Saturday, November 26, 2005

CD review: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - Drum Suite

Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers - Drum Suite (1957)

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Synonymous with hard bop music for almost four decades and with providing several jazz luminaries with their start in jazz, drummer Art Blakey has more than earned his place in jazz history.

In 1954, Blakey and pianist Horace Silver created the Jazz Messengers,the long running group with a rotating line up of promising talent, many of whom went on to have prodigious solo careers, including Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Terance Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, Hank Mobley, Kenny Garrett, and Keith Jarrett.

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Silver left the group a year later, but they had gained such notoriety that they were signed to Columbia Records. The group recorded Hard Bop in 1956 but Blakey chose to follow it up by trying something a bit different. He enlisted percussionists Jo Jones, Specs Wright, Candido Camero, and Sabu Martinez and developed three tracks utilizing African and Cuban influences. Blakey had recorded with Martinez for Blue Note records in 1953. The Drum Suite sessions introduced a new concept and has influenced musical recordings from a variety of genres for decades to come.

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Horace Silver
The opening track, Sacrifice, features some singing in Swahilli and is a sensational rythmic experience, with an actual story behind the chanting. The story is about two people who are about to be sacrificed to crocodiles, apparently an authentic ancient Swahilli ceremony. Cubano Chant swings with a strong groove and catchy "chanting" vocals.

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The other tracks, side two of the vinyl record, were from the 1956 Hard Bop sessions.

The only downside to this album is the dreaded Sony DRM spyware! You can't buy the spyware CD anymore and the unafffected version should be back in stores soon. Drum Suite is Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers trying something new, ironically, near the outset of their career. They have more highly acclaimed recordings than this one, but fans of hard bop jazz will definitely enjoy it.

1. The Sacrifice (Art Blakey - Louis Martiniez)
2. Cubano Chant (Ray Bryant)
3. Oscalypso (Oscar Pettiford)
4. Nica's Tempo (Gigi Gryce)
5. D's Dilemma (Mal Waldron)
6. Just For Marty (Bill Hardman)
*7. Lil 'T (Donald Bryrd)
*8. The New Message (aka Little T) take 1 (Donald Bryrd)
*9. The New Message (aka Little T) take 3 (Donalyd Bryd)

*Bonus tracks not on the original LP.

Friday, November 25, 2005

CD review - Jerry Mulligan - Jeru

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Currently yanked from stores since it contains the XCP spyware, Gerry Mulligan's 1962 recording of Jeru is 7 tracks of fairly laid back, bouncy jazz. Jeru, a nickname given to him by Miles Davis, came together when drummer Dave Bailey, a member of Mulligan's quartet, suggested that Mulligan (1927 - 1996) didn't play enough ballads.

Mulligan first gained international reknown as a member of Miles Davis'(1926 - 1991) group that recorded Birth of the Cool in 1949-50, an early ground breaking album. Later on, he hooked up with trumpeter Chet Baker (1929 - 1988)and the touring group was unique in that they did not feature a pianist. This innovative group became famous and Baker and Mulligan became dominant players of what became known as the "West Coast Sound." He's played with many of the all-time greats, inlcuding Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Jack Teagarden, Dave Brubeck, and Billie Holliday and has won countless awards and accolades as the number saxophone player in the world.

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The playing is superb, if not a tad relaxed for my tastes. The sound quality is suprsingly good for a 43 year-old recording. The only disappointment here is the length of the CD, 36 minutes and change. This is less than half of the capacity of a CD. You would think Sony could have added some bonus tracks.

Jeru doesn't light my fire with it's seemingly simple performances, but I can appreciate the overall results. I wish there was some more fire in the belly of these players, though. Several of these tracks did go on to become staples in Mulligan's live show, which is a testament to their quality.

The band:
Gerry Mulligan - baritone sax
Tommy Flanagan - piano
Ben Tucker - bass
Dave Bailey - drums
Alec Dorsey - conga drums

1. "Capricious" (Billy Taylor)
2. "Here I'll Stay" (Alan Jay Lerner - Kurt Weill)
3. "Inside Impromtu" (Billy Taylor)
4. "You've Come Home" (Carolyn Leigh - Cy Coleman)
5. "Get Out Of Town" (Cole Porter)
6. "Blue Boy" (Gerry Mulligan)
7. "Lonely Town" (Betty Comden - Adolph Green - Leornard Bernstein)

Total time - 36:23
Recorded June 30, 1962, New York City.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thatcher Threatened to Nuke Argentina during Falkland War

According to author Ali Magoudi, French President Francois Mitterrand (1916 – 1996) made a stunning claim that during Britain’s Falkland Islands war with Argentina in the early 1980s, Margaret Thatcher (1925) threatened to use nuclear weapons. Unless Mitterrand gave the British the "deactivate" codes used by anti-ship missiles that France had sold to Argentina.

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HMS Sheffield

This stunning but uncorroborated revelation is a focal point of the new book "Rendez-vous: The Psychoanalysis of Francois Mitterrand,” written by Magoudi, Mitterrand's psychoanalyst from 1982 to 1993.

