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    • Something - Chairlift / Music Album / 46 Readings / 46 Ratings
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      30.05.2012 18:32
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      Youll be singing it in the shower for weeks

      - Background -

      This is the second album from Brooklyn based electro-pop duo Chairlift, which was released in the UK in January of this year to much critical acclaim. The band were first noticed in the mainstream in 2008 when their song 'Bruises' was featured on an advert for the new Apple iPod. Their first album 'Does you inspire you' from 2008 was also very well received in the UK and the States.

      - The Album -

      Every track on this album is addictive and it really cannot only be listened to once, so you will find yourself playing it on repeat for days on end. The voice of Singer and primary songwriter Caroline Polachek is mesmerising, with a vocal range that is quite astounding and melodic variation that never leaves you bored.

      Although all the tracks are great and listening to the entire album in one sitting is always rewarding, there are a few tracks on the album that really stand out, and will leave you wanting more. 'Sidewalk Safari', with its bassy pop feel, really sets the scene for the rest of the album and after a bit of synthy posturing ends up becoming a great pop song that you will be singing in the shower for weeks.

      For me though, the hands down stand out track of the album is 'Amanaemonesia', with its fast paced beat and huge variation in timbre and tempo throughout lead to a really exciting chorus. This song is truly addictive, once you hear it once you will be humming it all the time and you simply cannot get it out of your head (in a good way). The video for this track, which was released as a single, also includes a pretty interesting dance routine from the singer, so is well worth a watch.

      The lyrics are catchy and the mixture of something for everyone pop and cool bassy electro flavour mean that the band manages to tread the line perfectly between mainstream appeal and the alternative Williamsburg scene that created it.

      - Track Listing -

      1. Sidewalk Safari (3:50)
      2. Wrong Opinion (5:06)
      3. I Belong in Your Arms (3:27)
      4. Take It Out On Me (3:54)
      5. Ghost Tonight (3:07)
      6. Cool as a Fire (3:58)
      7. Amanaemonesia (5:00)
      8. Met Before (2:54)
      9. Frigid Spring (3:49)
      10. Turning (3:00)
      11. Guilty as Charged (3:34)

      - Verdict -

      Well worth a listen and if your anything like me this will become a staple part of your iPod playlists for a long time to come.

      Also...If you can check this band out live, they are really impressive.

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    • Carlsberg Lager / Beer / Cider / 42 Readings / 39 Ratings
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      22.05.2012 20:17
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      Poor...poor excuse for a beer

      - Background -

      First off, Carlsberg is not a danish beer, it is brewed in Leeds, even Carlsberg 'export' is brewed in the UK so the idea that the "Danes hate to see it leave" is catagorically false since they never saw it in the first place!!

      You may be realising that I dont like Carlsberg and you would be correct: the Carlsberg brand represents everything that is wrong with beer brewing today, because it involves a gigantic corporation brewing millions of gallons of beer a week in huge industrial plants with little care as to the quality of the product they make because they know beer swilling louts will lap it up anyway. Meanwhile their huge economies of scale were nearly putting small independent and micro-breweries out of business (until CAMRA came along that is).

      Anyway, this would not preclude them making a good beer for once, so we shall proceed to looking at the beer in question - Carslberg.

      - The Beer -

      Ok so if it is cold, it can be refreshing, but only so far as any cold wet drink can be refreshing, not because of any other special merits that deserve mentioning. Basically this beer has no taste, its like somebody has taken a mediocre 5% lager and watered it down so that its only 3.8% with no flavour. There are bubbles, so its got that, but it really doesnt do anything for me and I would rather pay a little bit more for a beer with flavour than feel washed out and dejected after drinking this swill.

      It also looks like a lager. Thats all there is to say about its looks. The label is fairly nice I suppose.

      However, if you happen to be in Denmark and you get the proper carlsberg that they sell (and brew) there, it is a different story. I believe it is a little stronger and has a much fuller taste, so if your over in that region, bring a crate back and don't fall for the deal in Asda because it is a con.

      - Other Factors -

      There are two things going for this beer!

      The first is the price. There is almost invariably some ridiculous deal going on for carslberg which mean that you can get 100 cans for 20p or some such offer. This is great, because it means that if you are going to a party, you can pick up a load of this stuff and then subtly drink some good stuff to yourself while everyone else gorges themselves on Carlsberg.

      Second is the adverts. Given that Carlsberg is a huge company that pretty much owns all other mass produced lagers we get in the UK, it has a giant budget for advertisements, and consequentially it has some pretty clever ones, all using the tagline "probably the best lager in the world", which never fails to make me smile.

      Basically, the answer to the question "shall we get some carlsbergs?", should always be no!! This is because you won't be happy with what you get, if you know what other (good quality) beers taste like.

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        22.05.2012 18:30
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        Refreshing and tasty golden ale that will not disappoint!

        - Background -

        The Sierra Nevada brewery is located in Northern California (so...not Nevada or those Spanish mountains) and has been going, in one form or another, since 1979. They produce this pale ale, a porter, a Weiss beer, a stout and something called the torpedo, among a long list of other special and seasonal brewing delights.
        Sierra Nevada pale ale can be found in quite a few pubs across the UK in bottles, but is not that common to come across on tap so when you do - snap it up! Though it is a fairly expensive brew and may break the bank if you're planning to session it! You can also get some of this stuff usually in a Waitrose and sometimes in Sainsbury's or Tesco if you're really lucky - Where it will tend to be a lot cheaper than in the drinking hole.

