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For weeks now, Dooyoo has been flooded with opinions on all aspects of Christmas, and created a lively festive atmosphere, but one element of the season was sadly lacking; New Year. You see, I am Scottish, and New Year is a very important part of our culture, so a quick word with the lovely Simone and Hey Presto. Now I know many think the Scots are dour b*ggers and too miserable to give presents, hence our favour of New Year, when we can all get drunk, but there is a wee fact many don't realise. Christmas was not actually officially recognised in Scotland till 1958, and was not a public holiday here. The crazy thing is, this was not because we were heathens and shunned the birth of Christ, it was actually the church itself that banned Christmas celebrations. This law, which lasted for 400 years, was set by the Scottish Presbyterian Church who felt Christmas was just a Roman Catholic excess. Many did of course celebrate it secretly, but as the holidays that Scots were allowed were at New Year, Hogmanay celebrations became a tradition. Today we celebrate Christmas like everybody else, but to many, Christmas is a time for the children, and Hogmanay is for the adults. Now the title of this category is New Year's Parties, but we don't really do that as such. We go First Footing. You may hear some strange conversations up here at this time of year, like, “What's your plans for Hogmanay?”, or, “What are you doing for the Bells?”, and fairly often the answer will be, “I'm just going first-footing”. I'm sure many of you understand about Hogmanay and the Bells, but for those of you that don't, Hogmanay is the Scottish term for New Year, and has been used for so long there is controversy about its origin. The Bells is simply an expression used to describe the striking of midnight, when many churches throughout the country, and some still do, sounded in the New Year. Oh, and another wee e
xpression you may hear is Ne'erday, which simply means New Year's Day. Hogmanay has its origins in pagan times, and the practice of sun and fire worship in deep mid-winter, so this is why first-footing has a wee set of rules, although many are not followed as strictly today. Traditionally, a first-footer, is the first person to enter a house after midnight, and is supposed to bring luck to the householder throughout this new year. In the past, and actually in most cases even today, the first-footer did not enter the house empty-handed, as this is bad luck, and carried a lump of coal, black bun/shortbread and whisky.These represent the basic needs of heat, food and drink. Today many just have their 'carry-out' with them, but few enter a house empty-handed. To go first-footing, does not mean you are going to 'a' party, but lots of them. The routine usually means you visit a friend's house, wish everyone a Happy New Year, have a wee drink and a blether, help yourself to the food spread out on the table by the host, then after a while, say your good-byes and head off to the next house you plan to visit, and repeat the above, although things can get a wee bit hectic as the night goes on. First-footing does not always run to a set plan. You may start off with plans to visit certain people, but along the way meet friends or strangers in the street, and end up accompanying them to where they are going. It is not unknown for some to waken up on New Year's Day in a strange house and not have a clue where they are. I think I should mention here how the festivities proceed. A couple of years ago, Mr shabbie and I were invited to a late evening meal on Hogmanay by a new English couple who had recently moved up here to Caithness. They were so trying to fit in, and the man of the house proudly wore his new kilt. So everything went smoothly, and we had the traditional Scottish New Year meal of steak pie, with soft backgrou
nd music keeping things cosy. Then suddenly at midnight everything changed. We all wished each other a Happy New Year, and after a couple of toasts, the background music was turned off and a new cd slipped into the machine. The next thing we knew was the blasting out of Jimmy Shand type music followed by our hosts leaping into the centre of the room to do the Highland Fling. Mr shabbie and I at this point found it very difficult to control our laughter, especially when we were urged to join them. This is where the first-footing aspect comes in really handy, as in this case we suddenly remembered there was another neighbour we promised to visit.(we took the couple with us by the way, just in case you thought we ran out and deserted them, and they are still good friends of ours to this day). So basically the moral of this story is, although some, especially the older generation, do play Scottish music at the New Year, most of us just play ordinary music, and do normal things like dance, sing, get drunk and make a fool of ourselves, but we don't do the Highland Fling. Now I realise today, some of the younger generation in Scotland, attend large organised events for Hogmanay, like the one in Edinburgh, where they see in the new year with rock bands, and I think this is great (wish we had it when I was young), but I don't see this ending our traditional celebrations. So I'd just like to end by wishing Yin an' all a Happy New Year. Slainte Mhath (slanjey-va) Good Health response Slainte Mhor (slanjey-voe) Great Health. Right....sing up. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne?(times gone by) CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne, We'll tak a cup of kindness yet, For auld lang syne! And surely ye'll be (buy)your pint-stowp,(pint tankard) A
nd surely I'll be mine, And we'll tak a cup o kindness yet, For auld lang syne! We twa(two) hae run about the braes,(hills) And pou'd(pulled) the gowans(daisies) fine, But we've wander'd monie (many)a weary fit,(foot) Sin auld lang syne. We twa hae paidl'd(paddled) in the burn(stream) Frae morning sun(noon) till dine,(evening) But seas between us braid(broad) hae roar'd Sin auld lang syne. And there's a hand my trusty fiere,(friend) And gie's a hand o thine, And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught,(goodwill drink) For auld lang syne
I was initially really looking forward to the publication of Black House, which was supposed to be the sequel of The Talisman, the first collaboration of the two best-selling authors Stephen King and Peter Straub. However, having read some bad reviews of Black House, I decided to give it a miss. Unfortunately, I forgot to inform my friends and family of this, and was duly presented with the book for my birthday. Since I then had the book, I thought I may as well read it, but before starting it I dug out my copy of The Talisman to read again so that everything would be fresh in my mind. Ha, fat lot of good that did me. Perhaps King and Straub should have done likewise. THE PLOT. Black House is set twenty years after the adventures of The Talisman, and brings back the central character, Jack Sawyer, who is now almost 35 years old. He grew up and joined the police force, where he rapidly climbed the ranks to become a very successful murder Detective in LA.. Then suddenly, in his early thirties, he decided he had had enough and retired to a very quiet and remote area called French Landing. We join the scene in French Landing, where three children have gone missing, two had since been found chopped up and half eaten, and the other in a similar condition, just waiting to be found. These murders are very similar to others committed in the 1920s in New York, by a man called Albert Fish, and so the local newspaper hound dubbed the latest killer The Fisherman. Now even though Jack 'Hollywood' Sawyer, our famous murder detective, has lived in the area for almost four years, he wants nothing to do with the investigation of these killings, but eventually he does become involved when another child disappears, and is asked to help by the boys father. It soon becomes obvious that this case involves no ordinary killer, and will mean 'flipping' into The Territories, where Jack spent much of his time in The Talisman. Strangely, over
the years he had forgotten all about 'flipping' and The Territories, but his memory quickly returns. We learn pretty early on in the book who the killer is, but how he manages to do it takes a bit longer to unfold. There is also the mystery of a talking crow called Gorg, Mr Munshun, The Scarlet King, Breakers and the sinister Black House itself. This is a house in French Landing which was built in the 70s, but no-one seems to know it even exists. For all that the book is named after it, the House does not play a very large part, and only comes into the story near the end. THE BOOK AS A SEQUEL. As I stated earlier, Black House was supposed to follow on twenty years after The Talisman, but in my view it just doesn't work. If any Talisman fans are hoping to venture regularly into The Territories, and meet some of the wonderful characters from there, like Wolf, they are in for a big disappointment. Jack doesn't even attempt his first flip until a third of the way through the book, and even then he briefly lands in a field, looks around him and flips back For those who haven't read The Talisman, The Territories are a sort of parallel universe, where everything is a bit like our medieval times. It is full of small villages with markets and colourful characters. The air is fresher and everything smells and tastes wonderful. When you 'flip' over, your clothing changes to fit in with the place, and everything you are carrying changes into something else. Distance is different in The Territories, where if you walk a few hundred yards and 'flip' back, you have covered a mile or so over here, and you always watch where you are flipping from, for although the corresponding areas may be similar, a dust road over there could be a motor-way over here. If Jack wanted to take someone with him when he 'flipped', he had to hold onto their hand. Now, perhaps King and Straub should have read my
last paragraph, because they seemed to forget some of the rules they themselves initially set. At one point in Black House, they have Jack 'flip' from the fifth floor of a building, where half the contents of the room go with him, and also another person who is nowhere near him. Then Jack goes for a walk, which would mean he was a distance from where he started over here, but no, Jack can eventually flip back again, to the exact spot on the fifth floor. There are many more instances that don't fit, but to say more of them here would give away some of the plot. The main character himself, Jack Sawyer, could have been Tom Sawyer or even Huckleberry Finn, because there was nothing there that even resembled the original Jack. Granted, this book was set twenty years later, but where the original character was three dimensional, and one you felt you knew and cared about, the new Jack is hollow and just a character written on a piece of paper. I honestly couldn't have cared less about him, and felt he 'flopped' rather than 'flipped'. The only other character we meet from The Talisman, is Speedy, who has transformed from the ancient blues singer in this dimension, to a gun slinging John Wayne in the Territories twenty years later. This is really unbelievable, considering weapons consisted of slings and swords the last time we were there. I have been told by a friend that Black House actually has more in common with another series of books written by King called Dark Tower. I haven't read any of these myself, but apparently fans will instantly recognise references in the book to things like The Scarlet King and Breakers. BLACK HOUSE CHARACTERS. We meet many of the characters briefly at the beginning of the book, where we float like a disembodied spirit through the town, spying on the individuals. I know some readers felt uncomfortable with this approach, but I didn't particularly mind it in
