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Jason (Nebraska, USA)

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Long Gone Before Dayli(Uk)
Long Gone Before Dayli(Uk)
Offered by Rarewaves-CA
Price: CDN$ 17.99
9 used & new from CDN$ 6.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Why hasn't this incredible CD been released in the USA?, Sept. 8 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Long Gone Before Dayli(Uk) (Audio CD)
After the incredible Gran Turismo, I assumed that The Cardigans's next album would automatically be terrible by comparison. Boy was I wrong. While it's not as good as Gran Turismo, it is very close. If you were as blown away by Gran Turismo as I was, you'll appreciate how big of a statement that is.
I'm not a big fan of The Cardigans's early pop stuff, but with these 2 albums, Nina and the gang are really making a name for themselves. The music is good, the lyrics are excellent, and Nina's voice is as beautiful as ever.
The only bad thing I can think of to say about this CD is the price. For some reason, this CD hasn't been released in the USA, so it's $20 more than it should be. This is one of the best CDs I've heard this year (up there with Rob Dougan's Furious Angels 2-disc release), and I think it's worth it, but it's still aggravating. If you do buy this CD, this is the version you want - the one with 13 tracks. Don't skimp and get one of the cheaper versions that don't have both of the 2 bonus tracks - they're worth the extra few dollars.

Diary: A Novel
Diary: A Novel
by Chuck Palahniuk
Edition: Hardcover
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Not Chuck's best, but still very good, Sept. 8 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Diary: A Novel (Hardcover)
Overall, Diary was very good. However, it was somewhat disappointing considering the masterpieces Palahniuk has written in the past. Obviously, it was infinitely better than Laura Miller said it was in her scathing salon.com review (look at me, I write for salon.com and can say whatever I want even if it's not true at all). While I would recommend the book to a fan of Palahniuk, it surely wouldn't be the first I'd recommend to someone who hadn't read him (that would be Survivor or Fight Club, of course).
For the first 38 pages or so, I was completely lost. I had no idea what was going on. Then in a few pages all the basic things are explained. I then reread the first 38 pages again and everything made perfect sense. I don't know why it was written like this, perhaps so you pay attention to the atmosphere and details, instead of merely absorbing plot details (like that's ever a problem with one of Palahniuk's books), and while these opening pages were well written and filled with great stuff, it was still annoying, even if in the end it led to a greater appreciation. I didn't care for the supernatural stuff, and the repetition stuff seemed especially repetitive, without being as insightful as in previous books. The ideas on where we get our inspiration were very interesting, but that's about it.
I found the use of the 2nd person to be refreshing, although I don't know how women readers would like this, since "you" are a comatose male (this is revealed shortly after page 38, so it's not a spoiler, and knowing that makes the first 38 pages much more intelligible on the first read). It's not until the very last page that all the pieces of Palahniuk's idea are revealed, and I think while his execution is less than perfect (but still very good), you have to appreciate the completeness to which the idea was used and executed.
Diary is a very good book that I recommend. I rate it near Invisible Monsters, Lullaby, somewhere below Survivor and Fight Club, but above Choke.

The Jerusalem Syndrome: My Life as a Reluctant Messiah
The Jerusalem Syndrome: My Life as a Reluctant Messiah
by Marc Maron
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.95
16 used & new from CDN$ 7.66