        - Whats it like? -

        This pale ale is both refreshing and flavoursome with that crisp hoppy taste that makes you go 'aaahhh'. I really think that this is one of my favourite beers, and given the other beers I tend to drink I am now thinking that I like a really hoppy brew flavour, which this has got by the bucket load. The flavour is just the right amount of bitter, without that kind of dusty taste that some darker bitters can get sometimes.
        This one is really golden in colour and it tastes as good as it looks with the perfect combination of bags of flavour, whilst still remaining light and thirst quenching - especially when served cold (perfect).

        As with most beers that are pretty flavoursome, this one is quite strong and maybe not the perfect choice for a long session at 5.6% - as always, drink responsibly of course!

        - Other factors -

        The design features of the label and bottle are all very enticing and add to the feeling that you are drinking a true craft beer from a micro brewery rather than the mass produced swill made in industrial plants. The small stubby bottles that it comes in are very ergonomic in their design and make this beer an absolute pleasure to sip on...

        Certainly recommended!

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        • Samsung GT E1080 / Mobile Phone / 39 Readings / 39 Ratings
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          21.05.2012 17:19
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          Basic phone that just does the job!

          So my iphone broke and I decided I had had enough of the responsibility of carrying around an expensive phone all the time, and decided to get a cheap one that I wouldn't mind losing or breaking. This phone was not the cheapest that I could find (there was one for £6 in carphone warehouse) but this did look like the best of the cheapies so I went for it.

          - Overview -

          First off the build quality is pretty good, its not a really tinny light device that feels like it was put together by a 5 year old, it feels pretty sturdy and has a good weight to it, not too heavy but feels nice in your hand. The buttons make quite a lot of noise when you type a text message and the noise can sometimes be a bit squeeky and annoying but thats what you get when you spend £15 so I am not really complaining.

          It has limited features, there is of course calling, texting, alarm clock and a calendar (though you cannot set dates for reminders on it), as well as the added feature of memos and a rather addictive game called Jewel Quest, good for killing a bit of time.

          A fairly interesting and possibly useful feature is that it can do fake calls, which means that if you are in an awkward meeting or date and want to get out you can set it to look like it is receiving a call from an unknown number and make your escape - useful! - maybe.

          The flashlight feature is not a flashlight, it just makes the screen a bit brighter, which doesn't really make any difference so this is not quite so useful.

          Battery life is immense on this thing too, I charged it once and it worked without fail for almost an entire week. I suppose this is because it does not have all those juice draining background features that most smart phones have nowadays and just uses batttery when calling and texting really. The instruction manual says that it will last for 19 hours of talk time, which is pretty impressive I would say.

          - Calling -

          Connectivity is good on the phone and it is easy to make calls either by looking up numbers in the contacts menu or by inputting them manually. The volume is good and there is no problem hearing what somebody on the other side is saying, though I have had problems with my voice not being too loud on the other side, so I have to speak a bit louder sometimes, which is not that big of a problem.

          - Texting -

          For those of us who are used to smart phones it is a bit of a hassle to go back to using the old fashioned keypad for writing texts, and it certainly takes a few tries to get back into it, but it is not so bad after all that and this phone is quite good for it, as well as including a predictive text dictionary which is pretty useful. The buttons are not massive however and it can often take a few tries to get the words right, so long texts are a pain, especially when still getting the hang of the interface.

          - Verdict -

          Pretty much the best you can expect for a phone that costs less than 20 quid, really very good value for that and is useful for all the primary tasks that we need a phone for, but not much else. If you really want to be able to check all the sports scores and play angry birds then this is not for you, however if you just want to call your friends and keep in contact, theres nothing comparable for cheaper out there really.

          Thanks,

          Nye

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            18.05.2012 14:04
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            Transfer photos in a fast, portable snazzy little way that makes camera cables redundant.

            - Overview -

            The Integral SD single slot reader is a nifty little device which plugs into your Laptop or Desktop USB slot and can transfer any photographs straight to your computer. SD cards are the most common format for digital camera images and therefore this device is very useful for the amateur or professional photographer alike!

            - features -

            So...the device is in the USB 2.0 format which means that it is faster than the USB of old and that photographs can be transferred very quickly from card to device. Although this one only takes SD cards, making it useless for those of us who need XD or any other format, you can get similar devices which are for use of those too so all is not lost. This is a shame however, because I know that it is possible to make a slot that will take all cards, which would have really added to the versatility of the product, however, as long as you know SD is all you will need then its not going to be a problem.

            When you first plug it into your computer the driver software will install automatically, very quickly, and the device will be ready to use. It is really very easy and hassle free. I usually simply copy and paste the photographs from the file on the SD to a file on the computer, it take only a matter of minutes to transfer a few hundred photos, so you can really see that the USB 2.0 makes a difference.

            - Build -

            The gadget is very small, which means that it can easily be fitted into your camera bag or in the pocket, making extremely useful for portability. It is also very light so there is no problem carrying it around. For its size however, it doesn't feel flimsy, it is not going to break very easily or just fall apart, and it has a plastic cover that goes over the USB end of the stick so that the important parts are not damaged.

