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The Third Policeman (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
The Third Policeman (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
by Flann O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At least I was not lying!, 17 Mar. 2012
For the past 20 odd years my standard response to anybody asking me to recommend a book to them has always included mention of the Third Policemen. Recently I thought about this and realised that it was now time to re-read, a decision also partly motivated by witnessing a brilliant performance by the Blue Raincoat Theatre Company of its version.

It still remains, in my opinion, a triumph of the comedic genre and, if anything, advancing age enhances your enjoyment: clever, funny as fekk (as Father Jack would say), weird, surreal, scary, innovative and thought provoking, all in equal measure. The author leads you into a world where the ridiculous seems normal and the mundane totally unexpected. But you don't go along kicking and screaming: instead it does not take long before you are chasing the author along that road.

I have read just about everything written by Brian/Myles/Flann, his Irish Times columns as well as the other books. The Third Policeman is my favourite of them all, although I concede that others may have superior literary merit (At Swim Two Birds is justifiably seen as a classic). Read this, then jump deeper into his world: try the Dalkey Archive for an imcomporable mix of theology, poetry, invention and, of course, comedic genius.

Everybody should at least start this book: those who get to the end will join its legions of devotees and be eternally grateful for the experience.

Panasonic SD254 Breadmaker
Panasonic SD254 Breadmaker

5.0 out of 5 stars Annual review, 14 Mar. 2012
We bought one of these just over a year ago and have used if to make over 350 loaves to feed our family of five. Since we got it we have bought only one supermarket loaf (we forgot to set timer correctly) which after one slice was ignored and eventually put in the bin.

This machine almost guarantees great bread. All of the family use it, including the kids, and our only failures have been due to our mistakes: leaving out the paddle, missing out some key ingredients or the recipe proportions being way out.

We have used many different flours and all of the different settings and have learned that it is flexible and robust enough to encourage you to experiment. Despite what the manufacturer says we have had no problems using rye and spelt. We also now just dump in any added nuts, cheese, dried fruit or oatmeal at the start rather than when the recipe says they should be added (which is not feasible if, like us, you normally want to bake overnight).

We have had some fun with whackier experiments. For example, try putting in a teaspoon of yeast, around 450g of white flour, 85g packet of whichever type of Dorset Cereals muesli you prefer, teaspoons of salt and sugar, one and half tablespooon of olive/rapeseed oil, and 340ml of water. Bake on wholemeal setting.

Despite our over and mis use the pan is still like new and the bread slips out easily with a gentle shake. The paddle has stuck inside the bread a couple of times but comes out easily enough when things cool down. Very easy to wash and clean between uses.

Any negatives? Well the baking times are a bit long. While setting it to work overnight gets round this to some extent there may be times when you really need a loaf more quickly than four or five hours. The three hour Rapid setting is okay although cutting down on the proving time does mean your bread may not rise as much as it will at normal settings.

Overall a great buy and I am struggling to think of any real advantages in paying for more sophisticated and/or expensive makers.

Beyond the Sun
Beyond the Sun
Offered by the_record_factory
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Same again, barman!, 3 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Beyond the Sun (Audio CD)
This is a must listen for any fan of Billy and/or the Associates. This is how he matured, darker, harder to appreciate with more sophisticated depths, flavours and tones - the Mackenzie equivalent of a cask conditioned 25 year old single malt rather than the younger, brasher blends of the Associates or even Wild and Lonely.

Many of the old collaborators are present and their influence on specific tracks discernible; Paul Haig and Alan Rankine for starters, both major contributors to Scottish music over the last 30 years, play homage to the man. But this is an album made by and for Billy's voice and vocal dexterity. Velvety, genderless, limitless in range and dreamworking. Its only flaw is that the album never got his final seal of approval: is this how he wanted these tracks to sound? Regardless, one listen and you will drink your fill again and again.

You may be gone, Billy, but never forgotten.

The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
by Sean B. Carroll
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a look, 24 Sept. 2009
It is with some trepidation that I took up this book. As a non-scientist with no training in biology whatsoever, it was recommended as an accessible introduction to the themes of evolution and DNA. I was not disappointed. It is extremely well written in a very easy going, non technical style, with copious illustrations and simple to understand graphics. Even the maths section was simply put and intuitively revealing.
The outcome is a book that really engages one in both the marvels of evolution and its implications across a range of debates, whether it is the validity of intelligent design or the dangers of environmental degradation. By no means superficial, the author educates and delivers some really strong and disturbing messages about the ideology of ideas and our role in perverting evolution

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