Schumacher's How Does the Show Go On?: An Introduction to the Theater is a lavishly-illustrated, three-dimensional, and semi-interactive book containiSchumacher's How Does the Show Go On?: An Introduction to the Theater is a lavishly-illustrated, three-dimensional, and semi-interactive book containing a detailed overview of everything from the front of the house, to the back of the house, to how to read your ticket, to explaining how Will Call works, to the assorted roles and responsibilities of the many, many people who collaborate to make a theatrical production happen.
While this is not a kid's book, it is a book that adult(s) and child(ren) could profitably work through together in anticipation of a trip to the theatre--either as a pre-teach or a follow-up (or both, based on questions that may arise in the course of the outing). Ditto for adults making a foray to the theatre. It's a clever reference that any theatre-loving family might wish to have on the shelf for those random moments where someone asks, "What's the difference again between stage left and stage right?" It would also be a great resource for any grade-level where the teacher wants to instruct students of any age on some aspect of a theatrical production. That said, school libraries could profitably place it on their shelves.
I particularly appreciated the semi-interactive nature of the book. Specifically, the fact that there were flaps to open, items (e.g., a ticket stub, costume sketches and associated swatches, stage manager's cue sheet, etc.) to examine, and even a little reinforcement exercise toward book's close were welcome additions to more traditional explanatory text and image.
On a personal note, my favorite bit was the inclusion of a brief discussion of theatre etiquette. Well played, sir! While one wishes it weren't necessary, we all know that it is as evidenced by every "curtain speech" we've ever heard, random flash, and crinkling wrapper.
My only quibble with the book is that its clever packaging--most notably the front cover that opens in the center to mimic the opening of the Act Curtain--makes this somewhat heavy book (esp. if one is reading it in bed) awkward to hold while reading. If you don't fold the right hand flap back inside behind some of the pages, you are likely to break the spine.
At $19.95 for the hardback (not sure if there is a paperback edition), this is a handy reference and would make a lovely gift for anyone--tween, teen, or adult alike....more
Martin and Tichenor's Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide for the Attention Impaired [abridged] is as hilarious as it is irreverent. As a Muggle (Martin and Tichenor's Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide for the Attention Impaired [abridged] is as hilarious as it is irreverent. As a Muggle (as opposed to a literary scholar, let alone producer, actor, or adapter of Shakespearean works for stage, screen, or sock puppet), I adored this collection. This book is as silly as it is informative, and was just the right mix of fact and frivolity in an otherwise stressful week. While it would be impossible to identify a favorite bit, I will note that even the Bibliography--which includes both reference works that actually exist as well as those that should exist--rocks. Fun, fun stuff here.
Despite co-author Austin Tichenor's inscription to us that reads, in part: "May this occupy a place of pride in your new home! (I'm thinking the bathroom.)" it's going on the shelves with other good stuff that we'll want to loan out to friends as the occasion arises.
Shameless plug: And if you enjoy this sort of thoughtfully-researched frivolity, by all means go see any of the Reduced Shakespeare productions and check out their website (complete with podcasts) at http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/ ...more
Very interesting stuff here that brings an important and understudied site out of the gray literature and into the light of day. I can't say too muchVery interesting stuff here that brings an important and understudied site out of the gray literature and into the light of day. I can't say too much here as I've recently submitted a review of same for the Society for Historical Archaeology's (SHA) book review section. However, if you're interested in history, archaeology, plantations, and redressing the conscious and unconscious muting of African American experiences past and present, then this is a must-read for you....more
This is an older book, from the 1980s, that appeared on the "giveaway" table in the Women's Restroom at work. Thank you, co-worker and declutterer, foThis is an older book, from the 1980s, that appeared on the "giveaway" table in the Women's Restroom at work. Thank you, co-worker and declutterer, for sharing this amusing analysis--complete with diagrams--of cat behavior and lists of their preferences. Cat people will get a kick out of this and non-cat people may well mistakenly interpret the presence of this book on a cat person's bookshelf as suggestive of the fact that he or she is trying to "get help" for their feline. As if. ...more
Part catalog, part biography, and parts political, social, and costume history in equal measure, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box isPart catalog, part biography, and parts political, social, and costume history in equal measure, Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box is a fun way to spend a few hours. Readers should be aware that the book complements a traveling exhibit of the author's pin collection, predominantly composed of costume jewelry, that accompanied her on trips, meetings, and speaking events throughout her tenure in politics (esp. her time as Secretary of State). The photographs are first-rate, the pin-dex (get it?) a clever addition, and the author's premise a safe and well-supported one:
As these pages illustrate, pins are inherently expressive. Elegant or plain, they reveal much about who we are and how we hope to be perceived. Styles have changed through the years, as has jewelry's role in relations between the genders and in the affairs of state. I was fortunate to serve at a time and in a place that allowed me to experiment by using pins to communicate a diplomatic message. One might scoff and say that my pins didn't exactly shake the world. To that I can reply only that shaking the world is precisely the opposite of what diplomats are placed on Earth to do (p. 161).
