Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #968 - Where are my damn rocket boots?

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #968 - Where are my damn rocket boots?

Hi Mom,

Hello last day of February.

So, it's been a while since there was much of any comic book content on this blog. Granted, I have been writing about Black Panther -- because, you know, A GREAT MOVIE came out, just sayin' -- so there was that Kirby Black Panther post and a post on the current Black Panther comic within the last couple of weeks. But before those posts, my last post that was not a T-shirt reprint as in Hey Mom #939 reprinting more Black Panther stuff again, it was January fifth when I shared about DC and Marvel Sales and even longer since I wrote something original or shared comic book cover galleries, such as maybe July 7th, 2017 with Hey Mom #731 and a reprint of stuff about the Legion of Superheroes or Hey Mom #682 from May 19, 2017 when I shared a cover gallery that was not themed.

So, I know. I have been remiss in original content and even more remiss with posts about comic books I am reading. I have several comic book posts in various states of completion, most recently a post I want to finish writing on recent Batman comic books that I thought were excellent and worthy of note. Stay tuned. I intend to write that post.

Today is another share, but it is also an extraction. I am putting it in the Hey Mom Reprint category, even though it was never a Hey Mom post, as you can see, Mom, as I originally posted the content in April of 2015, three months before you died.

I think this is one of my better pieces of writing, and so I am happy to share it again as a stand alone and not part of the original weekly comics posting (which was more like a monthly feature anyway).

I added a couple of links. I added a link to the typewriter post mentioned in the text, which is another of the better things I have written; also, I posted a link to the entire Nova comic book cover gallery that I have on the blog as a stand alone because I didn't want to add it to any post, especially this one. See the Nova links section for the Nova cover link.

And then I close with a totally random comic book cover gallery because it was time.


This entry was originally posted here: http://sensedoubt.blogspot.com/2015/04/weekly-comics-for-140827.html


Being the meandering and unstructured thoughts of chris tower who reads too many comic books by some people's definition of "too many" and has very little time to write about what he has read.

Looking through the comics for August 27, 2014, I was struck by the image of NOVA from Guardians of the Galaxy #18. Following this line of thought, I am once again on a nostalgia trip back to the 1970s, much like the last blog's investigation of typewriters.

Today's blog post will investigate our world and culture of both the past and the future with the present as its launch point. This last part about the present as launching point may seem obvious, and yet I could surely launch from a different time and perspective, so it seems important to note.

The idea of a superhero that is essentially a human rocket with an indestructible helmet made out of an alien metal excited me beyond capacity for words as a teenager of 14 years of age when Nova #1 premiered in September of 1976. I was so taken with the character of Nova that I asked my father to make one of the best cake designs in frosting he ever accomplished for my birthday a few months later in January of 1977 as I have already immortalized on my T-shirts blog and do so again here.

For more on my childhood and birthdays, please consult: Birthdays at my house in T-shirt 303 Space Ghost. I still think this is an amazing cake decoration. Just the use of the yellow-colored frosting is worth noting. But look at what a great job he did with the star patterns on Nova's chest. My Dad would practice the designs on wax paper often before committing the final design to the cake.

I am forever indebted and privileged to have a father who would devote such time into making a frosting design as intricate as this one and a mother who facilitated the rest of the birthday treats. I had an idyllic childhood.

And yet I digress...

 My childhood is a story I already explored in the afore-linked blog post. Back to Nova and the future.

From the beginning Nova was called the Human Rocket, which is why I asked about the whereabouts of my damn rocket boots in the subtitle. Visually, the way artists draw Nova in flight looks like he has rocket boots, and since Iron Man does, this seems a logical leap.

Those of you who are REALLY comic nerds know that Nova does not have actual rocket boots. I am taking a bit of artistic license here for the sake of a clearer science object that makes more sense for my subject: the promised future that has not been delivered. In truth, Nova's power comes from the Nova-Force. The special Xandarian helmet manifests the suit, which doubles as sealed space-suit when needed, and propels Nova in flight at incredible speeds. As you can see in art from the issue, John Buscema draws Nova's rocket-like flight  as if his entire lower body is a propulsion effect, much like the characterization of Cannonball in Marvel Comics in the 1980s.

Being a human rocket seemed  like a great idea at the age of 15. The hard round, bullet-style helmet, the blasting-like rocket effect, the super-fueled joyride are all very much allusions to sex and puberty and the cosmic-powered hormones coursing through the veins of all boys at this age. To a boy in those circumstances, rocket boots seemed like the perfect fashion accessory. I was ready to explode and reach escape velocity in just a few seconds.

I am sure you "get" the allusion here.

