Man, do I ever miss Bloom County. This book, though, isn't Bloom County. It's more of a reminder of what was a "golden age" of comic strips. And by go...moreMan, do I ever miss Bloom County. This book, though, isn't Bloom County. It's more of a reminder of what was a "golden age" of comic strips. And by golden age, I mean golden age in MY lifetime. There are comics that predate me (Peanuts, etc.) that are just as legendary.
But I digress.
As a kid who never understood the joys of the sports page, I would gravitate to the comics section of the Sunday newspaper each and every week. So my childhood and teens were spent on a solid diet of Berkeley Breathed and Bill Watterson. When Bloom County ended, I had the last strip cut out of my local newspaper, mounted on poster board, and pinned it up on the wall next to my Apple IIc.
I miss Bloom County.
Opus is a Sunday only comic that ran in the new millennium while print media was slowly spiraling into oblivion. As bad as political correctness was in the nineties, the past decade has taken the American mindset to such an extreme need for sanitized entertainment that it would have been impossible for Breathed to recreate the magic of Bloom County again... but dammit, he tried.
This book just missed the mark for me, though. Aside from the obvious limitations that newspapers put on the strip (there were at least three or four strips that noted that an alternate strip was sent along with it "just in case" the newspaper opted not to run it due to it's controversial content,) there were a couple of things that the book as whole did that made it less enjoyable.
1. A Lack of Notes: In the previous Bloom County and Outland volumes, Berkley Breathed and his editor would occasionally offer pop culture insight or side stories at the bottom of random strips. That is sorely missing from this volume.
2. Cohesion in Storytelling: Breathed did this in the beginning (introduced Steve Dallas appearing along with other characters,) but later in the narrative he just gave up. Binkley just shows up... the same age. No explanation. Oliver has a cameo and, again, no explanation. I know it's just a comic strip - but this bothered me for some reason.
I enjoyed reading the book for the feeling of closure. In the end, though, "Opus" just serves as a reminder of how great Bloom County was by showing that there couldn't be a Bloom County again.(less)
Timing is everything, sometimes, and I stumbled into this book (thanks to a gift from my pal Joey Snackpants) at a perfect time.
This book is Kevin Smi...moreTiming is everything, sometimes, and I stumbled into this book (thanks to a gift from my pal Joey Snackpants) at a perfect time.
This book is Kevin Smith telling the tale of his rise as an Indie film celebristar, his time watching the "Indie" scene become less of a scene and more the commercial norm, and then his urge to buck the system and go back to doing things his way again... not for money, but for satisfaction.
"Tough Shit" proclaims something I have told friends, fans, and followers for ages: you'd don't have to be the smartest guy in the world. You just need passion and work ethic.
Kevin has both.
I highly recommend reading this book in audio book format since the man himself reads it (while stoned and recording from his home.) He adds occasional side nuggets that aren't in the book itself which makes for one hell of an entertaining listen.
I've already bought a couple copies of this book for people I work with. Why? Because I get it. I get Kevin Smith. I get what he went through and I feel his pain dealing with similar circumstances in the fan geek industry. I bought copies for some people I work with because I hope they get it, too.
P.S. The "too fat to fly" shit in this book is funny, too.
The end result has been (after being told time and time again by "Joey" and my friend Ryan to do so) that I have started listening to some of Kevin's podcasts.
So to conclude: -Good book. -I could relate. -It's a great advertising piece, too, since I am now listening to his podcast.
I got this book right around the Christmas holiday in 2011, but I never really felt up to reading it after that season ended. Enter: December of 2012...moreI got this book right around the Christmas holiday in 2011, but I never really felt up to reading it after that season ended. Enter: December of 2012 - I decided to drive to see my father for Christmas (since my wife would be out of town.) The trek to his place from mine? About six hours round trip...
Perfect for a short audio book.
Thus I stepped back into Dorsey's twisted world of Serge A. Storms and ultra-stoner Coleman. The problem is, his "twisted world" is, sadly, based on the real world of Florida. I live here and while folks outside the Sunshine State might think some of the characterizations and claimed "standard holiday news" events are extreme examples, they are (in fact) a disturbing norm thanks to our odd ball population.
The book was a short, fun romp through a holiday season in Tampa, Florida in Tim's usual style of dark humor and creative murder for the betterment of man. It's probably still a fun book to read outside Christmastime, but there's more fun in doing so when you're surrounded by plastic Santa Claus statures and palm trees. And stuff.(less)
When I was young, my mother would regularly point out that nothing is new whenever we'd watch a movie together. Everything, she'd say, is a combinatio...moreWhen I was young, my mother would regularly point out that nothing is new whenever we'd watch a movie together. Everything, she'd say, is a combination of ideas that already existed. Over time, we began to see what she meant...
and Neuromancer is a prime example.
