Sunday, June 30, 2013

Half-price review: Space Dog

So, every so often I pick up graphic novels that catch my eye at the local half-price book store.

Space Dog by Hendrik Dorgathen. Published by  Gingko Press 2009; originally published 1993.

Part road movie, part sci-fi story, and part period piece, with just a little Flowers for Algernon thrown in, Space Dog is the picaresque tale of a little red puppy who leaves the farm to become a street hound, a jazz mascot, an astronaut, a global celebrity, and a contented family man - er, dog.

German illustrator Hendrik Dorgathen has crafted a wordless book. Most of the plot and character interactions are conveyed through strictly visual means, and the occasional 'word' balloons contain only symbols or pictograms to carry the ideas. Even diegetic text is obscured or incomplete in some way. Since the story is told mostly from the point-of-view of a dog, the device is inclined work in the first place (see Fraction and Aja's recent Hawkeye issue), and Dorgathen handles it so well that it eventually goes almost unnoticed - even when the characters are talking about talking, as the titular hero gains the power of speech.

In the absence of any words, the pictures of course have to carry all the weight of the narrative, and they do not fail. Dorgathen's illustrations are coarse and angular, almost like woodcuts with a hint of Crumb, but carry an enormous amount of detail. What carries the book over the top is the coloring: the book is filled with bright, full, saturated colors that can evoke a Harlem nightspot, a NASA lab, and a flying saucer with all the promise of plastic in 1950s America (© Tupperware). It is a visual delight, with one particularly stunning and effective two-page spread about 3/4 of the way through.

The story also succeeds, though perhaps not as well as the visuals. There is enough in details of the plot, the personalities of the supporting characters, and some throwaway bits to keep the narrative from becoming too formulaic, but the ending made me feel as if there were a page or two missing from the book. It wasn't exactly unresolved, but the coda needed a bit more to it.

For a formalist study of how comics work, it is fertile ground for inquiry or analysis. As a social satire on American values, it is not brilliantly insightful but does say what it says with some creativity and originality. And as the story of a red dog who has the kinds of adventures we all dream of, it worked for me. It's certainly worth picking up at half-price.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bomb Squad: Origins

So, I have already gone on record as a fan of the 2013 Disney film John Carter, which has been entered into the account books as an unmitigated bomb. I understand the numbers: if a movie costs $250 million to make, there's a chance for it to lose a lot of real money. I still dont undersatnd the critical response: it may not have been as witty as The Avengers, but it was every bit as visually appealing and engaging as Avatar or or any of the Pirates of the Caribbean entries, and those made a ton of money. But I am not going to beat that dead thoat any longer. This phenomenon, however, did get me thinking: if John Carter was a bomb, and it was actually awesome, maybe some other movies that were considered bombs are actually pretty good, too.

Here's the most recent listing of films that are the fifty biggest box-office bombs, courtesy of those crowdsource scholars at Wikipedia:

John Carter is the gold standard, coming it at the bottom of this list. I've highlighted the movies I have already seen in yellow; that leaves of lot of bomb disposal ahead. Some of them are films that I have wanted to see anyway; some are notorious; some I have never heard of. Wonder Wife has agreed to work our way through this list together, looking for diamonds amid the dross. I'll let you know how it turns out, of course.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Writing bookends

So, my regard and esteem for Lester Dent and his creation, pulp superman Doc Savage, goes without saying. He's right up there with Walter Gibson and The Shadow, and Paul Ernst and The Avenger as far as ripping yarns go. Besides being a superstar among pulp writers, Dent also left behind an instructional legacy, known variously as his Master Fiction Plot, Pulp Fiction Master Plot, or Master Plot Formula. In a compact 1400-word treatise, Dent explains "exactly where to put everything" in a 6,000 word pulp story and asserts that no story of his written to these specifications ever failed to sell. You can find the full formula online various places, such as here and here, but here's the gist:

What exquisite minimalism - what a sense of clarity and purpose.  If you were churning these out by the briefcaseful for a penny a word, that kind of focus must have helped, I am sure. In any case, it worked for Dent, and we have a great pile of adventure tales as a result.

At the other end of the scale from Dent (sideways, not upwards into literature) we find Harry Stephen Keeler, the Dickens to Dent's Hemingway.

