Postcards, Past and Present

My dad had two cousins who traveled a lot. And they always sent my brother and I plenty of postcards from all over the world. Then, when I was a sophomore in college, one of them died. Postcards started up after a while, but the gap prompted me to start sending postcards of the kids in my life.

I recently received the Mammoth Site postcard, and the Cinderella card has not been sent yet..

It’s been fun, if occasionally difficult, to send postcards. I say difficult, because a lot of places that I remember having entire racks of postcards when I was a kid (like the zoo), now have one style at the cash register. If that. Art museums seem to be the only venue that have not reduced their inventory of postcards. But as I don’t go very many places, I’ve fallen onto collections of Disney postcards. They’re actually quite useful. My little cousins love them, and I once sent the Speaker of the House a Dumbo card (tee hee).

And that, finally, brings me to the point. Postcards have a fun, nostalgic history, but seem to have largely become purely utilitarian in recent months. Probably the last postcard most people received was the reminder from their dentist that it’s time to schedule their six-month checkup, or something of that nature. My dad is apparently one of only a few private citizens who still actually buys postcard stamps at his local post office (I use forever stamps on mine).

It’s true that in the Internet age, less actual mail is being sent (and no, I the Internet blogger will not rail against Facebook, Twitter, or email), but why not send more postcards, at least? They can’t be much longer than a text, given how small the allotted space is, and they cost less than $0.40 to send! The recipient can even use them for decoration if the picture is particularly appealing.

Then there are the memories and the appeal of having something tactile when looking back on the good times of previous years. I love scrolling through photos, but having something other than a mouse or touch pad is nice, too.

Or you could just take my Dumbo example and run with it, and annoy your least favorite politician, if nostalgia and vacation pics aren’t your cup of tea.


Blue Marvel

Marvel has been a large presence in my life for the past sixteen years. And of course, that includes the huge run of blockbusters, even though it started humbly enough, with my dad’s old comics up in Grandma’s attic.

By now, my husband and I are starting to get a little tired of the whole movie thing, though, and it makes me pause to reflect on my favorite titles from the cinematic universe. And the result was a little surprising. My top picks have a distinct element of sadness to them.

To me, that’s surprising, at least, because I will defend happy endings vehemently.  I can rail against other bloggers who claim that Harry Potter is inferior literature because it ends on a happy note. But apparently I like it best when super heroes lose a little.

My favorite is Captain America: The First Avenger. The movie has a lot of heart, but it ends on kind of a double-whammy: Peggy Carter, the Colonel, and Howard Stark mourning their friend and then Cap awakening to almost all of his friends being already dead or in the midst of dying of old age.

Thor ends with the titular hero mourning the loss of his brother and separation from Jane Foster.

Black Panther sees one of his best friends betray him, as well as many within the Wakandan government collaborate with Killmonger, plus the knowledge of his father’s mistake. And there’s the historical baggage prompting some of the plot.

Maybe my fondness for the bittersweet endings stems in part from the fact that I don’t like the silly humor element that is shoehorned into a lot of the Marvel canon. You can argue that it works for Iron Man (I don’t like him, so I’m not the person to ask about those movies). And it definitely works for Guardians of the Galaxy, but it doesn’t work for Thor. It doesn’t work for Dr. Strange.

And while both Black Panther, Thor, and First Avenger have many upbeat scenes with organic humor, they are tonally consistent throughout the movie. Dr. Strange constantly undercuts itself with a forced joke, and as such, has problems with tone. Thor: Ragnarok completely junks established character traits for Thor to make it more like Guardians of the Galaxy.

Finally… bittersweetness means that there are stakes. Marvel has attempted to add stakes to other movies, but being told about the death of a bunch of faceless extras in Eastern-Eurovania doesn’t hold much weight. It’s not like hearing about a real world tragedy on CNN in a real Eastern European country because it’s fiction, and it doesn’t hold much weight dramatically because we have no connection to the dead people. When War Machine falls out of the sky in Civil War, realistically, he should have died. But he lived, just suffering spinal injuries that had been fixed by the time of Infinity War.

And speaking of Infinity War… well, one quick look at the upcoming list of Marvel movies tells us who’s coming out of that alive. The cinema was dead silent when the movie ended, but we all know we’ll be meeting our favorite characters again soon. And it’s a little disappointing.

Going back to my earlier Harry Potter example… by the time “all was well” that happy ending had been amply earned. Characters died, and the heroes suffered to get there. And it could be a difference in mediums, admittedly, because books can do things movies can’t, and vice-versa, but if we want things to work out for our Marvel heroes, they need to earn the eventual ride into the sunset. And what is a sunset but the end of a long, arduous day, with shadows.

And I guess I like the bittersweet endings because all of those elements are found in those movies. They feel complete to me.

Hopefully Infinity War Part 2 will be, too.