Aside from the fame the book has for popularizing the phrase cyberspace -
NOTE: A common misconception is that this was the first work to use that word, but William Gibson used it in one of his short stories first.
- as I was saying, aside from popularizing the phrase cyberspace, Neuromancer sets the tone for a number of ideas that show up years down the road. "The Matrix." Popular hacking. Even the groundwork for what became the Internet we all know and love.
The amazing part of this novel is that it's really a fun and in depth noir style story with technical sensibilities. You have to have enough of a brain to conceptualize the activities of renegade A.I. beings in future Internet matrix which, in today's mainstream of geek culture is no longer a stretch.
Back in the early eighties, though, it was innovative.
A Neuromancer movie could be really well done in today's age of CGI and acceptance of science fiction, but (in seeing it) today's filmgoers would think it borrowed heavily from other works. In this case, though, this is egg that came before the chicken.(less)
The adventures of Serge Storms kicks off to the level I've grown accustomed to (since, you know, I'm reading them completely out of order.) This...moreZany!
The adventures of Serge Storms kicks off to the level I've grown accustomed to (since, you know, I'm reading them completely out of order.) This book in the series has all the ingredients in the usual formula: Serge pissed off, a stoner sidekick (played by Lenny - for now - since Coleman is allegedly dead,) guns, touristy locations, and standard Florida political idiocy.
I also got, from the gist of this book, that Mr. Dorsey may NOT be a fan of "Bubba the Love Sponge."
This made for another great drive-around-listen-on-audiobook adventure during my usual treks around the Sunshine State. I can't wait to read the rest of them and be caught up with the entire series so that when I finally read a new book it feels all chronological and stuff.(less)
I miss Bloom County. I recently discovered a wonderful collection of books being published that give access to the complete collection of comic strips...moreI miss Bloom County. I recently discovered a wonderful collection of books being published that give access to the complete collection of comic strips that I remember reading when newspapers were still relevant. (This is, for the record, something I wish someone would do with comic books that are worth giving a shit about.)
Outland was Berkely Breathed's return to the characters he created in Bloom County (with some random additions) that allowed him to write the same stuff but only on Sundays.
Bill's there. Opus is there. Even Steve Dallas eventually appears... and (in the end) [SPOILER ALERT] turns out to be gay.
I loved reading Outland and I look forward to the Opus collection that comes afterwards. If I had to give any sort of criticism, though, it would be this: consistency. The strip started trying NOT to be Bloom County 2.0 by throwing in characters like Ronald-Ann (who was introduced in Bloom County as a set up for Outland) and Mortimer Mouse. By halfway through the collection, though, they (and others) had all but disappeared and were replaced by Bloom County favorites that had resurfaced.
I didn't mind the return of the B.C. characters, but the phasing out of the other characters just seemed unceremonious.
(Something I have been accused of on more than one occasion.)
The fact is, many "great men" in history are recogni...moreSteve Jobs, it seems, was an asshole.
(Something I have been accused of on more than one occasion.)
The fact is, many "great men" in history are recognized more for their caricatures than their true personalities. Society tends to forget the everyone, even celebrities, are flawed human beings regardless of how the world at large perceives them.
I've been on a kick in the past year for reading books about (and by) people who have created and run successful businesses. This is partly out of personal interest, but also because my own "hobby" seems to be pretending, against all semblance of logic, to be a "business."
Let's talk about Steve and Fruit Computers, though.
I was already a fan of the made for TV movie The Pirates of Silicon Valley long before picking up this book, so my familiarity with some of the folklore ("Well, Steve, I think there's more than one way of looking at it. I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it." - etc.) was already pretty established.
What I didn't know was the details and (if you'll allow the cliche) we all know that's where the devil is. Walter Isaacson did a great job of walking the balance of telling the story of a man who had already reached celebrity of an almost cult status without completely drinking the Kool-Aid. He showed Steve for all his mistakes and glorious accomplishments in a even flowing and well organized tale.
In the end, Steve's vision of creating the "ultimate user experience" reminded me of conversations I have about how my team and I design our fan conventions. (We tend to use the word "experience" a lot, too.) Thus, my curiosity was piqued regarding Apple computers after reading this book. My last Apple "experience" was in the late 1980s and involved the only Apple computer I ever owned: The Apple IIc.
