- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
… don’t mean they’re not after you.’ This great line from Nirvana’s Nevermind just about sums up the attitude of a certain acquaintance of mine. He has what you could kindly call a ‘different’ outlook to most normal people, and has a highly individualised perspective on reality. i.e. He’s a complete fruitcake. This is an unfair description for someone who is probably the most intelligent person I know, and the most highly educated, but his outspoken viewpoints often lead to a mistaken impression of a rather unbalanced individual. Some of his quirkier beliefs involve utter faith in the power of the Ouija board, his innate belief that his in-depth knowledge of the film industry will help him predict the Oscars (Yet he has chosen the last 5 Star Trek films as best picture), and he is absolutely convinced that UFO’s are from vastly superior intellects who are studying us in case we become dangerous. Conspiracies have been his hobby for many years, and he bores us all to tears with his versions of history. To a certain extent, his theories are quite charming, but at the same time annoying. But occasionally quite fascinating… A large group of us were out for an all day Saturday session when he started. Apparently this week he had solved the mystery of Robbie Williams success - Gary Barlow was secretly writing all his material, but didn’t want to be credited, as he knew how unpopular he had become when he tried to replace Cliff Richard in a bizarre body swap experiment. Then he came out with the following gem: Our friend had been working as a programmer for a large, yet mostly unknown computer component manufacturer. His brief was to extend a currently available program, which was involved in (facial) feature recognition, and adapt it so that instead of recognising individuals from file, it could recognise the emot
ive expressions being shown by an individual. He had been working for a few months on this project and with his colleagues was making good progress. He was curious however as to why, when the available software, which had been developed for the US police forces, was for identifying faces from any angle, the project they were working on only involved a 10 degree variance from full frontal. When he questioned his superiors, they shrugged him off repeatedly, and eventually threatened him with disciplinary action. But, obviously this is only fuel for a paranoid mind. He did a little snooping but got nowhere, so he involved a couple of friends from his work (who obviously we’d never met, or else his story wouldn’t have been as sinister) Apparently the origin of the instruction was from an American conglomerate (who he would not name) who had commissioned a massive market research program. Apparently (this is a word I am having to overuse!) many digital TV sets manufactured in the last 5 years have had a tiny lens fitted into the back of the remote control receiver section. This lens refracts an image of what is directly in front of the TV set onto a photo-chromic plate, producing a string of data which can be transmitted through the telephone wire connected to all digital decoders. This image was invariably a collection of faces staring at the screen, and this is what the software was designed for – to assess people’s genuine reactions to advertising campaigns. Although this is pretty invasive, it is quite harmless if kept anonymous, but the financing company had plans for an expansion. They had gained co-operation from the US police by promising them support on follow-on systems. The systems planned included: Integration of the ‘emotion assessor’ into the city centre CCTV networks, in order for retailers to build up target ‘audiences’ for
marketing purposes from the personal database files stored on US citizens. By watching which shops people looked longingly at, they could then target them with promotions etc. The most sinister however, was the offer to the police of all viewing habits, shopping habits, and timekeeping of their catchment area. This also promised that they would be able to single out anybody who was looking a certain way at a shop prior to it being robbed, and even promised that they would be able to identify undesirables such as racists by the way they look at other people on the street. Basically, an individually personal habits, likes, and dislikes were all up for sale. Our friend resigned from the company (from previous employment history I would have preferred the word ‘sacked’ but this is his tale) but the project was just about complete anyway. Within a fortnight of the software project’s completion, the office was closed, and the building stripped. It is now a ‘Sofabed Warehouse’ If this story hadn’t have come from a raging paranoiac loon, then it would have seemed quite strange, yet almost believable. Coming from him meant it had to be bulls**t. But fascinating bulls**t. And who knows? Maybe they are after us?
The title might make sense at some point... I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this category. I have been away from Dooyoo for a while now, and was browsing yesterday looking for something too spur my imagination, and weyhey! – a whinge category. What could be better after 6 months away than unloading on the very things that eat into you day after day. But there is a downside. I am very slow, and hundreds of you have got there before me. What can I possibly mouth off about that hasn’t already been covered? To this end, I have vowed not to read any 101 contributions until I have finished my own. If at times it doesn’t appear refreshingly new, then that is more likely to be down to it being a reflection of myself rather than anything else. Right, where do I start? Something, I think, that will get the readers on my side. 1) Over-privileged Public School Tossers I have qualifications. They are fairly average, and, to be honest, fairly irrelevant to my career. But I earned them. I worked hard for them, and I am sure that the work I put in is a damn sight more relevant to an employer than how much my parents earned or which fancy titled school I went to. If these schools are so much better, then the individual qualifications will prove that, and no one would need to ride on the back of them. My company is riddled with them. They are almost all exclusively male, and swagger about with the knowledge that they are untouchable. Myself, and equally capable colleagues, have all been overlooked in favour of pompous, preening narcissists. Pitted against any one of us, but on a level playing field, they wouldn’t stand a chance. 2) Reformed Ex-Smokers I have no issue with non-smokers, or indeed ex-smokers. Its just those sanctimonious, self-righteous, holier-than-though a*****es, who are so proud of themselves for having the willpower to quit that the
y constantly rub your nose in it for being so weak. They complain louder than anyone else at the smell, and object more strongly. Its your personal triumph not mine. Go away. 3) Beards Beards should be made illegal for anyone under 40, and should have a length restriction of ¾’’. Anyone outside these parameters just looks a complete pillock. I am an incredibly lazy person, and shave as infrequently as I can, and I am the first to admit how ridiculous I look with a fluffy face. – especially as I can only produce a ginger mess. Particularly offensive are: Enlarged sidelappers Any sort of waxing or styling Trimming to shape such as the sculpted goatee Bits of food Women with beards – you only make the youngsters look inadequate Names - Soupstrainer etc 4) Treehuggers I’m all for a bit of environmental consideration, but there is a limit to how far you need to go. Some of the policies suggested to ‘preserve’ the planet ecologically would probably destroy it economically. I lost my first job through environmentalists objecting to the pollution level at the factory I worked at. I do care about issues, but I care a damn site more about whatever affects me directly. 5) Stupid Old Fools I have a lot of respect for the pensioners of our country. They worked long and hard for our future, and have shaped the way that this nation is today. But why are so many of them so damn stupid. I have struggled to get through Saturday shopping crowds, to find hold-ups from groups of OAPs wandering around at ½ mile per hour. In our region, pensioners get free bus passes, yet insist on going to town on a Saturday rather than during the week. And then complain at how busy it is!!! Our local bus service runs a daily trip to the Yorkshire Dales, but you cant get there on a weekend because its always f
ull of pensioners. I don’t believe that there should be major segregation upon retirement, but if you plenty of time to spare during the week, then get the hell out of my way at the weekend. 6) Eczema Even the name sounds like a maddeningly itchy word. I suffered for years as a child, as most of my face and arms were covered. Worse than the itch was the torment from school ‘friends’ Everyone thinks it is easy to just ‘not scratch’, but sometimes insanity beckons. I cleared up for a few years, but occasionally it flares up causing all sorts of misery. I am currently raking my nails up and down my shin, making myself bleed, and probably scarring myself further, just to calm that fiery itch. It’s a totally pointless affliction, without any purpose, and is the prime candidate for dumping. 7) Texting Pick up your bloody phones and speak to each other instead of typing those rdclsly abbrvtd mssgs. Samuel Morse was regarded as a technical genius when he instigated a method of communication involving single taps on a keyboard. But that was over a hundred years ago. This isn’t exactly modern technology! Get a life, and some real bloody friends that you can actually talk to! I am going to stop now before my head pops. I have held back a little. I didn’t slag off old folk for stinking of tea and urine. I never mentioned anything about real ale or folk music when discussing the beardies. I missed out a few - TV chefs for one, Fitness freaks are another. Left wing apologists from middle England stirring up inner city anger with positive and negative, yet strangely uninformed racist views. People who can't stop going on about The Lord of the Rings. (Great book, good film, boring conversation) My God, I could go on forever! I apologise again for being about the 700th opinion, and for p
robably duplicating others views (I hope I have – or I might be considered the weirdo!!) I am sure that there will be disagreement, and I am sure you may let me know. But all in all - this is my list, so I will take some persuading that I am wrong!
I’d dried up… My inspiration was gone… Or was I just p****d off at Dooyoo for lowering the payment structure? Whatever it was, there was a 6 month barren period in which nothing was posted on the site. I had average 2-3 opinions a week for months, enjoying varying degrees of success and was utterly hooked on Dooyoo. Whenever my boss wasn’t looking, I’d nip on to the site read a few opinions and leave a few comments, and log out again before I was caught. Suddenly, however the fire left me. I could think of nothing more to write about. I needed a few reads to get to a redemption level, and found myself attempting to churn out a few short and ill considered opinions, but ended up spending hours on each one. I was getting busier at work, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to conceal my keyboard rattling – especially as my job doesn’t really involve much typing. The final straw I think was my introduction to visitorfriendly.com, which pays you for consumer surveys, and I found myself being rewarded quite well for considerably less work. So there it was. August 2001, 64 opinions written, and that was me done. Forever. Or so I thought… I never actually removed Dooyoo from my list of favourites, each lunchtime it was there. Everytime I went on to Uproar or Popcap to waste away the minutes, there it was, the little green logo in my Favourites folder winking at me seductively and imploring me to just have another quick look. B*****ks to that, I thought, I really can’t be bothered. And so I resisted. Month after month I resisted, and was actually quite proud of myself, as I am by nature a very addictive person, and have never successfully managed to quit any habit, whether it be smoking, excessive drinking, or picking my nose in public. I had been utterly hooked on Dooyoo, to the point that whenever I praised or complained about anything to m
y wife, there came the reply – ‘I suppose that means another bloody opinion then.’ This was fine when it came down to an appliance or an airline for example, but illustrated how pathetic I had become when I started an opinion when my bus was late! But I resisted. Every day I saw it there pulsating away, trying to draw me in, and proving to me that I was just too scared to wipe its smug smile away once and for all. The cold turkey was penance for all the ‘wasted’ time I had spent sticking in my opinions on all and sundry. I was strong. In February this year, we had a new kitchen fitted. We had saved for years and wanted to make sure we were making the right choices. It was suggested that I ‘should go on that bloody opinion thing’ and find out what others thought about Magnet, Moben etc. But by God was I the martyr. I was cured. I could cope with it I was sure. Until last week. I am weak. I succumbed. Somebody had used my computer and had logged on to Dooyoo. The site had remembered all my log-in details, and my colleague was reading all my opinions. He informed me of his own opinion, that half of them were OK, and the other half were utter garbage. I was quite hurt. Most of the Dooyoo community had accepted my ops as OK, some with quite favourable comments, and I was exceptionally proud of my two crowned ops (even though they are both a long way from my best). Who did he think he was to just dismiss my hard work as rubbish? I didn’t know however, whether my memory was being kind or not to their quality, and as I had forgotten most of the content, a started to read them all. He was right. There is a lot of crap in there, but I was still happy about a lot of what I had written, even if some of my ‘opinions’ weren’t my real views, but just deliberately provocative viewpoints. But, worst of
all, I re-discovered my joy at mouthing off. My head is full of products, services, people, and things to have a go at. I feel like I want to burst. I have to admit now that I am a hopeless case, and that I have been sucked back. I have spent a few days reading around the site and thoroughly enjoying myself. There are still a lot of familiar names, and a lot of new ones. I look forward to reading a lot of new material and once again boring you all with my one-sided diatribes. Lets see how long it lasts… PS. I now remember my biggest gripe! I wrote an opinion on Marmite, which I am quite partial to. The opinion was well received and led to a flurry of comments from lovers and haters, and then suddenly, the plug was pulled. Marmite wasn’t a Gourmet food, so the op was withdrawn. I am sure now that I have checked the food site, that I can get them to slip in it somewhere!!!
