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CFG1985

CFG1985

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Reviews written

since 04/08/2005

13

V for Vendetta DVD 08/05/2006

Revolution seems the way to go...

V for Vendetta DVD I'd never heard of this film. Sound like an action film, doesn't it? So I wasn't particularly interested when my partner suggested we see it. Let's just say, his preference of film generally isn't mine. I was especially disinterested when he informed me that V For Vendetta was written by the same people who wrote The Matrix, one of my most hated films of all time. I resigned myself to playing backgammon on my phone instead, and only started warming to the film when we were first introduced to V. It was at this point that the phone was switched off, and my attention was diverted to the screen. V (Hugo Weaving) is the masked anti-hero of the film. He is an eloquent, Shakespeare-quoting socio-political activist, bent on a terrorist attack of the Houses of Parliament in the same vein as Guy Fawkes on 5th November. V's most attractive quality is that, although he is a terrorist (which is one of those words we are all indoctrinated to loathe and fear) and a murderer, we empathise with him. His ends, although directly based on a personal vendetta, are justified by the age-old philosophies of freedom, equality and uncensorship. One of the most fascinating cinemograhic aspects of this film is that V's face is never revealed from under the Guy Fawkes mask, nor is his true identity unveiled. Paradoxically, the mask, although fixed in one expression, seems to display the full gamut of emotions, and always coincides eerily with the words his character is speaking. We are made aware of ...

Hostel, DVD 18/04/2006

Sex and violence to make up for lack of plotline

Hostel, DVD So, a couple of American lads, presumably college students, and a sex-mad Icelandic bloke they happen to have picked up along the way, are touring Europe. They have sexual encounters with lots of beautiful women rather graphically, then get captured by some nutty Bratislavans and mutilated, again rather graphically. And that's really about it. Oh, apart from a surviving hero at the end (hooray for Americans). Needless to say, this film was pretty much nonsense. The introduction displayed the three guys living it up in Amsterdam, smoking a lot of pot and crawling the Red Light district. Just to show how 'ard they are. There was no class or subtlety about any aspect of their experience; typically, the characters felt the need to articulate everything, as if the audience wouldn't be clever enough to work it out for themselves. For example, there's a scene when they're in a coffee house in Amsterdam getting stoned, and it's made perfectly clear that most of the people there are American. One of our heroes, as if making some intellectual social comment says, pseudo-poignantly, "Are there any Dutch people in Amsterdam?" Ha ha ha. Well done. You just stated the obvious. I wouldn't have got it unless you'd pointed it out, especially if the camera hadn't trained in on at least two groups of American students saying "Du-ude!" and coughing madly over a bong. Ah, a Blur lyric just popped into my head - "There must be more to life, than stereotypes.....". The fun-loving trio's aim, ...

Essays 02/04/2006

What's WRONG with everybody??

Essays Far from wanting to sound like one of those pseudo-intellectuals who consider themselves superior to everyone who crosses their path, I am becoming increasingly annoyed and concerned at the lack of common intelligence that so many people seem to display nowadays. The thing is, I don't think people are stupid. I think they are actually choosing this way of life, and that is what worries me. In pre-emptive defence of any harsh criticism, I've only just turned twenty-one, so it's not like I'm some prudish old stickler with a penchant for whinging about days gone by. By rights, I am a member of the generation which created text-speak, kick-started girl power, and laughs at television shows which glamorise and reward sheer stupidity. According to the general perception, I read tacky showbiz magazines, drink to excess and sleep with anything that musters up the strength to bundle me into a taxi at the end of a night's clubbing. Now, I'm guessing that anyone reading this will assume that I am not, and do not do, any of the above. And, of course, you would be right. How can you tell? Well, maybe it's something to do with the fact that I can string together a sentence without resorting to replacing letters with numbers, or missing out a whole host of letters altogether. Perhaps you can tell that I don't think reality television is an entertaining concept by the fact that I have a reasonable grasp of punctuation and grammar. And so, my first complaint is already out of the ...

