Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Newest James Bond Film Review

. Wednesday, February 11, 2009

by Don Robert

The newest James Bond film "Quantum of Solace" is a direct sequel to Casino Royale. In this movie, Bond is after two people - the man who killed and betrayed his former love Vesper Lynd and Dominic Greene, a member of the organization that black mailed Lynd.

The movie opens with a breath taking car chase followed by a roof top foot chase across that showcases the spectacular views of Sienna. This opening sequence sets the tone of the whole movie as the action sequences are dynamic even if they draw a slight comparison to Bourne movies.

Bond promptly finds out that Greene is a greedy tycoon that is trying to control the vast water resource of South America under the guise of environmental protection. Following his trail, Bond saves a mysterious yet gorgeous woman, Camille, from an attempted suicide. It turns out that Camille is Greene's mistress and she carries a grudge with his former lover so the two of them team up to take down their common foe.

Quantum of Solace is very different from Casino Royale and the rest of the other Bond installments. The movie seem to focus more on the action and it is surprising that less emphasis is given to the narrative since director Marc Foster is known for thought provoking films like "The Kite Runner" and "Finding Neverland."

Fans of the series will likely be disappointed as gadget guru does not make an appearance in this movie. This means that the unique gadgets that are commonly associated with James Bond are replaced by more conventional weapons like guns and the like.

More shocking is that for the first time, the line "The name's Bond, James Bond" is not used. This departure form the norm signals that the Bond franchise is being reborn into something that is less fantasy and more reality.

Make no mistake about it. This is not your typical movie about England's favorite spy. Daniel Craig makes the character his own as his portrayal of the charismatic spy is very different from the ones that Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan portrayed.

Bond is not shown as cool, glamorous and sexy. Rather, he is shown as very cold and brooding killing machine. This move on the part of the director is a huge gamble since humanness and raw emotion are not the typical traits that fans of the franchise is used to. Another potential problem that can be seen is that since the movie is a direct sequel to Casino Royal, fans need to watch the first movie in order to firmly grasp the weight of the story. If you missed the first movie, some of the plot lines will become less effective and the key points in the narrative of the script will be missed.

However, this does not mean that fans of the franchise as well as casual fans will not enjoy this movie. The action scenes alone made the author of this newest James Bond Film review stay stuck in his seat and enjoy the movie in its entirety.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Best Book of 2007 Revealed - A Thousand Splendid Suns

. Monday, February 9, 2009

By Mitchell Blatt

Khaled Hosseini came out of nowhere in 2003, to write The Kite Runner, a book that rose to #3 on the New York Times bestseller list and sold 4 million copies worldwide.

The Kite Runner was a moving story of a boy's battle within himself about truth, loyalty, and doing the right thing. It also brough to Americans a chilling picture of Afghanistan in a time when Afghanistan was so important to US policy.

The success of the Kite Runner naturally made Hosseini's next novel A Thousand Splendid Suns a tough act to follow. By now, having reached the top five of the New York Times bestseller list, and having reached #1 of Amazon's top 100 books of 2007, it is safe to say that Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns was a success.

Here's what Amazon had to say in chosing A Thousand Splendid Suns as their top rated book:

"No one doubted that Khaled Hosseini's second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, would get a lot of attention when it came out in May. After all, there were four million copies of the author's previous book, The Kite Runner, on bookshelves across the world. And as soon as early copies started circulating here, we knew that it would live up to every expectation. A story of friendship between two women that complements the tale of two boys in his first book, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a compelling drama of personal and national tragedy weighted equally with despair and grave hope, and we have chosen it as the best book of 2007."

The rest of the top 10 books of 2007:

2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

4. The World Without Us - Alan Weisman

5. The Dangerous Book for Boys - Conn Iggulden

6. Heartsick - Chelsea Cain

7. Tree of Smoke - Denis Johnson

8. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier - Ishmael Beah

9. Better - Atul Gawande

10. I Am America (And So Can You!) - Stephen Colbert

For more info or to purchase these books:
A Thousand Splendid Suns (
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (
The World Without Us... and Any of the Other Books (

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Kabul - The Kite Runner


By John Parks

The Kite Runner is a complex story written by Khaled Hosseini where simple yet heinous events occur in a backdrop of social and economic upheaval in Kabul, Afghanistan. It is a story of guilt and cowardice and soul-searching and redemption in the life of Amir. However, even with such overt plot lines and possible morals, there is an underlying current spoken in the fine detail with which the author writes that subtly illustrates a common mantra: You can never go home.

