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Mally Malone (Dublin)

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Airbus A320 US Airways N.C. 1:200
Airbus A320 US Airways N.C. 1:200

5.0 out of 5 stars Came in time, easy to assemble, looks pretty, 26 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was a purchase without any regrets! Now I can go on a moment's mental holiday every time I look at it on my desk!

Meet Jim Dale / This Is Me
Meet Jim Dale / This Is Me
Offered by HitsvilleUK & more
Price: 5.75

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ooh Matron...What a Cracker!, 19 Aug 2010
So, how did you get here? What leads someone to look up a review of a little-known double-album by someone who is best known for pulling faces and falling over in Carry On films?

For me, a certified Carry On nut, it was listening to the DVD commentary for one or other of the Carry On films. It featured Jim Dale (a man, it seems, who rarely turned down a pay-cheque) and he mentioned (rather self-mockingly) a hit song he had composed, with the intriguing title Dick-a-Dum-Dum.

Sometimes you just know you'll like something from the title. A few minutes later, I was listening to a short sample of "Dick-a-dum-dum" on Amazon. There was something insanely catchy about it. Before long, I was reaching for my credit card. Many months later, I'm very glad I did. "Meet Jim Dale" was one of my best musical purchases ever.

One of the things I like most about this album is its very English preoccupation with the whole range, odd and ordinary, of human behaviour. Dale's lyrics (and his choice of songs to cover) show a fascination with people and their quirks. The subjects take in the young and the old, the potty and the poetic, male and female, working-class bridegrooms and faded movie queens. Many of them are character studies or vignettes. If I had to compare Jim Dale's songwriting to anyone, it would be the Paul McCartney of When I'm Sixty-Four, Just Another Day and Uncle Albert.

So, here are the stand-outs:

Dick-a-Dum-Dum: (which became a hit when Des O'Connor covered it), is a song you'll either love or hate. Even the title is calculated to set some peoples' teeth on edge. As for me, it's become one of my favourite songs. I love the key-changes, the swooping violins, the clever wordplay of the lyrics ("Got to go to, to Picadilly, gotta pick a dilly of a day to do it on..") The song is about a carefree, rather improvident young man who hopes to pick up a girl on the King's Road. Somehow, we get the impression he won't be taken her back to a pad with a mirrored ceiling and a tigerskin rug. in other words, this is a gentle, nostalgic, upbeat little ditty. And one I never tire of listening to. For me, the album would have been worth buying for this gem alone.

Let's Do It Again: More swooping violins. This is probably the most conventionally romantic song on the album-- that is, a love song without any angle or particular story behind it. And it's pure chocolate-box, but who's complaining? Not me. "We glide on a magic carpet ride, all around us stars collide, and there's poetry inside my head"....the tune is smooth and restrained, while the lyrics are unashamedly saccharine.

Wake Me Up and Go To Sleep Again: A not very strident song of disillusioned romance, this has a catchy chorus and-- oh, more swoooping violins. "Your love was a big enough lie, you don't give a damn if I live or die"...but somehow I get the impression that the man in the song won't be heartbroken for too long.

Plenty More Days to Come: A "magic moments" type song, affectionately recalling picnics and circus outings and looking forward to "plenty more days to come". "I remember picnic places, pretty girls with bucket shoes, hide and seek and stealing kisses, what a day to lose"....if you think that's horribly corny, you probably won't like this album.

The Other Side of Me: This is a double album, and many of the songs on the second album "This is Me" are cover version, but this is the only unoriginal song that stood out to me. It's by Neil Sedaka, and it's a tender little piece of introspection.

Aside from the stand-outs, there are other songs I listen to every now and again: "Mouses", "Oh, Mother Please", "Linda Grey", "Georgy Girl" (which contains the atrocious lines, "Never met a girl like this for me, dumb but pretty like a schoolgirl should be"), Twinky, Everything I Want to Do, Lah-di-Dah, and I Will Take You There. That leaves a smattering of songs I nearly always skip: "Old time Movie Queen" (too sad for me), I Think I'll Live Forever, Of My Life, My Punctured Romance (a tale of a love affair on bicycles or with a bicycle-- I'm not quite sure which), the Dubious Circus Company (which is a little too much like a sing-along for infant's class), Wherewithal, Something So Right, and Peacemaker.

Not a bad return, I think you'll agree-- the ratio of songs I play to songs I skip is much higher on most album. And-- what the heck-- it has Dick-a-Dum-Dum. I recommend it to anyone-- except people who are hung up on being cool, and they can go jump in a lake anyway.

Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes: Over 2000 One-Liners, Straight Lines, Stories, Gags, Roasts, Ribs, and Put-Downs
Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes: Over 2000 One-Liners, Straight Lines, Stories, Gags, Roasts, Ribs, and Put-Downs
by H.Aaron Cohl
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Disgusting Stuff, 5 Aug 2010
OK, so I read before buying that there were a lot of blue jokes in this collection. That didn't bother me-- I'm not a prude and I'm quite fond of racy humour. But I have to say, I was disgusted and bored by many of the filthy jokes in this book. It goes way beyond innuendo and suggestion. Every few pages, at the least, our attention is drawn to male anatomy or deviant sex practices or bodily functions. If you like that kind of thing, go ahead and buy. If you'd rather something you can read while eating, get another joke book.

It doesn't have many jokes for an "encyclopedia" either.

