An Ending (of sorts)

I am in therapy. If you aren’t, you really should be. Anyway, I am writing this at the behest of my therapist.

I suffer from depression and other mental health issues. But even if all you suffer from is life, I highly recommend the therapeutical process. It is a great way to get out of your own head from time to time, and have someone reflect back to you your thinking and help you sort things out. Plus, a licensed therapist is required, by law, to keep your confidentiality. That will become relevant to things I will say in a bit.

I had, in the past few years, returned to church. I was mostly attending Sunday school, and not services, and I was doing it for a variety of reasons. I wanted to reconnect to things from my childhood and youth, and I was looking for ways to connect to a larger community. Eventually, I asked to and began teaching a bit. This was in order to grow my teaching skills, and also to offer my perspective on Biblical things. I have written before on this blog about my struggles with God and Christianity. I thought a teaching role would help me work through some of those issues and help me to reintegrate into a Christian society. And it did, somewhat.

Then, I got married last summer, and for reasons that made sense to the other two teachers in the class I attended, I was asked to step down from teaching. They said I needed to focus on my marriage, and my work situation, which was nonexistent. I could maybe have understood the first reason, but the second remains nonsensical to me. But, to be accommodating, and because I had no choice, I stepped down.

When, a few months later, I asked to begin teaching again, I was told several conflicting things that again made no sense. From a few people who apparently had issue with the way I got married, to not being able to be in a position of authority due to my lack of financial resources, I was basically tossed under the proverbial bus and barred from further teaching.

I met with the senior pastor of the church to ask his opinion. He is a not a licensed therapist. Neither are the two Sunday school teachers I was working with. All three violated my confidences, in talking to each other about me and what I had shared with them individually. I felt and feel utterly lost and completely betrayed. It resulted in the situation being escalated, and others in the church being made aware of what was happening. To date, the one teacher has never talked to me directly. The other did, but was so mean in what he said I feel cut off from whatever friendship I thought we had. Because I don’t have a job, and got married, I lost something that was very important to me.

Licensed therapists are different from pastors and Sunday school teachers. Anything you tell them, anything you ask them, is only and forever between you and them alone. There are a few exceptions, such as threatening harm to yourself or another person, but then there are strict laws to govern those eventualities. No such thing exists for clergy or lay church people. So while I highly recommend therapy, I now actively discourage talking about personal issues with any church people, unless you happen to completely trust them with what you say, which, in my experience, you cannot.

Now I am unsure where I stand in that church, and how I feel about God. I tried something, I tried reaching out of myself and toward something higher when I was completely unsure about both, and I was slapped down in the harshest way possible. Now, I just want to cut my losses and be done. I cannot do that for other reasons, but that is how I feel right now.

I am being told to forgive them, but I will not. These people did things for which they don’t deserve my forgiveness. I am letting the situation go, and inviting peace back into my soul. Maybe that is forgiveness by another name, but what I certainly will not do is let these three men off the hook. They did wrong, by me and by others. That isn’t something they should be able to walk away from. But that isn’t entirely up to me either, so again: I invite peace.

One of the best things about therapy is help finding your peace. Peace from a wrecked marriage, peace from an abusive parent, peace from those that have wronged you. It has been said that you cannot control what happens to you, only how you react to it. Therefore, I am choosing to react in a way that brings peace back into my life. It has been a month or more since this went down, during which time I’ve been more depressed and more than usually out of sorts. Time to move beyond.

I give thanks to the universe for help through therapy. May this be a path to lasting calm, about this and other issues. Ultimately, that’s why I share this situation. Not to work out my messy life publicly; but to reduce the shame of mental illness; and to bring to light things others would benefit from having remain hidden.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, reach out to a licensed therapist and get help finding your peace, and do not allow those who would claim power over your life to succeed. The power and peace is yours, and yours alone. I’m reclaiming mine. I breathe deeply, and release the hurt and invite peace into my soul.

Into 2020

It is a new year, and a new decade. No surprises there.

I am unhappy with my life as it stands, and I think the only way to change that is to, well, change that.

I suffer from depression, social anxiety, and medication side effects for meds designed to help me with those things. Over all, I am a lot better on my medication than off, but the side effects aren’t usually helpful. Anyway, the depression and social anxiety cloud my mind and heart even with the meds, so it is just something I have to overcome.

