Archive for March, 2011

Jep’s shirts

I am super excited about the gift I got for my friend Jep to thank him for picking up my Threadless package while I’m on vacation in the SC. I feel fairly confident that I won’t spoil the surprise, as he does not read the Bible Comix nearly as often as he should. (it will change your life, in a good way)

I found the shirts below at a local institution, Barefoot Bubba’s. They are all sleeveless, though only one is what is typically known as a “wife beater.” They had been on display on a rack with direct exposure to the sun, and many of the shirts had a faded spot where the shoulder hit the hangar. As such, they were available for a substantial discount.

Behold:

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Star spangled banner

I have a pretty awesome story to tell about today’s adventures, but not before I relate a much more benign tale of yesterday’s semi adventures.

Yesterday morning, as JT and lay in bed reading, we got to talking about going to Ft Sumter and I started toning about the meaning of the “Star Spangled Banner” in a manner evocative of Mr. Asimov’s dissertation on the song. I then thought to check Wikipedia and soon realized that Francis Scott Key wrote his poem at Ft McHenry during the War of 1812. This is a mistake I have made since I was a young boy. Hopefully, this incident has disabused me of it forever.

We went to Charleston and did make it to the Ft. It was, as miss Cyrus would say, pretty cool. The interpretive information was pretty accurate and even handed, presenting a good picture of the issues that led to the Civil War. However, by far the most enlightening element was that the narrator on the half hour boat trip out was the same guy who tells you to keep your arms and hands inside the car on the monorail at Disney. I felt a true taste of what Disney’s proposed history park would have been like. Seriously, that link is awesome. It incorporates many of the ideas I’ve come up with independently over the years.

The Fort was pretty neat, but it was no Ft. McHenry.

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Notions

This heathens back to a simpler time when notions were a commodity. I wonder if you just went up to the counter and said, “I’m stuck on this new short story I’m writing. Can you give me an idea? A notion, if you will?” taken in Charleston.

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A joke I wrote

What differentiates a hermaphroditic deer?

Doe nuts

More misplaced quotation marks

Kinda small, but…

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Reminds me of a party sign

From college. I spotted the painting below outside A.T. Hun gallery in Savannah. Inside, there were oodles of paintings based on The Big Lebowski, with titles like “Mark it zero,” “new sh*t has come to light,” “Walter, uh, that’s like, your opinion, man.”

JT actually spotted Beavis and Butthead, so shout out to him.

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Ender’s Game

I finally finished Ender’s Game, but not before packing it away on vacation, ensuring a hefty library fine.  I think it was worth it.  I really really liked the book.  The family dynamic with the Goldilocks and the Three Bears structure (this porridge is too violent, this porridge is to gentle, this porridge has just the right level of aggression) amused me and I appreciated the use of symmetry to enhance that relationship. While there’s no Benji, it did quite remind me of the dynamic between Quentin, Jason, and Caddy Compson from Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

I’ve always wondered that, if one wants to create a character who is a genius, need that person be a genius him or herself?  I often have these thoughts when watching House, M.D. I think Card does a great job recreating the thought process of a child genius.  Here, I’m reminded of Franny and Zooey.

While putting EG into the context of great literature that preceded it, I’m also struck by JK Rowling’s clear homage to EG in the Room of Requirement where Dumbledore’s Army practices.  Card famously couched the story of Harry Potter as a retelling of EG, which, while he was out to make a point, kind of diminishes the vast number of influences on which Rowling drew to bring Harry to life.  Take a look at that link!

I don’t think EG is the perfect sci-fi novel, though I liked it better than the first Foundation novel.  My main criticism of EG is that a large portion of it is told as montage (where as my main criticism of Foundation is that it is so episodic and there is very little connecting the various stories. There has to be a happy medium.)  I also thought the twist toward the end with respect to the Command School was a bit pat.  I saw it coming a mile away and I’m not sure how you reconcile the scheduled nature of the battles with the buggers with the unpredictable fog of war.  You could say that the buggers kept retreating and would never attack forge an attack on their own, but doesn’t seem realistic.  In addition, the regimented nature of the battles also detracted from the verisimilitude of the ending.  They felt more like Revolutionary War battles, where armies lined up on either side of the field of battle and fired volleys at one another, than space warfare.

I did really adore the ending, though, especially the bit about how Ender’s writing became the text for a new religion in the colonies.  I am definitely looking forward to reading the sequel.

The trouble with The Trouble with Katie Rogers

Ender’s Game review is forthcoming.

