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Modern Times, Modern Places: Life and Art in the 20th Century: Life and Art in the Twentieth Century
Modern Times, Modern Places: Life and Art in the 20th Century: Life and Art in the Twentieth Century
by Peter Conrad
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.94

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tower of Babel, 5 April 2013
Initially intrigued by the encyclopaedic scope of the book, I subsequently found it to be simply a Tower of Babel of artistic references and an absolute chore to plough through. Just a lot of balls about modernity and its discontents, loss of faith, existential despair and so on. So I gave up, exhausted.


There Will Be Blood (2 disc Special Edition) [DVD]
There Will Be Blood (2 disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Day-Lewis
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.74

5 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Your blood will boil, 15 Mar. 2013
Complete tosh with one-dimensional characters in Southern gothic style melodrama about one man's relentless obsession with oil. Sorry I wasted my time. Your blood will boil.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2013 12:52 PM GMT


The Man Who Knew Too Much [DVD] [1956]
The Man Who Knew Too Much [DVD] [1956]
Dvd ~ James Stewart
Offered by kurekro uk - new items are sealed!
Price: £4.14

1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Height of Corn, 24 Sept. 2012
The two leading actors, James Stewart and Doris Day, do their best with this anaemic yarn but soon both they and the supporting cast are left floundering with an entirely wooden and highly implausible script.

Holidaying in Morocco with their son Hank, the characters played by the two big Hollywood names, Dr Benjamin McKenna (Stewart) and his wife Jo (Day) strike up a friendship with a Frenchman on a bus, Louis Bernard, who subsequently invites them to dinner in Marrakesh. Bernard meets the McKennas in their hotel room on the night of the proposed dinner date but during conversation with Mrs McKenna, Bernard's answers to her questions about his occupation are playful, vague and lacking in any real detail, arousing her suspicion. Bernard then suddenly makes a phone call and is called away on important business. The McKennas proceed to the pre-arranged restaurant for dinner anyway. Here the gangly doctor has enormous difficulty seating himself on the floor cushions prior to the meal. An English couple, the Draytons, are sitting in close proximity. Mrs Drayton recognises Jo McKenna as the former Jo Conway, a popular singer and entertainer. Rather than continue in conversation by continually craning their necks around, the McKennas join the English couple and once again, Dr McKenna is the source of much amusement as he endeavours to partake of his meal in the native Arab fashion, using only the fingers of the right hand. The mood darkens however, when the mysterious Frenchman, Bernard, swans into the restaurant and sits down with some other people. Dr McKenna takes umbrage at this affront and at one point gets up to have it out with Bernard but is dissuaded by his wife, Jo.

The next day, the McKennas (with their son Hank in tow) and the Draytons visit the local souk. The police suddenly turn up, sirens wailing, and there is a bit of a fracas and a man in a djellaba (native dress) runs away only to be stabbed in the back by an unknown assailant. The stabbed man staggers towards the two holidaying families. Mindful of his profession, Dr McKenna reaches out to the stab victim and as the victim falls to the ground, McKenna discovers that it is in fact Louis Bernard with his face blacked up in disguise. Bernard whispers into McKenna's ear that the assassination of a statesman is planned to take place in London and he should alert the authorities about Ambrose Chappell. Horrified, the English couple, the Draytons, observe all this too.

Dr McKenna and his wife Jo now have to go to the local police authorities to give their account of the incident while Mrs Drayton helpfully offers to take their son Hank back to the hotel. Whilst at the police station, Dr McKenna receives a mysterious phone call warning him not reveal anything of the assassination plot or otherwise, his son will be harmed. When McKenna gets back to the hotel to look for his son and the Draytons, he is told that the Draytons have checked out of the hotel. So within the space of two days, the McKennas have struck up an acquaintance not only with a French Intelligence agent investigating a plot to assassinate a prime minister but also with two of the plotters. How's that for serendipity?!

With his son now kidnapped, Dr McKenna is unable to tell the police about the plot or about the mysterious Ambrose Chappell. But Chappell he presumes to be in London along with the Draytons as London is the assassination venue and therefore the couple decide to get quickly over to London to find out where their son Hank might be. McKenna looks up the London phone directory and does indeed find an Ambrose Chappell listed. Chappell is a taxidermist and off McKenna goes to confront him with the sole purpose in mind of securing the safety of his son whom he will pay a ransom for if necessary. The bemused Mr Chappell appears to have no inkling of anything that the desperate doctor is concerned about and decides to call the police. McKenna soon realises his gaffe and makes his getaway. So, if Ambrose Chappell isn't the Ambrose Chappell the dying French agent, Bernard, was referring to, who might he be? Jo McKenna has a sudden inspiration at this point. What if Ambrose Chappell is in fact Ambrose Chapel, a building instead a person. Is there an Ambrose Chapel anywhere in London? You bet! And lo and behold, it transpires that Ambrose Chapel is where the Draytons are based, pretending to be a vicar and his wife as a cover for their nefarious purposes.

