Tagged: technology

Emily S. Whitten: A Missive from Discworld

Whitten Art 130709My dearest ComicMix readers;

It is with much happiness and a dash of haste that I write to you near the close of the festivities and frivolities of The North American Discworld Convention of 2013. Although alas, several days before this gathering of Discworldian folk, word arrived from the highly esteemed Sir Terry Pratchett that he would be unable to attend (due to a desire to put the next novel of the Discworld, Raising Steam, into all of our hands as quickly as he might possibly do, and who can be too unhappy about that?) I am having a marvelous time, and wished to share the entertainment with you via this letter.

On the Thursday evening of this week, my good friend Erica and I hosted a cozy gala in celebration of the Glorious Revolution (of Treacle Mine Road, of course. And yes, dear readers, I do realize that we are a bit delayed from the traditional celebrations on the 25th May, but we thought it would be appropriate due to hearing that there would be fireworks on the evening of 4th July, for some other celebration of the day). It was a smashing sensation, full of good company and sprigs of lilac, and yes, even a hard-boiled egg or two. We served scumble, a most appealing drink brewed from a recipe handed down through my family for many generations, and made of apples (well, mostly apples). It is very nutritious, and was extremely popular amongst the guests; many of whom did not even begin tripping over the furniture or falling down until their second servings.

On the Friday I was most fortunate to hear several learned scholars, including that incomparable novelist of stories for young adults, Esther M. Friesner, and the wise reviewer of books for The Washington Post, Mr. Michael Dirda, discuss their choices and recommendations for literature that fans of the good knight’s writings might also like to peruse. It was most educational. I believe that Mr. Christopher Moore and Mr. Jasper Fforde may have been mentioned. We were also privileged on Friday to hear from Sir Terry himself, in a message sent from across the ocean via the mechanism of moving pictures in combination with some sort of modern technological wonder. Later, via that same wonder, the manager of Sir Terry’s affairs, a Mr. Robert Wilkins, did read to us the beginning chapter of the current work in progress, Raising Steam. It was most diverting! However, I have been informed that if I share any details more than that with you, my good readers, I may soon suffer the proverbial ‘fate worse than death.’ Which I do believe involves mimes. I shudder to think, and will therefore keep my countenance on this matter.

On the Saturday I was privileged to be a panelist, along with the aforementioned Esther M. Friesner and other knowledgeable ladies, on a panel entitled ‘Dress to Express,’ in which we discussed methods of costuming ourselves with both effect and economy. Tips shared by the good ladies and myself included the advice to repurpose items located in various thrifty shops or originally masquerading as bedclothes, curtains, or other large rectangular bolts of fabric (I believe a woman named Maria once utilized this technique to great effect); to look to hardware stores and to shops available through the wonders of technology, such as eBay, Etsy, TrulyVictorian.com, Laughing Moon Mercantile, Corset Story, American Apparel and more for supplies, items of clothing, patterns, and custom-made items; and to examine text references, references from moving pictures and moving gaming, and other similar places for inspiration and information about costuming details. It was also suggested that one might call upon friends with knowledge and skills at variance with one’s own to give advice, aid, and occasionally custom-made items, perhaps in trade for an item made for the friend.

On the Sunday, yours truly was honored to be inducted into that well-established Ankh-Morporkian institution, the Thieves’ Guild, by the head of the Guild himself, Sir Josiah Boggis; and to receive the traditional bowler hat, as well as a new guild name. Those meeting me on the street in future while I am engaged in the Guild’s business may now call me “Snake Eyes Burke” if they wish, and I will happily respond. I was also delighted to hear a wise discussion of what it is like to work with Sir Terry on his writings, in a panel featuring his esteemed UK agent, Colin Smythe, and his US editors, Jennifer Brehl and Anne Hoppe. Most enlightening! Sunday also hosted a technologically assisted long-distance discussion with Sir Terry, in which he answered questions regarding his wonderful creations. The day ended with a most marvelous gala banquet and entertainment from all over the Disc, including a quite remarkable aerial and acrobatic display by the usually quite sedate Miss Tiffany Aching.

