500 Words On…A Chosen Superpower

What superhero or superpower would you most like to have?

I don’t know if we put enough thought into this question when we’re asked. I’ve almost always been enamored with Batman, so that’s the answer I’d blurt out.

Then, beginning in 2007, I began to experience unrelenting and mysterious strains and sprains. That was the impetus behind me changing my answer to the question above. And while THANKFULLY those things are gone, my answer remains the same. Which I’ll get to.

First, let’s run through the WHAT ABOUT exercise…

Superman – A single pebble of Kryptonite can fell him. Pass. BTW, an actor I enjoyed on Da Vinci’s Demons is playing a key role in the SyFy Superman prequel TV show.

Iceman – I hate winter and the cold.

Black Widow – What? You assumed this list would only be dudes?! She has no superpowers, so pass.

Green Lantern – Imaginative magical constructs thanks to a ring? Sorry, I don’t wear ever jewelry or even accessories often.

Optimus P…wrong list.

Punisher – Considering my consistent and adamant stance about mental health people and guns, absolutely not. Also, no superpowers.

Luke Cage – Unbreakable skin. This is kind of icky, but I like picking scabs sometimes.

Daredevil – The best non-social media app on my phone just updated for the 2018 season. The MLB At Bat app. I LOVE spending Sunday afternoons on the couch flipping around radio broadcasts from around the country…but I think being blind is a handicap I won’t accept. Not even for those incredible extra sensory skills Matt Murdock owns.

Wonder Woman – For the Lasso Of Truth alone this is almost the pick. But I assume I’d be as clumsy with it as I am a tie, and I’d wind up sharing every truth I’ve ever lived. No.

Magneto – Does stuff with metal. Always sounds dull. I’m always impressed in cinema, TV and comics just how powerful the villain with the most endearing back story in history actually is. I don’t want that Holocaust experience in my soul though. Pass.

Professor X – Can’t do the wheelchair, even if it’s to read the thoughts of all.

Jean Grey – She is the apex of mutant power. That’s too much for me. I’d be overwhelmed. Or lose my temper. Universe and existence destroyed. That’s bad.

Spider-Man – Speaking of responsibilities and powers. I’m not one much for heights.

Am I being too picky?

Hulk – Always needing new pants? No thanks. We all love finding those one or two pairs we wear till they disintegrate.

Thor – I’m terrible with tools. I cower just driving through a Home Depot or Lowe’s parking lot, so no Mjolnir for me.

Captain America – Toughest pass on the list. What’s to dislike. Still, there’s something specific I crave. Then again my frisbee skills have always been kinda wack.

The Flash – Hmmmm, I’ve never been fast, so this is intriguing. But…

Batman – I think he IS a superhero, but has no traditional superpowers. Just peak human physical and mental traits. And this…

Invisible Woman – More frequent loss of clothing, I think. No.

Silver Surfer – Very cool powers, I think woman would dig a surfer. But his existence seems lonely. I do NEED a couple of friends. No.

Iron Man – No powers.

Deadpool – His scarring is not worth the MAXIMUM EFFORT abilities. Plus, I’ve got the sarcasm and self awareness at optimal levels anyway.

Black Panther – As much as I think I can integrate almost anywhere, it’s unlikely I’m accepted. I’m white.

Doctor Strange – Interesting, again. I think could conceivably learn sorcerer’s spells on my own without having to wish for a superpower.

Beast – I could conceiveably be my own best friend! But how would the dogs act towards me. No.

Iron Fist – I think I’m in for Danny Rand’s powers, except I know whose powers I want. Yes. Powers. More than one.

After suffering for YEARS with strains and pains. Everywhere, just about every joint, tendon and ligament in my body ached, inexplicably. Dozens of scans performed, from x-rays to MRIs to CTs. Usually tendonitis was diagnosed. But, how? From what? Rheumatoid? Nope. None of the several rheumatologists I saw would go with RA.

Amid all this, my answer went from one kind of darkness to another kind. It was no more Batman as my answer to what superpowers would you want or who would you want to be.

I yearn to have Adamantium alloy lining my bones making me nearly indestructible. And if by some chance, a foe did topple me, my regenerative healing would mend me. Also, those Adamantium lined claws make opening cans of tuna – and people – much easier.

500 Words On…Evil Acts

Ooooooooh, #500wordseveryday may have been a bit too ambitious of a goal to make sure I write everyday. Dial it down to 250?

I want to talk about the motives of Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger, a bit of which I discussed on Friday.

