It seems a little depressing that this has turned into “Shit on DC and Futures End every week” lately, but… this month has been pretty shit for them. It should have been a great month where the weekly series is amplified and kicks into high gear. Instead, it’s been a big fucking flop just as Marvel does their own future story that’s already better. ALREADY.

I only feel bad, because it happened on a week where the Mr. Terrific stuff was great. Both the 35 years in the future scene (which was somewhat ruined by the cover given how subtle it was trying to play it) and the bit with the thieves in his security holding cell. The Cadmus Island stuff continues to be shit, though. And the Tim Drake stuff… eh, it could go either way. Really, there are good things in Futures End; they’re always stuck next to bad things, though. And the one-shots this month have only made it seem worse.

There’s still next week, though. I’m holding out hope for Futures End: Booster Gold and Futures End: Superman to deliver.

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The US Congress is looking at deep cuts to knock back the federal deficit. One of the areas they’re looking for cuts is in discretionary spending, including Community Development and Community Service Block Grants. Flathead Reporter Katrin Frye has more on what those cuts mean on the local level.

No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to Montana Public Radio.

Here’s a paragraph that I wrote before deciding to go in a different direction. I would have eventually gotten to Lois Lane deciding to reveal that Billy Batson is Superman. Someone who cares more could probably tie that into the recent hacked photos thing, TMZ, and modern journalism. Anyway, here’s the unused bonus paragraph:

The line that I have a hard time getting past is the one drawn for Ronnie Raymond earlier in Futures End where his shutting off his phone to have sex was vilified by his Firestorm partner and the Justice League. He hadn’t quit being Firestorm, he chose to take half an hour for himself. It was nothing that all of them hadn’t done for themselves, of course, yet his choice was wrong because Green Arrow was killed (or, faked his death) at that particular time. In Futures End: Justice League United, Buddy Baker passes on joining the League to help out J’onn J’onnz because he has given up being a superhero to be with his family. Maybe it’s that Equinox is the one asking and she’s an understanding person, but his choice isn’t vilified. Ronnie took half an hour; Buddy has quit forever, no exceptions (theoretically)… and, yet, I bet even readers sympathise with Buddy more. Familiarity with the character and the prioritising over a family over casual sex play their roles; in many ways, Buddy’s situation is more sympathetic despite it being far, far more selfish. Drawing it out further, you can look at what Buddy has lost being a superhero – but Ronnie lost his mom in the war, unable to save her because he was with the other heroes of Earth in a ‘higher priority’ location.

A Legacy Diminished.

There is irony in the timing of President Obama’s recent decision to greatly reduce funding of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program. News of proposed budget cuts to CSBG, Head Start, and other vital programs that serve those impacted by poverty was released just one month after the passing of the man who, at the urging of President Lyndon Johnson, led the war on poverty and spearheaded the Community Action movement as head of the Office of Economic Opportunity in the mid-1960’s.  

R. Sargent Shriver, who passed away on January 18 at the age of 95, was a true public servant who launched, along with Community Action, programs such as the Peace Corp, VISTA, Job Corps, Legal Services for the Poor, and Head Start.  Sadly, the passing of this iconic figure may well have closed a chapter in our history when helping every American achieve success meant creating and sustaining opportunity at all levels.  Despite the uncertainty facing many of our programs, we will continue to proudly carry Sargent Shriver’s legacy of service forward by fulfilling the Community Action promise to make America a better place to live.

Community Service Grants enable agencies to provide bright path for many in Alabama


Lesley Schaniel received a boost from the Community Action Agency of South Alabama to help her regain a footing in life.

When Lesley Schaniel walked through the doors of the Community Action Agency of South Alabama office in Daphne, she thought of herself as a “lost woman.”

Having no home, little education and three boys to rear, Schaniel came to the agency to fulfill a job-training requirement needed for her to continue receiving federal assistance with food and housing through the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

That day marked a turning point in her life, Schaniel said.

She found herself interviewing for a temporary 30-hour-per-week job, offered as part of an on-the-job-training program for recipients of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

“I never worked in an office environment, and I was thinking, they’re not going to take me or let me stay,” Schaniel said. “But then they said, ‘When can you start?’”

Long before Schaniel entered the agency, a number of local, state and federal programs and activities were brought together to make this opportunity available. A key program was the Community Service Block Grant, administered at the state level by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

This grant program provides significant support for the work of the Community Action Agency of South Alabama and 20 similar agencies located across the state. ADECA receives CSBG funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help low-income residents achieve self-sufficiency through a variety of programs to mitigate the effects of poverty and address potential barriers to success. Helping residents like Schaniel develop the skills needed for a job with a livable wage is the most effective route to self-sufficiency.

