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James Hayes "JM Hayes" (Herts., UK)
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The Three Dimensions of Logie Baird
The Three Dimensions of Logie Baird
by Fellow and Former Director Douglas Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone with interest TV technology history, 16 May 2013
That John Logie Baird was a visionary is beyond dispute; that he might in some ways have been too visionary for his own good is a conclusion that's hard to avoid as this book reminds us of the astounding gamut of his endeavours. Even if Baird had lived long beyond his 57 years, it's unlikely that he would have seen the all the branches of his genius come into anything close to fruition.

Dr Douglas Brown's book does not set out to plot the full range of Baird's achievements, but even by page 67 (of 184) we have been apprised of several breakthrough developments, such as the Noctovisor (infrared TV), innovative telecine scanning, along with the 'intermediate film system' and primitive videodisc TV content storage systems.

Dr Brown says that Baird did more to advance the early development of television than any other individual - and his book is filled with evidence to prove it. Baird's dilemma was that he repeatedly pursued the long-term potential of his inventions long before he'd resolved their short-term developmental challenges. Multiple aspects of Baird's research programme between the 1920s and the 1940s have only entered the mainstream in comparatively recent years - such as big-screen projection TV and 3D image capture and display.

Other inventions, such as colour television, were only practically introduced in the US in the mid-1950s after the expenditure of millions of man-hours and millions of dollars; yet Baird had engineered at least some of the basics of low-definition colour capture and display before the end of World War Two, often working alone, and despite failing health, flying bombs, and rationed resources.

Although 'The Three Dimensions' covers Baird's work in black-and-white television in accessible, diagram-rich detail (the book includes a rare, fascinating photo of one of Baird's post-war 28in screen luxury receivers - the biggest anywhere at the time), it is his work in the areas of colour and three-dimensional TV that inform the main parts of this book.

Baird did not invent the possibility of broadcasting and displaying colour images, but his 'Telechrome' prototype was the first custom-designed colour television cathode ray tube, constructed with two (possibly three) cathode-ray 'guns', and a central transparent double-sided tri-band screen instead of the more conventional single fluorescent screen. This modification enabled component colours to be displayed when the different screens were scanned by an associated beam from the multiple guns, and superimposed on the middle screen section. Baird patented it in July 1942 - some three years before a patent for a colour TV system based on a similar three-coloured phosphor band CRT was registered in the US.

Amazingly, concomitant with this work Baird was much engaged with research into the feasibility of three-dimensional televisual image capture and display - a subject he may have been experimenting with since the late 1920s. His premature death in 1946 prevented Baird's 3D-TV proposals from developing under the aegis of his own genius but, as Dr Brown explains, proved essential in leading to the multi-dimensional viewing that's appeared in recent years. 'The Three Dimensions' is essential reading for anyone with interest in the development of television technology.


Outlaws, Complete Series 1 [DVD]
Outlaws, Complete Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Phil Daniels

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grab a piece of TV excellence while you can..., 3 April 2013
Reviewing 'Outlaws' nearly 10 years after its original broadcast one has to wonder why this brilliant comedy-drama series was not commissioned for a second (and third) series. It is pretty flawless - compelling storylines, superb scripts, excellent performances from all involved (a signature portrayal by Phil Daniels), wholly convincing characterisations (it's hard to believe that some of the Manchester chav cameos are played by actors and not the real thing), and direction that's both dazzlingly slick and sharp. Yes, the stylised handheld cinematography can irk a bit at times, but that was somewhat de rigueur at the period when 'Outlaws' was made, and in the light of the all-round excellence of the series, it is easy to forgive. As a previous reviewer says it's incredible that 'Outlaws' did not receive more recognition at the time, while other far lesser comedy-dramas were being lauded to the skies. The DVD issue of 'Outlaws' must have had a limited run because it has already acquired a rarity value. I paid over £20 for my copy, and consider it money very well spent. I earnestly counsel devotees of outstanding British television to obtain a copy of this DVD while you still can.


