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since 09/08/2000


Manual of the Planes 27/11/2001

Your guidebook for touring the multiverse

Manual of the Planes Manual of the Planes is a luxury but it is a luxury in the same sense that a car or a television might be. If you can afford to buy it, can you afford to do without it? It’s also surprisingly easy to come up with arguments as to why you definitely need to have a copy. The book is mainly designed as a supplement for the Dungeon Master but I suspect there will be plenty of players out there who will enjoy flicking through the richly detailed pages. The Manual is a supplement for Wizards of the Coast’s third edition of Dungeons and Dragons. As an additional book and not a set of core rules there is no discussion whatsoever in the text of how to apply the game mechanics and stats presented. The back of the book suggests that any Dungeon Master attempting to use the Manual requires the full set of Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual. I think that if you’ve managed to run your game without the Monster Manual that you’ll find no extra reason to buy it in the Manual of the Planes. What’s a Plane? That’s a good question given that its highly unlikely that people would pay nearly £20 for a book about rolling expanses of grasslands. A Plane is, perhaps, best thought of as a different dimension. Heaven or Hell might be (in game terms) different Planes. If there is a place where spirits and legends live on then that might be a different plane. The aircraft that have gone missing while flying over the Bermuda ...

Wheel of Time RPG 14/11/2001

About Time?

Wheel of Time RPG The Wheel of Time is a popular fantasy series by Robert Jordan. In fact some people might argue that the Wheel of Time is surprisingly popular since it can be rather difficult to find anyone who will admit to actually liking the books. I didn’t particular like the first nine books in the series but I’m sure I’ll jump to buy the tenth should it ever hit the shelves and perhaps therein lies the success of the series. The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game has been published before the fantasy series has finished. The game, however, seems to have been written in full co-operation with Jordan and rather than stumbling over this obvious problem the authors have done their best to turn it into advantage. The solution is as obvious as the problem; the game can be run during various different times. You could try and adventure before the Dragon Reborn (one of the heroes from the books) has risen to the fore or you could bite the bullet and set your game after the immediate timeframe of the novels and see how accurate your predictions are. On the other hand you might be fairly certain that the good guys will win in the novels but base your game on the idea that the forces of the Dark One are the ones who win the struggle. The default setting and the one I imagine that most games will be run in is slap bang in the middle of the action described in the books. If you’ve thumbed through a copy of the third edition Dungeons and Dragons then you’ll be ...

Garnier Nutralia Dermo-Protection Shampoo 15/10/2001


Garnier Nutralia Dermo-Protection Shampoo I hate this shampoo. The squeeze bottle arrived in the bathroom at the beginning of the week and it’s already risen to become my number one pet whinge. I can tell it was expensive too. The darn thing is slime that takes an absolute age to wash clear of your hair. I have long hair, long hair for a man and I can promise you that this accursed product is responsible for adding minutes to my daily wash. It is hard enough making the nine o’clock lecture on the seventh floor without having to deal with a shampoo that’ll not rinse away. Nutralia Dermo-Protection Shampoo has an unpleasant feel, it isn’t just the clinging attribute of this chemical ooze that gives me a shiver. If you’re unlucky enough to get some of this ooze on your hands then you’ll just how horribly greasy it is. The reasons above are enough, I feel, to stay clear of this awful shampoo torture. There’s more. I really believe you could take this sludge to the Trading Standards commission and win. On the front of the bottle it says “for healthy, strong & shiny hair respects the scalp”. Right then. Laboratories Garnier scores no marks for being able to write basic English on their products. It is the text on the back of the bottle that contradicts itself. There is a big, bold lists that reads: * Pure * Dermoprotective * Hypo-allergenic * pH neutral That all sounds good but when you read the ingredients you’ll have to wade through a list of ... 26/07/2001

Lie for Money Here at Ciao we set about building a portfolio of well-written reviews in the hope that those ten pence and two-penny pieces will start to build up. Although you might find the occasional review that states “I test drove this car for a few hours” or “I played this game at a friend’s house once” most of the opinions on the site are honest and written by people who know what they’re talking about. Imagine my smile when I found a game that invited you to try and trick someone else into think you’re a famous (or not so famous) personality. The idea just tickled me. Imagine how my smile grew when I discovered that if you did well you had a chance of winning £100 a week. Imagine how I hooted in joy when I tricked a full house of other players into thinking I was the real Bagpuss. “To Tell The Truth” is just one of many prize winning games on Uproar. If you’re a fan of Game Shows then you’ll be pleased to discover that you can also win (in different prize draws) cash by doing well at Blankety Blank, Catchphrase or Family Fortunes. If you’re not a fan of Game Shows then you’re not alone – I don’t like them on TV. They’re surprisingly fun when you’re playing online against other people though. I suspect most people don’t even play for the money. If you don’t like Game Shows in any shape or form... well, that’s no problem. You’ll find something ...

