The World in the Satin Bag has moved to my new website.  If you want to see what I'm up to, head on over there!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Comic Review: Marvel Point One, "Behold the Watcher" (2011)

As you all know, I have recently become immersed in the comic world.  In particular, I've rediscovered my love for some of the same characters I recall reading as a child.  Of course, having been away from the comics world for so long, I've missed a hell of a lot, including the issue I'm about to review now.  Since I have started reading the Marvel NOW "reboot" of the Uncanny X-Men, it has become apparent that I really need to know what the hell is going on.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Teaching Rambles: A Very Non-Traditional "American" Lit Syllabus (Nuevo Mundo!)

This fall, I am teaching a survey course in American Literature.  While I think my previous syllabi for this course have been non-traditional, this time I am opening up the flood gates.  Instead of teaching what we might call "American Literature," I am deliberately challenging the very idea of a single, identifiable "American" anything.  And if I get this syllabus approved, I will have one of the most intense, awesome fall teaching experiences ever...

Now without further delay, here is the list of texts I intend to teach (some publication dates are missing):

Friday, May 24, 2013

Link of the Week: Judith Butler Explained with Cats!

This.  I'd put the images up here, but that's not fair to the individual who decided combining cats with Judith Butler's Gender Trouble would result in pure, theoretical wonder.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Shoot the WISB #02: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) Reviewed w/ Paul Weimer and Jay Garmon

Spoiler Alert:  the following podcast contains spoilers for the film being reviewed; if you wish to see the film without having it ruined for you, download this podcast and save it for later.

Paul Weimer (website / twitter) and Jay Garmon (website / twitter) join me to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of J.J. Abrams' second installment in the Star Trek film reboot.  Feel free to offer your thoughts in the comments below.

You can download or stream the mp3 from this link.

2012 Nebula Awards Winners (w/ Brief Thoughts)

Last night, the SFWA folks hosted the 2012 Nebula Awards.  I didn't get to watch the live stream because I was trying to recover from the episode we recorded for The Skiffy and Fanty Show on Friday night (I'm still sort of recovering).  However, now that the awards have been announced, I see fit to talk about the winners.

Here they are:

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Black Guy is Ruining the Fantastic Four Reboot!

Oh, what?  He isn't?  Are you sure?  I mean.  He's black.  That means, like, Sue has to be black, right?  She doesn't?  Johnny or Sue could be adopted?  Or they could be children of different mothers or fathers or maybe they're interracial or something?  But I thought if you're half black and half white you just look almost white?  That's not true?  Really?  Well, the original Johnny was a white guy, so he has to stay white.  What about Idris Elba?  Oh, yeah, he was cool in Thor?  The original character wasn't a black guy?  Oh, well, then that's OK because he's not a major character.  Besides, this doesn't have anything to do about race.  I know I keep talking about it.  But just because I talk about race doesn't mean what we're talking about is actually about race, even if the only reason we're talking about it is because a black guy might be the Human Torch.  It's just not about race, OK?
That pretty much sums up the stupidity you'll find online about the rumor of Michael B. Jordan's (of Chronicle fame) possible casting as the Human Torch in the reboot of The Fantastic Four.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Movie Review: Iron Man 3 (2013)

If this is the end of Robert Downey, Jr.'s Iron Man films, then he's certainly left with a bang.  While far from perfect, Iron Man 3 (2013) continues Stark's emotional development with the same humor and action we have come to expect.  But it is also an unexpectedly deep look at Stark as a man amidst increasingly dangerous villains, tying together not only the previous two Iron Man movies (2008 and 2010), but also Joss Whedon's The Avengers (2012).  Flawed though it may be, Iron Man 3 is an excellent conclusion to a superb series.
Iron Man 3's basic premise is this:  Tony Stark has returned home from the events in New York City, only to find himself overwhelmed by panic attacks and nightmares; to distract himself, he has begun tinkering endlessly in his lab, building suit after suit after suit.  Meanwhile, the United States

Friday, May 10, 2013

My Trip to the Comic Shop (or, How I Started My Journey Back to Comic Books)

(Note:  I am still open to comic/graphic novel suggestions.  Feel free to leave them here.)

Yesterday, I went to the comic book shop.  It has been close to a decade since I last went into one, and longer since went shopping for comic books (or graphic novels -- manga excluded).  And so, I took the bus out to MEGA Gaming and Comics in Gainesville, FL expecting to find a few interesting things in that tiny shop by the gas station.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.  MGC is not so tiny after all.  Unlike the place in Placerville, CA, where I would sometimes buy Magic: the Gathering cards and what not, MGC seemed enormous in comparison.

The fellow running the place was also quite helpful.  The greatest fear I have as a new comics reader (or renewed, if you will) is jumping into the middle of a series and getting hopelessly lost (DC and Marvel in particular).  While I think some of my selections will require some backwards reading, the staff member (whose name I didn't catch) was kind enough to point me in the direction of a number of renewed properties that would be less alarming to a new reader.  Apparently DC and Marvel have recently tried to reboot some of their characters/series (the New 52 for DC and Marvel Now! for, well, Marvel), and I wouldn't have known that if MGC's staff hadn't told me.

As the list below will indicate, I didn't get that many things that were suggested by you readers.  Part of this was because the store simply didn't have some of them or were missing book #1.  The other part was that I forgot to write some of the titles down on my way out, and subsequently forgot the titles.  I've since added them to my Amazon Wishlist.  Since I have already read two of the books I purchased (yeah, that fast), I expect I'll buy a lot more stuff in the future, which means that my Amazon Wishlist is going to fill up with comics and graphic novels.

