America’s Age: 232 is the New 194

Famed author Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Pessimist. If I were going to write a novel about cities, and I wanted people to stay interested, I’d write something like, “It was the raddest of times in this one city, but then in this totally unrelated other city, it was the awesomest of times as well, so it’s really a win/win situation no matter which one you go to.” And that’s why Charles Dickens was never a very good travel agent.

-Putting the “Musk” in Muskegon Since 1984-
In a little less than 36 hours from now, I will be traveling to a city in Michigan that a lot of you have never heard of, and will probably never have the opportunity to visit yourselves. With a bi-line like that, you might be worried that I’m in for a week of boredom and early bedtimes, but what you don’t know is that for the moment, Muskegon, Michigan has this man on loan from New York City:

“Who is that?” you ask? Very simply, he is a robotic android sent from the future, whose sole purpose to keep me either entertained or inebriated (preferably both) for the duration of my visit. In this task, he cannot fail — the world depends on it. Also, I need a decent picture of him for my iPhone contact listing.

-Wanted, Dead or…No, Just Dead, Actually-
In my mountain of verbal praise for Wall•E last week, I forgot to mention that I saw (and loved) the movie Wanted as well. I love the shoot ‘em up genre of movies in general, but Wanted also added a decent enough storyline that the movie wasn’t purely eye candy (although Angelina Jolie certainly was). I really like “superhero” movies that feel close enough to the realm of possibility that they could actually happen to someone in real life (say, me, for example), and Wanted distorted the line of believability just far enough that it came off as cool and real-feeling, instead of far-fetched and cheesy. And that’s no easy task (just go visit the offices of the guys who made Daredevil and the Eric Bana version of the Hulk…if they still have jobs, that is).

-Maybe If I Were a Bit More Mild-Mannered…-
On an unrelated note, I am still pretty convinced that I going to develop superpowers at some point in my life. I don’t hold this to be true on the same level that I believe in God, or gravity, but it’s still pretty high up there. If I were to rank it on some sort of Personal Belief Scale about my life, I would put it right between “going to get married someday” and “will have at least one son who is worse at sports than me, so I can mock him openly in front of his friends and school him at basketball.” I’ve had some close calls and near misses to super(hero)stardom in the past (there was the super-hearing era of the mid-90’s…and who could forget the freeze-breath incident of ‘89?), but nothing concrete yet. In fact, I can pretty easily recall a time when I was convinced that the only reason I hadn’t developed any superpowers yet is because, historically, all that stuff doesn’t really start happening till around your 18th birthday or so. You can imagine how depressing my 18th birthday was when I hadn’t started to fly or shoot lasers from my eyes or ANYTHING. But, like the amusingly-naïve man-child that I am, I refuse to give up hope. With my physical body nearing what will probably be its peak condition (don’t laugh at that, you wish you were this skinny), and no noticeable powers to speak of (unless you count being able to type 70WPM and quote every line of dialogue from Arrested Development), now I’m forced to rely on the much less predictable “accident scenario.” Basically, for those of you who didn’t spend your formative years trying to systematically eliminate everything cool about yourself by watching superhero movies and playing with action figures, the ol’ “accident scenario” is a situation in which I find myself having just stumbled into the right place at the right time. Classic examples of this are Spiderman’s “an escaped radioactive spider bit me because I happened to be touring a museum” bit, and the Flash’s “my beaker of wacky chemicals was hit by lightning right as I was being doused by them” fiasco. So over the next few months, I plan to spend a lot of time wandering aimlessly around nuclear testing facilities, touring experimental military technology warehouses, and falling haphazardly into some good, old fashioned vats of unstable, boiling chemicals (that will probably be glowing various shades of green and red). If anyone’s interested in joining me on these junkets, just let me know and we’ll see what we can arrange — after all, every superhero needs a sidekick, right? Besides, if none of that works out, I’ll be forced to resort to the very last option for becoming a superhero: just do a lot of working out and somehow become a billionaire (Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark know how to do it…I’ve always wondered why Bill Gates and Richard Branson haven’t developed some kind of technology or something to make themselves superheroes, but that’s a thought for another post).

-I Can’t Think of Any Puns for This Subtitle That Aren’t Dirty-
To jump back to movies for a second, I saw Hancock on the Fourth of July, and it was awesome. Probably not geared towards those of you who loved Hitch, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot twist at the end is a little suspect, but other than that it’s a great Fourth of July kind of movie, and is set to gross $100 million in its first week or so (exactly as I predicted in an earlier post). I don’t think it’s physically possible for Will Smith to become a bigger, more respected superstar than he already is, but I hope for the sake of the viewing public that Will Smith being at the pinnacle of his success and talent doesn’t stop him from creating great movies and sharing them with us. Also, Will, if you need a nerdy-but-lovable sidekick for Hancock who’s comically lanky, I know just the guy. And yes, Will Smith reads this blog.

As usual, I’ve found myself with tons more writing left in me…but the nighttime calls my name and this post is long enough as is. So with that in mind I wish you a happy and safe holiday weekend, and I promise to scintillate you all with posts during my travels.

Good luck and God speed,

Jason Bateman + Will Smith = awesome.

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