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the wizard of uz (Studio City, CA United States)

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The Importance of Being Famous: Behind the Scenes of the Celebrity-Industial Complex
The Importance of Being Famous: Behind the Scenes of the Celebrity-Industial Complex
by Maureen Orth
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Our Culture Isn't, July 19 2004
I loved the phrase coined by Orth, " The Celebrity-Industrial Complex. " Note that media news are now 24/7, talking heads proliferate on TV and the quickest way of getting your leg broken is to get between a camera and Gloria Allred.
We do know, don't we, that if every celebrity on the planet were to die tomorrow 'The Complex' would replace them with a new crop by next week? There's no way The Enquirer is going out of business.
For that matter, the author notes that the trend is catching and irreversible: " One need not look further than PAGE ONE of the distinguished New York Times to see how far celebrity coverage has come . . it has featured such previously unthinkable stories about the deaths of singers Aailayah and Celia Cruz, not to mention the mauling of Las Vegas liontamer Roy...and an analysis of the career of Britney Spears. "
I don'tunderstand the negative reviews, unless they were expecting a 'how to ' achieve fame book, or, as implied, they've read all Vanity Fair articles for the last ten years between memorizing The Summa Theologica and The Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Whatever. Now name a better critique on our pop-culture. For my money, " Bobos in Paradise " is excellent but it's not in the same ballpark.
BTW, have you notied that when Columbine, 9/11 or other major public tragedies occur that reporters, when commenting on the bravery of some of the victims or rescuers involved, inevitably mention something to the effect that these were ordinary people who acted with extraordinary valor due to extreme circumstances?
Why doesn't anyone hazard the opinion that these were extraordianry individuals who acted with characteristic valor and decency under extreme circumstances?
Gee, could it be that by "ordinary" we DO NOT mean that they weren't Mozart or Einstein. Could we mean that what we're really saying is that they were firefighters or schoolteachers instead of Pop-Celebs?
Almost non-persons. Oh, yes, I forgot, there's a word for them: Nobodies.
God, or somebody , help us!
Outstanding book. As funny as it is painful.

The Zen of Living and Dying: A Practical and Spiritual Guide
The Zen of Living and Dying: A Practical and Spiritual Guide
by Philip Kapleau
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.90
20 used & new from CDN$ 6.50

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing and silly but well meaning., July 1 2004
Roshi Kapleau plunges into theodicy and theology in order to convince us that, aw shucks, death ain't no big deal.
Since The Buddha did not profess belief in God or gods, when a Buddhist writes about the supernatural (by any other name) it's inevitably bizarre.
You have died and been reborn countless of times.
( Without a 'God'--HOW?)
Simple. Reincarnation, in case it's not self evident to you, is as real and natural as the laws of physics.
Are you are suffering horrors now? You deserve it. Just take roshi's word for it. You were horrid in a last life. Furthermore you will be reborn again---this is an absolute certainty---as is the fact that there are 9 levels of conciousness (Why not 81/2?--Well, I guess Fellini might sue)
It's nutty enough when Christians argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. When a Zen master goes this route, it's unintentionally comical. Grotesque, really, since the subject is death--which ought not be trivialized---and since all this theology-by any-other-name has nothing to do with Satori, Mind, or the " Awakened One. " The historical Buddha.
Anecdotes proliferate and take the place of arguments, as do quotes from obscure authors. Lepp (who?) tells us that we fear death because "In the older civilizations of the East, relatively little importance is given to individual destiny, in the prosperous West, we live more exclusively for ourselves and our sense of self-identity is more developed."
Makes you want to run off to India to live in a mud hut by a garbage pile, doesn't it?
Lepp, of course, is French and rich.
Finally, as in most Zen books, we are assured that there is no ego or 'I'. That's an illusion, we are all one--a fact which 'I' try to convince my 'landlord' when 'he' insists 'I' owe him rent. Thus far, alas, 'he' has not converted to Zen. Ditto the I.R.S.
(sigh)
Ok, time to re-incarnate as a fox a thousand times for this review. . .

