Book review: The Church of Mercy

Church of MercyThe Church of Mercy
By Pope Francis
Published by Loyola Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8294-4170-3
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This slender philosophical book is a collection of speeches by Pope Francis, dating from April to November 2013. My impression of the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is that he is a good, kind man with a genuine faith in God, and a genuine interest in the welfare of the poor, not just in saving their souls, but their bodies as well. He proves this in Part Eight, Chapter 30 of his book, “The Cult of the God of Money”, in which he deplores the wastefulness of this throwaway culture of ours and the rampant consumerism that leads to so much waste: “This culture of waste has also made us insensitive to wasting and throwing out excess foodstuffs, which is especially condemnable when, in every part of the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families suffer hunger and malnutrition…Let us remember well, however, that whenever food is thrown out, it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry!” Continue reading

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Anime Expo 2014 Day 3 (because I didn’t make it to day 2)

Yeah, didn’t make it to AX yesterday, but here’s the cosplay crop for today:

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Anime Expo 2014 Day 1

I’m not covering the convention, but I am taking lots of pictures there. Here’s the famous voice actress, Karen Kahler I met on the metro on the way to AX.

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And then cosplay:

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AnimeNEXT 2014: a con in review

AnimeNEXT returned to the Garden State Exhibit Center from June 6-8 for a weekend of anime, cosplay, video games, fashion and music. Heavy on the fashion and music. The organizers really outdone themselves this year, inviting Studio Trigger designer Wakabayashi Hiromi and animator Koyama Shigeto to promote their latest series of action awesomeness, Kill la Kill. For the fashion line, we have h.Naoto’s Acryl agitt with designer Ishikawa Daisuke for the latest in Japanese punk and galaxxxy’s Arai Jun for their spin on Harajuku fashion. This year, they have their own celebrity models with Kawaii Ambassador (yes, that is an officiated position) Kimura Yu and MATENROU OPERA bassist, yo. The range of punk and lolita extends to music as well with Friday’s concert with ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D and Sunday closing with Luna Haruna of Sword Art Online and Fate/Zero fame. Stateside guests does not lose in caliber as they include AnimeNEXT favs Bill Rogers, Michelle Knotz as well as new guests Matthew Mercer, Alexis Tipton, producer/director Jonathon Klein and husband/wife VAs Ellen Steryn and the epic Richard Epcar amongst others. The highlight of the weekend besides the concerts, the fashion show and the panels would have to be the North Eastern World Cosplay Summit preliminaries, the winner which would move ahead to the finals at Acen and obtain the chance to represent as Team USA in Japan. For a con in the middle of New Jersey, it is definitely a weekend that would put it on the cosplay map! Let’s get started!
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AnimeNEXT 2014 – Luna Haruna Concert

Luna Haruna stepped out on stage to the chants of her fans. Purely a singer, she danced a bit about the stage in a short white dress that was adorable and classy. When she waved her arms in the air, the crowd followed suit. We were only able to shoot the first three songs.


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AnimeNEXT 2014 – Masquerade/World Cosplay Summit Northeastern Prelims

The new host for the masquerade is Uncle Yo which is hilarious as always. He had an awesome opening that is reminiscent of other masquerades that he hosted back when NYAF still existed. Definitely was super entertaining. You can catch the entire show on the Anime Next youtube channel.
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AnimeNEXT 2014 – Kill la Kill Studio Trigger Panel

Currently working as part of studio TRIGGER’s staff, Hiromi Wakabayashi has been involved in several works with Hiroyuki Imaishi. He began setting production for Gurren Lagann and has also worked on Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt from its beginnings as an original idea to assisting in plot development, and participated in directing. For KILL la KILL Hiromi contributed the plot development for episode 4 and directed the 2nd ending sequence. Most importantly, he assists and oversees the design team of KILL la KILL as creative officer.

