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Commentaires écrits par
Tim Lieder "Founder of Dybbuk Press" (New York, NY)
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Badass Horror
Badass Horror
by Michael Hemmingson
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 14.43
13 used & new from CDN$ 9.61

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Horror for hardcore fans, June 13 2008
This review is from: Badass Horror (Paperback)
Ok. First off, I'm biased. I published this book. I paid the writers. I will make money if you buy it (hopefully enough to pay the writers some royalties). I'm sure you will find more critical reviews above and below this one. However, I did not edit the book and I didn't pick out or write any of the stories. The editors sold me on the book after they had done most of the work.

What originally sold me on the anthology was Gerard Brennan's "Pool Sharks" - a story about a night playing pool that turns violent. Brennan has an ability to pack a lot of action into very few words. It reminded me of the scaled down, back-to-the-basics, let's kill the 5 hour guitar solo once and for all aesthetic of 70s punk. Brennan doesn't waste time on meaningless characterization or cliche atmosphere. He says what he has to say and moves on and the overall effect is extremely powerful.

To carry the punk metaphor further, Michael Boatman's "Bloodbath at Landsdale Towers" (love the reference) is the British "spit on the audience and poop on stage" punk. It's raw and offensive and Boatman has a great enthusiasm in making up descriptions like "as angry as a Republican with a snake up his..."

After reading these two stories, I agreed to publish the book. I was not disappointed when Chris and Mike gave me the finished product. To sum up the rest of the pieces - Garry Kilworth's story is funny. Michael Hemmingson's zombie detective novella is one of the most original zombie stories I've read in a long time. I'm always impressed with Ronald Damien Malfi's writing style (or envious). Gord Rollo's story is a great tough guy piece in the Breslin style and Davin Ireland's story is extremely thought-provoking.

The Big Bow Mystery
The Big Bow Mystery
by Israel Zangwill
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 14.70
15 used & new from CDN$ 8.18

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fun book, June 3 2008
This review is from: The Big Bow Mystery (Paperback)
Ok, first things first. The mystery is pretty lame. Not that it's not an intriguing mystery. It's the first locked room mystery of novel-length after all. Mrs. Drabdump worries about a lodger who is locked in his room. When she enters the room she discovers that his throat has been cut. Only no one could have gotten in or out without disturbing the lock. And when the mystery's answer is finally revealed, it's both credible and clever. However, there's no real sense of danger involved, no thriller aspect that makes you think that the killer will strike again. In fact, the mystery almost vanishes from the book after the first couple of chapters.

However, the fun in the book is the way Israel Zangwill uses the mystery as a jumping off point to parody Victorian society including the ways that tragedy sells newspapers. Blame is thrown on the most likely suspects and much of it becomes a circus. The Scotland Yard detective is a lunkhead and he's only investigating the crime in order to show up his rivals. Vendors post their carts outside the scene of the murder in order to make a profit from the death and everyone is out for something.

Not only is this an amusing book that highlights Zangwill's propensity for social parody, but it's also full of illustrations by Thien Tran and Justin Webber. Great gift idea for anyone that loves Victorian novels.

Merely Mary Ann
Merely Mary Ann
by Israel Zangwill
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 11.41
14 used & new from CDN$ 4.91

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Hokey but charming, the way a Victorian romance should be, June 3 2008
This review is from: Merely Mary Ann (Paperback)
This is a Victorian novella by Israel Zangwill more known for his zionist activities than his literary output these days. His most famous books are Children of the Ghetto and The Big Bow Mystery (coming in August from Dybbuk Press). Even if he were still as popular as Dickens or Conan Doyle, this book would be considered one of his minor works. It does show all the markings of a Victorian novel. The characters are introduced thoroughly before they do anything. There are no stream of consciousness scenes. What the characters say, they tend to mean. Hemingway, Faulkner and Joyce would not come along for 20 years and Zangwill seemed to have no desire to imitate them even had he known of them.

Still, this romance is strangely affecting. A snob musician who is part of the British nobility toils away his days in poverty trying to create great art. He eschews money and wealth and hates America as the land of conspicuous excess. Somehow, he strikes up a friendship with his chamber maid (the Mary Ann of the title) and slowly loses some of his elitist attitudes.

There's a scene in Gosford Park where the rich guests sit around bored as a character plays the piano. Meanwhile, the servants are outside listening to the music with rapt attention. There's a similar scene in this book in which Lancelot realizes that all the "common" music that he's been despising has a value if only for Mary Ann. It's a sweet scene and it made up my mind to publish the book in the first place.