Two French-made Argentine jets attacked the Britain's destroyer Sheffield, which was on its way towards the Falkland Islands, On May 4, 1982, using a French-made Exocet missile. The surface-skimming missile hit the ship, resulting in 20 fatalities and 24 injured crew.

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A Dassault Super Étendard firing a French Exocet missile

The British were so afraid of subsequent Exocet missles sinking more of their ships and spoiling their mission to remove Argentina from the Falkland Islands, that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher threatened to use submarine-launched nuclear missiles unless the Exocet deactiviate codes were handed over to render their warheads useless.

Shortly after that, according to Magoudi’s unsubstantiated disclosures, Mitterrand told him during one of their sessions: "What an impossible woman, that Thatcher. With her four nuclear submarines on mission in the southern Atlantic, she threatens to launch the atomic weapon against Argentina – unless I supply her with the secret codes that render deaf and blind the missiles we have sold to the Argentinians.”

Magoudi said Mitterrand told him that he had ordered the Exocet codes to be handed over to the British at Thatcher’s insistence: "She has them now, the codes. If our customers find out that the French wreck the weapons they sell, it’s not going to reflect well on our exports.”

Mitterrand then complained to Magoudi: "To provoke a nuclear war for small islands inhabited by three sheep who are as hairy as they are frozen! Fortunately I yielded. Otherwise, I assure you, the metallic index finger of the lady would press the button.”

Mitterrand claimed that he would get revenge on Thatcher by pursuing the tunnel under the English Channel, the "Chunnel", thus further tying Britain to Europe, diminishing its penchant for isolation. The 50 km-long tunnel, connects Cheriton in Kent, UK, with Coquelles near Calais in northern France in a 20-minute ride. It opened in 1994, after seven years of construction.

The author freely admits that there is no way to back up his claims of what Mitterrand apparently said.

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HMS Conqueror returning from the Falklands War

The Timesonline claims that there were British nuclear weapons in the warzone. They also state that two years after the war, the Labour Party demanded an inquiry into a report that the Royal Navy had sent a submarine armed with nuclear missiles to Ascension Island, the staging ground for Britain’s naval task force, to be on standby for a nuclear attack on the Argentine city of Cordoba if the war went badly. However, British admirals deny the report.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


It was bound to happen. People with too much time on their hands have developed viruses that exploit the vulnerability in SONY-BMG’s rootkit DRM software, XCP (Extended Copy Protection) that came bundled with selected music CDs. Essentially, files whose names begin with "$sys$" were hidden from the user and could only be revealed by a rootkit scanner, such as RootKit Revealer.

What exactly is a rootkit? Here’s a definition from

“A rootkit is a set of software tools frequently used by a third party (usually an intruder) after gaining access to a computer system. These tools are intended to conceal running processes, files or system data, which helps an intruder maintain access to a system without the user's knowledge. Rootkits are known to exist for a variety of operating systems such as Linux, Solaris and versions of Microsoft Windows.”

If you were clever enough to uninstall SONY’s rootkit, you ran the risk of making your CD-rom drive inoperable or having your computer repeatedly crashing or reboot. To make matters worse, if you downloaded and installed SONY’s “patch”, you created even more vulnerabilities on your computer. The patch, designed to remove portions of the XCP software that would allow the first vulnerability, actually installs another program on your computer that stays resident, after the patch has done its job. Believe it or not, but the way the tool works, it actually allows any web page that you visit to now download and execute code that it likes!!! Talk about going from the frying pan and into the fire!

When you visit SONY’s website to fill out the form for the “patch”, the form downloads an Active X control created by the same company that created XCP (First 4 Internet) called CodeSupport. CodeSupport is marked as safe for scripting and consequently, any website can force CodeSupport to download and execute code from any website without the user’s permission or knowledge.

SONY has recalled unsold CDs with the XCP software from stores and will allow customers to return them, as well. has begun to recall and replace all the Sony XCP CDs bought from its site.
They have also sent letters to users and have published a note on its website alongside all products that contain the now infamous XCP technology.

"Due to security concerns raised about the use of CDs containing this software on PCs, Sony has recalled these CDs and has asked to remove all unsold CDs with XCP software from our store. If you purchased this CD from, you may return it to us for a full refund regardless of whether the CD is opened or unopened. Just visit and indicate that the CD is "defective" as the reason for return," the Amazon note reads.

At the moment, however, those who have the XCP software on their computers will be awaiting a better solution. Those who installed the notorious “patch”, whether they were infected with XCP or not, are also waiting for SONY to do something. It’s no surprise that SONY is already the target of class action lawsuits. The California suits claims that the DRM software damaged computers and violated three state laws.
The latest news about Sony’s DRM woes has them contacting customers who downloaded an uninstaller program for DRM software made by SunnComm Technologies and featured on other SONY-BMG releases. Like the XCP uninstaller, the SunnComm program allows malicious websites to download and execute code on your computer.

The list of XCP CDs can be found here:

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has examined SONY-BMG’s end user license agreement, which you just know, few people will read. Among some of the points that you have to agree to are:

1. If you lose your CD, you have to delete the ripped CD from your home computer. The EULA says that your rights to any copies terminate as soon as you no longer possess the original CD.

