Quick Review: The Defenders

The wife and I finally got done watching the latest in the Netflix Marvel extravaganza, The Defenders. In order to get to The Defenders we had to suffer through the mediocrity that was Iron Fist, but frankly, seeing how Danny Rand was portrayed in The Defenders made everything in Iron Fist make a lot more sense.

If you’re not familiar with The Defenders, this is a superhero team-up show that brings together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and all of their supporting cast. Throughout all of the previous series there have been whispers and confrontations with the mysterious group, The Hand. The Defenders completes this storyline by introducing the full leadership of The Hand, and the reason for all of their nefarious deeds.

One of the best parts of The Defenders is seeing the four heroes try and relate to one another. Each of these characters is so very different, that putting them all in the same room and having them work together was amazing and really well written. It’s obvious that these people will never be best friends with each other, but they form a working relationship of respect. It’s a team-up that gets the job done when everything is crumbling around them.

I mentioned Danny Rand before, and something that I noticed in The Defenders is that he was still the whiny rich kid. There would be deep rich dialogue between all the other characters, and then as soon as Danny came on the screen, the script would devolve. It convinced me that all of the annoyances of Iron Fist are actually there on purpose. They want his character to be this way because it allows them to put him in circumstances that highlight his stunted personality. In some ways it’s brilliant writing, but man can it be hard to watch.

The Defenders is only 8 episodes, but that’s all that is needed to get the job done. Of course the ending sets up the next round of seasons for each of the shows, and strongly hints at storylines that are ripped right out of the comic books. I’m excited to see what the next seasons of these shows have in store for us, and hope that we continue to get really great television for a while longer.

Math

One of the assignments that my son had in school recently was to do something called Cornell Notes for his math problems. He’s been a typical teenager and complaining about them, but whatever, he’s a teenager. Then as another part of the assignment, he had to send them to me to show what he’s working on.

It was then that I realized I’ve been away from math way too long. Man, even basic algebra is a strain for my memory at this point. I think I still remember the slope equation, but much of the rest of it was buried in cobwebs. Thank goodness I’m done with higher-ed math, and can focus on being a liberal arts guy the rest of my life! LOL

Time to go electric?

I recently test drove a new model of the VW Tiguan, a car I really like driving. I would really love to get one in the next year or so as my kids get older and graduate, but there’s something that keeps showing up on my news feed to make me thinks twice… the rise of the electric car.

Today, there was yet another article about a location considering banning internal combustion vehicles. This time it’s California; as it tries to fight pollution from it’s over-sprawled and car-centric culture. There have been similar announcements from European countries, and most surprisingly China. All of these places are seeking to end the reign of the gas guzzler sometime in my lifetime.

That brings me to thinking that perhaps it’s time to pause briefly and wait for the inevitable explosion of electric cars to arrive. Now that multiple governments have made it apparent where the future lies, it’s going to be a race to overhaul the market. Every manufacturer is announcing their electric plans, because this is one competition that no automaker wants to be late to the game for. If you’re leading this market, you’ve got a much smaller group of competitors to deal with.

VW has announced that they will be turning their entire line over to electric by 2030, and it appears that they will have the start of a very robust line by 2020. So perhaps it’s time to just keep the gas guzzler going as long as I can, until I can join the future with an all-electric vehicle.

Sports and the anthem

I feel like I need to make some type of comment on the hype that is permeating media right now around the national anthem and athletes. What began as a small protest by one football player, about racial inequality in America, turned into a massive circus this past weekend. Even President Trump got into the act, criticizing football players for what he perceived as disrespect of the flag. My friend Wes posted a great blog on his thoughts about this from a religious perspective. However, I’m hopeful that this will also start a discussion about patriotism and it’s role in sports.

Starting a sporting event with the national anthem was a practice that wasn’t introduced until the mid-1920s in America, and it was tied to the fact that America was embroiled in wars and financial depression at the time. It was a way to bring people together around their despair at life in a fractured world. It was also a time in history when the USA was really coming into its identity, and patriotism was a key component to bind the country together.

Yet here we are, nearly 100 years later, still trying to rally the troops to support a nation that has been a world superpower for 60+ years. We’re a much different country now than we were back then, and our pride in America goes beyond simple patriotism, and anthems of solidarity. Our pride comes from what American means to the world, and how we treat others in the world. We’re a nation that has led the world for so long that it is no longer a matter of patriotism, but a matter of worldview. Ever since the end of World War II, we are no longer just another country among others. We are the face of democratic freedom to the world.

Today, that image in the world is changing. We’re no longer the country that we once were, although we’re still the undisputed global superpower. Our morals and values are no longer the ideal that the world strives for, and our society is more fractured and divided than ever before. It’s for that reason that I wonder about the point of the anthem at sporting events at all. We’ve moved beyond needing to encourage people be patriotic.

What we need most in this country is to take a hard look at ourselves and make positive changes in areas where we are not living up to our ideals. Hatred of different races, sexualities, and religions shows that we are not the nation of ideals that we espouse to be. Standing for a national anthem at a sporting event doesn’t fix this issue. In fact, displays of overt patriotism often cause people to come face to face with the reality of what our nation really is. Standing up and saluting this reality is a hard pill to swallow.

Despite the attention that it has gotten, the whole notion of the anthem at sporting events has probably outlived it’s purpose. We don’t need patriotism. We need a nation that understands what it wants to be, and how it wants to treat its people. Until we can get past our current divisions, patriotism and anthems mean very little. They are hollow reflections to a time when we thought we all were one people, unified in purpose. Maybe we were never who we really thought we were.

Some demolition!

Our house is a traditional 1960s rambler style house, and one of the things that has bugged me about it for a long time is a little half-wall right inside the front door. It’s been somewhat useful to have, but it breaks up the living room area in a weird way and made the entryway feel small. So on Sunday, we decided to get rid of it once and for all.

IMG_1619Thankfully, removing a half-wall is pretty straightforward. You simply bash out the wall portion, and then use a sawzall to cut through the nails holding the mounting studs. I had the main section of the wall pulled down in about 20 minutes. Doing the final touches took a little bit longer since I had to get my blade behind the stud on the wall to cut the nails away. I also ran into a weird issue on the other end of the wall, where the stud was mounted all the way into the floor joists, almost as if it was a load bearing wall. I had to cut it off as low as I could, since I wasn’t about to tear into joists.

IMG_1625Once I had everything cleared away and cleaned up, it was time to put in a new piece of wood to take the place of the missing floor. We’re getting a new tile floor put in this winter, but until then we just needed something flat to cover with rugs. I got a 3/4″ piece of fiberboard and cut it to size and screwed it down. I then took an old left-over piece of drywall and mounted it to the wall so we can start taping and mudding it back into a presentable fashion.

It took a few hours to get it all done, and a few trips to Home Depot (of course), but in the end I love what it does to the room. The living room feels like a completely different place, and the entryway space now feels like it’s own area. When we put down some nice ceramic tile over the winter it will help to create a great flow between the rooms, and give us a LOT more space to use as an entry/mudroom type space. We’re going to add some nice storage, and a bench, to complete the entryway feel.

Felt great to do some of this work myself, despite being sore today. Looking forward to the next step in the process.

IMG_1629