I have always seen the connections between this kind of super-power and sex, but I have resisted the idea many psychologists pander (starting with Freud) that dreams of flying are always about sex.

Why aren't dreams of flying, sometimes, just about flying?

Even forty some years later, the idea of flying is very attractive just as a stress-reliever, and though this may be intermingled with desire for sex in ways that cannot be easily separated, if I think too much about Nova and his flight powers, I may dream of flying, and right now, unlike my fourteen-year-old self, the dream may be more about flying than sex.

But this blog post is not about sex; it's about Nova as the Human Rocket and the future we were promised, which has not really come to pass in some ways, and yet has exceeded our expectations in others.

But first, more about NOVA.

From 1975 or so until some time in the early 1980s, I enjoyed subscriptions to some Marvel Comics that I loved, such as Uncanny X-Men (the new Claremont-Cockrum-Byrne works), AvengersFantastic Four, and Howard the Duck. I was also a much more frequent visitor to various news stands and had more allowance money than when I was younger, and so I was able to put together consistent and consecutive runs of many of the titles I liked beyond those I have listed, such as Iron FistKillravenLegion of Superheroes,  and Daredevil. But the subscriptions ensured that I would not miss issues and that the issues would arrive in the postal mail, for the most part, in nearly pristine condition.

From 1976 to 1979, Marvel published twenty-five glorious issues of Nova -- oddly later re-named The Man Called Nova. I adored these comic books. I was a huge Nova fan from the very beginning, mainly because he was a Human Rocket. I also really liked the Spider-Men re-tread. Richard Rider (with a name just as alliterative as Peter Parker) was a teenager, like me, who is given the powers of the Nova Force -- an alien helmet and a skin-tight space suit, augmenting his teenaged body with well-sculpted muscles-- by a dying Nova Centurion, very much like the passing of the alien power ring in from the former, dying Green Lantern, to the new protector, Hal Jordan, in the Silver Age DC Comics stories.

Now, researching the origins for Nova, I am excited to learn that Marv Wolfman (who would go on to create one of my favorite comics of all time at DC in The New Teen Titans) originally conceived Nova in a fanzine in the 1960s with Len Wein. This is meaningful to me because I did my own fanzine writing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Ten years after Wolfman's own fanzine era, working at Marvel Comics as an editor and writer, he launches Nova, which runs for a delightful twenty-five issues before flaming off. Near the end, it sputtered, going bi-monthly and with artist Carmine Infantino replacing the Buscemas, mostly Sal Buscema, who drew the majority of the issues. No quality was lost there as Infantino was highly skilled (though I prefer the Buscemas), but the look of Nova did take on that of The Flash, and Infantino's work at DC.

Nova developed a rogue's gallery of his own villains, including Powerhouse, Condor, and Diamondhead, who later all teamed up in issue six, organized by the "Dreaded One," who we later learned was the Sphinx. The faceless Megaman terrorized Rich and his family starting in issue five and culminating in issues eight and nine, and Nova faced off against the Sphinx, finally, in issues ten and eleven. The Sphinx with his glowing eyes and over-large body might have provided the template for classic X-Men villains like Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister in the decades to follow. All the Nova villains were as brightly colored and unique as Nova himself. Also, the over-arching story that linked all the issues that first year felt very special. I had missed starting out on the ground floor with most of the comics I loved. My first issue of The Fantastic Four was #69 and my first issue of Spider-Man was #54, but here, with Nova, I was reading right from the start and I had a greater understanding of the entire scope of the story line as I had not yet missed anything. 

I liked the Sphinx with his faux-Ancient-Egyptian styles and his masterminded plots, seen here in page one from issue six as he positions the players in his villainous game on a large chess board. This master planning with the chess board was very popular at the time as I recall it from an issue of Giant-Size Defenders #3 guest starring Daredevil, in which the Man Without Fear tricked the Grand Master in a game of chess.

Once again, I am amazed by the power of the Internet. Not only has someone written about this issue, but he has posted the entire issue online! CHECK IT OUT HERE: Giant Size Defenders #3 via Diversions of the Groovy Kind.

A brief digression. Here's two relevant pages from that comic. Follow the link if you are interested in more exploration down memory lane as Diversions of a Groovy Kind is a great blog.

To thwart the Grand Master, Daredevil engages in a simple flip of the coin game. Because of his special powers, his touch is so sensitive that he knows exactly how the disc is balanced and can flip it just right to ensure that it's heads side up in the end.

There's interesting stuff on the subject of chess in comics online. There's "Chess in Comics" by Kerry Lawless and apparently Scott McCloud's obsession with chess as a comic story HERE. For those not in the know, McCloud is famous for the seminal UNDERSTANDING COMICS book and just recently Sculptor, a graphic novel, and previously, ZOT!, a longer graphic novel that was published serially in the 1980s.

