"Avenger" Transcript


By Mark Sundaram

Welcome to the Endless Knot! With the new Captain Marvel movie coming out soon, not to mention some other big developments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we thought we’d take a look at the word marvel itself!

At the heart of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, is the word marvel, expressing the idea of something astonishing or something to be wondered at, appropriate enough for the fantasy world of comic books. And it’s that idea of being astonished or admiring something that lies behind the etymology too, as the word can be traced back through Old French merveille “a wonder, surprise, miracle”, to Latin mirabilis “wonderful, marvellous, strange”, mirari “to wonder at, admire”, and mirus “wonderful, amazing”, which are also the roots of such words as admire, miracle, and mirror.

The current name of the comic book company comes from the title of the first comic book it published. The company was originally called Timely Comics and its first publication, Marvel Comics #1, came out in 1939, featuring the superheroes the Human Torch and Namor the Submariner. Timely Comics changed names a few times, to Atlas Comics and eventually to Marvel Comics with the resurgence of superhero comic books at the beginning of the 1960s, after superheroes had become unpopular during the 1950s.

Stan Lee, who was born Stanley Lieber but wanted to use a pseudonym in the comics industry, intending to keep his real name for more “serious” work as a novelist, started at Timely Comics as an assistant in 1939 and soon was appointed interim editor and then editor-in-chief. With the return to superhero titles in the 1960’s, he changed the comic book world by creating more naturalistic characters who, despite their extraordinary powers, often had the very ordinary foibles and emotions of everyday people, such as the Fantastic Four, with their bickering amongst themselves, and Spider-Man, with Peter Parker’s teenage angst. The Marvel company changed owners a number of times, eventually ending up in 2009 with the Disney Corporation, under whose aegis the new Captain Marvel film is being released.

As for Captain Marvel herself, well the character has a complex history. First of all, she wasn’t the first comic book superhero named Captain Marvel. The original Captain Marvel was created in 1939, appearing in Whiz Comics #2 from Fawcett Publications. Through the magic of the ancient wizard named Shazam, the 12 year old boy Billy Batson is able to transform into the adult superhero Captain Marvel whenever he speaks the wizard’s name. The name Shazam is an acronym made up of the sources of Captain Marvel’s superpowers: Solomon, a wise king of Israel from the Book of Samuel, provides him with wisdom; Hercules, the Greco-Roman demigod strongman hero provides his strength; Atlas, the Greek Titan who holds up the sky, provides him with stamina; Zeus, the Greek god of lightning and ruler of the Olympians, provides him with magic power; Achilles, Greek hero of Homer’s Trojan War epic the Iliad, provides him with courage; and Mercury, the Roman messenger god, provides him with speed. It’s an oddly mixed bunch. Solomon stands out as the only figure not from Greco-Roman mythology, and as for the rest, they’re an odd mixture of Greek and Roman equivalents: Hercules is the Roman form of Greek Herakles, Zeus is the Greek god who later became associated with Roman Jove or Jupiter, and Mercury is a Roman god who became associated with Greek Hermes. The character’s creators based Captain Marvel on the face of actor Fred MacMurray, best known for the film noir Double Indemnity, numerous Disney films such as The Absent-Minded Professor, and the 1960s tv show My Three Sons. The problem was that, following up on the recently created Superman character, Captain Marvel was kind of a rip-off. And for a while Captain Marvel started to become more popular than Superman and was outselling him at the newsstands, so Superman’s publisher National Comics Publications, which later became known as DC Comics, filed a lawsuit, and Captain Marvel ceased publication.

Since Fawcett’s Captain Marvel was out of the picture, Marvel Comics decided to grab the trademark, for obvious reasons, and created their own Captain Marvel, the alien Captain Mar-Vell of the Kree Empire, who only appeared sporadically in print, mainly to preserve the trademark. Later on, DC acquired the rights to Fawcett’s Captain Marvel character and wanted to revive him, but since they could no longer use the trademark Captain Marvel, they rebranded the character as Shazam. Interestingly, Shazam is set to make his entrance into the DC Extended Universe or DCEU, the DC equivalent of Marvel’s MCU, with the film Shazam! to open in April 2019. Which Captain Marvel will win?

