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Kevin Fink "finkles2000" (Kansas City, United States)
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The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season
The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season
DVD ~ Dan Castellaneta
Offered by The Digital Vault
Price: CDN$ 39.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 9.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Worst. . .commentaries. . .ever. . ., July 9 2004
The episodes are spectacular. There are a few remnants of the old Simpsons (the pupils change from small to large from episode to episode, etc.). Some of the show's greatest episodes are in this season: Lisa's beauty queen pageant, Mr. Burns' love for Marge, the monorail - all Simpson gems.
The commentaries are not great. I can't believe that they delay the release of episodes specifically for this reason. The commentary for "A Streetcar Named Marge" is awful. It basically consists of Jon Lovitz and Hank Azaria shamelessly plugging "The Critic," "The Stepford Wives," and "Along Came Polly." The commentary for "The New Kid on the Block" includes Conan O'Brien, but all they do is sit around and laugh at each other. There are hardly any insights to the episodes, and often, there are many blank moments where it seems as if no one can think of anything to say. It's very annoying. I say, release the seasons faster by only doing commentary for a few episodes.
So - 5 star DVD, 2 star commentaries. This is a definite must-have for Simpsons fans, but skip the commentary. Let's hope the creators have exhausted themselves and will release season 5 soon.

Sex and the City: Season 6 Part 1
Sex and the City: Season 6 Part 1
DVD ~ Sarah Jessica Parker
Offered by CAMusicFiendz
Price: CDN$ 20.54
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Only part 1, but it's still worth it people!, June 28 2004
Look, I know that people are upset that this is only the first 12 episodes of the 6th and final season. I don't know exactly why HBO did this - perhaps they could release these episodes faster than the entire season. Perhaps the 2nd part will have more extras (doubtful, yes, but plausible). And yes, you still have to pay full price - but it's worth it.
I had never seen any of these episodes until I broke down and purchased this set. Since then, this season has become my favorite. Let's just break down the characters:
Miranda - I never really liked Miranda that much. Although she obviously cared for Steve, she was never fully able to let him in. She always applied business tactics to her love life - be blunt, be honest, and don't let your feelings get in your way. In this season, she's a softer, kinder Miranda. She states that she might be one of those people who were never meant to be truly happy. And she realizes her true feelings for Steve and finally lets him know! Cynthia Nixon has said that when she first started the series, she really didn't understand or connect with Miranda. Now that her character has grown a little bit, Ms. Nixon has said she totally identifies with her. In this season (part 1), Miranda falls in love with her new boyfriend (TiVo), dates a hunky doctor for the Knicks, and comes to terms with her feelings for Steve. Oh, and Brady turns 1!
Charlotte - It's a pity that Kristen Davis has never been nominated for an Emmy or Golden Globe. She brings so much to her character. If she's not nominated this year, then something is definitely wrong. This is Charlotte's season. Her fling with Harry turned into true love. We see her through many, many obstacles, and she deals with them in true Charlotte fashion. She realizes that she already had the perfect wedding, but she still wants her 2nd one to go just as smoothly. Unfortunately, it doesn't - but as Carrie reminds her, her seemingly perfect life with Trey was anything but. Charlotte is hilarious on her wedding day. But this season shows real heartbreak for Charlotte, and Ms. Davis acts with true brilliance. This season (part 1), Charlotte converts to Judaism, gets married, gets pregnant, and miscarries. This is definitely Charlotte's season.
Samantha - In the Museum of TV and Radio interview on the last disc, Kim Cattrall states that she didn't think Samantha changed over the course of the series - the viewers only see emerging layers of her. I couldn't agree more. In the beginning, Samantha was there to shock, amaze, and titillate us with her explicit scenes - nothing more. In the 4th, 5th, and 6th seasons, Samantha still does this, but we see more of her (emotionally - I think we've seen all of her physically). Samantha's still Samantha - she loves life, men, and sex. In this season, Samantha has a fling with a waiter/actor, she turns him into a superstar, finds a grey hair (down there), and deals with the prospect of (the horror!) Public Displays of Affection. In the next part, she deals with her greatest challenge ever - breast cancer.
And finally, Carrie - First of all, I want to say that even though Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker didn't really get along, they show such chemistry on screen. It's such a testament to the great acting ability of both women that they were able to set aside differences for the sake of the show. That said, this season Carrie shows a lot of growth. Remember in the first two seasons when Carrie practically had a different boyfriend in every episode? Those days are long gone. Carrie wants more. She wants love, respect, and Manolo Blahniks. In one great episode ("A Woman's Right to Shoes"), Carrie gets fed up of having to buy wedding shower presents, wedding presents, honeymoon presents, and baby shower presents. Single people get nothing, Carrie realizes, and this comes to a head when her shoes go missing at a friend's apartment and the friend chastises her for not having a life and spending money on shoes. She's a grown up in her relationship with Berger. This is Carrie's first relationship in which I've thought, "Carrie did nothing wrong. If anything, she was supportive and willing to work everything out." Throughout the first part of season 6, Carrie gets broken up via post-it, deals with Big's bombshell of heart surgery, has a bad fling with a best man, and meets a Russian artist (who I cannot stand, FYI).
"Sex and the City" broke the mold. Never has a show been so open and honest in dealing with sex and relationships. It's never been afraid to show how funny, dramatic, fantastic, devastating, and romantic sex can be. The writing has never been smarter and the characters have never been more fully fleshed-out.
That said, when watching the shows back to back, it becomes slightly annoying. The puns, which were so geniusly spoofed on Saturday Night Live, can get a little tedious. And the fact that every situation that a character gets into reflects Carrie's column that week is a tad overwhelming at times. But not enough that you shouldn't watch.
My favorite moment of the entire series happens in "Boy, Interrupted." Stanford is reeling from his break-up with Marcus (Stanford found that Marcus had once been an escort), and takes Carrie as his date to a GLBT "prom." As Carrie and Stanford dance to Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now," Marcus breaks in and declares his love for Stanford. As Stanford forgives Marcus, he puts his head on his shoulder, and the two men dance to the song together. Carrie sways to the music by herself. . . and she's never looked more confident or fabulous.
Forget all the hoopla surrounding HBO and monetary issues. Buy it - I promise you won't regret it.

