Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Fall of the Fantastic Four

Fanastic Four Vol 1

Fantastic Four: Vol. 1 – The Fall of the Fantastic Four

This graphic novel collects the first five issues of the 2014 series of Marvel’s First Family. The story begins with swarm of monsters invading the city. Of course, the Fantastic Four get blamed for all of the destruction. To make matters worse, Johnny Storm loses his powers in the battle.

Sue and Reed get put on trial and have their children taken away from them. And believe it or not, that is just the start of their downfall.

Fantastic Four Vol 2

Fantastic Four: Vol. 2 – Original Sin

Ben learns a secret that infuriates him. He leaves the team in anger and ends up getting accused of murder. Things are looking pretty bad for the Fantastic Four. Is there a connection between all tragedies? Is someone trying to bring an end to the team?

Fantastic Four Vol 3

Fantastic Four: Vol. 3 – Back in Blue

Just when things couldn’t look any more glum, the team reassembles with their classic uniforms. They will fight to the bitter end and find out exactly who has been behind the unraveling of their lives.

Fantastic Four Vol 4 - The End is Fourever

Fantastic Four: Vol. 4 – The End is Fourever

The ultimate battle between the evil genius who has been working for years to unravel the Fantastic Four and our fearless heroes comes to a head in this issue. The story concludes the series of this comic, but I really don’t think it is the last we will see of FF. The End is Fourever . . . but so is The Fantastic Four.

My List of 2016 Reads – my annual reading log

How I Feel Doing Midnight Radio

Midnight Radio 1

Midnight Radio 2

Midnight Radio 3

Midnight Radio 4

Midnight Radio 5

Midnight Radio 6

Midnight Radio 7

Midnight Radio 8

Midnight Radio. Written by Ehud Lavski. Art by Yael Nathan.


I feel like this when I do my Midnight Radio program. It feels like I belong there and I hope I connect with the listeners in the same way. Brilliant comic!

Listen to My Show –  Word is Bond Rap Radio

True Enough isn’t The Real Truth – Dig Deeper!

True Enough

True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society by Farhad Manjoo

The truth can be irrelevant. Facts can be used to prove just about anything. And in this day and age, we have some very skilled liars that can spread their “true enough” message out to the masses.

How did we get to this place and how can we learn to live in a post-fact society?

Farhad Manjoo explores this topic in detail by looking at news, politics, and popular media. He writes . . .

When we strung up the planet in fiber-optic cable, when we dissolved the mainstream media into prickly niches, and when each of began to create and transmit our own pictures and sounds, we eased the path through which propaganda infects the culture.

He talks about four very specific processes.

Selective Exposure – we indulge information that pleases us and cocoon ourselves among others who think as we do

Selective Perception – we interpret documentary proof according to our long-held beliefs

Peripheral Processing – which produces a swarm of phony experts

Hostile Media Phenomenon – pushes the news away from objectivity

These processes distort the truth and can present an image that seems true. This “true enough” statement can then snowball until it becomes the new truth. And at this point, the real facts don’t even seem to matter.

Manjoo has crafted a work that needs further exploration. At the very least, it should remind us to question everything so we can get to the real truth.

My List of 2016 Reads – a detailed personal reading log (for all to see)

The Absence of Fear is a Bad Thing in Batman’s Universe


Batman The Dark Knight: Vol 1. Night Terrors

Fear . . . “lives in every dark shadow — waits around every corner. It can be in two places at once . . . on the path ahead, yet somehow always behind you. Fear hides in every decision, questioning your every move. And it’s your fault. You are the one who gives it life.”

What an opening for a Batman story. It’s iconic. And a great read. I really enjoyed it.

This is the second edition of the title. I had no idea of the previous series but it really didn’t matter. Anyone who knows anything about Batman will be able to follow along with no problems.

In the main story, some of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals have broken out of Arkham Asylum. To make things even worse, they no longer seem to have any fear. That makes things very dangerous for our favourite caped crusader.

There are two other shorter stories in this collection as well. The strange thing is that the ending, even though a bit of a cliffhanger, didn’t leave me wanting to read more. Not sure why. The opening story was so good.

That being said, if I see Volume 2 at the library, I’d probably still pick it up.

My List of 2016 Reads – a detailed, continually updated, reading log for the year

The Gift Must Always Move

Seven TeachingsI have never liked the term Indian Giver. Not only is it racist, it is wholly inaccurate.