Monday, alas, was our last day of festivities, but it did allow me the time to attend a quite amusing discourse on the world of map-making for the Disc and Ankh-Morpork. An alternately rapt and rowdy audience was informed that not only will there soon be a new map of the Disc coming to us from that historic establishment, The Discworld Emporium, but also that at some time in the near future, we will be able to purchase deeds for real estate in the great city of Ankh-Morpork; complete with a bill of sale and detailed description of each property being sold. I have already informed the proprietors of my desire for a choice and historical piece of property in the most exclusive environs, and expect to soon be able to direct everyone to the new address of Ms. Snake Eyes Burke, Esq.

That concludes my news of Discworldian festivities to this point. I hope you have been at least slightly diverted by my report.

With all sincerity and fond wishes,

Ms. Emily S. Whitten, Esq.

a.k.a. Snake Eyes Burke

Postscript: As per our continuing correspondence, please Servo Lectio!




In response to Kelly Sue DeConnick…

Kelly Sue DeConnick posted this on her Tumblr this morning. Reading the question I was saddened and angered but not surprised.

In industries that have a history of being a boys club, it’s not unusual to assume females are there either because of sleeping their way in or being the token female and therefore inferior to their male colleges. I am incredibly lucky to work in a technology company with a female CEO where being a woman is not looked down upon. I don’t have to worry about bout being thought of as a second class citizen because of my gender. Sadly, this is not true of all companies or all industries.

While I do not work in the comic book industry, I do spend a lot of time hanging out at my local comic shop House Of Secrets and I work programming magic for ComicMix on occasion. Both of these places were so welcoming to me when I took my first step into the world of comic books. I feel blessed to know all of the awesome people who work there.

Over the past year or so, as I dug myself out of a self-imposed hole of isolation, I started noticing a trend. I became aware that even though this is 2013, even though my mother and my grandmother fought this fight, it is still vitally important to stand up for myself and my gender. Somehow in 2013 I had to take stock of all the things I took for granted and take up the mantle of feminism. And I thought to myself ‘Really? This is 2013, right?’ We already fought for the right to vote, work and have a family or not when or if we felt it was right.

Yet here we are, still underrepresented in pay, out numbered in many professions (comics, technology, science, engineering, the list goes on) and less likely to be in the top jobs in whatever field we are in. It pains me that we have to resort to asking people to think of their daughters or their sisters to have the empathy to understand what is happening instead of just expecting them to treat human beings as human beings. Things like this seem to happen everyday, and I don’t know what to do to fix them. So I do what little I can.

First, if you are a woman in tech, comics, or any field just drop me a line. If nothing else, I can be your own personal cheerleader. Second off, to Kelly Sue, I’m sorry some asshole assumed you married your way in to Marvel. Your writing alone shows how terribly wrong he is. That said, I kinda want to be you when I grow up :). Your writing has proven to so many women that we can stand out and be awesome in whatever the hell it is we do and that should outshines any trolls.

I was helping out at House of Secrets the other day and a girl came in looking for Buffy season 9 vol. 1, which was sold out. I told her if she wanted an awesome female doing awesome things to check out your Captain Marvel TP. We discussed feminist comic books, and how amazing it is that they even exist. We agreed if women like us who are amazing at our jobs and proud of it don’t stand up, mentor other women, and keep the torch burning, everything our mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers fought for can disappear in an instant it seems.

And now that I’ve had my ‘I am woman here me roar speech’ we now return your regularly scheduled posts of dinosaurs covered in glitter and the like.

Reposted from Sara Unplugged.


Dennis O’Neil: Iron Man Grows Up

O'Neil Art 130516I think I know what I liked about Tony Stark when I first encountered him back in Cape Girardeau. I was a cheap-seats journalist who was just rediscovering comic books after forgetting about them for more than a decade, spinning the rack at the drug store, scanning the displays in the bus terminal, killing time in a strange town by reading these relics of my childhood. And liking them.

I particularly enjoyed some of the mags that bore the Marvel Comics logo, and among these, staple-to-staple with Spider-Man, The Hulk, The Avengers – the beginnings of Marvel pantheon – was Tales of Suspense, a title that delivered two stories, two heroes. These were Captain America, a super-patriot I dimly remember enjoying when I was six or seven, and a new guy, Iron Man. His other name was Tony Stark.

