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Mr Underground "Comics and art lover" (UK)

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Axel America and the U.S. Election Race
Axel America and the U.S. Election Race
by Andy Luke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Axel America has no time for shills!, 10 Jan. 2017
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I'd describe it as a Gonzo surrealist satirical journey through American political skullduggery, conspiracy theories, corrupt media and crazy ideas made flesh. Along for the ride are Axel America, his family, and his conspiracy theorist allies. They're up against ambitious, arrogant billionaire and presidential candidate Morgan Rump, the Faux News media tycoon Oliver Macgregor, anchorwoman O.K. Burly, shady government agents, an ex-nazi scientist (Hermann Martian) and even at one point, the satanic minions of hell!
Axel is a loud, anger-fuelled, paranoid shock-jock (with his own video podcast, 'truth live'), who I would say was based more than a little on a real-life conspiracy-theorist, down to their mutual love of using 'the bullhorn' as a means of communication. Anyone who is familiar with him (and the other character parodies mentioned above), will immediately get the humour and real-world parallels in this book.

Axel is a man too busy being angry, and ramming 'the truth' (as he sees it) down everyones throats, to check his 'facts' and sources. He is enjoyable and palatable as a character however, because although he's a severely flawed, overbearing, raging, confused, self-unaware and delusional fool, he's also at times completely sincere, vulnerable, likeable and has a certain amount of integrity.
He's someone who really loves his family, and will go all out to protect them, even if a lot of the perceived threats are imagined. Sometimes he hits the nail on the head though, and things that others laugh-off prove to be right. He also comes out with some hilarious phrases, mannerisms and ideas of the laugh-out-loud variety.

Another parody of a real-life British conspiracy theorist in this book is the more new-age orientated, alien-obsessed character and friend of Axel named 'Milk Falk'. There's one chapter in the book, where Falk thinks that the best way to infiltrate a dinner party for the power-base of the elite is by attaching a fake lizard tail. I'll let you see whether or not he pulls it off.

At the heart of the story is the all American family unit; which takes the age-old American sit-com idea and subverts it. There's Axel, his long suffering, upstanding wife Liberty, the good natured, sensitive and eager-to-please son Constitution, and the rebellious, tempestuous teenage daughter, Martha.

There's room for little episodic chapters, lots of action and comedic skits, even some slapstick within the longer story arc of the clandestine power-mongers trying to rig the election, and them using Axel and a member of his family to do so.

The book is an often chuckle inducing and also a cathartic read, finding absurd humour in even the blackest veins of the Corporate American rabbit hole, or when lampooning the unscrupulous behaviour of the deluded, and the devisive. Andy Luke also has fun with his characters, fleshing them out and having them interact in amusing and interesting ways, and isn't afraid to poke some fun at all sides of the equation, with interesting and original ideas.
Stand out episodic moments for me included where Axel is forced to attend an anger-management group, and ends up causing mayhem but also a kind of anarchic bonding session, a chapter where Axel & his son are out hunting and stumble across a bunch of ultra-politically correct animal rights activists (the banner slogans were priceless), the devasating effects of Axel's super-powered bullhorn turned up to full, and where his weaponised home-security system 'Axel-bot' is accidently triggered while Axel is away, and locks down the house, targetting his family and friends, and carries out it's programming to eradicate the threat.

Maybe it's just me, but I felt like there was a touch of the old Spike Milligan or Douglas Adams in this book, ie; the mischievous relish in finding the ridiculous and worrying in real-life and sending it up in a very funny and surreal manner. The book looks also at the hyperreality and hyperbole that exists in “The Greatest Nation On God's Green Earth” and much of the world today, where many people now believe whatever they want (or what they are told from manipulative sources).

The author comments on all this in numerous ways, never becoming preachy, and adding comic book-esque and pop-culture touches which are welcome and recognisable and part of his sense of humour.
What I liked most about this book is the humour and imagination. It takes lots of ideas and has fun with them in often original and off-kilter ways. I enjoyed the ending a lot too, which I won't spoil. All that I'll say is that there's a good Axel moment where he addresses the public with one of his rants, and makes some pretty good (and funny) points. What happens during and immediately afterwards also made me think a little about the hypocrisy about those who just talk the talk and those citizens and activists who actually take on responsibilities and the thankless task of trying to create real change in a corrupt world. But I also think it was mainly about the character figuring out, in his comical way, in the moment, what he really wanted to do, and was important to him.

