Books, Thoughts

Nostalgia Porn of the 90s, part 2

Maybe I noticed this because I think that everyone else lives in their memories of the 90s, like me.  But I came across this book cover & I get the nagging feeling that the cover artist watched a lot of The Pretender.  Because this certainly looks like Ryan Merriman, who played Young Jared.  Or some scary VR replica.  Brrr, the uncanny valley is unforgiving.



Lessons Learned From 90s Sitcoms

  1. Don’t lie ever, not even sins of omission or to protect someone.  It will blow up in your face like all get out when the writers need drama.
  2. If you break rule #1 & feel really really badly about it & make an effort to talk it out, the universe will reward you.  Like giving you an orphan baby to raise, or reuniting you with your true love, or granting you the motivation to start a new venture.
  3. Because whenever things go wrong, enough time & talk will set things right.  Talking means you’re trying & that the writers really want to flex those drama skills that aren’t working so well in that unpublished novel they’re working on.
  4. Be bold.  Go for the big gestures–buy your love interest an engagement ring; rent a Ferris wheel to say ‘I love you’; create the perfect senior prom for your girl or guy.
  5. Parents: argyle makes you a moral authority.  Unless you’re having a bad day or there’s a need for conflict–then it makes you self-righteous.
  6. If anything shady is going on but you can’t bring yourself to voice your suspicions or confront the other person, say you “feel off.”
  7. If you “feel off” for too long though, you’d better go to the doctor pretty quickly.  Those negative vibes might have just turned themselves into cancer or some other terminal illness.  You could die at the most inopportune moment, like say, days after your baby daughter is born to your schizophrenic wife or right when your adult son has encountered some money troubles.
  8. Also, are you sure you’re pregnant?  That might be cancer too.
  9. Abortion, drug use, casual sex, and questions about religion are not good.  However, civil respectful debate is fantastic!
  10. Also, if things get too heavy plot-wise, just rip off It’s a Wonderful Life for your holiday special.  I mean, at this point if you don’t do it, you’re just gonna look like a weirdo.
  11. Ponies are excellent bar/bat mitvah/birthday/starting your new business gifts.  Also, you should totally give your long-term crush a chuppah as a wedding gift/statement that you are the better match.
  12. Protip: totally ok to go through someone’s mail or house even if there are cookies or engagement rings involved.
  13. You can be in love with two people at once.  But you actually just love one of them more than the other.  And when said rejected love interest irrevocably leaves town when you breakup, they will join all other rejected love interests in their quiet coastal town where they don’t hold ritual group pinings & don’t think of what could have been, even though you tore out their hearts, Lorelai, I mean, Jesus, I moved cross-country to forget you!
  14. It is a bad idea to date your daughter’s high school English teacher.  Not only does this complicate your home-life, but having a character who is empathetic, can quote vast amounts of literature at romantic times, wants to help raise your family, sends you 1000 yellow daises as part of a proposal, & is stupid hot–yeah, they’re not sticking around past this season.
  15. Which reminds me, writers: Have your characters gratuitously quote Shakespeare or make other high literary comparisons in everyday speech.  Everyone here is an artist, dammit!  And that MFA degree isn’t gonna show off itself!
  16. You can’t hide from the hard knocks of life in a small Connecticut/Colorado/California town.  But if you leave. . . let’s just say buy some good insurance.
  17. It’s uncool to joke about your suicide attempt in a bowling alley.
  18. But life sounds worse on paper than when you lived through it.
  19. Although it is pretty cruel to name your least intelligent character Bright.
  20. And the whole point to this list, the main takeaway that allows me to get away with this silliness?  Being a sarcastic dick can get you plenty of attention & really help you get places.
Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Library Wars: Love & War, volume #15

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 15 (Library Wars: Love & War, #15)Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 15 by Kiiro Yumi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here we are, readers, at the end of this awesome series & guess what. Happy endings for everyone! Kasahara succeeds in getting the author Toma to the British Embassy to defect through a crafty plan that involves birthday cards in code & the author himself dressing up in drag. The Library Forces turn out in droves to support their lone agent & the world’s attention is drawn to Japan’s censorship conflict. Kasahara & Dojo admit their feelings to one another, the federal government begins talks with the prefectures to end the war of attrition, & everyone gets paired off with their ideal partner. (And Satoshi has too much to keep him busy & stops being any more creepy than he already is. Whew!)

There’s something old-fashioned to this happy ending where everyone ends up with who they like, but overall this last volume of the main story satisfies on both the action front & the romantic side. Kasahara’s plan seems desperate & once again returns to the theme of her loneliness before her squad turns out in force to support her. (Genda is pleased by her daring, of course, crazy man-bear-barbarian that he is.) And then, after her heroics, our heroine visits “her prince” in the hospital & they kiss & kiss & kiss & kiss before settling down to have a quiet, egalitarian marriage. Awwwww. . .

I honestly don’t know if there’s another manga quite like this for me. I think this is not just because the romance takes a backseat to the action, but there is something that is so 1990’s about it that just really pleases me. (And yes, I realize that this is meant to be a futuristic story but hear me out.) Everything from Kasahara’s accessories (her dolphin pendant at the end of this volume looks like thousands of cheap necklaces Clair’s used to sell) to her struggle as an action girl surrounded by guys (Ms. Parker, Agent Scully, Samantha Waters–anyone?)–all of it just hits that specific nostalgia point for me without being dated or cheesy. Library Wars just hit me at the right time & I’m sooooo very happy to have read it.

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Phonogram, vol #1

Phonogram, Vol. 1: Rue Britannia (Phonogram, #1)Phonogram, Vol. 1: Rue Britannia by Kieron Gillen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David Kohl is a phonomancer, a mystic who can understand the magic of a song. He is pressed into service by the Goddess to investigate changes to one of her aspects: Britannia who once presided over Britpop. As the scene that gave David his unique power changes & simplifies, he changes as well–and not for the better. He must hurry & find whose interfering with the past before he becomes a shadow of himself.

The above plot explanation really only scratches the surface of what Phonogram is about. The forces of memory, inspiration, & art are at play here & Gillen has a dense, intelligent story for readers who thrive on music. The music references are super-insider-y but there’s a detailed index in the back for those who are curious. This may make it sound like Phonogram is a challenging story to get into but Gillen works hard to say something sincere about culture & how it brings people together, how music speaks to & essentially changes us, & the aftermath of heady euphoric times once we move past them.

Wry, self-aware, & totally committed to simultaneously making fun of & venerating pop culture, Phonogram is an interesting dissection of the heart of obsession & is an interesting warm-up for his next series The Wicked and the Divine.

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Considering Cosplay

I recently went to an awesome event at Richmond’s Poe Museum.  It was a celebration of Vincent Price’s Poe movies & I had so much fun, I wrote about it.  One of the sponsors who attended, that I didn’t get a chance to mention, was RavenCon, Richmond’s very own Sci-Fi & Fantasy con that’s getting ready to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

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