Superman: Red Son book review

I read Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar. The premise is, what would happen if Superman were raised in the Soviet Union, instead of the United States? It was a riveting, plot-driven read, like most comic books. The comic even managed to fit in Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Green Lantern. I found Superman was kind of dull. Most of his battles were easily won or glossed over, as they would only distract from the plot. With few exceptions, he trounces other superheroes and whatever enemies Luthor throws at him like they are nothing. There’s not much character development, as Superman is morally upstanding, despite being a member of the Soviet Union. Rather, the comic shows how Superman’s good intentions lead to his stifling control and micromanagement of society. And even when he loses to Lex Luthor, that only serves to inspire Luthor to conquer all that ails mankind, and Luthor ends up creating a technology-driven utopia (as opposed to a utopia created by Superman’s superhuman vigilance, constant surveillance, and intervention). So all-in-all, there is no great evil. Luthor was not motivated to serve and help others as Superman was, but ultimately Luthor did more to benefit society than Superman did. One thing I didn’t like was that most of mankind is background to the central battle between Luthor and Superman. Only with those two could society be improved. For all the comic’s critique of mankind’s complacency, most people were incapable of doing anything or advancing society. It was either Superman or Luthor who provided utopia, not people working together. I had fun reading the comic. For such a predictable superhero as its focus, the comic was full of jaw-dropping plot twists, especially the final shocking reinterpretation of Superman lore.

In May

In May, the cottonwood seeds fill the air, falling thick as snow. Caught in a warm springtime blizzard, I reach out my hand to grab the fluffy snowflakes.

The Pacific Northwest does not cease to amaze me, with all its beautiful parks and views. When I walk around, I am reminded of a poem by Percy Shelley, The Recollection. Alone in the woods, the sounds of nature, the chirps and rustling boughs, only add to the peace and stillness.

Rattlesnake Ledge in the Clouds
Rattlesnake Ledge in the Clouds
Lake Union
Lake Union
Juanita Beach Park
Juanita Beach Park
Turtle Turtle Duck Duck Duckling
Turtle Turtle Duck Duck Duckling
Juanita Bay Park
Juanita Bay Park

Nice Weather

On Saturday, I biked 30+ miles in an event sponsored by a local brewery. Starting in Redmond, I biked around the north edge of Lake Washington on the Sammamish River Trail and Burke-Gilman Trail, to Fremont. There was rain forecasted, but thankfully the clouds did not break, and the weather was perfect for biking. Around the Bothell area, there was a sharp turn and I fell into the grass. My knee and elbow got caked in dirt, but I got up without a scratch. An old man stopped by the side of the road and asked if I was all right. He helped me twist my bike seat back to its proper position and I was on my way again. After 12 miles or so, the pavement got bumpier and my tailbone started to hurt. But the scenery was great and kept me motivated to see Lake Washington and all the lush trees and lake houses. Biking through Fremont was a nice change of pace too, and I exchanged greetings with a coworker who was jogging by.

At the halfway point, I got an IPA at LTD Bar and Grill. I saw the old man again. He said, “You’ve got to lean into those sharp turns, if you sit upright you will fall.” Then he repeated himself twice, with different words, and rather sternly to make sure his biking tip sunk in. I thanked him for the advice and continued biking.

Afterwards, I met up with some people at the University District street fair. Biking made me hungry, so I ate all sorts of food. We ambled around the fair for a few hours, looking at art, eating food, listening to music. The weather was too good to waste, so I wanted to go kayaking. We went to Agua Verde and kayaked to Gasworks Park and back. Afterwards we stopped by the street fair again to eat some more food. Then we went downtown and watched the new Spiderman movie. The day seemed to never end and my energy kept up. Then when I got home, exhaustion caught up to me and I nodded off to sleep.

The Sense of an Ending book review

I finished reading The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. It was a really great book, short and engrossing. The story is told from the perception of a retired man who had lived a self-described lackluster life. He talks about the imperfect nature of memories and recalls a certain period of his youth. In the latter half of the book, he finds that his memories and perceptions of that period of his life were wrong, suppressed, changed to fit into a narrative that he could make sense of, and certain tragedies in the past had unknowingly been caused by him. After I finished the book I was drained for a day, with that same feeling as stepping outside a movie theater and driving home in silence.

Batter My Heart

BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due,
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

-John Donne

I first read this poem in high school and I remember being struck by Donne’s choice of words, especially the end, “you ravish me”. Now that I read it again, I notice how these words are so unlike the humble requests I often make. Donne’s entreaties are full of force and desire. See all his harsh consonants: “Batter my heart… break, blow, burn and make me new.” These sinful thoughts that go through my mind, I wish I were stronger but I am so weak. Only God can save me. I empathize with Donne’s desperation, the craving to be transformed, asking to not just be mended but completely broken and made anew. God is everywhere, and yet I feel so far away. Have I made any progress? Sometimes I don’t feel it, it seems so small and insignificant, so tenuous and liable to revert back to old ways. I want to be closer. I can plead to be held captive to God, but He gives us free will to do as we please, and so long as I am on earth I will be so imperfect. Only if I am enthralled and enraptured by God can I be set free. But what of my salvation is of credit to me? None of it, even the faith that saves comes from God.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. -Ephesians 2:8

What can I do, but pray for God to come closer and give me more faith?