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Paul Johnson

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Opening Up - My Autobiography
Opening Up - My Autobiography
by Mike Atherton
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest, 22 July 2005
Mike Atherton was one of very few top class players England had during the early to mid 90's, though many seem to underrate him. I never found him especially interesting in interview however and it was some time after it's release that I finally got round to reading his autobiography.
What a mistake.
This is an excellently written (proving Atherton's intelligence - no ghost writers here) completely honest account of his life and provides some fascinating insights into his career and captaincy of England. Let's face it the captaincy was a tough draw at the time what with the poor range of players we had to select from and Atherton is completely open about the problems faced.
The only criticism I can find it that if anything the whole thing is slightly too analytical and I don't really get the impression you get to know Mike Atherton all that well from reading it.
Die-hard cricket fans will enjoy it (indeed most will no doubt already have read it) but for people on the fringe of being cricket fans, I would recommend this book also.

Shane Warne: My Autobiography
Shane Warne: My Autobiography
by Shane Warne
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cricket Fans Only Need Apply!, 22 July 2005
Though it pains me to say it, what with him being an Aussie, Warne is quite possibly the greatest cricketer of all time and certainly (as Wisden decided) one of the top five. As such, any cricket fan would bound to be interested in his autobiography. It is however a disappointment.
Warne has always been colourful both on and off the field and a lot of his off-field antics have gained a great deal of publicity. In the book he attempts to explain away all of the situations he found himself in, whilst always attempting to show that nothing was his fault in any way. Put frankly he comes across as a whiner.
The chapters about his early years and going to the accademy are interesting enough, though I would have enjoyed more detail be provided about how he developed his incredible action. The book starts to struggle towards the end and as mentioned previously turns into a torrent of feeble excuses that you would expect a schoolboy to trott out to a teacher.


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff, 22 July 2005
This review is from: P.U.L.S.E (Audio CD)
I'm told, having never seen them myself, that Floyd are one of the best live bands there has ever been. Certainly their shows were supposed to be spectacular for reasons other than just the music.
Sadly it seems this is the closest I will ever get to hearing them live and it is a decent enough substitute.
The first disc is mostly their newer material, though Shine On You Crazy Diamond (an outstanding track) and Astronomy Domine are there as well to provide some input from their earlier work. Personally I prefer their earlier work so this disc is the weaker of the two in my opinion.
The second disc starts with a complete workthrough of Dark Side Of The Moon and it is impressive just how well they have managed to re-create the whole album. All the tracks segue into one an other as they do on the studio recording and it demonstrates just how skillful they are as musicians. Following Dark Side there are some encore tracks including the track that most people would expect to see somewhere in a live set by Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here. Again that is well played and mimics the album recording well (from the tuning of the radio at the intro). We then have Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell. Comfortably Numb is well performed and to my mind the best track on the album, with Gilmour doing an especially impressive solo.
The album itself is well recorded and the overall package is nice with a well produced booklet accompanying the CD's. It's actually not a bad place to start if you've not heard much of Floyd's work before as there is a smattering of everything here which would allow you to decide where to start with their studio albums.
Floyd fans themselves will enjoy it I'm sure.

Wimbledon [DVD] (2004)
Wimbledon [DVD] (2004)
Dvd ~ Kirsten Dunst
Price: £2.74

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Shame, 20 July 2005
This review is from: Wimbledon [DVD] (2004) (DVD)
Where I say a shame, I don't mean to do down the film. Far from it. This is an example of romantic comedy at it's best, the thing that is a shame is the fact that the only way a Brit can win Wimbledon is in a film!
As for the film itself, it follows Peter Colt (Paul Bettany), an ageing Tim Henman type player (promised lots, delivered little), as he goes into the final tournament of his professional career. We are introduced to the fact that throughout his career he has never had the hunger to really make the final step from being a skilled player to being a world-beater and he does not hold out much hope for his final appearance at Wimbledon.
However, just before the tournament he meets Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst) who is the latest hot player on the womens tour. The two have an instant attraction to each other, and start a relationship which seems to have a healthy effect on his game, but a destabilising effect on hers.
There are some good supporting characters from Lizzies father, excellently played by Sam Neill through to his parents again well acted by Bernard Hill and Eleanor Bron. The only really weak character is Ron Roth, the two players agent who is little more than a characature given easy gags that are not especially funny.
I found myself enjoying this despite myself (romantic comedies are not normally my thing) and would recommend it to anyone except single blokes!

