Category Archives: Joseph F. Berenato

I Write Because of Harold Ramis

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Harold Ramis died the other day. I never knew the man personally, never had the privilege of meeting him, and knew nothing about his private life. I only know him through his impressive body of work, as a director, writer and actor.

And I write largely because of him.

I couldn’t tell you the first time I saw Ghostbusters. It seems like it’s always been a part of my life. I know I didn’t see it in the theaters, so logically it had to be on home video, sometime in in the first or second grade. And I don’t think I could properly impress upon you the impact that it had on my life.

It was the first film that I could quote, leading to my life-long love of cursing. (The playground aides were none to happy when my 7-year-old friends and I spouted gems like “Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown!”) It was the first movie I watched over and over, repeatedly. And it was the source of the first fiction I’ve ever written.

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The above image is a picture of the script to a routine performed by Tony Ruggerio, Jim Mento and myself in the Stars of ’86 Talent Show at Hammonton Elementary School. In the interests of full disclosure, I didn’t write the whole thing myself; I was seven, after all. My mom acted as typist and had some input, but it was largely mine. It is, as far as I can remember, the very first piece of fiction I ever created.

Why Ghostbusters? Besides the fact that EVERYONE my age loved the movie – and most of us still do – there was one particular character that really resonated with me: Egon Spengler. He was really smart. He had funny hair. And he had glasses. I could totally relate. He built amazing equipment, got to shoot a laser, and chased ghosts for a living. He was living my seven-year-old dream life.

Spengler of course was played by Ramis, who also co-wrote Ghostbusters. So, not only did he play my favorite character in the film, but he also helped create the whole thing. (And, as I’ve learned later in life, was largely responsible for taking the original script and molding it into the classic film that I’ve loved for three decades.)

Writing that script woke something up in me. When we performed the routine, the reception was tremendous. People laughed where they were supposed to, and cheered where I wanted them to cheer. Something that I had written (with mom’s help, of course) had a very real, very positive effect on my entire school. Those of you who write know exactly what feeling I mean. Those of you who don’t write, well… I’m at a loss to describe it.

It’s wonderful.

It put me on the writing track when I was very young. I’ve stumbled a bit along the way, got side-tracked more than once, and have flat-out given up a few times. But I always come back to writing. Because the feeling it gives me, the satisfaction, the joy… there’s nothing like it.

It was a feeling I first had when I was seven.

Because of Ghostbusters.

Because of Harold Ramis.

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My Super Secret Project: REVEALED

I’ve hinted at it for almost a year.  I’ve dropped the occasional clue.  I’ve told you when I’ve been working on it.  And now, finally, I can tell you what it is:

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Edited by Joseph F. Berenato; Essays by Jim BeardJoseph F. BerenatoJulian DariusKeith DeCandidoKevin DilmoreRobert GreenbergerRich HandleyMark MartinezTom MasonDavid McInteeMartín A. PérezAlan J. PorterColin SmithScott TiptonCody Walker, and Dayton Ward; Cover by Patricio Carbajal

On 8 September 1966, visionary futurist Gene Roddenberry introduced the world to a science-fiction TV series that dared to go where none had gone before. Star Trek, with its progressive stance on civil rights, explored not only strange new worlds in the final frontier of space, but also the human condition, revealing the heights to which humans could soar, while exposing the ugliness of racism, sexism, and war. Though canceled after only three seasons, Trek soon returned in syndication, spawning a cult phenomenon that has since expanded to include four follow-up TV series, an animated cartoon, a dozen movies (and counting), and a staggering number of ancillary novels, short stories, and comic books. Once deemed a network failure,Trek survived to become one of the most influential franchises of all time.

Licensed Star Trek fiction has played no small part in that success. Trek comics have enjoyed almost continuous publication since 1967, spanning more than a thousand issues and storylines to date, from Gold Key / Western, City Magazines / IPC, Marvel Comics, Power Records, the L.A. Times Syndicate, DC Comics, Malibu Graphics, WildStorm Productions, Tokypop, IDW Publishing, and Wired Magazine. Quality has varied, from hilariously off the mark (from Gold Key’s efforts and weekly British strips to coloring books and Happy Meals) to wonderfully reverential (DC’s longstanding titles and IDW’s current run). But from one era to the next, the illustrated voyages of the starship Enterprise have continued Star Trek‘s ongoing mission as a Wagon Train to the stars.

New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics examines the long history of Star Trek in the four-color realm, featuring insightful essays from popular Trek comic scribes and novelists, as well as other subject-matter experts. After almost 50 years, the human adventure is still just beginning — find out why Star Trek comics have not only lived long, but prospered.

Coming this year!

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The Greatest Christmas CD Ever!

I have eclectic tastes.  Some days I like Frank.  Some days I like The Monkees.  Some days I like Eminem. Some days I listen to science fiction movie soundtracks.  Some days I listen to musicals.  I’ve never been beholden to any one type of music, because I find that incredibly restrictive.

The same goes for Christmas music.  I have yet to find a single Christmas CD wherein I love every single track on it.  So, every year or two I mix my own.  A little of this, a little of that, and suddenly I have a CD that I can play over and over in my car, filling me with the holiday spirit, as illustrated below.

This year, admittedly, I may have gone a tad overboard.  I’ve got 50 tracks, but each one is solid gold.

Lacking anything better to write about tonight, I present the track listing for the greatest Christmas collection of all time.  The links provided will either send you to Amazon or iTunes, where you can purchase them, or to…other destinations… if they’re not available for purchase.

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Diverse, right?  Fiona Apple doing “Frosty”?  The guy who played Johnny Fontane doing “What Child Is This”?  Annie?!  Trust me.  This is a banging CD.

Disagree with some of my choices?  Did I forget something?  Let me know.  (And if any of you says “Christmas Shoes”, you’re off my friend list.  Permanently.)

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