jakebe: (Self-Improvement)

January 2016 was an extraordinarily busy month; everything just took off like a rocket, and it was all that I could do to hold on. Most of the work was anticipated, but I think I under-estimated the effect of a lot of it, and of course my still-developing organizational skills weren't quite up to the task of keeping everything in order so I could get stuff done. I spent the last day of the month traveling from New York back to Silicon Valley, so exhausted I didn't even realize how tired I was until I got a good night's sleep.

Even still, I can't say it was a bad time. I did a lot of stuff that was fun and enriching, and now that I made it through the worst of it I can take a breath, look at what went right, what went wrong, and how I can use the momentum of the month to propel me through my projects for this one. Here's a brief rundown of the major events last month:

The Jackalope Serial Company
On New Year's Day or thereabouts, I launched the Jackalope Serial Company. It's an idea that had been brewing through the last six months of 2015, and I felt I was finally in a good position to make it happen. The JSC is basically the label through which I tell serialized erotic stories, one chunk every week, until it's finished. The idea is to put up parts of 1500 - 2500 words a week on the Patreon, then edit those parts into monthly chapters that get released to SoFurry, Fur Affinity and Weasyl at a later date. The first serial is The Cult of Maximus, which I'm expecting to be a 100K-word story when all is said and done. That should take us through the first year of the JSC's existence.

Launch was reasonably successful; to date I've got 17 patrons donating just over $100/month for the cause. I appreciate every single one of them! John Cooner did a bang up job on the launch poster/wallpaper, business cards and other assets that will be rolled out in the next month or so. And I've put up the first three parts of the story in January, with parts 4 and 5 coming (hopefully) this week to close out chapter 1.

I wasn't as regular as I would have liked to be starting out, for reasons that I'll talk about below. I'll be spending much of this month and next trying to build up a small buffer so I can make sure the schedule is regular even if something unexpected happens. For now, though, I'm flying by the seat of my fluffy white tail. Thanks to my patrons for the patience they've displayed and the feedback they've given so far; really looking forward to having things settle into a routine this month!

Further Confusion 2016
This is kind of the biggest furry event of the year for me, and this year was no exception. I took part in five panels this year: "Power and Privilege in an Anthropomorphic World", "Furries and the Other", "Write Now!", "Brainstorming in Real Time" and "Mindfulness and Transformation Workshop".

The first two were the biggest surprises and fulfilling experiences I've had at a convention in a long time; there's a real receptiveness to the idea of exploring our differences and power dynamics through furry fiction, and the audience was lively, insightful and wonderful. This is definitely a keeper; I'd love to be involved with it next year. The second two were awesome mainly because I just got to hang out with members of my writing group and talk with other writers about ways we can push ourselves past our blocks or think about constructing stories in a different way. I don't think I've ever laughed as much as I did in those two panels.

For Mindfulness/Transformation, my friend Kannik and I tried a structure to make sure we went over the most important ideas we wanted to transmit and I think that went over pretty well. The exercise portion of the panel could still use some work, but we talked about how to adapt that depending on the read we get from the audience; next year, I think we'll have a pretty good handle on things.

Away from the panels, having conversations and meals with a few people I don't get to talk to that often were the highlight. This fandom is full of such a varied mix of interesting, passionate and unique people, and cons are one of the ways we can plug into that directly. I love talking to people and seeing their perspectives on all kinds of things; it makes me fall in love with the community all over again.

The Day Job Summit
This was a bit of a wrench. My company had merged with a similar one in Europe after being bought by a holding company last year. Initially, the plan was to bring everything together slowly and carefully, making sure the customers for each side didn't feel spooked by what was going on. Apparently, the executives discovered that was no longer a concern and ordered a giant event for the merger kick-off this last weekend in January.

So, this was the first work trip I had ever taken, which is another milestone in my professional development. Thankfully, my husband came with me to hang out and be a tourist, so I was able to enjoy the vacation side of things through his eyes. We also know quite a number of people in the area, and we were able to visit with a few of them.

The overall effect of the summit was building a sense of community between two very different sides of the company; I'm not sure how well that came off, but I know that my particular department (Technical Support) grew a lot closer through the experience. I got to meet a lot of really neat people in European tech support, and we traded war stories. But for maybe the first time, I feel like a fully-accepted member of the team I work in, and that's just incredible. I can legit say I love the company I work for, and the people I work with.

We also saw our first Broadway show while we were out there -- the runaway-smash musical Hamilton. If you haven't listened to the soundtrack yet, do yourself a favor and pull it up on Spotify or your music-streaming service of choice. You will NOT be disappointed. It's a hip-hop/rap musical about a founding father whose story almost never gets told, Alexander Hamilton. The inversion of race (Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson and other major characters are black) really punches up the drive of the Founding Fathers, brings their tragedies home in a way I had never considered, and makes me empathize with them in a way I never had before. It makes this old, distant history alive and personal. It's so good.

