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Posted Because Kurt Vonnegut is Awesome [BT]
Apr 4th, 2012 by Dan

If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. Especially soldiers and hardworking men speak coarsely, and even our most sheltered children know that. And we all know, too, that those words really don’t damage children much. They didn’t damage us when we were young. It was evil deeds and lying that hurt us.

After I have said all this, I am sure you are still ready to respond, in effect, “Yes, yes–but it still remains our right and our responsibility to decide what books our children are going to be made to read in our community.” This is surely so. But it is also true that if you exercise that right and fulfill that responsibility in an ignorant, harsh, un-American manner, then people are entitled to call you bad citizens and fools. Even your own children are entitled to call you that.

Excerpted from Letters of Note regarding a North Dakota school’s decision to burn all 35 copies of Slaughterhouse Five they had.

Let’s all try and remember this the next time we think something is pure vulgarity and has no worth.

What I’ve Been Doing 26 Sept 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Sep 26th, 2011 by Dan

Moneyball Movie Poster

Doesn't get much better than being portrayed by Brad Pitt in a movie. (Photo courtesy nsusco)

It’s fitting that I watched a movie about baseball considering how much baseball I also watched this weekend. Had to watch to support the Rays. They’ve got three games to make up a one game deficit. You can do it, Tampa Bay!

Movies

Moneyball – Not too bad at all. We’re not talking “the best baseball movie ever” or anything, but it was enjoyable. It’s always nice to see a good baseball movie. I didn’t love the stylized baseball shots with the all black backdrops (looked kind of cheap), but it was still lots of fun. Seeing Chris Pratt (Andy from Parks and Recreation) play a more serious dramatic role (but still kind of comedic) was really neat. I liked it, but I’m glad I saw it with Ryan. Tiffany would have hated it.

TV

Up All Night – This show is actually pretty neat. Will Arnett and Christina Applegate make a good pairing for a show about an unplanned baby that they do genuinely love, even if they haven’t figured out how to integrate it into their lives yet. I’ve got another episode waiting on the DVR to get around to sometime this week. It’s not nailing it yet, but it’s good enough that I’ll give it a few more episodes.

Top Gear – Saw both last week and this week’s eps and the guys turned cars into trains to pull cars down the tracks. It was pretty hilarious. The demolitions competition at the end of this week’s was pretty cool too.

Talking Funny – I kind of wish they had a woman on the panel too. I mean, what’s that say when you’re advertising your special as a look at comedy from the who’s who of the biz, but you don’t have any women on the panel? Ricky Gervais was the most “intellectual” of the bunch (almost to pretension) and Seinfeld was the purest, most “elemental”. I wish Chris Rock said more and I thought Louie C.K. was among the funnier of the four.

How I Met Your Mother – The worst part of any episode remains any time Ted is on screen. I don’t know if the writers get that his pretentiousness is super off-putting, but it’s kind of terrible. There were definitely some funny moments in the first disc (I’m catching up on Season 5), but, while I like the show, I don’t love it. ESPECIALLY when Ted is on screen

2 Broke Girls – This was decent. I mean, it’s a totally safe sitcom being mostly carried by Kat Dennings, but I like Kat Dennings, so I’ll give it two or three more episodes. Wait, did I say safe? Definitely a decent amount of jokes about semen, orgasms, and exchanges like “You’re getting me wet.” “That’s the point.” It seems kind of edgy for 2130 on CBS, I guess, but definitely not that edgy compared to other stuff I watch. I like the gimmick with the money raised counter at the end. Reminds me of a reverse Battlestar Galactica.

Weeds – They totally had a Vonnegut reference in there (“So it goes.”), but there’s so much going on and unresolved with only one episode left that I’m at a loss to see how they end it effectively. It’s been a good season with the budding rivalry between her and Silas growing, but I worry about how it can have a satisfactory ending with only 30 mins to go.

Music

Extra Hot Great – One of my favorite podcasts, Extra Hot Great did a Fall TV preview this week that was funny and cool, per usual. Their mixing things up for Game Time for the next few episodes since Joe clinched the crown. This is definitely a great podcast to listen to if you’re into pop culture stuff (specifically TV and movies).

Books

Reamde – Neal Stephenson’s latest hit shelves this past week. So far so good. It’s got a lot of Stepehnson elements (obsession with guns/weapons), but hasn’t had any of his stereotypical nerdiness yet. Mentions of twitter/facebook/wikipedia kind of date the book, but, at the same time, I think that’s kind of what he’s going for.

(AHOY, THAR BE COMICS AHEAD!)

SI: Cloak and Dagger – Just gorgeous art and fantastic writing. Comic books like this remind me why it’s worth spending my money on them. Just beautiful.

Daredevil – Not as good as the first three, but still quite good. The cliffhanger panel is killer awesome.

The Red Wing – A very interesting premise with the traveling across dimensions too. The way the pilots explode across time when they’re destroyed remains the most striking image in this book.

SI: Spider-Woman – Didn’t really do it for me. Not that interesting.