There was a lot not to like about ol’ shellhead, as he was sometimes called. Let me count the ways… He was an arms dealer and, to a peacenik like I was, arms dealers belonged somewhere deep in hell. He was a capitalist. (Okay, nowhere near as bad as being an arms dealer, but I did not count the Rockefellers among my role models.) He was a technologist and, like a lot of hippie-types, I did not trust technology. (There is evidence that technology has been exacting revenge ever since. Note to technology: I was wrong, okay?) And finally: it was suggested, though maybe not much shown, that our Tony was both a conspicuous consumer and a womanizer. Two more nixes.

A lot not to like.

But he got his powers from a device he invented to deal with a heart damaged by shrapnel. For some reason, that appealed to me. I’m pretty sure that I’d never read the story of the centaur Chiron – Catholic schools in the 50s were not big on “pagan” mythology – and so I didn’t know the tale of the half-man/half-beast who was wounded by a venom-tipped arrow and could never be healed. Chiron was a great teacher but what qualifies him as a possible predecessor of Iron Man is that he later gave up his life to redeem Prometheus and that gives him hero cred. (The other side of the story is that Chiron, being immortal, was doomed to countless eons of agony because of that damned wound and he could have seen the Prometheus situation as a quickhop off the struggle bus. But he never really existed, so mind.) Anyway: even with twisting and tugging of the myth, it’s hard to make a case for a direct connection between Tony and Chiron, and yet Chiron was the closest analogy to Iron Man I could find. Why bother? Because maybe by rummaging around in antiquity, I’ll be able to figure out why I responded favorably to an tin-plated lounge lizard.

Later, Tony redeemed himself and became a good guy I could like without those nagging reservations. But those first meetings…Well, I liked womanizing assassin James Bond, too. Still do.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Your Star Trek Into Darkness Roundup

Your Star Trek Into Darkness Roundup

With less than two months to go before Star Trek Into Darkness opens in theaters, the Paramount marketing machine has been busy. Here are the updates for the week including activities at the movie’s app and the spoiler-rich International Trailer.

Star Trek App Mission: Scan the “Space Invader Art” at Subliminal Projects

Using cutting-edge image recognition technology, Star Trek app users who visit Subliminal Projects in Los Angeles and scan the “Space Invader” art piece outside the building this Saturday will earn 30 points towards a higher rank in the app’s Starfleet Academy.

When:  Saturday, March 23, 2013

Where: Subliminal Projects

1331 West Sunset Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90026

Enter for a Chance to Win a Costume from the Film

Users of Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek app have until March 31 for a chance to win one of 50 costumes from the upcoming “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” movie. Enter the sweepstakes once a day through the end of March, only in the Star Trek app!

When:  Now through March 31, 2013

Where: Click on the “Sweeps” button within the Star Trek app, available for download through the App Store and Google Play at www.StarTrekMovie.com/App

About the Sweepstakes:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES (D.C.) AND CANADA 13 AND OLDER.  VOID IN QUEBEC AND WHERE PROHIBITED. Sweepstakes ends 3/31/13. For Rules, alternate entry, and complete details, visit www.startrekmovie.com/startrekapp/sweepstakes-official_rules.html. Sponsor: Paramount Pictures Corporation.

Saturday Morning Cartoons: #KickstartCobra!

Cobra Command

Help non-profit organization COBRA rebuild its home and base of operations, Cobra Island, which was destroyed by GI JOE.

We are COBRA, a worldwide organization devoted to making advancements in science and defense technology.

Recently our home and secret base of operations was destroyed in an attack by the terrorist militia known as GI JOE.
So after discussing a plan of action with my colleagues DESTRO, DR. MINDBENDER, and our business analysts TOMAX and XAMOT, we reached the conclusion that we need $94 billion to fully restore COBRA ISLAND and the COBRA organization.



The Point Radio: Weather Channel Shows Us How To HACK THE PLANET


It’s not only super villains who want to control the weather – scientists do as well, and now they have the technology. It’s all explained in a cool new series on The Weather Channel called HACKING THE PLANET with John Keener and Cara Santa Maria (from TALK NERDY TO ME) and they give us all the details – plus have you seen that WONDER WOMAN fan film? Somebody finally got it right!

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

A Doctor A Day – “New Earth”

Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode, The Snowmen.