Jurassic Park 3 (DVD) 24/07/2001

... with the best of intentions.

Jurassic Park 3 (DVD) I’m aware of the tragic irony in writing yet another review on yet another Jurassic Park franchise movie. I imagine this sense of d’uh-irony is akin to the one felt by whichever bored script writer coined the line “The worst possible nightmares have often started with the best possible intentions” for Sam Neil’s Alan Grant. Jurassic Park III (now with more bite) was done with the best possible intentions. Fortunately it isn’t the worst possible nightmare. In fact, that wasn’t the most ironic line in the entire movie. (See below for more) I read a review on J-Park III which said: “To attack a film like JPIII for being shallow, manipulative trash is like attacking a duck for quacking. The Jurassic franchise is a simple beast - it exists solely to let us watch groovy dinosaurs chow down on B-list actors. “ I couldn’t agree more. I’ll always support the inclusion of duck quotes. MOST SCARY DINOSAUR: The howling, dancing, purple one. (He makes a shocking cameo) BEST THING ABOUT THE PRE-HISTORIC ROARING: Drowning out the babbling toddler a few rows in front of me. MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER: Mrs Kirby. Teá Leoni has many charms but none of them would save Mrs Kirby from accidentally being pushed into a den of hungry Killyouslowlysaures if I was around. Anyone who lands in an off limit dinosaur infested island and doesn’t realize that hollering on a megaphone is a bl**dy stupid idea deserves to ...

Contino Sessions - Death in Vegas 19/07/2001

Terror. Shredded Dress. Chase. Exposed Flesh.

Contino Sessions - Death in Vegas I was introduced to Death by music television. Pictures of victims slowly appeared on an otherwise black screen. Typewriter style text told how they died. “Shot in the head. Age 17.” “Hit and Run. Age 83”. In the background a slow and soulful dirge played. I waited for the song to change; I waited for something to happen. I waited, I waited, I waited. The dead people haunted the screen. The End. That was Dirge. Once the song became popular they changed the video. A black and white slow ball. Couples danced lifelessly while the Dirge played. It would have been a good video in its own right, but it was nothing on the original. “Aisha”, the following video was so controversial that it started with a warning and M2 (MTV’s alternative music channel) had an oft repeated program in which various honchos talked about it. The video starts with a pretty woman in a shredded red dress crawling backwards away from you. The sort of shuffle you have to do when your back is facing the ground and you’re facing your attacker. Her dress was so shredded that if you watched before 8pm they’d put a blur between her legs in order to try and keep her decent. Ironically, I think, if you watched after 8pm and the blur was removed all you’d see was knickers. In many ways the suggestive blurring was more obscene than the original footage. She gets up and runs. She runs for her life. So you think. Those are the ...

Radio-Activity - Kraftwerk 25/06/2001

Machines Rule

Radio-Activity - Kraftwerk How many music bands from Germany can you name? I’ve already written an op on one of my favourites; the Guano Apes but the chances are more likely that if you can name any at all it’ll be “Kraftwerk”. Kraftwerk isn’t a one hit wonder band from the 80s either. They’ve had very many more hits than just “The Model”, just not in the UK and probably not in the mainstream pop cr*ps, er, charts either. Kraftwerk continue to experiment with sounds and music, although the overall “robot” style and theme to their music remains true. This experimentation is as much a blessing as a curse. The reason why I’d never bought a Kraftwerk album until recently was because, simply put, some of their singles were awful. “Pocket Calculator” seems to be a common request on stations like M2 but I think it is absolutely dire. It really is, as far as I can tell, an annoyingly surreal collection of beeps with the locals “I’m a pocket calculator” put over the top. The album Radioactivity certainly isn’t awful; in fact, it’s rather good. It was one of 6 albums I picked up from Virgin in a 6 for £30 deal. Yes, expect many more music reviews from me in the future. There are more than 12 tracks on the album but there are only 12 songs. In the typical Kraftwerk intelligence they’ve thoughtfully done things like break the “blip… blip… blip… blip” intro of ...

