I like the idea behind this book in theory, but the trouble with expectations is that sometimes, my ideas for what the book is are actually better than the actual book. I'd hoped that this was going to be a collection of quotes from Hillary that coincidentally happened to fit the 5-7-5 meter of the traditional haiku.
HILLARY CLINTON HAIKU is just a collection of observations about Hillary Clinton that have been formatted into haiku. I think they are supposed to be clever and tongue-in-cheek but sadly, too many of them seem mean-spirited or even just crude. Example, numerous speculations about the Monica Lewinsky scandal and an ill-conceived obsession with Hillary Clinton's cankles.
I don't know, guys. With the election coming up, I thought this would be a useful little guide that might give me some insights into the controversial figure that is Hillary Clinton. It could have been so much more than it actually was, which is something you would expect to find in the bargain bin of an airport gift shop.
So this is actually my second encounter with Mr. Šejić. I received an advance copy of RAVINE a couple years ago for review, and I didn't like it. It had some great art work, but it wasn't consistent across the graphic novel as a whole and it subscribed to some very unfortunate medieval fantasy tropes that I'm not really fond of.
SUNSTONE is different. It looks and sounds like it's going to be another fantasy novel, but it isn't. It's actually a graphic novel about BDSM, revolving around the stories of two women who start a sexual relationship with one another over the course of the story. They are Lisa, the submissive one, who is playful and very childlike, and self-publishes books. And then there is Ally, the dominant, who is a young professional, who is a little shy and a bit of a worrier, and also compulsively buys sex-related items.
I think SUNSTONE is actually a perfect example of why it is good not to write an author off completely just because you have had a bad experience with one of their books. Authors--if they have any modicum of talent and agency in their blood--learn and grow from each book. The art in SUNSTONE is so much better than in RAVINE, and the characters are more fleshed (heh) out. I felt like the story-telling in this book was done on a totally other level from RAVINE. I could actually identify with the characters.
Even though F/F doesn't really do it for me, in a matter of speaking, this book approaches BDSM in a way that is relatable and shows that a couple can still be enthusiastic, caring, compassionate, excited, and unashamed about their relationship with each other and their own sexual identity. That makes this book sexy, I think; it takes a lot of unfortunate stereotypes propagated by mainstream fiction and subverts them. There's an entire panel that discusses the importance of aftercare, and Šejić did something else that really surprised me, too--and showed me something that I had never really thought about before: that there can be a playful, fun side to bondage. That it doesn't have to be scary. The phrase "sexual geeks" is actually used to describe people who participate. :)
When I thought about why the events in SUNSTONE surprised me later, I came to a rather grim and depressing conclusion: in the books about BDSM that are so popular on the market right now, there is often a lot of anger and angst and fear in the books that actually makes these activities seem...unpleasant and shameful and dangerous. Which they shouldn't be. If you are engaging in those types of activities with someone and feel those feelings, you are probably doing it with the wrong person or in the wrong way. I've made that mistake myself in some of the books that I have written, and I think that's partially because people expect books about the subject to be written that way, and because those expectations are internalized in so many people.
I think SUNSTONE is a great introduction to a very misunderstood lifestyle. Fans of F/F will love SUNSTONE, but I think even straight people who are interested in BDSM or at least curious about it will benefit from it as well. The artwork is lovely, and it has some really witty dialogue and well placed pop culture references. I was pleasantly surprised. I think I'd be interested in reading subsequent installments, especially learning about some of the other characters' stories. ;)
I was a strange little kid. I was obsessed with Bill Nye and Eyewitness, and would happily sit down and watch NOVA with my father. Once in a while, I would even steal his issues of Scientific American--until the fateful day that I came across an article about brain-eating ameobas. Shit got way too real that day. But for the most part, I enjoyed my childhood dabbles into science. I think it's because science taps into that part of you that still feels wonder about the world. Science tells you that it's okay to be amazed, and it gives you facts that you can use to rationalize your wonder.
Science is the bomb.
I took one look at the cover of BIOLUMINESCENCE and knew that this was a book right up my alley, just like ODD COUPLES. I love books about animals, especially weird animals. And it doesn't get much weirder than these critters.
Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction that produces light in living organisms. The key word is living. Some of the animals, like fireflies, do this through internal reactions involving the enzyme, luciferase, and the protein, luciferin, and, of course, bucket-loads of ATP. Other creatures have symbiotic relationships with bioluminescent bacteria, like the Hawaiian bobtail squid, which is also really cool because it maintains a bacterial equilibrium through the use of quorum sensing.
The mantis shrimp is probably one of the coolest animals in the world. Its little claws pack the force of a .22 caliber bullet and with enough force that the water around them not only heats up to a boil, but also produces bursts of light called sonoluminescence. zefrank1 does a video about mantis shrimps, and it's way cooler to see all of this in action.
The last few chapters talk about the real-world applications of bioluminescence. They're cool when they show up in nature, but scientists, being scientists, like to dink around with bioluminescence. They use it to "mark" bacteria or viruses in order to study how they are transmitted, and what their life cycles look like, which could potentially help us find a cure for things like HIV.
I've read a bit about bioluminescence before, and it was really great to see all the examples of creatures who exhibit this phenomenon in nature. I think deep-sea bioluminescence is fascinating. Actually, I think deep sea life is fascinating, period. There is no light in the lower levels of the oceans, and one of the compelling arguments that this author made is that the creatures down there all have eyes, despite there being no light. He suggests that this is probably because of bioluminescence; the creatures evolved eyes to see the bioluminescent lights of other animals (80-90% of deep-sea life are bioluminescent). In fact, one of the oldest bioluminescent creatures--a jellyfish--is over 5 million years old.
BIOLUMINESCENCE is a really great book. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning about really weird animals and/or totally random facts.
Grace grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home. Her dad quotes scripture at her daily, and even made her sign a celibacy contract. Growing up, she and her family went door to door trying to get converts. She is a sheltered girl with an oppressive father and doesn't know much about anything, let alone S-E-X.
One day, at a school assembly, she sees a guest lecturer from a nearby college named Michael. They lock eyes in the auditorium and it's attraction at first sight. It isn't long before their first kiss and then, their first time. Michael says he's in love with her. That he wants to marry her. It's everything that Grace ever wanted.
I'm trying to figure out where I stand with this book. It tried to combine so many tropes into one volume: the wild best friend, the rich girl fallen from grace, teen motherhood, abortions, religious nuts, student-teacher relationships, quirky pixie-dreamboys, mawwiage. I think I might have been able to tolerate some of them, but in an overwhelming melting pot like this? Maybe not.
Like others, I also didn't like Michael at all. He struck me as incredibly condescending and not very smart. Since he was a professor, I was hoping for more enlightening insights into the literature that he allegedly taught, but mostly he just quoted them and seemed to think that this made him brill. He was also very clueless. Telling Grace to "dress nice" for one of his parties and then getting mad that she didn't understand that this was code for "black-tie." Making condescending comments about how wine is an acquired taste (although what's this about chardonnay being strong-tasting? a chardonnay is no cabernet or a zinfandel). And then there's this incredibly bullshit about how it's okay to have sex without condoms because he can just pull out. Um...where did you get your doctorate again?
HOW IT'S DONE has some great points about unbalanced relationships, and I like how Grace struggled to find her footing with a man who was so clearly not her equal, and how Michael abused this inequality to his advantage. This was very realistic, and often isn't shown in books about student-teacher relationships, which often try to take the more romantic way out.
The problem was that there was just so much side drama. Especially Liv. I honestly did not see why Grace was friends with this girl. In the beginning she seemed cool, but then it all regressed into the "my best friend is a slut" stereotype that I hate so much. Liv was a terrible person by the end of the book, and all of her peripheral issues where just too...much. Plus, the way abortion is brought up in this book is incredibly vague. I'm guessing the author didn't want to offend anyone by taking a concrete stance, but the result just makes it awkward. Also: the dead baby exhibit. o.o
I probably would have rated this higher if I were in high school & still starry-eyed and naive. But now that I know how the world works (at least, a bit more than I did when I was eighteen), I can't give this a super high rating. It is well-written and has some interesting--even valuable--ideas, but as a whole, is incredibly flawed. I have no regrets about reading it, but I wouldn't read it again.
