Nerd Curious is an occasional series in which Todd VanDerWerff tries the nerdy things he missed as a kid, either due to lack of access, time, or ability. He has a rough schedule planned out, but feel free to use the comments to suggest more nerd experiences he needs to have.


How do you build a myth?

I like to think the stories we have today from the ancients have more complicated versions that preceded them. At some point, somebody sitting around a campfire said, “Hey, here’s a story about a guy who’s incredibly strong!” or “Hey, this father and son build wings and take off into the sky, and it ends horribly!” or “There’s this garden, and this snake tricks this man and woman into something they should never do.” And somebody else takes that seed and embellishes, and maybe there are multiple versions, but the stuff that really matters remains. The man is the son of a god; somebody flies too close to the sun; the man and woman are kicked out. It takes centuries, but the story is whittled down into the primal, the essential. You recognize those stories from the nuggets I’ve given you. Doesn’t everybody?

There’s a scene I’ve always liked in the otherwise dreadful “post-apocalyptic dragons” movie Reign Of Fire that suggests how this might happen with our modern pop-culture artifacts. In it, the film’s hero—played by Christian Bale—acts out the story of the Star Wars trilogy for a bunch of kids in the burned-out fortress he and his hardy band of dragon-fighters occupy. The story has lost much of its excess and become both cruder and simpler. Yet the more it gets boiled down, the more potent it becomes. You don’t need all the flourishes when the center is that powerful. All you need to do is tell the story as well as possible, and the rest takes care of itself. The scene works because we laugh with recognition at the story Bale is acting out, but also because it thrills us. Even if the vast majority of us were to die, fragments of our culture would live on. We recognize this because we carry with us bits of pop-culture flotsam and jetsam from long-dead empires. This stuff accumulates. It sticks to the bottom of humanity’s shoe and travels forward in time. We’ll never be rid of Hercules or Icarus or Adam and Eve. They’re our birthright and our promise to past generations that they won’t be forgotten, not entirely.


But what will outlast us? Reign Of Fire argues Star Wars will, and that’s probably accurate. Yet I’d argue that Superman isn’t just making the transition from story seed to over-complicated tale to myth; I’d say he’s already made it. The character was self-consciously created to echo the strongmen of myth and legend, and after decades of continuous publication of stories about the big guy, that story has gotten whittled down into something incredibly pure.

There’s this planet, and it’s about to blow up. One of that planet’s genius scientists decides the best hope for the spirit of his people to survive is to put his child in an interstellar basket and cast him among the reeds. He lands on Earth and is raised by an unassuming farm family in the middle of the Midwest. He comes to realize his powers and heritage with time. He accumulates friends, enemies, his one true love. He becomes the greatest man on Earth, an icon into which we pour all of our hopes about our own goodness and abilities. In some stories, he dies. In some, he doesn’t. (This seems to be the one thing we’re still figuring out when it comes to how we want to portray this “myth.”) In all of them, he suffers. He comes here to suffer, and he shows us how to be better. He’s Moses and Hercules and Jesus and America’s dream version of itself and the better angels of our natures all rolled into one. He’s us, but he’s also pointedly alien, somebody just over there for all of us to strive toward.

You don’t need Krypto the superdog or the bottle city of Kandor or even Lex Luthor to tell the story of Superman. You just need one guy who’s big enough to hold the world on his shoulders and a world that keeps giving him shit.


That’s all you need for any myth.

I don’t remember the first time I encountered Superman. Who does? He’s omnipresent in a way that doesn’t really reflect how important he is to the current popular culture. The last Superman movie came and went, and the comics sell well for contemporary comics, which means the number of people buying them wouldn’t make a dent in the box office of even the films on the furthest reaches of the weekly top 10. He’s a figure like Mickey Mouse now, an icon who’s ubiquitous without a lot of contemporary pop culture actually revolving around him. And who remembers the first time they ever saw Mickey?


