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C. Gordon "Doctor Death"

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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes a while to get it right, but when you do, oh boy..., 19 May 2012
As I've stated in the title, if you've been using multi bladed razors and 'goop in a can', there's a certain technique to using a safety razor - you can't just attack your face like you would with your "Gilletewilkinsonswordfusionmachpowerspringyguardwirehydrofivealoestrip XXXVIII", to do that invites a bloodbath.

To use a safety razor you first need to accept that you need to slow down a little and that skin prep is everything, or at least 80% of the battle. A good soap or cream (I've just discovered Proraso after using Trumper's for a while - considerably cheaper, and the menthol is very refreshing), worked up to a good lather and applied with a brush - badger is best - I 've got a Vulfix 660, had it for the best part of two years now and it's still going strong. Blades are a matter of taste - I started with Derby Extras, but then moved on to the legendarily sharp Feather Hi-stainless, now I refuse to use anything else.

The Merkur 34C is a simple piece of kit that feels solid, and has good weight to it (it's a substantial piece of metal)- let the razor's own weight do the work for you, don't add any pressure, and you'll get a great shave. No reason to cut yourself if you take your time. I used to hate shaving, now it's almost a pampering session - shaving need not be a chore. There's plenty of good advice on YouTube - Mantic59's videos have already been recommended, and I'd go along with that.

Changing blades is a snip, just unscrew the head with the knurled knob at the bottom of the handle and the head will come into two pieces, remove the old blade, pop in a new one, on goes the top bit, screw the know back up - job done.

It's easy to look at the Merkur 34C (AKA the HD) as being expensive, but with the new multiblade garbage at about a tenner (and about ten quid for a pack of four blades!), the savings soon become evident, even if you opt for more expensive blades as I do. It's also worth pointing out that the Merkur is a design which will not be updated every five minutes as with multiblades. It will quite literally last a lifetime (actually several lifetimes, I could imagine this being just as serviceable in a couple of hundred year's time!) There is little that can go wrong.

One more thing, RINSE it in your sink or under the hot tap as you shave, DON'T be tempted to tap it against the porcelain as you might with a multiblade - I suspect the sink will lose!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2013 10:29 AM BST

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Ninja sharpness from the land of the rising sun..., 4 May 2012
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When I first tried DE shaving I used Derby blades and was more than happy with them. However, having heard so many things about Feather's legendarily sharp blades, I was curious and decided to give them a go. They truly are phenomenal. As long as you get a good lather from a quality soap or cream worked up with a decent brush, then you'll never want to use anything else.

Recently, I got low on Feather blades, but as I have a huge stash of Derbys (I bought a pack of 100 and have only used two or three since I tried the Feathers) thought "I'll leave buying more until I've used the Derbys", and now I'm regretting that. The past two shaves have felt like I've been trying to shave with a wood plane. The Derbys always felt great before, now they feel downright awful- rough as a badger's bum, in fact. I decided to write this review after coming on here tonight to order more Feathers - using something other than the Feathers serves as a reminder of just how good they actually are. They last well, and the only time I've ever cut myself was when I dropped my razor and attempted to catch it, and it sliced my thumb for my trouble. Sure, you may take off the top of a pimple occasionally, but there's not a blade out there that won't do that from time to time.

I have no idea what I'll do with the Derbys, but I sure as hell won't be shaving with them any more than I have to!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2013 10:56 AM BST

Yeoman Hand Held Bulb Planter
Yeoman Hand Held Bulb Planter
Offered by Crowders
Price: 3.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes life easier, 29 Oct 2011
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If you've got a large number of bulbs to get into the ground, you can't go far wrong with this. It's maybe a little flimsy around the plastic handle though, and for that it loses a star.

Drive it into the ground to the desired depth, remove a plug of soil, pop bulb into the hole, press handle with thumb (or use two hands if you have particularly small or weak hands) and fill in hole. It's that easy.