THE TOKYO ZODIAC MURDERS is one creepy story. It's about a murder by the same name that happened in pre-WWII Japan. The story opens with the last testament of a man named Umezawa, artist and psychopath, who wants to create the perfect woman...by chopping up the bodies of his daughters and nieces. Each of them possess different astrological signs which are, in turn, responsible for governing different parts of the body. This recombined whole, which he calls Azoth, will be the perfect woman.
However, things go wrong. Umezawa is killed, along with his wife, and all of the young women he planned on using for Azoth. Forty years later, and still nobody has been able to solve the mystery, which has elevated it to cult status in pop culture.
The story is narrated by Kazumi, a hapless but intelligent man who is forced to play Dr. Watson to his brilliant friend Kiyoshi's detective skills. After getting in trouble with the police for obtaining a piece of critical evidence under dubious means, they find themselves with a very scant timeline: just a week to solve the case. But Kiyoshi remains confident...
This story was incredibly violent and fucked-up, especially that prologue. I have to say, though, that it hooks its claws into you and doesn't let go. The pacing of TTZM is also really well done. I loved the gradual unraveling of the mystery, and the reliance on clues to set the pace. Apparently, THE TOKYO ZODIAC MURDERS falls under the honkaku genre of mysteries in Japan, which means it focuses on...guess what...plotting and clues instead of deception and deus-ex-machinas.
Readers are encouraged to solve the mystery before the characters. In fact, Shimada includes two notes at climactic moments, urging you to solve the case because the clues are right there. It made me feel like Shimada was a Japanese Steve on an episode of Blue's Clues, urging me to FIND THE CLUE.
One of my friends warned me that the ending was a bit weird, and I'll definitely agree with that. It was. I didn't understand the motivation myself, but the plotting was genius. And who doesn't like a locked-room mystery? This was something straight out of the Crimson Room series...
Atsumi is a high school girl who looks like she's ten. Atsushi is a ten-year-old who looks like he's in college. They're siblings, and they're total opposites. Get ready to laugh!
Sometimes you read a book, and you just know it's going to offend people. RECORDER AND RANDSELL is one of those books. Their appearances raise some very uncomfortable issues, and this book goes about them in the wrong way.
Example 1: Atsushi has a little girlfriend in his class. When he walks around with her, he is repeatedly arrested by the police because they think he's an adult man making off with a child. The first time this happened, I laughed a little on the inside. I felt guilty about it, but I was amused. But then this happens 20 more times. (Seriously.)
Example 2: Atsushi has a very uncomfortable relationship with adult women. They all want to bang him--even though he's a child. His teacher, especially, often finds herself very flustered in his presence because of how attractive he is (*shudder*) and there are some unpleasant scenes involving the two of them in some...um...awkward moments that have her getting all hot and bothered.
First off, EW.
Second off, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH U.
Example 3: Atsumi is often sexualized in the panels, which veers into the uncomfortable territory of school girl porn. There's one "cover art" scene featuring her and her brother. Atsushi is dressed up as santa and Atsushi is in the gift he's unwrapping--naked, except for some strategically placed ribbon.
Example 4: Atsushi is also sexualized. He is constantly taking off his shirt (to reveal a very muscular chest, of course), much to the dismay of the women around him. He has an unemployed neighbor who lends him clothes and at one point, he's dressed in a very low-cut shirt that reveals most of his chest, tight pants, and an ID necklace. Atsumi tells him to take it off because he looks "too good."
The sexualization and fetishization in this manga made me very uncomfortable, and so did the way that it made light of child sexual abuse and sexual predators.
Just in case all that weren't enough, RECORDER AND RANDSELL forces you to read the panels in an odd order: left to right, down from the leftmost panel, then up to the top right panel and down again. It gave me such a headache on my e-reader, scrolling up and down constantly.