Along Came Polly [DVD] [2004]
Along Came Polly [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Ben Stiller
Offered by figswigs
Price: £2.45

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Standard Stiller, 20 July 2005
It's starting to appear that Ben Stiller is pretty much a one trick pony. Since I first saw him in Something About Mary (his best film in my opinion), he has made playing the lead in romantic comedies his own and this is more of the same.
Here Stiller plays something of a control freak who's life falls apart after he catches his wife having an affair whilst on their honeymoon. He subsequently starts a relationship with Polly (Aniston) who is completely different to him (i.e. life completely out of control). There are some laugh out loud moments as Stiller is forced to endure situations he is clearly uncomfortable with.
For me it is Aniston who is the better of the two leads in this movie. Since first appearing in Friends she has turned into a first rate comedy actress and she shines in this as she does in most things.
Overall the film is diverting enough, though not the sort of thing you would watch more than once. That being the case, hire it, don't buy it!

Vernon God Little
Vernon God Little
by Tanya Ronder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth The Effort, 19 July 2005
This review is from: Vernon God Little (Paperback)
Personally I found this book hard work to start with and after about 50 pages I considered giving up. I'm glad that I did not.
It has been compared to Catcher in the Rye and I can see why, both from the disaffected youth to the language used. It was the style of writing that I found difficult to start with but after a while when I was atuned to it, the whole thing became easier. I suspect this is a book that would do well from multiple readings.
The main character of the book, Vernon Little is a suspect in a crime that we initially know involves a killing, though we only find out just how severe it is later in the book. It makes some barbed attacks on the power of the media which seem relevant at the present time and has some fairly neat twists towards the end.
As this is DBC Pierre's first novel I have to say I am most impressed and look forwards to reading some more of his work.

Canon IXUS i Digital Camera, Platinum Silver [4MP]
Canon IXUS i Digital Camera, Platinum Silver [4MP]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple & Neat, 17 July 2005
I've had this camera for little over a year now and use it frequently. When I bought it, my main criteria was that the camera should be as small as possible and this certainly fits the bill. Unlike some small cameras, Canon do not seem to have sacrificed quality at all. I've seen some small cameras with poor quality screens but the one on this is very high quality.
There are lots of functions to play with which if I'm honest I've not really got into as it was intended to be a snapshot camera, but it also takes reasonable quaility video which is useful at times.
Pictures are about 2.5Mb a go if you set it to it's highest resolution but considering how cheap SD cards are these days it's not really a problem. I use a 512Mb card which gives >200 pictures which I think is fine.
The only drawback to this camera is the lack of optical zoom. The digital zoom does not seem to work all that well either and I've found that if there is something I want to zoom in on I'm better off just taking the picture normally and zooming in using software on my PC. The resolution of images is high enough to allow zooming on the PC to produce good enough quality images.

Salter 1004 SSDR stainless steel square electronic kitchen scales
Salter 1004 SSDR stainless steel square electronic kitchen scales
Offered by Deals On The Net
Price: £27.98

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish & Simple, 17 July 2005
I bought these scales for my mother and am extremely impressed with them myself. They look stylish and the neat design makes them extremely easy to clean. You can swap between imperial and metric weights at the touch of a button which is useful and being able to continually re-zero the scales is great for weighing out multiple ingredients. For example, you place your bowl on the scales, zero it, weigh out your first ingredient, zero again with the bowl and the first thing still there, add the second ingredient etc. Much easier than using mass balance scales.

Panasonic SD253 Breadmaker with Nut Dispenser
Panasonic SD253 Breadmaker with Nut Dispenser

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Impulse Purchase!, 17 July 2005
I bought this because I saw it on the home page of Amazon. I had never considered buying a breadmaker before but liked the look of this and I am pleased I decided to buy it.
It is so simple to use with excellent instructions and a well thought out control panel and display. Making bread in this really is as simple as just weighing out the ingredients as directed in the handbook and dumping them into the machine. You have to do no extra preparation and the bread that comes out tastes fantastic. The book contains information on making all sorts of different types of bread and they are all worth trying. The nut dispenser allows you to add further to the bread and I use that a lot. It is definately worth going for this machine over the slightly cheaper version without the nut dispenser.
One neat feature that I like is the ability to set a countdown timer for when the machine should start to make the bread. It is great to set the thing up in the evening to start making bread early in the morning which means you wake to the lovely smell of fresh bread and have a nice fresh loaf for breakfast!
If you buy this, you will never buy a loaf of bread from the shops again.

Netgear WGR614UK Wireless 54G Cable Router
Netgear WGR614UK Wireless 54G Cable Router

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple To Use, 17 July 2005
Before getting this router I had no experience with either networking or wireless so something easy to setup was a must for me. I was not disappointed. The router has a webserver built in so the setup is done via a web page and after filling in a couple of dialog boxes and selecting some items from dropdown lists I was away. It really was that simple.
Security was easy to do as well which is pretty important (it amazes me how many networks my laptop will find that are unprotected) though I've found that if you use 128 bit encryption the wireless range drops quite a lot. As a result I've set it up using 64 bit encryption which I'm sure will still be secure enough and the range is fine. Careful placement of the router will give you full wireless coverage anywhere in a reasonably sized house.
Windows XP has made home networks a lot easier to setup and along with this router, I would suggest anyone would be able to get themselves up and running.

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