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Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 3: Until the Stars Turn Cold
Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 3: Until the Stars Turn Cold
von J. Michael Straczynski
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Aunt May helps both Peter and Spider-Man with their problems, 1. Dezember 2005
"Until the Stars Turn Cold" is the third trade paperback collection of issues of Volume 2 of "The Amazing Spider-Man," currently under the creative auspices of writer J. Michael Stracynski and artist John Romita, Jr. (inks by Scott Hanna). At this point in the developing narrative Stracynski has already dropped his two major bombshells that establish the new and improved Spider-Man in the previous two collections: in "Coming Home" Peter Parker discovers that his powers were not the result of a random radioactive spider bite but that he is, in fact, the avatar of the Earth's spider population, and in "Revelations" Aunt May confronts Peter about knowing he is Spider-Man.
Basically, in "Until The Stars Turn Cold," which collects issues #40-45, two things happen. First, the dust is settling from the aforementioned revelations (Aunt May gives JJJ a piece of her mind regarding her new perspective on his Spider-man vendetta), and Peter is finally getting around to doing something about his estrangement from Mary Jane. However, this is complicated by the second set of things which happen within these pages, namely a set of three-issue battles. The first is with a new villain called the Shade, and requires the help of Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts. The second is with Doctor Octopus; actually, this would be Doctor Octopi, since there is the original Otto Octavius and a new, younger, leaner, meaner, version. Of course, both conflicts thwart Peter's endeavor to reconnect with his wife (so what else is new?).
Although there are some echoes from Volume 1 in terms of the time there were two, count them, two Vultures, what Stracynski and Romita are really doing with this second story arc is their own homage to what I consider the greatest Spider-Man story of all time, in "Amazing Spider-Man" #31-33 (yes, even over the first two issues down by Romita's father when the Green Goblin learned Spidey's secret identity, the three drug issues with the Comic Code seal of approval, the death of Gwen Stacy, the wedding to Mary Jane, the death of Aunt May the first time around, or anything else you want to name as a possible alternative). If you have access to that story, which also involved Doc Ock, then check it out before or after you read these stories so that you can appreciate the resonance of the old within the new.
As a homage "Until the Stars Grow Cold" is not bad; we do not have Aunt May on death's door this time around, but we do have here constantly being cute as the dickens when it comes to dealing with her knowledge about Peter being you-know-who. Actually, the part of Stracynski's writing that I find myself enjoying the most is his wry sense of humor (which becomes pretty blatant in terms of the movie Mary Jane is making out there in Tinsletown). We will have to wait and see how this avatar of the spiders thing turns out, but Aunt May knowing (and Aunt May knowing that Mary Jane knows that she knows) is turning out pretty well. It would have to, because it changes a major element in the dynamic of the comic book.


The Holy Bible: King James Version (KJV) Popular Gift & Award Black Leatherette Edition (Bible Akjv)
The Holy Bible: King James Version (KJV) Popular Gift & Award Black Leatherette Edition (Bible Akjv)
von HarperCollins Publishers
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,70

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5.0 von 5 Sternen When they talk of the Bible as literature, they mean the KJV, 29. November 2005
The King James Version of the Bible (a.k.a. the Authorized Version) is an English translation of the Bible published in 1611. Commissioned by King James I of England, 54 scholars were approved by the king of whom 47 labored in six groups at three locations for seven years making use of both texts in the original languages and previous English translations. The result was a translation that had a marked influence on English style and literature because of its flowing language and prose rhythm, and was generally accepted as the standard English Bible for more than three centuries.
When I was teaching A.P. English I strongly recommended to my students that the two supplemental texts they should have for class should be a copy of the King James Version of the Bible with a good concordance, and Edith Hamilton's "Mythology." Of course in the age of searchable on-line texts such suggestions are of less value, but the religious and mythical allusions that appear in the works of Dante, Shakespeare, Milton and many other writers (not to mention politicians such as Lincoln), cannot readily understood unless you recognize them. Just in the first 11 chapters of Genesis we have two creation stories, the fall, the story of Cain and Abel, the flood, and the tower of Babel. All of these are major touchstone is contemporary literature. What is the biggest money making movie of all-time but a retelling of the story of the tower of Babel turned into the arrogance of the construction of a ship that supposedly not even God could sink? As for our willingness to accept different versions of the same tale, I can argue that comes primarily from our reading of the four Gospels since billions more have done that then read the three extant Greek tragedies on the slaying of Clytemnestra by Orestes (which everyone should also still be reading as literature).
