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Iain's bookshelf: read

Yellow Submarine Goodbye, Pert Breasts: The Diary of a Newborn Dad I Shall Wear Midnight: A Discworld Novel Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1 Tales of Unease (Wordsworth Mystery & the Supernatural) Bunker 10

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Review: Bible of Butchery – Cannibal Corpse The Official Biography

Bible of Butchery - Cannibal Corpse The Official Biography
Bible of Butchery – Cannibal Corpse The Official Biography by Joel McIver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a bad read and as decent a history of the band as you’re likely to find.

Based on interviews with the band done quite recently and released to tie in with the new “A Skeletal Domain” album, “Bible of Butchery” makes for a good companion tome. Its weak point is there’s really nothing new or massively revelatory within its pages.

There’s a potted band history and a first-person biography of each member, plus a selection of song lyrics some of which are briefly annotated. In addition, there’s a longer interview section towards the end with more up-to-date questions which covers the bands’ individual touring memories and the like.

Chris Barnes’ time in the band is, of course, mentioned and the terms of his departure aren’t exactly skimmed over. While it’s a part of the current members’ history I’m sure they’re glad is in the past, it would have been good to have had something more details from around that time – and the cherry on top would of course have been to hear Chris’s side of the story. I’m sure there are reasons for that being missing (not least of which is whether Chris wants to talk about it or not), but if there was the ideal place for it to be published then this was it.

The presentation is top notch – Brian J Ames should take a bow – and there are plenty of photos scattered around the blood-trimmed pages to really flesh it out.

I enjoyed reading it, but I think the fact that the band are so damn nice and there’s been relatively (and surprisingly!) little controversy in Cannibal Corpse’s 25 years, the overall story isn’t as full of ups, downs, twists and so forth that could make it more interesting.

For the completist and the mad fan, there’s probably not another book that comes close to covering the band’s history and for this reason I’d recommend it. That and the great artwork.

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Review: Armageddon Outta Here

Armageddon Outta Here
Armageddon Outta Here by Derek Landy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great collection, though some completists will likely already have about half of the material already. What’s left, though, is typically excellent.

A handful of short stories which introduce new characters – some of whom have already made appearances in the novels – and a couple which tie in with major plot threads.

Cream of the crop is one which sits nicely on its own, and doesn’t have any real attachment to any of the existing storylines – Get Thee Behind Me, Bubba Moon. Probably the creepiest story I’ve ever read by Landy.

Some may see it as a way of extending the now-finished Skulduggery series (the final book was published this month), but there’s enough original content in here to make it worth the purchase/library loan.

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Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Console Wars is John Grisham for nerds. Predominantly coming over as a “good guy vs the big bad corporation” story, and filled with industry insider detail it’s a surprisingly easy read.

The Sega / Nintendo generation was one I was part of chronologically, but not actually involved in. We had an Atari VCS which led the charge in home consoles before (partly down to wonders such as the E.T. game) crashing spectacularly and taking the whole concept of the “home arcade” with it. By that time, we’d moved onto computers (a Sinclair ZX-81 followed by an Amstrad, then Amiga and onto PCs), which was more common in the UK as opposed to the console-friendly US where Nintendo went on to corner the market.

Until Sega came along.

Console Wars is that story. The battle for market dominance between Mario and Sonic, bracketed by the demise of Atari and the rise of Sony. There are tons of little facts and background stories in here without it coming across as a book of nerd trivia. It’s about the story and the characters first and foremost.

At 558 pages it’s no lightweight, but it’s also not a coffee table book. This is written to be read, not just glanced through occasionally.

If you’re looking for a gift for the geek in your life that’ll get them off the internet for a while yet still keep them quiet, this will almost certainly go down well.

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Language Limitations

English: wiktionary:thank you diagrammatically...

“Thank you” diagrammatically shown in (BSL). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parents may get this. We had a guest at our school prize day at the end of term – Gerry Hughes. A remarkable man, born deaf, who was at the forefront of having British Sign Language recognised as both a necessity and a right in the classroom. He sailed solo around Britain in 1981 (the first deaf man to do so), and extended on this with a transatlantic trip in 2005. Then thought he should top it all off with a global jaunt crossing all five capes in 2012-13.

He’s won prizes in deaf football and deaf golf. He was the first registered deaf person to achieve chartered teacher status in Scotland (before the government abolished the scheme for reasons which I will never understand a year or so ago).

Overall, an amazing person who’s crammed more into his lifetime so far than most of us could shoehorn into half a dozen.

He was hanging around after the ceremony and I really wanted to go up and say something to him.

Sadly, that’s the point where I realised that the only British Sign Language I know with any degree of accuracy is: “Mr Tumble’s Spotty Bag”.

Dammit.

Film review: The Unbeatables

120px-film-strip2Been ages since I did a review, but seeing as I got in to see this one as a free preview I kind of feel obligated to return the favour and rattle off a few words. Little Mister and I nabbed free tickets to see it at the Showcase and had a nice morning together!

The Unbeatables

“Show us your cross, father!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Bad guy becomes megastar and buys out his old village, only the old foosball table has other ideas…

Released in Latin America during World Cup year, this has probably made its money back already – simply because attaching a football to anything over there pretty much guarantees a sale. From what I gathered from the producer credits at the start, it’s an Argentinian film and not originally in English, but the cast used for “our” version are very good and the dub is – on the whole – well done. I’m pretty sure a fair few of the jokes have been tweaked for a British audience, which shows a bit of extra thought from the film-makers.

Despite a couple of the lines falling rather flat – jokes that just don’t work – the vast majority is good to excellent with some really sneaky throwaway lines which will tickle the funny bones of football fans. Talking of bones, sci-fi film geeks will appreciate the pre-opening credits sequence…

The story is nothing special in terms of kids’ films, in that there’s a poor, downtrodden good guy up against an all-powerful baddie. There’s a girl who needs to be “got”, a village to be saved, and so on. But there aren’t any original stories any more. It’s how you dress them up that’s important and The Unbeatables does a good job. The animation is superb with a good mixture of humour, slapstick and wonderful imagination. In terms of looks I’d say it’s close to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs but with more realistic (i.e. less cartoony) texturing.

What was more important was that Little Mister enjoyed it. He’s six and not the biggest football fan in the world (though he did sit through a few of the World Cup games with daddy this year!), but when I asked him for his favourite bit when we left the cinema, he said he couldn’t pick one as he’d enjoyed the whole thing! The general reaction in the cinema was positive, from what I could hear, with adults chuckling to some of the dialogue and children laughing out loud at the visuals.

Overall, very glad we went and the concrete test is that had we paid for tickets I’d have been every bit as happy. Good stuff and well done to the film-makers. It’s good to see that it’s not just the big boys who can make quality CGI animated features.