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.

Leg update

I saw the doctor on Thursday afternoon, February 7. He watched me bend my knee (very good range of motion when seated) and said “it looks like arthritis. Let’s x-ray it. I’ll also prescribe some ointment and a painkiller.” So we did.

I picked up the prescriptions (a very fragrant mentholated cream and some 15mg Meloxicam) and went home. An hour or so later the doc called me to say the x-rays were pretty clear that it was an arthritic knee with a little bursitis in the hip. He said he’d refer me to the physical therapists at the VA. We’re now into the fifth day since he referred me and I’ve heard nothing. I don’t think there’s more than one of those people up there, so it may take a while. Meanwhile the internet tells me these pills may take up to two weeks to have their full effect, and my knee shows no signs of improvement. I’m getting groceries thanks to my sister, but there are other errands that are not getting done.

I am not a happy guy right now. If I had gotten a treatment or a series of exercises I could do at home I’d feel like progress was in view. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet.

Woe!

Hobble, hobble

Long about Tuesday or Wednesday of last week (so, January 29 or 30), I started feeling pain in my right thigh from knee to hip. I didn’t get hit by a car, I didn’t walk into a table, I didn’t “sleep funny.” It has gotten progressively worse, so on Monday I called my VA doctor’s office to see if I could be squeezed in somewhere. The earliest appointment I could get was tomorrow, February 7. I surely wish it would arrive soon, as this pain is really difficult to deal with when you have an elderly mother to care for along with yourself. I limp down the hall, limp out to the driveway for the newspaper, limp out to the mailbox, and enlist my sister to go to the grocery to get TV dinners since there’s no way I can stand at a stove and cook.

It seems to be centralizing in my knee, the same one I ripped up twenty years ago. I know the original wire used to reattach my patellar tendon to my kneecap has broken into four pieces (I’ve seen X-rays), but I don’t know if that is the cause or if it’s arthritis, bone-on-bone rubbing, or what. Hopefully I’ll get the start of an answer tomorrow.

Now those are lead paragraphs!

President Trump famously declared that in his administration the nation would become tired of all the winning. So on Friday he tried a little losing.

After the longest government shutdown in history, Mr. Trump surrendered with nothing concrete (or steel) to show for the battle, taking essentially the same deal that was on the table in December that he originally rejected, touching off a 35-day impasse.

So begins Peter Baker’s NY Times story of Trump’s cave-in, climb-down, abysmal failure, or pick your phrase today as he announced he’d allow the government to re-open.

I don’t know whether he thought he could bully Speaker Pelosi or whether he just didn’t believe he could be thwarted, since in his first two years in office Congressional Republicans hadn’t objected to much of anything he wanted to do. Either way, he knows differently now.

I don’t expect him to change, though. He’s a stupid and stubborn man whose sole interest is himself. He cares little about the country, its success, or its people. The sooner we’re rid of him the better.

One last thought from Baker:

Whether this episode prompts Mr. Trump to change his approach to governing, it has altered the politics of shutdowns leaving federal workers caught in the middle.

One hopes that’s true. 800 thousand employees and who knows how many contract workers were screwed here for one reason only: the stubbornness of one man and his fixation on a project no one else in government believed in.