Heroes

I am not what anyone would consider a comics geek; I also don’t, for the record, consider that a slight or a slur. I grew up reading comic books–I read everything I could get my hands on, frankly. My sister read Millie the Model and every iteration of Archie that existed at the time; I read them when she was finished with them. I moved on to super-heroes quite by accident. I had no interest in them whatsoever, but the Jewel where my mom would do her grocery shopping had a comic-book vending machine in the front (anyone else remember those?). Comics were twelve cents at the time. Mom would always give my sister and I a dime and two pennies every time we went to Jewel–the comic book would keep us occupied while she shopped in peace–and I accidentally pressed the wrong button–so instead of Jughead I wound up getting an Action Comics instead. I was quite distraught–and this was also neither the first nor the last time that I didn’t get what I wanted by not paying close enough attention. My mother told me, as always, “it’s your own fault for not paying attention, so just read it.”

I did….and became a fan. I never bought another Archie comic again (there really wasn’t any need–my sister still got them and I could read hers).

My enjoyment of comics continued, all the way through high school–until the cost of comics rose to a point that I wasn’t willing to pay for them anymore. I occasionally dip my toes back into the water, but not enough to be a geek or a nerd or any of the other terms used to describe big fans. I did eventually branch out into Marvel in college as well, but I always liked DC the best–more, probably, out of the fact that those were the comics I read as a kid more than anything else. I also don’t understand why you can’t be a fan of both–but there are clearly battle lines drawn between the fandoms, with some crossover, of course.

I don’t remember when I first heard about the Watchmen graphic novel; but I did hear about it, now and then, throughout the years; great things. But I never read it. I didn’t see the film when it came out a few years ago, and in all honesty I might not have watched the HBO series had it not starred Regina King–whom I will watch in any and every thing. No, that’s not true–she was simply a bonus. I like super-hero stories, and I enjoyed Amazon’s The Boys, so yeah, I would have watched Watchmen.

Enjoying the show as I did, I decided to go ahead and get a copy of the graphic novel.

It was about time, after all…and once I opened it and started reading, I could see why it is considered one of the greatest graphic novels/super-hero stories of all time…

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If anything, the hype about how terrific Watchmen is actually underplayed how actually terrific the graphic novel is.

The depth and complexity of the characters–and the detail in the world-building–is simply staggering.

I’ve always wanted to write a super-hero novel; obviously, as someone who’s been reading about them and watching them on either television or film most of my life (I remember when Batman aired in prime time), it would sort of make sense for me to try my hand at it. I’ve brainstormed about it a lot over the years as well; what would it mean to have powers beyond those of other people, the whole responsibility of power, and so forth. Marvel and DC both have done a terrific job of exploring those themes over the years, and quite frankly, I’ve never been sure I could develop a super-powered character appropriately, or tell his origin story–plus, almost every kind of super-power has already been explored somehow and some way; what could I possibly come up with that would be new and original? The reboot of DC in the 1980’s after Crisis on Infinite Earths also allowed them to add more depth and dimension to their characters–I always thought the pre-Crisis Green Arrow/Black Canary characters were the most human and most realistic developed–as well as crises of morality and faith and belief in themselves, as well as in humanity and the rest of the world.

Having now read Watchmen, I can see its impact on the industry, and on DC in particular.

Watchmen is set in an alternate timeline, on a different Earth; one in which the greatest, most powerful super-hero of all ended the Vietnam War with an American victory, resulting in Vietnam becoming the fifty-first state. The Keene Act banning masked vigilantes has been passed, and most heroes have either gone to work for the government, or retired. The book opens with the murder of the Comedian, a right-wing Fascist monster of a super-hero; one of the ones who went to work for the government. Rorschach, another hero who refused to retire and continued with his work despite it making him a criminal, starts investigating the murder and starts checking in on the others–not only to warn them but to see if they had any involvement. The comic also didn’t flinch from dealing with politics–fascism, racism, communism, etc. Also, the world is also on the brink of nuclear holocaust, with tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union growing with almost every page. The world Watchmen depicts isn’t that different from the world we lived through in the 1980’s; and like all great art, Watchmen makes you think by showing multiple perspectives without judgment…and that is part of its astonishing brilliance. The script is brilliantly done, the juxtaposition between the text segments–Rorschach’s memoirs, newspaper accounts, magazine articles, etc.–and the comic panels especially striking.

It also asks terrific questions about morality, right and wrong, and responsibility.

If you’ve not read the graphic novel, I highly recommend you do so–and then watch the HBO series (which deserves its own entry, quite frankly, and so I am going to give it one at some point).

The Cover of the Rolling Stone

Wednesday! Huzzah!