Should smoking be banned in all public places? 02/04/2006

From a smoker's point of view

Should smoking be banned in all public places? Yes, I am a smoker. This means that my argument against the public smoking ban will probably be considered invalid, because I am obviously one of the evil, uncaring purveyors of the passive smoke that the government is trying to eliminate. I'll try not to get too bogged down in the health issue, as it would be hypocritical of me to type with one hand about my personal opinions on public health while I'm smoking a fag with the other. Nor am I going to start blethering on about rights and civil liberties - we've heard it all before, and it's tedious. As I live in Scotland, the smoking ban has now been in effect for a week. To be honest, it doesn't affect me all that much, as I rarely go to the pub, and have never smoked in other public areas such as shopping centres anyway. Contrary to popular belief, I do actually respect other people's wishes, and personally I feel uncomfortable walking through a busy street on a Saturday holding a cigarette at eye-level with children. However, there are a number of issues, from a smoker's point of view, which have been raised in my mind as a result of the ban. I did happen to go for a couple of drinks after work on Friday evening with my work colleagues, so it was my first experience of being unable to smoke in the pub. Going outside for a fag on this occassion didn't bother me; there were two other smokers in our party so we went together when we felt the need to satisfy our addiction. Of course, it was chucking it down with rain ...

Should ALL drugs be legalised? 02/04/2006

Drugs DO exist, you know!

Should ALL drugs be legalised? Personally, I don't take drugs, but I think it's irrelevant whether I do or not. I know plenty of people who smoke pot occassionally, and maybe one or two who have tried stronger drugs. These people do not offend me; I don't feel I have any right to tell them they are wrong for doing so. After all, I smoke tobacco, drink alcohol and eat junk - life choices which are having a detrimental effect on my health, in much the same way as illegal drugs can. The difference is, tobacco and alcohol (and poor quality foods!) are legal. Quite apart from the fact that the government takes a huge revenue from these products in taxes, being legal and socially accepted means that there is much more education and understanding about them. I think the same could apply if drugs were legalised. Of course, recently there has been a drive to make people, particularly school-age, understand the negative effects of drugs, which can only be a good thing. But for as long as drugs are illegal, the subject will remain taboo, which means more people will feel self-conscious about their addiction and unable to obtain help and education in the same way as they could for drug or tobacco misuse. By keeping drugs illegal and underground, the fear of prosecution and the shame of using them is enough to cause some people to avoid admitting they have a problem. We cannot keep turning a blind eye to the fact that drugs exist, and that people take them. We're not going to get rid of drugs, so why not ...

Has feminism gone too far.. or not far enough? 01/04/2006

What if I WANT to be old-fashioned?

Has feminism gone too far.. or not far enough? There is little doubt that feminism is one of the most important and instrumental developments in modern society. Being a women, I am grateful for the heroic actions of Emily Pankhurst and her contemporaries for opening the gates to a fairer, more equal democratic society. Women have been downtrodden for centuries, and it has really only been in the last hundred years or so that we have had a voice. However, in response to the question "Has feminism gone to far?" I am inclined to answer that, yes, it has. Political correctness dictates that one should not make jokes about women in kitchens. Any man who has the cheek to remark that his wife belongs tethered to the vacuum cleaner is well aware that he will get an indignant slap on the arm from his female contemporary. It is now accepted that women have as much right to be in the workplace, earn the same wages, and take part in the same leisure activities as men, and rightly so. My only concern is that these "rights" have swung so far in the opposite direction, that true choice is actually limited for women. Let me give you an example. When I was studying for my Sociology A-Level, one of our topics was on education. We watched a documentary which showed film clips of school-age girls in the late Seventies or early Eighties talking about what they planned to do after leaving school, which were then compared to the opinions of girls in the late Nineties on the same subject. Of the girls from the earlier generation, most ...

Fraoch Heather Ale 31/03/2006

Where have you been all my life?!

Fraoch Heather Ale I'm a massive fan of real ales. Ever since the local pub in my home town had a Wychwood Brewery festival, with smooth pints of loveliness on tap for £1.50, I've never looked back. Rarely have a tasted an ale with quite so much character as the dark, rich and enticing Hobgoblin - but it may have met it's match. Tonight is the first time I have tried Fraoch - I bought it in the Co-op as part of a three-for-two deal. Fotunately, I got two bottles of it; the third, McEwan's Champion, was of a much lesser quality. The usual price in the Co-op is something like £1.89 for 500ml, which is about average for a bottled ale. What always draws me to trying a bottled ale, first and foremost, is the packaging. Fraoch comes in a tall, dark brown bottle, with a label design based on the style of the Picts, who ruled Scotland until the ninth century. The label is made to look as if the design has been carved onto it, and the lettering looks almost Celtic in origin. Equally appealling is the historical blurb on the back of the bottle, which explains that "fraoch" is Gaelic for "heather". Heather ale has been brewed in Scotland for four thousand years, and is the oldest style of ale still produced nowadays. Interestingly, in the eighteenth century, Scottish brewers were forced by British legislation to stop using heather to brew ale, and instead conform to the international use of hops. Another excuse for my Scottish fiance to start bemoaning the awful treatment of the Scots at the hands ...