The idea of this series, you may remember, is that I’m getting into the stuff I could never get into as a child or teenager, for religious or logistical reasons. But I’d be lying if I said I somehow managed to avoid Superman entirely. C’mon. Who doesn’t encounter the character at some point in their childhood? What I can say is that while I’ve always loved the idea of Superman—both for the reasons everybody does and for personal reasons I’ll get into in a bit—I’ve never especially pursued reading his greatest comics stories until now. Like Clark Kent, I grew up in the middle of the middle of nowhere, in a small, flat town with only one store that carried comics—mostly Archie Comics. The first Superman comic I ever read—which lay at the bottom of a treasure trove of comics in my grandparents’ closet—was also the only one I’d read until my 20s, when I picked up the marvelous All-Star Superman on a lark. I’ve seen his movies, plus assorted episodes of his TV shows, but I’ve never really sat down and tried to get a sense of the stories behind the myth, all of the stuff that’s being whittled away with time.

The process of getting to a point where I feel as if I can talk about the character with even the slightest authority is long and arduous. It takes lots of drafts and many false starts. But as I read more and more comics about Superman, I started to trace a thread, not only about the character or the country that gave birth to him, but about myself. Deep down, there are connective tissues between the character and myself beyond the simple facts of our shared Midwestern heritage and the all-too-common dreams of flying, but they’re connections I’ve only begun laying bare in the last few years, the sorts of things you never know are there until you pick them up, look at them from all angles, and realize they were always buried deep within yourself, even if you didn’t know what the sand held.

But the more I read, the more I think Superman just resonates with damn near everybody.


I’ve known people who find Superman boring. I’ve known people who think telling stories featuring such an all-powerful character is a fool’s errand. But I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t feel just a second of childlike glee at the pure wonder of an impossibly good man who can fly. It’s an idea you just can’t fuck up, and believe me, people have tried. The stories can be terrible, but the second that guy leaves the ground, it pulls on every fiber of being of anyone who’s ever felt constrained by gravity. The way we’re all stuck down here on the ground makes it thrilling to see him do it.

Superman resonates because he’s a mirror, in some ways. We can all project onto him the things we best like about ourselves and about humanity. He’s the guy we want to see in ourselves, the thing we secretly hope we are, even when we know we’re nowhere near that, or even capable of it. When he was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938, the two consciously modeled him on mythic figures like Hercules and the Jewish legend of the Golem. Much has been written about how Siegel and Shuster’s Judaism informed their creation of the greatest Gentile superhero, the pure embodiment of American pie and the Fourth of July. And there’s definitely something to the notion that the two came up with an alien superhero because they felt like aliens in their own land, just as much as there’s something to the idea that he comes from a dying planet because the two had roots in Europe, and that continent felt like it was cracking apart in 1938 as surely as Krypton does before Superman’s parents send him away, particularly for the Jews who were unable to flee.


Superman’s adventures also roughly parallel the story of a powerful nation realizing just how powerful it actually was. He stands up for the helpless during the Great Depression, fights in World War II, grows bored and listless with ultimate power in the ’50s and ’60s, loses himself a bit in the ’70s, then grapples with an ever-maturing world that threatens to leave behind his brand of innocence from the ’80s onward. And now, in Grant Morrison’s wonderful run on Action Comics, the character is blending all of these influences, sometimes uneasily, even as he’s gotten back to those roots as the “champion of the oppressed.”

Superman explains to us why we’re not better people, why we don’t bother trying to make the world a better place with every waking breath. Superman is someone we’re meant to emulate, but also a rather cruel mirror of our inability to do so. He has to be an alien, because the thought that an actual human being could be this pure and good is unthinkable to us on some level. We want everybody else to be Superman, yet we know deep down that we can never be. We’re ruled by selfishness and greed as surely as many of his villains, and when it comes right down to it, we’re as likely to be foiled by him as we are to be helped by him. He might be the champion of the oppressed, but as surely as we all feel oppressed all too often, we also all do our fair share of oppressing.

What’s amazing to me is that the early Superman comics often adopt the point of view of anyone but Superman. The first issue of Action Comics by Siegel and Shuster gets the business of Superman’s origin out of the way, then immediately goes about having him stop the execution of an innocent woman, foil criminals, and interrupt a domestic-abuse incident in progress. The focus is always squarely on the people watching Superman, not Superman himself. We get the Clark Kent secret identity and the Lois Lane crush and all that—as well as the idea of the cops pursuing Superman, something that’s mostly fallen by the wayside in the decades since—but we also spend a lot of time with people who are marveling at this amazing, terrifying creature who’s popped up in their midst. Everybody who sees him is constantly aware that if he decided to, he could wipe out every human being on the planet without a second thought. That idea inspires great fear and a kind of reverence.


