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Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure - Dave Gorman 22/08/2010

Intelligent and heartfelt comedy

Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure - Dave Gorman I hadn't heard of Dave Gorman until recently. It turns out though, that once you bring him up in conversation, everyone knows of him, has seen a show, read a book, heard a rumour. Dave Gorman is a truly compelling man. Googlewhacking, chasing his namesakes, travelling across the States (and around the world) at a whim, letting his horoscope lead the way, living with Danny "Yes Man" Wallace- need I say more? This guy has a lot of stories to tell and he tells them so very well that people cannot help but listen and, even better, become wholly involved in Dave Gorman's adventures. Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure is an autobiographical book that follows Dave (I use first name terms because I now feel like I know him so well!) around the world in search of Googlewhacks. Incase you are unsure of what I'm talking about, a googlewhack is found by typing two words in to Google and only achieving one hit, ie only one website in the entire world includes those two keywords. It is a difficult task. Dave Gorman will vouch for that. To review this book in too much detail is risky. The whole experience is engrossing because you don't know what's happening next, where Dave is going to go or who he is going to meet. The jist of his tale is that, at the age of 31, he has decided it is time he grows up- no more silly adventures, whimsical decisions and no more accepting dares or wagers from friends. You will learn very early on that, despite all his best intentions, Dave Gorman is not ...

The Big Bang Theory - Series 1 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) 17/08/2010

Big Bang, Big Laughs

The Big Bang Theory - Series 1 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) After years of recommendations from my younger brother, "The BIg Bang Theory" fanatic, I decided to get him off my case and take advantage of E4's recent decision to show this American comedy from the beginning. I like a sitcom, not particularly those filmed in front of a live audience because the audience'slaughter sometimes annoys me- I think something's funnier when there isn't the sound of forced laughter in the background- but if the sitcom's good enough, I'll manage to ignore it and not let it put me off. "The Big Bang Theory" is based on a group of twenty-something genius scientists working at Caltech in Pasadena. The protagonists are: Leonard, the more socially adept experimental physicist; Sheldon the OCD stricken theoretical physicist super-geek; Rajesh, the particle astrophysicist who physically cannot utter a word when a woman is in the room; and Howard, the aerospace engineer and wannabe womaniser who really shouldn't be allowed to speak to women. When the lovely Penny moves in across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon in episode one, the obvious social and intellectual differences between the geeks and the rest of the human race come to the fore, often with hilarious consequences or chuckle-worthy moments in the least. Penny begins to teach them the social ways of the real world and, in turn, learns a little about the world of the geeks. Alongside their research on black holes, the laws of physics and their numerous experiments, the geeky group also enjoy ...

Evolution (DVD) 16/08/2010

Oh, How I Laughed!

Evolution (DVD) I caught the end of this gem of a movie yesterday on Channel 4 and felt the urge to review it. I'd forgotten just how much I like it. Let me start by saying, you have to have a certain type of comedic taste to like "Evolution". Think slapstick, stupidity, corny one-liners and something rather far-fetched and that is "Evolution". (Usually, that's not my type of humour but here it works and I can't help but laugh at it.) "Evolution" tells the story of a pair of science professors who discover an alien organism that has been growing in their town since it landed on Earth in a meteor. In an unlikely match, the professors, together with a geeky-but-sexy scientist, a wanna-be firefighter and some flunking students, uncover the secret to destroying the aliens, in order to save their town and, of course, the world. David Duchovny provides the male eye-candy in the role of Ira Crane, a discredited scientist turned teacher who falls for the geeky and clumsy, Alison Reed, played by Julianne Moore. Duchovny's sidekick is Harry Block, played by the lesser know Orlando Jones. Jones provides some wonderful comic relief in this movie, along with Sean William "Stiffler" Scott as the wannabe firefighter and unlikely hero, Wayne. Ivan Reitman, of "Ghostbusters" fame, directs and produces this movie and it does have that element of comedy that Reitman is famous for. "Ghostbusters", "Stripes", "Animal House" (1978) and "Twins" are just a few of the 80s (ish) films that Reitman has produced ...

