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since 30/11/-0001


Everything that starts with V ... 10/09/2002

Vivacious endings are simple beginnings

Everything that starts with V ... **You try to find a decent title beginning with V** I sit here in New Jersey on the eve of September 11th. I was sitting in the same chair a year ago hearing, with disbelief, the atrocious happenings a mere 40 miles from me. Although I have not been directly affected by the events of 911, many things pass through my mind on this mournful eve. · I fear for my children’s future – what kind of world are they growing up in? A world that is materialistic on the one side, and fanatical on the other. Will they walk into a department store in New York one day and be blown up by a stranger? Will they board a plane destined to crash into a building? Will they become a casualty in a war that no one can hope to win, and that the only loser is Mankind? · What is the point in worrying about the little things – or ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ – the number of times I have told my children off for a messy bedroom, or for not putting their bowl in the sink – the number of times I have complained about a colleague being ten minutes late – the number of times that I complain about others who I do not know and have never met – it simply isn’t worth the stress – life is far more important than worrying about the little things! · CIAO, money and all that – I first joined CIAO for money, then when that dried up I kept on going for the accolades – it’s amazing how a PF award can stir one’s ...

The Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring (DVD) 10/09/2002

An excellent addition to any DVD collection

The Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring (DVD) ***I have put the DVD Extras first as many people will already have read much about the actual movie! I have also included an updated and expanded version of my original movie opinion; having watched the movie several times I am able to be a little more indepth!*** -Theatrical (PG-13) version of the film – this is the main reason for buying the movie! I am unsure if it truly merits a PG-13 rating as my 11 year olds found it to be very watch able. There are a few gruesome parts in the movie but generally I believe the movie is suitable for 11+. Parts to watch out for that may cause ‘children’ to have nightmares – one scene where Bilbo’s eyes bulge and his tongue goes purple (this is at Rivendell as he asks to have a look at the ring) – my kids actually laughed at this part but it is a little creepy. Legolas’s accurate arrow that you follow right into the Goblin’s skull – YUK! -Exclusive 10-minute behind-the-scenes preview of The Two Towers-this is a quick mini documentary that features some scenes from the upcoming movie interspersed with an interview with Peter Jackson. It is a tantalizing view of what looks like an even better and darker second movie. I simply cannot wait for ‘The Twin Towers’ to be released in December. It does have some scenes from the first movie (such as Gollum sitting on a rock) but mostly it concentrates on the second movie and what look like stunning ...

Everything that starts with X ... 05/09/2002

Xenophobes beware - CIAO should go world wide

Everything that starts with X ... Cutting edge technology & CIAO – this may sound like an Oxymoron, but CIAO must embrace new technologies if it is to continue to succeed in the ever demanding world that is the web. … One thing that wows consumers is cutting edge technology. Recently a new form of transportation was introduced to the general public – major investor back this contraption that seemingly allows people to get around inner cities on a small, mobile unit that is kinder to the environment as well as having the ability to zip in between traffic. Essentially, in this world, Cutting Edge technology is often used to push forward the ‘easiness’ of life for humans, while making someone a lot of money. Unfortunately for me, all the ‘cutting edge’ ideas I have had, have appeared on the market a couple of months before I could even think of getting financial backing for any of these projects – quite simply there is always someone who seems to get there first. Well, although there are already great advances in the area I want to discuss (mostly in development for the next generation online games) I feel CIAO has the chance to impress the online community while serving its members at the same time. The technology involved is cutting edge and simply doesn’t exist yet, but it will – the idea is to be the first to highlight this area of ‘cutting edge’ and the press will essentially give you free advertising. So what am I ...

Atari Arcade Hits (PC) 28/08/2002

A nostalgic look at early computer games

Atari Arcade Hits (PC) Remember the thrill of running down to the local arcade to pump the machine full of money, playing 2-d 1 colour games? Well now you can do the same at home on your PC without having to have a pocket full of change. 'Atari Arcade Hits' contains six emulations of classic arcade games. Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Tempest, Super Breakout, and Pong. These classic games have been ported directly into your PC – they look, play and feel like the originals. The graphics are not stunning, in fact by today’s standard they are pretty poor, however the game-play more than makes up for this. The games are all highly addictive and this is why I used to spend many hours down the arcades pushing 10p pieces into a little slot! I guess that this pack will only really appeal to the older generation that is trying to capture a little of their childhood as the games are not in depth like today’s modern games. However, one of my daughter’s does like many of these games, and when not playing Spyro, Bards Tale, etc. she can be found trying to go just one more level on Asteroids! The first ever computer video game featured a black and white screen, two 'bats', a 'ball' and not much more. The idea is simply to hit the ball back at your opponent, using the various possible angles and speeds to attempt to make your opponent miss. This game is fairly boring compared to today's games, but will be compelling and fairly addictive to ...

