Posted in Special Announcement

CALS Con 2017: Propaganda in Comics

Over the weekend we celebrated our annual library-sponsored Little Rock comic book convention, CALS Con. As always, cosplayers and enthusiasts turned out to represent various fandoms, from Guardians of the Galaxy to Batman, Star Wars to Doctor Who. I’m no stranger to conventions. I’ve attended ComicCon in San Diego, Gen Con in Indianapolis, ICC (International Camarilla Convention) in New Orleans. Last year at CALS Con I moderated a panel discussing Studio Ghibli and the world of Miyazaki Hayao. This year I was honored to participate in the panel on Propaganda in Comics, and I thought my readers here might be interested in the highlights.

P.S. None of the images belong to me and I tried to provide all the sources I could.

World War II

Hitler / HansiJapanPopeye

Some dehumanizing, racist bullshit

Racism via Duck Cartoon / Racism via Superman / Racism via Captain America


Obama with SpidermanObamaObama-style Iron ManObama Rorschach

Political candidates

Hillary / Bernie / Trump

Political issues


Conservative ideas

anti evolution Batman meme / anti bathrooms

Religious ideas

Skateboarding JesusReligiousTracts
Skateboard JesusReligious Tract

Progressive ideas

Gay Kiss 2Gay KissMuslim Ms MarvelKamala KhanFemale ThorSJWBlack MJZendaya MJ
interracial gay kisslesbian kiss / Muslim Ms Marvel / female Thor / interracial kiss with female ThorBlack Mary Jane

Posted in Jobe Update, Reviews

Dystopian Futures (Turned Political Rant)

It was a strange experience to read the Divergent trilogy at the same time as watching The 100 at the same time as listening to the audiobook Cinder. All three give far-future versions of earth, and there are disturbing similarities.

Every future earth has divisions of people: people who are judged better or worse than each other, people who are categorized as equal or inferior. In the Divergent trilogy, the Erudite faction criminalizes the Abnegation faction; then the Factions faceoff with the Factionless; then people are separated into Divergent and Non-Divergent, and judged on their genetic material.

In The 100, there are people on the council and people who are not; people who are allowed to live, and people who get floated. The 100 is a group of criminal youth who get jettisoned to earth while the rest of the population is still orbiting in space. Once The 100 start getting a feel for the planet, they come up against Grounders, Reapers, and later, Mountain Men. The Mountain Men call Grounders “savages,” and the tone is very reticent of WASPy comparisons like “heathens” versus the “civilized” western folks who are bent on colonizing and erasing anyone who doesn’t share their “civilized” western culture. (That’s mainly my take on Britain and America, the colonization part isn’t in the show so much.) But even from the first episode, Octavia and Bellamy are seen as Other because they are siblings in a time when strict population control means no one is allowed to have more than one child.

In season two (the season I just finished) Clarke faces a group who seem friendly enough on the surface, but she suspects they’re hiding dark secrets. Meanwhile, the adults from the space stations are trying to treat The 100 like kids again, even though The 100 are the ones who know the most about how to live on the surface.

And then there’s Cinder. Our main character is reviled for being cyborg, or part machine. She’s also poor instead of rich, and tomboyish (mechanic with grease stains) instead of aspiring to be more princess-like (silk gowns and pearls and such). There’s a planetwide prejudice of Earthens harboring hatred for Lunars. And there’s a class difference between Cinder as a member of the kingdom and Kai (her love interest) as a member of the royalty.

If you’re interested in dystopian futures, check out this cool blog post that talks about Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games and more. And, of course, watch the new Mad Max movie. Because it is fucking awesome.

So. Our modern literature and our modern media (all aimed at teens, in the above cases) teach us that difference doesn’t make us less-than, and prejudice is wrong and stupid. In fact, we’ve really been saying it since forever (in literature and media that goes way back). Judging people based on the color of their skin or the customs of their culture is ignorant, short-sighted, and only leads to suffering. It feels like Everybody should know this by now. So how the fuck do we end up with a guy like Drumpf as our president, who literally embodies everything wrong and evil and gross in our country? We The People are (supposed to be) better than this mess. I wish we’d start acting like it.


