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Sibelius (Palo Alto, CA USA)

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Poker: Bets, Bluffs & Bad Beats
Poker: Bets, Bluffs & Bad Beats
by A. Alvarez
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 1.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Nifty addition to any poker enthusiast's library, Oct. 13 2003
Cool book to peruse on a rainy afternoon for those who fancy themselves as poker enthusiasts. While the book provides no insight or tips on game strategy - keep in mind that that's not what this book is for. Rather, it delves into other topics such as the history of the game, the colorful personalities, game lore and historical/memorable bad beats and monster calls. The other great highlight of this book are the numerous illustrations pulled from a few centuries worth of poker art found in advertising, book covers, etc.

Poker - Hold 'Em: Intermediate
Poker - Hold 'Em: Intermediate
by Andy Nelson
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Fast read, but out-dated., Oct. 11 2003
The best thing about this book is that it shouldn't take anyone w/a basic understanding of Hold 'Em more then 1 hour to read this tome in it's entirety (72 pages, incl. glossary, large type and lots of 'clip-art' quality illustrations). On the downside, the information and strategy presented in this book are simplistic and somewhat out of date when the original 1987 publication date is taken into consideration. I would recommend this book more for the seasoned player who may enjoy this breezy little read for it's nostalgia value, but for those still learning the game there are much better, more contemporary alternatives out there.

Fever Pitch
Fever Pitch
by Nick Hornby
Edition: Paperback
81 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Don't go in expecting a Hornbyesque book, June 27 2002
This review is from: Fever Pitch (Paperback)
Thanks to the once in every four year buzz I get when the World Cup is taking place I thought that it was an appropriate time to begin reading the only Hornby book that I hadn't yet cracked which incidentally is his autobiography and a loving testament to the game of football. With those factors in mind, I figured I couldn't go wrong with this one but sadly, for the first time, I was a bit let down by one of Hornby's books.
My main problem with this book stems from the fact that I missed out on approx. 30% of the context because I didn't know the people (players and coaches), places and teams that he spends a great deal of time espousing on. This book is written with the assumption that the reader is steeped in all the lore, historical trivia and nuance of British football and for those with limited knowledge, well I suppose they'll find themselves grasping at times trying to catch up with Hornby's detailed play-by-play enactments of memorable goals and on field blunders. Another thing - this is Hornby's first book and it shows. For those readers accustomed to his flowing, easy to digest prose in future works ('High Fidelity,' 'About a Boy,' 'How to be Good') you might be a bit surprised at how clunky his words form here. Yes, there are some very Hornbyesque passages and moments but for the most part it can be choppy reading at times but is interesting in the framework of mind knowing how his future works will evolve into crystalline works of literary brilliance.
On the positive note, this book will certainly strike a chord for every hardcore sports fanatic out there. Hornby lovingly touches on the idiosyncracies that every true 'fan' experiences from: Superstitious ritual, disdain for the casual and/or bandwagon fan, the psyche of those who faithfully follow bad teams, etc. Also, you'll find the occassional gem on the beauty of Football/Soccer as a pure sport that makes reading through this 247 page book ultimately worthwhile.

Dogs and Demons: Tales Form the Dark Side of Modern Japan
Dogs and Demons: Tales Form the Dark Side of Modern Japan
by Alex Kerr
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 3.40

3.0 out of 5 stars Inconsistent and loosely argued yet a fascinating P.O.V., May 10 2002
A very difficult book to rate properly. In a perfect world this book would've been more deserving of a 2 star review, yet based on Kerr's impassioned argument and perspective and for those with an interest and background in contemporary Japan, 'Dogs and Demons' is a fascinating read that presents one man's (sometimes flawed) portrayal of all that is rotten in the state of Nippon.
In scope, 'D&D' is a highly ambitious work akin to a socially conscious author tackling a tome titled something like 'Contemporary United States: The Top 15 Things Wrong With It.' Typically, with any subject matter as expansive as this you are bound to have some strong arguments and equally strong misses. Based on Kerr's earlier work such as, 'Lost Japan (a much stronger portrayal of cultural identity),' I was hoping and expecting him to pull off what only a select few are capable of doing in sustaining a rationale argument throughout the length of a book. Disappointingly, Kerr fails where most usually do when covering such an expansive subect and gives us your typical rant-n-rave slew of some great case points (namely politics, economic malaise, and the environment) and some weak, messy arguments (most of the pop-culture related chapters).
Perhaps the chief flaw of, 'D&D' is the scale of judgement that Kerr chooses to weigh Japan upon, basically making it live up to the standards of a 'utopian' nation that not even the United States has come close to achieving. While it is very true that Japan has committed many a policy blunder since it's post WWII recovery the bottom line is what nation hasn't(?) and all things considered can one argue that Japan's progress thus far has been a lesson in abject failure?
Some of Kerr's arguments are so bad that they're almost funny. Examples (in no particular order):
1) Japan's high rate of literacy is superficial because most adults chiefly read comic books (well, at least they're reading something).
2) Japan is no longer a vibrant place to be as reflected in the number of ex-pats leaving the country (instead of providing us with any raw, statistical data on this point, Kerr makes reference to a couple of his friends that have decided to move elsewhere and takes the quote or two from others who we assume to be friends of friends or some varation thereof).
3) Japan is a nation obsessed with cuteness as seen in the popularity of Hello Kitty and other examples including ATM cards with 'cute' charicatures and as a result is becoming a 'childish' nation (not sure how this is necessarily a bad thing? how about pointing out the fact that with examples like Sanrio characters, Pokemon, etc. Japan is only one of three nations, including the US and Great Britain, that regularly creates and markets pop-culture on a world-wide scale?).
4) Japan's cultural malaise can be reflected in the fact that it's top baseball players are leaving to play in the U.S. major leagues (again, not necessarily a bad thing - the fact that top players want to leave their home nation to make more money and test their abilities against top talent in the world? who could argue otherwise?).
5) Japan's film industry has gone to ruins (true) and today it's best creative work is demonstrated in shallow, superficial creations like 'Pokemon' (while it is true that the likes of 'Pokemon' and most manga creations are far from the aesthetic hurrah of a Kurosawa creation, there is a case to be made that it takes some creative ingenuity to create pop-culture franchises that rank right up there, dollarwise, with Walt Disney franchise characters. Another point that Kerr neglects is that while the film industry isn't what it once was, Japan is leading the way in other creative industries, chiefly videogames/interactive entertainment an industry bigger and growing faster then the movies).
If you're able to look past some of these soft spots in the book, 'D&D' will certainly open your eyes to why Japan has been mired in recession for nearly a decade and why it may be a long time coming before it's engines revv up once again. At it's best, 'D&D' may serve as a public wake up call to shake up Japan's stifling beauracracy and petty ways.

