OBLIGATORY YEAR-END POST: 2017 Edition

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header
xmas treeWell, well, well. Deep subject, I know. Here we are, yet again, with the end of yet another year. Blinked, and what was 2017 is closing down, making way for the mystery and suspense that 2018 will bring. So, let’s do a bit of year-in-review, shall we? Here goes…

I do have to say that, as a while, 2017 wasn’t too bad. That’s not to say that it didn’t come with its own set of challenges. What year doesn’t, really? But, comparative to the previous years, 2017 wasn’t so bad, personally.

The first big thing to happen in January was the removal of a cyst from my back; it was situated right between the shoulder blades, and was roughly the size of a large orange. Or a small grapefruit. Point is, this thing was large enough to press against my spine, and even sitting up straight was painful. I gave it the name Lloyd, because that’s what I do. I went in for outpatient surgery, and experienced everything due to requesting a local administered, rather than being induced. That was quite the experience, lying on my stomach, feeling what felt like a melonballer remove what was on my back. It was very cold in that operating room, let me tell you.

cyst removal prep

I also got this neat hat out of it…

It was also around the end of January when my knees started acting up constantly. But more on that in a bit.

uncle necro spooky-ish

BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!

Let’s see…there were no graduations or deaths to speak of this year. At least, ones that impacted me. Hey, this is my year end review and all. My sympathies if you’ve experienced loss this year. I know how that goes all too well. Regardless, there was one wedding I got to go to, for Other James and Melissa, back in October. It was quite lovely. And brief, which was nice. Here’s a picture of those wacky kids:

other james and melissa

complete with a surprise Stephanie in the back…

…and here’s a pic of me and Other James before the wedding:

me and other james

moments before the carnage began…

Yes, yes, I’m wearing a tie. Try not to choke on whatever it is you might be choking on at the moment.

pen empty

this happened more often than not…

Bit out of sequence, mind, but I had to bid adieu to my beloved youth group kids in April. Shelli decided to retire this year, and focus on her family and such, and so the group was given over to the just-formed Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I miss them, I really do. It took a bit to acclimate to not having to come up with a lesson every week. I sill wonder how they’re doing. Ah, well. It’s out of my hands. Like it was ever in my hands, if you catch my drift.

The only live show I went to this year was Iron Maiden back in July. It was during the Book Of Souls tour, they played Lincoln, and it was friggin’ AWESOME. I went with one of my Brothers From A Different Mother, Matt O. Bad knees or not, there was no way I was going to miss this chance. I can now scratch this one off my Bucket List. Now, to try and catch Alice Cooper and Megadeth before it’s too late.

awaiting iron maiden

patiently awaiting to RAISE THE IRONS!

Which brings me to this last bit: Remember earlier, when I mentioned that my knees started to go bad in late January? Well, in the past they would flair up, but then go away. Not so this time–since January, the pain was almost a constant, usually feeling worse in one knee and switch periodically. Since January, I had been using a cane to get around. Then, in late August, I woke up one morning and I couldn’t stand up. The pain was too great. After visiting my doctor–I’ll spare you the details of what kind of adventure getting down from my second floor domicile over to the doctor was–I was admitted into the hospital, where I was given a battery of tests, and finally received cortisone shots into both knees. It turned out I had a severe case of gout in both knees, which I’m told is a very rare kind of occurrence. The cortisone shots helped immensely, but the general arthritis still flairs up now and then. I’m still using the cane, and on the really bad days I’m using the walker my Grandma Betty once had. Knee braces come into play once in a while, as well. We’ll see what comes when I get my annual checkup in February.

hammer time sellout

from the I Can’t Even files…

So, there we have the year that was 2017. Yeah, some pretty good movies were watched, some books were read, some \,,/METAL\,,/ was had. What will 2018 bring? Well, outside of the movie schedule already being planned by the Exalted Geeks, there’s my middle nephew’s confirmation, and another cousin’s progeny graduating High School, both in May. Otherwise, we shall see what the year brings. Until then, I remain your humble servant Uncle NecRo. See you all next year.

Yeah, that joke never gets old. Cheers.

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Well, here we are. The end of another year. And as a year, overall, I think it’s safe to say that the majority opinion is that the year of our Lord Twenty-Sixteen SUCKED on so many levels, I’m pretty sure its effects can be felt on alternate dimensions and frequencies. Yes, there were a lot of celebrity deaths this year; however, this being a personal bligity-blog of mine, I’m not going to focus on all of those (though I really could, there have been many childhood favorites that have fallen this year). Instead, to at least make an acknowledgment of the ones that have been an inspiration to me, I’m going to pepper this post with YouTube clips of some favorites of mine while I wax nostalgic for the past year. However ugly it was.