Love in the Time of Cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edition: Paperback
77 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars " The only regret I will have in dying . . ., June 27 2004
Is if it is not for love."
This is the principal theme of Gabriel Garcia Marquez " Love in the Time of Cholera", his greatest novel. The second is waiting for the impossible to come true.
Absolute devotion to an unrequited passion for 50 years? A frock coated inoffensive looking fellow who seduces over seven hundred women to ease his sorrow? Octagenarians acting like besotted adolescents?
What on earth is going on here?
Why, it's true love, of course, in all its indecency, selfishness, dissapointments, self-illusion and beauty.
Sample passage:
"Don't force me to shoot you ", he said.
Florentino Ariza felt his intestines filling with cold froth. But his voice did not tremble because he felt himself illuminated by the Holy Spirit.
"Shoot me," he said, with his hand on his chest. "There is no greater glory than to die for love."
-----------------------------------------------------------------
The novel opens up by introducing us to Dr. Juvenal Urbino. He's received an urgent call. Someone has committed suicide by cyanide.
Here are the author's first words:
" It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. "
The dead man turns out to be his friend and chess partner.
Marquez then proceeds to draws us into the world of Dr. Urbino, vividly and irresistibly. Clearly one feels that the sympathetic Juvenal Urbino is going to be an unforgettable character.
And then we discover that Urbino is not the protagonist.
Say what?

Don't fight it, enjoy the language and take the last riverboat ride down the jungle.
A work of genius and magic.

Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality
Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality
by Mabel Dodge Luhan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.40
24 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best autobiography that you've never heard of . . ., June 3 2004
In 1917 socialite Mabel Dodge Luhan and her somewhat whining husband leave New York for the edge of the world: The New Mexico desert. After a series of misadventures, she decides-or is forced--to finally grow up at the age of 40+. She also falls in love with an American Indian, and they live happily ever after.
If this sounds corny enough to be made into a chickflick movie of the week on Lifetime, trust me, it's not.

This is honest writing, profound and haunting.
We don't believe in genius loci these days, we're told we'll be the same person, that we can't change ourselves by changing locales.
(Um... anyone fought in a war, sailed around The Agean, climbed The Alps, or been exiled in a foreign country?)
Well, let's not quibble. Suffice it to say that if the Southwest does have magic, it comes forth in this book.
A wonderfull treasure.

Living with Nietzsche: What the Great "Immoralist" Has to Teach Us
Living with Nietzsche: What the Great "Immoralist" Has to Teach Us
by Robert C. Solomon
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 28.45

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is there an editor in the house?, May 30 2004
Horrible writer. Someone should send the good professor Strunk's "The Elements of Style" for his birhtday. The man has never met a parenthesis he didn't like.
I'm not certain what " The Great Immoralist" has taught him but whatever it was, it wasn't how to keep the reader awake.
Rather ironic when one considers that is a study of the one philosopher since Plato who is a joy to read simply for the boldness and power of his style, the outrageous Freddy.
Worth 2 stars for the chapter on Nietszsche's virtues, as contrasted with Aristotle's. Fascinating.
Yes. both were moralists to the core and no, Nietszche wasn't a nihilist.
Wake me up when a second edition comes out that neither rambles nor repeats the same points endlessly.
Hmm...is that "Eternal Recurrence"?
(sigh)

The other side of deception: A rogue agent exposes the Mossad's secret agenda
The other side of deception: A rogue agent exposes the Mossad's secret agenda
by Victor Ostrovsky
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 22.10

