Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Walking Dead vol. 1

Some (most) of these short book reviews are from Goodreads from days gone by.  When I post an old one (like this one), I’ll try to include the date that I originally read the book or posted the review.

November, 2012

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A good start to what I anticipate will be a fun (?) series. We’ve enjoyed the first 2 seasons of the tv show, so I have somewhat high expectations for the comic.

Plainview #22

Plainview #22 is a media blitz.  Media covered in this show: Podcasts — our own;  Television — My Name is Earl & The Office (both new shows at the time); Movies — Team America & What the Bleep do we Know; Books — Harry Potter, The Watchmen & The Gangster We’re All Looking For; News — why can’t they get things right about hurricane Katrina?  We also talk about our kids and the weird things about them including Will’s concern about meeting Johnny Appleseed and Maly trying to decide whose side she’s on–God’s or Mom’s.

Savage Tales #1

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Savage Tales #1

From the looks of the cover, my first thought was that Marvel was going to do their version of Heavy Metal magazine with maybe a post-apocalypse bent. But that wasn’t their intent. In fact, when you open up the magazine you are greeted with a title page laid out in 48 point font declaring that this magazine is to carry stories of pulpy violence, and if the reader wants something else, he should look elsewhere. The intro is written in the tone and voice of the pulp writers–“You want philosophy, read Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Proust. They wrote it good.” And while that declared promise is broken right out of the gate with the first story, making one’s goal to give the reader nothing to think about, nothing to ponder in these self-declared stories of “only violence,” may have something to do with this magazine having a run of just 9 issues.

There are 5 stories in this book, each by a different writer and artist. Each one is set in a different violent setting. There’s the Vietnam story,  a western story, a jungle war story, a post-WWII story, and a post-apocalypse/crime-ridden future story.

The first story is a Vietnam war story that eventually spun off into its own comic–The ‘Nam. The story is kind of set up as an introduction to more stories to come, with an introduction of the ragtag group of soldiers, each with his own set of quirky traits.

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It tells the story of a soldier demonstrating true courage, sacrificing his life to save the lives of his friends. The story’s not that interesting, unless this is maybe your first war comic ever. But self sacrifice and its implications is something worth exploring. The story’s not that interesting, but the ending is satisfying. Something that can’t be said for all if theses stories.

The second story, the jungle war story, which takes place in a sort of dystopian future, but not very far in the future, has everything a good story needs, except a good story. This setting and characters are intriguing, a group of rebels in the jungle who use biplanes and other such salvaged technology from the past to fight an organization, presumably a government or corporation of some sort that has access to high tech jets and such.

But I didn’t get enough of that to be hooked. A short story is tricky that way. In a novel, graphic or otherwise, the author has more time to draw the reader in, to make him care about what’s going on before the stakes get raised and the action begins.  A good short story, graphic or otherwise, can do that, but I think it’s more difficult. This jungle story, and really the majority of the stories in this book, don’t set that hook. The investment by the reader is not there. So when the hot rebel girl steals the jet, and in the process of getting away has to ditch the plane and parachute safely back in the jungle, and she does, and the end, I was left thinking a page or four was missing from the story. Because, so what?

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The next story involves the revenge killing of a Nazi officer. It’s one of the better stories in the collection. We get a little twist at the end which is ultimately pretty dumb and turns a story of possible redemption into a story of revenge and the myth of redemptive violence.

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My favorite story in the book is “Blood & Gutz: A Pizza.” It involves a man, Blood, going down the street for a pizza in a post-apocalypse crime-ridden Los Angeles. The story is basically a long set up for a punch line. But the fights are fun, as is Blood’s casual attitude toward all of the danger around him.

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The final story is a Western, one of my favorite genres. But I think this story is the weakest of the lot.  It’s about some soldiers tracking down some deserters.  After some shooting, the deserters are apprehended.  Their punishment, besides being tied for a while out in the sun? Reenlistment in the army. Du-du-dummmm!  Endings are hard I guess.

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So it’s probably clear that I mostly didn’t like this book.  The writing is weak and the stories mostly uninteresting.  Maybe that’s why I only bought one issue.  Or maybe I just bought one because I knew that issue #1 would be the one to be worth hundreds of dollars some day.  But I will say this, this magazine is great to look at.  The art is varied from story to story, with each style perfectly fitting the tone of its piece.  The art for the western story looks westerny and the art for “A Pizza” is fun and scary just like the story.

So Savage Tales is ok.  If you can turn off your brain and just enjoy the stories for their pretty pictures, you’re in good shape. If you want more than that, then just keep walking.  Or find some Schopenhauer or Kierkegaard, or some old Secrets of Haunted House comics.

Treadmill Films 28-36 — Strong Women

All good movies in this batch. Some better than others, but not a clunker in the group. The theme is here is easy. Strong women. What would we do without them.

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Blackfish. Love of money vs. creation care. I hope he’s right, the guy who said we’d look back and be embarrassed. We can do better.

Elaine Stritch:Shoot Me. It’s not being able to keep working when you’re old. It’s doing you’re entire life what you want to keep doing.

Airplane. My dad angrily in 1980: You want to watch a movie where they throw shit into a fan?!
Me sheepishly: No Dad.
Dated but still funny.

Annie Hall. Cute in dictionary=Diane Keaton after tennis game. This exploration of relationships holds up till–Did he say 16-year olds? Eek

The Invisible War. This film shows the U.S. Military is not completely full of rapists and assholes. But there’s way too many. Needs fixed.

Hoop Dreams. Intriguing doc. Hard to watch without googling where they are now. Dreams change. No NBA, but they both seem to be doing well.

Rosemary’s Baby. The good old days when women let us men take care of all the decision making. But if the result is a devil baby, forget it.

His Girl Friday ’40. Grant & Russell make murder, suicide, and politically motivated execution a conniving, rollicking, break-neck good time.

The Lady Vanishes.1938 Hitchcock. Great shots, fun characters, intriguing plot. It all holds up but the haircuts. And maybe the fight scene.

 

Wink Fun

I recently got a review published on the new website Wink Fun.  Wink Fun is a spinoff of Wink Books.  Wink Books provides short reviews of “remarkable books that belong on paper.” I have purchased a half dozen of these books for myself based on their reviews.  Wink Fun does for cool toys and games what Wink books does for cool books.

You can find my review of Ca$h ‘n Guns on page 2 of the site or on the Board Game page. Look for this picture.

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Hopefully this won’t be my last review to show up there as I like writing about cool toys and games.  And now that I see they are carrying reviews of magic tricks . . . sweet!

So head over there to read what I say about Ca$h ‘n Guns, one of my family’s favorite games. And stick around to read about all the other cool things there.  It’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping.

Plainview #21

In episode 21 of The Plainview, we reviewed Kung Fu Hustle, discussed the government as Christ figure, wondered about our mean children, and talked a lot about questioning god.  For what it’s worth, we still quiz our kids in the Benedictine style just about every night.

Hmmm, I wonder whatever happened to those coffee mugs?