In which I fundraise: another Pete Buttigieg post

The blog is starting to slide into all-Buttigieg-all-the-time territory, and that’s not really where I want it to go, but I feel like this is important enough that I’m doing it anyway: I don’t know how many of you watched last night’s townhall on CNN, but I thought the guy hit a grand slam. Buttigieg was funny, personable, full of good ideas, and he showed the scary-smart that I always want and don’t always get from my presidential candidates. The national response appears to have been extremely positive– I mean, hell, any Democrat who watched that and didn’t come away with a much higher opinion of Buttigieg and his chances in this race either isn’t a Democrat or wasn’t actually watching. Tulsi Gabbard, who for better or worse has a substantially higher profile than Buttigieg does right now, had the hour before him. Everyone is talking about Buttigieg; I’ve seen no one talking about Gabbard.

Interestingly, it turns out the whole thing is on YouTube. I’ll embed it here; we’ll see how long it lasts. If you haven’t watched, you really should:

I skipped around a bit and it does look like the whole thing; I don’t know what the deal is with the placeholder image.

At any rate: while I’m completely sure that donations have ticked up substantially in the wake of this performance, Pete needs 65,000 individual donors at any amount in order to secure an invitation to the formal Democratic debates, and if that threshold has been reached they’ve not updated the website to tell us about it yet. I’ve donated, and I’ve had two friends who watched last night tell me they have as well. We want this guy on stage, y’all. So if you haven’t watched the townhall yet, there’s another opportunity right there, at least until CNN pulls the video, and the link to donate– again, literally any amount adds you to the total– is here. Please consider it.

#REVIEW: CAPTAIN MARVEL

Traditional Facebook Blurb Spoiler-Free Bluster Zone: The one very very minor spoiler that I wanted to make sure I knew before going into Captain Marvel was whether Stan Lee had a cameo in it or not. I wasn’t sure how the filming schedule timed out with his passing last year, and I know they tend to film his cameos in bunches, so it wasn’t immediately clear. I discovered two things: one, there was “a tribute” to him immediately, and two, yes, there was a cameo, and there will be one more, for a film that hasn’t been named yet but, c’mon, it’s Avengers: Endgame, because of course it is.

Well, for quite possibly the first time in human history the goddamn production company’s five-second logo video made half the audience cry. Like, I’m struggling right now writing about it. It was perfect. And his cameo is perfect, too– apparently they reshot Larson’s reaction to him after he passed away, and that little smile on her face when she sees him is a deliberate change to acknowledge that he was gone– even if it introduces a hilariously complicated rat’s nest of continuity craziness if you start thinking about it.

Okay, that’s probably long enough. Spoilers ho, y’all. Everything. And, really, this movie does have a nice twist or two, especially if you were already a comic book person going in. If you aren’t, less so.


I’ll put the tl;dr in the first paragraph: While I love the character, and this movie’s high points are tremendous, overall this is a high second-tier Marvel film for me; that first tier being in no particular order Iron Man, Avengers, Infinity War, Winter Soldier, Civil War and Black Panther. This movie has an awful lot of fucking work to do, and in a lot of ways that ends up dragging the overall experience down a bit.

Positives:

  • Brie Larson. I was neutral on her casting at first– my preferred actress would have been Katee Sackhoff, and I wasn’t familiar with Larson at all, but she’s great in the role. Just great.
  • Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar, who play Maria and Monica Rambeau, respectively. Their relationship is great, their relationship to Carol Danvers is great, and as someone who has been clamoring to see my Captain Marvel on screen for over a decade, I was literally jumping up and down when I found out Monica was actually in the movie. I presume that we’ll see her, unfortunately portrayed by an older actress, in Endgame or another future film, but Akira Akbar is amazing, guys. Loved every second these two were on screen.
  • Goose the cat, and actually getting to hear the line “That’s not a cat, that’s a flerken!” uttered by one of the characters on-screen.
  • The twist with the Skrulls was great; I had commented to my wife on the drive to the theater that I was a little bit worried because in general as a storytelling device I find the Skrulls kind of tiring because every single fucking thing always boils down to “Is he a Skrull? Is she a Skrull? How long has he been a Skrull? How long has she been a Skrull?” and there’s a little bit of that but they actually manage to come up with a way to use them that was fresh and genuinely unexpected.
  • Despite my reservations on the whole memory-loss thing, I found Captain Marvel’s overall arc in the story to be pretty damn good, and by the end of the movie she is absolutely the hero I wanted her to be. I just wish the trailers hadn’t spoiled the “getting up” sequence from the end of the film, because it ends up being pretty damn pivotal and I’d have preferred to be seeing it for the first time on screen.
  • Similarly, having Annette Benning be Mar-Vell and not Jude Law like everyone assumed was a nice touch.
  • Did I mention there’s a flerken in this movie? Because that’s a flerken. My wife has been so confused with my insistence on yelling “FLERKEN!” every time any trace of cat shows up in any of the promo stuff for this movie. She gets it now, and she wants an orange cat.
  • Flerken.
  • If God loves me, there will be at least a brief sequence between Rocket and Goose in Endgame.
  • I really like the relationship between CM and Nick Fury, and I like the subtle way that Sam Jackson plays Fury as younger, less burdened, and a much looser character. If anything I feel like this part of the movie could have used a few more minutes.
  • Nice touch, releasing the film on International Women’s Day.