Here's those pages from the Defenders issue with the rest, again, at the following link
Giant Size Defenders #3 via Diversions of the Groovy Kind.


And now back from the digression, as I did not mean to veer off on the subject of chess in comics, though such is the beauty of my unstructured and chatty meanderings on this blog. 
I had meant to use Nova as a launch point, such as it is, to write about the future as it looked from 1976 (which is now the present) and then to move the content back around to Nova again as he came up as a subject simply as one of the more interesting comic books published August 27, 2014.

I have to confess that rather than driving to where I have my comic book archive stored and spending the laborious hours needed to find my set of issues from Nova and The Man Called Nova, I simply bought the first twelve issues that had been collected in digital form. I discovered a flaw in my memory. I thought that Nova found the alien helmet, and when he donned it, the Centurion contacted him and gave him powers, much like the most recent incarnation of Nova, in which young Sam Alexander takes over the mantle of Nova when he finds his father's Centurion helmet left behind in his father's workshop. But here in Nova #1, I see Nova is blasted with an energy beam from the Centurion's ship far outside of Earth orbit, which transforms him into NOVA as shown very dramatically here in these two panels I clipped from the original comic magazine.

And so... really my analogy here sort of fails. I have little chance of being blasted by an alien's transformer energy ray that will allow me to carry on as his successor. I was thinking of rocket boots, which made me think of jet packs, which lead me into thinking about the future promised to us that has not yet materialized in many ways, and yet in some others, it has been quite unexpected.

Onward to that subject....after a few Nova resources...

Here's a but on Nova's powers.

"Powers include flight, enhanced strength, speed and durability. Nova derives his powers from an energy source called the Nova-Force, which all Nova Centurions wield. Richard Rider had the greatest potential for control as his knowledge of his power increased . Nova wears a standard Xandarian StarCorps uniform, designed to accommodate his powers without being damaged by them. In addition, the uniform has a life support function that can sustain Rider under the most extreme environmental conditions. It can act as a space suit by locking off the mouth and eyes of the helmet. The helmet can also pick up radio transmissions, as well as act as a heads-up display for tracking energy signatures." - More on Marvel.com: http://marvel.com/universe/Nova_(Richard_Rider)#ixzz3UmgowadD

NOVA - original

Here's a cool NOVA fan page.


Comic Vine - NOVA character page




Weren't we promised that such technology would come to pass by now?

We're supposed to all have personal flight devices by now, right?

Which would you rather have a smart phone or a personal flight device?

I think I would opt for the personal flight device.

It's 2015, which looked a long way off back in 1976. I thought about this era because, after all, this is what science fiction was for. But I kind of wanted a jet pack, a flying car, a rocket sled, rocket-powered boots, or even better a personal flight device, like a flight ring, by now.

In 1976, in the aftermath of the United States Apollo program, I was convinced that 40 years onward, by 2015 at least, we would have at least one orbital space colony, a lunar colony, and even a Mars colony. I figured we would have quit our dependence on oil and coal and would have found better and cleaner means of producing energy. And we have, but we have not replaced our usage yet.
I felt assured by the SF writing world that new technology would be developed to get us to the next star system by 2015, Alpha Centauri being likely as its the closest star system with the closest earth-like planet. And if our near light travel to this system did not cause a time traveling anomaly thrusting our astronauts into a future in which apes have taken over the Planet Earth, then we might make contact with an alien species. Though cool and mysterious, I never really "bought" the contact stories with an ineffable obelisk, a la 2001 a Space Odyssey, or certainly a few years later, the cryptic yet helpful aliens who create a whole new planetary system by transforming Jupiter into a star, as in 2010 - The year we make contact.

Amid all this amazing space travel and communion with alien species, we would all have flying cars and/or our own personal flight devices. Sure, some kind of jet or rocket pack or boot rockets would be cool, but much more elegant would be the Legion of Superheroes flight rings with their force field space suits.

Computers would remain large machines with banks of circuitry, cube or large panel screens, and discs for storage. I knew there would be some computer communications, but barely conceived of the Internet as a young boy in the mid-1970s, let alone the portable computing power that I would enjoy now forty years in the future. Star Trek showed computers as large devices and storage on disks. Though some portable devices existed they were like giant clip boards and not at all like my compact smart phone or touch screen tablet.

And so, we have future promised and not delivered and also a future not promised that has been delivered beyond wildest expectations. We do not have personal flight devices, but we have smart phones.

