Wednesday, April 4, 2018

I Just Paid Off My Student Debt. Here's How:

I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS THIS WEEK. Well, actually, I submitted the payment on Good Friday 2018, but they just cleared today. Same difference, right? My student loans totaled $48,500. I graduated with my undergraduate degree in 2012, and spent a year in repayment before heaping on the pile and going to graduate school from 2013 to 2015. Most of that was on loans. Since 2015, I’ve been diligently repaying them with my wife’s help. However, until 2017, I’d made less than $2,000’s progress. Here’s how I went from $48,500 in student debt to $0.

Have a focused, shared budget


THE “B” WORD is one that stresses a lot of people out. People my age, younger, and older. Budget means responsibilities and limits and not “being able to live for today.” It’s those things, but also more: it’s a ledger of your life, spread month to month, or week to week. The budget is a PLAN TO BUILD WHO YOU WANT TO BE, not who you can’t be. Develop a budget that gets you to where you want to be in two years. Want to be student debt free? Want to pay off that car or your house? (I do to all three.) Set up a detailed, written budget, and check it daily.

This is a blank version of the monthly sheet I use. Note the EFUND: Always have an emergency fund!
I started by tallying our total income, and then creating a list of bills that are steady (mortgage, cell phones, car payment, cable, insurance, etc), and then creating a second list of bills that flux: power, water, pet care, auto care). Then I looked at what I had left, created several spending categories: FOOD, GAS, PROFESSIONAL, HOUSE, and MISCELLANEOUS. Each category has a set capacity; we can’t spend more than $350/month on groceries, for example. We can’t spend more than $130 on gas. We can’t spend more than $100 on hours and professional stuff. We have about $150 each to play with in misc a month. This is a focused, thorough budget that accounts for all the money coming in, and all the money going out, AND all the money left over. We’ll get to that third category in a second.

This wasn’t just my project, however. It was a shared project that I led, but did not dictate. It took a few months of tinkering and compromising with my wife on. I would set the grocery budget lower than she wants, and reduce house/professional to near zero. Or even roll them into miscellaneous. Turns out I was wrong to do that. We communicate daily on spending (and most days, we actually don’t spend anything at all). We communicate on shopping lists, miscellaneous expenses, things we want to set aside for Communicating with your partner, or a budget-buddy, helps keep you accountable, helps you see things you overlook, helps prevent burnout, and helps keep you reasonable. You need to buy deodorant, friend. Set $2 a month aside for it.

Give yourself two or three months to define these guidelines. You need to find realistic but low margins to keep for each of these categories. That’s how you’re going to build a bigger shovel.

Stretch those dollars


DAVE RAMSEY, whose plan I (mostly) followed, talks about debt as a hole, and your income as a shovel. Your income is your most powerful wealth building / debt destroying tool. By minimizing your expenses, you maximize that left-over category and can apply that to your debt at the end of each month. To do this, though, you really need to stretch your dollars.

This looks different for everyone. A lot of the time it looks like sacrifice or compromise--temporarily. Here are some of the things we compromised on to maximize our debt-shovel: We got rid of subscriptions, including Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and settled for Netflix, which my sister-in-law pays for, except for one-at-a-time months as treats. We settled on eating out once a month, rather than weekly, and plan each week’s meals in advance, and do a single shopping trip. Often these meals have cheap ingredients that can work for multiple meals. Cooking at home means repetitive meals--unless you take yourself down to the thrift store and buy a few different cook books.

For about $8 total, Lindsey and I got a vegan cookbook, a vegetarian cookbook, and an Irish pub cookbook. In fact, we generally reduced meat and moved to more lentils, beans, and veggies. Over the course of about six months, we’ve learned to make dozens of new meals, and have actually settled on a fairly healthy diet: vegetarian during the week and some meat on the weekends. This worked alongside our health goals: we lost 65 and 35 pounds doing it.

We also cut in lifestyle. We don’t buy many games, movies, or books. These get rationed through the miscellaneous budget, so there isn’t a freeze, but it’s also not willy nilly. Over the course of many months, we’ve learned to spend more time together, and to seek experiences rather than consumption. My favorite purchases have been things we can do together; buying books we read together, or the ukulele, which she plays and I tinker with. I play my bagpipes, which is an endless supply of frustration and challenge for me. The NYS Empire Pass for hiking, and our summer camping trips. These expenses keep our OTHER, boredom-based expenses low.

