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The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
The Endurance - Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
DVD ~ George Butler
19 used & new from $10.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We had reached the naked soul of man"--Ernest Shackleton, May 3, 2012
"Endurance" is an excellent documentary that makes this reviewer want to re-read Alfred Lansing's book or purchase Caroline Alexander's book on which this film is based. The harrowing 1914-16 survival story of the crew of The Endurance, a ship which was trapped and sunk in the ice on its way to the Antarctic where renown polar explorer Ernest Shackleton planned a transcontinental expedition, is expertly told in this documentary through vintage photographs, film, illustrations, survivors' radio interviews, relatives' interviews and re-enactments. Those interviewed include Tom Crean's daughter Mary, Thomas Ordes-Lee's grandson Julian Ayer, "Chippy" McNish's grandson Tom, Shackleton's cousin Jonathan, among others. The re-enactments were filmed in a way that was not intrusive at all. With no dialogue, they blend in well with the other sources. The film footage shot at the time as well as the photographs taken of the trapped Endurance are fascinating.

One aspect of the story which is often overlooked, glossed over, or, in this case, not mentioned at all, is the fate of the Ross Sea Party. A group of men sailed to the other side of the continent to lay depots for Shackleton's party as they got to the final leg of their transcontinental journey. The only sign in this documentary that this party existed is three blue triangles marked on a computerized map with an illustration of the supply ship Aurora (which had its own survival story) below. Neither is mentioned by name. At the end of the documentary, it is stated "All hands were safe; not one life had been lost." Such was not the case for the Ross Sea Party.

As much as this reviewer enjoyed the documentary, the special features were even better. "The Tale of The Endurance" is told by author Alexander who explains some of Shackleton's controversial decisions and really drives home Shackleton's ability to switch his focus from purely egotistical aims to caring only about the survival of his men. "In The Wake of Shackleton" is a "making of" short film on the crew's experience shooting footage in the exact places Shackleton and his men were. The fate of the small boats they brought is quite eye-opening. Photographer Frank Hurley's (responsible for the many iconic images of the Endurance and her crew) twin daughters (always wearing the same outfits) are interviewed. In "Past and Present", descendants of the Endurance crew gathered at a museum in New York City and shared their memories and thoughts on the artifacts on display. The open boat James Caird was the main attraction, and the special features give a greater understanding on what that little whaler and the men on it went through traveling 800 miles across some of the most treacherous waters on earth to seek help on South Georgia with only the benefit of navigator Worsley's dead reckoning. This documentary is highly recommended.


Stagefright
Stagefright
Price: $20.93
7 used & new from $20.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frightfully Bad, April 18, 2012
This review is from: Stagefright (Audio CD)
What happened between Give 'Em Hell and Cloak And Dagger besides the new vocalist on the latter album? Give 'Em Hell, Witchfynde's debut album, was excellent with awesome tracks like "Ready To Roll" and the brilliant "Leaving Nadir." Their third album Cloak And Dagger was even better. I could listen to "Crystal Gazing" on a continuous loop. In between these albums was Stagefright (released in 1980, the same year as Give 'Em Hell) and fright was right! It's a fright to listen to. Maybe the title referred to having stagefright performing some of these songs on stage. It is as if they were trying to go more pop (they never were hardcore metal to begin with) and it just didn't work. There are sappy slow tracks like "Doing The Right Thing" and the almost unlistenable "Madeleine." Power ballads or slow numbers are fine when they are good songs and are executed well. These tracks just sound misguided. Even the rockers sound a bit silly at times. "Would Not Be Seen Dead In Heaven" has these annoying background vocals: "Not a chance, no way, no how." That is just lame. "Big Deal" is a raw deal. It is so bad, it's almost comical. "In The Stars" is annoyingly repetitive, especially when they change keys and keep repeating the chorus. Stagefright has better moments, but it is such a letdown after Give 'Em Hell it is hard to believe they came out within months of each other. Fortunately, they got over their stagefright and released Cloak And Dagger in 1983 which is highly recommended.


