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danball

danball
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Member since: 08.01.2009

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    • anagrammer.com / Internet Site / 61 Readings / 57 Ratings
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      03.06.2009 13:55
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      Use It At Your Peril!

      Anagrammer.com is a very simple website that can be used to help players of scrabble and other word games. According to information on the site, it has been in operation since 2003 but it has only recently come to my attention, thanks to some crafty workmates who insist on cheating at online scrabble.

      It is a very basic idea; you input the letters that you are playing with, click the 'submit query' button and you are presented with every word that can be made up of those letters and the points that you would receive should you choose to play that word. One nice option that the site provides is that you have the choice to sort the words by points value or by the length of the word. Nine times out of ten you will obviously choose to use the word with the most points but towards the end of a game this may not always be possible as you may have limited space or wish to place your word on a double/triple letter or word tile. As you may or may not know, scrabble occasionally provide you with a blank tile which allows you to decide which letter you want it to represent on the game board. The way to do this on anagrammer.com is to simply type in a '?' (Question mark). The site then calculates your words and notifies you which letter should be selected with the blank tile by making it bold.

      As I have already mentioned, this is a simple site which is very easy to use and is very reliable; I cannot think of one instance where the site has been down or has even been slow to load. I'm not a prolific user of the site as I prefer to destroy my workmates at scrabble honestly but it can be a useful tool if you really are stuck and need some inspiration.

      One thing I will say about the site is that it often has advertisements which can take over a large proportion of the page. Whilst not really a major nuisance, I have found that they are not necessarily work or child friendly, something to keep in mind when visiting the site.

      Anagrammer.com is a god-send for those who are not afraid of getting some help with their online gaming, I would just suggest you don't advertise the fact. or you may just lose the respect of your colleagues.

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        21.05.2009 15:41
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        UK Garage Breaks Out Of The Underground

        'Tuff Jam' was a DJ/production/remixing duo consisting of Karl 'Tuff Enuff' Brown and Matt 'Jam' Lamont. They worked relentlessly from the mid-nineties until around 2002, when the guy parted ways and began working on other projects. They are responsible for some of the biggest anthems in the UK Garage scene, in fact, I would recommend you do a quick search for their work on the world wide web as they did have some commercial success and so there may be something that they have done that you know!

        The UK Garage scene was reaching it's most popular in 1997 and so 'Underground Frequencies Volume 1 was released. A double CD (one mixed, one unmixed) was compiled by Karl and Matt containing the biggest tracks of the time.

        Tracklist:

        CD1 (Mixed By Tuff Jam)

        1.01 Roy Davis Jr. - Gabrielle (Live Garage Mix)
        1.02 Todd Edwards - Push The Love
        1.03 Tyanda - I Get A Rush (Julian Jonah Dub)
        1.04 Xavier - Tumblin' Down (Original Mix)
        1.05 Sneaker Pimps - Spin Spin Sugar (Armand's Dark Garage Mix)
        1.06 Rosie Gaines - Closer Than Close (Tuff Jam's Unda-Vybe Remix)
        1.07 Bobby D'Ambrosio - Moment Of My Life (Classic Club Mix)
        1.08 Terry Hunter - Harvest For The World (Dan's Classic Mix)
        1.09 Double 99 - Ripgroove (Tuff Jam's Groove Dub)
        1.10 Smokin Beats - Dreams (Vocal Club)
        1.11 Tuff Jam - Dangerous (Unda-Vybe Dub)
        1.12 Operator & Baffled - Things Are Never (Dub)
        1.13 Mutiny - Bliss (3:41)
        1.14 Nuyorican Soul - Runaway (Mongoloids In Space Mix)
        1.15 Double 99 - Jump
        1.16 Tina Moore - Never Gonna Let You Go (Kelly G Bump 'N' Go Dub)
        1.17 Nu-Birth - Anytime (Tuff Jam's Remix Kick Dub)
        1.18 New Horizons - Find The Path (Tuff Jam's D.I.Y. Dub)
        1.19 TJR - Just Gets Better (TJR Dub)
        1.20 Industry Standard - Industry Standard Vol.1 (What You Want)

        CD2 (Unmixed)

        2.01 Double 99 - Ripgroove (Tuff Jam's Groove Dub)
        2.02 Rosie Gaines - Closer Than Close (Tuff Jam's Unda-Vybe Remix)
        2.03 Todd Edwards - Push The Love
        2.04 Roy Davis Jr. - Gabrielle (Live Garage Mix)
        2.05 Operator & Baffled - Things Are Never (Dub)
        2.06 Smokin Beats - Dreams (Vocal Club)
        2.07 Nuyorican Soul - Runaway (Mongoloids In Space Mix)
        2.09 Sneaker Pimps - Spin Spin Sugar (Armand's Dark Garage Mix)
        2.10 Tyanda - I Get A Rush (Julian Jonah Dub)

        'The songs on the second CD are already on the first?' I hear you shout. Well, yes, they are. BUT the first CD is mixed, meaning that each of the twenty songs play seamlessly, from one to the next. This is because a DJ (in this case two) have mixed them together and recorded this as a performance. It's unusual for a mixed CD to come with what are commonly known as DJ friendly versions of the tracks so this is a real bonus. The songs on this CD were not (and still are not) widely available on CD (or MP3 for that matter), for some of the songs here, this is the only place they have ever been released on CD, they are a vinyl only release. That fact alone makes this an invaluable purchase. It may be slightly trickier to get a copy now, after all, it was released 12 years ago, but if you look in the right place and are prepared to pay the price, you should be ok.

        The tracks on this CD are a really good representation of what was going on at the time, if you tuned in to one of the many pirate radio stations or went to a club that played this particular genre, you would almost certainly have heard these songs. Unlike some compilations or mixed CDs, this album contains nothing but the best tracks available; there are no fillers here or tracks that were licensed 'on the cheap'. In fact, this CD has some of my favourite tracks EVER!

        TJR's 'Just Gets Better' still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it; Xavier's vocals on this track are superb, silky smooth and delivers the more than catchy hook perfectly. This is produced by Tuff Jam themselves and has a bass so deep that it rumbles your speakers, even when listening on a low volume.

        Todd Edwards (my all-time favourite record producer) has one of his tracks on here too; 'Push The Love' is not one of my favourites of his but was very popular upon release (and still is in fact). This has a nice bumpy beat and a really interesting vocal sample. It originally came out on i! Records in 1997 and has been regarded as an anthem ever since.

        'Ripgroove' by Double 99 was released commercially around the same time as this compilation was out and did fairly well. It is one of the few UK Garage tracks to do well in the mainstream during this period. Double 99 consisted of Omar Adimora and Tim Liken (who went on to achieve huge mainstream success as Tim Deluxe). The original version of this track was an early example of what evolved into speed garage but this particular mix (Tuff Jam) was pure underground UK Garage. The beats were choppy and the bass was heavy, perfect club music.

