Stan Lee, the patriarch of Marvel Comics, passed away yesterday at 95 years of age. I had heard he was in poor health, but the news was really crushing nonetheless. Stan got started at the age of 18 working for Timely Comics in 1941. After the creators of Captain America left abruptly, he was thrust into editor, getting his start in writing, his true passion. After many years of working for other people, he finally broke out in the early 60’s, starting a run unprecedented in American lore. America loves superheroes. Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and even our own like George Washington crossing the Delaware or Abraham Lincoln using his intellect and will to overturn slavery. We can’t enough of people who rise above and achieve extraordinary feats, whether real or imagined. Stan Lee was able to tap into that and interject humanity into characters.
He helped create, even with later controversy about who exactly got credit, heroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Black Panther (the first black superhero), Dr. Strange, the Avengers, Daredevil, Hulk, Thor and more. He added relatability to characters. Spider-Man had to pass tests and help his Aunt May pay the mortgage. The Hulk had to fight to constrain his emotions which overtook him and destroyed his personal life. Even Thor, the God of Thunder, had issues with his half-brother. His creations were unique, but like us. Diverse and yet everyone. He voiced the intros on cartoons, became the face of an entire universe of make-believe and from his work, plus the tremendous artists, spawned the most powerful comic company on Earth.
Stan didn’t create Spider-Man, he made the Amazing Spider-Man. Not the X-Men, the Uncanny X-Men. The Incredible Hulk. The Mighty Thor. Captain America’s shield wasn’t good, it was indestructible. He loved to add the adjectives to make the good be great. Yet the heroes were what we wanted to be and could understand.
I read stories routinely of people who abuse kids, rip off the elderly, assault innocents and take advantage of others. That, in part, is what makes Stan’s life so important. The joy he provided to millions, just from a pen and his imagination. I have seen, hundreds, if not thousands, of children wearing t-shirts, costumes and capes, on Halloween or just waiting for the school bus, all from his characters. I have seen the smiles on faces at the movies, time and time again, from the Marvel Studios films. What a light especially compared to the darkness we can find in the corners of society. All from his ideas. My own daughter called me Captain Dada and it made my whole month. I have been passed over for opportunities, had bad days but at home, to a little girl, I was Captain Dada as she ran up and down the hallway with a cape on.
Stan’s life shows that tremendous good can come from one individual. And we need it. One mind, one heart, one creative spark set off hope and inspiration. It created jobs for very talented artists and editors where none existed before. Films, that put food on the tables of many small theater owners and movie extras and stunt men. Cartoonists and toy makers, not laid off, but gainfully employed crated memories for kids…and maybe some adults.
I had a chance to see Stan Lee at a Comic Con and I missed it because it was right after we landed coming back from our honeymoon and I regret not going. I was Spider-Man and Hulk for Halloween as a kid and probably have more Captain America stuff than any living person. Stan was, and will be always, the Man. While not uncommon for his age, Stan meant so much to so many that no time was the right time. Humor and hope, humanity and superhuman feats – Stan brought it all to us. Excelsior, Mr. Lee, you were necessary and are missed now, but not forgotten. Not where good will fight with everything it has and the next superhero is just one dream away; born from a true believer little kid’s imagination and hope.
My wife got tickets to see Jamey Johnson for our anniversary in my hometown last week. I hadn’t been back in a while and we ended up going with a lot of my good friends from high school, so it was a really cool gift and fun time.
We went out to eat before, one of Zanesville’s nicest restaurants is about 1/4 mile from the venue. I had crab stuffed orange roughy, becoming the first person in history to have crab stuffed fish before a country concert. We got there right as the opening act was playing, but the alcohol was downstairs. We stood in a huge line for about a minute that turned out was the men’s room line. I knew this when a really drunk guy told my wife for 45 seconds straight. THANKS WE GOT IT.
We got to our seats in time and I was surprised at the size of the band. Three horn players, three guitars, a steel guitar, bass, piano/organ, drums and a lady – still not sure what she was doing. She sang backup on about two songs and got stuff from offstage. I think she won a contest to go onstage.
