Sunday, December 04, 2016

Reading the Newbery Winners: The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle

Oh, this was fun, and took me back. By the time I became a voracious reader in the early '70s, the Doctor Doolittle books had fallen out of favor and quietly gone out of print. I didn't know that at the time, however, and my school library still had many of them, which I enjoyed reading at the time. So I was eagerly looking forward to the second Newbery winner, The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle. However, since that is actually the second book in the series, I decided to also read the first book, The Story of Doctor Doolittle as well. Fortunately, my local library system has the very nice (and ever so slightly edited to keep up with the times) editions of both books published by Books of Wonder with afterwords by my friend Peter Glassman. (Sadly, these editions seem to now be out of print as well.)

So, first off, a quick look at The Story of Doctor Doolittle: It does a terrific job of establishing the Doctor and his world, and how he came to change from a doctor for humans to a doctor for animals who could actually talk to them and find out what was wrong with them rather than poke and prod and guess like your standard veterinarian. And of course we find out how he learned to talk to animals in the first place, thanks to one of the best characters in the series, the long-lived and very experienced parrot Polynesia. Doolittle gains fame in the animal world by curing a disease among the monkeys of Africa, after running afoul of the king of Jolliginki, but it is Prince Bumpo who helps the Doctor get back to England after Doctor Doolittle helps Bumpo achieve one of his fondest wishes. (Those familiar with the original version of the book can probably understand why this is probably the biggest change made in the Books of Wonder edition. Fortunately, it includes a thorough foreword that explains the original and why the changes were made.) It was a surprisingly quick read, and does a good job of building this world and developing the Doctor's character.

Now the main attraction: The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle. Much to my surprise, this was not a slight little book, but a much larger volume, over twice as long, and divided into six parts! It still proved to be a quick read, however, as this is a rollicking series of adventures. We get to see a lot more of Doctor Doolittle's life in Puddleby through the eyes of a new character, Tommy Stubbins, the cobbler's son. Tommy is the narrator for this book (and much of the rest of the series, if I recall correctly), and that new, up-close perspective really opens the story up. Stubbins (as the Doctor calls him, making him feel very grown up) becomes Doolittle's assistant and pupil, and also learns to talk to the animals. Through Stubbins' eyes we learn more about the Doctor's house, how so many animals can live there, and how the Doctor and his friends go about their lives. Much of the first third of the book takes place in Puddleby, but before long they decide to go on a voyage, in part to investigate the disappearance of another famed naturalist, Long Arrow. But first, they need a crew for their new ship—which leads to trouble when they try to recruit Luke the Hermit. It turns out that Luke is a fugitive from the Mexican law (hence his becoming a hermit) whose past has caught up with him. The trial proves to be one of the biggest events in Puddleby's history, but thanks to Doctor Doolittle being able to interpret for Luke's dog, Luke is found not guilty and is then reunited with his wife. Since Luke isn't available anymore, the Doctor's old friend Bumpo makes a timely visit during a break from his studies at Oxford and is then recruited instead. Bumpo, Stubbins, and several of the animals prove to be an able crew. After putting a stop to the bullfights in some Spanish islands along the way and many adventures at sea, the crew eventually makes its way to Spidermonkey Island, save Long Arrow, brings about peace between the two warring factions, and anchors the island after it drifts too far south (yes, Spidermonkey Island is—well, was, now—a floating island). So of course he is made King of the island, which is exactly what a humble man like Dr. John Doolittle doesn't want. Nevertheless, he is a kind and extremely proactive king, and makes Spidermonkey Island a very nice place to live. His friends all realize that unless they take action, he will never leave, so they conspire to give him a way to get back to Puddleby, which he eventually takes, albeit reluctantly.

Yes, this book was a lot of fun, and to be honest, the doctor is much too humble! He is a good doctor, but also a brilliant and clever naturalist and linguist, and a kind and compassionate soul. He doggedly tries to learn the shellfish language throughout the book, and brilliantly succeeds in the end. And to be honest, I now can't recall if I ever read this book before! I remembered bits and pieces as I read, but I think a lot of that came from the musical film. Many of the incidents that weren't in the movie I don't remember at all. But it has also been at least forty years since I read any of the books, so I may just have forgotten. But I have really enjoyed reading about Doctor Doolittle again, and I may very well see if interlibrary loan or cheap used books can help me read the rest of the series, just for fun.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hallowe'en as posted to Facebook

5:13 p.m. Four kids so far, including two ninjas, a baseball fan and a very cute Batman. It's not yet dark.