So that’s two Captain Marvels, and neither is the titular character of the new MCU movie, and in fact there have been a number of other Marvel characters who used the name as well. But the current Captain Marvel, both in the comic books and in the movie, is Carol Danvers, a US Air Force officer, who, in the comic books anyway, was caught in the explosion of a Kree device with the Kree Captain Mar-Vell causing her DNA to meld with the alien, turning her into a human-Kree hybrid and giving her superpowers. In an effort to join in on 1970s feminism, Marvel Comics gave her the superhero name Ms. Marvel. But the character’s storyline wasn’t all smooth sailing. Ms. Marvel’s own comic book lasted for just a few years before being cancelled, and afterwards the character appeared in a number of other titles with groups such as the Avengers and the X-Men. During this time the character at various points had her memory erased, lost her powers, and been raped and impregnated by a supervillain, with her Avenger colleagues, including the female ones, failing to really recognize or acknowledge her ordeal and assuming she’d at least be happy with the child. Subsequently the character was made an alcoholic, and became negligent in her duty, leading to a storyline in which Captain America was going to court marshal her, whereupon she quit the Avengers. The rape storyline was criticized by comic book historian Carol Strickland, as well as then-fan Gail Simone who compiled a much circulated list entitled “Women in Refrigerators”, in reference to a Green Lantern story in which the hero’s girlfriend is killed, dismembered, and stuffed into a refrigerator; the list contained all the female comic book characters who had been “killed, maimed, or depowered”, often just as a plot device for male characters, a trope often referred to now as fridging, and it’s a long list. Simone later went on to become a comic book writer herself, doing much to raise the status of female characters in the genre. And as for Carol Danvers, her character is having something of a resurgence, having rejoined the Avengers, and eventually, after the death of the Kree Captain Mar-Vell, taking on the name Captain Marvel in his honour, and now becoming the title character of the new MCU movie and also being brought into the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

Now the Fawcett Captain Marvel wasn’t the only, or even the first, attempt to rip off the Superman character. Fox Comics only released one issue of Wonder Man in 1939, which featured a hero with basically the exact same powers as Superman (though given to him by a magic ring from a Tibetan monk), before a lawsuit put an end to it. Interestingly, Wonder Man is also the name of a later Marvel character, one of the Avengers and some-time romantic interest of Ms. Marvel. Of course the word wonder is a perfect synonym for marvel, so I guess that also connects the two Superman rip-offs Wonder Man and Captain Marvel. The word wonder comes from the Proto-Germanic root *wundran “miracle, wonder”, with many cognates in the Germanic languages, but its earlier etymology is uncertain. It might come from Proto-Indo-European *wen- “to desire, strive for”, also the source of the words win, wish, venerate, and the name of the Roman goddess of love Venus. Of course the most famous superhero with the moniker wonder is Wonder Woman, a DC character and the most successful and famous female superhero. Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by psychologist William Moulton Marston, who believed in the superiority of women. Marston thought that comic books had an untapped potential and wanted to create his own superhero, and at the insistence of his wife Elizabeth Halloway Marston, also a psychologist as well as an attorney, he made his character a woman, based not only on his wife but also on their polyamorous partner Olive Byrne, who had also been a psychology student. She was created to have all the strength of Superman but triumphed as much through peace and love as through brute strength. Marston’s story lines often featured Wonder Woman being chained up as he was a defender of the practise of bondage and submission, but her freeing of herself undercut the usual trope of the damsel in distress needing to be rescued by the hero. Her Lasso of Truth was a reflection of Marston’s development of the lie detector test, and her bracelets reflected those of Olive Byrne who wore them in lieu of a wedding ring. Olive by the way was the daughter of Ethyl Byrne, who along with her sister Margaret Sanger, was a radical feminist and advocate of birth control. It is therefore fitting that the Wonder Woman movie was widely acclaimed as a breakthrough for female representation in the world of superhero movies, not only by being the first to centre on a woman but also by being the first superhero movie from an American studio directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. And now the MCU is following in the DCEU’s footsteps with its first movie starring a female superhero—and Captain Marvel is also co-directed by a woman, Anna Boden.