        The Tina Moore track 'Never Gonna Let You Go' was originally a soulful r&b song which was remixed by Kelly G to give it a slighter tougher edge, however, it wasn't meant to be a garage track but the tempo fit in with that of UK Garage and the rest, as they say, is history. Tina's smooth vocals, coupled with the laid back beats and distinctive bassline makes this an awesome track that still gets played on commercial radio stations to this day!

        Enough of the track by track analysis, its safe to say that this is an excellent compilation, mixed to perfection by Tuff Jam. For an outsider, this is probably one of the best starting points when learning about the UK Garage scene. Ok, it may have more than a few Tuff Jam tracks on it but such is the quality of their work that they are all stone cold classics.

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          15.05.2009 17:37
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          Only for Die-Hard Winstone Fans

          Being a huge fan of Ray Winstone and pretty much everything he has ever done, it was with some happiness that I was given this autobiography of Ray, written by Nigel Goodall as a gift a few weeks ago. Published by John Blake Publishing in 2007 and updated in 20008, I will be reviewing the updated version (as it's the only one I've read!). I'm not normally one for celebrity autobiographies/biographies but I thought I would make an exception for this one.

          Nigel Goodall is a British writer who has written over twenty autobiographies; ranging from Elton John to Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. I've only read the Ray Winstone one so I can't comment on any of his other work I'm afraid. Goodall has also designed over 300 record sleeves for artists such as Kylie, Cliff Richard, Run DMC and even some of the Elvis Greatest Hits collections.

          This book is available in both paper and hardback editions, the paperback costing around £6 and the hardback costing around £13.

          The autobiography of Ray Winstone was written without Ray's consent, Goodall even mentions at the beginning of the book that Ray was unhappy with it being written. Once I had read that I already had a negative feeling towards the writer and the book. If someone doesn't want his or her life story to be told, then why should someone feel as if it is acceptable to do such a thing? I decided to read on anyway, it would be silly to waste a book, and, after all, I did want to know a bit more about Mr. Winstone so, on I read.

          When I read a biography or an autobiography I like to hear something about the person's life, what happened to them growing up, what they did to get to where they are today, what has happened to them since they were famous and even some anecdotes. What I really look for is a personal touch. This book suffered from a distinct lack of all of the above. Goodall touched briefly on where Winstone grew up (only a few roads from where I did, funnily enough) and what his mother and father did. There was no real attempt at developing this at all. The book then goes on to mention the educational establishments he attended before his entrance into acting and then how he got his first job. From that point on the book mentions almost every role that Winstone has ever had without really giving any details of hid life. Surely a man is defined by more than his workload?

          From a factual point of view, this is a good book, you are able to read it and gain knowledge of what plays/shows/films that Ray Winstone has been in and quite a detailed knowledge of what the aforementioned play/show/film was about. The book goes into detail about the plot line of the film, the entire cast and crew and even where it was shot. Very rarely does it give us any information about what Ray was doing, how he was feeling and does not provide us with any actual stories.

          This is a really disappointing read as I would have to assume that a man with a character such as Ray Winstone will have a fair few stories to tell. This man has been in iconic films such as Scum and Quadrophenia (personal favourites of mine) and more recently Sexy Beast and The Departed, I would have thought that someone with as much experience as Nigel Goodall would have been able to get some good first hand information and anecdotes but he fails this miserably. The book makes passing mention of Ray's children but his two eldest daughters are actresses in their own right. I expected the book to mention them a bit more than it did!

          It may be that this is Goodall's preferred style of writing but it is not one that I enjoyed reading. I await Ray's official biography/autobiography with baited breath.

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            15.05.2009 11:39
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            Excellent Second Studio Album From Day 26

            Day 26 are a five-piece all-male r&b group which were formed by Puff Daddy during the reality TV/talent show Making The Band in August 2007. The band members are: Qwanell Mosley (known as Q), Willie Taylor, Brian Andrews, Michael McCluney and Robert Curry. The five chose the name Day 26 as they were formed on the 26th day of the month. 'Forever In A Day' is their second studio album and was released on 14th April 2009 on the Bad Boy / Atlantic record labels.

            Tracklist:
            1 Just Getting Started
            2 Imma Put It on Her
            3 Shawty Wats Up
            4 Think of Me
            5 Stadium Music
            6 Bipolar
            7 Perfectly Blind
            8 So Good
            9 Girlfriend
            10 Babymaker
            11 Then There's You
            12 Need That
            13 Reminds Me of You
            14 Your Heels
            15 Truth Is a Lie

            Instead of doing a track-by-track review I'll go through the ones that I think are the best and worst songs on the album.

            The Good:

            'Just Getting Started' is an appropriate intro to the album but seems to be more concerned with 'swagger' than actually expressing any kind of message. 'Welcome To The Greatest Show On Earth' is the opening line that greets us, modesty, I like it. The backing track is really strong; powerful beats and some interesting sounds but it never really gets going properly.

            The first single from the album is the second track, 'Imma Put It On Her'. This track sounds a lot like Usher's 'Love In This Club', even down to the beats and subtle 'hey' chanting in the background. Diddy and Young Joc provide a verse each on this track, Diddy's verse is ok, nothing too exciting, but Young Joc's verse is pretty poor. I'm not a big fan of this rapper but even for him, this is not great. The actual vocals by the band are really very good; their voices compliment each other on this track well. I think this is a big summer tune.

            'Stadium Music' is a guitar heavy track with a thumping beat and pulsing bassline. The boys do their thing on this one well, each taking it in turns to sign their part. The chorus is catchy but it really is the backing track that makes this one stand out.

            Dawn Richard (a Day 26 label-mate, former member of Danity Kane and girlfriend of Q) makes a cameo appearance on 'Perfectly Blind'. This is a slow and sensuous song in which the group harmonise perfectly throughout. I think it takes a few listens to really appreciate this song but once you do, you'll love it forever.

            'Babymaker' (what a terrible name for a song) features the awesome voice of r&b legend Tank. This song oozes emotion. Each singer on this one pours his soul into it and it really does show. What a performance. The lyrics are not ground-breaking but are delivered in such a way that you're swept along with the track.

            'Need That' is an up-tempo party track featuring Jermaine Dupri. This track reminds me of some of the older Miami bass tracks. This is a proper party track and is one of my absolute favourites from the album. The boys take it in turns to sing over the quick shuffled beat and pounding bass. This is a really short track, only 2:37 and it feels like it's over before it's started.

