Lifestyle

Stan Lee, legendary Marvel superheroes creator, dead at 95

Stan Lee, the comic book mastermind who changed the landscape of the superhero genre by creating countless beloved characters, has died at age 95. An attorney for Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee, said the creative dynamo who revolutionized the comic world by introducing human frailties in superheroes such as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, was declared dead Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. J.C. Lee, told TMZ, “My father loved all of his fans. He was the greatest, most decent man.” Lee has experienced several health issues throughout the past year including a battle with pneumonia as well as issues with his vision. As the top writer at Marvel Comics and later as its publisher, he revived the industry in the 1960s by offering the costumes and action craved by younger readers while insisting on sophisticated plots, college-level dialogue, satire, science fiction, even philosophy. Marvel Chief Creator Office Joe Quesada shared his condolences on Twitter. Millions responded to the unlikely mix of realistic fantasy, and many of his characters, including Spider-Man, the Hulk and X-Men went on to become stars of blockbuster films. Recent projects he helped make possible range from the films “Black Panther” and “Doctor Strange” to such TV series as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” “I think everybody loves things that are bigger than life. … I think of them as fairy tales for grown-ups,” he told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview. “We all grew up with giants and ogres and witches. Well, you get a little bit older and you’re too old to read fairy tales. But I don’t think you ever outgrow your love for those kind of things, things that are bigger than life and magical and very imaginative.” Lee considered the comic-book medium an art form and he was prolific: By some accounts, he came up with a new comic book every day for 10 years. “I wrote so many I don’t even know. I wrote either hundreds or thousands of them,” he told the AP in 2006. He hit his stride in the 1960s when he brought the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man and numerous others to life. “It was like there was something in the air. I couldn’t do anything wrong,” he recalled. His heroes, meanwhile, were a far cry from virtuous do-gooders such as rival DC Comics’ Superman. The Fantastic Four fought with each other. Spider-Man was goaded into superhero work by his alter ego, Peter Parker, who suffered from unrequited crushes, money problems and dandruff. The Silver Surfer, an alien doomed to wander Earth’s atmosphere, waxed about the woeful nature of man. The Hulk was marked by self-loathing. Daredevil was blind and Iron Man had a weak heart. “The beauty of Stan Lee’s characters is that they were characters first and superheroes next,” Jeff Kline, executive producer of the “Men in Black” animated television series, told The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, in 1998. Some of Lee’s creations became symbols of social change — the inner turmoil of Spider-Man represented ’60s America, for example, while The Black Panther and The Savage She-Hulk mirrored the travails of minorities and women. Lee scripted most of Marvel’s superhero comics himself during the ’60s, including the Avengers and the X-Men, two of the most enduring. In 1972, he became Marvel’s publisher and editorial director; four years later, 72 million copies of Spider-Man were sold. “He’s become our Mickey Mouse,” he once said of the masked, web-crawling crusader. Lee also published several books, including “The Superhero Women” in 1977 and “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” the following year, when he was named publisher of the year by the Periodical and Book Association of America. CBS turned the Hulk into a successful TV series, with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno portraying the doomed scientist from 1978-82. A Spider-Man series ran briefly in 1978. Both characters were featured in animated TV series as well. The first big-budget movie based on Lee’s characters, “X-Men,” was a smash in 2000, earning more than $130 million at North American theaters. “Spider-Man” did even better, taking in more than $400 million in 2002. Lee’s death falls on Veterans Day, which is fitting as he served in World War II with the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1942 to 1945. Lee reportedly enlisted in the military shortly after hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor. In his final post to social media, he wished fans a happy Veterans Day while sharing an image of himself from his army days: “Thank you to all of America’s veterans for your service. Fun fact: Stan’s official US Army title during WW2 was ‘Playwright.’ #VeteransDay.” In 2017, Lee’s wife of almost 70 years, Joan, died at age 93.

Those of us who are Marvel fans are devastated by this news.  Stan Lee created heroes for all of us as kids.  And, don’t know about you..  But, I love the current Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series of movies that have been coming out over the last decade.  Stan had a personal hand in, and executive produced, all of them from Iron Man all the way through Infinity War.  He will definitely be missed.  Thanks for making us dream, Stan.  And, on this Veteran’s Day, thank you for your service in WWII.  R. I.P.

Record-setting 17-foot Burmese python caught in South Florida, officials say

The largest Burmese python ever seen in South Florida wasn’t able to slither her way out of being captured earlier this week. A snake hunter captured the female snake while on South Florida Water Management District property in Miami-Dade County Monday night, the agency announced in a press release Wednesday. Homestead resident Kyle Penniston was credited for reeling in the elongated reptile, which was measured at 17 feet, 5 inches and weighed in at 120 pounds, according to the SFWMD. The python is the third to have been caught as part of the agency’s Python Elimination Program that measured more than 17 feet. Snake hunters for the SFWMD have captured 1,859 of the invasive species on district-owned land, according to the press release. “Eliminating invasive species such as Burmese pythons is critical to preserving the rare Everglades ecosystem,” the SFWMD said. “Florida taxpayers have invested billions of dollars to restore the water quality and hydrology of the Everglades. Reducing the populations of invasive plants and animals is necessary to ensure this investment results in meeting the shared goals of the overall restoration plan. The combined length of the snakes caught so far is more than two miles, while they have collectively weighed more than 11 tons. Penniston alone is credited with eliminating 235 snakes, the second-most in the program, while Miami resident Brian Hargrove comes in at first place with 257 snakes caught, the agency said. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission manages a similar program named the Python Removal Contractor Program,which enlists qualified individuals to survey areas of state-owned land for pythons. The snakes are then humanely euthanized according to guidelines set by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Prominent figures such as U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla) and celebrity chief Gordon Ramsey have taken part in the hunts, according to the SFWMD.

