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2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey
37 used & new from $2.44

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fatal Flaw: Wrong Part of the Ligeti Requiem for the Star Gate, June 12, 2013
This review is from: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Audio CD)
Since others have covered this well, I'm just going to keep this short. The first couple of times I listened to this, I knew there was something not quite right about the music for the Star Gate sequence...but it took me awhile to get around to figuring out what it is. Recently, I listened to a recording of the Ligeti Requiem itself, and finally figured it out.

The part of the requiem that was used in the movie was the climactic ending part of the Kyrie section of the Requiem, while this "soundtrack" uses the beginning of the Kyrie...which is especially annoying considering that this issue claims that it is the music as it appeared in the movie. Also, as another reviewer pointed out, Atmospheres completely picks up in the wrong part, making this whole segment a "bad splice job," at best.

The other odd anomaly of this reissue is (as a couple of other reviewers also mentioned), the completely incorrect editing of both Blue Danube excerpts. The way it appeared in the movie is, during the first space sequence we hear the first @ 6:45 of the waltz, and then the final 3 minutes are used very effectively as the end credits music. On this reissue, both excerpts are cut in strange places, the first one being chopped about in half; and the alleged, "reprise," is actually the final 8:15 of the waltz, from the first appearance of the main theme, with the 1:30 intro chopped off. Neither one of these excerpts were remotely how they appeared in the film. The only theory that makes any sense at all, is that the person who was remastering the music for reissue, was unwittingly using the director's "working version" of the music, instead of that which was edited into the final cut of the film.

Not sure how this happened, except pure carelessness and/or dishonest marketing on the part of the label, but it greatly diminishes the value of this release.


Bruckner: Symphony No 9 (with reconstructed 4th movement)
Bruckner: Symphony No 9 (with reconstructed 4th movement)
Price: $18.20
60 used & new from $8.53

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't find anything not to admire about this recording., June 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I haven't written a review here for more than five years--mostly because the comments feature started to turn the reviews section into too much of a snarky message board--but I felt this release warranted some commentary.

I used to be a Bruckner Ninth completist, but I have done some "weeding" in recent wears. For a reference, my 5(ish) favorite recordings are (not necessarily in order): Furthwangler, Barenboim/BPO, Haitink's 2nd CO recording, Wand's 1994 NDRSO recording, Sknowaczewski's Minnesota recording, Giulini/VPO.

I feel that when reviewing a "completed" version of the 9th, the first thing we should do is rate the performance of the first 3 movements on their own merits, and not deduct points for the conductor's decision to include the finale.

I am not approaching this review as a Rattle fan, and I definitely approached this recording with some caution...but I do admire Rattle's courage in including the finale, and the fact that EMI managed to get this on one disc.

I have my own issues with the "completion," and the various and sundry versions of it, as well as how I feel it should be executed, but I won't get into that here. Suffice it to say that I am a "Brucknerd" who used to be opposed to messing around with the original 3-movement format...but over time I have decided that the material that Bruckner left us for the finale--choppy though it may be--is definitely worth hearing (esp. the radiant chorale theme)...as long as we approach it as more of a "study" than a definitve statement. The most debatable point is what is the proper context for hearing the finale, and I think that will forever remain a point of debate among "Brucknerds."

Now, all of that mumbo jumbo aside, I feel that this is a fabulous performance. Great sound, radiant playing, and a truly well-conceived interpretation. As is often the case with live recordings, there might not be ideal clarity of textures in climaxes, and the first movement coda; but the horns sound great, the strings are rapt, and the timpani has plenty of power (many an otherwise-good Bruckner performance has been sunk by weak timpani, but that is not the case here).

As far as that subjective element, of "spiritual terror"--which other reviewers have mentioned, and that I have waxed poetic about in other reviews--while this performance is not as hair-raising as, say, Furtwangler or Barenboim/BPO, it is not completely bereft of that element either. This is definitely Bruckner in the more "picturesque" vein, but not without it's moments of darkness and brooding.

Although, as I said above, I am no longer a Bruckner 9th completist--and I haven't even purchased a new one in a few years--but when the BPO became the first "first rank" orchestra to record the finale, I decided it was enough of an occasion to make the purchase...and I am completely satisfied!

I don't really want to get into the debate about the merits of a "completed" finale, except to reiterate that I'm not going to hold it against a conductor for deciding to include it, esp. if the performance of the first 3 movements are good. As far as the present recording goes, I for one, actually like this latest version of the SPCM better than the previous one (the excised "bridging" material stuck out like a sore thumb, to me). I still don't find any of the "completions" consistently satisfying or convincing; but I appreciate the opportunity to hear the material, and the efforts of the editors.