2. If you move out of the country, you have to delete all your music. The EULA specifically forbids "export" outside the country where you reside.

3. You must install any and all updates, or else lose the music on your computer. The EULA immediately terminates if you fail to install any update. No more holding out on those hobble-ware downgrades masquerading as updates.

4. Sony-BMG can install and use backdoors in the copy protection software or media player to "enforce their rights" against you, at any time, without notice. And Sony-BMG disclaims any liability if this "self help" crashes your computer, exposes you to security risks, or any other harm.

5. The EULA says Sony-BMG will never be liable to you for more than $5.00. That's right, no matter what happens, you can't even get back what you paid for the CD.

Digital Rights Management is a hot and controversial topic that is still a developing story that promises to get even bigger in the future and more and more devices are introduced for consuming copyrighted materials. Bill Gates recently said that the DVD is now obsolete and that the future will be online movies and music. Working in concert with hardware manufacturers, Microsoft will try to introduce hardware-based DRM on future computers. If the control mechanism is on a chip, people will have a harder time, in theory getting around DRM. Stay tuned for more about this hot topic and the conclusion, hopefully, to SONY’s current DRM woes.

Friday, November 18, 2005

film - Walk The Line

4/ 5

136 minutes
released November 18, 2005

Walk The Line is an excellent film and is elevated above being a typical biopic by the stellar cast and the performances by the two lead actors. I wouldn't be surprised if Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix receive Oscar nominations,not to mention a Best Picture nod for the film itself. Director James Mangold received acclaim for Cop Land (1997) and Girl, Interrupted (1999, in which Angelina Jolie won an Oscar for best supporting actress.)

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Phoenix's portrayal is understated and subtle as opposed to being over the top and flashy. It seemed realistic and heartfelt as he struggled through bittersweet moments. You see the tough upbringing he had with a drunken, cold and seemingly loveless father (Robert Patrick (1958), X-File's John Doggett and Terminator Two's T-1000). The friendship with his older brother ended due to tragedy and his father placed some of the blame on Johnny, who was fishing at the time. He felt guilty about this his whole life. Over sixty years later, Cash talked about how he looked forward to meeting his brother again in Heaven. His first marriage turned cold as his wife took little interest in his life on the road. At the same time, you he pinned for the lovely and divorced June Carter (1929), who constantly rebuffed him as he took to a life of popping pills, further digging himself into a pit of despair. Or a ring of fire. He used to listen to radio broadcasts of the Carter Family, which included a young June, in the 1940s.

It's interesting to note that all the Johnny Cash and June Carter vocals were sung by Phoenix and Witherspoon. And they did play my favorite Cash tune, the crackling "Jackson", which won them a Grammy in 1967, in the Best Country & Western Performance, Duet, Trio Or Group (vocal or instrumental) category.

One of my favorite scenes in the film was the audition for Sam Phillips (1923), owner of Sun Records, the seminal early roots and rock'n'roll label that helped launch Elvis, and Jerry Lee Lewis, among others. He gave honest feedback regarding the gospel song that Cash's band performed to try and get a deal. He asked Cash that if he was in a car wreck and had time to sing just one more song before he died, what would he sing? Cash to performed one of his non-gospel, from the heart songs, written while he was in the military, and this was the very first Johnny Cash recording, "Hey Porter."

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Until now, I have always thought of Reese Witherspoon as a credible but limited actress, a flyweight. This is arguably her best role and is a terrific performance. She's razor sharp and when she's on stage with Phoenix, she's totally convincing as a performer.

If you ever wondered how Johnny Cash ended up recording Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison (1968), you get the explanation and see the resistance. For years, he received a ton of fan mail from inmates and incareated men, people who could relate to the songs about lawbreaking and the outlaw life.

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I couldn't help but feel sorry for Cash, due to certain scenes, especially ones involving his father. During one Thanksgiving at Cash's beautiful new house and waterfront acreage, his dad couldn't say a kind word but instead levelled criticism at his famous son, who, in 1969, was arguably the hottest act in the world, outselling even the Beatles. Meanwhile, it was apparent that Johnny Cash so desperately wanted his father's unconditional love, something that was long overdue.

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You do get to see Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings and the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis, but they in no way overshadow Cash in this story. You also get to see how Cash and June Carter had a chance to develop and solidify their friendship and love. They toured together with a few other artists, and later, together.

True, this film is not unlike last year's Ray: poor boy grows up to eventually become hot young star, takes pills, does some womanizing, ends up in the slammer, eventually comes clean and lives out the rest of his life trouble-free.

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If you see this film, there's bound to be emotions that you can really relate to. Johnny Cash was a performer people truly identified with. He's hard his share of hard knocks, disappointments. His attempts to come to terms with his outlaw lifestyle in light of his strong spiritual beliefs, was what he sang about.

film - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

4.5/ 5

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire may be the second best film in the series, after the first one, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001.)

The running theme this time around is that everyone is coming of age. Girls and boys are beginning to discover one another and you see lots of funny and awkward moments.