            It is quite a nice looking little thing too, my one is white, and it looks quite snazzy and cool.

            - Verdict -

            This is a really useful little gadget and my one has had lots and lots of use since I got it! I never use the actual camera cable to transfer pictures any more because it is much more clunky and bothersome way of doing it, this is a far better option.

            The fact that it is small and light means that it fits perfectly in my camera bag or pocket and I can take it anywhere, for instance I took it to Thailand with me last year and it came in really useful for putting my pictures on the internet so my friends at home could see what I was up to!

            It is also really fast, so is great when your in a hurry and the design makes it easy to use, so no time is wasted messing around with cables or anything.

            The only thing is that it would be nice to have a bit more versatility with card formats, though this would inevitably make it bigger and more clumsy so maybe it really is perfect the way it is! Especially since the price is right, and if you really had to you could get 2 if you needed XD as well for example.

            Great product, really useful and perfect for its purpose!

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              14.05.2012 13:17
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              Great tasting strong golden Ale from Youngs

              So Youngs is not based in London any more! It got bought out by Bedford Brewery Wells, so the fact that it is called special LONDON ale is a slight Misnomer. However the journey from Bedford to London does not do anything to harm the quality of the beer, so here is one extremely tasty beverage...with nothing to do with London.

              This stuff is amazing, its bitter but doesn't taste dusty like some of those weaker bitters, its got a real kick to it and the flavour kind of snaps in your mouth since there is a slight fizz to it. It is also a pretty hoppey beer so if you like that its a dream come true, if not, then get to like it! This beer is refreshing, and best served cold unlike most bitters. It is really flavoursome, with a strong taste, none of that weak watery feel you get from some weaker darker bitters. It also has sediment, which means that to get the best flavour you need to up end it for a few seconds to infuse the whole thing with those tasty tasty hops and barley bits. This really is one of my favourite beers ever, definitely favourite Bitter (Next to Fullers - ESB).

              Be careful though! At 6.4% this is not the kind of beer that you can session all night and wake up fresh as a daisy in the morning. It can be lethal and should only be consumed in small doses, with glasses of water in between, unless you don't mind being completely wrecked with a sore head in the morning.

              You don't see this beer around that much, if like me you live in South west London near to where the old Youngs Brewery is, then there are plenty of Youngs pubs that usually stock it. However if you are not lucky enough to live down here, then it can prove to be a bit tougher. If you know any specialised beer shops in your vicinity that's your best bet, otherwise I have seen it in Waitrose before (no use if your in the North). When you do find it, it can often be a tad on the expensive side, usually they try to charge me about 4 quid for a bottle in the pub, obviously much less in a shop so look out for it. Any way, its still worth it because this beer is DA BOMB!

              Basically, if you can find it...get it and try it, because you wont be sorry!

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                13.05.2012 21:21
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                4th Best university in the UK so that speaks for itself...

                - Background -

                UCL has been around since 1836 when the University of London was founded, at the same time as Kings College - hence the fierce rivalry that has lasted ever since then.
                It was the first University to admit people from all ethnic and religious backgrounds, as well as the first to admit women. This is an inclusive atmosphere that they have tried to maintain over the years and its really apparent with the huge diversity of people who you can see around campus, from all over the world

                UCL has over 20,000 students across 10 Faculties:

                UCL Faculty of Arts and Humanities
                UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences
                UCL Faculty of the Built Environment (The Bartlett)
                UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences
                UCL Faculty of Laws
                UCL Faculty of Life Sciences
                UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
                UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences (incorporating the UCL Medical School)
                UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences
                UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences

                As well as the additional School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, which joined UCL in 1999.

                - Quality of Education -

                UCl is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and the fact that it is part of the wider University of London means that you will also have access to more diverse resources, such as the Libraries at LSE and SOAS, as well as the Senate House University of London Library, which is a really nice place to work.

                On the Newest Times University League tables UCL is ranked:
                17th in the world
                5th in Europe
                4th in the UK

                and,

                7th in World for Clinical, Pre-clinical and Health
                8th in World for Social Sciences
                8th in World for Arts and Humanities
                11th in World for Life Sciences
                27th in World for Engineering and Technology
                38th in World for Physical Sciences


                - Location and Perks -

                The fact that UCL is located in Bloomsbury is a massive bonus since this is area is teeming with loads of things to see and do. The welcome gallery is right around the corner and always has some really interesting exhibitions on. A nice cinema and shopping complex called the ???? is located close by near Russell Square and makes a nice break from the grind of work. The Charles dickens house is also within walking distance.

                Transport links from UCL are really good, you have Euston, Euston Square, Russell Square, Kings Cross, St Pancras and Warren Street all within very short walk away (Picadilly, Victoria, Northern, Hammersmith and City, Bakerloo and Circle lines on the underground, plus loads of busses) so you can get pretty much anywhere in London that you need to, really quickly!

                - Services -

                UCL offers an incredibly wide range of Bachelors, Masters and Higher Postgraduate qualifications including, PHD, MPHIL and MRES. There are 16 libraries on the UCL campus as well as the other located close by mentioned above.

