Hello, my name is…
1 - Charles - The Alliance Worlds - Pacifica. Paradisia. Serenity. Haven. These were the first four names we picked when it came time to colonize new Alliance worlds. Every member nation took part in their creation, and every nation voted on what name we would give the new world. Some people protested that all of the names were English, saying that the world names should reflect every language of the Alliance. But the names were chosen by popular referendums, and while there are many who speak German, French, Spanish, and many of the African languages, the simple fact is that the English, or its rather disreputable cousin American, language is the most commonly spoken tongue in the Alliance. And so every Alliance world had names like Utopia, Harmony, Unity, and Destiny until we changed the selection process in the 2200s.
2 - Betty - Lucas Cats - The Gangani Empire of San Lucas has seen great change in the last few decades. Humanity’s example has shown them other ways to govern, and they have begun the slow transition from an outright monarchy to a partial representative system. A student of British history would recognize the many steps they have taken, and the many more painful ones they have to make in the future. The industrial revolution that was driving through their culture continues, but the Gangani leadership is fundamentally concerned about change and is slow to adapt. That has handicapped their growth in the new space-based industries, but the Gangani Empire is still the single most powerful native polity in absolute population, economic might, and educational infrastructure. The panther-derived Gangani may not be leading San Lucas into a new space age, but they are quicker at adopting proven technologies and techniques than most onlookers would think at first glance. That will make them a powerful leader in San Lucas politics and industry for decades, and perhaps centuries to follow.
3 - Jack - Julie - Julie never wore sleeveless shirts when I was young. Or shorts. Even after we started playing together, I never saw her in anything less than neck to ankle coverage with my own eyes. My imagination was another matter, and it ran rampant. So I thought it was my lucky day when she gave me that real serious look and started lifting her shirt. Then I saw something my abundant imagination never prepared me for. Bruises. Burns. More I just won’t write, even here. It was enough to make me cry. She cried with me for a time, the kind of heart-rending sobs that portend the end of worlds. Then we skipped school and I helped her pack before her father got home from work. We were at her aunt’s before he found out she was gone, and her aunt may have had a few things to say when he tried to pick her up. I wanted to have words with him, too. Words and more than words. I would have killed him if she’d asked me to. I almost did anyways. But the police wanted some words with him, and so did some nice ladies from child services, and a very firm judge had some choice words of his own. Some people say we gave Julie a new life that day. They’re wrong. Julie started her own new life that day. So did I.
4 - Charles - The Hope Mission - The Hope Mission was a Western Alliance project to colonize three giant stars beyond The Wall on a direct route to The Taurus Gateway in the Alcyone system. Constantinople was already colonizing three systems further out, to act as a bridge to Alcyone, but they had no interest in the three closer stars. They were dimmer and less powerful, but they were needed if the Western Alliance was going to have a secure route to the Gateway. So the Alliance invited Alliance members to bid for the naming rights, the proceeds of which would go into the colonization program. English names were banned from the process, since they wished to diversify the system naming conventions. A consortium of Spanish and American interests won the bidding for one system, which became Espera. The New Japanese and Nigerians won the bidding for the other two stars, and so became Kibo and Ireti. Each name was based on the Spanish, Japanese or Yoruban word for Hope, a central theme that the Alliance hoped would unite the three colonies that would be so far beyond the borders of civilization. They have never been developed as heavily as many other Alliance Core Systems, but they are a safe place for any Alliance ship in need of repairs, refueling, or merely time to rest and relax.
5 - Medron - Blade - With the upcoming run of the much-touted “First Black Superhero Movie” from Marvel/Disney, I’ve been going back and watching some of the superhero movies from yesteryear. Wild Wild West. Yeah, I know, not really a superhero movie, but I was looking for Hancock and found it. And I have yet to see the Will Smith movie I didn’t like, so I took one from the Gipper and watched it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I watched Catwoman, and enjoyed it as well. Not as much, and I had more issues with it, but Halle Berry is a talented actress, so it was a good time overall. Today, with so many other people focusing on the season finale of football, I was thinking about something else.
