Archive for November, 2013

Neil-Gaiman-On-Point

Alan Moore gets almost nothing but bad reports and updates from pop culture media and blogs these days, and understandably so. Moore has done nothing but tear DC and Marvel new ones, criticizing how they treat their creators and characters. Amongst all of the hate, there seems to follow an acknowledgment, which states in one form or another – “Alan Moore did great things for comics, BUT…” I do the same thing because we all want to make sure we give credit where credit is due. We’d be remiss if we didn’t.

However, sometimes fandom can be harsh and creators have no where else to go except to those they’re closest. Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, while having never published anything together, have worked and colaborated on projects in the past. Gaiman comes out and let’s the world know Moore is the one who helped him in learning the art of comic book script writing. Alan Moore is an ass, but respect for his past and present work should still be given…

“I knew what a movie script looked like, I’d seen them. But I couldn’t get my head around what a comic script was. And eventually, a marvelous comics writer, probably the finest writer of comics there’s ever been, a man named Alan Moore just showed me how to write comics. He sat down and said, ‘Right, right now, you write Page One, Panel One. And then you say everything that is happening in that panel.’ In this case, you know, you’d say, ‘Page one, panel one, Neil Gaiman and Tom Ashbrook are sitting in a studio, there’s paper all over the desk, there are great big microphones. Neil is talking, waving his hands around, doing an impression of Alan Moore. Tom is nodding sagely.’

It’s stage directions, and it’s a letter to an artist. And then underneath, you’d write Tom: ‘It’s stage directions’; Neil: ‘It’s a letter to an artist’ and those would be what would go into the word balloons. And Neil, thought balloon: ‘I’m so glad they got me that cup of tea.’ You put everything. As far as I was concerned, and still to this day, as far as I’m concerned a comic script is a 10,000 word letter to an artist. I would always get puzzled when people would say to me, ‘So you write comics! So you write the words that go in the balloons.’ And you’re going, ‘That’s absolutely the tip of the iceberg.’ What I’m doing is building the cake, and in those words I will tell the artist everything I want to be in the panel — the size of the panel, the shape. What you’re also doing is working with some of the most creative people in the world.”

– Neil Gaiman is best known for his books American Gods, Neverwhere, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Coraline, and his graphic novel series – The Sandman

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Alan-Moore-hates-superheroes

Alan Moore is a weird man, that much has always been true. He’s also been exceptionally vocal about his dislike of the comics industry since the 90’s and continues to publicize his viewpoints in questionable ways. It’s obvious he has his own ideas about what superheroes should stand for and is unwilling to allow for change and evolution of the genre.

In an interview with the Guardian a few days ago, Moore is quoted as calling “adult” comic book fans as subnormal. Whether or not he meant this as an insult or a simple “statement of fact” is uncertain, but it’s clear he has no intention of rethinking his opinion on the current state of the superhero genre.

“I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen,” he told The Guardian. “I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations.

“They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their 9-to-13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently.

“These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not 9 to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year-old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it – they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal.

“This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”

Genres change. Sometimes for better, sometimes not so much. However I do believe that the evolution of story telling is necessary in order for new ideas to come about as well as to meet the literary needs of readers. While Alan Moore remains as one of my favorite authors, I can’t respect an opinion which hopes to keep the superhero genre stagnate and unwilling to grow into something more than what it used to be.

I hope Moore continues to pump out more LXG books as well as any more fun stories that he’s famous for producing.

Alan Moore is best known for his graphics novels, Watchmen and V for Vendetta.

Star-Wars-Deathstar-Banner

A couple of weeks ago a petition was written for the government to begin building a Death Star as a means of national defense.  While I’m sure most of us knew that it would never happen, the technology of the Star Wars universe is something fans have been dreaming of for quite some time. Enough people signed the petition to compel a government response. It looks like we’ll have to continue hoping that the construction of real life lightsabers will be in our near future.

They sure provided all of us with a very humorous title for their response. At least they have a sense of humor! Official response from the White House.

————————————————————————–

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons: 
·The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
· The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
· Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.
Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.
Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.
We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.
If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

– See more at: http://www.starwarsunderworld.com/2013/01/white-house-responds-to-death-star_11.html#sthash.QyX59uYQ.dpuf

Every once in a while I get comments that attempt at belittling me as a way of showing why my opinions are wrong. They all start the same way – an unintelligent use of swear words, name calling, followed quickly by accusing me of being jealous of whatever it is I decided to criticize through my blog. The commentor then goes into a series of random incoherent ramblings about how I’m lazy because I blog and assume that my life is unproductive, like this is all I do. (This happened way back in May of 2012 when I reviewed The Avengers. Check out the hilarity!)However I’ve decided to refrain from approving comments that aren’t that good or the ones that simply missed the point but are still looking to start an internet fight.  It just isn’t worth it.

