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Mark Pollock "educator" RSS Feed (Davis, CA United States)

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The Annotated Hobbit
The Annotated Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.73
104 used & new from $6.44

495 of 528 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really, the best way to read The Hobbit, February 20, 2003
This review is from: The Annotated Hobbit (Hardcover)
Okay, so I say that this is the best way to read The Hobbit. And I am dead serious.
I know that annotated books can be difficult to navigate, filled with useless, pointless, or just plain boring information, and can be grossly oversized. That is not the case here.
So - here's the scoop.
The original story is very nicely presented, with all original illustrations in color when possible, and in black and white elsewhere. The type is nice and clear, very easy to read. (Many cheaper editions are also rather hard on the eyes. Check the print before you buy, folks!)
The illustrations are printed very clearly, and with very good notes on what they are.
And then the annotations - useful, engaging, and very well done. You will WANT to read these. We discover how the book was written, and what was changed between editions. (There were many changes made so that The Hobbit would conform more easily to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.) There are fascinating tidbits about Tolkien's life and the experiences that made their way into the story.
The forward tells about the writing of the novel, and the appedices give additional details about the text.
There are also many illustrations from other editions of the book. These are varied, from thought-provoking to not-provoking.
And the book is not too big. Some editions are simply too big to be read, but this book is reasonably sized so that you can actually READ IT! In fact, I have not read any other edition of The Hobbit for years, since the original annotated version came out.
The new edition is very much worthwhile. Enjoy!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 26, 2015 5:11 PM PDT

Meet the Feebles
Meet the Feebles
DVD ~ Danny Mulheron
Offered by Amazing Savings USA
Price: $29.85
24 used & new from $3.94

8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst DVD ever?, January 13, 2003
This review is from: Meet the Feebles (DVD)
Don't let the packaging fool you - this is simply the worst-produced dvd I have ever seen. (And I'm not speaking of the content of the movie - that's being saved for later.)
This dvd is clearly encoded from a very inferior source - it's also pan and scan, which stinks. The sound is muddied and very difficult to listen to, obscuring much of the dialogue. The print of the film was obviously a release print, with many scratches and missing frames. The transfer is very dark and muddy, oscuring many of the scenes and making it difficult to watch.
On top of all this, it appears that this may be taken from a vhs release of the film! And, there are encoding errors on the dvd, so that it gets stuck, or digital fragments appear.
That is what may make this the worst dvd ever. The quality of the tranfer and encoding is nowhere near good vhs standards, much less good dvd standards.
And then there is the film itself. This is one of those impossible to rate films, because many people will watch it and go "Yuck! This isn't a film, it's garbage!", while others, who enjoy the sicker things in life, with say "Cool!"
So, here's how you decide which category you are in:
If you enjoy watching puppets curse, vomit, defecate, urinate, fornicate, come down with venereal disease, do drug deals, do drugs, and shoot each other up with machine guns, then this film is right up your alley. It is NOT a children's film, that's for sure.
If you don't enjoy these things, then simply don't watch this film. You won't find any of the things that you enjoy about Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" films here. Absolutely nothing, except perhaps some careful planning.
And nobody, but nobody should support a company such as this, who releases rip-off dvds of such poor quality. I intend to try and get a refund for my copy.

The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection
The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection
DVD ~ Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle
9 used & new from $59.97

91 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection - but the best?, January 1, 2003
This is a very nicely done collection of the Buster Keaton - Fatty Arbuckle Comique comedies made between 1917-1919. The collection contains almost all of their existing comedies, with the exception of "The Cook" which was recently discovered.
The presentation is very well done, although there appears to be no "View All" option, so you must go to each comedy seperately. A minor problem, to be sure.
The films often come from different copies than the 2 disc Kino collection of most of these films. "The Butcher Boy" looks about the same, as does "The Rough House". "His Wedding Night" and "Oh Doctor!" are both new to this collection, and look pretty good, although they don't have a lot of Keaton in them. "Coney Island" is slightly improved, and "Out West" is from a MUCH better copy that ever seen before, more complete, much better condition - but with some splices that could have been fixed by editing in footage from the other version. Why wasn't this done?
"The Bell Boy" is exactly the same as on Kino, but "Moonshine" is very different. There are two existing copies of this film - one is a complete copy on 16mm with very poor contrast and lots of missing detail, the other a very fragmentary but high-quality version on 35mm. This set features the 35mm version, the Kino set the 16mm. Once again, why weren't these two edited together? The 16mm could use the quality improvement, and the 35mm just doesn't make sense and is really missing most of the good parts, not to mention the poorly done titles.
On Disc 2, "Good Night, Nurse", "Back Stage", "The Hayseed", and "The Garage" are all in fine condition.
Picture wise, this set is very well encoded, without much artifacting at all.
Musically, the accompaniment is very nicely done. The Kino set suffered from some very bizarre accompaniment by the "Alloy Orchestra", which really detracted from the material and tends to annoy people who are trying to do other things in the room.
The best part of this set, really, is the price, much less expensive than the Kino discs, and with more material. But really, if you are a fan, you need both, don't you? :)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2013 6:55 PM PST

