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Gavin Wilson

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Dear John - Series 1 [DVD]
Dear John - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ralph Bates
Offered by A1-Media
Price: £13.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I remembered..., 28 Aug. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dear John - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
This is another of those delayed releases which got better and better in the memory simply because you couldn't get it. Now it's finally available, I have to say that the whole thing looks a bit thin. The late Ralph Bates provides very few laughs, but then he was more of a Hammer film actor than a comedian, and it was his character's job to be poignant and sympathetic. I believe this was Belinda Lang's first major TV role, and again she doesn't have many funny lines, except the put-downs she delivers towards Kirk St Moritz. It was her job basically to be stunningly beautiful, thereby posing the inevitable two questions "How on earth could she be frigid?" and "When is she going to go out with John?".

To my mind, the only reason this series has legs are the great two characterisations of Ralph and Kirk. I hate to think how many times, in the 25 years since this series was first shown, have I used his inappropriate punch-line "That's the kind of guy I am".

It's probably fitting that these DVDs are released so soon after the death of the underrated Peter Denyer, who plays Ralph. He was fantastic as Dennis in 'Please Sir' and 'The Fenn Street Gang', he was good in 'Agony', and he was superb as the bespectacled Ralph in 'Dear John'.

But I have to say that having watched Series 1, I'm in two minds about buying Series 2. The thinness of the material provides a good argument for the team-writing ethos used in US sitcoms such as friends. But John Sullivan was clearly highly rated at the BBC at the time, not too long after his success with 'Citizen Smith', and they even let him write the theme tune, which frankly, though memorable, is also a bit thin.

Asus Eee (7 inch) Netbook 900MHz 512MB 4GB Linux (White)
Asus Eee (7 inch) Netbook 900MHz 512MB 4GB Linux (White)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How now?, 8 Aug. 2010
The Eee was, and to some extent still is, a wonderful device. It is light and much smaller than most devices that today claim to be a 'netbook'. The Linux version boots up so quickly, that it puts Microsoft to shame. It is very chea.

But, a couple of years on, there are some problems.

For a start, there's the limited page width. To see the right-hand side of any Firefox page, you have to move the on-screen slider across. To connect to any secured Wi-fi modem, you have to key in the access code every time, unless you have switched across to the advanced mode of the operating system. Both of these limitations cast a bit of a downer on a machine that is primarily for connecting to the Web.

Installing new software is not at all user-friendly compared to Windows. Even upgrading a software version requires you to go out to the Internet to look for help to find the precise statements you need to use. And most users will now be in that boat, because there's a new version of Firefox out there, and every time you use the new Windows Live Hotmail you get a warning that you need to upgrade your browser. If you don't, Hotmail misbehaves.

I have both the Linux and XP versions of the 701, as well as a Linux version of the 1000H. I would NOT recommend putting XP on the 701. It runs like a dog. Each Wednesday is particularly bad, assuming Microsoft has been following its 'Patch Tuesday' policy and releasing all sorts of mandatory XP updates. 512MB is not sufficient for XP these days. With this processor, you cannot really do two jobs concurrently on XP.

Do not get me wrong. The 701 was the first product I bought from Asus, and I think they build great products. I can't wait for their tablet Eee. The Linux-based 701 could have destroyed much of Microsoft's laptop business, but it was let down by either Asus's choice of Linux or the Linux community. I don't know enough about Linux to say. If there is a Linux which enables you to upgrade and install software with the push-button ease of Windows, that is what is needed for the Eee.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2011 3:57 PM BST

Tutti Frutti [DVD] [1987]
Tutti Frutti [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Robbie Coltrane
Price: £6.99

2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A production of its time and place, 31 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tutti Frutti [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
Like some other reviewers, I was disappointed by this series. I admit I am a southerner, and I found the dialogue very difficult to follow for long periods. The sound is poorly recorded (mono) by today's standards, and several of the characters fail to pronounce consonants clearly. The only actors I could always understand were Richard Wilson and the non-Scottish one, i.e. Emma Thompson.

Another aspect I found annoying was the constant aggression and needling between the characters. If this is at all representative of the prevailing Scottish attitude today, I am not surprised that life expectancy is among the lowest in the UK. Lighten up, guys! Try being nice to each other!

And Robbie Coltrane may be able to dance, of sorts, but his mimed singing and keyboards playing are poorly concealed.

There have been plenty of comedies about 'crap bands on the road' since this one, and most of them are better, in my opinion.

What I most enjoyed about this DVD was the closing credits for each episode. And without Tutti Frutti, arguably we might not have seen 'Absolutely' or 'Rab C Nesbitt'.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 21, 2012 11:06 AM BST

Revolutions: The Very Best Of Steve Winwood
Revolutions: The Very Best Of Steve Winwood

19 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shame about the absent tracks..., 4 May 2010
It's bad enough that this 4CD compilation excludes Winwood's magnificent organ on Hendrix's 'Voodoo Chile'. But it's absolutely unforgivable that 'Dream Gerrard', one of prog-rock's really outstanding tracks, should be left out. Even the previous 4CD Winwood compilation -- 1995's 'The Finer Things -- included that opus.