                Around the UCL campus there are various Cafes, shops and bars so you are never too far from one. The Print room cafe offers hot and cold drinks and food, as well as becoming a bar selling alcoholic drinks later on. The bloomsbury theatre, owned and operated by UCL also has a useful little coffee shop, and is attached to the refectory which can be found downstairs and has a wide selection of hot food, as well as the UCL shop, where UCL clothing and magazines etc can be purchased.

                The UCL students Union (UCLU) provides many clubs and societies that can keep you occupied when work is too much - societies include:
                Bongo society
                Buddhist philosophy society
                Magic society
                and, Muay Thai

                The union also provides good help and support for the problems students may have, as well as a service that can help students to get part time work whilst they study. There is also a pretty large bar upstairs which can get pretty lively on certain nights of the week.

                The Huntley is the UCL medical school bar and also comprises a cafe, and a club downstairs. Its got great deals on drinks and is a bit less crazy than the UCLU bar which is full of freshers. You can also have access to the University of London Union bar which has great facilities and is good for watching the footie. Or even the Kings college union on the embankment which has a great view of the city and can be accessed by UCl students.

                - Overall -

                UCL is a great university with a great feel to it - plus it is located in one of the most exciting cities in the world, what more could you want?

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                  12.05.2012 14:00
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                  Rollercoaster ride of emotion and banging tunes! Check it out!

                  - Background -

                  Jamie XX has been hot news recently after spinning out a few epic remixes (you got the love - Florence and the machine, Rolling in the Deep - Adele and most recently Bloom - Radiohead) as well as a few single releases that have turned heads. His fresh production style brings something new to the UK dance scene, with a genre bridging concoction of UK funky House, Dubstep, Garage and a bit of Soul for good measure.

                  This Album, released in 2011 was a collaboration with one of the all time greats of funk/soul/jazz and spoken word poetry - Gil Scott Heron. Having brought out his new album on XL records, after just being released from Prison, Gil was told about a new up and coming producer from the band The xx, who may be able to do something really special with the album - I'm New Here.

                  The result - We're New Here - incorporates the vocal tracks from Gil's album with fresh cutting edge production from Jamie XX that really puts a brand new take on his beautiful words.

                  - Tracks -

                  1. I'm new here:
                  Beautiful track that sets the scene for the album - genius call and response technique pitting Heron's atmospheric voice against an old sample from Gloria Gaynor, which works so well and builds the song up into a climactic ending.

                  2. Home
                  Bit more of a chilled out one, with more of the soul flava of Gil's singing voice, but again with fresh take, creating a clanking and almost eerie feel to the track.

                  3. I've Been me
                  Interlude of sampled drum breaks and Gil's poetry, old and new.

                  4. Running
                  This track smashes back in after the interlude, with a really energetic feel. Again the booming voice of Heron counterpoints the pounding dub beat and hot production. Great track.

                  5. My Cloud
                  Back down again with a chill out session, with an almost trip hop like feel and the intoxicating voice of Heron, broken yet elegant.

                  6. Certain Things
                  Another interlude, good for breaking up the different feels to the tracks.

                  7. The Crutch
                  Atmospheric ebb and flow of bass and synth with a catchy more up tempo beat. Less Gil on this one but still works well with the high production value.

                  8. Ur Soul and Mine
                  This track brings it back to some old school banger territory, but with the distinctive twist that Heron brings to the timbre. Track also includes a sample of Touch me by Rui Da Silva, which Jamie XX has recently put out a cover of with the artist Yasmin - also great.

                  9. Parents
                  Another Short interlude

                  10. Piano Player
                  A long introduction to the next track which is an atmospheric piano piece, slowly getting louder and more frantic as it builds up to the beat drop of the next track NY is killing me! - Recorded in a church in Philadelphia.

                  11. NY Is Killing Me
                  Probably the best track on the album, this was one of the most successful singles released and was often to be heard on the London Club scene. Really energetic club banger, with heartfelt words from Gil about his love/hate relationship with the City he grew up in! Cracker!!

                  12. Jazz
                  Another Short interlude, this time a bit more jazzy with a few breaks, sets up nicely for the finale!

                  13. I'll Take Care of You
                  The best Track on the album hands down. This track was so good it has been used on the new album by Drake featuring Rihanna and is the inspiration for the title of that album "Take Care".
                  Heron's Raspy voice works so well with the old school house vibe production and comes together brilliantly for an absolute classic tune! Great for lounging in the sun with.

                  - Verdict -

                  Basically, this is a great album. The theory behind it is that it is supposed to be an expression of all the ups and downs of a night out on the town, with ebbing and flowing, loud and soft, hard and slow, all mixed in together to form a truly great listening experience.

                  Also, since Gil Scott Heron Tragically died last year, this is the last album that he will ever make, and deserves to be heard!

                  Dance album of the Year 2011!

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                  • Khodorkovsky (DVD) / Documentary / 27 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                    12.05.2012 10:38
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                    Khodorkovsky is in jail and this doc makes you feel like your in jail too!

                    - Background -

                    Back in 2003 the head of Yukos, one of the largest and most successful oil companies in the world, was arrested by armed police in his private jet in Siberia. This man, named Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has been incarcerated ever since. Speculation as to why he was detained has been widespread, though many believe that he was put away because he was causing too many problems for Putin and the current Russian government; having been seen to fund opposition parties and engaging in talks with American firm Exxon for control over Russian oil fields. Officially he was imprisoned for money laundering and the appropriation of funds, though for many of the charges laid against him there is little evidence, with most people agreeing that the charges are politically motivated.

