The Art of Reviewing Comics

I wanted to put down my fingers for the day, and stop writing to that I could focus more on my exam revisions for mammalian biochemistry, but while booking tickets to Pitchfork I have been thinking about a post Warren Ellis put on his discussion board . THE STARRY WISDOM OF WARREN: On Magazines About Comics is a discussion in which Ellis addresses the disappearance of intelligent and insightful reviews of comics, and challenges reviewers to learn a lesson from music reviewers of 80’s magazines; to actually know something about the art of comic creation, and express the emotions that are ellicited though the experience of the comic. This point is directed towards the mass of comic review sites/blogs that are absolute crap, and written by people who may love comics, but are not writers and qualified critics with an indepth understanding for the medium. I don’t know if my aborted attempt at a comics site <www.comicsmarketplace.com> falls into this category. I am sure if I had done more reviews, it would have. At the moment I am taking a break from that since comics are too expensive to keep up with in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and I am enjoying diving into some groovy literature and philosophy.

I can say that since the fall of www.thefourthrail.com I have yet to find a reliable or decent sight for the weekly comics reviews. I liked Randy and Don’s Fourth Rail, because they often reviewed the same books having a dialectic opinion I think often resulted in a much more objective review that still encapsulated the subjective emotions of each of the reviewer.

I am by no means a professional writer or reviewer of comics. I hope that when I return to The States that it will be something for me to dabble with to try to pick up the craft, but I certainly have my work and critics ahead of me. Push Forward!

In the meantime I hope that some critics and better yet some creators come together to form a Forum of Five to truge through the muck of all the weekly comics releases to find the blood diamonds to push the frontiers of comics into the future. If only we had Spider Jerusalem…

I think that a site with creator critiques would be really insightful since many comics creators have a true passion and knowledge for the medium, but I think that the politics and friendships between the reviewers and the reviewee would lead to some more Gaiman/McFarlane-esque tensions. Sharpen Your Teeth!

Trinity College: Commencement and The Pursuit of Cool

On the 20th of May, 2007 The Class of 2007 graduated from Trinity College. As a member of the 2008 class at Trinity, I was hoping to give a final well to the collective consciousness of the Class of 2007, but alas, I have been exiled to a fate of finals on the Isle of Eire. While I will certainly keep in touch with many of the friends I have made over the last three years, I know that there are many friendly acquaintances I will never see again. While this is a natural part of growing up and moving on, I can not help these transient and sentimental feelings.

Enough itchy eye material. I also really wanted to be in attendence for Commencement, because one of my favorite authors, Tom Wolfe, known most notably to me for The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test, was giving the Commencement Address to the Class of 2007 (which included his son).
This is likely the first and last interesting speaker to speak at a Trinity Commencement. Last year we awarded a Doctorate of Letters to woman from Iran, who was a Nobel Prize winner, but instead of having her give the Commencement Address, some former-CEO of TIAA-CREFF and Boeing picked up the mic. He started off giving an interesting speech about how we need to recognize globalization in our lives, and then lost my interest when he started enumerating how to exploit that. My friend Ames and I bounced half-way through it to have a smoke on the third floor of the First-Year residence hall he was RA of, but first we needed to steal our friend Todd’s strawberry papers.

Pretty much this commencement address propelled us into an experience of utter intoxication and self-obliteration. By the time we returned they were already at “M” for diplomas. Soon after it began to rain so hard I felt like Sebastian from The Little Mermaid during his song “Under The Sea”. The only way to counter this was to hide in the tents of graduates I knew to chug beer, wine, champagne, or cocktails. Soon enough I was drunk and commanded by my friend Sarah to steal some bottles of wine from her tent, along with flowers, and take them to Cleo AX(the literary organization we both belong to).

On my way there with two bottles of wine in my outter sport jacket pocket, a freshly opened bottle in my inner jacket pocket, and a tray of flower arrangements between my arms, I ran into my organic chemistry professor/biochemistry advisor. He had dranken a similar amount of beverages as me, and we had a beauteous heart-to-heart confessing or respect and appreciation for one another (This was of course before the Fall of 2006 when I approached him about the idea of dropping my chemistry major to create an interdisciplinary major in Science and Buddhism, and he told me I would never get a job, my life would be a waste, and I would live at home dependent on my parents for the rest of my life. You should have witnessed what he said when I told him I was going through with it.).

