My Heroes Don’t Always Need to Be White Guys

Avengers NOW 2014!

Not nearly enough pundits are complaining about Marvel’s all-new White Power Iron Man.

For those just joining the fray: pictured above are the new incarnations of Thor and Captain America that Marvel Comics will be introducing later this year. A recently depowered Steve Rogers will be passing on the Captain America mantle to a black man, most likely his old partner the Falcon. Meanwhile, the Norse god Thor will be transferred into a female identity under as-yet-unrevealed but probably magical circumstances.

The media thought these developments were so vital to our nation’s integrity that I first heard the news from morning-radio DJs while we were on vacation last week in Minneapolis. If commercial radio thinks it’s big news, then clearly it’s Big News whether I agree or not.

In what may or may not be a similarly themed development, the media was alerted today that Hollywood A-lister Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has reached a deal to star in a film based on a DC Comics character to be named later this week. All hints seem to point toward DC’s Captain Marvel, a.k.a. SHAZAM!, whose skin tone doesn’t match his. Preparing their rebuttal days in advance of the official announcement, comics fans nationwide have rushed to brainstorm their list of nonwhite DC characters that the Rock should be allowed to play. How nice of them to be so vigilant in helping the major publishers keep their cross-media adaptations demographically unmodified. And all without being asked first or getting paid for the job.

It’s my understanding that certain loud, obnoxious parties are up in arms on message boards and social media and such, because How Dare They or whatever. Fortunately these overhauls bounced harmlessly off me and my not-so-fragile peace of mind. And here’s why…

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Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 9: a Pit Stop for Half-Pint

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Day 3: Monday, July 24th (continued)

Another few miles down the Great River Byway brought us through the town of Alma, home of a business calling itself the Beef Slough Store. I had a hard time imagining what they would sell or who would buy it. Several light-pole posters along the highway advertised an upcoming production of Urinetown: the Musical. I had to wonder if Alma was one of those Small Towns with a Deep, Dark Secret that ambush unsuspecting travelers in one too many movies or Twilight Zone episodes.

After a quick pause to refuel in the town of Nelson, our next scheduled sight a mere half-an-hour away from the Rock in the House was the Pepin Historical Society and Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. Both are located not far off the shores of Lake Pepin, which we never actually saw.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum!

You can guess which one of us was most excited about this stop. No, not my son.

Right this way for more photos of logs!

Not Put Asunder, Ten Years and Counting

Us in Fargo!

This is how everyone spends their tenth wedding anniversary, right? Because my wife and I sure wouldn’t want to look out of place or anything.

Right this way for a post-vacation update!

Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 8: the Rock in the House

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Day 3: Monday, July 24th (continued)

Eventually, after the dashboard downshifted from Red Alert, and after one missed turnoff along the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River, we skipped back into Wisconsin and reached Highway 35, a.k.a. the Great River Byway, a stretch of road that follows along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi through several small towns all the way to Minnesota. We were unaware until we reached it that the byway was an attraction unto itself, but it was a beautiful surprise. The river on your left is gorgeous, but the ridges and rock formations on your right are intimidating yet impressive.

Wisconsin scenery!

Yes, this photo again. But hours away from the Dells, we eventually remembered that we like nature.

Our first intentional stop on the Byway was in Fountain City, home of a roadside attraction called the Rock in the House. From the front, it’s just another home near a cliffside. As you approach from the modest parking area, it appears ordinary, even quaint.

Just a house.

Just a house….or IS IT?

From the rear, it looks like this:

The Rock in the House

You’re not helping, boy.

Right this way for exactly what it looks like!

Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 7: Last Hurrah in Wisconsin Dells

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Day 3: Monday, July 24th

The morning was spent alternating between packing, indulging in the hotel breakfast buffet — nothing special, but less stale and more choices than what we’d had in Milwaukee — and admiring the hotel’s cable selection, which offered unusual channels that we can’t get here at home like MTV2 and G4. We watched an entire (rerun) episode of Cheat! just because my son and I were fascinated by the idea of a TV show devoted to video game tips and cheat codes, even if the episode featured games we’re unlikely to play anytime soon (among them Batman Begins and God of War).

We checked out and drove straight to Riverview Park & Waterworld, arriving just as they opened the doors at 10 a.m. We originally wanted to be on the road to Minnesota much, much sooner, but the free passes were an unexpected boon. Given how much money we blew the previous days for so much underwhelming enjoyment in return, we were bound and determined to get our money’s worth out of Wisconsin Dells in general, in some bizarre karmic way, even though we don’t believe in capital-K Karma.

I was kinda pooled-out after the previous day’s festivities both at Mt. Olympus and the hotel pool. Since Anne hadn’t had a shot at water rides yet, she and the boy suited up and rode every single water ride on the premises while I played the role of our official bagman.

Waterslide Races!

Water slide races! One of several aqueous pleasures that looked nifty from a distance, if you were in the mood and not BITTER about certain other things that were no fault of this particular water park’s.

Right this way as we bid farewell to this town-sized tourist trap…

Our 2006 Road Trip, Part 6: The Worst Pirate-Themed Anything of All Time

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Day 2: Sunday, July 23rd (continued)

After a long, hard day of amusement and soaking came another long-preplanned stop, dinner at a restaurant named Crabby’s Seafood Buffet. Not just all-you-can-eat seafood: every ad we saw from the Internet to brochures to local posters pictured a pair of clean-cut geeks pretending to be surly pirates in satin, posing beneath a caption vowing “Free Pirate Battle!” This promise was in every single ad we saw, more of a mantra than a motto. To us, this sounded like Medieval Times with a different angle and more food. We expected to improvise our meals on the run all vacation long, but Crabby’s was the only restaurant specified on our itinerary because it just sounded that promising. They even give each patron their own paper pirate hat to wear all through the meal. As with the Jelly Belly Factory, my son protested his hat and refused to don it.

We, on the other hand…

Crabby's

Beyond these doors were sights that would’ve made Spongebob Squarepants shred himself with fury.

Regarding the meal that spelt DOOM for us landlubbers…

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