            The other favourite of mine from the album is 'Reminds Me Of You'. This is an out and out romantic track in which the boys turn to their soulful sides and sing of their love of a woman and how everything else in the world (such as a summer breeze with sunshine) reminds them of her. It's a nice laid-back track, which also has a nice summer vibe. I love this one.

            The Bad:

            'Shawty Wats Up' is quite an abysmal track. Firstly, this features T-Pain, a singer who I really dislike. I use the term singer loosely as every song he has ever done has been heavily edited with auto-tune and vocal synthesisers. Who knows if this guy can even sing? He sounds like a robot. Secondly, I hate the term 'shorty', or, even worse 'shawty'. I listened to this track twice and deleted it from my mp3 player. Something I never ever do, I like to listen to albums in their entirety. I just hated this song that much. Pity.

            One song that just seems to idle along without any real inspiration is 'Girlfriend'. The subject matter has been covered a million times before and will probably be done another million times. I didn't delete this one because I do like certain elements, the vocals are good and the backing track is decent, I just think it could have been done much better.

            Overall, I think the boys have improved on their first album somewhat, I am already eagerly anticipating their third! If you enjoy soulful r&b with some party jams thrown in, you should look this up.

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              13.05.2009 11:16
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              Amazing Debut Album

              Asher Roth is a rapper from Pennsylvania, US and was born on 11th August 1985. He had been known mostly for covering other peoples songs thanks to his first mixtape 'Believe The Hype' which was out in 2006 and the 'Greenhouse Effect' mixtape which was produced and mixed by Don Cannon and DJ Drama and was released in 2008. His first full studio album 'Asleep In The Bread Aisle' was released in 2009 on the Universal Motown / SRC / School Boy Records labels.

              Having listened to this album almost non-stop for two weeks and seeing Asher Roth perform live, I decided it was about time to write a review of this album.

              Tracklist:

              01 Lark On My Go-Kart
              02 Blunt Cruisin'
              03 I Love College
              04 La Di Da
              05 Be By Myself
              06 She Don't Wanna Man
              07 Sour Patch Kids
              08 As I Em
              09 Lion's Roar
              10 Bad Day
              11 His Dream
              12 Fallin' (4:12
              13 Y.O.U. (3:53)

              The song that attracted me to the album was 'I Love College', in fact, this was the first single to be released from the album, so, to spice things up a bit, I'll start with that track.

              'I Love College' appears as the third song on the album, which surprised me a bit, as it was the lead track, I thought it would be the first song. I'd heard this track before getting the album and was fairly impressed, I like the laid back feel to it, the simple bass and Asher's relaxed lyrical delivery. The song is basically about partying and having a good time at college. Nothing too complex going on here, just a nice party track. A lot has been made of the fact that Asher only went to college for one semester and so couldn't really have any idea what college is like. I really couldn't care less. This is a really nice feel-good song with a killer chorus.

              'Lark On My Go Kart' is a great album intro, the hard-hitting drum pattern starts things nicely and Asher's half-aggressive rhyming kicks things off well. The song gets more light hearted as things go on and references to the wii-fit and Mario Kart are a nice inclusion. This is set to be the second single from the album.

              'Blunt Cruisin' is a much more up-tempo affair which is pretty much about 'cruisin' around in the car whilst under the influence of soft-drugs. This is a bit of a daft song which is funny in parts, especially when they encounter serious paranoia when other cars go past them. It does have a ridiculously catchy hook though.

              'La Di Da' also has a catchy hook but is not as much of a light-hearted track as the ones so far covered. This is more about finding a coping mechanism with all of the rubbish that you have to deal with in life; according to this song, Asher Roth's method is to sing 'La Di Da', give it a go, it might work for you!

              Starting with a bit of guitar and then some classic sounding Cee-Lo Green vocals, 'Be By Myself' starts really well. I can see why this has been chosen as the third single from the album. Cee-Lo's voice is absolutely spot on throughout the track; his voice is really distinctive and delivers the chorus perfectly. Asher's lyrics are full off cheeky bragging as he talks about wanting to be a single man making the most of his situation. This is another catchy track which I think should do pretty well, it has quite a bit of pop appeal.

              Apparently Keri Hilson is the female vocalist on 'She Don't Wanna Man' but I can see no evidence of this on the album sleeve at all. It does sound like it could be here but I can't see why she isn't credited on the cover? Ah well, it's a decent track nonetheless. It has a nice funky beat and some good guitar work. I like the way Asher's vocals contrast with the female singers, especially during the hook. This is a well put together tune.

              'Sour Patch Kids' is one of the weakest tracks on the album for me. There are some good aspects, some of the lyrics are well written and witty but the overall feel of the track isn't great. I like the drum loop but fail to get excited about the track as a whole, which is a shame.

              'As I Em' is a clever reference to Eminem and the fact that, due to the fact that they are both white rappers, Asher is being compared to him. Asher speaks about how he has been influenced by Eminem and appreciates that without him, he would be doing what he loves but wants to do things his own way and to not be constantly compared to him. The chorus is sung by Chester French, a singer/songwriter duo who I expect we will be hearing a lot more from in the near future.

              Busta Rhymes and New Kingdom appear on 'Lion's Roar'. Asher's performance on this quick track is really good, full of energy and well-written lyrics but it's Busta's performance that really steals the show; he delivers his verse almost breathlessly. This is an up-tempo track that I think would work really well in a club. Good work.

              The next track slows things down massively, featuring the vocals of Jazze Pha; 'Bad Day' is more of a story than some of the other tracks on the album. In it, Asher talks about having the worst possible day, from being stuck on a plane next to a fat guy, forgetting his ipod, not being able to relieve his bowels on the plane due to turbulence and being in a rubbish hotel. At the end of the song he realises that things could be worse, I guess changing the whole tone of the song around. The chorus on this one is pretty strong too, although I personally am not a huge fan of Jazze Pha.

              'His Dream' is a really slow and thoughtful track from Asher which is basically an ode to his father and what his father has done for him throughout his life. It's a nice track but a bit out of place in the album. The lyrics are well written and performed with real emotion. Not a track I'll come back to over and over again but it's nice for the first few listens. It is good to hear someone appreciate what their parent have sacrificed for them though, so I can see where Asher was coming from with this one.

              ' Ben Kweller - Falling' was sampled for 'Fallin', and it was done very very well. I like the drum loop and the bass on this one, it has quite a summery feel to it, it certainly has some mainstream appeal. Asher speaks about his past and how he was growing up and how he started rapping. Its all told in a really concise way but it works very well. Nice track.