Spyro the Dragon (PlayStation) 26/08/2002

Addictive game with cruelty to SHEEP

Spyro the Dragon (PlayStation) It’s almost 25 years since I started using computers and playing computer games. Although I tended to concentrate on roleplaying games and strategy games, I have occasionally dipped into the arcade and played a few platform games. Most of these games were 2-d and involved jumping up and down on platforms, collecting jewels and avoiding monsters – they were generally fun to play but had limited appeal to me as there was so much repetition. So 25 years later and it’s the year 2002, my kids have a Playstation and they’ve been pestering me for weeks to buy them the coolest game out there. After several minutes of detailed description by my ever enthusiastic children I realize they are talking about a concept I am familiar with – it’s a platform game, albeit in 3-d. After much thought and some very good behavior by my children – they really know how to suck up – I succumbed and bought them Spyro. As I mentioned before I am predominately a Roleplaying gamer or Strategy fan; however, this game has captivated me, it is full of humour, has enough variation to make you play one more level, and has excellent sound and very good graphics to make this a pleasant game to watch. There are many sections that are very hard to play making this a challenging as well as long game. I have throuoghly enjoyed watching and playing this game and as it is a fairly old game, it is reasonably priced – you can probably buy it ...

Revels 23/08/2002

Lots of chocolate balls and nuts

Revels Over the years I have had many favourite chocolates. I went through a phase where I literally ate a box of Malteasers a day! Then there was the phase when I went through many packets of Treats (peanut Variety). One bag of assorted chocolates has always appealed to me because of the variation, but has never become an addiction. On opening a bag of Revels you never really know what you are going to get. Generally you get an assortment of different chocolates, but once in a blue moon you may find that special pack of revels that only has one type of chocolate in it – I found this once and to my disgust had a bag full of coffee centred revels! If you are lucky you will generally get an assortment of the following: Orange Centre – the orange center is fairly good, with a slight sweet taste. The chocolate (as with the rest of the sweets in the pack) is generally of good quality although is a little thin at times, barely covering the center. The main problem with the Orange Centre is the texture – it’s like eating orange flavored fine sand – it is very grainy and generally off-putting. Having said that, the Orange Centre isn’t disgusting, it’s just not one of the better chocolates in the pack. Coffee Centre – take out the orange flavour and add a slightly bitter and strong flavour of coffee and there you have it – Coffee Centre! The Coffee Centre suffers the same downfalls as the Orange Centre; however, what makes it ...

Top 10 Songs of All Time 20/08/2002

My personal list

Top 10 Songs of All Time Trying to develop a list of my favorite top ten songs of all time was seemingly impossible. I first listed all the songs that I liked a lot – well after about 100 I gave up! I then narrowed the list down by picking only one song by a band, again I had over 100 songs. Finally I decided to list songs that had a high impact on my life for varying reasons. Thus I was able to bring the list down to a more manageable list and eventually whittle it down to a top 10 list. So in reverse order, here are my top ten favourite songs; you may be amazed to find only 1 Rush song in here, I was tempted to list 10 Rush songs, but I would be lying to you!!!!! 10 Imagine, John Lennon This really is a very deep song that not only highlighted what kind of man John Lennon was, but also made me think very deeply of all the troubles that are around today. This is a very haunting song for me because it tells me how our ‘civilized’ society is failing at almost every stage and simply is not dealing with the basics that I would say are essential for a ‘civilized society’. The melody is a very simple and repetitive melody that doesn’t overshadow the lyrics – it’s gentleness is perfect as it almost helps to magnify the message that the lyrics are trying to give. ‘Imagine there's no heaven, It's easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people living for today... Imagine there's no countries, It isnt ...

Member Advice on Voluntary Euthanasia 20/08/2002

Living wills must become a standard part of life

Member Advice on Voluntary Euthanasia Having read several opinions on Euthanasia I thought I’d add my two pence worth! Several years ago my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had bone cancer and brain tumors. One of her tumors was in the base of her spine and was incredibly painful. Essentially she was given six months to live. For the first three months my mother was a trouper and fought, keeping the medication to a minimal amount and attending radiation treatment. However, as the time went by the pain increased to such an extent that my mother was always crying. She was a strong woman and pain didn’t normally bother her, so I knew how immense this pain was. Finally after three months she talked to me and said she had had enough and didn’t have the strength to continue. She signed a ‘living will’ form and accepted more morphine. At this point in time my mother essentially died – although we had snippets of the real mum, mostly she was delirious and didn’t know who or where she was. We simply had to watch and wait for my mother to do. This is the most difficult thing I have ever done as I watched her disappear in front of me (both in terms of weight and mental abilities); her pain was still incredible despite the morphine, and I felt frustrated, angry and powerless as I couldn’t assist her further. One part of me held back hoping that she would miraculously recover, or perhaps a doctor would find an instant cure, but the other part of me, the ...

