Saturday, May 05, 2012

Why, Joss? Why? (Avengers spoilers)

Dear Joss,

 I went in, wanting to love your movie so much. I got in early because of a middle-aged bladder. Stood outside the theater door, as they cleaned up after the show that preceded mine. I was the first one seated in the theater, midway up, center seat. I didn't even buy a Cherry Coke because I didn't want to have to get up and miss anything in a movie with a 155-minute running time. Great scenes. Funny scenes. Black Widow's interrogation was brilliant. Superheroes meet and they fight. That's pure Marvel. You so completely got the spirit of Marvel comics as directors and writers seldom do! I was along for the ride, and enjoying every minute, and then you dropped the bomb on me:
Thor: He’s my brother.
Natasha Romanoff: He killed 80 people in 2 days!
Thor: …He’s adopted.
From that moment on, I was outside the movie, looking in. My daughter's adopted, Joss. I love her more than comic books. I love her more than Firefly. I love her more than my own life. To imagine having to explain that line to my six-year old daughter and why everyone in the audience is laughing at Thor while he distances himself from his brother, as if he is somehow less connected because Loki's adopted, took me outside the movie. I was now a viewer; a critic. I was no longer an active, willing participant in what I thought was otherwise a great, great film.

 From that point, I was more critical in my viewing. I was less forgiving of the flaws. The funny moments, and there were many classic Whedonesque moments, weren't as funny to me. I struggled to get back in; to let the line go. It probably wasn't meant with malice, I thought. I don't think you meant it that way. But I just couldn't move past the fact that it was there.

 I've read from other sources that some oversensitive adoptive parents have a problem with that line. I'll take that hit. I may be oversensitive about it, but you know what? As an adoptive parent, it's my job to be sensitive to it. It's part of the gig. I was prepared beforehand and remain prepared to deal with comments about my multiracial family. I have stood up for my family on numerous occasions because of unthinking comments that have been made about the fact that my daughter's Chinese. It's not easy sometimes, and it has cost me personally, but it's a price that I am more than willing to pay.

So now I have to play the role of the single dissenting voice in a sea of mass approval for the Avengers. I've played this role before. Some people even expect it of me. But for the one throwaway line that was not important to the advancement of the plot, it was a great movie, and I'd be among them. But, as it stands, I'm not. I'm sorry, Joss, but I just don't see why that line was necessary, and it ruined the rest of the movie for me. I don't expect anyone who's not an adoptive parent to understand. But I am one, and I have to stand up for this principle. If I don't, then I am not the father I want to be, and I am not the man I want to be. I'm certainly not perfect, but I hope I'm at least consistent.

 I read in an interview this very telling anecdote by Thor actor Chris Hemsworth:
The line where I say, “He’s adopted.” I had no idea that would be funny [laughs]. When we shot that, I went, “Is this really funny?” But, that’s the thing. Joss is hilarious.
No, Mr. Hemsworth. Your instincts were correct. It's not funny at all, at least to me.

Addendum: After sleeping on this, I decided to go back and see it again with my wife, who I warned about it. Except for that line, it IS a great movie. I was able to look past the line, but I still wish it wasn't there.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Solution Squad

So, what have I been working on that has taken all my blogging time? Solution Squad!

Solution Squad is a teenage group of heroes with math-based abilities who entertain and educate at the same time. Kids learn without even realizing it!

With my niece, Rose, handling the art, we have made a webcomic that will be printed as a regular comic once we have 24 pages under our belts, and you can see it at!

If you feel inclined to back our Kickstarter, you can do so at this page!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


He was only my second dog, and the first one I got as a puppy. He came to our school as a skinny little stray, a tan shepard/lab mix with a dark patch across his back and tail. Erika Eldridge picked him up, and found him a temporary home. She knew I was looking for a dog, but knew I didn't want a big one. The first time I saw him, I knew he was my dog. He ran right up to me and started licking my leg. I took him home in a box, but he was so energetic, he sprang right up out of it and licked me in the face. When I got him home, he fit in the palm of my hand. I took him to the vet, who estimated that he was about ten weeks old. We crate trained him at first and penned him in the kitchen of our apartment with it, but he ended up climbing the crate with his claws and escaping. We knew then that he was pretty smart.

After a few weeks, his feet doubled in size, and his ears started to stand up, though one flopped down half the time. I took him for walks, and he ate goose poop. He thought it was a delicacy. When we moved into our house, he was fully grown at 88 pounds, and was quite a handful. When we went for walks in our new neighborhood, he would grab the leash with his teeth and pull me along. I was never sure who was walking whom.

From the beginning, he was an athlete. He would run, chasing Frisbees and lasers, until he was ready to collapse, gasping for air. I eventually got him to catch the Frisbee, and it was his favorite game to play. When he would bring it back to me, I had to get it from him, while he caught his breath. He would eventually tire of that game and drop it, but not before he taunted me at least twice.

Another favorite activity of his was shoveling snow. When I would take care of the driveway, he would always join me outside, waiting for a load of snow to come his way so he could snatch it up in his jaws. We even tied a sled to him a few times, but he would take off so fast, the sled rider would fall off the back. Shadow LOVED the snow.

Until he was about 11 years old, he was the same energetic, playful puppy I met on the very first day. He really started slowing down, sleeping more, and having trouble catching the Frisbee. I knew he wouldn't live forever, but I didn't expect such a sudden decline. We finally had him put to sleep today when he got really sick at home. He'd been getting more aggressive as well, probably partially due to arthritis, and although it was difficult I knew it was the right thing to do.

The house seems so much quieter without him. It's an absence we'll be feeling for a long, long time. Goodbye, Shadow. I already miss you.