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Cadfael: The Complete Collection - Series 1 To 4 [DVD]
Cadfael: The Complete Collection - Series 1 To 4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Derek Jacobi
Offered by Callums Cheaper Items - CUSTOMER IS PRIORITY NUMBER 1
Price: 21.98

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Really Want to Give 5 Stars ... but I Just Can't, 13 Jun 2008
This series should have been a great success except for the dreary settings, weak supporting cast, and slow plotting. Derek Jacobi is a phenomenal actor and extremely watchable but he can't carry this series alone. I have not read any of the Cadfael books.

In I Claudius he was a stunning success. Unfortunately, as this Medieval detective he just doesn't shine as brightly. Playing the former warrior, now a monk, Jacobi has much more sense of the world outside his village than do almost all of the other villagers. Others come to him for advice and guidance and, of course, when murders occur he is right there with his logical mind and insightful reasoning.

But the series falls short as the political intrigues and personal conflicts seem overly petty and excessive in their results. I understand that the Middle Ages were probably not very much fun, but it's difficult to sit through plodding episodes just to watch Jacobi do his thing. He's a wonderfully talented actor, but the writing and plotting just aren't up to snuff. My husband and I joked that this was a medieval "Murder She Wrote".

Strength for Life: The Fitness Plan for the Rest of Your Life
Strength for Life: The Fitness Plan for the Rest of Your Life
by Shawn Phillips
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.61

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strength for Life, 4 Jun 2008
I received this book a couple of weeks ago and am very pleased with the entire book and completely recommend it.

This book is excellent for those who really don't know much about fitness and nutrition, but it's also good for those who know quite a bit, but need something new to tweak their routines.

And, that's why I purchased the book. Every so often, I feel a workout slump. I change my workout routines every month or so, as recommended and usually work out with weights 3 times per week and do HIIT cardio 3 times per week. I understand how to eat properly and do so consistently (unless I make a conscious choice to eat something less healthy). However, even so, I find that I often dread training. Truly. And, I might waste a couple of hours just putting off my training, because I dread it so much. Consequently, I need a book like this to get me on track. And, this one absolutely does. As a matter of fact, this entire week of training has been entirely different and I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow! And, believe it or not, I enjoyed my High Intensity Interval Training (Cardio) today for the first time in at least 6 months.

Shawn Phillips is an excellent writer. His tone is engaging, conversational, and accessible. After the entertaining introduction, he talks about getting to a meditative state when working out. It's really not difficult, either, but may take some practice for some. I find that working out in my gym at home is much more productive for me than working out at the Y, for instance, and have been doing this for some time for this very reason. It's so important to focus on the muscles you're working out and tune everything else out.

He recommends a 12 day period of rest and extremely light workouts to get ready for the program ahead. This includes ensuring one gets enough sleep. Sleep is incredibly important when training! And, it's something I haven't been getting enough of for several months prior to reading this book (even though I was aware of its importance!). I have since made sure I get at least 7 or 8 hours per night.

Even though Phillips' stresses the importance of this 12 day period, I, uh, skipped it. Only a couple of weeks prior to reading his book, I made some major changes, and I just couldn't bring myself to go back to the three extra-light workouts per week. However, the advice here is still worthwhile.

After the initial period, Shawn explains his Transformation program, and I think it's excellent. I haven't followed it exactly, but I have changed my workout schedule quite a bit. I don't want to explain too much of the book here in the review, but I have to say, I like my new schedule quite a bit and all the information here makes complete sense.

Nutrition isn't ignored, either, and he provides a lot of information. For those who have been following a clean and healthy diet for a while, not much of this is new or groundbreaking, but I've found that I still learned something new.

The claims of this title-- "The Fitness Plan for the Rest of Your Life" is a bit lofty! However, I would say that the information you get here will definitely help you for the rest of your life even if there is some new groundbreaking information in the future and even if you only use some of the what you find here.

The Young Oxford Book of Timewarp Stories
The Young Oxford Book of Timewarp Stories
by Dennis Pepper
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars For all Ages. . . lots of fun, 6 May 2008
I picked this one up for two reasons. One, I thought my son might enjoy it, and two, it had Jack Finney's Love Letters in it. Love Letters isn't available anywhere else that I know of and can only be found in this specific book. I hadn't read this story and have wanted to, as I've enjoyed all of Jack Finney's novels and short stories.