Croupier (DVD) 21/06/2001

Win without gambling

Croupier (DVD) Croupier is a film that tries to be clever. I imagine you’ll be just as surprised as I was to discover that Croupier is actually a clever film. I gather that it had to fight an uphill battle against doubtful Hollywood funding agencies to be made in the first place, I’m glad it won. Hopefully Croupier will be the film that’ll lift Clive Owen (Jack) up to the levels of limelight he deserves. Croupier might also be the film that justifies Kate Hardie’s (Bella) apparent obsession with taking her top off. By “justify” I mean “do it and still produce an intellectual film”. A few people walked out of the cinema. I suspect they were stupid. Croupier is full of surprises and tension; not the sort of tension that has you on the edge of your seat or hiding behind your hands but the other sort of suspense – the very much more refined and rare variety. Jack narrates the film in the Third Person. It is an unusual touch but it works very well. It is this outwards-in vantage point that you’ll find yourself in when it comes to the cinematic suspense. “Jack wondered whether he would get away with it,” thinks Jack for your benefit. Manx wondered how on earth anyone could walk out of a film like this. I’ll keep the overview of the plot really simple since it’s important not to give any of it away. Jack’s a writer who’s suffering from Writer’s Block. His father finds him a job as a ... 14/06/2001

Five times more likely to win a million Simply put: At Bananalotto (which is easier to win than the Daily Draw) you need to match 7 numbers out of 49 to win £1,000,000. You are allowed to play once per 24 hours. At Uproarlotto you need to match 7 numbers out of 50 to win £1,000,000. You are allowed to play five times every 24 hours. There is a catch; in fact, there are two. Catch #1 – You can’t play all five goes at once. You need to wait roundabout an hour between each game. Catch #2 – If you match less than all 7 numbers you only win an entry into a prize draw for a lesser amount. You don’t automatically win the lesser amount. Match 7 numbers for the Grand Prize of £1,000,000 6 numbers gets you the First Prize of £1,000 5 numbers - Weekly Prize Draw for £100 4 numbers - Weekly Prize Draw for £50 3 numbers - Weekly Prize Draw for £10 (copied straight from the prize list there) I already know this is going to be a short review. The chances are very high that you already know how Uproarlotto works. You need to register. This is free and this involves you remembering to de-select their permissions to occasionally send you free offers and spamy mails. Then, in order to play, you need to click on a grid of numbers or use (as I do) the random “Quick Pix” option at the top and then click on one of three adverts in order to register your bet. That’s it. I could end the review here, but there are some others comments to make. ...

Tigerland (DVD) 12/06/2001

... awful ... a must see ...

Tigerland (DVD) There is one great military movie in the cinemas right now but you’re kidding yourself if you think its Pearl Harbour. I’ve thought long and hard (well, overnight) about the best way to try and describe Tigerland on Ciao. In the end I concluded that the best thing would be to tell you what happened at the end of the film. No, I’m not going to give the plot away, I’m not going to say how – or if – the story finishes. I’m sure you know what generally happens in the cinema when the credits start to roll, people start getting up to go, others start chatting, some people fish for their car keys and that sort of thing. Well, that started to happen in the cinema to; just for a second. It was clear that that was the very last scene, the screen went blank and a few people started to rise from their seats. The only thing that happened next was that the credits started; the screen cut from images taken straight out of the movie, showing pictures of and the name of the actors. The background music was simple, just horns and drums. What happened? Everyone froze and watched the credits in silence. Those people who had started to get up from their chairs remained still. The man two rows down from me paused in a half crouching position. The entire audience watched the credits until the very end. I nearly walked out of the start of Tigerland. I was bored. Tigerland is one of those movies that you can’t bare to watch but one that is ...

The Dish (DVD) 11/06/2001

We've lost Apollo 11

The Dish (DVD) The Dish was another of the movies I went to see simply to get my money’s worth out of my movie pass. This movie pass of mine might start to be sounding like a terrible buy but I’m actually rather enjoying it; it gets me out of the house and it lets me find movies like the Dish that I otherwise might have missed. I rather enjoyed the Dish. If you’re expecting startling special effects, races through space or perhaps Crocodile Dundee IV – tough, you’ll not get that from the Dish. (Although Crocodile Dundee IV is coming out soon.) If you know Sam Neil and his style of acting outside Jurassic Park then you’d be right to expect the film to meet his usual subtle flair of excellence. (Jurassic Park III? The sound of Sam Neil grabbing the money and running.) The premise is simple. Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere and the United States of America isn’t. In the outback town of Parkes in the rural landscape of New South Wales there happens to be (thanks to the effort of the local mayor, we’re told) the largest radio telescope on that side of the planet. When the Apollo 11 spacecraft is on the southern side of the planet it’ll be about of reach of all the radio telescopes in the USA and so the Americans did a deal with the Australians and Parkes was brought on board to help track the spaceship. The film picks up with the Australian Prime Minster paying attention to this fact for the first time. What has grabbed his ...

ANThology (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Alien Ant Farm 10/06/2001

If they escape...