However, over the years I increasingly faced objections from students who felt that using the Bible as a reference book, or studying it as literature, was a waste of time since the Bible was not "true" (as near as I can tell the distinction between "true" and "True" is not germane to their position). Of course, they failed to appreciate the irony that they were making this argument in a course devoted to studying the various forms of fiction. But the book of Job is a didactic poem set in a prose framing device, which to me indicates it is a lesson rather than a true story and suggests it can be considered an extant fictional narrative (if not outright drama) contemporary to the time of the great tragic poets in Athens. One that gets in the door as "legitimate" literature, the rest of the books of the Bible deserve the same consideration.
To the extent that the Bible contains a coherent system of symbols, presents a tightly unified set of controlling themes, and explores the fundamental questions of human existence it functions as literature, without sacrificing its theological import. Ancient history has long been treated as literature of a kind, songs have always been considered poetic, and epistolary writing counts too. It should be kept in mind that while the Bible can be considered as literature as well as sacred writing there is also value in using the critical techniques of literature to read the Bible as scripture as well. The Bible is also important to the study of comparative religion, history, archeology, cultural anthropology, and other studies of the human condition.
Most importantly, when it comes down to reading the Bible as literature there can really be no other choice than the King James Version. The eminence of this translation has been codified by such diverse entries as "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations," which use the KJV as the source for all Bible quotations, and the character Linus in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," use recites the story of the nativity from the KJV version of the 2nd chapter of Luke. At least to those of us who are Baby Boomers, this is the way the Bible should sound.


Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)
Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)
von Ann Brashares
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4.0 von 5 Sternen The Sisterhood starts to grow up and also to grow apart, 26. November 2005
I think the reason that Ann Brashares planned on writing only four books about the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is because there the group's roster consists of four girls. Each girl writes the introduction and the conclusion to a book in first person, but each novel is told by Brashares in third person. Tibby has the honors for "Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood," which I expected because I had a strong hunch that Bee would have the honors for the fourth and presumably final novel. I had a working hypothesis that the girl who writes the introduction undergoes the most major of the crises that afflict the sisterhood in that particular novel, but that might be forcing the issue in this one.
The third summer of the Sisterhood is the last one before college, although only Lena has any academic concerns. Lena was planning on going to art school but when her father discovers that his daughter's art lessons involve sketching nude males he pulls her college funding. This certainly gives the lovely Lena something else to think about besides Kostos. After the death of Bapi, Lena's grandmother Valia has come to live with the family in America and Carmen ends up watching the cranky old lady for her summer job. In taking Valia to the hospital Carmen meets Win (short for Winthrop). She likes Win and he appears to like her, but that is only because he keeps meeting the Good Carmen and does not know what she is really like.
The lives of the girls who stay in town this final summer before college continue to chain out in interesting ways. Carmen, who had to deal with her mother falling in love again in the previous book now has to deal with the shocking news that Christina is pregnant. But when the baby arrives early it is Tibby who is pressed into service as the birth coach. Otherwise Tibby has been dealing with having the clouds lifted from her eyes and noticing that Brian has become a lot more than the geeky guy who plays video games. Meanwhile, off at soccer camp in Pennsylvania where she is working as a coach, Bee discovers that one of the other coaches is Eric, the boy she seduced in the first novel. Obviously, things will be interesting for all four of the girls.
By this third novel I am well aware that the Traveling Pants do not really play a major role in what happens, and this time I would be hard pressed to say they play even a minor role. What is happening instead is that as the girls grow up they are clearly growing apart. In terms of both their contact and their correspondence there is far less in this volume than in the previous ones. Part of this has to do with the fact that they are all home for this summer, or only a state away, but also because each girl has their own overriding concern. For three of the girls that turns out to be a boy and I like that in two of the cases it is a familiar face (I am a big proponent of falling in love with friends rather than strangers). Maybe because Lena's attempt to achieve a breakthrough as an artist is a decidedly different storyline it stands out for me, although it could also be because I have always wanted to be a real artist too.