A simple and cheap, but effective solution that is a genuine time saver over farting about with a trowel!

Edwin Jagger Contemporary Chrome-Plated Shaving Soap Bowl
Edwin Jagger Contemporary Chrome-Plated Shaving Soap Bowl
Price: 12.67

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh so small!, 29 Oct 2011
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Okay, so the dimensions are clearly marked and I didn't study them too cloesly, but this thing is really teeny tiny. It certainly does it's job as a bowl for whipping up a lather, but it is maybe a little small.

Can't really grumble though - it's very nicely finished, easy to clean, and almost impossible to do any real damage to, so it should last a lifetime!

Pure Badger Shaving Brush Faux Ivory Turned Handle
Pure Badger Shaving Brush Faux Ivory Turned Handle
Offered by Shaving Shack
Price: 16.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great brush for the price!, 29 Oct 2011
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I bought this around a year ago when I first started getting into DE shaving. I've found it works well with both hard soaps and creams, and it still seems as good now as it was the day I first received it. If you're new to traditional shaving, combine this with a Merkur 34C and a decent cream or soap and you'll be a well set up fellow indeed!

Cracking stuff.

BlackThorn (Chronicles of the Dark Sword Book 1)
BlackThorn (Chronicles of the Dark Sword Book 1)
Price: 0.77

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DESPERATELY needs a proof reader and editor..., 23 Oct 2011
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Okay, I've given it two stars, and I feel bad about that, as I think anyone who completes a novel deserves a certain amount of respect. However... it is self-published via a 'print on demand' company, and that has led to numerous problems.

The growth of self publishing is a double edged sword; on the plus side, anybody can publish a book. On the negative side... well, anybody can publish a book.

This book doesn't have a bad story, though there's little in here that can be called original - it borrows heavily from a number of different authors. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - I read fantasy to be entertained, not to be amazed by originality. For me it's just escapism, and hence that's why I still find myself reading Conan stories a lot, not to mention all of the clones - Thongor, Brak, Elak, yadda yadda yadda, you get the idea. If you're seeking something groundbreaking, this book is not for you. From my point of view, it's not a problem.

What is a problem, however, is the horrendous butchering of the English language. Please, Mr. Kunkel, learn how to use a comma. There are numerous (and I mean this literally - it happens several times on most pages throughout the book) occasions were he punctuates sentences with a full stop where there should have been a comma. This makes the flow of reading very stop-start and isn't pleasant.

As an example:

"The walls were covered with panels of dark wood. From which brightly colored shields hung, running the length of the wall." Surely this should have had a comma in, rather than the full stop in the middle. It just jars.


"The fog's vaporous tendrils drifted slowly up the beach towards the encamped men. Writhing as it went growing thicker until it spread out along the entire shore." Horrible, simply horrible.

These are just two instances - it goes on and on. If you can read without the full stop/comma mix ups bothering you, fine, if not - it's going to become annoying.

Next, simple misunderstandings of vocabulary usage. Past/passed mixed up, sun set/sunset, were/where. "We'll come back once the sunrises and..." Sun rises, surely? This are all examples were a good proof reader could pay dividends, and would ahve improved things no end. The most hilarious instance of this dubious word substitution comes in the following example:

"There were stories of those who had had looked upon Vool's continence. In all the tales, those that did died a horrible death." Really? I actually laughed out loud when I saw this one. Again, a proof reader would likely have spotted this particular boo boo. Clearly, continence is an issue in this world, as with a paragraph or two several men were 'soiling themselves with terror'.

Last, but not least, there are swathes of areas in the book where very little happens, and seem to serve only to pad the book out. There is a journey undertaken by the protagonist with a trader and his men which though it does allow the hero to learn knife throwing, is filled with unecessary 'action'. There's a fight, but it has little relevance to the plot. The rest of the journey is naught but filler. If it doesn't move the plot forward somehow, hack it out. A good editor would know this and recommend it too, I have no doubt.

