So there's an awful lot of Deadpool cosplay at cons I go to. Read this to try to sue out why. It was hilarious. Especially when Deadpool was fighting...moreSo there's an awful lot of Deadpool cosplay at cons I go to. Read this to try to sue out why. It was hilarious. Especially when Deadpool was fighting Antman (You shot where?). And Tiger Shark (who is not good with a machete) or Norman Osborn.
Laugh out loud funny. Still not sure whey there's so much Deadpool cosplay. Let alone why someone thought Ryan Reynolds should play him; he needs someone who can convincingly play a slightly sociopathic punk with the attention span of a gnat. But I can see liking this guy. (less)
I, like so many of our brothers and sisters, read this book because of that infamous Fox News interview. It is a good bus book. A very readable synthe...moreI, like so many of our brothers and sisters, read this book because of that infamous Fox News interview. It is a good bus book. A very readable synthesis of scholarship on the historical Jesus and what life would have been like in the shadow of Rome and the coming destruction of the temple. Aslan does an especially nice job of charting some of the interpretive movement of symbols through Jesus’s time and beyond. I read the bible, once upon a time, and I know words have changed meaning since. I feel silly I didn’t hone in on how much slippage there was through the bible itself.
Or that I didn’t notice how that Stephen, who was stoned to death for blasphemy in Acts, first gets such basic things wrong as who gave Moses the Law and where Jacob was buried. Or that Deuteronomy says that anyone crucified is under God’s curse. Hurmph.
I did not know that calling Jesus “the son of Mary “ would have been fighting words at the time. That escalates to a Rorschachian “Hurm.”
That said, despite the things I did not know, there does not appear to be anything new here. Could almost be a companion piece to The Last Temptation of Christ, a movie I think about every time I watch Raimi’s Spiderman.
This book made me think of The Book of Mormon musical. (less)
A hard book to read. I want to believe in the redemptive story of America. That whatever nastiness lurks in our origins, whatever brutal things we wer...moreA hard book to read. I want to believe in the redemptive story of America. That whatever nastiness lurks in our origins, whatever brutal things we were willing to do or live with, we’re getting better. Expanding the franchise. Treating everyone as if they are more than a means to an end. Building a better world where all god’s children can live. Offering freedom and dignity to everyone. Not going into the dark. Not continuing to bridge the gap between our ideal that everyone is endowed with alienable rights (including, but not limited to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) with the fact of chattel slavery (among other things).
I know we aren’t to our redemption yet. But I want to believe we’re getting better. This book says that the old worm in the apple still gnaws. Begins with a bang:
“Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises – the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life. Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole. “Cotton’s story illustrates, in many respects, the old adage “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” In each generation, new tactics have been used for achieving the same goals – goals shared by the founding fathers. Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later, America is still not an egalitarian democracy. The arguments and rationalizations that have been trotted out in support of facial exclusion and discrimination in its various forms have changed and evolved, but the outcome has remained largely the same. An extraordinary percentage of black men in the United States are legally barred from voting today, just as they have been through most of American history. They are also subject to legalized discrimination in *2 employment, housing, education, public benefits, and jury service, just as their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents once were. “What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than with the language we use to justify it.” (1-2).
Prof. Alexander never suggests it’s intentional, at least outside of the offices of political strategists. But she goes through the “law and order” response to the civil rights movement; President Reagan’s promise to use the apparatus of the federal government to fight street crime (not, traditionally, what it was there for); the drug war (especially the racially disparate way it is waged); felon disenfranchisement, voter ID laws, the United States Supreme Court’s increasing willingness to dismiss clear racist impacts unless they are coupled clear evidence of racist intent, and the idea, so brilliantly satirized by Stephen Colbert, that colorblindness is some sort of virtue. As Nietzsche said, or at least is said to have said, there is no immaculate perception, and if you believe you have it, you’re just blind to your own biases. As legally acceptable discrimination based on race has faded, she says (and I think she is right) structural racism slips in to justify the maintenance of the time-honored hierarchies. Every piece of the structure, by itself, can be justified or over come, but taken together, they’re a cage.
