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M. J MUIR "J" (United Kingdom)

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Offered by DVDMAX-UK
Price: £7.90

25 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sanitised, Hoxton Square garbage, 23 Feb. 2008
This review is from: 19 (Audio CD)
Each to their own, and you can rightly say that if I don't like it I don't have to buy/ listen to it, but every time I flick the radio or TV on these days there's some media pseud waxing lyrical about the latest angsty, warbling, white female teen soul singer from North London, or worse - the actual output of these "sensations" hogging airtime.
And I just feel we're all being conned here.
"Chasing Pavements" is, I suppose, a nice enough little tune if that's your thing, but genius? Evidence of extreme talent? Give me a break!
It's got the kind of melody anyone remotely musical could come up with and perfect whilst abluting in the shower, and the kind of angsty, self indulgent lyrics that beg for a quick toe in the b-hind and an instruction to go forth and live life.

In fact - now I've ranted a bit that's exactly what I'm going to do.
"should I give up?" - yes, please....
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2011 3:41 PM BST

The Shining [DVD] [1980]
The Shining [DVD] [1980]
Dvd ~ Jack Nicholson
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So unendingly bleak, 30 Nov. 2007
This review is from: The Shining [DVD] [1980] (DVD)
If hell exists, the shining envisions it.
Bleak - this is the best word to describe this film. The weather is bleak, the setting is bleak and cavernous, the ghosts and hallucinations are chilling, devoid of feeling, manipulative, bleak.

Is Torrance simply going mad, or being influenced? What's driving him? Is it the ghosts of past events, or his own consciousness filling the void of isolation, or a bit of both?
Despite the supernatural visitations you never quite know, and this is what makes this film so chilling and unbelievably bleak - Jack could simply be a victim of his own insane consciousness.

Without ever resorting to extreme gore or shocks, Kubrick creates a vision of hell, a vision of the void that will sear itself onto your mind.
Unlike many horror flicks, this one becomes more disturbing the older you get.

A true horror, a real vision of hell. Watch it, but if you're sensitive, don't watch it too often!

The Crying Of Lot 49
The Crying Of Lot 49
by Thomas Pynchon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to Thomas Pynchon, 18 Oct. 2007
This review is from: The Crying Of Lot 49 (Paperback)
Some people will find Thomas Pynchons's style almost inpenetrable(it's been described by critics as turgid and overwritten before) - so rather than getting stuck straight into V or Gravity's Rainbow (500 pages +) those who wish to read Thomas Pynchon may like to try this first at a little over 100 pages.

Although there are many comic scenes in the book the overall effect is starkly melancholy, as the main character, Oedipa Maas, prompted by the contents of an ex-lover's estate of which she is unexpectedly made executrix, obsessively pursues a secret postal service with medieval roots in Europe, which appears to exert a malign yet unclear effect on society...or does it? The book never answers this, as it ends just as Oedipa may be about to find an answer.

Instead the reader is left with a bleak sense of Oedipa's growing paranoia, neurosis and unhealthy fixation with the apparent secret society, in a likely metaphor for conspiracy theorists and cults everywhere. It's a funny book, but the madness of obsession and paranoia are well conveyed in the subtext of the plot, and might leave you feeling creeped.......

Deluded by Dawkins? A Christian Response to the God Delusion
Deluded by Dawkins? A Christian Response to the God Delusion
by Andrew Wilson
Edition: Paperback

20 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this book, 23 Aug. 2007
I was seduced by Dawkin's arguments, but on reflection i don't think anyone can take his arguments too seriously - certainly not as seriously as he takes them himself. this book is a good articulation of the fallibility in some of his logic.

Mr Sj Lawson -
Who designed the designer?
Nothing - nobody, an answer at which you will certainly scoff, but let me go further.
Dawkins asserts that, since the probability of our own existence is low, the probability of an even more complex God existing must be lower still.

Is Dawkins trying to suggest God is something complex like we are, with, for example organs and a genome?

We can equivocate about what this God we're arguing is, but let's say God is something which exists outside of time and space, is not solely physical and created the universe and therefore created probability itself. If evolution is a function of time, and God exists outside of time, and god created the physical and hence probability, then it's difficult to envisage how God could have evolved or be a being which is complex in the way we are, and be subject to the rules of probability. It's difficult to see how something which transcends nature is subject itself to the laws of nature. The who designed the designer idea is just re-hashed "we can't measure God therefore we shouldn't believe in it".

