Saturday, August 28, 2010

Comics Roundup for 8/25/10

The New Avengers #3 - When it was determined that my son, Logan, would be born on a Wednesday, I thought it would be a fun idea to buy the current issue of his namesake, Wolverine. However, I don't currently read that series, but I do read this one, which features the feral mutant. Since Wolverine is featured prominently on the cover, I skipped whatever Wolverine comic came out. Anyway, the comic itself was a solid issue that perhaps focused more on Iron Fist than Wolverine, but that's okay. I think that I finally see the purpose for this title by this point. Basically, when Bendis took over the franchise with the first New Avengers series, he really changed the way an Avengers book was done. It featured a team of heroes who had a bit more of an edge to them than the traditional Avengers team. It really had its own unique feel to it, with a more informal tone than one would expect from an Avengers book. Well, now that we have The Avengers, we have a more traditional series, but this one allows us to have the "new" style that us fans have embraced. I'm hoping that makes some sense, and I'm sure that it doesn't if you don't read comics. But hey, if you don't read comics, why are you reading this anyway? Is it because you thought it would be another baby-based blog entry?

Secret Avengers #3 - This issue was decent, but I'm starting to have my doubts about Brubaker being able to handle a team book. Basically, we got a lot of Super Soldier, Ant Man, and Nova, and the rest of the team felt a bit superfluous. Still, Brubaker has probably written the vast majority of some of my favorite comics over the past five years, so I'll stick with it and give him the benefit of the doubt. This series still has a lot of potential, and hopefully it will all pan out.

The Amazing Spider-Man #640 - While all the details aren't in, we finally get a hint as to what the new explanation is for Spidey finally getting his identity to be secret yet again. It's nice to see that Tony Stark is going to be part of the big picture, and hopefully the next issue will touch on some of the issues between the characters that I was hoping to see in The Avengers.

Superman: Secret Origin #6 (of 6) - Now that this series has concluded, my thought is that it was perfectly enjoyable, but entirely unnecessary. Personally, I would have rather seen Geoff Johns and Gary Frank continue for another six issues of Action Comics and tell some present-day stories of Superman. Still, it was a solid read, but I don't think that it does the same thing as Man of Steel did years ago...but maybe it wasn't supposed to.

The Avengers #4 - This issue is filled with all kinds of craziness, and any attempt to explain the story would be pointless. Basically, you've got a lot of superheroes, time travel, and alternate realities. You've also got John Romita, Jr. really cutting loose with some giant, cinematic moments. Bendis is doing a good job of juggling all the characters and giving us a more traditional Avengers book albeit with a slightly "new" lineup.

Batman #702 - This fills in the last gap of R.I.P., and once again it's kind of confusing. Still, even at his most confusing, Grant Morrison's writing is always compelling. The guy throws a billion ideas into every issue, and it's just a bit tough to keep up with them sometimes. Anyway, Tony Daniel's taking over the writing again next issue, and Morrison is moving to a new Batman title. Daniel did a decent job on his last writing gig, but I think that I'll just follow Morrison over to the new series. I've got to cut back what with this whole baby thing and all.

Captain America #609 - This issue doesn't do anything special, as it's just another chapter in the current story. However, the story is a really good and compelling one, and this part fits in nicely while moving it along at a decent pace. Baron Zemo hasn't been this interesting since the early issues of Thunderbolts, so it's good to see him again. And again, the Nomad backup story was decent. I doubt that I'd buy it if it was on its own, but I mind the extra buck that each issue runs a little less with it in it.

Echo #24 - Is it just me, or does every issue of this series end very abruptly? Anyway, things are moving along nicely, but I'm thinking that I'm going to have to sit down and reread several issues in a row to get back up to speed as to what's happening.

Friday, August 27, 2010


At 11:28 PM, Wednesday, August 18, my son Logan Henry Johnson made his entry into the world. Just like MacDuff, he was "from his mother's womb untimely ripped", so if ever that Macbeth guy causes trouble in Scotland again, you can rest assured that he'll be up to the task to bump him off.

