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Mark Daniels RSS Feed (Albany, NY)

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Deathtrap [VHS]
Deathtrap [VHS]
Price: $7.49
35 used & new from $0.01

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More twists and turns than a roller coaster, February 10, 2003
This review is from: Deathtrap [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I first saw "Deathtrap" in the theater when it came out in 1982. When VCRs became big, it was a film that I rented a few times, eventually buying my own VHS copy. Now I own the DVD. It's a great film.
The plot can't really be discussed here without depriving first-time viewers the opportunity of experiencing all the unexpected twists and turns for themselves. And there are twists and turns aplenty!
Christopher Reeve does a great job of breaking his "Superman" stereotype in this, his first post-Superman role. Reeve plays a homosexual playwright who's just written a sure-fire hit Broadway show, and Michael Caine plays a once-successful playwright, Reeve's mentor, who'd kill to have another hit. From this inauspicious beginning, the twists start coming fast and furious, and are a delight to watch.
If you've never seen "Deathtrap" you can still safely buy it sight unseen; I guarantee you'll enjoy it. Or maybe you saw the film years ago and want to see it again. Either way, I recommend picking yourself up a copy. You won't regret it.

The Borribles
The Borribles
by Michael de Larrabeiti
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
17 used & new from $2.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally available again!!, February 6, 2003
From reading the other reviews here, I can see I'm not the only person who looks at this trilogy as a "cult favorite." It seems that the Borribles definitely have a devout following!
Good news, friends! A publisher in the UK has recently re-printed all three books, in a single volume. These stories are available again at last! Click on "United Kingdom" at the bottom of your screen, and have "The Borribles Trilogy" shipped to you from in Great Britain.

2 used & new from $267.24

3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the bass?, December 31, 2002
This review is from: Conspiracy (Audio CD)
Maybe it's just me, but I don't hear much of Chris Squire's trademark Rickenbacker-with-a-pick "lead bass" style on this CD. Like most people who own this disc, I'm a big fan of Yes (and Squire in particular). I enjoyed his 1975 solo album "Fish Out of Water" quite a bit, but this long-awaited follow-up disappoints.
His vocals are as good as ever, but all-but-gone is his stellar bass playing. Almost all of the tracks on "Conspiracy" are pop songs and/or power ballads. The one uptempo song (which is therefore my favorite), "Violet Purple Rose," contains some very good bass playing... but Billy Sherwood - who mixed the CD - didn't put that cool repeating bass figure up front, rather he buried it in the mix.
Want to know what this album sounds like before buying it? Imagine the most ballad-like songs of "Big Generator," take away Squire's Ric and give him a Fender Precision, tell him to only play the basic chord progression, and then bury his bass sound in the mix. That's "Conspiracy."
And speaking of "conspiracy," I'd like to blame Sherwood for all that's wrong with this disc; I'd hate to think that one of my bass heroes INTENTED for the CD to sound like this - devoid of his electric bass talents.