                    - The Documentary -

                    This documentary follows Cyril Tuschi, the director, as he embarks on a journey to discover some of the reasons behind Khodorkovsky's arrest. The film includes interviews with many high profile and important figures connected with the case, including Khodorkovsky's wife and son, his old business partners and members of the political opposition in Russia. It ends with an interview with Khodorkovsky himself whilst he is in court for an appearance. He is still in Jail today.

                    - Verdict -

                    This is a really important topic, and one that really deserves better than this. The film is really quite basic, giving what is really only a top layer view of what happened, and is happening. Many of the interviews drag on with much of the conversation included in the film being inane and unimportant. The people that the director does interview however are good people to interview, really important for the story, however the way it is done means that you come out feeling that you havn't learnt quite as much as you think you should have!

                    For someone like me, who is currently studying for a masters in Russian Politics, the basic level of this film was insufficient since it taught me nothing new about the subject. However, for anybody interested in Russian politics and the Khodorkovsky case more broadly, it is probably worth a watch, just don't expect to be an expert afterwards. If you are really interested, then read Putin's Oil - By Martin Sixsmith, which has all the interesting details of the case and much more astute commentary on the implications.

                    The film is well done however, and it is fairly impressive that the director managed to interview so many high profile people, its just a shame his questions were not so good! The production value here is high, although the sporadic cartoon pieces every twenty minutes or so are pretty irritating and really add nothing to the storytelling.

                    I would recommend this film if you know nothing about Khodorkovsky, however if you already know a bit, you will probably get bored.

                    Stanley...leave documentaries to people who actually know about the subject?

                    Running time - 111 min (too long)

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                    • British Library / Other Service / 23 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                      12.05.2012 01:17
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                      One hell of a library!!

                      The British Library is one of the only three copyright libraries in the UK, meaning that it houses, along with the Bodleian Library (Oxford) and Cambridge University Library, every book ever published in the UK, and most others too. This means that it really is a great resource, especially if you are a student researching for a paper or even a PHD thesis. There are resources in this library that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world, which means that it is understandable that they have a few ground rules about how you can go about using the library, which can make a visit there a little irritating, but in the end probably worth it.

                      Firstly,
                      You cannot really take anything into the library with you, no pens, no drinks or food of any kind, no bags, coats or much else really. If you want to make notes in the library you have to either take a pencil or you can also bring a laptop.

                      Secondly, therefore,
                      Everything you own has to go into lockers in the basement, and then you can carry anything you need with you in sturdy plastic bags provided.

                      Thirdly,
                      If you need a book, then most of them aren't on the shelves, you have to order them online which can be a little confusing but you get the hang of it eventually. Most books are available to collect within an hour or so, but some can take up to 48 hours, which can be a pain if the essay you need to write is in sooner than that, which is what happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

                      Fourthly,
                      Although probably should have come firstly.
                      Getting a membership card can sometimes be a pain, but as long as you bring two separate forms of ID, one with your signature and one with your address with you, and you have already registered on line, it shouldn't be a problem...it wasn't for me.

                      - so -

                      Once all these little hurdles are out of the way, you are free to enjoy one of the most magnificent collections of literature in the world; and it really is pretty impressive. The building is state of the art and they often have lots of exhibitions for you to check out if work is getting you down a bit. Despite the annoyances, it really is worth the effort, since the library itself is one of the quietest and most serene working environments I have been in, nobody dare talk for fear of incurring the wrath of the librarian/security guards that patrol the reading rooms (who will also confiscate any pens they catch you with).

                      If your a student in London, or anywhere in the UK, you should definitely check out the British Library, It is pretty impressive. However the Cafe is an absolute Rip off! Stay clear!

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                      • Rumble Fish (DVD) / DVD / 12 Readings / 12 Ratings
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                        12.05.2012 00:56
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                        Atmospheric film noire, with a gritty coming of age twist

                        - Cast -

                        Rusty James - Matt Dillon
                        Motorcycle Boy - Mickey Rourke
                        The Father - Dennis Hopper
                        Patty - Diane Lane
                        Steve - Vincent Spano
                        Smokey - Nicolas Cage

                        - Details -

                        Director - Francis Ford Coppola
                        Writer - S E Hinton (book)/ S E Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay

                        Running Time - 1hr 30
                        Released - 1983


                        - Background -

                        This film, made in 1983, is Francis Ford Coppola at his most stripped down and visceral. The film features Dennis Hopper, an extremely young Matt Dillon, and an even younger and fresher faced Nicolas Cage (you would barely recognise his boyish mug). Even more exciting, is the fact that Mickey Rourke is actually good looking in this film, before he destroyed his face with plastic surgery - It is really quite sad to see how different he looked back then, you wouldn't thing they are the same person. Theres so many people in this film its amazing, because nobody has ever heard of it - its got Chris Penn and Laurence Fishburne too - again looking ridiculously young...

                        Anyway...enough of saying how young people look in it, what's it about?