The Times of Harvey Milk
The Times of Harvey Milk
VHS
11 used & new from $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "I stood for more than just a candidate"--Harvey Milk's tape-recorded will, March 26, 2012
"The Times of Harvey Milk" is an excellent documentary about the work of openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk for human rights and "the little guy" which ended in tragedy on November 27, 1978 when he was killed along with Mayor George Moscone by rival former Supervisor Dan White. This documentary was released in 1984, so the events were still fresh and vivid for the people interviewed. The interviews were drawn from a fairly diverse group of people including Milk's City Hall Aide Anne Kronenberg, Political Consultant Tory Hartmann, openly gay school teacher Tom Ammiano, auto machinist Jim Elliot (I would have liked information on the Coors Beer boycott mentioned by Elliot as one of the things that first endeared him to Milk), television reporter Jeannine Yeomans, etc. An interview with a political rival of Milk's or, perhaps, a friend or colleague of Dan White would have rounded things out but it is understandable if no such interview was pursued or if such interview requests were declined. White committed suicide a year after this documentary was released.

The blending of vintage news footage with the interviews was very well-done. The documentary began with a stunned Board of Supervisors President Dianne Feinstein announcing the assassinations and suspect to the press. Other footage included news reports on the campaign trail of Milk and White (a clean-cut Vietnam vet and fireman who ran for "old fashion values"). These clips gave a glimpse of how gay rights were regarded at the time. The debate over Proposition 6, which would have denied open homosexuals jobs in schools, was very telling. In a television debate, Senator John Briggs who initiated the Proposition, said that, by cutting the homosexual group out of the equation, the odds of child molestations in schools would be reduced. Such a ridiculous comment was greeted by a laugh from Milk. At a conference, Milk took issue with allegations that homosexual teachers could influence students to become homosexuals: "If teachers are going to affect you as role models, there'd be a lot of nuns running the streets these days." One interesting clip was of President Jimmy Carter visiting Sacramento. Governor Jerry Brown whispered to him before he left the stage and the President returned asking the crowd to vote against Proposition 6. Jerry Brown is the Governor of California today.

Soon after Proposition 6 went down in defeat, thanks in large part to the efforts of Milk and his supporters, White resigned from the Board of Supervisors. This decision caught his district by surprise (he had been against Prop 6 although, earlier, he had been the only dissenting vote against a Gay Rights Bill). Later, however, he wanted to return to the Board. News footage showed a rally of his supporters to get him reappointed, but Mayor Moscone had other plans. Incensed he was not going to be reappointed, he climbed into the window of City Hall and assassinated Moscone and Milk. News footage shows the covered bodies being removed from the building as well a White's capture. An audio clip of White's confession actually brought sympathy to his case. The demonstration after the assassinations was peaceful, but the reaction to the "twinkie defense" verdict was not. The vintage footage used in this documentary gave a sense of being there because the news clips were the same as what was seen at the time. As the title indicates, this documentary not only gives one a perspective on Harvey Milk's life and work, but also on the political-social climate during his brief time in office. This documentary is highly recommended.


Titanic: Legacy of the World's Greatest Ocean Liner
Titanic: Legacy of the World's Greatest Ocean Liner
by Susan Wels
Edition: Hardcover
197 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Photos of Salvaged Artifacts Set This Book Apart, March 26, 2012
So many books are available on the Titanic and more have come out as the 100th anniversary approaches. Most of these books offer the same stories and illustrations, but what sets this Time-Life Discovery Channel edition from the late 1990s apart from the others are the photographs of the artifacts recovered and preserved from the ship, including some photos showing the salvaging efforts themselves. Most impressive were the paper items which I would think would have disintegrated long ago. Not only were individual paper items salvaged and restored, but paper items stuck together, such as a deck of playing cards and a stack of postcards, were freeze dried and painstakingly separated. Some will take issue with items being removed from what is essentially a graveyard but seeing a photo of a satchel resting on the ocean floor being picked up by a mechanical device and another photo of the same satchel restored to near its former condition realizing what historic tragedy its owner had been through and how many decades had past is pretty remarkable.


Family Guy, Volume Nine
Family Guy, Volume Nine
DVD ~ Seth MacFarlane
Price: $12.96
50 used & new from $3.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm home, you're all my b!#@#es now."--Meg, March 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Family Guy, Volume Nine (DVD)
Volumes 7 and 8 of the Family Guy DVD series were disappointments for me. The quality of the episodes declined so significantly I almost gave up on the show. The series righted itself, however, with Volume 9; in fact, it is my favorite Family Guy Volume except for maybe Volume 6 with its brilliant "Stewie Kills Lois"/"Lois Kills Stewie" two-parter. Almost every episode is excellent save for "April in Quahog" which I think is rather weak. It also has many laugh-out-loud moments. The scenes where Stewie gets punched (once by Brian and another time by Peter) are hilarious. When I first saw the title "Class Holes," I think I laughed for a full minute. The double-length season nine debut "And Then There Were Fewer" is one of the best FG episodes ever. I also like the episode where Meg finally gets her revenge on those who've demeaned her (which is, pretty much, every character on the show).

