Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

John Lydon: Stories of Johnny - A Compendium of Thoughts on the Icon of an Era (2006)

Editor: Rob Johnstone | Page Count: 318

…he has proved time and again that a big anti-establishment Fuck You can and should be something that any individual is free to choose.”

The correct ratio of arrogance and enthusiasm can be a positive thing.  John Lydon has spent his entire life making himself a visible target for the socially repressed and political ideologists to attack, and in so doing he exposes the attacker’s own prejudices and fears.  Love him or hate him, the world needs Lydon.  Truth needs Lydon.  He admits the things he says can seem contradictory and that his opinion will change from day to day but it always reflects how he feels at that time, and the core values that underline his philosophy never change.

I’ve labelled this a ‘biography’ but it only slightly fits that category.  It’s similar to the kind of critical studies you find on every academic reading list at school, the kind of thing that collects together essays offering different perspectives on a chosen topic.  By assimilating the separate elements it helps build up a picture of a man; whether or not it’s an accurate picture is open to debate.  Nevertheless, it’s a fun undertaking and the constantly shifting topics keep it interesting.  

One chapter focuses on the rise of punk, one on the reaction of the media, and another on the nuances of Lydon’s unique vocal delivery, etc.  You don’t need to start at the beginning and work your way through to the end, you can jump in anywhere.  It’s focussed primarily on the Sex Pistols era but there are enough Public image Ltd anecdotes to please fans of both sides.

Black & white photos are scattered haphazardly across the pages.  They’re obvious filler, sometimes bearing no relation to the text whatsoever.

The entry by Kris Needs and the essay by Judy Nylon are essential reading.

3 “originality always offends” out of 5

Contributors: GREIL MARCUS; LEGS McNEILL (Wanker); CLINTON HEYLIN; KRIS NEEDS; PAT GILBERT; JUDY NYLON; NIGEL WILLIAMSON; ALAN CLAYSON; BARB JUNGR; ALAN McGEE.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Avatar: The Last Airbender The Promise Part 1 (2012)

Author: Gene Luen Yang | Illustrator: Gurihiru | Page Count: 76
WACK-A-POW!
The Promise picks up straight where the series left off with Aang and Team Avatar taking on the task of rebuilding after the end of the 100 year war. Not everyone is down with that though and Aang and Zuko may be at odds at how balance can be restored. Returning characters abound with some whose whereabouts were previously unknown (Boomerang!)and some new ones though none of those seemed particularly worth caring about. More Toph, please. The character designs look just as they did on the show with some tweaks to show the time difference with the exception of Zuko who seems to frequently go off-model, particularly his face. Or maybe it's just the pressures of ruling getting to him. Yeah let's go with that. The reaction faces are still great and numerous.

Given it's short length, I don't see any reason to split into volumes other than marketing, but whatever, I don't know the logistics of comic printing and I'll take what I can get. As to that nagging question that probably most people came for the answer... of course it wouldn't be in the first part. Crisp and clean presentation with some interesting story teasers and some nice bending scenes. A new adventure with these characters is always welcome.

4 Oogies and Aang's shit-eating grins out of 5

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Heat Wave (2009)

Author: Richard Castle | Page Count: 198
 You radiate subtext.
A real estate tycoon falls to his death and it is up to homicide detective Nikki Heat and her ride along magazine writer Jameson Rook to solve the mystery involving thugs, accountants, thieves and spoiled rich people. It's a decent enough mystery, but it reads like a script of it's tie-in show, ABC's Castle. It carries all the same snappy banter and twists of any episode just with the names changed. That can be a strength though as it can give an extra layer into the character of Castle as this meta experiment gives his perspective of the relationship between Castle and Heat's inspiration, Detective Kate Beckett from the show or perhaps what he wishes it was as Heat is mostly congruous with Beckett with some added flare and sexuality.

Separated from the show it is an alright mystery, but like any tie-in should do, it enhances the show and becomes more when used the way it was intended. Everything is written in character right down to the dedication and acknowledgements. Even though it is ghostwritten, ABC is fully committed to the facade as no one outside the show knows who the writer is and the show's creator even lamenting in interviews that Richard Castle worked hard on it and people should stop trying to steal credit from him. Kudos for the commitment.

meta author insertions? out of 5

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars (2012)

Author: John Green  |  Page Count: 313

I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have and I am in love with you.

I’m too old to say that I want to be like John Green when I grow up. Disturbing as it is, I’m already grown up. So, I want to be like John Green, right now. In his case, being categorized as a "Teen" or "Young Adult" author is a double-edged sword. It’s absolutely wonderful for teens themselves as Green never condescends, never holds back, never lies. On the other hand, it’s disheartening to think that some adults will never read his books because of that label.