5:23 p.m. More kids in drips and drabs... It's still not quite dark, but it's getting busy already.

5:31 p.m. Two incredibly cute little pirates... complete with face makeup. (The little girl was very shy)

5:34 p.m. Lots of superheroes so far.

5:49 p.m. Lots of kids now, traffic jams on the front walk.

5:51 p.m. Tons of Batmans. Batmen. Batguys. And Batgirls. And Supergirls, but no Supermen.

5:57 p.m. At least 30 kids so far. I lost count at a dozen. I suspect it's been more like 50.

5:58 p.m. It's just now getting to be full dark.

6:02 p.m. Finally a Superman! And about 20 other kids.

6:07 p.m. And now we've had a run of Supermen...

6:09 p.m. I just tried to capture a Pikachu on my phone... only I don't play Pokemon Go... (we had at least three kids dressed as Pikachu, but no other Pokemon that I recognized).

6:15 p.m. A family dressed as the Incredibles... and a young man without a costume who I convinced had to be a teacher on his day off. I also gave him a bag, since he didn't have one.

6:20 p.m. Starting to open more bags. We had a large bucket of candy to start the night.

6:29 p.m. They are coming in runs. One group approaches the door, then a bunch of others see them and say - oh, that house is open! and run over and join.

6:31 p.m. People are thanking me for the map of the neighborhood I put out under the house light near the garage. (one girl said she was so glad to see it because she was lost)

6:36 p.m. Got our first Olaf. I asked if he likes warm hugs. He looked terrified.

6:43 p.m. Finally! A Flash! His dad was dressed as Green Arrow, so I gave him two pieces and told him to share.

6:45 p.m. I just asked a group of zombies if they wanted brains or chocolate. They said brains. I said, no brains in this house, they have to take chocolate. I should have thought that one through first.

7:00 p.m. A few clowns. One was really good, so Eric and I both screamed loudly. I just had to frantically open a bunch more bags of candy.

7:05 p.m. Standard response to a mask - "Hey, next time wear a costume! Even if it's just a mask!" (sometimes the kids lift their mask and say, "Look, here's my real face!")

Aside: A girl came up dressed as Anna from Frozen and Eric said, "let me guess, Anna?" She smiled and nodded and Eric turned to the girl next to her, dressed as Elsa, and said, "You must be Olaf!" The hurt look on that girl's face was amazing - though she quickly figured out he was joking.

7:09 p.m. It's been busy, but not as bad as some years. The rain is still holding off. Lots of people in the neighborhood.

7:14 p.m. Lots of very little kids dressed as Scooby-Doo. I offer them "Scooby Snacks" and they always look to see what I put in their bags. (as a kid I always wanted to know what was in Scooby Snacks, so I feel for the kids).

7:15 p.m. A bunch of teenagers without costumes just read my sign that says "costumes are required for candy" and left.

7:15 p.m. We've given out candy to "little brother who was too scared to come" at least four times. (Why is it always a little brother? And what is the likelihood we're getting "scammed" by these kids?)

7:21 p.m. One little girl just said "Truck or Cheese!" Eric said, "I'll go get the cheese!" as the girl's parents laughed.

7:24 p.m. Eric just terrified some little kids by opening the door and saying "WHAT?"

7:27 p.m. I just gave a candy bar to a grandma who doesn't speak a word of English. (She was with a group of children who were helping her along. She looked delighted.)

7:29 p.m. We've had a few hundred kids tonight. It's been pretty slow.

7:34 p.m. Cars going very slowly through the neighborhood with their blinkers on, following the kids. Sigh. I wish more parents got out and walked with their children. As it is, there's a massive traffic jam out there.

7:41 p.m. A surprising number of clowns, all things considered. (Two or three Harley Quinns, but the rest were fairly traditional clowns. Considering the clown scare I wasn't really expecting any. In addition to multiple Harleys, there was a single "Suicide Squad" Joker. Eric warned him about all the Batmen out and about.)

7:53 p.m. Wow. It's really slowed down. There's been nobody for almost ten minutes! That's unheard of! It's not even 8 pm yet!

7:59 p.m. A kid with a Superman costume on with a Clark Kent shirt and glasses. Very cute. He was just older than toddler.