A trip to the future, a return of a foe presumed dead (get used to THAT one) and a moral conundrum.  And it all happens on…

by Russell T Davies
Directed by James Hawes

“It’s like living inside a bouncy castle!”

The Doctor and Rose travel back to the five billions, to the time after The End of The World, to New Earth, the city of New15 York. The Doctor got a message from someone via his psychic paper, asking him to come to his aid at a nearby hospital.  But someone is watching, and as soon as the pair try to enter the elevators, they are separated.  Rose is sent to the basement, and is confronted by Lady Cassandra O’Brien, the last pureblood human, and the baddie behind the events on Platform One.  Saved from her apparently grisly death by cloning a new “body” from leftover parts (parts from the …back), she barely survives in the basement of the hospital, and has made plans to move on.  And for Rose to come along, another pureblood human, specifically one responsible for nearly killing her…well, when the fates hand you an opportunity like that…  Cassandra uses a device to transplant her mind into Rose’s body, and begins to take stock of new assets.

The Doctor, meanwhile, was summoned by The Face of Boe, who he met on Platform One as well.  The Face is dying, and his nurse, Novice Hame, explains that legend says that as he dies, he will impart great knowledge to someone like him, “A traveler, a lonely god”.

Amazingly, Cassandra’s not the real threat.  The Sisters of Plenitude, a feline race who run the hospital, have been breeding clones expressly to infect with every disease known to man, for the purpose of finding cures for them.  They maintain the clones are not sentient, but as soon as they’re awakened, that’s immediately proven untrue.  The Doctor starts to investigate, and also starts to notice that Rose knows a bit more about technology of the year five billion than she should.

So The Doctor has to find out the secrets of the hospital, get Rose back in charge of her own body, shut down a sect of cat-nuns, and stop a horde of disease-ridden clones from overrunning the place.  Not a bad first day out…

The Christmas episode was a bit different from later ones would be – it was the first appearance of the new Doctor, and was more “in continuity” with the rest of the season, as opposed to being a stand-alone adventure. It also features other recurring characters, as opposed to later specials that would only feature The Doctor and all-new characters. Functionally, it’s the first episode of this season.  So this episodes starts shortly after the special, with The Doctor and Rose off on new adventures, already with a much lighter tone.

Both Billie Piper and David Tennant get to camp it up a bit as Rose and The Doctor get inhabited by Cassandra, with the requisite fun and silly accents.  Davies excels at keeping a balance between drama and humor in his stories, and this one’s a good example.

One could argue that this plot is an argument against various forms of experimentation.  I prefer to stand by Dr. Mordin Solus’ philosophy from mass Effect – “Use of sentient beings in scientific tests disgusting. Have personal standard – Never experiment on species with members capable of calculus. Simple rule, never broke it.”

We see a new emotional side to The Doctor here.  Not only is this the first time he’s “Sorry…so sorry” at the site of the clones, it’s also the first time he gives a foe who truly deserves it a merciful end.  One of the things we see him do many times is offer threatening aliens a chance to leave in peace.  Sometimes they refuse, and his judgment is swift and hard, sometimes others pull the trigger (like Harriet Jones did last episode) and he’s just as merciless on them, but sometimes, if they deserve it, he helps them.  Cassandra really did try to help at the end, and once she came to peace with her fate, The Doctor gave her a chance to at least die happy.

The payoff to the promise from the Face of Boe wouldn’t come till next season, tying into the Big Bad for that season.  So even though Moffat is doing it with more deliberation, Davies was also setting up multi-year plotlines, teasing events quite a ways off.  Looking back like this, it’s amazing how many things we ascribe to Moffat were already being done from the beginning.  More fodder for the “who’s a better showrunner” argument, certainly.