To see photos of this monster python, click on the text above.       🙂

Why Fall is the Best Time to Have Garage Sales

So your junk drawers, closets and garage are overflowing with things you no longer need. Or perhaps it’s time to give your house a major makeover. You’ll have to get rid of the old to enjoy the new. That means it’s time for a garage sale. But when’s the best time to have one? While spring and summer are wildly popular for garage sales, fall is often ignored despite decent weather and lovely scenery that has people out and about in the great outdoors before the colder months hit. Not to mention, it’s back-to-school time. Parents are looking to stock up on inexpensive clothes and other useful items for their kids. While most people choose to have garage sales when it’s warm and people have more time to peruse, hosting a garage sale in the fall means less competition. Plan for a fall Saturday (the most popular day for garage sales) and hope for crisp blue skies and sunshine. Cooler temps will invigorate people and get them outside to take in the fresh air before the cold of winter. The more people that are out and about, the more stuff you’re likely to sell. Put your garage sale signs up in busy areas and prepare for people to flock to your sale and stay a bit longer than in the summer, since there aren’t as many other sales happening as there would be in the summer. Now the big question is, what should you sell to make the most of your sale? It’s all about timing, so trying to sell summer stuff is probably not a good idea. Your best bet is to think of what’s ahead. Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving decor and Christmas lights are going to put money in your pocket. You can make things even more inviting for customers by displaying your holiday gear on different tables. The right clothing can be a big seller in fall. Those summer dresses, sandals and beach towels aren’t of interest, but chunky sweaters and close-toed shoes and boots, ski jackets, hats, mittens and gloves are a good bet. Electric heaters, gently used or unused warm, soft blankets, unused candles and any other items that are cozy for the winter will do well too. You know about hygge, the Danish “cozy” vibe, right? To really invite people in to your garage sale, make it an event! Serve warm apple cider, hot chocolate or even a big hearty soup to help your business boom.

Some great ideas!  Thanks to Alexa Erickson over at Family Handyman for that fun piece!     🙂

Life on the dirtiest block in San Francisco

The heroin needles, the pile of excrement between parked cars, the yellow soup oozing out of a large plastic bag by the curb and the stained, faux Persian carpet dumped on the corner. It is a scene of detritus that might bring to mind any variety of developing-world squalor. But this is San Francisco, the capital of the nation’s technology industry, where a single span of Hyde Street hosts an open-air narcotics market by day and at night is occupied by the unsheltered and drug-addled slumped on the sidewalk. There are many other streets like it, but by one measure it is the dirtiest block in the city. Just a 15-minute walk away are the offices of Twitter and Uber, two companies that along with other nameplate technology giants have helped push the median price of a home in San Francisco well beyond a million dollars. This dichotomy of street crime and world-changing technology, of luxury condominiums and grinding, persistent homelessness, and the dehumanizing effects for those forced to live on the streets provoke outrage among the city’s residents. For many who live here it is difficult to reconcile San Francisco’s liberal politics with the misery that surrounds them. According to city statisticians, the 300 block of Hyde Street, a span about the length of a football field in the heart of the Tenderloin neighborhood, received 2,227 complaints about street and sidewalk cleanliness over the past decade, more than any other. It is an imperfect measurement — some blocks might be dirtier but have fewer calls — but residents on the 300 block say that they are not surprised by their ranking. The San Francisco bureau photographer, Jim Wilson, and I set out to measure the depth of deprivation on a single block. We returned a number of times, including a 12-hour visit, from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on a recent weekday. Walking around the neighborhood we saw the desperation of the mentally ill, the drug dependent and homeless, and heard from embittered residents who say it will take much more than a broom to clean up the city, long considered one of the United States’ beacons of urban beauty. Human waste has become such a widespread problem in San Francisco that the city in September established a unit dedicated to removing it from the sidewalks. Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the public works department, describes the new initiative as a “proactive human waste” unit. At 8 a.m. on a recent morning, as mothers shepherded their children to school, we ran into Yolanda Warren, a receptionist who works around the corner from Hyde Street. The sidewalk in front of her office was stained with feces. The street smelled like a latrine. “Some parts of the Tenderloin, you’re walking, and you smell it and you have to hold your breath,” Warren said. At she does every morning, she hosed down the urine outside her office. The city has installed five portable bathrooms for the hundreds of unsheltered people in the Tenderloin but that has not stopped people from urinating and defecating in the streets.