So, that’s the “marvel” part of Marvel Comics—what about the “Comics” part? Well, the comic book was a development of the comic strip published in newspapers, so called because, before the introduction of the adventure hero into the medium, comic strips were generally humorous, and were also referred to as the funny pages or simply the funnies. The word comic comes, through Latin, from Greek komos “revel, carousal, merry-making”. The etymology beyond that is uncertain, but it might come either from the Proto-Indo-European root *ka- “to like, desire”, which also gives us the words caress and cherish, or from the root *kems- “to proclaim, speak solemnly”.

The style of illustration used in comics is usually referred to as cartoon. The cartoon in this sense goes back to the 19th century satirical magazine Punch. You see the original sense of the word cartoon was a preliminary sketch of a painting or fresco made on cardboard or stiff paper, and thus we refer to Leonardo da Vinci’s famous sketches as his cartoons. The words cartoon, card, and chart can all be traced back ultimately to the Greek word khartes meaning “papyrus”, a word that is probably of Egyptian origin, along with papyrus itself. By the way, one particular sketch by Leonardo of one of his flying machine ideas was the inspiration for artist and co-creator of Batman Bob Kane in designing the look of the character and his distinctive cape. Well Punch magazine, in order to satirize the self-aggrandizing politicians when the preparatory cartoons for the murals in the newly built Houses of Parliament were put on display, appropriated the term cartoon to refer to their satirical sketches about the event, and the name stuck with these kinds of humorous or satirical illustrations on any topic.

Now in those Punch magazine cartoons as well as other cartoons of the period, the text was included below as captions. The speech balloons that we now associate with the cartoon genre came a little later with the first comic strip Hogan’s Alley by Richard F Outcault which was first published in 1895 in the New York World newspaper. One of the lead characters in this strip, called the Yellow Kid because of his over-sized yellow nightshirt, had his speech initially rendered on his shirt, but soon Outcault started using speech balloons for the dialogue in the strip. By the way, the term comic book was first used in 1897 in reference to Outcault’s “McFadden’s Row of Flats” supplement in the New York Journal. There were of course precursors to the speech balloons, for instance speech scrolls, which were independently developed in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art and in European art in the middle ages, sometimes referred to as banderoles, which appear as actual scrolls in the paintings with text written on them. The thought balloon was developed in another comic strip from around the same time, The Katzenjammer Kids created by Rudolph Dirks, who also pioneered the use of graphic symbols such as a log being sawed in half to indicate loud snoring and sparkling stars to show pain. In later superhero comic books, the use of thought bubbles was pushed even further by Stan Lee who used them to include more complex interior monologues giving a deeper sense of the psychology of his characters.

There were also precursors to the use of sequential art in comic strips in order to tell a narrative, such as Greek friezes and Trajan’s Column which depicts the Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars in a 190m strip of images that spiral around the length of the 30m high column. There was also Mayan art which represented a narrative in sequential images, and in the 11th century, the Bayeux Tapestry depicted the Norman Invasion of England on a 70m long strip of embroidered cloth. The so-called Paupers’ Bibles of the later middle ages were basically cartoon strip versions of Biblical narratives for the benefit of those who were illiterate. In the 18th century, painter and engraver William Hogarth used a series of images to depict the moralizing lesson of a youth’s decline and fall in A Harlot’s Progress and A Rake’s Progress. And in a particular anticipation of the superhero comic books, the 1847 Travaux d’Hercule or Labours of Hercules by Gustave Doré depicts the story of an ancient hero.

By the early 20th century newspaper comic strips had become wildly popular, and soon enough they were used for other purposes than humour, and adventure strips like Tarzan and Buck Rogers started appearing in the 1920s, which told longer narrative threads over many strips, each ending with a cliffhanger. The concept of the cliffhanger may have its origin in the 1872 serialized novel A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy, in which one instalment ends with protagonist Henry Knight literally hanging off of a cliff, and supposedly the term itself was invented in the silent film era for serials such as The Perils of Pauline from 1914, in which the titular character is also left at the end of each instalment in some sort of peril—a good example of that ‘damsel in distress’ cliche that Wonder Woman was working against—though the phrase doesn’t seem to have occurred in print until the 1930s. Supposedly the phrase to be continued was also coined in 1903 for a comic strip.

