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Charles Miller "objective clarity" (Baltimore, Maryland U.S.A.)
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Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom
Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom
by Kelsang Gyatso
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.03

3 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Modern Regurgitation, 9 Nov 2010
PREFACE:

No authentic Buddhist tradition recognizes Gyatso's sect, not even so much as one. Genuine Buddhists see it as countless Sutras boiled down Dharma for Westerner Dummies by the make-believe Geshe who was offered the test, refused it, but took the title anyway by inventing his own "tradition" to bestow it upon himself (like an author of a self-help medical book representing himself as a medical doctor, but in reality, only has an unrelated PhD). GYATSO CRITICS ARE REVIEWING HIS BOOKS WHEN THEY QUESTION HIS AUTHORITY TO WRITE SUCH VOLUMES TO BEGIN WITH.

REVIEW:

What is the title of this book trying to say... modern Buddhism is the path of compassion and wisdom ...versus the 2,500 years that went before that weren't? What does the phrase "Modern Buddhism" actually mean? Does it refer to the author's 30-year-old "tradition" (and by implication, the only Buddhist sect to practice compassion and wisdom)? The pre-modern teachings of the Buddha are the path of compassion and wisdom and this author's qualifying word, modern, is utter nonsense.

This whole book is nonsense. It never ceases to amaze how many times this author can write the same thing, put a new cover on it, and call it something different. Whereas his last book, Transform Your Life, was acknowledged as a "best-of" paraphrasing of what has gone before, this title takes bits and pieces from his previous volumes and patches them together for this so-called new (and modern!) release ...complete with a new (and modern!) method for daily practice. It is nothing new for this author however... just reworded/reorganized material. Please note how even the positive reviews for the hardcover edition admit there is duplication among this author's works.

For those who have already read previous Gyatso titles, you'll get that deja vu all over again feeling when you start this one. There is nothing new here as the author has nothing to add to his original and simplistic paint-by-numbers Dharma for Western beginners forumla. Newcomers to Buddhism are well-advised to check out beginner books by authentic and conventional authors to understand the real meaning of the Dharma versus this aggressively controversial title with its promise of "easy enlightenment" ...as if it came in a bottle. If verifiable proof of so much as one enlightenment via a Gyatso book is ever provided, I will delete my critical review. It is a shame so many unrealistic claims are made regarding "easy enlightment" via these books, which only serve to prove how strongly some people want to believe in magic.
Comment Comments (34) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 4, 2013 2:42 PM GMT


Send Ultimate 2cd
Send Ultimate 2cd
Price: 16.23

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here it is again... only better, 21 July 2010
This review is from: Send Ultimate 2cd (Audio CD)
Originally released in 2003, here it is again, but this time with a bonus CD (the first disc is the original album). As all the material could have all fit on one CD, spreading it out over two discs was kind of pointless; however, it costs about the same as a single CD and takes up about as much space, so it is a minor point.

The second disc contains material from the first two Read & Burn EPs that did not make it to the Send album. That is followed by four outtakes and two tracks that comprised the remixed, and the now rare 12XU 7" release, which came early in the 2000 incarnation of Wire. For those who already have the Read & Burn EPs as well as the original Send album, these six tracks are meat of the matter.

Artificial Gravity leads the pack of "new" tracks. Definitely Send material and kind of surprised it didn't get released somewhere with the original incarnations. Liner notes state they couldn't take its loop-like qualities any further than what it is. The DJ track is more outstanding material, which, before reading the liner notes, sounded (guitarist) Bruce Gilbert-inspired, but turns out to be a (vocalist) Colin Newman thing. Rounding out the new tracks are alternate versions Our Time and Desert Diving, which may have been more appropriate on some future Object 47 Ultimate release. Still, these are excellent tracks, even though unfortunately, Bruce Gilbert does not appear to be present on these. He left Wire before Read & Burn 03 was recorded.

The two 12XU remixes are very short (90 seconds and 100 seconds, respectively), but are a lot of fun to listen to. While not plainly stated within the liner notes provided, I read on Wire's web site at the time of its original release as a limited edition 7" vinyl, Colin Newman was mainly responsible for the remix magic.

Is it worth buying Send again? For the new comers to Wire and the Wire completist, the answer is a resounding yes. The former will find what is perhaps the best album ever recorded (after all these years, it remains my personal favorite), while the latter will consider the approximate 25 minutes of "new" material essential. Those in between should probably balance their liking of these musicians with the amount of material previously released they already own (Send, Read & Burn 01 and Read & Burn 02) and take it from there.

