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M. Packham "Stuart" RSS Feed (Perth, Western Australia Australia)
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Monopoly Tropical Tycoon Game
Monopoly Tropical Tycoon Game
Offered by MoToSell
Price: $38.89
34 used & new from $16.29

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A distortion of the original monopoly, but fun all the same, December 23, 2007
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Monopoly 'Tropical Tycoon' ("MTT") is a DVD-driven version of the perennial original Monopoly. The object of the game is to obtain 'fortune tokens', which are amassed by accruing properties; making 'decisions' when asked to by the DVD; landing on Chance or Community Chest; and cashing in your remaining money at the end of the game. Along the way you can build 'beach houses' (houses) and 'resorts' (hotels); however, the game introduces four new buildings: the casino, the pier, the restaurant and the park. These can be built when the player owns a monopoly over a respective property group. All of them, ultimately, are there to make money (of course). They also vary in 'fortune token' value for those concerned about the end-game.

But what about the DVD, you ask? Well, the DVD introduces a number of new aspects to the game and re-invents a few of the old ones. For instance, instead of Chance and Community Chest cards being in hard-copy, one clicks the icon on the corresponding DVD icon to bring up the result. Further, new to the game is the introduction of a 'News Update', which is triggered by rolling an icon resembling a television on one of the two dice provided. These updates are nothing more than a Chance or Community Chest card in disguise, albeit prefaced with an irritating news update. Upon subsequent replays, these updates become tedious and repetitious. The result for the casino, pier, park and restaurant cards is also brought up on-screen through the DVD menu. The higher the value of your property with the expansion on it, the more you will be paid.

Against the backdrop of this panoply of expansions, you play Monopoly as per usual. Once again, the dice is king. If you are unfortunate enough not to roll well during the game, you might as well give all your money to the opposing players in advance. Without a monopoly you are powerless and in the thrall of your opponents.

This brings me to one of the more irritating aspects of the game. The expansions (restaurant, pier, casino and park) bring in a great deal more money than the beach houses or resorts. Let me illustrate. A restaurant on the yellow properties with houses either side can be built for $300. If another player lands on the restaurant, they will pay about $1,060. The amount of money a resort (i.e. a hotel in original monopoly) generates is about the same; however, it would cost upwards of $1,500 to put that resort in place. If another player built a casino on a yellow property you will probably wind up paying about $1,600. Again, the casino can be built for $300. This means that, as soon as you get a monopoly, from a very early part of the game you can take an insurmountable lead simply by building three casinos or two casinos and a restaurant, for instance. Whereas in the old monopoly you would have to spend a fair sum building up your houses in the hope of attracting a windfall, this is subverted by the introduction of these expansions. Landing on one of these will eliminate half your bank balance, leaving you hamstrung and leaving the other player able to buy up more expansions.

I do not believe that the expansions were thought through well enough. In all the games that I have played, the game has ended within an hour because the amounts that need to be paid are so enormous that it bankrupts a player if they are unlucky enough to land on it twice. This applies even to expansions built on the pink property lots. Yes, that's right - even expansions built on pink property lots will be devastating. Further, there seems to be an inordinate amount of 'pay $XX' events when you land on Chance or Community Chest. I do not remember there being so many in regular monopoly. It got to the point where I was laughing with my friends that Chance should be called 'Pay'.

I can see that the intention behind the game was to introduce a new element into Monopoly. MTT succeeds in doing this; however, the new elements were not properly considered. What could once be a game of give and take - a game of struggle and gradual success - has been rendered an arbitrary exercise in tedium. Further, for those kids out there, I can think of nothing more cruel than a child landing on a casino and being forced to pay $1,500 in the first few turns of the game. This, I imagine, would result in the waterworks commencing and the game being shelved for an indefinite period of time.

Stick to the original monopoly.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2009 5:33 AM PST


The Moral Rights of Authors and Performers: An International and Comparative Analysis
The Moral Rights of Authors and Performers: An International and Comparative Analysis
by Elizabeth Adeney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $443.84
21 used & new from $74.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most comprehensive treatise on moral rights in the world, December 2, 2007
There is a paucity of commentary on moral rights, an often complicated and nebulous area of law lacking international consistency. The only other recent publication (to this author's knowledge) is Maree Sainsbury's book on moral rights. Sainsbury's book, however, concerns only the application of moral rights in Australia. There has yet to be a comprehensive treatise on the global state of moral rights law.

