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Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" RSS Feed (London, Ontario, Canada)

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Klondike Gold Rush
Klondike Gold Rush
DVD ~ .
Price: $17.99
22 used & new from $8.95

5.0 out of 5 stars There's GOLD in them thar Klondike fields!!, August 1, 2015
This review is from: Klondike Gold Rush (DVD)
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"From July of 1897 to December of 1899, over 100,000 men and women journeyed to the far North in search of gold...

They became known as `stampeders.'"

The above is printed on-screen at the beginning of this excellent, informative documentary.

The Klondike Gold Rush (KGR) was a migration (or "rushing") of an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon (in north-western Canada, just east of the Alaskan border) between 1897 and 1899. (Gold was actually discovered in the Klondike region during the summer of 1896).

The KGR is famous because it was the richest gold strike in North American mining history.

Throughout the film are excerpts from the book "The Klondike Stampede" (1900) written by a correspondent who was actually at the KGR. There is also a letter (dated March, 1898) that was written by an actual stampeder!

As well, there are brief comments made by historians and authors.

I was impressed with the brief black and white film footage and still-photographs of that time.

You'll find that this is a story of determination, luck, fortune, disappointment, loss, and even death. As well, it isn't all about the gold but rather the difficult journey to the Klondike itself.

Finally, there are no extras.

Oh. I forgot. The last name of the narrator of this documentary is (you probably guessed it) GOLD.

In conclusion, this film presents the true story of the Klondike Gold Rush, said to illustrate "capitalism at its rawest."

(2014; 55 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 8 chapters; PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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November Man
November Man
DVD ~ Pierce Brosnan
Price: $9.99
59 used & new from $1.33

5.0 out of 5 stars A spy is NEVER out of the game, July 26, 2015
This review is from: November Man (DVD)
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“You know what we used to call you…? The November Man. [Be]cause after you passed through, nothing lived.”

The above comes from this spy thriller based on Bill Granger’s novel “There are no spies” (1987) and co-produced by Pierce Brosnan.

A highly-trained CIA operative (ex-James Bond Pierce Brosnan), called by his colleagues “The November Man”, comes out of retirement to protect a valuable witness (Bond girl Olga Kurylenko). But his mission is compromised when he is targeted by his former protégé (Luke Bracey).

This is a down-to-Earth, no-nonsense spy thriller with good action, espionage, gritty fight scenes, and lots of twists and turns. I found the story itself quite intriguing.

Brosnan, though older, appears to be at the top of his game in this thriller. All the other actors do good jobs in their roles.

Filming took place in Serbia (Belgrade) and Montenegro.

The budget for this movie was fifteen million. Box office so far is thirty-two and a half million.

The DVD itself (the one released in 2014) has no extras (keeping with the movie’s no-nonsense nature).

Finally, a sequel to this movie has already been announced. I look forward to seeing it.

In conclusion, Brosnan is back in the spy game and, to me at least…nobody does it better!!

(2014; 1 hr, 45 min excluding end credits; widescreen; 9 scenes; rated ‘R’)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason [End of Faith]-By Sam Harris
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason [End of Faith]-By Sam Harris
by W.W. Norton & Company
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from $7.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for all RATIONAL people in this age of terrorism, July 19, 2015
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“Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which RATIONAL discourse proves impossible.

When foisted upon each generation anew, it renders us incapable of realizing just how much of our world has been unnecessarily ceded to a dark and barbarous past.”

The above comes from this eye-opening book by Sam Harris. He is a neuroscientist, philosopher, author, and C.E.O. of “Project Reason,” a non-profit organization that promotes science and secularism. This is Harris’ first book.

This is a fascinating book!! It is seriously concerned with organized religion, the clash between religious faith & RATIONAL THOUGHT, and the problems of tolerance towards religious fundamentalism. This book comprises a wide-ranging criticism of all styles of religious belief. (“Belief” is mental acceptance of something as true without absolute certainty. “Faith” means complete, unquestioning acceptance of something without proof and especially of something not supported by reason.)

Harris began writing this book on Sept. 12, 2001.

Here are some of the things I liked about this book:

(1) It opens with an account of the last day of a suicide bomber
(2) There are two interesting sections on the Holocaust and “honor” killings
(3) It has a frightening assessment of Islam
(4) A good discussion of religion’s negative influence on societal issues like drug policy and stem cell therapy
(5) There is a look into the failure to separate church and state
(6) It offers a RATIONAL approach to ethics

This is the best book I’ve read with respect to RATIONAL thinking versus irrational thinking.

