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Pal Joey

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The Real Dope
The Real Dope
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars All clueless on the Western Front, 8 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Real Dope (Kindle Edition)
This is written as the correspondence of an ex-Baseball player, over in France as a soldier in World War I. He's... not the brightest lad in the armed forces. Not by quite a long way. In fact, if you took his character and gave him a sweeter nature and shoehorned in a few folksy insights, you'd be looking at something like Forrest Gump. I don't know if the book was an inspiration to the film or not, though.

Lardner's deliberate mis-spelling and the character's repeated comparison of situations with ball games define the style of these letter home, and while the protagonist is not lovable, the book (as a whole) is.

In Your Dreams: How One Man Coped When He Played the Best at Their Own Game
In Your Dreams: How One Man Coped When He Played the Best at Their Own Game
by Ian Stafford
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of pain, a little gain, 8 Aug. 2014
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I bought this to replace a lost copy, and was glad to find it at a good second-hand price. This, and the companion volume, 'Playgrounds of the Gods' are a good insight for all of us who have, from the comfort of our sofas, passed judgment on professional sportsmen's performances.

The wrestling chapter was interesting, as it showed a sport that had fallen from its televised heights, but was still going and still entertaining the faithful.

I actually watched Ian's attempt at Athletics which is how I heard of the books, and saw the night and day difference between a fit man and a professional sprinter. Mark Lewis-Francis comes across very well in that chapter, which doesn't chime with a lot of people's opinions of him.

It doesn't quite have the 'wow' moments of 'Playgrounds of the Gods', especially the wince-inducing encounter with Roy Jones Jr.

Other than that, his rather wide-eyed fanboy view of Rugby Union players sees him gushing a lot in the chapter about Leicester, just as he did with the Springboks in 'Playgrounds of the Gods'. I'd probably say that the first chapter (playing Football for Everton) is the most entertaining.

Overall, 'In your Dreams' is great fun to read, an insight into professional sport and a glowing advert for the benefits of arnica and a good physiotherapist.

My recommendation is to buy both books. You can read each as full books or just dip in, one chapter at a time.

Hypnotic Eye
Hypnotic Eye
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tom and the boys do it again!, 8 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Hypnotic Eye (Audio CD)
I'm always interested in a new release by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, but some recent albums haven't gripped me as much as their earlier work.

'Hypnotic Eye' is excellent, however, and I have listened to this several times since it arrived less than a week ago. Definitely recommended.

Holidays in Hell
Holidays in Hell
Price: £4.68

4.0 out of 5 stars My favourite P.J.O'Rourke book, 2 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Holidays in Hell (Kindle Edition)
I own a few of O'Rourke's books and find the quality very variable. Some are funny, some are turgid and some of his early stuff is just a bit dated, and not in a good way.

'Holidays in Hell' is, by a fair distance, the one I have enjoyed and re-read the most. He veers from self-parodic "Yank abroad" to making some pretty thoughtful points. Having been written in the Eighties, there is also an interest to be had when comparing then and now.

I don't agree with much of PJ's worldview, but this is a very good example of his writing.

Addis To Omega
Addis To Omega
Price: £10.06

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Career Low, 16 July 2014
This review is from: Addis To Omega (Audio CD)
I was so excited to see a new Dub Colossus album released that I ordered it as soon as I spotted it. Oh dear. This is definitely the worst thing I have heard them do. Whiney, nasal singers trot out cliched lyrics, while the music almost totally fails to transport you on the journey of magical Dub weirdness you want from this band.

It is uninventive, repetitive, bland and sounds like Dubulah having a Spinal Tap-esque "hope you like our new direction" moment. I hope it doesn't last.

The penultimate track throws in some Mongolian-style throatsinging in an attempt to broaden the musical spectrum, but the track fails to go anywhere. The last track sparks into a bit of life, being a bit up-tempo and having jazzy stylings added to the dub foundations and I at last started to enjoy myself. That's where the second star comes from - nothing else, really.

Overall, however, this is a purchase I regret. Not just for the waste of money, but also because Dub Colossus have let me down for the first time, and I'm going to have to be wary of trusting a new release from them in future.

