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When Are My Comic Book Movies Coming?!?

Holy Grown-Up Kids, Batman!

There are a TON of comic book movies coming in the next few years, and my inner geek — who am I kidding, my geek is OUTER — is freaking out (in a good way).

Compiled these from the good people at ComicBook.com (specific links at the bottom of this post):

2015

May 1: The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The “leaked” trailer was/is awesome. Need to go watch it 50 more times. Looks SO COOL.

July 17: Ant-Man
Blah blah blah nobody knows who this is. Marvel has cracked the code, kids. Quality actors with good storylines and cool effects will sell tickets. (See: Guardians of the Galaxy making $800 MILLION.)

Aug. 7: Fantastic Four
Reboot for the sake of reboot? Changes for the sake of changes? I want to think this will be cool, but I’m a bit skeptical. I’d like to be surprised though.

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2016

Feb 12: Deadpool
This is the super-character Ryan Reynolds was born to play. (NOT Green Lantern.) Just wondering if they’ll tone down this wise-cracking, 4th-wall-breaking, definitely Rated-R-and-above character. (Check out the test footage here.)

March 25: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Geek Cred Redacted: I still haven’t seen Man of Steel. But it seems like DC is shoving almost all the Justice League characters in this alleged sequel in a rush to get their own big franchise movie out. Feels like a panic move. That being said, I’m pretty jazzed to see this take on the Batman and Wonder Woman characters.

May 6: Captain America 3: Civil War
Just watched the second one again and was wowed again. It will be hard to match those first two, but adding in the Civil War storyline kicks things up a notch.

May 27: X-Men: Apocalypse
Geek Cred Redacted, II: Still haven’t seen Days of Future Past, even though I heard great things. But if DOFP was as good as people say, and they get Tom Hardy to be Apocalypse, I will get in line for tickets.

July 8: Doctor Strange
My pal Patrick lobbied HARD, every day on FB and Twitter, to get Marvel to consider Matthew Modine for the role. But sadly for him, rumors are strong that Benedict Cumberbatch will get it. I think he’ll crush it and this will be f’n cool. (And I love the messed-up names people give him.)

Aug. 5: Suicide Squad
I’ve been so Marvel-centric, I barely remember who these guys are. I know that they’re on Arrow, something else I’ve missed and need to catch up on. Could be cool with the whole anti-hero thing.

Nov. 11: Sinister Six
Geek Cred Redacted, III: Haven’t seen The Amazing Spider-Man 1 or 2. And I’m not sure how a movie with 6 bad guys — who aren’t doing the anti-hero thing — and allegedly no real hero will work.

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2017

March 3: The Wolverine sequel
Geek Cred Redacted, IV: Didn’t see the first one, and the reviews were meh, so I can’t say I’m excited about this one. Although I do think Jackman is perfect as the character.

May 5: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Saw it. Loved it. Will own it. And there’s plenty of, ahem, space to explore with this team.

June 23: Wonder Woman
Bring on the strong women! (Said the father of two girls.) Will be cool to see the modern version of WW, wondering if she’ll have a “secret identity” or they just go with the whole Amazonian princess thing.

July 14: Fantastic Four 2
Must have some high hopes for the reboot if they’re confidently planning a sequel.

July 28: Thor: Ragnarok
The end of everything? Guess it won’t quite be that, since there are other movies below this on the schedule. Unlike many geeks, I like the Thor movies. Maybe not as much as the others, but I’m a fan. Wonder if they bring in the female Thor in this one (or after)?

November 3: Black Panther
This one has me more excited than most. I think it’s a really cool character and story, and Chadwick Boseman looks perfect for the role. Heck, he’s done Jackie Robinson and James Brown. Psyched to see what he does with King T’Challa.

Nov. 17: Justice League
If done well, this could be one of the greatest things ever. Please don’t mess this up, DC.

??: Venom, Rumored Female-Led Spider-Verse Movie
Venom? Maybe the Flash Thompson-wanna-be-a-good-guy version. Silk or Spider-Woman? Could be cool.