We went into the hospital on Tuesday evening, as Kirsti was scheduled to have him induced. His original due date was for a week later, but since Mommy had gestational diabetes, they scheduled him to come a little bit early, as complications can arise if you wait too long. I wasn't too concerned about this, because he'd still be considered full-term, and I've known people who have had their babies up to a month early.

They began the procedure at around 9 o'clock (I may be off a bit there) and Kirsti's pain became so great by about 2 that she asked for the epidural. From there, we waited, waited, and waited. I have to say that my wife handled everything quite stoically. Sure, getting an epidural makes the process easier, but let me put it this way, I sure as heck wouldn't go through what she did just for kicks.

By 9 o'clock the next morning, my father, my in-laws, and my sister-in-law came to the hospital. They were really great and were ready to stick it out for the long haul. It even gave me a chance to get something for breakfast, and sure enough, when I was gone, Kirsti's water had finally broke. We figured that it shouldn't be too long after that point, but we kept waiting until about 10 o'clock at night. Eventually it got to the point where nothing was moving anymore, and the doctor told Kirsti that it was probably time to consider a C-section. By that point, Kirsti was more than eager to get the little guy out of her.

Unfortunately, the family who hung around for so long couldn't be in there for her, as only I was allowed in the operating room. I had to suit up, and I was specifically instructed not to touch anything that was blue. (The sheet that covered up what the doctors were doing was blue.) They also told me not to turn around when I came up to cut the cord, as I informed them that I really didn't want to see my wife all cut open. I did catch a glimpse with the peripheral though, but I did just fine.

I mentioned in a past posting that the word "excitement" just doesn't cover it. That was even more true for that moment. My knees were shaking, and I probably had a mix of about twenty different emotions going on all at once. The nurses asked if I was okay when I pointed out my shaking knees, but I assured them that it was a good thing, and I was extremely alert. Moments before, I felt myself wanting to doze off, but by that point, I felt ready to run a marathon.

When I got a chance, I ran out to the waiting room to inform the family of the good news. I was shaking, crying, smiling, and probably twenty other things. I told one of the nurses that I was "stupid happy". Her reply? "I like that."

So far, I gotta say that I like the guy. He's fairly mellow so far. Check out the video below, and you'll see how well he handled his first bath. He's alert, but he's taking it all in stride, which supposedly isn't the norm. (You can hear the lady getting me ready for a negative reaction that never came.) When he cries, he cries for a reason, and he doesn't seem to fuss all that much just for the sake of it. Last night, we got him to sleep from 10 to 3, and then from 3 to 6:30, which is when I had to get up for work. He's been sleeping a lot today, so I don't know if we'll be so fortunate this time. Good thing it's the weekend though.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The proper protest for the "Ground Zero Mosque"

I've been pretty quiet regarding the whole controversy regarding the "Ground Zero Mosque" until recently. (Why the quotes? Because if you do a bit of reading, that's not exactly a very accurate description for quite a few reasons.) I needed some time to process the whole situation and how I felt about it. On one hand, I didn't really like the idea of it. Yeah, I know, blaming all Muslims for the acts of the violent jihadists isn't really fair. Still, it just left me feeling like it wasn't appropriate.

But then something dawned on me, and that was that it doesn't matter if I feel uneasy about it. I started to consider the whole "Draw Mohammed Day" event, which I took part in. A Muslim student of mine had posted on Facebook that she had joined a group that was trying to get Facebook to shut down the "Draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page. I responded to her by saying that I was against trying to shut the group down, explaining that the price we pay for living in a free society is that sometimes we get offended. She told me that she appreciated my comments, and that was the end of that.

So, how could I feel that Muslims need to just accept that they're going to be offended and then have a different standard when it came to this "mosque" (community center two blocks from ground zero, and two blocks away from an actual mosque that's been there since before the World Trade Center was ever there)? Basically, if you find the mosque there to be offensive, then that's just tough crap. They have every right under the Constitution to build it there, so there's no point in debating it. Even if it was led by a "radical" Imam, I'd say that it's better to have them out in the open than in some secluded place. (I don't buy that the guy is a radical, no matter how many times right-wingers quote him out of context and ignore everything else he's said.)