A contemporary of Dent, Keeler was mainly a mystery writer; although he did cut his eye teeth in the pulps as a writer and editor, his novels were published by mainstream houses. But what novels they were, routinely running to 500 or more pages, with complicated, surreal plots and scores of characters, and... well, here, take a look at a sample for yourself (courtesy of the Harry Stephen Keeler Society):
For it must be remembered that at the time I knew quite nothing, naturally, concerning Milo Payne, the mysterious Cockney-talking Englishman with the checkered long-beaked Sherlockholmsian cap; nor of the latter's "Barr-Bag" which was as like my own bag as one Milwaukee wienerwurst is like another; nor of Legga, the Human Spider, with her four legs and her six arms; nor of Ichabod Chang, ex-convict, and son of Dong Chang; nor of the elusive poetess, Abigail Sprigge; nor of the Great Simon, with his 2163 pearl buttons; nor of--in short, I then knew quite nothing about anything or anybody involved in the affair of which I had now become a part, unless perchance it were my Nemesis, Sophie Kratzenschneiderw├╝mpel--or Suing Sophie!
I first encountered Keeler in Bill Prinzini's 1982 Gun in Cheek, a commentary on "alternative" mystery writers, and was captivated. His books are almost impossible to get: I can remember requesting one through interlibrary loan after I found it in the catalog of the University of Chicago library - one of my first legitimate uses of the internet ever - although web resources like the Keelerite Society are making it a bit easier. Each book is an investment, however - in time, effort, and maybe a little bit of your sanity.

Keeler called his technique of plotting webwork and like Dent, he left us the formula. Unlike Dent, his treatise The Mechanics (and Kinematics) of Web-Work Plot Construction runs to about 23,000 words. You can read the whole thing here, but let me summarize it with just the first five figures, showing the development of a simple webwork plot:

And some explanation:
Now we may, thanks to the removal of the rigid space yardstick from the vertical extent of our diagram, picture our last diagram, which showed how Dr. Phineas Tanneyday bought a $10,000 Vindelinus for a nickel, a little more completely yet, thus [Figure 5] which shows the old incident n which is vitally turning off the careers of both the Vindelinus (A) and Dr. Tanneyday (B), being itself the resultant of two incidents, n-1 in the life of the Vindelinus and n-2 in the career of the Doctor. Let us say, in fact, that n-1 was where an auctioneer, ordered to dispose, at the best price, of the books in the library of an old ex-brewer, sold the Vindelinus (with several hundred other valueless volumes) to a second-hand dealer; had he not done so, the book might have continued to A'; i. e., to have gathered dust in his mansion or even to have been taken to Europe by the old man's widow who decided to go back to Germany to live.
As for incident n-2, Dr. Tanneyday may have been told that afternoon by a friend that some Greek or Italian nickel show in the polyglot district of Halsted near Madison needed an old man to take tickets in the afternoon, for which they would pay $7 a week, and he may have been hurrying over there to get-the position instead of drowsing (B-B'), as was his wont in the afternoons, in the reading room of the Public Library.
See? It's just that simple!

One of my goals this summer is to pull off a couple of those 6,000 word stories for practice - maybe one each in the "adventure, detective, western and war-air" genres that Dent himself lists. Perhaps after warming up with those, I could tackle a web-work novel, but that might be better left for NaNoWriMo.

It should be a piece of cake: I have the recipe.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Baker's Dozen: Movie review: Man of Steel

So, with spoilers and reviews exploding all around me like flak around a B1-7, I decided to move up my viewing of the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, and Wonder Wife and I trucked up to the local cineplex for a matinee. I can't say that I went into it completely unbiased; I can say that I was more pleased than I had expected to be. I am giving a generic spoilersspoilersspoilers warning for baker's dozen that follows.

1. The performances are uniformly good. Cavill is a great in the cape and tights, Adams is a fine Lois, and Crowe in particular makes Jor-El believable as both a man and a hologram.

2. The first hour-and-a-half or two hours of the film was a pretty good science fiction movie about first contact with aliens. Stripping it completely of any Superman elements would not change this film very much.

3. I never got the connection between the Kryptonian military insurrection, the depletion of natural resources resulting in the destabilization of the planet's core, and the whole eugenics business - it seemed an awful lot to cram into the last three weeks before the world ended, and it didn't get across a sense of the end of days.

4. Much of the cinematography put me in mind of laundry detergent commercials... too much soft focus, too much just out of focus, too many lens flares.

5. I did like the non-linear structure that carried much of the narrative, and the flashing-back and forward was done well.