Hard book to read. There is no piece of it I have not heard and only one (her suggestion that people of color who overcome the structural impediments and achieve prominence in the various halls of power is part of the birdcage) that I have not worried about. But bringing it all together, and showing how my professional has been part and parcel of it all is . . . hard.
Great repurposing of a text. This Captain Marvel is not a damsel in distress. Though, I’m getting from the summary in the back, she often has been. Sh...moreGreat repurposing of a text. This Captain Marvel is not a damsel in distress. Though, I’m getting from the summary in the back, she often has been. She is a woman who was transformed by will, desire, and alien technology, into something astonishingly powerful. And now she goes back in time and makes the world just a little better. Or, at least, just a little less conquered by the Kree.
I saw DeConnick at Girl Geek Con a few weeks ago, and she commented that she made a mistake. Once upon a time, she dismissed the possibility of making one of the WWII era fighter pilots African American because that historically inaccurate. Since, she’s noted all the other historical inaccuracies in this work and others and has come out feeling pretty ookie about it. I need to think more about these things.
Modern mythology. With a sense of humor. Worth the time. (less)
Gripping. I teared up many times. Cooper has been a master of her craft as long as I can remember and has not lost a step. This story, about the tangl...moreGripping. I teared up many times. Cooper has been a master of her craft as long as I can remember and has not lost a step. This story, about the tangled, competing roots of America will haunt me for a long time.
That said, it made me itchy, the way many of the books we read in my reading group make me itchy. It reminds me of the books we’ve read where some White Lady Point of View Character introduces us, ala Orson Wells in the Americanized version of the first Godzilla, to The Other. And it always makes me skeptical about what the helpful POV character tells me.
Even though our POV characters were not random white women inserted into other people’s stories. Not as such.
My jurisprudence professor, Sid DeLong, observed once upon a time that every nation, every sect was built on some sort of betrayal of its predecessors. Since I’ve left the warm and loving arms of law school, I have found much evidence supporting that hypothesis, though I cannot say I have accumulated enough evidence to judge it. This book is a loving exploration of that principle.
The last scene . . . man. I’m not sure if it was satisfying or schmaltzy. What goes around comes around, transformed, until it doesn’t. Endings are hard.
Makes me want to read her Dark Is Rising series again. Or maybe watch Farscape. (less)
Read this on the bus on the way to work. I work in a marble building. And now all the marble looks like it’s got roots, and tendrils, and eyes, and te...moreRead this on the bus on the way to work. I work in a marble building. And now all the marble looks like it’s got roots, and tendrils, and eyes, and teeth. Beautiful and disorienting. (less)
A terrifyingly hopeful, gripping, infuriating dystopian novel of the present. DHS, the police, and the private contractors plundering the publi...moreOMFSM.
A terrifyingly hopeful, gripping, infuriating dystopian novel of the present. DHS, the police, and the private contractors plundering the public fisc vs. the hackerspace, the whistle blower, the occupier, the revolutionary. Because of the intercession of a turncoat DHS agent and (probably) Anonymous, our hero lives to fight another day. But one without a lot of optimism about the way the future plays out.
Having Aaron Swartz do one of the afterwords brought tears to my eyes. And to have Swartz say, definitively, "This stuff is real," all the ways the powers that be abuse their authority to leverage value out of society, frell the cost, is frelling . . . haunting. Not surprising. I've had occasion to read some seized email over the years. But hella disappointing. He knows “It’s easy to feel like you’re powerless, like there’s nothing you an do to slow down or stop ‘the system.’ Like all the calls are made by shadowy and powerful forces far outside your control. I feel that way too, sometimes. But it just isn’t true.” He gives us his email and says to let us know if he can help. And now he’s gone. That poor kid. Sacrificed on the altar of intellectual property.
Having Wil Wheaton and John Perry Barlow --both men I've talked to, both on twitter, one in person-- as characters initially felt sentimental and metatextual. But after the afterward by Aaron Swartz, it's just . . . almost too personal.
I work for the government. Not THAT government, but a government. I wanted to do work that mattered. We make hard decisions that sometimes have collateral consequences. I know I regret them. If Doctorow and Swartz are right, despite all my good intentions, I'm still part of the problem.
