Podcasts of (Two) Weeks Ending November 21


I’ve had bloggers block lately and I’m not keeping up with my posts.  So, many apologies for having two weeks of podcasts for today.

What Next :: How Democrats Took Latino Voters for Granted

An autopsy on one of the main reasons why Democrats failed to gain seats in Congress.

99% Invisible :: You’ve Got Enron Mail!

How an archive of emails released to the public during the Enron scandal have become a resource for researchers and developers.

The Rewatchables :: Toy Story

The groundbreaking computer-animated film classic was released 25 years ago today!

The Story Collider ::  Stories of COVID-19 

A series of personal stories of the most significant scientific event in recent history

Futility Closet :: Friedrich Kellner’s Opposition

A German opponent to the Nazi regime performed resistance through documentation.

The Tomorrow Society :: Seth Porges, Writer and Co-Director of Class Action Park

The story of the most dangerous amusement park, that thrived in New Jersey in the 1980s, get the film treatment.

Best of the Left :: The Conservative Fever Swamp is Reaching Critical Mass

Trump is leaving office but the Republican party is permanently the party of racisms and conspiracy theories.


RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

Book Review: High Tide by Tom Bruno


Author: Tom Bruno
Title: High Tide
Previously Read by the Same Author: Bambino
Publication Info: Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2012
Summary/Review:

In this novella, adventurer and writer for an outdoors magazine is sent on assignment to his childhood hometown in Cape May, NJ. His story: young surfers are deliberately chumming the water in order to surf alongside sharks. At this point, things get weirder, with the feel of a good Twilight Zone episode. This is a fun, quick read that’s a mix of mystery, horror, and “you never can go home again.”

Rating: ***1/2

Podcasts of the Week Ending July 7


Fresh Air :: The Pediatrician Who Exposed the Flint Water Crisis

Interview with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha who exposed the Flint water crisis.  She also discusses growing up as a child of Iraqi refugees.

99% Invisible :: Right to Roam

I’ve always been amazed by how Britain protects the rights of walker/hikers to cross land that’s privately owned.  Whereas in the US, one is liable to be shot for doing so.

Ben Franklin’s World :: Brian Regal, The Secret History of the New Jersey Devil

If you’ve ever heard the legend of the New Jersey Devil, you imagine it as a cryptozooligical creature inhabiting the Pine Barrens.   Turns out that the story originates instead with a 17th-century colonist named Daniel Leeds who published an almanac that ran afoul of the Quaker authorities!

Disney History Institute :: Winsor McCay and the Origins of American Animation

Early animation originated as part of a vaudeville act featuring a trained dinosaur.

99% Invisible :: Beyond Biohazard

A video podcasts explores the effort to let future generations know that something is dangerous without using language or symbols that won’t be understood.

Hit Parade :: The Deadbeat Club Edition

The first part of the story of how two very different New Wave acts emerged from Athens, GA in the 1980s.

Comic Book Reviews: Ms. Marvel (2014-2016)


I’ve heard good things about the Ms. Marvel comics and so I read the first four volumes of the collected comics.  Kamala Khan is a wonderful character who cares deeply and has a lot of humor and creativity, as well as being just plain adorable.  I also like the water color style of the comic art.

Author: G. Willow Wilson (Author), Adrian Alphona (Artist)
TitleMs. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal
Publication Info: Marvel (2014)
Summary/Review:
Rating: ***1/2

Kamala Khan is a teenager from Jersey City who writes fan fiction about her favorite superheroes (who in this universe really exist, not just in comic books), struggles with the strict upbringing of her immigrant Pakistani parents, and engaging with the wider American world as a Muslim girl.  On a night when Kamala sneaks out to go to a party, a mysterious fog envelopes the city and Kamala finds herself with the powers to morph her body and gain significant strength.  She adopts the persona of her hero Captain America – aka Carol Danvers – and begins protecting Jersey City from weird attacks and invaders.  This collection of the first five issues is not overly weighed down by origin story tropes as it depicts Kamala clumsily learning to use her powers while maintaining her ordinary life.


Author: G. Willow Wilson (Author), Jacob Wyatt (Illustrator), Adrian Alphona (Illustrator)
TitleMs. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why
Publication Info: Marvel (2015)
Summary/Review: ****

The second collection features Ms. Marvel coming face to face with her first archival, The Collector, a hybrid of a bird and a clone of Thomas Edison (a delightfully-weird villain).  Wolverine becomes Ms. Marvel’s mentor for a time and Kamala has to balance fangirling over one of her heroes with the reality that she is in better physical shape to handle their adventure.  She’s later paired up with Lockjaw, a large bulldog with teleportation powers.  The story of the Inventor kidnapping teenagers to use them for their energy cleverly plays on the stereotyping and disposability of Generation Y in our capitalist system.


 

Author: G. Willow Wilson (Author), Takeshi Miyazawa (Illustrator), Elmo Bondoc (Illustrator)
TitleMs. Marvel Vol. 3: Crushed
Publication Info: Marvel (2015)
Summary/Review:

This collection includes another crossover story with a comical story about Loki ending up at Kamala’s school dance.  There’s also a crossover with S.H.I.E.L.D. as she teams up to save the school from alien infested cafeteria food.  The bigger story is that Kamala falls in love with a boy named Kamran, son of her parents friends, who not only shares a Muslim heritage and geeky interests with Kamala, but also has Inhuman powers.  It seems too good to be true, right?