6. The preliminary super-heroics were pretty cool, evoking a nice Golden Age Superman vibe.

7. The battles with the Kryptonians were uneven. Sometimes I was struck by just how well the movie captured what a superhuman would look like to mortal eyes: moving too fast to follow, creating destruction with no apparent effort, a nightmare. Yet much of the Kryptonian vs Kryptonian conflict was shot in such a way that made it hard to follow.

8. I have never been one to quibble with casting that deviates from the character model in the comics. In this movie, however, with the whole mood so non-Supermanly for so long, and so many of the trappings of the Daily Planet gone (did we ever see a globe?), Perry White, Steve Lombard, and "Jenny Olsen" could have been anyone, just your generic disaster movie survivors. They could have at least put a bust of Caesar on Laurence Fishburne's desk.

9. But it wasn't even so much the minutiae that was missing: it was something in the core. Costner's Jonathan Kent seemed a little too isolationist, a little too paranoid; Clark a little too distant.

10. The movie didn't really turn into a Superman movie for me until the Superman/Zod showdown. Specifically, Zod says something about being bred and trained as a warrior and asks Kal "Where did you get your training? On a farm?" Well, the answer to that is yes, of course, and that is exactly what makes him Superman: his training was not in strategy or tactics or technique, but in strength of will and courage of heart and commitment to purpose.

11. That said, Superman's ultimate choice in that fight just told me that the writers, in the end, don't get Superman.

12. And I think that was the film's fatal failure: Superman has a rich mythology to draw upon. Choosing to let so much if it slide away may have left a decent story behind, but in the end, it was not a story that leveraged the rich themes and tropes and traditions that the Superman legend holds. It was, in the end, not a Superman story.

13. Or maybe it was. Wonder Wife remarked that it was good as a casual fan to be reminded that Superman was an alien and that his relationship with humanity would be influenced by that. So perhaps as the first movie in a series aimed at a general audience, this movie accomplished what it set out to do.

Friday, June 21, 2013

5x5 Movie review: Iron Sky

So, as far as high concepts go, "Moon Nazis" has got to be as high as they come, so it was just a matter of time, I suppose, before somebody made Iron Sky. It was, in fact, made in 2012 as an international joint venture; there seemed to be more countries and/or production companies participating in this film than were in the Coalition of the Willing. The plot, such as it is, has Nazis fleeing to the dark side of the moon in 1945 and remaining undetected for over 60 years; their invasion of Earth is made possible when they capture an American astronaut and obtain his "badass cellphone" to power the Gotterdammerung, their space battleship. As the "plot" - and I use the word loosely - unfolds, we find there are good Nazis, bad Nazis, and very bad Nazis with competing interests. Here's the rundown on this inevitable movie.

1. Awesome dieselpunk: the Nazi spacesuits and moon sidecars, big gears and levers everywhere, lots of wires and tubes, zeppelin-shaped spaceships and cool flying saucers - even the weapons are great.

2. I'm sorry, but the Sarah Plain analogue as president already seems dated; naming the American spaceship The George W. Bush might have legs a little longer, but not much.

3. The movie alludes to EC Comics, Dr. Strangelove (twice), and probably more other sources that I didn't catch. Some smart stuff.

4. The film lost me when the 'good guys' bombed women and children - the overall tone of the movie was not absurd or black-humored enough for this to fly, and it was filmed in a way that would have fit in a straight movie. Aside from being unnecessary (the movie had big enough holes in its plot to hide this situation in) it was a real false note in the mood.

5. I know this film has gotten a lot of geek love, and there's a lot to love about it, but I'm going to have to say that ultimately it does not succeed. It's not well-crafted enough to be taken seriously, even with a (for want of a better term) comic-book sensibility, and yet it is not silly, over the top, or crappy enough to be so-bad-it's-good. It did make me laugh out loud a few times, and that doesn't happen often.

I hear they're making a sequel....

Thursday, June 20, 2013

5x5 Gaming: in or out?

So, I just started DMing a new D&D campaign for some nice folks I met over the Internet on one of those meet-up sites. The groups is mostly noobs and players with little experience, which suits me fine - I think DMing for people new to the game plays to my strengths and my real-life identity as a teacher.  We've only met for a couple of sessions, but so far it's going well: the characters are beginning to gel as a party, the story seems to be unrolling apace, and the players are all having fun and laughing a lot.

We've been holding our sessions at a sci-fi-themed/geek-friendly coffeeshop just down the street from my house. This is the first time I have played for an extended period in a public place instead of at someone's home (usually mine if I am DMing). It is a comfortable place to game; we can reserve a big table for six hours, so there's no pressure as we play.

