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With apologies to Longfellow: "Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, with a river running through it, is the town of Cherokee, where Tsali's people now are free. Come go fishing in the river, visit the village - Oconaluftee, see the pageant in the theatre, learn the history of the Cherokee". Sometimes you just get this idea that you want to "get away from it all"- the everyday existence, the daily slog, dull routine. Maybe life is usually pretty good, but you still experience that urge to do something different just once in a while. That's what happened to us this past week. Saturday 3rd August was our 17th wedding anniversary, and just this once, we wanted to "do" something to celebrate. The other years have been filled with seeming endless money problems, raising children, work commitments when the day has fallen during the week. Finally, it had come on a Saturday, we had no familial commitments to worry about, and financially, we could afford to blow a little bit of money on ourselves. It felt good. Living in Greenville, SC, we are close to many different places that make good day trips. We decided to go to Cherokee, NC, nestled high up in the Smoky Mountains. It was a choice we would not regret, and one that has created many wonderful memories. The Cherokee Reservation is famous for Harrah's Casino, one of those places where people go to try their luck at winning more than they pay out trying! However the purpose of our trip was cultural; I wanted to find out about the Cherokee history and my husband was interested in the same thing. We had planned on three places to see while we were there. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian, The Oconaluftee Indian Village (a living history museum) and the drama "Unto The Hills" which is a play telling the story of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, done in the evenin g in an open air theatre on the mountainside. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee are descendants of those who hid in the Smoky Mountains to avoid removal to Oklahoma in the tragic Trail of Tears. Those who survived the journey to Oklahoma are known as the Cherokee Nation. Our first stop was the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which is a replica of a Cherokee village in the 18th century. Everything is authentic and guides take you through, stopping at craftsmen and women, explaining the various crafts that were the mainstay of the Cherokee. For instance, beadmaking. Once the designs meant something, but the meanings have been lost in time and now the women make colourful belts and other trinkets, in the age old way, one bead at a time. Each bead is sewn separately so that if the item is snagged, it can be easily repaired. Another craftsman chipped away at flint making arrowheads, explaining the different styles and uses. We saw reproductions of Cherokee lodges - cabins of clay and grasses. Some visitors expected to see tipis, but those were a part of the Plains Indian culture, the Cherokee lived in "houses" and were farmers and hunters. The Cherokee also appear to have believed in the equality of women, long before England and the US thought about it, much less accepted it. Although there were roles which were traditionally male and female, women took part in council meetings, and in fact clan connections ran through the female. It was a matriarchal society. From 1827 they also published their own newspaper, which was written both in Cherokee ( the phonetic alphabet created by Sequoyah in 1820) and English. The Cherokee tribe was made up of 7 clans, and seven is a number that figures highly in Cherokee traditions - for instance the Council House was 7 -sided. Marriage within one's own clan was not allowed, and on marriage, the husband moved into the clan of his wife and any ch ildren were classed as being from the wife's clan. As with all Indians, the Cherokee used plants and trees for medicinal purposes, and there is a Cherokee garden with trees and plants, annotated with plaques explaining the part of the plant/tree and its uses. As the guide explained sadly, the Cherokee had a cure for all the diseases that it was used to, but had no cure for smallpox - a disease that arrived with the white man and wiped out half the population. The village itself is open from May 15th to October 25th and admission is $12 for adults, $5 for children (6-13 years) , but you can buy a "historical valu-ticket" for $16/ $8 respectively, which also covers admission to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and saves $4 on adult admission and $3 on children. They have a website at : www.oconalufteevillage.com. At the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, there are artifacts and exhibits of the history of the Cherokee from the Paleo-Archaic periods to present day, woven together in a tapestry of special effects and told by a traditional storyteller. As you travel through time, you "meet" some of the Cherokee heroes and learn their stories; learn what happened when the white man first came into contact with the Cherokee nation. You hear about the Trail of Tears, and see vivid portrayals of that time. There are various displays of tools, ancient jewellery and gorgets, pottery and a miniature village encampment to wander around and peruse. The gift shop has a marvellous selection of books, and other souvenirs. There is even a booklet about the medicinal herbs and plants sued by the Cherokee, which ties in with the garden that we had visited at the Oconaluftee Village. The museum has a website at: www.cherokeemuseum.org It is far more than "just "a museum though. It also offers an outreach programme providing demonstrations and lectures to schools withi n a 100 miles radius, offers courses and workshops for teachers k-college, supports Archives of Cherokee History (more than 1400 published volumes plus collections of manuscripts, microfilm and photographs) as well as sponsoring the Artisan Series promoting Cherokee artists and art forms, ancient and modern. Our day came to its finale at the outdoor presentation "Unto These Hills". This play telling the story of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, is done in the evening, nightly from June to late August, in an open air theatre on the mountainside. Since it's first showing in July of 1950, over 5 million people have come to watch this and 2002 is its 52nd season. It is a very powerful drama, telling the history of the Cherokee from the arrival of Hernando De Soto, the Spanish explorer, in 1540 until the Trail of Tears, when most of the Cherokee were forcibly removed from their homes and re-settled onto reservations in Oklahoma. Some of the actors are actually descendants of those who were driven out of the mountains and forced to walk the 1200 miles to their new home. I was amazed by the professionalism of the production. Everything is very polished, the actors are superb, the scenery changed while your attention is focused on other occurrences in the story. The musical score is powerful and complements every aspect of the story, whether the joy of a Cherokee wedding or the heartbreaking sacrifice of Tsali, who returned from a safe hiding place to give his life and that of two of his sons, so that a handful of his people, those still hiding out in the mountains, might return and stay on the land of their ancestors. You can get reserved seating, which costs $16 per person, all ages. Or there is general admission seating which is $14 for adults and $6 for children 6-13 years). The website is at: www.untothesehills.com We found the whole experience totally awe inspiring and very fulfilling, as well as opening our eyes to the facts and the fiction of the Cherokee. Something that I found particular satisfaction in is that, whereas years ago Cherokee children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in boarding schools where the Cherokee language was banned, and they were forced to use only English, now there is a resurgence of the language in Cherokee society. The schools teach the language and also Cherokee history, and all Cherokee children are required to master both to graduate high school. The Cherokee Museum, Oconaluftee Indian Village, and the "Unto These Hills" production are all on US 441N in Cherokee, NC, 28719. This is definitely an experience that nobody should miss. The whole town is also a tourist haven and there are all the usual American places to eat, as well as craft shops, photography studios taking pictures that look like they were done 100 years ago, fishing in the river, and fun places for kids of all ages. We had a wonderful day and will definitely be going back many more times.
