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Adobe InDesign CS4 & CS3 Core Video Training (Mac/PC DVD)
Adobe InDesign CS4 & CS3 Core Video Training (Mac/PC DVD)
Price: 59.53

3.0 out of 5 stars More video manual than training course, 19 Nov 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I came to this product with limited Creative Suite knowledge. The only CS5 programme I use regularly is After Effects, and I've never had formal training. When I've needed to learn new tricks in the past I've watched video tutorials on websites like Creative Cow.

The format and pacing of this product surprised me at first. It goes through pretty much every button/ interface/ menu drop down from (to my mind) the blindingly obvious to the less self-explanatory. The voice guide, compared to other online tutorials which often sound two or three pots of coffee to the good, was plodding and methodical. I found myself fast forwarding through most of the individual videos.

The second thing that surprised me was the aesthetic quality of the example documents. Most of them look pretty 90s and I found that off-putting rather than inspirational, even if the videos were bulletproof in explaining the mechanical aspects of each design.

Overall - this product is a helpful reference to have for a novice in that it's essentially a video manual. From that point of view, it can't really be knocked - because you'd have to spend substantial chunks of time trawling the internet to find answers to the all questions it neatly organises for you.

But if you want to feel in the hands of a master - and get those 'that's how they do that!' moments - I would give it only a tepid recommendation.

Offered by gamingcrazyuk
Price: 1.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't work with MacBook Pro, 26 Oct 2011
I bought this to output from my display miniport on MacBook Pro. It didn't work.

Luckily, I'd read reviews here and saw it coming. I hedged my bets and bought an alternative which did work.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2012 6:21 PM GMT

Assorted Fire Events: Stories
Assorted Fire Events: Stories
by David Means
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.02

4.0 out of 5 stars The Carver Connection, 26 Oct 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Two unrelated events affected my reading of this collection:

1. Listening to David Means read a Raymond Carver short story for the excellent New Yorker Fiction podcast in 2010.
2. Starting the collection in a beach house on the British south coast, and losing my copy before I'd finished.

On the first point, Means is somewhat like Carver. To the reviewers who criticised a lack of narrative, I would counter that (superficially) the same can feel true in some of Carver's work. But - like Carver - the texture of Means's writing and the details of the lives he portrays are often revelatory, and it is from these details that his stories propel themselves forward.

The stories I read, however, had more graphic bursts of physical violence, and calculated emotional violence, than anything I can recall in Carver. Reading these stories as I wandered around the desolation of Dungeness (the only technical 'desert' in the UK) had a peculiar resonance.

I can't say if the stories would have affected me so much without that context, and I don't know if the quality of the collection is sustained until the end. But I would recommend this collection if you're a fan of Carver, and I wouldn't try to read it in a single sitting. Take it out into the countryside, by a lake, on an empty beach. Take it in fragments. Take your time with the collection. And try not to lose it!

The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica
The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica
by Ian Thomson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The expert and the ex-pat, 16 Sep 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Several friends had recommended Bonjour Blanc, Ian Thomson's earlier work on Haiti. I was amply excited to receive this book. It didn't disappoint.

There are very full and articulate reviews on this page already - so I won't add another long write-up.

All I'll say is this: Thomson's episodic essays provided a wonderful patchwork of Jamaica. But if I were to make one criticism (and I could only make one), it is that he hopped between the UK and Jamaica a little too often.

I understand his reasoning. He does a very fine job in unravelling the nature of Jamaica's colonial past. Although when he talked about Jamaica's global present, and its American diaspora, I always wished he'd written more.

Din Da Da (French Import) [VINYL]
Din Da Da (French Import) [VINYL]

2.0 out of 5 stars All remixes on this version, 9 May 2009
This pressing is all mid-90s remixes of the the 1984 classic.

If you'd like to try out some remixes, it could work for you. If you want the original cut, it's not here.

I found that out the expensive way.