This book is an excellent anthology of short stories that involve time travel. Admittedly, I was a teeny bit disappointed with Love Letters, but I was more than impressed with most of the other stories. As I was wallpapering my living room today, every time I'd take a break, I'd read a short story. Most are less than 15 pages long, so they were perfect for a diet coke or coffee break!

The Picnic was interesting-- reminded me of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery a bit. Room 409 was an eerie ghost story-- the kind you might have heard around the campfire growing up. The Silver Box was more unusual than I expected and Time Shift was truly disturbing.

Stories by Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke are among the better-known authors here, but there are a wide variety of authors, styles, and stories. This was a lot of fun.

Charlie Brown: Snoopy, Come Home! [DVD]
Charlie Brown: Snoopy, Come Home! [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bill Melendez
Offered by Films and Figures
Price: 24.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snoopy's always allowed here!, 6 May 2008
I don't even remember seeing this one when I was growing up, but I used to have it on videotape for my oldest daughter. I recently got it on dvd and my youngest daughter was mesmerized (her first intro to Peanuts), my older daughter was thrilled to see it again, and even my husband stopped what he was doing and stood in the doorway for a bit before reluctantly sitting down to watch the rest.

It is done so well, and it's such a good movie!

It starts off with great scenes of Snoopy playing with the Peanuts gang (and Woodstock-- his first appearance anywhere). Snoopy surfing, helping Peppermint Patty build a grand sand castle, just enjoying life as only Snoopy does! But, then he finds himself excluded from the beach the next day as a "No Dogs Allowed" sign appears. And then it seems there are "No Dogs Allowed" signs just about everywhere. Charlie Brown gets angry at Snoopy and Snoopy is a bit unhappy. Just about this time, we meet Lila-- a sweet lonely little girl in a far away hospital. Remembering when Snoopy belonged to her, she writes Snoopy a letter.

When Snoopy receives the letter, he becomes all teary eyed and, with Woodstock, begins the journey to visit Lila.

Though Charlie Brown is sad to see Snoopy go, Snoopy must leave and he and Woodstock find the journey itself to be quite an adventure. And, once he finds Lila, Snoopy has a difficult decision to make. This one is a definite tear-jerker!

Vince Guaraldi's music is absent here-- all the songs are written by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman. As I remember finding fault in this while watching it on videotape years ago, I was completely happy with the music now. Vince Guaraldi's jazzy piano might be more fun, but the Sherman tunes were truly delightful.

Snoopy Come Home is one of the best Peanuts movies-- completely charming from beginning to end!

Offered by Side Two
Price: 15.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 6 May 2008
This review is from: Aerial (Audio CD)
I was introduced to Kate Bush when I first saw her video for "Cloudbusting" Hounds of Love. This was sometime in the 80s. Donald Sutherland plays a father, an eccentric inventor on the wrong side of the government somehow. Kate plays his daughter. Cloudbusting is about Wilhelm Reich (The Mass Psychology of Fascism ) the astoundingly brilliant psychoanalyst and fringe researcher. The song was wonderful and I was hooked.

Kate is a beautiful woman, and a fantastic singer and artist. She is an experimenter with sound and style, too. She is much more than a pop artist, she's a little girl stuck in a woman's body. She never loses touch with her inner child and it's always there, in the front or in the back, but it's there. This quality of childishness makes Bush very insightful. The Sensual World, The Dreaming and Lionheart were all fantastic records, and the Hounds of Love, even better. And it's been a long time between records, almost ten years I'd guess, but I never forgot about Kate. I was excited to listen to this record much like I was with Joe Jackson's Rain. While I was delighted with the former I was disappointed with the latter.

Kate Bush walks a fine line between many styles. She can be straight ahead poppy, very artsy, very avante-garde, too. Her voice can be almost annoying shrill and elegantly sultry and dark and sexy. The lyrics in this record one reviewer compaired to Steely Dan's for their silly obscureness. One song in particular spends a great deal of time on washing machines. It seems silly, and it is, but I didn't care. Much like Steely Dan's lyrics can be silly and absurd one generally doesn't care as the arrangements and the quality are so fantastically good.

