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Posts posted by Jumbie

  1. I've always been a huge fan of this long running web comic even if I don't get all the most scienc-y jokes. It's amazing what stick figures can do to communicate tone and ideas and emotion with the right context.


    Today I want to start off the discussion by posting two recent strips that really tickled me.










    and #2360






    To me these are quintessential XKCD. They use a quasi textbook graphic presentation with the star chart and the comparison table. But in the case of the stars they get surreal and veer off into fantasy nerdishness and with the data comic they poke fun of the absurd dysfunction of academia and research.





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  2. Used to play cricket a lot, but stopped once my eyes got bad.


    I tried my had at hurling when I visited Ireland. Seemed like a fun game but it really demands depth perception since you make a lot of baseball style shots and being blind in one eye, that's tough for me.

    Strangely, I've started to get into sports shooting this year despite having bad eyes. Steel Challenge and USPSA stuff. Shooting is a very 2D sport in many respects, so doesn't demand as much from the eyes as you might think and the rest is running around and body positioning, 


    I'm really glad I found a club to be part of because since I stopped playing things like tennis, cricket or even frisbee so much, I'd lost the sense of camaraderie and competition that sports bring and it was an instant boost for my mental health to get it back.

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  3. Spoiler


    Sansa: *Looks at Theon* "You tried to destroy my family, but lemme hug you and entrust you with the life of my brother."

    Sansa: *Looks at Jamie* "You tried to destroy my family, but my bodyguard vouches for you so I'll trust you to join our ranks and wander around at will."

    Sansa: *Looks at Daenerys* "Bitch, I don't care if you stopped your invasion to help us out. What about the north!?"



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  4. Did he say the FF was coming though? I mean, if he's claiming there was a five year plan in place before the merger, I don't think FF would have been in it either. Or Doom. 

    I do think the Celestials are the next big thing. They did give us Knowhere, so that's set up in the universe.


    Re: the Chinese market holding back the portrayal of gay characters, is it an issue of the govt not allowing such portrayals or audiences being turned off by them? Cuz one is more of an obstacle than the other.

  5. I'm usually a stickler for consistent worldbuilding where even if things are surreal, I understand why it's surreal.

    But this movie's logic issues didn't bother me as much as it seemed to bother others with it's lack of clear cause and effect. The performances, action and sense of connection to the characters powers you through that.


    It helps that almost all the character stuff is in the first half and the worldbuilding cracks don't become apparent til the last 1/4, so by then you're invested.


    And I think it also helped that the action across the movie was surprisingly logical, i.e. things get paid off. There's a moment when we hear screaming on the lake and there's no explanation for it til later. There's the way the closet thing was set up, the way the trauma speech loss paid off etc. The opening tv commercials as well.


    Bottom line: I want to see Lupita in more stuff.



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  6. Spoiler


    I liked that they aren't just parking the 'good' guys into one side for a simple living vs dead battle.


    Sansa especially made this episode work. She's not as smart as she thinks. Everyone got caught up in the Littlefinger revenge and started declaring Sansa had come full circle and I think this episode proved she's got a ways to go.. She's still annoying and out of her depth.


    Ironically, she seems to think she's Cirsei in her head, but she still has to grow more to be any kind of manipulator on that level and is just needlessly antagonistic and maybe even a bit power hungry.


    I'm also glad that they're playing up the execution of Dickon and what that means for the kind of Queen Daeneris is. There's all this talk from the Onion Knight etc about Jon and Dany being an honorable good couple and I think that needs to be questioned and the episode does that.


    And that leads into the other good bit which is that Jon just found out about his father in a way that undermines his relationship with Dany in the best way. He's going to be keeping secrets and also he has to worry about if she's really moral enough to be a good queen for him to place the North under. Plus the next time he goes for waterfall time with her, he's going to have to have to work through the 'aunty' issues.


    And this is all stuff going on between the 'good' guys.




