I’ve now gotten to the part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe where the release dates and the chronology of the movies – or most of the films – diverge. And the various TV shows, none of which I ever saw save for a handful of SHIELD eps, fit in there as well. Fortunately, I’m going to mostly ignore those facts. The titles in italics I saw in July 2020.
Captain America: Civil War (2016). When I used to read comic books, the creative teams often developed fights among the superheroes. Sometimes it’d be a brief misunderstanding. Occasionally, it’d be a more elaborate brawl. Too often, though, the motivation seemed sketchy. Not here.
The Hero Registration Act, designed to limit the actions of superheroes, was embraced by Tony Stark/Iron Man, but Steve Rogers/Captain America balks. I found this film surprisingly emotional, especially with the big reveal. Why it’s a Captain America movie, I don’t know, since most of the combatants were Avengers, but whatever.
Doctor Strange (2016 ) -it was an origin that took too long to get going. And it felt formulaic. But I did like the weird dimensional stuff, walking on the sides of buildings.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). Apparently, this takes place before Avengers: Age of Ultron, not that it particularly matters. Odd that despite the massive amount of comic book violence, the story was much more interesting to me than the first Guardians. Part of that is Kurt Russell as Ego, whose presence makes the Star-Lord character feel less of a Han Solo wannabe. I also like Sly Stallone’s appearance and the curious character of Mantis. And Baby Groot is cuter.
Heck, even when the music was too much on the nose – Fathers and Sons by Cat Stevens, really? – I found it touching. Speaking of music, it also featured my favorite Fleetwood Mac song ever, The Chain.
Dorky high school kid
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – There was a movie called The Birdman starring Michael Keaton as an actor pigeon-holed as someone who had played a superhero. I didn’t love it, though it reviewed well. Yet I projected that character onto his playing the Vulture in THIS movie, and it worked, especially his threat to Peter while the young man was on a date.
I’m starting to warm up to Tom Holland as this version of the web-slinger. His classmates are appealing, though incredibly patient with Peter. And while he’s hanging out with Tony Stark, he still feels like your friendly neighborhood dude.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Despite the serious theme – save Asgard! – this turned out to be a very funny film, with great action to boot. Even Doctor Strange was fun in a cameo. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is as stubborn as the Thunder God. Hela (Cate Blanchette) appears invincible. The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) is very Goldblumesque. Did I mention the Hulk?
I take it that director Taika Waititi deserves some of the credit. Clearly, the best Thor film.
Black Panther (2018) – I saw it when it came out before I was aware of the events of Captain America: Civil War. This actually makes the accomplishments of this film more impressive. Because the real star of Black Panther is Wakanda itself.
Well, those last two Avengers films and a couple of others will have to wait until next time.
My progressive friends have been asking a particular question to anyone who will listen for months. It is “Why Joe Biden, other than the fact that he isn’t Donald Trump?” Two responses, but maybe it’s the same one. 1. Isn’t that reason enough? 2. Because Joe Biden is… normal.
For instance, Joe Biden believes in science. Is he better in this regard than Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker or Pete Buttigieg or Jay Inslee? Probably not. But he is SO much better than the other guy. Scientific American broke with a 175-year precedent to endorse Biden.
“We do not do this lightly,’ the editors write. ‘The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people — because he rejects evidence and science.’
“The editorial board does not mince words… They write that the ‘most devastating’ example of Trump’s rejection of science is his ‘dishonest and inept’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed 194,000 lives in the United States and counting. The president’s attacks on medical care, government scientists, environmental protections, and public health research have severely weakened the nation’s ability to respond to the greatest challenges of our time, most notably COVID-19 and climate change…”
Most telling are the Bob Woodward tapes for his book, Rage. If Trump didn’t believe that COVID was dangerous, I would think that the man didn’t understand science. It’s clear, however, that he did recognize the danger but underplayed it, undercutting the scientists. His insistence that he, in his words, “overplayed” COVID is, as usual, a lie.
With a candidate in public office almost continually since 1973, there will be inevitable positions that you – and he – would look at differently today. Surely, Joe Biden’s role as Senate Judiciary chair during the 1991 hearings for the confirmation of Clarence Thomas was not his finest hour. He has acknowledged that. (The other guy admits no faults whatsoever about anything, and is never responsible for any bad outcomes.)
Even in that first Senate race in 1972, Biden favored support of “the environment, civil rights, mass transit, more equitable taxation, and health care.” He was clearly ahead of his boss, Barack Obama, in 2012 when it came to marriage equality.
