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Tim Lieder

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Books read in 2019 # 97-103 I have been reading a lot over the chagim [Oct. 15th, 2019|11:27 pm]
Tim Lieder
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97.A Different City by Tanith Lee - I was going to entitle this entry "heartless bastards" because the first two entries were this book and a Hellraiser book where the authors are leaning heavily on the whole "John Constantine screws over everyone" but the issue with talking about Tanith Lee protagonists as heartless bastards is that most of her heroes are sociopaths who view the world with a cool and lethal detachment. That's kind of her thing. This one ranges in quality from brilliant to well ok I suppose. The first story "Not Stopping at Heaven" is an adaptation of a script her father wrote in the 1970s and it's very much the kind of story you would see on Night Gallery, with the dumb trusting wife, her evil manipulative husband and the shrew of a mistress. Like all of these stories, the dumb trusting wife manages to turn it around and take revenge in a supernatural manner. Idoll is the worst of the bunch mostly because there's really no redemption for anyone in this story, just a poor girl whose extended family steals her inheritance and her only escape is to merge with a statue. I would consign this book to the trash that I place Lee's Blood Opera series if it weren't for the last story "The Portrait in Gray" which is a twist on the Oscar Wilde classic. Only in this one, the portrait painter uses her art as a revenge and paints the subject with all of the flaws that the Dorian Gray picture takes on toward the end. It's a rather adorable piece about a patient vengeance through paint.

98. The Bellblazer: The Inspiration Game by Tim Seeley, Richard Kadrey and others - Kind of sick of the whole "John Constantine is a bastard" story. In the early days of the character he was a manipulative bastard with a heart who genuinely was trying to save the world and haunted by his dead friends. Jamie Delano brought in his ghosts almost every issue. But now we get John Constantine being an asshole and proudly being an asshole as if he was made for the 4chan crowd. The first story is all about John hooking up with an old cop girlfriend and how she is bitter towards him because I don't know. Demons. Anyhow, there's an alternate reality version of her but mostly it's the demons and then the clincher is that after he wins and they have a reunion, he goes "you were always so sweet to me and believed in everything. So fuck off." The San Francisco one with the Buddhist type destroying New Age con artists is fine but it also ends with Constantine going "fuck off". So yeah, John Constantine is the DC character that tells people to fuck off.

99. Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman & Esad Ribic - There's a Iron Man story where Dr Doom keeps showing up wanting to help out and I didn't know why that was a thing but then I found that this was the ending of this trick. Basically, it has the same function of Crisis on the Infinite Earths (housekeeping, getting rid of the alternate universes) with the Secret Wars conceit from that original series (Battle World where everyone is supposed to fight - leading to Dr Doom taking over with the Beyonder's powers). It's actually quite fun and it doesn't make it too obvious that the main point is to get rid of the Ultimate titles but keep Miles Morales. One wonders if this thing would have been done in the 90s had any of the New Universe titles been halfway interesting. The Thor brigade is great and there are some cool ideas. Ultimately, it's mostly a fight between Reed Richards and Dr Doom with a lot of yada yada magic talk to explain anything.

100. Black Panther: Long Live the King by Nnedi Okorafor & various artists - This is a pretty good one, mostly it's about T'Challa trying to figure out how to balance the monarchy with tribalism. Okorafor notes that she's Igbo and therefore pretty non-impressed with royalty. There's also one in Nigeria of course. As much as I liked this one (and certainly liked it better than whatever Coates was trying to do), I don't really get much of an impression at all.

101. Wonder Woman Rebirth by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott - The new origin of Wonder Woman feels a great deal like the movie origin. Diana really feels like she has to leave Paradise Island. There are followers of Mars walking around. Eventually she meets Ares/Mars and that's about it. I read it and I feel like I want to watch the movie again.

102. Captain Marvel: Earth's Mightiest Hero by Kelly Sue Deconnick - I think I read this one before. I really think I read this one before. The first story is a space adventure but the next two stories have certain elements that were either in this book or before. I think I read the one with her old friend dying (complete with a long flashback to Carole helping her old friend grieve) in a different book but then I read the Secret Wars one (where Carol Danvers figures out that Doom is not really God and something is weird on Battle World) in this one or a different one. I don't know.

103. Dissolving Classroom by Junji Ito - this certainly isn't the most innovative Junji Ito story and it's not even the funniest one, but it certainly is funny, especially with the combination of Yuuma always apologizing (which makes people melt) and his sister Chizumi - who really wants to eat those people when they melt makes a comic duo. The major variation is the one where Yuuma can also melt faces by telling girls that they are beautiful and the more he says it the more deformed they become. It also fits in the pocket.

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Books read in 2019 # 94-96 - Comic Books!!!! [Sep. 29th, 2019|12:37 am]
Tim Lieder
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94. Criminal: The Sinners by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips - Guest starring Joe Hill. That was the part that made me laugh. The one character mentions a corrupt cop named Joe Hill and in the next panel there he is - with the black beard and the features that pretty much outed him as Stephen King's son well before he admitted to it. And then he gets killed because this is what thriller writers like to do to each other. Also there's a lot of noir about the main character trying to find people who are killing mobsters. Fortunately most of the mobsters are pretty understanding and they don't go to war. Also it's a bunch of kids being induced to do it by a priest. In the end, the main character becomes a superhero - able to walk away from jumping out of a window and then in such great shape after taking care of all the mobsters that he's ready to go back to the military where he's AWOL. Because they would totally want someone who should be crippled from that jump out a window.

95.The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Life is too short, Squirrel by Ryan North et al - So this one is about a Skrull on the run who is terrible at hiding and faking identities. This is the reveal halfway through after she steals the identity of Squirrel Girl (with a faked death) and then Tony Stark in a ridiculous manner. Anyhow, she's a cool character but the Skrulls are apparently villains in this one - more like the Kree in the movies. So she needs to hide and then the earth becomes a Skrull defector refugee center with Stark faking their deaths.

96. Dead Man (miniseries) by Neal Adams - meh. Seriously meh. There's a cute rat at the end which is a cliffhanger, but yeah mostly this is a big conspiracy revealing story where the Dead Man finds out that his brother is in the League of Assassins, but so is his father and mother. There are also Yetis. Somehow people want him to go to Nanda Prabat but then that doesn't really work either.

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Books read in 2019 # 91-93 - Murder and Injustice [Sep. 26th, 2019|01:20 pm]
Tim Lieder
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91. The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly - the last time I reviewed a Michael Connelly for one of these odd numbered years, I said that he deserved to be a bestselling author. I still think that he definitely has a great writing style and you can read through one of his books in a week. However, I must say that I enjoyed reading this book more than I like reviewing it now. In the reading, I was happily going along with his reporter protagonist as the murderers were known to the reader in a Hitchcockian "bomb under the table" manner. And I did keep reading. It has a three act structure - 1. Reporter stumbles into the work of serial killers while chasing a story, 2. After reporter is almost killed, he and his FBI agent girlfriend seriously investigate the murders and 3. cat and mouse game with the serial killers as reporter figures out where the murderers are finding their victims.

