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Tim Lieder

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Books read in 2017 # 140 - 142 - Shigeru Mizuki [Nov. 5th, 2017|10:32 pm]
Tim Lieder
140. Showa 1944-1953 by Shigeru Mizuki - The only book I haven't read in this series is the book that takes place in the middle where Japan goes to war and is winning. This is the book where he loses his arm and the army tries to order the solders into certain death. Most of this material has been covered in As We March to Our Noble Deaths but it doesn't seem as angry but that's probably because it has some relief in the form of a tribe of people on the island who keep giving him shelter and food while it also goes into the civilian life and it has the same aspect as the first book which is that he portrays himself as lazy and incompetent and he can't find a job. Also all the political stuff is narrated by his character Rat Face who is the ghost with a hoodie and whiskers who is always trying to get ahead in con artist games. By the end of the book he is off to Tokyo to get into more artistic stuff (proto-Manga) with uncertainty in his future and the future of Japan while we're at it. They are teaching civics and democracy and free speech from text books where many of the sections are crossed out. The irony is noted by Rat Face.

141. Showa 1953-1989 - Why do we work so hard? Seriously, there are cultures where they don't value working from first coffee to after midnight. Hell, most of the material in the first three books about Shigeru being a slacker seems to be a prelude to the point where he would become successful with his art and then never get a fucking break ever. So he spent over thirty years in abject misery because he was always at the mercy of deadlines and dreaming about missing them. Meanwhile his characters are getting more involved in the operation and he is having dream sequences where he dies and he's replaced by an automaton that is always asking for more work or time. The historical events tend towards the crazy scandals just like the original book where everyone is fascinated by the woman who cut off her boyfriend's penis because she was that obsessed (I saw In the Realm of the Senses so I knew that story but not from the perspective of teenage boys reading about it in the papers). Some of the historical events seem biased in the narrative (like a rather neutral take on the Cultural Revolution) but most of the time he is talking about Japan that seems much more chaotic and on the edge of collapse that it appeared to outsiders. Also he notes that as much as Japan turned against militarism it made a great deal of its money from the U.S. using it for military bases. Also he finally gets back to the tribe that gave him shelter during the war and I find it strange that he seems obligated but also strangely unperturbed by the obligation. He buys them a car but also is just a little sad that a woman who fell for him died in the meantime. But mostly this book sounds like a scream for help in the treadmill work style. No wonder he talked a great deal about his early laziness and inability to do any job. The slacker phase is probably similar in Japan as America in that it's built upon a dread of getting trapped in the work work work life. At least that's how it appeared.

142. Shigeru Mizuki's Hitler - So yeah...Hitler. Poor Hitler. The main popular culture image I got from reading this book was the South Park Christmas Special where Satan takes pity on crying Hitler because Hitler doesn't have his Christmas tree. Mostly this focuses so much on Hitler that it's kind of hard to see the world in relation to his policies especially when he becomes powerful. This is a narrative choice and it's interesting to see how Mussolini kept changing his mind about Hitler and gives a reason for the invasion of Russia beyond chutzpah. But by the end of the book Hitler is dead and when Mizuki reminded himself and the reader that there was a Holocaust happening, I almost felt like the theme was that if only Hitler had gotten to see more death camps he would have been much happier. But of course, this is the Japanese perspective where Hitler is just one of the people that helped to get Japan in the final stages of a shitty war.
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Books read in 2017 Addendum 1 - Rape Culture goes way back [Nov. 5th, 2017|09:49 pm]
Tim Lieder
How I Became Hollywood's Favorite Party Girl... by Virginia Graham - This woman has written this same book three times under different titles. The first title was Confessions of a Hooker and the latest title is Frank Sinatra, Charles Manson & Me. It's basically the same book but she edited some parts and took out some jokes. When I first read it, I had a little excitement, like finally I can send a book to Nathan Rabin for his Silly Showbiz Book Club but also this was like the Rosemary Clooney autobiography I read a few years back where the subject of the book was feminism regardless of what the author claimed it was (in the case of Clooney she basically sacrificed a great deal of her career in order to cater to a man who cheated on her and was not nearly as talented. She was writing about her nervous breakdown after these events that she fully believed in because women's place yada yada).

So there was some fun material about the ways that women are valued for their sexuality as if it's some kind of prize that they have to keep. So rebels end up in the doldrums of the society, making the decisions that leave them even more proscribed than the prudish standards. Female sexuality is always punished in our society and that's even more true in the 1950s and 1960s where the attempts at independence are met with exploitation. Virginia Graham shows what happens to a woman who doesn't conform to standards and finds herself with two kids and then a husband who is pimping her out. It even becomes creepy as she starts to get other women into the business and finds ways of keeping their money. As I was starting to get tried of her stories, she would come out with a line about how her husband was mad but then some other stupid girl cut her wrists, as if slashing her wrists was the most natural thing in the world.

But eventually it sinks in that Virginia is awful. She is a victim of the men that push her into prostitution and the social order that sees no other purpose for her. Even as she brags about all the men that she is manipulating into giving her money (with the odd "I don't want to be stereotypical but the Jews were always trying to negotiate to make sure that they were getting something for their money" - which is a strange complaint in the context of "the men came and gave us gifts and we gave them whatever, sometimes sex but often just a nice party..." If she is cheating the customers then why is she upset that the customers don't want to be cheated?) she is still part of a pimp/whore relationship with a volatile man who constantly abuses her.

Yet she is also getting other women into prostitution and even setting up banks in order to keep their money (they get it back as long as they stay six months - most don't stay six months) and her talk about men seems so pedestrian. Hell, the long chapters in the middle are where she lost me because she talked about all the freaks, but they didn't seem very freakish. I'm sure that she intended to shock by talking about the men who wanted to be beaten, but all I could think about was the fact that she didn't have safe words.

There are two reasons why she got published. First, she had sex with Frank Sinatra or she claimed to have sex with Frank Sinatra. She says he had a "big pecker" which makes one wonder what happened to that term. It used to be all the rage. Actually, this is her major claim to fame in her own mind. Nothing much happens here but that's the way it is with boring story tellers. If they didn't name drop they wouldn't have a story. Actually this is the theme behind celebrity gossip magazine. If I told you a couple with several children was getting divorced and that couple began dating while one of the spouses was married to someone else. And oh yeah there might be child custody issues because one of the people has anger management issues as seen by witnesses, you might feel sad but you would also wonder why I am telling you about them. But as soon as they are Brad Pitt and Angolina Jolie they become the source of millions of stories in painful details.

But of course the REAL reason why she got a publishing contract for this book was because she was the main witness in the Charles Manson trial after Susan Atkins blabbed all of her secrets to her in jail. Actually she might not have been the main witness but she was the witness that helped them build the case to convict. And around the midway mark where she teases out Manson (like mentioning that Atkins talked about killing Sinatra) I am wondering when the fuck she is going to get the Manson and shut up about the guys who like wearing women's underwear (seriously the internet has rendered many things non-shocking).

