Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

Eight years ago today Hurricane Katrina rolled through the Gulf Coast. Everyone I know from the Mississippi Coast has a Katrina story.  My family and I fled to Georgia, where we were under a tornado warning most of the time because of the feeder bands.  I knew our house wouldn't flood.  If it did, Katrina would have been the least of our worries and someone should have been building an ark.  We got home to discover that every tree in our yard had fallen, miraculously, around the house, not on it.  After a couple weeks of clean-up things were back to normal, with considerably less shade.

Some of you have more dramatic stories.  Some of you lost things or loved ones.  Take the time to share your stories in the comments section.  I want to hear them.  I'm sure other people do, too.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Least of These

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  (Matthew 25:34-40, English Standard Version)
Those are some challenging words from Jesus.  He is calling us to a life of service and of love.  Sure, most of us try to be nice to everyone (hopefully), but what does it mean to truly serve and to love?  What does it look like for us to really reach out to "the least of these?"  Who exactly is "the least of these?"  Here's the song "Under Bridges" by Brave Saint Saturn, which I think paints an excellent picture of what Jesus meant in the above passage.

 The language in this song may be shocking, but I think it needs to be.  We need to be reminded that the homeless, the junkie, the alcoholic are all created in the image of God.  

I'm writing this to myself probably moreso than to anyone else reading.  Why is it so hard for us to get out of our comfort zones and talk to someone who doesn't look like us or live like us?  Shouldn't the gospel be important enough to share to everyone?  Shouldn't we care about the souls of everyone, regardless of their situation or lot in life?  Who is the "least of these?"  It is the homeless man begging for change outside of the gas station; the junkie jonesing for another shot of heroin; the alcoholic who beats his wife and children; the teenager struggling with his sexuality and worried about becoming an outcast to his own family; the church leader addicted to pornography; the soccer mom addicted to gambling.

We are not called to keep Jesus to ourselves.  Jesus in Matthew 28:19 tells us to make disciples off all nations, not just the people who look like us or dress like us or like the things we like.  Again, I think this is more for me than anyone else.  I need to be more bold with my faith.  I need to see others as Jesus would see them, not as I do.  I need to be reminded everyday that each person has a soul that is either bound for heaven or for hell.  Jesus made it my responsibility to let people know that they don't have to spend eternity in hell, that Jesus loves them and wants to have a relationship with them.  Why don't I do that?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Things I Like About the New 52, part 2

Yesterday I rambled on about Aquaman (and could've said more).  Today we're moving on.  More things I like about the New 52!

Expanding Gotham's history

No one knows a city like Batman knows Gotham.  Or so he thought.  Turns out, there was a secret society known as the Court of Owls who had worked their way into the fabric of the city and the social consciousness almost completely unnoticed.  I don't want to spoil any of the story, but just to show how much they infiltrated things, here's Bruce being thrown out of a window from high above the city.

"Owl" be seeing you, Bruce!

Scott Snyder has definitely asserted himself (in my opinion) as one of the greatest writers to add to the Batman mythos.  Greg Capullo's pencils definitely haven't hurt, either.  Capullo has been around for a while and I believe that he's at his prime drawing Batman.

I actually saw this on a tie the other day.  I would rock that tie.
There were some cool moments in the story, like where Batman is trapped in a labyrinth (sans David Bowie) and you actually have to turn the comic sideways and upside-down to read it as he gets more and more lost.  All in all, an excellent story that adds to the legend and also provides the possibility for a change of the status quo in the life of Bruce Wayne.

The Phantom Stranger

The Phantom Stranger is one of my favorite characters.  He just looks so darn cool (especially when drawn by Jim Aparo back in the day).

I need a cape.

Pre-New 52, the Phantom Stranger was a stranger who would show up when needed to do supernatural things.  No one knew where he came from or just what his powers were.  In fact, in Secret Origins #10 from 1987 there are four possible origins for the Stranger presented, but it is never specified which one is true, which adds to the mystery.  New 52 Stranger has a definite origin.  I don't necessarily like the fact that we know where he came from, but we're focusing on the positives here, not the negatives.

Basically (and trying to remain spoiler free), the Stranger is following the commands of The Voice, which usually involve him betraying someone, which makes sense considering his origin.  Eventually, he will be free from his curse and can move on to the afterlife or nothingness or wherever.  So far, he has played a pretty big role in the New 52 universe (or the DCnU, as it's called these days), leading several people to their dooms which will eventually lead them to becoming important DC characters.  He has had run-ins with some of my favorite characters, including the Spectre and the Question.

I don't really have anything witty to say.  This is just awesome.

 To recap: while I don't really like the fact that we know his origin, the Phantom Stranger is an interesting character who looks way cool.  His book is one of my favorites, especially since J. M. DeMatteis took over writing duties from Dan Didio.

Martian Manhunter

I'm not really gonna say a lot about this.  Just look at him.


Ethan Van Sciver drawing Batman

This is something that I've been wanting to see for a while.  Ethan Van Sciver, who forever left his mark on comics with Green Lantern: Rebirth in 2005, is one of the only artists today, in my opinion, carrying on the Neal Adams tradition of a dark, scary, manly Batman.