The comic book started out as reprints of syndicated newspaper comic strips, such as The Funnies in 1929, Funnies on Parade in 1933, and Famous Funnies in 1934. Of course this is the American comic book we’re talking about here, as there were separate and independent traditions of comic books such as the Franco-Belgian comics like The Adventures of Tintin, British comics like Beano, and Japanese manga, which dates all the way back to the 18th century, and all of these traditions have their own conventions, but it’s in the American tradition that the superhero first appears, so that’s the one we’re following.

In addition to Dirks’s innovation of using graphic symbols in the Katzenjammer Kids, other symbols have been used in comics, most famously the grawlix, that is the use of typographical symbols as stand-ins for profanity, which go back to both Dirks and to a contemporary of his, Gene Carr, creator of the Lady Bountiful strip which seems to be the first strip to feature a female protagonist, though the name for this practise wasn’t invented until 1964 when Beetle Bailey cartoonist Mort Walker came up with it as kind of a joke for a satirical piece for the National Cartoonists Society. Linguist and lexicographer Ben Zimmer has since suggested the more appropriate name obscenicon for this typographic phenomenon, which is a portmanteau of obscenity and icon mirroring the portmanteau emoticon from emotion and icon. It has just recently been found that Carr’s first use of the obscenicon just slightly pre-dates the earliest known use in Dirks’s comic strip.

And speaking of emoticons, the use of typographical symbols to depict facial expressions in order to express emotion in online communication, their invention is generally credited to computer scientist Scott Fahlman who proposed it on a message board at Carnegie Mellon University in 1982, though there is an earlier antecedent of the use of typographical symbols to show facial expressions in 1881 in the pages of Puck magazine, which is basically the American version of the British Punch magazine. More recently in online communication the emoticon is often being crowded out by the use of emoji, actual graphical pictures, to convey facial expressions and emotions, though of course there are pictures of far more than just faces available in emoji. The word emoji, by the way, only coincidentally resembles the word emotion, in fact coming from the Japanese elements e “picture” plus moji “character”. The instantly recognizable yellow smiley face used in emoji was originally designed by American commercial artist Harvey Ball for State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts in 1963 in an attempt to raise employee morale by giving them smiley pins to encourage them to smile more.

And this attempt to influence emotions via facial expressions, odd as it may sound, might actually have some basis in science. The role of smiling, and other facial gestures, has been studied for a long time, at least as far back as the Greek philosopher Aristotle, and it became a particular focus of scientific study from Darwin onwards. Typically words for face, at least in Indo-European languages, come from words meaning to see, such the usual French word visage like our English word visage, which can be traced back to Latin videre and the Proto-Indo-European root *weid- both meaning “to see”. Old English had its own native word andwlita “face, countenance” from the verb wlitan “to see, look”. But the word face comes from a different semantic source, coming through Old French from Latin facies “appearance, form, face” from the notion of a form imposed on something, and is related to the verb facere “to make, do”, from the Proto-Indo-European root *dhe- “to set, put”. So faces are both something that is seen but also something that we act on and make. And this is why the connection between facial expressions and emotions is so important and has attracted so much speculation and research.

One of Charles Darwin’s lesser known works is The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, which he intended as support for his theory of evolution. He wanted to show that the expressions of emotion had biological origins, and therefore tried to demonstrate their universality, both across human communities and across species. He also argued that facial expression had evolved complexity with faces becoming increasingly mobile as one moves up the phylogenetic ladder, with primates having a greater range of expressions than other animals.

So the basic assumption was that faces display emotions, and both facial expressions and the basic emotions they expressed were therefore in some sense universal. Scientists since Darwin have demonstrated that this is at least partially true, identifying some six or so basic emotional categories in nearly all cultures around the world: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and possibly surprise and contempt, depending on who you ask. Even babies born blind are able to make at least some recognizable facial expressions, without the capacity to have learned and mimicked them. Nevertheless, the rules of how and when we use facial expressions of emotion differ from culture to culture, and are learned and dependent on context, for instance when it is acceptable to show grief in public vs in private, what expressions are appropriate in certain occupations such as politician or depending on status or gender. We also can be deceptive in our facial expressions, and can attempt to hide our true feelings, such as faking emotion when making a polite smile to a customer or trying not to hurt a friend’s feelings. The face is also a tool of self-presentation, and we use it to create an image of ourselves in the eyes of others. As well, the face is one of the ways we define our own sense of personal identity. So facial expressions are both an automatic readout of internal emotional states and consciously controlled methods of nonverbal communication serving social functions, so like visage and face, both something that is seen and something we do.

