Phoenix Vol. 2: Future


I have only a few heroes in this world, and one of them is OSAMU TEZUKA. Who is Mr. Tezuka? Well I’m glad you asked. He is often called the “Walt Disney of Japan” and “the father of manga,” and both are good descriptors. He’s most well known for creating Astro Boy, but he was SUPER prolific. He produced over 700 volumes of manga, which equals to more than 150,000 pages of material, and that isn’t counting his multitude of films, television anime and experimental films. His writing is striking, his art style unique (with a level of detail not seen much even decades after he was actively producing work), and he balances writing adult work with writing children’s work in a way rarely seen. For example, one storyline in Astro Boy involved the boy robot coming face-to-face with the atrocity of genocide. One of the reasons Tezuka is a hero of mine is his intense work ethic. As I mentioned, he produced an INSANE amount of work during his life, but that hasn’t taken into account the fact that he actually went through medical school to become a doctor, but never practiced medicine because he wanted to make comics. I find that remarkable and personally inspiring. Not to mention the fact that it gave him an intimate knowledge of human anatomy that he put to use in his medical works such as his Black Jack series.


There are a number of his works available in English, but I’m going to specifically recommend one volume of one series, Volume 2 of his unfinished magnum opus Phoenix, entitled “Future.” Phoenix was to be life work but he died before he could finish it. The idea behind the series is that each volume would be more or less self contained, following a different cast of characters in a different time period dealing with issues of mortality and the meaning of life. In each volume, someone comes in contact with or is searching for the titular Phoenix, whose blood will grant you eternal life. What would you do for a chance to live forever? In many volumes, the greed and hubris of man is displayed front and center, as this question can bring out the worst in people.


Phoenix’s second volume takes place in the far future of 3404AD where humanity has gotten about as far as it can go, so where do you go from the peak of society? Well, you start to decline. The protagonist, Masato, and his girlfriend Tamami, a shapeshifting alien, get wrapped up into a larger conspiracy and eventually nuclear war breaks out and humanity destroys itself. Now, this may sound like a spoiler, but this is actually when things start to get really interesting. Masato is, if memory serves, the only character in the Phoenix saga that actually manages to drink the mythical bird’s blood, so he lives forever and sees what happens after humanity wipes itself out.


The story becomes this larger, meta statement about the nature of life and its tendency toward self-destruction. Tezuka often incorporates Buddhist concepts (especially the cyclical nature of life) into his work, even famously adapting the life of Buddha into a multi-volume epic story. Future is a story that will make you question your place in the universe. I am willing to say make the bold statement that this book is, hands down, the best comic I have ever read. It has certainly affected my life more than any other.


If you do read this and are inspired, Tezuka has had a number of his adult-oriented books published in English. His Buddha series is something you can’t go wrong with, and his Message To Adolf, about a pair of boys named Adolf, one Jewish and one German, living in World War II Germany, are very much worth seeking out.


You can get Phoenix Vol. 2: Future as a Kindle book for about $10 here, or as a used paperback for a little more around the internet.


Theme for the week of 2/9/15: Turning The Tables

This week, we’re doing something different. Each of our contributors will be writing about something one of the others usually writes about.
Brandon will be writing about comics.
Jeddy will be writing about TV.
Katy will be writing about music.

This should be fun!

Weather Episodes

This week I decided to go with my favorite weather-themed TV episodes. Some are shows I’ve recommended before and some aren’t, but check these out if you’re in the mood for some tempest-themed TV!


“Daria! The Musical” – Daria

Not only is this episode of Daria about a hurricane, it’s also a musical episode, so it’s naturally one of my favorites of this series. Daria, Jane, Brittany, and Kevin get stuck on the roof of Lawndale High right when a hurricane is headed toward the town.

Daria is usually fairly grounded in realism, so there’s some question about whether this episode is supposed to be a stand-alone “special episode,” or if it fits into the canon of the show. It was originally supposed to air somewhere in the middle of season three, but then got bumped up to be the season premiere. I’m not sure what prompted the change, but it does make sense as far as the timeline goes. I’ve never wanted to consider it a holiday from the show’s canon, especially because everyone pretty much accepted the Guy Fawkes Day episode, which is also one of my favorite but probably even more fantastical.


So if you want to get your grungy, angsty, 90’s nostalgia on, check out this gem from Daria. It’s available on Amazon Prime and DVD.


“Two Cathedrals” – The West Wing

Spoiler Warning: this recommendation includes major spoilers for the second season of The West Wing.

There’s a lot to love about The West Wing, but one of my favorite things about it is its incredibly rich characters and their complicated relationships with each other. It allows for fully fleshed out characters through and through, and I can’t think of one character on this show, no matter how secondary, that didn’t feel real to me.

