The Blogging Life: My Journey So Far

Humble Beginnings

Technically I have been blogging since 2008 which is when I opened up my first WordPress.com account and posted a blog titled Crohn’s Attack. I then didn’t post anything until February of 2010 with a post on body size, training, and other stuff which was titled simply enough Body Size, Training and Other Stuff. In fact, the first six years of this blog were the least prolific and, not surprisingly, the least read years of it’s existence. I didn’t start posting regularly until 2014 when I reached 720 views with 427 visitors. Things kept progressing slowly after that point. I wrote more often and got more viewers ready 2,177 in 2019.

Then in 2020 something both interesting and amazing happened. I posted only once that entire year – you read that correctly – one post in all of 2020 (it was called Fitness Quest: 2019 A Year in Review if you are interested), but my viewership soared. Not by a little, but by a lot. I went from 2,177 views in 2019 to 19,879 views in 2020! All without writing more than one measly post. What happened? I can tell you in one word: Google.

Google to the Rescue

After a little research I discovered that one of my post from a couple of years earlier, When is a Man’s Arm Considered Big?, made the Google front page. All of a sudden it seemed that my little blog was getting noticed and getting noticed a lot or so I thought at the time. So like any good blogger I thought – there must be a way I can capitalize on this attention. If people like that article they’ll surely like everything else I have to say.

The Best Intentions and Well Laid Plans

So I decided to dive more seriously into the blog. I rebranded what I had been calling Dave’s World into Journeys With Dave. I had the thought at the time that I would be posting more travel related content like some other bloggers who’s work I enjoyed and admired. Most notably Jon Miksis over at My Global Viewpoint who I also wrote a travel article on little known things to do around Lake Erie for this past year. In addition to rebranding I started a Facebook page for the blog to reach a wider audience beyond my friends. I also changed my mind set. If I was going to make this work as a little “side hustle” to pay for vacations which I could then write about I needed to get serious about posting. I committed myself to posting at least one new blog a week.

Results So Far

So everything was in place and I started writing weekly. I’m pleased to say that so far I’m managing to stick to my goal of something new each week. Sometimes I’d write more than once a week, like my series on the Grumpy Old Man Tour of Walt Disney World, and once or twice I did miss my self-imposed deadline. But this year is clearly my most prolific.

So far this year I’ve posted 32 times and I’ve written 43,876 words. This is more than twice my previous best of 15,973 in 2015 with 32 posts total that year as well.

Visits are on track to beat last year’s total easily as I’m over 18,000 views as of August 21, 2021 with 4 and a half months to go. So exceeding 20,000 vies and 17,301 visitors should not be an issue. My best month for viewing was January 2021 where I reached about 3,300 views. However, this is the month that I rebranded and switched from the free WordPress.com site to a paid WordPress.com site. The main reason for this was so that I could get ad revenue. As a result I saw a big drop in views in February but my readership is climbing again and I’m over 2,200 per month currently and trending back up.

Other interesting stats (at least interesting to me):

  • Most popular viewership time: Tuesdays at 10:00 PM
  • Most viewed day: January 17, 2021 with 138 views.
  • Average Words Per Post: 1,371

The Plan Forward

My main issue now though is frankly one of content. That post about When is a Man’s Arm Considered Big is still far and away my most popular blog. I’m not complaining about this, but I am trying to find a topic that will also hit that front page of Google – the holy grail of blogging – and so far I’m not having a lot of luck. I am finding that similar subjects seem to have some staying power, but when I try other topics I’ll get an immediate bump in readership but that’s it. I have noticed that other bodybuilding/fitness/workout type blog entries are moving up in viewership. This may be because my primary audience, at least according to Google Analytics, are men aged 20 – 24 who are not surprisingly interested in fitness and sports. So my plan is to keep giving this audience more of what it wants, like How do Your Arms Stack up to Other Gym Bros?, and even stories of my own fitness experiences over the years. By the way, the last blog was picked up by a website that promotes scientific research articles – so that was cool.

So my plan going forward is more of the same that I’m doing now. Post on a regular basis, see if I can build a new audience to compliment the one I have, and keep having fun exploring the world of blogging. I am also slowly working into other media as well such as YouTube and Podcasting. However, there are only so many hours in a day and as fun as all the social media stuff is it doesn’t pay the bills (so far at least).