So I skimmed the book and it's boring and full of family drama that just goes on until finally she is in jail again and twenty pages before the end, she meets Atkins. And then snitches on her which she feels bad about, but not so bad that she doesn't want the book contract. So basically this woman used her good luck when it comes to prison roommate assignments in order to write one tell-all for a woman who didn't really do much and provided services for people that she won't name and finally just left Los Angeles.

It's fascinating for what it represents - a tell-all by a boring woman who wants to be a celebrity, someone who would have been on reality television - instead of for what it is, a rather long book with sex stories that don't amount to much.
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Thoughts on Nanowrimo from someone who occasionally edits them [Oct. 31st, 2017|10:00 pm]
Tim Lieder
A long time ago, I tried Nanowrimo, got about 10,000 words in and stopped because it was becoming too complicated for me to write all the way through. A few years later, I angered many of my livejournal friends by saying that I found the whole thing annoying. We were all so dramatic back then. I did not realize that "go ahead and write your novel but leave me out of it" was terribly rude to people who were mostly writing their nanowrimo novels so they could talk about the books that they were writing.

Years later and with some reflection, I am pretty neutral about nanowrimo. I still don't want to hear about it but that's the same as how I don't want to hear about football or the details of your real estate deal. Just no interest.

But the main thing about nanowrimo is that everyone writes differently. Nanowrimo encourages people who write in a particular manner to write their novels - usually their first and only unpublished novel - in the same way that Stephen King writes his novels. Write all the way through (2000 words a day) and when you are finished, put it in a drawer and pick it up again five months later and edit it. With Nanowrimo you can at least find out if that kind of writing works for you. However, it has limits even with Stephen King who does it well. Stephen King allows the characters to naturally develop and drive the plot but he also doesn't really have much control when it comes to the plot and the endings are terrible.

However, most writers do not write all the way through. They come to interesting places, they go back, they edit thoroughly. They map out characters. They get stuck and then they read everything they just wrote. They throw out pages of content because that's not where the story was going.

And these kinds of writers are just as acceptable as the Stephen King types and it doesn't matter how so much as something gets written.

However, what happens when a non-nanowrimo writer attempts nanowrimo? There are plot holes and characters that don't matter and large spots of exposition that are just there to keep the writer from forgetting these details. Now sure you can outline the story beforehand, but that is still going to not make the characters interesting if you are rushing to get them on paper.
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Other things that Kevin Spacey could have said besides his half-apology [Oct. 31st, 2017|06:53 pm]
Tim Lieder
I know I'm a day late here, but Kevin Spacey's weird apology compared to Harvey Weinstein's rambling non-apology almost seems decent. Oh sure, he made two terrible gaffs straight out of the are you fucking kidding me apology handbook, but at least he made a conditional apology that went if it happened I owe him an apology. Now if he stayed at that one it might have been a great way to just say sorry without explanation or equivocating, but nope. Who can do that? Certainly not David Cross who couldn't even apologize right for a sin that is common enough to be understood (making racist jokes when first meeting someone of a different race) to the point that it's a sitcom trope. But Kevin Spacey after a not perfect but still apology goes on with two different things - coming out as gay and using the drinking as his excuse. As we are seeing with Andy Dick, drugs may explain but not excuse bad behavior. And then going "you know what, I haven't been out before, but I'm gay!" was such a fucking bad move. Unless you want to join NAMBLA, don't make coming out of the closet part of the way that you apologize for trying to fuck a 14 year old.

There are very few things that he could have said that would have been worse including:
1. I was reading a lot of Greek literature
2. It was Sparta!!!
3. Who hasn't tried to fuck a 14 year old?
4. If he was two years older, it would have just been creepy and rude instead of a criminal offense.
5. Come on, it's Anthony Rapp. Have you seen him? He's adorable and who would have watched Rent without him?
6. I was only 26 which in actors' years is barely 17.
7. But nobody talks about all the 14 year old boys who had a good time!
8. When I was 14, 26 year old actors fucked me at cast parties and I had fun.
9. So that scene in American Beauty where it looks like I'm getting a blowjob from the teenage neighbor is going to be really uncomfortable now.
10. Well at least this will hopefully stop people from talking about Pay it Forward.
11. He said he used it to become a better actor. You're welcome, Tony!

There are so so many but I got more work.
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Vince Crandon might not be a sex offender - more notes from the Mahwah City Council debacle. [Oct. 27th, 2017|02:38 pm]
Tim Lieder
Mahwah, New Jersey is a small town in New Jersey where a loud contingent of its citizenry is freaking out over the possibility of Jews moving in. These are the Jews in Monsey and if anyone in that city talks about building a wall, they are talking about building a wall between Monsey and Mahwah. While there are plenty of decent Mahwah citizens, the Tromp supporters are emboldened by their candidate supporting white supremacists and have gone on the xenophobic cheerleader squad.

More information is on http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2017/10/the_ugly_anti-semitic_quotes_attributed_to_mahwah_residents.html

However, one of the residents that is particularly odious is Vince Crandon. Vince Crandon is a guy who is attempting to be a big shot real estate developer but just loses money and annoys people. He's like a version of Tromp whose daddy only ripped off people in the hundreds of thousands instead of the millions.

CreepVince
I mean just look at this creepy bastard.


Vincent likes to sit in at city council meetings, at the front with his creepy stare and monitor everyone at the meeting. He also set up a "neighborhood watch" which acts like his personal gestapo and follows Jews around Mahwah. Ok, granted, they aren't killing the Jews - just watching them and waiting and hoping for the politics to allow them to do it. They are basically around to threaten Jews.

So I commented on a few things, mostly noting that he's the creep that is harassing Jews. So he sent me the following.

crandon1

Yes, I gave as good as I got, but note that he doesn't like "writers" because he is a failure in every way. Of course, since he went to the University of Phoenix, he might as well be jealous of actual writers and people that do things with their lives. I bet the man never read a book that wasn't a pamphlet.

Anyhow, I was contacted by someone asking about him and I googled both of their names and found this lovely thing - https://www.pacermonitor.com/public/case/20881170/Roemmele_v_Crandon_et_al - Where Vince Crandon swindled $27,000 from his friend by getting him to "invest" in a new venture a few weeks before he declared bankruptcy.

That's fraud. So I got this exchange.

Crandon2

Now I should note that I am NOT getting paid by Vince Crandon's wife to leave comments on his FB page in order to drive him crazy and lay down the casework for her divorce lawyer. She's officially NOT leaving him yet. Also if I was getting paid by Vince Crandon's wife or someone close to Vince Crandon, I would not give away my client's information, especially if my client is still paying me. Granted, if the client stops paying then all bets are off but so far, no problem.

I should also note that I suggested that Vince Crandon is a sex offender. Now I do not know that Vince Crandon is a sex offender. Vince Crandon might be a sex offender and Vince Crandon might not be a sex offender. I suspect that he's a sex offender because of that creepy stare and the way that he tries to bully everyone who criticizes him - pretty much in the same way that a sex offender bullies his victims. But Vince Crandon is probably only giving Rob Hermanson hand jobs behind the back of the city council offices. Joke. I mean sure, it's not likely that Vince Crandon and Rob Hermanson have a physical relationship. They are probably only METAPHORICALLY sucking each other off, but Rob Hermanson needs to be political. After all, he wished all the Jews (that he's trying to keep out of Mahwah at the behest of his lord and master Vince Crandon) a merry Rosh Hashana.

