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Kuma "kuma" (Reading, Berkshire United Kingdom)

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Canon PIXMA MP 210 Photo Printer
Canon PIXMA MP 210 Photo Printer

1.0 out of 5 stars Expensive piece of junk, 14 April 2012
Yes it has a cheap price but it gets through printer cartridges fast. At nearly £50 for a pair of cartridges its clear Canon are raking in the dough from this loss leader. Print quality is poor, scan quality is poor and it is quite bulky though the sales blurb implies otherwise. Very disappointed with this as I was with their photo printer which broke after printing about 20 photos. Last Canon printer I buy!


Inside Pee-Wee's Playhouse
Inside Pee-Wee's Playhouse
by Caseen Gaines
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun well produced book, 24 Feb. 2012
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A nice well written book on the Pee-Wee Herman phenomena from long time fan Caseen Gaines. It doesn't go into a huge amount of depth, but this is more than compensated by hundreds of great photographs. The episode guide in the last 70 pages is not particularly special, apart from having lots more great photos.


Cocaine Nights
Cocaine Nights
by J. G. Ballard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 14 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Cocaine Nights (Paperback)
My first JG Ballard book and having read gushing praise for him over the years had high expectations, something which Cocaine Nights totally fails to deliver on. Written in a bland style, its plot suffers from being totally predictable and uninteresting. It picks up a little in the second half of the book but only a little, arriving at a yawn-inducing explanatory ending which would work nicely if this was an episode of Scooby-Doo.


Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life
Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life
by Alastair Brotchie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.32

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Merdre!, 14 Feb. 2012
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Alistair Brotchie delivers an excellent biography of Jarry whose mythical exploits often overshadow his work - some we find to be true, such as him living in an apartment which has been divided horizontally into two floors which he is able to live in thanks to his small stature, whereas his death due to a binge on absinthe is somewhat far from the truth (though Brotchie's examination of wine merchant invoices found Jarry and his sister were consuming 10 litres of wine a day at the time of his death, alcohol being a contributing factor even if it was tuberculosis that was the cause of death).

The biography unties the myth from the man, and to some extent from his works, though his most famous character Pere Ubu became curiously entangled with the man, part due to people who didn't know him expecting to be insulted and offended by him on making his acquaintance and part from him adopting the speech and mannerisms of Ubu to hide his rural accent. His success at a young age (more in terms of infamy than phynance) was followed by a uphill struggle to be published hindered greatly by his ability to offend any influential publisher of avant garde literature, whereas there was little uphill struggling for his prodigious feats of cycling, fuelled by huge quantities of alcohol and the fish he caught himself.

In latter years Jarry slips further into debt and alcohol which slowly destroy the man even as he becomes more renowned and respected among the new generation of French poets and authors (and quite famously Picasso who after the author's death treasured the revolver Jarry was famed to pull out and start shooting at any volatile moment). All this seems more tragic due to his desire for a simple life, to live by the river in a run-down shack and live off the fish he catches whilst cycling long distances and continuing with his writing. Brotchie resists the urge to sentimentalise instead choosing to paint the starkness of Jarry's life, something often deeply contrasted against his unwavering optimism that almost holds up until the end.

Its an excellent work which succeeds in being both scholarly but also very readable and entertaining. One interesting facet of the book is that Brotchie divides each chapter with a mini chapter musing on some facet of Jarry's life. Particularly interesting concerns the evolution of Ubu Roi, a play originally part of an oral tradition in Jarry's school mocking the pompous and bumbling physics teacher Pere Hèbert that was continually worked upon by generations of students to pile on the indignities the hapless Hèb suffers.


Massacre At Central High [1980] [DVD]
Massacre At Central High [1980] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Derrel Maury
Offered by MS-TV Bournemouth
Price: £2.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A low budget shocker but the real shocker is the quality of this DVD, 11 Feb. 2012
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A great film, low budget and a little amateurish at times (watch for that sound boom that keeps dipping into the shot) but it holds up well even if the latter part is over the top. If cult movies are your bag you will enjoy this.

This is really let down by the immensely bad quality of this DVD, transfered from a dodgy well-worn video tape (you even get a couple of sequences where the tracking goes out of line!) with shoddy packaging - the inlay is too big for the case and is all creased, plus there are some laughably bad spelling mistakes (athlectics, methords etc)! Ignore the picture on the cover too, there are no mad axeman scenes in this film!


Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by Synergy Data
Price: £50.31

5.0 out of 5 stars The Secret Word Really Is "Fun"!, 5 Feb. 2012
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Paul Reubens Pee-Wee Herman character goes back to the late 1970s when he was part of The Groundlings comedy troupe (which included John Paragon and Phil Hartman), with possibly the first public appearance being in the 1980 movie "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie" (a role with more than a touch of "Mr Bungle" about it!), followed that year by his popular stage show "The Pee Wee Herman Show" which proved so successful he was eventually given his own movie, "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and followed by his own Saturday morning TV series "Pee Wee's Playhouse" that toned down the more adult side of "The Pee Wee Herman Show" and introduced a whole bunch of mostly puppet characters to the mix. A hugely successful enterprise, it drew on vintage American kids' TV such as Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody but giving it a modern twist, with design coming from a mix of avant garde comic book artists and animators. Pee-Wee seemed to be able to do no wrong until in 1991 five seasons in he (or rather Paul Reubens) was arrested in an adult movie theatre, trial by media followed and Pee-Wee and to a large extent Paul Reubens dropped out of public sight, seemingly for good.

So in 2009 when Pee-Wee's return to the stage was touted, our "boy" was getting close to his 60s, a forgotten loner and rebel, could he really give us something of the calibre which we had been used to, or would we see a cheap, sordid cash-in on faded glory? This DVD shows you get neither, this takes the original Pee-Wee and takes it up a notch. Sure Pee-Wee is looking a little older, and there is a split second when Miss Yvonne (the most beautiful woman in Puppetland) comes on, a little plump and comfortably into her 60s, but this is immediately shattered with her glamourous style and flirtatious spiel. Cowboy Curtis has kept his youth thanks to a new actor taking the reins left vacant by the Larry Fishburne and Phil LaMarr plays the role seamlessly. Jambi does not appear to have aged at all as you would probably expect from a genie. Despite his age, Pee-Wee has never shown more energy, and the show has a frenetic pace that leaves younger and fitter members of the audience struggling to keep up.

The plot is the same as the original "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" - Pee-Wee wishes to fly, but gives the wish he is granted away so that Miss Yvonne can get Cowboy Curtis to "really like her" (in the original it was Captain Carl played by the late Phil Hartman who was the object of Miss Yvonne's affections, and there are some moments when Cowboy Curtis seems to be channeling Captain Carl, watch out for them ;) ). But this has been merged with the full array of puppet (and human) characters from the Playhouse (as well as a few new ones) fleshing out the action and adding some real substance. What you get is "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" and "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" all in one. The puppetry is particularly slick (at the end you see the cast come back including the puppeteers who outnumber the humans!) especially if you know that most of the voices are played by the human characters who once off set are immediately watching on monitors and providing voiceovers, and there is a new very clever scene when the Playhouse is plunged into darkness and there is plenty of suggestive humour as the characters grope (an aptly chosen word!) around in the darkness! There is so much attention to detail and not a moment goes by where you are not grinning, even on repeated viewings.

I can't recommend this highly enough, it is the most entertaining and funny DVD I own and I love it so much I'm thinking of marrying it. If there is one thing I am disappointed about it is the fact that this is a region 1 DVD - if HBO only intend to release it in the US surely it would have been more sensible to make it a region-free DVD?

*** Update *** I have upgraded my copy after doing some online research and finding bluray is all region. I get the box in my sweaty little mitts and there it is on the back, regions ABC!!! Very exciting! I put it in and get "this disc will not play in this region". Feel like I have been tricked!!! So the answer is the bluray will not play in Europe unless you have an all-region/region A player.


Sylvia Scarlett [DVD]
Sylvia Scarlett [DVD]
Dvd ~ Katharine Hepburn
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Curious, somewhat entertaining... Its definitely not Bringing Up Baby!, 1 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Sylvia Scarlett [DVD] (DVD)
A film must be truly bad when its stars and director offer to make another movie for free if the studio buries it. You can certainly understand why when the hammy acting, the truly awful cockney music hall accents and the somewhat incoherent plot give the film a touch of the turkey about it. But it holds together in a curious way, being somewhat entertaining. Obviously, with such stars as Grant-Hepburn in the leads things can't be too bad, and they bluntly attack their lines with such chutzpah that you can't help feel some affection for how they try to shake up the stale script, even if the somewhat bizarre accents make you wonder if they have ever made it as far east as London (and of course it is a mystery why the French-raised Sylvia speaks in such a thick East London accent)!
I picked this one up filling in the gaps I had missed from Danny Peary's "Cult Movies" and he points out two ideas which make this film interesting. Firstly, the film is a constant stream of acts, pretences and make believes - Sylvia pretends to be a boy, Munkly pretends to be an honest man reporting Sylvia's father to customs to smuggle his own booty in, Sylvia acts as a penniless French boy to scam racegoers, they convine a maid that they are stage scouts with Sylvia's father dressing up as the lord of the house following which they buy a travelling theatre caravan - everything in the film is one big act after another! If you watch it again knowing that you can plug into the theatrical conventions that don't normally slip across into filmic conventions - things like the way the characters speak out loud to be heard at the back of the auditorium, the exaggerated gestures, the idea of a girl playing the male lead etc. The other thing he points out is how the film covertly presents issues of gender and sexuality that is unusual for that period - certainly not in a blatant or sexual way, probably not in an intentional one - as a boy Sylvia gets kissed by a girl, invited to bed with a man and has a man confess to being curiously attracted to him/her, not particularly something you expect in a 1930s film!
Its not a classic film and it is somewhat let down by its plot and script, particularly at times seeming to fall into a lull or lose its way a little, but it does entertain.