Warning!! Harris is direct and even blunt. Some readers may not like this writing style.

Lest you think that Harris made everything up in this book, you’d be wrong. There are over sixty pages of notes! These alone make for very interesting reading. As well, there are almost thirty pages of references!

In response to the feedback and criticisms toward his book, Harris wrote another book entitled “Letter to a Christian Nation.”

“The End of Faith” was on “The New York Times Bestseller List” for 33 weeks.

Finally, do I agree with everything that Harris wrote? Of course not. But this book is an effective wake-up call to religion’s dangerous influence on society and humankind.

In conclusion, Sam Harris’ tour de force demonstrates how faith—blind, deaf, dumb, and unreasoned—threatens our very existence!!

(first published 2004; 7 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 225 pages; notes; bibliography; acknowledgements; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
by Sam Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.58
545 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for all RATIONAL people in this age of terrorism, July 18, 2015
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“Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which RATIONAL discourse proves impossible.

When foisted upon each generation anew, it renders us incapable of realizing just how much of our world has been unnecessarily ceded to a dark and barbarous past.”

The above comes from this eye-opening book by Sam Harris. He is a neuroscientist, philosopher, author, and C.E.O. of “Project Reason,” a non-profit organization that promotes science and secularism. This is Harris’ first book.

This is a fascinating book!! It is seriously concerned with organized religion, the clash between religious faith & RATIONAL THOUGHT, and the problems of tolerance towards religious fundamentalism. This book comprises a wide-ranging criticism of all styles of religious belief. (“Belief” is mental acceptance of something as true without absolute certainty. “Faith” means complete, unquestioning acceptance of something without proof and especially of something not supported by reason.)

Harris tells us that he began writing this book on Sept. 12, 2001.

Here are some of the things I liked about this book:

(1) It opens with an account of the last day of a suicide bomber
(2) There are two interesting sections on the Holocaust and “honor” killings
(3) It has a frightening assessment of Islam
(4) A good discussion of religion’s negative influence on societal issues like drug policy and stem cell therapy
(5) There is a look into the failure to separate church and state
(6) It offers a RATIONAL approach to ethics

This is the best book I’ve read with respect to RATIONAL thinking versus irrational thinking.

Warning!! Harris is direct and even blunt. Some readers may not like this writing style.

Lest you think that Harris made everything up in this book, you'd be wrong. There are over sixty pages of notes! These alone make for
very interesting reading. As well, there are almost thirty pages of references!

In response to the feedback and criticisms toward his book, Harris wrote another book entitled “Letter to a Christian Nation.”

"The End of Faith" was on “The New York Times Bestseller List” for 33 weeks.

Finally, do I agree with everything that Harris wrote? Of course not. But this book is an effective wake-up call to religion’s dangerous influence on society and humankind.

In conclusion, Sam Harris’ tour de force demonstrates how faith—blind, deaf, dumb, and unreasoned—threatens our very existence!!

(first published 2004; 7 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 225 pages; notes; bibliography; acknowledgements; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2015 10:35 PM PDT


CORNER GAS: SEASON 5
CORNER GAS: SEASON 5
DVD ~ VARIOUS
Offered by Outlet Promotions
Price: $17.86
11 used & new from $13.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Be sure to watch this comedy series, you jackass!!, July 11, 2015
This review is from: CORNER GAS: SEASON 5 (DVD)
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This is a Canadian T.V. sitcom created by Canadian comedian Brent Butt. (Yes! That’s his real name.) The series ran for six seasons from Jan 22, 2004 to April 13, 2009 for a total of 107 episodes.

Deriving its name from the roadside gas station in the fictional, small (very small!) town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, Canada, “Corner Gas” is the only gas station within 37 miles (60 km) in any direction.

The characters of this small town are quirky:

Brent Leroy (Brent Butt) is the proprietor of the gas station. His parents, Oscar (Eric Peterson) whose favorite word is “jackass” and Emma (Janet Wright) are life-time residents of Dog River.

Wanda Dollard (Nancy Robertson) works at the station’s convenience store as a retail assistant.

An adjoining cafe, “The Ruby”, is owned by Lacey Burrows (Gabrielle Miller), who inherited it from her Aunt Ruby.

Dog River’s Police Department (the “DRPD”) consists entirely of veteran Davis Quinton (Lorne Cardinal) and rookie Karen Pelly (Tara Spencer-Nairn).

