What I’m Reading

Happy Saturday everyone, I thought today I’d write about this fantastic book I’m reading. It’s called The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva. It’s about a former Israeli Secret Intelligence officer named Gabriel Allon, who now works as a meticulous art restorer.

I grew up reading spy type thrillers, in Middle School I read the Ian Fleming James Bond novels, Live and Let Die was my favorite. I also read The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy which was great because I’d already seen the film The Hunt for Red October and it was exciting to follow those characters like Jack Ryan and Marko Ramius again.

I guess one of the big things is that I enjoy continueing stories, probably a result of being a life long comic book reader and get new adventures with my favorite characters each month on the regular.

They are numerous long running novel series. I’ve read 13 of the 15 Longmire novels by Craig Johnson. However, in getting back to Silva and Gabriel Allon, the book is written incredibly well. Very well paced and the supporting characters are well thought out and developed. Usually I want to get back to the main characters when other authors devote a chapter to the antagonist, but Silva makes you wanna know the back story of the entire depth of the terrorist background.

The cool thing I love about the novel is that Gabriel is also a world class art restorer and he is working on a Rembrandt and a hidden find that an art dealer picked up for cheap at a Christie’s auction that could end up being quite a prize. However the art gets put on hold as Gabriel is asked again to comeback to the spy game and possibly have a chance to assassinate the Palestine terrorist responsible for the death of his wife and child years before.

The Kill Artist is the first in a 17 book series as of 2017. It’s a tight read with deep characters and some art thrown in. Plus Gabriel is around 50 years old and that’s a neat change of pace as well.

MGM is currently in the process of making a series based on the books. Odds are this will suck, but if you wanna get a feel for the character now before Hollywood casts a 25 year old hunk meat head, now is the time. Consequently, my actor for Gabriel Allon would be Daniel Day Lewis. Enjoy your weekend and please check out fresh content daily from Mid-American-Culture.

Reviews Through a Friend: At.Long.Last.A.S.A.P. – A.S.A.P. Rocky.

Hello everyone, today I’ll continue with our week long series of reviewing albums selected.by our fellow contributors. I got A.S.A.P Rocky’s sophomore album, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP.

I confess prior to this record I had not listened to much of Rocky. That first album was huge and everyone kinda jumped on the bandwagon. Sometimes I’ll see what the fuss is about, but I usually liken to discover artist organically on my own.

I did enjoy A.L.L.A so much I went back to the last album. I ended up prefering the newer release more. I feel like he was free as an established artist to take more chances. I think this album breaks into different genres. It has beats of rock, rap, and soul. I love stories. I love that Rocky can take his unique experiences in life and make it into a journey that I can relate too. He has tales of outsiders, posers, users. He talks of struggling with his faith and the challenges of his career.

There is plenty to dig in on, especially if you notice the tracks with Joe Fox, who had a random, late night encounter with Rocky and ended becoming a protege off the streets in London from slinging mixtapes.

Mos Def whom I love, features on the last track and legendary performer of my parents generation, Rod Stewart appears on Everyday. Actually lots of folks are on this album. M.I.A. has 4 lines on Fine Whine and I enjoyed that so much I spent an afternoon at work listening to a Spotify M.I.A. playlist.

I immensely enjoyed this album and it will for sure be in my regular listening rotation.

Halo Legendary Crate: The Great Journey Review

Hey everyone, happy Saturday to you all. Today I’m going to review the latest Halo Legendary Crate from Loot Crate. Loot Crate had a massive holiday sale so I decided to finally have a go at a subscription. If your unfamiliar with the concept, Loot Crate and other subscription boxes offer a box of goodies, usually unknown until the box arrives, on a reoccurring schedule. There are various boxes ranging from general geekery to gaming or even fitness.

I have had many boxes before and j highly recommend the Funko boxes. Today is Halo so let’s get into it.

The them of this box was the Great Journey,.which is mainly the Covenant’ s march across the galaxy culminating in the final battle of Halo 3.

When you first open the box you are greeted by beautiful art featuring the Arbiter, one of my favorite characters.

Inside box there is a Mongoose T-shirt with 2 red Spartans on board.

Pretty neat shirt with a cool logo that kinda has motorsports feel to it.

Next up in the box is a figure, each box had a figure inside, this time it’s Master Chief as he’s thrown down a shield. This is taken straight from a scene in the original trailer for Halo 3.