Unlike a lot of other reviewers who watched this movie, I actually came out of it thinking it was BETTER than I had expected. Maybe because I wasn't watching it for the hype, or to drool over Brad Pitt or (if male) Julia Roberts. However, that does not mean that I am rating it 4 or 5 stars. Unfortunately, at best, it is only average - the good parts weighed down by those that drag, the comedy nullified by the excess padding. To my mind, the movie could have been made much better by trimming the padding. This movie was over 2 hours long, and could easily lose a good 30-40 minutes of that by cutting material not essential to the plot. Produced by Lawrence Bender and directed by Gore Verbinski, even the acting skills of James Gadolfini, Brad Pitt and the delectable Julia Roberts, couldn't hold together a script that fluctuated wildly from the brilliant to the useless. The movie begins with Jerry Weslaco (Brad Pitt) arguing with his girlfriend Samantha (Julia Roberts). She has thrown his clothes and suitcase out of the window, he is attempting to explain his predicament. He had been involved in an accident with a mobster, and when the police arrived, a live body was found in the trunk of the other car. This latest blunder lands the capo, Arnold Margolese (Gene Hackman) in jail. Jerry then has to work off the debt owed. Samantha wants him out of the business, as does Jerry, but he is ordered to do one last job. Samantha is wanting to go to Las Vegas, and gives Jerry an ultimatum. He tries to explain that he has to do the final job, but she is not listening and splits with him. Robert's portrayal of Samantha was excellent, although she came off as a whacko woman who I would have thought most men would have been glad to be free of! Jerry is a hapless criminal, and Murphy's Law seems to have been written with him in mind. He is ordered to go to Mexico and pick up an antique pistol, nicknamed the Mexican and rum oured to be cursed. Jerry heads to Mexico and Samantha heads for Las Vegas. Jerry gets to Mexico and acquires the gun but immediately, things begin to go wrong. The grandson of the mobster is killed by a stray bullet fired by revellers celebrating Cinque de Mayo. Meanwhile, to make sure that Jerry returns with the gun the mob have hired a hit man Leroy (James Gandolfini) to take Samantha as a security. Pitt is not the only one who wants this pistol, and seems to be constantly outwitted by others and then outwitting them in return. James Gadolfini is brilliant as Leroy, although his hard outer shell masks a more sensitive side underneath. One scene is both poignant and yet amusing, as he comes to terms with issues in his own life, led by Samantha with her experience of counselling couches. However, there is almost too much of him in the movie, considering his is only a supporting part. Pitt's portrayal of Jerry is pretty good, totally different from the roles I have usually see him in and yet he does not seem fazed by the fact that he plays a total idiot. Even so, he's a likeable idiot, I suppose. I didn't think much of the soundtrack at all, and actually can't remember anything about it. I'd say this is ok to watch if there's nothing better on tv, it was ok. I would be a bit ticked off if I'd paid full price to go see this at the movies, though. There's just too much of nothing, and yet there's a spark of something missing. Sorry folks, overall - very mediocre!
