Hero

If you really want to understand some of what drives me as a person, then this may be helpful – I really, desperately want to be a hero.

Captain_America_The_Chosen_6

The first time I can recall wanting to be a hero is when I was 8, or maybe 9 years old. I was writing an assignment for school – I forget what the assignment was, but I think it was something about our futures and where we saw ourselves. What I remember writing was an obituary, one that said I’d died protecting my wife and children from a criminal of some sort. That was what I wanted my legacy to be when I was 8 – that I’d given my life to protect the ones I love. I don’t know that I ever shared it with my parents, and I don’t know that they’d remember it even if I had – it was almost 30 years ago, after all. But that’s the first time I can recall wanting to be a hero.

Sturmsm

As time went on, my views of being a hero changed. When I was in my early teens, reading a lot of fantasy novels, and just beginning to play D&D, I wanted to be like the character I saw as my idol, a character in the original Dragonlance trilogy called Sturm Brightblade. Sturm was a knight – well, really, more like a squire, in an ancient knightly order, and also a part of a group of adventurers. Despite the Knights of Solamnia – the order he belonged to – being highly politicized and somewhat corrupt, he lived by the ancient principles of the order (a code by which, as a squire, he was not bound), and held himself to a high standard. In the second book ff the series, he gave his life to protect his friends, and to help them defeat a great enemy, and he is revered as a great hero by his order long afterwards. Sturm informed a lot of my early views of being a hero, including some of my interest in medieval history, literature, and, well, costuming.

Shepard

My views on heroes changed as I got older; I got to know characters like David Gemmell’s Druss, Beowulf, Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarrion, and comic characters like Superman, Captain America, and Cyclops. I kept playing RPGs, because it was the closest I would ever get to being able to do something like fight a dragon, or make a heroic sacrifice to save my friends, and to this day I still play them – and, in fact, in games where I have a choice between playing a good character or an evil one, I’ll almost always choose good – I’ve tried being a Dark Side Jedi in the Knights of the Old Republic computer game, and I felt guilty using force lightning on even fictional people.

Captainamerica

In fact, if you ever look around my apartment, there are reminders of my heroic fantasies all over the place – from the Captain America shield hanging on the wall, to the artwork of a man being knighted, to the replica medieval helmet sitting next to my bed; the shelves full of RPGs and fantasy novels, and the collection of Captain America memorabilia scattered all over the place. I even incorporate it into my workout regimen, as I noted in my previous post – I use a sword I originally bought for a swordfighting class at St. Louis University for some of my exercises, and the exercise routine I’m currently going through is called the Hero’s Journey – and I push myself harder than I otherwise would when, instead of just giving me a number of exercise sets to do, it tells me that doing them, even in-fiction, means I fight off a dragon, or save people from a burning village. Part of the reason I push myself as hard as I do is because I’d rather look more like Captain America when in costume than the guy who ate Captain America.

Queen_Guinevere

But at 36, as much as I’d really love to fight a dragon, or even just hold the door (and you Game of Thrones people know what I mean), I know that I’m never likely to do that. We don’t live in that kind of world. I’m going into social work because I want to be able to help people who have suffered from mental illness, and be an example to prove that even in the darkest moments, people aren’t alone. Even though I know I could not have stopped my friend Alice from dying, her death haunts me, and I know that I may have already done the most heroic thing I’ll ever do in helping another friend keep from committing suicide herself. My weapons won’t be a shield and sword, but knowledge and empathy (well, unless something really weird happens, in which case I’m prepared).

alice_v5gpsw

But that childhood urge to want to be a hero is still a part of what drives me. I tear up (and yeah, sometimes even cry) when I see heroic sacrifices on-screen; I’m not ashamed to say that recently I’ve shed a tear or two for Hodor and John Reese, who went out protecting the people they cared the most about. I’ll keep collecting Captain America memorabilia – and probably dressing up as Cap for conventions and Halloween, too. I don’t think I’ll ever get to fight a dragon, but I think that the desire to be a hero helps to push me to be better, go further, do more. And maybe someday, there will be people who look back and think that I was a part of what saved their lives. I think that’s a legacy I can live with.

