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BS on parade

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Women in Clothes: Why We Wear What We Wear
Women in Clothes: Why We Wear What We Wear
Price: £8.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book with a lot of pretentious padding, 26 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you find the subject matter to be of curiosity then you should like it. It does what it says on the tin - it is women talking about their clothes. The portions are generous as there's a lot of content. It's not a small book. There were a lot of stimulating insights so it's well worth reading. Although perhaps not in one continuous go. I broke it up with other reading.

For me there were two complaints.

Firstly, I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be about "normal" women. It seemed to me that almost everyone interviewed was in the arts or journalism. How many times did I read words like "when I'm at a book reading"? Who cares what "artists" think? We hear more than enough from them and similar media people so I was far, far more curious about the thoughts and opinions of housewives, office workers and other working stiffs. The types of people who never get interviewed by magazines. Overrepresented media and arts people, those who are usually well documented, dominate once again.

The second downside was the amount of pointless sections. Pretentious or just plain meaningless chapters take up quite a bit of the book. Some of these were purely visual and others had text. I read it on the Kindle so I spent a lot of time hitting the page forward button to get past these bits. If I was to estimate I would say maybe every fifth section was aimless tripe.

I don't feel seeing the pictures in black and white on a Kindle screen did any harm.

For me personally I would have liked more from the surveys. Presumably anything worthwhile was included leaving only the banalities unused.

A reviewer elsewhere complained that the two sentence biographies of the women were hidden away at the back. There are so many of them that on the Kindle it's pretty much unreadable. If you care about who specifically is speaking beyond their name then you will need the physical copy. Note: I've never seen the physical copy with my own eyes.

It is a very good book. The pretentious sections are cordoned off into their own separate chapters so they don't infect the other parts. You get good bang for your buck as it's a big book. I'm giving it five stars but there are significant flawed so perhaps technically it's closer to four.

Benny & Jolene [DVD]
Benny & Jolene [DVD]
Dvd ~ Charlotte Ritchie
Price: £11.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Awkward, 12 Nov 2014
This review is from: Benny & Jolene [DVD] (DVD)
Awkward. Very awkward. Awkward directing, awkward script, awkward acting, awkward improvising, awkward editing. Just very, very awkward. It doesn't work and has scenes full of noise slowly going nowhere. Have I mentioned that I found the movie to be a bit awkward? The idea of dramatising a folk band's rise and fall is interesting but the execution is...awkward. Overlong bad improvisations that go nowhere and aren't funny are hard to watch. The bumpy handheld camerawork full of jump cuts is just indie filmmaking by numbers. I watched half an hour and then gave up.

Vax Air Base U88-AM-Be Upright Vacuum
Vax Air Base U88-AM-Be Upright Vacuum
Offered by BestBuyUk
Price: £169.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good. It pulls plenty of dirt out of carpets, 1 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 4:52 Mins

Three items of note

1. It is a bit physically heavy to move around a house, and the suction's too strong, if you're at all "frail". You need a bit of muscle to use it.

2. The cord stays in place when not in use because they used a generous bit of plastic to keep it out the way. Usually they skimp on simple things like this. The cord isn't going to unravel on you.

3. If you leave the machine on while it's upright it doesn't suck. Which is good as it's not pulling at your carpet while you're mucking about with the lead on the other side of the room.

Airfix Quick Build Bae Harrier Aircraft Model Kit
Airfix Quick Build Bae Harrier Aircraft Model Kit
Price: £9.74

3.0 out of 5 stars It's a model, not a toy (unless you use glue), 31 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It was given to a seven year old with little background in building things with LEGO (too many smaller children around). It took about twenty minutes, with adult help, to build. No glue was used. Once built it was too fragile to play with as a toy. When someone tried to pick it up it fell apart.

It's decent for what it is. Nothing great, nothing terrible. It's not as intricate as LEGO so it can be taken apart and rebuilt more easily.

Finding Vivian Maier [DVD]
Finding Vivian Maier [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Maloof
Price: £12.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Solid but not definitive, 24 Oct 2014
This review is from: Finding Vivian Maier [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Vivian Maier is probably already now one of the most famous photographers in history. The mere fact I knew her name and had encountered a substantial amount of her work puts her before almost everyone else. For her pictures to reach me, a non-art gallery attending cretin, is remarkable.

I guess her fame is owed more to the odd, even mysterious, background story of the woman and how she was discovered rather than the quality of the work itself. Don't get me wrong. The pictures are good. They're well worth a look and can sustain my interest for longer than a glance. Even I can tell she was a better than average photographer with an eye for interesting subject matter.

