Tag Archives: entertainment

Quality versus Quantity online

A few weeks back I brought up Watch Mojo. I recommended checking it out, but I also pointed out that (when I really went to their YouTube channel and looked at all their videos), there’s some problematic lists and elements of the channel in general. Maybe the most problematic thing being Ms. Mojo, but anyway… that’s not my point here.

Here, I want to talk about how there is a big divide between quantity and quality when it comes to Internet entertainment.

Continue reading

Advertisement

Comparative Opinions: Episode 7 – Hollywood Fatigue

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week hosts Holly and David, and guest host Julia, respond to the conversation sparked by our Superhero Fatigue post. For lack of a better term, we’re calling the phenomenon Hollywood Fatigue. Are there any original stories? Are there always going to be remakes? Is the movie industry doomed? Yeah, we kind of tackle questions like that.

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

https://www.facebook.com/ComparativeGeeks/

https://twitter.com/comparativegeek

Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

And per Julia’s request: Epic Rap Battles of History, the directors.

Summer of Sandman: Favorite Places

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

The Thursday 13 is a meme that Part Time Monster does often. I enjoy writing them but don’t have the time to do them every week. When I agreed to blog about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series here back in February, I decided to sit down and write a few of these.

Here are my 13 favorite Sandman locations. You can also check out my 13 favorite characters and my favorite stories.

1. Hell — Described as a warped reflection of The Silver City. Visually, it’s a horrific landscape of twisted flesh with rivers of various bodily fluids. Dream comes into possession of the Key to Hell at an important point in the series, and it has diplomatic repercussions. Death describes Hell as “the most valuable piece of psychic real estate in the universe.”

2. The Necropolis Litharge — The ultimate mortuary. An entire city on another plane devoted to disposing of its clients’ remains in a dignified manner according to their last wishes. The citizens are apprenticed from a young age and those who don’t develop the skills to qualify for citizenship are sent out across the worlds to become great morticians. Citizens sleep on stone slabs, are fed by offerings from clients, and are clothed in garments left behind by the deceased.

Denizens of Litharge performing an air burial. Image via Comixology.com.

3. Faerie — Just Faerie. It isn’t featured in many issues, but I love the artwork and the denizens. It’s connected to various other planes by portal stones which can only be activated with the consent of the King and Queen of Faerie.

4. Fiddler’s Green, aka Gilbert — Described as the heart of the Dreaming. Originally, the place where sailors who die at sea go (though possibly much older). A lush, green place populated by animals where music is forever playing. Incarnates itself as Gilbert and has an adventure in the waking world early in the series.

5. Nowhere — This is actually a place. There’s a panel in Brief Lives in which Dream and Delirium are traveling, and they’re standing together against a white background. Delirium asks where they are. Dream replies “Nowhere.”

6. Destiny’s Garden — The bulk of Destiny’s realm is garden with ever-branching paths which everyone walks. Every decision everyone ever makes represents a branch in the path. The centers of all the labyrinths that ever existed or ever will intersect in the Destiny’s Garden.

7. The Earth of Boss Smiley — Featured in a stand-alone story in World’s End. Boss Smiley is the prince of this Earth, and functions as both God and the Devil. He’s drawn as a man in a suit with a huge smiley-face head. He has a Heaven which people go to after they die and sing his praises.

The Threshold. Image via Comicvine.com.

8. The Threshold, the Fortress of Desire — Desire’s realm is a Fortress surrounded by empty mist. The fortress is a colossal statue of Desire himself/herself with accurate internal anatomy. It’s described as having eardrums the size of ballrooms. The circulatory system is corridors, and you could wander them your whole life without once re-tracing your path. Naturally, Desire lives in the heart.

9. The Library of Dream — An important part of the Dreaming. Contains all the books that were never written. That’s quite enough to warrant a place on this list.

10. The World’s End Inn — An inn that belongs to no world, where travelers take refuge when something so cosmically huge happens that it sends ripples across time and through the various worlds which disrupt the order of things. Having taken refuge, the travelers then tell stories to pay for their drinks.

11. The Land — A dream-skerry. Basically, a self-contained dreamworld represented as an island just off the Nighwtward Coast of the Dreaming. Setting for much of A Game of You. Dream functions as its creator deity.

12. The Soft Places — Places where the Dreaming touches the waking world. The center of the Gobi desert is one such place. Mortals can get lost here and wander for centuries without aging. Dream comes to the Soft Places to think from time to time. He encounters Marco Polo here at a pivotal moment early in the series, and an exiled Chinese civil servant in one of the final issues.

13. The Realm of Despair — A realm of mist, with rats scurrying around under foot, hung with endless mirrors. The Realm of Despair is the space behind every mirror. Despair of the Endless peers into the mirrors and whispers to people in moments where they are trying to decide whether to recover from some catastrophe, to lose all hope, or to take their own lives.