One of my favorite things about Jamey is that in two times seeing him, he’s said about ten sentences that weren’t singing songs. The steel guitar had some brief technical issues on the fourth song and after they fixed it, he said, “Guess we got to start over now.” Then about 12 songs in a row before talking again. Are you reading this musicians? Take notes. He also played a lot of unique songs, even covering Tom Petty and Jerry Reed, plus a song that was a Johnny Cash poem he added a melody to. I guess Johnny’s son found the poems and had Jamey, Jewel, Chris Cornell and others add music to a few; so he played “Spirit Rider” and it was awesome.
If you like blues and old school country, original songs performed by the songwriter, acoustic guitar or performers that sound like the album, then you would enjoy Jamey Johnson. Other than some added guitar riffs, it sounded like studio recordings, which is rare for live music. My favorite part, though, is the couple that was asked to sit back down after going to the front near the stage and slow dancing to “In Color”, which is a song about a grandpa telling his life story through black and white photos. Very romantic moment, for sure.
When I was in middle school, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot and George Bush (there was no need for the H.W. then) were running in 1992 and MTV was all about Rock the Vote. Between music videos, they would have short interview clips or VJ’s telling you to go and rock it while people screamed. It was really well-meaning, but pretty annoying. They would interview some of the screamers and the answers were sometimes things like “I’m going to vote because stuff is important!” Kind of like social media now.
I think people should vote, but if you don’t care, don’t vote. Please. If you aren’t willing to research beyond your friend Gunther’s Facebook post, don’t vote. If you think the dogcatcher locally should be determined by whether you like the president or not, don’t vote. Voting is important…if it’s informed. Going to a poll to get a selfie, not so much.
When you’re 18, you can vote. You start paying taxes – my first experience with taxes was buying a pack of baseball cards for a quarter when I was seven. It was .27 cents and I didn’t have enough. You can get your own healthcare – or stay on Mom and Dad’s for a spell – but eventually that will matter, especially if you are in poor health or start a family. You begin to realize immigration, national defense and human rights issues are more important than you thought in high school. You get a paycheck (or can’t find a job and don’t). You meet new people with different life experiences than you and may think differently on things – left or right or both. My point is, if you go through all that, and don’t care take the time to vote once a year or two, then please don’t run out and smash buttons to get a sticker. Leave it up to people that do care. Rock the couch! (For everyone else, seriously, go out and vote.)
Well, I picked a hell of a time to start really trying to lose weight. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all on the radar. We took the kids trick or treating Wednesday. It was raining all day, but briefly broke so we could run out. I was hot because I sweat 84% of the year, but my wife went as the Wicked West of the West, so we were all very concerned she may melt. Rules are rules.
My son did very well, mostly because he’s too young to know how goofy that hat is. Everyone was really friendly, especially when they kept offering my daughter extra candy. That’s great, because we all know how that works out. She ate a couple pieces as was dancing until 10:30. I almost had to put her in a straightjacket to get her to bed.
Option B? I eat it because my wife doesn’t like chocolate, which is a good 2/3’s of the candy you get on a bad year. I’m sure it won’t hurt my diet, I just need to run an extra 8 miles a day and it’s like I never had any! So I need all you lazy kids to step up and take all the candy before I get out there next year. Um, there’s winning Xbox tokens in the Werther’s Originals or whatever. Actually all the candy, except the Heath Bars. So God help me if you rats take all the Heath bars from me…I mean my kid.
This past weekend, with the news of the hateful massacre of eleven Jewish people in Pittsburgh, I noticed some buzz about a local controversy. A haunted house that has been around for years apparently was its annual “Swastika Saturday” event. A bit of a head scratcher, to put it mildly. It isn’t very well defined by most of the news stories, but employees (and customers) were encouraged to put swastikas on themselves for their final day.
The owner, defying calls to end the 28 year, um, “tradition”, said at the time they focused on human horrors and the Nazi symbol was just an extension of humanity’s evil. A quick search showed other images, like a zombie nun with an upside down cross and stories of flying the American flag. I went there once in high school and the only thing I really remember was a hallway where hands were grabbing at us and a guy blowing his brains out with a shotgun – very gory and we really enjoyed it at the time.
