I feel as if Pringle and i are kindred spirits. He created a list of the 100 BEST science fiction novels yet most of his discussions are quite negativ...moreI feel as if Pringle and i are kindred spirits. He created a list of the 100 BEST science fiction novels yet most of his discussions are quite negative nancyish. It reminds me of my review of SF Hall of Fame, vol 1 (a childhood fave), to which someone commented something like, "This is possibly the most negative 4-star review i've ever read." I laughed, i smiled, i saw myself through another's eyes. That's kinda what i look for and love most about SF and about talking about books, moments of insight, about oneself, about identity, about Humanity.
David Pringle does something similarly wonderful and dangerous for us: he puts his Self on every page.
I especially loved his grumblemumble assessment of the lone Isaac Asimov novel. Pringle did NOT wanna include even one book by this beloved American icon, but the star of his disdain wasn't quite massive enough to become a black hole of unmovable hatred, and so the nearly irresistible force of presumed outside editorial pressures pushed The End of Eternity past Pringle's not-quite event horizon and a supernova of literary awesomeness exploded onto pages 53-54. I basked in its unintentional humor.
How will you know whether you should override a particular novel's implicit recommendation (ie, being in Pringle's Top 100) by (a) your personal SF fancies and/or (b) Pringle's negatively slanted discussion? That's what makes this book/list such a delightful challenge. You'll have to read closely, not only the words on the page, but also your self.
An incredibly helpful way to look at what makes a comedic sketch or bit work.
I love their anatomy of the scene. I love the myriad exercises and explic...moreAn incredibly helpful way to look at what makes a comedic sketch or bit work.
I love their anatomy of the scene. I love the myriad exercises and explication of what they're helpful with. I love the examples of successful and unsuccessful moves and the multiple viewpoints of each. It's almost like getting personal feedback.
The only downside is that it's repetitive. The illustrations are cool enough, however, to offset this tiny negative.
I wish i had the energy and initiative to test the hypothesis that this book changed the way the medical community treats critically ill patients and...moreI wish i had the energy and initiative to test the hypothesis that this book changed the way the medical community treats critically ill patients and regular people view the process of dying. It all seemed so right. Perhaps my mother's training to become a nurse in the late-70s has something to do with its familiarity. Or maybe it's just cuz i hang out with a lot of enlightened and educated people (yeah, i'm lucky that way).
If you have a strong fear of death, i recommend reading this. If you're afraid to talk about death at all, i recommend reading this. Even if it all sounds like something you've heard before, it's worth seeing the birth of this viewpoint.
Recordings of the interviews might make a decent documentary in the right hands; they'd be more alive than the literal transcriptions that often (unfortunately) sound stilted. On that note, another wish: i wish that revised editions would edit the transcripts slightly.(less)
Napier has a distinct way of looking at how performers create appealing scenes on stage. I'll never call anything "The Right Way (period)" but for imp...moreNapier has a distinct way of looking at how performers create appealing scenes on stage. I'll never call anything "The Right Way (period)" but for improv, this book seems to be The Right Way For Me. Go out on stage, make a choice, stick with it. Simple.
I prefer this style of thinking and talking about improv over Truth in Comedy's and Improv Handbook's. Many feel differently, and i can understand why as long as the reason isn't that you believe Napier's telling you to bulldoze and ignore your scene partner(s). That is either shoddy misrepresentation or complete misapprehension. If you get that idea from his book or you don't like the tone by page 20, then try one of the aforementioned titles: they might pitch improv in a way you can catch it.
I will reread this book, assuming i don't lame-out and quit improv in the next year. But will i ever do the really cool solo practice forms? (in the car on the way to/from work?!) They seem like great ways to get/keep your improv mind in shape. Exercise and practice. Even when you're all alone. Crazy, right? But anybody who gots friends with whom you relentlessly do "bits" probably don't need this kind of extra mock-stage time.(less)
Even if you almost completely ignore the (in my opinion) mostly nutty "Masks and Trance" chapter, this book'll provide so many ideas and insights in t...moreEven if you almost completely ignore the (in my opinion) mostly nutty "Masks and Trance" chapter, this book'll provide so many ideas and insights in the pages leading up to it that you'll wanna come back to it periodically.(less)
Allow me to begin with Chez Neophyte's specialité, mixed metaphors. "Getting Started" watered my desiccated soul. "Conclusion" nosed me out of the nes...moreAllow me to begin with Chez Neophyte's specialité, mixed metaphors. "Getting Started" watered my desiccated soul. "Conclusion" nosed me out of the nest with good intentions and the belief that i might soar. The meat and potatoes of poetry's mechanics filling the space between those first and last chapters, respectively, provided little more than a refresher course. (ie, Every fledgling needs water. Flowers gotta learn to fly sometime. Nothing invigorates quite like a hearty squab and rosebud stew).
