Benjaman Kyle Bill Powell

Benjaman Kyle: The Crazy True Story of the Guy Who Lost His Memory

It’s hard to forget the story of Benjaman Kyle, the man found unconscious by a dumpster with no identity, no past, and no way to recover it. Benjaman Kyle’s bizarre tale blew up across the internet for years (I wrote about him here, for instance), as countless people tried to help figure out his identity, or at least get him some form of identification.

Well, in 2015, Benjaman Kyle’s true identity was discovered: William “Bill” Powell. And his past is an interesting tale unto itself.

For those who are interested in reading more about Benjaman’s story, I recently wrote a piece on him for Grunge. Check it out below:

The crazy true story of the guy who lost his memory

Benjaman Kyle Bill Powell

Advertisements

Happy Holidays, 2017!

So the time of the holidays is upon us! Whatever traditions you follow, and/or holidays you happen to celebrate, I hope you all are enjoying the season in whatever way you, your family, and your friends enjoy!

phoenix tree nicholas conley christmas holidays dead tree brought back

As you can see, here in New Hampshire we’ve followed our usual ritual of creating a “Phoenix Tree,” by finding a dead tree in the woods, and “bringing it back to life.” Here is the end result:

Christmas Phoenix tree 2017 nicholas conley holiday dead tree lights white.jpg

So enjoy the season, share good times with everyone you love, and let’s march onward to the next year. Cheers, everyone!

dreidle hanukkah

Clay Tongue Nicholas Conley fantasy

Clay Tongue is up for an award! Also: Intraterrestrial release date confirmed!

So, I have a couple of cool updates to share. First up, Clay Tongue: A Novelette is up for an award!

Clay Tongue fantasy novelette Nicholas Conley

This past weekend, I received notice from Rosie Amber of Rosie’s Book Review Team that her reviewers had nominated Clay Tongue as a finalist for the #RBRT 2016 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Award.  First of all, if any of those reviewers are reading this, I want to offer a huge thank you, and say that I’m honored to receive the nomination; though Clay Tongue is one of my smaller pieces, it’s also a highly personal one that I worked on for years, so it’s touching to know that people connected with Clay Tongue on such a deep level.

Secondly, for those of you who have read Clay Tongue, and who may happen to believe that this little book deserves the award—well, voting is open to the public!  You can place your vote for Clay Tongue at the following link:

The #RBRT Awards: Vote Here!

In the meantime, for those of you who haven’t yet read Clay Tongue: A Novelette, there’s no better time than now, while the holidays are in full swing. Check it out here, on Amazon!

Finally, for those of you who’ve been keeping tabs on Intraterrestrial, my big upcoming novel about aliens, traumatic brain injuries, and the perils of growing up, I’ve got some great news to share: we have a release date! The ebook version of Intraterrestrial will be arriving early next year, on January 16th, 2018. Consider it a New Year’s gift.  Note, the paperback release may have a slightly different release date, so stay tuned. Anyway, that means the new book is about a month away, so buckle your seat belts, and watch this space for lots of teasers, story details, and alien/UFO chitchat over the coming weeks!

alien sky weird ufo nicholas conley intraterrestrial

The ebook version of Intraterrestrial, by Nicholas Conley, will arrive on Earth on January 16, 2018.

NASA black hole space

Have You Experienced the Mandela Effect?

Remember the Berenstein Bears? Even for those who never read the books, the characters are such a huge part of pop culture that everyone has heard of them. There’s just one problem: they are actually the BerenstAin Bears, and we’ve been spelling it wrong this whole time.

Berenstein Berenstain Bears computers mandela

As Vice explains, this bizarre realization is due to something called the Mandela Effect, wherein a huge amount of people collectively “remember” something that doesn’t mesh with reality. While the common sense explanation is that “BerenstAin” is simply a less familiar name to Western audiences than BerenstEin would be, there are those who believe that this is actually a glitch in the Matrix, the ultimate sign that parallel universes exist, and that those who who think it was BerenstEin at some point slipped into this reality without realizing it.

Oops. Maybe that explains John Titor?

I can’t say I’m a believer in the idea that my Berenstein memories are the result of some reality-hopping shenanigans, but we live in a weird universe, so who knows. Either way, as someone who got weirded out by the BerenstAin thing when I first read it, it’s fun to spot other examples of the so-called Mandela Effect. Here are a few you might have noticed:

fruit loops froot loops mandela

Froot Loops spells its name with two Os, formed by pieces of the cereal. It is not, and has never been, “Fruit” Loops. Hey, nobody ever said that toucans knew how to spell.

Sinbad Shazam Genie movie

No, Sinbad never played a genie in a nineties movie called Shazaam, though lots of people seem to think they saw such a film when they were younger. Most likely, this is due to people misremembering a real 1996 genie movie, Kazaam, where the ancient magical being was played by Shaquille O’Neal. Sinbad has spoken at length about the fact that people always seem to think he starred in a movie that never really happened, and the theory grew popular enough that College Humor made its own version for an April Fools prank in 2017.