Why does the controversy matter? A few reasons. First, why? I’ve never looked a vampire, werewolf or zombie and thought, boy, if it’s a Nazi, it’s going to be REALLY scary. “But they focus on humanity, that’s why!” OK, again why? Rapists are scary. Child molestors are terrifying. Klansman elicit fear from evil. Why don’t they have those groups, to name a few? Because they would have their ass handed to them the day after word got out.
Secondly, for human decency. The crime in Pittsburgh was several hours before they opened and all over the news. It was known immediately that it was a hate crime and by early afternoon that the shooter was a Nazi sympathizer/anti-Semite. There was plenty of time to tell the staff and/or not promote it in fresh Facebook posts. Even if you’re not sure, just back off. What, is some idiot really going to have their night ruined by not seeing crudely painted swastikas on a fake corpse? Chances are they can just go back to their garage and stare at the one hanging in there. Yes, I’m assuming the only people upset by no swastika night are probably already Nazis.
Thirdly, why were the Nazis bad? I get very annoyed that the Hitler and Nazi terms are far too loosely batted around for political reasons and on the media. It downplays what they did. The Nazi party was built on an ideology rooted in false beliefs, as a radical extension of eugenics and racism, that the “Aryan” race was being plagued by lesser races, primarily the Jews. It built upon German national pride and borrowed centuries old Anti-Semitism, one of Europe’s hand me downs that still has a strong base in that continent, the Middle East, and even here, in America. They decided, in addition to starting a war of conquest that would lead to tens of millions deaths, to exterminate the undesirables in a way unseen by history. Using the modern tools available to them, they set up death camps where dozens of completely innocent men, women and children were gassed, tortured, starved, beaten and shot with ruthless efficiency.
The Holocaust also targeted the disabled, homosexuals, Communists, and gypsies, in addition to political targets, but it had one goal over all others – to eradicate the Jewish people from Europe, and probably ultimately, from the earth. Children were ripped from their mothers’ arms, never to be seen again. Families were put into lines, picked for death at random, after having been forced onto cattle cars where they had to piss and shit on one another, packed in so tight, some died on their feet and stayed that way. The Nazi medical “doctors” used human beings for medical experiments, like sewing children together to try and make conjoined twins. They injected blue dye into their eyes to attempt to make Aryan features. These animals would break bones over and over and over to see how often they healed. The put people in extreme temperatures or air pressure chambers until they frozen or their eardrums burst. Some of these Nazis were never caught or brought to justice. This is why you don’t host a Swastika Saturday.
After extreme social media pressure and the media getting involved, the Haunted Hoochie finally expressed regret. In a well worded post, obviously from a lawyer, they apologized and pledged to donate $50,000 (who knows how this will be proven) to the synagogue. Part of humanity is forgiveness. I believe, despite poor taste, horrible judgement and their grab for attention over doing what is “right” that we could possibly forgive them…but I saw this on my pal Ron’s post. This was found from digging around on their FB page.
This is a post from years ago where the Haunted Hoochie gives strong credence to a Nazi history troll (yes, they are out there – I saw them pop up on a page about the Churchill movie, Darkest Hour), blaming the Jews for World War II. Stating that you can’t criticize certain people, aka Jews. Too all those who think this was a nothingburger or an example of PC culture ruining your good time, I say this. If you need a swastika to have fun at a haunted house, go stick a fork in a toaster. If you see what the Nazis did, watch Holocaust survivors tell their stories shaking with tears running down their faces, knowing they executed children via medical experimentation, starvation and gassing, and still think this isn’t a big deal, you are a shit human being.
Lastly, to the Haunted Hoochie, I’m not one to boycott, flip out, or jump on social trends. I don’t need to be told what to be upset by or what way to turn. I see that post I shared above and I know what you think about Jewish people. At best, you’re a radical conspiracy theorist with a haunted house, at worst, you are a racist and harbor sympathy to white supremacist garbage. Your $50,000 is a desperate parachute to save your ass, not a genuine gesture. You stood defiant in face of a killing spree because you stand defiant to history and facts. If that post above wasn’t you, why did someone post as “Haunted Hoochie” such a moronic and evil statement and someone with admin responsibility respond in kind? I would say shame on you, but you have none. Good luck next year, it will likely be your last.
