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Jason L. Smith "Jason" RSS Feed (Baltimore, MD)

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Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon Insanely Great
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon Insanely Great
by Rick Meyerowitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $30.16
96 used & new from $4.51

17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superficial Coffee Table Book, October 26, 2010
Do not be fooled by its edgy title, this is a very shallow book that provides no real insights into the minds of the creators of the National Lampoon; instead, it is full a brief, bland personal reminiscences from friends and colleagues. These were padded with reprints of material from National Lampoon, to make one huge and bloated coffee table book.

It might be worth it, if you're interested in the reprinted material, but you can find more thoughtful biographical information on Wikipedia.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 27, 2013 2:16 PM PST

The Lego Book
The Lego Book
by Daniel Lipkowitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $40.00
119 used & new from $0.36

36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but a Catalog, June 18, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Lego Book (Hardcover)
My wife and I are both big fans of Legos, and I bought these books for her, in the hopes of seeing the typically nice job DK does of displaying something's visual history.

Both of these books devote a very small amount of pages to Lego's history, showing woefully few photographs of older Lego sets, Lego sculptures, and related items. The majority of the books is devoted to multiple page spreads of JUST the products which Lego has currently on the market. The photographs of these products are not even very interesting, and could have been lifted directly from Lego's own marketing material, for all I know.

Its a dull work which almost reads like a product brochure, rather than what it purports to be, a tribute to a very fun toy with a long and interesting history.

When my wife looked at the book, she politely asked me to return it, which I did.

Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 26, 2015 8:28 AM PDT

The Mikado (1959 Television Cast Recording)
The Mikado (1959 Television Cast Recording)
Price: $17.15
25 used & new from $9.29

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mikado on Fast Forward, January 12, 2009
I discovered Gilbert and Sullivan when I was in High School. As I learned more and more about Gilbert and Sullivan, I would invariably hear adults wax nostalgic about a production of the Mikado they once remembered seeing on TV starring Groucho Marx. I had all but given up hope of ever hearing his performance, until I discovered this CD on Amazon.

Having finally listened to it, I have to say that it is funny on several different levels. First of all, "The Mikado" is a fairly long play, and for the television production, they had to squeeze the entire story into about an hour. Second, the producers of the play were very cognisant of the fact that viewers were tuned in to see Groucho, not Gilbert and Sullivan. Putting these two facts together, we receive a production which almost seems to be played on fast forward, with musicians playing songs at a much fast tempo, and singers singing only the barest minimum of songs, all so that we can get to the bits of the play that have Groucho (playing Koko, the Lord High Executioner) in them.

Groucho delivers a sterling and hilarious performance (as he always does), but this might not be the best way to enjoy the full glory of "The Mikado." Still, there are many other productions of the play which are available; but there will only ever be one Groucho Marx. It seems a fair trade-off to me.

Popeye The Sailor: 1933-1938: The Complete First Volume
Popeye The Sailor: 1933-1938: The Complete First Volume
Offered by Store2Door
Price: $29.99
23 used & new from $17.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT BOXED SET, August 17, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I can only echo the sentiments of EVERY other reviewer (and when was the last time you saw a product get ALL four or five star reviews): This DVD boxed set is amazing. The picture quality is so far superior to any other version of these cartoons which has been released that you will be amazed. After having watched a budget DVD which had "Sinbad Meets Popeye the Sailor", my wife and I were totally amazed by the quality of the colors on the restored version in this set. You see a degree of depth and complexity to the animation which I had never noticed before. This set is AMAZING and I am eagerly looking forward to Volume 2 when its relased.

Disney Comics: The Classics Collection
Disney Comics: The Classics Collection
by Walt Disney
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $3.84

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Reprint, September 26, 2006
One of the most glaring deficiencies of the marketting for this book is that no-where online, or on the front cover are the books contents listed. This book contains comic book adaptations of the following Disney movies, "Snow White", "Bambi", "Dumbo", "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan". Additionally, contains a short comic, "The Seven Dwarves Meet Dumbo." These comic books were published from between 1941 and the mid 1950 and are presented in chronological order according to when the movies were released, not when the comics were released.

