Heroes for Humanity

I love my superheroes. Batman, Superman, X-Men (past, current, and future classes), Deadpool (okay, well maybe he’s more of an anti-hero), and pretty much the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. I geek out over these characters on a regular basis and take my appreciation of them pretty seriously. Which is why when I stumbled across the article “Superheroes Don’t Exist to Solve Problems, They Exist to Punch Bad Guys” (link here…although I am slightly against sending more internet traffic to this guy’s site) I felt like it was a personal attack on what I look at in my life as positive allegories on ways in which we should all strive to make the world better (did I mention I was a geek?).

The superheroes of popular film have little in common with the heroes of the real world.” This, shockingly enough, is the very first line of the article. Already I get a sense that the author has trouble understanding the definition of fiction as well as entertainment; how both of those mediums can be combined to mirror our reality without being bound by the same rules.

He continues by writing, “The archetypal superhero is a hands-on vigilante clad in form-fitting Lycra. Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and The Flash all assert their heroism by busting small-time street criminals and delivering violent sermons on the importance of law and order.”

I really am at a loss for where to begin because I am getting a sense that this person doesn’t actually read any comics or even do as little work as to sit through any of the various two-hour movies out there before writing his article.

One viewing of the last Captain America movie The Winter Soldier would dispel his assertion. Yes, Captain America runs around with a shield and has a star on his chest, but his goal is not to put thugs in the hospital. He’s been disillusioned by his own government (one that up until now he has held in high regard) and is seeking a way to ensure that the privacy of the public is protected lest the country slip into a culture of distrust from illegal phone taps and email tampering. Sound familiar at all? On his quest to make sure millions of lives are saved from an international security agency cloaking their ascension to monarchy by weeding out the weaker links, Captain A runs into some resistance and has to take them out. Heaven forbid he has to get into a few fights. It’s more than clear he’s not some brute looking to get his jollies off by punching some noses. If there’s one thing Captain America stands for, it’s the “people” of the world.  He’s out to make a difference and to see that good wins over evil whether evil happens to be a man with a red skull for a face or his own national government.

Then there’s this: “Batman’s stated goal is to rid Gotham City of crime, but he rarely undertakes the actions that can tackle the causes rather than the effects of criminality. Bruce Wayne could use his lofty social standing to lobby for more education funding, tighter gun control, and a social safety net that would prevent young people from resorting to a life of crime. His wealth could be used to support drug clinics and foster prisoner rehabilitation programs to reduce recidivism. Instead, he puts on a black mask and a husky voice and goes to pound hapless street thugs in the night.”

First off, Bruce Wayne does use his lofty social standing to lobby for positive community initiatives (it’s a big thing in the comics actually). Sorry the comics don’t focus solely on that, but we’re looking for flights of fantasy and 22 pages about a new rec center breaking ground isn’t as thrilling as a car chase with The Penguin. It’s not that Bruce Wayne doesn’t do anything for the community; it’s just not the main focus because it’d make for quite a boring comic.

Stark Industries consistently works towards harnessing clean and renewable energy sources among other things. Superman/Clark Kent works at a damn newspaper so the public won’t be left in the dark on what their leaders are doing. Pretty much every superhero out there has a back story that is rich in these types of offerings, whether it’s a protective type of job (such as military), or a teacher helping young people, or a scientist who strives to help mankind or a philanthropist who strives to help everyone.

I could keep railing on and on trying to disprove every point the author made in his poorly researched attempt at trolling the “superhero fad” but this blog would end up being a book with how many examples exist out there.

The point is there’s more to every superhero than their power. It’s their conscience that drives them, not their ability to crush their enemy. In the end they do exactly what we do…they try to make a difference in the world around them using all of the tools at their disposal. Labeling them simply “pugilists” is a vast, vast underestimation. And it certainly does the writers of the stories a grave injustice.

Happy Anniversary to Me!

So it’s my one year anniversary writing this blog.

To my vast, loyal minions fans, readers I say thank you so much for taking the time to read my work, I hope you’ve enjoyed the meandering adventure so far and will stick around for more of my short attention span theater.

To the newcomers and visitors: straight-jackets are on the left, meds are to the right, and keep your hands off my crayons.

A Cheerful Christmas Story (or How Santa is Being Used and Abused)

This entry was originally posted on December 23, 2013 — thought I’d post it again now, being Christmas-y and all. And since I spent a better part of the weekend shopping, it sort of sums up the frustrations I encountered from the endeavor. I know, I know, it’s a lazy way out…what can I say, I’m tired — but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.  Bet you’ll reconsider my whole Krampus idea after you read it.  