3.0 out of 5 stars A few really good parts, anyway., June 20 2003
I bought this because I think Marc Maron's standup comedy is hilarious. I caught a brief appearance of him on Comedy Central awhile ago and it took me several months to find out the name of the guy who made me laugh so hard. After finally finding out who he was, I found out he has a CD, Not Sold Out, and this book, The Jerusalem Syndrome. The CD is hilarious and I highly recommend it. Since no other CDs or a DVD of his standup is available (yet, anyway - fingers crossed!), I went ahead and got the book because he wrote it, not really knowing what it was about, with pretty high expectations.
The book is a fragmentary autobiography of some events in Maron's life, very little of which is directly related to his career as a standup comic.
The brief first chapter foreshadows the events that will occur later in the book during Maron's trip to Israel.
Chapters two through five cover Maron's life up to high school. I simply didn't find this stuff to be very interesting.
Chapter six covers Maron's college years, focusing on him adopting the Beat religion. The ideas and events in this chapter are very interesting, they're written about very well, and the chapter is very funny.
Chapter seven is another highlight of the book, covering the modest beginnings of his career as his comedian and his relationship (friendship is too strong of word) with Sam Kinison. Like the previous chapter the events here are interesting and funny, if not scary.
In chapter eight Maron recounts his foray into conspiracy theory, and how his credulity for that intellectual junk food led to him making a fool of himself. He does save some face, though, by turning his mind back on before the chapter is through. Maron does make a really good observation about conspiracy theory literature:
"The thing about conspiracy literature is that it's perfect for stupid people who want to seem smart and ground their hatred in something completely mystical and confusing, and it's good for smart people who are too lazy to do their homework. People can't argue with it without possibly implicating themselves."
What I don't get is, if this stuff really happened, how is it possible that he didn't learn from this and avoid the whole Jerusalem Syndrome thing, if that stuff really happened, too?
Chapter nine is hilarious, as Maron tells of his visits to a Philip Morris plant and the Coca-Cola museum. Maron gives great, detailed accounts of these visits and makes many humorous but true, if not obvious, observations.
Chapter ten provides a mish-mash of professional and personal experiences. I simply didn't think this stuff was very interesting or funny.
Chapters eleven through thirteen contain the events foreshadowed in the first chapter, including his trip to Israel and his experience with Jerusalem Syndrome. I don't know how much of this is true or exaggerated, but I thought most of this stuff was pretty stupid. Some of it is funny, but not in a very good way. Perhaps a Jewish person could relate to this more and find some value in it, but I could not.
Chapter fourteen is simply excellent. Maron returns home to do a benefit show for his old synagogue. He sees some friends and acquaintances from his youth and ends up helping out in a pretty big way. This concluding chapter is interesting and touching.
The Jerusalem Syndrome contains very little about Maron's career as a standup comic. There's a little bit about him getting his foot in the door as a comedian at The Comedy Store and then later a bit as he starts to make a name for himself with appearances on television. If you want more on the life and times of a standup comic, I don't think you can do any better than True Story, Bill Maher's fictional story of several standup comics trying to make careers for themselves during standup's golden years.
This book has some really good parts, but at least as many not so good parts. Perhaps the good parts make up for the not so good parts, but overall this was pretty disappointing considering how hilarious Maron's standup is. In any event, I'd rather just have more of Maron's standup comedy on CD or DVD.

Furious Angels
Furious Angels
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 99.93
5 used & new from CDN$ 99.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Incredible, June 4 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Furious Angels (Audio CD)
Furious Angels was originally released internationally (not in the US) on July 1, 2002. Thankfully, it finally got its proper US release on June 3, 2003. This album contains 2 CDs. The first disc features the regular versions of all the songs (same as the initial release), while the second disc (not included with the initial release) features instrumental and remixed versions of most of the songs that Dougan sings on from the first disc.
You've probably heard at least a few of Dougan's songs already, as Clubbed To Death (Kurayamino Variation) was played in The Matrix, Furious Angels (Instrumental) and Chateau were played in The Matrix Reloaded, and I'm Not Driving Anymore (with Dougan singing) was played in Driven.
I don't know exactly what genre this music goes under, as it's part classical, part electronic, part trance, and part techno. I do know, though, that the music is absolutely beautiful, and I think it'll be a long, long time before I get tired of it. Whereas with most of the CDs I buy there are a few great songs, a few good ones, and a couple that are skipped, all of the songs on this CD are at least very good. I do like some of the tracks better than others, but I don't think I'll be skipping any of the tracks even many listenings from now.
Dougan sings on tracks 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14. His voice is deep and somewhat scratchy, similar to Tom Waits' voice. This similarity is most apparent on track 12, Drinking Song. The stark contrast of the beautiful music and Dougan's voice works best on Furious Angels and I'm Not Driving Anymore. The singing works to varying degrees on the other tracks.
The worst track on the CD is definitely track 13, Pause, which is a blatant [copy] of John Cage's 4'33".
None of the tracks on the second disc are less than good, and most are amazing. While some of the tracks are the same as their counterparts on the first disc (except for the lack of Dougan's singing), others are noticeably different, such as I'm Not Driving Anymore which starts off heavy right away instead of building up like the version on the first disc.
The second disc also features high quality mpegs of the music videos for Furious Angels and Clubbed To Death. The Furious Angels video is really weird and kind of silly, but in a very good way (a la Apocalyptica's Hope v2 featuring Sandra Nasic). The Clubbed To Death video is good, but I can't see myself watching it over and over.
I pre-ordered the limited edition a few weeks ago mistakenly thinking that the regular version did not have the second disc. I found out the other day on Dougan's official site that both the regular and limited edition versions of Furious Angels contain both discs with identical content, with the editions differing only in their packaging. I was disappointed when I read on the site that "The limited edition features a 30-page booklet with photos and lyrics." Boy was I surprised when I opened the box from Amazon.com and saw the huge 8" x 12" booklet. The booklet has 15 different pictures in all. Some of the pictures are awesome, such as the ones of the ceramic head exploding, some are OK, such as the ones with the ceramic head on fire, but most of the others are pretty [bad], with pictures of Dougan from what appears to be some sort of modeling photo shoot. The CDs are on soft little holders on the inside of the front and back covers, nearly identical to the packaging for Windows XP.
Also, I read that the earlier import version of Furious Angels was copy protected so it wouldn't play on a computer (unless you take a marker to the outer rim of the CD). I'm glad to report that both CDs play and rip flawlessly on the computer.
If you liked Clubbed To Death, Furious Angels, Chateau, or any other Dougan tracks you've already heard, I think you'll probably love these CDs.