Anyway, I got back to Cleo to proceed with an all out last hurrah. We played some pool. Drank some beers and wine, and then we got high. No! Not like that! We walked to the third floor to gain some altitude. Chuck’s bong was attended to. The circle was formed; all was prepared, but we needed to wait for the arrival of Ames after an emergency phone call (and also the parent of one of those forming the circle). They both arrived and the ritual begain. It was 6PM.

The next thing I know I am back in my bed looking at my watch that engraves a greed “1:15″ into my mind. I call my friend Sarah to say good-bye. She was asleep, but awoke to give me a proper send-off, which amongst other fine items included a sweet executive leather chair with wheels! After I kissed her good-night and good-bye, I rode my newly acquired chair down to Cleo to see if anyone was around. All was dead except for Shon and Andrew moping around and stealing left-overs from the food orgy downstairs. Shon is a father now.

I found out the next day that the reason why Ames called me, was because he was being stalked like small prey by a gigantic tiger-like nymphomaniac (whom he nailed some nights before in the empty and abandoned room of one of his first-year residents), and needed to hide-out.

End Digression.

Anyway, this is the press release Trinity sent out about Wolfe’s address. I find it quite appropriate for the crowd he was addressing. If the shoe fits…

Liberal Arts the Key to the Tyranny of Cool, Tom Wolfe Tells Class of 2007 at Trinity College Commencement
HARTFORD, Conn., May 20—Tom Wolfe, legendary journalist, author, and Parent ’07, urged the Class of 2007 members to use their liberal arts education to free themselves from the tyranny of trying to be cool during his speech at Trinity College’s 181st Commencement today.“The urge to be cool is something that seizes everyone’s life,” Wolfe said, describing it as more powerful than sex, greed or pride. The need to be accepted by “the inner ring” of coolest students at any school is expressed in dressing a certain way (tee-shirts, shorts and flip-flops) or engaging in excessive behaviors, Wolfe said.

And, it doesn’t end there. “Cool is going to dog you the rest of your life. It simply gets weirder,” he said. Making his case, Wolfe went on to skewer elite hedge fund managers, who wear $4,000 gold belt buckles with frayed jeans, scorn the idea of answering to a board of directors, and aspire to be rude. Wolfe also described the popular “green” movement as a politically correct way to be spiritual. “Above all it is not cool to let it be known you have religious beliefs,” he said.

Wolfe also poked fun at certain intellectuals, artists, and show business types, caught up in the pursuit of cool.

In the end, Mr. Wolfe offered an alternative.
“To me, the way out of being cool, of always looking for the inner ring, is to remember the power that the liberal arts have given you,” Wolfe told the 514 members of the Class 2007, the 39 Master’s Degree recipients, and the thousands of others gathered at Commencement.

Prior to his speech, Wolfe received a degree of Doctor of Letters from his son, Tommy ’07. Mr. Wolfe’s most memorable works include such bestsellers as The Bonfire of the Vanities, a novel depicting the money-crazed 1980s in New York City and The Right Stuff, a nonfiction account of the extraordinary exploits of astronauts and rocket pilots, published in 1987. His most recent novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, is a controversial epic about campus life, published in 2004.

Other honored guests receiving awards included Christine Burchyett Brewer, a Grammy award-wining vocalist whose international career has included performances with The Metropolitan Opera, the Opera de Lyon, the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony; she received a degree of Doctor of Music.”

Amygdalin: Vitamin B17?

I ran across this some time ago, but wanted to post it as a reminder to return to it when I am not studying for mammalian biochemistry exams.

Amygdalin has been claimed by many respected scientists to be a chemical compound that is effective in preventing and combating cancer. These claims have lead to amydgalin being termed Vitamin B17. It is apparently an anti-oxidant with a cyanide functional group, and found in high concentrations in apricot seeds, almonds, peas, lentils and other natural and commonly consumed plants.

To get a quick background read the Wikipedia page on Amygdalin, World Without Cancer: The Story of Vitamin B17, and The Little Cyanide Cookbook; Delicious Recipes Rich in Vitamin B17.