And watch out for some of the later Traffic tracks on CD#2. Hopefully they are the live versions from the excellent 'On the Road'; the studio album versions are, without exception, inferior.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2010 11:11 AM BST

Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008]
Brideshead Revisited [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Emma Thompson
Price: £5.11

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Biggleswade Reshafted, 19 April 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There is plenty here to infuriate Brideshead fans, a group of which I count myself a member. And yet I don't begrudge the two hours I spent watching this DVD last night. On reflection, I enjoyed spotting as many of the deviations from the novel as I could. And I spotted an homage to 'Don't Look Now' in one of the nocturnal canal scenes in Venice, so I wonder if there are others.

As others have noted, the biggest sin committed by this screenplay is the role of Julia. In the novel, Sebastian goes downhill as a by-product of the pernicious cycle of his increased drinking and escapism causing his mother to track his movements more intensely, which leads to more drinking etc. In this movie, Julia goes to Venice with Charles and Sebastian -- I don't recall that in the novel -- and it is Sebastian catching a snatched kiss between Charles and Julia which drives him to solitude and heavier drinking. In the novel Julia doesn't become the 'love of Charles's life' until his marriage to Celia deteriorates; this movie suggests that Charles knows she is the one as soon as he lights a cigarette for her in the car journey from the station.

So many great cameo performances from the TV series have been omitted from this movie. Anthony Blanche barely gets a look-in, disabled German Kurt gets 10 seconds, and the fellow student that John Gielgud pretended was an American at dinner -- definitely the funniest moment of the TV series and audio CD -- has vanished.

You must, must, must buy the TV series DVD first, before this. This is the remixed pop video version -- equally sumptuous, but with the plot very changed and abridged. I would also recommend the audio CD narrated by Jeremy Irons -- he does the voices, particularly of Charles's father -- so well.

Reich: Music for 18 Musicians
Reich: Music for 18 Musicians
Price: £13.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding -- the definitive five-star album, 10 April 2010
There was something about the later phase of the 1970s that encouraged the creation of three progressive masterpieces consisting of at most two tracks: Tangerine Dream's RICOCHET, Steve Reich's MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS, and Keith Jarrett's SURVIVORS SUITE. I own over 2,000 CDs, and I would unreservedly place all three of the albums in my Top 10.

I cannot add much to what other reviewers here have written about '18'. It is the most hypnotic piece of music I know. Despite its age, this is much the best recording. The audio separation of the instruments -- particularly the bass woodwind and the piano -- is distinctly superior to the Nonesuch version, for which I had such high hopes, only to be dashed by the slurry that emerged.

That ECM have produced it as a single track may infuriate MP3 rippers and home movie producers wishing to use an extract as a backing track for their video. And I have some sympathy for the view that listening to the whole lot in one sitting can prove wearing. You'll just have to work around this limitation. '18' is a brilliant album in so many contexts: listen to it in the car, or while you're working, or even to drive your parents away -- it's now 32 years since my Mum first complained about this repetitive music I was playing in my bedroom; and it still makes her mad!

You have to get this particular CD. No serious modern music collection can be without it.

That'll Teach You!
That'll Teach You!
by Michael James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.48

4.0 out of 5 stars A book that might have changed schoolteacher procedure, 9 Mar. 2010
This review is from: That'll Teach You! (Paperback)
This is an enthralling, hard-to-put-down book, in part because we are told that much of the story is based upon true events. However, I feel the story weakens when it departs from the truth: the author didn't go to jail, and some of what followed from that point seemed like a hackneyed tale of the darker side of prison life, perhaps inspired by the Strangeways riot, some prison movies, and a prison visit. Once Susan Bennett is out of the picture, the story becomes a cliche.

I also felt uncomfortable about the level of hate that Mark Stephens felt towards the girl and the investigating PC. Objectively he should have directed more of his bitterness towards the system.

I sense that classroom practice has changed since this book was written. Teachers now try to avoid being in a room alone with a pupil, and will always endeavour to leave the door open. And now every state school has an appointed child protection officer, there is a much more rigid policy over reporting discussions with pupils to a central point. If these changes arose in part out of this book, then well done, Mr James!

Kitaro: Live in America
Kitaro: Live in America
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £3.36

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the worst CD in my collection, 4 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Kitaro: Live in America (Audio CD)
Infantile melodies, overblown orchestral arrangements, ridiculous New Age associations, duped US audience -- why ever did I buy this?? Prefer Andreas Vollenweider every time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 24, 2010 5:09 AM BST


3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing if you know only the singles, 1 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Kongos (Audio CD)
If like me, you came to this album because you remember the two percussion-driven singles, 'He's gonna step on you again' and 'Tokoloshe Man', you will likely be badly let down by the rest of the material here. (To my uneducated ear, it sounds like Billy Joel.)

'Step on you again' was a magnificent single, not just because of its fade-in, fade-out sound, but also because of the band's appearance on 'Top of the Pops', in which a laid-back cast of seemingly hundreds had a sit-in, playing their percussion and generally having a rather cool time.

Note, among the backing musicians and production team, a number of Elton John connections. But who cares, really?

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