Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Taxing the Internet

I just found out today while skimming some articles, that the U.S. Senate has agreed to go forward on the "Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013". This is a bill that, if passed, would force retailers to collect local and state sales tax on all purchases made over the Internet. Don't buy into the notion that this has anything to do with fairness, because it doesn't. Those small "mom & pop" stores who can't compete against the likes of Amazon or Wal-Mart have long since ceased to exist. No, this is all about money and big corporations like Amazon and Wal-Mart trying to further squeeze the smaller businesses this Internet taxation is supposed to help. Local businesses that are still around have thrived in part because of the Internet. State governments are chawing at the bit for this because they don't know how to cut spending and balance their budgets and anything they can do to get more money in their pockets, they will. If you read the articles about this, they'll talk about a theoritical $23 billion that states are losing because of the loss of sales tax because of the Internet. Notice the key word there: "theoretical." If people end up having to pay more to buy products off the Internet, they aren't going to shop there as much. People, unlike our federal and many of our state governments, have to cut spending when the price of goods goes up. There isn't going to be any major boon to state governments because of this. Don't buy into the lies, the truth is out there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The New MAN OF STEEL Trailer and a Few Thoughts About Superman

Superman has always been my favorite Superhero. I was never much into comics growing up, but when I did read comics, I drifted more towards DC instead of Marvel. When I was younger, DC was a much cleaner universe than it is now. Good guys occasionally did bad things and bad guys occasionally did good things, but you always knew who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. To me, Superman represented everything that was supposed to be good about the world at large. My friends hated that. The ones that were really into comics hated the DC world and were all about Marvel (Wolverine, The Punisher, etc.). The few who did like DC prefered Batman over Superman. Despite the ridicule I received ("Superman just isn't cool, Tom!"), he was my favorite.

Movie-wise, other than the first Star Wars film that I caught in a re-release, SUPERMAN with Christopher Reeves was one of the first movies I remember seeing in a movie theatre. The effects look a little dated now, but I still enjoy watching that original Superman movie.

Since that time, I've learned a lot about the world. There's other characters in the DC world that I really like (Hal Jordan's Green Lantern, for instance) and I can appreciate certain aspects of the Marvel world. However, Superman is still my guy. In terms of pop culture, the Marvel universe is cooler than the DC one and in the DC world, Batman is still more popular than Superman. But go back and watch that trailer again. I know it's marketing and it's just a three minute clip, but just watching that trailer fills me with hope. That's kind of what Superman is all about. He represents the best in humanity that we all hope and long for. Now, I just hope the movie is really as good as the trailers.

Rocky Horror Muppet Show

"Bizarro" Sunday, April 14, 2013

Monday, April 08, 2013

R.I.P. Annette Funicello

I'm thankful that my parents introduced us to the wonderful work of Annette Funicello. She was the first teen pop sensation. Rest in peace, Annette.

"SMS (Shine)" - by David Crowder

Send me a sign
A hint, a whisper
Throw me a line
'Cause I am listening
Come break the quiet
Breathe your awakening
Bring me to life
'Cause I am fading

(surround me)
The rush of angels' wings

Shine your light so I can see you
Pull me up I need to be near you
Hold me I need to feel love
Can you overcome this heart that's overcome

You sent a sign
A hint, a whisper
Human divine
Heaven is listening
Death laid love quiet
Yet in the night a stirring

(all around )
The rush of angels

Shine your light so I can see you
Pull me up I need to be near you
Hold me I need to feel love
Can you overcome this heart that's overcome

Oh the wonder of
The greatest love
Come for us
Oh the wonder of
The greatest love
Has come

Shine your light so all can see it
Lift it up cause the whole world needs it
Love's come down what joy to hear it
He has overcome
He has overcome

Friday, April 05, 2013

"Mother Goose & Grimm" Thursday, April 4, 2013 by Mike Peters

So sad, but so true.

