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My Booky Wook - Russell Brand 22/01/2009

My Booky Wook

My Booky Wook - Russell Brand I think I began reading Russell Brand's ludicrously titled book My Booky Wook because I was repelled and rather un-amused by the antics of this somewhat androgynous self created character that kept appearing everywhere I looked on television. He seemed to embody all that was the very stuff of twenty first century celebrity to me. The image he appeared to be projecting was of a very self aware Tourette 's syndrome sufferer who had realised that the market value of his condition was bankable and decided to flaunt it. Even though my initial reaction to this freak with a hair style that would probably win him a single handed yacht race across the Pacific Ocean was negative in the extreme I just had this feeling that I was either missing something very funny here or that he may have some redeeming features and I had judged him too harshly. After all, it's a big planet and there's plenty of room for everybody, loads of space for all shapes, sizes and peculiar dispositions and even hair styles. And I must confess to being something of a serial reader; it may be a throwback to my childhood days when I used to collect Trump Cards with an obsession that I would have been reluctant to admit. I seemed to spend an enormous amount of my time obsessing about owning full sets of things like Star Wars figures; I could never be happy until everything was complete. Perhaps this is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, if so I am a self confessed OCD sufferer but so far it appears to have ...

Atonement (DVD) 05/01/2009

A Sorry Story

Atonement (DVD) Atonement: something done to make amends for wrongdoing. The story of Atonement begins in the sumptuous and idyllic setting of an upper class family who live in a huge country mansion. It initially takes place in 1935 pre war Britain and it is a very compelling and complex film. Basically it is the tale of the relationship of two sisters and a local man. A love triangle of sorts. Bryony is thirteen, and a very precocious, sensitive, creative and highly strung individual. Her older sister Cecilia is a vivacious, 20 something, and is a very beautiful creature indeed. Bryony harbours a fascination with her sister and a jealousy of the attention that centres on her. There is a man at the heart of this tale, Robbie, the housekeeper's son whose studies have been financed by Cecilia's father and whom Cecilia is very much in love with. She keeps it hidden though, because, as she says to Bryony, when asked by her sister, why she didn't really talk to him any more; Cecilia's reply was, "Because we move in different circles". So here it appears, was the class divide that evidently separates the love that they felt for one another. Whilst collecting flowers in the grounds a vase is broken and Cecilia strips off and plunges in to the fountain to retrieve the broken piece, as she surfaces, Robbie is filled with desire at witnessing her body through her wet clothes. Unable to put his passion into words, Robbie goes home and composes a note to her. He composes two actually, one is ...

Everything that starts with C ... 28/06/2007

Ciao meltdown, lend your support 27/6/07

Everything that starts with C ... I have contributed reviews to Ciao and enjoyed the chat facilties of the site immensely over the past few months. I have found the vast majority of members' reviews very entertaining and informative. However, like other Ciao members I have often been incredibly frustrated by the slowness and unpredictability of the Ciao server. It has been my experience that messages in the chat rooms are often not delivered, often go missing and sometimes disappear completely. I have had similar experiences with public and private messages. Personally I call it the 'Ciao Time Warp' where messages seem to disappear and re-appear in a rather random manner. Conversations rapidly become impossible because messages are either not posted or become so out of sync that all meaning is lost. There are similar frustrations caused by ratings that will not adhere to reviews and comments that disappear only to reappear at some random time later. I have also wasted quite a lot of my time editing reviews only to find that the revised version is not published or has simply disappeared. Finally there is the highly variable problem of speed or lack of it to be precise. While I appreciate that server speed is affected by traffic, I have often timed page changes that have taken in excess of one minute. I think the Ciao community of members deserve something better than what is currently available. To this end I would encourage all active members to sign this petition for a more efficient ...