Blade. Yes, the movie about the half-vampire/half-human vampire hunter and general sorta-dogooder taken from the pages of Marvel comics and dropped onto the big screen via the acting talent of Wesley “Tax Dodger” Snipes. I’ve never watched it before, and now that I have I can see how it rests in the annals of superhero movies. It came in at the end of the original Batman movie series, and borrowed the over-the-top stoicism of the titular hero from that franchise. And it came out before the first X-Men film, which shared Blade’s serious, world ending stakes should things go badly. Heh. I said stakes, about a vampire hunting film. ;)
Let me be clear. Blade earns its R rating with orgasmic amounts of blood, limb-chopping and body-exploding violence nearly from beginning to end, and F-bombs galore. I’m betting it skirted the edges of what that rating actually allowed, especially twenty years ago. It also sports a lead character with stoic manliness and few words, a villain with delusions of grandeur, and wise-cracking sidekicks for both of them that end up being both fun to watch and impressively effective combatants in their own rights.
This is not a family movie, in the vein of the new MCU movies with Iron Man and Friends. I’m glad I saw it, but it probably won’t make it onto my repeat-watch list. I prefer more family-friendly fare, but I’ll give it one sword up as a moderately enjoyable film to watch. The enemies gave a satisfying thump as they hit the floor as one of my favorite characters in TV once said. And I did watch a lot of Buffy and Angel in my younger days, so I do enjoy watching a good vampire hunt. There was much to like about this film, even as some of the “special effects” are clearly showing their age.
6 - Betty - Lucas Cats - The lion-derived Toshi of San Lucas ruled the Hankou continent as warrior-priests for thousands of years. Their history literally begins with the rise of their first emperor, as if nothing existed before that day. Those same histories proclaim thousands of years of wise and benevolent rule following that day, showcasing the great care and concern the various emperors, high priests, and warriors had for the lesser beings they ruled. They had a long tradition of providing free carnivals and plays to the poor, and food was always made available to anyone in need. It was a matter of faith, and fact of course, that Hankou was the most advanced, most powerful, and greatest civilization under the stars. And it was the job of the Toshi to lead the empire into the glorious dawn that was their future under the mountain of the gods.
7 - Jack - Julie - Julie’s life changed the day she moved into her aunt’s house. She barely let me leave her alone in the weeks that followed for one. That did a few things for my sense of importance, let me tell you. She tried on a whole new wardrobe, and I loved every minute of it. She looked awful good in just about anything, you see. But I also loved it because every day she woke up and tried on another sleeveless shirt or pair of shorts was another day that she proclaimed her independence from her former life. She had a good home. She let me take her to parties in other people’s homes. She flirted with all the pretty boys. She stayed up way too late at night. She did all the things a girl does when she’s becoming a young lady. Some would say she had a little too much fun. Not me. She deserved all the fun in the world, and I wanted to give it to her. She loved every minute of it. So did I.
8 - Charles - The Gateway Run - Constantinople’s trading firms wanted to colonize Alcyone once we found out The Taurus Gateway was there. But America, and the rest of the Western Alliance, was deeply opposed to that idea. When even the Peloran kindly suggested that they would prefer Alliance neighbors in the system, Constantinople grudgingly agreed to stay out of the system. But they knew how much money could be made through Alcyone, and they were not prepared to relinquish that golden goose. So they chose three stars on a direct route to Alcyone and colonized them instead. They reasoned, not incorrectly, that if they could control the road to Alcyone, they could make nearly as much money as they could with Alcyone itself. So they assembled a new colony expedition and sent it to colonize the systems they named Hellespont, Marmara, and Bosphorus as quickly as possible. It was a good plan.
