Thursday, February 04, 2016

Monday, February 01, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Supergirl: "Blood Bonds" - Deeply disappointed in this one, because it makes Cat look stupid. She isn't stupid, and this was a cheat on the viewers as well as the characters. Cat should know, and she should be willing to play along once she's thought about it. I did not enjoy this episode much at all.
  • Supergirl: "Childish Things" - Oh, now this is an interesting development! Not only do we get n snfpvangvat yvax jvgu Jvaa, ohg Pnzreba Punfr! Naq gur ivrjref svaq bhg rknpgyl jul W'baa qbrfa'g jnag gb hfr uvf cbjref juvyr qrgrezvavat gung Ybeq vf whfg nf zhpu n wrex nf rirelbar rkcrpgf. V ubcr jr frr zber bs Punfr, rfcrpvnyyl vs ure cnegvphyne cbjre (sebz gur pbzvpf) pbzrf vagb cynl.
  • Supergirl: "Strange Visitor from Another Planet" - And the backstory to Mars starts to come out. Pretty scary stuff. The bit with Xnen "genafyngvat" sbe Nqnz naq Png jnf whfg cher zntvp. The rest... eh, it works. This was definitely an episode worth watching, but it's not one that stands out for me.

  • The Flash: "Potential Energy" - So everyone is trying to make Barry faster, except for Wally, who has his own issues while learning about his father for the first time. I kind of hate to admit it, but I love the Turtle. And they got the perfect guy to play him, too.

  • Legends of Tomorrow: "Pilot, Part 1" - Rory as Rip Hunter. I like it. It's a promising start to what could turn out to be a good show. I hope it does. I loved the bar scene, especially when she finally said she could use help. Overall, fun start.

  • Arrow: "Blood Debts" - More movement toward Felicity becoming Oracle? Or something else entirely? And we learn that Darhk's family isn't entirely what we thought it was, or what we might have been led to believe it was.



This week's movie was Man of Steel, the Superman reboot from 2013. I'd been hearing for awhile how bad this movie was, and kind of figured it was just fans being fans... but this was a real stinker. From the opening scenes on Krypton to the final wink and nod, it was just pure crap. Oh, don't get me wrong. The actors were certainly good, but the parts they were given were not. The effects were lovely, but the plot was so thin it almost didn't exist. The movie seemed to be one excuse to have a massive battle scene followed by another, with snooze-fests in between. It was a very long and boring 143 minutes. I hope the upcoming movie is better than this, because if it's as bad, there's no way the DC franchise of movies will survive. That said, here's what I liked... most of the casting was good. Pretty solid characters all the way through. Pity they weren't given a chance to shine. Perhaps the best moment in the entire film is Creel Juvgr fgnlvat jvgu Wraal rira gubhtu vg zrnaf gurl jvyy nyy qvr. V nyfb yvxrq gur vqrn bs Ybvf genpxvat qbja gur zlfgrel zna jub fnirq ure... ohg V'z abg ernyyl nyy gung xrra ba ure univat fhpu fhpprff be rira gur snpg gung vg gheaf uvf bevtva nebhaq pbzcyrgryl. Vs fur pna qb vg, bgure crbcyr pna, fb Pynex Xrag nf na nygre rtb vfa'g jbegu fcvg va guvf havirefr. V ungrq gur vqrn gung Fhcrezna svefg orpbzrf xabja ivn na vagretnynpgvp guerng. Fb rirelbar ba gur cynarg nffbpvngrf uvz jvgu gung naq gur rafhvat qrfgehpgvba. Naq lbh unir gb oryvrir gung gubhfnaqf be rira uhaqerqf bs gubhfnaqf bs crbcyr qvrq va gung rcvp onggyr orgjrra Fhcrezna naq Mbq. Jurgure be abg lbh oryvrir Fhcrezna fnirq gur cynarg, lbh nyfb xabj, gunaxf gb gung guerng, gung ur nyfb oebhtug gur qrfgehpgvba gb gur cynarg. Gur cflpuvp qnzntr gb gur cbchyngvba jbhyq or havzntvanoyr... whfg guvax bs ubj jr'er fgvyy qrnyvat jvgu gur gjva gbjre nggnpxf. Guvf jbhyq unir orra pbafvqrenoyl jbefr naq zber greevslvat. Vg jbhyq unir punatrq gur ragver jbeyq naq tvira iveghnyyl nyy gur fheivibef n frevbhf pnfr bs cbfg-genhzngvp fgerff. Rira gelvat gb fhfcraq zl qvforyvrs, guvf chfurf vg n ovg gbb sne. Gurer unf gb or vagreany pbafvfgrapl, naq guvf zbivr qbrfa'g ernyyl unir vg. And what was with the washed-out color? It was a hard movie to watch visually. I kept feeling like I needed to adjust my television set. Whoever did that ought to not make any more movies. That was horrid. Overall, I'm really glad we got this from the library and didn't pay to go see it. It certainly makes me less enthusiastic about seeing "Batman v. Superman". I'll probably go only to see how poorly they treat Aquaman.



DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Dec 2nd
  • Green Lantern #47 - I like the haircut. The rest... eh.
  • Batman Beyond #7 - So the world is reeling and starting to recover, and what's Matt up to? I don't know that I like this universe.
  • Doctor Strange #3 - So, he's clued in to the fact that he's being hunted. Will that save him? I don't know the magical rules of the Marvel universe, so I have no idea what's going to happen in this book.
  • Mage Inc. #3 - Very good finale to what I thought was a pretty cool story, but it suffered from coming out so long after the last issue. I almost can't remember what happened before.
  • This Damned Band #5 - Finally getting to the endgame, and the real badguy is revealed. Scary stuff, kiddies.
  • Doctor Who 9th #5 - Who watches the watchmen? This is a classic case of something thinking they can take over for the Doctor without realizing just how much he actually does. At least the ending is somewhat happy?
  • Doctor Who 10th #2.3 - I'm liking Cindy as a character, and I enjoyed Cleo almost from the start. With the fellow who shows up on the final page, this can't help but be some kind of fun.
  • Doctor Who 12th #14 - I'm really not enjoying the corrupted suns story. It seems to be dragging.
  • Dec 9th
  • Earth 2 Society #7 - And... that's the end? Ok. Green Lantern is more like the Spectre here, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Overall, though, I've been disappointed in this book. Maybe it'll start telling interesting stories now?
  • DC Comics Bombshells #6 - Lots of Mera in this one, and I like her actions. Nice to see her treat Stargirl and Supergirl with such compassion. Amanda Waller calling her silly is nice... and Waller isn't? Honestly, I'm loving this book.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern #6 - Well, I was expecting a return to the status quo, not... what we got. And it seems a little odd that Scotty's rings didn't feature at all in the solution. I suspect this has been left open for a sequel. Only time will tell.
  • Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 - Perfect team-up. Can I really say any more without spoiling it? It's just perfect. This is a very good set-up tale, and I'm looking forward to the next issue.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #4 - Yay, Captain America finally gets to show herself. But I hope Roberta isn't hurt by the process, although everything she is appears to be a lie.
  • Back to the Future #3 - Ha, George and Lorraine both seeking out Marty's help when romance seems to go sour. I love it. As for Biff, well. I'm not sure what to expect from him next.
  • Doctor Who 8th #2 - Ah, a smart companion. Of course she gets injured right off the bat... that's what companions are for, after all. This was a pretty good issue, but we still haven't figured out the central mystery of this companion from the first issue: how did she know about all those aliens?
  • Doctor Who 11th #2.3 - This one seems like a lot of irrelevant stuff, showing us bits of history of each of our companions, including Daak. I think I'd be happier to just get on with the story, now.
  • Rebels #9 - I think this is a done-in-one tale about friendship and the death of it. Nicely written. I liked that the Shawnee, who has seen much more than the British, has his head on straight. Pity he'll never get through the Brit's conditioning.
  • Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #3 - I'm enjoying this, even if it is the second time around. I never expected a wild west version of Oz to be good, but it really does work. And I'm also liking the back-up story, which is giving us an idea of the witches of Oz and what may have caused their... problems.
  • Spongebob Comics #51 - I saw the ending to the game creator signing story coming from a mile away, but it was awesome anyway. And seeing Squidward actually enjoy time with Patrick and SpongeBob was also pretty cool. Overall, not a bad issue despite the lack of Mermaid Man.
  • Dec 16th
  • Justice League #46 - Still no Aquaman. Still a boring story about new gods, which I never really liked anyway. Wake me up when this thing is over.
  • Justice League United #16 - This appears to be a summary of what's happened so far, with a wrap-up. So I'm guessing this might be the final issue? The art is bizarre and somewhat unsuited for the story.
  • Batman '66 #30 - Is this it for the Batman? Has he really had his final adventure? Will we never see him and his chum, Robin, again in the pages of his comic book? Have I been reading too much of this?
  • Teen Titans Go #13 - Aqualad's life is about more than just swimming around, talking to fishes. Well, I would think. But the first story in this issue really does bring back some of those uncomfortable questions about how Atlanteans do... certain things. Second story was irritating. I like my teeth, so dentists are fine, thank you much.
  • Tales of Honor: Bred to Kill #4 - And that wraps up quite nicely. This mini was far better from the first because it was allowed to be a comic book, straying from the original words of the original author. I wouldn't mind seeing a few more like this, exploring other bits of the Honorverse.
  • Huck #2 - That was definitely NOT what I expected to happen. But then, Huck may not be obviously bright, but he's consistent. He just wants to help. Yes, I'm enjoying this series.



