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since 24/03/2003


SAGEM myX-2 20/05/2004

Nifty for the thrifty

SAGEM myX-2 I swore off mobile phones a year ago, believing that I was cursed never to own one. Having my first one stolen in a burglary, being mugged for the second and having the third ruined by leaving it by an open window during a very heavy rain storm I thought I was doomed to never own the almost essential gadget of the modern day lifestyle. A year later and my circle of friends had dwindled considerably, no texting to catch up on snippets of gossip, the large phonebook gone and no easy way to get in touch left me feeling that maybe I was being too harsh on the mobile and so with 50 quid to spare I went into Phones-4-U and got myself a nice little Sagem myX-2. ~~~~First Impressions~~~~ It is compact and neat, fitting snuggly into the palm of your hand. The buttons are a little fiddly though, especially when texting but all and all it is a slim, well designed phone. The colour screen isn’t stand out brilliant but at least it has a little more life than black and white or blue screen phones. The initial charge only took four hours which I thought was quite good, each full charge after takes about the same time. ~~~~Functions~~~~ The menus are easy to navigate and well laid out, with ‘soft’ keys at the top giving you the option to have the most commonly used commands easily accessed. The little icons on each of the different functions are animated and colourful and there is no difficulty finding exactly what you need quickly. A well presented clock and calender ...

The Plumed Serpent - D.H. Lawrence 30/01/2004

Creating the gods.

The Plumed Serpent - D.H. Lawrence I must admit that it took me two attempts and a lot of determination to finish this book but don’t let that negative first thought have you running for cover under the latest pink fluff to be churned out in mass publication. I think ‘The Plumed Serpent’ has more than its fair share of pros and cons. To begin, for those new to D.H.Lawrence, here is a small review and personal comment on the man himself: ~~D.H.Lawrence (The Man behind the Dirty Words!)~~ David Herbert Lawrence, novelist, short-story writer, poet and essayist, he was born in Nottinghamshire, England, in 1885 , his father was a miner and his mother an ex-schoolteacher. Early in his life Lawrence spent time as a school teacher before leaving because of his ill health. Prolific in his work he was a constantly at the centre of controversy, more often than not involving widely-publicised censorship cases, most famously for his novel Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928). Besides his troubles with the censors, Lawrence was persecuted during World War I, for the supposed pro-German sympathies of his wife Frieda, the former spouse of his Nottinghamshire professor. As a consequence, the Lawrences left England and travelled widely to Italy, Germany, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, the French Riviera, Mexico and the United States. This provided much material for his novels. ‘The Plumed Serpent’ is set entirely in Mexico. A lifelong sufferer from tuberculosis, Lawrence died in 1930 in France, at the age ...

Mothman Prophecies, The 13/12/2003

The Mothman enigma.

Mothman Prophecies, The I was rooting round bored in the video shop one day when I came across one of those films you see and then forget, the one you mean to watch someday, when you could be bothered. It was ‘The Mothman Prophecies,’ starring Richard Gere. I’ve heard mixed reports about this. I always approach every film though with an open mind, even those arthouse ones papers like ‘The Guardian’ give ninety stars out of five and says if everyone in the world doesn’t go to see it they will say ‘balderdash’ to modern culture and go to live in a cave somewhere with the collected works of E.M. Forster. (They're normally are quite good if you give them a chance!) Well it began slowly, probably even a little boringly. It’s a nice winter afternoon outside, I don’t have to work and I want to be entertained in the warm, comfort of my home. It took a while for things to get started and then things really did begin to happen. Before long I was utterly hooked. For those that have heard nothing about ‘The Mothman Prophecies,’ here is a slight overview (Don’t worry, no spoilers.) In the small township of Point Pleasant in West Virginia good honest, god fearing folk began to tell tales about seeing a strange, mothlike man who appeared in lights and country roads. People heard voices and received strange phonecalls and down by an old TNT factory- now a lover’s lane –the sightings are at their most frequent. At the beginning of the film we are told that the events are based on a true story. As the ...

