Saturday, January 07, 2006

Rapid Reviews - 7 December 2005

Slowly, slowly, trying to catch up on my reviews. If I continue at this pace, I might have a year-end wrap-up post by July...

Conan & The Demons of Khitai #3: Eh. It's heroic fantasy at it's best, and I'm enjoying the story. But this installment just left me wanting. The tragic deaths of the brother and sister seemed ill-timed, as well. I generally want more from a penultimate issue of a mini. 2 starfish

Battle Hymn #5: "A New Age Dawning": I don't know how I expected this mini to end, but this was DEFINITELY not it. Overall I enjoyed this one. Lots of very nice little touches. 3 starfish

Angel: Old Friends #1: We finally get to see who survived the final episode of Angel, as the gang starts to pull together to fight a vampire with a familiar face stalking the streets. I like, but I really think that maybe I should be waiting for collections on these. $4 a pop is just too much, and this issue didn't even have a text back-up story like the ones in the last mini. 2 1/2 starfish

JSA #80: "Lost & Found" part three of three: AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! That was my response as soon as I saw who the villain really was. Another one of my least favorite retcons (because it was so unnecessary) pops back into the DC Universe. Annoying annoying annoying. Ah well. Such is life. 2 starfish

Outsiders #31: "Out-Of-Town Work": I'm so very uninterested in the cosmic side of the DC Universe that most of the action in this book just made me yawn. Oh, I'll keep reading it as long as hubby-Eric gets it, but I'm just not all that impressed with it. 2 starfish

Superman #224: "Focus": A nice little tale of contrasts between Lex Luthor and Superman. I'm really not up on the current "history" of Lex and Clark's relationship, but this story implies that, like on Smallville, they knew each other as young men. And oddly, Lex gains inspiration from Clark while on a quest to kill Superman. The contrast is in where Superman gains his inspiration. Not a bad tale, all told. 2 1/2 starfish

Justice League Unlimited #16: "Smashing Through The Snow!": Have I mentioned lately that I really like this book? It's probably closest to my ideal superhero book in many ways. A huge team, with the focus changing depending on who the writers want to emphasize. Anyway, this issue deals with a prisoner who escapes on Christmas in the hopes of seeing his son, but is stopped just short of his goal. I love the resolution, the thinking that went into this. Even though I saw the ending coming from a mile away, I still enjoyed the book. Especially the way Atom Smasher's "eyes" managed to convey so much of his emotion. 3 1/2 starfish

Powers #15: I don't know what to make of this one. The main story was straightforward enough, but the ending made no sense. Guess I'll have to wait until next issue. 2 1/2 starfish

Age of Bronze #22: "Betrayal 3": Paris attempts a night raid to kill his enemy, but fails or course. In the meantime, Achilles honor is slapped around when Agamemnon forgets to invite him to the victory feast. Reading the Iliad as a teen, the characters all seemed like cardboard cutouts moving across a board. This is the first adaptation of the story I've ever seen that makes the people come alive and explains their motives and desires. If you any interest in the Trojan War at all, get this series. 3 1/2 starfish

JLA: Classified Cold Steel #1: "The Hidden World": The look of Aquaman sets the time of this story for us nicely. The artwork is nice, as I would expect from Moeller. The story is standard fare, but might improve in the final part. Overall, a good book. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. 2 1/2 starfish

-by Tegan at 7:03 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

Review Copy Reviews

I'm well behind on these, but since Boom! Studios was nice enough to send 'em, I'm nice enough to read 'em.

Fused Tales #1: This is an anthology of three stories about a guy who gets trapped inside a robot. Doesn't sound so great, but the stories were very good. The first story deals with the robot helping out in Iraq, the second with a giant squid robot in an underwater fight, and the third with the personal cost of becoming a robot. There is no origin story, but you pick up more than enough to understand what happened to the guy. It's a great little package of tales, well worth seeking out. Especially if you like killer robot action. 3 starfish

10: I'm not big on violence comics. A comic that just shows a bunch of people shooting each other wouldn't normally even blip on my radar, much less get any kind of good rating from me. This one... this one is deeper though. I won't pretend to understand exactly what happened in the comic. I suspect I'd have to read it a couple more times to figure it out. I don't really want to do that, what with the shooting and the violence and all. But it did make me think, and think hard. The situation is both ridiculous and terrifying. What if you got a note like that, a "kill or be killed" note that seemed to indicate a deadly game that you couldn't opt out of but couldn't play? Each person's reaction would be different, and might lead to the situations we see in the book. And, of course, the big question would be "who started it?" Who sent the guns and the notes? An absolutely freaky book. Read at your own risk. 3 starfish

-by Tegan at 10:33 AM Seattle time - Permalink  


Yay. The Comic Treadmill included me in "Nine ladies blogging" of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Dorothy gets more praise.