Fortean Times #330
Fortean Times #330 (August 2015). Nice shocking cover, pun intended. The layout is eye-catching, so that's good. The cover story itself is ok, all about people who've been struck by lightning. Apparently there are some positives... if you survive. Which is not to say I'm going to head out and get hit by lightning just to find out if the stories are true. The editorial shakily points out two deaths from lightning strikes that happened just before the issue went to print. Yikes.

Another main story is about Yew trees, and was, as usual, more fascinating then I expected it to be. The life-cycle of a yew is interesting, and it kind of makes me want to have one... which would require more land than I've got. Add in that they are poisonous, and maybe I'll just add them to my dream garden instead. But there's a lot of fun stuff in this one about a tree I knew very little about, including interesting sidebars to the main article.

Another article tells the sad story of Stephen Phillips, a promising poet in a time when you could actually make a living as a poet, who moved into a haunted house and pretty much lost everything.

The final main article is about preserving Fortean collections as people in the field age and pass away. Sometimes the families of those who collect Forteana aren't at all interested in the collections and simply toss them. But they clearly had value to the ones who collected them, and might be valuable to other researchers. It turns out a Swedish organization is working on the problem and has started to collect and preserve people's libraries. I heartily approve.

As an aside to that last article, a new feature called "Building a Fortean Library" premiers in this issue. It talks about what to look for as you build a private library, including a starting recommendation of an encyclopedia of Fortean topics. This could be a very fun feature, or it could turn out to be something that would have gone just as nicely on the always excellent reviews pages. Only time will tell.

Strangedays starts out with giant 'blood' falls in Antarctica and gates to hell (a sinkhole filled with flame). That's as good a start as any! There's pieces on clever dogs and a UFO sighting over Nigeria, horrible diets and hippos wandering city streets after a flood destroyed the zoo. There's another round-up of the world's oldest people and some follow-ups of previous stories. Science is about alchemical resurrection, and what the folks might have actually been seeing. Archaeology has a variety of stories that are awesome, because I've always loved the topic. Classical Corner covers everyday advice from the ancients while Ghostwatch visits Las Vegas.

There's a very cool piece on an exhibition of artwork from Richard Dadd, done while he was an inmate in Bedlam. Freaky beautiful works by a man who killed his own father in an apparent schizophrenic fit. Fairies, Folklore and Forteana tells of a collector of tales who saved stories of pixies from vanishing, and was an interesting person in her own right. Forum has a piece on the disappearance of a statue that became a religious fight in Ireland. There's also a piece on hobs and their origin and disappearance.

The UFO Files looks at the danger posed by fans of science fiction who develop cult-like behaviors. Fandom... fanatic? There's also a couple of stories of timeslips. Blasts from the Past continues a look at Phantom Anaesthetists... are they urban legend or something else entirely? Strange Statesmen looks an Idi Amin and what may have driven the insane stories surrounding his time as dictator. The conclusion is that there was far more to the tales than what Westerners may see on the surface. What if open talk is so dangerous that using metaphor and folklore is the only way to express discontent?

On to the reviews! Nothing jumps out as something I want to purchase, although both the dragon and the conspiracy books sound interesting enough that I'd read 'em if they came my way. There's a review by an eight year old, which I think is new. Not quite as excellently written as the standard, but not bad at all. Then there's a nearly incomprehensible review by Barry Baldwin (Classical Corner) that I'm still not certain about. But overall, another excellent review section. And I'm actually slightly more interested in seeing Ant-Man after reading the FT review of it. The letters were solid, although one of them might have been better published in the forum, as it took two entire pages. In the end, another good issue of the best magazine published.



Monday, January 25, 2016

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Sunday Review

TV from a few weeks ago:

  • Doctor Who: "The Husbands of River Song" - A surprisingly gentle Christmas episode from this show. Oh, there are moments, of course, but the whole episode felt like a nice relaxing rest after a series that was quite stressful. I think other reviewers have managed already to point out all the neat continuity moments, so I won't go into them. I will say that my favorite moment was jura Evire svanyyl svtherq bhg jub jnf fgnaqvat arkg gb ure. There were some very good quotable quotes, as well. Particular in the speech leading up to that moment. Overall, not the most exciting episode of Doctor Who, but a very nice addition to the universe.



DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Nov 11th
  • Rebels #8 - Two short stories in this one, both of them incomplete, in my opinion. Both try to say something and both don't say nearly enough. Perhaps the series will revisit the characters later, otherwise, this is a waste of an issue.
  • Justice League United #15 - Wow, this story was a total mess. At least it finally resolved into something. I think it would have worked better as a single issue, but decompressed storytelling is the norm in comics these days.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #4 - Three different stories, starting with a tale of Russia, then Harley Quinn goes nuts. The final story takes us back to Wonder Woman, minus Mera, and a moral quandry. I am enjoying this book.
  • Batman Beyond #6 - Fun finale to a long story that I pretty much hated from the start, because I really didn't enjoy the plotline. Maybe the next one will be better? I can dream.
  • Back to the Future #2 - Two stories, one an alternate history that shows what would happen if Doc Brown gave time travel to the government, and the other a story of Marty needing some help with a science project. Both of them are fun.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #3 - Wow. Miguel has gone nutso. And those last few pages were... not a shock, but definitely nasty. Good stuff.
  • Spongebob Comics #50 - Fifty issues already? Didn't this book just start? Well, there's a little bit of Mermaid Man, including a whole bunch of classic comics covers reimagined with Mermaid Man, so I enjoyed it.
  • Nov 18th
  • Earth 2 Society #6 - Everything good is bad again? Strange to have Jimmy Olsen as the ultimate bad guy. How, exactly, did he manage it?
  • Titans Hunt #2 - What on earth was Dick thinking? I mean, talk about the worst possible way to attract Garth. Yikes. Still, I'm really curious to see what happens next.
  • Green Lantern: The Lost Army #6 - Interesting. The rift had Relic on both sides of it, if I remember the Green Lantern issue correctly. So, if there's no escape, what's the plan?
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern #5 - So Scotty reverse engineered power rings to rig up a thing to help the boys out in their upcoming battle? Fantastic!
  • Batman '66 #29 - Ma Parker, Catwoman, Solomon Grundy, Killer Croc... Lots of great characters to appear in a single book. And, for the most part, the plot actually worked. Fun!
  • Astro City #29 - How do the aliens who are innocent lives involved in their emperor's schemes feel about being pawns in a constant game of superheroic insanity? Well, this issue introduces us to some. I can't wait to read the next part of this one.
  • Huck #1 - A secret superhero tries to do a good deed every day. But what happens when someone who isn't committed to keeping the secret moves into town and learns about him? I like the artwork, and the premise is good. This issue was definitely set-up, so it's hard to judge beyond the superficial, but I like it so far.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency #5 - I think this one is over? Maybe? I love Douglas Adam's work, but this character just never connected with me... and this mini series didn't either. It was ok, but I could certainly have passed on it.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #150 - A nasty European wants to witness everything he can of Japanese culture, including seppuku. Of course, Usagi gets involved.
  • Nov 25th
  • Aquaman #46 - Wonder Woman visits Aquaman to find out if he's ok, and that leads to problems. So, same-old same-old? Actually, it's kind of nice that she offers the assistance of the Justice League. It is a pretty big threat for one hero to take on alone.
  • Justice League of America #5 - It's entirely a Martian Manhunter story. I don't understand most of it. But it was ok.
  • Sinestro #17 - Black Adam... yeah, ok, I buy it. I'm not sure I buy all the rest, but the yellow ring seems like it picks who it will pick. This is apparently Wonder Woman week, as she shows up in this book, as well as Aquaman.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #5 - Another good issue, even if there's no Mera in it. I like Kortni and Kara particularly. A nice twist on Russian folktales.
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Oz: Reign of the Witch Queen #6 - Apparently it's over. And everyone lived happily ever after. Or something like that? Let's just hope they find some tailors who actually make practical clothing.
  • Peanuts: Snoopy Special #1 - A lot of fun Snoopy stories in this one, no surprise. I still prefer the Schulz stories, but the new ones aren't bad at all.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

State of the Laura

My mind is clear enough to write for the first time in almost a week thanks to me stopping my drug regime in anticipation of going back to work tomorrow.

