Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts- A Review and Other Things

We put up a podcast a few days ago about spy films following our trip to see Kingsman, the latest comic book adaptation by Michael Matthew Vaughan.

Today’s post however is a bit of a deviation from our normal format and hopefully acts as a bit of promotion for our sibling blog that Alec will be restarting for the Cricket a World Cup.

For those of you who love cricket, please keep reading. For those of you who don’t, please read anyway as it’s about more than an obtuse English sport.

Alec says:

“Cricket is a wonderful sport. It’s played all over the world but often only at the apparently begrudging tolerance of its governing body: the International Cricket Council or ICC.

Ahead of the game’s marquee event, the World Cup, the ICC has insisted that the next edition will be played by 10 instead of 14 nations. Leaving aside the fact that 14 nations is less than half the football World Cup, this is a kick in the teeth to those nations lower down the sporting pecking order.

Global cricket is split into 2 factions, the full members and everybody else.

The full nations are: Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

The rest of the cricketing field is split into several tiers, explaining the formation and rationale of which would take a long and circuitous route to fully explain.

The ICC’s decision to effectively gut its biggest tournament is a travesty because some of all sports’ greatest stories come when the little guys give the playground bullies a bloody nose, and in Cricket World Cups no team has done it quite like the Irish. At the 2007 tournament they tied with Zimbabwe and beat Bangladesh and Pakistan. Then in 2011 they played one of the most enthralling matches ever to beat England, thanks to the fastest ever century by Kevin O’Brien. Highlights of his innings alone are justification for the very existence of YouTube.  If you care about sport, about fairness and about the fact that there is more to life than making sure those with power and money keep their power and money, please make known your displeasure at what the ICC has done otherwise we may see very little more of these heroics in future.

And these anecdotes barely scratch the surface of the smaller nations in cricket. For a much more complete picture one could do far worse than pick up Peter Miller’s and Tim Wigmore’s Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts. Along with some quite incredible statistics (such as the fact that there are more cricket clubs than rugby clubs in Scotland), they tell a fascinating story of how the sport is growing in some unlikely places in spite of the apathy and antagonism of the big names at the ICC table.

Fun to read, excellently written, often uplifting, always fascinating and occasionally heartbreaking it lays down a very early marker for the sports book of 2015. It certainly makes a better case for expanding the World Cup than Dave Richardson of Giles Clarke made for shrinking it.”

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Posted in Books, Cricket

Good as Words, Better on Film

Welcome all to our recommendations for adapted works that are better than the originals. All of these are easily available either in their novel form or their superior, light and sound type.

The Godfather (1972)

Originally written by Mario Puzo (1969)

The first vision- Guns, gangsters and one girl’s oversized vagina.

The superior second attempt- The American dream in a bloody nutshell (with added lesson on the perfect pasta sauce)

The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

Originally written by JRR Tolkien (1954-1955)

The first vision- A long walk to get of rid of some notably un-blingy jewellery.

The superior second attempt (actually a third attempt if you include the animated version)- Magneto, Ned Stark, that Yellow Bastard and the dull one from Pirates of the Caribbean team up to defeat Dracula and a glowing eye.

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1997)

Originally written by Henry fielding (1749)

The first vision- A young man has an adventure that would make George RR Martin complain about the lack of focus.

The superior seventh or eight (?) attempt- The whole of equity rogers, fights and hams its way through the 1eighteenth century.

Let the Right One In (2009)

Originally written by John Ajvide Lidquist

The first vision- Vampires, children and a bit too much gore.

The superior second attempt- Vampires, children, gore and sadness. Oh, the sadness. Be warned, please avoid the third attempt, let me in. It is not superior at all.

We have a week off next week (family commitments and not being sure where in the country we will be). We will try and get a blog up however, so stay tuned.

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Posted in Film

Urban Fantasy- The International Geek Review Primer List

So, that was episode 3 of the International Geek Review podcast. We hope you enjoyed it.

Our focus this week was on urban fantasy novels and we reviewed the following:

Fated (first book in the Alex Verus series)

by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus; shop owner, diviner and reluctant participant into the ongoing cold war between the forces of light and darkness, is dragged into the hunt for the fateweaver. Stunningly easy to read and utterly hard to put down once started. It is also available as an audiobook.

