War is a funny thing. That's what Vonnegut would have us believe. He is right. He also realizes that there is nothing funny about war. It's a conflict...moreWar is a funny thing. That's what Vonnegut would have us believe. He is right. He also realizes that there is nothing funny about war. It's a conflicting juxtaposition and yet it is true.
Armageddon in Retrospect sat in the to-be-read pile for a good long while. I haven't read much Vonnegut since school, when probably about 9 out of 10 Vonnegut readers read his work, but I do enjoy reading him. Nonetheless, I dreaded this. The title alone told me it would be dreary and the title, for the most part, didn't lie. That's not to say Vonnegut doesn't bring the funny. He almost always does, however, most of the stories compiled herein are about war, often about his experiences in Dresden. The bombing of Dresden in WWII was tragic. As much as Vonnegut tries to spin some bitter-sweet humor off of this topic, the bitterness always remains in the sour undercurrent.
Starting with an interesting intro from his son, there's a speech, a letter from young Vonnegut to his family and about a dozen short stories. About half of those stories are about a captured prisoner or a people under a conquering army's subjugation. Apparently this was the sum of the author's wartime experience. Making sense of it all, coming to grips with this new reality and that of his own country's disregard for innocent life comprises much of the subject matter. It is essentially Slaughter House Five played out again in variation.
One story, "The Unicorn Trap" steps well outside of the WWII setting, sending us back to peasant life in 1067 England. However, it's the same old, same old, this time with the Normans as conquerors.
Armageddon in Retrospect was the first thing published after his death and that always rings morbid. The overall mood brings my rating down to 3 stars, but Vonnegut's superb writing and humor save the day, as usual, and so I'll go with 4 stars.
What is it about this monkey that so enthralls readers? This introductory story by Rey is not terribly...more * Read and reviewed by me and my niece Emma *
What is it about this monkey that so enthralls readers? This introductory story by Rey is not terribly memorable or particularly exciting, yet the kids are drawn to it, I absolutely love it and my niece - a first time reader/listener - was mesmerized.
For those who forget what happens in this first Curious George book, a poacher the Man With The Big Yellow Hat captures George in the wild, illegally keeps him in his city apartment, smokes a pipe with him, neglects to give him proper care so that George goes bad and ends up in prison, and then gets transported to the zoo, a slightly less dreary internment.
As you see, it's a mean streets existence for our little simian friend.
He's taken from one jungle and forced into another. The society he inhabits changes, but his habits within society do not. George, you see, is curious. Some would call it his one great failing. He likes to check things out and that gets him into trouble. If it weren't for his curiosity he never would've been captured in the first place. And that right there is why we become entranced by Curious George.
But why the fascination in the first place? Why did my niece see the cover of this book and decide "this one!"? My guess is that, well, who doesn't love a monkey? In the past, when Emma has done something silly and flopped about all crazy like kids do, I would occasionally call her a monkey. So I think she just was curious to see what her brethren were up to. These days she also has a strong interest in chickenbutt and getting people people to answer "what" to her question "Guess what?!". Rest assured, I am doing yoeman's work in the uncle department. But I digress...
Other than that she liked it, Emma didn't have much to say about Curious George when we finished, yet she was riveted the whole way through. Heck, I didn't even do funny voices and her eyes were still glued to the pages. I have no doubt she'll want to return to the adventures of Curious George in the future and I will be happy to! George is my dawg! He was my favorite stuffed animal as a child. I carried him all the way up a mountain in a tiny backpack as boy no older than 4-year-old Emma, because I couldn't bare to leave him behind. George and I were inseparable and I wouldn't be surprised if he found a new bestie in my niece.
Are you prepared for the excitement of reading a review about a book about fish? Well, strap yourselves in for a wild ride, folks!*
Why write a book ab...moreAre you prepared for the excitement of reading a review about a book about fish? Well, strap yourselves in for a wild ride, folks!*
Why write a book about cod? Why read it? Simple. Without you probably knowing it, cod has been one of the most important parts of our diets over the last thousand years. Without it, long distance sea exploration in medieval times (the era, not the ren fair) would've been just about impossible.
