Tag Archives: superman

Wish Fulfillment in Stories

Image courtesy of www.luckymoney.net.

While working on my new podcast, Kaijuvision Radio, I re-learned that one of the appeals of fiction—particularly genre fiction—is wish fulfillment. Not just for readers/viewers but for creators as well.

You might be thinking this is a bad thing; a sign of someone living in a fantasy world. While I acknowledge that’s true in some cases, I’d also argue that it speaks to a deeper, nobler desire within people’s hearts.

In the podcast, my co-host, Brian Scherschell, and I were talking about the alien invasion plot in 1966’s Invasion of Astro-Monster (aka Godzilla vs. Monster Zero). The heroes, most of them non-military types, band together to repel invaders from Planet X. The audience is able to see themselves in those characters and live vicariously through them for 90 minutes because they understand what it means to protect what is theirs. For those living in countries that have been successfully invaded, it’s satisfying for them to defeat invaders. Americans, on the other hand, have a huge independent streak in them, and they will do what it takes to preserve their freedom.

Wish fulfillment can also come in the form of seeing characters do things one wishes he could do but can’t, which makes it a form of escapism. These could range from things that are impossible (flying like Superman, for example) to things that are possible but unlikely (like captaining a ship). In these cases, the stories could become inspirational. One can’t soar under his own power like Supes, but one could become a pilot. One may not be a ship captain, but he could become one, even if it’s only on his own private yacht.

I realized recently that even romance stories have elements of wish fulfillment. The audience wishes they could have relationships as exciting, sensual, and committed as the ones in those tales because it seems impossible to find true love in real life.

It’s in these cases that wish fulfillment speaks to someone’s inner character and desires. Maybe they can’t “leap tall buildings in a single bound” but they can still be heroic, even if it’s in a small way. They know something isn’t right in the world and want to make it better. They could volunteer at a soup kitchen or go on a missions trip. They can love the way they want to be loved. They can make their wishes a reality, and by doing so, inspire others.

I’ve heard countless stories of people who became engineers, doctors, and writers because of Star Trek. They saw characters like Scotty doing cool things in the Enterprise’s engine room and decided on their career field. Now, while they aren’t exploring the galaxy, they’re creating fantastic new technologies. That’s the inspirational power wish fulfillment can have.

It can also be a mirror into oneself. If one finds himself reveling in Superman’s abundant superpowers because he wants to have power over others, it should give him pause for concern. I’ve known people with power fantasies like that. It always makes them weaker because they don’t aspire to do greater things. I pity them.

What do you think, readers? Is wish fulfillment in fiction good or bad? Why? What are some examples from your favorite stories?

But I Digress…, Episode 35: A Review of ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’

“But I Digress…”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand

“And there came a day unlike any other”–

Oops. Wrong company and franchise. 😛

Anyway, in this episode I review DC’s much-hyped Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. But I’m not alone. I’m joined once again by my buddy Sergio. Guess which one of us liked the movie and which of us didn’t.

(By the way, Sergio’s awful couch makes skinny people look fat and fat people look…fatter). 😜

Please subscribe, comment, and share! Thanks!

My text review of the movie.

My (Overdue) Alma-Con Report

I’m getting into a bad habit of not blogging in a timely fashion. Or on time. My friend/co-author Eric Anderson definitely kicked my butt on this one since he blogged about it two weeks ago! Hence why you’re getting this and another blog today.

Anyway, Eric asked me to join him at Alma-Con, a small but growing anime/fandom convention held at Alma College in Alma, Michigan (seeing a pattern here?) 😛 He purchased a table to promote his nerd/geek outreach ministry, Nerd Chapel, but he was selling copies of our devotional book, 42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom, so he wanted me present. He’d asked me to attend other cons with him, but I wasn’t able to make it, so this was exciting.

What follows will be similar to write Eric wrote about, but we did have some different experiences.