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye – Good, but not great. I still feel like Hawkeye as a character is almost non-existent

Wonder Woman – So popular this week that I had to buy it digitally (sold out in all other formats). It was a good book with neat art (I love how Chiang draws Diana as full-figured/muscular) and I hope they continue with the Greek mythology bit because that will lead to great horror comics. Greek gods and their mythology are among the most interesting, graphic, and crazy sources for stories out there.

Video Games

SO MUCH GEARS OF WAR 3 – Tons of it. Still so much fun. I can’t wait for Min to be done with his schoolwork.

Left 4 Dead 2 – Dave and I finally finished all of the main story campaigns in this. We might go back and do some other extras, but for now I think we’re done. Lots of fun.

Resident Evil 5 – Back playing this. I miss actually having to buy and upgrade weapons, but it’s still tons of fun. Glad I’m playing this again. It’s insane and super fun.

What I’ve Been Doing 8 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Aug 6th, 2011 by Dan

The new Spider-Man is Miles Morales, a previously unseen character motivated to do good by Peter's sacrifice...or so Marvel says. I've yet to read a story issue with him in it.

Movies

Horrible Bosses – Part of me thought it was hilarious and part of me thought it was passable. There were some really strange story beats in this no doubt because this wasn’t the dark comedy it was advertised to be. I dunno what the proper word for it would be…dim comedy? Without implying that the comedy was stupid, I mean to say that Jennifer Aniston’s part in the story was treated completely differently than the two male bosses and was resolved in a way that felt tacked on. Decent movie, just not the funniest thing I saw this summer (:cough: Bridesmaids :cough:)

TV

Weeds – Having Heylia return to the show last week just reminds me how well-served this show is by its travels and changes. Being able to call back to the first couple of seasons and get a great emotional response is not easy. The story is moving in an interesting direction, but I’ve yet to see it thematically gel yet. I wonder if that has to do with Jacob Clifton’s fantastic summaries on TWoP being canceled? Great season so far.

Frisky Dingo – This is one of those 11-minute Cartoon Network comedies that Adult Swim specializes in. Had some genuine laugh out loud moments and some stupid stuff too. I think I like Archer a lot more (not CN).

Retro Game Master – I totally forgot to mention that I’ve been watching this. Kotaku bought licensing rights to bring RGM to the states and I’ve been enjoying watching the Kacho, Shinya Arino, try to conquer all kinds of classic games. Some episodes are better than others, but they’re usually pretty funny/interesting.

Books

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – The central conceit of this book, that the real Thursday Next is missing, ends up being somewhat detrimental. I’m still legitimately enjoying the book, but I find that following the “fictional” Thursday around is less interesting than the “real” Thursday. Still got about a hundred pages left and I’m loving the book.

Slaughterhouse Five – Finished up the reread. Poignant and interesting. I love how layered Vonnegut’s writing is. You can choose to believe that Billy is telling the truth or not. There are clues layered all throughout the book that would prove either interpretation.

Ultimatum – Went back to read the old crisis for the Ultimate Universe that was supposed to change/relaunch it before this whole Death of Spider-Man thing. Wow, this was terrible. It was pointlessly violent, jumped around with no real narrative focus, and was just plain bad. I’m glad the side-universe is not mired in this anymore.

Secret Warriors – Got another book in. Still really interesting. Can’t wait to keep reading it.

Y: The Last Man – Finished my reread. It’s even better the second time. I love how deep the characters became and where the whole thing ended. Post-Y-chromosome Earth was interesting, but I really hope that kind of thing never happens for real!

Ultimate Fallout – The above panel came from this book. Our new Spider-Man is neat, but I won’t know more about him until this week. Racial controversy aside, he seems cool, but a little too similar to Peter in personality. Can’t reinvent all parts of the wheel, I guess. The other two parts of this book were pretty neat too. Always nice to read Hickman’s work.

Snarked – Roger Langridge’s look into the world of The Walrus and The Carpenter seems neat, but I don’t know if I’ll keep reading.

Moon Knight – I think this may have been my favorite of the releases this week. The art was just stunning and fun. This is a pretty cool book that I’m sure a lot of people aren’t reading or giving a chance.

Irredeemable – Speaking of underground books (I don’t actually know the circulation for this, but it can’t be huge), this was way depressing this week. Interesting, per usual, but depressing. The Plutonian is back and kicking all kinds of ass and he’s caught Earth with its pants down…again. The story is interesting, but it’s a bummer my favorite character didn’t make it in this issue.

SHIELD – Another gorgeous comic book. It’s still very confusing, but a book filled with Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists is always gold in my eyes.

Video Games

Catherine – I played this game just a little too haphazardly to get the ending I wanted. See, I was actively pushing away Katherine, who I find obnoxious, while answering questions like I would (in a quasi-responsible way), which resulted in me getting a Katherine ending. Ah, well. At least I’m having fun with the game on my second playthrough. I’m really down with the block puzzles. I might have more to say about the game in its own detailed post, but we’ll see.

