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Kelly L. Norman "li'l rock & roller" (Plymouth, MI United States)

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Graham Chapman
Price: CDN$ 8.88
52 used & new from CDN$ 3.15

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lego Camelot Number Alone is Worth the Price, July 3 2004
Who would have thought that, after nearly 30 years, the world's goofiest movie could be made even moreso? Not only is this DVD a comedy triumph (it would be simply if it were the DVD version of the classic film, in which a crew too broke to afford horses for King Arthur and his Knights changed history and college kids' banter forever by introducing coconuts as migrating props). Oh, no, this DVD is one that may become a standard for other DVDs. Just look at this list of extras above! To be sure, some of them are fluff. The "load of rubbish" selection is simply some receipts and a few odd notes. But most of it is stupendous.
The first disc contains the movie itself, along with some choices of how to watch it.... subtitles, commentary by directors Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam or by John Cleese & Eric Idle & Michael Palin. Then "for people who don't like the film", there's subtitles from Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Part II". Now, these do not faithfully follow Henry IV verse by verse, but they do come from the play, and it's hilarious how the phrases Shakespeare wrote do actually match up with the action on the screen.
Disc Two contains several mementoes: a film of John Cleese, Terry Jones, and "Grail" production manager John Young (who also played the hapless "Historian" towards the end of the film, and the "I'm not dead!" guy) paying a return visit to Castle Doune , in 2000. At first it's fun to hear them reminisce at the filming site, but since it's a very small spot with nothing but a wall and a bit of ground, they appear uncomfortable and that quickly gets old. More interesting is the home movie made by the two Terries when they looked for prospective film locations in the seventies. Their excitement is palpable.
A somewhat painful scene (except for the chance it gives us to watch Terry Jones in action as a director) is the BBC documentary made during filming. The interviewer seems more interested in trying to be funny himself than in the Pythons. But there are several great comic extras, including words to some songs, a coconut skit, two scenes dubbed in Japanese, and best of all, an animated feature of the "Camelot" scene and song done entirely in Lego...must be seen to be believed.
Finally, someone has made good use of the storage space on a DVD.

Imax / Everest [Import]
Imax / Everest [Import]
3 used & new from CDN$ 53.51

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do they....DO that?, June 30 2004
This review is from: Imax / Everest [Import] (VHS Tape)
Since reading "Into Thin Air", I have become a virtual Everest '96 hound, and this is my first quarry. The IMAX team's goal on Everest was to film David Breashear's expedition in that fateful year, focusing primarily on Ed Viesturs, a seasoned climber from the States, and Araceli Segarra, in her quest to be the first Spanish woman to reach the summit. A lot of attention, deservedly so, is paid as well to Jangbu Sherpa, son of Tenzing Sherpa who accompanied Sir Edmund Hilary in his premier trip to the summit.
And watching these climbers was riveting--ascending sheer sheets of ice, yards high, that look as though they are leaning in towards the climber; crossing bottomless chasms by placing an aluminum work ladder from one side to the other, and using it as a bridge; and feeling (in part through the excellent cinematography) the pull the mountain exerts on them to continue on. But I was floored, completely, by the thought of the cinematic team following along, all the way to the top, regardless of the weight and awkwardness of the equipment. For example, in the aforementioned aluminum ladder scene, shots seem to be taken from each side of the chasm. Had they carried that heavy equipment accross that ladder? And, once they came down from such a difficult and draining climb, they still managed to piece together a marvelous film.
The cinematography, once again, is gorgeous. Shots of the mountain convey not only its beauty, but its terrifying danger, as ice and whirling snow tower over the climbers, as a rescue helicopter wavers, uncertainly, as Liam Nelson explains the scientific impossibility of a helicopter to work in such thin air (it does). Seeing the Icefall alone, I think, was worth the price I paid for the video.
Warning: If you get this movie expecting it to be a documentary covering the Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness Expeditions, chronicled in "Into Thin Air", you will be disappointed. The IMAX expedition was unrelated to the others, and of course the crew could not predict that those expeditions might yield more interesting, if tragic, results. But the teams do interact with each other when it becomes clear that members are facing unexpected danger. I enjoyed "meeting" many of the folks I had read about.
Finally, "Everest", the film, stands on its own. With a terrific story in Araceli Segarra, wonderful images from Utah and Spain as well as Nepal, and a score assisted by George Harrison melodies, it provides a great armchair journey to the top of the world.