With all this said, I think I've found a way to have my cake and eat it too. Who's to thank for all this? A Fox News host, Greg Gutfield, of all people. His plan is to build a gay bar next to the community center. Not just that, but he wants to specifically cater to gay Muslims. I don't know how realistic this plan is, but that would just be so brilliant if they could make this happen. Let's not fool ourselves - the Muslim community is even more backward when it comes to recognizing gay rights as the Christians are. Shoot, if you look at the situation world-wide, then they are VERY far behind the Christians when it comes to this issue.

I hope my second cousin doesn't mind me quoting her, but when I posted the article to Facebook, she wrote the following comment: "Is it wrong that this makes me want to laugh? I think it's a great idea....let's also put in a burlesque joint, a Catholic church, a Jewish synagogue, an occult bookstore and a shop selling bondage gear and call it 'Tolerance Plaza'. It would make quite a statement!"

That just might be the most patriotic idea to come out of this whole blown-up controversy. (Although I'd also like to see a comic book store there as well. Not that it offends people, but hey, comics.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The power of not praying!

True story. A couple of weeks ago I was weed-whacking the hill on the side of my house. As I was starting to finish up, I noticed that there were a lot of yellowjackets flying around. It was a mini swarm of them, even. After looking around a bit, I noticed that I had completely demolished their nest with the weed-whacker. Not only that, but I must have walked over it about five or six times. I walked up within a foot of where they were swarming in and out, but they still showed absolutely no interest in me.

What's going on? Are yellowjackets in Martinez, California a bunch of sissies? I can assure you that's not the case. Later that day, a guy across the street disturbed another nest, and he was running down the street as they all swarmed around him. To what do I owe my good fortune then? It's simple. I don't pray.

The reason why I don't pray is pretty simple. It mostly has to do with the fact that I see it as a one-way conversation. You know, it's like talking to your imaginary friend, only you don't use the word "imaginary" and you insist that you know that friend just as well as you know everybody else, even though you can, you know, take pictures and videos of everybody else. Still, even if I'm wrong and one of the billions of gods that humanity has worshiped at one time or another actually does exist, it's pretty obvious to me that prayers only annoy him/her/it.

I know what you're thinking. "Lance, that's jut a coincidence. You're making the classic post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. Just because one thing happens after another, that doesn't mean there's a connection!" Well, if that's what you're thinking, then you're an idiot. Besides, I know, deep down in my heart that it was my lack of prayer that made those yellowjackets completely ignore me. After all, they are known for being an aggressive species when agitated. I completely destroyed their nest and then proceeded to walk over it repeatedly! You call this a coincidence? Obviously, a higher power was at work not doing any work here.

Still don't believe me? Well how about this: I do not have any major illnesses. Sure, I had a couple of surgeries as a little kid, but I'm pretty healthy right now. I owe my health to my complete lack of prayers. Also, my wife has had to deal with both high blood pressure and gestational diabetes while pregnant, but all of the ultrasounds and non-stress tests are indicating that he's a normal, healthy baby in there. And guess how many times we've prayed for his health? Not even once between the two of us.

Sure, that's just me, but how about Bill Gates? That guy's insanely rich, and he doesn't pray either! How else could he become so successful unless some god or goddess was pleased with the fact that he wasn't always constantly annoying him or her with his petty problems?

I'll just add something else. I've often heard people tell stories about how prayer rescued them from drugs and/or alcohol. Well, I'm neither a drug user or an alcoholic. Maybe prayer can save you from your addictions, but with not praying, you never even get hooked in the first place!

I know what you skeptics out there will say. You'll probably say some nonsense about how prayer and not prayer seem to have an equal success rate. That's ridiculous. In fact, you need to shut up.

