Masamba!

You may already know this about me: I am a Zoo Person. If you put me in a new city on limited time and ask me what I want to do while I’m there, chances are I’m going to pick the zoo, if they have one, over any other available activities– and I am a big fan of Potawatomi Zoo, which is our local zoo and is genuinely one of the highlights of the area.

We have a white rhino. His name is Masamba. And I got to pet him today. This was my birthday present from my wife– they only let six people do this a week, and it’s scheduled in advance– and we got to spend about half an hour up close with him. I was expecting to have to provide some sort of food or something to get him to come over to us, but apparently he really likes interacting with people, and despite being way in the back of his enclosure when we came down he came lolloping over right away as soon as his keeper called out to him. Behaviorally, he may as well be a giant puppy; eventually he actually laid down against the fence and just hung out with us.

I was joking about bringing a saddle to ride him all week long, and my wife made it very clear that were I to engage in any shenanigans with the zookeepers or were I to ask any Dad Questions of them, divorce would swiftly follow– but y’all, this big boi would totally have let me ride him. Next time we go to the zoo, I’m coming prepared.

#REVIEW: Loki, Season One

The tl;dr version: I hate time travel stories, and I am so, so tired.

I keep threatening to actually review Avengers: Endgame, which I never actually did. I was hip-deep in family crisis at the time I saw the film, and the reason I’ve not written it since then is primarily because the post is going to end up being 12,000 words long, and it’s not going to be fun to write. The short version: I think that Endgame, for all of its fan service and plethora of holy shit moments, in the long run is easily the worst Marvel movie, and in a lot of ways ruined the MCU. Endgame chose the worst imaginable way to solve the story problems that Infinity War set up, and because of the choices made in that film every MCU product since that film has had to be about Endgame.

And now, every single post-Loki MCU product has to be about Loki, too. And this is not an improvement.

(I’m going to assume you’ve watched the show, but sort of talk around the details a bit? So spoiler warning, I guess.)

I’m still going to resist the urge to make this post ridiculously long. I’m supposed to be back in my training in fourteen minutes, and honestly I’m hoping to get the entire post finished before then. Let me get the positives out of the way first: the actual show itself, in a vacuum, is pretty good. Tom Hiddleston is, of course, an amazingly talented and charismatic actor, and they’ve surrounded him with a cast that doesn’t really have any weak spots. I thought the pacing for the program was great; I didn’t think there were any filler episodes (you wouldn’t think this would be possible in a six-episode season, but it is) and while it ends in a very cliffhanger fashion it definitely tells a coherent story, or at least it does once you accept that you have to have watched, like, 25 movies and two days of TV that came beforehand. Nothing in the MCU is really internally coherent any longer; you either accept that or you don’t as part of the product.

The problem that I have is that one of two things have to be true about this show, and neither are good: either I, someone who has been reading Marvel comic books for nearly four decades and is well-versed in the minutia of things like alternate timelines and multiverses, completely misunderstood what the deal was with Loki’s Time Variance Authority, or the entire concept of the Goddamn show doesn’t make a single damn drop of sense from start to finish.

It will not surprise you to learn that I am not blaming myself for this one. It’s possible that I Just Don’t Get It, but I really don’t think that’s the case. I think I understand It, to the degree that It can be understood, because the fundamental problem is that It doesn’t make any sense.

I can accept, begrudgingly, the concept that the Avengers were “supposed” to go back in time in Endgame and steal an Infinity Stone from themselves, but that Loki picking up that same Infinity Stone from where it was dropped and poofing away was not “supposed” to happen.

I cannot accept that a timeline where Loki is a fucking alligator is due to a single “variance” in a timeline, or that a variance that leads to Loki being a woman (strangely, called Sylvie; why does she have a different name from the other Lokis? No idea.) would lead to that variant Loki being culled at, like, eight. That problem definitely happened earlier than that.

