Friday, October 20, 2017

My Sister's Birthday!

Yesterday, Inkwell and I set off across the mountains to visit my family in the ancestral home in Renton. My sister's birthday is today, and I planned to spend it with her.

As many of you know, Inkwell the cat does not travel willingly, and he got a little suspicious on Wednesday when I cleaned up and closed off the guest room, then packed a bag. On Thursday he hid for a bit until I fed him, then tried to keep an eye on me while being ready to hide as I got ready to travel. I quietly closed all the doors upstairs to cut off his potential hiding spaces, and when I got out the carrier he did what I expected and bolted for the stairs - only to find the bedrooms and the nice hiding places under the beds cut off. I caught him as he came back down the stairs, and the look he gave me is not one I will soon forget.

He settled down quickly once in the car, especially after I pulled the towel over his carrier. Along the way I only stopped twice to rest, and checked on him both times. A little unsettled, but he wasn't too upset. Once at our destination he almost couldn't wait to get out of the carrier, throwing my balance off as I hauled him up the hill to my parents' front door. Once inside, I opened the carrier immediately and he darted out, pleased to find himself in the big house he loves.

My sister arrived home later that night from a work site in Oregon, and we had dinner together and caught up. Her first choice of destination for her birthday turned out to be closed for the winter, so she suggested the Underground Tour in Seattle, and I enthusiastically agreed, since I have lived in the Seattle area most of my life but had never been on the tour.

The next morning we got ready to go and Inkwell hid, afraid to be caught and stuffed back into his carrier. He was still a bit worried when Lisa and I left.

We got downtown before 11 a.m. and parked in a garage, then as we started the walk to Pioneer Square we spotted a fellow selling the Real Change newspaper and pulled out the $2 to buy one. He looked at us and said, "Wait, you're sisters, right?" We nodded, and he looked back and forth between us, carefully, then pointed at Lisa and said, "You're the younger one!" We laughed and confirmed it, then I said, "Yeah, and it's her birthday!" Immediately he said he had a gift, and sang a beautiful rendition of "Happy Birthday" for her, right there on the sidewalk. It was great.

We thanked him and headed down to the tour, with Lisa quickly learning that I cannot walk quite as fast as she can. Once there, we learned the 11 am tour was sold out and they were selling tickets to the noon tour. We bought them, and, with about 45 minutes to spare, headed out to first get some Cow Chip Cookies, then visited Magic Mouse Toys, a place my husband worked at some years ago, while he was still in high school.

We got back to the Tour spot a little early and I read Real Change while waiting for the tour to start. We were called down to the theater and listened to a nifty 15 minute tale of the early days of Seattle to start the tour.

Now, I knew most of the information in the tour. Like I said, I've lived in Seattle a long time, and I paid attention to the history because, frankly, it's hilarious. But there were some great tidbits I didn't know for sure. Like Yesler becoming mayor and suing the city over his taxes, then settling out of court with himself. And everyone who grew up here knows about the Denny regrade, but I didn't realize just how they did it to not cover the sidewalks. In short, it was fun, punny and informative.

Then we split into smaller groups to go on the tour itself. There were a lot of people in each group. It turned out that there was a cruise in town and a lot of people from the cruise were doing the tour.

I hadn't realized that the tour goes outside and aboveground, then heads down into different sections. I think we went up or down stairs at least 10 times, maybe more, and crossed a lot of heavily trafficked streets. Each time we emerged it was wonderful to come up into cool air - by the end of the tour I'd taken off my coat and didn't need it at all walking back to the car.


The tour group looks at an old photo of Seattle before the fire and learns about the dangers of flushing toilets at high tide.

The tour started in a small gallery with a photo of Seattle before the fire, when the toilets were such a big problem that a person was almost risking their life if they flushed at high tide. The group then moved to a corner spot underneath a set of purple tiles, which we learned were original skylights that had kept the underground usable in a time before electric lights were practical. The tour guide actually turned out the lights so we could see how much light the now grungy tiles provided, and it was actually quite nice.


Skylights!

The tour guide also told us about the teller's ghost in that area - a young man shot in his teller's cage while reaching to for the keys to give them to the robbers so he wouldn't get shot. They apparently misinterpreted his move as reaching for a gun. The guide said he'd never seen a ghost in all the time he'd been working in the Underground, and he's been there since 1879. That is, indeed, the level of the jokes on the tour.


The ghost of a man shot inside the teller's cage is said to haunt this area.

The city was originally built on what were basically tide flats, and flooded frequently. Particularly the sewage pipes. The problems were bad and getting worse when the city burned down. Most businesses wanted to immediately rebuild, for obvious reasons, but were told to have entrances on the second floor of the building. But for a time, folks still used the ground floor of the buildings - and because the sewage problems were no better, the toilets were usually up on platforms.


A crapper device on a platform in the underground.

The guide also showed us an image of the building we were in, and showed how the building originally looked, before the streets were all raised to the second story and filled with dirt from Denny Hill.


Our guide Thad shows where the street is now on the Korn Building

After the streets were raised, people were still using the sidewalks that were now, sort of, below ground. This is because the city owned the streets while the sidewalks belonged to the buildings. The city provided ladders for people to climb up at each corner to get up to street level to cross streets. As you can imagine, this was not an ideal situation. Eventually, the sidewalks were covered with a series of Roman arches supported at the base with metal beams.


Roman arches supported by I-beams covered the "sunken" sidewalks.

The beams and the arches have withstood earthquakes and such better than the upper levels of Pioneer Square.

The underground sidewalks remained in use until an explosion of the rat population encouraged the city to shut them down and seal them off. Of course, not everything got sealed - some businesses continued to use their areas. And the sidewalks no longer connect around every block as they once did. In the 1960s, Bill Speidel started a crusade to save the underground part of Seattle's history and created the tour we went on. My mother apparently went on the tour only a couple of years after it opened.

The tour lasted about 90 minutes, and Lisa and I were tired from all the walking. We headed to her office to pick up a couple of things she needs when she heads back to her work site, and then headed back to Renton, stopping only long enough to get a light meal from Taco Time. Once home, Inkwell greeted us with much sniffing of the shoes and cautious optimism that he didn't have to deal with any travel. We had a family meal with four of the seven siblings and a spouse along with my mother and father, making us seven around the table. Inkwell was overwhelmed with all the scary, loud humans.

After dinner and cake, Lisa and I started to work on a puzzle. Then she went out with our brother-in-law to catch Pokemon while I came up here to write this...

...and now I think I will get a nice glass of chocolate milk and head to bed, since I'm wiped - yet again.

Monday, October 16, 2017

An Imaginary Conversation Between Inkwell and Myself

"Hey, mom, I can smell some food. Can I have some?" Inkwell slinks under my chair and then around my table and looks up at me with wistful eyes.

"I'm eating, leave me alone." I say, stuffing my face.

"No, seriously, I can smell something. Let me try it!" Inkwell attempts to jump into my lap but fails due to strategically placed hand at the right moment.

"MMMffphh, mmm meedgph." I say, with my mouth full.

"At least let me sniff it!" Inkwell says, attempting again to climb onto the chair.

"No! I'm nearly done and you wouldn't like it anyway."

