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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quickly died a death, 21 Aug. 2009
I've spent years consciously ignoring the explosion in technology. I ooh and aaah at it from afar (and in private) but I clung on to my CD player for dear life. The reasons are three-fold. Firstly, am inherently suspicious of the build quality of modern technology. This bizarre fascination with things being smallersmallersmaller (am I the only person with no desire to feel like Gulliver?), leading me to believe that perhaps size is more important than longevity. Secondly, once you get caught up in needing to keep up, you find yourself hocking your organs in order to be able to pay for the latest shiny thing. (My left kidney has been twitching ever since I bought a wii.) Finally, I should have been born in the 1920s and believe all things technology are from the devil.

And so it is with this MP3 player. I finally plumped for a cheap one a month ago... ease myself in, you know. Decide whether it was this or my boom-box, yo. Ah, I admit it, I got caught up in buying MP3 songs from Amazon. I was drunk on the power! And for a month it was wonderful. Download, drag and drop, drink in the deliciousness of the songs you love.

But a week ago, I started noticing it wasn't holding its charge too well. You charge it by hooking it up to your computer via the USB port, and they provide the little cord thingy. I was initially getting about 3 hours of play and yet, without my using it much, it was suddenly down to around half an hour. Well, this morning, fully charged, I clipped it to me trous, took it with me to go food shopping (if you *must* rummage through root vegetables, do it while Irene Cara hollers about What a Feeling it is) and it died within 5 minutes. It had nothing whatsoever. Having repeated the exercise when I got back, it once again died within 5 minutes. So within the space of a month, with limited use, it's now useless. My suspicions were well-founded.

It seems the other reviewers haven't had the same problem, so there may be something afoot. I'm wondering if perhaps it isn't a sign... or perhaps I just got unlucky. In any event, please allow me to shake my fist and return to my well-lit hole in the ground. Oil-lamp. Much better than yer evil *bulbs*.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2013 6:47 PM BST


Grumpy Old Men [DVD] [2003]
Grumpy Old Men [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Clarkson
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £8.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The John Peel Show, 30 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Grumpy Old Men [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
He's not even in it a huge amount, but every single thing he says is drenched in Absolute Coolness and it's wonderful being able to pretend he is still here.

Grumpy old men, contrary to popular belief, apparently include 30 year old women - certainly this one. As they speak, you find yourself agreeing with everything they say; all their irritants are entirely valid, and they are wholly correct in their simmering fury. Except they inject their grumpery with lashings and lashings of laugh out loud funniness. Will Self (frequently unlikeable in so many ways) is a bonafide genius with words; Bill Nighy is a laconic wonder; Bob Geldof drops the worthiness and becomes a supremely enjoyable scowl on frowny legs and, of course, there's Sir Peel who can do no wrong.

They are joined by a legion of grumpy middle-aged men, all of whom are disappointed that it's not how Tomorrow's World promised it would be. They grumble about yoot speak, coffee bars, celebrity culture, politics and broken promises, technology, traffic, children, pretentious food, women who wear very little then frown upon your ogling their norks... on and on it goes, for 2 and a half wonderful hours. And that doesn't include the hour-long Christmas extra.

For this one, Jeremy Clarkson has joined their ranks as they rant about carol singers, the always-debacle Christmas lights, shopping... all the while, puffing furiously on cigarette after cigarette.

You would think it would be interminably depressing watching a bunch of old goats raving for 3 and a half hours. But, in fact, it's thoroughly joyous and life-affirming. It's always comforting knowing you're not alone in your catalogue of grievances but, more than that, they're just jolly good company.

As this was made 5 years ago, many of their grump-figures are much, much worse now. For example, they all lambast Christmas Round Robins - those insufferable letters the Smithington-Smythes send out to tell you what they, and their children and pets, have been doing all year. It instantly brought to mind Twitter, in all its dribbly, drivelly, self-involved fatuousness. I felt an enormous rush of gratitude that I've managed to so completely avoid getting involved, and an enormous sense of gratitude to the gentlemen for confirming that, aye, it's ok to not go where the herd goes. Plus, you get to see Ken Livingstone in fabulously smeared "morning after" make-up... bonus.

Oddly enough, as I write, the bane of my life has just popped on in the background. That "We Buy Any Car" advert has come on, and how I wish the chaps would skewer it in the way only they could, and in the way it so richly deserves. They've turned being grumpy into an art, and it's champion.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2010 2:55 PM BST


The Wolves (Act I and II)
The Wolves (Act I and II)

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Standing alone in Autumn, 27 July 2009
The Wolves (Act I and II) is from the album For Emma Forever Ago which is a collection of stunning, gentle, accoustic brilliance... but it is already awash with a sea of reviews and, for me, this song is the stand-out one of them all; so much so, it deserves reviewing in its own right.

