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Stan Lee 1922-2018

Stan Lee!

Stan “The Man” Lee and a brief moment with one fan among the millions he entertained, inspired, and/or taught life lessons to through super-heroes and the power of comic books.

I knew something had gone wrong with the day when two coworkers approached and interrupted met at lunch. They usually know better, but they felt it was their duty to break the news to me that the legendary Stan Lee himself had at long last passed away at age 95. In many ways I’m glad they were the messengers, as opposed to finding out by stumbling into random, cryptic retweets from strangers.

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Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!

I Voted!

Me as of 15 minutes ago.

(sung to the tune of the old “Meow Mix” commercial)

Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!

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Primaries Count as Voting, Too

Electiontrooper!

Free stickers: a cornerstone of our democracy.

It was that time again! The first Tuesday in May was once again the pre-Election Day dry run when Americans in many districts have the chance to vote in primaries to decide which candidates will move forward in our aggravatingly binary political system. Primaries tend to lure a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the votes that actual Election Day does, but in some local races, our votes are no less important. Basically, 90% of the population cedes quite a few decisions to the 10% of us who feel compelled to show up and take advantage of their inertia. Advantage: us.

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Elegy for the Final Generation of Toys R Us Kids

Toys R Us v. Green Lantern!

It’s official: everything that stupid movie touched dies. Some just took years longer than others.

Parents and other former children lamented, waxed nostalgic, and raged at the news this week that Toys R Us, the last American large-scale brick-‘n’-mortar toy store chain, may be shuttering its remaining 800 stores over the next several weeks due to the long-term shenanigans of the evil corporate overlords who bought it in 2005 and basically ransacked it for cash for years. Soon that kaleidoscopically immersive childhood shopping experience, one of the few places a family could go and spend a day surrounded only by wall-to-wall playthings, will be downgraded from endangered to extinct.

I’m saddened by the loss, but not devastated. My life has been one long series of toy store collapses.

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Obligatory Photos for the 2017 Solar Eclipse Collection

Eclipse!

Great Scott! The eclipse turned my wife’s forehead into a giant pulsing tumor!

If you were in America today, you’re well aware of the Great and Powerful Solar Eclipse Experience of 2017, a very special occasion in which our nation stood united about anything for the first time this year. For an hour or two, businesses and conversations ground to a halt while everyone tried to find a great view of the moon blocking the sun. Many hoped it would look cool. Some merely liked the idea of catching a rare astronomic event. A few held their breath and waited for monsters or demons to be summoned and raise a ruckus.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 6: Civil War Monuments, All the Rage

Bloody Lane.

Bloody Lane, a former dirt road for local farmers, where 5500 men died in 3½ hours of combat. At left, a Pennsylvania Infantry monument.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

September 17, 1862: fourteen months before President Abraham Lincoln would deliver the momentous Gettysburg Address, a one-day clash between Union and Confederate troops near the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, would end with nearly 23,000 dead, wounded, or missing. The Battle of Antietam went down as the most horrendous battle of our Civil War, the deadliest single day on American soil in all of history.

155 years later, Antietam National Battlefield is now owned, operated, placed in context, and fully annotated by our National Parks Service. Shortly after we entered Maryland from the west, Anne and I showed up in our comfy rental car in search of local tourism, historical backdrops, and names and sights she recognized from her knowledge of the subject. Along the paths were a series of markers commemorating where various regiments and battalions made their stands and paid their prices for their beliefs. We had no idea that a month later, Civil War monuments would become a trending topic on social media. In that spirit, here some are.

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