They are reprinted from photographs (or scans possibly) of the original comic books. No effort has been taken to touch them up or modify them in any way. While I am sure that partially done for questions of expediency and cost-effectiveness, I think that more than anything this is a method of being most true to your source material. In the 80s, when the Smithsonian chose to offer a book reprinting classic comic books, this is the method they chose as well. I like the effect and think that these classic comics are best presented that way. This means, of course, that you see some cross-hatching from the printing, and the pages are yellowed slightly, but you get the feeling that you are actually reading the old comic books .

Another reviewer implied that the binding of this book was low-grade, but I disagree. I'm not an expert but I feel that it was very well done, with acid-free heavy-stock pages. Also, the photography/scan job was done very well (unlike many similar reprints on the market). All the pages are square and nothing about the layout detracts from enjoyment of the art.

My biggest gripe about this volume is that no effort is made to give these comics any sort of context. There is no introduction explaining the thought process behind adapting these movies in comic book form, no indication if there were any other adaptations of these movies (I'm pretty sure the Snow White comic was reprinted a couple of different times with different covers, its publication date in the book was actually after "Bambi"). There wasn't even any effort made to give credit to the original writers and artists. I would have especially liked to see who had done the art for some of these comics, especially Snow White.

So, all in all, I think it was a good effort, though some more work could have gone into giving a bit more explanation about the material being presented.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2006 11:31 AM PDT

On, Off: A Novel
On, Off: A Novel
by Colleen McCullough
Edition: Hardcover
194 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Untiil The End, August 28, 2006
This review is from: On, Off: A Novel (Hardcover)
Colleen McCullough is an amazing author, I have liked everything of hers that I have read, however I am the first to admit that she is a difficult author. I have noticed that when I begin one of her novels, if I haven't read any of her writing for a while, I am put off by her prose style, and the admittedly very stilted way in which she writes dialogue. Much of it, though, seems to be a question of accepting and getting into the rhythm of her stylized way of writing. Once I get accustomed to it, I find her books to be very interesting. "On, Off" was no exception. It is an exciting mystery story about a serial killer who stalked teenaged girls in Connecticut in the 1960s. Unlike some other novels in the genre ("Silence of the Lambs" for example), this is less of a thriller and more an old-school whodunit, with a unique and distinctive cast of characters, any one of whom could be the murderer.

The mystery itself was full of twists and turns and red herrings and kept me guessing right up until the end. It actually kept me guessing past the end, really, because even after the killer has been revealed for all to see, almost none of mystery of the novel has been explained. In a rather contrived epilogue to the story, McCullough attempts to explain all the unexplained portions of the book. As this is all done in the space of three or four pages, it is rushed and not very satisfying. There were glaring jumps in logic which she attempted to explain away, gloss over, or just ignore. There is never even a really satisfactory explanation of the book's title "On, Off" anywhere.

Bottom-line: McCullough paints an incredibly elaborate word picture of a truly mysterious series of crimes. Her story had me rivetted with the hope that by the time I had finished it, I would understand what was going on. The ending fails to deliver. The mystery was too complex and not resolved well at all. So all in all, it is a beautiful book to read, but the ending is rushed and not satisfying.

Music You Can't Get Out Of You
Music You Can't Get Out Of You
Price: $18.47
32 used & new from $6.93

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe If It Had Been Framed Better, April 4, 2006
I think its significant that this was the only PDQ Bach album which didn't include any sort of framing sequence -- that is to say, there were no intros or outros to any of the pieces, which put the work into any sort of a context, humorous or otherwise. As such, I found it to be a very confusing album. Add to this, the fact that the humor of some of these pieces relies on a visual component which, oddly enough, doesn't really translate well on a CD. As such, I think this is just about the worst PDQ Bach album of the bunch. Of course, Peter Shickelie is a great composer, and so even the bad stuff is worth listening to, just don't expect the belly-laughs you might "Oedipus Tex" or "The 1712 Overture." Its only for hard-core fans, or music afficianods who can catch the frequently subtle musical jokes in the purely orchestral pieces.