Apparently, I am not the only one who has thought about this issue. There's a great deal of activity online for "where is my damn jet pack?" I searched jet pack as I figured it may have better results than "rocket boots." Most searches about rocket boots provide results for various games or Iron Man.

Check out these delightful links, especially the Ellis stuff.


When Do I get my jet pack?

Where is my damn jet pack?

Your flying cars are on their way!

First jet pack?

It's 2007 and where's my DAMN JET PACK?

Jet Pack Solves Everything - source

ELLIS - Someone stole your future - 2007

ELLIS - Rachel Armstrong on Where Our Future Went -2013

ELLIS - Future Underground - 2004

ELLIS via SEQUART Doktor Sleepless - Unfinished Apocalypse

COMIC BOOK PHILOSOPHER - Ellis - Doktor Sleepless - the Future

WARREN ELLIS answers your questions about THE FUTURE

sidenote - ELLIS - The Final Solution - evil - dogs



Comic Art Gallery

Cover Gallery notes: I have seved several covers from these Marvel western comics from the 1970s. The covers in many cases outperformed the stories. I just finished reading Marvel's Resurrection of Jean Grey comic series, which was decent though not great, so I grabbed this wonderful Mayhew cover of the Phoenix to share. I am always going to take an opportunity to share Deadman or Aquaman covers. These are two of my favorites. My screen saver displays the contents of the comic book folder, and the other day the Neal Adams Superboy cover shown here came up. These teaser covers were some of the best things produced in the 1960s and 1970s. I was wearing my Mister Miracle T-shirt when I made this cover gallery while around the same time my friend Waly showed an Instagram with Mister Miracle and Big Barda. Even though I have almost sworn off mini-series completely, I am enjoying the Mister Miracle 12-issue series at DC. A MOEBIUS city - just because. Monstress is back!! Read last month's issue! I am often a month behind because of when my comics are shipped so I am eagerly anticipating the next issue, even though it will probably not hit the top ten books first read in my stack simply because I want to take my time with it. My studies of the order I read my comics -- which I spared you reading on this blog for a very long time even though I am still making the lists -- is more about what is quick to read and enjoyable than favorites, strictly speaking. Ms. Marvel is a book that I almost dropped but couldn't because it's so GREAT! I love these Matt Baker romance comic book covers from the 1950s and 1960s. I have saved many of them. I just read a bunch of X-Men stuff in addition to the Jean Grey thing. Kitty and Peter are getting married? I like it. FF Natch. I am hoping that a return of the Fantastic Four to the Marvel Universe is at the end of the Marvel-Two-in-One mini-series that I had to buy, even though Jim Chueng is apparently too slow -- or otherwise occupied -- to draw all the issues! One of my all-time favorite Hulk covers. And Iron Fist because I love him, always loved John Byrne, who I wish was still making Marvel or DC comics, and this is a really good one.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 970 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1802.28 -10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #967 - Do not fear death - the self is an illusion

Tibetan Buddhist monks in-exile pray during a Long Life prayer offerings ceremony to his Holiness the Dalai Lama at the main temple Tsuglag Khang on March 9, 2009 in Dharamsala, India. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #967 - Do not fear death - the self is an illusion

Hi Mom,

This article caught my eye, Mom.

Though it might be interesting.

More original content on the way this week, but today, a straight-up share from one of the new sites I follow: THE BIG THINK.


Is death still frightening if you believe the self is an illusion? An astonishing study of Tibetan Buddhists
·         February 27, 2018


