Wednesday, November 8, 2017

'Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook' #GraphicNovel by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook (Mycroft Holmes #1-5)Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mycroft Holmes, in this original story in graphic novel form, is a smug little sh*t. I love him.

He's not quite the same character as in the mystery novel Mycroft Holmes - he has a different back story with a different fiancee - but he's still his annoyingly superior, know-it-all self, and he's still quite competitive with little brother Sherlock. Cyrus Douglas does not appear in this story; this Mycroft has a female, American "Watson," kind of like Lucy Liu's character on Elementary (but not really).

This is an all-new adventure involving a cache of sci-fi weapons and an evil plan to auction them off to the highest bidder. Queen Victoria wants to be the highest bidder so the British Empire knows these steampunk weapons of mass destruction are in safe hands, and Mycroft has passed enough of her tests to become her agent.

In this he's assisted by Lark Adler, an American bounty hunter. Is she related to Irene? An older cousin, perhaps? We don't know. There is also mention of a respectable maths professor named James Moriarty.

I don't know if any more comics have been written in this series, but these five issues make for one intriguing graphic novel. The art is eye-popping and the story is fast-paced. This is a fine entry into the world of Holmesiana.



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Friday, October 20, 2017

Closed Captioned BDSM Content Available from Wasteland.com

(Note: Press Release)

Seminal site to expand inclusivity by meeting hearing impaired member needs

October 16, 2017 (Cyberspace) -- Wasteland.com is pleased to announce closed captioning for the hearing impaired on their BDSM content. The seminal site recently made two captioned titles available -- “The Interrogation of Delirious Hunter” and “Vyxen Steel - BDSM Test Pilot” -- and is working steadily to increase the number of captioned titles available in its library.  



Wasteland founder and CEO Colin Rowntree explained, “So much of what makes a BDSM scene erotic and intense is the dialogue between performers. We want all our Wasteland.com members to be able to enjoy the full experience of our content, so making captioning available only makes sense.”

 
“The Interrogation of Delirious Hunter” and “Vyxen Steel -- BDSM Test Pilot” are two of Wasteland’s most popular and dialogue-intensive recent releases, which prompted Rowntree to make these among the first captioned titles available.

 
In “The Interrogation of Delirious Hunter,” Master Joseph has caught Delirious Hunter snooping around his estate, obviously up to no good. He takes her to his interrogation room and proceeds to question her with a series of psychological games, intense impact, and sensation play culminating in orgasm denial. “Vyxen Steel - Test Pilot” takes place inside a secret subterranean experimentation facility located just outside London. Thanks to a beautiful volunteer from France (Vyxen Steel), Q and his men will be testing some new and interesting equipment guaranteed to make their subject show if she is qualified to be an agent.

 
“The manual workflow to add captioning to plot-heavy titles like ‘The Interrogation’ and “BDSM Test Pilot’ is pretty intense,” Rowntree added. “We feel very strongly about making our films accessible though, so it’s worth the effort!”  

 
Wasteland is also in the process of adding audio versions of all their fiction and how-to articles, specifically for the vision impaired.

 
Cutting-edge since the 1990s, Wasteland is committed first and foremost to member experiences via safe, sane, ethical, and authentic BDSM content. Closed captioning content to better meet members’ needs is a natural extension of this wider commitment.

 
About Wasteland.com

Founded and launched in 1994, Wasteland.com is the Internet's oldest and most esteemed BDSM, Fetish and alternative sexuality site. Priding itself on the quality of its authentic bdsm movies, Wasteland has produced over 1400 original bdsm films featuring lifestyle kinky folks performing a vast array of bondage, fetish, and sex acts that appeal to bondage aficionados around the world.

 
Image: Delirious Hunter and Joseph D. Copyright 2017 Wasteland.com

Thursday, October 19, 2017

J.K. Rowling's 'Very Good Lives'

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of ImaginationVery Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This should be required reading for everyone. J.K. Rowling doesn't just donate a portion of her wealth to Amnesty International -- she used to work for Amnesty International, taking testimonies of African victims of torture. She's seen the absolute worst humanity can do, so when she writes about evil, she knows of which she speaks.

This deeply wise woman addressed her remarks to Harvard's graduating class of 2008, but her words apply to every human life on this planet.

The illustrations are also delightful. I read this as a library e-book on my phone, but some day I'll purchase the hardcover book so I can enjoy the illustrations properly.



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Monday, October 9, 2017

What Would These Harry Potter Characters Do in Real Life?

What might our favorite Harry Potter characters do for a living if they lived in the Muggle world? Based on their magical careers and personalities, these occupations might suit these Harry Potter main characters in the real world.

Please note that some of the character information used in this post is derived from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. If you haven’t read that book or seen the play yet, be aware that you may be reading spoilers.

Harry Potter


We know that in the magical world, Harry James Potter became an Auror, a magical law enforcement officer. He rose through the ranks and by the time he was forty he became head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

In real life, Harry would be a police officer or a detective. He would most likely be a detective, responsible for gathering evidence and assembling the facts of criminal cases in preparation to go to trial with them.