9 - Betty - Lucas Cats - The tiger-derived Laohu of San Lucas lived forever in the underbelly of civilization on the Hankou continent. They were slaves, their parents had been slaves, and every generation going back to the very beginning of time had been slaves. They were the unfavored of the gods of the mountain, and it was their lot in life to toil for the betterment of their masters. Their masters gave them enough food and shelter to survive, but never enough to thrive. Their labors built the empire but they enjoyed few of the benefits. Then humanity arrived on their world, and they looked up to see flames streaking across the sky from a place far beyond the mountain of the gods. They began to worship these new, gleaming sky gods who wielded fire of their own. Their masters punished all who fell into such heresy, and the Laohu prayed for salvation from slavery and death as they prepared to take matters into their own claws.
10 - Jack - Julie - Julie came out of her shell after moving in with her aunt. She learned to play the clueless ditsy innocent blonde like a fiddle. All the boys that never noticed her before followed her around like puppy dogs. I didn’t get the chance to echo them. She just dragged me along, you see. She practiced her music every day. She taught me how to study. She sang with the voice of a carefree angel. She did homework. She did track and field, ice hockey, and cross-country skiing. And yes, she joined the cheerleading team. She did band and choir. She tried out for everything her father would have held her back from. She grew up before my eyes, leaving behind the shy and reserved girl she had been, and becoming a self-assured and confident young lady. She kept me by her side through all of it. I loved every minute.
11 - Charles - The Gateway Run - The star systems of Hellespont, Marmara, and Bosphorus are named after the waterways that link old Constantinople to the Mediterranean and Black Seas. It is a fitting name for the stars that link Alcyone to the rest of the Western Alliance. Hellespont and Bosphorus are bright and powerful sub giant stars, which makes travel to them far easier than other nearby stars. Marmara is a bright giant, making it one of the most powerful single stars near the Pleiades Cluster. The three systems are the best hyperspace run towards The Taurus Gateway, and most starships traveling there follow that path. Ships stop to refuel, load cargo, or buy updated maps of the Pleiades Cluster. Their crew and passengers go to restaurants, buy collectables that prove they were there, or see the beautiful vacation destinations. Those systems are money pits, a source of revenue for the great trading empire that is Constantinople.
12 - Medron - Hancock - So we’ve got a new movie coming out soon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Panther. It’s been promoted by some press as the first black superhero movie. And others as the first black blockbuster movie. I’m certain it will be a good movie. I have yet to dislike a single one of the new Marvel movies, so I expect to enjoy this one as well.
But to get into the mood, I’ve been gong back and watching superhero movies of the recent past. Catwoman. Blade. I may have strayed into looking at Wild Wild West and Men in Black. Not exactly superhero movies. More in line with Lethal Weapon, but still fun to watch. The last one I watched was Hancock.
I have yet to see a Will Smith movie I did not enjoy. Hancock proudly continues that tradition. It starts in modern day Los Angeles, where a very drunk Hancock is spending most of his time not giving a crap over what people call him. He’s an a-hole, and he acts like it with a careless disregard for property. Unless someone shoots his beer bottle. Then he gets annoyed.
Long story short, he’s been around since the early 1900s. He doesn’t age, he can fly, he’s bullet proof, he’s really strong, and he can stop a train by just standing in front of it. And he’s the only one of his kind. Then he saves the life of a guy who specializes in image consulting for businesses. Which starts the “redemption” arc of the movie.
There’s more to the story, but that gets spoilerific, so I’ll just say that it is fun all the way to the end. Though unlike many superhero movies, Hancock’s only true supervillian is himself. It’s a surprisingly deep story, with some serious Kleenex moments. And it works. I could see Hancock in either the DC or MCU movies popular right now. It portrays him as both powerful and vulnerable, like most modern superhero movies do, giving it a truly human base to work with.
I give it two high-flying thumbs up as a thoroughly enjoyable film to watch from beginning to end.