              Slick Rick features on Y.O.U., which is a bonus track on the UK edition of the album. If I was an American, I'd be mad to have missed out on this one! Rick The Ruler absolutely destroys this track, his voice is so distinctive and his verse is delivered in a way that only he can. The backing track is a really crazy ensemble of heavy beats, trumpets, pianos and weird samples. The lyrics speak of being individual, having your own characteristics and doing your own thing. It doesn't really fit into the flow of the album but it is an awesome track.

              Oren Yoel who, as far as I can see, has produced nothing of any specific note previously produced the majority of the album. I sense big things to come from this one. 'I Love College' was produced by Mike Caren, 'La Di Da' by Don Cannon, 'Fallin' by Novel and 'Y.O.U.' by Nottz. This is a fantastic album which all fans of hip hop, both underground and mainstream should check out.

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              • Three (DVD) / DVD / 57 Readings / 56 Ratings
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                12.05.2009 14:55
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                There Are Only Two Reasons To See This Film.

                I'll start this review with a completely frank and honest admission; I only bought this DVD as I am more than a little bit in love with Kelly Brook. She is simply awesome. The release of this film had caused some controversy as it apparently featured a few scenes in which Kelly Brook was partially naked. For me, this was surely a huge reason to see the film!

                Written and Directed by Stuart Raffill, Produced by Carola Ash, Jimmy De Brabant, Michael Dounaev, Diane Kirman, Albert Martinez Martin, Charles Salmon, Heinz Thym and Michael Wolter (phew), this film has only three main characters (obviously the inspiration for the title); Jennifer (Kelly Brook), Jack (Billy Zane) and Manuel (Juan Pablo Di Pace). It is distributed by Universal Pictures and was released in 2006.

                The film starts with wealthy couple Jack and Jennifer and their friends who decide to take a yacht trip around the South Pacific. One of their crew, Manuel, who we are led to believe is something of a womaniser, is cursed by one of his ex-girlfriends just before the yacht sets sail. During the early stages of the voyage Manuel gets into a row with the ships Captain and is fired. During the ensuing fight, the yacht is set on fire and everyone has to abandon ship.

                We then find Jennifer, Jack and Manuel on a deserted island and, as Jack is used to being the 'alpha-male' type, insists that he can provide for his girlfriend and himself without the help of Manuel, who is told to stay away from them. After numerous failed attempts to capture some food, Jennifer realises that they need Manuel's help. She also finds it difficult to resist his charm and charisma, especially as Jack is acting like such an idiot.

                As the story develops we see Jennifer double-cross both men to get what she wants but she is never really portrayed as particularly selfish or evil, something which I felt the story could have developed more. It is easy to take an instant dislike to Jack, a dislike which is maintained throughout the film; his arrogance, selfishness and aggressiveness makes him an easy hate-target. Manuel is not really an inspiring character and is far from 'clean', he is quite shifty and conniving, maybe suiting Jennifer's character in that way better than Jack does.

                I don't think any of the major actors in this film are particularly good, Zane gives an average performance and never really gives the character of Jack any real depth or believability, which is a shame. Brook, whilst a beauty to behold, gives us a rather poor attempt at an American accent and is never really believable either. Di Pace is probably the better actor of the three in this film and does give a fairly good effort at showing us some passion.

                The island that the majority of the movie was filmed on (apparently in the Bahamas) is beautiful but I don't think that the filmmakers ever really make the most of it, the scenery is never really allowed to play a huge part in the film as you would expect it to. There are a few scenes, such as a 'romantic embrace' which takes place in the sea where things could have been really enhanced by the use of the scenery. I have no idea why this was not done, but it clearly should have.

                There is a weird element to the movie, that of Manuel's ex-girlfriend who has cursed him. Throughout the film we see her undertaking voodoo-type rituals and ceremonies which are supposed to have cause an adverse effect on Manuel. This part of the plot doesn't really work very well at all and just seems quite weird. If it was done better then maybe it could have added something interesting to the film but as it stands, it was just plain strange.

                One interesting thing that I discovered about this film was that in some markets (most notably the US) it was titled as 'Survivor Island'. This is a much more 'exotic' sounding name which I would have assumed meant that they dealt with wild animals or some kinds of monsters, instead, it was just their ego's and sexual appetites they had to contend with. I don't know why the name was changed, maybe they felt that American's wouldn't understand the relationship between the films name and the number of characters, whatever the reason, it was the wrong choice.

                Anyone I've ever spoken to who has seen this film has said that it is a complete pile of rubbish, whilst I agree with this, it does have one saving grace; Kelly Brook (maybe that should read two saving graces?) but, the film is not THAT bad. It just seems that the main reason I went to see the film turned out to be the only reason to see it.

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                • oddschecker.com / Internet Site / 55 Readings / 54 Ratings
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                  11.05.2009 15:25
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                  A Gambler's Dream

                  Oddschecker.com is a website which allows you to compare the betting odds offered by a large number of online betting companies.

                  If, like me, you like an occasional flutter, this site is an absolute must-have when it comes to making your decision on which bookie to hand over your hard earned cash to. If you could make more money by betting with one company than another, you'd be crazy not to? Right?

                  The Oddschecker site has up to date information on pretty much every sport you can imagine, if you can place a wager on it, oddschecker will have it covered. Upon visiting the homepage you are presented with 'features', this is normally the major sporting events that are currently taking place and seeing as this is a UK based website, they normally feature a large amount of football. These features are joined by a brief comment on what is actually going on during the event and may even have some betting advice. The homepage is really well laid out, easy to use and contains clear graphics.

                  Along the left-hand side of the page you have the options of the various sports that you can choose from; football, cricket, rugby (league and union), horse racing, greyhounds, the list goes on. Right at the bottom of the list you have 'Specials', this section contains the odds for non-sporting events such as elections, big brother, x factor etc.

                  Once you have decided which event you want to bet on, a simple click displays the odds offered by around 20 bookmakers. The list includes the obvious ones that everyone knows like Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill but also the less heard of ones such as Betfred and Totesport, ones that the more hardened gambler would know about. The odds are helpfully displayed in order of which ones would bring you the greater return. Clicking on the odds then take you to the chosen bookmakers site for you to place your bet.

                  The whole site is really easy to use, is updated more often than a normal person would think possible and has helped me out on many occasions. If you are a heavy gambler or just like the odd flutter then you really should visit oddschecker.com

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                  • Jacobs Iced Gems / Sweets / 62 Readings / 61 Ratings
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                    07.05.2009 12:48
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                    Great Tasting Kids Treat That Adults Love!

                    I used to love Iced Gems as a kid and in a moment of nostalgia I bought a multi-pack of them in Tesco a few weeks ago.

                    The multi-pack contains 6 individual packets of Iced Gems, each containing 25g of goodness. The multipack cost a meagre £1.30. The packaging of the multi-pack is light blue and turquoise and has a picture of a cartoon polar bear. I guess they're aiming for the cute factor but I just felt that it looked a bit weird. As the saying goes 'don't judge a book by the cover' and the contents more than make up for the poor packaging. The individual packets have the exact same design.