ARKHAM MANOR is a really weird book. Bruce Wayne "loses" the family fortune, and his mansion defaults to the city. Since Arkham was destroyed, they need a new place to house inmates and Wayne Manor is redesigned as the new Arkham.
Batman decides to investigate Arkham by becoming a John Doe (Jack Something), and living in his own house as an inmate while investigating sketchy behavior. His disguise is laughable. It literally consists of a mustache.
The upside to ARKHAM is that, usually, in most comic books, only a handful of Batman villains are featured--but this one has tons. Not just the typical ones, like The Joker or Harley, but weird ones, like Mr. Zsasz, Clayface, Dr. Crane, and Victor Freeze.
I'm a little confused by the character roster on the Goodreads website, though, because it says that Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Black Mask, and Killer Croc were in here, but I didn't remember seeing them...?
Anyway, yeah, ARKHAM MANOR was weird. It was an interesting storyline, but also very violent and not super emotional. With Batman stories, I usually expect to see a lot of really meaningful insights about what it means to be a hero who has to do bad things to people, but here Batman seemed to revel in hurting people, even gloated about it. It was kind of icky.
P.S. Thank you, DC, for giving me an ARC of this, along with so many other comic books. I'm actually super excited about that, because DC never used to approve me for anything, but now I almost always get approved. This makes me happy; I love comics. So thank you!
I must be an Epic because my super power is wanting this book. The wanting is powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations. There's only one way toI must be an Epic because my super power is wanting this book. The wanting is powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations. There's only one way to stop me:
You look at that cover and tell me this book isn't trying to capitalize off the success of Ernest Cline's ARMADA and READY PLAYER ONE and the upcoming Spielberg movie. Okay, now tell me that without lying through your teeth.
I've always been fascinated by books about cyberpunk and virtual reality and video games. As a gamer, it was always really exciting to see my interests expressed in fiction. Video game themed books used to be few and far in between, but ever since gamer culture went mainstream, there has been a slow but steady increase in the output of video game-themed sci-fi, most notably READY PLAYER ONE. And as with most success stories, people are shamelessly trying to capitalize on it by pandering, pandering, pandering!! In fact, if trend-hopping was a restaurant, it would be called PANDERING EXPRESS. (*crickets chirp*)
Come on, guys. Not even a chuckle?
As with most anthologies, PRESS START TO PLAY is very uneven. Some of the stories are fantastic, and some are dull as dishwater. There were a couple that were so off the wall that I wondered why they had been included in the anthology at all, since their relevance to gaming was so peripheral. Because of this uneven quality in content, I like to review anthologies differently: each story gets its own star rating and the rating of the book itself is an actual average of all the individual stories' ratings, rounded up. Needlessly complicated? I SHOULD HOPE SO!!!
1. God Mode by Daniel H. Wilson - ★★
I've read Wilson's other works, and something about his writing just rubs me the wrong way, like Charles Stross and Max Brooks. I think it's because they try too hard. They want to be meta, and intellectual, and relevant...but they also want to geek out over their favorite thing and have everyone praise them for how good they are at geeking out over that thing. GOD MODE had a pseudo-intellectual vibe that was really hard to get over and tried too hard to be meta.
2. NPC by Charles Yu - ★★
I think it was a big mistake on the editor's part having two such similar stories back to back. This story was really confusing. I was never quite clear what was going on. There were elements of determinism and AI here, I think, but there were also elements of Groundhog's Day, as well. This story didn't know what it wanted to be, and that caused it to fail.
3. Respawn by Hiroshi Sakurazaka - ★★★
RESPAWN had elements of GOD MODE in it, which was another mistake, I think, because of how the stories bleed together if you read the anthology over a long period of time. I thought this author's name was familiar, and it turns out that this is because he's the author of ALL YOU NEED IS KILL: that book that was trending recently on Goodreads a couple months ago. This story is interesting: it asks the question, what if every time you died, you became someone else? Apart from the whole concept of respawning, however, it has nothing to do with virtual reality or video games, and this is one of those stories that made me question why it was included in the anthology.
