Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the category “Reading”

What in the multiverse?

the mighty avengers.The world has gone mad for comic books. I believe it’s because technology has finally reached the point where the super feats the heroes undertake no longer look fake. But we are inundated with Leagues and Avengers and Squads and vigilantes, mutants, inhumans, anti-heroes and all sorts of other costumed characters. We have comics and TV shows and movies and computer games. Even the Simpsons have gotten in on the act.

I have a couple of students at school who are massive fans of comic books. Every week we get new graphic novels, collections and standalone stories from Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Deadpool, Spider-man and the Green Lantern Corp.

It’s given me a good chance to catch up.

If my memory is correct, I read heaps of comics as a child. But I never really got into the collection aspect. And I don’t think I read the “right” type of comic.

Archie ComicsIn my younger days, I read lots of Archie, lots of Duck Tales and Darkwing Duck.

As I got older, my memories are of Moon Knight, Lobo and the Silver Surfer. I read the What If… comics, where the Watcher showed us what would happen if Peter Parker married Mary Jane, or didn’t marry Mary Jane.

turtlesI bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – the Eastman and Laird graphic novels to start with, and then the cartoon adaptations once they ran out. I read Cerberus the Aardvark and Groo.

And then I moved onto Heavy Metal and National Lampoon. I read Cracked and Mad, which gave me a good round education on what was going on in movies without having seen a lot of them.

I read the odd Batman. I read quite a few Superman one offs. But I wasn’t around for any of the big things that happened in comics.

deadrobinIt’s weird, looking at it from the outside. I remember seeing the covers when Robin was killed by the Joker. That was huge. I mean HUGE. My comic reading friends were devastated. The issue in mint condition was worth a fortune.
deathofsupermanI remember when the front page of the newspaper told us that Superman had died. I saw the comic covers and I saw the hardcover book adaptation, but I didn’t read either of them.

I remember finding out that Peter Parker had stood up in front of the press and outed himself as Spider-man (or was it Spider-man outing himself as Peter Parker?). But I still haven’t read through that story. That was part of the first Civil War wasn’t it?

I missed Crisis on Infinite Earths, but by the time Flash and Arrow were on TV, I at least knew what that was all about. I didn’t realise it was so long ago.

I have a lot of catching up to do. But it’s worth it. It’s worth doing it now, with all of the stories collected into handy graphic novels, instead of subscribing to ten different comics just to get one story.

knightfallNow I’ve read Knightfall and I wish I’d read it before the movie came out.

I’ve read Dark Knight Returns and Year One and The Killing Joke and they are absolute masterpieces (but I get why there is such a controversy over the Killing Joke).

I read Red Son and I think I missed some of the references due to not having been in touch with comics for so long.

I read the Death of Superman and I have no idea who Lex Luthor is meant to be or why he was speaking in an Australian accent.

And then I started in on the new stuff.

flashpointI read Flashpoint, and loved it. I liked how they rebooted the universe, especially as I didn’t have decades of backstory stuck in my head. Most of what I know of Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman and The Flash comes from TV and movies (I still like the 80s Flash show and I’m glad so many of the cast came back for the new show).

And from Kevin Smith. He’s given me a much better appreciation for the DC universe, both from his podcasts, from references in his movies (which made me look stuff up) and from his Batman comics (write the third one, damn you!).

And I started catching up on the New 52. Most of that comes from the two boys in the library who regularly put forward suggestions for me to read next. So I was just getting into this rebooted universe…

rebirth-0b86eAnd then Rebirth happened.

I’m lost again. There are too many Flashes and too many linked story-lines and I have to buy seven series to make sense of the basic timeline. I have to let it go and wait for the good stuff to float to the top and get collected into omnibuses again.

While that happens, I still keep to my eclectic reading schedule. I might be over the madness of intertwining titles, but I still love comics.

walking deadI’m just behind the TV series in Walking Dead and loving it, although I don’t think they should be out for just anyone to borrow in the school library.

I love the adaptations and new stories in the Dresden Universe.

The comic book adaptation of The Stand is phenomenal and the prequels to the Gunslinger books are absolutely worth it.

I love stories written in comic form more than I like universes written into multiple series. Standalones like The Watchmen and…

samdman

Oh, God help me, I forgot about the Sandman.

I found out about the Sandman at university. My friend Shay was living with some really cool people, interested in things my Kyabram bumpkin self hadn’t even heard of. Sandman was part of that. Sandman was a gateway drug to the rest of Neil Gaiman, along with Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens. Those two things lifted me out of the staples of Stephen King and Tolkien and into a whole new realm of writing. Comics are cool. Anyway, back to the list.