The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Reloaded
Price: CDN$ 21.05
67 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Score (who cares about the soundtrack?), May 25 2003
Ce commentaire est de: The Matrix Reloaded (Audio CD)
With The Matrix Reloaded - The Album, for the price of 1 CD you get 2 - both the soundtrack and the score. The soundtrack is "just ok" for the most part, featuring some songs that were played during the film and 10 minutes of credits, and some that were not. The CD gets off to a pretty good start with the wordless Session by Linkin Park. Marilyn Manson's track is aptly titled, as indeed it is Sh**. Reload by Rob Zombie is OK, but nothing we haven't heard from him a hundred times before. Next is the instrumental version of Furious Angels by Rob Dougan. This is my favorite track on the soundtrack, even though it really belongs on the score CD (and probably would be if not for all the CD-ROM material on the 2nd disc). Lucky You by Deftones sounds like it has potential, but it never really goes anywhere. The Passportal by Team Sleep (never heard of them) isn't terrible, but it sure isn't very exciting. The soundtrack would be greatly improved if instead of featuring the 3:23 Sleeping Awake by P.O.D., there was 3:23 of silence (EOD). Bruises by Unloco (never heard of them) is OK, but again, nothing special. Calm Like A Bomb by Rage Against The Machine is great, like most everything by RATM, but I've heard it a hundred times before. Dread Rock by Oakenfold isn't bad, but it's not great either. Zion by Fluke sounds similar to the previous track. I was kind of surprised by When The World Ends (Oakenfold Remix) by DMB came on when I was sitting through the credits of Reloaded waiting for the Revolutions preview. The vocals are normal enough, but it's coupled with techno music, making for a track that's interesting, anyway.
The 2nd CD, in contrast, is just pure greatness from beginning to end. The first two tracks, Main Title and Trinity Dream by Don Davis sound like they're straight off Davis's great score for the original film. Teahouse by Juno Reactor & Gocoo is a short but good drumming track. Chateau by Rob Dougan is very good. Next is the music from the car chase, Mona Lisa Overdrive by Juno Reactor & Don Davis. This is simply a great track. Burly Brawl is another excellent Juno Reactor & Don Davis collaboration. The score ends with the "Matrix Reloaded" Suite by Don Davis, and harkens back to Davis's score for the first film. It doesn't feature the hard-hitting beats of the rest of the tracks on this score, but it is still good. The score CD also features some CD-ROM material, including previews for Reloaded, the Animatrix shorts (inc. Flight Of The Osiris), and the Enter The Matrix video game. These previews are worth watching once, but they're all available at the official Matrix site.
The soundtrack CD is probably 2.5/5, but the score CD is definitely 5/5. Since you're basically paying full price for the score CD (well worth it) and getting the soundtrack for free (you get what you pay for), I give The Matrix Reloaded - The Album 5 stars.

