Maggie

Books read in 2021 # 60 - Fuck you Eleanor Davis

60.The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis - There is so much to hate about this graphic novel. The protagonists are hippies where she is part of a protest group and he deals weed. And they are supposed to be building a house but they never build that house. There's the implication that babies make everything better with that tacked on epilogue of her giving birth and three pages of an ugly baby (complete with a dedication at the beginning to the author's new baby - so yay for ugly babies?) Cue the "pregnant women are smug" song. There's the plot where the protest group is broken up even though they aren't doing much besides marches and they don't even let bystanders vandalize everything. This is not the kind of protest group that gets arrested. This is the kind of protest group that gets permits and uses off duty cops for security. There's the obnoxious woker than thou friend who is even more judgmental than everyone else. There's also a bit with a cop that is nice to the protagonist but then later that same cop beats up her friends.

The part where the protagonist is a caretaker for an old lady is kind of sweet but if that's her sole source of income there's no way that she's buying food. Caregivers get paid minimum wage. I know this from trying to get them to help my mom.

But the part that really pisses me, the part that turns this book from shitty to unforgivable is the protest against Sarin Gas (which the U.S. is now just manufacturing and selling in violation of all international treaties because when you give us President Zuckerberg why not go all the way into bullshit) and one of the signs indicates that Israel gassed Gaza.

This Nazi bitch writer wrote a scenario where Israel just outright committed the worst war crime short of genocide - one that Assad and Saddam Hussein barely got away with - to Gaza. Yes, Israel ends up killing civilians but if anyone knows anything about Israel they would know that Israel actually makes an effort to minimize civilian casualties (not that it matters to the people that insist on calling Israel Palestine as they believe that all military moves by Israel are war crimes. They even wanted to defund the Iron Dome which is a purely defensive program that stops Hamas from murdering children with missiles. And yeah, fuck Thought Slime for just outright stating that the Iron Dome kills children without even researching it. Because Israel bad. No matter what).

Do I have to make the damn qualifier that I don't think that Israel is perfect and that it can do a lot more to limit settlements and make life bearable for the people in the occupied territories?

But Eleanor Davis, Nazi Shit, is just assuming that there's a scenario where Israel is going to buy sarin gas from the United States and use it to kill thousands in Gaza indiscriminately. Because that fits her shitty worldview. When protest groups try to shout down Israeli scholars who talk about minimizing civilian casualties as Zionist Propagandists why not just assume that they won the propaganda wars and that Israel is evil enough to gas civilians.

There's also a conspiracy theorist who seems reasonable in a way that only a handwringing antisemitic leftist like Eleanor Davis could make. He's silly with his guns and his paranoia. That's all. He's just silly. ANd then then hippie dude shoots a gun in the air and accidentally kills him (so there's one joke in this boring ass book).

Anyhow, this is a shitty book with crap illustrations about privileged white people being privileged and pretending that they are as important as BLM with a "happy ending" where ugly babies make things better. If it didn't have that blatant antisemitic illustration, I would have been more than happy to forget about it. But Eleanor Davis is an antisemitic piece of shit so that sucked. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
Teddy Bear

Books read in 2021 # 56-59 - Fucking Finally Done Reading this Gibbon book

56. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 1 by Edward Gibbon - HOly fuck this took forever. I might even be breaking my own rule because I'm pretty sure I started reading this in 2020 so it's not just books read in 2021. But since it took me 9 fucking months out of the year, I'm pretty damn happy to be done with it. Not saying it's not a bad read so much as it just took forever and there were points where he was showing his 18th century bias. His history of Xianity was tedious but it's interesting to find out that Julian the Apostate wanted to rebuild the Temple. Not because he liked Jews so much as he wanted to piss off the Christians. He couldn't oppress them but he could piss them off. Also the Arians were powerful at one point. They even repressed the Nicene Creed proponents. So that's fun. The book ends with Theodosius taking over Constantinople and the Goths are barely a problem. So I guess all the really wild stuff I remember from the abridged version is in later volumes. The emperors seemed more stable this time out. I remember more of them getting killed along with their families as the Goths sacked Rome (which always amuses because Goths). So yeah. Rome. It went Christian and things really began to unravel.