Oh, and the continuation of the Buffyverse. Oh, just anything with Joss Whedon in it.

Speaking of which, I’ve almost completely ignored the Marvel universe.

deadpoolI suppose most of that is that the boys in the library don’t seem to care about Marvel beyond Marvel Zombies (which I hate) and Deadpool (which is great, but so full of multiverse backstory I can’t get right into it).

All of my Marvel knowledge comes from the TV shows and movies, post about 1984.

I want to know what’s going on, but even reading collections like Age of Ultron still has me at a major disadvantage. I need to go back. I need some new library monitors with a Marvel fixation.

What series keep you up until late at night?

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Elf-Promotion (the dwarves have all the fun)

Saturday 5th April is now Dwarves in Space Day. But it’s not just dwarves going into space. There is a wizard. There are a number of barbarians. There is an orc. Even the king of Trimador is coming along for the ride. And a goodly number of elves.

And this is an issue for a race that is so attuned to nature. Nobody thinks about the huge sacrifice they make when they join the crew of the Eagle in search of Quiddity.

Have no idea what I’m talking about? Come along to the signing of my new book: Dwarves in Space.

Where? Notions Unlimited, Shop 9, Chelsea Beach Arcade, 426 Nepean Hwy, Chelsea, VIC. 3196

When? 5.30 – 7.00pm, April 5, 2014.

What else?

Author Damian Perry will be in-store at Notions Unlimited Bookshop, to launch and sign copies of his debut humorous SF novel, DWARVES IN SPACE.

Information on the Notions Unlimited Blog and on my Facebook Page (like it while you’re there) and Google+ event (ditto).

I hope you’ll join us for drinks and nibbles. Bring a friend or six. Bring total strangers. I’ll sign books and answer questions.

signing on 5 april

Still not convinced? Here’s what people are saying about the book:

Amazon reader:

“When I started “Dwarves in Space” I wasn’t sure what I would be getting, but I have to say that all too quickly I was snagged by the witty writing, the memorable characters, the adventurous tone and the entertaining plot.”

A review from Danny – a fellow Discworld fan:

“Damian Perry has managed to not only cross the genre divide by poking fun at the tropes and cliches, but has also paid respect to them as well – and it’s all held together by an engaging and exciting story.”

 

I look forward to seeing you all there.

The coincidence thing…

After my Bullying post, I received a Like from Christine Barba, who writes a blog called Project Light to Life. I checked out her page and, coincidentally, found the name of the coincidence thing I keep talking about on Finding Damo. It’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. So thank you to Christine. Go read her blog.

That means that I can now add BMP to all of the posts that have previously referred to ‘that coincidence thing’.

And speaking of which:

A couple of weeks ago I finished the third book in a most unusual trilogy.

Not that the books were written by the same author, had the same characters or were written in the same universe. None of the three writers wrote their novels as part of this trilogy. But they were a trilogy nonetheless.

Holding to my desire to write about things when they turn up more than three times in a row (BMP!) I wanted to chat briefly about this trilogy.

The Body SnatchersChronologically, the first book in the series is a little known story entitled “The Body Snatchers” (later re-released as Invasion of the Body Snatchers). It’s popular enough for the term “pod people” to have entered into standard English speech, so I won’t worry too much about spoiling the story. It is set in a small town in the United States where a doctor starts noticing unusual behaviour from his friends and neighbours. After an encounter with the town’s resident author, the small band realise that they are being invaded by beings from space, who are rapidly replacing the locals with replicas grown from giant pea pods.

It is an easy read, but Finney manages to really hook you in with some incredible prose. There were moments where a chill thrilled through me at a passage in the story. This book is a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream. I’m pretty sure there is a dissociative disorder that manifests itself in removing the brain’s ability to connect to people, leading to a person thinking that their family have been replaced by exact duplicates.

Yes, here we go. Capgras Delusion. I typed “pod people delusion” into Google. Anyway, where was I? OK, yes. For anyone who has seen any of the numerous film adaptations, it is well worth taking the time to read this novel. You can knock it off in an afternoon, and Finney’s son, in an interview on the audio adaptation, states that his father was never really happy with the movie version, even though it is a cult classic.

RedShirtsThe second book in the trilogy was written much later. It is an amusing, meta little story called Red Shirts, by John Scalzi. It has nothing to do with The Body Snatchers, but the third book I want to talk about links these two together so tightly that I just had to write about it.