However, within the context of the book I have some issues. First off, there's more than a little bit of racism at the beginning where our hero gets a phone call from an angry black woman who stepped out of a minstrel show to tell him that her son is innocent. Then when he investigates the woman (who is really the kid's grandmother but don't tell him that), he gets jacked by gang bangers who charge him a tax. And then when the kid is exonerated (he was only trying to steal the car, not the body in the trunk), he shows up to appear on a talk show with our hero and can't stop saying motherfucker and "Am I gonna get rich off of this?" It's a pretty ugly depiction and while yes, there are dumb kids who live in shitty neighborhoods and run with gangs and won't stop saying motherfucker in front of their trashy mothers it's just too easy. Makes me understand why Linda Fairstein built a literary career out of her success in railroaded five innocent black teenagers.

Also one of the characters gets fridged. The plucky young reporter who is all enthusiastic about serial killers and wants to be part of the story disappears when our protagonist goes to Las Vegas (the killers are IT guys and super hackers who can make things look sinister by losing people's emails) and when our hero comes back to his house, she's dead under the bed (he fucks his ex-girlfriend from the FBI first). It makes narrative sense as the killer wanted to make it look like a murder-suicide and only the arrival of the ex-girlfriend saved him. But it's still an ugly trope that needs to go away, especially when there aren't a lot of female characters in Connelly books anyhow (speaking of which isn't Bosch's back story about his mother getting killed).

And in the third act, the killers are way too clever for words, to the point that only our hero can really save the day as all of the FBI agents are babes in the woods.

So overall, fun book and I would read Connelly again, but if he goes on a Dan Simmons tirade I not only will be unsurprised but there's a good chance it will stop all enjoyment of his books.

92. The Unwanted by Don Brown - This is a rage inducing graphic novel because it brings up a topic that most people seem to want to forget about and do everything in their power to ignore. Fuck Tulsi Gabbard. This is about the Syrian refugees crisis and it's beautifully rendered and discusses the background of the Syrian civil war including the ways that the protests turned deadly and how ISIS was loosed upon the world. Most of the book is about the path of the refugees through Greece and Libya with the coyotes who are smuggling people for a vast sum of money and no guarantee of safety. This is a powerful book and one that should be read everywhere.

But like the rest of Syria will just get ignored.

93.Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill - This is an interesting book because many of the subjects in this book are not popular. There's a W.E.B. Dubois story but it's mostly about his school that was illegal in many places. Some of these people are famous for being magicians or bicycle racers, but a lot of these historical figures are people who did the best they could with what they had. The one about the escaped slave who wrote two letters to his former slave mistress telling her that he was going to take his daughter off the plantation and it's not stealing because she's his daughter is particularly powerful. Bass Reeves is a particularly fascinating study since he was a U.S. marshal picked for the position because he was black and less likely to get heat from the Indians in the territories. Only there's the detail about Reeves arresting his son that seems purposefully vague, especially since the son is narrating the story. And the ending is the fact that Reeves was the basis of the lone ranger.

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Books read in 2019 # 89-90 - Graphic Novels that need to go back to the library [Sep. 15th, 2019|02:23 pm]
Tim Lieder
89. Secret Wars Prelude by John Hickman, Jim Shooter et al. - I did want to read Secret Wars, the new Secret Wars, the one that put Miles Morales into the Marvel Universe in order to put a nail on the coffin of the Ultimate titles (they lasted much longer than the New Universe). So I put Secret Wars on hold at the library. I ended up getting a lot of crap. I don't even know if Secret Wars is even its own title or if all the Marvel titles just participated in the Secret Wars storyline in order to let everyone know what was up. Quite a few of the Marvel titles went white and then the next week came back as if nothing is changed (except Kamala Khan has a new friend who is also Spiderman). I probably should try to find that out. Anyhow, prelude gives us the last couple issues of the original Secret Wars, a Fantastic Four title, the first Ultimate Spiderman with Miles Morales and the New Avengers where some alien being comes along and lets everyone know that the world is ending. In other words, we get that Doctor Doom is going to be the master power in the series, Miles Morales is going to be part of the Marvel Universe and Hickman pretty much just figures that Crisis on the Infinite Earths gave us a great set up for this kind of thing so why not use it?

Pretty dull.

90. Smashed by Junji Ito - This might be the last Junji Ito book I get from the library, or the last one I haven't read yet. I plan on putting Uzemaki on hold to re-read frequently if I don't just buy it first. These are great little stories and none of them have quite the power of the one with the human shaped holes in the mountain. The one where all these people end up stuck in one place is quite chilling. Mostly because the twist is not that they are rooted to that place over grief or sorrow but over guilt that they might not even feel themselves. The main woman's boss ends up in her apartment and only later is it revealed that he's the one that assaulted her (even as he's confessing his love). A lot of the stories are one element story including the one where the anorexic woman is given sustenance from vampire bats, the laughing syndrome one and the one where everyone who eats a form of honey gets smushed. This is an enjoyable Junji Ito book but they all are.

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Books read in 2019 # 88 - The Black Death's Greatest Hits [Sep. 10th, 2019|01:45 pm]
Tim Lieder
88. The Great Mortality by John Kelly - This was a frustrating book. It began with such a fascinating portrayal of how the plague began at a besieged town but the first patient zero was traced to a wandering tribe. That was great. But then the book jumped from one place to the other to the point that it felt like every chapter could have been its own book. Granted, some of the places that were affected by the Black Death did not have chronicles, but many did and the fact that these subjects were given only a chapter if that felt frustrating. I wanted to know more about the penitents who seemed like the alt-right of their day. I wanted to know more about the controversy over which plague wiped out half of Europe. I wanted to hear more about how it affected England or how the post-plague years were full of reactions in the extreme. I may not have wanted to read a full book on the pogroms that took place during the Black Death (because Jewish history is so damn depressing at times) but I would have felt like more was going on than the one chapter.

The book also avoids talking about the effects of the Black Death in China or even the Middle East where it also had a great impact. I guess I already got a good general overview of the Black Death from the Philip Ziegler book. I was hoping for more indepth discussion.

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Books read in 2019 # 86 & 87 - Politics more or less [Sep. 1st, 2019|08:53 am]
Tim Lieder
86.On Revolution by Hannah Arendt - I don't get the point. I mean, I'm really not sure what she's getting at. Every moment in the book makes sense and I can follow the logic to a certain extent, but trying to put it together defeats me. Noting that separating church and state also frees up the church from secular business is great but is that part of an indictment of the French Revolution. Also is she saying that the French Revolution is too popular and that's why people keep doing revolutions that eat their own. Does the American REvolution contrast because the Founding Fathers were actually pretty cynical about the ability of revolution. And then the fact that Americans were more or less prosperous at the time of their revolution comes up. Does that mean that they were free not to worry about economics? So does that mean that revolutions that seek to address class are doomed to failure? I really need to read someone else talk about what she's talking about because Arendt is one of those writers that is deep but maybe too deep. Or maybe she's just too all over the place.

87.A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursuala LeGuin - I want to say that I found this book deeper and richer than I did in the 8th grade. I want to say that I was intrigued by all the stuff I missed when I first read this book so many years ago. And that would be true in the first 150 pages but then Ged, the hero, decides to chase the dark shadowy creature that he invokes in his youth and it becomes a bit of a slog. First, the author practically announces that the creature is Ged's shadow self and then from there you know where it's going to go but she takes a lot more time getting there. Also found it strange that Ged just invades the house of a couple of people who are exiled to a lone rock and he doesn't think anything of it beyond feeling strange that they are so afraid of him. But mostly I liked 75% of this book and then got bored with the ending. It was worth the read but I don't think I need to read it again.