And when challenged he came up with this lovely bon mot -

follow-our-laws

Granted, he wasn't talking about lynching. He only SOUNDS like someone who defends lynching.

But that's Rob Hermanson's burden to bear as he continues to try to push Jews out of Mahwah and speak the words of his lord and master Vince Crandon.

Edit - I had to misspell 45's name because I have the Make America Kittens Again app.
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Books read in 2017 # 139 - Yokai, Children and Fascism [Oct. 16th, 2017|03:40 am]
Tim Lieder
139.Showa 1926-1939 A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki - I have been skipping books because they were entertaining fluff books and some have been pointless. I don't think I should use this project to review books where the only thing I have to say about them is "it was entertaining and now I don't remember it" but I probably should have talked about Mizuki's Kitaro book which are fun and weird but I guess it was just too fast. And I already stopped reviewing One Punch Man even though I finished reading them and they are a source of pure joy. But in the case of One Punch Man the one joke is being told repeatedly and there are no new ways to talk about it. By contrast, Kitaro is a comedy of ghosts and spirits where faces can get stolen and monsters are waiting in graveyards.

But mostly I wish that I had reviewed the Kitaro book because Rat Man is the narrator of this comic. The notes say that Rat Man (Nezumi Otoko) is a beloved cartoon figure like Donald Duck in America and since its Mizuki's creation, why not use him? Well it's a little weird since Rat Man is stealing faces and robbing people in the Kitaro series and in this book, he is talking about the rising fascism in Japan, the political instability in China and assassinations. So it is like Donald Duck narrating a comic but Donald Duck talking about the rise of Hitler.

Like Noble Deaths this book combines cartoon style with realistic backgrounds. When the book is about the author's childhood everything is very cartoony but when it's about the Japanese history unfolding, it's photo realistic - except Rat Man is narrating which is very weird. In the childhood stories, I have read several of these in other books by the author including tales of being followed by Yokai, throwing rocks at playmates and the old lady that was a family friend who told him about these Yokai. There are also stories about his father trying to make a go at the business but they are not quite as explicit as in Nonnoba (sic?) .

As far as Japan is concerned, this book is going to be the grimmest book in the series because it's about the rising of militaristic Japan where people who could have known better were silenced in the desperation that came with earthquakes and starvation and a crashing economy. I have yet to read the second book where Japan is at war (although I am reading the third one where Japan loses and I expect the theme of Japanese soldiers being angry from being told to kill themselves), but I suspect this will remain the nastiest chapter. But it's also interesting to see Mizuki depict his young life as one of laziness where he can't even stay at a job for more than a couple weeks.
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Message to the friend who is way too defensive to hear it right now. [Oct. 10th, 2017|01:15 am]
Tim Lieder
When you sent me an "apology" today I told you that you need therapy and you started arguing with me. So fine, you don't want to hear it and you hinted at a dark and painful past. Obviously you still need therapy but now you are asking me why you need therapy and not satisfied with the answers I am giving you. You are also saying that I am "raw" from last night when we were hanging out because you want to turn this into something that you can apologize for. The fact that you are an exhausting friend is not something that you can simply promise away.

So yes, let's get the "Tim is just angry" part of the discussion out of the way, because I am irritated and annoyed and I suppose in some self-help books that's called anger. You invited your friends to the Sukkah to eat grilled meat and hang out. You also promised that up-with-people singing which is fine because I was warned and if I go to an event with singing I can do all I can to tune it out. But mostly I was there to hang out with friends. I was there to hang out with you as a friend.

And then just as we were mostly finished eating and I was having a conversation about books and plays with your actor friend, you decided to make it all about you. I get it. You grew up on the Upper East Side and being self-involved is endemic to the culture. Usually you aren't so self-involved that I can't have a conversation but last night, you decided to do the full monologue and it wasn't enough that you had some DEEP THOUGHT to say. You had to tell us to stop talking so you could give us your DEEP MONOLOGUE and when we tried to protest you decided to go with the pity party option. You got tears in your voice and said that you have self-doubt, suggesting that the only thing standing between you and the deep void of self-pity was us listening to your fucking story.

And this is where my upbringing comes up because I was raised by a single bipolar hoarder mother and I do not like to be emotionally manipulated. Even if the emotional manipulation is coming from a genuine place, it is still manipulation. But you know what? I will also give people the benefit of the doubt.

So I listened to your fucking speech. You talked about hornets and cockroaches. I knew you were drunk and probably stoned, but I thought maybe you will get to the fucking point. Just maybe this is an important anecdote and I should listen because you listen to your friends, but then you decided that since you had the spotlight you were going to milk it until you got to some long ass story about how you were walking through Jerusalem and you got freaked out by a guy in a hoodie who might have been following you. And you just kept repeating the details and repeating them and never getting to the fucking point.

When it seemed like you had stopped, I tried to change the conversation citing an anecdote about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and Trotsky. You acted like I had broken your favorite toy. You asked me what it meant as if it was more important than it was and then I talked about how Trotsky and Frida were lovers you used it as a platform to babble about how people are people or some such shit. You didn't get that I was just trying to tell a fucking story. A small and interesting detail in the history of art.

I wanted a conversation, instead I got a lot of hemming and hawing about how you don't read and some bullshit about how I intimidate you for reading books or whatever. That pisses me off and what's worse is that you purposefully don't get it. I was trying to have a fucking conversation. That's it. I was not trying to intimidate you or challenge you or even act like a teacher. I was trying to have a conversation but NOOOOOOO, actual communication is too much for you.

So yeah, I was mad and disgusted and remembering every other fucking time I have had to play audience to your monologues. I don't mind that you miss the point. I don't even mind that 90% of the time your approach to conversation is to wait for the other person to stop talking. Hell, I'm accustomed to that behavior in many others. But I do not appreciate being actively dismissed. And that's what you were doing.

And then you AGAIN launched into one of your monologues only this time you had to say every racist thing your dad said and then you started crying about how your dad rejected you when you were a teenager and how you don't want to hear him reject you now. And how you don't want to reject him.

This is the kind of shit you tell to a therapist. I was there to EAT FOOD AND HANG OUT. I was NOT there to act like a free therapist and hear you crying about your father. I don't know my father because the sonofabitch stop coming around after he was forced to pay child support. You don't see me hijacking conversations to bitch about that.

But gets to the main point which is YOU NEED THERAPY which is what I said when you threw a word salad of excuses at me this morning. And you need therapy because you think that you can impose your wounded feelings and sense of self-loathing on your friends when they just wanted to hang out with you. I don't care if you were drunk or high. These are issues that have been bothering you for so long that you willingly sabotaged a "let's just hang out" gathering. No, I don't know what you went through but if you don't have the impulse control to keep from throwing your emotional shit at friends while using emotional blackmail to keep them there, you need to work on that shit.

