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Andrew Van Vleck "Rip" (Manchester, UK)

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Vegetarian Myth, The
Vegetarian Myth, The
by Lierre Keith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.18

31 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for anyone interested in nutrition and food politics, 13 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Vegetarian Myth, The (Paperback)
I'm not a vegetarian and have had no thoughts about stopping eating meat. I came across Lierre Keith on Jimmy Moore's low-carb blog interview and was so intrigued that I ordered this book. It is definitely the best book I've read so far this year.

Lierre lived as a vegan for twenty years because she wanted her food to come without any death attached and she recounts her experiences trying to grow her own food, ultimately coming to the realisation that in any form of food production comes the inevitable death of some life form. Her summing up the life=death equation as a self-completing and ever-renewing circle, rather than a food chain, is inspired and a cornerstone of the book's philosophy. All the while her diet, lacking in the essential nutrients, causes her body to break down.

The book is split into a small number of chapters, each dealing with a particular angle on the vegetarian's argument. The claim that vegetarianism is more environmentally friendly is annihilated with the details of how the Earth's topsoil has been eaten away by agriculture. In the section dealing with politics she goes on to describe the massive power held by the grain corporations. The chapter on nutrition is also comprehensive and written well enough for a lay person to understand.

I'd certainly recommend it for any vegetarian open-minded enough to consider another side to their argument, but also to anyone interested in nutrition and where their food comes from. It's not an excuse for committed carnivores to beat their chest and look down on their vegetarian brethren, but a more factually complete look at how we've affected our planet and how what we eat really affects us.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2012 6:24 PM BST

Sharpe's Rifles
Sharpe's Rifles
by Bernard Cornwell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enter Mr Harper, 15 July 2007
Before Bernard Cornwell wrote Sharpe's Prey, Rifles was the first book in the series to introduce Pat Harper and the other major characters within the 95th riflemen to us. Here we find Sharpe and the 95th in Portugal, during the British Army's retreat to Lisbon.

The book deals with two major themes - firstly, how Sharpe became the leader of the greenjackets that end up becoming isolated from the 95th (and joining the fictional South Essex in Sharpe's Eagle) and secondly, the Spanish fight against the French. Whereas most of the Spaniards Sharpe encounters in the series are partisans, Major Vivar is the leader of an elite Cazador squadron. Their fates are bound as Sharpe faces up to the destruction of his Battalion and Vivar escapes the attentions of a French Chasseur and a mysterious horseman who want to capture the strongbox in the Major's possession.

Sharpe is initially viewed as a mere Quartermaster, his experience in India counting for nothing. Long time readers will know of the antagonism his being promoted from the ranks causes among his fellow officers, but in this book we see how even the rank and file riflemen despise Sharpe, and throughout the story a side of the character is shown which is surprising - namely, his lack of confidence as an officer and his struggle to win the men round. This is especially true in the case of Harper, who is briefly one of Sharpe's main adversaries within the riflemen. The book climaxes with a thrilling street fight.

Again Cornwell's talent for producing characters with depth is evident as we watch Sharpe's transformation from an independent soldier to an accomplished officer. Because his writing style by this point is much more polished, the difference between Rifles and Eagles (the book which followed Rifles chronologically until the release of Havoc), you will notice differences between the two books. What has not changed is Cornwell's skill at painting vivid images in the reader's mind, especially the picture of the bleak Spanish winter and the relentless passion and fury of Vivar. It's surprising that the Major has not appeared later in the series until Devil, as he has enough depth to him to warrant further appearences.

I believe that this is an essential read for Sharpe fans, not only because it highlights such an important period in the character's career, but also because it is a fine story in its own right.

Alright, Still
Alright, Still
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.64

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's more than alright!, 19 May 2007
This review is from: Alright, Still (Audio CD)
First of all, I should point out that yes, while Lily does talk with a 'posh' accent and sing in a 'chav' accent, and her music is quite 'chavvish' in flavour, I sincerely doubt that it's a move to sell records. I suspect it's simply the sort of music she is into, and if we all went by that argument, then we should also lambast the likes of Eric Clapton for playing 'black' music, and so forth.

Onto the album - while most of the single pulls are reggae-flavoured (Smile, LDN), there is also straightforward pop (Everything's Just Wonderful, Alfie), although Lily's delivery is far from sugar-coated. Her lovely soft voice weaves effortlessly through the music and her sense of rhyming and timing are inspired at times. The album does come with a Parental Guidance sticker for a reason, though - Lily has slipped in the odd swear word in just about every song, or a reference to sex, so while the cursing isn't constant, be warned that the c-word does crop up, as does the t-word in Alfie and in both cases you get the feeling that Lily slipped them in because she finds it funny and could have easily left them out.