Shigeto Koyama is an active designer in Japan’s media industry. He has participated in various popular anime titles such as Aim for the Top! 2 Diebuster, HEROMAN, Eureka Seven, Gurren Lagann, Rebuild of Evangelion, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, and Star Driver. Koyama plays a vital role in KILL la KILL as a creative director and also created the storyboard and illustration for the 2nd ending sequence. He is also responsible for conceptual design on Inferno Cop, which is available legally on YouTube. Currently, he is working on production for the anime series Captain Earth, which is available on Crunchyroll.com. ~AnimeNEXT info
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AnimeNEXT 2014 – Fashion Show

The Acryl agitt segment opened with a grungy black and white video showcasing the models with classic jrock designs. Acryl agitt has a flavor that is uniquely it’s own, a flair of the wild yet utilizing subdued colors like gray and white. I love the way the soft fabric move and sway as the models walked.
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AnimeNEXT 2014 – Luna Haruna Panel

Luna Haruna was born on October 11th, 1991. Luna’s original voice and special talent soon attracted great deal of attention after releasing her original song “Binetsu no Tsuki” on the magazine “Lis Ani!”. On May 2012, she made her major debut with the song “Soraha Takaku Kazeha Utau” (Ending theme song for the second season of animation “Fate/Zero”), written and composed by Yuki Kajiura. On the same year in November, she released her second single “Overfly” (Ending theme song for animation “Sword Art Online”). Her latest single, “snowdrop” was featured as the ending theme song for “Koimonogatari”, second season of series). ~AnimeNEXT info
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AnimeNEXT 2014 – ROOKIEZ is PUNK’D concert

ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D is a 4-piece rock band with Mixture style, incorporating various music styles with emphasis on rock, punk, and emo. Since formation, the band has been actively producing heart-touching Japanese lyrics, one & only melody lines with expressive band sound to spread messages to fans to live straight forwardly in this day and age at performances all over Japan from their home ground of Shibuya. ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D does not stay within just music but branches out in other areas as well. In fashion, for example, SHiNNOSUKE models for Japanese street fashion brand, “Subciety” while the band gets endorsement from West Coast apparel brand, “srh” and crossing over with other subcultures such as extreme sports and anime (“Durarara!!”, “BLEACH”, “Blue Exorcist”). Their new single, “Reclimb” released in November 2013 was chosen for the opening theme of a hit bicycle anime, “Yowapeda”. ~AnimeNEXT info
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AnimeNEXT 2014 – Kimura Yu Panel

Creator of the most pink in the world. A multi-talented magazine fashion model turned creator, kimura U has been appointed Japan’s official “Kawaii Ambassador” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote pop culture and represent Harajuku Fashion to the world. Having visited countries all over the world such as France, America, Italy and China, kimura U has been a guest at Japanese pop culture events such as Japan Expo and fashion events like Paris Collection. She is the leading emissary of the Shinjuku “kawaii” aesthetic. In 2013, she worked on the cover illustration for a photo collection by LiSA. Then, in 2014, her talents flowered when her original fashion brand, “KOKOkim,” opened at Shibuya 109, establishing her as a creator unbound by genre. This star of Shinjuku is recognized all over Japan! As the world’s #1 creator of pink, kimura U is unstoppable! ~AnimeNEXT info
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AnimeNEXT 2014 – Kimono for Guys

I headed to the Doubletree and checked out the Kimono for guys panel which was already very much underway. In truth, it was purely a kimono panel with interesting tidbits about wearing a kimono and the different types. The panelist made her own kimonos and was able to demonstrate proper wear by putting it on another attendee.
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AnimeNEXT 2014 – Opening Ceremonies

Alternating between Euphoria and Uncle Yo introducing the guests, it was very entertaining.
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Book review: All Joy and No Fun

All Joy and No Fun
By Jennifer Senior
Published by Harper Collins Ecco
ISBN 978-00620722221
Review copy provided by the publisher

Review by Ginger Mayerson

Modern parenting – duty or privilege? Or something else?

Full disclosure: I chose not to have kids.