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A Cheerful Christmas Story (or How Santa is Being Used and Abused)

Time for a rant. So, my daughter and I were at the Fresh and Greens the other day and we saw this little girl, maybe 5 years old. Well, first we heard her. We didn’t see her till later. And that would be because she was in the walkway at the end of the cash registers on the floor. You really couldn’t see her unless you looked for her….or was trying to say…leave the store (since she was blocking the walkway). You could certainly hear her though.

Being the time of year it is, it was about Christmas. Of course….it had to be, right? She was repeatedly yelling that she wanted presents for Christmas and for Santa to visit her – all in that whiney little voice that only a child’s own mother can tolerate. I was a little late to the party here, but I gathered from the cashier that this precious little light of mirth had demanded candy or whatever and her mother said no. Not only that, the mother had poured a healthy amount of salt in that wound by additionally threatening that Santa wouldn’t visit unless she behaved. Bad move, mommy. That bold-faced lie unleashed the kraken hiding within her doe-eyed daughter turning what may have been a manageable tantrum into full on psychosis displaying itself for all to see on the floor of this grocery store.

We all have our parenting style and I’m not (fully) criticizing what this mother did next. I’m just saying that it’s not something I would do and leave it at that. So the kid is screaming full blast and this mom, rather than step away from her conversation with the cashier, decided instead to proclaim to the child, “NOW, Santa won’t visit or bring you presents unless you get up off the floor.” Right.

Well you would have thought that she’d sent an electric shock to this child. The little girl splayed herself across the floor with flailing limbs that resembled an 80’s break-dancer and her voice reached a pitch of whine that I thought only possible in a machine shop. And, almost impossibly (but I swear it’s true), her repeated demand that Santa must visit her and must bring her presents, got even louder. It was truly a sight to behold.

Unfortunately the first possible collateral damage entered the scene in the form of an elderly woman who had had enough and had decided that no matter how curious she might be to see if this demon girl’s head was going to start spinning she’s got other things to do and tried to make her way out of the store. She had to gingerly make her way past this kid without having a leg taken out from under her and breaking a hip. Wonder what Santa would’ve said about that!?

And the mom of this lovely floor ornament? Well, the mother, to her credit, was not the least bit fazed or concerned, certainly not enough to become a proactive participant in this wild scene. In fact, you’d barely know she had a child at all. Instead of physically removing the child from the aisle so the elderly woman could get by safely (which would have been the LEAST of my kids’ problems had this been them), she simply continued repeating her mantra ….”Santa won’t visit unless you get off the floor” from the relative safety of the checkout line. What kind of idiotic bribery is this? Good grief, the parenting skills that people use today! Oh wait…skills implies talent or useful abilities. Scratch that. Good grief, what passes as parenting these days!

I mean, really? Let’s do a little play-by-play. First the girl misbehaves. Next, mom pulls out the Santa’s Watching card. So of course the girl’s natural reaction is to throw herself down on the floor. Santa’s watching after all, right? Magically though, now Santa visits tantrum throwing kids just so long as they don’t throw their tantrum while flailing about on the floor or take out the elderly woman trying to exit stage left. Talk about a bit of holiday spirit perversion. I think Santa would be appalled if he knew he was being used in this manner

I wish I could be a fly on the wall of that household when the natural dynamic of this mother and child hits the teenage years. Now that should be a party! Bet Santa’s invite to that one gets lost in the mail.

naughty list

We’re Here to Help

So my mother keeps getting calls from Windows.  Now I’m pretty computer savvy and can help her troubleshoot most problems over the phone, but how an “operating system” has her phone number, even I can’t figure out. But somehow, it does, and representatives from said operating system keep calling her. Oh, I know what you’re thinking…but they’re not from Microsoft mind you – they’ll correct you on that – they’re from WINDOWS.  That’s one pretty jazzed up operating system, let me tell you.

Anyway.

A serious revelation came upon the wave of these almost daily calls from Windows, one that I have yet to wrap my head around and which will likely divide the family once word gets out. My mother is apparently breaking the law on a regular basis. My straight as an arrow, staunch supporter of “following the rules,” never tells a lie mother. I always knew she was hiding something. I’m ashamed to admit this to you but I feel that it’s necessary to out my mother for the hardened, albeit secretive, criminal she is (it’s my civic duty after all). Regardless of the shame this will surely bring down on generations to come in the family, I feel it’s important the truth be known.

My mother…my 71-year-old mother…has been sending out illegal signals from her computer!  I know, I know, right!?  It’s awful! And don’t let her innocent face or sweet (*cough cough*) demeanor fool you either. I never have trusted her and I’m not buying into her alibi either. Oh sure your computer’s been off…oh of course a computer can’t send out illegal signals…oh what the hell even are illegal signals and what idiot would believe that…yeah, right! WINDOWS wouldn’t lie!