P.D.Q. Bach: WTWP Classical Talkity-Talk Radio
P.D.Q. Bach: WTWP Classical Talkity-Talk Radio
32 used & new from $0.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Not My Favorite, April 4, 2006
This is a satire of the annoying disc jockey "personalities" who are all-too-apparent on radio today. As is so often the case with this sort of satire, it mimicks what its mocking a little too closely while not providing enough in the way of humor. There are some good pieces, like the PDQ Bach folksongs, but the music faded to the background when viewed alongside the obnoxious radio personalities. Some of it, was not only annoying, but kind of poinless, like the Elvis parody. I'm a huge fan of PDQ, but this album was too much even for me.

Black Forest Bluegrass
Black Forest Bluegrass
Price: $18.27
35 used & new from $2.45

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Album But You Need The Liner Notes, April 4, 2006
This review is from: Black Forest Bluegrass (Audio CD)
Look at Peter Shickelie's web-site. He sounds like he's a little bit annoyed at the relase of this album on CD. The reason: the title piece on the album, Black Forest Bluegrass, was written entirely in German. Apparently, he wrote it when he found out a large group of Germans would be attending one of his PDQ Bach concerts and he wanted to provide them with a piece in their native language. When it was produced as an album, the liner notes containing the full translation were printed on the album cover so that those of us not fluent in German could enjoy it. It was never meant to be presented without the translation, and yet, when it was produced on CD, they left out the translation, making the entire song unintelligible. Fortunately, its pretty easy to find the translation online (like on Shickelie's own website).

Even without the words, Black Forest Bluegrass is pleasent to listen to and quite a clever merger of bluegrass and Baroque music. There are two other pieces on the album: No-No Nonette, a piece which uses toys as some of the instruments (pop-gun, music box, a doll that says "Ma-Ma", etc). Its clever, but pretty slow. "Now Hear Me Through" is an excerpt from "Diverse Airs On Sundry Notions" which are a series of advertisements composed by and purportedly endorsed by PDQ Bach. These are cute, but brief. The remainder of these fake-ads appear on one of his other albums "Report From Hoople." You get the impression that these are the leftovers that they couldn't fit on that album.

All-in-all Blackforest Bluegrass is the one piece that really makes this album, and if you're going to buy it (which I reccomend if you like Peter Shickelie's other work) make sure that you download a translation so that you can enjoy it fully.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2011 11:53 AM PDT

M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link/Myth-Nomers and Impervections 2-in-1 (Myth 2-in-1)
M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link/Myth-Nomers and Impervections 2-in-1 (Myth 2-in-1)
by Robert Asprin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
59 used & new from $0.01

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Good Series Jumps the Shark, November 11, 2005
I'd like to present the Myth Adventures books from my perspective. When I started reading them, they were still fairly new -- only the first three books had been published. I read and enjoyed these, and waited eagerly for the next book to come out. These books revolved around the mis-adventures (mis-adventures/myth adventures, get it???) of a would be wizard named Skeeve, and his mentor/cohort a green demon named Aahz. They were cute, they were fun, I'd reccomend the early books, especially to younger readers just getting a taste for fantasy novels.

At the time, Robert Asprin didn't disappoint, he was producing Myth Adventures books with great regularity for many years. Then, suddenly, "M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link" came out, which he described in the introduction as a kind of transitional book. From this point on, what he said that he wanted to do was alternate between writing books which would be essentially collections of short stories told from the persepctives of various members of the supporting cast (the "M.Y.T.H. Inc." books), and the traditional Myth Adventures books told from the perspective of Skeeve.

I may have been young and naive at the time but what this said to me was "I have run out of ideas. Please look at this book of short stories while I stall for time with my publisher."

I suppose that "M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link" wasn't that bad a book, it just feels very forced when compared with his earlier stuff. I looked forward to him getting back on track with his next book. The next book was entitled "Myth-nomers and Im-Pervections" (I still don't quite get the title). Not only did it feel just as forced as the other book, it was incredibly dull and tedious. The plot was way too drawn out -- kind of reaffirming my whole "Out of Ideas" theory.

These books were not as bad as the series was going to get (I reviewed the next two books in the series as well), but they were still pretty darn bad. I reccomend that you stop reading this series with "Little Myth Marker".

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