Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? By: Michael Benson
Suddenly In the Depths of the Forest By: Amos Oz
*+Something Under the Bed Is Drooling By: Bill Watterson
The Adventures of Sir Gwain the True By: Gerald Morris
+The Dark Tower-The Gunslinger: The Journey Begins By: Robin Furth, et al.
American Lightning By: Howard Blum
5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth By: The Oatmeal
+Asterios Polyp By: David Mazzucchelli
+The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone By By: Robert Kirkman, Tom Moore, et al.
Just the Right Size By: Nicola Davis, et al.
I Will Make of Thee a Great Nation By: Val Greenwood
+The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us By: Robert Kirkman, Tom Moore, et al.
Danse Macabre By: Stephen King
Drive! Zits Sketchbook #14 By: Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman
* = denotes a previously read worl
+ = denotes a graphic novel, TPB, or collection of comic strips
The two books I enjoyed reading most in March were both by Stephen King. The Dark Tower-The Gunslinger: The Journey Begins is the next chapter in the series of graphic novels/TPBs being published that are adapted Stephen King's Dark Tower saga into an illustrated form. I really need to read the regular books and I intend to, but until then, I'll keep whetting my appetite with this series of graphic novels.
The other book I enjoyed most was King's Danse Macabre. It's basically a treatise on horror fiction in literature and film that King adapted from a series of lectures he delivered (in the 1970s I believe). King is just a great writer in general, but I've found that the stuff I enjoy most from him is his non-fiction and his non-horror writings. Danse Macabre is all about horror, but it's a massive tome of non-fiction. I learned a lot about the genre. I know a lot of it can by crap, but now I feel I have a more thorough sharper stick to help me wade through the crap and fight off the piranhas.
Other recommendations from this month are The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone By and 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth. I picked up Days Gone By after having previously watched the entire first season (6 episodes) of the tv show on AMC as it aired. Even though the show can be incredibly gory, the show was some amazing tv because it was a show about the characters and their journey to survive and not just about zombies and some cliche plot. The first couple episodes of the tv show seem to have used this first graphic novel in the series as a storyboard. As for 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth, it's a book that's kind of gross, bizarre, outlandish, and naughty. But if you can scavenge through some of the garbage you'll find some amazing gems: such as some of the best grammar instruction guides I've ever seen or the reason you need to know more about Nikola Tesla.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Forbidden Kingdom
Panic In Year Zero
Battle Los Angeles
Romancing the Stone
The Last Lovecraft
Roger Corman's original Piranha was a joy to watch. Low budget and all, it's vastly superior to the 2010 remake.
Touching Home is a great little semi-autobiographical movie made by two twin brothers. It stars Ed Harris in one of the finer performances of his career.
Rango is a bizarre cartoon. It's a modern Western told with mostly animated lizards.
Battle Los Angeles was a thoroughly enjoyable, mind-candy action movie.
The Maze is a low-budget horror flick that I enjoyed because of the corn mazes my family and I used to visit.
Paul was a major disappointment.
The Last Lovecraft is another low-budget picture. It's an action comedy that is hilarious and is even more enjoyable if you know anything about H.P. Lovecraft.
THE MUPPETS is a movie all about bringing back wit in this forgotten age. It's about friends, family, and finding your place in the world. It's a movie that dares to threaten the void that is our cultural landscape and shout, "Hey, you think you're funny? You're not funny. This is funny!" At the same time, there is a thread of irony that runs through the film. All through the movie Kermit and the gang question themselves that, perhaps, they really aren't relevant anymore. As the villain of the film proudly boasts, the world has moved on since the Muppets last were popular (the last Muppet movie was MUPPETS IN SPACE released in the summer of 1999-I can tell you where I was when I saw it and even give you the location of the theatre). The world's a much more dark, sinister, and dangerous place. No planes had flown into skyscrapers when a Muppet movie last played in movie theatres. In 1999, unemployment in the U.S. hovered around 4%, the lowest it had been in 30 years and the longest war in U.S. history was still that conflict in Vietnam (Afghanistan, where's that?).