A couple of years ago we were lucky enough to be invited by a friend to his wedding in Egypt. As we were rather skint, and also saving for our own wedding, we had to decline his invitation. Our friend, who was earning a small fortune as an ex-pat professional in Cairo generously offered to pay for our flights as an early wedding present. It was left up to us to book the flight, but as it was a gift, we felt obliged to search out the best available deal. We had choices from: Direct from Manchester - this was extortionate, and through Emirate airways, who we used for our honeymoon in Sri Lanka, and who later proved to provide fantastic, luxurious flights. Sabena - changing at Amsterdam, and Egyptian air to Cairo. Middle of the road price, but long connection times. Lufthansa, changing at Frankfurt, refuelling at Zurich, and then to Cairo. This was reasonably priced, but the flight times were a little inconvenient. We booked it. Our departure was scheduled for an 8.30am slot, and we were informed by the tickets that we needed to arrive 3 hours beforehand. We thought this was a little earlier than usually required, but this was a scheduled flight rather than charter, and as such unfamiliar, so we just did as we were told, and followed their instructions to the letter. Our journey to Manchester was easier than expected, so we arrived a little after 5.00am. The airport was deserted, and the Lufthansa desk closed, with its shutters down. We waited, and waited, and eventually, at 7.10am, the shutters were lifted, and the desk opened. At this point, a number of people were gathered, and we had all formed a semi-orderly queue. I know that a queue is a peculiarly British phenomena, so was pleasantly surprised to see the majority of German passengers all following the queue procedure. The ones that weren't were the clerks behind the desk. A young woman came out, spoke to everyone in the queue in turn, a
nd then duly separated us into German and British passengers. All the Germans were then dealt with first, and we were all forced to wait till last. It had reached 8.00am before we could make our way to the terminal. When the plane arrived, the lady at the desk again spoke to virtually everybody waiting, and once again separated us into German and English groups. Our group was held back till last, and it wasn't until after the scheduled departure time that we were seated. All this xenophobic behaviour had seemed strange, but when the plane took off only 20 minutes late, we put it all behind us, after all, we were on holiday. But Manchester Airport was only the beginning... On the plane, the entire group of English passengers (there were 12 of us) were seated right at the very back, in the smoking area, whether we wanted to smoke or not. I don't know if we were seated together to give us a chance for social interaction, or whether the rear of the plane gives the most uncomfortable flight, so that was where we were dumped. Included in the price of the flight was the cost of all food and drink. To be fair, I do have a little bit of a reputation when it comes to free drink. I have had more than one very embarrassing incident involving alcohol, but this was so early in the morning, that a glass of orange juice, or even a bottle of water would have been nice. It took six attempts to actually get a drink from the hostesses. I kept calling them, they kept saying 'OK sir', I kept waiting politely for 10 mins, before calling them again, until eventually a drink arrived. The food was a traditional Bavarian dish of veal & noodles in a cheese sauce. You had to close your eyes and imagine a cold pasta salad in order to convince yourself that what you were eating was intended to be cold and congealed. The reason it was cold was the fact that we were once again left till the very last. I am unsure as to wheth
er or not we would have received anything unless the gentleman in front hadn't have queried the lack of food. By this time, most of us were getting a little cheesed off , and murmurings were starting to emanate from the small Britannic enclave at the back of the plane. The final straw for the first leg of the journey was when we were totally omitted from the distribution of the smelly face towels at the end of the flight. At Frankfurt airport - which was being thoroughly modernised (and resembled a bombsite), we were again separated, and herded into a small room where we were called one at a time like schoolchildren into an office where we were given a pass that allowed us to move to another terminal. We had to wait 3 hours for the connection, stood at the departure gate, as all the seats had already been taken. The next stage passed totally without incident. The cabin crew were friendly, courteous, and helpful. It wasn’t till we landed in Zurich that we realised we were on a connecting flight contracted out from Swissair. The final leg of the journey went much the same as the first. We were pushed to the back of the plane, only this time our companions were not only British, but Egyptian, and also many other nationalities travelling on from Cairo further East. Again we were ignored, but we were not nearly as badly treated as the other nationalities on board. We were getting used to the lack of courtesy by this time. The in-flight meal was ridiculous. We laughed at the time, but it must have been awful for all the Muslim passengers. The dish looked like pork, and even tasted like pork, and it wasn’t until you scraped the plate clean that a label became apparent, informing you that the food was actually reformed ‘something’ (we thought that it might have been the German equivalent of Quorn) that was Halal. We had a fantastic holiday in Egypt, but we were lucky we had a friend over there who
knew the airport systems. If he had not rung the airport, confirmed our flight, and argued in Arabic with their clerks, then apparently we could have had over 24 hours to wait at the airport before our return. The return journey - not much different really. The crew proved that their colleagues behaviour was not a one-off. This time, we only stopped at Zurich for refuelling, and were told to remain in our seats. The only people allowed to leave were the people changing planes. When there was only about 20 of us left, 2 stewards came down the aisle, spraying everything with an aerosol. I am allergic to aerosol sprays, and when they covered me with the spray, I had probably the worst allergy attack of my life. I went into spasms, and stopped breathing for much longer than is normally healthy for a person. I quickly got over it, which is how I usually suffer, and was disgusted that the stewards offered neither assistance nor apology. Even more annoying, was that after about 3/4 hour, other passengers started boarding the plane, many of whom I recognised from the first leg. Half of these passengers were carrying shopping bags with ‘Zurich International Airport’ written on the side. This left me very puzzled as to why we were retained on the plane in the first place. The first thing we did on our return was lodge a complaint, but in our reply from Lufthansa, there was a succession of denials and accusations of exaggeration. At this point we just left it alone and just put it down as a bad experience. It was a major surprise to me how antagonistic the staff at Lufthansa were towards the British. I thought that this sort of xenophobic behaviour was actually exclusive to the British. I know that there is an old historical rivalry, and that the football mentality seems to generate an international discord between us, but in my dealings with the German public, both through business and socially when on holiday, has led to me dis
believing the prejudiced views which are commonly held in this country.
I have been on Dooyoo for about 4 months now. I have written well over 60 opinions and earned myself a nice little sum of money. So why do I believe I am doing something wrong ? I don’t honestly know. I have read many, many opinions in this category and they seem to give the same advice: 1) Make your title interesting. This really goes without saying, as an uninspiring title will not draw you into the op. Some suggest an air of mystery, and others advocate blatant sexual innuendo, but if you can grab a reader’s attention you are on your way. 2) Make it Informative. Unfortunately there are many users who don’t follow this principle, knowing full well that once you’ve clicked the op, then they get paid. Well hopefully the new Dooyoo policy might put and end to churners. If you don’t know enough to compose a thorough opinion, then don’t compose it. 3) Check your spelling. Most systems have some form of Word-based spellcheck system, so there is no excuse for slack spelling. A different matter is poor grammar. Read the ops before posting them - aloud to yourself if possible (although I would feel a right prat in my office!) 4) Be honest and open. If you are a compassionate person, then that will come out. People will believe you and trust you. If you are blessed with a wit then use it, as humour is one of the most popular writing styles around. 5) Be Original. Easier said than done. Sometimes new categories can take a long time to be posted after a suggestion, after which point your inspiration can have waned.Also, I could not count the number of times I thought of a subject to cover, then found at least a dozen others had beaten me to it. 6) Read and Rate. This is the best way to make people aware of your existence, and adding comments to your ratings will increase your profile further - however your comments should be relevant, as
8216;Good Op’ proves that you are only trying to be noticed. 7) Choose your subject matter. Some subjects are more popular than others. Will somebody want to read about the jar of jam you bought at a Coffee Morning, or will they switch to the earlier opinion by the bloke who nearly fell out of a plane due to the faulty emergency door. I still haven’t worked it out... If you take all that on board, then all your opinions will be extensively read, by hundreds of happy Dooyooers, and you’ll soon be off to town clutching a wad of spending money, satisfied in the knowledge that you have helped the community develop and grow. WRONG! What am I doing wrong? I ask the question again as I am certainly doing something wrong. 1) The title. I know mine aren’t the best - but they certainly aren’t the worst. I have had opinions where the title was the only thing commented on, yet it managed to get 9 reads! I have written a few Top 10 opinions, and although some of my titles are very cheesy, I have averaged half as many reads as those entitled ‘My Top 10’ 2) My early opinions were certainly guilty of being a little short, and lacking in detail, but in recent times I haven’t posted an opinion which I haven’t considered decent and complete. Nobody knows the contents before they read, so it saddens me to see some of the 80 word film ‘reviews’ getting 50 reads. 3) Spelling. I know spell-checkers can miss the odd context mistake, but really - there is no excuse for some of the appalling spelling errors on display. I would not be upset if anyone pointed out my mistakes, as I would then be able to correct them. 4) I must admit, 2 of my most read ops were about me being very, very open. I have regretted the one about a rather personal operation ever since I posted it, as it has been copied, and distributed around our office! You are technic
ally anonymous on Dooyoo, so frankness is easy. I always try and inject a little humour, as I take very little in life seriously, but I admit that sometimes things can come across as a flat, desperate attempt to raise a laugh. 5) I have been as unoriginal as the next man. I have written ops on brand new subjects, and I have written ops on subjects that have been covered over 50 times. It doesn’t seem to make a difference. 6) Reading / Rating / Commenting. I read, I rate, I comment. I have tried reading subjects that don’t interest me in order to raise my profile, but that is simply hypocritical. I comment when I have a relevant point to make, and to be honest, I rate everything I read, and sometimes far too generously. The only reciprocation I seem to get is if I find someone else’s ops good enough for me to put them in my circle of friends. 7) Subject matter. I am guilty here. I have written about some boring subjects. I have also very cynically written ops on subjects that I was sure would bring in the reads. Foxhunting anyone (3 reads), How about Hotmail, that is always a popular one (7 reads). Tiny computers netted me 3 reads, and a really controversial Capital punishment op earned me 8 reads. In comparison, my most successful op (which earned a crown, yet is by no means my best) is a really dull moan about BT. All in all, I play by the rules and don’t seem to ever be able to get a big result. I have seen user profiles where the member has written 8 opinions and each one has averaged over 50 reads, yet they have read NO other opinions. Their ops weren’t spectacularly inspiring either. Other people seem to have written ops on really obscure subjects, with really poor titles, yet can get 40+ reads every time. Only one of my 65 ops has beaten 40 reads, and only a further 2 have hit 30. I have nearly 20 yet to break into double figures. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here,
and don’t do it just for the money (I’ve even written one on that - shows how sad I am!). I enjoy writing, I love receiving ratings and comments. I have learnt a lot from other opinions and have made many purchases based on knowledge gleaned from them. I just can’t help feeling that there are far greater rewards available for all the time and effort I put in. Crowns seem inconsistently awarded, ratings can be quite strangely given, and the quality of your review bears no relationship whatsoever to the number of reads it receives. If it is something I could do, or am already doing wrong, then please let me know. I go through very barren patches where I write little, and read rarely. These tend to be caused by frustration at so much hard work and so little response. Others I know have left the site for similar reasons, but I want to stay...