Top 10 Songs of All Time 21/06/2007

Top Ten Worst Songs of All Time

Top 10 Songs of All Time This is my personal list of the top ten worst songs of all time. I’m sure there are hundreds more. The order is loose and I’m really not sure if number one should really be number ten. I suppose it all depends on the non-listening mood I’m in. 1: Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus Country and Western, but not as we know it. Written by Vietnam vet Don ‘Pickle Puss’ (Pickle Puss for Gawd’s sake!) Von Tress in the style of a brain-dead Blue Suede Shoes, Achy Breaky Heart represented every prejudice non-believers have about country: It was trite, it was inane, it was big in trailer parks and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the obese. Strangely, it was covered by Bruce Springsteen, with slightly less irony than you might imagine; still, this does not make it good. Its worst moment was an instrumental break that single-handedly rejuvenated the line-dancing fad. 2: Ebony and Ivory, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder See, it’s a metaphor: 'Side by side on my piano/keyboard, oh, Lord, why don’t we?' McCartney and Wonder want the races to get along as peacefully as the white and black keys on a piano; which seems unlikely, since the white keys didn’t enslave the black keys for hundreds of years. The anguished idealism inspired a duet between Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo: 'I am dark and you are light, you are blind as a bat and I have sight.' This has got to be one of the most inane and limp wristed songs of all time. It probably did as much for racial harmony as a weekend Ku ...

Band Of Brothers (Tin) (DVD) 08/06/2007

We band of brothers

Band Of Brothers (Tin) (DVD) "The heroes have crosses above their heads, the ones that are buried in the cemeteries. Those are the true heroes, not us. We're just part of the works, that's all. And we thank God we got back alive." A veteran of Easy Company. First of all, I realize that my review about Band of Brothers is quite lengthy, and for that I apologize because I am aware that long commentaries have the habit of becoming tedious or even self indulgent.. But I feel I would be doing a great disservice to the Band of Brothers experience by not being as thorough as possible. Experiencing Band of Brothers starts not in the battlefields of Europe, nor in Camp Toccoa, Georgia. It begins in your hand, with the classically beautiful packaging of the 10 episode, six disc DVD set that is housed in a metal tin that at first glance resembles a military I.D. dog tag. With sepia-tone printing and logo embossing that emulates photography of the period, the tin opens up to reveal an accordion style pull out of all six discs and a table of contents printed in the inside of the front cover. It makes perfect sense to house a story of such humanity and historical import in such a well-designed package. It's almost as if you are opening a time capsule of sorts that reveals the story of a rapidly disappearing generation of Americans. Just another example of the attention to detail that makes the Band of Brothers experience so riveting. I first read Steven Ambrose’s book about the citizen soldiers who fought ...

Member Advice on Having Children 25/05/2007

Making a Baby (Part One)

Member Advice on Having Children Part One: Making a Baby You may think you know how to make a baby. But do you really understand all of the intricate details? Sure, you've got the basics covered - man meets woman, they both get naked and have sex, and nine months later, out pops a little fella. But there's a lot more to it than that, not to mention a host of modern variations on that theme. Feeling inadequate and ill informed? Good, let us proceed. Knowledge is power and before we begin to bake this complicated little cake we need a detailed recipe. Making a baby is a serious business, after all we are about to bring a new life into the world, and we really need to know what we are getting into here. Remember, like a puppy, a baby is for life. Making one is really the easy part. For instance, do you know exactly where sperm and eggs come from, or how these two microscopic miracle-makers find each other and create a new life? Or that women have only about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant during each cycle, even if you time it just right? We'll spare you that awkward talk you probably got from your parents or primary or secondary school teacher and instead give you just the facts - the fascinating biological facts about getting pregnant. And we'll do it all without a single reference to Davina McCall who really doesn't know what she's talking about anyway. For women, the possibility of pregnancy begins in the ovaries, those two kiwi-shaped balls attached to either side of your uterus. The ...