Yet, though this is a darker and more dangerous world, there still is goodness. The Muppets are good, they are joyful, and they are hopeful. We can all do with a lot more of that in our lives.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
It took awhile, but using the scanner on my inexpensive printer and Paint, this was the design I came up with. It's very simple, cartoony, and childlike and that's the vibe I was wanting. The Muppets have never been about class and looking good.
The t-shirt people wanted a second background for each shirt, so this was the background color I chose for that option.
Unfortunately, my T-shirt didn't even get the opportunity to be voted on. There was a deadline for the contest and I did get my entry in about three days before that deadline. However, a day after submitting my entry, I received an email informing me that my design wasn't even going to be put up for a vote because it didn't look "professional" enough and was too amateur.
I didn't have the tools, time, or capability of submitting something that was more professional and refined, so I didn't get to submit an entry.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Ziggy isn't my favorite comic strip, but the strip above is one of the reasons I do enjoy the little guy. I can really relate to his sentiments here.
Aug. 1, 2009
I love penguins, but I hate Winter. That's why I fond this strip so enjoyable.
April 10, 2010
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
During the summer of 2000, I was browsing through a bookstore and came across a book entitled PRAYER AND THE ART OF VOLKSWAGEN MAINTENANCE. The title really piqued my curiosity and I bought the book. I really enjoyed reading it and I was eager to read more from the author, Donald Miller. It would be several years later before another of his books was published, BLUE LIKE JAZZ. That book went on to become a huge international best-seller (though I’m glad to say I read it and knew about Miller long before that book went mega). I’ve read most of Miller’s other works and was eagerly looking forward to reading his latest book, A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS.
The book revolves around Miller’s attempt to adapt BLUE LIKE JAZZ into a movie screenplay with the help of a couple of filmmaking friends. In the process of editing and fictionalizing his memoir into a screenplay, Miller begins looking at his own life and realizes that he can take some of the elements of writing a great screenplay and adapt them into real life. He makes a decision that he wants to not just tell good stories, but wants his life to actually be a great story. He takes a writing course, begins working out, travels overseas, rides his bike across the country, and eventually meets his father, a man who abandoned his family to fend for themselves when they needed him most.
Miller is a great writer. He has a way with words; he is able to paint extremely vivid pictures with his writing. He has a very personal, almost folksy approach to the way he writes. His style is very conversational and when he writes about “big picture” ideas, he doesn’t speak down. Instead, when reading Miller you feel like you are having a long conversation with an old teacher that you’ve always admired.
The central struggle in the book is an existential conflict that all those who wish to live a worthwhile life have to face at some point in their life. Life is difficult. Bad things happen to good people. Sometimes the good guy loses. These things are true. Knowing this, how do you choose to live? Do you simply exist, choosing to go through life as a series of motions because humans are just animals anyway? Or, do you choose to actually live, pressing the best out of each moment? Existing is easy living, truly living is difficult. No one will fault you if you choose to exist. However, if you choose to live, your life will be so much more rewarding.
With that said, the only criticism I have with A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS is that even though it is a story about Miller editing his own life to write and live a better story, there is a slight lack of relatability in the story. It’s great that Miller was able to do some of the amazing things he did in the book, such as taking a trip to South America and hiking in the Andes and riding his bicycle across America. When reading these things and how Miller approached them, you’ll be challenged to examine your own life and want to start making choices that will make your own life story better. However, not everyone is capable or can do the grand things Miller writes about that he or the people he meets do. It makes for great reading, but some of the ideas raised seem out of reach and unattainable by normal, regular people.
Overall, I enjoyed A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS. It’s a good follow-up to BLUE LIKE JAZZ, SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT, and TO OWN A DRAGON. Live a better life and write your own great story.