Johnny B's NFL Playoff Picks, for the first week of playoffs.

The Modulator directs us to tax advice for 2006.

Another story for my in-laws: Missing Pug triggers DNA tests.

After a boy was accused of a felony for suggesting that fellow students hit "refresh" to slow a website, the site crashed when Fark, Digg, and Slashdot linked to it.

Yup, this about sums it up. *sigh*

The latest on Sony and DRM: Law student files claim against Sony, Canadians sue Sony, and More on Coldplay's DRM.

Jack London took pictures of the devastation after the 1906 SF Earthquake. MetaFilter has the links. Wow.

-by Tegan at 10:00 AM Seattle time - Permalink  

Friday, January 06, 2006

Fangirls Unite?

The women in comics rants continue. I have very mixed feelings on the issue.

On the one hand, I enjoy comic books. In particular the DC heroes. I'm a big fan of Aquaman. I like many of the others. I like the books. I read many of them faithfully.

On the other hand, I hate the portrayal of women in comic books. I hate the treatment of women creators and shop owners in the business. And I detest the way some men drool over any woman who reads comic books as if we are their own personal fantasy come true. Some of them even act that way when the woman in question is wearing her wedding ring prominently.

But what can I do? It's clear that there's a festering rage among some women about this nastiness. But if I want to continue to read comic books, I can't avoid some of the crap that spews out unabated. As Lea said, "Previews and Wizard are comics' two biggest print faces, and they're -embarassing-." Wizard I can simply refuse to buy. But Previews is impossible to avoid if I want to make sure I get the comics I want. And I admit I feel assaulted almost every time I go through Previews. I tend to try to only go through it once each month, and write down what I find (hence my flipping through Previews posts) rather than endure it more than once.

And yet, I'm sure there are guys out there reading this thinking, "C'mon, it's not that bad! You're exaggerating!" No, actually, I'm not. I made the mistake of taking Previews in to show something to someone at work. She was convinced it was a catalog for porn enthusiasts. Then there are the guys thinking, "You just have a thin skin!" Maybe. But I don't think so. I'm willing to tolerate quite a lot. Maybe it's time to stop tolerating this crap in the comic book business?

So I suppose I could protest by ceasing to buy and read Previews. And write a letter to Diamond to explain why. And proclaiming it on my blog so everyone else will boycott it too. But then I lose the advantages of reading Previews. I lose the ability to spot new series that I might like by the artwork. So I save my eyes from a lot of T&A, but I possibly miss out on great books. What a tradeoff.

I'd rather just not buy books by known sexist pigs. But I don't know who they are. They are protected by a wall of silence. While I think they should be identified and humiliated, that opens up all kinds of avenues of complication. What if some woman lies? Not all members of the female gender are sweetness and light. Somebody's life could be ruined by a false accusation (a friend in college was hurt badly by a false accusation, and I still haven't forgotten the pain he went through). So keeping it between the victim and the police may be the best idea. And let me make this absolutely clear: I think that any woman who is assaulted or harrassed by a man should contact the police about it. It should never be ignored.

Right. I'm rambling and babbling. And it's clear I need to think about this issue some more. I'm feeling a wave growing, an "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" wave. Maybe nothing will come out of it this time, except for another wave of women leaving the industry poorer for their absence. But maybe it really is time for the comic book industry to start to mature from the drooling adolescent phase it's been in for far too long. Maybe we'll get a positive change out of this. Only time will tell.

-by Tegan at 5:41 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thoughts Thoughts Thoughts

Anyone who has written about Lea Hernandez recently, and the whole flap about her "leaving comics", needs to immediately go read this, and then fix any errors you may have made in the writing. Blogs are supposed to be self-correcting, right? So correct, already.

Right, more about Lea from the first-person here, here, and here, where the misunderstanding of what Lea is talking about apparently comes from. See, you cannot be a woman who reads comic books and not see what Lea is talking about. And I know there are men out there who get it as well.

If I write more about this particular subject, it will bring up memories I'd rather forget and make me hate comic books for a few weeks, so I'll drop it now. But when you combine Lea's articles with Colleen Doran's post about a similar subject, it becomes very clear that the comic book industry has a long way to go before it really grows up.

As a bumper note here, The Beat points us all to When Fangirls Attack, a linkblog on the subject of women in comics, as readers/characters/creators.

On to more amusing subjects, Dilbert gets trapped in his own comic strip, and it quickly turns into a Wizard of Oz pastiche. Follow the Sticky-Note Road!

