I'm sorry to slam something that has moved as many people as has this collection of monologues. I also hasten to note that I'm frequently out of step...moreI'm sorry to slam something that has moved as many people as has this collection of monologues. I also hasten to note that I'm frequently out of step with the tastes of general public, so feel free to take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt....
I do NOT, in ANY way, get the merits of this book/play! What are we going to read about next -- our anuses? The spaces between our toes? Our tongues? ("My tongue, when it curls -- warmly, trustingly, joyously -- against my hard palate... brings me home to myself....")
This piece of work strikes me as the HUGEST fit of public navel-gazing (except lower down, of course) in the past 30 years -- and when you think about some of the writing we've seen in that time, that's going some. On the other hand, maybe it's the naturally-arising response to the massive cuts in NEA funding in this country:
The 15-year surge of one-man and one-woman monologues in our non-profit theatres is purely due to the fact that there's virtually no money anymore for full stage productions. Costumes, sets, and ensemble casts have given way to a solitary actor standing on stage under a single spot, in black slacks and the obligatory "gem-toned" shirt, possibly using a prop or two as s/he describes some aspect of his/her life to the audience. Many times, this is good theatre -- I don't suggest it's not. My point is that this kind of low overhead allows both the actor and the venue to make a BIT of money out of their efforts, whereas a real play no longer can.
So here's the logical extension: You can't slash overhead more than by offering a monologue, but you CAN raise attendance by making the monologue all about vaginas! Please note this bit of dialogue from "Curb Your Enthusiasm":
[Actress who got the part:] Here's to "The Vagina Monologues"!
[Manager who got her the part:] Here's to the vagina!
Recognizing the deadly forces arrayed against our American dramatists today, I hate not to support them. But my support stops short of reading -- or attending "dramatic" productions of -- irrelevant tripe. Life is just too short. (less)
I only gave it 4 stars because I COULD have lived without reading it. But it is a fascinating account, and if you like knowing that it's a big world o...moreI only gave it 4 stars because I COULD have lived without reading it. But it is a fascinating account, and if you like knowing that it's a big world out there with people doing interesting things, you'll probably enjoy this book.(less)
Joseph A. Keefe, founder of Second City Communications, has written one of the best books I’ve read on applying theatre improv techniques to business...moreJoseph A. Keefe, founder of Second City Communications, has written one of the best books I’ve read on applying theatre improv techniques to business goals. If you want to get better at: 1) really noticing to what’s going on around you, 2) thinking on your feet, 3) generating new business ideas, 4) handling crises with speed and flexibility, and 5) cooperating easily with others, this book will help. Offering skill-building exercises, specific techniques to deal with workplace challenges, and real-life examples of improv used successfully in the business world, Improv Yourself is a book you will be able to read and reread—for years, if you want! (less)
When I wrote my books (2000 and 2002), the marketing strategies that Weber describes largely didn't exist. Meanwhile time has passed, and it turns out...moreWhen I wrote my books (2000 and 2002), the marketing strategies that Weber describes largely didn't exist. Meanwhile time has passed, and it turns out these strategies don't just sell books -- they're a GREAT way of meeting interesting people and finding ideas and info you'd never have found otherwise. Weber got me excited about reading blogs (I had always assumed they were just a bunch of boring, misspelled rants -- who knew??), and then he gave me clear, concise directions for setting up blogs and communicating with other bloggers. The acid test: I've always hated marketing, but if this is "marketing," BRING IT ON! Great job, Mr. Weber!(less)
How could Southwest Airlines achieve 23 consecutive years of record revenues and profits while other airlines were hemorrhaging red ink? How could GE...moreHow could Southwest Airlines achieve 23 consecutive years of record revenues and profits while other airlines were hemorrhaging red ink? How could GE produce refrigerator compressors at a cost substantially less than its foreign competitors, despite an unfavorable cost differential of $15 an hour? This fascinating book suggests an answer. In 1996, authors Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden noticed that every single one of the top 15 companies listed in Fortune’s “Most Admired Corporations” were also widely recognized as exceptional places to work! Hmmmm....
Catlette and Hadden conducted a study of such companies over a ten year period, with interesting results: Compared to their top competitors, the “Contented Cow” companies consistently enjoyed big financial gains in every important way--productivity, revenues, and growth.