One of the ideas that’s taken root on the Internet in recent years is that Superman is a dick. This has been advanced by the website, which primarily focuses on moments in comics from the ’50s and ’60s in which the big guy seems to have absolutely no concept of human emotion, and jerks his friends around just because he can. Most of these are easy enough to write off in context—or when one considers that these were comics aimed at kids who mostly wanted a few laughs, not an earnest consideration of the role a god among men might play if he literally existed—but that doesn’t explain all his dickish behavior.

Take an issue in which Superman, for some reason, decides it’s time to stop reckless drivers. This isn’t a bad idea, but he takes things too far. He interrupts a radio broadcast—early superheroes are always doing this—to implore Metropolis to stop driving so poorly. And then he heads out on the streets, looking for people who are disobeying the order he just dictated, like a cruel emperor with ultimate power. When he finds bad drivers, he picks up their cars and destroys them. And then he takes his fight to the used-car dealers of the city, with their junker machines that act as deathtraps. These cars, he rolls up into balls, that they might never be used again. Finally, he finds the man who owns the company that produces the most deadly car, and proceeds to destroy his factory. He’s pissed off at the thought that anybody would cause harm to any person alive for their own selfish ends. He’s a god who holds impossible standards, yet after he punishes us, humanity gets with the program. Reckless driving has largely ceased to be a problem in Metropolis by the end of the issue, when Clark Kent gets a parking ticket, and is secretly delighted to see the police taking traffic laws so seriously. He’s a dick, yes, but a dick who’s hard to laugh at. His standards are impossible to live up to, yet because he applies them to people at all class levels, he becomes a terrifying figure of justice, even as he maintains a friendly exterior.

What’s fascinating about this isn’t that Superman stops criminals in their tracks. That’s roughly the arc of every early Superman issue, whether the criminals be speeders or bank robbers. What’s fascinating is that Superman’s wrath applies at all levels of society. It’d be one thing if he were just stomping on speeders, because, hey, that’s a lesson we could all stand to learn. But he’s stomping on small businessmen who sell bad merchandise and corporate interests who cut corners to make a quick buck, and he saves his worst punishments for those who sit at the levers of power and don’t bother to do good for the rest of the species. The little guy gets a stern warning. The rich roadster loses a car. The corporate tycoon loses a whole factory.


That’s as much a function of the America Siegel and Shuster were writing in as anything else. The New Deal had given a lot of people jobs, but it had yet to bring the country back to anything like its pre-Depression heights. War loomed on the horizon (granted, a war that would bring the country out of the Depression and launch an unprecedented boom of prosperity). The poor were downtrodden, and the rich kept getting richer. This has always been true, but it felt particularly true at that point in time. Is it any wonder that a figure who aimed to intervene both in petty squabbles and in larger struggles with corporate interests would catch on so quickly? And this was just as true of many of Superman’s rough contemporaries—Captain Marvel and Batman and Captain America.

The earliest superheroes spoke to a nation of people stuck in a world that seemed mired in never-ending hell, and they spoke to them by suggesting that there remained such things as truth, justice, and the American way. They took the moments that go wrong in all of our lives—that abusive boyfriend you didn’t leave because you thought he’d turn a corner, that car accident you got into because you looked away for just a second, that job you didn’t get because you weren’t qualified—and they make them go right. The early comics often don’t ask us to sympathize with the heroes. They ask us to sympathize with the people standing on the ground and pointing into the sky.


I liked Superman as a kid. I even saw all of the movies, including that terrible fourth one. But I never really got into the comics. In my adulthood, I’ve tried to be better about getting into comics, in fits and starts, but I always trail off after about six months of hardcore reading and buying. DC’s recent “New 52” launch was the latest attempt I made to get into reading the things on a monthly basis (and the indirect inspiration for this feature), but I still fell off after a while.


I’m a completist by nature, and for completists, getting into comics can be exhausting. Even when you try to focus on one character exclusively or push aside the books you don’t like, there’s still so much stuff out there. Part of many nerdish pursuits involves immersing yourself in an alternate world, in which you can exert some form of mastery over all the knowledge needed to navigate those waters. (More about this in the next installment.) But I’ve always felt, when reading comics, that I’m getting just the tip of the iceberg.