Ordinarily, I love to create and make. I build with LEGO. I take pictures of my LEGO and my Star Wars action figures. I color, paint, and draw. I do other sorts of crafts. I write. But, when my depression is strong, I sit and stare at the wall (literally), or endlessly switch between social media apps on my iPad, even though no new content surfaces. I usually like to take pictures outside, but my anxiety flares up and I fear what others may think or how I appear. Taking pictures becomes something I avoid.

What to do? How to combat this? The feelings are often overwhelming.

Well, I will talk to my doctor soon. But beyond that, I want to have something in place I can see before me. An action plan to keep me on track and creating. It can’t be too rigid, or else I will do what I am wont to do and ignore it or just feel like a failure for not measuring up. So, something flexible.

So far this month, January, I get credit for sitting and thinking about my action plan and getting it ready to go. Besides, I haven’t been idle. In 2020 I have written three blog posts on this, my personal blog. I have also finished an audiobook review (to be published soon!) on a professional blog I contribute to, NerdSpan (as PhilRedbeard). I have built a LEGO MOC (My Own Creation), pictures of which are on my Instagram feed. I actually am very accomplished, but I don’t quite feel like.

But feelings aren’t always reflective of progress, and I need to remember that. Oh! That’s good. I might actually print that out and post it above my computer for inspiration, or better yet, paint it on one of the many canvases I now have for a more permanent reminder.

Beyond that, my action plan is shaping up nicely, and it is very simple: each week, Sunday-Saturday, I am to create. That means:

  • Write a blog post.
  • Write a poem or two.
  • Paint something.
  • Take a picture.
  • Build with LEGO.

Rigidity and flexibility. I have 52 weeks in the year, same as anyone else, and, like anyone else, other things happen and I am not just sitting around. But, for each week, I add something to my world that wasn’t there before. I think that is doable.

I also have some larger goals for 2020. Things I have been wanting to do for a long time and want to make progress on. In no particular order:

  • Start a podcast, either solo or with someone.
  • I have two large LEGO builds in mind. Build them.
  • Start and finish a 12 month photography challenge.
  • Build a game.

I already have the beginnings of working on each of these five large projects. Pictures and ideas in my head. I just need to start implementing them.

I am optimistic. That idea above, “feelings aren’t reflective of progress” is huge to me right now. That just hit me as I was writing. I want to run with that idea, maybe make it a motto for 2020. I dunno, I don’t usually do mottos, but then, I don’t usually do new year’s resolutions either. But here I am.

Let’s do this, 2020!

Another Half Decade of Film

A little more than a week ago, I wrote about the first half of this decade in film, and a brief bit about why I appreciated each film. Today I am back to finish the decade.

2015

Furious 7
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Mad Max: Fury Road
Ant-Man
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Furious 7 is not the best Fast and Furious film, but it is the most emotional. Paul Walker died half way through filming, and finished the film through digital wizardry and his brothers’ help as stand-ins. I cannot watch it to this day without tearing up. It is how Leia/Carrie Fisher should have had her send off in Star Wars.

Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man are both solid entries in the Marvel universe, Ant-Man being funny as hell. Mad Max was the first in it’s series in many years, and the first without Mel Gibson as the star. I didn’t mind Mel being out, and it was a very fun and way more impactful film that I think it meant to be.

The Martian was based on a very popular internet book turned bestseller. (I am actually re-reading it now) and an excellent film starring Matt Damon. It is hard to sum up how The Force Awakens was both widely anticipated and feared at the same time. It was the first Star Wars film since Revenge of the Sith, and given how the prequels messed up, people didn’t want more bad Star Wars films. For my part, I really enjoy it as a solid Star Wars movie. This year had many good movies, but I gotta pick the Martian as my top film from 2015.

2016

Captain America: Civil War
Arrival
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Passengers

Holy cow I love 2016’s top films! My only complaint about Civil War is that given the scope of the story, it really should be an Avengers’ film. But I love everything about it. Arrival is based on a Chinese sci-fi novel and it is amazing. It is the most realistic alien encounter film I have ever seen, and the best family drama sci-fi as well.

Passengers is the best of what science fiction should be: a fantastic setting that tells a very human story and contains a horrendous moral dilemma. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are incredible. But the movie that wins 2016 is Rogue One. The cast is superb, the story tight and compelling, and the emotional arc is bittersweet. Couldn’t be better and a fantastic Star Wars story. Obviously, my pick for the year.