Fiction 22/05/2007


Fiction This is a place I sometimes go to. It's aptly named Was Faraway The early morning sun stole through the shutters and alighted on Sara’s slumbering face. The rapid movement behind her closed eyelids betrayed the vestige of a vivid dream soon to be chased away by the coming light. As the first glow of the day fell upon her sleeping face her eyes opened suddenly, widened and then squinted painfully in the glare. She yawned and stretched out her body like a cat awakening, her arms spreading wide. One arm found the other pillow and her face betrayed puzzlement as she found his half of the bed cool and empty of his sleeping form. He had risen before dawn, but for what? For a moment she stared stupidly at the space he had occupied and wrestled with the question of his absence. Her thoughts were interrupted by a harsh mechanical sound that came from the yard below. Crawling across the bed on all fours she reached out to push open one of the closed shutters. It swung ajar with a falsetto squeak and in poured the full light of the new day. She peered out of the window and her gaze settled on the source of the noise in the yard below, There he was, bent over the grindstone with his blade held close to the wheel, sparks flying, moving his right leg in steady rhythm on the strung treadle. Her gaze softened as she rested her bare arms on the sill and watched him at his labour, her man, her Connal. He looked so handsome and serious as he bent over his work with the sword. His ...

Mini Sagas 20/05/2007

Tales Out of School

Mini Sagas Before I came to the world of adults with learning disabilities I taught for about 8 years in a number of primary schools ranging from the North East of England to sunny Cambridgeshire. Though I love my present job I still have many fond memories of life with the little guys. Here are just a few. REGIMENTAL SARGEANT MAJOR, COLDSTREAM GUARDS, RETIRED Bill S was just about the last of his kind: a headmaster of the old school with a philosophy that belonged somewhere back in the post war days of sweet rationing and rickets. He had gained his post through his deep rooted affiliation to the Labour party and Methodist church; he was a member of the local mafia and frankly not someone who you would want to get close to your children. He firmly believed that all kids, especially little boys, were inherently evil. As a newly qualified teacher in the borough of Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear (now North Tyneside), my lot was to be weighed, counted and measured by the LEA screening and selection board for prospective probationary teachers. In the event I could bullsh*t with the best of them and passed through this screening of hopeful newbies with flying colours. The august body of local worthies that constituted the LEA’s interviewing panel had decided that I was worthy of one of their flagship schools. I found out later that I was graded ‘A’ on a scale of ‘A’ to ‘D’, where ‘D’ was totally useless. Great start and a true measure of my ability to spout quality bullsh*t (this was to ...

Schindler's List (DVD) 20/05/2007

Lest we forget.

Schindler's List (DVD) PROLOGUE AND RATIONALE My mother was forever a strange combination of Geordie and Jewish extraction (forget a Mother's Day at your peril) ;' to a dog it should happen, bonny lad!!' Because of the fate of her ancestors in 1940's Europe she had not been able to watch Schindler's List despite my gentle persusasion to do so. Perhaps one day we might have sat down together and shared this experience, but I think I'm in for a long wait now, even with my tenuous belief in reincaranation. She was a stubborn old bugger who knew her own mind until her last years, but I loved her dearly. So without her permission, which she would have been most reluctant to give because of the subject matter of this review, I dedicate these words to her and those of her family that were lost (eshet chayi). I have recently been watching the excellent BBC series Nuremberg, The Nazis on Trial and this prompted me to rent a DVD copy of Schindler's List, a movie I had seen at the cinema when it was first released in 1993. I think it was the shameless posturing and denial of the incredibly arrogant Herman Goering during the BBC depiction of his trial that prompted me to revisit the subject of the Holocaust. Even today, it is a subject that is so uncomfortable, so difficult to comprehend as a historical reality that we almost avoid talking about it. The more politically extreme of us even deny that it occurred because of its sheer scale and improbability. It is too horrific to fully comprehend the ...