Adeney's book features the following:

1) A very detailed history of moral rights law and an overview of the international state of the law.

This allows one to understand the origin and purpose behind moral rights, and where, as species of personal right, they fit within the proprietary system of intellectual property law. Further, the numerous international instruments such as the WIPO Internet Treaties and the Berne Convention are exhaustively discussed.

2) Full details of the moral rights laws in Germany, France, the US, the UK, Australia and Canada.

It is clearly apparent that between each of these jurisdictions there exists a massive dichotomy between the 'levels' of moral rights protection. Adeney canvasses every single aspect of the laws of these countries and covers a great deal of primary source material. There is a massive amount of translated foreign material which, I'm sure, Adeney would have had to have physically retrieved in each of the respective jurisdictions. Her chapters on each of these jurisdictions is exhaustive, accurate and thoroughly researched. This book is really ALL you would need to get up to speed on the state of moral rights law in any of these jurisdictions (barring, of course, further legislative or judicial development).

3) A 100-page table summarising the moral rights laws in the rest of the world.

This is particularly handy given it is very time consuming and frequently difficult to examine the copyright statutes of every country in the world (via the WIPO website). For those engaging in comparative analysis, as one would probably need to do in any discussion of moral rights given its nascent stage of development in the common law world, this is an invaluable tool.

4) Extensive use of headings, sub-headings, footnotes and a detailed index.

The formatting of Adeney's book is impeccable. It is well presented in hardback, it looks great, it reads well and is thoroughly indexed. Each chapter features a detailed table of contents so you can find what you need to know quickly and without fuss.

TO CONCLUDE, this is an invaluable addition to any intellectual property lawyer's bookshelf. The sheer scope and incredible depth of research truly make it stand alone as a research tool concerning moral rights. Sure, it is an expensive book; however, you really shouldn't need to buy anything else concerning moral rights if you have this publication. The rest you should be able to find online on Westlaw, HeinOnline or LexisNexis.


Strangers with Candy - The Complete Series
Strangers with Candy - The Complete Series
DVD ~ Amy Sedaris
Price: $35.85
34 used & new from $24.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, weird and immensely rewatchable, December 2, 2007
Having never seen SWC before, I ordered this complete series box-set not knowing exactly what to expect. I'd heard great things about it. Suffice to say, I was bowled over by how funny the show is and how excellent the performances are in it. Amy Sedaris has crafted an hilarious character in Jerri Blank, a 46-year-old high school freshman. Jerri Blank seems to be everything at once: streetwise yet innocent; lusting after boys one day and girls the next; possibly a man; an F-student but a violin virtuoso. The list goes on. Further, her old age is not mentioned once in the show as being somewhat out of the ordinary, nor does her frequently bizarre behaviour attract untoward attention. SWC really seems to exist in a parallel universe where anything can (and often does) happen. For this reason it is truly a unique and gleefully bizarre show.

There are some episodes which are truly laugh-out-loud hilarious. The funniest involve Jellineck (Paul Dinello), Noblett (Stephen Colbert) and Principal Blackman (Greg Hollimon). These three characters rarely have a line which isn't comedy gold. The episodes which feature only Jerri Blank are still funny, especially because Amy Sedaris is so brilliant in her role, but without the supporting characters the show can, at times, become a little boring. This is the case for the first four episodes of season two, which don't feature Jellineck or Noblett at all.

As for DVD features, I would take issue with the comments about the flimsy packaging. Granted, it is not an architectural triumph; however, I haven't had any problems with it, all the DVDs stay in place and nothing has fallen apart. The extras on the DVDs aren't that plentiful but they are worth watching, especially the PSA short 'The Road Back' featuring a real-life 'boozer and loser' woman who tours schools and basically yells at students with horror stories of her years spent as an addict. Clearly this film served as the inspiration behind Jerri Blank, so for SWC die-hards it is worth watching for that reason alone. There's also some commentaries which are insightful and funny.

Ultimately, I thought this was great value. You get plenty of laughs for $50 and I will certainly be re-watching it again, given there's so many lines which I am sure have slipped past me watching it the first time. If you like your comedy on the bizarre (and often rude) side, this is for you.