Quick Lessons Learned

Here are a few things that I think I’ve learned which I hope might help you if you decided to start at blog or are working on a blog of your own currently:

  • Be consistent. Writing on a regular basis keeps your followers engaged and keeps your skills fresh and sharp, too.
  • Don’t expect to get rich quick. Or get rich slowly for that matter. If you do great and please let me know your secret. However, the odds are against this happening. So remember you are in this for the long haul. As long as you enjoy what you are doing I think that success will come but it will likely take years not days, weeks, or even months.
  • Experiment. Don’t be afraid of tackling a new subject. Your audience is looking for information. If you provide what they want, they will come back.
  • Check your stats. I pay attention to how each post does and try to learn from that. If you look at my first post and my posts today you’ll see a fair amount of change – for the better I hope!
  • Don’t be afraid to self promote. I’ve gotten better about suggesting to people that they check out my blog. I don’t know how many actually do, but my viewer counts continue to climb and I’ll get the occasional “attaboy” and “great blog” from friends and acquaintances.

So that’s it. I’ll check back in on the blogging effort at the end of this year just to let you all know how things are going. Good luck with your blog in the meantime!

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

The Purpose of Theatre*

I think that it is fair to say that theatre is essential to human existence. It has been around for nearly as long as civilization has existed in multiple forms from religion to pure entertainment. In fact, most popular forms of entertainment today – movies and television for example – have their origins in live theatre.

A Public Art

It’s also fair to say that theatre is common in most communities. You may never get to be a part of a Broadway audience, you might not even get to a large regional production, but most of us have been to a local community theatre and certainly a high school, elementary, or even church performance of some kind (I’m talking Christmas pageants by the way, not the regular Sunday service). Theatre in some form or another is ubiquitous in our society. It is not, as often ironically portrayed on stage, films or television, an activity of the idle rich. It is an accessible art form with millions of participants and as such is uniquely able to serve as a public forum for thought and ideas.

How Theatres Choose Their Seasons

Photo by Ruca Souza on Pexels.com

Now, a few of you involved in theatre may disagree with what I’m about to say. But, I have been active in theatre nearly my entire life. I was in school plays, going back to elementary, some college classes and started a Reader’s Theatre Group as a student, and a ton of community theatre for the past 39 years. My community theatre work includes acting, writing, directing, etc. and I’ve served on multiple boards of groups at both the local and state level. This broad experience has allowed me to make note of some similarities among theatre groups. Especially among smaller groups which do not have abundant resources and endowments to draw upon.

I have heard the same basic arguments from different theatre boards and members when selecting shows, especially when the bank accounts get a little low. The discussion tends to center around what shows will sell. So as a result, because of the pervasive belief that casting children in shows sells tickets, many seasons of smaller struggling groups tend to be filled with children’s theaters, musicals, or the holy grail of ticket sales, musicals with children!

The Real Question Theatres Should Ask Before Selecting a Show

A question that I think theatres don’t ask enough is what is the purpose of theatre? And, just as important, how is that purpose being fulfilled? Regardless of how you answer these questions I think we will all agree that the purpose of theatre is not to sell tickets. Selling tickets is just a tool to raise funds to help us fulfil the higher purpose of our craft. It is an unfortunate fact that all groups need funding to continue to put on shows. But has your group become dedicated to just selling tickets? I believe that the purpose of theatre is to show a slice of the human condition in a safe environment and to give the audience something to reflect on and think about long after the final curtain call. If your board’s only goal is to make money without consideration of the important voice that theatre has are they doing the right thing?

Obligation to the Community – More than Frivolity

All theatres have an obligation to their communities and that obligation is not just to present shows that are entertaining or that can be easily cast. It means that on occasion at least that your group should be doing what I would call difficult pieces. Works that are often not associated with community theatre in fact because they are too controversial or use “bad” language (gasp). Works that deal with the troubling questions of our day like gun violence, homelessness, sex abuse, inclusiveness, and so on and so forth. I maintain that as soon as a member of your theatre’s board says something along the lines of “that won’t sell tickets” or “our community isn’t ready for this show” then that is exactly when you should produce it!

A Place for Every Type of Show

Now I’m not being dismissive of children’s theatre or musicals. Both have their place and both can also be educational and thought provoking. In fact, the best scripts and productions always are. Even old standbys like The Music Man are full of social commentary and you don’t have to dig deep to find it. But if your only purpose in picking a show is because you think it will sell tickets you are missing out on an opportunity to not only help further educate your audience – and I bet your theatre is organized as an “educational” 5019c)3 – but to develop an entirely new audience as well.