Vapor Trails
Vapor Trails
Price: $5.00
144 used & new from $0.01

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-rocking, yet "artsy.", August 27, 2002
This review is from: Vapor Trails (Audio CD)
This is easily Rush's best album in about 20 years. Frankly, I'm surprised to see so many negative reviews of VAPOR TRAILS here. After listening to the album, I naively believed this album would appeal to ALL of Rush's fans, and would unite us all in mutual appreciation for the CD (it's THAT good). But the negative reviews here prove me wrong; some fans like it, and some don't... though it's hard to find a fan who doesn't like the album on any of the Rush-themed message boards.
What buyers need to understand about this album is that it's an artistic statement, the best Rush have made in many years. Throwing aside all the keyboards and guitar solos, adding layers of vocals and guitar, Rush have taken a bold and fresh step in their progression as a band.
Somehow, the album manages to be both hard-rocking AND artsy. Listening to it on headphones now, three months after its release, I still find myself shaking my head in disbelief over the artistry I'm hearing. New subtleties are still being revealed to me - beneath the layers of guitar - after hundreds of listens.
The well-known virtuosity of the instrumentalists is still here, though their exceptional talents are utilized more in service to the SONGS than as an excuse to self-indulgently jam out. Geddy Lee has at least one moment on every track where he adds a cool bass lick or two. Lifeson's riffing guitars are layered, entering and exiting atop one another throughout every track. Peart may have lost some of his flash during the band's extended hiatus, but his drumming is still powerful and well-suited to the songs.
Peart has written his most personal and emotional lyrics EVER. Lee is at his vocal best, with vocal-layering and unusual song meters benefitting his singing performance.
The interplay among the instruments is sublime... a bit of guitar atop another guitar, the addition of a cool bass lick, the first guitar riff exits, the drumming increases in ferocity, a third layer of guitar enters, etc. Everything jelling together in an artistic way.
For the first time in many years, Rush aren't behind a trend ("Counterparts" and "Test for Echo"), resting on their past ("Presto"), or failing ("Roll the Bones"). VAPOR TRAILS is unlike anything they've done before - anything ANYONE'S done before - and it's amazing. Rush have taken a bold and unique step here, and they succeed.
I've gone on for some time now about the artistry of the disc, but make no mistake... it also ROCKS. Power riffs like those of "Earthshine" and "Secret Touch" remind us that Rush are first and foremost a HARD ROCK act. This album is more hard-rocking as a whole than any they've done since 1981. (And when I say rock, I don't mean modern rock/grunge rock like on "Counterparts" and "Test for Echo," I mean HARD ROCK.)
Buy it. You'll like it. Keep in mind that Rush are trying to push for new ground here, to take chances. Appreciate the artistry involved, both in the decision to push the music and in that decision's glorious realization.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars New Genesis, new Yes?, June 10, 2002
I downloaded this song so that I could sample this band I'd heard so much about.
I've been looking for a band that married hard rock and prog rock, a'la Rush.
I was convinced that somebody must have taken Rush's sound from "Permanent Waves" and "Moving Pictures" and ran with it. Spock's Beard was recommended to me by a fellow Rush fan, and while they don't sound like Rush exactly, they are great!
This song - "Gibberish" - sounds musically like old Genesis, and vocally like old Yes (especially in the a'cappella parts).
From this one song, I'm determined to buy the album from which it came, as well as the other four Spock's Beard studio albums. Can you ask any more from a free downloadable sample?
Maybe, like me, you're looking for a modern prog-rock band. Maybe, like me, you've tried Dream Theater but didn't like the lyrics or vocalist. Give Spock's Beard a try. The lyrics are more optimistic than Dream Theater, and the vocals (and harmony vocals) are more akin to Jon Anderson than James LaBrie.
And know that by getting into Spock's Beard, you're one in a million; not many other people know about this modern prog band.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.47
523 used & new from $0.39

152 of 177 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This may just be THE book!, November 23, 2001
Eckhart Tolle's message isn't new. His book is meant to point us toward enlightenment,
and thus his teachings aren't much different than that of Buddhism. But the way this book SPEAKS...
I've been reading "Power of Now" slooowly, over the past week and a half.
I'm nearly finished with it, and plan on starting again on page one when I'm done.
This may be the ONE book that you've been looking for... it's that good.
You can FEEL the essence of Tolle's message while you read. The book BREATHES with spiritual insight.
As you read, you just KNOW that what Tolle says is "the truth."
In reading the book, meditating, and practicing these principles in everyday life,
I've noticed in myself an increased ability to be "fully present" in the world and STAY THERE.
This is the experience I've been wanting for many years.
I've been waking up each morning in a peaceful mood...
I think, while sleeping, I've been integrating the lessons I've learned!
Be here now... it's the only place and time to be.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 18, 2012 8:11 AM PST

The Magic in Your Mind
The Magic in Your Mind
by U. S. Andersen
Edition: Paperback
69 used & new from $0.01

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I return to this one often..., November 23, 2001
This review is from: The Magic in Your Mind (Paperback)
I first bought and read this book back in the early 90s, after reading an interview with guitarist Steve Vai in MUSICIAN magazine. This is the book that started Vai on a spiritual path, and it's been a favorite of mine as well.
I've suffered from a cyclical depression for 12 years. Whenever I feel "stuck," I re-read this book.
There must be something I've forgotten, I think, or why would I allow suffering to take over?
Better go back and read "Magic in Your Mind" again!
We can have whatever we want in this life. KNOWING and BELIEVING makes it so.

Shrub : The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush
Shrub : The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush
by Molly Ivins
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.83
431 used & new from $0.01