Frank Miller's 300 06/04/2007

Frank Miller's 300

Frank Miller's 300 Background 300 is the second Frank Miller graphic novel to be adapted for the big screen. The first was the critically acclaimed Sin City and the director Zack Snyder has used the same process of photocopying panels from the original comic book to plan out the finished look of his latest movie. The final result is a visually stunning combination of live action and CGI that is remarkably faithful to Miller's original artwork. It is quite literally a comic novel brought to life and the superb quality of Miller's graphic creations are a guarantee of stunning eye candy throughout. Plot Summary The story of the movie is based on the Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC in which 300 Spartan warriors held off a Persian army of up to 1 million indigenous and mercenary soldiers against all the odds. The two main protagonists are King Leonidas of Sparta and King Xerxes of Persia. Greece now lies in the path of a massive and all conquering Persian army and the military state of Sparta is called upon to buy time for the rest of the Greek states to rally by fighting a holding action. The bullish Leonidas is more than ready to spill some Persian blood and he demonstrates this quite emphatically by despatching a group of emissaries who have come to Sparta seeking terms of surrender in advance of their invading army. Despite his aggressive and murderous display of contempt for the Persian threat, Leonidas does not receive the blessing of the council of Sparta to make war with Xerxes. He ...

Valentines Day Poem 22/02/2007

Faerie lights hanging in willow trees.

Valentines Day Poem And you were my travelling companion through subtle currents, We glided past faerie lights festooned in willow trees, Through a night made for the composition of songs and wine. We sailed the cygnet together, keeping a casual watch on banks, You played and I sang, through gossamer tendrils of mist, Of twilight and the gentle caress of quiet waters flowing. And though the night was warm and the haze was our friend. (This is how it went, this is how it was). Somedays we thought about the seaside, And built sandcastles on the blankets, And paddled in the pillows, Or swam in the kitchen sink, And played with shoals of friendly fishes. Other days we made lovesongs with our bodies, Moved to our songs and swam in still ponds, Of opalescent moonlit waters, Unclothed and unconcerned. Alive and embracing, in love. You sang, I played true chords and harmonies. You laughed and I saw the colours in your paintbox. And the light summer rain made watercolours for us. River-washed hair and reflected sun drenched green, I played, you sang, you ate, I laughed. And spontaneously, cherry tomatoes on a riverbank, Became comedy slapstick and clowns falling about. Dappled and impossible sunlight enveloped us, As you ate with surprised and sultry smiles, As I fed you with the enthusiasm of a small child. In our secret place with wind whispering willows. It was not all sparkling gems on sunlit water. We sailed near the isle of wounded souls, And held each ...

Everything that starts with P ... 22/02/2007

A Parrot in a Plum Tree

Everything that starts with P ... A PARROT IN A PLUM TREE I don't know about you but I've had a thing about parrots for as long as I can remember. Even when the big green one in the Manchester Arms nearly took my bloody finger off last Christmas, my fascination was not diminished. They are so interesting, especially when you give them something to handle like a brazil nut. I struggle with a soft boiled egg and toast soldiers, lucky to keep a yolk free shirt. Yet the parrot manipulates and devours the nut with an efficiency that leaves a ham fisted human like me standing. And it does all this with its feet and beak. I can't even crack a Christmas walnut without shell shrapnel and fallout. Ah, the wonders of evolution; the parrot is the articulate artisan of the bird world. When it comes to last orders I can just about remember my name and can't always say it because I'm concentrating so hard on standing and walking. Yet that splendid green feathered fella is still reciting, 'Julio's an old bugger!' with perfect diction, while standing on one leg and nibbling his nuts. Julio is his given name, as in 'Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard', and his repertoire of profanity is nothing less than impressive. This bad bird could give the most acute tourette's sufferer more than a run for their money, I kid you not. He has obviously developed his colourful turns of phrase following years of exposure to drunken idiots like myself who gladly give up moments of their leisure time to increase his vocabulary. It still ...

Fifteen-Firsts 21/02/2007

I guess there's a first time for everything.