Want to join us for #SummeroOfSandman? Here’s how: Write a blog post about Sandman between now and Aug. 1. Long or short, any format. Share your link with us on a Sandman thread here or on Twitter using the hashtag #SummerOfSandman. It’s that easy.

Summer of Sandman: Favorite Stories

The trouble—and delight—of the Sandman comics is how many stories they hold. I don’t just mean that there are the original 75 comic issues and several spin-offs and additions to the series. I also mean that there are a lot of *stories* in there. There are many characters in the series, many plots running here and there, doubling back or halting at varying times.

That may just be the nature of a series which has, for its main character, an embodiment of Dream. For what are dreams but stories? And Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller who was supported by a lot of masterful artists, producing texts that are dizzying and not unlike the TARDIS—bigger on the inside than the outside.

With that caveat, here are 13 of my favorite Sandman stories. I’ve mostly chosen stand-alone story issues, and when I’ve chosen a large story arc I’ve chosen the volume rather than a single issue, so there’s somethings here that you can read even if you’ve Never Read Sandman (hint: Go read Sandman!). They’re more-or-less grouped by publication to make things easier.

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

1. Issue 8, “The Sound of Her Wings.”
This is very early in the series, and it’s where everything began to fall into place, I think. We’re introduced to Death, here, and she’s somehow more cheerful than Dream. She’s beautiful, and she’s comforting–but she’s also a bit spooky.

2. Issue 18, “A Dream of a Thousand Cats.”
This one is just really quite fun. Murdery fun, in that same way that cats always seem to be a step away from killing you but are too cute to do it. It’s part of the collected volume Dream Country, the third collection in the series–a of stories totally independent of the series’ overall narrative.

3. Issue 19, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
In the same volume is this gem. Shakespeare made a deal with Dream: in exchange for inspiration, Shakespeare would write two plays for him. The first of these is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and in Gaiman’s tale we see Shakespeare put on the play for an audience that includes Titania, Oberon, and Puck—it is a gift from Dream to Titania.

4. Issue 29, “Thermidor.”
This story is another in a volume of single-issues stories, Fables and Reflections, the sixth collection in the Sandman series. In this story, Lady Johanna Constantine saves the head of Orpheus and ends the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution in the process. It’s a dark tale, but a very good one.

5. Issue 31, “Three Septembers and a January.”
This is the mostly true story of a fellow named Joshua Abraham Norton, the only Emperor of the United States. Gaiman based the issue partially on Norton’s life. The story showcases the rivalry between Desire and Dream and, in doing so, underscores the damage that Destruction’s departure caused. It is also collected in Fables and Reflections.

6. Issue 38, “The Hunt.”
This is a sort-of folktale, also collected in Fables and Reflections. An old man tells his granddaughter a story that happened many, many years before. The story concerns a young man who decided to find the beautiful daughter of a Duke after obtaining her portrait and what happens on the way. This is a fascinating one, full of subtle underpinnings in both language and art.

7. Issue 50, “Ramadan.”
This is a tale that made my heart ache, it’s so beautiful. We’re in Baghdad, and the city is a glittering wonderland. The Caliph offers the city to Dream in exchange for its preservation; and like all deals with Dream, like all magic, in fact, there is a cost. “Ramadan” is a fantastic ending for Fables and Reflections.

8. Issue 55, “Cerements.”
This is the final of the tales told by travelers in World’s End, the 8th of the Sandman series. The collection is situated within a frame story–travelers have been driven into The World’s End: A Free House, one of the inns that provides shelter during reality storms. The story is told by Petrefax, who is from Litharge—a city of death that provides multi-cultural burial and death sacraments. His is a tale of tales—he relates three stories he heard during burial rites and rituals, and it works extremely well as a build-up to the final issues of Sandman.

9. Endless Nights, “The Heart of a Star.”
This is from an off-shoot of the original series, a book that Neil Gaiman and various artists collaborated on to write a story about each of the Endless. “The Heart of a Star” is Dream’s story; it is also one of the earliest stories in the Sandman universe. Dream is in love with a star, Killalla, who he brings with him to a meeting in the cosmos. The story takes place sometime just after the universe became habitable, and it allows us to see the beginning of Dream’s rivalry with Desire.

10. The Dream Hunters.
This volume is actually an addition, published three years after the original Sandman run. It is the tale of a Japanese monk and a fox spirit, and it is breath-taking.

11. The Doll’s House (Issues 9-16 collected)
This is the second volume in the series, and it’s where I think the story really begins to find its voice and presence. This collection is held together by Morpheus’s search for the dreams that left during his absence and his efforts to quell the dream vortex that threatens all of Dreaming.

12. A Game of You (Issues 32-37  collected)
Barbie is a divorced woman with a crumbling fantasy world. In the wake of the dream vortex, the Cuckoo is now threatening Barbie’s dream life. The Cuckoo is a monstrous creature, and her antics threaten to spill into reality. And although most people seem to like this one the least, I love it perhaps the most of all the collections.