Brent’s best friend, the perpetually unemployed Hank Yarbo (Fred Ewanuick), spends his time hanging out with Dog River residents or drinking coffee at the Ruby.

A number of notable Canadian celebrities and politicians appear as guest stars or have cameo roles in many episodes.

Most of the episodes are stand-alone and can be viewed in any order.

This very funny show, which was filmed entirely in Saskatchewan, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode. In Saskatchewan, April 13 is known as “Corner Gas Day.” This show is presently televised in 26 countries.

I found that season five of Corner Gas retained its quirky characters and that all episodes retained the humour I’ve come to expect. In fact, most episodes are hilarious. Kiefer Sutherland has a cameo in one of the episodes.

Finally, there are three extras: bloopers, a theme song music video, and “character mash-ups” (short “best of” montages of each character).

In conclusion, the fifth season of the hit comedy “Corner Gas” presents episodes in the life of a small town where there’s “not a lot goin’ on.”

Warning!! Once you become addicted to this series, you officially become a “Butt head.”

(2007 to 2008; 19 episodes on 3 discs; 22 min per episode; total time: 420 min or 7 hrs; wide screen)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London. Ontario, Canada>>

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Misdiagnosed: One Woman's Tour of--And Escape From--Healthcareland
Misdiagnosed: One Woman's Tour of--And Escape From--Healthcareland
by Jody Berger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.55
49 used & new from $1.84

2.0 out of 5 stars Don't like a medical diagnosis. No problem. Just ignore it and find a better one, July 4, 2015
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“I had been reporting—almost unknowingly—for a year since the debacle with Dr. Silver. I had started asking questions because it’s what I do and because I was scared.

Instinctually, I’d started gathering bits of information like so many bricks that I could use to build a barricade between me and my gloomy diagnosis [of multiple sclerosis or MS].

As I went from doctor to doctor and flew to Canada, California, and back to Denver, I had collected information and ideas about interconnections of body, mind, and spirit. Or more accurately, I had learned how my body, mind, and spirit were connected. More than connected, they were in fact the same thing. All one.”

The above comes from this inspirational memoir by Jody Berger. She is a freelance journalist and certified holistic health coach.

The one good thing this book gets across is to take charge of your health. Berger does this and at the same time tells us how difficult it is to navigate “Healthcareland.” She ultimately turns to alternative medicine for the right answers since she did not believe her diagnosis of MS. (She is a graduate of the “Institute of Integrative Nutrition” based in New York City.)

However, I did have problems with this book. She tells us that she went “from doctor to doctor and flew” to many places. She even flew to India for yoga workouts. She took nutritional supplements. The fact is that the majority of people would find it difficult to afford everything that she did. As well, many people can’t pick up and fly to places seemingly on a whim.

There are some high-profile people that have MS. One of these people is former talk show host Montel Williams. You may have seen his infomercials for nutritional products (juicers, etc.). If nutrition was the answer to the puzzle of MS, you’d think he would have been cured years ago.

The fact is that MS is a finicky disease, known for its remissions. By the end of her book, Berger tells us how alternative medicine had cured her and then the book simply ends. If I was thought to have been cured of MS, the first thing I would do is get the appropriate tests and scans to make sure that this is truly the case.

Berger spent, I felt, quite a bit of time discussing her (rich) boyfriend and her tumultuous relationship with her mother. Doing this bogged down the story.

Berger’s story reminded me of the late comedian and actress Gilda Radner-. She did not have MS but had ovarian cancer. She beat the cancer and even wrote a book of her triumph. Unfortunately, the cancer returned and she died. I hope that this is not Berger’s fate where her MS returns and she ends up severely disabled. Time will tell.

Finally, I’m concerned that this book may send out the wrong message: if you get a diagnosis you don’t like, just ignore it and get one you do like. This is dangerous thinking.

In conclusion, this book has good intentions but it may send out the wrong message.

(First published 2014; 21 chapters; afterword; main narrative 270 pages; appendix; references; acknowledgments; about the author)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Lucy
Lucy
DVD ~ Scarlett Johansson
Price: $11.49
50 used & new from $4.47

5.0 out of 5 stars The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. IMAGINE what could be done with 100%!!, June 27, 2015
This review is from: Lucy (DVD)
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"Animal life on Earth goes back millions of years. Yet most species use only 3% to 5% of its cerebral capacity.

But it isn't until we reached human beings at the top pf the animal chain that we finally see a species use more of its cerebral capacity.

10% might not seem like much, but it's a lot if you look at all we've done with it."