Posted in Reading Challenge, Special Announcement

Reading Challenges Progress Report

With April drawn to a close our year is 1/3 finished and 2/3 to go. I’ve read 13 books so far.

PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge Full List

No. 4 An audiobook Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
No. 10 cat on cover Abarat by Clive Barker
No. 11 pseudonym The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey
No. 15 subtitle Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker (Abarat book 2)
No. 17 mythical creature Tithe by Holly Black
No. 39 first book in series you haven’t read yet Divergent by Veronica Roth
No. 35 set in a hotel Lost Girls by Alan Moore, illustrated by Melinda Gebbie
No. 29 unreliable narrator Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files book 7)
No. 28 a novel set during war time Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent book 2)
No. 13 a book by or about a person who has a disability Cinder by Marissa Meyer
No. 14 a book involving travel Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent book 3)
No. 47 a book with an eccentric character Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files book 8)
No. 51 a book about a difficult topic Autonomy and Rigid Character by David Shapiro

Challenge Completed Status
PopSugar 13 33% main
25% advanced
Audiobooks 5 50% Byte
20% Megabyte
Pages 5,289 44% Bonsai
22% Shrub
Colors 8 89% completed
Reread 2 50% Déjà Vu
25% Feeling Nostalgic
TBR 6 50% Pike’s Peak
25% Mount Blanc
Rock My TBR 6 50% completed
Diversity 4 33% completed
Full House 13 52% completed
Books You Buy 4 29% Making Inroads
Memoirs zero! Oh no! 0%
What’s in a Name 2 33% completed

Book Dragon’s Lair Audiobooks 5 books
Book Dragon’s Lair Pages Read 5,289 pgs

My Reader’s Block Colors & Read it again, Sam On the colors challenge I have all but one completed. For re-reads I’ve done 2.
My Reader’s Block TBR Pile Half way to Pike’s Peak.

The YA Book Traveler Rock My TBR #ROCKMYTBR   6 books

Diverse Reads from Read Sleep Repeat and Chasing Faerytales #DiverseReads2017   4 of 12

Book Date Full House 13 of 25

Non Fiction On TBR for 2+ years: Divergent by Veronica Roth More than 500 pages: Allegiant by Veronica Roth Page Turner: The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey Middle Grade book
2017 published Published pre 2000: Autonomy and Rigid Character by David Shapiro UK/European author: Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker Back List book from fav author Book from a list: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Award Winner: Abarat by Clive Barker Books about books Size word in title Two Worded Title: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher book 8 Dresden Files Debut book: Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Food on cover or title Cozy Mystery: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, book 7 in the Dresden Files Book from childhood Diversity book: Lost Girls by Alan Moore, illustrated by Melinda Gebbie Australian/NZ author
Western USA/Canadian author: Insurgent by Veronica Roth Not really for you Attractive cover: Tithe by Holly Black Borrowed

Book Date Read What You Buy 4 of 14 or 29%, which lands me in the Making Inroads category. I have intentions to read more of these, but I probably won’t (ever) stop buying books. I made a shelf on to categorize all my purchased books, so that’s good, right?


The Cutest Blog on the Block Memoirs ZERO! I probably need to dedicate a month to nothing but memoirs. But there’s still plenty of time so I’m not giving up yet.

The Worm Hole What’s In a Name #whatsinaname2017   2 of 6
This one is proving to be really hard to “accidentally” complete (unlike popsugar, where every book I read can fit at least a couple categories). I’m starting to understand why there are so few—you basically have to seek out particular titles which will satisfy the requirement! Not ready to start choosing books that way, though, maybe later on I will.

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

April, May reads in review

The diversity challenge for the month of April was “mental health,” and though it took me a little into May to finish it, I’m counting it for April. I chose a book that had been recommended by many friends in my Facebook group for OCPD, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. The easiest oversimplication for OCPD I could come up with that gives people a good general starting point is, “It’s like OCD, except I think I’m right about everything.” Of course it’s (much) more complicated than that, and if you’re interested in learning more about it, you should check out my friend Darryl’s youtube channel on the subject.