Disc 1:
"Business Guy"--Peter throws father-in-law Mr. Pewterschmidt a belated bachelor party which causes him to have a heart attack and slip into a coma. Peter takes over the Pewterschmidt company with predictable results. When Mr. Pewterschmidt recovers, Peter will not relinquish his position. The swamp monster/Scooby-Doo ending was lame, but it is still a good episode. Peter to the intercom: "Peggy, that fart I had at three, can you push that up to now?"
"Big Man On Hippocampus"--The Griffins are on Family Feud and Peter is knocked out by Richard Dawson (it was bound to happen) and develops amnesia. He has to be re-taught everything and, when Lois teaches him how to make love, he decides he can do it with anyone he wants. When Lois leaves the unfaithful Peter, Quagmire tries to move in.
"Dial Meg For Murder"--Brian is writing an article on the average teenage girl for Teen People and follows Meg around and discovers she is dating a convict. When she hides her boyfriend from the cops after he escapes, she goes to jail herself and returns a bada$$: "I'm home, you're all my b!#@#es now."
"Extra Large Medium"--Stewie and Chris get lost in the woods and a psychic gives Lois comfort they will be found (curiously, she never specified "alive," but Lois takes the prediction in a positive way). Lois then depends on the psychic and Brian tries to convince her the medium is a fake, but nothing convinces Lois more than when Peter decides he has psychic powers. Meanwhile, Chris tries to date a girl with Downs Syndrome who bosses him around. She is terrible, but the ending is hilarious.
"Go, Stewie, Go"--Stewie wants to be in his favorite kid's television show "Jolly Farm," but to get a part he needs to pretend he is a girl. He then falls in love with his female co-star. Meanwhile, Lois is getting tired of Peter putting her down and desires Meg's compliment-throwing boyfriend.

Disc 2:
"Peter-Assment"--Peter's boss, Angela, hasn't had "it" in years and , when Peter comes to work without glasses, she becomes attracted to him and threatens to fire him if he doesn't satisfy her desires. Peter actually shows a compassionate side in this episode. As for the school play at the beginning: Terri Schiavo was an odd news story to revive (so to speak).
"Brian Griffin's House of Payne"--Stewie digs out an old script written by "H. Brian Griffin." Lois uses her father's television connections to get Brian a TV pilot, but the television execs make changes to Brian's story, for example, hiring James Woods to play the lead, changing the plot to a father and 18 year-old daughter in college together, and changing the title from "What I Learned on Jefferson Street" to "Class Holes." I laughed out loud so many times to this episode.
"April in Quahog"--The Griffins, along with the rest of Quahog, await the end of the world only to learn it was an April Fool's joke by the news team. When they thought it was the end, Peter let it be known he hates being around the kids. When they survive, he has some explaining to do. This is the weakest episode of this volume and the ending was rushed.
"Brian and Stewie"--As lame as the preceding episode was, this one is actually very heavy although there are many hilarious moments, too. Brian and Stewie get locked in a bank vault for the weekend and battle, laugh, compromise, and share very serious feelings. This may be the only episode that only has two characters in it.
"Quagmire's Dad"--Quagmire builds up his dad's reputation as being a lady killer and becomes horrified when he learns his war hero father is going to have a sex change operation. If that were not enough humiliation for Quagmire, he finds out his "he-she father" slept with his mortal enemy: Brian.
"The Splendid Source"--Quagmire tells Peter and Joe a dirty joke and they go on a quest to find its source. Their travels take them to Virginia to be reunited with Cleveland and then to Washington D.C. where they make an astounding discovery: the Obama Memorial (ha, ha, just kidding). The dirty joke is told at the end; it is nasty.

