09 September 2011

COMICS and Costumes

With DC's relaunch of their entire line of titles, I decided to pick a few of them up to test the waters of reading comics on a regular basis again since I'd given up the habit and switched to trade paperbacks for the last few years due to the cost of individual titles. Not surprisingly, comics are still expensive and for some unknown reason that I'm sure DC and Marvel will both regret given the hindsight of enough time, they charge the same price for issues digitally. But having a solid, new jumping-on point for an increasingly insular and serialized world helps, thus COMICS.

Action Comics - Grant Morrison is my favorite writer, and he's attempting to bring Superman back to his Golden Age roots where he fought for the poor and downtrodden against the wealthy and powerful. Unfortunately, this has also led to a costume downgrade where he merely wears a t-shirt and jeans with work boots and a cape...and that's strange. I'm not a huge fan of Rags Morales doing the art duties, but I'm intrigued enough in a somewhat depowered Superman that isn't Smallville that I'll stick around for as long as Morrison steers the ship.

Batwing - The dialogue is corny, but I enjoy that Batman is helping establish a global identity for his brand of justice, establishing that the Batman Inc. storyline from a few months ago isn't entirely dead.

Stormwatch - This felt like writer Paul Cornell was breaking the cardinal rule of writing of "show not tell." There was way too much expository dialogue that didn't really explain all that much. There's no problem with dropping the reader in on the middle of a story and allowing them to catch up, but this issue didn't present the opportunity for that catching up. There was a lot of standing around and talking, but without witty dialogue and then very little action.

Batgirl - This...this was awful. Batgirl is portrayed as weak and ineffectual, her roommate is right out of Stock Modern Hippie Characters 101, and the villain is stupid. Plus, the police are stupid, especially in the final scene. DC made a lot of waves in taking Barbara Gordon out of her wheelchair-bound persona of Oracle and placing her back in the cape and cowl of Batgirl, and even that was glossed over in a lazy fashion. However, in the comic's defense, it wasn't the WORST thing I read this week.

Detective Comics - This was the absolute worst thing I read this week. Jim Lee's redesign barely works when it's drawn by Jim Lee, and it completely misses every mark when drawn by anyone else. NOT EVERYONE IS GOOD AT DRAWING UNNECESSARY SEAMS, JIM LEE! However, the art is better than the nonsensical story, which is filled with an over-the-top climactic scene at the end that literally saw me say "Ew...!" A review I read described this as an issue of Spawn where someone went through the script and just did a Find and Replace on Microsoft Word to insert Batman and the Joker's names. On top of that, none of the characterization felt true to the core of the characters. The Joker has friends? What? Has writer Tony Daniel ever heard of the Joker? I'm glad I had to buy this digitally because that allows me to delete the issue and never have to read it again.

Justice League International - My big problem with the launch of Justice League last week was the fact that it had seven characters on the cover, three and a half of which show up in the actual issue. The whole thing amounted to a Green Lantern/Batman conversation with Superman showing up acting like a jerk on the last two pages while Cyborg isn't recognizable as his namesake. It takes time to introduce these characters, you say? Well, not according to Justice League International, which does a fine job of introducing each person, gives them distinct personality quirks and creates an intriguing arc of playing Booster Gold as the leader of the team because he's an easily manipulated patsy. This is not rocket science and it's been done before to great success in the past. Justice League, take a cue from your B-team, and get it together.

Animal Man - The art is appropriately keeping a foot in two worlds by presenting Animal Man as a down-to-Earth superhero who's been out of the game for a little while while also managing to up the creep factor when he enters a dream sequence. This felt like everything an Animal Man comic should be by making him a relatable family man, an animal rights activist, and a superhero greatly in tune with his power. Animal Man wins the week.

Last Monday, August 29, you took the Animal Farm re-test. This is next on my list of things to grade as soon as I finish up the dialectical journals.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, August 30 through September 1, we discussed everything Animal Farm. While you were given a list of discussion questions, I focused more on the questions you had first and foremost. The answers you provided still wound up covering much of the information that I would have liked to have covered had we just focused on the given questions. This is one of those occasions where everyone wins. You also turned in your annotated Animal Farm books

Then on that same Thursday and the following Friday, September 2, we began covering the Jane Shaffer essay terms.