13 - Betty - Lucas Cats - The lion-derived Toshi of San Lucas ruled the Hankou continent under the mountain of the gods’ watchful eyes. They were glorious and powerful, serving the greatest gods in the universe. Then the fires of our arrival burned in the heavens. We did not come from the mountain, as previous fires had. We came from the skies, and that shook their beliefs to the foundations. People questioned the power of the mountain gods, and a full-scale religious war erupted throughout Toshi society. They fought with words at first, then snarls and claws, and finally with far more dangerous weapons. Their slaves took the opportunity to rebel as well, and Toshi society was soon beset on all sides with chaos and change. Religious and rebellious violence waged across the continent for decades. Then the mountain of the gods awoke once more and buried all who doubted the true gods under burning lava. Or so the faithful explained it. Faithful and unfaithful alike fled to the highlands to escape the lava, and they fought even harder for the scarce resources and land up there. It was the end of the world as they knew it.
14 - Jack - Alex - Alex was one of those popular girls when I was young. She already had her life mapped out and ready to execute. She was going to an Ivy League ones, so she was taking all the socially high-minded classes. Then she was going to be a lawyer. Or a politician. One of those get-rich-quick positions, followed by a lifetime of appearing on news shows and talking about the latest scandal the media wanted us to care about. And considering how far the background checks can go for positions like that, she couldn’t afford to be hanging out with a do-nothing slacker like me. A single scandal could take her whole future away, so she never gave me the time of day. I still remember the day I brought Julie over to Alex’s house. Alex gave me one disgusted look and told me to leave. Julie wouldn’t let me go, though. Alex said I was bad news. I would drag her down. She said a lot more, and not all of it was printable in polite company. The thing is, she was right about me.
15 - Charles - The Gateway Run - The first Gateway Run passed through twelve star systems. Alcyone is approximately three hundred and seventy lightyears from Earth, but we traveled nearly six hundred lightyears on the crisscrossing route we were forced to use. A War Era American warship with a top-of-the-line hyperdrive could maintain an average effective speed of over fifteen hundred times the speed of light, and make the entire trip in as few as one hundred thirty or forty days. Assuming ideal hyperspace conditions. Hyperspace is never ideal, so it was not uncommon for transits to take one hundred fifty, or even two hundred days. Slower civilian transports could take a year or more to travel that route, one way. But that represented the best we could do at the time, and many smaller transport corporations made their entire living by sending ships into Peloran space and bringing back anything they were willing to trade with us. One never knew what minor knickknack the Peloran had forgotten was important and hung on a wall because it was pretty. We revolutionized entire fields of manufacturing and science on the back of those knickknacks. And most of them came to Earth on The Gateway Run.
16 - Betty - Lucas Cats - The tiger-derived Laohu of San Lucas grew up as slaves under the mountain of the gods of Hankou. Then humanity arrived and our flames came down from the sky instead of up from the mountain. The Laohu saw in those fires new gods that might shine down on them with more favor than the gods of the mountain. It seemed like an answer to prayers when their masters began to fight amongst themselves. Then the Laohu took the matter in their own claws and added to the chaos with a full-scale rebellion. The twin fires of religious war and a slave rebellion raged across Hankou until the mountain of the gods awoke and buried those who had failed them under burning lava. Or so the followers of the new gods explained it. Then they fled into the lower mountains and foothills in an effort to stay ahead of the lava coming from the mountain. Their former masters followed them, and the wars redoubled over the vanishing resources and land that remained as the world burned to an end around them.
17 - Jack - Alex - Alex wanted nothing to do with me the day I brought Julie over to Alex’s house. But I got Julie to pull up her shirt to show Alex the bruises. I told Alex that Julie couldn’t live with her father anymore. I still remember the look of hatred she aimed at me in that moment. They were first cousins, and an abusive uncle would hit every scandal rag if she followed her dreams into the talking head networks. She would be pigeonholed into every parental abuse media panel. She would be the face of abuse on the networks. She wanted more than that. So much more. I was destroying her future by bringing this into her life. Then Alex looked back to Julie and the hatred melted away in favor of compassion and love. She welcomed Julie in to tell her mom, and when Julie made it clear that I was coming in too, Alex gave me just one exasperated smile and nodded me in. Some people say that people can’t change. I know the truth. I saw Alex change before my very eyes in that moment, and I will never forget it.