Everything that starts with B ... 29/10/2003

Bars and Bartending

Everything that starts with B ... I’m in a little bit of a reflective mood so I thought I should help Ciao consumers who like to have a good night out on the tiles (that probably includes most of you!) I am a bartender with over seven years experience in busy city centre pubs and hotels. The following are a few FAQ’s that I’ll try and answer to the best of my ability. Remember every bartender is different but these are general rules that go with the job. I hope you enjoy it. A little bit about us: Scientific name: Inebriatus Vendii Nocturnus Habitat: Somewhere pretty close to you. Diet: Late night suppers and early morning breakfasts (sometimes the same thing!) The bartender is generally a nocturnal creature with high energy levels and low wage packets. We fall into several categories: THE WOMANISER: Mothers lock up your daughters!! This bartender is good-looking, charismatic and flirts like it’s his lifeline. And no, it doesn’t matter that you’ve been waiting twenty minutes and she just walked up to the bar, she is sexy and her top is low-cut, he will smile, make a genuinely funny witticism and generally end up with a phone number. Then you’ll get served. THE SETTLED: I fall into this category. He is in a relationship, will still flirt but only because he is skint and needs to make tips. If his girlfriend works with him, she is the one constantly touching him and glaring at you if you try to flirt, good for a laugh but no phone numbers. THE JOKER: He’s the one going mad behind the ...

The Famished Road - Ben Okri 22/10/2003

Spirits among us

The Famished Road - Ben Okri The haunting, nightmarish world of the spirit child Azaro makes for one of the most spectacular and beautiful novels I’ve ever read. ‘The Famished road’ won the 1991 Booker prize for Ben Okri and in the very first paragraph I began to see why: “In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.” The opening pages start creating prose that makes the reader think of poetry, line after line jumps to life on the page with magnificent imagery and beautiful metaphors, like “The wind blew spells across the sea.” Some readers may begin to be put of by this because I know many lovers of prose that cannot stand or ‘get’ poetry. All I can say is that although this novel has the power and beauty of an epic poem it still manages to give all the delights of plot and character of a great novel. The story is centred on Azaro, an abiku or spirit child. Spirit children are born into the world of the living but some promise that as soon as they are born they will die and thus return to their friends in the land of spirits. Azaro makes such a promise but on being born he is stopped by the beautiful, suffering face of his mother and decides that he will try life. His spirit companions do not like this and haunt him to return to the land of the dead. This makes the childhood of Azaro both beautiful and harrowing. Still partly in the spiritual plain, the dead and ...

Cabin Fever (DVD) 21/10/2003

Cabin Feverish

Cabin Fever (DVD) Do you like scary movies? Personally I’m a fan of horror films, the best of them are very clever and intriguing, the worst of them extremely bad but as long as one gets a good fright then it all seems worthwhile. Its fear but knowing that your never really in any danger, that adrenaline rush, the skin crawling or (in the very best examples) the ones that get in under your skin, films like the Exorcist, The Others or The Ring (Japanese version) to name a few. In this genre Cabin Fever doesn’t really deserve a place. It’s a shocker, it gory and its sickening. The scares are few and far between and all the characters are unlovable, vain, arrogant and selfish. Not one of them endeared themselves to me and so it happens that I didn’t really care whether they caught the disease or not. The premise is this. A group of horny teenagers rent out a cabin in the woods (sound familiar already). Horny teenagers should know by now that when you have a cabin out in the middle of nowhere, whose nearest residents are all mentally deficient gun totting hill billies, nice things aren’t going to happen. But it can make a good film if done properly. In this case though, rather than being haunted by ghosts or zombies, it is a skin wasting virus that is the bad guy. You kind of begin in wonder at this stage how all these kids made friends with other in the first place, they are disloyal and annoying. I began to think that someone must have sent them all to a cabin in the middle of ...

Museum of Tolerance 07/10/2003

A respectful step into the past.

Museum of Tolerance It was the most important thing my Los Angelian Girlfriend wanted me to see on my trip to the city she lived and grew up in. ‘This museum is alive,’ she said, ‘Its unlike anything else.’ I was a little worried entering in our multi-coloured, power steering leaking, gas-guzzling Ford Explorer (it was old and rusty, tending to stand in out in a city of rich and gleaming automobiles). The security was very tight, a guard took our names, checked my passport, her license, wrote down her name and registration. Inside there were metal detectors and more guards. Post September 11th Americans generally are more security conscious but ‘My God’ I thought, ‘It’s a museum not a top secret military camp.’ Coming from Belfast, even growing up in Northern Ireland in the midst of the troubles, I had never experienced anything quite like this. This is where I found lay something like an irony. ‘The Museum of Tolerance,’ was itself a potential target for those of the most intolerant and bigoted. It is a monument to the Jewish experience during the Holocaust and therefore a target for modern anti-Semites. Its aim is to show that all human beings are equal and that experiences of genocide in the past, all that was inherently evil in the last century, should never be repeated. History has a way of repeating itself, we learn, and so people must never forget. The museum is a moving experience, one enters knowing that everyone is prejudiced. There are two doors, one says ...