"Let me be the judge of that!" Inkwell whines, making sad mewling noises as he stalks around, looking for a way to the food.

I finish up, and look at the hopeful cat. "You really wouldn't like this. It's just veggies and rice." He gives me 'the stare'. I sigh.

I put the bowl down next to him and he eagerly leans forward ---

---only to jump back in disgust after getting a good whiff of the sweet and sour sauce.

"WHAT IS THIS JOKE, MOMMY!??" he meowls. "WHERE'S THE REAL FOOD! YOU MUST HAVE REAL FOOD!!!"

"I told you you wouldn't like it," I say, picking up the bowl and starting down the stairs. He walks along beside me and meows when we get to the kitchen.

I put the bowl in the sink and start back up the stairs. A moment later there is 16 pounds of annoyed cat rushing into my ankle.

Failing to make me fall, the cat then spent the next 20 minutes running at top speed around the house while I calmly got back to my computer. Now he's at the doorway of the room, sulking.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Various Bits and Bobs from the last few weeks

Whew. With my internet problems solved, my life got a lot easier. I get through my morning 'netting much faster when I'm not being interrupted by the internet failing every ten minutes or so.

I've been doing some stuff recently, but I have mostly been posting about it all on Facebook, because it's easier than writing out a blog post for whatever reason. Still, I owe it to my couple of readers to let them know what I've been up to...

In September I went to Adam West Day in Walla Walla, and I wrote a decent article about it for File 770. At least, I think it's a decent article. I meant to write a more personal account and post it here, but my old problems resurfaced and I'm not sure I'll ever finish it. At the very least, check out the article and enjoy me slightly professional write-up of events.



--

Just yesterday I received my prizes for the History Goes Bump flash fiction contest. I came in third place, which was lovely. You can listen to the episode by clicking here. If you only want to hear my story, it starts about 24 and a half minutes in.

My prizes were a medal and a t-shirt, which I adore. I also got a couple of awesome History Goes Bump stickers.

In addition to the story I wrote for the contest, my brain pumped out three more not-very-horrific stories as well, which I'm willing to share if people are at all interested. Considering the lack of response to my previous posting of fiction, I feel that's not likely.

--



In addition to winning a contest for my actual writing, I also won a sweepstakes prize of $50 at Spirit Halloween, which I promptly spent on my first ever animatronic, a sound-activated skeleton. Hubby-Eric and I tested it by screaming at it and having it scream back. Then Eric forgot I turned it off and kept screaming at it, which really amused me.

I also got a Haunted Manor Greeter, which is a doorbell set that little kids at our porch at likely to get a kick out of, as there will be a ton of them, I'm sure. If it doesn't drive us crazy first.

I filled out my order with a Hand Held Candelabra which was unfortunately broken on arrival. When I contacted the company for support, they were less than helpful. I'm much less likely to buy from them again. As it happened, I spent a little money on Crazy Glue and some time with a file and managed to fix the main problem with the candle, making it usable. There are other issues with it that make me think the quality control on the thing is non-existent.

--

Anyway, that's been the big events of life. I've also had some bouts of insomnia and an ankle that didn't want to work properly. I also joined a study on depression, and part of the study was a DNA test. I got the results from the test back and am about as white as it's possible to be, I guess. That's sort of depressing on its own, as I'd rather be a mutt. Oh, I'm also looking forward to the Justice League movie and seeing this new interpretation of Aquaman. And if you really want to see my political rantings, I keep those on Facebook and Twitter for the most part, now.

Monday, October 09, 2017

And now...?

After Saturday's net test, I waited until this morning to text the Centurylink Tech who has been working on my problem. He said he'd be over as soon as he could make it to take another look - this time NOT inside my house. Adding urgency and worry to his life, the network tool he uses to see if an individual line was working apparently couldn't find my line at all.

Well, about 20 minutes ago he pried open the box that has the drop to my house - where the line splits off. He found a badly damaged wire inside and fixed it, then called me to ask if my net was working. As I'd given up on it, I had to open up my computers again and check, and we chatted about the damage while I ran a speed test and checked the modem's reporting.

My net is about as fast as it's ever been since we moved in here.

The modem shows all the various bits and bobs ActionTec told me to look at are within the perfect parameters.

And since he left, knock on wood, the net hasn't gone down. It was failing so much this morning I literally gave up on getting anything done on the computer.

The tech said the line "looked like it was hit by lightning" and was all blackened and burned. As the line itself is inside a box and the box is mostly underground, I'm not sure how that happened. But I'm SO glad we have an answer and I really hope this was the problem all along and it doesn't happen again.

I'm feeling giddy with relief now. Thank you Centurylink Tech who's name I won't mention here, but I shall definitely tell Centurylink that he's the best and needs a raise.

Update: About five hours later, and the net hasn't gone down at all in that time. I tweeted a message to Centurylink support with the tech's name and told them he needs a raise since he fixed a problem that we've been having since July. About four months of this - although due to the intermittent nature it was sometimes just fine.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Ongoing, Annoying Internet Problems

Since July, Hubby-Eric and I have been having problems with our Centurylink internet connection. It will "drop out" frequently, disconnecting us from whatever chatline, game, or website we are using. Most of the disconnects last about 90 seconds, then our ActionTec C1000A modem will reconnect and we can get on with it. For me, it means I can barely play my DCUO game, because it disconnects me each time.

After it started happening, I assumed the modem was dying and purchased a new one. An ActionTec GT784WN - because it was the most inexpensive that could handle the job and we are in financial straits. Right after it arrived, the 'net started to behave and we had a couple of weeks of peaceful bliss. Then the problems started again.

I switched out the modems, only to find the new problem happened on the new modem. Worse, the new modem couldn't recover itself from a drop out - I had to physically get up and turn the modem off then on again to get it to reset. I couldn't even reboot it from my computer, it would just freeze.

During the outages, I called Centurylink MANY times. A couple of times I got people who knew what they were talking about, mostly I got people who asked if I'd rebooted the modem in a bored voice and apologized when they couldn't help. Finally, I decided the cord to the modem might be the issue and bought a new cord.

Nope. Didn't help.

I started some ping logging so I could "see" the problem. Here's a typical outage:

Sun 09/24/2017 14:58:57.52 "Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=20ms TTL=58"
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:02.66 "Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=21ms TTL=58"
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:11.62 "Request timed out."
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:20.62 "Request timed out."
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:28.23 "Reply from 67.232.70.6: Destination host unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:37.12 "Request timed out."
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:42.26 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:47.40 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:52.54 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 14:59:57.69 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 15:00:02.82 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 15:00:07.95 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 15:00:13.08 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 15:00:18.22 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 15:00:23.36 "Reply from 192.168.0.1: Destination net unreachable."
Sun 09/24/2017 15:00:28.51 "Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=28ms TTL=58"
Sun 09/24/2017 15:00:33.67 "Reply from 8.8.8.8: bytes=32 time=26ms TTL=58"
So I scheduled a tech to come out. He fiddled with the cords and the outlets and was unable to find a problem. Typically, the 'net behaved perfectly while he was there. He suggested an adjustment to help the cord fit more securely in a wall socket and declared the problem solved.

It wasn't.