Will & Grace: Season Two [Import]
Will & Grace: Season Two [Import]
DVD ~ Eric McCormack
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 17.95
31 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great episodes! So-so DVD, March 29 2004
The episodes are classic.(...) Many events happen in season two: Grace moves out of Will's apartment (across the hall). Jack moves in with Karen & Rosario. Will loses his job, but finds another. I won't list synopses of episodes, because a more diligent fan has listed them below. This DVD is worth the excellent price on Amazon. It's simply hilarious and makes good weekend watching. However, there are a few problems with the DVD. As for special features, there are no commentaries and no bloopers, only the themed featurettes which include scenes from the episodes. The featurettes are indeed funny, but when you've seen all the episodes, they lose their luster. The DVD box list of episodes is wrong - the first episodes of discs 2, 3, and 4 are actually the last episodes on discs 1, 2, and 3. And on disc 4, the episodes are out of order (they appear to be backward). This isn't that big of a deal, as you can watch them in order if you choose, but I was surprised when I pressed "Play all" to find that the last episode was first (I hope that makes sense). You'd think that NBC or Lions Gate would have found those mistakes before releasing the DVD.
Let's face it - we buy these DVDs for the convenience of watching episodes whenever we choose. I would have enjoyed bloopers, interviews, and commentaries, but Will & Grace shines on it's own. The episodes are 5-star, but the DVD itself is only 3 (because of the mix-ups and the lack of bloopers and commentaries which I was led to believe would be on this set). If you're a of fan high-brow (and low-brow) comedy, buy this DVD. I've rarely laughed harder.

