I started blogging thinking that this is where I would review whatever media I felt like ranting about. It quickly changed direction. So this is my online diary. Comments are welcome.
Feed - M.T. Anderson
This book was published by Candlewick Press in 2002 and I first read it in 2006. My sister, Sarah, suggested it after reading it as an assignment in her 12th grade English class. I was not disappointed. M.T. Anderson is a great writer whom could make you believe that the world he has created in Feed is a glimpse of our own future. I have since read it at least 2 more times. The initial read will always be my favorite though, because it takes a little while to get used to the language, and that was a huge part of the experience. Anderson has captured what it will be like when school and communication are substituted for instant media and data mining. What do you think the world will be like when we are completely overtaken by our own consumerism?
I did love Feed and I absolutely recommend reading it. With that, I find it harder to read again every time. It isn't the language, but the characters themselves. As an adult I find it hard to relate to angsty teen leads in this unknown world. (And I'll be the first to tell you that I jumped on the band wagon for Young Adult titles and I love them.) I think it's just because there is so much about Anderson's world that is unfamiliar, or conceptual in nature, that the characters fall a little flat.
You read from the perspective of Titus, a young man that seems satisfied with his bland consumerist lifestyle, until he meets Violet. Violet is not like Titus' group of friends. She is from a less fortunate family and didn't receive a feed implant until she was about 7. It is because of this that she views the feed negatively while Titus and his friends are perfectly familiar to it. This is the meat of the story. It isn't so much about the wonderful world that Anderson created, but rather, how can you just accept something so intrusive?
Feed touches on all kinds of taboo and for that I applaud M.T. Anderson. He presents said taboos in a way that they don't seem offensive. Perhaps it's because of the futuristic aspect of the story. Whatever the reason, I say, find out for yourself.
There are a lot of things I didn't cover in this review that are essential to the story, but I absolutely HATE reviews that just give a synopsis without an opinion. I'm more inclined to read something that someone gives their opinion about. And I'll read the summary elsewhere. You could visit the library and look for it under Young Adult Fiction, or check out Amazon, iTunes, or any major online retailer. There is an audiobook available as well. Enjoy!
Phantom Vibration Syndrome
This is one of the most interesting things that I have read recently. I was browsing some news sites when I came across this article on NPR. Now, I'm not one to believe in things like phantom vibrations, but I have felt them myself. You know, that funny little itch you get around your pocket region? The 'Phantom Buzz', as on reader described it. This will happen even if your phone isn't in your pocket. I had experienced it, but I had never even heard of Phantom Vibration Syndrome.
After I read the article I decided to give it a try. Leave my phone alone for an hour. (Okay, what really happened was I forgot to grab it before Ashley and I left for the grocery store.) What I found out was that I didn't need it. I didn't even miss it. And even knowing that the thing wasn't there I still pocket checked it a couple of times. Surely this is something others of you have experienced. After a little bit of thought I decided that this actually translates to much of the technology that we surround ourselves with. For example; we have over 300 channels with DirecTv, but there's nothing to watch. I have 1,769 songs on my iPod and I'm tired of listening to the same old songs. The list could go on and on to include the likes of Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Kindle. The point is that we are losing our interest in things at a rate that has never been seen before. The drive to discover something great has been replaced with the drive to be one of the millions to "Like" something.
A few weeks ago I wrote that I wanted to find some local bookstores. I want to find a place that still has that old familiar smell of paper in it. My new goal, because my search has been hugely unsuccessful in St. Joseph, is to turn off my devices (yes, even my Kindle and iPhone) and immerse myself in something I have lost connection with. I will probably read a book. A real book, and I'm open to suggestions by the way. I might/will play my guitar more. I'd like to paint again. (That was always fun.) I want to build a desk using black pipe and scrap wood. I'm thinking about taking piano lessons. I could prepare a meal that I have never cooked before. There are so many possibilities that it makes me a little giddy. I know, I know, "you could do those things even without shutting down your devices", but that misses the point. I want to rediscover me. And I want to find out what I really love and enjoy without social media and the internet telling me what's trending.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
I have not played any version of this game from collaborators at DC Comics and Mortal Kombat's NetherRealm Studios. The idea, I felt, had already been explored as the dark side of the Justice League was shown in the not-so-popular fighter game, "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe." (I would like to state that I thought that game was fantastic.) I personally know fans of the game that are giving it two thumbs up with recommendation. I know. I get it. Superheroes, the "good guys", punching each other. Fantastic. I will add it to my must play list. I'm not here to review this game.
I have been a comic book fan since I picked up my fist telephone volume of Silver Age Superman when I was in high school. Until then the only exposure I had to comics were some oldies my uncle had, like Scrooge McDuck, and something cheap Dad would buy from the second hand store. I remember thumbing through some Bloodshot, Legion of Super-Heroes, Metamorpho, The Outsiders, Blood Syndicate, The New Mutants, Transformers and many more. It was enough to sink my teeth into the art and story telling, but mostly just action. Which was exactly what I wanted when I was 9 or 10 years old. No matter how cool those heroes and villains were, (and some of them were just down right cool) Superman is the one that stood out to me the most. Maybe it's because his legend is instilled in me as an American midwestern boy. Maybe it's because the Super Friends were on Saturday morning cartoons. Whatever the reason I am a life-long fan.
After reading books like Alex Ross' Kingdom Come and Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman, Superman was cemented as my favorite character ever. I love the mythology. I'm a huge fan of his sincerity and gentleness; of his versatility and confidence. (Read Superman: Red Son) I am a fan, to say, of Superman - the hero.
Let me be clear Injustice: Gods Among Us is a beautifully drawn and exceptionally written series. See for yourself. Now, Tom Taylor must be an absolute freakin' genius. Through only 35 issues he has managed to break down and dispose of everything I have come to love about my favorite character. So much so that I literally cringe when I see Superman in a panel. I start thinking, "what awful thing will he do next?" And to Mr. Taylor's credit he delivers exactly what you aren't expecting week after week.
I don't want to be one of those reviewers that just summarizes the story for you and then tells you to read it or save your money. I want to be the guy that says, I like super heroes and everything they represent and parody. This is one that actually hits metaphorically without the blatant attempt at satire and it keeps hitting all the way through. This is a story of bad blood and friendship turned sour. This is a story about how the world will end. I am ready to ride this one out. The stories continue to build into what I can only hope is a climax for the record books.
On the skeptic side I am a little disappointed with the lack of character arc. Let's take the seat of a reader with little to no DC or Justice League exposure. There are characters popping in for an issue and killed, or never seen again, that you won't have any story to wrap around them. I understand the reasoning behind this, but at some point I'm afraid we'll look back and ask, "who's left to stop the madness?"
If you want my suggestion I say read it. It will destroy your naive perception of Superman, but it is a good read. You can pick it up on Amazon or Comixology for .99¢ an issue or try a local comic store for the current volume in print.
Thank you Tom Taylor and Jheremy Raapack and those at NetherRealm Studios for bringing my greatest fear to life.
I discovered reading and writing for fun when I was in the 4th grade and I haven't been able to stop. I discovered my musical talent when I was 12 and started a band with my brother and my best friends. I have been on a journey of discovery that has shaped and molded my tastes for music, reading, writing, art, food and extracurricular activities since I was a high school freshman. And I'm not quite finished, so come along.