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Category Archives: Pop Culture Commentary

Interesting Blog by Merlin Goldman following a discussion we were having about the dynamics of trios in popular culture which led, among other things to considering Dr Who, Preacher and Father Ted.

Have a read here:


I have to come clean with you.  This collection of commuter poems is not angst.  It is not about the grind of commuting, although of course it is a grind, in a way.  But to me, commuting is something to celebrate.  Its a patch of calm between home and work.  Of course, I exclude the brutality of the Underground from these comments.

To me, a train commute is a beautiful time.  I can read.  I can write poems.  I can surf the net, and if not in the quiet carriage, listen to music.  I can observe the commuters around me.  Which brings me to this latest part of the Passengers Project, Didcot to Bracknell Reading Survey 1.  This is a list of its time (2008), hence how frequently Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows appears.  Such a reading survey, which was basically covered by getting sneaky looks at what people are reading on the train would be much more difficult now, in this age of Kindles and tablets, although I suspect there would be a lot of copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.

So, here we go, this is what people were reading in the morning, in 2008, in those trains running between Didcot and Reading Berkshire, and Reading and Bracknell.

Didcot to Bracknell Book Reading Survey, 1.

Panic by Jeff Abbott
The Grey Area by Will Self
The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden
You Drive Me Crazy by Carole Matthews
A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling (Children’s cover) x 2
The History of Britain Revealed by M J Harper
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis
Marshmallows for Breakfast by Dorothy Adamson
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling (‘Grown-up’ cover) x 4
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen D Levnitt and Stephen J Dubner
The Reef by Nick Roberts
Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin
The Ship Avenged (Brainship) by S M Stirling

I just read the penultimate issue of Garth Ennis’ magnum opus comic series The Boys, and it’s been quite a ride at seventy-one issues so far.

It’s been in turns hilarious, gruesome, poignant and ultra-violent.  But I think when it comes down to it, it’s got a lot more heart than you might think if you just read the reviews, or took it at a superficial level.

It’s about very bad superheroes and the very bad team who keep them in line.

But it has a lot of heart too.

Let’s hear it for Wee Hughie, who could so easily have been your normal decent guy, who, out for revenge at the death of a loved one becomes a monster.  How many times have we seen that story?  Hughie’s better than that.  This is a story about a decent man who has all the horrors of the world perpetrated against him.  Very bad things.  But I’m hoping this is the story of the decent man who despite everything can remain a good person.

I read this on the BBC site – this is quite something.  A virtual massacre.  Bear with me, although this is in no way comparable to actual people being killed, it does make me think is something happening to the stories?  Are stories under attack?

There does seem to be an undercurrent at the moment in some cultural products of stories being under attack.

Stephen Fry once said “stories are the only access we have to truth on this planet.”  I’m with him on that one, and what happens when our stories go wrong?

World of Warcraft is essentially a massive shared narrative – and so many narrative threads will have been killed by this, not only online, but the imaginative worlds of the individuals they created their characters from.

The best examples I can think of where stories under attack is a theme is Mike Carey’s The Unwritten series and Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 2009.  If something is wrong in the world of stories, something is wrong with the world.  Maybe it is. I do believe that the world can be made a better – or worse place by the stories that people read, watch and experience.  Think of the Saw series, then think of The Cabin in the Woods, both powerful entertainments, but they are subject to quite a different world view.

Lets start the fight back by writing and living fantastic stories!