For instance, I greatly enjoy the new Action Comics, which features the great Morrison (responsible, again, for All-Star Superman, possibly the best gateway Superman story) offering up stories roughly analogous to modern versions of the Golden Age stories described above, with some over-the-top science fiction tossed in for good measure. I enjoy the series immensely, to the point where it’s the only New 52 title I’m still keeping up with. Yet I still feel as if I’m missing the element that would make it all lock in, would make me a lifelong comics addict. I’m enjoying the surface pleasures, but I’m not connecting with the soul of the book. I know it’s there. I can feel it somewhere off in the distance, but I can’t seem to make it work for me. My reasons for preferring Superman to other heroes might be so personal that I’m just looking for a Superman story that’s about me (Kurt Busiek’s Secret Identity, perhaps), or I might be looking for phantoms that don’t exist.

It’s also entirely possible that I just didn’t build those comics-buying muscles—going to the store every Wednesday, perusing the stacks, talking with the store owner about what’s good—as a child or teenager because I grew up in a place that was so small, the words “New Comics Wednesday” would have only prompted a blank stare from most residents. And maybe now it’s too late to build those muscles, as if I was a 40-year-old longing to compete in the Olympics.


In the ’50s and early ’60s—the Silver Age, if you will—Superman occasionally seems bored with it all. The stories of this period seem ghoulishly obsessed with killing the character off, always pulling back at the last minute by revealing that, ho ho ho, it was all an imaginary story, or oh my goodness, Jimmy Olsen had a hunk of green kryptonite in his camera, and every time he was near Superman, that caused the hero to weaken. He isn’t dying, but he almost did!

The United States was feeling out its new role as an unquestioned superpower. The world was dividing itself between countries siding with the U.S. and countries siding with the Soviet Union. Both nations had the atomic bomb, and others were scrambling to catch up. In a world at war, Superman can be utilized effectively (even if the writers need to depower him somewhat) because there’s always someone to punch and someone to punish. In a world stagnated by Cold War, Superman becomes the ultimate weapon that can never go off. He has to turn away from the political and personal, toward the cosmic and weird.


In this period, many of the most famous aspects of the Superman mythos take hold. The era’s books are filled with wild imagination, including the bottle city of Kandor, easily my favorite bit of weird Superman esoterica. The stories opt for science fiction by contrast with the 1940s’ early, vaguely realistic tales of crime and struggle, periodically interrupted by a man wearing tights. Instead, the ’50s and ’60s send Superman up against space aliens and fifth-dimensional imps who operate like fairy-tale characters. This is the period when seemingly all the supporting characters in the series gained their own titles, and it’s the period when characters as diverse as Krypto and Lana Lang first took the forms we still know them in today.

I enjoy the stories of this era, for the most part, but I don’t find them as compelling as the early Superman stories. There’s a laziness to them, though it’s found less in the storytelling—which is wildly inventive—than in their emotions. The reason Superdickery focuses so much on this period is simply because Superman seems callous and removed. He’s a guy who’s saved the world multiple times, and he’ll do it multiple times over, but there’s no challenge in it. Like the nation that gives him his home, he’s never quite sure just how much power to flex. Unlike the nation that gives him his home, he doesn’t make mistakes. Things always turn out all right in the end, and even when he dies—in the famous, Siegel-scripted imaginary story “Death Of Superman”—his legacy lives on via Supergirl, another hero introduced in this period.

What doesn’t work for me about this period is perhaps best exemplified by the story that opens up Superman Showcase, Vol. 1, a book printed by DC to collect years of stories from the late ’50s in black and white, just so fans can get an affordable look at them. In the story, Superman is alarmed to discover that someone has broached his Fortress Of Solitude, discovering his secret identity, and possibly plotting to kill him and everybody he cares about. Yet there’s no real storyline here. Superman hangs out in the Fortress, showing off his various rooms dedicated to his friends (with wax sculptures of them, oddly enough), playing chess with a super-intelligent robot, and trying to puzzle out who the intruder might be without actually looking for him. In the end, it turns out it’s Batman, who thought he might give Superman a great birthday present in honor of the anniversary of his arrival on Earth. That present is the terrifying thought that he might die. Superman returns the favor by briefly letting Batman think the two of them have been sealed in a room by a rock slide containing green Kryptonite (don’t ask). But it turns out okay in the end! The two friends burst back into the Fortress.