Imagining ourselves as no longer existing is, for most of us, terrifying. Buddhism may offer some reassurance. A central tenet of the religion is that all is impermanent and the self is actually an illusion. If there is no self, then why fear the end of the self?
To find out if the logic of the Buddhist perspective eliminates existential fear, Shaun Nichols at the University of Arizona and his colleagues surveyed hundreds of monastic Tibetan Buddhists (monks-in-training) in exile in India, as well as lay Tibetans, Tibetan Buddhists from Bhutan, Indian Hindus and American Christians and atheists.
To their astonishment, the researchers report in Cognitive Science that fear of the annihilation of the self was most intense among the monastic Buddhists, and that the monastic Buddhists were less willing than any of the other groups to sacrifice years of their own life for a stranger.
The US participants were recruited online, whereas the monastic Tibetan Buddhists and other groups were given paper surveys to complete, translated by fluent bilinguals into the appropriate language. The hundreds of monastic Tibetan Buddhists who took part were from monasteries in Byalkuppe and Mundhod in India. The researchers also surveyed 30 Buddhist scholars about how devoted Buddhists ought to answer the different survey questions.
Two of the surveys addressed the permanence of the self. As expected, the monastic Buddhists showed the least belief in the continuity of the self – they thought they would be different in personality, beliefs, ambitions and other characteristics in the future. In contrast, the Americans, whether religious or not, showed the strongest belief in the continuity of the self (the other groups, including everyday, non-devout Tibetans, scored mid-way between these two extremes). Similar patterns emerged for beliefs about the existence of a “core self” that persists over time, with the monastic Buddhists again showing the least belief in the self.
Would the monastic Buddhists’ scepticism about the self have a bearing on their fear of death? More than the other groups, they said that they used the no-self doctrine to cope with the prospect of death, as the Buddhists scholars said they ought to do.
Yet, when the researchers surveyed their participants about their fear of death and especially their fear of self-annihilation (gauged by agreement or not with items like “Dying one year from now frightens me because of the loss and destruction of the self / destruction of my personality”), to the researchers’ surprise they found that this fear was most intense among the monastic Buddhists. This was opposite to how they ought to have responded according to the Buddhist scholars. Note, the Buddhists believed just as strongly in an after-life (though not, of course, for their current “self”), so this could not explain their more intense fear compared with the other groups.
Next, the researchers surveyed more participants from the same groups about how much they would be willing to sacrifice years of their own life to extend the life of another person (for instance, in the most extreme version of the thought experiment, they were asked to imagine they could take a pill to extend their own life by six months or give the pill to a stranger, similar to them, for whom the pill would add an additional five years to their life). The monastic Buddhists were the least willing to make this kind of sacrifice – in fact, over 72 per cent preferred to keep the pill for themselves in the above scenario, compared with 31.2 per cent of non-religious Americans.
Writing on Twitter, co-author Nina Strohminger at the University of Pennsylvania said that these findings were “probably the most bizarre and unexpected of her career“.
The researchers believe the paradox they have uncovered, between the Buddhists’ explicit beliefs and their fears, may be explicable by the fact that, despite their training and explicit claims, the monastic Buddhists still have a powerful sense of a continuous identity that stretches from the past and into the future. It is not easy to defy the illusion of the self even if you are taught to do so. This would seem to be borne out by notable Buddhist autobiographies that betray a keen experience of a continuous self. At the same time, Buddhists may succeed well in truly believing that the self ends at death (unlike other religious groups that preach that the soul is eternal), and this could account for the Buddhists’ exaggerated fear of self-annihilation at death.
One caveat to the findings highlighted by the researchers is that, although their monastic Buddhist participants meditated every day,  none of them were highly experienced, long-term meditators with many years of practice. Meditation is seen as one way to eliminate belief in a permanent self, so it will be interesting to repeat the research, not only with other Buddhist denominations, but specifically with highly experienced, expert Buddhist meditators, to see if they too would fear self-annihilation.
This article was originally published on BPS Research Digest. Read the original article.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 969 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1802.27 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #966 - Sexy National Anthems and Women in Music Round up - Musical Monday for 1802.26

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #966 - Sexy National Anthems and Women in Music Round up - Musical Monday for 1802.26

Hi Mom,

So last week when Fergie got eviscerated in the press and online for rendition of the national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game for 2018, which is the first track here and in the You Tube playlist.

I rather liked her performance, though not many people agree with me, even Fergie, who admitted it wasn't her best and what she was trying for didn't really come off well. I can see that, but I liked that tried something different. I support the different.

And so, I was inspired to make a mix for once with all women artists, though an emphasis on Fergie -- four of the tracks are either Fergie solos or feature her with the Black Eyed Peas.

I also wanted to feature woman of color, though not exclusively, so I went to some of my favorite artists, like Erykah Badu, MIA, Solange, and Daniela Andrade, but then as I built the list others came up as YouTube suggested them, such as Cat Power, which seemed to fit perfectly. Ayabambi, Nitty Scott, Macy Gray, and Sneaker Pimps were all suggested by YouTube and I am thankful for finding some new artists to follow.

I have posted some of these tracks before, such as Yasmine Hamdan's "Balad" and Badu's "Afro Blue" but I feel they fit this group.

I was also excited to find a new cut by Tracey Thorn as her new album debuts later this week. I also added new tracks by St. Vincent, Anne Marie, and the Kesha performance from the Grammy Awards to give this post some "kairos."

Also, it stood out to me when Tracey Thorn sang about missing her mom, Mom. That seems to fit the theme of the blog, even though I am not writing about you so much anymore, though I am still writing TO YOU.

I have been listenting to it a lot as I work, so I made the easy YOUTUBE playlist (link below), which does not require constant clicking as you would need to do to play from my blog.