4. Desert Walk by S.R. Mastrantone - ★★★★
I actually really liked this one! Desert Walk is a game by the same name, for the Sega. Since its release was cancelled, the only copies that exist are the demo copies that accidentally contained the full game. The main character buys one for an arm and a leg and finds it compelling, despite the fact that the game literally consists of just walking through a desert. Then she finds something weird that she brings up with the reclusive game designer, who ends up reacting in a rather shocking way to the questions that the main character asks her. DESERT WALK has a creepy Point Horror vibe to it that's reminiscent of the creepy books imprinted by Scholastic that I devoured as a young teen.
5. Rat Catcher's Yellows by Charlie Jane Anders - ★★★★
This story gets bonus points for revolving around a lesbian couple, because FUCK YEAH! DIVERSITY! Anyway, the main character's partner is suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder. She buys her a video game because she hopes it will have a therapeutic effect on her partner...and it does...in a way. The video game is about a fantasy Renaissance world populated entirely by cats, and, much to the MC's surprise, her partner ends up becoming a prodigy in the world, quickly rising in the ranks for her innovative game play and decision making. I think this book could have been an easy five if it were a full length novel because it offered so many possibilities for future development. Also, I really, really want to play that video game. Because reasons.
6. 1Up by Holly Black - ★★★★★
Holly Black has always been hit or miss with me. Loved DOLL BONES, but thought her fairy stories were crap. This one was a winner, though. A group of internet friends meet up in person to go to one of their friends' funeral. But the circumstances are suspicious, and on his home computer they find a text-based game inviting them to play a game that mirrors the life of their dead friend.
7. Survival Horror by Seannan McGuire - ★★★
McGuire is another author who is hit-or-miss with me. I didn't like NEWSFLESH, but I loved PARASITE. Recently, I acquired a copy of ROSEMARY AND RUE so it will be interesting to see where I fall on that side of the fence. R&R is relevant here because with SURVIVAL HORROR, McGuire takes the paranormal approach: a half-incubus ends up getting a magical attack on his forums...a video game that wants him dead. He and his cousin have to solve the game before time runs out and it kills him. This is a premise that could have been really good provided that A) it actually had time to develop (too much world building going on at once) and B) the ending weren't such a cop-out (SUCH A COP-OUT, OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS, MIDDLE GRADE?).
8. Real by Django Wexler - ★★★★
This was a pretty cool concept. It's about a phone game that lets you see demons. You know, one of those paranormal conspiracy games centered around jump scares? It had a modern gothic/conspiracy vibe to it, like NIGHT FILM or HOUSE OF LEAVES and I really enjoyed it, although, again, I think this is one of those books that also could have worked better as a full-length book.
9. Outliers by Nicole Feldringer - ★
Basically, Sim Earth, except with government conspiracies and a boring MC.
10. end game by Chris Avellone - ★★
This one pissed me off, because it could have been really good if it were fleshed out and a bit more clear. I don't know why authors think that "mystery" equals "be really vague about what's happening at all times" because it doesn't. And sometimes, it's really fucking annoying. Especially when you're trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. This is another story that revolves around text-based games (and I'm going to take a really quick time-out and say how surprising I thought that was, because presumably this is being targeted to the audience that READY PLAYER ONE catered to, which is a bit too young to understand what a text-based game is. Hell, they probably think it's something they play on their phones). It's creepy and got good atmosphere, but the POV keeps changing (WHY?) and like I said, it's way too vague to really elicit any kind of emotions.
11. Save Me Plz by David Barr Kirtley - ★
This one was irritating. It's kind of a validation for people who play video games all day, and reads like an uncomfortable revenge fantasy about girlfriends who don't like their boyfriends playing video games. Kind of like, HA HA! NOW YOU WILL BE MY ELF QUEEN SLUT FOR ALL ETERNITY WHO'S LAUGHING NOW BITCH? I'm not. Ew.
12. Relive Box by T.C. Boyle - ★★★
This story had a really great concept. It's about a piece of technology that hooks into your brain and lets you relive moments--any moment--from your life, again and again. The man narrating is addicted to his own past, even at the cost of his job and his daughter. I think it's really fascinating but it doesn't belong in this anthology because it doesn't deal with video games. If anything, I think RELIVE BOX belongs in a collection of stories paying homage to Philip K. Dick because it deals with that same sort of "what is reality?"/"the future will destroy us" theme he's so famous for.
