Y: The Last Man

17 02 2008

Y: The Last Man, the masterpiece comic series by Brian K.Vaughan and Pia Guerra is done. How do I feel?

(I can’t hide clips, so unfortunately, there is one very key spoiler below. Don’t read on if you care about the end of it all).

I was just slightly less than satisfied with the ending. I’m glad it was left open, yet with a sense of ultimate resolution. I read a review from the Onion A.V. Club (is that national or by city?), and they effectively summed up my thought that there should have been more plot resolution in the flashbacks than was. I would like to have known exactly how the world accepted the return of men (via new Yoricks).

Overall, I think Vaughan did a great job conceptualizing a realistic response to such a population collapse, from doomsday naysayers, to political changes to exactly how anyone (women or men) would pull their heads out of their asses, work hard and make the best of such a situation.

You can’t tell me that if we found out we’d be out of oil in five years that we would be without sufficient energy ten years later. You change focus, bust out the big brains, conserve and labor to make things as easy as possible. But I digress…

I read the trade backs leading up to ~ issue 52 around a year ago, and I don’t remember everything so vividly, but one thing that I always remember is that Aussies owned the seas because they were the only ones whose country allowed women to command subs, thus they were the only ones who knew their shit on one. So sweet…

Anyone else have thoughts on the story as a whole?

Frank Warren Speaks!

22 10 2007

Tonight I went to see Frank Warren of PostSecret speak. He was really inspiring.

He spoke about how he got started with the project, what the secrets mean to him and what he hopes to accomplish. He told a lot of good stories, some funny, some sad and many hopeful. He read some fresh secrets that he had never read before and even opened an envelope with some secrets that had been handed to him at his last speaking engagement.

At first, when he spoke, Frank came off as a little cheesy. His talk of the secrets and how they help him learn and grow reminded me of pastors and teachers speaking to us during high school devotion. In school it felt insincere, but Frank’s talk slowly pulled me in, and I felt myself following with what he said.

He spoke about the first big media exposure he got after the initial bit from the site. It was a video for an All American Rejects song called Dirty Little Secret (which I can’t link to. Thanks, YouTube, for making my version of Flash incompatible with half of your videos.) Frank was offered $1,000 to use his secrets in the video. Instead, he requested that they donate $2000 to Hopeline, a suicide hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE.

The sentiment of his that I felt most in tune with was that he felt he does not censor the cards of others. I felt like sometimes he might have wanted to, but he said he only takes down cards by request. His feeling was that so much of art, be it music, photography, painting or otherwise, is chosen to be displayed in boardrooms. This is raw, though. This is created by people and shot directly to Frank’s mailbox. He’s absolutely right not to censor it. I was fortunate to go to the talk.

By the way, he shared a secret with us. It’s in the first Post Secret book.

Life Goes On

12 03 2007

This last (half)week is in the running for worst of the year… already. There must be a song out there that illustrates how I feel right now. When I’m having a bad day, I always think of the book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. Alexander has a series of awful things happen to him in one day. As I recall, he gets gum stuck in his hair, has to visit the dentist and had to face a number of other horrible things. In the end, he decides the best thing to do is move to Australia. I’m not sure when (or how) it gets happy, but for me, the moral is that as shitty as it gets, tomorrow is another day to make a change and to live differently.

My Example:

  • Thursday: parted ways with latest girlfriend (broke up, her choice)
  • Friday: worked 9 to midnight shift at quasi-fast food job
  • Saturday: early morning, hung out at a party with my sister and three friends. was as fun as could possibly be considering circumstances until I chipped front tooth on 40oz while dancing. fun resumed shortly thereafter upon consumption of more of the contents of said 40oz. went home and slept. woke up still tounging chipped tooth. did dishes with overall pointless day that should have involved studying for genetics exam and nursing assistant quiz. accepted offer from fruit stand guy to start at fruit stand on Monday. studied at coffee shop for genetics exam.
  • Sunday: went to work at quasi-fast food restaurant at midnight to work until 3am (bar time shift) which turned out to really be 4pm due to daylight savings time. got out at 4pm, went to sleep at 6am due to coffee consumed at 11pm. woke up at 12pm. got out of bed at 2pm. began studying for genetics exam around whenever. never really studied hard. went to bed by midnight.
  • Monday: woke up at 6am. note this is same as bed time on Sunday. worked at fruit stand… a positive, enjoyable experience. went to genetics class. took genetics exam at 2pm because nursing assistant class interfered with evening exam time. maybe actually did ok on exam. had another quiz in nursing assistant class. did well. here I sit.

The week actually did improve a little, despite a lack of sleep. I don’t mean to oversimplify my breakup. It’s much more complicated than presented, but the story isn’t meant for public eyes.
Three items more interesting than my current personal dilemmas:

Gerald Cox of the Badger Herald wrote an interesting piece on Burak Obama, Sen. Joe Biden’s “controversial” comments on him and why people love him so much. I like Cox’s writing, as he’s often insightful and doesn’t jump to crass conclusions.