Well, on the plot goes, reeling about like a drunk man on stilts. The whole thing soon descends into farce and you cynically suspect that Stewart and Day must have either been completely flummoxed by the machinations of the plot or just laughing their heads off when Hitchcock was out of earshot. A real turkey of a movie!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2014 9:13 PM BST


The Grass Arena: An Autobiography (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Grass Arena: An Autobiography (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Healy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coda to the John Healy story., 14 Sept. 2012
Just watched a programme on the author of The Grass Arena on the Irish channel RTE. Following his overnight success with The Grass Arena, it seems that Healy fell foul of the London literary establishment after a bit of a fracas with the then literary editor of Faber & Faber (who published the book) Robert McCrum. At one point, Healy, rather unwisely, threatened to chop McCrum's head off with an axe. The cause of Healy's disgruntlement was his concern over royalties for the book. An emotionally damaged man (given his years as a homeless alcoholic on the outer fringes of society) Healy lacked the necessary social skills and graces to put his case in a more sober and less bellicose manner. Failing to allow for the this, McCrum acted wimpishly and rather boorishly refused to have anything more to do with the hapless Healy. Thereafter, Healy's book went out of print and he was unable to find another publisher. In short, he was blacklisted. However, the good news is that Penguin Classics are to republish The Grass Arena. Healy's chess skills are as strong as ever. He recently played 15 opponents all at the same time and won 14 out of the 15 games.


AMW1863 Lightweight Folding Transit Wheelchair
AMW1863 Lightweight Folding Transit Wheelchair

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inferior product. Broke on first time usage., 5 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had a bad experience with this wheelchair. On the first outing with my elderly father, the left handlebar snapped like a twig on endeavouring to turn the chair, leaving us stranded on a path inacessible by taxi. My father is just under 11 stone in weight so it's not as if we expected the chair to perform beyond its capacity. I suspect that these transit wheelchairs are only adequate to transport someone from a car into a building such as a hospital etc. They are difficult to manoeuvre over rough grained or pock-marked pavements. I think you need the large 24inch wheels to give both attendant and user any degree of ease of usage. But in fairness to the company, Angel Mobility customer services were very responsive and sympathetic, and never failed to call me back on request. And they made a full refund.


The Flavour Thesaurus
The Flavour Thesaurus
by Niki Segnit
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

4.0 out of 5 stars A sensual delight, 26 May 2012
This review is from: The Flavour Thesaurus (Hardcover)
Just opened the book at random where the author referred to a chocolate bar (now defunct) called 'Cabana' as an example of the combination of the flavours of cherry and coconut. I had completely forgotten about 'Cabana' which I found more-ish at the time but, as so often happens, the Great British riff-raff failed to appreciate the exotic flavour combination and alas, no more Cabana. Anyway, intrigued by the writing style more than anything else, I borrowed the book from the local library and it read like a systematic derangement of the ollfactory and gustatory senses, not unlike those tomes of drug lore describing hallucinogenic trips for the mind, and yet, I understood that my palate, deprived, dull, and insipid as it is, could never fully appreciate the flavoursome correspondences revealed by Ms Segnit. And so, it was back to the sauce, HP, Ketchup, Worcestershire ...


John Adams: I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky
John Adams: I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky
Price: £12.69

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disappointing, 7 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I found this oddball opera or whatever it is so awful I can't bear to even give it a second chance. No, sorry, it's going straight to the charity shop. Otherwise I'm a bit of a John Adams nut and have so far purchased Harmonielehre, Hoodoo Zephyr, Naive and Sentimental Music, Gnarly Buttons, Harmonium, Shaker Loops, Century Rolls, Road Movies. The man writes the most wonderful, the most exuberant, uplifting music. So vibrant, so full of New World optimism.


Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion?
Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion?
by Donal Anthony Foley
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Holy Smoke!, 11 Mar. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Foley makes much of the fact that, prior to the alleged apparition, two of the Medjugorje visionaries [Ivanka and Mirjana]had sneaked off to Podbrdo for a surreptitious bout of smoking with cigarettes pilfered from their fathers:

"The evidence indicates, then, that the two visonaries did indeed smoke once they arrived at Podbrdo. In other words,just prior to their meeting with the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, the two visionaries had been smoking. This certainly puts the initial stages of the Medjugorje event in a new light, and makes it very difficult to accept that this was a genuine supernatural visitation." (P46)

Yet later on he appears to take a contradictory stance on the topic of smoking in the proximity of the alleged apparition of the Blessed Virgin:

" ... Bishop Peric interviewed some young girls who had been present at a number of late night visions on the hillside, during which he was told that "an unnamed visionary said in a raised voice: 'Turn off your batteries [torches] Our Lady will not appear if you do not turn off all the lights!'" Something similar happened the next night, as someone cried out: "Put out your cigarettes! If you do not put out your cigarettes, Our Lady will not appear."
Bishop Peric's response to this was to say to his companion [unnamed], "we could leave now. There is nothing authentic here! Our Lady is not as sensitive as we that she would be bothered by - a cigarette!" Foley comments: Although his companion was more open to the possibility that something genuine was going on, surely Bishop Peric was right to come to this conclusion." (P64) This is self-contradictory, surely.

Foley apparently believes that the Blessed Virgin would only appear to the most innocent of souls among us, the children of Fatima,for example, or to someone extremely pious, as with St Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes. It is, therefore, suggested that the events at Medjugorje and at Garabandal (where the visionaries had been stealing apples prior to the apparition) may be of a diabolical origin to deceive the faithful. Certainly, some of the events at Medjugorje and Garabandal are puzzling, levitation (at Garabandal) or the ability on the part of the visionaries at Medjugorje to move across difficult terrain at great speed ahead of a crowd of followers. But does this mean that the apparition may be of a diabolical as opposed to a divine origin? And what about the good fruits of Medjugorje, people who have been inspired to reform their lives as a result of a pilgrimage there? What about the foundation of the organisation Mary's Meals which also has a link with Medjugorjge? Or has Satan shot himself in the hoof?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2011 3:50 AM BST


Smile
Smile
Offered by Mattpuss
Price: £39.99

0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awry Smile, 7 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Smile (Audio CD)
Unfortunately, Brian decided to keep the original lyrics to Good Vibrations on Smile, penned either by himself or Tony Asher (?) Compare them with Mike Love's lyrics for the 1967 single and ask yourself, which are the more poetic and which are toe-curlingly awful? First, the original lyrics:

I, I love the colorful clothes she wears
And she's already working on my brain
I, I only looked in her eyes
But I think of something I just can't explain.

I bet I know what she's like
And I can feel how right she'd be for me
It's weird, how she comes in so strong
And I wonder what she's pickin up from me?

And now, Mike Love's version:

Ah-a! I love the colourful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

Close my eyes, she's somehow closer now
Softly smile, I know she must be kind
When I look in her eyes
She goes with me to a blossomed world.

See what I mean?

Some things work on Smile and some things don't. The lyrics to 'Good Vibrations' on Smile have a huge cringe factor. Also, compared with many other fine instrumentals that Wilson has penned, Mother O'Leary's Cow is an exceedingly dull piece of music.

On the plus side, 'Plymouth Rock Roll Over' is a beautiful song. The version of 'Wind Chimes' is much better on Smile than on Smiley Smile(and thank heavens Wilson didn't include the ghastly 'She's Goin' Bald' from Smiley Smile)'On a Holiday' is another fine song, really capturing a sense of child-like innocence and wonder, the kind of thing that Wilson is good at.

Anyhow, I give Smile 7 out of 10 or, if you prefer, four stars out of five. Still, it's no Sgt Pepper.


Trespass
Trespass
by Rose Tremain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Watch out for that cheese sandwich!, 2 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Trespass (Hardcover)
This novel got a glowing review in the Irish Times so I thought I must read it. Whilst the character portraits are convincing enough, the actual plot-line goes rather limp when one of the characters goes missing, rather like the cheese sandwich referred to on a number of occasions in the story. (How "horrible" can a half-eaten cheese sandwich be, one wonders, and how "putrid" can it get?!) The motive for the inevitable murder that takes place seems rather weak and the execution (no pun intended) of the fatal deed is scarcely plausible. Very contrived and a bit creaky altogether. Disappointing.


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