Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Year in Books and the Year Without Books

Last December, I looked around my living room and noticed that I had a problem. There were unread books under both end tables, and under the coffee table. While this has been pretty normal for my living room the entire time that I've lived in this apartment, a new development was troubling me: there were also multiple stacks of unread books next to the coffee table, enough of them to reach the height of the coffee table and extend its length by almost two feet. Those books were there because I ran out of room under the tables.

When was I going to read these books?

And why was I still buying more books, pretty much every weekend?

I decided that I needed to address the situation, so I made a New Year's Resolution: I would not buy any books in 2018. I needed to read books and get them out of the apartment, so I made myself some rules.

1) I could buy one book during the year. I knew I would need an out at some point during the year, but, unfortunately for me, I burned my one book before the end of January, when I found out that Chad Michael Murray, the actor, wrote a book with Heather Graham, a legitimate author.

I regret nothing, because this book was a hilarious shitshow.

American Drifter introduced us to River Roulet, a young US army veteran trying to put the horrors of war behind him by backpacking through Brazil. While in Rio, he meets a beautiful woman, but she is the girlfriend of a powerful drug lord who rules Rio with an iron fist. So River and Natal, the beautiful woman, are on the run from the henchmen of her drug dealer boyfriend. They take trains and busses and hide in abandoned houses, but the men always seem to find them and River and Natal keep getting separated but their love is so strong that they always find each other again even in the extremely crowded streets of Rio.

Except that there is no Natal.

I know I'm not supposed to laugh, but Natal was his wife who was killed while he was deployed with the army. They always wanted to go to Brazil, so when he gets discharged for PTSD he goes, drops off the grid to become a handsome drifter, and the entire book is just his PTSD hallucination. The men constantly chasing him are the private investigators his parents hired to find him. In the end they take him back to America and he is institutionalized.

Except he also actually really did fight a Brazilian drug lord. And burned down his heavily armed compound. While hallucinating that he was rescuing Natal.

2) My other exception was that I was allowed to buy any copy of Joan Crawford's My Way of Life, because I've been looking for that thing for years and I was not about to pass it up. In August, I found out that with the popularity of Feud someone put the book back into print, so I ordered one, but haven't read it yet.

Other than those two books, I only slipped one time during the whole year. I was in Pittsburgh in October for a conference, and I spotted this for fifty cents in a bin at a comic store:

Elvis sightings

How could I not want that?

Yes, I broke my resolution, but I guarantee that book is worth it.

I made a second book-related resolution this year, which was to keep track of the books that I read and data about them in a spreadsheet, so that I could draw a picture of my reading habits at the end of the year. I usually just keep a running list of summaries, but I was curious about what this could tell me, and started tracking on January 1. I used the following columns on my spreadsheet:

1) Title
2) Author
3) Author Sex
4) Publication Year
5) Format
6) Author Race
7) Days Spent Reading
8) Fiction/Nonfiction
9) Stars Out of Five
10) Genre
11) Page Count
12) How Was it Acquired?
13) Any Awards?

So, what did we learn?

Title and Author I read 51 books this year. This is low for me, but there was a period from late July to late August where I just stopped reading. I stopped doing a lot of things about halfway through the year, like updating this blog regularly, staying on diet, getting all my steps regularly, and eventually reading for fun, but by November I was turning most of that around. Hopefully that means I will be back to my normal reading levels soon.

Author Sex If I couldn't find a record of the author self-identifying, I went with the one that they appeared to be. I may have misgendered someone, for which I apologize, but statistics allow a margin of error, so it doesn't matter much one way or the other if I got a few wrong. Two of the books I read this year had multiple authors, so I have 53 authors for 51 books. Of those 53 authors, I read 20 women and 33 men. It's not an even split, but it's not horribly out of balance. Maybe I'll try alternating this year, to see if I can get it more even.

Publication Year I'm not sure why I thought this was information that I needed to track, but 47 books were published in this century, and 4 were published in the last one. The oldest book I read was published in 1955.

Format I didn't finish a single book on my Kindle this year, and I don't listen to audiobooks, so my only formats are paperback and hardcover. I read 14 hardcovers and 37 paperbacks.

Author Race Like the category of Author Sex, I did my best with this one. While I have 1 unknown, the majority of authors I read this year appeared to be white. And when I say the majority, I mean 47 out of 53. I need to make a more conscious effort this year to seek out voices other than white ones.

