Thursday, December 12, 2013

Capitalism in school today

The kids filed into class Monday morning. They were all very excited. Their weekend assignment was to sell something, and then give a talk on salesmanship.

Little Sally led off. "I sold Girl Scout cookies and I made $30" she said proudly. "My sales approach was to appeal to the customer's civil spirit, and I credit that approach for my obvious success."

"Very good", said the teacher.

Little Debbie was next. "I sold magazines" she said. "I made $45 and I explained to everyone that magazines would keep them up on current events.

"Very good, Debbie", said the teacher.

Eventually, it was Little Johnny's turn. The teacher held her breath.

Little Johnny walked to the front of the classroom, and dumped a box full of cash on the teacher's desk. "$2,467", he said.

"$2,467!" cried the teacher, "What in the world were you selling?"

"Toothbrushes", said Little Johnny.
"Toothbrushes" echoed the teacher. "How could you possibly sell enough toothbrushes to make that much money?"

"I found the busiest corner in town", said Little Johnny. "I set up a Dip & Chip stand, and I gave
everybody who walked by a free sample." They all said the same thing: "Hey, this tastes like dog poop!" Then I would say, "It is dog poop. Wanna buy a toothbrush? I used the President Obama method of giving you some crap, dressing it up so it looks good, telling you it's free, and then making you pay to get the bad taste out of your mouth."

Little Johnny got five stars for his assignment. Bless his little heart.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Goodreads review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked LetterCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the few books to remind me that life is beautiful yet heartbreaking at the same time. Right from the start, Franklin nailed it and kept me wanting more. Having recently taken an interest in the southern gothic genre, I was pleasantly surprised by this character driven crime thriller. You have Larry and Silas -- who are both connected to a girl that went missing when Larry took her to a drive-in movie when he was young. With that in mind, Franklin's use of both, should I say, past and present narrative didn't feeling jarring whenever he transitioned because he maintained that balance. I also liked the used of narrative concerning the childhood of Larry and Silas because it provided a background for the characters as a way of letting me know were they came from and also as a way of illustrating how their past impacted the plot. If Franklin left those moments out, I don't think I would have been all that interested in the characters.

I found it interesting that in the present day, Silas and Larry didn't have the friendship they did when they were young, which probably had to do with what happened at the drive-in. In the book, Silas is the town constable and Larry lives in solitude. It's as if they were having a conversation even though, for most of the book, they didn't have contact with one another. I could probably analyze that to death and point out some examples, but I'll say the way that Franklin utilized that kind of reminded me of those police procedurals or what have you where you'll have investigations taking place. From what I recall, Larry and Silas do come in contact with one another in the last few chapters, but you'll have to read the book in order to get the full understanding of that.

I thought, for the most part, the story moved along at a pretty good pace and I was never really bored with it. Franklin's use of poetic language was something I caught onto quickly, and I'd say it helped to draw me in.

Overall, I rather enjoyed Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and I hope you do too if you decide to pick it up. I'm glad I've been exploring the southern gothic genre lately, especially after giving this one a try.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

SWC Videos

So I went to Spirit West Coast Monterey from the 1st to the 3rd and had a great time as these videos depict. There weren't as many people there in previous years, but it was still a blessing. The video that is a direct non-YouTube upload is of The Red Airplanes performing. The sound on them cut got off of it when I uploaded it on YouTube, so I thought I'd just post it as a direct file. I did record one of Building 429, but the sound got cut off, so perhaps there's a way around that. Enjoy the videos.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Goodreads review: All the Pretty Horses

All The Pretty HorsesAll The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I said in my review of Blood Meridian, I had been hoping to read some more of McCarthy's work and I'm glad I did. I didn't know what to expect with going into All the Pretty Horses and I was pleasantly surprised. The lush descriptions of the landscape and the overall poetic language were what drew me in. I think that both aspects complemented each other really well since they suited the almost childlike nature of the prose. I guess it just makes sense to me that sometimes it's proper for one to have that kind of, I guess, view of the west, particularly in the Texas and Mexico areas where John Grady Cole and Lacey Rawlins and others spent a majority of their time.

In regards to the dialogue, I found it to be full of meaning throughout the book and I think it is something that merits further study. To cite an example, I am reminded of the conversation between John Grady Cole and Alejandra:

What do you want me to do? he said.
I want you to be considerate of a young girl's reputation.
I never meant not to be.
She smiled. I believe you, she said. But you must understand. This is another country. Here a woman's reputation is all she has.
Yes mam.
There is no forgiveness, you see.
There is no forgiveness. For women. A man may lose his honor and regain it again. But a woman cannot. She cannot.

I could've picked out other examples because there are other ones that did stand out to me, but I figured I'd go with something simple that can still have conclusions drawn from it. I enjoyed the dialogue between the male characters in the beginning of the book as well. Even though the book is probably McCarthy's lightest -- or least dark -- it still has moments of darkness and bleakness that provide an interesting change of pace, such as the following example:

He thought the world's heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world's pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.