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t start off with perhaps one of the biggest losses my family had this year: In the very first week of June, my Grandmother Betty Strand passed away. She was always a constant anchor in my life, as she was a strong, tenacious and lively cornerstone of the family, raising three children on the farm and being active in the community and such. Her loss has left a void in the lives of many.

And as long as we’re on the subject, along with Grandma, two Great Aunts also passed away this year: Aunt Janice and Aunt Muriel. Aunt Janice was Grandma’s younger sister, and was also a presence in the family growing up. Aunt Muriel was Grandpa Strand’s sister, and was another presence in the family growing up. We have a big family, and for better or for worse, we’re still pretty tight as a unit. I’m thankful for that, and thankful for having known them.

In July, there was a massive shakeup at the church I was attending. I really don’t want to go into the details (as we’re still healing and moving on), but suffice to say, there was a split. And after much deliberation, I decided to go with the ones who left, in helping to be a part of the healing and moving on. A new church was birthed out of what essentially started as a Sunday morning therapy group for those who were hurt from the split. Fortunately, this wasn’t formed out of spite, but out of a genuine desire to continue to serve God and Christ Jesus despite of the circumstances. Almost immediately, we’ve been seeing the Holy Spirit work with us to that end. In case you’re morbidly curious, here’s the website to peruse.

Of course, no year-end blog post would be complete without mentioning all the wackiness that happened in the culture. And this was probably the wackiest of the wacky. As in, the world just threw up its collective hands and went, “Okay, we all go crazy, now.” Besides all the celebrity deaths (which, as of this writing, still hasn’t stopped, it seems), who could forget the year-long freak show that was this round of Presidential elections? To quote one of the best parts of the movie Resivuar Dogs, “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right”. On the left of the Presidential ring, the Senator wife of a former President. To the right, a business mogul/former reality show producer-star/comb-over enthusiast with little to no political experience whatsoever. After months and months of mud-flinging, passive-aggressive public whining, really bad ideas and desperate character assassinations (among other things), at the end of the day, it turned out that we all collectively stepped in some Trumpy-Dumpy. Gads, that episode of MST3K is so endlessly quotable. And given the fallout and the various updates on how Trump is lining up his next four years…yeah, this might make 2016 seem like the Golden Years in comparison. We shall see, as always. The road to Idiocracy stretches out ever before us. Still, I’m trying to figure out why so many of my fellow professing Christians seemed to treat his election as the next best thing to the Second Coming of Jesus.

And lest the Presidential elections overshadow the other bits of wackiness of the year: Britan decided to leave the European Union, citing “It’s not you, it’s me” and further stating “We can still be friends, though,” before deleting them from their Facebook lists; a cartoon frog is now declared a “hate symbol” because…reasons, I guess; the President of the Philippines threatened to burn down the UN; for several months, the entire country freaked out over clowns (well, moreso than usual); and last but certainly not least, there was that Dakota Access Pipeline protest that got rather ugly before an agreement could be made, only to have the protester’s point made for them by the pipeline itself. Delicious irony.

Okay, on to some more pleasant stuff. For all the downers, at least there were some really really good \,,/METAL\,,/ that was released: Megadeth came back in form with Dystopia in January, and then Anthrax released the melodic-yet-heavy For All Kings in February. Babymetal released Metal Resistance in March, which was more of the mutated J-Pop/Metal hybrid I somehow find irresistible. Death Requisite released some rather good death metal with their Revisitation release, while I found myself disappointed with the debut release from Becoming Saints, Oh The Suffering. Ricky Puckett unleashed his In Darkest Dreams project with The Vanishing, a much-needed injection of dark and brutal for my earholes. And then Hell apparently froze over, as Klayton dropped a surprise brand-new Circle Of Dust album, Machines Of Our Disgrace. And finally*, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Metallica releasing Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, which turned out to be quite decent.

On the movie front, this year started off strong with the most excellent Deadpool. The year had some decent ones, like 10 Cloverfield Lane (a lot better than what I expected), the new Ghostbusters, the Magnificent Seven remake, the Pete’s Dragon remake, Suicide Squad (surprisingly decent), and Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them (sorry, no review posted yet). The rather good movies this year were Captain America: Civil War, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Star Trek Beyond, Doctor Strange, and of course, the year’s capper, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Of course, there were some stinkers in this year’s mix, which for me were Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Independence Day: Resurgence, and the surprisingly “meh” X-Men: Apocalypse.