It is possible that this is just quacky new-wave medical bullshit, but I recognize the corruption within the FDA and government via pharmaceutical giants. If you don’t believe me, check out the story of Aspartame (there is a great documentry on YouTube that I don’t have the time to track down right now).

Whether or not B17 is a wonder drug I will continue to eat almonds (high in B17 concentration), becasue they are delicious, filled with protein (essential amino acids), high good fat/fatty acid content, and they smell like cyanide! Mhmm…Almonds!

Starcraft II

The Yeti confirmed the rumor. Starcraft II is indeed being developed. The graphics of the game trailer are some of the best I have ever seen!

For those of you who live underground, Starcraft was created by the videogame company Blizzard, who has also made the Warcraft and Diablo game universes. Check it!

Black-Out

Ahhhh…

It is very refreshing to finally gulp down some fresh cyberspace after finally awakening from an almost two month coma. During my slumber I dreamt of travels through Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna, London, Edinburgh, and the northern coast of the Isle of Eire from Belfast to Galway. When I regain my sentient-net senses I will manifest some digital images of my imaginings of such a journey.

What else did I experience in my slumber? Something tells me I had recurring nightmares of going to Mammalian Biochemistry, Existentialism, and Irish Politics and Society modules, and completed several assignments. I dreampt that I ascended the mightly neolithic fortress of Cave Hill in Belfast, only to jump off and descend like a feather attached to a dive-bombing eagle. I created a world of entertainment in the form of films: Mutual Appreciation, Funny Ha-Ha, This is England, Spider-man III, 28 Weeks Later, 23, The Fly, Crumb, The Deer Hunter, Waiting, Videodrone, Scanners, Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy; the televisions series Heroes, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, Transformers, Battlestar Galactica; attended CSS; read American Gods, Being and Nothingness, Nausea, The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, and Miracleman.

I am sure I imagined other happenings in my sub-conscious awareness, but they are not immediately recalled, and thereby were probably the most significant and revealing of the ultimate nature of reality. Is it just me or is it a human plague to forget the most important and significant things in our life, and only remember those things that are part of our dronelike routines.

I am blabbering. I should be plugging into the rest of the net and absorbing information to expand my consciousness and awareness throughout the world, but I think I am going to take a nap, wherein I will study some mammalian biochemistry, and the process of N-glycosylation. I lead an exciting life, but only in dreams.

Kieran: This shit is the product of your motivation. You are a plague to my procrastination and human growth hormone to my solitude. I hope you are endemic.

Power Sharing and Northern Ireland

BBC has this to say about the deal struck between the DUP and Sein Fein Parties in Northern Ireland:

Historic N Ireland deal reached

DUP's Ian Paisley (left) and Gerry Adams (right) of Sinn Fein

Historic day: the two leaders sat side by side

Northern Ireland’s arch-rival leaders Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams have agreed a power-sharing deal at historic talks. The two men agreed to form a joint executive on 8 May to run the province. Their first ever direct talks were held at Stormont, the province’s parliament.

Mr Paisley, leader of the Protestant DUP, and Mr Adams of the mainly Catholic Sinn Fein, have been implacable opponents for decades.

The DUP wants to keep British rule. Sinn Fein calls for a united Ireland.

Mr Paisley is expected to be first minister in the new administration, while Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein – the political wing of the IRA – would be deputy first minister.

Mr Paisley said the DUP was committed to full participation in government and Mr Adams said it was a “new era”.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was a very important day for the people of Northern Ireland.

Everything we have done over the last 10 years has been a preparation for this moment
Tony Blair

The British and Irish governments had said they would shut the assembly if an executive was not agreed on Monday.

However, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain later said that deadline might be allowed “to slip” for a few weeks if the parties agreed to work together.

Mr Adams – wearing his Easter lily to commemorate those who died in the 1916 Irish rebellion – and Mr Paisley were seated at one corner of a table at Stormont.

The Northern Ireland assembly was suspended in October 2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont.

A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place since that date.

‘Binding resolution’

In the assembly election earlier this month, the DUP and Sinn Fein emerged as the two largest parties.

