What I read...
Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, (then) Cardinal Ratzinger – Interesting to get a glimpse at his domestic life under the rise of Nazism; more helpful to get the inside scoop on what happened during Vatican II. The man is a teacher, though, and can’t turn his brain off—he barely pulls his punches when he gets to theology (gives a distilled rundown on his understanding of revelation). Highly recommended, especially if you find yourself surrounded by liberals or ultra-conservatives.
Gammer Gurton’s Needle – Tudor comedy in which a town trickster causes mischief when an old woman loses her needle. Yep. It’s a big deal about something very little. That’s the point. Get it? Point? See what I did there. It’s pretty funny, but probably funnier to see than to read. Fairly entertaining, but I don’t recommend seeking out a copy unless you are really into Tudor drama.
The Four Ps – A Tudor entertainment in which four characters each of whom has a career that begins with “P” (Pilgrim, Pardoner, Pedlar, Pedant) have a conversation. To make things interesting, the Pedlar challenges them to tell the biggest lie. It’s pretty slow going until the misogynistic humor kicks in towards the end. I got by without reading it by now, you could probably skip this.
Friar Bacon, Friar Bungay – Isabel sold me on the amazing talking brass head...which ended up being a pretty brief scene. Anyway, this is about a Friar who challenges the world’s necromancers and scholars to outdo him in magic. To be honest, I don’t really remember much besides for the brass head. I’m pretty sure there was a distracting love plot between an aristocrat and a farm girl that seemed forced in there to pad out the magic bits. A fun gem for Renaissance enthusiasts and scholars.
Tom Thumbe – The story of Tom Thumbe, a teeny-tiny boy who, for the most part, repeatedly gets eaten and excreted since everything is bigger than him. Possibly a social satire. Not recommended for general consumption.
The Prose Edda (selections) – So I knew Tolkien used the Prose Edda...but I didn’t realize that just about every name from the Hobbit came from the Prose Edda. Check out the list of Dwarf names. Fortunately, my used edition had handwritten margins that even translated some of the untranslated names so that I could recognize the appearance of Oakenshield. Oh, and Thor gets seriously smacked around. Highly recommended.
A Death in the Family – This trade paperback collected the infamous death of Robin story arc in the old Batman comics. It’s not Shakespeare, but it did create a little time capsule of late 20th Century society. Batman confronts Ethiopian hunger and takes down Shiite terrorists. The Joke meets the Ayatollah and becomes Iran’s UN Ambassador. Robin finds out his mother fled the country after performing back-alley abortions. Holy relevance, Batman! Recommended, but only for pop culture enthusiasts.
Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 1 – A trade paperback of the early U.Y. comic appearances. It was a bit uneven, possibly because it hadn’t quite figured out the tone for voice for this cartoon-animal samurai Western. It was a bit like reading storyboards if Akira Kurosawa had direct animation for Walt Disney. Get it on sale if you are curious.
Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago..., Vol. 4 – If you think Star Wars got bad with the prequels, try reading this collection of 80s comics. They make George Lucas look like freaking John Milton. The stuff gets really weird when what was more a less a kids’ series introduces an entire race of crimson-skinned nymphomaniacs (who make Jar Jar Binks look like Sidney Poitier). Recommended for historical value.
Transformers Armada Omnibus – These are not comics about my Transformers. These were comics about Transformers for kids growing up in the early 21st Century. This iteration of Transformers featured the minicons, which were basically the robot equivalent of Pokemon—you had to catch ’em all. The plot got really rushed and confused. Characters seem to drop in and out. Artists would change, and all the characters would look different. By the end, I had no idea what was going on and no idea why I should care. It did make me run to eBay to see if I could find any mini-con toys cheap, though. I couldn’t. Not recommended.