Tag Archives: Orlando Florida

No Cellphone? Yeah, what of it?

I do not own a cellphone.

There, I said it.

I realize that puts me in the overwhelming minority of Americans, but I’m really okay with that. I can’t tell you, though, the number of shocked and surprised looks I get when this information comes forward. Many react like I’ve told them I don’t own shoes and they simply can’t comprehend what I’ve just said. Of course, it isn’t unusual that folks can’t comprehend what I say. “I” sometimes can’t comprehend what I say.

It’s not that I’ve never had one, I have. Twice.

The first time I owned a cellphone I enjoyed it. It was during those brief months when I worked selling academic furniture (yeah, I know—long story THERE, too!) and traveled the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. I wasn’t usually gone for more than a couple of days, but I spend considerable time on the road and it was good to have to speak with university representatives, my bosses, and—of course—my family.

This was in the days before the smartphones (that’s one word, right?) and so my biggest concern was actually getting a signal. The “can you hear me now” commercial often applied to my experience. This would have been 2005, nearly ten years ago now.

After that job disappeared, the phone went with it. No, “I” paid for it—but I didn’t see a need for it once I stopped traveling.

Fast forward to 2011 when I took a job in Orlando, Fl., but still owned a home (and a family!) in Oxford, Ms. So, I got another one so that I could keep my family posted during my drive/commute and while I was away. The first year of my employment saw me a week here, week there, etc., so there was a lot of driving. On top of that, eldest child reaches the age where “everybody else has a cellphone, I should too,” wah wah wah. And when she started driving, the idea sounded a lot better.

Fast forward once again just slightly to 2012 when the entire family decides to get on “a plan.” Yep, they sold it to us that way. So, we all got smartphones except for the youngest. Except, this time, I didn’t really see a need for it. We kept them for several months until the entire family finally joined me in Orlando and the provider we had did not(and still does not, I think) service the area. So we got out. But the family wanted a new “plan” in Orlando.

Except I opted out.

Yep. S’true. While I found the smartphone a fun gadget, I didn’t really “need” it (what I needed was to sell my house in Oxford—but that’s another story!) and so I was having a real hard time justifying the expense.

The only time I really regret the decision is when wifey sends me to the grocery store and I find myself staring at product labels. Only then would I really like to have a phone.

Maybe I should try to get one of those Obama phone?

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Eventually, everything breaks

An old friend of mine used to always tell me that computer hard drives have a 100% failure rate. I’m not sure if it was originally his or not, but he was fond of saying it whenever we talked about computers. Initially, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around that—“but I just bought this hard drive, how can you tell me that there is a 100% chance it will fail.”

To date, he’s been absolutely correct. For computers, I just move my information from the old one to the next and keep going.

But I’m finding that there are a lot of other things that possibly fall into that category, particularly anything that uses electricity.

I missed blogging last week because we loaded up a 26foot Uhaul and then spent 2 days driving 750 miles with it packed so tight I was sticking things in with a half-open (or was it half-closed?) door. Then I had to put it all directly into a storage because we still have no place to move to yet.

But the point is that BJ and I had this lamp that I’d wanted for some time before we actually got it. It was my favorite. Those of you more astute writers have picked up on the past tense. The lamp wasn’t fancy, nor was it really that expensive. When we got our sectional sofa (eighteen years ago), I wanted one of those cool lamps that spread out into five different pieces so it would light up every spot on the sofa—I could read anywhere I sat. So we got it—and I loved the lamp.

The sofa is now gone, too. We decided a few months back that after eighteen years, the sofa would not be making the trip to Florida with us.

The lamp DID, though.

After I put everything in storage…tired as all get out, I put the lamp in the back of my truck to take it to our tiny apartment (it’s a one room and VERY temporary) so that I could continue to use it.

When we pulled up at the apartment the kids grabbed armfuls of stuff and headed in because we were all tired. When I went to take the lamp out, I saw the base had a piece broken off. When I actually picked it up to take it out of the truck, the base just…crumbled. Crumbled into so many pieces. I didn’t realize it until it broke that it was a concrete block base wrapped in some thick plastic/rubber material.

There was nothing to do but toss the entire thing.

I guess that’s why the really “old” things go in museums.

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Busy busy

So I haven’t been posting here like I’d like to. I know there are a couple of you out there that actually miss it—and you do my ego good, so thanks. It isn’t that I don’t want to post, it’s just that I’ve barely had the chance to even breathe.

Let me catch you up!

For the last year and a half, I’ve been “commuting” back and forth from Mississippi to Orlando, Florida, where I’m a Creative Writing instructor at Full Sail University. Lots of reasons for the commute, but the main one has been our house in Oxford has yet to sell. Yeah, I know—frustrating. In fact, as I write this, it still hasn’t sold (anyone need a nice house out in the suburbs of the county in Oxford?). But, since Brittany is graduating from high school, we’ve decided to suck it up, make the move, and trust God to take care of it (hope He’s listening right now!).

Still, it’s pretty scary.