La Crosse Technology WS-2310 Professional Weather Center
La Crosse Technology WS-2310 Professional Weather Center
2 used & new from $79.95

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good starter unit...but an upgrade will be wanted in a year or two., February 17, 2006
First of all, for those who complain about the inaccuracy of the anemometer, at least two things need to be taken into consideration: 1) Maybe this is too obvious to state, but you need to make sure that you have it placed high enough to not be blocked by surrounding houses, structures, and trees. In some urban or even suburban locations, where buildings are close together this might be difficult, if not impossible to achieve. 2) If you go as wireless as this system can be, that is, not having the display console connected by wire to the central thermo-hygrometer unit, the wind speed will only be monitored every 128 seconds: i.e. if the windspeed is only monitored every two-plus minutes, a lot of "good gusts" are missed...therefore your best bet is to go ahead and connect the display unit to the thermo-hygrometer by wire, which allows the windspeed to be monitored every eight seconds, but thus reneders this unit not "wireless," at all. Even with an eight second interval, you can miss some good gusts, but at least I've found this unit to be more than adequate for measuring sustained winds, even if it's kind of hit-and-miss for catching the big gusts. Btw, those who point out that it isn't truly wireless, since the anemometer and rain meter have to be wired to the central thermo/hygrometer, are correct.

The biggest problem with this unit is that the buttons on the otherwise well-designed display unit tend to stick...in fact, just two days ago--unfortunately one month after the one year warranty expired--the display button, which is the most frequently used since it is used to scroll through most of the various readings, became hopelessly jammed. It turns out that my only viable option for trying to get some more use from the system is to purchase a new display console ($85.95 plus $6.50 shipping, on ambientweather.com is by far the best price I could find). If I can get one more year of use from this system I will be pretty satisfied...but now that I know how much I enjoy having a weather station I will be upgrading next year...definitely not with a La Crosse. This is my first unit, and I have learned a lot about what I want, and don't want, from a weather station. Considering the price, not a bad choice for a first timer.


Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
by Shunryu Suzuki
Edition: Paperback
324 used & new from $0.01

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the two or three best meditation guides available., May 20, 2005
This book, based upon a series of lectures, was not intended as a meditation guide by Suzuki-roshi...and perhaps that is why it is such a good meditation guide. I will not quibble with a recent reviewer who said that this is not necessarily the best book for those who are just encountering Zen--although I do quibble with that reviewer giving this only one star, partly based on the subjective observation that it isn't "fun" enough--as I can easily see how it can be a little befuddling for newcomers...but if you are interested in Buddhism, and have studied it a little, this is a great book for beginning your meditation practice.

Like the aforementioned reviewer, I am sometimes bemused with the air of excessive solemnity and reverence of many books on Zen, Buddhism, and meditation--especially the way this air is reflected by their "fans," followers, and reviewers-- but I, personally, do not find such an air in this book. I find Suzuki-roshi's style to be very straightforward, accessible, and warmly human, and this book is a quick and easy read from which you will get something new at each point along your path that you return to it. If you are interested in starting a meditation practice--and please don't concern yourself too much with what "school" of Buddhism to follow: imo too much discussion about this "school" or that, only serves to obscure a subject that's supposed to be about clarity--I suggest that you read this book; Mindfulness in Plain English by Ven. Henepola Gunaratana; and Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, first. There is nothing unique or revelatory about my choices for recommendations, but I have been meditating for more than eight years, I have read a lot of books on the subject, and these are my favorites by far; for their clarity, brevity, conciseness, and accessibility to westerners. Namaste.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2014 10:54 PM PST


Sideways (Full Screen Edition)
Sideways (Full Screen Edition)
DVD ~ Paul Giamatti
Offered by Best Bargains Inc
Price: $8.78
274 used & new from $0.01

14 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As pretentious as an overpriced bottle of wine, April 25, 2005
I am glad to see that the average review for this movie is only 3-1/2 stars. The raves that this film got from most reviewers illustrates that most professional critics are middle-aged men. I would think that to enjoy this movie one would have to be a guy in the throes of a mid-life crisis, or a middle-aged man who can't seem to get stay in an adult relationship because he can't "keep it in his pants"--in other words, you would have to be like one of the pathetic main characters in this film. Don't get me wrong, I'm a middle-aged man myself, but I cannot relate to either of the weasels in this movie, or the dumb screenplay and its cliche, and much too obvious, theme of wine as a metaphor for life.

The first 2/3 of the movie was almost passable--I would have given it three stars up to that point--but like many movies of its kind, it falls too far below the beltline in the end, esp. when Mr. can't-keep-it-in-his-pants "picks up" a chubby waitress and "BF's" her on the floor of her squalid living room, and gets chased out of the house by her neanderthal husband...yeah, really classy and sophisticated humor here. I don't require humor to be sophisticated--hell, I've seen Caddyshack ten times!--but this movie seemed like it was trying to be a more grown up comedy, only to go "right for the crotch" in the end.