This book probably won't much sharpen your poetry senses if they've already been honed by an intro poetry text or class.
More. I bought this little, easily read book with the intention of it helping me understand the poetry i hope to read over the next several months. It hasn't hindered me.
Writing a poem ... is a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind.
Can you dig it? Mary Oliver does. And she makes poetry sound juicy throughout. Brava!
Less. In "Sound" she self-consciously stumbles through questionable theories about how vowel and consonant sounds embellish a poem's overall meaning. "More Devices of Sound" heads back uphill: the joy of alliteration, assonance, consonance, and rhyme derive from a kind of reverence or religion so feed us cornucopias of examples and Nuff said.
I learned a lot from "The Line": how poorly i read stress; enjambment throws me; short lines befuddle me; long lines lose (loose?) me. Size matters.
Oliver describes "Verse That Is Free" as brazenly as 2 adolescent fish philosophizing about water. Breathe deep.(less)
I think that i just like the way this dude thinks. Maybe i envy him in exactly the right way for it to be expressed as respect. (comparison: my envy f...moreI think that i just like the way this dude thinks. Maybe i envy him in exactly the right way for it to be expressed as respect. (comparison: my envy for each principle in the Brian Regan webisode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee turned into self-hatred because it made me realize i'm infintely inferior to each of them separately and infinity-squared-ly inferior to them as friends)
If you'd like to see something resembling semi-tangible opinions, you may click to see the daily twitter-esque comments i keyed as i progressed through the audio book. I'm not gonna try to inflate them into a true review. (#feelinglazy)
So, another very solid 4 stars for Mr Gladwell. (less)
Keep in mind that Liebling wrote these stories individually without intention of compiling them into a single tome and you'll be able to endure the re...moreKeep in mind that Liebling wrote these stories individually without intention of compiling them into a single tome and you'll be able to endure the repetition of his epithets for Pierce Egan (his predecessor whom he unabashedly idolizes).
I enjoyed Liebling's voice and his objective viewpoint. He provides a deep and rich history of the fights he covered by telling us about the people involved and bringing us into the world they inhabit. A full experience of the time that i doubt any reporter nowadays can replicate. Liebling openly avowed any prejudices he had about a fighter's style or chances up-front, and so i could trust his assessments of each fight. Is there a single living sports journalist who does this?
I read the book's last, best and most important sentence only 30 minutes ago, and already it dissolved in my habitual cynicism.
I felt the satisfaction because it proved that the world is not going backward, if you can just stay young enough to remember what it was really like when you were really young.
I am biased. I blame Jared and CJ for instigating 3 of the best weeks of my life: they convinced Holly that we should honeymoon in New Zealand, which...moreI am biased. I blame Jared and CJ for instigating 3 of the best weeks of my life: they convinced Holly that we should honeymoon in New Zealand, which we did. It included a week on their farm. Which included slogging piles of pruned branches covered in cow manure from the back paddock to the front. Which was actually a nice break from getting my worst sunburn ever as i spent hours and hours uprooting unnaturally(?) large thistle plants. Nevertheless, i proclaim Moon Over Martinborough a great success and expect it will be a fun read for just about anybody.
MoM includes 60 sweet, funny, touching, insightful, lively tales that document the first 4 years of CJ and Jared’s transformation from city boys (office space and restaurant food) into farmers (olive harvests and chook culling). Jared’s honesty and voice come through clearly in every piece. And if you've ever heard him speak (in person, podcast or radio interview), i predict that you will also literally hear his voice as you read.
Each chapter relates simple everyday moments that are too quiet for your typical TV show or movie. But Jared transforms any old day's events into a story you want to hear. Why would anybody care whether these inept agriculturalists have their own tractor? Because you will laugh, sometimes at the pain, and you will smile, in appreciation of a community. Does it matter whether Kiwi grocers stock molasses? No, but every human heart knows the value of a tradition that keeps a loved one's memory alive. Do you need to know how to care for an olive grove? Probably not, but seeing people learn their lifepath opens your eyes, too.
You need Jared at your private dinner party, so invite him over and enjoy the soiree. Assuming you do, you might wan to know that the saga begins and continues in his blog.
Randumb stuff I would actually pay triple the book's price to own a recorded version. But only if Jared narrated. If CJ read his own dialogue, i'd pay quintuple!
