(3.5 stars) I haven't read many novels aimed at "young adult" or teen audiences since I was a teen so it's hard to evaluate "The Hunger Games" and Suza(3.5 stars) I haven't read many novels aimed at "young adult" or teen audiences since I was a teen so it's hard to evaluate "The Hunger Games" and Suzanne Collins against other authors of similar work. This first book of a trilogy moves at a brisk pace with its plot and character development. Collins drops really effective cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, which reminded me of serialized fiction, superhero comics, and manga. Having said that, I found myself wanting a little more stylistic flair, given that this is a dystopian science fiction tale set sometime in the future. Collins sets forth many great ideas and establishes a mood of realistic cynicism that is surprisingly refreshing. To me, the ending was rather predictable once the outcome of the Hunger Game was determined. Does "The Hunger Games" live up to the crushing weight of the hype? Yes and no. Was this book compelling enough to encourage me to continue on with the trilogy? Yes, but with some reservations.
Random notes: 1. This is a rare instance where I actually read the book before I watch the movie. 2. Poor, poor Peeta....more
Music journalist Simon Reynolds examines mainstream pop music's seemingly relentless revivals and revisitations of past eras. Like many other critics,Music journalist Simon Reynolds examines mainstream pop music's seemingly relentless revivals and revisitations of past eras. Like many other critics, he wonders, and worries about, whether or not America and Britain are stuck on repeat. Is it possible to innovate when the past and the near-past are ever present, especially with the easy accessibility to the obscure and the well-known that the Internet affords us? How can we be nostalgic for a decade that just ended? Reynolds also looks at different forms of art — architecture, fashion, movies, TV, and more — to find out how they are afflicted with retromania. Toward the end of the book, Reynolds seems to argue that the music circles of the 2000s and of today are not saying much about the present day nor will they contribute much to the efforts of future revivalists because there was nothing original about them. At best, what musicians, singers, DJs, and producers did during this decade was reveal how seemingly disparate sources of music can fit together into a song. But can you create something new with this mosaic? At a time when critics and commentators argue that we live in an age of "atemporality," maybe it's time to forget the past so that we can move on with the future. Well worth reading....more
The majority of what's collected in this book are reviews, but they sometimes read like essays. Because of this, Bierut's writing refers to controversThe majority of what's collected in this book are reviews, but they sometimes read like essays. Because of this, Bierut's writing refers to controversies and hot topics at the time and they occasionally show their flaws in the light of the passing years. Some are remembrances of influential designers, artists, photographers, and creative persons who have recently passed away and played some role in shaping Bierut's life. But the best work comes in the form of the more recognizable essays, that is, the writings that transcend time while capturing it. A shining example of Bierut's congruent power of writing as a designer can be seen in "On (Design) Bullshit." Bierut recounts one of the major confrontations between architect Richard Meier and artist Robert Irwin in the 1997 documentary, "Concert of Wills," which chronicles the construction of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. He finishes the piece with an example from his years working as a designer with Massimo Vignelli. What is evident in reading these 79 articles is that designers are influenced by any and everything, even falling off a treadmill at the gym.
Given that this is a book on design written by a notable designer (Bierut is a partner in renowned international design agency Pentagram), the content and how it is packaged are presented in a clever manner: each article is presented in a different typeface, most of which is connected to or referenced in the article. (See "I Hate ITC Garamond.")...more
A collection of personal essays centered on design, Ilyin voices the doubts some of us have when we see a chair, fork, or table in a catalogue that loA collection of personal essays centered on design, Ilyin voices the doubts some of us have when we see a chair, fork, or table in a catalogue that looks perfectly designed with its clean lines, brushed stainless steel surface, and its hefty price tag. We see these items for their promises of a better life after we slide our plastic cards through the checkout line and bring back the haul into our homes. But these promises can often be nothing more than hollow and imbalanced, despite appearances. Even when we choose imperfection, as Ilyin notes with great insight, it's for the "right" type of imperfection.
"What will happen to us as a culture when we have been completely conditioned only to choose between options, rather than to come up with solutions?" Ilyin asks. It's a question that goes beyond the world of design....more
Blum does a wonderful job of portraying the lives and work of Dr. Charles Norris, New York's first professional chief medical examiner, and AlexanderBlum does a wonderful job of portraying the lives and work of Dr. Charles Norris, New York's first professional chief medical examiner, and Alexander Gettler, a tireless toxicologists and researcher. She shows how prevalent and easily available various poisons were in New York during the early 20th century. The descriptions of the havoc left behind by the different poisons, which frame each section of the book, are succinct with a touch of Blum's flair for the right detail without being gratuitous — an interesting balancing act to read. As we learn about each poison, Blum provides examples of actual crimes and accidental deaths related to them. Ironically, one of the more horrific times for alcohol-related deaths was Prohibition due to people imbibing industrial alcohol adulterated with government-sanctioned chemicals that were supposed to deter them. Despite what some may say and think of them today, the Food and Drug Administration was finally given expanded regulatory oversight over numerous manufactured products such as pesticides, makeup, and food and alcohol. Norris and Gettler's hard work, persistence, and rigorous research helped pave the way to a safer world....more