Bon Iver is frequently compared to Damian Rice, but I've never heard much similarity. There's the accoustic quality, but they share that with a thousand others. I hear much, much louder echoes of Martin Grech with the ache in the voice and the unpredictability and seemingly discordant chords.

It's so hard to describe and review music (if you're a layman like me) so I think sometimes the best we can do is describe how it makes us feel. Wolves forces me to close my eyes and it feels a little like standing alone in the middle of Hampstead Heath in November. It's cold, but I'm bundled up warm and breathing through my scarf so the air doesn't burn my lungs; the wind is squirly, and whistling, and the trees are almost bare. There's joy and sadness everywhere, and there's a strange feeling of anticipation, like something is about to happen, even though I know it won't, and all I can do is stand there simultaneously rooted to the spot and being swept away by it.

The brief silences in the music are quiet moments where the wind dies down and I can hear rippling in the pond, and the water looks very, very cold. It's stripped down, simple, pure, dark and beautiful and I can smell the burning leaves so clearly that am surprised to open my eyes and realise that it's still only July.

There is so much beautiful music in the world, and I honestly think Wolves is somewhere near the very top.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2009 12:53 PM BST


James May's 20th Century [DVD]
James May's 20th Century [DVD]
Dvd ~ James May
Offered by DVD SOLUTIONS * FAST WORLDWIDE DELIVERY * SAME DAY DISPATCH BEFORE 3PM MON-FRI * GUARANTEED TO BE IN STOCK
Price: £17.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How can this have no reviews?, 24 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's shocking, because May's 20th Century is brilliant, brilliant television. Humm, looking back at my reviews, it's emerging that I'm a bit of a May fangirl - but who wouldn't be? He's a wicked clever, witty, dour, church-going eccentric... in other words, quintessentially British. Minus the the scary underage drinkers and fighting dogs. (Indeed, the former is something covered in the programme.)

As LovelyJames says at the very start: "Over the last 100 years we have done something truly incredible to this planet: we've made it much, much smaller." The first episode ("Honey, I've Shrunk the World") tries to find the main reason for the shrinkery, exploring aeroplanes (can you believe Concorde was retired 6 years ago?), cars (the first 72 miles of the M1 was opened in 1959, doncha know) and television (May would be a fabulous Newsnight presenter). It's amazing how much information, history and goergous, old black and white archive footage is squeezed into this episode. In fact, it could do with being about half an hour longer.

Episode 2 ("Blast Off") opens with LovelyJames informing us that when he was 6, he decided he wanted to be... an astronaut. Here we learn about space exploration and if this is something that interests you, I really recommend his recent James May on the Moon marking the 40th Anniversary. Interestingly, while it was the Americans that first went into space, it was a Brit that came up with the rocket. Huzzah!

Episode 3 ("Body Fantastic") covers all the ways in which technology aids the body including prosthetics and DNA, but he starts with special pants (trousers, really, but they're not as funny) that enable us to survive more centrifugal g. I've mentioned this bit specifically as, it has to be said, watching May nearly pass out from the g forces exerted is jolly unpleasant indeed - he seems to age 40 years in an instant as all the life drains out of him. Horrid. But, entirely happier is his pose while sporting his new superpants. (For the feint of heart, there are some slightly unsettling scenes when he watches some major cardiac surgery taking place.)

Episode 4 ("Take Cover!") is all about war and, despite its being an evil, awful thing, his British enthusiasm for its accoutrements is completely infectious, as is his boyish exuberance when flying shotgun in a Typhoon. It looks unbelievably fun so you can't blame a chap for a-whoopin' and a-hollerin'.

Episode 5 ("Inventing the Teenager") covers how teenagers developed and became such a scary bunch. I may have added the scary, but he takes us from the start of the 20th century when teenagers were much like their parents, to now, where they have (too much) freedom and (far too much) power. Nylon, vinyl and mopeds are stops along the way and if you've been watching BBC4's series "Death of Respect", this episode will have you lamenting the way it's all gone.

And, finally, episode 6 ("Bright Lights, Big Cities") where he covers the development of metropolitanism... if that's a word. From skyscrapers (look for a gorgeous art deco interior used in Jeeves And Wooster) through to unbreakable glass (proved to be unbreakable by dropping a beautiful, little cherry-red vintage Mini onto a sheet of it), electricity and, coming full circle, back to the car. Given cars are May's passion, it's little wonder - and there is more of the wonderful, antique, crackly footage. What a joy!