13. Roguelike by Marc Laidlaw - ★★★
ANOTHER TEXT-BASED GAME. This one captures how frustrating it can be for a player to have to play out levels over and over and over again to achieve success. The actual story is very short, and most of the content is white space. I'm giving it three stars which is really more than it deserves because it didn't really scream "effort!" to me, but the ending did make me laugh very hard.
14. All of the People in Your Party Have Died by Robin Wasserman - ★
This story also has a lesbian couple and deals tangentially with Oregon Trail. However the story itself was boring and scarcely dealt with video games at all. It read like a story written by someone who has never played a video game in her life and hoped that nobody would notice it in her writing.
15. Recoil! by Micky Neilson - ★★
An Average Joe sneaks into a gaming facility in order to test-drive a new release only to get mixed up in a terrorist plot. It's actually better than it sounds, but it's very cheesy, and deals more with VR than with actual video games, and therefore wasn't (in my opinion) a good contribution to this anthology. Also, I saw that ending coming a mile away. One of my favorite Goosebumps novels as a child had the same twist.
16. Anda's Game by Cory Doctorow - ★
You know, this story actually wasn't bad, but I HAVE READ IT FOUR TIMES NOW BECAUSE DOCTOROW KEEPS SUBMITTING IT FOR PUBLICATION. Doctorow submitted Anda's Game to the FUTURE GAMES anthology, and also to THE STARRY RIFT anthology. Anda appears yet again in Doctorow's graphic novel, IN REAL LIFE, which takes ANDA'S GAME and expands it into a full-length graphic novel (to be honest, its best incarnation yet). Did he think no one would notice? Clearly, Cory Doctorow doesn't know how many books I read.
17. Coma Kings by Jessica Barber - ★
Another story that didn't really deal with video games. It could have been omitted from this collection and I don't think anyone would have noticed or felt bad about that.
18. Stats by Marguerite K. Bennett - ★★
An uncomfortable revenge fantasy that, while it deals with many relevant issues (classism, racism, ableism, sexism), doesn't really provide the reader with enough framework for the story. Instead, we're slammed with all these issues without really going into why they're a problem in the first place, instead, just focusing on the ugliness that results from them as a byproduct (presumably for shock value). Even though I'm tired of reading ANDA'S GAME every time I open up a fucking sci-fi anthology, I have to say that Doctorow has a solid grip on economics, and uses games as an excellent way to provide metaphor for how minorities are exploited by big business. STATS could have been a good story if it was developed more, but as it was, I found it left a bad taste in my mouth.
19. Please Continue by Chris Kluwe - ★
I think this story wanted to be a video game-themed version of Baz Luhrmann's "Sunscreen." It did not succeed. Also, in an anthology that's supposed to be celebrating video games, it seems off-putting to have a story preaching about how harmful they are instead.
20. Creation Screen by Rhianna Pratchett - ★★★★
Another story that takes the "video games are harmful" route, but instead of condemning them, seems to suggest moderation is better. Also, she puts forth an interesting suggestion: what if our game characters could feel? I loved the descriptions in this story. I'm guessing Pratchett either played WoW or Runescape (or both) or knew someone who did, because some of the descriptions could have come right out of that game. This was fabulous.
21. The Fresh Prince of Gamma World by Austin Grossman - ★★
Another text-based game premise. This one is weird. It kind of takes a post-apocalyptic premise in text-based form, but nothing really happens.
22. Gamer's End by Yoon Ha Lee - ★
Another pun based off ENDER'S GAME? Really? This story is a bizarre mishmash of ENDER and a small-press manhwa I got from Netgalley as an arc called CORE SCRAMBLE. I thought it was boring, but I've never been a fan of military sci-fi.