Boredom expenses are what you need to beware; they might be material (junk or content you don’t need to own, or impulse buys through Amazon Prime), or they might be consumable (food, drink, etc). Diligently updating your budget keeps you aware of how you’re using your resources, and when to slow down or curb them. This helps you stretch your dollar, giving you the maximum whackamole leverage on your debt. As you make more progress you’ll likely spend less, because you put yourself into a positive feedback loop.


Apply left-over cash to debt, and visualize Progress!


REVISITING Dave Ramsey, we worked the snowball method of debt repayment. This is one of several schools of thought regarding financial freedom. At its core, the snowball method entails using all of your left-over money at the end of the month to pay down the balance of your SMALLEST debt. When you have paid if off, you roll that freed-up cash from the monthly minimum you were paying on the repaid loan into your debt snowball. Every time you pay a debt off, the snowball gets larger, and your repayment accelerates.
This isn’t the only debt plan. However, it worked best for us. The largest debt we have, aside from the mortgage, is a consolidated loan that represents almost half my salary. It’d take forever, and be exhausting, to pay that off. So we opted to snowball up, smallest to largest, instead. That meant that my smaller loans were lined up like ducks before all but one of hers. Unfortunate, but effective. Now that we’ve plowed through my loans, we’re thundering downhill towards hers.

Every month, you need to account for what income and cash you haven’t spent, and apply that over to the debts you want to be free of. It’s easy to slide and excuse a $20 purchase one week, a $50 dinner another week, and another $30 game the next week. But you just spent $100, on things you don’t need, that don’t bring you lasting value, and which don’t meaningfully improve your life. Use the budget to contain those expenses, and apply the left-over to your debt. You’ll build financial independence and a tangible sense of security by reducing your expenses.

Lastly, take care to visualize the process. For us, that meant making $112,000 worth of construction paper rectangles labelled “1k” and “2k” and taping them to the wall by our front door. Hard to miss. The brightly colored squares keep the goal on our mind, and become a satisfying ritual of taking them down. We even built-in encouragements by writing out small rewards on the back of most of the “2k” tickets, like seeing a movie, visiting a particular restaurant, or buying a book guilt free. Thus, we were able to watch our progress drop from one and a half walls down to just one wall over the last 12 months. Other people draw the old thermometer on a long piee of paper and strap it to their fridge, and pencil in progress top to bottom. Others create a bar graph, or line graph, and display it proudly. The goal is to be able to visualize your progress, and have the goal front and center.

And you knows? Maybe you’ll be able to inspire some other people to take steps towards financial independence, too.

Live the life you want to lead


FINALLY, but not lastly, take the steps required to lead the life you want to live. The odds are that you don’t want to be a couch potato always stressed about making ends meet, but never knowing why your income never seems to match your outgo, who fights with their partner about money, who is always being muttered about for being an over-spender or a big-hat-no-cattle (another Ramsey phrase).
Decide who you want to be, and use the budget, mindful spending, and the right debt repayment (or savings) plan to get you where you want to be. You can wander into debt, but you can’t wander out, and that means you need a plan. Start building that life today, and you’ll be there before you know it.

THESE ARE, broadly, the steps I took to pay off my student debt in a year. Obviously, it would have been impossible without the combined income and a singularly focused household budget. It also took a lot of communication, a few arguments (and reconciliations), and several months of trial and error to get our budget, goals, and process right. I can’t discount the sacrifices or compromises required to make it happen, but I can definitely high light that it was worth it to go through this process. And I can’t wait to see it through to the other side, next year, when we’re completely debt free.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Reading Reflection: Thor God of Thunder Vol. 3: The Accursed


Hello, readers! Each time I finish a book in 2018, I will be dropping a Reading Reflection. These not-reviews are just a collection of thoughts I have after reading a book. Give me a shout in the comments if you agree (or disagree). Warning: spoilers for each of the books I reflect on may be discussed.

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THOR GOD OF THUNDER VOL. 3: THE ACCURSED

I really enjoyed Thor, God of Thunder volumes 1 and 2. I've written about them here and here, but despite that love I did not expect to return to the Tales of Thunder so soon. It was actually kind of a fluke. Saturday night I was a little bored, having finished my most recent writing project, and sent it off to alpha readers, and decided to cycle on my trainer. I didn't want to start a new Kindle book, as I'm already working through Moonbase and Reading at the Speed of Sight, so I grabbed Lindsey's iPad and loaded up the first graphic novel we had on our shared Kindle App. Turns out, it was the next installment of God of Thunder. I cycled for about twenty minutes, but didn't even notice.