ANThology (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Alien Ant Farm I made my mind up a while ago that I wouldn’t buy an album off the strength of any one single - no matter how good that single was. I didn’t buy ANThology solely on the strength of “Movies” then, the other factor that helped persuade me to dip my hand into my wallet was (as you’ve noticed) the amazing cool name of the band! So, who on earth are Alien Ant Farm? And very well that you ask that question because my Real Jukebox had no biographical information on them at all but did succeed in finding the names of the tracks from ANThology in its online database. ANThology is Alien Ant Farm’s major label debut. With Jay Baumgardener as the producer behind ANThology it wouldn’t have been wrong to suspect some airplay from the album. Baumgardener’s list of credits extends to the like of Papa Roach, Slipknot, Orgy and Coal Chamber. The actual members of the band include the singer-song writer Dryden Mitchell, Terry Corso on guitar Tye Zamora on bass and Mike Cosgrove on the drums. I guess with a set of names like that it was important that the band had an even weirder one. I think you should expect (if you listen to this sort of thing) hear a lot more from the AAF in the future since I gather P-Roach will tour with them and DreamWorks (the movie people) back the P-Roach record label. The main reason why I like Alien Ant Farm is their humour. They’re pretty funny. M2 sometimes plays the video for “Movies” and it ... 05/06/2001

Here's how to win a million The Daily Draw is easy. By that I mean it is easy to register, easy to pick your numbers and then enter the competition with a chance to win anywhere between £25 and £1,000,000. The Daily Draw is not easy to win; in fact, the Daily Draw is next to impossible to win. You might be used to trying to match six numbers from 49. That’s the way the National Lottery does it, that’s the way Bananalotto does it but the Daily Draw wants you to match numbers out of 64 and you need to successfully match at least four numbers before you can win anything. If you already spent a few minutes on the internet each day playing this sort of thing then you might as well (and probably should) include the Daily Draw into your routine. If you’ve no time for this sort of webpage then I don’t think the Daily Draw is going to change your mind. The Daily Draw is gathering strength. I remember when I found it waaaay-back-when; the site was often struggling under the weight of all the users on it, I’d often get peeks at its server code when script errors would bring it down. Things are much better these days, the site is using the money it’s earning to improve itself. I’ve not had a glitch there in weeks and weeks and they’ve also launched another game. Unlike the Bananalotto’s attempts to introduce other games (recently aborted, I note) the Daily Draw’s bonus game (the Accumulator) doesn’t need any special attention and ...

Along Came A Spider (DVD) 31/05/2001

Make your own mind up

Along Came A Spider (DVD) I don’t know what’s going on here. Normally, I just ready myself to tear seven shades of slit out of any movie that sets about showing itself off as an intelligent thriller. Normally these so-called intelligent thrillers are about as predictable as an episode of Scooby Do (except the brilliant Scooby Do on Zombie Island – a much watch). “Along Came A Spider” is different and it is different for two reasons; the critics didn’t like it and they normally do, I liked it and I don’t normally. The criticisms of “Along Came A Spider” that I’ve read often seem to suggest that film lacked bite. I’ve read that the initial action scene sets the movie up to be truly great and then it fails to follow through. Well, lets not be too surprised to discover that the initial scene has car chases and things going boom. These critics who pretend they’re above explosions and really into some serious plot are a legion of fakers. Mind you, if it wasn’t for the critics I’d never have released that Alex Cross (played by the superb Morgan Freeman) was a character from a previous movie. I gave up trying to watch “Kiss The Girls” while it was on TV because the internet was better, but I might try and watch it this time. As I recall from back when it was released the critics thought Freeman saved the movie. The plot from “Kiss The Girls” put Alex Cross into a serious kidnapping case. ...

Blow (DVD) 30/05/2001

The joys of blowing

Blow (DVD) A free cinema pass that I don’t use very much and a walk home via the cinema were the main inspirations for going to see Blow. If Shrek had been released then I would have run all the way; instead I turned up for Blow with an idle indifference. Blow is a movie about the famous Boston George, only I hadn’t heard anything about him before (I would have guessed serial killer with a name like that). George Jung sold drugs, lots of drugs, he moved up from selling weed on beaches to flooding America with crack cocaine - and for this the movie tries to present him as some hard working hero. Johnny Depp has a talent when it comes to picking interesting movies to star in – Edward Scissorshands, Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow being just a few. I can’t fault Depp on his acting in Blow. I’m no expert (although I like to think I can appreciate more in a movie than the sort of slob who turn up to watch Big Explosions IV) but he seemed to portray a convincing and on the ball character. Yet I’ve read some reviews of this movie which simply tore seven shades of slit out of Depp. It was Ray Liotta who stole the show for me though. As ever, he was under rated, under credited and simply the best actor in the film. The movie spans three decades, starting in the 60s, running through the 70s and 80s, there is even a short clip at the end of the film to bring the audience up to date with the current state of affairs. Ray Liotta plays George’s dad ...
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