Jun 29

Black Canary #1

I did something for the first time this week, I went to the local comic book shop (convieniently called The Comic Shoppe) and picked up a comic to which I have subscribed.

I felt like a member of the other half.

And what was that comic that made me plunk down a deposit, you ask?

That's my girl!

That’s my girl!

Yup, the first issue of the new Black Canary series. This series sees Canary as the lead singer of a rock band.  The famous fishnets?  Are part of her onstage outfit, as are the kit boots.  There is even a scene where she switches from her daily combat boots to the black heels.

I am going to stop here and say SPOILERS.  Because I will be discussing the issue.  So stop now if you want to read the issue before you read my thoughts about it.


Black Canary is the name of the band.  Our heroine is known as “DD”, so it appears that writer Benden Fletcher is calling back to the Dinah Drake name of Black Canary I.  The discription on the DC website calls DD, Dinah Lance and there appears to be a link for the Dinah of the new 52, the spy and vigilante. So maybe DD has taken on the Drake name to hide.  Within the comic, there are references a marriage and the Justice League, but the real tip off to DD’s back story are the repeated attack by badguys, from gun-totting musicians to ninjas.  The band is having trouble getting paid given that their venues keep getting trashed.

It all comes to a head one night when DD spotes some strange things in the audience, which turn out to be aliences.  Using her mike as a weapon, she takes them out. As the leader of the alliens fades away, it indicates that they were not here for DD, but for the band’s teenage guitarist, Ditto.  Who doesn’t speak, but appears to be able to manipulate sound. There is a heated discussion about keeping the band together, and when her bandmates refuse to abandon Ditto and DD to fate, DD announces that hand to hand training will commence in the morning.

And that ends the first issue. Some interesting set-up.  DC has rated this title as teen, seemingly going after the same market as Miss Marvel.  Which is wierd, because by seemingly linking DD to the New 52 history, she is not a teen.  We’ll see if that holds.  Maybe the focus will become Ditto.  Art by Anni Wu is what I call messy modern, which fits the story/setting of this comic.  I will definately be picking up the next issue.  Heck, it’s Canary, I will be in for the whole thing.

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Feb 07

Boy/Girl Kinder Eggs

Jenna Bush over at Legion of Leia posted the following photo on Facebook

Avengers Kindereggs

And rightly pointed out that there were no female superheroes in the selection.  And she is right.  Black Widow and Captain Marvel are nowhere to be found.  Looks like another case of gender steretyping in toys.

A quick Google search brought me to the Grocery Gems blog from England that had this photo:

Kinder Eggs Disney Fairies Marvel Avengers

It appears that the braintrusts and Kinder and Disney have decided to release boys and girls versions of this toy.  The girls are supposed to want the Fairies toys, the boys the Avengers. Which is sad, because there are boy characters in the fairies series.  Even if only girls are fans, they actually might want to play with the boy characters.  There might even be boy fans.   But like with the Avengers, the assumprion is that these are single gender toys.

This is further evidence of the rampant gender stereotyping that takes place in our toy ailses. From colour choices to situations, toy manufacturers are dividing our boys and girls worlds into two relms that never cross.

Which is sad. We know gender is not binary, but instead a spectrum.  Why do we insist that our toys be binary?  And don’t tell me it boils down to economics. There are plenty of young women out there who love comics and have money to spend on merch. Give them the opportunity.  Same goes for boys who love princesses and fairies.

It’s 2015, it’s time for us to walk away from the Victorian gender roles.

Posted in Come see the sexism inherent in the system, Pinkwashing | 1 Comment
Jan 05

The Elite – A Long Winded Review


Imagine a distopian future world where North America where your birth determined your job.  It is a society divided into clases, with each class only allowed to do certain jobs.  Over all of them sit the Ones, the royal family that rules the land.  And every generation, the next Queen is chosen from the people through a process known as “The Selection”, a televised competition where one representative is chosen from each province to compete for the Crown Prince’s hand.  Did we mention that not everyone is happy about the situation and that rebels routinely attack the palace while this whole thing is goin on?

Sounds like The Bachelor meets Cinderella meets The Hunger Games, doesn’t it?

Enter into this world America Singer, a lowley Five from a family of artisits.  At te end of the first book, The Selection,  she has somehow made it past the initial 35 candidates to the Elite stage to be one of the final six competitors for the Prince’s hand.  She entered the competition on a dare and stayed only because her family gets a payment for every week she is in the competition.  America, or Mer, as she’s known to her friends, came into the competition in love with another boy, a Six named Aspen, but she finds herself drawn to Prince Maxon with each passing day.  Can she make a choice?

