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Sometimes when I am driving in and around London I wish that I had invested in a Sherman Tank rather than the Audi that I currently have. At least that way I would be able to get a little respect on the road, rather than being faced by ignorant drivers who have no manners, and those that think they are competing for the Run the Gauntlet driving rally. Personally I am not a person that actually suffers from the severe type of road rage that you here about more and more frequently in the news at the moment. I rarely use my horn and am extremely tolerant of the liberties that many other drivers take in my right of way. I do not shout or swear at people, and keep all of my fingers on the steering wheel rather then waving a variety of them out of the window at people that decide that they would rather be in front of me than behind. However I do get frustrated and annoyed, and this can often lead to me driving a little faster and more erratically for the next few miles than I would have done before my encounter. If you actually think about it the stirrings of road rage can actually be linked to the amount of accidents on the road today. For example, you are stuck in yet another traffic jam on the way home, and all of a sudden a driver pulls across in front of you using no form of indication, and then dives in front of another road user doing exactly the same thing. You end up getting annoyed at their inconsiderate behaviour and bad driving, as do many of the other individuals in the traffic that have also had the same done to them. What this driver has ultimately done by driving as if he/she were in the qualifying rounds of Daytona 2002 is cause the individual that they have just 'cut up' to become more frustrated that they are stuck in traffic. A catalyst has been started and the little demon within them known now so commonly as road rage starts to stir. When the traffic has eventually cleared, and you start to get under way you are still left infuriated at what has just taken place, plus with the addition of having been stuck in that traffic jam makes your temper brew even more dangerously. You are now officially angry and in a rage. As a result you start to drive a bit like the idiot that has just done this to you, and find that your speed is more than a little in excess of what it should be. At this point one of two things can happen depending on the type of person you are, if like me you will start to calm down now that you have vented some of that pent up anger and will return to normal safe driver mode. However the other type of person is the dangerous element on the road, this person has fed off the rage and remains furious, they will drive fast and ultimately cause an accident. When this happens they will shout and rant, and may even get physical with the other driver; at this point the road rage demon has a hold of you. As you can see, a simple act of stupidity can result in an accident and violence. Unfortunately with the growing number of cars on the roads and the lack of maintenance and traffic signals to control the flow of vehicles you cannot blame people for getting worked up, and this also explains the growing number of incidents of road rage that we see today. As I mentioned earlier I myself do not really suffer that badly from the syndrome, but I have been pushed very close a number of times. The things that really infuriate me are the lack of manners that around 30% of road users have. When I let someone into traffic, or let him or her carry out a dodgy manoeuvre all I expect is a gesture of gratitude, even a nod of acknowledgement will suffice. I always manage to do it, so what makes it so hard for them? The other thing that annoys me is dangerous driving, such as swerving in and out of traffic. It gets my blood boiling as these people drive around like nutters and never have an accident, yet I drive around safely and people keep aiming their cars at me! Wha t follows are two accounts of road rage, one I witnessed in person, as I was the passenger, and one that my friend witnessed. The first was when I was with a close friend of mine, she was driving near Brent Cross Shopping Centre when another female driver pulled out in front of us from a roundabout causing my friend to brake suddenly to avoid running into the other driver. My friend sounded her horn, this caused the driver who was in the wrong to put her fingers up and look in the rear view mirror, obviously screaming obscenities at us. Little did I know that my normally calm friend was about to do a Jekyll and Hyde on me. She put her foot down on the accelerator and came to within a foot from the back of the woman driver. What followed was a chase at speed until the car in front came to a halt and the female driver got out of the car. My friend also got out and they proceeded to have a slanging match in the middle of a busy flyover. I thought that the situation was about to come to blows so I got out, and not being the smallest of blokes walked over and told the pair of them that that was enough. My friend was persuaded to get back into the car. I told the other woman to go, she decided to add some colourful language until I gave her a look that soon made her realise I wasn't going to put up with any abuse. She returned to her vehicle and left. I got back in my friend’s car and we got back under way. I asked her what had happened, and she couldn't actually explain it, she said the she felt something click in her head and that sheer adrenaline and anger had taken over. I know for a fact that she uses her horn quite a bit and swears at other drivers on occasion, but she has never done anything like this before. Once she had calmed down some more she actually felt embarrassed about what she had done, and realised that others had seen the commotion. As a result she has never done anything like this again. The second example is as I say one that I heard about, and this one is far more extreme and worrying. It took place in Harlesdon in London and involved an estate car and a Luton van (the ones with the big boxes mounted on the back with the draw down door). What happened was that for some reason the estate rolled back into the van when it had obviously seen it beforehand. The driver of the van got out and an argument followed. The driver of the estate and his passenger got out and a fight followed. Outnumbered the van driver got back into the van, whilst the two men tried to get in to continue to assault him, they also proceeded in kicking in the van out of frustration. Whilst this was going on the driver of the van managed to get it started and drove his van back into the estate, hitting it at about 15 MPH causing damage to the back. He then drove off. The two men got back into the estate and drove after him. They caught up with him due to traffic a few hundred yards up and once again got out and started pounding on the van trying to get to the driver. The driver put his van into reverse and much faster this time once again rammed into the estate, this time the front. What follows just goes to show what road rage can make a person or persons do out of blinding rage. The two estate guys started to pull bricks off of a nearby wall and threw them at the van. One of them was trying to break the class in the cab and attack the driver. Knowing what they were up to the van driver pulled off the road into a drive trying to avoid them. But there was not enough room for him to manoeuvre the van. At this point one of the two men went in front of the van and started to pelt it with bricks trying to shatter the windscreen, somehow it withheld the attack. However the van driver was not going to wait for this to happen, and with a screech of rubber he suddenly pulled forward and ran straight into the man throwing bricks, the impact threw him back in the air about 10 feet. What is hard to beli eve is that this man who had just been run over by a one and a half-ton vehicle got up rather groggily and continued to throw stones. The van driver went at him again and narrowly missed him as the man staggered out of the way of being knocked down again. The van driver at this point decided to make his get away, and drove off, and once again the two men followed, what happened afterwards is not known. As you can see the way in which road rage can escalate into extreme acts of violence is unbelievable, but so very real. I mean take into consideration what had happened, the two vehicles were ramming into each other on a busy main road with other cars and pedestrians around. Therefore showing complete disregard for anyone else’s safety or property. Then a man who has been knocked down at a fair speed gets up, so driven by rage, to continue his onslaught on the van. What I ask drives these people? How can rational human beings turn into violent psychopaths in the blink of an eye? It is safe to say that if the driver of the van had have got out and confronted the two men again it is certain enough that someone would have been killed or at the least hospitalised. I can not condone road rage, as it is in my eyes completely unnecessary. Cars are mere objects that can very easily, however costly, be replaced. However if whilst gripped with the adrenaline charged psychosis of road rage you end up beating an individual to death, there life and the loss of that person to their families cannot so easily be replaced. At the end of the day these people that go for tyre irons during a road dispute rather than calmly acknowledging that a few apologetic words will solve the problem must appreciate that cars are just materialistic objects; readily available and at no great cost. Not as valuable or irreplaceable as a human life. I urge all road users out there to after reading this opinion try to control the beast within. I know it lurks in all of us, I have felt it many times myself, but I have managed to keep a very tight leash on it. As if you do succumb to its hatred then you may not realise what you are doing, but you will be held accountable for your actions. Drive safely everyone.