No Title Available

1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment from the great David Milch, September 12, 2007
'John from Cincinnati' is one of the more disappointing entries into the HBO canon. It boasts a strong pedigree in the form of Atom Egoyan veteran Bruce Greenwood, excellent character actor Luis Guzman, and, of course, the brilliant David Milch. Being a long-time HBO devotee, I was perhaps more prepared than most to give this show the benefit of the doubt. I watched all 10 episodes in quick succession, kept up with all the plot points (as much as I could fathom what they meant), but still, I was left dissatisfied. I attribute my dislike of the show to the following:

1) Thoroughly unpleasant leading characters. All of the main characters in John from Cincinnati seem to be, without exception, perpetually angry. I could care less about their continual swearing; however, there was only so many pointless temper tantrums I could stomach from Rebecca de Mornay. Her shrill, unrelentingly vicious character simply made every scene with her in it an unremitting bore.

2) No discernible plot. There are many interpretations of just who (or what) exactly John from Cincinatti is. Is he an angel? Does he actually exist? Who knows. In any case, he comes to the Yost family and turns their lives upside-down. Weird stuff starts to happen when John arrives, like Mitch Yost levitating off the ground. The strange thing though is that all the weird stuff kind of stops after episode four. From eps 5-9, John simply goes around spouting incoherent solecisms like 'Shaun will soon be gone'. Meanwhile, we're left dealing with the domestic problems of characters we don't like. I would have liked more of an element of the fantastical throughout the program, or at least more of an insight into the purpose behind John's visit. I understand that the show was canceled after one season; however, this still does not excuse no explanation whatsoever for his arrival.

3) Boredom. If you don't like the leading characters, and you don't know what's going on, it is safe to say that impetus will be lacking for reasons to watch. This show actually was quite intriguing and compelling in the first four episodes; however, from episodes 5-10 it slowed down tremendously. The much vaunted 'Shaun will soon be gone' plot, which we hear about from episodes 6-8, turns out to be a completely pointless exercise considering that once he's gone he returns the next episode. Asked where he went, he answers "I don't know". Hmmm.

It would be unfair of me to simply note the parts I didn't like. Where John from Cincinnati does excel is in its host of supporting actors. Ed O'Neill is particularly compelling as a retired policeman. His character is the most entertaining part of the show. Similarly, Luis Guzman plays his hotel-caretaker role with gentle grace. The child actor who plays Shaun Yost is also outstanding.

Ultimately though, John from Cincinnati was, for me, a disappointment. I was stunned that the same mind who brought us the superlative 'Deadwood' brought us this exercise in tedium. It has its good points, yes; however, its negative aspects far outweigh them. I would recommend, before tackling John from Cincinnati, the other selections in the dramatic HBO oeuvre, such as Six Feet Under or Deadwood.


Randy Newman Anthology, Vol. 2 (Music for Film, Television and Theater)
Randy Newman Anthology, Vol. 2 (Music for Film, Television and Theater)
by Randy Newman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.71
37 used & new from $11.50

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but full of tracks that are difficult to find, May 10, 2007
This second volume of Randy Newman sheet music is of the same high quality that Volume One was. The transcriptions are accurate and each song is detailed in the key it was recorded in. There are some excellent selections in this book, including 'Laugh and Be Happy', 'My Life is Good', 'Make Up Your Mind', 'The Ballad of the Three Amigos' and the two instrumental tracks from 'Avalon' and 'Awakenings'.

Perhaps the only 'problem', if you can call it that, is that the selections are mainly from particular movie soundtracks. I am a huge fan of Randy's songwriting and have all of his albums (including the box-set 'Guilty', which does have some of the film scores reproduced on Volume 2); however, I have not tracked down the soundtracks from 'Monsters Inc', 'Toy Story' and 'James and Giant Peach', for example. Further, the theatre piece 'The Education of Randy Newman' is, to the best of my knowledge, not available for public release. There is a song in the Volume 2 anthology called 'Stupid Little Songs' which is from that theatrical piece; however, given its unavailability, we really have no idea (apart from the how the music reads on the page) how Randy sings it or how it should go. Therefore, half of the music in this book is kind of inaccessible, in a sense of the word. You will need to be diligent to hunt down the other tracks that are not as easily accessible should you wish to play the music in Volume 2 as confidently and assuredly as you would with the music in Volume 1.

