Supergods by Grant Morrison

supergods“Before it was a bomb, The Bomb was an idea. But Superman, however was a faster, stronger, better idea. It’s not that I needed Superman to be real; I just needed him to be more real than the The Bomb that ravaged my dreams.”

 

Grant Morrison is one of today’s top comic writers. He’s responsible for some of the modern incarnations of Superman, Batman and The X-Men, among others. In Supergods he bounces back and forth between a general history of the evolution of hero comics and his own personal story. One part how we got to where we are, the other part how I got to where I am. This approach brings an often-missing perspective to these parallel stories. He doesn’t just write about how he appreciates his favorite comic artists and writers, but about how they influenced him and helped him – and the rest of the field – to grow.

But while the story is engaging, the prose is nothing short of elegant (especially as read by John Lee on the Audible audiobook). It’s as if the whole book was written with William Gibson’s first sentences. It’s an engaging story and beautiful writing. This book is simply outstanding. Even if you’re not a hardcore comic fan, if as much of your comic knowledge comes from movie adaptations as from print comics, you will enjoy this book.

The Ten Cent Plague by David Hajdu

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In 1954 the American comic book industry, beset by vicious political and grass-roots criticism, formed the restrictive Comics Code Authority, a self censoring body whose launch brought the Golden Age of comics to a screeching halt. The Ten Cent Plague is a well written and thoroughly researched account of the formation of the CCA.

Due largely to coincidences of geography, comics were not a big part of my childhood. It’s not that I didn’t want them. It’s just that growing up where and when I did, there was simply no place to get comics easily with any kind of regularity. Assuming we don’t count Asterix and Tintin books from the school library, I might have had as many as half a dozen comics (random issues, not volumes), probably fewer, before adulthood. My friends, who all seemed to know much more about comics than I did, had a lack of enthusiasm for them that I mirrored outwardly to fit in, while secretly wishing I could learn more about these cool picture-stories.

But my once secret interest has grown up with me and I’m grateful that I now live in a world where access to comics is easy. Not only do I now live within walking distance of the excellent Larry’s Comics (“New England’s 5th largest, 11th nicest comic shop”), but with the advent of Amazon and other online retailers, the world of comics is at my fingertips. It’s a great time to be alive!
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Mission Log & Treknologic Podcasts

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Though the universe does not suffer from a shortage of Star Trek themed podcasts, I’ve found two that I think are definitely worth a listen. Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast features hosts John Champion and Ken Ray reviewing every Trek episode and movie in broadcast order (As I write, they are midway through TNG season 1). They specifically look at the morals, messages and meanings of the episodes and talk about how well they hold up over the years. It’s the podcast to listen to if you want to hear how The Corbomite Maneuver is really an examination of the 5 stages of grief. The show is produced by Rod Roddenberry, Gene Roddenberry’s son, and so has access to many “discovered documents” from the Roddenberry archives. But don’t be dissuaded by the “official” stamp! They are often quite critical and have no qualms about pointing out when things don’t work.

For a lighter, more irreverent, often silly look at the world of Trek, check out Treknologic: A Star Trek Podcast. Helmed by a large, occasionally rotating crew, Treknologic discusses Trek episodes out of order. Often one of the casters will chose an episode to review because he/she knows some of the others will not like it. After discussing each episode and rating it on a 1-10 scale, they move on to a fun Trek trivia game. They also post “Listening Post” episodes, in which they play voicemails, and read emails from listeners.

 

DragonCon 2014 Cosplay Photo Gallery

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I’ve tried to avoid repeats of people I recognized in the same costumes from past years. I’ve identified the ones I can easily. Please post ID’s I missed and corrections in the comments.

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DragonCon last day :(

 Attended panels featuring cast members of Falling Skies, Jeri Ryan and Jonathan Del Arco (Voyager & TNG), and a panel featuring Amy Acker, Ron Glass and J August Richards. I also attended a screening of a few short horror/comedy films. Finally, ended the Con with the biggest costume (“cosplay” in the nerd vernacular) party you’ve ever seen!

Award winning cosplay artist YaYa Han showed up with an amazingly elaborate and detailed costume. The quick phone-pic below does not convey the meticulous detail (the random guy in the picture is actually very tall; Ms Han was on high platform shoes, making the entire outfit 7 feet tall). I’ll post some better pictures in the full gallery later this week.

DragonCon 2014 – Saturday 8/30 update

 I’ve attended panels featuring Walter Koenig (Chekov, from the original Star Trek), cast members from Farscape, Defiance and Stargate. I also attended screenings of short action an animation films.

Some fans at the Farscape panel

Dragon Con 2014 ongoing report

Dragon Con got off to a slamming start! The convention hasn’t even really started yet and the hotel bars and common areas were packed last night.

Orphan Black

 orphan black1

Orphan Black is a BBC America show about an unknown number of clones (at least 6) who learn they’ve been targeted for assassination. The clones, played by Tatiana Maslany, all have distinct personalities and backgrounds (and accents). While having the same actor play multiple characters usually yields hit-or-miss results, Maslany pulls it off beautifully. But the show is much more than just a showcase for Maslany. The supporting cast, writing and especially the direction all come together to create a gripping adventure of constantly escalating tension.

If you missed the 1st season, be sure to catch up before the season two premiere on April 19.

Photos from DragonCon 2013

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These are mostly costume/cosplay pictures, but there are some celebrity pictures in here as well.