He came out again after I attempted to escalate the problem to someone higher up at Centurylink. Again, we couldn't find a problem, but he believed me that there was one. He tried some things inside the house, but nothing helped. He did determine that my speeds were WAY lower than they ought to be, and figured out how to fix that problem. Of course, I care more about a steady connection than higher speeds, since higher speeds are useless with a crappy connection, but at least it's something, right?

I decided that there was a chance both the modems from ActionTec were crap, so I contacted Actiontec and asked them for help. I specifically said I wanted to know how to troubleshoot my line, and that I'd had my ISP out to my house a couple of times. Here's the response:

In your Address Bar, where you would normally type a website, erase everything. Then type in the numbers 192.168.0.1 and hit enter.

Log into your modem, click the status link and on your left, click on WAN status.

In the Broadband settings, check for Near and Far End CRC and Near and Far End RS-FEC Errors Interleave.

These should all have a ZERO to the right. If there are higher numbers here, you have a bad DSL connection and the modem is picking up errors on the line. The higher the error counts are, the more chance you will be disconnected.

Check the SNR margin too. This should be 11db to 29db for a good connection. Less than 6db and your modem WILL be disconnected.

Check the Attenuation. This should be 20db to 30db. Higher than 30db and your modem WILL be disconnected.

These all indicate issues with the DSL line or your phone wiring in your home.

Make sure you have no splitters or filters connected to your wall phone jack outlet to the modem.

Make sure your phone cord is between 6 and 12 feet long, no longer.

You may need to contact your ISP to have them check the lines at your house.

This has a little bit of new information in it. Of course, I already knew how to log into my modem, but most of the status information was meaningless to me. Heck, even with this advice, it still is meaningless, but at least I know what to look for. So, the Near End CRC Errors Interleave was not zero - it has a number. First sign that something is wrong. SNR Margin? 8 & 9 - but I need at least 11 for a good connection and if it drops to 6, I'm disconnected. Hmm. Attenuation? 33 - although I'm still connected.


I have no splitters or filters, the cord is the correct length.

I decided to check the older modem, and the results were exactly the same. So, that rules out the modem. I switched out the cords. Same problem.

That means the next step is to go outside and check the test line coming into the house. Sadly, I could not manage it alone. It's a simple enough procedure, but I needed Eric to pull it off. This morning we did the test, and here are the results:


I could be wrong, but those appear to be pretty much the same as the inside problems, which suggests the problem isn't inside my house, it's the line to my house.

Now, how on earth do I convince Centurylink of that?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Insomnia

I used to not suffer from insomnia. That was hubby-Eric's problem. But now I have it almost every night.

For Inkwell, my insomnia is a huge gift.

Take last night as an example. I went to bed about 10pm, but couldn't sleep and after an hour of tossing and turning I got up and went across the landing to my room to play on my computer. I closed the door most of the way so if hubby-Eric woke the light wouldn't bother him. Naturally, Inkwell came over and opened the door to check on me. Oh well.

After a couple of hours I was feeling tired enough to try to go back to sleep, so I picked up the tiny flashlight/laser pointer from my desk and headed to the bathroom at the top of the landing. After taking care of business, I turned off the light and opened the bathroom door to let my eyes adjust... and spotted a little black shadow right outside the door. I flicked on the flashlight long enough to confirm it was Inkwell the black cat and to see that he had no interest in me at all, but was watching the floor.

He knew I had the laser pointer.

So, being a good cat mommy, at 1am or so I let the laser play all over the landing as Inkwell chased it joyfully. I'm not really sure how long I played with him, but eventually I was too tired to continue and so headed into the bedroom to go back to sleep. I heard one last "mrrrp?" of protest as I hung up my robe and headed for the bed.

While this isn't the exact sequence of events for every night, when I have insomnia there seems to be a better than even chance of me playing lasers with Inky.

Of course, after being up late/early, Inkwell has no problem whatsoever with waking his mommy by tapping her nose in the morning. For some reason, tapping my nose triggers a bladder response in me, and when Inky does it I generally have to get up to use the bathroom. At which point I'm awake and can listen to him explaining in lots of meowing mouth noises why I ought to feed him.

I believe the cat has trained me well.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Sunday Comic Books Review

DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 3rd
  • Aquaman #22 - Ha. Mera had the same thought, and same complaint, as I do. Why blow it up when you can talk? Ok, I admit, there wasn't a lot of time to act in this case, but destroying the portal seemed a bit extreme in the end. If Aquaman had convinced Tethys to stop the signal, I'm sure he could have found another way to dispose of the mini-nuke. Mera is completely in the right on this one.
  • Justice League #20 - Groundhog Day with the Flash in the lead role. For a guy who moves as quick as he does, it sure seems like he's figuring this one out really slowly. And having the league barge in like they did really doesn't reflect well on them - especially since it appears they are at fault. Not horrible, but not very good, either.
  • Green Lanterns #22 - And we get into the space stuff. I'm just not a big fan of the space stuff. Somehow the GL Corps just takes all the sensawonda out of it. This book is no exception - with the earthbound pair getting introduced properly to the corps while their pet not-a-guardian becomes a real threat. Are we going to get the inevitably boring training montage next?
  • DC Comics Bombshells #26 - The first half of the book is a song of endings, then we get right back into the action with a tale of Kara's attempts to return home. I've never been a big fan of songs in comic books because there is no way to hear the melody. This issue hits my annoyance right in the kisser - I don't mind that there is music but I'm terribly upset that I cannot hear it. Still, it is a nice way to wrap up the main storyline, and if it were an animated series it would no doubt be perfect.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #23 - I'm not really sure what was happening right at the end there, but it sure seems bad enough. Nasty toxin, multiple spideys *and* people from the future. I'm just wondering exactly what happened to Tempest.
  • Back To The Future: Biff to the Future #4 - I know this is an alternate timeline, but wow it's depressing. And since I already know the outcome of some of these plotlines, it's even more depressing. Still, interesting to see how it all happened. Or didn't, as the case may be.
  • Doctor Who Ghost Stories #2 - Back on familiar ground, sort of. I wasn't expecting that cliffhanger, but then, apparently the Doctor wasn't either. An ok issue with a big ol' infodump in the middle - nothing special but not bad.
  • May 10th
  • Titans #11 - Enter Deathstroke. I don't have a good grip on this part of the Titans' storyline, but I'll follow along as best I can. Garth gets to look silly in this one, which isn't my favorite moment. The fact that the universe has been altered is once again driven home in this issue, and I know we're going to see who and perhaps even why soon enough - which just makes me want to catch up to the current books faster. There's a lot in this issue to unpack, and I'm going to have to read it again.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern V2 #6 - A decent end to this series, which is itself the second series set in this particular universe. One nice touch - Kirk is a little disturbed by Hal's casual altering of the course of events on an alien planet. I guess this Kirk cares a little more about the Prime Directive than the original.
  • Scooby Apocalypse #13 - I read this during a particularly bad insomnia bout, and was comforted immensely by what happens to Rufus. It's pretty clear to me who the real-life Rufus would be, and it's just as clear that both of them deserve that fate. I wonder how the team dynamic will change with a new person, or if she's doomed to die quickly? I'm really loving this book, despite it NOT being Scooby-Doo as I remember and love it. Ok, the back-up story wasn't to my liking, but Scrappy should just be scrapped.
  • Future Quest #12 - And they all lived happily ever after! I didn't realize this was the final issue until I was pretty much at the end, then I realized I was a little sad it was ending. I've really enjoyed the massive crossover with some familiar and many new-to-me characters. Overall, a fun series and I liked how the problems were solved in the final issue. Great job on everybody's part with this series.
  • Back To The Future #19 - So, we finally get to learn a little more about Marty's uncle. As I recall, he met him as a child in the first movie and referenced the fact he was in jail. This seems like a pretty good storyline to explore. I really wouldn't have thought this movie trilogy could spawn so many great stories - I just wasn't thinking widely enough.
  • Planet of the Apes/Green Lanterns #4 - Wow, by the time I got to this book, I was about Green Lanterned out. Good thing there was plenty of ape action to pull me back into the story. Still a long way to go in this series, but it's shaped up to be a bit of a crazy battle of the rings.
  • Doctor Who 11th #3.5 - A done-in-one that's Oodles of fun. Except for the fact that it appears to be a symptom of a greater problem - one caused by The Doctor himself. I would say the full understanding of this story requires lots of knowledge of past stories, particularly all the television stories involving the Ood.
  • Rough Riders: On The Storm #3 - One thing I love about historical fiction is looking to see how and where it departs from the history we know. So I had to go look up McKinley's assassination, of course. Fascinating stuff, which led me down another rabbit hole of knowledge. The comic itself is pretty darn good, setting up some nicely terrifying bad guys and a multiple cliffhanger. Lovely.
  • Spongebob Comics #68 - For one shining moment, SpongeBob took the wheel and got them safely there. I was surprised how funny I found this one. I usually just laugh a little and enjoy this book, looking for Mermaid Man references, but this one I laughed pretty hard at. Of course, there was also a serious side to it, because as happens all too often, the food service worker ignored a warning by a customer which had serious repercussions for everyone. So, funny but also push-button-y!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Columbia Gorge - before and now