This is the final part of my trilogy of top 10 movie opinions (or rather, me chickening out, and stating that I have 30 favourite movies). Last weeks ops, on Horror, and Sci-Fi, were far easier to select, as the category structure is so well defined. This is my 'Action' movie top 10, and before I start, I feel I need to clarify my definition of a good action movie (this is only a personal definition - it just means the films that fit the bill for me) Obviously, the movie has to be action packed, the more the better. There has to be some form of plot, but we are not talking Oscar winning screenplays, just a coherent story that holds it all together, and provides a bit of grip to the tale. No pointless sex scenes. In recent times, movies have tended to abandon the meaningless, and often rather embarrassing sex scenes that interrupt the action, and force a complete change to the tempo of the film. I agree that often there is a need for the audience to be aware that the leading couple have formed a bond, and will be prepared to die for one another, but this can be achieved by much more subtle means, rather than lazy direction. I have many times seen films at the cinema which have been ruined by friends whispering to me 'That would never have happened...', 'He's just fired 20 shots without reloading...', or 'That car would be undriveable after a landing like that...' Part of my cinema experience is down to suspension of belief, and if you want true life, watch the news. If you have to see an actor reload to be able to believe it, rather than assuming it was done in the split second whilst he was off camera, then you can only expect a reduced level of enjoyment. Finally, no Van Damme. How many times can an actor rely on three staples of performance - 1) the lame excuse for his accent; 2) A gratuitous butt in the moon light scene & 3) Yes, well done JC, you can do the splits, we were
all impressed when you did it in Blood Sport, now stop it. He had two semi- decent efforts with Timecop, and Hard Target, but the man just makes me cringe. Anyway, this was supposed to be a top 10 list, so here goes... My top 10 action movies, in no particular order. Hard Boiled. This was the last movie made in Hong Kong by the acclaimed action director John Woo. In recent years, his few attempts to excel in Hollywood have had mixed results. Hard Target was a very old story, about rich people hunting the homeless for sport, and although competently made, was spoilt by the inclusion of Van Damme. Broken Arrow was an excellent film, but was capped by Face/Off (see later). Ignoring the rather embarrassing 'Blackjack' (with Dolph Lundgren), his latest effort - MI2 cemented his success as the worlds best. This movie eclipses all the above. The blistering pace, and grittiness of the whole movie, interspersed with some of the most complex gunplay ever to grace the screen make this one of the most exciting movies ever filmed. None of the stuntwork seems complicated, yet involves the actors so closely, you wonder how they survived the film. It is very easy to ignore either the dubbing or the subtitles, and just become engrossed. Chow-Yun Fat, who stars, won the award in America as the 'coolest man in the world' for 3 years running on the back of this film. I could have included The Killer, A Better Tomorrow I & II, or Just Heroes, all of which are HK films with the same director/lead actor, but that would have been obsessive. Total Film reviewed this with the tag-line 'More exciting than a dozen Die Hards' which sums it up perfectly. Die Hard. After mentioning that the above film was 12 times better than this - I am about to contradict myself immediately. This was a true genre defining movie. One man against the world etc. etc. For years, every action film
made was dubbed 'Die Hard on a... ' whether it was a ship, train, scooter or whatever. Every film maker seemed to want to produce a similar version, with a similar amount of thrills. The trouble is, the only imitation that people could do successfully was hire a British actor to play the bad guy. Alan Rickman made such a marvellous role out of the terrorist leader (coupled with the scene stealer from Robin Hood) that his Hollywood future was guaranteed - along with just about every other unemployed - sorry, resting - RSC actor. When I first saw this at the cinema, it was a major surprise. Bruce Willis had previously only ever appeared as the annoying half in Moonlighting, and in the poor romantic comedy Blind Date (before you ask, it was with Kim Basinger and not arr Cilla). 10 minutes into the movie, when all merry hell broke loose, it was quite a shock to see Willis in the thick of it all... Terminator 2. Should I have put this into the Sci-Fi section? I suppose so, but then I would have struggled on that op, and I thought this was better classed as a superb action movie, as many of the scientific premises in the movie are pretty thinly explained, and if you followed the time travel theories used in films such as Back to the Future then the whole plot becomes a nonsense. But this is an enormous film. Where John Woo succeeds in making brilliant close up scenes of brutal gunplay, James Cameron explodes the entire set. Every scene is massive, and carried off with a real ambition. Schwarzenegger reprises his role from the original, only insisting on being the good guy, and Linda Hamilton, who was at that time married to Cameron, provided a scary vision as the completely changed Sarah Connor - this time muscle-bound and barely sane. Also of note was Edward Furlong playing the young John Connor, who appeared in almost every scene in the film, yet managed to not come across as a typical s***ty American ki
d. I believe that his rather disturbing portrayal in American History X was as a result of the faith Hollywood placed in him as a child. Although a typical Arnie film - he said he had to use the 'I'll be Back' line purely as a homage to the original - there is a higher level to it, and he does have to work a little harder than the first, in which he only had 17 lines. If you watch the director's cut - which makes far more sense - there is a scene where the android is allowed to learn. The scene is actually quite funny, and explains the shots of hidden compassion which are briefly displayed later in the film. The Last Boy Scout. Another Bruce Willis film - this time he is teamed up with Damon Wayans in an unlikely combination. Rejecting the De Niro school of method acting, Willis, who was required to put on weight and appear as a slob for most of the movie, simply went out on the p*ss - non stop - for a month. The film is filled with great scenes, some brilliant dialogue, and some of the best macho one-liners ever uttered. This is one of Tony Scotts lesser known films. He has always consistently delivered, and although his earlier work, such as Top Gun or Beverly Hills Cop II were certainly more style than substance, his later efforts were far more enduring. True Romance was a classic, yet a bizarre collection of styles, and Crimson Tide will almost certainly be in a top 10 thrillers that I will probably never write. (* A-ha!) For all the voyeurs out there who have recently been titillated by Ms Halle Berry disrobing in Swordfish, this features her as Wayans 'exotic dancer' girlfriend. Enough said. Desperado. This is a total and utter John Woo rip off, but it is executed with a great deal of style. Antonio Banderas blasts his way through the slums of Mexico in this Robert Rodriguez directed sequel to El Mariachi. Every scene is a choreograp
hed 'ballet of bullets' (believe me - that isn't my quote!) with every actor leaping around with guns in each hand - regularly in an effective slo-mo. There are some brilliant set piece moments, especially the finale, with Banderas and his 2 mariachi chums, all armed with guitar cases stuffed with ammo, blowing 7 shades of s**t out of the entire town. A minor let down was the inclusion of a totally pointless sex scene with Salma Hayek, who was only included in the film as gloss, and her role underdeveloped and wasted. There were other great roles in the movie. Steve Buscemi was again outstanding and his role as the confessional priest hilarious - 'No f*****g s**t you've sinned'. Quentin Tarantino (Rodriguez's mate) turns up to tell a joke, which Cheech Marin brilliantly takes completely the wrong way. There is no story worth talking about, but the action never lets up. Sit back, switch off and enjoy. True Lies. Another Schwarzenegger / Cameron collaboration, this time with a remake of a French movie (thankfully involving neither 3 men nor a baby). It was released at the same time as Pierce Brosnan was being launched as the new James Bond, and unfortunately for the British spy bettered it on every count. The action scenes again followed Cameron’s trademark - i.e. on a massive scale, the stunts looked amazing, and everything on screen was both spectacular and original. I have a friend who is proud to have ridden in the same elevator that Arnie rode is horse, and where have you ever seen the final shoot out in a movie carried out on the back of a Harrier jump jet. Again, the movie was filled with familiar faces. Jamie Lee Curtis was doing great till she performs the most un-erotic strip you can imagine, and Art Malik showed us that it wasn't just Charles Dance that made his name in Jewel in the Crown. Tom Arnold appeared as himself, and Tia Carrer
a (Waynes World) as the scheming villainess. Charlton Heston has a great 10 second cameo, and I didn't realise till I watched this again at the weekend (homework!!) that the young girl who played Arnies daughter was recently appearing in Buffy, as Faith the rogue slayer. Lethal Weapon. Made whilst Mel Gibson still looked young enough to carry off the action hero hole, this is in fact a very formulaic buddy/buddy movie. The whole film was supposed to revolve around the growing partnership between Gibson, the maverick cop on the verge of suicide, and Danny Glover, the family man on the verge of retirement. The film actually looks dated by today's standards, and recent airings on terrestrial TV (which are still being butchered by the censors, even though most of the content could now be considered tame), show some of the more embarrassing fashions of the 80's. Some of the styles were very Miami Vice, and Mel Gibsons haircut was the model for all the footballers of the day - even though he still insisted in sporting it for all the sequels. Thank God they spared us Joe Pesci till the second instalment. But considering I have slagged it off in the previous paragraphs, it is still a cracking film. The budget is obvious, and some of the scenes are staged brilliantly. Gibson carries it off as a man on the edge, and you can see the genuine affection the two leads have for each other. The storyline, although heavily built on at the beginning soon gets lost, and leaves you relying on the action to carry you along. The humour is plentiful, if at times painful, but again it carries through effectively and prevents you from taking the romp too seriously. Again, this is another mindless action flick, a rollercoaster ride meant for enjoyment rather than analysis. Highlander. This is another film that hasn't aged too well. The special effects look a little ropey by today's standards, although at t
he time they were magnificent. The cinematography was considered ground-breaking at the time, with seamless links between scenes adding to the atmosphere. The film contains some of the most bizarre casting ever - Christopher Lambert (French) as Conor McLeod, the titular Highlander, Sean Connery (Scottish) as Ramirez, the Egyptian Spaniard Clancy Brown (American) the Kurgan, who was I think of Eastern European extraction (please feel free to correct me if I am mistaken) The sword play is brilliantly executed, and some of the scenes where the surroundings explode after a beheading are very effective indeed. The soundtrack cannot be ignored; penned and performed entirely by Queen, it is grandiose, operatic, and camp simultaneously, but entirely suited to the movie. Most songs are titled from famous lines in the movie - 'It's a Kind of Magic' and 'Who Wants to Live Forever?' - are the most well known. The film makes extensive use of flashback, and at times is flicking backwards and forwards through hundreds of years at a time. Some scenes are for story development, and others for humour, but all are played with a panache and enthusiasm which involves you in what is in fact an utterly ridiculous story. Ridiculous story yes, yet another film that succeeds in the fact that it is simple old-fashioned entertainment. Face/Off. Oh dear, I'm back on John Woo. Most action directors have tried to copy him at some point, and with Face/Off, the plagiarism comes full circle. Woo actually manages to rip himself off, stealing ideas from his earlier Hong Kong efforts, and re-hashing them with a full Hollywood budget. The film is an actors dream. The two main leads - John Travolta, and Nicholas Cage - ham it up to the limits of their abilities, as they are given the opportunity, through a bizarre face swap operation, to play both the good guy, and the bad guy in the same fi
lm. Despite their very obvious physical differences, they manage to make the effect of role reversal believable, and the 2 acting styles contrast well. Travolta as the good guy is all moodiness, and is as camp as hell when evil (but as always, Travolta smokes like a big girl's blouse), whereas Cage is angst ridden as good, and an absolute lunatic as evil. The action sets off at a blistering pace, and never lets up. There is a huge scale opening set piece at the airport, and where most directors would save blowing the plane up till near the end, Woo waits less than 5 minutes. The middle contains a strangely filmed police shoot-out, which is more of a massacre, shown through the eyes of a young child listening to 'Over the Rainbow'. This is chillingly effective, and shows the extremity of the violence even more. The finale, which is basically a 10 minute duel between the two leads, is impressively staged, and leaves you wondering how the stuntmen accomplished some of the craziness. At the time, critics were blown away by this, and many called this the greatest action film ever made. I wouldn't quite go so far, but it is most certainly up there. Blade. I didn't know where to put this at all. It's a vampire movie, yet it certainly isn't a horror. It is as much a science fiction as any that I put in my Sci-Fi op, yet in the end, I have plumped for Action, because that is what this film is. Wesley Snipes is such a versatile actor. He is equally at home kicking the crap out of someone as he is performing high drama. His early films with Spike Lee proved his talent, and many, including myself, were surprised at his prowess in the otherwise awful Passenger 57. Snipes plays Blade, a half-vampire, with the ability to witness daylight, yet with a crippling bloodlust, on a mission to destroy the vampires who created him. Stephen Dorff plays Deacon Frost the leader of the unde
