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Reviews Written by
A. Ort "aorto" (Youngstown, Ohio)

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13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?
13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?
by Neil Howe
Edition: Paperback
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Some great quotes in here..., Jan. 26 2003
I bought this book when it first came out because, well, I don't remember why. I think it had something to do with Coupland's Generation X book and the whole notion of actually being a part of some 'generation'. This book seemed a good way to find out what that actually meant. And it did help me to understand the idea of a 'generation'.
It's kind of a quirky book, with a curious layout of sidebars containing quotes from individuals, from books and movies, experts and other pop culture references and statistics, that seem to drive home the point the authors are striving toward. Unto that end it is a great package.
The book is important as it gives a voice to a generation living life under the shadow of the 'Baby Boomers'. These are voices that appear fresh with time and it is great to see them in print.
Revisiting this book almost ten years it seems, though, that the book was trying too hard. It got ahead of itseld in trying to sum up a generation (made up of individuals who didn't realize they were actually a generation!). It seems to me that it was (and still is) a marketing label, a way to define individuals in order to 'target' them. This, in my opinion, is the end result. Looking back at it and the 'hipness' of the narrative voice and the layout, they were trying to market the book without appearing to market the book, trying to be 'hip' without appearing to try to be hip.
While the book does a remarkable job of compiling statistics and nailing down the 'whys' of 13th Gen (more accurate than the term Generation X) behavior, in the end the book doensn't help to explain me (born within the years 1961-81) too much at all. It is good for some nostalgia but it feels a bit outdated. It ultimately fades into oblivion with an overabundance of pop culture defintions, cliches and general and generic observations. It seems that we (or is it just me?) have moved on.
I give it four stars for its readability, interesting statistics/quotes and its historical value.

Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible As It Was at the Start of the Common Era
Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible As It Was at the Start of the Common Era
by James L. Kugel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 162.16
9 used & new from CDN$ 127.55

5.0 out of 5 stars The literature of Second Temple Judaism in one book..., Jan. 8 2003
Well, not all of the literature, but this book is by far the best encapsulation of all of the literature of the period in one place. Other works, such as those by Charlesworth, present the actual writings but I have not encountered a work that summarizes thematically the various beliefs of the period so concisely.
Kugel's book delves into the Pentateuch primarily, dealing with various themes from these books. But from here come multitudes of other themes shooting off from these main themes, taken us on a journey through the massive amounts of writings of this time.
This volume is a hefty price but if you like footnotes and references and other sorts of bibliographic material, it's a dream come true and worth the investment as you can revisit it at your convenience. This version also contains sections following each particular theme called 'Other Readings' which contains elaborations on the main theme thus broadening the scope (and thus embracing even more of this literature) of understanding.
This information is vital to understanding the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity out of the milieu of Second Temple Judaism and neither can truly be understood without this valuable information. Such things as fallen angels, resurrection and life after death, the Messiah/Savior/Son of Man and other such themes all underwent great development during this period of turmoil and the unfolding of their development can be found in this literature.
Kugel does not so much as explain in scholarly fashion the details of this development but highlights the ideas and themes and presents the particular verses chronologically by quoting the various writings.
In the index are all of the writings with a brief history of them and their importance in the history of each faith. This book contains The Bible As It Was and then some. In my opinion, as I've become hooked on the incredible diversity of exegesis (and some flights of fancy) from the Pentateuch, the difference in price is worth it (my only complaint would be that, whereas The Bible As It Was can be obtained relatively inexpensively through various outlets, this one still commands top dollar).
All in all, this is a tremendous and vital resource for anyone seeking to really understand the origins of the split between Judaism and Christianity, the historical development of the beliefs of what became Christianity and Rabbinical Judaism and anyone interested in the historical underpinnings of theological ideas that ultimately affect our worldviews.

