My friend

Today marks 6 years since my friend passed away.

I spent two of those believing it was just an accident, that while living in NYC, someone pushed him in front of the metro at 3 in the morning. 

When I found out it was suicide, he died all over again.

I don’t want to get overly personal, because I still have trouble talking about it personally and I want to respect his family too.

I don’t always remember his day of death. Sometimes it just passes by but this time, I’ve been thinking about him a lot.

I think about his note, written inside a little notebook along with some musings, stories and drawings. It was the last entry. It said to the effect of, I was hoping for a miracle, but it wasn’t enough.” It’s based off the line from Bloc Party’s song Helicopter. We used to play that song on Guitar Hero all the time.

My interpretation of his suicide changes over time, sometimes minute by minute, but from that note… He just gave up. For whatever reason he was tired. He didn’t want to try anymore.

I feel bad. He was dealing with some serious demons. I used to feel that it was my fault, that I didn’t help him enough or wasn’t a good enough friend and in a way, pushed him in front of that metro train. Or that we all failed, friends and family.

Ultimately, it was his choice. 

I don’t believe he went straight to hell. God judges what’s on the inside and someone who kills themself is not in their right mind. God takes all thing into account.

I’m sure his in the afterlife regretting his decision. He’s made me and his family and other friends very sad, depressed, and question the purpose of life. I used to wonder if there was any point in carrying on.

I used to feel bad making friends with other guys, like I was replacing him or insulting his memory.

One time at a little memorial with friends and family of the recently deceased. I shared a memory and at one point said, “he was my best friend.” Someone corrected me and said, “is! He is your best friend.”

I continued because everyone was watching and listening to me and I didn’t want to argue but, be it rude, or an insult to his memory, he was my best friend.

Putting it in the past, as a memory of what once was, helps me cope. I wish he was here to meet my wife, play Pokemon Go and just talk to, but he is not. And he is not coming back. Whether I’ll see him in a life after this, that’s personal belief. I believe I will, but as far as mortal life goes, I will never see him again.

It brings me closure. I will always remember him but I can no longer be held down by it. I must cut the chain to the anchor and sail on. I’ll always remember that spot, it’s marked on my map forever, but there are other seas and oceans to explore.

His death has not set my life off of a normal, happy course. Life is still good.

Lord of the Rings

I just finished reading the classic books, The Lord of the Rings. What can I say about them? Just my opinion. If you don’t agree, that’s okay. Fantasy novelist and essayist Michael Moorcock didn’t like the trilogy as explained his his work “Epic Pooh” and this article from the New Yorker.

And that’s okay. I still like it.

Then

I first stumbled across the Lord of the Rings when I saw the cartoon movie of The Hobbit. It looked goofy and outdated but I was intrigued. My dad said it was a really great story.

We read The Hobbit together as a family and I loved it. I liked Bilbo’s magic ring, how they journied across the land. Gandalf was this cool wizard and they fought a dragon, spiders and goblins.

It was around the time the movies were announced that I started reading The Lord of the Rings. It was tough. The books were long and slow with lots of dialogue, backstory and history. I couldn’t believe they talked about Frodo’s family tree for so long. I mean why?!

I was about 13 when the Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring came out December 2001.

(Can you believe that was 15 years ago!)

Anyway, the trilogy of film adaptations caught my attention. They engaged my inagination. I liked how they traveled across these awesome environments, how do much trouble was caused by a small ring, how it curropted Gollum, how Aragorn rose to his roll as King of Gondor. 

The battles were full of sick fantasy violence. They fought goblins and orcs and Uruk-hai and wolves and a flipping Balrog. 

The books just didn’t do it for me. The movies were action packed, suspensful and thrilling.

The book was a snooze-fest and I couldn’t handle it.

Now

Fast-forward 14 years or so and I decided to read the books. I went in with the attitude of, take your time. Don’t rush it. If it gets slow, just embrace it and understand it’s in there for a reason and find that reason. Let’s do this.

The books are better than the movies (duh) because, while I thought the movies were more action packed, mosuspensefulre  and more thrilling, the books, in reality, are more so.

Difference

The Lord of the Rings created an entire universe. There was a history, with events and these are explained throughout the novels, the appendix and othrr works. 

Despite such a large world, the books are about the people. The struggles I felt for the characters was magnified in the books.

For example, in the movies Gollum feels betrayed and decides to take the Hobbits to Shelob’s Lair where she can eat them and he’ll take the Ring.

In the books, Gollum was planning their demise from the beginning. Despite many warnings, from Faramir and their own common sense, Frodo decides there is no other way. We see his desperate predicament. We see his self-sacrifice, that this quest may kill him before being accomplished and his determination to find a way.