DePauw Cuts Ties With Controversial Sorority

Delta Zeta at Depauw just helped ruin the Greek image further. Thanks a lot, girls. I’d call you women if you acted like them. I wonder how such a governing body could cut so many people loose. Did they get a majority vote on all of those women? I admire the women who resigned after the fact, too. (Note: this has so much to do with a recent post of mine on college narcissism.)

From In Moderation: the very first (design of an) Apple Computer. It was called the Apple I and 200 were made in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne and Steve Wozniak. Jobs needs no introduction, but in case you didn’t know, the less famous Wozniak helped found Apple, then moved on and Ronald Wayne was a “third founder” who is hardly know, though I heard him on NPR recently. Funny, I remember using Apple IIgs’s in school, but I never stopped to think that there might have been a I at one point.

Hogwart’s = Magical MENSA meeting

8 10 2006

recycled: Previously published Slate articles made new.

Harry PotterPampered jock, patsy, fraud.

Slate’s “Assessment” columns dissect the conventional wisdom about real people (L. Ron Hubbard), fictional characters (Scooby-Doo), companies (Whole Foods), body parts (the prostate), and even weather patterns (El Nino). This week, Slate is resurrecting a handful of classic Assessments, all collected in a new book, Backstabbers, Crazed Geniuses, and Animals We Hate. The following piece was originally published in Slate on Nov. 8, 2002.

Warning: This article contains a few spoilers about the Harry Potter books and movies.

Illustration by Charlie Powell Like most heroes, Harry Potter possesses the requisite Boy Scout virtues: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. But so do lots of boys and girls, and they don’t get books and movies named after them. Why isn’t the movie that comes out next week titled Ron Weasley and the Chamber of Secrets? Why isn’t its sequel dubbed Hermione Granger and the Prisoner of Azkaban? Why Harry? What makes him so special?

Simple: He’s a glory hog who unfairly receives credit for the accomplishments of others and who skates through school by taking advantage of his inherited wealth and his establishment connections. Harry Potter is no braver than his best friend, Ron Weasley, just richer and better-connected. Harry’s other good friend, Hermione Granger, is smarter and a better student. The one thing Harry excels at is the sport of Quidditch, and his pampered-jock status allows him to slide in his studies, as long as he brings the school glory on the playing field. But as Charles Barkley long ago noted, being a good athlete doesn’t make you a role model.

Harry Potter is a fraud, and the cult that has risen around him is based on a lie. Potter’s claim to fame, his central accomplishment in life, is surviving a curse placed on him as an infant by the evil wizard Voldemort. As a result, the wizarding world celebrates the young Harry as “The Boy Who Lived.” It’s a curiously passive accomplishment, akin to “The Boy Who Showed Up,” or “The Boy Who Never Took a Sick Day.” And sure enough, just as none of us do anything special by slogging through yet another day, the infant Harry didn’t do anything special by living. It was his mother who saved him, sacrificing her life for his.

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Did your mom love you? Good, maybe you deserve to be a hero, too. The love of Harry’s mother saves his life not once but twice in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Not only that, but her love for Harry sends Voldemort into hiding for 13 years, saving countless other lives in the process. The book and the movie should be named after Lily Potter. But thanks to the revisionist histories of J.K. Rowling, Lily’s son is remembered as the world’s savior.

What Harry has achieved on his own, without his mother, stems mostly from luck and, more often, inheritance. He’s a trust-fund kid whose success at his school, Hogwarts, is largely attributable to the gifts his friends and relatives lavish upon him. (Coming soon: Frank Bruni’s book, Ambling Into Hogwarts: The Unlikely Odyssey of Harry Potter.) A few examples: an enchanted map (made in part by his father), an invisibility cloak (his father’s), and a state-of-the art magical broom (a gift from his godfather) that is the equivalent of a Lexus in a high-school parking lot.

Harry’s other achievements can generally be chalked up to the fact that he regularly plays the role of someone’s patsy. Almost all Harry’s deeds in the first book take place under the watchful eye of Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore, who saves Harry from certain death at the end of the book. In Chamber of Secrets, the evil Voldemort successfully manipulates the unsuspecting Harry, who must once again be rescued. In Goblet of Fire, everything Harry accomplishes—including winning the Triwizard Tournament—takes place because he is the unwitting pawn of one of Voldemort’s minions.

Even Harry’s greatest moment—his climactic face-off with Voldemort in Goblet of Fire—isn’t much to crow about. Pure happenstance is the only reason Voldemort is unable to kill Harry: Both their magic wands were made with feathers from the same bird. And even with his lucky wand, Harry still needs his mom’s ghost to bail him out by telling him what to do. Once again, Lily Potter proves to be twice the man her son is.

