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Dude, Where's My Country?
Dude, Where's My Country?
by Michael Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.85
59 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars If you're looking for the book version of Fahrenheit 9/11 .., July 16 2004
... then you're close with this one, but not quite there. I've read this book, and I've seen Moore's movie. The movie is funnier and more lighthearted at times. It's also very moving and extremely thought-provoking. The book is relatively more heavy handed and more like a rant than 'docu-tainment'. It has its funny moments, but not in the same style as the film.
But much of the same material is here. For example, he addresses the issue of the bin Laden family's evacuation by air from the US in the days after September 11th when all other air travel was shut down.
But this book was written before the Iraqi war, which is much of the material in the movie, which was filmed much later than this book was written. So Iraq isn't dealt with.
Furthermore, Moore is more aggressive on the topics of war. One chapter in this book is called "How to Stop Terrorism: Stop Being A Terrorist!"
If you're a Moore fan, get it. If you saw Fahrenheit 9/11 and are looking for the book version ... just realize that this was published before Iraq. And there's no hip soundtrack. But it's still work getting.

Our Mutual Friend
Our Mutual Friend
VHS

5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and intriguing, intelligent and fun, July 16 2004
This review is from: Our Mutual Friend (VHS Tape)
I love this movie. I first saw it on PBS, and only because a family member made me do it. I'm not a PBS'er by nature, but once I got into this, I was hooked. This is a Dickens' novel that I can't believe I'd never heard of before, because it's easily one of his best. It contrasts two segments of old English society, in typical Dicken's style. The "dustmen" earn their living from "dust" - sort of the old English equivalent of junkyards, but worse - the dead bodies cast into the river. Dustmen go through their pockets and scavange old estates to sell off their loot for income. The story opens with an intriguing murder mystery. In the confusion, one dustmen and his wife inherit a large sum of money and find themselves in high society and trying to cope. But ... whose money is it really? Who are their real new - and old - friends? And while these folks - the Boffins - are main characters, they are, by no means, the only ones. Along the way there are two major romantic stories that weave throughout and form the core of the story. But this is not just a "chick flick", it's a brilliant study of old 19th century British culture. The story includes some rather enchanting surprises. And the number of very original and interesting characters are funny, heartbreaking, insightful, inspiring, maddening, and more.
One suggestion: some of the British accents are hard to make out. I put the "closed caption" feature on my TV so I could read what the characters were saying. Makes it a lot easier to understand some of the more extreme English accents.
All the acting is top-notch, but one acting job bears note: Anna Friel is brilliant in this film.
I've watched my tape many times, all six hours of it. I love it. SO GET IT ALREADY!

Reagan
Reagan
DVD ~ David Ogden Stiers
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 62.93
8 used & new from CDN$ 41.27

3.0 out of 5 stars A restrained "ok", June 7 2004
This review is from: Reagan (DVD)
This is a good documentary about an outstanding President. It could have been better, given the subject matter. It betrays some bias, and has some glaring omissions. But until the great Reagan documentary is made, this is the best of what I've seen so far. It does an informative job on Reagan's youth, his Hollywood years through the governorship and finally the White House. The primary focus is Reagan's fight against communism. It has fascinating interviews with major players in the US/Soviet negotations from both sides.
There are several omissions, such as the highly controversial bombing of Tripoli, which history now shows was successful in halting terrorism from Libya - but no mention. No mention of the invasion of Grenada. References to Reagan's faith are sometimes done with at least some mild contempt and derision, by "experts" who smirk very subtley in reference to Reagan's Christian faith.
Most of the family is included: Nancy, daughters Maureen and Patti, and son Ron. A glaring omission: second child Michael Reagan was a conservative talk radio host when this film was made, and had become the best spokesperson for his father's conservative ideals of all the children. But he's excluded entirely.
Remarkably, many of the actual participants in world history are included. James Baker, Margaret Thatcher, Sec of State George Schultz, Mikhail Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders, Natl Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, Michael Deaver, Lyn Nofziger, Donald Regan, Howard Baker, even astrologer Joan Quigley. Many, many more.
Some criticisms of Reagan are major leaps in logic. For example, Reagan's advocacy of the Strategic Defense Initiative, which was key in the final Cold War negotiations, is presented as a fanciful idea, and Reagan is presented as somehow confusing reality with an old movie role he once played that featured a secret space 'ray gun' weapon. The narrator makes the comment that "It was sometimes difficult for Ronald Reagan to distinguish fantasy from reality." On the other hand, James Baker and others who were actually there explain their position that Reagan was actually a clever negotiator.
The documentary misses a great opportunity to present the "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech with the great drama and emotion it deserves. In the midst of the speech - arguably one of the most powerful of the 20th century - the narrator interrupts to say "Ronald Reagan had almost no experience in foreign policy, little knowledge of history, and a capacity to be disengaged that grew worse as he grew older. But he never lost his sense of America's mission." Totally destroys a powerful moment.
Still, there are some powerful and dramatic moments that shine through. It's a selective biography with the fingerprints of a left-wing team that was reluctant to be tasked with this job. It has several great moments - any story of Reagan has to - yet fails to fully present the powerful story of a President who is arguably one of the greatest in American history. If you're interested in Reagan, get it. But don't let it be your only source of knowledge of this great president, and this critical time in American history.