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would Anyone Care to Hunt Dragons?, April 23 2004
Without becoming one, that is.
Alongside the author's previous "By Way of Deception." This book, also a best seller, contains a depressing and chilling expose of The Mossad, Israel's intelligence service.
Unlike any other 'true espionage account' you might have hitherto read it is, as the saying goes, impossible to put down. Absolutely riveting. Though by the end the question is not 'Who are the good guys?' It's more like ' Who in The Middle East is NOT completely insane ? '
Ostrovsky was a former colonel in the Israeli armed forces before he joined Mossad. No one contends that he was a field officer, well connected and in the know. He was fired after a fracas in Cyprus, in which he contends he was forced to take the fall for his incompetent superiors. This would never have happenned in the Israeli Defense Forces, not without a proper hearing. However The Mossad, as he never tires of telling us, is a law unto itself.
According to the author it has become a 'rival state' comprised of good ole boys answerable only to the Prime Minister--at least in theory. In fact, it answers to no one.
Dissatisfied intelligence officers who have been, rightly or wrongly, given the boot writing scathing memoirs is not news.
However if, say, a CIA operative turned 'liberal' upon termination of employment alleged ONE TENTH of what Ostrovsky alleges, the scandal that would follow dwarf Watergate and Iran/Contra combined.
Among a few:
* The Mossad regards anyone in Israel who believes in peace with the Palestinians, or withdrawal from the occupied territories as little better than a traitor. It has sold arms and provided information to fundamentalist extremist Muslim groups via third parties in order to undermine the stability of Arab States and the credibility of their leaders with The West. Anything to keep the conflict burning.
* The Mossad planned to assasinate president George Bush Sr at the Madrid peace talks in 1991, due to his policy of pressuring Israel to the negotiaing table by freezing their loan guarantees.
A special Kidon (bayonet, i.e; hit men) unit took three Palestinian extremists from Beirut and set them up. The Mossad was to kill the 'perpretators' in the ensuing confusion after they had shot the president. Due to inside info Ostrovsky obtained, he was able to blow the whistle and the plan was cancelled--as were the three Palestinians, at the Nes Ziyyona facitlity, an ABC (atomic, bacteriological, chemical) warfare lab where the author contends top epidemiogical scientists routinely use enemies as human guinea pigs.
* The Mossad, did indeed murder their billionare operative Robert Maxwell, let Jonathan Pollard hang out to dry, and (ready?) assasinated Israeli general Yekutiel Adam a.k.a. "Kuti" because he had been appointed its head and they didn't want an 'outsider' taking over.
Now if all this---and much more---sound like the ravings of a lunatic, he's an extremely meticulous and detailed one.
Still, one wonders if the Mossad is a loose cannon, why Ostrovsky chose to trust anyone in it, after fleeing Israel.
He tells us that after getting sacked he got news that he was about to be made a liason to South Lebanon (as good as a death sentence) and a certain Ephraim---a higher ranking officer saved him by helping him escape to the U.S.
Whereupon Ephraim called in the favor qnd talked him into 'reforming' the organization by doing everything possible to undermmine it, thus bringing 'liberals' like Ephraim to power.
If we're not through the looking glass yet, here we go: The undermining consisted in Victor volunteering his services as an ex-Mossad agent to The British, The KGB, The Jordanians (!) and The Egyptians, among others.
The KGB didn't bite because they had a mole inside--however their refusal confirmed Ephraim's suspicions--he uncovered the mole and became a hero. The Brits were more accomodating, but cheap. The Jordanians--well, you've got to read that chapter, suffice it to say that according to Victor he had to fly to Jordan, whereupon things got very James Bondian and even more surreal. The Egyptians threw him in a cell.
In the end, Ephraim does take over but then he tries to assasinate Victor, to tie up loose ends.
Compelling, well documented, and absolutely nuts.

