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James Gandolfini: The Real Life of the Man Who Made Tony Soprano
James Gandolfini: The Real Life of the Man Who Made Tony Soprano
by Dan Bischoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.29
61 used & new from $8.14

2.0 out of 5 stars Great Actor, Not-So-Great Book, July 8, 2014
I read this book through at Barnes & Noble while waiting for a movie to start at the local theater.

Something about it seemed off. It smacks of tabloid journalism.

When it was finished, I don't think I gained any insight into Mr. Gandolfini's life - except for the unseemly bits, like drug abuse or alcoholism. Typical tabloid stuff.

Everything about the book reads like I'm scanning headlines on magazines at the checkout counter, or entries on Wikipedia. It has that kind of emotional detachment from the subject matter.

Frankly, if not for said subject matter - the late, great James Gandolfini - this book would be laughed out of bookstores.

James Gandolfini seemed to be a nice guy. By all accounts, he was a regular guy who just happened to be an exceptionally gifted actor.

But you won't find that out by reading this book.

If you're on the bubble about buying "The Real Life Story of the Man Who Made Tony Soprano," I'd say leaf through at your local book store. But don't buy it. It's just not worth it.

Hard Choices
Hard Choices
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $14.99

34 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Leafed Through At B&N...And Laughed Myself Silly, June 22, 2014
This review is from: Hard Choices (Kindle Edition)
Hillary Clinton is as big a liar as her husband - as evidenced by this novel of how she thought her life has been going to this point.

Oh, wait. It's not a novel. It's supposed to be a non-fiction book.

That's why I was laughing.

Anyone who's said and done the things Hillary Clinton has should never write a book like this. Her handling of Benghazi will haunt her the same way Chappaquiddick haunted Ted Kennedy, and for the same reasons. Her cowardice cost the lives of four Americans that tragic night. Then came the coverups. And lies. She will never live down what she did (and did not do) regarding Benghazi.

And that's not even counting the horrendous example she's set for women. By sticking with her philandering husband for political reasons, helping him discredit all of the women he fooled around with, she set back women's rights a hundred years.

She is a terrible excuse for a human being, let alone a leader of any kind.

I will not buy this book.

But it did provide me with a lotta laughs. That much I'll give her.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2014 5:56 PM PDT

Comparative Mysticism: An Anthology of Original Sources
Comparative Mysticism: An Anthology of Original Sources
by Steven T. Katz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $134.89
42 used & new from $100.04

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars $134.89??!?!?!?!, May 12, 2014
This book would have to contain handwritten notes from the creator of the universe him/her/it self for it to be worth the price asked.

Either that, or it would have to be bound in the finest calfskin leather, autographed by 14 of the world's most renowned sages, and hand-delivered by the author. In addition, each purchase would have to be an entry into a sweepstakes drawing for a chance to win a trip to seven of the world's most mystical places, with the Dalai Lama being the guide through Tibet.

Short of all that, there's no way I'll pay nearly $140 - down from a full retail price of $175! - for a regular ol' book published April 12, 2013.

Odd Thomas
Odd Thomas
DVD ~ Anton Yelchin
Price: $11.68
55 used & new from $4.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. Just Wow. No Words..., March 29, 2014
This review is from: Odd Thomas (DVD)
Like many, I'm always wary of movies made from beloved books.

And Odd Thomas is a book very much loved in our home.

So when I heard a movie was being made from it, I thought, "Yeah, right. How can they make a movie from something as imaginative, magical, and poignant as this?"

My wife and I watched Odd Thomas, the movie, this evening.

We were riveted from the first scene to the end, astounded by the faithfulness of the adaptation, and rocked to our core at the ending.

Fantastic direction, an incredible screenplay, and superb performances bring this Dean Koontz book to life in a way we never thought possible. This is the most enjoyable adaptation - especially of a sci-fi/thriller book - I've ever seen.

If you loved Odd Thomas, the book, as much as we did, you'll love Odd Thomas, the movie, just as much.

All Is Lost
All Is Lost
DVD ~ Robert Redford
Price: $12.96
26 used & new from $5.17

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "All" Is Lost, Indeed - Like About Two Hours of My Life, March 24, 2014
This review is from: All Is Lost (DVD)
If you want to see a craggy faced Robert Redford not say anything for two hours, this is the movie for you.

In the entire film, Redford says about a dozen words, give or take. The rest of the movie he's supposedly battling the elements on a small craft in the ocean.

But he's not good enough of an actor to pull off a role like this.

In fact, the kid in Life of Pi portrayed this scenario much better.

