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bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas)

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Angels And Demons
Angels And Demons
by Dan Brown
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars "A hundred thousand miracles are happening every day" (Flower Drum Song), 13 April 2015
This review is from: Angels And Demons (Paperback)
Robert Langdon a Harvard symbologist is woken in the middle of the night by a phone call that is going to change his life. This phone call may also change our lives.

Dan Brown weaves many story threads in to a tapestry of intrigue. The story takes place over a 24-hour period. A positive thing about this tale is that it is told in a linear fashion with very few flashbacks except when it is necessary for a back-story. In this story he treats Robert Langdon's character as if Langdon is not aware of many, well known technical items and theories; this may be true of Robert Langdon, but Dan Brown also irritatingly treats us as if we do not know these things!

On the surface, we are treated to a "who did it" and "will we get there in time" story. We must separate the goats from the sheep. However, we are also confronted with science versus religion. Is science and religion like oil and water or is science and religion just two of the facets of God?

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This should not be your first introduction to Alice, 13 April 2015
An occasional review will focus on this point. Alice in Wonderland is no more children's book than, "The Lord of the Rings".

The reason this five star book gets less stars occasionally is not because of its contents or purpose; it is because of either being mistaken for a kids book, in which case one wonders why it is forced on kids, or it is so dated that even the reader thinks it is gobbledygook.

You will find the book full of references to items of the time and play on words of the time.

If you fall into either of these categories then you need to first purchase "The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition"; this will clear this understandable confusion. Be aware that every sentience is a play on words for a jab at the culture of that time.

I will not go through the story, as that is why you are buying this book. However I will say that it is a classic and should be part of everyone's cultural education.

When you make it through this book and enjoy it the next challenge should be "Alice's Abenteuer Im Wunderland" German Translation.

If you are also interested in sci-fi then try to get a copy of "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Henry Kuttner.

The Ascent of Man
The Ascent of Man
by Jacob Bronowski
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable time in history, 13 April 2015
This review is from: The Ascent of Man (Paperback)
Nowadays many different books have been written to explain the unfolding of humans and civilization. This book covers many great products and inventors instead of all the great wars. In the 1970's this was unique to the public. In addition, this book is the template for those to follow.
The contents include:
1 Lower than the Angles (evolution of the head)
2 The Harvest of the Seasons (the pace of cultural evolution)
3 The Grain in the Stone (blood group evidence of migration)
4 The Hidden Structure (fire)
5 The Music of the Spheres (the language of numbers)
6 The Starry Messenger (the cycle of seasons)
7 The majestic Clockwork (Kepler's laws)
8 The Drive for Power (Everyday technology)
9 The ladder of Creation (are other formulas of life possible?)
10 World Within World (the periodic table)
11 Knowledge of Certainty (There is no absolute knowledge)
12 Generation upon generation (cloning of identical forms)
13 The Long Childhood (The commitment of man)

I have the original hardback book, reference book, and study guide. The local library still has the original videotapes. You have to be an institution to purchase them.

DVD is now available in region 1. It is a tad more pricy.
This DVD set that matches or rivals the book.

This is a humanities course at the local collage. A plus was actually getting to go through the Watts Towers as a kid. This work does rings around "Connections" by James Burke because it is the story of the people behind the connections.

I am not saying that this book replaces others, but that it has more to say without resorting to today's sound byte system of writing.

Million Ways to Die in the West [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Million Ways to Die in the West [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £8.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Beware of that fatal paper cut, 13 April 2015
From the beginning this movie hits you with potty mouth and potty humor. This may be o.k. or even desirable in British comedies. Here it was just down right crude. Even people that enjoy the versatility of English would cringe at the dialog and low level comedy. The high level comedy here was slapstick.

If you get past the crudery and ridiculous scenes, there's a standard formula that you will recognize at once. A sheepherder with a sense of humanity backs down from a Neanderthal confrontation with the gunslinger. His girlfriend finds this attitude not to her liking and departs from his company. Will he get over his loss? Or take it in his stride. Or will he change his ways and loses humanity as he strives to outselling the gunslingers?

Meanwhile back at the ranch a new girl shows up with a mysterious past. She seems to cotton to him and help them make his decisions.