                    For those not familiar with Iced Gems, it's a simple idea; a small biscuit topped with icing. There are different flavours and colours available; white, yellow, purple and pink. According to the packet, yellow is lemon flavoured, pink is raspberry, purple is blackcurrant while the white doesn't seem to have any describable flavour at all. The packaging has a picture of the three colours with a description of what flavour they are. The white gem has no information under it at all. To be honest, the gems don't have a very strong taste anyway; I would be very impressed if anyone could identify the different flavours in a blind-test. They all taste as good as one another as far as I'm concerned. Just for the record, you get around 20 iced gems in each packet but this is an estimate, you might be unlucky and get less, or very lucky and get more, who knows?

                    The major problem I have with the Iced Gems themselves is that you very rarely make your way through a pack which has all of the Iced Gems intact; you often find that some of the biscuits and icing has separated. I like to separate them myself, eat the biscuit first and then the icing. Sometimes, if I'm feeling really adventurous I eat the icing first and then the biscuit. Never both at once.

                    The biscuit part of the gems is just like any other biscuit, similar to rich tea but they are so small that you never really get the full experience. The icing part is clearly all sugar but isn't overly sweet. If you leave them on your tongue they disintegrate within a few seconds.

                    These are a godsend if you fancy a little snack; each bag has only 98 calories and 0.8g of fat. However, it's not all good news as they also have 21.6g of carbohydrates, of which 12.9g are sugars. The packing states that they contain no artificial colours or flavours, which is a plus. They're not exactly filling but if you need something to stimulate your taste buds in-between meals, these are a pretty good choice.

                    If anyone remembers these from your youth, I implore you to go and get a packet today, you will not regret it.

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                    • Death Proof (DVD) / DVD / 49 Readings / 48 Ratings
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                      06.05.2009 17:39
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                      Great Film, But Not A Classic

                      Death Proof is a film that was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Quentin Tarantino, Elizabeth Avellan, Erica Steinberg and Robert Rodriguez produced it.

                      Initially released as a shorter version in cinemas as part of the 'Grindhouse' double-bill with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror in 2007, this longer version was re-edited and released individually on DVD. Apparently, the DVD version has an extra 30 minutes of footage. I didn't get to see the cinema version but I think that leaving anything out of this could have been dangerous, especially the action scenes.

                      The film begins by introducing us to a group of friends; Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier), Shanna (Jordan Ladd), Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito) who are going drinking to celebrate a birthday. At the bar, Jungle Julia reveals that she announced on her radio show that a man could win a lapdance from her friend Arlene by buying her a drink, calling her Butterfly and reciting a poem. Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) fulfils this and gets his lapdance, despite Arlene's initial reluctance. Pam (Rose McGowan) is also drinking at the bar, we learn that she and Jungle Julia went to school together and didn't get on. Stuntman Mike offers Pam a lift home as she has been drinking and he is sober. During the course of the journey home, Stuntman Mike explains that his car is 'Death Proof'; it's a stunt car that has been reinforced to the point that even in a head on collision at high speed, the driver will survive. He then provides the most memorable piece of dialogue from the whole film, I'm really tempted to include it here but I think you need to see/hear it in the

                      From the moment we meet Stuntman Mike we suspect that he's up to no good, the next few minutes of the film confirms this. The action really kicks in from this point, the slow start of the film is quickly forgotten as the death toll rises. There is a car crash scene which is shown from various points of view, this is done very, very graphically. This leaves you in no doubt that the rest of the film is going to be gruesome. Kurt Russell was born for this part, he plays the menacing and clearly disturbed Mike as perfectly as you could imagine, killing off attractive young girls with his death proof car. I'm not really into cars but this one is pretty impressive, I have no idea what model it is or even which manufacturer made it but it is a thing of beauty.

                      The second half of the film introduces us to another group of girls; Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Tracie Thoms), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Zoe Bell (playing herself). The girls are all in the film industry, in various roles, most notably though, is Zoe, who is a stuntwoman. I didn't realise until after I'd seen the film but Zoe Bell is an actual stuntwoman and has worked with Tarantino in the past (Kill Bill) and in a large number of other Hollywood productions. Zoe is visiting the US and while she is there she wants to test drive a white 1970 Dodge Challenger as it is the same car that is in cult-classic film Vanishing Point. She then convinces her friends to let her play 'Ships Mast', a game in which she sits on the bonnet of the car, holding on to belts fastened to the car doors while its being driven at high speed. Its at this point that Stuntman Mike shows up.

                      I was disappointed at how the film ended but there is an amazing car-chase scene which takes up at least five minutes and is very impressive. The camera work during this scene is fantastic, it honestly adds to the suspense and you get a real feel for how fast the cars are going. You never really know how things are going to finish, this is always a plus point for me, I hate being able to predict how a film is going to end.

                      The female cast in Death Proof do their job pretty well, they look attractive and play their parts well but Kurt Russell absolutely steals the show. His performance was excellent. Quentin Tarantino makes a small cameo appearance as a bar owner, but didn't really stand out much. I'm just a big fan of cameo appearances, no matter how insignificant they are.

                      I did like the grainy effect that was employed, it makes the film look dated and is an homage to the 70's exploitation films (where the 'Grindhouse' name actually comes from).

                      This is by no means a classic, Tarantino has done much better films, Reservoir Dogs for instance, but this is an enjoyable film, and one that shouldn't be taken too seriously.

                      This film also has an exceptional soundtrack, I would recommend that it is hunted down and purchased immediately.

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                      • More +
                        05.05.2009 09:45
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                        De Niro on Comedy Form

                        Ben (played by Robert De Niro) is a successful Hollywood film producer. His latest film, entitled 'Fiercely', has just had its first screen test and is met by far from positive responses from the audience. Some of the test cards are handed back with offensive comments and a few even have offensive pictures drawn on them.

                        This is all down to the fact that the film's director Jeremy Brunell (Michael Wincott) insists that the lead character, played by Sean Penn (who plays himself in the film) and his dog are brutally murdered at the end. It seems as if the audience can accept a human being murdered but there is no way they will allow his pet dog to be shot in the head. Studio executive Lou (Catherine Keener) demands that this scene is removed, otherwise the film won't be played at the Cannes Film Festival and she will just get another editor to remove the scene. This whole problem causes Ben no end of worry and he fears that this film could be the end of his career.
                        Adding even more pressure to Ben's professional life is Bruce Willis (who plays a parody of himself in the film). Bruce has been hired to be the leading man in a film that is about to start shooting but has spent the last six months growing a huge beard. The studio tells Ben that unless he can get Willis to shave his beard off, the film will be cancelled and Ben will be sued for the money lost. Willis, of course, refuses to get rid of his beard and throws a huge diva-like tantrum.
                        We also learn that Ben has three children by two ex-wives, one of whom he is struggling to 'get over'. Ben admits that he still has feelings for her, two years after their marriage broke up. His teenage daughter is also causing him worry, something that he tries to get to the bottom of but doesn't really manage properly.