Mrs. Landingham is an amazing character, and since she’s featured in “Two Cathedrals,” it’s one of my favorites. This one takes place right after her death, when there’s a lot of pressure on President Bartlet to announce whether or not he’s going to run after the MS coverup is exposed. The staffers are worried he’s too upset about Mrs. Landingham’s funeral to focus on the re-election and, you know, other presidential stuff.

The best part of this episode is that it flashes back to when President Bartlet is in school and meets Mrs. Landingham, who works for his father. She’s smart, sassy, and pushes the President to do the right thing and stand up to his father. Her influence bleeds over into the present, when President Bartlet has a vision of her in the Oval Office during a tropical storm. She encourages him to run for re-election. It’s emotional. I cry every time.


So, okay, this episode is about Mrs. Landingham’s memory and her funeral more than it’s about the weather. Sue me. It’s a great episode, and if you’re in the mood for a West Wing Greatest Hits marathon, add this one to your list. It’s available on Netflix and DVD.


“Take a Break from Your Values” – Orange is the New Black

This recommendation includes major spoilers for season two of Orange is the New Black

I’ve told you all before how much I love Orange is the New Black. I think it’s new and innovative storytelling about women and that the diversity of the cast and the honesty and relatable plot lines make for exciting television. So I had to include the hurricane episode in season two.

Piper is dealing with the newsletter, but she takes a backseat in this episode to Soso’s issues with a hunger strike and a lot of drama in the prison about an impending hurricane headed for Litchfield. Vee is losing control over her followers as she continues to freeze out Poussey, making Taystee question her motives. Piper finds out she might be moving to Virginia, we see Sister Ingalls’ past in flashback form, and Red and Big Boo have a falling out. The Golden Girls try to stab Vee but they get the wrong inmate, and that’s what you missed on Glee!

I think I love this episode so much because there’s so much going on that no one character has too much screen time. Plus, Larry gets slapped in the face and Big Boo outlines the gay agenda for Pennsatucky, and it is fabulous. The episode falls near the end of season two, and action is really ramping up for the season finale, which everyone who watches the show will surely remember as being insanely awesome and dramatic. If you haven’t watched this show yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. It’s well worth the Netflix subscription.


Orange is the New Black is available exclusively on Netflix.

Stormy Weather

In thinking about music that relates to weather, the work that came to mind primarily fell into three camps: summer, storms/rain, and winter weather. Summer because it seems easy to write a pop song about the fun, lazy days of summer, winter because we have such a connection to holiday music, but storms because they are often used as a metaphor for something else.

Case in point: Stormy Weather by Lena Horne. This song is a standard for a reason. It is beautiful and it lilts right into that reminiscent part your heart. The lyrical imagery and music evoke a quiet, somber rainy day, but this song’s heart is in the question of what one does when their love leaves them. The pining that comes with the absence of your partner is felt through every line of this song. When this loss happens to you, it does indeed feel like a pall is cast over your life. When the clouds are grey and rain blankets your day, things feel heavier and more sorrowful. We all know the sensation. This is the kind of song that is vague enough in lyrical description that you can’t help but insert yourself and your own feelings into the story. Come for the sorrowful song, stay for the reminiscence.

Skipping ahead a few decades, Joshua James’ Winter Storm is tonally similar to Stormy Weather. Instead of referring specifically to the loss of a relationship, however, storms represent pain in general. Pain is part of life. The difference here is that James accepts this pain and actually chooses to embrace it. In this case, the imagery is purposefully limited so that you can apply it to whatever life experience you choose. This song is significant for me because it reminds me of a time when things were very difficult in my personal life and I just wanted to run away from it all, but when I began to embrace what was making me feel this pain, I was able to deal with it.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t write about I Can’t Stand The Rain by Ann Peebles in a conversation about storm-related music. So here you go. If you haven’t heard this song, jump on it. Look, I could write about how it, too, uses a storm as a metaphor for a past relationship, but man… this tune is just so good all I can do is say you should listen to it yourself.

I could write more (for one, I didn’t even touch on Charles Bradley’s storm song or Purple Rain for that matter), but I think you get the idea here. Weather is an evocative metaphor in songs. When played effectively, storms can recall to us love, loss, pain and sorrow. What are your favorite stormy songs?

 -Brandon Telg-

None of these are TV Shows


Although I’m not a particularly huge fan of Alec Baldwin in general, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin has great interviews. Julie Andrews!

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin is a podcast available on iTunes and on


Big Hero Six made me cry a little. It’s sweet, funny, and family friendly. If How to Train Your Dragon 2 wins the Oscar I’ll be pissed.


I just finished Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and loved her writing style. It’s funny and reads a little bit like standup. Better than Bossy Pants.


I’ve listened to Harry Potter audiobooks for years. Jim Dale holds the Guinness record for largest number of unique character voices bc of it.


Recent addition to my podcast library, Ronna & Beverly is a snarky & irreverent parody that constantly makes me laugh out loud on the subway.