I've been running an online l5r game about a martial arts tournament. It's a lot of fun but I'm going a little crazy with it. 32 players = lots of plot and necessary adjucation. I must speak to Doji Tsukaede about co-running it with me.
And in other news, I recently acquired the DVDs of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, a TV show from the early nineties. Watching this show with my family was a weekly family ritual, and watching it now brings back a lot of pleasant memories. Still, that's not the only reason I like the show. In spite of its atrocious special effects and fake-looking sets, it does something important. It humanizes Superman.
With Batman: The Animated Series we saw a change in mass-media depiction of superheroes. In that show the decision was made to write it from the perspective that Batman was the real person and Bruce Wayne the mask. It caught on and became a popular way to show superheroes. One of the underrated themes of Spiderman 2 was Peter Parker's inner conflict trying to figure out who he really was; did taking off the costume change his essence and responsibilities? Now Terentino's assessment of Superman in Kill Bill Vol. 2 (if you don't know it look it up on IMDB. It's in the Memorable Quotes section) is dead on for comic book Superman and most of the movies: Superman is the real person, Clark Kent the mask, and the mask is Superman's impression of humanity as a whole, which is to say weak and afraid. Lois and Clark reversed the Batman trend, however, and made Clark the real person. Let's examine that.
This Clark Kent isn't meak so much as shy, mild-mannered so much as conventional. He's a simple country boy from Kansas who happens to have been born with all these powers and has no idea what to do with them. He's simply not comfortable as Superman but has to put on the mask because that's what is expected of someone who can bend bars with his bare hands and fly to the moon. He's worldly and intelligent, but still wants a quiet life yet he sets all that aside for a higher purpose. He does something no Superman before him has done: he chooses to use his powers, not for good or evil, but to use them.
Every other Superman followed the Terentino explanation and was Superman first and Clark Kent second. They couldn't not use their powers. When this series starts Clark doesn't want to use his powers, is afraid of using them even. And yet he does because there's a need. It's never a question of using them for evil because there's no call for him to do so but there is a need for him to put on the cape and go out and help people. Then at the end of the day, he puts cape and powers away and is able to let himself be Clark. He is a hero on the order of Cincinattus.
I didn't realize it before, but this Clark was probably my formative hero. Before Achilles, before Richard Rahl, before any of them there was Superman making his choice. Superman helped people. He didn't devote his life to it, it didn't define him, he just made the world a better place, and he did it without reward.
Being a hero is a very noble thing.