The above comes from this intriguing movie written and directed by Luc Besson (who has a small cameo).

This is an English-language French sci-fi action movie that was filmed in Taipei, Paris, and New York City.

Scarlett Johansson portrays "Lucy" who gains special intellectual abilities when a drug is absorbed into her bloodstream. Morgan Freeman plays a respected professor of neuroscientist whom Lucy consults.

We get to see how Lucy changes as her brain capacity increases gradually to 100%.

Despite the nonsensical plot that focuses on the 10% brain capacity myth, this movie still managed to pull me in because of Johansson's performance, the intriguing themes, and the visual effects. In fact, I think it's a credit to director Besson's style and Johansson's performance that this movie wasn't a train wreck.

An intriguing feature of this movie is that there are flashbacks to the female hominid (who lived 3.2 million years ago) whose common name was "Lucy." (Her discoverers named her after the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.") This movie implies that she was the oldest ancestor of humankind.

(Four people are credited with discovering the bones of Lucy in Ethiopia in Nov. 1974. One of these discoverers was American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson.)

The DVD (released in 2015) has one ten-minute extra called "Cerebral Capacity: The True Science of Lucy." I found it quite informative.

Finally, this film has performed exceptionally well at the box-office: it has earned back about 11.5 times its budget.

In conclusion, I found this an intriguing movie. Yes, there are problems but damn is it entertaining!!

(2014; 83 min excluding end credits; 20 scenes; wide screen, rated "R")

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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The Quantum Moment: How Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg Taught Us to Love Uncertainty
The Quantum Moment: How Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg Taught Us to Love Uncertainty
by Robert P. Crease
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.32
67 used & new from $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The QUANTUM: its science and its impact on culture, June 21, 2015
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"The quantum, the name for the fact that energy comes in finite packages and is not infinitely divisible, was introduced in 1900 to explain puzzling results in a remote corner of physics about how light is emitted and absorbed.

Two quantum revolutions followed.

The first occurred between 1900 and 1925 when scientists discussed and developed the theory without attracting much public attention.

Then, in 1925-27, the theory was transformed by a second revolution, called quantum mechanics, whose bizarre implications became the subject of public curiosity and discussion.

Even today, over eighty years later, humanity is still unsure what to make of the second quantum revolution, finding it puzzling, visionary, and even shocking."

The above comes from this fascinating and highly readable book by Robert Crease and Alfred Goldhaber. Crease is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at Stony Brook University (located in Stony Brook, New York) as well as an author. Goldhaber is professor at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics in Stony Brook University and Fellow of the American Physical Society.

This book tells the true story of quantum physics (the physics of the very small or subatomic) in accessible language. We learn about diverse concepts and images that sprang from the quantum idea such as quantum leaps, randomness, wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, complementarity, superposition, Schrodinger's cat, spooky action at a distance, parallel worlds, and multiverses.

The history of quantum physics as it progresses is done quite well. We're introduced to the cast of characters responsible for these revolutions that includes such science geniuses as Max Planck, Erwin Schrodinger, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, and Albert Einstein. We get to peruse the actual writings of some of these science giants.

Perhaps the greatest idea pursued by this book is looking at the impact of quantum mechanics on general culture. Thus, along the way, there are jokes, cartoons, trivia, etc.

After each chapter is an "interlude" that gives technical details or mentions related topics not mentioned in the main narrative. {These interludes can be skipped if desired.)

Finally, there are just over forty-five illustrations (portraits, comics, etc.) found in this book.

In conclusion, after reading this book you'll probably agree with the following penned by a philosopher:

"Never in the history of science has there been a theory which has had such a profound impact on human thinking as quantum mechanics; nor has there been a theory which scored such spectacular successes in the prediction of such an enormous variety of phenomena."

**After writing this review, I deserve a break. I think I'll get a drink at the "Sir Isaac Newton," a pub mentioned in this book.

(First published 2014; introduction; 12 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 280 pages; notes; acknowledgements; credits; index; about the authors)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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CORNER GAS: SEASON 3
CORNER GAS: SEASON 3
DVD ~ VARIOUS
Offered by Outlet Promotions
Price: $12.75
16 used & new from $8.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Be sure to watch this comedy series you jackass!!, June 13, 2015
This review is from: CORNER GAS: SEASON 3 (DVD)
XXXXX

This is a Canadian T.V. sitcom created by Canadian comedian Brent Butt. (Yes! That's his real name.) The series ran for six seasons from Jan 22, 2004 to April 13, 2009 for a total of 107 episodes.