(And yes, I know this comes right after my post on how I'm done with religious criticism. What can I say? I was inspired. It must have something to do with the fact that I didn't pray.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Atheism's getting boring

I wrote back in March about how I'm basically done with writing about religion. I suppose that's not entirely accurate, as I have touched on some religious issues. However, I probably should have said that I was done critiquing religion and making a case for atheism. I sure wrote about that a lot, which you can see for yourself if you feel like browsing through my first couple of years worth of posts. Every now and then I feel the need to write another entry on the topic, but I start to feel as though I'd be repeating myself, or writing about something that somebody else already covered.

The thing is, I also used to read a lot of blogs on atheism, and I subscribed to a lot of Youtube channels that dealt with the issue. The problem is that I'm starting to get bored with a lot of them. I find myself skipping over all sorts of content that I once would have been sure to spend some time with in the past. Not only that, but I find that a lot of these guys are starting to taper off in what they're producing. It's either that, or I feel as though they're covering the same territory over and over again. For instance, I didn't even bother reading the last "Sunday Sacrilege" from PZ Myers. I mean, do I really need to read about why the concept of the afterlife is bunk...again?

I think that I know the reason why I'm getting bored with it. It's because the theists aren't giving us anything new. The aforementioned PZ Myers pretty much realized the same thing when it comes to the creationists. They're still pulling out the same old, lame-ass arguments about the Second Law of Thermodynamics and a supposed "growing number" of scientists rejecting evolution. Then if you don't have the creationists, you have people who are smarter, but all they manage to do is obfuscate. My fellow member of Alexandria , Ophelia Benson, wrote about a particular case of this just recently.

It's just the same thing from the theists, over and over again. The bottom line is that they just can't come up with a logical reason to believe in a magical being who "exists outside of time and space" and willed the universe into existence. When they make a case for it, they'll either rely on their own ignorance and lack of logical thinking, or they'll make the definition for this "God" so complex to the point where it's meaningless.

Maybe I'm just feeling this way because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I don't really know any theists who are the type to push their religion on me, so I don't feel too oppressed out here. (I know it's different for some atheists in other parts of the country.) Still, I get this feeling that we atheists and agnostics are going to get to a point where we just can't keep making the same refutations anymore. We're just going to have to create a huge list, and the next time a theist posts or says something that's been a billion times debunked, we can just point them right to it.

It's kind of a shame, because I still enjoy talking about this stuff and thinking about it. I'm just looking for a bit of a challenge that's actually worth the effort.

Oh, and in case you never checked out the Youtube atheists, here are some examples from some of my favorites:

The Thinking Atheist (this particular video might just be my absolute favorite):

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Should I go to church?

Over the last few months, a couple of Facebook friends have been trying to convince me to visit their church. I want to start off by saying that they're doing it as a good-natured, friendly gesture. It's not along the lines of: "You really oughtta go to church, 'cause if you don't you's a gonna burn IN HELL!!!!!!!!"

Well, my wife is scheduled to have labor induced next Wednesday, but the baby could start coming at any minute, so hey - I don't have time to go to church. Whew! That gets me out of that little dilemma. I'm just too danged busy. Also, when he's a newborn, I probably won't want to fill my calendar up with too many appointments. I suppose that I can keep on coming up with excuses until he's in his thirties ("Hey! My son's about to become a father! I need to be there for him!") but eventually I'll probably be able to free up a Sunday (they do these things on Sunday, right?) if I really want to.

The problem is this: I really don't know if I want to. I discussed this with my wife recently. She says that it would be good for me just for the experience. Also, I reasoned that an option that my students have for one of the projects I give them during the year is to attend a religious service that is not one of their own. This would be like me doing my own assignment, and I can start off the presentations by telling my students of my experience. So, there are some good reasons for going aside from the fact that a couple of nice people invited me.

Then what's holding me back? Here's the thing: I didn't ever go to church regularly when I was a believer, but even back then I always felt very uncomfortable when I went to one. I tried going a few times with a friend of mine, but I just couldn't get into it. One Christmas service felt like a bad Saturday Night Live routine with cheesy music and some woman who blathered on about her train-wreck of a life that Jesus was going to get back on track at any moment. I also can't stand the whole thing when people hold their hands up when they sing like they're trying to get better reception or something. I hate to sound all Holden Caulfield here, but it just strikes me as being really phony.