God Butcher (volume 1) and Godbomb (volume 2) are distinctly science-fiction stories set against a fantasy backdrop. I think these appealed to me so much because they bear a lot of similarities to Star Wars in a good way. The world is bigger than you expect, Farm Boy, and Thor is here to guide you through it. Volume 2 really struggled with a narrative that large, though. I'm not sure if it was Jason Aaron's plotting that bogged it down, or just the need to concede to the invincibility of his main character, but some of what happens in the final pages of Godbomb were a little too ridiculous.

The Accursed backs the tone and excitement down a notch, which was vital to the book's success, I think. More so than Godbomb, which was completely hinged on readers having read God Butcher, volume 3 works as a new entry point for readers, and so it can settle for a more chill, somber tone. It takes the investigation/chase style narrative of Volume 1, drapes it in ludicrous viking fantasy, gives it a bunch of pointed-eares and ridiculous names (Sir Ivory Honeyshot; Senator Scumtongue the Tongueless), and calls it good. The whole  of volume 3 read, to me, like an independent story with a very different focus in mind: a fantasy to introduce the new worlds and rules of Asgardian politics.

Leaving aside some of the melodramatic but boring politics, Thor and an inter-species cadre of heroes (?) are tasked with finding the newly escaped Malekith the Accursed, former king of the dark elves sentenced to and escaped from the deep, snake-lined pits of Hell. It's ridiculous. What's more ridiculous is his genocidal quest to terrify and kill his own people, and the lengths at which he goes to humiliate Thor.

Meanwhile, Thor and his group, which include the aforementioned Sir Ivory Honeyshot, a light elf dandy marksman; Lady Wazira, a dark elf sorceress with a tree for an arm; Screwbeard the explosive dwarf; a mute mountain giant with a bow that shoots LOGS, and Ud the Troll, can't get along. Their bantering is engaging and fun, if predictable, but their team dynamic, and the chance to see almost every one of them get to fight on their home turf was pretty cool. I'm all for books that don't just run up and down the streets of Manhattan.
League of the Nine Realms! ASSEMBLE!
The narrative is, in other words, really fun. It takes some risks, stretches credulity in the right ways, and has a few grim surprises that made me really appreciate how the art form has evolved since the days of the issues first published in my beloved Essential Thor collection.

As with the first two volumes, though, the writing and characters are easily surpassed by the art. It's just a stunning visual book. As I challenge my own writing and art for my side-projects, I've taken to studying the art in my weekly comics reading books. And the art in God of Thunder has perhaps become a point of major study. I spent a lot of time looking at how the outlining was done, how colors were blended to give a sense of energy or light direction and tone. I spent a lot of time looking at how foreground, midground, and background characters were reduced in their lining, or blended. I'm just an amateur with a penchant for drawing kilted dwarves, tattooed Goliath paladins, and devilishly tricky she-elves, but I think I learned a lot from this book.

Perhaps fittingly, the art is at its absolute best when exploring the Nine Realms, just as the writing is. The design and coloration of each realm is distinct, but not genre-busting. These look like places that could exist near one another, but never quite share a border. The same is true for the visual designs of the characters. There is enough in common that the all certainly spring from the roots of the same world tree, but each species and world is distinct and really gorgeously designed. That said, shout out to the Frost Giants. Holy Hel.

I also learned a few new phrases I want to work into my vernacular from this one. Last year I made a deliberate decision to stop being so abrahamonormative (see: relying only on Judeo-Christian mythological expletives) and began to use dramatic Norse expletives instead. From Volume 3, I took the following: Ymir's bloody bones; [I swear] on Odin's Eye. See? Comics teach you a lot.

Definitely gonna read Volume 4 in the next few months. I read Volume 3 in two sittings and a 20-minute spin cycling. Loved it!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Reading Reflection: The Last Colony

Hello, readers! Each time I finish a book in 2018, I will be dropping a Reading Reflection. These not-reviews are just a collection of thoughts I have after reading a book. Give me a shout in the comments if you agree (or disagree). Warning: spoilers for each of the books I reflect on may be discussed.

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THE LAST COLONY

I read and loved Old Man's War several years ago, while still in college. Scalzi's voice as a storyteller is really strong, and his punchy, often funny dialogue sells even the goofiest narratives. It took another year or two before I read Ghost Brigades, which I liked, but for a different set of reasons: it attempted to, and sold me on, a more serious story set in a really ridiculous universe. It's been a few years since that, and in the meantime, I sort of forgot how much I liked John Scalzi's writing. Hot off the glowing (for different reasons) ash of Mordant's Need Volume 2 and Radium Girls, I wanted a high-octane sci-fi novel I could blow through. I didn't get that with The Last Colony. I got something better.