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed
Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Hardcover
85 used & new from CDN$ 0.44

3.0 out of 5 stars Not too convincing, Feb. 12 2004
It seems as if Patricia Cornwell tried her best to slove the case of Jack the Ripper, but something stood in her way: the complete lack of evidence. Cornwell only has to go on astounding coincidences and assumptions. There are many passages in this book which state that there's no evidence to suggest that Walter Sickert was or did something, but there's no evidence to suggest that he DIDN'T. This becomes a little presumptuous and slightly annoying. The same rule could apply to anyone: There's no evidence that says that Abraham Lincoln was in London at the time of the Ripper murders, but there's no evidence that says that he WASN'T.
There is really not enough evidence to accuse one specific individual of being Jack the Ripper. Which is why the case continues to mystify and bewilder us. Cornwell seems to believe that Sickert wrote a staggering majority of the Ripper letters sent to the police, which I cannot believe. Perhaps Sickert had visited all of the places where the letters came from, but I didn't find it convincing that he traveled all over England, Wales, Scotland, and even France in one day.
Cornwell makes a noble effort though. She invested much of her own money (not to mention time) into this investigation. She does extensive research on the Ripper letters, and connects a few drawings to similar ones that Sickert did in his time as an artist. There are points in this book where I thought, "Yes, Sickert COULD be Jack the Ripper." But I never thought, "Yes, Sickert was, without a doubt, Jack the Ripper."
Another bothersome aspect of this book is it's complete lack of choronology. Before Cornwell even begins to write about Mary Kelly (the last victim of the Ripper), she has already gone on for many pages about murders that took place in 1907 (Mary Kelly was murdered in 1888).
I read this book simply because I am fascinated by Jack the Ripper. And it is a good read. Cornwell brings to light many facts about the murders that I had never heard of. But did she convince me that Sickert was, in fact, the Ripper? No. Perhaps she should not have titled this book "Case Closed." The case is still, and forever will be, unsolved. That is the grotesque beauty and wonder of the Jack the Ripper murders.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 4
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 4
DVD ~ Raul Julia
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 257.52
5 used & new from CDN$ 129.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Yay for MST3K!, Dec 1 2003
It's true that all of these movies are from the Sci-Fi channel era. And it's true that they've all been on recently. However, wouldn't you rater have clean, crisp DVD versions instead of grainy videotaped versions in which you have to fast-forward through the commercials? I know that I would. Plus, all of these selections have a 30-45 second introduction by Mike Nelson, and the trailers for "Girl in Gold Boots." Let's break it down:
"Hamlet" - I know, I know - it would seem very tedious to sit through Hamlet, but Mike and the Bots do a great job of riffing on this poorly dubbed, over (and under) acted, moody German version of Hamlet. B+
"Girl in Gold Boots" - Think "Showgirls" only worse (!). A waitress from the sticks leaves her abusive father and heads to L.A. with a shady character and a guitar playing hippie named Critter to become a dancer. But nobody bothered to tell her that she kind of sucks as a dancer. She becomes involved in a tailspin of bad music, bad outfits, and marijuana. Check out the bizarre over-acting of the lead dancer. A-
"Overdrawn at the Memory Bank" - This ranks right up there with "Manos: The Hands of Fate" as the worst movie I've ever seen on MST3K. Raul Julia "stars" in this PBS movie as a man in the future who's brain gets trapped in a computer during a botched procedure which was supposed to insert his brain into a monkey. Or something. Very confusing, very boring, and very 80s special effects. Be warned - this is an AWFUL mess of a movie. At times I found it hard to sit through, but it's worth watching. C+
"Space Mutiny" - the best of the bunch. It's in space, and there's a mutiny, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what goes on. Be prepared for excitement as our beefy hero indulges in a futruistic golf cart chase, and relaxes at a futuristic disco where hula hoops seem to be all the rage. This is a must-see, especially for the names Mike and the bots come up with for our hero ("Gristle McThornbody!" "Big McLargehuge!"). A
I know that a lot of people wish for more Comedy Central episodes, but it's very hard to get licensing for these films. Especially now that MST3K is more popular and the company has realized that these films are essentially being made fun of. But beggars can't be choosers. I'll be happy with anything Best Brains, Inc. releases on DVD.

