Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why Joel Doesn't Sleep

Believe it or not, I'm still a freelance writer. In fact, I've been busier than ever writing for and prepping for a few new markets that will keep me running for the foreseeable future.

First off, I've submitted a couple of reviews--and built up a testbed for more--to Maximum PC, a site/mag I've been associated with for many years. In fact, way back when it was called boot magazine, I worked on the other side of a partition from the editors during my stint as PC Gamer's first Technical Editor. We used to kick the boot team's asses at CTF in Quake 2. Legends like Sean Cleveland, George Jones, my current editor Michael Brown, and the late and personally influential Andrew Sanchez have all been/still are part of the incredible MaxPC team.

Next, I've recently been awarded a contract position as the "acting" Editor-in-Chief of FiringSquad. My first column is up, and as you may know, this site needs a lot of TLC. Under my reign, it will retake its position as one of the premiere gaming websites in the universe. I have a ton of stuff in store for the site, some of which will go up this week, so keep an eye on it.

I've also been working for PC World with my old ExtremeTech teammate Jason Cross, and I'm in the running to become the Video Game Gear Guide at All the while, I've been writing a steady string of notebook reviews for Computer Shopper. Fun stuff there. 

So yeah, with all that going on, plus family life and attempting to grow a decent crop of tomatoes, I've got a heck of a lot to do lately. That said, I have some writing to do. Peace!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Vincent "Kip" Bianchi

This piece has been a long time coming, primarily because it's been so difficult to write. My uncle Vincent Bianchi, whom I knew as Uncle Kip, and who was also my godfather, died May 24. He lived in Stafford, NY with his wife, Bonnie, and he and was known throughout the world by fishing enthusiasts--more on that later.

Uncle Kip was a magical, larger-than-life figure during my childhood. He was my cool uncle, the one with all the best toys, the most awesome pets, the gnarliest personality. In fact, he was a larger-than-life figure to a great many people, as I'm finding out every day. He let me fire weapons most people never even get to see firsthand; he collected knives and gave me most of the pocketknives I own. When he showed up with a gift, I knew it was going to be fantastic.

My mom's brother, Uncle Kip was my only first uncle on her side. In fact, on her side, most of my great uncles have all passed; I have one left. For the first half of my life, Kip was closer to me than the vast majority of my other extended family members. When his children and I were young, we got together every Christmas eve for great food and a gift exchange. By the time I was old enough to drive, I'd often drive my grandmother out to Stafford to see her son and to hang out, ride Kip's ATVs, shoot a few tracer rounds into the woods, and chill with my cousins Vincent (aka "Hooch") and Rhonda.

After the rigors of adulthood and parenthood took hold, I didn't see Kip as much as I used to. Everyone was busy; there was no time. The Christmas tradition faded away. We failed to connect.

I regret that now, because his death brought on the realization of how much he meant to me.

A couple years ago, Kip was diagnosed with two forms of cancer. With the help of the outstanding doctors at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, he beat one and the other went into remission, but the battle weakened him severely. When the other cancer came back--returned with a fury--there wasn't anything anyone could do. He died at home, his final words being: "I knew a lot of people."

And that he did. After retiring from a painting company he created from the ground up, he pursued with passion his hobby of fishing. He created his own brand of lures, all handmade, called the Glitter Bitch, he participated strongly in the muskie fishing community in the Niagara River area, and he even appeared on fishing shows on ESPN. He also loved animals and owned a number of birds (including Bomba, the coolest parrot ever) and became active in breeding and showing dogs.

I miss Uncle Kip dearly. I offer my love and support to all who remember him fondly, including Bonnie, Hooch, Rhonda, my mom Janice, Kip's grandchildren Nick and Bianca, the kennel and fishing communities, and everyone whose lives he touched.

He knew a lot of people.