"How to Be Invisible" is particularly driving... it keeps moving forward with Bush's vocals going up and down. "A Coral Room" is beautiful, reminding one of "And Dream of Sheep/Under Ice" from Hounds of Love. Kate is still a force to be reckoned with here. This album is a real pleasure.

On first listen I really liked it, but felt challenged in particular by "King of the Mountain's" minimalism. But even that song grew to something much bigger. Building upon the spare openings of that song Kate created a massive sound assault that works so well. Kate does all kinds of vocal jumping and games in "Bertie". She is an artist and demands some patience and acceptance from the listener. But in the main, this album is so spare and so haunting as to make it very special. It is one of my favorite Kate Bush records. I hope she makes many, many more!

Obagi Skin Health Restoration and Rejuvenation: Concepts and Procedures
Obagi Skin Health Restoration and Rejuvenation: Concepts and Procedures
by Zein E. Obagi
Edition: Hardcover

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obagi skin care products are wonderful, 6 May 2008
Well, about a year and a half ago, my family was waiting in line to see Sully from Monsters, Inc. at Disney World. I was looking at the woman in front of me and noticed that her skin, although clear, had big brown patches all over it. As I stood in the hot bright sun, I thought to myself, "Gee, I'm glad my skin doesn't have big brown patches all over it!"

Well, guess what? That very night, when we returned to our hotel, I looked in the mirror and, ironically, I had big brown patches on my forehead and the side of my nose. MELASMA!

Oh, I was horrified! Makeup didn't cover it and, to me, this was the first thing anyone could see! I called the dermatologist then and there and made an appointment for the first day back from our vacation.

I decided to purchase these Obagi products. I was already familiar with Obagi products and had been thinking about using the products for awhile. If you look up Obagi, you will see a bunch of before and after pictures. Many of the subjects in the photos had patches of melasma. The Obagi completely cleared it up. One of the main ingredients is hydroquinone 4%. This works by itself, but, when combined with Tretinoin .1% (any brand), both work better. And, with all of the other products, the results are really remarkable.

My brown patches cleared up within a month. And, my pores were smaller and my skin texture much better.

Obagi has several different lines of products. The Nu-Derm line, though, takes care of many different skin problems. Within 4 to 6 weeks, there is truly a remarkable difference in the texture of your skin. If you combine this with some deeper peels (Obagi makes a peel, but there are many other deep peels that can be done), your skin will show some extraordinary changes.

Many people start with the starter kit, as I did, but I'm not sure all the products are completely necessary. The Obagi Nu-Derm Gentle Cleanser and Obagi Nuderm Toner, for instance, are good, but maybe there's one you prefer better. It's really the Obagi Nu-Derm Clear and the Obagi Nu-Derm Blender that are the main products as well as the tretinoin which you purchase separately. The Obagi Nu Derm Exfoderm Forte really helps your skin shed old cells and make the trentinoin work better. And, although any sunscreen that can do the job is important, the Obagi Nu Derm Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35 is probably the best sunscreen I've tried.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2010 8:41 PM BST

Miller's Crossing [1990] [DVD] [1991]
Miller's Crossing [1990] [DVD] [1991]
Dvd ~ Gabriel Byrne
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: 3.73

5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quirky Heartless Story of Quirky Heartless Characters, 6 May 2008
This is not a great movie.

I watched Blood Simple for the first time a few weeks ago and really enjoyed watching Francis McDermott. She was fantastic in Fargo. Fargo was a great movie with all the right moves, excellent tone, bizarre characters, and a flatly affected but very strong pregnant cop played by McDermott. The Coen brothers are known for their slightly off-kilter films. Raising Arizona with Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter was a very successful and entertaining quirky movie. Strange characters and bizarre situations can be very entertaining. The formula just doesn't work in Miller's Crossing.

Gabriel Byrne stars as a dirtball gangster. He's the slimey no. 2 to Albert Finney in Finney's massive gangster world. Finney is the real power in this mystery city and Byrne's authority and power comes from only the fact that he has Finney's confidence. Finney is the star of the movie for me. In this unnamed city, the mayor and the police chief are in his pocket until his rival "goes to war" with his gang and starts to get the upper hand. Byrne is having a "liaison" with Albert Finney's galpal played ably by Marcia Gay Harden. Byrne is Finney's second in command, so his choice of girlfriend is highly questionable. Over the course of the convoluted plot and where dirtbags of all stripes show up and do their thing, Byrne is forced to kill a man to show his new pals that he is not a mole or traitor. Well, Byrne has a little itty bitty heart and lets the pathetic victim go so long as he disappears from town. The intended victim is his girlfriend's brother so it makes sense not to whack him.