13. Brief Lives (Issues 41-49 collected)
This is one of my favorites of the collections. It features Delirium on the page more than any other story, and she’s a personal favorite. This is also where we first meet Destruction, the prodigal brother who left the Endless. Delirium enlists Dream to help her search for Destruction, and the quest is both surprising and enlightening.

Summer of Sandman: Favorite Stories

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

Sandman covers by Dave McKean. Collage discovered at The Book Wars

The Thursday 13 is a meme that Part Time Monster does often. I enjoy writing them but don’t have the time to do them every week. When I agreed to blog about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series here back in February, I decided to sit down and write a few of these.

Here are my 13 favorite Sandman stories. I’ve also got a Thursday 13 coming on my favorite places from the series, and you can read my 13 favorite characters here. The numbers are original issue numbers, and they are ranked in order of publication.

1. “The Sound of Her Wings” – (8) Features the first appearance of Death in the series. A single-episode story that occurs as a sort of epilogue to Dream’s imprisonment, escape, and re-establishment of his realm. This is first story where we see the Endless interacting with one another as emotional beings.

Dream and Death, feeding pigeons. Image via Comicvine.com.

2. “Collectors” – (14) Features the first appearance of The Corinthian. It’s an episode of The Doll’s House that occurs at a serial killer convention. It’s fabulous.

3. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – (19) The real story of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Explains why that play and The Tempest are so different from the rest of Shakespeare’s work. Won the World Fantasy Award for short fiction in 1991 and touched off a controversy. There’s a possibly-apocryphal story that the room fell silent when the award was announced. Then Harlan Ellison laughed like a maniac.

4. Season of Mists – (21 to 28) Lucifer empties Hell, abdicates his throne, and gives Dream the key to dispose of as he will. Asgard, envoys from the ancient Japanese and Egyptian pantheons, emissaries from the courts of Faerie, Order, and Chaos, and a host of others show up on Dream’s doorstep. Diplomatic hi-jinks ensue.

Lady Johanna in “Thermidor.” Tell me you don’t want to read these stories. Just tell me. Image via goodreads.com

5. “Thermidor” – (29) Dream sends Lady Johanna Constantine to revolutionary Paris on a secret mission which I can’t explain, because spoilers. She interacts with many historical figures, including Thomas Paine, and accomplishes her mission. She is also instrumental in ending the careers of Robespierre and Saint-Just.

6. “Three Septembers and a January” — (31) Explains how the career of His Majesty Joshua Abraham Norton, the one and only Emporer of the United States, came about.

7. Brief Lives – (41-49) Delirium decides to go looking for her brother Destruction, most-loved of all the Endless, who abdicated his realm sometime in the late 16th or early 17th Century and declared he was no longer a member of the family. After Desire and Despair refuse to help her, she visits Dream. He’s at a moment in his life where he needs a diversion. He accompanies Delirium, and gets more than he bargained for.

8. “A Tale of Two Cities” — (51) A Lovecraftian story from World’s End in which a man wanders out of a real city and into the dream of a city. He eventually finds his way back to the waking world, but is done with cities forever when he returns and ends up retiring to the outskirts of a small hamlet off the coast of Scotland. Because if you can wander into the dream of a city, that means the cities are sleeping. And where will we be if the cities ever wake?

9. “Cluracan’s Tale” — (52) Also a stand-alone story from World’s End, as are the next two. Cluracan is a hard-drinking, omnisexual courtier of the Faerie Queen. She sends him hither-and-yon across the planes as her diplomatic envoy. The Internet will tell you that the word “Cluracan” is associated with “Leprechaun.” This is a simple tale of adventure and prophecy that shows you exactly what happens to corrupt officials who mistreat envoys of the Seelie Court.

10. “The Golden Boy” — (54) Tale set in an alternate United States in which first generation youth voters change the constitution to allow the election of a young president. They elect Prez Rickard, and he becomes a Messiah figure with a tiny bit of help from Dream and Death.

Prez celebrates his election to the Presidency. Isn’t he beautiful in a stereotypical way? Image via comicvine.com

11. “Cerements” — (55) A story set in The Necropolis Litharge which explains how Litharge functions. Also, it’s quite a spooky tale, and Litharge is important to the plot.

12. The Kindly Ones — (57-69) Dream .v The Furies. That’s really all can say about it without going massive on the spoilers. Possibly a subversion of tragedy. If so, Gaiman is making a point about justice. Or maybe about Justice.

13. “Exiles” — (74) The penultimate issue of the original run. Occurs in the Soft Places. It involves an exiled Chinese civil servant, a kitten, Dream, and a centuries-lost Roman cavalry unit.

Want to join us for #SummeroOfSandman? Here’s how: Write a blog post about Sandman between now and Aug. 1. Long or short, any format. Share your link with us on a Sandman thread here or on Twitter using the hashtag #SummerOfSandman. It’s that easy.