There are no extras - not a single ittybitty one - and it has 6 episodes, each lasting 30 minutes, so you're getting 3 hours all in. And it's 3 hours of fascinating wonderfulness, from someone who embodies fascinating wonderfulness. And, for the price, it absolutely bargaintastic.


Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs [DVD] [2009]
Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Ray Romano
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £2.74

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good, but still lubly, 17 July 2009
Ice Age 3 continues where 2 left off: Ellie and Manny (the last of their kind, voiced by Queen Latifah and Ray Romano) are expecting their first bubsy, and the cosiness of it all has an unfit Diego (Denis Leary) itching to go out into the wild on his lonesome so he can rediscover his tiger-roar.

Sid, meanwhile, has baby-envy and his biological clock is a-ringing, so on an angry jaunt away from the herd, he stumbles across 3 eggs and, thinking they've been abandoned, decides to adopt them. When they crack open, out come 3 T-rex babies... and the fun ensues.

Circumstances split the group and lead some of them to an old, hidden, massive jungle, populated by dinosaurs thought to be extinct - many of whom are moody, and hungry. They encounter a one-eyed weasel-fighter called Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg - struggling to name a recent film he hasn't been in...) who has an ongoing war with an iconceivably huge dinosaur. Great fun.

There are still lovely sojourns with Scrat trying to catch his beloved acorn, and this time, there's a female on the scene, so he has a tricky decision to make. Scrat is definitely the unsung hero of Ice Age, but the entire film is terrific. It is laced with the same humour as the first 2 and, as ever, the graphics are phenomenal. I'm not sure it's quite as good as its predecessors, though - it's bigger in scope, and a lot more chaotic, and it's missing the dynamic of the 3-chap herd that was so central to the first outings. But it still has a huge amount going for it.

My cinema wasn't showing it in 3D, so I can't review that aspect, but the jungle scenes and soaring pterodactyl shots would look incredible, so if you get the chance, that'd be the way to go. A great film all round and, as with the first 2, accessible for all ages.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 16, 2009 8:08 PM BST


Freefall [DVD]
Freefall [DVD]
Dvd ~ Aidan Gillen
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £24.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, if uninformative, BBC drama, 16 July 2009
This review is from: Freefall [DVD] (DVD)
The recession is incomprehensible. Every day, the news waxes financial doom, and we're all having it drummed into us that the world is going to fall into the sun, hugely in debt, and it's because banks did something with money they didn't have. Freefall was touted as a drama that would explain the situation, but it doesn't, really. It's still very much worth watching, though.

It tells 3 stories, I suppose, although it focuses primarily on that of Jim and Mandy, played by Joseph Mawle and Anna Maxwell Martin respectively. They are a young couple with a young family, living in rented accommodation, and when Jim runs into old friend, Dave, he is persuaded into taking a mortgage to buy his first house, just before the financial crash.

Dave, himself, is a cockroach - the sort of chap that drives along in his cockmobile while singing aloud to Gabrielle because he's just earned himself a nice wad of commission. That it'll financially destroy the person that's signed their lives over to the lender is, puh, a petty insignificance. At the start of the film, he's dating a vacuous bint as portrayed by Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding in what turns out to be a (blessedly brief) dizzying showcase of her non-talent.

And, finally, there's Gus - and he's another weak point. The acting is brilliant - I tip my hat to Aidan Gillen - but they've made the character a pantomime caricature. He's twitchy, a coke junkie, soulless, unaware, intimidating... he comes across as having, if not a mental disorder, certainly a personality one. And that's where Freefall lets itself down (no pun intended).

There are no nuances - the baddies are sooper-bad and every bad situation is made the very worst it could be. After all, the financial crisis is serious enough without people losing their jobs, and not only people who are suddenly unemployed are struggling. Its being so heavy-handed and laying it on so thick meant the narrative becomes a little soap opera-ish, when it needn't have been: the *reality* of what's happening is serious enough to sustain a drama.

