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Mr. R. J. Jakeman "Roly1981" (Hampshire, UK)
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Oblomov (Penguin Classics)
Oblomov (Penguin Classics)
by Ivan Aleksandrovich Goncharov
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.79

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gave up at page 100, 20 Aug 2011
As I said in the title of this review, I gave up after 100 pages, so this is naturally an incomplete review. Nevertheless I just thought I would temper the apparently unanimous enthusiasm for this book in all the other reviews. I thought I would love this book, because I am, at least in spells, of a distinctly 'Oblomovian' nature - but the novel (or the first 100 pages at least) just seems excrutiatingly drawn out. I am amazed at the comments suggesting this book is well-written, and with well-drawn characters, as I found the writing terribly dull and episodic and the characters weak and contradictory. As for psychological insight - well, it must all be in the remaining 400 pages because the first 100 contain maybe two or three paragraphs of any real interest. The rest is written in a gratingly smug style of ironic humour which was mildly amusing at first but becomes tiresome very quickly. I think there was a probably a good novella to be written about Oblomov, but not enough ideas to maintain a long novel. This book is what Bartleby the Scrivener would be if it was 500 pages long.


Pincher Martin
Pincher Martin
by William Golding
Edition: Paperback

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Impenetrable ***SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW***, 24 July 2011
This review is from: Pincher Martin (Paperback)
Well this just wasn't for me. I have never read any other William Golding novels and I freely admit that I write this review in complete ignorance of him both as a person and a writer.
This admission made, I have to say that to me this novel felt purely like an exercise in literary technique, which I am not interested in one little bit. I have read some challenging books in my time (Proust, Woolf, Kafka etc) and as much as one could analyse their literary techniques, I read them purely for the ideas within them and for the way they resonated with my experiences of life. This book said nothing to me about my life.
The first part of the book was tedious, something like 50 pages dedicated to an unnecessarily drawn-out description of Martin nearly drowning and finally washing up on the rock. After that, it threatened to get interesting for a while, as fragmentary, elusive flashbacks of Martin's life are intermittently revealed. But over the course of the final 80-100 pages, rather than taking on a more complete shape, these 'film-trailers' become increasingly opaque and, for me, impenetrable to the point of meaninglessness.
I really tried - at the start of every chapter I approached the book with fresh enthusiasm, determined to get a foothold, but invariably by the end of each chapter, I was once again a broken man, frozen out and excluded by the coldness of Golding's writing. I can see how one could argue for the appropriateness of this technique as it creates a parallel between the experiences of both Martin and the reader of his tale - but I repeat that this is only of interest if you are studying the technique of the novel, which I am not -when I get in a car I am interested in where it can take me, not how the engine works.
In summary then, a novel which made me feel nothing at all, other than frustration. It had (almost) nothing to do with life as I have experienced it, and as for the 'shock' ending..... Oh, it was all a metaphor. Wow. It may cast a different light on the previous 207 pages, but it doesn't make them any less boring.


Swords
Swords
Price: 10.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but needs a trim, 16 Jun 2011
This review is from: Swords (Audio CD)
Even for a hardcore Moz fan, which I suppose I am, trying to listen to 18 B-sides is a little bit of a slog - for the casual fan it's positively off-putting. So, whilst there is only one track on here that I absolutely don't like (the cover of Drive-in Saturday - I've never been a fan of Morrissey covering other artists) I think this album would be a lot more satisfying if it adhered to the 12-track structure of the last 3 studio albums. For me, the tracks to go along with Drive-in Saturday in this cull would be:
My Dearest Love (starts strongly but sounds unfinished and lyrics feel a bit recycled);
Munich Air Disaster (an OK song but slightly uncomfortable due to the juxtaposition of Morrissey's theatrical death wish with the very real tragedy of the Munich 'plane crash);
Because of my Poor Education (for the same reasons as 'My Dearest Love);
It's Hard to Walk Tall When You're Small (I remember liking this when I originally bought the single it appeared on - but at the time it was just such a joy to have Moz back from the wilderness that my judgement was skewed - this track hasn't aged well);
I Knew I Was Next (again, like My Dearest Love/Because of My Poor Education, an OK song but a bit half-hearted and not essential by any means)