What I liked most about Brashares' first two novels in the series was the way the Sisterhood supported each other as friends. I especially liked the way that they show up when they need to and say what needs to be said, even when one of them wants to be left alone or does not want to hear what has to be said. So when Tibby, Carmen, Lena and Bee go it alone so much in "Girls in Pants" it was rather diappointing to me. I understand that they are growing up, but it is the growing apart (or what I perceive to be their growing apart) that bothers me. Then again, I am not now nor have I ever been a teenage girl, so it is entirely possibly that this is a totally appropriate and important progression. I could also be at a disadvantage because I have read all three books in about a month and there is something to be said for reading one each year and allowing yourself to grow up a bit more in the interim each year. So I should be in the right frame of mind to read the fourth (and hopefully not final book) when it comes out.


Macbeth (Oxford School Shakespeare)
Macbeth (Oxford School Shakespeare)
von Roma Gill
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Shakespeare on the danger of messing with prophecy, 23. November 2005
William Shakespeare's tragedy "Macbeth" was performed at the Globe Theater in 1605-06. The "Scottish" play was a calculated to be pleasing to James I, who took the throne of England after the death of Elizabeth Tudor in 1603. It was not simply that the play was set in the homeland of the Stuarts, but also that when Banquo's royal descendants are envisioned the last of them is the new King. (Note: Shakespeare does a similar sort of tribute to Queen Elizabeth when in the final act of "Henry VIII" the the Archbishop prophesizes great things for the infant Elizabeth. However, not only is there doubt that Shakespeare was the sole author of that particular history, it was not produced until 1612-13, ten years after Elizabeth's death.)
The play chronicles Macbeth's seizing the Scottish throne and his subsequent downfall, both aspects the result of blind ambition. However, one of the interesting aspects of "Macbeth" for me has always been its take on prophecy, which is decidedly different from the classical tradition. In the Greek myths there is no escaping your fate; in fact, one of the points of the story of Oedipus as told by Sophocles is that trying to resist your fate only makes things worse (the original prophecy was that Oedipus would slay his father; it was only after Jocasta sought to have her son killed to save her husband that the prophecy given Oedipus was that he would slay his father and marry his mother). In the Norse tradition prophecy is simply fate and manhood demands you simply resign yourself to what must happen.
But in "Macbeth" there is a different notion of prophecy that is compatible with what is found in the Bible: specifically, the idea that human beings simply cannot understand God's predictions. This is the case both with those who failed to understand the prophecies that foretold the birth of the Christ but also the book of Revelations, where the fate of the world is detailed in complex and essentially uncomprehensible symbolism. When Macbeth is presented with the first set of prophecies by the three witches, he is understandably dubious: he will become thane of Cawdor and then King, while Banquo will beget kings. However, when the first prophecy comes true, Macbeth begins to believe that the rest of the prophecy may come true. His fatal error, at least in the Greek tradition, is that he does not allow fate to bring him the crown, he takes active steps by slaying King Duncan. He compounds this error by projecting his ambitions onto Banquo; although Macbeth has Banquo killed, his son escapes to keep the prophecy intact.
Now the witches's prophecies are deceptively clear: no man born of woman may harm him and he is secure until trees start walking. Macbeth, who now believes in the inevitability of prophecy, fails to understand the fatal concept of loopholes. Thus, the nature of prophecy becomes an integral part of the play's dynamic.


Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1: Coming Home
Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1: Coming Home
von Scott Hanna
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen J. Michael Straczynski starts writing the Amazing Spider-Man, 22. November 2005
Here is the deal: J. Michael Straczynski took over as the writer of Volume 2 of "The Amazing Spider-Man" with issue #30 and has been effectively "re-inventing" the character (but in a decidedly different way than what you find being done by Brian Michael Bendis in "The Ultimate Spider-Man," which is more a "re-imaginging"). "Coming Home" reprints issues #30-35 of the title, in which Straczynski come up with a striking new interpretation of the Spider-Man mythos. Clearly, then, the point of this trade paperback volume is to help new readers get on board and if not totally up to speed, at least within shouting distance. Taken together with the follow-up volume, "Revelations," these two books can do the trick.