True to its name, the third book in the Old Man's Universe is about a colony; the unfortunately named Roanoke colony, where John Perry and Jane Sagan (and Zoe), stars of the previous books, take on administrative roles they really don't want. The Colonial Union, as usual up to no good (but maybe just a little bit good) is pushing for a multi-colony-backed new colony on a world supposedly traded from the Obin, in a political mess so bad it's obviously it's going to fail. The issue is, no one knows exactly where all of the strings lead, and so no one knows how it will unravel, or when.

It's a complicated novel that doesn't have the running time to fully utilize the kind of political scheming Scalzi sets up, but perhaps that's just as well. In not lingering overlong on the politicking, we're treated instead to an outsider's view of a really bad system built on really bad assumptions that, in the Current Day and Age, are really hard not to sympathize with.

He introduces and fleshes out the Conclave, a 412 species (I dunno, ask him) union designed to eliminate war in our part of space by restricting colonization to only multi-species worlds, and effectively rebuilding culture within a few generations. Instead of fighting for houses down the street, General Gau, the leader of the Conclave, wants to build a bunch of multi-family apartment blocks. Makes sense? Except Humanity doesn't want to play along, because the Colonial Union won't be told what to do or how to do it, so they concoct a ridiculous scheme, and you can see where this is going. I could, and that was fine.

Not lingering on politics let him explore those ideas--and those characters--more directly, and more engagingly, than if he had spent more time on the machinations between the Conclave and the CU. I think not knowing much about the Conclave, in particular, made the story a little more engaging by way of being hard to predict. I admit to being surprised several times--delightfully so, at the end, which I reached just as my lunch ended and students came piling into my room, so I had a few hours to stew on what I started but didn't finish in the last 20 pages.

The only part of the book that didn't function like clockwork for me was the indigenous intelligent species on Roanoke. The werewolf like hunter/gatherers were part of an interesting ethical discussion between General Gau, Perry, and other colony officials, but ultimately they just...vanished into the trees. I'm not sure if they'll come back to matter more, the way the Pequenos did in the final Ender's novels (by Orson Scott Card), but I doubt it.

The Last Colony; loved it. Read it, after you read the first two. And don't spread them out across six years! Yikes. I read it in like three days. Now I gotta get Zoe's Tale.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Crosspost: CF Diecast #17: Swamp Crotch!




 

Dunk yourself in bullywug repellent, listeners! The Diecast crew strikes forth from Waterdeep in a hustle, hoping to finally discover whence the Dragon Cult is dragging their stolen cargo. But the Mere of Dead Men and the abandoned hills that surround it are no gentle place! Beware! Also: at the end Travis makes an announcement about a new story publication!

Legal: Intro and outro music are "Evil Incoming" and "Five Armies," composed by Kevin MacLeod. Both songs are used within the Creative Common License. The Diecast is intended for entertainment purposes only. Dungeons and Dragons is the copyright of Wizards of the Coast.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Reading Reflection: Radium Girls


Hello, readers! Each time I finish a book in 2018, I will be dropping a Reading Reflection. These not-reviews are just a collection of thoughts I have after reading a book. Give me a shout in the comments if you agree (or disagree). Warning: spoilers for each of the books I reflect on may be discussed.

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RADIUM GIRLS

I’ve made it a goal for 2018 to read more nonfiction, and in general to try and take on more reading recommendations from friends and family. I’ve always been a bit of a one-way avalanche of book recommendations, showering them on others but hesitant to reciprocate. Last year I got better about it, and this year I’m off to a good start, too. This week I read Radium Girls, a biography of the luminous dial painters of the early 20th century who, in the course of their jobs, ingested deadly radium compounds on a daily basis.

I actually heard an interview with the author of the book on NPR in 2017, and recommended it offhandedly to my wife as something she might like to read. She picked it up quickly, and read it in just a few short days. There it lived on my Kindle, waiting for me to pick it up, too.

I’m not accustomed to reading social biographies like Radium Girls, and it took some getting used to. The author flows between the matter-of-fact historical summary you’d expect from a history book, into conversational, almost episodic biography based on recollection, letters, and court testimony, and then even into a tone and perspective you’d expect to find in a novel. The three modes, I suppose, do a good job at unpacking and examining the history of radiological medicine and industry in the United States, of the daily lives of the thousands of women who were harmed by the reckless, deceitful practices of industry, and of the handful of individuals whose righteous and, at turns, faithless interactions really decided how the American government would interact and enforce workplace chemical and material hazards.