In any case, I won't hold off telling you what I got anymore.  Here goes (large pictures ahead):

Source Help: Books on Race in the Spanish Empire (and Mexico)

The other day, I stuck my foot really far into my mouth.  While recording an episode of The Skiffy and Fanty Show, we managed to get into a discussion about race in the various colonial empires (a discussion that is not part of the actual episode -- beyond off topic, really).  I managed to say something that, moments later, I realized was phenomenally stupid.  Why was it stupid?  Because I simply did not have enough information to make any reasonable assertion whatsoever.  If it's not already obvious, the topic was race in the Spanish Empire (Mexico in particular -- pre- and post-independence).  I caught myself fairly quickly (which is nice, considering the last time I said some stupid stuff on the show), but I still feel pretty damn bad about it.

Julia Rios has already suggested one book related to the subject of race in the Spanish Empire or Mexico (pre-/post-independence), but I was hoping some of you folks might have some good suggestions.  Basically, I'm looking for books that explore the relationship between the Spanish and the native populations at any point from the start of colonization to at least its end (if not later).  I have a preference for academic books (stuff printed by actual academic presses, rather than one of the big six), but even a really good popular text will give me a lot of gateways into exploring the topic in depth.

Any help here would be greatly appreciated!  Education is wonderful, and since the Spanish Empire and Mexico are not my strong points, I'd like to do some educating...

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Comic and Graphic Novel Suggestions: First Comic Book Shop a While!

I'm going to run off to the comic book shop at some point this week.  And that means I'm going to buy me some comics...which is where you lot come in.  Since I haven't been in the comic/graphic novel world in a while (aside from some manga here or there), I really don't know what's interesting and what's not.  I'd like to know what kind of stuff you have enjoyed that you think I might enjoy too.

What I'm looking for:

  • SF/F-ish stuff (broadly speaking)
  • Things that won't require me to be overly familiar with preceding material (so don't drop me flat in the middle of a story arc if I need to have read the previous two to figure out what the hell is going on)
  • Graphic novels OR standard comics (or collections/omnibuses)
  • No "universe" restrictions (you can throw me into DC, Marvel, or whatever)
Pretty basic wants, no?  Superheroes, space stuff, dragons, whatever.  I'll take my list of suggestions and go play around.

So have at it!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Comics and Tablets: Your Thoughts?

I've recently become interested in reading comics again.  I used to read them as a youngin', but sort of gave up on them for one reason or another (I used to collect all the trading cards from Marvel, too, and probably still have some floating around -- there's a box of comics somewhere in my closet).  But rather than jump in to whatever is going on right now, I want to read a lot of the backlist to get a sense of how things have progressed.  Understandably, that means doing so digitally (through the Marvel database, etc.), as trying to buy all those older comics would probably bankrupt me.

What I'm wondering is whether any of you have experience reading comics on any tablet.  I know there are a lot of different types out there, from the ASUS Transformer to the iPad to the Galaxy, but reviews can only go so far for me.  I need a bit more before I make that investment.

If you have read comics on a tablet, or at least have experience with one, let me know your thoughts about that particular device:  pros, cons, recommendations, etc.  I am partial to tablets that are connected to a vibrant app community, as reading comics will probably requiring the use of apps (PDF and CBR/CBZ readers).


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Shocking Revelations: Pointing Out Racism Doesn't Mean You Hate White People

A certain someone has written a brilliant little post in which they argues that John Scalzi should be impeached as SFWA president and N.K. Jemisin / Saladin Ahmed should be removed from the Nebula Awards short list because they apparently hate white people.  You read that right.  And you will also notice that I haven't linked to said individual's post, if only because it is mind-numbingly stupid.  If you're desperate enough to read it, though, you can do some clever Google searching.  For simplicity's sake, I will refer to this individual as Mr. Frosty Pants.

The post that has most offended Mr. Frosty Pants seems to be Scalzi's rather popular "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is."  I recommend you read that post, since it is obviously a steaming pile of anti-white nonsense (this must be what the white nationalists mean when they huff and puff about the genocide against the white race; damn you, Scalzi, for your word murder).  Of course, in the real world, it is a somewhat humorous way to explore how racial privilege works.  This is not what Mr. Frosty Pants takes from it, of course.  Instead, he argues the following:

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Top 10 Blog Posts for April 2013

The following were the most popular posts on my blog for the month of April.  The repeats have me a tad baffled, as at least two of these posts are in the top 10 list of my most popular posts of all time.  Weirdness.

Here's the list:

10.  "Academic Spotlight:  Disability in Science Fiction:  Representations of Technology as Cure edited by Kathryn Allan"
9.  "Retro Nostalgia:  Gattaca (1997) and Framing the Multivalent Ethical Dilemma"
8.  "Movie Review:  Oblivion (2013)"
7.  "Death Star Economics and Ethics? (Or, What Would You Do With a Death Star?)"
6.  "Retro Nostalgia:  Metropolis (1927) and the Torment of Humanity's Dreams"
5.  "Book Suggestions for 'American' Lit Syllabus (a terrible title...)"
4.  "Literary Explorations:  Gender Normativity, Genre Fiction, and Other Such Nonsense"
3.  "Top 10 Cats in Science Fiction and Fantasy"
2.  "Top 10 Overused Fantasy Cliches"
1.  "To the Hugo Defenders:  Check Your Financial Privilege at the Door"


Link of the Week: Star Wars + Navajo = Awesome

The Daily Times reports that the Navajo Nation Museum and the Parks and Recreation Department are working with LucasFilm to translate Star Wars into Diné bizaad, the traditional language of the Navajo people.

There's more detail at the link, obviously, but for now, I think it's appropriate for us all to jump up and down in celebration.  Because this is too awesome...