American Beauty
American Beauty
Price: CDN$ 15.82
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.58

3.0 out of 5 stars This CD does not include several key songs, Feb. 6 2003
Ce commentaire est de: American Beauty (Audio CD)
American Beauty features several great songs in its soundtrack, several of which, unfortunately, are not on this CD. Of the 18 songs listed on IMDB in the film's soundtrack, 9 of those are on this disc. Of the 9 songs in the soundtrack, but not on the CD, 3 in particular are most sorely missed. These are Don't Let It Bring You Down sung by Annie Lennox, American Woman by The Guess Who, and All Along The Watchtower by Bob Dylan. If this soundtrack CD included those 3 songs, this would easily be a 5 star soundtrack CD. I don't mind too much that the other 6 songs in the soundtrack, On Broadway, Tenderfoot, Something Grand, As Long As I'm Singing, Call Me Irresponsible, and Where Love Has Gone aren't on this soundtrack CD, with the possible exception of On Broadway (played by a band, not The Drifters), because the dance routine choreographed to it in the film is rather humorous.
As to the tracks on the soundtrack CD, the first and last are from Thomas Newman's great, instantly recognizable score. The complete score is also available on CD, and I think it is well worth getting. Elliott Smith's cover of The Beatles' Because is quite good, although a better, nearly identical version appears on the second disc of the third volume of The Beatles Anthology. Free To Go by The Folk Implosion is not listed in the film's soundtrack on IMDB, but is included in this soundtrack CD anyway, and it is an okay song. All Right Now by Free is a cool song that I've heard before although I didn't recognize it by name. Cancer For The Cure is a good alternative song that seems out of place on this soundtrack CD. The Seeker by The Who is a good classic rock song that is used perfectly in the film. Don't Rain On My Parade sung by Bobby Darin is a silly song that I don't mind listening to now and again because of its use in the film. We Haven't Turned Around by Gomez is a song that I hadn't heard before but grew on me quickly. It's up there with Elliott Smith's cover of Because and The Who's Seeker as my favorite songs on this CD. Bali Ha'i is an okay song. The other 2 songs on the CD, Use Me and Open The Door are both okay, I guess, but I don't remember them being used in the film.
Overall, the songs on this soundtrack CD range from okay to excellent. Even with the presence of several excellent songs, this does not make up for the fact that the three best songs, which are all used prominently in the film, are not present. I suppose most people already have All Along The Watchtower and American Woman on CD, but most probably don't have Don't Let It Bring You Down on CD. I'm guessing these 3 songs weren't included on this CD because of budget concerns and the licensing fees would have been too much, but I think that was poor judgment because this CD would have been much better with those 3 songs, and probably would have sold many more copies, easily recouping everything spent to include them.
As is, this soundtrack CD is good, but it should have been much better.

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
by Eric Schlosser
Edition: Paperback
141 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by everyone, Jan. 21 2003
Fast Food Nation is much more than an expose of a few seedy things occurring at a few fast food businesses. Indeed, it is an exhaustingly complete in-depth analysis of the fast food industry from top to bottom, past and present. The book contains much information only tangentially related to fast food businesses, but is nonetheless immensely important. The book explains vividly how the nation has been transformed (both physically and mentally) by the rise of the fast food industry and the spread of the fast food mentality.
At times this book is alarming and enraging, but it is always fascinating and engrossing. Schlosser's research is outstanding, and Schlosser's observations and interpretations are always supported by ample evidence.
Quite simply, this book should be read by everyone, as it contains much information that everyone should be aware of, including those who eat fast food multiple times a day, those who wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole, and everyone in between. Fast Food Nation consists of 10 chapters, an introduction, an epilogue, and over 50 pages of notes citing sources for the information presented in the book. The introduction describes how pervasive fast food has become in U.S. society. The first chapter tells the history of the fast food industry, from its humble beginnings to the empire it is today. The second chapter tells how invasive fast food marketing has become in our society, including many ways that I was not previously aware of. Chapter three discusses the situation for fast food business employees, primarily at the individual business level. In the fourth chapter Schlosser reports on how franchises are set up differently in different chains, and how becoming a franchisee in a fast food chain is a choice riddled with risks that are not apparent on the surface. The fifth chapter, titled "Why The Fries Taste Good" contains the history of how the french fry, in all its greasy glory, became one of the staples of fast food cuisine, as well as information on the complicated technology of making fast food fries taste good. The sixth chapter contains information on how individual ranchers and farmers have been negatively affected by the dramatic increase of corporate farms, as well as some startling information on Chicken McNuggets. In chapters seven and eight the meat packing industry is discussed, with chapter seven focusing on how a meat packing plant changes a community and chapter eight focusing on how despite numerous unnecessary injuries to workers, change is not forthcoming. In chapter nine Schlosser reports on how the lax standards in packing plants have exacerbated the spread of E Coli 0157:H7, as well as how school lunches consistently contain some of the worst meat available. Chapter ten, "Global Realization" discusses the global implications of fast food businesses spreading to every corner of the earth. Finally, after all of the numerous complex problems reported in the book, Schlosser explains some simple, common sense solutions in a concise fourteen-page epilogue.
After several years of daily fast food consumption, I've rarely eaten fast food over the past four years, so for me this book was more of a reminder on why not to go back to eating fast food regularly, and not a call to action to a dramatic change in behavior, as I suspect it will be to the one in four Americans who eats fast food at least once daily.
Fast Food Nation is one of those books that everyone should read, and despite being read by many, is missed by those who need to read it the most. This stems from two things. First, I'm guessing that the book reading population and the fast food eating population are for the most part separate groups with little overlap of members. Those who regularly read books usually cook at home or eat at real restaurants while those who eat fast food usually spend most of their free time being entertained by television and video games. Second, this book is extremely alarming and enraging, and those that eat a lot of fast food will probably be the least likely to go to the trouble of seeking out what's all involved with that supersized value meal purchased daily, even though reading the book is in their interest more than anyone else's. So, to try and do some good, I'm going to buy an extra copy of Fast Food Nation to give to someone I know that eats a lot of fast food, and I urge you to do so as well.

Signs (Bilingual)
Signs (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Mel Gibson
Offered by moviemars-canada
Price: CDN$ 6.43
107 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Neither entertaining nor profound, Jan. 3 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Signs (Bilingual) (DVD)
Whereas M. Night Shyamalan's previous two major films The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000) used implausible ideas to try and entertain, Signs (2002) uses far-fetched ideas in an attempt to make a profound statement. The attempt fails, and the film is neither entertaining nor profound. Warning: This review, like most of the ones here, contains spoilers. So, if you haven't seen it then probably skip my review.
The first major idea presented is that crop circles are of extraterrestrial origin. The true, hoax origin of crop circles is acknowledged in the film, and then quickly brushed aside by the fact that in a mere 72 hour period, 18 crop circles were made in India. Surely that is beyond the possibility of human behavior! Just do the math! In the film it says it would take a 2-3 person team 1 night to make a typical group of "circles" in a field. So over 3 nights, that would require 6 2-3 person teams, or a total of 12-18 people in on the hoax. This, in India, which has a population of over 1 billion people. Also, we are told that the crop circles are being used as "markers" for the extraterrestrials to use when their invasion begins. This, from extraterrestrials who are obviously very technologically advanced, being able to travel at very high speeds through space, and to remember where they want to go on Earth they're still relying on forming patterns in crops which will only be visible about half of each day.
Next we are told that the extraterrestrials are probably here to take over the world in order to exploit its natural resources, having depleted their planet's natural resources. This is believable enough, as if the film was set 200 years in the future, I can easily see it being turned the other way around, with humans as the invaders of the extraterrestrial world. But it's all for not as the extraterrestrials traveled across the galaxy and forgot to bring any serious weapons, as the only threat they present to us is their ability to emit a small amount of poison out of their wrists. So the extraterrestrials, without having made any real attempt to take over Earth, go back home just as quickly as they came.
This film does raise some interesting points and questions, though.
When space ships are seen hovering over Mexico City, the comment is made, first by the young son, then by the TV newscaster, that "Everything people have written about in science books is going to change." This is a rather profound statement, but it is probably false. While information from an advanced civilization might give a few insights and refinements that would have taken us a few more decades to find out, the bulk of chemistry, physics, geology, and even cosmology and astronomy would be unaffected. Biology would probably be the most heavily affected science, as studying intelligent extraterrestrial biological organisms that evolved completely independently of life on Earth could provide great insights on common principles of Evolution throughout the universe.
Also, while much attention is given to human beings and religion, the subject of religion is ignored in relation to the extraterrestrials, which is another source for many questions. Were the extraterrestrials theists? While they were above the major cities in their cloaked space ships, were they praying to their God(s) for success in their invasion in order to claim what's left of Earth's natural resources? Or, if the extraterrestrial invasion had nothing to do with our natural resources, then was it a cosmic proselytizing mission, in which the extraterrestrials, with empirical evidence for their God(s), were simply trying to share this evidence with us so we can stop worshiping our false Gods and start worshiping their true God(s)?
And perhaps most importantly, was "swing away" good advice, let alone so good to think it was of divine origin? That is, is there any good evidence to suggest that a God would have a man fall asleep at the wheel and kill an innocent woman so that she could utter the last words "swing away," which would be interpreted by her husband Graham (Gibson), 6 months later, that this meant Merrill (Phoenix) should beat an extraterrestrial in their living room to death with a baseball bat? I don't think so. Merrill owned 5 records in minor league baseball, one of which was the record for the most strikeouts. He probably would have made it to the major leagues if he didn't recklessly "swing away" as he did. It is not plausible that without those last words Graham and Merrill would have been unable to defend their family. Indeed, it is amazing Merrill didn't grab the baseball bat much earlier in the film. An ideal time for Merrill to "swing away" would have been when the family was in the basement by having Graham open the door suddenly and shine the light in the extraterrestrial's eyes while Merrill swung away at the extraterrestrial's head with the pickaxe.
In the end, the film isn't really about crop circles or extraterrestrials but rather about using coincidences as the basis for belief in God. This makes the entire plot with extraterrestrials not only superfluous, but also detrimental. If Shyamalan's goal was to make a film about using coincidences to establish faith in God, then resorting to saying that a hodge-podge of hoaxes and unlikely ideas are also real diminishes this goal. Instead of using extraterrestrials to give "swing away" divine significance, it would be better to have a human burglar or a disgruntled parishioner break into the Hess home, at which point Graham tells Merrill to "swing away" with a bat to protect the family. This would still be weak and desperate, but it would be better than the scenario presented. As is, Signs provides nothing but silly, even if fanciful, ideas and scenarios about crop circles, extraterrestrials, and God.