ad gang desperate to wipe him out, and I was surprised to see Traci Lords playing his sidekick, who I remembered from my youth from er.... specialist movies. There is very little in the way of explosive action or car chases etc. All the action revolves around swordplay, as good as in the best swashbucklers, gunplay to rival John Woo, and immaculately staged martial arts. The special effects which are liberally used at the point of death are impressive. The movie is incredibly stylishly filmed, with a thumping modern soundtrack, so will probably seem really dated in just a few years, but if you take it on face value, as a nonsense, very violent, action film, then you cant go far wrong. That was my 10, and it would have been easy to stretch it to 20. Notable exceptions were: The Long Kiss Goodnight - Geena Davis and Samuel Jackson in another nonsense Woo clone. Cliffhanger - Stallone does 'Diehard on a Mountain' Where Eagles Dare - Richard Burton an Clint Eastwood in classic Boys Own stuff Rambo. First Blood II - Ridiculous but enjoyable I have watched all the above films probably as many as 10 times each, and I still find myself enjoying them immensely. None would ever win an Oscar, but they were made to entertain rather than stimulate. Thanks for reading. (* re:above A-ha!) I rejected many films because half way through I had the brainwave of doing a top 10 thrillers op...
I decided to split my top 10 film choices into the 3 categories of Horror, Sci-Fi, and Action due to the impossibility of narrowing it down to only the ten. I completed the horror list yesterday, mainly due to the ease of selection, and the next easiest is the Science-Fiction. As I have mentioned previously, all my selections are based on entertainment alone, and not on some aesthetically based critique formed from 'quality acting' or worthiness. In no particular order, these are my Top10 Sci-Fi films. Robocop. The only reason this is at the top of the pile is that, after looking down the list, I have included 2 other films by the same director - Paul Verhoeven. He achieved notoriety in the early 90's by filming Basic Instinct, featuring sex, violence, more sex, and the famous leg-crossing scene. Robocop was one of his early Hollywood efforts (after Flesh and Blood, a medieval swords and sex romp, with Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh) and actually contained no sex whatsoever. The film revolves around a steadfast, resolute Detroit policeman, critically injured whilst on duty, and whose shattered body is implanted into a mechanised titanium armour shell. His memory is erased, he is armed, and sent out onto the street to clean up, but remains haunted by fragments of his memory. So far, the story could be one of many lifted from DC comics, but the action is so darkly violent that no further similarities remain. The plot is interspersed with news articles and adverts, most of which are ridiculous, but provide comic relief for the brooding menace ever present in the background. Particularly of note was Kurtwood Smith, who has never broken out of the B-list category, sneering his way through the role of Clarence Boddicker. The film was slated for being almost cartoon-like in execution, but this was always juxtaposed with the extreme violence providing an effective and sobering compromise. The vision of
the near future was bleak and Orwellian, with industrial corporations in control rather than elected government, a theme very common in Hollywood - do they know something we don't? I won a copy of this film way back in 1987, days before its cinema release. I was 18 years old, a skint student, and I went out and bought a VCR for £350 (they were bloody expensive back then!) just so I could watch it. Blade Runner. Every modern science-fiction movie, and even every computer game set in the future tries its damnedest to look like Blade Runner. Ridley Scott is famed for his visuals, and this is certainly no exception. We are treated to a sumptuous vision of enormous electrical excess, with bright lit neon everywhere yet still unable to pierce the dingy depths of the streets. The plot is very reminiscent of classic Hollywood film-noirs, and the original cut of the film had Harrison Ford mumbling plot guides to the audience in a Bogart-esque manner. The supporting cast, who were all unknowns at the time went on to much greater things - Rutger Hauer, Darryl Hannah and Brion James have made hundreds have films between them - but whatever happened to Sean Young? My only criticisms could be that the film takes itself too seriously. It is a work of art, rather than a piece of celluloid entertainment, and in that manner does not fulfil in the 'I'm too p****d to go to bed - I'll just watch a movie for a bit' category. Aliens. This film is famously credited with being one of only three films which, as sequels, are as good, if not better, than the original. (Terminator2, and Godfather 2 being the others, although I would also give credit to Back to the Future, Predator, The Evil Dead, Desperado, and A Better Tomorrow) Once again Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, to battle the Alien threat. The first film was more like a slasher movie in space, whereas this incarnation more than resembl
ed a war movie - in fact the tag-line was 'This Time, It's War...'. The film contains great performances from all, which complement the action sequences, but undoubtedly, the main star was the special effects. Stan Winston, and the Industrial Light and Magic team have been blamed for making many modern films shallow, by overshadowing the plot and acting with spectacular effects, but the integration into Aliens was so seamless that once engrossed into the movie it was difficult to not accept the whole scenario as real. I mentioned in an earlier op about seeing this film at the cinema. It was one of those rare cinema moments when the entire audience was so into the film that they applauded and cheered when Ripley appeared at the finale snarling 'Get away from her you bitch....' Total Recall. Whereas Blade Runner was inspired by Philip K. Dicks story 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' this film was inspired by his 'We Can Remember it For You, Wholesale'. This is Paul Verhoeven's second film in my list. At the time it was made, it was the most expensive film ever, at over $100 million, and it shows. Some of the effects are a little dated by today's standards, but with massive sets to build and destroy, and Schwarzeneggers salary to cover, it is easy to see where the money went. Arnie plays a confused construction worker, married to Sharon Stone - who keeps her clothes on for the entire film (unless you watch the 'special' edition!), plagued by memories of a life on Mars. The plot twists and turns through his discovery of his memory erased background, revealing his double life as an evil government agent, and rebel guerrilla. The film is a spectacular affair, and at times, in true Verhoeven style, incredibly gruesome. Where else could you expect to see a bad guy despatched by having a bar shoved through his head, an axe through his chest, arms severed at the shoulder, or eyeball
s exploding. This is a totally over the top film, but utterly enjoyable. Demolition Man. The film initially surprises, in the fact that the vision of the future is a clean, sanitised, utopian paradise. Violence is unheard of, swearing is outlawed, and sex has been banished to the test tube. This paradise is broken when Wesley Snipes, a violent sociopath from the 20th century, escapes his cryogenic prison and wreaks havoc. No one is equipped to combat him, so Sylvester Stallone, the Demolition Man of the title is defrosted from his frozen tomb to arrest him. We soon realise that this utopian existence is a facade hiding the poverty and squalor tucked away from sight under the city. The leader of these undercity dwellers is played with gusto by aggressive comic Denis Leary, who revels in virtually repeating his diatribe from his 'No Cure For Cancer' tour. Also appearing in a rather bizarre role is Sir Nigel Hawthorne, as the unethical leader of the upper society. There is a lot of humour interspersed between grand action set-pieces, with Stallone indulging in a return shot of Arnie-baiting. Sandra Bullock provides the eye-candy and little else in an early role, but Snipes steals every scene with his maniacal over-acting and bravado. Star Wars. No list like this could ever be complete without including this film. I really don't think there is any need to go into any depths about the film, or its sequels and prequels, unless you have been living on a desert island for the past 24 years. Basically a classic Western set in space, on a huge scale, this film almost single handedly saved Hollywood. After a decade of increasingly naff disaster movies, it took this, a plastic shark, and a tragic Love Story to get peoples backsides back on the cinema seats. Armageddon. Bruce Willis proved to the world that he was getting older by allowing himself to be portrayed as the
father figure rather than the love interest. This was released at the same time as Deep Impact, and covered the same story, i.e. an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and can only be stopped by a team of astronauts. This film succeeded by being action packed, filled with gentle humour, and carrying through a compassion which led you to actually care about the outcome. Deep Impact failed by having little action, no humour, and wooden, one-dimensional characterisation which left you with little or no inspiration. This is the seventh down on the list, and is also the seventh film that can only be watched if you accept the concept of science-FICTION. All these films can be criticised as being just plain daft, but if you switch off your scepticism, and allow yourself to enjoy the ride, this is one of the most enjoyable and thrilling films ever made. The Fifth Element. Luc Besson switched from making films about assassins to film this epic, self penned story. Again starring Bruce Willis, and a then unknown Milla Jovovich as the 'supreme being'. The film is a superb blend of action, humour and romance, blended together in an unusual directorial style, where each theme runs simultaneously rather than in a set piece of its own. The special effects are astounding, making the futuristic city look absolutely enormous. The costume design, specially commissioned to Jean-Paul Gaultier resulted in some strange, and often quite revealing outfits, which still managed to keep their grip on reality. Highlights were the airline uniforms, Jovovich's bandage outfit, and the fact he still managed to have Willis running around in a mucky vest, albeit a designer one. The cast did an exemplary job. Willis was his usual high standard, and Gary Oldman was fantastically camp as the villain of the piece, proving the trust he held in Besson after an excellent role in Leon. Jovovich made the bizarre alien language seem li
ke her natural tongue, and there were some brilliant contributions from the always underrated Ian Holm, Lee Evans, Chris Tucker, and in a very strange role, Tricky. The plot fires along at a cracking rate, and with unusual direction never seems to last the 2 hours plus that it does. Over 5 mins were cut from the British release, and I have yet to find out what or why they were, or where to get a copy (in English) that contains them. Starship Troopers. This, the third of my Paul Verhoeven choices, was a welcome return by him to the Sci-Fi genre. After a dalliance with soft porn in the disastrous Showgirls, he returned to field where he has always displayed an aptitude. This story follows the induction, training, and initiation into battle of a group of raw recruits. The film is exceptionally graphic and portrays a horrific view of what a futuristic war could be like. All the actors were virtual unknowns, apart from Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown in small roles. this added to the tension, as at no point were you ever sure who was going to make it. Once again, the effects team transformed the movie. When faced with a few foes, you can appreciate the tension, but when faced with thousand upon a thousand biting ,spitting insects each the size of a house, stretching as far as the eye can see, the terror faced by the small squadron is palpable. The film shocks and impresses in equal doses, yet managed to maintain a firm hold right to the very end. Gripping stuff. The Matrix. Who hasn't seen this? One of the most visually impressive films ever made, mainly due to the modern photographic technique that involves sequences of still shots to be taken virtually simultaneously, and run in the film as if in real time. This enables the appearance of time stopping, and the camera flying around the paused action. they referred to this as 'Bullet time' although quite what the makers of the G
ap commercials think about that, I do not know. It was an intriguing story, if not particularly well executed, of a computer system that runs our lives, making us believe that our existence is normal, rather than plugged into an enormous mainframe to provide the computer with energy. The action scenes are directed with a flair and innovation that is destined to be copied for years. Much of the inspiration was taken from John Woo, the recognised master of action direction, who himself is now struggling to make original movies due to the extent of his work being copied. Let us hope, that with the Matrix II due for release in a few months, that they can maintain their originality, and continue to be innovative. My next project is to do my top 10 action films, and in writing this one, I was surprised to find that most of them could easily be included in that category. I found that I was leaving out some of the more 'worthy' titles such as 2001, or Dune, but these I found less entertaining, and not the sort of film I would go back to view again and again. To say that I have listed only 10 films, yet in total I have viewed them all over a hundred times proves the impact that they have all had on my life. If you have missed any of them, I can only recommend that you give them a go. Thanks for reading...
