Book Review: Turn Of The Screw

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This one now marks off the 10th book from my list of 30 books that I want to read before I’m dead, that is to say 30 years old. Now this book was more of recommendation than something that I had an overwhelming desire to read throughout my life, but I gave it a go anyway.

It was a pretty quick moving story, all about the reaction to irrationality and unnamed dread, but I must admit that it really wasn’t my cup of tea, horror and suspense isn’t generally my bag, and in this case it wasn’t either. It wasn’t poorly written, but it just didn’t grab a hold of me the way that I had hoped for, and probably won’t be reading anything else by Henry James in the future.

About Me: Five Favourite Albums

I’ve been writing this blog seriously for almost a year now, so maybe its time we got to know each other a little better. Here is a look into the twisted world of my musical tastes with a showing of five of the best albums that I have come across in my nearly three decades of existence.

Bruce Dickinson- Tyranny of Souls 


Iron Maiden were one of the first real bands that I ever got into but for me the stand out was always the lead singer Bruce Dickinson. And the first I heard of Mr Dickinson’s solo career was the song Abduction, from the above album, which I actually at first mistook to be an Iron Maiden song. But when I listened to the Album, it is one of the few that I always have to listen to from start to finish.

The Rat Pack- Live and Dangerous 


Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis JR and to a lesser extent Dean Martin are all fantastic singers. But even more so they are all fantastic performers, and on the album Live and Dangerous, you are treated to two live shows, one from the Sands Hotel in 1963 and another Hosted by Johnny Carson from St Louis. And you really see, or rather hear, what The Rat Pack were really all about, a group of friends having a laugh and having a good time, and doing it in style.

Roger Waters- The Pro’s and Cons of Hitchhiking 


Roger Waters will be remembered as the experimental one from Pink Floyd. And the Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking is just that, an experimental concept album with a lot of balls. It takes the moody introspectiveness of the Wall and then shoves a rocket up its arse, then lights the fucker before bringing it all to a close.

Nightwish- Once 


I’d just finished school at the tender age of 16, and I’d never really strayed beyond what was on Kerrang (music TV channel in the early 21st century) although I did like classical music and even a bit of opera by this point as well. So you can imagine how my mind was blown by this melding of an operatic soprano and fast Finnish power metal. This was the last studio album to feature the vocalist Tarja Turunen before her departure and I do feel that the band has suffered massively since her dismissal.

Raoul Jobin- I Pagliacci 


This is a live performance of my favourite opera and it is one that I still will listen to regularly from start to finish. Whilst the recording quality isn’t the best, you still get to hear the immortal Raoul Jobin playing the original sad clown.

Book Review: A Princess Of Mars

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A little while ago I came up with a list of books that I wanted to read before the time I become ancient (30) first on the list was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a prolific American writer most well know as the creator of Tarzan. A princess of Mars is the first novel to feature his second most well known creation John Carter of Mars.

The novel itself is fairly short and is a prime example of the general pulp science fiction that was popularised in early twentieth century America and without giving away the plot does stick rather closely to the formula for pulp, of man from Earth winds up on alien planet, fights and then joins with the natives, rescues a princess and then saves the day. As an early example of the sort of pulp (originally serialised in 1912) that was floating about the market place in those days you can forgive it for seeming a little done to death over 100 years later, because you realise it was one of the first to do it.


The writing style feels a little disjointed as it is written in the form of memoir, so Edgar Rice Burroughs has written it in the manner of memoir penned by Captain John Carter, who has a tendency to go off on tangents mid explanation, which does spoil the narrative, however I feel this may have been a conscious choice by Burroughs, as it lends a certain verisimilitude to the work, and it shows that only a really great writer would be able to write from the point of view of an amateur, that is to say terrible, writer.

My only main criticism is that whilst the world of Barsoom is a rich and vibrant world the secondary characters ring a little flat, and whilst the protagonist and his circle are explored the villains of the piece such as Tal Hajus and Sarkoja are lacking in any real depth and seem to be there mainly as plot accelerators more than as real characters.

Overall it was an enjoyable distraction I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 and pick up some the other books that make up the Barsoom series to find out the fates of Deja Thoris and John Carter of Mars.

Look out for more reviews coming soon. 