I love Watkins Products! From the very first time I was introduced to them in 1996, I have been hooked. My pantry is full of bottles, jars and containers bearing the Watkins name. So, you are probably asking - "What makes Watkins so special?" I'll try to explain. They try to use only the best of everything, and it comes through as better flavours, or flavours that retain their strength longer. Their products are concentrated, so you also end up using less than the inferior products on the shelves at your local supermarket. If you go to the website, you'll be able to pull up a whole lot of different recipes, to suit every occasion - from cakes and desserts, to main course meals - and you won't be disappointed. Some of them work wonderfully for giving children a taste of "cooking" something (under supervision, of course) and are a fun activity for mums and their little ones. My favourite products? They have a smashing French Vanilla hot chocolate drink which is great with marshmallows in. It's a lot creamier than regular hot chocolate, and the addition of the vanilla (of which Watkins is most famous for!)really brings out the chocolatey taste. It really is a very indulgent taste, makes you feel like you're spoiling yourself. I cook a lot of oriental foods, and I'm always adding their Hot Honey Soy sauce to my recipes. It's a sweet tasting soy with a bit of a kick at the end. Absolutely brilliant in fried rice, but I also use it to brush on foods I'm grilling, or as an ingredient in marinades. They now do a total of three Barbecue Sauce concentrates, and all of them are in my fridge! They are excellent - the idea is that you add them to ketchup and other ingredients to make barbecue sauce. I don't do that. I add the concentrates neat to recipes like barbecue baked beans, or to use (again) to brush over meats before grilling and in marinades. They are excellent with brown sugar and a little ke tchup, for basting over ribs cooking. Absolutely delicious. I like their crab dip mix - not only good as a dip but can be used with cream cheese to make a crab cheese ball - the recipe is on the site. I make it with no-fat or light sour cream for dips and no-fat or light cream cheese for the ball. Very more-ish, so I gave up on the crackers with it and go with carrot and celery sticks. I don't have to feel so guilty then. Whenever I cook oriental recipes, I add a variety of Watkins seasonings to them. Five Spice Seasoning is a basis of a lot of Chinese recipes, I only use it sparingly as it contains anise which tends to overpower easily. I use their Curry Powder when I make curries, or even as an addition to pot noodles sometimes. The Minced Green Onion goes in EVERYTHING. Their Pizza Seasoning, and Italian Seasoning, I add to spaghetti sauces, lasagnes, pizzas, and sometimes even plain old cheese on toast. Fajita Seasoning I add not only to fajitas, but also to tacos, taco salad, spanish style rice even chili con carne. I use their double strength Vanilla Extract for more than just a flavouring though, I add it to water in my pot- pourri burner and it fills the house with the soft smell of vanilla. Vanilla is one of the more famous Watkins products and you can read more about it on the website, and a complete history of how the Watkins company came into being. It's very interesting. If you are in America, Canada or New Zealand, there is a scheme whereby you can purchase the products at a 25% discount. If you are interested in that, please check out on the website where it says "join us". They will then ask you for the ID of the person who referred you. If you are in England or the rest of Europe,and you find products that you like on the site, please email me (email@example.com) and I may be able to re-ship products to you after they have been delivered to me, as the company does not (YET!) deliver to those cou ntries. I re-ship to my daughters all the time, who live in the Lake District. Watkins has lots of other products that are useful in cooking, but that I don't use simply because they don't fit in with the way I cook. I do not use oils - so I've never used their grapeseed oils. I don't like milk puddings, so I've never tried their pudding mixes. Overall, I think cooks all over the world will find the recipes on this site to be useful (as well as delicious) and not all will add pounds to your waistline. Here is one that is lower in fat and will please those who like chocolate mint. Enjoy! Chocolate-Mint Brownies Preparation Time: Cooking Time: Ingredients 3 oz/85 g unsweetened chocolate, cut into small chunks 1/2 cup/125 mL prune purée or strained prunes (baby food) 3 egg whites 1-3/4 cups/425 mL sugar 1 tsp/5 mL salt 1/4 cup/60 mL 1% milk 1 tsp/5 mL WATKINS Original Double-Strength Vanilla (11 oz) 1/2 tsp/2.5 mL WATKINS Peppermint Extract 1 cup/250 mL sifted cake flour 1/2 tsp/2.5 mL baking soda Powdered sugar, if desired WATKINS Cooking Spray Cooking Directions Preheat oven to 375ºF/180ºC. Coat an 8-inch/20-cm baking dish with Watkins Cooking Spray. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, in top of double boiler or in microwave oven. Remove from heat; stir in prunes, egg whites, sugar, salt, milk and extracts; mix well. Sift in flour and baking soda; stir just until combined. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Cut into squares. Makes 16 servings. Nutrition Facts Makes 16 servings. Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories 150; Protein 2 g; Carbohydrates 30 g; Sodium 170 mg; Fat 3 g; Saturated Fat 2 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Dietary Fiber 1 g
This is a must see movie. One of those hich will leave you deep in thought for a long time after the credits have rolled. Yes, I will "Remember The Titans". It was one of those feel good movies where, although you know it all worked out in the end (because it was based on a true story), it still kept you involved in the problems the characters were facing. You were back in that time when the desegregation of schools was still going on, when busing was becoming the norm, when life was changing for both blacks and whites in ways that both found uneasy. When peoples emotions were at boiling point. "Remember the Titans" is a wonderful PG-rated movie for all ages. The actors and actresses do a wonderful job portraying the events that make up this this story. Being “real” colours your reactions to this, I think. You are aware that "real" people actually took part in these "real" scenes and that the feelings, at that time, were "real". The story is compelling and very moving. This is Alexandria, Virginia back in 1971. The school was all white and The Titans were a very famous, champion football team in the local area . This was before Alexandria had had to deal with any integration before. When, in 1971 ,it was decided that the school would in fact be integrated, black students came to T.C. Williams High School , the Titan’s school. This meant there had to be a reshuffling of the team, to accommodate new football players - some white former team players losing out to new black students. It caused a bad situation for everyone, and