30 Books in 2018 #17: Grayson By Tim Seely & Tom King

Depression’s a funny thing, when you come out the other side of it. I mean, the disease itself isn’t funny at all. But I’ve always found the odd transformations that occur during one of my “foggy times,” a little bit funny.

I had a rough week, last week. Nothing happened, particularly, I just, didn’t feel well. (Seriously, concerned friends and family, I’m good. It was like the mental health version of a cold or stomach bug!) When the fog lifted however, my mind snapped into place, looking to latch on to some old obsessions.

Plus I’d been doing some heavy lifting in the reading department, so I figured, yeah, let’s take a break with some sexy spy times with everyone’s favorite ex-acrobat, ex-superhero, double agent with buns of steel and a heart of gold.

Agent THIRTY SSSEEEVEEEENNNNN! *BA BOW BOW*

AKA Dick Grayson, AKA Nightwing, AKA Robin, AKA Batman for like a minute (A GLORIOUS MINUTE) AKA The Fictional Love Of My Life.

So, when your depression brain wakes up one day and says , “I miss Dick Grayson,” and the part of you that’s trying to cope thinks, “that’s it? That’s what you want this time? We don’t need to eat our weight in pasta? Or skip work and walk around the Met? Or just lay in bed with the covers over our head wondering what the point of getting out of bed is? You just want to read some comics and obsess about Dick Grayson’s butt? WE CAN TOTALLY DO THIS DEPRESSION BRAIN!” And then your depression brain goes, “Really? Cool! Now about that pasta…”

I’m not suggesting that you negotiate with brain weasels all the time, I’m just highlighting how low level this week’s funk was.

Anyway, I decided that since my crazy self missed Mr. Grayson, I’d reread and finish the spy series that bears his name. (And then probably read Nightwing: Rebirth…but I haven’t done that yet…) I went on Amazon, bought the soft cover collections, and realized I’d previosuly read about half the series, though remembered even less of it.

I enjoyed it immensely. Grayson is a really fun book, even if I can’t quite look at it objectively. Most comic fans have “their guy.” Dick Grayson is my guy, and Grayson is written for people who choose him as their guy. Here he’s the smartest, best, funniest and obviously prettiest boy in every room he enters. (I mean he usually is anyway, IMO.)

But Grayson in particular plays to the character’s strengths and history which makes it a fun read. The spy setting lets his abilities as a performer and man-skank (seriously he’s SOOO slutty. I love him.) shine, whereas the traditional Batman urban setting plays these down, focusing on the acrobatics and quips (Also great) (And in abundance here.)

It’s also got a fun cast, (Helena Bertinelli & Tiger are true treasures. Midnighter’s fun too!) and my favorite series of moments, when Dick reveals to his fellow Bat-kids that he faked his death. Jason punches him in the face while Tim lectures him. Barbara tells him that she wishes she could be surprised by how disappointed in him she is…which ouch. And Damian just flying tackle hugs him, and I cry forever. There’s a decent exploration of identity throughout the series and the way it shifts as we grow up and change. Given how much he’s changed (Robin, Nightwing, Batman, back to Nightwing) Dick’s the perfect character in mainstream comics to explore that with. And it’s explored prtty deeply.

Am I Straight

Also this happens…because FAN SERVICE!

Like a lot of tail end New 52 stuff, things sort of fall apart when the book is forced into the massive crossovers and complex retcons happening around it. While the Robin War stuff, which crossed over with We Are Robin and I would assume Robin and Red Hood And The Outlaws and Teen Titans, I guess, (What was even was Tim’s book at this point? But see what I mean about the confusion?) was interesting, it pulled you out of some pretty important Spyral action which then takes another couple of issues to pick up. But it’s a fun mystery with a bonkers conclusion that all ties back to the question of identity. And there’s a fun Coda featuring my new favorite Constantine story. So that’s fun.

I’m trying not not let this suck me down a dark hole of comics reading, because so much time and money. But I was happy to pop in and revisit, especially with Dick. I’d missed him so.

 

Agent 37

And did I mention the fanservice?

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The Loss Of The Blessing

I hate making my characters fight, but Marina’s at the end of her rope here!

The Marina Chronicle

When we got back to the palace I decided to study a bit. I’ve been trying to decifer some old stories about Queen Anessa, as a surprise for Annalise to cheer her up a little.

It isn’t going terribly well. The ancient Cammadie language is hard, and it doesn’t read well. The story were usually told out loud, rather than recorded so it’s hard to find strong records of anything.

“Lady Marina?” Elodie said quietly rousing me from an honestly far too focused amount of scribbling. “I’m sorry to disturb you.”

“It’s alright,” I said. “What is it?” She sighed and sat down. “Elodie are you alright?”

“Yes, I,” she sighed, “I don’t quite know where to begin.” I nodded again. “Lord Brayton is ill.” I exhaled.