I arrived an hour or so after the con began. The vendors’ hall—at least the one we were in—was only open for a few more hours. Not much happened while I was there except we met a panelist (whose name escapes me) who saw the title of our book and said, “That sounds like something Vic would say.”

Quoting Korath from Guardians of the Galaxy, I said, “Who?”

He explained he was friends with Vic Mignogna, a popular anime voice actor (among other things). I was surprised to (re)learn that Vic was a Christian and went to panels to discuss faith in anime. This gentleman, Eric and I learned, was a practitioner of sect of Buddhism strangely similar to Christianity. He shared his story of how he came to this faith. He said he’d come back later to talk with us, but sadly, he never came. (If you’re reading this, please contact Eric and/or I!)

Eric (right) and I (left) as Martian Manhunter and Superman, respectively.
Eric (right) and I (left) as Martian Manhunter and Superman, respectively.

Saturday was the long day. Eric and I cosplayed. He was Martian Manhunter and I was Superman. I enjoyed wearing the costume because I’ve gotten into better shape since the last time I wore it, and given that it’s, well, spandex, I was glad for that. The most interesting stories that came from that day was meeting a young man who was a member of the “Church of Satan,” yet they didn’t worship Satan or even believe he existed, which was interesting. While Eric was gone, though, a belligerent cosplayer dressed as some blue-haired anime mad scientist (or something) came over and proceeded to insult me and denigrate Christianity while in character. I wasn’t sure what to think of it, so I just ran with it and smiled.

Two Alma College students were kind enough to give Eric and I their lunches from their meal plans, so we got some food from the college diner, Joe’s.

The Alma College students who kindly offered their lunches to us.
The Alma College students who kindly offered their lunches to us.

I, too, wandered around. It was then I learned one of my few gripes with the con: the buildings it was held in were too far apart. It was a Michigan winter, so obviously it was cold, and tights provide little protection against such weather. I did go check out the other artists and vendors, and as usual, I had to refrain from buying a bunch of stuff (including a book self-publishing comic books). I did purchase a replica of the fob watch used by David Tenant in two episodes of Doctor Who, though. It went great with my cosplay.

Speaking of which, once the vendor hall closed for the day, I changed into my 10th Doctor cosplay. Eric and I got dinner at Joe’s, where we met a fellow Whovian/cosplayer.

The fob watch I bought for my 10th Doctor cosplay.
Me with a fellow Whovian cosplayer.
Me with a fellow Whovian cosplayer.

We then went to see MacSith, a play performed by a traveling theatre troupe from Chicago. It is Shakespeare’s MacBeth if it took place in the Star Wars universe. It. Was. FANTASTIC! It combined two of my favorite things—Shakespeare and Star Wars—in a seamless and wonderful fashion. Thankfully, I don’t have to describe it all to you since, unlike most theatre, they allowed (non-flash) photography and video to be taken. The costumes, the fight choreography, the little Star Wars flavoring to the original dialogue—it was amazing.

Sadly, I couldn’t say the same for the next event Eric and I attended. It was billed as a “masquerade ball.” Since we’ve had ballroom dance training, we were interested in going to this unlike the rave that was held the night before. The con program even said there was a dress code, and the organizers reserved the right to turn people away if they didn’t abide by it (hence my 10th Doctor cosplay). But when we arrived, this “ball” was essentially a rave with fancier clothes and no glow sticks. Seriously. The attendees broke off into a few cliques like this was a school cafeteria and gyrate to the music…sometimes. The liveliest they got was during a line dance I didn’t know. I asked the DJs to play “Tank!” by the Seatbelts, which is the theme song to Cowboy Bebop, since the Pokemon theme song was played earlier—and almost nobody got excited! “Haven’t they seen this show?” I wondered. The kicker, though, was every girl Eric and I asked to dance either didn’t know how or flat-out turned us down. The best I could get was doing a line dance when “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show played, and even then people didn’t seem that excited and even fewer knew the line dance, so I wasn’t able to learn it. Eric and I left after an hour.