Russell Hobbs 15082-10 Illuminating Glass Kettle - Clear
Russell Hobbs 15082-10 Illuminating Glass Kettle - Clear
Offered by EveryDay-Shop
Price: £33.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good-looker, but surprising design irks..., 21 Mar. 2013
I've had my 15082-10 for some four months now. There's no doubting that this is a good-looking product even if the illuminated interior (while boiling) looks like it might cause the appliance to consume a tad more power than a conventional red on/off light. However, it does have some surprising design flaws for a kettle from such an established and seasoned manufacturer as Russell Hobbs. First up the pour aperture is too small, so I find myself having to tilt the kettle over quite a bit when filling a teapot, say - with the result that if not careful the rising steam scalds my hand. This can be avoided if I perform the exercise with additional care, but it shouldn't really be necessary for a core kitchen appliance that's typically being used three or four times a day... Also, the way the on/off switch is attached to the base of the kettle seems worryingly fragile. I haven't had any of the problems with the lid that previous reviewers have mentioned, but again its attachment does not seem very robust, and I can easily imagine it breaking off should it accidentally collide with a tap or wall cabinet.

Also, an aspect of a see-through kettle worth noting is that being able to see the scale flecks and other surface impurities tends to make me empty out the residue and rinse the interior after every couple of boils - which probably means I'm sinking more water than I did with my old steel kettles, where I couldn't see what is going on inside boil after boil.

A further point worth noting is that spare scale filters cannot currently be ordered from Russell Hobbs for this model (according to its website) - which means that once the one that came with it decays, the kettle becomes practically unusable unless you're comfortable with having no filter to catch scale fragments. These reservations aside the 15082-10 is a stylish offering - but not as well-designed as the previous kettle of mine that it replaced - the estimable and now sadly discontinued Tefal Elegance 92051 (reviewed separately - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tefal-Elegance-Kettle-Polished-Stainless/dp/B0000C6XYR/ref=cm_cr-mr-title).


High Sobriety: Confessions of a Drinker
High Sobriety: Confessions of a Drinker
by Alice King
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, well-written tale that goes a bit flat once the drinking stops, 18 Feb. 2013
Arguably the UK's binge-drinking culture had its roots the socio-economic vicissitudes of 1980s, a decade that became increasingly awash with booze that started to stream in from all directions as the years went by: suddenly our staid old high street offies were joined by the branded multiples like Majestic and Oddbins that offered discounts on bulk buys on a huge range of high ABV beverages; the supermarket chains soon followed suite, and also added cheap house-brand beers and spirits into the mix. Lots of new 'themed' pubs and bars with extended licensing hours started to open with their happy hours and 'designer' premium beers. And then of course in 1986 the 'Big Bang' heralded a culture of work-hard/play hard fuelled by regular intakes of alcoholic refreshment, and champagne-swigging Yuppies became emblematic of the new City culture. And that's just the paid-for stuff: there seemed to be endless bashes, launches, openings and myriad other freebies were gratis drink of all kinds flowed... Heavy drinking became a lifestyle option. From champagne socialists to lager louts, alcohol permeated British society in a quite unprecedented way.
Alice King had the good fortune/bad luck to come to adulthood at the beginning of the '80s. With a wine merchant father, and regular exposure to the fruits of the vine during her adolescence, it seemed providential that she should bag a job as a journalist on 'Decanter' magazine. As her career progressed (to become a celebrated wine writer and consultant), so did her thirst - especially for the bubbly stuff. 'High Sobriety' describes, sometimes with harrowing but dispassionate candour, how wresting control of her boozing proclivities caused King over time to loose marriage, children, home, faltering career, and self-respect.
This might make this autobiography sound like another downbeat tale of bottle battling, but King's narrative style can also be as frothy as a flute of Veuve Clicquot (the book's hardback cover imagery presents it as bubbly-sipping chick-lit, which is not really accurate); while in other sodden episodes - such as when describing her arrest from being drunk and in charge of a road vehicle - the writing is compellingly understated. I found myself turning page after page, learning of her dipsomaniacal downfall, wondering at which point she'd reach rock bottom. The problem is that as soon as King realises her predicament, stops drinking, dries out, and eventually gets involved with Alcoholics Anonymous, her story takes a rather insipid turn, and becomes all rather suffused in warm glow. Thereafter my interest in her post-pledge life drooped rather rapidly. It all comes to a rather flat, nicey-nicey conclusion as a sobered King rediscovers the existential joys of the simple life. Otherwise 'High Sobriety' is a recommended read.