57. Lovesickness by Junji Ito - Oh nice and creepy. The pictures of the ghost girl dripping in blood and screaming I LOVE YOU!!!! is totally relatable. It does feel like another Tomie with the creepy dude driving everyone to suicide or worse. Even the seemingly innocuous advice like "come back with a more interesting problem" leads to massive chaos with the woman getting pregnant and then killing her lover's children. So creepy. Then there's the strange hikizuri siblings which seems like Ito's attempt to be outright funny instead of funny in a terrifying way. In the first one they give a guy a heart attack by convincing him that their sister burned herself to death. She's very annoyed with them. And that's it. The second one has the dumb brother pretending to be possessed by their father to get the older brother to give him respect. I laughed.

58. On Great Writing (on the Sublime) by Longinus - typical stuff. He talked about perfect style and then argues that imperfection over makes the work memorable. Not bad but mostly interesting for how much it talks about Greek poetry in the 1st century CE.

59.Black Hammer Age of Doom part 1 by Jeff Lemire & Sean Ormston - So this is one of those books that ends up with everyone finding out that they are in a virtual simulation on a spaceship. That was pretty much where it was leading because the mystical stuff seemed too convoluted with the superhero characters trapped in a weird village and Black Hammer 2 (her father is dead at this point) in Hell. I'm trying to read more Jeff Lemire books but it's difficult because I don't know where I'm supposed to come in. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
Teddy Bear

Books read in 2021 # 53-55 - Light Reading

53. Celebrity Detox by Rosie O'Donnell - I can't really recommend this book. If you were around 10 years ago you might remember Rosie O'Donnell briefly made The View interesting, but it doesn't have much to do with current events except for O'Donnell feuding with Donald Trump who exploded when she said that he was a failed businessman (oh thank G-d that's not current). But most of it is a little unfinished. She's still with the wife that she would leave before gay marriage was legalized (legalized in San Francisco, thrown out by California, a few years before it became the law of the land). She was still on the View when the book ended with an unpleasant argument with Barbara Walters who was trying to both sides with Trump and O'Donnell (so others have learned that there's no middle ground with Trump). But O'Donnell would leave the view after a blowout and that story isn't in here. So this book is fine but if I hadn't been reading a bunch of heavy books I wouldn't have enjoyed this one at all.

54.Komi Can't Communicate vol 3 by Tomohito Oda - I love the way that he draws eyes. I didn't notice that manga really changes the eyes to suit the mood. This is subtle in the Spiderman comics where the costume eyes change shape but the way that the eyes turn into black dots whenever Komi is uncomfortable just makes me laugh every time. Also love the jokes about how Komi gets along fine with family members who also never talk.

55. Super Giant Monster Time by Jeff Burk - After following Jeff Burk on Facebook for years I must say this is quintessential Jeff with the punks, the aliens that turn the people into punks, the giant monsters and the super cat that flies around attacking everything. It's written in the Choose Your Own Adventure format with several hidden endings. And I'm happy it's Jeff because the last time I read a Bizarro Choose Your Own Adventure it was Cameron Pierce and that guy really loves rape jokes. But Jeff is more happy with giant carrots and killer cats. Also there are almost a dozen endings that you can't get to by playing fair. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
PIGGY!!!!

Books Read in 2021 # 51 & 52 - Really got to take these big graphic novels back to the library

51. Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire & others - So this is the graphic novel that they based the Netflix show on. And it's really good with the old guy being more of a Clint Eastwood type. The main revelation at the end about Sweet Tooth having been grown in a lab (and probably the cause of that pandemic that killed everyone) comes from him not having a navel, but the other characters do not get the same level of attention as they do on the show. So it's more about Sweet Tooth and the old man who betrays him. He doesn't betray Sweet Tooth in the show which is interesting. He just gets taken out of commission. Anyhow, beautiful artwork and nothing much else to say about it. If you like the show, you'll like the book. And vice versa.

52. Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank - Well this was a fucking mess. I guess I see what Geoff Johns was trying to do but why is he the major movie producer behind the DCEU if he also has a gig writing these comics. Everything I've read about him makes him sound like the Jim Shooter of DC comics. Kevin Feige is a movie guy. Geoff Johns is a comic book writer of nominal talent who fucks around with other people's characters with varying degrees of success (I kind of like his Teen Titans run) who should be way too busy with the writing to get involved in WW84 and the Whedon Cut (boo! hiss! #releasethesnyderverse)

So anyhow, this comic was here to introduce the Watchmen characters into the DC universe with a little more hubris than they did with their prequels and the conceit of Dr. Manhattan starting it all up. There's a new Rorschach who is being manipulated by Adrian Veidt. THere's the COmedian who shoots a bunch of villains hanging out with the Joker. Firestorm gets fucked over. And there's a whole lot of Meta. Superman keeps getting retconned. Dr. Manhattan erases the Golden Age heroes but then brings them back at the end. There are a couple of clown based villains who are spared the deaths of Dr. Manhattan because he likes that they have a kid that will later be raised by the SIlk Spectre and Nite Owl.