"Coming Home" suggests that there is great significance to the fact that Spider-Man has been fighting villains like Doctor Octopus, the Vulture, the Lizard, the Scorpion, the Rhino, ad infinitum, all these years. Peter Parker meets Ezekiel, one of those mysterious stranger types who brings havoc to a superheroes life, who suggest that Spider-Man's powers might not be quite as unique as he thought. In other words, the idea that a bite from a radioactive spider would give someone the powers of a spider is a bit far fetched and there is another explanation. To drive the point home Spider-Man has to tackle Morlun, a being who feeds on the power of humans with totemistic powers and apparently the only way to survive the encounter is to hide his powers from his new opponent.
Unlike what Alan Moore did with Swamp Thing, the twist on Spider-Man's origin that Straczynski has come up with does not threaten to unravel the entire Spider-Man mythos. At that same time that Peter is being told that Spider-Man may well be the avatar of the Earth's spider population, he also takes a job as a high school science teacher. Meanwhile, there are still those marital problems with Mary Jane and at the end of this book Aunt May finds Peter him bruised, beaten, and bandaged, in a deep sleep, his tattered Spider-Man costume at his feet. This sets the stage for the next trade paper back collection, "Revelations," as Straczynski and artist John Romita, Jr. continue to turn the world of Peter Parker and Spider-Man upside down and inside out.


Six Days or Forever?: Tennessee V. John Thomas Scopes (Galaxy Book; 416)
Six Days or Forever?: Tennessee V. John Thomas Scopes (Galaxy Book; 416)
von Ray Ginger
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen The first critical account of the Scopes "Monkey" Trial, 18. November 2005
In the conclusion to "Six Days or Forever?" Ray Ginger identifies two purposes for writing his account of the Scopes trial. First, getting "the facts straight," in order to correct "many mistakes in previous accounts of the episode," believing his book "comes much closer than do those accounts to telling what actually occurred." Second, Ginger "tried to view the Scopes trial in the broadest possible context." The book was published in 1958, when interest in the Monkey Trial was revitalized by the success on Broadway of the play "Inherit the Wind.".
Ginger's primary reference sources were the published stenographic transcript and Leslie H. Allen's edited version, along with the scrapbook files on the case of the A.C.L.U. and Kirtley F. Mather. Ginger made use of the available biographies of several participants as well as full-length studies of Fundamentalism and antievolution, histories of Tennessee, official records of the Scopes appeal, and books on various scientific and religious topics. Ginger also acknowledged several participants who shared their memories in interviews or through correspondence. Finally, in the interest of factual accuracy, Scopes himself read portions of the manuscript.
Ginger prefaces the trial with a quotation from Andre Gide on how Christian orthodoxy either absorbs or rejects any other truth, which clearly indicates Ginger's perspective on what happened in Dayton, Tennessee in the summer of 1925. The passage of the Butler Act and the other developments leading to the trial are detailed in "Law as Symbolic Action." William Jennings Bryan is considered in "Hot Rod Halidon" while Clarence Darrow is presented as "As Uncurried Mind." The trial is covered in five chapters each with an insightful title, with the chapter of Darrow's cross-examination of Bryan called "The Stillborn Miracle."
Ginger's most significant rhetorical aspect is his criticism of both Bryan and Darrow. Calling Bryan's undelivered speech "no mere lallation," Ginger wonders what Bryan hoped to accomplish in Dayton with "a supposed summation to a jury, begun long before he had heard the evidence or investigated the law, and disposing of those topics hastily." Ginger labels Darrow "Almost an anarchist," who "was certain of nothing," a position leading to a paradoxical mix of "skepticism and curiosity." Reminding readers that Darrow had repeatedly dismissed colleges as being worse than useless because "they destroyed compassion without imparting wisdom," Ginger actually forges a common ground between the extreme positions of the literalist Bryan and the agnostic Darrow. Although Darrow was more realistic and more democratic than his critics, Ginger faults the attorney for having ignored the majority. However, in the end Ginger must credit Darrow with providing ridicule as a major weapon against the fundamentalists.
