Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Manga" Flavia ~ The Girl Who Dreamed of Sailor Neptune & Alan Bradley

We got another one!  Finally, after spending the summer away from the drawing board, I picked up my pen and paper and got to work.  The idea was just sketch something out.  Sometime simple.  Something clean.  Just anything to get the drawing juices flowing.  Gathering my supplies, I decided to include some extra equipment.  That would be my camera and my lamp.  And this is where I ended up...



Monday, September 21, 2015

2000 -2001 Sailor Moon Collectible Card Game (Video)

Oh How I LOVED His Mask

I’m not going to speak much about Japanese writer Yukio Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask.  A modest description: the fraught inner confessions of a closeted man coming up in Japan between the 20s and 50s.  But the book is also a meditative (sometimes to the point of brooding) and introspective encounter.  One you’ll have to witness for yourself–if you will.  I say that because the book seems driven more or less by plot, and it wasn't until its conclusion that I took it as less. 
So to me, Confessions of a Mask wasn't a diarist scratching pen to paper underneath a burning candle.  Though it's easy to see the book that way, as it chronicles the events of Mishima’s protagonist from childhood to adulthood.  However, a stimulating and introspective piece of fiction is what I left the book with–carried by a genuinely captivating protagonist.  So, thankfully, Mishima's lead owned a keen grasp of his surrounds and inner conflicts.  Enough to keep me engaged with his musings, and either frowning or grinning at his choices. 
Within Mishima's protagonist, the book addresses familiar social, psychological, and physical arenas visited by gay men.  And the protagonist delivers pieces of the verbose identifiable with others who've found themselves locked in his view and scenarios. 
However, an acknowledgeable distinction comes from the region, culture, and time the book takes place.  To elaborate a little, Mishima’s protagonist finds a multitude of reasons to acquaint an attractiveness for death with being gay.  Though the contemplation of death is not foreign for gay men to preoccupy themselves with; culturally speaking, many Japanese have a reverence for the subject of death (research Shinigami or Buddhism from the Edo Period forward).  This, in turn, shined a lot more brightly in Mishima's Confessions of a Mask.  Though that absolutely doesn't qualify as a detriment of any sort.  I only found it part of the flavor and uniqueness of this particular experience.  It also slipped in a sense of suspense regarding the protagonist's fate.
Wonderful book.  Easily five stars for me.  I will definitely follow up on more Mishima novels.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

1st Fall Haul ~ And The Ones I Want

Books!  Books!  Books!  Let's all buy books!
I want to share my first Fall reading haul.  I still got a couple of Spring and Summer books I want to get to, but you know how it goes.  See a book.  Buy a book.  Save a book.  And when the mood strikes, notice your options and finally read the book. 
Naturally, I had to get the latest J. D. Robb futuristic crime-fiction thriller, Devoted in Death.  That’s a no-brainer.  Book number 41 has homicide lieutenant, Eve Dallas, battling a couple who cross-country drive ala Bonnie and Clyde-fashion.  Oh, did I mention they're spree killers?  The minute I close this post–and shut down watching This Is Life with Lisa Ling–I’m running back to this thriller.
Speaking of J. D. Robb, I got Nora Roberts’s Key of Knowledge.  This is book two in Roberts’s Key Trilogy.  Here’s what Goodreads has to say about it:
What happens when the very gods depend on mortals for help? That's what three very different young women find out when they are invited to Warrior's Peak. 
To librarian Dana Steele, books and the knowledge they hold are the key to contentment. But now that search for knowledge must include the second key needed to release three souls held captive by an evil god. In each generation three are chosen who have the power to release them - if they dare accept a challenge that could promise them great riches but also grave danger... 
As I mentioned in my post about the first book in the trilogy, I’ve decided to keep reading this series.  The same applies for Alan Bradley’s third book in his Flavia de Luce mystery series.  The second book was a touch disappointing, but I’m dedicated to watching eleven-year-old Flavia’s snooping unfold.  In book three, The Red Herring Without Mustard, we see Flavia…
Flavia had asked the old Gypsy woman to tell her fortune, but never expected to stumble across the poor soul, bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer had abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? Had it something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites? While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon another corpse--that of a notorious layabout who had been caught prowling about the de Luce's drawing room.
Finally, so moved by The Swimming Pool Library, I grabbed a copy of Alan Hollinghurst’s latest offering, The Stranger’s Child.
Anybody else take pictures of books to remind themselves to buy them later?  You know, while browsing the bookstore?  Well, I’ve been doing some of that as well, and had to take a few shots of the books I want to get in the future.  Sometimes, you just don’t want to pay full price for a book and have to do some bargain shopping online.
As an advent fan of the Ghost Adventures TV show, I’ve kept the two hosts' (well, one is a former host) paranormal/biography releases on my list.  I absolutely love Ghost Adventures.  I have to watch the show every Friday and Saturday.  And have been dating back to its October 2008 premiere.  There’s a comforting quality to stapling this show inside my weekends.  And I would love to post more on why I love the show; flaws and all.  Nonetheless, the point is that I want to read these damn books by paranormal investigators Nick Groff and Zak Bagans.
And the last book I really want to get my hands on is this one…
That’s all, folks!  Let’s read!  And what have you hauled in to open up the Fall season?