                        To say that Ben is slightly stressed in an understatement. The whole focus of the film is how he copes with his day-to-day stresses and strains, which, to be honest, is pretty funny. De Niro is on form as the stressed-out Ben, someone who is torn between his work and his family and who is genuinely worried for his future. While not funny in the conventional way, Ben provides most of the laughs in the film. Bruce Willis has the most memorable part, mostly because of the huge tantrums and foul-mouthed abuse he dishes out to Ben whenever he suggests that the beard should go. I can sympathise with Willis in this respect, as I too am proud of my facial hair! Willis only appears in a handful of scenes but his inclusion in the film was an absolute masterstroke.
                        Michael Wincott as the deranged British film director Jeremy Brunell was also another inspired piece of casting. This drink and drug crazed character is the bane of Ben's life. If Ben can't manage to get him to edit the ending of the film how the studio executives want, his career is over. After some negotiations and some bribing, Jeremy relents and edits the film. Once he gets to Cannes however, a third edit of the film is shown, one that no one but Jeremy has seen...

                        The ending of 'What Just Happened?' is set after his return from Cannes and after his beard conflict with Bruce Willis comes to an end. It revolves around a Vanity Fair photo shoot of Hollywood's top thirty powerful film producers. Ben narrates to us and informs us that his placement in the photo reflects where his career is at that exact moment in time.
                        'What Just Happened?' is based on Art Linson's book 'What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line'. Art is a director, producer and screenwriter working in Hollywood from the 1970s to the current day. Along side Marc Cuban, Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, Art also produced this film. It was directed by Barry Levinson.

                        This film carries a certificate of 15 and is widely available on DVD for less than £10, a definite bargain.

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                      • Body Of Lies (DVD) / DVD / 57 Readings / 57 Ratings
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                        30.04.2009 14:58
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                        Not one of the best films I've seen.

                        'Body Of Lies' is a film adaptation of the David Ignatius book of the same name. The film was adapted byWilliam Monahan, produced and directed by Ridley Scott and directed by Donald De Line. It was released in 2008 by Warner Brothers.

                        The film begins as a terrorist cell operating in Manchester blows themselves (and a number of police officers) up after it comes to light they their plan to carry out a proper terrorist attack has been discovered and the police are about to arrest them.

                        Roger Ferris (Leonardo Di Caprio) is a CIA agent who is currently working in Iraq in an effort to track down and capture notorious terrorist Al-Saleem. Roger's boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) is based in the United States but communictaes with Roger via mobile phone. Ed also keeps an eye on him via a small unmanned aircraft.

                        After his partner is killed, Ferris is sent to Jordan where he meets Hani Salaam (Mark Strong) who is head of Jordanian intelligence. They forge an uneasy alliance based on the premise that Ferris will never lie to Salaam. Various events take place which lead Salaam to believe that Ferris had lied to him and he orders Ferris to leave Jordan within 12 hours.

                        I'm trying to be deliverately vague here as the storyline is fairly difficult to explain without giving away some of the major plot ideas and 'twists'. Watching the film, it is easy to follow and understand but to actually explain it is more difficult than I expected. The basic idea of the film is that everyone is out to get what they want and will stop at nothing to achieve it. There are double, triple and even quadruple crosses running throughout the film. The interactions between some of the characters are interesting to watch, but I felt that they could have developed the relationships between them in a better way, and in more detail. There are parts of the film in which Ferris is torn between Ed and Hani, especially when they are both running operations behind Ferris' back. Ed and Hani hate each other with a passion and this seems to be shown pretty well by the actors.

                        Mark Strong is an English actor who is probably most well known for his appearances in numerous TV dramas but he really makes his mark (no pun intended) in this film. He plays a wealthy and respected middle-eastern gentleman very well. He performs his part with the mannerisms and accents very well, only straying slightly into caricature-esque territory on occasion. I was slightly put off by his characters likeness to Man United striker Dimitar Berbatov, but I'm pretty sure that was not deliberate.

                        Leonardo Di Caprio and Russell Crowe were as good as you would expect but neither seemed to be pushed or stretched by their roles. The two characters communicated via mobile phone throughout the movie and only shared the screen for very short periods of time. I was a tad disappointed by that; I would have liked to see the two interact more. I did like the way that Crowe's character went about his normal daily routine whilst instructing Ferris on his mission and even ordering people to be killed. His hands-free kit allowed him to drop his kids off at school whilst commanding his CIA agent who is thousands of miles away. This film did start to feel a bit like a mobile phone advert at times, which is ironic considering the fact that right at the start of the film, Ed informs his superiors that they are losing the war because their enemies have stopped using technology and so are almost impossible to trace. It might have been that this scene, coupled with the main characters use of phones was meant to indicate the writers feelings about why the US is failing so miserable in the Middle East but I just think that this film is not clever enough for that to be the case.

                        Overall, I wouldn't really recommend this film to anyone, but if it's on and you have nothing better to do, you could do a lot worse than watch it.

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                        • Taken [2008] (DVD) / DVD / 62 Readings / 60 Ratings
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                          28.04.2009 15:53
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                          Excellent, mindless action film

                          I really wanted to see this film at the cinema but never got around to it. So, I've been been eagerly awaiting its release on DVD for months and months and have only just recently managed to watch it.

                          'Taken' was written by Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson (who was also producer) and was directed by Pierre Morel. It was distributed by 20th Century Fox and Europacorp and was released in 2008.

                          Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) retired from the CIA so that he could spend more time with his estranged daughter Kim (played by Maggie Grace) who lives with Bryan's ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and her current husband Stuart (Xander Berkeley).

                          Bryan's ex-coleagues from the CIA visit him for a game of cards and offer him some easy money; running security for pop-star Sheerah (Holly Valance). Bryan agrees to take on the job, knowing that he is struggling to compete with Kim's ultra rich step-dad financially. Everything goes to plan until after the concert when Sheerah is attacked. Bryan fights off the attacker and manages to get Sheerah to safety. In return, Sheerah gives Bryan her vocal coach and manager's contact number to pass on to Kim as she too wants to be a singer.