there was a lot of heartache for all concerned. Denzel Washington is the main character here and plays Coach Herman Boone; Head Coach to the Titans. He coaches alongside another coach, Coach Yost, who is a white man, who was the Head Coach until the local board had to re-shuffle their thinking in line with new regulations abo ut integration, deciding that there should be an equal number of black coaches as there were white coaches in the division. Coach Yost (Will Patton) is up for induction into the "Hall of Fame" and does not like being usurped. His daughter is a brattish child who is a staunch fan of the team and who is her fathers (and the teams) biggest champion. She takes his demotion very seriously. Ryan Hurst plays the team’s prejudiced white captain, who over the course of time has to deal with conflicts in himself and his relationships. Strong acting from a very capable young man, who will probably become a household name in the future. Gregory Allen Howard, the screenwriter, did an excellent job on this. There are some very strong messages throughout the movie, and he throws these at us, yet balances them with adequate portrayals of how the "other side" felt during these turbulent times of America's not-so-distant history. Boaz Yakin directs with a remarkable talent for drawing out the best in each of his actors, and setting us ito the middle of the action. We are there, fly on the wall, amid the heated exchanges, the cold silences, the antagonism and the gradual thawing of the icy chains of hate. The story begins in those violent days of riots and peace marches, with Herman Boone showing up at T.C. Williams High School, and being snubbed by the Coaches even as he tries to introduce himself. They are solidly behind Coach Yost, who has coached the team for two decades, and who (they feel) should not have to be subservient to a black man. One has to feel sympathy for Boone. Welcomed by the city's black population who gathered on his front lawn to welcome him with loud cheers and applause he is rejected by the white folks, who feel Yost has been passed over simply because Boone is black. The all-white team feels the same, that they should not have to take orders from a black man, and their reac tions are rude and arrogant. The incoming black players though, are cut no slack. Herman Boone was not out to replace the white team with a black one. His goal was the BEST team for the school, made up of the best players of both. He is in the middle of telling the black players that anyone who makes it through the camp will make it onto the team, when Coach Yost and his players come into the locker room having decided to take part. Boone and Yost have a mutual distrust, but Boone places him in charge of the team’s defense. Washington and Patton are brilliant in their portrayal of these two men. The abrasiveness between the two, their individual feelings about their situations. Incredible acting! During the course of the camp, Boone works hard to integrate his team, knowing that the divisions are causing problems in the way they are playing together. He runs it like a drill sergeant and is not sugar coating any of it for anyone. He accommodates them with a room mate of the opposing colour. When this still does not have the desired effect, he instructs them to get to know their room-mate ... or fail the camp. In the course of trying to bond them together, he pulls them out of bed at 3am for a run through the woods that ends at the Gettysburg battlefield. This amid days of gruelling practices, physically more like military basic training some of the time. In breaking them down, he forces them to begin to rely on each other. Amid the many struggles within themselves, and with each other, the team eventually comes together as one. Despite the ups and downs they unite that summer, but when they come home, they find that things have not changed there. Family and friends frown upon their new team spirit as it threatens the way of life they are used to . Life is not easy for them either in the town or in school. Amid all the anger and hate are some wonderfully uplifting and humourous moments. The "fat white k id" who doesn't expect to get anywhere because he is "trailer trash" and yet who gives a brilliant rendition of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and sets most of the team singing. I must admit, I was kind of taken aback by Herman Boone telling the black players “I’m not your savior or Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ or the Easter Bunny. I’m just a football coach,” but even that raised a smile. Herman Boone was truly colour blind. His only goal was to have a team that would be the best it could be, that would be champions. This is really an excellent movie. The soundtrack alone is brilliant. "Up Around the Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival mingles with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Spirit In the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, with "I Want To Take You Higher" from Ike and Tina Turner. Really great soundtrack. You have to see this movie to really immerse yourself in it. No review can possibly give you the full sense of this film's brilliance. It is excellent. The whole cast is marvellous, and we run the gamut of emotions from happy to sad, anger to exhiliration. Definitely a must see for families everywhere. And one you'll remember for a long time!
No matter what you fancy, the Godiva Classic Assortment has something for everyone. Whether you're nuts for delights such as honey roasted almond, pecan caramel or hazelnut praline or of a slightly fruitier nature (and therefore a fan of mandarin orange, kiwi lime, strawberry or raspberry) they've got a flavour for you! Godiva have been making chocolates since 1926 when the Draps family began their business in Brussels. The name was given to the company some years later when their son, Joseph, took over the company and was suggested by his wife. It was named after Lady Godiva, seen to epitomize all that was luxurious and decadent. These chocolates are not the standard fare of artificial flavours and preservatives usually found on the shelves of supermarkets, and this is apparent in their taste. Godiva Chocolates proudly boast that their product is made only from high quality ingredients like premium cocoa beans and dairy butter. Their assortment comprises a unique blend of different textures and flavours to tempt any palate. Since 1995, they have also offered a kosher range and this is overseen by their own in-house Rabbi! They were also one of the first European Chocolate houses to utilize the internet and they have a full selection online at their site : www.godiva.com I've had Godiva chocolates a few times now, and must admit, this is really exquisite. It really just melts in your mouth and is so smooth and rich. The flavour complements the fruity centres (my favourites) perfectly, is not as sweet as regular chocolate and yet still satisfies while tempting you to savour more. These make an ideal gift for somebody special - go on, spoil yourself - even if that special person is you!