Rating: ****


Author: G. Willow Wilson (Author), Adrian Alphona (Illustrator)
Title: Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Last Days
Publication Info: Marvel (2015)
Summary/Review:

This is part of a larger Marvel story arc called “Last Days of the Universe” in which the big story is happening in Manhattan.  Kamala has to set up protection for Jersey City on her own while also trying to rescue her brother.  Then her biggest hero Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers arrives and they are able to spend some time working together.  It’s a bittersweet crossover as Danvers has little time to spare and Kamala has to recognize that there may be no tomorrow and reconcile with her family and friends.  My favorite part is when the people in the shelter Kamala sets up in her school decide that they will deal with the end of the universe in a purely New Jersey manner, with a dance party.

There’s also an issue of Spider-Man in which Ms. Marvel makes an appearance, which has nothing to do with the rest of this book, but it makes sense since Kamala Khan and Peter Parker have a lot in common.

Rating: ****

Favorite Passages:

“The young are seen as a political burden, a public nuisance. They are not considered worth educating or protecting.  They are called parasites, leeches, brats, spawn–

If you used the to describe any minority but children, it would quite understandably be considered hate speech.

We are simply taking this loathing to its logical conclusion.” – The Inventor

“Friendship is not a zone, you idiot! Friendship is something real and good and anybody who doesn’t understand that needs a dictionary.” – Bruno

“It’s always the same.

There’s always that one group of people who think that they have special permission to terrorize anybody who disagrees with them.

And then everyone who looks like them suffers.’


Author: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona, Nico Leon
Color Artist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Cliff Chiang & David Lopez
Title: Ms. Marvel Vol. 5: Super Famous
Publication Info: New York, NY : Marvel Worldwide, Inc., a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, LLC, 2016
Summary/Review:

Living the dream of saving the world with the Avengers takes it’s toll on Kamala Khan as she fails to keep up with her school work and her friendship with Bruno.  Meanwhile, the most evil supervillain comes to Jersey City bringing gentrification, and using Ms. Marvel’s image to promote redevelopment. Ms. Marvel must save her city and find a way to balance her priorities.

Rating: ****


Author: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, Mirka Andolfo
Color Artist: Ian Herring with Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Cameron Stewart
Title: Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II
Publication Info: New York, NY : Marvel Worldwide, Inc., a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, LLC, 2016
Summary/Review:

In the midst of a conflict between Captain Marvel and Iron Man, Kamala Khan begins to realize that she must assert herself and stand apart from both of her mentors.  The main plot focuses on Captain Marvel tasking Ms. Marvel with training fellow young Inhumans with predictive powers to fight crime before it happens, something with obvious ethical conflicts. This collection also reveals Kamala’s family’s past going back to the Partition of India and Pakistan, and ends with Kamala visiting family in Pakistan, and meeting a local superhero.

Rating: ****

Book Review: My American Revolution: Crossing the Delaware and I-78 by Robert Sullivan


Author: Robert Sullivan
Title: My American Revolution: Crossing the Delaware and I-78
Narrator: Mike Chamberlain
Publication Info: Dreamscape Media (2012)
Other Books by Same Author:  The Meadowlands and The Thoreau You Don’t Know

Summary/Review:

Robert Sullivan and I share a surname and a lot of common interests.  In this case, local history and travelogue.  The American Revolution famously began in New England and ended in Virginia, but the majority of the war took place in New York and New Jersey where the battles are greatly overlooked.  Even the coldest winter on record when the Continental Army encamped at Morristown, NJ doesn’t get the press of the somewhat milder winter at Valley Forge, PA.

Sullivan visits sites in New York and New Jersey, attempting to experience the long marches of a Continental foot soldier, while also exploring the popular memory through books, poems, museums, and reenactments.   I really like the premise of the book and some of the historical details of the Revolution and how the landscape continues to inform the New York/New Jersey area.  On the other hand, the book is meandering and not very cohesive, and well … a bit boring at times.  For example, a long portion of the end of the book Sullivan describes in detail many visits to the Watchung Mountains in New Jersey to attempt signaling his family in Brooklyn using a mirror.  It’s just not lively reading.  All the same, I like the way Sullivan thinks and will seek out his other books.

Recommended books:  Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell, Snowshoeing Through Sewers by Michael Aaron Rockland and Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
Rating: **1/2

War of the Worlds video


Catching up on a request from a friend to share a promo video for the 70th anniversary of the War of the Worlds broadcast which will be held at the David Sarnoff Library in Princeton, NJ. This video is worth watching simply for the kickass theramin theme music.  Sure the visuals are dull, but the event should be fun, so if you’re in New Jersey on October 25th, check it out.

Previously: Radiolab podcast about War of the Worlds

Movie Review: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)


In 2019 I found some old Word documents with movie reviews I wrote back before I had a blog. I’m posting each review backdated to the day I wrote it.

Title: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Release Date: July 30, 2004
Director: Danny Leiner
Production Company: Senator International | Kingsgate Films | Endgame Entertainment
Summary/Review:

Funny, stoner road trip movie follows a pair of post-college Asian-Americans as they journey around New Jersey in search of a White Castle.  Definitely not a Great Movie, but a collection of crude humor and wicked satire that makes me laugh a lot.  Bonus point for literally featuring my place of birth as a location.

Rating: ***