Hi-Octane

I’m not sure why I chose that particular title for this blog post; it just felt right, I guess. It’s been about a month and a half since my last post on this blog, and probably a while before that post, too. I think a lot of it was that I didn’t feel I was getting anything from the blog anymore – my posts felt more negative than I wanted, and they encouraged commentary that, while well-meaning, did not feel particularly helpful. So, I took a break. I’m not sure when I’ll be posting here again after this; some of my creative impulse has been routed to my newer blog dedicated to reviewing comics-based media, called Crisis on Infinite Media. So this will be something of a data-dump for the last month and a half or so.

About halfway through April, I started feeling some pretty high-anxiety moments; I’d wake up after only a few hours of sleep, my body telling me that I needed to do something, but I didn’t know what. This isn’t new for me – as a student, that tends to be the signal that I’m ready to hammer out my final papers or projects for class. But usually, that takes place only a few days before the assignment is due (I do the research and other work beforehand, it’s just the writing that waits until later). So I was puzzled by this anxiety. After a few generally sleepless nights, I decided to try something out to alleviate my anxiety – exercise.

Those of you who may know me in real life are probably familiar with my general thoughts on exercise, and they don’t tend to be pleasant. I don’t know that I took pride in my sedentary lifestyle, but I certainly didn’t feel a huge need to change it, especially not if it involved intentionally causing myself pain. So, taking up exercise was a move from way out in left field for me. I started just by walking around my apartment complex – when my anxiety woke me up, I’d throw on shorts and a t-shirt and go walking, usually for about 30-45 minutes. I’d come back , somewhat more tired than I started, but my anxiety would have scaled back, so I started repeating this.

At the end of April, I ended my time working at a bookstore – at least on a regular basis – because my MSW courseload was increasing significantly in my next semester, and I felt I needed the time. Of course, in the short break between ending work and starting my next semester, I found myself with more free time than I was accustomed to. Also, oddly, the same anxiety, despite all my work being done. So, I added on some more exercise to my routine. And I noticed something weird – well, weird for me. I started feeling more awake, more alert, even – dare I say it? – more energetic. So I kept at it.

My new semester started, and with it, came a lot of work – I’m going from 2 courses a week in my previous semesters to 4 courses, and one of them has an expected 16 hours of weekly work to put in, to help prepare for a field placement internship in my 4th semester. I even had an interview for my first potential field placement, on literally my first day of class, which was high-anxiety for me. I felt it went pretty well, but they ended up deciding that I wasn’t a good fit for their program, so now the search continues for another placement opportunity.

What was weird was, while I was upset that I didn’t get it, I didn’t get depressed. I didn’t feel like somehow I’d totally screwed up and everything was wrong forever – and if you think that’s overstating a possible reaction, you’ve never met my depression. No, I just accepted that I wasn’t a good fit, and asked what to do next. This is a reaction that probably surprised some people – and I should know, because when I realized that it was happening, it surprised the hell out of me.Not only that – I’ve been a lot more active in other ways, too. While I’ve been a member of several online dating sites, I was very… let’s say reclusive. I didn’t send out many notes, and when I did send them out and got no reply, I would then desert the site for a month or so, sure that I’d never find someone willing to talk to me. Over the past few weeks, I’ve probably sent out 20-30 notes, and even had a lengthy e-mail exchange with one woman – which also turned out not to be a good fit, for either of us, but I didn’t freak out. I’ve joined a weekly online D&D game, and I’m looking to set up an in-person RPG group again.

Now, I have no idea if any – or all – of this is linked to exercise. I suspect at least some of it is, but my background in data and science is such that if I had to, as Matt Damon puts it in The Martian, science the shit out of something, I would die a horrible, unscienced death. But in case it does, and there are readers who are similarly sedentary, I’ll lay out what I’ve been doing and gradually adding to my routine.

First, most days I go out and walk – I try to do it early, but sometimes it ends up mid-afternoon – for about 45 minutes to an hour. I just walk around my apartment complex, listening to an audiobook (so far, I’ve gone through Avengers and Philosophy: Earth’s Mightiest Thinkers and The Gifts of Imperfection). I’m slow, so I get maybe 3-3.5 miles out of this. Every other day, I try to do some weight training or other high-intensity exercise – I have a pair of kettlebells, 15 and 30 pounds, that I use, and I’ve become very familiar with squat thrusts. I’ve also been doing a daily exercise routine, one of many found at a website called Darebees – it’s pretty low-impact, involves no equipment, and so is pretty easy to do. I’m currently done through day 26 of the Foundation program though day 28 is going to be rough. Once I hit day 30, I’m thinking of moving on to either the Hero’s Journey, or the Fighter’s Codex (though after looking at both of them, I may well just end up going back to Foundation and level-grinding on the next difficulty level). And finally, I’ve also started throwing in – during times when I have 15-20 minutes of time where I’m not really doing much – the use of the sword I have hanging on my wall in exercises from the Forza program and Jung Shin (I don’t have a katana, I have a broadsword, but the same principles apply).