This is the second book in the Selection series, and while the first one was a hard to put own, this installment is mostly just America feeling closer to Maxon, but then something happens that distances them from each other. Usually it’s Maxon going on a date with another Elite, or America feeling a pull towards her former love, Aspen, who is convieniently a guard at the palace.  There is also the problem of suspending your disbelief long enough to believe that the all powerful King Clarkson, who can have anyone killed at a whim, is weak enough to allow for repeated (and I mean repeated) attacks on the palace.

Still, author Kiera Cass has created a solid teen romance that appeals to the YA crowd. If you look on line, you will see Team Maxon and Team Aspen camps with members  fiercly loyal to each camp.  So she has succeded in keeping her audience happy, although this feels like a filler book because YA series need to at least be trilogies now a days.

3 out of 5 Revolutions.

Posted in Book Review, What to Read After Harry | Leave a comment
Oct 04

Whining About Saturday Mornings Gone By

I have seen a lot in the last 24 hours about the end of the Saturday Morning Cartoon Block. Many of my Gen X friends are wringing their hands at the loss of three to four hours of cartoon goodness.

And I find myself wondering what the fuss is all about.

I am the mother of a six year-old boy. I know exactly how many cartoons are available to my son. There are the 24 hour cartoon channels plus the specialty kids’ channels. There are the educational cartoons via PBS and TVO. On-demand services provide my son with even more choice and our DVD collection is full of current hits and retro goodies.

Add the Internet to that mix, and my child has more animation at his fingertips than I ever had when I sat down to watch cartoons on a Saturday morning as a child. He is living in the promised land.

So why is a certain group comparing the loss of the Saturday Morning blcok to the end of days?

Nostalgia. Plain and simple.

Gen X is its 40s now, and like the Baby Boomers before them, they yearn for the simplicity of their childhood. There is a longing for the days when they and all their friends watched the same things at the same time. They look at the multi-channel universe and bemoan what the “kids today” are missing.

But here’s the thing, they aren’t missing it. My son and his friends all watch the same shows. Oh sure, my son may be watching Word Girl at 5 while his bestest bud saw the same episode at 3, but they still gather to dicuss and roleplay. Want further proof? The Wild Kratts have three (3!) live shows in my town later in the fall. All three have been sold out for months. It’s the hottest ticket in town. Fisher Price has started making toys for Mike the Knight and the Octonaughts. My son has PJs made from Phineas and Ferb fabric.

Do you know what my friends and me would have done for G-Force PJs? Things not legal in Utah.

My fellow Gen-X nerds, stop your whining. Yes, the big four networks have stopped producing a Saturday morning cartoon block. But that’s because the kids can find better, cooler shows through other mediums. And believe me, they are watching them. The big three have failed to keep pace and have moved on to other things.

Now if you excuse me, the boy and I have some Penguins of Madigascar to watch.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Oct 15

How to Stop Bullying

A little off topic today, but relevant.

<Drags out soapbox. Steps up.>

If we truly want bullying to stop, we need to stop looking to children to change their behaviour. We need to start looking to adults to change theirs.

Children learn by watching and then emulating what we do. Look around you. How often do you hear put downs? How often do you dismiss someone based on their skin colour, religion, background, gender, orientation,

education, political affiliation or socio-economic status?When you watch TV, how often is bullying going on? (Hint: Sitcoms would not exist without it. And reality shows like Big Brother? Don’t get me started.) What about in your children’s shows? What video games do you or your children play where taking advantage of the weak is part of the game? (Grand Theft Auto I *am* looking at you.) What about the movies you watch as a family?Take a look at the real world. How often is the news filled with politicians engaged in name calling and rumour spreading? How often do we see witch hunts against whistle blowers and civil servants when they refuse to be partisan in favour of the ruling party and actually try to follow the rules and guidelines? Look out for the public interest as it were? (Sadly, my own Primeminister is a master at the last one.) I won’t ask you about pundits, because they really are the worst of the bunch.

So if you want to stop tragedies like the one that happened this week, your posts, petitions and private member’s bills, while well intentioned, really won’t change a thing. Instead, you need to look at your behaviour and change. Be more accepting. Be less judgmental. Model the behaviour you want to see in our children. Drop things from your life that promote bullying. Even if you love them. And then challenge the other adults in your life to do the same. Start with your circle and then reach out further. Politicians. Entertainment icons. The World.

Is it easy? No. I struggle every day to be a better person, someone worthy of my son’s admiration. Of my student’s. Of my former cadets. And I am nowhere near where I want to be. But I keep trying. I slip and stumble, but I stand up and keep going.

We all have to do this because *we* are the adults here. That means that we need to behave like it. And we have to stop expecting children to be more mature than we are.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi.