After being apart for 15 years, Wire reformed in 2000 and released this Send material in spurts, first the EPs, then Send, and finally Send Redux, an LP or download only re-release of Send with all of the EP and album tracks edited down to their essential elements. The brevity and intensity of the 16 tracks that make up Send Redux reminds one of Wire's first album Pink Flag. At first, Send Redux may seem redundant, but one listen obviates the fact that it isn't. To be truly Send Ultimate however, Send Redux should have been included in this currently reviewed set as there was room for it, my only real complaint about this new issue.

With regards to the original Send album itself for those not familiar with it:

On first listening, one is struck by how much Send tracks pick up where Wire's first album (Pink Flag) left off... greased lightening material that make you wonder if drummer Robert Grey's arms would fall off keeping up with (or setting) the pace. But there's more here... far more.

Unlike the first album (a debut masterpiece), there is a new maturity... and understanding as to how to put together a "new" Pink Flag, only better. Wire has managed to infuse more energy into this work than anything that has gone before. And, the more you listen, the more you realize that these tracks are finely crafted... clever beginnings, incredible segues and succinct endings. Imagine that... more intense than ever before, yet also a mature and well thought out album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2010 9:52 PM BST


Nervsystem
Nervsystem
by Leif Elggren
Edition: Unknown Binding

4.0 out of 5 stars Add a star if you understand Swedish, 15 Jun 2010
This review is from: Nervsystem
This is a very early work by Leif Elggren; visual, audio, written word, and performance artist. Contained within are numerous and quite excellent drawings from the late 1970s. The text is all in Swedish and is poetry (or so I have read). If you have a taste for this artist, then it is an important work to own because it all started here (whether or not you can read it).


Ocean of Nectar: The True Nature of All Things
Ocean of Nectar: The True Nature of All Things
by Kelsang Gyatso
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.55

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ocean of Gyatso, 26 May 2010
From the "humble monk" comes Ocean of Nectar, which would have better titled, Ocean of Gyatso, because that is what this book is about... more Gyatso than Chandrakirti's Guide to the Middle Way. There are no modern sources quoted for this commentary (as is always the case with this author), as if he does not need any support for his opinions. I use the word "opinions" because despite the fact he uses the title of "Geshe" the reality of the matter is he was offered the Geshe test, refused it, but decided to use the title anyway. This is kind of like calling yourself a doctor when you have no diploma to back up your claim... ugh!

This muddy volume would probably be enhanced if one were a member of his group, the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), as this title (like all of his books), assumes you follow that sect. For a newcomer to Buddhism or any member of a truly traditional, mainstream Buddhist tradition, this title is self-serving and ultimately meaningless. It does not limit itself to commentary on Guide to the Middle Way, but drags in the author's usual formula for practice and enlightenment... irrelevant at best.

Furthermore, while the translation may be adequate, one has to remember the author can barely speak English, so it is an uncredited translator who actually did the work.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2012 3:02 PM GMT


John Cale & Band Live at Rockpalast [DVD] [2010]
John Cale & Band Live at Rockpalast [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ John Cale
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 12.89

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-see DVD, 10 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This show has previously appeared in the form of bootlegs. Now, and after all these years, it sees the light of day as an official release. Musically, this is mid-80s Cale at his best and this is the video of a live television program. A CD is also being issued of the same performance.

Beyond the excellence of the music, the performance itself was visually stunning with Cale apparently 'under the influence' and engaging in extreme antics, to include (but not limited to) tearing up the stage flooring. There is however, no indication of this on the music-only CD.

Additionally, the second concert featured on the CD set is also here... a "gentler" unaccompanied John Cale and it makes for the perfect counterpoint to the first disc.

One minor 'problem' with this set is the seemingly endless promos for other products one has to endure before finally getting to the menu for the Cale concert.

If budgetary requirements dictate the purchase of only the CDs or the DVDs, pick the DVDs. As the music was so very excellent, this can be recommended to long-term fans, completists and new-comers.


Live At Rockpalast
Live At Rockpalast
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 14.38

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 CD set!, 10 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Live At Rockpalast (Audio CD)
...not one, as Amazon advertises. So you get the 'violent' Rockpalast show AND another concert from 1983, featuring the 'introverted' Cale on piano and guitar. Many of the songs are the same, but the interpretations are quite different. For the money, this is a very good buy as both concerts should be considered essential for any Cale fan. Makes a good introduction for newcomers as well as this live material is as good as it gets.


Raw Power (Legacy 2CD Edition)
Raw Power (Legacy 2CD Edition)
Price: 11.11

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Incomplete 'Legacy', 1 May 2010
DISC 1

The first disc features the long out-of-print Bowie mix of the album and it never sounded better; certainly, this re-mastering is a vast improvement over the previous CD version, being far clearer and with a better lower-end response than before. Of course, it could never reach the bass intensity of the more up until now readily available Iggy Pop remix from 1997, but this version was way overdue for a face lift and it has finally come to pass.