Funkin' For Jamaica
Funkin' For Jamaica
Price: 5.18

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise..., 5 Jan 2006
This review is from: Funkin' For Jamaica (Audio CD)
Not heard of Tom Browne? I wouldn't be entirely surprised. He didn't have massive or long-lasting success off the back of his breakthrough track, but what a breakthrough track.
I bought this album just for 'Funkin' for Jamaica'. It's been sampled left, right & centre, and DJs like Yoda frequently slip it into their 80s megamixes. Does that mean it's corny? Yes and no. I'm 23, and much of the pop-jazz-funk music of this era sounds borderline cheesy to me, but thankfully the musicianship and listening pleasure more than rescue it.
The rest of the album helps to explain why. In amongst these 'Greatest Hits' (not many of them were significant 'hits') is an impressive Coltrane cover and at least a couple of other tracks that are worth a boogie.
Theo Parrish played Lesette Wilson's 'Caveman Boogie' at the Southport Weekender recently (she played with Tom Browne) and it goes to show that this generation of funksters are becoming hip again. Don't be ashamed, you can dance entirely without embarrassment these days. So I'd get it.

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 14.60

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tudo bem!, 5 Jan 2006
This review is from: Carolina (Audio CD)
Have to agree with the other reviewer on this page. Magazines like Straight No Chaser and tastemakers like Gilles Peterson have done an excellent job of opening up contemporary Brazilian music. Artists like Seu Jorge and Ed Motta are working with an obvious knowledge of and sensitivity to Bossa and Samba, but like Azymuth, Milton Nascimento, Marcos Valle and many more before them, incorporating a great range of styles and influences.
This is not Seu Jorge's most famous album. Most people in Britain are probably more familiar with his work on the Life Aquatic soundtrack and his latest solo album Cru (2005). Carolina isn't as accoustic and folky as the Bowie covers used on Wes Anderson's film. He is much readier to use funk basslines ('Funk Baby') and synths ('Mangueira') to give the album, at times, a more contemporary electronic feel. There's still plenty of singing and a sprinkling of ballads, though, and I'd be surprised if anyone who'd enjoyed the Life Aquatic songs didn't feel this album. My favourite tracks, as it turned out, were the more upbeat numbers like 'Mangueira' and 'Chega no Suingue'.
Got to plug Ed Motta, though - get one of his albums if you like Seu Jorge. And if you like the more 80s basslines & synths, try Benetton's Rio Funk compilation of modern Brazilian dancehall tunes. It's a playful mash-up of sounds that we just don't get in Britain.

The Last Laugh [DVD]
The Last Laugh [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emil Jannings

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A testament to the varied brilliance of Weimar cinema, 5 Jan 2006
This review is from: The Last Laugh [DVD] (DVD)
This is undoubtedly one of the very best films of the 1920s. I watched Der letzte Mann after viewing Faust, Nosferatu and Tartuffe, looking for modes of Expressionism and trying to grasp what made Murnau tick. Der letzte Mann is very different from Murnau's most famous work. There are nods to Expressionism, but the truly pioneering aspect of Der letzte Mann is Karl Freund's 'unchained camera'. Murnau developed camera tricks here in 1924 that would be repeated nearly fifty years later by Martin Scorsese in Mean Streets: the dizzying, subjective camera that demonstrates Emil Janning's enebriation. For me, this is the most virtuosic passage of the film - but other 'tricks', such as the impression of a building falling upon Emil Jannings and the camera panning in through a window, show a tremendous knowledge of the early 'cinema of attractions' as well as a progressive desire to advance the syntax of the film.
Everything came together in Der letzte Mann. Arguably the greatest director of Weimar Germany, the most successful producer, the most accomplished cameraman and the most famous actor's face. Der letzte Mann marks a summit of an incredibly exciting period in the history of film, and exhibits the fact that Murnau was not restricted in his thinking to shadows and fog (Tartuffe, too, is a very different piece from Nosferatu).
Anyone interested should read more recent studies on German cinema in 1920s such as Thomas Elsasser's. The Weimar Cinema has recently been reappraised for what it was - a broad range of talents converging on many different subjects and forms well ahead of their time. Der letzte Mann, more ably than any other film of the era, demonstrates this in exhilarating fashion.