Placed for the most part in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, The Kite Runner introduces the reader first to an idyllic life of innocence. Kabul is a peaceful city ideal for raising a family. The buildings are neat and orderly even in their haphazard layout, and there is a sense of community and unity among its residents. It also showcases the once-popular sport of "Kite Fighting," where contestants try to sever the string of their opponents kite. To the victor goes the spoils (the kite), though of course, someone must run to get it. In the book, kite fighting brings neighbors together in playful competition, and we find that the sport spans generations, as Amir's father reveals a prize kite he won when he was a child. We get a glimpse at how Kabul 's well-to-do treat their children, their servants, and each other. We get a strong sense of social order and stability.

The story also offers a first hand account of the social and political turmoil that the Soviet invasion wrought upon the entire country. This is when Amir and his father are forced to flee Afghanistan , and eventually settle in the United States.

However, when circumstance and his conscience require Amir as a young man to return briefly to Kabul , we see an entirely different city. Many of the buildings are broken or destroyed, as befitting a place ravaged by war and preserved by the subsequent economic downturn. What remains of Kabul is dirty and disheveled.

The sense of community that was once prevalent is now non-existent. There is at first a sense of 'every man for himself' where closed doors and windows greet Amir, and any aid he receives during his brief stay must be done in secret. There is no more kite fighting (the Taliban banned the sport, which inspired the kernel of the idea of the story for the author, who was himself an avid kite fighter in Kabul once). However as we see more of the city, we are given a glimpse of even darker times, where neighbor betrays neighbor to the ruling Taliban, and barbarous acts are committed in the name of zealotry. This is not the Kabul Amir remembers, certainly. And after even a few days, it becomes clear that this is not his home. The home of Amir's childhood does not exist anymore, and there is no returning to it.

And that is perhaps the irony, because the same could be said of any town, any homecoming, to a lesser degree. By contrasting the changes in Kabul then and now, the author emphasizes the commonality of change over time, and suddenly Kabul becomes our town, and Afghanistan becomes our country, and Amir becomes us, a tourist in our own hometown. Indeed, even when you can go home, you can never truly go home.

For more information on Kabul, visit and

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Power Kiting the First Steps


By James Roberts

OK so you have bought yourself a 3 meter kite and a buggy and you’re itching to get out on the beach and ride the wind.

Stop there….leave the buggy at home and buy a 2 meter kite!

Although it’s tempting to go out and do it it’s not pleasant finding yourself dragged sideways a long a beach by a kite with the power of a 250cc outboard motor or even worse lifted into the air to be then smashed heavily down onto the beach smashing both yourself and the buggy in the process.

When starting out you have to learn how to use the kite. That’s where a 2 meter kite is useful. Even a child can control one in light winds and when the wind gets up it will drag a 200 lb adult along.

The basic method of starting off is to lay the kite on the ground and walk backwards into the wind extending the lines. Once fully extended with kite full of wind you give a tug and the kite takes off…..and probably so do you.

A safer initial approach:

When you have your kite down on the beach the first thing is to LEAVE IT IN THE BAG. In any sort of wind as soon as the kite is out you’re fighting with it.

Ask someone to accompany you on your first few flights.

Get them to hold the kite within the bag while you extend the lines ACROSS the wind. At 90 degrees to the wind the point of lowest power you will have much more control of the kite once it starts flying.

Check all lines are clear and ask your helper to remove the kite from the bag. Even at 90 degrees to the wind the kite will “find the wind” and inflate.

If your using a four line kite the kite actually flies on the top two lines. The bottom two are “brake line” basically when the kite is in the air if you want to de power the kite or drop it you gently haul back on the bottom lines and the kite stalls and drops.

When your ready ask your helper to release the kite and making sure that the brake lines are slack fly the kite at 45 degrees across the wind until it is directly above you.