Disc 3:
"And Then There Were Fewer"--This is one of my favorite FG episodes. It brings in all the prominent characters, including the hilarious airhead Jillian. Quahog citizens are invited to a dinner party hosted by James Woods. He wants to apologize to everyone, but then there is a murder, and then another one, and then another one. Who is responsible? This double-length who-done-it, it very well-done and clever and, graphically, it looks like a movie.
"Excellence in Broadcasting"--Rush Limbaugh comes to Quahog for a book-signing and an angry Brian goes to confront him. Leaving the book signing, Brian is inexplicably attacked by a gang and is saved by Limbaugh. In return, Brian agrees to read his book and turns into a hardcore conservative. Brian seems at his least articulate at the beginning of this episode. Maybe his anger was clouding his thoughts. The show was very kind to Limbaugh and even had him morph into an eagle at the end.
"Welcome Back Carter"--Peter catches Mr. Pewterschmidt cheating on his wife. Good episode, but, what I don't understand about this one and also the episode in another volume where Brian is dating a 50 year old is, how old do they think these people are? The back story of Carter and Babs Pewterschmidt would make them in their 80s at the youngest and more like 90s or 100s! The song "Jeepers Creepers" came out in 1938.
Extras include deleted scenes which were best kept deleted, commentary on select episodes, a comic-style phone conversation for "Brian and Stewie," "The Making Of 'And Then There Were Fewer'," Comic-Con 2010, "The History of the World According to FG," etc.


Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America
by John M. Barry
Edition: Audio CD
9 used & new from $24.95

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Their struggles...began as one of man against nature; it became one of man against man", March 11, 2012
This review is on the abridged audio edition. This reviewer was disappointed in "Rising Tide." Expecting a human story about the struggles in an epic natural disaster, John M. Barry concentrates almost entirely on history, politics, and race relations, centered mainly in Greenville, Mississippi, though the political machine in New Orleans is also examined. More than a third of the book (first 2 of 5 discs) is on the history of flood control in the Mississppi Valley. The backgrounds and work of engineers James Buchanan Eads and Andrew Atkinson Humphreys are discussed in depth. Much more sympathy is given towards Eads, who had a more hands-on understanding of the river while Humphreys is described as being more underhanded in his tactics to get credit for river control strategy. The main debate regarding river control was the use of levees only versus the use of outlets.

As another reviewer mentioned, Barry tells the story of the 1927 flood mainly through the eyes of the elite: former Senator LeRoy Percy and his son William who was put in charge of the relief effort, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, and "The Club" of bankers in New Orleans. Race relations dominate the information given about the struggles of the average man during the flood. African Americans were the only people forced, sometimes at gun-point, to work on the levees in Greenville. The only other glimpse of the common man's struggles was the lack of compensation given after the flood.

The decision of the New Orleans elites to dynamite the levee in order to save the city was intriguing, though they did go through the proper channels. The use of dynamite proved to be unnecessary and destroyed St. Bernard's Parish creating 10,000 refugees (St. Bernard's would also be hit hard by Katrina). Barry implies that the decision-makers knew New Orleans would not be flooded and still dynamited the levee so as to protect its reputation as being safe. Why would resorting to dynamiting a levee give a better sense of safety than having the levees hold without such methods? Barry does not explain his reasoning. Also, it is not clear from this book that the decision-makers were aware New Orleans was out of danger at the time.

The section on how the flood "changed America" lost some potency because the book focused so much on Greenville, it seemed like more of a regional disaster than the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States and the greatest natural disaster before Katrina. Barry credits the flood for both the emergence of Herbert Hoover as a presidential candidate and his failed re-election campaign due to losing the black vote after many of his promises to them were broken. As to the latter, the stock market crash and beginning of the Great Depression contributed more to FDR's landslide victory. The greater involvement of the federal government in flood control and relief is explained as a legacy of the 1927 flood, but the Great Depression may have been steering the federal government into taking a bigger role in people's lives anyway. He doesn't help his cause when he discusses the decline of New Orleans and ends it with "perhaps all this had nothing to do with the 1927 flood, or perhaps it did." This reviewer is certain the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 had a significant sociopolitical effect on the United States, but this book does not make a strong enough case, and its dry focus on politics made for a book that was more a chore to read about political infighting than a courageous story of human struggle that was expected.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2014 8:08 AM PDT


The Vicar of Dibley - The Complete Series 3
The Vicar of Dibley - The Complete Series 3
DVD ~ Various
Price: $13.47
35 used & new from $2.52

3.0 out of 5 stars "I'll be slaughtering Daisy here tomorrow, so do order your Christmas beef after the show"--Owen, January 3, 2012
"Vicar of Dibley" fans must have been in heaven during Christmas time 1999. Four episodes named after the seasons aired within nine days from December 24, 1999 to January 1, 2000. These episodes are not my favorite. Some of the scenes seem a bit silly even for this show and "Spring" was very odd as David Horton was quite out-of-character. I didn't "buy it" (his character, that is). This disc offers several special features though, the best being "The Real Vicars of Dibley" where actual female vicars are interviewed, one living her life pretty similar to Geraldine Granger's. She even staged a publicity stunt to raise money for a roof for her church. In addition to the special feature films, there are cast bios, a photo gallery and trailers for other shows.