Secondly, the probability of our existence is by most accounts 0, so a) how do we get a lower probability than 0 and b) we exist, or appear to anyway.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 22, 2008 4:46 PM BST

The God Delusion
The God Delusion
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Paperback

15 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Faith - we've all got it..., 18 July 2007
This review is from: The God Delusion (Paperback)
This book just strikes me as weird, and bigoted. There are some good points in it - for example, what is the probability of a complex superbeing's existence if the probability of our own existence is low? But then again, nobody really knows how to apply stats to this question because we do appear to exist, but by general consensus the likelihood of this is 0. Could it be god exists beyond the realm of stats, probability and the testable? A deeply unsatisfying possibility for all you systemisers out there.
After that though, the book just gets lost in so much ranting about crusades and fundamentalism, as if atheist ideologies such as marxism have not been as, if not more, damaging. I also wish strong atheists would simply be honest, and admit they have a faith there is no God. The evidence for or against god can be interpreted in different ways, and ultimately your faith decides how - it's not a debate with a certain conclusion so far. This for me is the trouble with Empiricism - it's great for understanding simply things, it's out of its depth when applied to anything complex and multi-factorial.
Have I changed after readin this book? The answer is no - not really, but one thing I have realised is that atheism can be as intolerant, self righteous and convinced of its own rectitude as fundamentalist religion. I hope atheism doesn't go down the Dawkins route - we're all differnet, but one thing we do have in common is that we have to live on planet earth, so it's in our interest to get along with one another.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2009 5:19 PM BST

Yes Man
Yes Man
by Danny Wallace
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars amusing in places - but what's it all about?!, 24 July 2006
This review is from: Yes Man (Paperback)
OK - it's quite a well written piece of Gonzo journalism, easy to read with a couple of moments which made me snigger, but what is the meaning of this book? Perhaps it's just light entertainment, but I don't think people will be saying "yes" to everything as a result of reading it.

The book is also a bit self consciously wacky, and there are lots of those types of books around (Googlewhack adventure, round Ireland with a fridge etc.), and a bit like the people Danny Wallace produces/ fraternises with (think Ross Noble or Dave Gorman).

It's not a bad book - just a bit lightweight. If you want to read a piece of Gonzo journalism which will make you laugh out loud and challenge the way you think about things, try anything by Hunter S. Thompson.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 7, 2008 12:59 PM GMT

Under Fire (Penguin Modern Classics)
Under Fire (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Robin Buss
Edition: Paperback

66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest - a classic., 10 May 2004
This was a great book. I have read many, to try to understand and remember what my recent ancestors endured. This is one of the four definitive memoirs or autobiographical novels I have read on the subject. The others are All quiet, Storm of Steel and Her Privates We.
Storm of Steel, whilst having a certain melancholy, could not be described as anti-war! Her Privates We takles the position that warfare is sometimes necessary. All Quiet is famously anti-war. Under Fire is anti war, anti capitalist, anti class system, in some ways anarchic.
Barbusse was already a recognised author when he started this novel, and he wrote much of it whilst still in the Trenches. In my opinion, the characteristic trait of this novel are the lucid, visual descriptions of the battles and the field in which they occurred as a barren, consuming hell of mud, fire and death, and the men as having been reduced to barbarous troglodytes by the unending and pitiless misery of their existence.
Perhaps only a mind in which the scars of such an experience were still fresh could have penned such descriptive prose. The opening passage, in which men descend inexorably upon France from all over Europe to fight each other is shocking and moving.
The final chapters, in which the ordinary poilus find themselves philosophising (believably)over war, then mass hallucinate as an army of warmongers materialises from all corners of the horizon and pushes back the sky even more so. A stunning vision, which brought a lump to my throat.
Thyis book was out of print for years, and who's to say it will remain in print. Robin Buss's tranlation does the book great justice, so buy it whilst you can.