    On 8/17/2018 at 12:03 AM, The NZA said:


      Reveal hidden contents




    Yeah, I had the same reaction. And this is a symptom of my overall dissatisfaction with the show They seemed set to tell a story about a character who just happens to share the name and get him wallowing in angst that isn't very Iron Fist-y. You have a problem with CW-level fight scenes, but my big problem is the CW school of drama-creation and characterization that they seem to be following since Season 1. They could have done the inverse of what the trailer did and used this as a moment of pride.



    "I worked hard to have the Iron Fist!"



    And then whatever drama they were trying for, whether it was him saying he was tired of the duties or he was going to make sure he took his duties seriously or he was going to take on the job of making corner of the world a better place, it could have been attached after and still been a pretty dramatic statement of character but with a big tonal difference that would have separated Iron Fist out from all the woe-is-me figures on TV superhero shows. 

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  8. I was never a fan of old man logan as a regular series. The orifinal story really seemed like the kind of thing that needed to be left alone so it could be a self-contained story. I never even checked it out, though I heard the old wolverine showed up in the comics present... tl;dr on that?

  9. A review of two books that bump into each other at the intersection of tween lit, graphic novels and politics.



    Both released in 2012, 'Drama' and 'Cardboard' seem to stand almost as relics of their time now, a mere 6 years later.


    Their politics seem so retro given the current topics and confrontational tactics dominating US public debate. One book is a gentle tale of group dynamics & sorting through relationship perils when they're all new to you by using empathy and consideration while the other book is heavy on physical conflict while espousing the values of self-sacrifice, honesty and caring.


    From my descriptions, you may be asking yourself which book has what political leanings, but it is to both writers' credit that while their politics definitely guide the story, there is never any obvious sense of it and the story always comes first. The characters and plot sell the authors' message of how the world should work while being entertaining in themselves and retaining a universal appeal.


    Let's talk about 'Drama' as a comic by itself. The art style stands out for being simple without being simplistic. The layouts are easy to follow, steady and orderly. The lines are clean and the details of expressions, clothes and the background are well chosen to create a world with personality, but which is not cluttered.


    The story involves new seventh-grader Callie who jumps right into being set designer for her school's musical drama production. There is no real villain, except for maybe the lead actress who is a selfish diva, and the plot mostly involves Callie's crushes and her progress in getting her set design done. e.g. She thought she and an eighth-grader named Greg were getting to be an item since he broke up with his girlfriend, but Greg suddenly starts acting cold to her; or she needs to get a cannon to work for a battle scene, but the pyrotechnics won't create the pop she wants, so she needs to research and improvise some special effects.


    There are no fistfights, no arguments even, just a lot of slice-of-life kind of stuff that all fits in the larger framework of getting the play ready and many conflicts get settled quickly and quietly, e.g. in a 6 page sequence, Callie's scheduled stage prep time gets interrupted by a delivery truck of heavy lights and she's annoyed and complains to the student who's the stage manager. But then the teacher appears and apologizes and explains it's his fault for scheduling at the wrong time. This means she's got to postpone her work, which affects the main plot a bit, but there's no sense of high stakes.


    And that lack of high stakes may be exactly what makes 'Drama' work, oddly enough. There is a market for books that are comforting in the way they present a life free of upheaval and the sense of realism that the regularity creates makes the conflicts more impactful. However, it does demand the audience be willing to invest the time to connect to the characters and the characters have to have some charm to hold their attention. Luckily, the students in 'Drama,' through their design and dialogue do manage to be lively, relatable and likable.


    'Cardboard,' on the other hand, is unapologetically magic escapism, with only some realism in the relationship's portrayed. And even that tends to be in service of the escapism.

    The art is laid out in an easy to follow way, but with some dynamic elements like inset panels, open panels, single page panels etc. and the figure art is fluid. The lines are pretty clean, but there is a great range of motion and some 'rubberiness' to people and their faces. And the art does wonders with the amazing overflow of imagination in the emergence of the cardboard colony and its fantastical denizens.


    The plot starts with a down-on-his-luck dad (Mike) who can only afford a cardboard box for his tween son's (Cam) birthday. The way it's all set up is an homage to the Gremlins movie and just as in Gremlins, the boy and his father don't care for the magic box the right way and the magic gets out of control, with cardboard creations coming to life and invading the neighborhood, with the help of the spoiled bully who lives across the street, Marcus.