Days Spent Reading It takes me an average of 4.7 days to finish a book.

Fiction or Nonfiction I read 34 works of fiction, and 17 nonfiction.

Stars Out of Five I am apparently somewhat stingy with my stars. Here are the books that I gave five stars to:

Rob Rufus' Die Young With Me

Tina Fey's Bossypants

Margaret Lazarus Dean's Leaving Orbit: Notes From the Last Days of American Spaceflight

M. R. Carey's The Girl With All the Gifts

Michelle Obama's Becoming

Adam Silvera's They Both Die At The End

That's it. Everything else I read was somehow disappointing in some way, and it cost them at least one star. I didn't read any books that I only gave one star two, but four only got two stars.

Genre Genre was all over the place. The category I read the most of was science fiction, and second place was a tie between horror and memoir. Some people would argue that those are the same category. I tried to mark what a book mainly was, even though several of them would have fit in multiple categories.

Page Count The shortest book I read was 152 pages, and the longest 678. My average page count was 353.

How Was It Acquired? I borrowed one book, and found two in free book piles in the Communications Building hallways. Out of the rest, 25 were gifts, and 23 were books I bought for myself.

Any Awards? This section may also be inaccurate, as it was hard to track down the information. Amazon, GoodReads, Wikipedia, and Google Books are all inconsistent about listing a book's awards, so I did my best to research. As near as I can tell, seven books that I read this year won awards.

I'm planning to track the books this way again this year, and while I am not resolving not to buy any, I am going to be conscious of what I am purchasing and when I actually plan to read it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Knoxville Covenant Health Half Marathon

I've spent two years trying to participate in the Knoxville half marathon, which I finished on Sunday.

Knoxville half marathon 2018

I first became aware of this race in March 2016, when I was walking to Sunday brunch with my friends and crossed the race course a few times. During one of those crossings, I stopped to talk to a volunteer who explained that the race goes through Knoxville and finishes on the 50 yard line at Neyland Stadium. Living in Knoxville, that's kind of a big deal. At this point, I'd already finished the Great Smoky Mountains half marathon and the Asheville half marathon at the Biltmore, so the idea of doing another wasn't terrifying, and in August of 2017, right before I did the GSM half again, I registered for the Knoxville Covenant Health Half Marathon for Spring 2017.

Then I didn't participate in the race.

The month before the race, I did the Asheville half again, and not only did I come in last place but I also picked up a terrible cold that ended up settling into my chest and hung around for a month. I was determined to still do the Knoxville half, and took so much cold medicine that I am probably on a list somewhere as a possible meth cooker, but the week of the race I was still coughing and my average mileage time was a half hour a mile, so I had to painfully admit that I could not do this race. Since I didn't cancel until the week of, I lost my registration fee, and I was too ashamed to even go pick up my race shirt. I was so mad and disappointed in myself for getting sick and for not going to see a doctor to receive actual treatment rather than dosing myself with Mucinex and orange juice for a month, and I resolved that this year, it was going to happen.

And it did.

After finally defeating the GSM half this fall (I mean it; I'm not doing that one again because the course has physically injured me two years in a row) I decided not to do the Asheville half again. I got a flu shot this year, which I usually never do. I physically avoided any friend who said they had a cold. My health was not going to be an issue this year, even if I had to sequester myself and live in a Lysol-scented bubble. I did not get a cold.

But damn, this race was a bit of a struggle.

At first, I wasn't intimidated by the course, because a lot of it takes place on streets and greenways that I normally walk on the weekends. Sure, I don't normally add them together in this particular combination, but I've walked a lot of the course at various times and for various differences, and wasn't too afraid. I even talked to people who had done it, and they all assured me that there were only a couple of terrible hills, and long stretches that were "mostly flat". I even agreed, because I pictured them in my head and thought things like, "Yes, Forest is mostly flat" without thinking things like, "It's mostly flat because the entire street is just one long rise in elevation". I got a little bit more worried when I looked at the elevation chart. There is never a spot where this course is flat. There are spots that are flat-ish, in that they are flatter than other parts, but no parts are actually flat.

