A good introduction to the life and influence of a woman whose unpleasant and vile legacy still bears rotten fruit. Weiss is, of course, more balanced...moreA good introduction to the life and influence of a woman whose unpleasant and vile legacy still bears rotten fruit. Weiss is, of course, more balanced than this introductory sentence of mine. But the book does a good job of showing how Rand's economic and philosophical teachings are at the heart of the Tea Party and other conservative policies, having conquered the world through her devoted disciple, Alan Greenspan. If you want to understand the conservative movement and the polucy decisions of our government, yiu need to understand Ayn Rand.(less)
Before 2008 I didn’t know much about Tina Fey. I only watched SNL intermittently before that time and watch less of it now. I knew her face from Weeke...moreBefore 2008 I didn’t know much about Tina Fey. I only watched SNL intermittently before that time and watch less of it now. I knew her face from Weekend Update, and knew she was involved in 30 Rock, but had only seen bits and pieces of the show. Yes, I was one of those people who discovered her through her Sarah Palin impression, which was astonishingly good. All that has changed. I enjoy 30 Rock and have seen most of the seasons (thanks to the library for back-seasons).
Bossypants is Fey’s memoir, partly, sort of, depending. The book ranges from personal reflections to essays on various aspects of the media, beauty, and Fey’s feminist ideals. All of it is written in a captivating, laugh-out-loud style reminiscent of Dave Barry’s newspaper columns. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to separate Fey’s observations and jokes about an event with the event itself, leaving me wondering how true all the details were. Of course, that’s not really the point of a book like Bossypants.
The most startling aspect of the book is how similar Fey’s life has been to my own. Not down into the details, of course, but I too was the first child of two people who got married late and had children even later. I too was the awkward kid at school more interested in his imaginative landscape than his homework. Most substantially, one of the most profound experiences of my life was the time I spent with the theater kids in college, just as one of Fey’s most meaningful experiences was getting a job with her local theater company. That chapter (chapter 4) was one that I understood perfectly and which revealed Fey as something of a kindred spirit. Her sense of humor is (beyond the profanity) startlingly similar to mine, and her thought processes and observations about what goes on around her was something I could completely relate to.
I’m reasonably certain we would be friends in real life.
Bossypants is an unusual portrait of an unusual woman for many reasons. One of the most satisfying is that she makes no effort to present herself as an amazing person. She is up front and candid about herself and her flaws. In this sense, though the book might be more about Fey’s perception of reality than reality itself, that perception is honest, sometimes brutally so. The book finds its way back to honesty by a circuitous route, revealing more about Fey than a memoir of most other celebrities would. And that is ultimately what makes the book such a joy.(less)
I got this book on a whim because I have read Hunter's other book (Christianity Beyond Belief) and hated it. That might seem like an odd reason to get...moreI got this book on a whim because I have read Hunter's other book (Christianity Beyond Belief) and hated it. That might seem like an odd reason to get another of the guy's books, but this one wouldn't let me go. The question in my mind was, "How does the former president of the Vineyard go Anglican?" I like Anglicans, and so the question pressed me into a corner. The essential answer is that he did really just sort of wind up in the Anglican church through a series of strange steps. He didn't go because of the liturgy, or the teaching. He went because he's a church planter, and the ACNA is wanting to plant a bunch of churches.
The good news is that Hunter is reading some folks with a bit more depth to them now that he's an Anglican. The bad (or annoying) news is that his prose is still stilted and flat, and that he is still a fan of the Wesley brothers and Dallis Willard, and he is still using The Message for his Scripture "translation." I don't know what on earth the ACNA, the conservative Anglican split-off communion, is doing giving Todd Hunter Holy Orders as a Bishop without casting his use of the Message into the deepest pit of hell, but life is a mystery. (less)
I picked this book up out of my on-going interest in the "Shakespeare Question." With its ambitious title and promised interaction with the Anti-Strat...moreI picked this book up out of my on-going interest in the "Shakespeare Question." With its ambitious title and promised interaction with the Anti-Stratfordian arguments (a rarity of itself) I figured it would well behoove me to read it. After all, if Shakespeare really wrote Shakespeare, I want to know that and change my position as a supporter of the De Vere theory.
Unfortunately the book didn't really live up to the hype. McCrea's introduction suggested scholars take the Oxfordian theories seriously, if only to refute them, but this apparent ecumenicism is dead by chapter 2, after which the dissenters are referred to as "heretics." The book never cites nor quotes the de Vere books, nor interacts much with them. Rather, its method is to say something like "the heretics claim . . ." providing no textual support and then going on to suggest they hold to some pretty silly things he is most happy to refute. He does occasionally deal with legitimate concerns, but mostly he entertains himself by refuting the more crazy theories that have (sadly) been put forward. There is no hint that he's even read Mark Anderson's "'Shakespeare' By Another Name," a major oversight on his part, and only mentions two or three others (such as Sorban's Alias Shakespeare) in the introduction, but does nothing more with them.
Ultimately, a wasted opportunity for McCrea to interact and refute the actual Oxfordian arguments, and thus a decent but unconvincing read.(less)
A mixed bag. I voted for Palin in the last election - I confess it. I will say that I did hold my nose while I did so. I've always been somewhat Indep...moreA mixed bag. I voted for Palin in the last election - I confess it. I will say that I did hold my nose while I did so. I've always been somewhat Independent/Libertarian minded, but definitely paleo-conservative. In the year since Obama took office I have found a number of my cherished assumptions about the "rightness" of the right challenged, though in good ways. It shall be interesting to see where God leads me over the next year.
