Very Short

Just a quick one today.  In the interest of something light and easy that I may not finish before Monday, I started rereading Rosario+Vampire from the beginning.  Let me tell you, this is a fairly dumb harem manga.  Not something I would normally read except I got some excerpts in Shonen Jump magazine that showed me some of the underlying plot.  Because yes, there is an overarching story to the thing, even if it’s buried under mounds of fanservice.

I’ve also seen part of the anime and it’s not a true adaptation.  A number of things are changed and because it cuts out what I think to be the most interesting story elements to focus on the harem aspect…it kind of sucks.

The basic premise of the series is that Aono Tsukune is such a mediocre failure, he can’t even pass highschool entrance exams.  Before his future is completely lost, his parents find a flyer dropped by a mysterious monk advertising Yokai Academy.  Being reasonably unimaginative people, they think it’s perfect because no entrance scores are needed.

It’s a spooky place, and Tsukune quickly finds out the biggest problem with his attendance there; Yokai Academy is a school for monsters!  (This is obvious when you understand that “yokai” is a word meaning “demon” or “monster” or generally something inhuman that goes bump in the night.)  Anyway, now he has to prevent anyone from finding out that he’s actually human, otherwise they’ll kill or eat him.

Then the harem part kicks in which is…weird.  I mean, it helps Tsukune because all of his eventual girlfriends are fairly strong individuals capable of protecting him, but what will make him a good protagonist is the fact that he feels obligated to protect them, despite being an ordinary weakling human.  Because, after all, they’re his friends.

There are some mixed messages going on here for sure, but at the end of the day, I do enjoy this series and look forward to going through all twenty-eight volumes.  I’ve only finished one today, so I have a ways to go.

Much Excitement

As promised, I went to the comic shop this morning to pick up the new issues of Doomsday ClockMighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and Go Go Power Rangers.  I didn’t take too much note of specifics because…why should I?  I have plenty of time before the seder starts and I saw no reason why I couldn’t read all three series today.  And, because I do everything that way, I decided to start with my “least” favorite of the three.  Not to say that it isn’t good, but two of these are much more powerful in my eyes, but that’s probably because of the force of history.  That is to say, Watchmen is a classic for good reason and Doomsday Clock draws heavily upon it.  Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers is up to twenty-five issues, which means there’s a good bit of momentum now.  So, Go Go Power Rangers comes in third place with this group.

I made the right choice of where to start though.  Issue 8 of Go Go Power Rangers is also a Shattered Grid prelude!  It resolves the Homecoming dance fiasco, although not in a completely satisfying manner.  Sure, the monster is defeated and the rangers have shown some ingenuity and Billy has made the decision he’s been considering for the past few issues, but I don’t think we’re done with Matt.  The poor kid is mentally scarred, but right now he’s just huddled in a corner in a fetal position.

No, the most interesting part comes on the last two pages where we clearly see a pink ranger and Finster from Drakkon’s universe, implying that even though this is the flashback series, Go Go Power Rangers is going to link in more directly to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers than I had realized, what with this event.  Aside from the probable headache this will cause with the timestream, I am interested to see how they pull this off.  I just really hope that the whole timeline issue doesn’t overrule my enjoyment.

Moving on, the obvious choice was Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and the real start of Shattered Grid.  After the obviously emotional and somewhat questionable decisions made in issue 24, issue 25 starts off in space.  With my second-favorite season, Time Force.  Yes, I totally squealed when I realized that not only where these Time Force power rangers, these were the same rangers from the TV show.  There are definitely some questions here, but who cares?  I can trust the team to give me as much explanation as I need.  Probably next issue when Kim gets enough breath back to actually ask.

As the first issue of the event, this is really about setup.  We’re establishing that yes, the other power ranger teams we know and love exist.  That Time Force is, unsurpisingly, able to keep tabs on them.  And that the universe as we know it is about to face a dire threat that will see teamups like we’ve always wanted.  (Please to imagine me pausing as I type this to randomly flail in my happiness.)  Even the new end-comic is tying into the event.  As you may recall, the first twelve issues of MMPR had a cute little two-page minicomic about Bulk and Skull.  The next twelve issues featured Squatt and Baboo and hasn’t been nearly as entertaining, hence why I haven’t mentioned it in months.  But, this being issue 25, we have a new comic featuring Centurion and Ninjor, though the latter hasn’t been seen in it yet.

Instead, Ninjor was in the issue proper and if that doesn’t make a fan’s toes curl in excitment, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for.  But, if you wait long enough, you just might see it.

I’m putting together some theories based on today’s new issues, but I can clearly see how this is the comic book completely diverging from history as we know it on the TV show.  It’s not just because it’s updated to the present anymore, but because they are deliberately changing things while keeping the basic elements the same.  Just because we’ve seen the series doesn’t mean we can predict everything that happens. I’m sure there will be consistency between them, but breaking away so thoroughly is a great plan.

As you can tell, I am very excited now that I’ve read the first issue of Shattered Grid.  I honestly didn’t realize that Power Rangers as a franchise is now 25 years old – but when I think back and do the math, yeah, yeah it is.  What a terrifying thought.  But that age is seeing a big event to celebrate here in the comics created by people who were just as into it when it first premiered, and that’s awesome.

I should also mention that the art style has shifted in this issue.  Based on what I noticed when I was inputting my comics into a database, this could be a temporary phenomenon restricted to this issue, or to just a few.  Well, I hope it’s temporary.  The sudden shift is annoying and it changes how a lot of the characters are drawn between issues 24 and 25.  It’s not quite as annoying as when Sandman’s art style shifted in the arc with the Furies, but it’s different enough to be noticeable.  Jason now looks like Matt from Go Go Power Rangers, Grace lost a lot of detail, Tommy looks like a girl, Trini is way more stereotypically Asian now, and Billy looks a lot more like a dweeb than he did.  Kim is about the same, go figure.

My biggest issue with the art style is that it is a noticeable change which breaks the flow for me.  However, if I stick to my current trend of only rereading one older comic before the new one, it shouldn’t be as jarring next time…unless if I decide to reread from the prelude of Shattered Grid onward.