Everything that starts with L ... 16/08/2002

Lead me away.....

Everything that starts with L ... While in a creative mode I am working on a short story about a very shy person who really doesn't want to deal with life and the implications of what living really means. I guess part of this is self biogrpahical as I was partly like this before I met my wife. However, trying to delve into this character and to try and find out what this person feels and desires I wrote the following poem. Please feel free to write comments on what this poem portrays and whether there are deeper meaning I am not seeing! This is part of a creative process for me and I would appreciate some feedback! ..... Lead me away, From this feeble wall, That surrounds my soul barring entrance. Lead me away, From the pain and tears, That imprisons the freedom of my heart. Lead me away, From the anger and hatred, That barrages my very existence. Lead me away, From the sordid indulgences, That threatens to destroy my being. Lead me away, From the material desires, That simply breeds self-loathing. Lead me away, From the worries and woes, That ensnares me in mendacity. Lead me away, From the desires of life, That taunts and torments me. Lead me away, From the very fabric of the universe, That is me. .....

The Belgariad - David Eddings 16/08/2002

Obvious and weak fantasy series

The Belgariad - David Eddings I have perhaps read over a thousand fantasy novels in my lifetime; some have been highly detailed and pure magic (Lord of the Rings) and others have been pure drivel. However, over the years I have noticed a formula that seemingly works. Generally you have an unknown young character, make him surprise everyone with his skill, and then make him a king or something! This has worked for many writers – Raymond E Feist (Pug the Magician), Tolkien (Bilbo the hobbit), Rowling (Harry Potter) and perhaps most obviously David Eddings (Garion) What is interesting to note here is that years after publication of the Belgarid series, David admitted that he was not the sole author of the books – indeed his loving wife Leigh Eddings helped substantially. The Belgariad is made up of five books, each a separately contained story but all leading to a conclusion with a solid theme behind them. The books are Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry and Enchanter’s End Game. In my opinion the whole series could have been truncated into three books making it an easier ‘trilogy’ to read. The whole five-book storyline is really based upon a very simple concept – this being a fight between good and evil. We find ourselves following the life of Garion, a young boy who lives on a farm with his Aunt Pol. A strange man visits and warns Aunt Pol that she must leave with Garion. With the help of a farm ...

Hemispheres (Digitally Remastered) - Rush 14/08/2002

A whole world of music

Hemispheres (Digitally Remastered) - Rush You may or may not have gathered by now that I am a huge Rush fan? Rush are a progressive rock band made up of three Canadian music virtuosos. What is progressive Rock? In Rush’s case it is the combination of various styles, ranging from Heavy Rock, Soft Rock and all the way down to soft Ballads. (Rivendell a song on the ‘Fly By Night’ album is a perfect example of a Rush Ballad. Geddy Lee on Vocals, Bass and sometimes synthesizer gives Rush their distinctive sound combining high-energy bass with a high-pitched voice that often defies gravity. Alex Lifeson is lead guitarist – his precision chords and amazing solos define the musical style of Rush combining hard rock and soft classical music together effortlessly. Neil Peart – despite several personal tragedies in recent years he still remains the best Rock percussionist of all time – his boundless energy and skill pushes back the musical barriers of this amazing instrument. …. After the trio’s album ‘A Farewell to Kings’ we hear about a voyage of Rocinante into the black hole Cygnus X-1. This left many questions unanswered – did they survive? Did their ship survive? This story telling epitomizes the style of early Rush and leaves us hanging on the edge waiting for the next installment in the story. Luckily the wait wasn’t too long as Cygnus C-1 continues on the album Hemispheres. On first look at the album you may be disappointed ...