Detour [1945] [DVD]
Detour [1945] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Neal

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film, poor quality, 1 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Detour [1945] [DVD] (DVD)
One of the better films from "King of The B's" Edgar G Ulmer, Detour is a classic film knocked out on a tiny budget in 6 days, but holds its own and then some with bigger budget fare. Particularly of note is Ann Savage's performance as Vera, the gorgon en route to LA picked up by Tom Neal on his downward spiral of fate.
Beware however, the quality of this DVD is truly horrendous and if you can find another edition of it go for that one!


Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores
Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores
by Greg Palast
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing book but something that should be read, 23 Dec. 2011
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Taking off from where Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Can Buy left off, Palast brings us up-to-date with his ongoing series of investigations into those corrupt and obscenely wealthy people and corporations who run roughshod over rules and regulations, vacuuming up money and leaving a trail of toxic investments and petroleum residues in their wake.

Its a disturbing book to read even though it is written in Palast's visceral, witty pulp-noir spiel which renders it palatable, though it surely leaves one with the enduring taste of evil in one's mouth. You will learn a lot of truth here about things you probably do care a lot about - how the flooding of New Orleans as well as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico and the Exxon Valdez grounding were largely a result of a negligent oil industry who found it is cheaper to pay fines and compensation than to maintain an adequate level of safety for example, or the Fukushima nuclear power plant whose back up diesel engines are known to be inadequate in the event of reactor failure but what is a faked safety report between friends if it saves a few $100M (pretty much standard practice in the industry across the world), or the World Bank's "Poverty Reduction Strategy" - destabilise an economy, force up prices, put down protests, introduce austerity, allow US investment banks to clean up on cut-price nationalised debts, maybe not a worry when it is pisspoor nations like Ecuador rioting, but it seems much closer to home when we see this happening right now in Greece (we've pretty much got to the point in UK of what the WB call "IMF riots" in their confidential documents) we see there is a far greater invisible enemy out there than Al Qaeda - the World Bank, the International Money Fund, the World Trade Organisation, "friendly" organisations out to take all that we have.

You will also learn about things you probably won't be expected to care much about, the natives, Indians and third world people shafted by big corporations and left in a pool of toxic sludge where they watch their children dying from cancer and other diseases, their ways of life replaced by $8-an-hour jobs cleaning up grimy beaches.

Particularly disturbing to me are the new class of tycoons Palast calls "Vultures" ("Vampires" is probably a more fitting word) - when you see Bono and the Pope get some third world debt written down, behind the scenes this new class of speculator are buying up this debt at the new knockdown price and then holding the third world to ransom for the full coupon value of the loan, aggressively and quite legally seizing any asset they can, literally starving millions of children to death to put another Bentley on their driveway. The sheer amorality of these people is quite disturbing, and I'm sure if they weren't great pals with the George W. Bushs and Tony Blairs of this world something might be done to bring them to justice.

The book is a great work of investigative journalism in an age where all too often rehashing an official press-release is passed off as real journalism. There is a certain level of pessimism in Palast's conclusion in how hard it is to right wrongs when a few well-aimed millions can rewrite the legally accepted definition of wrong. But in saying that, the value of Palast's work is not just in attempting to bring evil men and corporations to justice but in getting the facts out there and known by the general population.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 16, 2012 3:26 PM GMT


Star Wars (BFI Film Classics)
Star Wars (BFI Film Classics)
by Will Brooker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A serious analysis of Star Wars, 22 Dec. 2011
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Most of these BFI monographs meander between fannish gushing and a grade B student essay and bring very little new analysis to the table. Will Brooker's Star Wars thankfully does not lean this way and is the best of this series I've yet to read. As Brooker writes in the introductory chapter, there is a huge wealth of written material on Star Wars, but there is almost a total absence of critical film analysis, the only serious writings being ones which concentrate on the film as cultural phenomenon and more often than not do this with the judgment that the film is flimsy and inconsequential as a piece of film art.
The book looks at the film in terms of George Lucas as an auteur, particularly focussing on him regarding himself as being an experimental, solitary filmmaker (despite working within the Hollywood system) and examining the film within the context of both his early experimental work and his latter mainstream work. It also examines the editing and composition of shots in the film and how they were influenced by many classic works in the cinema, appropriating many of its shots tooth and nail from earlier classic films like The Searchers and 633 Squadron - one interesting point is that the Death Star sequence was derived from a montage of old war movie dogfights which Lucas edited together to show what he wanted.
Its an interesting read and it is likely that both the fan and the serious student of film will learn something new from this book.


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