Here's the skinny. Last Thursday morning I felt a twinge in my back that steadily got worse. All day Thursday I was in pain, but since I live with a certain level of pain and it wasn't that much worse than usual, I tried to ignore it and just get on with life. But Friday morning... I thought I was going to die. It hurt more than I had ever imagined back pain could hurt. I mean, I've had back pain for years, but it's been periods of intense but tolerable pain followed by dull aches followed by mostly nothing. But last Friday, it was intolerable. I was having back spasms, and every time one hit I couldn't prevent myself from crying. And sometimes crying out. It was that bad. I somehow worked through deadline but the instant I believed I was done with everything for that day's paper, I headed to the "urgent care" clinic.

Aside: I have had ovarian cysts burst. They are incredibly painful and the pain lasts for a couple of hours. The back spasms were at least as bad and only lasted a few minutes each... but they kept happening every ten or so minutes. The burst cysts would have weeks in between.

I was prescribed a couple of drugs, a narcotic pain killer and a muscle relaxant. I then proceeded to spend the weekend in drug-addled pain. Because the drugs didn't really work, but fogged my brain severely and put me to sleep. During that time, I learned about the deaths of two people I consider friends, and both of them hit me really hard. So I was still in pain and suffering from grief when Monday morning rolled around.

Hubby-Eric wasn't working Monday, so he took me back to the clinic where I was prescribed a different pain killer and a different muscle relaxant. Then hubby did the hard work of getting the prescriptions so I could just stay at home and try to heal. The new drugs worked, and I spent the rest of Monday and Tuesday out of it. Wednesday morning I felt better and decided I ought to try to go back to work on Thursday. My boss, the new publisher, informed me that if I was going to come back early I had to get it cleared with my doctor. I got an appointment for this morning.

After bawling me out about going to the clinic, my regular doctor told me I needed to finish the medicine and rest period (I thought my regular doctor didn't do same-day appointments. I have been taught otherwise). So I will be headed back to work tomorrow morning, instead of going back today. She also chided me about not getting my mammogram and decided to set up the appointment for me. *sigh* I'm not a good patient.

Today's mail brought a book from Amazon that I hadn't ordered... about how to deal with back pain. Since the primary chapters I've read so far agree with the advice of my doctor (stand up and move around frequently, stop slouching when sitting) I will try to work through it and see if it helps me in the long run. I got a text from my sister asking if I got the book, so that mystery was quickly solved.

I firmly believe that if I lose the weight I've gained back since moving out here, most of my medical issues will dissolve. Which means I've got to get serious about calorie counting again. Eric has promised to help me out.

I'm going to indulge in a little bit of sadness and grief now.

I didn't know Justin Manning for long. I met him online at theadiposetv's Twitch stream and chat, and met him in person at last year's Anglicon. He was an enthusiastic supporter of fandom and loved everything about life and fans. He was delighted to get to Anglicon and meet the Doctor Who: Legacy team and some other fans from the chat and stream. He volunteered at the convention, and put in a helping hand despite being weak from cancer treatments. He was impressive and, having seen photos of him from other friends on his Facebook page, I realize he was a great man who promoted friendship and fandom. I'll miss him.

On the other hand, I've known Jim Trull for as long as I've worked at the newspaper. He was one of the first friendly faces I got to know at certain meetings and such. I'm fairly certain I first met him while covering Noon Rotary, where he was a natural born greeter. He was always genuinely glad to see people and made you feel tall just to be around him. When I had to cover the groundwater meetings, I was delighted to see Jim there, because I felt like I had one ally in the room. I remember after the first groundwater meeting I covered, I went up to Jim and asked him some background questions about some of the discussion topics that I hadn't quite understood. He patiently explained the acronyms to me and, frankly, without him I feel like I would have been lost.

I didn't know Jim was the district manager of the local irrigation district until later, and then I realized just how important he was in the area. That he took the time to help a clueless cub reporter makes me adore him even more.

Jim passed away over the weekend, and when I learned the news I was in far more shock than when I heard about Justin's death. Justin had been fighting cancer. As far as I know, Jim was in good health. I saw him at the irrigation district meeting not so long ago. In fact, I want to share a little bit of his sense of humor.

One of the presenters at the meeting had a couple of photos of his crew laying pipe, and a machine that was binding the pipes together. It was pretty standard stuff. The photos were of the machine at the worksite, and one of the photos showed a worker and a case next to him that apparently contained part of his lunch: a bag of pretzels. The board members asked questions about the machine, and how much time it saved, and all that jazz. Jim looked up and asked in a serious deadpan voice, "And what do the pretzels do?" The engineer presenting had no idea what he was talking about. One of the board members sort of giggled and pointed out the bag on the photo... then they got back to business. A tiny moment of levity in an otherwise highly technical meeting.

Jim's daughter is also in Noon Rotary and I know her fairly well. His wife is the principal at one of the elementary schools, so I've run into her while working, as well. So my heart is breaking for them along with the general loss to the community. I think I've had enough time that I'm not going to break into tears while thinking about it at work, but I make no guarantees. Like I've said elsewhere, this year has truly started out horrible.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Relay for Life

I'd like to write a big ol' update on what's going on in my life, but I've been a little distracted. Worse, I threw out my back Thursday somehow, and I'm in agony. The painkiller and muscle relaxant the doctor prescribed is making only a slight dent in the pain.

Then.

This morning I got news that a friend of mine I met at Anglicon last year has lost his fight with cancer. Justin Manning, the guy in the blue shirt at the center of the photo below, passed away this morning after a long battle.


I was dithering on whether or not to do the Relay for Life this year, but Justin has prompted me to do it again, in his honor. If you would like to donate, visit my relay page. But even if you cannot donate, please spend a couple of minutes after you read this thinking of those we've lost to cancer.

Thanks.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Today in Review

Since I seem to be gutting my memory each night and haven't really been taking notes about my life because it's been utterly crazy, I thought maybe I'll try to make up for my lack of posting about my week in review by giving you a glimpse of a day.

Last night it was raining a little as I came home. Nothing strange for me, a Seattle native, right? Well... I'm not used to the rain freezing as soon as it hits the ground. A couple of hours after sunset, that's what was happening here. By morning we had a giant sheet of ice covering every paved surface. The only non-slick spots were areas where the snow hadn't been shoveled, and those were crusted foot-traps.

Hubby-Eric, sweetheart that he is, interrupted my morning shower several times to update me on school delays and closures. Once I was dressed, I checked the newspaper's website and didn't see any updates, so I started to worry a little. The editor lives on the only real hill in town, and I wondered if he'd been able to get to work at all. So I left for work earlier than I'd planned, and got to work about an hour early. The two worst parts of the commute were getting out of my own driveway, which is just steep enough to be frightening when there is ice, and crossing the parking lot at work on foot. Luckily, I have stabilicers, so I was able to clack my way across the ice without slipping.

Aside: I really love my stabilicers, which I call my "spikes." I keep them in my car all winter. They are sturdy, can be slipped onto a shoe with one hand with a little practice, and are perfect for the light snow and heavy ice we tend to get around here. My co-workers all seem envious of them, so every time someone says they wish they had some, I send them the link to the website so they know what they are called.

As it turned out, the editor was on the job when I got there and had updated the website while I was on the way. The publisher was also in the office, so I wasn't really needed all that much. The editor gave me a story on the weather to do, so I called a few places, including a meteorologist, and got the piece put together. We heard over the police scanner that there was an accident, car versus telephone pole, and I was about to go out to it (terrified of driving on the ice again) when my co-worker arrived. Since her car was already warmed up and she was already out there, the publisher cautiously walked out and asked her to do it.

The rest of deadline was relatively calm. We're one reporter down for the next two weeks, which is terrifying since we've already been down one reporter since the old editor left, but we're just barely hanging on. The new publisher wants things done differently, and has strong notions of how to work smarter and what to do, but he's sometimes a little... um... I'm not really sure how to describe it. I truly believe he's trying to make us better, but sometimes I feel like he's determined to do it by pointing out everything we are doing wrong, explaining how we ought to have done it, and hoping we'll be shamed into not doing it again. And while that's not an entirely fair way to describe it, there are days I feel like that's what is happening and feel a great deal of despair that I'll ever get it right.