Harry’s one undisputed talent is his skill with a broom, which makes him one of the most successful Quidditch players in Hogwarts history. As Rowling puts it the first time Harry takes off on a broom, “in a rush of fierce joy he realized he’d found something he could do without being taught.” Harry’s talent is so natural as to be virtually involuntary. Admiring Harry for his flying skill is like admiring a cheetah for running fast. It’s beautiful, but it’s not an accomplishment.

In fact, Harry rarely puts hard work or effort into anything. He is a “natural.” Time and again, Harry is celebrated for his instinctual gifts. When he learns that he is a Parselmouth, or someone who can speak the language of snakes, Rowling writes, “He wasn’t even aware of deciding to do it.” (In fact, when Harry tries to speak this language, he can’t do it. He can only do it instinctively.) When Harry stabs a basilisk in Chamber of Secrets, Rowling writes that he did it “without thinking, without considering, as though he had meant to do it all along.” In Goblet of Fire, during Harry’s battle with Voldemort, Rowling writes that “Harry didn’t understand why he was doing it, didn’t know what it might achieve. …”

Being a wizard is something innate, something you are born to, not something you can achieve. As a result, Harry lives an effortless life. Although Dumbledore insists, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” the school that Dumbledore runs values native gifts above all else. That’s why Harry is such a hero in wizard culture—he has the most talent, even if he hasn’t done much with it. Hogwarts is nothing more than a magical Mensa meeting.


21 02 2006

I had to document my breakthrough in my paper thesis. This will only make sense if you’ve read As I Lay Dying by Faulkner. I recommend it, as I liked it. I could lend it to you.
What is the larger theme in the text?!?!?!

Addie Bundren’s freedom! Did she want children or not? Anse was dead to her. she looked away from him before death. Talked of wild geese in her section. Darkness…darkness… darkness… light of her eyes flared up right before death, then died. How does whitfield tie in? Jewel and her affair with Whitfield? What did the children mean to her? What about after death? Did she “get back” at them by “causing” the trials and tribulations? Did she get at them by asking to be buried in Jefferson?


9 01 2006

The words of a friend:

“i hate getting caught up in being fake.”

Well put. I do, too. I’m glad it doesn’t have to happen this time. It’s real. I’m real.


Yeah…They call me Grizzly Bear.
Got long black grizzly hair.
Walk down the street and everybody stop and stare.
Oh, oh, woh… I’m wild and wooly and free,
And so you’d better not mess with me.
Let me tell ya’ that I howl, yowl, growl like a Grizzly Bear.

They say “There go Grizzly Bear.
Got no clothes to wear.”
They say I’m all hung up on being nowhere.
Yeah, but the girls they love my claws
And my great be chompin’ jaws.
Let me tell ya’ that I howl, yowl, growl like a Grizzly Bear.

Now I can’t be chained
And I can’t be tamed
And they can’t kill my desire.
So baby, gimme a hug.
I’ll be your bear-skin rug,
And I’ll lie in front of your fire….all winter.

So, baby if you dare,
Why don’t cha come on down to my lair.
And if you got some honey to share,
I’ll be waitin’ for you there.
Hey, you know I’m gonna come on strong
and we can hug an’ mate the whole winter long.
Let me tell ya’ that I howl, yowl, growl like a Grizzly Bear.

SPOKEN: Yeah , watch out baby , here I come again . . .

Yeah, they call me Grizzly Bear.
They say I’m kooky and square.
They can say anything they want about me I don’t care. (I don’t care.)
Because I’m takin’ it day by day,
And I’m livin’ my own sweet way.
Let me tell ya’ that I howl, yowl, growl like a Grizzly Bear.

Book Reviews

25 12 2005

To preface this, Katrien just got a gift certificate for Amazon, so I reviewed some books for her. I just got $50 for Barnes and Noble, so I would value some reviews from you folks. PLEASE POST THEM, ESPECIALLY THE “MUST READS”!!!. Here are mine:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel – I can’t even tell you anything about this book because I feel like I’d spoil it for you. Needless to say, one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn – I read this book right after Life of Pi. It’s philosophy and religion wrapped in an edible book, and it makes you think outside of the perspective of mankind about what we really are to this planet.

The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King – These are my favorite books ever. I’d recommend trying the Gunslinger and seeing if you like it. The series is like nothing else King has written. It’s a mix of fantasy and reality that just made me crave more. If you want, I could loan these to you. Just let me know before break is over, and I could get them all back with me.

The Missing Piece and the Big O by Shel Silverstein – I’ll push anything Silverstein wrote, but this one was happy and sad and rings true to daily life. I loved it and actually just bought it today to give to my sister on Christmas… which is today. Merry Christmas! Other Shel books that amaze me: The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, etc.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson – This one should be super cheap on amazon, and it’s a great read… really fast. It’s funny, and it intertwines humor with the history and preservation efforts of the Appalachian Trail.