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The X-Men

I love long weekends, and the Fridays which come before them… Today, out of idle good spirits, we are playing Who’s Your Favorite Superhero? at work. Mind you, this is among a bunch of social services professionals — welfare case managers, job trainers, day care network managers — mostly older than me, from late-20s on. Normally I would expect to be having this conversation with my just-out-of-college-and-unemployed-or-in-the-newmedia-biz friends, not these folks. But Angelo insisted.

So we found out Kent, who is probably my dad’s age and from Nebraska, likes Batman because it is dark. Diana, who feels very much like my favorite aunts to me — she runs the day care network and has a daughter my age — likes Thor. One of the job trainers, who I feel inclined to call Ms. Brown because her clients call her that and she just holds herself with such dignity that I can’t bring myself to do otherwise, went into ecstasies about how much she likes Storm from the X-Men. “Because she has power over all the elements,” she enthused. “Like the mother! You know?” Either that or the Beast, “because he has the power of the mind!

Me, I like Gambit when I’m playing Marvel vs. Capcom (I play him game good! Mash him the keypad! Beat win!), Dazzler or Jubilee just out of sheer identification with energetic tomboys, but mostly I like Buckaroo Banzai. You can’t beat being a neurosurgeon, ninja master, rocket jockey, and a rock star. That’s like the royal flush of superheroism.

I haven’t ever been a heavy comic book reader, though. For reasons I haven’t ferreted out of my parents yet, comic books weren’t a part of my childhood to speak of. I consumed whole Bloom County books without chewing (“Bill did what to Henry Kissinger? Haaaaa ha ha ah ha ha… um, who’s Henry Kissinger?”), and I had whole Edward Gorey abecedaria memorized by age ten, but I didn’t really have any exposure to comic books at all. I got into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men in junior high, but just the animated stuff, and only enough to get me into karate classes for a year or so. My distance from comic books, and their pariah status in the world of literature, made me leery of them.

The idea of the X-Men has always been so appealing, though, especially when I was younger and straightening out where I stood in relation to my prep-school classmates. How can you resist the message?: The weirdness in you is a powerful force for good. It’s enough to almost make me want to see the damn movie to see how they play that theme out, even though the staff of Marvel apparently thinks the film is gonna suck. I hate like crazy that the film industry has their greedy tenterhooks deep in my feelings of loyalty and self-identification like this, but what are you gonna do. Shell out the ten bucks (I hate New York, what I wouldn’t give to be back at the fourplex in Amherst) and take it like a man.

Perhaps because I have been spending time in the world of The Beetle, also because of this morning’s office game, I feel like ruminating on the meanings and place of superheroes in our culture… maybe I should read Bettelheim?… maybe I should write a book…

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Strange websites I have come across in the past 24 hours: one on a chicken dish and one on beef plugs. I would recommend poking around the last site some. I think it’s healthy for everyone to know the minute details of production of the things they eat. After all, it’s someone’s job to handle the beef plugs all day…

ok. back to work now.

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