Sometimes something in the comic book world comes along and just sweeps me off of my feet. Unlike the previously mentioned disappointing “Infinite Crisis” from DC, “Civil War” from Marvel has blown me away.
Here’s the premise… in order to satisfy a need for publicity, a young, inexperienced and foolish superhero team, starring in a reality show, botch the capture of a criminal in Stamford, CT, and end up killing over 600 innocent people in the process. The public outrage is such that heroes are protested, and Johnny Storm, "The Human Torch" (from the Fantastic Four), is severly beaten into a coma by a mob of angry citizens. Tony Stark, Ironman, helps to lead a movement with the government, passing The Superhuman Registration Act, forcing all of those with any paranormal or superhuman abilities to register their identities and other information. To do otherwise would be a violation of the law.
Who's side am I on? The side that gets me issue 7 the fastest.
Joining Ironman are various heroes, including Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards, She-Hulk, The Wasp, Sentry, and even Spiderman, who, in support of the Act, reveals to the world that he is Peter Parker. All does not bode well with Captain America, however, who sees this Act as a violation of civil liberties, and goes underground to lead a resistance. Following him are Daredevil, Falcon, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage and, in another shocking event, Sue “Invisible Woman” Richards, who leaves her husband Reed.
Except for Storm who joins the resistance, the X-Men sit back and watch, unsure of how to respond, agreeing with Captain America’s resistance, yet knowing how much it sucks to be scrutinized unfairly. Battles rage, Goliath is killed, Thing packs up and leaves the country, Daredevil and others are tossed in a Negative Zone prison, Captain America and Ironman throw down once, and the government authorizes a team of “reformed” villains like Elektra and Jack O’Lantern, who end up beating the crap out of Spiderman when he tries to join the resistance—Jack O’Lantern is then gunned down by The Punisher.
And it all leads to what will be the final issue in the series, issue 7, though the last page of issue 6 shows no fewer than 35 Marvel heroes and icons staring at each other, ready to get it on. And this, my friends, is why Marvel Civil War is one of the coolest things of 2006, or any year.
9. Paying Off the Car
Debt, debt, debt. Got the credit cards paid off, then it was all attention to the car… and in the early summer of 2005, Stephanie and I started paying almost 2 payments at a time in an effort to get the POS car to officially be my POS car. And in March of 2006, we paid off the final payment, a sum of several hundred dollars and its all mine. Student loan, here we come.
8. Emily “K-Swiss” Reynolds
Simply, I would haven’t had nearly the encouragement I had in NYC this past summer without the friendship of Emily Reynolds. The trick is, everyone on our mission trip was connected to someone, be it J-Bo & G-Ann, Mark & Cindy, Chuck and his son Daniel, Coach Tim and Anna Lynn… then there was me. And there was Emily, 16, junior in high school. Striking up an unlikely friendship, we connected in a great brother-sister type way. One night when things were really frustration, I just said, “I’m going to Starbucks” and just went on my way. A few seconds later, I heard behind me “Yeah, me too”, and she followed. We both vented for about twenty minutes. It was needed.
One of my favorite pictures I've ever taken... and I'm not a good photographer, so I have to brag about something
On the way to Coney Island, she gave me her testimony… like me, I think she’s happy to talk about what God has done for her, but won’t just offer it up—you gotta ask the right questions. She was there with encouraging words when the trip got tiresome towards the end, and I was happy to be there for her, even just to listen for a minute, when her tears came. Since we’ve been back, different schedules, plus different lives altogether have been quite an obstacle in much communication, but for one week, she was my kid sister.
7. Harry Potter on Audio book
I had been downloading audio books onto my computer, a few at a time, when I stumbled across Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone. I smacked myself on the head, wondering why I had not thought of it to begin with, so I checked it out and loaded it on the computer, ready to load it on the iPod. I was not prepared for the remarkable journey I was about to take.