People warned me that the hill on Noelton Drive (it's not really "on" Noelton so much as it is Noelton; the entire street is a hill) was the worst, but that came after an entire neighborhood of hills. It was a lot, and my legs felt like jelly when I got to the top of it, which was kind of a bad thing since that hill is pretty close to the halfway mark. I even felt a little dizzy for a moment, and thought about telling the next cop car I saw that I was done. Fortunately, just before the Mile 8 marker, the course goes past my friend Mindy's driveway, and Mindy's whole family and my friend Yodi were all out in the driveway to cheer for me. I've never had a cheering section at a race before, other than at the end when my friends finish before me, and it was shockingly motivating. Yodi even ran out to walk with me for a minute. He was playing some sort of song on a speaker, and wanted me to dance, but I have no idea what that song was because at that point all I could mentally process was, "I have to finish now."

Knoxville half marathon 2018

"You can do it!" Yodi told me.

"I want to die," I answered.

Later, just after Mile 9, I tried to cut around a large puddle on the Third Creek Greenway by stepping onto the grass, and I went all the way down onto both hands and both shins in mud. Other runners offered to help, but I was good and covered. I looked kind of like I turned the half marathon into a Spartan Race, but I kept going. When I was telling my mom about it on the phone, she asked, "Well, what did you do?" and that was my answer. I kept going. Four miles from the finish, someone could have covered me in a bucket of pig blood like Carrie at the prom, and I would have wiped it out of my eyes and kept walking. I'm not stopping for mud.

I also wasn't hurt, and I didn't die.

Knoxville half marathon 2018

I finished.

I do have to disagree with the idea that Noelton is the worst hill. My vote goes for the one at 22nd Street, because it went on forever. Noelton is steeper, but you can see the top. On 22nd Street, it just felt like you were climbing and climbing and climbing, and eleven miles into the race that's not a feeling that you want to have, especially when it was past the last water station.

I also have to take a moment to thank my friends. They sent encouragement online, and texts. My friend Erin saw me on TV and texted me the photo during the race, so that I saw it on my Apple Watch and thought, "Holy shit, I'm on TV." (That was fascinating to me because nobody ever takes pictures of the back of the race. You always see photos of the front people, the ones who are sleek and running and managing to smile, but nobody ever takes pictures of the slow, steady turtles at the back.) Mindy asked if I wanted them to run out with any specific consumables, an offer that I might take her up on next year because that spot is a great place for a quick sugar rush. Yodi gave me a hug when I needed one. Sara met me at the stadium, held my stuff when I wanted to immediately go to the bathroom to wash my hands (God bless her. She deserves some kind of a medal because my attitude for about 20 minutes after I finish a half marathon is a mix of disjointed enthusiasm and irritation. I handed her my water bottle and the bag with my other shoes and blurted, "I'M DONE WITH THESE. I'M DONE," and she took them without batting an eye.), untied one of my shoes for me when I was having trouble bending, drove me to brunch to meet our friends Drew and Peter, didn't complain when I wanted to catch Pokémon for a minute after brunch, and drove me back to my car later.

My friends are wonderful.

They are currently all forgiven for any incidences of tardiness to meals, movies, or other events over the past year.

And now I have a time to measure myself against when I do this race again next year.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

(Belated) Bring Your Action Figure to Work Day

Friday, according to the internets, was Bring Your Action Figure to Work Day. I missed it in 2017, so I wanted to be sure to remember it in 2018, and stuck it on my calendar. Coincidentally, I also had a vacation day stuck on my calendar for Friday, so I missed the entire day, and decided to make up for it yesterday. As I did in 2016, I brought Northstar, and he seemed to find the whole thing as distasteful as he did last time he was here.

Take your action figure to work day

This is what you do? You talk on a phone all day?

Well, not all day. I mean, I talk on the phone a lot, but...

This is an actual job, that people are paid for? Why didn't you become a gay world champion downhill skier, like me? Or Gus Kenworthy? That's much more exciting.

I don't know. I'm not good at skiing.

Also, your office is messy.

Take your action figure to work day

You don't have a cup for these pens? You just fling them anywhere?

Well, I mean...

Take your action figure to work day

Why do you still have eclipse glasses on your desk? Are you saving them for the next eclipse? Are you, Joel?

Maybe?

It's half a decade away, Joel. You're going to go half a decade without cleaning your desk off?

Cleaning my desk off doesn't mean throwing everything on it away.