I have been waiting and waiting to get a Playstation 2 for ages now, and finally reached the desired amount thanks to all my reads from my loyal friends and comrades on Dooyoo. (Thanks to everyone, I have spent many a night playing and thinking of you all, excuse me while I wipe a grateful tear from my blurry eye). The cheque came through the door and with that I went out to a well-established shopping centre and looked at the electrical outlets to decide who would be the lucky recipient of my hard earned cash. After a browsing for a little while in some well-known retailers I stumbled into the newly refurbished Dixons store. I tell you I may as well have been a slab of beef handed to some drooling ravenous dogs the way that I was pounced upon when I was eyeing up their Playstation 2 offers. A young assistant approached me and asked if I was interested in buying one. As I started to nod a piece of paper was thrust into my face, so close that the text on it was actually blurred, and as I have 20/20 vision that means that he was practically using the thing to blow my nose with. This might have been handy at the time as I have a cold, but not what I had intended for that particular visit. Once he had calmed down a little and taken the paper away from my face, this was before I had wedged my foot into one of his orifices in annoyance, he started to waffle away all of the Playstation 2 offers that where available to me the 'valued' customer. Currently Dixons are offering the following offers on there Playstation 2's: £199 for just the console. £219 for the Gran Turismo Pack. £229 for the console and any game of your choice. Whoooaa hold it right there, how much? That’s right £229 for the console and any game. At this point I pressed the stop button on the automated sales assistant and asked him to clarify this for me. He was kind enough to as he tried to eagerly drag me to the till. I decid ed to accept this particular offer as I already had the legendary Gran Turismo 3 from a previous online offer and fancied something else to play as well. I prised myself from the grasp of the now sweating in anticipation sales assistant, explaining to him that if I was going to get this offer then shouldn't I then chose a game to go with it? He looked stunned for a second then vigorously nodded in approval and subsequently ran off to get me my Playstation 2. Ah finally some peace and quite to contemplate what type of game I fancied. To say that they had a very small selection would be an understatement. I have seen more selection in a packet of Revel's. So I had a slightly longer ponder than I had initially hoped for. And before I could really consider what to get, yep you guessed it, I smelt a brief odour of sulphur, and the sales assistant popped up from nowhere with a game title in his hand. 'How about this one sir?' was his question. To start with it looked like a game for 5-year-old, and as the offer was for £229 the game he had chosen was only £19.99. My girlfriend pointed this out to him, stating the obvious that the pack would be £10 more expensive if we were going to take him up on his offer. He looked trapped and scurried away. I decided to go with a game called 'Shadow of Memories', it looked ok, and as I said they didn't have that much to pick from. I walked to the till where my trusty sales assistant was waiting for me, along with a sales girl on the till who looked as if she had drunk at least 15 cans of Red Bull just to keep her eyes open. As she slowly scanned the items through my good friend presented me with a £39.99 optional insurance offer for my Playstation2, it would last me an extra year more than my guarantee. Ah ha! So here was the catch, this apparently kind, and yet highly annoying young fellow was trying to get me to spend even more money on Dixons own insurance. This was obviously where they made their money in selling these items. I politely smiled at the boy and responded 'No Thank You', and with that he snarled and vanished in a puff of smoke. I had done it; I had fulfilled my small dream of owning the most powerful console in existence! But my happy ending was not to come as soon as I had hoped. I returned home and opened the game that I had just bought in haste to get away from the unfriendly, promotion orientated sales assistant. I read the instruction manual and it dawned on me that this game actually sounded really boring. But I had opened the cellophane coating, could I still return it like this? With that I travelled back to my friends at Dixons and I was about to find out what a few days and a couple of hundred pounds less spending can do to a friendship! I started in the same position as before, at their Playstation 2 stand, and within seconds an assistant hovered towards me, luckily not the same one as before me or he would have ended up having a rather untimely demise. I was greeted with the usual 'Can I help you with anything sir', I explained my predicament to the member of staff adding that I had not even played the game but would like an exchange. After I had finished explaining my situation the look on the assistants face was similar to that as if I had told him that I had trod in some foul smelling mess and would like him to lick it from the sole of my shoe. He exclaimed that he would have to ask his manager and I was escorted to the rear of the store where the, I presume Branch Manager, was lounging in a high stool watching the T.V's that were on display. The assistant said I had a problem and then walked off leaving me to once again explain my situation. I was expecting a better service from the Manager but to my astonishment received the same look of disgust, making me feel as if I had stole the game and had not paid for it in the first place. He looked for scratch es and fingerprints on the disk explaining ‘any marks and no refund!’. Of course there weren't any there as I had not even taken it out of the box, but he had a damn good look anyway. When he was finally finished he scribbled his name on my receipt and told me to go to the till with another game and the girl would do it for me there. I walked back to the front of the shop, made my decision in peace, and then proceeded to the check out point where there was a girl ready to serve me. Or at least I thought she was, I had to wait for her to finish making two phonecall's, first one to what sounded like a friend, and another to a customer. When her attention was finally directed to me 5 minutes after I had initially got there she proceeded in making three separate till errors and then I finally had my game. Being polite as always I said 'Cheers', but she had already turned away and failed to acknowledge my gratitude. I considered making a complaint about this to the manager, but remembered what he had just previously treated me like. So I left extremely annoyed (watered down version, as dooyoo censorship will not allow me to illustrate my true anger). Now explain this to me, the minute I was willing to part with my hard-earned cash I may as well have been a God for the way that I was treated by their staff. But when I come to do a simple exchange I am treated like scum and as if I am a criminal. I used to place trust in Dixon's as they are a big name and I have purchased a few cheaper items from them in the past. However with the level of customer service and respect that I have received from them in the last few days I would not step foot in their door ever again. I also have the mind to take back the whole bundle and get a refund. And the nice smiley McDaddy that you all love so dearly might just turn into the heaving whoop ass McDaddy that you wish you had never met. I have talked to a couple of friends and co lleagues about my experience at Dixons, and to my surprise they all concur that they too have received appalling service from them, unless of course they are making large or expensive purchases. This company needs to buck up its ideas sharpish, as the current market position and economic environment will not allow for stores to patronise and demean their customers in this way any longer. I am sorry if I have gone on a bit, and as those of you who know me will appreciate that this is not the usual stance of the McDaddy. So I suggest staying away from Dixons as the service is terrible, the selection is officially poor, and you can get it elsewhere cheaper. For example I have found out from a friend that WHSmith are doing the same offer for £219. I might just have to get that refund after all. Take care all, thanks for reading, and most importantly watch yourselves out there, its a dangerous World ;->
I don't honestly know how long I can cope writing this opinion; this is due to the fact that since last night I have not been able to stop drooling for a period longer than three minutes. I am also guilty of making whooshing noises and whistles when changing the gears in my car. The reason for this is that last night I was in car heaven, I was in the cinema watching the action packed, high octane fuelled, Nitro burning extravaganza! Also known also as 'The Fast and the Furious'. And to any guys or girls out there who liked the spills and thrills of 'Gone in 60 seconds', I can quite honestly say that this film leaves it very far behind in a huge cloud of exhaust and gritty dust! The film starts rather tamely at a dock with a ship unloading its cargo of DVD players and video cameras onto the back of an awaiting truck. Then a rather shady looking worker makes a quick call of his mobile to let someone know that the 'shipment' has arrived. It is at this point that the 'key in the engine is turned' so to speak and we are taken on a very fast ride for the next 107 minutes. The Truck is unexpectedly car jacked by three extremely fast and well driven modified black Honda Civic's, and when I say modified I mean modified. Whoever made this film must have been a major car enthusiast! All of the three cars have been completely rebuilt, all with computer controlled fuel injection systems, dump valve gear change, and Nitro burners. For anyone unfamiliar with what a Nitro burner actually is, I shall now explain. In this country it is illegal to have Nitro, or Nitrous Oxide, fitted to your vehicle, as it allows a car to accelerate to up to speeds of 170MPH in a few seconds depending on the vehicle. It burns in the same way that fuel does on a jet fighter so you can appreciate the reason why the government have banned it here (they are such party poopers :-<) One example of a vehicle that has such a Nitro system fitted is t he Dodge Viper; capable of speeds of up to 200MPH due to its Nitrous Oxide enhanced thrust. Anyway back to the movie. As I was saying these three Civic's proceed in hijacking the truck at speed and driving off with its contents. The film then changes and we are now sat in a little coffee shop run by brother and sister duo Dominic and Mia Toretto (played by Vin Diesel from 'Pitch Black', and Jordana Brewster from 'The Faculty'), a hang out for Dominic's team of elite street racers. The team comprises of Dominic the leader, and five other drivers who rule the roads with speed and precision built cars. As you can imagine their lifestyles are as fast and dangerous as their cars, and as a result do not appreciate strangers and new faces in their territory. And this is what appearing innocently enough Brian Spillner (played by Paul Walker from 'The Skulls') has to contend with when he comes to get his Tuna Sandwich from Mia every day. If there is any romantic subplot in the film this