Fifteen-Firsts 1. FIRST BROKEN BONE I was playing around at the local indoor swimming pool, a stupid game of tig. For some insane reason the game moved to the high diving board. I was 12 at the time and remember feeling high up and safe from pursuers. Suddenly someone appeared and I dodged under the handrail on the high diving platform. I fell backwards about 3 metres and actually did a somersault through the air. I landed on my back, smack on the poolside tiles. Result, one fractured scapula and clavicle. I remember how the broken collar bone would not allow me to hold my head upright. It was like having a broken neck. Worst of all were the waking dreams of falling backwards through space, I still get then occasionally. I was in a cast that made my right arm stick out bent and horizontally for weeks; putting a shirt on with one hand used to make me cry with frustration. 2. FIRST DEGREE Was awarded at Durham University, I was now a Bachelor of Education. I remember shaking hands with the chancellor of the university in all his finery and thinking, 'Cheers mate, you're giving me this scroll for four years of getting pissed, falling over a lot and surviving on Mars Bars and toast. Good deal!'. But seriously, there was a lot of hard work leading up to finals; including more than one cold shower, fully clothed to wake me up for marathon, 48 hour study sessions. I suppose I was one of the lucky ones, a natural teacher who loved kids and adrenaline that favoured fight, not flight in exams. I ...

reveals yourself in 100 questions... 21/02/2007

I Reveal Myself in 100 Questions

reveals yourself in 100 questions... 1 - First Names: Brian which is of Celtic, Gaelic or Irish origin and means 'strong'. What inspired my loving parents to call me this I cannot say; I am not impressively strong and not particularly strong willed. If I focus and prepare my mind and body properly, I can, however crush plastic cups and rip tissues clean in half. And if I really work myself up into a Hulk type frenzy, I have been known to crush the odd grape just for the hell of it (I'm a terror and just don't care sometimes). 2 - Pseudo(s)? Bri, nobody who knows me calls me Brian. My partner has a few other bedroom names for me but I would get soundly thrashed if I revealed them here. 3 - Girl or boy? I am male but have been known to get in touch with my feminine side on more than one occasion. Once went to a gangsters, molls and stiffs party dressed as a moll (and have pics to prove it). Oddly enough, women were fascinated by my fake boobs and I was fondled to death all night. Of course I protested loudly in my best falsetto voice. Then got my stilettos stuck between floorboards and was a sitting target. In case you're wondering I really did borrow those shoes from a real policewoman. 4 - Towns? (Birthplace and living town) Born in North Shields; now North Tyneside. Shields is an old English word for a boat turned upside down and made into a shelter. Swam the River Tyne for a dare when I was 15 and lived to write this (following stomach pump). Now live in sunny St Ives in Cambridgeshire, a ...

Apocalypto (DVD) 21/01/2007

Apocalypto, an unveiling and a new beginning

Apocalypto (DVD) PREAMBLE Apocalypto is Mel Gibson's latest and somewhat controversial offering as a director. Though the movie has attracted a great deal of well deserved critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, it is not without its detractors. It has been labelled as violent pornography by an eminent professor of archaeology and historical rubbish by a host of affronted academics. But who the hell goes to the movies to be educated? Surely it's all about entertainment, being thrilled and amazed at how far someone is willing to push the media to new heights of wonder. Whether Gibson is a religious sociopath or a reckless twister of historical reality is irrelevant to me. Above all he is a director who is willing to take risks, dares to be controversial and in latter years delivers unique and visually stunning entertainment that allows us poor working saps to escape and enjoy an alternative reality for a few precious hours. Gibson is a teller of tall stories, he has the ability to take an idea to the extreme limits of what is believable, but he never loses sight of why audiences go to the cinema. His William Wallace was so exaggerated and distorted that historians poured scorn on Braveheart. Having watched a documentary on the real William Wallace and discovered what a boring old fart he was in reality I remember saying a quiet thank you for Gibson's creation. Let's face it folks, Braveheart has done a lot more for the Scottish tourist industry and all things Scottish than the ...
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