8:01 p.m. Both Eric and I have eaten pieces of candy. THAT's how slow it is.

8:12 p.m. Best costumes of the night included a gumball machine walking around with a quarter. There was also a jelly donut. Lots of face makeup, which at least took *some* effort. (actually, there were some amazing skeleton face designs. Some kids borrow from Day of the Dead celebration traditions and the result is gorgeous).

8:15 p.m. I have not seen any political costumes at all. This makes me happy.

8:24 p.m. In addition to candy, we have a supply of shopping bags that we give to kids that don't have one. I would love to buy a bunch of pillowcases to give out... Let's face it, if I were rich, the kids who visited my house on Halloween would get a ton of stuff.

8:44 p.m. It appears that most of our neighbors have turned off their lights. Only a few cars left in the neighborhood... things are stopping for the night, it appears. I guess it's about time to let the sulky cat out of the bedroom and close down for the night... Another Hallowe'en gone. *sigh*

We released Inkwell from the bedroom and allowed him to sniff around the house. He wasn't as sulky and upset as I expected him to be. Perhaps listening to the visitors made him understand why we locked him up? He wasn't in the window most of the night, but he did get up there eventually to watch the crowds.

8:57 p.m. A quick count of unopened bags of candy (!!) leads me to believe we had about 700 kids tonight. That's probably the smallest number since we moved in.

9:22 p.m. Four last teenagers... I hope they are the last... one wasn't wearing a costume, but had a quick reply when I asked what he was dressed as: "An undercover spy!" They all got a handful of candy.

9:46 p.m. A couple of very small bugs flew into the house during times we had the door open. Inkwell is now hunting them, delighted by this gift his humans have provided.

9:56 p.m. Lights are out, but doorbell rang. Two teenagers - dressed up, but I notified them that once the outside lights are off, they shouldn't approach a house. They turned to leave and I said, "Hey, get your candy first! Just remember my rule for next time."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I can't move...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Inkwell on My Legs

The weather is getting cooler, and so he's seeking out the warm spots in the house to sit. And apparently my lap is the best spot. I managed to convince him to sit on my ankles instead, and I can use the laptop while he's relaxed and warm...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Reflecting on the Past

The recent political revelation has led to a lot of attention on the issue of sexual assault. There is a NPR story about a tweet that launched a million women remembering the first time they were assaulted.

I cannot remember the first time. I remember a number of times, mostly petty and small, where a boy rubbed up against me or put his hand where it wasn't wanted. Most events happened when I was in grade school, mostly guys that literally didn't know any better. I didn't either. It wasn't until I was in college that sexual harassment became something people talked about - and it took people awhile to figure out what was normal and what was actually something that could be considered actionable.

David Gerrold has a disturbing Facebook post about learning that virtually all women have a story about unwanted contact.

I've been having nightmares the last few days, remembering things I'd worked hard to forget. I've never been raped. In fact, until recently I would have said the things done to me weren't enough to worry about. But if that's the case, why am I having constant nightmares about them every time I try to fall asleep?