Clydesdale Bank Mortgages 30/03/2006

Clydesdale Home Loan - first-time buyer

Clydesdale Bank Mortgages They say there is nothing more stressful than buying a property. Added to the current cost of houses in general, buying your first property is probably the most depressing, stressful and downright evil experience you will ever have. Especially if you go to the Clydesdale Bank to do it. Our mortgage application process started out quite well. It all started to go wrong when the nice mortgage advisor (if there's any such thing) who was dealing with our application left the Clydesdale Bank to go it alone, because, and I quote, "he'd had enough" of being associated with the bank. We should have known at that point that maybe we should look elsewhere, but as anyone who has been through the mill when trying to get onto the property ladder will tell you, your head is in such a whirl that it's easy to get dragged along by whatever is offered to you. Also, it's fair to say that the rate we finally got our mortgage at is a good one - fixed at 4.59% for three years. (*) I'll start from somewhere near the beginning. We were offered a mortgage to the value of approximately £65,000 in late June 2005. We were assessed, credit-scored and approved for this amount. Then, due to personal circumstances and the relative cost of properties in the part of Scotland we live in, we decided to go away for a little while and consider our options. In early August, we went back to the bank, having decided that it would be more beneficial to us to buy a smaller, cheaper property at a fixed price, ...

Asda Shampoo 30/03/2006

Asda Sea Vitamins & Minerals Shampoo/Conditioner

Asda Shampoo I've never used one particular brand of shampoo. I'm actually one of those tight-wads who generally buys whatever is on offer at the time. My hair doesn't appreciate being messed about like that, and tends to respond by going all sulky (sulky hair, by the way, is a nightmare.) But for the past six months, there's been one brand and one brand only - and that's Asda's Sea Vitamins and Minerals. Shamefully, I only bought this shampoo (and the conditioner) because it matched the colour of the bathroom in the flat I had just moved into. I remember being quite concerned by the fact that it was only 82p for 400ml, and had resigned myself to the fact that it was probably rubbish. Still, I reasoned, it matches my exciting new bathroom, and that's good enough for any excitable young homemaker. When I opened the bottle for the first time, I felt I recognised the smell, but couldn't quite place it. It's cool, fresh and quite invigorating, without being chemically harsh like some cheaper shampoos can be. And as soon as you work it into your hair, it feels like it's having a good effect. Some shampoos can feel like they're coating your hair (Fructis is the one which springs to mind) but this actually separates the strands and feels like it's washing it properly, if you know what I mean. The conditioner is equally appealing, although I've found that the shampoo alone can sometimes make your hair feel conditioned anyway, eliminating the need to condition every day. Surprisingly, ...

Arthurs 29/03/2006

Why does it seem so cheap?

Arthurs I've only had Murray since 27th January 2006 (he was my 21st birthday present) so I've been experimenting with different brands for the last couple of months to see what he has a taste for. That said, I got him from a rescue home so the poor wee soul tends to eat whatever's put in front of him! However, Arthur's seems to be his favourite of all the brands I've tried so far. I chose it because it was a brand I had heard of, and the price seemed very reasonable. In Asda, six-packs are £1.98, which is only about ten pence more expensive than Asda's own 'Tiger' brand. I thought this was odd because Whiskas, Felix et al are uaually around £2.50. The six-pack contains four 'Supermeat' tins and two ordinary meat, in a variety of flavours. I've noticed with other brands that Murray isn't so keen on the tuna flavours, but with Arthur's the tuna supermeat seems to be his favourite. It's more common nowadays anyway, but I love the fact that Arthur's has a ring-pull on the tin - Murray can't wait for the length of time it takes to open his dinner with a tin-opener, so this is a massive benefit for both of us! I love the packaging on the Arthur's tins too - that white cat is adorable, and I seem to remember a knitted jumper which was passed down through my siblings with a picture of Arthur on it.... or did I dream that? Time for a frantic search through 1980s knitting patterns, methinks. So far I haven't found any disadvantages with this product - someone on another review said ...