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2018

March 23: The Flash
Easily the greatest superhero who can fit his whole costume inside a ring. But I don’t understand why they wouldn’t use the Flash from the TV show, which is getting great reviews and ratings. Feels like they’re trying to NOT be Marvel (using the “Agents of SHIELD” TV show in conjunction with the movies).

May 4: The Avengers: Infinity War, Part One
Joss Whedon, do your worst. (Or best. You know what I mean.) An alien with one shiny glove and unlimited power? Is that Thanos or Michael Jackson? #toosoon?

July 6: Captain Marvel
It is about. Damn. Time. A cool and powerful female superhero. Every blonde actress (or lady with another hair color who’s willing to go blonde) in Hollywood should have their agent on the case. I can see this being a great origin story, I just hope they don’t muck it up with a superhero dude. Let her kick some ass on her own.

July 13: Untitled Fox/Marvel Movie
Man, who owns what characters anymore? Oh, a helpful link. So this will be Fantastic Four, X-Men or some kind of spinoff.

July 27: Aquaman
He’s got a bad rap, the orange-shirted water-dweller. If they do a storyline like this animated feature, I can see it being good.

November 2: Inhumans
They’ll never be successful with a movie about a team of cosmic heroes. Just look at Guardians of…oh, wait. Actually, these folks have some cool powers, plus potential crossovers/connections with Agents of SHIELD, Guardians and even Avengers. (Quicksilver marries an Inhuman in the comics.)

?? – The Amazing Spider-Man 3
OK, already admitted I haven’t seen TASM 1 or 2. So I can’t say I’m psyched for a 3rd. I really should go watch these.

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2019

April 5: Shazam
Kinda glad that The Rock will be Black Adam. I think he’ll be great in that role. But I’m worried over who they will cast in the titular role…and also if they’ll stick to the “little boy says SHAZAM! and transforms into a big superhero” story.

May 3: The Avengers: Infinity War, Part Two
After this, I’m thinking Joss Whedon takes a long vacation. Because he will have expended much of his genius in wrapping up this saga and blowing my 46-year-old mind. #old

June 14: Justice League 2

Hoping.
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2020
April 3: Cyborg
Great potential with this origin story. Of course, we may all BE cyborgs in 2020, so it might be kind of blah.

June 19: Green Lantern
Wonder if DC will learn from its mistakes from the first time around. And if we’ll see another origin story here. And if anyone can top Mark Strong’s Sinestro.
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As the kids say, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!”

Celebrating My 25th Anniversary With @HowardStern

I was 16 when I first heard those dulcet tones, talking about sex and farting and celebrities and how much better Howard Stern was than all the Morning Zoo DJs he was going to send to the unemployment office.

And for the last three months of my junior year of high school, Howard Stern helped me survive excruciating pain, probable depression and definite loneliness.

If you’ve never woken up in agony, I don’t recommend it. I was in the throes of what would be misdiagnosed several times, but the upshot is that I had severe pain in my legs — it felt like they were in an ever-tightening vise if I sat up with them hanging over the side of the bed or a chair.

So I’d wake up, take my pre-laid-out medication with warm water that had sat by my bed all night, and turn on the neurotic New York nuttiness that was the Howard Stern Show.

And with his cadre of kooky characters — Boy Gary with his teeth, Frightening Fred Norris, Jackie The Jokeman, Stuttering John, and the “voice of reason” Robin Quivers — they took my mind off of my problems and pain.

The legend.

The legend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty-five years later, there he was again. Driving to work, in desperate need of a laugh, I flipped on Howard 100 (thanks SiriusXM).

The next 15 minutes of my commute were an escape.

—  Howard was talking about something as ordinary as his cat Yoda.

—  And then Mariann from Brooklyn called in, with her “nails on your spinal cord” voice.

—  And then the news, intro’d with a song parody of Jay Z’sEmpire State of Mind” that sang the praises of Robin’s breasts.

—  And then somehow, the subject turned to a Wack Packer-type named “Tabboo” from the mid-’90s, who was memorable for his/her song?/rap? called “It’s Natural” in a voice that haunts my dreams.

—  And then the always-reliable Fred cueing up the song right away.

—  And then Robin steers back to the news, and Howard riffing on it.