Which version (Bowie or Pop) is better? The answer to that question will always lie with the beholder. To my mind, both versions are indispensable and now they are both available (if purchased separately) in the best sound possible to date. Sony really dropped the ball on this however. Raw Power clocks in at 34 minutes and only the Bowie version is provided here making for a first CD that is only a little bit over a half hour. With all the space necessary and no licensing problems involved, why is the Pop version not featured here for comparison?

DISC 2

No complaints for this one. So very little of the early live Stooges survives. What does is generally from acceptable to point-blank awful in quality and have been issued as bootlegs or semi-legal releases. This new set finally brings a well-recorded live show into the light after all these years of collecting dust in the Sony warehouse. While it is not quite a 'soundboard' super-sounding live recording, it is close enough to hear what the original Stooges sounded like back in the day... far better and best available of any 70s live Stooges recording to date (so stop your bitching). It is a most excellent concert, lasting nearly an hour with Iggy Pop in confrontational fine form. On a technical note, there were some problems with James Williamson's guitar that night during the first 10 minutes or so, but they were resolved and his slash-and-burn pyrotechnics never sounded better.

This disc is finished out with two unreleased tracks: Doojiman and Head On. The former is truly an outtake; recorded at the time the rest of Raw Power was and probably omitted because it didn't 'flow' with the rest of the album. That said, the acrobatic Iggy Pop vocal work on this track is probably the most extreme and enjoyable of all studio tracks he ever recorded. The latter track is an outtake from one of the famous CBS sessions with Scott Thurston on piano, recorded subsequent to the release of Raw Power. It does not sound like it has been issued before on one of the many bootlegs from this time period. While a little out of place, it rounds out a fine disc.

Highly recommended to all, completists, fans and newcomers.

FYI

For completists, there is yet another CD entitled Rough Power on Bomp Records and featuring very early, pre-Bowie/pre-Pop mixes from early 1972. While the sound quality on this is merely adequate, if you have to have it all, get this too.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2014 9:35 PM GMT


Raw Power (Legacy Edition)
Raw Power (Legacy Edition)
Price: 70.36

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5-star music | 5-star presentation | 1-star selection of tracks, 27 April 2010
DISC 1

The first disc features the long out-of-print Bowie mix of the album and it never sounded better; certainly, this re-mastering is a vast improvement over the previous CD version, being far clearer and with a better lower-end response than before. Of course, it could never reach the bass intensity of the more readily available Iggy Pop remix from 1997, but this version was way overdue for a face lift and it has finally come to pass.

Which version (Bowie or Pop) is better? The answer to that question will always lie with the beholder. To my mind, both versions are indispensable and now they are both available (if purchased separately) in the best sound possible to date. Here however is the first and greatest example of how Sony dropped the ball. Raw Power clocks in at 34 minutes and only the Bowie version is provided here making for a first CD that is only a little bit over a half hour. With all the space necessary and no licensing problems involved, why is the Pop version not featured here for comparison? Spending all this money for a deluxe package should mean all available material that can fit on the space allotted should have been used.

DISC 2

No complaints for this one. So very little of the early live Stooges survives. What does is generally from acceptable to point-blank awful in quality and have been issued as bootlegs or semi-legal releases. This new set finally brings a well-recorded live show into the light after all these years of collecting dust in the Sony warehouse. While it is not quite a 'soundboard' super-sounding live recording, it is close enough to hear what the original Stooges sounded like back in the day. And it is a most excellent concert, lasting nearly an hour with Iggy Pop in confrontational fine form. On a technical note, there were some problems with James Williamson's guitar that night during the first 10 minutes or so, but they were resolved and his slash-and-burn pyrotechnics never sounded better.

This disc is finished out with two unreleased tracks: Doojiman and Head On. The former is truly an outtake; recorded at the time the rest of Raw Power was and probably omitted because it didn't 'flow' with the rest of the album. That said, the acrobatic Iggy Pop vocal work on this track is probably the most extreme and enjoyable of all studio tracks he ever recorded. The latter track is an outtake from one of the famous CBS sessions with Scott Thurston on piano, recorded subsequent to the release of Raw Power. It does not sound like it has been issued before on one of the many bootlegs from this time period. While a little out of place, it rounds out a fine disc.