In any case, today was not one of those days, although I got shamed at one point. The good thing is that I noticed the problem before he pointed it out. The bad thing is that I didn't think to fix it. Still, I think the mere fact that I'm beginning to spot problems is a move in the right direction.

A digression: yesterday I was in my office when the police scanner crackled and I heard the local dispatcher say, loudly and with a hint of panic, "We need EVERYONE back here right now." That caught my attention, and apparently at least one officer wasn't sure he'd heard her correctly and asked for a repeat. The dispatcher said, "We're having a flood and we need everyone back here as quickly as possible!" I jumped out of my chair and was thinking about rushing to the police station to see the flood, but instead went to my co-worker who covers the police beat and told her. Within moments she was out the door toward the police station. She managed to get photos and first-hand reports of the flood. You'll have to check out the website for the full story, but suffice to say it didn't stop our police from doing their job, nor did any prisoners escape from the jail (which is what I thought was happening when I heard the first message).

Back to today: lunch was a calm affair at home. The drive was pretty good, since most of the ice was melted. I usually, but not always, go home for lunch. If nothing else, it's an excuse to feed Inkwell, who gets very annoyed if we don't feed him regularly. I tell him I'd give him the whole day's food at once if he wouldn't gorge on it until he throws up and then eat more, but he has major food insecurity issues, so he gets little meals throughout the day instead. Inkwell and I usually have a little wrestling match when I get home, and he also likes to play tag with me. Both actions tend to cheer me up a bit (except for the biting. I don't like wrestling with biting). I went back to work feeling better.

After lunch I got together with the production lead and had my first lesson in InDesign. Now, to be fair, I've used it sporadically since I started working at the newspaper. But I do not know how to lay out pages yet, and the goal is for me to lay out my own pages. I've been trying to get time for a lesson in, but my schedule has been unforgiving and the adjustments we've been making have meant no time for lessons. So I was glad to get the time today.

For my first lesson, I put together tomorrow's school page. I quickly saw why it's advantageous to have writers doing the layouts, as we can edit some stories a little to make them fit better. In addition, I learned how difficult it really is to fit everything. I know why the former editor relied on filler material to make sure he could make the pages work. The new publisher is absolutely against using briefs as filler, so I suspect everyone is having a much harder time getting pages to work now. However, we have some "new" tools in our toolkits, including using more pull quotes and sub-headlines. In any case, I got the page tweaked, and while it may change before publication, at least I understand the concept behind it now.

Anyway, after the lesson I worked on other stories until I started to feel the drain on my brain. I have one more story to do for tomorrow, but I'd like a little more input on it, and I'm hoping I'll get a response to my Facebook plea. Ha. So I'll head in early for sure tomorrow morning.

I'm still not "there" yet, as far as what the new publisher wants. My stories are getting closer to his expectations, though I still need to work on breaking a few bad habits. My biggest weakness is finding my own stories. For four years, the former editor assigned most of my jobs. I'm now trying to find my own stories, and that's difficult for me to do. I'm not yet thinking "oh, that would be a good news story," when I hear about something. And when I do, I sometimes completely forget about it before I can find a notepad and jot it down, which really frustrates me. There's a story germ that I heard yesterday that I remember thinking "hey, there's a story there," but for the life of me I cannot figure out what it was. It's enough to make me want to bang my head against a wall in shame.

Anyway, today was one of the first good days I've had in a long time. I suspect it won't last, but I felt like I ought to share. I had a good day. Amazing, but true.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Sunday Review

The Wiz Live - Is it ironic or something that I waited quite some time and watched this one on DVR? Ahem. It was fun, and interesting, and loads better than the movie. Since I've never seen a proper stage production of The Wiz, I don't really have anything except the movie to compare it to. As a result, I can just say it was good, but not fantastic.

As a version of The Wizard of Oz, I didn't like all the changes, but found some to be excellent. There are a few songs I really love from the movie, but nobody can sing "You Can't Win" like Michael Jackson. And "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News" was amazing in the movie and just passable in this version. But otherwise, I think I liked this version's songs, mostly.

The acting wasn't too bad, except for the guy playing the guardian at the gate. Ug. Aunt Em was probably the best of the lot... she looked comfortable, while everyone else seemed a tiny bit stressed... although the Lion wasn't too bad.

I admit that I've probably seen far too many versions of The Wizard of Oz to judge even this fairly, but when it comes right down to it, I liked it.



The Room Two by Fireproof Games - I went ahead and purchased this one because I enjoyed the first one so much. At $2, it wasn't a hard choice. This edition is MUCH darker and spookier than the original game, including two "rooms" that made me more than a little squeamish. There's also much more of the occult in this one, although it is along the same lines as the first game: fake occult there for flavor and Lovecraftian horror. This one didn't feel quite as tight as the first one... I kept thinking there must be more puzzles to solve in each chapter and found myself disappointed when I moved on. Again, I played it twice, both times without the hints. I got hopelessly stuck only twice. Overall, I liked it about as much as the first one, which means I really liked it.

But I'm not sure I like it quite enough to buy the third one for a couple of reasons: 1) The third installment is $5 in the iOS app store, 2) I've seen a good amount of the game thanks to Adi, so it won't be quite as much mystery, 3) I have a first-gen iPad Mini, and the game apparently doesn't run well on it. To be totally honest with myself, number 3 is the killer. If I thought my tablet could handle it, I'd already have bought it. But the uncertainty mixed with the other two reasons is just enough to keep me away. Barely. I've hovered over the "buy" button more than once since I finished the second installment (I definitely don't like it enough to buy a new iPad mini to play it).



Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold - I purchased the eArc edition almost as soon as it was available, but savored it as long as possible. This is the 17th book in the Vorkosigan saga, according to Amazon. It takes place three years after the end of Cryoburn, and this is very much a romance and a story about people working out how their relationships ought to work. There is almost no antics or major adventures... this is all characters working themselves out. As such, I suspect there are a lot of people who will find it disappointing. I didn't. It was like a particularly excellent review of the entire series at times, mixed in with a bit of plot. If you haven't read many/most of the rest of the series, this one will make utterly no sense to you, I think. But for fans of the series, it's a lovely bookend.



Saving the Sammi by Frank Tuttle - A novella featuring Mage Meralda and Mug of Tirlin, characters seen in All the Paths of Shadow and All the Turns of Light. In this entirely-too-short story, Meralda must rescue a family lost in an airship using new magic she's not yet perfected. The story is nice and solid, Mug is still one of the most unique characters ever introduced in fantasy fiction and the "technology" is also lovely. A good little story.



DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Nov 4th
  • Harley Quinn & Power Girl #5 - Harley channeling the Joker is frightening. And that moustache! All-in-all, this is just a really strange book.
  • Green Lantern #46 - Does this mean this plotline is over and we can move on to something more interesting?
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #13 - So... did it happen or not? And if it did, will there be any long-term effects on Scooby? There are some nice twists in this one. Lots of fun, and only natural to team-up the Scooby gang with DC's various ghost heroes.
  • Doctor Strange #2 - This is really very creepy. And continues to be strange.
  • This Damned Band #4 - This book gets more and more ridiculous. After the cliffhanger from the previous issue, we get armed men threatening the band while more scary events are still happening.
  • Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #2 - I know there are some new bits in this issue, but overall I'm recognizing the story a little better. I still want to dig out Eric's copies of the original series to grep the two, but it's been long enough it's interesting.
  • UFOlogy #6 - Such a strange book, but I think I understand the gist of it. I need to pull all the issues out and reread.
  • Doctor Who 8th #1 - This issue almost makes me want to listen to all the Big Finish stories. That said, fun little done-in-one with a nice set-up for further mysteries. Fun stuff.
  • Doctor Who 11th #2.2 - Absalom Daak is always a fun appearance, but you add in this Squire character and Alice, who really is awesome, and you have something of a riot. The story is still a little opaque, but I'm sure it'll clear up.



Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Sunday Review

Ok, let's start with something different. Some time ago I quit all Facebook games cold turkey. When I won my iPad mini, I started playing Doctor Who: Legacy, because I'd heard so much good stuff about it. Since then, DWL has been the only game I play. My gamer itch has been satisfied, when I needed it, by watching The Adipose on Twitch. For example, I'd never play Fallout, despite how much it resembles Wasteland... but Adi's played it and I've been along for the ride.

Another game Adi has been playing recently is The Room 3. I thought it was fascinating, and checked out the earlier versions. To my pleasant surprise, The Room, the first one, is available free on iOS. So I downloaded it and tried it.

The Room by Fireproof Games - It's basically a puzzle box game. You are greeted by a safe and invited to open it by solving puzzles. And there are a lot of puzzles. To add to the atmosphere, there's a Victorian/Lovecraftian sense of horror in the music and background noises. The puzzles aren't hard, but can be challenging in unexpected ways. You have to listen, watch and touch everything you can see to come up with the solution. Sometimes you have to think *ahem* outside the box. There are hints available. The first time through, I used them. Then I played it again without the hints. It was surprisingly replayable, because there are so many puzzles to go through you can't remember the solution to all of them. A very satisfying game... although you are definitely left wanting more by the end.