    There are some good bits of story in the action, such as Marcus not being the monster we first think him to be (and in fact he becomes the co-hero of the book by the end) or such as one of the cardboard creations bonding with Cam to the point of ultimate friendship, but the overall plot remains simple: Our heroes must stop the out-of-control magic creatures using wits, imagination and awesome magic weaponry.

    There are a few false notes in the second half where I think Marcus, especially, becomes too 'insidery' in his comments, revealing the author's views, e.g. when he says to Cam, 'The only exercise I get is playing video games' or when he tearfully psychoanalyses himself to say his bad behavior all stems from low self-esteem and fear of loneliness. And also the ending epilogue wraps everything up seemingly too fast and too neatly.


    So, still not sure which book promotes which politics yet?


    Well, the first big clue I'll give you is visual: Callie, the hero of 'Drama' has pink/purple dyed hair and no one ever comments on it. Marcus, the villain of Cardboard, has limp, goth-style hair and one of the first things Mike does is tell him to get a haircut. (Right after Marcus self-righteously yells at him to buy a hybrid).


    The kids of 'Drama' seem to be operating independent of adults for the most part. They cooperate in getting things done via consultation and mutual agreement and are properly multicultural with a couple of gay kids even. There is a lot of settling conflict by seeing things from the other person's point of view and apologizing. It's all very much a world of um sociable democracy so to speak. 


    'Cardboard' is different It has a huge role for the dad, whose presence as a calm, principled and moral authority figure is implied to be the reason Cam is a good kid. (Being a good dad also involves blowing up a lot of monsters when they threaten his kid.) Marcus the bully on the other hand has indulgent parents who obey the 'No Entry' sign he puts on his bedroom door and only talk to him through said door and they are happy to leave him alone in the house with just a meaningless admonishment to 'keep the MTV down to less than four hours a night.'


    The book seems to be saying that parents definitely need to take charge and kids need to be made to follow rules and conventions.


    That said, the failing of this conservative-confirming parenting dichotomy we are shown is that it never quite fills in the specifics of what a good conservative parent does differently. There seems to be a hint that Marcus' parents know he is lying to them, yet choose to let him do as he wants anyway and they don't actively supervise him, but Cam's conservative archetype dad doesn't seem to be doing anything different. For instance, we never see him catching Cam in a lie and giving him consequences for it. So there's a subtle attack on liberal, hands-off parenting without making a case of what conservative, hands-on parenting would look like.

    The two boys are also figureheads for the political dichotomy. Cam is hardworking and enjoys using his creativity. For instance, in a scene that rubs up against being cliche, like a lot of the early going of 'Cardboard' does,  Cam earns $5 mowing a lawn and gives it to his dad since he knows the household budget is tight. Marcus, on the other hand, is lazy and hates to work or create and only ever cares about acquiring things for himself. (By the end of the story, however, Marcus has come over to the side of self-reliance and gets a haircut and works part-time for Cam's Dad. He also loses his pale skin in favour of the tan of outdoor activity and switches his jagged, black clothes for a summer-green T-shirt.)


    As for diversity, there are only 8 human characters in 'Cardboard,' compared to the dozens in 'Drama', but they are all white and straight.


    Which brings us back to the gay eighth-graders. 


    Is this a controversial thing in 2018? In the Caribbean, where I live and work, almost certainly. In the US, it probably depends on where you live. In 2012, I imagine it was definitely a bit daring for a middle school book.


    On Amazon, there's a good chunk of 1-star reviews for 'Drama' all listing the surprise presence of gay/bi characters in a kids book as the reason. Most of the complaints stem from the fact that the author's previous books were popular with the 7-8 age group and so parent bought 'Drama' (intended for ages 10 up) and handed it un-previewed to their kids who in many cases had never heard of the concepts. Almost all these reviews, however, take pains to mention that they have nothing against the presence of gay characters, just that there was no warning so they could brief their kids on what was going on. If you take those sentiments at face value then mostly the gay kids angle wasn't a big deal. But some of the reviews specifically mention the book pushing the 'gay agenda' so the left-wing view of the book is pretty clear to the audience and the reaction to it wasn't all happy.