I love the Harry Potter books, I think they are marvelous, and sometimes I wonder why I didn’t think of such a simple story back in 1989 when I first started writing. That being said, I had missed my goal of reading them all once a year. So, I began to listen to the first Harry Potter on audio book, on the iPod, in November. Narrated by Jim Dale, a British stage actor, I was immediately drawn in by his pacing, his reading style and the great tones he put on each character. Within half the book, I didn’t even know Jim Dale was reading—I was listening to Hagrid’s rough growl, Malfoy’s slow drawl, Hermione’s feminine nagging and Harry’s simple, boyish voice. When I rode around town, to work, to the store, to church, I would turn on the books.
No, I don't own a Harry Potter iPod. Yes, I would if it were available to me. You happy?
The most often heard response was “Oh, that’s not really reading, that’s just listening to someone read to you”, and I beg to differ. When I’m reading a book with my own eyes, I can have background noise, I can almost multi-task, I can read a page, glance up to change the channel and so on… but with an audio book, I’m glued. I have to listen to every single word, otherwise I’ll miss something. I would put in my earphones, do my housework (laundry, dishwashing, etc) all the while, hearing intently on the story.
All in all, there are right around 80 discs that were loaded, totaling about 95 hours and some change… and I finished Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince just last week, taking me three months to listen to them all—and I was riding down I-59 when Harry kissed Ginny, and it was like I was reading it all over again. If you love Harry like I do, pick up the audio books. Jim Dale is a master, and you’ll never read the books the same way again.
6. “Now I Can Die in Peace: How ESPN’s Sports Guy Found Salvation, with a Little Help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Red Sox” by Bill Simmons
How can you not love this book? How can you not love The Sports Guy?
Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy, has a bi-weekly column on ESPN.com where he writes about what he knows best… the Celtics, the Red Sox, the Patriots, the NBA, pop culture and so on. His first book was written, or at least compiled, after he finally saw his beloved Sox capture the World Series in 2004. Really, it’s a series of columns he wrote leading up to the World Series, put together in chronological order to see the pain, strife, anxiety and nervousness of a Red Sox team who was down to its final out in a 3-0 game hole to the hated Yankees, only to come back and win the series 4-3, then trounce the Cardinals for its first title in 86 years.
The joy of the book, however, is in the footnotes. As The Sports Guy was able to go back and re-read all of his columns he was putting in the book, he added little notes updating what he said back then, or sometimes just spewing out random ideas… in one sentence, he writes a simple statement, “…something bad always seemed to be happening [to the Sox]… in the end, the season wasn’t that much fun.” And the footnote that goes with it? He answers the reader question “If the 2000 Red Sox season was an episode of Saved By the Bell, who would play Zack, Pedro or Nomar? What about Slater, Screech and Kelly?” After answering it well, he adds the next little bit:
Zack’s career actually turned out better than Nomar [Garciaparra, traded to the Cubs right in the middle of the season]—he ended up on NYPD Blue as Dennis Franz sidekick. Seriously, would you have rather been Nomar (Rookie of the Year, 2 Hall of Fame seasons, rapid decline by your early 30s) or Mark-Paul Gosselaar (the lead of the most memorably ridiculous show of the 90s, followed by a respectable stint on one of the most famous cop shows ever)? I’m going with the latter. Call me crazy.
He goes on to address his hatred for the Yankees, the haunting of Fenway Park, Amityville Horror, several references to Andy and Red in Shawshank, U2, The Counting Crows, El Debarge, The Basketball Jesus, lots of Rocky mentions and in my favorite line in the book, he mentions his wife’s love of Albert Pujols… only because his name sounds like “Poo-Holes”. Then he says, smarmingly, “I didn’t know I was married to Beavis.”
It’s a fast read, and you don’t necessarily have to be a Red Sox fan to enjoy this book… its in paperback now, for around $12.
And finally, tomorrow... the list comes to an end, as we reveal the coolest things of 2006... can you say "Everybody to the Limit?"