New York City is a hell of a town. We visited Wall Street, saw people fondling the bull outside of the NYSE, visited Trinity Church and Fraunces Tavern; we went to Brooklyn and had brunch at Flatbush Farm with a major sci-fi/fantasy author (!!); and partied pretty hard at Celsius in Bryant Park, The Eagle on the lower west side (?) and Grand Central Terminal. We saw subway dancers who were amazing, listened to cellists and jazz ensembles, saw the knock-off mascots threatening people in Times Square. All in all, a hell of a trip.

Writing/Reading
I started out strong in January, finishing my first short story of the year for MegaMorphics ("New Year, New You") and wanted to have "A Stable Love" done but the JSC work sucked up all the oxygen in that room. I started The Cult of Maximus, but didn't get as far with that as I'd like, so this month will be a bit of righting the ship as far as that's concerned.

I did read an awful lot, though. I'm catching up on my backlog of comics -- I'm finding "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" to be a singular delight, and I'm really digging "Sam Wilson: Captain America". I finished Kindred by Octavia Butler, and that has been a life-changing book for me. It fundamentally changes my idea of black women for the better, and I'll need to let that cook for a moment or two. I started The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin, and I'm looking forward to finishing that, and I finished the third collection of the Apocalypse Triptych, called The End Has Come. It features (mostly) post-apocalyptic stories, many of them continued from stories in the other two collections. It was a neat idea that had a satisfying and surprising set of conclusions, and I'm looking forward to talking about that later.

Meanwhile, my reading stack grows all the time. :) Since it's Black History Month, I feel like I should be reading something theme-appropriate, and there is no shortage of books that fit that bill. I'll talk a little bit about that tomorrow.

So that was my January in a nutshell; incredibly busy, full of wonderful and enriching experiences, as well as a lot of opportunities for growth and learning with various personal projects. Tomorrow, I'll talk about my plans for this month and what I hope to have achieved when looking back on it sometime in March.

How was YOUR month? What were your highlights? What stories did you complete or make progress on? What things did you notice that you could do better?