I have noticed, of course, some differences between playing at home and playing in a public venue. Here's the five by five:

1. Playing in public seems to result in better behavior and more focus on the game. There are fewer sidebar conversations and less off-topic talk. Maybe it's because we have to tune out the rest of the coffeeshop and pay close attention just to make sure we hear each other clearly, but all the players - and me as DM - seem much more centered. There appears to be less trash talk, too.

2. The reservation makes us respect the time limit. This is related a bit to number two:  knowing that the session limits are set by an outside party (the shop) takes a certain pressure off. People are less likely to be wanting to end early or extend the session late since the time limit is more formal and prescribed. As a result, game time is game time and if anyone wants to do other stuff, it happens before or after the session.

3. The DM has to transport all the game supplies, and that can be a pain. When I DM at home, I have all my minis close at hand - if the plot changes direction drastically, I can reach into the bin and pull out a troop of lizardfolk instead of using the naga I expected the party to encounter.  Now I have to bring the figures for the expected adventure, and have some generic stuff for unexpected turns of events. Besides figures, I also need to make sure I have all the paperwork, NPC info, etc. before I leave the house.

4. When we play away, everyone eats less: since there can be no outside food brought into the coffee shop, gone are the piles of chips and other snacks usually associated with a long gaming session. Everyone gets a drink and/or a bite to eat when we arrive, and another when we break at mid-point, and that's it. I actually spend less money that when I would stop at the store to get victuals for a session.

5. Playing in public might be a recruiting tool. We've already had some folks hanging about and watching the game politely; who knows whether that'll help expand or renew our ranks when needed.

I originally thought we would eventually move the game to someone's home, but they way it's working out, I am not sure that well ever feel the need.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sk8r boi + 40

So, I got started off on another summer project today. Before meeting up with some work pals at a farewell lunch, I did a deal in the parking lot of the restaurant and picked up this beauty:

You're not seeing things: that's a 43-inch semi-pintail cruiser longboard with a reproduction of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai on the bottom of the deck and, I don't know, some kind of trucks. I bought it at a decent price from a young woman named Sara who told me exactly what I wanted to hear: that it would be pretty slow and sluggish until I broke it in, since it hadn't been ridden much and was still pretty stiff. Those are precisely the characteristics I was seeking; since I have never been any kind of skateboarder ever, I wanted to find one that moves as little as possible until I develop my mad skillz, since I am slow and sluggish as well as a little stiff at times.

The board has a flashy underside but the top is very utilitarian. I went with the longboard because it seemed a less frantic version of skateboarding: I have met students who commute by longboard, and the recreational riding seems more concerned with distance than any kind of stunting. I hope to clock significant miles over the next couple months cruising on the local bike path or around the lake. Folks at lunch asked me about city riding; I thought about something else Sara said: "Don't go down any hills until you get good, because these don't stop very well." Since Seattle is mostly hills, I think the lake and the trail will be all we attempt for a long while.

I've already had my inaugural ride:

Yep, I managed to stay on the board all the way from the car to the fifth parking space over. I call that an auspicious start. Wish me luck!

I really wanted to commemorate the acquisition and end this post by embedding the titular little ditty from everyone's favorite faux-punk princess, 
but The Man won't let me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The student surpasses the (dungeon) master

So, I finished my first quarter back in the classroom after more than two years last week. Students in my College Strategies course (that's the how-to-be-a-student class) gave a final presentation: they had to represent the course content via the metaphor of a map, and produce some sort of in-character role-play to explain it. Choices student teams made included a park ranger describing a camp to visitors, a travel agent planning an around-the-world trip, and things like that. One group decided to use a D&D dungeon crawl. They rolled dice and played at moving through a session, except the monsters were all assignments and activities from the class, and ... well, take a look.

Of course I loved it. I tried not to let my bias get in the way, but it really was a well-done project no matter what. Made my day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


So, in light of my last post but one about rosy memories of a childhood spent under the threat of atomic armageddon (and because the Spectacular Sissy told me my posts were getting too long⸮), here's a simple juxtaposition for you:

Both of these items came from the family collection; I acquired them when I was back east some months ago on the occasion of the passing of my brother-in-law. If you want to know what it meant to grow up Catholic in America in the fifties and sixties, this was a big part of it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Scent of a Stan the Man

So, I stopped wearing cologne when I was nineteen, but I am almost tempted to give this a try:

Stan Lee Signature Cologne from JADS International. Available in pre-order now for delivery sometime in late summer (too late for prom!).