If you’ve never heard me make mention of it before, I’m often able to reconcile the despicable and barbarous actions of people. I (usually) don’t agree with what they’ve done, but I can process WHY they did them. For instance, said person is not a violent human being, but their drug addiction causes them to engage in some dastardly criminal activity where something happens that they did not intend, nor were they right of mind due to the addiction. Yep, Team Blame The Drug Not The Person.

If you’ve ever dug into the complicated over-incarceration issue we have in the US, you might not be surprised to hear me say that more people should be hospitalized rather than criminalized. But, jail is often a straightforward solution, and nowadays, profitable!

As I get older, and regularly see movies for the second, fourth and fourteenth time the prism of how I view the sinister actions of antagonists drastically shifts.

The go-to example of this Bane in Christopher Nolan’s (swoon) The Dark Knight Rises. As someone who’s deeply troubled by corporate greed – while still recognizing that running a global conglomerate is not easy – what Tom Hardy’s character was doing in Gotham was trying to strike down the high-living one percenters. The movie was filmed during the time, and in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Jump to 3:10

I’m down with the cause Big Guy!

In this case, the head bashing, riotous means did not justify the ends.

Another example. A Few Good Men. Possibly the only movie I’ve seen more times than any superhero movie.

Colonel Jessep got a kid killed with his extreme measures, but damnit if he’s not right. I…we need people like him ON THAT WALL.

Unsurprisingly Googling Trump+interview+where+he+talks+about+bad+US+things doesn’t provide me with the most agreeable and indelible line he’s ever uttered. Something like, you don’t think the US does bad things? When it comes to keeping the world safe that is. I am certain you would be abhorred by some of the tactics we are forced into to keep the peace and provide justice.

That brings us to MBJ’s Killmonger.

His father was a Wakandan traitor, who possibly jeopardized the safety, secrecy and sovereignty of his entire country, and maybe the planet too. He was killed by King T’Chaka. The severity of these actions and consequences are challenging for a young boy to comprehend. All he knows is that his father is dead. And he’s left alone. I sympathize with T’Challa’s disappointment in his father for ghosting the kid. Bringing that orphan back to Wakanda to be nurtured and loved was the right play. Being royalty doesn’t make you infallible though.

Killmonger was fatherless and likely parented by the raucous streets of Oakland. Who knows how difficult and hateful of a life that was; all we can see are the brutal results.

The rage-filled Erik Killmonger, looking to assume a place in Wakandan royalty.

Shit. If he’d only had gone about it a little more…delicate and diplomatically. Power and respect were within his grasp.

I don’t agree with immolating the heart shaped herb garden or trying to essentially be Wakanda’s first dictator. But I do know that Killmonger was a product of his environment and upbringing, so in a way I can forgive some sins of savagery.

Next time you hate the bad guy, think about why they’re doing what they are. You may sympathize…or do the same if you considered the circumstances.

THLINKS 2.16.18

Babe Ruth’s importance to defeating cancer.

Yea…of course I saw Black Panther being teased 8 years ago in Iron Man 2.

Black Panther easter eggs. IGNORE 21.

Horrific. Train conductors are essentially unwilling executioners.

Star Trek Discovery is in the prime universe – the correct one – stop with this excessive speculation.

The FBI had a tip on the Florida shooter and did nothing. Trump, fire them. Fire them all.

I encourage a nationwide school walk out. What does a gun-loving teacher think about the endless shootings?

Someone had a good line about Shaun White and the sexual harassment stuff. Good people can do bad and dumb stuff. I guess it just depends HOW bad and dumb.

Someone else’s rules of life.

Wow. Let’s vacation in Bulgaria on the Black Sea.

There’ll be no Transformers 6 – mercifully. Hello. Call me. I’ll steward the next incarnation of the films.

When it comes to sports, I’m all for hard, deep data. Listening to M. Night Shyamalan analytically discuss emotions is interesting. Stat heads would give him grief, but he has sound anecdotal arguments.

Blade was a fine movie trilogy.

The FCC chairman is a spineless shill for corporate America. Fuck him.

500 Words On…Seeing Black Panther

Usually negative reviews are the kind that unnaturally steer my feelings on a movie. I won’t see it.

In the case of Black Panther, it was pieces like this, using the word masterpiece that elevated my expectations, so much so that I found the movie…disappointing.

I’ll stop when I can’t think of an MCU installment that I didn’t find more enjoyable than BP.

Ragnarok, Winter Soldier, Civil War, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Homecoming, The First Avenger, I’m slowing down, but still going…

 

OK. We’re done. There are 18 MCU entries, and if I did more detailed analysis, I estimate I’d have Black Panther just after the middle or so. You?