Subject matter seems to be split fairly equally between wry observations of the world around her (Friday Night, Knock 'Em Out) and digs at her ex-boyfriends (Smile, Not Big). Each song is varied and strong enough to stand out from the one that comes before. My personal favourites are Knock 'Em Out with its stuttering drumbeat (about unwanted attention from undesirables), Everything's Just Wonderful (a well-written anthem about the burdens of most young people these days) and Friend Of Mine, although I think that just abut every song on here is a winner. However, Take What You Take is an awful pop-by-numbers song which should have been left off in favour of the far more superior B-side Nan, You're A Window Shopper.

I believe that this is a fine album and one that proves Lily Allen to be a consummate songwriter and singer.

Sharpe's Gold [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Sharpe's Gold [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Indiana Sharpe, 6 Nov. 2005
This is without a doubt the weakest episode of the normally excellent TV series. With almost no reference to the (far more superior) novel, the producers have thrown in a couple of irritating characters in the form of Wellington's sister and niece and included some Spanish partisans which fashion themselves in the style of the Aztecs.
I'm not sure how expensive it would have been for the producers to follow the storyline of the novel more closely (except for Sharpe meeting Teresa, which he does earlier in the TV series, but it would have made for a better story. That said, the episode is as always magnificantly cast, and played out, except for the aforementioned aunt and niece who are never really coinvincing. There really is no one who could play Sharpe and Harper better than Sean Bean and Daragh O' Malley, which is tribute to their skill as actors.
This is one to complete the collection only.

Revolutions: Alternative Bands, Radical Music
Revolutions: Alternative Bands, Radical Music
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.55

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary, 29 May 2005
With guitar music coming to the fore once again, and much of that content taking different creative directions to much of what went before, it's about time a compilation brought all these bands together.
For the most part, the selections are excellent, featuring Kasabian's best song by a mile, the awesome Somebody Told Me by The Killers and Alive & Amplified. I'm impressed with the wide variety of music chosen by the compiler: the hard riffery of The Glitterati's You Got Nothing On Me contrasts strongly with the more laid back California and the dreamy Confusion. I believe that there is something for everyone here.
My only complaint is that at the compiler seemed to have run short of inspiration near the end of the second disc, as There She Goes is featured on just about every indie compilation going, and I Wanna Be Adored is hardly new. The collection is meant, or so it seems, to represent new bands only and if it isn't, then just including a small chunk of older songs at the album's end just makes them appear as an afterthought.
Also, I feel that Franz Ferdinand are sorely conspicuous in their absence. I wouldn't want Take Me Out - that's been done to death - but I feel that This Fire or Darts Of Pleasure would have suited this album very well.
Overall, I would recommend this album strongly, as I feel it offers a good general perspective on the alt rock scene which is currently coming to fruition. Great stuff.

Sharpe's Eagle: The Talavera Campaign, July 1809 (The Sharpe Series, Book 8)
Sharpe's Eagle: The Talavera Campaign, July 1809 (The Sharpe Series, Book 8)
by Bernard Cornwell
Edition: Paperback

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where it all started, 23 May 2005
Sharpe's Eagle is the first book in the series that Bernard Cornwell wrote (though not the first chronologically), and in the foreword he claims that he has not gone back and re-read it for fear of spotting crudities in his early writing.
However, the only thing that I would be worried about is the details about the characters which have been made incorrect as the series has developed, and that is unavoidable. What really matters is that the book is of the same high standard as found everywhere in the series.
Cornwell has the knack of providing plenty of background information, while not letting it flood the actual storyline. His attention to detail and description is beyond belief, and with almost casual ease he can place vivid images of the surrounding scenery and action in the reader's mind. His choice to have most of Sharpe's actual enemies, the ones he interacts with most, within the British army is inspired as it makes for a far more realistic experience and also provides Sharpe with a harder struggle to overcome. Sharpe has his foes amongst the French, make no mistake, but in Simmerson Cornwell is able to demonstrate the unfair system of promotion and power of the politicians in this period of British history.
I also liked the way that Cornwell doesn't paint the French as scruffy, ill-disciplined ruffians, in the way that a film-maker might be guilty of. This firstly makes gives the book another aspect of realism, but also makes Sharpe's victories more remarkable.
Finally, after the book, an appendix is provided by Cornwell in which he explains what actually happened, and how he altered events (subtly, I might add) to suit his story. This, as well as providing a useful history on the actual events, also goes to show just how well the author has researched his work.
I cannot recommend this enough.