                        - Plot -

                        Rusty James is a young leader of a gang of adolescent layabouts in an old industrial city, where he fills his days with chatting up young girls, skipping school and organising and participating in gang fights. The film starts with just such a fight, where Rusty James has to prove that he is as much of a man as his brother, the Motorcycle Boy, who disappeared months back and was a bit of a legend in the town. The story basically follows Rusty James (Matt Dillon) on his violent and self destructive journey, dealing with his drunken father (Dennis Hopper) and learning the story behind his Brother's (Mickey Rourke) absence.

                        Rusty wants to live up to his brother's reputation as the hardest, coolest guy on the block, but when his brother returns from California his new found outlook on life hits Rusty hard and they resolve together to get out of their dead end town and make something better of themselves.

                        As the story progresses, the Motorcycle Boy's mental state becomes more and more precarious as his brother tries to find out what happened while he was away. Motorcycle Boy becomes obsessed with the Japanese Fighting fish in the local pet store, which take on philosophical meaning for his own life and ultimately change it forever.

                        - Verdict -

                        So...yeah its about fish, but not really. The whole film is in black and white, except for these multi-coloured Japanese fighting fish, that Rourke's character dubs the "Rumble Fish", due to their penchant for fighting each other. They are integral to the story only because of what they represent, and that is, something like, fighting for fighting's sake against the world and anything else simply because one is angry; and finally the ending highlights the futility of that kind of life, which I won't ruin for you.

                        The film is really very good, and doesn't get the credit it deserves; as far as I know it hasn't won any awards and is rarely mentioned as one of those classic films you really have to see...but it should be. The cinematography is great, and the atmospheric film noire style really makes it different. The fish being in colour really highlights their importance to the film, and I have even seen someone on IMDB suggesting that this could have been inspiration for the similar effect seen in Schindlers List.

                        The film is heart warming, with some nice moments of brotherly love popping up, but with sinister undertones throughout as you sense that there is something not quite right about Rourke's character. Indeed, the setting is bleak, with little prospects for the towns inhabitants but to lose themselves in drink and violence, a world which Rusty James longs to break free from, which the Motorcycle Boy is determined to help him do, even if it may be too late for himself.

                        Matt Dillon's portrayal of a not so clever thug with aspirations to be something more is pretty convincing, though the extent of the acting necessary is not so high. Rourke however is wonderful as the troubled brother, who's quiet mysterious persona is pulled off to a tee! Dennis Hopper is also great casting as their father, though he doesn't have a huge part, he is a good addition. The fresh faces of Cage, Penn and Fishburne are only seen to a limited degree, but its a bit of a novelty to see them on screen, given how different they look.

                        The film is based on a book of the same name by S E Hinton, so check out the reviews of that book also on Dooyoo.

                        And yeah...watch this film, its an all too nearly forgotten classic, which deserves to be remembered.

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                        • WhatsApp (Android) / Apps / 23 Readings / 23 Ratings
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                          10.05.2012 16:09
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                          Simple to use internet messaging app

                          If your like me and you text a lot (and I mean A LOT!) then this app is really perfect for you. It is basically an app which allows you to send text message or do instant messaging over the internet with any friends who have the app too. It is available on Iphone, Android and even on Blackberry so there is really no excuse not to get it! It will save you loads of money because you can even send picture messages through it, which often cost a ton on most phone contracts.

                          The new version that just came out also has better interface and group messaging so that you can involve more people in your conversations, kind of like on facebook messager when you have a multi-person thread - really useful.

                          I find that I almost always go over my text limit because i have a really poor contract so the fact that you can send free texts over the internet on this is really great. The only thing is that sometimes internet coverage can be a little more temperamental than standard mobile coverage and the app may not work, but if its not too urgent its not a problem, and you can always use normal text every now and again if necessary.

                          The only thing is that you cannot pretend not to have got a text since the app tells the sender when you have read it and gives the time of your last presence online, but if you don't have anything to hide, you really have nothing to worry about. At any rate, you can read the jist of the message on the push notification when you receive the message and can choose not to open the app until later if needed. It basically works in just the same way as normal text messaging - except its free!!

                          The app automatically searches all the numbers in your phone for those that also have whatsapp so adding people to your contact list is easy. It also will create a text message for you to send out that invites others to join, so I have converted a lot of my mates that way.

                          You can also add on apps with emoticons pretty easily, so thats good and it automatically incorporates any other keyboards you have installed.

                          I have the version for Iphone and I never looked back, I always use whatsapp for texting or picture messaging and it saves me about a fiver each month, so the initial £1.50 I paid a year ago is made back pretty quickly.

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                        • Kindle 4 / Tablet PC / eBook Reader / 22 Readings / 20 Ratings
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                          10.05.2012 15:46
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                          Great little E-reader that for me still outweighs its competition - original and best!

                          - Background -

                          I just got one of these and I am so happy. I had the older version before and I somehow managed to kneel on it and smash the screen, Stupid I know! I have mourned the loss in the last six months I just had to get a new one because I missed the joy that comes from knowing you can pick it out of your pocket and just start reading any one of hundreds of books you have stored at any one time. No more carrying around hefty hard backs or raggedy old paperbacks. It is still a marvel to me that I can carry around war and Peace, Anna Karenina and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy without my back breaking under the weight. Especially since many of the best classics are available for free on Amazon or other Ebook sites.