The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival is just that, a miscellany. What makes this quite heavy book so highly enjoyable is thThe Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival is just that, a miscellany. What makes this quite heavy book so highly enjoyable is the fact that it's less OED/reference tome and more lavishly-illustrated book of fun gin factoids and trivia. My only disappointment, and it's a truly a modest one, is that in his admittedly scatter-gun itemization of craft distilleries from around the U.S., Teacher fails to mention my personal favorite, Journeyman Distillery (Three Oaks, Michigan) whose Billberry Blackhearts Gin is the key ingredient in the most refreshing summer punch imaginable known as the English Garden. (Plus, there's a whole historic preservation/adaptive reuse of a corset factory complemented by locally-sourced botanicals, barrels, etc. that made it the total package for me.)
The book provides a summary in snippet form of author Matt Teacher's globetrotting (albeit decidedly western Europe-focused with reference to a few Australian distilleries tossed in for good measure) travels to famous bars and distilleries to chat with their proprietors about the wonderful world of gin. It also includes a few excerpts from industry publications and other short articles about gin. My personal favorite bit is his running commentary on how to convert vodka drinkers into fans of the juniper. An excerpt from an article by Erik Holzherr, outlines the six-step conversion process with benefit of the hypothetical holdout's reservations to which the gin proselytizer is provided rebuttals. Here's my personal favorite: Point: "Gin makes me think of my grandma." Rebuttal: "Your grandma sounds cool."
Long story short, for fans of any of gin's many wonderful varieties, this is an informative read that is less reference than teaser. It inspires you to learn more--not only about this particular spirit, but about the craft distillery movement, about what's local where you live, and which new gins and/or gin-based cocktails you might wish to try. The Spirit of Gin... provides citations for other more scholarly works on the topic, should that be something readers wish to pursue. The beauty of this book, however, is its highly attractive packaging, layout, its short pieces, blurbs, sidebars, and gorgeous photographs. This would make a welcome addition to any cookery/cocktail library and a perfect housewarming or shower gift for anyone setting up house (and bar)....more
By no means a fast read, Gross' House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address provided fascinating insightBy no means a fast read, Gross' House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address provided fascinating insights into the history and staying power of NYC's east side vs. west side, coop vs. condo, old money vs. new money, WASP vs. Jew factions as played out in the dog-eat-dog world of its prestige address apartment buildings. While perhaps too heavy at times on the details/antics of the residents of this particular property, the work is perhaps best summarized in the following excerpt:
The real-property embodiment of Hegel's dialectic, 15 CPW grafted the thesis of the impenetrable limestone-clad Park Avenue co-op with the antithesis of the amenity-rich glass-tower condo to forge a synthesis, a new kind of club for the newly enriched and those who aspire to join them (p. 261).
Gross' book is fascinating in its treatment of the sheer magnitude of events to be orchestrated perfectly in order to zone, permit, design, construct, and then bring such a property to market. The cast of characters--everyone from developers, investors, residents, the starchitect Robert A.M. Stern whose practice got it all down on paper--is vast and far reaching. At mid-point the book became a bit bogged down in the personal foibles of the folks involved, but I am happy to have forged through the sloggy bits.
This building, the reigning king of NYC trophy apartments, broke all sorts of records. Its first round of residents were also taking possession of their units at the same time that the fit was well and truly hitting the shan on Wall Street. Major players from Goldman Sachs, as just one example, figure prominently in the story of 15 CPW. In fact, in the fall of 2012, participants in Occupy Goldman Sachs set up shop directly across from the building for several weeks. Actors, athletes, investors, artists, and a host of accomplished business people and their families call 15 CPW home.
I enjoyed the book, founds its details and insights fascinating. The one thing that surprised me as I read it was that I imagined its developers would love for readers to drool with envy at the opulence of the building and its utter inaccessibility to the rest of us 99%ers. While Gross did a very nice job of verbally describing a building that, for security reasons, he couldn't even provide a floor plan for, in my estimation he never succeeded in giving the building a soul. In some ways, the descriptions of different developers trying to out-build and out-step the latest highest price paid/square foot reminds me of the latest Vegas hotel--nice for now, but destined to be outdated in a very short time and, equally possible, destined to be razed and replaced by "the next best thing" just as 15 CPW replaced older, smaller buildings that were of a decidedly more modest scale and met the needs of a different era. ...more
I'd go 3 1/2 stars on Richard Moreno's Nevada Curiosities as it's a great intro for this recent transplant to the Silver State. Entries are brief, ligI'd go 3 1/2 stars on Richard Moreno's Nevada Curiosities as it's a great intro for this recent transplant to the Silver State. Entries are brief, lighthearted, and many of the sites mentioned have already popped up in work-related contexts....more
Carol Leifer has enjoyed an amazing career as stand-up comedian, staff writer, speaker, producer, etc. etc. Drawing on her professional and personal eCarol Leifer has enjoyed an amazing career as stand-up comedian, staff writer, speaker, producer, etc. etc. Drawing on her professional and personal experience, she shares some witty observations and sound insights in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying. I found it sound advice for anyone in any field but, given that graduation season is upon us, I think this would make a super graduation gift for anyone--but especially a great gift for anyone working in the arts who might not have had the wealth of familial support Leifer was fortunate enough to enjoy. I also enjoyed it because this is one of a few books that reminds us that sometimes genuinely nice people do come out on top. Fun read, and it'd make a nice gift that sends just the right message to anyone who might benefit from this humorous take from an extremely hard-working, talented woman....more