Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sporting lives

I'm reading Colin Scotts' biography called All Balls. Now I know he isn't a household name here in Australia, but he was the first Australian to play gridiron professionally, and not as a kicker either but as a defensive end.
It's a humorous read, and Scott's personality shines through, this is a man who generally loves life and what he's achieved. That's not to say things were easy for him on a full scholarship to Hawaii University playing a sport he knew nothing about, and hated by his teammates.

The hazing he suffered is amazing, eye gouging with deep heat on the fingers and it went on, only Scotts' bloody-mindedness made him stick at it.

This is a great read because you get shown behind the scenes and discover what a brutal sport gridiron is when played at the highest level. Recommended for sports fans, gridiron fans or those looking for a quick and funny read.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My criminal ways

Yes, Grand Theft Auto IV was released worldwide today, no I wasn't waiting at midnight for my copy. While this may show a distinct lack of commitment on my part, I will be picking up a copy in the next few days.
I am sure we will hear some outrage about this game, the others in the series have provoked some, so this one will be no different. Yes you can beat up cops, hire hookers than beat them up and steal their money, do drive by shootings, bomb houses, kill, run over pedestrians etc. But if you look behind this you will find a series of games that takes its inspiration from the world around it. If it is possible to do it in real life, then you can try and do it in the game.

I will enjoy playing this, and if the reviews are anything to go buy (average of about 99 out of 100) it will be amazing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mungo strikes again

Mungo MacCallum's new book Poll Dancing is an interesting, and funny look at the last election. MacCallum has a good eye for spotting political rubbish, and is not afraid to prick egos on both sides of politics.
This book is well worth reading if you are interested in Australian politics, like political satire or just want to relive the election campaign. Just be aware the MacCallum can make you laugh and care about politics.

Second time around

A little while ago I talked about re-reading books I like and this is one of them that I have been reading lately. Dan Simmons Hyperion series has been the focus of my re-reading and I must admit that each time I read it I get something new from it.
Simmons wears literary influences on his sleeve with this novel, named after an unfinished Keats poem, and structured like The Canterbury Tales, Simmons sets out to tell an amazing story.

The book revolves around the planet Hyperion and a group of pilgrims who are summoned to the planet because the Shrike is waking up from the Tombs of Time.

The pilgrims decide to tell their stories during the journey to the Tombs and the novel is set out in sections as each pilgrim tells their tale and why they are connected to the Shrike.

This is a fantastic book and is full of ideas and makes the reader think long after they have finished reading it.

This is well worth reading and look for the rest of the series to experience the full scope of this story. The other books are Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Seven down

Reaper's Gale is the seventh book in Steven Erikson's fantasy series and I've just finished pulling myself through it. I do love this series, but the sheer number of characters and locations can be overwhelming at times. It's been a while since I read volume six so I was a bit lost to begin with. Luckily Erikson's world is very detailed and contains interesting characters and I was able to get into it.
But be warned this is another long book in a long series with no end in sight. I think it's well worth reading but only for people with some time to commit to it. Like Robert Jordan's series which I also love. By all means take a punt, but be prepared to be transported to another world, and it may be a long time before you get back so pack a meal.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Phil Jackson is an outstanding basketball coach. 9 NBA titles are proof of this, but he is also a great writer about the sport. I just finished The Last Season. A team in search of its soul and enjoyed it immensely. Jackson is considered a bit of a scruffy revolutionary in the basketball world because he can be unconventional, he practices Buddhism, leads his team in meditation, splices scenes from movies into his game review tapes and has a strong connection with Native American beliefs.
The book deals with the 2003-04 season and the Lakers attempts to win their fourth title in five years. It is fun following the ups and downs of the team on the court as well as the classing ego's of the two best players on the team, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The book also shows what a coach has to go through to try and get a team to play as one, tactician, psychologist, father figure, disciplinarian and personnel manager.

The book is also interesting in its comments about umpiring, and how subjective it is. In the NBA TV ratings decide many things so stars are allowed to get away with more than rookies. So when an umpire calls a nothing foul for the second time in a quarter on a star then the umpire is sending a message to the team, back off. If a player insults an umpire in a previous match, then other umpires in subsequent matches will even the score. And on it goes.

Would the Lakers make it to the finals, would they win? History records that they lost in the Finals to the Detroit Pistons but it was a hell of a ride.

If you like basketball and want to know about what goes on behind the scenes then this is a great read. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Take Two

Do you read books again? Are there certain classics that you keep coming back to? Are there some books that you read every year?
As if there aren't enough books for me to read, I find myself trying to re-read some of my favourites. Why do we do this to ourselves? All the stuff I read, and yet I feel like going over stuff I have already read. I know I'll enjoy it, I did last time, but is this enough of a reason to intrude on my precious reading time.
I don't understand why I do it, but I know I'll keep donig it. After all I haven't stopped yet.