Category Archives for Entertainment

Top Gun New Movie – Top Gun Maverick

Top Gun 2 – I Feel The Need, The Need For A Sequel

He’s back, Maverick is back on our screens for 2020. Call it what you will; Top Gun 2, Top Gun 2020 or use the official title of Top Gun Maverick

All the years down the line, he’s still in the service, but he’s now an instructor. He’s teaching the best of the best including ( surprise, surprise )  Bradley, the son of his former navigator Goose. He’s reached the rank of captain, where his commanding officer suggests he should be a 2-star admiral, indicating his attitude hasn’t changed much over the 30+ years.

Who can forget the original which showed great flying stunts and the added touch of romance along the way.

Top Gun Maverick Trailer

Long-awaited it’s been released and you can watch this here;

What can we expect to see? Cruise on a motorcycle,  Cruise playing volleyball,  Cruise flying fighter jets and naturally Cruise being his usual ambivalent maverick self.  Those are the definites, the probables will be Cruise leading his squadron into battle to save the rest of the Western world. Ed Harris is his usual solid self as the military top brass and Jennifer Connelly adds the female temptation in the movie. Bradley is played by Miles Teller and although we don’t see the original Goose, we do see IceMan returning, played again by Val Kilmer.

Hey, if you’ve been living under the rock the past third of a century, you can watch the original here on Amazon.

 

Love him or loathe him as an actor ( see the Reacher post here ) Top Gun was an iconic movie which along with Risky Business really got Tom Cruise recognized. This is the movie that suits him, he is who he is, playing this type of role.

Top Gun 2, Top Gun 2020

Top Gun Maverick

 

Top Gun 2020

With a scheduled  26 June 2020 (USA ) release date, this is going to be a popular sequel for sure. The film also reunites Cruise with the director  Joseph Kosinski, who he worked alongside with in Oblivion in 2013. With 3 powerhouse production companies behind this, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media you know this will be an impressive offering.

Will the soundtrack be as good as the original? We’ll find out in 11 months from now.

 

 

Top Gun Maverick Facts

He’s known for doing his own stunts and making the action scenes as real as possible, but this time he’s been grounded. The US military don’t allow civilians to fly in their fast jets, such as the F18. Not matter how much he wanted to do so, he’s not been permitted to do so. None the less, the flying scenes will no doubt be as realistic and as enthralling as the original movie.

Fancy Yourself As Maverick?

Impress the ladies without the need to actually qualify from flight school. This costume comes with Men’s Top Gun Pilot Costume Jumpsuit, Name Tags & Sunglasses, Top Gun. Please note F18 not included!

 

The military green jumpsuit comes complete with decorative patches, the aviator sunglasses complete the ‘ Maverick look ‘. Ideal for fancy dress or parties and available to order here, available in different sizes.

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Amazon Prime Day Don’t Miss It.

Amazon Prime Day 

 

You’ve heard of Black Friday, yeah? The name that was given to the shopping day after Thanksgiving in the USA. More recently they’ve added Cyber Monday where the electronics and electricals are sold cheap. Well, the good news is you can buy plenty of Christmas gifts and birthday presents earlier in the year.

 

When Is Amazon Prime Day This Year?

 

One way to find out is to ask your friend; “Alexa, when is Prime Day?” Prime Day is the middle of July, so for 2019, these dates fall on 15th & 16th July. What most people don’t understand is there are also offers available beforehand. These Pre-prime deals are also available just for Prime Members. You can even use the search engines, just type in ‘ when is prime day and hopefully the correct answer comes back.

 

How Do You Get These Offers?

Prime Day starts with signing up for AmazonPrime, believe it or not. Yes, it really is that simple. Just sign up!

There are some great savings to be had, some good savings and there are also a few quite average discounts. Keep in mind though, these are being offered with the free delivery, so that is an extra bonus.

 

There are other advantages with Prime, we really enjoy the video and tv services. There’s great viewing with some Prime Original series, which are only available to watch as a Prime customer.

We covered the tv and film aspect here briefly, but there are plenty of great series, shows, and films. Literally, something for all the family to enjoy.

 

Premier League Football On Prime

I bet you weren’t aware of this? Well, you can watch 20 Premier League games live & exclusive on Prime Video this December.  No better way to recover from the Christmas Day festivities, than spend a day watching all the Boxing Day Premiership games. Now might be the time to grab the new TV you’ve been promising yourself and get sat down to enjoy great viewing.

Prime Day Shopping

Try Prime Video

Never experienced this service? Get your Free Trial of Prime Video Here and you can enjoy the following;

Enjoy unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows
Watch anywhere, anytime with unlimited access throughout the UK
Download movies and TV to their mobile or tablet to watch offline
Watch Amazon Originals in HDR on living room devices
Watch exclusive hit TV shows before they air on British TV
Get unlimited, FREE One-Day Delivery on millions of items
Borrow books from a choice of over 500,000 titles from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
Secure unlimited photo storage with anywhere access
Listen to over 2 million songs on Prime Music

 

It’s enough to make The Fat Lad as happy as a pig in muck.

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Faithless Concert – Nailed It.

 

You Gotta Get To A Faithless Concert

Enemies becoming friends, When bitterness ends, This is my church….

If you don’t know the track, just from those lyrics, you need a kick up the arse.