People who know me know that I don't have much of a poker face. When I think something is lame or silly, I cannot hide my chagrin. This is what worries me. If I found church to be so unpleasant back when I at least believed in the basic teachings of Christianity, what are the chances that I won't find it bothersome now? And if that happens, I don't want to be some rude guy who got invited to a place out of the goodness of some friends' hearts only to have a look on my face like I'm smelling a turd.

One of these friends pointed out something though. I may have been to church, but I have not been to THEIR church. This is true. Honestly, I don't know what to expect. I'm fairly certain that they aren't ultra-fundamentalists, as I know that at least one of them voted for Obama. I do know that they have some singing though, and unless they're doing old spirituals by Johnny Cash or Al Green, I'm probably going to have a hard time getting into it. One thing's for sure, if I do go, I hope that they don't talk in tongues. I don't think that they do, but oh man...I don't think that I could keep a straight face if I saw people doing that.

But maybe this is what my wife was talking about when she said that it would be "good for me". Yeah, I don't have much of a poker face, but maybe this would be my chance to develop one. What's wrong with me that I can't just sit there in the back and pay attention without feeling the need to judge everything all the time? Shoot, why can't I just loosen up a bit? Maybe I should go ahead and sing the songs too. Why not? I've stated before that I'm not afraid to convert if converting makes sense to me. So then, what am I afraid of? (Well...perhaps my pride is a bit at stake.)

Part of me also hopes that by going, I won't be getting up anybody's hopes unnecessarily. I remember as a Christian thinking that some atheist friends "really did believe" and I've known that there has been a person or two who thinks that about me. Of course, I shouldn't care what other people think - but I do. I mean, is there a chance that I'll go and say at the end, "Holy cow! I totally get it now! I'm converting! Somebody get a pool ready, I'm a ready to get myself baptized!" I suppose that's possible, but come on, I'm 36 not some teenager who is just starting to think about this stuff. Even if I really have a nice time there, it won't solve all of my intellectual objections to religion in general and Christianity in particular.

But hey...maybe the hope that I'll simply have a nice time is all they're hoping for. Good thing this whole "baby" thing is buying me some more time to think.

Comics Roundup for 8/11/10

This is what will likely be my last Comics Roundup before becoming a father. Hopefully fatherhood won't prevent me from continuing this assessment of what I'm reading every month.

Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #2 (of 4) - I don't know if there has ever been an issue where Steve Rogers reverts to his "weakling" pre-super soldier serum self, but it seems like a bit of a no-brainer of a plot device. That's basically what we wind up with at the end of this issue, and it'll be interesting to see how he deals with it. I have to say that Dale Eaglesham's art isn't doing it for me in this issue, although it's not distracting enough to stop reading it. Oftentimes his characters look kind of out of proportion.

The Astounding Wolf-Man #24 - I'm glad that this is the penultimate issue not so much because I haven't been enjoying this series, but I'm tired of essentially writing the same review over and over again. Everything is definitely coming to a head here, and all of the various plot points are converging. Let's hope it all ties together nicely for the last installment.

The Walking Dead: Volume 12: Life Among Them - I devoured this trade paperback in one sitting just like I always do when a new volume comes out. There certainly was a lot more going on in this one than the last as far as the plot goes. Also, I realized something while I was thinking about it afterward - Rick and his group are no longer the "good" guys. It's not that they have evil intentions, but this new life amongst the dead has changed them to the point where it's getting hard to justify their decisions. In this volume, they have a chance to live in a walled-off community, but they've seen that before. However, this one seems a bit more genuine and friendly than the one run by "The Governor". Still, their justifiable suspicious nature is going to get them in trouble.