Nevertheless, it's Randy, and he writes well. I love his music and any addition to his sheet music ouevre is welcomed with open arms.


Stand in the Fire
Stand in the Fire
Price: $12.95
48 used & new from $4.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wildest we hear of Warren on any of his albums, May 10, 2007
This review is from: Stand in the Fire (Audio CD)
This is an absolutely essential addition to any Warren Zevon collection. Carl Hiaasen says in the liner notes notes that one of the biggest crimes of modern music is the suppression of 'Stand in the Fire' from re-issue. I totally agree. I'd been searching for this for a long time and now here it is, remastered and expanded with four bonus tracks (the last four on the album).

I had heard often that Warren Zevon lived like Jim Morrison (except longer, as Zevon has said). In the booklet for the anthology 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead', Richard Gere observes 'I saw him drink vodka from a steel boot'. Apparently there are entire tours Zevon cannot recollect. For those who came to Zevon later, like myself (I think it was about 2002), that 'wild man' underbelly of Zevon was, prior to the release of this album, something of an abstraction.

On 'Stand in the Fire' we finally get a dose of that crazy Warren Zevon we've heard so much about. Zevon is pure entertainment on stage. Often he rumbles out a primal scream like on Werewolves of London, where he bellows "you better stay away from him! He'll rip your lungs out Jim! And he's looking for James Taylor!" Other reviewers have mentioned his howling command to long time best friend, to whom he screams "get up here and dance! Get up and dance or I'll kill you! And I've got the means!"

This album truly gives an insight into the wild-man personality of Warren Zevon. I am yet to purchase Crystal Zevon's book about the late great man, but I will certainly be getting it soon. He is a testament to rock and roll. A true statesman and entertainer. Jackson Browne notes that once Warren Zevon told him, "if you're not entertaining, you're not doing anything".


Billy Joel - Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano, Op. 1-10
Billy Joel - Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano, Op. 1-10
by Billy Joel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.61
43 used & new from $6.50

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something different and challenging at the piano, December 23, 2006
This collection of music from Billy Joel is indeed, as other reviewers have noted, quite difficult. It is not recommended for a player of less than an intermediate grade. There is a short 'Invention' which is a two voice work reminiscent of Bach or Handel. This particular work would be suitable for a player of moderate skill level.

Most of the music is evocative of Chopin, insofar as there is a number of waltzes, each with rapid flourishes and minor modulations. Joel also veers into French impressionist territory occasionally, using minor-9th chords and tonality that recalls Debussy or Satie. His left hand passages are like something out of a Brahms intermezzo: difficult, arpeggiated and often unstructured, occasionally virtuosic. Given some of the more difficult pieces (if you want to tackle them), listening to the recording would probably help.

The most entertaining pieces to play are two of the easier pieces, though they are by no means easy to master. The last piece - an Irish 'Air' - is a beautiful four-page jaunt that requires a dextrous wrist and a sense of playfulness. Also fun, but perhaps too long, is 'Nunley's Carousel', which should be played so as to mirror a Carousel that starts slowly and builds to a crescendo. This piece is unfortunately marred by one too many minor variations; nevertheless, the chord-heavy finale is fun to punch out.

This is a book worth purchasing for those who enjoy classical music and who also enjoy the works of Billy Joel. These are not simple pieces; indeed, Joel himself is apparently unable to play them to the standard he desires. That's why world-famous pianist Richard Joo plays them on the recording. It may also be why Mr Joo has arranged the pieces. As to what the word 'arranged' means in the context of this song cycle, it is not clear.

A starting point would be to buy the recording. If you like that, buy the book.


The Wire: Season 2
The Wire: Season 2
DVD ~ Dominic West
Price: $19.99
28 used & new from $11.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably good television - a rare treat., September 8, 2006
This review is from: The Wire: Season 2 (DVD)
'The Wire' is truly a unique show and one that should be savoured upon first viewing. I commend the Amazon reviewer (above) on his synopsis of the show and nothing more need be added in terms of plot detail or character explanation. He sums it up very well.

The best parts of this show, I think, are as follows:

1) Nothing comes easy. Unlike an episode of CSI or Law & Order, which wrap up in 40 minutes, it takes an entire series of The Wire to reach a conclusion.

