Pierce Pioneer

International Author Discussion: A Closer look with Fabienne Josephat of Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow

Fabienne Josaphat brought Haiti’s Prison Break story to the college

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On Nov. 2, the International Education Department Pierce College held an author discussion with Fabienne Josephat of Dancing in the Baron's Shadow. It was held in the performance lounge of the Cascade Building.

 

From Florida International University, Josephat completed her creative writing degree with a Masters in Fine Arts. She has brought many of her characters to life through her writing, such as MiamiZine and The Caribbean Writer. On Feb. 9 of this year, Josephat’s first work, Dancing in the Baron's Shadow, was published.

 

Placing the reader in Haiti around 1965, the book tells its readers about L'Eveillé’s brother’s Fort Dimanche Prison Break, which is corrupted by an awful militia. Josephat covers her writing as well as background information concerning Haiti’s suffering under Francois Duvalier, the dictator, who is also known as Papa Doc.

 

The discussion is free event, and students are welcome to join without a registration. Josephat currently resides in Miami as devoting herself to writing.

DC’s ‘Rebirth’, a hopeful sign of good things to come

With the 80-page one-shot, DC promises to return their famous heroes to their roots, but whether it’s a true return to form or just another flaccid attempt is yet to be completely seen

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“I look down at it and know without question: I love this world.  But there’s something missing.”

Those are among the first words in the opening narration of the “DC Universe: Rebirth #1” one-shot issue, which sets the tone for the shared universe going forward.  

The theme, as said by the one-shot’s writer as well as the new “Rebirth” initiative’s overseer of sorts, Geoff Johns, is bringing back the characters back to their roots of hope and optimism he felt DC had been missing in previous years.  And it could be seen as a strong gesture, since a lack of levity in both the company’s comics line and the films produced with their famous characters has been a common criticism for some years.

The story within the one-shot itself not so subtly works the angle, with the common criticisms from fans (the lack of hope, optimism, and legacy) being a literal plot point: some god-like being has stolen time and altered the DC universe itself with the intention to do just that: weaken its heroes by removing their experience and connections.  

At times, the narration (told from the perspective of Wally West, protege and eventual successor to Barry Allen, the Flash, and one of the “lost” legacies), feels very on the nose regarding the issue’s themes.  It’s easy to see that Johns is speaking directly to the reader through the voice of Wally West, and at times it feels that he is trying too hard to pander to the audience.  It feels as if the story is itself an apology letter, in an overly clingy, “baby come back” way.

However, in a story that juggles lots of plot points and teases for what’s to come, as well as being overly sentimental at points, it is still tightly plotted and well told.  Though Johns’ earnestness may come on strong, it feels genuine, and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement about what’s happening with him.

This is a bit of a double-edged sword, though, as some may feel that the one-shot story is merely a series of short teasers for other upcoming comics, rather than telling its own story.  

Even so, it does that teasing well: the short pieces we see of classic heroes returning to the roots they’re well known for is enticing, and there are individual moments that tug strongly on the heartstrings, particularly one near the end when Wally’s salvation finally arrives after all hope for his return seemed lost.

Outside of some more minute references to stories past, new readers won’t have much trouble when reading this issue either, despite all its setup.  What’s going on and who’s who is explained succinctly and sufficiently, in a way that doesn’t break the flow of the plot, making it an enjoyable reading experience for both new and old fans.

What’s sure to be the more divisive part, though, is the ending twist: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic “Watchmen” is now, in some way, apart of the main DC universe itself.

It’s easy to see how this plot will be controversial, and not sit well with many.  “Watchmen” is well-regarded as one of the best works in the medium, and attempts at adding to it with a film adaptation and the “Before Watchmen” prequels have largely fallen flat.  

The mere idea of grafting on the story to DC’s main canon may be sacrilege for many, and perhaps understandably.  Unfortunately, even looking past the baggage the story and characters of “Watchmen” carry, it’s hard to say whether or not this plot is good or bad.  The issue ends on a very blatantly dangling hook for readers.  Little is explained, leaving only mysteries.  