I might say this to you and get the defensive reaction, but I think I might end up just not talking. It's pretty much up in the air right now.
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Books read in 2017 # 137-138 - God Stuff [Oct. 9th, 2017|02:03 am]
Tim Lieder
137. Miracleman book 3: Olympus by Alan Moore & John Totleben - So I am getting more picky about the books I count in this little experiment. I remember doing this in the past and not reviewing books like Angel: A Waste of Fucking Time and Buffy: Holy Fuck Why? I only mention this because I decided not to review Shigeru Mizuki's Kitaro book because it was the first of a larger series and while the stories were fun Yokai stories, I just felt it was slight, but then I found that he used the rat faced ghost from that book as the narrator in his Showa series and that makes everything surreal, especially in the volume where Japan is losing the war. I only say this because I didn't want to forget it in other places, but for the most part I don't want to review every graphic novel I read because a lot of them are Bullshit Time Travel or Micronauts or Wolverine runs around or the last One Punch Man comic, and there's really no way that I can say anything substantial about the latest chapter of One Punch Man.

So that's a bit of a ramble to get to this review of Miracleman which brings back great memories of buying these last three issues at the comic book store. Everything before these chapters seem like prologue, but when you get to the dancing Miracleman who loses everything, the chapter where Kid Miracleman kills London and there are corpses on wires all over the place and the last chapter that places everything into a divine and soft fascism (No money! Drugs are cool! People have the option of becoming superheroes) it's really the Miracleman that I loved and it's also why I was disappointed in the first couple volumes because they were setup to this brilliant painful ending where superhero fighting fucking destroys things and there's a ton of collateral damage. Oh sure, now we talk about how all these massive action scenes are full of off-screen death (or onscreen death if the directors have the courage of convictions) but we are living in a post 9/11 world where the Michael Bay movie happened and everyone just died (and there was a good six months when no one wanted to see movies that involved massive property destruction). At the time it seemed like such a novelty but even now it's pretty brutal.

It's not perfect. I found the "some say that this happened" bits rather sad and the ending felt a bit too perfect with Alan Moore leaving the title at an ending that no one could possible continue. Neil Gaiman was in charge of writing the title after this story and his Miracleman stories were boring until the company just folded with broken promises and limbo copyright. But it's quite brilliant and definitely worth a new read.

138.The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin - Again I love this series. Again I get used to the world and marvel at the way that it pushes in directions that I never expected and by page 200, I want to just keep reading until I am finished. I woke up at two in the morning and couldn't get to sleep on Saturday and so I read this book. And read the final 150 pages in one sitting because I wanted to keep going. Shortly before the end, I had to admit that I liked The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms better. This book shares too many of the same plot lines - young woman with a dead parent encounters the gods and then gets stuck in a long and drawn out conspiracy that involves the three main gods in this world. Also the protagonist of this book shares a personality with Yeine from the first book even though she is in this one. Only the world is different because now that Itempas is exiled from his spiritual fascism and the heavens have released the rest of the godlings. The possibility of demons is raised as the god/human children are magical but die. There's also a middle part where Oree is held in thrall by a cult and that feels a little too much like the camping parts of the last Harry Potter movie.

But the heart of the book seems to be Itempas, even though he's a secondary character, making the first stumbling steps into redemption that falls into his family and his ability to accept humanity as anything other than slaves. It's a beautiful book but I suspect that I will like it a lot better when I read the third book and see the whole picture.
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Books read in 2017 # 130-136 - Just clearing out the queue [Sep. 27th, 2017|06:11 pm]
Tim Lieder
130. The Orsinian Tales by Ursula Le Guin - So I read a bunch of books over Rosh Hashana but I read a lot of books before Rosh Hashana. In fact, I was sitting on these books and this book and the next one was going to go under the heading "short stories" because they embodied what most short story anthologies do which is to have a few good ones but a lot of meh stories. This is also a book that I quit reading, gave to a woman who used to come to the deli to read. She loved it so I gave it another chance and it's still pretty boring. The one story that stands out is the story of a man who encounters the same woman three times in his life. First, he is her suitor and he is impressed by her insistence on never getting married. Then he is a soldier for a usurper and she is the last holdout for the old king. He makes a deal with her brother to fool her into escaping and no one feels good about it. Again he is impressed, too impressed, like she is this shining beacon of independence that even he can't approach. And then finally he meets her when he is 70. He has been a soldier all of his life becoming a hero by putting out all the civil wars and uniting the country. She is a matronly grandmother. He is disappointed in her because she did get married and had children and attended dinner parties. She is bemused by him because he is a reminder of her youthful extremism. Since the story is from his perspective, he thinks that she should have died died a long time ago. There are other stories in this thing. Some are too long and some are quite good. It all takes place in the same European country at different times.

131. The Silver Age World's Finest, volume 1 by Various - So Batman and Superman really have no reason to hang out beyond the fact that they are both flagship heroes. This is a problem that has plagued the DC universe for years, but I was amused to see that their first adventure where they are stuck together on a cruise ship and learn about each other's secret identities was retold almost beat for beat in either the New 52 or the latest DC big housecleaning gambit. Anyhow the big thing that struck me is that calling certain eras in comic books Golden or Silver is seriously a misnomer. Golden Age is all crime fighting while Silver Age is goofy shit. So instead of Batman punching out criminals with bad pop psych (Two Face was literally driven mad from being ugly on one side of his face. All he needs is a facelift and he's cool - only the main plastic surgeon is stuck in Germany in a Concentration Camp - nope I don't think they realized how dark that was) he is playing to a host of time travelers and goofy clowns and the Riddler. With Superman in the mix, there's a lot of switching places or shenanigans where Batman and Superman are flirting with the same woman (but it's really a trick) while Lois Lane really seems like a very bad investigative journalist if she can't figure out Superman's secret identity. Some of these stories are fun but I had to read it slowly (I renewed it 10 times before I had to take it back to the library) because you can't read that many dumb Silver Age stories at once. Beyond Will Eisner, there don't seem to be many good stories coming out of these eras. But they are distinctive.

132. Flash vol 2: Speed of Darkness by I don't know - Why did I even include this one? It was ok but there was nothing memorable since it's the same crap about Barry Allen trying to mentor the younger Flash who is the nephew to his not-yet-girlfriend because reset button. There's a cool story about a former villain trying to make things right but yeah, this was largely forgettable shit and really nothing to even remember. Comic books like to hit the reset button but it gets real old to have to read the same fucking stories about a superhero's love life with the same woman that have been so done to death.

133.Before Watchmen: Minutemen & Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Connor - For various reasons the DC Corporate's fan fiction cash grab was truly stupid. Everything that Alan Moore left as subtext became context and every mystery that you didn't care about was examined. Both of these stories were entertaining enough but neither of them justified their existence. The Minutemen had a little more to go on since it gave us the story of the lesbian heroine who was doing more than looking cool and being a lesbian. She was also tracking down child molester/murderers based on some tortured narrative devices that require time travel as she was supposed to have been a child in the camps but the story was taking place in the 1940s. Also it was supposedly the real book that Nite Owl was writing with all the scurrilous details. One bit where Silk Spectre avenges the lesbian's death (sorry I forgot her name) and The Comedian makes it all go away sort of explains why the Comedian is Laura's father. But yeah, it all leads to the Comedian framing Hooded Justice (who never takes off his fucking hood which isn't ridiculous in the original but feels real stupid when he's the focus) for all those child murders and then getting Nite Owl to kill him. That was a massive turd.

