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Mike Cormack (Aberdeen UK)

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Oaktrak Winterhill Bordo 8
Oaktrak Winterhill Bordo 8
Offered by Foot Box
Price: £28.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Look really nice (fetched compliments the first day I wore them). Quality leather materials. Complete bargain too!


Wool Overs Men's Lambswool V Neck Christmas Jumper Red Medium
Wool Overs Men's Lambswool V Neck Christmas Jumper Red Medium
Offered by Wool Overs Ltd
Price: £26.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice sweater, 14 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Exactly as expected, nice feel and good material. Good price for lambswool too!


The New Industrial State (The James Madison Library in American Politics)
The New Industrial State (The James Madison Library in American Politics)
by John Kenneth Galbraith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly Analysis of Managed Capitalism, 21 April 2009
This 1967 book by the American Keynsian economist JK Galbraith is an extremely acute dissection of the post-World War II economic structure of Western countries. In it, he shows that the imperatives of finance (such are the scales of the large corporations) and technology (so complex are new products) make the private sector as liable to "planning" as the Soviet regimes, before the Berlin Wall came down. The difference is that where the Soviet system was top-down, the Western system manages demand through advertising, promotions, synergy and focus groups. (Think of when a blockbuster film is released - its toys are availble at McDonalds, its computer games reinfrce the message, media outlets exchange access for favourable notices - even for a film as bad as "Godzilla" - or new products are hyped to the "savvy" then filter down through the levels of fashionability).

Galbraith also introduces the notion of the "technostructure", the level of society which is in charge of the technical aspects of the products it creates and sells, saying that this stratum is now the most important level of society, rather than CEOs whom he says are more like shiny representatives than wielding supreme power. He also demonstrates the ways in which groups within organisation strive for their goals over other groups.

While this book is fascinating, extremely acute, pertinent and enjoyably well-written, it does have a certain pre-1973 flavour. Thus, some of its macro-economic assumptions (such as the management of demand, maintaining full employment etc) are somewhat out of date, after Reagan and Thatcher. However I would guess that following the economic crash of 2008, these assumptions will become fashionable once again.

Galbraith was one of the very few people to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice, such was his towering influence upon American letters and politics (he served in four administrations and wrote over four dozen books). This book is probably his best, and certainly one of his most important.


Wish You Were Here [DVD]
Wish You Were Here [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emily Lloyd
Price: £4.79

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wishing She Was Elsewhere, 22 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Wish You Were Here [DVD] (DVD)
The latter of two British films scripted by David Leland and based upon the life of Cynthia Payne, a former madam and prostitute (the other, released just five months earlier, being "Personal Services", featuring Julie Walters), this film looks at her early life and sexual experiences. It does so in the style of a 1960s "kitchen sink" drama, focusing on the everyday aspects of sex and sexuality, such as condoms and nosy uncles. But this film is made absolutely unforgettable by the performance of Emily Lloyd, playing "Linda" (the Cynthia Payne character), in which she displays remarkable fire, vigour, over-brimming life and downright bare-faced cheek (in more ways than one!).

In fact Lloyd's performance is so dazzling that it makes you feel that it is being contrasted against the grim grey boring 1950s the characters inhabit. It's a setting where decorum is more important than feelings which are to be repressed, and sex is often a matter of ignorance or salacious advantage-taking. In this setting Linda explodes, a dervish who kicks against all repression and breaks every rule simply because she wants to. Maybe her behaviour is childish and attention-seeking, but then so were the 1960s in many ways.

And this is just about my only criticism of the film - the 1950s are presented as a monochrome, uniform, dull and repressive era, when in fact they had jazz and early rock and roll and Abstract Expressionism in art, all of which were as exciting as British Invasion and Mary Quant and the Mini. Never mind, each generation paints an unflattering picture of that preceding it, and this repressive atmosphere of course heightens the constrast between the seemingly irrepresible Linda and the dull times she lived in.