                          - The basics -

                          So...its an E-reader and it does its job well. The screen incorporates impressive E-ink technology so that when you read it it looks like your reading off normal paper, with none of the glare you get from the sun on an Ipad screen or laptop. This is a real triumph because it makes it a real pleasure to read, with none of the annoying screen tilting that is often necessary to read outside on a sunny day.

                          It is also super light, the thing only weighs less than 170 grams, which is no more than an average small paperback. The size is good, the screen is small but not too small and you can fit it in your pocket pretty nicely, but be careful not to sit on it!

                          Build quality is really nice, with a kind of matt feel that makes it easy to grip, and it feels pretty sturdy so that its not going to fall apart any second with the slightest jolt - obviously dont get too rough with it though! There is no keyboard on this one though, which can be pretty annoying when your writing out the names of folders you want to file your books under, but it is not the end of the world and the size makes up for it.

                          The battery life is pretty astounding, lasting for about a month if you use it around 30 minutes a day on average. I have had mine for two months and never recharged it, though I do not use it every day. I think if you were to really pound the reading for a couple of weeks it may give in, but that is really not bad at all, given the amount of times most of us have to charge our phones nowadays. It can get away with this because the E-ink display only uses energy when it changes page, the ink settles in place and rests there until you click to the next page when it rearranges itself - pretty clever!

                          I went for the wi-fi version at 89 quid from Amazon, but you can also get the 3G version, for £129, that allows you to surf the net and purchase books anywhere, which is pretty useful. However, I feel that I can fill it up with enough books at home, so that when I am out I'm not likely to really get an urge to buy a book so much that I cant wait! The surfing on the internet part is tricky anyway, especially without the keyboard, and the explorer is rudimentary - it is in black and white after all.

                          The Amazon book store is easy to navigate on the device, though you can purchase books on your computer and transfer them over if you prefer. It is really quite amazing how many books you can get for free, and not just the rubbish ones that you may expect - I have got plenty of absolute classics like Dickens and Tolstoy for free, though if you want the newest best sellers you will have to fork out a few bob. The E-books on Amazon are obviously cheaper than print versions but not amazingly so... you still have to pay around 6 pounds for one of the newest releases which can be a bit much given your only getting a file for your money and nothing tangible. Books download in a matter of seconds and you can begin reading straight away.

                          - Extra features -

                          The Kindle does a few interesting things that other e-readers may not. First off, you can make it read a book to you, using a weird robotic voice. This is a fun little feature but it doesn't really appeal to me since I would prefer a book to be read by a Steven Fry than a Steven Hawking, unless perhaps I am reading "a Brief History of Time" and not "Harry Potter".

                          you can also read PDF files and word documents on the kindle which can be really useful. For instance I am a student at the moment and a lot of the stuff I have to read is online, so I can just put the PDF on the kindle and take a whole years worth of reading around with me everywhere - much simpler than dragging books and papers with me. The only issue with the PDFs is that they do not magnify so easily, and you will probably have to read them with the kindle in landscape mode, which can be annoying. Still its better than nothing. In addition, you get a kindle email address when you register your device, which means you can send documents via email directly to the kindle, without having to remember to bring your cable with you everywhere. This is pretty useful if your in a hurry or on the move!

                          - Verdict -

                          So...it is really a great little gadget, and amazingly useful for a both work and pleasure. You can carry around all of your favourites and more, which means you can just dip in and out of as many books as you fancy. Really great and fun to use.

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                          • The Wackness (DVD) / DVD / 21 Readings / 21 Ratings
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                            10.05.2012 12:51
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                            Teenage angst and mid-life crisis together in a period comedy set in 1994!

                            - Background -

                            People have actually made fun of me for saying that this is one of my favourite films! I can understand why, It's no Godfather, or Deer Hunter or Apocalypse Now, but it is just one of those films that you can always rely on to make you laugh and make you feel pretty good. The story is basic, its pretty much a coming of age tale of a young man (Josh Peck) growing up in Manhattan who has nobody to rely on, and ends up selling weed. He is befriended by a psychiatrist (Sir Ben Kingsley) and their friendship becomes the most important thing in his life, teaching him about the world of women, life and music.

                            - Cast -

                            Josh Peck - Luke Shapiro
                            Sir Ben Kingsley - Dr Jeffrey Squires
                            Olivia Thirlby - Stephanie Squires
                            Famke Janssen - Mrs Squires
                            Method Man - Percy
                            Mary-Kate Olson - Union

                            - Plot -

                            So, we have an average Joe nobody by the name of Luke Shapiro (Peck), he has just graduated from High School in New York and is alone in the city for the summer before heading off to his "safety school". He is a troubled soul with all the normal teenage worries about not getting laid and being unpopular - with a few more unusual ones like how to shift the large quantities of Cannabis in his bedroom, while his parents financial situation becomes untenable and they may have to move to New Jersey (worse than death).

                            He befriends a local Psychiatrist (Kingsley), with whom he trades weed for therapy, and they become friends, while Luke becomes infatuated by his step daughter Stephanie. There are then some fairly clichéd moments of young love and the inevitable heartbreak that it entails, as Luke becomes more and more depressed and the seemingly stable Dr Squires also starts to break down. Their collective dis-functionality becomes their bond and their friendship becomes the only hope they have of pulling through.