The book I chose was Autonomy and Rigid Character by David Shapiro. The first thing I would say about this book is that it is very “science-y.” If you’re looking for an easy read, this slim volume is not it. Shapiro writes as a scientist, presumably to other scientists. There’s no dumbing it down for the masses. I’m pretty smart, and I encountered several instances where I needed to go over a single sentence more than once to catch its meaning. I also read parts of the book aloud, which seemed to increase my reading comprehension for difficult sections. Another way this book differs from some of the softer science feel-good books popular today (and I enjoy those too, don’t get me wrong) is that it doesn’t really buffer or bracket the ideas presented. By that I mean, they are sectioned, but there isn’t really an introduction chapter, and there’s definitely no closing to review. The section ends a particular subject and without warning, the book is over, just like that.

I chose this book because I suspected some of its content might resonate for me, but there’s plenty in it that would be useful to anyone interested in trying to understand different kinds of people and different ways of thinking.

So here’s the basic premise. “The rigid person, it appears, continues to emulate and to identify himself with images of superior authority derived from the child’s image of the superior authority of the adult… The aims and purposes that rigid individuals impose on themselves, and live under (‘I should accomplish more.’ ‘I should move.’) have precisely the character of established authoritative rules or imperatives” (74, 75-76).

People with OCPD have experienced a very strong authority figure in childhood, and as adults police themselves with a strong sense of “should.” What they should or shouldn’t want, what they should or shouldn’t do. This concept also extends to how others should or shouldn’t act, though what is “just common courtesy” to one person might be an arbitrary determination for another. In the Facebook group, for example, we had a discussion about how late is too late to call another person’s phone, and while we all agreed that there was a certain lateness after which it was definitely rude, the specific time could not be agreed upon. People with OCPD take the way they were raised, and the ways they’ve determined as the best ways, and treat these somewhat arbitrary methods as the only right way to do things. You can see how this might lead to conflict with others.

“Duties and responsibilities, values that the compulsive individual imposes on himself, values whose authority he regards as superior to his own… They have, therefore, the status of rules and regulations… His awareness of such duties and responsibilities is to one degree or another oppressive, and this oppresive tension gives rise to a special kind of motivation, the motivation to seek relief… The urgent tone typical of these declarations, their language of will and resolve…They are reminders of duty—directives, admonitions, or reproaches in the manner of a superior addressing a subordinate… The experience of ‘I should’ is oppresive” (80-81).

Shapiro goes on to explain that ritual action, “is not aimed at altering the relationship of the individual to his environment” but is instead is aimed “at achieving peace of mind, merely by the performance of the act itself” (97). So ritual actions are actions that we feel compelled to complete. Adjusting objects slightly askew, checking that the door is locked several times, and so on. “These concerns and procedures are driven by a conscientiousness that will not be lastingly satisfied” so rituals end up being condensed “for the sake of economy,” which is why, “rituals frequently involve doing something a perscribed number of times, obviating the threat of an indefinite progression” (99).

I found all that insight extremely interesting! There’s a lot more in this book that others may find interesting: discussions of sadism and masochism both inside and outside the bedroom; a case study from around 1900 where a man feared he was being “turned into” a woman; and an explanation of paranoid thinking. So if you’re looking for a highly scientific exploration of thought processes, this might be the book for you. I’m definitely curious to pick up another of Shapiro’s volumes.



Reading Challenges
Here are the reading challenge updates:

Below are the hashtags of the challenges that had them:


Posted in Jobe Update

May update

In the last couple weeks, my life has turned unrecognizable. A friend died. I went on a trip. I caught a virus. And then I caught pink eye. For three of the four, I missed a lot of work: I forced myself to go back and start getting caught up during the virus because I’d already missed so many days from emotional distress, and the trip.

The friend who passed and I weren’t on great terms. He’d dated a friend of mine and not treated her right, imho, and I was mad at him for that. But outside of that, we’d shared a circle of friends for a long while, and I had good memories of him alongside the bad ones. He was 33 and he had 2 heart attacks and he died, and it really, really wasn’t fair. And the thing I kept coming back to was that, we’re still so young, we babes in our thirties, and we deserve the chance to get to be mad at each other, and to make up. Young people are supposed to be allowed the grace to make mistakes and learn from them and become better. And that was what felt the worst about it. That for him, any mistakes he had made would be left that way. Now, he’d never get the chance to right those wrongs. And I’d never get the chance to not be in a fight with him any more.