I don’t have anything against kids or families, mostly I salute them for their bravery and grit when I’m not feeling sorry for them because they seem so stressed out and miserable most of the time. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s noticed this and wondered about it, but I didn’t write a whole book about it. Jennifer Senior’s book, “All Joy and No Fun,” is an entertaining read with the facts and research seamlessly and painlessly integrated into the illuminating anecdotes. It focuses mainly on the middle class family, divorced moms, and one grandmother raising kids in the 21st Century. These people worked hard to have these kids, work hard to raise them, and worry like crazy about the future of these kids. They worry in kindergarten about what kind of job the kid can get in the future job market when the kid graduates from college in fifteen years. They worry that the kid won’t be aggressive/assertive enough of a team player, so they have ‘em in sports from soon after the kids starts staggering around on their little feet. In one family, the kid wanted to do sports, music, and a few other things outside of school. It seemed like it would be almost worth it for the mom to get a job just to hire a driver. And, yes, the parents know they’re exhausted, but raising a child is such an important thing that they’re working very hard at, so of course they’re exhausted because it’s a helluva lot of work because it needs to be a helluva lot of work in this tough future world that no one knows what it will be like yet, except that it will tough, maybe tougher than now. And, holy mackerel, it’s a tough world now so it’s more work to shield and prepare their children for it. It’s such a tough, exhausting, dangerous, economically dire, stressed, vicious, cold, insert-your-own-alarming-adjective-here world these wan and pale middle class people are preparing their children for, does it ever occur to the parents in this book to get out of the Suzuki violin class and make the world a better place so they can relax a little about their child’s future? I mean, it’s too late to consider what kind of a world you wanted to bring a kid into, but it’s never too late to do something to make it a better world you brought your kid into. But, oh well, that’s not what the book is about. This book is about how children affect parents, and it seems kids wear their parents out because parents are pouring their lives, souls, marriages, and happiness into raising their kids. And this supreme sacrifice is freaking exhausting! Continue reading

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WonderCon 2014: Tuna Bora

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Tuna Bora had two books at WonderCon: a sketchbook mostly of pen and ink work from two years ago and an illustration book of the past year in various media. She had prints of both books and a few independent prints on her table. Tuna graduated from Otis College of Art and Design and has been working in many different fields for the past five years. She works for feature and TV animation, as well as print advertising and music videos to name a few other things she’s done. This is Tuna’s second WonderCon, she also did APE last year, and every year she is at CTM (Creative Talent Network) show in Burbank.

All artists at WonderCon 2014

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WonderCon 2014: Tanya Bjork

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Tanya Bjork has been making comics since 2003 and it was a guest spot in a printed webcomic anthology edited by comics artist Robert Tritthardt. Tanya has studied art, but is mostly self-taught. As far back as she can remember, she’s written stories so she could illustrate them (and bind some of them together with yarn). She remembers making a story about a fairy and using lots of glitter for the fairy dust and magic. She said it took her a while to twig that if she shifted her emphasis to comics, she could do more stories with pictures. So she’s been gradually ramping up and is working on her first long-form project. She’s doing small print runs, working with a local printer, SGX, who sponsored Artists’ Alley at the Long Beach Comic last year, and they’ve been fantastic to work with. Tanya’s top three artistic influences are Edward Gorey, Ross Campbell, and Becky Cloonan. Like Hillary Bauman and Jordon Montsell, WonderCon is Tanya’s second convention; her first was at the Long Beach Comic-Con last September. Her comic formerly known as Runaway, but now called Havenhurst, was conceived on 24-hour Comic Day last October. She liked the idea she came up with so much that she finished it and expanded it into the two issues (so far) she had on her table. The story is about a runaway and her magical familiar hiding out in the human world. Tanya also did a t-shirt collaboration with a clothing designer named Kambriel. And a lovely t-shirt it was, alas, it was also the last known t-shirt of its kind in existence or something.

All artists at WonderCon 2014

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WonderCon 2014: Shing Yin Khor

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Shing Yin Khor is a comic artist and sculptor. Most of her work is about a crypto-zoological institute that studies them. Her background is in theater scenic design. This is her fifth year of doing conventions. WonderCon was going great for her. She said things are busier when there are several issues of a comic on the table for sale. Every year it gets better.

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All artists at WonderCon 2014

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WonderCon 2014: Ron Bassilian

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I spoke to Ron Bassilian the writer of Inferno Los Angeles, which is an updating in comic book form of Dante’s Inferno. The mouth of hell is in Westwood, and the underworld is full of LA characters, like movie producers and their ilk. Y’know, all the jerks one wants to see in hell without actually having to go to hell to see them here. Or something. The book was published in 2013, the project started in 2008, and really took off with a successful Kickstarter in 2010. Inferno Los Angeles is a beautiful hardcover Ron and the artist, Jim Wheelock, are self-publishing, printing it though Tri Vision in Los Angeles, who also print for IDW. Jim found Ron on Craigslist.com. WonderCon is the second convention for Inferno Los Angeles, the first was the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco, where the book sold very well.

All artists at WonderCon 2014

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