Wednesday, October 2, 2019

My FenCon Toastmasters Speech

From FenCon's Facebook Feed. It's Finn at the Finish!

Several of my non-geeky friends have asked me what a Toastmaster does at a convention, and moreover, why I got to be one. I told them that it was a mainly ceremonial position, part greeter, part genial host, and ideally someone with a bit of verve and aplomb. When I get to that part about verve, they all go, "Ooh, okay, now it makes sense."

They have also asked me if I have to make a toast. I then tell them that it's not a toast, but rather some toast. They don't get that joke, and I've stopped trying to explain it to them. But they are curious as to what kind of speech I gave.

So, for those that didn't make it this year, here's what I said, more or less.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Ongoing and Updated Top 5 Horror Movies Master List

This has become something of an October tradition around here at the North Texas Apocalypse Bunker.  And the lists are all spread out over the blog and it's hard for me to link them and for you to track them.

That's why I'm making an evergreen list, and I'll add to it each year. This is current up to 2019, and as new lists are created, they will find their way here, too. That means if you want to bookmark this post, it'll serve you well and you can jump on and off without losing your place.

Finally, know this: I will be updating these lists until I don't. As new movies come out, it may change the rankings of the other films. I may have an epiphany and change my mind about something. When I do, those updates will be made on the appropriate lists and I may not think to mention it.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cancer: Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush...

One of our friends thought I was wearing a
tuxedo shirt. It was funny at the time, but
now I want a tuxedo shirt. She was right:
it is a "me" thing to own.
Cathy started chemo. Again. New drugs, more powerful (and more dangerous) than the other ones she was taking. Side effects? You betcha. Plus possible health complications, too. And all of this done with fingers crossed, because while this is the Standard of Care, it's a crap shoot. I mean, we thought we had it licked the first time, right?

The fact that the cancer came back so fast is what makes this a serious situation. Hence the stronger drugs. Also, we only have to wait two months before they do a C.T. scan to see how the tumors are responding to the chemotherapy. If there's shrinkage, we will plow ahead. If there's no shrinkage, or worse, spreading, well, that's a different conversation. One I'm not willing nor ready to have just yet.

Things are still cautiously optimistic. There is no surgical plans at this time. There's other stuff available, including clinical trials that have shown "remarkable results" according to the doctor. Staying upbeat, staying positive, has been one of the most exhausting things I've done in a while.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Hey, Toxic Fans! Get Off My Lawn!

I've had it with these fair-weather Johnny-Come-Lately 4Chan Troglodytes and their mouth-breathing screeds that get slurped up by every nearly-news outlet and then sent back out into the aether to clog up my feed, pushing the puppy pics and the food selfies out of Facebook's algorithm. Knock it off, you assholes.

Of course, I'm speaking about the latest Teapot Tempest: the She-Hulk announcement that Disney made over the weekend. Oh, there was also an announcement about a Moon Knight show, but none of the Innsmouth-Tainted Stumblebums of Twitter are talking about that, nosireebob. It's all about the She-Hulk show, and how Disney is RUINING the world with its Feminist Agenda by turning the Hulk into a woman just to appease the Femi-nazis and the democrats, all of whom only want to kill babies and steal money from hard working Americans, and by the way, Trump rules and you suck, and oh yeah, Marvel isn't ever getting another penny from me.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Cancer: Well, Shit.

It's back.

Talk about counting some chickens. I had always thought I might have to deliver the bad news again; after all, Cathy's cancer of choice was particularly pernicious and there was a high chance of recurrence. But after she responded so well to the chemo and the surgery was so positive, I thought--we thought--we'd have a year or two before we had to worry about this again.

We sure as hell didn't think the down time would be three months. Not even an "All-Clear" to the end of the year? Come on, Cancer. I know you're an asshole, but do you have to be such a fucking asshole?

Here's what we know: because of the quickness with which the cancer has returned, it means that Cathy has developed an immunity to her chemo drugs, so we are going on to treatment option number two: different chemo drugs, with side effects that are a cause of concern. Specifically, blood clots, which are already a problem for Cathy to begin with.

This is a six month treatment. Not sure what that will fully entail, but she's going to start the week after next. And just like that, we are back in the barrel.

In an effort to provide balance to this shitty update, I have two pieces of news that may offset some of the existential dread I feel right now.

Numero Uno: Since we caught this new cancer (still in the lining between her organs) inside of three months, it's much smaller and so hopefully we won't have to deal with any surgery.

Numero Two-oh: My edema continues to shrink and has in fact reduced size and density by two thirds. It's still deformed looking and horrible, but it's a much smaller horribleness.

I'll put more up when I know more. This week we have two different tests to determine if there are going to be any complications with the treatment. I've also updated the GoFundMe account, as we are already getting static from the insurance company.

Well, those three months where Cathy was okay and I was getting my mojo back were pretty swell while they lasted. Looks like I'll be seeing everyone on the other side of 2020.

Friday, June 7, 2019

I'm Updating My Terms of Service

Since this whole Game of Thrones thing really pushed Questionable Internet Behavior into the limelight, there have been a rash of petitions, admonishments, snarky commentary from media outlets, and the shaming of the shamers who have shamed the anti-shamers by shaming the shamed, who frankly, should be ashamed. It's been a tire fire, combined with a train wreck, and it is now hopping to each next new thing, in order to be replayed from the top, a playlist full of regretful choices.

