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Gerard Way (yes, that Gerard Way) has always loved comic books. He and Gabriel Bá launched the first issue of The Umbrella Academy in the fall of 2007, and I first read the comics a few years later. V had copies of both The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, and let me borrow them. I was instantly hooked.

February 15th saw the release of a live-action adaptation of The Umbrella Academy, and as of last Monday night, I’ve finished my first run-through of season one. Holy god damn, that was amazing.

The story follows an unconventional family. Years ago, several dozen children were born on the same day, with none of their mothers having shown any previous signs that they were pregnant. Wealthy eccentric Sir Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of them, six of whom demonstrated incredible superpowers. Together, the children fought crime as the Umbrella Academy. That was then. Before Ben died. Before #5 went missing. Before Luther departed for the moon.

Now, Sir Reginald has died, and the surviving children have come home to pay their respects, but are interrupted as the long-lost #5 makes an unexpected reappearance. He claims he’s been in the future, and that he’s come back to help the Umbrella Academy stop the apocalypse, which is now only a few days away.

Given that Way and Bá created an intensely bizarre world together, but it’s a beautiful framework for the Netflix adaptation to be built upon, and build it does. As they prepare for the impending end of the world, the Hargreeves siblings bond and bicker, healing some old wounds and inflicting new ones. Luther attempts to lead as he once did, but can’t conceal that he’s not the same person he was before he left for the moon. Diego tries to maintain his activities as a local vigilante, but a previous relationship with Detective Eudora Patch complicates things. Allison, despite her celebrity status, struggles with her recent divorce and separation from her daughter. Klaus battles addiction and ghosts of his past. #5 is adjusting to reverting to his thirteen-year-old body and finding a way to cope with his PTSD. Ben is still dead. And Vanya, the “normal” one of the family, just wants a place to belong.

The casting of the characters couldn’t have been more spot-on. Robert Sheehan (Klaus) and Ellen Page (Vanya) aren’t strangers to superhero universes (Sheehan starred in the early seasons of Misfits and Page played Kitty Pryde in multiple X-Men films). They’re joined by a stellar cast, including Cameron Britton and Mary J. Blige as Hazel and Cha-Cha, a pair of time travelling assassins who are sent to ensure that the apocalypse takes place as scheduled.

The Umbrella Academy‘s soundtrack is killer too, as should be expected of a series with Gerard Way at the head. From a solo dance party scene featuring Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” through #5’s fight scene set to “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” by They Might Be Giants to Way’s own cover of “Hazy Shade of Winter” in the closing credits of the final episode, it’s pitch perfect.

Over the course of 10 episodes, you get more character development than we’ve seen in the comics (so far, but with story arc #3, Hotel Oblivion, we’re starting to see more, and Way has mentioned several more planned story arcs). Considering the relatively sparse nature of the original plot of The Apocalypse Suite, I’m happy to see that the showrunners have blended some elements of Dallas into season one, giving us a far more well-rounded bit of story. I don’t doubt that Netflix will pick this one up for a second season, and I look forward to seeing my favorite dysfunctional super-family again soon.

 

I know that the winters
Seem hard and cold, and
I know that the dark
Seems endless.

Remember that wheat is
Planted before the winter,
And awaits the freeze
That it might sprout in

Spring.

“Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear.”

Eight years ago, I started out on a writing journey. Some of you have been here ever since, and I can’t thank you enough for your support and encouragement.

Reading through some of my old posts from January 2011, though, I’m seeing a lot of projects that I hinted at that have yet to come to fruition. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t kind of depressing. On the flip side of that, though, I see some of my notes, and I remember who some of the characters were, and how they came to be. It’s a bit on the inspirational side.

lot of the old writing is kinda cringe-worthy, though. I’ll leave it in place, because it’s a sign of my growth and development as a person. I hope to continue to change for the better.

Thanks.

I’m very late to Wii U ownership, y’all. I got one for the family for Christmas because the classic Wii that has been our Netflix streaming device since I first started my Netflix account will no longer be supported as of January 31st, 2019. It was as good an excuse as any to buy a system I’d wanted for a while, and so I finally have gotten the opportunity to dive into the expansive world that is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Yes, I know it’s available for the Switch too, but damn it, I was aiming for some level of fiscal responsibility here (and now I only need to reclaim a Nintendo 64 to complete my collection of retired Nintendo consoles). Besides, the Switch version is a port, and it gives me all kinds of happy throwback feelings to playing Twilight Princess on the Gamecube rather than the Wii.