Another lovely night of sleep last night; I was really tired. The two back-to-back twelve hours days have been wearing me out lately; combination of stress with all I  need to get done no doubt, and of course the heat of a New Orleans summer. The kitchen this morning is a bit of a mess, and I hope I have time this morning to get it straightened up a bit. The two short days begin tomorrow–huzzah!–and I need to get so much done it’s not even funny.

I finished Chapter Twenty last night; another 1400 words or so. I am hopeful to get back to my old 3000 per day total soon, but even if they are coming slower than I would like, I am getting them done–slowly but surely. I started to say that the words are terrible but I’ll take them; and then I remembered–Gregalicious, that is self-deprecation and haven’t we decided we aren’t doing that anymore? So, while Chapter Twenty is certainly not ready for the printers, it does what it’s supposed to do–move the story along, show us more about our main character and his burgeoning relationship with his love interest–and therefore, it needs some work but I am quite pleased with how it’s all turned out thus far. The next chapter is going to be trickier still than twenty was; there’s still a lot I need to have happen and revelations to come. But the end zone is in sight; if this were a college football game I’d be in the red zone, which is joyous.

Seriously, there were times when I thought I was never going to finish this draft.

As always, I am behind on everything; I am beginning to think that this is something I do to myself subconsciously to create the pressure which some part of my being thinks is necessary to get things done. I used to think I had a tendency to be self-defeating; that I was so afraid of succeeding that I deliberately set up road blocks to keep myself in a constant state of failure. I no longer think that I am self-defeating, although I do think I have a fear of success somewhat; why else do I keep doing things that apparently, according to all conventional wisdom, are the exact opposite of the things I am traditionally supposed to do in order to succeed?

We watched another episode of The Boys last night, and I have to say we are really enjoying this show. It’s getting progressively darker, and there’s also some scathing political commentary on the modern world as well. The parallels between the show’s United States and our current country’s recent history that are undeniably there, and frankly, we don’t come out of it looking too good–nor should we.

I’m hoping to read more of Steph Cha’s book today, and maybe even later when I get home tonight, if I don’t write for a while when I get off work this evening. There’s a new episode of Animal Kingdom available as well.

And football season is drawing ever closer. Tomorrow is August 1!

Where has this year gone already?

My toothache has almost completely gone away now; the tooth is still a little tender so I am aware of it, but as far soul-destroying pain, that’s no longer an issue. Huzzah indeed! I do need to go see the dentist though. Heavy sigh. I really loathe going to the dentist, but I suppose that’s fairly obvious given my teeth situation.

I am excited for football season; for the cooler weather and for both LSU and the Saints this year. LSU recently unveiled their new football training center, which is absolutely insane, and not without controversy; the battle between athletics and education is never-ending. Frankly, I’m deeply sympathetic to those on the side of education; LSU’s academic budget has been cut to the bone, majors have been decimated, and the campus library is in terrible condition. A brand new, $28 million state-of-the-art training facility for the football team at this time is kind of slap in the face to those worried about the state of higher education in this state. But the money wasn’t taken away from academics; the $28 million raised for this wasn’t taken away from academics but raised from donors who probably wouldn’t have given the money–or as much money–for a new library or to save a major that was being cut. LSU football, whether people like it or not, is big business now; and in fact some of the profits from the football team have been fed back into the University general funds since about 2012. Now, arguing about whether college football has become too big, too big time, and too much like professional sports–yep, college football has seen some enormous changes since I was a kid; it’s certainly not the same sport in 2019 that is was back in 1979, and those questions are valid and perhaps a debate we should be having.

But college football in 1979 was also vastly different from college football in 1959, or even 1969–when it was populated by mostly white players. I also agree that LSU desperately needs more money than the legislature is providing for it; maybe less tax cuts for the rich and for oil companies in Louisiana? Investments, not just in LSU but also in the University of Louisiana system, will pay off in the future for the state, and I’ve never understood why education has never been a priority for any politicians in Louisiana since Huey Long.

Of course, the argument could also be made that the political class isn’t interested in an educated populace; the more critically a person can think, the less likely they are to be swayed by emotional appeals based in nothing when they vote. One could also make this argument a national issue instead of just a state one; the decline of funding for education across the board on a national level over the last few decades is frankly scandalous.

But college sports didn’t create the education crisis, but it’s an incredibly easy target.

Or maybe as a lifelong college football fan (I only care about the Saints in the NFL) I am too hopelessly biased to opine on the matter.

But I will, nevertheless, continue to look forward to football season.