However, just yesterday I received a notification that approval was needed for a comment to be published on my review of a recently published book, Sing For Meby Betsy Jiron. I didn’t approve the comment but decided that this was worth addressing. She basically disagreed with me on my assessment of the book and decided to voice that disagreement in a vigorous way…

Sounds like maybe you’re just a depressed sad sack of shit that had a bad day. Book reviews… Hmmm… You’re that lazy?! You downed Oprah so yeah you are gonna down an up and coming author. Jealous much?! You’re just mad that you didn’t do shit with your life and now gotta go try and make other’s feel like shit too. This book is far from predictable. And the fact that you read the whole thing has me thinking that something about it kept your attention for the entire three hours. Nobody reads an “annoyingly predictable” novel by an unknown up and coming Author. Isn’t there a book signing coming up there in Ft. Collins? Sounds more like you are jealous of the author. Did you know her or something. Looks more like you just have a personal issue with this. Hope you’re proud of that one!!! Actually… Barns and Noble only sells that book online. It’s not an in store purchase. The only bookstore in FoCo that sells Sing for Me by Betsy Jiron is Old Fire House. Where the signing is being held. I live in Oklahoma and even I know that. Come on. This book is a book of memories not a book of glittery vampire fairytales. – Red

SHEESH! What a wallop! Have you ever have nitrous oxide pumped into your mouth while in the dentist’s chair? Did you ever fall hard, ice-skating perhaps, and hit the back of your head so hard you saw stars, and you seemed to take a tiny nap before you could get up again? Did you ever come off your thoroughbred leaping over a 4 foot jump, and…again…seem to take a tiny little nap before you could actually get up? Perhaps you remember shaking off the sedative after surgery, trying to make everything stop spinning. If you’ve experienced any of these things, then you’ll know what it was like reading the above comment.

Now I’ll admit, I may have been a bit harsh, but I’d be lying if I said that the book was worth paying the 25 dollars for it. I still paid for it though, so whatever percentage goes to her for each book sold, she ha my money. But I won’t speak anymore on the book itself. If you’re interested in what I said about the book, go read my review.

You know I completely understand that reading a negative review of something you’ve created can hurt deeply. I can also understand being upset at a negative review. I’m sure if the book I’m writing ever gets published it’ll get just as much hate as it does praise, and I’m bracing for it! Even the most hate-filled reviews will be accepted as another person’s opinion and I’ll take what I can from it for any possible future projects I work on. But leaving comments which show very little sign of intelligent life are never something I’ll entertain…unless it’s worth poking fun of.

But let’s say I gave the book a glowing review – 5 stars, telling lies about how it doesn’t have grammatical errors on almost every page, is one of the most epic stories I’ve ever read, and one of the most unpredictable books written – this commenter’s tone would have changed drastically. She would have left the whole lazy part out, agreed with me, and possibly thanked me for writing a review which praised the up and coming author. But she or he didn’t. This is how children think and how unremarkable people react to things they don’t like on the internet.

Here’s the thing – books are wonderful things because all of them pluck at the heart strings differently from person to person. We all have our reasons for liking or disliking a book, and none of them are wrong or right. Not everyone loved Neil Gaiman’s “Ocean at the End of the Lane” even though it won the book of the year award for 2013. It’s completely understandable, it just isn’t for everyone, much like“Sing for Me” just wasn’t for me.

Now here’s the important issue…Amazing authors get bad mouthed all the time! Neil Gaiman is one of most acclaimed authors right now and he still gets hate from people all around.  Take a look…

ocean at the end of the lane reviews

Great books are always going to have it’s haters, and thanks to the internet, being an A-hole is that much easier! These readers clearly don’t agree with the glowing reviews “Ocean” received and therefore slash it to pieces. A side note – these four above reviews are some of the more modest ones of the book that I could find. It’s going to happen no matter what. If “Sing For Me” actually starts getting noticed on a much bigger scale, Jiron had better watch out because her book is going to be ripped a new one.

I think the best thing the above commenter can do is continue to support her friend and promote the book as a great piece of literature and ignore my thoughts and opinions because, clearly, we have a difference of opinion on what makes a good book. So, my dear commenter known as Red, I understand your frustration as a reader since you probably loved the book and felt personally attacked by me (for some strange reason) but I hope you realize that, despite your hard efforts in using some semblance of a coherent argument, you didn’t accomplish much.