I say "seemingly" of course because Linda does get damaged by the events and escapades she goes into, sometimes naively, sometimes more as a victim. The ending in particular is a feel-good fantasy of an ending, especially given the darker second half of the film showing the consequences of all her transgressions. But all the same, this is an extremely enjoyable film, with a stunning lead and solid support (I especially like the apparently unflappable psychologist whom she runs ring around), and with a fair evocation of a time when seaside postcards were the limit of a nation's bawdy instincts. A more innocent time perhaps, but as this films shows, not necessarily a better time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2010 5:48 PM GMT


Rita, Sue And Bob Too! [DVD]
Rita, Sue And Bob Too! [DVD]
Dvd ~ Siobhan Finneran
Price: £5.18

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jumps!, 19 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Rita, Sue And Bob Too! [DVD] (DVD)
This is an excellent comedy by the British director Alan Clarke (who also directed films like "Scum" and "Made In Britain"). If you have seen those films or know of Clarke, this will give a clue about the setting - it's typically working-class with no sentimentality or condescension. The film itself is essentially a sex comedy, with a man (Bob, surprisingly enough) in a stale marraige conducting an affair with their teenaged babysitters, and the (mis)adventures resulting.

But the film is also an extremely sharp analysis of class and social mores in the mid-1980s, with Bob an example of the successful working-class man in a middle-class environment, Rita and Sue in a school straight out of "Kes", and Sue's shoddy homelife is shown precisely, yet humourously and empathetically. Similarly, the interlude where Sue dates an Asian boy is deft and precise, but still funny (the scene where he invites her to "lie down" is classic, and a lesson for al shy boys out there...).

Although the precision of the setting does date the film, the warmth, satire and social commentary remain, making this a little gem of a film. It's also unusually humourous for an Alan Clarke film or play, which are usually searingly intense, but a little light relief is a good thing, as I'm sure Bob would agree!


Runaway Train [1985] [DVD]
Runaway Train [1985] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Voight

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trained!, 19 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Runaway Train [1985] [DVD] (DVD)
Based on an Akira Kurasawa story, this 1985 film is ostensibly an action flick, but it's much more rewarding than your average Stallone or Scharzenegger film of the same period. John Voight excels himself (he was nominated for an Oscar for this performance) as Manny, a prisoner so dangerous he is welded into his cell. When the warden is forced to release him into the prison, Manny duly escapes along with Buck (played by Eric Roberts, brother to Julia), a prison boxer who tags along for the ride. They escape into the Alaskan wilderness and make their way onto a train which unknown to them, is out of conrol.

The imagery of the frozen Alaskan wilderness is excellently captured, as is the sheer brute power and force of the runaway train itself, which is practically a character to itself in the film. The exisential subtext of the film is fairly obvious (Manny being a pure, isolated individual bulleting headlong towards his destiny) but it's not obtrusive - you can enjoy this film simply for the action. There are some brutal setpieces - none of the one-punch-fall-down fighting of other 80s action films - and the acting is superb, especially by Voight (who spent time with real criminals to get Manny's character down, and remained in touch with them for years afterwards), and John Ryan, who plays the warden with soft-padded malevolence. The ending too is unforgettable, a fitting end to one of the finest films of the 1980s.


Live In Tokyo
Live In Tokyo
Offered by thegoodmusicshop
Price: £5.60

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars PiL Do Average, 7 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Live In Tokyo (Audio CD)
Public Image were never a band for doing things by halves, with their early albums fantastically abrasive and challenging, their later albums more pop-driven and hooky. This live album might be the only time they were really mediocre. The early classics are there ("Religion", "Flowers Of Romance", "Death Disco") but while the recording is excellent, the absence of Jah Wobble is really evident in the thin, trebly sound. Given Lydon's voice, this is not a good thing, as it leads to a uniformity of sound, with bass drums which tap rather than pound. "Death Disco" in particular suffers from the thin sound - where the recorded version is tar-thick and druggily paranoid, the version here has a cod-funk bass and generates no atmosphere or effect other than Lydon's effective caterwauling.

There is an energy to the performance, as you'd expect from Lydon, but also from Martin Atkins on drums. However "Live In Tokyo" is merely professional, which is the last thing you really want from Pil. "Paris Au Printemps" is a far better live album, which far more effectively captures the abrasive charm of prime-era Public Image. But if you want them in mid-career performing competently, that's this album.


Essays (Everyman's Library classics)
Essays (Everyman's Library classics)
by George Orwell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.24

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of Orwell's Finest Writing, 7 Oct. 2008
In some ways Orwell was most suited to the art of essay writing; his most successful novels always had political motivations, and his deceptively plain, matter-of-fact style (like a window pane, as he said) helped him convey his ideas to the reader with ease.