Surprisingly, expressing emotions on our face may also be connected with our ability to perceive emotions in others. There is some evidence that we use the same mechanisms for perception and production of facial expressions. If our ability to produce facial expressions is impaired such as through birth defect or through cosmetic Botox injections which can paralyze some of the muscles in the face, there is some evidence that this can affect our ability to read emotion. For instance one study showed that we are slower at reading emotion-evoking sentences when we can’t make the facial expressions implied by the sentences. However, studies have also shown that people who can’t produce facial expressions are able to judge the expressions of others unimpeded, perhaps using work-arounds, so facial mimicry is useful but not necessary for facial perception.

The other important job of facial expression, as we’ve already seen, is nonverbal communication. In fact the face can even affect our verbal communication, as in the McGurk effect in which we see a visual input from a face producing one particular sound, while hearing an audio input from a voice producing a different sound, and actually perceive a third sound which is neither the sound we hear nor the sound we see. In fact researchers have found that face perception is second in importance to speech in terms of communicative information. The face also plays an important role in interaction management, and can even be used as a kind of visible punctuation. It can open and close channels of verbal communication, complement or qualify speech, and even replace speech. For instance, in a conversation an open mouth can indicate that we wish to take our turn in the interaction, and a smile can indicate a number of different things, eg. that we wish to engage in an interaction, or a smile of appeasement can end an interaction, and although we typically think of smiles as indicating happiness, they can instead function in a conversation as a listener response or back-channeling, indicating attentiveness or agreement, regardless of the emotion content of the conversation. Similarly a facial expression may qualify something verbally communicated, such as making a sad face to emphasize a sad statement or smiling to temper a statement that could otherwise be taken as negative. And finally we can use facial expressions as emblems which replace spoken messages.

Emblems are gestures and expressions that replace or modify words, like making the okay sign or the peace sign with your hand, or like a police officer’s badge or a medical cross, and even superhero emblems like Superman’s S and Batman’s bat are communicative emblems. The smiley emblem is used ironically in the Watchmen comic books with a drop of blood running from the forehead. Facial emblems include lowering our jaw to indicate we find a speaker’s statement is surprising, or the widening of our eyes as a nonverbal “wow!” We can make a smile to indicate that what we just said is not to be taken seriously, and a returned smile shows you got the message. The fact that we can’t communicate through these facial expressive means in social media interactions can often cause a lot of trouble, which is the reason behind all those emoticons and emoji we looked at earlier. They’re a replacement for the important expressions we make with our faces.

Getting back to the role of facial expressions in emotions, there have been some who have suggested that not only is the face not a simple readout of emotional experience but it may actually determine emotions, and idea now known as the facial feedback hypothesis. The notion goes at least as far back as the 18th century philosopher and playwright Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who suggested that if an actor has properly imitated the external signs of an emotion the resulting sense impressions will induce those emotions in the actor. Darwin too picks up on this notion stating that if one freely expresses the outward signs of an emotion it will become intensified, but if one represses the outward signs the emotion will be softened. But it was the American philosopher and psychologist William James who took this to the furthest extremes. James had already developed a theory of emotion in which physiological responses are the emotions. As James famously explained, it is not that we see a bear, fear it, and run; we see a bear and run; consequently, we fear the bear. It’s our mind’s perception of our physiological responses like a spike in adrenaline and a racing heart that is the emotion. So James believed that if we wanted to terminate an emotion all we had to do was produce the outward expression of its opposite. Maybe you really can turn that frown upside down! Of course these sorts of effects have been studied, argued over, and tested ever since, including studies with Botox injections which suggest that removing the ability to frown might be an effective treatment for depression. It has also been shown that people who suffer from depression will, when shown humorous video clips, actively try to suppress their smiles.