Tefal Elegance 92051 Kettle, Polished Stainless Steel, 3 kw
Tefal Elegance 92051 Kettle, Polished Stainless Steel, 3 kw

5.0 out of 5 stars Kettle classic now sadly discontinued..., 21 Nov. 2012
I'm having to replace my esteemed Tefal Elegance 92051 kettle after over seven-and-a-half years of continuous service - simply because the built-in pour filter in the lid has disintegrated, and replacements (of course) are unavailable for this old model. None of the current polished metal kettle options from Tefal or its competitors come close to the Elegance 92051 in terms of ergonomic design (good sturdy handle and wide pour lip), fit-in-anywhere curvaceous appearance, and ease-of-use, so it's a difficult choice. Most sport push-button-lift lids which you just know are going to break within a couple of years; the Elegance 92051 has a good, gripable twist-and-lift lid which meant plenty of filling space, and no risk of extended attached lid colliding with tap stems, wall cupboards, etc.
Tefal made a mistake in discontinuing this product, or at least in not having sustained the basic design with newer iterations.
Can't find an Elegance 92051 on eBay or elsewhere. Had I had known that such an excellent product would be discontinued ((Should have guessed) I would've bought two or three more at Argos back in 2006, and stored them in the loft for future use. Adieu...


The Genius of Lionel Bart
The Genius of Lionel Bart
Price: £16.45

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Who will buy...?' - you should..., 19 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Sepia team behind this issue deserve a standing ovation for this brilliant 3-CD set. Anyone who already has the `live' cast album recording of `Fings' and `BLITZ!' should note that these selections presented here seem to come from a different cast album with full orchestration (the former featuring Sid James on some lead vocals). I'm pretty sure the same applies to the selections from `Lock Up Your Daughters and `Oliver!' The remastering, especially on the Pop songs, is superb, the selections full of gems - this is a real quality production.


Andy Warhol: The Art of Genius
Andy Warhol: The Art of Genius
by Tony Scherman
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snap, crackle, and Pop..., 9 Oct. 2012
This readable and informative biography of one of the - some would say *the* - progenitors of Pop Art focuses on Andy Warhol's life/career from 1961 to 1968. Warhol was evidently a rather inscrutable cove with a personality in many ways as blank as the canvases he covered with iconic images of soup cans. Yet Warhol was certainly a significant agent of change, but the extent to which he was interested in bringing about change is highly debatable: he comes across as somewhat intellectually neuter when not being doggedly self-indulgent; but his story fascinates nonetheless. The only carp I have about this book is that the eight pages of illustrations are a bit of a hotchpotch: not one of Warhol's artworks is featured, nor any stills from his 'experimental' underground movies. However, a whole page is devoted to a rather irrelevant photo of Tennessee Williams and Marie Mencken cavorting at a party that happened to be held at Warhol's studio The Factory, and another page given over to a dull still taken at Bob Dylan's Warholian 'screen test'; also included is that much-reproduced shot of The Velvet Underground posing with their second LP 'White Light/White Heat' - a recording that Warhol had nothing really to do with.


The Lost Hancock Scripts: 10 Scripts from the Classic Radio and TV Series
The Lost Hancock Scripts: 10 Scripts from the Classic Radio and TV Series
by Ray Galton
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant scriptwriting, but a few dodgy factoids..., 20 Aug. 2012
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Stone me, let's be honest, what 'Hancock's Half-Hour' (HHH) aficionados really want is an indexed online resource that provides the full scripts of all the 'lost' radio and TV episodes, for them to surf at their leisure. While that may one day become a reality, in the meantime they have this excellent selection five radio and five TV scripts from the earlier series of each (later shows being more likely to have been preserved on tape or film). Anyone who knows the radio and TV recordings will have no trouble imagining the voices of Hancock, Sid James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams, and Andrée Melly (along with 90-year-old Kerr now the last surviving HHH regulars) as they peruse these pages - marvellous!

Galton and Simpson have annotated their work to explain some of the topical and cultural references from the 1950s which may seem obscure to modern readers; and unfortunately, these annotations contain a couple of boo-boos. For instance, they state that Kenneth Williams only joined the radio HHH cast from Series Two - not true, he did feature in the first series, and indeed in the very first episode (as Lord Bayswater, with the immortal line "Who threw jelly over the Rembrandt?"). G&S also state that only the first TV series was performed and broadcast live, "after that they were recorded" - not quite right, as only a very limited number of episodes from Series' One to Three were telerecorded, and then mainly for internal evaluation - otherwise they were live, as were several episodes of Series Four. It was only with the arrival of an Ampex quadruplex video recording systems at the BBC in 1958 that meant that HHH could from Series Five onwards be recorded for time-shifted broadcast in the UK.