TIPPIN’ HANCOCK’S HAT-Reviews of All Things Pulp by Tommy Hancock

By Michael Avallone
Published by Popular Books, First Edition, 1968
It’s not every day you walk into your local pharmacy and someone hands you three books that you’d only heard about, but never actually expected to have.  Now, these particular books wouldn’t be a big deal if you weren’t a detective fan, a follower of mystery/detective TV, and a big TV tie-in novel type person.  In other words…me.
One of those treasured jewels was the first novel based on the 1960s-70s detective show, MANNIX.  No, I don’t mean the numbered series that came out seven years or so after this one but the very first novel commissioned based on the television show.  Written by Michael Avallone, this is Joe Mannix while he was still with Intertect, battling it out with Lew Wickersham and flirting his way through all the technology and the ladies in the office as he delivered a bit more of an old fashioned two fisted approach to the job of modern private investigation.
This novel, on that level, definitely doesn’t disappoint.  It delivers as if it were a 124 page episode of the show.   It opens with Mannix playing tough guy to a damsel who isn’t all she appears to be at first as he wraps one case while the next is being set up.  A young, petulant heiress with kaboodles of bucks and a whole ton of boredom with life is approached by a man lowered from a helicopter about doing espionage work for her country.  As she jumps at the chance, she later discovers that her new friend only has one interest in her country- harming it – and in her -using her to disgrace an American official.  Blackmailed into it, the heiress stumbles along, desperate for a way out.
In the meantime, Intertect is put on the job and Wickersham puts his best agent as well as the one who frustrates him the most on the playgirl’s trail.  Mannix must determine who she’s spying for and deal with her and the situation in a way where everyone wins and Intertect comes out smelling like a rose.   Mannix’s first plan of action is to get into a costume party and get his tail end kicked by a number of costumed millionaires.  And it gets fun from there.
This is, as I’ve already stated, definitely a first season Mannix book.  It fits the tone of the series extremely well and Mannix has all the charm, irascibility, and toughness that fans loved about how Mike Connors played the character and that basically became his stock and trade after Mannix leaves Intertect to go on his own in the second season.    Wherever Mannix is in this book shines and made me smile, ready to add a few seasons of DVDs to my collection.
Now…when Mannix isn’t in the action, then the book loses a bit of its sparkle.  The other characters do not get the attention to character that the author gives to the lead.  Even the heiress, who gets quite a bit of page time, is way too two dimensional by the end of the book to be believed.  The bad guys don’t seem particularly bad and the threat level throughout the book isn’t one that makes you worried for anyone- except for Mannix, but most of the threats to him are caused by something he says or does.

This is a great book for fans of tv detectives and tie-ins. As a book all on its own, though, I’ve read better.

THREE OUT OF FIVE TIPS OF THE HAT-Enjoyable read, love the way Joe Mannix comes off the page.  I just wish that there were real people populating the book around him, not cardboard cutouts.

Michael Davis: Visible Only To The French

Hi, there. I’m not Michael Davis. I’m his editor. Yeah, that’s not a good sign, is it?

Here’s the deal. Michael wrote the first part of his latest life-shattering saga Why Does Michael Davis Still Read Comics? We ran that last week; if you doubt me, click on the link. Then, according to Michael, he wrote the second part, scooped up his wife, and caught an airplane to France. That’s pretty cool, if you happen to like France. Evidently, Michael doesn’t. He doesn’t like flying even more. He likes his wife, and I suspect he likes the work he’s doing out there, and he probably changed his mind — in part — about France after some good old-fashioned American tourism. 

Please note, I did not say “Michael sent me the second part of his series and then caught an airplane to France.”  This is because he didn’t do that. Michael said apologetically he was in such a rush he forgot. This is entirely possible. It’s a human thing. We all do it. Unfortunately, one of the things I do is mock my friends given any opportunity, which is why I will no doubt be found floating face down in that dirty ol’ river next to Patches some day. But, to quote Michael when he rips off Peter David, I digress.

(By the way, did you know that Peter David’s last name is really Davis and he is Michael’s father? There’s a reason that story doesn’t get out much.)

Here’s the thing. The last line of Michael’s column reads “End of part one!” It does not say “continued next week.” Hmmmm… Makes me wonder. 

Anyway, Michael told me he’s having a lousy time, possibly so I wouldn’t get jealous. He says the bacon sucks, and I believe that part. Did you know that in France, French bacon is called liberté de bacon? Go know!

Since Michael is over there and not over here and evidently there’s a law against him contacting his assistant and having her e-mail me the missing column (it’s amazing what technology can do these days), Michael says he will probably go to a French comic book store and write up his experience there for next week. We’ll see. Personally, I’m doing a Kickstarter to raise his bail. 

Love you, pal. Enjoy your trip.

In spite of yourself.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Gets Serious