2017

Logan
Baby Driver
Wonder Woman
Thor: Ragnarok
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

It should be obvious by now that I love superhero films. Anyway, Logan was the first R rated X-Men film, and a very real character drama that happened to be about a superhuman. Such a good, emotional movie. Wonder Woman was the first superhero film entirely about a woman, and like the first Captain America movie was a period war film. I loved that it was set in World War One as it entirely complemented everything that Diana started out opposing in her very black and white world view. I loved Gal Gadot in this role. Thor: Ragnarok switched up the formula of the previous two Thor films and gave audiences a hilarious, wacky and wild thrill ride. I enjoy the everloving hell out of it every time I watch it.

Finally, Baby Driver is a musical masquerading as a car/heist film. Despite having the slimy but ever good Kevin Spacey in it, it is a great action film. Lastly, the Last Jedi proved the sequels could be very good. This Star Wars should have won awards, but the journey of Rey, Luke, and Kylo was piercing and thought provoking. My pick? Last Jedi.

2018

Black Panther
Avengers: Infinity War
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Mission Impossible: Fallout

Black Panther was a truly African film. I love that about it. Everyone that mattered in the story was black, and the film really had some important things to say about race, all the while masquerading as a superhero film. I mean, the final battle was literally staged on an underground railroad. I just wish Samuel L. Jackson could have been in it, or that James Earl Jones could have had a part. Avengers: Infinity War was a total gut punch, but you kind of had to have the Avengers lose before they could rise triumphant, but I didn’t think Marvel actually had the guts to go through with it.

Solo was great. I know many didn’t like it, or feel it was “necessary” but I loved it. Alden Ehrenreich was great as Han. And I always love seeing Chewie. Finally, Fallout was a great Mission: Impossible film. M:I should be about “how could they possibly pull this off” and I felt Fallout was the first to really cash in on that idea since M:I3. But my best from this year has to be Black Panther.

2019

Captain Marvel
Avengers: Endgame
Knives Out

Captain Marvel is Marvel’s first female superhero film and it is great. I love Brie Larson and the movie is very fun. Endgame fully ends the saga began with Iron Man in many more ways than one. Brings everything up from Infinity War and doesn’t cheapen the previous loss at all.

Knives Out was the break out film of the year. I expected it to be good as Rian Johnson, he of Last Jedi, wrote and directed it, but damn was it good. So much fun, so twisty, and just plain fun. But for this year, I have to go with Endgame. It was such a perfect Marvel film, and perfectly wrapped up the previous 22 films. Impossible to pull off and yet.

Let me know your favorite films from this half of the last decade. By the way, I found it really hard to pick an all time favorite from each year, and simply could not for the decade. All the films I highlighted were incredible and fun. Besides, it isn’t always about having just one favorite. Sometimes its ok to have two, or ten. Just enjoy what you enjoy, even if it isn’t what someone else enjoys. After all, the world is big enough for all of us is we share with one another.

A Half-Decade of Film

When the last decade ended, in 2009, I was finishing university studies and about to make a few major life changes. This time around I have much more ability to be reflective and to think about my favorite things from the past year and decade.

To that end, I have complied a list of my most memorable films from each year in this past decade, from 2010-2019. I really enjoy going to the cinema and watching a movie on the “big screen”. Films have a way of moving me out of my normal life and normal concerns and putting me into a new headspace, even if for just a few hours. I suspect that it does the same for most moviegoers.

For my end of decade list, I have a few comments about each film, and then will pick a top film from each year. That will culminate in a top film for the decade. It won’t be easy, considering my list and my tastes. Also, this is only the first five years. The second five will be a second post.

By the way, this is simply my list. Your list may, and probably should, look different. We all love what we love, and in our own ways. In fact, I would love to know your top films from the past decade, or any particular year. Leave a comment and let me know.

2010

Toy Story 3
Iron Man 2
Inception
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Tron: Legacy
True Grit

Toy Story 3 made me cry. I am not gonna lie. I really thought the toys were going to face their end, and I got choked up. It was an incredible story, and a great ending to the toy’s story. You’ll notice that Toy Story 4 won’t be on my list, and there is a reason for that. I think Toy Story 3 ended things so well. Iron Man 2 and Scott Pilgrim make the cut because I simply enjoy watching them so much. They are just so much fun. Inception is mind bending and fantastic. A great thrilling story that is a mystery at heart. And it has such incredible visuals. What’s not to love?