John is unfathomably gifted in spinning tales of love and life that are throroughly genuine because they aren’t perfect. They are flawed, and momentary—built specifically of moments fleeting to those not personally experiencing them. Somehow, he is able to make universal truths feel achingly personal.

Every revelation his characters experience feels fresh. They are not constructed of platitudes and maxims. In fact, said characters often deride them directly and swiftly in the course of their development. Hazel and Augustus burn through their fair share in the Fault in Our Stars, as they are often chokingly surrounded by them in their lives as ‘Cancer kids.’ Together they work through their own feelings about being bereft of certain futures while struggling with their impact on everyone around them. Along the way they bond over an incomplete book which leads them halfway around the world in search of its reclusive author, and to the understanding of what it truly means to finish a book.

At the end of the day, what they learn and experience is just as relevant to those of us with less tenuous futures as it is to them. Of course, as John points out, that’s an important facet of all fiction. Live and love, in the face of death, and in the face of life.

5 Regretlessly pulled pins out of 5

Nutted by NEG

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex : Episode 003 : Idolater (2012)

Author: Yu Kinutani | Page Count: 208

This is a pain in the ass!  Why not do a ghost hack and find out for sure?

Books 001 and 002 of the manga were episodes one and two of the anime, respectively. I'd expected that to continue and 003 to be a retelling of episode three, but it isn't. Instead it’s a retelling of episode seven. For those of you that watched the anime it's the episode with Marcelo Jarti.

Marcelo Jarti the Jenoma revolutionary leader, drug dealer and one of the most wanted men in the world is in Japan. He’s been visiting periodically for a number of years. Section 9 want to find out why and if he poses a threat, so the Major and her team tail him and discover something very unexpected, forcing them to make a difficult decision.

Yu has been drawing the Major for so long that she and the rest of the team are represented perfectly. The lines are drawn with almost machinelike precision. If being too perfect can be considered a criticism then it qualifies.

I have a few other problems with this one. The story isn't as well suited to the manga form as the previous two volumes. There's a lot of action that gives rise to an excessive use of speed lines that get irritating after a while. It gives Jarti a new scene but overall suffers from not having enough dialogue throughout.

2½ jumping out of windows is fun out of 5

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Does Anything Eat Wasps? And 101 Other Unsettling, Witty Answers to Questions You Never Thought You Wanted to Ask (2005)

Author: New Scientist | Page Count: 211  

Living in a universe where antimatter predominates would be akin to living in our mirror image.” - Mike Follows

There's no single author for the book, nor does the editor get his or her name on the cover.  It’s attributed simply to New Scientist, the magazine from which the information within its pages is culled.  It’s a book of questions posed by New Scientist readers and subsequently answered by New Scientist readers.  As such, the quality dips and rises, as do the facts we’re given.  Some of the answers are even contradictory.  I love to read stupid facts while dropping a turd in the white chair but the book was put to better use wiping my ass after the final pinch.

1 question they didn’t answer was why it deserved to be printed? out of 5

Friday, June 1, 2012

Touching From a Distance (1995)

Author: Deborah Curtis | Page Count: 212

"...he was reading Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sarte, Hermann Hesse and J. G. Ballard. ...It struck me that all Ian's spare time was spent reading and thinking about human suffering."

Ian Curtis found a way to say the things that the post-punk generation were so badly in need of. It doesn't mean he was a hero. He was as much an asshole as the rest of us. This book tells his tale from his wife’s point of view. It also tells her tale, and it’s one that for me was worth reading. It strives to find a balance between the emotional stance of a wife and mother deifying her husband out of love and duty, and the equally emotional dejectedness of a devoted partner left out in the cold during her husband’s greatest triumph. Mostly it succeeds.

While Ian tried to hold himself together after a medical diagnosis that threw his life into a maelstrom of uncertainty, Deborah tried to hold everything else together, house, home and family. She never succumbs to the ‘pity me’ attitude (in fact, that seems to have been exorcised quite intentionally). Even though the book is about Ian Curtis, it reveals a lot about the author in the process. I applaud her strength of character in exposing herself so openly. It’s neither sensationalist nor cashing in on a tragedy; it simply is what it is: an honest and often heartbreaking piece of prose. It’s the work of someone wanting to give the truth of a situation, truth being something that she herself was denied at the time.

The end of the book reproduces Ian’s lyrics, some previously unseen, half finished or abandoned. The cynic in you may think this an easy way to fill out page count, but Ian’s words are worthy of inclusion. Having them here is the perfect way to end the story. He was a real poet that touched upon things someone so young shouldn't have had such a deep understanding of; luckily for us, if we learn by example, he left us enough instruction so that we don't have to.

3 band-mates who were blind to the truth out of 5