The book is not without its flaws. For example, Wal-Mart is listed as one of the "Contented Cow" companies--a designation that Barbara Ehrenreich's NICKEL AND DIMED ON NOT GETTING BY IN AMERICA certainly puts the lie to. Still, CONTENTED COWS makes a strong case for the connection between sound human resource management and successful financial management--a connection far more direct than many managers think. So in my opinion this book is highly relevant for today's globalized-and-outsourced Corporate America.(less)
I really like this book. Leigh Branham has done an admirable job writing a practical manual for keeping good employees. I believe any employer will fi...moreI really like this book. Leigh Branham has done an admirable job writing a practical manual for keeping good employees. I believe any employer will find scores of proven tactics they can apply at once. As Joe Bosch of Pizza Hut says: “If a company implemented just four or five of these practices, they would be significantly better at retaining talent.” Gee, making employees happy--what a concept....(less)
There are “fun at work” books, and there are “inspirational leadership” books. But I’ve never read a book like this. Maybe there isn’t one.
In 1982, a...moreThere are “fun at work” books, and there are “inspirational leadership” books. But I’ve never read a book like this. Maybe there isn’t one.
In 1982, author Dennis W. Bakke founded AES Corporation, a global energy company with revenues reaching $8.6 billion. Just your typical energy giant, but with one little difference: Their goal was to create the most fun workplace ever known!
This book is in the same category as BEN & JERRY'S: THE INSIDE SCOOP and NUTS: SOUTHWEST AIRLINES' CRAZY RECIPE FOR BUSINESS AND PERSONAL SUCCESS. The two things that make it unique are: 1) Bakke’s thoughtful analysis of the conditions contributing to a joyful workplace (and the obstacles to creating these conditions) and 2) the fascinating fact that AES was (and is) a GLOBAL corporation.
Many people have observed that “humor doesn’t cross boundaries.” This is in fact true. But laughter, joy, and fun are another matter! As Bakke says: “‘Cultural diversity,’ it would seem, tends to melt away when it comes to basic human traits.” In other words, you cannot fail by creating a positive workplace, no matter where on the globe you do it!
A must-read for anyone questioning the conventional wisdom of 21st-century corporate success. (less)
We Americans have long cherished certain images of ourselves, many of which fall under the heading, "This is How Life Should Be Lived." The problem is...moreWe Americans have long cherished certain images of ourselves, many of which fall under the heading, "This is How Life Should Be Lived." The problem is not that these images don't exist outside the US--many have never really existed for us!
Here's just one example. "Always stand on your own two feet" (ie., the Horatio Alger-like reliance on self alone). The book cites Senator Phil Gramm, co-author of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings amendment and famous for his opposition to "government handouts": Born to a father living on veterans disability pension, Gramm attended a publicly-funded university on a grant from the War Orphans Act. His graduate work was financed by the National Defense Education Act, and his first job was at a federal land-grant institution (Texas A&M University). His later work in slashing federal assistance programs for low-income Americans seems illogical to say the least--and, the book suggests, could only have met with success because of this national reverence for "standing on your own two feet."
Many aspects of our self-image as Americans are wonderful and true: Ours is a unique nation, borne of remarkable minds at a remarkable time in history, bringing admirable ideals into reality. This book suggests that we should keep our eyes open to creeping incursions into our self-image. Patriotic pride, justifiable though it may be, is a double-edged sword. "Know thyself," the Delphic Oracle said. This is as true today as it ever was.
DANG! Just like its opening character, Dr. Begley, MADICINE burst out of the gate like a shot and kept roaring down the road nonstop, with me hanging...moreDANG! Just like its opening character, Dr. Begley, MADICINE burst out of the gate like a shot and kept roaring down the road nonstop, with me hanging on for dear life. Fortunately, the book lasted longer than Begley. (That's not a spoiler -- all kinds of people kick the bucket before the story's finished.)
Taking the time-honored formulas of classical crime thrillers and adding his own brand of quirky irreverence, Armstrong has created a constantly moving tale of intrigue, greed, monstrosity, and evil. With prose that comes alive and some pretty damned unforgettable characters, MADICINE is one of those books many will hate finishing. (less)
Never schooled in finance myself, I am admittedly not someone whose opinion you want to rely on in this matter. Nonetheless, I am offering it, for one...moreNever schooled in finance myself, I am admittedly not someone whose opinion you want to rely on in this matter. Nonetheless, I am offering it, for one reason: Since its 2007 publication, many of the alarming economic predictions in this book have come to pass exactly as described.