True Grit is a great character drama, so well cast, and wonderfully done. Tron: Legacy was the first film I saw in 3D, and the spectacle was well worth it. It is also a movie I will watch at almost any time. The music by Daft Punk is spellbinding. Beyond that, I love so many of the lines from the film. Top pick? It’s gotta be Tron: Legacy.

2011

Battle: Los Angeles
Fast Five
X-Men: First Class
Captain America: The First Avenger
Cowboys and Aliens
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I don’t go in for war movies as much as I did when I was younger. The human cost weighs too heavily on my soul. However, Battle:LA is a sci-fi war movie, and thus divorced from the usual “based on actual events”. I love Aaron Eckhart in this movie, and truly find it entertaining. Fast 5 proved that the Fast & Furious franchise could be something enduring, by taking the street racing genre to a heist film. Honestly, people though F&F was done until this movie. X-Men: First Class was the new beginning of X-Men films, and the amazing cast solidified the new series as well worth watching.

Captain America was a true period super hero film, though not the last. After a slight downturn with Thor and Iron Man 2, Marvel needed a hit to take them into Avengers and got it in spades. Many people dislike Cowboys and Aliens, but this is another film that I just really enjoy watching. A straight western, but with aliens, and with James Bond and Han Solo/Indiana Jones. What’s not to love? Finally, Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downy, Jr. I am a huge fan of both, and this film delivered on both in the same way the first Sherlock film did. Top pick? I’m going with Captain America on this one.

2012

Cabin in the Woods
Skyfall
Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Horror is not my genre, but then Cabin in the Woods isn’t straight horror. It is a blood soaked love letter to horror with zombies (sort of). Anyway, I just really, really love it. Plus, its by Joss Whedon and I enjoy most of his cinematic work. This feels like a spiritual end to both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Skyfall is one of my favorite James Bond films. It to me is classic Bond. I have been a Tolkien fan since the first Lord of the Rings film was announced, and I think this Hobbit film was a great adaptation. Also, the 3D High Frame Rate was completely breathtaking and immersive.

Avengers was the culmination of everything since Iron Man, and successfully blended five movies and six heroes into an ensemble film that was the best of all that had come before. Now that the Avengers saga that began in 2008 is mostly over, people forget what a huge deal Avengers was at the time. I saw this movie in theaters more than any other film to date (surpassing 2008’s Dark Knight). Top pick: Avengers.

2013

Iron Man 3
Much Ado About Nothing
The Wolverine

Only three films really captured me in 2013, not to say that I didn’t enjoy others. Iron Man 3, a Christmas film, really carried on the legacy of Avengers while truly being about Tony Stark and not Iron Man. There are so many things I enjoy about it. Much Ado About Nothing was the little project that Joss Whedon did in between shooting Avengers and editing Avengers. I enjoy Shakespeare and this is Shakespeare done extremely well. The Wolverine is a solid entry into the Hugh Jackman/Wolverine story. I like it because it explores Wolverine without his signature healing powers. Imagine creating a super hero, and then taking away his powers? Yeah, this went there. Top pick: Iron Man 3.

2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Days of Future Past is an excellent, compelling story. The future X-Men go into the past to fix a mistake made by the past X-Men, but this isn’t a standard time travel flick. Both the old and new X-Men casts unite, and I love so much about this film. Best scene is young and old Charles Xavier having a conversation. It was an amazing trailer moment and incredible in the film. I cannot say enough about Andy Serkis and his work as Caesar the Ape in the latest Planet of the Apes films. This is my top one in that trilogy and the one I most often watch again.

Guardians of the Galaxy…Are you kidding me? What a gamble at the time, and what a hilarious, heartfelt, and fun movie. Yes. Yes. Yes. We. Are. Groot. Battle of Five Armies always makes me cry at the end. Always. From the death of Thorin to Bilbo’s farewell. It isn’t the best adaptation, but by the time I get there, I don’t care. Top pick? Guardians of the Galaxy.

There are the first five years of the decade. I will pick up with 2015 and the last five in my next post. Thanks for reading, and again, let me know what your picks would be.

My Favorite Things

As you are no doubt aware, 2019 is history. 2020 is all the rage these days.