If this movie had come out eight years ago I think I’d have liked it much more. But to me, it read very much like Iron Man’s very straightforward origin story when that was told to launch this world back in 2008. That was a special and unique piece of cinema. Panther, to me, was not…regardless of the color of the cast, and it’s enormous importance and impact to black culture and movies like them moving forward.

Let’s get to that cast. It was truly a marvelous collection of gifted actors and actresses, many who provided dazzling performances. There was one, again for me, who did not.

Chadwick Boseman. Black Panther. The star. Possibly the character cornerstone of the next phase of Marvel movies.

Maybe it WASN’T a good idea to have such a decorated and award winning cast – Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya and on and on – in the same film as an actor who isn’t on par with them. To be blunt, I found Boseman as Black Panther boring and uncharismatic. Perhaps that was intended. He’s behind a mask for much of his character’s time, but Ryan Reynolds is the new standard for how a performer can successfully penetrate that veil and still let every emotion and expression shine through. Reynolds had a lot of fails and skeptics before his Deadpool turned him into comic book and movie god, so it’s conceivable that Boseman’s skills will sharpen and in ensuing Panther portrayals he’ll burst through his Vibranium suit.

As a King, even a brand new one, Boseman/T’Challa was uninspiring. Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger was incendiary and wicked – though he had a right to be with his upbringing – but at least he intended to be a ruler with emotion and conviction.

For all the stick out like a fake plastic arm social commentary – that was as dead-on as a trick arrow from Hawkeye – the line of dialogue that stood out to me was T’Challa’s first trip to the ancestral plane. T’Chaka said something like good people don’t make good kings. Not to get too Machiavellian, but in today’s world – which, again this movie was a continuous commentary on – I think Dad is scary accurate. Leading is HARD. It’s not for everyone.

Donald Trump is a despicable human being. He’s an extreme example. However, a President, a CEO, a head coach, a middle manager, a king (even granted by blood or relation, not chosen) is often called upon to make some seriously immoral decisions. Ones they vehemently disagree with on a micro-level, but necessary on the macro-level. Ya know, the whole Spock ‘good of the many, out weigh the needs of the few’ axiom. I would’ve liked to see that aspect, T’Challa’s maturation as a ruler, a leader, an inspirer, explored more deeply. I suppose that Black Panther 2.

Black Panther was a revelatory movie. For a time ago.

Now, it was just another visually stunning two hour lead in for the next Marvel movie.

Pieces of Vibranium

Wow, they MacGuffined Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue faster than I expected! You got 1/4 of Age of Ultron, and 1/3 of Black Panther. Bye now.

And was his eerie looking fake arm Vibranium tech? Because it sounded like a Stark repulsor.

T’Chaka’s eyes. Ow.

I adore Michael B. Jordan’s inexorable emotion as an actor. His character’s anger was fiercely genuine – I think he called on his rage for the Fantastic Four flop, and the idiotic trolling he received for being a black Human Torch, AND his confusing (for some) name.  MBJ was so superb, maybe he should’ve been Black Panther – instead of Boseman getting almost every landmark black role. Again I get why Killmonger did what he did. He was made by the world that wronged him beginning as a child. Remember that next time something horrific happens. Ask why. And drill deep into.

The ‘sneakers.’ Just read about that tech in one of the Panther comics I’ve been reading. How steps make no noise, and how he can run up buildings. Cool stuff, pages to screen. THAT is why I do these movies, and always will, and will never be TOO critical of them.

Watch Shuri’s Black Mirror episode! It’s the final one of the latest season. Wasn’t she magnetic and badass in Panther too? We MUST have a techy scene with her and Tony in Infinity War because they’re both witty, genius and sarcastic to their core.

Who was the AI voice in Shuri’s lab? JARVIS turned out to be Vision, Paul Bettany.

Colonizers. What a sensational dig. White people have been horrific throughout history. Ryan Coogler shared his views incisively, I’ll share something now. PLEASE study more about how ‘Americans’ ravaged Native Americans during the 19th century. It’s abhorrent, and I don’t think the period from that perspective is taught as extensively as it should be. It’s the good guys won the Civil War, no more slavery, reconstruction, Teddy Roosevelt, WWI. The killing of Indians is a disgraceful mark on this country.

Winston Duke was a sneaky MVP candidate in the movie. I know him from playing some scary dudes in SVU and Person of Interest.

500 Words On…Black Panther

Once again Marvel Ultimate Alliance – on PS2 – keeps my from being a novice outside of comics’ usual heroes and rogues.

In that game in 2006 I learned about the screwy indecent world of Deadpool, but also more than I’d ever known before about Black Panther.

I cannot overstate the enormity of that game’s importance for my passion and acumen for so much in the Marvel universe.