The Secret History - Donna Tartt 06/10/2003

Murder most academic

The Secret History - Donna Tartt It was with more than a little excitement that I finally got my hands on a copy of Donna Tartts ‘The Secret History.’ I had been searching for it for a long time and had it highly recommended by many friends whose opinion I trust. Sitting down to read it, the novel had a lot of expectation riding on it and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint. The novel is of a much higher grade than most, the characters are superbly written and the plot is gripping. It begins (as most great thrillers do) with a murder. We are told that someone called Bunny is dead and that there are consequences. It is a powerful opening line and sets the tone for the story as a whole. The main narrator of the story, Richard Papan, is a bright young classics and literature student from a poor and abusive family who finds a place for himself among several rich and exceptionally intelligent students. The novel is dominated by one of these students, Henry Winters. Henry is a genius, with a gift for languages and academia, a man who Richard says, was translating Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ from English to Latin much in the same way that some people do crossword puzzles to pass the time. He is an enigmatic, charismatic, powerful leading character whose contriving, dangerous personality dominates the pages of the story. Then there is Francis, the spoilt rich kid with a post Betty Ford clinic mother, married to a toyboy. Francis is temperamental and gay, his sexuality is predatory with a tendency to ...

Possession - A.S. Byatt 22/08/2003

Possessed with imagination

Possession - A.S. Byatt Possession is the kind of book that really should only be tackled by those bibliophiles who relish escapism of a more intellectual nature. The novel begins with a book, a letter and the uncovering of a mystery which sets the themes that are to come. This is a book about poems, letters and stories written with flair by an undoubted master of the English language. When I open a Byatt book, right from the first page I always feel my brain fire to life, she throws the reader into her world with a sensuous relish of imagery, metaphor and storytelling that is rare and hard to find among many writers today. We recognise the world in Byatts stories, her characters are real, emotional living beings who jump to life in their thoughts and interactions with others. Because in Possession almost all the modern characters are academics though it can be quite hard at times to follow their trains of thought. Some readers may find this tedious but believe me it is worth struggling through the difficulties to find the many gems in this Booker prize winning book. In the text the keen reader will find gripping fairy tales, beautiful poetry and a dual love story that is mysterious as it is powerful. Like in a detective novel Byatt leads us on a journey of discovery and revelation, with many secrets to uncover and mysteries to solve. The lead characters Roland and Maud seem like an odd coupling at first, drawn together by their discovery of a clandestine romance between two ...

The Green Mile - Stephen King 20/08/2003

Modern day Dickens

The Green Mile - Stephen King The serialisation has been almost forgotten in literature, commercially very few writers have the clout these days to pull of a novel spread out over several different books. The last great serial writer (sounds a bit like someone who should be locked away!) was Charles Dickens, his weighty tomes where spread out over many publications and stories tell of rock and roll style crowds queuing at American docks, shoving and pushing each other into the water to get at the next publication as the boat pulled into the harbours. King’s intention was to emulate Dickens, even pulling the book together into one volume he looked into how Dickens finally made his serials into the great dreaded schoolbag bricks students across the world fear. The key is the cliff-hanger. Anyone who watches soap operas are more than familiar with the suspense, the drums and credits…. ‘NO!! Don’t leave it at that! Tell me what happens next?’ The cliff-hanger is part of the magic of the green mile, the plot has magic but so does the writing. I have been a fan of Stephen King for as many years as I can remember, reading his early works as a kid under the bed sheets with a torch (yes, honestly!) having the bejeezus scared out of me. This novel is definitely one of his best, up there with The Shining and Tommyknockers. In the case of The Green Mile the old cliché really is true, you will not want to put this book down. ...
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