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Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is selected to host this year's Tri Wizard Tournament. It's a series of challenges featuring one representative from three wizard schools and the winner goes down in history. You have to be 17 to enter, says the Ministry of Wizardy, since it is very challenging and dangerous. Three candidates are selected by the goblet spitting out paper with the name of the selected entrant. But, a fourth name is spit out, and it's Harry's. He's 14 but the officials decide that the goblet must be respected and Harry must compete. It's just a tad hard to understand how kids could be allowed to compete in a contest with real life and death consequences, but that's what we have here. The part of the challenge that takes place underwater may be a bit disturbing to some, when you discover what "items" the kid wizards are supposed to recover from the depths. What was Rowling thinking? Couldn't they be asked to recover something else without jeopardizing lives?

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Jurassic Potter

A new teacher of Defense of the Black Arts shows up. He's got almost what looks like a cyborg eye and he befriends Harry...

The final challenge involves the hedge maze, spread over what appears to be acres of land. But, there's more to it than just capturing the prized cup and you know it involves someone very naughty. Evil, in fact.

There were tons of laughs from the audience. Mike Newell (Four Weddings and A Funeral) will have his biggest hit to date, no doubt. Michael Gambon (65) does such a credible job replacing the deceased Richard Harris for the second time (72)that you almost don't even notice two people have played the role. Rupert Grint (16) is Grinch-like as former wimp, Ron Weasley, someone with a chip on his shoulder. There's something eating him that causes tension between him and Harry. Is it jealousy? Or is it their mutual attraction to Hermoine (Emma Watson, 14)? Watson is whip-smart as the proud, self-confident Hermoine and while her male friends notice how she is sprouting into a little hottie, they don't have the guts to ask her to the ball. Still, she displays moments of vulnerability that makes her character well-rounded. To be honest, it's Daniel Radcliffe (15)who comes up as the weakest of the main actors in this film. He comes across as being pleasant but not terribly interesting, even with the aura of being the child-prodigy super-wizard. Harry doesn't come across as being cocky but at the same time, Radcliffe's performance is tepid at best. He's not a fireball of acting talent and isn't as interesting as his supporting cast.

As usual, this film is feast for the eyes, but more so, with lots of opposite sex attraction, it shows how the franchise is growing up.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

film - Pride and Prejudice

4/ 5

I wasn't so pumped to see this film, based on the classic novel by Jane Austen, simply because I had seen other films based on the novel in the past few years, so the story wasn't fresh: Bridget Jones' Diary, Bride and Prejudice and the BBC mini-series. But this new version is one of the best films of the year, in a year with so few great films and dwindling audiences. The theatre was packed.

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This may be Keira Knightley's (20) best film and I wouldn't be surprised if there's some Oscar talk about her role.

Matthew MacFadyen (31) plays the dour Mr. Darcy, who refuses to smile or act with any warmth around people, but for me, the definitive Mr. Darcy was Colin Firth, who was in the BBC production and the Bridge Jones film. The Mr. Collins character, played by Tom Hollander, made me think of Jim from the Martha Stewart version of The Apprentice. But he wasn't as funny the Mr. Kohli character from the Bride and Prejudice film. Still, Mr. Collins' dialogue as he professes his love to Elizabeth will have you in stitches. Doe-eyed Rosamund Pike (26) , last seen the nassty fencer / double agent in the last Bond film, is a credible Jane Bennet, eldest and most striking of the five Bennet sisters.

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Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFayden) and Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods)

For me, every aspect of the film was convincing. The cast was strong. Donald Sutherland was terrific as the laid back Bennet father, while Brenda Blethyn excelled as the busy body Mrs. Bennett, constantly trying to play matchmaker. Those who have read the book will have an easier time following the story. If you enjoy romantic period films, this is one worth watching. It does fall short of the sheer charm of Emma (1996) and Sense and Sensebility (1995), two other Austen films.

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Rosamund Pike

Friday, November 11, 2005

film - Water

4/ 5

Based on sacred Hindu texts, when a woman's husband dies, there are three choices:
1. She can burn to death on a funeral pyre.
2. She can marry her husband's younger brother
3. She can live a chaste life, of purity, as a widow, never to remarry.

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Chuyia, a 7 or 8 year-old girl is taken to an ashram (secluded residence of a religious community and its guru) by her father, to spend the rest of her life in a life of purity, due to the death of her husband. She is awaken one morning and asked if she remembered getting married, to which she answers no. Her "husband" appears to be some 30-something guy. She is told that she is in a period of mourning, but she doesn't feel anything. She's just a child who never had adult relations with this husband.

At the ashram, a house with a courtyard and several rooms, there lives a collection of women, mostly older, who live with close-cropped hair and dour looks on their faces. Some were "married" long before they were teenagers but they were banished to this ashram once they became widowers. One of the women is the boss and acts as madam to the one widow who is also the lone prostitute; leader
most of the women and surrogate mother to Chuyia.