principal, but felt it was very drawn out. There is the Hells Angels gang, known as the Thunder Five, who are rough and ready, mostly highly educated and work in the local brewery. Mind you, the brewery must have been shut for the holidays during the book as the gang never seemed to be at work. The leader of the gang, Beezer, was the father of one of the murdered children. The local Old Folks Home is also visited, and we meet various characters here, as well as getting a disgusting rendition of what conditions are meant to be like in this type of place, and an insight into how the authors view elderly people with dementia. The only characters with any relevance to the story here are the owner, William 'Chipper' Maxton, who is out to con everybody, and isn't really very important in the plot, and an elderly resident Charles Burnside, who is. I had a picture of him in my mind as Mr Burns from the Simpsons. Then there is the wonderful Henry, a blind DJ who seemed to suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder. He, I suppose, was meant to be the Wolf type character from The Talisman, in this book. Henry is an elderly, blind widower, who becomes a close friend of Jack, and secretly transmits on local radio as several different DJs, with different personalities. He is supposed to be a lovable character, and perhaps some readers felt he was, but I felt his main purpose was as an ego trip of the authors to spout their knowledge of Jazz music. Henry to me was nothing more than a smug, self-centred little know it all. Perhaps much of this was due to the fact I have no love of the type of music being thrown at me with such authority throughout the book. Wendell Green is the local newspaper reporter who named the killer, The Fisherman. He is portrayed as a rogue who will do anything for a story, but the authors at times go a bit over the top with him, rendering certain situations totally unbelievable. There are a few other
characters like the policemen, the boy who was abducted and his parents, the mother of another victim and a few others who all play parts in the plot, but you don't really get to know them very well, even though quite a few pages are dedicated to their development. They appear on cue at various points throughout the book, then vanish for another chapter or so with barely a mention. CONCLUSION Well, I think you get the message by now that I did not like this book one iota, in fact the only reason I finished it was to write this review. On several occasions it almost landed in the bin beside Hannibal. I have heard it said that Black House was written, where each author wrote alternate chapters. Having read an interview with Peter Straub, he claims there was no set pattern, and at times they even wrote alternate paragraphs, but admits most of The Territories scenes, which were very sparse, were mainly the work of King. Having said that, I personally feel this was more a Straub book, full of lengthy, boring descriptions, half baked characters and musical ego trips, where King popped in now and again to breath a bit of life into it. There were very few 'flips' to The Territories, and even here they were dull and unrecognisable. The book also became a bit of a gore-fest at times, with blood and sh*t and intestines described to the full, but that type of horror does not impress me at all, nor does the descriptions of murdering, torturing and eating children. Serial killers are becoming a bit overdone these days, and I feel two authors of such vast experience, should have been able to come up with something a bit more original. There is so much more I want to say, of weak areas, and anti-climaxes, but in doing so would give too much of the plot away. So all in all, I realise some people enjoyed this book, and even liked Henry, but it was just not my cup of tea at all, and I would advise anyone who is in two
minds about it, to borrow it from the library and spend their money on something else. HarperCollins; ISBN: 0007100426
Call me contrary, or whatever you like, but I tend to go against the grain at times, and my taste in films also follows this trend. I usually dislike most of the big blockbuster films, probably because they are so hyped, that by the time I see them, they just don't live up to what I was expecting.. I also think a lot has to do with how good the publicity agents are, and how gullible a lot of the public can be. I was going to say they are like sheep, but I often watch the sheep in the fields around my house, and believe me, sheep are not as daft as we are led to believe, but anyway, I digress, this is not an opinion on the Silence of the Lambs, so back to the issue in hand. Away from the biggies, I have come across a few real gems in the lesser known film catagories. Mind you, I think with directors and scriptwriters, it's all down to the old 'who you know' scenario. So this opinion is on one such film called The Boondock Saints. The Boondock Saints (1999), is a Tarantino type film, only in my view, better, and I'm sure Quentin would have loved to have had this one to his credit. It was written and directed by an unknown, out of work musician called Troy Duffy, who was basically, in the end, screwed by the film industry. He was initially promised the world on a platter, but after all the contracts were signed, loopholes appeared out of the woodwork. He knew exactly what type of actors would fit the characters, and the suggested Robert Di Niro and Brad Pitt were not them, so to cut a long story short, he hired the actors he wanted, but after the film was made, instead of being released to cinema screens as promised,, it was sold to Blockbusters, who released it only on video for exclusive rentals from their stores. Even so, the film has managed to reach cult status and many fan sites can be found on the web. Now, have you ever watched the news or read a newspaper and been outraged by stories of murder or dirty deeds, where
the obvious guilty party walks, because of loopholes in the law? Well this is the inspiration behind The Boondock Saints. That sounds just like Deathwish, you may think, but believe me, it's not. Fraternal twins, Connor and Murphy McMannus, (Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus), from an Irish working-class background, live in Boston, where a thriving mafia riddled, underground community, evade the law on a daily basis. The boys have just been living their lives with little interest in what was going on round about them, when one day two incidents change their lives forever. Flannery and Reedus, are convincing as twins, both being the same height and build, and they work so well together. They interact just like brothers, where they have disagreements and punch-ups, but underneath lies a devotion to the death for each other. Although those from Ireland may possibly find fault with the accents, just as I frequently do with phoney Scottish ones, I found their quietly spoken, Irish lilt quite convincing. The story begins on St Patrick's day when the brothers, both devout catholics believe it or not, are at mass, and the priest claims that those who see a crime being carried out and walk away are just as guilty as the perpetrators. Then later that night, at a St Patrick celebration in their local Irish pub, the Russian Mafia make an appearance, with fatal consequences. So begins the career of the Boondock Saints. Being a bit battered and bruised after their first successful dealings with the baddies, they are elated at the results and media feedback, so the twins decide to take things a step further, and next take on the big boss of the Russian Mafia. Meanwhile, the Boston police, who are more like they Keystone Cops, have brought in the FBI. Enter agent Paul Smecker, played by Willem Dafoe, who is a classical music loving, over-dramatic, gay, Sherlock Holmes type character. Dafoe makes this part all his own, and if you se
e the film you'll realise that although Bill Murray and Sylvester Stalone (which were two of the choices the studio originally wanted for the part), are big names, this part was not for them. I mean, come on, Murray and Stalone aren't exactly known for their similar roles. How could anyone believe a particular part could be played by either? To continue, Smecker eventually figures out who is behind the killings, and although he knows it's wrong, he also in a way understands why they are doing it, and does a lot of soul searching in deciding how best to handle the case. I have always been a fan of Willem Dafoe, but must admit this is probably one of his best performances of all time, especially in his guise near the end of the film. I'm saying no more. The other main character in the film is Rocco, aka, Funny Man, (played by David Della Rocco), who is a friend of the twins and also a small-time runner for the local mafia. He himself is then set-up by his employers and so decides he wants to be one of the Boondock Saints to get revenge on them. He is at times more of a hindrance than anything else, but he's a pal, so they humour him. Then there's his balaclava. Ah, but again I'll say no more. I could talk in detail about the humour in this film, which I promise can match, and in many cases outmatch some of the great Comedies, but I don't want to fool anyone into thinking this one is great for a fun-filled family night-in with the kids. It is not a slap-stick, Jim Carey type comedy in any way. This film is violent, with blood and bullets flying throughout, but this is where the genius lies. If someone had not been following the storyline or listening to what was going on, it could come across as a bloodbath, and yet when you know what's happening, these same situations are really funny. There is also a scene in the film with a cat, which saw me with tears running down my face it was so funny. This is a
ctually on e of the classic scenes in the picture, oh yes, and the rope. I'm saying no more here. If you want to know about the cat or the rope, you'll have to watch it for yourselves. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Billy Connolly also stars in the film. He has a small, but very relevant part. So here we have the McMannus twins out killing all the underworld scum, but they are on a mission from God, and even dispatch their victims in a very holy manner. When they have the person in the right position, they say in unison......And shepherds we shall be, for thee my Lord for thee, Power hath descended forth from thy hand, that our feet may swiftly carry out thy command, we shall flow a river forth to thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be. In nomine patrie, et fili (they cock their guns) et spiritu sancti. (bang). Aw, isn't that nice. The manner in which the film is shot also adds to the atmosphere. It comes in segments where the boys are just about to enter to do the business, then it cuts to the aftermath, where agent Smecker is walking the scene and voicing his opinion of what took place, then cuts back to the boys and what actually happened. It works, honest. As does the music, by Jeff Danna, which adds a sort of religious drama to the film, and keeps the suspense high. The only criticism some have of the film, is the ending. I personally think it works, due to the way the film is set out, (and leaves an opening for a sequel...yes,yes), but I believe some were looking for a more dramatic ending. So this is something you will have to decide for yourself. In conclusion, this is a film I highly recommend, and it is one of those where one viewing is not enough. If you love it as much as I do, you will want to rewind and listen to some of the 'crack', over and over again. I also have some great news for anyone who thinks they might enjoy this film. Blockbuster have finally allowed the film to go o
n general relea se, and you can now purchase it on Amazon for an amazing £5.99. Hardly worth renting it out when you can buy it for that price. If you are still not sure, and think perhaps I might just be a closet gore-freak, the film is showing occassionally on Sky, so watch out for it there. So I'll end in the words of the McMannus twins:- Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal. Those are tenants all should live by, cross those lines, and the Saints may just be behind you. Oh, and remember to watch out for, the bartender, the cat, the rope and the balaclava. Running Time..110 minutes. Certificate 18.
