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I started smoking when I was about 10 - sneaking the odd fag out of my mum's pack to share with my mates. Sometimes we'd even buy a pack of 5 between us. But it was iregular and fairly infrequent. Why did I do it? I don't know - it was a 'grown up' thing I guess. There certainly wasn't any information about health effects around at that time. I suppose I really started when I was about 18, and I've smoked at least 20 a day for the last 30 or so years - more under stress. Addicted? You bet! Over the years I've made several attempts to give up - with notable success during pregnancy - but it's just been too hard, the craving for nicotine became all-encompassing, the longing to satisfy that craving too strong to resist. The problem was - I wasn't ready, I didn't really want to give up, oh yes, I'd say I wanted to give up, I'd mean it too - intellectually, but way down at the gut level, I don't think I had any real intention to succeed and deprive myself of my costly and dangerous pleasure. But now I have given up - a month ago now. And this time it's different, it feels different, I know I REALLY want to stop, and this time it's not so hard. It's the right time for me. So how did I get to here? Well, I got tired of my horrible, hacking cough. I got fed up with having a chest infection for what feels like about 2 years - I just couldn't seem to shake it off completely. I hated not being able to walk up a medium sized hill without feeling like I needed oxygen. I was embarrased at struggling to keep up with my much younger & fitter partner on country walks. (Something that was supposed to be a shared pleasure just became a feat of endurance). I was pissed off with having to stand outside at work in all weathers just to have a fag. Adding up how much I spent on fags was just too horrible to contemplate - and yet I 'can'
t afford' to replace the ancient and extremely dodgy wiring in my home. Eventually my boss told me to clear my diary and take some time off and not come bnack to work until I was better. So I did. About the same time. my best friend's mum was taken in to hospital - unable to breathe with emphasema. Seeing her - and the grief and fear of her daughter I realised that I didn't want this - not for me, not for my family, not for my friends. So, I went to the Doc about the chest infection - and I said I really wanted to stop smoking and needed some help. I was hoping to get that new 'miracle' drug Zyban - maybe that would make it easier. But my doctor said he wasn't happy about prescribing it. But he said he'd had some success with short (2 - 6 week) courses of Prozac. "I'll try it", I said. I don't know if the Prozac actually helped or not - I'd heard it takes about a month to kick in. But it seems to - so I guess it does if I think it does. I'm still sucking a lot of boiled sweets, (surprise bonus = childhood revisited - chocolate limes, rhubarb & custard, sherbert lemons, everton mints etc.) I also smoke the odd herbal cigarette for those times when only inhaling something will do. I've encouraged myself be finding out about the benefits - they start just 20 minutes after your last cigarette. One really noticable benefit is my skin - literally everyone is commenting on how good my complection & colour is looking. And I feel better - my breathing's better, my sense of taste & smell is better. My cough has virtually disappeared. I can walk up small hills without distress. I have bought one of those giant plastic coke bottles - I am feeding it the price of a packet of fags eveyday - that's hard sometimes but I WOULD have found the money for cigarettes. I have a load of pound coins already - quite soon I'll have enough money to get t
he rewiring done. (Or treat myself to a fabulous holiday - I haven't decided yet). You can never be certain about the future - but right now I feel sure I'll never smoke again. Yes, I do still want to - but not as much as I want to be a non-smoker. So have faith in yourself - I never thought I'd give up, (nor did some of my friends - one in particular always said she'd give up if I did - 'but I never thought you would' she wailed.) The key to success is really REALLY wanting to stop. Get all the help you can. Talk to your doctor. Tell everyone you're giving up. Get plenty of sweets, mints, fruit juice and treaties in. Decide which packet is going to be your last and just do it. You know it makes sense - nobody wants to die drowning in their own snot while their family and friends look on helpless and horrified. Good luck!