Worlds That Weren't
Worlds That Weren't
by Harry Turtledove
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.05
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars German Freddy vs. Wyatt Earp !, April 9 2004
This review is from: Worlds That Weren't (Paperback)
Allright, I've read Nietsche and I've visited the OK Corral. I've got a copy of The Tombstone Epitaph dated October 27, 1881 with the headline "Yesterday's Tragedy--Three Men Hurled Into Eternity In The Duration Of a Moment." so you might be inclined to think that I'd probably give the last novella: " The Last Ride of German Freddy " by Nebula award winner and Kenpo Karate fanatic Walter John Williams the best marks , right?
You're right.
But not for the reasons you might imagine. It really stands out worlds apart (pun intended) from the other three 'alternative history' fantasy stories. Yes, I'm familiar with Greek history, and the catastrophic invasion of Syracuse. When Mark Twain was asked what was the turning point in his life he quipped "When Caesar crossed the Rubicon. "
He was right, of course, it changed Western Civilisation! Had he wanted to risk being a bit more obscure he could have gone further back in time and replied " When Alcibiades was arrested on the way to Syracuse. " If he hadn't, the expedition probably would have succeeded and it would have been The Athenian, not The Roman Empire that conquered the known world. However Harry Turtledove's handling of the story is lame, not because he has--as one reviwer noted--Socrates as an unlikely character aiding Alcibiades (Socrates did in fact fight as an Athenian hoplite, though not at Syracuse) but because the story never gets off the ground. It just doesn't deliver the goods.
Worse still are S.M Stirling and Mary Gentle's offerings. Were they in a hurry?
Ok, so it's er...light summer reading.
By contrast 'German Freddy' with Nietsche as a gambler and gunslinger in The Wild West who berates Curly and John Ringo for bribing elections--not because it's dishonest, but because these outlwas are now becoming 'citizens and taxpayers' instead of the warlike 'Roman Supermen' he admires ("What was Romulus? A bandit!) Falling in love with Tombstone's 'Helen of Troy' (Sadie) and debating philosophy with Doc Holliday between Poker hands is a pure delight. Well crafted and suspensefull.

Revolution in Judaea: Jesus and the Jewish Resistance
Revolution in Judaea: Jesus and the Jewish Resistance
by Hyam Maccoby
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 80.87

3.0 out of 5 stars The Jewish Rebuttal, April 2 2004
The granddaddy of all the 'Jesus was a fellow Jew, a Prophet who was completely orthodox in his belief, and you crazy goyim have made a pagan god out of him--with which you've tortured us for 2,000 years'.
Possibly the best written book of its genre, originally produced in 1973 and recently re-issued under the title of "Jesus the Pharisee"
It should be required reading in all Christian seninaries (if you can't rebutt the rebuttal no graduation for you, brother!)
Unfortunately, it suffers from two serious flaws--neither of which is theological in nature but it does corrupt what could have otherwise been accurate history;
1. Prof. Maccoby is slightly off his rocker when it comes to his hatred for Christians: " I do not blame the Germans for the Holocaust, I blame Christendom. "
He has graced (or embarassed) fellow Jewish scholars with his 'Paul the Mythmaker' (Paul was a Gentile only pretending to be Jewish) and 'Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil' (Judas never existed but his name sounds like 'Jews'--so he was added as a symbol of treachery)
Both works are, to be kind, speculative.
Here he is on firmer ground as he draws on Rabbinical arguments which have been around for centuries and wraps them up in a fine literary style. Still, his emotions get the best of him, rather like a prosecuting attorney who lays charges upon charges on the accused and loses the main thread.
For example he points out that in Luke Jesus appointed 72 followers, sent them ahead in pairs to visit places WHICH HE INTENDED TO VISIT HIMSELF.
This, Maccoby argues, is an indication that Jesus did not intend to die in Jerusalem but instead to be crowned there and that the 72 were preparing for his Inaugural Procession as King, but he then ruins the argument by overkill, stating that another incident that 'slipped through Luke' was Jesus distributing swords to his followers before Gethsemene. This makes him sound like Wyatt Earp before the gunfight at the OK Corral; It's a ludicrous interpretation of that passage, which is contradicted by Luke's next sentence.
Likewise, while Pilate is portrayed as responsible for Jesus's death, and the Gospel of John as anti-semitic, Maccoby believes John's account of the arrest and trial to be the accurate one, and he ignores agnostic scholars who argue that Jesus was never given a burial.
Why?
Because, unlike the Synoptics, John's late account does not involve the Sanhedrin, plus Pilate suddenly reversing himself into a sweetheart and granting burial to a crucified criminal shows that Nicodemus was indeed, a great guy.
Nicodemus, like the majority of The Sanhedrin, were Pharisees. . .
2. Preaching to the choir. Jews who want to believe the 'JC was orthodox hypothesis' and have only read the Gospels in excerpts despite that they're only 140 pages in total and who've seen a couple of 'Christian Films' are not in a position to question some of Maccoby's more outlandish claims.
Pause will not be given to cosider that not even Hillel broke bread with prostitutes and publicans--which Maccoby accepts as factual in the life of Jesus, nor the simplistic view that since the Saducees had power via Rome and were hated by the people, the Pharisees had no power whatsoever(?) and must have been loved by the ultra conservative peasants.
Nor that the apostles belief that Jesus had been ressurected was akin to the belief that Elijah had been taken to heaven and enough to get the early church on its feet.
Sorry, but Elijah was not publically crucified.
Imagine a Christian who has read the Torah 'in excerpts' and seen Charlton Heston part The Red Sea give a resounding review to a book that postulated that The Law proscribing the death penalty for murder, homosexuality, and eating shellfish was obviously not to be taken literally, but as a metaphor to beware of all effeminate hit men who are fond of haute cuisine?
Or that Moses was murdered and eaten by his children?
Well, that was Freud not Christians, but still. . .
(sigh)
If one can read between the lines, not of the Gospels, but of this book, it's an outstanding work on 2nd Temple Judaism as practised in the 1st century, on the 'dualism ' of Christianity, on the Pharisees and Jesus, and a host of other topics.
Perhaps the recommendation that I suggested toward Christian seminarians should apply conversely and Rabbinical students should read Fulton Sheen's 'The Life of Christ'?