                            - Verdict -

                            So yes, it is in fact a period drama! One of the most interesting things about the film is the way that the Writer and Director, Jonathan Levine, manages to recreate the world of 1994 New York city, a place which you might think would not be so different to today, but that has some really nice little touches that bring it back to that distinctive era of Hip-Hop and Mayor Giuliani. The soundtrack has a lot to do with this, with some real classics of old school hip hop from Nas, Notorious BIG and a Tribe Called Quest, recreating one of the most exciting years for hip hop in history. The film even has a little cameo from Wu-tang's Method Man, who plays the Kingpin rastafarian Drug dealer Percy, who provides Luke with his supply and needs to hear some advice about his dreams from Dr Squires, who suggests its probably about his mother.

                            The story is not groundbreaking, but its a classic for a reason and the soundtrack and feel of the movie really make the old formula come to life with new vitality. The acting is good, Josh Peck gives a good rendition of the angsty teenager (probably because he is one) and Sir Ben Kingsley is wonderful as usual, portraying a man who's facade of stability is slowly peeling away.

                            And by the way, YES, Josh Peck is the one and same ridiculous chubby child star from the Nickelodeon show "Drake and Josh", he really has come a long way. There is also a rather amusing small role for Mary-Kate Olson, who plays a hippy flower power girl who's drugged up lines will not fail to make you smile!

                            So to sum up, this film is well worth a gander. Its not going to win any oscars or any kind of award at all really, but its a really good feel good film and makes me laugh every time. Theres lots of really classic moments, very funny but also very sad in parts, while the soundtrack is absolutely awesome and brings you back to 1994 perfectly, if you can remember that far back (I was only 5).

                            Watch It!!

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                            • Chopper (DVD) / DVD / 17 Readings / 17 Ratings
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                              07.05.2012 01:23
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                              Brilliant Biopic of a true crime character and best selling author.

                              - Overview -

                              Before this movie nobody outside of Australia had ever heard of Eric Bana, he was a stand up and sketch comedian, fairly big in Oz but not much else. This film propelled him into the big time, when he was given the opportunity to play one of the most infamous criminals in the world, a one Mark 'chopper' Reid, who also just so happened to be a best selling author at the time. The film was greeted with critical acclaim when it came out in 2000 and still deserves the same recognition it had back then.

                              - Plot -

                              The film starts out with 'chopper' (Bana) in prison; the setting for some of the most gruesome, violent and in fact funny moments of the film. It is not long into the film, after a brief introduction to a few key characters, when this violence begins when our protagonist, Chopper, stabs a man in the face multiple times, and then proceeds to ask him: "you alright mate?". This scene really sets the tone for the rest of the film, where extreme violence is coupled with witty retorts and almost surreal comedic timing.

                              The film follows chopper's antics as he is released from prison, tries to hook back up with his girl on the outside and is in the process getting into some trouble with local bad guys and old friends. Inevitably ending up back in jail, the film charts the beginnings of his rise as an infamous criminal and vigilante, as well as an inmate with celebrity status inside and outside the prison gates.

                              -Cast-

                              Mark Brandon 'Chopper' Reid - Eric Bana
                              Jimmy Laughnan - Simon Lyndon
                              Bluey - Dan Wyllie
                              Tanya - Kate Beahan

                              - Any good then? -

                              Absolutely!
                              The fact that this film is based on the life of a real man, with many of the exploits being based on broadly factual incidents, makes the story all the more compelling. Bana's performance is incredible, really capturing the conflicted nature of a man who's actions can simultaneously make you wince and laugh. His comic timing is to be expected, given his pedigree as a comedian, however the more serious scenes are just as masterfully pulled off. The level of acting seen of Bana in this film, is at such a high standard that he may have set the bar a little too high, and I do not think it has been matched again so far in his career, with possible exception of "Munich" (great film).

                              The film is shocking and hilarious with equal measure throughout and Bana's character conjures ambivalent feelings in the viewer:the man is a murderer and a criminal who is very likely insane, though the chirpy manor in which he undertakes his actions is amusing, and oddly endearing. He is really the ultimate anti-hero who despite being a fairly nasty guy, makes it incredibly hard to hate him - though you certainly wouldnt want to meet him in a dark alley.

                              Director Andrew Dominik doesn't bother glitzing the film up with any special effects or clever shots, the film is done in a simple, gritty and elegant way that allows for Bana's performance to speak for itself. His other offering "The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is also well worth a watch! The soundtrack does not play any significant role, apart from a few tracks that establish the time frame of the movie in the 80s and early 90s. The film was also actually filmed in the real working Pentridge prison near Melbourne where Chopper spent almost 18 years of his life - a nice touch which makes the viewing experience all the more engaging.

                              The film is based on Chopper's many books, though the truth of many of the stories cannot be absolutely confirmed, the events depicted to fit with atleast one reading of famous events in the criminal underworld of Melbourne.

                              The film is really well worth a watch: the performance is amazing, it is funny, real, gritty, shocking and thought provoking. Not many films can do all that now can they?

                              In addition, old interview footage with the real 'Chopper' Reid are extra features on the DVD which is really fascinating to watch, since you can really tell just how accurate Bana's portrayal is.

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