I don't like linking to eBay auctions, but this one has a Batman newspaper strip with Aquaman guest starring. I would VERY MUCH like to read all the Batman strips, particularly the ones with Aquaman. I won't be bidding on this page, but maybe it's time to find out when and where the Batman strip ran and start hunting down microfilm of it. This is the second time a Batman strip featuring Aquaman has shown up on eBay that I've spotted.
1968 Oct 20 Batman Strip
Does anyone know if the strips were ever collected? That would be easier than microfilm.

The Beat says the Sony Reader is Manga friendly. Of course, I'm still boycotting Sony for the rootkit debacle, so I won't even say I want one of these.

Aaron Williams writes a Spider-Man story.

Rashy got his Tank. (See here)

An amazing story of a Deaf Man listening to Bolero.

Scary math-related page of words that can be spelled using Chemical Symbols. I think my name (my real first name) can be spelled in chemical symbols... Lanthanum Uranium Radium. And my husband is Erbium Iodine Carbon. Via Querldox.

Ok, maybe I will watch the Oscars.

Boing Boing reports on the narcolepsy drug that has been banned.

-by Tegan at 11:07 AM Seattle time - Permalink  

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Random Thoughts

Sequential Tart interviews long-time Aquaman artist Nick Cardy.

Elayne directs her readers to Colleen Doran's Blog, and in particular to this post about certain scumbags in the comic book industry who are living in a disgustingly sexist past, and inflicting their sexism on female comic book professionals. As usual, a few male responses tend to blame the victim.

The Beat has a roundup of 'net news. I found this item to be interesting.

Do you recognize world flags? I had A LOT of trouble with this one, but it turned out to be a fun exercise to play with hubby-Eric, who only needs the capitol city to get most countries. I'm lucky if I can get it with all the clues.

Presented without comment: Woman marries dolphin. A 41-year-old British citizen "married" a dolphin: "Dressed in a white dress, a veil and pink flowers in her hair, Tendler got down on one knee on the dock and gave Cindy a kiss. And a piece of herring."

Loren Coleman predicts another Bigfoot flap upcoming.

Boing Boing Linkfun:

-by Tegan at 7:37 PM Seattle time - Permalink  


So hubby-Eric and I watched the pilot episode last night, after borrowing the full set of DVDs from my sister.

First thoughts: a little slow, but VERY well done. I'm looking forward to seeing more.

-by Tegan at 7:24 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Sleep of Death

Diane Duane pointed me to this note which highlights a serious problem that's about to hit thousands of people who rely on a certain medication.

Seems that the medication was implicated in 13 liver failures since 1976 (yes, it's been on the market that long), so the company that made the medication carefully made sure that all doctors and patients were aware of the potential problem. But that wasn't enough for Nader, even though the instances had dropped to only one case in the last 6 years. No, Nader and Public Citizen got the medicine banned by the FDA, even though it's the only therapy that works for a great number of people who suffer from Narcolepsy.

Says Teresa: "Xopher and I and god knows how many other people with narcolepsy, ADHD, and other tricksy neurochemical impairments are looking at THE END OF OUR FUNCTIONAL WORKING LIVES."

Contact your congresscritters today, a good example note is here:
In November of 2005 the FDA announced the total withdrawal of the drug Cylert, and its generic Pemoline, from market due to concerns about liver toxicity. The move was apparently prompted by pressure from Ralph Nader and Public Citizen, and the spokesman for Public Citizen, Dr. Peter Lurie, asserts that the drug is outmoded and no longer has any reason to be on the market. The problem is that Dr. Lurie is mistaken there are very compelling reasons to keep Pemoline on the market and available to those who need it -- and the FDA move means that hundreds or thousands of people for whom Pemoline is the only medication that allows them to lead normal lives, hold down jobs, or even be conscious most of the day, are facing the dire prospect of having their working lives abruptly cut short, without hope of reprieve.

Pemoline is a central nervous system stimulant, and approved as such for the treatment of ADHD. There are other stimulants available for ADHD sufferers, but for some, Pemoline is the only one that helps them. For ADHD patients who also happen to have heart ailments such as tachycardia, stimulants that also cause heart palpitations are proscribed due to risk of heart attack. For such patients, such as my friend Christopher, Pemoline can be the only option for treating ADHD. Without any treatment, Christopher cannot focus enough to hold down a job or lead a normal life. For him, Pemoline is what makes normality possible. Without it he has to make a choice between heart attack or permanent joblessness. As you can imagine, his prospect is bleak. Multiply that prospect by the number of people who simultaneously suffer from ADHD and heart disease.

