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Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse

Weekend Report (Part 1) @ 10:11 am

On Friday, Mason had the day off school. He had decided a few days ago that he really wanted to spend a day in the woods. So, after dropping Mama off at work and grabbing me a cup of coffee to go, we hit the trails. I had packed a lunch and we wore our water shoes. Despite the cooler temperatures, Mason went into the first water we saw. He loves to throw rocks and hear them sploosh. He’s loved this since he was a toddler, and he can still spend hours doing it. We were at the bog when we had our first wildlife encounter: a rabbit. S/he hopped around almost completely unafraid of us. Mason sent her greetings from her "distant relative" his stuffed bunny, Sirr.

The most exciting thing we saw, though, was when we we’d reached the cliffs. Across the river, I saw something dashing through the underbrush. My first impression was: dog. But there was no person in sight, and after a few moments I recognized the nose to the ground gait from my visits to the Minnesota zoo. It was a coyote.

A real, live, wild coyote!

After the “oh, wow, cool” excitement, Mason and I had a frank discussion about what we’d do if the coyote was on our side of the river the next time we saw it. He suggested running away. I thought that might only encourage the coyote to chase us like prey. So he thought maybe we should stay still, but throw rocks at it if it seemed like it was going to come after us. I agreed that was probably the best idea, though, honestly, I have no idea what to do if confronted with a coyote. I suspect it's more likely to run away from us than anything else, but....

We spent a lot of time hanging out on the beach once we got to the Mississippi. Mason was sort of pretending to be a Jedi (he’d decided I was a Clone Trooper, which I actually prefer to Anakin,) and he told me that we were meant to have met Anakin at the beach. When he didn’t show up, clearly he’d gotten himself into some kind of trouble. “So where could he be?” I asked. HalfPrice Books was the answer (Mason had spotted it on our way into the park.)

Sure enough, we found Anakin and several other Star Wars related items at the bookstore -- including the second of the Harry Potter books. Yes, my son has now FINALLY read _Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone_ (twice.) You can now commence conversing in your secret language with him. On Saturday, we bought him books 2 and 3.

The rest of the day on Friday was spent reading and hanging out -- though I did change the gerbils’ cages. The girls got a chance to hang out with each other in the bathtub (with the plug in, of course!) while I freshened their bedding. XoXo seems to have survived without getting any new rump bites. B was too excited by the change in venue to bite, apparently.

Saturday we went bookshopping and Shawn got ready for her trip to North Dakota. She's on a road trip in a van -- with her boss. Sounds almost cool until you get to that part, doesn't it? As I told her, I think she'll be fine. She gets along with her boss, and Shawn has this amazing capacity for interesting small talk. Me? As Eleanor Arnason can attest when I worked with her at the Ramsey County Historical Society, it only takes an hour business road trip for me to say something wildly unprofessional and tactless. This is part of why it's a very good thing that I work from home now.

On Sunday, we had some old friends over to hear all about their past lifes (seriously!) I made French bread and hummus, and I'd bought some other spreadables. We topped it all off with their homemade cookies for desert. It was lovely. (Oh, and we had a famous Italian painter and an executioner!)

The other night Shawn and I watched _Pandorum_ which we’d Netflixed. When I brought this up at Wyrdsmiths on Thursday night, Sean M. Murphy instantly said he had no plans to watch it because it was horror. Shawn and I watch a lot of horror, and I have to say that Pandorum had a lot of the trappings of horror: dark, spooky sets; cannibalistic monsters; a feeling of constant dread; and psychological thriller/mystery plot elements. But, it doesn’t end badly (which is not a requirement, but there is usually a note of despair in the ending of most horror.)

In fact, the ending is one hundred percent science fiction. I ended up liking it because of that a lot more than I thought I would. If you can tolerate horror in your science fiction (as opposed to science fiction in your horror, ala “Aliens” or “Event Horizon,”) I recommend it to you. In addition to Dennis Quaid, Shawn tells me the hero, Corporal Brower, is played by the guy who was Angel in the X-Men movie.

One of the cool science fictional elements I liked that isn’t a spoiler is the fact that a lot of the high tech stuff hand hand-crank back-up. Shawn and I have a radio/TV and a flashlight that work on this principle. When you don’t have power, you can still wind up your weather radio and hand-crank your flashlight. In the movie, they have the same emergency option, except on a larger scale. It’s cool, and made a lot of sense, especially once you find out the true nature of their mission.

I should note, however, before you run out and rent this – thanks to many years of living with Shawn, I have an extremely high tolerance for horror of almost every variety. This movie has a lot of “jump out of the shadows at you” action, as well as “oh, that was totally set up, but really subtle” psychological horror trope stuff.