So, that would leave a very strong 12 track album:
1. Good Looking Man About Town
2. Don't Make Fun of Daddy's Voice
3. If You Don't Like Me, Don't Look at Me
4. Ganglord
5. The Never Played Symphonies
6. Sweetie Pie
7. Christian Dior
8. Shame is the Name
9. Teenage Dad on His Estate
10. Children in Pieces
11. Friday Mourning
12. My Life is an Endless Succession of People Saying Goodbye

Seriously, that would be a great album! Then just change the photo on the front cover, in which Moz just looks queasy (the picture of Moz in a black jumper on the back of the lyric booklet is MUCH better) and this could actually have been special, rather then 'a meek disaster' (Moz's words not mine). What would REALLY make it special though is taking out 'Teenage Dad' and replacing it with the inexplicably missing 'Mexico' - I have no idea why that song is not included, it's up there with his best B-sides of all time!


The Social Network (2-Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2011]
The Social Network (2-Disc Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Jesse Eisenberg
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 3.90

7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I've tried to like it..., 17 May 2011
When this first came out I saw the trailer and didn't fancy it. Then, it gradually became clear that it was getting almost unanimous critical praise, so I decided to go and see it. I didn't like it. I didn't hate it, I just came out at the end feeling absolutely nothing, as if I had been watching a blank screen for two hours.
However, the overwhelming critical consensus that this was a brilliant film, the seemingly endless awards/nominations, and recommendations from friends convinced me that I must have been wrong. Maybe I had just not been in the right mood at the cinema... So i gamely rented the DVD and sat down determined to like it this time. And, probably for this reason, I did find the first hour more engaging than I had done on first viewing. After that, gradually, the blankness began to set in again and by the end the same indifference I had felt before had returned.
So, i give up - hats off to all those who like it, I hope you continue to do so, but I just don't get it. It seems to me a very dull film about a very dull subject, based on the glib ironic concept that the founder of the world's biggest social network can't connect with the girl he really wants to (an irony which is, incidentally, totally fictional). It doesn't really say much about Facebook itself, other than that it's a bit shallow and superficial (shock revelation!) and as for the also unanimously praised 'whip-smart' dialogue - well, that was lost on me too; I maybe chuckled 2-3 times in 2 hours. Finally (and before I start ranting - I'm determined not to be one of these reviewers who gets FURIOUS when something they don't like is popular!) I felt that the film had no narrative climax. It really just trundles along (and you know where it's trundling to, as it's all told in flashback) until it gets to 2 hours and then sheepishly says 'Er... that's it now. Here are some captions about what happened to the characters after this bit, so you know it's the end.... er....Bye now'.
Ok, I'll stop now, that last bit is getting near to ranting territory. And anyway, why do I always feel more compelled to write reviews of things I don't like than things I do....? And why have I spent about 6 hours of my life (2 viewings + a couple of hours of reading internet reviews etc) trying to force myself to like something I never wanted to see in the first place?? What's wrong with me??
Ooh, end on a positive note: some good acting, especially Eisenberg and Timberlake!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2011 1:56 PM BST


House - Season 6 [DVD]
House - Season 6 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Laurie
Price: 12.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the beginning of the end..... (Spoilers included!), 14 Feb 2011
This review is from: House - Season 6 [DVD] (DVD)
The excellent finale to Season 5 is followed up here with a quite brilliant 2-part season opener, after which I was raving to my friends about how incredible it is that House could still be this good despite being into its sixth season.
Sadly, after that it all goes a bit wrong. There is a major mid-seaon slump here, with a run of average-at-best episodes which are the definition of the word 'filler'. The episode '5 to 9', focussing exclusively on Cuddy, is possibly my least favourite episode to date - basically an episode of House with hardly any House in it.
In the end, it is left to Hugh Laurie (as always) to save the day, this time by making his directorial debut on 'Lockdown', which finally brings a run of pretty poor episodes to an end, and from then on the final few episodes are of a reasonably high standard. Unfortunately the writers were not able to muster an ending to match the incredible season 5 finale, and it ends worryingly with Cuddy and House getting together - how many shows have gone off the rails once a will-they-won't-they relationship comes to fruition? I find that for the first time, I am not that excited to see the next season, largely because I am not very interested to see the Cuddy/House relationship played out. Personally, I thought the will-they-won't-they ended with a perfect 'they definitely won't' at the end of Season 5 and am a bit disappointed that it has been resurrected. Now there are two options: either it will work out between them, which I think will be pretty dull, or it won't - which I think could be interesting if, for example, it results in Cuddy leaving and a new Dean of Medicine being appointed. I think if they split up and then carry on as before it will be too unfeasible. Sadly, I am not sure that the writers really have the courage to make such a major change. On a similar note, I think the writers have a decision to make regarding Foreman: either develop his character and give him some decent storylines (but please not getting back with Thirteen!) or get rid of him. I think Omar Epps is a really strong actor but his character just seems to be hanging around doing nothing.
One glimmer of light was an incipient storyline involving Thirteen which is intriguing, and I look forward to seeing where that goes more than I do to seeing House and Cuddy playing at happy families.
So, to sum up: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that House can get back to top form if the writers/producers are prepared to make some genuinely bold moves - I am just not sure that they will, and my gut tells me that this Season is the beginning of the end for House. I hope very much that I am wrong!