18 - Charles - The Gateway Run - Our Post War Gateway Run was considerable shorter than that available to us before The War. We gained access to the multiple-star system of Capella for instance. And what scientists still called 1 Geminorum. Those systems gave us some of the fastest hyperspace routes that were available to us at the time. They reached farther, faster, and better, shrinking the number of stars we had to cross to a mere seven. And the more direct route shaved nearly one hundred lightyears off our entire transit. The same War era American starship that could only maintain fifteen hundred times the speed of light could maintain over two thousand lights on those routes, and make the transit in eighty days. Or one hundred, or even one hundred fifty if hyperspace was particularly uncooperative. Even that was a significant improvement on our travel times to The Taurus Gate. And we did improve our hyperdrives in the meantime. Modern ships are far faster than old War Era starships, which makes the galaxy a much smaller place today than it was when the Shang brought The War upon us all. All of that is thanks to The Gateway Run and the knowledge that traversed it.
19 - Thank You, Mister President Long ago, before hipsters walked around with cell phones twittering in their hands and dinosaurs walked the Earth, merry bands of Europeans came to America in search of a new life. Some sought riches in the New World. Some sought freedom from the Old World. But as often happens, both riches and freedom were curtailed as time went on. We demanded our liberty and freedom be respected, and when it was denied, we rebelled. We fought.
General Washington led us. Through good times and bad, in bloody summers and freezing winters, he gave one inch of his life at a time. And when our freedom was secured, he retired and went home. But out first attempt at governing ourselves failed. America was collapsing, and so General Washington accepted the position of President Washington under a new Constitution. He is the only President to march with the army when it went out into the field, and his mere presence ended the conflict before weapons were fired. He stepped down after two terms, a precedent followed by every President but one until the two-term limit was made part of the Constitution.
Many say that without George Washington we would not exist as a country. That he was one of those cornerstone individuals around whom history rotates. Perhaps that is true. Or perhaps we venerate him too much. Perhaps another General could have led our armies against the British. Perhaps another President could have held us together in our greatest moment of fractured identity as a young nation. Perhaps.
But I know one thing. It was George Washington who did it. And today is the Federal Holiday celebrating his birth. So I say this. Thank you, Mister President, for helping to create the nation I have grown up in. The nation I love.
20 - Betty - Lucas Cats - The lion-derived Toshi of San Lucas lost their rule over the Hankou continent when the mountain of the gods exploded and buried much of it with burning lava. They retreated into the highlands, but there was no escape from the ashfall that came every day. They fought and killed over the scarce resources remaining, or over who was faithful to the gods and who had caused the gods to destroy them for their faithlessness. Our relief teams arrived during the worst of the fighting, and they came at us too. They were insane with hunger and a religious war that could see only themselves and the enemy. We sent aid to save their lives, but all we succeeded in doing was to complete the fall of their civilization. Their survivors live now only in scattered camps, sprinkled throughout the ruins of their once-great empire. They shun us and our aid in hopes of proving to the gods of the mountain that they have not lost their faith. And so they continue to fade into obscurity as the worlds pass them by.
21 - Jack - Alex - Alex was one of those popular girls in school. The ones that did cheerleading, track and field, concert band, and stuff like that. All the girls wanted to be her. The boys wanted…well…you know what boys want. But she changed the day I brought Julie over to her home. She started focusing on the stuff that Julie liked. Guitars, tambourines, and other smaller instruments. She learned to play a real mean fiddle. She could pretty much play anything she wanted to if I’m being honest. I learned to play a lot of the stuff I play now from her. Not that I loved every minute I spent with her. She was real suspicious of my motives, and I don’t blame her. I would have been suspicious of me too in her shoes. But she was willing to deal with me if it made Julie happy. She was willing to deal with a lot if it made Julie happy. Her boyfriend? Not so much. He was beyond suspicious of me, and that led to some…difficulties.
22 - Medron Pryde - Goodbye Billy Graham Today is the first day in my life in which I do not share this Earth with Billy Graham. I grew up hearing about him and listening to him on television. I learned how he worked with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. How he refused to accept segregation at his revivals and preached against racism. How he spoke out against Communism as an Evil against mankind. He was a fiery orator and a man of burning convictions.