There are things we do, and things that are done in our name, that we should be deeply ashamed of and should just stop doing. Doctorow jumps ahead of the Harm Reduction argument with is condemnation of "it's complicated. And maybe he's right. "It's complicated" has justified a lot of pain inflicted on others.
. . . but because of TOR and anonymized, feminist writers I follow on twitter were unable to track down who made rape and murder threats against them. It is complicated.
It’s not a perfect book. The deal the not-President Obama stand in makes to save our hero doesn’t make a lot of sense (though maybe that’s what Doctorow thinks of all the deals we make that impose costs on others); the prose falters from time to time; our heroes have the right tools in their bags of holding a few too many times. But it’s a very good book.
Bleah. If I read this text again, I might have something more cogent to say about it. But in the interim --
Bat-Infused. Seven main characters, and they’re all aspects of Batman. One’s even married to “Talia.”
The prose in the beginning sparkles. Viz: “A 911...moreBat-Infused. Seven main characters, and they’re all aspects of Batman. One’s even married to “Talia.”
The prose in the beginning sparkles. Viz: “A 911 call is the pain signal that takes a relative age to travel from the dinosaur’s tail to its brain. The lumbering thunder lizard of the NYPD informational mesh doesn’t even see the swift, highly evolved mammals of phone data, wi-fi, and financial-sector communications that dart around the territory of the 1st Precinct under its feet.” Or “Things glinted in the dark, as if he were shining the flashlight into the teeth of an animal deep in a cave.”
At the beginning, it’s promisingly epic. A mystical hunter has been killing people undetected for 20 years in Gotham – err, New York. A detective stumbles on the room where he keeps the guns, each used exactly once, then put lovingly on a wall in a pattern. As it unspools, the prose, and the ultimate resolution is prosaic. Human greed, and hubris, and willingness to use other people as a means to an end.
Again, that might be a comment on the Batman.
Great bus book. Wee bit worried about the blurb that called it sexy. (less)
A lovely story about stories. And a lovely story. Our hero goes on a mission to bring back milk for his children’s breakfast (and his own tea), and on...moreA lovely story about stories. And a lovely story. Our hero goes on a mission to bring back milk for his children’s breakfast (and his own tea), and on the way back has adventures with aliens, pirates, a scientist stegosaurus with a time machine, vampires, an ancient god, sharks, the galactic police, rampant consumerism, and three dwarfs. As you do. Prophecies are made and fulfilled; narrative causality is created; and along the way, the tropes of fantasy are lovingly set up and lovingly taken down. Fine work. (less)
It was lovely, and visually very much a tribute to The Watchmen. The Ozymandias section had some good story touches too. After the first time Ozymandi...moreIt was lovely, and visually very much a tribute to The Watchmen. The Ozymandias section had some good story touches too. After the first time Ozymandias and the Comedian tussle, Ozymandias muses “Then, I, too, walked off into the night, wondering what sort of government would employ someone like the Comedian in the first place.” Yeah. Good question, also-walks-into-night-boy.
Not long after, Adrian Veidt was invited to JFK’s inauguration, and hears him say “The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” This could have been in The Watchmen itself. Moments later, Veidt recognizes the Comedian, who, it seems, is on a first name basis with JFK. What sort of government indeed.
Definitely puts a bow on the idea that the Comedian got the joke. One midnight swim in Central American waters, and he might have prevented the prevention of nuclear war.
The Crimson Corsair portion was also lovingly colored. Felt a lot like H. Rider Haggard meets Lovecraft, with all the uncomfortable racial subtext that implies.
Like The Minutemen, not a dense text. Gets closer an exploration of the moral questions, but so relentlessly from the point of view of the apollonian narcissist it can’t help to lack the density of the canonical text. Not worth getting eaten by a giant snake god for, but entertaining enough. (less)
This book is accurately described by its subtitle. It mostly contains quirky little stories of justices being characters. It did get up my nose almost...moreThis book is accurately described by its subtitle. It mostly contains quirky little stories of justices being characters. It did get up my nose almost immediately. Justice O’Connor quotes with approval Justice Harlan’s famous line from his scathing dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, dissenting from the court’s approval of separate but equal. “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.” (30-31). John Carlson quoted that at my law school campaigning for Initiative 200. All due praise to Justice Harlan for dissenting from that heartbreaking opinion.
