free (Interface Mix)
6. Obscenity Trial-Here and Now (Banging Mix by XP8)
7. Alter Der Ruine VS Premeditated Light-Dawn
8. nolongerhuman-Survival
9. Iris-Imposter (ThouShaltNot Remix)
10. Debutante-Alive
11. Andraculoid-You Tried To Kill Me, But I Killed You First
12. Deviant UK-Access Denied (Rotersand Mix)
13. Hypefactor-The Sweetest Soul(Rex Mix)
14. Freezepop-Duct Tape My Heart (Chinese Theatre Remix)
15. Spahn Ranch-In the Aftermath (Moroder Mix)
16. Caustic-Jim Made Cancer His Bitch

Disc 5 (digital bonus) – Medication:

1. Wreckcreation-Incomplete Me (Remix)
2. Borderlines-Visualization
3. AimOniA-Three
4. Beloved Dead-Twist of Fate
5. Derek C. F. Pegritz-Please Let Me Go
6. Molecule Party-Riser
7. Patricia Wake-Peaceful Shores
8. Neurobash-Left 4 Dead
9. Jon Zaremba-The Best Way to Tear Anything Down is to Blast!
10. Less Like Flesh-Virus Free
11. EVP-Schrödinger
12. Surviving The Odyssey-Dissolving the Sanity
13. Retar-D2-EXTRA LIVES!
14. The Hose Face-Dread
15. Sachem Orenda-Evident Product of Effort
16. TowerOpensFire-With Heavy Hands

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