Next up we get Halo cookie cutters! I figure the idea here was the box originally closed in December, close to Christmas, and the thinking was some Spartan themed cookies for Santa.

There’s on for Chief, a rifle, that crappy Covenant Pistol, and the Guilty Spark Liberian dude.

Lastly we got a Assault Rifle pin and a badass poster of the Chief and Arbiter that just won’t stay unfilled for anything.

All in all a very cool box and I’m looking forward to the next one in Febuary which features a Sgt. Johnson figure and is tactical themed. Thanks for reading everyone and have a great weekend. We start our second round of staff picked album reviews next week so check us out.

How I learned to stop bitching and love The Last Jedi.

So I love books and movies. It’s the foundation of who I am really. A gentlemen at work says I “Love fake shit so much” in referencing the novel I usually have slid in my lunch bag or the geek t-shirt I’m wearing. At any rate, I had a pretty hard stand on the latest Star Wars offering for months. I had the feeling it would not go as I had hoped. Kinda like when Luke tells Rey something similar in regard to her force journey. I thought we’d finally get a full fledged Jedi Master Luke Skywalker taking on the First Order and being his old heroic self I’d had so many plastic versions of.  The film is incredibly smart and knows what we really want, but for the sake of story won’t give it to us. Again, Luke asks Rey what she wants? For him to stand against the forces of the First Order with a laser sword? Luke knows the actual absurdity of that even if Rey and us viewers do not.

So I was mad at this movie before I even saw it. I didn’t want to see a character I’d grown up with die on screen. I wanted Luke to have grown to a happy life after the struggles of the original trilogy, to make up for the short comings of Obi-Wan and Yoda and raise up a new class of galaxy protectors. Not to grow old and bitter on a wet rock, alone among the cosmos.  Life is hard and bitter, I get that. I’ve read plenty of books and lived through some very disappointing things myself. Life is often sad and hard. Things don’t often work out the way we plan. I complained about corporate over Lord Disney sucking the life out of the franchise and blah blah blah. It was actually quite a risk on their part choosing to tell the story the director Rian Johnson wanted  to make and not a dipped in plastic feel good romp.

The heart of the story for me actually comes from the character DJ, the code breaker. After betraying Finn and Rose to the higher bidding First Order, he shows this hologram of all these weapon sales generated by decades of war. He shows the Empire/ First Order stuff but then, an X-Wing shows up.

Questions are left in the air, why and how did the First Order rise so quickly? How could the New Republic fold so fast. Leia has fought her entire life, is it all she knows? Uncle Owen begged Luke to stay on the farm, to not get involved as Old Ben Kenobi says. What life could he have had? Family and peace? He sought adventure and he redeemed his father because of his plight, but not much else. It’s a pretty powerful insight to give into sci-fi cultural heroes.

So now I love The Last Jedi. Visually stunning, loved the new armored walkers and the crystal foxes, hell, I even love the porgs. It tells a deep, reflective story. We still have Chewbacca and the Falcon.  Keep the momentum going J.J. Abrams and May the Force Be With You All!starwars, thelastjedi, luke skywalker, rey, reinjohnson, Disney, story, childhood, heroes

The Golden Age of Comics.

comicbooks, literature, worldwar2, Saturday, literature

Why did so many people want to read comic books during the time of war? The Nazi enemy of World War II greatly changed US pop culture through inspiring the creation of new heroes, and also changing those already there. The war against the Nazis had a great affect. This affect also occurred in the United States. The war changed pop culture greatly.

People at home wanted more comforting happy comics. They wanted forms of entertainment on the home front to cheer them up. There was war affected books, movies, music, and comics. “The subject of most comics, like books and other forms of entertainment, reflected common concerns.”

“Popular music trumpeted optimism.” The people of the United States enjoyed positive music. Most of which had to do with the war. Some of the songs from the time were, “You’re a Sap, Mister Jap”; “Let’s Take a Rap at the Jap”; “The Japs Don’t Have a Chinaman’s Chance”; and “We’re Gonna Find a Feller who is Yeller and Beat Him Red, White, and Blue”. “ ‘White Christmas’, first heard in 1942 in the film Holiday Inn, was soon sung by soldiers in hot deserts jungles as well as by civilians in the United States. Like blueberry pie, the song represented home.”

Books were also a wonderful hobby and way out from the tough times. There was a major market established for paperback books in the 1940’s, “Paperback sales increased astronomically, jumping from several hundred thousand to 10 million in 1941, then rising to 20 million in 1942 and 40 million in 1943.”

“During the war, Americans went to the movies in record numbers.” “More then 90 million people attended films each week as admissions increased 33 percent. Yearly grosses at theaters swelled to well over a billion dollars, even though fears of film stock shortages caused the total number of pictures released to drop from 533 in 1942 to 377 in 1945.”

“Americans also enjoyed comic books. Comic book sales rose from 12 million copies a month to over 60 million a month in 1946. Eighty percent of the population aged 6 to 17 read comics books during the war; one-third of people aged 18 to 30 years did the same.” People enjoyed seeing their heroes involved in the everyday fight. Most comic heroes were involved with the war during the Crucial Era. “Joe Palooka, Dick Tracy, and others enlisted in the military services and did their part.”

Three of the main heroes involved with the war Superman, Batman, and Captain America. Superman was a true hero; all people loved him, and enjoyed seeing him during the war. Batman was often fighting the mysterious, the creepy, people who are different and unlike us, and of course, Captain America.

He was a hero created to help the war in comics too. He was a weak man. Steve Rogers was a true representation of ‘the little guy’. He was transformed in a lab as America’s true hero. “Thus, a true champion of freedom was born – and a foe of liberty meets his death, in a truly symbolic.”

It goes on after he was created to show him as a soldier. It shows Captain America and his sidekick Bucky Barnes beating the Nazis. There is also some spots talking about the evil of the Nazis and their ways. “If this was the Third Reich, I’d have to shoot you to keep my secret safe! But we don’t do things that way!”

In Batman comics, there is a sense of evil, of distrust, of outlandish, foreign villains. Making the US citizens feel unsafe, to be suspicious of each other. To ask the question not only asked about the Nazis, but the Communists too. Who can be trusted? Who is a US citizen? Who is a spy? Who belongs here? Who doesn’t belong here?

An example of Batman fighting against a foreign foe and different is when,

“It is well that you three joined forces with me four great scientists, the scarlet horde…”; “And I Carl Kruger will be dictator of the world!””, “Master of the world, another Napoleon-no one can stop me!” . A man obviously foreign sits discussing his plans to be a dictator. Showing that a world dictator is something to be feared, even for the Americans.

Another example of the different being our enemy is, “For Kila!”  A car full of Hindus shout as they toss a body in a river and speed away from Batman. There are many other images of Batman fighting weird different people.

Superman is sometimes shown like this as well. There is an issue where he is against a science experiment. “The fiery eyes of the paralyzed cripple burn with terrible hatred and sinister intelligence–”. This man is focused on “Domination of the world!” 

There is still an effect of WWII on US pop culture. “Government now affected cultural life as well in the aftermath of the second world war. Between 1933 and 1945, the federal government had become a patron of the arts.” “Cultural life was also affected by the emphasis on organization. A new age of mass culture emerged.”               

“Many of the young men and women who were involved in such wartime activities, as publishing and mass distribution of paperback books for the armed forces carried their experiences into private industry in succeeding decades. The vast expansion of paperback books extent by experiences during the Second Word War.”

The main lasting effect is the story of the survivors. They have been told as movies and books. “Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father, his father’s terrifying story, and History itself.”  So Vladek’s story was portrayed as a comic book. Which is a way the war affected our culture.

World War II was a difficult time for many people. The citizens at home needed a way to escape. Movies, books, and music were all great ways to get away. Comic books however had one of the biggest impacts. You could escape from your miserable troubles to see Superman, Batman, Captain America or many other heroes defeating the evil Nazi army. The Nazi enemy of World War II greatly changed US pop culture through inspiring the creation of new heroes, as well as changing those already there.

 

 

 

 

Towards the Vault 

I impossibly can’t wait for this to end.

A long box and several flowers occupy the center of the mind.

Tiny cards make an attempt to convey something.

A hired gun wields the Word towards sheep that are not his flock.

I stare down at the carpet and marvel at how it’s woven together.

A giant machine must do this.

I’m beyond ready for earth to fly. Shovels full of hard soil and blades of grass. 

Surely someone benefits.  Not me or the long box contents. 

Someome pull the gear selector down. Back us up and back away. 

Push it hard down drive and just plow through.

Just get away.