Is that a Hydra pin?

What?

Take your action figure to work day

Are you in Hydra, Joel? If I lean in, are you going to whisper, "Hail Hydra" to me?

No! Somebody gave that to me.

Sure. OK. That's why you still have it.

Take your action figure to work day

Why do those toys live in your office? They're not good enough for your apartment?

No. I like those toys. I just think they look good on the bookshelf.

Is that the lie your Hydra masters told you to tell?

No?

And this...

Take your action figure to work day

Why do you have a whole drawer full of stress balls, Joel?

Mostly for conversations like this.

Take your action figure to work day

And why are we even still here, having this conversation? It's after five.

I don't know, Northstar.

I don't know.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

All the Books I read in January and a little bit of February

I am five weeks, and six books, into the new year. I was going to only talk about the books I read in January, but I was so close to finishing the book I started at the end of the month and I was kind of busy at the end of the week, so a little bit of February reading is squeaking in.

First, I read Noah Cicero's Go To Work and Do Your Job. Care for Your Children. Pay Your Bills. Obey the Law. Buy Products., which was recommended by my friend Todd, and which led to a kind of hilarious recommendation from Amazon in my inbox:

Amazon

The title of the book is the same as the five guiding principles at NEOTAP, the government run prison where Mike gets a job. Mike doesn't really want to work at NEOTAP, but he needs a job and health insurance, and he has to pay his student loans, so he tries not to notice how weird it is to work there. You're not allowed to ask any questions, but no one will tell you the rules. The prisoners and the staff are watched by a surveillance system at all times, and are constantly called in to discuss their numerous infractions of the rules that no one is allowed to ask about. Mike eventually befriends and starts dating Monica, another NEOTAP employee, but then Mike disappears. To find him, Monica will have to find out the truth about NEOTAP and the vast conspiracy behind it. She'll also have to learn how to shoot a gun.

I gave this three out of five stars. It was sort of interesting, but also moved very quickly, and didn't quite hang together at the end.

After that I breezed through Kevin Kwan's China Rich Girlfriend, the sequel to "Crazy Rich Asians". It was entertaining, just like the first book, and I gave it four out of five stars just because it held my interest, had some educational footnotes, and kept me occupied until my next book arrived in the mail.

The next book was Fire and Fury, which I've already talked about. I gave it three out of five stars, and I think it's interesting how the controversy has already died off. It's been a month, and nobody is talking about this book anymore. It'll be interesting to see how the paperback sales go, since probably everyone who wants to read this already has.

After I finished that, it turned out that "Crazy Rich Asians" had a third sequel, Rich People Problems, which concludes the "Crazy Rich Asians" trilogy. It was also entertaining, but I didn't think it was as good as the first two, and only gave it three out of five stars. Basically, if you want to read "Dynasty" or "Dallas", but starring Asians in Singapore, then these are the books for you.

I switched from novels to short stories for the next book, Gilbert Allen's The Final Days of Great American Shopping. This set of interlocking short stories documents the shopping lives, past, present, and near future, of the residents of Belladonna, a gated community in South Carolina. They buy storm windows that destroy their lawns, houses with helicopters hidden in the garage, shoes that change their lives, and cars that become their coffins. I gave it three out of five stars, but now that I'm thinking about it later I'm wondering if it maybe needed four.

I definitely gave four stars to the last book of the month, Daniel O'Brien's How To Fight Presidents. This hilarious guide (I laughed out loud for real a couple of times) goes from president to president, chapter by chapter, giving a brief biography and then explaining what you'd have to do to beat them in a fight. It doesn't include any presidents who were alive at the time of publication, presumably to avoid inciting violence against a current or former president, but it was really funny.

And it includes a bonus chapter on Zombie Teddy Roosevelt to make up for the absences.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Fire and Fury

Like a lot of America (according to the most recent sales figures I could find online, over a million hardcover readers, 250,000 e-readers, and 100,000 audiobook listeners), I spent some time at the beginning of the month reading Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury.

Fire and Fury

I was one of the people fortunate enough to order my Amazon copy before it went on backorder, so I got mine at the original release date and then spent a week reading it. Now that I've finished it, there's very little I can tell you about it that you haven't already heard. Most of my friends asked me to please share the good parts, but if you watched the news the week it came out, or read an article about the book, then you've heard all of the good parts. Everyone picked the same twenty or so excerpts and stories, because they really are the twenty or so best excerpts and stories, and almost all of them come from the first 100 pages.

