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Jean E. Pouliot RSS Feed (Newburyport, MA United States)
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Men Explain Things To Me Updated Edition
Men Explain Things To Me Updated Edition
by Rebecca Solnit
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.77
59 used & new from $8.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mansplaining galsplained, April 15, 2015
Rebecca Solnit's "Men Explain Things to Me" is the source of the term "mansplaining," though she didn't come up with the word herself. But this series of fine, feminist essays makes that irrelevant. Solnit's prose is powered by her low-key outrage at the indignities that women continue to suffer. She discusses men who can't imagine a woman's expertise in a field, alongside harrowing (and not rare) tales gang-rapes, both here and abroad. She tells the history of women disappearing -- from genealogies and into their husbands' identities at marriage -- and the male-on-female violence at home and at work that keeps women under control. Solnit is a marvel at uncovering the unconscious drives that power violent men -- such as the feeling that they own female bodies -- that drive some rapists. Or the implicit understanding of perpetrators that acts of theft and violence against wives would not be prosecuted.

Solnit can't help but be political in the teeth of continuing attempts to reestablish the patriarchal rules that kept women from controlling their own destinies. She goes after Republicans who, bent on keeping gays from marrying, seek to enforce via support for "traditional" heterosexual marriage) the rigid gender assumptions behind that institution.

"Men Explain Things" is not a screed. It is the voice of a weary but persistent woman to examine the ills of her nation and her world. We may have come a long way, baby, but in Solnit's telling, we still have a long, long way to go.


Hitler's First Victims: The Quest for Justice
Hitler's First Victims: The Quest for Justice
by Timothy W. Ryback
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.62
72 used & new from $5.85

5.0 out of 5 stars The small print of the Third Reich, April 14, 2015
Micro-history uses the close study of a tiny slice of events to shed light on larger themes. "Hitler's First Victims" takes us to the years just before WWII to study the establishment and running of Dachau, a camp outside of Munich used to concentrate, control and punish political dissidents.

It was a time when the rule of law, as practiced by the book's hero, Bavarian prosecutor Josef Hartinger, was almost perfectly balanced with the ruthless, lawless "justice" (i.e., brutality, arbitrariness and terror) that was the Nazi's stock in trade. It was a time when a concentration camp "suicide" might actually be investigated by local authorities, and perpetrators at least threatened credibly with punishment. Watching the defenders of the old systems be outmaneuvered by the likes of Josef Himmler (then in charge of police in Munich) or slowly knuckle under to the vicious new realities was to see ordinary people silently assenting, via opting for the own survival, with the Nazi's murder machine.

"Hitler's First Victims" gives a glimpse into the machinations of Hitler as he attempted to wrest total power from president Hindenburg. The road to the Third Reich was made of such grand scheming as well as the petty and seemingly insignificant murder of a few local dissidents in the grip of an barbarous prion commandant.

A story brilliantly researched and quite clearly told.


Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir
Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir
by Eddie Huang
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.89
83 used & new from $5.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Yellow is the new black, April 14, 2015
For anyone hoping for the lighthearted source of the recent TV series, look elsewhere. Eddie Huang's "Fresh off the Boat" is the often harrowing story of a young Taiwanese immigrant trying to fit into American culture. Turned off by the standard way Asian immigrants make it in the US -- work hard, get good grades, do what your parents tell you -- Eddie dives headlong into street culture. He absorbs everything he can about hip hop, including its lingo and fashions. You can't read the book without having Urban Dictionary close to hand. Words and phrases like "shawties" (girls), "whip" (car), "for a minute" (for years) and "smash" (to have sex with) pepper every page. Though Huang is close to thirty, he writes like a rebellious fourteen-year-old street hustler.

Don't get me wrong. The book is super well-written and crazy exciting. The anecdotes-- violent, drug-addled and often misogynistic--are rich and layered. Huang's sketch of the angry dynamics of his newly-arrived family are perfect and memorable. As is his grasp of the tensions tearing at someone of a different race trying to fit in. But meseems that Huang protesteth too much. He is too anxious to sell himself as the only "real" person in a vast sea of sellouts. I felt at times that this was as much about selling seats in his restaurant as it was to exposing his life's story. Huang seems trapped by his street persona in much the same way he might have been trapped by the vapid, upwardly mobile Asians he mocks.

There is a great deal that I abhor about Huang's attitude -- his never-ending rebellion against propriety (with MFs too numerous to count) and his celebration of drugs (pot is one thing, but freebasing? Really?) -- to make his book an easy recommendation. But it gave insight into the way that at least some immigrants react to the stultifying pressures of American culture, and the desire to succeed on one's own terms.