You will have to watch the movie to find out what choices he makes and what results is of those choices.

As I stated originally one would have to have no discerning taste to be able to make it to the end of this film and find out what happens. However on the upside there are a lot of great actors and you believe the parts that they play.

Shakespeare: The Word and the Action
Shakespeare: The Word and the Action
Offered by Audible Ltd

5.0 out of 5 stars The play is the thing, 13 April 2015
I'll have grounds
More relative than this--the play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.

Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 603-605

You would not be reading this review if you did not think you already have a pretty good handle on Shakespeare. You have probably already seen a few plays (at the movies or in the theater) and or read several of his plays. You might even be familiar with some of his sonnets. Yet as most of us that have to be told that our shoes are untied there is much more to Shakespeare than what we can extrapolate on our own. Now it is time to have a second set of eyes or ears as you would to show us depths that we may not have attained in understanding Shakespeare the word and the action.

This is a great set of lectures by Prof. Peter Saccio. One thing you have to watch out for in great courses is religious fanatics disguising themselves as professors. In this case you do not have to worry about that you have the real thing.

It sort of ironical that his first statement is that most people don't like Shakespeare because their first encounter was with the teacher that wanted to pull everything apart until the students how it works instead of just enjoying oneself with observations. Then he turns around and use this course to pull everything apart. But you will find that his polling is a lot more enjoyable.

He suggests that this course can be taken from someone who has not heard any of his previous lectures and that might be so; however if you're just coming into Shakespeare with no background you may be lost in some of the quotes and points that he makes.

You don't have to get everything out of these lectures however there is something in them for everybody and re-watching them after having time to think and read will add more richness to their second viewing and third and fourth.

Lecture 1: Shakespeare's Wavelengths
Lecture 2: The Multiple Actions of "a Midsummer Night's Dream"
Lecture 3: The Form of Shakespeare's Sonnets
Lecture 4: Love in Shakespeare's Sonnets
Lecture 5: love and artifice in "Love's Labor's Lost" and "Much Ado about Nothing"
Lecture 6: "As You Like It"
Lecture 7: the battles of "Henry VI"
Lecture 8: "Richard III" and the Renaissance

The Voyage of the Beagle (Illustrated) (Annotated)
The Voyage of the Beagle (Illustrated) (Annotated)
Price: £1.50

5.0 out of 5 stars You can't tell me he wasn't having fun, 13 April 2015
Remember this says "Journal" and that is what it is. It is his first parson adventures on and off the Beagle. He even includes stories about the people on the ship, the ship's life, and maintenance. He is always going ashore and venturing beyond the ship charter to go where no Englishman has gone before. He makes friends with tyrants and the down trodden. Once, to get an animal to come to him, he lay on his back and waved his arms and legs in the air. Whatever you do, do not turn your back on him. He is always knocking something on the head and taking it back for study. It is fun trying to match the old names for places with the new.

Brave New World (Cover by Denis Piper)
Brave New World (Cover by Denis Piper)
by Aldous Huxley
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars O brave new world that has such people in't! - Miranda, 13 April 2015
O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't! -Miranda
The Tempest Act 5, scene 1, 181-184

In a world where everyone knows their purpose and are alike in kind is being different a blessing or a curse?

We are treated to a glimpse of a possible future world where friendship can still exist. This is a story of a hand full of individuals in a world that emphasizes "Community, Identity, Stability" that find each other and discus subjects that most of the people of that time cold not understand. However we do. Naturally the author Aldous Huxley builds his own scenarios and draws his own conclusions through the characters speeches and description of experimental history.

Bernard Marx who is about to lose his job because he is different (very different) form those around him, decides to take a vacation to visit the Zuni's. There he meets a misplaced person named John. Together with the help of Bernard's friend Henry they intend to change the world. So they find out the world is incapable of changing.

We get an Ayn Rand type speech from Mustapha Mond one of the world controllers' that helps you realize that in this brave new world the three friends are the anomaly. How can this enigma be solved?

Do not forget to watch the 1998 movie version with Leonard Nimoy as Mustapha Mond.