I’ve been losing about a day and a half each week of my schedule to travel. Driving is about 12-13 hours (depending on whether I’m traveling east or west…and how many stops I have to make) and I lose about a half day just recuperating. Which means I have to make incredible use of the remaining days. Those of you with families know how challenging that can be sometimes.

Of course, when I can, I squeeze in writing time. I know I promised at the new year that I’d give you some updates—and they’re coming soon, promise. I should have some cool art to show you soon! The other thing is that I just got a top secret graphic novel writing gig—sorry, I can’t talk about it yet even though I want to! I promise I’ll spill the beans when they let me. While that’s great news—it is!—the publisher wants the script YESTERDAY. EEEK!

On top of that, I’m making a move from teaching in the MFA program to the BFA program. I’m excited as anything to be making the shift. Why, you ask? Because I’m getting to teach Writing For Comics and Animation. I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT?

Yep, it’s cool…but here’s the downside: the class is running NOW! I’m barely staying one step ahead of the class with lectures. I don’t EVEN want to talk about grading yet. The good news is that come June, the material will be written for the next class that comes in…I’ll have the opportunity to spell check and work out some bugs with the next class…I trust. I just hope this first class, who know they’re the inaugural class, will be forgiving of all the bumps in the road.

So. There it is…in a nutshell. Thanks for sticking with me…I hope to get back to some semblance of “normal” mid-to-late summer.

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Filed under family, General, Kids, Moving

MegaCon 2013 report

Me, Brittany, and Tony Fortenberry at MegaCon in 1998.

Me, Brittany, and Tony Fortenberry at MegaCon in 1998.

I feel a bit guilty that I’ve talked about or mentioned Megacon in my last three blogs…but doggone it, I’ve been pretty excited about it—and with good reason. So, this is my report on it!

Brett and Brittany doing table duty at the show. I didn't realize they color-coordinated until looking at the picture.

Brett and Brittany doing table duty at the show. I didn’t realize they color-coordinated until looking at the picture.

I’ve only attended Megacon once before, and that was in 1998. I don’t remember the drive at all, but do remember staying with good pal Tony Fortenberry and his wife Claire. I also remember having a great time…and yes, we went to Disney after!

So, 15 years later, I’m anticipating great things and I wasn’t disappointed. Friday the kids and I set up shop around noon. Unfortunately, Brittany wasn’t feeling well and the first hour or so was occupied with find medicine for her—there’s a story all in itself!

Robert is an Ultraverse fan who stopped by to chat...and I discovered he was a kicker for the Florida Gators...several years back! How cool is that?

Robert is an Ultraverse fan who stopped by to chat…and I discovered he was a kicker for the Florida Gators…several years back! How cool is that?

Tired and anticipating a big Saturday, the kids and I headed back to the apartment.

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory. I've known Barry since the 6th grade. We were creating comics together by the 7th. Yes, they were on notebook paper, but still!

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory. I’ve known Barry since the 6th grade. We were creating comics together by the 7th. Yes, they were on notebook paper, but still!

Saturday was indeed a big day. I haven’t seen such long lines since the last time I went to San Diego Comic Con. In fact, Megacon 2013 reminded me a LOT of SDCC when I last went. The parking lot was packed and we had to park in the back, back 40! When the doors opened, the crowds streamed in. The aisles were jammed packed with congoers, all of whom had great attitudes about the entire thing. Lots of folks stopped to get books and signatures. The Wizard of Oz graphic novel proved to be the most popular title on my table for the weekend. One nice fan brought me some comics to sign and I told her that I didn’t write them. She insisted (nicely) that I did and when I opened the cover to check out the credits, Brett immediately pointed to my name indicating me as the writer.

Me with Paul Pelletier holding a copy of DEMON'S TAILS, a mini-series that I wrote and he drew...oh so long ago.

Me with Paul Pelletier holding a copy of DEMON’S TAILS, a mini-series that I wrote and he drew…oh so long ago.

It was a short lead-up story to the Eliminator mini-series that I co-wrote with Hank Kanalz. I had just flat forgot all about it. I gladly signed her copies—but now I’ve got to go hunt those things down for me! I also got to meet Robert McGinty, a guy who I’ve only ever chatted with on Facebook’s Ultraverse page. I learned he was a kicker in the SEC!

Me and Brittany with supercool comic rockstar Jimmy Palmiotti. He took time to offer some good advice to Brittany in regards to getting "into" the acting business.

Me and Brittany with supercool comic rockstar Jimmy Palmiotti. He took time to offer some good advice to Brittany in regards to getting “into” the acting business.

One of my personal highlights was getting the opportunity to have dinner with my old pals Barry Gregory (and his son), Thomas and Rene Florimonte, and Paul Pelletier. We told stories and caught up for hours. I accused Brittany of being bored and she scolded me later (and in private), telling me she loved to hear the stories we told. The cool thing about old friends like that is that while it had really been 15+ years since I’d really seen any of them, it felt like only last week we were talking. (We did, however, come to the conclusion that Paul has now drawn well over 4,000 pages of comic work! WOW!)

Me with George Perez. He's holding a copy of Genesis #0 for which he did the cover. An anthology, I wrote one story (drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti) and edited the others.

