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R. Becker "rob" RSS Feed (Ross, CA United States)

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Facing Codependence
Facing Codependence
by Pia Mellody
Edition: Audio Cassette

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - highly recommended!, October 27, 2012
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The problem with virtually every other book on Codependence is that the description of symptoms is so vague as to be of little use. Here, Ms. Mellody not only describes the key symptoms, but she breaks them down in such a clear orderly way that it finally makes Codependency easy to understand - and she shows how these patterns can get started, which is very valuable to the person trying to recover. One of the first things you need to do is to figure out the issues in your family of origin. Yes, dysfunctional parenting plays a part, but saying that dysfunctional coping mechanisms are usually learned in childhood as a result of flawed parenting is hardly parent bashing. People who are trying to recover need to understand not just gross negligence and obvious abuse, but all of the subtle ways they may have been wounded from even the best intentioned parents. The book is in no way about blaming. It is about understanding your issues and then taking responsibility for your own recovery. Once you've read the book and understand the cause of your suffering, there are several options for recovery and Ms. Mellody does recommend 12 Step programs, which are comprehensive, low cost, non-profit and have no connection with Ms. Mellody. Her book can provide very good support material for someone who is working a 12 step program or just thinking about it. Highly recommended!

New York in the Fifties
New York in the Fifties
DVD ~ Ted Steeg
Price: $20.68
22 used & new from $10.96

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New York Mythology, March 31, 2010
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This review is from: New York in the Fifties (DVD)
I have enjoyed some of First Run Features' other documentaries and I am really interested in this particular time period and its effect on cultural history so I was really looking forward to this one. This film was dominated by a parade of actors, writers, poets, and film makers telling the exact same story with very little elaboration. The story is one we've heard so many times that for me, it has become a little tiresome. The story always goes that somebody felt stifled in middle America and had to come to New York in order to flourish in the practice of their particular art. This particular narrative is not exactly unique to the 50's and in my opinion, without a whole lot of context, is not a very interesting or convincing story. Logically, if one is a stage actor, for example, it will be easier to flourish in New York no matter the time period. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of writers and poets who were able to both practice their art and succeed without having to move to New York and in my opinion a reasonable argument might be made that it can actually be more revolutionary to go against the grain rather than to move to New York where one can be sure to fit in with others of a like-mind. There is also a thread of narrative that suggests heterosexual New Yorkers of the fifties were either thinking about, pursuing, or having more sex than the rest of America. If so, again, it would take a lot of context to make such a narrative interesting. What I was really curious about were the references in the promotional materials to the Beat Generation, Jazz, performance, and art. We get very brief glimpses that are no more fleshed out than what you read in the promotional materials. This would have been extremely fertile ground, but this documentary does not delve into any of these subjects in any substantial way. Also, it must be mentioned that, in reality, Lenny Bruce was arrested in New York on obscenity charges as late as 1964 and New York police were still raiding gay bars as late as the Stonewall riot of 1969, so in some ways, New York was as backward as any other burgh in the U.S. This kind of balance would not fit neatly into this particular New York mythology. Prior to the invention of the pill in 1959, I doubt 50's era heterosexual New Yorkers were having more sex per capita, but if they were, one might expect to see some evidence like higher rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It seems to me that rather than hammer one particular kind of story over and over, the film makers might have taken some of that time to explore what was happening in the world of art, jazz, the Beat Generation and performance in New York. In my opinion, it would have placed the other interviews in a context that would have made them more interesting and relevant.

Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. "The Hippies"
Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. "The Hippies"
DVD ~ Lewis Yablonsky
Price: $10.00
3 used & new from $10.00

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Theater of the absurd, March 31, 2010
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In this episode, you have Ed Sanders and Lewis Yablonski giving intelligent and insightful answers while -- and this is no joke -- Jack Kerouac, who died from alcoholism a short time later, seems to be suffering from delirium tremens. Kerouac struggles mightily to compose a lucid moment or two, but much of the time, he is trembling, making spastic movements and interrupting with comments that are complete non sequiturs. What's amazing is how Buckley manages to orchestrate the proceedings. He almost seems to relish the challenge of incorporating the wayward Kerouac in the presentation. It is bizarre, something rarely seen on TV, borders on absurdist comedy, but will be sad for fans of the man to see a bloated Kerouac, face ravaged from alcohol abuse, in the final throws of his struggle.

The Castro - Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco
The Castro - Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco
DVD ~ None (Documentary)
Price: $25.00
5 used & new from $13.37

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Documentary, March 31, 2010
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Wonderful documentary that uses the history of a San Francisco neighborhood to tell a very deep story about not only San Francisco & the gay rights movement, but in the end it is really an insightful way to tell a moving story about human history. Highly recommended!