 

Without a doubt the best live performance I have been to, for the sheer passion and dynamics between performers and audience. I first saw Faithless many moons ago at the Faithless Concert in Manchester in March, 2007. Funky Scottish electro musician, no these aren’t my words, Calvin Harris was supporting and boy what a load of crap that proved to be.

I saw Faithless in Manchester and loved every damn second of the concert. As someone who has bought all their albums ( usually on the day of release ) this was a group I knew I had to see live.

Rollo, Sister Bliss and Maxi Jazz just rock the music world wherever they play. Sales of 15 million+ records and counting is ample proof of the sheer brilliance, of this electronic act.

 

Now it really is a toss up which track I prefer. Insomnia is a popular one with the masses, as it’s one of the most played dance tracks. We Come One is another favourite of mine. Don’t Leave, Salva Mea, Not Going Home,  Mass Destruction, One Step Too Far or Muhammad Ali all are great in their own rights. Want your own copy of Insomnia? Click here for it.

 

 

 

A couple of interesting facts; Felix’s ‘Don’t U Want Me’, was produced by Rollo, selling over 2 1/2 million copies.

Dido is Rollos sister, so he co-wrote and produced Angel and Life for Rent, her first 2 albums. Again these both went on to sell over 12 million copies EACH!

Faithless Concert – Nailed It

So if you ever get the chance to go and see Faithless live, do it. Back in 2007 I enjoyed the passion of Sister Bliss and the energy of Maxi Jazz which made it an unforgettable evening.

 

Unable to make it to a live performance, then you need to check out the latest pricing on the whole range of albums by Faithless.

 

 

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A New Life In The Sun With Dumb & Dumber

” Disaster strikes again as Bill and Betty have 24 guests arriving in 45 minutes and they still have to build the second bedroom”

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind watching a bit of tv from time to time and this is a show that I enjoyed the first series. What seems to have happened now though is the majority of the people in this show couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery.

” With guests arriving tomorrow, Sandra decides to try the shower and sinks in the gite, to ensure the water is connected”. Shock, horror although they have owned the place 8 months, they haven’t bothered to check the water or the electrics work in the gite, they’ve just decorated and built up a new bed from IKEA. No running water, but the curtains look pretty!

A New Life In The Sun The Carry On Film Version

” Claudia has rented this stunning 9 bedroom villa in Southern Spain for a whopping £3k a month on a 24 month lease and wants to open a yoga retreat. She needs this to work as she has tied all her money up in this new venture”

Maybe Claudia should have asked that one, all-important question prior to signing her life away with this 2-year lease. The question being;     ‘Is this property totally legal for me to run a business here’

Clearly asking this would save the heartache and embarrassment of finding you cannot run any business nor use it for any type of business, because it’s an illegal build. Not to worry, instead of charging your £500 a week ( excluding flights ) for your yoga retreat spa breaks, you can go to the market to sell your cheap and cheerful yoga pants instead.

Spain – Andalusia – Marbella

 

Described as – Series following intrepid expats as they chase a dream life in the sun. It’s more like watching Mission Impossible at times. yeah Fat Freddy who has supped 20 pints a week in his local, decides to sell up and move to Benidorm because he wants to open a British themed pub there. He’s never run a pub, nor even worked behind the bar but that’s not stopping him.

Next on the list is Maria, who after getting a divorce has decided to move abroad and set up as a hairdresser in Marbella. She’s going to work from home to save on costs and operate as a mobile hairstylist to the ex-pat community. She’s bringing across her 5 kids and 3 dogs, coming in her trusty 2003 Nissan minibus.

Finally, in this episode we drop into the French countryside to check out the new B&B operation run by Michael and his husband also called Michael. They both left high flying corporate jobs and have opened this business under a new name, after buying it as a going concern from the previous owners. Despite both Micheals never running any form of hotel or B&B, neither being a chef, never worked in hospitality and neither speaking a word of French, they decided to move to France for a new way of life. As funds are tight, they have decided not to employ staff but do all the jobs themselves and also rely on Google translate.

 

As they’ve no bookings they have decided to have an open day and invite all the locals round to visit their new business. Luckily one of their new neighbours speaks a little English and has offered to help promote the event. This will give the boys a chance to show off their culinary skills, by laying out some cold meat, cheese, pieces of cut up bread, a couple of dishes of nibbles and of course copious amounts of wine.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love new ideas, I love that people want to leave dull, boring jobs in the grey, cold and wet of the UK. Yes, it’s fucking fantastic to be sat outdoors at 7am, enjoying the sunshine, enjoying the freshly squeezed orange juice and having a coffee for 9 months of the year. If you have a trade under your belt, such as a plumber then go for it. The ex-pat areas are always looking for jobs doing, repairs to their homes. Hey, it’s easier to deal with a guy who speaks the same lingo as you, rather than risk getting lost in translation.

What I’d say though is use your common sense. Why try to open a British Bar in the middle of Benidorm, to compete with the other 100 down the same street. They all offer Sky tv for sport, Boddingtons on draught and a full English fry up. All you’re doing here is competing on price. Ever ask yourself why these bars are easy and cheap to buy? Because the previous 10 tenants have lost a fortune, found it too hard and packed up and gone. Do something different!

 

What Is Different?

Run a B&B in France or in Spain but add value. If you’re in the middle of a cycling or motorbiking tourist route, then cater for these people. If you have a large enough plot, look at running a campsite or caravan pitches. If fishing is your thing, buy a place with a lake and offer fishing holiday. People want more than a square box shaped room, so a nice French Gite or a rustic Spanish Cortijo is a better choice to buy. If you’re able to offer something more, then this gives you additional revenue streams. Cooking classes, pottery making, glass blowing, cycling holidays, bird watching or the fishing lake setting.

 

Take inspiration and ideas from the show, but please do your homework first. Remember it’s fine going to Lloret de Mar each year for 2 weeks of laying in the sun, drinking 5 pints every night and doing sweet FA for your time there. Life’s much different living and more importantly working in the sun. 40 degrees during the day in July and August is energy sapping. learn about different places in Spain, take time to visit them. It’s even worth taking a month off and doing a rental in the area you’re interested in or doing a 3 week road trip, visiting several different resorts or areas and getting a feel for the places. Same applies to France, check out the different areas and regions by researching, then go and visit them.

 

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Suits Season 9

Yes, it’s been confirmed that Suits Season 9 will be happening however, this will be the last series ( so they say ).

I have to admit when Suits first came out, I overheard someone in a bar explaining in detail how naff it was, how it was quite boring and just a newer version of LA Law. They went on to say Boston Legal was so much better. As someone who has chuckled at Boston Legal, that kind of made my mind up.

So fast forward 3 1/2 years and I’m flicking about on Amazon Prime Video and saw Suits, so I decided to give it a whirl. I grabbed a can of beer, got the tv set up and jumped on the couch. Was it any good? I watched all 12 episodes of series 1, in one sitting. The next day I watched half of season 2, again all in one session.

Seriously if you’ve never seen it, I suggest you get watching it, starting here at season one.

Main Characters

 

SUITS — Season:5 — Pictured: (l-r) Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter, Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen, Rick Hoffman as Louis Litt — (Photo by: Nigel Parry/USA Network)

Harvey Specter;

High flying, determined, hardworking and to some self-centred and arrogant. Driven by a desire to win, wears $12k suits, looks good and is an intelligent Senior Partner at the Manhattan law firm of Pearson Hardman. As one of their flamboyant corporate lawyers, his office is a record collectors dream and is littered with sporting memorabilia, from his clients such as Michael Jordan.

 

Donna Paulsen;

What she doesn’t know about office comings and goings, isn’t worth knowing. Previously worked with Harvey when he was an assistant district attorney prior to coming to work for the firm. She knows Harvey inside and out, can read him like a book and knows him better than everyone else.
Smart, sassy, yet very protective of him, Donna is the perfect wingman in the role as his PA.

 

Louis Litt;

Comes across as an insecure person. Loves to laud his authority over the first and second year associates. Really felt his nose pushed out when Harvey was made Senior Partner ahead of him. Louis made the mistake of welcoming back a disgraced former partner Daniel Hardman, who promoted Louis to Senior Partner in an effort to rock the boat in an ongoing battle with Managing Partner Jessica Pearson ( played by Gina Torres ). Louis went from a loathsome, nasty piece of work to someone who the view could feel sorry for. He’s the sad, lonely, workaholic type, who has no friends in or out of the office. His good feature is he is a profit generating machine,who brings in the most billable hours out of all the attornies in the company.

Mike Ross;

Fell on his feet by getting hired in the most unusual situation. A super intelligent conman who was selling weed, but is blessed with a photographic memory. Harvey hires him, despite knowing he’s never passed any exams to be a lawyer. This double team work together and make a great pairing. Harvey is Mikes mentor and there’s a kind of bond which highlights how Mike is protected from interference in the workplace by Harvey, to the extent when Jessica tells him to fire Mike, he basically informs her if Mike goes then he goes too. Mike also has a very on and off relationship/friendship with Rachel Zane ( played by the now very famous Meghan Markle).

 

Other Characters Of Interest.

Daniel Hardman;

Founding partner who was found to be stealing money, but when caught claimed it was for his dying wifes cancer treatment. He left the firm but made a comeback to try to oust Jessica as the Managing Partner. Played impressively by the wonderful David Costabile ( who I think is great as Wags in Billions ), this role is suited ( no pun intended ) for him as Daniel, the scheming, conniving backstabbing chap.

SUITS — “He’s Back” Episode 214 — Pictured: David Costabile as Daniel Hardman — (Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network)

 

Jessica Pearson;

She’s the boss and people know it. A fine lawyer in her own right, she runs Pearson Hardman and is determined that Daniel will not regain control. She frowns upon Harvey’s tricks and stunts, but deep down these are the type of tactics she’d have pulled herself to get what she wanted. Not one to take prisoners, feisty is one word to describe the character played by Gina Torres.

SUITS — Season: 2 — Pictured: Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson — (Photo by: Robert Ascroft/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank)

 

What Else?

Over the 8 series, there have been guest appearances by several well-known actors, such as Dulé Hill who I first saw as Charlie Hill in the West Wing. Wendell Pierce who I prefer in Suits to his part in the tv series of Jack Ryan, where he plays James Greer. Here in Suits, he plays Robert Zane the father of Rachel Zane, who is another determined and successful lawyer in his own right. We also see in 3 episodes Titus Welliver, who plays Harry Bosch in the tv series of the same name. Bruce McGill who played Daniel Simpson Day in the 1979 movie Animal House ( one of my all time favourite films ) appears in 3 episodes in series 7.

Series 8 was great in itself, so will Suits Season 9 top it off? Time will tell.

 

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Jack Reacher Short Stories

 

Oh dear God, what have you done? There’s fiction and there’s fiction…..

I enjoy reading the Jack Reacher books, I have read them all. The good and the not so good and then this one. This one is No Middle Name the short stories book, which has 12 mini stories about Jack over different parts of his life. Now peoples definition of what constitutes a ‘short story’ will differ, but 4 pages in places….. Really?

Jack Reacher Short Stories My Thoughts

 

Too Much Time

The first is called Too Much Time and a more recent Reacher is his usual post military, roaming across the States self. Witnessing a bag snatch he helps pursuing police offices catch the thief. A straight forward incident, easily dealt with or so you’d thought. Soon Reacher finds himself on route to jail, awaiting to be arraigned in front of the judge. Needless to say he is involved in a fight in the jail, after taking out the biggest guy there, who was meant to kill him, he solves the case all on his own and points the fingers at corrupt cops.

This isn’t such a bad story, it’s a more typical type scenario for Jack.

 

Second Son

So in the second he’s still a kid, although the biggest in his age group, but he does the noble thing of protecting a girls honour, helps the MPs solve a potential security breach when important documents go missing. Not sure personally how many times professional investigators are helped close a case in the manner this thirteen year old did. As well as beating up the local bully, who wanted a tax for using the road to the beach, here Jack does further than breaking the defeated kids arm. Modern day you’d have social services and law enforcement involved, for sure. One thing I’d also say is a person with this type of brutal, mentality who carried out as many pre meditated assaults on others, would not get into military service.

This sadly isn’t a great read, it’s an insight into a kid who himself is a bully who obviously has issues at an early age.

 

High Heat

Third story sees Reacher as a sixteen year old, flying to New York City on his own from the Pacific. It’s set in the 1977 heatwave where people are suffering all across the city & even Reacher breaks a sweat too. Here he rescues a woman who has just been slapped in public, a noble thing to do indeed. Turns out she’s an FBI agent and the guy is a Made Man, in one of the local crime families. (If you’re not sure what that means, you really do need to watch Goodfellas as Billy Batts in the movie is a Made Man). So this teenager beats up this crime boss, just to teach him a lesson (as a kid would do). Not content with that he later helps the law enforcement agencies take him down, once again after beating him up in an office. Not content with beating the Mafia, he also solves an ongoing investigation involving a serial killer, which the police haven’t been able to do.

As believable really as the Wizard Of Oz meets a flying saucer. This is just pure fantasy hence my earlier comment stating that ‘ there’s fiction and then there’s fiction’

 

 

Deep Down

Deep Down is story number four and is Reacher back as a young MP on assignment in Washington DC. This actually is quite a good read, as he’s undercover trying to suss which of 4 army officers is leaking secrets to a foreign government. What is interesting is all 4 of these officers are West Point fast tracked with huge career opportunities awaiting. Also all are female! His initial observation after reading personnel files are one particular name stands out. However after she is killed, he needs to look again at the remaining trio.

This storyline is good, if anything it could have been made into a standalone book and the plot expanded more. Enjoyable and believable!

 

Small Wars

Small Wars is the fifth short story. Starts out well with another high flying female Lt Col as one of the focal characters introduced at the beginning. Then when she’s shot in cold blood, triple tapped by Reachers brother, Joe this one fizzles out quickly. Looking for a huge guy, who has a firearm that uses 9mmrounds and drives a vehicle with Firestone tyres isn’t easy. The other thing is he has size 15 shoes. Now this is the main thing, did you notice I said “he has size 15 shoes” and not size 15 feet?

Again, this is one to not get too excited about.

 

James Penney’s Secret Identity.

Anyone who has served, there’s this unwritten Brotherhood code, where you look after former service people. Thanks to the advent of social media there are plenty of groups and pages where men and women who have left military service can reunite and also meet new friends. Now there are a couple of questions coming up here.

  • How likely would you to believe a guy who said he served in xxxx unit, without actually substantiating it?
  • Would you risk your job, your rank and career as a military police officer to give this fugitive a fake id to help him escape justice?

Well this is basically the outcome of the book titled as above;

The guy is laid off at the factory he’s worked at after 17 years, he’s living alone but still paying the mortgage and loans on furniture that his wife left him with years before, when she left. In a fit of rage he decides to unburden himself from the mortgage debt and sets fire to his house. Sadly this spreads to other properties downwind and after the forensic investigator announces it was arson his life unfolds.

Fast forward a little till he’s hitching on the side of the road, along comes Reacher as the driver, as the officer investigator in the MPs. He explains as part of his investigation he’s apprehended a guy who has Russian made, fake IDs which are top quality. So to help the guy evade arrest at the civil police checkpoint, Reacher gives him a set of these fakes IDs. Waved through the checkpoint by the police, the fugitive is free to go and evade justice. Unbeknown to him, the guy Reacher has arrested is actually dead in the trunk of the car. So instead of returning the body as part of the investigation, he dumps him over the side of the road……

 

Once again, this is more fluff than filler and nothing to write home about.

Everyone Talks

Onto the next one. Everyone Talks is story 7, a whole 18 pages of it.

A rookie police officer is sent to the hospital to see a gunshot wound patient. The patients possessions are loose change, a couple of bucks, an out of date passport, a current ATM bank card and a foldable toothbrush.

There’d been no 911 emergency calls, nobody had reported any gunshot wounds to the police, so how had Reacher been shot? So, after arriving via Greyhound Bus, Reacher wanted food and coffee, so headed into the first place he found. Noting a large, thug looking guy at the bar, that nobody made eye contact with, Reacher sucked back on a bottle of Rolling Rock beer and observed all that was happening. Into his second beer and the bar owner arrived. Shortly later he hands the goon sat at the bar a white envelope, clearly filled with notes – protection money!

Needless to say, Reacher confronts the guy, offers him chance to tell him who he works for or tell him who he works for after he’s had both legs broken. Kubota was the name of the boss, as Reacher explained to the cop. The cop organized a search warrant through a friendly judge and the police went en masse and raided Kubotas house. They found loads of money and ledgers, but not a gun that could have shot Reacher. So the policewoman happy with her first big bust, went back to interview Reacher, to ask who shot him.

As she saw the female doctor ( who was the bar owners sister-in-law ) she found Reachers bed empty. When she asked the doctor about the gunshot wounded Reacher, the doctor said there’d been no gunshot victim, as the files would confirm………

A very short, Reacher needing his fists and not his brain, type scenario. At lest this time taking on the gangsters, he wasn’t a 16 year old kid.

 

Not A Drill

So story number 8, called Not A Drill, sees Reacher the civilian hitching a lift with a guy and 2 females in a hippy camper van, heading out to a tiny village so the couple can hike and explore, while the other female drives the camper to meet them at the end of the trail. Queue a couple of mentions of ‘blacktop’ and the coffee shop where Reacher can drink strong coffee till his heart’s content. He pays for a cheap room for himself and is planning on moving on the next day, until the military arrive and cordon off the woodland and trail start. So with Henry & Suzanne out on foot, it’s up to Reacher and Helen to go and rescue them, starting out from the kayak dock into the woodland.

Eventually, they discover 2 backpacks, so push on deeper exploring the dense undergrowth. Reacher is alerted by a faint noise, a mobile phone digital camera being used. They find Suzanne with Henry, stood over a dead body, taking photos. Reacher concludes the person in the orange prison suit jumped or was thrown from an aircraft, case closed? Then he’s advised  Suzanne isn’t just a drippy hippy do-gooder but she’s also active on human rights issues and also on the dark web.

The body is of a prisoner from Guantanamo Bay either on his way to Canada to ease numbers there or being returned. With claims on the dark web that government people were throwing prisoners out of aircraft, as a means of disposal, this looks like proof enough. Naturally, as they were hunting proof and found it, they become the hunter with the American troops out searching the woods….

Did they get away in the end? Obviously, Reacher did, but the others….. Conspiracy theorists might enjoy this one. Again this is another which could easily be made into a full-length book, or dare we suggest film ( but without Tom Cruise as the lead role ). It has the opportunity to get pulses racing thanks to the Gitmo aspect, the hidden shadowy government agencies and more.

 

Maybe They Have A Tradition

So if you haven’t given up hope, we’re now onto short story number 9.

Winter in New York City, jazz music and a 6ft tall blonde, Dutch air hostess, maybe Reachers Christmas has come early? A few hours later he’s in London, in a snowstorm trying to get to Cambridge from Stanstead in a taxi. When the taxi driver refuses to drive any further due to deep snow and blizzard conditions, yours truly decides to get out and walk, as he’s seen what looks like lights in a house, way off in the distance. Reachers thinking is that the homeowners will welcome a total 6ft5” stranger and feed him seeing as it’s Christmas.
I know what you’re thinking here, but let’s move forward with this, shall we. So Reacher struggles through the driving, freezing snow until he comes to the country pile known as Trout Hall. The door is opened by the lady of the house, asking if he’s a doctor or policeman. Seems there was a precious piece of jewellery gone missing and the step-daughter is having a baby.

Reacher borrows the old colonels’ binoculars to see if he can see either of the expected visitors on the route. In the distance he manages to see where there were tracks in the snow, so he goes out to find who it is. Here the policeman is with the doctor, he’d been looking for her after finding her car abandoned. Reacher carries the doctor to the old hall, with the policeman bringing her bag.

Nothing much else to say, Reacher gets some food, some baby is born on Xmas day and the case is closed as the step daughter hid the jewel as she didn’t want the step-mother wearing it.

A lame, pointless waste of 12 pages in all honesty. At least he wasn’t wearing flipflops or beach shorts, but he might as well been. So after eating, he left….. Really? Had the snow melted? Had the weather cleared up enough? Or did the aliens come and abduct him?

 

 

Guy Walks Into A Bar….

An often used introduction to a joke. Well it could be said 7 pages is a bit of a joke. Back in NYC, in a music bar and the young half drunk Russian girl with a stack of notes on her table, watching a young Russian guitarist on stage, under the gaze of her bodyguard. Other side of the bar, 2 Russian thugs sat watching the same girl. Is this a kidnap about to happen? Reacher reads all the signs and as she totters to the bathroom, the 2 guys follow her inside, so Reacher follows too.

Hard to believe in all his years, he’s never set foot in a womens toilets, but that’s his claim. Anyway the kidnap/attack never happened, Reacher had got it all wrong. The bodyguard had never moved, seems his principal was the young lad playing guitar.

Then it clicked, this was a honeytrap, she was going to get the guy away from his minder and driver, so the 2 thugs could kidnap the young lad. Not on Reacher’s watch, was it going to happen!

To be honest here, 7 pages isn’t enough to read while on the toilet. I’ve seen longer tasters of upcoming books. I’ve read longer magazine articles on the best place to holiday in 2019 or the latest cooking utensil you need to order from JML direct.

 

 

No Room At The Motel

4 pages of my life wasted, I mean seriously WTF is going on here?
Reacher gets a cheap motel room, that’s 11 out of 12 left. Goes to a fast food joint to eat, comes back to find a pregnant woman almost ready to drop in tears. Reason is there are no rooms left, so they are going to have to sleep in their car and risk freezing to death. Reacher offers to swap and gives them his room. Instead of bedding down in their car he asks a truck driver if he can hitch a ride.

Upside is no mention of blacktop, no fist fights and no murders. But seriously, how the hell can this be considered a short story? Remove the drawing on the first page and this could be condensed by another 25% into 3 pages. This is nothing short of a piss take of the nativity and ‘ no room at the inn’.

 

 

The Picture Of A Lonely Diner

Last and by no means least, story number 12. Which makes it over 10 pages, if that’s any consideration.

I hesitated to even start this, so checked the number of pages before deciding if I should even bother. When the previous 2 stories were 7 and almost 4 pages long in total, life is too short at times. It’s like having a beer and then another and each getting progressively worse, there comes that point when you ask is it worth venturing on?

Anyhow, yes I did venture on. Sweet Jesus, what another crock of shit. Outline of this is Reacher gets off the subway, sees police tape across the exit stairwell, so walks down the platform to the other exit. Here he sees police ‘do not cross’ tape once again. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to him, so he crosses the line, goes up the stairs and sees the streets empty of people, vehicles and everything.

Venturing down the street in this no-go zone, he sees a police car blocking off another street in the distance, then he sees a female stood all alone, with a phone in her hand. Now had this been a backwater town, this could be seen as a possibility, but alas this is NYC. The female is an FBI agent, but she’s also the agent in charge. Now as you’d expect with this being NYC, on a normal day tens of thousands of pedestrians would be walking, cars by the hundreds would be gridlocking the road system, but not today. Here Reacher finds the only person for blocks and decides to get cute with her, with his mouth. You could put money on 99.9% of people being arrested on the spot for actually crossing the cordon, let alone the snarky replies to her questions. Also there would be dozens of not hundreds of law enforcement officers on the streets.

Turns out the guy sat in the park on his own is an FBI office worker, who has been leaking information to the Russians. He was meant to be meeting him but his handler was killed in a car crash. Instead it’s been decided the guy is to be bumped off by snipers in the park. Reacher decides to evade all the non existent law enforcement presence, goes to the guy and offers to walk him out so he can be arrested. Guy declines, Reacher walks off and in the distance soon after he hears several muffled gunshots.

So what happened to every single person inside all these buildings? Were they all removed? Did they all have any recording devices taken off them? We know in modern society, a street brawl will be recorded on mobile phones and shared on social media, a car crash the same. So thousands of people cleared off the streets of NYC, isn’t going to be recorded by anyone still in the buildings? You’re telling me there wasn’t some blogger or news reporter who dared to evade the police force and try to sneak closer for photos?

So last seen walking away, Reacher probably thumbed a lift onto the Mars probe to investigate the Red Planet or somewhere else just as believable.

As someone who has bought read and mostly enjoyed all the Jack Reacher books, including Midnight Line, I have to say this was a waste of money. I bought this and Midnight Line together to take on holiday. Midnight Line to read on the plane if there weren’t any movies worth watching, this book to take when sat out in the sun around the pool. As it was the film selection on the plane was good, so the book wasn’t read. This was read when around the pool. However had this particular set of ‘short stories’ been read there, it would have probably ended up in the pool.

Disappointed does not describe how deflated I was with this book. If you want my honest opinion, don’t be fooled by the Reacher name for this, it’s not worth buying.

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Amazon Prime For Students – Student Gift Ideas

So it’s back to school/ college/university and you’re stuck for a gift or something useful to buy. Yes, they may have asked for a 24 pack of lager, but it’s not quite in the spirit of things.

So we have the usual choices; Textbooks (boring but necessary ), the latest technology ( mobile phone, laptop, music player or whatever ) or what about something different?

Amazon Prime For Students 

Prime Student gives students all the benefits of Prime membership, but on the cheap – Just what students want to hear! So this comes with a 6-month trial to give you a taster of what’s on offer. Once you’ve enjoyed this, are happy  then 50% off the normal price of Prime, including:

Get unlimited One-Day Delivery on millions of items ( Ideal for that last minute gift you need to send to a loved one )
Stream thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video ( Much better than the boring terrestrial tv channels )
Access exclusive student offers including 10% off textbooks from Amazon ( Errrr…. ok, I keep forgetting students buy textbooks )
Listen to over 2 million songs on Prime Music ( Great for listening to while doing your assignments )

So if you’re in the UK click the banner at the top of the page and save some money. Why not make the most of this offer, especially on the cold, dark, wet winters nights when instead you can get a few mates around, crack a few beers, enjoy some fast food and watch a movie or a tv show.

TV series such as Jack Ryan, Bosch, The Last Tycoon, Sneaky Pete plus thousands more shows, movies etc.

Did you know Amazon Prime On iPad is here too?

 

Amazon Prime For Students In USA

Maybe you’ve got a placement teaching abroad, soccer school coaching in the USA as an example? There’s no reason to miss out while you’re still studying abroad. Prime is available for Students abroad, so click the banner below to take advantage of this awesome deal for across the pond in the USA.

 

Forget some flowers that will be dead in 4 days, instead give a subscription gift for Valentines Day 😉

 

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Blue Iguana

Disclaimer, this film came on tv while I was busy reading some emails, and it was on in the background to begin. It wasn’t one I had purposely chosen to watch but I’m glad that I did watch it.

 

This is a tongue in cheek, comedy heist which will make you chuckle. If you can think about Pulp Fiction, but without the names in the cast, without the big budget, without the class then this is it. Take this film for what it is, cheap, cheerful yet funny.

Fat Lads Says Blue Iguana Is Fun

With Amanda Donohoe, Frances Barber and Simon Callow in the line up, it’s not too shabby but Sam Rockwell in the cast brings a touch of something different as he seems to enjoy the comedy, crime capers. If you’ve not seen him in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, then it’s worth finding time to watch that too.

Phoebe Fox steals the show as a sexy, spectacle wearing,  food-obsessed genius lawyer. She adds guile, poise and that touch of class to the film. Ben Schwartz and Peter Ferdinando were great and Al Weaver playing Tommy Tresham was a great piece of casting. Not many films with constant swearing make me laugh, in fact most kind of make me cringe. This was different, as you can actually see this type of person in society today in the UK.

 

There’s thought that these gangster, heist type films are over done and have run their course. I say bollocks. They said the same before Snatch came out and that was a huge success. Now don’t get me wrong here, this film isn’t in the same league as Snatch. This is a totally different style of ‘comedy’ totally.

If you’ve seen the film Twin Town, and enjoyed it, then this film might be just up your street.

Scores on the doors out of 10, I’d say this is worth 6 at best, but don’t let that discourage you from watching it.

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The Illustrated Quick Cook Cookbook – Review

Fried Rice with Shrimps and Chicken Recipe: The Illustrated Quick Cook Cookbook – Review

I have eaten this is Thailand and loved it, so when I found this recipe I had to give it a go. Life isn’t just about takeaways and fast food, believe it or not. I actually enjoy cooking, have done for many a year. It’s not just about the eating, if food looks good it can be enjoyable to make.

The Illustrated Quick Cook cookbook has a collection of more than 700 sweet and savoury recipes with 1000 photos of finished recipes, step-by-step recipes and techniques.It is definitely for the busy cook who prepares daily family meals and for entertaining.

The recipes are well organized, easy to follow with preparation and cook times. Some recipes also have a ‘cheat’ stamp suggesting substitutions for some ingredients. There are also a couple of pages of useful information on measurements, ingredients, and equipment tips.

Recipe Chooser Section

The Recipe Chooser section at the beginning of the book is a visual reference to fast and easy recipes for meat, fish and vegetarian dishes that can be made in 15-30 minutes (including preparation and cooking time).

Everyday Section

The Everyday section includes quick and easy recipes for meat, chicken, lamb, pasta, vegetarian and desserts for everyday family meals such as Chicken Caesar Salad, Sticky Pork Ribs, Pan Fried Shrimp, Olives and Tomatoes and Potato Gnocchi.

Food For Friends Section

This section is a collection of seasonal recipes, Simple Starters, Big-Pot Gatherings, All-In-One Roasts, Barbecue, Freeze Ahead Desserts, Indulgent Desserts and Cakes and Bakes.

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Illustrated Quick Cook: Over 700 Quick Recipes, Easy Entertaining, After-Work Ideas
  • DK Publishing Dorling Kindersley
  • Heather Whinney
  • Publisher: DK
  • Edition no. 0 (06/02/2015)
  • Paperback: 544 pages
Every cook should own a copy of the Illustrated Quick Cook cookbook. The recipes are made with wholesome ingredients within 30 minutes for everyday family cooking. With over 700 recipes to choose from, certainly some recipes will be included in the busy cook’s recipe repertoire.

Fried Rice with Shrimps and Chicken Recipe

The following recipe is one I enjoy, sometimes I add a few splashes of hot pepper sauce to liven it up.

Fried Rice with Shrimps and Chicken in the pan

Prep: 15 mins.

Cook: 40 mins.

Cooling: 30 minutes–1 hour, or overnight

Special equipment: wok

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2lb (900g) basmati rice
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1lb (450g) (shelled weight) uncooked shrimps or prawns, chopped
  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken fillets, cut into 1in (2.5cm) strips
  • 15oz (425g) pancetta, cubed
  • 8oz (225g) white mushrooms, diced
  • 3in (7.5cm) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 8oz (225g) frozen peas, defrosted
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • bunch of scallions, finely sliced
  • small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Fried Rice with Shrimps and Chicken on a plate

How to Make the Fried Rice with Chicken and Shrimp

  1. Rinse the rice well, then place ina large saucepan. Pour boiling water over rice, and add a pinch of salt. Cover, bring to a boil, and cook for 15–20 minutes, or until done. Drain well and set aside to cool completely for 30 minutes–1 hour.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok over a high heat, add the shrimp, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, or until pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Heat another tablespoon of the oil in the wok, add the chicken, season, and stir-fry for 10 minutes, or until cooked and no longer pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Heat another tablespoon of the oil in the wok, add the pancetta, and cook over a medium-high heat for 6–8 minutes, or until crispy and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Wipe the wok out with paper towels, then heat another tablespoon of the oil in it. Add the mushrooms and ginger, and stir-fry for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms start to soften. Add the peas for the last minute or two. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in the wok, then pour in the eggs and cook gently, stirring them around the pan, for 1 minute. Take care not to overcook them. Add the rice, stir well, then stir in the shrimp, chicken, pancetta, mushrooms, and peas. Add the soy sauce and mirin and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Transfer to a large shallow serving dish, top with the scallions and parsley, and serve.

Cook’s Notes

The rice needs to be completely cold before you add it to the wok. Ideally, cook it the day before and chill in the refrigerator until required.

Illustrated Quick Cook: Over 700 Quick Recipes, Easy Entertaining, After-Work Ideas is available in the UK, this link will automatically redirect you.

Author: Heather Whinney

Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.

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The Looming Tower

Bored with Homeland? I wanted something else to get my teeth into, same sort of subject matter but less about some nutjob and her child custody battles. I don’t watch much in the way of television, but instead, we tend to watch some of the Amazon prime shows and came across this great 10 part mini-series called The Looming Tower and loved it! Gripping, engaging, entertaining all in one. If this is a subject that interests you or just want to watch something good, give this a try.

Based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Wright, this adaptation looks at how the infamous rivalry between the CIA and FBI affected America. The lack of sharing intelligence especially at the Alec Station, highlights how some people thought their egos were bigger and more important than the national security issues. The FBI with the  I-49 Squad in New York and the Washington based CIA Alec Station are the main focus with intelligence gathering and also butting of heads.

Think of this as Homeland but more focused on 9/11 and Bin Laden. Jeff Daniels plays an FBI Special Agent, who inbetween fucking behind his wifes back, running up huge expense account bills and fighting an intelligence sharing war with  CIA analyst Martin Schmid ( played to a tee by Peter Sarsgaard ) is the FBI counter-terrorism expert who has boots on the ground. After the bomb blast in Nairobi wipes out the American Embassy, he sends his FBI investigators to the scene, while the CIA are pushing the Administration to launch several strikes against suspected terrorist camps.

THE LOOMING TOWER — John O’Neill (Jeff Daniels), shown. (Photo by: Marco Grob/Hulu)

 

This is a well present miniseries, showing how the American intelligence people missed vital information as they were not willing to share with colleagues from different agencies. With the Clinton-Lewinsky saga in the news, the backdrop to this series shows footage from news clips and this adds to the realism of this show. The decision to launch 2 retaliatory strikes though, codenamed Operation Infinite Reach, instead of finishing off the terrorists, actually made them step up their efforts. The scene where you see young lads paying out in the camp one evening, then there are bright lights in the sky, as they point and stare – blissfully unaware of the approaching carnage on route to them. Diane Marsh is another CIA operative, who is blindly loyal to her station chief Schmidt.

 

 

Why The Looming Tower ?

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, the title also refers to a quote used from the Koran. The rise of Al-Qaeda and radicals across the globe, who went from quite unknown to become an entity capable of planning such devastating attacks on American soil. The influence a small group of masterminds could exert to ‘soldiers’ willing to die for their faith in suicide attacks.

“wherever you are, death will find you, even if you are in lofty towers” – which was quoted by Osama bin Laden before the attacks of 9/11 give the title for the book.  What was surprising though was at the time, the huge resources of the FBI only had 8 (yes, you are reading this correctly – eight) members of staff who were Arabic speaking.

The Looming Tower reviewed

The action is broken up by the viewers been taken to the official inquiry as the 2004 Senate Commission interviewed Schmidt, Soufan and Clarke in an effort to find out not so much why the attack happened but also to discover who knew it could possibly happen and why those who saw it coming didn’t share the intel. Could the attacks have been avoided if the CIA had managed to pressure the White House into earlier airstrikes? Maybe better information access between agencies could have helped. Were some of the senior figures still looking at the Cold War as the main threat? There are so many questions that could be asked here and also plenty of answers that didn’t address what needed looking at. This is an enjoyable, slightly gritty series without glossing over the important parts. Yes, there’s the usual handful of bedroom scenes, had O’Neill had any more lovers his wedding ring would have worn away with how often he removed it then replaced it.

Diane Marsh

Plenty of female characters, but one who stood out was Diane Marsh, who reminded me of the character Maya on the film Zero Dark Thirty. ( if you’ve not watched Zero Dark Thirty, shame on you).  A stronger and more thoughtful personality than say Carrie from Homeland, it’s easy to see how Diane sees her patriotic duties as the must be everything. Do people like these still exist today? Without a doubt, but most stay in the shadows.

If you want to read the book it’s available to order. Please note; if you’re in the UK, the link will take you to Amazon UK.

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The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
  • Great product!
  • Lawrence Wright
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • Edition no. 0 (08/21/2007)
  • Paperback: 540 pages
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The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State
  • Lawrence Wright
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • Edition no. 0 (07/25/2017)
  • Paperback: 464 pages

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