Stand Your Ground

Okay, let’s talk a little about Victoria Christopher Murray’s Stand Your Ground: A Novel.  First, I want to say this is a first for me with Murray.  I walked in unfamiliar with her writing, but with intense curiosity for the message of her book.  Yet, I have to say, I walked away with my expectations marginally unmet.  But I’ll get to that a little later. 

Now what is Stand Your Ground about?  Truth: we can take this piece of controversially-driven fiction and apply it to our present-day reality.  The book serves as the author’s voice/response to a rising American dilemma.  A dilemma entailing the killings of unarmed black boys and men.  
We've heard and found ourselves touched by their stories over these past few years.  And “years” is an understatement to the actual dilemma's history.  The murdering of unarmed black boys/men (girls/women as well) has been a recurring American issue before slaves even landed in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619.  I mean, let's be for real.  What's happening in our community today is a direct reflection of our ancestor's yesteryears.  But I’ll digress in this moment by pinpointing some present examples haunting our news feeds.  One would be the loss of Trayvon Martin [Sandford, Flordia] back in 2012.  Another, Eric Garner [New York City, New York] in 2014.  Michael Brown [Ferguson, Missouri] 2014.  And one of the latest atrocities, Sandra Bland [Waller County, Texas] 2015.
You’ve all heard these names before.  You’ve all heard them recently.  And as much as I want to delve into each of their stories, I know it’ll lead this post to a topic for another conversation.  A topic I would have to be careful not to get into my feelings about.  

As it concerns Stand Your Ground, Murray opens her novel through the focal point of a woman name Janice Johnson.  Janice is about to face her worst nightmare: her teenage son is dead.  According to the police who arrived at her doorstep late one night, it was a shooting.  One in which a white man took her son's life.  The argument is whether the man was standing his ground against Janice’s son, or was it an act of murder?  The D.A. gets involved alongside the police to build a case against the shooter.  Meanwhile, Janice’s husband and brother-in-law organize a roaring protest for justice.
That’s not all…

Sunday, September 13, 2015


ABC's About Me Tag Questions (Thanks to the creator of the tag.)

A- Age
B- Biggest Fear 
C- Current Time
D- Drink you last had
E- Easiest Person To Talk to
F- Favorite Song
G- Grossest Memory
H- Hometown 
I- In love with
J- Jealous
K- Killed Someone?
L- Longest Relationship 
M- Middle Name
N- Number of Siblings 
O- One Wish
P- Person who you last called
Q- Question you're always asked 
R- Reason to smile 
S- Song you last sang 
T- Time you woke up 
U- Underwear Color
V- Vacation Destination
W- Worst Habit: 
X- X-rays you've had
Y- Your favorite food
Z- Zodiac Sign 

Lighting Nora Roberts

"Malory Price’s life plan has hit a snag. She’s in danger of losing her job managing an art gallery in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania. A welcome distraction comes in the form of an invitation to a cocktail party at Warrior’s Peak, an infamous estate overlooking the town. But no one else she knows has been invited…

There are only two other guests: Dana Steele, a librarian, and Zoe McCourt, a single mother. On the surface, it seems the women have nothing in common, until their mysterious hosts tell them a story—and offer them a challenge.

