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Fixed Ideas: America Since 9.11
Fixed Ideas: America Since 9.11
by Joan Didion
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.86
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars I guess so......, July 6 2004
Good Lord that's a lot of money! $7.95 for 44 pages... and the margins are big, so text only takes up about half the page. Didion's point is that, post-9/11, certain ideas are fixed -- ideas set by the White House/National Security State/Military Industrial complex/Powers That Be. Mainstream media marches in lockstep, and feeds these fixed ideas to the people. According to Didion, dissenting views are marginalized, and questioning the (upgraded) status quo is a no-no.
The only thing is.... I've heard Didion's complaint that dissent is shut down from: Gore Vidal, Bill Maher, Air America, The Nation, Michael Moore, etc. So dissent ain't that shut down.

American Life
American Life
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 10.95
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars PLEASE Get into the Groove!, July 6 2004
This review is from: American Life (Audio CD)
Quick context: I think Madonna's first album is a classic... and some gems have followed... so I checked out American Life. The sound is bad enough, with some dinky beats that might have harkened back to, say, early Depeche Mode, IF there was any melody! The sound is monotonous and annoying as a dentist drill.
No problem so far.....
But let me get this straight. Che Guevara style posing on the cover, and machine gun posing in the liner art... and concert tickets are selling for up to $300.00? Power to the People?! Madonna has the potential to be the next Streisand, with Barbra's odd pronouncements, misspelled web site, and awkward concern for "the masses." Or Madonna can rise above the pop dreck today and kick a great hit. C'mon, c'mon, I'm waiting....

To the 5 Boroughs
To the 5 Boroughs
Price: CDN$ 19.30
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Beasties could rock more well; now check out Orwell, June 29 2004
This review is from: To the 5 Boroughs (Audio CD)
I like the beats and voices and overlap, tempos, etc. But the politics seem hopelessly naive... maybe idealistic.... But check with the true Master MC's, like George Orwell....
Here's a quote from MC Orwell:
The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States ...

Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative
by David Brock
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.56
64 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Needs More on the Ladies!, June 21 2004
If you need to know, Brock tells how disgusting the right wing is. Reagan put a happy face, unity, and some civility on it all, but when Daddy left, the "kids" started to lose it. Gingrich and so many others could throw bombs, but couldn't lead. Nope. Brock found himself fronting and digging dirt for this wingnut crowd, after (understandably) shying from and countering ultra-PC lefties in college. So Brock went Reagan's direction in formative years, like so many others his age. And then... well, Brock tells the story best... and I can't think of a more encompassing history of 1990's politics. The story is dark, and if you're too alert you'll keep questioning Brock's initial motives for the book, and how he spins his tales in his book. (Especially after Bill Clinton's performances - with fingers to chest -, this reader is cynical toward apologies). But, if you lay back and give Brock the benefit of doubt (at least until you finish the book), it's a good read about 90's right-wing politics, tactics, $$$$, careerism, "friendships" of convenience, and hypocrisy, not in that particular order. When I finished the book (which is hard to do -- just keep plowing through it; the info and perspective *is worth it*) I actually felt for Brock (and I don't *think* I'm a bleeding heart :-). Brock's arc and inside perspective are wholly unique. Is this book a new Whittaker Chambers' (who left the communists and spoke up) "Witness" for the *left*? A little, maybe?
Anyway, I'm pretty conservative, and learned a lot. Brock's is a hard book to get through, but I'll never view the 90's (Newt, Clinton, all media) the same again. Oh yeah, back to my review title: Brock tells of his relationships with right-wing queens Arianna Huffington, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter. More details next time! Do they like to play quarters? Caps?! Keggers or wine boxes?

Weather Underground
Weather Underground
DVD ~ Lili Taylor
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 21.66
22 used & new from CDN$ 13.74