It’s clear DC wants its readers to stick around and watch closely when the events unfold, but that leaves a conundrum.  It’s hard to know what to think about the reveal right now because so little is revealed, leaving only a feeling of “wait and see” and “boy, would it be bad if they screw this up.”

But the bottom line is this: Is “DC Universe: Rebirth #1” worth the money?  Even if one finds themselves not enjoying the story, it’s still 80 pages of very well executed artwork by some of DC’s top talent: Gary Frank, Ethan van Sciver, Ivan Reis, and Phil Jimenez, their outstanding pencils enhanced by the colors and inks of Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, HI-FI, and others.  

And for the price of $2.99 (the price DC plans to stick to for almost all their single issues going forward,) that’s a steal.

So picking it up is recommended.  Maybe those once-loved heroes really are coming back, in full force.

Girl on the Train Review: A Suspenseful Story of Mistrust and Mystery

The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins brings an air of fear and secrets in this thrilling narrative

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For those who enjoyed Gone Girl (2012) or its blockbuster film adaptation, meet its younger, alcoholic sister, The Girl on the Train (2015). Though not actually related, The Girl on the Train sets a familiar stage: a thriller, set in the suburbs that is propelled by unreliable narrators, and it just so happens to be slotted for cinematic release later this year. Rachel’s inability to conceive and subsequent divorce have left her in a lonely, desperate place. Her anguish is apparent as she sits on a London-bound train several mornings a week and waits to pass her old street, hoping she might catch a glimpse of its happy residents.

One day, on the train, Rachel sees something odd, but what was it? And now a young woman on the very street she once lived is missing. Her crippling alcoholism and inability to remember important events thrusts her into the mystery of what happened that day. If she could just manage to stay sober long enough to clear her head and retrace her steps she might be able to remember something crucial she witnessed.

Hawkins carefully weaves the stories of flawed, but relatable characters and readers will root for Rachel. They will root for her sobriety and for her to find inner peace whilst searching for answers.

The Art of Pretending to be a Grown up

YouTube star’s how to guide to adulthood

YouTube sensation Grace Helbig, from “It’s Grace”, has published a book. Helbig is one of the few YouTuber’s to make a franchise off of their name and publish a book in the past year.

In this “how to” self-help book, Helbig discusses young adult issues like job interviews, first dates, and how to throw an adult party. While her answers to these questions is what you would expect from allure magazine, Helbig adds a bit of her own humor and life experiences to her explanations to keep readers interested and entertained.

The most profound advice Helbig has to offer her readers is career advice. She explains that she is known to be “workaholic”, and was unaware of the toll it took on her until she was so emotionally, and physically exhausted from over committing herself to too many things.

As an audience member of YouTube, fans don’t really see the effort and hard work that goes into filming and editing daily videos. Helbig dabbles in her personal life and how the stress of maintaining her YouTube image led to her struggling with anxiety. She also provides some proactive approaches to dealing with anxiety.

Fans of Daily Grace love and adore Helbig’s mother, and are delighted by her appearances in Grace’s videos from time to time. So Helbig incorporated her mother into the book, by quoting a sentence of her “mother’s words of wisdom” at the end of each chapter.

Not many Youtubers choose to bare it all with their fans, but Helbig has, and even more so dared to print it in a book. While The Art of Pretending to be a Grown Up is not a biography, it is a witty read that gives insight to a more tangible side of Grace Helbig and explores the journey of a young adult.

 

Green Arrow hits his mark in Vol.5 of comic relaunch

Oliver Queen’s badass alter ego, Green Arrow, has been busy, from CW’s “Arrow” on TV to the “Trinity War,” an 11-issue comic book story arc.

His new start in The New 52 (a relaunch by DC Comics of its entire line of superhero books) was a bit rocky – that is until Green Arrow Vol 5: the Outsiders War. This is where the new writers and new artistic team stepped in and took over. Jeff Lemire is the writer, Andrea Sorrentino is the artist and Marcelo Maliolo is the colorist.