Enter the Detective
Enter the Detective
by Mark Waid
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 18.29

5.0 out of 5 stars An Original On Par With Stan Lee, March 16 2004
This review is from: Enter the Detective (Paperback)
As I read this book, I kept thinking "this is the best I've seen since Stan Lee". But this isn't a "super-hero" book, it's very unique. Nevertheless, this is comic book storytelling at its finest. The artwork is absolutely magnificent, the dialogue is intelligent and is superbly woven into the art with a skill I haven't seen since the 1960's Marvel line, but it's done with a very modern production quality worthy of the 21st century, with very high gloss paper and color work that is magnificent.
The "Ruse" series takes place in a fictional town that's a Victorian England or perhaps America, but with an ever-so-slight suggestion of fantasy - gargoyles fly like bats, for example. The premise: Emma Bishop is the sexy and smart - but still green - assistant to the brilliant but distant Simon Archard, a sort of dashing and very serious Sherlock Holmes type. As much as Archard's brilliance is widely respected, nobody but Emma knows why he often escapes harm's way, not even Archard ... This book is the republished edition of the first 6 comic books from "Ruse", a monthly comic series published by the new company "CrossGen". "Ruse" lasted about 25 or 30 issues, when the storyline concluded, and the characters were taken into other books.
Since this book is the reprint of Ruse issues 1 through 6, it contains plots that resolve, but subplots that continue into issues 7 and beyond - which are also reprinted in books like this one. This particular book, "Enter the Detective", is the starting point, and comes in two different editions. Both are bound paperback, graphic novel style. One is the "traveler edition", which is a smaller version - meant for travelling, I guess - but because this artwork is so absolutely beautiful, I found myself wanting the other edition, which reprints the comics in their original larger size.
As a collector of comics from the early days of Spider-Man, and a fan of the old artwork of the early Marvel Conan the Barbarian, I have to say - this is THE FIRST production I've appreciated since those days (other than Alex Ross' work). And it's brilliant without being foul - so many of the new comics are filled with R-rated material or lower. I found myself so caught up on the story and the art with this that it wasn't until much later that I realized - this is actually fine for kids. (Strange that you have to consider that with comics, but that's the way it is nowadays.) Sexy but not raunchy, intelligent and engaging, dramatic yet credible story lines, this has it all. Mark Waid wrote all 6 issues. Butch Guice was the artist for issues 1 through 5, and Jeff Johnson was the artist for issue 6. Johnson's work is not QUITE as good, but still well done.

The Spy Wore Red
The Spy Wore Red

5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Clancy - Read This Fantastic True Story!, March 7 2004
This review is from: The Spy Wore Red (Paperback)
This is a non-fiction book, but reads better than any novel I've ever read. The true story of a woman who was recruited out of the modeling and fashion industry to become a spy for the United States during World War II, working in high society Portugal and Europe, going to parties by night, conducting clandestine operations by day, and all the while working to combat the Nazis and turn the tide of war. This is a real live female James Bond, and she wrote this book herself. Her real life adventures are more thrilling than any spy novel or movie I've experienced, and her writing style is extremely readable and interesting. Highly recommended.

Digital Fortress: A Thriller
Digital Fortress: A Thriller
by Dan Brown
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
175 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent thriller at the NSA, March 6 2004
This book does NOT have the same claims as Brown's "Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons", which claim that the references to art, history, symbology, etc., are all true. But this is a fun and quick book, I started it one evening and was done by the next afternoon. DVC and AD are two VERY similiar stories, and "Digital Fortress" is somewhat similar: the plot consists of a 24 hour period, and includes a dashing academic and a beautiful professional solving a mystery at the NSA, and it involves mysterious murders and international clandestine operations in a tense fast-paced plotline. But "Digital Fortress", as opposed to DVC and AD, is more about the plot and less about the environment. For example, cryptonalysis plays a prominent role in this book, but nearly as much as the symbology and anagrams of DVC or AD. If you're looking for the cryptographic equivalent of Da Vinci Code, this isn't really it. And as someone who grew up in the DC area and knows a bit about the workings of this town, I can say that the details in this book involve some real fiction. (For real insight into the NSA, I would suggest the non-fiction work by James Bamford called "The Puzzle Palace".) And the plot makes some real major leaps and includes a few rather obvious 'mysteries' and plot twists. But it's fast paced and fun nevertheless - for a decent work of fiction with some anagrams and a bit of the US intelligence network, "Digital Fortress" does the trick.