I don't blame the boys. I blame our society. I blame every person who thinks that sort of rhetoric is acceptable "locker room talk". It isn't. It's discussion of sexual assault. Whether or not the "men" who talk that way act on those words, they are enabling rape and assault by allowing that talk and claiming it's normal. And, frankly, if you are inclined to defend those words, I don't want to know you. I don't want to hear from you. I don't want anything to do with you. As a society, we know better now. We are better.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Jun 15th
  • Justice League #51 - I love the bit early in the book where there's a rain of fish and Aquaman says "Don't look at me!" while Batman points out it's Fortean. Lovely. Hits two of my fandoms at once. Other than that, this issue was about Robin fitting into the League and learning he can contribute to even a group like that. Fun little story.
  • Green Lanterns #1 - More bickering, more pettiness, and Simon learning he has some extra abilities. Not horrible, but not my favorite.
  • Titans Rebirth #1 - Wally reintroduces himself to the Titans. I like the concept, that not only was Wally taken away, but whole portions of their lives. Aqualad/Garth spent time on the surface world that he simply completely forgot. Perhaps his entire time with Aquaman, gone. That's something worth trying to work out.
  • Astro City #36 - Wow. Powerful ending to the tale of great drama. The legacies of multiple lines of heroes and villains meet and find out the truth. But I wasn't expecting her to act like that when she learned what really happened. A bit depressing, but wow. Powerful story, all together.
  • Scooby Apocalypse #2 - This is definitely not the Scooby I watched as a kid. Lovely stuff, goofy and fun. A total reimagining with the whole zombie apocalypse theme going. I don't know whether to give it the raspberry or cheer it on, so I'll cheer it on. It's horrible and great at the same time.
  • Spongebob Comics Annual Giant Swimtacular #4 - Baby Mermaid Man and Hippie Mermaid Man alone are enough to make this one a fun read. Especially since Hippie Mermaid Man was drawn by Neal Adams.
  • Doctor Who 10th #2.11 - A companion falls in love in the wrong time, and music fills the air. No, really, music fills the air. It's a baddie we've already seen in this series, and it's back and causing lots of trouble for everyone. Fun issue.
  • Back To The Future: Citizen Brown #2 - Messing around in the timelines means times are a-changing... and Marty once again screws up the future. This is a pretty good mini-series, based on a video game - so the twists and turns are probably choices in the game. But keeping yourself in existence seems like a challenge when the past gets this bumpy.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Free Comic Book Day
  • Doctor Who - Four short stories, featuring the ninth through twelfth Doctors. Each one is a solid little stand-alone, although for the tenth and eleventh stories some knowledge of the comic would help to understand, since they use companions introduced in the comic. Otherwise, a good little package.
  • Dark Horse FCBD 2016 - The Serenity story is a bit on the sad side, with River telling a bedtime story. The Hellboy story was typically dark with a hint of silly. The Aliens tale was ok. Overall, a decent book for Free Comic Book Day.
  • SpongeBob Freestyle Funnies 2016 - The usual - if you enjoy SpongeBob, you'll enjoy this. The Mermaid Man story was at the usual level of humor, but the Ramona Fradon artwork was spectacular and made it very readable.
  • Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2016 - The usual Simpsons humor. I thought the dentist story was slightly better than the superhero one, but they weren't anything spectacular.
  • DC Superhero Girls - A cute intro to a cute version of the DC Universe. And that's about all I really have to say about it.
  • Jun 1st
  • Green Lanterns Rebirth #1 - Two complete rookie Lanterns who immediately don't like each other being forced to work together by Hal Jordan. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, and here come the Red Lanterns. Lovely. This is a promising start, but I'm not really sure about it yet.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #14 - Yeah, now THIS is more like it. The entire first half of the book is devoted to what happened to Mera after the battle. Fished out of the ocean by an Irish cutie... I almost envy her. The rest of the book is devoted to some of the magic users in this universe, and it's a bit grim and disturbing on several levels. I, obviously, love the Mera bits of this book more than any other, so this issue gets high marks from me.
  • Batman Beyond #13 - Well now, Rewire isn't who I expected him to be and this isn't going to play out in a pleasant way, I'm sure. Of course, this has to have something to do with time travel, but what exactly happened to make this a reality is a big question I hope gets answered.
  • Teen Titans Go #16 - A mixed-up body story followed by a jaunt in the Batmobile. Funny. I tend to think of this book as what the Titans are like with no inhibitions - basically if they were drunk all the time. It *almost* makes sense that way.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #11 - So, the future's not what it used to be. And this book just gets more complicated at every turn. I'm not entirely sure I'm enjoying the twists. I want to like it, but I'm finding it hard to track all the differences, even with the helpful recaps at the beginning of each issue.
  • Doctor Who 4th #3 - Oh, poor Sarah Jane. This is a story that probably couldn't have been done justice on the TV screen, but it is fantastic here in the comic. I'm really liking it, and the new characters.