Risk and Reward?

Will your risk pay off? In terms of finance, possibly not the first time or two you perform something a little more daring. But in the long run, I think your community will learn to appreciate the intellectual debate that your productions inspire.

There you have it, my two cents. I’d love to learn what you think on this issue. Am I right on or all wet? Let me know in the comments and get the discussion started!

Admittedly, some shows are harder to justify as thought provoking than others. But sometimes just having fun is okay, too! The cast of Monroe Community Players’ production of Gilligan’s Island. Photo by Robert Yoman.

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

*I don’t use the word “theatre” with the “re” for any hoity toity artistic reason. I use that word to describe the act or art of putting on a play. If I’m using the word “theater” I’m talking about the performance space. I just find it an easy way to distinguish between the two.

The To Be Read Pile – An Update

It’s been a while since I’ve updated anyone on my current reading list or my to-be-read pile (aka TBR in the bookish lingo), so here’s a picture of what I was reading back in May:

My read pile in late May.

My Reading Progress

The good news is that I’ve made some progress and have been finding more time for reading each day. Admittedly, sometimes it’s in the bathroom and almost always just before I fall asleep – I’m sure many of you understand. But in the past couple of months I managed to finish:

  • The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green – an interesting read and easy to read in bed as each chapter was short.
  • So You Want to Start a Podcast by Kristen Meinzer – an excellent book on podcasting and what makes a successful podcast.
  • Podcasting for Dummies by Tee Morris and Chuck Tomasi – more of a “nuts and bolts” book on the mechanics of podcasting.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon – a little difficult to read because of it’s format, but very worthwhile.
  • Without Ever Reaching the Summit by Paolo Cognetti – a contemplative trip through the Himalayas.
  • A stack of National Geographic magazines dating back a year through last month – these constituted most of my bathroom reading to be honest.
  • Jungle by Yossi Ghinsberg – a harrowing true life tale of survival in the jungles of South America.

I ended up putting aside The YouTube Formula for now. I’m still interested in YouTube but podcasting has my attention at the moment and there’s only so much time in a day. However, I finally got my Ricoh WG-M1 Adventure Camera set up so there may be a few more hikes put up on my YouTube channel before too long.

My TBR Plan of Attack

In my current read pile you’ll notice that I’ve added a couple books which are in preparation for my trip to Egypt this October. Luxor Illustrated, is mostly pictures so that will be finished quickly. The same goes for Candy and Designing Disney. I’m reading Don’t Burp in the Boardroom at bedtime since it’s relatively light fare for management style books. I love Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series, which all take place in USA National Parks. But, if I’m honest with myself this one may not get read until I board the plane for Egypt in October. I forgot how much reading I used to get done on airplanes during the pandemic.

My read pile today. I’m making some progress.

Suggestions Please

Since I do have a couple long international flights coming up in just a couple months now I’d love suggestions of some good fiction to read from everyone else. What are you reading that you think I might enjoy?

My taste are eclectic or at least I imagine they are so nothing is off limits!

I’d also love to hear how you are tackling your TBR pile or list, too.

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

Fanboy Adventures: Meeting Butch Patrick

If you read my earlier post (Addams Family vs Munsters: Can’t We All Get Along?) you know that I’m a Munsters Maniac going way back. So when my friend Mark invited me to go meet Butch Patrick who played Eddie Munster in the original series I enthusiastically said yes!

Typically, I’m not one to attend “meet the star” events but I realized that this was likely my last opportunity to meet anyone from the original cast as sadly most are now gone. Other than Butch Patrick only Pat Priest, who played the second Marilyn during the original run of the series, survives. However, since she is now 84 I suspect she doesn’t tour as much as she may have before.

Trivia tidbit – technically Butch Patrick is the second person to play Eddie. The role was played by another child actor, Nate “Happy” Derman, in the unaired pilot. Likewise Yvonne DeCarlo was the second Lily as she replaced Joan Marshall before the show aired. However, unaired pilots don’t really count in terms of television.

The Munster Koach

We met each other at Freedom Comics in Toledo, OH a few minutes before 2:00 PM which is when Butch was scheduled to appear. He had already pretty much set up and was taking pictures and signing autographs when we arrived. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that Butch was traveling with a replica of the Munster’s Koach – which in my opinion is the second coolest car ever on television. The first being the original Batmobile from the Batman TV series, a show that also had a great theme song, and which, not coincidentally, was designed by the same person: George Barris. The Koach was kept in a trailer but we were allowed to go in and take pictures. The only rules were don’t touch and don’t sit!