The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer
The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer
by William Irwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.64
83 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but could have been better, Nov. 16 2002
The cover of the book prominently features the following quotation from Publisher's Weekly: "Each essay provides a hilarious but incisive springboard to some aspect of philosophy." The first part of this statement is false. None of the essays are funny, let alone hilarious. Many of the essays are, however, in addition to being a "springboard to some aspect of philosophy," interesting, relevant, and thought provoking. I especially enjoyed the essays "Homer and Aristotle" by Raja Halwani, "Lisa and American Anti-intellectualism" by Aeon J. Skoble, "Thus Spake Bart: On Nietzsche and the Virtues of Being Bad" by Mark T. Conard, "Springfield Hypocrisy" by Jason Holt, and also "Enjoying the So-called 'Iced Cream': Mr. Burns, Satan, and Happiness" by Daniel Barwick. The 15th essay, "The Function of Fiction" The Heuristic Value of Homer" by Jennifer L. McMahon was interesting and well-written, but really has nothing to do with The Simpsons specifically. This essay should have been the first essay in the book, to set the tone for the rest of the book and also to show why the analytical essays included in the book are worth writing and reading.
This is the 2nd book I read in the Philosophy and Popular Culture series, after the recently released The Matrix and Philosophy. Compared to the essays collected in that book, the essays here are much less profound and much less relevant to the stated subject. A few of the essays in The Matrix and Philosophy really have nothing to do with The Matrix, and probably 4-8 of the 18 essays in The Simpsons and Philosophy would be just as good without any Simpsons references, which suggests that they're really not about The Simpsons at all. I wish that essays more specific to The Simpsons, similar to the first two essays included in the book (the ones mentioned earlier by Halwani and Skoble), would have flushed out the rest of the book, instead of essays not specifically about The Simpsons. McMahon's essay mentioned above and the final essay in the book, "What Bart Calls Thinking" by Kelly Dean Jolly are interesting essays, the former moreso, but are not really specifically relevant to The Simpsons any more than they are to other television programs (not even necessarily cartoons). Also, while The Matrix is a single work that surely everyone who wrote an essay in The Matrix and Philosophy watched, it seems unlikely that those writing essays in this collection have viewed all, most, and probably not even many of the over 200 episodes of The Simpsons. Indeed, the essays "Popular Parody: The Simpsons Meets the Crime Film" by Deborah Knight and "Hey-diddily-ho, Neighboreenos: Ned Flanders and Neighborly Love" by David Vessey each focused on only one episode of The Simpsons. This might have been okay if the episodes were representative of Simpsons episodes, but the general plot and theme of these two episodes are at least quite uncommon in The Simpsons and probably unique. Vessey could have, and should have in my opinion, wrote a more general essay on Flanders' character. Instead, his essay focuses on the silly idea of whether one needs to try to baptize others to save their eternal lives. The essay, I think, was probably about as good as could be being based on this lame idea, and I can only imagine how much better it would have been if it would have been based on bigger, more generalizable aspects of The Simpsons, such as a more complete study into the character of Ned Flanders.
The 4th essay, "Marge's Moral Motivation" by Gerald J. Erion and Joseph A. Zeccardi is particularly egregious in that the authors make blanket generalizations about the show based on events that occur only once or rarely, suggesting that while they are not regular viewers of the show, they are trying to pass themselves off as such. For instance, they write of Marge, "As the wife of an occasionally unemployed, incarcerated, and dimensionally-confused husband, Marge has relatively little to work with financially" (Page 49). These 3 ideas either occur rarely (unemployed or incarcerated) or only once (dimensional-confusion).
I gave this book 3 stars because while I really enjoyed some of the essays, such as the ones I listed above by Halwani, Skoble, and Conard, some of the other essays were mediocre or worse, were only relevant to The Simpsons in the most general of ways. If you've already read much philosophy the ideas in this book, both those tying The Simpsons to major philosophical ideas and those not really about The Simpsons, then this book probably won't give you many additional insights into either The Simpsons or philosophy. Also, some of the analysis presented in the essays really isn't grounded in higher-level philosophy but rather just common-sense observations and connections that could probably be made by just about any intelligent viewer of The Simpsons.

Lullaby: A Novel
Lullaby: A Novel
by Chuck Palahniuk
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Great, until you think about the plot, but then still great., Sept. 25 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Lullaby: A Novel (Hardcover)
Lullaby is my 3rd favorite novel by Palahniuk, behind Survivor and Fight Club, ahead of Invisible Monsters and Choke. Lullaby is hilarious, chock full of the dead-on observations and comments on modern culture that made Palahniuk's first four novels so great. I'd imagine that if you liked them, you'll like this one, too.
(Warning - the following paragraph contains some possible spoilers, but nothing worse than the inside of the jacket cover, which gives way too much away.)
Now then, unless I'm missing something, there's some major logic problems with the search and destroy mission for the "Poems and Rhymes from Around the World" book. So there's 500 copies of the book. Helen, over the past few years, got rid of 300 copies that bookdealers were able to track down. Most of the other 200 copies are in libraries. Why did she ignore these approximately 200 library copies for all that time? These, obviously, are potentially much more dangerous than the bought and sold copies, with each of these copies easily resulting in many deaths. Also, it seems unlikely that 3 copies of a book with a print run of 500 would be in 1 library. Heck, with a print run that low, it's amazing 3 of these books would be in libraries, period. Also, a few things weren't explained that should have been, such as the exact source of the house hauntings, which was presumably Helen, Mona and friends (although this seems so important - maybe I just missed it), and also why some died immediately upon having the poem read or thought unto them, while it was a few hours before others, such as Duncan, died.
Even with the apparent problems listed above, though, this book is still great. After all, I didn't buy it expecting a plot completely devoid of holes.
I think that most Palahniuk fans and also those unfamiliar with his work will enjoy Lullaby immensely, as I did.

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