Living W/Ghosts
Living W/Ghosts
Price: CDN$ 7.83
47 used & new from CDN$ 3.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty & Tragedy, Oct. 27 2002
This review is from: Living W/Ghosts (Audio CD)
It takes a good artist to translate her life into words and music. But it takes an incredible artist to make the listener feel her pain, heartache, and joy along with her. Patty Griffin is the latter. I can't decide if I want her to be more famous and recognized (as she derserves to be) or if I want her to remain obscure - a little gem that only a few enlightened people can see. Her words are pure poetry ("You left open the window til the morning and the winter walked in"), and when her lyrics are combined with her guitar-playing ability and her raw, emotional voice, it's such a rare experience. You feel like you're reading someone's diary - it's so personal and heart-wrenching that you can't help but feel like you're invading her private space. And that's a good thing. At other times, you can imagine yourself in a dark bar, just you and Patty sitting in a corner booth, talking about life and love over a couple of beers. She's been battered by love, but she's not afraid to sing about it.
Whether she's singing about loneliness ("Moses"), a lost but not forgotten relationship ("Every Little Bit," in which she says that "by this I am able in all of my travels to make these memories quit. But tonight I clearly recall every little bit."), she draws you into her life. She's also not afraid to tackle issues other than love - as evidenced by the familial struggle of "Poor Man's House" and the story of "Sweet Lorraine," a woman who longs to overcome her family and life by escaping to college and, eventually, a marriage. Of course, her most powerful song, "Tony," about a gay boy Patty knew in high school, is on her follow-up CD, "Flaming Red."
Which reminds me, but all three of Patty Griffin's albums. You might end up crying, but at least it'll be with someone that you've grown to love.

1,000 Kisses
1,000 Kisses
Price: CDN$ 16.04
9 used & new from CDN$ 16.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Incredible, Sept. 20 2002
This review is from: 1,000 Kisses (Audio CD)
I give every Patty Griffin CD 5 stars. She is an amazing, talented songwriter. Technically, this is her fourth CD. She completed a whole other album titled "Silver Bell," but unfortunately A & M records did not deem it "radio-friendly." The CD, with 10-12 totally new and different tracks, might not ever be released (much to my dismay). However, she was picked up by a new, and much smarter and braver, label. Thus, we have "1000 Kisses." The title is derived from the English translation of the song "Mil Besos." Patty is not fluent in Spanish, but the song sounds amazing. Even in a language I don't understand I can still feel the passion and longing in her voice.
This album is more orchestral than her first ("Living With Ghosts") but far more spare than ("Flaming Red"); this is the middle child. I wish there was more original material, but I'll take all the Patty I can get. "Rain" starts out the CD with a somber tone, and while none of the songs can be described as uplifting, there are a couple of faster songs that highlight Patty's guitar skills, such as "Chief" and "Long Ride Home." The two highlights on this CD are "Stolen Car" and "Nobody's Crying." Her rendition of Springsteen's ode to lost love and innocence in "Stolen Car" is heartbreaking: "At night I wait to get caught. . .but I never do. . ."
"Nobody's Crying" is a meaningful note to a lover who's gone, but not forgotten. Even though she's reeling from a broken heart, Patty wishes good things to the one who broke it, and hopes for a place on "the steepest slope" where "there's an endless rope. . .and nobody's crying."
This is a powerful CD, and brings up many emotions. From the widow's perspective of "Making Pies" and "Long Ride Home," to the gentle warnings of "Be Careful", to the inevitable questions raised by "Tomorrow Night," Patty's third (and fourth) album is a classic study of love and life. I definitely suggest it for anyone who's a sucker for a powerful singer and incredibly talented songwriter.