With that in mind, here are my thoughts on the very first book that my mom and I have ever bought and been reading at the exact same time.

1) It needed a better copy editor. Parts of this feel rushed, and in the hardcover (the version I read) there are typos, accidental homophone switches, and I'm pretty sure I read at least once sentence that didn't have a verb. (I wish I'd marked the page.) The writing itself could also be better. One of my friends gushed, "It's like All the President's Men, but written by Regina George!"

As a person who has read "All the President's Men" and who is very familiar with the works of Regina George, I just have to say no.

This comparison is not appropriate.

Regina George was gossipy, vicious, and convinced of her own importance, but she was also smart. She had cunning. This book is "All the President's Men" by Gretchen Wieners. All the gossip, none of the smarts. Anecdotes are delivered bluntly and chronologically. There's no finesse, and no attempt at building a plot. Wolff really did just sit down and type out everything he heard.

2) The only story in here that I haven't seen mentioned in the media and thought was interesting was that Anna Wintour, famous editor of "Vogue" and real life inspiration for Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada", visited Trump Tower during the post-election, pre-Inauguration transition period to try to secure the position of Ambassador to the United Kingdom. According to the book, she also did the same thing to President Obama.

3) This book has a surprising amount of backstory. If you're not sure how Steve Bannon got attached to the campaign and ended up in the White House, how Kellyanne Conway jumped from the Cruz campaign to the top of the current administration, or who the Mercers are, this book will do a lot to clear that up for you. While people have attacked the accuracy of some of the book, nobody has attacked those pieces, so I assume it is a fairly accurate history lesson.

4) "Jarvanka" is a wonderful nickname.

5) Jarvanka, if the book is to be believed, somehow still imagine themselves to be liberal Democrats despite being key players in this administration. They do not seem to understand that their brand is permanently tainted. I imagine this is a consequence of being so wealthy that you are insulated from direct criticism.

6) So much of this administration's behavior, and the stories that keep coming out in the news of secret meetings, financial entanglements, and botched security clearances, among other things, can be explained by the book's basic premise that this campaign never expected to win. They didn't care who they were actually meeting with, because they never imagined that their meetings would be scrutinized. Who looks at who the losers talked to? He never released his tax returns because he never imagined that his finances would actually matter. That's why there was no plan to divest from businesses, or to hire a staff, or to fill a slate of appointments. They didn't think any of it would be necessary.

So... was this a good book?

I think so. It was interesting, and if even half of it is true, it was very enlightening. I'm sure it won't be the only book about this administration, but I doubt any of the others will make this big of a splash.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lois Lane: Special Victims Unit

Back in 2014, when my friend Kristin still lived in North Carolina, I went to visit her for a few days. We went to thrift stores and sight seeing, I made her watch the "Saved by the Bell" Lifetime movie, and while we were at the only comic store that she knew of in her city (it somehow never occurred to either of us to google and see if there were others), I bought the two issue "Lois Lane" miniseries from 1986.

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

This miniseries is important to the publishing history of Lois Lane in a few different ways: it's her first miniseries, and it is the first Lois Lane comic that doesn't also have Superman's name on it, despite there having been over a hundred issues of her own series. That one was technically titled "Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane".

This miniseries is also important because it is the weirdest, darkest Lois Lane story ever published.

I honestly can't believe DC Comics published this at all, and I get the impression that they initially didn't want to. It seems like something they commissioned and paid for, and then decided to shelve for a while. I don't know for sure that I'm right, but here's why I think so:

1) It was published in 1986, but takes place during the plot structure of the Superman books in 1983. Specifically, it follows almost directly out of "Superman" #388, and picks up a subplot in that book. Why write a miniseries about a subplot from three years earlier?

2) It was clearly written to be 4 issues long, which was the size of most DC miniseries at the time, but was then published as two double sized issues, with four chapters total, that both stop on a cliffhanger exactly halfway through each issue that is immediately resolved on the next page.

3) This miniseries was never referenced in comics again.