This is what happens when a group of teenagers play around with fireworks during a dry summer. At least they have a suspect, and the kid and his family can be billed for all the destruction he caused. Perhaps he can spend all his free time for the next 40 years planting trees to replace the ones he carelessly destroyed. That might just make up for some tiny portion of his stupidity.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Newbery Winners: Tales from Silver Lands

The fourth book to win the Newbery Medal is Tales from Silver Lands, a collection of South American folk tales compiled by Charles J. Finger. It's a fun little collection of stories, most of which are unrelated, although the tales of the heroic twins Hunapu and Belanque, their corps of four hundred followers, and how they conquered three giants does provide a little bit of a throughline. And for a book from 1924, there are a lot fewer of the attitudes towards "exotic" peoples that would make many of us cringe today than one would expect (although a few do sneak in). In fact, the characters are generally just going about their lives, either being good guys or bad guys, neither usually having much to do with their backgrounds. In fact, most of the antagonists are witches or giants or other supernatural creatures, or animals, so the humans come off pretty well. Finger does insert himself into the beginning of some of the stories, where he explains where he was and who he was with when he heard some of the tales, but for the most part each is presented on its own. All in all, a fun little read, but I doubt I will ever feel a compelling need to read this again.

A Sunday Comic Books Review

DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Apr 19th
  • Aquaman #21 - I have to wonder if Aquaman couldn't have nicely asked the alien to turn off its scary defense mechanism, thus protecting the people left at base. But that was my only nit with the issue. The reasoning behind Dead Water makes a bit of sense and the results of it are nicely terrifying. There's even a page of Atlantis with its usual problem - what to do when the monarch is off adventuring. I'm actually anxious to read the next issue. Lovely stuff.
  • Justice League #19 - I know this book should be about earth-shattering disasters and such, but if I'm yawning and skimming ahead trying to find more interesting bits, isn't that a bad sign? I mean, I didn't hate it, but it could barely hold my interest. And I'm really annoyed that I didn't get to see how Aquaman used the mystical powers, nor was there any explanation for why the Justice League suddenly appears after they've been told they might be trapped in the past. I felt like the book was several pages too long but missing some plot.
  • Green Lanterns #21 - I really expected that to work, and for the Green Lanterns to take him back into custody a little happier. So the story was enough of a shock. Add in the ending, which was part of the ongoing plot, and this worked out pretty good.
  • Astro City #43 - That purple guy is back, trying to tell us something important, but is pulled off-track by a young Judy Garland lookalike who presents the origin of The Gentleman. And it's an excellent origin, I thought. Tragic and yet wonderful. And more than a little frightening - what if she hadn't had such a good dad? This book is consistently good, and I admit I'm getting more and more curious about the tale the purple guy is trying to get across.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern V2 #5 - Off to the center of the universe to fuel up the green rings and stop Sinestro - only... aren't there always complications? I was amused at the trust put into the Manhunters by the crew and the Green Lanterns. I was also amused that the threat to Starfleet basically followed the crew to Oa, making the fraught decision moot. Overall, a fun development - especially who got the ring. I mean, who else could it have been, really?
  • Back To The Future #18 - Doc tells a ridiculous story about getting a wedding anniversary present in order to convince his newest friend not to keep a woman waiting. I'm not sure whether I'm finding this funny or frustrating. I do feel a bit tired of this particular storyline. Irving doesn't interest me.
  • Doctor Strange #19 - And they all lived spookily ever after? Well, of course not. The refrigerator is deceased, for one thing. And I'm not sure exactly what Strange did, but it clearly didn't work completely. I do want to know, though, what is Wong's favorite food?
  • Doctor Who 10th #3.4 - That's an ok ending to the story. The Doctor doing what he does best - talking the bad guys to death. I like that he anticipated the bad guy's moves and found a way to deal with it. As for the clones - the ending is a bit sad and happy all at once. It makes me wonder where this really is set.
  • Forever War #3 - I remember more and more of the book as I read the comic. The past is a foreign country, but so is the future, and the veterans are tossed into one horrible future with only one escape route. It's a chilling story, really. Difficult to read with everything that's going on in the world right now.
  • Apr 26th
  • Teen Titans #7 - Jackson arrives just as the Titans are having issues with King Shark, and Robin is as obnoxious as it's possible to be. I am really enjoying the interplay between the characters. I've never really liked any of the Robins all that much, and seeing Jackson prove himself and basically humbling Robin was a nice touch. I hope Robin is intelligent enough to see his own flaws (giving his team a playbook and expecting them, a bunch of teenagers, to read it and understand it without practice and help? Sheesh) as well as those of his team.
  • Batman Beyond #7 - Ug. He doesn't want to be Batman, but he wants to be Batman and the people who desperately need him can't get to him because he's busy not wanting to be Batman. Yeah, I'm not enjoying it.
  • Teen Titans Go #21 - Two stories: The Teen Titans ruin their Tower and have to find another place to stay and a game suspiciously like Pokemon Go becomes a craze. Mostly fun stuff all around, keeping in mind that this book is aimed at a younger audience than me. I did enjoy the Titans being kicked out of Atlantis, even though it was only one panel.
  • Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 #4 - Oooh, so that's the end of a second era of this team-up. I wonder if the next issue will be set in 11 years, and how that will play out? I was a bit surprised that Batman was willing to unmask in front of Catwoman, but I wasn't surprised she wanted to stay for a bit. Overall, it was a nice solid story.
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #25 - Um. Yeah. This was silly from point A to point Z, but funny as well. The whole "You have failed this city" made me laugh aloud. The hippies - oh man... is there anything more disturbing than aging hippies? And the Scooby Snacks replacement was also an excellent moment. If anyone can eat that stuff, it would be Shaggy and Scooby. All told, a fun issue.
  • Dirk Gently: Salmon of Doubt #7 - This is a very confusing book, but I'm beginning to understand Dirk Gently stories: If you truly think you understand what's going on, you probably aren't reading it correctly. So I'm just going to say, "poor kitties!" and wait to read the next issue.
  • Doctor Who 12th #3.2 - A break from the main storyline to see the Doctor help a little town that's experiencing a very odd situation. The smile in the sky was freaky in a 1970s sort of way, but in the end it made a bit of sense. I'm curious if we'll see these particular characters again, and if this plotline has anything at all to do with the sea monster tale involving Hattie.
  • Doctor Who 9th #12 - Never mess with the Doctor's demons. As it turns out, this was one of those instances where the Doctor knew horrible things were going to happen and sacrificed not innocent lives to save innocents in the future. It's a really disturbing story, on par with "would you shoot Hitler" in some ways, although the story makes it clear that the Doctor arrived the way he did in order to find out more, not to end it outright. Still, chilling.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Doctor Who?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Sunday Comic Books Review

DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Apr 5th
  • Aquaman #20 - Wow, Mera is really upset at the Aquamarine for killing Dead Water's latest host that way. And that was only the first half of the book. The sickening realization by our intrepid agents of what's in the water and how Dead Water couldn't have been created the way Aquaman thought he was... well, much more fascinating. I am only reading these comics as fast as I am because I want to see what happens next in Aquaman.
  • Justice League #18 - Some plot movement in this one, at least, as we get yet another villain. I wondered, but you never really know, do you? So what did the heroes just do, and what is going to happen to the world next thanks to their efforts?
  • Green Lanterns #20 - Well, I'm fairly sure how this is going to finish up. What I'm more interested in is how the other Green Lanterns are reacting to a Guardian on Earth.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #25 - Batvampire and the Suicide Squad versus Nygma and ancient evil. Lovely stuff, if not really my thing. Heck, the back-up story was much more intriguing for what it was setting up. This is a great universe with lots more to explore. As an aside, our copy of this issue was misbound - it was off center so the cover was skewed - anyone else have the same problem?
  • Doctor Who Ghost Stories #1 - Well, I wasn't terribly fond of the Doctor Who special in which Grant/Ghost appeared, although it had its moments. Still, it's kind of nice to revisit the family and yeah, a quest involving them isn't a bad thing. I guess I'll just read and enjoy it.
  • Apr 12th
  • Titans #10 - Nice to see Bumblebee kicking butt and taking names. And it looks like this story leads into another crossover. I hope we ordered and got all the issues involved that we wanted... I guess I'll find out when I get there.
  • Super Powers #6 - That is, by far, the cutest Darkseid I've ever seen. And he's somehow even cuter with a starro on his face being bopped through wormholes. This book is the definition of "cute".
  • Scooby Apocalypse #12 - We already know that Velma's brother is a total nutjob, thanks to the back-up last issue. And now we also know that one of her other brothers is dead. And here she is, at the nutjob's door. In the meantime, downtown Seattle appears to be a monster shrine of some sort. The less said about the back-up story, the better.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #22 - Wow, Lyla rarely gets involved in the story so deeply, but it was actually nice to see what at first appeared to be a subplot where she was basically the star of the show. Nice issue.
  • Planet of the Apes/Green Lanterns #3 - Well, this is heating up nicely. Sinestro is, indeed, not human. And everyone in a battle with Cornelius in an interesting way to get things ramped up.
  • Doctor Who 11th #3.4 - The very confusing storyline featuring the past stealing from the future and multiple versions of multiple characters at different points in their timelines ends neatly with some silly jokes and a very dangerous weapon the Doctor has as a companion. I'm ok with it, but it could have been less confusing. I wonder if some of these storylines read better as trades?
  • Doctor Who 12th #3.1 - Nice to see Hattie again, and I enjoyed the "pre-story" underwater. I like the idea of recycling a planet, but Quarks? Really? Going back in time to find the best fish and chips sounds like a lovely idea.
  • Torchwood #2.3 - Still a wee bit confusing, but I'm getting a better sense of the story now. The flashback had a villain I really wasn't expecting to ever see in Doctor Who again in any form... Vervoids? Really? Still, pretty cool.
  • Spongebob Comics #67 - I like the cover to this one, with a kind of old west/prospector feel. No Mermaid Man that I could see, so otherwise it's just a standard issue.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hugo Winners

I was going to liveblog while watching the livestream, but the livestream died. So I'm relying on other people's reporting at the moment. These are the unofficial results that I'm hearing from various spots around the web:












Sunday, August 06, 2017

A Sunday Comic Books Review

DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 15th
  • Aquaman #19 - Working with people who tried to assassinate you has got to be tough, and I don't blame Mera for insisting on tagging along. As for the rest - nice use of previous storylines to set up lots of plot quickly. The pacing of the issue was great, and the creepiness and mystery are also nice. The only thing that rang a little false was Mortimer's sheer panic - he's a hardened criminal who screwed over a lot of people, and despite what happened to him, I didn't buy the panic. Fear, yes, but the panic seemed excessive. I hope Mera remembers how she defeated Dead Water before, because if she doesn't at least try it, I'll be disappointed.
  • Justice League #17 - Superman talks with a giant baby while everyone else is fighting for their lives. Ok. Nifty. Aquaman gets two pages, and that's good. I would have liked to see more of him, of course, but this isn't his own title, so I'll live with two. Especially when those two pages show him very much in command. It's ok, but I'm feeling the decompressed storyline blues at this point.
  • Green Lanterns #19 - Doctor Polaris, along with a possible set up for more healing that Simon can do. However, if it turns out he's able to cure cancer and not just bring someone he loves deeply out of a coma, that sets up a massive moral dilemma in the form of "why are you punching people when you ought to be saving lives?" I hope that is avoided somehow. In the meantime, the pair of heroes got themselves into a bit of a jam on that final, literal, splash page.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #24 - Well, I'm not a big fan of this storyline mostly because it involves a lot of characters I don't really care much for, but at least it wrapped up in a way that was mostly understandable. All the various plots were explained, and there was even a nice betrayal in the middle of the mess. Fun stuff, but I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.
  • Star Trek Deviations - In an alternate universe, the crew of the Enterprise gathers under rather different leadership. I guess my main complaint with this is that I cannot tell exactly when and how this timeline deviated from the "real" one. If there were just a few more clues, maybe. It was clearly after the Federation was formed, and possibly just before, during, or just after Kirk's voyages. Beyond that, can't tell. My biggest problem with the book is that Riker is bleeding out and Crusher doesn't seem to notice - even though Riker told her the bad news and comforted her. I mean, what?
  • Doctor Who 10th #3.3 - I love when the Doctor appears in a fairy tale setting, and thanks to Father Wu Wei. The whole story is pretty neat, and I love the artwork in the bits that are being told as a fairy tale. I'm a little concerned about Gabby, however, since this issue put her behind enemy lines with no apparent back-up. Looking forward ot the next issue.
  • Forever War #2 - Wow. Psychic aliens that are curious to see what happens next. And the first contact with the enemy. This all seems oddly familiar, so I'm beginning to think I may have read the book sometime in the long distant past and just forgotten I've read it. That said, a fairly powerful bit of the story.
  • Wonder Woman '77 and Bionic Woman #3 - It took me two tries to get through the exposition part of this book. Yes, the character had to be introduced, and yes, there was even a joke about how long they took doing it, but bleh. I really didn't enjoy wading through it. However, once past that, the book was great. I guess it was just another effort to make me hate the bad guys more.
  • Mar 22nd
  • Teen Titans #6 - Yay, the return of Jackson! As he was originally introduced, Jackson lives in the middle of the desert but knows he has water powers. And in this reality he seeks out the Titans because he feels the need to be free of parental guidance and to have the ability to explore his powers. In the meantime, the Titans have their own issues. I loved that final splash page... almost giggled, to be honest. Beast Boy isn't my favorite character ever, but he's mildly charming in this. Going to enjoy this storyarc, I think.
  • Batman Beyond #6 - Ah, the age-old question of whether Batman or the civilian identity is the mask. Is Terry Batman, or does he take on the role of Batman? And how will that affect his life and desires? And more importantly, how will it affect the people who rely on him? It's a good thing to explore with a new character carrying the mantle - and it's a question that has dogged this particular character from the moment he put the suit on, so it works.
  • Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 #3 - Catwoman works great for her role in this issue, and I like the interaction between the heroes and the Amazons, as well. This really is a fun book on many different levels.
  • Future Quest #11 - Well, they put together a great plan and it looked like everything was going well, so I'm really curious now as to what may have gotten messed up along the way. It looked to me, based on what the book has given us so far, that it ought to have worked or been working... so I'm drawn in again, wondering what the secret is and waiting for the next issue.
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #24 - You know, the Martian Manhunter really is incredibly creepy when you think about his abilities. Invisibility, shape-shifting... it's a wonder he isn't considered more scary than he is in the DC universe. Though having him shift into Scooby's form was hilarious.
  • Dirk Gently: Salmon of Doubt #6 - I don't think there is any way I could even start to attempt to sum this book up - or even any parts of it - so I'll just say this one raised my eyebrows and amused me greatly and leave it at that.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern V2 #4 - So, while Kirk is dinking about with Khan, Sinestro is ready to take on the universe? Well, it could technically be unwinnable, but Kirk has always cheated and I don't expect Hal to play it straight either.
  • Doctor Who 12th #2.15 - Sort of a predictable ending in some ways - of course the couple would be getting together and of course it would be an alien threat that really pushed them together - but there were a lot of nice elements of silliness and fantasy in there as well.
  • Mar 29th
  • Titans Annual #1 - Wow, Aquaman is more than a little obnoxious in this one. On the other hand, he does have the right to take charge - just glad he gave it up for Batman. I didn't know that about Donna, but then Donna's origin has altered so much I have no idea who or what Donna is in this universe anymore. I mean, heck, Aqualad isn't exactly the same guy that I love in the Silver Age comics either. As for the mystery villain, I have my guesses, and I'm sure I'm wrong, but it'll be fun to find out.
  • Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special #1 - This was a nice fun one-shot, with a good character introduced. The back-up was... painful. But, hey, the main story was great!
  • Back To The Future: Biff to the Future #3 - Biff does more stuff, gets more famous and buys the town. It's not bad, but it's about how I figured it went down while watching the movie, so there isn't a whole lot of new in this particular issue. I suspect the next issue will be slightly more interesting on that front.
  • Doctor Who 9th #11 - Typical Doctor, getting himself caught to investigate something suspicious. Not so typical? His reaction to the treatment. Good thing Rose is there to help, even if she hasn't got much of a clue of what to do. This is a very nice set-up, and slightly unexpected - I was thinking we would see the events leading up to his arrest. This isn't the story I anticipated, and that's a good thing.
  • Rough Riders: On The Storm #2 - The readers knew Annie was alive, but it's clear that no one else did. In any case, this sets up some kind of cult going after the president, and has a nice cliffhanger, even. I have enjoyed this series, and I'm certainly curious to see what comes next.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Haircuts and Life

A week or so ago Eric and I drove out to our usual place to get haircuts, the Sunnyside Beauty Academy. There was a note on the door that said the owner was retiring and the academy would no longer be giving haircuts to the public. Much disheartened, we went home without haircuts.

A couple of days ago I noticed my hair was in my eyes. All the time. It was driving me bonkers. I used a hair band to hold it back, but that turned out to annoy me even more. Then I read about record temperatures about to hit our area, with possible highs up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and decided I needed a haircut NOW. Last night I got to the point that I was seriously (and not for the first time) considering cutting as much off as possible then using Eric's shaver to clear the rest.

We needed a new place to get haircuts. I'm not inclined to be stylish - I just want short hair. And the women in this town literally ALL have long hair, and don't want to cut short. So I thought about a place I went to many years ago to get a photo of a child's first haircut, and suggested to Eric we try Fred's Barbershop. I checked the hours online, and off we went.

When we drove up, the place looked abandoned and I was a little worried until Eric pointed out that a) the barbershop pole was spinning, b) the open sign was out and c) it's Monday morning. Oh, right. We walked up and just before Eric could put his hand on the door, it opened. The gentleman behind the door was none other than Fred himself, who I remembered taking a photo of for that assignment at the paper. Sure enough, my photo was posted in the shop, with my credit on it and everything. I took the photo in September 2011 - not long after I started as a reporter.

I asked him if he was up to cutting my hair, and he asked - with a little trepidation - what sort of style I wanted. I told him I wanted a typical guy's haircut, and he said it would be fine. "It's all hair, right?" He admitted he hadn't cut a woman's hair in years, but he had no problem once we got started. And I love the cut. It's perfect for me. Short, even all the way across, above the ears. Just what I always want and hardly ever get.

Eric then got his cut, not as short as he might have since school only starts in another month or so. We were delighted and, frankly, I think we've found our new place to go. His son and grandson also cut hair, and if they learned from him I'm not afraid to get my hair cut by them.

Ok, I promised a photo of my new haircut when I got it (if only to let people know I didn't go for Eleven's look on Stranger Things). I took a few photos and all of them were awful, but here's a couple that I can tolerate (barely) other people seeing:


Hubby and I both got haircuts this morning.


It's nice and short!

My hair has always been a cause of stress for me. I never liked it long, and I hated bowl cuts that my dad gave us when we were children. I don't like fancy - my cowlicks make that pointless in most cases. I just want something I can wash, towel dry, comb and go. This is just what I want.