I don't know if this is a DVD worth actually buying, as it doesn't have too much replay value. But if you do get the chance to watch it once, I'd very much recommend it. It won't tell you about the logistics of the recession, nor explain the ins and outs of the banking industry, but it's well made, well acted (mostly) and it'll give you a healthy contempt for the banking industry. And, frankly, it deserves nothing less.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 25, 2011 7:59 PM BST


CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE: The Greatest Inspirational True Story of All Time
CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE: The Greatest Inspirational True Story of All Time
by David Wilkerson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Christianity really is, 15 July 2009
Christianity is coming under an unprecendented degree of attack these days and, the truth is, I think we've brought some of it on ourselves. There's no condemnation in that - Christians are, for the most part, very loving, and *want* to extend His hand to others - however, we seem to have grown weary and, collectively, we aren't showing the world who Jesus is. I know that if I were to see another Christian write that, my pride would balk at it... but it's the truth. As individuals, we may be doing everything we can; but the church, as a body, is letting people down - both Christians and non-. But David Wilkerson genuinely went out into the world and showed people who Jesus is... and he's still doing it to this day.

Christ tells His followers to love those in need, to feed the poor and to clothe the naked; to give what we have, and never fear about not having enough for ourselves; to bless the people that hate you, to soak their hatred up like a sponge and, in return, give them love. So in the 1960s, David Wilkerson - a small-town preacher - felt led to go to New York, where he went out into the streets and told the gangs about the love of God.

The gangs then were every bit as vicious and hateful and hated as the gangs of today. But, on his own, he spent months and months sleeping in his car so he could be amongst them, loving them. He made no grand gestures - he just kept his word to never leave them, and to love them and hold them even when they threatened his life. It took a long time, but people gradually started coming to Christ. These evil, hateful gang-members - ostensibly soulless in their rage - slowly laid down their hate and accepted new lives as Christians. Nicky Cruz (author of Run Baby Run) is the most famous of the converts, but countless men and women's lives were forever changed.

The Cross and the Switchblade also details God's provisions - how David Wilkerson found God providing a house so he could take in people wanting to change their lives; how He always provided food and mortgage payments just in time, often given through total strangers who felt led to give, turning up on his doorstep with their offering, despite never having heard of him...

In reading this, you see what love in action can actually achieve; how even the most hateful of people are at a loss when faced with the enormity of God's grace and love. Equally, you see how God is still performing miracles, today, here and now. This isn't a silly book for people who are deluded enough to believe in a "sky-fairy". It is a verified, factual, unimpeachable testimony - grounded, reasoned, beautiful and miraculous. If only more of us had the courage and the faith to follow in both Christ's and David Wilkerson's footsteps.

This isn't just a book for Christians. It will inspire and touch and move and bless those who already have faith in Christ. But, even for those who don't, it will show what Christianity really is. When Christians follow Christ's exortations, this is what happens - if you've ever wondered why so many of us follow Him, this will explain, far more succinctly than any apologetics or polemic.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 21, 2014 8:19 AM BST


No Title Available

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5-star everything... except for the film, 14 July 2009
Is there an actress more adorable than Sandra Bullock? I honestly can't think of one. What's more, she's absolutely gorgeous. How can someone so pretty be *that* likeable? Voodoo. Then there's Ryan Reynolds. Ahh, Ryan. Ryan "So Yummy I Make Grown Women, And Myself, Cry" Reynolds. Put them together on screen and you have the makings of one of the best romantic comedies ever. Ever.

But there are problems, and they're big'uns. Reynolds (sigh) and Bullock (I love you!) have zero chemistry. None. Zippo. They have *negative* chemistry. They are to chemistry what black holes are to matter. And yet, individually, they still shine like yummy, adorable stars so, somehow, the lack of chemistry doesn't completely tank the film.

Then there's the plot development. Lookit, it's a romantic comedy about prickly, universally hated editor-lady Bullock and her lapdog assistant Reynolds and their having to fake an engagement so she can legally stay in the States - what with her being a Canadian - and their having to do so at his parent's mansion by a lake somewhere cold over the space of a weekend. It's fairly obvious what happens. And it's lovely that it happens. But the pace of it is preposterous and were any other actors portraying the characters, it would have been a total disaster with the audience having no emotional investment whatsoever. But Reynolds and Bullock are both so likeable, you're rooting for them from the opening scene so, somehow, the pacing doesn't completely tank the film.

Throw in Betty White (ditzy Rose from The Golden Girls) as the barking 90 year-old grandma, the cutest puppy you'll ever see, Mary Steenburgen as the loveliest of mums and some stunning Alaskan scenery and it weaves its spell despite the problems.

You come away from the film not believing a second of it, but being jolly happy you saw it, anyway. Both leads are at their sarcastic best, it's innocent and cheerful and lovely, and it's definitely recommended.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2010 2:36 AM BST


James May's Big Ideas [DVD] [2008]
James May's Big Ideas [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ James May
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £5.35

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful, 13 July 2009
Lovely James. Lovely, lovely James. A man horrid people would find interminably dull but who is, in fact, one of our funniest and cleverest national treasures.

