A solid, fairly comprehensive bio, written in clean and fairly clinical prose. As Prince himself wasn't involved in the project it includes extensive...moreA solid, fairly comprehensive bio, written in clean and fairly clinical prose. As Prince himself wasn't involved in the project it includes extensive quotes from outside sources (other biographies, previously published articles and interviews, quotes from people Prince hasn't talked to in 20 years). If you're looking for a general biographical/artistic overview that covers everything from childhood-->the rise-->stardom-->name change-->renaissance I'd say go with this. It's basically a book length Spin article about the man, the myth, the LEGEND.
Some Choice Quotes (mostly about Rick James):
“When Prince finally performed, Rick James said, ‘I felt sorry for him.’ He was a ‘little dude’ in high heels and a trench coat, standing in one spot on stage while playing New Wave. ‘Then at the end of his set he’d take off his trench coat and he’d be wearing little girl’s bloomers.’ James laughed. Men in the audience ‘just booed this poor thing to death.’ He let Prince keep opening—but he came to regret it.” (42)
"The tour with Rick James continued, and so did the bedevilment. Eventually, James's frustrations boiled over. He told Prince's manager if he stole any more of James's moves he was off the tour. Another day, both managers and bands had a meeting. In Prince's room, James's band--tall men in braids and leather-- sat at one side, James explained, while Prince's band-- 'in eyelashes and makeup'--sat at the other looking 'very afraid.' James's band seemed ready to physically attack." (45)
“Yet, despite alleged tensions—apparently caused by James himself—James invited them all to his birthday party. Prince attended that night and sat at a table but didn’t drink. James, who loved partying almost as much as funk, claimed he then walked up, grabbed the back of Prince’s hair, and forced cognac into his mouth. ‘He spit it out like a little bitch and laughed and walked away,’ James claimed in print. He loved, James admitted, ‘fucking with him like that.” (45)
“Jackson’s Thriller continued to sell. But Warner had their own slick-haired black musician in shiny clothes.” (75)
“Before twenty thousand of his own fans in Tulsa, John Cougar ran backstage for his cassette deck, then played a tape of “Little Red Corvette” into his microphone. Cougar kept trying, unsuccessfully, to invite Prince onto his new album. (75) (less)
This is an accessible, entertaining and intelligent overview of modern (Adam Smith – the present) economics which covers the foundational ideas, major...moreThis is an accessible, entertaining and intelligent overview of modern (Adam Smith – the present) economics which covers the foundational ideas, major thinkers and pivotal events in the field over the last 300 years or so. I’d recommend it to anybody. Month to month I earn money, pay bills and *attempt* to save what little I can. Beyond that, econ is pretty damn mysterious to me. Most days I can comprehend what GDP is, but when it comes to demand curves, derivatives, and exactly what the IMF does when they twist a country’s arm I’m generally lost. And that’s why I was so appreciative of this book’s lucidity. It breaks all of those concepts (and many many more) down to a point where I can at least begin to get a handle on them and shows how they’ve been grappled with during the last few hundred years with clear prose and inventive/hilarious illustrations.
I never took an econ course, but I sure would’ve appreciated having this on the syllabus. For the first ¾ or so this is an extremely neutral historical overview. Once Goodwin begins to discuss late 20th century developments in the U.S. it becomes distinctly more ideological which…I found very welcome. Part of that of that was likely just a case of me agreeing with his politics. But more than that I think it was due to him doing such a good job showing the degree to which the decisions of congressmen & corporate board members affect the market, international relations, the environment and the daily lives of people like me around the world. This book is totally worth your time. (less)
Sobering. I highly recommend this. It's not "impartial" in the least. It's angry, it despairs, its view is grim (though not without some small hope). Y...moreSobering. I highly recommend this. It's not "impartial" in the least. It's angry, it despairs, its view is grim (though not without some small hope). You won't feel good after reading it. But I highly recommend this.
The villain in "Batman: The Long Halloween" strikes each month on a major holiday but skips MLK day in favor of a NYE/Epiphany combo?? Racist.