In a nutshell, the luminous dial painters were employed to paint radium-infused (or mesothorium) paint over watchface and other mechanical dials. Their equipment--camel hair brushes, and less often glass sticks or fine sponge-brushes--was not adequate to the task and volume demanded of them. In order to keep the brushes functioning, they were encouraged to “lip point” or use their lips to shape the point of the brush to the finest possible point. This meant putting radium paint into their mouths, and ingesting it. That’s the worst point of interface with the radium, which was well-known to be dangerous by the turn of the 20th century, but the fine dust was also all over the plant; the girls were reported to take on a luminescence that tracked home with them, stayed on their clothes and hair--and made its way, inevitably, into their family’s bodies, too. Over the years, radium, which is structurally similar to calcium, settled in teeth and bones, causing dental and jawbone decay, sarcomas and other cancer; in effect, it killed them horribly.

The book doesn’t belabor the science, though I wish it had. Rather, it tracks the slow, living death of the dial painters and their building court cases to win restitution for the visceral destruction. That case, like the slow, contested growth of understanding what radium does to the body--and how wrong so many doctors trumpeting “radium therapy” had been, is tortuous and fraught with callow men.

It’s difficult to describe in detail any one facet of Radium Girls, because it moves so quickly and flows together. There’s a lot of ground to cover in a biography like this, which really margins on ethnography. My only complaint was the occasional liberties with which the author took, setting up a scene the way a novelist would, narrating the thoughts of star players at key points. In particular, the narration from the perspective of the “villains,” the company men who were fighting to mitigate the damage of bad decisions past, and to keep a handle on their business. I’m sure there’s a basis for her narration, but it just rung hollow for me. I would have been more interested, however, in gaining a greater perspective, if possible, into their decisions to fight so bitterly to avoid compensating the girls. What did those crisis management meetings look and sound like? Who was really culpable; individuals, or the board collectively? The lawyers? Their defense of such reckless, stupid decision-making, which on its face was such a huge gamble given the growing body of work, is just...it’s fascinating, maybe in the same way that the women’s horrid disintegration under their “body burdens” is gruesome but unavoidable in the narration of the story.

The personal touches did bring the girls and women to life, however. The story, divided into three arcs, takes its time to develop them and their families sufficient to imbue real emotion; reading about Catherine Donahue’s final bitter struggle was aching; but she was by no means the only dial painter brought vividly to life by the author’s careful attention to detail. They pull you in, yet also blend together, like a swirl of ghosts bleeding out of these closed lives and their quiet towns, closing in on their final wailing chorus. And at the center...


Radium Girls deeply disturbed me. But that doesn’t make it unworthy. As a story it is compelling with a kind of radioactive trainwreck quality, as a chronicle of history, it is a cautionary warning not only to the dangers posed in the workplace--but to entrenched dogma that prevents inquiry into danger, and to the uphill battles workers must fight to prove their employer’s culpability in harming them. The Radium Girls’ case(s) led to the creation of OSHA and a number of workforce and workplace improvements. Hopefully, these lessons are not forgotten.

I’m going to continue reading more nonfiction this year. Radium Girls, mostly read on the treadmill during my evening walks, took about two and a half weeks to read (alongside Mordant’s Need Volume 2). Check it out if you’re into history, women’s rights, or science and medicine.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Reading Reflection: Essential Thor Volume 1

Hello, readers! Each time I finish a book in 2018, I will be dropping a Reading Reflection. These not-reviews are just a collection of thoughts I have after reading a book. Give me a shout in the comments if you agree (or disagree). Warning: spoilers for each of the books I reflect on may be discussed.
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ESSENTIAL THOR VOLUME 1

While Thor: Ragnarok fired me up to explore a character I’d only ever paid a passing attention to in the context of the Marvel Cinematic and Comics Universe(s), it was Jason Aaron’s excellent Thor: God of Thunder, volume 1 and volume 2, that fired me up to explore more of Thor’s weird corner of the Marvel universe. The movie was like a mainline hit of sci-fantasy comic weirdness, condensed into a Hollywood script; Jason Aaron’s take was off the rails. I was, therefore, pretty excited when I jazzed into my local comic book shop (Collectibles Galore) and saw sitting on Mike’s humble Trade shelf Marvel Essentials: Thor 1, 3-7, by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. I’ve long loved Kirby’s art, plain and occasionally ugly as it is. I knew Lee’s storytelling, while classic, hasn’t aged well--I explored a Captain America Golden Age collection a few years ago and fizzled because of, well, the chummy tone.