jakebe: (Reading)
I fell back into comics this month, and I fell a little hard. It was a perfect opportunity to check up on things, actually -- the first wave of Marvel's revamped universe was shipped under the All-New, All-Different Marvel banner. Even though the big summer event that allowed them to shuffle the deck hasn't ended yet due to delays, it's still a good time to check in and see all the stuff the House of Ideas is doing with their flagship franchises.
I talked a bit about the comics I was planning to buy here, and on what platform, and why. Once I got in to my local comic shop, though, I realized just how much I missed spending time there. Anna and the gang at Illusive Comics work really hard to make it a community shop for the geeks in Santa Clara, and they want it to be as safe and welcoming a space as possible. I've got to support that, so I dusted off my old pull box and will be steadily stocking up on title subscriptions there. This might mean a smaller reliance on Comixology, but that's just fine with me. Amazon borked the service quite a bit when they bought it, and I've been reluctant to go back to it ever since.
Anyway, I picked up a few Marvel titles last month -- Sam Wilson: Captain America, the next volume of Guardians of the Galaxy, Howling Commandos of SHIELD, and two Star Wars miniseries, Chewbacca and Shattered Empire. I'm holding back on Uncanny Inhumans, and will probably go digital there. I've also picked up a few non-Marvel titles: Archie (from Waid and Staples), Jughead (from Zdarsky) and Bad Moon Rising, because I'm a sucker for a cover with a really intriguing werewolf.
I've only read three or four issues out of my haul, so next month's write-up will be a bit beefier. For now, though, a few thoughts on what I've seen so far.
THE NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA
Sam Wilson made headlines last month with the first issue of his new series, and reading it I can totally see why. Nick Spencer is taking Captain America closer to the streets here; Sam wants the shield to be more than just a symbol, but something that regular Americans see and care about. Steve Rogers was more aspirational in his role as Captain, staying above the political fray as much as possible and making sure every single action he took reflected his ideals. Not a bad tack to take, but I could see how it wouldn't work for Sam.
Besides, Steve has worked for SHIELD and the US Government for how long? He knows what they're capable of, and his decision to change the way it works from the inside is something he has a fairly good chance of doing. However, Sam's experience as a black man dealing with institutions he and his community has been disenfranchised with for so long leads him to simply abandoning them and trying to affect change on his own. That makes sense, too -- even though it makes it that much harder.
Sam's first story takes him to Arizona, where the Sons of the Serpent are rounding up illegal immigrants for some unknown purpose. I'm impressed that neither he nor Nick Spencer, the writer, is taking baby steps with this; they both know the shit-storm that'll come down as a result of these choices, and they do it anyway. It's a bold statement, not just for the character and the writer, but for Marvel itself. I know we've said Cap has always been political; while that may be true, it's very rare that he's been this topical.
I dig the hardscrabble nature of Sam's operation, and Misty Knight, his right-hand gal, is lifted straight from a 70s blaxploitation movie in the best possible way. There's a hint of romance there, because of course there is, but with Captain America and the new Thor kissing somewhere down the line in the new Avengers comic who knows what'll happen there. I hope that they don't introduce relationship troubles before the team's really had a chance to come together.
Still, the strength of this first issue and the boldness of its choices has earned this a spot on my pull list; now that I know Sam has made the choice to distance himself from SHIELD and the government, it makes me a lot more intrigued to see if the All-New, All-Different Avengers will take a similar stance that promotes the idea that superheroics are best left outside the shifting landscape of the political theatre.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
My engagement with Bendis took a major hit over the course of his X-Men tenure; the quippy, crackling dialogue that worked so well with Ultimate Spider-Man didn't translate so well to what was happening with the mutant corner of the Universe, and the direction he's taken them is something I have a few issues with. Using Beast as a catalyst for his run -- by breaking the time-stream to bring the original five X-Men forward to the present -- has seen Hank McCoy's character pretty badly damaged over the past few years; we'll see how all of that shakes out with his run-ending Uncanny X-Men #600.
But what does this have to do with the Guardians? Well, a lot of the problems that Bendis brought to the X-Men have popped up with the Guardians, too. The dialogue, while pretty snappy, doesn't quite fit all of the characters, and the plotting is so loose that there's not a good chance to really get a feel for the title or the team. I was hoping that this new volume would be a chance to introduce a new status quo for the Guardians that would see them somewhat more stable, but the first issue makes me a little nervous.
Peter Quill -- Star-Lord -- has taken over as leader of the Spartax Empire and left the group, which means Rocket is the de-facto leader. The Guardians spend the first issue stealing an unknown artifact from the Chitauri, and that serves as an introduction to the new team -- Rocket, Groot, Drax and Venom are joined by The Thing and Kitty Pride, who's taken on the mantle of Star-Lady. (But where's Lockheed?)
In order to find out what the thing does, the Guardians visit an obviously unhappy Peter and it's clear they're not on the best of terms with each other for various reasons. But before they can do much in the way of expositing, the issue ends with the appearance of two people -- one the ally, the other, a villain.
It's all a bit...shallow. There isn't any room for deeper character beats, and the plot points don't even get a chance to sink in before we're on to the next thing. It makes me wonder if Bendis simply can't write team books all that well; while he's really able to do amazing work with single character books, I'm really not digging his team stuff. Maybe it'd be better to pick up Iron Man and drop this title? I don't know.
Next month will see The Ultimates, Extraordinary X-Men (Welcome to Marvel, Jeff Lemire!) and a whole host of other titles for ANAD Marvel, and I'm sure I'll pick up a lot more titles than I mean to. See you then!
jakebe: (Self-Improvement)
October was a pretty intense month. I went in for full training on changing my position at work, which means there are a LOT of holes in my technical knowledge that need to be filled. The shift also means that I'm down in the trenches with coworkers a bit more, and that means an opportunity to change the culture that I'd feel awful not taking. It's important to me that any community I'm a part of feels more like a community because I'm a part of it -- that may sound egotistical, but I like being a glue. I want to make people feel more connected, like someone has their back.
But that means paying attention to work in ways that I hadn't before, which also means that it has to get a lot more of my time and energy. Because things happened so suddenly, I had to drop any other plans I had made in order to make sure I had the emotional space for it. Now that there are a few weeks of this under my belt, I think I'm able to take a beat or two to see where my head's at and what I feel I can do.
