I lost a kidney but gained a son. Good trade.
Well, they finally did it. After 20 looooooong years, Marvel Comics has ended the marriage of Peter (Spider-Man) Parker and Mary Jane Watson.
Now, first, some background. Twenty years ago Marvel made the decision to marry Peter and MJ in order to match something that Spidey’s creator, Stan Lee, was doing in the out-of-continuity daily newspaper comic strip.
It worked fine in the newspaper strip, but in the comic books the marriage came completely out of nowhere and felt very forced. Even my 12-year-old self sensed that this wasn’t exactly organic character development.
Flash forward 20 years and now we’ve had an entire generation of comic book readers who’ve never known a single, down-on-his-luck Peter Parker with the ability to date and generally live the more exciting life of a young and single superhero.
Marvel has tried several times to undo the damage of the marriage. They’ve split the two characters up, they’ve “killed” MJ, they’ve even tried to say that the Peter Parker who got married was a clone. (Don’t ask.) But in the end they’ve restored Peter and MJ as a married couple because they were nervous about what being a widower or divorcee does to the character.
Point is, they tried everything… and failed. Yet almost from the day the marriage happened, the comics have suffered. A huge number of potential storylines were off limits. A married Peter Parker just isn’t as interesting, plain and simple. The idea that Peter finally gets the girl and settles down to live happily ever after doesn’t make for good drama. That should be the reward at the end of the journey, not the status quo.
So, finally, Marvel just bit the bullet and, as Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada describes it, “put the genie back in the bottle” in this month’s Amazing Spider-Man # 545, aka a storyline entitled “One More Day.” Peter and MJ have one final day together before a cosmic supervillain wipes all evidence and repurcussions of their marriage from existence. (Again, don’t ask.)
“One More Day” as a storyline is clumsy and inelegant. It was poorly written and not particularly compelling. It could have been so much better. But to me, that’s hardly the point. Out of this mess comes a very good thing, and I believe this is a case where the ends do truly justify the means—even if the current fan community is all in a tizzy about it.
So to Marvel Comics and Joe Quesada, I salute you for having the guts to do something that should have been done years ago. Thanks for bringing back “my” Spider-Man.
Now don’t screw it up!
This year I got my buddy Eric a USB-hub TARDIS for Christmas. (TARDIS, of course, stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space—or, if you must, a “time machine.”) Anyway, what you do is plug your USB memory sticks into the TARDIS hub and it lights up and makes the Dr. Who time-travel noise. Pretty cool, right? I didn’t buy one for myself, but fortunately Eric made a video that shows it off nicely.
One more thing: Yesterday marked the 10-year anniversary of the day I proposed to Penny. Yep, it happened on Christmas 1997. How much has changed since then? Collectively we’ve: Traveled to 12 countries, held 11 jobs, rented five apartments, lived in two states and one foreign country, bought a house, survived a breakup, and had a baby. Not too shabby!
And if you didn’t get the movie reference in today’s title, get thee immediately to a TV set and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Seriously, go now. I’ll wait.
OK, you back? Good. Then let’s talk about Christmas 2007. In a word, awesome.
In more words:
The festivities began after work on Christmas Eve. Penny and I both worked half days at our respective jobs in Boston while my mom babysat Ethan back at the old homestead in Rowley. After work we all got together—my grandmother (aka Nanny), my parents (aka Nana and Grumpa), my brother and his kids, and my sister and her kids—to exchange gifts and holiday merriment. My eight-year-old nephew Jacob even bought (with his own money!) a gift just for me. A good time was had by all.
Back at home we dressed Ethan in his special Christmas PJs and I read him The Night Before Christmas (though, admittedly, he was more interested in playing with the buttons on the humidifier in his bedroom) before we tucked him into his crib for the night. He has a bad cold right now (which, in the spirit of the season, he has re-gifted to me) but somehow he managed to sleep through the night. He woke up at 5:00 in the morning, but we were able to get him to fall back asleep till about 7:00 or so. I suspect this is the last Christmas where that will be an option.
When we finally did get out of bed, I went downstairs first to turn on the tree, get the coffee brewing, and make sure Santa had come. Once again the jolly old elf came through! Penny carried Ethan down the stairs while I broke out the rarely-used video recorder to capture the moment. We then let Ethan scurry over to his stocking and presents, which he did with much vigor.
He definitely got the hang of Christmas pretty quickly. Within seconds he was pulling and tugging at (and drooling in the general direction of) the wrapping paper and basically going whole hog at the Christmas experience. The only thing he still needs to learn is that not ALL of the gifts under the tree are his. (Though most were.) He got a goregous wooden sled from my parents, loads of bath toys, a couple of fire trucks, some picture books (including “Daddy is a Doodlebug” — Santa and I are going to have a little chat about that one), and a great drum/tamborine combo set from my brother.
(And speaking of gifts, Penny got me a digital photo frame pre-loaded with pictures of Ethan. Best gift ever.)
After dropping off some cookies at various neighbors’ houses, we packed up and headed to Lowell for Christmas with Penny’s parents (aka Nana and Papa), her brother Jeremy, and his wife Jessica. Not content to simply bake a ham, Penny’s mom also tackled the traditional Christmas goose. And boy was it tasty! There were more gifts exchanged (my favorites were the pirate-themed plate, cup, and spoon for Ethan) and much holiday cheer.
Eventually we made it home, got Ethan to bed, and collapsed. Now that’s what I call a good Christmas!
An open letter to whomever wrapped up their half-used Starbucks gift card for this year’s SmarterTravel company-wide Yankee Swap:
If you want to re-gift something, that’s fine. But next year, please leave enough cash on the gift card so the recipient can actually buy a couple of lattes?
A bitterly disappointed gift-card recipient
Transcript of a letter we received yesterday:
Dear Mr. Roberts,
We will not be renewing your home insurance policy when it expires. The insurance will expire on 2/15/2008 at 12:01 a.m. local time. The reason for non-renewal is: Potential for catastrophic loss.
Preferred Mutual Insurance Company
This leaves me with two questions. One, isn’t “potential for catastrophic loss” the only reason one gets homeowner’s insurance in the first place?
And two, do they know something I don’t?
One of my favorite exchanges from the Star Wars trilogy goes like this…
Han Solo: Together again.
Luke: Wouldn’t miss it.
Han Solo: How we doin’?
Luke: Same as always.
Han Solo: That bad, huh?
And that, friends, is how it feels to be back at work.
Where: Isle of Skye, Scotland
When: September 2000
What: I snapped this photo while climbing a muddy footpath to the top of the Quiraing on Skye. This easy day hike is one of my favorites on the island because it offers so much of what I love about the Scottish landscape: dramatic cliffs, heaving hills, and blue-green lochs. From the top of the Quiraing I could see as far as the Black Cuillins in one direction and the wide open Atlantic in the other.
I’ll also never forget the day I took this picture. It was September 18, 2000, my first wedding anniversary. Probably the best vacation Penny and I have ever taken, and definitely the one of which I have the best and most vivid memories.
Quiraing, incidentally, means “pillared stronghold,” which as you can see takes its name from a series of natural rock formations that spiral up to the sky with breathtaking abandon.