And the meta aspects are interesting, but all the while I kept thinking what they would have been like if someone who actually got the characters was writing them. Not Alan Moore who would never do it, but someone who doesn't totally change Dr. Manhattan's time cognition to give him free will. And when the whole thing ends with Dr. Manhattan establishing the MegaVerse or MetaVerse or whatever it's called, it's pretty depressing that Johns thinks that there will be major crisis events happening every couple years for the next 30 years of DC lore.

It's interesting but also messy. And doesn't quite get Dr. Manhattan. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
high school reunion

Books read in 2021 # 48 - 50 - Rosh Hashana reading

48. Slayer Repentless by Jon Schnepp & Guiu Vilanova - So this comic book is a music video. Like it started out as a music video and then someone wrote a comic book about all the people in the music video, a little before they got into the music video and then had that big fight. Basically it's Nazis vs rednecks & bikers (yes, there's a possibility that these guys wouldn't be on the same side) in a small town that doesn't get wifi. Or internet. But there are brothers involved. One brother is a repentant Nazi with a fridged wife whose corpse he takes to the small town and the other brother is the Nazi who decided to kill his brother. Anyhow, it's fairly predictable but I like the art. And the pictures of the comic book artists and band signing copies at a convention are fun.

49. Ascender vol 1: The Haunted Galaxy by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen - This is a beautifully illustrated and colored comic book with some seriously elegaic undertones as the world has moved on from the characters and all the robots are dead. Now evil wizards control everything including a major evil wizard called Momma who consults with her mothers. FIrst chapter so I'm not sure where it's going but I think it's all about getting rid of the evil magicians. It's a sequel to Descender.

50. Half the Blood of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston - I remember loving the Erasing All Signs of Death book but not remembering anything beyond the character beat of the protagonist telling the scary gangster outright that he does not ride in buses (later on you find out that he was on a bus when a terrorist attack happened. And he saved the gangster's daughter). So the writing is pretty great. It moves along but I don't remember much else and I doubt I would remember anything about this book except for the fact that it's a gangster book with vampires and the main villains are chasidic Jews who go on just a little too long about being from the rapist sect of the Tribe of Benjamin (see the end of Judges for that story - it's really fucked up and the main point is that Israel needed a king to keep this nasty shit from happening again). Anyhow the whole thing does work in the noir detective genre with the conspiracies and mysteries piling up until the end when they seem to fall apart with really simple explanations about how the Jews were the ones that killed that blood supplier because they didn't like the Manhattan vampires muscling in on their territory. And the protagonist starts a war. So the back cover where he's preventing a war - nope.

I will read more books in the series but I always notice that when I read another book of this kind by the same author I feel let down. Like I know all the tricks and if I read an earlier book I'm going to know where it's going since characters keep eluding to the fates of past characters. This series might be the exception. After all, it's more noir detective than urban fantasy and I can read noir detective books by the same author. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
high school reunion

Books read in 2021 # 47 - Making Comics

47. Making Comics by Scott McCloud - Like with Understanding Comics, I may have to read this one again. In fact, I now am thinking about expressions, setting, transitions and style in comics so much that my brain is starting to hurt. It's like when Every Frame a Painting talks about the four quadrants of the scene in Drive and how they influence the viewer. It's not something you think about right away. It's not like with Red Letter Media pointing out that the one second scene of Darth Vader's helmet going onto his bare head is an important character beat - something that you might not think about but totally makes sense. No this is more the things that you never think about as a reader when reading comic books. I certainly don't think about these things.

They work on me, but unlike McCloud I am not outright analyzing them and now I feel like I should. The visual medium of comics makes them very unique. The way that the artist leads you to feeling and thinking certain things works as well.