is between Mia and Brian, and that is only on for about 2 minutes. I warn you now people that this is not a movie for the lovey dovey couple to hold hands to. There is no romance, no sweet whispering in the ears, just raw speed. As it was the case however, I had taken my girlfriend with me to see this and you will find out at the end of this opinion what both of us thought about this movie. As would be expected the team doesn't take kindly to Brian and a scuffle erupts, Dom breaks it up and Brian is determined to earn his respect and become a part of the elite team. However Brian is not all he appears. He is really Brian O'Connor, an undercover cop working for the police and the FBI in an attempt to infiltrate and bring to justice the group who has been hijacking the truckers, before they turn into vigilantes and take matters into their own hands. So how do you impress a speed freak with a super car? Yep you guessed it, you beat him a t his own game. So that same evening Brian enters into the street race of his life against Dom and three other racers with cars that make you just want to scream with delight. I heard one guy who was sitting behind us moan when one of the stereos in the cars was turned on and you were greeted with the low hum of Dolby digital bass. Personally I was more impressed with the laptop that Brian was using to control the use of Nitro in his car. Once the police scanner confirmed that the area was free of activity the signal was given. And with that the race had begun, with Brian desperately trying to win for the money and prove himself to Dom, and to make matters worse he has entered his car in as the entry fee of $2000 so if he loses the winner takes his $80,000 beast. Brian drives both himself and his car to the limit, with bursts of Nitro known as NOS, and his P.C beeping wildly telling him that his manifold is about to give way. At the end of the race it is pretty safe to say that his car would have been crying from the punishment if it had had the chance. However there is no real time to reflect as just as the race ends the police catch wind of the street race and send in a multitude of squad cars to break it up and arrest the ringleader Dom. In a burst of exhaust and a cloud of tyre smoke around a hundred cars are gone in seconds. Dom knows that he is the one that the police are after, and hides his car in a car park and decides to make the rest of the journey on foot so he doesn?t lose his pride and joy if he is arrested. And as his luck would have it a squad car notices him straight away. He makes a run for it but has no real chance on foot, that is until a car screams to a halt behind him, his saviour has appeared in the form of Brian. Together they lose the police, but are then encountered by an even greater, life-threatening situation. They are surrounded by bikes, with each driver holding an automatic machine pistol, and are directed to an ind ustrial park. It is here that we are introduced to the sinister Johnny Tran (played by Rick Yune), a long time archrival of Dom due to racing and Dom sleeping with his sister. After the initial threats Tran leaves, only to turn around and shoot up Brian?s car, blowing it up. As you can imagine Brian is not best pleased, but he has achieved what he set out to do and earned the trust, and what will turn out to be true friendship, of Dom. It is after this event that Brian is torn on his judgement, who is responsible for the robberies on the trucks? Is it Dom, who appears to be too relaxed and controlled, and after already spending time in prison swears never to go back. On the other hand is it Tran, who appears to be organised and ruthless with the funds and resources to pull of the jobs. Either way Brian only has a few days to crack the ring before he is pulled of the case and the FBI takes matters into their own hands, as will the Truckers. I am sorry if I have gone a bit in depth here, but this is quite literally only the first thirty minutes of the film, and is also the entire framework for the story. In their direction Rob Cohen and John Ireland realised that when making a film about cars that can achieve speeds beyond belief the last thing that the audience who would be coming to see it is a love story. And in this movie they well and truly deliver. I was astonished to see some of the work that had been done on the cars that were being displayed in the film. One comment that was made I could have quite easily believed, 'He must have over $100,000 under the hood of that car, and you want to race him?'. In parts there was some non car related scenes, these did add in making the story, and kept the audience on track with the events; it was almost like a summary every 30 minutes on what has just flashed before your eyes in case you missed it. I can thoroughly say that during its running there was not one dull moment in this film, and if the re wasn't a moment of high paced action there was plenty of cars for everyone to drool over and envy during the wait. In a round up this is definitely a film for the car lovers out there, and I hate to say it but this is going to probably end up being a film for the guys. Its not all cars, there is some eye candy there for the guys in the form of Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez (from 'Girlfight') who plays Dom's girlfriend. But in all honesty I hardly noticed, as I was too busy looking at all of the super cars that they had on display. For the ladies, well my girlfriend was more impressed with Walker while my close friend was drooling over Diesel; I guess its down to whatever blows your whistle. All I did know was that every time a race came on, or there was some high speed action, my girlfriend just looked at me while I was chuckling like a fool and dribbling, I think she shook her head at me a few times in pity. Needless to say I didn't get dumped, even though she really didn't like it, and labelled it a lads film. She also put up with the car ride home, as me and my mate sat in the front making whoosh noises every time he changed gear and I kept on looking for the Nitro button. One thing that you do not want to do after this film is drive, not unless you have watched something else straight after in order to calm you down. Guys watch this, if you truly appreciate cars you will really enjoy this movie. Girls, I have it on good information that both Diesel and Walker look 'Hot' and 'Would not be kicked out of bed for farting', so if you are not a car lover you can watch these two in action for a few hours. However ladies, please humour us guys if we act a little strange in movies like this, and the making noises in the car only lasts for a couple of hours/days. Have fun!
To say that I have a twisted and warped sense of humour would probably be the biggest understatement known to man. If someone isn't being hurt or there are no scenes of depravity then I usually start to yawn. With these criteria in mind I took the new girlfriend to see Scary Movie 2, as I was very impressed with the first offering from the Wayans brothers. So I sat back as the lady munched on my salted....... Popcorn, and waited for the film to begin. And what followed was a rollercoaster ride of laughs and disappointment. The film starts with the introduction of the main venue in the film 'Hell House' an old building that has been invaded by the evils of the undead, and recreates the classic film 'The Exorcist'. The owner of the house (Played by Veronica Cartwright who was the wife who vomited all those cherry stones in the Witches of Eastwick) is holding a dinner party for her guests, similar to the scene in the a fore mentioned film. They are all singing songs around the piano, and to my surprise they start singing their version of Mystikal 'Shake ya Ass' with the priest supplying the music. For those of you who don't know this is a popular hip-hop tune which comes with the obligatory Parental Guidance sticker on the CD. This had me in stitches as if you have heard the original you would appreciate that this isn’t a song for an evening in with some sophisticated friends. To increase the laughs the girl who is being possessed comes down stairs and creates a small swimming pool on the carpet, and instead of being shocked the group start to commend her efforts. This calls for only one thing, a priest to rid the poor girl of this demonic spirit, originally Marlon Brando had been cast to play the evil challenging priest, but he however pulled out of the role at the last second. So the Wayan's had to find a replacement for the role of Father McFeeley to exorcise the evil demon, and in steps James Wo ods. The following ten minutes had me in tears. I will not spoil it for you but the good old Father is a bit amorous to say the least, and what follows is a projectile vomiting competition and McFeeley getting turned on by the long tongued antics of the demon. And then with a flash we are shown the movie title and then thrown from this sketch directly into the film, joining old favourites Cindy (played by Anna Faris) and Shorty (played by Marlon Wayans) at college carrying on there lives after the events in the first film. Everything is going fine for the pair, and Cindy is making an effort to be more 'hip' in an effort to be popular, doing so by inadvertently mugging a girl for her jacket. However in the true tradition of the first movie there is a small twist which leads them into a sticky situation. A professor on the campus (played by Tim Curry) is trying to resurrect the dormant spirits within Hell House in order to prove that paranormal spirits really do exist. To do this he needs some willing volunteers, and our unsuspecting friends are persuaded to stay in Hell House for the weekend. However they are not alone and are accompanied by some old and new faces such as Ray (played by Shawn Wayans) still as confused about his sexuality as before, and new face Theo (played by Kathleen Robertson) as the busty eye candy for the guys in the audience. This is when the film unfortunately becomes very hit and miss with its gags. The Wayans’ keep to their tradition of using a variety of spoofs from popular movies, some with great effect such as the Charlie’s Angels fight scene, and their interpretation of the motorbike sequence from Mission Impossible 2 except using wheelchairs to achieve this. Other than this they really do let the audience down with tired gags and repeats from the first film that just succeed in making it a little dull in places. In conclusion I had originally gone to see Moulin Rouge, but as it was sold o ut opted for this film instead as I was hoping for the same standard of quality that the Wayans dished out with their first offering. However after seeing the film it has left a strange taste in my mouth, as I did enjoy the movie but also found it a bit stale in places. Their downfall in making this movie is the sheer success and originality of the first, once you have a perfect combination of horror and comedy it is extremely hard to bake the same cake twice and still have people clambering for more. In my opinion this film is definitely worth seeing as it did make me laugh on many occasions, but it is one that may be better suited for the video shop rather than seeing it on the big screen. The gags will be just as funny and you won’t have to put up with some idiot next to you explaining everything to his girlfriend in a bid to impress her. No people not me, but someone next to me, I just can’t seem to avoid an event that annoys me when going to the cinema nowadays!