“I thought it was something serious,” I said. “If that’s all.”

“He’s asking for you,” she said softly. “Captain Dugarry, that is, Lady…

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Cosplay Corner: March Disneybound Challenge Week 4

4 weeks! We’re almost done! Seriously, while I’m probably going to go back to my old trick of closet cosplaying once a week, it will be nice to go back to my old toss a little black dress on and run out the door in the morning ways. It’s just less time consuming.

Challenge

Anyhoodle! Let’s talk this week in Disneybounding!

March 21st

Theme: Moana Character

Character: Ta Fiti

Tefiti

It snowed.

Again.

So, my planned outfit for the day, (it was Maui and it was pretty great!) which was much springier got jettisoned. I came up with this Ta Fiti look quickly instead. I’m wearing a green sweater over my pink dress, and uh, that’s it. It’s actually a cute look that I kind of intend to repeat.

TeFiti Bound

March 22nd

Theme: Frozen

Character: Anna (Olaf’s Frozen Adventure Version)

Anna Snow

Anna might be the character I’ve Disneybounded the most, because I love her and find her clothes adorable. Anyway, this one was sorta lazy, but this blue top was the right shade, and again, it had snowed and I was staying at my mom’s so, my choices were limited.

Anna Snowbound

March 23rd

Theme: Rule Breaker

Character: Anya from Anastasia

Anya

love the movie Anastasia, and so I decided to do my rule breaker as Anya, the lost amnesiac orphan girl who is actually a lost princess. Anyway, I’m wearing jeans, and a brown tee shirt and my big baggy trenchcoat/blazer. I think it works.

Anya Bound

March 24th

Theme: Disney Dogs

Character: Jock from Lady And The Tramp

I didn’t post this one because I forgot, but I uh, managed to throw this together. The tee shirt is a Beatles tee (so, Northern English, not Scottish, but I thought it was cute.) with some black and grey in it. I’m also wearing red yoga pants, though you can’t see them here. I don’t have a picture though because my phone was being weird this morning.

March 25th

Theme: Alice in Wonderland

Character: The White Rabbit

PhotoPass_Visiting_MK_406428909371 (1).JPG

I didn’t get off my couch much on Sunday, so I decided to just skip it and for this section of the blog, throwback to my Fall Dapper Day outfit as the White Rabbit. I’m wearing a large white circle skirt, a gold tank top, red belt and sweater, I have my hair up in buns to be ears, and I’m wearing a “pocket watch” necklace. TADA! (Also, that’s Juli as the Chesire Cat!)

March 26th

Theme: Cinderella Characters

Character: Cinderella

Cinderella

I was obviously going to do Cinderella for this one. I decided to lean into the 2014 gown, since I have that blue top with the flower cut outs all over it. I went with brown for the base because of Cinderella’s “servant” outfit having a brown base.

Cinderella Bound

March 27th

Theme: 90’s Style

Character: Julie “The Cat” Gaffney from D2: The Mighty Ducks & D3: The Mighty Ducks 

Julie The Cat

OK, so I initially ordered a tee shirt that was meant to look like a Duck Jersey with Julie’s number (96) on the back. But it was out of stock and wasn’t going to make it here in time. But here’s the thing: D2 is my favorite movie of all time. I’ve watched it about 10,000 times. And Julie “The Cat” Gaffney is my favorite character in said movie. So this was kind of a no brainer.

Even though she only has like 5 lines. But really except for Charlie Conway none of the kids have like huge roles in that movie.

Anyway, I decided to lean into the “Team USA” aspect of the movie, because Julie was brought in as a ringer when The Ducks headed to the Junior Goodwill games. She then spent most of the tournament on the bench because Goldberg or whatever. BUT she is instrumental in the win of the final game, blocking a shot in the final shootout with Iceland, by hotshot Gunnar Stahl. (FUN FACT! The same actor who played Gunnar came back in D3 to play the goalie of the varsity team the Ducks challenge, Scooter Vanderbilt, who hits on Julie a couple of times there.) But you all know this because you’ve all seen the movie.

So, I’m wearing a blue tank top and skirt and a red cardigan, which, actually are kind of 90’s looking, but mostly just are USA colors. Julie is actually only a Duck for like 2 scenes. (In D3, when they go to prep school, they become The Warriors for the first 2/3s of the movie) Anyway, DUCKS FLY TOGETHER!

Julie The Cat Bound

Nerd Homework: Star Trek: The Next Generation

My college roommates all really liked Star Trek. (Except, Juli, maybe? I don’t know how she felt about it.) I did not.

I just, wasn’t interested in it. I liked the odd episode here or there. (“Mirror, Mirror” like a MALLFUCKER! To paraphrase Jay.) And I’d attempted to watch The Next Generation before, but always fell asleep during “Encounter At Farpoint,” the show’s really boring for the first few episodes, except for those times when it’s being actively bad.

