Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Best and Worst Books From These Writers (Part 1)

1.       Herzog v The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

Best: Herzog is a poignant and intricate study of ideas, emotions, and the importance that people attach to them.

Worst: Augie March is just the back and forth of people deciding not to become consummate followers, only to become and remain consummate followers of others.

      2.       Great Expectations v Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Best: Great Expectations starts off in such an amazing way that I do not believe any other author has managed to impress their audience as much as Dickens has. The story leaves hooked from beginning to end and reaches surprising conclusions.

Worst: Bleak House doesn’t even begin in terms of plot until 250 pages in. Until then the reader is treated to fluff, inane events that have no bearings on the plot, and pure unadulterated boredom.

      3.       One Hundred Years of Solitude v Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Best: One Hundred Years of Solitude is a beautiful story of a hispanic family living in seclusion for a hundred years before the revolutuion has the village making contact with the world. It starts off as almost fantasy, but reality soon starts to intrude leaving the reader less than impressed with what impressions the modern world has to offer.

Worst: Love in the Time of Cholera: Eggplants.

Note: The cussing parrot was the true star of the novel.

     4.       Anna Karenina v The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy

Best: Kreutzer Sonata has you wondering at the psychological state of a man who has been pushed to the edge and fallen.

Worst: Anna Karenina is just rich people pretending that they actually have problems in their lives.

      5.       Fahrenheit 451 v Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Best: Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian world where reading is illegal and technology has become a life line to the masses. The novel reveals the downfalls of modern technology compared to the simple pleasures of reading.

Worst: Dandelion Wine is just an autobiography from when the author was young.

Spoiler Alert:

He leads a boring life.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Savages Read Phillip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?



This is the book that the 'Blade Runner' movie was based on, and after reading it and then watching the movie I can say that they share a lot of elements but are also completely dissimilar.

The book and the movie were frankly mediocre.

A lot of stuff did not make sense whatsoever and a lot of interesting stuff could have been expanded on but never were.

I really would have liked to see how Mercer religion came about and under what circumstances for it to replace the other notable religions in this post-apocalyptic world.

I would have also liked to see how the androids were manufactured.

In the book it was insinuated that both the androids and humans were so damn similar that one has to have bone marrow tested to tell the difference between the two. That is a very important fact in the book that is never focused on. Does this mean that androids are actually cyborgs composed of biological components as opposed of metal and plastic?

We never know.

Some things were eluded to, but never explained.

There was also the fact that after Isidore connects with the empathy box Mercer, a hologram that can be seen in one's mind, appears before him and gives him a mechanical spider.

How did this happen?

How did Mercer appear there? How did he know to get a synthetic spider to replace the one the android killed?

So many things are never explained.

Then there's the obvious stuff that the humans did not seem capable of deducing by themselves; as with the case of Buster Friendly.

He runs a TV shows that is constantly broadcasting around the clock with very few intervals for rest.

No human is capable of working around the clock like that, so obviously Buster has to be an androids, right?

Simple.

But somehow the humans did not seem capable of making the logical leap.

This book was mediocre and I don't really think I can recommend it to anyone. It's mostly about what distinguishes reality from the fake and the ideals that humans employ to set themselves apart from the androids.

It does deliver in that respect, but fails in many other things.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

5 Types of Toxic Friends



Toxic friends are friends that you may have really started off as true confidants only to later reveal a darker side where they hold you back in life or suck all the joy from your existence.

You know the type.

They're the kind when their names pop on the phone you don't answer and pretend to be busy when they want to hang out.

They come in many shapes and forms, but the most familiar are these five types. 

1. The Victim

Most of us must have come across them at one point or another. They're the type that has a 'poor me' attitude and who see that the world is out to get them.

Their paranoia and penchant for self-pity leaves you feeling miserable and tired, which is exactly what friends shouldn't do, not get caught in a spiral of helplessness and self-pity.

It is true that all of us will go through difficult times and no one is the exception, but we must move or or at least try and improve our situations.

The Victims do not do that. They like their problems, and like to wallow in self-pity.

2. The Emotional Manipulator

This person will guilt trip you like your mom after a long hiatus of not seeing one another.

If they text you and you take a bit of time to text them back they will reply with 'why are you avoiding me?', 'guess I'll just wait for you all alone', 'You're trying to ignore me. I get it. Sorry for trying to trust you', and on and on and on.

3. The Controller

They seek to control any aspect of your life if you let them.