Stuck for guft ideas? Try a visit to iwantoneofthose.com. This site has loads of things you'd like but don't really need. So, there's a good chance you'll find something for those hard to suit gift donee. You can browse the site by price range, starting at Under £10, £10-£20 etc. upto £No limits! Click on any price band and you get a screen featuring a list of items in that band plus pictures and mini-descriptions of a three or four specific items. Click on an item name and you get a picture, (with the option for an enlarged view), price, full product description, reviews of the product by buyers, (but there aren't many of these) plus a feedback form for your opinion and a list of other items purchased by previous buyers. In the Under £10 category I was very taken with the iDog, displayed complete with irritating yappy sound effects. If I can't find an alien voice changer mask, this may well do for Shaun, a six yeatr old who enjoys noisy presents best (and lives many miles away). In the No Limits category, we're in a different world. This is where to look for gifts for the person who has everything. Both genuine and repro red telephone boxes or how about an L39 Fighter Jet for a surprisingly modest £150K. (I couldn't believe you could just buy one of these but the site states categorically, 'we're not kidding!;. If that's a little outside your price range, maybe your favouriye webhead would appreciate a gold (fully functional) mouse - a snip at just £375.95! You can also browse by category. Choose from; Gadgets & tools, Toys & games, Lifestyle, Kitchen, Office/Study, Electronics, Travel and Kitsch. You'll find lots of decorative, useful or amusing doodads to help solve your present problems - from glow in the dark skipping ropes to a million pound plus catamaran. The site guarantees secure credit card transactions, (and takes all the usual cards), they guarantees de
livery within 2 days if you order before noon, Mon-Fri. If you prefer to shop in a more leisurely fashion, you can order a catalogue on-site and order by mail or 'phone. There's a contact number on all the screens too - so if you need more information or advice you can speak to a real human being. There's a 3- day refund or exchange policy too if you're not happy with your exciting, thingunnyjig when it arrives. So give it a try when you run out of inspiration. PS If you know where I can buy an alien voice changer mask before mid-December - please email me - I'm desperate!
Philadelphia comes as a bit of a surprise to most Europeans. It’s surprisingly cosmopolitan and parts of it are surprisingly old – it was the USA’s first capital city after all. GETTING AROUND A great way to get around is on one of the many little purple mini-buses, (called a Phlash – see Philadelphia in a Phlash – geddit?). You can buy a day pass from any driver for $3 and hop on and off all day. Although you can cover a lot of the center on foot. Start out at the tourist office at the central rotunda to pick up useful free maps and brochures. Visitors Centre The Centre’s at 3rd & Chestnut Streets. There are lots of exhibits and a film about the history of the city called “Independence”. You can also find out about current events and activities in the city. Admission is free. THE LIBERTY BELL Philadelphia is, of course, home of the famous Liberty Bell – which you’ll find on Market Street between 5th/6th Streets. It’s open all year round with virtually continuous taped commentary about it’s history, (available in many other languages on request). . If you arrive outside opening hours – don’t worry – you can still view the Bell and listen to the tape at a special viewing window. The bell’s inscription reads “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” and you can buy foil wrapped chocolate replicas all over the place from about a dollar upwards. CITY DISTRICTS Waterfront District The historic waterfront district starts around 6th Street and runs down to Penn’s landing on the Delaware river – this is where the first settlements began. These days there’s a number of fine old colonial buildings complete with cobbled streets. The Liberty Bell lives here in what’s known as America’s most historic square mile. Most sites are free admission.