At the end of "Six Days or Forever?" Ginger tries to maintain a balance between Bryan and Darrow and ends up advocating reading the Bible with a scientific and human mind. But even if Ginger perceived Darrow to be the lesser of two evils, Bryan still receives a substantial scouring through the book. Ginger strips Bryan's argument down to the syllogism: "Law, civilization itself depends on ethics. Ethics is derived from religion. Therefore government cannot be indifferent to religion." Ginger accepts the major premise, but argues that ethics was rarely regarded as a high law to be applied to government. I think Ginger's major accomplishment in "Six Days or Forever?" is his presentation of a more rational and less emotional foundation for assaulting Bryan and the antievolution position. Indeed, reviewers at the time praised Ginger for his unwillingness to dismiss the buffoonery of Bryan and the Tennessee yokels in the manner of H. L. Mencken, and most commented on the fact that he found Darrow's open-eyed skepticism to be as myopic as Bryan's blind fanaticism.
Ultimately, Ginger argues the Butler Act rested on the belief that truth could be determined by taking a vote, a belief rooted in a century of American democratic tradition. But while Ginger sees both Bryan and Darrow as propagating the Jacksonian bias that "one man's opinion is as good as another's on any topic," he also argues the overwhelming pressure of society is against this idea, pointing out that most persons hold opinions that point to conflicting decisions on most questions. In the end Ginger advocates a reconciliation of science and religion. However, his prediction that eventually evolution would be found to have nothing to do with religion, the fate of previous scientific truths challenged by orthodox dogma, has certainly not come to pass. While L. Sprague de Camp's "The Great Monkey Trial" provides the most detailed story of the Scopes Trial, Ginger is the first writer to really offer up an objective consideration of the trial in terms of its legal, social, and rhetorical ramifications.


Reading Angel: The TV Spin-Off with a Soul
Reading Angel: The TV Spin-Off with a Soul
von Stacey Abbott
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 18,08

5.0 von 5 Sternen Beginning the critical investigation of "Angel", 18. November 2005
"Reading Angel: The TV Spin-off With a Soul" is a collection of essays by academics from mostly the U.K. edited by Stacey Abbott, a Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at Roehampton University. Abbott does the introductory essay, "Kicking Ass and Singing 'Mandy': A Vampire in LA," that covers a lot of ground in touching on the moral ambiguity of Angel/Angelus, the elements of contradiction and self-parody, and the generic hybridity and Angel's visual style. That certainly gives you a sense of the scope of topic covered in these essays. More importantly, if you are not an academic, you should still be able to look at those topics and figure out what most of them are going to be about. After all, you do not need advanced degrees to recognize things like moral ambiguity and self-parody on "Angel," although generic hybridity might take some thought. On balance, fans of the late lamented WB series will find insights of interest in most of these chapters, although be forewarned there are some points where these academics dive into the deep end and start throwing names and theories around fast and furious.
Part One, "It Was a Seminal Show Cancelled by the Idiot Networks": Narrative and Style on "Angel": (1) "'Angel': Redefinition and Justification through Faith" by Phil Colvin looks at the character of Faith as being paradigmatic of the show and the character's mission statement; (2) "'Ubi Caritas'?: Music as Narrative Agent in 'Angel'" by Matthew Mills is a cursory look at the pivotal role music played in the show; (3) "Transitions and Time: The Cinematic Language of 'Angel'" by Tammy A. Kinsey looks at the visual transitions, prophetic visions and other cinematic experimentations, proving that there were was logic and significance to all those high speed montages; and (4) "A Sense of the Ending: Schrodinger's 'Angel'" by Roz Kaveney looks at senses of ending provided by the final season and episode, taking into consideration the possibility of a sixth season or future television movies.
Part Two: "The Big Wacky Variety Show We Call Los Angeles": The City of "Angel": (5) "Los Angelus: The City of Angel" by Benjamin Jacob details how elements of the real L.A. are combined with those from film noir, ; (6) "Outing Lorne: Performance for the Performers" by Stan Beeler examines the character as the microcosm to the macrocosm of the L.A. entertainment industry as well as high camp, and (7) "'LA's got it all': Hybridity and Otherness in "Angel"'s Postmodern City" by Sara Upstone considers the city as representing the Other, which makes it ideal for the a vampire with a soul.
Part Three: "Hell Incorporated": Wolfram & Hart's Big Bad: (8) "Gender Politics in 'Angel': Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Corporate Climates" by Janine R. Harrison contrasts how Lilah Morgan and Kate Lockley function in traditional corporate climates while Cordelia Chase and Fred Burkle become actualized in non-traditional corporate climates; (9) "The Rule of Prophecy: Source of Law in the City of 'Angel'" by Sharon Sutherland and Sarah Swan considers the show as riffing on the law genre and then links it to the rule of prophecy, which is not an obvious way to go but certainly interesting.