Wireless Bluetooth Speaker- BLKBOX POP360 Hands Free Bluetooth Speaker With 360 Degree Sound - For iPhone 5, 4S, 4, 3GS, iPads, Bluetooth Android Phones, Samsung Galaxy Note, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X and all other Smart Phones, Tablets and Computers (Wicked White)
Wireless Bluetooth Speaker- BLKBOX POP360 Hands Free Bluetooth Speaker With 360 Degree Sound - For iPhone 5, 4S, 4, 3GS, iPads, Bluetooth Android Phones, Samsung Galaxy Note, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X and all other Smart Phones, Tablets and Computers (Wicked White)
Offered by TheGroupDeal
Price: $99.99
4 used & new from $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Super simple and fun to use, December 31, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This little box is the answer to my dreams -- a speaker that has a small footprint, needs no wires, is portable and has fine sound! The POP360 is practically perfect in every way qand has replaced balky/bulky speakers and cords. It is super simple, with little more than a pop top that functions as an on/off switch. An electronic voice lets you know that the device is on and pairing. Sound volume is controlled by the device providing the signal (e.g., your iPhone) and the battery lets you take the POP360 around the house with you -- no power cords or iPhone cables to deal with.

Two improvement opps for future models: there's no battery indicator, so you don't know how much juice is left in the battery. And the device doesn't appear to shut down when it is no longer in use, so you have to turn it off manually.

The POP360 is a brilliant device that has made listening to radio and podcasts way less of a hassle. I always look forward to pairing up in the morning. Love it!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2015 10:40 PM PST


Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice
Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice
Price: $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Leans too hard on polemics, October 14, 2014
It's enormously presumptuous to ask a woman whose life was upended by her husband's murder to offer a dispassionate account of the killer's trial and his subsequent glorification in the media. But that's what this case needs most of all.

Maureen Faulkner's husband, Officer Danny Faulkner, was gunned down on December 9, 1981 in Philadelphia. All evidence points to Mumia Abu-Jamal as his murderer. A former Black Panther and failed journalist, Mumia (born Wesley Cook) was at the scene, rushing across the street to where his brother (who also never gave an account of the night) was struggling with Faulkner after being pulled over for going the wrong way down a one-way street. Mumia was identified by multiple witnesses, had a bullet in his chest from Faulkner's gun, and was captured at the scene near his own gun with 5 empty cartridges. Yet Mumia insisted on his innocence despite never offering an explanation for what transpired on that fateful night. He turned the trial into a political circus. Nonetheless, a who's who of Hollywood stars and literary figures (Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Jay Gould, Susan Sarandon and others) came to his defense, believing (or assuming) he was framed by racist cops.

This is enough to make a sane person crazy. And for Maureen Faulkner, it nearly did. This book is an attempt to set down her side of the story. And she does that with a vengeance. She is furious with the liberal Hollywood crowd that believed Mumia without an adequate understanding of the facts of the case. She excoriates NPR for coming very close to giving Mumia a death-row pulpit for his musings. She is upset with the clueless college kids and others who have been gulled into supporting Mumia's cause.

But she goes too far.

She lists dozens of names of celebrities who signed an New York Times ad that supported Mumia. But she doesn't provide the text of what they signed. She neglects to mention that Philadelphia in the 1980s was notoriously racist. She plays into the racial aspect of the case by making Mumia's African American supporters to be wild, vicious animals with no regard for the law. She doesn't ask why her husband pulled Mumia's brother out of his car on the seemingly minor account of going the wrong way down a one-way street. She doesn't even clearly indicate how and where her husband was shot. If Mumia shot five times, where did the bullets go? She alludes often to the importance of reading the trial transcript, but provides only the briefest snippets.

Officer Faulkner did not deserve to die for whatever transpired that cold December night. Maureen Faulkner did not deserve to endure the unnecessary and brutal death of her husband, nor to witness the unswerving loyalty of famous people to his murderer, nor to relive her husband's death each time (as last week at Vermont's Goddard College) some institution decides to give Mumia a speaking platform. Mumia, as far as I am concerned, is an unrepentant murderer whose views need not darken our airwaves or bookshelves. But by painting her husband and all Philly cops as blameless heroes, and Mumia's supporters as sub-humans or craven liberal fools, she inadvertently exposes the societal divide that creates monsters like Mumia. "Murdered by Mumia" would have a been a far stronger book had she avoided the polemics and stuck to the way her personal tragedy was catapulted into a national cause.


