Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
May 20, 2017
Currently Reading: Asura Girl
Category: Books

So this week I started reading Asura Girl by Otaro Maijo, which I think I acquired during one of a friend's book purges. I don't recall what initially moved me to take the title home, but one of the things that persuaded me to read it now was my curiosity concerning prose translated from Japanese. Shusaku Endo's Silence ranks among the most satisfying and thought-provoking books I've ever read, but I haven't read any Japanese novels besides that.

About halfway into Asura Girl -- and having looked up some additional information about the book online -- I'm finding myself wondering about other details, like the fact that the book is written in first person and the protagonist is a 17-year-old girl, yet the author was a 30-year-old man when the book was released. The book also won the Mishima Yukio Prize for that year, which seems surprising because it's not all that good (at least so far, and admitting that whatever elegance the original prose possessed was perhaps lost in translation) and Yukio Mishima is kind of a big deal in Japanese literature. But the depiction of Japanese teenage culture is intriguing because of how alien it seems (to me; it might not seem that strange to others), and what story there is is interesting enough (though so far the novel has largely consisted of the teen female protagonist's musings, hence my curiosity regarding the reality of the author's age and sex), so I'm sufficiently motivated to keep reading.

-posted by Wes | 8:41 pm | Comments (0)
May 16, 2017
Nightmare Fuel: A True Story
Category: Miscellany

I heard you like nightmare fuel? Lean in: let creepy Uncle Wes tell you a tale of terror.

This is a true story that happened to me when I was a younger man. I remember it like it happened yesterday... except I remember it even better than that because it happened roughly thirty minutes ago.

I had just returned home from work. After washing up and changing out of my work clothes, I entered my room and felt a cold tickle along my shoulder. I reached into my t-shirt sleeve to scratch the imagined itch, and when I brought my hand back into the light I noticed something... unusual... between my fingertips. The first point of confusion was that the thing I held appeared to be a bit of thread -- which was curious because, while it did appear to match the checkered shirt I had worn to work, I had since removed that shirt and was then clad only in the t-shirt I had worn beneath it. The thread's color suggested that it had not come from the t-shirt, which was white, and it would have been odd for a thread from an outer garment to somehow work its way under my undershirt. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:04 pm | Comments (0)
May 2, 2017
Thoughts on Doctor Who’s “Thin Ice”

Overall, the episode wasn't terrible. It had some good moments between Bill and the Doctor (though I don't know how to respond to writers when they place words in the Doctor's mouth that are patently false, like "I've never had the luxury of outrage"); it had a compelling "mystery"; and its supporting cast was pretty diverse (though I do find the abundance of children in the Capaldi era to be super annoying). The episode was, to be sure, basically a rehash of previous nuWho episodes except in a different setting -- "The Beast Below" comes to mind, what with the feeding of people to a humongous creature imprisoned beneath the city for some exploitative purpose -- but that's par for the course for Doctor Who these days.

But following the handful of articles about how Doctor Who was supposed to "tackle race and whitewashing" in this episode, I did find it to be disappointing. The episode definitely did acknowledge those topics, but there's a difference between "acknowledging" a thing and "tackling" it. (This distinction, by the way, is part of the reason I declined to comment more publicly on Get Out. I thought the movie was an effective thriller, but I found its much-lauded exploration of racism to be a letdown -- especially given the well-meaning posts from some of my white friends to the tune of "all white people need to see this movie.") With respect to whitewashing, the subject is dispensed with in a 20-second exchange. Explicit racism gets a bit more emphasis, if only because the episode's villain responds to Bill with a cartoonishly racist outpouring before the Doctor socks him in the face. And while I guess that response represents progress -- the last time a character was openly racist to his companion, the Doctor proceeded to fall painfully in love with that character -- the episode's "tackling" of the topic is restricted to that one bit of dialogue. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:52 pm | Comments (0)
April 30, 2017
They’re so 144!!!
Category: Miscellany … Travels

So this weekend I got to be "that guy" (or at least one of "those guys") at the East Coast Comicon in Seacaucus, NJ -- by which I mean that guy who's interested in this super obscure thing that nobody's heard of. Since this sounded like a more comic-focused con than most of the ones I attend these days, and since I'm currently all about Madballs (I mean, I'm always all about Madballs, but right now I can actually walk into stores and buy them!) I went to ECC with a mission more specific than my neverending quest for cheap toys: to acquire Madballs comics from the 1986-1988s Star series.

Of the multiple vendors I asked, only two even seemed to remotely know what I was talking about. One didn't have the books on hand, but he did get excited and asked me if I was familiar with a particular artist (I wasn't, but I also don't know the names of the Madballs artists). This artist, he said, not only drew for the books, but was actually in attendance at that very convention and had lots of relevant art with him! I spent a good amount of time looking for that artist and was disappointed when I couldn't find him, but I did find the work of an artist (with a different name) who had done Garbage Pail Kids art. Still, it was clear that that vendor at least sort of knew what Madballs were, even though he got certain details confused. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:58 pm | Comments (0)
January 20, 2017
Re: Trump’s inaugural address
Category: Current Events … Serious

I actually thought it was okay -- certainly among the least egotistical examples of public speaking ever offered up by the Donald. I bristled a few times (referencing "all talk, no action" politicians seemed ill advised considering he just applied those words to a man who nearly died fighting for civil rights), and I laughed when he promised to "never, ever let [us] down" (dude lets me down every time he spews inanity via Twitter). But my expectations were very low and he did exceed them -- and I was able to sit through the entire speech while sober -- so I give him props for that.

-posted by Wes | 8:51 pm | Comments (0)
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