I don't suggest that Ms. Brown is a prophet -- virtually everything in her book is drawn from other sources (and scrupulously cited) -- but simply that she has got her facts straight. This being the case, her book should be read by anyone who wants a modicum of understanding of our global financial situation. It should also, I think, be required reading for everyone in the Legislature.
In reading this book, I was amazed at how coherently the monetary system could be described to a lay person. I'd never have guessed, from all the boring, jargon-filled discourses of our venerable "financial experts," that this was an issue that could be addressed in common sense language. And before anyone thinks I'm just some lay person who is delighted to understand SOMETHING about global finance and hasn't analyzed the data: I have in fact heard and read many arguments against the salient points in this book. I've also posted questions to some of them online -- in particular, about tallies and local currencies, two alternatives Ms. Brown mentions. I've been fascinated to see that no one so far has even acknowledged my questions, even though both tallies and local currencies have long been used with great success in many places in the world up to the present time. Instead, people more informed than I continue to call for "a return to the Gold Standard," a system guaranteeing scarcity and inflation, as far as I can see. It seems that the human urge to ignore "the Emperor's clothes" continues even into this current historic economic crisis. We humans hate considering a new paradigm. And so we continue along the old routes, keeping the major players in their jobs and the current structures afloat, despite their catastrophic track record and the alarming future staring us in the face.
I think it's worth pointing out that this book is strongly supported by world-renown economist Bernard Lietaer, among other high-profile financial and economic experts. These are people who know what they're talking about, and they believe Ms. Brown does, too. Some people may scoff at Ms. Brown, but I can't see how her supporters can be easily dismissed.
The information in this book needs to be common knowledge to every citizen of every country in the world. If the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, so is the price of financial freedom. The economic crisis did not start in 2008. Its roots are deep and far-spreading -- it is the logical result of a centuries-long systemic shell game. We could cut the taproot if we only identified it correctly. Then, with the right steps, we could create a flourishing garden. I wonder if we will ever do so.(less)
**spoiler alert** I'm intrigued by how many people give meager ratings to this book because they "hate Rabbit." I wonder if they're mostly people born...more**spoiler alert** I'm intrigued by how many people give meager ratings to this book because they "hate Rabbit." I wonder if they're mostly people born after, say, 1970, so they don't immediately see what Baby Boomers see at a glance: Rabbit is an eerily perfect analogy for the America of his time. Hermoine Lee wrote that Rabbit, Run "is the most metaphorical writing in American fiction, except for Melville's." And the metaphor is so perfect that, if you're personally acquainted with the original, you occasionally want to bang the book against your head.
Rabbit is about 10 years older than me -- the generation between me and my parents -- and, yes, I actually find him extremely unlikable. Let's face it, the guy's a walking id -- big strapping golden boy, glorying in the athleticism that came so easily to him and was anyway more generally admired than intellect -- he has a HUGE sense of entitlement with a correspondingly low sense of responsibility. The world is his $5.99 (in current dollar value) all-you-can-eat buffet. Or it's supposed to be, but has somehow stopped being, which is the source of Rabbit's pain and resentment. With few resources (and little desire) for analysis, he follows every impulse toward the easy gratifications he expects from life. He gets in the car and leaves his pregnant wife -- but turns around before the territory becomes too new. He seeks out the high school basketball coach, who loved him in the old days before losing his job in an unidentified "scandal," and puts Rabbit up for a bit in his seedy room over a boxing joint. The coach introduces Rabbit to a prostitute who falls in love with him and lets him move in. He stays with her until he hears his wife has had their baby, and then leaves her, also pregnant.
Through all this, yes, Rabbit does demonstrate a certain sincerity -- even when he's at his most self-serving. But I don't think this is Updike's way of trying to make him "lovable." Apparently, Updike considered this character his most fun of all to write, and I'm pretty sure that's because it was so interesting to show how a certain kind of buffoonery can do so much damage. In the sequels, Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest, each showing Rabbit a decade after the other, we get to see the logical outcome of Rabbit's (and America's) peculiar brand of irresponsibility.