Orwell was one who had greatness thrust upon him. His great works and essays are stimulated by the convulsions of the rise of fascism and World War II - obviously "Animal Farm" and "1984" but also some magnificent essays. These include "The Lion And The Unicorn", his glorious, stirring analysis of the national character and the prospects of socialism after the war; his analysis of party-line thinking, in which he works out the metaphysics of "double-think"; his dissection of James Burnham's book on the "managerial revolution" with interesting comments on the world splitting into three power blocs; and "Reflections On The Spanish Civil War".

Other essays are more personal - his scathing memoir of his school days, "Such Were The Joys"; the delightful "Some Thoughts On The Common Toad"; "Hop Picking", one of his earliest attempts to document working-class customs; and "Shooting An Elephant", a wry look at imperialism. He also looks at literary matters (he was the literary editor of "Tribune" for some years) with equal clarity and lack of verbosity, unusual in literary analysis, with "Politics and the English Laguage" and "Why I Write". ("Sheer egotism" as he frankly admits!).

This is an exceptional book, to be read and savoured by all. A real delight.


Miles in the Sky
Miles in the Sky
Offered by RECTRO_GEMS
Price: £7.59

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Second Great Quintet In Transition, 7 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Miles in the Sky (Audio CD)
Miles Davis' second great quintet, as they are usually known, featured such stellar musicians as Herbie Hancock on piano, Wayner Shorter on saxophone and Tony Williams on drums. By the time of this 1968 album, they had already made such classic albums as "Miles Smiles" and "Nefertiti". These had inaugurated the style known as "time-no changes". But Miles, ever the musical explorer, started to change tack with this album towards a more rock direction (which would ultimately lead to supreme classics like "In A Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew").

The first indication of this is the electric piano Hancock is playing - the first time an amplified instrument featured in a Miles Davis album. (Later of course he would favour the electric bass, and within 6 years would make the album "On The Corner" which is as far from traditional jazz instrumentation as it is possible to go). But here the "fusion" (as it would be known) is only sketchy - there's a lack of focus, there's not the integration of vision and method which make albums such as "Kind Of Blue" and "Miles Smiles" so breathtaking.

Not that the music is boring or uninteresting - not with musicians of this calibre! But it does seem like a highly gifted doodling, based on long grooves, rather than coherent articulations. This might well be suggested by the song titles, the first two of which are "Stuff" and "Paraphenlia".

This release also includes alternate takes of the latter two of the album's four songs, the differences in which are fairly marginal and add to a certain flabbiness. All the same, this is a very enjoyable album, with tremendous drumming by Williams (in "Stuff" especially), consistently excellent playing by Hancock and strong lines by Davis. There are better albums by Miles Davis out there, but this album is the pivot on which his traditional and fusion works join - his "Rubber Soul" perhaps.


The New Industrial State
The New Industrial State

5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly Analysis of Managed Capitalism, 6 Oct. 2008
This 1967 book by the American Keynsian economist JK Galbraith is an extremely acute dissection of the post-World War II economic structure of Western countries. In it, he shows that the imperatives of finance (such are the scales of the large corporations) and technology (so complex are new products) make the private sector as liable to "planning" as the Soviet regimes, before the Berlin Wall came down. The difference is that where the Soviet system was top-down, the Western system manages demand through advertising, promotions, synergy and focus groups. (Think of when a blockbuster film is released - its toys are availble at McDonalds, its computer games reinfrce the message, media outlets exchange access for favourable notices - even for a film as bad as "Godzilla" - or new products are hyped to the "savvy" then filter down through the levels of fashionability).

Galbraith also introduces the notion of the "technostructure", the level of society which is in charge of the technical aspects of the products it creates and sells, saying that this stratum is now the most important level of society, rather than CEOs whom he says are more like shiny representatives than wielding supreme power. He also demonstrates the ways in which groups within organisation strive for their goals over other groups.

While this book is fascinating, extremely acute, pertinent and enjoyably well-written, it does have a certain pre-1973 flavour. Thus, some of its macro-economic assumptions (such as the management of demand, maintaining full employment etc) are somewhat out of date, after Reagan and Thatcher. However I would guess that following the economic crash of 2008, these assumptions will become fashionable once again.

Galbraith was one of the very few people to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice, such was his towering influence upon American letters and politics (he served in four administrations and wrote over four dozen books). This book is probably his best, and certainly one of his most important.


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