The first edition of Complete Idiot's Guide to Bridge
by H. Anthony Medley was the fastest
selling beginning bridge book, going through more than 10 printings.
Second Edition includes some modern advanced bidding systems and
conventions, like Two over One, a system used by many modern
tournament players, Roman Key Card Blackwood, New Minor
Forcing, Reverse Drury, Forcing No Trump, and others.
Also included is a detailed Guide to
Bidsand Responses, along with the most detailed, 12-page
Glossary ever published, as well as examples to make learning the game
even easier. Click book to order.
by Tony Medley
Runtime 162 minutes.
OK for children.
James Cameron generally gets the bang for his
bucks, even though the bucks are mind-boggling. This fascinating sci-fi
adventure took four years to produce. There is very little wasted on
speeches about people contemplating their navels. Cameron’s films are
action films and they proceed apace.
There are really two stories when you go to see
Avatar. The first is that Jake Scully (Sam Worthington), a
wheelchair-bound former marine, goes to Pandora, a moon with an
Earthlike environment 4.4 light years away, to work for a company mining
a mineral key to resolving Earth’s22nd Century energy crisis. Because earthlings can’t
breathe in Pandora’s environment, the company has created avatars to go
out into the environment. The consciousness of Jake and chief scientist
Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) are transferred to two avatars,
so the avatars think and react like Jake and Grace. In fact, they are
Jake and Grace in different bodies.
There’s a bad guy, Col Miles Quaritch (Stephen
Lang), and a love interest for Jake among the native Na’vi, Neytiri (Zoë
Saldana). All the minerals are on Na’vi sacred land, so the company
wants to destroy all the trees to get the minerals. Once Jake ventures
forth as an avatar, unexpected things happen.
Cameron, who worships at the altar of Al Gore's "An
Inconvenient Truth," made this as a roman à thèse, about indigenous
people being taken advantage of by alien invaders with more advanced
technology. This is a terrific point, witness how the native Americans
were overwhlemed by Europeans (Cortez conquered the Aztec with 500 men,
13 horses and a few small cannons). Unfortunately (although perhaps
understandably for someone who buys Gore's pitch), he pictures
Americans as bad guys. This was not necessary. The invaders could have
been extra-national. Even so, my feeling is that
Cameron's intended anti-American political message should be ignored, because it's not
essential to the enjoyment of the story.
The second story is how it was all put together.
Are the avatars and the Na’vi real actors or animation? This is where
true movie making science is at least as interesting as the movie
itself. All the scenes were filmed with real actors as the avatars and
Na’vi. But after all the scenes were shot with the human actors, the
animators got involved and converted, I guess is the best word, all the
actors' actions and movements, into the alien creatures of Pandora. When
you see an avatar or Na’vi make an eye movement, for example, that’s the
exact eye movement that the real actor made in the studio. The avatars
and Na’vi are such realistic creatures that one never thinks of them as
cartoons, or anything but real creatures.
The locale for the film is a lush tropical
rainforest in the mountains. It looks astonishingly real, but it is all
Filmed in mind-blowing IMAX
3-D, the story is so entertaining that I soon paid little attention to
the 3-D. It’s a rip snorting tale until the final dénouement, which went
on too long and strains credulity to the breaking point, even for
sci-fi. Even though the entire story is fantasy, it’s Cameron’s talent
that he creates it in such a way that it is believable…until the final