Harry might be a criminal investigator for a territorial police force, or he might work for one of the United Kingdom’s national investigation agencies such as the National Crime Agency, the Ministry of Defence Police, the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, or the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. His experience with Voldemort’s terrorism would make him a good candidate for the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

Author: Bagui

Ron Weasley


Ronald Bilius Weasley worked with Harry as an auror for a time, but his law enforcement career didn’t last long. He left the Ministry of Magic to work with his older brother George at George’s retail store, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, the joke shop located at Number 93 Diagon Alley.

As the manager of a store selling props for magic tricks, novelties, candy, and fireworks, Ron would be classified in the real world as a "first-line supervisor of retail sales workers" (in the language of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). If he lived in the U.S., he might run a seasonal pop-up store that sold Halloween costumes and decorations. Given his wife’s more high-paying career, it’s also likely Ron would take some time off from retail sales to be a stay-at-home dad to his daughter Rose and son Hugo.

Hermione Granger

Hermione Jean Granger, despite being the daughter of two dentists, grew up to work her way through the Ministry of Magic and rise to the rank of Minister for Magic.

In the real world, Hermione Granger would work her way up from local politics to be elected to the House of Commons. After years of dedicated service to the people, her party, and the Crown, Hermione would be appointed Prime Minister. We’d refer to her as The Right Honourable Hermione Granger (or, internationally, Her Excellency).

Ginny Weasley


Ginevra Molly “Ginny” Weasley is a former professional athlete, sports reporter, and sports editor for the wizarding newspaper The Daily Prophet. Her sport is Quidditch; she played chaser for the Holyhead Harpies.

In the real world, Ginny’s sport might be football (soccer to U.S. sports fans). While real Quidditch teams do exist (minus the magic, of course), women in England have been playing football for over 100 years.

Ginny would likely be a midfielder in the Football Association Women’s Premier League. With her football experience and, perhaps, a degree in communications, her career path of player to reporter to editor makes as much sense in the real world as it does in the magical one.

Neville Longbottom


Neville Longbottom, like Harry and Ron, started out as an Auror. Then he switched career paths and went on to teach Herbology at Hogwarts.

Since Herbology is not a subject taught at postsecondary institutions in the U.K., real-world Neville might be a professor of biology specializing in plant science. His students might be working toward degrees such as Plant and Soil Science or Molecular Biology (or Cellular Biology) with a concentration in Plant Science.

Luna Lovegood


Notoriously eccentric, Luna Lovegood became a magizoologist, specializing in the study and care of magical creatures. This career choice was, no doubt, influenced by her marriage to Rolf Scamander, the grandson of Newton “Newt” Scamander, the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In the real world, Luna Lovegood might be an eccentric blogger, perhaps specializing in the field of cryptozoology. As a Ravenclaw, she would naturally be drawn to seek out knowledge and the field of writing. Writing about cryptids such as the Loch Ness Monster would allow her to express her creativity and exercise her curiosity. Her careful attention to SEO (seach engine optimization) would help her find a wider audience and display her Ravenclaw erudition.

Since Neville would work in a hard science field related to biology, he and Luna would have a lot of interesting discussions. He would probably try to explain to her why cryptozoology is classified as a pseudoscience. She would probably remind him of the Dingiso and other cryptids that turned out to be real and encourage him to keep an open mind.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Giorgio de Chirico Artist Biography

(Note: This is a piece I wrote for a freelance client that didn't end up getting used.) 

Born July 10, 1888 in Volos, Greece - Died November 20, 1978 in Rome, Italy


Giorgio de Chirico is an Italian painter whose metaphysical painting style was greatly influential to the Surrealism movement. His pre-World War I work differs greatly in style and philosophy from his post-World War I work. Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, and other Surrealist painters cited de Chirico as influential on their work.

Public domain image by Carl Van Vechten, 1936

Artistic Activity


Giorgio de Chirico was born in Greece to two Italian parents. He first studied art in Florence, then moved to Germany. In Munich, he studied under the German artist Max Klinger and read the works of German philosophers.

Prior to the First World War, de Chirico is credited with creating the Scuola metafisica movement along with Carlo Carrà. These “metaphysical” paintings are characterized by images of cluttered, darkened interiors and mannequin-like human figures as well as a “haunted” or introspective mood.

In 1919, de Chirico published an article promoting a return to craftsmanship, or traditional painting methods. After its publication, his works exhibited a neoclassical style, influenced by Raphael and other past masters.

During the 1920s, Surrealist painter André Breton discovered de Chirico’s work. While critical of de Chirico’s traditionalist work, the Surrealist movement found de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings highly influential. De Chirico was highly critical of modern art.

After 1939, de Chirico painted in a neo-Baroque style. He remained a prolific painter until his death at age 90.