Old City The heritage trail continues to the north of Market Street where you’ll find amongst other things – Betsy Ross’s house. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. Just round the corner is a real little gem – Elfreth’s Alley the oldest residential street in America. A delightful terraced street that could easily be an expensive mews in London. Lots of nice hanging baskets etc. Around this area you’ll find a host of art galleries and nearby an outdoor art and craft market where you can get a lightning sketch of yourself by a starving artist for a very reasonable $10. South Street The "hippest street in Philadelphia," South Street is famous for its bohemian atmosphere, diverse and interesting little shops, loads of restaurants and nightlife. It’s a great place to hang out and watch the world go by. You can also buy lots of repro art deco/art nouveau stuff at a fraction of the price you’d pay over here. (Although transporting several fragile glass shades back to the UK intact can be a problem). But be careful – by the time I’d bought conversion kits for these very desirable desk lights – they cost nearly as much as in Debenhams. South Street is also the main gay area with lots of shops, bars and clubs and – a first for me – a gay pet shop – “and Toto too!” Washington Square District Centered around Washington Square (surprise, surprise!) this area contains a lot of speciality shopping areas and the famous Walnut Street Theatre. Particularly good for antique shops and jewelers. Look out for Jeweler’s Row on Sansom Street America's oldest Diamond District (est. 1851). The ‘Row’ actually runs from Sansom St between 7th & 8th Streets to Eighth Street between Chestnut & Walnut Streets, (look at your nice free map from the tourist office). Hundreds of jewelry shops offering very good prices and all accepting a
ny major credit card. Washington Square itself was actually planned and designed by William Penn himself, (the founding father of Pennsylvania). Reading Terminal Market Wonderful Farmer’s market housed in an old railway station. You can get anything to eat here – it’s brilliant. Try all the wonderful fresh seafood at prices you won’t believe. You’ll also find quite a few stalls run by the Amish who bring their produce into town from rural Pennsylvania. Great for unusual souvenirs – try the watermelon preserve and look out for ridiculously cheap hand embroidered goods. You’ll find the market at 12th & Arch Streets There’s 70-80 stalls from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds so it’s food-fan heaven. You can also buy crafts, books and other non-food stuff here too. More good buys are the flagons of genuine maple syrup and, of course, chocolate replicas of the Liberty Bell. (I did loads of my present shopping here). Chinatown The "Chinese Friendship Gate" at 10th and Arch Streets ushers you into Chinatown. Philadelphia has had a thriving Chinese community for over a century. Great restaurants and very cheap ceramics. Look out for the exciting dragon murals on the district's fire station. Rittenhouse Square District The posh bit. A surviving part of Penn’s original city plan this lovely public square lies at the heart of the top shopping district – take wads of cash if you plan to do more than widow shop. Manayunk Just west of the Center City lies Manayunk - one of the newest hot spots in the area. Declared a National Historic District in 1983, "Philadelphia's Main Street" has more trendy shops, bars and eateries than you can shake a stick at. South Philadelphia A tapestry of long-established ethnic neighbourhoods but probably best known for its outdoor Italian Market and home of the famous Philly cheesesteak
THE FAMOUS PHILLY CHEESESTEAK Cheesesteaks were invented in South Philadelphia in the 1930's at ‘Pat's Steaks’, in the heart of South Philadelphia, originally topped with pizza sauce, (this variety is now known as a pizza steak). The classic cheesesteak consists of onions, mushrooms and peppers sauted until soft, thin, thin, thin, shavings of steak fried (but not crispy) all dumped in a soft Italian roll and topped with cheese whiz. Ok it’s heavy on the grease and hardly gourmet cuisine – but you can’t go to Philly and not try a cheesesteak. There are two major claimants to the title of best cheesesteak maker – Pat’s and Geno’s both on Passyunk Avenue near 9th Street. OTHER ATTRACTIONS Edgar Allen Poe Poe lived in Philly during the most prolific period of his life publishing around 50 works in a six year period including “The Pit & the Pendulem”, “Fall of the House of Usher” and “Masque of the Red Death”. You can visit his house at Spring Garden. Benjamin Franklin The BF National Memorial can be found at the Franklin Institute Science Museum. There’s a big marble statue of the man himself plus lots of his original experimental equipment and personal possessions. The National Memorial's activities include tours, publications, annual convocations, perpetuating the legacy of Benjamin Franklin, and studying the problems facing humanity, admission is free. PLACES TO EAT & DRINK BARS - Cafe Nola 119 South Street - quite nice. Downey’s – one of Philly’s most famous Irish bars, you’ll find it at the bottom of South Street. Live entertainment nightly at the Grape Steet Pub, (see if you can work out where that is). McGillin’s Olde Ale House 1310 Drury Street, est 1860 and boasting a display of every single tavern licence from then to the present day. <
br>EATERIES - Chart House, 555 South Columbus Blvd. Spectacular sunsets over the Delaware and huge portions – mainly steak & seafood. Katmandu on North Columbus Blvd is a nice bar/restaurant/nightclub. Liberty Belle, Penn’s Landing – a Mississippi style riverboat serving lunch and dinner during a Delaware cruise. Meiji-en 19 North Columbus Blvd. Wonderful Japanese-American waterfront restaurant. Rock Lobster, Pier 13-15 Columbus Blvd – many times winner of the “Best of Philly” award. If you like lobster - go here! OUT OF TOWN DELIGHTS King of Prussia Shopping Mall This is where really devout shoppers go when they die. It’s outside Philadelphia but there are buses from the center, costing around $3. This is, (I think) the second or third biggest shopping mall in North America. There’s 8 department stores including the divine Neiman Marcus not to mention Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Sears plus a shop for every day of the year, (365) and well over fifty places to eat and drink. But if none of the menus appeal – just cross over the road to the nearest Denny’s – a prime example of the classic American diner. I had a great time in Philadelphia – including secret assignations and world-class sex – but that’s another story..