I thought I would take a moment and share my favorite things about 2019. I do this as a reminder that there was good in 2019. I tend towards pessimism, and I need to look back and see positivity to keep me going. Without further ado…

1. My wife, Abby Ann(e). I met her in the summer of 2018, but it wasn’t until 2019 that we really got to know each other, got engaged, and in the summer of 2019, got married. It was a wonderful, unexpected, and continually rewarding thing that I did. I still cannot believe that I got married, but I am happy every morning I see her.

2. Every Tool Is a Hammer by Adam Savage. As anyone who knows me knows, I am a huge fan of Adam Savage, former Mythbuster and maker extraordinaire. He inspires me on a daily basis and I aspire to his qualities. In May 2019, Savage released his first book. I bought a digital copy and the audiobook copy, and listened to Adam read his own book while I followed along. Every Tool is a Hammer is part instruction manual part memoir, and I loved every word.

3. My dogs, Duncan and Cassie. I married into them when I married Abby, and I am so happy to have dogs in my life again. Duncan is a derp, who only knows love. Cassie is a punk, who loves to cuddle on my lap while I am watching TV or reading. They are both good dogs.

4. Disney+. The streaming service just launched November 2019, but already I have received the monthly cost value and more. From watching Darkwing Duck at Thanksgiving with my wife and brother in law to catching the incredible series The Mandalorian, it gives and gives. Currently I am catching up with the Star Wars: Rebels show and have watched a few nostalgic movies from my childhood, all for only $6.99 per month!

5. A Mobelmaster thermos. At some point, my wife noticed that I was running back and forth to the kitchen to refill my pint glass with water. Rightfully guessing that this was a bit of hassle, she bought me a Mobelmaster thermos. 30oz and fully insulated, it allows me to take (almost) spillproof water anywhere I go and it keeps cold even overnight! I love it and it is so convenient.

6. A home. Abby had bought a house prior to meeting me, and I moved in when we married. It feels so good to have a home again. Ever since 2014, I moved 6 times in 6 years. I really hope, and believe, that I will not have to move again until we decide to move out of Dallas, but really we have no plans to move any time soon. That feeling of permanence and security goes a long way for my peace of heart.

I received or found a few other fun things in 2019, but really, those are the highlights and the ones closest to my heart. There are things about the past year that I don’t like, and whole bunch of things happened that weighed heavy on me, but these are a few of my favorite things that uplifted my spirits. In that spirit, I look forward to what 2020 will bring my way.

Pop Culture Crisis

In reviewing my feeds this afternoon, I saw a headline that caught my eye: “Kevin Feige Finally Responds to Martin Scorsese”.

I must admit I rolled my eyes and sighed.

I’ve been meaning to write about pop culture and fandom and loving things for awhile now, and I guess there is no better time.

Scorsese has crafted many highly acclaimed films. Feige has helped to craft a universe of films that is only growing bigger. Scorsese criticized Feige’s films and thus we are here, inciting discussion and vitriol the world over.

The issue is larger than two filmmakers having words about the cinematic merit of the films they have had a part in bringing to the world.

This goes back to 2017 as many fans were incredibly vocal about their dislike of The Last Jedi. This itself was shades of 1999 when millions of fans were loudly disappointed in The Phantom Menace, the first Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi.

Perhaps this is much older than that. However, rather than divert into the history of culture critique, I’d rather make a simple point:

You are allowed, when it comes to pop culture, to love what you love and not love what you do not love.

Another person who isn’t into what you love does not threaten your enjoyment.

My words are not all that matter here, so I’d like to quote a few others that have insight into this discussion.

“I always tell people that conventions are so wonderful, because you’ll be surrounded by people who love the same things you love, the way you love them. But that’s not entirely correct. You’re also surrounded by people who love things you don’t even know about, but you love your respective things in the same way, so you get to love your thing enthusiastically, completely, unironically, without fear of judgement.

It’s not about what you love. it’s about how you love it.

There’s going to be a thing in your life that you love, and I don’t know what it’s going to be… It doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love it, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd being awesome.

Don’t ever let anybody tell you that that thing that you love, is a thing that you can’t love.

You find the things that you love, and you love them the most that you can.” – Wil Wheaton Star Trek

We all are going to love different things. We are different people, and what appeals to you may not appeal to me. I love Star Wars. I don’t really care for Final Fantasy. I love baseball. Basketball? Not so much.