So. Yeah. There you have it. People with strange accents keep calling my mother claiming to be from Windows and accusing her of sending out illegal signals. Of course they’re happy to fix that problem right up for her so long as she gives them remote access to her computer. Seriously, are people silly enough to fall for this? I mean, I guess they are or these so-called Windows reps wouldn’t keep doing it. I imagine if they failed to get a response from people in general, the scam would lose its appeal and these low-class grifters would move on to something from Column B on their menu of illicit activities.

Now my mother may not be Bill Gates where computers are concerned, but she’s not stupid…far from it. And no matter her experience with computers, she’s wise to the ways of the world. She’s not exactly the type of person to fall for such heavy-handed tactics. Actually, you’d have to be pretty damn smooth to get something past her, which come to think of it, I can’t recall ever happening. It’s sad to think there are people who fall victim to such crimes and lose a great deal when they do.

Depending on her mood when they call, she’ll hang up or tell them off. Of course trying to get to the root of the organization by asking rational questions gets her nowhere as they adamantly insist they are from Windows and provide no other clues – their backstory is pretty uncreative if you ask me.

Personally, I think my mother should just have fun with it – because time is money to these lame-ass crooks on the other end of the phone. They can’t afford to waste time on a fruitless call but then again, they don’t want to let one get away that might possibly be “hooked.” So I say play it coy enough that they believe you, but come up with some outlandish questions and comments so that you might enjoy the exchange at their expense.

For instance, tell them it’s not your computer and you know nothing about computers, but you’d be happy to help them out…you certainly don’t want any illegal signals coming out of your computer box.  Can you just see their eyes lighting up from way over here!?  They’ll probably figure they’ve hit the jackpot.  Ask the guy (or gal) “where’s the on button?”  Which of course should be followed up with: “Well, the screen’s still blank,” when they ask you to move forward to the next step.  Then after he goes thru all of the troubleshooting to get the thing turned on (and it’s not working)…ask him if you should plug it in.  While sitting in the comfort of your living room watching t.v. and drinking a glass of wine (far away from your computer), you could pretend to go through a whole series of missteps that would drive the person nuts. And waste their valuable time.

Or you could always take a completely different tack – tell the scammer you’re just not sure how the illegal signals are getting out of the house given all the foil you have on the windows and around the doors – it certainly put a stop to the aliens’ chatter.

 

Im-Here-To-Help

 usually leads to –

scam-ahead-sign-368px

I swear…

Have you seen the prices of movies these days? I mean, have you seen them?  I suppose there are some places in the country where you can get into a matinee pretty inexpensively…but where I live that is not the case.  A matinee ticket costs $10.  A matinee!

That doesn’t sound expensive to you? Well, factor in the cost of a drink and some buttered popcorn – must haves for the movie-going experience with your daughter, let’s say, and all of a sudden you’re spending more than the GDP of many small countries.

In 2015 and 2016 there are a ton of movies coming out – especially Marvel Comic movies which happen to be our personal favorites – like another Avengers, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, and another Captain America….not to mention Deadpool (YAY!!), Woman in Black 2, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Jurassic World, Suicide Squad, and X-Men Apocalypse. The list just goes on and on.

I want to see them all, but I’m shuddering at the cost and 2015 isn’t even here yet!

Last night, my kids and I were sitting around talking about such things as the Marvel Universe and trying to figure out a way for us to afford to go to all of these movies.  We had what seemed like a brilliant idea – we’d start a slush fund of some sort so we’d have money saved up for when the movies came out.

But just how would we fund this slush fund?

We adjourned and went our separate ways promising to think about it… as I was leaving the room my eye caught sight of a cat in a precarious position in a spot where it knew damn well it didn’t belong. Without thinking (as so often happens), I let loose a loud verbal assault on said cat that included a few choice unprintable words (my mother reads this blog after all).

And a somewhat sarcastic, somewhat serious light bulb went off above my head.

“A ha!” I said. “How about a Swear Jar? Every time one of us swears, a dollar goes into the Swear Jar. By the time Avengers Age of Ultron is released, we’ll have a tidy sum.”

I have to admit that the language in our house is less than nice and sometimes…just sometimes…sounds like a sailor’s convention (if there ever were such things).

Of course my kids laughed but they too immediately saw the pure genius behind this plan, because, after all, they do live here and therefore know that if walls could talk…well…ours would definitely be censored.

Our celebration over this clever fundraising idea was short lived however once reality reared its ugly head.  I mean, let’s face it, when all is said and done, given the frequency with which we’d be paying, we’d just end up having to borrow money from the swear jar to pay the swear jar.

Needless to say, we’re working on a new plan.