Lift Me Up
Lift Me Up
Offered by Revival Books Ltd
Price: £1.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exhilerating rush, 20 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Lift Me Up (Audio CD)
For his latest album, Hotel, Moby has cut back on his trademark samples and in this first single goes towards what could be considered to be a more classic pop song. Playing all instruments except drums, and singing, Lift Me Up is an exhilerating rush of a song that wouldn't be out of place in any club.
Moby's voice is an acquired taste; I read in one review that it was 'soulless'. However, I believe that it has a fragile yet gritty quality which is beautiful in its own right. The only gripe I do have is that the verse lyrics bear little relation to the chorus and do seem a little flat. However, when he breaks into the chorus, there is no doubt in the forcefulness of the message. The backing vocals fit perfectly, and Moby's usual synth style, which tends to sound like a whole string section, combine with the beat to create an uplifting anthem.
One of Moby's best songs for some time.

Van Halen II [Reissue]
Van Halen II [Reissue]
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two good for words, 14 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Van Halen II [Reissue] (Audio CD)
I didn't get into VH2 straight away, because I didn't think that it was quite as accessible as its predecessor. The overall mood of the album is different, too: the overt lustful posturing of the first album is replaced with a more playful palette.
However, VH2 manages to knock spots off the competition despite not being the best record in the Van Halen catalogue (and that's not saying it's comparitively weak, not by a long way). Eddie's tone is still there, as are Roth's spot-on vocals and Mike Anthony's tastful bass. There are in particular some awesome riffs to enjoy, my particular favourite being D.O.A., and before this you have the astounding Spanish Fly, a sort of acoustic Eruption but even more astonishing for being performed on an acoustic guitar, a harder instrument to play this sort of music on.
Once again, Van Halen set the new milestone to follow with this album, just as the world had recovered from their debut.

Is There Love In Space?
Is There Love In Space?
Price: £5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's love for this album if not in space, 14 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Is There Love In Space? (Audio CD)
After the poorly received Engines Of Creation and Strange Beautiful Music, Satch returns to form with a vengeance with Is There Love In Space?. Like its predecessor, the record follows a more conventional rock direction but also retains the elements of quirkiness that peppered Joe's earlier works.
In fact, while listening to this album, I couldn't help but feel that I'd heard much of the music before in Joe's back catalogue. But this was not a feeling of disappointment - more a sense of pleasure at how polished the overall album is. In every track the tone and rhythm guitars are absolutely spot on, and Joe being Joe, only widdles when necessary (unlike Steve Vai who seems content to go off on endless tangents in his work).
Particular highlights include Up In Flames, with the chorus containing some of the heaviest riffing I've heard in a rock song, never mind a Satriani song. Lifestyle is one of the two vocal tracks, and I'm pleased to say that Satch has finally got it right this time. I've never been a fan of his vocal tracks but both on this album are excellent. The lyrics are nowhere near as bad as his earliest efforts and there's a great boogie feel on I Like The Rain.
If I Could Fly is simply one of the most beautiful pieces of instrumental guitar music I have heard. It's much like Flying In A Blue Dream, but even warmer thanks to the acoustic rhythm gutar and there's an adrenalin rush about the whole thing. Satch is so adept at doing 'rush' songs like these. Then you have The Souls Of Distortion, before an acoustic track, of which I'm not a fan. But overall the whole album is polished and superbly composed.

Super Hits
Super Hits
Offered by Musical Notes
Price: £1.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Not at all trash, 30 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Super Hits (Audio CD)
It may look cheap, but I believe that this is one of the best Alice Cooper compliations going. It doesn't contain any of his early hits, and that is a disadvantage, but you could also buy The Essential Alice Cooper (which does) and this too, as the two albums feature almost completely different track lists.
I feel that this album alone demonstrates Alice's immense ability as a songwriter (even though it doesn't even include such works of brilliance as Only Women Bleed and You And Me), with Might As Well... being particularly strong in terms of lyrical content. Lost In America is a superbly cynical take on America's youth and Hey Stoopid is a slap around the face of the depressed. Also included is Poison, Trash and Love's A Loaded Gun - all better songs than many of Alice's hard rock contemporaries have ever managed.
Truly an essential purchase.

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