In that the position the kite will have maximum lift and almost zero traction. Get a feel for the kite. Pull gently n the brake lines and watch how the kite starts to drop.

Ok lets move the kite:

Pull gently back on the left hand top line. The kite will start to move to the left. Pull back on the right line the kite moves back to the zenith. Try going right.

OK lets land the kite.

Fly the kite slowly at 45 degrees to the location of your helper and as you approach pull back on the brake lines. The kite will settle down to the ground.

Congratulations you can handle a power kite!

Next step a 3 meter kite ..then a 5 then….

James Roberts an avid Power Kiter and Buggy Rider.

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Kite Festival


By Eddie Tobey

Kite flying is an extremely popular sport in China, India, Japan, Thailand and several other countries. 'Kite fights' are held in numerous countries, where kite fighters try to cut competitors’ kites down or tear them if possible. Kite fighters pass their strings through an amalgam of glue and ground glass powder, making it more potent and liable to cut the strings of competing kites. This practice can be hazardous, since the strings also have the potency to injure people.

A kite competition is known as “Gudiparan Bazi” in Afghanistan. Before the start of the war in the country, “Gudiparan Bazi” was a hobby for many Afghans. From the beautiful designs of the kites, which came in several shapes, to the making of the “tar” (wire), it was a matter of prestige to compete for the title of the best kite fighter in the neighborhood. This sport became a means of escapism for Afghans during the troubled times of the war.

In India, the festival of Makar Sankranti is involved with flying kites. Celebrated every January 14, you can see million of kites all over North India. It is particularly popular in the state of Gujarat, where the festival is a public holiday.

The Japan Kite Association organizes a gathering of kite fliers every year at Uchinada. The ""traditional"" festivals here are centered on one geographical area and one type of kite. This festival, however, attracts kites and fliers from all over the country.

The kite-flying event at Weifang, China, attracts competitors from all over China, and some from the rest of the World. This festival witnesses an amazing diversity of handcrafted kites. Numerous international competitors are also present.

The Thai Kite Heritage Group organizes a kite-flying event of international stature every two years on the Royal Palace’s polo field. It is no overstatement to call the festival "majestic".

Kites ( provides detailed information on Kite, Kite Festival, Kite Surfing, Stunt Kite and more. Kites is affiliated with Free Jigsaw Puzzles (

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How to Make a Kite


By Andy Duframe

The best methods and materials for making kites haven't really changed much over the last 2500 years. Ancient kite makers knew their craft well, and few people today can rival the magnificent kites that were made back then. Still, most basic kite designs are fairly easy to build if you have a little patience and enthusiasm for the project.

Kite Frames - Lightweight but Strong

Most kite builders today use plastic tubing for the main skeleton of the kite. It's lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to find. Tubing also makes it easy to connect the different parts of a kite frame, using manufactured tube joints to hold everything together. However, as you move on to more advanced designs, you might also consider a wood dowel frame made of pine, spruce, or bamboo. Some of the very large kites might even use aluminum rods for added strength.
The most important aspect of a kite frame is balance, and that means making sure the overall shape is in perfect symmetry. Be careful to measure and cut exact lengths for all frame pieces, and keep consistent joinery methods throughout the project. This will help maintain an equal distribution of weight across the kite.

Kite Cover Material - Durability and Buoyancy

Just as in ancient times, silk remains the premium material for covering a kite frame. Silk is light, pliant, and extremely buoyant, a rare combination of features that is difficult to find in any other material. Yet, silk has enough drawbacks (like tearing, price, and availability) that most modern day kite makers prefer synthetic materials, like polyethylene, mylar, dacron, and Tyvek. The plastic coverings can be secured with cellulose tape or glue, and the synthetic nylon varieties can be sewn with needle and thread.

Kite Knots - Keeping it all Together

Most people don't think much about tying knots, but for kite builders who have spent countless hours in the shop creating a work of art, this is an essential part of protecting their investment. A gusty wind creates an enormous amount of pull on a Dacron line, and a faulty knot will quickly send a kite off into the horizon. Learn just a few of the most popular knots, and you'll never have to chase a kite down again.

See my favorite Kite Plans (

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