The cover to Legends of the Dark Knight #1.  My copy is autographed.  Be jealous.

His Bruce Wayne is excellent.  Manly is really the only word I can think of to describe his look.  I just feel like Bruce shaves with broken glass, uses Old Spice, and probably taught James Bond a thing or two about women.  Also, look at this page layout.  Bruce's girlfriend is a pianist and Ethan flawlessly brings that into the design of the page.

Even without the words, you can tell what's happening on these pages.

Ethan's Mad Hatter looks like a creeper, which fits perfectly with Gregg Hurwitz's story.

I feel like I need to take a shower after looking at him.

Not only is he an excellent artist, but Ethan is one of the best Facebook friends you can have.  He's hilarious, posts his artwork, and is a conservative!

I hope some of the things I have pointed out have made you maybe want to read comics if you never have before, or stop hating on the New 52 if you're a hater.  If not, then I'll just have to give some more reasons later!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Things I Like About the New 52, part 1

I have collected comics off and on for about 20 years now.  I started collecting in junior high, quit some time in late high school, started again in college, then quit again a year or two after college for financial reasons.  Around 2011 I was really wanting to get back into collecting and it just so happened that DC provided the perfect jumping on point.  They were rebooting their entire universe with Flashpoint (Google it if you want more details) and all their titles were starting over at issue 1.  I started out getting Batman, Detective Comics, Justice League, and Aquaman (also the non-DC titles Wolverine and the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic that I'll write about some other time).  I have since added several more titles to my monthly haul, all but two or three of them being DC New 52 books.

A lot of people hate on the New 52.  Those people are crazy.  Here are a few reasons why I love the New 52.


Ah, yes.  Aquaman.  He has been the butt of many jokes throughout the years.  In the New 52's first issue of Aquaman, writer Geoff Johns tackled this very topic right out of the gate.  Since then, I believe that Johns has successfully shown why Aquaman deserves to be among the likes of Batman, Superman, and Martian Manhunter in the Justice League.
For the record, yes, Aquaman is standing, triumphantly, over Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern.
 Not only has Geoff Johns made Aquaman the character a legitimate force to be reckoned with, he has also made Aquaman the comic the most consistently good comic month in and month out.  Story arcs like "The Trench" have introduced tough new villains while "The Others" introduced a new team (oddly enough called the Others) that is just begging to have their own book.
The Others.  Come on DC, please give them a book.  Please?

The art has also been top-notch.  Ivan Reis was the original artist on the rebooted series, and he killed it.  He made Arthur really sleek and...regal, I guess.  Also, his Mera is greatness.  Add in Rod Reis' fantastic, bold coloring and you get the best looking book on the stands.
The family that slays together, stays together.

Following Ivan Reis on the title (after he took over Justice League from Jim Lee) is Paul Pelletier.  He had just finished an arc on Wolverine and I was not too impressed with his art.  I guess drawing the King of Atlantis brought out the best him in though, because his Aquaman is stunning.  He's responsible for one of my favorite covers of the past, I dunno, forever.
Yeah.  That.
Bottom line, if you're not reading Aquaman, you should.  Even if you're not a comic fan.  "The Trench" and "The Others" have both been collected into trade paperback (or hardcover) form.  Go get them.

This ended up being longer than I thought.  Looks like the things I like about the New 52 will be a multiple-part blog post.  Stay tuned for the next one!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gather 'round, children, it's story time!

Hey.  This is my new blog, where I plan on mostly rambling about things that interest me or what's going on in my life.  Sometimes I may post something serious.  So without further delay, let's get to it....

What I'm up to these days

Raising a kid and being married

So Noah, my son, just turned one last month.  Pretty crazy.  Time sure does fly....
Anyway, it's getting to the point where we're going to have to start teaching him things.  Up to this point our job has pretty much been to keep him alive.  So, yeah.  Let the fun begin!

New job!

I'm working at the library in Bay St. Louis.  It's a nice change of pace from teaching.  No lesson plans, no grading papers, no yelling at teenagers all day.  I do miss actually teaching and (hopefully) being a positive role model to my students.  So far, things at the library have been great.  I really enjoy my job, especially looking at stuff on microfilm.  Tons of fun.  Y'all come see me!


  • It's interesting how one's television viewing habits change when a child enters the picture.  Jake and the Never Land Pirates is Noah's favorite show.  I kinda like it, too.  Especially these guys:                                                                         I would buy every album they ever put out.
  • I put this on Facebook the other day, but here it is for those of you with whom I am not friends on Facebook.  This makes me want to punch baby penguins.  Dictionaries include definition of 'literally' that isn't literal
  • I could never punch a baby penguin.  Look how freakin' adorable they are.                                          
  • And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"  And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good?  There is only one who is good.  If you would enter life, keep the commandment."  He said to him, "Which ones?"  And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  The young man said to him, "All these tings I have kept.  What do I still lack?"  Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."  When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  (Matthew 19:16-22 ESV)                                                                     Why is it so hard to do the hard stuff?

Well this is it for now.  Have a great day.  Stay frosty.