There are no stakes here. There’s just an endless assault of ideas, and because the character can’t die, the stories become fascinated by walking all the way up to almost killing him, then backing off. Instead, there’s an endless amount of exposition (seriously, Superman repeats himself constantly in these stories) and low-stakes stories that play as a weird combination of pulp science fiction and broad comedy. I find the stories compulsively readable and fun to flip through, but there’s nothing here that hits me in the gut like the early stories. Those were cruder and less well-formed, prone to wandering off on tangents about, say, infantile paralysis. But they were pure, not laden down with pointless busywork. This Superman feels logy and ineffective.

But when I opened one of the Showcase books, I saw it. All those connective tissues snapped me back into place, and I remembered what, for me, always set Superman apart.

The thing you need to know about me, the thing that makes me snap into place, is that I’m adopted. Now, granted, not everybody who’s adopted reacts to this fact the same way, but it’s fairly common in adoptees to find a sense of alienation, of feeling like you belong in the family you’ve been adopted into, but you also don’t, not really. The feeling of being from somewhere else—of perhaps having a hidden purpose and secret identity—can also be quite common. There’s always the thought that maybe, maybe, you’ll learn you’re someone with a great destiny who was waylaid to learn the “right” way of doing things.


Sound like anybody you know?

When I was a kid, I found the aforementioned box of comics in my grandmother’s closet. These were books collected by my uncle in the ’60s, and they’re mostly TV tie-ins and Archie stories. Yet at the bottom, there was one Superman title with a story that’s stuck with me. For years, I’ve thought I made it up, simply because no one else in my family can remember it, and I couldn’t find information about it online, though granted, it’s a hard subject to investigate. The story is one of these patently silly ones, in which Superman goes about his day, teaching school classes and helping the helpless, as all the while, a robot duplicate of himself in his Clark Kent persona at a plastics factory tries to hide the fact that chemicals have burnt off the synthetic skin covering his metal frame. Superman arrives at the factory every so often to see if the robot needs his help, but the robot thinks of some way to keep his hands obscured—thus preserving Superman’s secret identity, so Superman can rush off to save the day elsewhere. It’s pretty dumb, honestly, but there’s a childlike glee to the imagination on display. This is the book I find in the Showcase volume, and instantly, I’m back there, sitting in the closet, reading that book, smiling at this new promise of what I could become. In the other room, my parents and grandparents are talking, and the grandfather clock against the wall buzzes before chiming to mark the hour, but I’m gone. I’m elsewhere.

For plenty of adoptees, encountering Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker or Superman—any hero who doesn’t know his “real” parents—is like a light bulb going off. In an instant, the mysteries of the past don’t have to be mysteries anymore. They can be starting points for imagination, for the dream that, yeah, your parents were probably scared kids who didn’t know better, but maybe they were space aliens. And how cool would that be?


The old cliché is always that those who strongly identify with genre fiction long to see themselves in the heroes of those tales, but that’s extra-personal for many adoptees. It certainly was for me. The first step of the hero’s journey is not knowing who you are. Of course I would identify with Superman.

After the ’60s came a period I like to call the “settling.” Granted, I’m not as well-versed in this period as the others I’ve just talked about (trying to read a representative survey of 70 years of comics isn’t the easiest thing in the world), but particularly in the ’80s and ’90s, it seems as though those writing the character struggled to make him fit in a world where no one took innocence for granted anymore. Superman is often described—pejoratively—as a Boy Scout, and the comics of this period seem uncertain of how far to push this. Lex Luthor might sleep with a subordinate, but it’s all depicted subtly in the background, with her dress from the night before being replaced by a bathrobe the next morning. The stories grew darker, and the villains seemed much more capable of killing Superman. Famously, in the early ’90s, one did. Superman returned soon enough, which lessened the stakes. Yet I can forgive DC this storytelling reversal. Killing Superman permanently would be like giving up, like saying, “Hey, all those things we thought humanity might be capable of? We don’t think that anymore.” The stories got darker and darker to push Superman’s purity further and further, almost as if the writers needed to punish him because the world doesn’t live up to his standards.