"Autumn"-Alice and Hugo share honeymoon photos with the Vicar. The part where Hugo gets busted after he agrees to carry a stranger's case through customs makes no sense. Hugo was detained for 14 months??!! That is a bit much even for this show. Anyway, the Vicar starts a romance with David's rebellious brother Simon and, when Simon breaks up with her, she becomes so depressed she turns in her letter of resignation.

"Winter"--The church is planning a special Christmas show for the Millennium (I thought the Brits would better understand the 2000/2001 thing). They decide to create a live nativity on Owen's farm. The auditions for the kings and the debate over the "Greatest Story Ever Told" were ridiculous. The townspeople were cartoonishly dumb there (and not Alice this time). When it is show time, the birth of baby Jesus becomes a little more realistic than was planned.

"Spring"--First off, the baby-changing part was gross. Anyway, this episode seemed weird to me. They were hinting about David developing feelings for Geraldine in previous episodes but jeeeez! All of a sudden he's in love and is willing to join the Labour Party! That is so out-of-character and so fast. The obvious age difference is never touched on and they don't seem like a couple at all. It just seemed out there.

"Summer"--Seems like they used that joke about Owen and the toilet he hadn't flushed in ten days before. Anyway, there's a water shortage and the government plans to create a reservoir that will wipe out Dibley. Despite the compensation the residents will receive, they want to stay in their town and the Vicar mounts a protest by chaining herself to the church. I correctly predicted the ending.

Special Features:
"Ballykissdibley"--This 1997 Comic Relief special has a young Irish vicar coming to Dibley as part of an exchange program and he and Geraldine end up kissing...for charity, of course. I've got to hand it to Geraldine Granger; she can get pretty much any man she sets her mind on, except Tristan.

"Behind the Scenes of 'Red Nose Day' 1999"--Just as the title says.

"Red Nose Day"--The BBC wants to make a film in Dibley starring Johnny Depp. The Vicar invites Depp to the vicarage and he invites some famous friends, although it's a bit dark to see them.

"The Real Vicars of Dibley"--A talk with female vicars who do not fit the stereotype. It includes a history of women being ordained by the Church of England, a meeting with the real female vicar who inspired the Geraldine character, and another who seems to live her life like Geraldine. Male vicars who don't fit the mold are included in this 28-minute documentary.


Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny
Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny
by Mike Dash
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.78
94 used & new from $3.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The fact was that the under-merchant did not care whether the people he was protecting lived or died.", January 3, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After reading "Batavia's Graveyard" this reviewer wonders why this incredible story is not more well-known. Being that it occurred in 1629 is probably the main reason. This story covers almost everything: greed, political intrigue, plans of mutiny, a shipwreck, sex, rape, murders, gruesome executions, heretical convictions, psychopathic behavior, even a baby dying from syphilis. Mike Dash does an excellent job researching the many topics that make up this complicated story to try and bring some understanding of how such horrible events unfolded.

The book begins at the moment around 3 a.m. on June 4, 1629 with the collision of the Dutch ship Batavia with a reef at high tide near a group of islands in the Houtman Abrolhos atoll off the western shore of Australia. The ship was carrying valuable exports east for the Jan Company--a member of the United East India Company (VOC). An unruly chain of events followed where passengers struggled to reach an island that would be known as "Batavia's Graveyard." The last man to escape the shipwreck alive, unfortunately, was under-merchant Jeronimus Cornelisz. He would take charge of the survivors when the over-merchant and skipper, along with a group of other passengers, left on a boat to find help. Most left stranded under Cornelisz would not survive. Dash then gives background on the VOC and, most importantly, on the man who was the catalyst of the horrors that occurred on the island.