<Steps down. Puts soapbox away.>

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Jul 21

Aurora – Some thoughts

[ Shocked Mood: Shocked ]
[ Listening to CBC Radio Currently: Listening to CBC Radio ]
A Facebook friend commented on the blaming for the horrific events in Aurora on the Joker. A discussion ensured and these were my thoughts. I wanted to capture them somewhere more permanent than Facebook, so I pasted them here.

I find it fascinating that in a country where you can get a gun for opening a bank account, that they are quick to condemn a fictional character for this tragedy. Last I heard, we don’t even know if the Joker link is true, it is based on a statement by a New York cop who may or may not have heard it from a former New York cop who now works in Aurora. Who knows if the shooter said it seriously or at all? But sure enough, the media is running with it.

So let’s imagine the Joker is his inspiration, what if he’d never been created? I bet someone disturbed enough to walk into a theater and shoot people would have found someone else to fixate on and model himself after. Perhaps a real person? Al Capone? Jesse James? Would we then be talking about banning teaching history in schools? Removing history books from the library and bookstores? No. We wouldn’t.

And yet every time one of these things happens, there is a knee jerk reaction to blame something else for creating the situation, instead of doing the deep soul searching as a society that is really required. Why is it that semi-automatics are available to any member of the general public in the US? Why is it the mentally ill are so hard to treat? Why can’t politicians think beyond the next election cycle and look to affect real change for the better? Why does someone think wondering why no one in the theatre was armed and shooting back, blaming the victims as it were, is acceptable?

The reality is this man was in need of help, and those around him missed the signs, big time. For him to have gathered that much weaponry and ammunition, someone had to have know. Given the sheer amount of money that has been spent in the last ten years in the US on terrorism prevention, why is it still possible for one man buy so many weapons and explosives off the web? How could the FBI, Secret Service and NSA not be tipped off or be monitoring this?

Let’s also ask, what about mental health awareness? Why are we not trained from a young age to recognize when someone is deep trouble like we are with a heart attack? Why don’t I know what to do beyond call 911 when someone is in trouble with a mental breakdown? Are the police even trained? (I know the answer to that one already, and for the vast majority, it is no.)

But no, sadly our leaders, political, media and legal, are going to continue with the shallow "blame everyone else" and "find a short term solution" that they do after every one of these events.

And then the next one will happen and nothing will have changed.

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Jul 20

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier (LWR)

[ Amused Mood: Amused ]
[ Listening to CBC Radio Currently: Listening to CBC Radio ]
You want to know what Alan Moore was thinking about as he was writing The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier?


Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex.

Oh yeah, and sex.

This book is supposed to be the hidden history of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Gathered as a series of different clippings, such as articles, postcards, and "boys comics", by the government in a Black Dossier to document the actions of the league. These clippings are stolen by Mina Harper and Alan Quartermaine, and it is their story of escaping with the dossier that weaves the book together.

As they read the dossier, so do we, and a very interesting story it presents. We get the altered history of England, a place where literary characters are real, with various incarnations of the League working to bring down enemies of the Crown. We also see how much the government changed under an Orwellian inspired government after the war, and how our once heroes are now fugitives from Justice.

Did I mention there was lots of sex? Almost every piece of work has sex and nudity woven through it. The comic story of Orlando, the gender switching companion to Prospero and Sinbad who literally had sex with ever character of historical significance they encountered. The further adventures of Fanny Hill who also seems to have sex with everyone she encounters. There is even some totalitarian pornography tucked in with an exert from a pulp novel. Even Mina and Alan are lying around in various positions involving nudity, bathing, post-coital bliss.

I get that many of the memorable female characters in literary history that would be likely to take up with the league are the sexually scandalous ones, but I wonder if Moore was not attracted to them because of sexual promiscuity rather than their tendency to take risks. Would he have chose chaste Elizabeth Bennett for the league, even though she is seen as an early feminist heroine by many readers.

This is the most sexual of Moore’s works that I have read, and I have to wonder if he was going through Andropause at the time of crafting this.

The better parts of the book are the cartoons, as Moore shows his ability to tell story and create character. Some of the articles are interesting, but others seem at times to be a chance for Moore to write like Shakespeare.

It’s a good read, but not to the same level as the earlier volumes.

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Jul 17

Go Team Everyone Else

[ Sleepy Mood: Sleepy ]
[ Currently: Editing a Podcast ]
The RevolutionSF books editor, Peggy Hailey, is attempting to beat all the children in her town in a reading contest. You can send letters of encouragement to the children, known as Team Everyone Else (rungepubliclibrary_a@yahoo.com). You could probably send Peggy encouragement, but, really, who roots for the little guy?

Do it for the kids!