One of the women in the ashram is beautiful 35 year-old Kalyani (Canadian Lisa Ray, last seen in Bollywood Hollywood) who supports the household by working as a prostitute in the evening. The other women mostly shun her. One day, the Chuyia races into the streets to chase after Kalyani's escaped puppy and she stumbles across handsome young, liberal-minded new law school grad Narayana (John Abraham.) Naturally, he falls for Kalyani, against the wishes of his mother who finds it crazy for someone to marry a widow. But, what should have been a happy ending, ends up with scenes of tragedy. I won't mention his liberal-minded father who seems innocuous but really isn't, as the the film later shows.

Like many other Indian films, there is a parallel story surrounding the rise of Gandhi, hero to all Indians regardless of religious or cultural affiliation, who is let out of jail by the British and makes a brief appearance as his train passes through town.

Today, there are 34 million widows in India, and many of them live in poverty and depravity, due to their sometimes forced adherence to the traditional Hindu practices. This, even though laws were passed in the 1930's supporting remarriage for widows.

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Water is a bitter-sweet film about a deeply tragic practice.. Canadian director Deepa Mehta experieced much opposition from traditionalists in India when she tried to film it in certain locations. There's one implied scene that you don't thankfully don't see that is absolutely disgusting and morally revolting. The acting is solid and almost too convincing. You get the feeling you are watching a documentry at times.

I applaud the director, whose film credits at the end of Water are laced with Canadian film and broadcasting institutions as supporters, for having the bravery to make this very controversial film. Mainstream audiences will find it too slow to make it as palatable as what most of us are used to.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Top War films

Top 100 war films as voted by the viewers of Channel 4

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01. Saving Private Ryan, 1998
02. Apocalypse Now, 1979
03. The Great Escape, 1963
04. Schindler's List, 1993
05. Full Metal Jacket, 1987
06. Platoon, 1986
07. A Bridge Too Far, 1977
08. Zulu, 1964
09. Black Hawk Down , 2001
10. The Bridge On The River Kwai, 1957
11. The Dam Busters, 1954
12. The Deer Hunter, 1978
13. Braveheart, 1995
14. The Guns Of Navarone, 1961
15. The Killing Fields, 1984
16. The Thin Red Line, 1998
17. Das Boot, 1981
18. Dr Strangelove, 1964
19. Born On The Fourth Of July, 1989
20. The Longest Day, 1962
21. Where Eagles Dare, 1968
22. M*A*S*H, 1974
23. Paths Of Glory, 1957
24. Gladiator, 2000
25. Spartacus, 1960
26. Ice Cold In Alex, 1958
27. The Dirty Dozen, 1967
28. Enemy At The Gates, 2001
29. Battle Of Britain, 1969
30. Casablanca, 1942
31. Good Morning, Vietnam, 1987
32. The Pianist, 2002
33. All Quiet On The Western Front, 1930
34. Kelly's Heroes, 1970
35. The Last Of The Mohicans, 1992
36. Henry V, 1944
37. Cross Of Iron, 1977
38. Salvador, 1986
39. Tora! Tora! Tora!, 1970
40. Lawrence Of Arabia, 1962
41. The Cruel Sea, 1953
42. Catch 22, 1970
43. Empire Of The Sun, 1987
44. Patton, 1970
45. 633 Squadron, 1964
46. Master And Commander, 2003
47. A Matter Of Life And Death, 1962
48. Gallipoli, 1981
49. Carve Her Name With Pride, 1958
50. Three Kings, 1999
51. A Town Like Alice, 1956
52. Hope And Glory, 1987
53. Troy, 2004
54. From Here To Eternity, 1953
55. Casualties Of War, 1989
56. Life Is Beautiful, 1997
57. In Which We Serve, 1942
58. Stalingrad, 1993
59. Reach For The Sky, 1956
60. The English Patient, 1996
61. La Grande Illusion, 1937
62. Ran, 1985
63. When The Wind Blows, 1986
64. The Battle Of Algiers, 1965
65. The General, 1927
66. Enigma, 2001
67. Napoleon, 1927
68. Glory, 1989
69. Went The Day Well?, 1942
70. Oh! What A Lovely War, 1969
71. Come And See, 1986
72. The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp, 1943
73. Ride With The Devil, 1999
74. Alexander Nevsky, 1938
75. Gone With The Wind, 1939
76. Sands Of Iwo Jima, 1949
77. The Charge Of The Light Brigade, 1936
78. Breaker Morant, 1980
79. Mrs Miniver, 1942
80. Land And Freedom, 1995
81. Love And Death, 1975
82. No Man's Land, 2001
83. Cromwell, 1970
84. The Caine Mutiny, 1954
85. To Be Or Not To Be, 1942
86. El Cid, 1961
87. Rome, Open City, 1945
88. Memphis Belle, 1990
89. Von Ryan's Express, 1965
90. Regeneration, 1997
91. Hell In The Pacific, 1968
92. The Birth Of A Nation, 1915
93. Europa, Europa, 1990
94. The Colditz Story, 1955
95. Welcome To Sarajevo, 1997
96. Cold Mountain, 2003
97. Lacombe Lucien, 1974
98. Big Red One, 1980
99. The Eagle Has Landed, 1977
100. Rambo: First Blood, Part II, 1985