30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days


Camelot 3000


Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying


All Star Superman 


Preacher: Gone To Texas


The Crow


Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes


Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing


Marvel 1602


Saga: Volume 1


 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man




Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 


The Infinity Gauntlet 


Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt


Promethea Book 1 


Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 




Son Of Superman 


Hellblazer: Original Sins 


The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 


Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  


JSA The Liberty Files 


Alice In Sunderland 


Daredevil Yellow


The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch


How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the films that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

How Green Was My Valley 


Gentleman’s Agreement


From Here to Eternity


Gone With The Wind


Cat On A Hot Tin Roof


West Side Story


Lawrence of Arabia


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf


Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner


Funny Girl


Fiddler On The Roof


All The Presidents Men




Kramer Vs Kramer


Terms of Endearment 


The Cider House Rules


An Education


The Wolf Of Wall Street


Guardians of the Galaxy 2


Moonrise Kingdom


Saving Private Ryan


Going In Style 


Wall Street


King Ralph


Planes Trains and Automobiles


O Brother, Where Art Thou?


The Monuments Men


Good Will Hunting


Good Morning Vietnam 


This Is Spinal Tap


How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Books)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the books that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

A Princess of Mars- Edgar Rice Burroughs 


War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy 


Ulysses- James Joyce 


The Iliad- Homer


Journey To The Centre of the Earth- Jules Verne 

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Frank Sinatra Has A Cold- Gay Talese 


Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog)- Jerome K Jerome


The Time Machine- H.G Wells

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Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov


Animal Farm- George Orwell


The Last Of The Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper


The Man Who Would Be King- Rudyard Kipling 


Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson 


Stardust- Neil Gaiman


A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court- Mark Twain

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Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years- Sue Townsend 


The Fight-Norman Mailer 


The Turn Of The Screw-Henry James


The Stand- Stephen King


Notes Of A Dirty Old Man- Charles Bukowski 


Children Of Hurin- J.R.R Tolkein 


Idylls Of The King- Alfred Tennyson


Confessions of an English Opium Eater-Thomas de Quincey


Little Women- Louisa May Alcott 


A Little History Of The World- E.H Gombrich 


The Mysterious Affair At Styles- Agatha Christie 


Who Censored Roger Rabbit- Gary K Wolf


Zen And The Art Of Motor Cycle Maintenance-  Robert M. Pirsig


The Day Of The Triffids- John Wyndham 

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Winds of Winter- George R.R. Martin (Because surely this’ll be finished before the TV series)


How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?





Quotes To Make You Look Smartified

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Quoting from literature is a key way to make yourself appear to be well read. Quotes from poems, plays, novels and various other literary ephemera can spice up your conversation and make you seem well read, so here are a few quotes, from a variety of sources, that all men should familiarise themselves with. They should also learn them by heart, because I can’t tell you the amount of arguments that have arisen from one misplaced word in a Shakespeare quote (ITS ” I KNEW HIM HORATIO” HOW IS THAT SO HARD TO GET”).

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet, Act II, scene ii From William Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet.

“Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most must mourn the deepest o’er the fatal truth,that the Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.” Act I scene i from Lord Byron’s Manfred.

“England has done one thing; it has invented and established Public Opinion, which is an attempt to organize the ignorance of the community, and to elevate it to the dignity of physical force.” Part II, The Critic As Artist, Oscar Wilde. 

“From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone ” Alone, Edgar Allen Poe.

“I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: — Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.” Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

“The offences that one does a man should be should be such that he fears no revenge for it.” The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli. 

“Every tradition grows ever more venerable — the more remote its origin, the more confused that origin is. The reverence due to it increases from generation to generation. The tradition finally becomes holy and inspires awe.” Human All To0 Human, Friedrich Nietzsche. 

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.” War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy 

” A soundbite never buttered any parsnips” John Major

“Take it from me, there’s nothing more terrible than someone out to do the world a favour.” Sourcery, Terry Pratchett 

Hopefully some of these should enrich your conversational prowess, and make you seem a tad more loquacious and erudite.


Coming Out Of The Bat Closet (LGBTQ Themes In Batman)

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Have you ever stopped to think how gay Batman is. There is a lot of subtext if you read between those thought bubbles. Lets look at it in stages.

