It’s time for the eighth instalment of The Very Late Review, the popular occasional feature in which you, the public, get to review and rate books, people, foods, things, really all aspects of life. It began as a chance for me to catch up with stuff I hadn’t seen/read/eaten yet. Now it’s a way of collating public opinion on ‘the things that matter’ and presenting it in an entertaining manner.
As ever, I pass you over to Megan, who has kindly edited this feature. She is the same Megan who had her bike nicked and was cheered up by the blog’s readership.
To take part in the next Very Late Review, leave a Comment reviewing one or more of the things I’ve put for your consideration at the end of this feature. You should give a brief (or not so brief) opinion and a mark out of 10. Try not to review things you haven’t really seen but have prejudices about, or give things extravagant scores like -1000 million out of 10. But as always, if you do, we will accommodate it. Over to Megan.
Wellity, wellity. This was an unusual Very Late Review as two of Mr Watson’s selections (Israel and Surfing the Void) received no reviews/ratings at all and one (‘Seven Days’) only received one (a 6 out of 10 from Lora). I would brilliantly come in and make some kind of assessment of my own, but yeah, I know nothing of any of them. (I did go to high school with lots of people who went to Israel to travel and/or do their military service, but I don’t think that qualifies…)
Of the other items, nothing got a very low or high overall assessment (though, coffee rallied rather beautifully after Mark’s plea for calm and caffeine). So, overall, ‘meh’ seems to dominate this time around. Ah well. ‘Meh’ is a pretty good way this time of year anyway. (It’s raining in Ottawa today instead of snowing. Pretty sure we’ve swapped weather with the U.K.)
In the good news file, though, there were quite a few new contributors this go ’round. I expect that Mr Watson has attracted a fair few people blogwards as a result of his tour. So hallo new people!
I’m in a ranty mood, which means I (with apologies) editorialised a smidge more than usual. Apologies as well to Mark because I said I’d have this done far earlier.
The Millennium Trilogy
The most popular book series of the year by far. Myself, I picked up the last one in Waterstones in London (after getting fiercely lost in Maida Vale) in July because I couldn’t buy the paperback in Canada yet. I mostly read it on Polish trains. But I digress.
Many of the readers were bothered by the violence in the book, which is understandable. However, the original Swedish title of the first one was “The Men Who Hate Women” (in Swedish, obviously), so I really don’t think it was gratuitous and that it was essential to understanding characters’ motivations. Some of the less computerly inclined found the detailed explanations of the (probably) impossible hacking techniques boring too. So, yes, some bits were extremely hard to get through, but many agreed that they are otherwise engaging and/or Lisbeth Salander is fucking fantastic.
Notable quotes: ‘Only read the 1st one so far, but would say it’s one of the most unsettling books I’ve read. Although I read it on a sunny beach in Tenerife, it provided it’s own little black cloud over my holiday.’ (BeastiePsy); ‘Exciting, fast paced but meticulously detailed, with one of the most kick arse female heros I’ve ever read.’ (Madeleine); ‘For me there’s too much detail and it all seems a bit superfluous – but I think the plot’s going somewhere so I may well finish it before I die.’ (Someone) (High praise indeed! Ha!); ‘I do like a good crime novel, and this was a very good example. Though I did get a bit confused at times over which member of the Vanger family was who. But that could just be because I’m easily confused.’ (Anna)
Overall score: 6/10
Diving score: 6.5/10
Full marks: 0 out of 11 reviews
Nul points: 0 out of 11
Quite mixed reviews, which is slightly surprising. Perhaps that’s because most of my staff have only good things to say about it. I like it myself, though I am frustrated at its commercialisation and my own lack of bendiness. Oh, and the fact that classes all see to be at times when I’m either at work or sleeping.
Some of you felt similarly. Quite a lot got frustrated after only a couple of tries (understandable). Dangers listed include: public nudity, farting, falling over, falling asleep, and general hurtiness. A few of you loved and praised it, many others definitely felt like it could be beneficial…to other people.
Notable quotes: ‘Yes, it is incredibly tiring and it does make you jolly bendy but it is just so boring.’ (Laura); ‘My favourite bit was the meditation at the end, although the downside of doing this at home is that you have to listen to your boyfriend’s mum humming Angels by Robbie Williams and it’s quite offputting.’ (amycool); ‘Can I review Yoda? I mean, Yoga gets an 8/10 because it has names like ‘downward facing dog’ and stuff. But 10/10 Yoda gets, because greatest puppet ever appearing in sci-fi films is he.’ (Ivan); ‘I only ever done it for the last two months in secondary school as PE. It was an amazing way to relax, especially coming up to exams when we were all stressed out.’ (lisan66); ‘While doing it I can’t help feel a little self-concious and incredibly stupid and it always leaves my muscles aching for days afterwards.’ (KateB); ‘For something that’s supposed to be calming, it made me homicidally furious.’ (Kate W)
Overall score: 5/10
Diving score: 5.5/10
Full marks: 0 out of 25 reviews
Nul points: 1 out of 25
Described by Mr Watson thusly: ‘Multi-millionaire; can’t work out if he seems nice or not’.
Totally agree with that. I simultaneously want to shake his hand and (maybe) punch him in the face. I’m also fascinated by his leathery skin after seeing him on ‘Question Time’ a few years ago. (When he scratched his forehead, his whole face moved like the skin wasn’t attached to bone. Distracted me from anything he said, though.)
Y’all seem to have come to more or less the same conclusion. Approachable? Arrogant? Both? He’s a man of mystery, that Mr Branson.
Notable quotes: ‘Weirdy, beardy, smug… he should be a knob, but you have to appreciate the guy’s acumen.’ (Tom Beasley); ‘He always strikes me as a bit of a jerk, but I think that has something to do with his insistance on turning up in obscure cameo roles in movies and television shows, playing Richard Branson…More annoyingly, he’s managed to stay looking the same as he did a decade a go, which for a man with such a bad hair cut, is pretty good.’ (Aphra); ‘Rumoured to be very, very unfaithful to his wife, so possibly not that nice a person. Unless of course she doesn’t mind, in which case good luck to them both.’ (Clembear); ‘He has his own island, which seems to be quite cool, but then so do a lot of Bond villains – is that just a coincidence?’ (cymruangel); ‘Businessmen don’t have to be likeable. He’s very clearly not. But he’s the future of space travel so I’ve got to let him off. I think he’s paid off the debt to the world that Virgin Cola left us with and knows how to provide services.’ (Josh); ‘The only subject above on which I’m at all qualified to formulate an opinion is Richard Branson, and the very thought of doing such a thing makes my heart sink.’ (Andrew); ‘Finally god bless Richard Branson, inventor of the delicious pickle which is perfect in a ploughman’s’ (Johnny Reggae) (This made me laugh and laugh.)
Overall score: 6.5/10
Diving score: 6.5/10
Full marks: 0 out of 10 reviews
Nul points: 0 out of 10
Good heavens, this was a touchy topic, as has already been addressed. Vitriol was pretty high. Lots of mentions of gaggy, horrible smells, and other horrors. Anna suggested making it illegal. It was very difficult for me to read these things about my favourite beverage. I only think coffee is truly evil when it’s really weak and flavourless.
Anyway, as mentioned above, this did rally a bit, with its lovers coming out to praise aroma, taste, and perking-up abilities. Maddie even gave it an unofficial rating of 100/10. Phew. (Just as general travel advice to coffee lovers, I never had a non-excellent cup when I was in Iceland. They know their shit.)
Notable quotes: ‘It gets 9/10 from me, losing a point only because I can never make it to taste as good as it smells.’ (Katie); ‘I love it. So much. I am one of the people that live because of it.’ (Lydia) (Me too!); ‘Horrible bitter drink, that holds my family in a tight grip. In an aim not to become like them, I refuse to drink it.’ (elin); ‘The whole going-out-to-a-coffee-shop-with-friends-and-having-a-chat thing is quite lovely.’ (Hannahq); ‘It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it’s gotten me through my A-Levels.’ (Linsey); ‘It makes me gag. I’ve tried it with sugar, milk, cream and even dissolved a humbug in a cup of it but nothing seemed to make it taste any better.’ (Ingrid); ‘I don’t think many other people like it either, even though they drink it. Why else would there be seemingly thousands of variations of it on sale in Starbucks etc? people are just trying to cover up the terrible taste.’ (Adam K.)
Overall score: 5.5/10
Diving score: 5.5/10
Full marks: 7 out of 37 reviews
Nul points: 6 out of 37 (though, there were plenty of 1 and 2 point scores too)
Thank you to everyone who contributed and apologies I couldn’t include everything. And again, big, big love to everyone who checked in on the entry about my stolen bike. It cheered me up hugely.
Keep warm, keep dry, and have a great holiday-type season!
And now the categories for the next edition. I’m conscious that, as Megan said, hardly anyone reviewed Seven Days, Israel, or the Klaxons’ album last time out. With this in mind, I will make the next set of reviews as accessible as possible.
Here they are:
BRIE (food; type of cheese)
ONE DAY by David Nicholls (book)
ANOTHER YEAR (film)
NIGELLA LAWSON (person)
DALMATIANS (breed of dog)
HIP-HOP (musical genre)
Off you go!