    'Cardboard' on the other hand only has two 1-star reviews and they're both mistakes by kid readers who called it 'the best book ever' etc.  It is less obvious in its conservative view of the gay issue, but it does hint at it. The father's side plot involves him being attracted to Tina, the single woman who lives next door, but Mike is unable get past the memory of his wife to actually start something with Tina. At one point he has an encounter with a cardboard 'ghost' of his wife who tells him, "Cam needs a father...and a mother." And the result is the Dad showing up to take Tina for a date in the last two pages of the comic. (And before you think I'm reading too much into that, the author, Doug TenNapel, did confirm his conservative views and his opposition to gay marriage in a public interview a year after the book came out.)


    So, in the end, we're left with two excellent books, both of which tell a good story, both with characters you want to root for and follow, but also both with definite socio-political underpinnings. To judge them by those underpinnings would be a mistake, though, I think. They are not incompatible with each other. I doubt their authors would ever agree on much politically, but the characters of the two books would probably be good friends to each other.

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  10. Rom, Spaceknight was one of my favorites as a kid. My introduction to the New Mutants was as guest stars in an issue of his comic. I read that thing about 100 times. The way the Limbo from his world connected with sword-wielding Illyana (an X-man) being queen of Limbo at the time blew my mind.


    I would indeed love to see more Rom in Marvel. Or just more Rom as it's own thing. 

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    I don't think we ought to worry about the renumeration issue. It's part of the self-policing mechanism to control quality now that the entry barriers to art production are so low. 


    I deal with the same issue as an indie novelist. Because of things like Amazon self-publishing and soundcloud and cheap digital movie cameras etc, people who want to put art out there can do so.

    And a lot of it is crap.


    The gatekeepers are fading away and nothing is restraining the influx of enthusiastic but substandard producers, certainly not their lack of talent. That sounds harsh, but the fact is 90% of any art form is crap and it needs a sorting system. By volume there's more GOOD stuff out there than ever too but something has to restrain the stuff people don't want so we can get to what we do like.


    I think the way to make money as an artist in comics is the long tail phenomenon. We're never going back to an industry where 100 creators at 3 companies make all the money or where the top 100 books were 95% of sales.


    Nowadays, you find a niche with under-served but passionate fans (like say feminist witches or fighter plane melodrama or furry highschool romance) and you exploit it. If your stuff happens to have mass-market appeal, then congrats, you're one of the lucky one-in-a-million who can get rich off your stuff. And the people who can't make money quit and leave more for the other creators working in the realistic end of the profit spectrum. 


    You may say I'm being harsh, but the problem originates from the way modern tech has lowered entry costs and that's a permanent, irrevocable change. As much as we'd like every ambitious modern creator to live off their art, there just isn't enough money in the consumer pool to distribute to all the incoming artists and still account for taste and consumer preference. 




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  12. While there's a lot of good points here, I think we should also face the fact that comics, like Network TV, succeeded for a long time only because of lack of competing options for consumers.

    We had no cinematic color adventures in the actual cinema. So we read Avengers to see a full-scale alien invasion in all its wonder. Now the digital art revolution has made such stories easy to put on screen and do them justice.


    And overall the competition from GOOD media is sooo much more. I often choose to read a novel when I could be reading a comic. Or to browse youtube vids. My nephews and niece (age ten and under) enjoy comics, but would rather binge watch animated Justice League characters on screen for hours.


    And that's not even mentioning how much time gets suctioned off by things like Minecraft or Fortnite.


    My take is that the comics industry is destined to be a smaller share of the entertainment pie no matter how they innovate on price or delivery. Or how high they keep the quality.


    But I also think that the people who enjoy comics are gonna be better off than ever because small press is a real thing now. Creators can pursue personal passion projects and have them come out high quality because the economics and tech of creating art and then actually printing or publishing online are more in favor of the creator than ever. Self-publiished comics don't have to be sketchy black and white xeroxes stapled together in your basement and packaged in a plastic school folder to give it some style and cred.