I can't even remember where I heard about it - but I went there and now you have to go there too. If you're a webmaster, trainee webmaster, aspiring webmaster or are even maybekinda thinking about designing a website, you must vist A List Apart - For People Who Make Websites. (alistapart.com). Part magazine, part mailing list - with over 10,000 web maker members. This site has style. It looks good, it feels good, it WORKS. Fabulous design, (and in the design stakes I like the fusion of form and function - not just pretty). There are some great articles - check out 'Usability Experts are from Mars/Graphic Designers are from Venus'. There's some real techie stuff too - like 'Validating XML' but accessible and useful articles for the novice too - like the 'Design Tricks' and 'Fear of Style Sheets' series. You can look beyond the browser too with 'Technologies to Watch'. Previous issues and discussions are available for browsing and there's a new issue out every Friday (only not right now as they're moving - their previous host chucked them out because of their seriously heavy traffic). Do look at the Design Competition section - it's over now but the judges comments are illuminating and if you visit some of the ranked winner's sites - you'll being weeping gently into your dog-eared copy of 'HTML for Complete Bozos' II feel inspired, entertained and uplifted - it was a quasi-religious experience - and now I'm a believer. So, grab your tamborines, brothers and sisters, and join me by the river - I'll be the one redesigning my site for the third time in the last 2 months .....
Created by dooyoo's very own Londongirl, allfreestuff.8k.com is a useful site for finding paid to surf programs, freebies, competitions and lots more goodies - all available to UK surfers. I had a good time anyway and found links to some great sites. I particularly liked the link to Petplanet.com - where you can win £100 worth of pet products - very useful! (I live with Dr Doolittle - see profile). This site also has a great search facility that allows you to search for vets, dog walkers, groomers, training classes and many other pet related services within a few miles of where you live - excellent! I also enjoyed iwantoneofthose.com - if you like The Gadget Shop & The Discovery Store - you'll probably like it too - lots of strange, useless but desirable items to buy. Competition addicts will like the competition section - and there's a 'compers corner' - with links to even more competition sites plus links to advice and tips. The Webmaster's resources section is a bit weak - but it's a new addition and I'm sure it will expand as time goes by. There are more Smurfs than you might choose yourself - but there you go - a small price to pay for all that info - and at least they're not singing smurfs. It's an easy to use site using frames and all links open in a new window - so you don't have to get lost. There were a couple of pop-up windows but they may come with the site's free hosting and weren't too annoying anyway. I liked it - why don't you try it?
This is a very professional looking site - but - surprise, surprise! It's run by one guy in his spare time, the full name of the site being Gordon Sharpe's Easy as 1, 2, FREE. You can access information about the following free goodies: ISPs, email, web space, unmetered access, 0870 numbers, URLs, wbmaster goodies, money, anti-virus, on site competition (none running at present), mobile phones (not free - a link to a cheap supplier with special offers and next day UK delivery), links, on-line games (not really - it's competition links), domain names, euroseek search (I tried this looking for Coventry and all it pulled out was links to midlands electrical engineering society!), YAC (a one stop number), get paid to surf, what's new (on this site). Very well put together and maintained site - up front about the limitations of being a one-man-band. Not cutting edge but lots of useful information. I tried the link to tombola.com and enjoyed the on screen scratch card. I also checked out the fantasy isp game - run your own isp for 3 weeks - there's currently a game running so I couldn't join in - but I've asked to be emailied when the next game's starting. So, I'll let you know how it goes - (sign up with cathynet for free everything!) Well done, Gordon for producing such a useful and easy to use site.