The closest I’ve gotten to the Batmobile – my prized model. I think the highlights are red on the real thing.

Meeting Butch aka Eddie Munster

Me with Butch Patrick

We had beat the crowd and only had to wait a few minutes to meet Butch Patrick. Knowing that these days many (most?) of the stars from these fan favorite shows charge for autographs I had come prepared with cash. In fact, I had enough on me to purchase a copy of Butch Patrick’s Munster Memories which he did sign for me. We talked for a few minutes and remembering some advice I had gotten years ago about meeting celebrities I asked about his current projects. I was pleased to learn that he has several things in the works including a series of interviews with surviving WWII veterans, cars, and others. If you visit his Munsters Fan website, named aptly Munsters.com, you’ll find more information on what he’s been up to and working on.

Butch was pleasant to talk to and generous with his time. I’m impressed that while Mark and I browsed the comic shop and it’s wide-array of collectibles that the line to meet Butch continued to grow. Of course there were plenty of older fanboys like myself but a number of younger people, too. It was a testament to the enduring popularity of The Munsters. Possibly the popularity of Lidsville, but I don’t think so.

I got to visit with a friend who I hadn’t seen in person for over a year thanks to COVID, meet someone whose work I enjoyed as a kid (and today), and explore a comic book shop I hadn’t visited before.

All in all, a pleasant way to spend a couple hours on a holiday afternoon!

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

A Squatch In the Woods…

Anyone who has known me for a sufficient length of time – let’s say a week – knows that I have more than a passing interest in the Bigfoot phenomenon. But, do I actually believe that an eight foot tall primate stalks the deep forests and valleys of North America? Let’s explore that a bit…

My history with Bigfoot

Is there a squatch in these woods?
Or maybe in these woods?

The earliest memory I have of being introduced to the idea that we might share our planet with undiscovered primates is when I was terrified by the appearance of the Abominable Snowman, aka “Bumble,” during the annual airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The build up to Bumble’s appearance was so effective and scared me so much that I think it was several years before I actually had the nerve to look at him on our giant 24″ black and white television! Which might be more understandable if I didn’t happen to be 15 years old at the time…(just kidding, I was 4 or 5 at the time).

Flash forward a couple of years to a still young me, now out of therapy and able to watch Christmas specials on television again without hiding under the couch, reading the National Wildlife Federation’s April 1968 issue. This issue happened to feature an article on the Bigfoot mystery in Northern California. I could hardly believe my eyes – could such a thing be real? Unfortunately, unlike today where there is a new book or television show produced about Bigfoot just about every week, research resources were scarce in this pre-Google age. It wasn’t until my early teens when I stumbled across John Napier’s book Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality. Napier was one of the first notable scientists to give serious attention to the Bigfoot phenomenon. His book provided some compelling evidence, but no actual conclusion that Bigfoot or the Yeti (the primate said to live in the Himalayas) actually existed.

A squatcher is born

Clearly this structure could not be made by human hands. Only one answer makes sense…Bigfoot!

Napier’s book only whetted my appetite for all things squatchy. I devoured anything that I could regarding Sasquatch or the Yeti. I studied any articles I could find, I watched movies, and I watched docudramas like The Legend of Boggy Creek. Heck, even today I’ll watch anything that has Bigfoot, Sasquatch, or Yeti in the title. No matter how good or bad they are (spoiler: most are bad). By the way, I found the 1957 film The Abominable Snowman especially frightening and fascinating when it ran on Saturday or Sunday afternoon TV. Either on Sir Graves Ghastly or Bill Kennedy at the Movies, I’m sure it’s one of those two because Rita Bell’s Prize Movie was on during the week when I was in school. Man, I miss shows like those. The closest thing today to Bill Kennedy at the Movies is TCM. I’m glad they are keeping the tradition of talking a little about the movies before and after the show alive. But, I digress…

Other interests develop

The search continues!

Along with this Bigfoot fascination I developed an interest in world geography. How could a Yeti survive in the harsh conditions of the Himalayas (spoiler – they can’t. Most sightings are actually in the valleys not the peaks of the mountains)? How vast are the forest of North America? Where else have mysterious creatures and monsters been found? I became interested in other things – Mount Everest and wilderness exploration and tales of survival for example. My own passion for the outdoors never let up either. Even today, whenever I’m hiking I try to observe everything. Not only for signs of giant primates but for signs of other things, too.

