Avengers: Age of Ultron

I made it through both Guardians of the Galaxy and was amused. I wonder which A-list actor is going to be in “Ultron?” After all, Robert Redford had a major role in “Winter Soldier,” and in GotG 2 Kurt Russell had a giant part as principal antagonist. Then there was Sly Stallone turning up once or twice, too. Who’s it gonna be?

Onward!

Next up, Guardians of the Galaxy!

I’ve now seen nine of the first ten movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (I’ll have to go back to “The Incredible Hulk.”) I’ve been pretty favorably impressed with most of them. Sure, they’re comic-book based, but hey, a whole lot of movies are based on preposterous material. Who read “The Bridges of Madison County” or “Ivanhoe” or “Robin Hood” or “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and didn’t say to him or her self “Oh come on. Really?”

The material in these films is mostly new to me, too. I read some “Hulk” comics, but the last ones I remember reading were the early “Fantastic Four” books. I was a Baseball Digest fan, not really a comics guy. It helps to be unfamiliar with the characters and the content, I think, because there’s little chance I’ll be disappointed in them. I remember the howling about Peter Jackson’s decisions to leave Tom Bombadil and “The Scouring of the Shire” out of LOTR!

I watched “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” last night. My goodness. There were certainly a lot of double-crosses in this movie!

I had to pause the movie and look hard at the case credits to confirm that, yes indeed, that WAS Robert Redford up there on the screen with a large role (a VERY large role). He surely did a good job playing strongly against type as a villain.

It was pretty darned exciting, although I wonder how it is that one blow from Captain Rogers leaves his opponents lying on the ground behind him over and over again (see “preposterous,” above).

On to the two Guardians of the Galaxy films. I’ve been told that I’ll like them if only because of their soundtracks. I surely hope those aren’t their only good qualities!

MCU Update

I watched Iron Man 3 last night. I have now seen 7 of the 8 films in the MCU up to that point in the saga. Next up, Thor: The Dark World.

I’ve seen more movies in two months than I usually watch in 7 years!

That’s true. I started going to movies after years of not doing so when the Harry Potter movies came out. Then there was the LOTR trilogy. Then the three Hobbit movies (blah), and then the new Star Wars movies began to come out. All of them were about one year apart when they were released. I saw Black Panther last year and Captain Marvel this spring, both in theaters. The same theater. In fact, now that I think about it, I’ve seen all but maybe one of those movies at the same multiplex. Huh.

So, the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Now that “Endgame” is out, I thought I’d at least make a stab at watching some of these movies. Better late than never, right? I checked, and it seems that my state library has copies of most and possibly all of them. I dutifully scoured the internet for advice on how to watch them and decided using the internal chronology as a guide would make more sense than taking the release date as gospel.

This order seems to be accepted wisdom, so I started requesting them at the library.

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger (Introduces the concept of superheroes and takes place decades before any other movie. Watch it first.)
  2. Captain Marvel
  3. Iron Man
  4. Iron Man 2
  5. The Incredible Hulk (Could skip this one. Weakest of all Marvel movies.)
  6. Thor
  7. The Avengers
  8. Iron Man 3
  9. Thor: The Dark World
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy
  12. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  13. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  14. Ant-Man
  15. Doctor Strange
  16. Captain America: Civil War
  17. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  18. Thor: Ragnarok
  19. Black Panther
  20. Avengers: Infinity War
  21. Ant-Man and the Wasp (Probably the 2nd weakest of the Marvel movies, but there is a bit of info here you need to understand before Endgame. You could just read a recap and save time, though.)
  22. Avengers: Endgame

So far I’ve seen “First Avenger” at home, “Captain Marvel” in the theater, “Iron Man” at home, and “Iron Man 2” (well, half of it; it became blindingly obvious what was going to happen by the end of the film). I just got “Thor” from the library today. I saw “Black Panther” in the theater a year ago. I don’t recall it had any connection to S.H.I.E.L.D. or any of the other players, but that could be my failing memory.

I also discovered that I have to watch these on my desktop. The remote control for my DVD player in the kitchen suffered that most awful of calamities: battery corrosion.