The IIc was was my introduction into the world of computers. We didn't have fancy schmancy stuff like "graphical user interfaces" and "mice." You would spend hours typing in code on a monochrome screen with a flashing cursor and THAT is how you made shit happen. Many an "A" in school was earned because my book reports looked better since they were typed instead of hand written. My Apple IIc and a dot matrix printer made me THE nerd at my school. (Pocket protector not included.)
Since those glory days of being a would-be middle school hacker, I have evolved into a Windows user. I started with 3.11 and pretty much never looked back. I've installed Windows on floppies, CDs, DVDs, and who the hell knows how I'm going to get Windows 8 on my desktop later this year. Needless to say, I skipped the whole Macintosh period of personal computing over the previous two decades.
A couple of months ago, Apple announced their new model year computers which meant (like cars) the old versions would soon drop in price. With all my recent travelling via airplane, I began to toy with the idea of partaking in the "Apple experience" via a MacBook Air 11-inch.
It's been a month since then and I've learned the joys of personal computing made simple. It's not perfect, but it ONE THING that I haven't really had in computing since the days of coding BASIC on a double sided 5 1⁄4 inch floppy...
In late elementary school and middle school I suffered from an overabundance of intelligence made worse by my insatiable addiction to reading. Unlike...moreIn late elementary school and middle school I suffered from an overabundance of intelligence made worse by my insatiable addiction to reading. Unlike most of my peers in the geek industry, I wasn't really into comic books. I read some Star Wars (because it was STAR WARS) and the occasional limited series (like Transformers, which after the limited series, was NOT a limited series.) I read books without pictures... with two notable exceptions:
Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes.
Over the past few months I read all five volumes of "The Bloom County Library." Doing so was amazing for two reasons:
1. NOSTALGIA. Before the Internet, pop culture existed in print. Bloom County reflected the world of celebrity, technology, commercialism, and politics similar to the snark of today's websites and memes. It was intelligent, funny, and you can't go wrong with seeing the world through the eyes of a hypersensitive penguin. My favorite? The adventures of hacker and online pirate Oliver wreaking havoc via a dial up model on a monochrome monitor.
2. COMMENTARY. Berkeley Breathed took the time to add anecdotes on various comics in the library. Some of them have to do with eighties pop culture. Others have to do with his processes as a writer and artist and his dealings with the newspaper industry.
Watching old movies brings back memories. Reading something as insightful as Bloom County brings back more than just the memories; it immerses you in an era.
I am glad I own these because I *will* read them again.(less)
Remember the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Great flick.
This book is to gamers and geeks what Roger Rabbit was to animation and cartoons. While the bo...moreRemember the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Great flick.
This book is to gamers and geeks what Roger Rabbit was to animation and cartoons. While the book relies heavily on eighties pop culture, the core of the story rests solidly in the hearts and minds of thirty-plus year olds who remember the beginning of the electronic gaming age and continue (to this day) to enjoy the lifestyle.
It's a geekgasm read - pure an simple.
The charm of Ernest Cline's books isn't just the fact that it's written to a very specific demographic, but that it plays to that demographic without pandering to it. There are a number of mentions in pop culture that are thrown in with the expectation that the reader already knows the source. Each item mentioned in passing doesn't need a paragraph to explain the source... the story just cites (occasionally) the source and moves on. This helps with the pacing of the story immensely.
Ready Player One swims in a pool of obscurity for the single purpose of professing the awesomeness of geek culture: from Advanced Dungeon & Dragons to Zork. From Apple computers of yesteryear to World of Warcraft. Star Wars. Atari. Knight Rider. Firefly. Voltron. The list goes on.
My one wish? For an online resource to exist with a complete list of EVERYTHING referenced in the book.
This weekend, I will be home bound after oral surgery. One of my planned time killers (thanks to this book) is to plug in my old Atari 2600 and find the classic Adventure Easter egg - something I never pulled off in my childhood.
Then maybe I'll waste some time on a few other cartridges while it's plugged in.
This is a MUST READ for 99% of my friends. Seriously. Stop reading my review and get the damn book already.(less)
Short version: Good book, but I think I preferred 1984.
Longer version: Reading books that aimed to predict the evolution of society in present day are...moreShort version: Good book, but I think I preferred 1984.
Longer version: Reading books that aimed to predict the evolution of society in present day are always a treat... especially when they hit close to the mark. 1984 hits closer to home for me than Brave New World primarily for the Newspeak concept and how quickly I apply it to the degradation of language thanks to the Internet. That's not to say that BNW isn't a great book - just my preference.
The idea of a drug induced society staying hopped up on Soma does present a fairly accurate image of today's society concepts, though. Instead of drugs, the modern world plays into constantly attempting happiness through artificial means (like video games) instead of actual real world accomplishments.