Byrne makes his way between the two warring gangs all the while trying to get some money to pay off his gambling debts. It's all really quite silly and meaningless. There are lots of false deep moments with characters pretending to have souls and more than one layer to their shallow characters but they can't quite pull it off. This is a movie populated with characters who are all essentially the same, completely corrupt-- with little or no ethics or care for anybody else but themselves.

The main problem with quirky films is that they so often end badly. What I mean is that the filmmakers don't quite know how to conclude the story or they purposefully leave the ending obscure just so they can retain their "quirky" reputations.

Why is it seen as something of a failure in modern hollywood films to properly conclude a story? At one time, this was considered the mark of a well-constructed story-- one that has a beginning, middle, and end. Some "artists" apparently find the concept unfulfilling and perhaps even a bit constricting-- well, I want a proper ending to my stories! Why should the audience have to make up their own endings? It's just lazy story-telling disquised as avant-garde "art".

The ending in this movie was completely frustrating. Nothing was wrapped up for the main characters (except those that got whacked) and what seems like a perfectly reasonable option presented to Byrne at the closing is rejected by him for no apparent reason. Finney's character doesn't quite understand the ending and neither do I. But Byrne is apparently motivated by other character traits that unfortunately nobody in the audience knows anything about.

Folks in this movie don't learn alot, and don't change alot. It's just another "slice of life" in this particular weird, bizarro Coen brothers world.

The film is beautiful to watch with lush dark colors everywhere. Everybody is wan and pale and even the scenery is washed out. The direction is excellent and the pacing fine. The performances are all adequate or better, but it's just not enough. The dialogue is stilted and terse. Albert Finney owns this movie and so does Marcia Gay Harden.

Essentially, this approach to filmmaking and story telling is a treat for the filmmakers but a frustration for the audience. At the end of the movie I want to know what happens next, I want the storyline concluded, and I don't want to waste my time guessing and speculating about what happens to the characters after the credits because I really just don't care enough about the film or the shallow one or two dimensional characters to waste my time on the exercise.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 13, 2009 10:12 AM BST

Game of Death [DVD] [2000] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Game of Death [DVD] [2000] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Jonathan Pryce
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 18.95

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yes, to each his own, but. . . ., 6 May 2008
'm having a hard time accepting that anyone could really like this one at all.

The Game of Death is very very loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson's short story, The Suicide Club and Other Stories (which actually has three parts-- the first being The Story of the Young Man with the Cream Tarts, on which this film is based).

If you haven't read the book, you may want to-- I liked it years ago, but it's definitely not RLS's best work. However, if you haven't seen the film, please do yourself a favor and skip it.

The premise is fascinating-- those who wish to end their lives for whatever reason may do so here. Rather than killing themselves if they are too reluctant to do so, they pay for their "murder", thereby not bringing shame upon their families (and getting a "proper" burial, too). The catch is, of course, that their 'turns' are decided by the draw of cards. And, it may be their turn to murder several times before drawing the card that permits them to get killed by another member. To me, this sounds like a twist on "Strangers on a Train (Two-Disc Special Edition)". However, it was nothing at all like that classic.

Jonathan Pryce plays the leader of this club ruling with high society iron! Once you sign the club's contract, there's no getting out of the club... alive! Obviously, for those who join this is the desired result. However, for those who change their minds and want to live well they're just out of luck (i.e., dead)!

The acting here is very good. Paul Bettany ( The Heart of Me) is just excellent. He has a small role, but was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. David Morrissey (Our Mutual Friend, Sense & Sensibility (with Miss Austen Regrets) (BBC TV 2008)) is superb as well. Acting isn't the issue here, nor the macabre subject matter. The issue is the pacing, or lack thereof.

The film just drags along; it's slow; it's boring; it's completely unbelievable. The concept of the club itself is not so outlandish so much as the budding love story that blooms between the card driven murders.