Because I knew nothing about this character - no background information is provided, not even a name - I found no way to get into the telling of the tale. I simply didn't care about this guy. His perils didn't seem that severe. His situation never seemed to me more than mildly irritating, never life threatening.

My wife and I walked out of this movie thinking, "The hell have we just done? We just lost a couple of hours of our lives."

Save yourself the grief. Skip this one.

The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series
The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series
DVD ~ Bob Newhart
Price: $110.49
7 used & new from $87.72

14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What are you people complaining about?!?!?!, March 9, 2014
There's no bigger fan of The Bob Newhart Show than me. Well, with the possible exception of my wife.

We just watched episodes from Season Two this morning, in fact, at which time we said, "It's really a shame the rest of the serious isn't available on DVD."

So I looked this morning and discovered - lo and behold! - that the complete series will be released in May.




Who cares if we already own Seasons 1-4? Honestly, what difference does it make? if getting the rest of these brilliant TV series on DVD means I have to re-buy Seasons 1-4 I'm more than happy to do so.

Quite complaining, people! For Pete's sake! Just be thankful that somebody in one of these networks had the brains to do what we've all wanted done for so many years.

"Hi, Bob."

"Hi, Howard."

"Hi, Emily."

Bring it on!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2014 3:20 PM PDT

Doctor Who-An Adventure in Space & Time
Doctor Who-An Adventure in Space & Time
9 used & new from $8.24

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why the hell isn't this movie available for purchase, or even streaming?, February 7, 2014
Or, to put it another way, what good is a movie that no one can see?

I assume the creators of this movie loved their project. They spent the time, money, and effort to make it.

You'd think they, at least, would want their movie to be seen.

I know I'd love to see it.

So where is it?

Was this movie made, shown once, and then intentionally buried? Was it awful, a terrible film? If not, why isn't it available anywhere, especially in the U.S., a tremendous market for such a release?

Sherlock: Season 3 (Original UK Version)
Sherlock: Season 3 (Original UK Version)
DVD ~ Benedict Cumberbatch
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $24.75
36 used & new from $17.40

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First Two Seasons...Flawless! Season Three...Not So Much, January 30, 2014
My wife and I own Seasons One and Two of this brilliant show on Blu-ray. We watch all six of those episodes constantly. So we were waiting on pins and needles for Season Three to air and we sat in front of our TV the night it did...

...only to shake our heads when it was over and think, "What happened?"

The first episode of Season Three lacks the pizzazz and charm of the first two seasons. In fact, it almost appears to be a different show. Here's why:

1. The explanation as to how Sherlock faked his own death was way beyond convoluted, unbelievable, and just plain hokey. It made no logical sense at all. For Sherlock to pull together a massive team to help him -- who all kept totally silent! -- stretches credibility to the breaking point.

2. It was disjointed and choppy, filmed as if by an apoplectic camera operator. The storyline hopped around as often as the camera did. Quick cut, quick cut, quick cut...close up, close up, close up. It was distracting.

3. Two years? TWO YEARS? Nearly every character but poor John Watson knew Sherlock was still alive. TWO FREAKIN' YEARS?!?!? I realize Sherlock is a sociopath. But that's just plain cruel.

4. The writing - by co-creator and actor Mark Gatiss - tried too hard to be clever and, instead, had to settle for frenetic.

Compare Season Three, Episode One with any previous episode. Watch them side by side, back to back -- doesn't matter. Season Three, Episode One is darker, less coherent, more focused on action than on character...

In short, we were so unimpressed by the first episode that we forgot there was a second episode airing the next week. For us, that's akin to blasphemy and punishable by death. That's how big of Sherlock fans we were.

There's something off about Season Three.

Your mileage may vary.

NOTE: I see a phenomenon happening with Sherlock that I do with Downton Abbey - a host of dubious 5-star reviews, all supposedly from Amazon Verified purchasers, all about a sentence or two in length, all not saying much at all other than "Great Show!" These short "reviews" appear in bursts from time to time. Methinks the game is afoot.


My wife and I watched the third episode last night -- and fell asleep about a half hour into it, something we would never have dreamed of with any episode from the first two seasons.

This morning, we talked about it. I think we know what's wrong with Season 3.

What made the first two seasons special was the fact that Holmes and Watson lived together and were often mistaken for a couple, which ticked off Watson to no end. They were very close, and their banter reflected that.

Consequently, the show was about those two.

Now, thanks to Watson's marriage, and Holmes'"girlfriend," the show is not just about Holmes and Watson; it's about the lives of two separate people who now only occasionally interact to solve a case.