by Banana Yoshimoto
Edition: Paperback
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars An engaging, but ultimately hollow attempt., April 25 2002
This review is from: NP (Paperback)
A fast, breezy, strange little tome that covers a number of well-worn theme and subject matter (incest, lesbianism, the supernatural, love, death, writing, the art of literary translation, etc.) yet ultimately rings hollow as it fails to effectively join the pieces together. "N.P." interestingly enough reads like a Junior Varsity version of a Haruki Murakami novel with it's similarities in existentialist theme, vapid characters, morose setting and minimalist brush-stroked prose. But where Murakami often succeeds masterfully in creating vivid and riveting (albeit strange) storylines, "N.P." comes across as incomplete and fragmented with a disjointed narrative and stilted dialogue that is often hard to follow. Nevertheless an engaging poolside read if you have (at maximum) two hours...

Nip The Buds, Shoot The Kids
Nip The Buds, Shoot The Kids
by Kenzaburo Oe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.95
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale that will linger in your mind for days..., April 13 2002
A sparse and chilling tale that recounts the worst week in the lives of 15 adolescent juvenile delinquents left abandoned in a plague infested village. This first novel of Kenzaburo Oe clearly shows his brilliance in capturing the essence of the human condition - warts and all, and why he would go on to win the Nobel prize in literature in 1994. The emotional themes of abandonment and isolation are expertly brought to life and devices such as not providing any details regarding geographic setting and exclusion of character names (with the exception of Minami and Li) will draw uneasy, slow building tension to readers. A lean, expertly translated read that contains numerous scenes and passages that will stay vivid in your memory for days on end.

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regement, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle'Snest
Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regement, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle'Snest
by Stephen E. Ambrose
Edition: Paperback
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A sweeping, humane wartime epic, April 12 2002
Upon being absolutely blown-away by the expert HBO mini-series adaptation of this book I was eager to read through and learn more about the remarkable cast of characters who made up the 506 Regiment's 'Easy' Company. Ambrose does not disappoint and the bulk of this book - dealing with the training processes, descriptions of personality, psyche along with numerous humourous anecdotes are as well written as anything that i've seen in any combat/military book around. While the recounting of Easy Company's battles and detailed breakdown of squad/tactical manuevers are important and given equal attention they thankfully take a backseat to the more captivating storyline on how esprit de corp was developed over time and the value of the camarederie and brotherhood that the surviving members valued most of all. If you were a fan of the HBO mini-series and had even the tiniest inkling in learning more about this 'Band of Brothers,' you can't go wrong with this very well-written, detailed account of their story.

Age of Innocence (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
Age of Innocence (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Daniel Day-Lewis
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 43.63
14 used & new from CDN$ 2.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Lavish, Sumptuous and very much a Scorese picture., April 9 2002
Yes it's frilly, filled with lace and stills could pass for photo spreads in Home & Garden. Yet even without Pesci, DeNiro, or foul language, 'The Age of Innocence,' at it's core is quintessential Scorsese. The key thematic is power, it's related hierarchy and about those who wield and fall to it - only this time instead of exercising power through gunplay and violence it is dispensed through mannerism and whispered subterfuge. Scenes with Mrs. Mingott interacting with her friends and family come off reminiscent of Paul Sorvino's character in 'Goodfellas.' All of Scorsese's visual trademarks are also intact with some great tracking shots and loads of loads of rich mise-en-scene. There's so much visual eye candy to take in, in terms of production and art design that multiple viewings are a must.
From a technical standpoint this DVD is a treat and those lucky enough to have a proper TV connected to their DVD players through component cables will truly enjoy the rich, sumputous colors in this most excellent transfer.

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