A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons
DVD ~ Paul Scofield
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 43.93
6 used & new from CDN$ 13.37

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But For Wales?, March 18 2004
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
One of the finest films of all time, directed by Fred ( High Noon, From Here to Eternity ) Zinnemann. Among the ensemble of players are Wendy Hiller, Orson Welles, Susanna York, Robert Shaw, Leo Mc Kern and--in one of his earliest roles--a young John Hurt. Truly a cast for all seasons!
It's an acting lesson, headed by the great Paul Scofield who not only captures the essence of Sir Thomas Moore, but who does so with superb economy of motion; he hardly makes a gesture thoughout the entire film--- Duse would have loved it.
How does he do it? Well, as I said, it's an acting lesson. Suffice it to say he rightly deserved winning the Oscar.
Robert Bolt's brilliant play is a study of contrasts with a mystery at the heart of the theme: Was Moore a Saint who is now in Heaven with The Blessed, or was he a fool who could have died in his bed at a ripe old age after a lifetime of domestic felicity and the highest honors his country could bestow upon him?
If there is no God, or if you believe that the conflict between The Anglican and Catholic Churches to be of no paramount importance, is your integrity still worth losing your head on the chopping block?
Hmm. . .
Magnificent in every respect.

Withnail & I (Widescreen)
Withnail & I (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Richard E. Grant
Offered by MusicMoviesAndMore
Price: CDN$ 89.99
6 used & new from CDN$ 24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I WILL NEVER PLAY THE DANE !, March 3 2004
This review is from: Withnail & I (Widescreen) (DVD)
This is one of the best British comedies of all time, however many people are underwhelmed upon seeing it, and can't understand what the fuss is all about. You either get it or you don't.
I love it.
(Though obviously not as much as Withnail cultists who have seen the film 20 plus times)
Ok. Here's the story:
Two chronically and hopelessly unemployed actors, Withnail (Richard Grant) and "I" (Paul Mc Gann) are living in absolute squalor in the London of the late 60's.
Between booze, cursing their agents, and wonderfully witty banter they fight to keep their spirits up, but it's a losing battle.
They come to the conclusion that they must escape The City to the countryside, even if only for a short while.
Withnail arranges matters by sponging from his uncle, Monty, (Richard Griffiths) a raving homosexual queen who is also obviously insane.
Needess to say the vacation turns out to be somewhat less than idyllic.
But the real joy of watching this film does not come from the plot. The comedic situations arise out of the wonderfully nutty yet completely believable characters--perfectly acted by the cast. You really feel you've met these people, a sense of deja vu, especially if you were around in the late 60's.
As to the dialogue, to call it brilliant is not high enough praise, This is one of the most quotable films, ever.
At the end, Withnail, who clearly wants to die, delivers Hamlet's 'What a piece of work is man' speech. It's a touching moment in a comedy. Chaplin himself couldn't have made it more poignant.
A cult classic in Europe, virtually unknown in the U.S.
Don't miss out on this one!

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