DVD ~ Albiera Antinori
Offered by kylakins
Price: $19.99
33 used & new from $4.75

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sour grapes?, March 3, 2010
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This review is from: Mondovino (DVD)
This documentary seems to be aimed at confusing and provoking the viewer into a certain emotional reaction. But, in my opinion, only someone who is a newbie to the world of fine wine would fall for these techniques and I doubt that many people of casual interest in wine would be drawn to watch this documentary. I've been a wine collector for the past twenty years and I am as concerned about these issues as the film maker, but I don't think anyone is served by such a confused and simplistic approach. For example, I too believe that Robert Parker's influence in the business of fine wine collecting is of great concern. However, the film maker hammers a few issues over and over again while failing to delve into many others, some of which would tend to mitigate in Parker's favor. Why not give the man a fair trial?

For example, Parker does seem to like wines of great concentration that have been aged in French oak barrels and anyone following his reviews needs to be aware of this. However, Parker has also exerted great influence over wine makers to stop fining and filtering their wines. He's pushed for organic and biodynamic vineyard practices and for low yields based on more rigorous grape selection at harvest, which also tends to lower profits. He rewards single-vineyard estate bottling and has championed lesser known varietals like the type that go into Chateauneuf Du Pape. One of his favorite wines from that region, based on his reviews, is made by Domaine Pegau, which fits into his paradigm of low yields and non-filtering, but this wine maker tends to age his wine in traditional old wooden foudres, not small French oak barrels. This all runs counter to the main theme of the film because these things tend to help reveal a wine's varietal and regional character as well as its terroir.

Further, you can watch the entire documentary without finding out that Parker does not write for a magazine and does not run any advertising in his newsletter. Further, before Parker began reviewing wine, the wines of Bordeaux were being sold based on the prestige of the brand names and ancient classifications that no longer had any relevance. Parker took on this out-dated and elitist system by reviewing the wines of Bordeaux with no concern for reputation or classification and the result was often that a wine of lower classification and significantly lower price achieved a score that was higher than the big-dollar, big-named wines coasting on age old reputation and out-dated classification.

What about the hundreds of family owned vineyards and artisanal wine makers who tend small parcels resulting in limited production that do not hire Rolland and who achieve high scores from critics like Parker?

If you don't know any of these things -- and you are not told any of this in the documentary -- of course all of those who praise Parker sound crazy and Parker sounds like a nut when he boasts of being inspired by Ralph Nader, a consumer advocate, or having been shaped by his reaction to Watergate.

As to the internationalization of wine styles, the film maker neglects to mention that Parker himself does not review wine all around the world. He has other writers reviewing wines. For example, for all of the focus on Italian wine in the documentary, you'd think the film maker would have mentioned that Parker himself hardly ever posts reviews of Italian wine in his newsletter. For years, Italian wine was reviewed by Daniel Thomases and in the past ten years or so, Italian wines have been reviewed by Antonio Galloni. Both of these writers have railed against the use of too much French oak in classic Italian wines like Brunello Di Montalcino.

The film maker also does a hatchet job on Robert Mondavi. He neglects to delve into how Mondavi built his company and he also neglects to mention that Parker has very seldom given a Robert Mondavi wine a score above 95 points, which is the rarified territory where trophy wine collectors become interested. A lot of hay is made about Mondavi buying interest in Ornellaia and the wine subsequently becoming a big seller. It was a popular and favorably reviewed wine before Mondavi bought into it -- that's why he bought it. Then, if you've been paying attention, you've been told by Mondavi's admirers that he is a tireless and talented spokesman for his wines. Doesn't it follow that he saw a great wine and knew that he could increase the value of his investment by using his talent for public relations to bring a fine wine to the attention of an even wider audience? Is that a crime? The film maker seems to indicate that it is, but his aim is scattershot. He seems to want us to resent anyone who has been successful in the wine business, no matter how they have achieved their success.

The film maker also brings us into the world of what is essentially bulk wine making. Firms that churn out hundreds of thousands of cases of mediocre wine. Basically, supermarket wine -- the kind you would see on the bottom shelves of your supermarket's wine aisle. Yes, these wines are completely unremarkable, have no regional character, are often sold under different labels even though it is the same wine, but this is all beside the point. These wines never achieve high scores from critics. If you're paying attention, which is difficult in this documentary, you might notice that the film maker does not make this clear -- he seems to want you to lump all of these issues together.