This past Tuesday, we completed those terms and I assigned the Animal Farm plot chart which you worked on for the rest of the period. By the way, the climax is when Boxer gets taken away to the slaughter house. It's at that point that everyone has their dreams crushed, and the animals are resigned to a life similar to or worse than the one that Jones provided previously. Soul crushing, right?

Wednesday and Thursday, you watched The Russian Revolution in Color, the content of which is self-explanatory to anyone paying attention to the title. You took notes on the aspects of history that you could connect to the plot of the book.

You're going to use those notes to complete two chunks (a concrete detail sentence followed by two commentary sentences) on two separate Animal Farm characters where you compare what happened in the book to the events of the Russian Revolution. Depending on your class period today, we created at least one chunk on Old Major and either started or completed one on Mr. Jones. The two chunks are due Monday, September 12.

Our look at philosophy continued on Monday, August 29, when we discussed Plato and Aristotle in depth. The thing to remember about those two and Socrates is the following: Socrates asked why. Plato explained why. Aristotle explained how we got to why.

Tuesday, August 30, we read and (somewhat) discussed the Allegory of the Cave. It's amazing how relevant this remains almost two and a half millennia later. In fact, a recent story I first saw on Gizmodo discusses a very similar occurrence that happened recently. These lab chimps saw daylight for the very first time in over 30 years, and their reaction of joy and contentment is something to behold. Notice how they relish the moment and attempt to take everything in by looking around their new, natural surroundings. AND THEY HUG! I've probably watched that video five times just to see how happy the chimps are feeling the sun on their skin. It's amazing.

You took the first lit terms test on Wednesday, August 31. Retakes will be allowed on Monday, September 12, and Thursday, September 15.

We discussed the idea of the cave on Thursday, September 1, and you worked on the questions associated with Plato's dialogue.

Friday, September 2, you completed the first and easiest part of the lit project by having your book or order form for your book. We discussed annotation and how to be successful when attempting to annotate. Check out this list if you're ever confused.

  • examples of lit terms in action (especially the proceeding three)
    • motif
    • theme
    • symbol
  • unfamiliar words (define them)
  • commentary on what happens (explain your thoughts & opinions)
  • important/notable passages (briefly explain why you think said passages are notable or important)
  • character development (note new characters, character descriptions, or major changes to characters)
  • ask questions (provide answers later, when possible)
  • chapter summaries (describe three important things that happened)
This past Tuesday, you received the article selection guidelines and were asked to write an article selection-style precis on the Allegory of the Cave using MLA format. This serves as practice for the article selection assignments you'll be completing over the course of the lit project. The first of those is due Thursday, September 15.

Speaking of September 15, that's when you'll be taking your next lit terms test, the terms for which you received on Wednesday and Thursday. Once we finished going over those terms, you received time to read and annotate. Hopefully, you used that time productively. Here are the terms:

  1. Symbol
  2. External Conflict
  3. Internal Conflict
  4. Denotation
  5. Antagonist
  6. Protagonist
  7. Point of View
  8. Foreshadowing
  9. 1st person pov
  10. 3rd per. Limited
  11. Dramatic Irony
  12. Verbal Irony
  13. Tone
  14. Setting
  15. Mood
  16. Connotation
  17. 3rd per. Omniscient
  18. Situational Irony
  19. Irony
  20. Simile
Today, the practice article selection assignment was due. After turning that in, we discussed advertising slogans, something to which no one is immune, myself included. As promised, here's a compilation of Mac Tonight commercials. Apparently, Mac has been revived in CGI form for a Singapore ad campaign that informs customers that McDonalds is now open 24 hours. Maybe he'll get a similar revival in the states sometime soon.

If you're interested in seeing a picture of me in that infamous costume, I posted one over at my Facebook page. You'll also find that my dad knew exactly where it was in the garage and fished it down. My mom is quite the craftswoman since that moon head has survived almost 24 years, which is pretty impressive for paper-mache and cardboard.

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