Me with George Perez. He’s holding a copy of Genesis #0 for which he did the cover. An anthology, I wrote one story (drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti) and edited the others.

Sunday was quite a bit slower and all the artists around me were dragging a bit. I got to see and visit with friends George Perez, Jimmy Palmiotti (who was kind enough to take a few minutes to offer Brittany some suggestions for getting into the acting industry), Billy Tucci, Chuck Dixon, as well as make new friends of Brian Demeter and Michael Bramson. Both were incredibly cool guys as well as talented artists.

And yes, once Megacon was over, we made the 12 hour drive back to Mississippi. And yes, we were dog-tired (and Brittany caught some kind of bug while there). All in all though, we’re all looking forward to going to Megacon again next year!

11 Comments

March 21, 2013 · 11:00 am

Happy New Year 2012

Once again everyone, including me, is expressing surprise at how quickly 2011 came and went and we find ourselves in 2012. I told my kids just yesterday that when I was their age,” we thought we’d all be flying in rocket packs like The Jetsons by the year 2000. I gotta admit, though, with all the new-fangled phones on the market today, we are a little bit like Dick Tracy.

The Manns had a different, but fun, Christmas (and very hectic). We took the kids out of school a little early (because they’d got decent grades) and went to Orlando to try to beat the crowds to Disney. And we had a blast there (see pics!). We did Magic Kingdom on the first day and enjoyed a ton of rides and attractions. A family favorite was, of course, Space Mountain.

The second day we went to Disney Hollywood and I wasn’t nearly as impressed. One thing that really bothered me was the “designated smoking areas” seemed to be everywhere. Brett and I accidentally sat in one and continually dodged the smoke. I absolutely cannot stand the smell of it. Honestly, I don’t recall if the Magic Kingdom had the same thing, but I certainly don’t remember anyone smoking there. I just assumed (and you know how dangerous that is) that all the parks were non-smoking. It wasn’t a complete loss: Brittany made it through all the initial phases of American Idol and got to compete/perform on stage. Yes, I’m biased, but she should have won. All three judges liked her and had positive things to say…they didn’t all three like the other two. Regardless, it was a fun experience for her.

It also holds the roller coaster highlight for us in the Rock and Roll Roller Coaster with Aerosmith. Wow, but that thing is fast! Brett and I were both a little nervous before we got on, but it ended up being a great ride.

  When we left Orlando, we began a whirlwind Christmas tour to see our families. We spent Christmas Eve night at home, but that was it! It was great to see family, but it was also good to get home and sleep in my own bed.

And while I don’t really do resolutions, I do have some goals for the coming year. Those include trying to blog once per week, finishing up novel #4, and getting some comic/graphic novel projects going (I’ve got three projects with committed artists—I’m tempted to name them, but will wait until things are more firm).

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New job, Orlando musings

Well, it’s official. I have been offered—and have accepted—a faculty position at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. I will be teaching in the Creative Writing for Entertainment Master’s Program there. The fine line details have yet to be worked out, but needless to say, I’m very excited about it. For the time being, I will commute from my home in Oxford…yes, I did say “commute.” And this out-of-the-box idea was suggested by my future boss. Have I said how cool this program is?

So I don’t know how I can write the next paragraph or two without it sounding like a sales pitch for Full Sail, but what I’m intending it to be is simply my observations of the campus. The FS campus is super-high-tech, for every program: film students get state of the art computers for editing and such, digital design students get same, music students have fully equipped recording studios not just for their school work, but for their personal use (same as for the backlot for film students). Every program has state of the art equipment related to their chosen career. It’s a pricey school…but the upside of that is that every student that is there WANTS to be there (unlike some of the English Composition classes I’ve taught).

So BJ and I got to spend some time in Orlando not just at Full Sail, but driving around the area. The first thing I noticed about Orlando is that the lights are long. I don’t mean the physical shape, but the time it takes to change from one color to the next. That, and they seem to be in love with Toll Roads here. Felt like every time we made a turn, some booth was asking for 50 cents or a dollar. One booth asked for exact change—I had not expected the booth, and so it made me wonder what would happen if I didn’t have exact change (I don’t normally carry change in my pocket—when I come home with it, I usually add it to the “vacation” fund!). Truthfully, I don’t know what would happen.

Orlando reminds me much of L.A., flat and spread out. No, it isn’t nearly as big, but everything seems low to the ground. On one stretch of road there (Semoran), there is a McDonald’s every mile or two. Seriously. There are more Micky D’s in a 10 mile stretch from the airport to the University than in the entire city of Oxford (though the ones in Oxford are horrible—avoid them at all costs!).

BJ and I also decided to go out to Universal one evening. Thought we’d grab a bite to eat and maybe see a movie. No theme park stuff or anything. It costs $15 just to PARK! Lady at the booth said I could stay for 20 minutes and it would only cost $3. So, I don’t remember Universal in California costing anything to park. Granted, that has been some years ago, but we used to go out every now and again to catch a movie, or to eat. I don’t remember it costing to park.

More later, I’m sure.

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Filed under General, Moving