As adults, we have all watched the replays of the footage of the September 11th incidents, feeling the horror, the sickness in the pit of our stomachs, and trying to come to terms with what happened that day. We have poured out our thoughts to our friends, some of us have written articles and poetry about our feelings, yet still we find our fears not totally dispersed. We have moved into a different era and we know it, just as we know our lives will never be the same again. So, if this is this how we are reacting, we need to consider how our children and grandchildren are feeling, and give them an outlet for their fears. Children do not see things the same way as we do, and this was brought home to me only last week. Since the events of September 11th, a trip by my daughter and two granddaughters, from England to see me here in South Carolina, has been cancelled and the elder of the two girls has been continuously ill. She suffers from asthma, and it has been constant since the televised events (replayed over and over again there, as here). She also had a lot of other aches and pains, tummy upset and some vomiting ... none of which the doctor could find any cause for. Asthma being a psycho-sematic illness, I wondered whether the other symptoms might be similarly exhibited, and told my daughter to mention this to her doctor, and also to discuss with Angelica to see if there was something seriously worrying her. Angelica is one of those 6 year olds who are usually going on 60. Sometimes, because we are so used to their sounding like miniature adults, we forget that their thought processes are different to ours. Even during the children programmes on television, there were newsflashes and updates - all showing the video as the second plane hit the WTC. However, where we were all watching and understanding that this was a replay of the original event, in talking to Angelica it came out that she thou ght each was a SEPARATE event. In her mind, planes were flying into buildings all over America and killing lots of people. As an extension of that, since nanny and grandad lived in America, she thought we would be getting killed too. Yes, we had been warned to reassure our children that they were safe, and that we love them - but nobody had really considered the fact tht childrens thought processes work a little diffeently to ours! Even in trying to explain that it was the same event just played over and over, she was disbelieving - because of the different footage. The different camera angles, to her, showed different planes hitting more buildings. Once that was pointed out to her she could discern that video A was video A replayed time and time again. Likewise Video B. But she could NOT comprehend that they were both different videos of the same event. She could accept the difference of one to another, and understand that she was watching the same video (say A or B ) yet at the same time, could not understand that both A and B were about the same thing. In discussing this with other people at work and elsewhere, they too have found their children to be thinking the same about this. Just wanted people to be aware of this, so that they can talk to their children and make sure they realise this happened the one time. That it has not been something that is happening every day, with different planes and different buildings. For those children who are old enough to read just a little, the tv coverage (in the USA) entitled "America Under Attack" could also be propogating this idea, implying that it is an ongoing attack by planes against buildings. Childrens little minds are so fragile, and we need to explain things to them more fully than we might think. We don't want to scare them but we do have to give them a chance to vent their fears, and to put right any misconceptions they may have. Thnk how upset we have been at what has happened, and then magnify it on a daily basis. This is what some small children are unwittingly believing. Has your child started having nightmares since these events occurred? Reverted to bedwetting? Maybe just been "acting out" a bit more? Settle down with them, quietly, and give hugs and reassurance - then ask them how they feel about this. Especially with those up to about 7 or 8, make sure they realise this was a one time event, it is not happening over and over every day. Let them ask any questions, no matter how uncomfortable they may make you feel. Try to answer their questions calmly. You can tell them that sometimes people do bad things, things that make us very sad. That mummy and/or daddy love them and will keep them safe so they have nothing to worry about. It's not going to be easy - probably on a par with the facts of life with your pre-teenage daughter - but far better than letting these events fester in a childs mind, frightening it into thinking that all these buildings are falling down,and plane loads of people are being killed every day. No-one said being a parent was easy. sometimes it's just harder than others.
If you've seen the movie, then you'll know that this CD is a treat. It is an excellent mix of old blues, bluegrass and country music, which complemented every changing mood during the movie, yet stands equally well alone. Get ready for some foot-tapping and thigh-slapping, watch out if granny gets out those old spoons and starts to jam along! This is a fun music mix for those of us who know about front porch sitting and backyard barbecues. The Norman Blake rendering of "You Are My Sunshine" prompted me to sing that childhood song as I watched the movie but I must admit, it was the Soggy Mountain Boys plaintive warbling on "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" that won my heart. The instrumental version of this is replayed by different artistes throughout the movie and there are 2 instrumental versions on this CD. Other songs include Po'Lazarus - J Carter & The Prisoners; Hard Time Killing Floor Blues - Chris Thomas King; Big Rock Candy Mountain - Harry McLintock; Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby - Emmy Lou Harris,Gillian Welch & Alison Kraus; Indian War Whoop - John Hartford; In The Highways - The Peasall Sisters; and a whole host of others. Some songs are very spiritual, reminding us of the religious influence of a lot of music in the 30's - the harmonizing which came from gospel music - and yet this in turn is blended with banjo and ukelele sometimes for an upbeat happy sound or with plaintive strains of fiddle for a sadder melody. I love this CD. Once you've seen the film, you'll replay it in your mind every time you hear these tracks.
My trip to the Pizza Hut in Kings Lynn was not what I was expecting at all. Yes, it was clean and the people working there were great, but the food left a lot to be desired. Not that it wasn't good to eat, it was, but ... I opted for the buffet lunch. There were only four or five different pizzas, and I guess I'm used to the American ones where you've got nine or ten. I just felt they were shortchanging us there in Kings Lynn. And they were boring - a cheese, a pepperoni, a vegetarian, a combination and a sausage. What about ham and pineapple? I wanted to scream. Three meat? Stuffed crust? Most were just plain thin crust. I've been spoiled. In the USA there are maybe 10 pizza choices, and that includes at least three different crusts. The basic pizzas are alongside "special" ones like a taco pizza, or ham and pineapple. I don't even recall seeing any kind of a dessert bar ... I think the desserts were still separate items on the menu. Usually there are a variety of desserts available, too. Ice cream, dessert pizzas - which are like a pie with a pizza crust. They have chocolate pudding and a selection of prepared fruits. The salad bar was ok, but again, not much of a range. The basics. Lettuce, tomatoes, grated carrot, chopped eggs, cucumber, cheese. Not fair. Pizza Hut should be Pizza Hut no matter what country you're in. Why should the Americans get a better deal than we do? Surely the company has a set plan for each of it's locations, it's a franchise after all. You should be able to go into any and all and get exactly the same choices, exactly the same quality.