He had been a writer, like me, like many of my readers here. His family read poems from his work, and I felt mortified on his behalf, because the last thing I’d want would be people going through my stuff like that: what if they read something sexual? or close-minded? or written badly? But they said funerals are for the living. And for that reason I’m glad there was something left behind to staunch the grief, to let his brother and sister feel close to him for a little while longer.

We attended the wake on a Monday evening, attended the funeral and procession and graveside service on a Tuesday. I called in Wednesday, too. I was upset to have lost a friend, sad not to have encountered more of the good in him as attendees tearfully spoke of his gentle kindness and his calm heart. But I was also upset by the existential dread that always comes with confronting death. We can’t stop it from happening, and we don’t know what, if anything, comes next. How utterly alien it is to look at a person’s body and know that that person isn’t in there. Where do we go, and what has it meant to have been alive?

I messed up two of my different medication doses not once but twice, so my brain chemistry and hormones were way out of whack. I went to therapy. I told my boss I didn’t want people to see me this way, not at my best. He said they could use my help, and I figured he was just saying it to be nice.

But I went to work on Thursday, and I got a lot of work accomplished, and I felt useful and smart and capable. My boss knew that coming in and doing something I was good at would make me feel better about myself, and it did. By Friday morning I was ready to pack for our trip to Memphis, where the Beale St Music Fest was happening, and where we’d agreed to meet with an old friend driving from the opposite direction.

The hotel was nice (though maybe not as nice as we were paying for it), and Friday was the glorious relaxing day all vacations should include: do only your favorite stuff with only your favorite people. Walk around town, read, play cards, watch tv, nap. Friday was lovely in that it required nothing from me. As I told the partner who was with me, “It’s like being at home. Except someone else does all the chores.”


On Saturday my throat had started to bother me, but I didn’t know I was sick yet. We went to see the Kongos perform, and stayed for 45 minutes of their 60 minute set. Our friends didn’t know their music, and I’d started to feel bad. Walking back to the hotel felt much, much more difficult than it should have. By the time we arrived I was beset by stomach troubles and lots of feeling really bad. We got to hang out with our friends a little more later on, after I’d slept some, but I didn’t get to drink as I’d wanted to. Still, I was glad to have caught up and talked and listened and talked some more.

Sunday I slept all day, in between my partner bringing me various medicines. Monday was much the same, except that my partner drove us home and took me to the doctor. It felt like strep but the test was negative and the doc assured us it was a virus going around, his wife had had it, the next phase would involve copious amounts of congestion. Thus encouraged (not encouraged at all) I went home to sleep some more.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of that second week, I got up and went to work and worked hard and accomplished a whole lot, every day. I’d missed 4 of 5 days last week and I had so much to do, and I was determined to do it. I basically decided to pretend I wasn’t sick, and just plow through it. Kleenex, Sudafed, and these special throat-numbing cough drops were my constant allies. Plus ibuprofen and Tylenol for the headaches and body aches. I thought of the days that I’d languished in bed with only my heart hurting, blissfully unaware of the physical pain on its way to join the party.

And then, after 3 of 5 days of work for the week, making 4 of 10 days worked in the last two weeks, Friday morning I woke up with my left eye glued shut. Google confirmed that I had most of the top 10 signs of an eye infection, and when I spoke to my doctor’s nurse on the phone, she agreed. She didn’t even make me come in for another appointment, she just called in the perscription eye drops. Ah, pink eye. How the heck had I gotten that? All I could figure was that my immune system was already down from fighting the virus.

So I didn’t work Friday, and I didn’t work Saturday. I had my writer’s group by Skype chat (a novelty, but I don’t recommend it over in-person), and I missed out on the big get together happening Saturday night (with “everyone but me”). Instead I’m here, writing to you, but I’m glad I got the chance.

So that’s the story of how I worked less than 1 week in 2 weeks and managed to falter through all the various obstacles of living. The story of how I lost a friend and attended only 1 show at a 3-day music festival. I have lost count of the boxes of Kleenex and the number of cough drops consumed. And any time the universe wants to slow it down some and get back to my regularly scheduled program of feeling pretty okay, I’d be fine with that.

Thanks for listening.

Consolation prize? Pirate patch.