(I always told people who said they didn’t like Howard to listen during the news — that they’d see him for what he is — an  insightful, observational comic, a brilliant interviewer and basically a fucking genius.)

—  And then he did a live read of an ad with the same voice I remember, lying in my teenage bedroom with the Kathy Ireland Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar posters. The voice that started my day with celebrities, boobs, ratings battles, fart sounds and laughs — and helped me to survive all that I was going through — back in 1986, and today in 2014.

**********

Thanks @HowardStern. You’ll probably never read this, and I know there are thousands of stories just like mine.

Just keep doing what you do as long as you can.

And Baba Booey to you all.

You Laughed at a Dead Man

Yeah, let’s laugh at and deride Philip Seymour Hoffman.

For some of you, he’s just another disposable celebrity who couldn’t handle his addiction and ended up dead because of it.

After all, he was just one of 23 MILLION AMERICANS addicted to alcohol and drugs.
(Multiple sources confirm that approximate number. Don’t believe me? Google it.)

Oh, and only 11% of those struggling with addiction seek and receive treatment.

So laugh it up if you must. Or spout off with these old chestnuts of ignorance:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

“He should have just gone to rehab.”

He did.

And like more than half of people who go to rehab (also confirmed by multiple online sources), he relapsed.

He knew he had a problem. He had the resources to fight it. He worked at it and got clean.

And it still got the best of him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
“He had kids.”

And you think he didn’t love them as much as you love yours?

Does that maybe give you an inkling of how powerful an addiction can be?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
“Where were his family, friends, agents, entourage?”

I’m sure they gave as much love and support as they could.

What more could they do? Handcuff themselves to him 24/7?

Nobody can just “fix” another person or cure them of an addiction. It’s a lifelong battle.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
“All he needed was to toughen up and find some willpower.”

He had every reason to quit and every reason to live.

A partner and kids. A wonderful career with awards and respect.

And his addiction overpowered all of that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

Until we as a nation wake up and understand that our views on addiction and mental health issues are incredibly ignorant and just plain wrong, sad deaths like this will continue to happen.

To bring it home for you, imagine the 100 people in your family and close circle of friends.

Statistically, 7 of them are addicts. (317 million Americans, 23 million addicts = about 7%.)

If any of them die too early, I wonder if you’ll laugh at them as easily as you did at some celebrity.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

I’m not saying you have to mourn Philip Seymour Hoffman and rip your clothes and cry your eyes out.

But it is too much ask to show a little empathy for another human being?

Someone struggling with demons that we may be lucky enough to NOT understand?

Are we that cold, callous and unfeeling?

I sure hope not.

 

I do this every day.

I do this every day.

Examine The Area for bumps, openness, bleeding, dryness, red/purple/black discoloration.
I’m 16. I cannot sit with my legs over the side of the bed, as the rush of blood causes tremendous pain. I miss the last three months of my junior year. It’s all because of a few small purple wounds on my lower legs. My first run of Prednisone, which is a miracle drug that masks the pain and symptoms but is not a cure. I do experience many of the side effects of large doses of Prednisone, but I suppose they’re more tolerable than the pain.

I miss the baseball season, Junior Prom, and my grades sink even though I tried to keep up.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I do this every day.

Determine if topical treatment is necessary.
I’m 19. Riding the bench for a Division III baseball team. But I’m in Cocoa, Florida, enjoying our annual spring break trip that includes ten games in seven days. The pain starts in my legs again. Heavy. Dull. Aching. Walking is hard, much less playing ball. A couple small purple wounds. My doctor sends me Prednisone via overnight shipping. A few months on it, and eventually it doesn’t hurt with every single step I take, walking from the furthest house on campus to my classes. Things get back to normal. In the deepest parts of my brain, I know my baseball days are done.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I do this every day.

If necessary, apply topical treatment.
I’m 25. On a trip to my brother’s grad school graduation, my parents notice me caring for a giant purple scab on my left leg. (Looking back, I have no idea how I let it get that bad.) When we return home, I see my doctor — who refers me to the wound care department of a rehab/therapy facility. On my first visit, the specialist takes a look at my left leg (the outside part, mid-shin-high), puts on his latex gloves and grabs some kind of tweezers. I ask, “Uh, what are you doing?” He calmly replies that the scab has to come off.