With regard to Lloyds TSB, I was most dis-heartened by the way they conduct their business. Although most of the customer service associates were helpful, it seemed there was always a long line for them. Trying just to get general help from the courtesy counter was even worse. I wanted a savings account but was told they cannot have a pay cheque deposited directly into that, you have to have a cheque book account. So, I got a cheque book account. My husband was working overseas, and sending me money each month. they were going to chage me seventy five quid a month JUST to accept a foreign cheque and change it into pounds. And they'd hold it for amost a month - three to four weeks. What a crock! Then, temporarily, I needed an overdraft, two hundred pounds, for about a month. Would pay it back immediately. No can do, they said. So I opened a building society account and got an immediate five hundred quid overdraft, upped to eight hundred after a few months. I had arranged a standing order before I got the building society account though - and somehow they paid it too early, putting my account into overdraft. Nobody bothered contacting me. It was a couple of weeks later that I went to the cash machine to pull money out and was almost aghast that I was nearly three hundred quid in the hole. Apparently, they charge five quid a day for an overdraft. Well, I told them - just close it out, and that NO WAY was I paying that. I had to wait three days before someone could fit me in with an appointment to discuss this, and then the guy shows me a statement from about two months before and tries to explain how their charges are made. He said they would have sent me a letter ahead of time to advise that it was being done, and I told him in no uncertain terms - do you think I'd have let it get like this if I had known about it? My daughter, a single parent, ended up getting a Lloyds TSB about a year later, up in the Lake Di strict, when she was working for Lilliput Lane. Figuring it would be easier to keep track of her bills, she sorted them all out to be paid by standing order. Lo and behold! Same thing. She also had to argue for them to put it right, AND to have them write letters for her to give to creditors when other cheques she had written , had bounced. A friend opted for their student account, and all was well for a while ... then they screwed her account up as well, and tried to penalise her. Basically, I thnk they need to re-evaluate their attitude to their customers. They have the benefit of using OUR money, they are not doing us a favour! When we set up a standing order to be paid on a certain date, that is when we expect it to be paid - not one, two or even three weeks before. And when TSB makes a mistake, we expect them to put it right without trying to cover their behinds and make us cough up for their screw-ups. Years ago, TSB used to be a nice friendly little bank - it seems to have grown up almost too big for it's boots. They can try to blame it on Lloyds, I can't say if they are to blame or not. I do say that the banks need to realise they NEED the customers, and that they would do well to return to a slightly more caring attitude. I went to Norwich and Peterborough, who gave me old-fashioned service, good interest on my savings and EVEN on my current account, and who always make me feel that I am valued! Lloyds /TSB would do well to learn from them!
In some things, you really do get what you pay for. Centrum is a multi-vitamin, in tablet form, that gives you the recommended daily allowance (or RDA) of many vitamins, nutrients and minerals. In that, it is like many other products, including your chemist's own brand of multi-vitamin. However Centrum has been around for many years, and constantly updates their multivitamin to include new minerals and nurtients as current research discovers the validity and necessity of them. Centrum gives you 100% of the RDA of the following Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin A, C, D, E, B1, B2, Niacin, B6, Folic Acid (Folacin), B12. Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Zinc and Iodine. 20% of the RDA of Calcium, 33% of the RDA of Magnesium and 16% of the RDA of Phosphorus . There are also other minerals and trace elements (Chromium, Molybdenum, Selenium,Copper, Manganese, Nickel, Tin, Potassium Chloride, Boron, Silicon, and Vanadium. And Vitamin K. If you check out the labels, and compare Centrum to other multivitamins on the store shelves, you will find few, if any, that can compete with Centrum in the nutritional composition. It is a quality product, constantly being reformulated to adjust to new research, and is superior to many other on-the-shelf products. Unfortunately, it is this cutting edge advantage over its competitors that makes it slightly more expensive. I like a bargain as much as the rest, but when it comes to health you really can't cut corners. With all the pollution and stresses our bodies have to put up with, we have to give it the best to enable it to do what it needs to, to keep us healthy. Obviously, the best way to do this would be by eating a healthy diet, but in todays world, so many of us eat on the run, or eat processed food, that it isn't always possible. Centrum does a full range of supplements, for men, for women, for children, for the elderly - all geared to the physical needs of that parti cular group of people. No guessing, and 100% of most of the necessary vitamins. It's your money, and your health. You could pay less for a generic product but most cheaper brands either don't have 100% of what you need, or have only the basic vitamins and not all the phyto-nutrients and minerals. Centrum is my choice - it's tried and tested. Worht that bit extra!
