Monday, February 29, 2016

Iron Monday tomorrow

Yeah, so I was busy cleaning out my closet today and completely forgot to write today's Iron Monday. So rather than writing it in a rush, I'm just going to do it tomorrow and backdate it.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Library checkouts 2/27/16

So I like to go to the local library a lot and seeing as how this is a book blog, I thought I'd post my checkouts from yesterday's trip.

(via Macmillan)
Kell is one of the last Travelers-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes, connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad king-George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered-and where Kell was raised alongside Rhys Maresh, the rougish heir to a flourishing empire. White London-a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.
I've seen this on the shelf before, but overlooked it since I wasn't sure if it was my type of fantasy. But after seeing it on a few book blogs over on Tumblr, I decided to read a little of it and quickly fell into my 'to be read' queue. I plan on starting it as soon as I finish The Eyre Affair, which will be soon.

(via Amazon)
Hotel Pastis is about Simon Shaw, an ad executive in his 40s who after a divorce and burned out by his clients, ends up in a village in an area of Provence, France called the Luberon. Here, he decides to convert an abandoned police station into the eponymous Hotel Pastis. I never heard of him under yesterday, but Peter Mayle has made a career out of writing fiction and non-fiction about his life in Provence. This is one of those "eh, I'll try it" novels. I don't know if I'll read it or even get around to reading it, but I might as well give it a whirl. I might be a Mayle fan and not even know it yet.

(via books, the universe, and everything)
 I was watching Young Frankenstein on Turner Classic Movies the other night and after it ended, they showed the trailer for the 1985 adaption of A Room With a View. The trailer peaked my interest and I decided a read a few pages of the novel yesterday and right in the TBR queue it went. I'm going to make an effort to read this book this year, if not this time around. I don't often renew books, but I will on this one.

(via The Lesser of Two Equals)
 I can't explain why I decided to check The Master and Margarita out. I've known of it for a while and maybe it was just the title, but I figure it's worth a try.

(via Goodreads)
 Same as the above, I chose this one out of impulse. F. Scott Fitzgerald is known today primarily for The Great Gatsby, but I think that I want to check out his other works instead.

Anything look good to you folks?

Book Nerd Problems: When your book buying options are limited

I live in one of those towns that's small because it's stuck between two larger towns/small cities, and none of the retail outlets see much point in putting a store there. After all, why would you when people can just as easily drive to either of the two cities instead? Combine this with my lack of a driver's license (I neglected to allocate any skill points to Driving for the last seventeen times I've leveled up), and my options for buying books is quite limited.

That's not to say that there aren't bookstores in town. There are four used one and formerly, an indie. Alas, the owner of the indie was forced to downsize, close his store and relocate it to one of those community marketplaces. In other words, he went from a store to a booth. Ouch. To be honest, though, his store barely qualified as a bookstore. It was incredibly small and I'm pretty confident that I have more books on my two metal bookcases than in the entire store. Still, the owner would order books if he didn't carry it, so it was still worth going to for that. I don't suspect he'll be in business for much longer, sadly.

As for the four used bookstores, it's a very mixed bag. There's one near where I live, but the guy who runs it keeps irregular store hours and he charges more than retail for his paperbacks. I understand that used bookstores need to charge more than thrift store prices to survive, but charging nine or more dollars for a used paperback is a bit much, especially if it's not in good condition. I think he makes most of his money from his booth at a local antique mall in any case. Meanwhile, the other three stores are located downtown. Two of them seem to specialize in hardcovers and older editions, and their prices reflect that. Here, I'm not complaining because their prices are justified by their stock. Unfortunately, my book budget is small, so I can only ever peruse and not buy.

Fourth and last of the used bookstores is a new discovery I made about a month ago. Located on the same street as one of the two aforementioned stores, but further down than I normally go, the thing that attracted me to this place was the price: $3.50 for paperbacks and I believe $5.50 for hardcovers. I actually had to do a double take when I saw the sign because those prices are incredible. It's a very small shop, but it's filled with all kinds of books and believe me, had I the money, I would have walked away with a ton of books. Instead, I managed to (barely) restrain myself and made off with two, but I plan on returning again soon.

Of course, I have other local options for buying books, namely thrift stores. The problem there lies in selection. Since they're depended on donations, their stock is too hodgepodge and often lackluster. I can also visit the chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in the two nearby cities, but the opportunities are limited due to personal reasons that I won't get into.

On the other hand, not being able to go to the big chain stores might be a good thing. I used to live in one of the two cities and I went to the B&N and BAM stores probably way too often and bought books that I ended up never reading and giving away. Still, I miss the ability to just walk into a bookstore and buy the book(s) I wanted.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Review: Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus series, book 1) (SPOILERS)

Knots and Crosses is the first book in crime novelist Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus series. First published in 1987, the series chronicles Detective-Sergeant (later, Detective-Inspector) John Rebus as he tries to unravel a variety of crimes in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In Knots and Crosses, the city of Edinburgh is rocked by the abductions and murders of several young girls. The police struggle to find the culprit with next to no clues available and pacify a public that is increasingly screaming for a resolution. Enter John Rebus of the Lothian and Borders Police (which was eventually replaced by Police Scotland in 2013), a man with a haunted past, a broken marriage, and habits that are anything but healthy.

I haven't read much crime fiction, so I don't know how uncommon this is, but what I thought was interesting is that unlike Kurt Wallander, Rebus isn't a high ranking or even a standout police officer. In Knots and Crosses, he's assigned to assist in the investigation of the murders, but is largely relegated to doing door-to-door interviews of potential witnesses and later, to answering phones and going through police files. He's not at the end of the investigation and is just part of the investigative process and I like the realism of it. Typically, if you watch cop shows on TV like Law & Order: SVU or what have you, the detectives on those shows are always out front in the investigation and the actual grunt work by the crime scene investigators, the uniformed police, and other detectives (i.e. not the main characters) are only given token acknowledge and even then, only if it progresses the plot. In Knots and Crosses, however, Rebus's place is firmly set during a staff meeting early in the book. Rebus and the other Detective-Sergeants are seated at the back of the room while the inspectors are at the front. The former are assigned the grunt work and the latter handle the major parts of the investigation.


But let's talk about John Rebus for a moment, because I feel like he's going to become my favorite detective or at the very least, fight it out with Kurt Wallander for the top spot. One of the reasons why I like Rebus is that he isn't a stereotypical great detective. His boss even points out that Rebus is a good cop. Not very good, just good. This is illustrated by the fact that he had been receiving clues from the killer the entire book, but never realized it, instead writing them off as coming from a crank. Even Rebus admonishes himself for not making the connection. Why does this make me like him? Because it's realistic. In real life, detectives will overlook clues and not make connections between one thing and another until later on and it all clicks. Maybe it's just me, but having an amazing detective who can solve the crime on their own is 'meh' to me.

Rebus is also imperfect. He struggles with PTSD throughout the novel and at one point even ends up in the hospital after a psychological break. His condition can be traced back to his time in the army and the SAS, which ended with a breakdown, his discharge and his current job with the Scottish police after his recovery. While it's referenced throughout the novel, we don't find out what caused the breakdown until the last part of the book and it's startling relation to the main plot. Basically, Rebus joined British Army to escape his life and family, before applying for the Special Air Service. Completing that, he and his friend Gordon Reeve were selected for training for an elite unit within the SAS aimed at fighting the IRA in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Unfortunately, the training involved the two being taken "prisoner" and tortured until they break. Rebus survives the ordeal, but suffers a breakdown almost immediately afterwards. Reeve's breakdown is triggered when Rebus abandons him at the end.

And this shared ordeal is directly connected to the main plot because the serial killer turns out to be...Reeve. The whole thing turns out to be Reeve's revenge against Rebus for abandoning him all those years ago. This is where things get a bit over the top. Thanks to an English professor, Rebus and the police discover that the first letter of each victim's first and last name spells out a single name - Samantha, John Rebus's daughter and Reeve's next target. Yup, this whack-a-doodle went around, kidnapping and murdering girls just so he could spell out Samantha. It's a bit out there, but it doesn't wreck the story.

Going back to characters, the biggest and most dominating is Edinburgh itself. Here, you have two cities occupying the same space (but not like China Mieville's The City & The City). On one side, you have the city that tourists journey to: the castles, monuments, and everything else that attracts tourists. On the other side, you have the Edinburgh that tourists don't see or go to. This is the city of crime, death, of bars off the beaten path, drugs, brothels, and all that stuff that makes crime fiction so great. This is the world that John Rebus lives in and Knots and Crosses makes you question whether the two Edinburghs are the two sides of the same coin or worlds apart.

The one character I didn't care for is Jim Stevens, a reporter who dogs Rebus in the novel. Stevens discovers that Michael, John's brother is connected to the Edinburgh drug trade and automatically assumes that Rebus is involved, so spends the novel almost like a conspiracy theorist trying to make a connection that doesn't exist. This doggedness got on my nerves to the point that I was hoping that Stevens was the killer.

In the end, Knots and Crosses is a good start to what is (from what I hear) a great crime series and I can't wait to read the rest of the books.

Overall, I would give Knots and Crosses a solid 9/10. I highly recommend this book whether you're a fan of crime fiction or just getting into it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Programming notes

It's been a month or thereabouts since I "relaunched" Nerd Trash, so I thought I'd give a sort of status update on things. Firstly, the posting itself is going great. This will be the 60th post of the year and 33rd just for February. I've had a few "dead" days where I haven't posted anything, but those are typically days when I'm busy with real world stuff, so those get a pass. Second, I'm ditching Wikipedia Wednesday and Shout-Out Friday. The former just didn't pan out like I hoped it would. I've mentioned in the past about how the "random article" link wasn't exactly bringing me gold nuggets, so I'm just not going to bother with it anymore. I'm leaning towards replacing it with a trivia feature since I like trivia and so do most people. As for Shout-Out Friday, that died in the womb, so to speak. Every time I tried writing a shout-out post, my brainbox would just go blank. I was never hip to it to begin with, so I don't feel bad for dropping it. I'm thinking about replacing it with a girls-oriented feature. I was thinking of calling it Gal Friday or Girl Friday. I keep thinking that another blog I read is already using Gal Friday, but my memory sucks and I'm drawing a blank.

Aside from Wednesday and Friday, I'm pleased as punch with Iron Monday, Off Topic Tuesday, and She-Hulk Thursday and will be keeping those going for as long as possible. I know that I'll run out of material for Monday and Thursday, but we'll cross and siege that bridge when we get there.

Well that was a bit anticlimatic (Flash spoilers)

So yeah, Zoom was finally unmasked in last night's episode of The Flash, "King Shark" and if you haven't seen the episode or the reaction to it yet, then, well, I'll let this Instagram pic give a hint. Beware, spoilers below.



A photo posted by Teddy Sears (@teddysears) on

Yup, Zoom is Jay Garrick or somebody who looks like him. At the end of the episode, it cuts to the helmeted man that Zoom is still holding prisoner. Zoom walks in carrying Jay Garrick's corpse, dumps it unceremoniously on the ground and pulls his mask off while the camera does a slow turn from his back to front, revealing the face of Jay Garrick. He then looks down at the corpse (while the helmet guy is visibly losing his crap) and says "Well, this is a complication".

Here's what disappoints me about the reveal: It was tacked on to the end of what was essentially a filler episode. Yes, the reveal was shocking and dramatic, but it would have had more impact if it had been done while confronting Barry and the rest of Team Flash. Imagine the shock and horror as Zoom pulls his mask off and they all see Jay's face smiling back at them.

Ah, but it does leave us with a big question. Who is this Jay Garrick? Is it even a Jay Garrick at all? Eobard Thawne was able to use a device to disguise himself as Harrison Wells, so who's to say that this Zoom fellow didn't do something similar? The person I'm leaning towards is Edward Clarisse, who was an enemy to Jay Garrick and used the name The Rival. What lends weight to this is Teddy Sears' avatar on Instagram.

Which looks like this:

DC Comics Database.
Very, very interesting. On the other hand, it could be Hunter Zolomon or a combination of him and Edward Clarisse.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Who is Zoom 2: Electric Boogaloo (SPOILERS)

Last week, I did a post about five people who I thought could be Zoom on The Flash and the episode that aired that night, "Escape from Earth-2" narrowed down the list of Zoom's possible alter-egos, but left us with a lot more questions. First, let's start with the eliminations:

Earth-2 Barry can be scratched off as he was always with Wells, Cisco, E2 Iris, and Killer Frost.

I'm also going to go ahead and eliminate E2 Henry. He was a moonshot and was chosen for the potential drama of The Flash having to fight his dad's doppelganger.

I'm not sure about Earth-2 Wally because we never saw him and neither Iris or Joe mentioned him, so it's questionable if Wally even exists on that Earth. He's provisionally eliminated unless new evidence surfaces of his existence.

This brings us to Jay Garrick and his Earth-1 counterpart, Hunter Zolomon. As I mentioned in the first Zoom post, Hunter Zolomon is Zoom in the comics and on one hand that can't be overlooked, but on the other hand, it feels so much like a red herring. That might be the writers' intention, to make Zolomon look like a red herring in order to throw off the comic fans and people who look characters up on Google.


Then there's Jay. Jay, Jay, Jay. He was a bit shady in "Escape from Earth-2" and there were a lot of hints that he could somehow be Zoom. In the previous episode, "Welcome to Earth-2", Jay confessed to Caitlin that Zoom didn't steal his speed like he originally told Team Flash, but rather he'd lost it from taking Velocity 6 to boost his speed. That raised some red flags with me because if he lied about that, then what else is he hiding? Then, in "Escape from Earth-2", he uses the newly created Velocity 9 to restore his speed long enough to save civilians from a building Geomancer collapsed. Claiming exhaustion, he goes to take a rest somewhere in S.T.A.R. Labs, but when Geomancer shows up and attacks Caitlin and Iris, he's nowhere to be found. This is despite Geomancer wrecking the place with his powers. Plus, just before the attack, Caitlin called for him over the Lab's intercom, but he still didn't show up until after Caitlin dealt with Geomancer herself.

Zoom?
Strange, but easily explain if Jay didn't respond because he was on Earth-2 as Zoom! This episode was hinting very heavily about it too. When Barry is captured by Zoom at the end of "Welcome to Earth-2" and taken to his lair, we see both Wells daughter, Jesse, but also a man in a metal helmet. Now, this guy was initially identified by fans as being some guy named Persuader, who in the comics is from Legion of Super-Heroes. But the following episode strongly implied that it isn't Persuader and that it might be something more familiar. Who?

Jay Garrick.

Let me elaborate. Throughout the episode, the guy taps on the transparent wall of his cell over and over again. Jesse thinks that it's meaningless, but Barry realizes that it's the same form of code used by prisoners of war and together, they decipher what the helmeted man is telling them and it's one name: Jay. Barry thinks he's asking about Jay and tells him that Jay's alive, but that only elicits a negative reaction from the helmeted man, almost as if he's trying to tell them something about Jay Garrick, but they're not understanding. And it might be nothing at all, but they also give us a closeup of the side of this guy's head and you can see some of his hair and well, it's the same color as Jay's.

Hmm. So who is this guy? We never see him without the helmet because Flash, Jesse, and their rescuers (sans Killer Frost, who stays behind to hold off Zoom) are forced to flee for their lives before Flash can free him too.

In The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas, the eponymous man is the identical brother of King Louis XIV, so what if there's something similar at work here too? Not an identical twin, but a counterpart, a doppelganger. What if Zoom isn't from Earth-2, but merely traveled there from yet another Earth. After all, Zoom knew about Earth-1 and Barry Allen before the breaches, so it stands to reason that he knew about the larger multiverse too. With that in mind, who's to say that the Jay Garrick who joined Team Flash is from Earth-2? The helmeted man could be Earth-2 Jay and Zoom could be from I don't know, Earth-3 or something. Maybe it is Hunter Zolomon from Earth-1 or a Zolomon from another Earth.

There are problems with this theory, however. First, Geomancer's attack on S.T.A.R. Labs damaged the speed cannon and destabilizing the sole remaining breach to Earth-2. Jay was there during this mini-crisis and helped fix the problem while in the presence of Caitlin, Iris, and Joe. Second, at the very end of the episode while Team Flash is celebrating the rescue of Jesse, their return to Earth-1, and the closing of the final breach, Zoom shoves his hand through Jay's chest (who, god knows why, was standing right in front of the breach) and yanks him through before it closes.

So yeah, problems. My only solution that is that Team Flash's Jay is from Earth-2 and the helmeted man is a Jay from another Earth. Zoom could still be Zolomon because we haven't seen him since "The Reverse-Flash Returns". He could also still be a Jay from an alternate Earth.

Definitely more questions than answers, but the mystery of Zoom's identity is certainly keeping us coming back every week for more clues and answers.

Who do you think Zoom is? Tell me down in the comments.

Zoom may be a murderous supervillain, but even he understands the importance of hydration

I'm not sure whether he's actually drinking or not, but it makes sense that whoever is wearing the suit (since I doubt that Tony Todd is wearing that thing) would be able to while masked up. There's no nose holes in the mask, so he'd have to breathe through those grooves in the mask.

Picture via doc-retro.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Iron Monday #4: Goldmember isn't the only one who likes gold

Out of all of Tony Stark's armors, the Mark I had probably the shortest run of them all. Debuting in Tales to Astonish #39, it was replaced the following issue with the Golden Avenger armor.

The color change was purely aesthetic. Tony's girlfriend at the time, Marion pointed out that the the Mark I's plain grey color was off-putting to the public and mused that Iron Man should have a golden exterior to invoke a "knight in shining armor" vibe. Tony took the advice and wham-o, Golden Avenger.



Sixth panel: That's kind of sexist, Tony.
The Mark II differed from the original in other ways too. The skirt is the most obvious, but the torso armor was also slimmed down so that Tony could wear it under his clothes and not have people go "Holy shit, you're Iron Man!" He added some other gadgets, like a force field generator, loudspeaker, and an upgraded monobeam in the chest.

He was wearing this armor when the Avengers were formed.

Did I mention the aluminum armor he built? No? Well, Iron Man runs into a fella named The Melter who, as his name implies, can melt most metals with a ray gun. For whatever reason, the Melter's gun couldn't touch aluminum, so Tony builds an aluminum

And boy, was he cocky ever about it.
After only eight issues, the Golden Avenger fell to the wayside like it's predecessor. Iron Man battled a man named Mr. Doll and was nearly killed. This lead to the introduction of the first red and gold armor, but that's a post for another day.


Picture sources: 1, 2, 3.

Check out my sweet Spider-Man light thing

It looks better with the lights out.

It was a yard sale find from several years ago. I had it shelved away until yesterday when I decided to set it out. Looks nice.

How about a behind-the-scenes picture of Flash and Supergirl?

A photo posted by Grant Gustin (@grantgust) on



Supergirl/Flash crossover HYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYPE. *blows airhorns, pisses off neighbors*

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Off Topic Tuesday #4: Blogger needs an overhaul

I've been using Blogger since 2004 or 05 and Tumblr since 2010 and in the time I've spent on the latter, I've come to realize that Blogger is in a desperate need of an overhaul. Don't get me wrong, I love Blogger and think it's a great service despite the flaws, but it could be so much better. Here's the problems I see and how they could be fixed:

Lack of community. On Tumblr, if you're a fan of a TV program, movie, book, comic, etc. then you can easily find other fans and become part of that fandom. On Blogger, not so much. Sure, you can search for other people who are also fans of that think you like, but it's a crapshoot because whoever comes up might not actively post about the thing.

The solution here is to replace the current search system with one that can not only show you blogs with similar interests, but posts too. So like if I do a search for say The Flash, I can see who is posting about that show and comic. That not only helps give bloggers wider exposure, but facilitates the formation of cohesive fandoms and makes Blogger more attractive for people looking to get into blogging.




The app, it sucks. No eloquence there, just straight truth. Its functionality is no different than just going to blogger.com and that's a problem. Mobile blogging is a big deal and while the Blogger app lets you make posts on the go, it leaves a lot to be desired.





As you can see, the post editor is behind minimal. There's no ability to attach images or videos, or do much of anything other than adding text. But hey, you can sure as hell bold and italicize that text!

Another problem with the app is that it doesn't let you view other blogs, just your own. Again, this goes back to mobile blogging. The inability to view blogs that you're following or any other blogs is a huge hindrance.

Speaking of followers, a minor gripe I have is that there's actually a limit on how many blogs you can subscribe to. I can understand this being a limitation back before Google took ownership, but now? Not so much. Other social media doesn't limit how many people you can follow on their platforms, so why should Blogger?

Another area that is sore need of improvement is themes. The current batch is fine, but I'd like to see more, including user created themes. It's not a huge deal, but having more options that better fit your blog's aesthetic would only make Blogger even more attractive.

I mentioned social media and one of the things needed in the overhaul is better integration with other platforms. As of right now, you can post articles to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and other Blogger blogs. That's nice, but outside of external methods, there's no way of adding a Twitter, FB, Tumblr, or other social media feed to your blog via a gadget.

Blogger is a great service for long form blogging and compliments the short-form and medium-form platforms of Twitter and Tumblr, but compared to the latter and other services like Medium are unfortunately starting to leave it in the dust and I think a major overhaul would do wonders to put Blogger back near the top.

In an odd and unexpected move, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice will now be an ANIMATED movie

In the end, a bold and wise move.

Picture via Cal's blog.

Who is Zoom? My five choices (SPOILERS)

The biggest mystery of The Flash's second season is the identity of the main antagonist, Zoom. Who's under the mask? They haven't revealed his identity on the show yet, but apparently it's going to happen soon, so in the meantime, here's my five picks (four from Earth-2 and one who isn't) on who it might be.

Barry Allen

While our Barry's Earth-2 counterpart comes off as a total dork, he wouldn't be the first person to put on an act to hide an alter-ego. After all, one of the reasons why nobody suspects Clark Kent is Superman and Bruce Wayne is Batman is because they both put on acts that run counter to their superhero personas. Likewise, the Barry Allen of Earth-2 could easily be acting like a skittish dweeb to keep his double life as Zoom a secret.

It would also be dramatic as hell. Imagine The Flash coming face to face with himself. After all, they say that you are your own worst enemy.



Henry Allen

This would be purely for the shock value. Imagine Zoom pulling off his mask and it's Earth-2 Henry underneath! Imagine Barry having to spend the rest of the season wrestling with his emotions over having to fight and defeat a man who looks exactly like his father. Plus, it would be a nice shoutout to John Wesley Shipp's time as The Flash.

Of course there might be a tiny little problem with this. In "Welcome to Earth-2", Earth-1 Barry talks to his counterpart's mom on the phone and she mentions her and Barry's dad going on a trip to Atlantis for their anniversary. I'm assuming that its Henry she's going with, but on the other hand, what if it isn't? We don't know how different Nora and Henry Allen are on Earth-2, so they might not be married here and she was referring to a second husband.

Wally West

We haven't seen Wally's Earth-2 counterpart yet and that's what initially made me suspicious. Then I started thinking about it and realized that Wally and Zoom have something in common: Speed. They both want to go faster, so what if E-2 Wally's obsession with speed escalated? He became a speedster in the same accident that created the other metahumans or had gotten them later on. Either way, the speed gained still isn't enough and that's why he's trying to steal Barry's speed.

Hunter Zolomon

So this is one of the more interesting options. In the episode "Potential Energy", Caitlin discovers that Jay is slowly dying because of the loss of his speed. She comes up with a possible cure in the following episode, "The Reverse-Flash Returns" that involves replacing his damage cells with fresh ones from his Earth-1 counterpart, but unfortunately, can't find the counterpart and assumes Jay doesn't have one. Jay takes her to the park and shows that he does have one, but on this Earth his name is Hunter Zolomon, due to being adopted by a different family when his mother died.

Now, what's interesting here is that in the comics Hunter Zolomon is the name of...Zoom. Personally, I feel like this might be too on the nose and Zolomon is nothing more than a red herring meant to misdirect the comic book fans and people who google character names. Still, having a character who has the same name as the season's antagonist is something that can't simply be ignored. I'm also wondering if there's any significance to the book Zolomon is reading in the above picture. It's Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I've never read it, so I have no idea if there's a hidden clue there or not.

Jay Garrick

Oh yes, Jay is on the list, make no mistake about that. Why? For two reasons. Firstly, he has the same desire for speed as Zoom has. This led to him taking Velocity 6 in order to increase his speed. Secondly, he lied about how he lost his powers. He originally claimed that Zoom had stolen his powers the night that Jay was sucked into a breach and dumped on Earth-1. However, in "Welcome to Earth-2", he confessed to Caitlin that the loss of his powers was due to taking Velocity 6. It's a strange thing to lie about and caused Team Flash to focus on ways to make Barry faster in order to combat Zoom. Interestingly, Zoom wanted Barry to become faster before he'd take the Scarlet Speedster's speed for his own. Likewise, Jay was taking Velocity 6 because he wanted to be faster. That could easily just to have been from the desire to break the stalemate that existed between him and Zoom, but what if Jay became obsessed with truly being the Fastest Man Alive and when Velocity 6 didn't work out, decided to try other methods?

The question of course is how Jay knew about Earth-1 and Barry? In the season one finale, Barry experienced visions of future events while opening a breach to send Reverse-Flash back to his timeline. Did Jay have similar visions and saw E-1 Barry and how fast he was?

So who is Zoom? We'll just have to wait until he's unmasked to see if any of my choices are right. Hopefully they won't keep us waiting for much longer.

All pictures from the Arrowverse Wiki.

You know you've made it as a sci-fi writer when you're a question on Jeopardy

From John Scalzi's blog, Whatever.

The answer is Redshirts. Not a bad novel and one I would recommend if you like comic novels. It pokes fun at Star Trek, but isn't a parody. The summary explains it better than I can:
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on "Away Missions" alongside the starship's famous senior officers.

Life couldn't be better...until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship's senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members below decks avoid Away Missions at all costs.

Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues' understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is...and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

"Pictures of Mulder and Scully as..." is probably one of the funniest things I've seen on Tumblr

I found a post on a follower's Tumblr last night and it's just great. The post is like a dozen or so pictures that Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny have done together over the years, but each labeled as being something else. Hold on, here's some of my favorites:

Indie album cover.

The Sears portrait. This one killed me.

The true crime cover.

There's more and all of them are funny and worth checking out on my Tumblr (NSFW warning because it sometimes isn't). All credit to the clever people who thought up the captions.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Iron Monday #3: Tony's idea of telepresence differs wildly from Ciscos

Back in the early 90s, Tony Stark wasn't doing so well. First, he'd been shot by an unstable ex named Kathy Dare in Iron Man Vol. 1 #242. He survived, but was left paralyzed. But oh, things got so much worse. A microchip was implanted in his spine, which turned out to be a plot to take control of the billionaire and ended up slowly destroying his nervous system. While all of this was going on, Stark created a version of his of his Mark VIII armor that allowed him to move while wearing it, but when his nervous system began going to pieces, he created the NTU-150 Telepresence Armor, which first appeared in issue #290.


What made the Telepresence Armor interesting was that it was effectively a robot. Stark at this point was bedridden and slowly dying, so donning an suit of armor was no longer an option. Instead, the TA was designed to be controlled via a special headset that transmitted Stark's thoughts to the armor through subspace. The downside was that he was susceptible to feedback from damage the unit took.

I read the issue where he uses the armor to fight something called the Technovore, which ended with the armor's destruction. I also remember reading issue #291 where Tony saves James Rhodes from the Battledroid attack that started in the previous issue and drops off the War Machine armor and together they whoop some serious ass. I always thought it was cool to see the NTU carrying the other armor in a hand dandy case on its back. The armor looks cool as heck, but I think some of the drama was lost since Tony wasn't actually in the armor. Sure, there was the danger of what was left of his nervous system being destroyed by feedback, but considering that he could just cut the connection before the armor takes a fatal hit.



 Picture sources: 1, 2, 3.

Sauron from the X-Men has rather skewed life goals

From Spider-Man & the X-Men #2.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

She-Hulk Thursday #2: She's really playing hardball

Thought you forgot about She-Hulk Thursday, didn't you? Hahaha...I totally did.




Guest starring Red She-Hulk because I never said She-Hulk Thursday was strictly about Jennifer Walters! :V

I dig how meta the writers would get with She-Hulk.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

B-b-b-book haul

I keep forgetting to post my most recent book buys from last Saturday, so here they are:

The names are hard to read on some of them, so here's a list:

Jack of Kinrowan - Charles de Lint
A Killing in Comics - Max Allan Collins
Faceless Killers - Henning Mankell
The Dante Club - Matthew Pearl
Fall of Giants - Ken Follett
Under the Dome - Stephen King
The Illuminatus! - Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
The Relic - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
The Strain - Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I scored these from two different Goodwills and it only cost me $9 combined, sans taxes. I'm reading Faceles Killers now, but I don't know which one I'll read next or if I'll just shovel them into the queue.

See anything you like?

What if Oliver isn't talking about Damian Darhk? (Arrow) (SPOILERS, maybe)

I woke up the other morning with that thought in mind. You know how this season they keep going to Oliver standing in a cemetery in front of a grave and vowing to Barry Allen that he's going to kill somebody? We're all assuming that he's vowing to kill Damian Darhk, the big bad of season 4 and the man responsible for Felicity being paralyzed. But, what if it isn't Darhk? What if Oliver is talking about somebody else entirely? We know that Oliver makes the declaration six months after the season four premiere, but for all we know, that's when the season ends. I'm starting to think Barry's presence was merely a red herring to make us think that Felicity was the one in the grave, but of course she wasn't. So who do I think is the target of Ollie's wrath?

Malcolm Merlyn or an as yet to be introduced baddie. I think it's Malcolm because of all the damage he's done to Thea. After all, he's the one who drugged and used her to kill Sara Lance, which caused Ra's al Ghul to go to war with Team Arrow. This in turn led to Ra's mortally wounding Thea and the latter developing a blood lust after being dunked into the Lazarus Pit. Thea can't break the curse because Ra's is already dead and because she refuses to kill in order to satiate the blood lust, now she's dying. The promo I saw for tonight's episode implies that despite the profession of love he has for his daughter, he's actually okay with her dying. I mean, didn't Malcolm start the war so he could become the new Ra's al Ghul? If Thea's the one in the grave, then that gives Ollie more than enough reason to want to kill him.

As for it being a new baddie, it makes sense if the grave yard scene is taking place at the end of season 4 and whoever Ollie wants to kill is the big bad for season 5.

So, who's in the grave? I have a few guesses: Lyla Diggle, Quentin Lance, Donna Smoak, Thea, or Oliver's son (and man that would be BRUTAL). It could also be Felicity. I know we saw her in the limo after Ollie left the grave and she told him (while crying) to kill whoever Ollie is determined to kill. Buuuuuut how do we know that that's actually Felicity and not some figment of Oliver's mind. I mean, he's clearly wrecked emotionally, so it wouldn't be far-fetched if he's imagining things. Plus, if Felicity is dead, it would be a total and absolute mind frak and the fandom would lose its collective shit.

We'll find out sooner or later.

The Flash 2x13 "Welcome to Earth-2" (SPOILERS)

I think Cisco's face sums up my feelings about this episode pretty well.

(Collider)
Because holy cow, that was one hell of an episode! As the title suggests, this was the ep where Barry, Harrison Wells, and Cisco travel to Earth-2 in order to rescue Wells's daughter, Jesse and stop Zoom. If you like easter eggs, then "Welcome to Earth-2" is going to put you on cloud nine. We get several when the three while traveling through the Speed Cannon to Earth-2:

  • John Wesley Shipps's Flash from the 90s TV show
  • A certain Kara Danvers, whom Barry will be meeting next month
  • Connor Hawke, who is set to appear in a future episode of Legends of Tomorrow
  • Jonah Hex, who I think is also set to pop into LoT
  • A Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring
  • Grodd

None of those are in order of appearance and unfortunately, I missed seeing the last three, but fortunately the internet didn't. I love that they included Shipp's Flash, which was a nice tip of the hat to the actor who went from playing Barry Allen to playing Barry Allen's dad, which is another thing I love about this show. Supergirl's brief cameo is a no-brainer, given the impending crossover. A number of fans on Tumblr said that news of the crossover should have been held back until after this episode aired, since that the news would be that much bigger. The flight ring is the most intriguing out of all of the cameos because of the possibilities it presents. Is the Legion slated to make an appearance on one of the shows? Legends of Tomorrow seems the most logical because of the time travel element. On the other hand, Supergirl has connections to the superhero team in the comics and the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, so that's an option. Could a Legion of Super-Heroes spin-off be on the horizon? Granted, it could have just been nothing more than a tease, but the mind wonders.


So anyways, Barry, Wells, and Cisco arrive on Earth-2 and naturally the Earth-1ers are mindblown by everything they see. Earth-2 is interesting as it's a blend of the 21st century and the 1940s. They have the tech of the former (for the most part), but things like telephones look like they came from the '40s. It's strange, given that they have things like apps and smart watches. The biggest difference between the two Earths are the "dopplegangers", what Cisco calls their Earth-2 counterparts. We know that from the promo materials that Caitlin Snow and Ronnie Raymond are Killer Frost and Deathstorm on Earth-2, but what of Barry, Iris, Joe, and Cisco himself? Well...

Barry is still a CSI, but he's a total dork. He's doesn't appear to be a speedster, but he's still on my forthcoming list of people who might be Zoom. Oh, and he's married to Iris, so there's that. Earth-1 Barry switches places with him after Wells knocks him out.

Iris is a police detective with the Central City Police Department. She dabbled in journalism, but decided to follow in her grandfather's footsteps.

I said Iris followed in her grandfather's footsteps, rather than her dad, because on Joe isn't a cop on Earth-2, he's a jazz club singer. Another departure is that he doesn't like Barry's doppleganger and the feeling is mutual. He blames E2 Barry for Iris being a cop, because he thinks she only did it to help put Barry through school.

Another huge difference between the Earths is that Barry's mom is still alive on Earth-2, which leads to an emotional scene where E1 Barry gets to talk to his mom's E2 counterpart. Barry got to talk to his mom again and Grant Gustin played it so well.

I want to stop for a second to talk about some more easter eggs, because like I said, this episode was rich in them:

  • The Central City PD HQ has a wall mural that says "A Free and Just Society for All". Possibly a reference to the Justice Society of America, Jay Garrick's team in the comics?
  • Earth-2 Barry has Bruce, Hal, and Diana on his speed dial. Those of course are the secret identities of Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman
  • Atlantis exists, which means Aquaman might too

Back on Earth-1, Caitlyn creates a new version of Velocity 6 called Velocity 7. The former was a drug created by Jay to boost his speed, but in fact caused him to lose them. Yeah, turns out he lied about Zoom stealing his speed. Jay uses Velocity 7 to try and help stop a metahuman from his Earth called Geomancer, but the drug is only partially successful and Caitlyn later mentions that she'll start working on Velocity 8 next. Now what I didn't know is that in the comics, there's a drug called Velocity 9 that was created by Vandal Savage, so this is another easter egg.

Jumping back to Earth-2, Killer Frost and Deathstorm are introduced and decide to hunt down the breachers from Earth-1. Can I just say that these two look awesome as dicks?

(via TV.com)
Danielle Panabaker was really good at playing a supervillain and I'm glad we got to see Killer Frost finally show up. One gripe though is that I wish her outfit had featured an ice motif of some kind, like blue and white coloring or something. Oh well. Killer Frost and Deathstorm both live up their names, as both show in this episode that they have zero qualms about taking lives, with the former murdering some crooks and the latter mortally wounding E2 Joe. Meanwhile, Cisco creates a device to neutralize the two until he can figure out how to activate his "vibe" powers on Earth-2. This leads to a showdown between Killer Frost and Deathstorm on one side, and Iris, her partner Floyd Lawton (yes, her partner is Deadshot, but amusingly on this Earth, he can't hit the broad side of a barn), and Cisco on the other.

And thaaat's when Cisco finally comes face to face with his doppelganger and surprise, surprise, he's a supervillain too. Here, he's called Reverb and not only is he Zoom's right hand man, but he's also developed his powers beyond just precognition.

Arrowverse Wiki.
He's basically has powers similar to Cisco's comic book counterpart and apparently Reverb was a name he used in the comics too. The interaction between the two Ciscos was interesting because Reverb tries to lure Cisco over to the dark side, or as he puts it, trying to "Cloud City Vader" him. A Star Wars ref out of nowhere. I like it. Unfortunately for Reverb and Deathstorm, they both screw up royally. Naturally The Flash intervenes to save Iris, Lawton (who honest to god fires at Reverb point blank and misses), and Cisco, only to be whammied by the two villains. Killer Frost tries to warn them away from killing Barry, but ignore her and incur Zoom's wrath as a result. Deathstorm dies pretty easily given his powers and so does Reverb, for all of his bravado about killing Zoom and taking over Central City himself. Killer Frost is spared and flees distraught at the death of her love, Ronnie. Zoom then kidnaps Barry and takes him to wherever he's holding Wells's daughter, Jesse.

So yeah, things are looking pretty bleak by episodes end. Barry is the prisoner of Zoom, who wants Barry's speed for his own. At the same time, Caitlin and Jay are supposed to close the last rupture to Earth-2 if Barry and Cisco don't return in X amount of time and the clock is ticking closer and closer to that. The promo for the next episode, "Escape from Earth-2" shows Cisco and Earth-2's Barry, Iris, Wells, and Killer Frost coming together to rescue them.



"Welcome to Earth-2" is just such an amazing episode and this post honestly doesn't even do it justice. I'm hyped for "Escape from Earth-2" and I cannot wait until we finally learn Zoom's identity this season.

Wikipedia Wednesday #3: I'm on a boat!: The Bougainville-class aviso

From the Wiki.
The Bougainville class was a type of colonial aviso or sloop of the French Navy of the 1930s that were designed to operate in remote locations of the French Empire.

The ten ships of the Bougainville class were built from 1931 to 1940 in various French naval yards. The ships were designed to operate autonomously from French colonies in Asia and Africa with a capacity of 297 tons of diesel, giving an endurance distance of 13,000 nautical miles (24,000 km). Their shallow draught allowed them to operate on large rivers, while carrying an infantry company. In this respect they were an improvement over existing gunboats.
Not much to say about this, really. Everything else that clicking "Random article" brought up was either too brief or boring. Plus, I like warships anyways, so this worked well.

Truth be told, Wikipedia Wednesday isn't as fun as I thought it would be. I didn't factor in how many tiny and uninteresting articles I'd get. Oh well, I'll keep it chugging as long as possible, or at least until I come up with a better replacement.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Off Topic Tuesday #3: Ad blocking

I thought I'd talk about ad blocking on the internet and whether it's right or wrong. This was sparked partly because of something I heard in a podcast I listened to last year, wherein the people on the 'cast were talking about Marco Arment, the co-founder of Tumblr and creator of multiple apps, who had created a hugely successful ad blocking app for Apple's Safari browser, then pulled it after two days because it made him feel guilty.
Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have. Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit.

Peace required that all ads be treated the same — all-or-nothing enforcement for decisions that aren’t black and white. This approach is too blunt, and Ghostery and I have both decided that it doesn’t serve our goals or beliefs well enough. If we’re going to effect positive change overall, a more nuanced, complex approach is required than what I can bring in a simple iOS app.
As you can see, his problem wasn't necessarily with the blocking of ads itself, but that his app, Peace, was more of a sledgehammer than a scalpel. I agree with his opinion here because while I favor ad blocking, I don't believe it should be unilateral. You can read about his ad blocking ethics here, if you wish.

Why I ad block

As I said, I'm in favor of ad blocking and have been ever since I discovered the Adblock extension. The first thing I do after installing Firefox on a new computer is slap Adblock Plus on it. It's not that I hate internet adverts, I'm just wary of them for a couple of reasons:

1. They can be annoying and intrusive. I've been online since like '98, so I've been around ad banners for a good little while and possibly, this is the reason for my pro-blocking views. The 90s and 00s were a terrible time when it came to banners because they were just so annoying. Imagine trying to read something on a website and having a banner flashing in the corner of your eye. I know ad banners have come changed since then, but even today, I'll come across ones that are only a few steps above those aforementioned disasters. If you want people to stop blocking ads, then make them less intrusive. Video ads are just as bad. I've watched YouTube on my phone and tablet and while I have gotten some not terrible and pretty interesting ads, most are irrelevant and annoying to me and my interests. I don't know how common it is, but there have been a few times when YouTube will just up and decide to run an ad right in the middle of the video. Like literally just cuts right to it, then back to the video after it's done. Imagine having that happen in a movie theater? People would be massively pissed off and rightly so.

Out of all the ads I encountered back in the 90s and 00s, pop-ups were without a doubt, the most annoying. I'm pretty sure if Dante Alighieri were alive today, he'd have added an eighth circle of Hell just for whoever created pop-up ads and the people who proliferated them across the web. How bad were these things? Well, the fact that all browsers have long since added a feature to block them by default is a pretty good indicator.

2. Not all ads are safe. I'm no computer expert and I'll be the first to admit that, but I've heard about how ad banners can be used to slip adware and malware into a person's computer and that's obviously something to avoid. I grok that that probably only happens on less than reputable and not even work safe websites, but just the awareness that it's possible for that to happen makes me not at all willing to run without an ad blocker.

3. Privacy. A lot of ads nowadays are generated based on your searches and browser history and that bothers the hell out of me. It's creepy, to be honest. I mean, if you go to your bank's site to check on something, you'll suddenly get ads for online banking. I know that it's probably just a one-way thing and whoever on the other end of the ad service can't (hopefully) know where and what you do on the internet, but it comes off as being nosy and a violation of privacy.

Exceptions

Now there are exceptions to my ad blocking stance because one size certainly does not fit all. I acknowledge and respect that people only have ads on their websites and blogs because they need to generate revenue in order to cover the costs of having a website and blog (since not everybody wants to use Blogger and other free services). I grok that and so in the case of the ones not owned by a media company, I'll gladly disable Adblocker if I plan on frequenting them. In fact, I've come to see that as my own seal of approval and it's the second thing I do after bookmarking them.

And you know how I complained about YouTube's ad videos? Well, I'm a bit of a hypocrite in that regard because I don't mind them if I'm watching an episode of TV show online. If I miss or have to skip an ep the night it airs, I'll try and catch it online, usually with the network's app if they have one. In those cases, there's no way to block the ads, but as I said, I don't mind them in that case. I'm used to commercials when I'm watching TV and they're useful for bathroom breaks or the quick snack run, so they serve a purpose in that case. Obviously, with online videos, I can just hit pause just the same, but years of TV viewing has made me use to them, so it's not a problem.

Solution

So what's the best solution for user apathy towards ads? Several, actually. First, made ads less annoying and intrusive. I get that they have to catch people's attention and entice them to click, but surely that can be done in a way that's not off-putting. Second, make it customizable the kind of ads that people see. There's no point in someone who's interested in cars to see an ad banner for makeup or the latest haute couture and vice versa. I'm aware that ads can be generated based on the websites you've been to, but as noted earlier, there are privacy issues I have with that. Instead, I think people should be able to choose what kind of ads they want to see, based on their own personal interests. So like the car-head would only see ads for cars, while the fashionista only sees ads for clothes and makeup vendors, and so on and so forth. If, IF this became a thing, then I would have absolutely zero problems with letting go of Adblock and so would others, I think. Obviously, not everybody, but enough to make customized ads a worthwhile solution.

In the end, it's 2016 and internet advertisers need to evolve with the times and change the way they run ads so that everybody benefits.

I can't believe The Brady Bunch only ran for 5 seasons

I never realized this until like a year and a half ago when I looked up Wikipedia's article about The Brady Bunch to see what the final episode was and then found out that this famous show that has never been off the air and holds a place in the annals of pop culture only ran from 1969 to 1974. Surprised me, because I always assumed that the show ran for much longer because of how old the Brady kids looked at the end of the show's run. Hold on, I think some visuals will help here:

Season One.

Season Five.
It's surprisingly difficult to find pictures of the famous 3x3 grid, but these will work. As you can see, the Brady kids grew fast in those five years. No idea how old he really was, but Barry Williams (Greg) looks like he's somewhere in his twenties. I think fashion also had a hand in making the show's run seem longer. The first season, their clothes are traditional white bread style and closer to Leave It to Beaver attire. Then as the show progressed into the 70s, the wardrobe changed to what was hip at the time. I mean, damn, Mike went from straight hair to curly! Another factor is that I've never watched every episode of The Brady Bunch and especially not in the order they aired, so going from straight-laced to groovy, I just figured that it was on TV for more than five years.

In case you're wondering, by the way, the final episode of The Brady Bunch is the one where Bobby tries to make money by selling hair tonic and it turns Greg's hair orange when he uses some of it. Yup, they ended the show on a high note.

I guess nobody's angel is a centerfold anymore: Playboy ditches nudity (sort of)

My blood runs cold
My memory has just been sold
My angel is the centerfold
Angel is the centerfold
-- "Centerfold", The J. Geils Band.

So yeah, there was a lot of buzz on the internet about Playboy's decision late last year to ditch their nude spreads and centerfolds and here's the cover to the first issue since then.

(via US Weekly)
It's meant to be a send up to Snapchat, but also a thumbing of the nose at the ubiquity of nudity on the internet, which was the reason why Playboy moved on from nudity. The lovely lass on the cover, by the way, is Sarah McDaniel. And what of the Playmate of the Month? Apparently it's sticking around, but will lack nudity for the most part. I had to italicize that for emphasis because while there will no longer be straight-up nudity like in days past, it doesn't mean that the ladies posing in the magazine will always be clothed, but if they do pose nude, it'll be covered strategically. It's not unlike how other magazines like Vogue and such will do photoshoots of celebs in the buff with their bits and bobs covered by a well placed limb or prop.


By the way, the Playmate for March is Dree Hemingway.


Her great-grandfather was some famous writer, a bloke named Ernest Hemingway. Never heard of him, but apparently he was a big deal[1]. Anyways, Dree Hemingway's pictorial illustrates the strategic nudity avenue that Playboy is taking. There's two nude pictures of her: one where she's walking away from the camera, but with her left arm obscuring her butt crack. You can still see the cheeks, but it's about as much as you'd see were she wearing a bikini. In the other nude, she's facing the camera, but slightly bent and covering her breasts and southern region with her hands. Considering Star Trek: Enterprise featured a scene where one of the female characters covers herself similarly and it didn't get cut from the episode, I doubt that will ruffle many feathers or violate Playboy's new rule.

So what do I think about Playboy's new changes? I totally agree with them. Nudie mags are obsolete, given that anybody with even a 56k modem can easily google nude pictures and more on the internet. Expecting someone to lay down however much the cover price is just to look at breasts, derrieres, and vaginas certifiably ludicrous. At the same time, Playboy has always been so much more than a nudie mag. If they were just that, then the magazine would never have established a place in popular culture like it has and Hugh Heffner wouldn't be the icon that he is. You know the joke "I only buy it for the articles"? Well, that was a pretty legit reason for buying Playboy. Behind the nude pictures, Playboy is a literary, political, and cultural magazine all rolled into one. In the case of the former, quite a few famous writers have had short stories published or their novels serialized in it. It's a political magazine because it never shied away from publishing articles concerning current and political events that were relevant. Finally, it's a cultural magazine for all of the interviews it has done with all sorts of famous folks, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. By ditching the nudity, Playboy is simply transitioning to what it has been since its inception, a quality magazine no different than the other periodicals that grace the racks everywhere else.

One final note: If you want to see more pictures of Sarah McDaniel or the rest of Dree Hemingway's Playboy spread, GQ and Playboy have them on their sites. And as always, be sure to leave your 2 cents in the comments below.

[1]: Yes, of course I know who Ernest Hemingway is. Just because I don't read much outside of sci-fi and fantasy doesn't mean I'm an literary illiterate.

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