Team Fortress 2 – Played so much of this over the weekend! I’m so close to getting the Scout achievement I’ve been chasing so long (1900-something/2004 kills). I’ll probably get it tonight or tomorrow night. It’s a lot of fun, but I’m kind of sad about having to play some other classes for a bit for achievement’s sake.

What I’ve Been Doing [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Jul 25th, 2011 by Dan

Arte de Chris Samnee para Thor: The Mighty Avenger 4. O Deus do Trovão se estranha com o Capitão Britânia.

So glad I found this at my local Borders. An absolute delight to read. I'm keeping my eye on Langridge and Samnee

Movies:

Gentlemen Broncos – Netflix told me. It said, “Dan, you’re not gonna like this movie. Two Stars.” I said, “WHAT DO YOU KNOW, NETFLIX?! YOU DON’T OWN ME!” and then Gentlemen Broncos arrived and it was terrible. I didn’t really dig Jared Hess’ work on Napoleon Dynamite, but it was still funny. Broncos has all of Hess’ excesses without any balance. I watched it at 1.5 speed so I could still hear the dialogue, but be done with the movie faster. Don’t watch it.

Wet Hot American Summer – Saw this a long time ago. Didn’t really dig it. Heard Marc Maron talk with one of the creators about how it was the 10th anniversary this year. Since I last saw it I’ve gone a little deeper into the rabbit hole of comedy nerdiness and I actually liked it a lot more this time. There’s a lot of genuinely funny comedy in here, especially the intentionally bad comic near the end.

El secreto de sus ojos – Another rewatch, this time with Min. One of my all-time favorites.

Star Trek – Min and I went to see Captain America and he told me he never saw the remake. Naturally I figured we’d remedy that and Netflix’s giant Star Trek deal came to the rescue. Netflix Instant quality is way terrible for how great Star Trek should have looked, but it’s still a really fantastic movie. I also was looking out for lens flare this time. I’d noticed it before, but now that I was looking for it…HOLY COW. They need to tone that down a bit!

Captain America: The First Avenger – Better than I thought it would be. Aside from a few nitpicks here and there, the best action movie I saw this summer. There’s a lot of earnestness and honesty in Chris Evans’ Cap that makes this movie work. Stay until after the credits. You won’t be sorry (DISCLAIMER: You might be sorry).

TV:

The League – A little more of this. Finished off season 1. It was good to get a little background into season 2. Still very juvenile and silly, but a fun diversion.

Weeds – This season is only three episodes old, but they’ve really been fantastic. Post-prison Nancy has got some secrets up her sleeve that I know we haven’t had a chance to see. Her struggles with her son and sister are dramatic gold and I’m loving everything this season is bringing to the table.

Books:

Slaughterhouse Five – Rereading one of my favorite books. It’s quite good. Vonnegut’s talent for reducing things to the absurd is at its best with Billy Pilgrim. I love Vonnegut’s humanist ways and anti-war leanings. He’s a literary hero of mine.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger – I don’t really care for Thor. He’s kind of silly. However, everywhere I looked people were telling me that this mini-series was fantastic. Thanks to Borders’ going out of business sale, I picked up part 1 (of 2) of this book and I’m really quite amazed. Roger Langridge’s writing hearkens back to the Golden/Silver Age of comics where heroes didn’t have to be brooding, angsty messes without getting too corny. The relationship between Thor and Jane is so sweet that it’s a joy to read. On top of that, Chris Samnee’s art is just perfect. It’s got that old-school look of innocence and purity that works when you’re writing about a Norse god.

Morning Glories – Nick Spencer’s series was described to me as Lost meets Runaways. Those kinds of x-meets-y descriptions don’t always bear fruit, but this one seems to work. It’s dark, violent, and horrific with a hint that there’s all kinds of intrigue in the pipe. If Spencer’s got a good plan, this could be really great. I’m liking it so far and the first trade paperback is only $10

Irredeemable – Another series with some acclaim, Irredeemable is about a Superman-like hero going ballistic and becoming a super villain. It’s really a character piece on what might cause a guy like Superman to just snap and turn evil. There’s a lot of suspense in the first issues because of how powerful he is as the remaining heroes search for clues and weaknesses. A real sharp read that I picked up especially because it’s by Mark Waid, who wrote the next thing I read.

Daredevil – It’s kind of odd that I never was into Daredevil. He’s another one of those heroes in NYC that gets no respect, kind of like Spider-Man, but perhaps a little darker. Well, Daredevil had apparently gone super, ridiculously dark in recent years. Like depressingly so. Waid has stepped in for a new #1 and a new take on Matt Murdock. He’s either got to start looking at the world with a little levity or go insane from his troubles and I’m digging it. Throw in some sharp art and Waid’s good writing and you’ve got a series that I’m really excited to keep reading.

Video Games:

Left 4 Dead 2 – Not a lot of change here, just going through the campaigns with David. Such a perfect game. Lots of fun.

Team Fortress 2 – Every time I check Eric’s inventory he’s got another item that I want for classes he doesn’t really play. It’s kind of unfair! We need to initiate some trades, pronto.

I love the art in this book!

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