Or maybe I can get Wonder Wife to attempt a homebrew with her aromatherapy supplies. Let's see... the main notes are bergamot, ginger, white pepper, basil, and violet, with cedar, vetiver and musk as well. Man, even Stan's scent is overwrought! Still, how hard could it be?


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Do You Want To Play A Game?

So, I was hanging out in a Third Place - really, that's even what it's called - with a great common area that includes a cabinet of games available to play. Most of the usual suspects were present, along with a less-common specimen that caught my eye:

Yep, Nuclear War, that "fast-paced comical card game," which the back of the box informs us is the first in a series that includes Nuclear Escalation and Nuclear Proliferation!

War and Escalation have little cartoon mascots, and Proliferation looks to be chock full of goofy characters.

I was hoping to test-play the game - I mean, who wouldn't want to while away an afternoon playing a version of Monopoly spiced up with atomic death? But sadly, the box was empty; all that remained were two cards hinting at the gameplay.

If you really want to find out about this game, check out the publisher, Flying Buffalo Games. Me, I remain content with this response: after getting over my initial shock at the matter-of-factness of the game design, and reading the fine print that explains that the game was actually developed in 1965 at the height of the Cold War, I was actually overcome by a wave of nostalgia for those bygone days of fallout shelters and civil defense drills. I mean, when I was a kid, it seemed all we had to worry about was annihilation by A-Bomb and H-Bomb. Nowadays, the world seems much more complex and even scarier, what with diseases, ecological disasters, terrorism, economic meltdowns, and other threats apparently around every corner.

Maybe this game really is escapism after all.

Monday, June 10, 2013


So, here's a thing I made some years ago. It's an unabashed kiping of one of Greg Howard's Sally Forth comic strips, colorized/uglified by me in some lame program and with the words clumsily altered. Ralph and Sally are transformed into me and my assistant and the dialogue reflects the state of affairs at my job at the time.

That's the way it was at the job, and at the time I wouldn't have had it any other way. It's been a heck of a ride since then, barreling into the instructional side of higher ed and moving from writing center administrator to adjunct faculty to full-time faculty to tenured faculty to dean and now back to teaching faculty. I think I have finally learned to have a better best friend than my desk, and I am looking forward to having this summer off (or at least mostly off), and many summers to follow.

I might even make some of my own comics instead of repurposing newspaper strips.

Bonus: the original strip!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Three for the road

So, the other day I was discussing with a pal a possible purchase that I might be making for a hobby/business over the summer. I was considering this vehicle for mobile snack vending:

My pal was aghast. Betraying a complete ignorance of how my association with anything automatically makes it geekier cooler, she thought that I might somehow look foolish on a trike. I was wounded to the quick, for I have long had a partiality toward three-wheeled vehicles.

Now I admit that adult tricycles don't always have a lot of pizzazz, conjuring as they do for some (including my pal) images of assisted-living homes or special-needs clients. And I will not argue that the standard recumbent touring trike has not done much to dispel this cachet, no matter how sporty they try to make them look.

But trikes have a long, badass history, having been used for work and deliveries for many years, particularly in the Netherlands. If you laughed at this Dutch triker, he'd kick your sorry butt by just flexing one massively-muscled leg.

Or imagine encountering this beautiful pregnant woman on a freakin' diamond plate cargo trike in Amsterdam -  this is the opposite of lame.

Even the techno-greens can get behind the trike with some cool modern designs:

Which brings us to the trikes with motors. From this retro bad boy that Eliot Ness could have ridden... the latest CanAm Spyder, which looks like something RoboCop would run you down with...

... motor-trikes have a coolness all their own. And that's not even including the ones that fly!

Even three-wheeled cars are cool, in their own way. Take the Isetta, the paradigmatic underpowered exotic car.

How could you not love a car made by a refrigerator manufacturer?