DISC 3

Sony really drops the ball again here with the track selection. The first glaring example is the inclusion of three already available songs from the Pop mix of Raw Power and labeled as 'bonus' tracks. No they are not and they constitute 3 of 8 tracks on this CD. Again, that entire version should have filled out disc 1 and they are pointless here on disc 3. The remaining tracks are only two tracks from the CBS rehearsals (previously available on bootleg/semi-legal releases, albeit in better sound here) as well as three more outtakes from the actual Raw Power sessions. Of import is Hey Peter (another outtake), an early version of Penetration, and an alternate mix of Death Trip. A note within the accompanying book states some of these tracks came from a recently found tape. Well then, why the hell wasn't more of this material included here instead what ended up on it? All that said, the aforementioned Raw Power outtakes and alternate mixes are really good and makes for a huge consolation prize.

DVD

It's only 40 minutes long and has virtually no vintage footage (but as far as I know, there is little more than a few minutes here and there of The Stooges from the 1970s. As a documentary, it is quite satisfactory and inclusion of live material from 2009 (the first to be released with James Williamson on guitar after all these years) is good. Be aware however, Iggy calls up audience members to dance on the stage with him and you cannot see the band at all during the course of this one and only performance clip from the show. Strange choice. Cannot help but wonder why more recent live material was included however, especially considering the fact there was room for it on this short DVD.

PACKAGING

The whole thing is packaged in a 7" x 7" box, made to look like a well-worn original LP. That's a nice touch. Inside, the CDs are slipped into a 7" x 7" folder with a few photographs printed on the outside. While not really a major quibble, accessing the CDs is not all that easy. There is also a 48-page book of the same size with a number of essays, quotes from contemporaries and those subsequently influenced by Raw Power, and many never before seen Mick Rock photographs originally taken for the album's release. This is a good thing. Furthermore, there are 5 'glossy' photograph reproductions included. The box is rounded out by a reproduction of the original Raw Power b/w Search and Destroy 7" single as it was released in Japan. Overall, very nice packaging.

SUMMARY

So, is it worth buying Raw Power yet again and if so, which version... this or the 'budget' 2-CD version (without Disc 3 bonuses, the DVD and the packaging)? Well, for any long-term Stooges fan or completist, the answer is without question, this version as it contains enough 'new' material to certainly make it a necessity. The packaging is impressive too. But those on budget will find the meat of the matter on Disc 2 available both here and on the lower-priced issue.

Highly recommended to all... both old Stooges fans and newcomers alike.

ADDENDUM

For completists, there is yet another CD entitled Rough Power on Bomp Records and featuring very early, pre-Bowie/pre-Pop mixes from early 1972. While the sound quality on this is merely adequate, if you have to have it all, get this too.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 10, 2010 11:57 PM BST


Tibetan Mastiff (Comprehensive Owner's Guide)
Tibetan Mastiff (Comprehensive Owner's Guide)
by Juliette Cunliffe
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best In Show, 20 April 2010
There are so very few books about this most rare and magnificent breed written in English. This is perhaps the only one with practical information regarding the care of the Tibetan Mastiff. As a result, the hope would be that indeed, it is a comprehensive owner's guide. Most fortunately, it is.

Nothing was spared to make this manual the equal of the many fine books available on various dog breeds. It begins with a historical background, covers the care of TM puppies, diseases, breed standards, behavior, etc., and it does it admirably well. Additionally, there are a considerable number of excellent photographs contained within its covers. Overall, this is a fine detailed introduction to the Tibetan Mastiff.

Since there really isn't much in the way in way of books written about Tibetan Mastiffs, if you are interested in purchasing such a title, this one by necessity will the one you will have to buy (as it is the only one still in print at a reasonable price). That said, it is a most excellent book that covers all the bases. Highly recommended to TM owners and those interested in this breed.


Codfish Suit
Codfish Suit

5.0 out of 5 stars Sound Art, 20 April 2010
This review is from: Codfish Suit (Audio CD)
This CD was released to accompany the book, Experiment With Dreams, written by Leif Elggren and Thomas Liljenberg. While not credited here, CD credits should also go to the latter author of the book as well.

The book consisted of prank letters written by Elggren and Liljenberg to famous people around the world. Therein, they claimed the recipients stole their ideas from their dreams and therefore, owe the authors money. It is impossible to turn the pages without laughing... perhaps one of the most hilarious books ever written.

The CD consists of selections from the book, which have been reworked somewhat to include introducing sound art into the proceedings. Sound art differs from music in that any melodies contained within are purely accidental. The point is to sculpt sound into forms that are unique and entertain. Therefore, this is a combination of spoken word, framed in sound art.

The value of this CD probably increases if you already own the book, but as a standalone, it works admirably well. This CD is not for everyone, but rather, for those with very adventurous audio tastes. If you fall into the latter category, enjoy!


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