You get the idea..  And this is an article from the very liberal NY Times; not some conservative news media outlet.  San Fran is a poster child of what happens when years and years of extreme liberal politicians enact failed liberal policies in a major urban area for decades.  San Fran is a total disaster, and it’ll remain so until the residents decide that enough is enough and actually consider voting for politicians who aren’t the same liberal Democrats they’ve been electing for decades.  But, don’t hold your breath…or your nose.  For more, click on the text above.

1-in-3 pass ‘US Citizenship test,’ just 19% for Americans 45 and younger

Just a third of Americans can pass a multiple choice “U.S. Citizenship Test,” fumbling over such simple questions as the cause of the Cold War or naming just one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for. And of Americans 45 and younger, the passing rate is a tiny 19 percent, according to a survey done for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Worse: The actual test only requires that 60 percent of the answers be correct. In the survey, just 36 percent passed. Among the embarrassing errors uncovered in the survey of questions taken from the U.S. Citizenship Test and conducted by Lincoln Park Stragtegies: 72 percent of respondents either incorrectly identified or were unsure of which states were part of the 13 original states. 24 percent could correctly identify one thing Benjamin Franklin was famous for, with 37 percent believing he invented the lightbulb. 12 percent incorrectly thought WWII General Dwight Eisenhower led troops in the Civil War. 2 percent said the Cold War was caused by climate change. The foundation did the survey to make the point that Americans need to brush up on history and current events if they want to make a reasoned pick in the upcoming midterm congressional elections. “With voters heading to the polls next month, an informed and engaged citizenry is essential,” Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine said. “Unfortunately this study found the average American to be woefully uninformed regarding America’s history and incapable of passing the U.S. Citizenship Test. It would be an error to view these findings as merely an embarrassment. Knowledge of the history of our country is fundamental to maintaining a democratic society, which is imperiled today,” he added. Only 13 percent of those surveyed knew when the U.S. Constitution was ratified, even on a multiple-choice exam similar to the citizenship exam, with most incorrectly thinking it occurred in 1776. More than half of respondents (60 percent) didn’t know which countries the United States fought in World War II. And despite the recent media spotlight on the U.S. Supreme Court, 57 percent of those surveyed did not know how many Justices actually serve on the nation’s highest court.

Be afraid..   To counter this spectacular deficiency, we recommend adding “The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History” by Thomas Woods to your library…and making it mandatory reading for your kids.  Clearly our schools are teaching American Civics.  So, it’s up to us to look to alternative sources.  That book is a good start.  Hillsdale College in Michigan also offers free online courses on the Constitution and other basics.  You can also sign up for a free subscription to their “Imprimis” newsletter.  Lots of goodies there as well.

Boys More Likely To Be Victims Of Teen Dating Violence Than Girls, Study Shows

Who is more likely to be victimized by teen dating violence? If you’re quick to think it’s girls, new data shows you’re wrong. In a surprising twist, recently published research indicates boys are more likely to report being victims of dating violence committed by partners who hit, slap or push them. Researchers with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) conducted a longitudinal study of dating violence. While reports of physical abuse went down over time, they say there is a troubling gender-related trend. Five percent of teens reported physical abuse from their dating partners in 2013, down from 6 percent in 2003. But in the last year, 5.8 percent of boys reported dating violence compared to 4.2 percent of girls. “It could be that it’s still socially acceptable for girls to hit or slap boys in dating relationships,” says lead author Catherine Shaffer, a PhD student with SFU, in a release. “This has been found in studies of adolescents in other countries as well.” Researchers looked at data collected from three British Columbia Adolescent Health Surveys conducted over a 10-year timespan. Participants were 35,900 students in grades 7 through 12 who were in dating relationships. This is the first North American study to compare statistics for boys and girls and the first Canadian study to consider teen dating violence over the course of a decade. Shaffer believes the overall decline in dating violence is positive. “Young people who experience dating violence are more likely to act out and take unnecessary risks, and they’re also more likely to experience depression or think about or attempt suicide,” she says. “That’s why it’s good to see that decline in dating violence over a 10-year span. It suggests that healthy relationship programs are making an impact among youth.” Elizabeth Saewyc, senior study author and a UBC nursing professor, thinks the results tell us that teens in dating relationships need more support programs. “A lot of our interventions assume that the girl is always the victim, but these findings tell us that it isn’t always so,” notes Saewyc. “And relationship violence, be it physical, sexual or other forms, and regardless who the perpetrator is, is never OK. Health-care providers, parents and caregivers, schools and others can protect teens from dating violence by helping them define what healthy relationships look like, even before their first date.” Researchers say a study is needed to find out why boys are experiencing an increase in dating violence. The study results were published on July 18, 2018 in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

National Coffee Day 2018: Where to get free java

Though true java lovers know that the dreamy drink is worthy of celebration 365 days a year, National Coffee Day is nearly upon us once again. On September 29, coffee shops across the country will mark the occasion by giving out free (or discounted) cups of joe. Various chains are brewing up tons of deals and steals at participating stores – so get ‘em while they’re hot. Click here to see our list:

🙂