I think I first heard about her less than a year ago from a front page Financial Times art section profile. Since then I've read a few more mentions of her here and there and I've seen the 70 minute 2013 BBC Alan Yentob documentary. So she's filtered into my world in a way few other artists or photographers have. If she can have this much impact on me then I think it's possible her reputation and fame will probably grow until she becomes a very big name.

This documentary is solid but it feels rather constrained. The makers don't have the connections and the journalistic ambition (and the budget?) of Yentob. It feels rather slight and leaves half the story untold. Yentob got more background information and covered her death in more detail. This feels too narrow to the directors sphere without the extra information researches etc can gather.

Sometimes the music was comically over the top, as though a massive insight had been reached and the music would go crazy.

It's a solid but far from remarkable documentary. I'm inclined to say, perhaps simply because I saw it first, that the BBC version was better. It was also surprisingly short at only 80 minutes.

As far as I can tell Yentob had a mostly different set of photographs to show. I'm inclined from memory to state that he showed a larger volume of pictures, and that they covered a longer span of time.

There are no extra interviews on the DVD or a slideshow of her pictures. The only extra is twelve minutes of banal silent colour film.

Price: £6.64

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinatingly odd story but it has no ending, 24 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Consumed (Kindle Edition)
Very good book from someone with a uniquely twisted mind. It's much more connected to his earlier 80s body horror sci-fi than his more "real world" later work. If you like his early films then there's no reason why you won't like this. It is good and very imaginative. I do recommend it. It has all the hallmarks of his movies including silly character names. Probably the films it most resembles are Dead Ringers mixed in with Videodrome.

I found the opening pages to be clunky but it very quickly settled down and it's well written. I believe he could have been an excellent novelist instead of a film director. His prose is solid, but more importantly his imagination is very potent and goes into strange places no one else thinks to go.

There are a few problems in the second half. A very long telling of what supposedly happened in the past is way too long and becomes rather ponderous.

More seriously though: there is no ending. It's completely missing. Its abruptness is clearly meant to be mysterious and leave you with lots of questions and thoughts. The problem is: it's not like he just chopped off the last chapter. It's like he chopped off the last third. His imagination is too peculiar and singular for probably any reader to continue this story for themselves in their own minds. I certainly can't keep going beyond what he has written. It's a lazy ending which feels more like he couldn't be bothered or had hit a deadline. Or maybe his story had gotten too complicated that he couldn't work out a way to connect things together in a satisfying way.*

It's not a disaster of an ending. It's just annoying.

Why a book and not a film? Probably because he couldn't get funding for something this perverse and oddball. It's also heavy on telling instead of showing, although that could easily be changed in a screenplay.

Is the book worth it for those who don't know who Cronenberg is? Yes. It's a good story.

* This happens too often in surreal or really weird stories. The journey is great but then the creator(s) have to tie it together and make it mean something. As it never did mean anything they struggle to come up with a satisfying ending. Disappointing climaxes are often the result. The solution seems obvious in my mind. Just keep going until you get something that feels like a proper ending. It doesn't have to be great. It just needs to connect to what went before so no one feels cheated. It might not be a great climax, but at least it's quantifiably an ending to the story that was being told at the start.

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

2 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gave up quickly as it was feeble, 18 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Girl on the Train (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I read a film review of Before I Go To Sleep. It trashed the movie but the story sounded good. The review suggested the novel by SJ Watson was indeed good, and that it was just a really bad film adaptation. So I looked up the book. To my surprise it was very cheap so I bought it and downloaded it to the Kindle. It has now sat unread for about a week as a low priority.

In comes this book. It's not in a genre I'm keen on. I just don't read these sort of airport fiction trash crime thrillers. It's not a highbrow versus lowbrow thing - no one has ever mistaken me for an intellectual. They just don't engage me or do anything for me. So why did I pick up this one? The story sounded a bit more promising than usual, but more importantly my newly discovered author was prominently quoted on the cover. The publicity is making a big thing out this particular endorsement. I thought I'd take a chance on it. Something about the train setting interested me (it might be because I have very slight echoes of the film Source Code playing in my head). Also it seems to have been predetermined to be a bestseller in advance - so I thought surely they would back a better than average example of its genre to benefit from the marketing.

As almost always I shouldn't have bothered. This is some thin gruel and not even remotely entertaining. I thought trash was supposed to at least be lurid and colourful and dumbly enjoyable. This is grey and flat. The urge to skip pages was very, very strong. That is not a good sign. There just wasn't any weight to it. I don't think the author believed in much of what she was writing. It had thinly realised characters going through a deeply uninvolving story. This was no fun at all.