Seriously, Alma-Con. If you say it’s a “masquerade ball,” make it a masquerade ball! You have a swing dance group on campus: try appealing to them a bit better to run this event.

::steps down from soapbox::

The next day was gonna feature our big event: the Nerd Chapel worship service…

…and nobody came. L

So Eric and I shared communion and I recorded his sermon (which, come to think of it, I need to send to him to post online…).

I left soon afterward so I could return in time to go to work that evening.

All in all, not a bad weekend.

Breaking Down the Wall

I shouldn’t be writing this blog post. No, really. I have a short story whose deadline is the end of next month. It’s for an anthology a fellow writer is assembling. I started it last night. I should be working on that. Why am I not? I’m stuck. Call it “writer’s block,” if you want, but I can’t get the story going.

Every writer, if he’s honest, will admit that while he loves the craft, there is always a part of writing that is most difficult for him. Personally, I’ve noticed I usually have the most trouble starting a story. This isn’t always true (I drilled out last week’s flash fiction in less than 30 minutes, I think), and sometimes I overcome that initial difficulty faster than others, but it still tends to be the hardest point in a story for me. The ideas are swirling in my head like overzealous bees locked in a hive, but when I stare at that blank page, silence falls. (Gotta love unintentional Doctor Who references). Suddenly those bees don’t want out. I managed to crank out a few hundred words, but it was a chore and I hated most of them.

However, when I get past that initial “block” and find the story’s rhythm and voice—it’s like dancing with a whirlwind. Characters come alive; descriptions jump off the page; and settings envelope my mind’s eye until they become my mini-world. It is glorious! I live for times like that. All writers do.

But in order to get into that “zone,” I need to break through that first wall. Some days I can smash through it like Superman (which is funny because I have a Supes costume—maybe I should wear it during those hard days!). Other times, I’m a mere mortal who bruises his shoulder while constantly running into the wall hoping to find a weak spot. Regardless of whether I smash through the quickly or not, it’s a triumph, for out of the white-hot throes of creative energy a new story is birthed. This one I’m working on in particular is one I’m excited about. I just need to get break down the wall.

Now, where’s my Superman costume? 😛

What’s your “wall” in writing? Let’s discuss it in the comments.

Gen-Con 2013, Day 3: Never-Ending Battle Against Evil

(Continued from day 2).

My apologies, True Believers! I did my best to try to post a daily update on my Gen-Con exploits, but busyness and sleep deprivation joined forces to prevent me. 🙁

Regardless, I shall regale with with more stories.

I operated on the least amount of sleep–5 1/2 hours, at most–this day. I was slightly loopy and I think I slurred my words a few times. Thankfully, adrenaline and the copious creativity managed to fuel me the entire day.

My cosplay was Superman. Capt. Charisma said it was a “bold costume” (I’m not sure what he meant by that). It’s a good thing since, as you’ll soon read, I “battled” two nefarious characters.

After manning my table for around an hour, I joined Eric for a swing dance lesson. Along the way, I met young woman who had designed her own TARDIS dress and a white Dalek. This resulted in a deadly stare down. Anyway, as for the lessons, it was very fun. I met several interesting girls, including one named Susan. She was a lot of fun to dance with. The lesson itself was taught by a local dance teacher, who called himself a “raging geek.” It covered the same steps I already knew, but like I said, it was still fun.

On the way back to my table, I saw the now completed gigantic balloon sculpture of Cthulhu, which had been made by a talented artist. I couldn’t risk the opportunity for a photo-op.

With Superman (me) here, we stand a chance against the evil Elder God!
With Superman (me) here, we stand a chance against the evil Elder God!

After snapping a few more pictures of cosplayers, I returned to my table. That afternoon I met a young man who could solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute. I have the video to prove it (it’ll be part of a “highlight reel” I’m editing).