2) Shades within characters. Whether the characters are good or bad, in 'The Wire', we see all sides. The 'bad guys' have their redeeming features; the 'good guys' show stunning flaws.

3) Brilliant, tight writing. An enormous cast is expertly choreographed in a sprawling plot that, admittedly, does take six episodes to really 'take off'. For patient and intelligent viewers though, this is part of the fun.

4) Nothing is 'sensational'. There's nothing that 'solves' the case immediately; there's no slow-mo meaningful shots to emotional music (ala Cold Case); no musical score emphasises the tense or dramatic moments; and there is nothing at all gratuitous about any drug use, coarse language or violence. Everything is realistic, right down to the occasionally indecipherable language of the tenement blocks or the shipping talk of the stevedores.

I think these are the strong points of the show. There's many more, but these are what come to mind for me.

The only unfortunate thing is that 'The Wire' is really only a 'once only' watch. It doesn't quite have the humour or replay value of The Sopranos or Deadwood. But don't let this put you off. That said, it would be a crime to watch 'The Wire' casually, without taking time to absorb every plot detail. Spoiling it on a first viewing would really take away from the brilliance of this show.


Steely Dan -- Complete: Piano/Vocal/Chords
Steely Dan -- Complete: Piano/Vocal/Chords
by Steely Dan
Edition: Sheet music
9 used & new from $25.94

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The complete library - a must buy for Dan fans, May 2, 2006
This contains every single song through to Gaucho that Steely Dan made. It is true that, like every other songbook, this is dumbed down a bit. There are three responses I would make.

1) For those who are experienced players the simplified chords really should be a blessing. A seventh chord can turn into a 13th; a raised fifth could be transformed into an altered chord, etc. Use the music simply as a guide, like you would in a fake-book.

2) For those who are less experienced, the simplified chords and melody lines should be rewarding. As far as them being 'simplified' is concerned though (as some have said below), that's not really quite accurate. I find it hard to ascertain exactly what could be less complicated than a G7+5+9 (i.e. an altered chord) as every note in an altered chord is exactly that - altered.

3) As for some transcriptions being 'wrong', that is really not so. The music is all correct - the progressions, the positions on the scale, all of that. So if you want to modulate to a different key just retain the scale positions. Also, I would say to the assertion the music is 'wrong' that musicians need to play in all keys, and frequently do. I play jazz semi-professionally and being able to modulate or play music in different keys is an extremely important skill (and also makes for more interesting music).

This book contains all of the Dan's songs. They're excellent songs too, obviously. The lyrics are, for the most part, included in the actual staves (rather than having two or three verses crammed into the end of the song), so you can sing along as you play.


Deadwood: Season 2
Deadwood: Season 2
DVD ~ Timothy Olyphant
Price: $19.96
15 used & new from $15.95

113 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first series, March 9, 2006
This review is from: Deadwood: Season 2 (DVD)
Deadwood is perhaps the best show HBO has made, and that's saying something. There is no other TV show, barring perhaps 'The Wire', which is written with such a keen ear for dialogue and with such fleshed out characters. Season 2 is just as good, if not better, than the first series. It moves with slightly more pace and some of the more interesting characters, such as Cy Tolliver and Alma Garrett, are explored in greater depth. Tolliver - played by the incredible Powers Boothe - truly becomes a force to be reckoned with in this second series. The powerplays between him and Al Swearengen make for some of the most interesting television one could hope to see.

Among other things, we see in season two the return of Bullock's wife and son; the softer side of Al Swearengen; a sadistic geologist with a keen eye for gold; and blood-letting between Mr. Wu and a chinese rival from San Francisco. Throughout, we are treated to a healthy dose of Deadwood's trademark violence and profanity, the latter of which rolls of the tongue with surprising eloquence. Swearengen makes certain curse words sound as if they are as natural as 'if', 'and' or 'but'.

Ultimately, the most outstanding features of this series are the following:

1) Al Swearengen - again, as in the first series, Ian McShane is amazing.

2) Cy Tolliver - Powers Boothe devours every scene he's in.

3) Seth Bullock - Timothy Olyphant's sheriff walks the streets of Deadwood like a cauldron about to teem with furious anger. The addition of his wife and son, and his illicit affair with Alma Garrett, add further tension.

Pick up series two when it comes out. Strangely, it's already out here in Australia!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2007 6:41 AM PDT


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