Trekkies (Full Screen)
Trekkies (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Denise Crosby
Offered by The Digital Vault
Prix : CDN$ 21.99
12 used & new from CDN$ 2.14

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Funny but not cruel, May 7 2004
This review is from: Trekkies (Full Screen) (DVD)
With the emergence of reality tv and Michael Moore's ambush documentaries, the documentary format has taken a beating. Instead of using the real moments in a phenomenon to weave together a story, some documentarians have delivered "look at the freaks" mockeries, indistinguishable from the mockumentaries that once parodied but now imitate. Even good documentaries like American Movie will fall into the "aren't my subjects so funny in their stupid ways" trap.
By contrast, Trekkies presents a subculture subject to much mockery but never mocks them. The director isn't capturing his subjects at their most foolish. Yes, decorating a dentist office to look like the Enterprise or wearing the uniform to work is a bit weird, but the director doesn't play up the weirdness so much as allow the individual Trekkies to present themselves as themselves. Nygard avoids the wretched stereotypes (dateless, maniacal, obsessed) and presents intelligent, likeable, obsessed people who have enough insight to know that their hobby is silly, but they have fun with it.
Much of the skill comes from the omissions. Nygard doesn't dwell too long on either the fan fiction or the Trekker/Trekkie debates. The less sane examples of fandom get a few minutes on screen and no more. Everyone has encountered the self-righteous humorless geek without a shred of insight. I'm certain Nygard met a lot of them in research. His unwillingness to use them is a sign of respect that anyone with a geeky obsession can appreciate.
The one exception is the obnoxious 14-year old kid. He complains about the deficiencies in a uniform that someone worked very hard to make for him. He yells at his friend calling him on the phone because he's busy. He uses many impressive words whose pronunciations elude him. In a lesser director's documentary, he would have been a horrible stereotype. Nygard gives him enough screen time to come off as sympathetic. You might laugh at him but only because he reminds you of yourself at that age. If you find his Web site, you'll see an introduction indicating that he's rather embarrassed and chagrined . He need not be since all 14-year olds are horrible and he was at least interesting. (Besides part of the reason why I'm looking forward to the sequel is to see him as a grown up.)
The only caveat is the presence of the Trek people. Some of them provide interesting insights while most of them just rehash the same old interviews from Star Trek programs past - including the tired old story about the actress playing Uhuru meeting Martin Luther King jr. Denise Crosby does a workable hosting job but many of her reaction shots undercut the respect the movie has for the fans. On the other hand, that Data/Tasha Yar picture was a bit much.

Nice Guys Sleep Alone: Dating in the Difficult Eighties
Nice Guys Sleep Alone: Dating in the Difficult Eighties
by Bruce Feirstein
Edition: Paperback

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Such an 80s book, May 5 2004
My copy is falling apart at a rapid rate but I still love this book. Some parts fall flat but when this book is funny it more than makes up for the dull bits. Types of daters (Sudden Death, Power Player - "chances of dating one - great as long as you're Sting and your records are still selling"), songs to hear when you got dumped, greatest lies of breaking up ("I just have to be alone now"), and the one about never dating a yuppie. Not only is this book still funny but the hopelessly 80s references (yuppies, certain stereos, the clothing worn by the cartoon characters) charm rather than grate (and I seriously doubt that the Sex & the City 90s New York references will be half as charming in 20 years)
Far funnier and much more honest than Real Men Don't Eat Quiche - this book is a great addition to any library.

Thank You For Smoking
Thank You For Smoking
by Christopher Buckley
Edition: Paperback
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Dull and cold - pretty much what you'd expect, Dec 13 2003
This review is from: Thank You For Smoking (Paperback)
There's something very smug about these parodies of Washington insiders. Even The West Wing gets tedious with its dozen storylines about whether the president should say a few words against a lobbying group. At first this book has the potential to overcome that curse. It's wry. It has a morally ambiguous main character. It has some great parodies.
Then it dies. It reminds me of Primary Colors in that it's way too enamored with the political process to really get things rolling. There's too much material about taking meetings and not enough about people. The characters are all broadly drawn, the females are vixens, the jokes aren't funny. When it gets to Hollywood the writer trots out the same old cliche about Hollywood producers wanting to throw any crap on the screen in order to sell products. Is this supposed to be funny? I suppose in the Player it was cool, but the joke has died from misuse.
Overall this is a fluff book that should have been better. The main problem is the cool cynicism. Yeah, everyone is out to get something. Yeah that's funny sometimes, but not here. When all is said and done we're left with a bunch of unlikeable characters in a stupid book.

Final Blackout
Final Blackout
by L. Ron Hubbard
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 étoiles sur 5 Awful Pulp, Oct. 27 2003
You know one should be used to the Great Man takes on the system book by now. They are so numerous that they shouldn't even annoy anymore. Yet this book takes it to the extreme. The Lieutenant is the great one, the grand poobah, the rebel leader hero. Everyone else is either a loyal follower or an evil petty bureaucrat. Sadly Hubbard spends many pages reinforcing these thin characterizations.
Yes this book was written when he was young and it wasn't meant to endure. Maybe it can be read as a hokey 1940 pulp and a testament to the paranoia of perpetual war. It almost belongs more to the Vietnam era than WWII since all the generals and upper level military guys are selfish fools ready to sacrifice a million lives for their own glory (there's even the American Imperialists at the end) but I doubt the unadulterated praise for the Lieutenant would fly any better in Vietnam War America.
Either way it's a dull book full of cliches that would have been long out of print without Scientology.