Funny side note. I didn't plan it, but I ended up grabbing the Phantogram that my wife plays a lot. I think she played this Cat Power track quite a bit back in October when it came out.

Seemed right to end with Lorde, who will soon play a concert here in Portland.

Time to post.

Hope you like it.

"i have nothing to control and I am controlling it."
- Sevdaliza

Sexy Anthems and Women in Music PLAYLIST on YOU TUBE
by Chris Tower
for Monday February 26




Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 968 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1802.26 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #965 - 2017 - Books Read - a review

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #965 - 2017 - Books Read - a review, pt.1 

Hi Mom,

Reading is one of the most important things in my life. Outside of love for dear family, dogs, and friends and other very good things, I love reading the most. I probably love it more than eating or drinking. I am so grateful that I can read and I can read what I like. I feel very privileged and fortunate every day when I take a break from toiling away starting at screens and focus on paper by consuming wonderful and enthralling stories by some really great authors. I never take the gift of reading for granted.

This post is about what I read in 2017.

So, from the looks of things, I never managed to post any round ups of reading in the entire year of 2017.

I did manage one combined TV show and book review of Big Little Lies here:


Somehow, I managed to post that review, full of original content, in one of my busiest months of the year, April, around exam time.
Previously, I managed two separate round up posts of book reviews from 2016 at the start of 2017 at these links here:

2016 round up part one

2016 round up part two

Some of the books reviewed in these posts -- such as Prince Lestat and The Girl on Train -- appear in the images above because to get a nice grid of images from Good Reads, I needed to capture more than just the 2017 books read.


So the two grids above spill into books from 2016 and now books from 2018 as Central Station is one I finished in 2018 and already reviewed as Hey Mom #922. Also, though I started in December, I finished The Book of Dust and The Boy on the Bridge in January of 2018.

By my count, which is approximate, I read 30 books in 2017 not counting graphic novels. This output seems good for me but not half what Kieron Gillen (70) can read while writing six comic books and all his social media and con appearances and being, arguably, busier than I am,

Ambitiously, I wanted to write at least a paragraph or so on each book, but such an undertaking may be too much for me, at least all in one go. I might more easily render it in parts.

As for providing an overview, I can surely say that Welcome to Nightvale was the weakest and the most disappointing of this group.

I would be hard pressed to select a favorite or the best. I enjoyed many of these books, though definitely some more than others.

Wow, super-talented artist Kimmo Lahtinen created some beautiful amazing fan art for All the Birds in the Sky. I’m just honestly in awe. See the whole thing over on Twitter.

For a book that won awards, such as the best novel Nebula in 2017 and the Locus Best Fantasy Novel 2017, All The Birds in the Sky was good enough and I enjoyed it, but I am not sure why it won a best novel Nebula in 2017 up against books like .... well, books I haven't read. So I really have no idea if it was deserving or not. Besides, NK Jemisin has been sweeping the Hugo Awards wit her books, one of which was nominated for the Nebula up against Charlie Jane Ander's All The Birds in the Sky. Obviously, I am just reacting negatively to hype. So don't mind me... move along. It was a very good book. Shutting up now. Besides, Charlie Jane's bio on Good Reads is hilarious. I am tempted to reprint it, instead I will link it.

To the right, find her Good Reads profile photo. What's not to like, seriously?

Plus, I love her writing on io9.com, though I must confess that I have not read anything else she wrote, though I should make work of it, such as Hugo winning novelette "Six Months, Three Days" that I have on my tablet, having copied it in April of 2017. This happens a lot when I save things for later reading and then later does not come.

Or this Wired story, I could read -

My story “Stochastic Fancy” is up in Wired Magazine, and I love the illustration by Josan Gonzalez SO MUCH. Just beautiful.

And then, I did read this story. It's very good. I recommend it.

I guess with All the Birds in the Sky, my expectations were too high. With award winners, I have this expectation to have my mind blown and to read something that stuns me rather something that is simply very good. My experience was the same with NK Jemisin's The Fifth Season and another Hugo winner I read a few years back: Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice. All of these books are very good, especially Jemisin's lyrical prose and excellent world building, and yet my mind was not blown by any of them. Maybe I have been spoiled by amazing Pulitzer winners like Middlesex and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and so I always expect that level of astounding, min-blowing, earth moving, paradigm shifting brilliance, and then I am disappointed when I don't get it.

These books are good, even great, maybe.  All three award winners I listed provided enjoyable reads, and I have no regrets for reading those books (unlike the Nightvale novel). Okay, moving on now.

I am on a reading binge in 2018, probably because I am making more time to read, and I am focused on books more, and also because I try to walk the dogs daily, which means at least an hour of audio per day. Plus here in the PACNW to go to Vancouver means at least an hour of audio book not to mention audio book time when I prepare food or clean.

