July 29, 2014

An (un)Interesting Drug: The Graphic Novel by Manning and Wieszczyk

So you’re a genius who flamed out of college. Then this guy comes into your life, telling you that you are the guy who invented a time travel drug. What do you do? Since your sister died when you were younger you want to make that invention so you can change the past so she doesn’t die.
Simple, right. At least it makes for….”An Interesting Drug”.
Bottom line here is that I wanted to like the book, but I didn’t. The drawings were too busy, the palette is a succession of monochromes (though they are for a reason, to show the different time periods. However there is a heavy reliance on this ugly mustard yellow that doesn’t work for me).
Then there’s the time travel. The drug is one sort of time travel, but the “bad” guy figures out another sort of time travel – it all gets really distractingly hand-wavey there.
Finally, crazy plot point that annoyed me. Main character goes back to school, and he is allowed to run drug tests through his own lab at school on humans. And he’s an undergraduate. The lab supervisor and the Standards & Ethics Committee were all asleep at the switch. Meh.

Death Haiku

A friend who is battling cancer asked me to write him a death haiku. I thought it a little morbid, but here it is.

July 18, 2014

I was a little disappointed with the 2014 Sports Illustrated Almanac

I bought this to brush up on sports history ahead of a tryout for Sports Jeopardy.

I didn't make the cut, but that's not why I take away a star. Overall this is a clean-looking book, and it is easy to read despite the denseness of the subject matter. There are records and stats for all the major sports and a lot of the minor ones -- though it is American-centric. You don't get cricket or rugby, and the only soccer is for the international competitions.

The first problem is that there is no index. This wasn't a major problem for me, because I was reading it cover-to-cover, but after the tryout I went to look up some of the questions I missed and it was hard to find the answers. There is a tabs system, so you can page to the area the book covers the specific sport, but then you have to dig.

The second problem is that there are enough typos and formatting problems that it is distracting for someone who is sitting through and reading the whole thing. I don't have it in front of me, but the one I set to my head is on around page 520 or so. The book is discussing women's golf international team events, and in the listing one of the teams is listed as the 'international Tea," With the comma in there. Now, it is easy to make that typo, since there is not much space between the comma and the letter "M", all I'm saying is that there needed to be a more careful copy-editing session. In the past several years I have read cover-to-cover the more general World Almanac and Book of Facts for a more successful  game-show tryout. There were much fewer of these problems, with much more information. I wish they did a Sports Almanac.

July 15, 2014

On "Blue is the Warmest Color" the Graphic Novel

I was at my library the other day, and I came across a graphic novel of “Blue is the Warmest Color”. I didn’t even know that it was a graphic novel.

And the truth is I grabbed it because of the buzz about the movie. It was supposed to be an incredibly graphic and sexy movie. I thought that the book would have the same elements.

It does, but the sexy parts are only part of the book. It is in fact an incredibly well-written and moving story about love and personal discovery – the fact that the two main characters are women seems almost incidental (almost, but maybe also not at all). Read it.

July 10, 2014

Reading "The Harlem Hellfighters" by Max Brooks

If you like books about war, graphic novels, and books that shine a light on social injustice, this is the book for you.

It tells the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, segregated group of African-American soldiers in WWI. They were excluded and reviled, but were highly decorated. It is well told, and well illustrated. The only issue is that the black and white illustrations are sometimes too busy when showing battles in the trenches, so it is hard to differentiate and to know what is going on. Otherwise, it compares favorably to other books in the genre from writers such as Jacques Tardi’s “It Was the War of the Trenches”. A good read and well-worth it.

And it was written by that guy who is famous for writing about zombies. It seems he is not one-dimensional after all!