And then there's Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion car, favored by Amelia Earhart and bringing the awesome since 1933:

Of course, it's not all hits. If the Dymaxion is the sublime, the ridiculous is the reliant Robin, a British car designed with three wheels only so owners could pay a lower fee. Full disclosure:  all the foregoing, while both true and timely, has just been an excuse to post what I consider one of the funniest videos I have ever seen. Top Gear, an auto show, test drives the Reliant Robin. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Doesn't suck

So, I am rejoining my old D&D party after taking a hiatus to, like, get married and change jobs and undergo a vasectomy and stuff like that. Now that I am back teaching and will have the summer free, I can jump back into gaming with both feet. I consulted with the DM, and after rolling pretty well for attributes, I decided to play a Bard. It just felt like the right thing to do: the group as it is currently constituted is pretty much a classic foursquare party: Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, and Wizard. Since the Bard has broad support as the "best fifth party member," it seemed fitting to stay with the motif.

Of course, I am sure this is what my playing group anticipates:

Fair enough - the cliche of the useless bard is a longstanding tradition in D&D. This, however, is more how I envision the character, of course:

His name is An-Dara Mac (use Google translate) and I wanted to use him to explore an idea that I have encountered somewhere: that as a consequence of primogeniture, British colonies (such as America) were explored/exploited/developed by the second sons - the firstborn remaining home to take over the estate -  and that somehow contributed to the development of our national character.

Well, that was the idea, anyway. But then in looking for suitable illustrations for this post, I encountered this guy:

Now I am thinking of how to talk my DM into letting me switch the character concept, because this is just cool.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I am Silver Age, sir. We embrace technicalities.

So, my pal Richard Bensam commented on the other story that was in the  JLA Giant that contained the story I featured two posts ago. I'd like to talk more about that second story, "Journey into the Micro-World," and not just because it features the Protectors of Starzl, my long-time favorite obscure characters, but because Richard said the story "provided a powerful metaphor of crippling self-doubt [he's] recalled more than once over the years."

Here's the set-up: The JLA is brought to the alien world of Starzl to defeat their android defense team, the Protectors, before their bad radiation destroys the Starzlians. (Big design flaw, there.) The only problem is that, as the Protectors tell it, the radiation makes them unbeatable; this seems to be the case as the JLA  gets summarily whupped on land, on the sea, and in the air. 

Then they suss it out:

How? Well, see, what the radiation does (besides eventually kill you) is make you believe whatever it is you're told. So as each hero expressed doubt about the ability of the others to succeed, they internalized that doubt, and so failed at the task. This is a paradigmatic example of the kind of silver-age puzzle-piece that made superheroes work for victory rather than merely unleash their godlike powers.

In this case, the JLA recruits their "mascot," Snapper Carr, and in some hairsplitting of rabbinical  proportions, keep him from being told that the Protectors are invulnerable and help him defeat them.

"Even though I feel Ocana is invulnerable, I can still carry Snapper toward him at top speed!" Talk about your loopholes and technicalities.

Eventually the JLA prevail and turn off the radiation, and in the denouement (as other bloggers have pointed out before me) we get a rare glimpse of some super-pride :

Nobody punks the Big Red S.

I have gone on about this admittedly minor story for so long because it turns out that Richard's comment was both timely and apt. I can trace the roots and foundations of my ethical system back to several individual comics stories - and I feel the same way about this story that Richard does. Although I read it over forty years ago, whenever I find myself or someone close to me confronted with doubt, this story will come to mind, and I will ask (more or less): Is this sense of powerlessness real, or is it ultrazone radiation? Further, even if you don't feel you can succeed, is there anything really stopping you from acting anyway? Can we keep on going and not give up?

On a walk with Wonder Wife tonight we were talking about different ways of framing problems or concerns and our responses to them. She was relating a technique she had read in something by Byron Katie and we worked with it as we walked. But I was thinking: she reads this, and Thich Nhat Hanh, and other self-improvement and spiritual guidance books to help build her compass.

Me, I read comics.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


So, it was more summery than springlike in Seattle as I went downtown to have lunch with friend today, and my sartorial choices reflected the season. This is pretty much what I looked like ambulating down the sidewalks:

 Seattle is very hilly and there are lots of city stairs.

Greenspaces and pocket parks abound, even downtown.

But traffic can be a challenge.

All images from Agents of Atlas #3

Monday, June 3, 2013


So, here's the comic story we are looking at:

And here's what Comic Vine said about it:

So I went to the copy of the story that I still have:

And, you know, they're not just whistling Dixie. Viz:


I wish that some of my students' papers were cited so well.

Friends often ask me where I accumulated so much random knowledge. This story, and others like it, are some of those places. Thanks, Mr. Fox.

The Riddle of the Robot Justice League!  
Justice League of America #13 
National Periodical Publications
Script: Gardner Fox
Pencils: Mike Sekowsky
Inks: Bernard Sachs