This is one of those "feel good" movies about following your dreams which I found very enjoyable, albeit that a lot of the tale was quite predictable. There were a few twists and turns along the way, but I think it is obvious that things will work out in the end. Sara (Julia Stiles) is a budding ballerina, whose dream is to attend Juilliard. At the beginning, she comes across as almost selfish ( I felt). Her single mother has worked long and hard to give her a middle class, suburban upbringing and allow her the opportunity to pursue her dreams, yet Sara (although loving her mother dearly) seems almost brattish when her mother has to work later, on the day that Sara has an audition in New York. Desperately trying to make it to Sara's audition, her mother is in a car accident and dies. Sara fails the audition anyway, because her anger at her mother's non-appearance intereferes with her concentration. After her mother's death, Sara has to go live with her previously absent father. He lives in a run down house on Chicago's South Side, and is a struggling jazz musician. Their relationship is not an easy one to begin with, simply because they've not really known each other previously. Struggling to deal with her sense of guilt over her mothers death, Sara finds it hard to accept his parental control when he finally tries to assert it, and he struggles to behave how he feels a father should, whilst still being out of the home for long hours and late at night. Sara's new school is an urban jungle with all the inner city problems we see in other movie and tv offerings or read about in the newspapers . There are the gangs, crime and drugs, the ignorance of racism - all quite alien to Sara. However, in English class, she meets Derek (played by Sean Patrick Thomas) and an instant antagonism begins between the two. Taken under her wing by a girl named Chanelle, she begins to settle i nto the school. She is surprised to find out that Chanelle is a single mother and that Derek is her brother. The hostilities between the two lessen quite quickly after that and they become friends and encourage each other. Derek is torn between his dream of becoming a doctor, and a relationship with Malachi (Fredro Starr), his best friend and the leader of one of the local gangs. As Derek begins to teach Sara how to dance to hip-hop, a relationship begins to blossom. Despite it being ok for them to be friends, they encounter hostility towards their mixed-race relationship from all sides, even (it seems) from Chanelle. Malachi inceasingly hassles him for support in a gang-related excursion in retaliation for action taken by a rival gang. Their friendship is sorely tested, as Derek tries to persuade him to rise up and follow his dreams out of the ghetto, only to be reminded by Malachi of an incident in their past which shows us why there is the strength of the tie between the two. It is at Derek's prompting that Sara decides to don ballet shoes again and restart the journey towards achieving her dreams. She applies for another audition for Juilliard, with his encouragement. All is not smooth sailing though, and their relationship falters along the way during which time Sara and her father adjust finally to each other. Save the last dance is directed by three-time Emmy winner Thomas Carter. Fatima, and ballet choreographer Randy Duncan worked together to create the ultimate ballet/hip hop combination sequence for Sarah's final audition for Juilliard, which was absolutely brilliant. Although some have likened this movie to "Flashdance", I feel it is ten times better. Julia Stiles has shown herself to be a very talented young lady, both in her superb dancing and her acting. Her "learning to dance hip-hop" provided some quite amusing scenes, but at other times she portrayed her chara cter in a host of emotions, making her a very believable person on screen. The soundtrack itself is brilliant. It was produced by MTV and features the best in Hip Hop and R&B today. Artistes such as K-Ci and Jo Jo, Snoop Doggy Dogg ,Lucy Pearl, Donnell Jones, Fredro Starr (of Onyx), Kevon Edmonds,Q-Tip, Athena Cage (of Kut Klose), Pink, and Soulbone. So much great music, it was hard to sit still while you watched the movie! If you like feel-good movies, this stands a good chance of becoming a favourite. If you like hip-hop and R &B, you'll love the soundtrack. If this sounds too much like a cheesy romance for you, then you probably won't appreciate it at all. Though there was room for deeper probings into certain topics, this wasn't aimed at being a social commentary just what it was, an entertaining movie.
The attacks on America - surely they must be considered an act of war? And, as awful as it seems, were it that we were the victorious having accomplished this military feat, I daresay we would be talking about an assault well planned, well carried out, and mission accomplished. Somehow though, I think the "success"of this assault actually went far better than those who planned it expected. Having once been defeated in their attempts to blow up the World Trade Centre, I think they planned a horrific end to two airplanes aimed at creating a situation whereby they proved the WTC was still not invincible - maybe they thought there would be fires where the planes hit and that some parts of the buildings would be unusable for a time. The enormity of what happened, and the way the Towers weakened and then imploded, was probably beyond their comprehension while they were planning this. Their jubilance at such mass destruction was disgusting - the cheering in the streets that was shown on television shows how great is the divide between "them"and "us" in terms of our thought processes. "They" have lived under constant threats of war, bombings, martial rules in some places, but ultimately under systems where life is not valued in the same way as we value it. They see Western "civilization" as not being that at all. America is "the great Satan" because of its preoccupation with capitalism and the lifestyles given air-time on "Jerry Springer". They, to whom their religion is the backbone of their society, see the West as decadent with its laissez-faire attitude toward God and its obsession with "me, me, me". When Osama bin Laden laid his plans for this assault on America (and the other nations whose citizens were murdered in the Twin Towers), he made them as part of a war on America and capitalism. It has been proclaimed as part of a Jihad, which is the Islamic term for a Holy War. It was as much an act of War as Princip shooting the archduke Franz Ferdinand and kicking off WWI, or Hitler invading Poland forcing England and the Allies to act in 1939. As with all acts of war, it is the innocent who suffer. There are more motherless and fatherless children growing up in the world becasue of that awful day, and parents who lost sons and daughters. Husbands who will never return home at the end of a workday, and wives who will never cook a meal for their spouse again. There are people whose homes were destroyed, and many who will never feel safe flying or visiting New York again. Yet it is not only we who have suffered. In Israel, in Serbia, in Palestine, in Afghanistan, in Rwanda, in Zimbabwe, in all the countries of the world where blood is shed on a daily basis - they also suffer. They also live with fear. And with loss, and grief. What happened September 11th 2001 was a disgusting attack on humanity, but maybe it humbled and equalled us to those who up until now have been images on the telly or statistics we've read about in a newspaper. We can take it from here though. As the US and Britain and other allies fight with military precision, we can fight in our homes and on our streets, by refusing to be overcome by fear, or kowtowing to the hate that these events are festering. This war is not over, and there will doubtless be more bloodshed before it is considered so - and the act that began this will never be forgotten but will go down in the annals of history along with the other atrocities that have gone on long before.