Part Four: "Trapped in What I Can Only Describe as a Turgid Supernatural Soap Opera": Issues of Genre and Masculinity in "Angel": (10) "The Dark Avenger: Angel and the Cinematic Superhero" by Janet K. Halfyard compares Angel to Superman and Batman, as well as recent cinematic vampires; (11) "'And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine': Wesley/Lilah and the Complicated(?) Role of the Female Agent on 'Angel': by Jennifer Stoy focus on the couple as the unlikely source of redemption and renewal in season four; (12) "From Rogue in the 'Hood to Suave in a Suit: Black Masculinity and the Transformation of Charles Gunn" by Michaela D. E. Meyer argues that Gunn's transformation questions the idea of black masculinity; (13) "'Nobody Scream...or Touch My Arms': The Comic Stylings of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce" by Stacey Abbott makes an interesting comparison between Angel and Wesley with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, developing both the importance of Wesley's comic relief in the early seasons and his ultimate transformation into something more; and (14) "'Angel''s Monstrous Monsters and Vampires with Souls: Investigating the Abject in 'Television Horror'" by Matt Hills and Rebecca Williams looks at how the show achieved horror despite violating generic categories.
Part Five: "Let's Go to Work": The Afterlife of the Spin-off with a Soul: (15) "Afterword: The Depth of 'Angel" and the Birth of 'Angel' Studies" by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery looks at how academics are starting to write about the show more now that it is over, although not nearly as much as they do about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and (16) "'We'll Follow "Angel" to Hell...or Another Network": The Fan Response to the End of 'Angel'" is a brief look at the effort to save the show.
The back of the book has a list of "Angel" episodes, and a list of articles and convention papers for Further Reading, some of which will be accessible only to academics who attended the "Slayage" Conference on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but others of which are available online and several of which are already in various "BtVS" criticism books sitting up on my shelf. The idea is that this collection constitutes a start to further critical explorations of the vampire with a soul and the Fang Gang (sorry, that just does not have the same cache as the Scoobies on "BtVS") and I already have ideas for a couple of essays.


Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon
Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon
von Michael Adams
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Slayer slang is simply academic after this book, 17. November 2005
If the question is posed as to whether "Slayer Slang: A `Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Lexicon" by Michael Adams will introduce more fans of the late lamented cult television series to the study of philology or send more philologists to check out the series on DVD and/or in syndication, then I would have to cast my vote for the first option. Hopefully, fans will recognize that their enjoyment of slang on "BtVS" has always entailed an appreciation of the presentation and analysis of the peculiar use of language on the various episodes and related paperback novels, all of which are now rendered as "texts" in this academic endeavor by Adams.
The first half of the volume presents what are essentially a series of essays. "Slayer Slang" looks at both the series as a phenomenon and the role that both slayer jargon (words peculiar to the occupation of being a slayer) and slayer slang (the pointed way in which Buffy and the Scoobies speak, with all their attendant pop culture references) in establishing the show's successful slayer style. If you can follow how slayer jargon can turn into slayer slang, then you are holding your own on the academic side of the equation. But the success here is in the details, and when Adams explains how Faith's idiosyncratic slang differs from Xander and the others most readers should be able to appreciate the analysis. "Making Slayer Slang" covers the attraction of prefixes and the happy endings provided by using suffixes, with Adams become absolutely wistful as he covers the impressive number of words contributed to the lexicon by using "-age" as a hyperactive suffix. I have to admit, I probably learned more about the parts of language from Adams's analysis of shifty slang, what with nouns becoming adjectives and such, than I learned in school (I picked up the rules of grammar by osmosis, i.e., what is known in some circles as reading). But when he covers the mixed etymologies in slayer slang and deals with the mind boggling problem presented by "Edge Girl" in terms of being the product of so many current sense of "girl," he is clearly reaching the limits of endurance for most readers.
"Studying the Micro-histories of Words" starts off looking at what has been going on in popular culture in the real world to create such things as actuation, before going off into a wonderful look at all the baggage in American English carried by the name "Buffy." Once again Adams launches into some philological pyrotechnics on lexical gaps, loose idioms, and folk etymologies before quickly ending this chapter as well. The final essay, "Ephemeral Language," is where Adams will leave most "BtVS" fans in the dust as he looks at the significance of slayer slang in larger terms, namely what it tells us about the current state of the English language.