Top rated war films from IMDB.
Rank Rating Title
1 8.8 Schindler's List (1993)
2 8.6 Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
3 8.5 Paths of Glory (1957)
4 8.5 Hotel Rwanda (2004)
5 8.5 Apocalypse Now (1979)
6 8.4 The Pianist (2002)
7 8.4 Untergang, Der (2004)
8 8.4 Ballada o soldate (1959)
9 8.4 Boot, Das (1981)
10 8.4 Voyna i mir (1968)
11 8.4 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
12 8.3 The General (1927)
13 8.3 The Great Escape (1963)
14 8.3 Vita è bella, La (1997)
15 8.3 Saving Private Ryan (1998)
16 8.3 Voces inocentes (2004)
17 8.3 Skammen (1968)
18 8.2 Campanadas a medianoche (1965)
19 8.2 Braveheart (1995)
20 8.2 Kumonosu jô (1957)
21 8.2 Stalag 17 (1953)
22 8.2 Battaglia di Algeri, La (1965)
23 8.2 Full Metal Jacket (1987)
24 8.1 Patton (1970)
25 8.1 Andrey Rublyov (1969)
26 8.1 The Message (1976)
27 8.1 All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
28 8.1 Grande illusion, La (1937)
29 8.1 The Deer Hunter (1978)
30 8.1 To Be or Not to Be (1942)
31 8.1 The African Queen (1951)
32 8.1 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
33 8.1 Glory (1989)
34 8.1 Bronenosets Potyomkin (1925)
35 8.1 Hotaru no haka (1988)
36 8 Platoon (1986)
37 8 Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo (2004)
38 8 Gone with the Wind (1939)
39 8 Spartacus (1960)
40 8 Mister Roberts (1955)
41 7.9 Letyat zhuravli (1957)
42 7.9 Un long dimanche de fiançailles (2004)
43 7.9 Roma, città aperta (1945)
44 7.9 The Caine Mutiny (1954)
45 7.9 Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage (2005)
46 7.9 Barry Lyndon (1975)
47 7.9 To Have and Have Not (1944)
48 7.9 The Cruel Sea (1953)
49 7.9 Henry V (1989)
50 7.9 A Walk in the Sun (1945)

Top War films conflict

American Revolutionary War
the Patriot1. The Patriot
2. The Crossing
3. The American Revolution – Boxed DVD Set (A&E)
4. 1776

American Civil War
Glory1. Glory
2. Dances With Wolves
3. Gettysburgh
4. Cold Mountain
5. Gone With the Wind
6. Andersonville
7. The Hunley
8. Ironclads
9. Birth of a Nation
10. Ken Burns' Civil War

World War I
Sergeant York1. Sergeant York
2. A Very Long Engagement
3. Galipoli
4. Legends of the Fall
5. The Lost Battalion
6. African Queen
7. Zeppelin
8. All Quiet on the Western Front
9. A Farewell to Arms
10. The Dawn Patrol

World War II
The European Front
Savng Private Ryan1. Saving Private Ryan
2. Band of Brothers
3. Schindler's List
4. The Longest Day
5. Patton
6. Das Boot
7. Casablanca
8. Where Eagles Dare
9. The Great Escape
10. The Guns of Navarrone

The Pacific Theater
Tora Tora Tora1. Tora! Tora! Tora!
2. Empire of the Sun
3. From Here to Eternity
4. The Great Raid
5. The Thin Red Line
6. The Bridge On the River Kwai
7. 30 Seconds Over Tokyo
8. Midway
9. PT 109
10. Sands of Iwo Jima

2. Macarthur
3. Manchurian Candidate
4. Pork Chop Hill
5. The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Viet Nam
Platoon1. Platoon
2. Full Metal Jacket
3. The Deer Hunter
4. Apocalypse Now
5. The Quiet American
6. Born on the Fourth of July
7. Good Morning Vietnam
8. We Were Soldiers
9. Gardens of Stone
10. Birdy

Various Wars, Conflicts and Peacetime Battles
Braveheart1. Braveheart
2. Black Hawk Down
3. No Man's Land
4. Three Kings
5. Stripes
6. Ben Hur
7. The Sand Pebbles
8. The 13th Warrior
9. Star Wars
10. Gladiator

Monday, November 07, 2005

Howard Mandshein

From the Winnipeg Free Press, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005.

PERHAPS it's only fitting that Winnipeg radio icon Howard Mandshein -- a self-described child of rock 'n' roll -- finds himself busier than ever in a calendar year feting that musical genre's 50th anniversary.

'H', as he is known to friends and colleagues, is around the dial and then some these days. In addition to his regular gigs on 92 CITI FM and campus station UMFM, Mandshein has also begun popping up on Shaw TV as a host for Q&A sessions with on-tour performers like Bo Diddley or Supertramp's Roger Hodgson.

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Rock radio legend Howard Mandshein has been on the air in this city for nearly 30 years and he's not even close to signing off

"I wish I was even busier," he says when asked about his frenetic pace. "There's still so much I want to accomplish."

Almost three decades into his broadcasting career, Mandshein remains driven by two things: a passion for the music that has shaped his life and a longing to prove himself to those who haven't necessarily shared or understood that passion.