JK, in a...moreThe villain in "Batman: The Long Halloween" strikes each month on a major holiday but skips MLK day in favor of a NYE/Epiphany combo?? Racist.
JK, in all seriousness of one of the better Batman books I've read. Solid art and a brilliant presentation of his classic rogues gallery during the period when crime in Gotham was slipping away from traditional non-costumed mobsters & thugs and falling into their gloved hands. I love what they do with Harvey Dent's character, showing his single-minded drive to rid Gotham of its cancerous crime lords, even if it might mean crossing the line. The steel-eyed midnight conferences between Bats, Dent, & Gordon are a definite highlight of this work. I think it suffers slightly from a bit too much misdirection regarding the central mystery: who is Holiday? But that's more than made up for by the art, the examination of Dent, and the fact that we get to see almost all of Batman's greatest foes on their come-up to full super-villain status. (less)
Holy Sheeeet, Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen: This dude is my newest hero. What a book. 200+ pages of the most livid, caustic, perceptive, learned and cul...moreHoly Sheeeet, Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen: This dude is my newest hero. What a book. 200+ pages of the most livid, caustic, perceptive, learned and cultivated dude throwing absolute haymaker roundhouses at Nazis. Glorious.
He was a landowning aristocrat, a veteran, and a writer of popular fiction (mostly for children). He moved in the most influential circles, was a connoisseur of art and lit, and he knew his history. If he had bought in to the ideology of the Third Reich, or even just played along publicly, he would've coasted from 1933-45. But he was a man of integrity who saw the regime, and its leader, for what they were: a bunch of vicious, hollow, kleptomaniac, sociopathic thugs who were polluting everything worthwhile in German spirit & culture. And boy did he write about it. Reck was a diarist of the highest order, able to take at individual moments & recollections (whether from 20 years previous or the day before) and polish them into perfect gems of invective, sorrow, and foreboding. He knew, from the moment they assumed power that the rise of the Nazis meant the destruction of his beloved German as he knew it, and he knew there was nothing he personally could do about it. So he kept this diary (hidden underground outside on his property) in order to record the degradation of his country, and privately rail against it.
He has nothing but contempt for the Reich, and the worst (best?) of it is reserved for Herr Hitler whom he refers to variously as "Machiavelli for chambermaids", "Chief Eunuch of the Reich", a "stereotype of the head waiter", a "forelocked gypsy", and a mere "resident of a furnished room". His rage is so vivid, so righteous, and so artfully expressed. I also find it remarkable because, as much as that rage resonates, on a cultural/political level Reck was about as distant from me as possible. A monarchist uber-consertive who loathed democracy, modernism, technology, mass-man, the middle class (who, much more than the German workers, embraced Nazism), and urban America, I doubt he'd have much good to say about me or my milieu, but damn if I don't find that irrelevant after reading this.
I can't recommend this book enough. I feel it's something I'll have to return to periodically, and it's definitely a work I'll cherish forever. Read it yourself. You won't forget it.(less)
OK, here we have 2-3 page capsule review of every book of the Bible. The author has tried to avoid any bias or critical interpretation and simply cond...moreOK, here we have 2-3 page capsule review of every book of the Bible. The author has tried to avoid any bias or critical interpretation and simply condense what is actually found in each book and render it in simple/humorous modern language. I feel it succeeds on many points and…less than succeeds on some others.
--This book is mainly valuable as handy abbreviated reference work. Forgot what went down in the book of Nahum? Just grab this off the shelf next to the Thesaurus and you can quickly remind yourself that "Oh yeah, that's the one where the city of Nineveh fell, and there was extended lion metaphor." Boom, lots of value there. It's like a comprehensive CliffsNotes for the basic plot lines of the bible…with really good production design.