The Missing Person's Guide to Love - Susanna Jones 13/08/2010

Mysterious and Frustrating in Equal Measures

The Missing Person's Guide to Love - Susanna Jones OK, to start with, here's the blurb: ...Isabel, Owen and Julia were childhood friends. But when they were fifteen, Julia disappeared without a trace – an event that had a devastating impact on the others. Years later, Isabel returns to her home town in the north of England for Owen’s funeral. She hadn’t seen him since they recklessly burned down the local supermarket together; he was sent to prison and she, just shy of her 18th birthday, to a young offenders’ centre. Isabel suspects that Owen was responsible for Julia’s murder, and she’s hoping finally to find some kind of resolution. Feeling cut off from her husband and child in Turkey, and awash with unexpected memories, Isabel ventures further into the murky depths of her past. But nothing is as it seems – either past or present – and as Isabel’s world unravels we finally realise the stunning, shattering truth... I had not heard of Susanna Jones before picking this book up. I also hadn't heard of the book even though it has been rated highly in several literary reviews and magazines. But, that blurb was pretty much irresistable to me. I bought this with the aim to read a thriller, a mystery, something that was going to keep me engrossed and wanting to read on. Did it do as I expected? Yes. This is certainly a book that will keep you guessing (probably a little too much so- you'll see what I mean!) Right from the start of "The Missing Person's Guide to Love", you can feel the suspense and mystery in the story. The ...

Toy Story 3 (DVD) 09/08/2010

The Third Time's A Charm

Toy Story 3 (DVD) In the the past fifteen years, if you've managed to avoid anything to do with Toy Story then you have certainly been living in a vaccuum. Since it's release in 1995, the Toy Story craze has swept the world and become one of the most loved kids' trilogies of all time. It's struck the hearts of millions because, like so many of Disney's and Pixar's films, it's not just a kid's film; adults love it just as much. Disney and Pixar have a unique way of creating films that are enjoyable for all ages- child-friendly animation is mixed with more mature humor, child-like characters are mixed with more mature themes- and it works. Toy Story 3 develops the characters that we have come to know and love from the first two movies. There's the usual loved characters: Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles) and Mrs Potato Head of course, Rex (Wallace Shawn), Hamm (John Ratzenberger) and the loveable Barbie. This time, they are joined by some new toys: Lotso (Ned Beatty) and most memorably, Ken (Michael Keaton). Other famous voices can be heard along the way- including, Whoopi Goldberg, Timothy Dalton and Richard Kind- all wanting to get in on the action. Perhaps the most welcomed character, for his hilarious comic relief, is Ken. Wonderfully camp and eccentric, his collage of costume changes in the centre of the movie is enough to make the grumpiest man laugh aloud. An anticipated character, seeing as Barbie has appeared in the ...

Picture Perfect - Jodi Picoult 01/08/2010

Not so Picture Perfect?

Picture Perfect - Jodi Picoult Even though Jodi Picoult has published 18 books to date and has been on our shelves since the early 90s, it is only recently that she has truly reached notoriety with her excellent novel "My Sister's Keeper". Readers of Picoult's work will realise that she is known for her courtroom dramas and for tackling (and handling well) difficult or taboo subjects- like witchcraft, child abuse and euthanasia. "Picture Perfect", published initially in 1995, does not follow the well-known and liked courtroom drama style, but Picoult does, as always, tackle a taboo topic- spousal abuse. Telling the story of Cassie and her Hollywood superstar husband, Alex Rivers, Picoult weaves a tale of obsession and secrecy, demonstrating that one cannot always know what goes on behind closed doors. Mixed with the story of Will Flying Horse who Cassie encounters at the start of the novel, we see Cassie's relationship with Alex unfold, from their spontaneous wedding and passionate love-making to Alex's compulsive behaviour and uncontrollable temper, juxtaposed with the tale of Will, a young Sioux Indian who tries to deny his heritage. Their stories link when both characters are trying to move away from the way of life that causes them great pain. As always, Picoult creates a world that you cannot help but to become enthralled in. The relationship between Cassie and Alex is so relaistic and emotive that you really cannot fault her characterisation here. This half of the novel is what you expect from ...

