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.

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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

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Camelot 3000

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Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying

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All Star Superman 

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Preacher: Gone To Texas

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The Crow

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Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

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Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing

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Marvel 1602

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Saga: Volume 1

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 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man

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Ronin 

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Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 

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The Infinity Gauntlet 

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Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt

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Promethea Book 1 

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Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 

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Multiversity 

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Son Of Superman 

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Hellblazer: Original Sins 

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The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 

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Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  

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JSA The Liberty Files 

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Alice In Sunderland 

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Daredevil Yellow

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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

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

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

Congratulations Mr Trump (2)

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 

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Gentleman’s Agreement

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From Here to Eternity

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Gone With The Wind

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Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

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West Side Story

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Lawrence of Arabia

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

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Funny Girl

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Fiddler On The Roof

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All The Presidents Men

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Milk

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Kramer Vs Kramer

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Terms of Endearment 

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The Cider House Rules

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An Education

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The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

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Moonrise Kingdom

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Saving Private Ryan

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Going In Style 

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Wall Street

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King Ralph

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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The Monuments Men

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Good Will Hunting

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Good Morning Vietnam 

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This Is Spinal Tap

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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 

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War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy 

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Ulysses- James Joyce 

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The Iliad- Homer

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Journey To The Centre of the Earth- Jules Verne 

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Frank Sinatra Has A Cold- Gay Talese 

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

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The Time Machine- H.G Wells

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Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov

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Animal Farm- George Orwell

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The Last Of The Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

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The Man Who Would Be King- Rudyard Kipling 

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Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson 

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Stardust- Neil Gaiman

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

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Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years- Sue Townsend 

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The Fight-Norman Mailer 

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The Turn Of The Screw-Henry James

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The Stand- Stephen King

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Notes Of A Dirty Old Man- Charles Bukowski 

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Children Of Hurin- J.R.R Tolkein 

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Idylls Of The King- Alfred Tennyson

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Confessions of an English Opium Eater-Thomas de Quincey

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Little Women- Louisa May Alcott 

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A Little History Of The World- E.H Gombrich 

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The Mysterious Affair At Styles- Agatha Christie 

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Who Censored Roger Rabbit- Gary K Wolf

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

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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)

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

 

 

 

 

Lifting The Veil On Politics: Local Government

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This is the third in a series of posts trying to de-mystify politics for everyday people.

What on earth does local government do? Its a tricky question to answer. There are 55 unitary authorities in England and 22 in Wales and whilst the duties of each individual council differs from council to council, most are responsible for the maintenance of highways, social care and education, as well as small schemes provision and local jobs creation schemes.

Councils will be made up of directly elected councillors which will then form a cabinet and decide on matters of education, social care, housing etc. Councillors will work with permanently employed officers of that council to set a budget and deliver policy for the areas that are devolved to that particular council.

Most people have the misconception that councils are funded entirely by council tax. This is wrong. Whilst council tax is my highest monthly bill after housing, in order to cover the entire cost of running a council I estimate that my council tax would have to go up by about 1000%. Councils, get somewhere between 75-90% of their funding from central government. So this is why it really annoys me when people complain about council services, using the old line “I pay my council tax”  to justify whatever they’re griping about, because the majority of the councils money comes from Westminster or the Welsh Assembly and actually seems to be going down year on year, whilst council tax goes up and up, without being too much of a burden on the rate payers.

Hopefully this post answers some of the questions  you have about local government, and with the elections coming later this year, you’re bound to have at least one or two that need answering.

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

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HOLY HOMOSEXUAL URGES BATMAN!!!!

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.

TV Review A Series Of Unfortunate Events

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*BEFORE WE BEGIN, WARNING THERE MAY BE POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*

**SERIOUSLY, THIS IS A TV REVIEW THERE’S BOUND TO BE SPOILERS COMING**

***LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE SOME SERIOUS SPOILERS***

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.

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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