“I personally think that everyone is a nerd. That’s kind of one of the things we’ve been trying to do…to me, “nerd” really just means passionate. You can be a sports nerd. You can be super into basketball. Well, guess what? You’re nerdy about basketball. You can be nerdy about cars. You can be nerdy about design. You can be nerdy about all kinds of different things.” – Zachary Levi Chuck, Shazam

Levi is right on. We are all nerdy about something. Doctor Who, engines, sports, Star Wars, crochet…whatever. That isn’t the important thing. What’s important is how you love it: with passion!

“Friendly reminder: we’re all here to have fun and talk about the stuff we love. Tempers can run high when we get passionate, but let’s all remember that at the end of the day, even when we disagree, we love stuff. That’s what makes us fans. Let’s try to be kind to one another.” – @letstalkgrayson on Twitter

We love stuff. We all do. So why not encourage each other in our lives, even if the what is different. I can encourage you to love basketball because I love baseball. I understand what it means to cheer on a team, to wear a jersey, to live and die by the scoreboard.

I can be excited hearing about how you enjoy Harry Potter and what House you are in, not because I am into Harry Potter, but because I know all about Star Wars and the Empire, the Jedi, the Wookiees and on and on.

And while we are here, it must be said: you do not own what you love. The creators do not owe you what you love. You can be disappointed in a thing you love, but don’t exercise that disappointment against those that create the thing.

That way leads to toxic fandom, in which some spew hate and negativity instead of encouragement and love. In which some seek to destroy what they loved and hinder others in their love. And that isn’t good for anyone.

Creators are simply doing their best to create what they would love to see in the world. Rian Johnson did not set out to create a controversial Star Wars film. Kevin Feige did not set out to create the best cinema of all time. They seek to entertain, to create, to play in a particular universe and add to it in a positive and unique way.

And that is ok.

I didn’t care for Spider-Man: Far From Home. I didn’t think it was perfect. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be.

“Stop expecting movies/TV to be perfect. Yes, sometimes you see a thing that checks all the boxes. But stop requiring that. Entertainment is meant to be entertaining, not solve all your issues.” – David Blue Stargate: Universe

When I go to see the latest Marvel film, or whatever, in my heart I simply want to be entertained. I want to escape my world and live in another for as long as it lasts. That is why I love pop culture to begin with. It gives me great stories to escape into. Anything else is just icing on the cake, and that is no lie.

Love what you love. Encourage others to enjoy what they enjoy. And don’t let it damage your calm if someone else has different tastes. It’s love that brings us together. Focus on that love.

And maybe, just maybe, we can make this a better world for all who live in it. This is our shared universe, so let’s make it the best we can.

So say we all!

Telling Stories

All my life I’ve been telling stories.

I remember when I was a little kid, playing with LEGO. I didn’t even own any proper minifigures yet, so I made my own. Being a huge fan of Star Trek and Star Wars, I built my own X-Wing and bridge of the USS Enterprise. I then populated them with my brick-built people.

I didn’t build the ships to have the ships, I built the ships for my LEGO people. I built so that they would be able to travel on adventures. I built to tell the story of those adventures.

These days, all grown old, it is no different. I have all the LEGO I can build with, and many minifigures. But I still am trying to tell the story of each tiny character.

I started to collect 3.75″ Star Wars action figures about 10 years ago. Using primarily two stormtroopers, I took well over 100 photos telling the stories of Kyle and his brother Kyyle.

Today I have several Black Series 6″ troopers and want to once again embark on adventures with them and tell the stories of these new troopers.

My next foray into the world of telling stories is with puppetry.

Once, again, as a child, I was part of a puppet team. I had a wonderful crocodile puppet and did several shows with him. I even wrote, produced, and performed my own puppet show with a monkey puppet that I got for a birthday one year. (I still have that puppet in a closet somewhere.)

Those were simple hand puppets, and made for children. Now I want to get into full size hand puppets, the kind with rods controlling the arms. Eventually I would like to build my own puppet. Until I am able to do that, I thought I would buy one, so that I could learn the craft.

Regardless if LEGO, action figures, or puppets, I just want to tell stories. I have written many short stories, and will continue to do so as inspiration strikes, but I also love real live performance with gesticulating fur and ping pong ball eyes. Something about bringing that to life excites me in a way that LEGO and stormtroopers do not.

For now, though, that remains a dream until I can save enough money to buy my first large size puppet. I have picked one out on Amazon that I would like. I just need to be able to afford him. (If you would like to help with that, you can send me an email to see how.)

No matter what, I will be telling stories. But I cannot wait until I can use a puppet! I even have a name all picked out…