Charlie Chaplin Marathon
Charlie Chaplin Marathon
DVD ~ Charles Chaplin
16 used & new from $2.21

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as bad as expected, December 26, 2002
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin Marathon (DVD)
First of all, this review is for the Laserlight dvd "Charlie Chaplin Marathon", which has different content from other dvds that this review may appear on.
What we have is is three readily available Chaplin short films, and the feature "Tillie's Punctured Romance".
The three short films, "The Immigrant", "The Rink", and "The Vagabond", are three of Chaplin's best from the Mutual Films period, 1916-1917. In this edition, the films are presented in copies from the Blackhawk collection, with the 1930's era Van Buren soundtracks added on. The picture quality is surprisingly good for a budget dvd, the soundtracks are as horrible as they have always been, and the films are not as restored as the copies on the Image "Chaplin Mutual Films" collection. This makes the dvd not a bad starting place for the Chaplin novice.
However, the copy of "Tillie's Punctured Romance" is a horror, a very bad print, missing many shots and scenes, with a narrator droning endlessly on to try and make sense of this choppy film. It is an abomination, and it saddens me to think that people might be buying this instead of the Image dvd of the film. The Image dvd is fully restored, and looks and sounds a good as possible.
The verdict - this disc may pass for someone who isn't that interested in Chaplin, but it is not for the discerning fan. There are many discs to recommend instead of it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2010 8:41 PM PST

In Like Flint
In Like Flint
DVD ~ James Coburn
Offered by treasurehunter55
Price: $8.69
77 used & new from $1.84

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A piece of bubblegum film, long lasting fun., December 22, 2002
This review is from: In Like Flint (DVD)
This is the ultimate 60's spy movie spoof, capturing the total madcap, surreal, death-defying, and chauvinist ways of a spy in a 60's movie. Of course, having been made in 1967, what else could you expect?
James Coburn is Derek Flint, the most skilled, diverse, cultured, bon vivant spy ever. He can do anything, such as engineering, kung fu, desert hiking, and performing ballet in Russia.
The style of this widescreen epic is amazing. The special effects are very well done for the time, and are even now hard to detect. Flint is every inch a chauvinist pig, so if you want to see women kicking [rear], this is not the film for you, as Flint has three women who serve his every need and are basically helpless without him.
If you are a fan of the Austin Powers movies, then you may well be in familier territory here.
This film has a ton of tongue in cheek humor, and is a very enjoyable watch.
The DVD also features several trailers, and is very well done for a no-frills package. The transfer is gorgeous, and the compression of the video signal is top-notch. The sound is in it's original glorious mono, and we get to hear that super-catchy Flint theme over and over again in it's various incarnations.
I heartily recommend this for lovers of Bond and Powers.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Four-Disc Special Extended Edition)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Four-Disc Special Extended Edition)
DVD ~ Elijah Wood
Price: $75.47
34 used & new from $14.12

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful presentation, December 22, 2002
If you are even slightly interested in this set, then I assume that you have already seen this movie.
So, we have an extended version of the film with four commentaries, and a 6 hours long pile of documentaries. Wow.
First - the film. The extended version of the film. It's quite good. The new bits are nice - not essential, but nice. The gifting of the fellowship is perhaps the most significant scene here, quite nice. The commentaries are very good - this is a well-spoken group of people, and the producers of the commentary did a lot of judicious editing to keep the commentary from being just another rambling bunch of people telling each other things that only mildly interest the audience. I figure I'll finish watching the film with each commentary by the time the next deluxe set come out.
The documentaries - wow. These are very well done, very interesting, not repetative as might be expected. Once again, they are quite good, and really worth your time to watch. The documentary on scale was particularly good. Once again, there is not much fluff here, the interviews are well edited and thoughtfully put together.
The image quality is nice and charp throughout the whole set, and the sound quality is, of course, fantastic.
My only complaint, and I will always complain about this, is the still picture galleries. Unless you have a giant tv with fantastic resolution, you just can't see the details of these pictures. You can't zoom in or pan around the pictures, you just have to look at them and wonder what kind of detail would be available to see if you could just zoom in. It's not a big problem, but it's a pet peeve of mine in many dvds out there.