Additionally, the villain (Pryce) is completely flat and one-dimensional. In an extremely short story, this is could be excused. In a fleshed-out 2 hour movie, though, it removes so much of the dramatic tension.

Finally there is a point in the movie when someone states, "we all have our price" or "everyone has a price" or some such drivel, as if this might be the film's deep moral lesson! Silly, silly. . .

My recommendation is to save yourself the pain and frustration that I experienced and steer clear of this mess. I wish I had. I wasn't suicidal at all before the movie started but by the end of the film well, you get the picture.

The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding
The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding
by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Edition: Paperback
Price: 17.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "mother" of all fitness books!, 6 May 2008
I am not a bodybuilder but this book is not just for bodybuilders. This book is for anyone who works out and wants more information on weight lifting, strength training, or body building. It is for anyone that works out with weights. It is the best book I have on the subject, and I have several shelves devoted to exercise, fitness, training, etc.

This 800 page book is divided into 5 smaller books. Book 1 is an Introduction to Bodybuilding and includes everything from the evolution and history of bodybuilding to equipment you might need to get started. Book 2 is called Training Programs, and includes basic training principles, stretching, basic and advanced programs, and using your mind to really focus and work your muscles to their fullest. Book 3 is called Body Part Exercises and teaches a lot about anatomy as well as including full descriptions (with pics) of almost every exercise under the sun that will work each body part. Book 4 includes everything you might want to know or need to know about competitions, and Book 5 covers Health, Nutrition, and Diet.

This book has helped me immensely! Although I haven't followed Arnold's recommended specific routines, I have learned so much from this book I have been able to bring to my own workouts. It is surprisingly interesting, well-written, and completely informative. I have learned so much more about proper form, specifics regarding nutrition, and new exercises I had not tried before. And, although it is called an "encyclopedia", the truth is, it's a book that is fun to read-- there is such an abundance of information here that make the book very difficult to put down.

The book is paperback, but it's very well made. The binding has withstood a lot of reading and bending-- the spine and pages are still intact. The book is illustrated with many helpful black and white photos and the pages are high quality with only a little gloss-- very easy to read.

Price: 7.84

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Interplay of Style, Art, Multiple Eras, and Total Beauty, 6 May 2008
This review is from: Baroque (Audio CD)
Need a treat, a classical music improvisation treat on the piano? Well, here it is. This is a really beautiful recording. I am listening to Albinoni and Bach and Handel and Vivaldi all spun just slightly differently by this astonishingly talented pianist, Gabriela Montero.

Sometimes when Glenn Gould was playing he would hum along to the music. And he'd be so carried away with himself well, he'd hum louder. In some recordings his humming is quite audible and I hate to say, distracted me from his brilliant playing--there are some recordings of Bach by him that I can't listen to anymore on account of the humming. Gabriela is also carried away with the beauty of the music but has the self-control that Gould did not.

This recording is dated last year. It's new and it's fresh. It's got a haunting lovely thoughtful and thought-provoking introspection about it. The recording quality is excellent with the piano deep and flawless.

This pianist plays with superb technical alacrity and a deep emotional connection to her art. She is a serious treat to listen to, and while slightly lighter in intensity than some of the originals that she is improvising on, her own art makes it all seem new again.

These kind of recordings with a newly discovered artist, at least to me, is something that fills my heart with a new joy. Like discovering a new favorite wine or a new author or a new artist, Montero grabs you and leads down a beautiful path of sound and spirit and feeling. Rarely has the piano sounded so clean and crisp than on this beautiful recording.

Plaudits to Gabriela Montero and also to her producer David Groves for doing such a superb job capturing her playing so finely.

So, do you need a new piano treat? Do you need a new take on lots of old baroque standards by a superb artist and technician? Well, here it is. Montero is a superb technical pianist, she is flawless from what I have heard in this recording. There is some modern sensibilities thrown into these baroque pieces by the masters but in these new incarnations they work quite well as new pieces in their own right. Imagine Vince Guaraldi mixed in with some Handel or Scarlatti; imagine the airy piano of George Winston, and the accuracy and power of Gould. It's all here for you to find.

I hope that you enjoy this beautiful recording as much as I do.

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