Crossing the Border: Encounters between Homeless People and Outreach Workers
Crossing the Border: Encounters between Homeless People and Outreach Workers
by Michael Rowe
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done..., Dec 26 2002
Having been an outreach worker for roughly six years, I found this book to be surprisingly well written. Too often, books tackling this subject present mere caracatures of the people it talks about, vieweing the subjects more as data or political process than real human beings.
This book presents many different points of views and differing types of outreach workers and the people they seek to help. The homeless are not condescended to nor are the outreach workers glamorized. It is quite factual and quite objective.
I saw myself in some of the types and picked up excellent little reminders about the whole homeless issue and those whose lives it affects. If you are looking for a bit more of the 'human' connection of those who are on the front lines (as opposed to the theorists, the politicians, the directors and others removed from the field), this is a great book toward that end.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars One long hallucination..., Dec 26 2002
I picked this film up having loved the director's prior film Pi. I had no idea what the film was about. I think that was why it had such an impact. Cinematically, it is brilliant. The camera angles, the way the film is edited, the movement of the camera in lucid dreaming fashion. The effects of the filming draws the viewer into the hallucinatory haze of the actors. Absolutely amazing.
As for the story, it is one, long graphic portrayal of the descent into addiction. Viewer beware: it pulls no punches. It shows the worst that can happen (especially Jennifer Connelly's character -- horrifyingly brilliant) when your addiction rules your life. Ellen Burstyn is simply stunning in her role and reveals another facet of drug addiction we often overlook in our chemically laden society.
The movie does not preach nor does it present a Pollyanna solution to affects of addiction. It merely lays out the stories with a gritty realism that left me stunned and disturbed, quite literally, for days. I can't say this is a bad thing but the movie affected me as few movies ever have.

Ghost of Tom Joad
Ghost of Tom Joad
Offered by MusicShoppingParty
Price: CDN$ 4.37
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Springsteen writes stories of and for the rest of us..., Dec 17 2002
This review is from: Ghost of Tom Joad (Audio CD)
I've listened to Springsteen only since Born in the USA (funny how many people miss the point behind that song...) but have since grown to appreciate him as another troubador for the rest of us.
I live in Youngstown, the town in the song on the album by the same name. It is a working class town devastated by the exit of the steel mills in the 70s and 80s, much like Springsteen sings about his hometown on Born in the USA. He sings it because he knows it. And it shows. He may not know Youngstown but he's pretty darn close to the reality of many living here.
He played here on his acoustic tour in support of this album (sadly, I din't have the connections to get tickets; ironically, the 'common man' doesn't really count when it comes to Springsteen tickets). Stranger yet (similar to Born in the USA being used as a political campaign song), radio stations here played it with pride! Guess they didn't listen to the lyrics.
Anyhow, Springsteen is a voice crying out in the wilderness of America, speaking for those whose voices are rarely heard and, if they are, they are generally heard as part of some political agenda or other. He gives voice to the homeless, to migrant workers, to released convicts trying to keep straight and to a whole host of other characters who really make up the American landscape.
It sounds stark only if you haven't been paying attention to what is going on beneath the surface in this country. While it is not overly joyous, there are moments of beauty and poetry to be found, even in the midst of this apparent bleakness. Springsteen, as always, captivates and tells stories that put you there; you can see, hear and even taste the characters he is singing about.
While there are more instruments present here than in Nebraska, it is still relatively bare and buoys the lyrics quite nicely.
On an aside, this album finds its roots in the book called Journey to Nowhere: The Sage of the New Underclass by Dale Maharidge (sadly, currently out of print) which begins in Youngstown and traverses the road and the rails to Texas. If you've read the book, you'll find the inspiration behind this album. Both are gripping and excellent.

The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City
The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City
by Jennifer Toth
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.17
85 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one that started it all..., Dec 15 2002
I'll never forget reading this book. I've always been fascinated with darkness, with abandoned buildings and the underground (I used to crawl through the sewers even as a kid...). My other fascination has been with homelessness. Having been stunned by Margaret Morton's The Tunnel, I found this book. It is absolutely mind boggling.
Jennifer Toth gained access to the world of those living in the subway tunnels of New York City in a way few do. Oddly enough, perhaps, many who live such a life really do enjoy talking about it; the only issue is who they trust to open up to. They obviously trusted her, at least enough to share stories.
She attempts to bring some history to the story, tracing the fascination of people with the underground and dabbling in the history of some of the Amtrak tunnels under New York City. This is probably the least interesting part of the book. It is when she enters into the world and begins telling the stories of the people and unfolding mysteries, many almost (and most likely) mythical, that the book gets interesting.
She does a remarkable job of placing the reader there and really tunes into the fear and spookiness of the tunnels. It really isn't pretty, no matter how it may seem at first. But the characters come alive and begin to seem real. In other words, The Mole People begin to appear as real human beings. The reader gains an understanding of how they ended up living in these circumstances and the defenses (or regrets) of the residents there.
It is engaging and gripping reading, especially imagining some of our worst fears (or darkest fantasies) brought to life. I thoroughly believe that many of the things she states as facts are really exaggerations (people do love to impress others with fantastic stories) but not necessarily lies. I've read critiques of her geography of the underground from NYC transit workers and it seems her information often misses the mark. However, this does not detract from the book's overall impact.
Since this book was written, the tunnels have been basically cleared out though there are people living there, just not as many as were believed to have lived there at one time. Bernard, one of the main characters, made the talk show circuit a bit and some of the others (John, for example) made brief attempts at life above ground. That's the paradox of a book like this: it brings attention to the issue but this attention does not always benefit those it seeks to help.