As far as Silk Spectre is concerned, Laurie runs off to San Francisco and ends up with hippies. She takes bad drugs (that are engineered to make tripping hippies into consumers) and accidentally kills Frank Sinatra. Also the Comedian shows up to scare her boyfriend away forever (so I suppose that explains why she ends up with Dr. Manhattan) and then she comes home and THEN she goes to the New Minuteman meeting depicted in the original series, even though that makes no fucking sense because if she went through all of that WHY is she a teenage girl going to a vigilante team meeting in a costume that her mom picked out for her? She's supposed to be innocent in that first scene, not so innocent that she doesn't fuck Dr. Manhattan, but innocent enough to think that it's better to go along with her mother than say no. Such dumb fan fiction.

134. The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin - It's very weird reading two books by the same author at the same time. I usually avoid doing it, but this is a strange one because I was so intrigued by this book where there's a lot of talking but they are talking about such great things when it comes to revolution and making an anarchist society and how people can still feel trapped and unappreciated in any society (but since Le Guin's anarchist society doesn't have charismatic leaders, they don't have the gulags - however, they DO have people willing to use violence to keep things in line) and how capitalism can infect everything. It's really quite beautiful and it provides no easy answers (even though ultimately the capitalist society is utter shit for 90% of the population).

135.The Stories of Your Lives by Ted Chiang - The first half of this book was intimidating becasue not only is Ted Chiang writing about language, math, neurobiology and Babylonian mythology but it's obvious that he knows what he's talking about. And then that damn golem story happened and it was just a snore - ok, it wasn't just a snore, it was a story that illustrated just how annoying cultural appropriation is and that's a weird thing since it's a British society appropriating a Jewish magical troll doll thing, but it's still appropriation and it doesn't seem like he has much to say in regards to golems besides making them like robots and giving them the slavery story. But there are also bits about words and 19th century pseudo science. The rest of the stories have the same disappointing dirge. So this is half a great anthology and half a lot of stories that are trying too hard.

136. Volkhavaar by Tanith Lee - As I read this book I thought FINALLY! Finally I am reading a book by Tanith Lee that reminds me of why I loved Tanith Lee. This book is a compelling fantasy with compelling magical sociopaths and magic that is rooted in the human condition. The writing style is beautiful and the thing is a tight 190 pages which means it takes a few days to read. I needed a good Tanith Lee book because I slogged my way through the Blood Opera trilogy and that was all boring and stupid and so miserable. Her Daw stuff might not be her best era but it is her most consistently decent era.
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Books read in 2017 # 126-129 - ALAN MOORE!!!! [Sep. 6th, 2017|10:16 pm]
Tim Lieder
126.Miracleman Book 1: A Dream of Flying by Alan Moore & Garry Leach & Alan Davis - Alan Moore hates secret identities. He rendered Rorschach unrecognizable when he took off the mask. Clark Kent wasn't even a factor in most of his Superman stories. It rather fits with his 80s deconstruction of superheroes to make the alter egos non-entities. I'm not sure if Miracleman was written before or after Watchmen but it does have a lot of the same obsessions with superheroes as power fantasies and the dangerous implication of actual superheroes walking the earth. Also Miracleman has a weird rights story where the original character was Marvel Man who was a ripoff of Captain Marvel who was a slight variation on Superman (almost certain that there were lawsuits). And when Miracleman made it to America, Marvel decided that they had a copyright on Marvel so Miracleman. And now Marvel has reprinted those original American comics and called Alan Moore "the original writer" because apparently Moore is taking his name off of his comic books as well.

So this is a pretty good introduction to Alan Moore. You got the shlubby guy who is just pathetic whose alter ego is the godlike hero. You got the godlike hero's former sidekick turned into a full blown psychopath (not really sure if "he was 15 and alone and really powerful" is a decent explanation) and then you got the conspiracies where Miracleman finds out that the funny evil doctor from his adventures was the guy who made him. All this leads to aliens and trippy impossible to understand prose that hints at future events. That's an Alan Moore 80s trope too. Every so often Swamp Thing or Miracleman would go crazy because it could. And he got a lot of praise even though it's not that great.

127.Miracleman Book 2: The Red King Syndrome - Well that was a load of shit. Ok, so Miracleman has discovered that Dr. Gargunza is his maker and just in time Gargunza kidnaps his pregnant wife. There is one cool moment and that is the guy with the sapphire teeth narrating one of the stories while decapitated. Like that's his last moment thought. But the rest is just a drag. Dr. Gargunza's plan involves putting his personality and soul into the baby. But his origin story is silly. Oh sure, we already got that he made the Miracleman family and that he kept them dreaming when they thought that they were having their fun adventures only to hit them with a nuclear weapon. But his origin story? Holy fuck that one is straight out of central casting. He was a poor boy trying to help his mother so he got in with a gang. But he was a genius so he managed to manage the gang activities enough to get everyone to kill the leader when the leader tried to rape him. And then he went to Germany and got in with the Nazi. The bit about being friends with Heidigger was funny. And then he started the program to become immortal and yeah, one of the people was a cute dog who becomes a killer demon dog when the right word is spoken.

And Michael Moran manages to find a way to turn the dog back (same word) and instead of just getting the dog as far away from Gargunza as possible beats the dog to death. And then brings Gargunza into the atmosphere and hurls him into earth. Then the baby is born and the baby can speak full words. In the next story will be the baby talking like an adult because weirdly genius level babies were the rage in the 80s. It is really rather dull like Alan Moore is just repeating all of his old tropes. I strongly suspect that Moore started this comic when he was an unknown in England and then finished it after he was super famous. But the story is on coherent story. It's just that it seems like the second book is showing signs of boredom.

128.Promethea book one by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III - The opening part doesn't have much hope since the origin story is very much like Miracleman. Normal person suddenly discovers that she is an all powerful super powered being and then she can't get back to her normal persona. Only this is Alan Moore several generations after Miracleman. He is deconstructing narratives sure but he's also celebrating the things that he loves. Promethea has a lot of snake goddess and Egyptian iconography but ultimately Promethea is about story telling and how it frees us up and how a story can take on many forms. So most of the story is in the hospital where the protagonist goes into the land of dreams and meets the various Promethea. Alan Moore also likes to use a lot of magic stuff including the four elements and Tarot cards but not necessarily in this one. The most Moore part of this is when a Promethea from the pulp era shows up and the villain is the pulp writer. The pulp writer is divided into the five different writers by the protagonist who did a paper on that era.

This is much more fun than Miracleman but it is annoying in the way that Moore seems to have problems with female friendship and depicting it. The protagonist and her best friend seem like bros engaging in a lot of gay panic humor instead of female friends. I know that I am engaging in sexual stereotyping here too but it just seems much more like bro talk.