23. The Clockwork Soldier by Ken Liu - ★★★★★
This story is easily the best in the entire lot, and I'm sad it's buried all the way in the back where people are less likely to read it. It's an amazing story set in a dystopian future where people are arguing about whether or not androids have rights/feelings/etc. The main advocate for android rights is actually the son of a politician who is very much against them. Advocate boy is stirring up a lot of crap and a bounty hunter, Alex, has been paid to take him out, but before she does, he manages to persuade her to play a text-based video game he's created that basically acts as his platform. It's beautifully told, and I want this to be a full length novel so, so badly. That, or a movie by Hayao Miyazaki because it has so many of those themes. THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN.
24. Killswitch by Catherynne M. Valente - ★★★★★
This is another fantastic story. It's about a creepy and obscure video game that is supposed to parallel acts of cruelty in the mining industry in Eastern Europe during the communism period. The game is full of ghosts who haunt the mines and machinery, and features two main characters: one a ghost, the other human and corporeal. It was a lot like REAL by Django Wexler, but better done.
25. Twarrior by Andy Weir - ★★★★
Hey, it's that guy who wrote THE MARTIAN! This story was very, very short (painfully short) but funny. I laughed very hard. He has a fantastic sense of humor. I only wish it were longer.
26. Select Character by Hugh Howey - ★★
This is about the wife of a man who plays video games. One day he finds out she likes one of his Grand Theft Auto-esque video games and then he's like, "OH! LET ME WATCH YOU PLAY! HOW ADOWABLE! A WOMAN PLAYING VIDEO GAMES!" It's very icky. I got really pissed off at him, especially when he started backseat gaming. DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING ANNOYING IT IS TO HAVE SOMEONE SITTING NEXT TO YOU AND TELLING YOU YOU'RE PLAYING WRONG? The ending to this story was also really weird. Even though we never really know for sure, I'm guessing it has the same twist as Micky Neilson's RECOIL! Not impressed.
PRESS START TO PLAY features some real talent, but it also features a lot of really mediocre writing. Like, OH HEY! VIDEO GAMES! DONE! I got the impression that this was sped along for publication to make sure it was released around the same time as Pixels and ARMADA. I also feel like about half the stories in this anthology should have been culled to make it tighter and more relevant. The bad stories and the stories that weren't about video games should not have been included from a reader standpoint. And some of the stories were way too similar.
A lot of graphic-novels have come out this year that really capture what it means to be a "generational" in the throes of existential angst. THE WORRIER'S GUIDE TO LIFE, POORLY DRAWN LINES, and now HEART AND BRAIN, all made me sit up and say, "Hey! I do those things! Hey! I think that way! HEY! HEY!"
HEART AND BRAIN is about the heart and brain of a blue Yeti that looks a little bit like "kitty" from Monsters Inc. Brain is the logical one who spends all his time worrying, getting stuff done, and being realistic (which means, in his terms, pessimistic). Heart, on the other hand, is carefree--to the point of utter irresponsibility--and spends all of his free time impulse shopping, binge eating, and chasing butterflies, much to brain's distress.
I love the way Heart & Brain are anthropomorphized. I liked their arguments and the fact that some of their discussions were surprisingly deep. Anyone who has ever struggled to balance responsibility with fun will "get" this book.
Plus, it has a blurb from Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) on the back!
On the other hand, he's also entered the pop lexicon of fame with such memes as "You Don't Say?" and "Nicolas Cage's Face on Things." As unpopular as people claim he is, he would not be so prevalent if people didn't find him at least a little endearing.
NATIONAL TREASURE is a mini pop-cultural treatise written by Lindsay Gibb that takes the stance that Cage is actually an unappreciated genius. His broad filmography doesn't indicate questionable taste, she claims, but an extremely creative mind that challenges itself constantly with new roles and ideas.
NATIONAL TREASURE discusses Nicolas Cage's acting methods, delves into his personality a bit, and analyzes some of his more famous movies (good & bad--but mostly good). There's also a chapter on Nicolas Cage memes, and their relevance to pop culture, and how he seems to have embraced them.
I haven't seen a lot of the movies mentioned in here, but I did enjoy Gibb's narrative. She has a compelling voice, and the way she commends Cage is inspiring. I kind of wanted to see some of these movies by the time I'd finished with the book, especially Vampire's Kiss, which sounds fascinating (and is also the movie that the You Don't Say meme came from).