But to the review. Palin's story is interesting and decently told. You can tell she used no ghost writer - you can hear her voice in every sentence, whether or not you find this a good thing. Her constant idolizing of Reagan got old after a while; despite the fact that Reagan did much good and ended the Cold War the right has turned him into the political equivalent of St. Reagan, which I have always found troubling. I do admire him for being a great orator and rhetorical genius, certainly.
Her pre-VP career is startling and challenging, and it appears she really did shake up the Republican establishment in Alaska and (if her account is accurate) ran against all the other Republicans for Governor, won, and didn't take no nonsense from nobody. Nevertheless, she still assumes the basic "problem" assumptions of the secular right: (1) America is the greatest nation in the history of time and don't you dare disagree, you traitor (2) to stare into the eyes (presumably green) of Reagan is to see the gates of Paradise opened, (3) strong national defense. I've got nothing against being able to defend ourselves, but it gets a little ridiculous when the Republicans in our government are calling not merely for Guantanamo Bay to remain open, but for it to be expanded ten-fold. Are there any juju beans to exorcise this demon, doc? I'm getting the heebeejeebees. But I'm meandering again. To return to point, I get the sense that she shares her foundation with folks like Limbaugh, Hanity, and National Review. She's even gotten a commentary show on Fox, which seems to confirm the whole business.
It also became vaguely annoying that every story in her autobio essentially ends with something like "and this lesson later served me well as John McCain's VP candidate for the national Republican bid." Or "and this messy business was used against me in my Vice-Presidential bid with John McCain." Okay, it's not quite that bad - it's every other story in the book.
Palin really was mercilessly mauled by the media, and if it weren't for the fact that Obama has galvanized Americans into looking in new directions for salvation rather than from political office I would prefer her and McCain in the driver's seat. The backlash against the Obamessiah could push conservatives and Americans so far as to actually do something about abortion rather than just talking about it for thirty years.
It was nice to get the rest of the story from her own mouth. We shall have to see what is in store for her next.(less)
This was a decent book with a lot of good stuff for anti-Stratfordians. I encountered Bryson in a class on humor writing and enjoyed him, though his w...moreThis was a decent book with a lot of good stuff for anti-Stratfordians. I encountered Bryson in a class on humor writing and enjoyed him, though his wit was a bit dry be classified in the same arena as Dave Barry. Nevertheless, I picked up this book as a quick read and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was told by a professor that my quaint and snobbish attachment to the anti-Stratfordian de Vere thesis was not exactly well looked upon in "educated" circles, and so I've been seeking out some more traditionally-minded biographies of the Stratford man to see if the Stratford case is stronger or weaker.
This one demonstrates amply this is unlikely to take place. There are so many places secularists will consider me as an affront to American education that really, what's one more? I believe in six-day creation. Withstanding the withering criticism that receives from every quarter makes the fact that a bunch of secular stuffed shirts laughing about my apparently fevered de Vere thesis somewhat easier to take. As in, its rather like walking through a bothersome batch of gnats.
Bryson is at least honest about how much is known about Shakespeare. There are three paintings and etchings of William of Stratford and none of them can be historically proven to be of Shakspere (ch. 1).
Here's a couple of gems from the book:
"...all we know of William Shakespeare is contained within a few skanty facts: that he was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, produced a family there, went to London, became an actor and writer, returned to Stratford, made a will and died." (pp. 8-9)
"...there remains an enormous amount we don't know about William Shakespeare, much of it of a fundamental nature. We don't know, for one thing, exactly how many plays he wrote or in what order he wrote them. We can deduce something of what he read but don't know where he got the books or what he did with them when he had finished with them." (9).
"We don't know if he ever left England. We don't know who his principle companions were or how he amused himself. His sexuality is an irreconcilable mystery. On only a handful of days in his life can we say with absolute certainty where he was. We have no record at all of his whereabouts for the eight critical years when he left his wife and three young children in Stratford and became, with almost impossible swiftness, a successful playwright in London. By the time he is first mentioned in print as a playwright, in 1592, his life was almost more than half over." (11)
In fact, we know so little about William of Stratford that Bryson is forced, to make his biography more than of pamphlet length, to helplessly pad the book with endless asides about the layout and conditions of London of the time, the origins and history of the various theaters in London, and details of theater production, performance, and technique of Shakspeare's time (such as there are). As it is the book runs to barely over 200 pages. With a vigorous bought of trimming off all the dross and it could easily be 115-130 pages.
What is good about the book is that Bryson is merciless with the biographers of Shakspeare. While he still presents their case, he also admits when the historians just don't know, which is refreshing to the rigid dogmatism of the Stratfordians, even going so far as to disqualify some of the supposed "references" to Shakspeare, such as the oft-alluded to "Shak-shaft" note, and points out that there were other Shak-shafts living in the same area as the name originates, three of which were named William.
For all he admits he still devotes a scathing final chapter to the various theories of the sundry anti-Stratfordian positions like Francis Bacon. Nevertheless, he paints all the originators of the various theories as hopeless kooks - and many of them were. But that's hardly the point at this time in history. Many solid historical works have been written and it is these Bryson must refute, and it is these which he ignores. There is no mention of clearly the best de Vere book available, Mark Anderson's 640 page biography of de Vere - and written a year before Bryson's was published. If he's going to deal with de Vere, he ought to deal with current scholarship.
Nevertheless, his final line is apt to the whole historical situation: "Only one man had the circumstances and gifts to give us such incomparable works, and William Shakespeare of Stratford was unquestionably that man--whoever he was." (less)
Really good. Presents the case that Edward de Vere was the real author of the Shakespeare works. Parts are more convincing than others, but the sheer...moreReally good. Presents the case that Edward de Vere was the real author of the Shakespeare works. Parts are more convincing than others, but the sheer weight of the evidence is convincing enough.(less)