But, back in November, when I had my three weeks of not having a job, I decided that I was going to push through and something amazing happened…

I fell in love with the show. I really passionately, have a lot of opinions about Star Trek now, and I um, didn’t expect that to happen.

Unfortunately, you know, for me, my opinions don’t really align with other Star Trek fans opinions. For instance, I like nothing better than when there’s a holodeck malfunction or Beverly does a play, or anything really, (BEVERLY CRUSHER FOR GOD!), or DEAR GOD Q does something whimsical, I am so happy.

But mostly, I was happy that TNG is basically The West Wing with a robot. Everyone’s a good person, and they want to do the right thing, but they’re placed in extraordinary circumstances and so they rise to the occasion.

And it’s great.

I mean sometimes it’s awful, but usually it’s great! Like 75% of the time it’s great.

Anyway, let’s talk about shipping. And by that I mean let’s talk about Jean-Luc Pickard and Beverly Crusher. Troi and Riker and Worf and whatever’s going on there, that can go away. (Not like, the three of them. They’re great. I like them as characters. Just, it’s a dumb love triangle) They are not important. What is important is when the beautiful space doctor who tap dances and the stuffy Shakesperian french captain flirt awkwardly and it’s the best and in the future they get married (but get divorced? The finale is confusing. BUT! Beverly becomes a captain. BECAUSE SHE’S THE BEST!) Anyway, they’re amazing. I love them, and I will talk about them ad naseum.

Also, there’s Data, who I am way more invested in than I thought I would. I want that dumb robot to have feelings damnit! (He doesn’t! BUT MAYBE HE DOES! He does have a cat.)

Anyway, I loved the show. My next round of Nerd Homework is Cowboy Bebop, and then I’m going to double fist Dragon Ball Z Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which basically means that I’m gonna watch a few episodes of each of those a week.

We shall see how this goes, you guys.

30 Books in 2018 #16: Everything Is Terrible And Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love And Loss by Stephanie Wittels Wachs

I used to have nightmares about my brother dying.

My older brother dropped out of college in 2004. This was the height of the Iraq and Afgan wars. There was a lot of talk about reinstating the draft. I was in high school, and anxiety ridden anyway. And I had this image that recurred again and again in my dreams of a plain wood coffin, draped in an American flag, and my perfect charismatic beautiful wonderful big brother, dead as a doornail inside of it.

This image was in my mind as I read Stephanie Wittels Wachs heartbreaking and stunningly beautiful memoir about her brother Harris Wittels, who was a comedy world golden boy, an actual genius at his trade, and more importantly, at least to Stephanie, a drug addict.

The memoir is written in broken grief stricken sections. Flashing through the first year after Harris’s death and the two years before that, beginning when Harris confessed to her about his addiction.

There were a lot of horrible and wonderful things in this book. But as I read about how Stephanie worked through my worst my nightmare, I felt uplifted. (I sometimes think I’m too Irish and depressing things uplift me…) Perserverence through grief is incredible, and the rawness that Stephanie displays throughout is breathtaking.

The book is less funny than you might expect. Stephanie is angry so it’s hard for her to display her brilliant brother in all of his comedic glory. By the way, that’s not her job, either. Harris Wittels was prolific in his short life and so much of it is out there for the world to see (or hear, dude was on a lot of podcasts…)

But it’s also possible that reading about someone having to live through what is literally my worst nightmare, losing a sibling, killed the comedy for me. But the book is very good! You should read it.

I’m take a week off from regular reading (WHAT?) because I’m gearing up my research planner brain for a trip to Paris! (It’s not until fall 2019, but I’m a crazy person.) And I want to dig into some guide books. Also I have some writing to do. BUT I may also read some comics collections. (AHHH!!! I’m opening up the void!)

Getting Snobby: A Rant

I try really hard to not judge other people’s taste in things. I also try not to hate on things, because making things is hard, getting things out into the world is even harder, (Check out The Marina Chronicle! New Entries every Thursday morning!)  and maybe your thing just isn’t for me. Also, walking around looking for shit to hate is exhausting, it’s much easier to just avoid things you don’t like. It’s not always possible and sometimes, things are unavoidable.

And oh boy, has it been tough this week on the unavoidable front.

I mentioned my myriad of issues with Ready Player Onethis book was very deeply, not for me in a lot of ways, which is fine, except for that I am, at the moment, feeling alone in that. Not in my web life, where my feminist nerd circles are happy to rant against it’s bro-ey fantasy fulfillment, it’s trash fire female characters and it’s tediously bad writing, But my real life, that’s different. Someone recently asked for book recommendations on facebook, and knowing this person’s taste I recommended Crazy Rich Asians, (But also like everyone, read Crazy Rich Asians.) There then proceeded to be about 10 people, who’s taste I generally respect and overlap with, recommending Ready Player One, which among other things, I don’t think this person will like, but you know what, it’s her call.

