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Mark C

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Canac Keep Off Large 480g
Canac Keep Off Large 480g
Offered by Discountstoreuk
Price: £14.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Hardly works, 27 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Canac Keep Off Large 480g (Misc.)
Yes, you can scare a cat by holding this bottle under its nose, but once you put the blue goo in flower pots, the smell apparently dissipates rapidly and doesn't scare anyone or anything anymore. To be efficient, you'd have to use *buckets* of this stuff. Which I'm sure the manufacturer would love, but...

Offered by Books-and-Sounds
Price: £14.75

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys Unheard, 12 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Format (Audio CD)
FORMAT is the follow-up to ALTERNATIVE, the 1995 Pet Shop Boys b-side-collection. Just like they did for ALTERNATIVE, the Boys talked to Jon Savage about the songs. The interview, however, is much shorter than the one in the ALTERNATIVE booklet - and this is an indication of something.
Nonchalantly breezing past their own songs, the Boys leave an impression of laziness, as if the interview is done on autopilot. This is not absolutely true, because Chris Lowe is entertaining and witty as ever. But compare this interview to the one in BILINGUAL / FURTHER LISTENING 1995-1997: while talking about much the same songs, the BILINGUAL interview is thorough and chockfull of detail, the FORMAT interview superficial. Another example would be the part about the song `We're all criminals now', where Neil mentions that this song came out of `the phase in our history where we're al concerned with terrorism and ID cards are proposed to prove who you are'. For the casual PSB fan, this `phase' could stand some more historical context. And how do the Boys look back at this `phase' today? In summary, this interview leaves a lot to be desired.

The Boys themselves maintain that the b-side is a place to experiment. There is indeed some experimentation going on here. Or rather: imitation. The excellent `The truck-driver and his mate' is their take on Oasis. `Betrayed' is jungle (and just dreadful). `Disco Potential' tries very hard to be a Prodigy track. `Silver Age' finds the Boys doing a Massive Attack impression (and they do it really well), `The ghost of myself' winks at Britney Spears' `Hit me baby (one more time)'. Finally, `Party song' toys around with the melody of Nirvana's `Smells like teen spirit' and `Nightlife' ventures into Bee Gees territory.

Whereas ALTERNATIVE is one of the best PSB-albums out there, FORMAT is exactly what it says on the box: a b-side collection. There is very little a-side-material here, but the album is worth the purchase for a handful of gems (and a wealth of okay left-over material).
On `The truck-driver and his mate' and `Sexy Northerer', the Boys rock and it's an awful lot of fun. Both songs should have been on albums. I also enjoyed techno stompers like `Blue on blue' and `Transparent'. The joyous `Up and down' should been a single, and the same goes for `I didn't get where I am today', one of my all-time favourite Pet Shop Boys tracks. I can understand why this was relegated to b-side-status, since the lyrics are blatantly autobiographical, but still: this is an awesome song. It gets positive attention in nearly every press and customer review about FORMAT.
Also very impressive are the precious, moody ballads `Silver Age' and `Always'.

You could draw two conclusions about FORMAT. One: 8 excellent tracks out of 38 is not great. Two: even a b-side collection provides enough good tracks to fill a complete album. Take the 8 songs I mentioned above and add 4 more, decent ones: `The calm before the storm', `Friendly fire', `The former enfant terrible' and `The Resurrectionist' and there you go: "Pet Shop Boys Unheard".
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2012 6:29 PM GMT

The Emperor of All Maladies
The Emperor of All Maladies
by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Edition: Hardcover

86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our perfect madness, 17 Feb. 2011
Cancer is an enormous subject: its influence on the history of medicine, on society, on politics... can't be over-estimated. Somebody was bound to take the risk of trying to capture all of this in one book. `I started off by imagining my project as a "history" of cancer. But it felt, inescapably, as if I were writing not about something but about someone. My subject daily morphed into something that resembled an individual - an enigmatic, if somewhat deranged, image in a mirror.' So Siddhartha Mukherjee, cancer physician and researcher, redefined his project: it became `a biography of cancer' - although `a thrilling piece of sublime literary non-fiction' captures the book just as well.

Mukherjee starts off the book on familiar ground: a woman being asked to return to the hospital as soon as possible, because something has shown up in the tests she underwent. This something is leukemia, a liquid cancer, and it catapults us back in time: to 1847, when the term leukemia was coined.
The first chapter is dedicated to the earliest known cases of cancer. We consider cancer a "modern" illness (and it is, because only in the last two centuries have we started to grow old enough for cancer to become the second most common cause of death) but there are some freakishly ancient occurrences. Atossa (550 > 475 BC), queen of Persia, had her breast cut off - a breast cancer that even made an army change direction. (I'm not going to explain this: it's one of the mesmerizing anecdotes you have to read for yourself.) And then there's the Peruvian mummy with a thousand year old preserved cancer. `It is hard to look at the [mummy] tumor and not come away with the feeling that one has encountered a powerful monster in its infancy', Mukherjee observes.
This same chapter also introduces one of the book's "heroes": the pediatric pathologist Sidney Farber, whose research produced the first-ever remission in a leukemia patient. He was the man who realised that, to get the funding for large-scale cancer research, the disease, any disease `needed to be marketed, just as a political campaign needed marketing. A disease needed to be transformed politically before it could be transformed scientifically.'

The second chapter, `An impatient war', focuses on a double war. First battlefield: the political struggle, the perception of science by politicians and the public. Second battlefield: the first attempts at chemotherapy, `near-complete devastation' of a patient, in an attempt to stamp out any trace of the evil.
In the subsequent chapters, Mukherjee writes about patients demanding visibility - as late as the 1950s, the New York Times refused to take an ad for a support group for women with breast cancer, claiming neither the word "breast" nor "cancer" were suitable for print - and a more humane form of care. About the influence of feminism and HIV on cancer treatments. About the slow process of finding the correlation between smoking and lung cancer and the even slower process of accepting this scientific fact.

Finally, we return to cellular level and learn more about the nature and origin of cancer. These last two chapters are a more difficult read, because the more one discovers about the workings of cancer, the more complex it all becomes.

In passing, we learn more about the working of DNA, about the medical definition of the word `cause', about the discovery of X-rays (first thought to be a cure for cancer, but turning out to be a major catalyst of the disease), and much, much more. The emperor of all maladies is an unputdownable piece of medical history, with breakthroughs, competition, pipe dreams and disappointments, Eureka!-moments and the odd incidence of deceit. Reading this book is a rewarding as well as a highly enjoyable experience: here is some excellent non-fiction, with elements of horror, adventure novel and science fiction. Muhkerjee's exploration of cancer - from a factual, historical, biological and poetic point of view - changes your way of thinking about the disease.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 5, 2012 11:38 PM BST

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