Sing For Me Betsy JironWritten by Betsy Jiron
Published by Zaloli Media Entertainment

Secrets Untold… Family secrets of sexual abuse and betrayal torment and destroy the innocence of a teenage girl. Darkness prevails as the animosity and violence erupts within her battered soul. While battling her own demons, can this single mother bury the pain of her own life to raise her children? Will she overcome recurring nightmares of rape and bloodshed? Will the fight to remain among the living, be stronger than her eternal desire to die? Walk through hell with, Elizabeth Trujillo, as she faces the most unspeakable scenarios of torment, and see if young, Elizabeth, can survive…

Does this sound like something Oprah Winfrey would put on her book endorsements list? Not to imply that Oprah’s long list of book recommendations are necessarily bad, but there’s definitely a trend in what she qualifies as “top notch” reading material.

In the last week of October I went to the Barnes and Noble here in Fort Collins and saw a book by a local author, Betsy Jiron, in the Mystery section. I love supporting new and upcoming novelists so I figured, why not? I grabbed the only copy of the book on shelf, made the purchase, and came back home to quickly begin reading. It was interesting because apparently the B&N in Fort Collins was only selling this as a special order per customer and wasn’t being displayed on the bookshelves…except for one. Lucky me, right?

To preface, when I read the first book in the Twilight series thought to myself, “Self, you’re going to have to try REALLY hard to find a novel that’s WORSE than this one.”  The one good thing Twilight had going for it was Stephanie Meyer’s creative mind. While the execution of Twilight was atrocious, it was no doubt a creative concept.

I’m sorry to say, Sing For Me has proven itself to be worse than Twilight, making it the worst novel I’ve ever read. Why is Jiron in a worse position then Meyer? It’s because there’s nothing compelling in the book what-so-ever. It’s an inconsistent mesh of random incoherent jargon that would be better served  in the hands of a competent editor.

It’s not an unfamiliar story – a girl grows up surrounded by sexually abusive and violent people, and her life is met with screwed up ins and outs. The pattern the story takes is annoyingly predictable with no redeemable qualities. The main character (named Elizabeth)  meets a boy, and he’s just what she needs. But he turns out for the worse. After realizing she needed to get out of that relationship, she places herself in much more promising conditions. Then she meets another guy, and he was everything she needed…but then he turned out for the worse.

And that vicious cycle continues until the book is done.

One of the most perplexing pieces of this novel is found in one paragraph half way through. It describes the most ideal situation that would have made life for her and her son exceptionally better. However, it doesn’t matter how terrible her previous three relationships were, apparently good men aren’t “her type.”

Yeah, this is depressing

I sympathize with anyone who has to go through such terrible things, but I’m not sure what goes through people’s heads when they reject something that will make their lives, and the lives of those most important to them, infinitely better.  Whether or not this story is based on the author’s personal life, completely made up, or a combination of both, is unclear. However, it’s still bad writing. It makes me wonder who IS her type.

not my type

The book feels rushed. My mind began jumping hoops from one scenario to the next at 100 miles per hour. There was no clear connection of events and everything seemed to be one enormous hodge podge of violence and sexual abuse. By the book’s end, no one had learned anything and there was no hope to be found anywhere except in dismissed patches. (see image of excerpt above) Despite all of the bad relationships and memories, the story’s main character claims she also had an equal amount of good memories and relationships at the end. Any reader can come to this conclusion easily enough, but this hit me abruptly and without reason. It comes off as a protagonist simply wanting to tell her story for the sake of doing so.  “Look at everything I had to go through! It sucks!” and that’s really all the novel does, and somehow Jiron squeezed what she learned from the trials and tribulations in that last chapter.

Why is this inconsistent? Because she never accepted the people who were GOOD to her. How can she appreciate the good people in her life if she continually shut them out? (tangent done)

Amongst all of the random incoherence of the story, the experience is worsened by the lack of editing. The improper use of punctuation and lack of spell checking is horrid. Whoever Jiron hired to assist in the editing process should be punched in the face. It’s filled with jarring grammatical inconsistencies and spelling errors. It gets so bad that half way through I put the book down and asked myself how this book could have ever been considered for publishing.

"Through the corner of my eye, I SAY Matt's car."

As a reader I can forgive a few misspellings from a published work here and there. Even with books by my favorite authors, things are overlooked. It happens! It never detracts from the overall enjoyment of the story, however.  With Sing For Me it’s hard to get through one paragraph without finding something poorly written or unedited.

"What did ad done to her"

I don’t like saying bad things about books. I can usually find SOMETHING redeeming about any novel I’ve ever read. However, with only three chapters remaining, I found myself unable to finish the book. I couldn’t take it any longer. There are better stories I can feed my literary needs with.  Sing for me has no idea what it’s trying to convey, pushes through the story was to quickly, and needs an editor badly! It’s fan fiction at its worst.

I need some Mary Doria Russell in my life. Onto The Sparrow!

1 out of 5 stars