Random thoughts about this book in lieu of a review:
This book came out at the time my wife and I were working at an independent bookstore in San FrancRandom thoughts about this book in lieu of a review:
This book came out at the time my wife and I were working at an independent bookstore in San Francisco. I found the recipe for Spam cheesecake in here and made it to bring to my then-new job at Lonely Planet Publications. Despite the cheesecake, they did not immediately terminate my employment.
One of my favorite comfort foods is the Korean dish budae jjigae. (I'm not sure how Korean food became one of my comfort foods, but it has.) It usually includes Spam among its ingredients, along with hot dogs, bacon, and other USAmerican meat food products. Spam plus kim chee plus gochujang plus rich cakes plus broth equals pure bliss.
Who knew Spam had such a storied history?
Or that so many people around the world share our love-hate relationship with this perpetually pink processed porcine pâté?
Spam is cooked in the can, which means it can be eaten cold without any fear of getting worms. (Told you so, Mom.)
You can also use it as a video game remote.
Because the British had to eat pounds of Spam during WWII, Monty Python made their famous Spam sketch.
At first I didn't know what to make of the comic or its namesake, but as the story developed I came to really dig both. (view spoiler)[What's not to lAt first I didn't know what to make of the comic or its namesake, but as the story developed I came to really dig both. (view spoiler)[What's not to love about the surreal (yet not entirely implausible!) revelation of a psychedelicized Lovecraftian horror in the guise of Suessian anapestic tetrameter and gobbledygook? Why hasn't somebody else lampooned (if not implicated) Anton LaVey, Jim Jones, and David Blaine in the same conspiracy theory? Is this the first time anyone else has tied together California's biggest cash crop, Robin Hardy's 1973 masterpiece The Wicker Man, and the Black Rock Desert's annual Burning Man festival, in the singular event of Blazing Man, and, if so, why? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, why did I have to look up the two artists referenced in Howard Chaykin's back-cover blurb (Jack Davis and Wally Wood) to understand what it was about the artwork that seemed so familiar? And to think I call myself a comics fan. (hide spoiler)]...more
Two things made this book an absolute winner for me: the impeccable choice of pop cultural touchstones and the way the authors were able to encapsulatTwo things made this book an absolute winner for me: the impeccable choice of pop cultural touchstones and the way the authors were able to encapsulate so much of the flavor of the times in each commentary. This is "Beer Frame" meets À la recherche du temps perdu....more
Stories about the lives, deaths, and final resting places of many of the greats of 20th century popular music. Accompanied by full-color photos, manyStories about the lives, deaths, and final resting places of many of the greats of 20th century popular music. Accompanied by full-color photos, many of interesting gravestones and monuments....more
This book is steeped in meaningful coincidence, which is kind of odd, considering it is a "For Dummies" book, not exactly the first place I would searThis book is steeped in meaningful coincidence, which is kind of odd, considering it is a "For Dummies" book, not exactly the first place I would search for a synchronicity or two. I purchased it at the local Gooodwill for $.75 and later that same evening received an unexpected invitation from friends to see The Hobbit. Some of the info from this book (written before the release of The Return of the King) helped set the "extraneous" material from Jackson's Hobbit into the larger context of Tolkien's mythos and confirmed my positive opinion of the latest film.
The real strangeness involves the author, Greg Harvey. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I have worked for over eight years. Stranger still, he was working on his Master's degree in the Humanities in the area of Philosophy and Religion with a concentration in Asian and Comparative Studies (PAR-ACS) at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, at the same time I was there doing doctoral coursework in the same field! (To my recollection, we never met.)