He clips and tugs gently, and shockingly, the removal does not hurt. (I have a Polaroid of this actual moment, but I will spare you the visual. Unless you want to see it. Post in the Comments below if you’d like me to send you the photo.) Underneath the crusty purple scab is a half-inch-deep layer of what looks like wet pink goosebumps. He places a non-adhesive bandage on The Area (as I will refer to it now and forever) and wraps it with cling-roll bandages, followed by tape to hold the bandages on.

I am to return three times a week for hot whirlpool treatment, which sounds cool but is limited to my left leg below the knee. This is to debride (remove any bacteria, dirt, etc.) The Area and hopefully enable healing.

For several years, this kind of treatment — and many others — had varying degrees of success and failure in trying to heal The Area. Real skin graft. Artifical skin graft. My own plasma, spun in a centrifuge and frozen.

Some of The Area heals, breaking it into separate segments. But then it gets angry again, the segments join together and become one big nasty deep ulcer, which is finally diagnosed, properly, as pyoderma gangrenosum. (Google it only if you dare, yucky photos abound.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I do this every day.

Place bandage or gauze pad on The Area.
I’m somewhere between 25 and 30. (If you had all this in your head, you’d be fuzzy on dates too.)

A hacking winter cough leads to amoxicillin, which leads to a bad reaction, a fever, weakness and fatigue, and finally a hospital stay. The diagnosis is C. Difficile Colitis, seemingly brought on by the medication. While in the hospital, they test me and confirm that I also have Crohn’s colitis. And after trying a whirlpool treatment that had me literally screaming (you try putting your exposed nerve endings in swirling hot water), a surgical debridement is done. Because the pain of the surgery would be so great, they have to knock me out (and keep me going on morphine).

A few days later, I am quite possibly bending the metal bar on the side of my hospital bed as they attempt to remove the silver nitrate bandage that has protected The Area since the surgery. This is horror-movie-level pain. When I am finally released from the hospital, I am on 80mg of Prednisone a day (which will take about a year to slowly wean off of), as well as Oxycontin and a couple immunosuppressive drugs.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I do this every day.

Apply three long strips of tape that extend beyond bandage to adhere to leg.
I’m 31. I’ve met a woman who could be The One. She’s gorgeous, she’s fun, she’s smart, and she challenges me. And somehow, I have to share all this with her without scaring her off.

“Hey, so we’re really getting along well here, and I need to let you know that I have two rare and chronic diseases, and there’s a giant ugly hole in my leg. Do you want to get an appetizer?”

(The above is NOT how it went. I honestly don’t remember. I do know I had enough sense not to have that discussion on the first date or before a meal.)

Regardless, she had to know what she was getting into. And I later found out that at first, it was difficult for her to handle — because my health issues could become very important in our shared future. Happily, she realized that my awesomeness (and humility) was worth any health issue we had to deal with. (Note: We’ve been married for 8 years now.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I do this every day.

Carefully pull compression sock over foot and then up leg to knee.
I’m 36. I’m tightly holding my wife’s hand in the operating room as our beautiful girls enter the world. It is the most surreal, wonderful, exhilarating experience of my life. And in the middle of it all, I wonder if these innocent little angels will have to deal with health issues like mine. I hope they don’t get any of my bad genes, only the good ones. Sadly, parents are pretty helpless in that department.

The girls were preemies, and both had 3-week NICU stays. You can read that story here, but suffice it to say that after a terrifying ordeal, the girls are healthy and amazing. I just want them to stay that way forever and ever. Is that too much to ask?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I do this every day.

Go about day as if everything is normal.
I’m 41 as I write this. That number blows me away. I vividly remember thinking “wow, I’ll be 27 in the year 2000.” Well, here we are, 14 years after THAT. I’ve got a nice bald spot going on top of my head, plus some serious gray/silver happening in the remnants of my once-semi-glorious head of hair. And that’s no big deal.

My health is under control, thanks mostly to my Remicade infusions every six weeks or so. It’s no big deal, I get an IV infusion and work on my laptop during the four-hour treatment. If that’s what’s keeping away new wounds or Crohn’s flares, then it’s a tiny price to pay.