Where do you start? A couple of months ago, I wrote a series of opinions on Top 10s. I covered books, games, songs and films. By far the hardest was the films. I have been a film enthusiast all my life (rather than a 'buff' - I actually watch films to enjoy them rather than analyse them) and to pick 10 films that cover all categories is nigh on impossible. I decided to split my choices down, and do ops on my three top categories - Action / Sci-Fi / Horror. This is my top 10 horror films, done first as my choices are clear-cut. In no particular order... Day of the Dead. George A Romero, the undisputed international zombie maestro, finally reached the end of his walking dead trilogy way back in 1985. At this time, as a spotty 16 year old, Saturday nights invariably resulted in hanging round at a mates house with a couple of 4 packs of Mayfield Bitter (24p a can - and tasting like it) and a video watching session. These always involved an action movie (The Warriors, The Terminator, and Mad Max were pretty much the standard fare), a rather dodgy movie off the top shelf which nobody really wanted to watch but didn't dare to be the first to suggest so, and a horror movie. The problem with horror movies in the eighties was their attempts to be funny. If they were genuinely funny then fair enough, but toilet humour and bad acting combined with unrealistic effects can make for a very bad movie indeed. Day of the Dead contains little humour. The deadpan script is wittily plotted and acted with an enthusiasm way above par for a 'splatter' movie. There is actual character development, and you even at one point feel an affinity for the poor zombies and their plight. The effects are astoundingly sickening, and rarely resort to comic overuse. The final death scene where the commandant is literally torn apart apparently features genuine screams as he is struggling to breath due to the stench of the r
otting pigs intestines which were pouring out of the bags attached to his belly. I was tempted to include Dawn of the Dead, which is of a similar calibre, but has less shock value, but came down on the side of its sequel, and its shocking finale. Brain Dead. Years and years ago, New Zealand director Peter Jackson liked to shock. One of first efforts - Bad Taste is a true video nasty, with exploding heads and puke eating. His follow up, i.e. Brain Dead is of similar fare, only with a budget. The story follows the infestation of unsuspecting people with a virus from the Sumatran rat monkey. This encourages frankly bizarre behaviour involving violence, subnormal eating patterns, and sexual depravity. The film is famous for classic scenes such as: Mutant baby in frying pan tennis (you have to see it) Copulating Vicar/nurse who were killed 20 minutes earlier and impaled together. Extermination using a hover mower (The hero uses his lawn mower and a food processor to eradicate his little problem. Apparently over a thousand gallons of fake blood were used - hence my title) How can you dislike a film with lines like - 'You're mother ate my dog......yeah, but not all of it', and 'I am Father McGruder, and I kick arse for the Lord' There are no Oscars to be won for acting or scriptwriting, but the film is actually intentionally hilarious. Those of you who have seen it will know why I will never eat custard again. We can only hope that his next project is as extreme.....Oh bugger - its 'The Lord of the Rings' ! Pet Semetary Like most Stephen king adaptations, this isn't very strong. I have included it for one reason and one reason alone. Ever since I watched it years ago, one particular scene has stuck with me. Its imagery returns to my mind time and time again and has me wincing in anticipated agony. Whilst writing this I am squirming at the thought. Basically, a d
octor, played by Fred Gwynne (of Herman Munster fame) is crawling under a bed to search for a young child. The kid is actually behind him, and reaches into the doctor's bag and removes a scalpel. The camera switches to a view of the doctor's exposed Achilles tendon. What follows is graphically portrayed.... For a scene to affect me like that, even after 10 years or so, must be effective. It achieved what every horror film tries, and usually fails to do. Society. I was initially very wary of this film, mainly due to its casting. It starred Billy Warlock, who was currently starring in Baywatch as the first of a string of young male actors brought in to show off their bodies once David Hasselhoff got too old to take off his clothes. The story revolves around a kid who lives amongst the rich and privileged, and suspects that they are all something different. The whole film is a metaphor for the rich leeching off the under-privileged in America, and catches you quite by surprise when the subtle digs at society suddenly become very literal and quite gruesomely graphic. The effects were designed by ‘Screaming Mad George’ - who is famous for outlandish far out creations, and this is no exception. The finale - an orgy scene involves the whole party melding into one another, and sharing their limbs and organs. The ‘Shunt’, where an unwilling victim gets literally turned inside out is grossly spectacular. The Omen It used to signify Old Spice, but since this film’s release, the music is now synonymous with the personification of evil. This was an almost word for word adaptation of the book of the same name, and was equally chilling. The Biblical references are made to seem entirely relevant, and add an almost believable element to the proceedings. The air of menace is maintained throughout, and you are kept perched on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next plot development t
o unfold, and the next murderous twist to occur. The actors are top notch, with Gregory Peck forsaking his desire to play only ‘bad guys’ in the twilight of his career, and David Warner once again laying in with a heavyweight character portrayal (he even managed to star in the first ever believable screen decapitation!) The film is scarily insightful, and spawned 2 high quality sequels charting the adolescence and adulthood of Damien the Antichrist. (Forget any further sequels - they are all derivative trash). This is an intelligent thriller, which nearly beat the Exorcist to the crown of ‘Horror film of the decade’. Scanners. David Cronenberg released many low budget movies in the late 70s / early 80s to much critical acclaim, but little commercial success. This was one exception, and unfortunately all the hype revolved around one infamous scene. This was an early outing for Michael Ironside - and he effective sneers in his Nicholson-esque manner all the way through the film. The scene mentioned earlier involves Ironside causing the exploding head in the lecture theatre which was amazingly convincing considering the calibre of special effects available at the time. Apart form the head scene, the film had a clever plot, and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and was full of the paranoia that was evident in so many films of the era. It is a film that has aged very little (apart from the size of the collars and ties) and it is a shame that it is rarely remembered for more than the head scene alone. The Fly. This is the second Cronenburg film I have included, yet strangely these are probably the only two I have really enjoyed. Most of his work is a little strange, and somewhat contrived (did anyone understand either Dead Ringers or ExistenZ?) Jeff Goldblum is perfectly cast as the eccentric scientist who perfects teleportation and mutates himself through self experim
entation gone wrong. His normal appearance as a bug eyed, slightly mad individual must have made him Cronenburg’s only choice for the role. Geena Davis also stars in an early role, bringing a sophistication to the role which could have approached ridiculousness (love affair with 6ft fly????). She also gets to utter one of the most quoted lines out of any horror film ever - ‘Be afraid...be very afraid.’ The film is quite shocking, but never scary. The gruesome scenes at the end are played with almost a degree of tenderness for the mutated fly/man/machine hybrid. It is played as a lesson in what can go wrong when modern science is left unchecked to meddle in matters beyond our comprehension. We never learn... Evil Dead II. This is virtually a rehash of the original Sam Raimi shocker, but with better effects, a funnier script, and a sanitised version of the originals forest rape scene. Bruce Campbell overacts to the fullest of his abilities, causing mayhem with his sawn-off shotgun, and wrist mounted chainsaw. With chants like ‘Groovy!’ accompanying demon despatching (I can’t work out whether this was extremely naff or incredibly cool) he works his way through all manner of demonic incarnations all assuring him he will be ‘Dead by Dawn’. Some of the crazier scenes include Campbell beating himself up with his own possessed hand, which he promptly severs and chases around the house (finally trapping it in a bucket weighted with a copy of Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ - very droll) At the time, the BBFC tried to ban it due to an eyeball being fired across a room and into a screaming woman’s mouth, but scenes like that are tame today, and all add to the camp nostalgia of the movie. The effects still look to be made of plasticine and rubber, but the movie wins you over - you end up ignoring the cheesiness and enjoying the movie. Final Destination Blimey - a modern film! I remembered seeing the trailers or this where they were pretending to show genuine audience reactions, and then showed some of the worst acting ever. The trailer really put me off actually seeing the film, until my wife hired it from the local store. This is in fact a very well crafted suspense movie rather than a horror. It only counts as a horror due to some of the more gruesome death sequences. The long and protracted kitchen death scene, where the character dies via just about every object in the room is simultaneously scary, fascinating, and hilarious. For a modern ‘teen’ film (I unfortunately stopped having any affinity with my teenage past a while ago - which pleased my wife immensely) I found myself drawn to the characters, and becoming involved in the film. The script is tight, and well acted, and the ending is one of the most abrupt and effective I have seen. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Just look what this film started. Wes Craven’s finest moment featured the hideously burnt, razor fingered Freddy Krueger as the villain. Originally, the Elm street idea was that Krueger could enter the dreams of people when they slept, thus killing them in real life. Krueger was a scary, nasty piece of work, who had deserved his current place after he had been burnt to death by the local parents for molesting their children. Why the sequels thought they could glamorise the character, and actually make him the hero of the piece, and his victims just plot incidentals I do not know. For 15 years, the razor glove was the most popular Halloween toy in America (only replaced by an Evander Holyfield mask complete with half bitten ear!). These things have tarnished the reputation of what was one of the scariest films around. It did not just rely on buckets of blood, and non-funny put down lines, but cranked up the atmosphere with the suspense, lighting and sound. Out of the 8 Elm street fi
lms made, only the ones helmed by Craven are worth watching. I have list in front of me with another 4 films which I could have included. These are for the record: The Exorcist - I left this out as, although it scared the bejesus out of me, I never could enjoy the film. Class of Nuke ‘Em High - Classic Troma entertainment, ie stupid, gross, cheap, yet strangely funny. The Re-Animator - More zombie madness, a great film, but not good enough to displace those above. Return of the Living Dead - as above From Beyond - From the makers of the Re-animator, this explores madness through stimulation of the pineal gland or ‘Third eye’. This is a truly disturbing film which leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. My title was based around the volume of blood required to film one scene in Braindead. I dread to think how much was used across the entire list above. I don’t think these are everone’s cup of tea, but if you haven’t seen the older ones, they are worth checking out. Thanks for reading.