Wow. Now that I write it down, it seems like a lot. But, aside from the walking, everything else can be done in maybe 30 minutes. And since starting this, my anxiety level has dropped; my sleep has moved to a more socially acceptable time, for the most part; I find myself with more energy – which was really weird, because having that much energy actually felt like a low-grade panic attack to me; and I’ve been doing a lot of writing. Some of the writing has been for my other blog, and some is more personal – I’m currently at page 44 of a story that is part personal fantasy, part introspective therapy. I doubt anyone else will ever read it because of how personal it is – and yes, I say that writing on a blog where I’ve talked about my experiences with attempting suicide – but it’s still a longer piece than anything I’ve written in maybe 10-15 years.

The next few months are going to be really busy for me – lots of coursework and preparation for field placement, for one. I’m going to try to put in time writing for my other blog, since writing that is really kind of enjoyable (yes, I like researching comics for fun, shut up). And hopefully I’l keep up with the new exercise routine, because it seems to be treating me well so far. But what I likely won’t be getting into much – unless I run into something I really feel the need to share – is this blog. I don’t know that it has run its course, but I do know that, while I felt a need to write it when I started, I don’t feel that anywhere near as strongly. So while this is almost certainly not goodbye, it’s until we meet again. For any of my readers who have been keeping up with me for a while, thanks; I hope you’ve gotten something from my ramblings, and I know that I’ve gotten a lot from comments. Time to see where the future takes me next.

 

Supermovie Geekery

So, as is probably obvious, I’m kind of a comic book nerd. I’ve been reading comics, off and on, for over 20 years, and been a pretty heavy reader for about the last decade. Early on in the last decade, I read almost anything I could find – Marvel, DC, Image, Wildstorm, Dark Horse, Vertigo, I read quite a lot. While Captain America has been my favorite character for a long time, I also used to be really fond of Justice League and Justice Society, as well as Outsiders, Superman, and Green Lantern among the DC titles. I was really happy when they rebooted the Batman movies with Batman Begins in 2005, and then Marvel got into the game (for themselves; there were other Marvel-property movies, like the X-Men, before that) with Iron Man in 2008. I’ve read the comics, seen the cartoons, watched the movies.

For the most part, I was really happy with the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe began to take shape, and I liked the Nolan Batman trilogy, too – sure, it was dark and gritty, but Batman is a dark and gritty kind of character. Marvel went in a different direction – Iron Man is loud and flashy, in some ways a polar opposite to Batman; they’re both rich genius-types, but Tony Stark really is a playboy billionaire, while Batman just pretends to be one. Then Marvel moved on to the Hulk, then Thor, then Captain America, before finally bringing them all together in The Avengers. Marvel built their universe with a variety of colorful characters, and went through 5 movies, all connected and within the same cinematic world, before bringing the team together, and that work is what made the Avengers a success – they did the work.

With DC, though, it feels like they’ve just been playing catch-up, and not very well. The Nolan Batman movies were pretty awesome, especially Dark Knight. But I don’t think they were ever conceived of as the beginning of a similar cinematic universe, and it shows. Where Marvel used several different directors and styles in their movies – the action-realism of Iron Man, contrasted against the, let’s say high-tech Shakespearian of Thor – DC moved from dark and gritty Batman to… similarly dark and gritty Superman in Man of Steel. I was disappointed with this, because Superman has never been a dark character – he wears blue and red tights, he flies and shoots lasers from his eyes, and is often called the Big Blue Boy Scout. Using the same style of movie for Superman as for Batman was a choice I thought missed a crucial part of the Superman character.

Now, with Batman vs. Superman, I think DC missed the mark again, and this time it’s worse. There will be spoilers for the movie, so if you haven’t seen it, stop here.

 

Still reading? Well, this movie (I’ll use BvS as shorthand) seems to have completely missed the point of both Batman and Superman, at least in my opinion. Batman, as a character, is not mentally healthy – I mean, his parents getting killed in front of him has driven him to train harder than anyone to be the best detective, fighter, and gadgeteer he can be, then dress up like a bat and beat criminals up. That’s not something your average, mentally healthy person is going to do. But non-BvS Batman is generally aware of his shortcomings and his personality issues, and he has a code – the most important part of which is, NO KILLING. Batman doesn’t kill people. But in BvS, he’s rage-filled, terrifying – even to those he saves – and entirely willing to kill. In fact, he does so a number of times. His plan for dealing with Superman involves killing him. While Ben Affleck does well with what he’s given, the Batman of this movie seems like a Batman who has been pushed almost as far as Harvey Dent in Dark Knight, and is almost to the point where I wouldn’t consider him a good guy anymore.

Superman is probably even worse, in my estimation. The dark, dreary presentation of him in Man of Steel continues, but this time, he’s not just learning to be Superman; he’s been Superman for almost two years. And virtually every shot of him as Superman is of a man who just looks exhausted, pained, and nearly hopeless. For a man with virtually limitless power, hope seems to be one of the few powers he doesn’t have, and considering one of my favorite Superman scenes is portrayed in this link, that’s practically criminal. And while one of the many criticisms of Man of Steel was that Superman made no effort to save innocent people in the final battle in Metropolis, we see little of that here – a 30-second montage of Superman saving a girl from a burning building, dragging a ship to safety, rescuing a crew module from an exploding space launch. Otherwise, the only person we see Superman make an effort to save is Lois Lane. When the congressional hearing he is called to explodes, leaving him standing alone in burning wreckage, he just looks defeated, but never made any effort to help. This Superman is portrayed as a distant god, with near-limitless power, but virtually no connection to humanity, rather than the Kansas farmboy -with corresponding moral fortitude and a certain degree of naivete – who just happens to be a superpowered alien. He even says, talking to Lois, that he is Superman not because he believes in it, but because it’s something he thinks his father would have wanted. While it is certainly some vision of Superman, it is not one that I enjoy, or that I think is anything like his typical portrayal.

Even the Lex Luthor in this movie is a pale shadow of the character from the comics and cartoons – and even previous movies. This Lex is young, and arrogant, and seems intelligent, but has several moments where he can’t seem to put words together coherently. And his plan in the movie is nonsensical, and only seems to work because somehow he has managed to out-think the world’s greatest detective AND figure out the secret identities of both titular heroes. Instead of seeming smooth and self-assured like most portrayals of Lex, this one is frenetic, almost manic; personally, I think they would have been better off casting Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor from the Smallville TV series) than Jesse Eisenberg – this Lex seems to have more in common with Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network than any Superman villain.

The fight between Batman and Superman, while impressive, is built up for far too long, and has poor foundation – if Batman wanted to confront Superman, he could easily have done the same thing Lex Luthor did and find out that his secret identity is Clark Kent, rather than building a mechanized Bat-suit and hijacking a shipment of kryptonite. The reason for it ending without the death of Superman is equally poor – they essentially stop fighting because Superman, about to be stabbed by a kryptonite spear, tells Batman that he needs to save his mother, Martha – and Batman, upon hearing that Clark’s mother has the same name as his own, suddenly not only stops fighting Superman, but volunteers to go save his mother. This poorly-contrived fight is in contrast to the conflict that has been building between Captain America and Iron Man since The Avengers, which is built on in Age of Ultron and will come to a head in next month’s Captain America: Civil War – a conflict that is given solid foundations and which seems to follow the way the characters are portrayed. The whole movie makes it seem like DC is rushing to try to make their own big team movie, Justice League, even having teasers for The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman in BvS.

The best part of the movie was the inclusion of Wonder Woman, who shows up first as a mysterious woman at a party, and reveals her heroic self in the final battle. She looks the part, and acts the part, and makes me hopeful for next year’s Wonder Woman movie.

While I haven’t been a fan of every Marvel movie – I think Thor 2 was probably the weakest movie in the MCU, and didn’t have many great moments – I’m far more concerned with the direction DC is taking. I don’t think Zack Snyder is a good choice for their flagship movies, and I don’t think he gets superhero movies at all – I mean, he has this to say about the inclusion of Jimmy Olden in BvS:

“We just did it as this little aside because we had been tracking where we thought the movies were gonna go, and we don’t have room for Jimmy Olsen in our big pantheon of characters, but we can have fun with him, right?”

Oh, I should note that this little aside he’s talking about? It is a LexCorp mercenary shooting Jimmy Olsen in the face. Yeah, Snyder kills a classic Superman support character in one of the first scenes of the movie. So I’m not interested in anything else Snyder has to do in the DC universe. I’ll stick to their TV offerings – shows like Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl – all of which seem to be more true to their characters, and seem to have more fun as part of a comic-based universe.

 

Internet Intermingling

So just recently, I joined one of the more popular internet dating websites, Match.com. After doing so, it became pretty clear to me why I haven’t had a lot of success with similar dating sites in the past – after reading through dozens of profiles, I seem to share virtually nothing in common with anyone, even the people the site seems to think are ideal matches with me.

See, I’m an introvert, and a geek, and those two things are huge parts of my personality. I tend to have a hard time getting to know people – I’ve talked about it extensively in the past. Even after being at my current job for almost a year and a half, it still feels difficult striking up a conversation with my co-workers, even the ones I know share similar interests. I’m kind of conversationally awkward, and I don’t really parse silences and breaks in the conversation very well. But once I get to know somebody, I’m extremely loyal, even if I haven’t talked to them in a long time, even years. And I have a lot of passion for the topics I find important – RPGs, things like comic-related properties, mental health, and a variety of generally kind of nerdy things. I could go on about them for a long time, and I can often have difficulty telling when someone is getting tired of listening.

And with a lot of the people I get paired up with presumptively on these dating websites, I see the same things keep popping up – enjoying long walks, romantic dinners, travel, looking for someone who makes them laugh, willing to try new things, is well-educated… I could go on, but – at least from where I’m sitting – all of these things are frustratingly vague. There are no specifics to help start a conversation – no favorite movies, specific travel destinations they’ve liked, what kinds of things make them laugh. And without something like that, I have no idea where to even begin, and so I hit the ‘Like’ button and hope maybe they’ll ask me something that can help start a conversation. I try to include some favorite movies and books and such in my own profile, to try to differentiate myself, but I know that letting my geek flag fly right off the bat might not be the best idea. So I’m stuck in kind of a weird area.

There are places that say that online dating is ideal for introverts, and I can see why – as this article in Psychology Today notes, it can be far easier to send out an IM or e-mail than try to communicate immediately via phone, or in person. And there are other sites, like this one, that try to help introverts create an attractive user profile for online dating. There are even some online niche dating sites, though I’ve never had any luck there – the user community tends to be exceptionally small, and they tend to be very heavily populated by other guys, and despite living in a pretty big city there never seem to be many viable matches within a reasonable distance.

I wonder sometimes if my lack of experience with relationships makes even something like online dating harder. While I’ve had strong feelings for two women before, neither ended particularly well for me, and I’ve only been on one date. Since I tend to overthink things – especially when I’m not sure what went wrong – I’m not quite sure if things going wrong was because of something I did, or because of where she was in her life, or we just didn’t match up as well as I thought we did, and not having the answers makes my thoughts on the matter go kinda wacky. I wish I could ask, but the questions I want answered are probably way too personal for someone who no longer wants to be a part of my life, or I’m no longer the same person that I used to be and so wouldn’t find the answers very helpful. It feels, in a lot of ways, that while I live on my own, have a job and am going to graduate school, that my prospective romantic life is still very much stuck in a teenage mindset. I’m not sure if that’s accurate, or to what extent other people feel that way, but it feels weird.

But I’m hopeful – even if I don’t find anyone who is interested in me romantically on a dating site like Match.com, I think I can at least find someone to talk to, hopefully about some of the things that really interest me, and about the things that interest her, as well.

I feel kinda weird being optimistic about something – guess I’m still not used to it yet.

 

Emotional Labor

This is something that just came in a conversation online, and reading and learning about it struck such a note with me that I felt a need to post something about it. It has nothing, thankfully, to do with childbirth, but rather a type of work that a lot of people are expected to do, but which a lot of people might not think of as work, and so don’t see as something worthy of compensation.

Emotional labor (here’s the Wikipedia article on it), essentially, is emotional expression (or suppression) that you have to perform as a part of your job, in the simplest definition. Those waiters at your favorite restaurant? The counter workers at the local fast food place? Virtually any retail worker you actually see wearing an ID in a store? That’s what they do. They aren’t naturally happy, perky, and helpful (well, most of them, anyway); it is a part of their job that they have to appear to be positive, even (perhaps especially) when they don’t feel like it. Even if they’re having the worst day of their lives, they have to look and act like they’re always happy, always willing to help you, all the time. And as someone who spent the first year or so working at a bookstore working at the cash register, it’s exhausting – more exhausting, on a lot of days, than the physical portion of the job. While it took a while to get used to being on my feet for 8 hours a day, I did get used to it – but I never got used to pretending to be happy all the time, and I think that, more than anything else, sucked the energy right out of me.

But that’s not where emotional labor ends, and it’s something I wish I had known, or been able to get around my privileged position on, a long time ago. Because you can also end up doing emotional labor on behalf of those around you in your personal life, and in a lot of circumstances, it’s never something that is seen as labor, even though it can be just as exhausting emotionally as helping someone move. I can think of at least one friendship that I might have been able to save if I hadn’t been asking for, and expecting, such a great deal of emotional labor from someone who should not have felt obligated to give it. It’s one of those things I never really thought about before it was brought to my attention, but asking (or expecting) emotional support from a friend constantly can be just as tiring to them as asking them to help you constantly move around all your heavy furniture. I think women are probably hardest-hit by this one, because it seems to have become an expected part of what women do, but I’m not sure I Can explain that without being terribly insulting, so instead I’ll just point you to this article – “Where’s My Cut?”: On Unpaid Emotional Labor.

I know that, having gone through some pretty serious psychological treatment, that there are times when I will need a lot of emotional support. I just wasn’t really aware of how draining it could be for those being asked for it, especially if they’re getting nothing in return. So that’s my big, heavy topic for the weekend.

Also, for completely unrelated reasons, I’ve had a song running through my head for about a week now, and while I generally try not to inflict my musical preferences on others, I thought I’d share this one with you:

What Your Tastes Say About You

I was finishing up a paper for my Human Behaviors class yesterday, and while I was on a break between sections, I stumbled across this article: ‘Your 10 favorite movies may just say something about the real you‘. It seemed like an interesting idea, but after reading it, I thought about it for a minute before getting back to my paper. But now I’m wondering – can things like your favorite movies, or music, or books, tell you, or other people, something about you that isn’t generally obvious?

In thinking about this, I was considering the movies I consider my top ten, and for convenience’s sake, I’ll share that list here; I’m cheating a bit because I condense a couple trilogies into a single place on the list, but it’s my blog and I can do that if I want, right? In no particular order, my top ten movies are:

The Crow

Lord of the Rings trilogy

Star Wars original trilogy

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Princess Bride

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Avengers

Unbreakable

The Usual Suspects

The Dark Knight

This list has actually had several changes over the past couple of years.  28 Days Later, The Prestige, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves have dropped off the list, replaced by Captain America, The Avengers, and Mad Max. Not to say that I don’t still love all three of those movies – yes, even the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie, I’m not ashamed to like it – but the three that have moved up have just grabbed me in a way I find much more satisfying to watch; I try to watch each of these movies at least once a year, if not more, and if I happen upon the movie playing, I’ll almost always sit down and watch one of these ten.

If I were to take a stab at what these movies say about me, I think I’d probably notice a few things. First, a number of these movies are very dark in tone; this fits, because in general I’m a pretty cynical person. Second, only one of these movies could conceivably be set in the ‘real’ world, that being The Usual Suspects – I am a big fantasy, science fiction, and comics fan, so that’s not terribly surprising. And despite being dark, a lot of these movies turn out rather well, or at least have a lot of hope attached to them. Eric Draven gets his revenge, and is welcomed back to the afterlife by his love. Frodo destroys the ring. Luke defeats the Emperor and helps redeem his father. Captain America saves, and is saved by, his childhood friend. Wesley and Buttercup get together. Furiosa takes over from Immortan Joe. The Avengers stop Loki. Bruce Willis stops his Samuel L. Jackson supervillain. Only the last two don’t end on hopeful notes.

So, what do these movies say about me? That I have a healthy imagination, and I feel more comfortable in unreal worlds than in the real one? That I’m generally cynical, but largely because I have a lot of hope and yet keep seeing it dashed?  I’m not sure, but these answers sound plausible. But I’m curious – what do other people think these movies say about me, if anything? And what do your favorite movies, or music, or books, say about you? I’m curious to find out, so please share your thoughts.