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Books read in 2019 # 81-85 - more comics that I have to get back to the library. [Aug. 27th, 2019|05:23 pm]
Tim Lieder
81. Adventure Time Presents Marceline and the Scream Queens by Meredith Gran and various - This is an odd one where Marcelline has a touring show and there are various things happening. Holy crap, I forgot the whole thing. There's something about Princess Bubblegum and a whole plot that doubles as a metaphor for doubts of being an artist and all that. I'm not sure. Oh wow. I really do like Adventure Time but I think I've read too many graphic novels.

82. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrels Fall like Dominoes by Ryan North and Derek Charm(?) - Again we have to bow to Ryan North for making Squirrel Girl so amazing and making it seem so effortless. He makes it look easy to the point that you wonder why she wasn't a big star before recently (then you read what other writers have done with her and yep, you get it). In this installment Kraven ends up in court trying to defend himself from charges stemming from his entire career as a super villain. He runs off but it all kind of works out. No wait. He still runs off. But there are jokes about old printers which make me laugh. More computer science majors should write comic books - maybe not.

83.Saga Volume Five by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples - Everyone is scattered to the various places with Marko and Prince Robot IV in one spaceship, Hazel and her mother and grandmother at the mercy of one terrorist giving her to another terrorist, the assassins are looking to save the Will through use of dragons and the same thing. Anyhow the narrative is light but the deaths are sudden and the whole thing feels light and fluffy at first even though it's all pretty damn tragic. Simply because I get these books from the library, I am ok with the fact that there are only a few volumes left before the hiatus (ask me next year if I'm cool with that).

84.Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars by Cullen Bunn & Matteo Lolli - is there a superhero more 90s than Deadpool? I mean Preacher is way more 90s when it comes to the central question of "can we still be manly if we nominally support feminism?" coupled with the anything for a laugh/fuck political correctness stance (the comic dedicated an entire issue to two characters talking about how much they loved Bill Hicks). However, Deadpool was practically born out of the twin obsessions of 90s comics pushed together - hardcore badass heroes with tough guy stances and Generation X purposeful irony. Squirrel Girl and the Great Lakes Avengers were all in for the ironic "we're funny because our powers are stupid, GET IT?" line. Cable was the badass of badasses. Hell, they didn't even give him an origin story when he first showed up. He was just there being a tough guy. It was only later that they decided to make him a time traveling Nathan Summers because why not.

Anyhow 90s Deadpool being stuck in the most 80s Marvel storyline (DC was a lot more nuanced and weird with their Alan Moore/Frank Miller embrace) is something that shoiuld be good, but it kind of sucks. First off, Secret Wars was a weak story where superheroes fight in order to become toys for Marvel to market (in the collection of Secret Wars they don't even hide that) and nothing is really all that interesting in the book itself. So Deadpool going around making smartass comments - not terribly compelling. Because who cares? We know the story is stupid. Even when Dr Doom steals the Beyonder's power it is stupid. Deadpool telling us that it's stupid only makes it excruciating.

85.Tomie by Junji Ito (or No Escaping Tomie) - Just today I had a friend say that she was sick of stories about men killing women. I agree. And yet, holy fuck Junji Ito makes it work. At first you read this book and think "well I guess this is the early Junji Ito so he's learning" and it's strange to see Tomie in the first couple issues where she's more psychologically nasty than body horror. She makes people obsessed with her. They turn into monsters and they kill her. This is a very troubling topic since women are killed by men all the time, especially men claiming to be in love with them. Opera is pretty and can get away with it, but hard to do it in other points. Tomie is wicked in mocking these guys but it's still pretty disturbing.

But then the body horror kicks in when Tomie's dead body turns out to be a match for a sick girl. One kidney transplant and two pages later and Tomie is popping out of her stomach mostly fully formed. From then the Tomie driving men crazy bit is still there, but there's way more about how Tomie is multiplying. Tomie is killed and she comes back, but what happens if you cut her into pieces? Junji Ito has her in an apocalyptic mode where she's used as a plant. In one issue a peddler throws pieces of her into the water and she grows and eats swimmers in many forms. Her hair makes your hair look beautiful but it takes over.

Junji Ito is so fucking crazy. It's his earlier one but oh wow it's great.

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Books read in 2019 # 76-80 more comic books of a Luciferian nature [Aug. 19th, 2019|03:24 pm]
Tim Lieder
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76.Lucifer: Faith & Lucifer by Holly Black and Lee Garbett - The television show turned Lucifer into Castle with the occasional angelic drop in (and a revolving cast of characters who eventually started getting on with each other) but the comic written by MIke Carey was a work of genius with several strange plots going throughout. Its ending was rather perfect for the story it was telling but it seemed like it had nowhere else to go. Unfortunately, even Holly Black couldn't change my mind about Lucifer not going anywhere. This reminds me a great deal of the original run. There is a political challenge in Heaven. Apparently Lucifer has a son these days. The only difference is that God comes back wrong and full of justice without mercy. And then it ends with Lucifer planning another rebellion. I wanted to like this one much better than I did.

77. Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer - This is actually a sweet travelogue of a book with an entry point of a teenager who is half-Japanese/half-white visiting her grandparents in Japan and taking in the sights, including ugly buildings, Japanese dance crew and ramen places. There's not much more to this comic than "here look at all this cool stuff I saw in Japan" but sometimes that's enough. She's got an optimistic voice and a clear view of everything.

78. Judas by Jeff Loveness & Jakub Rebelka - This was not the comic to read on Shabbos since it's very Christian. It was actually rather affecting as the whole point of the comic is that Judas needs to forgive Jesus while they are both in Hell. The art is beautiful and Satan is depicted as a bit of a dick. But it's rather a sweet depiction of Christianity and the modus operandi behind the whole Jesus spending three days among the dead part. Redeeming Judas from a Christian perspective is a rather modern concept and it definitely helps in making the story a little less antisemitic.

79.Mockingbird: Feminist Agenda by Chelsea Cain & Kate Niemczyk - This one only lasted 8 issues and for the collection to even warrant a collection the company had to include a story from the New Avengers which has Mockingbird getting shot for a couple issues. I read that New Avengers story and it was better in context. Anyhow this is three issues where Mockingbird is on a cruise ship that is doubling as a science fiction convention complete with cosplay and a guy with a horse's head. The story keep referencing Hulk getting killed in Civil War 2. Anyhow, it was a fun low stakes comic book story about a heroine solving a murder mystery. I like those comic books, especially when I read too many comic books about the end of the world.

80. Saga volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - so here's the dissolution of the love story at the center of the comic book with Alana in an interactive broadcast vid that gets her money and addicted to drugs. The main character in this volume is a terrorist from the television headed people who kills the princess, kidnaps the baby prince and ends up kidnapping Hazel. This is a short and brutal chapter where the peace that's been established in between chapters (Hazel grows into a toddler) is shattered and the interplanetary war is given more context as the peoples are not fighting directly but fight through other cultures who don't like them very much.

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Books read in 2019 # 74-75 - WTF Endings [Aug. 5th, 2019|01:44 pm]
Tim Lieder
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74. There is a Tide... by Agatha Christie - I liked this book. I enjoyed the fact that Hercules Poirot doesn't show up until halfway through. I was relatively pleased that Christie gave an obvious answer to the murderer (the guy being blackmailed by the man claiming to know something) and then subverting those expectations and but then also fulfilling them. The basic story is that a woman inherits everything from her rich husband who has been taking care of his family. The woman and her brother are in town with the entire family resenting them both. Then someone shows up claiming that the woman's marriage wasn't legal because her first husband is really alive and he has proof. That guy ends up dead. Not going to give away anything except for the epilogue ending.