The new team starts out tackling huge characters like Shado, Komodo, Robert Queen, and several other big Green Arrow characters. The comic starts out on a bit of a tangent during the events of the Riddler’s attack on Gotham that took place during Batman: Zero Year.

Moira Queen is stuck in a Queen industries Gotham building during a massive power outage and rioting in the streets. The rioting that spills into the building puts Moira’s life in danger. Then comes in the recently returned Oliver Queen in a green hood, with a bow and arrows.

He saves his mother’s life but also meets Gotham’s dark knight, Batman. This is Queen’s first real night as a vigilante and Batman can tell that he is acting like an amateur. There is not a lot of dialogue but what is there is snappy.

The actual story begins with a more experienced Oliver Queen and his full team Arrow. Shado breaks into the “Arrow Cave” and tells Queen that they must return to the island where he was shipwrecked and received his training.

At first he is reluctant but they go in search of the Arrow totem, an item of great power and sought after by several powerful players.

There they meet a man long thought dead, but to find out, read Green Arrow. This book is fantastic and definitely better than the other 4 volumes of the new 52 Green Arrow.

‘ Flashpoint’ creates an altered DC Comics universe

The New 52 (DC Comics’ 2011 relaunch of their line of superhero books) began with “Flashpoint,” a crossover story arc that concluded with a radically altered DC universe, the basis of The New 52.

  One of the great ideas that comics have been exploring is the multiverse, where anything can happen. This story follows the Flash after he ran back in time and saved his mother from being murdered, and in doing that created a time boom that shifted events just slightly, but enough.

Thomas Wayne is Batman, Martha is the Joker, Superman is locked in a government facility and Wonder Woman and Aquaman are on their way to destroying the world from their war.

The world Flash comes back to is much worse off than the one he left, especially as he now has no powers.

To get his powers back he has to join up with Batman to recreate the experiment that gave him his powers. Once he is back to normal, the Flash decides that he has to help this world, but in order to move fast enough to go back in time he has to find the other speedster syphoning energy from the Speed Force, Reverse Flash.

This adventure shows off a new world and new stories and each one is as thought through as the main universe. As always there is some great action and several emotional moments, such as when Thomas Wayne gives Flash a letter to give to Bruce which brought some tears to Batman’s eye.

The writing style of Geoff Johns always brings a dynamic and interesting story , but this one creates a whole new world and it gives us the opportunity to see a bit more of the darker sides of our favorite heroes, and even a good side to some of the villains such as Lex Luthor, Clayface, and Deathstroke.

There also is an animated version of this comic called “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.” The story has a few  changes  but it worked fantastically. Flashpoint is a great comic and a thrilling  adventure.

Flashpoint takes us back

The Flash creates the new universe

Now the New 52 has been going on for a few years but this week we go to the event that started it, Flashpoint. One of the great ideas that comics have been exploring is the multiverse, where anything can happen.  This story follows the Flash after he ran back in time and saved his mother from being murdered, and in doing that created a time boom that shifted events just slightly, but enough.

Thomas Wayne is Batman, Martha is the Joker, Superman is locked in a government facility and Wonder Woman and Aquaman are on their way to destroying the world from their war. The world Flash comes back to is much worse off than the one he left, and on top of all this he has no powers.

To get his powers back he has to join up with Batman to recreate the experiment that gave him his powers. Once he is back to normal, the Flash decides that he has to help this world, but in order to move fast enough to go back in time he has to find the other speedster syphoning energy from the Speed Force, Reverse Flash.

This adventure shows off a new world and new stories and each one is as thought through as our main universe. As always there is some great action and several emotional moments, like when Thomas Wayne gives Flash a letter to give to Bruce which brought some tears to Batman’s eye.

The writing style of Geoff Johns always brings a dynamic and interesting story , but this one creates a whole new world and it gives us the opportunity to see a bit more of the darker sides of our favorite heroes, and even a good side to some of to some villains like Lex Luthor, Clayface, Deathstroke.

There is also an animated version of this comic called Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. The story has a few  changes  but it worked fantastically. Flashpoint is a great comic and a thrilling  adventure.