But every day, I go through the steps written here in bold type. And let’s be clear about something — there are many people who have it worse than me. I know this, and have reminded myself of this fact for years. There are pyoderma patients with wounds that never heal, or break out in much worse places than the lower leg. And there are Crohn’s and IBD patients who require surgeries and removal of intestines and all kinds of other life-changing procedures.

I didn’t write this for pity. I wrote it I was pushed by a buddy (thanks, Matthew) who believes you’re either a creator or a consumer — and I wanted to focus on being that first one for a bit.

Above all, I wanted to share a part of my daily routine that very few people know about, and even fewer can relate to. Maybe I wanted to persuade the 17 of you who read this to be grateful if you have your health. It is truly a gift to be cherished.  And to remember that there is always someone who has it worse than you.

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I do this every day.

In Memoriam: Mark Marinelli, @MarkM625

(Note: I’m not sure that this blog post flows all that well. It’s been a rough week, and my reaction to the subject of this entry probably makes for crappy writing. Sorry about that.)
Today, I lost a friend I never met in person. But we had a lot in common.

Mark Marinelli was a year younger than me (he was 39).
He was a resident of Bethlehem, PA (where I lived and worked for several years).
He lived with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, which robbed him of the ability to walk at 15.
(My pyoderma gangrenosum flared for the first time at 16 — but I was lucky. After three months of incredible pain, I was eventually able to walk normally. Despite several flares and giant ulcers on my left leg, I’ve been mostly fine with walking since then.)
Clearly, my disease was/is nowhere near as bad as Mark’s.

In fact, he wasn’t supposed to live to see 19. It’s a testament to his strength of will and character that he more than doubled the doctor’s expectations.

*******************

The biggest common bond we had was the Philadelphia Phillies — whom we both rooted for and often discussed on Twitter. (It is worth noting that the Phillies are the losingest franchise in the entirety of sports history, with more than 10,000 losses on record.)

As men born in the early 1970s, we each lived through a wildly up-and-down period in Phillies history:

* 1980 = The Phillies’ dominant run atop the National League East in the late ’70s culminated in the 1980 World Series championship.
* 1983 = The “Wheeze Kids” included a bunch of, um, “not young” players that went to the Series again but lost.
* 1993 = Somehow, the 1993 squad of dirtballs, tramps and thieves scratched its way to the Series again — but heartache came in the form of Joe Carter.
* 2008 = Another dominant run in the East led to another World Series title.

In between those four highlight years, there was a lot of mediocrity and a bunch of lousy players.

And unfortunately, it’s pretty likely that the Phils’ “window of opportunity” is closing, as the stars of 2008 are mostly fading as they get older.

*******************

When it came to his health, Mark had a strength and spirit that we can all aspire to. Naturally, he had dark times and went through periods of doubt and depression. But I will always remember his “presence” on Twitter — smart, witty and always ready with a joke or insight.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how much you plan — life WILL throw you a steady diet of 12-6 curveballs. What’s important is how you deal with them.

At bat, a good hitter recognizes that a curveball is coming and in a nanosecond, alters his swing and hits the ball to the “opposite field.”

In life, a person who handles adversity with dignity and humor is someone to be admired and respected. That’s what Mark was to me, even though we never hung out live and in person.

I admired and respected Mark Marinelli, and I will carry inspiration from him for the rest of my life.

#RIPMark

Mark’s blog: http://icantwalk.com/

#Advertising — #BirthdayCoupons Update

It’s Tuesday, January 8 — five days until my birthday on January 13.

Let’s tally up the birthday email coupons I’ve received thus far:

  • Palio’s Pizza Cafe
    buy one large specialty pizza, get one FREE medium pizza with one topping; expires 1/31
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
    free medium coffee, latte, tea, Coolatta® or hot chocolate; have to wait for actual coupon in snail mail (will arrive “by the end of the month”)
  • Which Wich
    free regular Wich; expires 1/20 (valid only at Uptown location near my office)
  • Baskin Robbins
    —one free 2.5oz scoop or one 3oz soft serve swirl; expires 1/18