Shadows on the Hudson
Shadows on the Hudson
by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Edition: Audio Cassette
5 used & new from CDN$ 35.09

1.0 étoiles sur 5 Even worse than the print version, Sept. 16 2003
Using three narrators to tell the story might be a novel idea if they did it correctly. You'd think they'd use them like actors playing the different parts but instead they trade off so every one gets a few pages and then it goes away. Unlike the book where you can skip to the next chapter you never know when one of the characters is going to shut up so your finger is always on the fast forward button.
The actors are good but they are overwrought - especially Julie Harris. She's not helped by the fact that almost every woman character declares imminent destruction without Grein coming to her rescue. Yet by the end when she says "Grein, if you don't come out I'm going to DIIIIEEEEEEEEE" for the 234th time if you're counting, you WISH that one of these characters would die.
This is one of Singer's EPIC books - meaning that he's writing about one family going away from Judaism, coming back to Judaism, having affairs. Only it's pretty standard fare. He's done it in early 19th century Poland with the Family Moskat. He did it again in late 19th century Poland with The Manor/The Estate (really one book) and now he's doing it in 1946 America. While you might enjoy some of this material - this is one where the narration serves to kill whatever value is in the story - and there's not much there. Maybe it suffers from the serialization. Singer had to repeat himself to keep his readers up to speed. So a character describing a scene that happened 300 pages ago (or 5 tapes back) is going to sound tedious because that character will provide no new insight.
My advice is to read either Satan in Goray or The Estate and the Manor together if you like Singer. Let us all forget about this awful clunker of a book - print or audio.

The Lion King (2-Disc Special Platinum Edition) (Bilingual)
The Lion King (2-Disc Special Platinum Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Matthew Broderick
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Prix : CDN$ 116.21
10 used & new from CDN$ 25.00

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Addition to the Disney Canon, Sept. 16 2003
Sometime DVD special editions are bad excuses to repackage and resell the same DVD that you already own. They have that greedy transparency that can only come from people trying to get you to buy their "making of" documentary. This is not the case. The extras on disc 2 range from indepth discussions of the movie, the plains of Africa, and yes - a making of (although when they talk about the origins of the movie they fail to mention that similar Japanese cartoon that came out a few years before. Guess it's just an oversight) and the virtual tour is amusing.
The movie itself is still brilliant. The great moments (including the Circle of Life bit and the scene where Simba runs home) are still goosebump inducing. We can still make the Darth Vader jokes when James Earl Jones says "Simba! I am your father!" (we will rule the great plains together. nothing will stand in our way) but it's still effective. The extended movie is a bit off however. The new songs and the new scenes add nothing to the piece. At best they are distractions. At worst the drag the movie down.
So yes - buy this movie because it's one of the best cartoons out there and Disney did a surprisingly good job repackaging this one.

Shadows On The Hudson
Shadows On The Hudson
by Isaac Singer
Edition: Paperback
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.34

2.0 étoiles sur 5 Get me away from these whiners, Sept. 11 2003
This review is from: Shadows On The Hudson (Paperback)
When I.B. Singer is good he's one of the best writers of the 20th century. When he's bad he's as self-indulgent as his characters.
This sprawling book isn't sprawling because there's anything particularly deep or profound in its pages. Nothing much happens to the characters either. Instead it's sprawling in the same sense as Urban Sprawl. Singer allows his characters to whine incessantly about their lousy lot in life. Like The Estate (a much better book by far) his characters are great thinkers in many ways but utterly clueless about their own pettiness. They complain. They contemplate suicide. THey think deep thoughts about everyone around. They keep contemplating suicide long after the reader wants them dead and buried because then at least there'd be one less whiner.
The opening chapters have Anna and Grein running off together and forsaking their spouses. Pretty soon you realize that you are trapped with these two vindictive shrews and boredom sets in. Sadly after boredom comes nothing more than more boredom. Anna is superficial. Grein is a weakling. And on and on and on it goes. When other characters finally come into the frame you find them almost as tedious. They have been infected with the same malaise.
The one bright spot is Anna's first husband - a German comedian that came to America via Communist Russia and long thought dead. As soon as he enters the book you breathe a sigh of relief because at least this character is self-deprecating and able to laugh at himself. Unfortunately he disappears again in favor of an awful fake seance and he comes back rarely. The rest of the characters hate him with good reason - he's too good for them.

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