After Monday’s meeting, Mr Paisley said: “Our goal has been to see devolution returned in a context where it can make a real, meaningful improvement in the lives of all the people of this part of the United Kingdom.

“On Saturday, the DUP executive overwhelmingly endorsed a motion committing our party to support and participate fully in government in May of this year – this is a binding resolution.”

Mr Adams said he welcomed Mr Paisley’s statement.

“I believe the agreement reached between Sinn Fein and the DUP – including the unequivocal commitment made by their party executive and reiterated today – to the restoration of political institutions on 8 May marks the beginning of a new era of politics on this island,” he said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Why wait six weeks? The taxpaying people of Northern Ireland are fed up with the games politicians are playing
Chris, Belfast

“The basis of the agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP follows Ian Paisley’s unequivocal and welcome commitment to support and participate fully in the political institutions on 8 May.”

Mr Blair said it was “a very important day for the people of Northern Ireland, but also for the people and the history of these islands”.

“Everything we have done over the last 10 years has been a preparation for this moment.”

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said this had “the potential to transform the future of this island”.

“This morning saw unprecedented and very positive developments in Northern Ireland.”

An order signed by the Northern Ireland secretary restarted devolution at midnight.

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown promised an extra £1bn if devolution was back on Monday, on top of £35bn pledged by the government over four years.

The power-sharing executive will have four DUP ministers, three Sinn Fein, two from the Ulster Unionist Party and one from the Social Democratic and Labour Party.”

I am still trying to see if this is actually a good thing. Only time will tell. A brief survey of my friends from Northern Ireland, whether they are Republicans or Nationalists, informed me that both sides are equally hesitant, and that May 6th (the date power sharing is to begin) is where we should keep a careful eye.

Ishikawa

In the summer of 2002 I lived in Komatsu, Japan (on the Ishikawa prefecture) with the Murai family. I am writing a grant to spend the summer there again. I never thought anything going on in Ishikawa would warrent world attention. I guess I was wrong.

Earthquakes rock Pacific nations

Earthquake damage, Japan

An earthquake of magnitude 7.1 has struck off the west coast of Japan’s largest island, Honshu. At least one person was killed and 150 were reportedly injured by the tremor which was felt in the capital, Tokyo.

A tsunami warning was issued for a short time in Ishikawa prefecture, with swell of up to 50cm reported.

Meanwhile, two quakes – measured at 7.2 and 6.0 by the US – hit near Vanuatu in the southern Pacific Ocean. There were no reports of damage or casualties.

The larger quake struck at 1140 (0040 GMT Sunday), and was followed 28 minutes later by the magnitude 6.0 quake.

Both were centred 335km (210 miles) south-east of the capital, Port Vila.

Police said they were checking remote islands where the quake was closer to land areas.

Seismically active

The Japan earthquake struck at 0942 (0042 GMT). Its epicentre was 300km (200 miles) north-west of Tokyo, Japan’s meteorological agency said.

Map

Aftershocks and tremors were detected throughout the day, with a 5.3-magnitude quake reported at 1815 local time (0915 GMT).

Television pictures showed buildings in the Ishikawa prefecture shaking violently for about 30 seconds and Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that several buildings had collapsed.

The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Hong Kong says there are also reports of landslides, a ruptured water main and roads being buckled by the jolt.

A 52-year-old woman died in Wajima, a resort and fishing town on the western side of the peninsula, after being trapped under a stone lantern that toppled in her garden, reports said.

“I wasn’t able to stand at all, it was really terrible”, one woman in Wajima told NHK.

Many of those injured were hit by falling debris or broken glass and are being treated in hospital, with some said to be badly hurt.

Government troops have been sent to the area to assist with the clear up and warnings have been issued of further aftershocks in the affected region.

Damaged houses in western Japan

Wooden houses were badly damaged by the Japan quake

About 1,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and given temporary shelter in Wajima, reports say.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas.

In October 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck the Niigata region in northern Japan, killing 65 people and injuring more than 3,000.

In 1995 a magnitude 7.2 tremor killed more than 6,400 people in the city of Kobe.”

I hope my host family is ok.

Salute Your Shorts!

Another Classic! Salute Your Shorts!

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