Jared, if you ever read this, i hope you get a couple nasty papercuts next time you consult a roadmap because you made me relive the morbid dread of driving the Rimutaka Hill Road!(less)
Overall, i'm disappointed. Whereas the tone of Improv Handbook turned me off, at least it was instructive, well organized, and carefully written and,...moreOverall, i'm disappointed. Whereas the tone of Improv Handbook turned me off, at least it was instructive, well organized, and carefully written and, most important of all, i felt like i was constantly learning. Truth in Comedy felt mostly like listening to Halpern et al subliminally expressing, "This is what's so great about us."
Some of my (& America's) favorite comedic performers came from/through their Chicago school of improv and many of those performers praise Halpern and Close as brilliant teachers. So i will not claim they are bad teachers, but i also can't say that TiC contained much help, advice, or useful info for this particular improv newbie (see Bottom Line).
Hmmm ... observation. I'm glad i typed that word because it's the seed of my main point of TiC criticism. Halpern et al repeatedly transcribe scenes they've been in or watched/directed and then they give hows and whys related to success and failure. As the primary form of instruction throughout TiC, they seem to believe that learning comes from experience. I propose that writing a book about experience can only fall short of actual experience. For instance, an athlete can learn from reading an instructional book about soccer, but watching a game carefully alongside a coach while discussing the finer points is clearly an immeasurably better learning tool. Perhaps the genius of Halpern and Close as teachers should've remained exclusively in their workshops until such time as a student capable of sharing their wisdom in written form evolved.
The depth of analysis in Salinksy & Frances-White's Handbook makes it something of an "Anatomy of Improv." They understand the living organism of improvisation in the way a good doctor understands the human body. Halpern et al stick with a macro-(over)view that concentrates their ideas (ideals) on broad connections. So maybe they understand and represent improvisation in the way an inexperienced sociologist speaks of interactions between societies?
The content deserves a solid 4. Salinsky & Frances-White are at their best when speaking as workshop teachers addressing new(ish) students. In thi...moreThe content deserves a solid 4. Salinsky & Frances-White are at their best when speaking as workshop teachers addressing new(ish) students. In this mode, they churn out dozens of valuable concepts that might surprise newbies or "stuck" performers.
Alas, the authorial tone drags my overall rating below 3.5. I understand their desire to express a focused point of view (namely, Keith Johnstone's) regarding what's most likely to generate deeply satisfying improvisation—as opposed to merely amusing gags—but that doesn't require insulting all differing philosophies (notably, Del Close's.
A lot of the time they were speaking to teachers or theatre owners. That was disconcerting for me when it occurred within Section 2, "How to Improvise," which i (reasonably?) expected to be teacher-to-student oriented.
I felt no sadness for this little girl during the entirety of her actual diary. And then the ominous sounding Afterword had to go and pummel my emotio...moreI felt no sadness for this little girl during the entirety of her actual diary. And then the ominous sounding Afterword had to go and pummel my emotions with the facts i wanted to know about these people i'd come to feel acquainted with. That some of them lived until the late 20th or early 21st century, including Anne's father, is encouraging but also saddening because they must've been conscious of how many loved ones they lost that entire time. Then there are the horrible and varied ways most of them died, usually painfully close to the moment they might've been rescued.
Anne grows up right in front of you. Starting as a whiney, petulant, childish voice. Maturing into an introspective, considerate, empathetic young adult worrying for the world outside the limited space she'd been forced to accommodate as her life (cf. the much younger, more limited, and completely fictional Jack in Room?!).
There are doldrums. This is a diary, folks. It's not a novel and even though ~25% into it Anne knew it might someday be published by the Dutch government, she wasn't writing a thriller. Her sincerity remained throughout. This is one of those rare times that i can value literal truth over fiction.
I'd recommend reading this along with, right before, or immediately after Night by Eli Wiesel. I'm not certain, but i think he and Anne's "boy friend" Peter might've been on the death march at the same time. Wiesel's work after Frank's would give you a lot of the details about what the Annex dwellers would've experienced during their time in concentration camps.
I wish i could write a letter to Mr. Frank to thank him for sharing his daughter's thoughts and his family's private life with the world.(less)
Cohen deserves 5 stars for creating a manageable, single-volume, comprehensive distillation of the Talmud. I never would've read anything about it if...moreCohen deserves 5 stars for creating a manageable, single-volume, comprehensive distillation of the Talmud. I never would've read anything about it if not for this book.
I gives it 3 stars, though, for meager entertainment value.(less)