The epilogue ending involves one character who finds the brother sexy and doesn't want to go back with her fiance. Her fiance is boring. The brother is sexy. Her fiance has been engaged for years. But at the very end, she decides that she doesn't want the brother. She wants her boring fiance. So happy ending right? NO. The fiance tries to STRANGLE HER at one point in the book. So the only reason why she wants to be with this guy is because he tried to murder her. This is the most depressing ending in a Christie book and it's even more depressing because she frames it as a happy ending.

75.The Omega Men: The End is Here by Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda - This is a grand space opera with a minor Green Lantern (a white Lantern no less) getting involved in a rebellion/revolution against an interplanetary tyrant who killed everyone on a planet in order to prevent another Krypton. There's a lot of tyranny, space battles, sacrifices and it ends with everyone that we expected to be heroes trying to run their planets in the worst way possible. I liked it even with the bummer ending. Still I saw the ending only because I'm reading On Revolution by Hannah Arendt.

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Books read in 2019 # 68-73 - I really got to take these comic books back to the library [Jul. 22nd, 2019|01:45 pm]
Tim Lieder
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68.Old Man Logan: End of the World by Ed Brisson and various artists - Last week I read the Old Man Logan where they decided to bring him into the regular Marvel world. This seems like the Logan where they are kind of bored with alternative universe Logan and decided to bring him in line with the movie version dying of Adamantium poisoning. There are three separate stories in this thing - Logan fights a weird alien who is more afraid than malicious and makes sure that everyone in Alpha Flight goes along with killing it (dark), Punisher crew in the alternate universe do some shit (dumb) and Logan fights the Hulk or the Old Man Logan world Hulk who took over a small town in Canada and is running a fascist fiefdom. That one is a little too close to the modern politics where people go along with fascism because they are afraid (but not because they are totally into it which is an aspect that American politics is contending with). That story is pretty fun. You see we're halfway through the year as pretty fun is my major critical way of talking. It's got a great build up to Logan and Fascist Hulk beating on each other but the ending where Logan walks into the woods to die (or live depending on what is planned for him) is pretty meh. Damnit. Pretty meh is not a good way of writing about literature, even pop culture. Ok, let's try that again. It's nothing I haven't seen before and seems to be written solely for a way to get rid of a character that is already a misnomer because OG Wolverine is back!!!

69.Hunt for Wolverine: The Claws of a Killer by Charles Soule and artists. Wolverine is alive or IS HE??? No he's totally alive but why just put him out there if you can re-introduce him in a convoluted plot where Kitty Pryde takes him out of the metal casing that killed him and he's buried and now gone. So we get the main Wolverine villains as boring shells of themselves. Sabretooth has gotten cuddly in his old age and Lady Deathstrike is just a woman with claws who doesn't do much. I still remember Uncanny X-Men # 205 (give or take about 10 issues) where she was this sadist torturer drawn in a surreal fucked up manner and she actually seemed like someone who could dominate and destroy Wolverine if she wanted. And they end up in a town that the military turned into zombies. So whoopie. Or yeah, there's a third guy who is Wolverine's son so I guess that's a thing. I stopped reading mutant comics in the 90s and didn't really pick them up until recently and I guess that got added.

70. The New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis & various (including Howard Chaykin!) - This is really good and it's before they started getting serious about diversity in the Marvel universe (or serious about selling movies on an international market by introducing characters as test marketing for the movies coming out in 5-10 years). So there's a lot of characters that seems strange. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are a couple with a kid. Squirrel Girl is the nanny. They really didn't know what to do with Squirrel Girl before Ryan North took over the character. Or more they thought they knew what to do with her but it was too cute, took wink wink she talks to squirrels isn't that hilarious????? The main story is about how this team comes together which is kind of what every Avengers title is about. Even though Avengers is the movie standard in the comics, I always remember Avengers as the comic where they put all the heroes that weren't popular enough to get their own titles. Sometimes they did but it was more of a team deal. There's a lot of forward thinking in this one as if they really want to title to succeed so they include Spiderman and Wolverine and there are even Nazi robots blowing up the Avengers tower. ANyhow Bendis is pretty cool and this is one of his better ones.

71. Invincible Iron Man: War Machines by Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Deodato jr - This is not one of Bendis' good ones. There's a weird Japanese terrorist cult. Peter Parker Spiderman is a boring industrialist. Mary Jane is now a corporate organizer who saves the Stark company because she's really just that good. I kind of wish that they knew what to do with her after the whole marry Peter Parker story failed. Now we got a Marvel universe where Mary Jane is boring and Gwen is interesting. Anyhow Rhodes finds a cult in Japan. He gets caught because they can totally magnetize metal and then there are fights. Also Riri shows up in this one. She has the distinction of being the Marvel diversity character who gets all the hate because unlike Kamala Khan, Squirrel Girl, Korean Hulk, etc. she's not written very well and she's kind of boring. Actually Korean Hulk is pretty boring too but he doesn't get hate because misogyny.

72.The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: My Best Friend's Squirrel by Ryan North and Erica Henderson - because Ryan North made Squirrel Girl so awesome with the running joke of trolling Tony Stark on Twitter and computer programming jokes, it's really strange reading old comics with Squirrel Girl where the prime joke is "look it's a tail! And she talks to squirrels". It's a lot like getting into My Little Pony and then watchign the 80s cartoon that was made to sell toys. This story is delightful as Tippy and Nancy are kidnapped by squirrels who are getting conned by a fake Silver Surfer into believing that Galactus won't eat them for all their money. Sqirrel Girl shows up and so does Silver Surfer. There are a lot of jokes about heroes meeting up and fighting. Also computer programming jokes. And a reminder that Squirrel Girl is friends with Galactus because of course she is. And the footnotes is a joke that Ryan North started in Adventure Time comics but much better here since they are written in a readable font.

73.Rick & Morty volume 1 by Zac Gorman & CJ Cannon - So lots of Rick screwing around with Morty. Morty getting powerful and acting like he's gotten too big for himself. The comic books are fine but like all tie-in media they are working with the established characters. The part where Rick & Morty end up in a labyrinth that Rick designed is pretty great.

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Books read in 2019 # 63-67 - It was Shabbos so I read graphic novels [Jul. 14th, 2019|12:52 am]
Tim Lieder
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63. Battleworld: Star Lord & Kitty Pryde by Sam Humphries and Alti Firmansyah - Checking out comic books from the library can be a strange experience when you don't keep up with the titles on a regular basis. Marvel comics has gone through a Secret War, Civil War, Civil War II and a story where Captain America went full Nazi just as America elected one of the most odious pieces of shit to the White House (by the electoral college, not the popular vote). So Secret Wars apparently was a combination of Crisis on Infinite Earths and the original. It's Crisis in terms of bringing together all the alternate universe characters in one big story in order to work out some kinks from the original format (primarily for giving Miles Morales to the Marvel Universe proper). Like Secret Wars in that the format is fairly simple as everyone is on one planet fighting it out with Doctor Doom as god emperor (just like the only interesting twist in the original miniseries).

So Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde are a thing in the Marvel universe proper (as opposed to the film Marvel universe where the multiverse comes down to Universal, Sony and Fox). Only Kitty Pryde is nowhere and instead we get the Kitty Pryde who was an agent for Apocalypse in Age of Apocalypse. There's even an issue from Age of Apocalypse which reminds me of my initial impressions which were - cool concept, love the art and who the fuck wrote this thing? It's awful. Anyhow the main story of Quill and Alternate Pryde in a heist is about as low stakes as you can get and putting them together in the next story with Quill asking Pryde to marry him is just kind of dumb.

64. Sage vol 3 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples - Ok, now this makes a little more sense. Not much since the story mostly could start here with the one-eyed fictional version of Samuel Delaney puking on the baby. Yet, I know the characters a little better. I'm more sad that the author dies and see the stakes a little more clearly. Still love how the opposite of war turns out to be fucking. War & Fucking is a Russian novel we would all want to read.

65. She-Hulk: Deconstructed by Mariko Tamaki & Nico Leon with Dalabor Talajic - She-Hulk without She-Hulk. Just Jennifer as a lawyer with a case of a woman with a monster in her apartment and a landlord that is creepy enough to try to evict her for being not so hot anymore. She-Hulk is fresh off of Civil War II which was the one where Captain Marvel was an idiot, Bruce Banner died and there was a lot of talk of fascism. Anyhow she's got severe PTSD so the whole story is about getting herself right with herself and accepting her transformation into She-Hulk again which is something she does under duress in this case. The story is tight and full of mission statements over what She-Hulk can be, even if I think that the fun She-Hulk of Hell Cat is not really going to be around.

66.The Walking Dead vol 30: New World Order by Robert Kirkman & Stefano Gaudiano - I can appreciate the fact that the Walking Dead is more of a spiral than a circle. I can appreciate the fact that even though it looks like there's only one story going on with Rick and friends finding safety only to lose it, that there's a greater narrative about rebuilding society and bringing us back to the social order. That doesn't mean that I don't find this latest iteration of the gang finding a new place to live any more interesting. Ok, so the new place is a big city of 50,000 people where the issue that arises comes on pretty quickly. If I didn't know that this struggle was the last one and that the whole series just ended, I would have guessed that this is where things were going. In fact, the story of the spoiled brat son of the matriarch was already on the television show. I don't properly remember if it was in the comic as well, but it might have been. Either way Negan kills the brat so a new world order based on what people were like before the fall kind of throws things in the mixer. So this is a pretty dull affair. Negan is gone. The new safe place is bigger but it's got many of the same tensions. The last thing anyone says is to reference New World Order. I suppose the series ending is the best thing for it.

67.Uncanny X-Men: Survival of the Fittest by Cullen Bund & Greg Land - Speaking of boring, this is one of those stories that deals with the fact that Marvel was trying to push the Immortals as the new X-Men in the most blatant way possible. The meta-story of Marvel being pissed that they couldn't do mutant stories in the regular movies while the boring X-Men movies chugged along in the Fox banner is more interesting than any story coming out of it. So that's your answer to "Why isn't Kamala Khan's Ms. Marvel just a mutant?" And in universe the teragan cloud goes and kills the mutants and activates the Immortals and in this story we got Magneto fighting to save the mutants with a group trying to kill off the heroes. Also Genosha gets blown up, one of the saddest metaphors for South Africa (then Israel) to ever appear in comics gets a "I planted bombs to kill off these guys" send-off. Oh poor mutants. You will never get another Claremont.

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Books read in 2019 # 60-62 - This feels random but they are all cool [Jul. 12th, 2019|07:09 pm]
Tim Lieder
60.Journey to the West vol 3 by Wu Cheng'en, translated by W.J.F. Jenner - this is the third in the four volume set of what is basically the same book, but since every volume is 500 pages, I'm not going to wait until I finish reading the book. Besides I started reading it last year or the year before. I read other books in between. Basically, this is the chapter where they are still going around fighting demons and Sanzheng is an idiot, which is symbolic about the ways that faith has pitfalls, like when you see a beautiful Buddhist temple and your immortal monkey friend is warning you against it. Or when you go asking for food among women who are part spider who put you up in webbings in order to eat you - because you ignored your monkey friend. Basically, listen to the Monkey King. Seriously, the monkey king knows what's going on. Also Taoists are actually demons who are out to eat Buddhists. Apparently, not everyone is cool with being Buddhist in one situation and Taoist in another. Anyhow, this is still a fun book and the basis for many manga.

61. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John LeCarre - oh this was so good but it was also a little ridiculous. The fact that it wasn't a James Bond fantasy gives it a great deal of respect, but ultimately it's about a double agent who doesn't know that he's actually a triple agent in an elaborate plot by George Smiley (who is a walk-on cameo in this one) and others to get caught in his lies and then guarantee that their man in Germany is fine because he's about to get caught. It's a pretty intriguing book as it has a three act play structure with our hero pretending to drop out of British intelligence as a drunk in Act 1. Act 2 is him getting approached by the Commies and Act 3 is the trial where two different factions in East Germany are trying to make certain that the other faction goes down as a double agent. And since it's LeCarre, the ending is a bummer. It doesn't have to be a bummer but it certainly is.

62.Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafer - I realized that this book is very much in the Harry Potter plot mode of world building with one fight at the end. That's the basic outline but it's very different. The magic rules of the Leopard People are much different than the British private school that Rowling was doing. The evil goddess lurking in the background stays in the background until the ending and the main killer is well known so there's no Agatha Christie reveal. It's very fun.

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Books read in 2019 # 57-59 - Pretty Cool Comics [Jun. 26th, 2019|11:25 am]
Tim Lieder
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57.Old Man Logan: Warzones! by Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino - So Marvel decided to kill off Wolverine and then bring Old Man Logan into the Marvel universe since they were already bringing in Miles Morales. HOwever, where Miles Morales seems like a no brainer (the universe he was tied to isn't selling, he's one of the most popular new characters in decades, etc.), the introduction of Old Man Logan into the Marvel universe was a puzzle. Old Man Logan was a one shot miniseries that basically turned Wolverine into a Clint Eastwood character - traveling across America to avenge his easily fridged family - who fought a bunch of Hulks and ultimately the Red Skull because the Red Skull was president now. This book uses that world to a certain extent. Old Man Logan is still old with a failing healing factor. His friends are still dead. There are some bloody fights but in the end he ends up running into the X-Men and going to New York so yeah, Secret Wars! Also since it's a Secret Wars title Dr Doom is in charge and a god. I really didn't read the new Secret Wars so I don't know if this is stupid or clever. There is a fine line. The main thing that sells this book is the artwork. Sorrentino renders everything with the most beautiful dirty painting look. Even as the script is not exactly brilliant (it's Secret Wars tie-in starring a bad series after all), the artwork sells it. Everything is grim and fading and when Logan hits Manhattan it doesn't feel like a perfunctory entrance for a character into the Marvel universe proper. It feels like a truly terrifying moment in the life of someone who has lost everything and can't quite get what he's seeing. I actually want to know more.

58.Monstress, Vol 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda - Many years ago I tried to read an independently published (either self-pub or small press - the cover was beautiful) book where the writer attempted an infodump in the first paragraph. This killed all interest I had in reading the rest of the book (and it was a pretty long book too). Monstress is the opposite issue where I don't understand who is what and where everything is supposed to be. I think this is much better than spoon feeding and infodumps but I feel lost in the worldbuilding where there are tiger pirates and cat spirits and foxes. The story Maika Halfwolf seeking answers to what happened with her mother while a Cthulu type squid monster lives in her arm is definitely something and I'm going to keep reading it, but I feel like I'm falling into a pit of various politics and factions that I can only begin to fathom. The story definitely snaps into place when she journeys to the island with the main fox demon that knew her mother. The give and take of the discussion really clarifies a great deal, even as it's supposed to be a mystery what her mother was up to. Also, the art work is beautiful.