Session 9 [Import]
Session 9 [Import]
DVD ~ David Caruso
Price: CDN$ 19.34
27 used & new from CDN$ 11.54

4.0 out of 5 stars High on style and atmosphere, a bit short on substance..., Dec 13 2002
This review is from: Session 9 [Import] (DVD)
By far the most compelling part of this movie is the building, the former Danvers State Hospital in Connecticut (a real place, by the way). I am a huge fan of abandoned buildings, especially abandoned buildings with stories behind them. The writers/directors have tapped into this vibe and it radiates throughout the film. The film is heavy on atmosphere and stylish visuals. It is obvious that great care went into each shot. I give the film five stars for this reason.
I give the film just shy of four stars for the storyline. The acting is excellent but the story itself is fairly formulaic. It is a character study in madness but it is more madness derived from stereotypes than understanding. The film was good in building tension and keeping the viewer on the edge of the seat but in the end it fell into almost typical movie cliches. The director tried to give the storyline a different twist and almost succeeded but the style seemed more important than the actual story.
It balances out to four stars. It is well worth watching, especially if you are looking for a creepy film but in the end what you'll remember is the building.
On an aside, I believe that some of the deleted scenes should have been kept (though from these scenes you'll see confirmation regarding stereotyping madness).

Naqoyqatsi Soundtrack
Naqoyqatsi Soundtrack
Price: CDN$ 17.57
24 used & new from CDN$ 9.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamy..., Dec 3 2002
This review is from: Naqoyqatsi Soundtrack (Audio CD)
It took me some time to get used to this soundtrack. I kept expecting the driving beats like those found on the previous two soundtracks of the Qatsi trilogy. But I learned that was really me imposing my expectations onto the music. There is definitely a similar 'feel' comparable to the other two but the music on this one is much more dreamy, ethereal if you wish.
Obviously it has a more 'classical' feel due to Yo Yo Ma's cello playing but it also stretches, even transcends, the classical genre and is much more atmospheric. It also carries you away. Just like the previous two soundtracks, over time it begins to dawn on you that another masterpiece has been created.

One Day in September [Import]
One Day in September [Import]
DVD ~ Michael Douglas
Offered by 5A/30 Entertainment
Price: CDN$ 60.46
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should see this film..., Nov. 28 2002
I remember my aunt buying me a book that chronicled the Olympic history. The last date in it when I received it was 1976. I'll never forget the image, shown on the cover of this DVD, when I came upon the 1972 Olympics in the book. I was too young to remember it but this image has haunted me all my life.
I had heard about this video and ran across it in my local video shop. It was captivating. It was horrible but I couldn't turn away.
It begins with the human element, interviewing the wife of one of the Israeli athletes who was killed. Also interviewed are German officials and other key players in the whole affair. Perhaps most interesting is the interview with a surviving terrorist. His points of view adds depth to the film and his final words will leave you thinking.
I don't know much about the history of terrorism and the hijackings so prominent in their arsenal as a way of drawing international attention, but it seems to me this was perhaps the first in a very long chain of events drawing attention to the cause of the Palestinian people.
Watch as it unfolds. It is dramatic and not overly sensational and will leave you astounded. I was not aware that there was such footage available. It is as if it is happening live before your eyes. I was enraged, embittered and deeply saddened by watching it but I believe watching something such as this is vital to see this to deepen our understanding of history lest we forget.

The Book of Legends/Sefer Ha-Aggadah: Legends from the Talmud and Midrash
The Book of Legends/Sefer Ha-Aggadah: Legends from the Talmud and Midrash
by Hayyim Nahman Bialik
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 79.05
14 used & new from CDN$ 75.15

5.0 out of 5 stars The beauty of tradition..., Nov. 19 2002
In our overly scientific day and age, which has greatly influenced how we approach the Sacred, specifically Sacred texts, this book fills in the lacunae of the void.
In this book can be found the rabbinical answers to the nagging questions found in the Torah, questions that still linger today but which tend to be filled in with more historical/'scientific' answers than stories that lift the spirit. Are these stories to be found in this book 'true'? To ask the question misses the point. They elevate the spirit and lift us out of the mundane and bring back the art of telling the story to reveal deeper insights into the mysteries of life.
The rabbis were curious and inquisitive souls and what we have here is a compendium of the diverse answers they often gave. Some of the stories are fantastical, others whimsical and others simply bizarre, but they never cease to captivate and never cease to enlighten. A vital resource for any library.

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