I had to wait for the second printing of the new Ms. Marvel comic after the first imprint sold out, but the silver lining is that issue 2 hit the shelves at the same time and I got to read them together!
So “mainstream” comics have a number of complicated reputation problems – among them women not being well represented, non-caucasian ethnicities and cultures not being well represented. There’s a can of worms discussion around this that I can talk for hours about, but fundamentally I think it’s an audience problem, and the people at Marvel should be applauded for taking a business risk and making an effort at broadening the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of their characters in recent years. I think it may be the key to their survival as a company, since their profit stream is based around licensing characters people admire and associate with.
Enter Ms. Marvel! She’s Kamala Khan, Pakistani-american schoolgirl and fan-fiction writer, who can transform from mild-mannered Muslim girl to powerful shape-shifting superhero. The art is fantastic, a bright and vivid watercoloury style filled with hilarious little background details and clever framing and layouts. My first read took ages to get through, because I just had to stop and drink in every panel. (The trade-off is that the art takes so long it’s only printed monthly, which is a snail’s pace!)
The writing is solid and humorous without being patronizing or preachy. I was really worried this was going to be a “knock you over the head constantly that she’s muslim” thing, but I feel like they’re telling a superhero story with an authentic muslim teen perspective. It’s treated with respectful humour through most of the book - the opening scene has her agonizing over the tantalizing smell of bacon (sure to be her kryptonite in later books). The first book is a bit heavier on her ethnic background than future books probably will be, it’s an origin story after all, but I feel like her Muslim-ness isn’t the point of the story. She’s cheeky, smart, and ready to kick butt.
My only beef is that so far, two issues in, she hasn’t been up to much super stuff! I know, I know, it’s an origin story. Epic storylines take time to develop! She’s got no enemies or disasters to overcome just yet, but as a blank slate, anything could happen!
I’m really looking forward to future issues – she’s a lot of fun and I like her attitude. I hope she’s enough of a financial success to warrant continuing her story. It hit #1 on the digital comics sales side but ran out of first printings on the shelves which limited her sales numbers, last I read she was tracking at #24 (which isn’t great for print sales). Hopefully public interest runs strong for a while, and this isn’t just a fleeting curiousity.
Tags: comics·Ms. Marvel·superhero
The Poutine Festival is on at the university – at lunch a swarm of chip trucks show up on campus to peddle their gourmand variants on the delicious Gravy/Fries/Cheese Curd Quebecois recipe.
Behold the Shwarma Poutine – it’s not going to win any prizes for looks (like something a dog might yack up) but it was an unexpectedly strong contender for my best of the fest pick. The standard trio of fries, curds and gravy make up the base, but our inspired chef threw on chunks of slow-roasted shwarma chicken, fried onions and mushrooms, and a layer of garlic sauce that bled down into the mix. I was cynical at first, but the garlic and gravy were actually a power couple – it was like an explosion of flavour. Word of warning though – you’re going to need the whole box of breath mints when you’re done or everyone’s going to know exactly what you ate.
Tags: garlic·shwarma poutine·uOttawa
While Natasha was shopping for clothes I ran next door to check out “Sail”, an outdoorsy store at the Trainyards in Ottawa. They’ve got a pretty huge space, and have an impressive selection of camping gear, sports clothing and gadgets. I was a bit surprised to see the hunting section upstairs – I’ve seen guns for sale in Canada before (rarely), but usually the hiking and hunting community are separated by their philosophical viewpoints.
The other half of the upstairs area was dominated by fishing – where I learned that, (like any other hobby I suppose,) you can drop multiple thousands of dollars on high-end equipment designed to outwit a creature with a brain smaller than a lentil. I mean compared to a hook with a worm on it, dropping some of these lures in the water must be like deploying the stealth bomber. But man – choose wisely! They have walls upon walls of brightly coloured tackle – It was bamboozling. I was starting to worry this was all a distraction from the giant hook about to snatch me up. First you’re hypnotized by the lures, then a chocolate bar dangles tantalizingly into view…
Our monitor went dead (black screen) a few months back, but I couldn’t shake the suspicion that there was probably some repairable component blown on it, so I kept it around in my workshop planning to “fix” it. Let me state clearly: I have only the most rudimentary self-taught understanding of electronics. I can follow plans and do simple circuit-building, but “fixing” consumer electronics, for me, usually involves poking around with a multimeter, rubbing my chin a lot, and saying “hmmm” until I get frustrated and throw it out.
So this weekend I went way in over my head and studied the board for a few hours, soldered off a pair of suspicious capacitors and replaced them with $0.35 of new hardware. Imagine my surprise when… IT WORKED! ARISE, MY MONSTER! YOU ARE ALIVE!
WOOT WOOT! I am apparently smarter than I look!
I am deeply ashamed to admit that though I’ve spent a large fraction of my life on bicycles, I have never, ever, managed to properly pop and ride a wheelie. Everyone else managed to figure this out when they were twelve – I blame my preference for 10-speeds as a factor in my late unicycling development. All of this is going to change, though, because THIS SPRING, I VOW TO MASTER THE WHEELIE.
Don’t be surprised if you see me this summer riding gangsta style through your neighbourhood on one tire, winking at your mom. (Yes, I am aware that I’m 37 years old.)
I keep the blog family friendly, but I just want to put this out there – I can say with some certainty that you’ve never really lived until you’ve seen a lovely girl with a glitter-covered plunger on her head performing the scintillating dance of the Daleks. Kudos to Loretta-Jean (SFW) of Nerdgirl Burlesque for her far-out performance at the oddly commingled board-games and burlesque night at the Clocktower pub. I never once, even the tiniest bit, considered that human-eradicating garbage cans could inspire that kind of … lasciviousness. CONGRATULATE.
My friend Madeleine and I have signed up for a mini-triathlon in May, and she’s encouraging me to blog about my training efforts. Just general details today, but I’ll do a few follow-ups with specifics as I go along.
I had a lazy winter so I’m trying to ramp up my exercise plan slowly. I’ve been running (jogging, really) on the treadmill downstairs while watching Netflix movies, alternating between 2k uphill and 5k flat runs every 3 or 4 days. I know some hardcore runners who run outside in the winter, but my neighbourhood doesn’t have sidewalks and I don’t want to risk a wipeout on the ice, so until spring I’ll be favouring endurance over speed in my training program.
I’ve been skipping the bike training for now – we have a stationary bike but I don’t like it much, and I figure it’s mostly the same muscle group as the running, so there will be time to train for that closer to May.
Swimming has been fun – I only agreed to do the triathlon because I’d already been doing some swimming over the winter with Natasha, and I really love it. I’m working hard on improving my sloppy technique. I’ve got my face down and I’m reaching better – less plowing and more gliding. Big improvements. (Natasha’s a great swimmer and a great teacher!)
I’m not really anxious about running out of steam during the race, but I’d like to put in a really good time, so that’s my biggest motivator. My biggest obstacle so far isn’t the training – it’s eating. As usual, I’m rapidly losing weight despite carb loading – that’s just my metabolism doing what it does. Trying to find a balance that maintains my body weight while sweating up a workout is slowing down my progress.
I got invited to do some face painting at the community center this morning, and I had a lot of fun. It’s a neat challenge! You’ve got to paint fast on squirmy kids, and the things they want painted are sometimes kindof odd so you need to think fast. We did up a menu of simple shapes appropriate for cheek painting (Balloons, hearts, butterflies, etc) and suggested ideas to shy kids, but we ended up fielding demands for an Eel, cars, a Power Ranger Super Samurai, cotton candy, Spider-Man, Batman, dinosaurs, and this one adorable little girl (maybe four years old) whispered she wanted a black spider (scary please!).
When I was a kid we had those oily face crayons, and they were garbage. Lots of friction on the face, the colours were weak and streaky, and they’d break down as soon as you started sweating and smear all over the place. This afternoon we had a couple of those on the table, but we basically never picked them up – three of us shared a set of brushes and water-based cake facepaints and the difference was like night and day. The paints dried quickly, stayed bright, and were really simple to mix and blend into new colours if we needed them.
I’m thinking about buying a basic kit for summer parties – it was a lot of fun and the kids and parents loved it!
I didn’t take any pictures, sorry. I did a couple I was pretty proud of though, given the constraints.
Tags: community center·face paint
I had a perfect train seat to admire the breaking dawn. Really spectacular morning.
At lunch during the week I stopped into the university library to check out a small exhibition they were doing of work by the Canadian Bookbinder’s and Book Artist’s Guild. A member of the guild, and a former co-worker friend of mine introduced me to her book obsession – she’d tear off the covers of her favourite books and bind them like ancient magical tomes covered in leather and gold foil and gemstones. Really neat stuff.
My favourite on display in the little show at the library was this coptic-bound sketchbook by Shlomo Feldberg made out of aluminum treadplates. Even with aluminum being a relatively soft metal, I imagine it must have been a lot of work to grind out the two matching covers and then bore holes through. I often complain about the weight of my bookbag – I would have liked to pick this one up to see how much of an anchor it is.
Sadly, there were no doodles inside!