There’s so much to this game. The graphics are gorgeous, and the open world leaves Link free to explore the biggest version of Hyrule that has ever existed. Nintendo took the RPG-lite elements that had been incorporated into Skyward Sword back in 2011 and build it into the most unique entry in the franchise that players will actually talk about. It’s fascinating to go from Skyward Sword‘s depiction of the first hero of Hyrule to the opposite end of the series’ timeline.

It’s not a traditional Zelda game, and I absolutely love it. I’ll spend an hour just coming up with different food combinations. I’ll complete a dozen side quests before taking on the first “real” dungeon of the game (albeit purely to avoid a fight that I couldn’t win with the equipment that I had earned at the time). I wandered into a village that was on my way to another quest, and found a place where I could buy and renovate a house. I’m taking the long way around in a game where you can essentially run off to confront the final boss right away, and I’m having a fucking blast.

I can’t wait to see where Nintendo takes this franchise in the years to come. That is all.

2019 is here, and as is tradition, I’ve got a few goals to share with you.

1.) Reading! Last year, I set a reading goal on goodreads of 200 books. I got through over 230. Now, I do include graphic novels and manga in my challenge count, but I’m fully expecting to be able to exceed 200 books again this year.

I would love to be able to get through:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. I made a major dent in this one while I was on vacation in November, but I need to finish it. Same with Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison. (Hey, Philip, are there any titles from your last year list that you actually got around to?)

God’s Last Breath by Sam Sykes. (What did I just say?)

When They Severed Earth From Sky by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. (Okay, seriously)

The Toll by Neil Shusterman. The Arc of a Scythe series is coming to an end. I can’t wait to see how it wraps up, given the way book two ended.

Dune by Frank Herbert. This one’s a re-read, but I haven’t gone through it since high school.

One Piece by Eiichiro Oda. I want to re-start this one too.

Old Man’s War and Head On by John Scalzi.

There’s a LOOOOOT of good stuff on my to-read shelf, y’all. I’m going to take on as many as I can.

2.) Writing!

Hey, I wrote more posts in 2018 than I did in 2017!

By, like, two.

*sigh*

And considering that 2018 lasted for something approximating a decade, that’s pretty awful.

I’d blame losing some of my favorite writing challenges, but that’s just making excuses. There’s no room for that kind of nonsense. I can seek out writing prompts without being handed one or two every week. But if you find any awesome writing challenges, I’d love for you to send them my way.

3.) Create! I got to play a little more with the Makerspace at my library in 2018 than in 2017, and I’ve got some more designs to work on going forward. I need to finish sewing/stuffing a felt Luci from Disenchantment soon, because he’s been sitting on my living room bookshelf taunting me for the last few weeks. I’ve got a Yu-Gi-Oh! card game table that I’m working on with our laser cutter, too. I did a prototype back in November, and I’ve been tweaking that design quite a bit. And of course, I’m hoping that time will allow for me to get back into some cosplay work. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t planning a Séance costume now that Umbrella Academy is getting a live-action adaptation.

seance

4.) Gaming. I miss playing D&D, y’all. It’s been a hot minute since I had a good campaign going, and I really want to do more with it. There’s talk of teaching the kids, and now a family D&D game is more viable than ever before. Also, V and I have finally gotten our Malifaux crews assembled. I know. It’s been two years since I got the box. I’m getting there. Now I have paints, so I can get that done, and we can play. It’s way more fun to put those damn things together than I expected, too, and now I’m trying to figure out what other characters I can add to my collection to supplement my crew. They’re releasing the 3rd Edition of their rules this year too, but thankfully we’ve both picked masters who are still playable in the updated rule set.

And honestly, there’s probably more goals that I’d like to set for myself, but I’m trying to be realistic here, considering how many years I’ve typed essentially this exact same post.

 

 

While admittedly, most of them were comics, I read a lot of books in 2018.

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells.

Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui. (Yes, the whole 21 volume manga series)

Welcome to Night Vale & It Devours by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang.