It could be your time, looks, beliefs, job, or even romantic interests.

The reason they do this type of thing might stem from the fact that they are so helpless and impotent in their own lives that they try to control yours.

If you get a hair cut or get new clothes their reply would be 'how could you change something about yourself without consulting me first?!'.

4. The Criticizer

This person just has to have an opinion on everything and God help you if you disagree with them.

It is their way that right and no one else.

Should you express any opinion about any subject they're ready to put you down or your beliefs and substantiate it with their own views.

5. The Negative Nancy

Everyone goes through shit that may make them spin a negative angle on somethings for a while, but the Negative Nancy takes it to a whole new level.

It's like their button has been set for negative and never turned off.

They see a negative side to anything.

If you move to a cheaper but more convenient apartment they'll say that something must be wrong with it.

If you get that promotion at work, they'll add in that that just means more responsibility.

If you buy a new car, they will probably tell it that it'll be stolen now that you've moved into an unfamiliar neighborhood.

These types of friends are toxic to you and the people around you and it would be best to wither cut ties with them or limit your exposure to them as much as possible.

Friday, April 15, 2016

More Books

I got another chance to get some more books

I didn't get a chance to buy as much as previous times since I'd pretty much drained the book shop of all the good stuff, but I got a pretty decent collection.

1. A Suitable By by Vikram Seth

It's a whopping 1474 pages and I can't wait to dive right in.



2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith



3. The Living is Easy by Dorothy West



4. Libra by Don Delillo



5. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden




Enigma (Vertigo Comics)



Enigma is probably the weirdest but most interesting comic you'll ever come across.

The story takes place in San Francisco and revolves around Michael Smith, an average guy who's leading an average existence, when all of a sudden bizarre murders start happening.

The murders do not pertain to him at first, but Michael feels somehow connected to them, especially to the vigilante known as Enigma. After an incident in which he himself is almost killed he suddenly realizes that the vigilante and the killers were all actually fictional characters from his childhood comic book by the same name, 'Enigma'.

What follows is a weird journey of self discovery, mystery, mysticism, and nihilism.

Enigma himself is a world unto himself of philosophy, conflict, and the human question. What crops up in questions may receive an answer, but ultimately remain open to interpretation for the reader to decide for themselves.

It is a microcosm compressed to fit the macrocosm in individualized experiences and lives.

I think some people might call it meta-textual.

The art style the comic adopts serves the underlying themes of the absurd and the unknown well, and gives a general atmosphere of confusion and style.

You can download the comic here:

http://getcomics.info/dc/enigma-tpb/

Also, if someone can tell me what the damn salamanders are supposed to represent I would be grateful.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Tables Have Turned! (The Authority)



You know how there's this trend in in anime, cartoons, and comics in which during a fight women's clothes get ripped apart, leaving the heroines with only scraps to cover their intimate parts?

Let's be honest, this thing happens a lot. It's usually done intentionally by the creators to scintillate the readers/viewers with the possibility of nudity without actually delivering it.

Well, now the tables have turned!

Meet Apollo from the comic book, The Authority.



Apollo is pretty much a copy of Superman.

He derives his powers from the sun, is almost invulnerable, can fly, has super strength, super speed, and can shoot lasers from his eyes.

Another power he also possess is that he is the only member on his team whose outfit is forever being ripped off to leave him almost bare.

Here's a small sample of Apollo getting his clothes ripped to shreds.







There's actually more, but these will do for now.

And just because Apollo is the resident hottie doesn't mean that women have been excluded from baring some skin.

Another member of The Authority is the Engineer.



She's a top physicist whose blood is composed entirely of nanomachines.

At times the team encounters enemies who can null her powers and make the nano-shielding she uses to cover herself retreat. This leaves her completely bare.

But I've counted the total times this happens and I think it only comes up to twice.

Maybe three times most.

For the most part, it's Apollo who's acting as the resident eye candy.




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Authority



The Authority was a team of metahumans assembled under the leadership of the spirit of the 20th century, Jenny Sparks, to protect the world and better improve it.

Their base of operations was an alien spaceship called the Carrier. The ship was left behind long ago by alien merchants of an unknown race. It is 50 miles long and 35 miles wide.



The team was comprised of metahumans, some being former Wild Storm members, and some that had just appeared out of the blue.