We see in the movies they cross the desolate Mordor. They are dying. They are dirty, clothes tattere. They no longer carry gear because they are too weak to and they abandon hope in a return journey home. Their lips are cracked and mouths dry. You see their desperation. They seem to arrive quickly, as there is no indication from the movie how much time has passed.

In the book we see Frodo and San cross Mordor. We see through an episode here and short bit here just how tired, weak, yet determined they are. And at the same time the futility of their quest. It takes them more than a week to cross the fiery plains. They desperately look for water. They fall asleep and one stays up to watch guard, yet falls alseep too. They are going to die and hopefully they can destroy the Ring before they do.

Tolkien created a setting. It takes forever, hundreds of pages, explanations, dialougues, scenes but he creates a setting. It takes patience like planting and growing a plant. But because he takes his time, the harvest is even greater.

I could go on with many examples but the one thing that bothers me about the movies is the ending. 

I knew early on, in the books, that Saruman escaped and scourged the Shire, destroying their home and enslaving the Hobbits. Before reading the books, I liked the movie ending. I felt for Frodo who, after such an adventure, couldn’t fall back into normal life and so he leaves.

I assumed the book didn’t touch on that subject. How could it? I thought. Frodo saves the Shire and is a hero! There is no normal life for him.

Going back to the planting and harvesting metaphor, it’s repeated again and again that they are doing this to protect their home, the Shire. Even though they will probably die in the process knowing that the Shire is okay, that goodness exists there, or will, makes all the suffering okay.

Saruman, after losing his powers goes straight for what those Hobbits held most dear. If all the plans and designs of Sauron, none were more devious, malicious or hurtful to the Hobbits than what Saruman did. 

The ending of the books shows how the Hobbits had changed. They rallied the other Hobbits to fight, to not be complacent but to fight for what is right, with honor and courage.

After it all, Frodo still feels like he can’t live a normal life. The wound he sustained from the Ring Wraith’s sword still hurts. The wound serves as a metaphor, it could have been anything or not present at all, but it represents the torments that Frodo sustains inside, emotionally and mentally from his tramatizing journey. He also comments on how the Ring was a part of him and now the Ring is gone and there is a gap inside and nothing can fill it.

Conclusion

The movie is a summary or a spark notes version of the books. I still understood Boromir’s story how he was seduced by the Rings power but redeemed himself by protecting Merry and Pippin. The movies portray that only Frodo can destroy the Ring and it is quest, no one else’s.

However, the books provide the real meat, to really understand the characters and their motives.

Upcoming

I’m my upcoming three posts, over the course of a week to two weeks, I will be talking about books. Three books– actually five books.

First, I finally finished The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I tried to read them as a kid, and I failed miserably. Here I am, fourteen years later, and I finally read them. I just want make a single post about some thoughts I had about the book.

Next, is 30-day Author, by Kevin Tumlinson. Tumlinson talks about the challenges that authors face when trying to write and how feasible it is to write a book in 30 days (or less).

Lastly, is Jeff Gerke’s, The First 50 Pages. This book talks about the craft of writing and what needs to be done within the first fifty pages to impress editors, publishers and readers.

Am I talking about The Lord of the Rings and these two author books because I think I can be the next Tolkien? No. I don’t think Tolkien knew he’d be famous or that his book would launch the fantasy genre. He just had a story to tell.

I have a story to tell too. Maybe 200 million copies will be bought worldwide. Or maybe not. I read these author books because I want to portray my story in the best way possible. 

And if people like it, that’s just a bonus.

Unpredictable

Since returning from vacation with my wife, I have had a burst of motivation, energy, enthusiasm and good vibes. I have felt that my dreams and goals are, in fact, attainable. The fear of not being able, or good enough, to handle unpredictable circumstances along the road to success and been a driving factor in my life.

Anxiety

This past week, I was ready to do it all. I was working Monday and Tuesday, and my wife and I had Wednesday off.

Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep. I was worried about the rest of my week. Wednesday I had to wake up for an oil change at 7 am. Then drive an hour and a half to see my family at, what is called the Hill Cumorah Pageant (Mormon alert!), then drive home arriving home at probably 11.

Thursday, I was working two hours overtime, then hanging out with a friend in the evening, while my wife hung out with her friend. 

Friday, I was working more overtime, as was my wife and then we were hanging out with mutual friends that we’ve never gone out with before and then I wanted to go to the Magic the Gathering pre-release at midnight (nerd alert!). I’d get home at 4 am and then work from home at 8:30 am Saturday. 

Continuing Saturday, I’d finish work at 5pm then head out to Hill Cumorah Pageant, again, with family this time.

Then, Sunday church service, bright and early at 8:15am (for meetings) and we probably wouldn’t get home until 2pm.

The tl;dr

I was stressed about all the stuff coming up in the week.