The second half of the volume consists of a glossary, albeit one edited down from the massive collection of words and derived forms of words Adams originally compiled by October 2002. Still, hundreds of words from "activeness" (noun, Propensity to do [illicit] things) to "X-man" (n, Xander) are covered, included detailed looks at "Buffy," "dust," "much, "slaying," "vamp," and "wiggins," not to mention myriad variations of each You may well wonder why Adams did not wait a few more months until "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" had finished production, but since he is also including the various novels and short stories that have been published about "BtVS" even that accommodation would not have provided a true sense of completeness since there is always another Nancy Holder or Mel Odom novel around the bend. Besides, Adams points out that if you happen to find your favorite item of slayer slang missing you can contact him to get the complete academic profile.
I cannot imagine too many "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans sitting down and reading "Slayer Slang" cover to cover. Instead I see them working their way through one of the essays, or a particular section, and flipping through the glossary to read about "smoochies," "Exorcist twist," or "five-by-five." My best advice would be to read through an essay and when you find a part that you think is particularly interesting to go look at the extended examples in the glossary. I would not think it would be easy for most readers to do the reverse and work from a word in the glossary to the relevant philology point in an earlier essay. The bottom line is that fans of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will find some serious intellectual weight to throw behind their love for the show after reading "Slayer Slang."


The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)
von Ann Brashares
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,49

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Sisterhood has a summer filled with the unexpected, 17. November 2005
Since my introduction to "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" was through the movie made of the first book in this series by Ann Brashares, I was initially surprised that the titular pants did not play as important a role in the novels as they did in the film. But I quickly understood and accepted the fact that the Sisterhood was more important than the traveling pants. So even though the pants come into play in a couple of surprising ways (they do not fit one of the members of the sisterhood and they end up looking really good on someone who should not be wearing them), the focus is once again on Tibby, Lena, Bridget and Carmen.
It is Lena's turn to write the introduction and as was the case the previous summer when Carmen had the honors, this portends that during "The Second Summer of the Sisterhood" that it is Lena whose life is most traumatized (at least I am willing to argue that is the case). The previous summer Tibby was the only one to stay home, so this time it is Lena and Carmen who have no place to go (at least at the start of the summer). I was not surprised that once again Bee hit the road, because of all of the girls she is the one who most needs to rediscover herself, while Tibby gets her chance to see what life is life away from friends and family for a few months.
Bridget impulsively decides to go to Alabama and visit her maternal grandmother while Tibby is doing a summer film program at a college in Virginia. This summer Carmen is upset by the love life of her other parent as her mother starts doing some serious dating. As for Lena, she has decided to break off her long-distance romance with Kostos and now has to deal with being hurt and angry that he apparently has a new girlfriend back in Greece. Now, since I am the parent of a teenage girl and not myself instead of having an intense sense of identification with any or all of the Sisterhood, what I like about these novels is that the girls are all flawed, but that their friends always call them on their imperfections. Carmen is quick to anger, Lena is reluctant to talk about her feelings, Tibby has a tendency to ignore things (and people) right under her nose, and Bee is a dangerous combination of reckless and fearless. I do not know if younger readers pick up on these human flaws from the start, but Brashares does make them clear by the end of each book.
If the problems Brashares gives her characters are common traits for teenagers, then hopefully her readers will endorse her idealized way of dealing with the inevitable problems that result from anger, silence, ignorance, and recklessness. These girls talk to each other about the things that friends should be talking about. When one of them wants to run and hide, then the others, either individually or collectively, seek and find her so that they can talk about the things that need to be talked about. Sometimes they even talk to their mothers (or other adults), which is obviously even harder, but which can also have good results. Granted, in this regard the Sisterhood is probably most unrealistic given the awesome destructive tendencies of teenage girls with regards to how they treat each other, but for those interested in something more proactive than what they say in "Mean Girls," these books by Brashares are a good place to go.