From Amazon:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on “Away Missions” alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs.

Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

I listened to this one as a download from Audible. Wil Wheaton read it and between Shereen and I, we almost crashed the car at least twice from laughing so hard. The line between reality and fantasy is severely blurred in this novel. It is almost a drinking game turned into a novel. But Scalzi quickly takes us to a point where we really care about the characters, so much so that by the end of the third coda, I had tears in my eyes (again, making it hard to drive). And yes, the codas take a bit of staying power to get through, after the rapid pace of the rest of the story, but they are definitely worth it.

To explain why the third novel in the trilogy actually makes these three novels a trilogy I need to go spoiler-fest on it. I won’t spoil RedShirts, and I assume you already know enough about Body Snatchers that conversation on it isn’t a spoiler (and if not, you might not want to read further).

Night of the Living TrekkiesKnowing the storyline of the third book – Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall – isn’t going to affect your enjoyment of the story. The spoilers are on the covers (I really LOVE the German cover). Basically, Jim Pike is an ex-soldier, returned from fighting in the Middle East. He is settling into quiet obscurity as a security guard at a posh hotel in Dallas. On this particular weekend, there is a Star Trek convention. Also on this weekend, a number of staff are off sick, and others are in, but suffering from illness. There have been a number of unusual biting attacks, and the wounds just won’t stop bleeding…

Soon, the Trek convention is completely overrun with zombies. Not only that, but Jim’s sister is in town for the convention. Jim Pike (get it?) needs to save his sister and get over his fear of command before day break.

That’s the premise. Now for the spoilers.

Spoiler Alert
Early in the novel, Jim notices that the zombies are manifesting an eye on various parts of their body. These eyes are a vulnerable spot. They appear after showing up as a bruised lump, finally splitting through the skin and taking over the host. Here’s the sequel to Body Snatchers: these eyes are an alien life form that drifted to earth as spores, traveling through space for aeons and then landing on earth. They take over the hosts and use them as spreading mechanisms (hence the zombies) but their more sneaky goal is an amalgamation with the Earthlings and eventual colonisation of the planet.

The link to RedShirts is more mundane. The novel is littered with references to Star Trek, and the rules of surviving a Trek episode (even one with zombies). The funniest moment in the novel was the discovery of the last surviving member of a pack of Red Shirts. None of the others had died from zombie attack and he didn’t even realise that the hotel had been infested.

Night of the Living Zombies is the love child of Body Snatchers and Red Shirts. It is a bastard child, not written as well, or with as much raw talent. Neither parent would be overly proud of their offspring. But they, like me, would love it anyway, for the simple joy of laughter and dead trekkies that it brings to the world.

Send more exorcists!

This blog started off being something strange and quirky and quickly became a quite deep conversation on religion. Ive done studies into the Church and the Catholic faith over the years, being a Catholic school teacher. Ive taught Religious Education and try always to approach it from the point of view of acceptance and tolerance first, as the best priests Ive known have also preached. Below are some of the thoughts Ive had. The scholarly writing Ive put together has always gotten me into trouble, but it seems to be based on solid research and interpretation. Enjoy. Or dont.

Draw Something 2 ExorcistSend more Exorcists!

So the pope apparently tried to perform an exorcism on a disabled man during an appearance (1, 2 3). Exorcism experts say that he was reciting prayers for ridding a person of evil spirits. The pope’s peeps insist that he was only praying over the man, as he usually does when meeting sick people.

However, a spokeswoman for the church in Madrid says that exorcism is real and there is a plan to train up more exorcists to fight the devil in Spain. The devil came down from Georgia and just kept on going.

I posted this on Facebook and a friend immediately came up with these statements:

“Hmmm… I might give Madrid a miss until they have their demonic possession problem sorted out.”

‘Or maybe it’s a trap? “Our demons are hungry. Please send more exorcists.”‘

Catholics are weird. I should know, I am one. But the church in general, being the starting point for the Christian religion, has just held onto all of the things the other flavours have given up on.

Celibacy for leaders of the church.

Disappeared in most denominations when they realized that it was completely untenable and caused more problems for the community than a holy man who dared to love someone else apart from God.

Reconciliation (confession)

People sin. A sinner can’t get into Heaven. But if you have a priest absolve you of your sin, that’s all good. Tell the priest what you did. He’ll give you some Hail Marys and Our Fathers, and send you on your way, blameless as a newborn child.