The Marvels Project - Why would I pass up a series by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, the very same team that brought me my absolute favorite run on Captain America? Maybe it's because I knew that it would all be collected in a really nice hardcover like this one, and I preferred to get it that way. I've gotta say, I'm glad I picked it up. While it covers some of the same territory that Marvels did, it gives a nice history of Marvel's Golden Age of superheroes. I have to wonder now that Brubaker has used The Angel, and there were twelve other Golden Age characters used for The Twelve, are there any of these characters left that they haven't mined for new stories? Time will tell, I suppose.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Spaya for Freyja

On Monday, Kirsti and I took Freyja to get spayed. As much as I love the idea of a litter of puppies, I'm aware enough of things like consequences and a bigger picture to actually allow for that to happen. In fact, we made sure that she was spayed as soon as possible. She's at about five months now, which isn't unreasonably early, but it's definitely before she could go into heat even once.

I'm a big believer in getting your pets fixed. Oliver, my cat, had to get fixed when we adopted him out of the animal shelter, (same deal with the late Argos) but I would have had it done anyway. He was anywhere between three and five years old when we adopted him, and I would frequently joke about how he was probably responsible for a lot of the other cats that were there at the shelter. Needless to say, his days of spreading his seed are long gone. As for my other dog, Willy, he was fixed when we got him.

For me, it seems like such a no-brainer. There are so many dogs and cats out there who don't have a home, that I don't see why you'd want to bring more into the world if you could do something about it. I guess I'm not really referring to breeders (the respectable, not puppy-mill, kind) but I'd be dishonest if I told you that I was completely okay with that idea. I'm just talking about people who, for whatever reason, don't do their part in curbing the pet population.

I find myself getting very frustrated when I talk to some people about this - so much so that I avoid it. I doubt that it's a Mormon thing necessarily, but for some reason when I was growing up, I knew more than one Mormon family that was against spaying/neutering their pets. One family's dog would wind up having puppies every so often, as she'd go into heat so that all the unfixed neighborhood males would come on by and pay her a visit, resulting in a litter of puppies not too long afterward. I also had a friend who had a male dog who was out of control, and when I suggested that they neuter him, he told me that was a bad idea. I don't remember his reasoning exactly, but I remember it being bassackward.

You also get the arguments from anthropomorphism, where people seem to think that their pets are somehow going to miss having their baby-making abilities. They can't realize that a dog or a cat doesn't sit there and think about what could have been or what could be. They're thinking about what's going on at the moment. When you try and say that to these people, you get the "How do you know what they're thinking?" argument. Honestly, I don't know exactly how to argue this. I mean, I imagine that studies must have been done, and the fact that their brains simply aren't very big should say something. Still, just spending some time around cats and dogs makes it kind of obvious that they're not exactly making plans for the future. If anything, getting them fixed removes something that could potentially stress them out.

I also heard people tell me that I should wait for Freyja to either go into heat one time or to allow her to have at least one litter of puppies. These statements were proceeded with a "They say that..." Of course, "they" are always a rather vague, anonymous bunch, aren't they? When we took Freyja to the vet, I asked her if there was any truth to this, or if this was nothing more than "one of those things that they say". She confirmed that it was the latter, and she told me that when you wait, the chance of her getting a certain type of cancer is increased to the same rate where if she wasn't fixed at all. (I probably should have pointed out that fixing your pets tends to get them to live longer and have fewer health problems - just in case you didn't already know that.) But hey, who the hell does she think she is to go against the common sense wisdom of "they"? Just because she's a vet, that doesn't mean that she knows anything. How elitist!

I suppose that somewhere in here, I should point out the irony that if the people who gave me Freyja were a little more proactive about fixing their pets, I wouldn't have such a wonderful dog right now. Still, as much as I love her, I'm sure that I could have gotten a great dog at the shelter (like I did with Argos). I was actually somewhat conflicted about taking her instead of getting a shelter dog, but then I reasoned that if they couldn't find enough homes, those puppies would probably wind up in the shelter themselves. One way or another, I'm giving a home to a dog. It would have been different if I had encouraged my neighbors to let their dog get pregnant in the first place. (I should also point out that they gave her to us. We didn't pay them, so they didn't make any sort of profit off of it. They wouldn't even accept reimbursement for her deworming medication.)