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Apr 16

Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War Vol. 1 – ALWR

[ Happy Mood: Happy ]
[ Currently: Recording a Podcast – no really. ]
I am not a Green Lantern fan. My knowledge of the character comes from his association with Green Arrow through Justice League and the Hard Travelling Heroes. But someone who I know gushed about this storyline so much, that I thought I would pick it up.

Hal Jordan is back from the dead, and he is trying to fit back into his life and the corps. He is looked upon suspiciously by his fellow Green Lanterns because of what happened before. Surrounding him are the other Earth Green lanterns, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner. Sinestro rises back from banishment to challenge the corps, recruiting a group of "Sinestro Corp" members to fight along side him. And the results are not good for the corps.

Geoff Johns has been credited with giving a boot in the butt to this franchise, giving it the life and sense it needed to move forward. For me, this book was fun, but it was a little confusing as I didn’t know most of the characters on sight. Geoff Johns does not give enough of the backstory for someone like me to fully follow the story.

So if you are a real GL fan, this is your book. If you were a fan and are looking to get back in, this is your book. If you are like me, this is not your book.

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Apr 08

Of “Quality” Literature and Trolls

[ Evil Mood: Evil ]
[ Listening to CBC Radio Currently: Listening to CBC Radio ]
So Joel Stein put the cat among the pigeons with his New Your Times piece March 29, 2012. To say he caused an uproar in the YA community would be an understatement.

Some have claimed that Stein is a satirist, that he doesn’t mean this seriously. Others have railed against him, thinking his comments are serious. That he is offering a criticism of what is wrong with adult culture.

So what is his purpose then? I would never presume to tell someone what someone else is thinking, but in reading what I see is a troll. I see that Internet demon that destroys message boards and comment threads. You know what I mean, the pot stirrer who gets his or her pleasure out of upsetting others and then watching the fallout.

And Stein hits all the Troll buttons, and none too gently at that:
* SEXIST: He implies that men are less manly if they read Twilight and Hunger Games. These are "girls books" and "men" don’t read those.
* ELITIST: He states that the only adults who should read picture books are those whose lips move when the read. Never mind that Shaun Tan’s The Arrival is the best exploration of the Immigrant Experience I have ever seen, and there is not one word in it.
* IGNORANT: He lumps Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games together. Those who have read all three series know that they share little in common beyond the designation of "Young Adult"
* AGEIST: He refers that his teachers would never have assigned him Donkey Kong, because it has no value. So things were better in his day. They had standards!
* DISMISSIVE: He states that if his parents had read Judy Blume, he would have looked into boarding school. Never mind that reading what your kids are reading is considered good parenting because it helps you relate and helps you understand what they are going through. And you are showing them that you value them as human beings.

So why is he trolling? Who knows? Again, only Joel Stein knows his real motivations. And even then, he might not understand it himself.

What I do see is yet another adult who thinks it is acceptable to dump all over Tween girls. As if by definition, something being popular with a Tween girl automatically means that it is of lesser value. That it is shoddily made, and won’t stand the test of time. (Tell that to Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, BTW.)

There is something inherently sad about an adult who thinks that it is acceptable to devalue Tween girls. An adult who builds themselves up by putting down children. Children who really can’t fight back. Makes Stein look even more pathetic now in my eyes.

I am a teacher, and where I work people who put down others in order to build themselves up or, worse, for pleasure are called bullies. We know that bullies were most likely picked on themselves as children, leading to low self-esteem. So they in turn bully to build up their own self-esteem. Is that what happened to Stein? Was his the money he was going to use to buy a new translation of Tolstoy stolen by the captain of the football team? Again, I don’t know. I am not Joel Stein.

But as a victim of bullies through junior and middle grades, I have also never understood why former victims turn into bullies. Why would they ever want to make someone feel as low as they did? Unless they lack empathy, and that puts them into to category or sociopaths and psychopaths who derive pleasure from hurting people or simply don’t care. Now calling Stein a sociopath or psychopath is probably going a little far. I am not Joel Stein’s psychiatrist.

So what to do about Joel Stein? At the very least he is like that media pundit, hired because they can spout for hours about things they know very little about. At the very worst he is a twisted little misogynist who gets his jollies picking on children. Neither of these should be people we give the time of day to, let alone try to emulate.

Instead, read. Read a lot. Read a variety. There is a lot of good literature out there. Some of it was written for adults. Some of it was written for teens. Some of it was written for children. There is also a lot of crap out there. Some of it even appears on the New York Times opinion pages. Don’t waste too much time on the bad. We have so little time on this planet. Spend it looking for the good. Because as Joel Stein has proven to me, your reading will change you, and sometimes not for the better.

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