That’s an insultingly simplistic view of the rite. You have to want and ask for forgiveness. You need to repent. And if you’ve wronged someone, often the priest will suggest as part of your penance that you tell the person and ask for their forgiveness as well. It depends on the priest. But for years, I went to confession, sat in the booth, very aware that the priest knew exactly who I was, and confessed that “I took the Lord’s name in vain. I had impure thoughts. I fought with my brother and didn’t respect my parents”, took the penance of prayer and went on with my life. I’m pretty sure confession only works when you’re confessing to a priest you don’t have to deal with every Sunday as an altar boy.

That reminds me of a joke, the punchline being: “A Mars Bar and a can of Coke”. You’re not getting any more out of me here, that’s for sure.

No women priests.

I’ve actually done research on this one. And although hundreds of church leaders and scholars came up with a different interpretation, I can’t find any reason why women can’t be priests. So, to finish off, here are some excerpts from an essay I wrote on the subject:

Modern scholars and Christologists interpret the Gospels and the life of Jesus from the basis of their own world views. There is no such thing as objectivity. Our world is not Christ’s world and our culture is not His culture. Having said that, we can still take valuable lessons from the words and deeds of Jesus. We can definitely use his actions as written in the Gospels to provide examples on how to react to certain issues in contemporary society.

In society today, one of the greatest issues is the equality of the sexes. The equal treatment of men and women in the workforce and in the minds of the people. Part of that equality should be the ability for both men and women to be ordained in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church makes an illogical argument for not ordaining women and ignores the message of Christ’s actions as set down in the Gospels.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994, p394) tells us that women cannot be ordained because:

“The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose the collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.”

Taking the argument that anyone not chosen by Christ* cannot be ordained as a priest can lead us in a terrifying direction. No Asians were chosen. No people of colour. No disabled people. The negative argument is far too limiting. We need to look at the intentions of Christ and his Ministry, as well as the world that he lived in.

The Jesus Christ of the Gospels was all-inclusive. He dealt with and welcomed thieves and tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick and foreigners.

And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:3)

He had a special place in his heart for children.

But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. (Luke 18:16)

Most importantly, he always treated women equally to men. In a society where women “had no official place in religion”**, the Gospels make a point of mentioning Jesus’ interactions with women, especially in Luke’s Gospel. Women were clearly important in Jesus’ eyes.

Jesus called upon women to be disciples, as well as men. His message was that the call to discipleship and the “message of the kingdom” was to come before “social and family patterns” (Notes, p33). Women such as Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha and Joanna were called to follow him and pass on the message he was preaching. More significant is the fact that it was Mary Magdalene and a number of women who brought the Good News of Christ’s resurrection to the Apostles***. The angels at the tomb reminded the women of Jesus’ words, “that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:7) The women went to the apostles and others to tell them. It is hard to claim that women cannot preach the Good News when it was women who were the first to do so.

And, being that this is a blog with research, here is the research that I did! Proud of me?

News Sources

Man in Pope Francis Exorcism Story Says He’s Still Possessed by Demons

Did Pope Francis perform an exorcism?

Pope Francis denies performing exorcism on wheelchair-bound boy in Rome

 Bibliography

  • *“The Arguments from Scripture” London, UK: Women Priests. Accessed 16 April 2007. Available from http://www.womenpriests.org/scrip_ac.asp
  • ***Carrol, Elizabeth (1975) Theological Studies 36, quoted in “Women and Ministry” London, UK: Women Prists. Accessed 16 April 2007. Available from http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/carroll3.asp
  • **Goosen, G & Tomlinson, M (1994) , Studying the Gospels: an introduction, Newtown: EJ Dwyer (Australia) Pty Ltd.
  • (1998) The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version, London: HarperCollinsReligious
  • Hall, Rev G (1996), Course Notes, Certificate of Religious Education (NSW), CEO Sydney

Must. Read.

asleepLast night, I did something I never thought I would ever do: I asked my step-daughter to put the book down and go to sleep already!

Now, before you lynch me or put me in the same category of book burners and fundamentalist christians, let me explain.

She’s 8. Her bedtime is 8.30. She loves to read. And her imagination doesn’t have an off-switch. So if we let her read until she’s tired, she’ll still be reading at midnight. And then we have to deal with the consequences. So when I saw the light shining from  under the door (again) at 10pm, I had to do the unthinkable.

Normally, I’d be quite happy for her to read all night. Let the stories invade her mind and set fire to her imagination. She is a voracious reader and, at 8 years old, she’s reading well beyond her years. She had to beg us to let her read the second Harry Potter book, and I think we’ll probably relent on the third book as well before she hits ten.