ANyhow, Scott McCloud blew my mind to the point that I can't even really engage with the text in a meaningful way. I did love his argument that Manga has greatly influenced modern comics because that's a different way of story telling with its own visual cues. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
Maggie

Books read in 2021 # 45 & 46 - Graphic NOvels that need to go back to the library

45.Komi Can't Communicate by Tomohito Oda - The entry of Ren Yamai into this series is the definite adrenaline kick that I didn't know it needed. I actually noticed her in the first volume since she threatened the protagonist in such a crazy way, but in this one the depth of her obsession with Komi is insane and hilarious. The main joke is that she sees Komi as the most wonderful and ideal woman in the world but Komi doesn't talk to her and has never talked to her and the whole premise of the book is the fact that Komi is too shy to even talk to her best friends unless absolutely necessary. But since Komi is also the prettiest girl in the high school no one even notices just how silent she is all the time. Anyhow Ren Yamai kidnaps Tandano and locks him in her room because she's offended that Komi would even talk to such a basic dude. There's other stuff but Komi is definitely a draw. Still confusing that she can only speak by writing down the words but she doesn't have an online presence. But I think that's just something you have to ignore.

46.Paper Girls 1 by Brian K Vaughan & Cliff Chiang - I don't like Y: The Last Man. I tried to like it. I really did, but even on the second reading in anticipation of the show, I can't get into it. Too many coincidences. Too many straw feminists. He's trying too hard to say something deep about human nature but failing. By contrast, I really like this one. I don't know if he's trying to do anything besides a time traveling pulp science fiction story where teenagers from the future are severely disfigured. The 1986 time period means that when a future teenager refers to his boyfriend one of the characters acts disgusted (oh the reaction to Heathers and its rampant homophobia - sorry that's just pretty accurate to the time) and the one ends with a cliffhanger of a character running into her future self. And it all begins with teenage girls trying to make a living delivering papers. I like it. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
Teddy Bear

Books Read in 2021 # 43 & 44 - God Stuff

43. Mablbim: The Patriarchs translated (with notes) by Tzvi Faier - Malbim was a 19th century rabbi and his commentary was mostly pretty great. However, I'm remembering the one about how Esav absorbed Rivka's menstrual blood. It's one of those awful commentaries that you are going to get when you are primed to note the "scientific" perspective. Ramban had a book on how the Torah is super intelligent, but his main examples were how the Torah knew all the bullshit scientific facts of the 12th century. So what else about this thing? Well, it's the parshas from Lech Lecha (Abram going off to his calling) to Toldot (Jacob leaving to escape Esav). Text was in HEbrew and English with commentary on almost every line.

The story that really grabbed me this time was Sodom. Holy fuck, that's a rapey story. Doesn't help that Malbim and Faier are both pretty cool with Lot's oldest daughter raping him. I'm even more annoyed with my confirmation pastor telling us that Sodom was a city of homosexuals BUT there were serious hospitality issues (and then he stole stories from one of those monsters that Theseus encounters before the Minotaur with everyone being stretched or cut up to fit on a bed). Was also annoyed with the Biblical Hebrew professor who also read this story as homophobic. Do these people think that Oz is a gay romance with all the prison rape?

So I was more impressed with the pshat. The only commentary that stood out for me was the really dumb one about menstrual blood but the commentary was still generally solid.

44. The Godmakers by Frank Herbert - The very first Borges story I ever read was one where he goes into the future and meets himself on the brink of suicide. His future self tells him that he tried to write under a pseudonym but every called those books bad Borges ripoffs. The main point that every writer eventually ends up plagiarizing himself. Which is still better than the late stage of the scientist who starts spouting off stupid shit in a field that is not his own. (including Judy Mikovits who went from celebrated AIDS researcher to shit antivaxxer - https://timlieder1.medium.com/the-tragedy-of-judy-mikovits-fc1721855499)

Even though the plot initially is about a short tempered man checking out a potentially rebellious planet, it quickly turns into Herbert's greatest hits. Every planet is full of hidden soldiers. He has magical healing powers. His mother is part of a secret society of women who actually run the empire (through their husbands of course - a lot of "classic" science fiction could imagine interplanetary travel but not women leaders or in many cases women with actual personalities). Oh yeah, he's got psi powers that come from another branch. There's a major intergalactic religion that is just Islam with the serial number barely scratched off.