I'll still need to set aside a chunk of time to learn more about the technical aspects of my job, like getting to know Linux from the command line and how to work with PostGreSQL and maybe even learning more about SOAP API. But I'd also really like to use whatever remaining time I have for writing and reading -- immersing myself in stories that matter to me and learning how to tell them better.
I won't be able to join NaNoWriMo this year; there's simply too much going on, and I'm too far behind on a few other things. Still, in the spirit of the month I'd like to set a few goals. They'll be a bit more modest than what I may have originally planned, but I think they're a good challenge for what I can handle right now.
WRITING
Ugh, I'm so far behind. On everything. But no worries! This month I'd like to focus on making writing a regular practice, so projects are geared towards that. In addition to making sure The Writing Desk is updated three times a week, I'd like to work on articles for other blogs like [adjective][species] and perhaps Claw & Quill. I'm not sure I'll have anything ready to show this month -- besides, at least with [a][s] they have a pretty solid line-up of posts to take us through the holiday season. Seriously you guys, I really think you'll like what they have planned.
But there are things about the culture of the fandom I'd really like to write about -- what we want out of an art/writing/music community portal, how the broader politics of other SFF fandoms influence our own, how the fandom treats mental illnesses, social maladjustments, and the expression of fetishes that aren't seen as acceptable or respectable by the society at large. It's interesting stuff to me and there are no easy answers for this, but it's all top of mind and I think we should be talking about it, at least in a high-level way.
Here at The Writing Desk, I'll try to tighten the focus to storytelling and the lessons I'm learning from it -- which means more reviews of the stuff I've been reading, more thoughts on the lessons we can take from our stories to the broader world, and how our experiences in the broader world are baked into our stories. I'll talk about the bricks of my Afro-Futurist philosophy as I discover places for them, and the ideas that are taking shape in my mind as I'm writing stories.
As for the stories themselves -- well, I've got three short stories that I'd really like to finish before I really dive into anything new. "A Stable Love" is a commission that a friend of mine has been waiting on for years, and while I've been marching towards completion it's well past time it was done. Another friend generously donated to my Clarion Write-A-Thon fundraiser, earning a commissioned story that I'll begin as soon as "A Stable Love" is draft-complete. And then there's a short story that I would love to submit for the People of Color Destroy Science Fiction anthology coming up next year. I have the idea and the outline for it in my head, and I'm really excited to get started on that.
I'll also be working on a collaborative project with a few friends called "A Changing Perspective". It's a choose-your-own-adventure story spun off from an interactive over on writing.com; since that website has issues with advertising for their interactive space, I can't ask friends to go read those chapters in good conscience. A group of four writers has made an informal pact to revisit the interactive through Twile, and cone we've got significant chunks of the story underway we'll find a way to host it.
So for November, I'd like to finish "A Stable Love" and write 12 chapters for "A Changing Perspective"; update The Writing Desk three times a week; and have at least one complete article for both [adjective][species] and Claw and Quill. It's an ambitious schedule, but I think I can do it if I keep my focus.
READING
I haven't been reading nearly as much as I should. I'll be honest -- I'm a slow reader, and I often spend time I could spend reading doing something else, like playing mobile games. Making an effort to read more means spending more of my downtime devoted to it, and that's something I'm very much in favor of.
This month, I'd like to finish two (I believe) short novels that I've been wanting to read for a very long time -- Kindred by Octavia Butler and Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin. The former is a great introduction to one of the biggest black voices in science-fiction, and has been served to me as an Outlander-type story of the slavery South. It sounds like it'll be incredibly rough, but an illuminating read. The second is a good introduction to one of the best black intellectual voices from the Harlem Renaissance, and that alone has got me tremendously excited. Reading up on black literature -- not just sci-fi/fantasy, but novels, essays, and poetry -- is something that I want to feel better rooted to the tradition I'm coming out of. I'm hoping that it will help me better understand why my community is the way it is these days, and better imagine what my community will be like in the future, or how it would deal with magic, or how my personal experience fits in to an Afro-Futurist context.
I'll also be reading through the slush pile for New Fables, though we generally only have poetry to deal with at this point; short stories and novels from friends, of course; and the comics that are coming through the pike as part of All-New, All-Different Marvel. Exciting times, and as usual there is no shortage of reading material.
ELSEWHERE
There is no shortage of demands for attention these days -- it's tough to distill your life down to the essential things that you want to be doing. One of the things I've been trying to remind myself is that everything I do is a choice; if I spend a lot of time doing something that doesn't get me closer to being a writer or someone with good technical skills, that's a choice I've made. If I goof off instead of do something equally enjoyable but possibly more enriching, that's a choice I've made. At this point, it's important to make good choices about how I spend my time. There are only so many hours in the day, and it's in my best interests to make them count.
This is a bit of a tangent, but it's a bit like shaping your diet so that you eat better. If you're trying to make sure you only eat a certain number of Calories per day, then it becomes a lot more important to make sure those Calories are doing something for you -- either helping you with your exercise routine, or making sure you're full for longer, or helping out with your digestion. When your Calories become precious or finite, the impact of empty Calories -- those in say, candy or a milkshake -- becomes startlingly apparent. If I'm holding myself down to 2000 Calories in a day, I really can't afford to spend 650 of them on an Oreo milkshake, no matter how much I want to. It's either that, or dinner.
Bringing that awareness to my time is a lesson steadily, painfully being learned. There's only so much free time that I have on a weekday; an hour before work, if I wake up on time, and maybe two or three afterwards. What am I doing with those four precious hours? Am I playing Marvel Puzzle Quest on my phone? Am I looking at Facebook without actually absorbing any of the information I see there? What else could I have done that would help me get closer to the life I'd like to be living?
This month I'll try to make more responsible decisions about how I spend my time. Don't get me wrong -- I know that I'll need to blow off some steam, or do something inconsequential sometimes to relieve some stress. I'd like those activities to be a mindful choice, though, not the easiest option available, or some sort of default.
To those of you participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck! This will be a crazy and exciting month for you. I hope it's fulfilling as well. Let's get to work.
jakebe: (Reading Rabbit)