    I'm being anecdotal but I visited 5 comic stores in Toronto during my last vacation and the shelves were full of new stuff coming out from non-traditional publishers that were telling tales from all kinds of points of view in all kinds of genres. I would have honestly spent 2 grand on impulse buy trades if I didn't have to budget for weight in my suitcase.


    (And I took pics to get many of those on Amazon for my library)


    Comics may go back to being a niche like before WW2 and that's okay. Or maybe Disney and the movie money will keep them more visible than ever...but I don't think sales is the sole metric to measure the strength of the industry right now. 

  13. There's already an organic movement towards they.


    I think I first heard about Ze in the context that some activists groups were promoting it. I've never actually met anyone using it, but then again, I don't know many non-binary folks. But I've also heard other pronouns promoted and at the moment I feel like we have one of those situations of competing formats/conventions that sometimes grips the tech world (blue ray, Betamax etc).


    Some genderqueer people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns. Usage of singular 'they', 'their' and 'them' is the most common;[29] and ze, sie, hir, co, and ey are used as well. Some others prefer the conventional gender-specific pronouns 'her' or 'him', prefer to be referred to alternately as 'he' and 'she', or prefer to use only their name and not use pronouns at all.



    To me, a need exists for a standard pronoun and the sensible choice is to go with what is already the largest, most convenient convention and help establish it so we get a standard convention and move on.

  14. Not so long ago, 'you' was only plural. 'Thou' was the singular 2nd. But folks got tired of too many pronouns and axed the thous and 'you' became both singular and plural.

    Seems like expanding 'they' to a singular non-gendered personal pronoun is a natural progression (given that it is a non-starter) and I and many English speakers already do it.


  15. Barbara is a 12-year-old who hides a magic giant-killing hammer in her purse. And she knows how to use it too.


    Or maybe she's just the class weirdo who is letting too many Dungeons & Dragons games get to her head?


    This well-written, stand-alone book starts off hinting that the giants are a fantasy, but there is never any explicit tell. Barbara confounds her family, her teachers and her peers with her insistence that they cannot judge her until they know what it is to be elbows deep in the guts of a freshly killed giant and that their world is too trivial for people who have grand missions like hers.


    Barbara gets funny one-liners in regularly, but what makes the writing good is that it never feels like that is all there is to her and we can sense that she is probably just playing a part or at least channeling real stress into these dismissive lines. The people who get in her way are not villains either. So it helps to create more ambiguity about Barbara's struggles to be left alone and her verbal jousting. It raises the question that maybe she's just a self-involved brat.


    The writing, combined with emotive black & white art, builds up its story through scenes of Barbara preparing for an upcoming giant manifestation, meeting a new neighbor who might become her first friend, struggling with her family dynamics and always, always Barbara's obsession with the secret upstairs at home, the thing she hides from every day, the thing that she never lets anyone talk to her about...


    The tension pays off in the last 1/3 as the climax hits, along with a storm that engulfs Barbara's seaside town, and we get a resolution to the giant-killing aspect of Barbara's life.


    The one negative for me was a minor issue with the art. And it's only because 'I Kill Giants' has been touted over the years as a book for reluctant middle-grade readers or for getting prose readers into comics. Kids who are unfamiliar with comics don't always have the artistic vocabulary to follow panel narratives and books that stray from a clean style can be disorienting for veteran readers much less newcomers.



    In 'I Kill Giants,'  it can be hard to figure out who is who sometimes or orient yourself in a scene because it uses a more impressionistic style. This is compounded by being black & white. e.g. the big fight culminates with a splash page that is confusing. First, because there have been no splash pages before this, so we haven't been trained to look for it and second because the left half of the splash seems to stand well on its own so the right half seems at first to be its own separate thing. And the character who is on both pages doesn't seem like one character because it's all black brush strokes and doesn't at first seem to be one person's body.