Spiderverse: a World to Marvel in

A Graphic Novel series that brings Spider-man back to our universe

The spider-verse is an intense tangled web of multidimensional beings surviving by eating the souls of those who hold the power of the spider, or spider totems as they’re referred to. But to us it means spider-men and women from across the multiverse. This multiverse is woven by the master weaver, slave to the multi-dimensional beings. This family is composed of the most powerful beings in nearly every universe.

The father is Solus, the mother is dead and unnamed, but the real villains start off to be the children of these two. Sons, in  descending order of age, Thanis, Malos, Morlun, Daemos, (believes himself responsible for the death of his mother) Karm, the estranged one, and lastly Jennix. The sisters are twins, Malos, Mortia, then the younger under Morlun, Bora, and the older to Jennix, Verna.  Morlun is the main antagonist for most of the story.  He is particular about his spiders and is saving the most spider-totem populated universe, universe 616. The hunt for the spider-totems has been going on for thousands of years but now the danger is more imminent. The spiders from across the multiverse are uniting to end the hunt.

There are two major comic arcs in the spider-verse, The Amazing Spider-man and the Superior Spider-man. The Superior spider-man story however, is more of a supplementary story arc, chronicling the uniting of even more spiders.  And for those who are unaware, the common storyline followed with the amazing spider-man takes place on earth 616.

The variety of spider-people gives this expansive and complex story plenty of cool dynamics to explore, from the spider-man of the first animated series, spider-ham, noir, steampunk spider-lady,  Miles Morales, 2099, all of them are just as witty as the original which makes for hilarious banter. Because the story jumps between universes the art style is various but each style is different in either subtle ways or huge ways which makes the readers feel more like they are in a different universe. It makes the story more and more interesting.

The amazing spider-man storyline is the main arc, the Superior is the supplemental addition to this spider-verse adventure, I definitely recommend this to fans of the earth 616 or any other friendly neighborhood/ or interdimensional Spider-man

 

Not That Kind of Girl

Lena Dunham- Not that kind of author either.

As the title states Lena Dunham is “Not That Kind of Girl” and evidently she’s not that kind of author either. In the preface of this book Ms. Dunham explains that the book will not be an advisory book but, a collection of her stories, telling readers of weird and unusual situations she’s gotten herself into. While she claims that most stories don’t end in “that’s the morale of the story sagas”, she certainly doesn’t hold up to fully telling any of the stories fully either.

The book is filled with abrupt story endings, that don’t even have clear intros or beginnings. The style of writing was jumpy and inconclusive. The reader seems to think that if they continue to the next chapter maybe they’ll find a piece of information they were missing in the previous chapter but that doesn’t happen. Collectively the book is just 288 pages of nonsense, not to mention the five pages with back to back nutritional diet logs for a chapter.

If anything this book would appear to be a compilation of bad comedy sketches, mixed with personal memorabilia that only exposes and humiliates the author. Throughout the book though a supporting theme is an unsatisfactory adolescent sex life, which was meant to draw readers in and add reliability, but personally it made me feel sorry for her.

In the first few chapters that she mentions her college sexual experiences and its’ as if Ms. Dunham has never been informed about mutual consent. In one chapter she writes waking up to partner not using a condom, as if it were funny and only later states that her friend told her she was raped and she laughed out loud. Comedy maybe Ms. Dunham’s job, but things that will never be funny are rape jokes/sketches and making light of rape.

“Not that kind of Girl” is a few years worth of her dairy entries that shouldn’t have been published. The train of thought was sloppy, the story structure wasn’t fluid, and lastly rape was not seriously addressed. This book is not funny or worth the read.

0-5 stars

 

Book Review: “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban”

malalaMichael Parks Contributing Writer

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old boy in Pakistan sacrificed his life when he scuffled with a suicide bomber intent on blowing up the boy’s school. The teenager grabbed the bomber, who then detonated his vest.

It is reminiscent of another brave Pakistani named Malala Yousafzai, whose compelling autobiography recently was acquired by the college’s library.

