Friday, October 23, 2020

More Reviews!

Marymae and the Nightmare Man, A.M. Freeman (Author), Jeslyn Kate (Illustrator)

This book strongly evokes the silly stories my brother and I used make up as bored little kids. Pirates? Dinosaurs? Chainsaw battles? A heroine who, upon confronting the big bad, essentially calls him a poopy head? Yeah: the author here doesn't bother with sense-making. Instead, she's having fun -- and there is a crystal-blue purity to it all that needs to be experienced to be appreciated. Definitely pick this up if you want something happy and imaginative and hopeful to read to your younger children. I think most kids will immediately take to the plucky Marymae.

This anthology, on the other hand, is strictly for adults -- but it's a very, very interesting read. Imagine, for example, that someone could alter reality simply by convincing enough people to believe an outright falsehood? Or: imagine we could, through technological wizardry, create the perfect safe space by essentially erasing all perceptible traces of anyone who disagrees with us or makes us uncomfortable? These are the premises behind the two longest (and best) stories in this collection, which are both blisteringly effective literary explorations of the profound fundamental problems with today's identitarian, truth-denying ideological zeitgeist. Also covered here: the steady erosion of parental rights in Western society, the excesses of the trans movement, our elites' condescending attitudes towards the religious (and the plebs in general), etc., etc. Fox says upfront that he's trying to poke sacred cows; I'd say he's succeeded beautifully. I shall wait with bated breath for the multi-author follow-up!

Iron Man #2

Okay: now that two issues of the Iron Man relaunch have been released, it's time for some more extensive commentary on Christopher Cantwell's so-called "back-to-basics" take. And as I said yesterday on Twitter:

Honestly, the fact that issue two royally honked me off is an absolute tragedy because this new run - despite the rage-inducing bull I'm about to discuss - brings quite a lot to the table. 

Continue reading over on my Iron Man blog...

(And then afterwards, if you'd like, watch my rant on YouTube, which adds a few more things I didn't include in the blog post.)

Friday, October 16, 2020

Capsule Recommendations & My Iron Man #1 Reaction

Capsule Recommendations

If you're in the mood for another magical school story, this book (the first of five) is a pretty good choice. The main characters here actually feel like real children with real, child-like points of view, and the suggestion that there are multiple layers to this world (or perhaps a multiverse?) is actually quite intriguing. I do think it took a little too long for the actual plot to get going in this opening installment -- but if you're patient and stick with the long, long set-up, I think you'll ultimately appreciate the potential of the series as a whole.

Pack Dynamics, Julie Frost

Urban fantasy is not generally a go-to genre for me; for some reason, vampires, werewolves, and the like just don't excite me all that much. This particular novel, however, completely won me over purely on the strength of its characterization. In particular, I fell absolutely in love with Frost's incorrigible human disaster of a "mad scientist," who managed to make me smile basically every time he appeared. Very, very fun!

Shiloh, Helena Sorensen

If you're willing to suspend your disbelief and roll with the premise - that the world has been plunged into a spiritual and literal perpetual night by the actions of an evil god - I think you'll appreciate what this particular novel (also the first of a series) has to say about the ways people can fall from grace -- and how they can find their way back to light and hope. The Amazon algorithm recommended this one to me based on my purchase of the Green Ember books, and I think the connection is apt.

And as for my reaction to the new Iron Man #1, click below...

Friday, October 9, 2020

I'm Back!

So what the heck happened to me?

On September 3, I went to the local ER because I was feeling very unwell -- nausea, severe muscle weakness (including difficulty swallowing solid food), dehydration, etc. That afternoon, the hospital's routine work-up revealed an alarmingly high level of troponin in my blood, which most commonly indicates a heart attack or heart injury. Promptly, I was admitted to the ICU for 24 hours so that my cardiac function could be monitored more closely.

Over the next two weeks, I stayed in a general cardiac ward where I underwent two echoes and a cath (in addition to a bunch of other diagnostic scans and blood tests). These all revealed that my blood vessels were squeaky clean and my heart was pumping normally. At this point, the aforementioned local institution was stumped, so they transferred me to a larger teaching hospital where I could be seen by specialists in cardiology and rheumatology.

After a completely normal cardiac MRI at the new hospital, a primary heart problem was ruled out, and the focus turned to an autoimmune cause for my weakness and other signs/symptoms. Several tissue biopsies were conducted, and a feeding tube was inserted so I can still get nutrition while my throat muscles remain inflamed and weak. The results of the biopsies are still being reviewed by the big-time specialists at Johns Hopkins, but the suspicion at this point is that I have a mixed connective tissue disease. I am showing classic signs of dermatomyositis (an autoimmune disease of the skin and muscles), CREST Syndrome, and - of course - the rheumatoid arthritis I already knew I had.

I am now home from the hospital on high dose immunosuppressive medication. Over the next month of follow-up appointments, we're going to work on finding exactly the right combination of medical therapies that will - hopefully - restore function and allow me to, once again, lead my normal life.

TL; DR: My body essentially collapsed for reasons unknown, and I am still trying to bounce back.

As you might expect, a month spent in the hospital with limited internet and TV gave me an opportunity to get some reading done, so in next week's post, you're probably going to see some book reviews. But first, I just wanted to let you know the reason for my unplanned absence. Any prayers/well wishes as I continue my treatment regimen are, of course, greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Brief Hiatus Announcement

My annual trip to Dragon Con has been canceled this year, but I've decided to take my standard Labor Day break anyway in order to catch up on a few things. I shall return next Wednesday. Don't burn the place down in the meantime!

ETA 9/7: Oops! Actually, I'm in the hospital right now with myocarditis, so the hiatus may go on even longer. Many apologies!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

State of the Blogger, 8/26/20

To begin, allow me to apologize for the paucity of content on this particular blog. Ever since I got sucked hard into Marvel fandom - and Tony Stark-stanning most especially - I keep getting distracted by shiny, fangirly Iron Man things and neglecting to - uh - actually keep up with other pop-culture/geeky news. Oops! Go ahead and blame my borderline autism/OCD (and the fact that my movie theater is closed).

I have been trying to get caught up on a couple non-Marvel canons, though. For one thing, I've finally gotten over my intimidation (the fear I always feel when an ongoing series has been around for a while and therefore has more than two or three available installments) and started reading the Dresden Files -- and so far, I've been having grand old time. I didn't realize these books were such quick reads; hence my years of hesitation and procrastination.

Additionally, I've started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix. If you're curious, I've just started Book 2, and I'm mostly looking forward to seeing how Zuko's story plays out. The set-up there is screaming the sort of humbling/redemption arc that I always - always - enjoy.

And lastly, I've been watching some of the old Marvel stuff that's available on Disney +, including an Iron Man cartoon from the 90's that's the definition of terrible for the first thirteen episodes or so -- and then becomes slightly less unwatchable once the creators realize Tony's an angst muffin and not a flat, generic hero. (Which didn't save me from the bad voice acting or awful animation, but -- at least there's something redeeming there.) Yeah: you should probably avoid said series unless you're like me and are intent on consuming every last drop of Iron Man-related content that exists. But I'm still sort of glad I checked it out.

So anyway -- that's what I've been up to this summer. 

What have you been watching or reading lately?

Bonus cOmIcS wErE aLwAyS pOlItIcAl content:

The 1970's really was a much healthier time for the comic book industry.