Deriving its name from the roadside gas station in the fictional, small (very small!) town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, Canada, "Corner Gas" is the only gas station within 37 miles (60 km) in any direction.

The characters of this small town are quirky:

Brent Leroy (Brent Butt) is the proprietor of the gas station. His parents, Oscar (Eric Peterson) whose favorite word is "jackass" and Emma (Janet Wright) are life-time residents of Dog River.

Wanda Dollard (Nancy Robertson) works at the station's convenience store as a retail assistant.

An adjoining cafe, "The Ruby", is owned by Lacey Burrows (Gabrielle Miller), who inherited it from her Aunt Ruby.

Dog River's Police Department (the "DRPD") consists entirely of veteran Davis Quinton (Lorne Cardinal) and rookie Karen Pelly (Tara Spencer-Nairn).

Brent's best friend, the perpetually unemployed Hank Yarbo (Fred Ewanuick), spends his time hanging out with Dog River residents or drinking coffee at the Ruby.

A number of notable Canadian celebrities and politicians appear as guest stars or have cameo roles in many episodes.

Most of the episodes are stand-alone and can be viewed in any order.

This very funny show, which was filmed entirely in Saskatchewan, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode. In Saskatchewan, April 13 is known as "Corner Gas Day." This show is presently televised in 26 countries.

I found that season three of Corner Gas retained its quirky characters and that all episodes retained the humour I've come to expect. In fact, most episodes are hilarious. Son the former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and "E-talk" host, Ben Mulroney, appears in one of the episodes.

Finally, there is an extra entitled "Beyond Corner Gas: Tales from Dog River."

In conclusion, the third season of the hit comedy "Corner Gas" presents episodes in the life of a small town where there's "not a lot goin' on."

Warning!! Once you become addicted to this series, you officially become a "Butt head."

(2005 - 2006); 19 episodes on 3 discs; 22 min per episode; total time: 420 min or 7 hrs; wide screen)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London. Ontario, Canada>>

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Corner Gas: Season 2
Corner Gas: Season 2
DVD ~ Brent Butt
Price: $13.33
11 used & new from $9.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Be sure to watch this comedy series, you jackass!!, June 6, 2015
This review is from: Corner Gas: Season 2 (DVD)
XXXXX

This is a Canadian T.V. sitcom created by Canadian comedian Brent Butt. (Yes! That's his real name.) The series ran for six seasons from Jan 22, 2004 to April 13, 2009 for a total of 107 episodes.

Deriving its name from the roadside gas station in the fictional, small (very small!) town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, Canada, "Corner Gas" is the only gas station within 37 miles (60 km) in any direction.

The characters of this small town are quirky:

Brent Leroy (Brent Butt) is the proprietor of the gas station. His parents, Oscar (Eric Peterson) whose favorite word is "jackass" and Emma (Janet Wright) are life-time residents of Dog River.

Wanda Dollard (Nancy Robertson) works at the station's convenience store as a retail assistant.

An adjoining cafe, "The Ruby", is owned by Lacey Burrows (Gabrielle Miller), who inherited it from her Aunt Ruby.

Dog River's Police Department (the "DRPD") consists entirely of veteran Davis Quinton (Lorne Cardinal) and rookie Karen Pelly (Tara Spencer-Nairn).

Brent's best friend, the perpetually unemployed Hank Yarbo (Fred Ewanuick), spends his time hanging out with Dog River residents or drinking coffee at the Ruby.

A number of notable Canadian celebrities and politicians appear as guest stars or have cameo roles in many episodes.

Most of the episodes are stand-alone and can be viewed in any order.

This very funny show, which was filmed entirely in Saskatchewan, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode. In Saskatchewan, April 13 is known as "Corner Gas Day." This show is presently televised in 26 countries.

I found that season two of Corner Gas retained its quirky characters and that all episodes retained the humour I've come to expect. In fact, most episodes are hilarious. The Canadian rock band "The Tragically Hip" appears in one of the episodes.

Finally, there is an extra entitled "E-talk interviews." As well, five of the episodes have commentary, if desired.

In conclusion, the second season of the hit comedy "Corner Gas" presents episodes in the life of a small town where there's "not a lot goin' on."

Warning!! Once you become addicted to this series, you officially become a "Butt head."

(2004-2005; 18 episodes on 3 discs; 22 min per episode; total time: 400 min or 6 hrs, 40 min; full screen)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London. Ontario, Canada>>

XXXXX


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