So, what about the other target, Michel Rolland, the wine consultant to the stars? The documentary makes quite a bit of the fact that Rolland consults on a lot of wines. Something like 100+. This is also cause for genuine concern. However, with regard to Ornellaia, which took up a good portion of the documentary, the film maker seems to intentionally confuse the chronology of events. He leads us to believe that Ornellaia, in Ludovico Antinori's hands was a local style wine and that Mondavi purchased it, brought in Michel Rolland and changed the wine. The fact is that Ludovico Antinori hired Michel Rolland, Rolland was a consultant on Ornellaia from the beginning, long before Mondavi's involvement, and there was no change in the style of wine after Mondavi's purchase. It was simply change in ownership.

Also, there are literally thousands and thousands of wines out there and it is still pretty easy to avoid drinking the wines on which Rolland has consulted if you do not like his influence. The film maker doesn't even delve into the many aspects of Rolland's influence so the viewer remains largely ignorant of the relevant issues. This would demand a more balanced, informative approach, trusting educated viewers to make up their own mind. Finally, there are plenty of wines out there on which Rolland does not consult and which are highly prized by serious wine drinkers, collectors and writers, including Robert Parker. What role does consumer demand play in all of this? Why not include some of this information to balance the documentary? Kudos to the film maker for bringing up some important issues, but the absence of all of this info and the fractured, incomplete, and confusing style of this documentary makes it valuable only to those looking for easy scapegoats and simplistic answers to serious issues, certainly not to those looking for an education.

Sony MEXBT5700U CD Receiver Bluetooth Hands-Free and Audio Streaming Capability (Black)
Sony MEXBT5700U CD Receiver Bluetooth Hands-Free and Audio Streaming Capability (Black)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look Ma, no hands!, September 7, 2009
Have had this in my car for a few weeks and I love it. Sound quality and adjustments are excellent, bluetooth hands free and voice activated phone is a pleasure and ipod functionality is terrific. Yes, it can be hard to read the display in some kinds of light, but after a few days, you learn the unit and this is no longer an issue. If you're looking for a head unit with these capabilities, read all of the reviews. Some of the top brands are having trouble with their bluetooth, some with ipod functionality, some of them have funky voice activation glitches -- this one just plain works. Plus, it gives great sound. Never thought I'd be this happy with a Sony product, but I have to give it up when they do it right.

Price: $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving, August 26, 2009
This review is from: You (DVD)
This is a deeply felt, moving, haunting, surprisingly touching, wonderful film. I can be pretty cynical, but it got to me. I was choked up at the end. See this.

Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving., August 25, 2009
This review is from: You (Amazon Instant Video)
I'm a pretty cynical guy, but this movie really got to me. It's a beautiful, haunting, touching, deeply felt story that will stick with you, make you feel things that may surprise you. I was actually choked up at the end. See this. It's wonderful.

CD Box Set
CD Box Set
Offered by MEGA Media
Price: $18.59
33 used & new from $13.60

66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What?!!!, August 25, 2009
This review is from: CD Box Set (Audio CD)
WARNING: This is not a box containing a remastered collection of tunes representing an overview of Springsteen's career. This three CD boxed set contains Springsteen INTERVIEWS. On the box it says, "This is a spoken word product and contains no original music by the artist. It is not authorized by the artist, his record company or management."
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2009 4:35 AM PDT

Breville Die-Cast Smart Toaster
Breville Die-Cast Smart Toaster
Price: Click here to see our price

48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the one!, June 16, 2009
Over the past few years, my family has spent time with several of the most highly rated toasters, but each one has been a disappointment in one way or another.

Some claim to have slots wide enough for bagels. They do, but only if you pre-condition your bagel with a rolling pin. Otherwise, you're stuck. Literally.

Some claim to be durable. Gotta hand it to them -- they look really durable. Hint: the flimsy parts are hiding. You become acquainted with them when you inevitably take the toaster apart.

But, the main thing here is toast. Seems like it should be easy to get great toast, but it isn't. The landscape of crunchy bread is littered with potholes and land mines.

After a sampling from the Breville Smart Toaster, I now realize we've long been cheated of the simple but profound pleasure of correctly toasted bread, bagels, hamburger buns, etc. We've eaten a lot of counterfeit toast.

Correctly toasted bread has a texture, density, and -- lest we forget -- flavor -- that is addictive. We want it. We want that texture, that calculated crunch and -- yes -- that flavor.

The Breville stands alone in a field of high end toasters, able to satisfy that yearning. Yes, you are helped on your quest by slots wide enough for breads of all kinds, the mechanism that keeps your bread centered, the "bagel" "bit more" "lift and look" and "defrost" features, but those features wouldn't be worth a crumb if the Smart Toaster couldn't deliver on its promise of great toast.

But, the Breville truly does.

Do not settle for mediocre toast.

Buy this toaster.

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