There’s a notion in the sports gaming world that Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson is the most unstoppable force in digital existence. It’s true. For every comic book video game I’ve ever played, Wolverine is the Bo Jackson analog. Use him, or else make the game much more challenging than it needs to be. Black Panther is a reasonable facsimile for Wolverine though. He’s one potent clawful character in the gaming world.

This is a not a review of the movie. I haven’t seen it, until tonight. I’m sure it’ll be excellent. It takes a lot for me to be totally let down by a Marvel movie. Give Kevin Feige and his team this, they  have created apex level popcorn movies.

In 2015 when I was home with my mom as she was in hospice, I read through dozens of comics on the Marvel Unlimited app. I knew the movies well, I’d learned plenty through cartoons growing up (just watched this), and scouring through Wikipedia entries. But I’d not read some of the touchstone stories and arcs of characters I was too familiar with.

This was the first time I dove in on the must reads of T’Challa, the Black Panther.

To prepare for tonight I’ve gone back over them.

For a swift education on Black Panther and most things Wakanda, try this.

Here are some other highly suggested reads.

I’m currently working through Christopher Priest’s run on the character. From the very beginning.

From the Ringer

Priest’s run wasn’t fully appreciated in its own time, but he did revolutionize the character, creating the cool, dignified, master strategist we know today. New York Times best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates, whom you may have heard has his own Black Panther series now, considers Priest to have “the classic run on Black Panther, period, and that’s gonna be true for a long time.”

There is no higher praise than from Coates, and what he says. I tried his run back when he began, but I think my Panther history was lacking, so I missed the context of the story. I’ll go back.

So far the Priest run for me hasn’t been can’t put this down kind of stuff, but two reasons I’ve been fond of it so far. The art is quirky and not standard comic book stuff. And, it’s got a Deadpool-type of irreverence to it, thanks to the inept Agent Everett Ross – Martin Tyler’s MCU character – who acts as the stories’ narrator.

For instance, much of the storytelling takes place as Ross is having a friendly chat with the devil. About not having pants.

Were you expecting a more racially tinged take on Black Panther? Sorry. While this may be Marvel’s most socially important tale, I don’t take them for much more than REALLY good commercials for what’s after the one I’m watching. Like, get me to Thanos and Infinity War.

I’m no worshipper of all things Kendrick Lamar, but his track with the Weeknd, off the Panther soundtrack, totally has me!

An MLB Free Agency Thought

I heard Darwin Barney say something during an MLB Radio interview over the weekend that’s been stuck in my brain.

To preface, Barney, essentially echoed the Brandon Moss’ sentiments about the collusive feeling MLB offseason.

The short version? The players and the players association put themselves in this current, low paying (relatively speaking) predicament.

Barney also said he learned coming up from his Cubs teammates like Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster and I think Alfonso Soriano that free agency was where you got paid for what you’d done. 

Whoa. We all realize that, but I’d never heard a player say it so plain-spokenly. We are going to take money from someone else, for what we’ve done, and likely not produce like that ever again. Most places call that stealing.

The forthright comment galvanized a new perspective of mine that I wonder if MLB teams ever considered.

Team A “I just prospered from six years of productive and successful service from Player X”

Team B “I just prospered from six years of productive and successful service from Player Y”

And now in free agency, they switch. I offer a contract that’ll eventually be a financial anchor to your guy, and you to mine. And it’s a net tie. They didn’t actually swap player for player, team for team, it was more circuitous, but I think I made my point.

Unless…you’re one of the teams who prospered from that player’s six years, while developing others like him, so you didn’t have to forage through the rip off that is free agency to replace said star player.

Did teams just see that as the cost of doing business in free agency?

THLINKS 2.10.18

Comedy + Facebook, but moreso about the shift to paying for more content that was usually free.

That link above is from this blog, which opined…I’d add one more factor to Potter’s analysis. Since the advertisers care about eyeballs, advertisement-funded media are incentivized to produce more eyeballs. Such incentives tends to encourage lowest-common-denominator entertainment but also more political balance. Subscription-funded media, in contrast, face a tradeoff: subscribers want content that supports their world view so moderating the content to appeal to a larger audience will likely reduce the price that any one reader is willing to pay. Revenues are therefore larger with a smaller but more political extreme audience.

Hollywood should leave the Joker alone. Reimagine the Penguin for the 21st century OR look into creating Hush for a movie.

I can’t believe Reg E. Cathey was only 59.

The Olympics are mostly irrelevant.

There’s a shiny red car in space.

She sold 300 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, outside of a pot shop.

Jason Kelce’s speech at the Eagles parade has Hulk Hogan wanting him at Wrestlemania.