It’s always interesting to me that there’s clearly a relatively popular sub-set of sf/horror as well as horror/sf, though the latter is much more successful (as that’s where I’d put the “Aliens” movies, as well as “Event Horizon” and “Pitch Black.”) Both genres are kind of subjective – people have strong reactions to the background/set pieces/visuals of both, you wouldn’t think there’d necessarily be a lot of crossover.

Anyway, I liked it. More later today or perhaps tomorrow.

The Marvel(ous) part of the Weekend @ 02:07 pm

So as I mentioned HPB, that means I have some comic books to review. I seem to pick these things up with accidental themes, though this set was perhaps more obvious. This time, it was villains. This is a particular favorite subject of mine, because way back in the 90s, I answered a Marvel survey in one of the many X-Titles Shawn and I were reading during college that asked what superheroes we thought should get their own series. I suggested Magneto.

Thus, even though it meant breaking from my usual stable of writers, I simply had to pick up Greg Pak’s (June 2009):

X-Men: Magneto. “Testament” (2 of 5)
X-Men: Magneto. “Testament” (3 of 5)

And, then, since I was on a villainous theme, as I said, I got Ed Brubaker’s (2006):

Books of Doom (1 of 6)
Books of Doom (3 of 6)
Books of Doom (4 of 6)

After reading these, I decided that the first ingredient to being a Marvel supervillain is to be born into a historically persecuted people -- Magneto being a German Jew, and Victor Von Doom who is gypsy/Romany.

After that, I don’t really know what it’s going to take to be one of the two ultimate bad a$$ bad guy (though apparently deals with dark demons help significantly), as I didn’t get very far along in the stories. Between them, I’ll tell you, I’m more interested in Magneto. I’ve always been a Doom fan, but he’s MUCH tougher to sympathize with. I dunno, maybe it’s the whole speaking of himself in the third person thing and lines like, “Where before, though my heart was not filled with pity for the mass of humankind… now I found I looked at them as nothing more than gnats fluttering in my way.” (Books of Doom, 4 of 6)

When I was a kid, the one Marvel novel I read was the origin story of Doom, which at the time, I enjoyed tremendously. When I like him, he’s written as a sort of stand in for Lucifer: proud and arrogant and secretly kind of sexy. As I may have confessed before, I like the Doom who isn’t scarred by the college explosion at all, but merely so vain that he hides his face because he considers a tiny scar a horrible disfigurement. This goes with my whole “evil should be beautiful and seductive” theme. I like it in my Satan, and I like it with Doom.

Plus, on a completely superficial note, I think Doom has some of the best hair in the Marvel Universe. It’s always been that awesome auburn color, and wavy in just the right way. (Worst hair: Daredevil. Bad color, bad cut. Yeah, I know he’s blind, but his hair stylist isn’t!) And, while there’s one sexy scene in 3 that shows Doom’s hair off the way I like it, Brubaker couldn’t make me like Doom --which is fairly amazing when you consider he made me like Bucky.

The only scene I really sort of appreciated was when the KGB approached him to try to get him to work for the Soviets – which instantly spurred “What if?” in my head. As a child of the Cold War, I occasionally have a nostalgic yen for Migs and Red Stars and the great, mysterious enemy that the Soviets once represented. I found out on MySpace that Brubaker and I were born in the same month of the same year, so maybe it’s a generational thing.

Meanwhile, the Magneto books are developing a very sympathetic character. I mean it’s hard not to feel pathos about Magneto’s early days, even if all you know is that he grew up as a Jew in WWII and his latent mutant powers saved him from being shot to death when his family was lined up by a Nazi firing squad. The person Pak develops in the few issues I found is someone breaking under the pressure of being constrained by having to not fight back against the evil oppressors in order to save his family from repercussions -- even though, in the end, they die anyway. You can kind of get how Magneto might end up a roiling mess of “f-you, oppressors of any sort! Watch me rip the iron from your blood!”

Pak, of course, has a bit more wiggle room with Magneto’s character because, despite being the founder of the “Brotherhood of *EVIL* Mutants,” Magneto has also semi-successfully played for our team on and off. Magneto’s main conflict has always to do with a basic activist question: whether you should have justice at any cost, or whether you should play by the rules and change attitudes towards race/gayness/other civil rights issue, er, I mean, “mutants” incrementally. When Marvel writes him well, this issue isn’t as simple as it may appear, and thus his status as super_villain_ isn’t as black and white, as say Dr. Doom’s .

When we were out at Barnes & Noble on Saturday, I unsuccessfully combed the graphic novel sections in both used and new for the rest of the “Testament” series. I may have to break down and make my way over to Dreamhaven and see if they have it. I’d really like to see what happens to Magneto in this miniseries. Looks like, if I have to, I can still get it on Amazon in its collected format.

I also found several Captain America issues that catch me (sort of) up to date on that title, but they may deserve a post all their own.

Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse