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Not a Newsletter 004: Empathy and rigorous preparation

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Happy Thanksgiving (weekend)! Maybe this wasn’t the case for everyone, but the holiday seemed to arrive sooner than expected this year. Is it because we’re so rarely in a holiday state of mind these days, even when we probably need a break and diversion more than ever?

To stop and consider what we’re thankful for right now feels like kind of a trite exercise when nearly every day seems to be a fight with something. But maybe it’s more important than ever to think about such things.

For most of this year, I’ve been trying to prioritize what I truly feel is important and accept that I let some things in my life become more oppressive than I should have. I am most certainly thankful for the opportunity to take time to look inward and outward, and try to become a better person for it.

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Yet the impulse to jump back into bad habits — taking a job that would’ve been bad for me, not showing enough empathy and patience, expecting too much from others, not accepting what I can’t control, to name a few — and forget what I’ve tried to accomplish over the past five months is a recurring struggle.

I hope I don’t write so much about trying to find a balance that it comes off as whining,  me being some kind of headcase, or any sort of self-help speak. I might not be writing as much professionally as I’d like, but I do feel like I’m in a better place — both for myself and the people around me. And I have to believe that I’ll yield some benefit from that eventually.

In the meantime, you stopping by to read this helps tremendously. And I am definitely thankful for that.

Reading to Go With Your Pie

** How many people had salad on their Thanksgiving tables? According to this diagram, virtually the entire Western part of the United States goes that way. (Although I wonder if “salad” means greens, etc., rather than some gross Jello-based “salad.”) We did not have mac and cheese, despite living in the South. [FiveThirtyEight]

** Why wombats have cube-shaped poop probably wouldn’t have been appropriate Thanksgiving dinner conversation. (But if anyone tried, please let us know!) I enjoy imagining the engineer studying this having to explain what she does to family and friends while making small talk. [Popular Science]

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newsletter

Not a Newsletter 003: Upward and onward to greater glory

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Plenty of important (and concerning) things happened in the world this week, as has become typical in the current political and social climate we live in. But for many comic book and pop culture fans, the big news of the week was the passing of legendary Marvel Comics storyteller Stan Lee.

At 95 years old, we all knew the end was coming sooner rather than later. But it’s still hard to believe that we won’t have Stan Lee alongside us to celebrate the elevation of his creations to supreme pop culture. Yet Lee’s death also prompted more celebration than mourning as we remembered what characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, Fantastic Four and so many, many others meant to us through childhood and into adulthood.

Though it didn’t seem like nearly enough, I wrote my own tribute to Stan Lee , praised my favorite creations and movie cameos of his, and we talked about his legacy on the Amusement Park Podcast.

It’s too bad that Lee’s death brought us the nostalgic escape and joy that we needed, but celebrating his legacy certainly provided a welcome diversion — even if it was borne from unfortunate news.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading this. Based on my conversations, the holiday jumped on us sooner than expected. But it’ll be nice to have a break, regardless of whether or not you spend that time with family and friends. I have ambitious plans to… watch a lot of TV and movies when I’m not eating. I might have another Not a Newsletter before we dig into our respective meals. Not sure about that yet.

Regardless, I’m certainly thankful that you care enough to stop by. And I’m grateful for both the opportunity to write and express myself. Here’s a Stan Lee quote to take you into this week’s reading:

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Podcast

Amusement Park Podcast 014: We Will Miss You, Stan Lee

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On the latest Amusement Park Podcast, we pay tribute to Stan Lee and the Marvel icon’s role in pop culture. Also, George R.R. Martin’s struggles with The Winds of Winter, Hallmark Christmas movies update, and what we’re enjoying this week.

If you’re enjoying our podcast, please leave a review on iTunes and help boost our signal. You can also tell us what you think at amusementparkpod@gmail.com and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @amuseparkpod. We’d love to hear from you. Thank you for listening!

You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast everywhere you find podcasts:

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Stan Lee left behind a legacy like no other

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Writing a tribute to Stan Lee was something I’d been thinking I should do for quite some time. After all, (Stan) the man was 95 years old and there were various reports about his deteriorating health. Just as a newspaper would get an obituary ready, I thought I should get something ready — whether the piece was written for another site or my own.

Sure, laziness and procrastination were probably the primary reasons for not getting that done. But the idea of writing something in anticipation of Stan Lee’s death was also very upsetting. He still appeared to be lively and vibrant in his many Marvel movie and TV cameos. It seemed as if Smilin’ Stan might just live forever.

Thanks to those movie cameos, even my sister knew who Stan Lee was. She grew up with me endlessly reading and collecting comic books, of course. But when I pointed out the guy who co-created Spider-Man on the screen, she recognized him every time he popped up in the handful of Marvel movies we saw together. She’ll never be able to escape superheroes entirely.

(By the way, will Lee’s last live-action cameo have been in Venom?) Unless he’s in Avengers 4, his final on-screen appearance may well be in the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which hits theaters in mid-December.)

There will and have already been so many tributes, eulogies and obituaries dedicated to Stan Lee that I’m not sure I could possibly add anything. All I can contribute is what Lee and his many iconic creations mean to me to this day. So often when people write a tribute to someone, the piece ends up being about the writer more than the subject. As much as I’d like to avoid that, I don’t think it’s possible here.

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