The First Nations People weren’t in the practice of giving presents and then taking them back. There was a cycle that was observed and for those outside of the culture, it was a little hard to understand.

I never really got it until I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. 

In it, she retells the story of The Gift by Lewis Hyde. He speaks of “the commerce of the creative spirit.”

Apparently, Tribal Chiefs would share a pipe of tobacco with their guest and then offer the pipe as a symbolic peace offering. It was never meant to be a gift that the guest would hold onto forever. The pipe would be “continually regifted from tribe to tribe, never really ‘belonging’ to anybody.” The Englishman would be confused by this. He thought the pipe was a gift and was insulted when the next tribal leader came over to his house and seem to expect to be given the pipe.

Hyde concludes:

The opposite of “Indian Giver” would be something like “white man keeper” . . . that is, a person whose instinct is to remove property from circulation . . . The Indian giver (or the original one, at any rate) understood a cardinal property of the gift: whatever we have been given is supposed to be given away again, no kept . . . The only essential is this:

The gift must always move.

What a great sentiment!

Doctor Who and Batman Too

Doctor Who - Wheel of Ice

Doctor Who – The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter

I haven’t read much in the way of Doctor Who fiction, just a few comic books and a young adult novel.

When I picked this book up from the library, I wasn’t even sure what incarnation of The Doctor was staring in this story. The back cover didn’t make it clear, but I was sure it was going to be a great read anyway. The cover art is absolutely gorgeous. I love how it looks like the book itself is frozen.

It turns out that this story is set in the second Doctor’s reign. Jamie and Zoe are his companions and together they are drawn toward a time disturbance on a mining colony on one of Saturn’s moons.

The miner’s uncovered something that should have made them stop operations. But the powers-that-be ignored the discovery, pretended it didn’t exist, and kept on mining. Of course, this has some pretty terrible consequences – consequences that the Doctor and his faithful companions must not set right,

Wayne of Gotham novel

Batman: Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman

I have read a lot of Batman novels and short stories over the years. I’m not sure what happened to those old books. I have had to purge some of my collection over the years due to moves so that’s likely what happened.

This story runs parallel in two different time periods. The first one is in the present day and focuses around Bruce Wayne / Batman. Of course, the things that he faces now are a direct result of events that his father was a part of many, many years ago.

I enjoyed this read, but I am not sure I like the ending and what it means for the saga of Batman. I would write about that in detail but it would be a spoiler. I try not to do that in these book review posts.

My List of 2016 Reads – my annual reading log

Great Advice on Becoming a How-To Writer

How to Write and Sell

How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit by Robert W. Bly

Here are a few of the notes I took while reading this book . . .

A how-to writer is a teacher in print. However, instead of teaching in a classroom, the how-to wroter does most of his teaching in written format.

I’m a teacher, this could be right up my alley.

4 Ways of Learning

The four basic learning modalities are:reading (books, e-books); listening (audio CDs, downloadable MP3 files, podcasts): watching (DVDs, TV programs, online video); and doing, also called “experiential learning” (workshops, seminars, courses).

By publishing in different media addressing all four of the major learning modalities, you can reach the broadest audience possible.

How Many Topics Should You Cover?

Three niches seems to be the most you want to tackle, at least according to the author of this book. In my blog, I cover teaching, hip-hop, reading, writing, skateboarding, comics, deejaying, and running. Clearly I have more than one area of expertise that I could write about. Not all of them would work in the how-to realm. Maybe I can trim it down to three.

Niche Size?

Your niche must ideally have 100,00 people in it to be profitable. . . it is a realistic goal to sell to 5 percent of your total market.

Doing the math, to sell 5,000 books at that rate, you would need an audience of 100,000 people.

The 2X Rule

The 2X rules says you should gather approximately twice as much research material as you think you will need to write the peace. You can [then] be selective and use only the research that best supports and illustrates your points.

Organizing Your Research

Bly suggests organizing your digital files in a logical way. That could be folders within folders, but basically keeping everything in place.

If you plan to print out your material, he suggests “typing the file name in the upper-left corner of page one. That way, when you have a hard copy in your hand, you always know the file name and can quickly retrieve it from your hard drive with the file search feature.

Cite Your Research as You Go

Also, always indicate on the file the date the content was created and, if taken from an outside source, details on the source. Without theses attribution details readily available, you may not be able to use the material.

Back-Up Every 24 Hours

Back up your entire hard drive to a mirror device (a hard drive of duplicate configuration) every 24 hours.

You can set your computer to do this automatically.