By the time I was alive, he had retired from practicing politics. He’d long since gone the way of the middle mediator, willing and eager to talk to anyone of any political persuasion. He was on this Earth to speak to Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, black and white, men and women of all ages. And always, in every appearance I remember, he would say that Jesus loves you. All of you. And that Salvation comes through accepting Him into your heart. He has spoken this Gospel in person, through television, and the internet to more people than any other person in history. His ministry says over 2 billion people have heard him speak. That’s amazing to think about.
Today I live in a world he does not. And I think we are all poorer for that. I don’t think this is really the end of an era. He isn’t Methuselah, and I don’t think his death will be the signal of a new catastrophe that will destroy civilization as we know it. But he was a good man who made it his life’s work to help other people through charitable organizations and more. Those live on without him now. So do the rest of us, and it will be our job to keep civilization running along. It is my great hope that Billy Graham’s words are not forgotten as we do this.
Now Billy Graham had a few words to say about the matter of his death. So I’ll let him close this little memorial with his own words.
“Someday, you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” - Billy Graham
23 - Betty - Lucas Cats - The tiger-derived Laohu of San Lucas lived as slaves of the Hankyu until the mountain of the gods erupted and buried their civilization in lava and ashfall. They retreated to the highlands where they fought off crazed survivors and prayed to the sky gods for salvation. We arrived with aid and they welcomed us with open claws. That’s a peaceful greeting by the way. An open display of their natural weapons with an implied promise that they are hiding none. They accepted the food and supplies from our understandably nervous aid workers, but the aid we could give was more limited than we wished to admit. We could save their lives, but we could not cleanse their lands. Then the Chinese arrived and deployed an air purifier network nearly as large as the one we used over the Pacific Ocean on Earth. We wondered why the Chinese went to so much expense until we learned that the cats of Hankyu had been genengineered from ancient Chinese tigers and lions. The Chinese policy that anything that has ever been Chinese IS Chinese is long established, and they certainly consider these cats theirs to lift up into space. Something they have done with regularity ever since, and the Laohu are happy to serve their gods in whatever way they require.
24 - Jack - Alex - Alex had a boyfriend when the whole situation with Julie came up. He didn’t much like me hanging around his girlfriend, and told her that. He even gave her an ultimatum over it. Well, I figured that was it for my time in paradise, so I took one last look at Julie. At which point Alex told me to stay sat down or she’d beat me. Then she got up into his face and started chewing him up one side and down the other over daring to tell her who she could be friends with. He may have suggested that I don’t do just friends. A slanderous accusation, I assure you. She displayed a mastery of the dictionary that impressed me at that, and finished with a demand that he apologize to both of us or walk out and never return. Well, he got his pride up and walked out, proving that I was right about him not being good enough for her. Then she sat down with Julie and had a good, long cry. Me? I stayed sat down like she told me to. Momma Hart did not raise a complete idiot. I found out Alex was made of both stronger and softer stuff than I’d known that day. She needed all of that strength and softness in the years to come.
25 - Medron - A Tale of Two Movies I watched Black Panther last weekend with friends. I watched The Greatest Showman this weekend with family. The two experiences were unequal in the extreme.
The Black Panther takes place primarily in Wakanda, a proud and insular fictional nation in the depths of Africa. We don’t see much about life in the nation, but we do see what are assumed to be modern Islamic kidnappers working their African Slave Trade in one of the early scenes. And the American Inner City is another early set piece we see, with the strongly verbalized opinion that Wakanda is much better than both of those blighted societies.
The Greatest Showman takes place primarily in 1840s and 1850s New York City. Students of history will know that Slavery still existed at that time in America, even in the North. The movie ends a couple years before PT Barnum becomes one of the founding members of the Republican Party due to his opposition to Slavery, but you can see the man who made that decision on screen in this movie.