In short, my curiosity about Bigfoot led me to explore other things about the world we live in. So my seemingly irrational fascination with Bigfoot led to a very rational exploration of nature. Ranae Holland, of Finding Bigfoot fame, in her TED talk explains this type of thing better than I can. You can watch her talk What Bigfoot Can Teach Us About Curiousity on YouTube.

So, back to the question I asked at the beginning of the blog – do I actually believe in Bigfoot? Well, the rational part of me says that the chances of a giant primate roaming the forests and mountains of North America is very slim. However, that same part of me says that it is unlikely that all those foot prints are made by pranksters. More compelling to me, after watching all those movies, is that no one in Hollywood has made a costume that looks like the creature in the famous Patterson-Gimlin film. Were a couple of cowboys really that good at faking a Sasquatch’s proportions?

Do I believe?

I won’t go so far as to say that I definitely think Bigfoot is out there. I will go so far as to say that people are seeing something. Maybe grizzly bears spend more time walking upright than we think, maybe there’s a spore in trees which causes hallucinations, maybe…I don’t know.

But there is one thing I know for sure. I would rather live in a world where the possibility of something like Bigfoot exists than a world where people are so convinced of their own pre-conceived ideas of how things should be that they can’t even entertain the possibility that there are things beyond their comprehension. That the world still holds mystery and wonder. That they could possibly be wrong in their perception of how things are because they are focused on how they want things to be.

Because beyond the limits of what you “know” is where the real adventure begins.

My collection of books on Mount Everest.

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

Addams Family vs Munsters: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The recent news that Rob Zombie will be directing a “reboot” of The Munsters for NBC’s Peacock streaming service and/or theatrical release (which by the way is either the best news ever or the worst – I don’t think there’s much middle ground here) is certain to revive a debate that is as old as time…or at least as old as 1964. Which show was better – The Addams Family or The Munsters?

For those who aren’t old enough to remember, it is important to know that television in the sixties was a golden time for anyone who liked variety in their life. On any given night you might be able to watch a show with an uncle who was a Martian, a suburban housewife who was a witch, an astronaut who had his own personal genie, seven stranded castaways, superheroes, voyages to the bottom of the sea, visit millionaire hillbillies, enjoy rural life, sing with partridges, leave everything to Theodore, or even take a five year mission into deep space (just don’t get lost out there).

You could even watch shows featuring typical American families. Families with a couple of children, household pets, and even an elderly relative or two living in the same house. Two of these shows in particular had an enduring impact upon popular culture. Both first aired within a week of one another and, two years later, both were canceled at the same time as well. Both have had movies, spin-offs, cartoons, and merchandise galore. These shows have always been linked in some mysterious way and have been the subject of much debate and most people fell into one of two camps: you were either an Addams Family Fan or a Munsters Maniac. Much like politics today there was no middle ground when it came to Munsters vs Addams Family. You could like one show but not the other. Long before anyone wondered who shot a Texas oil baron, this was the debate which tore playgrounds, bars, and perhaps even a few families apart.

Both of these shows have superficial similarities. They both feature families most audiences then would consider to be unusual if not downright macabre. Both families lived in spooky houses, kept odd hours, and so on. Both families had strong parental figures who were not necessarily tied to the social stereotypes of the day. Both shows left us with mysteries to ponder – did Morticia have feet? If Grampa was Lily’s father why did everyone call him Grampa Munster? Both shows even had snappy and memorable theme songs!

But underneath each show represented a different version of the American dream.

The Munsters, in case you don’t know, are a family of “monsters” who immigrated to the United States. Grampa, who by the way is a Dracula but not the Dracula, often speaks longingly of the “old country.” Herman was assembled in a lab in Germany (at the University of Heidelberg) and lived in the United Kingdom and Transylvania before immigrating with his Transylvanian wife and father-in-law to the United States. Along with their niece, Marilyn (apparently adopted), and son, Eddie, they do their best to live out the American dream. Herman is clearly a blue-collar working man, he’s a grave digger by trade, and as a group they work hard to fit into their community by participating in civic events and attempting to know their neighbors. But like immigrant groups before them they are often shunned because of their “odd” lifestyle, customs, and appearance. Even those people who don’t scream and run away at first sight of them display a certain nervousness while around any member of the family. Except for Marilyn, the “normal” one to the audience but who is considered an unfortunate freak by the rest of the family. Oddly enough, none of the rest of the family seems to notice that they are the ones who look and act differently than everyone around them. They consider slim, blonde, and presumably blue-eyed (the show was filmed in black and white) to be ugly. But she looks like the rest of the world around them.