One thing I do appreciate is the inside back cover, which is a full page ad for Shattered Grid, complete with a list of all the comics coming out each month that feature or tie-in to it.  Since there’s only the two series, it’s not a lot, but it does include the 2018 MMPR annual and a Free Comic Book Day special.  Now, based on what I’ve seen for FCBD in the past, it’s likely that whatever “special” it is will turn out to be an excerpt from one of the real issues, meant to draw in new readers who only hit up comic shops on that first Saturday in May.  But I’ll pick one up for myself just in case.  If it’s extraneous I may recycle it, but if it’s not, well, obviously I’ll keep it.

Another thing to mention is the inside front cover motif.  From the start I’ve pointed out that it’s the diamond design from the rangers’ suits and the color has been that of the dominant ranger in the story arc – starting with green, then changing to red.  But now it’s a purplish black and the lower portion is fractured.  Or shattered, if you will.  I take this to mean that it’s meant to represent all rangers and how this event represents the potential to destroy them all.

Now, I think we all know that there will be some sort of happy ending.  I mean, isn’t that what we expect from superhero comics?  That the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and the world is saved?  True, it’s not always the best of all possible endings.  People die, people change, people are damaged by what they experience.  But overall, the sun dawns on a new day and the majority of important characters survive.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be utterly thrilling to see how the writers take us there.  I am pumped and I can’t wait until the release of the 2018 annual on April 25th (thank you back of the comic book for being all about Shattered Grid this month).  I am hoping that, this time, instead of a collection of stories about the original rangers we have a collection of stories featuring rangers from the many other teams out there.  There’s no way of knowing until then, so I’ll just have to be patient and wait and see.

(And yes, I’m aware I have the internet at my disposal and could google things and probably learn a lot but I feel like that takes a lot of the fun out of it.  I love opening up my comic book each month and experiencing it for the first time with no spoilers or any kind of hints as to what will happen aside from those guesses I’ve formulated on my own based on my minimal exposure.  Finding the Shattered Grid trailer on youtube was something of a fluke – youtube does know my likes and thought I’d be interested in it.  And you know what?  It was right.  Still doesn’t mean I’m going to spend my time trying to figure out something a short wait will tell me when there’s plenty of other things I can be doing instead.  Answers will come when they come and at least I won’t have to wait twelve years to find out what happens next.)

So, in short (hah, not really), I’m enjoying what I’ve read of Shattered Grid thus far and am excited to see more in the coming months.

Moving on, there was also Doomsday Clock to read.  And I am the idiot who only just realized that the “design” on the inside front and back covers is spelling out “DOOMSDAY CLOCK” in the same font as on the outside front cover, but as tall as the page.  Don’t get me wrong, I love design realizations like this, I just feel dumb for not seeing it sooner.  I do have to give DC credit for the design and branding on this series.  It’s incredibly cohesive, has absolutely no advertising to take away from the visual unity, and is nicely understated and classic.  The cover is a thicker stock than usual for comics and gives it a nice solidity and weight.

Issue 4 dives into the backstory of the new Rorshach and it is nicely engrossing.  It seems this is not the man’s first time being locked away, but the first time he had a friend, telling us exactly where he was then.  Maine, not New York City.  Why Maine?  Because that’s where Byron Lewis, Mothman, is locked up.  Back in Watchmen we didn’t get a lot of backstory on the Minutemen who didn’t directly affect the current story, and Mothman was one of those who got so shafted.

Not only does he shine here, but we see that he’s a genuinely nice man who cares so much and just happens to think he can fly.  However, I’m starting to think that the insanity that ended Watchmen and killed three million people may have done a bit more than that, judging on what I’ve see in issues 3 and 4 of Doomsday Clock.  I mean, I have no proof that it’s the cause, but it seems a reasonable theory at the moment.

Also, Batman’s a dick.  But that’s a standard part of his character so I guess I can overlook and forgive it.

At this point, Doomsday Clock is a third of the way through its run.  We know that Veidt is dying and is trying to save the world of Watchmen as his last act of…heroism?  Narcissim?  I’m not really sure.  His plan is to bring back Dr. Manhattan from wherever the man went.  However, as Marionette points out, he doesn’t really have any idea what he’s doing now that they’re in this other universe.  And he’s in the hospital right now anyway, and sat out this whole new issue.

We’ve found out about the new Rorshach at last, so to my mind the next issue should focus more heavily on the main DC side of things.  Marionette and the Mime are on their way to meet the Joker…which should have some entertaining consequences.  Batman seems to be second-guessing himself, which makes me think he might call in some backup.  Might.

While this is the series that predicated when I went to the comic shop, I’m just not as excited about Doomsday Clock as I am about Shattered grid at this moment.  Part of it might be the fact that I’ve been a fan of Watchmen for only a decade or so, compared to the two and a half decades Power Rangers has been around.  Part of it might be that this month’s issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers is stronger than its Doomsday Clock counterpart.  Part of it might be that Doomsday Clock is officially on a bimonthly schedule now, whereas the Power Rangers comics are released monthly.  I’m not going to analzye that to death though.  Point is, all of the new comic books I’ve read today are good, but the last wasn’t actually the best for me in this case.  Oh well.  Not every issue hits it out of the park, and this one had some stiff competition.

Tonight also saw the beginning of Passover at long last and my first time leading a seder.  My dad was definitely amused and intrigued when he saw The (unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah and we proceeded from there.  I think that cutting out as much as I did worked out the way we wanted, as it did end up being a mini-seder, even with all the core bits left in.  Also because I read somewhat faster than certain participants do…whatever.

It was definitely a good call on my part to only use Hebrew for those parts I had memorized because, with no transliteration, I would have been sounding things out forever.  Able to read is not the same as able to comprehend and my Hebrew is not great for conversation or perusing.  Overall, I think my parents enjoyed it as something a little different.

I do have even more critique about the actual physical book though.  There were even more typos and grammatical errors than I had remembered and the page numbers aren’t easy to read – a problem when you’re skipping two to fourteen pages at a time and need to tell your father (who’s following along in the second copy) what page you’re on now.

So, good concept, decent essays and readings, but the physical presentation needs work.  Self-publishing is nice but there’s a point where you need to have a professional take a look.  I’ll keep the Hogwarts Haggadah, but I don’t know that I’ll ever use it again.

Today’s been pretty good, all things considered.  Again, I’m not sure how much more reading I’ll get through this weekend, considering my plans, but only time can tell what will happen.