Somewhere around the mid-’00s, this trend snapped like a rubber band, and recoiled back to the mythic. Superman returned to his pure Boy Scout form. Stories like Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier or Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman play with the idea of the character dying, yet make that idea even more explicitly Christ-like: He’s the man from elsewhere who is too pure for this world. All-Star, in particular, is one of the most beautiful comics I’ve ever read, particularly in its penultimate issue, which re-imagines Superman as a beacon who resonates through all realities, including our own, an ideal that simply must be expressed, even if imperfectly on the page.

When DC relaunched all its titles in 2011, it included several new Superman titles, featuring either the big guy or some member of his extended family. Morrison’s Action stands out in part for the way it brings the character back to his roots while remaining contemporary, depicting Superman as a young man, just beginning his superhero career; he’s depowered a bit, but still getting into large-scale battles. But he’s also become a weird avatar of the Occupy movement, invading parties of the wealthy and demanding that the world be more just, more fair. I’m struck by how much they resonate with the earliest stories about the Kryptonian. Here, again, we have a world gone mad. Here, again, we have people calling for justice and not finding it. Things have gone wrong, but no one knows how to set them right.

And then he comes, and maybe he’s a little brash, but it all works out. Morrison’s scripts place us in his headspace much more than those early comics, but they also place us in the headspace of the people giddy at the fact that, for once, God has bothered to show up.


The best Superman story ever told (or, okay, the best I’ve ever read) is Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” It was constructed to be the “last” Superman story in the mid-’80s, around the time DC was first trying to boost sales by launching the first of many reboots. Moore, one of the few comics writers who can stake a claim at being the best ever, opens the tale with the famed “This is an imaginary story… but aren’t they all?”, a reference to DC’s tendency to put the “imaginary” label on stories that did wild things with the status quo of its characters, so there would be no lasting consequences.

Immediately, Moore starts playing for keeps. The gleaming world of Metropolis is invaded by villain after villain, all bent on destroying Superman. He can’t understand, but he retreats, taking his closest friends and allies back to the Fortress Of Solitude. He thinks he can protect them, but he can’t. The entire supporting cast arrives to play out this final stand—everyone from Perry White to Krypto.


And then they all start to die. The villains are relentless, controlled by an unseen force, and Superman’s friends lay down their lives for him. Lana Lang and Jimmy Olsen give themselves superpowers and quickly succumb to villains from the future. Krypto turns green with kryptonite poisoning and tumbles to the ground. At times, it seems as if Superman might turn the tide, but then there’s another twist and he has to fight again. On and on.

It doesn’t last all that long, but it feels like an eternity. In the end, Superman is victorious, but he violates his code to win, killing someone to protect himself and his few surviving friends: Lois Lane, Perry White, and White’s wife. And, yes, he’s violated his code, but there’s also a terrifying agony to the fact that he gets to be the one who lives, the last son of a dying planet all over again, the survivor who can never figure out why he keeps getting to be the one who slips through the cracks.

He kills himself by walking into a room full of golden kryptonite.

Well, not really. The last panel lets us know he just lost his powers and settled into a quiet life with Lois. But in the instant he commits suicide, it’s clearly the only rational response to what’s just happened to him. It all sounds a little silly, but in the moment, it’s amazing, horrifying, and operatic. At their best, mythic heroes allow for moments that push for the absolute heights of emotion and keep on pushing. Once you’ve felt those moments of pure, operatic emotion, it’s clear that these new gods are just as human as any of us.


I’ve always identified with Superman, and for reasons beyond our shared status as boys growing up with mysteries in our past. The town I grew up in is slowly sinking into history, the population dropping with every year. The one store that sold comics closed over a decade ago. My grandparents’ house is now an empty shell, and the comics it once held are long gone. When the announcer says “last son of a dying planet,” I understand.

I thought that was a unique condition, one that others didn’t understand in quite the way I did. The longer I’m alive, though, the more I realize everybody thinks they’re Superman. Everybody’s the last child of a dying planet in their own minds. Icons become icons for a reason, after all. We all feel utterly alone. We all have support networks that could be snatched from us in an instant. We all feel like fools who possess reservoirs of great power, if only we could tap into them. We all wonder if we know who we really are.

We’re all constantly walking forward through a life that keeps stripping everything we have from us and asking us if that’s all we’ve got. For every joy we have, we will have just as much despair, and for every good day, there will be a dozen bad.


But we’ve all been sent here for some reason. And maybe someday, we’ll figure out how to fly.

Next time: European-style board games