Stuff that I maybe didn’t like quite as much:

  • As I said, this movie’s got a lot of work to do, and has a lot of elements piled on top of it: HEY LOOK! IT’S THE NINETIES! HEY LOOK! SAM JACKSON AND CLARK GREGG ARE WAY YOUNGER! HEY LOOK! NICK FURY DOESN’T HAVE HIS EYEPATCH! I WONDER WHEN HE’S GONNA LOSE HIS EYE? HEY LOOK! ORIGIN STORY! HEY LOOK! IT’S THE TESSERACT, AND YOU’RE EVENTUALLY GONNA FIGURE OUT THAT THE TIMELINE IS CONSISTENT BUT IT’S GONNA TAKE A MINUTE! HEY LOOK! SHAPESHIFTING ALIENS! HEY LOOK! MEMORY LOSS STORY! And a lot of these things are kind of distracting, and ultimately the weight of all this extra shit just kinda drags the film down in a way that weirdly I don’t want to blame on the movie itself, but I should, because it’s not like Marvel didn’t decide to put all this stuff in there, and they could have made different storytelling decisions, up to and including not waiting over ten years and 20 movies to introduce Captain fucking Marvel to the MCU.
  • Look at how long that sentence is. Jesus.
  • Because of all this, the movie needed some more space to breathe at a couple of points that it didn’t get. It moves fast, and while I did like the relationship between Danvers and Fury they just flat trust each other too goddamn fast because they have to to keep the story moving. Similarly, I would actually like to have seen some more of Carol’s time as an Air Force cadet, but I understand why it’s not in there (and the single line “you know why it’s called a cockpit, right?” does a lot of work.)
  • And it puts some weird pressures on Endgame, too, right? Like, part of me kind of expects Endgame to be, if not Captain Marvel 2, at least Captain Marvel 1.5. I love that they included Monica Rambeau as a ten-year-old in this movie but if they didn’t put Monica Rambeau as a grown-ass woman with awesome powers into Endgame I’m gonna be pissed. And the whole Rocket/Goose thing. And I know Endgame is already three hours long and I’m pretty sure it still doesn’t have time to tie up loose ends from Captain Marvel.
  • WHERE THE FUCK IS KAMALA KHAN okay she hasn’t actually been born yet STILL DAMMIT
  • (A way around this: I’ve talked about how I want to see Riri Williams in the stingers for Endgame. If Endgame has, like, six stingers, each doing a brief intro for a new MCU character picking up the reins after Captain America and Iron Man die heroically, I will be a very happy man who is crying like a tiny baby.)
  • Captain Marvel being the actual first Avenger, and not Captain America, is both kinda goofy and kinda hilarious, because the manbabies were already mad about this movie and this is gonna make it so much worse.
  • Not a huge deal, but why are all the Kree blue except for the actors who have enough clout to not want to be slathered in blue makeup? I’m good with them having a variety of skin shades, but it’s kinda strange that ALL of them are blue except for the two white ones and the one black one.
  • So, are all the other Stans Lee that have shown up in all the other movies Skrulls? Because Stan Lee was playing Stan Lee in this movie, on his way to audition for a movie role where he plays himself. So are there Marvel Comics about the Marvel Comic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since we have actual Stan Lee, who is important enough to still be in Mallrats SHUT UP BRAIN

I feel like I’m forgetting to talk about something important, so I reserve the right to add to this as the day goes on. Don’t get me wrong, guys; this is a good, solid Marvel movie, I’m just not doing backflips over it like I have several of the recent ones, and in this particular case the things that were odd or a little off are more personally interesting to talk about. And every dollar Captain Marvel earns makes a manbaby cry! That, in and of itself, is reason for all good Americans to go see this six times. So. Begone, and then come back and talk to me about it.

#REVIEW: SHORTEST WAY HOME, by Pete Buttigieg

This is gonna be one of those book reviews that’s more about me than the book I read, so buckle yourself in for that.

The strongest single-sentence recommendation I can issue for the book my mayor wrote, Shortest Way Home, is this: Pete Buttigieg made me proud to be from South Bend.

(In case you’re wondering, he wants you to think his name is pronounced “BOOT-edge-edge,” but “bootyjudge” is also acceptable, because I’ve voted for this dude four times so far and I get to poke gentle fun at his name if I want to.)