Street Sharks Roxie

You probably never watched Street Sharks, a lesser-known Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles imitator which followed a crew of mutant shark vigilantes who all had a notable disdain for pizza, but liked eating everything else. However, a lot of people seem to recall a female shark character named Roxie… who never existed.

As it happens, this false collective memory is the result of a middle school prank by writer Jordan Minor, who finally spilled the beans in a 2016 editorial on Geek.com. Basically, back in the early 2000s, he was the editor for the TVTome.com page for Street Sharks,  and he filled the page with fake information. Ironically, some people “remember” the made-up character of Roxie as their favorite (or least favorite) part of the show.

What about you folks? Any reality slips happening? Do you have any examples of when you were impacted by the Mandela Effect?

Spider-Man Homecoming Marvel Cinematic Universe

Spider-Man: Homecoming: Spins a Web, Any Size

Somehow I managed to make it all the way to November without sharing my thoughts on Spider-Man: Homecoming. Don’t ask me how. I talk about Spider-Man all the time, even when I’m just reviewing totally bizarre Spider-Man knockoff games. I thought I’d already blogged about Spidey’s newest cinematic outing, but I guess not, so here goes.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is fantastic. It’s the best big screen Spidey outing since Sam Raimi left the series, and while it doesn’t quite achieve the heights of Spider-Man 2, it does successfully rebuild this character for a new generation.

Spider-Man Homecoming boat Marvel Peter Parker Iron Man

There are three key factors that make the movie work as well as it does. The first, and most important, is that the film knows its message, and it gets that message across clearly. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a story about young adulthood, and the awkward growing pains of a teenager trying to find his way in the world, while coming to understand that his actions have a real impact on others.

Following in the footsteps of past creators like Lee, Raimi, and Bendis, this movie uses Peter’s Spider-Man adventures as a superheroic representation of the more relatable coming of age story that Peter must go through. What makes this particular Spider-Man stand out is that he really is a kid: he’s only a few years past puberty, inexperienced, impulsive, scared, barely knows what he’s doing. Peter has a big heart and a genuine enthusiasm for helping people, but he has a lot to learn.

Though Uncle Ben’s “great power, great responsibility” mantra isn’t recited, this classic concept is the unspoken theme of every scene in the film. Even when you’re laughing at Peter’s jokes or swinging between buildings with him, Spider-Man: Homecoming always reminds you that actions have consequences. There are multiple occasions where Peter swoops in to save the day, totally unprepared, causing catastrophic situations to occur that risk real lives. Even when he successfully stops a supervillain, saving innocent lives, it leads to the equally real lives getting shattered, as the villain’s loved ones must then grapple with what happened. Every glory is bittersweet, every failure followed by another one, but Peter keeps going, staying true to the very themes that have always made Spider-Man’s story so universal.

Perhaps due to this focus, Homecoming nails the feeling of being a teenager in a way  that prior movies didn’t quite capture. It’s often funny, but there’s a serious undercurrent of anxiety and social pressure lingering beneath the humor. Peter is at the age where he feels ready to prove himself, to be considered an adult, just like anyone his age does — but he’s still young at heart. He gets scared when he’s too high up. He doesn’t know if he’s going to survive when the Vulture drags him into the sky. He’s a hero the audience can’t help but love and relate to.

Spider-Man Homecoming Tom Holland Marvel

That’s why the second factor that knocks this movie out of the park is, of course, Tom Holland, the Spider-Man of a new generation. Holland portrays a young Peter Parker who feels ripped straight off the comic book page. The sequence where Holland really shines is in a scene adapted from the “Master Planner” story in the comics.

The third factor that makes the movie so terrific is Michael Keaton, the Vulture. Adrian Toomes has been a favorite villain of mine in the comics since “Funeral Arrangements,” a lesser-known Spectacular Spider-Man by J.M. DeMatteis and Sal Buscema. Vulture’s come within striking distance of the big screen on many occasions, but the wait was worth it. Keaton’s Vulture is one of the most interesting MCU villains to date.

Vulture Michael Keaton Spider-Man Toomes Marvel

To explain why the Vulture works so well, I’ll just quote my own answer to a question that was posted on Quora, regarding which Spider-Man movie villain was the best. To read my full answer, check out this link, but here’s the part regarding the Vulture:

Having just seen Spider-Man: Homecoming last night, I’m honestly willing to say that Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture gets a firm second place. As a villainous presence, Vulture is like a horrifying creature of the night, both unstoppable and deadly… but at the same time, the man behind the wings is revealed to be very human, very realistic, with beliefs that are understandable and relate deeply to contemporary times, even if his actions themselves are pretty horrendous and immoral. He’s a hardworking guy just trying to support his family, but he won’t flinch about killing anyone who gets in his way.