I acknowledge I’m nervous about the debates. As Vanity Fair notes, his opponent is a “bulldozer to norms… It is very hard to reprogram yourself to [disregard] any semblance of reality.”
Feet to the fire
Since Biden is, by the description of my friends, the centralist/moderate/corporatist candidate, there will need to be pressure placed on him to fulfill some of the more progressive agenda, assuming he wins. Of course, some of the early work will involve undoing the damage done to the basic institutions of the country. Think reversing environmental dumps. Getting more people insured.
And repairing the postal service. From a recent LA Times story: “New rules requiring U.S. Postal Service trucks to leave exactly on schedule and curtailing extra trips disrupted mail service for millions… Trucks traveled empty, mail piled up, managers falsified records, and some packages were turned away at swamped facilities.”
Some of the “fixes” involve NOT hiring political contributor hacks to government roles. Biden’s been around long enough to recognize the value of basic standards, not to mention decency IMPOTUS likes to say he’s draining “the swamp” but instead, he seems to be the ringleader of the bog monsters.
I make no apologies for voting for Joe Biden. He wasn’t in my top five choices. He’s an imperfect candidate. But as a pundit I know wrote, “He’s like a 2007 Prius that keeps chugging along. It’s nothing flashy but gets you where you want to go.” And that’s good enough after four years of intentional chaos.
Attestation seems like a very fancy term, maybe a serious disease. It is actually “a legal acknowledgment of the authenticity of a document and a verification that proper processes were followed.” When I digitally enter my Census timesheet, I have to attest that I worked those hours. Before my wife goes to school, she has to promise that she’s taken her temperature and is well enough to come in.
We both need to wear masks to work. As noted, my head is bigger than hers, bigger in fact than most people’s. She apparently didn’t notice this at first and randomly assigned the first masks to us and our daughter randomly. But now she can tell, just by looking, which mask belongs to whom; I cannot.
It always reminds me of The Price is Right
We got A NEW CAR! Most of the summer, my wife admittedly obsessed with the price of used RAV4s. This editor’s letter in the August 28 issue of The Week actually mirrored her experience.
“Every dealer I spoke with had sold out of decent and affordable used autos…” This is a function of the pandemic, but also “some of the cash they might have splashed on vacations or restaurant meals is instead going to new wheels.”
That was certainly true of us. We had a vacation budget that went unspent. So the used vehicle is instead a current one. My wife bought it out of town for logistical reasons, so I never saw it until four days after she purchased it.
I only recently discovered that my wife is also a fan of finding helpful hints on YouTube videos. I’ve been watching them for years – here’s one on changing the battery on a CVS bathroom scale, which is similar to one I used.
The recent requirement I had involved not just recording on Zoom, which I figured out. My question was to FIND my #ZOOM RECORDINGS, which I needed to retrieve so I could read to our Sunday school class.
On my cellphone recently, I received a text that read “[Tik Tok] **** is your verification code, valid for five minutes. To keep your account safe, never forward this code.” Since I’ve never been on Tik Tok, I will assuredly abide by this.
Speaking of cellphones, I got some bogus company calling my Census phone to say it was needing to update my system. Spammers are everywhere. I ignored it, correctly.
Surprise money. I got a check from Wells Fargo for $159.13 for some fiscal malfeasance that they had undoubtedly committed. I’ve gotten these types of checks before, but usually, they are for $7.81, or at the most $24.59.
The good old days
I was looking to find a list of the current members of the Cabinet because, geez, who can keep track? On Google, page one, there’s a pulldown list that lists Barack Obama’s cabinet, fueled from this page. I have a… certain disdain for the current batch, especially Bill Barr. But you knew that, didn’t you?
While there was some music that I made sure my daughter knew about, most of it she learned on her own. And this includes tunes from well before she was born.
Some months ago, she would put on a mix of soul music from the 1990s when she took a shower. It was heavy on Destiny’s Child, which she seems to enjoy more than more recent Beyonce. Waterfalls – TLC Survivor – Destiny’s Child Motown Philly – Boyz 2 Men
There’s also a lot of classic Motown she’s familiar with. Some she learned at school, some from me. Of course, she had learned The Beatles from me, and even danced to Strawberry Fields Forever some years ago. I Can’t Help Myself – Four Tops Dancing in the Street – Martha and the Vandellas Help – The Beatles
We have something in common. There are songs we both know better as Weird Al parodies than the originals, and in fact, learned the original as a result of the variation. That may be true of another popular song. Like a Surgeon – Weird Al Like a Virgin – Madonna Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen Bethlehemian Rhapsody. I asked her who was most famous to multiple generations, and one of her first picks was Freddie Mercury.