The Trouble with Katie Rogers is, on it’s face, fairly charming.  Imagine if Sex in the City were a Disney Princess cartoon.  The women all have big, doe-eyes and suitably scanty clothes, though no naughty parts are ever revealed :(.  The masculinity of the man is delineated by the darkness of his five o’clock shadow.  The backgrounds were of some interest to me, as they appear to be taken from photographs and put through a Photoshop filter of some sort.  I spent as much time studying the backgrounds as I did trying to find the naughty parts.

The story has comic book potential, but it never reaches that bar.  Here’s the sitch, as Kim Possible would put it: An Aussie debutante is a NYC publicist.  Her new client’s star making movie is about to come out and a story is leaked to the press that he used to be a male escort.  As the story unfolds, we learn that he used to be in the employ of a limousine service, where he serviced women in the backseat, a clientele including names like Paris and Britney.  The smarmy limousine service owner installed cameras in the back and has plans to ruin the dudes career.  Somewhere along the way, the story ran badly off the rails.  Can you spot it?

You are correct.  He was a male escort who serviced women.  I automatically assumed that he had been a gay escort when I read about the tabloid stories.  If he was a heterosexual escort, especially one who slept with famous women, I don’t really see the problem.  Even taking away the famous women detail, I’m still not sure there would be any kind of problem.  That’s the main problem with this graphic novel.  It’s about the cutthroat, amoral abyss of being a publicist for some pretty immoral people, but it refuses to be cuttroat or amoral itself.

Katie Rogers’ archnemesis, Crystal Rose, once Katie’s best friend, inexplicably became the enemy when CR slept with Katie’s boyfriend.  In light of this, it makes no sense that Crystal Rose would want to continue to wreak havoc in Katie’s life, but she is the one behind the leak.

The story descends even further into unbelievability (even for comic books) when Katie concocts a plan to break into the Limousine owner’s office to break into his computer to delete the mpegs and steal all extant hard copies, as if somehow anything is permanently erased these days.

If you care to see incredibly short skirts on Disney Princesses, but don’t have the fortitude to search for hentai, I recommend TTwKR.  If you like exciting stories that don’t stretch the bounds of credibility, I recommend a superhero comic.

Please watch the trailer below and pay attention to the focus on the naughty parts.

The orgy of traditional media consumption begins

Yesterday was a day of travel, through the mountains of eastern Tennessee and South Carolina to Fripp Island, SC.  We arrived late last night. We are spending JT’s spring break in a condo on the beach.

Already the orgy of traditional media consumption has begun, as I finished Ender’s Game this morning, and have made not insubstantial headway into The Trouble with Katie Rogers.  I will be reviewing each as the day progresses.  I have tons of thoughts on EG, but they are still percolating into something lucid.

I also brought Terry Pratchett’s Nation.  That will be my first foray into Mr. Pratchett’s oeuvre.  I also may have to crack out the Kindle app on the old iPhone.

People say I'm a dork. Juvenile.

End Days

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There’s so much about End Days that I should have hated. The main character is a Jewish asperger’s kid who wears an Elvis style sequined jumpsuit. He’s like an awkward Erkel. There’s a goth chick, her dad who survived the 9/11 attacks on the WTC (I mean, when you think about it, aren’t we all now survivors?), and her mom who recently converted to born again Christianity, young earth creationism, and rapture “theology.” mix with ice, stir.

It’s a formula, but it bloody works.

It’s full of profound moments as the goth chick smokes her weed and has visions of Sthephen Hawking while her mother goofs on wacky Christianity and has visions of Christ. Nelson Steinberg sums up my thoughts about the Left Behind series pithily: “It wouldn’t be heaven for me if Rachel (the goth chick) wasn’t there.”

We’re also reminded, correctly, that to try to predict the rapture is to tempt God and it should be enough to know Jesus will return soon. SOON!

Nelson’s unflagging optimism and wonder, which I unreservedly share, (Did I once make fun of two old biddies for being enchanted by a Swiss cow wearing a bell? That couldn’t have been me.) have a redemptive effect and when Rachel kisses him after he muses on the wonders of the universe it is so satisfying albeit a tad bit perfect worldish, a bit of artifice. When he disappears briefly toward the end of the play, it’s easy to assume he has been raptured, even though he espouses the belief that now is a wonderful time to be alive and we don’t need the promise of Jesus’ return to bear life. If I didn’t believe it going in, I might have been convinced.

This particular staging shines even brighter due to the talented cast. Obviously, Richard Lowenburg is a revelation (pun intended) as Nelson Steinberg. The guy who plays the dad also strongly reminded me of the dad on Seventh Heaven, which, intended or not, adds another layer to the production.

The play was extended, so go, already.