I fell in with comic books through Marvel, and I'll never forget it. I was vaguely aware of comics growing up -- how could you not know about Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man -- but the first time I heard about a story that made me think "I have to read this" was the Age of Apocalypse saga, where Charles Xavier's insane son goes back in time to kill Magneto but mistakenly kills Professor X instead. For four glorious months, the entire line of X-Men books were replaced by a post-apocalyptic hell where Apocalypse has taken over the world and a desperate band of humans and defecting mutants are trying to stop him. I had never heard of a storyline as ambitious as that, and I don't think there's been a crossover Marvel has pulled off that well before or since.

Ever since then, I've jumped in and out of the comic stream. I left for a while, came back for Grant Morrisson's New X-Men run, then left for a while and came back for Bendis' All-New X-Men run, and now I'm lapsed again. I wish I hadn't -- Hickman's Avengers work is currently wrapping up on the Secret Wars crossover, which has basically destroyed Marvel's entire multiverse and replaced it with a patchwork world where Dr. Doom is God. This is the end-game of Hickman's work across Fantastic Four, FF, Avengers, New Avengers and Avengers World; he's been leading to this for years. It's that kind of long-form storytelling I really appreciate and applaud, and I wish I had been reading the story in real-time.

This month, Marvel is releasing the comics that come after Secret Wars; we catch up with the multiverse eight months after the end of Doom's Battleworld and the restoration of the multiverse. However, this is a chance for the company to pull a line-wide reset on every single title, so there'll be an enormous wave of brand-new comics hitting the shelves over the next few months. So which comics are worth getting in your local shops every Wednesday? Which are fine getting digital? And which ones do you probably want to wait for the trade paperbacks on?

Marvel is doing a lot of really different stuff with this launch, featuring a great array of diverse books featuring African-American, Native American, Asian-American and women superheroes front and center. Captain America is still black; Thor is still a woman; the Avengers will feature those two as well as Ms. Marvel (a Pakistani Muslim), Ultimate Spider-Man (half-black, half-Latino Miles Morales) and Kid Nova, Sam Alexander. Of the seven folks on the main roster, only the original Iron Man Tony Stark still has his spot.

Diversity is given a serious run here, and I think it's important to show Marvel we dig what they're doing. It's not enough that we show up on message boards and at Comic-Cons asking for it; when they're giving us what we want, we should show up at the comic book shops too. Personally, I'll buy the paper version of any title I think needs the support most; the titles that will probably be fine but I still want to read will get bought digitally; and the stuff that I'm curious about but not sold on will have to wait for the trade paperback. I only have so much money, after all, and a geek's got to eat.

So here's my pull list for All-New, All-Different Marvel. What's yours? Let me know in the comments!

PAPER COPY, EVERY WEDNESDAY
Black Panther
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Art by Brian Stelfreeze

I've only recently been turned on to Ta-Nehisi Coates this year, and already he's become one of my favorite voices in all of black geekdom. So when I heard he was getting the keys to Black Panther, there was simply no way I could miss that. The first twelve-issue story arc will feature a revolution in Wakanda, and T'Challa trying to figure out how to deal with it. I cannot wait for this. This is going to be amazing.

Howling Commandos of SHIELD
Written by Frank Barbiere; Art by Bren Schoonover

A motley crew of monsters -- including a robot version of Dum Dum Duggan, Warwolf (a gun-toting werewolf), Man-Thing (a gigantic swamp creature) and Hit-Monkey (a...deranged monkey?) -- take out supernatural threats while struggling with their own monstrous natures. This book is too insane not to take up; I really dig the theme of trying to do good while being fundamentally apart from a society that will never accept you. This is one of the more bizarre concepts Marvel is throwing at the wall, and while I don't expect it to last very long I really want to support it while it's there.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Written by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclaire; Art by Natacha Bustos

First of all, Devil Dinosaur in his own ongoing! Moon Girl is a pre-teen black girl named Lunella Lafayette who is also a dormant Inhuman; however, she doesn't want superpowers. She wants to continue being the prodigy she is, so she's looking for ways to prevent transformation. That desire to stay who you are, to hide the weirdness inside you, is a really compelling hook for me. Also, this is one of the few ongoing comics to be (co)written and drawn by women!