The Rage Against God: Why Faith is the Foundation of Civilisation
The Rage Against God: Why Faith is the Foundation of Civilisation
by Peter Hitchens
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.54

84 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Contribution to the God Debate, 23 Mar 2010
"The Rage Against God" isn't a conventional work of apologetics. There are already plenty of those out there. This book is less about theory than about practice. Why do people really reject or accept God? Why is their rejection of God often so very virulent? What part has religion played in recent English history? How important was atheism to the history of communism, and to the cultural revolution that swept through the Western world in the last few decades?

The first part of the book-- essentially a memoir of Peter Hitchens's changing attitudes to religion-- is the most readable. Hitchens is at his best when he's evoking the England of his childhood. (At one point he apologises for indulging this tendency. He shouldn't.) I relished his description of Evensong ("the very heart of English Christianity"), of his boyhood feelings of utter security while lying in bed and listening to the sirens of ocean liners in Portsmouth harbour, of the austere and stoical Remembrance Sunday ceremony ("No outsider could possibly have penetrated its English mystery, or imagined that we were in fact enjoying ourselves, But we were.".)

But the very particularity of this book, though it makes it a powerful memoir, somewhat limits its importance as a tract. Hitchens is writing primarily about English Christianity, and its long decline (which, he shows, long predated his own childhood). As an anglophile and an admirer of Hitchens's writing, I found it enthralling. As an Irish Catholic, I found it of limited relevance. Hitchens devotes a long section to criticising (affectionately and reverentially) the surrogate religion of English patriotism. He's also scathing about the modernising tendencies within the Church of England. One is led to wonder why he feels compelled to remain within a church that has disillusioned him so much, whether he is in fact letting his patriotism decide his denomination.

The book becomes less compelling, but of wider relevance, when he goes on to examine the role of atheism in the USSR and in the psychology of social liberalism (and Hitchens is surely justified in tracing a continuity between them). He gives the lie to the canard that atheism was somehow incidental to the Soviet regime, showing that it was absolutely central to the communist project. (How anybody can doubt this is mystifying.) As he points out, the USSR changed its policy on many subjects over the decades-- swinging from sexual liberalism to puritanism and back, tolerating private enterprise in the NEP era, and cultivating nationalism during the Great Patriotic War-- but its persecution of religion remained constant and unwavering. He shows, too, how successful this secularisation proved-- the predicted resurgence of Russian Orthodoxy when communism fell was a cosmetic phenomenon. A generation had been denied religious education, and the spiritual void has never been filled. Rather chillingly, he goes on to describe how Richard Dawkins and his sympathisers aim to inflict the very same materialist indoctrination on today's children.

I believe he is absolutely right, too, in his claim that atheism is at the very heart of the social liberal/cultural revolutionary project. (This was brought home to me with particular force when Channel 4 allowed the president of Iran to deliver its "alternative Christmas" message in 2008. Why would Channel 4 give a platform to the president of a country which discriminated against women and persecuted homosexuals? Didn't they care passionately about human rights? Apparently not; insulting Christianity always trumps other considerations. It appears to be the very essence of the social liberal project.)

The book is perhaps too short-- perhaps Hithens might have included some essays on a related theme to fatten it out. But altogether, it is a worthy, courageous and timely contribution to the most important subject there is. Hats off to Peter Hitchens!
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Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton
Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton
by Dale Ahlquist
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.03

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unabashed lionization. Seems fair enough to me., 27 Sep 2009
If you haven't read much Chesterton before you dip into this book, you might be surprised at just how adulatory Dale Ahlquist's tone is. For instance, in discussing the low standards of modern journalism, he says: "Now the obvious solution to the problem is to cance your subscription. and while that solves the immediate problem, what do you do about the larger problem of journalism in general, or of the modern world in general? And what are you going to read in the morning? The answer to all these questions is the same. It is the same solution to almost every modern problem: read G.K. Chesterton."

Similarly, in the introduction, Ahlquist finishes with this passionate injunction: "We must choose our side. Then we must join the fight. We can arm ourselves with that valuable weapon of his that he has left for us. His words are still there, the words created by his pen, that helps us battle the ancient enemy in all its new forms, and to defend the ancient truth that does not change."

So this isn't exactly GK Chesterton: A Critical Appraisal. And why should it be? Anyone who reads GK Chesterton for any amount of time doesn't have much room left to be critical. He or she is too busy laughing, nodding in approval, or simply feeling astonished.

From those little passages I quoted, this might seem like a solemn book. It's not. Dale Ahlquist has a very light touch, and it's not only the quotations from Chesterton that made me laugh out out. (Speaking of quotations, Ahlquist uses Chesterton's own words as often as possible, and is completely unabased about doing so. His humility in doing so is admirable.)

Some might be perceive the book's tone as sanctimonious or self-righteous. Ahlquist has no qualms in proclaiming the exclusive truth of the Catholic doctrine, the sinfulness of gay marriage, and many other positions that might seem offensive to modern readers. His tone is often strident. If that bothers you, you might be irked by some passages in this book. I wasn't.

The book is divided into themed chapters, with Chesterton's views on subjects such as history, journalism and humility. Overall, it's as good an introduction to Chesterton as you could find, and bang "up-to-date" (insofar as a heartily "reactionary" book can be up-to-date, but then aren't reacationaries the most up-to-date people of all? They're already over the latest fads).

If you like Chesterton, buy this book.

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