  • Legends of Oz Tik-Tok And Kalidah #2 - An exiled Kalidah? That explains a few things about this pair. But the trouble they are carrying is pretty intense. The cliffhanger leaves them in a very bad spot (between a door and a raging mob?).
  • Rough Riders #3 - The team goes into action and... well, spoilers, but I think one of them is in pretty bad shape. The rest? Who knows. I like the idea of using historical figures this way, giving them tall tales to share. It reminds me of Young Indiana Jones. It's hard to see what might be coming up next, but I'm sure it's going to be trouble.
  • Jun 8th
  • Aquaman: Rebirth #1 - Well, here we go. New Aquaman? Hardly. It's Aquaman fighting terrorists off the coast of Boston. Pretty tame and normal stuff. Beautiful artwork, nice set up for a Manta story, but not much else. Good, not great.
  • Green Lantern Corps: The Edge of Oblivion #6 - The corps goes through a crack in the universe and vanishes. Again. I'm just not sure what is happening here or why I should care.
  • Earth 2 Society #13 - The Amazons reveal themselves and add a new layer of terror to the world, while a hidden threat prepares to attack. The new layer of terror is yet another ancient artifact that can change everything. I don't know where this book is going, but it raises some interesting philosophical questions about superpowers and how such things ought to be used in extreme cases.
  • Adventures of Supergirl #3 - I never saw the first two issues of this book solicited, so we join the action in progress as Supergirl gets trapped in a series of dreams. It's ok, but I would have liked the first couple of issues so I didn't jump in late.
  • Doctor Who 11th #2.10 - Pretty intense, with Alice taking the Doctor's bait and going back to the Time War (it's a little like the Seventh Doctor destroying Ace's faith in order to save the world in The Curse of Fenric). I wasn't expecting him to be upset at Daak not going with her, but there it was. And the Squire, one of the best new characters in ages - um, I'll gloss over that final splash page for a moment and just say this was one intense issue.
  • Spongebob Comics #57 - A "Noir" issue, all in Black and White and Yellow. Some fun stuff, including a tale of Mermaid Man's lost cape. Amusing, as usual.
  • Xena Warrior Princess #3 - And Ares shows up. I'm just not liking this book much anymore. The continuity is a little too convoluted for me, and I still can't quite figure out what's going on.
  • Baker Street Peculiars #4 - The game is won! The children use cunning, intelligence and a little logic to finish the battle in the best way possible, saving the day and then, just for kicks, learning the truth behind Sherlock Holmes. A fun little series. I wonder if we'll get more?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 25th
  • DC Universe Rebirth #1 - Well, finally. I probably could say a lot about this, but honestly... my biggest annoyance about this is that I cannot find my copy of Watchman to reread. I've got no problem with most of it, and I actually like the way it has taken the loss of continuity and given a narrative reason for it. I also have no problem with Jackson's two panels, and I hope to see more of him in future issues of DC books. My biggest Aquaman-related complaint is the fact that Aquaman and Mera aren't married, but that's been an issue for awhile. Overall, a promising end to "New 52" that will hopefully allow for some good stories going forward. Hey, a girl can dream.
  • Justice League #50 - I have been so bored with this storyline from start to finish, all I could think was, "thank goodness this is over". Of course, it's probably not over. There's going to be callbacks and references to it, and Superman's latest death is going to be a big deal. Bleah.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #13 - Lois Lane, Penguin, and the Batgirls. Fun stuff. Nothing super, that's coming in future issues for me, but fun.
  • Batman '66 Meets the Man From UNCLE #6 - And the heroes win! As do the villains! Sort of! Lots of camp in this, but I enjoyed it. Looking forward to seeing Steed and Mrs. Peel team up with the Dynamic Duo.
  • Scooby-Apocalypse #1 - As a fan of Scooby since childhood, I knew this was going to be a difficult book to tolerate - but it wasn't. I was really amused at this twisted version of my favorite detectives. Is it good? Maybe not, but it's really funny and a different take on the gang. I enjoyed it.
  • Back to the Future #8 - Nicely confusing tale, with Marty and Doc heading back to the future yet again. The way of reaching critical speed in this one is very disturbing and I'm not really sure this is going to turn out happily. We'll just have to see.
  • Dirk Gently: A Spoon Too Short #4 - That has to be the funniest bait ever conceived. But then, this is Dirk Gently, who really doesn't think in the same patterns as most people.
  • Doctor Strange #8 - Of course there's something in the cellar that can handle this. Of course. Why not?
  • Doctor Who 9th #2 - A few twists and turns in this one, as the Doctor finds out more about the Slitheen than expected while Rose gets a lesson in politics and revenge. Looking forward to seeing how the hunt turns out!
  • Doctor Who 10th #2.10 - So the TARDIS is sort of breached by something and a companion gets trapped in a bubble dimension within the TARDIS itself. That's kind of spooky. Not as spooky as the ending, though, when we revisit Dorothy Bell and Anubis and things aren't all going as smoothly as they appear to be going on the surface. Not a lot happened in this issue, but it feels like important set up for something.
  • Doctor Who 12th #2.6 - A brand new adventure on a strange human colony! Excellent! And the Doctor steals a bass while chasing a man accused of murder. Lovely! This feels very 12th Doctor to me already, so I think I'll just sit back and enjoy the show.