38 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth hurts, eh Republicans?, October 25, 2001
It seems crazy, in a way, to add my 2 cents here. Reading the reviews of this book - and others like it - it's easy to discern that Democrats liked it, and Republicans did not. Not surprising. It should also come as no surprise that nobody's views will change after reading the book.
But I have something to say to this book's (Republican) detractors... did it ever occur to you that the book is FACTUAL? Debate Ivins' facts, if you can. I don't see - in any of the negative reviews for "Shrub" - ONE instance where Ivins' facts are proven false by the reviewer. Did it occur to any of the book's detractors that Ivins - who has covered Texan politics for years - might know MORE about Texan politics (and Dubya) than somebody that lives and works in, say, Wisconsin??
Prove to me, detractors, that Molly Ivins has printed lies, and that you know more about Texas politics than she. It should be quite telling that the lone review from Texas I've seen posted says that there are "no rumours or false charges here." I don't know much about Texan politics, but I assume that Ivins (and this Texan book reviewer) does, and both state that the facts found in this book are just that - FACTS. The truth hurts, eh Republicans?
George W. Bush is probably the most UNQUALIFIED person to ever become President. I say this not as a Liberal (which I am), but as an astute observer of American politics. Ironically, the Republicans had an outstanding (and qualified) candidate in John McCain but elected to nominate Dubya instead. It's ironic, too, that George Bush, Sr. was VERY qualified to become President... a war hero, Ambassador to China, Director of the CIA, Vice President for eight years, etc. His son, Dubya, drastically lacks any similar qualifications for the job. He just has the proper last name.

Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush
Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush
by Robert M. Price
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.54
45 used & new from $0.28

40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PHILOSOPHY and Peart, January 12, 2001
The Prices have written a book that I, myself, have considered writing... namely, a book interpreting the lyrics of Neil Peart (drummer/lyricist for the band Rush). Peart's song lyrics have kept me reading and researching quite a bit over the years, in an on-going attempt to dig DEEPER into the meaning of his complex songs. Today I consider myself to be, like Peart himself, a self-educated intellectual. I owe much of my intellect to the musical group Rush.
Look at the other criticisms of this book - "Rush fans can interpret the songs on their own! They don't need a book to do it for them!" Well.... yes and no. If you want to continue believing that "The Body Electric" is merely a futuristic song/story about a robot, or that "Limelight" is only about being famous... this book isn't for you. But if you want to go DEEPER into the songs' meanings, perhaps you should check out "Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush." If fans can 'interpret the songs on their own,' then why have other fans often asked me, "What is that song ABOUT??" Not ALL fans are able to grasp the 'underlying themes' of the lyrics, and only scratch the surface in their interpretations. Nothing wrong with that; there's a lot of meaning there, too. But for those who want to look still further into the water...
Check out this book. The Prices' focus is on Philosophy and Human Psychology as it relates to the vision Peart has given us, the fans of his songs. Sometimes in the text, one gets the impression that the authors have "gone too far" - perhaps they've dug deeper than even Peart himself intended! But new insights into the songs will surely be gained from reading the book, even if only as a suplement to the reader's OWN lyrical intrepretation.
I enjoyed this book, and will hang onto it as a reference source.

Rush Visions: The Official Biography
Rush Visions: The Official Biography
by Bill Banasiewicz
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from $3.79

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book a good reference source, but author too self-important., December 17, 2000
So many differing opinions regarding this book! Ah well, what's one more!
The book is ideal for the new Rush fan, and even the veterans can learn SOMETHING (particularly in early chapters regarding their beginnings). I keep the book around as a Rush reference source along with interviews they've given to the various musicians magazines. For THAT, it gets it's 3 stars.
The author, Banasiewicz, DOES write on the poor side (as has been stated below). The most obnoxious thing about the book, however, is the author's self-important insistence on placing HIMSELF in the action. We learn about the author's experiences while in (drummer) Neil Peart's home, or while flying with (guitarist) Alex Lifeson. This gets tedious...if this is the biography of Rush, why am I learning so much about 'the B-man'? Furthermore, among one of the largest fan bases ever to follow a band, why does HE get to spend PERSONAL TIME with them?? Telling us his tales of 'my day with (bassist) Geddy Lee'
only serve in making us JEALOUS of the author! Was this his intent?
Annoying, too, is reading a simple-minded fellow's interpretation of songs written by an intellectual. We get paraphrased lyrics, or an OBVIOUS interpretation of the song...not a 'plumbing of the depths.' Thus, the song 'Tom Sawyer' is about "a modern day warrior with mean, mean stride" or 'Countdown' is a song about a space shuttle launch. Thank YOU, Dr. Insight!
Still, the book comes in handy as a reference source when debating matters Rush. The book and the Rush FAQ (found on-line) are two valuable resources, together with the album liner notes, band tourbooks, and magazine interviews.
I can't speak about the B-man's 'flaming' on Rush-related BBs. I know nothing about this. If it's true, shame on you Banasiewicz! I've seen your ilk, and people like this anger me! You wouldn't do that if you were REALLY their #1 fan!
Drummer/lyricist Neil Peart is OBVIOUSLY a good writer, and has expressed interest in writing MORE. Why doesn't HE write the band's definitive biography? And why does he trust Banasiewicz to do it for him?

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