Anyone who enjoys pop culture or Nicolas Cage will enjoy this book. I have to say that I'm becoming a huge fan of these Pop Classics books being put out by ECW Press. They're the movie and TV show equivalent of the popular 33⅓ Series about music and its significance to pop culture.
Sometimes in collecting, there is a force of enthusiasm that toes the line between passion and insanity. Insanity is trampling Walmart employees when you spot one of them holding the object of your desire in their hands. Insanity is spending your life savings on "collectors' items" in the hopes that they will quadruple in value over your lifetime, just in time for your retirement. Insanity is hurting yourself--or others--while questing for your collection.
The author of DOLL JUNK is an example of how to be a collector without being totally off-putting and crazy.
I loved DOLL JUNK. It reminded me of a doll-themed version of John Whitenight's UNDER GLASS (another cool art book about collectible Victorian-era paraphernalia). John Whitenight was super passionate about his collecting, and even though some of the pieces were precious enough that they were kept in museums or in private collections, some of the stuff was from his own stash.
Varricchio is enthusiastic about her knock-off Barbie collections and it shows. She provides descriptions of every outfit, bits of trivia (I wish she did this more, honestly), and every now and then exhibits some very dry wit that had me smiling to myself (I wish she'd done this more, too). I wasn't quite sure if these items were taken from Varicchio's own collection or the collections of friends. Sometimes she explicitly says that the items were difficult for her to track down, but this doesn't happen very often except in cases where the items are rare and she is expressing pride.
As it says in the title and on the cover, the focus here is on fashions and dolls from the 70s and 80s. Some of those knock-off dolls have truly frightening faces, but there were a couple that were quite pretty, as well. The same goes for fashions. Fashion dolls are interesting because in addition to reflecting the fashions of a period, they also depict an idealized fashion that encapsulates both the aspirations of and the expectations for women (example: there is now a president elect Barbie).
Because of this, I think it's difficult to say that these clothes actually reflected the time periods they were made in. Some of the outfits were truly heinous; and the effect is glorious. Loud floral and geometric dresses and pantsuits dominate the 70s line-ups, whereas in the 80s most of them look like rip-offs of Michael Jackson and Jem and the Holograms. I died when I saw that the male doll outfits of this era each had a single fashion glove in the packaging. A-hee-hee!
DOLL JUNK was near and dear to my inner-child's Barbie-loving heart. I had a lot of Barbies, and my mother really spoiled me. Every time she went to a garage sale, she would look for Barbies and Barbie accessories, and if they were in good condition and not too expensive she would usually buy them for me. In addition to the more usual Barbie canon, I also had a lot of the rip-off clothes, too, although I didn't mind them. They tended to be interesting (read: gloriously hideous/tacky).
Anyone who played with Barbies as a kid will probably be interested in this book. It doesn't just focus on American/English knock-offs, either. Germany is probably the biggest focus, surprisingly, but it also mentions Italy, Thailand, and Mexico, and a couple other countries I forgot.
Creepy dolls and hideous period fashions. It's pretty much a win/win.
Reza Farazmand has just my sense of humor--quirky, bizarre, and a little dark.
POORLY DRAWN LINES is what would happen if you crossed Gary Larson & xkcd, and then interspersed excerpts from Jack Handy.
Here's a quote:
"Son, always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I got you this confetti. And a gun" (76).
bdan2 hi :)
erica87 your profile says you're into model boats
erica87 model boats and cocaine
bdan2 "models, boats, and cocaine"
erica87 nm (169)
I've been on a streak of really bad books, and this was just the refreshing change I needed to get me off to a fresh start. I absolutely loved this to pieces. The illustrations were cute, the panels were hilarious, and the short-stories made me chuckle. Farazmand has a fantastic sense of comedic timing and is just as good as rendering the simple into the hilarious as The Oatmeal.
I don't have much money to my name, but I would consider buying this in hard copy along with Allie Brosh's HYPERBOLE AND A HALF. Brilliant artists deserve to be supported!