129.Promethea Book 2 by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III - So the story begins still in the hospital. Alan Moore talks about transgender rights as one of the Prometheas is a comic book writer but it ends in the way that many transgender romances end in fiction. The male lover finds out and kills the transgender one. The weird Egyptian god assassins invade the hospital but the protagonist makes everyone into a Promethea and the trippy fantasy bits are quite amusing. There's also a bit where Promethea fucks an old wizard who says that she is going to end the world (she does end the world which is kind of cool but I don't know if that comic is at the library) and then when Promethea goes to the Temple to destroy them, she finds that they are having a child's birthday party. So instead of killing them (Alan Moore is no longer giving us heroes who kill puppies) she opens their minds and makes them see things from her perspective and engage in the stories.

The last chapter is about the Tarot Cards. Not surprisingly I would have read everything Alan Moore ever wrote when i was in college. Not so much today.
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Books read in 2017 # 125 - More Punching! [Sep. 6th, 2017|10:01 pm]
Tim Lieder
125.One Punch Man # 6 by One & Yusuke Marata - Looks like I am getting closer to the part of the story that goes beyond the television show. This book is all about the same aliens who are really powerful and just destroying everyone. Of course, Saitama comes in at the end and just beats everyone in the spaceship until getting to the final boss who just wanted to come to earth because there was a prophecy that he couldn't beat someone on earth or he would find a challenge. Saitama calls him an idiot. It's very meta since this is the existential crisis of the hero who can totally beat everyone up without a sweat. So now they are challenging each other and to be continued.

Kind of frustrating. I think I am reading so many books because I count all these Japanese manga comics as one even though they are mostly chapters in a multi-part saga.
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Books read in 2017 # 124 - Kung Fu Novel [Sep. 6th, 2017|09:04 pm]
Tim Lieder
124.The Book & the Sword by Louis Cha (translated by Graham Earnshaw) - So that's what a kung fu novel is about. Cool. I should say more. Ok, this is a kung fu novel which sounds like a strange misnomer since kung fu is movies not books. How are you going to just describe something that is so visual? But there are plenty of books about things that are visual or seemingly better told visual. There are war books and books about sports and books about driving. Sure it's better to see a character jumping to the wall and throwing the archers into the pit, but we all have imagination.

The story itself is definitely serialized with the plot dashing around from secret societies to politics to one large set piece where everyone thinks that one family is responsible for the kidnapping of one member only to burn down the house before everything gets sorted out. And then there are points where the army separates everyone and somewhere in the middle is the favorite plot of many of these books, the one where the emperor is the brother to the head of the Red Flower Society (because he was switched at birth and is really Chinese and not Manchu). Next thing you know the narrative ends up in the Muslim territories with the Uighers and Chen is int he middle of a love triangle as he is in love with both sisters - one is an amazing tactician and fighter and the other one is beautiful. That's pretty much it for the latter. The father wishes that he was Muslim so if he married both daughters he would treat them as equals instead of as wife and concubine. Then they are running from wolves through the desert and there's another old couple that really thinks that Chen is just a player and tries to let the wolves kill them. The emperor comes back when even though all the main characters are totally beating the Chinese army, the Muslims completely lose off camera because history.

The ending is weird because both the main goals - kill the emperor or get the emperor to push out the Manchus - are obviously not going to happen. But it's still a thrilling bit at the end especially since most of the formerly invincible kung fu fighters start dying. I don't know if there are other Louis Cha books out there but I kind of want to see them. I mean there are other Cha books but are they translated? I don't know.
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Books read in 2017 # 120-123 - Boring Comic Books. [Sep. 6th, 2017|08:32 pm]
Tim Lieder
120. American Vampire vol 2 by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque - When I initially did this, I was trying to see how much I could read in a year. Turns out that I can read about 100 books. Now it's book 120 and I don't feel like I've read more. But the difference is that I am reading more graphic novels. I always counted graphic novels but I also refused to count the ones that were just fluff like the Angel season 8 series that basically serves as fan service to people who want to know about Angel getting along with that dragon and nothing else. So now I am reviewing all the comics I read and i think I might have made a mistake in that endeavor, mostly because I am reading a lot of dumb ones.

This one isn't that bad. In fact, I like the American Vampire series and I've read most of the books, only this is the second book and I've already read the ones around it. This can't feel like anything but a place holder. Book three gave us WWII and Japanese vampires with our anti-hero sneering away at the heroine's husband for being mortal. I also read the fourth or the fifth one where the evil roommate from the first series comes calling and there's a big fight and the one non-vampire dies of old age with his wife very sad. So when I read this one, I just read the seeds being planted for those stories. The anti-vampire group is trying to find a way to kill Sweet. The married couple is living happily but she's worried about her husband dying and he's worried about her eating him. And the evil roommate is back and she's out for revenge, revenge that she won't get close to. There's also Sweet trying to kill a bunch of vampires in Vegas but this takes place in the 1930s so Vegas is dull. It's ok, but the series has done better.

121.Howard the Duck: What the Duck by Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinnones - with the pun title and the cloyingly cynical story I was worried that Chip Zdarsky was also the writer of Squirrel Girl and that would have hurt to think that Squirrel Girl was written by a douchebag. But thankfully Zdarsky wrote Sex Criminals and this has the same "I'm way too smart for my own good. Ain't I the coolest" attitude. Sure, the running gag about Spiderman getting beat up is funny but the rest of this thing is just an exercise in attitude over substance.

122.Doctor Who: Weapons of Past Destruction by Cavan Scott and Blair Shedo - So what do you do when you are doing fan service comics that have to take place at certain parts of the narrative? It seems kind of stupid to give the reader cliff hangers about Rose getting lost in the time stream or Jack potentially dying when the television show is already canon. The rest of this story is a repetition of what the first season was all about which was that the Time Lords are gone and everything is a mess. I don't even remember the ending but there was one race that was trying to make things right and another race that was screwed over by this planning.

123.The Flash vol 1: Lightning Strikes Twice by Joshua Williamson & Carmine di Grandomencio - So much for thinking that DC Universe Rebirth was a breath of fresh air after whatever the fuck The New 52 was trying to do. Barry Allen is young again! The other Flash is his best friend's nephew. Barry Allen remembers Crisis death! But really a lot of people get the Flash power and they all need to be trained or something. So where do we go? Exactly where you would expect. Flash feels great to have new friends. Some of the new friends are not good people. He gets a girlfriend! Someone starts killing off the other Flashes! Boo! The girlfriend dies. Maybe she's alive. Has he checked the fridge? The killer turns out to be his best friend and he had a good reason. At least as far as he thinks. They fight. Flash wins! Let's pretend this plot wasn't out of a kit.
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Really not liking the job prospects [Aug. 28th, 2017|04:21 pm]
Tim Lieder
So I know that not many people read this journal. Hell, not many people were reading livejournal and I am linking to that one but again Craigslist has put me on the shit list. I think it's CL itself since the flagging and deleting is too fast for competitor writers to go around trying to screw up things and get rid of my posts. Maybe they have bots who do it now, but of course this always comes at my slow months. I get that CL doesn't want too many people spamming away on their site but they already have a 3 ads within a 36 hour period rule. That should be enough to keep the spammers away from the site.

Instead they have an arbitrary rule about not posting too much in too many markets and they never follow it until they do. And then when they do follow it, they follow it to the point that everything is on a shit list. And one of the ways that they follow it is if you are making "too many posts" which means posting regularly. And of course, you are only posting regularly when your work dries up.