When one views the video on YouTube of Malala, on her 16th birthday last July, standing before the United Nations, crying out, “Here I stand!” to the Talib who tried to kill her, it is hardly believable that this is the same girl who just months before was in a hospital bed fighting for her life. The hand of the loser who shot her was shaking so badly that only one of the three shots he fired struck his intended victim. The bullet entered through her left eye, traveled down her neck and stopped next to her shoulder blade.

Although the bullet had not entered her brain, it had impacted the brain with bone fragments that caused her brain to swell. Doctors removed a section of her skull to allow the brain to expand and later replaced it with a steel plate.

She survived, and instead of silencing this young girl, the attempted murderer catapulted her onto the international stage, exponentially ramping up her already voluminous voice.

Currently living in Birmingham, England, where she recuperated from her wounds, Malala has written a book that is rich in the history, tradition, and culture of her people, the Pashtuns, an ethnic group with populations primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

She has dedicated her book to “all the girls who have faced injustice and been silenced. Together we will be heard.”

The culture of Malala’s people is to revere boys and be complacent of girls. When a boy is born in the Swat Valley, the Pashtun men fire their rifles in the air and sing songs of congratulations. But a girl’s birth is met with only silence, or at best, condolences to the parents.

Girls are born to live a life of purdah, or segregation and the wearing of the veil (much of the time, Malala, the rebel, refused to cover her face). They are discouraged from going to school or doing anything other than preparing themselves for marriage and children. A woman in purdah cannot even answer her own door if the visitor is male and no other male relatives are home.

Fortunately for Malala, she was born into a family of supportive parents. Her father was a teacher, having started his own school, and spoke openly and passionately about the right of women to have an education.

Malala often accompanied her father to locations where he would give speeches on the rights of young Pakistani women. Malala, in her younger teens, would join in, and soon caught the attention of a documentary film crew. She began to become famous outside the Swat Valley, and news crews and politicians alike sought her out for a statement

Unfortunately, her activism and that of her courageous father also caught the attention of the Taliban.

Malala was 10 when the Taliban invaded and took over several cities with the Swat Valley in 2006. They imposed sharia law (a strict moral code of Islamic law, that included requiring women to wear a burqa, or full body cloak), and soon the repression of women reached alarming levels. One young woman was shot and killed by the Taliban simply for dancing. Others would be beaten or whipped if they were found outside their homes without a male relative for an escort. Some young women who did not cover up properly had acid thrown in their faces.

But education of women was of the greatest sin to the Taliban, which blew up hundreds of girls and co-ed schools in Swat.

Even after a military campaign by the Pakistani government dislodged the Taliban from power, young Talibs still remained in the valley and in Malala’s hometown of Mingora.

It was one of those Talibs who boarded her bus on Oct. 9, 2012 and attempted to silence this advocate of girls’ rights. Instead, Malala recovered from her wounds and is one of the foremost spokeswomen of her day.

She has received dozens of awards from around the world, including the International Children’s Peace Prize at The Hague last September and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize (she did not win that award).

The book is an exciting account of this young woman’s incredible journey in such a short life. Malala paints a vivid picture of life in Swat Valley, both before and after the arrival of the Taliban. Her tale is infused with stories of her faith, her family, her people, the land and its history. One can tell that Malala is a teacher at heart, and her account is rich in cultural and historical detail.

The story of her near death and the many months of painful recovery impeded by government inefficiency will leave the reader both inspired and irate, angry and grateful over a series of events that is hard not to call miraculous.

Her journey and her story are not complete. She has yet to fulfill her dream to become a teacher like her father, who had founded the school she attended in the town of Mingora, in the beautiful Swat Valley of Pakistan.

One might come away from this book with one concern. As a gifted and intelligent child, an activist, and miraculous survivor of attempted murder, Malala has been given much praise and given to believe she has a special destiny. Even her name is from an historical Pushtan figure in Afghanistan history, Malalai of Maiwand, a sort of Afghani Joan of Arc who died leading her people to a great victory against the British in the late 19th century.

