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gille liath (US of K)

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Dumbo [DVD]
Dumbo [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Baskett
Offered by Direct Entertainment Supplies
Price: £7.29

5.0 out of 5 stars the best ever, 28 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dumbo [DVD] (DVD)
I saw Madagascar 3 the other day; it was an incredible feat of technical perfection, but was soulless, cynical, and didn't have an original thought in its head. Stupendously dull for me, and even the kids got a bit fed up with it.

So I played them this. In the age of CGI, Dumbo only continues to look better. It includes Disney's most innovative sequence (Pink Elephants); their most moving scene (Baby of Mine) and their best number (When I See an Elephant Fly); and the whole is just as good as the parts. I think it's quite simply the best animated feature ever.

This restored version is as bright as a new pin (maybe even slightly *too* bright?). I also quite like the fact that it fits on my old-fashioned 4:3 TV screen without any compromise. On the downside, I get really annoyed by Disney DVD menus. Presumably they call it 'Disney fast play' because it makes getting to the actual film as slow and irritating a process as possible; and it really bugs me that they refer to their exploitative adverts as 'a selection of bonus features'. Actually there are no extras worth mentioning on this disk at all.

PS On the 'race' thing: yes, the crows are meant to be black guys; but it's probably the most positive portrayal in American films up to then. They're smart, funny, helpful without being sycophantic, and above all they deal with Dumbo and the mouse as equals. Certainly less of a travesty than the 'British' vultures in Jungle Book (or almost any other British character in Disney, for that matter). If you were looking for something to be concerned about, perhaps the Roustabout song is a better candidate - but you would have to be looking.


Fishing Skills: A Complete Guide
Fishing Skills: A Complete Guide
by Tony Whieldon
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars definitely not for beginners, 24 April 2014
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Seems that few of these reviewers, if any, have tried to learn to fish from this book - they either bought it for others or have already started angling. I found it incredibly irritating to be faced in the first couple of pages with terms like coarse, float, and leger fishing, with absolutely no explanation of what they mean. There's almost nothing about how to get started. Whieldon suggests we learn to fish from a club, and learn about tackle from a shop. In that case, what do we need you for mate?

In short, it's not for absolute beginners. The non-information is beautifully presented, though.


Sunday Morning
Sunday Morning
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.52

4.0 out of 5 stars hum hosanna, 23 April 2014
This review is from: Sunday Morning (Audio CD)
I really like this. It's nice to have a mixture of 'church' and 'chapel' tunes, and both lend themselves really well to brass band arrangements; it seems to take any suggestion of 'Vicar's tea party' out of the music. Personally I don't find the vocal tracks - only 9 out of 40 - objectionable. They provide a bit of variety; two hours of brass band can be too much of a good thing.

Musical comfort food.


Iron John: A Book About Men
Iron John: A Book About Men
by Robert Bly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dogma in doggerel, 23 April 2014
Is it genius or is it psychobabble? A bit of both. The general ideas, about the problems of defining male roles and the male psyche in the modern world, are good; I'm pleased that, in reacting against the Soft Male, it doesn't go running all the way back to Captain Caveman. When it tries to get too much out of the Iron John story, though, it does veer towards New Age cobblers. There's the mixture of over-interpretation, dubious factoids and pat psychology you expect in self-help books (which is essentially what this is), plus a lot of neo-pagan flotsam thrown in. And what are Bly's practical suggestions? Shout out in the middle of a conversation, or do a little dance. Un-pre-dictable! (Like Vector in Despicable Me.)

Actually I think Bly goes wrong right at the start of his fable. The 'golden ball', the secret of a whole life, is not found in the world of grown-up masculinity or femininity; those are only substitutes and distractions, albeit necessary ones for the continuation of the species. Mistaking them for the goal is like thinking your day job is your entire life. No, it's in something we already have before all that, lose sight of (most of us) in puberty, and may have a chance to recover in later life. It follows that, for the menopausal men who are likely to read this book, 'getting in touch with the Wild Man' is not the answer; they should be looking for something far beyond that. Bly mentions Enkidu in the Gilgamesh story - but doesn't seem to notice that his role is not to stay a Wild Man in the woods, but to go to the City and join Gilgamesh in his quest for meaning.