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Phil Plait: Excerpts from DragonCon 2013

Astronomer Phil Plait talks about a few of the things he finds interesting about some of the planets. These videos were taken from a talk he gave at DragonCon 2013. The presentation was made with a very low light level in the room. I did what I could to enhance the contrast and color, but… At least the sound is clear.

On Venus:

 

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Dragon*con 2013 Cosplay After Dark Video

Short video of some of the cosplay seen in the bars at Dragon*con.

Klingon Gauntlet Redesign and Other Tweaks

After wearing my Klingon uniform for just a short time the deficiencies of my gauntlet design and construction became intolerable. In short, they did not look anywhere near good enough for how fragile they were. They’d slide down my arm and I’d pull off a part when pulling them back up. The use of foiled paper for the calligraphic characters just looked bad in the end.

This picture of Kurn shows clearly that I had made some very incorrect deductions

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It’s Not A Retcon, It’s Alt-Time


By Captain Damage

These musings are an expansion on a conversation with @mousecanttweet on Twitter.

First off, before I get into any of the stuff that may prompt calls for the surrender of my geek card, let me say that I very much enjoyed both Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013). Both movies are fun and the character portrayals are great. Chris Pine, in particular, is spot-on as young Kirk.

If you are unaware, the 2009 reboot of the Star trek franchise, produced and directed by
—SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers ahead for ST, Lost, Buffy and Terminator: SCC

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We’re Alive: The Zombie Podcast

We’re Alive is a weekly serial drama podcast that tells the story of a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles. It’s done in the style of the old radio serial dramas with character performances and sound effects. Having just finished it’s 3rd season, it has been named an iTunes “Best of 2012.” Though a number of story elements will sound a little familiar to zombie fans, the performances and production are good enough that I’ll give them a pass. It’s well worth a listen. Highly recommended!

Musings on Generational Sci Fi and the Need for FTL

On the recommendation of my cousin I recently read (well, listened to, actually) several books by Alastair Reynolds. A former astronomer with the ESA, Reynolds writes space science fiction. Many of his novels take place within the same “universe,” and all take place in similar universes, one feature of which is that faster-than-light (FTL) travel is, essentially, impossible. This of course is in complete compliance with the laws of physics, and Reynolds primary mode of interstellar travel is via “Lighthugger,” a class of spacecraft that is able to come close to, but not exceed the speed of light. So travel between stars still takes years or decades. I refer to this type of story as “generational science fiction,” as in a story typically takes a twenty years or more to play out.

Reynolds is a competent writer and the reader quickly becomes accustomed to the casual use of “decade,” and “century.” In a few of his books, at least some of the humans have developed hyper-longevity or immortality treatments in order to navigate the stretching of time that comes from societies and economies spread over such vast distances; and the  sci-fi fallback of cryogenic hibernation is invoked for many humans on long space flights.
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Boston Comic Con 2012 – Some Pictures

While nowhere near the scale of Dragon*con, Boston Comic Con was still a good sized event and it got pretty crowded at times. The featured guests were Paul Coker, Jr., Al Jaffee and Al Feldstein from Mad Magazine. But the real highlight is the guest artists – dozens of them occupying more than half the exhibition hall signing prints and originals and doing onsite commission pieces. Of course there were plenty of costumes too!

Klingon Costume Notes

HoDQIH YotlhtIr B’TraughH

The following are some of my notes from making my Klingon battle dress costume for Dragon*con. This is in no way intended to be a comprehensive guide to making a near-identical costume for yourself, but rather to augment the information that others have posted.

1. A WARNING
I think it is important to let anyone who is considering making a costume like this know that it is extremely hot to wear. If you have trouble with heat or dehydration, consider an alternative costume.

2. RESOURCES
Q’IDar has the most expansive advice I was able to find. Her tutorials include an excellent overview of materials and fabrics, as well as definitions of the basic parts of the uniform which I found very helpful. Though I deviated from her plan in many respects, I still found her pages a valuable resource.
Madwulf also has some good tips. Though again, I did not specifically follow his plan.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine  (DS9) seasons four through seven have the most Klingon-centric episodes of any of the Next Generation series (TNG).
This picture of Gowron was a constant reference.
Monster Makers for foam latex, and mold making supplies.
911 Buy Costumes / J&N Joke Shop Had the best price on the boots, and they’re local to me, so no shipping charge!
Hol’ampaS is a great online Klingon dictionary. Click the “pIqaD” tab to get a Klingon script generator.
Michaels Arts & Crafts
Joann Fabric & Crafts
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Miss Star Trek Universe 2011 Video

The light was too poor for good pictures. The video below is highlights from the talent portion of the pageant. I’ve edited it so that the winner and runner-up appear first, followed by shorter segments from the other contestants.  The winner was a Tribble, who sang about her dream of peace between Klingons and Tribbles. The runner-up portrayed Lal, the android created by Data in the TNG episode The Offspring. She played a number of Star Trek themes on English horn.

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Dragon*con 2011 – Photos From Around The ‘Con

This is just the first few pictures. Click here for the full gallery.

Dragon*con Costume Parade Videos

All four parts equal about half the parade. There is some overlap between the videos and photos, but they are not identical. Click here for the full photo gallery.

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Dragon*con 2011 Costume Parade Photos

While there is some overlap between the photo gallery and the videos, I only had the one camera and switched back and forth between still and video modes. So the content is not identical.

This is just the first few pictures. Click here to go to the full gallery.