We even get the "deep thoughts" chapter headers. Mostly quotes from characters, but unlike when I read Dune I recognized a bunch of those quotes from Pirke Avos. Maybe if he studied it more the last couple Dune books where suddenly JEWS show up. That's another matter and if I ever reread Heretics of Dune I will go on and one about how silly it is that every other religion in this future is an amalgamation of current faiths as they would look in thousands of years but suddenly JEWS show up. Just long enough for a rabbi's daughter to totally join the bene gesserit.

By the time our hero becomes a god I marveled at how lazy Frank Herbert was getting. Had someone else wrote it, he would have tested that "you can't copyright an idea" standard. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
Serenity

Books Read in 2021 # 42 - I considered this guy a mentor?

42. Drama by Michael Hemmingson - I wanted to read Hemmingson after Raymond Carver just because I know that Gordon Lish is one of Hemmingson's heroes and in This Other Eden, he even included a Gordon Lish type character as a creative writing teacher. As much as I like the doomed drunk characters of Hemmingson (and Hemingway, Carver, Bukowski, etc., etc) they can get old. Still I was in the mood so I read this book and fucking hell, does Hemmingson even like sex?

I'm asking because this is one of his erotic books for Blue Moon and so a quarter of it are sex scenes but gross sex scenes, like ATM and just in case you think that it's like a porno where everyone has many enemas before the butt fucking, Hemmingson has to say specifically that they are eating shit. And he really loves the shit eating. Like almost as soon as the "other woman" enters the picture (one is named Kristine and the other one is Kathleen - I think - or Katherine? I forget) there's massive shit eating in order to distinguish the "bad woman" from the "good woman". The good woman is the play director that the playwright protagonist starts up with. The bad woman is the slutty one that his good woman doesn't approve of. And since he has a lot of sex (described clincally and not erotically at all). And the bad woman fucks everyone before she gets to him. Then she gets insanely jealous.

So sex, shit eating and sex. And by the end we get some serious racism. But also the good woman ends up with a dependable guy who then fucks the bad woman - proving that everyone is a scumbag. But then the racism that's not just cringe racism like when white people try rapping but outright large black rapist racism. The bad woman ends up with him after our hero breaks up with her and then he gets all his friends to rape her.

None of this is erotic. In fact the only part that's erotic is when the characters talk about their other fuck buddies.

Anyhow after that rape scene, the bad woman gets the playwright protagonist to come to her motel so she can tell him that she's dying. Then he leaves and gets in a car accident and dies. The last 60 pages is a bullshit play where Timmy (fuck off with using the name) fucks a lot of people.

There's no joy to this and no real passion. Michael was a sad fuck who wrote a ton of stuff. SOme of it was really good. And at one point I admired him for churning out a lot of books - like three a year - but his characters are sad sacks and his cocaine death in Tijuana was appropriate. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder
Teddy Bear

Books read in 2021 # 39-41 - Ok, let's get these back to the library

39. Komi Can't Communicate vol 1 by Tomohito Oda - I'm actually quite fond of this book although it's got some strange relationship with modern technology. Mostly due to the fact that Komi is so shy that she can't even make small talk but she can write down the words. Which brings up the fact that she should have an online presence. The introvert/extrovert dynamic almost reverses online. My online presences is all over the place but see me in person and I'm fairly unassuming. Granted that's a lot of ADHD where I'm not very comfortable around neurotypical people, but also I'm shy. Way back when I was first blogging on livejournal, I surprised people by being nice in person. Anyhow if Komi can't talk to people except to write things down, why doesn't she blog or use social media? But beyond that this is a sweet book about a very shy girl wanting to make friends and how her reticence makes people think that she's stuck up. Also there's a trans character so bonus.

40. The Society of Timid Souls or How to be Brave by Polly Morland - This is one of those light tourism of a dynamic books. Morland was a journalist for years so in this book she applies all of her experience to the topic of fear and bravery. So she can talk about performance anxiety, genocide and soldiers. It's an interesting take on many topics. It's one of those books that you enjoy reading and forget about in a few months. But the material about the genocide in Bosnia is seriously not going to go away (especially since those 1/6 motherfuckers were ready to start it up here).

41. Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel adapted by Jason Cobley and Declan Shalvey - SHalvey has a credit for line work. Not artist. Not pencils. Line work. Maybe it's a British thin but it feels appropriate that the artist would get very little credit. THe whole book is perfunctory with a Classical Comics label slapped on so it's like those 60s classic illustrated comics that were more important as Cliff NOtes than actual entertainment. I also forget that Victor has another brother besides William. http://www.patreon.com/timlieder