I noticed one of the reviews in the Apple store complained about the occult nature of the game... I can say that there's not much, if any, in this game. There are symbols, but I didn't see more than a passing reference to actual occult symbols anywhere. Those were only used to lend the Lovecraft feel to the story. There are tarot cards at the end of the game, but again, mostly for atmosphere. This is a horror tale, to be sure, and there is an ongoing sense of "things man was not meant to know" in the letters you uncover... but actual occult? Not in this game. Maybe the sequels have more, but what I saw in Adi's playthrough shows more along the lines of Cthulu than actual real-world stupidity. However, if you are leery of anything even appearing to be occult, then you might find this game uncomfortable.

The Room was published in 2012 and is available for a variety of platforms, including Apple, Android and Amazon. As of this writing it is free on iOS, but not on other platforms. Playthrough time is 2-4 hours, depending on how good you are at puzzles and if you use the hints.



Eric and I have recently seen two movies that I haven't reviewed. Most recently, we saw this weekend's big movie:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Non-spoilers... I liked the new characters and loved the appearance of the original series characters. I have some trouble believing it's been this long, but oh, it felt so good. The plot itself was... how to put this delicately? Um, a little derivative. But also classic with enough twists to work. The balance between drama and humor was lovely, back at the right level. There were so many good little bits of humor mixed in that it worked overall. The big thing, the one that will have many hardcore fans upset, is that this story does not fit at all in the "extended universe" (although it wouldn't surprise me if someone no-prizes it into place). As I'm only mildly invested in the extended universe, it didn't bother me at all, but some fans I'm sure are upset and disappointed due to the canon being broken.

Ok, let's look at some spoilery moments. Gur qrngu... bu, gur qrngu jnf qenzngvp naq cnvashy. Bapr ur jnyxrq bhg bagb gung oevqtr gurer yvgrenyyl jnf ab bgure jnl sbe vg gb raq. V xarj, gunaxf gb nyy gur fcbvyref va gur genvyref, gung gur znfxrq gjvg jnfa'g tbvat gb fhqqrayl ghea tbbq. Naq V pbhyqa'g frr uvz yrggvat Una rfpncr. Fb gung jnf gung. V fnj vg pbzvat naq qvqa'g cerqvpg vg ng nyy. Arkg hc: gur svefg nccrnenapr bs gur Zvyyraavhz Snypba jnf bar bs gubfr terng zbzragf bs uhzbe. Erl naq Svaa unq gur orfg punggre qhevat gung pbairefngvba, ohg jura gurl ghea gb gur "tneontr" naq vg'f bhe byq sevraq, lrnu... purref naq ynhtugre. Nabgure gryyvat zbzrag jnf jura Erl gbhpurq gur yvtugfnore. V guvax gung zrnaf fur'f Yhxr'f qnhtugre... gung'f ubj V "ernq" gur synfuonpxf. Bgure sbyxf zvtug unir bgure bcvavbaf. Ohg sbe gur erfg bs gur svyz V xrcg guvaxvat bs ure nf Una'f avrpr, be znfxrq gjvg'f pbhfva. Gung znqr gur rcvp fnore svtug n onggyr orgjrra pbhfvaf. Fbzr guvatf gung jrer qhzo: jul vf gurer n znc gb jurer Yhxr jnf tbvat? V zrna, frevbhfyl. Naq ubj qvq by' jungfvfsnpr va gur bcravat fprar trg uvf unaqf ba vg? Sbe gung znggre, jul vf vg vzcbegnag sbe znfxrq gjvg naq rzcrebe Tbyyhz gb svaq Yhxr? Ur'f bar thl naq ur'f orra zvffvat n ybat gvzr. Jul abg whfg trg ba jvgu yvirf? Nyfb, gur yvtug fvqr qbrfa'g grzcg, fb znfxrq gjvg vfa'g orvat frqhprq ol gur yvtug... ur'f n crefba jub fgvyy unf n pbafpvrapr naq vf gelvat gb xvyy vg. Nf sbe orvat qrevingvir... jr'ir tbg gur oenir eroryf tbvat hc ntnvafg gur rivy rzcver naq gurve qrngu fgne. Fbeg bs. Gurer jrer n ybg bs zbzragf gung jrer qverpg pnyyonpxf gb gur bevtvany frevrf, vapyhqvat gur jnl Yrvn ernpgrq ng Una'f qrngu orvat gur fnzr nf Bov-Jna'f ernpgvat gb gur qrfgehpgvba bs Nyqrenna. Gung svany fprar, jvgu Erl snpvat Yhxr, jnf nznmvat. Gurer jrer n ybg bs zbzragf yvxr gung guebhtubhg gur zbivr.

In the end, I enjoyed the movie a lot, but still see it has a few flaws. But I'm dying to see the next one.

The other movie we saw thanks to the library happening to have a copy:

Inside Out - A really cute animated movie with a basic enough plot but a nicely unique way of looking at inner turmoil. I loved the voice acting and found it to be a solid little movie that says a lot about how people think and feel. It was a great movie all through, and I enjoyed it a lot... but the absolute funniest moment for me was the looks at other people in the end - particularly the look at the cat. I'm still giggling about the cat every time I think about it. A nice little solid movie for everyone to enjoy.



TV this week:
  • Supergirl: "Human For a Day" - So much good stuff in this one. Xnen trgf gb qrny jvgu orvat uhzna naq zber vzcbegnagyl, orvat uheg, sbe gur svefg gvzr. Jvaa trg wrnybhf. Png trgf n pbzcyvzrag. Znkjryy vf n wrex, ohg n tbbq-urnegrq wrex nccneragyl. Naq jr svanyyl yrnea jung Unax npghnyyl vf qhr gb n ybiryl fvrtr frdhrapr ng gur QRB. Guvf rcvfbqr vf nabgure erzvaqre gung guvf vf ABG gur znva QP Havirefr nf frra va gur pbzvpf. A fun little episode.
  • Supergirl: "Hostile Takeover" - The season finale, juvpu fhecevfvatyl raqf ba n pyvssunatre. Xnen'f srryvatf sbe ure Nhag Nfgen ner gur ubbx guvf fgbel unatf ba, naq vg'f n cerggl tbbq ubbx. Ohg gur ovt fhecevfr sbe zr jnf Png svanyyl znxvat gur shyy pbaarpgvba naq pbasebagvat Xnen. Lrnu, Png vfa'g fghcvq naq vg jbhyq unir orra ernyyl onq gb pbagvahr npgvat yvxr fur jnf. Gur bayl dhrfgvba abj vf jung qverpgvba Png jvyy gnxr jvgu gung xabjyrqtr? This has been a fun show and I'm looking forward to the next season.

  • Arrow: "Brotherhood" - Naq gur cnfg pngpurf hc. Ng yrnfg, bar cnfg. Naq vg'f abg n cyrnfnag rkcrevrapr sbe Qvttyr, bar bs gur orggre punenpgref ba gur fubj. Enl'f qrcerffvba vf fnq va fhpu na bcgvzvfgvp punenpgre, ohg vg'f avpr gb frr uvz jbexvat ba n ceboyrz. Naq Gurn unf n cbffvoyr fbyhgvba gb ure ceboyrz. Bayl, ubj vf fur tbvat gb trg Qneux gb pbbcrengr? Another good episode on lots of levels.
  • Arrow: "Legends of Yesterday" - Gur snpg gung rirelbar qvrf va n tehrfbzr synfu bs sver naq qrngu va guvf rcvfbqr qvqa'g qrgenpg sebz ubj tbbq vg jnf va gur raq. Lrf, gvzr geniry, gung qnatrebhf gbl, vf hfrq... ohg jr xarj sebz gur ortvaavat gung vg jnf pbzvat. Naq gung zrnaf jr xarj nalguvat ng nyy pbhyq unccra va gur bcravat npg. Naq obl, nalguvat ng nyy fher unccrarq. Gur pybfvat unys jnf avpryl qbar, jvgu Oneel gnxvat gur guernqf bs gebhoyr sebz gur svefg gvzr guebhtu naq svkvat ybgf bs gurz. I enjoyed this one.
  • Arrow: "Dark Waters" - Bu, sbe gung gb unir orra gur raq bs Qneux! Ohg lbh xabj gur ivyynva nyjnlf svaqf n jnl gb rfpncr, rira jvgu gjb neebjf va uvz naq n obzo tbvat bss arkg gb uvf urnq. Guvf rcvfbqr ernyyl uvg zr uneq, cnegvphyneyl gur thafuvc qebar ng gur ornpu. Gur fubpx bs frrvat xvqf, vapyhqvat n irel phgr "zvav-Sryvpvgl" nggnpxrq fb ivbyragyl npghnyyl znqr zr jnag gb fgbc jngpuvat sbe n ovg. Sbe fbzr ernfba, gung fprar jnf nyzbfg bire gur rqtr sbe zr. Gur cbvfba tnf jnf nyfb nyzbfg gbb zhpu. In fact, there were a lot of bits and pieces in this that really shocked me. A difficult episode to watch.