--This book tries *so* damn hard to be irreverent it's painful at times. In the foreword the author, Mark Russell, is clear that he's just rewording what's found in the actual bible. That's essentially true. He hasn't added any elements of his own, all of this really can be found between the onion-papered pages of the book the Gideons left in your motel nightstand. And if you've ever taken a stroll through the Old Testament you know that, by modern standards, a LOT of it is puzzling/shocking/outrageous/sexist/wildly violent/etc. So for Russell to present all of that is absolutely necessary for this book, and welcome. But it's the manner in which he does it. If I had to describe the tone of the book it'd be: "Your Hawaiian-shirted 'cool' uncle attempting to be edgy by telling you a street joke he heard on the Howard Stern Show while at the family barbecue." It's occasionally funny, but mostly you just roll your eyes and keep reading. Once again, I'm not faulting Russell for attempting to make light of what's in here, just for how basic much of the humor is. Warning though: If you're a deeply faithful Christian who doesn't like anyone taking the piss out of your religion, you'll probably be offend reading this. But if your faith can *actually* be threatened by this book well…I'll say no more.
Overall, a worthy read, and an even better reference. And as I said, the production design is top notch (pleather binding, gilded edges, one of those little ribbon-bookmark things sewn into the spine…solid stuff). (less)
Boo Hoo for the sad boys. I know. I know. The postwar generation of Japan. Culturally scarred by the atom bomb. Searching for an identity when the mili...moreBoo Hoo for the sad boys. I know. I know. The postwar generation of Japan. Culturally scarred by the atom bomb. Searching for an identity when the militarist/imperialist tradition has crumbled. Occupied by foreign GIs. Faced with a sexual revolution while still rooted in a resolutely patriarchal culture. Teeming cities. Yes yes yes.
All of that's here, and it's a hell of a lot to face, and I know it's the environment Tatsumi's characters find themselves in, but damn if there doesn't come a point beyond which I could no longer care and I had to judge them for what they (almost universally) are: pathetic/incapable losers wallowing in either casual or active misogyny.
Every single protagonist is either an "I'm socially crippled and I can't talk to girls" weakling chump. Or a "all women are whores" weakling chump. There are maybe 2 women in all of these stories who aren't either avaricious, spiteful, emasculators or doomed simpletons relying on the love of a man who will never be able to give it. The others are just victims or background noise. It gets tired. To be clear, I have no problem with sex, nihilism, violence or mental wastelands in art, bring 'em on. But I didn't sense that I was just being *presented* with those elements and these characters, I was being asked to *care* about them, and in this context I just couldn't.
It seems they've released additional volumes of Tatsumi's work (each one collecting stories from a different calendar year, this one being the 1st). I might very well end up skipping a few volumes ahead to see if he ever matured (or at least diversified) because there is a lot of talent/honesty here, but I won't be doing it anytime soon.(less)
It's kind of futile, if not just wrong, to compare the suffering of people as experienced on this scale. But I'll say this was maybe even more harrowi...moreIt's kind of futile, if not just wrong, to compare the suffering of people as experienced on this scale. But I'll say this was maybe even more harrowing to read than Dr. Miklos Nyiszli's Auschwitz account, and that's saying a hell of a lot. Every facet of human possibility (evil, sadism, hope, sacrifice...everything) on display in the starkest terms possible.
The inclusion of Vassily Grossman's brief wartime correspondent account is a welcome add, but his propagandistic Red Army boosterism and wildly inaccurate numbers do make it suffer a bit, but then again, neither of those is really the point.
Brilliant. I knew it was a sci-fi classic involving hostile aliens going in, but really didn't know much more than that. Had very little to do with ep...moreBrilliant. I knew it was a sci-fi classic involving hostile aliens going in, but really didn't know much more than that. Had very little to do with epic space battles, and pretty much everything to do with power dynamics, the intricacies of military hierarchies, individual survival/ascension within a rigid social system, greatness under pressure, etc. Totally compelling look at how people are pushed to act in settings like boarding schools/military academies/prisons/etc. Oh yeah, great story and compelling characters too…plus…yeah…aliens (who only get more interesting as the book progresses.