The leader was the spirit of the 20th century by the name of Jenny Sparks; a century old wielder of lightning who looks 20, and who also smokes, cusses like a sailor and drinks like a fish. She wore practical pants, and there’s none of that crappy fanservice skimpy outfits stuff in which comic book artists stick female heroines in.



She was smart, tough, brave, and a most capable strategist and leader.

I absolutely adored her.

There was the tech savvy expert called Engineer. She has nanomachines for blood which allows her to create an outer metallic armor around her skin, create weapons, and have an almost endless access to information of all kinds. She can also fly and survive in outer space.



Swift is a vegan, hippy kind of chick with wings. She was hailed as the long awaited child who would bring about world peace. She has wings, claws, and super senses that allow her to react far faster than her comrades in a fight. She is awesome, but I always felt that her role was always downplayed in the comic.



[But, my god! That song of hers during the Kevin issues when she’s in the Carrier and singing ‘I’m an Asian chick’. That sort of does explain why she was never really central in the comic much]

Jack Hawksmoor is an avatar of cities, King of the Cities. He was kidnapped by aliens from the future as a kid (no for real guys, this really happened) who experimented on him and gave him the ability to control cities. He can make cities bend to his will – not the people of the cities, but rather, the cities themselves (the streets, buildings, and most infrastructures).



There’s the Doctor and, unlike the rest of the league, he did not start out as a hero. He started out as a software company owner, but after he received powers from Earth’s shamans he became sort of a wizard; he can heal, control all elements, and generally be like Faith from Justice League of America from the 90s (Most of you probably don’t remember her. It’s fine, neither can I).



There was the martial artist expert called Midnighter. He was implanted with mindprobes that allow him to mentally play out all the end results of any fight he’s about to walk into, allowing him to choose the best actions, and come out as the victor every time. He’s violent, tough, has 2 hearts, has super healing, and super stamina beyond that of normal humans.



Apollo is a power house not unlike Superman. He derives his power from the sun and can shoot lasers from his eyes. He also has super strength, super speed, and super endurance. He is near invulnerable and can survive under water, in outer space, and falling into lava.



Note:

Midnighter and Apollo are actually the buffed up versions of Superman and Batman, only they have no qualms about killing and are actually established as lovers in the comic. They even get married in the comic and later adopt a young Jenny Quantum (The Replacement of Jenny Sparks that represents the spirit of the 21 century).

I really liked this take on a same sex couple in comics. They were not done in a way that was cliche or stereotypical. They were just your run of the mill super heroes, fighting the good fight, dislodging corrupt governments, bashing in heads, and generally being all around awesome.

Most comic book creators can’t really do same sex couples well and often end up making their homogeneous status a central theme instead of just a thing that happened to be there.
But in the Authority the relationship between the two heroes is done well and I enjoyed every second of it.




Monday, April 11, 2016

Corto Maltese: Und Immer Ein Stuck Weiter



This comic follows right after the events of 'Im Zeichen Des Steinbocks'.

Corto Maltese is staying with Professor Steiner as he still has not recovered his memory. While in Venezuela the two are approached by Professor Levi Columbia who wants the duo to travel to the Amazonian Jungle to try and discover what happened to a party that had sought adventure there before and have since then disappeared.

The "journey" that takes place is not what you'd figure at first as it turns out to be a hallucination.

I think...

Probably...

Okay, I'm not really sure what went down at first.

And neither does Steiner for that matter as the two get high from a magic mushroom that Steiner slips into their food in hopes of the magic mushroom might help recover Corto's memory.

What follows is not as trippy as one might like to believe.

Things actually go as they would have in real life.

They charter a boat, hire some natives to accompany them to find the cylindrical tower that the previous party was looking for (A possible sign of a long lost city), almost get killed by an Anaconda, and get back-stabbed by the natives after one of the passengers that was accompanying them starts having delusions of immortality.

Standard stuff.

The whole thing turns out to be a halucinations brought on by the mushroom.

(For a professor, Steiner seems to lack some common sense)

The story then starts shifting from one place in South America to another and the reader is introduced to Esmeralda and is reacquainted with Soledad.

Some drama does go down when Corto reaches Soledad as the unresolved conflicts in the previous issue causes some problems.

This issue is pretty good but terrible for someone who has still not completely grasped French and German.

Down below are the links to the comics in French and German.

French:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3TNSocj1onUaUxYOUo5R0dLMFE/view?usp=sharing

German:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3TNSocj1onUY0JyOWMxRUtqc28/view?usp=sharing