Who Is Mike Bennett?
(last update 25 Aug 2015)
My name is J. Michael Bennett (usually known as simply “Mike”, “Doctor Future”or just “Hey idiot, get out of my way!”). Many know me by the strange name “Doctor Future” for a curious radio show called Future Quake that I hosted in recent years. For initial voyagers catching this inaugural entry here, the following as a “quick and dirty” summary of who I am.
I was raised in a blue collar family in a lower income section on the outskirts of downtown Louisville, Kentucky, in a 1920’s era home in which my father (born in 1931) was raised. He was a machinist for International Harvester (a “real job” with “real skills”, unlike me), belonged to a union, picketed when called, and lost his job when the factory closed in the early 1980s, choosing to live simply for his remaining days rather than relocating (his lack of obsession on a work career as his identity must have rubbed off on me). My mother worked on and off full or part-time in the office at the elementary school across the street. I was blessed to have a father home every night (rather than traveling like many fathers), although due to our somewhat frugal circumstances he was usually busy with his head under the hood of the many cars in our driveway, keeping them running, or odd jobs around the house (additional skills I didn’t pick up from him). Mom and Dad raised me faithfully in the Christian faith, and we attended the same small Southern Baptist church my parents help start as congregants (my dad served as a deacon for most of my upbringing).
Our dinner table was not filled with phony spiritual discussions like in the Christian movies these days (rather discussing gross topics, telling jokes or having my older brother or sister picking on me (or vice versa) to get my father to laugh), but my folks demonstrated their faith by their faithful church attendance, faithfulness to each other and their kids, service at church and helping those in hospitals and nursing homes – a lost art in today’s crowd. I particularly remember Dad writing that tithe check every week before church, even when I know money was tight. Their lifestyle of Christian love was what stuck with me much more than words. I think my sister and I spent most of our growing years in the funeral home (my brother (twelve years older than me) always seemed to be somewhere else), and I guess cadavers were our regular companions, in a way.
My Dad was always my image of what God the Father was like – slow to speak or judge, infinitely patient, and not self-serving; it was always amazing that he picked the piece of candy that none of us kids liked. Dad has the kind of calmness that makes him excel at golf (even hitting a number of strokes under his age numerous times, a very rare feat), and at parenting (he never tried brain surgery, to my knowledge). Dad always knew what to do, and seemed to do it right every time (or knew how to keep it quiet when he didn’t); I remember once when he wanted to cut a slot in a vertical wooden pole in a pole barn to attach a horizontal timber above our heads, and grabbed a chainsaw and eyeballed where to cut the slot, and when we put it in place, of course it was perfectly level. When we picked up a wooden board together (which honestly I helped him very little), I always went the opposite direction he was going; that tells you how helpful I was. Dad tried his best to show me how to be a responsible man that meets his duties; he was only marginally successful with me, but how messed up I would have been without him! Mom always told me that I was “special” (I guess moms are good at that), and encouraged me to do creative things that may have even seemed silly to my dad, like writing my own comic strips and comic books when I was four years old and older, or doing dramatic plays and the like. Mom and I shared a love of 99 cent Totinos pizzas and professional wrestling on Saturday mornings in Louisville; we would even practice “drop kicking” each other afterwards until I would hurt myself (she was 5 foot 2 so she was of similar size; I guess that is where I get my short stature). She loved to have fun and acted much younger than her age (she even raced go carts against men as a young mother), and my friends thought she was cool. I loved to watch Mom and Dad roller skate as a couple, gliding on the floor like they were courting in the later 1940s. They still are madly in love with each other after 65 years of marriage, and are inseparable.
I always thought my brother was the “coolest dude” (still do), and with his much older age and willingness to haul me around everywhere, he was like having an “extra dad”, except without the disciplining – unless you count him throwing me through the drywall upstairs when we wrestled (and then trying to find a poster to cover it so our folks didn’t see), holding me down on the ground when storms came, or beaning me hard in the leg with the point of a football and knocking me off my feet. Our combat events included sword fights with Hot Wheels orange track (with the red connectors for hilts to hold), wonderful dart guns, and shooting his friend’s lovingly assembled car models with a BB gun (in the kitchen, no less!) and picking off army men inside, or blowing them up with firecrackers outside. We had cataclysmic football games in our back yard, with my brother Skip and I (with my Steelers or Rams helmet on) versus my smaller sister, or even smaller friend Kevin down the street. The score was always low until Kevin would be called for dinner, and then a rash of scoring would ensue. Skip was (and is) a handsome guy who always had a number of girlfriends (often simultaneously), and the coolest cars to drive – a number of new and used early 70s Camaros, or Pontiac Trans Ams. Our driveway had numerous circle track race cars, street rods, dune buggies, kit cars and even a rail dragster – I never knew what I would find in my driveway when I got off the school bus, and one day I saw Dad driving down the street in a six wheeled amphibian buggy! My brother took me to the local short track, and is responsible for my love of auto racing. My education consisted of reading Hot Rod and Stock Car Racing magazines, or MAD Magazine in his room. He always acted in an honorable way in my presence as a good Christian and as a good role model (except for his razor wit – he ALWAYS got the last zinger with anyone!). My sister was like most older sisters – responsible for most of my insecurities with women (she always told me I was “ick” and the girls would never like me (and she was right, for the most part)), and lifelong combatant (we have been at pretty much of a truce for some time). She had the “middle child” funk, but I think she got the benefit of the doubt with the folks most times. She was very sweet and shy in public (away from her hijinx as a harpy in my presence), but in her older teenage years she became very popular. I still see her as much “hipper” and better at having integrated with the world of today than myself, and she has become a very successful professional in the medical industry. More amazingly, she has been a very successful mother, raising four adult children that love Jesus and are well adjusted, and did very well in picking a spouse.