Parallel Dimensions
Parallel Dimensions

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get it get it get it!, 4 Aug 2005
This review is from: Parallel Dimensions (Audio CD)
What to say about Theo Parrish? His records are almost impossible to get hold of, he's well under-exposed, and yet he's been doing it for time and never missing a beat. Part of the appeal of Theo is his exclusivity: you do have to work to find his sleeveless mixes. You don't hear his records at regular house nights.
Now that 'Parallel Dimensions' has been reissued on Ubiquity, that 'exclusivity' argument doesn't hold as an excuse for not owning a Theo record. I'm not dance-literate enough to quite explain what this album represents. I've heard it described as 'micro-house', and that makes some sense to me. There is something deliberately understated, even as the bass reverberates throughout. Something almost melancholic or nostalgic: not often found with any degree of subtlety in dance music. But there's also that hovering darkness and hints of pure evil, like, appropriately enough, in the track 'Nefarious Stranger'. Like Moodymann's releases of the last few years, it's progressive, melodic, and deeply deeply soulful without having to belt it out from the rooftops.
So get it. And get one up on your Theo-less friends.

Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra
Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra
by John F. Szwed
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dare to Knock at the Door of the Cosmos, 4 Aug 2005
I bought this biography in spite of another review on this page and was deeply gratified to find a huge amount of interest and insight in the work.
I can't help but wonder if there's much point in reading about an artist's life with "one goal in mind". It would be like listening to 'Space Is The Place', the album, with a singular intention.
From reading the biography and listening to the music of Sun Ra it is patently obvious that, as an artist, Sonny valued communal creativity and a catholic approach to learning at an absolute premium. This is a man who, we discover, used to read at all hours of the day, spurn sleep, and follow up any lead that might expand his understanding and awareness on a myriad of different subjects. A man who used to recruit untrained musicians in the hope that they might improve and grow, and that his prodigious talent might develop from their raw spirit and intuitive errors. Playing the wrong notes.
Does playing the wrong notes sound like a familiar concept? It was a very familiar concept when the first wave of critics sharpened their knives at Miles Davis's modal jazz. John Szwed is a very accomplished biographer, and it is no coincidence that he has since tackled the towering jazz legend of Miles himself. The two biographies in comparison show the real nuances of Szwed's craft. Is there something massively personal about the music of Sun Ra? No, it's difficult to argue that viewpoint, and Sun Ra made it impossible to deconstruct himself as a man. Szwed doesn't, hence, dabble in pointless hypothesis about "what drove him", because it would be entirely conjecture. It would work against the myth that makes the music. Is there something massively personal about the music of Miles Davis? Yes, absolutely. He was very aware of himself as a 'star', he was very egomaniacal in his personal life and creativity. Szwed provides considerable insight into Davis's battles with heroin, his many lovers, his rejection of family life and so on.
A comparison of these two works suggests that Szwed the biographer is far from a one-trick pony, and certainly not cashing in on a simple Sun Ra obsession. Furthermore, to suggest that he is uncomfortable outside the boundaries of jazz conveniently neglects the fact that he is not just an historian of jazz, but also of the African American. His Miles biography develops an awareness of Norman Mailer's 'The White Negro', theories of the black hipster, discussions of the Black Panthers, and many other such facets of a culture in transition. Similarly, in 'Space Is The Place' we get a strong impression of Sun Ra as a theorist of the black race and his significance during the decades of the civil rights movement. His life maps some of the territory of black theorizing at a crucial juncture in American history.
I listen to Sun Ra with much more PLEASURE now as a result, because I understand what he believed in. I can't pick apart his every note, but I'm not sure what could be gained from that. To suggest that Sun Ra the musician is no longer influential would be to disregard the re-release of the feature film 'Space Is The Place' for a start. It would also disregard the JAZZ that was born of his influence (apologies that he can't claim to have spawned Pink Floyd, but I'm not sure that's a claim he would ever have made). It would also disregard his massive influence in hip-hop/ jazz fusion. A glance at the sleeve for the very fine 'Sun Ra Dedication' on Kindred Spirits should explain as much: tributes by Theo Parrish, Madlib, Build An Ark and many others. A sound and spirit that has inspired hip-hoppers, jazzists, micro house knob-twidlers, minimalist obsessives. All sorts in fact. This is not a fact that Szwed overly publicizes, and perhaps this could be a relevant criticism of the biography.
But to criticize the biography for not being what you want it to be, to criticize Sun Ra for not influencing the artists you expect him to have influenced, and to criticize John Szwed for not 'explaining' a certain track or dissecting a man who you've already decided not to like... well, it seems to miss the point.
And getting in an oblique cheap shot at Sun Ra for his testicular deformity is as spineless and ungrounded as claiming that Lance Armstrong lacks true soul or joie de vivre.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 19, 2011 11:51 PM GMT

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