Zoo City

by Lauren Buekes

A woman, bonded to her sloth familiar, finds missing objects for people in her native Johannesburg. Her latest job is to find the missing relative of a pop music duo. Won 2 best novel awards (the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke and the 2010 Kitschies Red Tentacle) as well as the 2010 best artwork BSFA for the dust jacket.

London Falling

by Paul Cornell

Inspector Quill’s top prisoner is impossibly murdered. In his and his team’s attempts to bring the perpatrator to justice they are granted the power to witness the strange stuff happening in London. Cornell has written most famously for Doctor Who (Human Nature/Family of Blood and Father’s Day) and this novel is a worthy addition to his ouevre.

Foxglove Summer

by Ben Aaronovitch

Book five in the Peter Grant series, the other four books being Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, Whispers Underground and Broken Homes. This book is the first to take Grant substantially out of London for its length as he assists the West Country police in their search for 2 missing girls. This also has an excellent audiobook, performed impeccably by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

All these books are worth your effort in reading (or listening to on Audiobook if that’s your thing).

Our next instalment will be a minor departure. Instead of looking at any particular genre our focus will be adaptations that we believe supercede the original.  Until then, enjoy your week.

Posted in Uncategorized

The First International Geek Cinematic Review (or how I learnt to stop worrying and ditch watching Her)

So, welcome to the second broadcast by Beth and I at the International Geek Review Podcast.

This week, we have focused on four science fiction films and we hope you enjoy them as much as you do the podcast. Well, we hope that for three of them at least.

Her (2013)

by Spike Jones

Joaquin Phoenix stars as a young man who forms a relationship with his computer AI, played by Scarlett Johansson. Technically serviceable if narratively hobbled by tricksy direction and lack of characterisation.

Looper (2012)

by Rian Johnson

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as a hit-man in the rollicking time-travelling crime thriller. Worth watching as a companion piece with Source Code.

Robot and Frank (2012)

by Jake Schreier

Frank Langella is the retired career criminal who forms a bond with his home-help robot, voiced by Peter Sarsgaard (not Michael Fassbender as erroneously recorded).

Attack the Block (2011)

by Joe Cornish

John Boyega stars as Moses, leading his gang of South London street toughs against alien invaders. Believe!

So that is it for this week. If you have recommendations of your own, please write below and let us know what and why. We may even read your comment out.

So until next week…

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Posted in Film

International Geek Review Podcast 1

Hello there, welcome to the first blog for the International Geek Review. I am Alec and I hope that you enjoyed the podcast.  If you are yet to tune in, you can hear at our Soundcloud Page

In our first episode we reviewed 6 titles, all of which can be ordered from your online retailer of choice or found through your local bookshop or comic store and if you are very lucky your local library.

So in the tradition of ladies first, let us start with Beth’s selections:

Sandman

Published by DC Vertigo

The defining modern fantasy comic, written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by a variety of artists. The first volume is Preludes and Nocturnes, ISBN 1563890119. A series of Absolute Editions is also available, which while expensive to collect is also extremely beautiful.

Lighter than my Shadow

Published by Jonathan Cape

The autobiographical tale of living with anorexia. It is published in a single volume and the ISBN is 0224090984.

Scott Pilgrim

Published by Oni Press

The tale of one young man’s heroic quest to vanquish his love’s 7 evil exes. It is published in 6 volumes, the first of which is Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life and its ISBN is 1932664084. Although originally published in black and white, a coloured version was released in 2012.

And here are Alec’s choices:

Scalped

Published by DC Vertigo

The crime tale of an undercover Fed on the Rez. It is collected in 10 volumes, the first of which is Indian Country, ISBN 1401213170.

100 Bullets

Published by DC Vertigo

Probably Vertigo’s best and most ambitious comic since Preacher ended. It is collected in 13 volumes, starting with First Shot, Last Call, ISBN 1563896451. There are 5 deluxe editions available, which are not as impressive as the “Absolute” books that Sandman was given.

We3

Published by DC Vertigo

The ultra-violent, anime inspired retelling of the Incredible Journey. It was collected in a single volume with ISBN 1401243029. A deluxe hardcover edition was also published in 2011.

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Posted in Comics