I don't understand Potatoland. Maybe I am deeply uncool. Maybe there isn't that much to understand. On arrival a large square cursor sweeps round a blank grey screen, illuminating scrambled, layered text where you can just make out the odd word. There may or may not also be a faint green bouncing ball. Possibly it's an optical illusion brought on by the strongly contrasting colours. Possibly it's more significant than that - but I didn't discover its hidden meaning if that's the case. Anyway - you may as well click here and get inside. Pond scum green background, ornate gilded picture frame, chaotic, random, almost meaningless links swell and shrink and change. What does it all mean, I ask myself? F****d if I know, I reply. Possibly by accident, possibly by some subliminally induced impulse I clicked a link - and went off to build a c-bot. A bit like the old-fashioned Mr Potatohead game (is that where the name comes from, I wonder) but much slower and a lot less fun. You can select eyes, ears, mouth, arms legs and other bits of spare part surgery images to build your own bot. There seems to be a preponderance of breasts and a total absence on penises,(penii?) - what does this tell us about the builders? (Answers on an attractive, animated, musical e-card please to firstname.lastname@example.org stupendous cyber-prize to the sender of my favourite - the judge's decision is final). You can now view the fruits of my labours in the Gallery - it's called cathy dotcom. Another link provided me with an image of a potato which you can explore in depth by clicking on the bit of the spud-u-like. You can also look at a gently rippling picture that could be water. (But if you want to see a really good rippling picture go to htmltricks.com where you will also be able to learn how to do that yourself to your own images - looks really good with night-time cityscapes). And then I suddenly got really bored.
There may or may not be lots more exciting things to discover on the site but it's slower than God and I suspect it might not be worth the wait. Possibly it's art, possibly it's a bunch of adolescent geeks who have lost the ability to communicate effectively with human beings. The decision is yours! Suck it and see.
You probably know someone like Betty. Her marriage isn't happy. Her husband is a heartless and insensitive car salesman, (aren't they all?). She hates her dull job as a waitress. But once a day, Betty escapes the pretty grim reality of her life by tuning in to her favourite hospital soap and dreaming romatically about the handsome Dr David Ravell, the show's heart-throb. Her life is suddenly turned upside down when hubby gets on the wrong side of a couple of very angry hitmen, when his shady drug deal goes pear-shaped. Leading to his sudden unexpected and violent demise. Betty decides to escape from reality on a full-time basis and, faithful to the great American tradition, chucks her bags in the car and heads cross-country to Los Angeles. You've got it, Betty goes looking for the man of her dreams, soap surgeon-in-chief, Ravell. But is the actor who plays him ready to meet his number 1 fan? This is a great black comedy. Go and see it. Director Neil LaBute Starring Renee Zellweger and Morgan Freeman US 1999 1hr 50 mins
Another tour de force from the incredibly gifted Coen Brothers. With their own inimitable style they remix Homer's Odyssey with The Wizard of Oz to a fine country and blues soundtrack, conjuring up an exciting, entertaining and amusing adventure romp. The time - The Great Depression. The place - The Deep South, USA. The plot - 3 escapees from a Mississippi chain gang are on the run - and on a mission to get the loot and save George Clooney's marriage. Everett is worldly wise and pretty slick, Delmar is sweet and naïve, Pete is an angry man. The trio - hot on the trail of the hidden loot and still trailing their shackles - warp into Coenville for a surreal trip through the deepest South you can imagine. Meeting up with a diverse range of wacky characters - a revoltingly gluttenous preacher, Baby Face Nelson, three lovely laundresses, battling politicians, Everett's estranged ex- wife, loads of weird cousins and other relatives and still have time to make a hit record on route! A picaresque tale that's more than picturesque. As usual in Coenville, the visuals are absolutely, gobmackingly gorgeous. Excellent ensemble acting from the whole cast - which includes several Coenville regulars. It's a fantasy, it's an adventure, it's a comedy, it's a drama - it's A Coen Bros Movie! Film buffs - Double your fun - see how many movie references you can catch. Director Joel Coen Starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson US 2000 1hr 42 mins