It is rather difficult to express just how unlikely a sentence that is for me to have written. I grew up here, y’all. I escaped to Bloomington for college and to Chicago for nine years after college and then … well, my wife is amazing, I totally married up in the biggest way possible, and I literally would not trade her for anything, but my one and only reservation was how the hell did I move to a city with 3,000,000 people and end up marrying someone I went to high school with?

Which, yeah, that’s what I did. And there’s a whole story there, and I’m not sharing it, but if you had asked me even two years before we got married what the chances were of me marrying someone from high school I’d have told you zero and not been kidding, and I’d probably have been slightly offended by the question. I moved back to South Bend because one of us had to move and I hated my job and she didn’t want to live in Chicago; it just made more sense for me to come back to where my family was. (And I’m not complaining about my family! I hope that’s obvious! It’s just that they all lived somewhere I didn’t want to live in.)

And then we elected a dude who wasn’t even thirty yet to be Mayor, and I think I competed against his ass (and probably lost) when I was on the Quiz Bowl team in high school, and I voted for him because everyone else running pissed me off and he won by default … and then the guy turned out to be way more Mayor than South Bend ever deserved, and he turned the fuckin’ city around in two terms, running against and crushing by 80-20 the parent of one of my former students to win his second term.

And there was that time I almost killed him. And now he wants to be President, and I’d rather have him as my Senator or my Governor than my President right now, but I gotta admit I’m coming around. And Goddammit he’ll be a good President when he gets around to it but I’d still prefer he take over for President Harris when her second term ends in 2028.

So here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure I liked this book more than most people will because, well, I live here. And this is a memoir written by a still relatively young mayor of a mid-sized city. It may be that the appeal is somewhat limited, especially since it really is about mayoring, for the most part, and about revitalizing a city that basically none of you live in. But Buttigieg really genuinely is a smart, fascinating guy, and this is a ridiculously compelling book given what it’s actually about. It’s the second “I’m running for President!” memoir I’ve read this year– Kamala Harris’ was first– and it’s a better book than Harris’ was. (It’s also much less of an “I’m running for President!” book, for the record.) But Pete Buttigieg loves the hell out of South Bend, guys– the book is drenched with it; I thought I loved living in Chicago but it pales in comparison to how Pete feels about being mayor of the town he grew up in. And my curmudgeonly THEY PULLED ME BACK IN nonsense just couldn’t stand up against it. I’m this close to ordering a damn flag, for God’s sake.

(Shout-out to the graphic designers, who incorporate elements of South Bend’s flag throughout the book but never call direct attention to it, in a way that I find clever. The current flag was a product of his administration, and looks like this:)

I still really don’t think Buttigieg is going to be President in two years. For the record, he hasn’t officially announced yet; he’s still in the exploratory committee phase. But there’s a townhall on CNN tomorrow night at nine, and maybe you ought to watch that? And maybe if you watch that, and you think, hell, Luther’s right about this dude, then you should probably check out this book. If nothing else, for the chapter about meeting and courting his husband, which is the most ridiculously fucking adorable thing I think I’ve ever read.

In which I remain unkilled

Holy hell, but this was a long week. I don’t want to get too into the weeds on the details, mostly because they’re boring, but today was one of those days where literally every thing I did for the entire day absolutely needed to get done — like, there was nothing I could put off until later — and was under time pressure, where I had just barely enough time to get each individual task done but only if I 1) executed perfectly and 2) wasn’t interrupted by any other tasks or minor biological necessities like, for example, my morning coffee shit, which got put off by an hour, which meant that by the time it finally happened it was gonna happen whether I wanted it to or not.

… I appear to be teaching again, by the by.

This is a terrible decision, of course. It’s a terrible decision. It’s difficult to overstate how terrible it is. But as of right now one of our 7th grade math teachers has kinda gone away– don’t ask, I actually don’t know a lot of details and I wouldn’t share them if I did– and I’ve picked up the 7th grade honors Algebra class. Chances are when 4th quarter starts in a week I may inherit another section or two, but I put my foot down about it happening right away because I have another five days at least to finish the task I started today, and it’s kinda essential.

I know, I’m vaguebooking. It’s unavoidable, I apologize.

So, yeah. For some indeterminate amount of time– I am assuming for the rest of the year only because that way if it ends before that I can be pleasantly surprised– I am teaching at least one period and possibly as many as three periods a day of math, and stuffing the rest of my full-time job into the seven to five periods that remain.

I’m sure it’ll be fine. I don’t have a bad track record of trying to do more than one job at a time in an educational setting or anything like that.

Oh, and the overtime is $37/period. Times three, daily, times five, per week. Times, I dunno, 9-10 more weeks of school?

So, uh … I’ll find a way to make it work.

Y’all

I get to see Captain Marvel in three days.