This is absolutely excellent. Not totally what I expected either. I had thought it would be something like a 'The Sopranos' type series - yet this makes that show seem amateurish. this is so much more. The star is Len (Pete Postlethwaite), recently released from prison, after serving time for his part as the get-away-driver in an armed robbery. At a welcome home party, with family and friends - and the local criminal element - he shocks everyone by announcing his retirement from his life of crime. He's had plenty of time to reflect on his life while he's been in jail, and he has made up his mind that he wants to go straight. Len's uncle attempts to help by offering him a job. Thus Len becomes an undertaker's assistant. When their hearse breaks down, how is it that they end up with the one belonging to a rival company? You'll have to watch to find out. Len is faced with trying to stay out of trouble as he attempts to stand by his decision to go straight. He also has to cope with the trials and tribulations of being a husband and father. His children are Faith, Hope, Charity and Chastity. The episode showing his relationship with Chastity was funny at the same time as being poignantly sad. She is his darling, the one who is going to make it in the world, the one who can do no wrong ... or so he believes. "The Sins" is absolutely brilliant! Hilariously funny to deeply thought provoking, this is the best thing to come on BBC in years. Pete Postlethwaite is superb in the rôle of Len, and Frank Finlay hasn't aged (it seems) since he did 'Barb Wire' which I think was late 70's or early 80's. The whole cast bring this together beautifully, and the story is excellent. you just have to see this show to realise how brilliant it is.
I've been with the Norwich and Peterborough now for about 2 years - and have nothing but praise for them. Always cheerful smiling faces, polite and efficient, willing to help you if you need any information about any of their services. They have different accounts for different needs. I have a Canary Account, which not only gives me interest on my Savings but also helps support the Norwich footie team, apparently. I know it enables you to get tickets cheaper ... but I've never taken them up on that offer as (sorry lads) I'm not a footie fan. I also have a Gold Account with them, with a cheque book and a Switch card. Very useful to have, whether for making purchases or paying bills by phone. No need to carry loads of money around or have to go here and there to pay the bills. Council tax? Paid by phone, so simple. Like a lot of other bills. The Switch card also works abroad as long as the cash machine is on the same network. Take out the local currency, and it debits your account in pounds and pence. Better than travellers cheques in my view. They also offer all kinds of long term savings, monet market type funds and even a share brokerage. The minimum fee on that is I think £20 per company, so if you have £50 to buy shares with, it will cost you £70 to buy them. Now if you split your buying between two or more companies, it's £20 EACH company, so you'd pay more. They are always willing to explain it to you though and to offer whatever help you need. They're small and friendly, which works well for me. I like a more personal approach to dealing with my money (or sometimes lack of it). I originally had a $500 overdraft on the Gold Account, then they upped it to £800 for me - and believe me, there have been times I've had it maxed out. Their fees for the service are very reasonable. Well worth considering if ever you need to use it. They also allow you to access your accounts over the internet, which helps you keep track on what's going in and out. Once you have your access number and password, you can access your account from any computer, anywhere in the world, even if you're on holiday! Works for me! Overall they are at a 10 in my book. Wonderful staff, a good and caring attitude. They act like I'm important to them, that my custom is wanted and that my problems are readily solveable.
This movie left me feeling very depressed, and I have no idea why. It was not what I had expected. The advertising had made it seem like a comedy, and yet this film had deeper undertones. Very intense undertones. Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) is a go-getting Wall Street wheeler-dealer who has a life where he can afford to buy anything he wants, go anywhere he wants. He drives a Ferrari and is so driven that he looks down on those who work for him, who have family commitments. His self worth is based on the $$$ he can make, what they can buy him, and his own importance. His $2400 suits for instance. In a cross somewhere between "Scrooge" and "It's a Wonderful life" this movie gives a glimpse of what might have been. It is Christams Eve and the firm that he is President of, is in the final stages of a deal. Ignoring the wishes of his colleagues, he pushes a meeting until almost 8pm, telling them they can have the time off with the family once the deal is closed. On his way home, he stops at a little convenience store. Whilst purchasing egg nog, he witnesses an altercation between an angry young black man and the assistant over a lottery ticket. He offers to purchase the ticket from the young man for $200, telling the young man that it solves the problem for everyone and makes him (Nicolas Cage) $38 in profit. As they leave the store, he is encouraging the young man to turn his life around. When the young man challenges him about wanting everything, Jack tells him he has everything he needs. Jack goes home to his immaculate suite, lies down on his bed ... and wakes up next morning next to his childhood sweetheart (played by Téa Leoni). Two kids come into the bedroom, and they are supposedly his. The little girl, Annie, later becomes his aide, asking him plaintively one day " you're not really my dad are you?" She gives him directions of the daily routine, where she goes to sc hool, where he works, etc. An attempt to go to his "old" life is thwarted when nobody recognises him. His old colleague is now the President and the company is family-orientated. The movie then follows Jack in his "new" life until the twist in the tale ending. This was an excellent movie, Téa Leoni has come a long way since her first years of rather ineffectual acting. She complemented Nicolas Cage well, and played the part of his wife, brilliantly. The little actress playing Annie (Makenzie Vega) was brilliant. She is a future star. My only disappointment was that this was such a HEAVY movie. I wasn't in the mood for heavy when I watched it, and had expected some light hearted frolic. This was like a punch in the stomach, and left me feeling very morose. I feel it needs to be billed as something more serious than it has been. However, it was definitely worth watching.