I've still not finshed this book. I'm determined to, but all of these issues are niggling me more and more with every page. I'm 3/4 of the way through now, and I'm reading a little at a time, here and there. I'll get there, but I don't think I'll be bothering with the sequels unless he sorts things out.

In conclusion - this isn't a bad book per se, just one that desperately needs both an editor and a proof reader. These simple additions could lift this book from sub-par to very readable, if not earth-shatteringly original.

Draper 50678 Heavy-Duty Telescopic Anvil Loppers with Steel Handles
Draper 50678 Heavy-Duty Telescopic Anvil Loppers with Steel Handles
Price: 15.95

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good for the price, 25 Sep 2011
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I've always been a reluctant gardener up until recently, but due to my aging parents not being as physically able as they once were, their garden was getting a touch wild (okay, it was getting VERY wild), and it's fallen to me to do something about it. As a result, I've thrown myself into it with some gusto and I'm actually starting to enjoy it!

I'd initially borrowed a workmate's bypass loppers and had good results, but as he wanted his back (he was getting it in the ear from his wife as his own garden started to become overgrown), I thought I'd fork out for a pair of my own. I opted for a set of anvil loppers as I'd heard they were better for thicker branches - I'd also heard that anvil loppers sometimes crushed rather than left a clean cut, but that seemed a small price to pay.

Today was the first time I'd used them in anger, and as the task was getting a very large holly bush under control, it was no small test - the loppers cut through everything I put before them, including several very thick 'sprouters' (no idea what else to call them - they're just thick trunks that are heading vertically towards the heavens at an alarming rate of knots from the top of the bush). Whatever they are, they were a good inch and a half thick and the loppers went through them with some ease - I had to put my back into it, I admit, but the loppers never felt as though they were going to fail. The (very quick to adjust) extendable handles are a godsend too - without them I'd have been balancing on a precarious stepladder or similar. The cuts were very very clean - no sign of the 'crushing' I'd heard about.

They certainly feel well made and should last for many years - only time can be the judge here, but I certainly feel that they shouldn't need replacing for a good long time.

At the time of writing, these loppers are a steal at just over fourteen quid, and with super saver delivery I think they're a really good buy. If you need loppers, these are more than up to the job.

Red Sonja [DVD]
Red Sonja [DVD]
Dvd ~ Brigitte Nielsen
Price: 3.80

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Makes Hercules, Xena and Conan the Destroyer look like multi-Oscar winners, 15 Aug 2011
This review is from: Red Sonja [DVD] (DVD)
This film is by the same director as the dire Conan the Destroyer, the follow up to the 'not-representative-of-the-original-stories-but-still-thoroughly-enjoyable' Conan the Barbarian. Here we have the same lame attempts at 'comedy', a poor script, very camp and bling-laden costumes, and some truly terrible acting.

Brigette Nielson delivers her lines in a near-perfect monotone, and Schwarzenegger mangages to mangle his own dialogue in the manner we became accustomed to in his earlier films. The supporting cast really don't perform much better - the priestess near the beginning is particularly bad. When it comes to fighting, the swordplay isn't particularly convincing - it's as if the director gave the cast a sword each and said "Right you lot, bad guys in the dark clothing, attack the good guys in the light clothing!" and then filmed the result.

The evil Queen (Sandahl Bergman) has her own personal sorceror, complete with the naffest-looking set of long black stick-on nails that has ever graced the screen. Rather than looking evil and mysterious, he ends up looking more like John Cleese's character 'Tim the Enchanter' from Python's Holy Grail.

For seemingly no other reason than for the sake of exposition, Sonja's 'fairy godmother' (not actually a fairy godmother, but near enough) appears at the beginning and explains the story so far and that now Sonja must seek her revenge. It's really THAT bad.