If any of you have read my opinion on the dire accommodation I stayed in whilst staying in the resort of Benalmadena in the Costa Del Sol you will already have a tinge of pity for me. However I am pleased to say that this was the only downside to my week away in sunny, sunny Spain. I have always been a bit unsure on whether or not to venture out to Spain as I have heard a mixture of opinions on the country. My friends and me wanted a break so decided to avoid the glizty club capital of Ibiza and steer towards something somewhat quieter, yet still have some form of nightlife. So we opted for the Costa Del Sol, which if I remember correctly, was the location where everyone used to go and party before the introduction of Ibiza and Ayia Napa. So off we went, the question was, was Spain ready for us? The resort of Benalmadena is really more like a bustling town, with car packed streets and plenty of shops if you fancy taking back some souvenirs or just want to buy some general bits and pieces. The streets are relatively clean, but be warned each one seems to smell differently. This was one of my biggest dislikes of the area of Benalmadena; it seemed to smell everywhere! Now don't laugh but each street also managed to smell different, one would smell of fish, another of donkeys (which was very strange as non were to be seen!) and also another would smell of sewage. The main reason’s for this is due to it being a coastal town, hence the fishy smell, and also they have not got a very sophisticated sewer network, plus this aids pain to misery as it is so hot that the smells get even worse. Being a resort on the Spanish coast there are a number of beaches for you to go to. We decided to venture upon one called 'Playa De Bil Bil', this choice was down to it looking bigger and cleaner than the others across the coast. The beach was clean, but it wasn't exactly golden sands, more like a murky brown, and much to my disapp ointment the water, although very clean, was not clear. Personally the full beach experience for me has to include golden sands and crystal clear water. We did however decide to slum it and make do. The water was surprisingly colder than I had expected with it being on average between 37-40 degrees during our stay. Also due to the murkiness of the water it was hard to know how deep you were walking out in the sea until you have a mouth full of salty water for your intrepidness. Apart from that the beach was very nice, and the authorities had provided users of the beach with sun beds and large umbrella's in case they are not sun worshippers. In terms of food, well you may as well stay in your hometown for the cuisine on offer, as most of the restaurants were either British owned or with a English menu. For example I managed to get steak and chips, McDonalds, Burger King and a KFC whilst I was there. We tried to find some traditional Spanish cuisine, but everywhere seemed to either sell just fish (not a personal favourite) or have a choice of your regular dishes that your mum has been cooking for dinner for years. Drinking was a very easy thing to do if you wanted to, as there were a number of bars in the area more than happy to fulfil all your alcoholic desires. The bonus was that drinks worked out to be around £1.20 for a shot and a mixer, and their shots were quite literally the equivalent of three times the British standard. So you can imagine I had to partake of this amazing offer on a couple of the nights that I was there. We did have a concern about the ice in the drinks, as it is recommended that you do not drink the water and only have mineral water to drink. However these worries were soon quashed as all of the bars get their ice supply from a company that filter their water before freezing. So the drinking continued. Well, as you can guess, three young attractive single blokes were only interested in one thing, that’s ri ght……. Clubbing. And I have to admit that even though Benalmadena was small, it more than catered for our needs. The main nightlife venue was a 30-minute walk from the apartments that we stayed in and was known as 24-Hour Square. This to coin a phrase, was where the action was at! The place itself quite literally is a square, all around the edges you will find a collection of bars on one side, with a late night McDonald’s, and on the adjacent side you have a choice of bars and three clubs. The breakdown of these are as follows: Mango: A variety of different music from house to RnB, the club is underground, but is well air-conditioned with two bars to buy drinks at. Entry is priced at £4. Zona: very much like Mango in terms of music, but they only have one large bar and no air-conditioning. It is above ground so you can still get some air whilst having a boogie. Entry is priced at £6. Disco Kui: This is a mainly Spanish club, and as a result they play local music and a mixture of popular chart hits. They also have two bars, air-conditioning and is much larger than the previous two. This is the last club in the row and is situated slightly around the corner after Zona, and is also situated above ground. Entry is priced at £6. Out of the three I preferred Mango as the atmosphere was more relaxed and the music was more varied. Also being the cheapest option also added to the choice. The only real issue I had with all of the clubs was the lack of age control on the doors, as we were surrounded by a range of 12-15 year olds, getting rather frisky and buying alcohol freely. I am not aware of the age restriction on entry to clubs in Spain, or of the legal age required to purchase alcohol. So it was quite worrying to see all these kids partying until the early hours, with no adult supervision to be seen (alright I know I am starting to sound like a bit of a Killjoy, but these were literally kiddies!). In ter ms of the bars we preferred to go to a choice of two, either the 'Attika Bar', or to the one above this, 'Beer Keller'. You will have to make your choice on the night depending on what the bar reps are offering that evening, it is usually a buy one get one free on drinks, or a free shot with your first drink that they use to try and entice you in. But again the atmosphere in each is nice, with a DJ playing a mixture of music for you to listen to whilst you get mildly intoxicated. Well that just about wraps up my stay in Benalmadena. I took £200 spending money with me and brought back £20, but I have to admit to watching my spending a little. In terms of cost you will find food and drink slightly cheaper to that in the UK, but all other things are similarly priced. The biggest bonus was taxi fares, much cheaper than what you would be able to get here. One warning however, make sure you check the price before you get in, as we forgot once and ended paying slightly extra than we were used to. I would recommend Benalmadena for a nice family break as it has a mixture of activities in or around the area for all the family. We did not venture out to any of theses but there is a big water park, a safari park, and excursions available to larger cities. You will be sure to find something that suits all the family. Hasta La Vista, baby!
Being highly overworked and under-paid I decided it was time for me to recharge my batteries and take a short break. So a few old friends and me had a look around on the trusty teletext holiday section and found 7 nights in a hotel called the Minerva Jupiter in Benalmadena situated in the Costa Del Sol. The price was reasonable and the pictures of the self catering apartments and the pool that they had on offer looked great, so with a quick phone call we were ready for our trip to sunny Spain. Upon arriving thinks started to look bad straight away, the Minerva Jupiter was actually made up of two separate and very large apartment blocks; we were situated in the Jupiter, that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a housing estate. After checking in at the desk, which took longer than we expected due to Pedro (this was really his name) failed to find our room key, we headed upstairs to our very own apartment. At first the door would not open, perhaps this was a sign from above, as when my friend finally managed to negotiate the lock on the door it swung open to what appeared to be the gateway to Hades itself! The room was absolutely dire, as you walked in you had the kitchen to the left of you, supplied with a Moulinoux Microchef oven to cook and grill with, and two electric hobs, which were attached to the side of the sink basin. Now correct me if I am wrong but if I remember correctly from my school days isn't mixing water with electricity a very bad thing to do? To your right was the bathroom, this was comprised of a bath/shower, a basin, bidet, and a toilet all crammed into a room about 6ft by 4ft. This was a little restrictive as the shortest of my mates is 5ft 9". We took two steps forward to what would become our living room, and sleeping quarters. The total size of which was around 10ft by 15ft. We were supplied with two very squeaky and weak beds, and a sofa bed. I made a dash for the bed but after my much lighter frie nd managed to break one of the boards supporting the bed by simply sitting on it I decided it best to opt for the sofa instead. We then headed out to the balcony, this wasn't too bad, as we could just about see the ocean over the other high-rise apartments in the area, and we had a couple plastic garden chairs and a table to sit at. As you can imagine for this time of year it was also very hot, but there was no sign of air conditioning or a fan. We enquired about this and were advised that we could hire one for the week. We refused, as in all honesty they were asking around an extra £6 pound for something that should have been supplied with the room. Don’t get me wrong I know that it isn’t much, and I am definitely not a skinflint (probably why I owe the bank so much money), but it was purely the principle of the matter. To put it bluntly we were far from impressed, and made a pact there and then to stay in the room as little as possible. So the next day we were went out in search of the luxurious pool which we had seen in the online brochure. This was much to our delight the case; the pool was built to cater for the two apartment blocks and as a result was extremely large, and very clean. It had a variety of different water depths, plus water slides and a smaller pool for the kids. There was plenty of space to sit down and catch the sun, and two bars for you to buy food and drink from. These however were avoided, as the prices were a lot steeper than we were prepared to pay when we had a shop outside selling the same things for half the price. We ended up spending most of the day sat at the pool. This was because going down to the beach was a bit of a mission as you had to abseil down and mountaineer back up due to all the slops and hills that they had decided to build the hotel on top of. In all seriousness the beach was only 700 metres away, but the hills made it uncomfortable to come back to the hotel as even cars struggled to get up them in first gear! Other than the pool the hotel had very little else to offer. They were situated directly opposite a supermarket which made shopping for our self catering holiday a lot easier, and an Internet cafe next door so I was able to pop into Dooyoo a few times as well, at around £1 for 15 minutes though! As it was a resort there were plenty of bars nearby and restaurants if you fancy eating out, but the hotel itself offered non of the facilities that they advertised via their section on the Internet. We were promised a bar, supermarket, restaurant, and other amenities. But on arrival and having a good hunt around, and then after asking at reception we were told that it was just the room and the swimming pool. It appears that in their advertising campaign they fail to mention that all of the things that they have to offer are actually a short walk from the hotel and not actually on the site itself. Our time at this hotel was a mixture of good and bad, the room seemed to suck out our wills to live, as every time we were in there we ended up falling a sleep. The maid came twice in the week to change the towels and not much else. And the cooking and cleaning facilities were a joke. The hobs took 10 minutes to even get slightly warm, and once you had achieved a heat that may warm your beans you discover that they have supplied you with a tin opener! And taking a shower turned into a game of Russian Roulette as each time you took one you risked being electrocuted as there was an electric wire exposed in the bathroom. On the good side there was the pool, and the balcony, but for what we had paid we were very disappointed. To sum up if you are intending to go on holiday to the Costa Del Sol, and to Benalmedena avoid this hotel like the plague, or else you have a very high chance of catching it! If you fancy a gander take a look for yourselves at the following address: www.skyhols.com and then select search, enter in 3 ad ults, no children, for seven nights and departing from Gatwick to the Costa Del Sol. This should present you with the option to see the Minerva Jupiter.
Right, now that I have got your attention I will endeavour to tell you a bit about the pussy in question. I'm talking about one mean pussy going by the sinister name of ..... Mr Tinkles! Mr Tinkles has taken it upon himself to rid the World of mans best friend, the canine species known lovingly to us all as the dog. He is to be treated with extreme caution, and will use any means necessary to achieve his maniacal conquest. Well that’s it folks, the simple yet hilariously funny plot of the long awaited Warner Brother release 'Cats and Dogs'. The film follows the legendary struggle between our four legged pets in the battle to save mankind. The film starts innocently enough with a dog doing what it does best, chasing a cat; that is until the dog is ambushed by a group of cats driving a van, and is subsequently ‘catnapped’. Hmmm, not the normal end to your usual chase around the block, but it is here that we discover that there is actually a great deal more than meets the eye. The dog in question is actually a special agent involved in an important mission for our equivalent of the secret service. And his disappearance has caused grave concern in the Canine Secret Service. Another agent of the Canine Cause, Butch the German Shepherd (voiced by Alec Baldwin) reports in and requests a replacement as a matter of urgency. This is all done by the way in his kennel, which is actually a disguise for his high tech base of operations. The Canine Cause jumps to the task and sets out sending Butch the reinforcements that he so desperately requires. And it is here that we are introduced, through a sheer twist of fate, to the hero of our story. In a small barn in the middle of a dusty farm we meet a bunch of Beagle puppies quite happily playing and waiting for a family to come and take them away so that they can carry out their purpose in life. They are all happy with their fate, except one, this particularly intr epid Beagle seeks adventure in the outside World and tries to escape. In doing so he knocks himself in to a daze and ends up under a tin bath for his troubles. Then out of nowhere a saw pops up through the floor and the unsuspecting Beagles are dragged into the darkness only to be replaced with trained Doberman puppy agents. They are aware that the dog who was catnapped owner is coming to the barn to pick a replacement, and they are ready to take his place. When the owner arrives she is a little stunned to see Doberman puppies, and almost picks one, until our hero makes an appearance. The Beagle is chosen and taken to his new home, the Brody's residence. Mrs Brody (played by Elizabeth Perkins) introduces Lou the Beagle (voiced by Tobey Maguire) to the family, Scott Brody (played by Alexander Pollock) and his mad scientist father Prof Brody (played by Jeff Goldblum). And so Lou begins his new life as the house pet. That is until Butch grabs him and subsequently believes that he is the new agent sent from headquarters. It however does not take Butch long to work out his error. However Lou is more than willing to take on the role, and headquarters agree that there is no alternative than for Lou to carry out the mission. It is now that we find out what the true importance of the Brody family really is. Prof Brody is working on a vaccine which will rid humans of all dog allergies, making them the World’s favourite pet. However such a cure would be disastrous for the feline World and Lou's job is to prevent the theft and destruction of the vaccine, and to make sure the Prof is successful in his work. But this will not be as easy for Lou as he thinks, as the canine World has a new deadly enemy to face. This nemesis comes in the form of a tubby white Persian cat, known as Mr Tinkles. Mr Tinkles (voiced by Sean Hayes) wants the vaccine for his own evil plan, with the vaccine in his hands he can alter it and make all humans allergic to dogs. This will lead to all canines being put to sleep and cats ruling the Earth. He is able to fund this plan by being the prized possession of a Mr Mason, who is a millionaire Christmas decorations maker. However Mason is oblivious to all that is going on around him as he is so old that he is on a life support machine, allowing Mr Tinkles to control his empire. And along with his top henchman Calico (voiced by Jon Lovitz) they will let no dog, or man for that matter, stand in their way. Lou is now faced with a choice, help save the canine World, or become the loyal and loving pet dog of Scott. To make matters worse he is torn between the two, as Butch tells him to do one thing, and a friendly stray in the form of a stray Saluki hound (voiced by Susan Sarandon) who urges him to stay with Scott as it will break his heart if he goes of to be a secret agent. So what will Lou decide to do? Well he hasn’t much time to really think about it as he is faced with the hilarious Ninja cat trio who try to get the better of him with their deadly kung fu. And the infiltration of the blue Russian kitty into the household in an attempt to get Lou out of the house by framing him with some fake dog poop, and then turning into a blade hurling assassin as soon as the Brody’s leave the house. This is one of the best scenes in the film as half way through the fight Mrs Brody returns, and everyone has to freeze as she gets her phone, this is just when the Russian is about to through a lethal surgical blade boomerang at Butch that is. The animal action in this film is great, and very funny, as it takes the eternal battle of the canine and feline specie to a whole new level. The explanation of how the conflict all began back in Egypt with the cats enslaving the Egyptians, and the dogs becoming their saviours is also a great twist. And the ‘sort of’ appearance of Charlton Heston as the head of the Canine Cause ‘MastiffR 17;, is a real treat, and adds a certain air of command to the canine order. It would be a crime not to mention the special effects in this movie, but I have to pay the film the highest respect for watch ability here, as the film is so visual intense you don’t truly have the time to appreciate what the guys have achieved with this movie. With a mixture of live animal shots, and computer animation, the animal cast are so believable I am having problems looking at my own pets now as I half expect them to sit up and ask me to change the channel on the T.V. To wrap this up I will close by saying that if you are a film going adult or child this film is a must, it has all of the right ingredients for a top movie. Action, adventure, excitement, comedy, and most important of all a very good storyline. And if you don’t want to see it then you will probably end up being led on a lead by on off you pets. Have fun!
"What you up to?", "Nothing much, you?", "The same, want to get out a movie?", "Yep can do, why don't you get out that new film 'Hollow Man'?", "Fine see you in half an hour". Its funny isn't it how a simple conversation such as this can lead to a really bad night in watching a movie. I was round at my cousin's house and gave my other cousin a ring; he was the one that suggested this movie. I had heard mixed things about the title but thought hey, why not, you only live once. I can tell you that by the end of the evening I decided never to use this colloquial motto ever again. The film centres around a group of scientists who has been given the task by the Government to make a person invisible, and then return them once again to view. And why would they want to do this, hmmm we can only hazard a guess. Leading this intrepid group is a scientist who is held and revered as a genius in his time, Sebastian Caine (played by Kevin Bacon). The only problem is that Caine's ego score is about as high, or even higher than that of his IQ. As a result his peers may respect him, but he is not particularly liked. And to make matters worse his ex-girlfriend is one of the scientists involved in the project, Linda McKay (played by Elizabeth Shue, which makes Caine behave even worse as he is desperate to win back her affections as he is jealous that she is now seeing another man. Unknowing to Caine at the start however is that the man that McKay has moved onto greener and better pastures with, it is another member of the team, Matt Kensington (played by Josh Brolin). And surprise, surprise, Kensington just happens to be his testosterone competition throughout the movie, with Caine usually getting the upper hand. The group has only received marginal success in the project, they have managed to make a number of animal subjects invisible, but bringing them back has not yet been successf ul. That is until one dreary night Caine stumbles upon the genetic solution, and hey presto the experiment on a very distressed gorilla is a complete success. However Caine craves success and the opportunity to be the first. So as a result he lies to his superiors and convinces them that the project needs more time. When he gets back to their secret lab he convinces McKay and Kensington to carry out the procedure on him. Caine gets as he asks and becomes the first man to become completely invisible, the only problem is that the reversal serum does not work as expected, and yes you guessed it folks he is stuck as Mr see-through personality. What follows is a race to get Caine back to his normal and loveable self, before he starts to lose his mind as many of the other subjects have after being invisible for too long. However Caine now realising the power that he posses at being the first invisible man decides to take a few short trips into the outside World, and decides that he likes things just the way they are. In order to stay this way he is going to have to eliminate the only evidence that he is actually invisible, his team. So Caine traps them in the lab and starts to pick them off one by one. Who will survive, the heroic scientists who are trying to right their wrongs, or the mad invisible scientist who is intent on having his own type of fun in the big wide World? Sounds like exciting stuff huh? Well in a way I would have to say that it is, the concept of the story line is good, and even though it is directed by Paul Verhoeven, with previous dodgy titles in the form of Showgirls, the film does deserve some merit. The special effects are amazing, as we see Caine partially visible in smoke and water, and objects floating around as if carried by Caine. And when the actual process is carried out the de-structuring of the body layer by layer is amazing. However about 30 minutes towards the end of the film things start to slip, and it just looks a bit hurried and unbelievable, you will see what I mean when it comes to the punishment that Kensington and Caine receive and yet somehow mange to keep on ticking. If you fancy a visual feast, and a story line that has its ups and downs then I recommend this title to you. The DVD features add a small element to the film, being the crystal clear vision of DVD, and the sound quality, however not listened to on the available 5.1 DTS, was still very good. The commentary from cast and crew was also good to see as an insight into the direction of the film and how the characters were developed. The deleted scenes really would have made no real impact on the movie (which is probably why they were deleted DUH!), and the trailers I had already seen. At the end of the day it is just additional sales candy that adds very little to the end outcome of the film. Give the film a watch just for curiosities sakes, and girls if you are a Kevin Bacon fan there is a naked rear shot of him, and a full frontal view of him WHOO HOOO!!(He is invisible at the time though, so you will have to use your imagination as you see him in all his thermal image glory, sorry ladies).
So what’s it all about then? No it’s not another rock band or superhero. GPRS is going to revolutionise the use of mobile phones. GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Service, and what it allows is a faster connection to the Internet. This allows the user to access services such as WAP faster than what is currently available, and also download/upload faster if they are using their mobile to create a data connection with either a PDA or a P.C/laptop. The way in which this is done is by slightly modifying existing mobile phone cell sites (those big steel towers that we see a lot of). This modification enables the faster transmission of data using existing time slots that make up cell structure (all starts to get a bit technical). What this will allow for Mobile operators is a higher demand for their data services; these include their WAP services and data connection to external devices such as Laptops and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s). The current trend for most customer's usage, across all of the networks, only accounts for around 11% of all calls being data originated, over the next 2 years, and with the introduction of new GPRS compatible phones, mobile companies hope to increase this to 75%. This may seem like a large amount, however Japan already has an 81% data call base across all of their networks. The reason for this is that people are constantly using I-Mode, which is their faster equivalent to our WAP services, and also use data calls to send information over their P.C’s/Laptops, and Handheld devices when they are on the move. This may seem like a tall order due to the data speeds that network's currently run on, which is about 9.6 KBPS (with the exception of Orange who offer HSCSD (High Speed Circuit Switched Data) which runs at speeds up to 48.8KBPS), and this is where GPRS comes into play. GPRS has the proposed ability to transfer data at 115KBPS over a mobile network an d device. In comparison you will be getting the same sort of speed out of your handset as you would if you were connected to the Internet at home using the upgraded ISDN service. So in retrospect GPRS will allow handsets to receive and send data faster than existing connections with a normal 56K-modem and landline connection. However at this current moment in time, the highest achieved speed by any of the networks has been 28.8 KBPS. This is not due to the network that they offer, but instead due to the current standard of GPRS handsets that are available. The reason being that if you currently wanted to make one of the existing GPRS handsets run at 115 KBPS you would have to have it attached to a battery the size of a Volvo in order to achieve the power needed. This is down to the issue that keeping a GPRS session open uses a lot of power. Also at the moment handsets work on what is known as a 2 + 1 chipset. This means that the phone downloads from 2 of the existing 8 available time slots, and uploads to one. This is currently the maximum chipset available in the current handset range. However Ericsson are working on a 4 + 1 chipset that will all be able to connect at speeds of up to 48.6KBPS. In addition GPRS will be much more reliable than the existing data transfer method which is currently based on CSD (Circuit Switched Data) transfer, running at the 9.6KBPS, GPRS will run via PSD (Packet Switched Data). The difference between the two is that CSD sends information in different KB size bursts, and in no set time pattern, so the information that you request may take longer to get to you, as in some cases information will get lost, or is being sent at different transfer rates. With PSD the data is sent in equal packets at a set interval apart, this makes transfer faster, and more reliable. PSD will also track all data to the handset so that first time delivery will be guaranteed up 95% of the time. It will bring an end to the error messages cur rently seen on WAP that requires the user to re-request the information that they requested (or refresh as we know it on the Internet). So what does GPRS mean for us the customer? The misconception behind GPRS is that it is the start of videophones and handheld Internet browsers, unfortunately at the time being this is not the case. GPRS only allows faster connectivity to the Internet or to currently existing data services, but it is the inclusion of the first element of the UMTS 3G Licence, which all the UK networks bided for and acquired. What GPRS will do is complement services that are already offered to mobile users at the moment. The main one being access to WAP services. Currently WAP runs at 9.6 KBPS, and any of you who have used the service know that it takes quite some time to connect, and longer still to then retrieve or send any information. With GPRS this will happen instantly, as with GPRS you are always connected to the Internet, and at a faster speed. This is done by the handset keeping a constant connection to the cell. But how does this work and wouldn’t it cause congestion and more ‘network busy’ message and dropped calls? The answer is no, the reason being is that the handset maintains a ‘Ghost Connection’ to the cell. A timeslot within a network cell is split into two halves, one for voice calls, and one for data calls. And it is within the data half of the slot that the connection sits idle until the customer makes a data call/request. Previously when you retrieve or send information via WAP, you get the connecting please wait message on screen for a few seconds before you get back or send what you want. With GPRS this will be a thing of the past. As WAP only sends small pieces of information at any one time it takes its time to load with existing CSD technology. GPRS will process and display the results a split second after the request has been sent due to permanent connection it maint ains, and the speed at which the data is streaming. I predict that by eventually introducing GPRS to a commercial market more people will connect to WAP, as it will be much faster and more efficient than what is currently on offer, making it more interactive and user friendly. This will lead to a massive growth in data traffic on all of the existing networks. The second benefit that GPRS will give to consumers is the faster connectivity to the Internet. For those that use their phones to create a connection by linking them up to their P.C they will be able to benefit from the capabilities of GPRS a great deal. They can download files, e-mail attachments into work, or just browse the Internet on their way home on the train. And with the proposed speeds of GPRS it will make working whilst on the move so much more easier and possible. The actual cost of GPRS is still a bit of a grey area at the moment, networks are still unsure as to what stance to take. The current billing methods that mobile network providers use are as follows. BT Cellnet have decided to offer their GPRS service on a line rental basis. You pay £15 a month and are given a 50MB download allocation. If you download more than 50MB then you pay extra for each MB after that. Vodafone however are charging per KB downloaded/sent, and are not introducing a specific price plan for GPRS access. Out of the two it is Vodafone’s billing method which seems to make sense, as realistically you are not going to use your handset to download or send 50MB, which is quite a large amount of data. In effect you are paying extra with BT Cellnet for a data allocation which you will never end up using, and with no rollover of data allowance either, it just goes to waste. Whilst with Vodafone you only pay for what you use, and as the data usage for an average 10 minute session on WAP will only come to about 60 KB’s of information, it will work out far cheaper than what BT Celln et are offering. I believe that this will be the approach that the other networks, such as One 2 One and Orange, will also decide to adopt (from what can be seen these networks plan to launch their GPRS services in the beginning of 2002). This way they insure that the customer only pays for the amount of information that they download and send, rather than a monthly line rental for an allocation that they are never likely to use. So is this the future of mobile technologies? Personally I think it is a great step towards a more interactive mobile service, allowing networks to soon offer seamless data calls allowing you to have live video calls with relatives over seas. However, for the time being I guess we will just have to put up with the method open to use, but trust me people, the future is coming. With 3G devices already in construction, and being made available by handset manufacturers, this dream will become an impressive reality by the end of 2005. Watch this space!
I finally had a day off from work and decided to make the most of it in the one and only way a true bloke can. That’s right people, I got a load of junk food and spent the day at a mate’s house playing the good old Playstation all day. But even doing this has a shelf life, so we decided to make an effort and go and see a film at the cinema. This is when things started to turn horribly wrong. My mate and me had both been eagerly awaiting the release of the third instalment of the Jurassic Park saga. And as this was the national launch day we thought we would try to get tickets and see if it was an improvement on the second part, or even match the quality of the first. I should have read the initial warning signs, as when I dialled up Warner Village the first time for their online booking service my card was not recognised so my purchase failed. But being more annoyed at having to keep taping on my phone to enter in the details and then having my card refused I repeated the process. Hooray tickets for the 7pm showing at the Warner Village in the North Finchley Lido. We arrived in the cinema and then it hit me, right on the back of the head to be precise, as what I presume was a Malteaser struck the back of my head. I turned around to give a threatening gaze when it then dawned on me how long it had been since I had been to an early showing of a P.G film. The place was full of annoying little kids!!!! Once again another bad sign, but I ignored their witty antics and patiently awaited the start of this evenings feature presentation. Then it began, with the Jurassic Park theme overture pouring out in Dolby Digital sound and I prepared myself to be entertained. The film starts with a young boy and his (we learn later) stepfather on a speedboat going past a nearby tropical Island, known also as Isla Sorna off the coast of Costa Rica, which if you can remember from Jurassic Park 2 is the second research site. The bo at is offering an exclusive offer, parasailing over the Island whilst being dragged by a speedboat. Uh oh, already starting to sound a bit predictable? Well you guessed it, as the boy and his stepfather are flying high in the sky the boat is attacked by a dinosaur and goes out of control. Just before plunging into some rocks the stepfather releases them from the tow line and they drift down onto the Island, not knowing what prehistoric terrors await them. Cut scene, we are then transported across the sea to the good old U.S. of A., and the welcome return of a friendly face in the form of Sam Neil playing once again Alan Grant from the original film. Grant has since split from Eli (Laura Dern, who makes a brief cameo appearance) and is continuing his archaeological studies on the vocal and communicational capabilities of Raptors. However he is starting to run out of funds, as all good scientists apparently seem to on a regular basis, and is wondering where his next financial backer is going to come from. Well as you can guess it doesn't take long for something to crop up, and it comes in the form of the Kirby's played by Tea Leoni and William H. Macy. They offer Grant a substantial contribution to his research if he will be their guide whilst they are flying low over the Island. So with the help of Grant's new sidekick Billy Brennan (played by Alessandro Nivola who played Pollox Troy in Face off) they set off to Isla Sorna. What follows is an elaborate set up with Grant realising all to late that he has been tricked into helping the Kirby's look for their son Eric who has been missing for the last eight weeks, yes that’s right the boy from the parasailing crash. After they land they decide that this may have not been such a good idea as they and the audience are introduced to the newest addition to the Jurassic Park dinosaur cast, the Spinosaurus. This beast is bigger and badder than even the T-Rex, and even the effo rts of the guns for hire that they bring along to help, fail to deter this savage animal from having a small snack, and so they attempt to take off. But no you guessed it the plane crash lands into the Island and they are trapped. What follows is an action packed adventure with Grant heading for the coast in an attempt to escape alive, and the Kirby's coming clean that they are not really here for a tour and that they are looking for their lost son. So Grant tries to help them, whilst at the same time heading for safety at the coast. The special effects in the film keep to their usual excellence, with the usual appearance of the Brachiosaur and Triceratops, and the annoying little Carpi's. The most visually stunning sequence has to be the confrontation between the Spinosaur and the T-Rex, however the scene only lasts for a few seconds which was extremely disappointing. The films notorious villains, the Raptors, make a few welcome appearances, and once again excel in their cunning and ferocity. This is made even worse by the theft of some of their precious egg's by a well meaning Billy in an effort to raise Grant some money for his research from the failed trip. The makers have tried to spice up the story line with a few more dinosaurs, with the introduction of the Spinosaurus, and a great sequence in the compound's aviary where the group tries to escape from the attacking Pterodactyls. But by this point in the film the novelty is starting to wear thin. Yep you guessed it folks; I am about to tell you the truth about this film. It is very, very predictable, and the inclusion of all the special effects was about the only thing that kept me in my seat. The story line was exactly the same as its predecessors, people come to Island, people trapped on Island, people run from dinosaurs, people get eaten by dinosaurs, people escape from Island, everyone lives happily ever after. Get the drift? Without th e hindrance of another novel on the film by Michael Crichton, the writers had the ability to throw in some spice and variety into the film, but failed to bother. Even the action scenes seem to be written in such a way that someone started to put together a great sequence then got bored and decided to end it with a quick death, or a "quick up that tree and we will be safe" escape. And the fact that the Kirby’s have waited 8 weeks before coming to rescue their son, who incidentally manages to survive when gun totting mercenaries are devoured in minutes, made me rub my head in a dull sense of disbelief and wonder. And as I mentioned earlier on, their crowning moment could have been in the biggest fight scene since Gladiator between the Spinosaurus and T-Rex. But they get a bite in each and then one of them breaks the others neck (I won't say which in case after reading this you head off to watch it). This was however another point that really infuriated me, since when have dinosaurs worked out how to be SAS assassins? Instead of the usual fangs and claws being used to make their victims look like they have just been in two rounds with a blender and lost, all the dinosaurs, including the Raptor's are going around breaking everyone's/thing's neck. I just felt fobbed off, and I imagine many other people did as well. If you are going to make a film about big fierce dinosaurs, then why show them killing everything with a very clean break of the neck? Maybe it is just my lust for blood, or my active imagination that was calling out for more in this film, but regardless of this I felt utterly robbed after the film had finished. If they had endeavoured to make it perhaps a 12 certificate and included a little more fear and suspense it the film it may have made it better. But alias this is just sheer speculation. There is one scene that particular sticks in my mind from the film, there is a scene where they hear their previously lost, inside a dinosaurs belly after the person who was looking after it was eaten, satellite phone ringing. When they work out where it is coming from they see that the dinosaur has no longer got the phone, due to the passage of time and nature. So the group starts to rummage through a steaming pile of dinosaur faeces to find the phone before it stops. And I thought to myself how fitting, because this film really is about trying to find something in a huge pile of steaming crap! I am not particular recommending anyone to see this movie, not unless they really have NOTHING better to do. If you are a true Jurassic Park fan, then watch it and see for yourselves, otherwise wait until it comes out on video for three reasons. 1. You can switch it off at any point. 2. It is cheaper than going to the cinema to see it. And finally 3. It is safer, or you might end up being pelted in the back of the head by a foreign object.
I have just come back from a weekend break away in Germany, and as I am not the richest person in the World I had to shop around in order to get a cheap flight. As you can probably guess my main tool was the Internet, and after trying many different providers of flights with no real joy, one of my colleagues suggested that I try Ryanair. Having heard usually bad feedback about their service I was a little reluctant, but I thought what the hell and gave them a chance. Once I logged onto their homepage I was pleasantly surprised with the initial layout, and as I proceeded with my booking I have to admit that the whole thing was painless and very easy to navigate. I finally found the tickets that I was after, two returns to Hahn Airport in Frankfurt, and all for the remarkable price of £55.00 return a ticket. These were rapidly snapped up as I whipped out my shiny plastic friend; that will be my credit card people! And ordered my tickets online. As I reached the end of the order I was prompted to print out my travel itinerary, which I promptly did and I had all the details I needed for my foreign adventure. But hold on a minute, what about insurance in case I fall down a well or something, well the good old folks at Ryanair had thought all about that, and at the end of my order I was given the choice of purchasing Travel Insurance. I took their nice offer, and was well and truly covered. So on the day of my trip I sauntered up to the check-in desk at Stanstead, told the politely smiling woman my reference number, handed in my bag and was ready for action. The boarding of the plane took a total of 10 minutes, which in my experience is very fast, and upon getting on I noticed how clean the inside of the plane was. For an airline that quite literally turf off one set of passengers in return for another set, these guys certainly kept a tight ship. I took a seat next to the window and waited for take off. Once again we only had to wait for 5 minu tes, in which time we were all shown the in flight safety show presented by 3 very attractive air stewardess', before we were taxiing off up the runway. The takeoff was very smooth and I was on the way to Germany WHOOPEE! After 10 minutes or so the cabin crew came round offering drinks, I got two baby cans of coca cola, and my mate got a Vodka (Black Label so it was 40% proof) and an orange juice. The round only came to £4.90, which was a bit of a shock as I was expecting more. Mmmm I can tell you that coke tasted real good knowing that even though I had paid more for it than I would have done in a shop, I still hadn't been bent over and been abused from behind! The flight itself was scheduled to take an hour, so imagine my delight when it only took 45 minutes! Once getting off the plane by the time I got through passport control by bag was going round on the luggage rack. I was highly impressed to say the least, and with that my weekend break had begun. When it was time to come back the entire experience was once again mirrored, the service was fast, the plane clean, the cabin crew almost as attractive as when I had flown in, but to be honest I was tired. Take off was nice and smooth; the flight took an amazing 40 MINUTES, so I think the pilot was after that elusive World Record! The only downside to the flight was the landing, he did hit the tarmac a little hard, but with his record time I found it in my huge heart to forgive him this minor error. After disembarking and making my way to the baggage hall I never expected for a repeat performance, but low and behold there was my oversized rucksack doing its rounds on the conveyor. My trip to Germany was good, and will no doubt end up as a new opinion when I can find the time, but it is always the flight there and the flight back that sets the mood for a holiday. And I have to say that by flying with Ryanair they certainly improved my trip with a top service, and a reliable and quick flight. I would recommend them to anyone flying to Hahn Flughafen im Frankfurt (Hahn Airport in Frankfurt).
As many of us know, it was the famous Charles Darwin who laid down the foundations on what we conceive as the evolutionary process. And it has been accepted by all that this is a lengthy process taking many millennia. I guess Mr Darwin never considered a meteor containing Alien DNA in his equation. This is the basis around the now number one movie in the UK, Evolution, directed by Ivan Reitman, the director of the legendary Ghostbusters. In true sci-fi/comedy tradition the film opens with an unsuspecting individual just going about his business in the desert, when this huge meteor crashes on his fire-testing shack and wrecks his car. And with most meteors crashing into Earth it causes some attention from the police, but also from two local school teacher scientists, Ira Cain (played by David Duchovny) and Harry (played by Orlando Jones). Harry is given the task to go and check out the meteor, as he is a member of a national geological foundation. But once at the meteor they realise that this is something far from normal, when they attempt to take a sample the meteor begins to ooze a blue slime. Being spurned on by the promise of fame and glory, and maybe even a Nobel Prize, Ira and Harry take their samples back to the lab to do some tests. It is here that Ira discovers that there is life in the universe other than that found on Earth. It is however when the cells that they have excavated from the meteor start to develop and evolve at a startling rate that they start to see the full celebrity and money prospects of their discovery. However, as with all sci-fi, strange Alien goo films, it doesn't take very long for the Military and the Government to find out and take over. It is here that we are introduced to Alison (played by Julianne Moore), a tough, hard skinned scientist, who is instantly attracted to Ira but won't admit to it. What follows is a cat and mouse chase between Ira and Harry, and the Government in trying to secure th e ownership of this finding. But what they all don't realise is that evolution is taking place right underneath their noses, and at a rapid rate, and these little cells are becoming organisms, which are becoming creatures, which are becoming beasts, which are becoming primates, well you get the idea. And the whole process has only taken one month after the initial impact. In shock at this discovery Alison predicts that unless they are stopped, within a year the Alien species will have spread across the whole of the planet, wiping out the Human race. They are all tasked on a way to stop them. But how do you stop the process of Evolution? Well that’s enough about the story line. And even though it all sounds very serious, the film is in fact a comedy. And believe me there are more than one or two times that I had to hold my stomach after laughing two much. The only problem is that 60% of all the really funny scenes have already been used in the adverts. But the classic scene is when Harry is attacked by and Alien Mosquito, which quite literally gets a bit under his skin. As it is racing around is lower body the doctors decide that the best way to get the creature is to insert a clamp and grab it. The only problem is that they are going to have to go in anally! Trust me, I think everyone in the cinema felt Harry's pain! There are also a few predicable gags centred on and around Duchovny from his X-Files fame, such as him saying that he knows the Government, and other extra-terrestrial comments. However he most memorable act in the film would have to be what is known as the Cain madness. To find out what I'm on about then I suggest that you get down to your local and watch this film, it’s a guaranteed laugh from start to finish.
There was only one film that slightly shocked me when I was young, and images of it have remained in my mind ever since. I remembered the title and in an attempt to vanquish my own personal demons I have been hunting for it since I was old enough to buy adult video's (of the wholesome variety!!). So imagine my shock when I was having a browse in play247.com for any new releases for me to slap on my already extremely bruised credit card, I happened upon a release date for 'The Sword and the Sorcerer'. The film itself is a fantasy based epic, back in the times of Kings and Queens, where sorcerers and witches roamed the lands, and battle screams filled the open air. But enough nostalgia on a bygone age, on to the movie itself. King Richard is the ruler of Ehdon, the richest and most powerful city in the World, and as a result he has a number of enemies who have tried and failed to defeat him and his vast armies. One such man is King Cromwell, who after countless attempts, and many heavy losses is still no closer to overthrowing Richard and seizing Ehdon for his own. Cromwell decides that he will never be able to defeat Richard on his own merit, so he comes to the conclusion that he needs to enlist the help of a powerful ally. This ally comes in the form of a powerful sorcerer, born unto this world after 1000 years sleep from a casket of blood. Once awoken the sorcerer proves his power by ripping out the heart of the witch that resurrected him, doing this from across the room. With Cromwell using the sorcerers black arts, coupled with his own forces, he is within a stones throw of taking Ehdon and defeating King Richard. Not content with sharing this bounty he attempts to kill the Sorcerer and, to his initial beliefs, succeeds. Even without his help Cromwell defeats Richard and massacres him, and his family. Or so he believes as there is someone he has missed, Richard’s young son, Talon. Talon sees his father fall an d vows vengeance, taking with him the family sword. The sword is three bladed, with the two outer blades having the ability to be fired as a projectile at advancing enemies, and the third blade acting as a broadsword. Over the next 11 years Talon becomes known as a successful mercenary, a man with no fear and who can be relied upon in times of need, and for the right price. At the same time the sorcerer, who is believed to have been slain, has been healing from its wounds and plotting its own deadly revenge against Cromwell. As fate would have it Talon is drawn into affairs in Ehdon on his passing through. and makes it his aim to complete the job which he has been set, and at the same time exact revenge upon the slayer of his family, Cromwell. The question is who will get to Cromwell first, the Sword, or the Sorcerer? That’s about the bulk of the story that you will need to know, the rest will have to be watched, or else I will ruin the film for you. However I will say that you are never met with a dull moment in this film. There are fights, battles, and a good few sword fights that keep your pulse racing. As for myself, the demons have now been laid to rest. I suppose when you are younger and can't quite grasp the intentions of special effects, it sometimes feels a little too real!
As some of you may, or may not, be aware of I am a bit of a Stephen King fan, having nearly all of his books and meeting him in person. Such is the case now that whenever I hear of a new or old film that has been adapted from one his novels, I make it a point to try to watch it. Unfortunately this usually backfires on me as I end up watching the film, comparing it to the excellent book that it has been grafted from, and decide that the director should have just left it alone. So with this uncertainty in my mind I nervously decided to watch 'Firestarter', a book of King's that I had thoroughly enjoyed. However, before this I had watched the television movie adaptation of IT, and was still recovering from the visual and verbal torture that this film had achieved. Was I ready for some director to have the audacity to ruin another one of this mans great novels?! The story itself revolves around a young girl (played by a very young, and at that time, innocent Drew Barrymore) who has the ability to start fires by literally thinking about. The only problem is, is that she is unable to control this ability, and emotional changes in her can trigger of a fire in the house, or set someone’s hair on fire! This strange ability is not however due to a freak of nature. Once again it is the good old US Government and their genetic tests and altered drug tests that led to our Drew being how she is. Her mother and father both got involved in a medical survey, it was promoted as being completely harmless. But little did they know the Government was manufacturing the drugs that they were taking in an attempt to awaken the inert parts of the human brain that lead to ESP and extra abilities. Individually the Government were not worried about the results as they would monitor from a distance all of the people who participated. What they did not count on was two of the subjects to fall in love, get married and have little Drew. The fat her develops the ability of mental suggestion and persuasion. He can literally tell you do something and you will succumb to his will. However, every time he does this it damages his brain a little more, and he knows that eventually it will lead to him having a massive brain haemorrhage, and dying. The mother’s talent is less active, and as a result she hardly knows that it is there at all. She has a small amount of telekinetic energy, which she uses to move objects with her mind. Once they realise what these tests have done to them, and what they have conceived in Drew, they fear for the safety of their beloved daughter. They try to train her to focus her ability, and to keep her feelings locked up inside. That way if she doesn't appear to have any special powers, or abilities, the Government won't take her away to do tests on her. Realistically this is a movie adapted from a Stephen King model; yep you guessed it, the Government find out that their little girl is a walking flame-thrower. And in true US Government tradition they instantly think of her as the ultimate weapon and how to clone her ability and incorporate into others, creating an army of 'Firestarters'. Like any good father would, he takes little Drew away when he discovers that the Government now knows everything about her. As we however know, you can not run from the US Military for long, and eventually catch up with the two run aways. What happens next? Well if you have the ability to light a Barbecue at 90 paces what do you think happens?!? But that’s as far as I go, the last half of the film more than makes up for the dull character and story building beginning. And the performance from Barrymore, who is maybe two or three years older in this than she was in her appearance in ET, is fantastic. I have to admit that watching this film restored a sense of relief in my heart that yet another great story had not been flogged to death just to make a profit. If you are a fan of Stephen King I suggest you watch this film. If you however are not, then I still suggest that you watch this film, because it doesn't make a difference if you have read the book or not, the build up of the storyline explains what has happened in the past, and what is taking place in their present time. A very good conversion of a superb novel.
I have been playing both Snooker and Pool for well over 12 years now. As a result I have had a dabble with some of the cues that have been available on the market. From two piece, to three piece to one piece, made from wood, graphite carbon, even to a dodgy steel one that felt like I was playing with a sledge hammer. That is until I heard the Lady of the Lake calling me. As I walked closer she threw out to me the cue I have had, and been using religiously, for the last 6 years, Excalibur! It glistened in the morning light, and as I gripped its shiny shaft I felt its power flow through me. On a more serious note I purchased this cue back in the days when I started to become good enough (in my opinion) to deserve, and need one. So after much looking I ended up in John Lewis, and there it was, the cue of all cues. It was a Riley produced cue, with the immortal signature of Stephen Hendry on the base. It is a two piece cue, weighing 12 KG, as I prefer a lighter cue as it is easier to play positional play, at least I find it easier. The cue itself is made from pine with a black painted lower half, a bronze screw joint in the middle, and the upper half of the cue showing the pale complexion of the wood. The finish is done with a smooth, clear lacquer, giving it its mighty shine. It has a small fibre tip, and after 6 years of hard, continuos play, I have only had to have it replaced once, which was around a year ago. I have to admit that I am a bit lazy, and most often after a late night session my cue usually ends up in the boot of my car in the case which it knows as its home. For new starters out there this is the worst thing to do with an ordinary cue. The reason being is that climate changes cause the wood to deform, usually in a banana shape, ruining your cue for good. But as I just said this would happen to an ordinary cue, not to Excalibur. After nights of wind, rain, hail, snow, and frost, the cue is still as straight as the day I bough t it. After 6 years of rigorous action the cue still has its lacquer in tack, the shaft is still straight, and the bronze joint still shines when it catches the halogen lights from above. It has to be said that even though this cue contains supernatural qualities, something has to be said about the build quality the Riley. If anything was to ever happen to Excalibur I would be devastated, but I would definitely purchase another Riley cue without the slightest shadow of a doubt.