Side-note: Like I said, fantastic book that deserves all of its acclaim. But having done more research on its author Orson Scott Card, I really have to wonder where he gets the stone to be as loudly & publicly homophobic as he has over the years (his Wikipedia page documents this fairly well. I mean, it's always wrapped in highfalutin "religious" reasoning, but it borders on the pathological). I ask because this book is so *blatantly* homoerotic. Part of that pretty surface-level and stems unavoidably from the fact that it's set mostly in a military training academy with literally one single female character. If you're going to portray that realistically things are going to be a little charged, fine, whatevs. But here are a few random details that really jack that up to the point where you wonder how OSC can possibly take himself seriously when he makes his idiotic public statements. (Very low possibility of spoilers to follow):
--A the only detail really given about a minor (but frequently appearing) character is that he wiggles his butt when he walks --This is then turned into plot point when a minor antagonist is framed for publicly stating that he likes that particular butt and asking if he can kiss it --Lengthy detail is given to describing the physical beauty of one of the primary antagonists, said antagonist's real name literally translates to "pretty boy". --A naked steamy soaped-up shower fight eventually breaks out between our hero and this antagonist --In 3 of the 4 physical confrontations that our hero engages in, he ends it with a hard kick to the balls (always described in loving detail) --The insect-like alien race is referred to exclusively as "buggers" (i.e. Middle English slang for "Sodomites").
None of which is a knock on the book itself. I'm just saying to Orson Scott Card: Grow the F@#K up! There's no way I'm the first person to note this, just wanted to put my 2 cents in. But seriously though, read this.(less)
Whatever words of praise that I could pour upon this book would pale next to the grace, wisdom and weight of Berry's verse. Reverence for the land and...moreWhatever words of praise that I could pour upon this book would pale next to the grace, wisdom and weight of Berry's verse. Reverence for the land and nature. Outright rejection of war, waste, greed & technological determinism. Humility, and a true appreciation of the gift (and burden) of love. All are here. Simply stunning. I may not ever travel without this book.(less)
I hope that if Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson's character from Unbreakable) had grown up to be a poet instead of a mass-murdering comic art dealer, he'd...moreI hope that if Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson's character from Unbreakable) had grown up to be a poet instead of a mass-murdering comic art dealer, he'd have produced a book as good as this.
--If the title and cover art don't bring it home for you, you'll quickly realize that this collection is built around a deep and lifelong passion for comic books. Spiderman, Ironman, The Watchmen, Professor X, and of course Supes & the Caped crusader are all either referenced or utilized as astonishingly effective narrators for poems throughout the book. Whether it's Lois Lane reflecting on her love for a near-immortal alien, Tony Stark radically redefining his alcoholism, or a racial deconstruction of the X-Men's Storm, Jackson's debut volume is steeped in the mythology, grandiosity, and essential humanness of superheroes and their stories. And you know what? It works. It works more than you could possibly imagine because these comics, these heroes, they BELONG here. Never once does it seem as if Jackson is forcing these masked and fantastic characters to have some artistic/real-world weight that they don't possess. In his hands they truly have that weight. You will read a witness' account of Superman's funeral and think "Damn…", you'll see Nightcrawler's attempt to pick up a woman in a bar and say "That dude is slick…and he definitely has a point." Seamless & authentic integration of comic lore into these poems would ultimately be rather meaningless if it was done in a way that shut out readers who weren't comic fans or who didn't grow up on the genre. You don't need to worry about that here. It doesn't matter if can tell Namor from Aquaman…or if you just don't care, as long as your willing to follow Jackson's lead you'll be rewarded by this book.
--It'd be a pretty unfair reduction to say that this volume is ALL about comics. Not so. While Jackson mastefully puts their influence to use throughout the book. There are plenty of less pop-culturally infused moments where he reflects on race, his Topeka past, long-gone love, and his powerfully remembered suicidal friend…among many other things. This is a truly complete work and stunning debut.(less)
My first encounter with Monterroso, it was…thrilling. Skilled in so many different ways, displays mastery with all kinds of styles. Perceptive, sharp,...moreMy first encounter with Monterroso, it was…thrilling. Skilled in so many different ways, displays mastery with all kinds of styles. Perceptive, sharp, hilarious, an exposer of bullshit, dude does it all. Highly recommended.(less)
First and foremost, let's just all agree that humor might be the most subjective thing on the planet. What makes me roll on the ground with spasms of...moreFirst and foremost, let's just all agree that humor might be the most subjective thing on the planet. What makes me roll on the ground with spasms of laughter can easily fail to draw even the weakest of chuckles from someone sitting right next to me, even if we're the greatest of friends and we see eye to eye on everything else. That's just how it is. I consider that to be one of the beautiful mysteries of comedy.