Monday, September 19, 2016


ARRRR! It's Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Arrrr! Ramen.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Sunday Review

It has been a LONG time since I reviewed any comics. It's actually been awhile since I've read any comics. So I'm going to work on catching up. It might take a few weeks.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 18th
  • Aquaman #52 - And so the series ends. The new 52 ends on issue 52 and there's a mystery left to figure out but no immediate threat. All is well in the Aquaman universe? It definitely felt like a much longer storyline was wrapped up due to scheduling reasons and not story reasons, but I'll live. The art is solid, and I'm hoping we see more of Vicente Cifuentes' work in the future. A little chunky in places, but nicely dynamic overall. Not the most interesting finish of an Aquaman series, but... what can you do when DC insists on another reboot?
  • Titans Hunt #8 - Finally we get to the finish, and we get an issue that doesn't feel like it's been padded out. The team is together at last to fight Mr. Twister and whatever is behind door number two. Only, there's someone missing, according to Twister. That's not nearly as important as the team defeating the bad guy, but once that's done it's time to regroup and decide to become the Titans again. Aqualad/Tempest is drawn oddly in many panels in this book. I feel like nobody has come up with a model sheet for him yet or something. I'm looking forward to the new Titans book, just because I want to see how writers handle Garth, but I'm sad that in the current DCU all that Teen Titans history has been lost.
  • Sinestro #23 - A showdown between the Red Lanterns and the Sinestro Corps really isn't much of anything at all, thanks to foresight and planning. And the final goal of Sinestro finally becomes clear... if it's actually his final goal and not just the step to yet another problem. It's all pretty hard to swallow, but since this is the end of this series, I'm not going to let myself become too disturbed by it. I hope DC doesn't abandon Soranik. She's a decent character despite all the flaws of the books she's been in.
  • Astro City #35 - Wow. This is still one of the best superhero books on the shelves. It's quality from start to finish, filling out more of the Astro City universe while giving us a touching back-story that's also a follow-up. If I had to pick one superhero book to read and only one, I'd be hard-pressed to choose between this and Aquaman.
  • Future Quest #1 - I really had no idea what to expect from this, and honestly, my expectations were fairly low. So imagine my surprise when I got a fun start to what promises to be a fascinating story. It features many characters I'm not terribly familiar with, but they are properly introduced for the most part and hopefully the story won't get so crowded that I need a scorecard. Right now, I'm in. This is a great start and I can recommend folks pick it up and give it a shot.
  • Doctor Who 11th #2.9 - This is a very confusing storyline with companions dropping like flies. But I have a feeling it's getting near the climax and we'll have an explanation soon enough for why the Doctor is acting so strange and wrong. At least, I hope so.
  • Xena Warrior Princess #2 - I'm still very confused by this book, although I'm getting a slightly clearer picture. I gather Gabrielle is having visions. And the pair did some things that they regret because they could be taken the wrong way. So we'll have to see where this goes from here to find out if it's worth continuing to buy, because if the story is only for long-time fans who've watched every episode and read every comic available, it might not be something I'm interested in.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #154 - You never know when a little kindness could save your life. And in Usagi's case, it was literally a little kindness that caused a moment's hesitation. He's one lucky rabbit. This is, as usual, one of the best (if not THE best) comic books out there. And standalone issues like this are simply fantastic. Well worth hunting down and reading.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Listen to me...

...on the Fire & Water podcast #174. Rob and I chat about early Aquaman stories, how I got into Aquaman, and good trade paperbacks to buy from body-surfing US Representatives.

Click now to listen or download.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Inkwell at Androcon

"Mom, I'm scared of all the monkeys downstairs."

"Mom, what does it mean, 'Small mammals are quite flavorful when baked'?"

Please let me play with the red dot now? Please?

I had a very strange dream last night...

I generally don't like posting about dreams, because they are usually really boring to other people. But I'll make an exception, just to record this one for myself. We've had houseguests over for "Androcon" - our Doctor Who club's annual visit to Eric and I here in the middle of nowhere. It's been non-stop watching Doctor Who, movies and funny videos supplemented by tons of food.