Which means, a large portion of the magic is gone.

The Sherlock Homes canon is vast - some 56 short stories and four novels - so Moffat and Gatiss did not have to introduce Watson's wife this early in the series, if they did at all.

We think doing so threw off the chemistry and radically altered the interplay, which made the show so special.

Whatever the reason, we went from being two of the world's biggest Sherlock fans to falling sleep watching the show.

One more thing: the camera work in episode three was as choppy and disruptive as it was in episode one. It seems someone behind the scenes (producer? director? writer?) knows the material is weak. So there's been an effort to try to make what's happening on the screen seem more kinetic, rather than static. Doesn't work. Like Holmes exclaimed in one of the early (first two seasons) episodes: "Bored!")
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2014 9:34 AM PST

Veronica Mars: Season 1
Veronica Mars: Season 1
DVD ~ Kristen Bell
Price: $12.49
104 used & new from $6.45

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Characters, Clever, Snappy Dialogue, Engrossing Stories...Wow!, January 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Veronica Mars: Season 1 (DVD)
I remember watching an episode or two of VM back when it first aired in the early 2000s.

I liked it. But I was busy with so many other things that I didn't pay it the attention it deserved.

What a fool I was.

Today, my wife and I are dyed-in-the-wool Marshmallows. We even contributed to the Kickstarter campaign to get the Veronica Mars movie made.

And that's saying a lot because we're TV snobs. We only watch well-written, well-acted, well-directed TV along the lines of the Twilight Zone, The Dick van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The X Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Doctor Who, Sherlock, etc.

When we stumbled on Veronica Mars we hit the jackpot.

Veronica Mars is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer on steroids. It has Buffy's wit and lovable characters, but with a far more consistent and compelling storyline. The dialogue is more natural - and far wittier. The plots are more engrossing. And the characters are so well written and believable that they seem like real people.

We cannot recommend this TV series highly enough.

If you're looking for a show that you can fall in love with, this is it.

Season 4 Preview [HD]
Season 4 Preview [HD]
Price: $0.00

551 of 699 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plots Getting Tired, Characters Becoming Caricatures, January 6, 2014
My wife and I loved Downton Abbey from the first episode. To an extent, we still think very highly of it.

But we watched the first two episodes of Season 4 last night and, when they ended, heaved a big "meh."

There are a number of problems with Season 4 of Downton Abbey:


1. Thomas is still there, and still a colossal pain in the ass. Despite being one of the most despicable people at Downton Abbey, nearly universally disliked by every other character, Thomas is still employed at D.A.

2. Now that Miss O'Brien is gone (she left in the middle of the night without telling anyone), Cora Crawley needs a new Lady's Maid. Enter Edna, who more or less tricks her way back into D.A. by answering an ad to be Miss O'Brien's replacement. The character was without scruples when we last saw her; she's not improved now, and quickly forms an alliance with Thomas.

3. So, once again, Thomas is paired with a woman - this time Edna - to wreck havoc on the other servants at D.A.

4. The problem with that is two-fold: (a) the person they chose to stab in the back is Anna. Anna! The sweetest, most compassionate and kind member of the staff; and (b) the Earl and Countess of Grantham actually believe Thomas and Edna when they speak ill of Anna. Cora Crawley, apparently not the sharpest crayon in the box, always took the side of Miss O'Brien, too. But now she's taking the side of a brand new Lady's Maid against Anna! How can that be? Can Cora and Robert Crawley really be that bad a judge of character? When Robert confronted Bates to tell him to keep Anna in check, my wife and I looked at each other and shook our heads. Would Robert have done that? Does he not know what kind of people Bates and Anna are?

5. The fact that we now have nearly the same configuration of characters we did in Season 1, with the nearly the same conflict, tells me that Julian Fellowes is out of ideas. Now he's just recycling what came before, only setting it in a new year (1922, if I recall the super on the screen correctly). Characters who do not change, who remain the same, are really bad, two-dimensional characters. Cora Crawley hasn't changed. She's still a dimwit. Thomas hasn't changed. He's still a manipulating scuzz ball. Bates and Anna are still the moral center of Downton Abbey. But now that Thomas and Edna are set on attacking them, I'm afraid we're ready to stop watching.

We enjoyed Season 1-3 and watched them religiously. A few of them made us cry. We really got into the characters and the stories.

But something feels really off about Season 4. Or maybe something feels precisely on. Everyone is exactly the same. And if all Julian is going to do is recycle the same conflicts (usually with Thomas and his female cohort), then we've got better things to do with our time.
Comment Comments (133) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2014 10:01 AM PDT

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