I allowed my wife to "drag" me to see this movie on the eve of the academy awards, because she's a real movie buff, and she likes to see all of the oscar-nominated movies each year. I had vetoed it once before when she tried to get me to see it after the initial positive reviews. I had asked her what it's about, and when she said, "Well, it's about two middle-aged guys on a wine-tasting weekend; sort of a 'last hurrah' before one of them gets married." I replied, sarcastically, "Oh yeah, that sounds like it's right up my alley." Well, after we finally saw it, my wife immediately apologized, because she disliked it just as much as I did (but we were even, because I have dragged her to some pretty crummy movies too, i.e. six years later, she still sometimes razzes me about taking her to Bringing Out the Dead).

I don't know what's going on with your circle of friends, family, and acquaintences--and anybody who loved this film--but I don't know one person who has thought this was any better than so-so, and most everyone I know thinks its overrated at best, if not downright lousy.


The Best of Simon & Garfunkel
The Best of Simon & Garfunkel
Price: $8.69
134 used & new from $0.50

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It only took 35 years, but CBS/Sony finally got this right., April 23, 2005
Of the "major labels," CBS is probably my least favorite. They have long been known for poor or inaccurate album documentation, cheesy marketing, endlessly reshuffling their catalog with numerous redundant compilations, and even lousy cover art. Amazon has killed several of my past reviews, due to my not sticking to the album in question, by criticizing recording labels' marketing of their albums...but, like it or not, this can be a factor in deciding whether or not to buy an album.

When Sony took over the CBS catalog, I think it was in the late 1980's, a lot of music collectors seemed to be worried that it was going to have an adverse effect on the marketing of CBS' albums, esp. their back catalog. On the other hand, I was actually hopeful that Sony would come in and clean up CBS's act...but they didn't. In fact, if anything, the endless reshuffling of artists' back catalogs has gotten worse: look at how many different Miles Davis compilations they have, for just one glaring example.

The main Simon & Garfunkel compilation prior to the present "Best of" was the ubiquitous Greatest Hits, which had some glaring song omissions, and should've been reduced to mid-price a long time ago.

Well, hats of to Sony, they finally got it right with the present compilation...better late than never. While a few other S&G fans might have some quibbles with the song selection, everything I--and my wife--want is right here. Pick up this and Negotiations and Love Songs and you've got one helluva great set!


Ustad Vilayat Khan Sitar Akram Khan - Tabla (Raga Shree)
Ustad Vilayat Khan Sitar Akram Khan - Tabla (Raga Shree)
Price: $11.99
18 used & new from $8.92

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of my favorite recordings of Shree., April 23, 2005
Ustad Vilayat Khan was definitely one of the "big three," sitar players, the other two of whom are Ravi Shankar, and the late Nikhil Banerjee, in my book. Vilayat Khansahib's recent passing has definitely left a void in the world of North Indian classical music.

Shree, one of the most time-honored ragas in the North Indian classical repertoire, is easily one of my ten favorite ragas, so I was really looking forward to hearing Vilayat Khan's rendering of it. Vilayat Khan elected to shift the emphasis from komal Re (the flattened second) to komal Dha (the flattened sixth), for this performance, which changes the flavor of the raga too much, imo, and not in the most positive way.

There is an element of minimalism to North Indian classical music that contributes to its meditative quality, as there are main phrases and motifs that recur, and are developed and improvised upon throughout the course of a raga performance; but this development and improvisition do not necessarily happen in the same way as they do in western classical and jazz music.

[Before I go on, I will clarify a couple of points addressed in the previous paragraph. To some music listeners, the word "minimalism" has a negative connotation. I have heard and read about North Indian classical music referred to as having a "minimalist" element to it, but this was not intended in any negative way: at worst, it is taking a predominantly western musical term, used to describe music by composers such as Phillip Glass, and applying it to eastern music. 2) North Indian classical music has commonly been referred to as Hindustani music, but it has come to my attention that some people consider the latter term passe, or perhaps "un-PC," so I have chosen not to use it here.]

If the recurrent motifs and phrases chosen by the performer, within the framework of the raga, are pleasing to the ear and soul of the listener, listening to a traditional extended treatment of a raga can be a transcendent experience. If the recurrent phrases chosen by the performer do not resonate with the individual listener, the performance can be a bit difficult to "get into."

Unfortunately, even after several listenings I couldn't get past the feeling that Vilayat Khan's melodic material sounded rather banal--I kind of hate to use this word to describe a performance by such an acknowledged master, most of whose other recordings I greatly admire, but I can't really think of a better word. I feel that part of the reason for this less-than-satisfactory impression has to do with the shift of emphasis of the leading note (vadi). Don't get me wrong, I am not a rigid traditionalist when it comes to music, Indian or otherwise, and I often admire artists--especially "elders"--who have the courage to get "progressive," but I just don't think that Vilayat Khan's alteration of the raga works here. In effect, he has practically created a new raga, which is perfectly acceptable, but maybe it would've been better to call it "Dhaivat Shree," or something like that, to acknowledge the tonal shift, instead of leading the listener to believe that he is going to hear a traditional performance of Shree Rag.

If you are not well-acquainted with Shree Rag you might find this recording perfectly enjoyable--and of course, the quality of Khansahib's playing is never in doubt--but if you have studied North Indian classical music in some detail, and esp. if you have a fondness for this particular raga, you may find this performance a bit frustrating.


Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season
Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
387 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Any baseball fan--except a Yankee fan--should love this book, April 23, 2005
I haven't read any of the other reviews here, but I don't know how the average review, as of this posting, can only be 3-1/2 stars. You don't have to be a Red Sox fan: almost any long-time baseball fan with a heart should love this book. I am not a Red Sox fan, per se. I am a long-suffering SF Giants fan, who has had several Red Sox fans for friends over the past 30 years, so I can very much relate to their plight...and now that the Red Sox have finally won their world series, the Giants 51-year drought has moved the snake-bit San Franciscans up one slot nearer to the top of professional sports teams with the longest run of futility.

Even if you don't like baseball that much, you might still enjoy Steven King's always entertaining commentary--and since his entries are printed in bold, they are easy to pick out. King himself acknowledges that he is the "from the heart guy" of this partnership, while O'Nan, whose technical knowledge of baseball is impressive, is the nuts-and-bolts guy.

In fact, the only way I can see that a non-Yankee fan might not enjoy this book is if they find O'Nan--who also might be the luckiest SOB ever, when it comes to hauling in stray baseballs!--too technical, at times. Personally, I never found his discussion of the finer points of the game to be too dry...I have a better-than-average knowledge of baseball, but I definitely learned a few things from him.

As an aside, this book and the movie Fever Pitch, when the latter comes out on DVD, would make an excellent "gift bag" for the Red Sox fan, or any other sympathetic baseball fan, in your life.


Om Namaha Shivaya:  Deluxe Tenth Anniversary Edition
Om Namaha Shivaya: Deluxe Tenth Anniversary Edition
Price: $12.99
69 used & new from $1.45

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Those wanting an "eastern" sound experience, look elsewhere, April 7, 2005
[...]

I bought this CD a few years back, after hearing the second track, "Om," at a new age bookstore. When I got home and listened to the first track, a very western-sounding rendition of Om Namaha Shivaya, I was very disappointed in the disc, but I kept it for the "Om" track, which I sometimes use for relaxing music; and occasionally for meditation, when I'm feeling particularly agitated, and having trouble settling my mind down (although I usually meditate w/o music).

[...]

If you want something a lot more idiomatic, I highly recommend a CD called, Sacred Chants of Shiva: From the Banks of the Ganges, on the Heaven on Earth Music Label. In addition to five other tracks of chants about Shiva, this excellent disc concludes with a 31-minute rendition of Om Namaha Shivaya. Both the vocals and instrumentation are a lot more idiomatic than the Robert Gass version. [...]


The Very Best of Benny Goodman
The Very Best of Benny Goodman
Price: $6.99
55 used & new from $1.25

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How can this be a "very best" w/o "Don't Be That Way"?, April 2, 2005
Yeah, you can nitpick almost any "best of" compilation CD for the songs that should've been included; and most of us know that "Very/Best," "Greatest Hits," "Essential," and "Definitive," are mostly record label marketing terms...but I don't think it's a nitpick to ask the question in my review title: for my money, leaving "Don't be that Way" out of a "VERY Best of Benny Goodman" collection would be about like leaving, "Take the A Train" out of a Duke Ellington collection.

Most "best of" compilations, esp. those by the "big labels," are nothing more than enticements to get people to buy more albums, but this is one of the more blatant examples of that...esp. when you call up some of RCA's other Benny Goodman compilations, and compare the tracks that were included. If you have to go the "compilation" route--and there's nothing wrong with that, esp. if you are one of the majority of us who can't afford to fork over the big bucks for boxed sets of artists' complete recordings--skip this and search some of the other titles, like the two BG Greatest Hits (find them used or on sale), or the compilation Sing, Sing, Sing. Yeah, the documentation on the RCA Greatest Hits CD's is weak, but if economy is a consideration, isn't it mostly about the music?


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