As usual, I'm a bit anti-social throughout it all, retreating to my room upstairs during most of the action and just listening to the talking and the videos. Inkwell has been terrified this time, staying upstairs with me, either under my chair or next to it. Although he bit me pretty hard yesterday when I tried to play on my computer when he needed to reassurance and comfort skritches.

On Friday I drank some soda pop and had chocolate and, clearly, managed to exceed my caffeine limit. I ended up with a migraine on Saturday and had to spend a couple of hours with a pillow covering my eyes and Inkwell sniffing me every once in awhile to make sure I was still alive. I slept after the worst of it wore off, then came down and participated in the party a bit in the evening.

I didn't go to sleep until about 1:30 a.m., after making up for lost internet time and playing DC Universe Online for a bit. Then I wandered into a dream that was... I'm not even sure how to describe it.

I existed in the expanse of time when the Earth was being created and populated, and I was assigned the task of creating creatures to be on the North American continent. My requirements, intuitively understood, were that the animals had to be in balance with one another and some of them had to be of use to humans, who were coming later. I was enthusiastic about the task and set about creating fantastic creatures that were going to be just awesome. Humans were going to love my animals when they got to North America.

I can't remember most of my animals, but I remember three of them clearly. One was a kind of turtle with a ridge down the back, a bit like spikes but not so tall. It could, in a pinch, expel flame out its back. It was truly wonderful. I loved it. Another animal I created walked on two legs and was just big enough for a human to ride... think Taun Taun from Star Wars. It was a bit smaller and the head was completely different - I think it was like an alpaca head. I loved it. My third animal was the elephant. Yes. In the dream, I created elephants.

And I took my animals to show them off and - no, no, these won't do at all! We need squirrels! We're going to populate North America with squirrels. I was crestfallen, but since a few of my animals made it I wasn't sad. Until they said the elephants had to go. I argued for my elephants. They are majestic, I said. They can be used as beasts of labor by the humans, I said. They are wonderful. But no, they said North America wouldn't have elephants. Imagine my rage when I found out Africa was getting my beautiful elephants instead! And someone else was claiming they had made my elephants. And some other person stole the idea and used it in Asia. I was so angry!

I woke up in an absolute RAGE that my elephants had been stolen. For almost an hour after I woke up I was in a state of righteous indignation about my elephants being stolen even though I was fully aware that it had only been a dream.

In fact, I'm still a bit annoyed. I think perhaps I managed to get my elephants in North America after all, though, by developing Woolly Mammoths. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Having Fun on Facebook....

After watching a very strange interview on MSNBC last night (I usually watch the last bit of "All In" then Rachel Maddow, and nothing else on that channel) I was amused to find out that Taco Trucks on Every Corner had become a meme overnight. This is my favorite:

I said Eric and I planned to have tacos on Election Day, and someone suggested I create an event for it. So I created Election Day Taco Tuesday. Eric and I tend to follow through when we make menu plans like this, so we'll definitely be figuring out how to have tacos of some sort on Election Day. If you want to join in the fun, post photos of your Election Day meals in the group.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How to help someone who is being harassed...

Maeril made a comic, and it's well worth sharing...

  • Step one: engage the victim in conversation while ignoring the harasser.
  • Step two: find a subject to talk about while continuing to ignore the harasser.
  • Step three: continue to build a safe space by keeping eye contact with the victim. Do not engage with or discuss the harasser.
  • Step four: continue until the harasser leaves and the victim is in a safe place, while respecting the wishes of the victim.

While there is no step five, if you are secretly a vigilante, I'm sure you can later hunt down the harasser and scare them straight - but I generally wouldn't recommend it. People dumb enough to harass others are not smart enough to be scared straight.

If you see someone else taking these actions to help someone, it might be smart to pull out a phone and video the harasser so you can inform authorities about the scumbag, but don't video unless somebody is helping protect the victim.

This cartoon doesn't say what to do if the harasser turns attention on you. For the most part, you just ignore it. If they physically attack you, then call authorities. Otherwise, just ignore them and continue to make a safe space.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cat Picture

Fully stretched Inkwell is nearly three feet long from paws to paws...

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Inkwell left me a present...

Apparently, I haven't been paying close enough attention to him, as he managed to throw up in the front window sill without me noticing. I'm not sure how long ago it happened, as I don't open the front window unless I absolutely have to. In addition, I'd built up a "cat castle" in front of the window, making it a safe space for him to get away from humans.

Well, he took advantage of it.