  • The Flash: "Gorilla Warfare" - Cbbe Tebqq. Guvf irefvba qvqa'g qrfreir uvf sngr naq qrsvavgryl qvqa'g qrfreir gb or fghpx hc nybar va gur jngpugbjre jbaqrevat jung gb qb jvgu uvzfrys. V'z unccl gurl tbg uvz gb Rnegu-2 Tbevyyn Pvgl, ohg V'z n yvggyr jbeevrq ng jung ur jvyy qb gurer. Fgvyy, guvf vfa'g gur znva QPH... znlor vg'yy ghea bhg bx? Decent little episode with the potential to come back and bite the heroes in the future.
  • The Flash: "Legends of Today" - Gur fcrrq sbezhyn... na nznmvat pnyyonpx gb gur Tbyqra Ntr, rira vs vg'f abg fbzrguvat fnvq (juvpu arire znqr n yvpx bs frafr) naq vafgrnq vf n frehz. Wnl vf fgvyy orvat n wrex. Gura jr'ir tbg Grnz Neebj naq Grnz Synfu gelvat gb cebgrpg Pvfpb'f tvey sebz Inaqny Fnintr. Awesome on just so many levels. A fun episode.
  • The Flash: "Running to Stand Still" - Znex Unzvyy nf Fnagn Pynhf vf bar bs gur sernxvrfg guvatf V'ir frra guvf lrne. Naq vg'f orra n sernxl lrne. Guvf jnf n qrprag rcvfbqr jvgu onq thlf pbzovavat gb xvyy Gur Synfu. Gura gurer'f n pbhcyr bs tbbq fhocybgf nf jryy... Jnyyl Jrfg orvat gur bar gung xvaq bs pyvss-unatf. Ohg Uneel'f nterrzrag jvgu Mbbz vf gur fpnel bar. Vs guvf Uneevfba Jryyf vf n tbbq thl, ur'f tbg gb or senagvpnyyl guvaxvat bs jnlf gb znxr Oneel tbbq rabhtu gb erfphr uvf qnhtugre. Vg'f abg tbvat gb or rnfl. Lots to think about with this one.



DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Oct 7th
  • Batman Beyond #5 - Freaky story. Seems to me the fight against Brother Eye would be over quickly in Gotham, so I'm not sure how much time Batman has to put whatever plan he's got into action.
  • Green Lantern #45 - Um, yay Hal? Really, there just isn't much to say about this.
  • Doctor Strange #1 - It certainly lives up to the "strange" in the title. The one thing for sure I can say about this book is that it really doesn't make being a magic user appealing at all.
  • This Damned Band #3 - Set in a French mansion/recording studio, this issue has the band confronting some of their demons. Sort of. Maybe? Well, probably not, because things just get worse. I love the comments from the camera crew.
  • CBLDF Liberty Annual 2015 - If you are easily offended, this is not something you want to try to read. I'm no longer easily offended, but there were some pieces in here that I felt went over the line from "making a point" to "tasteless for the heck of it." Which I guess is also a point to make. I did like it overall: the key to proper censorship is for the reader to say, "Oh, I don't like this," and skip to the next item rather than attempt to shut up the original creator/publisher. And I'm capable of jumping to the next item when I'm offended.
  • Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #1 - I don't know if this is the same as the original series' first issue, but it certainly is very familiar. I enjoyed this the first time around, I hope to enjoy it this time, too. I think there's an extra supplemental tale in here, as well.
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Oz: Reign of the Witch Queen #5 - There are moments I really like this book (although the clothing design for the women is often a major turn-off) and there are moments I just go, "huh?" I admit, the huh moments are more common than the enjoyable moments. But there's a good moment in this one for me, as Dorothy embraces the bad and something good happens.
  • Oct 14th
  • Justice League of America #4 - A single panel of Aquaman, four lines between him and Mera. Blah. The story itself isn't too bad, with the mystery of what Rao actually is coming to a head. But I need more Aquaman to be happy.
  • Justice League United #14 - Caught in an eddy of time, they are stuck in a moment or two. Lots of great characters showing up, but the plot is a bit overwhelmed by it all! I think once it ends I'll try to sort out what happened.
  • Earth 2 Society #5 - Jay is overwhelmed by being what he is, and quits? That's a choice for a superhero? Apparently not, as he gets dragged back into it. The identity of the villain was slightly unexpected, but I guess I buy it, considering the nature of the character in this universe.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #3 - Yay! More Mera! Ahem. This one has three distinct chapters, starting with the Bat, moving to the terror in Germany, then going to Wonder Woman and Mera meeting the war on land. I love this version of Mera, teasing Wonder Woman and protecting her dolphin friends. Great stuff.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #1 - A very strange first issue with a new status quo. It seems a little nasty that he's using his abilities to win a game show. I'm sure this won't turn out well.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern #4 - I was just sort of nodding along, slightly amused by this book, until the final page. I'm glad I'm familiar enough with the "new" Star Trek universe to know what that cliffhanger actually means.
  • Spongebob Comics #49 - This had a few odd bits even for this comic. As the Halloween issue, it was focused on the scary... as scary as Spongebob gets, which isn't very. Still, fun enough. I am amused and unsurprised by the fate of the various delivery boys. Ha.
  • Rebels #7 - A nice standalone issue featuring a woman who followed her husband into the Revolutionary War and what became of her later in life. The statement by the soldier as he left, that they couldn't make an exception, was definitely a comment on how women who fought were treated.
  • Oct 21st
  • Justice League #45 - I'm hoping this crossover ends soon, because I'm finding it completely boring. I'm glad Aquaman isn't involved in this snooze-fest.
  • Green Lantern: The Lost Army #5 - More of Lanterns in space. Prison break, new weapons... ongoing war. What next?
  • Titans Hunt #1 - So, are they remembering the original universe or something else? That's clearly Garth, so what's his deal in this universe?
  • Teen Titans Go #12 - Starfire wants to date, and Robin is jealous. Then anti-Titans run into Titans and there are some issues. A silly book, but cute.
  • Astro City #28 - The origin story of Wolfspider along with a more modern tale related to his past makes for excellent reading. As usual, one of the best of the super-hero books out there.
  • Tales of Honor: Bred to Kill #3 - Pretty good! More twists in the story and more developments. And we catch up to the opening, as well, so by the end we are moving into unexplored territory. Great stuff. This series is so much better than the first attempt it's not even funny. This is what happens when you allow your writers to actually write comics instead of illustrated text.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #149 - A very nice done-in-one story that had an utterly predictable ending. I found the premise all too believable... rich jerk spends too much on a worthless item. I thought Usagi's solution was perfect, if a tiny bit deceptive.
  • Back to the Future #1 - How did Marty meet Doc in the first place? The first story in this issue tells the tale, which is just as backwards as you might expect. The second story goes back to Doc's youth as a professor, and is cringe-worthy.
  • Doctor Who 9th #4 - Time agents? Much like Captain Jack is supposed to be? Interesting how they force the Doctor to do their work. What are they really up to? And what's up with Rose? What has she learned?
  • Doctor Who 10th Year Two #2 - This is a story that really needs some sound to bring out the best. I would love to hear this one as an audio drama. The solution was simple, but cool.
  • Doctor Who 11th Year Two #1 - Wow, this is a mess of a plot. Oh, it makes sense in context, but there's so much happening and so many strange bits... and that cliffhanger. Not a character I was expecting to see in this particular version, although I admit I'm kind of pleased to see him. There's a lot here to digest, and I'm guessing the next issue isn't going to be any easier.
  • Doctor Who 12th #13 - Hyperions invading Earth, and doing an all-too-good job of it. We get a nice origin story for the creatures, including the fact that they were originally a force for good. The next question is what the Doctor is going to do about it... his initial attempt seems a little misguided.
  • Oct 28th
  • Aquaman #45 - I still haven't quite figured out what is going on, but now it apparently involves other worlds. I liked this one better than the last couple of issues, but the art still looks wrong to me.
  • Batman '66 #28 - Scarecrow and Killer Croc. A fun issue with classic villains reimagined for the 1966 universe. Very nice.
  • Sinestro #16 - Oooh, Sinestro goes on a quest and visits Evil Shazam. I find Soranik's "crush" on Black Adam to be quite cute. I guess she does like bad boys.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #2 - Back in the saddle again after a terrorist attack. I'm not sure I like that he decided to quit in the first place, but I know I don't like how he's been brought back.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

Week in Review

Things are changing at work, and that's had a knock-on effect of causing a great deal of stress in the lives of most folks in the office. This, in turn, has led to me "shutting down" when I'm not at work. In short, I don't allow myself to think when I'm not at work, which limits what I can do outside work. Add in a nasty virus, and the last few weeks have been less than pleasant for me.