Ok, moving on to another topic... Below the fold: Fires and Boxed shipments (with Inkwell photos)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Sunday Comic Books Review

DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 1st
  • Aquaman #18 - I love this. I love how Arthur uses both force when needed, and reason for the most part, to get through to the man who was perverted into a killing machine. The back-story of the new character was great. There's enough emotion there for anyone. I also liked how it tied into the signal sent by NEMO. There's just a great deal of good pieces put together nicely in this one. An excellent story, and I hope there will be repercussions along the line at some point - I'd like to see this character again. And speaking of return characters, the final splash was a good one as well. Honestly, this book has just gotten better and better. This is the Aquaman I want to read.
  • Justice League #16 - Aquaman in pre-sinking Atlantis is often interesting... I'm curious exactly how that little storyline will play out. He clearly has the support of the folks around him. I also wonder who those twins are... I have my suspicions, but DCU history has changed enough that I'm almost certainly wrong. Oooh, I want to read more! This has been a good Aquaman week!
  • Green Lanterns #18 - I'm far more interested in Jessica and Simon than I am in Volthoom, so this being basically the entire Volthoom origin story... I'm not impressed. Like previous issues in this series, the twice-a-month format has allowed further exploration into the backstory of villains, but I'm not really all that interested in those backstories. Oh well. Next issue will be better, I suppose.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #23 - Some flashbacks to previous events and the way certain characters had to deal with them. I'm still finding the reading more confusing than I like, and I'm not sure if it's me or the work itself. But at least I get it - Wonder Woman has joined the fight and the bad gal says mechanicals are more reliable than zombies. Well, maybe? I wonder about these mechanicals.
  • Super Powers #5 - I love that Mera features so prominently in this book. Just seeing Aquaman and Mera together fighting as part of a team is awesome. And when the rest is so cute and fun - bonus! I have to admit, that's the cutest Darkseid I have ever laid eyes on. I recognized most of the heroes - but who is Golden Pharoah? In any case - fun fun fun!
  • Doctor Strange #18 - Not knowing about Thor's civilian identity proved to make this one a little more interesting, as I wondered about the surgeries. The final frantic surgery scene while Strange fought Mr. Misery was pretty good, all told. And I'm curious about the next issue and whether or not Wong can be saved. So a good issue overall.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #21 - I couldn't for the life of me remember who Sonny Frisco was. If I'd just read the freaking infodump on the first page, I would have known. Still, despite the lack of certainty, it was a good issue full of action. And Miggy seems to be digging himself a deeper hole, as well. How much of his past can he change before something truly nasty happens?
  • Doctor Who 9th #10 - Transitions in this issue were a little rough, making it hard to follow in spots. In the end, the whole thing seemed to turn out alright, but with those shades of gray that have become more common in the show. Rose is disillusioned, the new companion is disillusioned, and the last couple of pages hint at a rockier road to come. Decent.
  • Doctor Who 11th #3.3 - I'm not even going to pretend to understand what is happening with earth in this story, because if I do I think my brain might break. All just read along and smile and nod like I know what's going on and maybe the thing will come together as a story before it's all over. *smile* *nod*
  • Mar 8th
  • Titans #9 - Yeah, sure they reformed. I'm both amused and apalled at Garth's "punch 'em" attitude. It's true he was a hothead in the original version of the Titans, so it's not off-character, but I expect a little more from my Atlantean. This is a nicely plotted issue with the villains knowing exactly what the heroes are likely to do and planning for it. But there is a wildcard in there - so next issue we find out if she tips the balance.
  • Earth 2 Society #22 - I guess this is the final issue, and there's not really any plot, just a wrap up showing most of the new world and what's in it. I didn't see any Atlanteans, which makes me sad, but otherwise a nice upbeat ending.
  • Astro City #42 - What a delight for an Aquaman fan! An aquatic villain who never reformed, but did spend a very long time alone. I like the Mermaid, and thought it was incredibly funny when Manta almost commented on how old she looked. Her response to seeing him again was hilarious as well. I almost felt sorry for him when he returned to his island and isolation - I thought it would have been nice for him to at least have Mermaid visit and reconcile with him - but his "practice talking" thought at the end made it clear he's fine with who he is. Lovely issue.
  • Scooby Apocalypse #11 - With everything out in the open, I think the team can finally start to figure out what and who they are. I liked Fred's calm discussion with Daphne about Velma and why Velma left. Contrasted with Velma's nightmare in the last issue, it worked really well to show how Daphne has worked through her anger. And then there was the back-up story, showing one of Velma's brothers. Apparently the plague affected him in an entirely different way - perhaps because he was already a monster.
  • Back To The Future: Biff to the Future #2 - Biff goes to Hollywood and meets Hollywood accounting. Ok, so he's a bit of an idiot. We already knew that. And has a thuggish way of getting back at people. We knew that too. And had a fling with Marilyn Monroe?!?? Um. Ok. On to the next book.
  • Spongebob Comics #66 - The best thing about this issue for me is the back cover. It's an ad for the Mermaid Man action figure that appears in one of the stories, and has a number of other action figures. In short, I giggled a lot. The story featuring the creepy little action figure was also very fun for me... even Mermaid Man was scared of it. This is why I continue to buy the book - for the snarky Mermaid Man jokes.
  • Planet of the Apes/Green Lanterns #2 - Guy is making too much sense in this issue. And Hal, trapped in a cage, still manages to outsmart folks. I love it.
  • Torchwood #2.2 - Nope. Still can't quite tell what's going on. Oh, I get the gist of it, but it's all a bit confusing and strange. It's a very disjointed style of comic book. Perhaps I'll get used to it during one of these mini-series.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

New Podcast: Levar Burton Reads

Levar Burton Reads. I heard a reference to this podcast on a different podcast, then after I thought about it for two seconds I went and hunted it down. I mean, I didn't exactly "grow up" with Reading Rainbow*, but I definitely watched it sometimes and loved it. So to have him reading stories for adults? Yeah.

The podcast started in June and is up to seven episodes covering six short stories. The latest story is by Neil Gaiman, but Burton also reads pieces by Percival Everett, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Richard Parks, Daisy Johnson and Bruce McAllister.

In the first episode, Burton reads "Kin" by Bruce McAllister. It was excellent. The story is good, and Burton's reading is suitably creepy and solid, depending on which character he is focused on. The length of the story, 35 minutes, is perfect for a podcast as far as I'm concerned.

It will take me a few days to catch up, but from then on it looks like this will be on my weekly listens.

I have always been a visual learner, preferring reading or seeing to listening alone. However, I've come to enjoy my podcasts, particularly after I've been writing. They seem to recharge me - because I don't have to remember them or take notes on them. I'm currently working on catching up with two other podcasts, and I thought I'd mention them...

The first is the History Goes Bump podcast, which combines two of my favorite subjects: history and ghost lore. I love the stories they collect from all around the world, and have listened to the latest few podcasts with joy. I finally decided to head back to the beginning of the podcast and start listening from the start. I was warned, but the audio quality in the first few episodes is truly dreadful. Fortunately, it seems to have been fixed fairly quickly, and starting with about episode six the sound improves dramatically.

The podcast takes either a place or a person and tells the history of that place and person, then covers any ghost tales associated with them. The result is a generous heaping of history with a dash of human nature thrown in. I adore this podcast, and love it when a new one drops. Now, however, I have more than 200 episodes to catch up on.