Can we blame the media for picking up on it, really? The last time we saw a bootlegger reverse this spectacular was in Smokey and the Bandit: one minute, everyone is bursting with joy at the start of the final season, and then just as quickly, there was blood in the water and sharks all around.

Nevertheless, I've been wrestling with my part in this, small as it is, and how I tend to spend a lot of my digital time discussing what I liked and didn't like about stuff. It's been an up and down enterprise, especially since I'm not known for my brevity. I would rather err on the side of writing too much than not saying enough and having myself misconstrued.

Right now, the online push is coming from the group that wants people to be left alone to enjoy things uncritically. Fans. Any commentary is being pounced upon and worried to an uncomfortable silence. Usually it's because someone started an online petition or an online boycott campaign. There's been a lot of that going around, too, but that's another topic for another time.

I thought that for some of you who don't know me personally, and don't hear my voice when you read my posts, it would be a great opportunity to revisit and update my terms of service agreement for you, the consumer of said posts. These changes go into effect immediately. You pushing these words into your eye holes constitutes tacit acceptance, so neener neener.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

So, You Want to Be the Voice of Your Generation…

Dear Mr./Miss [YOUR NAME HERE]

Congratulations! You have made a wise decision, no doubt after much consideration and with no malice aforethought. You want to be a representative of your generation on The Internet. Good for you!

In today’s hyper-realized mega-culture, too many voices constantly clamor for our attention, leaving us numb to any sort of reasoned thoughts that might exist in the aether, and often incapable of recognizing those thoughts when we stumble across them.

This is where YOU come in. Yes, you! Are you not chock-full of the attributes that constitute your arbitrarily and narrowly defined “generation?” That makes you the perfect person to step out of the crowd and make your voice heard over the din! Be an “influencer!” A “taste-maker!” Why, if you play your cards right, you might one day become “an Internet Sensation!”

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But, hold on there, Eager Beaver. Before you go running off, nilly-willy, and start banging on your keyboard like a belligerent grotesque, there are a few things you’ll need to know in order to be the best, most intensely saturated version of your digital self that you can be. These simple principles will ensure that you appeal to the broadest possible swath of humanity, who are most often going to experience you in their worse possible state of mind, such as sitting on the toilet, or waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Monday, May 20, 2019


We got the news last week and we've been sitting on it, because, well, we're still processing it, but the doctor has officially pronounced Cathy In Remission. This mean that she is currently cancer-free. It does not mean we are off the hook. The next year to two years will be regular blood labs and follow-up appointments. Type 3 Ovarian cancer has a middling-high chance of recurrence, though that is mitigated by a number of factors, including how well the patient responded to chemotherapy. Cathy responded very well to the chemo, so well, in fact, that in the event of a recurrence, chemotherapy as an option is still on the table.

These are all good things, and we are grateful in our profound relief, exhausted in our awareness of how lucky we got. Right now, Cathy is focusing on getting back on her feet. There's something about aggressive cancer treatment, surgery, and pneumonia that really takes it out of a person, you know?

I'm healing, too. Slowly. Oh. So. Slooooooowly. But I am healing.

We are currently bracing for bad weather and trying to figure out what the rest of our life looks like. For now, the good news is enough.

Thanks for taking this journey with us. You are a big part of the reason why we got through it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Five Things That Are Ruining Movies

1. The misuse and over-application of the word “trope.”
2. The misuse and over-application of the concept of a “plot hole.”
3. Deeply unqualified people telling me why the movie sucked.
4. Catastrophically angry people excoriating directors, producers, and writers for not doing enough.
5. Eagle-eyed detail-oriented people ticking off all of the mistakes a movie made, implying that the film would otherwise be a cinematic gem if X hadn’t gotten in the shot or if the scrambled eggs didn’t stop moving around on the plate in that one scene.

There’s an old saying that Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth. Well, movies are a collaborative effort between the actors and around seventy or eighty cooks. Mistakes get made. Movies aren’t a perfect story-telling medium and never have been. What they can do, they do very well, and more effortlessly than ever these days, thanks to ginormous budgets and super sophisticated computers. But “perfect” or “nearly perfect” movies are so rare, and I can’t think of a single one made after 2001.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Health Update: A Mixed Bag of Nuts

I'm sorry it's been a while since I let you nice people know what's going on in our Saga of Middle-Aged Wellness. It's kind of been a "no news is good news" sort of thing, wherein Cathy was back on chemotherapy, and it was doing a number on her, but it wasn't anything we hadn't dealt with before--just maybe a little more severe, but we were really close to being done with it, so let's just power through to the end and celebrate, right?

Right. Well, sure, if that were all that was going on.

Cathy finished her chemotherapy last week. It was awesome, in that it was a real relief to be out of those woods, but unfortunately, she was too weak to even celebrate properly. However, we did ring the bell at the treatment center. It's a rite of passage, not unlike when you leave Long John Silver's and you're pretty sure you didn't get a food-borne parasite from eating at LJS. Only this is better because you didn't have to eat at LJS to ring the bell.

Next week, Cathy gets a CT scan, and if it's clear, then we are officially Done With Treatment and go into maintenance mode. This means getting blood work done every three months, for at least one or two years. They are very vigilant because of the change of a re-occurrence. Aside from that, we get to go rejoin the adult world.

Or so we thought.