Secondly, I fully appreciate both the craft with which this collection was written AND it's monumental reputation as the ur-text of smart/offbeat one-liner comedy. These pieces are direct, carry no excess baggage, are filled with unexpected turns and unquestionably demonstrate a highly original and focused voice. They're like idiosyncratic flash-prose-poems from the mind of a deceptively calm & intelligent mental patient. And they'd be fine exemplars of that very narrow (and probably non-existent) genre.
But here's the thing, they're not presented simply as koans from the weekend-release asylum. Sure, the book itself is simply tagged as "Inspiration for the Uninspired", a sort of faux-advice/quote book kept up at the Barnes & Noble register to make the perfect gag stocking stuffer, nothing more, nothing less. But the reputation of the book (and the fact that much of the material made its debut on Saturday Night Live) means that it's mostly going to be taken as a joke/humor book. I've heard a few people refer to it as one of the funniest things they've ever read and, right or wrong, that's how I approached it. And on that level it did precious little for me. Before you scream "Blasphemy!" or label me a dullard for not appreciating the super-fine touch of Handey's work please just remember: I've already acknowledged the obvious...comedy = SUBJECTIVE.The plain fact of the matter is that I made an audible chuckle 3 times while reading this and experienced zero full-fledged laughs. Yeah, it's a singular voice, but it just wasn't speaking to me. You may read this and feel the need to pause every page and catch your breath from the maniacal cackling it induces in you, but for me this was a 2 star read.
"Are words any use to describe what pain (or passion, for that matter) really feels like? Words only come when everything is over, when things have ca...more"Are words any use to describe what pain (or passion, for that matter) really feels like? Words only come when everything is over, when things have calmed down. They refer only to memory, and are either powerless or untruthful." - Alphonse Daudet
This book is kind of remarkable. It's a decade+ chronicle of the persistent, immersive, & excruciating pain endured by one man (Alphonse Daudet, a very well known French writer in his day) that manages to never be self-pitying, redundant or macabre. After having contracted syphilis decades earlier (an experience that was, to some extent, "fashionable" among certain male members of the French literary elite) and living for a long while in the dormant 2nd stage of the disease, Daudet spent the last 12 years of his life consumed by the ever more debilitating pain of the 3rd stage. Writing, and even thinking clearly for that matter, became progressively more difficult as the years went by, but he kept an ongoing series of notes and observations about his pain, the pain of others afflicted with his condition as observed at the health spas he frequented, and how his condition affected him and his family. He had the intention of writing a book about it all, but that never really happened. Here we have the gathered fragments of what he wrote about his ordeal, translated & edited by Julian Barnes (who has done an excellent job).
--It was hard not to be struck by Daudet's nobility (if you wish to call it that) in facing his condition head on, never letting his family see him despair or crack, and having a sense of mission/duty with regard to his "obligation" as a writer to capture, as best as possible the essence of his experience.
--As Daudet notes, words come only after the pain has passed (temporarily) but what he manages to get down in those brief pauses…damn. The most lyrical flights you'll ever read about the most miserable experiences you hope you never face, ex.:
"My poor carcass is hollowed out, voided by anaemia. Pain echoes through it as a voice echoes in a house without furniture or curtains. There are days, long days, when the only part of me that's alive is my pain"
"Tonight, pain in the form of an impish little bird hopping wither and thither, pursued by the stabs of my needle; over all my limbs, then right in my joints, but the injection misses its target, then misses again, and the pain is sharper every time."(less)