Barricades and Brickwalls
Barricades and Brickwalls
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 32.95
10 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Amzing lyrics, haunting voice, Aug. 20 2002
On a ten hour road trip to Texas, my friend and I had to break up the monotony of flat, dusty roads by introducing each other to new music. I played Patty Griffin for her, and she played Kasey Chambers for me. I had no idea how much I'd fall in love with this CD. I do not like most country music, because the majority of singers don't write their music and it's unbelieveably corny. Chambers however, fuses country and folk, writes her own material and speaks from her heart and mind. Once you get past the pitch and range of her voice (and at times you may have to turn down your stereo), you realize what a talented individual she is.
Although all the songs are good in their own right, I am particularly moved by "A Million Tears." The lyrics are heartbreaking, frank, and honest: "Do you wanna ride in my car? / It's parked out on the street / Or just stay with me awhile / Before I fall asleep / Take these tears / Wash your skin / I'm having trouble breathing / Since you walked in. . ." Another heartbreaker is "Not Pretty Enough." Chambers ask the question that everyone thinks in a relationship: "Am I not pretty enough? / Is my heart too broken? / Do I cry too much? / Am I too outspoken? / Don't I make you laugh? / Should I try it harder? / Why do you see right through me?"
From full-on country ("A Little Bit Lonesome"), to soft ballads ("Nullarbor Song"), to heartbreakers like "A Million Tears" and "Not Pretty Enough," Kasey Chambers' "Barricades & Brickwalls" is one of the best American CDs to come around in a long time. . .and she's Australian.

Henry's List of Wrongs
Henry's List of Wrongs
by John Scott Shepherd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.02
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.54

1.0 out of 5 stars Add this to the list of wrongs. . ., June 25 2002
This review is from: Henry's List of Wrongs (Hardcover)
The book starts off well enough, but after the prologue, it goes waaaay downhill. If I hadn't lived in Kansas (where a lot of the book takes place) I would have put the book down after the first couple of chapters. It's painfully obvious the author wants this to be a movie - why he didn't simply write a screenplay, I'll never know. I expected the words "extreme close-up" to pop up any second. The dialogue is mostly fluff and cliche, and the characters are stock. The "guy who lost his heart" meets "the wacky girl" and blah blah blah. "Wacky Girl" has a past, which takes the reader all of 5 seconds to figure out. The reader can't help but picture Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock or Sarah Jessica Parker saying these lines (and that's exactly what Shepherd wants you to do). If this was only a movie, and I saw it, I would have found it mildly amusing. Since it was a book, I simply found it completely annoying. Apparently, this book is going to be a movie soon (there's a schocker). But with "Life Or Something Like It" failing at the box office, I can't help but see this one doing the same. Save your money, and check it out at your local library.

Sex and the City: Season 3 [Import]
Sex and the City: Season 3 [Import]
DVD ~ Sarah Jessica Parker
Offered by DealsAreUs
Price: CDN$ 39.69
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars It keeps getting better and better!, May 29 2002
With the 3rd season, the characters are more developed, and the show is much more polished. Carrie no longer talks directly to the camera (thankfully, as that gets somewhat annoying), and gone are the "opinons" from the strangers on the street (also annoying). Although it's always funny, this season is more of a drama with wit.
And people say they can't relate?! Puh-lease! I totally identified with the characters this season. Steve moves in with Miranda--who hasn't had those same feelings (i.e., will this really work? Are we moving too fast?). Who doesn't have the same hopes of a relationship working out? This season is the most hilarious, heartbreaking, meaningful, eventful season of ANY show (take that, Friends!). Sadly, the extras are lacking, but hey--who needs extras with a show this good! I can hardly wait for the next season!

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