I really don’t like typing these, but it’s partial therapy and after repeated and prolonged insults, I occasionally give something back to companies with crap service. Trust me, I don’t enjoy it. I’m not one of these muck dwelling Yelp reviewers that tries to ruin a business because they had butter instead of “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” I, in my own world of employment, had a customer go online and trash my company…because we had sales. Disclaimer aside, here goes.
We moved into a new house just over a year ago and got a home warranty for a year. The day we were moving in the former owner told us the fridge quit working right – no ice. We called our providers, HSA Home Warranty. They said it was covered and sent a tech out. After providing the rep with our make, model and serial number, which wasn’t easy to get, they sent a repairman – who didn’t work on our fridge. It was this crazy foreign knock off brand called “GE.” He did find that not only was the ice maker not working, the temps were not holding in the fridge and we would start losing food. Another week, same exact scenario. They sent another guy, didn’t work on GE. Third week, they sent someone who could LOOK UP THE ERROR CODES BUT NOT FIX IT. Well, now we are flying! I finally had enough and swapped it with our old fridge, which we had at the old house. I called again about my fourth appointment, all of which, mind you, required my wife or myself to call off work or change our schedule.
Call went like this. “Just letting you know the fridge got moved five miles away, so he can fix it there.” “Sir, we can’t fix it at another address.” “It’s the same fridge, you didn’t fix with three other guys and it’s been broken at this point for over four weeks. I’m not moving a faulty fridge back yet again with me and my dad and breaking my back. You can have it fixed there and I’ll move it when it works.” Rep: “Sir, by contract, we only work on the site of the home.” Me: “Well, you haven’t worked at all. You can’t even find someone to fix a GE in the 15th largest city in the US and I’m losing food. I think as a courtesy, you can make it happen, since this has dragged out.” Rep: “Only if you move it back.”
So I paid out of pocket to repair it because that was better than moving a fridge in December with only me and my senior citizen father. I then had another issue where they would not pay up on a warranty claim because I had another contractor look at something before they were notified. They refused to take my call and made me email a robo-email address that wouldn’t take replies. My hate went from simmering to fully cooked. The coverage finally expired, but not without them emailing me bimonthly, mailing me a flyer every three weeks, and recently, calling my cell while at work to get me to renew this fine warranty that covers, pays for and fixes nothing.
I finally called back after work and selected the correct department. I told the lady I wanted the renewal department. “They don’t take calls.” Me: “I was given this number.” “Well, they don’t have a number.” Me: “I was given this number to call back.” “I’m in sales, I handle that.” Me: “Well, can you or anyone there take me off the call list?” “No, there’s no way to do that.” Me: “So you guys just call me for a year, decade, rest of my life?” “I guess I can take some notes.” Me: “While, you are at it, let me tell you why I’m not renewing.” I dictated to her the multitudinous complaints and realized she didn’t even have my account pulled up, so it was all for naught. As I explained what happened, she interrupted me several times and told me how I violated the policy by moving the fridge. Me: “Well, when my food started spoiling, I really didn’t care about your policy.” “Well, that’s the rules, so it’s on you.” She then did the same thing explaining how I was wrong on the second claim for a technicality. Me: “Well, I called someone else first because you sent these dummies that couldn’t even fix the problem – which means you don’t know how to hire contractors, which is your whole job.” She then told me she would see if anyone could take me off the call list, but probably not.
So, after all that, I have another way to maybe get off your call list. Go burn in hell, HSA Home Warranty. You didn’t fix the easiest of issues, made me move a fridge in the winter and pay for the repairs myself because I had the audacity to want a working appliance that was fully covered under your policy, and you hit me on a technicality because I didn’t have faith you would fix anything with your stellar track record of whipping darts in a pitch black room, hoping you would hit the board. I was going to let it all go, but you then chastised me when I called to say, “Stop calling me.” So go ahead and waste your stamps, time and money, I’ll never use you, recommend you, hire you and will, like in this blog, make sure my circle knows the same. Want to take me off your damn call list now?