What happened

I wanted to do all these activities, the work and the play. I wanted to prove that I wasn’t afraid, that I was able to make my goals happen. And all those activities was what I wanted.

What I most feared was the unpredictable. What if something happened that I was inept, unable, too stupid and, most importantly, too socially awkward to overcome or handle.

I was freaking out though. I couldn’t sleep at all. My wife told me not to worry about the oil change, it’ll be fine until next week. I thought about it, weighed the pros and cons and relented. I felt better sleeping in.

The week did not go as planned. My dad was hospitalized with diverticulitis, but he’s okay, now. The hangout Friday was so fun that I missed the midnight pre-release. I won’t be going to church Sunday because my family needs help, with my dad sick and all.

And it’s okay! I still had fun, I wish I got the car oil changed but it’s not that big a deal. 

It’s not that serious.

Unpredictable

I once heard, “a good plan is a plan that can change.” I like to plan but there are obstacles down the road that we can’t see until we start walking. We just have to trust ourselves, not listen to our irrational fears and embrace the unpredictable future. 

href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unpredictable/”>Unpredictable

Thomas Rowley is an aspiring author, but worries too much about the unpredictable future. This is his first time doing a daily word prompt. Who knows how it will go.

POKEMON GO!!

POKEMON GO!!

You know what’s big right now? Nostalgia factor. At least with my demographic of late 20 something’s and early 30’s. Make something from our childhood and we go crazy, whether it’s a game, movie, tv show or merch.

Pokemon Go does just that. And it’s for the one game system that everyone has. That’s right, a smart phone. It’s free too. This just gets better and better

I think I’m the only one that finds this funny. Made by yours truly when I was bored.

The unfolding game

Pokemon Go should be treated as an unfolding game. That’s the kind of game where not everything is explained at the beginning because a big part of the game is discovering how it works, the mechanics, yourself.

Pokemon gives you a brief description and then let’s you go. Having to discover the mechanics on your own builds the sense of adventure. It also allows players to collaborate. I’ve talked with so many people about leveling up, eggs, catching Pokemon, battles and gyms. It really builds a sense of community.

If you need more examples of unfolding games, play A Dark Night. Probably available at your app store for free.

Literally my highest leveled Pokemon. Even a 12 year old could beat me.

Technology

It’s crazy to think that this game couldn’t have come out at any time previous than now. I mean, it uses Google Maps, GPS location and the fact that most everyone readily has access to both via handy pocket devices.

Games (and many more things) are limited by the available technologies. Or enhanced. Pokemon Go takes advantage of modern technology and creates a game, using these technologies as core game mechanics. 

It’s like, if all you had was a stick, then you’d make games involving a stick, creating plots and mechanics, that al revolve around a stick. (A stick is in the Toy Hall of Fame fyi).

It’s opened a new genre, Augmented Reality, or AR. 

Nintendo has often tried new technologies in their games. I remember Kirby’s Tilt and Tumble, the introduction of touch screens on the DS and WiFi playing, replacing cords. I remember the Wii broke ground with motion controls and I dare say the GameBoy was the first handheld game system. It makes sense that Nintendo would try something daring and new.

Playing in the boonies sucks. Look at all the NOTHING.

Predictions
I think we’ll see more AR games. People will see the success and make, or maybe even improve, on the mechanics of real-life locations.

But what will happen to Pokemon Go? Will it fade away like Clash Royale? Just get boring with the same old, same old?

I think there’s a balance of unfolding that keeps our attention. I played Ingress for a bit and in like manner, it leaves you to discover. But Ingress was new to me and I had no familiar ground, from which to learn and discover. 

Pokemon Go, however, starts with the base of capturing, training and battling Pokemon. We have a foundation and from there we learn and expand and discover. The game unfolds.

So basically, Nintendo balances these aspects, the familiar with the unfamiliar to make an engaging and adventurous game, but not a frustrating or confusing one.

Despite a new genre taking advantage of new technologies, Nintendo reminds us that content is still always more important than any advancement in any technology.

Lastly, I hope there’s an update because this game has more bugs than Viridian Forest.

My favorite Pokemon. Magikarp could destroy us all with the flap of its fin, but it chooses not too.

Thomas Rowley started playing Pokemon in 6th grade with Pokemon Gold. He caved to peer pressure in high school and renounced Pokemon. He has since  then repented and plays Pokemon with no shame.

My awesome vacation

My awesome vacation

My wife and I went on vacation for a week.

As a good blogger, I probably should have updated while I was vacationing, not after. That, to me, is the biggest change I the internet since I was in high school. Back then, it was, “Hey! Look what I did!” Now, “Hey! Look what I’m doing.” Devices connected to the internet no matter where we go contributes a lot to this.

As a new blogger, I’m summarizing what I did and in the weeks to come, I’ll write posts reflecting on the trip. It’ll make more sense when it happens.

