Patrick Nelson the winner of the Hammond Cheese Contest!

Hero Man by Patrick Nelson

          Sept. 20, 1998

Portrait of Hammond Cheese 10"x8"Buy this painting
I am a superhero. There.  I said it. I have a costume and a lair that doubles as my apartment. I do not, unfortunately, have an arch-nemesis as of yet. That is mainly due to the fact that most arch nemesi (is that the plural form?) are somehow inextricably intertwined to the hero's past or some cathartic event, usually the moments of their origin. I, as of yet, have neither an event nor an origin, but I will wait. I would give examples of this theory, but if this journal were to ever be made public, I fear the lawyers for various comic book publishers would come down upon me with all the wrath of The Mighty Thor or The Incredible Hulk...oops. Note to self: scratch that out later. Besides, these myriad of diligent do-gooders are but ink and paper whereas am a real man of flesh and blood.

I do not have my mortal foe designated to me by fate for I daresay I have not found out what my super power is. That's right. A superhero who doesn't know his power. But I have faith. I can feel the potential welling inside me. The pulse of being more than normal beats so loudly in my heart that I am surprised others cannot hear it.

I must admit that I am afraid. I am afraid of not becoming super at the right moment or, God forbid, too late to make a difference in the world. What if my power manifests itself after the need and someone is injured when I could have saved them? What if my power manifests itself when I am too old to do anything with it? What if it never comes to me at all - no! I must keep my faith. I must stay sure in the knowledge that I am more than the average human.

          July 15, 2002

On the subway home, I almost felt as if it was the time to burst forth from my chrysalis and become the hero I am destined to be: a young woman was being harassed by some hooligans on the train and I was about to emerge from the garb of my alter ego when I stopped dead with paralyzing fear that if this was not the time (as it also had never been before), I would risk making a fool of myself, but more importantly of giving away my identities to the world before it was safe to. It would be seen as a weakness in my career before it had even started. No, it would not do reveal myself before I even had power. All the good superheroes had managed to hide their secret identities for at least a little while before they where forced to reveal it through some crisis or evil doer’s plan. No self respecting crime fighter came out of the gate with everyone, foe and ally knowing who they really were. Really bad form. Fortunately, an old lady managed to use her stun gun on one of them in the groin thus scaring the others away. I was not needed after all. Good work from her, by the way.

          Dec. 13, 2005

I often daydream about what my power will actually be: Invisibility like Mrs. Fantastic? Healing Powers like those of Wolverine? The ability to communicate with our friends of the bestial nature like Animal Man? I am afraid that such musings may not leave me open to the true nature of my ability when it does try to manifest itself. I must steer clear of these flights of fancy for they may constipate my ability to be sensitive to them when they do emerge. Still, won’t it be thrilling?

          Sep. 6, 2007

Oh, how I worry what power I will have! The main item that bothers me is that I will not be able to quickly come up with a nom de guerre. I am sure when the need arises I will leap into action, but after the deed is done someone will invariably query: “who was that costumed saviour?” I hope that I will have the presence of mind to think up something rapidly, flash a charming smile and smoothly deliver my fresh moniker to the awed crowd. I have taken the precaution of writing down a few suitable alternatives and I carry them with me in case my genesis leaves me in a state of shock and therefore unable to think on my feet as it where.

           Sep. 8, 2007

Unfortunately I have laundered the list of superhero names, but i think I can remember the better ones and I will make several copies. Fear not!

          Aug. 22, 2009

I must find a compromise between the freedom and flexibility that tights afford versus the chafing they cause in between one’s thighs due to having to wear them under one’s clothes. Honestly, I must confess that the sensation of the the tight costume against the outer layer of street clothes as they slide across each other is...exhilarating.

          Oct. 30, 2009

I am afraid I may have been discovered: I believe my landlady Mrs. Klostermann is entering my apartment and going through my things when I am out on patrol. Some things have been displaced when I return. The worst, I fear is that she may have discovered this journal, therefore putting my hero status and identity in great peril. If this is the case, PLEASE STOP GOING THROUGH MY THINGS MRS. KLOSTERMANN! It is illegal for you to enter my apartment/lair without a written statement to me at least twenty-four hours prior to your visit! Please do not force me to contact the authorities.

          Feb. 14, 2011
I feel my time for greatness must be at hand, I cannot say specifically why or how I know, I just do. Every day I can feel myself perched upon the edge of greatness. I leave for my daily patrol with a sense of trepidation and great expectation. . .


Sorry this took so long!  I’m in freak out mode trying to prepare for the show and I’ve finally got 95% of the stuff done.

My favorite story was Patrick Nelson’s story.  Again, I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which he says that “All men think they have the potential to become a superhero, all they need is the training or a radioactive spider.”  “Hero Man” by Patrick is a kind of Kafka meets R. Crumb meets Willie Loman kind of superhero.  In some ways, his hero reminds me of my students where I teach, so many of them think they have the potential to become greater than they are, if only. . .  I think I chose it because I feel like I’m living in a Kafkaesque world right now.

The runner up, but only because I had a hard time deciding who was in first place is W.H. Matlack’s “Hammond Cheese Understands God.”  This was a helluva a strong story and had quite the surprising ending.   I think that Matlack’s version of Mr. Cheese is also very similar to who I thought he would be.  The story is not told from Hammond’s point of view and if you read it I think that you’ll see why.  A really great story!

Marlin Bressi’s “Hammond Cheese Pitches a Perfect Game” is a pulp fiction version of “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer.  I think you’ll like the ending.

Royce Ratterman’s “Cheese Spread” was cute (but not overly so) kind of a “Turn of the Screw” meets sandwiched between “The Monkey’s Paw” a “Sort of a Hammond Cheese on Rye.”  I don’t want to give a away the story by giving too many details but it was totally a fun story and well worth a read. 

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