So when I don't have work, I post to CL and then CL starts noticing and at first it's one or two flagged and deleted posts. But the more I post the more eager CL is to delete me.

What I am saying is that is there any better site for finding the private clients that really pay my rent and bills? Craigslist is going to delete me and kill my postings for at least a month and there's no guarantee that I can do anything to get off of their shit list (even if I only post once a week they will kill that post). I should go to Cracked and send out more freelance pitches, but I like the semi-steady income that comes with people who need me to write all of their Criminology papers.
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Freelance Writer available for all services - term papers, personal statements, etc. [Aug. 28th, 2017|04:07 pm]
Tim Lieder
Professional writer available for all jobs. I have a Masters of English from Long Island University and my own publishing company (Dybbuk Press) through which I've published nine titles including She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror. I am available for all work including:
  • Term papers - MLA and APA
  • Thesis editing
  • Personal statements
  • Web site content
  • Resumes
  • Obituaries
  • Blog Posts
  • Dating Profiles
  • Business Communication
  • Publicity
  • Novel Editing
  • Writing Coach
  • Copywriting
I charge $25/hour. I take Paypal, Venmo and Chase Quickpay.

Please contact omanlieder-at-yahoo for rate quotes and samples.

Writing this since Craigslist keeps removing my ads.
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Books read in 2017 # 118-119 - Japanese comics (war and manga) [Aug. 24th, 2017|01:48 pm]
Tim Lieder
118. One-Punch Man 5 by Yusuke Muraita - And now we continue the saga of Saitama Gets No Love (but mostly doesn't care). This time the joke gets even bigger as the sea king is ultra-powerful and has to take down several all powerful characters as well as lame heroes like the dude on the bike who is the biggest hero in the C class but really is just a guy who rides a bike around and is brave. Of course, since Saitama's roommate/buddy/student is a cyborg he gets ripped to hell again. This is reminiscent of the ventriloquist coming back on the Batman cartoon just so they can complete rip apart his dummy in the most Saw way possible. And after the big monster destroys almost everyone Saitama comes along and of course he beats him, but then of course as soon as the danger is over there's one little asshole dismissing his victory as an easy. The rest of the book is about Saitama's quest to get enough change to use a vending machine. There's also the prophecy of the really big and nasty aliens who round out the Netflix show so this is exciting.

119.Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki - I had to read this one fast in order to take it back to the library. So thankfully I got the full impact as this book seems to be two books in one. The first book is a Beetle Bailey kind of book where very cartoon looking soldiers deal with piss and shit and spit. Even the deaths seem comical as two soldiers are moving through the river and when one looks back the second soldier is gone because yeah, he was eaten by an alligator. But then the Americans come and it becomes a very angry and grim book about the stupidity of war. Mostly it's about the stupidity of the military with the Japanese military being particularly stupid in its insistence that the soldiers all act like samurais going to their deaths while referencing Dai-Nanko who is the Japanese equivalent of the Charge of the Light Brigade or Remember the Alamo (I know that I probably shouldn't see everything Asian through a Western lens but in this particular book it's appropriate since hero-worshiping famous soldiers who died en masse is a propaganda technique that infects many societies).

And perhaps the main differences between these soldiers and the Western soldiers is they didn't experience the trenches of WWI and they didn't have a body of recent literature that basically came down to FUCK THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE. Or maybe I'm straining here. Regardless, Japanese soldiers did not surrender for the most part. This was something that westerners admired but as one of those soldiers who was ordered to charge in the "noble death" standard, Shigeru Mizuki is very pissed off about it. Even in the 1990s when he wrote the new introduction to this 1973 book he is still angry about the commanders who put honor about life. Soldiers are supposed to die and their lives are their commanders but their commanders should actually have a fucking plan and in the difference between modern Japan and imperial Japan there is a huge judgment.

No wonder Battle Royale was so popular. (hell there was a Seniors React video where most of the reactors saw one of the imitation movies - Hunger Games? - as a perfect metaphor for what societies do to their young people whenever there's a war.)
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Books read in 2017 # 117 - I finally read N.K. Jemisin and she is amazing [Aug. 24th, 2017|12:45 am]
Tim Lieder
117. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin - Because I was friends with N.K. Jemisin on Facebook I met a woman who knew her from the days when they both wrote Dragon Ball Z fan fiction. The thought made me laugh just because Nora is a bestselling writer who had several Hugo nominations by that point. But I kept thinking about that anecdote when I was reading this book and it felt serious respect for the fact that even when N.K. Jemisin was writing fan fiction for an anime that most people stop watching when they are 14, she was writing stories so great that years later, her fans from the Dragon Ball Z days were finding her and connecting with her on Facebook.

I can see why reading this book. There's a certain thrill to reading a book where you think you know what you are going to get and realize that it goes beyond your expectations. The opening chapters set up a world of politics where the protagonist is the leader of a tribal society in Darr who is called over to the capital of all the kingdoms by her grandfather, the lead Aramari and rule of all the hundred thousand kingdoms. The story thus far seems conventional as you have a central palace full of corrupt nobility and the daughter of the one noble who left that world being forced to come back to it and engage in the politics while learning about the world building. It's a good premise but it's also familiar. The fact that the rivals to the throne are going to be psychopaths is pretty much expected. Usually the twist is that the most aggressive rival is the secret ally while the one that seems harmless is the real villain.

Only when the first rival shows up with a "weapon" which is a human manifestation of the God of Night and we are in a completely different world. From a palace intrigue story the book pivots to a tale of gods and faith where the order of the universe is up for debate. The background is that three gods once ruled the universe but the Lord of Light killed Twilight and defeated the Night Lord and now the Aramari are charged with keeping the order in the universe. All of the court intrigue is still in place, but now Yeine is playing at a bigger intrigue than anyone else in the kingdoms can imagine.

The gods that are kept within the Sky are both terrifying and beautiful and the fact that Yeine has no choice but to partner with them only makes them that much more terrifying. But they are not just scary sociopaths like one finds in Tanith Lee. Despite the early scenes of Nahadoth committing genocide at the order of a past king who did not think things through when ordering him to attack the enemies, these are gods in all the existential pagan ways and they may seem random but they definitely have their wills.

Look. I feel like I am completely unprepared to even review this book. There are some books that are so good that they force you to read them all the way through and want even more. It's so much easier to review books that you hate because you can just slag off on them, but books that you love? Books that make you feel like you need to bring much more to your writing? Books that just grab you? If I was a professional reviewer (an interesting term since most book reviewers are freelance writers getting their feet in the door) I would have to write something amazing and profound about this book and send it off to the editor knowing that I didn't get half as much about what I loved about this book.

If I was an academic I could sit on this book, think about it, read other essays on it and then come up with a more comprehensive critical assessment. I will probably write about this book later. It really hit me that much.