I think a case can be made that the Munsters are not only immigrants but that they can stand in for any minority group in the United States at the time. What they experienced, though exaggerated for comic effect in some cases and sanitized for television audiences, echoed to a small degree what many Black, Asian, LatinX, and other groups who looked or acted “different” might have experienced as unwelcome newcomers to a neighborhood.

The Addams Family, by contrast, are wealthy people from a wealthy family. They even have a butler – who is either a zombie or a Frankenstein like creation, I’m not sure – and all the trappings of wealth. Their theme song describes there house a “museum” presumably because of the rare artworks and antiques inside. Patriarch Gomez appears to be Spanish American (not Latino as we define it today), but seems to be native to the USA. Matriarch Morticia can trace her family tree back to the Salem Witch Trials. Unlike the Munsters, they do not worry about fitting in. They have money and know how to use it. Though they do seem to be civic minded, they tend to stick to the comforts of their home. The world is forced to come to them. They do what they please and don’t worry what others think of them. Like the Munsters they don’t always understand the reactions of people around them but they are in a position to not really care about it. In fact, Gomez often solves problems by literally throwing money at them! Wealth has it’s privileges and Gomez at least seems to be very aware of this.

Even though I’m a dyed-in-the-wolf’s bane Munster Maniac I do have to admit that over the years since the original television shows The Addams Family has been the more financially successful franchise. With several major motion pictures having been released, one (animated) as recently as 2019, and even Broadway musical. Though, as one of my theater friends pointed out to me, the play does have a plot more suited to The Munsters than to The Addams Family.

Prior to the news of this latest reboot The Munsters have had a handful of television specials over the decades and one poorly executed syndicated show (The Munsters today) which somehow actually stayed on the air for three seasons and ended up with 3 more episodes than the original show. However, the theme song from The Munsters is still popular with just about every indie rock band out there and was even sampled by Fallout Boy in 2015 (Dance Like Uma Thurman).

But back to my original reason for this post, can’t we all just get along? I personally think that there is room for both families in everyone’s heart and minds. In fact, I am actually a little concerned that as time goes on some of the uniqueness of each franchise is becoming eroded and I hope that both can get back to basics.

For example: in addition to the above mentioned plot of the Addams Family musical being better suited to the Munsters, the most recent film has a scene were the Addams Family is chased out of their “old country” which again is more suited to the Munsters characters. Granted, since The Addams Family is actually based on a popular series of single panel comics by Charles Addams, there is no reason to think that the entire Addams Family franchise should be limited to the television show’s canon. But even in the comics there was never a suggestion, to my knowledge at least, that the Addams family were first generation immigrants.

For the Munsters, I think that the problem of the various sequels and reboot attempts is that they focused on the slapstick comedy and not on the family and community relationships. With the exception of 1313 Mockingbird Lane. A version which I think actually did a nice job of focusing on family but strayed too far from the premise that the Munsters were trying to fit in. Plus, Herman was not made by Grampa – he is very clearly a later creation of Dr. Frankenstein’s. After all, the origins of the Munsters was based on Universal Studios wanting to take advantage of the classic monster properties already in their portfolio.

So, to sum up, I think that as long as both franchises stay true to their original character and perhaps expand on what makes each one unique that there is room for both in our lives. In fact, if treated properly, I think that both of these families can even teach us all how to be a little better in our own lives as well.

What do you think? I’d love to see your thoughts and comments.

And before anyone panics, here’s the missing Uncle Fester from the header image above.

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

The KonMari Method Saved My Life: Thanks Marie Kondo!

Okay, the KonMari method did not literally save my life but it did, and is, helping by changing how I look at “stuff” and I’m in a better place emotionally and, believe it or not, spiritually because of it.

Kondo’s books can be lifestyle changers!

For those who are not yet aware, Marie Kondo is a proponent of what she calls the KonMari Method (named after herself) and what she calls the art of decluttering and organizing. She has written four books with the first being published in 2014, named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2015 (according to her Wikipedia entry), has her own “reality” television show on Netflix (I loved it), and has become something of a world-wide celebrity as well as the face of a growing movement to simplify, declutter, and embrace pleasure from your possessions.