59.Saga vol 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - The artwork in this one is ok. It works. Also the main author that brings the couple together is based on Samuel Delany which makes me happy. A one-eyed Samuel Delany who gets shot in the leg, but still Samuel Delany. Just because Monstress (which I also love) is being reviewed in this same post, I do have to say that I think that Vaughan handles the world building better just because he gives you one very simple story to latch onto (the couple from warring worlds and their child fleeing bounty hunters and ex-lovers) in order to introduce the other areas in the world. I don't say that it always works. I still don't know what's going on with the television head people, but I don't quite feel like I'm drowning when I read it. One could also argue that Monstress has a simple story but there are so many details about pirates and warring factions and ancient demons who all have their motivations that it feels like being invited to a party where you don't know anyone and all you can do is listen to their chatter. Still Saga doesn't seem to be as ambitious. At least in the early stages. This part is simply an encounter with the in-laws, a flight from the bounty hunters and the death of the father. There are also flashbacks to how they met.

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Deadbeat Client - Falonne Milemba [Jun. 14th, 2019|01:37 pm]
Tim Lieder
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Falonne is one of those clients that I've had for a long time. She's sporadic so I waited for her to pay me the $50 that she owed me from the last paper. Instead of a payment, I got a snotty letter saying that I had done it wrong. She didn't say how I should do it.

Anyhow, here are the powerpoint presentation slides. I wrote them. If you are in a college where Falonne Milemba is attending, please know that she's been hiring me to write her papers for years. You probably shouldn't give her a degree. Falonne Milemba is not to be trusted.

Amazon Acquires Canvas Technology

Falonne Milemba
April 17, 2019

Main Points of Article

Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology.
AMAZON has purchased Canvas Technology
Canvas Technology is a startup that makes automated systems
The automated systems are designed with safety in mind
Amazon is adding these systems to their existing systems.

Canvas Technology
Started in 2015
Based in Boulder
Builder of Autonomous Cart System
System is designed for safety

Amazon
Owns a robotics unit
Will be adding Canvas Technology to its Robotics Unit
Has several factories and fulfillment centers throughout the world.

Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/
And here's the Youtube script that I wrote for her.

Automated systems are becoming more sophisticated as robotics advances. There are several issues with automation including speed and safety.
In the article “Amazon acquires autonomous robotics startup Canvas Technology”, Brian Heter writes that Amazon has purchased Canvas Technology, a startup robot factory operating out of Boulder, Colorado. According to Heater: “The deal makes a lot of sense from the outside, adding another important piece to Amazon Robotics’ growing portfolio of fulfillment center machines.” (Heater 2019). The first point is that Amazon has acquired the company and is happy to acquire the technology.
The second point is that Canvas is a well-regarded company that began in 2015 and has created an impressive portfolio of technology. This is the point where the author describes the autonomous cart system which is currently on display at Playground Global. This autonomous cart systems uses 3D imaging and in-house software in order to safely operate within a warehouse setting. The major advantage to the system is that it is designed with safety in mind and manages to fulfill its duty while avoiding people and obstacles.
Finally, Amazon already has a Robots’ offering which automates the Amazon factories and fulfillment centers. In this purchase, Amazon has added new technology to its existing automated system in order to add safety.
This article relates to the class because it conveys important business information. It will affect several stakeholders including buyers, management and fulfilment center workers. I chose this article because it centers the automated system within the realm of innovation instead of concerns about lost wages. Overall, this appears to be a profitable move on the part of Amazon.


Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/
And here is the paper (note how much work this is and I only charged $50. And she didn't pay.
Falonne April 17
The Tech Crunch article “Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology” makes the first point that Amazon has acquired Canvas Technology which is a robot factory. This article was written by Brian Heater for the site Tech Crunch. The first two paragraphs read like a press release with Amazon looking forward to working with Canvas Technology and its fantastic team.
The second point is the history of Canvas which is a startup founded in 2015 and has created impressive technologies including a fully autonomous cart system. This autonomous cart system is on display at Playground Global, The autonomous cart utilizes 3D imaging and inhouse software solutions in order to safely operate within a warehouse setting and avoids people and obstacles. In other words, the Canvas Autonomous Cart has a built-in safety with an autonomous vision system.
The third point is that Amazon is looking for an automated system that improves on Amazon’s systems. Amazon already uses automation but the Canvas system will help to improve Amazon’s distribution centers. Canvas can make a nice addition to Amazon Robots’ offerings which are currently being used to automate the Amazon factories.
This article relates to the class because it deals with business and I chose it for the nature of the automation. It mostly affects management.
Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/
So yeah, this is bullshit.
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Books read in 2019 # 55-56 - Horror comics [Jun. 12th, 2019|05:27 pm]
Tim Lieder
55.Uzumaki by Junji Ito. What can I say but HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT THIS IS SO FUCKING GOOD. Just fucking buy it or get it from your library. It's all about spirals. There's an afterward where Ito makes fun of the fact that he's using spirals as a horror trope (complete with getting invaded byu a bum eating soft serve ice cream and licking on a lollipop with a spiral pattern), but that spiral theme is fucking terrifying throughout the book. Stephen King can do silly becoming horrifying well and the book The Ruins made flowers into the most fucking terrifying monsters ever. In this one it begins with one guy obsessed with spirals to the point that he turns his body into a spiral. And then the book has three basic parts - or actually two basic parts. The first part is a lot of stories about spirals where the ash from the bodies spirals and if you make clay out of it, everything has the spirals in it but also the faces of the people dying. There are several single issue stories like the one where pregnant women act like mosquitoes and drain the blood of everyone in the hospital. It even ends with one of the babies getting the doctor to put him back. It's so fucking awful and hilarious. There are lovers who twist into each other and run away from their families. There's also the Medusa hair story where the hair gets all spiral like all the way through. Another girl wants it to become popular. She gets drained. The one about the girl with a small spiral on her head that takes over her entire face was made to be a t-shirt.

Then the hurricanes come and it becomes an end-of-the-world story like Pulse. I don't know why I'm thinking of Pulse. Maybe because the American version was "everyone dies and we are running away from our cell phones" while the original version is all about loneliness complete with a happy ending where the main girl gets to hang out with a lonely ghost. But I think that apocalypse and isolation are big in Junji Ito. Even though everyone is WAY too close to each other at the end they are still lonely. Even more lonely because they never get any time to themselves - being all twisted around each other. But then the ending - I really don't know what to make of the ending. Is the spiral complete? And it's over? I don't know. Either way, this is so good. I think it's his best.

56. The Walking Dead: Lines We Cross by Robert Kirkman - ok this one is pretty much another transitional one. Beta shows up and tries to kill Rick but then he's killed and he turns out to be once-famous. Like a basketball player. One group is trying to find Eugene's contact who turn out to be an even bigger settlement. There's a whacky purple hair girl who has been living alone in Pittsburgh. The main point of this one was to get rid of Negan once and for all. Maggie decides not to kill him even though he wants to be killed. He almost makes another Lucille but then he gives up that idea - knowing that it's just mourning for his dead wife. Kirkman claims that we are done with Negan and it looks like all the story to tell has been told. So that's it.