On the plus side, and the reason I've given it two stars is that some of the sets are good, as are some of the long shots, good old fashioned matte work - the molten river at the bottom of the chasm seperating the green and pleasant lands from the evil queen's empire is particularly good. It seems clear that most of the budget was spent on the sets, so they had to get their mums to make their costumes. Whatever budget was left over was used to over saturate the colour of the final film - it looks in places very much like the false rainbow colours of early technicolour films.

To be fair to this film, most sword and sorcery films looked bad that were made in this era. The effects struggled to do justice to them (though look at Star Wars and its sequels - and yes, it IS fantasy, just in a space setting - they seemed to get away with it), and most of them ended up looking, ...naff.

In conclusion - it's bad. REALLY bad. Yet it's also enjoyable in a cheesy way. You'll need to turn your brain off first though.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2012 1:35 AM BST

The Rats
The Rats
Price: 3.59

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the masterpiece I remembered..., 13 Aug 2011
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This review is from: The Rats (Kindle Edition)
First a bit of background to my penchance for Herbert's novels...

Back in the days of my youth, when I was about thirteen years old (circa 1984 or thereabouts!), I had to do a book review for my English class. A year or two previously I had found a copy of Herbert's 'The Jonah' at a jumble sale, and attracted by its freaky cover, I bought it. It languished on a shelf for the next couple of years, until I decided it would make an excellent book to review. My English teacher took exception to this idea and told me "I don't like James Herbert, you'll have to review THIS instead," and handed me a copy of something that was no doubt more worthy as a piece of literature, but to a thirteen year old was utterly dull.

This was like a red rag to a bull - if she didn't approve, then they must be worth reading! So I did read them. ALL of them. I still await each new work by Herbert with anticipation, though they seem to be arriving after longer and longer intervals these days.

Anyhoo, I digress. It's been a long time since I read his earlier books, and now I have a Kindle, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to revisit them.

The first thing that struck me is how awkward Herbert's prose is is in this, his first book. When I first read it I didn't notice, but compared to his later works, it really does feel like a first novel. The blood and gore I remembered simply wasn't there to the degree I thought, either - whether this is due to my memories being distorted by the intervening years, or it's more a case of 'desensitization' by exposure to more graphic violence since, I can't be sure. It hasn't aged particularly well, perhaps.

The characters are drawn pretty thinly with no noticable development and are there purely to move the plot along, and there are of course the expected vignettes thrown in where various unsuspecting souls are attacked by the rats - these characters' appearances in the book are usually brief and bloody, and serve purely to illustrate the ferocity of the rodent aggressors. The ending is pretty good, and it was one of the few parts of the book that I had any kind of memory of at all.

With all these criticisms in mind, however, it's still a bloody good read, and I shall be revisisting its two sequels in the near future, along with such other gems as 'The Fog' and 'The Dark'.

Herbert clearly got something right - 'The Rats' spawned a whole series of 'nature attacking mankind' copycat stories throughout the seventies and into the eighties. From bats to locusts, spiders and even slugs, we've seen them all. Remember 'Devil's Coach Horse' by Richard Lewis, anyone? :)

If you've never read one of Herbert's novels before, I'd hesitate to recommend this as a first step into his work unless you've never been much of a reader previously; the clunky writing might put you off. Try something like 'The Fog' or 'The Dark' (though when I re-read them I may find them equally lacking in style...). If you just want a quick read (you can get through it in a faily short time) to entertain without challenging you, you really can't go wrong.