But I am a blogger who decided to do this silly little project of reviewing all the books I have read this year and I have a couple of comic books that need reviewing before I get them back to the library. So I spent hours trying to get this right and still feel like I've inadequately described it. Basically any reaction from a reader of this blog short of "holy shit I have to read this book right away" is a failure but also I want to put every thought I had while reading this book. I can't. But you should really read it.
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Books read in 2017 # 113-116 - More Comic Books, mostly 90s [Aug. 21st, 2017|11:50 am]
Tim Lieder
113. Superman Adventures by Scott McCloud & Rick Burchett - While the main Superman stories were dragging the audience into a contrived Dead Superman story, the television show was giving audiences a Superman that is actually fun and hearkening back to the weird Superman stories of the 1960s. While Superman was still not as popular as Batman it had a goofy energy that allowed stories where Superman played baseball with aliens or Lobo showed up and did not necessarily have to kill planets. And of course, Scott McCloud is one of the best writers in the field. This is a Superman that can be framed with an American flag behind him and it doesn't feel silly or contrived in the slightest.

114.The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the Great Lake Avengers by Various - When I was reading Squirrel Girl I wondered why such a great character seemed to disappear after her initial introduction in an X-Men title. She's hilarious. She talks to squirrels and has a tail. That's her power. Why didn't anyone do anything with her before now? The answer is apparently they did do things with her, only it was the 90s and the 90s was full of this kind of ironic hipster superhero storytelling was popular because everyone in Generation X was a hipster as far as the marketing guys went and they wanted ironic appreciation of stupid things. It was the OK Cole marketing generation. So this comic has Squirrel Girl written badly but it also has several other heroes that were dripping with hipster irony like the guy who keeps coming back to life and the flat dude who is like Mr. Fantastic but 2 dimensions. There is Big Bertha whose superpower is that she can make herself really fat but then vomit it all out and go back to being a model. Speedball even shows up because he was the Marvel character that was supposed to counter all the grim and gritty dark stuff.

The stories are stupid. There are some laughs. There's a Caterpillar superhero who keeps dying. But mostly these stories are "funny" as opposed to being funny. It's basically every bad imitation of a great comedy ever made. You see one movie and it's funny but then you see a bunch of movies that recycle those same gags and they are so not funny.

This is also a collection of the Squirrel Girl stories in several books including The Thing, which is the one that especially bothered me because it was that big move to give their heroes ethnic identities without actually doing the homework. So The Thing has his Bar Mitzvah (very convoluted explanation as to why) and his TORAH PORTION is Job. Fucking Job. Job is not in the Torah. Job is not even in the Prophets. Job is wisdom literature and it's a philosophical novel that requires a lot more thought that "well I guess I don't have it so bad" which is the Thing's dvar Torah. It was fucking pathetic.

115.Attack on Titan book 1 by Hajime Isayama - I get that Attack on Titan has a lot of stuff to say about totalitarianism and how fascists collect their people and I assume that there is a twist about the Titans being operated by the fascist regime to keep everyone in place but right now there's just a lot of big monsters eating people. I will hang on for a bit longer.

116.Down Set. Fight! by Chris Sims & Chad Bowers - I did not think that this one would be much good, mostly because I'm not that into football and the first chapter is all about the talented rookie who is being pressured by his gambler father to throw the game. And then he punches out the mascot. But then the story kicks in where the mascots have gotten sick of getting beat up so they are fighting back and now the father is out of jail and taking bets on football player vs. mascot. So it's got some charm.
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Books read in 2017 # 110 - 112 - Comic Book Mediocrity [Aug. 10th, 2017|10:10 pm]
Tim Lieder
110.Batgirl vol 1: Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson and Rafael ALbuquerque - I thought that the DC Universe Reboot was supposed to be the antidote to all that toxic crap that came out of the New 52. I think it might have worked in reverse in this case where one of the few decent titles from New 52 turned to crap with the reboot. And that's not fair. I think I respect this title as a lighthearted romp with Batgirl that gets over the darkness of the normal bat series. I just don't care about Barbara Gordon. She's out of the wheel chair. She is traveling Asia. She has the money to travel Asia. There are a bunch of kung fu masters trying to kill her old boyfriend who is a loser. They all have "student" tattooed to their arms and when she finds the teacher it turns out to be a scam artist who gives the students pills to make them smart and take their entrance exams.

I am sorry for spoiling things but when something sucks this bad it's more of a warning.

111. Memorpho The Element Man: Two Worlds One Destiny by Aaron Lopresti - What makes this one so aggravating is that these stories come from Legends of Tomorrow and every cover has better and more interesting characters. Metamorpho is just a dude caught in a trap who can make elemental crap going on. And then there is an evil industrialist with the daughter who helps Metamorpho because she was told and that's a plot twist we see coming a mile away (even without Ivanka to play the daughter with the fake conscience). She turns into fire or something. There are also pyramids and aliens and boring shit.

112. X-Men: Wolverine Gambit (Victims) by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale - As I read this comic I knew that it wasn't recent even though the copyright was from last year. It was way too 90s when the bringing together of two big name heroes (Gambit was very popular at one point) was all you needed. This mini-series was probably hailed as a classic in its time. It certainly fridged a character in the opening page. She was Gambit's friend introduced solely for this title and she died in a Jack the Ripper murder that was maybe possibly done by Wolverine. It wasn't but the writers said "yeah fuck it, we can make people believe that it is Wolverine because why the fuck now" and then it turns out to be Arcade. And even better, Arcade is now a psycho killer who killed his assistant in their annual "hey let's try to kill each other" game. That's it. Arcade did it. Arcade used to be fun, the guy who did the Most Dangerous Game but no one ever died. But nope, now Arcade is going to kill people. No wonder I haven't seen him for a long time.
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Books read in 2017 # 108-109 - Fighting Men [Aug. 10th, 2017|09:37 pm]
Tim Lieder
108. One Punch Man vol 4 by Yusuke Marata and One - Saitama again points out that he is impervious to criticism and pretty much every other monster. The sea monsters make an appearance in this one and they are going to be a major threat. At this point most of the plots have been set and they are just variations. The monsters come. They are unstoppable. There is a lot of screaming and gnashing of teeth and then Saitama shows up and punches them and they are gone. There are variations. Saitama gets rid of the meteor but that just means that it fragments into dozens of pieces that still cause destruction. The joke at the end that I should not laugh at was the plot where the hero is in jail and keeps breaking out of jail to capture more villains so he can get them in the jail and fuck them. Prison rape jokes should have died out years ago, but that one is enthusiastic and so stupid, I laughed. I feel bad about myself.

109.Odysseus: The Oath by Valerio Massimo Manfredi - This is the first of a two book series, at least I think it's a two book series. It is both slow and moves too fast. Odysseus starts as a child and tours throughout the mythology with his father constantly talking up Hercules and the whole "Hercules killed his family" story being played for thriller as it wasn't really Hercules but his deceitful cousin who shouldn't be king. The way the book was going I was certain that it would end with the beginning of the Trojan War but the Oath of the title comes around page 200 with Odysseus explaining that the Oath was because he didn't want all the kings fighting over Helen when she made her decision. But it keeps going and when the Trojan War starts, there is not much effort to flesh out the non-Homer material like with The Bronze Age. It skips years and comes to the point of Homer but from Odysseus' perspective. By the end of the book Odysseus feels bad about Ajax, Troy is destroyed and the sequel is going to be a retelling of The Odyssey. I just can't bring myself to care.
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