Four Christmases (DVD) 05/11/2009

Not What You Want from a Christmas Film

Four Christmases (DVD) Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn with a host of other well-known actors, including Robert Duval, Sissy Spacek and Jon Favreau, in a Christmas movie- sounds great, right? Can't go wrong? Oh boy, did it go wrong. Even though the premise has potential to be your typical family comedy, the movie itself becomes a little too serious for what it says it's going to be- marriage, families, commitment, lies, how your parents mess you up for life. All these issues don't really work with the Christmas comedy theme, in my opinion. Comedy-wise, I laughed- ONCE. Something tickled me about twenty five minutes in to the film, but that was it really. There was the odd moment where I thought I might smile, but cage-fighting brothers and cradle-snatching mothers, childhood traumas and fat camp jokes aren't really that funny. In fact, they are kind of predictable. It wasn't quite slapstick, more what I call "stupid comedy"- as in, if you're feeling kinda silly/ stupid, it's funny, but if you're not, then it's not. Reese Witherspoon played her role well (at least there was one saving grace) as the thirty something girlfriend who suddenly realises that yes, she does want to get married and have lots of babies. Her character was likeable, but not at all funny. Vaughn on the other hand was quite humorous (another tiny saving grace) but when isn't he? His character was, again, likeable and somewhat realistic but nothing to write home about. As for the other well-known members of the cast, they ...

Rogue - Danielle Steel 02/11/2009

Not her best. But readable nonetheless.

Rogue - Danielle Steel Those who have never read a Danielle Steel novel often have preconceptions about what is going to be written on the pages of her books. Instead of perceiving her stories as escapism, they see them as generic and old-fashioned chick-lit. But, let's be honest here- one doesn't become one of the world's best-selling female authors by being "generic" and "old-fashioned" in one's work. I dare anyone to read "The Gift" without feeling a tug on the old heartstrings or to read "Thurston House" without appreciating the flawless characterisation of the protagonists, Jeremiah and Camille. In general, Steel's novels are readable, emotive and, in a word, easy, and sometimes, you just need easy. "Rogue", published in June 2009, tells the story of world-reknown child psychologist Maxine Williams and her billionaire ex-husband, Blake. Like chalk and cheese, the two divorcees lead contrasting lives- Maxine as a single mum of three with a time-consuming but admirable profession, Blake as a rich playboy who lives for travel and women. Despite their divorce and differing ideas on pretty much everything, Maxine and Blake have maintained a close relationship for their children, allowing their freindship to grow to that of siblings and good friends. Steel portrays both protagonists well, making them easy to understand and easy to like. Her characterisation of the three children is reaistic, especially that of Daphne as she evolves in to a moody teenager. The only character that I couldn't get to ...

Laura Ashley 13/08/2009

"Good afternoon and Welcome to Laura Ashley!"

Laura Ashley Having worked for a variety of retailers over the past ten years- ranging from a well-known supermarket to a local small business- I have experienced both good employers and those to avoid. Laura Ashley Limited sits nicely in the middle, often reaching towards the "Places I Loved to Work" category. I have been with the company for just over a year. In this time, I have been promoted from Sales Leader (supervisor) to Assistant Manager. When promotion opportunities arrive, which is quite rarely in certain areas, I have to admit, the managers are more than happy to promote within, in order to keep the knowledge gained during training. I can understand that this is a negative idea to some, but from an insider's perspective, it worked well for me! Initially, the product knowledge required to work at Laura Ashley can be overwhelming. When colleagues and trainers informed me that the Laura Ashley catalogue would be my "bible", I didn't truly understand the significance of this magic book. It really does become your bible. In the beginning, you feel that you will never remember the names of the products- at Laura Ashley, every individual item has a name ie. Erin, Kendal, Mikela etc. With lots of hard work, repetition and a good memory, you really do become a fountain of knowledge about every item. The training is intense during the first few days, so far as to say it's overwhelming. But the support I had from current team members and trainers was relentless. The proximity of ...