  1. Batman/ Bruce Wayne’s relationship with women. As both Batman and Bruce Wayne, he seems incapable of maintaining a healthy long term relationship, such short term things seem fraught with tragedy, looking at his relationships with women as Batman such as Catwoman, Wonder Woman, or Talia Al Ghul, they all seem to be some sort of overcompensation. His relationships as Bruce Wayne however are quiet simply as a beard, they go a long way to setting up his persona as Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy, whose to say heterosexual millionaire playboy isn’t also part of it.
  2. His relationship with Alfred: Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler and one time legal guardian and full time enabler. Alfred took on the role of father to Bruce Wayne after Bruce’s parents were murdered. Instead of getting little Bruce some serious grief counselling and psychiatric care he let him drop out of school to pursue his career as scourge of the underworld. Their relationship is more complex than just that however. Alfred genuinely does love Bruce like a son, however Bruce’s feelings are somewhat different, he begins to project on Alfred during his teenage years, and because he can’t act on these feeling internalises them and it feeds his depression and anguish, not to mention giving him cause to focus on ending crime on Gotham.
  3. Batman’s relation ship with Robin: Anyone who has ever seen the Adam West/ Burt Ward depictions  of Batman and Robin will have no illusions that they are a gay couple. The whole relationship is odd on the face of it. Now single men can make great parents, (dad’s can do it too etc) but it does seem a little strange that a single man in his 20’s/30’s would adopt a teenage son, it may be cynical of me to think that anything untoward was taking place, but when the man doing the adopting forces the child out on to the streets in a pair of green briefs, alarm bells start to ring, and it isn’t because the joker is robbing a bank if you know what I mean.

Batman is one of those characters that will never be outed in mainstream comics continuity (why else would you have characters such as Midnighter if Batman was out), but there are a lot of themes within the comic books, the TV shows and films that are definitely a bit on the queer side.

The Science Of A Magic Carpet Ride

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Earlier today I watched Disney’s Aladdin while taking my daughter to visit my parents. What first struck me, was how racist and culturally insensitive parts of the film were. The second thing that struck me was how fantastic the late great Robin Williams was as the Genie. Then the third thing that struck me was that during the magic carpet ride Aladdin and Princess Jasmine started in the Middle East, fly through Greece (or a country sporting Grecian architecture) before ending their evening watching fireworks in China. Not only this but during the course of the magic carpet ride a couple of loop the loops are performed. How both parties don’t fall off is a little beyond me, but my main theory beyond it plainly being magic is that this is an example of centripetal force.  Centripetal force is a force that makes a body follow a curved path, a good example is lifting a coin into a cup without touching it.

How they got from the Middle East to Greece to China and back in one night is something that I am having trouble explaining. Most commercial jets will fly at about 550 miles per hour (210 miles per hour above the speed of sound)  now it would take about four hours to fly from Turkey to Greece one way, and given that Greece is in the opposite direction to china that’s eight hours of travel to begin with, then add on that the 10 hours that it would take to get from Turkey to China and that makes 28 hours of travel time at over 200 mph over the speed of sound, with no protection from the elements whatsoever. In order to do that journey in one night (12 hours at most) they would have had to fly at approximately 1500 mph or mach 2. Without protection, travelling at that speed would, undoubtedly, have caused sever internal injuries, or even death.

Another explanation is that Aladdin and Princess Jasmine were away for several days, which would also explain the negative reaction from the Sultans forces upon their arrival back in sunny Agrabah

TV Review A Series Of Unfortunate Events

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Now before we begin I’m going to hold my hands up and say that I have never actually read any of the thirteen books which comprise Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, they were really more of the next generations thing, and in fact were some of my late brothers favourites.

The series itself follows the recently bereaved Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, as they go to live with various estranged relatives, whilst trying to stay ahead of the villainous actor and their initial guardian, Count Olaf’s vile machinations towards the orphans and their family inheritance, all while trying to shed some light on the mysteries surrounding the death of their parents.

The series itself comprises of eight 45 minuet long episodes (a godsend when compared with the usual 24 episode series you get with a lot of american TV), which adapts the first four books of the series in a series of 4 two part episodes. A series of Unfortunate events has cast some real veterans of screen including Joan Cusack, Alfre Woodward, Catherine O’ Hara, Cobie Smoulders and Will Arnett all as supporting characters. Although the show itself is stolen by Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, a true master of disguise and brilliant character actor, he manages to slip into the role of bad actor really well, invoking that old line, that it takes a really good actor to play a really bad actor. The way he goes into any costume and manages to play the convoluted and downright ludicrous is absolutely fantastic and he does make an excellent villain for the piece.

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf

Another stand out for the role is Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, serving as narrator throughout the piece, his deadpan style and deep delivery really add to the tragicomical joie de vivre that embodies the show.

The children of the piece played by Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Presley Smith are a delight in themselves and really show a depth of character and to the show itself that, unlike most portrayed by child actors, may be safe for children to watch, but not necessarily aimed at children.

Overall the show is quick to begin, doesn’t overload you with details and offers unique and interesting set pieces and costumes, the theatricality can be over the top in parts, but I think its meant to be, and is a definite improvement of the soon forgotten, but never forgiven Jim Carey film version from 2004