So, I have already read eight novels in 2018, which is close to one fourth of the entire output of last year. One would think I would have more books, at least via audio completed last year because of all the time spent packing. But then I am not sure how much I was listening to books while packing.

Granted some of the books were big-ish, and I did take breaks to try to catch up on Nightvale podcasts, which are losing their allure despite being very well done. It just seems as if there are not enough books or some are missing, not that I could guess what those would be.

A couple of other things on the grid. It's not arranged chronologically, at least not strictly. I let twenty or so books pile up in the currently reading queue thinking I would mark them read one by one as I wrote reviews that I posted here. When I realized that was unlikely to happen, I marked them all read on the same day, near the end of the year.

I did read the Binti books twice each, once in audio and once traditionally.

For other traditional readings, I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Everything Belongs to the Future, Agents of Dreamland, Miniatures, The God Engines, The Fifth Season, and Stars Are Legion while the others were all consumed via audio, except the graphic novels, though I managed fewer of those in 2017 unlike 2016, which featured many.

The grid does not show a lot of nonfiction, primarily all the reading I have been doing about programming. I could add at least one book that I read pretty much completely: Python Crash Course from No Starch Press.

Also, Dad and I listened to Proof of Heaven as we drove west, and then I listened to it again in the early days of living here in my new home.

I read a ton of comics plus articles on the Internet on my tablet and various other things, magazines etc.There are also short stories, such as those by Monica Byrne, whom I support on Patreon.

I had to listen to Eric Braeden's book and Bruce Springsteen's book as both were narrated by the author, which was a wonderful treat for my passions.

It's difficult to pick a favorite book. Big Little Lies and The Collapsing Empire were two of the best listens, though I adored Claire Danes doing The Handmaid's Tale, as I reread that book, first time on audio, for maybe the dozenth time.

One book I loved and spent a lot of time re-reading portions of as I listened was Cory Doctorow's Walkaway, which I think is brilliant. I enjoyed Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning, which is why I voted it for the Hugo, though I really need to peruse it again before I can say anything other than "great world building" about it.

It was fun to listen to The Compleat Enchanter, which was a book I had picked up a million times and never finished. Likewise, as another book to get me thinking about fiction I want to writ, and since it was an inexpensive audio purchase, I listened to Niven's The Magic Goes Away.

I did enjoy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child very much.

The Ritual and The Hidden People were books recommended by my wife and they share the same trait in that the initial mystery is much better than pay off to the mystery, especially for The Ritual.

I loved The Fireman, though I don't think Hill sustained the premise's initial promise well enough throughout, and I was disappointed with how he executed the ending.

I really liked Revenger and hope there are more books with these characters to come. Also, this was my first Alistair Reynolds, and so I hope to read more from him.

Of course, I enjoyed the next Ender universe book from Orson Scott Card (this time no co-author) because I am fully invested in his work despite disagreeing with some of his politics.

Did I really go the whole year not reading the next Laundry Files book by Charlie Stross? That's a shame. I have the next one ready to go and have listened to 20 minutes of it.

Lastly, NK Jemisin's The Fifth Season was slow to build its momentum and get a full head of steam, but once it did, then it was quite good. I find her writing very lyrical and her characters compelling. The world building is fascinating in this one as are the situations and mysteries, and I am keen to read the next two, but do not even own them yet, so not sure when I will get them logged in the stack.

That's all for now. I may manage to some individual reviews. But this is a pretty good round up.

If nothing else I wrote is true, I do intend to read more books in 2018 than in 2017.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 967 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1802.25 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #964 - Penny Slinger - Out of the Shadows

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #964 - Penny Slinger - Out of the Shadows

Hi Mom,

I wish I lived in London.

More screenings of this excellent documentary in the Spring of this year, 2018, after a premiere at London's Raindance film festival in September of 2017.

This film came to my attention because of the music and this image from Penny Slinger's art work "An Exorcism."

Her work is being re-discovered with current showings and this documentary.

Penny Slinger web site

This major artist deserves the renewed attention that she is receiving.


FOLLOWING TEXT FROM - https://www.pennyslingerfilm.com/


“Penny Slinger – Out Of The Shadows” is the incredible, untold story of the British artist Penny Slinger and the traumatic events that led to the creation of her masterpiece, the 1977 photo-romance, ‘An Exorcism’.

Coming-of-age against a back drop of post-war austerity and the explosion of colour that characterized the 1960s counter-culture in London, Penny Slinger embraced her generation’s quest for personal freedom and sexual liberation and channeled these desires into her ground-breaking collages and sculptures. So powerful was her vision that 45 years later her work is still influencing contemporary artists.