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

Dreadnought Sovereign by April Daniels.

I listened to both of the Night Vale novels, because Cecil Baldwin narrates them. How could I not listen to his voice for another 16+ hours? If you’ve not listened to Welcome to Night Vale, well, if you like surreal comedy/horror, you’re in for a treat.

I read a lot of novellas again this year. The Murderbot Diaries continue to be incredible, and I’ve got the 4th one sitting on the top of my reading stack at home. Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint blew me away, and I have to read the sequel asap, because Heloise is a fantastic heroine, defying all manner of expectations. Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children is a series I never knew I needed, and it makes me fall back in love with all the portal fantasies I’d first read as a kid.

Dreadnought was a superhero story that I can’t get out of my head. I loved reading Danny’s story as she came to grips with her super powers and her identity as a transgender girl. Sovereign was a solid sequel that left me wishing for more. It would make a fabulous trilogy, and would be an incredible opportunity for a trans actress should an adaptation be made.

While I beat my goal of reading 200 books in 2018, I fell short of my 2017 mark by almost 50 titles. I intend to step things up again in 2019.

There’s a chill that gets down
Into your bones, and you can
Feel nothing but the cold, the
Ache, and you cease to know
What warm was, and there’s
No escape or reprieve until a
Few months from now when
Winter slowly fades to Spring.

I love that chill.

“Echoes”

We hold on to pieces of the ones
Who have left us, whether to
Elsewhere in this world or to
Something beyond comprehension.

We cling to what little reminders
Have remained, a handwritten
Note, a lingering memory of a
Kiss, or a voice, a mundane recording.

We savor that we have some means
Of remembering, that we can
Recall a bit of how we felt when
That person was still a part of us.

And as the years pass, we may
Notice that the voices aren’t as
Loud, or the images aren’t as
Clear as they used to be.

Until the day that we come across
One of those little fragments,
And all of that love rushes back
Across time, a reverberation.

9/13/18

Another summer has come and now mostly gone, and the children will be starting school soon. I’m enjoying a few days of vacation time in the aftermath of the Renaissance Festival (which, both in terms of supplemental employment and getting to spend time with friends, was a resounding success), and getting around to some stuff that’s been needing attention at the house. Goodbye old, rotting wood swing set that the previous owner built, hello new swing set that we’ll likely pass on to the next house owner.

The girls have discovered Yu-Gi-Oh on Netflix, and it’s been great fun to introduce them to the card game that I’ve been playing since 2004-2005. The core mechanics have remained largely unchanged, but the introduction of a lot of new types of monsters since I had last played (like, college, 2010) has made for a decent learning curve, even for me. I’m looking at using the laser cutter at the library to make myself a nice, wood engraved playing surface. It would be a) a fun project, and b) a really cool thing to show off.

Speaking of the library, I survived the 2018 Summer Adventure! I’m really tempted to get myself the Welcome to Night Vale “I Survived the Summer Reading Program” patch. I ran more programs for the teens during those two months than I ever would’ve imagined when I took on this job a year and a half ago. I’m still loving the whole Teen Services side of things (though it would be nice if I could go a summer without our Teen Services Librarian leaving). I’m actually excited for the school year to start, because it means that I get to go do more outreach events and book talks at local schools. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job, because it’s part acting and part readers’ advisory.

I’m going to do more writing over the next couple of months. V’s holding me to it, so I know that it’ll actually get done. Until then, we’re going to be celebrating the 12th anniversary of the day we met. Take care, and I’ll see you soon.

“Vision”

I saw a new picture today, and I
Thought immediately of you, and
How long it’s been since we were
Able to talk, and how we stopped
Talking far too long before you were
Gone.

It was your face in the photo,
Though it wasn’t a photo of you,
And I was struck, very suddenly,
By just how much alike you two
Were, and how alike we were,
Once.

I saw your smile again in hers,
And heard your laughter for
The first time in years, and now
I can’t stop reliving a friendship
That started over twenty years
Ago.

We drifted apart as years went
By, but we went on adventures
Together all the same, seeing
New parts of the world, living
Our grand journey, despite our
Differences.

And now, I am left with little
More than some old photographs,
And the memories that we made
In the far too short time we had
Before your voyage came to an
End.

6/21/18