Totally Awesome Hulk
Written by Greg Pak; Art by Frank Cho

Amadeus Cho is the new Hulk! Gone is the brooding Bruce Banner; Cho wants to embrace being enormous and green. This comic hands the mantle of the Hulk to a Korean-American prodigy, featuring Greg Pak returning to the title he's best known for, with Frank Cho pulling art duties; two Korean-Americans creating a superhero comic with a Korean-American protagonist! You can't do better than that.

Red Wolf
Written by Nathan Edmonson; Art by Dalibor Talajic

This is the biggest question mark; this version of Red Wolf hails from one of the patchwork realities that made up Battleworld in Secret Wars, so Marvel won't get into any issues with portraying a real Native American tribe, but...is that better? While they will have a Native American artist doing covers, it remains to be seen just how the character will be treated and what the book will look like. Still, just making the attempt is something, and I'm planning to see how it shakes out.


DIGITAL
Uncanny Inhumans
Written by Charles Soule; Art by Steve McNiven

The Inhumans are being set up as a mainstay of the Marvel Universe moving forward (whether we like it or not), and this will probably be the flagship title for them. I've heard nothing but great things about Charles Soule, and I'm curious about this little corner of the comic universe; with Agents of SHIELD setting up the Inhumans incredibly well in the cinematic universe, I'd like to read more about them. Mutant and original X-Man Beast is defecting to their crew, and where he goes I follow.

All-New X-Men
Written by Dennis Hopeless; Art by Mark Bagley

It is not a good time to be a mutant after Secret Wars. The Terrigen Mists, which have been released into the biosphere, have rendered them sick and sterile. The surviving mutants are warring with the Inhumans as they fight to keep their species alive. And the time-displaced original X-Men -- Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Angel -- are still in this reality. Determined to lead by example, they've set out to be the superheroes they know they should be. I'm really curious about this take on the X-Men; it feels like a bit of a throwback but at the same time tackles the "nature vs. nurture" question in really interesting ways.

Spider-Man
Written by Brian Michael Bendis; Art by Sarah Pichelli

Miles Morales is probably one of the only people who've made it out of the Ultimate Universe, and that's probably because he moves so many books; still, he's a really compelling character and I cannot wait to see how he fits in with the main universe. Bendis made his bones on this title 20 years ago to usher in the Ultimate Universe, so he has an amazing handle on this character and where to take Morales next.

Ms. Marvel
Written by G. Willow Wilson; Art by Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona

Kamala Khan has, in many ways, lead the charge of this all-new, all-different Marvel. Her introduction to the main universe was a surprise hit for the company, and she's being placed in a position of prominence during this reconfiguration initiative. Not only is she one of the Avengers now, she's also getting a brand-new volume of her massively successful solo comic; I cannot wait to see what G. Willow Wilson (one of the only Muslim writers working in comics that I know of) has in store for her after Secret Wars.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Written by Brian Michael Bendis; Art by Valerio Schitti

ROCKET RACCOON IS IN CHARGE! After Secret Wars, Star-Lord has left the Guardians to become the leader of the Spartax Empire, which means Rocket, Groot, Drax, and Venom have to find a way to make do on their own. They're joined by an alternate-universe Kitty Pride as the new Star-Lord and the Thing finally fulfilling his potential as an astronaut. Bendis has actually been killing it on this title ever since he took it over, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the team comes together after all of these changes.


TRADE PAPERBACK
All-New, All-Different Avengers
Written by Mark Waid; Art by Mahmud Asrar and Andy Kubert

You have to hand it to Marvel; they aren't kidding around with remaking their universe. This is a directive to shake things up from the top down: the Avengers are almost completely changed -- Iron Man is the one guy who's a member of the Big Three, joined by the new Captain America (Sam Wilson), the new Thor (Jane Foster), Vision, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Nova (Sam Alexander). I'd be worried about the roster if it weren't for Mark Waid, who excels at taking titles in great new directions that inject a sense of serious fun into them. This is the perfect team for his style.

Extraordinary X-Men
Written by Jeff Lemire; Art by Humberto Ramos

I've been a fan of Lemire ever since he broke onto the scene with the excellent, strange post-apocalyptic tale Sweet Tooth; the success of that book has propelled him onto DC's main titles with a run on Green Arrow before Marvel's snapped him up to shepherd the new flagship X-title. Storm is leading the mutant nation through another extinction crisis with Colossus, Magik, Nightcrawler, Forge, the present-day Iceman, the time-displaced Jean Grey and Old Man Logan. Marvel's X-Men are always at their best when they're put in the hands of great writers with distinct voices, so this is a great move.

Weirdworld
Written by Sam Humphries; Art by Mike del Mundo

I really should pick up the Secret Wars miniseries before picking up this title, but I find it so intriguing. Weirdworld is basically Marvel's sword-and-sorcery universe, and they're pulling it out of mothballs to give it a go. It's so rare for one of the Big Two to go in this direction that I have to see what they do with it; I don't think it's going to last very long, but I want to throw my money at other projects I think are more important to support.