DSCN5945That doesn’t compare to the 4-year-old  little girl I met. Her name was Darcy. Walking with her mother and two siblings, she saw the kobold sculpture on my fellow writer Edward J. Russell’s table and thought it was a dinosaur. I seized the opportunity to say, “Do you like dinosaurs?” and pointed at Destroyer. She got excited, so I said she needed to get her mom to buy it for her. I even told her to give her the pouty face, which she did. Then she looked at Pandora’s Box and said, “A ‘Halo’ book!” Then at The Day After and said, “A teddy bear!” I spent several minutes talking with Darcy and her family, always trying to get Darcy to convince her mother to buy a book for her. It almost worked, I think. I took a few pictures with her and her siblings before they left. At least I entertained them.

I had another writing seminar at 3pm with Michael A. Stackpole. This was one on writing a successful book series. While I realized I may have taken this one the year before, I ran into my friend Becky Blomberg while I was in it. When we stepped out, I met her friend Kate, who was dressed as a ranger, complete with facepaint. After a few photos, I returned to my table.

Lyric and Lyssa from the Dwarven Tavern came to me with their father, saying they needed to interview right then, which I obliged. They were some of the coolest people I met the entire convention.

Saturday night my big event was the Five Year Mission show, so I changed into my Capt. Kirk costume again and headed to the Westin Hotel. Along the way, I met a kid dressed as Link from “Legend of Zelda,” who was playing an ocarina. While I took a few pictures, I kid you not, a Joker cosplayer sat next to me and started meditating! (I love insane crossovers!)

Music DOES soothe the savage beast!
Music DOES soothe the savage beast!

I talked with a pair of girls standing outside the ballroom was being held in, and I learned they were helping the band. Not only that, I learned one of them was engaged to a member of the band. In fact, she had started as a fangirl! It was a wonderful “nerd love”: story. I talked with the other while waiting for the doors to open and inadvertently became the start of the line–a line that stretched around the hall! The crowd had to be twice the size of the one from last year’s show.

Me (center) with Five Year Mission.
Me (center) with Five Year Mission.

This year, the band had an opening act: a rapper named Andy D. All I’ll say about him is that I didn’t care for him. Regardless, I was happy to see Five Year Mission take the stage. They played several new songs from their upcoming album, along with some of my favorites from the CD I bought last year. However, while last year they selected an audience member to be the Gorn, now the lizard creature is their mascot. He wandered the ballroom, watching the show and interacting with fans–including me! I’d been running around taking photos and videos, and I saw him coming down the aisle, so I snapped a photo. He even stopped to pose. I stepped aside and motioned for him to go by, but he instead attacked me! I (gently) punched him, neglecting to do the trademark Kirk double-fist swing (which might’ve worked), but to no avail. Finally, I ducked down. He showed mercy (I guess the band did reform him) and walked on.

The best moment of the show was when they re-enacted the fight between Kirk and Spock in the episode “Amok Time” during the song for that episode (which I;m listening to as I write this, ironically). These guys are such fun, and they love their fans.

I met up with Eric and Darrin. During our walk back to the parking garage, I ask We were ed Darrin how he did in the HeroScape tournament, which he told me was the national tourney for the game. He won it! Yes, I am friends with the national HeroScape champion (who’s too humble to brag). He defeated the longtime reigning champ in the semifinals. The prize was the increasingly rare first master set for the game. As he told me what happened, I felt like the three of us needed mugs of root beer to clink together like vikings in Valhalla.

We did our best to get to sleep earlier than usual at the hotel. We were sorta successful.

(Continued in day 4).

But I Digress…, Episode 13: My Review of ‘Man of Steel’

“But I Digress…”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand

(My apologies for posting this late. YouTube was giving me issues).

It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! It’s Nate Marchand!

Superman, the world’s most famous superhero, made his grand return to the big screen after a seven-year absence in “Man of Steel.” But is the movie more powerful than a locomotive? Being a “superfan” myself, I review the film–after doing some “superhero-ing” myself.

