Friday, June 27, 2008


I have finally read Jack Kerouac's On The Road. I really enjoyed it and am glad I finally read it.
From the beginning our narrator speeds the reader along and after some false starts he's off.

"With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road."

Kerouac's tale captures the yearning to be free to explore, as well as the rhythms of the Beat generation.


Gerard Jones has written an amazing book called Killing Monsters. Why children need fantasy, superheroes and make believe violence. He questions a lot of our attitudes towards what we consider violent behaviour and how we react to it. This isn't to say he believes that anything should go, and kids don't need to be protected from violent images. Far from it, what he does discuss is the role play-fighting in the sand pit can have in children's development, and how inconclusive studies about the effects of violence are.
To quote the author;
"We ask absurdly sweeping questions like, what is the effect of media violence on children? as if violence were a single, simple phenomenon of which sandbox play-fights and mass murder mere variations, as if the evening news and Reservoir Dogs and Daffy Duck were indistinguishable, as if children were like trees in an orchard who could be raised to identical form by the same externalities."

As Jones' argues we are perfectly happy to discuss the complexities of life and love but we see violence and media violence, as a single monolithic problem. Nothing in life is that simple, or black and white.
Well worth reading, and sure to make you think about the world around you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Jasper Fforde

I have been a big fan of the Tuesday Next series for awhile, but the latest book in the series, First Among Sequels, makes me feel that Fforde is running out of ideas.
The jokes seem flat, and the situations seem old hat. Normally I would get some good laughs but instead I found myself wishing it was over.

This book will probably not even entertain fans. Avoid to stop being bored.

The complete rules for good writing

  • A writer should not annoy half of his readers by using gender-specific language.
  • Always finish what you star
  • Avoid overuse of ampersands & abbreviations etc.
  • Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  • Always avoid annoying alliteration.
  • Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  • Always pick on the correct idiom.
  • A writer must not shift your point of view.
  • Avoid cliches like the plague - they're so old hat.
  • Be more-or-less specific.
  • Consult the dictonary frequently to avoid mispeling.
  • Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  • Contractions aren't necessary.
  • Do not use, unnecessary, commas.
  • Do not use a foreign word when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.
  • Do not use hyperbole; not even one in a million can do it effectively.
  • Don't repeat yourself and avoid being repetitive.
  • Don't use no double negatives.
  • Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
  • Don't indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.
  • Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!
  • Don't repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
  • 'Don't use unattributed quotations.'
  • Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, 'I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.'
  • Eschew obfuscation.
  • Employ the vernacular.
  • Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  • Exaggeration is a million times worse than understatement.
  • Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  • Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  • It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  • If you reread and reread your work and reread it again to weed out the weeds of repetition.
  • If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  • It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
  • It is recommended that measures should be taken to ensure that the length of sentences is not excessive and that the complexity of said sentences is reduced.
  • Never use a big word where a diminutive alternative would suffice.
  • No sentence fragments.
  • Never use two words where a single expression will do.
  • One should never generalize.
  • One-word sentences? Eliminate. Always!
  • Parenthetical marks, however relevant, are unnecessary.
  • Parenthetical words like these should be enclosed in commas.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  • Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of ten or more words, to their antecedents.
  • Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
  • Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  • Refrain from being indirect.
  • Subject and verb always has to agree.
  • The recommendation is for the use of verbs rather than nouns.
  • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors.
  • The passive voice is to be ignored and should not be used.
  • Understatement is always best by far.
  • Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
  • Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispelling and to catch typographical errers; thay always get it write.
  • When dangling, watch you participles.
  • Who needs rhetorical questions?

Friday, June 20, 2008

World War Hulk

As I have previously written, I was a big fan of the Planet Hulk storyline by Greg Pak. This was an interesting re-interpretation of the Hulk, and we got to see him in a new light.
When the story ended Hulk was travelling back to Earth to punish those who had sent him away. I was looking forward to reading this run, and am a fan of Pak's previous work, plus the Hulk was angrier than he had ever been, so this was surely going to rock.

But it didn't, sure the art is great John Romita Jr rarely lets you down, but the story lacks something. Maybe the companion pieces need to be read to enjoy the full story, but a major event like this should be able to be followed in the title comics.

After six issues it ends, with a fizz, in fact with all the force of an exploding soap bubble. Banner is led away to captivity, and the world goes back to the way it was. There seems to be no real growth or change inflicted by the massive event of the Hulk taking over New York.

I'll read it again I'm sure, just to see if I missed something, but it is a let down. You can't help but feel a major chance to tell an important story in the life of the Hulk was missed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Playing in the band

Mark Seymour, lead singer of Hunters and Collectors, has released a band bio called Thirteen Tonne Theory. The book charts the success and failure of trying to become famous, and sell records etc. While being part of a band that decided to share everything equally, and all major decisions were put to a vote.
Seymour is an engaging writer and the way the book is set out makes it fun to read. Instead of just going through events one after the other, Seymour presents each chapter as a small vignette, covering one topic each. Therefore the book reads really quickly, and the reader is never bogged down in uninteresting moments.

Fans of the Hunners will enjoy this book as Seymour is not afraid to highlight bad things he did while part of the band, or things that other people did. This book is also for fans of Australian Music. I enjoyed it immensely.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Robert Ludlum may never challenge Tom Clancy for complete multi-media takeover, especially now that he has passed away, but Ludlum's creations live on especially Jason Bourne.
Bourne has been the subject of spin-off novels, movies and now has his own video game. The game follows the story of the first novel and uses flashbacks to fill in the details about who Bourne is, as he remembers previous hits he completed.
Thankfully the game does not use the likeness of Matt Damon (or Maaaattt Daaaaamoooon as he is also known) which I think is a good move, Bourne should not be defined by the movies, Ludlum described how Bourne looked before Damon played him.
Anyway play the game and become a 30 million dollar weapon.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Imagine finding out everything you thought you knew about your life was false. In actual fact your absent father was a super-villain and the greatest assassin on the planet, code named the Killer.
This is what faces Wesley Gibson in Mark Millar's Wanted. Gibson embraces his new found life-style after his father is killed and he stands to inherit millions of dollars. Taking on the persona of the Killer, Gibson joins the vast underground super-villain network and soon finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy.
This graphic novel is a fun read, Millar is obviously letting his hair down and telling a story that the mainstream publishing houses wouldn't have produced. The story is violent, sexy, full of swear words and flies along at a million miles. Well worth getting hold of a copy.
There is also a movie about to be released starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman. Millar has said he thinks the film will be good, even though it bears little resemblance to his original story. I for one am looking forward to seeing it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Dan Simmons always writes interesting stories. As I read my way through Ilium and Olympos I marvel at his vision and ability to make you think.
In this series humanity has developed into humans and posthumans. The posthumans though have left earth and the remaining humans are unsure what this means.

Meanwhile on Mars resurrected Homer scholars find themselves tasked by seven foot tall Greek Gods to observe and record the siege of Troy which is being fought in a recreated Mediterranean.

Also robots working on Jupiter's moons decide to find out what has happened to the posthumans and set of to Mars to investigate the millions of giant statues being carved around the landscape.

This series is well worth reading. Get yourself a copy and read the words of a true thinker.