With all this said, I'm still not in favor of any laws that make it mandatory for people to spay and neuter their pets. I liken it to owning a Humvee. Sure, you may have the right to own one, but that doesn't mean that you should. Likewise, you have every right to not get your pets fixed. But still, come on...get 'em fixed. If you're worried about cost, look around online. We got Freyja spayed at the Animal Shelter for $95. Smaller dogs, males and cats are cheaper, and I'm sure that if I really looked around, I could have probably found something even less expensive. If you live in Contra Costa County, here's the link for more information.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Comics Roundup for 8/4/10

Captain America #608 - To think that I was bemoaning the fact that the covers on this series were looking kinda shabby. This is probably the best looking one on the shelf this week. Anyway, we have yet another solid installment of this series with this one, as Baron Zemo continues to shake up the life of "Bucky" Barnes. Bucky's secret identity is out in the open, and even worse, everybody knows about his time as the Winter Soldier, where he worked for the communists (albeit against his free will). Brubaker is really putting this character through the wringer in this series, and it makes for some compelling reading. Speaking of which, I liked the Nomad backup even more (maybe not the art so much) this time around, as it's finally starting to deal with what's interesting about the character - the fact that she's a "girl out of her world" which is a nice parallel to how Captain America is a "man out of his time". It was nice to see her story tie a bit more into what's going on in the main storyline as well, as she got a chance to talk to Steve Rogers, her former partner and the original Captain America.

Avengers Prime #2 (of 5) - I like how this issue managed to still deal with the tension between Steve "not Captain America now" Rogers, Iron Man, and Thor while still having them all off on separate (although connected) adventures. Of course, the Alan Davis artwork is always nice to see.

The Amazing Spider-Man #639 - Last issue, we found out how Peter and Mary Jane never really got married in the first place. This issue, we found out how Aunt May managed to survive. Next time, we'll learn how everybody forgot the fact that Peter is Spider-Man. One thing is certain, this story is not going to undo the undoing of the marriage. I also have to say that in way, this story makes more sense than the original did, considering everything that was going on in the series right up until the marriage issue. I'm old school, and I remember even back then that it seemed kind of abrupt that all of a sudden, Peter was proposing to Mary Jane (despite the fact that he was shirtless and embracing Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, in the previous issue.)

Hellboy: The Storm #1 (of 3) - This was another great issue. The best part was the quiet moment where Hellboy thought about his childhood with Professor Bruttenholm. It really did a nice job of emphasizing the fact that he's a monster who simply wants to be human - which is precisely what makes him so human.

So, it's not constitutional to discriminate?

Unless you live with your head up your butt, you've no doubt heard that a judge has ruled Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. In other words, you can't discriminate against people who want to marry somebody of the same sex. Honestly, should this come as a surprise? Of course, all the pro-8 people are very keen to point out the fact that the judge just happens to be gay himself. That's awfully convenient for them, as they don't have to examine the case and decision on its own merits, and now they can play blame-the-gay-guy. It's only a matter of time before we hear the term "activist" judge.

I'm not going to revisit the inanity of all the pro-8 arguments. They're still saying the same old crap, where every single argument rests on some basic logical fallacy - everything from the false analogy to the slippery slope. Instead, I'm just going to write about my reactions to the current ruling.

Obviously, as a fan of equality, I'm pretty darned happy. I read online that there was going to be some rallies in my area to support the judge's decision. One of them was to be in Martinez, but when I drove down there, I didn't see anything going on. So, I headed out to Concord's Todos Santos park, where there was a modest demonstration. I stood with a sign for a bit and got a chance to talk with a few people.

I chatted it up with a lesbian couple, which was really cool. Not that I think that there's anything extra cool about talking to lesbian couples, but on such a historic date as today, it had a bit of extra significance. The one thing that was really cool was that one of them was pregnant, and they were expecting the birth of a son just like I am. Their baby isn't due until November, but we bonded as parents-to-be. The really cool thing is that when I told them that my son's name was going to be Logan, one of them instantly went, "Oh, cool! Wolverine!" The other looked at her in a somewhat puzzled manner. In other words, it was kind of like when I geek out in front of my wife. That conversation really drove home how little difference there really is between a gay couple and a straight one.