You can read my text review of the film on my Superhero Examiner page here: http://www.examiner.com/review/it-s-a-bird-it-s-a-plane-it-s-a-good-superman-reboot.

Please rate, subscribe, comment, and share!


No Superman because YouTube is stupid


I was going to post a new episode of my vlog, “But I Digress…,” which is a review of the new Superman film, Man of Steel, but YouTube won’t let me. Or rather, it makes my video bug out and gets muted at the same place every time I uploaded it. I don’t know if it’s because the video’s encoding is corrupted (it plays fine on my laptop) or if YouTube is being a jerk because I used two pieces of Superman music. Those are the only explanations I can think of. If it’s the latter, what’s the problem? I’m using them to promote the new film and do some comedy! Last I heard, that was allowed in copyright law.

Regardless, this isn’t the first time I’ve had issues posting videos on YouTube. I did e-mail their customer support, but I have no idea if that will help.

I’m to the point where I think I may start posting videos elsewhere, even if it means I won’t get as much exposure. Perhaps I’ll find a video plug-in for WordPress. I also hear good things about Vimeo. Or YouTube will fix things. Who knows what where my future videos will find their home?

If I did “move ” I wouldn’t abandon my YouTube channel. I’d use it for previews of my videos, or perhaps for personal videos. Only time will tell.

Until then, please be patient as I figure out how and where to get my new vlog posted.

NaPoWriMo 2013: Days 13 & 14: ‘Superman’ and ‘Captain America’

I wasn’t able to find time to do yesterday’s prompt, which was to take a walk and then write a poem based on what I saw. However, since I missed it, I decided to write two poems today. I also did it because today’s prompt excited me. It was to write a persona poem in the voice of a superhero. (What’s interesting is I wrote a poem about the Avengers last year, and now it’s a prompt!) As I said, I wrote two, one for each of my top two favorite superheroes. I’m not sure how good they are, but I hope you enjoy them.

Artwork by Alex Ross
Artwork by Alex Ross

Day 13:
By Nathan Marchand

Some call me, “Hero.”
Many call me, “Loser.”
I’m faster than a speeding bullet,
More powerful than a locomotive,
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
I could rule mankind, but I’d rather serve them.
But to them, I am too good to be true.
Their “heroes” brood and kill.
They can understand them.

But I am the Man of Tomorrow.
I am who they wish to become,
Who they could one day become.
Deep in their hearts, they yearn for greatness.
They see me, and see who they aspire to be.
Perhaps that’s why they scoff at me:
They fear they can’t reach these heights.
If they will only cast aside all that hinders,
They will believe any man can fly.

Day 14:
Captain America
By Nathan Marchand

Once, I was a soldier fighting for freedom,
A weakling granted incredible power.
Now, I am a man out of time
Who awoke from a frozen slumber
To find the world had moved on—
And my country had changed.
Ideals, morals, and patriotism are scorned.
The freedoms I defended are surrendered.
The line between right and wrong is blurred.

I am a relic of a bygone era, a forgotten symbol.
I punched out Hitler, but I can’t knock out cynicism.
No longer do I wear the flag of America the country
But of America the ideal: the nation she was and could be.
To forget that would mean the Red Skull won,
It just took a few extra decades.
I am a soldier without a country, but I still have a cause.
To fight for the restoration of the land I love.
Let all who oppose my shield yield!

The Discarded Gift

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Here’s the Christmas short story I promised. As I said earlier this week, it’s set in the small Midwestern town of Vienna, a place created by my friend and fellow writer, Nick Hayden. (Nick has ideas for his half of the story exchange percolating as I write, but I don’t know when he’ll have it done).