The Diving-bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby 06/05/2009

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving-bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby The true story behind this novella is what drew me to reading it. Then, I did not know who Jean-Dominique Bauby was or, for that matter, what "locked- in syndrome" was. Not only does this book tell its reader a great deal about the author through the first person narration, but also via the obituary placed at the end of Bauby's emotive story. You come to learn Bauby's deepest fears, regrets, hopes and loves from this novella and everything you feel for him is cemented when you read the obituary. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is not your typical autobiography. It doesn't start with mundane and insignificant details of the author's childhood, followed by his struggle to rise to fame. In fact, it starts with his dreams, his darkest fears. As a reader, we are instantly drawn in to the hidden corners of Bauby's mind. He has no secrets from his reader. The poetic language and metaphors are again not what you'd expect from an autobiograpical piece. Bauby writes with such eloquence and elegance that his work appears at times to be more creative that non-fiction. The strength in this novella lies, however, in the reality of Bauby's unbearable situation. After a neurological malfunction, Bauby finds himself caught in the rare and life altering "locked in syndrome". He wrote this book not with pen and paper, but with his eyelid- the only muscle in his body that he had control over. The heart, passion and determination of this extra-ordinary man is undeniable. When you truly ...

Look Who it Is!: My Story - Alan Carr 20/04/2009

Alan Carr At His Best!

Look Who it Is!: My Story - Alan Carr Alan Carr is certainly one of those celebrities that you really do either love or hate. With such a strong sense of 'campness' and individuality, he either makes people cringe and turn the channel or roll off their chair laughing. Me, I am hooked. If Alan Carr is on the telly, I'm watching. His campness and ability to 'take the mick' out of himself is real, honest and, in my opinion, hysterical. In his autobiography, "Look Who It Is!", Carr catches the attention of his fans from the book cover. In memory of his childhood holidays at the beach, the comedian opts for a book sleeve that's guaranteed to entertain- a cartoon drawing of a weight lifter with his own cheesy grin peeping through insert-head-here hole. It's eye-catching to say the least! As with every autobiography, Alan Carr begins by talking of his childhood, one that was not particularly out of the ordinary despite his father's celebrity status in football circles. It is difficult in a book like this to entertain your reader whilst discussing your childhood. Where so many celbrities have tried and failed, Alan Carr has succeeded. Carr keeps audiences entertained by constantly alluding to his father's disappointment that his eldest son is no good at sports and, more importantly, by adding his trademark humour to the pages. In his book, Alan Carr is direct, honest and funny. You get exactly what you expect when you pick up this book. The trials and tribulations of making it as a comic are at the forefront of Carr's ...

Wall-E (DVD) 10/11/2008

Wall. E: the world's cutest robot

Wall-E (DVD) Set 800 years in the future, Wall.E tells the tale of a robot (Wall.E) programmed to clean up the devastating environmental damage that has caused what appears to be the decline and elimination of humans on Earth. The robot's daily routine is both endearing and witty. His love for human life, and dancing in particular, are evident from the collection of cultural memorabilia (including an iPhone, Pong and a VCR copy of "Hello Dolly", to name but a few) and his longing for human-like contact. During the film, he encounters Eve, a robot from outer space that has been sent to survey the remnants of Earth. Watching Wall.E attempt to 'court' Eve is both humorous and cute, reminiscent of a teenage boy in the awkward throes of first love. The story moves on to a far-off planet, where the remaining generations of humans have been living a technological life, so to speak. Obese, immobile, lacking free will and reliant on computers to keep order, humans have devolved in to a species subservient to computers. When Eve returns to their home ship with Wall.E in tow, chaos ensues and the rebellious robots must save the day. Although Wall.E has an Universal rating, suggesting its appropriateness for children, the movie is certainly available to adults and children alike, with several levels of story-telling apparent. Wall E is a moral tale that warns of the dangers of our current choices. Rubbish has spoiled Earth and killed all species except the cockroach- an environmental message ...