I skipped a lot and couldn't force myself to keep going. I closed it with pleasure after only about forty or so minutes. I couldn't read it. In my opinion it didn't work.

NOTE 24/9/14: I tried to read Before I Go To Sleep. I gave up after an hour due to incredibly stupid character behaviour. Why didn't she cover her house and possessions with useful written notes? Not exactly rocket science. Her failure to do so means the character is an idiot, and the writer has contempt for the intelligence of the reader. Hitchcock got away with the suspected killer in Rear Window rarely closing his blinds, but this was too much. Very, very bad writing.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2014 11:15 PM BST

The Boy in the Book
The Boy in the Book
by Nathan Penlington
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Creepy stalker pursues a boring man, 16 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Boy in the Book (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The description made it sound like it could be either very good or very bad. I took a chance on it. It was pretty bad. The problem is that it comes across like a second-rate Dave Gorman "quirky quest" thing. It's even got an accompanying live show. Could this possibly be anymore influenced by Gorman? Personally I think Gorman is vastly overrated, but this makes him look like a genius. Penlington is a weak, clunky writer and the vibe he gives off is unappealing. His OCD style thinking makes him sound like a creepy stalker chasing a very boring quarry. I just don't share his excitement about the diary fragment he finds, or with the person who wrote it. Who cares? I for one didn't.

The "quest" is un-engaging and his writing makes it all the more uninteresting. Do we really need to read the details of his investigation? His dead-ends are not my problem. Just get to the point and cover those if you must in a sentence or two. Who cares about the Australian film props guy, or the visit to the diary institute? I have to confess I skipped a LOT of pages. I just didn't care in the slightest about his unsent love letter or his visit to a handwriting specialist. It was all bloat. There isn't a full length book here in my opinion. It would have made much more sense at half the length.

The author's behaviour of calling and emailing the subject made me feel wary. Then I just closed the book and gave up on it after he watched a Mike Reid DVD. Watching a bad comedian and then telling us about it, because the dull man he's chasing likes him, was not my idea of a good reading experience. He wasn't even funny about not liking Mike Reid.

What a pile of crap.

The book was not for me.

V-MODA XS Metal Noise Isolating On Ear Headphones - Matte Black
V-MODA XS Metal Noise Isolating On Ear Headphones - Matte Black
Price: £170.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In my opinion the headphones lack bass, 14 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 2:55 Mins

I'm far from an audiophile so I strongly recommend double checking this with other sources, but the bass was minimal on these headphones. I couldn't hear that much under ideal listening conditions and barely any at all on a bus. I'm not a bass monster but I felt like the music needed more of a kick than these headphones were giving it. Perhaps this flat, transparent, uncoloured, balanced sound is what you want, but I wanted more bass. Otherwise I have no other issues with the sound quality. As far as I can tell, and I repeat I'm not an audiophile, they sound good with clarity etc.

The headphones look good. I wouldn't go as far as saying they are stylish but they don't make you look like an idiot when out in public. Even the bright orange Kevlar cable doesn't look silly. They are small on your head and they can foldaway into a very small size.

I've been told that they don't leak more than a tiny, tiny amount of noise in quiet environments, so it's very, very doubtful that anyone will be able to hear your music on a street or on a bus.

BOOMco Rapid Madness Blaster
BOOMco Rapid Madness Blaster
Offered by Fun Collectables
Price: £19.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Nerf and doesn't need batteries, 27 Aug 2014
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: BOOMco Rapid Madness Blaster (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 2:28 Mins

Kids will spend far more time picking up bullets, loading them into the cartridge and pumping the handle than you will actually having fun firing it. It's more work than play.

The bullets can travel a fair distance, such as almost the length of a room or two connected by a short hallway. They only begin to hurt to an uncomfortable level when fired very close to the target.


ADDITIONAL 30/8/14: My nephew tells me that it's better than his six or so Nerf guns. It has a better rate of fire and he prefers the side loading cartridge to the vertical ammo clip that the Nerfs use.

He said it feels as solid as a Nerf, none of which he has broken.

At close range it's better than Nerf. He's not sure it's as good at long distance though.

The biggest difference appears to be that the automatic Nerf guns need up to four expensive D batteries to work (and you need a screwdriver to get them in and out). This automatic toy doesn't need any batteries. Someone said that for this reason alone she would buy this gun over a Nerf.

He gave it five out of five and was very impressed with it.

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