“I wanted to create art that reflected a state of mind,” she explains. “To be my own muse.”  To achieve this Penny Slinger resuscitated Surrealism, instilling it with a radical, feminine perspective that led Rolling Stone to declare about her first book,  ‘50% The Visible Woman’ (1971) - “This is a major work – surely to become as ubiquitous as Sergeant Pepper in the culture.” As the respected curator and academic Anke Kempkes observes, "She could have become very, very famous."  History played out differently though and by the 1980s Penny Slinger had disappeared.

Richard Kovitch’s film documents Penny Slinger’s life during this intense period of creativity and considers the relevance of her work to the current generation. From her beginnings amidst the grey suburbs of Surrey, to her coming-of-age as part of the Kings Road art scene in the 'The Swinging 60s', all the way to the galleries of London, Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo decades later, this is a portrait of an artist across time that presents fresh experiences of the 1960s counter-culture, the role of women in post-war art and the personal risks an artist must take to emancipate their ideas.

We talk to Penny Slinger’s key collaborators from the period, including the radical filmmakers Peter Whitehead and Jack Bond, and consider her relationship with the acclaimed, feminist playwright Jane Arden, and the controversial film they worked on together, ‘The Other Side Of The Underneath’ (1972).  The respected critic Michael Bracewell and the Turner Prize Nominated artists Jane and Louise Wilson help us understand Penny’s relationship with Surrealism and her confidantes Max Ernst and Sir Roland Penrose. And we return to the mysterious, derelict mansion in Northamptonshire that proved such a fertile arena for Penny’s imagination and inspired her critically acclaimed ‘An Exorcism’ series. All this work broke new ground; in some instances it broke its creators. Not everyone made it out alive.

In the 21st century Penny Slinger’s art is being rediscovered via critically acclaimed shows at Broadway 1602, New York, The Riflemaker Gallery, London and most recently, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles. In 2017 she made the cover of the New York Times and was a major exhibitor at the Frieze Art Fair, London. The importance of her work and its continuing power to inspire has seen it embraced by a whole new generation of art lovers. Richard Kovitch’s film consolidates this renaissance, bringing Penny Slinger’s life and work ‘Out Of the Shadows’ and presents it anew for a contemporary audience.



Penny Slinger: Out Of The Shadows
Directed by Richard Kovitch
Starring Penny Slinger, Peter Whitehead, Jack Bond, Michael Bracewell and Jane And Louise
Screening at Raindance September 21st, 25th, 2017
by Lewis Church
Penny Slinger’s visual art and performance grew out of the 1960s and 70s counterculture of Swinging London, and yet has remained largely overlooked in the historical documentation of the period. Richard Kovitch’s documentary Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadowsbegins to rectify this by enacting a deep and respectful survey of the startling, strange and alluring work Slinger produced across multiple art forms. With a fantastic soundtrack by Psychological Strategy Board, and editing that intriguingly echoes the collage aesthetic of Slinger’s visual artworks, the documentary feels both current and needed.

As contributor Maxa Zoller observes, the recentering and affirmation of work made by women during the time requires a denial of the ‘museumification of the sixties’ and a deep excavation and production of archival material. Out of the Shadows does this admirably, with comprehensive and important interviews with major participants, including Slinger herself and Peter Whitehead and Susanka Fraey, her partners and collaborators. Between them they suggest that Slinger’s bisexuality and challenge to an often-chauvinistic counterculture led, in part, to the oversight the film works to rectify. Slinger’s provocative staging of female desire is further referenced as both a successor to the Surrealists and a precursor to the YBAs, one that is only now coming to light.

The film concludes with an extended explanation and analysis of An Exorcism (1977), a piece seen as the synthesis of Slinger’s practice, and a concretisation of all her earlier potential. A collaged self-portrait and psychological journey, An Exorcism leaps from the screen as an under-documented masterpiece.

After this seminal work, Slinger largely retired from London art world, and the documentary too rather abruptly finishes, although not without offering a tantalising glimpse of her subsequent work with the Arawak peoples of the Caribbean. Whilst it would have been fantastic to see more of this, Out of the Shadows demonstrates the need for continual historical reappraisal and highlights the work of an artist who deserves to be better known.

Sex Work: a riot of body fluids, condom balloons and Day-Glo dick aliens - The Guardian

The anti-war phalluses and photorealist porn of feminist artists were shunned by collectors and banned from galleries. Can a bold new show at Frieze art fair change all that?

NY TIMES - On Frieze art show


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 966 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1802.24 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.