What is the definition of a new user? This all depends on who is making the classification. I certainly don't consider myself an 'experienced' user, even though I have been coming here a few months, and have written over 60 opinions. Some of the more prolific contributors have written far more than me, read and commented on far more than me, and earned a damn sight more miles than me. I have picked up a lot since I started though, and even though sometimes I still feel out of my depth, I feel that some of my limited experience may be of use to a new member. Don't aim too high or low. I am not the best opinion writer, but there again I am not the worst. Common new advice for 'newbies' is for them to read the premier opinions to get a feel for what sort of work is required. If this advice is followed, then surely many potential writers will be discouraged. Some of the crowned opinions on Dooyoo are fantastically well written, so much so that some must have been written by professional journalists. You cannot expect to emulate this quality, especially with your early work. In my opinion, the advice to read top opinions should always be countered with the advice to read some rubbish as well. Go into a subject that interests you and read some of the Somewhat Useful, and even Not Useful opinions. Read the comments that go with them, and it gives a realistic insight in what sort of writing methods not to use, and what sort of techniques annoy other Dooyooers. Be thorough. I don't necessarily mean be thorough with your opinion content. This should be taken as read on a consumer site. Make sure that the category is appropriate for the placement of your opinion. Use the search engine to find out the categories around your chosen subject, and make sure that you have chosen the best one. It has always amazed me how many comments I see from the Dooyoo regulars berating writers for placing
an opinion in slightly the wrong place. It is quite demoralizing to have comments totally unrelated to your opinion posted when you are really looking forward to having some feedback on your work. Also, if it is not placed correctly, it may be removed by the Dooyoo police. This happened to me on a Marmite opinion which I placed in the gourmet food section. This was removed, along with all the comments and miles it had earned. (And honestly, I am not even the slightest bit bitter about it after all this time. No. Not at all.) Know your stuff. This is easy to get wrong. Would you review a book or film if you had only read half of it? The games review section is full of opinions on games which the writers have obviously only played for a short while. I myself have reviewed a couple of power tools after using them for a single weekend, and was therefore totally unqualified to comment on its durability - probably its most important feature. If you know a product or service inside out, and have something valid to say then do it - otherwise steer clear. Churning leads to Cheese Dooyoo regulars have coined the expression 'Churning' which refers to writing short, uninformative opinions back to back in order to get as much money as possible. Apart from p*ssing everyone off (no-one likes to read a review that took a minute to write, and tells them nothing) this is a really unfulfilling way of contributing. You will get a few reads for your ops, and earn 100 miles for doing it, but how long before you run out of things to write about. You don't get any positive reactions, and will not feel the sense of achievement reached when one of your opinions is really well received, and maybe even gets a crown. The 3 'R's - Writing - Reading - Rating This advice is given on every single opinion in this category. Basically, read as many opinions as you can, rate them all as fairly as possible, and if you have a val
id comment on what they have written, let them know. Don't expect everyone you rate to gratefully read one of yours, but some will, and eventually your profile might become known enough for people to end up looking out for one of your ops. I spend a lot of time reading, and see some users with literally hundreds of reads for each opinion. I feel lucky if I get above 20, and some of my opinions have still got to break the 5 reads mark, so don't be disheartened. People will read them - eventually. Crowns Crowns are given as a sign that your opinion is particularly well written. Don't expect to get one straight away, as they seem to be a bit of a lottery. I have earned one, and was over the moon about it, but in my opinion, I have written at least 15 opinions that I am happier with. I did go back to my crown and add a few things, but I left some of the poor grammar behind in order to remind myself that this wasn't a particularly well written opinion, and that it was just spotted luckily by someone who felt it worth nominating. A crown is only a bonus, so don't feel aggrieved if one is not awarded. Grovelling This isn't good advice for dooyoo users, as it does seem to work. I have seen people asking for reads of their opinions in their comments along the lines of 'Good opinion, very well written - why don't you read my op on the same subject?'. Others inform of their crown nominations in a comment. I even saw a review today of a movie entitled 'This is my first review blah blah blah.....' - It had received over 100 reads in less than a day! This sort of behaviour might earn you a few quid, but it isn't big and it isn't clever. Nobody likes somebody who profits from bending the rules, and I am sure you will enjoy your time on Dooyoo far more if you do follow the guidelines. Composition I am going to make this section very brief, as their is a whole section devoted t
o writng and improving your opinions. A few very easy pointers - Put some effort into your title; Check your spelling; Re-read your opinion for grammar; Don't leave important facts out, or cram irrelevance in. And finally..... Enjoy it There is a whole section in dooyoo covering addiction. The whole experience has got a major pull that seems to draw you in and keep you reading and writing. If you feel you can cope, then let it. I used to hate creative writing at school, yet now, it only needs the slightest provocation to get me hammering away at the keyboard. In my early days, it would only take a surly glance from a bus driver to send me into a frenzy of planning the opinion that I would compose about them. I stopped in a hotel for one night, and was prompted to write an in depth review of their service and catering. It is very easy to get carried away - just enjoy what you do. Dooyoo is probably the first legitimate use of the internet I have used. It is entertaining, informative, and very fulfilling. Don't worry about the self-appointed Dooyoo police*, who will slag you off if you step out of line. Don't worry if your opinions don't get good ratings or high reads - its not you who is being judged. Dont take any criticisms personally, as they don't know the real you, and finally, don't take it too seriously, its just a website. *31/7/1 - Apologies to the large section of the Dooyoo community who help and encourage other users with positive and constructive criticism. This 'dig' was aimed at the few sanctimonious users who feel they have some right, maybe based on time-served experience, to dismiss others' work as irrelevant or incorrect just because they personally disagree.
I don't live in a big city. I work in a small city which is not overwhelmed by homelessness, and I therefore have a lesser experience than others who have lived amongst or even been part of the homeless community. I am however aware of the very negative emotions felt by a large section of society who believe that street-begging is an excuse for laziness, and that a lack of home is only their own fault for their inability to hold down a job. Obviously there are 2 (or more) sides to the story. Everyone is aware that there are 'spongers' on the street, who have perfected the art of begging to such a degree that they can earn far in excess of any of my wildest dreams. I recently took a taxi from the airport, and on the way home, the driver pointed out the house of one of his regular fares. The house was an impressive, large 4-5 bedroom stone built detached house, in the leafy suburbs. His regular fare was collected at 9pm each Friday and Saturday, and dropped outside the city night-clubs, where she collected over £300 per night (the driver said she unashamedly counted her 'earnings' each night on the back seat, and proudly reported the total). Huddersfield, where I live, has a policy that no one should be made to be homeless, and will ensure that anyone who contacts them will be placed in a hostel the very same day, and found more stable accommodation immediately afterwards. This shows up when street beggars appear on the streets, begging for food as they have slept rough, all speaking in accents unfamiliar to the town. This may be because Huddersfield is situated virtually on the cross-roads of the North of England with Leeds, Manchester, and a whole host of other cities all with easy rail and road access, and the town may have been the first stopover for somebody fleeing their past... I used to catch a train every day for work, and every evening every passenger was accosted at the station by a man beggi
ng for 'the prarse o' a cuppa tee'. On the rare occasions that I worked late, the same gentlemen was to be seen lurching around the station forecourt clutching his cup of tea (which came in a gold can and had 'special brew' written on the side). Unfortunately this reinforces the stereotypes that people hold for the homeless. It is easy to take the sanctimonious view that an alcoholic or drug addict has only themselves to blame, and that their very addictions are what has caused their downfall. It used to upset me to see the quantity of dogs which appear to be being used by the street beggars in order to extract sympathy. Usually however it is quite easy to see that the dogs are often better looked after than the owners look after themselves. I used to know a very kindly old lady (who sadly died recently) who spent all her retirement days wandering the town centre, feeding the pigeons and ducks, and distributing cans of Pedigree Chum to the local dog owning homeless. Not all homeless people can be pigeonholed by a cynical society. Not all are victims of drug addiction, or gambling. some are genuine victims of an uncaring society which is more than happy to cast aside its weaker members and leave them to the wolves. OK, so people beg for money. How can we determine between the genuinely needy who just require a few coppers so that the can stave off the cold for a few more hours, and the heartless bastards who rip off the public and deny the charity to those who need it. How do you know if you are just contributing to somebody’s next fix, or simply helping to keep somebody alive. It is extremely difficult and listening to your own conscience is the only way through. Government guidelines suggesting that contributions only encourage begging only push the problem to one side. It does not go away that easily. I mentioned earlier how Huddersfield, like many other towns and cities has the policy of housing th
e homeless. But do the homeless know this immediately. They can only seek help if they know where to go, and the local authority is hardly likely to advertise the policy for fear of inundation. Many homeless hit the streets tired and confused, and not really sure of their own destinies. To expect a clear thought process and lucid behaviour is being unrealistic. People do not usually wish to be on the street. It is usually as a result of some tragic domestic event, or a sudden change in financial status. Most people would fight tooth and nail to restore their lives, but living on the street can be a downward spiral, and very difficult to pull back from. I only ever knew 2 people who had truly experienced life on the street. The first was an elderly 'tramp' who a group of us as students 'befriended'. We thought we were socially aware adults, and took it in turns each day to make him a packed sandwich lunch to hand over on our way to lectures. He took the parcel every day and appeared grateful, but in hindsight I am sure we were stripping away his dignity slowly but surely. The second was a girl I worked with a few years ago. We employed her from an agency whilst unbeknown she was lodging at a hostel. I, in my ignorance would probably have not employed her had I known, and thus denied her the chance to climb out of the slump she was in. Her history was tragic - she had been brutally abused by her parents, and had fled home at the age of 15. She had lived on the streets for months till she was admitted to hospital with malnutrition and hypothermia. She was housed by Leeds city council, but her mistrust of men led to her fleeing virtually every hostel she was placed in. Eventually she found a place at a home for traumatised women and was very lucky in being able to attempt a new start in life. She shone in her role at our company and moved on to a decent job in insurance. But she was lucky. Thousands of homeless people never ge
t a chance, and are cast aside by the society which created them. Others don't get chances, they take them. Personally, I would find the selling of the Big Issue painful, as I am not strong enough to cope with the verbal abuse and disdain heaped down by the public. This is seen as a dignified step into the world of earning, yet people are scornful. The sellers behave differently when hawking the magazine, some seem to really detest what they are doing, and yet some seem to really enjoy it, although the seller in Huddersfield who sings and dances probably discourages sales, as quite frankly he is frightening! This is a very awkward subject to discuss, and is virtually impossible to conclude effectively. Yes there are fakes and yes there are the genuinely needy. Unfortunately wherever there is one there will be the other. By eliminating both, the innocent are punished, where at least by exercising tolerance, nobody gets hurt. Civilisation has existed in various cultures for thousands of years. Even the most opulent empires had their poverty and homelessness. Until we live in a truly compassionate society, which is only ever going to be a Utopian dream, then these social divisions will always exist.
Of course it is outdated. Like anything in today's society which revolves around the word 'ceremony', marriage is an event which is celebrated by an out of date, archaic procedure. Much of the Church's involvement in today's society can easily be dismissed as trivial and old fashioned. It is very easy to knock them, as accusations of outdatedness can only be countered by quoting from 2000 year old teachings. But today's marriages increasingly are not involved with the church, but legal bureaucracy instead. Whenever anything is taken over by civil law rather than church rules, trivialisation is bound to occur. How can a legal marriage ever be seen as for life when the documentation provided by the local registrar for completion prior to marriage has all the details printed on regarded divorce law. When my parents generation were married, divorce was not even a considered option, it was something that was advised upon at a later stage when the relationship became irreconcilable. Modern couples get married in the knowledge that a divorce is probably a 50/50 chance so can not be ignored. It is hard to defend the concept of marriage, but I will have a go, before I go through the negative sides. Great party. Not really a shining example of why a couple should get married, but some of the best parties I have attended have been wedding celebrations. Everyone is happy, the booze is free flowing, and it goes on all day - leaving everyone plastered and full of bonhomie. Presents. Again, not really a great example, but a newly married couple can pretty much stock up their house at the expense of their friends and family. Gone are the days of multiple toasters, and now, modern couples are asking for washing machines and dining suites. The ceremony. For some couples, this is a moment of terror, and for others the highlight of the day. The service also serves a dual purpose in that
it is a very public display (and gets you in the paper) of your love for each other, and so lets your family and friends all know how committed to each other you are. I have tried to think of other positive aspects that reflect on a couples progress through a marriage, but I am struggling to come up with anything different between a married and unmarried couple. I struggle to see the validity of having your union 'witnessed by god' if you are not religious yourself, and a civil wedding is just an administrative process, as legally a cohabiting couple are considered as married after a year anyway. Negatives - Here I should be able to have a field day.... Great party. What a way to trivialise your future - get all your family and mates together (most of who have never met each other) and get them so pissed up that few can stand. What memories will they have of your wonderful day? Expense. For the price of a wedding, you could buy a new car, or an extension to your house. How can it be justified that hundreds of pounds can be spent on a dress that will only ever be worn once (hopefully). Does treating everyone to a slap up meal entitle you to expect a present? Awkward questions are always raised about peoples levels of generosity, and it can lead to embarrassing scenes of rivalry between guests, particularly family, with their financial envy. Hypocrisy. With the average divorce rate racing to beat 50%, it is particularly hypocritical to witness people swearing undying love for each other, when you know them well enough to know they have no intention of ever going the distance. A colleague recently married (for the 3rd time) and as part of his wedding speech, he declared that his ambition for this marriage was to try and beat 10 years. On holiday recently, some friends we met who were getting married there stated quite openly that they would be happy if they lasted three years, and had no intention o
f selling one of their 2 houses as they needed to prepare for divorce. Religious hysteria. How many couples who marry in a church could genuinely say that they married there in order for their marital union to be witnessed by god. Most use a church because it is a nice building, and if most registry offices didn't look like 60's boxes, then churches would have gone out of business long ago. Your wedding photos look so much nicer against a backdrop of stained glass and rustic graveyards rather than an industrial office complex. Stately homes have recently jumped on the bandwagon in the knowledge that people like the building to be impressive, but in a country of mixed-faith weddings cannot possibly use a church. Legal Inconsistencies. For a couple who own their own home, it is now far more difficult to resolve a joint mortgage than it is to get a divorce. You actually need to fill in more forms to get a joint bank account than you do to get married. You can get married in a Catholic church, but it isn't recognised till the registrar verifies your marriage certificate. You can get married by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas whilst drunk, and your marriage is valid in this country, but to annul the marriage takes months of legal paperwork, yet in certain cultures, a divorce can be performed by verbal agreement between the two parties, and the divorce is legal in the UK. The purpose of a marriage is to celebrate the union and commitment of 2 people who love each other, yet if they are the same sex, then suddenly a whole gigantic can of worms gets opened. Family problems. A marriage is supposed to bring families together, yet is one of the biggest causes of family rifts. People become upset at not being granted the family status they believe they deserve, and all to often, close family members have to be excluded, or they exclude themselves from the celebrations. I used to work in the function roo
m at a club, and regularly served behind the bar at wedding functions, birthdays, retirements etc. There was occasionally a bit of trouble, and by far the most common was at wedding parties, and was usually fuelled by intense amounts of alcohol. Babies. You can live together for years as a happy couple, but as soon as the chime of the wedding bells has faded, it all starts. Beginning with the 'Will we be hearing the patter of tiny feet?' and moving through various states of pressure till they end with references to not wishing to die without seeing a grandchild. It can seem like as soon as soon as you are wed, you cease being individuals, and become part of the historical family unit, and inherit the duty of procreation. Looking back, my arguments come down firmly on the side against marriage. But I am married myself. Both my wife and I are very happily married. We got married to express our love to each other, and in front of each other. It was not important to us to be witnessed by family, friends, registrars, or deities. Our family and friends were invited to celebrate with us, and it did develop into one massive piss-up, and definitely the best party we have ever been to or thrown. It was very expensive, and took three years to pay for, yet we still believe that every penny was well spent. We were lucky in that our families now get on, whereas they had never even met before the day, and neither of our parents seem too perturbed by our lack of desire for children. For us, our wedding was the final commitment we could make to each other. We did it because we knew we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, and we still know it now, many years later. If any couple feels that way, then sod what anyone else thinks, just do it. Of course the whole ceremony is outdated, and some of the traditions are quite frankly bizarre, but it is most definitely the best ever experience you can have. We had our doubts, but
purely on the financial grounds. We knew we were setting back home improvements by a couple of years, but we thought it worth it. Neither of us look back with any regrets. All in all, a wedding is a very personal thing. If a couple love each other enough to wish to get married, whatever their religion, colour, or sex, then no-one on this world has any right to deny them.
Years in developement, and massively over budget, this is probably the most hyped game ever released. But was the hype justified? Is hype by its very nature ever justified? In my opinion no. Before the lynch mobs are despatched, however, please hear me out. This game is one of the most spectacular I have ever seen. I defy anyone to not be amazed when they first see it in operation. The sheer mechanics and intelligence shown by the in-game participants is astounding. Basically, for those who have been living in Outer Mongolia for the last 12 months, the game is a 'God' simulation, giving you ultimate control over the lives and destinies of different villages. It is your choice to eihter force the inhabitants to revere you through fear during your reign of terror, or to worship your benevolence and kindness in developing and protecting them (hence Black and White). The added interest is a creature, the physical embodiment of your deity, which prowls the islands doing your bidding. The god simulation part of the game is competently handled, with the 'micro-management' of the villagers very straight forward. Initially it is a simple matter of fulfilling their desires for food, wood, buildings, and babies. Once a balance has been reached between the breeding and the building, then the level of worship needs to reach equilibrium. You, as god, need their prayer power, but work them too hard and the poor souls die on you. The prayer power that worship builds is used for casting 'miracles' which can be as simple as conjuring a pile of wood, or destroying a village with an electric storm. The part of the game which attracted the most attention was the creature. These act like an incredibly complex Tamagotchi, but with a powerful AI, and good learning potential. It is your duty as a god to develop, teach and grow your creature in a manner you see fit. The creature (initiall
y a cow, tiger, or orang-utan) starts off as a small (equivalent to about 25' tall) baby-like infant, with the temperament of a hyperactive child with an attention deficit. All your actions are viewed by your creature, and he may (or may not) learn from them. He is also prepared to experiment for himself, and if encouraged, or punished will wish to try those actions more or less. If he chooses to eat a villager, and goes unpunished, then he will take that as acceptance of his behaviour. If he takes a dump in a field and gets stroked, he is likely to fertilize the foliage a little more often. My creature did a 'poo' (to use the game's own terminology) in his own temple, so to discourage him I gave him a couple of heavy slaps. When he walked away sulking, I picked up the droppings and flung them away from the temple. The problem was, my throwing technique wasn't very good, and the crap flew all over the village.... and my creature was watching avidly, taking it all in. Everytime he goes now, he follows it up with a grinning display of flying logs as he flings his effluent everywhere. Appearance-wise, the graphics are crisp and clear, and you have an unprecedented amount of freedom of camera movement. You can view the land from above the clouds, or right up close enough to see a villager scratching himself. The sound is competent, but not special. There is no support for additional formats such as EAX, and the sound mostly consists of atmospherics, animal noises, and villagers pleas. The learning curve of the game is not at all steep, with all manner of in game tutorials to develop your skills. These are very necessary, as until you get used to it, the controls are very unwieldy. It is made far easier with a 3rd wheel-button on the mouse. This frees up rotation and zooming, and I cannot imagine playing the game without it. The big problem is the gameplay. There is initially a m
assive amount to see and do. You can wander the island in awe, and spend hours teaching your creature new tricks. It is a great joy to see him perform something of his own accord to help a village, just because you have taught him it is the right thing to do. It is hilarious (the first time) when you find your creature dancing with the villagers. When you receive an intelligent reaction to one of your actions the feeling of pride (or horror) is unbelieveable. But it doesn't take long to start repeating itself. Between every new task discovered is an endless succession of picking up food and storing it, and transporting it to where it is required, and picking up trees to provide timber. It is a tedious succession of checking your disciples at the temple, and then creating a load more because your last ones died of old age, without teaching their children their trades. The villagers appear increasingly unwilling to do anything for themselves, no matter how much you try to force them (or am I just crap at the game?), but will sit and cry out 'we need homes' instead of getting on with it - they just wait for you to decide what needs building for them. After a few hours, and after the initial novelty which involved me showing the game off to all of my friends, and calling my wife in to witness all the new tricks I had taught my cow, I found myself getting more and more frustrated and bored with the repetitiveness and tedium of it all. It became annoying when it turns out that half of the really annoying bits were bugs which were sorted with the patch. Didn't they have enough time to sort it out? After all, they were only 2 years late as it was. Or was the hype in danger of burning itself out, and turning the media against them. Magazines would only be prepared to run the 'ITS NEARLY READY' headline so many times. I have not used the online facilities, but a friend who has insists that it makes the game.
You can set the playing environment to match the local weather, and your creature will even keep its own diary for all to see on your website, but these are all superfluous to the actual gameplay. To me, the sign of a good game is when you keep on playing, oblivious to time passing, and outside influences. It is where you forsake everything to keep going, ignoring the potential wrath of your partner while you try and reach the next stage. The ultimate is when you actually lack concentration at work whilst you plan your next move... Black and White did not have this for me. It is a good game, don't get me wrong, but it certainly isn't the masterpiece that Lionhead would like us all to believe. To me it is the Anna Kournikova of the gaming world - plenty of flashy style, which attracts the media hype, but when you look closely, very little achievement whatsoever.
There is no need for any other game magazine website - this covers it all. The site is US based with UK links. It covers all facets of console and PC gaming in detail. The format is bright and cheery (maybe a little too bright and colourful for browsing whilst at work - as it pretty obvious at a glance that you aren't working) with screenshots and advertisements adorning the top and perimeter of the screen. I was about to say that the site wasn't cursed with popups, but from today, browsing seems to be blocked by a Coca-Cola animation which gets on your nerves quickly, but mercifully appears only once. Basically, the website is a huge magazine devoted to gaming of all genres. The initial divisions are as follows:- Gamecube / N64 / Playstation / PS2 / Dreamcast / PC / Mac / Web Games / Handhelds Once your format is chosen, you can access a detailed section on the following subjects: Previews This gives a general overview of yet-to-be-released games. All the usual bits and pieces are there, with screenshots, links to developers, and gossip. One original feature is the 'play-o-meter' which is a graphical measure of how much is actually known about the previewed product. The scale moves from 'HYPE', where the site has seen little apart from what the developer has sent, through 'GOOD LOOK' where the game has been seen in action, right up to 'IN DEPTH' where the site has played a pre-release copy for a few hours. Reviews This is pretty self explanatory, covering a similar ground to previews, but with obviously much more depth. Again there are links to developers, and purchase sites. Features This is the news section of the site. There are stories, predictions and rumours abound, as well as interviews with programmers and developers. Cheats Again this is pretty self explanatory. The cheats section isn
't as comprehensive as some specialist cheat sites, but because it isn't as extensive, all the cheats are able to be tested as valid. Downloads This page contains links to download literally thousands of demos of games both old, new, and unfinished. There are also links to developer sites for update patches. Hardware and Peripherals This contains a small featurette on many different add-ons relevant to the section you are in (e.g. Graphics accelerators for the PC, Joysticks for the PS2 etc.). At the side of each featured peripheral is a picture, a link to the manufacturers website, and also links to price-comparison sites. Walkthru's Once again - self explanatory, but this section contains walkthrough guides to most games. Some are featured directly on the happypuppy website, and others are accessed via links into other sites. Most are printable in printer friendly formats which is a good job, considering how bright the site is. Also on the site are other features quite typical to traditional 'paper' magazine, including a Letters page, and a discussion forum. There are also sections for give-aways and prizes, which tend to be financed by allowing your e-mail to be given to the software developers (you can decline) Overall, this is a very complete gamers magazine website. It is very regularly updated and is well informed of new releases and industry gossip. It is clear enough to be readable for long periods without requiring Optrex, and is interesting enough to give traditional magazines a worry, as the best thing is .... it is totally free.
Yes, I do use Hotmail, and no, I have no idea why. I was first recommended to Hotmail a couple of years ago by a well meaning friend, and signed up successfully with my requested username virtually instantly. I didn't really want to use the web mail function over and above the e-mail I was currently using, but, as mentioned above, I had a username which I had requested which was exactly the same as my BTInternet address. This was very convenient for friends and colleagues to remember my address, but not too convenient for me to actually check all my mail. It was at this point that I found I could use Outlook Express to check both my e-mail account and my Hotmail account simultaneously. Linking it in was a very simple process - Click 'Tools', 'Accounts', 'Add>' and fill in your Hotmail address, and from then on, a search through Outlook will activate your Hotmail account. The only limitation is that if you are trying to link your account at work, and your company uses a semi-decent firewall, then all connections are broken There is a 2MB limit on Hotmail, but if you don't exceed this in one e-mail, by sending too large an attachment, you can mange this easily by swapping the files within Outlook to spread the mail storage on to your hard-drive. OK, so Hotmail is easy to use, easy to sign up for, and easy to maintain, so why do I dislike it? How long have you got? It is sooooo slow. To access your account through Oulook, on a standard 56K modem can take a couple of minutes. 2 minutes I know is not a great deal in the grand scheme of things, but when all other e-mails have loaded, and even other web based mails have loaded, and been read, it becomes increasingly frustrating to have to wait, twiddling your thumbs, while Hotmail transfers 3 or 4 messages, usually all of dubious content. Which brings me to my next point... SPAM. Hotmail is reknowned for it I kn
ow, and they boast of quite powerful 'inbox protectors', but at least once a day, I get an offer to either miraculously extend a part of my anatomy, earn $100,000 in 3 months or witness an act of depravity from somebody who 'likes to be watched'. What is the point in it all? I just cannot understand why they waste their effort. If I wanted to.. er... develop myself, I would visit a plastic surgeon the UK, and not go with some quack who has to resort to spamming to drum up trade. If I was capable of earning $400,000 a year, I am hardly likely to be bumming around on Hotmail. But honestly, with the porn spam, do they really believe that anyone who wishes to find porn on the internet needs to be invited by an e-mail? Apparently, the vast majority of entries in search engines are for pornographic material, so these spammers must be really scraping the bottom of the barrel. The spam protection offered by Hotmail is inadequate to cope with the sheer amount of junk flying around. People on dooyoo who have written many other opinions on hotmail seem to blame others rather than Microsoft for the amount they receive, but I am currently registered with other web-mail systems, and Yahoo in particular has not yielded a single item of junk in 18 months. The Hotmail server is not the most stable around, and on many occasions it is impossible to access. There is a story circulating of an American lady who had received e-mails from her husband days before he was tragically killed, which were lost in the system, and no responsibility taken by Microsoft. Another issue is the very fact that it is run by Microsoft. In recent months/years it has become fashionable to knock them and everything they stand for, but in real terms they have probably done more to advance computer technology than anyone since Charles Babbage. They have also done much to promote acceptability of a megalomaniacal, global dominative attitude. Everything
they manufacture can be linked together in some way to increase functionality. But this can be a problem. Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Hotmail, and now MSN Messenger become inexorably linked, and it is difficult to remove one without corrupting another. Have you ever tried to change to a new web page whilst MSN is opening as a home. The entire system goes doolally - and to this end I have a mild distrust of the whole corporate massiveness. Also, any communication sent becomes the property of Microsoft, so don't send a draft copy of your latest novel! As a free mail system for casual users, Hotmail is free and convenient. It can be accessed from any internet enabled PC anywhere in the world, and so is great for travellers and people who do not have their own computer. Unfortuneately, because of its size and the fact that it is free, an @hotmail.com address is now regarded as being particularly 'uncool' (a bonus for some!) But there are other webmail systems which work far, far better. Take Yahoo for example. It works in almost exactly the same way as Hotmail, and is easier and faster to use. Its capacity is 6MB so you can forward those amusing MPEG files from work. It is not quite as simple as Hotmail to link to Outlook, but the yahoo website has very clear instructions on how to link to just about any browser you require. Overall, it is a very average system, which in no way deserves its status as one of the most popular web-mails in the world.
I was first shown this by a rather deranged friend whilst at college. This particular friend was rather smitten by the concept of imagination enhancement by ingestion of hemp based derivatives, so the rather bizarre description was no surprise. I prefer to call the dish something else. Firstly, it makes me sound slightly more sane, and secondly, it does give some indication of what you are about to consume. The dish is highly spiced, very tasty - and very good at producing flatulence. My version is rather boringly entitled 'Chilli Eggs' The ingredients required are: (4 persons) 8 eggs (6 large ones will do but this can make serving a nightmare) 1 tin chopped tomatoes (or 1lb of fresh if you can be bothered to skin and chop them) 3 large peppers (ideally green/red/yellow) 2 onions 5 cloves of garlic 1/2 lb button mushrooms 1/2 pint stock 1 tbsp tomato puree (vegetable puree works better but can be difficult to get hold of) Red chillies (the recipe calls for Habanero or Scotch Bonnet chillies, but these are very expensive, and can be far too hot for most palettes - it can be more sensible to just use a few supermarket strength and adjust to taste) 3/4 lb waxy cheese - such as Double Gloucester - cut into 2cm cubes 1/2 tsp Oregano 1 tbsp paprika Worcester Sauce to taste (I prefer about half a bottle - but I am abnormal, as I love drinking it neat!) Salt/Pepper Oil or Butter (Depending on how healthy you are pretending to be) The recipe is an absolute doddle to make: Coarsely chop the onions and peppers and fry until soft. Roughly slice the chillies, remove the seeds (retain them on a saucer - they are needed later), and add to the pan. Add the garlic, herbs, and mushrooms and fry for a further 5 mins Add the tomatoes, stock and however much Worcester sauce you like (1 tbsp is usually enough - please ignore me getting carried away earlier) Add the puree and the paprika, and salt and pepper. Dependent on how you like your veg - I prefer mine soggy, but some weirdos like their veg 'al dente' - you can boil the stock a while to provide a more soup like texture. Take half of the cheese cubes and cut them in half again. Press some chilli seeds into one of the halves, and then press the 2 pieces together again. Break all the eggs, one at a time, and gently place them on the surface of the simmering vegetables. Carefully sprinkle all the cheese cubes onto the surface of eggs, being careful not to break any yolks. Cover the pan, and very gently simmer for about 10 minutes. At this point, carefully remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, and then serve with the vegetables in a soup bowl. Serve with toast or pitta breads, and if you have used habaneros, a very large glass of water. I can see where the description 'Alien eyeballs' comes from, but I draw the line at the cheesy/chilli lumps - you do not want to know what he called those....