"A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." Dr Johnson (circa 1700s) This is how oats were described by the famous Dr Johnson, and although it sounds, and was probably meant, as a put-down, was actually true. So before all you non-Scots reading this nip out to donate your packet of Porridge Oats to the local riding school, lets look at why this was the case. Way back in medieval times, wild oats had a habit of wheedling their way into fields of wheat, and in some areas, taking over. Now although wheat was quite capable of holding its own in the warm lowlands, at higher, cooler altitudes the oats choked out the wheat. Oats were also able to extract more nutrients from the soil. So in effect, the farmers in Scotland tended to harvest more oats than wheat and so the staple grain of Scotland was born. Oats at this time, also had another use. Most of the food eaten back then, was heavily preserved in salt; and in order to remove as much of it as possible during the cooking process,. a muslin bag of oatmeal was hung in the cooking pot to draw out the salt. So there's a wee medieval tip you can use if you oversalt a pot while cooking. Now let's look at cooking methods. Today many are into cooking and eating Chinese cuisine, for example, and insist that to do it properly, they must use Chinese methods. So out come the Woks and the chopsticks, the wee fancy dishes and the bare feet. That's fine, but when it comes to porridge, which is readily recognised as a Scottish dish, suddenly the way Scots cook and eat it is wrong.(or so we're frequently told). So if you want to do it right, and add a wee bit of authentic custom, here is an ancient recipe for porridge, known to the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders as "brochan". For each serving, you will need: 1 cup water 2 rounded Tablespoons of Porridge Oats salt to taste.
Put the water into saucepan and bring to boil. As soon as it reaches boiling-point, add the oats. Let them fall in a steady stream from your left hand, while you stir it with the right, using a spurtle (porridge stick) or the handle of a wooden spoon. (If you are superstitious, remember to stir clockwise - "deiseal" - and not "widdershins"!) When the porridge has come back to the boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes before adding salt. It is important not to add the salt too early, as it has a tendency to harden the grain and prevent it from swelling. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Ladle straight into cold porringers or bowls, and serve with individual bowls of cream, milk, or buttermilk. Each spoonful of hot porridge is dipped into the cold milk before being eaten, to cool it off . Porridge was traditionally eaten with a horn spoon, rather than a metal one, which could become rather hot. The traditional "brochan" bowls were made of hardwood, usually birch, because of its sweetness and also because it was easier to keep clean. Respect was also shown in the old custom of standing while eating porridge, and Highlanders sometimes formed, and still do, some private (unflattering) opinions of people based on how they 'took' their porridge. The worst insult was when their guest used sugar, followed by sitting down at the table. So remember, the next time you are served a bowl of porridge in the Highland, if you use sugar and sit down at the table, we'll all be talking about you behind your back. Oats can also be used in many cooking recipes, but as this opinion is about the benefits of oats, and not recipes in general, I'll leave that area for another day. I personally love porridge, and even keep a glass container of porridge oats on the side of my bath. No, it's not because I take long baths and become a bit peckish. All will be revealed in due course. <br> So why is porridge better for you than most of the other breakfast cereals on the market? Well for one thing, it's natural, and does not come with all the added A-Z additives so many contain. The health benefits of oats are numerous, and an excellent breakfast food, especially for the young. Porridge has a warming, thermal nature, which helps release energy throughout the day. It is also one of the richest silicon foods, helping to renew bones and all connective tissue. Oats also contain phosphorus, which is required for brain and nerve formation during youth. For those of us who care about our cholesterol, oats are an excellent addition to any healthy diet. A cup of cooked oatmeal has only 145 calories and is full of iron, magnesium, and fibre. And just when you think it can't get any better, oats are naturally cholesterol-free and wickedly low in saturated fat and sodium. They also function as cholesterol-soaker-upper. In folk medicine, as well as among current herbalists, oats are used to treat many conditions, including nervous exhaustion, and insomnia. Tea made from oats is used in rheumatic conditions and to treat water retention. Oats are also used in baths to treat insomnia and anxiety as well as a variety of skin conditions, including burns, eczema and psoriasis. So how do you use oats? Well, they can be eaten as a morning breakfast cereal, or late at night to help you relax and reduce insomnia. This is probably ideal, instead of a curry, after a heavy night out on the tiles. Oat tea can be made by using a heaped tablespoonful (30 grams) of oats in 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water. After cooling and straining, the tea can be drunk several times a day and shortly before going to bed. A soothing bath to ease irritated skin can be made by running the bath water through a sock containing several tablespoons of oats. So how do I use porridge oats? Well funnily enough, I seldom have porridge for br
eakfast, mainly because I'm not one who likes to eat in the morning. I do however like a bowl late at night. It has become a standing joke in my house, when friends partake of a beverage or two (or even five), I appear with a huge pot of porridge and bowls and tell everyone to help themselves. At first I was looked on as crazy, but this has actually caught on, and I'm regularly given a bowl, when I visit most of them. Try it. It might just prevent that hangover. Now we come to my bathroom mystery. Well I have found the secret of babysoft skin. I kid you not.No expensive lotions and potions, just good auld porridge oats. I found this out by accident, when I had a rather painful burn on my arm and decided to see, having read about it in a book, if oats would sooth the pain. I didn't have any muslin handy, so I put a couple of handfuls of oats into a pop-sock, and tied it at one end. At first I did what most books tell you, and run the water through the oats, adding the properties to the bathwater, and was quite amazed at the creamy substance coming out of the pop-sock. So I used the sock like a sponge on my arm, and the cream actually did sooth the burn. I then thought, hey I like the feel of this, so as an experiment, I actually washed all over just using the oats. I then made sure I had rinsed off all the creamy substance before drying off. Now, I will admit, my skin did feel a little funny at first, but shortly afterward I was amazed at how smooth my skin was. I have since experimented further, and used this on my scalp (I have very bad psoriasis on my scalp), and I did notice an improvement. So you may laugh, but I'm the one with the silky-soft skin. So, to conclude my journey into porridgeville, why do I recommend porridge oats? Well. I can't think of any bad things about porridge, or any reason not to buy it, unless of course you don't like it, but even then, you could still buy it and have beautiful skin. As for cos
t, this will vary depending on where you purchase your oats, but one thing is for sure, it will be far less than you will pay for any other breakfast cereal.
I wasn't sure whether to put this recipe under Emergency Dinners or Soup, but I suppose most people wouldn't class soup as a dinner, although this one could be, so here we have Emergency Soup. My story begins on a cold winter night, when the gales were howling and the snow was drifting higher and higher. Suddenly, with no warning, we were in darkness. A power-cut. We lit a few candles, and waited, but after half an hour or so, it was evident we were in for a long haul, as is a regular feature when you live out in the wilds with overhead powerlines. The house grew colder as the central heating faded, so off hubbie went, torch in hand, out to the byre to collect some peat, which we keep there for emergencies. Soon we had a warming fire glowing in the lounge, and I had a sudden longing for a warming bowl of soup, so with oil lamp in hand, I set off for the kitchen. Thankfully my cooker runs on LPG (calor gas), but much use that was going to be when I found my vegetable rack almost empty. Two onions and a sad rubber carrot. But, soup I wanted, and soup I would have. So I checked the cupboards and the freezer, and soon I had what I thought might work, and the biggest pot I could find, which is even larger than my pressure cooker pot. So, with speed in mind, here is my recipe. MR STRONE SOUP. 4 Knor Pasta Stock Cubes (Chicken/Vegetable cubes also work) Use 2 cubes in normal pot. Half fill Pot with water Tin of Tomatoes Frozen Peas Frozen Cabbage Frozen Cauliflower Frozen any other vegetable you fancy 2 Onions chopped (or more or less depending on taste). Macaroni or any other pasta Tomato Puree Put stock cubes in water and bring to the boil. If chicken or vegetable cubes are used, I usually add some garlic or garlic paste. Add tin of tomatoes (I usually stick a knife in the tin and chop them up), chopped onions, then handfuls of each selected frozen veg. Next put in a couple of handf
uls of Pasta, stirring on and off thereafter to stop pasta from clumping. Add salt and pepper to your taste, and finally the whole tube or tin of tomato puree. At this point, once all the ingredients are in the pot, top up with water. Simmer for about 15 mins until pasta and veg are soft, and you have one large pot of Mr Strone soup. I usually add quite a lot of everything so that it is a very thick soup. To serve with the soup, toast some bread, and spread with butter (or your usual spread) which has some garlic paste mixed through it. A couple of bowls of this soup and a few slices of garlic toast, is a complete meal on it's own. Now you may wonder why I haven't given exact quantities, but that is the type of cook I am, especially when in a freezing kitchen lit only by a flickering light. I like to use the ingredients I prefer, and tend to judge quantities. I never use exact quantities, especially when making soup. So, go on, be brave, have a bash at making your very own Mr Strone Soup. You could even try it with all the lights out and a couple of flickering candles.