This is already multiverse shit before the show creates the multiverse. A world where Loki is a Goddamned alligator is going to be different from our world in a whole lot of ways other than this one dude being an alligator. You can’t just prune the alligator and everything else is fine. And since this show happens before Infinity War or Endgame, and ends with the multiverse being created and Loki getting dumped into some other universe than the one he started in … is the MCU prime universe still the same? Did the multiverse get created before Infinity War or Endgame, or is that just another mess?

We already have Is This Person a Skrull or Not floating around as a universe-wide problem. I really don’t need Is This The Real Universe or Not dumped on top of it, especially when it’s done this sloppily.

I gotta get back to my meeting, but I think you get the idea. I’ll see Black Widow this weekend; we’ll see if that sets me off too.

A Fourth of July factoid

Many of you probably know this, either because you’re history buffs like me or you’ve seen me mention it here before or you saw it somewhere else today, as this is going to be far from the only place to learn this today.

But!

One of my favorite stupid party tricks is that I can always tell you how old America is without having to do the math. My birthday is tomorrow, and I was born on July 5, 1976, meaning I was born the day after America’s bicentennial. I therefore can determine America’s age by just adding 200 to my own rather than dealing with any piddling subtraction like some sort of heathen.

But I have another trick! I can also, by adding 150 to my age, tell you how many years it has been since both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died. You see, the two men both died on the same day– and not only did they die on the same day, but it was July 4, 1826– in other words, on America’s 50th birthday.

Jefferson’s last words were “Is it the Fourth?”

Adams, who always thought America should celebrate its birthday on July 2 because he was a contrary old bastard like that (hot take: Adams was the Bernie Sanders of the 1700s,) didn’t give a damn about dying on the Fourth, but his last words were “Thomas Jefferson survives.” He was wrong. Jefferson had been dead for a few hours, but, y’know, 1826. I don’t know how long it took for the knowledge of Jefferson’s death to make it from Virginia to Massachusetts, but it was probably at least a week or so, and I imagine it took a minute to determine which man had actually passed away first.

And now you know something about what happened 195 years ago today.

Oh dear God that’s enough

Okay, we’re up to like four rearrangings of the office now, and I’m done. I have to be done. Everything’s hooked up except for the supplementary lights (not really necessary any longer, unless I go back to full-time online again) and the microphone, and the microphone might be a bit of a challenge, since it needs to be positionable for both the computer and the TV.

Also, I was stupid enough to move everything around without repositioning the stuff hung on the wall first, and … fuck it, it’s gonna stay covered up by things for a while, because I’m annoyed and tired.

More later, possibly. I have Thoughts about the book I’m reading, but I probably ought to finish it before I write them up, and I’m only about halfway through the book. It’s probably not fair to write the piece just yet, but it’s all that’s in my head at the moment, so the only thing to do is to finish reading it.

In which I know nothing

Not to continue harping on this, but while it will tell you that it has been four days since I have uploaded anything to my YouTube channel (smash that subscribe button!), what that actually means is that I have acquired new equipment in the last few days and the complexity level of my setup has jumped a thousandfold. What was previously hit this button on your PlayStation and maybe make sure there’s not a fan running while you’re streaming has now grown to not only include my computer and a separate little piece of kit, but three different software packages, all of which appear to do the exact same thing but in just different enough ways that overlap isn’t helping, and I’m trying to decide which one I like the most sort of at a base level so that I can start learning how to use it. Because before, the stream didn’t look or sound all that great but there were only like four things that I could adjust, so at least I knew I was streaming at the highest quality I was going to be able to.

Now, there are fourteen million things I can adjust, and I’m also not really quite used to the tv yet– and it took a minute for me to realize that what was showing up on the television was actually not related to what was showing up on my computer monitor (in other words, if I adjust the brightness on the TV, that’s not changing anything on the stream) and so now I not only need to get the tv looking right for me but I need to adjust twelve thousand different things– some of which I’m not even sure what the settings do— so that it looks and sounds good on stream.

Meanwhile, turn off the fan while you’re streaming, you dolt is still something I haven’t quite internalized.

Anyway, what I’m doing is a lot of “adjust settings, upload a three-minute stream, delete three-minute stream” thing, and I’ll do my best to not talk about this too much more until the site is actually ready for prime time.