All purpose vertically integrated publishing empire for cynicism, hopelessness and misanthropy. Mild nausea is common when using this product. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to: dizzyness, headache, homicidal rage and yellow discharge. Rarely, users may begin to hear voices urging them to kill. If this occurs, discontinue use and seek psychiatric attention. Do not read when pregnant or nursing; the author thinks that's gross.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

MSM: She's Mad As Hell, But The Good Old Boys Will Keep The Cunt in Line

A journalist on one of MSNBC's psuedo-news variety hours apparently got fed up and refused to read, as the lead story on her segment, about Paris Goddamned Hilton getting out of jail. She thought it was a travesty that this was what the network insisted on covering instead of, say, the catastrophic war in Iraq.

There's a widely available youtube video of the confrontation between journalist Mika Brzezinski and her smirking, wiseass, self-important co-hosts that's been floating around.

People are hailing her for standing up for basic journalistic principles, and she certainly did, but for me, that's not what jumps out about this segment. Watch how a professional journalist is treated on a cable news network when she dares to deviate from the script and tries to bring some sanity and reason back to public discourse. She is mocked, belittled, patronized, even outright physically overpowered (as when the one host takes away her lighter and copy of the script), all because she dares to do the responsible thing. Then, when they've finished dragging out their mockery of her work and her profession, they toss her turn to speak back to her, discarding the air time as if, now that they've covered what's Really Important, the viewers should tune out while the crazy bitch rants about a war.

Naturally, one of the two domineering male douchebags is Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and all around asshole. His utter contempt for women and the job he supposedly performs as a newsman shows through here with startling clarity. Beware even the friendliest seeming Republican out there, folks. They all carry knives of one sort of another, and are waiting for you to turn your back.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Book Review: Flight Volume One

Basic Information:

Format: Graphic Novel Anthology
Authors: Various
Illustrators: Various
Publisher: Image Comics
ISBN-10: 1582403813

Synopsis: A volume of visually arresting illustrated stories on the topic of flight from a wide variety of artists. Pretty self-explanatory really. Everything from high fantasy to indie relationship comics to steampunk and more, so long as it soars above the earth, it might well be in here.

Flight is one of those books that you have to read yourself to really understand. Like many anthologies, you'll find some items that you like a lot more than others, but unlike many of these anthology books, Flight is jam-packed with incredibly high production values and consistently well written stories.

As mentioned in the Synopsis, the unifying theme for Flight is, well, flying. It doesn't matter what sort of flying, or who is doing the flying, so long taking to the skies is involved. Some stories simply try to describe the act and joy of flying itself; others tell adventure tales, or explore the human condition using flight as a metaphor.

The other unifying theme for Flight is artistic quality. Almost with exception, every story is jam packed with gorgeous, somethings heart-breakingly gorgeous artwork. If ever you wanted to just gaze on a bunch of beautiful comics, this is the place to start.

Some highlights:

Hugo Earhart by Jake Parker
--Gorgeous art with a high-adventure story.

Outside My Window by Khang Le
--A wonderful story in a bottle about love and captivity.

Faith by Erika Moen/Hope Larson
--Moving, short, and something I could not disagree more with, ideologically. I love it anyway.

Beneath the Leaves - Jump by Rad Sechrist
--Lighthearted fun that makes you long for better cartoons in general

I Wish by Vera Brusgol
--Great story about dreams, growing up, and facing a strange, strange world.

I have to stop or I'll recommend just about all of them. Pick it up already.

--Fantastic Art, Stories
--Wide Selection of Topics and Authors

--Hmm. It doesn't come with free cocaine?

Rating: 5/5

Book Review: Thief of Always

Basic Information:

Format: Graphic Novel

Author: Clive Barker
Illustrator: Gabriel Hernandez
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Harvey Swick is a very bored young man. Trapped in the 'great gray beast February', he is desperate for an escape from his mundane existence. Luckily for him, he's given a chance to get away from it all by a mysterious stranger who appears in the dead of night, and transports him to the Holiday House, a world where years pass in a day, every night is Christmas, and every wish is granted. Predictably enough, things aren't entirely what they seem, and Harvey will have to discover the secrets behind the House, as well as the price you have to pay for your dreams.


Thief of Always made a great first impression on me. I was sitting up late at a relative's house, with nothing else to do, bored in the dark hours of early morning. Therefore, the feelings of ennui and shadowy boredom evoked by Hernandez' art and Barker's writing struck home immediately. Even though a wish-fulfillment story is a fairly standard trope, Thief of Always starts off feeling fresh, and vividly evokes the emotions of a idle childhood, of heartsickness and depression and the lingering hope of a better, sunnier day. This for a person who hates the sun.

For a time, at least, the story grabs hold of you. It's quite moving, and Hernandez keeps pace with his gorgeously murky watercolored look. Harvey falls deeper under the spell of the House, and so do you, even as both reader and protagonist slowly but inevitably become aware of the rotten underbelly to a place where all your dreams come true.

It's only when Harvey makes his escape from the House, and the book moves into its third act, that the wheels come off the wagon, but when they do, they come off HARD. Horror-fantasy cliches abound, and neither Barker's writing nor Hernandez' art can cover their stink on the page. Particularly annoying is an egregious example of what I'd call "Horror Protagonist Syndrome", which can be defined as the process by which a character in a horror story deduces, on the basis of little or no evidence, under enormous stress and time constraints, the precise course of action to Vanquish Evil and Save the Day.

Why are we expected to put up with this sort of lazy writing? Why do we have to see, again and again, a climactic scene where someone just happens to figure out the magic artifact to break a spell, the secret to the puzzle that locks the maze, the precise method to kill the monster, completely without in-story justification?

It's an insult to our intelligence as readers. It's boring and trite. It's also a great way to ruin an otherwise fascinating story, as it does here. Pity.

In spite of the thousands of wish-fulfillment stories in our culture, Thief of Always had real potential. Pity Barker tossed it down a well for a tidy resolution.

--Gorgeous Artwork
--Moody, Evocative Writing

--Lazy, Sloppy Conclusion

Rating: 2.5/5

A Word Of Explanation and A Mission Statement

So, I really did mean to keep this blog up and do the short fiction experiment thing and all that. Unfortunately real life, as it so often does, got in the way.

I had a relapse of a health issue I thought I had resolved. I had to help an older relative move, and that was a massive trial that I hadn't seen coming that took weeks. I had to repair the damage done to a computer by a complete fraud of a tech support person. Finally, I just got behind in some areas of my personal life.

But I'm back now, and writing this on my dream computer, or one of them, that I got to put together over the break. Getting used to a 24 inch display is a pleasant challenge. What's harder is learning that the dvds you THOUGHT looked so great in fact aren't the best in the world if the resolution goes high enough.

Still, all in all, there's a lot to do and get caught up on. I think I'm going to change the focus of this blog for a bit. I don't really have anything I want to write at the moment, so I'm going to expand my horizons and read more, listen more, do more for a bit. I'll get on the political blogging aspects that I wanted to do from the start, and put the artificial deadlines on hold. Let's see how this shakes out.