Although she enjoys the life and luxuries she has in England, Malala repeatedly expresses her longing for her beautiful valley. She might leave the safety of her current home in Birmingham, England, to attempt a return to Pakistan to fulfill her special destiny. One can only hope her destiny is not to emulate her namesake and become a martyr.

The BBC documentary made when Malala was 11, on the eve of the closure of schools by the Taliban is here

Malala’s speech before the United Nations on her 16th birthday last July is here

Jumping into new ‘Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’

Daniel Konicek Contributing Writer

assassins-creed-4-black-flag1“A pirate’s life for me” goes the saying, and for fans of the Assassin’s Creed series, it has indeed become the case. With the release of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Ubisoft has delivered perhaps one of the greatest pirate simulators to date, so great that the assassination is actually the weakest link.

For those unfamiliar, the Assassin’s Creed series uses a fictional device called the Animus that allows users (the players) to dive into the past of a person’s ancestors in a kind of historical tourism. After visiting the Crusades, Italy, Constantinople, and the American Colonies, players now visit the Barbados Islands to live a life of piracy and freedom as Edward Kenway, grandfather to AC III’s Connor. There is very little connection to the rest of the series, however, and Edward is hardly a loyal assassin. No, this game is really about piracy. Everything else falls so far short.

The developers have taken the naval battles from AC III and refined them for the setting. Players can engage ships on the massive, open sea and choose to sink them or board them for valuable cargo for money or upgrades to the player’s ship, and the spectacle of leaping across rigging or blasting massive broadside barrages is complemented perfectly by a superb soundtrack that evokes the best of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. It is not without wrinkles. Multiple times I have swung a rope up and over the enemy ship I was boarding, and your pirate crewmates tend to accidentally attack you from time to time, but it never stopped me from coming back. The piracy aspect of this game is too much fun.

If only the rest of the game lived up to that standard. Almost every single story mission involves eavesdropping or tailing a person of interest, which also happens to be the weakest gameplay aspect of the series. The time spent outside of the Animus as a game developer mining Edward’s life for gameplay ideas is a cool idea, but the game could honestly go without it. A game titled Black Flag, stripping out everything tied to the series and adding more piracy content would be superior.

This game is not a masterpiece, nor an emotional experience like Bioshock Infinite or GTA V, but it is fun. A lot of fun. If, at the end of the day, you want to sit back, relax, and sing a sea shanty as you take a Spanish galleon, this game is for you.

New horror author’s new book, ‘Heart Shade Box’

Kristoffer Hayward Staff Writer

heart-shaped-boxJoe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box book brings a lot of the Stephen King horror without the lengthy lead up.

The story chronicles an aging death metal singer through a traumatizing encounter with spirits, hypnotists, and the supernatural. The story itself has a moderate amount of blood and violence, though Hill writes a little more in depth about some of the sexual nature present in a rock star’s life. It’s not for everyone, but fans and detractors of Stephen King should at least pick up the book and judge it on it’s own merits.

From the beginning, the reader is treated to the scene of a cushy life. Jude, protagonist and rock star, is coasting on his fame and settling into late middle age with some grace. He’s still shacking up with groupies, though they last more than a few months before being traded in.

It turns out one of these groupies and her family is directly involved, having sent Jude a vengeful spirit. Things start off with a small hint of the supernatural, a simple haunting or residual spirit being in the house. Soon, the spirit shows off the unnatural skill of persuasion and hypnotism.

Without getting too far in the story, the style of the book is very casual and gives the reader a distinct impression of Jude throughout. The horror is always in the foreground and the characters are pitted against something they can’t directly fight. As a whole, the book is paced quickly and we’re given a clear image of each character in the midst of the conflict rather than their normal lives.

Hill is the son of Stephen King, and because of that bond and the genre, it is nearly impossible not to compare the two. Where King gives a long buildup and shows how his characters act in the normal world, Hill thrusts his characters directly in front of the danger.

Some of the elements that Hill plays with are evident in his father’s works, and the layout of the stories show where his father left his literary mark. It may be a draw for King fans to pick up one of Hill’s books to see things from a different angle. This is also something that may give people who dislike King’s slow introductions a chance to experience the same horror from a different side.

 

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