Classic Shorts

Some days it’s easy to pick a book to read.  Other days I wander aimlessly around my library, then around the rest of the condo, then back to the library, as if the very act of walking will help me formulate a plan.  I’ll glance at books that are right out – in this case too long, too involved, not interesting, or too many volumes to cart around work.  Then my eye fell on my oversized Tanya Huff books and I realized that rereading an anthology sounded absolutely perfect.  But, it had to be the right book.  I have four anthologies of Huff’s work to choose from. (Five if you include Blood Bank but in this case it doesn’t count, being a collection of stories from a single and specific world.  It’s why I don’t include the Valdemar anthologies when talking about collections of Lackey’s work, but do include them when talking about the series.)

Relative Magic, the second anthology, is the one I went with.  Sure, I could have gone with Stealing Magic featuring stories of the world’s best thief and the world’s most powerful wizard…but that is the first Huff anthology I ever read (thanks Mom).  Sure I could’ve picked What Ho, Magic!, it being the first anthology…but nah.  I chose Relative Magic for one single reason.

“Now Entering the Ring.”

It’s the fifth story in the book, which contains a total of seventeen stories.  There’s a variety in the rest including a Henry Fitzroy story, a Vicki Nelson story, all four Terazin stories, “Nanite, Star Bright,” and even an Arthurian story.  But this is the one that puts all of those to shame.  “Now Entering the Ring” is one of my favorite short stories of all time.

It sounds simple and utterly mundane when you describe it.  A man who’s failed as an athlete and an actor takes up wrestling and has made it to a semi-professional circuit that includes county faires and the like.  What happens next will shock and amaze you!  Which sounds utterly banal, I know.  But I cannot, will not say anything more on what actually happens because I refuse to spoil this gem for anybody.

There is something very raw and powerful about what Huff has written here and it touches me every time I read it.  Sometimes I only need to remember the story to recapture that feeling.  I’m not even certain I like the story, but it has such an impact on me, is so memorable, that I cannot help listing it as one of my favorites, as a powerful story that made me stop and think and revisit what I know.

It’s not the only strong story in the collection – this is a Tanya Huff book and so everything is pretty strong.  The opener, “Burning Bright,” is another good one (likely why it starts the book) and “Nights of the Round Table” is always entertaining.  Many of the stories are comedic, or have humor interjected to lighten the mood, but again, this is par for the course with Huff.

Which is part of why “Now Entering the Ring” stands out – it’s utterly serious.

Sorry, I’ll stop drooling over the story.  I do appreciate it so much and I’m so happy I got Huff to sign all my books when she was at Windycon.  There’s nothing quite like being able to gush to an author in person how much you love their work.

As for what’s next, I’m not certain.  I have this nice long weekend, true, but Passover starts tomorrow night and I’m leading that seder.  The big family dinner is Saturday night for second seder (I made jello tonight!), and then I have plans to hang out and be Jewish with a friend on Easter.  So, I’m not certain how much reading will actually get done.  I do intend to pick up the new Doomsday Clock tomorrow (and whatever’s new in Power Rangers comics), and it’s entirely likely that I’ll have the time to read them as well.

That reminds me, I should probably stick Doomsday Clock 1-3 in my bag for tomorrow, and The Prince of Egypt, so that I have some things to do in the afternoon. I’d take Ten Commandments, but my copy seems to be in the city right now.  I am so excited to have tomorrow off…you can’t truly understand.

I did hear a rumor about a new Half Price books in the area, but they’re only open to buy books right now.  The official grand opening is a couple weeks away…but you can bet I’m making some plans for that.  Used bookstores are usually a crapshoot at the best of times, but since you never know, you do always have to look.

That’s all for today then.  I’ll probably be back tomorrow and then…well, we’ll see.

Silly Sci-Fi

Several years back, a friend of mine sat me down and put something on the TV, it being the first episode or two of Battlestar Galactica.  The newer one.  It was engaging and entertaining and I forgot about it for a while.  Then, in college, someone showed me the same thing.  Being more in the know, I borrowed some DVDs and watched a bit more.

Do you know what the difference is between a sci-fi series and a soap opera?  Costumes.  And explosions.  I soon lost interest in watching hour-long episodes of slow-moving intrigue, romance, and subterfuge.  I tried to get back into the series but I’ve never been great at keeping up with live action shows.  So I returned the discs and moved on.

I was casting around my library, having decided to avoid the Pile for now, trying to figure out what I was in a mood to reread.  Then, my eye fell upon the science fiction books along the west wall.  You see, a large number of these books should technically be in the Pile, because I’ve never read them.  They’re from the lot of 300 or so I absconded with from my dad’s collection and are by authors I like, authors I’m interested in reading, or are just stories I think I might want to read at some point.  Since a large number of these are from the eighties and earlier, they’re also on the shorter side – perfect at the moment.  My eye fell on one of these.

It is, of course, Battlestar Galactica, the novelization of the original TV series by Glen A. Larson and Robert Thurston.  And reading it has been an interesting experience, considering my only previous exposure was watching almost half a season of the reboot.  My main knowledge of the original series was that Starbuck was originally male, instead of the badass woman I was more familiar with.

So, what did I notice right away?  The Cylons here are not robots.  They’re an alien species that…can have multiple brains?  I have to wonder if this is where that Bolo story got that idea from…ah, whatever.  Cylons and humans have warred for a thousand years and only now have they manuevered humans into a position of near-futility.  This involved a human traitor named Baltar, one of the characters who also appears in the reboot, but thankfully this one is dealt with much quicker.  (I really didn’t care for the guy in the few episodes I saw.)

The Cylons managed to draw the military fleet away and lay waste to the Twelve Worlds (each one named for an astrological sign) and now the remnants of humanity are fleeing with their lives.  I did note it says at one point that they have twenty-two thousand ships – still a great reduction from a population that filled twelve planets – but a significantly larger fleet than I recall from the TV series I tried watching.  Commander Adama of the Galactica determines that they should head for the mythical Earth.

Now here was another difference I observed between what I’d seen and what I read. In the newer show, Earth is the home of the mythical thirteenth…tribe?  Whatever.  A thirteenth group had left the other twelve long ago and Earth is the name of their legendary home.  In this version, Earth is still humanity’s homeworld, but it’s been so long since the twelve colonies were established that it’s a mere myth at this point. Which makes one wonder why they left…but that’s unimportant at this point.

I am absolutely certain that each of the ten chapters in this book, along with preceeding excerpt from the Adama Journals, represents an episode in the series.  Not all the episodes stand completely alone, which is perfectly fine, but I do not think I could stand to watch this.  There’s far too much romance and love triangles, and how loudly does your environment have to scream “IT’S A TRAP!” before you listen? Not to mention that said trap is a significant chunk of the book, and then the book ends with the humans escaping the trap.  But it’s far from any sort of conclusion and thus unsatisfying.  I don’t know if there’s another volume or two of novelization, but I doubt I’d be interested enough to read it at this rate.

Like I said, a lot of this read like a soap opera and I just…don’t care.  I don’t care how much Starbuck gambles, I don’t care who’s sleeping with who because they can’t have known each other that long and I don’t care about the human-interest-excuse-child.  Adama and his son Apollo are the most interesting characters aside from the Cylon Imperious Leader, but because we have to devote time to Starbuck in particular, there’s a number of lulls in my interest.  The book isn’t even 250 pages and yet it still took me two whole days to read.

Overall, I won’t say I hated it, because I didn’t.  I just saw through a lot of tropes and tricks and that lessened the impact in a lot of ways.  It’s a book that, when I eventually need to look at pruning my collection to make space, will probably end up going away.  But for now, I’ve kept worse so I might as well keep it.

But I’m definitely going to find something better to read for the next couple days.

Rambling Along

With Power Rangers and superheroes on my mind, and having just spent a good four hours making new databases for my movies (separated by format), I felt somewhat compelled to reread one of my silly crossovers.  This being Justice League/Power Rangers.  Because…why not?

It’s a simple enough premise.  Lord Zedd has come up with a dastardly scheme that includes getting a bomb into the command center.  When it goes off, it damages the teleporter and when Zack tries to get Zedd away, both are transported far, far away.  Zack kicks some putty butt as he arrives, and then sees a weird person come up to him who demands that he put down his axe.

The weird person is, of course, Batman and being Batman he doesn’t make the best first impression.  As Zack observes throughout the crossover, it’s not that hard to mistake Batman for a supervillain instead of a hero.  You can imagine that some shenanigans ensue because what is a crossover event or even two heroes meeting each other without them mistaking the other for an enemy at first?  It seems to happen in just about every meeting.

Well, maybe not every meeting, but I’m having to really wrack my brain to think of a case where it didn’t happen.  I guess I can point out Black Widow, Bruce Banner, and Captain America from Marvel’s Avengers being quite civil as they meet.  Of course, they do have the advantage of SHIELD pulling the necessary strings and explaining a bit of what’s going on ahead of time.

It’s very stereotypical though, for heroes to fight on first meeting.  So much so that DC built an entire movie around it not too long ago…and we all saw how that turned out.  I think Batman v. Superman will remain infamous for some years yet, before time and other movies make us forget how awful it was.  Then maybe some hipsters (or whatever they call themselves at that point) will rewatch it and point out that there are good points to it, starting a new debate about whether or not it was worth making.  (I can tell you now that no, the movie as it was was not worth the time or money to make.  DC, stop trying to be Marvel and just stop, take a breath, and make your own shit and ignore what they’re up to.  And maybe give your big sellers a break so that you’re not rebooting them so often.  I guarantee that if you made a silly and goofy Booster Gold movie, people would probably have a lot of fun with it.  His Justice League Unlimited episode, “The Greatest Story Never Told” is hilarious.)

But going back to the book, It’s a fairly simple story.  This isn’t a bad thing, just a statement of fact.  Two superhero groups meet, clash initially, then make friends.  They help each other’s universes before going home.  The door is left wide open for a sequel.  I suppose, given the Power Rangers, that it’s not suprising the story would be so simplistic.  There are some great lines as the Justice League talks about without actually talking about how utterly ridiculous the core parts of Power Rangers actually are.  The Power Rangers don’t do this in return, but I’d say in some ways that’s because they have some exposure to humanoids in odd costumes with abilities beyond the norm.  The Justice League, in contrast, has never seen teenagers in brightly-colored matching spandex driving robot dinosaurs before.

That is something I love.  That you can describe so many superhero stories so simply and they sound utterly ridiculous.  And yet these stories still have the power to move us and embed themselves in our hearts.  It doesn’t matter how dumb it sounds because it touches on truths that we feel deep inside.  But at the end of the day, superheroes are about celebrating the good in humanity.  They uphold the basic truths we are raised with, like everyone having a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Superheroes do the right thing because it is the right thing, even though it’s difficult.  But, being superheroes, they often make it look easy.

There’s a trailer on youtube for the upcoming Shattered Grid event in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  They even got Jason David Frank, our classic Tommy Oliver, to play Drakkon.  I don’t honestly have much more of an idea about what’s coming than I did after reading issue 24, but I am somewhat excited that they’re putting this much effort into it.  I hope that it’s every bit as enjoyable as Doomsday Clock has been.  And the fourth issue of that one is out in a mere three days…so you can expect me to pick it up in the coming week.

It’s interesting.  I didn’t really read comic books as a kid, aside from GarfieldCharlie Brown, and other collected newspaper strips.  But I did watch TV.  I saw SpidermanX-MenBatman the Animated SeriesSuperman the Animated Series and even some Batman and Superman as a kid.  I watched the whole original runs of X-Men: EvolutionSpiderman UnlimitedJustice LeagueJustice League Unlimited, and Static Shock into highschool.  But it wasn’t until college that I actually sat down and read trade paperbacks from the library.

Given the choice between a manga and an anime, I’ll generally choose the manga because it takes me a lot less time to read however many volumes than to watch so many episodes.  The same should hold true for comics, but I’m not sure it actually does.  A lot of the comics I choose to read just aren’t available in any other format.  But there’s a lot of comics out there, from decades of production.  I think that if I wanted to reexperience the Dark Phoenix saga of X-Men, I’d put on the nineties animated series because, based on what I know of comics, it’s likely a condensed version of that storyline.  I’d also get a nostalgic buzz from watching a series I haven’t really seen in years, so double win.

Not to mention that X3 was a pretty terrible movie that they have tried to retcon and I don’t even know what the X-Men movies are up to at this point.  I know they can still pull more plotlines and story arcs out of the comics (because my goodness do the X-Men get up to some weird shit), but the big question is whether they should.  I know everyone would love to see all the Marvel properties back under that roof, and I can certainly appreciate the thought, but I have to wonder how that would work in the current MCU.  Mutants are the dark underbelly of the Marvel world, the very clear exprssion of racism and prejudice.  Which is just…so weird.  I mean, Thor is obviously an alien who happens to look completely human but has superpowers.  What makes him acceptable and humans who are born with abilities somehow lesser and evil in the minds of most people?

Don’t get me wrong, the X-Men movies actually do a decent job of exploring the prejudice and hate mutants get in their stories.  But I’m just having difficulty reconciling that with the rest of the Marvel universe.  Even in comic form it didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me.

I don’t remember if there were many crossovers in the X-Men animated series, but I definitely recall the crossover in the Spiderman animated series.  It was when Peter was transforming into the Man-Spider with extra arms developing and all sorts of craziness.  He went to the X-Men for help because they were mutants and he was mutating.  But because he wasn’t born a mutant and was the result of a science mishap, they couldn’t do a thing.  Peter, in a totally logical turn, got angry and blamed the X-Men for their inability to help.  Now, I’m not saying Peter’s anger was the right thing to do, just that the emotion was completely logical for a man in his situation.

But I don’t understand why the girls who go up to Thor in the newest movie to ask him for a picture would hate and despise mutants.  Because that is what Marvel tells us they would do – revere superheroes and reject mutants.

Well, that’s been a total non sequitor, especially considering I’ve never actually read an X-Men comic.  I suppose that’s enough rambling for now.  Tomorrow’s Monday, and thank goodness it’s a short week, because there’s so much to do and nowhere near enough time.

The Time is Here

There is a Looking Glass Wars trilogy, but the series is far more expansive, including several graphic novels and the start of another set of books focusing on Hatter Madigan’s school days.  But I’m not here to talk about any of the followups, prequels, sequels, concurrent storylines, or supplemental material today.  (Yes, all of this exists and I have most if not all of it.)  Today the topic is ArchEnemy, the finale of the grand trilogy begun in The Looking Glass Wars.

Now, someone who’s read the first two books can tell right away that we’re talking about the third monarch featured in the books.  There’s Redd, of course, and Alyss, but also King Arch of Boarderland.  He wasn’t noteworthy in The Looking Glass Wars, but proved himself a force to be reckoned with in Seeing Redd.  And now it’s become clear that he’d like to see all the Wondernations united…into a single kingdom.  Under his rule, of course.

But, interestingly enough, the three monarchs are not the only players.  There is the mysterious Everqueen mentioned here and there by the caterpillar oracles…who is that?  What does Everqueen mean for Wonderland…and how does this affect Earth?  Because, of course, Earth and Wonderland are connected via the Pool of Tears…and perhaps more.

The stakes are raised immeasurably in ArchEnemy, beyond anything that a reader could have imagined upon finishing The Looking Glass Wars.  And yet, despite everything, the reader has to recall that yes, these wars are finished here at last, but that doesn’t mean there’s peace or even contentment.  The Suit families have made it clearer than they have in generations that they believe the throne should be theirs, and not the Hearts, and who knows what other factions lurk in the shadows.  (I may have some indications from graphic novels, but I haven’t reread them and don’t plan to touch them at this time so that’s irrelevant.)

Still, it’s a fairly epic finale, all things considered, wrapped up with the one thing we’ve known was coming for quite some time, though there simply wasn’t a good moment throughout the entire novel.

I think the world Frank Beddor’s created is fascinating not only in how it takes the basic bizarre ideas of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and modernizes them, but also how he takes the basic structure and expands on the world creating something that hearkens back to the source material while still being wholly his own vision.  As I said before, if they wanted to make Alice in Wonderland as an action movie with a strong heroine, this is what they should’ve looked at.

I’m not sure what will be my next read.  Technically speaking, I do have a bookmark in a book that I bought because the title sounded intriguing but I’ve just been…uninterested in actually picking it up.  And given how work’s been (overtime for more than three months straight now), I don’t want to commit to anything particularly uninspiring at the moment.  Especially not with the first seder coming up on Friday.  Most of my prep work is done (minus the annual watching of three movies), but that’s still going to eat up a fair bit of my time.  And then work the week after that…let’s just say I don’t foresee a huge amount of free time all throughout Passover.

It’s draining for me to be lugging the same book around day after day when I know that I can read faster than this.  Or rather, I know that I’ve finished books in fewer days on a regular basis simply because I was able to devote more time each day to reading.  I would get an hour’s solid reading at work in because I could afford to take an hour lunch instead of clocking back in after the twenty minutes or so it takes me to actually eat because there’s that much work to get done each and every day right now.  And, because I’d arrive at work early due to hating the traffic later, I’d have all that time before 8am to read as well.  But again, too much to be done and since I refuse to stay late, this is when I have to do my overtime.

Point being, I know it’s perfectly logical why it’s taking me longer to read even the shortest of books, but there’s not much I can do about the problems with work right now.  I could read more at home and not watch Thor: Ragnarok most nights, but I still feel almost compelled to put it on when I can and have just been…blah…when it comes to reading things out of my Pile.  You’ve probably noticed it given the number of shorter, easier reads I’ve been doing lately.  But I remember how badly this affected City of Brass when I read it in December; I would have liked that book so much more if I’d been able to read it over a shorter period of time.  I don’t want other books to potentially suffer in that manner, so I’ve been putting them off.  Also the insanity that is work makes me want things that don’t strain my brain as much in my freereading.

To me these feel like excuses.  That I am leaning on the excuse of work and the ease of putting on a movie in the evening to keep from getting to the bulk of my Pile.  And I feel guilty.  But…why should I?  I’m an adult.  I am able to choose whatever books I want to read at any given time.  There’s no obligation to finish a book I start just because there’s only a handful of books I’ve never finished.  There’s no law that says I have to read all my new books before rereading my old books.  There’s not even any rule that says I absolutely have to post on this blog when I finish a book…or that I can only post on this blog when I finish my book.  There are no rules.

But, having used certain unwritten rules for so long, I still feel bad about doing the things that I’ve determined will work best at this point in time.  I shouldn’t, but there you go.  And even though, having written this out as logically as I can, I’ve just about decided what type of book to reread next, I still feel guilty for making that choice.  But I’m going to do it anyway.

And All I See is Redd…

Years ago, I began to read the Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey.  And I noticed that a number of them had an appendix at the end with songs.  Songs featured in the actual stories, songs as sung by the various characters, etc.  And one day I happened to find a webpage wherein I could order real CDs sung by real people containing these songs.  Thus was I introduced to filk – the folk songs of fandom.

This is relevant because the titles from both this post and the previous one are lyrics from a filk album.  Not just a single song, though they are that, but there is a full album that pairs with The Looking Glass Wars.  I do recommend it.

What, you thought The Looking Glass Wars was all the story there is?  This isn’t a child’s picture book, this is a story featuring a 20 year-old Alyss Heart and no matter how happy the ending may see, there’s always loose ends to tie up and difficulties on the horizon.  Having won her queendom from Redd, and said aunt having escaped justice, Alyss has been focused on rebuilding and restoring the Wonderland of her childhood.

However, it seems that Redd is not, in fact, dead.  And, being the vengeful creature she is, her one goal is to take back what she believes to be rightfully hers.  Seeing Redd also allows us to spend more time looking at Wonderland’s neighbor of Baorderland, ruled by King Arch.  This misogynstic genius is the first man to have united the twenty-one tribes of Boarderland under a single ruler…by ensuring they trust no one besides himself.

This second book in the Looking Glass Wars series dives even deeper into the intrigues, the revelations, and the mysteries of Wonderland Beddor hinted at in the first.  It also helps showcase the political machinations that drive the various factions into allying or distancing themselves from each other, though there’s never a hint of swearing or sex.  I’ve said these are young adult books, but they are still quite mature in that they treat their readers like adults without using any adult content.

You can also tell that this is a middle book, the second act of a trilogy, in that we have revealed the continuing threat from the first book, ended on something of a cliffhanger, and still have a number of things to resolve.  This is no bad thing, just pointing out that anyone who has read The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd can easily tell there is a third book that should resolve most of the ongoing storylines.

Because, of course, happily ever after is boring.  There’s always going to be some issues cropping up, and oftentimes they are ones which are foreshadowed in earlier books.

I’ll be off to start that, and maybe listen to some filk while I do.

It’s All in Your Head

The worst part of Hollywood’s trend in sticking to what they know has sold in the past are the remakes that just…don’t need to exist.  Even when they’re acceptable or good, they still don’t need to be.  And then the bad ones are just…inexcusable.

A classic children’s book is Lewis Carroll’s story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was adapted into a remarkably trippy animated feature by Disney, and that version remains the quintessential film adaptation to this day.  I think we all know about Tim Burton’s live action…remake?  Sequel?  Thing.  Where he tried to turn a poetic allegory about imaginary numbers into a color-by-number hero’s journey that still falls short.

That film was released in 2010.  And it’s a shame that they only thought to repeat their former success in live action, because they could have adapted a different version of the story and had their strong heroine saving the day.

In 2006, Frank Beddor’s book The Looking Glass Wars hit shelves for the first time.  And the title alone tells you everything you need to know.  This is a nonDisney take on Alice in Wonderland, and it’s going to be grittier, but still child-friendly.  After all, this is a book for kids or young adults.  But don’t let the lower bracket of reader ages fool you – Beddor has brought his imagination’s A game in so many ways.

As you open the book and flip page by page inwards, you are greeted with step-by-step illustrations on how a Three of Hearts turns into a Card Soldier; a weirdly futuristic Victorian robot design.  I wouldn’t quite call it steampunk, because Wonderlandian technology is more akin to what we know today than what shows up in steampunk books.  Regardless, once the Card Soldier is revealed in all his glory, the next spread of pages is a map showing the Wondernations, including Wonderland, the Valley of Mushrooms, Outerwidlerbeastia, and more key locations.  Actually, I’m not a huge fan of the map because the borders make it difficult to read.  A lot of the expanses look like they should be oceans, but there are no major bodies of water aside from the Pool of Tears.

There aren’t many illustrations within the book aside from the ones I’ve detailed, but there are recurring themes on what we’ve seen.  Soldiers might be Cards or Chessmen, weapons can be swords, cannonball spiders, or even AD52s – Automatic Dealer of 52 razor sharp cards.  Yes, it’s silly.  But the reader has no choice but to take this absurdities seriously because the characters do.

Jody Lynn Nye once spoke about the Myth books she coauthored with Robert Asprin, and continued after his death, saying that the important thing about writing these humorous books was that the authors and the characters had to take the situations completely seriously.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t mean much to any reader.  Beddor clearly understands this, but is able to show both sides of the coin.

The story is relatively simple.  Princess Alyss Heart is celebrating her seventh birthday, on the verge of beginning her training as the future ruler of the Queendom of Wonderland, when her aunt Redd attacks.  Queen Genevieve is killed, along with many others, and Alyss is taken by the royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan towards safety.  Unfortunately, they fall into the Pool of Tears, from which no one ever returns.

Yet, the story doesn’t end there, because the other side of the Pool of Tears is our world!  This is where Alyss meets Charles Dodgson, AKA Lewis Carroll, and confides the truth of her past, only to feel utterly betrayed as he makes her tragedy into a mockery.  However, Alyss can only be hidden for so long.  Hatter has sought her ever since they became separated in the Pool of Tears, and those who oppose Redd have never quite given up hope…if only Alyss can be the warrior queen they need to restore the land to its former glory.

Beddor does a great job of balancing the absolute seriousness of Wonderland’s insanity with our view of the ridiculousness it seems to be.  I can easily imagine kids experiencing this story and berating the adults of our world for not believing Alyss.  And yet, it’s not a simple lighthearted tale.  Sure there’s no swearing or even indications of sex, but people are killed, tragically, and rarely in a “good” way.  Redd likes beheadings, and Beddor does describe how she kills several key individuals.  If this was a movie, it would be at least PG, if not higher for the violence…depending on when the movie was released.  Kids seem a lot more inured to violence today than when I was young, but we also seem to be trying to protect them a lot more.  I mean, The Secret of NIMH is a G-rated film, but I would probably consider it PG, because it could be absolutely terrifying when I first saw it.  I think The Looking Glass Wars is comparable for its time.

So, for those who like fractured fairy tales and retold classics, I’d definitely recommend taking a look here.  It’s not a difficult read, but it’s got real depth and a lot of clever nods hidden all throughout.  And, of course, a strong female lead as Princess Alyss must somehow take back her queendom from the evil Redd.

I am a Jewish Dork

Nothing exists in a vacuum.  Everything that is created is made within the context of its creator(s), the time, the location, the culture, and so much more.  They say there’s nothing new in Hollywood, but the fact is that what is produced is derivative of so very much, and we are much more aware of it today than we may have been in the past.  It’s easy to see Christian allegory in so much of the English-speaking world…because the English tend to be Christian and have imposed their religion on much of the world.  I have a minor in art history, so I’m very aware of how easy it is to insert symbolism into the smallest details of a painting.  In fact, this is why I had a problem seeing Blade Runner for the first time in college – I couldn’t help seeing the symbolism before the story.

But derivation is not necessarily a bad thing.  I’ve heard that there’s only a small number of different stories told and that everything else is a variant on one of these themes.  I’ve also heard that it’s the speculative fiction readers (this umbrella covers science fiction, fantasy, and all their subgenres) who are most critical of the old and most crave reading something new, that we haven’t seen before.

So when I saw The (unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah, I was intrigued.  I mean, I love Harry Potter as much as anyone else, and if I’m not a devout Jew, I do take the holidays seriously and make an effort to observe them.  I may not keep kosher or kosher for Passover, but I take time out of my day and routine to celebrate and remind myself of what the holiday is and what it means to my people and myself.

Now, I have attended many alternate services in the past.  I grew up attending youth group, went to Jewish overnight camps, and was an active part of not only my synagogue’s youth group board but also a regular attendee to all local NFTY events (the National Federation of Temple Youth).  Part of being active means that we would take turns actually leading services and when we did so, we had choices.  We could do the conventional and standard Reform movement services, we could use alternate melodies and prayers, we could even take out actual prayers and replace them with thoughtful readings on that same theme.

So while a Harry Potter Seder sounds a bit unusual, I can see how and why someone would adapt this particular event to have a very specific theme.  And because the Harry Potter books are such strong works, they can be adapted to suit many purposes like the seder.  It’s not that far-fetched an idea, and it does make me wonder how many other themed Seders are out there.  The answer is probably “a lot, but not so many that are published.”

But don’t get your hopes too high on that word “published.”  This is a self-published work if I ever saw one and belive me, it does have flaws.  Why am I talking about it now though, when Passover is two weeks away?  Well, that’s simple.  I glanced through the book last night when it arrived, and quickly realized that if I tried to run a Seder by just going from begining to end, we’d be at the table for four hours.  So, in order to cut the chaff but still have a themed Seder, I needed to actually read the book and figure out how it works, what to keep, and what to cut.  In fact, I’m actually going to have to go through the book a second time with my sticky notes to actually mark what’s being read that night.

So let’s talk about this being self-published.  Because…it’s an issue.  It does worry me when the copyright page says the text is adapted from Wikipedia, because we all know that Wiki pages can be edited by anyone with an account and so can’t be assumed to be 100% accurate.  I am hoping that the typos I noticed – a missing question mark, “as” instead of “us”, etc. – are due to copying and pasting from Wikipedia.  I mean, it’s also poor proofreading, but that’s something of a given in this case.

The design of the pages looks cool.  The pages are meant to look like parchment on a nice, dark background, with stylized images in the lower corners.  Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of variation here and it ends up being annoying because of how little text can fit on the remaining space of the page.  Combine that with the fact that the layout artist appears to not know the word “justify” and, well, it’s not visually easy to read some of the sections.

For the most part, each section of the Seder service has a header, followed by the normal Hebrew text with English translation.  I suspect that either Moshe Rosenberg is from a more devout group than the Reform movement, or he expects more familiarity with Hebrew than I would.  There are no transliterations in this book, which immediately restricts its usability.  For the record, a transliteration means that the Hebrew is written out with Latin characters.  So you would see “baruch atah Adonai” instead of ” ברוך אתה.  It’s useful for people who, for one reason or another, didn’t have the opportunity to learn to read Hebrew or chose not to pursue it.  I may have learned as a matter of course, but it’s still a language that I have a lot of trouble with and if I am reading a passage that I’m unfamiliar with, it’s always easier to go to the transliteration instead of sounding out each word.  At least the book uses vowels, which is somewhat expected when you’re talking to an American audience.

After the traditional part of each section, there’s a passage with an actual title in which Rosenberg does a mini study session discussing the meaning of the preceding passage and comparing it to events in the Harry Potter books.  Be warned: you are expected to be familiar with the events of all seven books!  There will be spoilers otherewise!  These readings are, well, I’m pretty sure that Rosenberg teaches at a grade school.  They come across to me as somewhat preachy, seeming to be a vehicle for educating people about Judaism and using Harry Potter as an excuse to draw them in.  That’s not to say they’re bad or that they have no purpose, far from it.  Just that sometimes I read a section and thought “I guess that’s true, but there’s less Harry Potter than I was hoping for based on the book title.”

My biggest problem with the way the book is laid out is that the Harry Potter sections are probably the easiest to pick out, but it’s difficult to see where in the seder you are.  Did we forget to dip our parsley, or has that not happened yet?  I think that the Hogwarts Haggadah could have greatly benefitted from the new navigation the Reform movement introduced in the Mishkan T’Filah, the new standard prayerbook.  You see, you can break down a service into its essential parts such as the Songs and Psalms, the Sh’ma and its Blessings, the Torah Service, the Concluding Prayers, etc.  With in each section, the upper corners of each page (Hebrew on the right and English on the left) tell you what psalm, prayer, or song you’re on right now, as well as which ones are before it and which ones are after it.  So anyone, even someone attending their first service, can tell where they are in the section.  And, by flipping to the front of the book, they can find more information on what sections there are for this service.  At least, I think they can.  My copy of the Mishkan T’filah is a very early and incomplete version from 2005 when I went to the NFTY Nationa Convention.

My point stands that the Hogwarts Haggadah is difficult to navigate and I will tell anyone who wants to use this at their own seder to read it through first and determine what parts you’ll be reading ahead of time.  If you use a standard haggadah you buy at the supermarket (yes, that’s really where my family’s collection of 30 haggadot comes from) you can pretty much read it cover to midpoint (where it switches over from mostly English to all Hebrew) in a reasonable amount of time.  It’s very participant-heavy too, which is a great way to ensure everyone is paying attention throughout the seder.

With the Hogwarts Haggadah, the only time I see participation is after the meal, as part of the Birkat Hamazon, the prayer after the meal.  Given that I was raised on a participation Seder, I’m not that thrilled with the thought of being the only one with a book, but there’s not much point in anyone else having one because of all the excess text.  I’d have to literally tell any participant to “read from here to here” because nothing is well-marked for that kind of thing.  I’m going to have to use my sticky notes to tell myself that so that my family isn’t screaming at me to get on with it so we can eat.

So, my initial read-through of the Hogwarts Haggadah has me fairly leery of what I’ve found.  But, I am reasonably certain that if I do a good job of selecting the parts to use, we can have a nice, themed Seder.  After all, the elements of a standard service are, well, standard.  But the choice of which versions of each prayer, song, and text we use can make a boring service into a transcendant one.  It’s the leader’s decisions that shape the service and determine what people think of it.

Damn right I’m taking a silly, self-published book this seriously.  My disappointment in the reading means nothing in the end.  I want a Harry Potter Seder and I will make it the best Harry Potter Seder I can without rewriting this haggadah myself.

I am tempted though.  Very tempted.

I will probably be printing out the standard short version of the Birkat Hamazon though, and disdaining the longer version in this book.  There’s a call and response section that is not included here that is part of what I’ve memorized and if I print it out, my dad will actually participate with me.  And since I am big on participation, as you’ve noticed, I want to make it easier for him.

Besides, it’d sound really silly if I did the call and response all myself because there’s three phrases I’d be saying twice in a row.

Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up.  I have a bit under two weeks to go through and mark up the book in preparation, and I may need all of it.  Which also means I should probably go lighter in my normal reading to accomodate.  There’s some young adult books I’ve been thinking of revisiting…

By the Fans, for the Fans

Who doesn’t like a bit of light reading to start the weekend off?  At least, that’s what I thought when I grabbed Go Go Power Rangers #6-7.  Seven, of course, being the newest issue that I bought last weekend.  Here we finally see the big reveal to the Power Rangers that the reader has known for a while.  And it is, how cliché, during the Homecoming dance.  Because they are freshmen in highschool and that’s a very typical time for anything important to happen in highschool.

Although the fact that it’s explicitly stated that they’re freshmen is something I take comfort in.  After all, this is a comic book series that has shown itself to try to fit the bones of an old tv show into something modern, but also interesting and based in reality.  So I fully expect that one day, if the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic series is so lucky, we’ll see the rangers graduate and move on to college.  It’s possible that they’ll do like the original TV series and pass their powers on to younger students, but that’s unimportant for the time being.

I expect we won’t see the resolution of this storyline for another two issues at least, since the next issue is going to have a fight scene, but it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out.  The other noteworthy fact about issues 6 and 7 is that we see how Rita…acquired…Squatt and Baboo, her two hapless minions.  I’m still not entirely certain why she kept Squatt, but Baboo is clearly more than the former’s partner in all things dumb.  Neither is on Finster’s level of course, but it is very interesting to learn.

I think this is one of my favorite things about the comic books; that we get to know a lot more about the villains’ backstories and motivations.  They’re not just “the villain” or “the villain’s henchmen” or even “the evil comic relief.”  I mean, they still are comic relief, but now they’re getting more defined as people instead of characters occasionally seen to the side of the screen or frame as Rita screeches at them.

This is the kind of results that you get when something is made by the fans for the fans.  This is why everyone was excited to hear J.J. Abrams was directing The Force Awakens; because he, as a fan of the franchise, would be able to make a better movie than George Lucas, who is clearly more interested in making money off the franchise at this point.  No fan wants to see their fandom go down in flames because executives who care only about money are trying to print it.  We want to see our sequels and prequels and reboots and spinoffs made with the same love we feel for the original material, and that’s what I feel from these Power Rangers comics.  They’re made by people who grew up watching the original series just like I did, and then they were given the opportunity to expand on that start and make it better.  And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Then of course I went and read Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #23-24.  Rita’s back at last, and she’s ready to take things to the next level.  One of Grace’s secrets is brought into the open…and it takes a dark and unexpected turn, which is likely to have serious repercussions.  Issue 24 is marked as the prelude to “Shattered Grid,” which is likely to be a major story event for the series, given that it has an actual name.  And, like any fan, I have to speculate what it means.

“Grid” almost certainly refers to the morphing grid, which is what the power rangers access to morph into their suits.  It is the source of their power, and that of their powers and zords as well.  If their access is cut off, they are stuck with only their human abilities and minds, relying on their intelligence and tactics to win back their powers.  “Shattered,” however, implies that the grid will be seriously damaged or even destroyed.  It seems a little early, but this could be the lead in to a shift in powers.

Saba’s been around as a reminder that around this time in the TV series, Alpha and Zordon were developing the white ranger powers.  However, it should also be remembered that this Saba is not actually from our universe, which makes him a bit of an anomaly.  And, of course, there was Rita’s little trip recently, which showed something major that any fan of the series will remember.

I’m not sure how Grace will fit into those story elements I see coming together from the TV show, but we’re obviously not done with her yet.  Her secrets and her knowledge make her a dangerous person, and the ways she uses both make her a perilous friend to have.  She’s far too cynical for the idealistic young power rangers, who will have to decide what to do about her very soon now.

I am continuing to enjoy this modern reinterpretation and reworking of a chunk of my childhood, and I look forward to watching the stories and sagas unfold.  It does make me wonder if they plan to work this like the TV series did – folding Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers into Power Rangers Zeo into Turbo and then finally into Space for the finale of the original set of seasons.  It was only after space, the Lost Galaxy, actually, that the seasons became more self-contained, with few callbacks to earlier seasons and very few returning characters, if any.

And then there was that crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…

Yes, that really happened.  Go look it up.  It was in Power Rangers in Space.

In other news, amazon delivered again today as promised.  You see, my mom told me that I could lead the first seder this year – the big family dinner will be second seder, but my dad still wants to celebrate Passover as it starts.  I jokingly suggested a particular version of the seder that amazon pointed out a couple months ago.  She, to my surprise, said “do it!”  So I have a new haggadah, and I think I’ll have to read it through once to determine how to lead the seder without it taking forever.

I am pretty excited about this.  It’ll probably turn out like alternate services at camp and through youth group, with a minimum of traditional prayers and readings instead of some of them.  Except that our traditional seder has a lot of English bits and that’s what I’ll probably be replacing while leaving the Hebrew prayers in.  But again, I’ll have to read it first.  And find my block of bookmark sticky notes to mark what’s actually going to happen.

Damn straight I’m going to do this properly.  It may have been over ten years since I last led a full service (other than mourning), but I do still know what I’m doing.