5.0 out of 5 stars No steps forward, two steps back!, June 8 2004
This review is from: Weather Underground (DVD)
If Reagan perfected political theater, The Weathermen perfected politics as melodrama! If politics were Dynasty, they'd be Joan Collins! If protest were the WWF, they'd be the Iron Sheik and Ravishing Rick Rude!
The Weather Underground got their pop name from a Bob Dylan song. This Gen Xer says, they were the *original* Brat Pack! They have the privileged background of Molly Ringwald; the nostril flaring edginess of Judd Nelson; the "never live up to Daddy" alienation of Ally Sheedy; the hungry athleticism of Emilio Estavez; the sex of Rob Lowe (and then some!); and the brainy articulation of Anthony Michael Hall. Remember The Breakfast Club? When Hall's book smart character flunked shop class, because he couldn't build a lamp? Well, *three* Weathermen couldn't build bombs... and blew themselves up!! This ineptness prevented them from mass murder, and let remaining Weathermen say, "They never hurt anyone!" Now that's great public relations spin!
RFK, the best hope for the left in the modern era (and considered a "Trojan horse" for the "system" by Weathermen), often quoted Dante: "The hottest fires in hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in a time of crisis." The Weathermen didn't remain neutral -- their key rationalization and applause line. And now I won't. It doesn't take Walter Cronkite to know these guys are bad news. And it doesn't take a pollster to know that Nixon won by a small margin on a "law and order" campaign. And Reagan won landslides. In 1964 Goldwater won 1 state; in 1984 Reagan won 49 states. The Left and the "L" word have been easily demonized. Now Conservatives openly lift and use aggressive New Left tactics, with a lot more funding. And Clinton helped form the DLC, a group that says only centrist Democrats are electable. The voters have spoken :-). The People didn't go along with the Weathermen. This includes The Weathermen's college peers... and "working class youth" and minorities who were to be "educated" to man the front lines for the philosophical (self-conscious/self-protective rationalizing) Weathermen. In one of the film's unforgettable scenes, Weathermen leader Bernadine Dohrn surrenders in October 1980, just before Reagan is elected. In a Chicago courtroom, she defiantly reads aloud a rebellious manifesto. When finished, according to the director's commentary, "She has a funny look on her face." The look is stunned acknowledgment that says, "Nobody is listening anymore." It's 1980.
In my humble opinion, the Weather Underground created justifiable backlash and helped the conservative rollback. For a less humble opinion, ask a leftist who campaigned peacefully, and/or within the system. I'm thankful for the film and The Weathermen's access. Today, the federal government that The Weathermen "advocated" be violently overthrown still exists. Yet, many Weathermen are still alive... and still free... and (bourgeois) professors?! Only in America! (Subtext: And *not* in Cuba, China, USSR, etc).
5 stars for rekindling my conservative instincts! Highly Recommended!

Hot Space
Hot Space
Price: CDN$ 16.05
23 used & new from CDN$ 10.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Queen's Best!, June 3 2004
This review is from: Hot Space (Audio CD)
Hot Space is the Queen album of choice for attractive women. According to a new Gallop survey, 82 percent of foxy ladies favor Hot Space over runner-up The Game. But it doesn't take a professional pollster to know that Hot Space drives women crazy!
1. Hit play, and "Staying Power" sends a powerful subliminal message -- *you* have marathon-man stamina!
2. "Dancer" says, in so many breathy words, "Let's get physical, let's get animal!"
3. "Backchat" will have you putting on your boogie shoes, and taking *off* your ascot!!
4. And if you don't shake your groove thing by "Body Language," check your pulse and shotgun a Red Bull!!
Pre-programmed, the disc jumps to "Put out the Fire" (fierce), Cool Cat (meooow!), and that foreign song (for a TLC cool down, baby yeah!).
In short, this is not your older brother's Queen, to be cranked out of the squealing high rider as feathered clips blow from the rear view, and Sceeter's hanging out the sun roof raising a styrofoam can holder like the Statue of Liberty and doing air guitar to his "anthem."
Hot Space *is* a very special album, appreciated by men of distinction, with remote control light dimmers and wine from a real supermarket.
The Rolling Stones' Some Girls (1978) reflects, twists, and "bites" punk and disco. Queen reflects their times with Hot Space... but nothing of the times sounds like this. Queen hovers above the scene and creates something new. (New wave and disco - almost by definition - lack Mercury's warmth). If you like Hot Space, check out ABC's "Lexicon of Love." Rock on... I mean PARTY on!!

The Birds (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
The Birds (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Rod Taylor
Price: CDN$ 22.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 8.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Birds are our Allies!, May 27 2004
Last night I saw the horrifying film "Arachnophobia," and my eyes were opened. Let me now tell you, "The Birds" is dangerous extremist propaganda. "The Birds" recklessly demonizes our avian friends, at the expense of global stability. Have you ever heard, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend?" Well, spiders are on the warpath, organizing as we speak. We must mend fences (or bird houses, if you will) with our avian allies and forge ahead -- to combat apocalyptic arachnids! Let's put it this way, folks. For every one bird you shoot, hundreds of spiders are free to carry on for their evil empire. For the first time in decades, I'm asking Americans to sacrifice!
The Birds earns 5 stars as the epitome of dangerous agitprop. But I highly recommend "Winged Migration," and the Disney movie with "Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder...." These films actually teach us how to appreciate birds! And that's something the spiders and their backers soon must reckon with, believe you me. You may have one question at this point: "Why did the birds take out Tippi Hedren?" A high level Cabinet source (or near-Cabinet level source) informs that Hedren was in the spider camp! Enough said. Birds are now, and have always been, on our side.

Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate Americas Youth
Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate Americas Youth
by Ben Shapiro
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Uncensored!, May 26 2004
"Brainwashed" got my attention!
When I was in college a few years ago, writing a neutral line on Reagan earned red marks and rebuttals. So did stating that the Soviets had territorial ambitions. (One Professor named me, derisively, "Mr. U-S-A" and "Mr. Patriot!"). The climate was, to paraphrase Ice-T, "Freedom of speech, just watch what you write." (The 60's Berkeley Free Speech Movement has come a long way, baby! :-)
In addition to liberal bias, there is also generational bias. Many Professors learned values in the 60's, when Reagan played the "evil stepdad" as Governor. Students who came of age in another era (say, the 80's -- when Reagan was most popular with 18-24 year olds) learned to keep new values close to the vest. (We were a new, conditioned, "Silent Generation" if you will). Even liberal students, who wanted to please Professors, often "learned" that they'll never live up to the 60's. Or even worse, that they will never show enough appreciation to 60's trailblazers! :-)
I now work at UC Davis: The (UC) College of Engineering is fairly objective, and heavy degree requirements allow students no electives. Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities, however, have relatively liberal departments, and allow lots of electives. (PC departments are also given more slack regarding requirements and student exceptions). Courses are often a twist on Murphy's Law: If a course can lean left, it will. This includes the most basic writing courses -- with reading lists determined by author's background, gender, etc... and how well his/her writings reflect "diversity," etc.
"Brainwashed" would make a nice graduation gift, for the skeptical student - who will now have some objective distance! Yeah!