The back of the book contains a series of Questions for Discussion. These are all multiple part questions, so you do not only have to decide which girl you would most like to be (Tibby), but which one would make the best friend for you (Tibby), and which mother you would most like to have (Christina, I think, but ask me again later on). This is followed by a conversation with Brashares and three pages of Readers Circle Books suggestions for what to read between Sisterhood novels. There is also a preview of Brashares' third book, "Girls in Pants," although that is hardly needed as a marketing ploy since I have to believe everyone who gets beyond the first book is going to read all four and bemoan the fact that the author plans to leave the Sisterhood to their own lives at that point.


Marvel 1602
Marvel 1602
von Neil Gaiman
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Neil Gaiman puts Marvel's superheroes 500 years in the past, 16. November 2005
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Marvel 1602 (Taschenbuch)
Admittedly expectations were going to be high when Neil Gaiman was signed to do a Marvel Comic. Gaiman's decision to create a unique vision of the Marvel universe set four hundred years in the past during the last days of the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, which certainly whetted my appetite to read this trade paperback collection of the mini-series. When you see Scott McKowen's scratchboard covers that ups the ante even more, and while there is certainly nothing wrong with Andy Kubert's art it is hard to look at those covers and not imagine the entire series done that way, even if it would take McKowen the rest of this decade to get it done.
So "Marvel 1602" begins in the throne room of Elizabeth, by the Grace of God Queen of England, where Sir Nicholas Fury, the head of her intelligence organization and Stephen Strange, the court physician, are meeting with her Majesty on a stormy night. Something powerful being kept in the city of Jerusalem, a weapon perhaps, has been offered to Strange and he has arranged for it to be transported to England. Something is in the air and while the trio talk lightly about how it might be the end of the world it just might. Meanwhile, in the High Tower of the Palace of the Inquisition in Spain, a familiar mutant awaits execution and on a ship bound for England from colony of Roanoke with the young Virginia Dare and her large bodyguard Rojhaz. These are just the first of the many pieces that Gaiman puts into play.
My initial thought while reading "Marvel 1602" was that he was overplaying his hand with his conceit of putting most of the original roster of Marvel superheroes into the time of Elizabethan England because he was working in a couple of dozen characters (including a couple of extremely familiar first line villains). I was thinking that he was simply juggling too many characters and that the best stories I have read putting familiar Marvel and DC superheroes in another place and another time have been fairly specific (e.g., Batman appearing in the London of Jack the Ripper). You might put an entire super group like the Fantastic Four into such a story, but in "Marvel 1602" Gaiman works in just about everybody and it would be easier to try and count on one hand the number of original Marvel characters who do not appear in these pages.
But then we learn that Gaiman is going for something more than an alternative history version of the Marvel Universe. There are forces at work that explain why Matthew Murdoch, Carlos Javier, and Peter Parquagh are running around in Merry Olde England and parts of the Continent. This is important because how much you like "Marvel 1602" probably depends on how much you think of the prime cause. Ultimately I think it is an okay idea, especially since it forces Gaiman to skirt the origin issues (so to speak) for most of these characters, and what there is often smacks of necessary convenience. However, if there is one thing we know about Neil Gaiman it is that the best way to appreciate his work is usually to look at it from a mythological perspective.
That perspective is important because ultimately what matters about the time period that Gaiman has picked is not the existence of the Inquisition and the strong parallels that immediately exists between religious persecution back then and the persecution of mutants that has always been a strong undercurrent (if not tsunami) in the world of the X-Men, but rather that this was the beginning of the epoch in human history where the Old World gave way to the new one that was being created in the Americas. That makes Virginia Dare the pivotal character in "Marvel 1602," and the second time through reading it pay attention to the character more as a symbol.
The final irony is that the more I appreciate the symbolism of Virginia Dare, the more I think it undermines the grand conceit of dressing up so many Marvel superheroes in Elizabethan garb. Instead I found myself wanting Gaiman to start over and basically begin with Virginia Dare and Rojhaz sailing on the ship to visit Queen Bess and not involve the other characters. Or, conversely, to leave the pair from Roanoke out of the picture and keep the focus on the Euorpean stage. Granted, each time we read "Marvel 1602" there will be more to unpack from Gaiman's storyline, but while it is quite interesting it does not rise to the heights of "Watchman" (insert your own classic graphic novel standard if you want) and I certainly do not overly interesting in seeing what Greg Pak and Greg Tocchini come up with following in the shoes of Gaiman and Kubert in "1602: New World."


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