Big Ideas is the follow up to 20th Century, where he explores developing science-y things. The series runs to only 3 episodes (fner) with each lasting an hour (hurrah). In episode 1, he seeks out a better way of travelling. His journey takes him from the depths of Russia to the depths of Sussex, visiting California along the way. There are jetpacks, Russian spy-gliders, tiny helicopters, and even flying cars. This, perhaps predictably, is where he becomes his most giddy and excited.

In episode 2 (the best of the 3 by a country light year) he searches for the most advanced humanoid robots. Naturally much of his time is spent in Japan, where he meets two - what turn out to be hugely unsettling - robots. The first contraption doubles the strength of the tiny woman inside it as she stomps around like the crazy chick in Alien. Next he meets a robot that has been designed to look and act like its creator. It's wicked creepy and James's reaction as he's sitting in front of it is moving, and confirms that he absolutely deserves the epithet of Lovely James.

He also meets 2 "brother" robots, both of whom answer to "Asimo". Literally. The first can walk like we do; it can even handle stairs and run like we do. (You may have seen him [it? Tis an existential minefield!] in a Honda car advert a few years ago... adorable little astronaut-lookin' thing.) His movements - the loping gait - are so lifelike and human it's almost hard to remember it's a robot. The second brother is the more cerebral - this one can see and make value judgements based on the shape it's looking at. While that doesn't sound impressive, in reality it's a massive dealio - value judgements require thought. So is Asimo thinking for itself? The first Asimo is arguably the best bit of the episdode, but each of the 60 minutes of the hour-long programme are simply wonderful, and mustn't be missed.

And finally, in the 3rd installment, he tries to find alternative ways of powering the planet and our everyday lives. He jetsets once more: Spain and Holland, Britain and the States. He meets mad scientists, bent on building an elevator (lift, if you please) to the sky. He meets a Brit whose life's work invloves putting a big, plastic wormy thing in water, converting wave power into energy. Most impressive, perhaps, are the chaps who can make petrol out of thin air.

May is utterly, utterly British. Eccentric, chronically and wonderfully long-winded, unfeasibly clever... very much the sort to dust himself off and pull up his socks. (Creep up behind him, hitch up a trouser-leg and doubtless you'll catch a glimpse of tweed.) But he clearly genuinely loves this stuff. Oh, he's still a melancholy, grumpy old sod, but his excitement is entirely infectious, and his concern for the well-being of the planet (a bit of a knee to Clarksonian nuts) proves that he really is lovely James. Lovely, lovely James.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2012 8:53 AM BST


No Title Available

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think it might actually work, 11 July 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Aye, the packaging is just woeful. Awful. But I think the contents may actually do what it says (grammatically terribly) on the tin...

If you're reading this, chances are you've reached the point where you just want to lose weight and you feel you need help. I think we all reach that point where we suddenly become absolutely desperate to make a change this very second, and finding a tablet that can help feels like we've made a step.

I've been taking these for about 2 weeks now, and I've not had any of the side effects other reviewers seem to have had. No nausea and no other issues... but I've been eating less. I want to expound on that a little, because I don't want to mislead people in any way, especially ones who want to find an answer. I mentioned that feeling of suddenly being depserate to change, and I got that a while back. So I've also been doing more exercise, and my willpower may have kicked in, so perhaps these tablets haven't had anything to do with it, at all.

By the same token, there *has* been a change, and it's genuinely possible that these *have* had a hand in that. If that's the case, they're so worth a go. I've been eating less, but I've also been obsessing about food less... it doesn't occur to me to eat until my tummy starts grumbling now, and that's a real change.

The inclination and desire to snack and munch throughout the day has gone entirely, and when I have my meals, I seem to get fuller a little quicker. Doubtless my stomach has shrunk, so that explains that, but it's absolutely true that once you start losing weight, it seems to come so naturally. When you find your rhythm, you wonder why you ever found it so impossible and agonising.

When things are bad, though, and your food is out of control, you can't fathom how to stop, or how to find some level footing, and I think these may work for that. Combine these with having made the decision to do something and doing a little exercise, and suddenly losing weight isn't an insurmountable behemoth. It's now a process that will take time, but when the changes are so workable, and seem to come so easily, you find you have the patience.

The out of control feeling is horrible, and only people that have issues with food will know it... Hoodia Gordonii definitely isn't a miracle cure, but I really think the feeling of relief that comes with gaining some sense of control over your eating makes having a punt on the tablets very much worth it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 26, 2009 8:32 PM GMT


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