Then there's the authors' curious assertion in the TV episode 'The Italian Maid' that "Until the mid-1980s, gas meters were activated by inserting pennies and shillings" - even allowing for the fact the decimalisation did not mean that the shilling ceased to become legal tender by the 1980s, and was not officially demonetised in 1991, non-coin gas meters were of course commonplace long before the 1980s. An editor at publisher JR Books really should have spotted that one.

Anyway, mush, these are but minor quibbles amid some of the most brilliant comedy wordage committed to paper. Anyone with an interest in Britcom, or scriptwriting, should buy this book.


This Happened: Live at the Scala [CD+DVD]
This Happened: Live at the Scala [CD+DVD]
Price: £19.40

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars La Brücken returns..., 17 Aug. 2012
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This one-off Claudia fest that took place at the Kings Cross Scala in March 2011 is pretty much everything a CB admirer could wish for - it features the best examples from her career both as a solo artiste and as part of Propaganda, Act, Andrew Poppy duo, Onetwo (collaborator Paul Humphreys was musical director of this concert), played live and immaculately throughout. Solid support from all the musicians in the special band, plus rather striking backing singer/feature dancer Melissa D'Arcy.

Special guests popping up include Susanne Freytag and (a rather unenthusiastic looking) Ralf Dörper from Propaganda, Andy Bell, Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17, and minimalist composer/pianist Andrew Poppy. CB herself never flags through the performance, although she looks a tad unrelaxed to begin with. The voice is as lyrical, powerful and assured as ever.

One was, however, left wondering how commercially successful a venture the gig turned out to be on the night. The impression is that the attendant audience did not actually fill the Scala to the rafters, and such shots of the audience that are included tend to reveal a highly appreciative crowd of blokes of the more mature variety (such as me), getting with the beat: is such CB's fanbase these days?

CB has been having somewhat of a renaissance over the last two years, but has it come too late to turn on new and more contemporary audience to her iconic status among certain sections of the cognoscenti? The CB cognoscenti, meanwhile, should purchase this release at all costs (well, to the value of ten quid, say) and with all speed. You will not be disappointed.

A tiny quibble is in the picture formatting of the DVD. Although almost certainly originated on video - possibly even HD video - the producers seem to have followed the trend of applying a post-production filter so that the the look has a 'filmic' quality. This for me always dulls the sense of viewing a live event. It also to an extent creates a slight dissonance between the 'as live' soundtrack and 'as recorded' visuals. Yet this is the customary way of presenting concert coverage these days; I'd rather have the raw video experience, to be honest.

This aside, a brilliant record of a charismatic performer who clearly has many more strengths to go to.


A Damsel in Distress [DVD]
A Damsel in Distress [DVD]
Dvd ~ Fred Astaire
Price: £12.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A transfer in distress; otherwise a neglected classic, 6 July 2012
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This review is from: A Damsel in Distress [DVD] (DVD)
RKO's 1937 musical comedy 'A Damsel in Distress' is somewhat of an oddity in Fred Astaire's association with that studio, in that he is not paired with Ginger Rogers, and the romantic overtones usually associated with Astaire's dancing roles are subservient to the comedy element assayed by George Burns and Gracie Allen and other supporting players; in fact, Burns and Allen also fulfil the role of Astaire's dancing partners for most of the proceedings. Accordingly the Gershwin songs are somewhat impersonal in their tone - Stiff Upper Lip, Things Are Looking Up, A Foggy Day (in London Town), and Nice Work if You Can Get It, being the classic standards the Gershwin brothers supplied.
The female lead is played by Joan Fontaine, who was apparently not quite 20 years old at the time the picture was produced. Fontaine's style of acting at this stage of her career has a coolly reserved and cerebral style that lends a curiously modern quality to it; indeed, there are moments in the movie when Fontaine seems like a screen actress from the early 21st Century who's somehow fallen through a timeloop and ended up in a thirties knockabout screwball romp.
These and many other elements (including a great performance by Reginald Gardiner filling in for Eric Blore, and a curious prolonged cameo by band leader Ray Noble, all playing to a crackling script by PG Wodehouse, SK Lauren, and Ernest Pagano) make the movie very entertaining enjoyable, and it is a huge pity that the producers of this DVD issue - Odeon Entertainment - did not deem it worthwhile to master from a decent quality PAL transfer (the one I purchased looks suspiciously like an transfer from an NTSC (US standard) master, resulting a slight degradation in picture quality), let alone invest in some digital restoration - especially at a list price of £6.99. It is only as a result of this that I have deducted one star from my rating - it's no reflection of the innate quality of the content.
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