Ford Fiesta 1.25 27/03/2006

A girl's first car - 1995 Fiesta Ghia

Ford Fiesta 1.25 I have a 1995 Fiesta Ghia (Ghia means it has snazzy extras like electric windows, remote central locking and one of those buttons to open the boot with). It's N reg but I'm quite proud of the fact that it was one of the first Fiestas in the 'new' shape - okay, I know there's another new shape since that one, but you know what I mean. I always feel a bit smug when I see an N reg in the old shape, and like to imagine the owners feeling all awe-inspired when they see me nipping by in my smoother, more ergonomic silver shuttle. So maybe I'm exaggerating, just a little bit. The Fiesta is never going to be a top-of-the-range, desirable model or the envy of all who survey it. But for a first-time buy, you can't go far wrong with a second (or third) hand Fiesta. I got mine about eighteen months ago for a mere £850, with a little over 60,000 miles on the clock. As a girl, this meant bugger all to me, until I was told that the average car does at least 10,000 miles per year - so for a ten-year old car, you'd expect almost double that mileage. My Fiesta is a nippy little thing. To my surprise, I have found that it is as happy speeding down the motorway at seventy-plus (don't tell the cops) as it is tootling around town. Being from Derbyshire but living in Scotland, I take it at least three or four times a year on the 500-mile round journey on family visits, and it has never failed me yet. I always give it a stroke and a whisper of gratitude when it pulls up outside my parents' ...

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (GameCube) 27/03/2006

Not as boring as it looks - a girl's opinion

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (GameCube) I'm not much of a gamer. I've always liked Mario games, harking back to my days as a six-year old with the awesome playing power of a NES, but I'm not one of those people who is into all the latest offerings on all the latest consoles (hence my writing a review on a game that's two years old!). My boyfriend thought he was being helpful by buying me this game. At the time, he was into some PC game, and, feeling guilty by the fact that I was spending most of my time staring at his back, he presented me with 'Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life' for the Gamecube. Being the argumentative type, I demanded to know what on earth he was thinking, buying me a computer game about farming?! Unimpressed by his attempt at romanticism, I started playing this game with a nonchalant attitude. I struggled to maintain this attitude, when, after about an hour, I was hooked. You guide a little man around his farm, tending to crops, milking cows and collecting eggs. Sounds a bit weird, I know (I've given up trying to sell it to my colleagues at work) but there's so much more to it than that. You live in a little farming village where there are a whole host of bizarre characters who you have to talk to regularly and ply with gifts of flowers and, if you're feeling flush, some of your hard-earned crops, to win their respect. Throughout the game, these people play varying degrees of importance within your life, and later have an influence over your child's personality and life choices. Yes, you ...

The Little Prisoner - Jane Elliott 26/03/2006

A cynical view, but...

The Little Prisoner - Jane Elliott From a literary point of view, Jane Elliot's 'The Little Prisoner' is well-written and the author deserves all our sympathies for the horrendous life she was forced to lead. I got through the book in one evening and found it a real page-turner. It's definitely worth a look if you enjoy autobiographical accounts, but prepare to be sickened by some of the content. I've noticed recently that there seems to be a surge in popularity of these true-life, autobiographical books about individuals' experiences of child abuse, Dave Pelzer's to name but one. While it can only be a good thing that such a disturbing and taboo topic is becoming more openly talked about, and hopefully therefore dealt with, I'm concerned that the shock-factor is being used as a ploy to sell books. Don't get me wrong. I feel strongly for Jane and the traumatic upbringing she had at the hands of her stepfather. At one point in the book she alludes to herself as Cinderella, but under the influence of an evil stepfather rather than stepmother. This analogy is accurate to say the least; Jane's whole life up until her early twenties is fraught with emotional, physical and sexual abuse from a sick and twisted man, who, quite frankly, doesn't deserve the right to walk on the planet. I just can't help but feel cynical about the reasons why Jane chose to write her story. She claims in the opening introduction that by reading her book "if just one child who was being abused... felt inspired enough to speak out ...
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