Liszt: Études d'exécution transcendente (1851 version)
Liszt: Études d'exécution transcendente (1851 version)
Offered by Books-and-Sounds
Price: £4.75

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ha! a gem for £4.99, 14 April 2002
I am an avowed fan of Liszt, and the ever reliable Mr Jando again gives a thoroughly good performance in a uniformly high quality recording.
Liszt is something that Jando seems, generally, to do well. There is an interesting comparison to e made between this and recordings of the same pieces made by Sviatoislav Richter availabvle from Deutsche Gramaphon. Jando, though far less famous, does not suffer too much by comparison (dare I suggest it!).
the highlight of this has to be "Harmonies du Soir." This is an electrifying piece of music, at least in it's final 1852 version (not sure about the earlier versions, although i do like John Ogdon's rendition of the 1834 version).
Jeno Jando doesn't dissapoint, and gives a performance which rocks you back in your seat, and, were it performed in a concert hall, would leave you speechless at its climax!!!
I'm glad to hear Jeno Jando is now getting the recognition he deserves as the most recorded pianist currently recording, and this piece in particular gets a treatment worthy of a more famous pianist.
Have you listened to Chopin until the track has worn off your CD? Are you looking for something a bit different from Beethoven's sonatas (don't get me wrong, I love both Chopin and Beethoven)? These etudes represent Liszt at his best.
Following his influence by the poetic, unendingly melodious pianism of Chopin, he toned down some of the showmanship of his early works, which some, particularly here in the UK find vulgar, and forged his own brand of muscular, virile, explosive piano music, which, whilst never quite matching the natural tonality of Chopin, wsas far, far more than a merely a vehicle for showing off his own formidable technique, as it is sometimes branded.
So, for all you fans of Chopin/Schumann/all those other great romantic composers whose work is better known in this country, start here with this high quality and inexpensive recording. Go straigth to track 11, and prepare to be challenged, yet quite possibly also won over!!

Piano Concerto No. 1 (Rpo)
Piano Concerto No. 1 (Rpo)
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: £7.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revelation, 15 Feb. 2002
I already owned the triple concerto, so I thought I'd buy this one to complete the selection.
There are some interesting and high quality budget recordings around at the moment in classical music, mainly from the Naxos catalogue and rereleases from labels such as Phillips and EMI. This new recording must rank with the best of them.
I own several recordings of the "Emperor," and as it's name suggests it shows beethoven at his imperious best. The dominant musical figure of his era, and one of the dominant musical figures of all time composed, in the 5th, probably his greatest and certainly most famous piano works.
The music, whilst sensuous, is at once masculine, strong and serious as almost all beethoven's music is, yet it also has a flamboyance that, whilst never excessive or vulgar, is the subtle nuance that differentiates it from the other piano concertos by the composer. Written late in his life, and just as deafness was starting to prevent him from playing himself, he had really crossed the line between the classical school and the Romantic era by this stage.
As for the performance, well, the royal Philharmonic play as well as one would expect of one of Britain's premier orchestras, and Howard Shelley leads a brisk and rousing tempo. The real revelation of the piece, however, has to be the soloist Michael Roll. My first purchase in the series was the triple, and probably like many who have purchased these CDs, I asked myself "Michael who?" It was Naxos who first made the assertion that there were sufficient numbers of exceptional musicians out there to make good recordings without having to fork out tens of thousands to have Vladimir Ashkenazy et al., gracing your CD, and this only proves the point.
I own several recordings of this piece, including famous recordings by famous soloists such as Daniel Barenboim, the late Wilhelm Kempff and John Lill. These people have won the prizes and have (or had) the big names, yet Roll's playing displays a virtuosity that equals them all apart, possibly, from Kempff's. He displays, even by the standards of a concert pianist, an incredible manual dexterity. The 5th demands virtuosity, and also makes physical demands of the pianists that attempt it. There are several occasions during the piece when the pianists finds himself with his hands at opposite ends of the keyboard. moving in completely opposite directions. Inspite of this, at no time do you feel that Roll is struggling. He also, and this is the hardest part, manages to endow the rendition with subtlety and feeling. This is what sets great recordings of a piece such as this apart from good ones. Roll does it.
This pianists is clearly better than his level of recognition would suggest. At the price this CD is a worthy addition to anybody's collection, no matter how experienced, and a brilliant starter for those new to classical music who want to learn about a figure who was, arguably, one of the two greatest composers ever.

Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rpo)
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rpo)
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was impressed by the quality of this recording..., 11 Feb. 2002
for the price. I didn't own the triple concerto, and thought this would be a good opportunity to get a recording.
The playing of Michael Roll is very good, and he is renowned for his Beethoven. The royal philharmonic are a good orchestra too. At this price, you can't complain.

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