The treatment of Africans and their descendents is a central theme of Black Panther, and the simple fact that Europeans have mistreated them is an evil that must be fought against. The central adversary grows up in the American Inner City his father was killed in which of course turns him into a cold blooded killer. He hates his white oppressors and naturally wants to engineer an Obama-style over-the-border Fast and Furious gun running scheme so he can help the downtrodden blacks of the world rise up and kill their white overlords. The primary Wakandan opposition to that plan is that if Wakandan weapons did that, everybody would think Wakanda did it, and then every nation on Earth would want Wakanda dead.
The central theme of The Greatest Showman is that PT Barnum brings together people of all types, “freaks” as they are called by some of his denigrators, to put together a variety show that hundreds of thousands of people will visit. The Bearded Woman, the Dog Faced Boy, General Tom Thumb, and a variety of other human oddities populate the movie. People who are laughed at or looked down upon by others. A black brother and sister are trapeze artists, and the sister quickly becomes part of a love story with Barnum’s business partner, a high-class white man. Almost every character arc in this movie is about people fighting to rise beyond the station society has placed them in, and who make their living by making people laugh or smile. They bring joy to the world.
The two movies could not be more different. They are both filmed with amazing cinematography, costumes, backdrops, and choreography that makes them beautiful to behold. It is the stories that are strikingly opposed. The Black Panther languishes in the darkness of its revenge-based storyline, complete with backstabbing, betrayal, and the death of kings. The Greatest Showman rises above the injustices of the time by seeking to make everyone laugh, love, and find joy, even the most staunchly proper Queen Victoria.
I left Black Panther during the credits. It’s the first movie I’ve done that with in years. Especially a Marvel movie. I did not enjoy the movie and did not wish to wait for the after-credits scene. And I don’t know if I will ever want to watch it again.
I stayed in my seat until the lights came on at the end of the credits for Greatest Showman, because I didn’t want to leave the world it weaved into existence behind any earlier than I had to. I am not a great fan of musicals, but I loved The Greatest Showman. It is the best movie I’ve seen this year, whether a new one in the theatre, or any of a dozen movies I’ve seen on my own smaller screens. I left happy, amazed, and blown away at the world PT Barnum created. And then I researched the real man and found out that the movie downplayed his life and achievements, probably because they didn’t think we would believe what he really did. Truth is more amazing and stranger than what we see in this movie, but even in the tiny slice of Barnum’s life this movie reveals, we see the man who would later help create The Greatest Show on Earth.
The Greatest Showman is a celebration of life, joy, and wonder, and I eagerly await the opportunity to see it again. I give it two thumbs way up, in whatever circus currency your imagination can bring to life.
26 - Medron - Taxes - The joy of being a small business is…taxes. The joy of having one small business writing books, another small business renting part of my house, and selling a second house to pay for my Obamacare medical expenses, is MORE taxes. And more COMPLICATED taxes. Every year, I have to spend more hours and days of my life than I would like to in order to bring together all the information I need to give my registered CPA the information she needs to fill out my taxes. So guess what I’m doing now, rather than writing the stories I very much want to write? Taxes. Sometimes I just want to pass on that “adulting” certificate and go back to being a kid.
27 - Betty - People sometimes ask me if I would still have chosen to be born had I known what would happen. My answer is always “yes.” Oh, there are things I would do differently, but that’s life. We all have 20/20 hindsight. The difference is in how we deal with the mistakes we make. And the things we do right. Both success and failure can make or break us. It’s what we do with them that matters. And I plan to make myself matter for a very long time indeed.
28 - Jack - Letting Julie and Alex go was the biggest mistake young me ever committed. We would have been amazing if I followed them to Nashville. Best singing trio in all the worlds. Seriously. You’ve seen the singer and them in action. We would have been that good together. We could have traveled in peace. Seen the worlds from above and walked their streets in search of memories. It would have been amazing. And I think we all know it would have been a life worth living. But then I never would have met Betty and Jasmine. I never would have been a Cowboy. And there wouldn’t be a dozen and more mes flying around and getting into trouble all over the worlds. Now that would be no fun at all.