And last, but certainly not least, in the more happier aspects of my personal life this year: This last Spring both my Nephew/Godson Christoper Rinas and one of my cousin’s eldest son Trevor Donahey graduated High School. Gads, I’m old.

So, that’s my year in a nutshell. To quote from one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H: “Here’s to the new year. May it be a damn sight better than the last one, and may we all go home before it’s over.”** Take that as you will. Whatever you do, celebrate heartily, but also somberly. Don’t be stupid. Me, I’m going to be doing my yearly Haunted New Years horror movie marathon whilst deciding what part of the clutter in my domicile is going to get the heave-ho. And there may be a bacon pizza in the mix, somewhere. Until next year (see what I did there?), I remain your humble servant Uncle NecRo. God bless, my wonderful freaks.

::END TRANSMISSION::

*– While I did review the new Klank album, the official release isn’t until January 13th, so that’s actually one to look forward to.

**– Season 9, Episode 6: “A War For All Seasons”

2014–The Obligatory Year-End Post

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MeWell, here we are, at the end of the year that was 2014. Soon, this year shall gasp its last, and from its still-warm corpse shall burst forth 2015. And while you’re busy trying to excise that disturbing image out of your brains (it’s no use, just relax and let it take you), I shall regale you with how this year has been for your Uncle NecRo. Hope you brought snacks.

The year that was 2014 started off like any other year that ultimately turned out to be a crap-shoot: with hope and promise. I was engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world. We were planning our lives together, and we couldn’t wait to begin our new adventure together, for better or for worse. At least, I knew I was. We went through the preliminary pre-marital classes at her church in January; in February, after months of putting out resumes and interviewing, I finally found work as a manager-in-training at an Arby’s in Lincoln. It was going to be a challenge, I knew, but the money was good, and–not trying to sound cliché here–hard work never scared me. I was willing to do what it took for our future together.

March was rough, but still good. My time at Arby’s was, as the trainer put it, more like Boot Camp–I was being trained on every part of the business and store in a very compressed amount of time, putting in long hours that were very erratic, having all manner of Arby’s-related information pumped into my skull, and putting through the proverbial ringer by a general manager whose training style can be described as Full Metal Jacket-era R. Lee Ermy Drill Sergeant as filtered through Major Margaret Hoolahan from M*A*S*H.

I was determined to make a go of it–I figured anything worth acquiring is never going to be easy. After over a month, though, it was clear that I wasn’t acclimating enough to keep up; I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t keep food down, and it was getting to the point where I was experiencing extreme anxiety with the prospect of going through another day there. I was showing some beginning physical symptoms of a potential breakdown. But, I kept going as long as I could. I needed to be the “man of integrity” that Kim needed. Even if it killed me, it seems. I had the loving support from my spouse-to-be and my family and soon-to-be family.

April 1st was when this life of mine imploded. Collapsing, everything crushed into a dark singularity, where light cannot escape its sucking pull. The fact that it was April Fools Day is an irony that isn’t lost on me.

It was a Tuesday this year. April 1st can be listed, without any kind of hyperbole whatsoever, as My Worst Day At Arby’s, which also doubles as My Last Day At Arby’s. Only, I didn’t really know about that second part, there. I couldn’t seem to be able to do anything right, second-guessing myself, making stupid mistake after stupid mistake, with every little mistake getting a royal chewing out by not only the GM, but also other members of the managerial staff, usually in full view of everyone other employee and customer there. And if you know me at all, you know that constant verbal berating like that makes me much more jumpy, which makes me make even more mistakes, which results in further verbal berating…a vicious cycle, this is. Finally, the shift ended in late afternoon, and halfway to Kim’s apartment I finally had what turned out to be the first of many breakdowns to come this Spring and Summer. But more on that later. This first one came on, and it was a miracle I was able to make it to the apartment while my eyes were stinging and mostly blinded by tears and such, and I found it hard to breathe after a bit. I made it to the apartment, though.

April 1st was also the day I discovered one of my long-time online friends–Anderson Mar–had died from smoke inhalation due to a fire in her apartment complex. The information was posted on her Facebook page, and given the day it was, I spent a good hour or so to make sure it wasn’t some Troll’s idea of a sick joke. Sadly, it wasn’t.

On April 2nd, the decision was amicably made that I wasn’t really cut out for the pressures of being an Arby’s manager. Maybe if I had been working from the ground up for a few years, I could have made it; but it was agreed that I was not ready, if ever. Without a job, and only two months until the wedding, things were looking dark, but I still clung to hope that this would work. I met Kim that evening to tell her, and discuss things before the Bible study that night. She took the news in stride, and reassured me that, despite this temporary setback, she wasn’t going anywhere, that she would still be by my side. We even talked with the pastor who was going to officiate our wedding after the Bible study, making plans to meet with him later in the month for planning and such. I left for home that night, shaken but still optimistic.