If you hate Rabbit, then you know why so many Americans of his time pushed "hippie" things like feminism, civil rights, the EPA, alternative health practices, consumer protection, etc., etc., etc. They hated the guy, too.(less)
I don't jump on every alternative medicine bandwagon, but I do regard our American "health care" system with a bit of a jaundiced eye. To me, a for-pr...moreI don't jump on every alternative medicine bandwagon, but I do regard our American "health care" system with a bit of a jaundiced eye. To me, a for-profit system has built-in conflicts of interest. Drs. Walker and Shah make a cogent and powerful case that this may be so regarding chelation therapy.
And indeed, after reading the book I called a local MD who is a chelation therapist, and learned that 1) the therapy wasn't covered under my (quite comprehensive) healthcare plan, and yet 2) there was a 5-week waiting period to get in to see him. In other words, many many people are apparently choosing this form of therapy even though they must pay for it themselves.
This, taken together with the fact that chelation is used extensively in virtually every Western country other than the US, with 2,000 studies supporting its use, makes a pretty strong argument that it quite possibly IS a very effective alternative remedy that is being blocked by our healthcare system. One can only speculate as to why.(less)
There’s a reason why T.R. Reid’s book, published three years ago, continues to enjoy a very nice sales ranking on amazon. With great humor and intelli...moreThere’s a reason why T.R. Reid’s book, published three years ago, continues to enjoy a very nice sales ranking on amazon. With great humor and intelligence, Reid describes: 1) many of the developments leading up to the formation of the EU; 2) some of its early achievements (read especially Chapters 3 and 4, “The Almighty Undollar” and “Welch’s Waterloo”); and 3) the future implications of a unified Europe both for the US and the world. Much of the work comes from events Reid has witnessed firsthand as a Washington Post correspondent and NPR commentator, the rest from some pretty comprehensive research. Rolf Dobelli, PhD and Chairman of getAbstract.com, “[recommends] this book to managers of U.S. companies that have European offices and to anyone interested in contemporary international relations.” Granted, that may not be the zippy, exuberant rave you’d expect from an American reviewer, but if this book is correct we’d all better start getting used to a little European understatement! Highly recommended for everyone to read—the sooner the better.(less)
Milly R. Sonneman has really done it: written a book that demonstrates in easy, concrete steps that anyone can draw well enough to enhance their commu...moreMilly R. Sonneman has really done it: written a book that demonstrates in easy, concrete steps that anyone can draw well enough to enhance their communication skills!
Sonneman takes you through initially simple and then progressively more advanced steps that can teach any person--in spite of self-doubts--how to make compelling drawings that will clarify ideas and make them more interesting. If you have any doubts that this book can help YOU, just have a look at the reader reviews on amazon!(less)
Unlike many of the people who, to my great surprise, give this book low ratings, I had no feelings of disgust or outrage toward it at all. This may be...moreUnlike many of the people who, to my great surprise, give this book low ratings, I had no feelings of disgust or outrage toward it at all. This may be because I expected it to be neither a scientific work nor some sort of feminist Word Of God. I simply found the topic interesting, the quality of her work acceptable on all counts, and some of her experiences quite surprising (yet resonant).
The most valuable insights I gained from this book are what she herself expressed as the two biggest surprises she encountered:
1) Among other things, she had expected to finally see what the "privileged" position of males in our society was really like. For the main part, she experienced no great privileges.
2) As a part of the "inner circle" of boys-only, she expected to hear numerous open expressions of disrespect for women. To the contrary, she was struck by the deep devotion many of the men -- even sexist Joe Six-Packs -- felt toward the women in their lives.
These two insights were alone worth the price of the book, although there was much else that was eye-opening. The crappy way she was treated by the straight women she tried to date was amusing in a macabre sort of way. (And yes, that too resonated. Unlike some of the other reviewers here, I deeply regret to say that I AM acquainted with many women who fit these descriptions.) In addition, the moment-to-moment harassment of men to keep them in their "masculine" roles was news to me. Yet, once more, it rang completely true as I examined it.
When she ended the book by declaring, "I'm glad to be a woman," I thought perhaps I heard the a faint trumpeting of the end of the "Lifetime Television" era of victim-based feminism. THAT would work for me in a BIG way.(less)