In my early years, even though I was a premature child and pretty sickly then (and still am, to some degree), I for some reason excelled in my scholastic development and intellectual age beyond my years (boy, that sure didn’t last!). I say that because I naturally gravitated to the adult world and hanging out and conversing with them, rather than my peers (my parents active social schedule in which they took us along may have well contributed). I still have difficulties in relating to children and young people today, as I was like an “old man” even as a kid. I also had a proclivity for art (drawing my own comic books with the kids from my school class starring in them) and for drama (often doing self-written plays in front of class). I did okay in math but was not too thrilled with it, until I began going to a Church of Christ-run Christian school in the seventh grade, and shortly thereafter coming under the tutelage of one Robert Heid, who has become an important friend and confidant in the thirty seven or so years since we met. His influence swung me over to a math and science bent, leading me to attend the engineering school at the University of Louisville at graduation. While in the midst of the grueling engineering curriculum there, however, I let the other lobe of my brain free, and in 1985 began to produce what was first just a fun video project as a keepsake of my soon-to-be moving friends, that grew into the 100 minute feature film I wrote, directed and produced called Nightmare on Neptune.
In 1987 I took a job designing survivability technologies for military aircraft as a civilian aerospace engineer at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratories at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. I got to use a ballistic gun range to shoot aircraft like the F-22 or F-15 fighters with Soviet-style artillery guns, and blow them up, while designing advanced fire and explosion technologies. The job permitted me to travel to places like Rome, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Australia and many other interesting places. More importantly, I began to develop roots in town there by producing my second feature on video, the 110 minute Lord of the Shadows in 1989, and the post-apocalyptic What Now? in 1992-1994. In 1995 (two weeks after throwing three coins in the Tivoli Fountain in Rome to find my “true love”), I did meet my “true love” Ginger who came to visit the church I attended. All summer we got to know each other as friends, I subsequently told her of my deeper affections for her of which she rebuffed, but thankfully God put her under a spell, and she came back to Ohio after finishing her Master’s Degree in engineering at the University of Alabama, and married me in 1996. We also added our wonderul Shi-Poo “Pyro” to our household in 2002.
When I finished my Ph.D in engineering at the University of Dayon in early 2003, Ginger felt it was time to move south to be near her parents in declining health. Thankfully, I had been moonlighting in doing some approved consulting and patenting of fire and explosion technologies I devised – including the Fire Panel Device (which found its way on police cars, NASCAR race cars and military Humvees, which you can check out here and here), and an N2 Tower rocket-based building and aerospace extinguishing device (seen here), which has paid the bills fo rus until recently (I think I have around 24 patents in 11 or so different areas to date). We relocated to Nashville, TN in 2003, and in 2006 began worshipping at a local Calvary Chapel. In 2005 I briefly read about a new community radio station being constructed downtown, which came to be known as Radio Free Nashville. I always loved late night talk radio as a kid, and always wanted to take a “kick at the can” at hosting such a show. Such was the beginning of what came to be known as Future Quake, and my identity as “Doctor Future” – with my first show live in studio on April 5, 2005 with my first guest (and also my last show guest on my last (300th) show in 2012) Robert Heid. That grew into quite an experience, and for various reasons the show needed to leave the station in April 2008; however, God opened a door that allowed us to continue the show, prerecorded in one of our bedrooms at home, to broadcast each day at 4 PM on WENO, AM 760, until the station was sold and reformatted at the end of 2010, to which we continued to broadcast over the Internet until 2012, when I decided to focus on book writing. My first co-host was the dear “Emmitt”, to be later relieved by “Tom Bionic” for the last five years. The production of the show had a transformative effect on my world view, which is evident in the latter years of the show, and in the books I am completing – and evidently the blog posts you will see here.