Might as well just drop the testicles into a vice and start spinning the gears. It certainly presents a less painful alternative to releasing a sophomore follow-up to a mega-successful debut. Call it the “sophomore jinx,” or call it “the hot, blistering envy of your critics,” but second albums carry a far higher degree of difficulty than any other album in a band’s career. The bottom of rock and roll’s dark, abandoned well is littered with the bones of bands who frittered their careers away chasing the success of a massive debut. If the second album tanks, the band’s legacy is reduced to a trivia question under the “One Hit Wonders” category; but if the band pulls off a compelling, groundbreaking follow-up, then someday they might just have a date in Cleveland.

The Joss Whedon-directed The Avengers makes its nationwide U.S. debut May 4th, uniting the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in the first of the summer blockbusters. Early word is it’s not half bad. And because I know there are fans out there with their Fandango-printout tickets of midnight showings in their fists and their knitted Captain America suits ready to step into, I have compiled ten Avengers-related links to help pass the time in these final few days. Stay strong, friends!

I used to write. I used to write a lot. I wrote about everything that happened to me, the daily minutiae, the ups and downs and highs and lows. Hundreds of people tuned in when I posted online to hear about my sex life, my love life, my boozy escapades and narrow escapes, my darkness and light. And then one day I stopped. I got happy and distracted. I became enmeshed in a loving relationship and kept my stories safe and secret. I got caught up in caring for someone and making a home. I put writing aside. I stopped sharing the ups and downs. I held my cards close to my chest and even, over time, grew to distaste the idea of writing about my life. I became grossed out at all the TMI-ness of it all. The very thought of writing something personal provoked a Pavlovian gagging in my throat.