April 3rd, I began the process of emailing and sending out resumes and pounding the streets to look for work again. I was determined. I kept this up on the 4th, and the 5th (mostly emailing and filling out applications online on the 5th, as it was Saturday). On Sunday, April 6th, after accompanying Kim at the early traditional side service as she played piano for the men’s choir, and then taking in the contemporary service afterwards, we went out for a nice lunch at Grisanti’s, window shopped in a nearby music shop, then went back to her apartment, where she then proceeded to tell me that she couldn’t marry me, giving me a reason of “I’m not able to love you the way you deserve.” I still don’t know what that means, to this day. She hasn’t spoken to me since then, not in the way she used to. Just like that, in less than a week, my world was ripped asunder. I’m sorry if I sound overly dramatic, here, but that’s the way it was. No warning, no explanation that didn’t seem like an insult to my intelligence; in one fell swoop, the person I loved more than I ever loved anyone else outside of my immediate family pushed me out of her life and locked the door, with one of the lamest reasons given.

And while that would be enough to wish for a reset on the rest of the year, Murphy was just getting warmed up, it turned out. I did manage to get my old position at another Jimmy John’s back if but for a brief period to generate some income while I looked for something more substantial. Because, while the labor there sucked, at least I did get some good money from my time at Arby’s. And let’s face it–I am far more awesome and talented to waste away as a sammich jockey, regardless of how well I got along with the co-workers. And better work I did find soon thereafter: I am currently a POS Terminal Help Specialist at First Data. It’s challenging, the money is really good, I’m still trying to acclimate to a job where everyone is not trying to continually tear you down to get ahead themselves, and the best part is being able to use my rather expansive vocabulary without worrying if I have to dumb things down and explain what I just said all the time.

At the beginning of the Summer Holiday, two classmates of some of the kids in my youth group died in a very tragic road accident. I never met the two victims; the accident effected the kids in the group, and when they mourn and are in pain, I too mourn and am in pain. Just the way it is.

In mid-June, a thunderstorm blew through that caused so much devastation, it caused enough property damage that certain areas were declared disaster areas. On my family’s farm, several trees were felled, some of which I remember playing on as a child, much structural damage was done to the buildings, and more than just a couple of windows and the roof were in severe need of repair. The power was out for us for a good three days before it was restored. Unfortunately, the damage the storm wrought on the church that my ancestry built in Uehling was enough that, over one hundred years after being built and serving as the worship center for several generations of my family, the decision was made to close the church for good, and sell the land with the building being torn down after the first of 2015. Again, in one fell swoop, another part of my life, despite having not attended Uehling Congregational Church since graduating High School in 1992, will be gone.

The final kick in the tender spot that this year made, the one that sent ripples that were felt well beyond where I can even see, was the sudden and devastating death of my cousin Jerry in August. I’ve already posted my thoughts on that; needless to say, I still catch myself still thinking of him as still alive, and not gone.

Fortunately, nothing more has happened to equal the kind of devastation that has hit my world this year. The darkness that has descended this year will carry over to the next, to be sure–not a day goes by where I’m not thinking about Kim and if I did all I could have done on my part, and I’m still very much haunted by memories of the very recent past–but that’s to be expected. Go forward, I must. And it’s not like I’m unaware of the abundant blessings that my Lord and God has bestowed upon me; certainly, He has blessed me with an abundance of the kind of friends and family that were there for me the best they could, giving support and not just empty platitudes. I’m also thankful that I was gifted with the ability to make my family members laugh and hopefully take some of the sting off of the loss of our beloved family member. And, of course, the job I work at now is a good fit, and I’m finally beginning to make the kind of income to start to move forward substantially. And while I decided to stop doing NECRO SHOCK RADIO permanently this year, as my I found my heart was no longer in it, I somehow know that the future may end up with something different, and better. As with all things.

So, to summarize this rambling down Memory Lane: 2014, for the most part, sucked. Sucked in a way that I pray I never experience again, and anyone I know and love will never have to experience themselves. But, in a morbid, twisted kind of way, it could be I will look back on the year that was 2014, and think, “yeah, this was more beneficial than I thought it would be.” But, for now, I find myself ready to enter 2015, not with a smile and a song in my heart, but with a war face, and \,,/METAL\,,/ blasting through my speakers. Possibly wielding something blunt and heavy, festooned with spikes.

Happy New Year from your UNCLE NECRO. I’m still alive. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Cheers, all.

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