What makes both of these villains work so well is how they play off of Peter Parker himself. The key to what makes Spider-Man such a great character is that he’s the everyman, the working class superhero, the awkward regular guy who gets super powers. Both Molina’s Otto Octavius and Keaton’s Adrian Toomes also seem like regular people, with real lives and real goals they care about, both of whom just happen to fall on the wrong side of the tracks.

Homecoming doesn’t top Spider-Man 2, if only because the new film doesn’t grapple with the themes of despair, guilt, and bittersweet failure that Raimi did so beautifully. However, that’s to be expected: while Spider-Man 2 showed an older Peter who’d been wearing the webs for a few years, this new Peter is just getting his footing. He’s only fought one supervillain, and hasn’t even been tortured by the Daily Bugle yet.

So, needless to say, Holland’s Spidey certainly has some tough challenges ahead of him. But as seen in this movie, he also has a heart of gold — just like the comic book character — and it’s going to be an absolute thrill to see him return when Avengers: Infinity War rolls around.

coffee beans

Entering the Age of the Aeropress

Okay, sorry guys, but I have to indulge in these total coffee nerd moments every once in a while. Thanks for understanding.

To me, coffee is far more than just a pleasurable drink. It’s an experience. It’s a mood. It’s a feeling that can take you to the greatest depths of creative passion, a force that can pull you through the hardest, most painful times, or a source of stimulation that makes an interesting conversation even better. That’s why Coffee Moments™ are so great.

If you’re not a fan, then I’ve seen that tea is the same way for many people. Either way, I’m all about the hot beverages.

While any coffee lovers knows the importance of poking your head into a third wave coffee shop with some degree of regularity, it’s also important to have some sort of home setup, even if that setup pales in comparison to what the coffee shops offer. For me, I’ve spent the last couple of years preparing most of my morning cups with a V-60 pour over. Pour overs are one of the most convenient coffee preparation methods, and something I’d definitely recommend for most people, both coffee aficionados and newcomers alike.

However, as of last month, a new era in my life has begun: meet the AeroPress.

Aeropress coffee Nicholas Conley

I’m amazed that I went this long without investigating the AeroPress, and now, I’m madly in love with it. It’s fast, thorough, and prepares an absolutely fantastic cup of coffee. What more could a person ask for? There are a couple of different preparation methods, but my preference is for the “inverted” method.

For more information, check out the official AeroPress site. If you’re a coffee fan, you won’t regret it. Trust me. And if you’ve already been using the AeroPress for some time, cheers.

Roswell alien nicholas conley

Let’s Talk About Aliens, UFOS, and All That

Extraterrestrial aliens have always fascinated me, and that interest is one of the big factors that inspired me to write my upcoming science fiction novel, Intraterrestrial.

When I say “aliens,” I don’t mean just the bumpy-headed ones in Star Trek, either, but also the standard grey guys, the glowing surreal ones, and even the weird lights in the sky. I spent most of my earliest years in Sedona, Arizona, which calls itself an international “dark-sky community” because of low light pollution: basically, that means that when you stare up into those desert skies, you see an absolutely mind-blowing array of stars.

I looked up into those stars a lot, when I was young. And I wondered, just like everyone wonders.

Ufo flying saucer nicholas conley aliens

While I’ve never actually seen any evidence in my own lifetime that convinced me of an extraterrestrial presence here on Earth, I’ve always kept my mind open to whatever new twist might come around the corner. After all, to rule out the possibility would be arrogance. Hey, you never know.

One thing is for sure: whether they’ve ever been here to Earth or not, there definitely has to be something out there. There are a lot of planets throughout the universe, so to think that we’re all alone would be the height of solipsism. The question is what, exactly, another living species that evolved under completely different conditions would really be like —  and that’s a question that I set out to explore in Intraterrestrial.

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book aliens tbi brain injury

There’s still some time before Intraterrestrial starts ramping up for its release date, and as that time approaches, we’ll keep talking some more about aliens, what sort of form they might take, and so on.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in reading more of my thoughts on a certain major UFO conspiracy, I have an article out on Grunge that dissects the infamous “Roswell Incident,” studying how it started, how it grew after the release of the supposedly classified “Majestic 12” incident, and what the official word on it is. If you’re interested, give it a read here: The Untold Truth of Roswell

Let’s back up a bit, though, because aliens weren’t always such a cultural zeitgeist. Once upon a time, some strange events set off the UFO craze as we know it. In order to track America’s alien obsession all the way down to its glowing green roots, we’re going back to the 1940s, on the day when a bizarre crash landing forever redefined Roswell, then just an everyday city in New Mexico. Here’s the full story.

Read More: http://www.grunge.com/93986/untold-truth-roswell/?utm_campaign=clip

Roswell alien nicholas conley

Also, readers! I’m interested to hear from you.

What do you guys think about the possibility of extraterrestrial life? Have you ever seen a UFO, yourself? If so, share your stories!