Quasimodo and the Salvation Army

Just think what Quasimodo could do for the Salvation Army?
"The Argyle Sweater" Thursday, April 4, 2013 by Scott Hillburn

Thursday, April 04, 2013


This new graphic novel series from publisher Papercutz turns back the clock and modernizes Nancy Drew and her friends by setting them in a modern setting as elementary school students. In this story, Nancy and the Clue Crew (her friends Bess Marvin & George Fayne) want to build a grand science project for the science fair. However, before their project can even be finished, all of the other projects at the school disappear and it’s left to Nancy and the Clue Crew to figure out who did it.  The illustrations are drawn in a style similar to comics such as “Archie.” Graphic novels like this are usually aimed at younger boys. NANCY DREW AND THE CLUE CREW #1: SMALL VOLCANOES is aimed at young girls. The story isn’t as interesting as the original Nancy Drew books, but it might inspire really young female readers to seek out the original series.

Book Review, Graphic Novel: THE BOOK OF REVELATION

I have read the Book of Revelation more times than any other book in the Bible; I’ve read it over thirty times. Even though it is a book I am quite familiar, much of the text remains as enigmatic as the first time I read it; prophecy can be rather ambiguous. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to read this graphic novel adaptation of the Book of Revelation, I couldn’t pass it up.

This book, THE BOOK OF REVELATION is an adaptation by Matt Dorff of an original translation by the Greek Orthodox priests Father Mark Arey & Philemon Sevastiades. The illustrations are done by Chris Koelle. The text is taken directly from the translation done by Fathers Arey & Sevastiades. Unlike some Bibles, this is an actual translation of the original work and not a modern translation (e.g. The Message). Each chapter and verse of Revelation can be found in this book. In fact, the chapters in THE BOOK OF REVELATION are divided according to the actual chapters in the Bible. The verses aren’t numbered like the chapters, but they are there. As the illustrator, Chris Koelle, points out in his note at the end of the book, he made his images based upon the perspective of the Apostle John. The images that are seen are representations of what John might have seen as he was transposing the original text. There can be disagreement over the interpretation of certain passages of text, but the translator, adapter, and illustrator have remained faithful to the text.

Like much of the Bible, there is a great deal in THE BOOK OF REVELATION that is violent and explicit. Koelle doesn’t shy away from this in his illustrations. However, he does refrain from making them over-the-top or campy. Destruction is wrought, blood flows, and people die, but it’s shown as the Bible says. Younger children might be frightened by some of the images and rightly so. However, I don’t think that’s enough to prevent a young reader from reading this book. Caution should be used, but it should be according to the maturity of each child.

Revelation is one of the books from the Bible that have inspired artists for several centuries and some of the images and phrases from the book are a part of the common lexicon (e.g. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Armageddon, etc.). Even if you are not a Christian, one cannot deny that the book has had an impact and influence upon our culture. THE BOOK OF REVELATION provides a visual reference outside one’s mind’s eye that can illuminate Revelation for both believer and nonbeliever, child and adult alike.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Book Review, Graphic Novel: ERNEST & REBECCA #3: GRANDPA BUG

ERNEST & REBECCA #3: GRANDPA BUG is the third volume in the series of graphic novels aimed at children about a six-year-old girl named Rebecca and her best friend, a germ named Ernest. In this volume, Rebecca and her sister, Coralie, are sent to their grandparent’s house. Their mother believes the country air will do Rebecca’s health good. Rebecca’s grandpa is called Grandpa Bug (the origins of the name are revealed in the story) and he spends a great amount of time doing things with Rebecca. However, while at her grandparent’s house, Ernest disappears and Rebecca is saddened at his disappearance and attempts to find him. Along the way, Rebecca meets a trio of friends led by a kid named Chris. Also, Coralie attempts to figure out if her boyfriend, Freddy, is interested in her anymore.

Although there were parts of the story that I found trite, overall I enjoyed ERNEST & REBECCA #3: GRANDPA BUG. Other than Rebecca’s bright pink hair and Coralie’s vivid purple hair, the illustrations remind me of cartoons from the mid-1980s that I used to watch as a youngster on television (such as THE LITTLES). It’s a style that you don’t see very much in animation anymore, let alone in illustrated works. If all the books in the series are like this, they could easily be turned into an animated series. The book has a strong appeal for young girls, but also for any child whose parents are in the midst of a divorce.