With books I have to be really careful, because people tend to tell me that I’m asking people to take it as seriously as I do. But I just want to scream, that no! That’s not it! I think the thing is bad! And yes, I do take it seriously, because I want to be a writer and I studied literature for a long time, and maybe you should listen to me when I say a book is bad, because like, I know what I’m talking about! I have a diploma and everything.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t bad books that I love. (Twilight…and…well, mostly Twilight.) But I know that bad things I like are bad. I cop to it. I don’t go around telling everyone they’re great.

Also, on Saturday, I met an adorable 16 year old theater kid on the train to NYC. I’m always happy when I meet teenage theater geeks, and I want to hug them and tell them: YES! EXIST! ENJOY THIS TIME IN YOUR LIFE! IT WILL NOT LAST BUT YOU WILL ALWAYS LOOK BACK ON IT FONDLY! She was obsessed with The Great Comet, (I really liked this kid!) and was on her way to see Hello Dolly! because to use her words, “OMG Bernadette! Right?” We touched on Dear Evan Hansen, which she loved but felt didn’t deserve it’s win over The Great Comet (AGREED)

I managed to keep this rant in. Even more than judging people’s reading and watching habits, I don’t judge people for liking bad music. I have terrible taste in music. I think The Backstreet Boys should be considered high art. I adore ABBA, and own, not I’ve downloaded to stream, paid actual money for all of Katy Perry’s albums.

But that’s not the case when it comes to showtunes. Oh sure, I like my share of trash and mediocrity. (The Pirate Queen, table for 1!) But generally, I know bad when I hear it, versus knowing when something is just not my thing. (To use one composer as an example: Elton John. Lestat: The Musical, bad. Billy Eliot, excellent, not to my taste.)

And now we get to Pasek and Paul.

Sigh.

I don’t like them. I don’t think they’re particularly good. They’re fine. The do serviceable work. I thought as a cohesive whole, La La Land was spectacular. But I remember next to nothing about it’s songs, it’s the strong visuals and good performances that made that movie. Not the songs. A Christmas Story is a serviceable musical with again, no real memorable songs. And then there are the big two. Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman.

None of these songs are great musical theater songs, except maybe “Waving Through The Window,” and “You Will Be Found.” The rest are vapid, derivative, predictable with next to no lyrical depth or anything interesting going on musically. They also wrote that horrendous “Running To You” song from The Flash musical, which following after Rachel Bloom’s delightful, “I’m Your Super Friend,” was particularly egregious and all of the dumb mushy duets from Smash season 2. (Ok, fine I listen to “Heart Shaped Wreckage” and “Rewrite This Story” a lot but only because Jeremy Jordan’s voice is from God, and “Original” is still mega dumb.)

And why does this annoy me so much? So some guys made some dumb, derivative, commercial art, so what?

I wouldn’t care, except for that their dumb derivative commercial art is being talked about and rewarded over actually good masterful art in the same genre.

Look, I get it, Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t exactly hurting for prestige, but I still burns me that fricking “City of Stars,” beat “How Far I’ll Go” for Best Song. And it really really burns me that The Great Comet and Come From Away lost out on Tony’s to a stupid vapid pop musical with dumb bad songs. And it really really super burns me that because of timing and this inexplicable prestige of theirs, that they’re always going to be mentioned alongside one of the greatest musical theater composers of all time (Miranda) and the pop musical composers we should be talking about instead (Sarah Barielles and The Lopezes) and are getting mainstream attention that could be going to someone who the mainstream hasn’t found yet and might be better than all of the aforementioned people. (RACHEL BLOOM! RACHEL BLOOM! RACHEL BLOOM!) 

Anyway, all of this was just a roundabout way of saying that instead of Ready Player One people should read Crazy Rich Asians, and instead of doing literally anything else, people should watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

In The Temple

Characters are going to do some actual magic this week you guys! But it’s still mostly to facilitate talking about their feelings.

It’s been almost a year. You guys get how this works now right?

The Marina Chronicle

The Temple to Rana in Dovetail is probably my second favorite place in the city after the library. It was always a safe a happy place for me.

My uncle built it for my aunt after they were engaged and it was opened just after their marriage. Several sisters came from Phania to help establish, what, Sister Mara, who taught me before she died, called, “a softer order.”

Annalise and I come here at least once a week, usually more, now, and it made sense to me that she wanted to come today. We walked in to the large glittering space, the salt pool at it’s center to find several sisters stop their usual bustling to bow to us, and to Eric and Raymond, who joined us. Lefty and Athena waited outside, Athena because she find prayer boring, and Lefty because Phanian men consider it an insult to the Goddess…

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