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review 2019-09-15 00:00
700 Sundays
700 Sundays - Billy Crystal Most of people know him
for his large screen roles,
or put into other words,
for all kinds of large screen movie roles
he's had throughout
his entire movie career,

but not everyone knows
that this man is actually
a dearly devoted family man,
who by the looks of it,
would have done everything
for his family if his family
would have ever encountered
a truly terrible crisis.

I was deeply moved by
his words of knowledge
and wisdom,

I was deeply moved
by sincerity within
his truly touching words,

and especially by his humility,
humbleness, and kindness,

for he didn't talk on and on
about his movie career and
all other things and all other stuff
connected to whatever's been going on
in Hollywood industry at the time,

but he's actually shared his softer side with me
as his book's avid reader and made me see
that family, even though we sometimes
don't understand each other,
argue over pointless things
we shouldn't even argue about,
is very important,

and should always remain
on the first spot in our lives.

This man puts his family first
and I truly respect him for that,
and I find it truly admirable,
that success he's had with
all of his large screen movie roles
didn't convince him
to choose a different path
and try to handle things
differently.
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review 2019-09-15 00:00
700 Sundays
700 Sundays - Billy Crystal Most of people know him
for his large screen roles,
or put into other words,
for all kinds of large screen movie roles
he's had throughout
his entire movie career,

but not everyone knows
that this man is actually
a dearly devoted family man,
who by the looks of it,
would have done everything
for his family if his family
would have ever encountered
a truly terrible crisis.

I was deeply moved by
his words of knowledge
and wisdom,

I was deeply moved
by sincerity within
his truly touching words,

and especially by his humility,
humbleness, and kindness,

for he didn't talk on and on
about his movie career and
all other things and all other stuff
connected to whatever's been going on
in Hollywood industry at the time,

but he's actually shared his softer side with me
as his book's avid reader and made me see
that family, even though we sometimes
don't understand each other,
argue over pointless things
we shouldn't even argue about,
is very important,

and should always remain
on the first spot in our lives.

This man puts his family first
and I truly respect him for that,
and I find it truly admirable,
that success he's had with
all of his large screen movie roles
didn't convince him
to choose a different path
and try to handle things
differently.
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review 2019-06-17 00:00
Superman: The Golden Age Sundays, 1943-1946
Superman: The Golden Age Sundays, 1943-1946 - Wayne Boring,Jack Burnley,Whitney Ellsworth,Jack Schiff The ‘Superman Sunday’ pages were written and drawn during World War II and that’s important to remember. One of the most perceptive comments about that war I ever read was made by Len Deighton, the British thriller writer, who also dabbled in history. He pointed out that during the war we didn’t know we were going to win. Certainly, from a British point of view, it looked as if we were certain to lose at one point, about to be over-run by a truly evil regime. When you realise that, it gives the whole thing a very different perspective from the heroic nostalgia of retrospection. At the time, people were terrified.

Maybe not so much in the United States, where Superman hangs his cape, but even Americans were under threat and their especially perceived menace, as this book demonstrates, from the Japanese. There is a lot of nasty stuff in here about the ‘Japs’ and much of the content, both words and pictures, is overtly racist. This has to be put in context but there’s a warning about it in the introduction by Mark Waid to ‘readers of Asian descent and/or nervous dispositions and/or a speck of human decency’. There is irony in two Jewish comic creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, producing such stuff at the time of the Third Reich. Just goes to show we all have our blind spots, especially when in danger.

The approach to Hitler and his henchmen, on the other hand, is almost jovial. In one set of strips, Superman goes to meet the leaders of the Third Reich – ‘the nasty nabobs of Nazism’ – whereupon those ‘supermen’ of the master race dress up in Superman costumes and assure him they all belong on the same side! Cartoons of Goering, Goebbels, Himmler and Hitler in super-hero costume are quite amusing sixty years on. Poking fun at the big bad menace is also a way of bringing it down to size.

But, you may ask, why didn’t Superman just go out there and thrash the enemy himself? This issue obviously had to be sidestepped. Clark Kent avoided the draft by a genuine error. He was reading an eye chart but was so keyed up with anticipation to enlist that he inadvertently used his x-ray vision and read the chart in the next room! He failed the test. Superman, meanwhile, generally opined that American men and women could easily win the war without his help. It would have been ‘presumptuous’ for him to intervene. Of course, he does intervene all over the place. That’s what the strips are about

Clark Kent does a column following the exploits of Dave Cooper, a model Army Air Corps Cadet. Nazi spies led by ‘Eyeglasses’ are out for a propaganda coup by discrediting Dave. Happily, Superman is always on hand to save the young chap. Eyeglasses vows that Superman’s interference ‘shall not deter me from my avowed determination to link misfortune and dishonour to the name of David Cooper’. He has a pretty nifty vocabulary for a newspaper cartoon villain.