The first question I have to ask myself is - do I think that anyone else has the right to determine what I read, write, see, hear, experience or participate in? And, of course, the answer has to be 'No'. The second question follows naturally - do I think that anyone else should have less freedom than I believe I'm entitled to? And again, the answer must be 'No'. I think I'm an intelligent, well informed adult and I should be free to make my own choices. And the price of that freedom is that I must be aware of and take into considerations the effect on wider society of my actions and behaviour. You cannot legislate prejudice out of existance. Obviously, it is important to challenge racism, sexism, homophobia or other behaviour that devalues any section of our community. It's a long road and it's about winning hearts and minds - not about censorship. I don't want the National Front made illegal. I don't want dangerous organisations driven underground or given any gloss of glamour or martydom. I want us all to be able to see what they have to say in the clear light of day and to make a reasoned choice to reject it if we find it objectionable - which I believe most reasonable people do. There are in my opinion, far more obscene things in the world than pictures of people with no clothes on. The fact that major components within the computer I'm using were probably manufactured by poor south east asian women, shipped to another country to work in conditions akin to slavery, in order to keep some multi-nationals profit margins up, for example. I have no objection to any sexual activity engaged in by one or more consenting adults. As long as no-one is under duress and everybody's having a good time - what business is that of mine? Or yours? Doubtless that includes activities that I would personally find repulsive. But again, what business is that of mine? I do not belong
to any organised religion but I understand how important religious belief can be to people. But it's a matter of respect for other people to avoid blasphemy - not censorship. We live in a violent world. We always have. This is not a new thing. I find graphic portrayals of violence distasteful and I do think that they have an impact on behaviour. But again, underlying this is a general lack of respect for others. We have lost our sense of place within a community that we understand and care about. I sincerely hope there is re-incarnation simply because Margaret Thatcher doesn't have enough years left in this life to atone for the damage that she's done to our society. We just don't care about each other any more. But I don't think any of this is about censorship. Censorship is about one group of powerful people deciding what's best for another group of less powerful people. A quick glance at the history of the human race will tell you what tends to come of that.... slavery, for example, burning people at the stake because they choose to worship in a different way to you, a government ban on educating girl children... there's lots of examples to choose from - none of them have been very good ideas. We have laws in place to deal with abusive or violent behaviour, sexual predation, etc. We don't need censorship. What we need is the ability and confidence to police ourselves. The Internet is a very hot issue regarding censorship. It is all very well to say that this sort of site, or that sort of site shouldn't be allowed. We have to understand that no one is 'in charge' of the Internet - or rather we are all 'in charge' of it. A few years ago the US introduced a pernicious rider to their new telecommunications legislation. Under pressure from the 'moral' right, and in an attempt to cuddle up to this group in an election year, this was added at the last minute with no
ne of the usual debate or consultation. The result being that in theory, anyone displaying some classic works of art, or information about breast or testicular cancer for example, could be lumped in with pornography and both they and their ISP liable to heavy fines and up to 2 years inprisonment. Thankfully, this legislation has been challenged successfully through the courts. At the time I was asked to write an article about Internet censorship. Researching for that I talked to a senior UK police officer, responsible for tracking down peadophiles on the net. They had had some success, one huge international operation that resulted in dozens of arrests in several countries. But they admitted that it was impossible to police the net in the conventional sense, and that it would have to be the job of the Internet community to police itself. (Which to some extent it does). Yes, there are lots of things that we find unpleasant or downright offensive - but what is the best way of controlling this? And who are we going to allow to set draw the lines - Tony Blair? Bill Clinton? Bill Gates? Mary Whitehouse? The Taliban? Everyone's boundaries are different - and shifting over time. I vote for a society without censorship - and a society where respect for everyone else is integral to our lives. Harking back to the US legislation, there was a campaign at the time, called a thousand points of darkness - where every website objecting to the new law went dark. Even commercial newspaper and magazine sites were blank - display a single message - This is what censorship looks like.
The Dean & Nigel site is subtitled How To Blend In! And features photographs of Dean and/or Nigel 'blending in' with random passers by. The shots range from the fairly casual and unposed to more structured shots that have obviously involved some preparation, costume and make up etc. Hmm...doesn't sound too amusing does it - but trust me! The home page offers several galleries where I'm sure you will find some images to make you smile. There is a strangely Pythonesque feel to the photos - almost completely ordinary - whilst at the same time - completely off the wall. You can also order a 2001 calendar, enter a caption competition and check out the 'As seen on TV' page which includes their screen (and other) credits plus - and this is quite a nice touch - pix of people who've helped them - like the guy who printed the calendar. Not as engaging as emotioneric.com but worth at least one visit in your coffee break.