But her mum and I just can’t handle the almost-teenager-like reading hangover that results from a late night. So we have to limit her, like a crack addict, to small doses per night.

Her reading list at the moment:

1. Bridge To Terabithia – I’m reading this to her. I don’t think you ever get too old to have someone read to you, and it helps me bone up on my American accents.

2. The Hobbit – I started reading this to her, but she started making very clever “guesses” about what was going to happen next, and I found that she’d read the whole thing over a couple of nights of subversive torchlight reading.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She quotes from Philosopher’s Stone all of the time, so it was only a matter of time.

4. Brer Rabbit Tales by Enid Blyton. She read 15 Secret Seven books in two weeks and was re-reading the Faraway Tree, so I figured she was up for something new.

On top of these, she still reads the grade-two level readers her school gives her, which I agree with educationally (I was able to teach her how to read comics properly, for example) but wish that the school could challenge her a bit with reading.

We were pretty dismissive when we gave her Esio Trot to read and she returned to me in an hour saying it was great and could she have another one. Almost half-heartedly, I’d ask her a question about what happened in the book. She answered promptly. Surprised, I tried something a little more analytical. She had it down pat. From then, I’ve just watched in amazement as she worked her way through dozens of books over the past couple of years, making incredible comments on genre and comparisons to other books. My year 10s can’t do it, that’s for sure.

But I didn’t start this to rave about my step-daughter, who you don’t know and doesn’t enter into Finding Damo in the slightest. I was going to use it as an introductory stepping stone and got carried away.

So… Hop! Next stone.

I used to read in bed as a child. I utilised the torch for my own illicit reading. But I was often found, fast asleep with a book on my face. I’m pretty sure it still happens sometimes.

This is the version I read and still own.

I read The Hobbit in Grade 3. I read the Wizard of Earthsea in Grade 2 – Mum was studying it for school and we were travelling through Queensland and it was there so I read it.

I read Bridge to Terabithia in Grade 5 or 6 – the teacher was giving me and a couple of others books to challenge us as the regular reading was way below us. In primary school I found Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigaters, Biggles, Blyton, Asterix and Tintin. As I got older, I devoured all of the Doctor Who novelisations, Judy Blume (Forever was an experience, I can tell you!), Victor Kelleher and Douglas Adams.

Scarily enough, I didn’t discover Terry Pratchet until university. Dave and I had been introduced to a MUD (multi-user dungeon) on the Internet, and we were having problems with some of the quests. “Oh,” said a helpful player, “that one’s straight from the books.”

“There are books?” I asked, to the general hilarity of the online world. Soon after, Dave and I were annoying the crap out of a busload of people as we read Reaper Man and Small Gods on the way to Queensland. And now I’m on the organising committee for Nullus Anxietas IV.

There are a few novels that completely changed my life.

The first, I just finished again, this time on audio. 47 hours of unexpurgated Stephen King. The Stand. A work of genius that draws me in, over and over. I think I’ve read it at least once every two years since it was published. And yes, the re-release was better.

IT, I’ll lump in with The Stand. It is King’s mind at work. But these two, above all of the others, make me come back and read them for the sheer depth of the worlds he created. I also read Christine and Pet Sematary on a regular basis.

Ben Elton’s Stark was the first book I’d read that didn’t have a happy ending. It shocked me, but also opened me to the possibilities. It was incredibly well written, great characters and then… what the hell?

Tad Williams’ Otherland series blew me away. It’s slow going in places, but again, the story had a scope that I hadn’t seen in a novel or series for a long time. That one’s due to my aunty Joan, who put me onto them.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time gave me a new insight into magic. It was a world that touched on hundreds of different mythologies and wove them into an incredibly complex world. And then Jordan wrote books 7-10 (which were unnecessary). And then he died. Brandon Sanderson has revitalised the series, and I’m really looking forward to the last book.

Clive Barker was another writer who pushed boundary after boundary. Imajica redefined horror and fantasy for me. He wrote about things that I would never have the courage to write about under my own name.  He’s not for the weak hearted, but he is an incredibly good writer.

I could go on. I might. But as a youngster, these books changed the way I looked at the world. I still like to get back to them on occasion to revisit writing that makes everyone else look bad. Don’t attack me for the people I’ve left out. I could add at least 20 more books that have also changed my life, but this was meant to be an off-the-top-of-my-head account and these are the ones that came to mind.

Oh, by the way: I’ve written ten more pages of Finding Damo. Word count to come when I’m home.

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