So that's it: 13 titles that I plan on supporting once All-New, All-Different Marvel gets going, and there are plenty more that I would like to take a look at -- the new Howard the Duck, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, The Ultimates (featuring Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spectrum, Ms. America and Blue Marvel), Power Man and Iron Fist, just to name a few. Simply put, it's a VERY good time to be a Marvel fan.

Weekends

Aug. 24th, 2008 06:40 pm
jakebe: (Pride)
Weight This Week: 173.2 lbs.
Weight Last Week: 175.0 lbs.
Change: -1.8 lbs.

Time: 11 minutes
Distance: 1.02 miles
Top Speed: 6.5
Calories: 121

Chest Press: 100 lbs.
Bent Arm Cable Pulldown: 45 lbs.
Stomach Crunches: 30
Push-Ups: 25

I've lost three pounds in two weeks, but I don't really trust the readings. 173 lbs. is still within my 'normal' range, so I won't be convinced that I'm getting the weight loss thing down until I start flirting with 165. Nonetheless, I'm continuing to make gains with weight training, even though since I've upped the exercises my arms give out before I can hit 30 push-ups.

I couldn't make thirty minutes today because I started wheezing way too early on the treadmill, and it felt like my chest was tightening up. It was kind of alarming, to be honest. I'm pretty sure it's dehydration; I've had scads of coffee and alcohol this weekend, without much water. Woops. ;) I really need to get to the point where I'm OK drinking water from the tap; I've gotten spoiled on free bottled water from Adobe.

Elsewhere this weekend I've been really productive. I took my college placement tests on Saturday and did pretty well on those, though this is community college we're talking about. The math test kicked my ass a little bit (but I've rediscovered the joy of algebra and trigonometry, hooray!), but apparently I did well enough that I can take any beginner's math course I want.

I registered for English Composition IA, which is the highest beginner's course they have. I'll need to make an appointment with a counselor this week, though, to explain my situation and see if I *need* to transfer my credits over from St. Mary's. The way I see it, I would rather have a fresh start at secondary schooling, and I'd like to not mess with all that business unless I have to. If I can get away with it, I'd gladly take English Comp I over again; I don't mind taking the refresher course to get me back into fighting shape, as it were.

One thing this has re-awakened in me (in a hurry, I might add), is that perfectionist tendency, that desire to do extremely well. I scored a 97, 90, and 87 on my three English tests and I was *disappointed*. I miss that. :) I know I can do better, and I like pushing myself. I just forgot I did.

Went to the comic book shop and dropped a lot of money in celebration; Illusive Comics, my local store of choice, went from being "OK" to "Fantastic" because of their sale, their owner, and the fact that they gave me a...beverage...when I asked for one. If you're local and you're into comics, I recommend these guys. They're in Santa Clara on El Camino Royale, right next to Amal's Juicy Burger.

Comic reviews will be coming again in the next day or two.
jakebe: (Geek)
Spoilers within! )

I don't expect people to read this, but I thought I would post it up anyway. That way if folks get caught up (or interested) they can always double back and take a peek, discuss.
jakebe: (Default)
Time: 35 minutes
Distance: 3.11 miles
Speed: 6.0 mph
Calories: 314


After this latest lapse, I'm pretty pleased that I was able to get right on the horse and go for the full run. In the beginning, after around ten minutes or so, I thought I wouldn't be able to do it but I kept on going anyway. I kept saying "One more song, see how you feel then." until the full time had elapsed.

In other news, there's lots of stuff going on. Work is ramping up, as always, in anticipation of the holiday season. I'm still addicted to Virtua Tennis 3, and I'm trying to plow through all the comics I've let myself get behind on. Right now I'm on Captain Carrot and the Final Ark, which is pretty entertaining, but I think Scott Shaw! (besides having a really dumb exclamation point next to his name) has backslid on his art quite a bit. It looks like he's been taking comic lessons from Christopher Hart or something. Ah well, it's really nice to see Bill Morrison back to doing the tongue-in-cheek stuff he does so well. I just wish he would get back to Roswell!

I'm thinking about having a Christmas Film Festival or something like it for the final week of December. Each night would be a different Christmas-themed movie, from Love Actually and Babe to It's A Wonderful Life and White Christmas. Once a schedule was made, folks could choose which nights they'd want to come over to watch films. What say you, local friends? Are you up for those kinds of shenanigans?

In other, other news, I'm feeling boring and tired. Good night!
jakebe: (Default)
The last few days of NaNoBloMo were missed, alas, and with it the last few days of thanksgiving. I don't really have a good excuse for this, besides being busy and/or lazy. Both of these practices have gotten me into the habit of blogging again, however, for better or for worse, so I thought I would start off the month with a few things that are bringing me joy right now.