Give Clear Instructions

Experienced how-to writers strive to write clear instructions with sufficient details to enable the reader ti perform the function or complete the task. 

8 Steps To Getting Your Book Published

Bly suggests following this route instead of writing the book out beforehand. Publishers of non-fiction often want to see a proposal rather than a finished book. It saves both of you time, after all.

So here is his proven method. You might want to read this book to get all the details for each of these steps.

  1. Come up with a good idea
  2. Evaluate your idea critically
  3. Create the outline
  4. Write your book proposal
  5. Get an agent
  6. Send your proposal to publishers
  7. Negotiate your contract
  8. Write and deliver the manuscript

Some of the advice in this book seems dated, which is strange considering it is less than ten years old. His pricing guides, for example, seems a bit off considering that e-books have fallen in price since 2010. However, there is a companion website available to you if you purchase the book. And I am sure it will offer a more up-to-date picture of the how-to-market today.

My List of 2016 Reads – Every book I read over the course of the year is here!

Look, It’s Me! – Making Our Students Visible in Print

Look, it's me!I taught in Northern Ontario on a First Nation Reservation. It was pretty much at the top of the map of Ontario. There were no roads into this community. The only way to get there was to fly on a little charter plane and land on a dirt runway. In the winter, you could drive over the frozen lake when the winter road was open. It certainly was a brand new experience for me.

The isolation was really something. Without the distractions of city life, I found the time to write the novels I had always wanted to. With one title under my belt, I kicked around some ideas for my next work of fiction.

I was walking home with the principal one day and I told him of my idea for my next story. He seemed indifferent to what I thought was an amazing story idea. And then he said something that really inspired me. He said that the kids up here really needed to see themselves in more stories.

Something clicked in me when he said that. Almost immediately I began work on a young adult novel set on a fictional reserve much like the one I was living in. When I was finished the story, I read it to my class and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

I hadn’t thought much about the characters and settings in the books I chose to share with my class prior to that. Now, I am very conscious of choosing stories and making books available where my students can see themselves reflected in the work.

I have always seen myself in popular culture I am only now beginning to understand my white privilege. There isn’t a lot I can do about that, other than call attention to it, and embrace other cultures as much as possible.

I am enthusiastic about sharing works of other cultures. I would also like to do this in very subtle ways if I ever happen to run a library. I would feature books, articles, comics, and online resources that reflect the heritage of my students. I would place these in open sight and let the works speak for themselves.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – The Third Tuesday of every month!

Celebrating 4 Years of Word is Bond Rap Radio

WIB 4th Banner

Tonight, we celebrate the 4th Anniversary of Word is Bond Rap Radio.

It’s hard to believe that I started this show four years ago. I have had some great times on the airwaves, produced dozen of documentaries about hip-hop, interviewed close to 100 musicians, had live performances, and spun a lot of great music.

We are having a party at the radio station to celebrate this milestone. If you live anywhere near London, Ontario, Canada, please come by CHRW at Western University to kick it with me live on the air. You are invited to perform a song, jump in on a cypher, and spin a few tracks.

BRING – your beats or tunes on a USB

TUNE IN LIVE – if you can’t make it out, listen to the radio  or stream it worldwide.

PHONE IN – (519) 661-3600 I will put you on the air to give your shout-outs and well-wishes.

Listen to Word is Bond Rap Radio

Follow The Word is Bond on Facebook and Twitter and myself on Instagram.

Follow CHRW on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hashtag – #WIBRapRadio

A Novel of Scribbled Notes

Life on the Refrigerator Door novel

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

This novel takes place entirely through the written word. More specifically, through notes that have been scribbled down as a mother is rushing to and from her job. She doesn’t seem to be able to balance home and work very well. As such, her daughter has to pick up a lot of the slack.

Kuipers is able to tell a story  by simply sharing these small moments between mother and daughter. The two characters aren’t always crossing paths in the night. They get to spend time together, but we aren’t privy to those evenings or weekends.

In fact, much of what is said in this novel is outside of the little notes we get to read. Kuiper brilliantly sets up a world that makes this possible.At first, I thought this format would have been restricting and that it might not work as a cohesive novel, but she pulls it off.

The concept pulled me in and the story kept me engaged. It’s divided into four parts. The first part spans only a month, but by the end of the novel, we have spent the spring and the summer with this family and learned a lot about them. It even tugs at our heart-strings a little.

It’s a quick read and one that I would recommend.

My List of 2016 Reads – my annual and interactive reading log