Brave New World Starring: Peter Gallagher, Leonard Nimoy

And So It Goes [DVD] [2014] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
And So It Goes [DVD] [2014] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £10.77

2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, tedious, tiresome, contrived, manufactured for the proletariat, 13 April 2015
This actors are a great mix. The director has dome much better with other movies. The formula is proven by many people that get tiered of originality.

So what went wrong, the slowness and spoon-feed morality just made for a boring experience. Some movies start off slow and pick up, but not this movie.

The story in general is a curmudgeon is settled with a kid and asks a neighbor to help. Soon he mellows out by the experience.

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Magic in the Moonlight [DVD] [2014] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Magic in the Moonlight [DVD] [2014] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £14.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Knock knock, who's there?, 13 April 2015
A well composed movie with a not new but uniquely acted story of Stanly (Colin Firth), a great magician is challenged by his best friend who is also a magician to debunk a psychic, (Emma Stone), that is debunkable. In the process he may fall in love which may complicate things a bit.

The scenery is beautiful. It says filmed in France but if you did not know you would say it was California. A few scenes with close ups of Colin would have you thinking he was talking to himself other than the other person.

Worth the music alone. I'll have to look for the soundtrack.

"You Do Something to Me" composed by Cole Porter
"Part 1 - The Adoration of the Earth" from "the Right of Spring" composed by Igor Stravinsky
"Bolero" composed by Maurice Ravel
"II. Molto Vivance" from "Symphony No. 9 in D Minor" composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
"It's All a Swindle" ("Alles Schwindel") composed by Mischa Spoliansky and Marcellos Schiffer
"Moritat" composed by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht
"Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" composed by Joseph A. Ager and Jack Yellen
"Thou Swell" composed by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart
"I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" composed by Harry Carroll and Joseph McCarthy
"Sorry" composed by Raymond Klages
"The Sheik of Araby" composed by Harry B. Smith, Francis Wheeler and Todd Snider
"Who" composed by Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbauch and Jerome Kern
"Chinatown, my Chinatown" composed by William Jerome and Jean Swartz
"Remember Me" composed by Sonny Miller
"Charleston" composed by James P. Johnson and R. C. McPherson
"Sweet Georgia Brown" Composed by Ben Bernie, Kenneth Casey, and Marco Pinkard
"You Call It Madness (but I Call It Love)" composed by Con Conrad, Gladys DuBois, Russ Colombo and Paul Gregory
"At The Jazz Band Ball "composed by Larry Shields, Anthony S Barbaro, D. James LaRocca, and Edwin B. Edwards
"It All Depends on You" composed by Lew Brown, B. G. DeSylva, and Ray Henderson
"I'll Get by (As Long As I Have You)" composed by Fred E. Albert, and Roy Turk

Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars "Cursed, cursed creator." - The monster, 13 April 2015
This review is from: Frankenstein (Kindle Edition)
The commentary tries to give depth and meaning to this poorly written story.

Victor grew up reading the works of Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Albertus Magnus, the alchemists of the time. Toss in a little natural philosophy (sciences) and you have the making of a monster. Or at least a being that after being spurned for looking ugly becomes ugly. So for revenge the creature decides unless Victor makes another (female this time) creature, that Victor will also suffer the loss of friends and relatives. What is victor to do? Bow to the wishes and needs of his creation? Or challenge it to the death? What would you do?

Although the concept of the monster is good, and the conflicts of the story well thought out, Shelly suffers from the writing style of the time. Many people do not finish the book as the language is stilted and verbose for example when was the last time you said, "Little did I then expect the calamity that was in a few moments to overwhelm me and extinguish in horror and despair all fear of ignominy of death."
Much of the book seems like travel log filler. More time describing the surroundings of Europe than the reason for traveling or just traveling. Many writers use traveling to reflect time passing or the character growing in stature or knowledge. In this story they just travel a lot.

This book is definitely worth plodding through for moviegoers. The record needs to be set strait. First shock is that the creator is named Victor Frankenstein; the creature is just "monster" not Frankenstein. And it is Victor that is backwards which added in him doing the impossible by not knowing any better. The monster is well read in "Sorrows of a Young Werther," "Paradise Lost," and Plutarch's "Lives." The debate (mixed with a few murders) rages on as to whether the monster was doing evil because of his nature or because he was spurned?

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