"I'm from a family of over-achievers," he states flatly, "and in their eyes, I've under-achieved. Big time.
"My sister gets me but most of my family has always put commerce before art," he says, pausing to take a sip of his Evian and lemon. "But everybody measures success in different ways. I think I'm no different than that guy in a band who people keep asking, 'How long are you going to keep at it?' Well, you know what? I'm still chasing my hit record. When it comes to music, I still crank it up. I'm still a little kid."

* * *

If imitation is indeed a form of flattery, then Howard Mandshein has been getting his ego stroked for years.

"Just after I started at CITI, Jake Edwards had people phone in to do impersonations of me," he laughs. "Some guys were actually pretty good."

Mandshein, above all else, is an elocutionist's dream. Every word leaving his lips gets a royal pronouncement, as if each syllable was being spoken for the last time. It is a natural gift, he says. No lozenges, no mineral water, no sacrifices to diaphragm gods of any kind.

"Of course, there are some people who will tell you that listening to me puts them to sleep," he says of his inimitable -- and often convoluted -- song introductions.

Mandshein's fervour for music can be traced to a woman he barely knew.

"My mother died when I was very young," he says. "She played piano and, I am told, was very good."

The only recollection he has of her is being walked to school, "either in kindergarten or Grade 1, I'm not even sure which."
After his mother's death, Howard and his sister were shuffled among family members before landing at the door of their grandparents' North End home. "My grandmother and grandfather basically inherited us," he says. "There was nowhere else for us to go."

Mandshein volunteers that his early years were decidedly void of any shakes, rattles or rolls.

"I didn't even listen to the radio till I was about 11," he recalls.

The arrival of the Beatles, coupled with the British Invasion, changed all that. Overnight, the budding teen was consuming everything he could lay his hands on. Soon, Mandshein was taking to the streets to experience this city's thriving, Liverpool-esque community club scene.

"I think one of the defining moments of my life was seeing Burton Cummings and the Devrons at the Perth Canteen, just a few weeks before he would have joined the Guess Who," he says.

As the '70s dawned, the West Kildonan Collegiate grad ignored convention (i.e.: Tony Orlando) and instead went out of his way to sing the praises of such left-of-the-dial acts as Rory Gallagher, Alex Harvey and Audience to any friends who would listen.

In 1978, Mandshein was granted his first official soapbox from which to communicate his ardour to the world -- a world populated by those tuning into CJUM, the University of Manitoba's upstart alternative station.

"I was just in heaven -- instant heaven," he says in of his initial date with a microphone. "It was like, 'Here's my record collection, I'm going to play it for you and hopefully I can turn you onto some things.'
"I would literally have a stack of records under my arm when I left for work. I was THAT geek."

Mandshein and his scholarly style didn't go unnoticed for long. CITI was only a year or so old when the commercial juggernaut recruited him in 1981. Terry DiMonte, now the morning man at CHOM-FM in Montreal, recalls Mandshein's first week on the job.

"The small crew that was already in place at CITI was pretty tight so when Howard came over, there was a lot of tension," he says over the phone from Quebec. "At that time, the university station was way outside the box so we didn't know how he was going to fit in."

Any doubts in that regard dissipated within a matter of days, DiMonte recollects.

"What we soon discovered about Howard was that he had a passion for music that was palpable -- you could cut it with a knife. We ended up becoming a really solid team."

"It was an unbelievable time," Mandshein agrees. "Everybody there was a music guy, we'd go to all the shows together, drugs were in abundance -- it was nothing short of an adventure."

It was also a time when Mandshein began forging his reputation as a meticulous researcher.

"I don't know if it was insecurity or not, but to use a sports analogy, I always felt like that guy on the fourth line in hockey who only gets a 30-second shift every once in a while. Anytime I was on air, I took the approach that somebody out there was listening for the first time and that I'd better do my best to win them over."
Despite Mandshein's own misgivings in regards to his talent, DiMonte says it was evident from that start that H was a force to be considered.

"Even today, Howard is still one of this country's most knowledgeable, hardest-working and best broadcasters.

"And as good as he is at his work, he's an even better man," he gushes. "He has never gotten even close to the credit that he deserves."

Mandshein's first go-round with CITI ended in 1986 ("I've never been fired," he explains with a grin. "There were only times when management didn't get me.") He eventually landed on his feet across town at 97.5 FM, where he soon came into his own as the nightly host of The Howard Hour.

"It was an absolute blast. I had carte blanche. And anytime you have a green light in commercial radio, you've got to be thankful," he says.

Mandshein's tenure at POWER lasted for eight years. In 1996, he made the move back to CITI, where he continues to preach from the rock 'n' roll pulpit every Sunday morning as host of the Sunday Morning Resurrection (6 a.m. to noon). H can also be heard on CITI Wednesdays through Fridays, from 7 p.m. to midnight, and again on Saturday mornings.

Mandshein has also since returned to his old stomping booth at the University of Manitoba as host of Free Range Radio (Mondays, 6:30-8 p.m.). It's a refreshing atmosphere, he says, to be around "kids" half his age.

