Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Alternate Timelines

I had a conversation with my Mom last weekend in which I was reminded of something I probably knew at one time but had forgotten. It was a reference to a moment in time that, had things worked out differently, would have led to a completely different life than the one I have lived. Given the theory of multiple universes, somewhere out there in the infinite Multiverse, I led that life. I can’t say I’ve been obsessing with this, but I have been sort of fascinated for the past few days.

I’m going to attempt to tell this story without using any names. There are people who are involved and have no idea about any of this. It’s not a bad story, just not something that needs to be brought into their life (at least I don’t think so).

I’ve never had a lot of contact with my Dad’s side of the family. He only had one brother who was much older than him. His kids, my first cousins, are much older than I am and never lived near me in my lifetime. Their kids are my age and I have met them once at their grandfather’s funeral twenty-five-plus years ago. It’s pretty safe to say I wouldn’t know them if I saw them. There were other cousins, children of my grandmother’s siblings, only one of which I ever have any contact with. It was a strange contrast for me, because my Mom’s side of the family is huge and I have lots and lots of cousins I have spent my life with and feel incredibly close to even though we rarely see each other.

When I was little we used to take my paternal grandmother to visit her youngest sister. On these occasions I would see her grandchildren, my second cousins. There were a pair of sisters who were four or five years older than me, so it was difficult to really play with them when I was there. In 1967, when I was six, a little sister was born in their family. I only vaguely remember this.

Not long after, probably within the year, their Mom died while in the hospital, leaving the two girls and a newborn baby with their father.

So, the story Mom told me this weekend, is that during the time that the widowed father didn’t know what to do, she briefly discussed the possibility of adopting the baby and raising it. I don’t know how detailed these discussions were or how far it went, but needless to say, it didn’t happen. He eventually remarried and over time, after the deaths of my grandmother and her sister, we gradually lost touch with most of that family.

But somewhere out there in the Multiverse I had a little sister come to live with me.

And, I realized, somewhere out there in the real world, is a forty-something woman, my second cousin, who could have been my sister, who I don’t know at all and who has no idea I exist.


So, I went internet stalking. I have a friend who went to the high school I was sure she would have attended. She was younger than him, but it was a small country school, so I thought he might have some connections. I was right. He didn’t know her personally, but he was able to figure out who she was and give me her married name. She’s on Facebook. Lives in West Virginia. I’ve seen her picture. This was all to sate my curiosity. I won’t name her here. I have no inclination to contact her at all. She’s a stranger who I probably shouldn’t invite into my strange land.

But out there, somewhere, we were more than that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wizard World Pittsburgh: Local Comics Panel

This past weekend I was privileged to participate in two different panels at the first Wizard World comics con held in Pittsburgh.

One was listed in the program as follows:


75 years ago, in 1940, as the Nazi conquest of Europe continued and the Battle of Britain raged, the United States watched from the sidelines while instituting the first peacetime draft. At the same time, the world of comics was experiencing an incredible sustained period of invention, as The Joker, Robin, Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, the Spirit, Catwoman, and Captains America and Marvel all debuted! (Not to mention the debuts of pop culture icons Bugs Bunny, and Brenda Starr, and classic movies Fantasia and The Great Dictator!) Showing and discussing historical and cultural factors that made that year so important is a panel including moderator Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero) as well as an array of history and pop culture experts including Wayne Wise (Chatham University), Waller Hastings (West Liberty University), Chris Gavlier (Washington & Lee University) and Chris Maverick (Duquesne University of Pennsylvania).

Given the topic I was surprised at how well attended this panel was. The conversation went really well. I was pleased to join these other academic professionals.

The other panel was about the Independent Comic Book Scene in Pittsburgh. The panel was moderated by Dan Greenwald from the Comic Book Pitt Podcast. I was joined by Scott Hedlund, Jim Rugg, and Marcel Walker.

You can watch it here.