All of that made this a hard book to review "objectively." Luckily, the book is excellent on its own merits, in addition to resonating oddly with my own particular life circumstances. Harvey explores Tolkien's world-canon with a broad understanding of philosophy, religion, literature, and languages, and uncovers many insights along the way. This is a definite recommendation for the fan of TLOTR who wants to dig a little deeper, but maybe not go all the way and read The Silmarillion....more
This book was more or less an impulse buy at the local public library's friends of the library two-for-one sale. Honestly I don't know what to think aThis book was more or less an impulse buy at the local public library's friends of the library two-for-one sale. Honestly I don't know what to think about ghosts and whether or not they exist in some meaningful sense, but I enjoy hearing about them, watching TV shows about them, and reading about them, particularly if the presentation is good. So when I saw this eye-catching cover and saw that it was subtitled "one man's search for the truth about ghosts," I thought, "This definitely looks like it would be worth a quarter." (Actually, my first thought was, "Who in the heck is this Will Storr fellow, and am I so out of the popular culture loop that I have never heard of someone famous enough to reference himself in the title of his book?") And boy, was this book ever worth a quarter! I would even go so far as to say I would buy it new, now that I know how good it is. It is witty, engaging, creepy, and deeply thoughtful. Storr lives up to his word: he really is after the truth about ghosts, whatever that is, and while he interviews scads of people from diametrically opposed positions and perspectives, he never gives in to the urge to resolve things too easily. I want to quote his thoughts near the end of the book to show you what I mean:
I'm now convinced that there is evidence of something following death. Because ghosts exist. There really are such things as apparitions and EVP and poltergeists and heavy breathing in old rooms in the night. And humans, being humans, feel compelled to explain that. But they can't. It's only the faithful who think they can. In this regard, Christians are just the same as witches and druids and anti-Satan vigilantes and skeptical monsterologists and hard rational scientists. They all think they've got answers, but really, they're all wildly theorizing. The simple truth is—nobody knows. Nobody, not Dr. Salter, Dr. Garvey, Father Bill, or The Founder, knows what happens when our brains finally flicker off. We're in the dark about death and the purpose of existence. And an awful lot of people, it seems, are scared of the dark. This is the thing I've learned over the last twelve months about blind belief in the supernatural: faith is for the frightened. These are the things that scare humans more than anything else—death, loneliness and guilt. That's the ominous three, the holy trinity of dread. If you sign up for a supernatural belief like Christianity, these timeless worries disappear in a puff of incensed smoke. Death? No worries. Paradise awaits you. Lonely? Don't be daft—God loves you and is with you always. Guilt? Just say the word, and you will be forgiven.
And it's not just the Christians. There's a certain kind of ghost-believer that's victim to this same syndrome. They use ghosts, just as Dr. Salter said, to make themselves feel more important or to convince themselves that their dead friends, family and lovers are'nt just Spam for maggots. They use their cod logic to bring order and meaning to their chaotic and seemingly meaningless lives. And some of them use it to dress themselves up as instant experts. You can say anything you like about ghosts and, providing you do it with enough authority, you'll get your own slot on satellite TV.
But not all the ghost-convinced are like this. Because if you strip away all the nonsense, you're left with something that most Christians will never have. You're left with evidence. Genuine, unexplained, skull-bucklingly fantastic evidence. For me, the extraordinary truth about ghosts doesn't lie in the individual experiences of one witness or another. It lies in the patterns. That, perhaps, four or five other people heard breathing in that room before me, doesn't make it four or five times more interesting, it makes it one of the most incredible mysteries in the world. Just like the previous occupants of Annie's room, the many victims of poltergeists, the worldwide thousands who've recorded EVP, the routinely spooked visitors to Michelham Priory, the young brothers who talked to the woman in their bathroom, it's the chorus of humans who are experiencing the same things, evidence of intelligent ghosts, that make this subject so profound and wondrous and universal....
As for the hard skeptics, I think that to believe so passionately in the existence of nothing that isn't immediately obvious is to suffer the most gigantic failure of intelligence and imagination. The universe—the reality in which we exist—is such an immeasurable, unbelievable and, ultimately, unknowable thing. And the only thing I know for sure is that it's a stranger place than any human has the capacity to imagine. (pp.306-8)
For a transcendental agnostic like me, that kind of (in)conclusion is music to my ears. ...more