The only criticism I have is a minor one, and that is the choice of title. “The Election Race” part of it. I think they shot themselves in the foot a bit there. Although topical, the election has been and gone, and the book is about far more than that event, and was written with not just the two candidates in mind (In fact one of the candidates only gets mentioned once or twice). The story and satire is of a much more broad, surreal, richer and ambitious scope, and I feel the title sells it short a little. So it's possibly misleading to anyone who just sees the title, who may think it's no-longer relevant, when in fact it's very much so.

Story-wise however, I have no qualms, it's a really enjoyable romp which I've recommended to my friends. I'd love to read a sequel one day.


Wannabe a Writer? (Secrets to Success)
Wannabe a Writer? (Secrets to Success)
by Jane Wenham-Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, 23 July 2013
This book is great if you want to be entertained and listen to lots of the author's anecdotes about her life, but it's severely lacking for practical advice on writing, plot and structure etc.
As others have mentioned, most of the useful bits are gleaned from other writers whom she quotes, but it feels like one of those souless 'inspirational quotes' books - where things sound good, but you don't get anything really substantial.
Plus, as others have mentioned, there's the plugging of her own books. I haven't read any of Wendham's books, and I don't think I'll be in a hurry to after reading this. Very disappointing.


Dubs From The Vaults - Conscious Sounds
Dubs From The Vaults - Conscious Sounds

5.0 out of 5 stars Great UK Roots Dub. Essential listening!, 19 Sept. 2011
I'd heard some of (the very excellent) Centry's stuff before so I thought I'd give this CD a whirl. VERDICT: Superb stuff! Anyone who is a fan of the UK Dub & Roots scene will not be disappointed! A very rare gem full of great tracks.


Wasting Away [DVD] [2007]
Wasting Away [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Michael Terry
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.40

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Original take on a tired genre. More comedy than a horror., 15 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Wasting Away [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I found this very enjoyable. It will appeal to fans of "Fido" and "Shaun Of The Dead". A very unique take on the zombie medium, lots of fresh ideas, amusing and witty dialogue, and genuinely likeable characters (something that you don't get too often these days). Not to be taken too seriously. Yes, the premise does borrow a little from Return of the Living Dead, but that is merely the background of the story; the main character plots are very different in style and tone. I like how the film starts of very comic book, and how the film switches from black and white to colour in various parts of the film to show the difference between what the humans perceive and what the zombies perceive. I found the idea highly amusing, that the only uninfected people that could communicate with the zombies on their level were those who were blind drunk. This whole premise was a stroke of genius in my opinion and executed extremely well for a low budget film. There are a little tips of the hat to Romero films too, but this is basically it's own boss and tosses convention to it's side. I was very impressed with the special FX and makeup and the general look of the film too. Nice camera work and editing. I won;t go to much into the plot as others have already. Not an out-and-out classic, and maybe not one for the hardcore blood-and-guts brigade, but a good fun, beer and friends movie, which is worthy of minor cult status. I would rate this on a par with Fido, which is another ingenius twist on the satirical zom-com theme.


Trailer Park Of Terror [DVD] [2008]
Trailer Park Of Terror [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Nichole Hiltz
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £2.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly enjoyable Indie Cult Horror film, Full of Dark Humour, 11 Sept. 2011
I don't want to give too much away, but this was a surprise delight. Nasty, dark humour, great trailer park characters, a kind of Creepshow/ Comic Book feel to it mixed with a bit of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Great special Effects, Great original soundtrack (one of the undead rednecks is a Rockabilly guitarist). This a fun, rock and roll horror-fan classic! Recommended.


Wall [DVD]
Wall [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simone Bitton
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.93

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing change. Brings hope instead of endless conflict, 9 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Wall [DVD] (DVD)
I don't know what film Anthony J. Geha Yuja watched in his review, but it certainly wasn't the same film I saw. This is certainly not a pro-Israeli piece of propaganda. In fact, the only person who comes across as a intolerant, forceful bigot is the Israeli defence minister, even though the filmaker asked him a simple question and was not trying to badger him.
The film chooses to look at the apartheid wall and look at people on both sides of it. She interviews people herself, and because of her own background and that she can speak arabic and hebrew, many don't know if she is jewish or arabic. In fact, one sweet old Palestinean man asks her which she is. She replies jovially "whichever you prefer". This is a very positive film to come out of the conflict. What you discover is that a lot of regular israelis empathise with the Palestineans, many are against the wall. One Israeli man actually tries to explain the rightwing Israeli zionist mindset "We love this land so much, we wanted this land so much, but our love has driven us mad"....The film looks also at some hypocrisies on the Palestinean side of things: For example, a Palestinean construction team are actually being paid to put up the wall of their own prison, and the gaffer certainly has no qualms about this as business is business. The film shows evidence of the land grabs, and dying orchards that Palestinean farmers are unable to reach due to the wall cutting them off. It shows the madness of how the wall cuts through homes and along Palestineans places of work, and how some Palestineans have to walk a long way around the wall or climb over and risk getting shot ot just so they can work. You also see Israeli families watching at some points from their neigbouring dwellings and showing empathy and wanting an end to the injustice. This film is so different from most news about Israel and Palestine. It shows those who are not militants or people blinded by hate. It shows people who are just regular people. I can't recommend this enough. One part of tghe film shows families in Gaza talking to Israeli families via phone, and we hear about the terrible conditions in Gaza from a doctor who is trapped in there. This is a very moving and powerful documentary and the extras are also very informative. If you want a film that goes beyond media sensationalism, negative stereotypes and polarisation , and rather a more humanist approach, then this is the documentary for you.


All Ears
All Ears
by Michael Holden
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Eaves Dropping Masterpiece, 7 Sept. 2011
This review is from: All Ears (Paperback)
We've all had moments where we've eavesdropped on interesting and hilarious conversations, but Michael Holden takes it to another level, deliberately trying to tune in to those brilliant aural ancedotal'kodac moments' in all manner of weird and wonderful situations and places. The results are very entertaining and the illustrations are brilliant too! A great book, I was bought it as a gift and will probably do the same after reading it.


Nighty Night - Series 2 [DVD] (2005)
Nighty Night - Series 2 [DVD] (2005)
Dvd ~ Julia Davis
Offered by Online Traders UK
Price: £6.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great comedy, Series 2 is just as funny!, 2 Sept. 2011
I can't understand how some people gave this just one star! Yes, it's very black comedy. Yes it makes you cringe, and sometimes get angry. Yes the main character is a vain tabloid-mentality sociopath who is extremely unlikeable. But that's the point. As the box says this is "A West Country Fatal Attraction". The absurdity of taking the fair of hollywood psychological thrillers but putting it in middle-england surburbia with a cast of dysfunctional characters. And the idea of setting serie 2 in a new-age beach retreat was genius. Whoever said in another review that the cast can't act needs their head looking at. Rebecca Front, Kevin Eldon, and Angus Deayton are great as the 'normal' type of characters (but even they have their dark sides), and Julia Davis, Ruth Jones and Mark gattiss are great as the more oddball/ crazed characters...Ruth Jones and Mark Gattiss in particular made me laugh out loud in this series. This is well written character comedy that dares to go places that most series wouldn't.


Nighty Night - Series 1 [DVD]
Nighty Night - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Julia Davis
Price: £6.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very black comedy, but very funny at times too., 2 Sept. 2011
I can't understand how some people gave this just one star! Yes, it's very black comedy. Yes it makes you cringe, and sometimes get angry. Yes the main character is a vain tabloid-reading sociopath who is extremely unlikeable. But that's the point. As the box says this is "A West Country Fatal Attraction". The absurdity of taking the fair of hollywood psychological thrillers but putting it in middle-england surburbia with a cast of dysfunctional characters. Whoever said in another review that the cast can't act needs their head looking at. Rebecca Front, Kevin Eldon, and Angus Deayton are great as the 'normal' type of characters (but even they have their dark sides), and Julia Davis, Ruth Jones and Mark gattiss are great as the more oddball/ crazed characters...Ruth Jones and Mark Gattiss in particular made me laugh out loud in this series. They create great comedy caricatures and never get tired. Series 2 is also a great edition, and cleverly written with a whole different environment and some new characters.


Pit And The Pendulum [1990] [DVD]
Pit And The Pendulum [1990] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lance Henriksen
Offered by Chibbi DVDs
Price: £4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're a fan of Stuart Gordon, this one is for you!, 26 Aug. 2011
So it may not have Vincent Price, but this remake is, to my mind, a great contender for the original's throne. Lance Henrikson acts his socks off, and Oliver Reed and Jeffrey Combs are fantastic too. The gore/ horror element is very well done and all in all it's a very enjoyable film. If you like Stuart Gordon's other films (Reanimator, Castle Freak, Dagon etc), then this is for you!


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