Category Archives: Making the Grade!

Making the Grade: Items from Captain America’s Need-to-Check-Out List

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“I Love Lucy (Television)”
Cap: “Hey, cool, that gal from Five Came Back landed her own TV show… [watches five minutes of pilot episode] … yeah, this isn’t funny.” Don’t get me wrong, Lucille Ball was a pioneer comedy legend who blazed a trail for all future funny women, and her show — together with Milton Berle’s and whatever that Ed Sullivan guy was doing Sunday nights — were the LOLcats memes of their day, the early hits that gave a nascent medium the star power it needed to take off. But to be honest, I would have told Cap to start his binge-watching with something a little more current. Or in color, at least. That candy conveyor belt bit is only funny the first five or so times, you know? And don’t get me started on whatever kinky shit Lucy and Ricky had to pull to get her pregnant — whoops, “expecting” — in that twin-bed-separated-by-a-nightstand bedroom setup. That’s messed up even for the ’50s. C-

“Moon Landing”
Definitely the defining moment of the 20th century, with only the debut of the single by that old lady from the “Where’s the Beef?” ads coming in a close second. Pretty hard to argue against putting this on anyone’s 20th-century highlights reel. Though I gotta say I would be mightily amused if a future Marvel movie shows the moon landing from the Watcher’s perspective: “Well, crap — there goes the neighborhood.” A

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“Berlin Wall (Up + Down)”
Having been born too late to watch the moon landing on TV, I’m happy my generation got our own history-is-now moment in 1989 — two of them, if you also count the tank standoff at Tiananmen Square. (Oh, and also “I’m Batman.” And “He chose… poorly.” Man, 1989 was awesome.) Though I’m thinking Cap would have gotten really pissed with the rest of us when he learned why the wall went up in the first place. “I fought Nazis and heroically sacrificed myself just so you guys could spend your kids’ lunch money building walls and tanks and freakin’ nuclear missiles? Geez, guys. Oh, sorry, language.” B+

“Steve Jobs (Apple)”
Apple products, sure, that’s worth catching up on, if only to see the awesome advances we’ve made in entertainment media since the last time The Andrews Sisters topped the charts. Hell, even that “1984” Apple commercial is worth checking out, but not before reading Orwell’s 1984 to understand the joke behind that “why 1984 won’t be like 1984” line. But I’m having a hard time imagining a conversation where someone says, “So, you just woke up from a 70-year coma, huh? That’s wild. What should you check out first? Um… You know, lots of cool stuff. Microwave popcorn, Tetris and… oh yeah, Steve Jobs, go get that book about him. Skip the Kutcher movie, though. Like the rest of us did.” D+

“Disco”
Look at the bright side, at least Cap didn’t write “Line Dancing (Achy Breaky Heart?)” on his list. At this point in his list, I like to imagine Steve deciding to save time by tackling items on his catch-up list all at once, inviting Tony, Natasha and the rest of the gang over for a fun night of Thai food, Guitar Hero, Netflix binge-watching and Wikipedia-surfing, capped off by re-enactments of every dancing scene from Saturday Night Fever. Why the hell not? I’d sure as hell watch that. I mean, if we were all willing to sit through end credits just to watch them eat shawarma… C+

“Thai Food”
Speaking of awesome ethic cuisine. Assuming the Super-Soldier serum and vita-rays took care of any peanut or shellfish allergies the 4-F version of Steve Rogers might have had, this is a great place to start for anyone from the past eager to try the many awesome mall food court options of the present. What I’d really like to see, though, is a montage of scenes showing a recently unfrozen Captain America going to places like a vegan restaurant, a Whole Foods store, and one of those avant-grade restaurants where all the lights are out, the food is served by blind little people and the entrées are served in edible test tubes. That’s sitcom magic, y’all. B+

“Star Wars” 
Yes, for the love of God, Steve, do not spend one more minute of your post-Popsicle life not knowing the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek. Entire continents have been ravaged by fans arguing over who is the better Enterprise captain, or whether Han shot first. And the look that either side gives anyone who thinks Trek is the one where they carry lightsabers? Priceless. Anyway, this entry makes me wonder where Steve will start his Star Wars education. Would he look at the Roman numerals and start with Phantom Menace first, or would he go chronologically to fully appreciate every Star Wars fan’s journey from unbridled joy to crushing bitterness? One thing’s for sure: if Nick Fury offers to watch the films with him, that will make for some interesting running commentary. “Yeah, never mind that New Hope shit, all you need to know is this series is the story of one badass Jedi mother—er named Mace Windu who does nothing but kick sweet Sith ass. Damn, you see that move? Here, let me rewind that for you.” B

“Star Trek”
I imagine a guy who grew up on Buck Rogers serials as a kid wouldn’t be too impressed by the (ahem) cutting-edge special effects of the original Trek, but I hope he starts his education there instead of, say, that last Abrams movie, the one with the ‘Batchster playing “KHAAAAAAAAANNNNN!” like a guy dumb enough to allow torpedoes on his ship and then be surprised they were actual armed torpedoes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had issues with that film. B+

“Nirvana (band)”
Good thing he added “band” here, because I’m sure the first thing most people think of when they see “Nirvana” is the Buddhist concept of the elimination of desire that comes with escaping the cycle of rebirth. Can’t argue with this one, though I hope a fellow like him starts his education with “No Apologies” and works his way up to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Am I the only one thinking how hilarious it would be watching Cap find the Weird Al parody of that video on YouTube? “But why are they all playing the kazoo, Clint? Why?” A-

“Rocky (Rocky II?)”
What I love here is the question mark. Like he’s pretty sure he should watch the last good movie Stallone ever made (sorry, Cobra fans, but it’s true), but he’s not sure if he wants to see the sequel. I’m with him on this one; I remember Rocky III as the one with “Eye of the Tiger” and Mr. T in it, and Rocky IV was the one with Ivan “I vill break you” Drago, and Rocky V was the one where Rocky and the Mighty Ducks beat Iceland in the big tournament, or something… but what happened in Rocky II? I dunno, something about rising up to the challenge, I know that much. C

“Troubleman (soundtrack)”
I appreciate Sam trying to inject a little soul into Cap’s pop-cult education. Disco, Rocky, Nirvana, Thai food, Star Wars — this list was starting to veer away from “big things you missed” and into “things white people like” territory. Having said that… you’re putting Gaye’s Trouble Man album ahead of What’s Going On? or Let’s Get It On? Or even Midnight Love…? The hell? Not on my watch, Wilson. Not on my watch. C-