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Books Read in 2019 # 52-54 - Books that I REALLY REALLY liked. [Jun. 12th, 2019|04:16 pm]
Tim Lieder
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52. Frankenstein by Junji Ito - This is the year I discovered Junji Ito and my life was much better for it. His creepy art is so fucking hilarious and unsettling and he's also got a twisted sense of humor. That said, the adaptation of Frankenstein was not my favorite. He did make the monster (Adam Frankenstein) really unsettling. Most Frankenstein adaptations don't really make him unsettling. He looks a little ugly but the kind of ugly that most people would sympathize with. The Christopher Isherwood television movie "Frankenstein: The Real Story" even made a great deal about Frankenstein TURNING ugly. Like he was beautiful when he first started out but then started rotting and that deterioration made him crazy. In this version it's just Junji Ito making him out to look like a rotting corpse. He does take a great deal of the blame off of Victor by having Victor actually make a bride (who rejects Adam) and then Adam is the one that freaks out and keeps up the revenge.

The other stories are beautiful disgusting Ito. There's one where everyone's necks get long and one where people keep coming in from another dimension to bury bodies. The bog one is bizarre and Pen Pal is a rare psychological horror story where a boy meets a girl who keeps writing letters to pen pals who may or may not be imaginary (and when she stabs herself it could be delusional or just pissed off ghosts who don't want her talking to other friends. The unsettling thing about this kind of horror is that it's not the fault of the person being attacked. She is haunted by ghosts who want to be her friends and her only friends). The doll one has the dead daughter becoming a doll - and then getting all twisty and creepy in the Ito style.

But what I really love is the last story about his mom's dog. It's the same joke as Cat Diary where he draws a tender little sentimental story about pets but in the most horrifying way possible.



53. Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin - I have to confess that I really love Martin's side projects and delving into the history of Westeros. Sure, I would love it if I could be reading Winds of Winter (or even Here's Looking at You, Spring) right now, but these prequels are great fun. I especially love the way he uses the dry historical style in order to tell some of the most batshit crazy stories of people running off on dragons and coming back with worms coming out of them or the Dance of the Dragons itself. About half of the book is material that I've already read including the initial invasion and the Dance. But the material about the ruling of Jaenerys is pretty cool as is the ending where Aegon III goes form a scared kid ot a king willing to kick his advisors to the curb (especially as they were the ones who were using him for power games).

A side note- I really hope that the prequel is set in a science fiction universe with really cool technology and flying cars and since it's 5000 years before Game of Thrones, it NEVER says how all of this was lost. Kind of like how no one really knows how advanced the Bronze Age was, only the world was not in any state of stability until at least a 1000 years later.

54. The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan - Ok, I've already stated that almost every Amy Tan book has the same elements but damn, I could read all of them. You got the American daughter exasperated by her mother, the obnoxious busybody aunt and the really hardcore backstory about life back in China. In this one, the mother's story is the majority of the book and her marriage to an abusive husband almost gets really old as this guy is just terrible. Every single thing is a lie or a method of bullying. It makes me think that Amy Tan or someone she knows really well has been with an abusive spouse and there's nothing redeeming about him. This is still a beautiful book even for being her second one and I got a little weepy when it got to the point where the mother and Aunt Helen's relationship was most well known. I have criticized Maxine Hong Kingston for being a misery tourist, selling the worst Chinese experience to sympathetic white audiences (consquently many an Asian man has been attacked in order to "save Asian women" because of the stereotypical manner that Kingston plays into). THis has a great deal of that misery tourism going on. It was her second book but it's way more redemptive and warm than Kingston's awful shit. I know I should not compare one Asian woman writer to another especially when they were the only two around.

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Books read in 2019 # 48-51 - A whole lot of meh [Jun. 12th, 2019|12:45 am]
Tim Lieder
48.Adventure Time vol 6 by various - I really took out too many adventure time books form the library. As much as I like the stories and the characters, they are really running together. This is especially true in these volumes with various artists writing stories and drawing them. Best one in this one is Finn and Jake waiting at a bus stop when they could just walk over trees.

49. The Walking Dead: The Whisperer War by Robert Kirkman - When last we left the zombie people, Negan had cut off Alpha's head after winning her trust. The whisperers put peoples' heads on spikes to warn everyone to avoid their camp and the war begins. And it keeps going. I forget but Negan is pretty boring although it's nice when he actually admits that his baseball bat is really speical only because it was named after his dead wife.

50.Adventure Time vol 1 by various - The alarmist clock story was cute. It's a clock that won't turn off. And is very excitable. Don't remember the rest.

51.Walking Dead: A Certain Doom by Robert Kirkman and others - So now we end the role of Andrea who gets bitten. ANd then dies in agony and attacks Rick. Because Kirkman is good at speeaking angst out of everyone. Also once the hordes of zombies ar emosly killed - not without effort - Negan reminds the Survivors that they lost and he doesn't want to be leader. So this is the end of the Negan road. He's in the next volume but I doubt past it.

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Books read in 2019 # 47 - The bullshit sequel to Primal Fear [May. 20th, 2019|09:18 pm]
Tim Lieder
47. Reign in Hell by William Diehl - Fuck this book. This stupid fucking book was breezy enough so I can't hate it too much but after I'm doing reading it, my main takeaway is that Diehl didn't know what to do with the characters that he was trying to make into a Silence of the Lambs franchise. It kind of worked I guess. I wanted to read the book ever since I found out that there were sequels to the book that made the movie that made Edward Norton famous.

And the last 10 minutes of Primal Fear is pretty damn perfect. Edward Norton turning from nice guy into raging psychopath while bragging that he had been lying to Richard Gere the whole time is just a joy to behold. I could see why the original author would want to capitalize on that moment - whether before or after the film (I'm not looking this up - the scene is as written in the book). And maybe the book right after Primal Fear was pretty good as this is the third book in the series.

This book, on the other hand, didn't even need Aaron Stamper. He's just there to justify another Martin Vail book. Instead of anything about Vail and Stamper playing chicken as the world around them burns, this book is a 90s book obsessed with militias and the Turner Diaries. The book might as well be dedicated to Timothy McVeigh for all the material about anti-government forces and white racist terrorism. I wish I could say that it was a book of its time, but the whole Nazi militia angle is sadly contemporary.

The scenes where Vail is being brought into the investigation and where the president and friends are working against the militias are great. I love the investigation angle as well as the material about how the most anonymous person can figure into the spy network.

If the book was only about Martin Vail working with the government in order to take down white supremacist militias, I would have enjoyed it much more. I might not have gone out of my way to get a copy and looked forward to reading it, but I would have not been lest with a feeling of getting conned into thinking that I was reading a sequel to Primal Fear when I was really just reading a Martin Vail book with Aaron Stamper ridiculously shoved into the plot as a crazy radio racist preacher. He's in the beginning. He is mentioned in the middle and in the end when the government is raiding the compound, he tries to get away.

Having read the whole thing I kind of wish that it was not as well written. Then I would have given up early and not felt like I had been screwed over by the end.