As a side note on William James, by the way, he also coined the word multiverse, though he used it in a different way than we do now, as an alternative to universe in which there is no single order or ruling power. The idea of a multiverse in the modern sense is an integral part of the comic book world, with both DC and Marvel having their own complex multiverses that contain many different realities. The idea was first introduced all the way back in the 1961 Flash storyline “Flash of Two Worlds!”, in which the new rebooted version of the Flash encounters the original 1940s version of the Flash. And as a final comic book coincidence, William James was very influential as a university professor on his student Learned Hand (yes that’s his actual name, and his cousin was named August Noble Hand), who would later go on to be the judge in the legal case of DC against Fawcett Publications over the original Captain Marvel.

But since we’ve been talking about smiling and frowning, it’s worth taking a quick final look at their etymologies and what they really mean, and because they’re part of those categories of universal facial expressions indicating basic emotions. But are they though? Pause for a moment and answer this question: what part of your face do you use to frown? If you’re British, you probably said the eyebrows, contracting them in either displeasure or deep thought. But if you’re North American you may have said the mouth. Remember a moment ago I said “turn that frown upside down”? That’s what that means, it’s when you pull the corners of your mouth down in a curve that’s the opposite of the curve of a smile. Consider the emoticon or emoji frowny faces. Funny thing is, both those answers are wrong! At least, etymologically speaking, it should be the nose. The word frown comes from Old French frognier “to frown or scowl, snort, turn up one’s nose”, from a Gaulish word *frogna “nostril”, which probably comes through the Proto-Celtic root *srogna, ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *srenk- “to snore”. See if that changes your mood!

As for the smile, well as we’ve already seen there are different kinds of smiles, and they don’t always mean the same thing. French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne studied facial expressions and emotions, and used electrical charges to stimulate the muscles of the face, and thereby reproduce various expressions. In doing so, he found that genuine smiles require not only the muscles that raise the corner of the mouth but also the muscles that raise the raise the cheek and produce crows feet around the eyes. This kind of smile incorporating the eyes has become known as the Duchenne smile, whereas fake smiles are sometimes referred to as the Pan Am smile, because of the polite smiles flashed by Pan Am flight attendants, or the Botox smile, because Botox injections are used to reduce wrinkles around the eyes, thus inhibiting Duchenne smiles. And indeed the different types and uses of smiles are important. It’s often been noted that women smile more often than men, at least in Western society, and it’s been suggested that this may be a result of the larger phenomenon of dominance-status, with people with lower status needing to make polite smiles or smiles of appeasement for social communicative purposes. Many women know all too well the experience of being told repeatedly to smile more by men around them, from strangers in the street to well-meaning bosses! The word smile comes from the Germanic branch of languages, probably through a Scandinavian loanword, displacing the Old English word smearcian which became Modern English smirk, developing the more specific negative connotation of “smiling smugly or maliciously”. Both words are related, however, coming from the Proto-Indo-European root *(s)mei- “to laugh, smile”. Interestingly, this word seems to be what’s called an s-mobile root, that is to say that *s- at the beginning seems to come and go unpredictably, and we don’t know why this feature exists in Proto-Indo-European. The s-mobile always appears at the beginning of roots in certain specific consonant clusters, like *sp-, *st-, *sn-, and as in this case *sm-. As these roots pass into the various Indo-European languages that initial *s- is sometimes dropped, but with no apparent pattern. So for instance, *(s)mei- comes into Old Irish as míad which means “honour, dignity, rank, status”, relevant to that status-related smiling. This root comes into Latin without the initial *s- too, though in that case the *s- would have disappeared anyway, as *s- regularly did before resonant consonants like *m-, *n-, and *l- in Latin. But that’s why Proto-Indo-European *(s)mei- became Latin mirus “wonderful, amazing”, which, as we’ve already seen, eventually gave us the English word marvel. Just don’t try telling Captain Marvel to smile more!

Thanks for watching! There is so much to say about the history of comics and superheros that I wasn’t able to fit everything into this video; so I’m working on a future video more focussed on superheroes themselves, which will fill in some of what I’ve had to leave out here. If you’ve enjoyed these etymological explorations and cultural connections, please subscribe, & click the little bell to be notified of every new episode. And check out our Patreon, where you can make a contribution to help me make more videos. I’m @Alliterative on Twitter, and you can visit our website alliterative.net for more language and connections in our podcast, blog, and more!