Service Announcement

Monday, February 15, 2010

We're moving to Tumblr. Its prettier, and better. And its way easier to post and it doesn't log me out of my Google Account when I have to blog.
So yeah,
Bye bye Blogspot.
Hello Tumblr.



What I've Read These Past Few Weeks

Monday, February 8, 2010

With university and work in full swing these days I've had to cut back on my prose reading these past few weeks and I've picked up more on the easily digestible comics reading.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz [Faber First Press] $25
Diaz crafts an inter-generational story about fukus and zafas and the general fucked up nature of life without being hopelessly depressing and morose or retreating back to a generic Dominican Republic character voice. That's quite a feat in a book where a prominent character attempts to commit suicide but he does it with pomp.
Although the opening pages had me a bit worried about its general level of appeal - it begins with a quote from Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's Fantastic Four epic, the Galactus trilogy - I think its pretty safe to say that anyone not obsessed with comics going in will do fine and actually enjoy the references.
At the end of the day this is one of the first 'new' prose novels since The Life of Pi I've loved.

Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler & The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [Penguin Australia] $A 20 & $A10

Jesse Nevins wrote two essays in the back of the first couple of issues of Incognito about the original pulp heroes, Doc Savage and the Shadow. Doc Savage was the Optimum Man, the man who could do everything and had everything. He was a radiant god living in the Empire State Building. The Shadow, on the other hand, is a brutal, transient madman with ill-defined psychic powers lurking in the dark and grit asking, "Who knows what evil lies in the heart of men!" They're the two basic colours on paper - white and black - and they eventually evolved into their most popular incarnations, Superman and Batman.
Doyle's Holmes is basically the British Doc Savage. Since he's British he's not quite perfect. The man has a pretty bad opium habit, is a dick to his best friend/lover Watson and not afraid to show others how he's better than them. Sure, he may not be Robert Downey Jr.'s Holmes but Downey was pretty darn close. In the end though, this collection of Doyle's best/most famous short stories is like a box of chocolates. When its done its done.
Chandler writes many different PIs in his pulps, collected here, but they're all unmistakeably Marlowe.  Chandler's PI is as American as Doyle's Holmes is British and the result is a set of characters and situations drawn as black as a Mignola funnybook. Whilst Holmes is gripping, its never thrilling because you know he'll figure it out and explain it to you at the end. Carmady/Marlowe gets it wrong his first time round.  If Holmes is a box of chocolates this is a pack of cigarettes, grimy and smoky and lingering.
I always was more of a Batman guy.

Northlanders: Sven the Returned written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Davide Gianfelice [DC Comics] $US10
Vertigo Comics stalwart Brian Wood kicks off a new ongoing series based around the premise of vikings killing each other while talking like they belong in an early Scorcese film and fucking hot chicks in the intermission. And if that's what you want that's what you get, you undemanding son of a bitch.
Although the narrative attempts to explore Nordic politics and the idea of inheritance as the son of a murdered Viking warlord returns home to claim his land, carnage takes precedence over any substance. And what glorious carnage it is, with Gianfelice illustrating forbidding tundras and burly Viking men and a couple of ladies here and there.
It's only $US 9.99 so get it if well-drawn violence floats your longship.

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Peter Gross [DC Comics] $US10
Vertigo Comics old-timers Carey and Gross begin a new ongoing series that is meta, meta, meta. The series centres around Tommy Taylor, a man whose father wrote a series of novels reaching Harry Potter levels of popularity with the protagonist named Tommy Taylor and then promptly disappeared. As is the Vertigo formula by now, Taylor happens to discover that all is not as it seems and that fiction, perhaps (although we know it certainly) isn't just fiction.
Although gorgeously drawn by Gross the writing never seems to find its mark as the characters border on generic-ness at times. The pictures are pretty though, drawn with a soft line and clarity missing in modern comics. And, there is a stand-alone chapter (The Unwritten #5) about Rudyard Kipling which is one of the better single chapter stories I've read lately. If you're into your literature you'd be better off with Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series but pick up the Kipling chapter for a great story for only $US 2.99.

Marvel Boy written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by JG Jones [Marvel Comics] $US25
Back in the early Aughts Marvel Comics President Bill Jemas came up with an idea, how about we re-imagine our heroes, and shared universe by extension, as having been created now rather than by Stan, Jack and Steve in the Sixties. The result was the Brian Michael Bendis penned Ultimate Spider-Man which was followed by Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates penned by Mark Millar. All of those books were enormously successful and influential on the core Marvel shared universe and later the films but ultimately (heh) they were just the same stories warmed over. 
Just before them came Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy, an odd little tale out of the main universe about a teenaged alien , Noh-Varr, crashed on Earth who embarks on a mission of social change to avenge his murdered beloved. It sold poorly, as expected, mainly because it had a weirdo Scottish man writing it and because it featured original characters. As it turns out, Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada has long hinted that this may have been the first Ultimate book - a re-imagining of the core universe in the 00s.
And it makes perfect sense because this book IS the Marvel Universe. Comics blogger Chad Nevett has carefully examined the series and how its settings and characters all comment on Marvel Comics and its history.
So, instead of this:
Marvel Comics went with this:

Fuck you comics. I hope you continue dying a slow, long and painful death.