Just like Nick’s other Vienna, USA stories, this one is based loosely on an actual event. When Nick’s mother was in high school, a boy asked her out by climbing their hometown’s water tower and spray-painting her name on it. Besides that, many of the other details are cobbled together from my own experiences living near many small towns in Indiana (the comic shop and pizzeria are amalgams of several such places I’ve frequented). Speaking of the comic shop, I created that place (and the most of the characters seen or mentioned there) the first time I wrote a Vienna story back when Nick created this town as the setting for a serial called Cobblestones. Maybe I’ll post that story sometime. Ironically, it was called “The Gift.”

Anyway, take a break from your busy holiday schedule and enjoy this story. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

(FYI: If you’re reading this on the main page, click the title above so you’ll see the pagination).


The Discarded Gift
By Nathan Marchand

            The Mayans predicted the world would end today, and now Calvin Clark was wishing they were right.

            The cold night air bit his cheeks as he stepped out of the door, the fresh snow crunching under his dress shoes. It had been a long, tiring day at the offices of the ironically named Crook and Straus Law Office. It seemed all the Scrooges in Vienna—maybe even the whole county—wanted to file or settle all their lawsuits the last week before Christmas.

            I’m so sick of working here, thought Calvin as he buttoned up his navy blue wool trench coat over his suit. All I do is stare at papers documenting people’s petty squabbles. And if I hear one more “Clark the clerk” joke, they’ll be prosecuting a murder case! He pulled an equally-blue sock cap over his earthy hair, thinking, I didn’t go to college for this.

            Since he forgot his gloves, Calvin stuffed his hands into his pockets, and his freezing fingers rediscovered the pockets’ contents. He sighed, slumping his shoulders. Out of his right pocket he produced crinkled piece of yellow paper, which he unfolded. Written at the top in his legible but messy handwriting was, “Maria’s Christmas List.” He had drawn his little sister’s name in the family gift exchange, and she would be coming home on break from college in Florida.

            I’ve been so busy, I forgot to get her anything. I better do it now before she arrives tomorrow.

            Calvin pocketed the list again and started walking down the sidewalk. Downtown Vienna was only a few blocks away. His sister loved the quaint shops and avoided the Wal-Mart as much as she could, so he knew that would be the best place to buy gifts for her. While it was already six o’clock, most of the stores would be staying open a little later for last-minute shoppers like him.

            I’ll get the gifts and come back here for my car.

            The crowds thickened, the Christmas music amplified, and traffic congested the closer Calvin got to downtown. It was the annual Christmas on Main Street Celebration. He heard music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which was undoubtedly blaring from Mozart’s Music. The smells of freshly baked cookies and bread wafted through the icy air. The laughter of people young and old blended into a joyous noise. A rainbow of flashing colors from the thousands of lights splashed across the snow, making the cold powder sparkle, as he neared Main Street.

            It was then Calvin’s gait slowed. His feet felt heavier with each step. Finally, he stopped as he came to the corner of Main and Schett Streets. He hung his head. For a moment, he just stood there, breathing in cold air and breathing out mists that seemed to envelope him like a dark cloud.

            He wanted to shut out everything around him.

            I thought I could do this, but…

            He clenched white-knuckle fists in his pockets and gritted his teeth behind closed lips.

            Just go!

            He straightened, took a deep breath, and rounded the corner.

            Main Street was a Christmas card brought to life. Snow was piled along the edges of the cobblestone street and the sidewalks. Lights flashed. The night was illuminated. Wreaths hung on every door and every street lamp. Children, clad in their thick coats and earmuffs, dragged their parents into Candy’s Candies and Toyland, among other shops. Young couples nuzzled and cuddled on every bench. This last image pricked Calvin’s heart.

            If that was all there was, Calvin could have handled it. But he barely walked half-a-block before he heard the sound of the clip-clop of horseshoes against the cobblestones behind him. He stopped in front of Josie’s Just Desserts, bracing himself. He had hoped farmer Griffith was not bringing his horses in for the holiday carriage rides that night. That was obviously what the young couples on the benches were waiting for. The clatter came up beside him on the right. Then it stopped.

            He glanced over.

            There she was.