Anyway. Vacations are great. If you haven’t gone on one lately, you should.

What we did

We flew to Orlando to go to Universal Studios and, more specifically, see the new Harry Potter Diagon Ally. My wife is a big Potter fan and I am too, although she knows more than I do and has read the books about a dozen times. I’ve read the books twice.

The dragon is real… I mean it blows REAL fire.

Then we rented a car and drove from Orlando to Savannah, GA. We made a quick, impromtu stop at Saint Augustin to see the Castillo de San Martin. Did you know, Saint Augustin is the oldest city in our nation? It was founded by the Spanish and then, after a bunch of stuff, and a few centuries,the USA aquired it. I got my National Parks Passport stamped. :]

The Castillo de San Martin. Super old with lots of history.

Savannah is a small, charming, southern, port city. The buildings were pretty and we went to Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons. I tried shrimp and grits and a low-country boil and we went to Savannah’s Candy Shop. We saw a monument to John Wesley who started Methodism in Savannah. Cool right?

John Wesley, just starting a religion. No big deal.
The Talmadge Bridge over the Savannah river.
The Lady and Sons. On Congress St if you wanted to know.

We then drove to our nation’s capitol, Washington DC, the land of taxation without representation. They put that on their liscense plates, which, as I was kid, found odd. And still do.
We saw the sites, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, Congress and the White House. We went to the Smithsonian Museums. We went to the Air and Space, Native American, History of America and Natural History Museums. I think it’s great that these museums are in our capitol and are free. I think it shows that as a nation we value (or should value) life-long learning.

I personally really like the Washington Monument.
I found a chronometer at the Air and Space Museum. This handy device revolutionised sea travel back in the 1700’s.

I finally tried Max Brenners too. I LOVE chocolate so much that my wife says I’m more of a woman than she is.

A baked hot chocolate. A chocolate cake with peanut butter on the bottom, topped with chocolate, whipped cream and caramel.

We saw the IRS office. Poop-tards.
Then, we flew home.

The post-vacation 

…is usually depressing. After the “high” of vacationing going back to the grudge and routine is awful.

But not this time.

This time, I came home excited. I was ready to do better and work and devote more time to my aspirations as a writer (hence me writing this).

On vacation we didn’t relax much. Our mindset was that of, we only have a week, a have to do as much as we can. It’s why we were at universal studios for two days from 9am until 10pm. It’s why we drove 8 hours straight from Savannah to dc. Skipping sleep that night. It’s why we woke up automaticallyaround 7am everyday.

Bottom-line 

Life is great. We have to take advantage of it before it escapes. 

The London part of the “new” Harry Potter park.

Marvel’s New Super-villian: Donald Trump

Basically, it’s Donald Trump.

Okay, his villian name is M.O.D.A.A.K., Mental Organism Designed as America’s King, but his face is the same and he’s building a wall between Mexico and the USA. So who do you think it is?
He makes an appearance in Spider-Gwen Annual #1. It came out June 28th and when I heard about it, I had to buy a copy.

So $3.75 later and after half an hour of reading here’s what I have.

Background: feel free to skip 

For those of you wondering, Spider-Gwen is in another timeline of the Marvel Universe, where Gwen is bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter. The comic book is eccletic, jumping from one brief story to another, one about how Uncle Bill wasn’t shot, being saved by Gwen and another about the Koala Kommander.

Also, in this version of Earth, Earth 65, Steve Rogers was the artist behind the Captain America series. Samantha Wilson is Captain America and having read the comics, and recognizing them as her adventures confronts Steve.

Then comes Trump

Sam is perturbed about her life in a book and questions free will. While Steve is explaining how crazy the world is, but how fortunate the world is to have superheroes like herself, we see a Trump-like figure commanding “foreign filth” to build a wall between the USA and Mexico. As he says, “must make America-” Captain’s iconic shield bashes him in the forehead. Captain is there to stop, as Steve puts it, “enemies that look and think and act too much like the demons in my mirror.” As Captain hits more villains, Steve narrates, “this nation’s anger and greed and fear are still very real, Cap…but thank God, you are too.”

What do I think?

I think it’s funny. I mean, I’m not here to sway you to one candidate or not. I just think the idea of a Trump villain is hillarious.

Disagree with someone? Make them a villain in your story. It’s great!

Deeper than that though, at the beginning of this chapter, Captain America remembers how her father loved the bible. She rebelled and studied everything. She envies her father now because, “in the end it didn’t matter if dad’s beliefs were right or wrong. They gave him a world that makes sense.”

After Captain’s statement and how she starts fighting Trump and his minions, I think the story is about doing what you think is right. She envied her father’s stability in a world that is in a war of words, chaotic and insane, and, like her, all we can do is follow what we think is right.