Legend has it that the souls of three demigoddesses—one an artist, one a bard, and one a warrior—have been locked in a box that has three keys. Now it’s up to Malory and the others to find the keys. Their reward: a million dollars each.

It all seems too bizarre to be true. But none of them can ignore the financial windfall they stand to gain. And now Malory—with her soul of an artist and eye for beauty—must find her key first. She soon discovers that whatever locked the souls away is dark, powerful, and greedy…and it doesn’t want the women to win."
~ Key of Light from Goodreads

Drawn by the blue cover, deckle edges, and French flaps; I had to grab this Nora Roberts read.  Oh, and the sudden impulse for a little romance did its job calling me.  Nonetheless, the premise seemed exciting as well.  Though I’d hoped the subject of mythical keys and demigoddess wasn’t so literally in its context.  That’s right, this is a supernaturally decorated romance novel.  And first in Roberts’s Key Trilogy
But like I said, I was hoping the supernatural aspect would curve toward something believably delivered.  Something tangible and constructed with the author’s sleight of hand using character and plot.  Otherwise, the supernatural element created these ambiguous setups and circumstances.  Many consisted of characters falling into lucid, foggy visions and stepping into mind portals.  That sort of thing–if you will.  Even so, the book didn’t necessarily slip in its romantic-driven direction.  That was sharp with or without the supernatural.  But however sharp and clear it appeared, it wasn't as inspiring as I’d hope.  Because frankly, I found the romantic partners weak as a unit but stronger as individuals.  Why?  The balance...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The GAY Men in Alan's Swimming Pool

Ah.  Let me throw you a bone here, considering I found myself off the mark after reading the dust jacket of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Swimming Pool Library.  I really want to re-premise the synopsis with my not-quite-damn-near instantaneous look at the opening stages of the book.  Though this “look” gives nothing nowhere near as complex and multi-layered as the actual material.  So don’t let my speed-running summary of the book throw you off.  But hear me now as I suggest you pick the book up whenever possible.
Anyway, a gay twenty-something British aristocrat is ready to pull a routine cruise mission inside a public lavatory.  This lavatory is popular (and populated) with men filled with a thirsty compulsion for spontaneous sexual fulfillment.  And so our young aristocrat comes in on the fold with a practiced stroll.  You see, this type of environment isn’t unique to him.  However, it's a little dispiriting seeing the array of middle-aged white men available and present.  The aristocrat longs for a different, more youthful flavor.  Lucky for him he spots an Arabian boy, and proceeds to have him to himself.
Until an eighty-something elderly Lord stumbles into the lavatory with the same mission: quick sex where possible.  Unfortunate for the Lord, his expedition results in a heart attack or stroke of sorts.  Troubled by his duty to seek sex with the Arab, the aristocratic runs to assist the elderly Lord.  And he does so successfully before the two part ways.  
Later, the two encounter one other at a local swimming hole/fitness center familiar with gay men.  A friendship forms, leading the Lord to ask the young aristocrat to scribe his biography.  The Lord fears for his remaining years, and is desperate to tell his story.  He pushes and pushes for the aristocrat to take on the assignment, until the aristocrat gives in and accepts the task.  Yet, there are deeper unforeseen intentions behind the Lord’s request.  Decades of quiet, vengeful purpose hides underneath.  Suddenly caught in a trap, the aristocrat soon arrives at two choices: honor the Lord’s request to completion or choose the respect of his family instead?

Ah.  Putting the premise into my own words helps.  But I can agree to the dust jacket’s statement of the book taking readers to “dimly lit underground bars, swimming baths, and cinemas.”  That, and so much more, it did under Hollinghurst’s beauty way with prose, character, and illustrative settings.  Fearing the book would smother me in stereotypical and dusty stories frequented in gay/LGBT literature, I arrived to its conclusion surprised it did so with me savoring each motion in its journey.  And while I could sit here and delve deeper into that "savoring", I'm choosing to focus on the men who populate the book.  As that's where most of my attention and captivity found itself.  So these are my thoughts on their roles and what moved me about them.  Otherwise, I could be here all day posting about this hyper immersing read.

WARNING: There may be spoilers, so read at your own risk!

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