While this book was being published and sold, DC was already in the process of publishing the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" 12 issue maxi-series, which rewrote and streamlined their entire continuity. One effect of that rewrite was that the Superman books were rebooted entirely, which means that DC was publishing this book even while they knew it would immediately be wiped from their continuity. Everything about this just seems like they paid someone to write it, saw how badly the story doesn't actually work, let it sit on a shelf for a few years, and then said, "Hell, we might as well try to make some money out of it anyway," and dropped it onto the news stands.

Given that much buildup, you're probably wondering what's so terrible about this story, and that's a little harder to explain. It was clearly written with the best of intentions, and was intended to be a serious, "real world issues" book of the type that DC had published before with varying degrees of success. This book is a little different, though, because it not only tries to be ultra-serious, but it's also one of DC's earliest attempts at publishing the kind of grim and gritty work that independent publishers and their competition had already been doing. It slightly predates "Watchmen" (the second issue of this series has an ad for the upcoming "Watchmen" series), predates the Joker beating the second Robin to death, and came out at a time when DC was more or less seen as the CBS network of comics: old, kind of stuffy, and mostly filled with the kind of stories your parents might like.

Lois Lane, whose comic for decades involved scheming to get Superman to marry her, turning into monsters by accident, and getting caught up in wacky schemes, wasn't quite the right character for a super-serious story about child abduction and murder, but damn, they sure did try.

Our story opens with everyone at the Daily Planet newspaper worried about Lois, and pretty much assuming she was in the middle of a breakdown. She had recently broken up with Superman, and had recently blown a big story about the Middle East. Lois was supposed to be conducting a joint interview with fighting Middle Eastern leaders, but the peace talks fell apart. At the same time, Lois and Superman's relationship fell apart, so he flew her off somewhere (at her request) to think about her life. While she was doing that, the peace talks suddenly got back on track, and since nobody could find Lois, Lana Lang flew in and conducted the joint interview for her job on the nightly news, where Clark Kent was her co-anchor and boyfriend.

In the previously mentioned "Superman" #388, Lana is collecting her accolades from her colleagues at an office party:

From “Superman” #388, DC Comics 1983

when Lois arrives to congratulate her. Lana responds in typical Lana fashion by throwing some of the shade that she's so famous for:

From “Superman” #388, DC Comics 1983

Lois responds by throwing punch:

From “Superman” #388, DC Comics 1983

and Lana responds to that by actually trying to drown Lois in punch:

From “Superman” #388, DC Comics 1983

They end up in a knock down, drag out fight in front of all of their coworkers:

From “Superman” #388, DC Comics 1983

and then Lois is suddenly clawing at a Superman recycling poster and weeping:

From “Superman” #388, DC Comics 1983

Again, this took place in front of everyone from the newspaper department and everyone from the TV news division. That's why everyone is convinced that Lois may be cracking up: because maybe she is.

And then Lois' miniseries starts, and things go fully off the rails. The story starts with Lois pushed to the back pages of the newspaper, and trying to go on dates with guys who aren't Superman. Our story begins with Lois ditching her date, and taking his car, to follow some police cars to the docks:

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

At this point, there's still a chance that we're about to end up in a regular Lois Lane story. "Maybe it's treasure from a shipwreck!" Yes, maybe! Or, maybe not.

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

Again, this could have been a very serious story about child abduction, but the writing goes so far over the top that it lands somewhere on the other side. "A grotesque parody of a cabbage patch doll." Just let that wording sink in for a minute.

Lois is, understandably, shaken by this.

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

Lois is, apparently, also a former Republican voter, giving the familiar "I never cared about this problem until it was my problem" that anybody who watches the news has heard dozens of times. She heads home to get some sleep before work, and the book decides to introduce a subplot that goes nowhere: Lois' sister Lucy, a flight attendant, tries to get in touch with her between planes.

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

This will come up several times during the story, but Lucy's presence will never actually be important to the story.

Lois goes to work the next day, determined to write a hard hitting investigative piece about missing and exploited children, and the editor is having none of it. Lois no longer commands the front page after blowing the Middle East story, but he's willing to throw her a bone and let her write something for Janice, the Features and Lifestyles editor. Lois responds in predictable Lois fashion:

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

"Your section of the paper is garbage, Janice." She doesn't actually say that, but she might as well. Janice, rather than firing her, decides to let Lois go work on her story anyway, and Lois immediately heads out to interview the head of a child-finding agency. Again, the writing tries so hard to make this lady seem gritty and real world that it's almost laughable:

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

"I stopped, for a while..." and then she launches into two or three pages of the terrible things she's seen, the missing kids, the families getting called about bodies, and the kids who are never found at all. Lois takes lots of notes, especially when a family whose toddler daughter was just kidnapped at the hamburger stand comes rushing in, weeping and blaming each other.