I also watched the third part of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion, which wasn’t particularly interesting. The reunions aren’t my favorites, although if you don’t want to waste your time watching an entire season, you can pretty much catch up on everything by watching the reunions (I used to do this with the ones I didn’t watch much, like New Jersey and Orange County.) But once you’ve watched an entire season, the reunions aren’t as “explosive” as the promos promise.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Don’t You (Forget About Me)

I hit the wall yesterday during Iris. I came back home to rest for a bit before Tucks arrived, and was so exhausted from everything that I decided that it was wiser to just stay in the house and rest, otherwise there was no way I’d make it to any of today’s parades. There are four today; Okeanos, Mid-City, Thoth, and Bacchus. I usually make Okeanos and Mid-city; but am too tired for Thoth and Bacchus. I’ve never seen Thoth; we used to go to the Quarter in the afternoon on Sundays, and then I worked outreach during Thoth. The last few years I’ve not done outreach on Sundays I’ve been too tired; and I don’t think I’ve seen Bacchus since Drew Brees reigned. I’m going to give it my best shot today.

The rain held off yesterday until Endymion; I was ensconced in my easy chair streaming Spiderman Homecoming when the thunderstorm arrived and it was a beaut. The thunder was so loud and long the house shook; and the downpours so intense that there was some street flooding (nothing major, like in August; but still it sucked for both the Endymion riders and the folks out there watching).

I also watched, in my ongoing quest to rewatch as many of the disaster movies of the 1970’s as possible, Earthquake, which was, without a doubt, one of the worst movies ever made. The whole point of the disaster formula was to see how people–character archetypes, really–placed in extraordinary circumstances having to experience physical difficulties and hardships and emotional distress, to see if they can overcome this and survive; and at the end, some do: the damaged plane lands safely, the fire is put out, they get off the sinking ship. But by it’s very nature, making a film about an earthquake doesn’t end with the characters getting to safety; therefore there is no way to end the film on a satisfying note for the viewers. So, Earthquake merely ends with the camera pulling away from the characters who’ve just escaped the flooding tunnel, showing a ever expanding view of the ruins of Los Angeles, where many fires are still burning; a most unsatisfying end to the film. But it’s not like we cared about any of the characters in the first place, particularly the main character, played woodenly by Charlton Heston. Heston was never the best of actors to begin with; his idea of acting was over-acting under the best of circumstances and at worst, woodenly reading his lines with absolutely no emotion whatsoever. The casting choices made for the movie were also curious; Lorne Greene was playing Ava Gardner’s father and Heston’s father-in-law, despite being only seven years older than the former and eight years older than the latter; his current love interest was played by Genevieve Bujold, who was only thirty. I’m a fan of Gardner, to be honest, but she’s terrible in this film. Everyone is terrible in this film, from the afore-mentioned stars to the rest of the cast, which includes Richard Roundtree, George Kennedy, Victoria Principal, and Marjoe Gortner. Even by 70’s standards, the special effects are particularly bad; and there really isn’t a cohesive story for any of the characters, so the actors have no center for their performances. It was just an attempt to cash in on the success of the Airport movies and the disaster movie craze of the time; with the end result that it’s a terrible, terrible film.

Spiderman Homecoming, however, is just as charming on a second viewing as it was on the first; and Tom Holland is so appealing, as are all of the diverse young actors who play his friends, or frenemies, at his high school. Michael Keaton makes a great bad guy, and the guest appearances by the other Marvel heroes–Iron Man and Captain America–successfully weave the character of Spiderman into the Marvel/Avengers universe. Also, by not  making it an origin story–we already see Peter with his powers, his uncle is already dead–and instead making it about him trying to adapt to his powers while juggling his life as a high school teenager, made it a much stronger film. Well done, Marvel.

After that, we watched the Olympics. I also did some reading, getting back to the Short Story Project, and then I slept deeply and well; I even allowed myself to sleep in, and this morning other than some slight aches in my lower back I feel terrific. Okeanos starts in fifteen minutes; I am not sure which parades I’ll be watching today. There’s rain again in the forecast, and this morning the windows are covered with condensation, just like yesterday. It does seem bright out there, but there’s an awful lot of cloud cover as well. Paul is still sleeping, so there’s that as well. 😉 I don’t like waking him up on the weekends, and besides, Okeanos won’t be here for another hour at least. Iris kept stalling yesterday; despite moving up an hour it still wasn’t finished passing here until almost one thirty.

I don’t have to work tomorrow; Paul’s going into the office for a bit, so I will most likely make a grocery run in the morning and try to get some work done around here as well. I need to get back to work on everything; just because everything in New Orleans comes to a screeching halt for Carnival, we sometimes forget that the rest of the world does not.

Ah, well. And I need to clean the kitchen again; I’m hoping to cook out today, should the weather hold.

Here’s a hunk for your Sunday:

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