I first picked up her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a couple years ago. I read it and then added it to my ever increasing stack of books with hints and ideas on how to clean. At the time, I thought it was interesting but I didn’t really embrace what she was saying. However, one word of advice did stick and slowly I started to make decisions about what to keep in my house and what to through out on the “joy” standard. In other words, I asked myself when debating to keep something “does this thing bring me joy?” For that’s the key principle of the KonMari method. If you don’t like something, why in the world do you want to keep it in your life?

The other concept, which I found revolutionary, is not to tidy up by room but make your clean sweep by category. She uses clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous utilitarian items, which she calls “komono,” and memorabilia. I recommend going to her website or better yet buying her books for more details.

Now understand, that I’m something of a pack-rat by nature (as many of us are) and I come from a long line of pack-rats. Not quite a hoarder by nature (which is what I tell myself so I can sleep at night), but certainly a “oh, I can’t throw that out I might need it SOMEDAY” person. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons that clutter accumulates is SOMEDAY.

Then things in my life health-wise went sideways, backwards, and upside-down (see previous blog posts if you’d like the details) so I lost track of trying to declutter and paying attention to my belongings. I was not open to change and if anything, I was actively fighting it. Emotionally I was in a, if not dark, dim place. Each day seemed to be a challenge to get through instead of a miracle to be amazed at.

Not that other people didn’t try to help me along. One in particular, a wonderful visiting nurse, along with a friend went so far as to prune and rearrange my dying house plants while giving me an infusion! She suggested ways I could use my space – a new area rug, hang up the dozen or so pictures that I had sitting around on the floor, etc. – and by the time she left I could see clutter strewn floor again and even walk through the room without tripping.

But still, I resisted change.

Then one day, a local furniture store was having a sale on La-Z-boy furniture and in my living room I had a recliner, not a La-Z-boy by the way, that refused to recline several years ago and that thought kept coming back to me “if it doesn’t bring you joy, why are you keeping it?” So, off to the sale I went and before you know it I was coming home with not one, but two recliners. One to replace the broken one and another to replace the worn out couch I had purchased more than a decade ago from my late grandmother’s estate. In a matter of days the couch and chair were gone, the new recliners were in place and I had something in my living room that I hadn’t had in a long time. SPACE.

But still, I resisted change.

Until this past holiday season when my sister and my niece volunteered to help me clean house. Youy see I was in the habit of hosting a small New Year’s Eve party each year and with that came an annual “purging” of papers, clothing and other stuff that filled my house. For various reasons, I hadn’t been hosting the event in a couple years and frankly, my annual “purges” weren’t as effective. But, by bringing in two pairs of fresh eyes (which were opened wide in awe and horror at the mounds of clutter) I knew I was on a path that would lead to me being found one day under a pile of comic books. Crushed to death by the very super-heroes I idolized and aspired to be like.

We shredded I don’t know how many old and worthless documents, swept and scrubbed, recycled broken electronics, moved furniture, bought new shelves and hung up the pictures and the posters. A very good weight bench that has sat unused for years was moved out to the home gym that I and my brother-in-law actually workout in. It’s been used more in the past two weeks than it has been in the last eight years!

The result? After years of neglect I actually have usable space and room to move and breathe. The pieces of furniture I have now have use beyond expensive clothing racks and I can see what I own.

There’s still more to do. Furniture inherited or given to me by relatives now long gone is also going away to be replaced by items that reflect my style. I still have papers to shred and on average about three bags of junk each week for the past month has gone to the dump, even more has gone to Goodwill and other charities.

My biggest challenge still lies ahead of me. I’m a bit of a bibliophile and the number one item in my house taking up space is the printed word. I have more books than just about anyone I know. Shelved, stacked, and piled on every flat surface. Books that I won’t read again. But, books that at one time or another brought me some joy. So, I’ve decided that I will donate or give away as many as I can so that others can also get joy from them. Sell the few that have monetary value, and then keep only those that I re-read on a regular basis or have true sentimental value (signed copies, gifts). If I can get it at the library I don’t need it on my shelves. If I know whodunnit, I’m not likely to read it again. Will I get down to the 30 books that Marie Kondo recommends? Doubtful. But I bet I can cut the number of books I have in half.