The other one I've decided to listen to from the beginning is Tea & Jeopardy. I've listened to a handful of episodes thanks to the Hugos, but I decided I wanted to hear them all from the start. And I'm glad I did, because Emma is MUCH more sinister in the first episode, providing considerably more peril to her guest than just her disturbing butler, Latimer. As the third episode features my friend Paul Cornell, I'm looking forward to continuing my listening and finding out what dangers Paul endures.

Both these podcasts have Patreon accounts, and if I were a rich girl I would support them both for the joy they provide (and the extras would be nice to get, too).

* I was 11 years old when Reading Rainbow started, and already an avid reader. Most of the books on the show were for younger readers, like my two younger siblings, so I watched when they were watching. I really loved the theme song, though.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Random Reviewlet 5

Goddess, Worm by Cassandra Khaw, published in Uncanny Magazine.

Warning: some spoilers may be ahead.

A goddess tries to get justice.

Wowsa. It took me a second read before I really understood what was happening, but it was worth the reading. The main character is all burning hate - mixed with memories of horrible torment. But she's still someone. All the other gods and goddesses are not. They have no reality, no depth - and that's how they prefer it.

I've spent a great deal of time thinking about ancient pantheons of gods and wondering about how they are structured and so forth. This story takes that to its natural conclusion. How does one punish a god who committed an act that a human found horrible, but the gods just found normal?

The ending is sharp but perfect. She cannot change the past, cannot get justice - but she can be the goddess that she herself hoped for but didn't find. Instead of a story just about revenge, which this could have been, it becomes a story of progression, of dealing with the problem and moving past it and becoming something greater both despite and because of the pain that came before.

Conclusion: Yeah, I liked it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Sunday Comic Books Review

DCBS
Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Feb 15th
  • Aquaman #17 - Yay, another panel of people celebrating Aquaman with unbridled joy. I am terribly amused at such scenes, as I always imagine myself in them somewhere. That said, the rest of the story is fairly straightforward - Aquaman searching for the problem, getting past the obstacles without hurting innocents and then... well, I'm not really sure what that last panel represents. I guess I'll find out next week.
  • Justice League #15 - Oh joy, more time travel shenanigans. With people's history being wiped or about to be wiped depending on the view. And some other bits from previous issues brought back to confuse us more. And a new character - a timeless watcher - who immediately made me think "the ultimate Mary Sue" before I clamped down on that. The next few issues are going to have to work hard to get me to like this story, I think.
  • Green Lanterns #17 - Ah, the development I was hoping/waiting for happened. I mean, it was kind of telegraphed from the start, but Simon could have gone a different way with it. Overcoming great fear was interesting - both Jessica and Simon have had to deal with it, in entirely contrasting situations. Eh, this was a decent issue.
  • Teen Titans Go #20 - Two stories, as usual - one about bad love poetry and the other about spring break. I liked the Aqualad appearance in the spring break story. I also like the appearance of Aquaman and Mera on the cover, although they are obscured by the title on the finished book.
  • Doctor Strange #17 - Not a big fan of the artwork here, although it works well enough for this type of story. The underlying concept of Mr. Misery using Wong to find how to hurt Stephen the most is brutal. A good issue, with a very *ahem* strange guest-star at the end. Next issue is going to be odd.
  • Doctor Who 10th #3.2 - Ah, more mental control fighting. At least we didn't spend another entire issue inside the illusion - just most of it. And I'm amused by what it looks like from the outside when they break free. It's another ok issue, but nothing to write home about. Barely enough to blog about.
  • Forever War #1 - Confession time. I've never read the book. It's in my to-read pile, and has been for some time, but I've not actually gotten to it yet. So this comic book is going to be my first experience with this story. So far, so-so. It's a standard "training" story, in which everything is brutal and people die in horrible ways. Just as we get to where the action apparently is, the book ends. But hey, it's a comic book - that's sadly normal.
  • Feb 22nd
  • Batman Beyond #5 - Lots of revelations in this one, including the fact that Terminal attracted entirely the wrong kind of attention by claiming he was going to bring the Joker back. It's a pretty intense issue, with lots of action to back up the revelations. But it's enough to make me wonder about all the timelines and the odd changing and crossing of them.
  • Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 #2 - With Bruce successfully fighting both Nazis and assassins as a child, no wonder (pun not intended) he becomes a hero in the future. I loved the classic Wonder Woman story, but I'm curious to see how Batman can bring in the modern, or at least the 1966 version, of Wonder Woman into the tail. The timing of everything is more than a little confusing.
  • Future Quest #10 - Now that they've got all the pieces of the puzzle together, the only thing that remains is to figure out how they fit and then - boom, battle the evil and save the world. I'm really enjoying how each character gets enough time for us to learn what their strengths and powers are, and how they relate to the current crisis. It's a pretty good series for something based on old children's cartoons that weren't really meant to stand the test of time.
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #23 - I'll admit to being not very familiar with Quick Draw McGraw and El-Kabong, but it's not hard to pick it up from context. In fact, it would be terribly difficult to not pick it up. This was pure silliness all the way through, and it worked. I admit to rolling my eyes and giggling at the same time.
  • Astro City #41 - A beautiful story. There's a touch of the ongoing thread in there, just enough to make the reader say, "wha-?" but not so much that the story is ruined or strained by it. The explanation of why the city was renamed is very nice in context. It's clear that heroes are never as well treated as they could be, but that's because the public is fickle and sometimes cannot understand the reasons for certain things that happen. I like the way this book forces me to think.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern V2 #3 - Manhunters who haven't betrayed their programming yet? And Sinestro leaving Larfleeze as a Lord of Klingons? I'm just not sure how this is likely to turn out, but in combination with the newest Red Lantern, things are not looking good for the side of the light.
  • Back To The Future #17 - Marty and Doc have to find a way to short-circuit the past, and so they go to the start of their problems to make things right again. And, as is often the case, leave their enemy better off than before. A nice conclusion to this story. If it is the conclusion.
  • Dirk Gently: Salmon of Doubt #5 - Well, this issue explains quite a bit about Bart, actually. If her powers are disrupted, she can be "aimed" in the wrong direction - which is what happened in the tv series. And it was all due to a friend of Dirk saying the wrong words at the right moment. Or the right words at the wrong moment. Hard to tell. This is getting really strange, which is saying a lot when referring to Dirk Gently. I do believe Douglas Adams would approve.
  • Doctor Who 3rd #5 - A typically quick finish to the story, as technology overrides everything. I love seeing Jo successfully explain the Doctor and friends to a lady in the past. All throughout, fun stuff. I could hear Jon Pertwee and the others saying their lines. The ending was a neat little way of keeping the universe insane. All-in-all, a good book and a good storyline.
  • Rough Riders: On The Storm #1 - It's a pull-the-team-back-together issue, and as such has only a little action worth talking about. Edison's train car and method of bringing people on board being the main one of note, along with the recruitment of Monk.

The List

Amy Siskind has been publishing a weekly list of things that are not normal about the current presidential administration, starting right after the election. It's a bit eye-opening. I would love to see this done for every administration now, just to keep track of the things they are doing that might be "off" the acceptable path. It certainly gives stark reminders of what Congress is allowing to happen to the highest office in the land by not taking action.

However, at the moment, I'm just linking all of her lists so far, so I have them available to look through. While this is mostly for my own use, I figured other people may find it interesting or enlightening.