And, contrary to the claims of Public Citizen, Pemoline isnt only used in the treatment of ADHD. It is also one of a battery of drugs sometimes prescribed to try to combat narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a rather poorly understood and complex galaxy of symptoms that affect the central nervous system, and affects different sufferers differently. But it can certainly take the form of leaving the victim unable to stay awake more than a few hours a day, and those few hours may be experienced as if in a drugged or drowsy stupor, without the ability to think clearly, carry on lucid conversation, read, or write meaningfully, follow the plot of a TV show, or do much of anything else that gives life content, joy, or savor. Imagine sleeping your life away, interrupted only by brief moments of hazy, ineffectual, and dimwitted drowsiness. Now imagine having found a way out of that darkness and back to being able to hold a meaningful job, enjoy your family, write sparkling prose, engage in and appreciate witty conversation, do gardening and cooking and reading and teaching again. Now imagine that someone has told you that you have to give all that up again and go back to the darkness.

That is the prospect my friend Teresa now faces. Shes had narcolepsy for 24 years. In the early years she spent a lot of time being shuttled between various neurologists who couldnt quite pinpoint the nature of her problem. They tried her on varying cocktails of stimulants, searching for one that would restore her ability to function. Sometimes things helped for a while, sometimes she slept much of her life away, and when she was awake felt as if her brain had been taken away. Teresa is a woman of considerable brain, so having it taken away is a terrible punishment. Eventually her doctors found a combination of medications that, with monitoring and occasional breaks, allows Teresa to have a life again. That combination is absolutely dependent on Pemoline. Other drugs also help her, but only in synergy with Pemoline. I really cant imagine the panic and despair shes in right now. I hope I never have to face such despair myself; no one should have to.

And the thing is, again, Teresa is not alone. Over 200,000 Americans suffer from some variant of narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia. Some of them will be able to find alternatives to Pemoline, but some of them wont. And for the ones who wont, the FDA has sentenced them to a grim twilight existence, bereft of work, of meaning, of understanding, and of joy.

There is no question that liver toxicity is a matter of concern where prescription medicines are concerned. But the risk should surely be kept in perspective. Since warnings of the danger of liver toxicity were made more emphatic in the packaging of Pemoline in 1999, the drug has been implicated in one death. One death, in six years, in a user population of 10,000 patients. By comparison, Isoniazid, commonly used in the treatment of latent tuberculosis, was implicated in 7 deaths in the three year period from 1989-1992. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is also capable of causing liver toxicity in large doses. In one study of 179 patients who had overdosage of acetaminophen, two patients died. From a drug that is available over the counter without prescription, you see a greater death rate than from Pemoline.

It is the nature of our modern pharmacopeias that effective medicines often come with increased risks and side-effects. It certainly behooves us all to be well informed of these risks and side effects, and to know our alternatives in order to be able to weigh them, and it is part of the FDAs brief to make sure that we are so informed. But there will still be times when no entirely good choice is available, and at those times it seems to me that it is up to the well-informed patient, in collaboration with her doctor, to decide what risks and side-effects are worth the candle. Liver function can be medically monitored on an ongoing basis so long as there is awareness of the need. But for Teresa and Christopher, and untold others like them, there is no substitute for Pemoline, and the more normal lives it gives them.

Please join me in petitioning the FDA to reconsider its decision. Whole lives depend on it.

-by Tegan at 8:09 AM Seattle time - Permalink  

Monday, January 02, 2006

Waiting, Just Waiting...

Like Castle Waiting? Go check out Studiolio right now. Maybe somebody should suggest a tip jar for it. I would chip in to see more pages.

-by Tegan at 7:48 AM Seattle time - Permalink  

Sunday, January 01, 2006

First Random Thoughts of 2006

I was at the Wizard of Oz New Y'Oz party last night, and the folks started talking about the fact that everyone is aging, and perhaps we should all end up in the same retirement home. That made me think of this song.

Speaking of Tom Smith, he has a great post about DRM and working musicians.

Via Elayne, a rabbit travels through the history of movies. Yes, it's an ad. But it's a COOL ad.

Ever wondered how snails cross gaps in boards? Wonder no more.

Johnny B's NFL Predictions. Seattle's game didn't matter, but I was still a bit disappointed when they lost.

Aquaman on domestic spying.

More on Copyright and DRM: Canadian Poll asks the wrong questions, Sony's rootkits were illegal, and Texas sues Sony.

Lessons learned in Katrina provide practical and tested advice on how to survive a disaster. While this is written for businesses, I think everyone can glean a bit of knowledge from this one.

-by Tegan at 6:48 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

Happy New Year!

May 2006 be better in every way than 2005 for you and your loved ones!

-by Tegan at 3:09 PM Seattle time - Permalink  

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