Buy 'In a Town called Addis' and hear them being brilliant, not this depressing betrayal of an album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2014 11:41 AM BST

When Push Comes to Shove: Rugby League the People's Game
When Push Comes to Shove: Rugby League the People's Game
by Ian Clayton
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For fans only, but fun!, 9 July 2014
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This is a large-format book (A4 landscape), containing short anecdotes from fans, players, referees, coaches, grouped into loose categories. However, while the excellent and evocative photographs are indexed and titled, the stories themselves have no names attached to them.

A bit of thought can help identify some of the more famous names involved, but the contributions would be more satisfying if an identity could be put to them.

However, there is much fun to be had with these tales, although they are very much for those who already follow the sport to appreciate. Many of them are affectionate tales of minor personal interest or attempts to convey the everyday experiences, rather than major moments in the history of Rugby League.

The book as a whole builds a 'feel' for how the sport was for those who love it, from the some very early days, right up to the early Nineties. A second volume was published in 1995, on the eve of momentous events for Rugby League, so maybe a third volume could be a project worth doing.

Gone Troppo
Gone Troppo
by John O'Grady
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars No Nino, but still fun, 29 May 2014
This review is from: Gone Troppo (Paperback)
This is not a top-quality O'Grady book, but anyone who enjoyed any of the 'Weird Mob' books will still find themselves on agreeably familiar ground here. The author's eye for dialogue is still sharp, and the characters as laconic as ever.

But without the honest and emotional outsider presence of his most famous character Nino, it could never be as good. If you are a fan of John O'Grady, buy with confidence, but don't expect another 'They're a weird Mob'.

Fibber in the Heat
Fibber in the Heat
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and revealing, 29 May 2014
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A confession: I have never watched 'Balamory', so I knew very little about Miles until he started making TV appearances on panel shows and such things. I found that he came across as bright, articulate and likeable, so I thought I'd give this book a try.

I did fear that it would be yet another book of forced, matey Cricket humour, but it isn't that. In fact, what you find yourself reading is an enjoyably humorous look behind the scenes that gives the reader an idea of what it is like to follow the England cricket team as a job, rather than as a fan.

Miles battles with sweltering heat, fear of being unmasked as a fraud, elusive accreditation and his bowels. But while many of the people he finds himself meeting, from ex-players to experienced journalists, turn out to be friendly and helpful, he finds himself questioning whether being paid to watch Cricket is actually all it is cracked up to be.


4.0 out of 5 stars On top form!, 21 May 2014
Anyone who knows The Black Sorrows or indeed anything concerning the band's mainman Joe Camilleri will know what to expect from this - a heart-on-sleeve love letter to the rootsier side of American music.

So far, so much like any Black Sorrows release, eh? What marks it out is songwriting quality. They have rarely put out a poor album, but the really good ones stand out, and after a couple of initial listens, this sounds like a good 'un! Okay, many of us still miss the days when Linda and Vika were adding their own vocal magic to the band's sound, but the basic ingredients are here still; blues, country, gospel, jazz, Western swing and all the rest.

Sound quality is somewhat compromised, as it has been mixed loud with little dynamic range and, as such, sounds a bit 2-dimensional. However, the songs are strong enough to make this an excellent addition to a long and often remarkable discography.

Molesworth (Penguin Modern Classics)
Molesworth (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Topp value for Money, 21 May 2014
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I first encountered the world of Nigel Molesworth as a young boy and have revisited it many times since. The humour grows with the age of the reader, who finds more than just skoolboy humour when re-reading the books as an adult. Discovering (only quite recently in one of Stephen Fry's books) that Gabbitas & Thring are real, for instance, almost made fall off the sofa in delight.

This Penguin Modern Classic edition is superb value on Kindle, and includes a foreword by Philip Hensher which serves as an excellent introduction, especially for those who never attended an old-fashioned prep school. I actually did, and while the books obviously exaggerate for comedy, they are not all that far off the mark. My maths master, for instance, hem-hem...

Hensher also speculates entertainingly on how some of the characters might be as adults, so the foreword is good fun even for the already-converted fan.

The combination of Willans & Searle is a perfect match. One of those books that I never want to be without ever again. Why Molesworth 2's seminal rendition of 'Fairy Bells' is not available as an MP3 download, however, is a black mark against Amazon.

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