Cod is a particularly unique fish, eating just about anything and spawning like crazy. It's the frickin' rabbit of the sea! A single cod (well, a single cod who has "coupled") can produce millions of eggs. Once full-grown, the cod has virtually no predators. And yet we still managed to nearly fish it to extinction.
Though he does spend some time on the history, a very interesting history indeed, much of Kurlansky's book is about how man recently almost wiped the cod off the face of the earth...or to be specific, netted it off the bottom of the ocean. Cod spends many of its pages devoted to the current crisis, looking at it from the variant points of view: fishermen, the governments controlling the waters and the catch, and the public's ravenous demand for this tasty dish.
Prehaps Cod won't appeal to everyone, but it is written with a sense of humor, gives tons of interesting facts (good pub quiz fodder!), includes recipes interspersed through out and, most importantly, it's short. My interest is probably stronger than most in that I was born and raised in Massachusetts, where Cape Cod has been vital to our way of life. Fish-n-chip shacks were in every little village, even out in the sticks where I lived (45 minutes away from the coast and Boston is considered "the sticks" in Massachusetts). With the important fishing tradition of Gloucester, Maine, etc., so strongly engrained, most New Englanders grow up thinking of cod as a synonym for fish.
Cod is one of those books that most readers will pass up, but the few who do pick it up will be surprised at the high entertainment value and wealth of easily digestible knowledge to be obtained.
* Okay, so you didn't really need to strap yourselves in...this time! But you never know what's to come and hey, safety first!(less)
On the spine, the title is written so that the words "The Complete" and "Guide to" are very small indeed, so small in fact that when reading the title...moreOn the spine, the title is written so that the words "The Complete" and "Guide to" are very small indeed, so small in fact that when reading the title from a few feet away it appears as if this book is called Idiot's Playing the Guitar. I kinda wanna read that book.
I'm not saying this is a bad book, not in the least! However, it's still a boring old text, regardless of the Idiot's Guide's attempt to fun-it-up with some "kooky" cartoons. Nonetheless, if you're picking up a guitar for the first time, you could do worse than to make this your beginner's go-to text...believe me. The only book I had while learning was one that was nothing more than page after page of chords, hundreds of diagrams of hands on the fretboard. No how, what or why ever explained. This one does a very good at walking you through the basics.
It begins with a bit of history, moves on to explain what a guitar is (remember this is an Idiot's Guide), gives you tips on what to look for when buying a guitar, as well as advice on how you're going to be handling your ax (<- That's rock-n-roll slang for guitar, kids!) and then proceeds to the actual playing of music.
You can learn the musical staff if you wish (and if you're plaining a professional career in music you absolutely should), but if you're just learning to play for fun or starting a band with friends, tablature - the guitarist's cheat sheet - is provided for every song included in the book for practice.
Every chapter has a half-page section called "Guitar Gods," in which they give a brief rundown of a virtuoso. And it's not just all about popular rock guitar gods either. The book has various sections detailing a number of different styles of music in which the guitar plays a prominent role, and each of those "Guitar Gods" sections includes relevant players to that style.
I'm trying to figure out how I came into possession of this one. My edition is from 2002. That's about 14 years after this kind of basic, intro to guitar playing info would've been helpful to me. I bet my brother bought it and it ended up in my collection when he moved and unloaded some of his crap on me. Oh well, this might actually come in handy. My teenage-aged dreams of being a rock legend have slipped away, but now and then I occasionally like to bust out with "Iron Man," but I am admittedly quite rusty. Running through the songs herein might help oil the ol' finger joints. Plus, I never did learn the flamenco style...Oh good lord, if I learned flamenco my woman would want to make the sweet, passionate love to me all the day and all the night! I'm not sure I've got the cojones for that...(less)