I don't think so. Sex is usually pretty interesting....but this site is fairly dull. Basically a mildly amusing spoof idea - plug in PC devices that allow you to have remote sex with your partner. A professional looking site, well laid out and easy to use. You can zoom in on the actual machines (male or female versions) which are,(obviously) only configured for hetero-sex. There's a FAQ page with relatively dull answers to potentially amusing questions. Also a few other links if you can work up the enthusiasm to follow them. I couldn't be bothered. With our apparently insatiable desire to be forever in contact with everybody else - the day will undoubtedly dawn when some kind of super good virtual reality suit will allow us to have remote sex if we so choose, in the meantime, someone else could easily make a lot more of this mildly amusing idea - on another site.
I like another.com. It's a free web-based e-mail service that offers a huge range of addresses to suit your mood, personality, job title or aspirations. Another.com let's you choose from an immense range of addresses - I use email@example.com to announce good news. I had good fun with firstname.lastname@example.org during the London Mayor elections and email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org are useful for a couple of websites I have. I also use email@example.com to respond to any particularly surprising emails I receive. You can have up to 20 different addresses, all accessed from the same mailbox. At present all the addresses I've seen end in co.uk but there are rumours of .coms being available. I haven't come across any yet though. There's a regular email newsletter - not always very interesting - but it's where I first heard about dooyoo - so, definitely useful from time to time. The service is absolutely free and I haven't had any problems with it at all. Although you do need to check carefully which name you are using when you send mail. Another plus point - by logging off, rather than just hopping off somewhere else, you can help Friends of the Earth, as all the advertising revenue from their log off page goes to this good cause.
Exactly the sort of film Hollywood can't make - see the Swazye in drag fiasco. This intelligently made film from Australia stars Terence Stamp as an aging transexual, Guy Pearce (Neighbours) and Hugo Weaving as two Sydney drag queens. The basic plot - Weaving aka Mitzi has to arrange a four week cabaret booking for a club in Alice Springs. He recruits his friends, Bernadette, (Stamp) and Felicia (Pearce) to join him. They buy an old school bus (Priscilla), fill it full of gaudy frocks, towering head-dresses, a million and one backing tracks - and off they go. Their desert journey alternates between quiet discoveries - like the fact that the club is owned by Mitzi's ex-wife and he's going to meet and look after his son for the first time in years, while the ex-missus has a break - and major incidents and adventures - like the full performance by firelight for a group of aboriginals and the violent reaction provoked by Felicia's urge to flirt with some excessively macho blokes. It's a thoughtful, interesting and at times moving movie, with a great nostalgic soundtrack, (featuring Abba, naturally), and some great visual moments - oh yes - and it got the Oscar for best costume. Get it out on video - I guarantee a good evening's viewing.
If you like your fantasy with a touch of fun and you're into short stories, you will probably enjoy "The Flying Sorcerers" from Orbit, edited by Peter Haining. The list of contributors reads like the Official Who's Who in Fantasy Fiction. In Section 1 Hordes of The Things - comic fantasies, you'll find "Turntables of the Night" by Terry Pratchett where the world or Rock Memorabilia has a brush with Death - a character already known and loved by his Discworld fans. In this section too, you'll discover tales by L Sprague De Camp, Eric Knight, CS Lewis, Kurt Vonnegut Jr and even PG Wodehouse. Section 2 Deadly Nightshapes - tales of the supernatural has offerings from Angela Carter, Robert Bloch and Michael Moorcock to nae but a few. Section 3 Vacant Space - Stories of Science Fiction includes From Gustible's Planet - a rare collectors item from Cordwainer Smith, (one of my all time favourite Sci-fi authors), plus The Golden Years of the Stainless Steel Rat from Harry Harrison - Slippery Jim diGrisz in yet another tight spot! Will he escape? Will he save the World? Well - he IS the stainless steel rat. Tales here too from Arthur C Clarke and Robert Sheckley and more. A brilliant mixture of classic and new fantasy tales with a bit of a funny bone. I received this as a gift on my last birthday - and I am now hot on the trail of the first in the series "The Wizards of Odd". Highly recommended.