    I think when the famous gateway comic 'Bone' went color to appeal to kids more that was the right choice. It helps separate out characters and make the narrative easier to follow for youngsters new to the art form. Given that so much of 'I Kill Giants' current marketing is kid-targeted, I think that a newer, color version is needed.


    Anyway, the art complaint is all minor and only from the point-of-view of using comics as literacy aids. Otherwise, this book works well all around to tell a self-contained story about a likable character, using art that engages you.

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  16. I think we're getting somewhere. 

    Both Stilly and NZA have named specific behaviors that cross the line like using the word faggot or deliberate misgendering.


    Now we have a starting point for debate.


    e.g. the misgendering one... If someone asks me to use 'ze' as their pronoun, I'm gonna have a lot of issues with that. It's not going to be because I disrespect them, but because I feel like they're imposing their political statement on me for their personal comfort. (I feel like English already has a perfectly good 3rd person singular pronoun for non-binary genders) 

    So now we can discuss the specifics of that instance.



  17. Not hearing anything I disagree with, but my questions aren't answered.


    Nick is essentially saying we'll know the line when we see it, but different combinations of groups see things differently so basically the middle ground becomes left-wing if it's a mostly left crowd and vice versa and that's a feedback loop to lack of diversity in thought.


    (That said, I acknowledge the issue of letting the extremists have the floor and ceding the airwaves to the loudest voices in Politics especially is something I personally am done with. I just have a real struggle with the mechanisms to use. I've evolved on how I see Hondos. It's not some public sphere place to me any more. I don't think it can be that and be useful. I think it has to be more like the conversation that started it - which is hanging out in a good friend's living room being safe to say what you really think. And insulting fellow guests etc in your friend's living room is a sure way to not be invited back.)


    The other thing is that Stilly mentioned homophobic slurs and that's clear-cut, but the issue back in the marriage debate was that the majority of the board felt that opposing gay marriage for any reason, no matter how politely and analytically stated, was inherently homophobic. So are we prepared to accept 'homophobic' arguments if they are not personal? In that case the policy on homophobia has to be clarified to account for it.


    Final thing: Yes, props to Stilly for the temporary cool down nature of the warning points. Feels like it makes for a less intense moderation process.


    • Like 1
  18. I'm on board with most of this. I'm not a fan of the arguments that turn into personal attacks especially.


    My big problem is how do you decide that the sin of bigotry has been committed? Who is the arbiter?


    We had a debate about gay marriage about ten to fifteen years ago devolve into the question of whether anyone opposing gay marriage is automatically homophobic and the consensus seemed to be yes, it was. Under these new rules, I can't see a debate about the topic happening because anyone opposed would get muzzled.

    Similarly with debating immigration policy and accusations of xenophobia, debating religion and Islamophobia, as well as queer issues and trans-phobia and bi-phobia.

    What about relatively new PC sensitivities like not calling people crazy because it's able-ist or not using words like fat or old etc?


    Where's the line? Who's drawing the line? Who's policing the line?

    And how can you have debates with a line there?

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  19. Are the MTV movie awards still a thing? I expect the Blockbuster awards are no more, so maybe the Oscars are trying to fill that gap?

    But yeah, this is a total backhanded compliment move. I expect it'll work though. The insult is subtle and if the DC vs Marvel movies debate (among other pop movie debates) has taught me anything it's that fans of the movies care about this kind of thing enough that the ceremony really will see a ratings boost from the people who usually wouldn't tune in.

  20. Yeah, the historical (in)accuracy's not my real problem now that I think of it. (I only read the book two hours ago, so I'm still reacting). 


    The reason the clergy/abuse stuff stood out to me in the first place was that it seemed so cliche and at odds with the thrust of the rest of the story which was about isolation and memory. I lived away from home starting at nine in a very non-abusive situation and that was painful anyway. The internal struggles Lemire was depicting were really connecting to me on that level. Just seemed unnecessary to complicate it with melodrama from external sources.


    Downie was more famous for being in the Canadian band The Tragically Hip. I like some of their music, especially after having it played at me on the radio all the time when I lived in Canada for a year.

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