I just spent the last half hour scrubbing the area and vacuuming up the remaining chunks. It looks to me like it was a dinner, so it probably happened in the middle of the night sometime. It was dried enough that cleaning it wasn't too bad, it just required some scrubbing.

I have been in a major depression with some anxiety attacks for the past few months. It's been bad enough that I've been trying to stay inside and away from people. I'm going to have to break out of it soon. It's not a comfortable way to live. As a meme on Facebook said, "Depression is when you don't really care about anything. Anxiety is when you care too much about everything. And having both is just like hell."

In lieu of forcing myself to be creative, here's a summary of some of my recent Facebook posts - stuff that I found interesting enough to share.

Andy Borowitz again hits one out of the park with Nation with Crumbling Bridges and Roads Excited to Build Giant Wall. Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. We need leadership that will rebuild our infrastructure, not make stupid promises about walls on our borders.

U.S. Doctors Call for Universal Health Care. A single-payer system is the only moral system. Companies that profit from denying care, which includes most health insurance companies and many pharmaceutical companies, are basically evil. If the goal is increasing shareholder profits and not saving lives, then the companies should go away. Forever.

CharityWatch ranks lots of charities, including The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Foundation. Note the extremely low overhead of the Clinton Foundation, at only 12%. The charity gets an "A" rating because most of its money goes to help people. The numbers being used by conservative critics are not false... they simply count everything that isn't a grant as overhead. Since the Clinton Foundation assists people using other methods besides grants, the critics' numbers are misleading and basically a giant lie.

When we lived in Frankenhaus, one of the biggest problems we ran into was keeping the blackberries under control. Well, we have Luther Burbank to blame. I've spent many days at Luther Burbank Park, so I was a little surprised to read the history of the man. Kind of strikingly eye-opening, and not in a good way.

I quite liked this tweet:

In case you don't know the backstory, several seaside towns in France banned the "burkini", a full body covering suit that allows Muslim or similarly shy women to go to the beach without exposing themselves. At one beach, a woman wearing one was forced to strip by police. That's right. Police forced a woman being modest at the beach to strip. The French Supreme Court banned the laws, but they are apparently still being enforced and a disturbing percent of the population is just fine with it. On the one hand, I'm kind of relieved that another country is outdoing America for sheer stupidity, but on the other hand, really, France? Really?

Women can't win.

New DeLoreans are being built with original parts. These will reportedly have a much better engine. I'm just going to take the opportunity to note that I got to ride in a DeLorean on Back to the Future Day, something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

On a very light note, the entire British Olympics team had an unfortunate airport problem. Oops.

I don't know if you'll be able to see this if you don't have Facebook, sorry, but Dee Snider did an acoustic version of "We're Not Gonna Take It" that is just amazing and done for all the right reasons. I'm going to try to embed the YouTube version:

Moving on, Phil Plait got really excited about a new astronomical discovery. What does it mean, practically? Not a lot for the average person, but it expands and changes our knowledge and potential understanding of the universe.

A teenager in Montreal showed himself to be a true man by calmly saving a woman from a kidnapper. If that story doesn't bring happiness to your heart, you're probably dead.

A post by a Fort Worth mother of a note from her child's teacher has gone viral. Basically, the teacher was informing parents that the children would not be assigned any homework - only work they didn't finish in class - and urged parents to do evening activities with their children that are proven to correlate with student success. Activities like reading together, eating as a family, playing outside and getting to bed on time. My response is positive. I didn't do homework. I always asked myself if I could pass it if it were on a test. If the answer was yes, I ignored any homework assignments. If the answer was no, I went to the teacher to get it fully explained to me so I could pass it on a test. Homework never figured into my understanding. It was all just busy work. Pointless and useless. If I understood it, why would I want to waste time and energy doing another 50 problems? If I didn't understand it, I couldn't see how struggling through 50 problems would help me in any way.

If you haven't read the Hugo-winning Short Story "Cat Pictures Please", go check it out now. It makes me want to take photos of Inkwell and post them. If only I weren't so upset at him at the moment for his present he left in the windowsill...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Solar Sidewalk

I'm sure everyone who reads my blog knows all about Solar Roadways and how enthused I am about it. Well, the first public installation is about to begin, in Sandpoint, Idaho: at Jeff Jones Town Square. This installation will either be the first step toward real solar roads... or the proof that the concept cannot work. I'm rooting for it to work, and can hardly wait for the cam to go live.