In reverse order.
Saint Paul has a lot of panhandlers. They tend to congregate at busy intersections. They're not as aggressive here as I am led to believe they are in other cities. No one runs out and tries to wash your window or anything like that. They just hold up various signs and attempt to figure out the right amount of eye-contact/no eye-contact that will illicit sympathy from Minnesotan drivers.*
Despite living here for over 30 years, I always fail this. I'm forever looking people in the eye. I compensate for this failure by smiling a lot. I figure if I've made accidental awkward contact, I might as well be pleasant about it. So, I'm looking out my window and I catch the eye of one of these panhandlers. He smiles broadly back at me and lifts his sign, which reads: "I bet you a buck you'll read this sign."
I laugh and reach for my wallet, because, yeah, okay, that's clever.
As I'm reaching, he excitedly runs back to his backpack and pulls out a carefully plastic wrapped pile of papers. When he takes my dollar bill, he hands me a sheet. "I'm a published poet," he tells us. "I'm going to have a reading one day. That's why I'm doing this." What can I say? I mean, I know a lot of poets, many of them professional, and it is not an easy life. Even really successful poets who try to only do poetry have a hard time making ends meet. So I take the poem with another sympathetic smile and say, "Good luck to you, my friend." He waves happily and goes back to his poetry spreading panhandling.
His poem is called "Real Love." His pen name appears to be BC the Black Clown.
"Ain't it sad?
So many people go through life
Never really feeling loved
Because when they open their heart
It gets crushed by the very one
That they gave their heart to
And ain't that sad?
That the amount of life that is received
Is often measured by
The amount of money given
The quality of the stability and comfort
And the degree of physical pleasures
Ain't that sad?"
It goes on in this fashion until it turns religious.... because, of course, you know who gives the perfect love? JE-sus.
I mean, I'm sure there's actually a place for religious poets, and I don't regret the dollar I gave him. Not only was his sign clever, but I paid a poet probably a better $/per word than they'd get trying to sell to a print or e-magazine.
The other big excitement of the day was going off with my usual Marvel crew to go see THOR: RAGNAROK
. Eleanor, who hasn't seen Mason in several months, noted that his voice had dropped. Puberty is a thing, for sure, and Mason is getting hit hard all of a sudden. We also all noticed that Mason is now taller than Mr. Murphy**, by at least an inch.
Murphy bought us tickets at the AMC in Inver Grove Heights (the place I was supposed to see BLADE RUNER 2049
, only ended up at the wrong comfy theater.) They have the reclining seats, which is nice, and assigned seating, which I find annoying, because inevitably people end up getting bunched together. I was knee-to-knee with a stranger, despite the fact that the row beneath us was empty. But, I couldn't let Eleanor, the introvert sit next to the strangers. That would be bad extrovert-to-introvert etiquette.*** If I'd thought of it, I'd have made Eleanor and Murphy switch once it was clear no one was going to be sitting between Murphy and the aisle. I only say this, because I predict now that Eleanor will not have liked this movie as much as she might have if she didn't have to sit surrounded by people (even friends. Since I have an introvert at home, I know how to care and feed introverts. Even having to sit that close to people she LIKES wears on Eleanor.)
We got to see some interesting previews. Of the ones I saw, I was most excited to see the new BLACK PANTHER
movie. I was not super enthused by Ta-Nehisi Coates' Black Panther: Nation Under Our Feet
when I read it, but I was excited to see that movie seems to be following the visual aesthetic of the comic book. The Shield Maidens, in particular, look bada$$.
As a fan of the first PACIFIC RIM,
I was equally thrilled to see the sequel's preview, as well, of course, as the newest STAR WARS
(I'm one of three people who actually LIKE the character of Kylo Ren, so I'm perfectly down for a movie that features more Kylo character moments.) The one preview that I think I was intrigued by that no one else in my set seemed that interested in was Matt Damon's DOWNSIZED
. It looks... I mean, yeah, it totally vibes like a Stepford Wives
cross with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
, and I would NOT want to spend the outrageous movie ticket prices to see it first run, but I would totally Netflix it, if you know what I mean.
And then the movie.
I'm not going to spoil it at all (except a little bit under the cuts), so suffice to say that the humorous tone of the previews you've seen? It's that, all the way down. I personally did not mind the lighter tone. I'm not sure how a character like the Grandmaster would play (pardon the pun) if he was plunked into a movie that took itself even moderately seriously. HOWEVER, there are moments in THOR: Ragnarok
that probably needed more there THERE.
Unless you're an Incredible Hulk fan, in which case this movie was 100% perfect for you. The Hulk gets, by far, the most poignant scenes (which given some of what transpires in Thor's life, and how complex his relationship SHOULD BE with his half-brother**** is a little... imbalanced?).
I have a friend, Rob Callahan, who had a brilliant take on the MCU franchise. He pointed out that each of the Marvel movies are kind of their own genres: you've got the war buddy film (Captain America), the melodrama (Thor), the industrial action flick (Iron Man), the heist (Ant Man), the space opera (Guardians of the Galaxy), and now, if you follow his point,... for some inexplicable reason you have fantasy comedy ala Princess Bride, (Thor: Raganrok.)
I'll be curious to know what the fan writer community thinks of this new addition to canon. ( Minor character moment spoilers, but several of them, so read at your own risk )
All and all, though, my complaints are minor. Once you surrender to the tone, THOR: RAGNAROK is a fun film. The fight scenes always give this old Marvel fan a thrill because I can so easily picture the still framed panels they came directly out of.
Speaking of that, I suspect one of the reasons that, of my group, I had less trouble with the tone of this particular movie is because it very much reminded me of some of the comic books I read Mason (particularly the All Ages+ of Fantastic Four)
in the early-2000s, like "Fantastic Four: Doom, Where's My Car" and some of the more cheesy stuff that came out of the Chris Claremont era.*****
I used to read all that Grandmaster crap in the 1970s, and it was all like this. Only, I mostly ran across him in FF, so Reed Richards would outsmart the "games," but basically this is al that, plus a giant helping of "VERSUS" titles. Do you remember those? I think that's what they were called--but they'd always be these one shots Hulk vs. Wolverine! etc., etc., where the writers would contrive some scenario to make our heroes fight each other just to play the "who would win" game.
The ways in which comic book canon is like a giant fan fiction community are, in point of fact, indistinguishable.
*Many Minnesotans are weird about eye contact. I say this as a transplant, who has lived here for 30+ years, and who has yet to figure out what the proper ratio of direct eye contact and "glance away" to use to make my colleagues comfortable in my presence. This is especially tricky when you're trying to sell people something, like, say, a book you've written.
**Sean. I would call him this, but as my wife is also named Shawn, we have gotten in the habit over the years of calling Sean "Mr. Murphy."
***It is my solemn belief that extroverts exist to spare introverts from certain things: phone calls, in-person sales people, pizza deliverer, and to act as HUMAN SHIELDS in crowds or at the occasional party that you've managed to drag your introverted friend / partner to.
****Fight me. Loki was always HALF-brother to Thor in comic book canon and this insistence on "adoptive" is bull CRAP. Though, I understand the need given fandom, but, darlings, adoptive or not they were still raised together so y'all better be warning for incest. ( Related Thor: Ragnarok minor spoiler )
*****Double plus fight me. Before you get on your high horse, let me remind you that Claremont is responsible of the X-Babies. 'Nuff said.