Dash tries to present an understanding of Jeronimus Cornelisz, the dominant figure in this story, by examining his background. He had a troubled, often bizarre, family life in Holland and an apothecary business that was victim to a financial depression. He also adopted strange, heretical ideas that, among other things, made him believe that he was incapable of sin. Eight months after the death of his baby that was surrounded by a legal struggle with a deranged wetnurse, he signed on as a senior officer of the Jan Company and set sail on the Batavia a "desperate and dangerous man." Dash explains that the life expectancy of merchants in the Indies was short due to the harsh conditions, but two successful voyages could restore fortunes.

Cornelisz's self-centered and destructive plans actually began on the Batavia as he and the skipper no less planned a mutiny. Dash describes life on the Batavia which was quite eye-opening. It was after the Batavia passengers were stranded on the Abrolhos, however, that Jeronimus's evil took hold. He was a "seducer of men" and was able to convince the strongest to kill the weakest (the ill or otherwise dispensable, women not kept for rape, and even children) with glee. Fortunately, he did not count on a group of survivors he had sent off to, what he believed to be, a completely desolate island surviving and defending themselves.

After all the horrors are concluded, Dash presents what information that can be found on the survivors and brings the story to more recent times with the uncovering of skeletal remains, the identification of the islands that were the settings of the brutal killings, and the reconstruction of the Batavia that was launched in 1995. Finally, he discusses the characteristics of a psychopath and how Cornelisz fit the mold. Cons are that there are no images. It is understandable that illustrations of the principal characters do not exist, but many artifacts from the ship are in museums today and there is also the islands themselves. Also, the way Dash goes back and forth with different names is a bit confusing at first (he explains the way names were used in the United Provinces at that time in his Prologue), but this reader got used to it. This reviewer prefers books on shipwrecks and exploration, but usually post 19th century. Although this book goes back another two hundred years, the author does such a fine job explaining the times where it pertained to the story, that is was easy to fall into the story and have a better understanding of it. This riveting book is highly recommended.


A Slow Year
A Slow Year
by Ian Bogost
Edition: Paperback
4 used & new from $203.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A blackness battles / A blizzardly channel ends / Curiosity"--Machined Haiku, December 31, 2011
This review is from: A Slow Year (Paperback)
"A Slow Year" is a disc and book set where videogames meet poetry. Ian Bogost is a videogame researcher and designer and a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. For this unique package, Bogost has created four games based on the seasons made for the Atari Video Computer System (later known as the Atari 2600). A limited run of an actual Atari cartridge was also made for these games, but this set includes a computer disc in a plastic sleeve attached to the back of the book. In the first part of the book, Bogost describes similarities he sees between videogames and poetry, what inspired him to design "A Slow Year," and instructions on how to play the games. The main part of the book is filled with haiku that were formed from a computer program he designed. There are 256 haiku for each of the four seasons. The title of this review is one such haiku. He explains that 256 is 8 bits, which was the largest value the microprocessor of the Atari VCS could manipulate. Multiplied by 4, 256 also equals one kilobyte.

The instructions for the games are rather vague; in fact, they are written in haiku form. These games are not your typical Atari shoot-'em-ups, racers, adventures, or mazes; they are games of patience and observation. Those who are not familiar with Atari, will probably laugh at the games' graphical simplicity and lack of action. Fans of the 2600, however, will notice the impressive details in the visuals and the uniqueness of the game play. In the game Spring, for example, the screen is filled with shades of gray. The houses look tiny and insignificant as the rain beats down. It looks gloomy and miserable. So much rain falls that I almost expect the houses to float away any moment. Then, there is a flash of yellow...lightning. Your goal is to try and anticipate the thunder's roar. In the Autumn game, you are greeted by a giant tree. It seems like a clear, peaceful day, but the winds pick up. Lines across the screen give the feel of how hard the winds are blowing. Sometimes it seems like a hurricane is coming, but the tree stands strong and, occasionally, a leaf dangles down seemingly not affected by the winds at all. Then comes the point when the leaf is ready to drop. You control a leaf pile ready to catch it, but where it falls is often a surprise. The games for Winter and Summer take even more patience and experimentation. For me, the Summer game is the most difficult to grasp. The only keys used to control the games are the space bar (red button) and the arrow keys (joystick). The Tab key works like the Game Select switch.