Taylor Professional Digital Timer/Stopwatch Clock
Taylor Professional Digital Timer/Stopwatch Clock

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a timer., December 22, 2002
You hit the buttons, and after a while, it beeps to let you know that your time is up. It displays the time. It goes up. It goes down. It beeps. It does what a timer should do. The beep is nice and loud, and the numbers are easily read. What more can I say about a TIMER, for crying out loud?!??
It works. Get it on sale, and you will have a less expensive timer.

Chaplin's Essanay Comedies, Vol. 01
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies, Vol. 01
DVD ~ Charlie Chaplin
6 used & new from $39.00

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another nicely restored set of Chaplin films!, December 22, 2002
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Okay, this review is for the Image dvd of the Chaplin Essanay Comedies, Volume 1. If this review appears on any other product, with the exception of a Kino product, then know that this review has NOTHING to do with whatever you are looking at. If you are looking at Madacy or Koch videos, then just go away now, and look for a good video, because Madacy and Koch videos of Chaplin are garbage.
I give this five stars, because the restoration, music, and presentation are awesome. The films are the most complete they have been in over 80 years, and are mastered from the best available materials. David Shepherd worked on these for a decade or so, and some of the films come from as many as five different sources. This can be a little odd sometimes, as the picture will change in quality and framing every so often, which is a bit of a jumpy sensation, but it's either that or just miss the footage altogether.
As far as the films go - well, this is not Chaplin's best work. "His New Job", "A Night Out", and "In the Park" are slight, derivative, and not terribly interesting. "A Jitney Elopement" is fascinating for the fact that Chaplin relies on a lot of tracking and racing shots for the chase, which all happens in cars. "The Champion" is a very good film, and is the best of this lot.
Chaplin made better films than these for Essanay, which can especially be seen on Disc 2 of the series.
This is NOT a good disc for the person who is just getting interested in Chaplin or silent films. You would be better of with the later features, such as City Lights, The Kid, The Gold Rush, or The Circus, which should all be reissued in 2003 in gorgeous quality - I can't wait!
But if you are acquainted with Chaplin, and have read a good book or two about his career and development, then this is a fine dvd to get.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
DVD ~ Peter Weller
Offered by Greta's Store
Price: $39.15
57 used & new from $4.58

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a good quality edition!, December 22, 2002
For years, viewer after viewer was turned off from this film because of the terrible quality vhs tape edition, which, frankly, was an abomination.
This is better. MUCH better.
The sound is crystal clear. The image is almost spotless, with just a bit of grain and dust. (The grain is the inevitable by-product of somewhat low-budget special effects.)
There are many extras, documentaries, bonus footage, cut scenes, and some nice commentary. There is also the typical photo archive, which someday someone will figure out is the worst part of any dvd, since the resolution is nowhere near enough to really enjoy the pictures.
As far as the movie itself goes - well, it's really wierd, often funny, sometimes confusing. This is not a movie for people who have to ask lots of questions to whomever they are watching the movie with, in order to clarify what's going on. This is a movie for people who are content to sit, relax, and watch, and trust that things will eventually make sense, or at least that they will be entertained.

Brainwashed (Special Edition with Bonus DVD)
Brainwashed (Special Edition with Bonus DVD)
47 used & new from $2.83

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George's Last Word is Worthwhile, November 20, 2002
George Harrison's solo work was sporadic, both in it's frequency and quality, ranging from the awesome "All Things Must Pass" to the pretty good "Cloud Nine" to the dismal "Gone Troppo". It makes it a bit of a gamble buying any album he recorded, and one has to worry even more when the album was completed posthumously, by his son and his close friend. One worries even more when that friend is Jeff Lynne, whose recording history has tended to showcase very heavy handed production techniques.
All these worries are unfounded. The album is a joy, the last statement by a man who had found an inner peace and happiness. One might expect to be listening to this album within the context of Harrison's recent death, but in fact, that context falls away with the sheer pleasure of listening to the material here.
"Any Road" is a wonderfully relaxed song, turning a spritiual journey into a pleasurable jaunt. "Brainwashed", the title song, is actually perhaps the least of the songs here, though still pretty good - it's just that Harrison wasn't a great song-yeller in his later years, and it shows on this track.
It goes on, and is just fantastic.
The bonus dvd is a 7 minutes making of video that is scant on details, rich on observations of the man at work. It has been available on the net for some time, and is not critical to the package. Nor are the sticker, poster, or guitar pick. Frankly, the standard issue of this album should more than be adequate for most people.

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