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WWE - The American Dream - The Dusty Rhodes Story
WWE - The American Dream - The Dusty Rhodes Story
DVD ~ Dusty Rhodes
19 used & new from $8.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Look At Dusty's Career...With a Few Nitpicks, June 20, 2006
The silver lining as it regards the WWE owning the rights to the tape libraries of many now-defunct wrestling promotions like WCW, AWA, Championship Wrestling from Florida, and others is that is gives them the ability to put together great DVD sets, such as this most recent offering on the career of Dusty Rhodes, that feature classic matches, interviews and angles from the multiple territories where the subject matter worked throughout his career. The "touch of gray" is that these DVD sets have a tendency to be WWE/F-centric, with an inordinate amount of time devoted to the subject's WWF tenure even if that tenure was actually a fairly insignificant blip on his overall career.

The documentary portion of the Dusty Rhodes DVD was very well done, featuring commentary from Rhodes himself as well as many of his contemporaries such as Ric Flair, Harley Race, Ted DiBiase and Superstar Billy Graham. Commentary is also provided from modern era wrestlers like John Cena and Simon Dean who explain how Dusty inspired their own careers. Any somewhat knowledgeable wrestling fan will likely be able to point out a number of historical inaccuracies presented by Rhodes in the documentary, such as taking credit for the invention of Halloween Havoc even though he hadn't worked for WCW for nearly a year at the time of the inaugural event or blaming the demise of JCP entirely on Jim Crocket's money mismanagement and none of his own booking, namely pushing himself as the top star of the promotion long after his sell-by date and the overuse of his infamous "Dusty Finish" (wrestler wins World title only to have the decision reversed based on an earlier disqualification). To be fair, though, I'm sure if you were to analyze any biography featured on shows like "Behind the Music" or "E! True Hollywood Story" you will find similar examples of performers trying to portray themselves in the best possible light, even if this may involve a little (or more) exaggeration.

The matches on the DVD span nearly 30 years, starting off with matches from the early 70s in the AWA, where Dusty formed a legendary heel tag team with Dick Murdoch, all the way through 2001 when Dusty teamed with son Dustin to take on Ric Flair and Jeff Jarrett in WCW. Match selection on these DVDs is really a subjective thing - it's easy to nitpick that this or that match should have been included while this or that match should have been left off. The real head scratcher on this DVD was including an obscure, not particularly exciting, 1988 match vs. Ivan Koloff while having absolutely no matches at all from Dusty's legendary feud with Kevin Sullivan from Florida. The biggest knock against this DVD is the overabundance of footage from Dusty's late 80s/early 90s run in the WWF. What's funny is that during the documentary portion of the DVD, Dusty's polka-dot gimmick is almost universally panned, yet there is virtually an entire disc devoted to Dusty's matches, interviews and skits from this era. Obviously Dusty did wrestle for the WWF during this period, so it makes sense that there would be *some* material from this era in the collection, but considering the importance of this period to Dusty's overall career, this era definitely seems overrepresented.

While Dusty may not be known as the greatest in-ring performer of all time, the one area where Dusty truly shines is on interviews. In my opinion, he is arguable the greatest babyface interview in the history of the business. The strongest aspect of the DVD are the dozens upon dozens of Dusty interviews included in the collection. Like the Ric Flair DVD, this is an easy product to recommend, but there was definitely enough material left off to hope a second DVD is in the works.

Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About TV
Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About TV
by Ken Tucker
Edition: Hardcover
40 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More To Love Than Hate in This Book, November 10, 2005
Television is the one form of entertainment that is considered shameful to admit being a fan of. For example, you never hear people try to prove their intellectual superiority by claiming, "I don't read many books" or "I don't watch many films" or "I don't attend a lot of plays", but very often hear people proudly proclaim "I don't really watch much TV".

Perhaps because TV is seen as a lower form of entertainment, it is a rare treat to find a book such as "Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About TV", which features a series of thoughtful and intelligent short essays on the subject of television.

The book is a nice mix of the predictable and surprising. Tucker praises some deserved critically acclaimed shows like "Freaks and Geeks", while also claiming some shows in this category are actually highly overrated ("MASH"). Tucker berates "The Brady Bunch" for ushering in what he considers to be the ridiculous genre of "so bad it's good" as well as the idea that a show has value just because you happen to be incredibly familiar with it from watching the episodes over and over in your youth. On the other hand, he has high praise for the often-schlocky "Full House". I'm sure "Star Trek" fans around the world are already planning a book burning at their next convention after reading Tucker's harsh critique of that series and all its subsequent spin-offs.

Since this is essentially a book of the author's opinions, the chances of the reader agreeing with even a majority of what the book has to say is probably slim. Even slimmer is the chance of the reader having actually SEEN the majority of shows mentioned. However, to Tucker's credit, his writing is good enough that I was still able to find many of his essays on shows I wasn't familiar with to be interesting.

As some other readers have mentioned, the biggest criticism you could make against this book is that it was poorly edited, with some minor (the Sam Weir character on "Freaks and Geeks" was suppose to be a high school freshman, which would have made him 14, nor 15 as the book claims) and major (referring to the very much alive Richard Moll as "the late") factual errors sneaking their way into the book. I also felt Tucker sometimes contradicted himself probably without realizing it. For example, he criticizes "The Twilight Zone" for taking easy moral positions and masquerading them as being somehow deep and controversial, such as being against prejudice or nuclear war. A fair criticism, I suppose, but then a few pages later Tucker sings the praises of "The Waltons" and points out as an example an episode where one of the characters rebels against tradition and decides to follow her own path in life, which isn't exactly an earth-shatteringly original idea itself.

Still, I am confident any fairly serious fan of television will really enjoy this book.

A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
79 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Scanner Darkly: The Anti-Drug, November 1, 2005
This review is from: A Scanner Darkly (Paperback)
With apologies to Nancy Reagan, I can't possibly think of a better "Just Say No" message than this haunting novel. Told through the eyes of Fred, an undercover police officer assigned to track drug dealer/addict Bob Arctor, as well as through the eyes of Fred's alter ego, the very same Bob Arctor, "A Scanner Darkly" powerfully demonstrates the paranoia, danger, hallucinations and hand to mouth existence of people in the throws of heavy drug addiction. Occasionally, difficult to follow due to being written from the perspective of people whose minds have been severely warped due to excessive drug use, this is nonetheless an entertaining, exciting and thought-provoking work.

Little Children: A Novel
Little Children: A Novel
by Tom Perrotta
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.45
438 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Thoughtful and Entertaining, October 3, 2005
With some books we admire the author's ability to weave together an interesting, gripping story that keeps us turning the pages; reading the whole book in only a few sittings. Sometimes we admire an author who goes through the difficult effort of making sure his characters are believable, characters who actually seem like real, flesh and blood human beings we could actually encounter in real life. Other times we're impressed by an author's skillful way with words, his or her ability to put words together in an intelligent, clever, thoughtful yet accessible way.

Tom Perrotta's "Little Children" is a novel to be admired on all those levels. For me, though, this was a book that transcended normal parameters of "good" and "bad". This novel struck me straight in the heart as I imagine it does and will for many readers who are of an age similar to the main characters in the novel. While this novel will inevitably be reduced to the description of a "satire of suburban discontent" it seemed like so much more than that to me. This is a book that tackles one of those incredibly difficult and uncomfortable topics many people like to deny exists or throw under the rug. That is: What essential part of me got lost when I became a spouse and a parent? What dreams and aspirations now have to be given up because I am now responsible for the lives of other people?

It's easy to disapprove of some of the irresponsible and downright selfish behavior of many of the characters in this novel (hence the "Little Children" title), but Perrotta portrays these characters with such depth and sympathy that you may find yourself in disagreement with many of their choices, but understanding where the behavior is coming from.

This is the third Perrotta novel I've read and I've enjoyed them all, but for me this is easily the best.

Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin
Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin
by Paul Feig
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.95
105 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul's Pain is Your Gain, September 26, 2005
Paul Feig's "Superstud" is a funny book in part because Feig is obviously a talented writer with a gift for comedy. But it's also entertaining because it's a book about those excruciating experiences all members of the male species go through but rarely discuss with one another. Most men are happy to discuss their conquests and victories in the bedroom department; not nearly as many are willing to discuss their outright failures and embarrassments in the same area. Paul Feig on the other hand has written a highly entertaining book on the subject.

The book starts off with tales from Feig's early years of, to put it politely, "self-discovery". Truth be told, I'm sure many guys have, like Paul, visited a bookstore "Photography" section for reasons other than to learn more about shutters, lenses and filters.

The book really takes off once it gets to the stories from Paul's love life (or perhaps more appropriately, the lack thereof) with other actual human beings. No story in the book is ever less than amusing, however, three stories in particular - the one detailing Paul's utter humiliation on a crowded roller rink on a day he thought was going to be his moment of glory, one about Paul's "date" (date is in quotes because it is highly questionable whether the girl was aware she was on one) with the bustiest girl in his high school and one that uses real entries from a diary Paul kept in the early 80s to illustrate the highs and lows of his relationship with a not-so-closeted racist - reach the level of absolute hilarity.

Fans of "Freaks and Geeks", the critically acclaimed TV series Feig created, will also have fun picking out the bits from Paul's life that also made their way onto the TV series.

A Long Way Down
A Long Way Down
by Nick Hornby
Edition: Hardcover
343 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book About A Very Touchy Subject, September 11, 2005
This review is from: A Long Way Down (Hardcover)
Four people - A former morning TV talk show host who has lost his career, family and reputation as a result of an ill-advised affair with a 15-year-old girl; a deeply religious woman who simply cannot see any hope beyond a life sentence of constantly caring for her disabled, vegetative son; a musician whose dreams of rock stardom have instead faded into a career as an adult pizza delivery person and a manic, hostile teenage girl - all show up on the same night atop the same building, a popular London location for those about to commit suicide. Effectively ruining one another's plans for the evening (jumping off the roof, I guess, is something people prefer to do alone), the book follows these four as they form a sort of de facto, if extremely dysfunctional, support group based on the one thing they all share in common: the feeling of being completely at the end of your rope and wanting to end it all.

Who else but Nick Hornby could write a novel with such a dark premise, featuring four suicidal characters, yet still have the novel be accurately described as hilariously funny? A real credit to this novel is how the comedy sometimes reaches the level of slapstick, then in the next paragraph will portray the same characters with such sensitivity and empathy it almost breaks your heart. A fair criticism of the novel could be that with the exception of Maureen, the character with the severely handicapped son, none of the characters problems really seem to be so dire to where one would be driven to the brink of suicide. I wonder if Hornby felt it would be impossible to keep the tone of the book somewhat light if the circumstances of his characters were much harsher?

I enjoyed the unique narration of this novel, telling the story in four separate first-person narratives so the reader is able to get each characters perspective on the events of the novel and also see how each character is seen through the lens of the other characters eyes. As a reader, I also truly appreciate Hornby's absolute refusal to ever let his story descend into schmaltz. No character experiences any sort of cheesy, life-affirming epiphany where they suddenly realize, gosh dangit, life really is worth living after all. This isn't to say this isn't ultimately an optimistic or even uplifting book; the fact the book earns this description without ever becoming maudlin is a real credit to the storytelling ability of the author.

The Death of WCW: Wrestlecrap and Figure Four Weekly Present . . .
The Death of WCW: Wrestlecrap and Figure Four Weekly Present . . .
by Bryan Alvarez
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.91
94 used & new from $0.32

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Death of a Once Great Wrestling Promotion, August 31, 2005
On the one hand, "The Death of WCW" is just the story of the rise and fall of a professional wrestling promotion. On the other hand, the book almost reads like a modern day moral fable where men who get consumed by the vices of greed, arrogance, egotism and delusions of grandeur end up getting their just deserts.

The book covers the entire history of WCW, from its early years as the perennial distant number two wrestling company in the country behind the WWF, through its rise under the surprising leadership of Eric Bischoff (surprising because Bischoff's only previous notoriety in the wrestling business came as a third-string announcer) to the position of not only the top wrestling promotion in the country, but into a company so incredibly successful that it actually appeared for awhile they might run the once-powerful WWF right out of business. Of course, the book then covers WCW's tailspin where they not only lose the position of top wrestling promotion in the country back to the resurging WWF, but end up going out of business altogether just a few short years after their greatest success.

I enjoyed "The Death of WCW" overall -it was easy, fast reading, often funny, an interesting trip down memory lane and I feel the authors were fair and accurate in their analysis of what factors led to the promotion's amazing success as well as what led to its shocking downward spiral. If I have any constructive criticism for the authors it would simply be to better decide on who your audience is prior to writing. The book doesn't really offer any new insights or uncover any previously unknown information regarding the demise of WCW, making it slightly disappointing for long-time wrestling fans like myself who are already familiar with the story from following it in real-time through newsletters and wrestling news web-sites. Yet alternatively the book would often drop names and insider wrestling terms without giving a whole lot of description as to who the people were (or their significance in the industry) or explanation as to what the terms mean, leading me to believe the book may be somewhat hard to follow for the more casual wrestling fan. Otherwise, a very good effort that is easy to recommend.

Winning Through Intimidation
Winning Through Intimidation
by Robert J. Ringer
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
65 used & new from $0.94

78 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Insightful, April 21, 2004
Full confession - I never meant to take Robert J. Ringer's "Winning Through Intimidation" seriously. On a recent visit to my parents house I found a tattered, 30-year-old hardcover edition of this book on a dusty bookshelf in the storage room. The corny title caught my eye, so I grabbed it, thinking it might be fun to read for a laugh.
It wasn't just the age of the book that I figured would make it ripe for comedy (though I do wonder if Ringer's message to women that they too could use his philosophies and strategies - to "sell" themselves as wife material to a man - has been edited out of more recent editions). It is the fact that I find most sales technique books to be hilariously bad. I almost always find myself questioning whether the authors have ever worked a day in sales in their lives, since most such books offer advice that would only work if A) every client you ever dealt with was a complete and total moron and/or B) your clients just happen to follow the hypothetical "scripts" included in most of these books word for word.
Imagine my surprise to find that "Winning Through Intimidation" (which is a misnomer, "Winning Through Not Letting Yourself GET Intimidated" is a more appropriate, if less colorful, title) is filled with great fundamental, common sense advice for anyone in the field of sales. It is obvious that Ringer has spent a great deal of time in the trenches - he accurately points out many common mistakes made by salespeople (spending WAY too much time on a particular account because it makes you feel busy, as opposed to because the account will realistically ever actually buy anything, not realizing the importance of having all agreements with clients in writing and keeping a paper trail of your communications, believing that your client is ever going to have YOUR best interest at heart, thinking that "closing the deal" is the end-all-be-all goal of sales, when actually *getting paid* is far more important). This would be a great book to give to a person new to the field of sales to insure that he or she only develops good habits. I question how "useful" this book is to the more experienced salesperson, only because if a salesperson hasn't already realized through experience that the philosophies and techniques from this book are valid, then they are probably beyond help.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2013 1:38 PM PDT

A Man in Full
A Man in Full
by Tom Wolfe
Edition: Hardcover
1047 used & new from $0.01

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, April 9, 2004
This review is from: A Man in Full (Hardcover)
The biggest compliment I can give to Tom Wolfe's "A Man in Full" is acknowledging that if I somehow found myself transported 100 or 500 years into the future and wanted to give people an idea of what life in American was like at the close of the 20th century, I would just as soon give them a copy of this novel as I would a historical textbook. Writing equally well about characters at varying places along the socio-economic spectrum, Wolfe perfectly captures the mood, attitude, and cultural condition of contemporary America. Reading this book today, approximately six years after its original publish date, one almost has to look at Wolfe as a prophet, as one of the novel's major subplots involving a famous black athlete accused of raping a beautiful, rich, white girl has an eerie similarity to a current legal case involving a particular Los Angeles Lakers superstar.
Another compliment to this wonderful novel is that while many characters are obviously intended to represent certain stereotypes (the egomaniacal, overbearing multimillionaire, the trophy wife vs. the cast-aside first wife, the working class stiff who can't seem to catch a break, the wimpy middle-management type, etc), few of the characters ever appear to be anything less than fully developed 3-dimensional characters. By delving deep into the psyches of his characters, Wolfe is able to make characters who could easily have come off as clichés into oddly sympathetic figures. It is difficult to try to condense the breadth and depth of this 700+ page (hardcover edition) novel into a few short paragraphs, so I will conclude by simply stating that while this book was a successful bestseller, it seems to me that this is the sort of great work that will be even better appreciated years from now than it may have been in its own time.

Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling
Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling
by R D Reynolds
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.81
66 used & new from $0.01

45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Wrestlecrap material, but slightly disappointing, January 23, 2004
I have to admit, "Wrestlecrap" is one of the few books where I actually considered inflating my rating. The book seems like it was a genuine labor of love for someone who, as far as I know, is not a professional writer by trade. And there were a number of good laughs to be found within its pages. But I would be lying if I didn't acknowledge that as a big fan of the "Wrestlecrap" web-site, I found myself somewhat disappointed in the book, and have a feeling that other fans of the site will have the same reaction.
The whole appeal of the "Wrestlecrap" web-site, and what makes it a source of such hilarity, is how it goes into minute detail describing the ridiculousness and inanity of some of the worst wrestling gimmicks ever presented to the public. In this book, though, instead of "going with what brought him to the dance", the book is written more as a "Cliffs Notes" history of the wrestling business over the past twenty years. The dumb angles, preposterous gimmicks, and ridiculous storylines that are gone over with a fine tooth comb to hilarious effect on the web-site are often given only a few sentence description in the book. Granted, these are generally a hysterical few sentences, I just wish the book offered the same level of detail that the web-site does.
I also noticed a number of factual and chronological inaccuracies in the book, which leads me to believe that the author chose to rely primarily on his memory for research (the very short "Sources" section at the end of the book seems to confirm my suspicion). For example, the author claims that Hulk Hogan's box office bomb, "Santa with Muscles", as opposed to ruining Hogan's acting career, actually led to him getting his own TV series, "Thunder in Paradise". Only problem is, "Thunder in Paradise" came out in 1994, "Santa with Muscles" hit theaters in 1996. In the chapter entitled "Warrior Wisdom", Reynolds claims that after breaking into the business together in California, Jim "Ultimate Warrior" Hellwig and Steve "Sting" Borden went their separate ways, with Sting going to the Mid-South/UWF promotion and Ultimate Warrior going to World Class Wrestling in Texas. Actually, Sting and Warrior went to Mid-South/UWF Wrestling together as The Blade Runners tag team before Warrior later left for World Class. Reynolds was also off on when Ole Anderson was fired as WCW booker (he was actually fired BEFORE the infamous "Black Scorpion" angle reached its conclusion, not after as the book claims) and on when the NWO split into the "NWO Hollywood" and "NWO Wolfpac" factions (the book claims the split came after the "Fingerpoke of Doom" angle between Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash, when actually that angle is what ended the split). Admittedly, some of these are fairly minor errors, but for a book that is primarily going to appeal to long-time hardcore wrestling fans, there is nothing that an author can do to lose credibility with his audience that to present a number of incorrect facts that many readers will pick up on.
I'm probably being overly negative here, a result of high expectations. I should mention that the book is very well-written and there were times when Reynolds really hit his grove, like when describing the inane plotlines of many Hulk Hogan movies, rehashing some of Vince McMahon's hair-brained schemes like the World Bodybuilding Federation and XFL, or when going off on the 200 years behind the times portrayal of black wrestlers like Kimala or Saba Simba. I also selfishly hope that despite its faults, the book sells extremely well so that Reynolds can bring back the full Wrestlecrap web-site, instead of the scaled down version that has been up for the past few years.

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