"It helps me stay on top of things. There's always a network of people saying, 'Howard, you have got to check this out.'"

Mandshein's experience in the industry is relied upon by a group of colleagues who tend to view him as a reference tool.
"There's a lot of 'Did you ever see these guys?' or 'Tell me about that show.' What people must understand is that I've lost a few cells along the way."

Station manager Jared McKetiak addresses the question of what business a commercial jock has of working in a predominantly underground environment.

"I guess that would be the instant perception, kind of 'Why is he here?' But when you hear Howard do interviews, you realize that he's one of 'us.'"

McKetiak notes that the toughest part about working with Mandshein was getting past his own perception of the man.

"For about a year I was a producer on his show and in the beginning I was somewhat apprehensive," he says. "I grew up in a small town where the only two radio stations I listened to were 97.5 and 92. So, it was a bit daunting to suddenly work alongside a so-called Winnipeg radio legend," he says.

"But as soon as we met, Howard was very open to any ideas that I wanted to bring to the table. That's always been the thing that's most remarkable to me; despite everything that he's accomplished, Howard has no trace of an ego whatsoever."

Mandshein agrees that 30 years in the same market is almost unheard of in the radio business. Not that there haven't been times when greener pastures beckoned.

"Over the years, I've had people approach me saying, 'Howard, I've got a job for you at this or that station.'

"I don't know why I never left, to be honest. I don't really have family here anymore. Maybe Winnipeg's just my security blanket. Or maybe it's simply a case of no guts."
Terry DiMonte is quick to dismiss both of his chum's excuses.

"Here's one of the things about Howard that I've learned through the years. Even if he had the opportunity to leave, he never would," he says. "He might tell you he was going to go because staying didn't dovetail with his ambitious or intelligent side, but Howard knows down deep that he would never leave.

"He is as much a North End kid as the MacLean brothers, as Burton is," says DiMonte.

"That city is part of the fabric of his life."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

film - Jarhead

Based on the recent book of the same name, this is the other Gulf War film, after Three Kings, and it's vastly inferior.

As the good guys drive to camp in Saudi Arabia, one of them comments on how bogus the war is and that it's really about protecting the oil. And he quips about how the US armed Saddam Hussein. Despite this brief scene, the film doesn't come across as being anti-war.

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While this film is based on actual memoirs, there's no plot and you get a sense that you've seen it all before:
*the typically brutal drill sargeant at boot camp
*the harrowing training
*the usual male-bonding military rituals
*the lowest-common denominator language and interests of the restless marines, awaiting action in the gulf.

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I kept on waiting for the story to unfold with some items of interest. Instead, this film is a collection of observations. Witness the bulletin board in the camp with, plastered with photos of women who have left their soldier men for other men (collectively known as "Jody"), with warnings and insults scrawled on the photos. I didn't realize that the metal drums that collect latrine waste are filled with fuel and burned. The scene where they stumble across a highway filled with hundreds of bomb-destroyed, charred vehicles with carbonized bodies, is jarring.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the main character, Tony Swofford while Jamie Foxx stars his leader, Sgt Sykes. The acting is all right without anyone being particularly outstanding.

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I really wanted this film to go places, but it just doesn't have much of a purpose.

film - Shopgirl

3.5 /5

There are moments in this film that seem really far fetched, but there's enough genuine heart and good acting, to more than make up for these flaws.

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Doe-eyed Mirabelle (Claire Danes, 26) is an artist who moves from Vermont to LA, and ends up working at Saks Fifth Avenue, behind the gloves counter.

While at the local laundry, scruffy, spacey, Jeremy (Jason Schwartzmann,25) strikes up a conversation that would not likely end up with him getting her phone number is real life, but the two of them end up going out. She doesn't seem smitten with him and they seem like a unlikely couple.

At work, Ray Porter (Steve Martin, 60) ends up buying a pair of long black gloves from her. In a move that would signal a potential stalker, she finds a neatly wrapped package at her apartment with her name and address. It ends up being from the gentleman who bought the gloves.

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Jeremy ends up going on the road with a rock band for a couple of months, while Ray and Mirabelle pursue a relationship. At the outset, he mentioned that he wasn't looking for anything long term and thought she understood that he just wanted someone to be with and sleep with when he wasn't out of town. She didn't quite take away the same message...

Steve Martin doesn't goof it up and his character, the wealthy software magnate, is charming and generous with his money. His understated performance recalls Bill Murray in Lost In Translation. Schwartzmann plays his character as being loopy and awkward. You've got to wonder how many elegant women like Mirabelle would be interested in someone like him, even if they are both artists. There's really no chemistry between them. Claire Danes is very good as the small town girl in the big city. She's not the most attractive woman in the film, with some of the lesser-actresses being truly stunning, like Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Pete Sampras' wife, who portarys the perfume-selling, scheming Lisa. But Danes is very watchable with her big brown eyes, quiet demure, solemn vulnerability and classic beauty.

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There's some narration in the film by Martin and some good words of redemption that philosophies Ray's mistakes with Mirabelle. Overall, an enjoyable film.

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