Sony Bravia KDL32BX300 32-inch Widescreen LCD TV with Freeview Bravia Engine 2
Sony Bravia KDL32BX300 32-inch Widescreen LCD TV with Freeview Bravia Engine 2

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's worth spending more for something better, 8 Jan 2011
I was very disappointed with this TV. I was a little reluctant to buy it in the first place as it had no customer reviews on Amazon and a Sony Bravia 32" for under 300 seemed to good to be true. I should have trusted my instincts - the picture quality is dreadful. As another reviewer here has noted, it leaves trails across the screen whenever there is fast movement, especially when the image is quite dark. The other reviewer said that this can be got used to - well i disagree. I have tried to put up with it, but watching an episode of House last night was the final straw - the red of the characters lips was just being splashed all over the screen every time they moved - just unwatchable, so i am returning this item to Amazon.
I have another Sony 32" at home which I got 2-3 years ago which is excellent - the KDL-32D3000. Unfortunately this model is not a patch on that one. This model is very poor and is obviously aimed at those on a budget who aren't too fussy about quality: In fact i saw them stacked up in Tesco the other day. I have always trusted Sony but this has shaken my faith in them a bit - especially as I also recently had to return a Sony Blu-ray player (Sony BDPS370 Blu-ray Player) due to it emitting a loud whirring noise during playback. Once all of my refunds have been processed i think I will try a different brand of TV/Blu-ray player. It's either that or spend more on a decent Sony product instead of their bargain basement, bottom-of-the-range tat like this.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 12, 2012 4:36 AM BST


Sony BDPS370 Blu-ray Player
Sony BDPS370 Blu-ray Player

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Noisy when playing discs, 6 Jan 2011
I was very excited to make my first foray into the world of Blu-Ray and thought I could trust Sony, having 2 of their Bravia TVs and 2 good Sony DVD players. However, as soon as I put a disc in to play, it made an irritatingly loud noise, ie/ I could hear the disc whirring around in the machine. I hoped that this would only occur whilst the disc was loading and not during playback, but sadly this was not the case. I tried a few discs so it wasn't a particular disc being problematic.
I tried to convince myself I was being pedantic and that I could live with it, but during every quiet moment of the film I could hear the machine chugging away, which spoilt my enjoyment. Shame, as picture and sound quality seemed very good.
I returned it to Amazon who, as always, were brilliant and have issued a full refund. The trouble is I don't know if I got a faulty one or if they are all like that - I find it hard to believe it could have got so many good reviews if this was a 'feature' of this model. I am tempted to give it another try, especially as it has gone down 25 in price since I bought it!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2011 11:55 AM GMT


Who Killed Amanda Palmer
Who Killed Amanda Palmer
Price: 11.58

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start buying this now, people!, 18 Sep 2008
I can't believe that I have to be the first person to review this brilliant album! I saw the Dresden Dolls live after their first album came out and the room was full of fanatic fans who knew every word and every intonation of every song, so when I heard how good this solo album is I assumed the 5-star reviews would come flooding in. I must confess that I hadn't really listened to the Dolls for a while so I wasn't expecting a great deal from this album but it blew me away from the opening blast of chords and the standard is consistently high throughout.
So, whether you are a lapsed Dresden Dolls fan like me or a newcomer, get this cd for great lyrics, raucous singalongs and heartbreaking ballads.


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