This is the most difficult opinion I have ever written, because of the painful memories it brings back, but I feel it is something I must do, and I'm grateful that opinion sites like Dooyoo are giving me a voice. The name of this drug, Rimadyl, sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it, but in truth it should not be the medication itself which affects me, but the arrogance of many veterinary surgeons who administer it without taking proper precautions, or discussing the pros and cons of its use with the owners of their patients. HISTORY OF RIMADYL. Rimadyl (carprofen),is an anti-inflammatory drug along the lines of Ibuprofen, and is used for pain relief in conditions such as arthritits, painful joints etc., in dogs. Developer, Roche Laboratories initially planned to market it for humans in 1988 and even received FDA approval, but then shelved the idea as they claimed the market for such drugs was too crowded. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this action though, was because some outside experts expressed concerns about unusual liver-function readings in 14% to 20% of the test subjects. Now. having spent so much money on the development of the drug, the idea of just scrapping the whole project did not appeal to the company at all. Then they came up with the idea of switching the product to the animal-drug market. A couple of corporate transactions later, and Rimadyl was in the hands of Pfizer's animal-drug unit. Next came the kind of sophisticated marketing Pfizer does well, and a survey of 885 dog owners revealed what they already knew; the vast majority of the owners surveyed were willing to pay "whatever it took", to give painrelief and perhaps add a couple more years to their aging pet's life. The Federal Drugs Administration requires testing for animal-drugs just as for human ones, but animal-drug tests are smaller, and only about 500 dogs were given Rimadyl in various trials, which
is about a fifth of the number of subjects in comparable human-drug trials. Here some dogs showed unusual liver-function readings and one young beagle on a high dose actually died, but for the most part, the FDA and Pfizer didn't find the side effects alarming, and the drug was approved for an early-1997 launch. Anyway, when the drug was finally released, after a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, vets were floored by the drug's effects, many claiming the results were close to miraculous. Now, as with all medications, some side-effects were evident, but after the drug's full first year, it was emerging that Rimadyl had more problems than most. Reports about Rimadyl came in by the hundreds. The FDA had received just over 3,000 animal-drug bad-reaction reports in 1996, the year before Rimadyl's launch; but in 1998, the drug's first full year, Rimadyl alone produced more than that many. MY EXPERIENCE OF RIMADYL. In August 2000, my Blue Merle Sheltie, Hamish, seemed suddenly to have lost his bounce. He appeared to be walking ok, and no pain was evident, but he no longer jumped up on the sofa or his favourite chair. As he was due for his annual booster, I mentioned my concern to the vet during the visit, but after an examination she said she could find nothing wrong with him and he was probably just overweight. She came to this conclusion without actually weighing him, but he had an exceptional coat, even for a sheltie, which made him look double the size he actually was, and he weighed less than my mum's sheltie who was still bouncing about fine, so I didn't bother too much about the weight issue, and was relieved that she could find nothing else wrong with him. A couple of months passed, and by now it was the end of November, but Hamish in my view was still not himself, so I returned to the vet. Again she said she could find nothing wrong with him, but ended up giving him an injectio
n and sent me home with some tablets to see if this helped. I had to ask what exactly he was getting, and was told it was some anti-inflammatory drug which may help him. I said I would rather he had an x-ray just to see if there was a problem, but she insisted he try out this drug for a week first. This all happened on the Friday afternoon. That night he seemed very sleepy, and I put this down to the injection, but he was still eager for his dinner. Hamish loved his food, and it would take more than an injection to change that. On Saturday I began giving him the tablets he had been prescribed, and he no longer seemed as sleepy, but back to normal. On Sunday he still appeared to be doing well, but that night, for the first time in his life, he did not finish his dinner, and even refused his doggie biscuits. By Tuesday, Hamish had stopped eating altogether, and nothing would tempt him. I was a bit concerned, and although I suspected he may just have a tummy bug, I decided to withhold his medication just in case it was a reaction to the drug. First thing on Wednesday morning I had him back to the vet. Perhaps he has a blockage of the bowel, was the reaction this time, because he was a bit tender in this area on examination, and no, the tablets would not have caused any problems as they were extensively used and didn't have side-effects like this. So I left Hamish to have his x-ray to check out his bowels. That afternoon I went back to collect him and was greeted with good news and bad news. First off, there was no blockage and everything there was in order, but, it was found he had hip dysplasia. This is when the hips no longer fit into the pelvic sockets, and in his case the sockets themselves were worn away. He would have to have major surgery I was told, and they believed that although it was bad, they could help him. Fine, that was a worry, but why has he stopped eating? This had them all baffled, but they decided to take a bl
ood test t o see if that produced any answers. Meanwhile, I was told to continue with his medication untill the blood results came back. Back home, I still felt uncomfortable about giving him the tablets, so I decided against it. Hamish would still eat nothing. Then on Thursday afternoon I received a call from the vet to say she had the results of his blood tests. It was not good news. The results showed Hamish was in renal failure, which basically means his kidneys were not working. The next few weeks was a nightmare I will never forget, and even now I can't talk about it any further other than to say Hamish did not recover. Now you may think this is sad, but I should remember the good things, and the years we had together. HAMISH WAS TWO YEARS OLD. I realise that it would appear that Hamish, due to the severity of his hip dysplasia, did have health problems, but what Rimadyl can do is ulcerate the lining of the stomach, causing internal bleeding and prevent the dog from eating due to the pain. The other side-effects related to the drug are renal and liver damage. WHAT I UNCOVERED. Initially, I refused to give up on Hamish, and one of the things which baffled both the vets and myself, was the not eating. Even if he did have renal failure, this was not usually how the illness presented, and indeed not how it proceeded. So I used the internet to see if I could find anything or anyone who could help, and after endless, fruitless, searches, I came across a story which sounded identical to mine. Then I looked further on this site and found more, and what all these people were blaming was a drug called Rimadyl. Now at his point, the name, Rimadyl, meant nothing to me, but out of curiousity I dug out my receipts from the vet detailing the medications Hamish had been given; and there it was. The initial injection and tablets he had been given was Rimadyl. Coincidence? I called my vet immediately regarding
this, but she t o this day denys this drug caused any problems. So is Rimadyl a killer drug or not? To write here all the pros and cons on this drug would take forever, so I'll just give some of the guidelines the company which make the drug have issued. They believe it is as safe as any other drug in this catagory, but maintain that a veterinary surgeon should always discuss the possible side-effects with the pet owner before it is prescribed. There is also a leaflet that accompanies the drug which should always be given out with any tablets prescribed. Now although my experience involved renal failure, the most prevalent side-effect is in fact liver damage, which for some reason affects labradors and retrievers more than any other breed. It should also be established whether the patient has any underlying liver or kidney problems before treatment begins, and regular blood tests are advised throughout the period of use. Now, although my experience with this drug was bad, there are thousands of dog owners who swear by it. It has given many dogs a better, painfree, life, so therefore I would not say avoid it if it is suitable for your pet. What I am saying is, look at the pros and cons first, and make an educated decision. What I hope to achieve with this opinion, is general awareness of what your pet is being given. Contrary to the advice of the manufacturer, many vets do not discuss this drug's use, and administer it quite freely. I myself would never entertain Rimadyl ever again, and even though my vet knows this, my border collie had a lump removed a couple of weeks ago, and when I read the invoice detailing her treatment, I was very angry to find she had been given Rimadyl as a post-operative analgesic. So if by writing this, I save even one dog from suffering or dying needlessly, I will be happy. For anyone who is interested in finding out more about this drug, I have added the following links, although a sear
ch engine will bring hundreds more. This link is for the actual leaflet which comes with the drug. http://www.pfizer.com/ah/mypet/mydog/dhealth/dripkg.html This one is about a lawsuit against the company, and other links. http://www.gooddogmagazine.com/rimadyllawsuit.htm I should also have mentioned that Rimadyl is LETHAL to cats. Several cases have been reported of cats accidently getting hold of these tablets, and not one has survived. So please take care if you use this drug.
**Update at end of opinion** Now, as many people may already know, Ciao, the other opinion site similar to Dooyoo, has recently made some drastic changes which affects their members. Many members are very angry, not only at the changes, but in the way the whole situation was handled. The notification was sent out to members late on the Saturday evening, informing them that the changes would be implemented at midnight. Dooyoo have made recent changes too, some of you may think. Well keep reading and see where the comparisons end. So let's start with how Ciao broke the news to it's members. They waited until the news of the Online Star awards were announced, then let it rip. BTW, the results of the aforementioned awards were:- Chats & Community. www.uboot.com......13366 www.ciao.com..........8211 www.dooyoo.com....6284. Oh, and Google won hands down in the Search Engine catagory. Now, while awaiting these results, I'm sure Ciao enlisted the help of Baldrick, from Blackadder, who had a 'Cunning Plan', along the lines of, "Throw everything you can think of at them at once and confuse everybody. By the time they realise what's hit them, the dastardly deed will be done". This notification which was 'cunningly' entitled, New Ciao bonus programme, was also worded in such a way, it was like a speech a headmaster would deliver to Primary One pupils. So what is this new bonus programme? Well the old bonus programme has been re-evaluated in order to, a) Control spending. (fine, that's at least honest), b) Reducing abuse. (oh, really?), c) Improve website quality. (???). Now, the notice claims these features are aimed at all Ciao sites, but hey, those in the UK are special, and are getting extra features, to make the site more 'Interesting 'and 'Convenient' Right then, here we go with the special changes which will make th
e UK site more 'Interesting and Convenient'. 1. Submission of opinions will no longer be paid, and readings will be paid 1p per read, but only in certain catagories, (those with coloured bands).The catagories are as follows:- The first list is categories which now pay per read; the second list is exceptions to the first list, which will not be paid. A total of 21629 products are currently paid per read. Note: all categories are eligible for Premium Fund payments. 1.Categories to be paid per read: -Banking and Personal Finance -Cars and Motorbikes -Electronics and Photography -Health and Beauty -Family -Telecommunications -Food and Beverage (new) 2. EXCEPT: -Banking and Personal Finance/Information Sources -Banking and Personal Finance/Member Advice -Banking and Personal Finance/Funds and Trusts -Cars and Motorbikes/Motoring Resources -Cars & Motorbikes/Motoring Issues -Computers/Computer Resources -Electronics and Photography/Member Advice -Health and Beauty/Spas & Beauty Clinics -Health and Beauty/Member Advice -Family/Member Advice -Telecommunications/Member Advice Well I will admit, when I read this I found it very interesting. I certainly didn't find it convenient, in fact it was interesting only because I found it inconvenient. I had to laugh though, when I read the bottom of this section. "For more information, please see the Make Money page". Great, I thought, a new catagory; Members Advice on Forgery. Well let's face it, that's about the only way many are going to make any money on Ciao from now on. 2. The Premium Fund will be reorganized to reach twice as many members, ranging from £30 to 12p, even though we're halving the amount we normally pay out. (the PF in the past has been a sum of £2000, which is secretly awarded to members for exceptional opinions.A bit like doo
yoo crowns only ranging from £15 to £1). Now I found this one very interesting too, but this will only be convenient for the £30 jackpot winner, and probably an insult to those who get the booby prize of 12p. If they must cut the total amount paid out, why not make it fair to all members. Why not give 1100 top opinions £1 each instead of awarding a select few and thumbing their nose at the rest. These top few (Ciao tend to pay the larger awards mainly to established members), may produce consistant quality ops, but they alone cannot keep the site going, and that's what very well may happen. Regarding the new Banded Catagories, Ciao are now saying it's members can write in any catagory as before, but only certain ones will merit the new 1p per read.(see above list). By implementing this Ciao are actually dictating what members must write, as very few are willing to write for nothing. This is like saying to Stephen King that from now on all his novels must be Romances, and Barbara Cartland (yes, I know she's gone), must only write Science Fiction. Now if they don't do this, their books will be published, but they won't earn a bean. So here we have Ciao members in the same situation, but what about the consumers Ciao hope will increase their use of the site? I'm sure these consumers will love reading about what products some male member uses to remove his mascara or his nail varnish. Now let's take it a step further. What if these same consumers want to know something about the latest film, book or CD releases? They won't find these answers on Ciao, BUT, they will on Dooyoo, where there is a vast amount of this type of information, which is being updated daily. So perhaps some of these consumers will decide to use Dooyoo in future, as everything they need is there for them. What will happen to Ciao then? The other wonderful change Ciao have introduced, having already done so on their European sites,
is a Community Points system. They describe it as follows:- Ciao UK is now instituting Community Points, a system already used in the other European Ciaos to recognise a member's contribution to the community. Actions which help the community, such as writing Very Helpful opinions, earn a member a certain number of points, which register in the colour of the dot which appears next to the member's name. New members have white dots; the members with the highest level of participation in Ciao can eventually earn orange dots. Here is an example of how Ciao members are now valued, and how their coloured status is achieved. For every Opinion written..30points Comments written...3points Ratings given...1point Readings received...2points Very Helpful...6points Helpful...3points Fairly Helpful...-6points Unhelpful...-12points Members who Trust you...80points You then add up your total, and your colour dot status is as follows:- Community Status Levels. level 1 white from 0 Community Points level 2 green from 1.000 Community Points level 3 blue from 5.000 Community Points level 4 violet from 10.000 Community Points level 5 red from 20.000 Community Points level 6 orange from 50.000 Community Points So members are now all colour coded and placed in little boxes. I believe the term for this is 'Depersonalization'. Not only does it strip members of their identity, but can increase abuse and lead to very unfair treatment of those in the lower coloured ranks. It can also paint a very false picture. I know it may appear, and indeed is meant to show, which members are active in the community and which ones aren't. Well having had a day or two to examine this scenario, it obviously doesn't work. I have found, for instance, churners with red dots, who have hardly rated anything, but achieved this status
by all the 30 points they made by churning alone. One of those I came across appears to have only Helpful for every op. Then you have those who are Blue or Green. What does this mean? Well actually it can mean anything. It may be a new member who is working hard, or it could be a churner who is doing nothing but churn. I have also noted several comments made by some who claim they are reading and rating as much as they can to move up to the next coloured dot. Then again, I believe this was all part of the initial 'cunning' plan. Members were all supposed to be so excited about upgrading their colour status, that perhaps they wouldn't bother too much about the other issues. (Baldrick is into psychology now too). Anyway, that's my view on the Community Points. I don't like being classed as a number or a colour. If someone wants to know how active a member is in the community, it only takes seconds to click onto the members page, and a quick glance will tell you all you need to know. So there you have it, the new interesting and convenient changes at Ciao. Dooyoo are also having to implement changes at the moment, due to the financial climate, and we may not be too happy about it, but at least we are not being asked to write for nothing, and are being treated like rational human beings, and not like idiots. UPDATE. 17/11/01 In November, Ciao will begin the new Premium Fund of £1100 per month. According to the original plan, prizes were to begin at 12p in order to reach a larger number of writers. However, they have received e-mails from some members who have expressed concern that a 12p award is insufficient to reward quality. Based on this feedback, they have redesigned the distribution so that the prizes will begin at 50p. The top prizes under the new system will still be £30 (three prizes) and £20 (ten prizes), as previously announced. So, credit where credit's due, Ciao have at le
ast listened to the members, and at the end of the day, 50p may not be a fortune, but it's better than 12p.
When I hear the expression, 'face mask', I immediately think of the ones you buy in the shops for halloween, with the elastic round the back of your head. So I suppose a Liz Earle face mask could be seen as something you put on which makes you look like Liz Earle; but alas it doesn't quite work that way. In fact when you put on any 'beauty' face mask, you usually end up looking more like Casper the friendly ghost, or an alien from outer space. So why bother? To many of you big macho lads reading this, a face mask is just one of those obscure girlie things anyway, but you are quite wrong. A face mask is actually a deeper cleansing of the skin than you can achieve by using soap and water (which no-one should ever use on their face, as soap strips your skin of all it's natural oils), or any other cleansing lotions or potions. Depending on which skin type you have, a face mask can unclog, cleanse and tighten pores, feed and nourish the skin, and many other things which benefit everyone no matter what sex you are. WHO IS LIZ EARLE? Liz Earle was originally a beauty editor, whose job was trying out new cosmetics and skincare products. Now Liz is into natural ingredients, essential oils, herbalisms and the like, and she noticed that the ingredients she was coming across day-to-day weren't as natural and beneficial as she felt they could be, and that not everybody could afford the so-called top of the range products. So she set about doing some research of her own and then approached pharmacists and dermatologists with some ideas, which finally resulted in her own brand - using natural active ingredients and trying to keep the products affordable. She now has a range of products which tend to be very good for all skin types, but as a special bonus they also can be beneficial for those with skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis. BRIGHTENING TREATMENT. This is a skin "pick-me-up"
which works best when your skin is feeling particularly dull. It differs slightly from regular face masks, as the application time is only 2 minutes, as opposed to 5 minutes plus with others. It contains pure Aloe Vera and a blend of essential oils. You use only one pump, and apply onto a cleansed face. As with any face mask, do not use near the eyes or on sensitive parts of the skin. Leave on for 2 minutes and then dip your muslin cloth (you get 2 free muslin cloths with the product), in warm water and gently wipe off. You may get a slight tingling sensation, and your skin may be flushed looking. This is why many people are put off this product, as they believe this is an allergic reation, but this is in fact what the product aims to do. One of the minor ingredients in Brightening Treatment is Chinese Camphor, which has the effect of being a vasodilator. This is when the blood vessels widen, bringing more blood to the area, hence the tingling sensation and the flushed look. This effect does not last very long, but that short spurt bring extra nutrients etc., to the facial area, and really does make you feel more awake. Brightening Treatment Ingredients Water Aloe Barbadensis Gel Montmorillonite Witch Hazel PEG-20 Stearate Silt Sweet Almond Oil Cetearyl Octanoate Panthenol Cetearyl Alcohol Camphor Fragrance Phenoxyethanol Methylparaben Butylparaben Ethylparaben Propylparaben MY EXPERIENCE OF BRIGHTENING TREATMENT. The Liz Earle Range is not readily available in your local chemist, so it was not something I was aware of until one night I was flicking about on TV trying to find something to watch, (I am very hard to please), when I landed on QVC (the shopping channel). It had just gone midnight, and this is when they promote their TSV (today's special value) items. On this occassion the TSV was a goodie bag filled with Liz Earle products. It all sounded like good stuff
to me, so half an hour later I was back to looking for something to watch, and my order with QVC was being processed. When my Liz Earle goodies arrived, I tried them all out one by one, and I must say I was very impressed. Brightening Treatment comes in a 50ml (1.7fl.oz) pump container, in the usual Liz Earle pale blue colour. The actual product is a pale greeny-grey colour, and smells pleasant and fresh. The first time I tried it, I must admit I thought I was having an allergic reaction. A few seconds after application, my face began to tingle, then when I removed it with the muslin cloth, I was presented with a big red face in the mirror. Brightening Treatment, I thought, I'll glow in the dark! I immediately reached for another Liz Earle product from my goodie bag, the soothing skin toner, and walloped that on to try and counteract the effect. Within a minute ar two my face was back to normal, and I must admit my face did feel really good. Since then I have used this product about once a month, as I have quite a dry skin, but would probably use it more often if I had an oily skin. CONCLUSION. As an occassional product, Brightening Treatment has a good result, but at about £9.50 a time, I feel it is quite expensive. It probably comes in near the bottom on my list of Liz Earle products. If I find another TSV goodie bag of Liz Earle stuff, and this item is amongst them, fine, I'll use it, but I don't think I would specifically buy this product on it's own. If you want to try some of the Liz Earle range, check out QVC for special offers, or go to the following links where you can buy online. Regular QVC price, 2 X 50mls for £19 plus £2.45 P&P. http://www.qvcuk.com/ Or you can try this other link where it sells for £9 for 50mls.(I don't know P&P) http://www.brownsfashion.com/lizearleshop.html
Thomas Harris is a very private man, and little is known of his background, or even his life in general, but what little I can find at least gives a little insight into the man behind Hannibal the Cannibal. Harris was born in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1940, to William and Polly Harris, then, at a very young age, his family moved to Richmond, Mississippi, his father's hometown, where his father became a farmer. In Jackson, he attended Clarksdale High School, where his mother was a biology teacher, and spent most of his time reading and writing. His favoutite author at the time was Hemmingway. He then attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he studied for his English major during the day, and worked as a police reporter for the local newspaper, News-Tribune, at night, but found this job very boring. It was also at this point he married his sweetheart, and fellow student, Harriet, and they went on to produce a daughter, Anne, before finally divorcing in the 60s. It was during this period in his life, Harris began to pursue his writing career, sending macabre short stories to magazines such as True and Argosy. According to friends, these stories exhibited the beginning of the now typical Harris trademarks, most notably his incredible, but at times over the top, attention to detail. When he finally graduated in 1964, he spent some time traveling in Europe before he began work as either an editor, or a general-assignment reporter, (depending on which bio info you read), for the Associated Press in New York, from 1968 to 1974. It was this job that gave him the valuable insights into the world of crime, and also led to the writing of his first novel. Black Sunday (1975), is the story of Arab terrorists and a Vietnam veteran, who commandeer the Goodyear Blimp to use in an attempt to bomb the Super Bowl. The storyline was a combined effort, thought up by Harris and two other reporters, Sam Maull and Dick Riley. Initial
ly they researched and began writing the story together, but eventually Harris alone took over the project. When the book was finally sold to Putnam, the three split the advances, but it was Harris who eventually reaped the rewards, and acclaim, for the novel, which received mixed reviews, but became a bestseller and made into a film. Suddenly, Harris had a new career. Harris now devoted himself full-time to writing fiction, but unlike most other suspense writers, who release a new book each year, Harris takes several years between publications. He claims this is because he spends so much time researching each book, ensuring he gets his facts right, and striving for perfection. So therefore, his next novel, Red Dragon, was not completed until six years later in 1981. Red Dragon tells the story of an FBI agent's search for a serial killer. It also introduces Harris' most popular character to the world: psychiatrist turned psychopath, Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter, a man with a unique idea about what a prime cut of meat is. Red Dragon was turned into the film, Manhunter, by Michael Mann, and paved the way for Harris' most popular novel to date, The Silence of the Lambs. The Silence of the Lambs, (1988), is considered by many to be a masterpiece of psychological suspense. It tells the story of female FBI trainee, Clarice Starling's search for a crazed killer named Buffalo Bill, who is killing young women so he can use their skin to make a coat. In her quest, she is introduced to Lecter, who knows what is going on in the mind of Buffalo Bill, and how he thinks, and is willing to trade information in return for information about Clarice herself. The novel attempts to delve deep into the psychotic mind, and show that people can be mad and brilliant at the same time. It is also intended to paint a realistic portrait of a strong-willed female who lets down her defenses and make herself vulnerable in order to capture a
killer. Now although I enjoyed this book, I felt the Starling character was pretty unstable to start with, and the portrayal of Lecter, with cages and masks, quite unrealistic, but hey, it is the good old UK psychiatric system I know and worked in, and perhaps the US really is about 50 years behind the times. Anyway, the novel convinced enough people to make it a bestseller. The Silence of the Lambs, like Harris' other novels, was a bestseller, but it also became a nationwide phenomenon when Jonathan Demme adapted it into a film. This received outstanding reviews and became a box-office smash, which incidently saved the movie company Orion from going into bankruptcy. All three of Harris' books then enjoyed a revival, due to the success of the film, but it did not stop there. The Silence of the Lambs became only the third movie ever to win the top five awards: best actor (Anthony Hopkins), best actress (Jodie Foster), best screenplay (Ted Tally), best director (Jonathan Demme), and best picture. Thomas Harris then disappeared again, as he does so well, claiming he was working on his latest novel. Time passed, and some began to suspect the new Harris novel would never materialise. Then eleven years later, in 1999, Harris finally published the long-awaited sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, aptly named Hannibal. Many critics were divided in their reaction to this novel, claiming he went too far with the blood and gore, but I personally disliked it because I felt he went too far with other detailed descriptions. To me it was like reading a Psychotic Aga Saga. Whole chapters were dedicated to what Hannibal liked to eat, and why, and how he cooked it; what plates he ate off and where he purchased them, and why, and so on. I actually at one point threw the book across the room into the wastebin. Anyway, without ever even asking my views on the subject, the film industry saw only dollar signs, and the new film, Hannibal, was s
oon in production. There were initially a few setbacks when both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, having read the script, turned down the parts, but eventually Hopkins agreed to star in the film when the money offered was upped. Jodie Foster however still refused to be part of the venture, even refusing the extra money, as she felt her part was too weak, and quite unbelievable at times. Hannibal, although popular, never quite equalled The Silence of the Lambs at the box office, so this time it may be the end of the line for him. ( see, they should have asked me.) So there we have Thomas Harris to date. Not a very interesting man, I grant you. What of his future novels? Who knows. All I feel is, this enigmatic author poses more questions than answers, and I will finish with these thoughts; why is he so secretive; how can he describe so well what it feels like to carve up a victim and also what they taste like; and most importantly of all, what exactly is he doing during these years he disappears while doing his research???
Most of us, one way or another, have come across the work of Michael Crichton, be it his books, films or TV series, but how many of us really know who he is? I myself originally thought he was just an author who had a talent for research, but have since found there is much more to Crichton than this. At 6'9" tall, he is in fact a giant in more ways than one. John Michael Crichton was born in Chicago on the 23rd of October 1942. He was a top basketball player in High School (he was 6' 7" by 10th grade) and he graduated from Roslyn High School in 1960. Crichton then decided he wanted to go to Harvard University and become a writer, but Harvard proved to be very disheartening for him. Ironically, his writing style was severely criticized and his grades hovered around a C. By the time he was eighteen years old, he had come to the conclusion that it was Harvard, and not he, that was wrong. To prove his point, he retyped an old essay of George Orwell's and submitted it as his own, and his professor, not realising his plagiarism, gave Orwell a B-. Crichton had thus proved that the Harvard English Department was just being hard on him, and decided to study anthropology instead. After graduating from Harvard in 1965, with a major in anthropology, Crichton, who was now twenty-three, became a visiting lecturer in anthropology at Cambridge University, in England. Crichton also at this time, won a Henry Russell Shaw Fellowship which enabled him to travel in Europe and North Africa for a year. When he finally returned to America, Crichton decided he would like to train as a doctor, and although he eventually graduated with an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969, he never actually became a practitioner of medicine. It was really a strange choice of vocation for one so squeamish at the site of blood, and although he almost threw the towel in on several occasions, he was always persuaded to give it another try Now as
I stated earlier, Crichton had originally gone to Harvard with the intentions of becoming a writer, and although he gave up on the English Department there, he did not abandon his ambitions. In fact he paid his way through medical school by writing thrillers under various names. As John Lange he wrote; Odds On....Scratch One....Easy Go....Zero Cool....Venom Business....Grave Descend....Drug of Choice. which were all spy thrillers. Another book he wrote during his medical days under the name of Jeffery Hudson was, A Case of Need, in which he lightly disguised references to people at Harvard, and they weren't all complementary. So, Crichton could have been in trouble when his book won the Edgar Award for the Best Mystery of the Year, because in the book he claims that grades at Harvard were given according to the staff's informal opinion of the student. Luckily for him, due to his pseudonym, he was never found out. It was during Crichton's final year at medical school that his novel The Andromeda Strain was published. This became a best-seller which Crichton managed to sell to Hollywood, and he gained a celebrity status around the hospital which he did not particularly want, but it did help him get the hospital directors cooperation in researching his first non-fiction publication, Five Patients: The Hospital Explained, which brought him the acclaim of, 1970 Medical Writer of the Year by The Association of American Medical Writers. Finally, after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Science in La Jolla, California (1969-1970), Chrichton quit his career to take up writing full time. So let's now have a look at Crichton's success as an author. One of his major abilities is explaining complex concepts in very simple terms, enabling the reader to understand what is happening as they travel with him through his novels, whether they involve the cutting edge of science, technology or vagu
e cultures. His research is always meticulous, and he can really make the reader believe that even the most far-fetched ideas are possible. In his early works, most of his books dealt with his retelling of literary classics. The Andromeda Strain is influenced by H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, Congo uses Sir Henry Rider Haggard's classic King Solomon's Mines, while Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is clearly evident in The Terminal Man, and Eaters of the Dead is a form of Beowulf. (this one became the film The 13th Warrior). Moving on from there though, he has since taken topics like cultures, as in Rising Sun and male sexual harassment in Disclosure. Crichtons talents do not end in writing novels, but venture into other areas such as screenplays and directing films. He is also the Creator and Executive Producer of the TV series ER, which has one several awards for both the series and himself. He is also a computer expert, and in 1983, wrote one of the first books on information technology, called Electronic Life. At one time he even ran his own software company, Film Track, which was used by major studios to perform budgeting and scheduling functions for film and television projects. In 1982 he also created a computer game called Amazon. Crichton also loves to travel, and his auto-biography, called Travels, is about his many travels across the globe, which include trips to Bangkok, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kilimanjaro, Jamaica, and New Guinea. As an avid collector of modern art, he has written a biography of contemporary artists Jasper Johns. He also admits to having had many experiences in the 'psychic' and 'spiritual' realms and doing such 'mystical' things as seeing auras, spoon bending, and even an exorcism. So, there you have it, a little background of the man behind the pen, and I suppose the moral of this story is; If you have an ambition in life, go for it. I just wonder what all the
39;experts' at the Harvard University English Department think of Michael Crichton now?
Kenneth E. Hagin, known to his followers as a 'Prophet', is believed to be the founding father of the Word Of Faith Movement. (that credit actually goes to E.W. Kenyon, but that's another story). Hagin is viewed by this Movement as a true prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hagin has no college education nor seminary training, and yet his teachings are accepted without question by his followers, and in fact he is acknowledged as their true spiritual father. Why you may ask, has he reached such stature? Well Brother Hagin is a very special man who has had many visionary encounters with Jesus Christ himself, whereby he was not only given the gift of healing the sick, but Jesus communicates through him, telling him how to further his teachings and develop his ministry here on earth. Kenneth Hagin is a born-again Christian, but like no other, and he explains how it all came about, in his short book, I Went To Hell. CONTENT. As a lifelong member of the Southern Baptist Church, Kenneth Hagin had been brought up to be a devout Christian. He was also a very sickly child who suffered from a deformed heart and an incurable blood disease. As the years passed he became weaker and weaker, and by the age of 15, he was bedridden and dying. Then at 7.40pm on the 22nd of April 1933, he knew his time had come:- "Then the inner man rushed out and left my body lying dead. . .I have proof that I was actually dead. My eyes were set, my heart stopped beating. . .Finally, below me, I could see lights flickering on the walls of the caverns of the damned, caused by the fires of hell. . .Upon reaching the bottom of the pit, a voice spoke from far above the blackness... I don't know if it was the voice of God, Jesus, or an angel" Throughout his experience, he claims he did not lose consciousness, and although he could see his family in the room, he could not communicate with them. Then finally he arrived back on
the porch, where he floated through the wall, then back into his body, where he could at last talk to his grandmother who had been holding him. "My heart stopped beating for the second time. . .I leaped out of my body and began to descend: down, down down. . .The voice spoke from heaven and again my spirit came up out of that place" This time he surfaced at the foot of his bed, and could actually see his own body lying there. He somehow knew though that his ordeal had not ended, and this time left some parting words with his family. Then:- "...my heart stopped for the third time. I leaped out of my body and began to descend. . .Thank God that voice spoke. I don't know who it was . . .I began to pray, "O God! I come to you in the Name of Lord Jesus Christ. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and to cleanse me from all sin. . .That was the very hour I was born again due to the mercy of God through the prayers of my mother." Hagin finally returned and entered his body for the third time. Shortly afterwards he completely recovered from his lifethreatening illnesses. WHAT IS THE BOOK ACTUALLY SAYING. Well, Hagin is saying that these experiences actually happened to him and proves that, a) he died, b)he went to Hell, c) he was born again while out of his body. He equates his experience of having died three times to the fact that in the bible, Jesus raised three people from the dead, but in essence what he is really saying is he, like Jesus, died a sinner, and was raised from the dead a born-again righteous man. There is of course much more to this little book, and indeed to the man himself, but to find out more, you should read the book. <br>I must also stress here, that this book, as indeed the Word Of Faith Movement itself, is not widely accepted by other Christian Movements. If you are toying with reading this book, I would suggest you check out the followi
ng links first to see if you agree with the principles behind their teachings, as many Christians may find them offensive to their own beliefs. For the Word Of Faith Movement go to:- http://www.discernment.org/WOF.htm Kenneth Hagin and his sons also run a large worldwide organisation called RHEMA, and you will find the link below. Here you will find out all about his teachings and can even buy I Went To Hell, price $1, code 257, from the online bookstore. You can also make donations online. http://www.rhema.org/khm/index.html Would I recommend reading this book? Well, if like me you are interested in how various religions function, where their doctrines come from, how they differ and the history behind them, yes. If on the other hand you are mainstream Church of Scotland, Church of England, Roman Catholic etc., I would say probably not.
John Grisham is one of the world's top bestselling authors, so much so, that his books have the legend 'The New Bestseller from John Grisham', splattered across the cover, even before they reach the bookshops. As a lawyer who writes 'legal' fiction, Grisham has proved the adage, 'stick to what you know', and utilizes his knowledge to the full. His books have been so successful that most have been made into films, so why has he suddenly decided to ignore his successful formula, by writing A Painted House? Has he suddenly become arrogant through previous success, and believes he can write anything, or could it be that in fact he is again writing what he knows, as this book was apparently inspired by his own childhood background in rural Arkansas. THE PLOT. "Pappy and Gran had been renting the land since before the Great Depression, which arrived early and stayed late in rural Arkansas. After thirty years of backbreaking labour, they had managed to purchase from Mr Vogel the house and the three acres around it. They also owned the John Deere tractor, two disks, a seed planter, a cotton trailer, a flatbed trailer, two mules, a wagon and the truck." A Painted House is written in a first person, past tense, narrative, from the perspective of a seven year old boy, Luke Chandler. Luke's family are cotton farmers, and the whole story is centred around the picking season of 1952, which is towards the end of the cotton industry. It is basically a portrait of life in the rural South in the 1950s, seen through the eyes of Luke, and although he is young, the adult perspective comes through by means of him witnessing and spying on the adults in his life. It also covers the interactions of the various migrant workers who pick the cotton on the farm. DOES IT WORK? Well, yes and no. Grisham is not, and has never claimed to be a literary genius. His books are mainstream, and will never atta
in 'classic' status, and neither will A Painted House. Take young Luke; he is the one narrating the story, but no seven year old could think or indeed speak as he does in the book. So one assumes it is written by him as a reflecting adult, so that sorts that out, or does it? There is no denying the inquisitiveness of a seven year old, but in the book there are instances where you question if one so young would really be interested in what was happening, and the outcome. So I felt that some of his thoughts did not really equate to a seven year old. I don't feel either that Grisham really develops the characters in the book. He creates them with ample room to flesh out, then leaves them in limbo. There are also times where he slips up and recounts, for example, conversations that Luke could not possibly have heard. He also occasionally slips from first to third person narration. Leaving aside the actual characters, Grisham does a good job on the plot. He develops a storyline with mystery, tension and a good helping of twists and turns. He even manages to throw in a couple of murders and some intriguing secrets. The problem here is, he doesn't see everything through to the end, and I closed the book feeling let down. CONCLUSION. I feel John Grisham should stick to his 'legal' thrillers. He has had a brave attempt at changing genres, and has failed. If you want a quick, basic read, which touches on an era in history, fine, but don't start on this book thinking 'Grapes of Wrath'. The fact that everybody and their granny are giving this book away free at the moment, surely says it all. It would be impossible to state publisher and cost for this book as the rights have been sold to many publishing companies, and therefore prices vary. With regards to the book being 'free', various book clubs and also some retailers are at present offering this book free when you
make further purchases.
Leonard Cohen..."Who's he?" some of the younger members reading this may ask. " It's that guy from the 60s and 70s, whose records were always played at the end of a party when the hosts decided it was time for the guests to leave. Nobody could empty a room better than Leonard Cohen." the older members reply with wisdom. And so endeth this opinion for many; but for those who did like Leonard, or who are interested to learn more...read on. Leonard Norman Cohen was born in Montreal, Canada, on the 21st of September 1934. At the age of 17, he formed a Country and Western trio called the Buckskin Boys, but soon realised this was not really him. It was while studying at McGill University that he developed his love of, and his ability to write poetry, and so his future aspirations lay in becoming a minor poet. In 1956 he published his first collection of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies, but it was after his second published collection, The Spicebox Of Earth was released in 1961, he finally received international recognition. Leonard then travelled through Europe before finally settling on the Greek island of Hydra, where he remained on and off for the next few years. Throughout this time, he continued writing, and in 1964 he published his controvertial collection of poetry called Flowers for Hitler. He also wrote two highly acclaimed novels, The Favourite Game (1963), and Beautiful Losers (1966). The Boston Globe wrote of these, " James Joyce is not dead. He is living in Montreal under the name of Cohen." Becoming restless again, he then moved to Nashville to pursue a musical career, and was discovered by Judy Collins, who recorded two of the songs he had written, Suzanne and Dress Rehearsal Rag, for her 1966 album In My Life. In 1967, Leonard appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, where he was recruited by the legendary John Hammond, who also introduced people like Billy Holiday and
Bob Dylan to the Columbia label. By Christmas that year Cohen released his first album, The Songs Of Leonard Cohen. This was followed by Songs From A Room (1969), and Songs Of Love And Hate (1971). This was the era, and these were the albums that really introduced Leonard Cohen to the world. The music scene at this time was a perfect platform for him, because unlike today, music festivals then, covered every type of music from folk to country and western to pop to rock, one after the other on the same stage, to the same audience. So Leonard Cohen was presented to a wide audience and appealed to certain segments of groups with different musical tastes. I personally was never much of a folk music fan, but I have all the above original albums. Now, for those of you who have never heard Leonard Cohen, I suppose I should be telling you about his wonderful singing voice.....eh, excuse me a minute.... ."Will you lot stop laughing please. This is my op." Right, where was I? Ah yes, Leonard's wonderful singing voice. Well....he has a deep voice, and....ok, let's just say when hearing him for the first time it can sound like a dirge. He is a poet, not a singer, but remember, Bob's a Builder, and he got to number one in the charts twice. So I think we have established that Leonard Cohen is not a singer, as such, but for those of us who are on his wavelength, that is unimportant. There is just something about his songs, and the words, that you feel, rather than hear. He is different, and there is no midway; you either love him or you hate him, and the only way to decide how you feel is to listen to him for yourself. Anyway, although many people think he disappeared from the scene, this is far from true. He has continued writting and recording, and there have been many cover versions of his songs recorded by people like Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, Joe Cocker, Nick Cave, Rita Coolidge, Bono, Sting and Pete Gabrie
l. In fact Jennifer Warren's 1986 album Famous Blue Raincoat, is an entire album of Cohen's work. In 1992, a number of contemporary artists collaborated on a tribute to Leonard Cohen with an 18 song, cover collection album called, I'm Your Fan, featuring artists like REM, Ian McCulloch, House of Love, John Cale, Lloyd Cole, The Pixies and Nick Cave. So our Leonard is far from obscure today. In 1993, having continued touring and writing, Leonard suffered more and more bouts of depression, so he entered a Buddhist Monastery, Mount Baldy, in California, where he remained for seven years, but throughout this time he still published, Strange Music, the most complete text available of his poetry and songs, in 1993, and two further albums. So it is now 2001, and Leonard is 67 years old. He's had a good run for his money, you may think, and due a well earned retirement. Well not quite. In fact he has a new album due for release in October called, appropriately, Ten New Songs. He has worked on this album with long time friend Sharon Robinson, who arranged, produced and performs some of the vocals. For long term Cohen fans, there was another album released this year which may bring back memories. It is, Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979, which was recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, and the Dome Theatre, Brighton, during his worldwide tour that year. Maybe some of you, or your parents, were even there. So, for old fans, here is your chance to reacquaint yourself with the magic of Leonard Cohen, and for the younger generation, your chance to meet a legend. (But listen to him before buying, just in case he is not for you) For those who remember Famous Blue Raincoat, this is for you:- It's four in the morning, the end of December I'm writing you now just to see if you're better New York is cold, but I like where I'm living There's music on Clinton
Street all through the evening. I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record. Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair She said that you gave it to her That night that you planned to go clear Did you ever go clear?
This is a topic I didn't really pay much heed to, as I thought it didn't really affect me, but today it did. Like most people on the internet, I surf the net, I join sites, enter competitions, and basically give out my email address to many. In return we all get junk mail from companies, but probably, like me, just delete it all. Today though, I thought I had another of these advertisements from a company I hear from once a month, only this was different. The following is what I received:- A friend forwarded this to me. It is well done. This, from a Canadian newspaper, no less, is worth sharing. "This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States. When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it. When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped. The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans. I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly A
merican Planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon - not once, but several times and safely home again. You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here. When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke. I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake. Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those." Stand proud, America! I was really angry when I received this. What was the sender trying to achieve? Would a Canadian paper really print something like this? I didn't think so, and checking further I found they hadn't. This is in fact part of a transcript from a broadcast on CFRB, Toronto, Ontario, from June 5th 1973, which has been doctored to fit the present crisis. The whole thing can be found at this link:- http://www.rcc.ryerso
n.ca/ccf/news/unique/am_text.html Now, the company I received this from is American, and the biggest majority of their clients are American, and in my view this was sent to stir up anger in America, but then again, it also made me angry, so if this is being sent worldwide, what kind of reaction is it achieving? This email was sent in a totally different format from what I usually receive, and the company sells antiques. So I don't believe this was from the company itself, but from an employee using the system. I immediately wrote back to the company and told them what I thought, and to remove me from their mailing list. The point here is, how would you feel if you ran a company and one of your employees was using your customer mailing list for things like this? So I now believe laws should be enforced whereby employees emails can be monitored. This email may not contain 'target' words like bombs or assassination, but I believe this is a very dangerous weapon, which could stir up a lot of anger and hatred at this present time. UPDATE: I have just received an email from the company in question, apologising for the email I received, and assuring me the person responsible is being dealt with appropriately.
Djangos.com claims to be the home of movies and music, but as it is an American company, I look on it more for music. It sells new and used videos, DVDs and CDs, but the videos and DVDs are sold in US format so the videos are not PAL and the DVDs are Region 1 which is fine if you have a machine that accepts them. So on the whole, for the UK, the main bargain source is in CDs. Djangos is one of those rare companies that have been around a while, and have moved with the times. It all began over 25 years ago with their first store in Portland, where they sold new and used movies and music. The concept was so successful that over time they have expanded and now also have stores in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego. With the arrival of the internet they have now expanded into the worldwide market. How the system works is simple but effective. All the stores are connected via the internet, and all the stock sits in one big bank. Instore, customers use booths giving them the same access as someone using the internet site at home. So without getting too technical, this is my experience so far of Djangos. I initially went to look at the site for cheap DVDs and also to see if they had a particular one I couldn't get here. I was looking for Rammstein Live Aus Berlin in region 2 format, so I used the search facility, and hey presto, they had it in both new and used. Great, I thought, then I remembered it was an American site, so I checked out the formats and found both videos and DVDs were suitable for US and Canada. I wish I actually knew which format my DVD player accepts, because it says in the instruction manual I will find the region written on the back of the machine, but when I looked there is nothing there. So maybe I have one of the players that takes any format. If anyone out there knows anything about this, please let me know. Anyway, I was a bit disappointed about not being able to buy cheap films, but I headed back
to the home page to see what they had in music. First off they claim if you buy at least $50 worth of used items there is free worldwide shipping. I liked that. Next I noticed, if you buy $50 worth of used CDs you get $10 dollars discount. I liked that as well. So I figured if I spent $60 dollars on CDs, I would get $10 off, leaving $50 total which qualified for free posting. Right, let's have a look at the selection. You can select your music type by genre, artist or band, top sellers, legends, and they even have a list of thousands of CDs at $4.99. So I put in the band I was looking for and was taken to all they had in CDs, DVDs and vidoes for that particular band. Here you will find a Bio, and if looking at the CDs, a list of all the albums they have. For each album there is a list of tracks and there is also the feature Amazon have where you can listen to selected tracks before purchase. All these albums can be bought new, but there is also a used option. If they have a used one in stock you can select to put it in your basket, but if not in stock there is a 'notify me' button, whereby an email will be sent to you when it becomes available. All items placed in your basket during your visit will remain there for 2 hours, then be returned to the stock list if you have not completed your puchase, as there may be others wanting to buy the item, which may be the only one they have. Several of my purchases for example went straight onto 'notify me' status after I completed my transaction. On the whole they had every band or artist you can think of, both old and new, and then some. The used items are guaranteed to be in mint condition and you can have a refund or replacement if not 100% satisfied. The prices for the used CDs range from $4.99 to $9.99 on the whole, but some special editions may be a little more. I ended up with 8 CDs, one of them a double, for $61, less my $10 and free shipping. The proceedure for purchase is again
similar to Amazon, where you join Djangos and give them your address and Visa details. You will then receive updates on new deals they have. In fact I got one this morning saying they have extended the free shipping to both new and used items. As I said previously, this company works on the premise that all five of it's stores become one, so the shipping of my 8 CDs are coming from various sites. I have 2 from Portland, 2 from San Diego etc,. All items are shipped within 24 hours, and you are notified when they are shipped, and I expect to recieve them in one to two weeks. I will update and let you know. On the whole I was very impressed with the site, it is easy to navigate and you know where you are at all times. They have a fantastic stock range, and there is an online helpdesk, constantly manned, for any queries. Maybe not everyone can afford to buy $50 worth of items at a time, but it would perhaps be useful for a group of friends, students, etc, who could club together and make it worth their while. They also have a scheme where if you run one of their banners on your webpage, you will receive 10% of any sales directly from this. Oh, and they have a great competition running at the moment. All you do is give them your email address, so they can send you their newsletter, and you could win $1000 worth of goods. Now thats a lotta music. I have found the above link to Djangos doesn't work, so cut and paste the address below. http://www.djangomusic.com/home.asp UPDATE. Having ordered the CDs mentioned above on the 10th of September, I received the first 2 on the 21st of September, and the rest on the 22nd of September. All were in 'as-new' condition. I was expecting this delivery to be delayed, due to the present crisis in the US, so was pleased when the CDs arrived so quickly.