I went off in search of a new remote at Best Buy (no more Radio Shack!) and discovered that they don’t sell inexpensive universal remotes for DVDs anymore; they’re all streaming and television and soundbar. If you want one for a DVD player you have to buy online or pay as much as you’d pay for a basic DVD player (which I need; I have about 40 movies on disc; I don’t want to dump them for Netflix or any of the other options). Progress, bah! I ordered a $10 remote from Amazon which should be here in two weeks.

Reversion to YA-hood

Way back when I was in high school I read like crazy (still do). I had lots of paperbacks, including mysteries (Agatha Christie, Rex Stout), thrillers (Doc Savage) and, in hardcover, about half of the Rick Brant Science Adventure Stories. Those were “boys’ books” which tried to make real science more accessible than Tom Swift ever did. The first book was published in 1947 (complete list here) and the 23rd in 1968.

A few years ago I got a wild hair and tried to find e-book versions of all 24 of them. I downloaded Calibre and began searching. Gutenberg had eleven of them. Then I dug and dug and eventually found the other 13, including the 24th and last, published in 1989, 22 years after the 23rd book was released. Harold Goodwin, who wrote them, explained how it came about that the final book was published so many years later in his Afterword to that book: see page 183.

Anyway, once I bought a Kindle I uploaded the books from Calibre to the e-reader. A few days ago I didn’t want to read anything I had ready at hand and thought I’d try them. I read all 24 books over the space of the last three days.

They hold up pretty well, all things considered. The science is imaginative but realistic, the adventures are exciting and the characters are pretty well-defined. I doubt anyone but collectors and geezers would want to buy them now, but I note that Amazon has an 11-book collection of them in Kindle form for a price that can’t be beat: $1.99.

Book and music purchases arrive

In today’s mail: Paperback editions of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s “Neogenesis” and Eric Flint and Charles Gannon’s “The Vatican Sanction.” Also: the 2016 Celebration of Joan Baez’s 75th birthday, complete with a whole bunch of guest artists singing with her.

Here’s one of the songs: Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter singing Donovan’s “Catch the Wind.”

Here’s another: “Deportee,” an old Woodie Guthrie song sung by Baez, Jackson Browne and Emmylou Harris.

Did you know that Jackson gave the induction speech for Joan at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017?

Still here

Several things have happened since I last wrote here. First, the physical therapist has given me several more exercises, and when I remember to do them they seem to work pretty well. I’m walking with little (but not no) pain, and I’m capable of running my own errands.

Meanwhile, the refrigerator had a drip problem which I lived with for about three weeks while waiting for a part that the refrigerator tech needed to install to put a stop to a frosting-up problem. The part came, the tech arrived, and he found a hole in one of the water lines which was causing the drip pan under the fridge to fill up and overflow. He fixed that, installed the other part, and Hey Presto! no more towels on the floor to soak up the drip!

But wait! On Friday we ran the washer and dryer with no trouble. Saturday morning I washed a week’s worth of towels only to find that the dryer drum didn’t turn. Fortunately I hadn’t put a second load in the washer, so I just had one load of stuff to hang on our outdoor clothesline. Even better, though, I called Sears and got an appointment for a washer/dryer tech to come look at it today, Monday. How’s that for a speedy turnaround?

‘Course, it’s now 3:00 PM, halfway through the window Sears gave me, and he hasn’t arrived yet.

Nonetheless, this kind of stuff makes me feel better about spending several hundred bucks a year on maintenance contracts for these appliances. The newest among them is eleven years old; the oldest is fifteen.

Walking almost normally

I made my first visit to the physical therapy guy today, and he pushed and prodded and pulled and said that what’s really causing the pain is tight quadriceps muscles. Almost the first thing he said was to stop crossing my legs. I’ve done it both ways for years: ankle on knee or knee over knee, and with both legs. He said this puts tremendous torque on the knee and pulls the quad, which was fine at age 25 but not so good at age 68.

He gave me a couple of exercises to do and made another appointment for March 7. One of the exercises is repetitions of wall squats, which don’t hurt too much. The other one, though, is a killer: hamstring curls. Rather than use a resistance band attached to a wall or fixed piece of equipment, he suggested lying on my stomach, looping a towel around my ankle, and pulling my foot as close to my backside as I can. Do that a dozen times, two or three times a day. He demonstrated. It doesn’t feel good.

Fun. Oh well, it’s feeling much better than it was a month ago when this all started, so if this will keep the pain from recurring I’m in favor. Trouble is, I have no set routine for exercising, so I’m gonna have to start one.