Things are sort of evening out... or at least I'm getting more used to the stress. I'm not sure which. So this past week I've felt like I'm coming out of a fog.

I'm not sure I can catch up with events, despite wanting to tell everyone how things have been going and the strange events that happen. For example, I got a reflective vest, had the word "MEDIA" printed on the back of it ($7 and 10 minutes at the local print shop)... and the very next day I followed a car chase and caught images of the perp being arrested by officers while wearing the vest for the first time.

I also nearly started a riot at a middle school, for which I am terribly sorry. I wanted to get a shot of some kids throwing balls at a particular teacher during a dodgeball tournament, but all the kids wanted to join in because the guy joined a team and threw the balls so hard that kids were knocked down when he hit them. Kids being kids, they ignored my instructions and went crazy and mobbed the poor man. I will never, ever do that again. And I didn't even get the shot.

We changed the way we do mileage to the standard method of recording start and end mileage as on the car's odometer. To make it really easy for me, I'm just writing down the mileage every single time I stop the car, whether I'm working or not. The upside is that I've got a detailed log of how much I've driven, and where I've gone. I did have to switch from a pen to a pencil because the ink kept freezing.

Snow in the Lower Valley meant a meeting I was scheduled to go to Thursday night was canceled. I heard the publisher talking about how there were still open seats at the local theater for Star Wars. After consulting with Eric, I bought tickets and we went to the 7 p.m. showing (about the time I would have been leaving the meeting!). Amusingly, when we got into the theater I looked for the perfect seat, about halfway up and in the middle. My publisher was sitting right there. So I sat next to him. Can't avoid my boss, even at the movies!

I'm still doing the usual writing. I sometimes have to cringe when I read my own writing. Bob was a fantastic copy editor who made everything I wrote stronger. We no longer have Bob as the safety net... and I feel my writing is still working its way up to how good it was when he edited it. The new publisher/editor also has different ideas that will make my writing much stronger, but it's very hard to adjust. At times I feel like I'm just setting up targets and having them shot down before I can even get them all up. I think I do something well, then I'm told by the way, this is a poor writing habit you need to break.

If I survive, I'm going to be a great writer. But I'm still not sure if I'm going to survive this process.

Anyway, I apologize for the lack of content here. I'm afraid my priorities go first to mental health, and that means turning off when I'm not at work.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Keep Looking Up! (Dec 7th through 13th)

An extremely aggressive privacy add-on shut down the videos for me. I think I've fixed the problem on my end. If the videos don't show on your computer, it might be a blocker of some sort.



Monday, December 07, 2015

Keep Looking Up?

The videos, sadly, are currently down... so I can't really do anything more than link to the page of the current week. As soon as they fix the problem, I'll try to embed them again.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

A Sunday Review

Recent television:

  • Supergirl: "Livewire" - V'z fbeel, Png vfa'g fghcvq. Naq fur cnlf pybfre nggragvba guna fur yrgf ba. V'z nofbyhgryl fher fur'f svtherq bhg jub Fhcretvey vf ol abj, nygubhtu fur'f irel yvxryl gb xrrc vg gb urefrys. Xabjyrqtr gung bgure crbcyr qba'g xabj lbh unir vf cbjre, nsgre nyy. That said, let's move into the episode... I didn't expect Livewire to work in live action as well as she did in the cartoon, but she's actually pretty good here. I knew how Kara was going to take her out, just based on the past of the character. Good episode.
  • Supergirl: "How Does She Do It?" - Bhg bs beqre rcvfbqrf znqr gur Wnzrf/Yhpl eryngvbafuvc n yvggyr fgenatr orgjrra guvf naq gur cerivbhf rcvfbqr. Gur obzovatf va guvf bar zrnag gurl qrynlrq nvevat vg qhr gb gur Cnevf nggnpxf. Gurl znlor fubhyq unir qrynlrq vg gb znxr vg zber vagrerfgvat. Birenyy, n eryngviryl obevat rcvfbqr. Jr zrrg Png'f fba, jub vfa'g arneyl nf vagrerfgvat nf Png. Naq jr yrnea zber nobhg Znkjryy Ybeq, jub vf pyrneyl urnqrq gbjneq n yvsr bs ivyynval. Eh, not bad. But it lacked spark.
  • Supergirl: "Red Faced" - Yrg zr znxr guvf pyrne, vs V jrer n xvq va n fpubby mbar gung jnf whfg fnirq ol Fhcretvey, jub gura vf nggnpxrq ol n ebnq entvat qevire... V jbhyq abg or va gur fyvtugrfg hcfrg gung fur "uheg" gur ebnq-entre. Fur qvq ABG tb gbb sne. Gur thl chapurq ure. Vs fur'q chg n svfg guebhtu uvf purfg, gung jbhyq'ir orra gbb sne. Fur qvqa'g rira oernx uvf nez, juvpu ur qrfreirq. Gung bcravat whfg tbg zr ernyyl naablrq ng gur jevgref. V jbhyq or purrevat Fhcretvey... fur whfg fnirq zl yvsr sebz gung thl, nsgre nyy. Trareny Ynar jnf ernyyl fhpxl, nf hfhny. Ubj qvq fhpu n pyhryrff zna unir gjb fzneg tveyf? Gur orfg cneg bs gur rcvfbqr jnf cebonoyl Xnen svanyyl rkcybqvat ng Png naq ubj Png rkcynvaf natre. Irel vagrerfgvat fghss ba gur qvssrerapr orgjrra orvat n jbzna va ohfvarff naq orvat n zna. Fghss jbzra unir gb yvir jvgu pbafgnagyl, ohg zbfg zra ner hggreyl pyhryrff nobhg. A pretty good episode.

  • Gotham: "A Bitter Pill to Swallow" - Zl svefg gubhtug ba frrvat Zvpuryyr Tbzrm jnf gung fur vf cynlvat na rneyl irefvba bs Ebhyrggr, onfrq ba gur tnzvat ebbz naq gur nggvghqr. Gur rcvfbqr vgfrys jnf irel ivbyrag rira sbe guvf fubj, jvgu bar uvgzna gung vf whfg tebff. Bs pbhefr, gung jnf gur cbvag. V guvax gur Crathva/Evqqyre guvat vf trggvat sne zber vagrerfgvat. Not my favorite episode, but it moved the plots along nicely.
  • Gotham: "The Son of Gotham" - Nf Wvz jbaqref nobhg yrnivat n uvgzna nyvir, Oehpr trgf cebbs gung Fvyire vf nf onq nf ure hapyr. V sbhaq gur vqragvgl bs gur xvyyre gb or irel vagrerfgvat, nf "Z. Znybar" frrzf irel fvzvyne gb na nygre-rtb bs gur Ongzna uvzfrys. Rirelbar fnj Tnynina trggvat bhg bs wnvy pbzvat, fb gung jnfa'g n fhecevfr... ohg V jnf n yvggyr fubpxrq gung Wvz jbhyq chapu uvz. This ended on a good cliffhanger.
  • Gotham: "Worse Than A Crime" - Naq rirelguvat svanyyl pbzrf gb gur svany zbzragf nf Oehpr vf nobhg gb or fnpevsvprq. V yvxrq Fvyire svanyyl gryyvat Oehpr gur pbzcyrgr gehgu, naq Oehpr gnxvat nqinagntr bs gung gb frg hc n cbffvoyr rfpncr. Ur shyyl rkcrpgrq Fvyire gb fgbc gur cebprrqvatf, naq vs jung ur fnvq gb Nyserq naq Fryvan vf gehr, ur unq n cyna gb rfpncr sebz gurer. V ybirq ubj nyy gur tbbq thlf chyyrq gbtrgure jvgu gur onq thlf gb erfphr Oehpr... cnegvphyneyl Yhpvhf Sbk, jub jnf ybiryl jura ur fgnegyrq Altzn. Vg jnf qrcerffvat gb frr Wvz tbvat rira shegure gb gur qnex fvqr jvgu Crathva ba guvf bar, ohg vg jnfa'g harkcrpgrq. Ubj pna Tbeqba cbffvoyl or erqrrzrq sebz guvf? This is a very dark and violent series, but I'm finding it oddly compelling.