Giorgio de Chirico’s Most Important Works


• “The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon” (1910) is the first painting in de Chirico’s metaphysical painting series.
• “The Child’s Brain” (1914) is the painting that won de Chirico the attention of André Breton.
• “The Disquieting Muses” (1916) is exemplary of a recurring theme in de Chirico’s work (the Muses of Classical mythology) and inspired a Sylvia Plath poem of the same name.
• “Self Portrait” (1924) exemplifies de Chirico’s work of the 1920s, with its return to traditionalist techniques and Renaissance inspiration.

Related Artists


Georgios Roilos
Georgios Jakobides
Max Klinger
Carlo Carrà
André Breton
Salvador Dalí

Terms Associated with Artist


Neo-Baroque
Neoclassical
Scuola metafisica
Surrealism

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Favorite Songs From the 'Ready Player One' Book Soundtrack

You can find the playlist on Spotify. 


I've finished listening to the audio book of Ready Player One, but I haven't gotten Ernest Cline's follow-up novel, Armada, out of the library yet. So, to tide me over, I've been listening to the Spotify playlist of all the songs mentioned in the book.

These are my personal favorites. As you may recall from this post, I was born in 1977 (as were Orlando Bloom, Ludacris, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and other ridiculously hot hotties). I grew up in the 1980s and will always have a special place in my heart for '80s music.

Among my favorites has always been Duran Duran. My all-time favorite DD song that I never seem to get tired of is "Hungry Like the Wolf." I even used it in the book trailer for "Oliver's Good Night Kiss."

Two Duran Duran songs show up in RP1. Both have incredibly weird videos. Here is one of them, "Wild Boys."


I own many Duran Duran albums on CD. One song that I like without knowing much of anything about the group that produced it is "Blue Monday" by New Order. I know they were British; that's about it.



"Blue Monday" is one I don't actually remember from the '80s, but discovered during the '90s. Pat Benatar, on the other hand, I have always been well aware of. The book Dead Is a Battlefield kept reminding me of her. Her song mentioned in RP1 is "Invincible."


Lastly from the Spotify list, I enjoy the Cline mention "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour. I know it reminds a lot of people of a scene in the John Hughes movie Say Anything, but honestly, I've never been very interested in John Hughes. It's just a beautiful song.


The playlist has other artists I like, but not my preferred songs from them. I like Cyndi Lauper, but not necessarily for "Time After Time." I'll listen to some Blondie songs if they're on the radio, but I don't know "Atomic." When I was a kid I thought Billy Idol was pretty cool, but I wouldn't necessarily enjoy listening to "Rebel Yell" now. The fictional James Halliday's playlist is a bit testosterone-heavy for my rather feminine tastes. 

If I were to make a playlist inspired by RP1, I would add "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco. The song isn't mentioned by name in the book, but Falco is. Parzival's asteroid home base in the Oasis is named after him.


Parzival/Wade, having studied The Simpsons, would be aware of the "Dr. Zaius"/Planet of the Apes parody of the song.


"Amadeus" is mostly in German -- Falco was Austrian -- but I don't care and never have cared. I have loved this song since it was a brand-new hit in 1986 when I was nine. And that was probably before my music teacher made us watch the Milos Forman movie that inspired it, Amadeus, in school.

I guess I've always been a sucker for 18th-century period costume, even before I discovered Jane Austen. (Which was 1996 when I saw Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma.)

What are your favorite tracks from the book soundtrack?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

'Ready Player One' as Read by Wil Wheaton - SPOILERS

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My cousin's husband told me several years ago that I should listen to the audio book version of this, read by Wil Wheaton.


I finally got to it since the movie is coming out and, well, because I was walking down the audio book aisle at my local public library and my gaze happened to fall upon it. I'm glad I took the time to listen to Wil Wheaton's performance, which has the perfect amount of deadpan snark, like a Charles Dickens novel.

Having grown up in the '80s, I'm familiar with many of the pop culture references, although not all of them. I never played Dungeons and Dragons, for example - much of my knowledge of D+D comes secondhand through Futurama. But like any American person who didn't live in a cave in the '80s, I watched Devo videos on MTV, played Pac-Man (at the arcade and on my dad's Atari console, which I can still recall him bringing home from Target), and ate my fair share of Cap'n Crunch cereal.

(I'm not sure I ever ate the Pac-Man cereal, but I know I ate many of those Pac-Man ghost ice pops with the gumball eyes that the ice cream truck used to peddle AND many a can of Pac-Man chicken-flavored pasta. That has to count for something.)

The point being, I connected with many of the pop culture references, but I did not feel that they got in the way of the storytelling. Wade/Parizal was a character I cared about. I wanted him to succeed and achieve his goal. I wanted his feelings for Art3mis to be returned.

XXX SPOILER AHEAD XXX

I wanted Daito to be alive, but alas, we can't have everything we want.

Despite a few tears shed, I genuinely enjoyed listening to the audio book performance of this novel.



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