Rich Dad's Guide to Investing: What the Rich Invest in, That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
Rich Dad's Guide to Investing: What the Rich Invest in, That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Edition: Paperback
178 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Get it, Feb. 26 2004
Best book from the "Rich Dad Poor Dad" series, and much more comprehensive then the title implies. This isn't about how to buy stocks - on the contrary, Kiyosaki doesn't like stocks and mutual funds. He redefines "investing" using legal and technical terms and tools that I've never read about anywhere else. For example, "accredited investors" are an SEC officially recognized category of investor who is allowed to invest in certain instruments and assets that the average investor isn't even aware of, but Kiyosaki explains what it is, how to become one, and many other reasons why the rich get more return for their money than the middle class does. A rare and well-written book.

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not!
Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not!
by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Edition: Paperback
170 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Starting Point for a New Life, Feb. 21 2004
This is a fantastic book. It's not the last book you'll ever read on how to build your personal wealth. But it will re-position and re-focus your thinking like no other book I've read. "Rich Dad" is the father of the author's childhood friend, and "Poor Dad", is not only the author's own father, but you'll eventually discover that he was the governor of Hawaii. The author's point is that a lifetime of watching both fathers work and build their futures left him realizing that the benevolent and loving "Poor Dad" was ultimately left with relatively little financially, while the "Rich Dad" spent a lifetime doing unconventional things that positioned him extremely well. The author brilliantly shares how he learned the carefully taught lessons of his "Rich Dad", and changed his thinking to realize, for example, (a) your house is not an asset, (b) only assets that produce income are truly "assets" - such as rental property, small businesses, etc., (c) income earned by employees is fully taxed, but that same income earned by a business is not, (d) and much more. I get the impression that Kiyosaki was probably an early student of the "no money down" real estate types, since it appears that his early success was related to real estate. But this is not a real estate book - it's much more, a solid foundation for building solid wealth. The biggest lesson of this book: learn to fully understand balance sheets. Not that this book will TEACH you to understand them, it won't. But it will convince you, in a conversational and engaging manner, why this and so many other fundamental thought processes work for the rich, and how so many Real People don't even know about them.

Angels & Demons
Angels & Demons
by Dan Brown
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.99
377 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Thriller / Vatican and Rome Thriller, Feb. 19 2004
If you read "The Da Vinci Code", you'll find this book very similar. Both books feature the Harvard symbologist Richard Langdon. But take "The Da Vinci Code", and replace Paris with Rome, the Louvre with the Vatican, the beautiful sidekick Sofie with the beautiful sidekick Vittoria, Da Vinci with Galileo, the Priory of Sion with the Illuminati, a murdered grandfather with a murdered adopted father, genius on crutches with genius in a wheelchair, lone crazed albino monk wreaking terror while working for an unknown leader with lone crazed "Hassassin" wreaking terror while working for an unknown leader, and secret ancient codes in artwork with secret ancient codes in stone sculptures, and ...
.. voila, you have "Angels and Demons".
(Technically, it's the other way around - this book was written before "The Da Vinci Code".)
But I have to say - in spite of the identical formula, I still - even though I had JUST read Da Vinci Code - I STILL found myself being surprised by this book. I really got into this book more than Da Vinci Code. It's good. The descriptions of the Vatican are fascinating all by themselves.
In fact, while I really was interested in "The Da Vinci Code", this book - "Angels and Demons" - leaves me wanting to visit Rome and see all the places mentioned in this book.
Excellent reading, very interesting and engaging, and just when you think you've figured it out it surprises you. Highly recommended.

The Da Vinci Code: A Novel
The Da Vinci Code: A Novel
by Dan Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.69
374 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great novel, but the 'factual' parts ... ?, Feb. 19 2004
This book starts with a claim that all references in the novel to art, architecture, secret societies and symbols are all factual. Well, I'm not convinced of THAT, but as a NOVEL this is a great book, along the lines of Tom Clancy or John Grisham. The entire story takes place in a single 24 hour period, and reads fast. A murder is uncovered in the Louvre and the victim left clues ... but to what? Not the identity of the murderer, as it turns out, but to something much more significant. The main character, Richard Langdon, solves the victim's riddles that point to clues hidden in ancient artwork by Da Vinci and others - symbols and clues which the author claims are all REALLY there. Along the way the characters teach you a lot about history of art, the Church, pagan practices, and more. I got the impression that this extremely good suspense novel was really just an excuse to present the main contents of another book I'd read several years ago, called "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", and my suspicions were confirmed when that specific book is actually referenced by the characters in THIS book.
The good news about "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", and this book, is that they both raise some really fascinating questions about history that have great merit, and explain the origins of commonly used words, and practices of holidays and the origin of playing cards and more in ways that are riveting and challenging. But the bad news is that they ultimately claim that Jesus fathered a lineage of descendants that live to this day, a claim for which no serious evidence is offered. So the ultimate point is a real quantum leap with no evidence to support it. But the ride to GET to that point is well worth the effort in spite of itself. Great book.

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