Agency Executive Director Cassandra Boykin said Schaniel was quiet and reserved when she started, but soon an outgoing, friendly personality emerged.

“She saw how giving back and assisting others can give you a positive outlook,” Boykin said.

Schaniel rotated around different departments as part of the job-training program, receiving guidance from several mentors in the agency. She also received clothing from the agency’s thrift store and learned professional and computer skills through classes offered by the agency.  

“I started believing in myself simply because they believed in me,” Schaniel said.

One qualification she lacked was a high school diploma. With the encouragement of Boykin and other staffers, Schaniel began taking a GED preparation class and studying while at work. In April 2013, she passed the exam and earned a GED.

These days, Schaniel is off all federal housing and food assistance and is working full time as the agency’s receptionist, but her aspirations do not end there. She is enrolled in college and working toward earning an associate’s degree in business.

“I’m no longer lost,” she said. “I’m not sure exactly where I’m going or how fast I’ll get there; all I know for sure is I want to be better and smarter, and it’s all because of this one group of people in Daphne, Alabama.”

Community action agencies in Alabama offer a variety of services depending on the specific needs of the communities they serve. Services may include employment support, parenting classes, transitional housing, summer youth programs, financial literacy programs and emergency food and shelter.

In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, ADECA administered Community Service Block Grants totaling $11.7 million; during the same period, community action agencies served 256,591 Alabama residents who needed assistance and met the qualification requirements. More than 34,000 received food assistance, 21,000 received child-care assistance and more 12,000 received health-care assistance. 

Another View Archive and Thoughts

Here is the archive for my Another View posts on Age of Ultron #10. It was an exercise that I came up with a long time ago while watching Breaking Bad where Jesse and what’s-her-name go see those Georgia O’Keefe paintings of the doors. She painted the same door again and again and that seemed like something that would be fun to do with writing about comics. It took a while for me to be in the right headspace to want to attempt this. I didn’t choose a comic at complete random, but I did go for quasi-random after kicking out some writers whose work I had written about quite extensively (Casey, Starlin, Ellis). I narrowed in on something from Bendis’s Avengers run and was actually thinking about a random issue somewhere in the middle. Like a “part 3 of 6” kind of issue, but, for whatever reason, Age of Ultron #10 stuck out. I’m amazed that I made it the full 31 days. There weren’t many days where I struggled too much, though. I knew I would repeat myself, so I didn’t let that get in the way of using repetition to maybe stumble across something new. Oddly, the posts that attracted the least amount of comments were the posts that focused on the art (which says something about readers’ interest in reading about art or about my ability to write about art or both). By the end, an odd thing happened where, usually, in the final third of a post, I’d begin a paragraph that was tangental enough and rich enough that I cut it out and used it to begin the next day’s post. That happened four or five times… The Random Thoughts post was similar in its function as an idea generator that I raided throughout the month. And, I don’t know how, but that final post actually came out exactly as I hoped. I may hate it a month from now, but… that’s how it goes.

As I said in the comments of the final post, I’m not planning to do this again any time soon. It was part pure exercise and part warmup to get back into a little bit of writing shape as I begin work on a book for Sequart titled The Infinity Effect, about Jim Starlin’s cosmic work. It will require more focus/patience/hard work than this past month’s writing, but the fact that I wrote around 21,500 words in a month like that definitely has me thinking that I can do this.

Big Brother 16 : Wednesday - July 16, 2014

Big Brother 16 : Wednesday – July 16, 2014

So I’ve been asked where I got Random Thoughts and the format.  I was inspired by Chad Nevett from Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should Be Good, where he was a columnist.

I’ve asked Chad if I can borrow the Random Thoughts structure and he was nice enough to say yes.  So that’s why it is more of a stream-of-consciousness type of…

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U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and 28 others signed a letter of support today for the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides core funding for many Community Action initiatives across the country, including here in Washington County.

"In this current economic climate, the need to maintain services and assistance to low and moderate income households is overriding."

CDBG and CSBG dollars are in serious danger of being cut in President Obama’s FY2011 budget proposal.  You can encourage Senator Wyden and members of Congress to join Senator Merkley in speaking up before it’s too late.

TLIID = “The Line it is Drawn”

From Comic Book Resources:

"Read on for the sketches that came about courtesy of the last question/challenge!

The Case of the Stolen Superpower! Name a comic book character and then give that character the powers of another comic book character. Batman with the Flash’s power, Wonder Woman with Black Canary’s power, etc. Idea courtesy of our own Yukinori Xum.


I got Hawkman with Wolverine’s claws and skeleton. Full article is here