Meanwhile, Lucy is still trying to get in touch with Lois, and goes to Clark and Lana's apartment.

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

Lana just can't help those shady side comments. She and Clark do try to get the sisters in touch:

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

and Lois is as nice to Lucy as she was to Janice. Lana, sensing an opportunity for drama, immediately takes action:

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

Her motives are predictably Lana-esque:

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

but again, this side plot never goes anywhere. Clark isn't in the mood for it, anyway, because he's worried:

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

He's also getting his hair combed there because he and Lana are about to do the nightly news broadcast. I assume that, normally, Clark combs his own hair.

After some more investigating, Lois comes home to find that the doorman let Lucy into her apartment, and they have another heated conversation while, weirdly, Lois strips down and takes a bath in front of her sister:

From “Lois Lane” Book One, DC Comics, 1986

Is this something that sisters do?

Lucy stomps out, and the next morning she and Jimmy Olsen cook up some sort of plan:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

They're going to somehow help Lois with this story by pretending to get married.

Lois is out helping herself, going to interview the mother of a girl who was abducted and then found.

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

Patty's mom is happy to answer questions, but she also wants to talk to Lois about breaking up with Superman:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

Lois redirects the mother, finally, and we get to their story:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

and then, in case you're not sure what they mean by "did things to her", DC goes all the way over the top again:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

explaining that a toddler "wuzn't no virgin anymore". In a Lois Lane comic. Between some wacky hijinks with Jimmy and Lucy faking a wedding and Lois talking to a stranger about not being in love with Superman. This book veers wildly in tone the entire way through.

Heading back to the office, Lois runs into Lana on the sidewalk out front, and Lana suddenly wants to help:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

Lois isn't having it.

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

And there we are. This is a super serious, grim and gritty real world story with sad detectives and jaded chain smoking social workers and sexually abused little girls, but now we're about to throw in a few panels of Lois and Lana fighting over Clark. Fortunately, Lana isn't down for it.

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

Lois IS raving. She's screaming at Lana in the middle of a sidewalk and Lana, for once, walks away. She, at least, remembers that this is supposed to be a serious comic, and will not lower herself to pulling hair or shoving Lois into traffic. Lois, friendless and alone, heads to a halfway house for troubled teens.

The troubled teens want to talk about her breakup with Superman.

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

At this point, it's almost hilarious that every stranger on the street wants to discuss her relationship, but as she leaves the halfway house she finds another person on the sidewalk wanting to discuss it:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

Lois isn't waiting, Clark. She's got a cape and a coat and a purse and no more time for your crap.

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

Did I mention that, at this time, neither Lois nor Lana is aware that Clark and Superman are the same person?

Meanwhile, Lucy and Jimmy have turned their fake marriage into a story about... something... to help Lois:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

and Lois continues not to have time for them:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

and that's it for that subplot. The book never tells us what the story was about or why it required Jimmy and Lucy to pretend to be married.

On her way to a press conference about another abducted child, Lois runs into Lana, who invites her into the green room for coffee:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

Wait, why does Lana need support? And why does she break down during the police briefing?

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

It turns out that Lana got upset when the police mentioned that the baby's ear had been sent in by the kidnappers, and the reason why is where this story goes all the way into bonkers territory:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

DC Comics decided to use the last four pages of the miniseries to reveal that Lana, while absent for a few years in the Superman comics in the early 1980's, had a secret marriage, had a secretly kidnapped and murdered baby, was keeping the baby's ear in her bank box downtown with her savings bonds because she didn't know what else to do with it, and then they never referenced any of this in a DC Comic again.

And that's it.

Lois and Lucy make up:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

Lois' story gets published, they all go to a funeral for the child from the beginning of the story:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

and there's a six month later epilogue showing that the killer was never found:

From “Lois Lane” Book Two, DC Comics, 1986

and that's it. The miniseries just ends.

And DC Comics never speaks of it again.