So, how did Marie and the KonMari method save my life? Simple. I find that without all the clutter around me every day that I spend more time enjoying the space in my house, the big windows, the floor with plenty of room to exercise and do yoga in. My mood has improved and I’m open again to the possibilities of things instead of always focusing on the clutter and how I need to clean it up, things are going back in their place and I don’t have to think of them at all.

So Marie didn’t really save my life, but she did play a part in my reclaiming my life and, yes, my joy. For that, I’m thankful.

Onward!

#oldguyslifttoo – Consarn It!

Those of you who follow me on other social media (yeah, both of you) may have noticed that I usually tag any remotely fitness related post first with #oldguyslifttoo. Though it clearly hasn’t caught on I’m trying to make a point with that hashtag.

Youth and Fitness

It doesn’t take much observation to realize that in our culture and society fitness and athletic activities are the province of the young. In mo and t pro sports you’re finished before 40. A quick look through Instagram and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of posts, pictures, selfies, swolfies, and not so random flexing poses of young men (and a few women) in front of bathroom mirrors. Each who seems fully dedicated to their particular workout, diet and intent on spreading their knowledge and enthusiasm to the world. Or at least get a date. Maybe both, I’m not sure, and I’m not criticizing this in the least. If it motivates anyone towards physical fitness I’m for it. Heck, if I had the abs and biceps of some of these guys I’d be right there in front of my mirror with my phone snapping a picture too.

Old = Inactive?

But, you don’t see so much from older people. Go to a gym, again filled with folks under 40. Now I’m sure that there are a lot of reasons for this. The usual being other priorities. Career, family, etc. But, these reasons don’t explain all the middle-age men and women out there who have just stopped moving. The kids are out of the house, but instead of using the time gained from no longer running mom’s transit service they have doubled down on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and the like. Then complain that they hurt all the time or don’t have energy.

Time for a Change

It’s time to change this folks. The benefits of daily exercise are well documented. Both men and women at any age can increase strength and improve quality of life with a moderate program of walking and weightlifting. Barring an underlying medical condition (and hey, I’m pooping into a plastic bag as I type this so I know about underlying conditions) you can stall father time. You may never have 20 inch arms or buns of steel again but you can keep your bones strong and muscles firm well into old age.

Which, for all you teens out there, doesn’t start at 30.

So, I’m proud to be an old guy who lifts, too. I hope you’ll join me.

And whoknows, maybe senior citizen swolfies will catch on too!

Onward!

Dave

Things I Learned from the Internet

Facebook and Twitter have taught me many useful things in life. For example:

1. President Obama was the root of all evil.

2. The best way to express my views is to blindly copy everything I see on the internet which I agree with and share with all my “friends” before fact checking.

3. All comments made on any subject supported by someone else should be negative.

4. Donald Trump is the root of all evil.

5. The only opinions which matter are mine.

6. Cats are amazingly cute and fascinating. We should bow to them as our masters.

7. Hillary Clinton is the root of all evil.

8. All problems in the world would cease if we had more guns.

9. Sasquatch is real.

10. All problems in the world would cease if we got rid of all guns.

11. Bernie Sanders is the root of all evil.

12. Socialized medicine is the root of all evil. Unless it’s medicare or medicaid, then it’s a pretty good deal and hands off!

13. Ted Cruz is the root of all evil.

14.  (Insert the name of a recently deceased celebrity here) was the greatest person who ever lived.

15. Sasquatch is fake – but UFOs, those are real!

16. All movies are horrible pieces of trash and a waste of time and money.

17. Despite number 16 most movies that are “horrible pieces of trash” break box office records.

18. When in doubt about items 4, 7, 11, and 13 see item 1.

19. (Insert the name of a recently deceased celebrity here) was a fraud and should not be honored just because s/he passed away.

20. All major “mainstream” news outlets produce fake news and push a liberal, leftist agenda.

21. The exception to item 20 is Fox News. Which despite having higher ratings than most mainstream news outlets is agenda free and not part of “mainstream.”

22. The only facts which are facts are those that I say are facts – regardless of the scientific methodology used to determine other facts.

23. Lists of opinions are as good as facts.

24. Sasquatch and UFOs are fake – but roads can be fixed by cutting taxes!

25. Seriously, people really like cats.

26. No one knows whose picture is on any given piece of U.S. currency but by God don’t change it!

27. It is a confirmed fact that this list is the best list of its kind. There is no better list so you can stop looking now. Really, I mean it, this is the best list and not fake in anyway.

Onward!

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.