News and Notable: Blair and Chilcot

Monday, February 1, 2010

Former British PM Tony Blair appeared this week in front of the Chilcot Inquiry. Announced by PM Gordon Brown the Iraq Inquiry is composed entirely of Privy Counsellors (so it is an executive inquiry) and is chaired by civil servant and career diplomat Sir John Chilcot. Although it was initially announced as a closed, private inquiry it was opened to the public after understandable outcry regarding lack of transparency.
So far the bulk of major news arising from public testimonies by senior British Government officials has concerned the debate surrounding the legality of the War in Iraq. Most notably, it emerged that the Attorney-General at the time Lord Goldsmith seriously doubted the legality of the war but was blocked from airing his view, although he was not bullied into declaring a war without appropriate UN sanctions.
That all taken into account, I am still surprised at what people seriously thought Blair was going to admit at Chilcot. It goes something like this:

(Photo: Getty images)

I mean, seriously?

The takeaway from this seems to be: I feel 'responsibility but no regret'.
The war in Iraq was and is a great disaster and tragedy and I'm convinced that we will never get a Frost/Nixon moment, a mea culpa, an apology or anything of the sort precisely because of shit-storm something like that will conjure up amongst the public and the blow in confidence governments in Britain and the United States will suffer as they seek to scupper any prosecutions against senior officials, even if George Bush and Tony Blair are immune to prosecution for war crimes. The US has not even joined the International Criminal Court for fear of war crimes charges against its soldiers, there is no way they're going to allow charges against the leadership.


Ba Boom!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Andy Murray - Britain's saviour

Andy Murray - Scottish apirant

I love English newspapers. Don't you?


Notable and Anticipated Films of What's Left Of the Summer

Monday, January 18, 2010

As a list of films scheduled for release in Australia with some thoughts. The ones bolded are especially anticipated. Like, a lot.

  • In the Loop - British political satire with a higher fucks/minute ratio than a Tarantino film and an R Kelly song.
  • Invictus - Sports film directed by Clint Eastwood. Every man's dream.
  • Nine - "I'll be waiting here for you, with my legs open"
  • Toy Story 3D - Rerelease in preparation for Pixar's Toy Story 3
  • The Road - Viggo Mortensen in Cormac MaCarthy's story of survival in a post-apocalyptic wasteland directed by the man who directed Nick Cave's The Proposition.
  • Shutter Island - Scorcese's adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel seems to be an exercise in the horror genre and with Leonardo Di Caprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley & Michelle Williams (amongst others) starring its no wonder its an early frontrunner for the Oscars.

  • Remember Me - Twilight star Robert Pattison's stab at serious cinema. Pierce Brosnan also stars.
  • Clash of the Titans - "The mortal son of the god Zeus embarks on a perilous journey to stop the underworld and its minions from spreading their evil to Earth as well as the heavens."
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid - The live-action adaptation of Jeff Kinney's comics about a smart-ass junior high schooler which are hugely popular amongst children and tweens.
  • Kick-Ass - Mark Millar and John Romita Jr's comic book about real life superheroes is brought to big screen by Matthew Vaughn with stars Nicholas Cage and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
  • Date Night - A seeming by-the-numbers romantic comedy which I hope will be elevated by the presence of Tina Fey, Ray Liotta, Steve Carrell and James Franco.
  • IRON MAN 2 - This second instalment of stories about billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (an excellent Robert Downey Jr) focuses on Iron Man's unmasking at the end of the last film and the build-up to Marvel's anticipated Avengers film with new super-characters popping up all over the place. Easily the most anticipated film of the year.


5 Records for '09

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

'09 was a great year for music. I mean new Flaming Lips & Sonic Youth? Two releases from Animal Collective? For me, it was a year where I learnt a lot about my tastes. You see, my favourite five records for '09 were by five acts I'd never paid serious attention to for no real reason other than pure ignorance (although I get a pass on one of them).Watch any indie cred I may have had be obliterated below the jump.


Tot Mom, or Lets Talk About The Media

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tot Mom directed by Steven Soderbergh for the Sydney Theatre Company at Sydney's Wharf Theatre.
Starring Wayne Blair, Zoe Carides, Essie Davis, Darren Gilshenan, Glenn Hazeldine, Genevieve Hegney, Damon Herriman, Peter Kowitz, Rhys Muldoon & Emma Palmer.

Originally marketed as Steven Soderbergh's Untitled, most people had little clue about American auteur Steven Soderbergh's first foray into theatre for Cate Blanchett's Sydney Theatre Company.
All they seemed to know was that it was topical. Something sensational. Something lawyers had to go over (and presumably break their non-disclosure agreements for).

 Click here to find out what the fuss was all about.


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