"A Slow Year," conceptually, takes the game style of the Atari 2600 to new areas. The limitations of the Atari system (especially in terms of graphics) left more to the imagination of the player. The cover art and text style of "A Slow Year" mimics the illustrations on Atari boxes back in the day that captured the eyes of young players like myself. The box art of games like Missile Command showed images that could not be replicated on the Atari, but did bring life to the dots and block figures that made up the game. Bogosts's games are graphically much more detailed and attractive than the early contributions to the Atari VCS (using the same technological limitations), but the game play of his games are more of reflection and observation--I guess, like poetry. They are nice games to which to kick back and relax. The computer-generated haiku did not do much for me, but I am not a fan of poetry in general. Poetry enthusiasts might pick out certain haiku or discover some interesting patterns that the computer came up with. One thing this reviewer takes issue with, however, is a review excerpt from the back cover by Frank Lantz (Area/Code). He states, "'A Slow Year' resurrects an abandoned platform and excavates from it a series of sad and lovely meditations on perception and time." The Atari 2600 is not an abandoned platform. Homebrew games are still being programmed for the system. Cartridges of common games are recycled for these new additions. Just recently, a Halo game was released for the system and Boulderdash was adapted for the Atari 2600, both in original cartridge form. Still, I am glad I made this purchase as the games are very unique and quite challenging; however, I recommend "A Slow Year" for fans of the Atari 2600, as gamers only familiar with more modern systems will probably not "get it."


The Vicar of Dibley - The Complete Series 2 & the Specials
The Vicar of Dibley - The Complete Series 2 & the Specials
DVD ~ Various
Price: $12.69
37 used & new from $6.22

5.0 out of 5 stars "I swear, if these are Jehovah's Witnesses, I'm joining,"---Geraldine Granger, December 31, 2011
For my review of series one of "The Vicar of Dibley," I first compared it to another religiously-themed Britcom of that time, "Father Ted." What I failed to mention was the commonality of both shows having one particularly idiotic character. Between "Father Ted's" Father Dougal Mcguire and "The Vicar of Dibley's" verger Alice Tinker, I am not sure who's IQ would win out. Alice was more childlike in her ignorance. She cared about others and seemed to have respect for her job despite her silliness. Dougal, on the other hand, was a complete moron with no regard for his position or other people, so it was easier to sympathize with Tinker and not so for McGuire. My series one review noted that there were more laugh-out-loud moments in "Father Ted." That changes with series two of "Vicar of Dibley." There were many hilarious episodes here with belly laughing moments, particularly in "Dibley Live" and "Celebrity Vicar." The show continued to push the envelope with sexual jokes. Series two was funnier than series one. Also, the first three episodes of series two were about 10 to 15 minutes longer than series one episodes. The issue I have of this disc does not include the specials advertised by Amazon.

1. "Easter Bunny"--As Easter approaches, the parish council members give up things for lent and the Vicar is surprised to learn that Dibley has its own Easter Bunny. Meanwhile, church organist and creator of exotic recipes, Letitia Cropley, falls ill and, while on her deathbed, makes a request to the Vicar.
2. "The Christmas Lunch Incident"--The Vicar cannot say no to Christmas lunch invites and ends up eating four huge meals. The plot is not too original but it was executed well and was very funny with such moments as the chair getting stuck to her butt. We meet Alice's mother and sister, who is even more of an idiot than Alice. It would probably have been better if those characters were just talked about and not seen--like Hyacinth's son Sheridan in "Keeping Up Appearances."
3. "Engagement"--The Vicar encourages Hugo to kiss Alice--and once they start, they can't stop. Hugo's father, David Horton, is against his son having a romance with a "genetically-modified stick insect with the brain removed" and threatens to disown him.
4. "Dibley Live"--The church gets a local radio station for a week to celebrate St. Barnabus's 650th birthday. Frank uses his airtime to make a shocking revelation. Also, a quiz show between Alice Tinker and David Horton is fixed so that Alice comes off appearing to be of more use than to, as David put it, "nail her feet to the floor and use her as a mic stand."
5. "Celebrity Vicar"--Perhaps the funniest "Vicar of Dibley" episode. The council plans for Gala Night. Meanwhile, the Vicar is enjoying a lot of media attention and it starts to go to her head and comes back to bite the Dibley community. The Gala Night performances were hilarious.
6. "Love and Marriage"--Alice and Hugo's wedding day is drawing near and the Vicar goes gaga over David's younger, rebellious brother Simon who is visiting for the wedding. Later, the Vicar hears some shocking news from Alice...or is it? Then a woman crashes the wedding with a shocking announcement...or not. This is a crazy episode.


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