But Justice Harlan goes on to say “The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty.” 163 U. S. 537, 559 (1896). And like I said to Carlson then after I quoted the passage (to some intense looks from some of my African American classmates, but hey, I had the book right there) and like I would say to Justice Roberts now, had I the chance – the problem with the “colorblind constitution” is that it ignores history. It ignores how the legally enshrined caste system of the past still echoes through us now.
So that put me in a bad mood. Still. Learned some good things from this book, viz:
*The first Court Reporter, Alexander James Dallas, just showed up one day in 1791 and appointed himself to the job. (55). Gives me a lot more sympathy for the line in Eire that there is no such thing as United States common law!
*Since 1972, each newly appointed justice is allowed to sit, briefly, in Chief Justice John Marshall’s chair. (109). Swoon.
*When Prince Philip met Justice Marshall in 1963, he asked Marshall “’And what do you do?’ Justice Marshall responded that he was a lawyer. Prince Philip mumbled, ‘Hmph,’ which the Justice took as mild disapproval. Justice Marshall immediately responded, ‘Would you like to know what I think of princes?” at that witty reply, Prince Philip smiled broadly and said, ‘Not at all. Let’s go have a drink.’” (121)
*Justice William O. Douglas hired the first woman law clerk at the United States Supreme Court in 1944. After being told by his usual sources that they had no qualified candidates, “Justice Douglas wrote back to one of them and asked if they also meant that they had no qualified women for the position. It turned out that they did, but apparently it had not occurred to them to recommend one.” (157-58). My old boss Justice Tom Chambers took a writ seeking relief for wrongfully disenfranchised farm workers to Justice Douglas’s Yakima house back in the late 1960s. I’m glad to know more good things about him.
Not a deep book. Doesn’t deserve the title. But had some good tidbits. (less)
I might have been a LITTLE afraid I was going to be eaten by a snake god if I checked this out from the library. Thus far; no avenging snake god. Upda...more I might have been a LITTLE afraid I was going to be eaten by a snake god if I checked this out from the library. Thus far; no avenging snake god. Updates as they become available.
There’s a lot of love for Silhouette in this. She gets elevated above the attention seekers and paid costumed persons into someone who truly had a calling to help the helpless, and died for it. In this text, her death inspires Sally Jupiter to have one glorious moment of heroism, before she retires to a life of procrusteaning-up her daughter.
I can’t say there’s love for The Comedian, but he’s given his moments of . . . well, not grace. Of comparative beige in all the darkness. And way more interest in his daughter than I had any idea he had.
There is a great evil that Laurie Jupiter fights. Kicks its butt. That pleased me.
There is a single panel that seems utterly dedicated to Alan Moore. That pleased me.
Dan Dreiberg dog sits Hollis Mason’s dog. This pleased me a lot.
We get to see the death of Hooded Justice. I’ve always been unsettled by Hooded Justice. I appreciated his refusal to testify before HUAC or take the loyalty oath, and yet . . . well, as Hollis says, “What kind of stupid shit fight crimes with a noose around his neck?” What sort of hero dresses like a member of the Klan with a color sense? I want to believe he was African American as well as gay (this text fully embraces the latter), making the costume a dramatic reclaiming. This text does not satisfy that desire.
Most of this feels very much like loving fan fiction. There’s none of the moral scope of The Watchmen, none of the driving horrific purpose underlying that text. We get to see the moral failure of the first superheroes, and the text seems determined to make sure we know they are Just Folks. Some have moments of great heroism. Silhouette and her girlfriend are more heroic than I knew; Bluecoat and Scout more heroic than we deserve; Laurie Jupiter teeters right on the edge of greatness. But Hollis’s greatest moment is showing mercy, and worst is . . . well, that would be a spoiler.
The Watchmen is a dense, rich text. It is, at the deepest level I’ve penetrated, about the possible moral responses to living in the shadow of nuclear war. This, a loving homage, but without the density, the richness, nor the stakes. Not worth being eaten by a snake god, but I did enjoy the field trip to the shallow waters of The Watchmen’s universe. (less)