In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture
In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture
by Alister McGrath
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.74
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars And we fetched a compass..., June 20 2004
As a latecomer to Christianity, I always hated the KJV. I would get enormously frustrated with people who said it was the "only acceptable translation" (Why the English 1611 translation? Why not the Italian 1730 translation, or the Ugandan 1978 translation?) Those who say the language in the King James is special and more respectful seem to be ignorant of the fact that "thou" is the familiar form of the pronoun "you". In other words, if you call God "thou" you can't call your dog "you". Passages such as "we fetched a compass" (Acts 28:13), which has nothing to do with finding a navigational tool but means the subjects walked from place to place in a circle, throw everyone off.
So as you can imagine, I was surprised to be educated and entertained by "In the Beginning". McGrath doesn't write a humdrum chronology of how the book came to be. He engages us in an enlivened discussion of the times in which King James and the Tudors reigned. His book does a great job of mining some of the natural irony inherent in not only government and religion, but religion and religion, butting heads.
James VI/I (he became I of England while VI of Scotland) was handed a rough job. He knew that avoiding a vernacular text was impossible. But if he sided with the Anglican church and endorsed the currently used Bishop's Bible, the Puritans, who were gaining strength and who preferred Jean Calvin's Geneva Bible, would refuse it, putting James in a precarious position. What would be the punishment for someone who read the "wrong" Bible, unapproved by the King's church? Should they be hanged, as translaters who failed to abide by the monarch's wishes had in the past? On the other hand, how could he allow a translation (the Geneva) whose footnotes were highly politicized, advocating revolution and abolishment of the monarchy?
Thus James' decision to establish a new committee to produce a new English version from available Hebrew and Greek texts was a shrewd political move. Although it apparently was not good enough to satisfy the Puritans, who packed up all their Geneva Bibles and took them to America a few years later, the new Bible soon became known as the preferrable contemporary version.
"In the Beginning" highlights much more. How the invention of the printing press impacted Bible translation. Luther's mass produced German bible. How Calvin came to write the Geneva Bible in the first place. James' personality, including his ambiguous sexuality.
I came away with a definite appreciation for the KJV, as well as for the man who authorized it, who turned the embers of civil war into an opportunity for the making of a masterpiece.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
by Jon Krakauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.95
88 used & new from CDN$ 0.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Page by Page Suspense, June 19 2004
Even if you already know the story of the deadly Mt. Everest expeditions of 1996, you will appreciate Jon Krakauer's own first person account of the Adventure Consultants and the Mountain Madness groups. Both of these expeditions were led by well-seasoned Everest climbers---Rob Hall from New Zealand and Scott Fischer from the States--and had the aid of expert guides, Sherpas from Nepal and "outsiders". But we soon find that even these experienced people are not immune from the human frailties of greed, denial and self-serving. Those Achilles' heels will cause both expeditions to completely fall apart. At the same time, human error combined with the unforgiving terrors of high altitude climbing sets the scene for heroism in many of the climbers and crew.
Krakauer, a journalist who signed on with Hall's expedition to do a story for Outside magazine, doesn't disappoint as weaver of a tale. I took the book everywhere with me while reading it, always eager to find out what would happen next.
If a book that explores deftly our desire to reach an unreachable summit appeals to you....especially when that book does not shy away from the tragedy caused when the desire to reach it undoes common sense and humanity....I highly recommend "Into Thin Air."

Small Comrades: Revolutionizing Childhood in Soviet Russia, 1917-1932
Small Comrades: Revolutionizing Childhood in Soviet Russia, 1917-1932
by Lisa A. Kirschenbaum
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 64.66
11 used & new from CDN$ 14.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected, but Well-Researched, June 10 2004
I had hoped to read about the entire spectrum of life for all children, from infancy through adolescence, in the early Soviet Union in this book. Kirschenbaum has instead reflected on the kindergarten movement in the USSR, with comparisons to the US and German experiences with this new, pre-school phenomena advocated by educators such as Dewey.
Kindergartens in the Soviet Union at this time were more than a half day designed to teach kids how to socialize and begin to learn letters and numbers; even more than a place where they saw pictures of Lenin or Trotsky on the wall. Instead, during this period of constant poverty for many, kindergartens were often free-standing buildings providing not only education, but breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner; clothing; and education for parents on hygiene and health. Orphans stayed overnight at the facilities. As you can imagine, teachers and administrators were charged with doing everything with nothing, and convince their charges that everyone was happy.
In retrospect, it would have been a Herculean task to focus in as much detail as Kirschenbaum has on all ages of Soviet children. She introduces us to many educators who had competing theories about not only kindergarten, but the role of the family in Soviet life. Some, for example, openly advocated the abolition of family and the use of kindergarten to teach children to reject family mores and values. Others reached out to parents to include them in their children's education, in order to have more of an impact in spreading the Communist gospel. In one case that probably exemplified Communist principles the best, the kindergarten was run by the families themselves as a cooperative.
This is a textbook...a good one, but it reads like a textbook. This is not one of those nonfiction books that read like a Michener novel. Even so, if you have a good attention span, I would encourage the curious Russophile to check it out.

Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret  White House Tapes, 1964-1965
Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965
by Michael R. Beschloss
Edition: Audio CD
11 used & new from CDN$ 62.52

3.0 out of 5 stars Finally! the story is told!, June 7 2004
I don't mean LBJ's real thoughts about the Vietnam war, although obviously that is a great revelation. I mean that I know why it took Michael Beschloss so long to finish this follow-up to "Taking Charge"....these tapes are tough to listen to. They are not the entertaining excerpts of the previous volume. The '64-'65 excerpts show more of LBJ's warts, and cover painful ground, primarily concerning the war in Vietnam. Also, there is so much material that, unlike with the first volume, I found myself getting bored at times. Surely Beschloss himself must have found putting this volume together more difficult.
Of course, the fact that negative and humdrum things characterized part of the Johnson's presidency during the two years covered was not Beschluss's fault. But I felt some material, most notably some of the well-wishing calls made by the President and Lady Bird to friends, could have been left out or shortened.
Speaking of Lady Bird, however, she becomes a larger and refreshing presence in these tapes. Johnson apparently looked to her as his best critic (in the best sense of the word); she is heard giving him feedback about many speeches. In an era where we tend to think of Hilary Clinton as the first "co-president", it is interesting to learn how much Johnson relied on his wife.
Although it might not be a CD set to take to the beach, I still recommend the audio version of this work (not the written version; Johnson's delivery is an indivisible component of his personality). These annotated tape excerpts are nothing less than a piece of history.

Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes 1963 1964
Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes 1963 1964
10 used & new from CDN$ 41.21

5.0 out of 5 stars This one you need to hear, not read, June 7 2004
The story is told that when Nixon took office, LBJ showed him around the White House and revealed a hidden taping system. He made the argument that everything a president said or did should be taped for posterity.
Johnson has fared a little better than Nixon viz. the results of such executive record keeping. In the case of excerpts chosen by Michael Beschluss for these tapes (and as the review title suggests, do by the audio version), there is no criminal activity uncovered. Instead, we hear things as diverse as conversations with Martin Luther King about the Civil Rights Act, arm-twisting of Southern Democrats to get that and other progressive laws passed, chilly exchanges between the President and Attorney General Robert Kennedy after President Kennedy's death, and a hilarious exchange with a flabbergasted New York tailor as Johnson asks the tailor to make trousers for him, describing exactly how they should fit around the, anatomy. Of course, there are heartfelt conversations with both Jacqueline and Rose Kennedy immediately after President Kennedy's death. In one very sweet exchange, Jackie refers to media criticism of his calling her "honey" as they flew with the president's body from Dallas to Washington. Kennedy insisted she felt positive about the term of endearment."Honey is loving word, a wonderful word," she tells him.
The 35th President comes across with a multifaceted personality: the dogged politician who won't take no for an answer (and won't forget a favor given); the Texas rancher who doesn't believe in coddling his dogs; the old fashioned Southern gentleman who addressed female officials with charm and not a little flirtation. Throughout the tapes, Johnson is shown trying to get his head around the little "police action" in Southeast Asia he inherited....what would be the downfall of an otherwise successful presidency. That won't happen until a further volume, however; this set of tapes covers only 1963 and 1964. Beschluss's comments (he reads his writing himself) tie the excerpts together chronologically and provide a little editorializing, but solid opinions based on knowledge of the time.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these tapes; I felt as though I was hearing history. In addition, I learned more about one of the most colorful politicians of the twentieth century.

Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan
Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan
by Edmund Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.09
67 used & new from CDN$ 0.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Lifegaurd of a Nation, June 6 2004
The death of Ronald Reagan brought me back to this book, which I last read a couple of years ago. It chronicles everything important, and definitely many things of which I (a socialist-leaning college student during his Presidency) had been unaware.
The best work Morris does in this book chronicles two processes: First, the rise of Reagan's political career, giving generous attention to his subject's tenure at GE Theatre, which gave him the opportunity to share some of his new views (remember, he'd been a staunch FDR democrat up until the 60's), the Goldwater campaign, and the California governership. Second, a wonderfully detailed account of the summits with Mikhail Gorbachev and the President's defense of SDI, popularly called "Star Wars". The result shows a man, a former lifegaurd "who saved 77 lives" we are oft reminded, much more intelligent than he is portrayed in the popular press. He is not above, however, using his appearance of naivete to his advantage His insistance on calling Gorbachev "Mikhail" (with a twinkle in his eye) during the Reykyavic converence, even though he'd been briefed that it was impolite not to refer to him without his patronymic, i.e. "Mikhail Sergeievitch", unsettles the General Secretary just enough to cause annoyance, but not censure. There was no question, Morris contends, that Reagan knew exactly what he was doing.
I found Morris's use of fictional devices annoying, too. And although he has explained that his subject was so cold and distant at times, he needed the two fictional protagonists to pull the story together, truly the rest of the "story" stands on its own. At times his fictional characters overshadow the real ones. And then it's only the promise of page after page of accurate revelations that keep one from abruptly ending the book and calling it a stalemate. My hope is that he has learned his lesson about this and will continue to apply his talents in research and prose without artificially inserting devices that simply confuse the reader.

The Bounty (Widescreen Edition) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
The Bounty (Widescreen Edition) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
DVD ~ Mel Gibson
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 10.57
25 used & new from CDN$ 7.48

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, June 4 2004
I must say that this is the first film or book I've been fully exposed to concerning the Bounty and its men. I was drawn to this DVD primarily because of my secret love affair with Mel Gibson (he doesn't know about it; that's what makes it secret).
But I was hoping the story would be exciting and well-written too. Except for very good acting by a number of persons, including Wi Kuki Kaa as the king of Tahiti and father of Christian Fletcher (Gibson)'s love interest (That little--never mind.)Considering both Gibson and Sir Anthony can act with both hands tied behind their back balancing a dolphin on their heads, I was not surprised by the characterizations of Mssrs. Bligh and Christian--a ray of light in the film. The scenery is magnificent, and the storm scenes exciting. But rather than sail, it floundered.
My problem with this film was believability. In short, since the overall theme was a cruel ship's master driving his first mate and others to mutiny, I expected to find Bligh's character to be some shade of ruthless. I also thought he was supposed to run the ship with obsessive authoritarianism, carping at the crew for the slightest departure from English decorum. A scene of the crew dancing reluctantly to a fiddle tune (the world's first aerobics class!) certainly exhibited a difference between captain and crew as to what they thought sailors should be doing. But is that any different than drills current people in the service (whether in Britain or elsewhere) are told to do? At any rate, the dance "class" seemed more the idea and for the enjoyment of the 3rd in command, who seemed to get a lot of joy out of it, not the captain, who looked on nervously.
It was only after several people had deserted, his first mate directly disobeyed orders, and all the sailors were involved in behavior not appropriate for officers to be doing in public, that he really made waves.
But that is part of the problem, too. Up until that point, the movie seemed like an apologia for Bligh. But after he did get fed up to the gills, ordering cruel punishments for small infractions, and re-ordering the ship back through a dangerous zone for his own glory, that didn't seem the case. Note, however, that all this occurred after the mutineers were hatching their plot. Neither Bligh nor Christian come out smelling like an anenome in this seafaring tale.
This would have been a fine movie to rent. It's exciting at points, beautiful, and romantic. But as a story, it does not hang together well. I would not recommend shelling out any fins to buy it.
(But don't pirate it either, that's illegal).

Sign of the Truth
Sign of the Truth
Price: CDN$ 19.04
14 used & new from CDN$ 3.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Not Tish's Best...but that's still pretty good!, May 10 2004
This review is from: Sign of the Truth (Audio CD)
This is not my favorite of Hinojosa's work. The CD itself seems crowded....electric guitars, a piano and synthesizers figure in. Her voice also seems over-produced.
That said, these are still Tish's songs, and they do much to enlighten us about her love for her culture. The title is an anthem...typical for Tish in a way, in that she often includes songs uplifting the poor and disenfranchised on her CDs; but this time she acknowledges that all of us are drawn to the things that "mirror" success to us....youth, beauty,success, money. She got some flak for this as if she was endorsing such an outlook, but the song merely states that as humans we get drawn into seeking those things. "Roses Around My Feet" teases with an inviting melody, but refers to a Latino saying that means, you're just flattering me, I don't trust your words.
My favorite, sad as it seems, is "Fencepost", with only Tish's voice and piano. "Feelin' like a fencepost/Looking at a railyard/Everything's gray/My heart's pinned away/.....I'm broken...but I can't seem to just fall down." Haunting melody, with words that anyone who has faced a period of burnout in their lives will relate to.
This isn't the Western Swing or the Mexican Ballad type of CD that Tish has done before, and it may suggest a bit of a nod to mainstream pop, but it is still strong.

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