  • Doctor Who: "Face the Raven" - V'z tbvat gb nqzvg gung V'ir arire orra n ovt Pynen sna, abe qb V qvfyvxr ure yvxr fbzr snaf. Fur'f n punenpgre, naq V'z fbzrgvzrf vagrerfgrq va ure naq fbzrgvzrf oberq ol ure... whfg yvxr nal. Gung fnvq, guvf jnf n ernyyl fghcvq qrngu pnhfrq ol gur Qbpgbe nyybjvat Pynen gb trg frevbhfyl erpxyrff. Vg jnf terng gb frr Evtfl, ohg Pynen fubhyq unir nfxrq fbzrobql n ovg zber nobhg gur phefr orsber gnxvat vg ba. Qhzo qhzo qhzo. Gur npghny qrngu jnfa'g gbb onq, ohg gur riragf yrnqvat hc gb vg jrer whfg pevatrjbegul guebhtu naq guebhtu. Nqq va "Zr" naq ure hapregnva nyyrtvnaprf naq this episode was a mixed bag for me.
  • Doctor Who: "Heaven Sent" - I won't say this episode was perfect, but it was a heckuva lot better than just about every other episode this year. Gur ynpx bs Pynen urycrq... ure fznyy nccrnenaprf jbexrq va pbagrkg. Ohg vg'f gur Qbpgbe qbvat jung ur qbrf orfg: snpvat bss zbafgref naq svthevat guvatf bhg. Vg jnf ornhgvshyyl svyzrq, fbzrguvat juvpu unq gb or cbvagrq bhg gb zr, ohg bapr V jrag onpx naq ybbxrq V jnf vzcerffrq. Gur raqvat fgnegyrq zr, ohg V jnf cyrnfrq. Definitely the best of the season.
  • Doctor Who: "Hell Bent" - Oh for goodness sake. V'yy fnl V qvqa'g ungr guvf rcvfbqr, ohg V sbhaq ovgf bs vg rkgerzryl uneq gb fjnyybj. Pynen vf tvira gur snyfr vzcerffvba gung gur Qbpgbe fcrag 4.5 ovyyvba pbafrphgvir lrnef svtugvat sbe ure, ohg vg jnf va puhaxf. V nyfb svaq vg irel uneq gb oryvrir gur Qbpgbe jbhyq xvyy nalbar, rira n Gvzr Ybeq, va pbyq oybbq gb fnir fbzrbar jub vf nyernql qrnq. Nyfb, "Zr" jnf naablvat. V qvfyvxr gur punenpgre zber naq zber. Vs vg jnf gung rnfl gb znxr fhpu n qhenoyr vzzbegny, lbh jbhyq guvax fur jbhyqa'g or gur bayl Zver/Uhzna uloevq ehaavat nebhaq. Gur snpg gung HAVG unq n Zver uryzrg va gur oynpx nepuvir znxrf zr jbaqre nobhg vg rira zber. Ure rkvfgrapr vf veevgngvat, ohg fur npghnyyl vfa'g dhvgr nf naablvat va guvf fgbel. Gurer jrer guerr crbcyr shysvyyvat gur cebcurpl, fgnaqvat va gur ehvaf bs Tnyyvserl juvyr gvzr haeniryrq nebhaq gurz. Fur jnf bar bs gurz. Nabgure GNEQVF ehaavat nebhaq jvgu nqiragheref... zber ybbfr fgevatf. Ubj znal gvzr geniryvat erartnqrf ner gurer va gur QJ havirefr, vtabevat gur Gvzr Jne jvcvat bhg fb znal? I didn't hate this, I just found it problematic in many ways.
I've also watched a little bit of Arrow and The Flash, but I'm going to wait until we're caught up before I review those.



DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Sep 16th
  • Green Lantern: The Lost Army #4 - This doesn't feel like it advances the story all that much, although it does seem to me like every drama has the main character get captured in order to learn more information, so I guess we'll take it like that.
  • UFOlogy #5 - Everything is coming together into a finale, and this issue has a lot of the answers I've been wondering at, including a couple of flashbacks that pretty much clear up how the story started. Now I just wonder how it's going to finish.
  • Fiction #4 - I'm not sure how much I understand of this book. Perhaps reading the whole thing in one sitting would make a difference.
  • Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror #21 - As usual, if you are a Simpsons fan, you'll probably enjoy this. If not, why would you get it anyway? The first story is a take on Gremlins featuring Apu, while the second tale is a take on Left Behind that I've never seen, but found hilarious. The final story riffs on Metropolis, and also has its moments. Heck, there's an Oz reference in the final story, so Eric was happy. This is the 21st annual issue of this book... it could legally drink now.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #148 - Wow. This is a really good issue of an always great book. Usagi meets a one-handed swordsman, who tells his story. As always, there are bits and pieces that have meaning later in the story. It's also great to see the bandits in the beginning and notice how they signal one another. Good stuff, worth multiple rereads.
  • Sep 23rd
  • Harley Quinn & Power Girl #4 - I kind of want a caticorn. Harley is hilarious in this, while Power Girl plays it straight and therefore makes Harley even funnier. Vartox, in the meantime, was funniest when he got nekked. This has been a really funny if disturbing series. I think it's nearly done.
  • Sinestro #15 - I absolutely despise the new Lobo, to the degree of just thinking he's a waste of ink. That said, I was curious what Sinestro wants with Walker. And I was getting on the hope, too, like Walker. Until that final page... like Walker. Sinestro has the potential to be a beneficial dictator, but he attracts trouble to where he lives, so I'm not sure those folks are going to be better off even after he terraforms their planet.
  • Batman '66 #27 - The memorial to Yvonne Craig on the final page is classy. As for the rest, lots of fun with Bane. I'm amused by the Riddler's involvement with him. The silly attempt of the commissioner and O'Hara to infiltrate Bane's hometown was also fun, if stupid. Overall, excellent issue.
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #12 - So many jokes. So many puns. So incredibly amusing. I'm loving this book in general, and this was a particularly funny issue.
  • Astro City #27 - This issue was amazingly cute. I mean, amazingly. The concept was great, the execution wonderful. I didn't even mind the change of artist, mostly. This was a heckuva origin story and one that I think I'll read again. This was just great, and I'm not even much of a fan of the chibi style.
  • Oddly Normal #10 - Disappointed that this is the last single issue of this book that'll be out, but it's nice it will be continuing as trades. I just have to remember to get it! This was fun, with the school bus and the teacher comments merging with the storyline. But there wasn't a lot of story here, mostly set-up for the future. It'll be May before I get more of Oddly!
  • Doctor Who 2015: Four Doctors #5 - That was a really odd and twisty mini-series, with a lot of timey-wimey stuff. I loved the cameo at the end. Lots of fun in this one, but very hard to follow.
  • Sep 30th
  • Aquaman #44 - Wow. At least Aquaman knows what's happening now. I'm not sure what else to say about this, except we get a rather entertainingly framed info-dump. And there's a lovely cliffhanger, too.
  • Green Lantern Annual #4 - We start to get an answer to what really happened, then it goes away. This was a frustrating issue of more and more set up, and not a whole lot of story. Even the tantalizing bits were just teases.
  • Justice League #44 - Still no Aquaman in this book. Still no interest in this plotline at all. I don't care how much it effects the DCU in the future, without Aquaman, I'm bored.
  • Wonder Woman '77 Special #2 - Three solid little stories in here, the first featuring Cheetah, the second a new villainess, and the third was a surprise: Solomon Grundy. Lots of neat original writing with fun plots and cool twists, along with that classic feel-good superhero. There was one single flat point for me. Doctor Minerva was upset she had to clean up her exhibition... but museums change displays constantly. She would know she'd get the space back in awhile, so it just seems odd to me that it would upset her so much.
  • Doctor Who 10th Year Two #1 - I just want to note that all the Doctor Who titles are getting confusing, especially the ones that are now in "year two" so I end up saying, "Doctor Who 10-2-1" when I'm referring to them. Anyway... this issue is pretty good. I already liked Gabby, and having her basically figure out the problem was cool. The world that was created for this issue was also really neat. I'm enjoying it a lot and can hardly wait for part two.
  • Doctor Who 12th #12 - Ok, that was a creepy start. And a creepy middle. And I'm not sure, but I'm kind of creeped out by the end, too. Not that it was an actual end, mind, just a cliffhanger. Funny, the bits about sleeping considering a recent episode of the show itself. The mini-comic in the back was amusing as well.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency #4 - I guess I'm a little better able to figure out this book now, all the plotlines are pulling together and meeting in the same place. But I'm still a bit "meh" on the whole thing.