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Books read in 2019 # 40 - 46 - Lots of Murder in these books [May. 11th, 2019|11:30 pm]
Tim Lieder
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40. Being Full of Light Insubstantial by Linda D. Addison - I don't really know how to review poetry well. It's poetry and my ability to approach poetry on its own level and say something smart about it can feel utterly pathetic. The first part of this book feels distant for me, but as the book goes on the poems become more intimate and emotional. There's a cosmic sense of purpose to the poetry toward the end. I quite enjoyed this one. I don't know what else to say about it.

41. Teen Titans Go! Ready for Action by J. Torres et al. - I like Teen Titans Go for the juvenile humor but also for the way it just doesn't take any of its premises seriously. The movie will always make me love it for the way that they had to fix their mistakes by sending Batman's parents down crime alley. My favorite story in this particular one is a video game one where people keep getting pulled into the videogame by Cyborg's enthusiastic opponent. Mostly this is for the bright colors and the shifting art styles. I quite loved it.

42. The Walking Dead volume 26: Call to Arms by Robert Kirkman - Negan kills Alpha. I don't think this ends the Whisperer story, but the main point is that Negan kills the lead Whisperer so that's pretty much that. Also the horrible kid who hit Carl with a brick is dead now too. That whole family is gone because of the Whisperers so they aren't all bad. But why that family was such a big deal is beyond me. They were basically just entitled rednecks. But Negan killed the kid and then got in with the Whisperers and killed Alpha. So that's fun.

43.Bob's Burgers Medium Rare by Various - When Movie Bob cited Bob's Burgers as the working class sitcom you should be paying attention to instead of the overrated new Roseanne, I couldn't help but agree. Bob's Burgers is one of my favorite cartoons and the comic book is...well, it's pretty great. I can't remember anyhting about it, but it let the writers have freedom with tone and character enough that it was a decent experience. So yes, I read the Bob's Burgers graphic novel. At least the first one. It was funny. I guess that's it.

44. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill - Did this one or Black Book come out first? The first two LXG collections were classics in their own right and then Alan Moore got self-indulgent. Black Book gave us an immortal Mina and Quartermain going through the 20th century with references to pop culture deep cuts. The beat novel was awful but the Jeeves & Wooster Cthulu story was quite good. This is less confusing than that one, but it is still a bit indulgent. This is the trilogy that ends with Moore declaring Harry Potter to be the anti-Christ, with his Harry Potter character killing off the Hogwarts. But this one, this particular one is slight and I wouldn't even bother if not for the fact that it mostly gets the Pirate Jenny song as a major theme.

Nemo dies (it's been enough time) and his daughter Jani wants nothing to do with him. In between the rest of the team trying to deal with Crowley and learn about the evil promised one, Jani gets a job and gets called Jenny as a woman sings many more verses of the song. They don't all fit with the rhyme scheme. Sadly, Alan Moore gets lazy and includes a rape scene. It's not like Jani couldn't get frustrated with being a servant and called upon her pirates without the rape. The whole point of the song is that the servant just can't wait to get the pirates to kill off the bosses. The rape just cheapens it.

45.The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen - This was the basis of the pilot for the Rizzoli and Isles show and I can see why this became the pilot instead of the first book as this seems like the first time Isles is introduced. The relationship between Isles and Rizzoli is professional and Rizzoli is much closer to the rest of the characters in the book. Mostly Rizzoli is chasing after a serial killer who is corresponding with The Surgeon from the first book and she's still traumatized by the Surgeon torturing her and trying to kill her. The Surgeon is playing mind games and it is fast paced enough not to get to hung up on some details. I will definitely read another Tess Gerritsen. I've been burned by writers before (Charlaine Harris being one prime example. One book and I love her. Second book and I am so over the "every monster wants to fuck Sookie" plot). I would have also preferred that Rizzoli caught the murderer in any way beyond getting kidnapped by him. I must say that if I read another Gerritsen book, I really hope that Rizzoli just catches her by working the case.

46. The Death Stench Creeps GYO by Juni Ito - Oh man, body horror is disgusting. I want to say something academic about how it is a great depiction of the fear of disease and dying as our very limbs betray us, but this book is about a disease that makes people smell bad and then has them expel gas from their mouths and butts. So we got a lot of farting which is then used by magical machines to run themselves on gas. Oh man, so disgusting. There are a couple short stories that seem more like jokes than horror stories. Like the one where Dad gets stuck beneath the supporting beam and does not want to be moved because the house would come crashing down. So he dies there. There's also one where people shaped holes end up in a mountain and they go into them. That's it. That's the story. Also they get all bendy in the tunnels.

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Another Deadbeat Client - you know the drill [Apr. 25th, 2019|10:41 am]
Tim Lieder
Ok. Once again, I get a client who needs something practically at the last minute, makes a bunch of demands, adds a new wrinkle to the assignment (apparently the one sheet is supposed to be single spaced - which was never communicated before I worked on it) and probably used it as an excuse to never answer my emails and not pay me. She owes me $50.

Anyhow, one of these was a script for a video that she was supposed to make. I'm sure she made it. Anyhow, if you think any of this looks familiar, then that's because it's plagiarized and the student hired me, Tim Lieder, to write the paper.
Automated systems are becoming more sophisticated as robotics advances. There are several issues with automation including speed and safety.
In the article “Amazon acquires autonomous robotics startup Canvas Technology”, Brian Heter writes that Amazon has purchased Canvas Technology, a startup robot factory operating out of Boulder, Colorado. According to Heater: “The deal makes a lot of sense from the outside, adding another important piece to Amazon Robotics’ growing portfolio of fulfillment center machines.” (Heater 2019). The first point is that Amazon has acquired the company and is happy to acquire the technology.
The second point is that Canvas is a well-regarded company that began in 2015 and has created an impressive portfolio of technology. This is the point where the author describes the autonomous cart system which is currently on display at Playground Global. This autonomous cart systems uses 3D imaging and in-house software in order to safely operate within a warehouse setting. The major advantage to the system is that it is designed with safety in mind and manages to fulfill its duty while avoiding people and obstacles.
Finally, Amazon already has a Robots’ offering which automates the Amazon factories and fulfillment centers. In this purchase, Amazon has added new technology to its existing automated system in order to add safety.
This article relates to the class because it conveys important business information. It will affect several stakeholders including buyers, management and fulfilment center workers. I chose this article because it centers the automated system within the realm of innovation instead of concerns about lost wages. Overall, this appears to be a profitable move on the part of Amazon.


Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/

This was the second thing I wrote for this client. There's also a powerpoint that I can attach but I'm going to wait to see what the client does.

Falonne April 17
The Tech Crunch article “Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology” makes the first point that Amazon has acquired Canvas Technology which is a robot factory. This article was written by Brian Heater for the site Tech Crunch. The first two paragraphs read like a press release with Amazon looking forward to working with Canvas Technology and its fantastic team.
The second point is the history of Canvas which is a startup founded in 2015 and has created impressive technologies including a fully autonomous cart system. This autonomous cart system is on display at Playground Global, The autonomous cart utilizes 3D imaging and inhouse software solutions in order to safely operate within a warehouse setting and avoids people and obstacles. In other words, the Canvas Autonomous Cart has a built-in safety with an autonomous vision system.
The third point is that Amazon is looking for an automated system that improves on Amazon’s systems. Amazon already uses automation but the Canvas system will help to improve Amazon’s distribution centers. Canvas can make a nice addition to Amazon Robots’ offerings which are currently being used to automate the Amazon factories.
This article relates to the class because it deals with business and I chose it for the nature of the automation. It mostly affects management.
Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/
Ok. Let's see if I get paid for this one.
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