Obviously, this conflict isn't over yet. It's still going to go to the Supreme Court, and hopefully Californians can vote on it again and just vote the damn thing away as well. (And you know that's inevitable with the younger generation being more in favor of marriage equality.) Still, hopefully we can maybe compare this to D-Day. It's not the final battle, but it's an important step in getting us to that final victory.

My hope is that when Logan is old enough to have some understanding of politics and civil rights, he'll listen to my stories of attending these kinds of rallies. I hope that when I tell him that gay people were once not allowed to get married that his reaction will be one of confusion, wondering why the hell anybody would ever be against it in the first place. That's the kind of world I hope he grows up in.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I am not excited

As my the birth of my son gets closer and closer, a lot of people have been asking me, "Are you excited?" Here's the problem: I am obsessed with accuracy. I often have to really restrain myself to not correct people, and I think that a lot of people would tell you that I correct people too often anyway. I once got really annoyed at some coworkers when they talked about the horned helmets that the Vikings wore, and I felt the need to point out that they actually never wore them. They looked at me like I was crazy. Whatever, the point is that even though it was just a casual conversation, I couldn't just sit there and let a trivial inaccuracy pass me by.

And that's where the problem comes with that question. If I was a normal person who didn't have this problem, I would just respond with, "Yes! I can't wait!" Unfortunately, there's just something in me that won't allow me to just tell them what they want to hear.

So, what's my problem then? Do I not care? Am I dreading it? Am I wishing that it wasn't happening? Well, no. In fact, those words are even MORE inaccurate.

The problem is this: it's too simple of a word. "Excited" is a word that I use for a lot of things, but the feeling for those things is not the same as the feeling that I'm experiencing right now. I'm excited about the Captain America movie. I'm excited about the fact that I finally made some really grubbin' gormeh sabzi today. I'm excited every Wednesday when new comics come out. I can't use the same word that I use to describe these things to describe how I feel about being a father.

What I'm feeling right now is better than excitement, but it's also far more complex. Part of this is that I have no idea as to what I'm in for with this whole thing. I haven't met my son yet. For me, he's still an ever-growing bump on my wife's belly (that moves around a whole lot). He's also a moving Rorschach test every time we see the ultrasound images. In other words, he's more of an idea than a reality to me.

The thing is, I'm at the point where I just want him to be here already. I'm glad that we'll be inducing a week early, which means that I'll still have one week of summer break before I have to return to work. Still, I wouldn't mind if he were to show up a little early, and even though it would make certain areas of my life a bit inconvenient (Freyja has an appointment to be spayed on Tuesday, and she'll need some TLC for a couple days while she recovers) I really wouldn't mind if Kirsti would walk in to interrupt me while I write this blog to tell me that we should probably be getting to the hospital. Hmmm...let me wait a second and see if she's coming.

Nah. Okay, I'll keep going then...

I'm also really looking forward to Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring, and Summer Breaks along with all of my various weekends and scattered holidays. I really can't wait until he's old enough to start talking, so I can start getting a real sense for what he thinks. I'm also hoping that he'll get into comic books, and if he does, it will be exciting to relive some of my favorite comics (like the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko issues of The Amazing Spider-Man). More importantly, I can't wait to see what he gets into on his own. Will he be into science? Sports? Computers? I don't know, but I sure hope that he shows some passion for something.

I'll be honest about one thing. I'm more excited at the idea that I'll have a son than I am about the idea that I'll have a baby in the house. Honestly, I always have a fun time with little kids, but I really don't know what to do with babies. Like many men, I'm afraid that I'll break them. Aside from eating, sleeping, and pooping, I don't know what else they can do. And yes, I realize that my attitude will most likely change once he gets here, so please save your comments telling me this.

So no, I'm not excited. I guess what I'll have to do is print out this blog post and hand it to anybody who asks me if I'm excited. Yeah, that's the ticket.