my talk at Career Day

Today was Career Day at my alma mater, Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. The event happens every two years, where alumni come back to Spellman and set up tables to talk about whatever it is they do for a living, dispensing advice and stuff to the sophomores and juniors.

The day starts with some keynote speeches, and I was one of the speakers this year, talking about how being at Spellman made me into the person I am today. I was joined at the podium by MC Jim Joseph (who is a theatre manager on Broadway now, and with whom I performed in both West Side Story and Damn Yankees at Spellman), finance manager Erika Amoro, swimming pool management magnate Sean Johnson, and New Jersey’s current Secretary of State, Tahesha Way.

Fellow alum, current Spellman English teacher, and one of my oldest friends, John S. Drew, recorded the event, livestreaming it on Facebook. Here’s the video. (If you want to skip ahead to my bit, Jim introduces me at 43.20 and my speech starts at 46.50.)

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcardinalspellman%2Fvideos%2F2080279428912723%2F&show_text=0&width=560

It was tremendous fun, and I was mobbed by kids afterward who hit me with tons of questions. It was fantastic, and I had a wonderful time.

It was also exhausting, so I haven’t gotten much done today, beyond teaching my usual Friday night kids karate class. But before sleep tonight, there must be word count! *dives in*

 

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4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Daredevil

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Ben Affleck plays a superhero whose comic book history includes some hugely influential work by Frank Miller, in a movie that is overall pretty terrible. But it’s not Batman v. Superman (which we’ll get to in due course), it’s Daredevil, the 2003 Mark Steven Johnson movie that utterly mangles the character.

An excerpt:

To make matters worse, Johnson has no understanding of how the justice system works. It’s bad enough that Daredevil murdered Quesada in cold blood, a moment at which I lost any interest in the character. But to make matters worse, DD only went after Quesada after the latter was declared innocent in a rape case against Matt and Foggy’s client.

Here’s the thing: victims of crimes don’t have lawyers in criminal cases. The district attorney’s office prosecutes the alleged perpetrators. The only way for Nelson and Murdock to be representing a rape victim in a courtroom is in a civil case, where the burden of proof is far less than it is in a criminal case.

And Matt and Foggy still lost. Which doesn’t mean that the justice system failed, it means that Matt and Foggy failed as lawyers. And because Matt and Foggy are shitty lawyers, Matt decided to suit up as DD and commit murder.

I say it’s my birthday

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On this day in 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes rode through New England to warn the colonists of imminent British invasion, a ride that was immortalized (and embellished significantly) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ninety years later.

On this day in 1906, a nasty earthquake shook San Francisco.

On this day in 1923, Yankee Stadium opened. My paternal grandfather, a teenager, attended the game.

On this day in 1938, National Periodical Publications released Action Comics #1, which featured a story by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster featuring a character called Superman.

And on this day in 1969, I was born.

Other folks have birthdays today, ranging from historical figures Lucrezia Borgia and Clarence Darrow to current genre actors David Tennant and Chloe Bennett.

It’s a good day to have a birthday, I’d say.

I turned 49 at 3.28pm this afternoon. At that specific time, me and most of my immediate family were in Sylvia’s, a magnificent soul food restaurant in Harlem. We all had glorious food, and the staff serenaded me with a delightful a cappella rendering of “Happy Birthday” when they brought dessert. (Also the incredibly charming maître d’ refused to believe I was 49. I assured him that I owed it all to drinking the blood of my enemies…..)

Huge thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday, whether in person, or via text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, e-mail, or semaphore. It’s been a fantastic day, and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s funny, a few months back I was watching some old episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street, and Ned Beatty — playing an old, divorced character, meant to be seen as a bit broken down and feeling his age — mentions that he’s 48 years old. I stopped dead in my tracks, realizing that I was the same age as Detective Ned Bolander when he was lamenting his age.

And yet, here I am on my 49th birthday, six months removed from achieving my third-degree black belt. I feel happy and young and vital, I’ve got a good career, a wonderful life, a great home, and just generally everything is nifty and keen. No, it’s not perfect, obviously. I still miss Dale every damn day, my knees still suck, money is a constant issue — but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it may be my birthday, but I still need to get word count in……………………

 

a birthday review of a twelve-year-old story

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In honor of my birthday, Steven H. Silver of Black Gate Magazine reviewed my 2005 short story “A Vampire and a Vampire Hunter Walk Into a Bar,” which appeared in what was at that point the final print issue of Amazing Stories (a distinction it’s going to lose soon, as the magazine is at last being revived). It’s an all-dialogue story that I originally wrote for a Van Helsing anthology that was being put together to time with the release of the 2004 Van Helsing movie, before we all could possibly know that that movie would be a steaming pile of poo.

The story was rejected because all the other stories that editor Jeanne Cavelos took for the anthology were serious and nasty horror stories, and my slight all-dialogue short short didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the book at all.

So I submitted it to Amazing, they took it, and the rest is history. As was the magazine after this issue. The story was later reprinted in The Town Drunk in 2006 and in my short-story collection Without a License in 2015, plus Gypsy Audio did an audio drama of it in 2012.

Money quote from Steven’s lovely review:

The very clichés which DeCandido skewers in “A Vampire and a Vampire Hunter Walk Into a Bar” are what cause the story to work. On its surface, it’s the tale of the two title characters sitting in a bar complaining about the expectations the public has about them, particularly the vampire, based on the films NosferatuDracula, and the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

However, the very sense of camaraderie the characters show is based on the idea that during the Victorian period, when Dracula was first published, gentlemen antagonists would have a level of respect for each other’s abilities.