Fool's Gold (DVD) 06/11/2008

I'm No Fool!

Fool's Gold (DVD) Fool's Gold (2008) Following the sizzling on-screen chemistry between Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey in 2003's "How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days" and the subsequent success of the film within the chick-flick genre, fans of Hudson/ McConaughey have been waiting for a chance to see the good-looking duo on screen for an encore. Movie-goers across the country, across the world, fell in love with the unforced nature of the pair's on-screen romance and longed to see the duo reunite. April 2008 saw the UK cinema release of "Fool's Gold, the answer to their prayers. A cross between "National Treasure", "Pirates of the Caribbean" and the aforementioned "How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days", "Fool's Gold" tells the story of Ben "Finn" Finnigan (McConaughey) and his soon to be ex-wife Tess (Hudson). After years of searching for the legendary lost Spanish treasure- the Queen's Dowry- Finn finally finds a lead that proves the existence and location of the infamous 18th century treasures; unfortunately for him this occurs on the same day as his divorce from the beautiful Tess. Unable to resist the temptation of a huge historical discovery though, Tess joins Finn on one last adventure. Joined by her millionaire employer Nigel Honeycutt (Sutherland) and his daughter Gemma, Tess and Finn go in search of their bounty in the seas surrounding a Key West island owned by rapper Bigg Bunny, one of the many people that Finn has managed to get on the wrong side of. But, solving mysteries is not ...

Cell - Stephen King 31/08/2008

Cell... my first and last?

Cell - Stephen King Cell: Stephen King I'd never read a Stephen King novel until "Cell". In all the years, through all the cases of books, there isn't a complete King novel in my memory. I encountered his short stories once, somewhere along the way ("The Langoliers" has etched itself in my mind as one of the most disturbing stories ever). I started "It", "Rose Madder" and "Insomnia" but none of these readings went past the first thirty pages. Therefore, my preconceptions of "Cell" were that it was going to be a short read… about thirty pages. The opening scene crushed my negative preconceptions. The surrealistic nature of the situation in which lead character Clay finds himself, combined with the grotesque images that King pours on to the page, caught my attention immediately. This was short-lived, however. By page 60, my interest had begun to wane despite Clay and Tom's encounter with Alice, a character who becomes an integral part of the story. I was at the point of giving up and moving on when a discussion topic on led me to realise that this was a common occurrence amongst readers of "Cell". It was suggested by a fan of the book that I should persevere and I did. Following the initial excitement, the story of Clay's adventure does lull; in fact, it slows to the point of standstill. However, if you can get past this point, say, to page 100, when the new-found friends seek refuge in Tom's house, you won't be disappointed… for a while, at least. King's moral/ zombie tale of ...

Qantas - QFA 14/12/2007

QANTAS all the way

Qantas - QFA BACKGROUND INFO: QANTAS airlines are an Australian based airline. The acronym stands for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, in case you are interested. Their aeroplanes are easily recognised by their red and white kangaroo logo and the airline is based in Sydney. They carry a large fleet of well-known aeroplanes and jets and have many destinations in Australia, Asia, Polynesia, USA, Europe and South Africa, although Australia and South East Asia are where the majority of the routes are. PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Although I have flown with other well-known airlines in the past decade- British Airways, KLM, Virgin, American Airlines- this month saw my first opportunity to experience a flight with QANTAS. A ten hour flight across nothing but ocean is never a nice prospect. It's even worse when you know there's going to be another flight for your travelling pleasure immediately after it (a further three hour journey.) It gets worse again when your travelling companion (in this case, my husband) hates the claustraphobia of aeroplanes and is going to moan about the lack of space for the duration of the flight. If there was an alternative, quicker means of getting from Honolulu to Sydney, I would gladly have taken it. Obviously, there was not, because on 30th November 2007, I found myself on board QANTAS flight QF4. Destination: Sydney. QANTAS' airport and in-flight services were unlike any of the other airlines' I had experienced previously. At Honolulu, ...
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