But Thor Vol. 1 gripped me. I didn’t expect to be howling with laughter at it, or texting weird photos from rushed panels to friends late at night, but I did. And I even came away with some new skills as an artist, having closely studied the way Kirby used varying brushstrokes and perspective to represent his characters. In particular, some of the more dynamic poses have been making their way into my sketches for the Diecast.

No longer am I content that the characters merely pose for a group photo, but I want to represent a scene from the stories we tell on the show. I also want to draw the eye to particular character traits; it’s hard to believe I waited that long to study Kirby’s art. But previously I’ve paid a lot of attention to Mike Mignola, Bruce Timm, and Greg Capullo’s work; less so to the classic artists. That’s changing. I was thoroughly caught up in the art, goofy as it can be, and as weirdly self-aware and narratorial as the scripts are, and I plan to learn and study more so I can bring our own characters to life, too.

Dose scripts, tho. I don’t even know what word is best to describe the often bizarre way Stan Lee explores his characters through dialogue. They narrate what they’re doing, literally second by second; I tried reading an issue while ignoring the text, and only referred to it when I got confused--much faster, much leaner storytelling. Kirby’s work is nearly sufficient in and of itself to explain what’s going on in the best issues; in the worst, it’s the writing that falls apart, not the art.

But all of this is to say, I loved it. Some issues were tone-deaf as all get out to the modern reader, but overall, the smooth transition from Journeys into Mystery to THOR+Tales of Asgard (my personal favorite part of the collection were these side-tales) was smooth, the gradual exploration of the character was strong, and while that hammer is the most magical mcguffin to ever be forged from the metallic heart of a dead star, it’s so often unintentionally hilarious that you can’t help but love it for all of the bumbling strangeness.

This is at its worst with the mutual but unfulfilled pining of Don Blake and Jane Foster for one another. The primary audience of the book was teenagers and it definitely shows; the melodrama is so tongue-in-cheek that it become a dirty euphemism. I’ve never really liked the secret identity storyline (though the modern version, where they’re two parallel lives, and not strictly separate is tolerable). But Jane Foster and Don Blake are just the most cheesy sappy nonsense...it’s the one real downside to the collection.

A final passing thought is this: Thor is a superHERO. As represented in these pages, he’s the alter-ego of a lame doctor who spends all his time helping people and researching to advance medical practice. When he stamps his cane, he becomes Thor and spends his time helping or defending people. There’s none of the complicated meta-drama that haunts modern heroes; the Avengers pay the city back for collateral damage when asked, but the wanton destruction we’re so used to in today’s comics and movies is utterly not present. It has a real cavalier and earnest pathos that was pretty refreshing to me; it’s a shame that, short of my own artistic interest, I probably would not have had the motivation to see it through. There’s something very important outlined in these stories that we might be missing from modern comics: It takes real strength to be gentle, and it takes real courage to be authentic. And if you don’t have either, you’d better build a giant robot to smite the people who do.

It took me a solid month to read through Marvel Essentials: Thor Volume 1, because I broke it up to 1 or 2 issues a night. I can’t recommend it highly enough for Marvel fans who like the golden age art and want to explore a key part of the Avengers back history...and who don’t mind some legitimately goofy good cheer. I’m absolutely going to continue, though I am going to skip ahead to Volume 3, since that’s what Mike had on the shelf, and I don’t think it will make a terribly large difference. Also, I plan to read the Essentials Vol 1 for Captain America...and maybe Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and the Avengers if I can find them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Crosspost: CF Diecast Episode 16: An Array of Hats (and other bad puns!)


 

THE HOME STRETCH! Our morally ambiguous dragon-hunters are on the last leg of their journey to Waterdeep, with only the fortified town of Daggerford and a few frosty miles yet remaining...but the road is never so dangerous as when it appears most safe! Action! Bloodshed! Hats! This Diecast episode has it all, and if you love it, please leave a rating or review on iTunes! Also: at the end Travis makes an announcement about a new story publication!

Legal: Intro and outro music are "Evil Incoming" and "Five Armies," composed by Kevin MacLeod. Both songs are used within the Creative Common License. The Diecast is intended for entertainment purposes only. Dungeons and Dragons is the copyright of Wizards of the Coast.