In fact the main value of this is maybe not so much to help grownups evaluate their own lives, as to make them think about how they deal with any young lads they may be responsible for. Liberal parents (of the type who would rather buy their son tin pacifists than tin soldiers) could do worse than bear its ideas in mind. It's an interesting read for those intrigued by the collective unconscious and all that jazz; just don't take the detail too seriously. Did Bly in fact write it as an excuse to publicise some of his bloody awful poetry? There's so much of it in some passages, it really is off-putting. Anyway, poetry is more the territory of that soppy Soft Male than the Wild Man, isn't it?


Lorenzo in Taos (Southwest Heritage)
Lorenzo in Taos (Southwest Heritage)
by Mabel Dodge Luhan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £42.00

4.0 out of 5 stars chaos in taos, 22 April 2014
An entertaining book, all the more because the fun is often unintentional. Dilettante American socialite Luhan invites 'inanashnally known Briddish writer DH Lawrence' and his wife to her ranch in Taos, New Mexico, and tries to get her claws into him; failing, she exhibits every trait of schoolgirl jealousy you can think of - slander, spite, sour grapes, backstabbing - but seems quite unconscious of it. It paints quite a picture of the Bohemian life of the 1920s; Dorothy Brett's daub of Lawrence on the front cover (he looks as though he has a possum on his head), and Luhan's doggerel poems levered into the text, are probably a fair sample of the talents of most people living that life.

Poor 'Lorenzo'. To him it wasn't a game, and he didn't have a trust fund paying for him to flit around the world being vaguely 'artistic'. At the same time, as much as she lacks awareness of herself, Luhan shows some perceptiveness about him. She knew well enough that he was not the Messiah; was he, as she makes another guest say, actually only a neurotic? You do feel that here, at 40, he had become a prisoner of his own unrealistic fantasies.

It's more like a comic novel than a biography. Apparently Lawrence himself was stimulated to attempt comedy, for once, in writing about Taos; he abandoned the attempt, but if this book had been the result I don't think he'd have been much dissatisfied with it. You could easily picture it as a TV series set to a Ragtime soundtrack.


J.S. Bach: Choral Works
J.S. Bach: Choral Works
Price: £26.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'the greatest work of art of all times and peoples'?, 19 April 2014
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This review is from: J.S. Bach: Choral Works (Audio CD)
It was 1818 when someone made that famous statement about Bach's Mass in B Minor; so in all fairness Laurel & Hardy's magnum opus, Sons of the Desert, had yet to be made. But even without that, it's a daft claim. The movements are brilliant individually, especially the Kyrie and Gloria; but there's no overall coherence. They were in fact composed years apart, and cobbled together seemingly because Bach wanted a 'great Catholic mass' to his name. Overall, I find it disappointing. What is it about? Nothing. Like many supposedly sacred works since, it lapses at times into a superficial toying with individual phrases. Similarly the Passions are cosy and complacent; I don't detect any real trauma or grief in them.

It may seem ridiculous to criticise works which have as towering a reputation as these, but among whom is the reputation current? I submit that it is among secular music fans, who are basically judging them as opera: in other words (to adapt a comment of CS Lewis'), listening to them without attending to the main thing they are about. The little old lady in Leipzig who apparently complained that there were 'too many instruments' was quite right in my opinion. Too many instruments, too disparate, and too long. If you were to try listening to them all at one go (notwithstanding Radio 3's experiment a few years ago) you would, as my OH suggested, go crazy.

The much shorter Easter Oratorio, which is new to me, is more to my liking - a better match of music and meaning. I could see myself coming to love playing this at Easter as much as I love playing Messiah at Christmas, and not thinking any the less of it for its brevity.

Reservations aside, there is some beautiful music here and this set is terrific value (if you buy from one of the marketplace sellers), with nice performances and a good clear sound.


Live In Concert
Live In Concert

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mighty, 19 April 2014
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This review is from: Live In Concert (Audio CD)
If you're reading this I guess you already know that the Bothy Band are the best Irish traditional band ever, and one of the most musically talented bands of any kind. The old live album on Mulligan records, After Hours, was inexplicably recorded in Paris and desperately inadequate in capturing the fierce joy of their music. This one, recorded in Kilburn for Radio 1 (imagine that!) in 1978 is a lot better, with an audience which knows the real stuff when they hear it - it makes all the difference.