The Fog of War (Sous-titres français)
The Fog of War (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Robert McNamara
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 70.15
4 used & new from CDN$ 19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Big Mac in the House!, May 25 2004
So many reviews provide the content of Fog of War... thought I'd just raise some questions inspired by the film... I'm giving 5 stars, simply for the fact that it was made. I'm thankful to Big Mac for the access, and the filmmakers for their work. It's easy to imagine this film playing in the Smithsonian. And bonus -- maybe Big Mac has set a precedent? To the reviewer(s) who think Kissinger got a raw deal in "The Trials of Henry Kissinger": Kissinger (and others) should do a documentary like "Fog of War"! If they want to open up, I'm sure top directors would love to do it. And to another reviewer, yes, Mac has the JFK stamp of approval, and this helps his image even today. And, just maybe, Kennedy's hand picked men have slightly different values - or auras - than their successors, making them more palatable for media (liberal? academic? dazzled?)... and they're filtered softer to audiences.
Another reviewer mentions Mac's similarity to Rumsfeld.... They both excel at maximizing military efficiency. They both don't question the President (at least publicly). Also, both serve(d) presidents that seem immune to papers. Mac's Pentagon Papers did not move LBJ, and paper stacks will likely not sway W. LBJ or W. *may* respond to a face to face disagreement - or, they may kick the disagreeing Defense Secretary out of the loop :-). The stand-out line of the film is when Mac is asked, "Who's fault was the (Vietnam) War?" Mac answers, "The President." This raises a good question -- which Mac/the film doesn't answer: Should a Defense Secretary ever question the President.... And if he does and gets nowhere, should he ever raise questions publicly?
Big Mac raises a question himself, regarding the US/NATO nuclear first strike option. Big Mac says the US should never use it, and he seems to abhor that the first strike option is in law/policy language. But - the US has benefited from the threat to use a first strike. Particularly during Mac's Defense tenure, the first strike threat was a strong deterrent to keep the Soviets out of Western Europe. We could not have defeated the USSR in a conventional European war. (Mac knew this fact, but it's not in the film). And Ike ended the Korean War six months into office, many say, by threatening China with a "very short war" -- with nukes. It's nice leverage to have. Why Big Mac is against that option now is beyond me.
Big Mac seems not completely open with some statements (which makes me skeptical of his other statements). For example, Mac describes the coup that removed South Vietnam's President Diem. Mac says JFK had planned to remove US troops from Vietnam - but the coup derailed the plan. What Mac does not say is that JFK green lighted -- if not ordered the coup!!! (JFK says just that on disc -- ISBN: 1891620363). JFK/they derailed the withdrawal plan, or short-term plan anyway, themselves! The coup didn't just happen! After describing the coup, Mac says simply that the US was "partly responsible," but this seems deceptively vague.
If anything, Fog of War provides inspiration to look deeper at many of the issues Mac brings up. Quick take on the film's aesthetic: Fog of War is directed as "arty." There are quick cuts, tilted cameras, tilted backgrounds, etc. And the score is very lush - really like a dramatic Hollywood blockbuster. Personally, I'd rather see one solid camera on Mac for 90 straight minutes. (But lots of the historical film footage cut in is educational). Even with all the technical bells and whistles, Mac is the main attraction. He and the film are important, and in some ways, unprecedented, contributions to the library of modern history fans.

Big Fish (Bilingual) [Import]
Big Fish (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Ewan McGregor
Offered by TUNESUS
Price: CDN$ 9.46
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Made me think,, May 24 2004
"When will this be over?" Big Fish is a slow and boring snoozefest.... The movie celebrates some 1950's lily-white small southern town as a dreamy utopia. An old man named Edward's life is replayed in surreal, abstract flashbacks: Edward has probably done a few too many mushrooms. (And no, I will *not* take shrooms myself to grasp the story!) If Edward were my pops, I'd give him love and a coughdrop(!). Then I'd call up some old beatniks to interpret him and make the story more interesting. (When you tell a wacky story, you need some certified wack jobs around, not just a "dark genius" director!) Then maybe, MAYBE, I'd pass the story on to others....
But I reckon Edward ain't my pops, or yours. And I reckon... (violins, please, and pan out to wide shot of amber waves of grain)... that when you realize life is short, you enjoy what you got... and you should save precious time by letting this Big Fish get away.... (Get it? Big Fish... get away?). Goodnight all! Zzzzzzzz.

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