July 6, 2014

June Reads, Chromebook, Sweetness

 

We all have crap months.  June was mine.  Despite it, I managed to get a fair amount of reading done.  The foray into graphic novels continues, the above being the latest conquests.

Ellis's Planetary is best described as that maybe-too-quirky relationship you probably let go a little too long, don't regret, but are glad is over.  The first six issues are a mash of X-files, Lost, and LSD; nearing issue twelve, there is a sense of an over-arching plot.  Around issue eighteen is when I really began to either let go and enjoy, something clicked, or things got better.  And this is not to knock Planetary.  The remaining nine issues fly to a satisfying finale.  Retrospectively, a really good read and I'm glad it is done.

The Watchmen movie deterred any interest I had in reading these graphic novels, yet in many "top # comics" lists it repeatedly appears.  It's a good book.  It is a really good book.  Understanding its context in the comic world (of which I know a sliver about), it is also an important book.  The palpable confidence and depth underscoring the entire series lacks in the theater version.  If this tome by Alan Moore has been nagging at your curiosity lobe, but the movie turned you off, give it a chance.  You won't be disappointed.

My affection for Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan (and for his work in general) comes from an affinity for fun science fiction.  Brain-candy at its best.  The sixty issues of this series keep a great pace, intense focus, and a few surprises.  Vaughan's continuing Saga series left me wanting more and this collection was a great way to satiate that desire.

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A year has almost passed since I picked up Samsung's Chromebook and I am as happy with it today as I was a year ago.  Dropping into the Beta and Dev channels early gave me some frustrations, however the 'powerwash' feature is not to underestimated, especially if you've ever spent the hours reinstalling Windows (or the days rebuilding an Archlinux distro).

Buying today, I may veer away from the ARM-based books for superficial reasons mostly (Google's music service still has not updated their upload tool to run on the Samsung Chromebook - though it reportedly works on the Intel-variants).  Again, for some, it may not work as a primary laptop; I still have a Windows machine I pull out on occasion for running servers, games, etc. however, as the technology improves these little laptops will become invaluable to those comfortable in the cloud.

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Sweetness
by Stephen Dunn

      Just when it has seemed I couldn't bear   
   one more friend   
waking with a tumor, one more maniac  

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness   
   has come   
and changed nothing in the world   

 except the way I stumbled through it,   
   for a while lost   
in the ignorance of loving   

 someone or something, the world shrunk   
   to mouth-size,   
hand-size, and never seeming small.   

 I acknowledge there is no sweetness   
   that doesn't leave a stain,   
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ....   

 Tonight a friend called to say his lover   
   was killed in a car   
he was driving. His voice was low   

 and guttural, he repeated what he needed   
   to repeat, and I repeated   
the one or two words we have for such grief   

 until we were speaking only in tones.   
   Often a sweetness comes   
as if on loan, stays just long enough   

 to make sense of what it means to be alive,   
   then returns to its dark   
source. As for me, I don’t care   

 where it’s been, or what bitter road   
   it’s traveled   
to come so far, to taste so good.