                          Bryan learns that Kim wants to holiday in Paris with her best friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy). He is very reluctant at first, stating that his knowledge of the world means that he knows how dangerous it is. He allows Kim to go, on condition that she calls him every day. Bryan learns that the travel plans include a trip around Europe, following U2's tour. He is furious but allows his daughter to go, knowing that he will have to let her grow up and find her own way sooner or later.

                          Upon arrival in France, the girls meet Peter, a Frenchman who offers to share a cab into Paris due to the expense of the taxi journey. He drops the girls to their apartment and reports their whereabouts over his mobile phone. Excited about their trip, the girls play loud music in their apartment and fail to hear Bryan's call to Kim to check to see if they arrived safely. Realising the fact that se forgot to call her father, Kim goes to the bathroom to escape Amanda's loud music. As she is on the phone, she sees a gang of men enter the house and kidnap Amanda. Bryan stays on the phone and tries to help Kim as much as possible. He tells her to hide under the bed and give him as many details about the kidnappers as possible. As Kim is being kidnapped, one of the kidnappers picks up the phone, at this point Bryan utters my favourite lines of the film:

                          "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want.
                          If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.
                          If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

                          The kidnapper simply replies "Good luck".

                          And so the fun begins.

                          Bryan uses his government connections and Stuart's business profile to make his way to Paris and find his daughter. From the moment Bryan arrives in Paris until the end of the film, there is nothing but absolute carnage! Some of the action scenes in this film are among the best I've seen in a long time, and, although quite far fetched, are almost believeable. There is a car-chase scene that would get any die-hard Bond fan excited. In fact, if you like Bond, you really should see this film.

                          Bryan Mills is an unstoppable force, killing dozens of people in his quest to rescue his daugher. He exploits his relationship with Jean-Claude a high ranking member of the French government who was once his ally but now wants Bryan arrested and deported due to his actions in Paris.

                          There is nothing clever about this film do don't expect any big plot twists or surprises; this is an all-out action assault. Bryan is an out-and-out hero figure, constantly escaping from certain death, even in the most unlikely of situations and... well... lets put it this way, the end is no big surprise. The fun of this film is how we get there.

                          The action takes place in a variety of locations, some glamorous and luxurious and some are as far away from luxury as you can possibly get. There are a few scenes which are really quite disgusting and, if you let your mind wander too far, you begin to really think about the implications if human trafficking and kidnap. You're never allowed more than a few seconds to ponder on societies ills as more action is only ever just around the corner. The film is well shot, with some excellently breathtaking views of Paris.

                          Liam Neeson expertly portrays the desperate father who will stop at nothing to get his daughter back. At the start of the film you see a father who is struggling to cope with the fact that his daughter is being raised by another man and is desperate to make amends for being absent for most of his daughters life. In the middle of the film we see the brutal and violent father who wants nothing more than to rescue his daughter. At the end, well, thats the end, and I'm not going to spoil it.

                          At just over 90 minutes long, this is a short film which seems to be over before it starts. Apparently a sequel has been announced for release in 2010/2011, I hope it is half as good as this one.

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                          • BallisticBlue.com / Online Shop / 54 Readings / 54 Ratings
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                            27.04.2009 16:57
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                            Top notch service!

                            Having spent hours and hours searching through websites which offer personalised invites we (the missus and myself) decided to give ballisticblue a try, the design we chose looked nice and the process seemed easy enough.

                            The homepage is simple to navigate; you are offered seven options, each one pertaining to the type of invites you require:

                            Humour
                            Photo Upload
                            Wedding
                            Thank You Cards
                            Children's Invitations
                            Birthday Invitations

                            You also have the option to show all available invitations.

                            At the bottom of the page you can see the range of personalised products that they offer. I've never bought any of the items from there but in the interest of this review I decided to have a look:

                            Personalised Teddies
                            Baby Gifts - keepsake boxes and photo albums etc
                            Photo Upload Gifts - upload a photo and they make it into a jigsaw
                            Wedding Stationery - keepsake boxes and photo albums etc
                            Children's Canvas Prints

                            They all seem to be of a reasonable price and look nice. Definitely a nice idea if you are looking for something a bit different to give as a gift.

                            Back to the main focus of the site; invitations. Once you click through to the option you want, you are presented with a page full of available invites. The pictures are small but if you hover your mouse icon over them they automatically enlarge and allow you a closer look. Once you have made your choice you are then given the option to personalise whatever is written on the invites. This is especially worth thinking about if you find an invite that you would like to use for a birthday but it is listed on the site as a stag night invitation. You can change the writing but not the layout so there are some slight limitations but the invites have been designed in such a way that I think any layout changes would be highly unlikely. They all look attractive.

                            The personalisation of the cards is very easy to do. In the centre of the page is the invite you have selected. On the right hand side is a text box that allows you to type in new text or edit the existing text. Once you have done this, click on 'update preview' and your information is displayed on the invite. It shows you exactly what your invite will look like once it arrives.

                            An interesting feature of this site is that it allows you to set up 'Mailing Lists' of the people you wish to send the invites to. It then prints an envelope with their name and address and prints their name on the invite itself. This is an awesome option which is not only time-saving but also adds even more of a personal touch. Very impressive. You can also allocate each contact on your mailing list two names, a 'friendly name' and a 'formal name'. This is handy when contacting family members; you can choose to have your invite printed to 'Mum and Dad' and the envelope addressed to 'Mr and Mrs Jones'. The postman might have a chuckle when he starts delivering letters to 'Mum and Dad' and 'Uncle Dave and Aunt Joan'.

                            This option requires you to set up an account with ballisticblue; however, this takes minutes and does not cost you a penny.

                            Once you have signed up and signed in, you don't have to complete your order all in one go. Lets face it, if you are inviting a large number of people you could end up spending all day typing in names and addresses. This website allows you to edit your invite, save it, and come back to it at a later date. You can also make amendments to your mailing list at any time (prior to the order of course).

                            When you're happy with your design you confirm it and you are then presented with the postage options. You can choose to have all of the invites sent to yourself and you can then buy the stamps and post them yourself. Alternatively, you can allow ballisticblue to send the invites to your friends and family at the addresses you have allocated them on your 'mailing list'. This takes all the hassle out of the process and is obviously much quicker; your invites taking only one journey instead of two. You will of course have to pay for the luxury; it works out slightly more expensive but for the time saved, it is worth doing.

                            The cards themselves are printed on 300 gsm white card with a satin finish. They look completely professional, there is no running of ink, blurs or frays from where the cards are cut. Everything is immaculate.

                            The cost of each invite varies, depending on the design chosen and the quantity required; the more you buy, the cheaper it is per invite.

                            For example, a typical invite costs £1.99 each if you order between 1-4. 5-19 costs £1.09 each. 20-49 is 99p each. 50-99 are 89p each. 100-199; 79p each and finally 200+ are 75p each. If you are placing an order and are nearly at the maximum amount in the specific category, it may be worth ordering a few more as it makes the overall price cheaper. In comparison to similar websites. Ballisticblue's prices are around the average mark. Delivery is very very quick, on the two occasions I've used them, the order has been dispatched the next working day. There was a problem with delivery of the second order, but that was a problem with the courier company, I contacted ballisticblue regarding this and they resolved the problem instantly. Their customer service department is very helpful and friendly, exactly what you need when there are problems with your order.

                            I would highly recommend ballisticblue; in fact, I will be using them again in the near future.

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                            • The Siege (DVD) / DVD / 69 Readings / 68 Ratings
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                              24.04.2009 12:29
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                              Avoid This If You Can!

                              The Siege was written by Lawrence Wright, Edward Zwick and Menno Meyjes. Lynda Obst and Edward Zwick produced the film, Edward Zwick also directed it. The film was released in 1998 and was distributed by 21st Century Fox.

                              The film begins by showing footage from the Khobar Towers bombing which took place on June 25th 1996. The Khobar Towers was a building in Saudi Arabia which was being used by the US military. In the film, the blame for this attack was placed firmly on a terrorist cell led by Sheik Ahmed Bin Talal, who is then covertly taken into custody by the US.

                              The film then cuts to New York where we learn that there is a hostage situation involving a packed bus full of civilians. FBI agents Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) and Frank Haddad (Tony Shalhoub) arrive at the scene and witness the bomb detonating. Fearing the worst, the agents are surprised when it transpires that this was a warning. Everyone aboard the bus is covered in blue paid. The FBI receive a fax stating 'Release Him'. Everyone at the FBI gets to work trying to discover who is behind the 'bombing' and what their motives are.

                              A short time later, there is another bomb aboard a bus. The same FBI agents attempt to negotiate with the terrorists, they manage to get the children released, their next move is to get the elderly off the bus too. As the door opens and the first of the elderly passengers is getting off, the bomb goes off, killing everyone on board and showering the vicinity in debris.

                              It is during the investigation of the bombing that we meet Elise Kraft (Annette Bening), an experienced CIA agent who has spent years working in Saudi Arabia and who is undertaking her own investigation. There is huge friction between Hubbard and Kraft which becomes a huge part of the plot. The film develops as more and more terrorist attacks take place and finally, the army is called in, led by Major General William Devereaux. Once this character is fully introduced, the pace really picks up and things finally start to get going. This film is a little long and, retrospectively, there are a few scenes that could have been cut without altering the story or affecting the impact of the film at all.

                              Although quite explosive, (excuse the pun) the first half of the film is pretty slow. Once the scene is set, however, things start to fall into place pretty quickly. We meet a few more unsavoury characters along the way who have a huge impact on the events unfolding before our eyes; I won't go into too much detail, as it will spoil the film. The film build in suspense as they attempt to foil a terrorist attack and find the last terrorist cell operating in New York. The end of the film provides us with what is supposed to be a huge 'twist' but, to be honest, I saw it coming and was hugely disappointed when my theory came true. For a film like this to be truly effective and memorable, I want to be surprised. The Siege just didn't do it for me in this way.

                              The actors in this film failed to really impress me, there are some scenes which are very disappointing, it seems as if the actors really don't care about their roles or the storyline. They do manage to show some emotions well, particularly when a few (well, more than a few) of their colleagues are killed in an attack. The despair on Denzel Washington's face in this scene is clear. There is also a scene in which Tony Shalhoub plays his character to perfection, expressing his frustration and anger convincingly, I'm not going to give anything away but when you see this scene, you'll know what I'm talking about.

                              The action scenes in this film are probably the best things about it. The explosions are filmed well and to be honest, are fairly impressive, especially considering this was filmed ten years ago! The advancement of special effects and filming techniques in that time have been huge so for a film of this age to be able to pull of these types of scenes as well as it does is very nice.

                              Yankee Stadium (home of the New York Yankees baseball team) makes an appearance as a makeshift prison / detention centre. Using this location was a stroke of genius as far as I'm concerned. It shows how desperate the army have become to put an end to the attacks but also the bleakness of the situation they are in, the internal shots are full of dark greys and black. A nice metaphor if there has ever been one.

                              Despite some of these redeeming factors, I would recommend that this film be avoided if possible. It does have some potential but even the ever-excellent Denzel Washington fails to rescue this, which is a shame.

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                              • Fox's Jam Cream Biscuit / Snacks / 40 Readings / 40 Ratings
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                                23.04.2009 12:34
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                                Jammy Dodgers For Grown-Ups!

                                To be honest, I've never been a huge fan of Fox's products, I've always found their stuf to be quite hit-and-miss, some things they make are excellent, some things are very very poor. I would say that these biscuits fall into the former category, these biscuits are the bees knees.

                                Fox's have re-named these biscuits 'Jam Rings', in fact, to give them their full title: 'Fox's Creams Jam Rings with Real Raspberry Jam'. Quite a mouthful but this is appropriate as one biscuit is the perfect size to fit into my greedy mouth in one go if the mood takes me (which it often does).

                                Similar in design to Jammy Dodgers, these consist of (from bottom to top) a biscuit, a layer of vanilla cream, raspberry jam and the topped with another biscuit with a hole in the middle with the jam exposed. Unlike Jammy Dodgers though, the different layers here have a more distinctive taste whereas I find that the layers in a Jammy Dodger all seem to mould into one when being eaten. The biscuit is a really nice, crumbly variety, buttery and shortbread-like, it has a nice taste and texture to it. The cream part of the biscuit is really rich but not sickly, they seem to have got the balance just right with this. The jam is nice, has a strong but not overpowering taste of raspberry. There is just the right amount of each of the ingredients, and they all compliment each other perfectly.

                                Accoring to the packet, each biscuit contains 80 calories, 4.9g of sugar, 3.8g of fat and 0.08g of salt. Lets be honest, for biscuits, thats not bad at all. BUT (now for the bas news) each biscuit also contains 2.1g of saturates. That doesn't sound alot but put into the context that this is 11% of your recommended daily allowance of saturates, this is quite high.

                                For me, the real test of a biscuit is how it stands up to some serious tea dunking. These do a good job. Their taste is seriously enhanced by being dunked in a hot cup of tea for a few seconds. Be careful though, I've found that around 3 or 4 seconds is the maximum amount of 'dunk time', any more than that and you run the risk of losing some of your biscuit in the tea. Thats an unpleasant experience to say the least.

                                Each 150g pack of these badboys are supposed to be around 80 pence each but they are often on offer in most of the supermarkets so you can always snap up a bargain. Just keepo your eyes peeled for the bright red packaging.

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