Too many of the stories are about ‘Superman’s service for servicemen’ whereby, in response to sack loads of mail, our hero does favours for the fighting forces. One chap is worried that some bloke is after his girl back home. A girl has a similar problem when a ‘mutual friend’ tells her that her man prefers someone else. The ‘friend’ is Lily Field. ‘She toils not, neither does she spin.’ Clever scripting again. Superman spanks her! He couldn’t have done that under the Comics Code Authority. What with Wonder Woman tying everyone up and him spanking, super-heroes were a pretty frisky bunch back in the 1940s. On the more positive side for feminists, there is loads of praise for women’s contribution to the war both in the services and back home.

There’s quite a lot of front line action. A desk-bound officer in Washington DC requests that Superman take him to Asia for a weekend so he can get involved for real. Several ‘Japs’ are duly bashed about. However, this portrayal of the fighting as a bit of a lark where the enemy was far inferior to the mighty American male and easily dispatched might not have been so pleasing to those actually on the front line, where things were pretty damn tough. I suppose they took it as a joke.

When the war is finally over, there’s a reprisal of Superman’s origin. The story is familiar but I noted that Ma and Pa Kent are quite elderly and not so glamorous as in later incarnations, especially on television. Pa is a bald, bespectacled little man who wears a derby hat. There’s a gangster yarn in which Clark Kent gets his job on the Daily Planet, then an adventure on the planet Suprania in which another lady gets spanked! Not by Superman this time but he is encouraging the fellow who does it. After the beating. Queen Arda says that the spanker is ‘strong and masterful’ and she may marry him. Ah, the good old days. Next is a story set in a circus but the war is the main thing here.

It’s worth mentioning that the scripting is often witty and the art is quite charming in its own cartoonish way. Each strip takes one page and there are usually about eleven panels, all rectangular. Within these limitations, the lads do a good job of storytelling. Which lads, though? As with many early comic strips, it is difficult to know who actually did the work. The credits on this edition say ‘Scripts by Jerry Siegel and DC Comics’ and ‘Artwork by Wayne Boring and Jack Burnley’. The introduction to this magnificent volume mentions ‘Siegel, Shuster and their assistants’ struggling to meet the demand for strips. I will leave the question of who did what to those many pundits on the net. Whoever did it, they are well-served by this large, beautiful bound volume in glorious colour. No squinting at tiny lettering or little pictures with this production.

The book would probably not be on the average fan’s must-have list. It is what it is: dated one-page comic strips written for a particular moment in history. I found it interesting and not nearly as awful to read as I thought it might be at first glance. Superman aficionados should snap it up and collecting these historical items into this well-produced volume is good work by the publisher.

Eamonn Murphy
This review first appeared at https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/

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text 2018-01-09 10:53
Six Favorites of 2017
Soldier of the Mist - Gene Wolfe
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Liu, Ken (March 8, 2016) Hardcover - Ken Liu
700 Sundays - Billy Crystal
The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies - John Langan
Whip Hand - Dick Francis

These are the six best books I read (for the first time) last year.

 

Soldier of the Mist - Gene Wolfe  Soldier of the Mist - Gene Wolfe  

 

Combine the Greek pantheon with an amnesiac soldier trying to discover himself and you get one of my new favorite fantasy novels. Wolfe has a reputation for both beautiful prose and unreliable narrators; these are on full display here. This was the first novel I've read by Wolfe; it will not be the last.

 

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Liu, Ken (March 8, 2016) Hardcover - Ken Liu  The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Liu, Ken (March 8, 2016) Hardcover - Ken Liu  

 

A brilliant collection of short stories, some magic realism, most SF. Tears through quite a few subgenres, including alternate history and cyberpunk. Themes of alienation, parenthood, and racism repeat throughout.

 

700 Sundays - Billy Crystal  700 Sundays - Billy Crystal  

 

A beautiful, and hilarious, remembrance about the author's parents, especially his father. There are a few painful moments, but also a lot of laughs.

 

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead  The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead  

 

The first Pulitzer-winning novel I've read, this is a fantastic piece of magical realism / speculative fiction, with an emphasis on racial prejudice. This book imagines the Underground Railroad as a literal train route, and we follow an escaped slave on the various legs of her trip. Through various means, Whitehead examines many historical crimes against Black Americans, including several that took place well after slavery. How the author does this should be discovered through the reading; this book is magic.

 

The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies - John Langan  The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies - John Langan  

 

One of the best horror collections I've read in years. Many of these stories are post-modern in their approach to horror, using the genre's themes and tropes (as well as formal experimentation) to examine it. Good stuff.

 

Whip Hand - Dick Francis  Whip Hand - Dick Francis  

 

A great suspense/mystery novel that centers around horse-racing. It also deals with grief, confidence, and despair. Loved it.

 

I would highly recommend these books to anyone; they're all amazing.

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photo 2017-06-18 21:58
Here's a photo of all the books I'll try to read in June!

Hello everyone! I'm going to participate in a new book meme that is hosted by me, Rabbit Ears Book Blog called "Book Photo Sundays" where you get to post up various book photos you have taken.  The photos can come from your Instagram account or from any other account you have where you keep photos of your books at.  I will post up a new book photo every Sunday and you are free to link up your book photos to the link up on the page. To participate in this week's Book Photo Sundays, go to the link here:

 

http://rabbitearsbookblog.blogspot.com/2017/06/book-photo-sundays-34-june-18-2017.html

 

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