That's rather dark but effective.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I feel that everything tied together quite well in the end. I'm not sure if I'd recommend it to everybody, but it since it's probably McCarthy's least disturbing book, it's a good place to start.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Moved by faith:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Having recently tied that verse to memory, I've been reflecting on it a lot lately and it's made quite a difference in my walk. I was driving home from school on Tuesday and I was thinking about how faith isn't hoping about that God can -- it's knowing that He will. Now I've come to the conclusion before that faith is very much a living, breathing, and active thing and the intimate moment with the Holy Spirit I had the other day while driving home reaffirmed that. The moment lasted most of the drive home and the way I felt His touch was a result of my reflection. His touch choked me up inside and I'm not sure what it meant other than the fact that the Holy Spirit was reaffirming the fact that faith is very much a living, breathing, and active thing. I have been trusting in Him that this girl and I that I've talking to off this Christian dating site will meet in August, so maybe that moment I had had something to do with that. She did say she wanted to meet about a month or two ago, so I can see how God has been working in it so far, which I continue to acknowledge. Regardless of when we do meet, though, I don't think it's a coincidence that we crossed paths and I do think He wants us to meet. Also, with regards to faith, one can never really know for sure, but that doesn't mean that one should give up on trusting in God for something because it's in His timing and because He knows what's best for His people. It's best to let Him worry about the details anyway. Since one can really know for sure, that aspect is kind of paradoxical because as I said, faith isn't hoping about that God can -- it's knowing that He will. Christianity at it's heart is paradoxical, though, but that's not gonna discourage me from following Christ.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Goodreads review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1 by Kevin Eastman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read some of the early Mirage Turtle comics, I knew what I was getting into, but it was nice to not have to dig through my comics again just to read the first issue. I have a collected edition of issues 4-6, I believe, in color format, but I liked having everything all in one place and seeing it all in black and white. To me, it was like reading Turtle comics for the first time all over again. It was also good to go back and read what got me into indie comics in the first place. A lot of material is covered in this volume and it really helped to me see how Eastman and Laird matured not only in terms of storytelling, but also in terms of improving their artwork. Even though they their stuck to their roots -- mostly Jack Kirby and Frank Miller -- I liked seeing how Eastman and Laird's art styles maintained consistency not only because they were both doing the art, but also because they improved so much in so little time. That aspect was pointed out the annotations from what I remember, so I guess you could say it was reinforced. I truly enjoyed reading this volume and I will say that since it's practically the size of a DC absolute edition, I didn't mind the art being enlarged because I felt that it brought out a lot of detail and, as a result, the art popped off the pages. It's teams like Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird that will forever have left their mark in comics history and this graphic novel is proof of that. And even though the Turtles started out as a parody of Daredevil, Eastman and Laird have certainly impacted the way stories are told. Perhaps I'll read some of the other volumes if I get the chance.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Big Wow pics and highlights

So my friend Luke and I went to Big Wow Comicfest 2013 this past weekend and we had a great time. We saw a lot of neat stuff and got some good deals.

We walked by the horror hosts and talked with them at their booth.

They were really cool and they had a panel about the history or horror posting as part of Creatures Con 2.

I talked to Steve Englehart for a bit and he was happy to sign my copy of Avengers: The Serpent Crown.
After I got his autograph, Luke and I went to get lunch at Subway and Steve was in the line behind us. I never had that experience before with anyone who had worked in the industry, so it was cool and kinda funny.
We walked around some more after lunch and saw a remote controlled R2-D2 as well as some stuff the Bay Area Ghostbusters had set up.

We even checked out some awesome artwork by the talented Corey Bass...

Then we walked around some more and I had amazing artist Geof Darrow sign my copy of Hard Boiled...
He seemed like a pretty easy-going guy. I guess he hadn't signed a lot of copies of Hard Boiled that day, so I guess as a result of my remembering it, he did a sketch of the main character as part of his autograph.

Our last main attraction of Saturday was having Herb Trimpe sign my Hulk and Rawhide Kid books...
On Sunday, after getting our picture taken with Stan Lee, we went back to the Creatures Con 2 booth and we talked to Ernie Fosselius a bit about animation since I had done some myself and asked him about what he had done...
He was pretty cool and I was glad to have talked to him since I didn't get a chance to in previous years. My friend is holding up a card with John Stanley's (of Creature Features) autograph as kind of a joke because Stan Lee was there on Sunday and Ernie said we could get an autographed photo of John Stanley for 100 bucks.
After walking around some more and getting some good deals on comics, we checked out the awesome artwork of Charles Yoakum...

He was working on the Batman artwork (pictured above) when we stopped by and it was interesting to hear what he had to say about scaling down large 18"x24" original artwork down for use in comics, magazines, and whatnot.
All in all, we had a good time. I look forward to next year's convention.