As compared to the studio albums there are several new tunes thrown into the medleys, and two entirely new tracks: a song and a pipes solo by Paddy Keenan. Of the latter, the notes say 'he throws in wild incidentals, and takes liberties with the time signature'. Aside from the fact that the guy means 'accidentals' and 'tempo', that is the charitable, music journo interpretation, based on the belief that great musicians don't make mistakes. More realistically, Keenan makes a mess of it (though like a good showman he covers it fairly well) - which is a pity; they're two great tunes and I had been looking forward to hearing them.

Another weakness is that there's not enough of Micheal O Domhnaill - his only 'spot' is Fionnghuala, not one of his best. Still, you do get an hour of their best material. Since there has never been a satisfactory 'best of' - the group has been shamefully neglected really - this demands to be got.


Strawberry Fair: 51 Traditional Songs (Music Series)
Strawberry Fair: 51 Traditional Songs (Music Series)
by Sue Williams
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars pia, pia, piano, 16 April 2014
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I too am hoping to use this to help introduce my kids to traditional song. On the plus side there are nice big pages and with the ring binding it helpfully lies flat. The songs are simple and appealing, the type that were taught in schoolrooms 40 or 50 years ago, with an emphasis on sea songs and shanties. As a folk music aficionado I recognise most of them; many originally had sexual content or connotations, but these are nice safe versions. A few tunes will (hopefully) still be known to most people: Danny Boy, Loch Lomond, Blow the Man Down, Skye Boat Song.

Against that, the pictures - line drawings only - are neither as many nor as attractive as I'd hoped. It shares a perennial songbook fault: despite that fact that 90% of people who want to play along are likely to be guitarists, the many settings in keys like F, B flat and E flat show that the arrangements were prepared on piano and transferred directly to guitar (no guitarist would choose to set anything in E flat). The choice of chords, with many sixths and sevenths, is also not that of someone really steeped in the music - more like jazz. At the same time it doesn't provide full piano accompaniments, just tunes with skeletal harmony.

However it will be a good book to sing from. In the end I'm giving four stars rather than three because there seem to be so few books of this kind available, and no modern ones at all. Sad really.

Incidentally I think the other review may be for a different edition. There's no CD with this one; it's off-grid.


Lady and Unicorn
Lady and Unicorn
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £21.98

5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic double of Transatlantic albums, 15 April 2014
This review is from: Lady and Unicorn (Audio CD)
It's okay to say 'they shouldn't be listened to together', but these are both short albums and to me it makes eminent sense. I can't be the only one who, for many years, was used to listening to pairs of albums together on either side of a tape cassette - this is really no different. When it costs about the same as either album would individually, you'd be mad not to buy this.

It's true that they are different though. Lady & Unicorn (1970) is very early-music orientated, The Hermit (1976) more of a mixture. Some pieces hark back to the Bert & John style, others anticipate directions he was to explore more fully in future: the 'hippy pastoral' of the title track, for example (one of his best of his own compositions), and the polyphonic jamming of Scarborough Fair. I think my favourite though is the Carolan pieces; it's surprising Carolan tunes haven't had more attention from guitarists, and these really are superb. I only wish he'd made more of a meal of them; he only plays each once over, a total of about four minutes.

I have a nagging feeling the one or two of the original tracks are missing, but to be honest can't remember.


Book of Vision Quest: Personal Transformation in the Wilderness
Book of Vision Quest: Personal Transformation in the Wilderness
by Steven Foster
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

3.0 out of 5 stars everything means something; and if it doesn't, so what?, 12 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There's something a bit tragic, and sadly representative of our age, in sending people into the desert for three days with a pocketful of spiritual bric-a-brac from around the world. Smash something; burn something; talk to the wind; pick a cod-Native American name; or, don't. Like, whatever, dude.

There's something a little bit cynical, maybe, in a book largely relating the experiences of people who have gone on commercial trips organised by the author.

But: there's also something interesting about the whole thing. This book, referencing everyone from Black Elk to Aristotle, is more to help you figure out whether it's something you'd be interested in doing, than to tell you in detail how to do it (where would Foster's firm be then?). His grounding in suicide helpline work, and emphasis on using it to return to your ordinary life, save it from being entirely New Age footling.

Personally, I think I might have done mine years ago without actually realising it.


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