Happy belated birthday, first of all, to [livejournal.com profile] seamusyote, an awesomely good fellow who's become a really close friend these past few months. It's safe to say that there's really no one like him, and he's helped a lot with the process of coming out of my shell and finding ways to face the world as it is. He's a frighteningly intelligent guy, and I'm really grateful that he's in my life.

Happy early birthday to [livejournal.com profile] reahkitty, who's hitting the big 3-0 tomorrow! I hope that everyone's getting her the necessary amounts of Metamucil. :D She's come a very long way in the time I've known her, and now she's happily married with a child who's her life and joy. You should be happy with your progress, Mamakitty. You're living up to the name. :D

And happy birthday to the loveliest dragon, [livejournal.com profile] toob. What can I say? I wake up every morning, and my first thought is how happy I am that I'm beside you. Usually, my second thought is how to get out of bed without waking you up. :D You've helped me grow in so many ways I couldn't begin to describe them, and I'm grateful for you showing me every single one. More than anyone you've shown me how fearless love can be, precisely because it *is* so scary to open up that wide, to make yourself this vulnerable. You're amazing, no matter how much you think you might not be.

I've been writing every day for the past few weeks, which I feel pretty good about. I don't want to toot my own horn too much, though; I'm still quite obviously a novice, but it helps that I can take pleasure in the small progress that I'm able to make. Just getting some kind of consistent practice is a huge feather in my cap; being able to do it often makes sure that I'll get better at it. One thing that I've been trying to pay attention to specifically is making sure that every scene moves the action along in some way, and that each character who's involved is...taken care of. Before whenever I've written something I've had an idea of how the characters are supposed to act or what was supposed to happen, but no idea of how things were to move. Now I'm getting a rudimentary idea, just by writing scenes so close together and keeping the question "What is this supposed to accomplish?" foremost in my thoughts. It's kind of neat to watch the story gaining momentum, one thing leading up to the next.

In my spare time, I've had the occasion to get addicted to a couple of video games. Oh dear! There's the always-present Brain Age and Brain Age 2, where Ryan and I have a friendly rivalry going. I haven't been able to get my age below 26 yet because I keep having the great misfortune of pulling Number Memory for one of my tests. Trying to memorize twenty-five numbers in completely random order is a lot more difficult than it sounds, and I can never do better than 15.

The other is Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga for the GBA. It's a neat little game that's simple enough not to be too frustrating, so there's a mild sense of accomplishment for figuring out the puzzles on my own. I've only needed the walkthrough twice so far, and that was because there were these details that I didn't notice. I've been trying to make Luigi buffer than Mario, because poor Mr. Green gets the short end of the stick so often, but they don't make it easy. ;) That's stalled a bit, actually, because I'm using the bus rides to work and home to catch up on Fables and to read John Gardner's The Art of Fiction. If you ever catch yourself using mass transit early in the mornings, a word to the wise: comic books are a lot easier to stomach before coffee than demanding writer's guides.

Finally, there's Virtua Tennis 3 for the PS3, which [livejournal.com profile] rikoshi was kind enough to throw my way. :) There's a World Tour mode where you can build your own player and take him through a 20-year career on the Sega Pro Tennis tour. I've built as my first player a giant, 6'8.5" Australian who tends to use a big serve and ball control to throw off his opponents. He's only on year 2, but he's ranked 154 in the world (you start at 300) and hasn't lost a tournament he's entered in. There are a few things I haven't figured out (serve control is really horrible, and I can't hit a drop shot to save my life), but he's progressing nicely. I think the interaction with other tennis players is completely random, but in my world he's good friends with Lleyton Hewitt, his arch-nemesis is Gael Monfils (read into that what you will) and Venus Williams has a healthy respect for him. :) Sad, yes, I know. Next I think I'll see if I can turn [livejournal.com profile] smileydanq into a pro tennis werebear. :D

Speaking of good ol' Dan, I've been seriously thinking about reviving his LiveJournal. The trouble about that is I would need to come up with a story all on my own, instead of piggybacking on [livejournal.com profile] arlekin's W:tA game. That's not a big deal really, but it does mean there's extra work involved. I'm wondering how much I would need to change his story to make things work; before he was an Inuit from Vancouver, BC, but seeing as how I know next to nothing about the Inuit and even less about western Canada, I'd have to do a little bit of research before I get started. Still, the idea of writing a regular journal completely in-character is an appealing one. I might want to see about updating this one a bit more regularly first, though.

November 2016

S M T W T F S
   1 2 3 45
6 789101112
13 14 1516171819
20 212223242526
27282930   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 05:04 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios