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Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco/Oakland, CA.)

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Operation Valkyrie [DVD]
Operation Valkyrie [DVD]

4.0 von 5 Sternen Suspenseful Story, but..., 21. Mai 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Operation Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
There have been five versions of `Valkyrie' told on screen in the last twenty years. 1990 had the excellent Brad Davis in "The Plot To Kill Hitler", 2004 had "Operation Valkyrie" by Sebastion Koch and 2008 produced two films, "Killing Hitler: The True Story Of The Valkyrie Plot" and "Operation Valkyrie: The Stauffenberg Plot To Kill Hitler". For those interested, the word valkyrie is derived from `old horse' valkyrja (referring to the slain on the battlefield) and the verb kjósa (meaning "to choose"). Together, the words mean "chooser of the slain." A word chosen by Hitler himself. The story tells of the 1944 attempt by several High Command German Officers to asassinate Hitler and take over control of the German government. Colonel Stauffenberg led a resistance group who amanged to plant a bomb in Hitler's battlefield headquarters. The bomb went off. We all know how Hitler really died.

Now this year we have "Valkyrie" starring a host of grand actors like, Tom Wilkinson, Terrance Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Eddie Izzard. Hitler is played to perfection by a lesser-known actor named David Bamber. All sport British/German accents, which helps the credibility of the story. Then we have Tom Cruise as Colonel Stauffenberg. He is horrendously and miserably miscast. The beginning of the film has a Tom Cruise sound-alike German voice speaking that tries to slowly evolve into Cruise's American voice. It's as big a bomb as the one that goes off in Hitler's bunker.

The direction by Bryan Singer is, of course, well done with first class cinematography and surround sounds of explosions and gunfire. All the acting is first rate, except for Tom Cruise who rarely raises his voice and looks meek and stoic throughout the film. I am sorry to bash Mr. Cruise, but he is just terribly miscast. He shows little emotion, drive or passion. Brad Davis in the 1990 version was excellent, showing a wide range of emotions, especially towards the plot, his companions and his family. In fact, Davis successful changes his accent even if it isn't perfect German or British.

The Singer film is perfectly adequate, but I found myself sighing every time Cruise appears on film (and not the good kind of sighing). Singer does manage to be faithful to the original story, only changing some scenes to highlight Cruise. Many of the scenes of the Stauffenberg house, the bunker in the forest and others are identical and it manages to feel like WWII Germany (it was filmed there), but the ending set-up seems contrived, even if it is true. The Stauffenberg family was imprisoned and released a few years later, something not noted in the Singer film.

If you have never heard the story, it is an amazing part of history. The supporting cast couldn't be better and Director Singer knows how to handle suspense and the horrors of war. However, Tom Cruise is simply "Risky Business" Tom Cruise in a German uniform. He is completely out of place. Enjoy the film with that warning.

DVD ~ Anne Hathaway
Preis: EUR 4,99

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Moving - but too much filler, 17. Mai 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Passengers (DVD)
`Passengers' is one of those schizophrenic films that seems to have been written by two different writers (Ronnie Christensen alone). The basic plot premise is that Claire Summers, (Anne Hathaway) a psychologist, tries to help half a dozen airplane crash survivors cope with post traumatic stress disorder. Now, personally, from the beginning, I knew exactly what was going to happen at the end, but hold still. The ending is a must.

The middle portion of the film is full of medical interviews and sessions with various survivors of the crash who seem to all have different memories of the incident, different feelings and different reactions. This part is mostly filler with each patient strangely disappearing as the film progress. There are too many `gotcha' moments like phones ringing in the middle of the night, newspapers flapping at Claire's face in the wind, barking dogs that won't go away, people jumping off roofs in front of Claire that were just `goofs', a faked drowning, etc. There are tons of symbolism. There is even a fake conspiracy that fills time. Then there is also the obligatory love scene between Claire Summers and Eric (Patrick Wilson) as a creepy guy turned amorous. It's just a pack of things you've seen before.

However, in the last 15 minutes of the film, you start to catch on with each character's life and it really turns out to be quite moving. You understand why each person was in the plot and what they were and what they turn into. The final moments are very touching as everything comes together and there is a good feeling of satisfaction. Its not perfect, but it does make for a good sleuthing film and a good date movie.

Logitech V550 Nano Laser Notebook Maus schnurlos silber-blau
Logitech V550 Nano Laser Notebook Maus schnurlos silber-blau

5.0 von 5 Sternen Great Peformance!, 1. Mai 2009
I already own many Logitech accessories and they are all of high quality (including two mice). This Cordless Laser Mouse goes above and beyond for convenience. Not many cordless mice can last 18 months on the same batteries and the mouse turns off when docked. The docking is unique, in that, you are supplied with choices of two silver and one black œ" X œ" docks which should be located off center of the top of your laptop (alcohol wipes are included for firm adhesion). The mouse clips on easily enough, but could pop off if brushed against something, so it's not totally fail-safe. The scrolling wheel has two settings: one is a lower `click-able' scroll and the other is a fast zipping scroll that really moves fast. The receiver is less than a œ" and can stayed plugged into your USB port permanently. My other laptop mouse Logitech V220 Cordless Optical Mouse for Notebooks (Black) has a receiver that sticks out 1-1/2".

If you wanted to use the V550 mouse on a desktop, there is a nice attachment that plugs into your USB port and a cord where you can place the receiver anywhere on your computer table. The laser technology is good enough that with my laptop, I can actually scroll it on my pants leg and get good reception and with no delays or drop-outs. For side-to-side scrolling, there is free mouse software to download from Logitech.

I do confess that for my desktop I have a Logitech G9 Laser Mouse (I like the extra weight and features), I also have another Logitech V220 Cordless Optical Mouse for Notebooks (Black). For the price, I'd say that the two mice I use for my laptop are a toss-up, but there is a price difference. Make a choice - either one is a good move.

No Line on the Horizon
No Line on the Horizon
Preis: EUR 6,99

4.0 von 5 Sternen Magnificent, 26. April 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: No Line on the Horizon (Audio CD)
U2's twelfth album brings this Irish phenomenon into a more complex and mature state in years. Its no wonder they took over David Letterman's show for a week as the only musical guest. With lots of welcome help from Brian Eno (ambience and edge) and Danny Lanois (unique guitar work), the band forges ahead on every track with a driving force that sucks you in.

Every cut is fantastic, but some standouts must be mentioned. "No Line On The Horizon" drives full throttle with The Edge creating a echo-like quality to his guitar and Adam Clayton leading with an even and forceful rhythm. "Magnificent" carries forth with several combinations of simple but effective riffs and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton bounce that beat along with Bono giving one of the more inventive vocals on the album. In fact, "Magnificent" is almost anthemic in its force. You can hear Eno's eerie ambient contribution on "Moment of Surrender" and that mood is carried throughout with Bono declaring, "I've been in every black hole" backed with a magical keyboard. "Get On Your Boots" is an excellent hard rocker with U2 going at it with hints of songs past. "FEZ-Being Born" and "White as Snow" show a strong influence by Brian Eno right from the start and U2 takes it and runs with it. In fact, Eno's signature is on every track. Finally, "Cedars of Lebanon" is a fine finishing track with clever percussion mixed with a quietly moody guitar and Bono spilling forth with some dark lyrics.

Released in five different packages, this is one of U2's greatest accomplishments and it will be interesting to see how many hits will end up being released. Every track is that good.

Sinfonien 4 & 5
Sinfonien 4 & 5

5.0 von 5 Sternen Remarkable Performances in the Round, 20. April 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Sinfonien 4 & 5 (Audio CD)
Jean Sibelius's seven symphonies were allegedly a reaction of conservatism against twentieth century modernism. Ironically, it sounds and feels more radical than most compositions. The fourth and fifth symphonies start with brooding cellos with a slow introduction in Allegro. Many times it switches back to Adagio and uses horns and kettle drums with whimsical strings that seem to be playing different symphonies, but somehow manage to pull together. It must be an extraordinary piece to play.

I am no classical music expert, but I do recognize that Sibelius moves from one tempo and mood to an opposite extreme, almost effortlessly. Each section of the orchestra plays distinct sections from the strings, to horns with outbursts of melodic oboe and cello. Sibelius captures mood more than any classical artist I have listened to. That's why I was so shocked when I found this in 5.1 surround sound. You can actually hear how many violins, cellos, flutes, oboes or horns are playing. The sound is not distinct from speaker to speaker but was recorded as if in a concert hall with the rear speakers picking up the ambience of the performance with a minor full sounding echo and resonance. Even in stereo these are remarkable symphonies, but in surround, it is just like being in a grand concert hall.

Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia!
DVD ~ Meryl Streep
Preis: EUR 5,54

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Incredibly Guilty Pleasure, 20. Februar 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Mamma Mia! (DVD)
Twenty-two ABBA songs? Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan? A movie from a musical? It actual works! The story is simple. Donna (mother Meryl Streep) was once a wild child and now, twenty years later has a daughter, Sophie who is getting married. They run a rustic hotel on a tiny Greek island. The trouble is, Sophie never knew who her father was and neither did Donna. Sophie figures out it has to be one of three men, so she seceretly invites them while mother Donna invite her two best friends making a perfect excuse to team up three couples during a wedding. That's it. Really.

Even if you loathe ABBA, you'll find some good humor and songs here amidst the clever (if forced) storyline. The songs and dancing action are non-stop, although some of the choreograophy could have been improved. The visuals are stunning and Greece never looked so good. Sure, some of the songs are goofball and corny, but they carry the story and for the two male members of ABBA (Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus) to have created such a monster hit is remarkable. Yes, Meryl Streep really CAN sing as good as the rest of the cast, but Pierce Brosnan is horridly, inexplicably painful to listen to. No matter. It's a simple, light-hearted film with lots of good music and good feelings. The ending is hilarious. Its just a good time for all.

Dolby Surround makes a great mix for the view.

Preis: EUR 7,97

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4.0 von 5 Sternen This Film Deserved More, 10. Februar 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Milk (Audio CD)
Danny Elfman's soundtracks are immensely varied from, "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and "Sleepy Hollow" to "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Simpson's". If you are familiar with these works, it will give you an idea of how varied and unique Elfman's compositions are. Some of this soundtrack's compositions are brilliantly insightful and moving, while others get lost in the background. Songs like, "Politics Is Theater", "Give `Em Hope" and both "Harvey's Themes" are beautifully written and played, but far, far too short. Most of the other songs sound like filler and deserved more input. To be noted, songs like, "Queen Bitch", "Everyday people" and "Rock The Boat" are more from the early to mid seventies and not directly from this time period, but Sylvester's wild, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" is almost the anthem for this work and thankfully, the entire song is included. I felt this film deserved more than short mood music, but although it doesn't thrill, it doesn't detract from the film. Its curious that little operatic music was included, as Harvey Milk was such a huge fan. This film may have deserved more, but what Elfman gives is just enough.

Suunto Adventurer Baseplate Compasses M-3/360/D/L/Cm/Nh Compass, SS004305011
Suunto Adventurer Baseplate Compasses M-3/360/D/L/Cm/Nh Compass, SS004305011
Preis: EUR 29,99

5.0 von 5 Sternen Top Of The Line, 9. Februar 2009
I've gone through a lot of compasses bushwhacking and the Suunto (Finland) is the best. The edges are raised and beveled so with gloves on, you can easily rotate the compass for correct bearings. It's great for use on a map (I laminate all my outdoor maps) as it contains two rubber pads that prevent slippage. It also measures in centimeters, inches and 1"=1 mile on its three sides. The markings show up easily in the dark or low light and the magnifying glass is convenient for very small reading. There are even holes for marking up your maps for orienteering, but I have never used these. I could see how for some hard-core hikers in the back country, it would be helpful. The red lanyard makes it even easier to just hang around your neck.

Think and Make it Happen: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Overcoming Negative Thoughts, and Discovering Your True Potential
Think and Make it Happen: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Overcoming Negative Thoughts, and Discovering Your True Potential
von Augusto Cury
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Outline For Positive Thinking, 9. Februar 2009
Dr. Cury has produced his own version of a 12-Step program towards self improvement. The premise is appealing. Manage your own emotions, rid yourself of anxiety and malicious thoughts, be more creative, celebrate life, etc. To be honest, as complete as it seems, it struck me as just another version on the `think positively' notion. Each chapter begins with a program or goal. Then each goal is discussed, sometimes using real life examples. Following each chapter, there are general `suggested topics' for self reflection and some cognitive exercises for daily use, but to put all of this into a daily ritual would be extremely difficult without enormous motivation.

Psychology, Psychiatry, positive thinking, faith, spiritualism all find their place here and there is a great deal of good solid information that anyone can use. I simply had trouble processing all of it. There is some wisdom in taking things slowly and `one day at a time', but this book seems more like an "outline" of a psychology course for individual growth. That's great, but it seems suited for a specific people seeking answers that I am not sure can be found in one book (to be fair, Dr. Cury never makes this claim). I am also unsure how I feel about his frequent use of biblical references, especially about Jesus Christ, as they were extremely simplistic, but maybe that was his point.

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5.0 von 5 Sternen More Like An Invention!, 28. Januar 2009
This brilliant waterproof jacket is actually more of an "invention" for skiers or snowboarders. The heavy-duty (but lightweight) shell breathes so you don't get wet and the inner removable fleece vest (long sleeve) ensures you stay warm even in the coldest or wettest of weather. I am particularly impressed with all the pockets and vents. You can (with Velcro and zippers) air out your body at the armpits, chest and collar. The wrists use Velcro to tighten around your gloves. There is a skirt (for deep snow) that acts like a cumber bund around your waist to stop snow from getting underneath and you can adjust the tightness of the base of the jacket and around the hood by pulling on the elastic bands and clamping them. There are two zippers in the front (other than in the fleece vest) plus additional Velcro patches for a snow proof fit.

The pockets are very convenient, including one for your goggles, your cell phone and iPod (interior and exterior - the interior pocket is clear so you can see your iPod screen and there is a tiny slit for the ear-buds to come through). There is even a clear pocket at the end of one of the sleeves for your I.D. It's a great jacket - I just wish it came in more colors and variety, but I'm not complaining!

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