If Amazon had existed when I first read this as a teenager all those years ago I'd have doubtless given it five stars, but in the years I've read a lot of books since (mainly horror, SF and fantasy, with some more mainstream fiction thrown in here and there) and it just didn't have that same impact on me. It all seems a little tame to me nowadays and as I've said, the prose is a little stiff. It's still worth four stars though (just - I'm loathe to give it three as that would make it sound decidedly average or even poor, which it isn't), and it remains a slightly dated classic of the genre.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2012 7:44 PM BST

Stargate Universe - Complete Season 1 [DVD]
Stargate Universe - Complete Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Carlyle
Price: 19.00

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different direction..., 14 Aug 2010
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Now, let me nail my colours firmly to the mast - I'm a massive fan of both SG-1 and Atlantis, AND I love this. I'm genuinely surprised at the negative reviews of this show, many of which seem to be bemoaning the fact that the franchise has turned away from its more light hearted (in relative terms) action-packed roots, but another series involving a set of new characters but using much the same basic plotline would have been all too much. SG-U is very much a darker proposition, and much more adult in tone.

When Atlantis arrived, where there was a negative review, it was often pointing out that Atlantis was more or less SG-1 in a set of different clothes, and it is, no question about it. Substitute Altlantis for the SGC, Sheppard for O'Neill (and most of the team have a very similar counterpart in both series), and the Wraith for the Goa'uld, and there you have it- there is very little to tell them apart. Viewing figures dropped off, and Atlantis came to an untimely end (and believe me, I'd have been as pleased as anybody if it had kept going). So, now it was time for something different.

I can't comment on the similarities to Battlestar Galactica as I've never seen it, but the new direction is very different. Most of the conflict is internal, and there is far less full on action, but the plots (and the whole story arc) kept me interested. I can understand why folks with a limited attention span might find it hard to watch without a pretty explosion to keep them interested every few minutes, but for those who enjoy a bit more characterization there's plenty here to enjoy. Not that the show is devoid of action - there's still plenty of drama in the mix if that's your thing, but the ratio has changed from being driven by plot to a more character-based focus.

I've enjoyed the fact that some of the characters I liked at the beginning I didn't like so much at the end, and vice-versa. I've read one review that was of the opinion that the selection process for a mission like this would weed out any 'undesirable' personality traits that lead to the internal conflict with the people involved in this type of scenario, but I disagree. There would always be personality clashes in a situation like this- call it going stir crazy if you like, but one way or another it would happen. Many of the clashes lead to consequences in future episodes, and I like this - there is real cause and effect in what our characters get up to.

Another nice addition is that as the series progresses, we are fed little insights into the motivations of our characters, and this helps us understand why they do the things they do, even if it it doesn't necessarily justify them. Sure, there are several borderline stereotypes in the mix (and one or two well into the territory!), but that in itself is nothing new in the Stargate franchise. At least the characters are being fleshed out a little for once.

I've also seen reviews complaining of deus ex machina type resolutions, but to my mind these are far less in evidence than in the earlier incarnations. Not all endings are entirely happy - more evidence of those 'consequences' I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago.

I can see how some folks haven't taken to this if they were expecting more of the same, but I've loved every minute of it (I've been watching these all week after getting home from work) and can't wait for the next season. The usual Stargate cliffhanger ended the series and I'm eager to see how it all works out. Unfortunately for me, I don't have any channel it's on, so won't see it until the DVD release around this time next year. I'm sure there's plenty of longevity in this series - whether it gets the viewers to justify a third season (the second season is due to air in late September 2010 in the US, I believe) is another matter - I certainly have my fingers crossed for it.

So, in short - I love it. Whether you do or not is largely down to what you expect. If you just want more of the same old Stargate, then you may well be disappointed. I went in with an open mind, expecting something different from what I know, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm no fanboy, prepared to defend it to the exclusion of all else, rather someone for whom the new direction has 'worked'. I think it may be very much a case of horses for courses and all that. Suck it and see, if you will - it may 'work' for you too...

A final point or two. The packaging of this set is excellent - all five discs in a case the size of a normal DVD box. Much better than some of the monsters that fill my shelves, and even better than the more compact packaging of later seasons of SG-1 and all of Atlantis. Lastly, if you're a bloke you will appreciate Julia Benson's magnificent 'talents'. I certainly did!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2010 11:05 AM BST

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