Planet Of The Apes (DVD) 05/08/2002

APEalling movie

Planet Of The Apes (DVD) **Please note that this is a review of the 2001 movie - I just realised this is in the wrong category so have emailed CIAO to create a new category for the latest movie** Mark Wahlberg stars in this modernization of the classic movie (and series) Planet of the Apes. With 21st century special effects and an excellent cast could this latest version of the movie dwarf the success of the original? My first impressions were that the production and direction of the movie were very good. The storyline developed slowly giving the audience a chance to settle down and become acquainted with the main character. As the suspense built and the main character (and his favorite ape) both disappeared into an electro-magnetic storm, my over-critical mind started working. Firstly, the end of the movie immediately jumped out at me – it is perhaps one of the most obvious twists I have seen in a movie for a long time. Secondly, and definitely over-critical of me, is the fact that it’s amazing how someone who is trained to be an astronaut can suddenly become a super-hero capable of organizing a rabble that has been fighting a forlorn battle for years, into a force to be reckoned with. That said, and accepting the flaws in the underlying reasoning of the concept of the movie, I began to watch what was an enjoyable movie. The story isn’t particularly complex; the afore mentioned astronaut crash lands on a planet in the future. Much to his dismay and disbelief, Apes rule ...

Everything that starts with R ... 02/08/2002

Really bored tonight

Everything that starts with R ... OK so I'm bored and after reading AngusReid's poetry thought I'd have a stab at some more poetry.....hope you like it! Oops just noticed I'm a spammer in the Cafe!!! Twilight Intuitively, perhaps forlornly, Reaching out for the new dawn, As a babes innocence is torn asunder, Life’s wickedness infiltrates, infuriates, Tarnishes our souls with sordid indulgence, That no sobriety will ever cleanse, Stretching to find the light, Sightless eyes turned inward, As materialistic rules abound, And matter wins over mind, Our hope and desires lay wasted, On a battlefield we cannot see, And yet we march onwards, Resolutely towards a hidden goal, An unknown Xanadu, That promises opulently, With a lurid enticement, That threatens our being. And like lemmings we jump, Not knowing or caring, Or understanding the ultimate goal, Not realizing our objective, Until it is too late, and we reach the zenith, That is our own personal twilight. © Simon Cook 2002

Different Stages (Live/Live Recording) - Rush 02/08/2002

An excellent compilation of Rush through the years

Different Stages (Live/Live Recording) - Rush You may or may not know, but I am a big Rush fan. Having recently buying their latest release “Vapor Trails” and attending an amazing concert on their “Vapor Trails” tour, I got all nostalgic and wanted to play all my Rush albums again! As I listen to most music in the car on my commute to work, I raided my CD collection and found that I had very little Rush on CD!!! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhh! Well I rushed to the store and though – there are so many to buy? Which one should I get? Well after spying “Different Stages” I thought, what better than to get a live album that also has 3-CDs and an abundance of my favorite Rush songs on it!!! Different stages is perhaps the ultimate Rush CD – not only is it a compilation of their best tracks from the last 25 years (pre Vapor Trails), but it is also a live CD. Now If you’ve never been to a Rush concert then this CD will give you an insight into their skill and energy! This double CD (with a bonus third CD of their Hammersmith Odeon concert in London 1978) captures the energy and excitement of a Rush concert without the acrimony of having to put up with a ton of pot smoke! The box set is pretty well packaged with an exciting collage of much Rush paraphernalia, a nifty little page that describes a free PC program on disc 1 and of course three CDs – two of the CDs are nestled neatly in folders in the box set – the third is loose and perhaps is easily ...

Everything that starts with Q ... 02/08/2002

Orgasmic titles get more reads....

Everything that starts with Q ... ***Before you go and shout at me for giving spammers some ideas on how to gain reads and generally disrupting Ciao, they already know these ‘secrets’ and probably a lot more than this!*** ***Warning, I have used some innuendos in this opinion – you have been warned*** Like a sedentary cow I sit at my desk trying to think of a funny Friday evening subject to write about. Rather than go into an explicative filled opinion on how much my joints ache, I thought I’d take a lighthearted look at how to increase your reads of your opinions without doing much work. 1) Using the new ‘daily’ facility – right click on every opinion in the list and open in a new window. After about thirty seconds start clicking ‘Very Helpful’. After a mere five minutes or less you will have read about 50 ops, and if only one in then of those read one of your ops then you’ve gained 5 reads easily! Wait a minute, whatdya mean I actually have to read those darned opinions! 2) Log off ciao and click on your own opinion 100s of times! It’ll look like (in the top twenty) that your opinion has been read 100s of times – curious readers may enter the opinion to find out ‘what all the fuss is about’! Whatdya mean this is cheating. 3) Perhaps the only way to legitimately gain loads of reads is to add some innuendo to your title, even if it has nothing to do with the opinion; opinions like the ones below will definitely ...
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