Skyfall
Skyfall
DVD
Price: $12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Great action, though more than a bit derivative, October 11, 2014
This review is from: Skyfall (Amazon Instant Video)
Skyfall puts Bond through the paces of a number of recent superhero movies dealing with aging and the limitations of the human body. Bond is put out of action early in te film and has to fight to regain a semblance of his former strength and agility. This makes for a more interesting film, but it’s a device that has been exploited in Watchmen as well as the Batman franchise. The bad guy, a super-hacker (Javier Bardem) who can break into the most secure computer, has been used to great effect in Sherlock. And there's that weirdness with a couple of huge Komodo dragons that hearkens back to the sharks-with-lasers critique of the Austin Powers' film. And there's an attempt to paint Bond, a la Bruce Wayne, as the product of a horrid childhood, a facet of his character that the film steadfastly refused to explore. Why bring it up if you're not going to use it? I was less convinced by Bardem as a villain, his homosexuality (how deviant!) and was not thrilled with his ham-handed attempts to kill his enemies. For a smart guy who can destroy by remotely turning on gas lines, he relies too much on expendable henchman and military-grade weapons to do his heavy lifting . As with many villains, the need to be present personally at the death of his foes is a vanity that ultimately trips him up.

But I quibble. For its faults and not-quite-believability, I enjoyed Skyfall. The physicality of its train-top fights, the lethal threat of helicopter-led assaults, genre subverting weaponry, and the earnestness of Bond, M, Q to get the bad guys made it enjoyable. If only to discuss the endless ways it didn't make sense. But what a theme song!


Casino Royale
Casino Royale
DVD
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant twists of plotting and Craig's new, more lethal Bond, October 11, 2014
Daniel Craig's first turn as 007 was a masterful reimagining of the agent as taciturn and brutal, with the tuxedoed bon vivant as an alter ego rather than as his main personality. Bond is a lethal agent through and through, whether chasing villains up cranes, seducing a bad guy's wife or enduring excruciating torture at the hands of international weapons dealers. He is sexy and charming, but only and always as a means to an end.

The game of poker that is at the heart of the film is not as its climax, but a prelude to another hour's worth of duplicity and danger before the plot's knots are tied up. The chaos and home-wrecking destruction in Venice is as delicious visually as it is lethal to its participants. But I must say no more lest I spoil the fun!

An excellent thriller from the hard-running beginning to its ending full of loss, resolve and the exposure of the hidden motives that make the good bad and the bad good.


The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
DVD
Price: $2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doo-wee-oo-wee-ooo!, October 11, 2014
I enjoyed this extended version of the original Sergio Leone film. Great (if familiar)performances y Clint Eastwood, Eii Wallach and especially Lee Van Cleef as the deadly but clownish Tuco. The film is 98% masculine, with only two females among the thousands of cast members. And its overwhelmingly male ethic of toughness , violence and war marks it somewhat as a period piece. But the story of three men angling to find $200,000 in Confederate gold, sustains interest through the nearly 3 hours of macho, betrayal, murder and greed, leavened only a little by grim comedy. The inclusion of deleted scenes (like Clint shooting a man sneaking up on him and Tuco) did nothing to slow down the action.

A great watch, in spite of its horrible dubbing, and the source of numerous copycats. Love the way that it subverted the genre whilst celebrating it. It was a rare thing in 1967, two years after the centennial, to heap anything but praise on the Civil War. A fine listen as well, with its memorable whistled theme. Doo-wee-oo-wee-ooo!


Dockers Men's 35mm Reversible with Stitch Belt, Black/Brown, 40
Dockers Men's 35mm Reversible with Stitch Belt, Black/Brown, 40
Price: $19.99
2 used & new from $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Good" for 6 months of typical wear, October 8, 2014
A HORRIBLE belt that was not worth the money. Within 6 months, the face of the belt near the buckle had worn away. Happened on both the black and the brown sides. Just threw it in the trash. Good riddance!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2015 9:14 PM PDT


Parables of Jesus
Parables of Jesus
Price: $19.99
8 used & new from $3.53

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Parables plus" is a minus, September 22, 2014
This review is from: Parables of Jesus (DVD)
"Parables of Jesus" is a congenial and loving attempt to provide the cultural context for the parables of Jesus -- which (truth be told) can be enigmatic. But they are always pithy. Jesus didn't elaborate or explain his meaning. Unlike this illuminating yet wordy video.

Jesus did not give motivations to the priest and Levite who passed by wounded man on the way to Jericho. But our narrator does. Jesus dispenses with the Prodigal Son's waywardness in a few words: "he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation." But the video shows him as a rube being cheated by greedy locals and expands at length on his lavish parties. Jesus tells us how a man who found a pearl of great price sold everything he had. The DVD goes into detail about his negotiations with the seller, and his selling off of his paintings, pottery and furnishings.

Maybe this is carping. There are valuable insights. For instance, the Prodigal Son's demand of half of his father's estate was equivalent to wishing the old man dead. Indeed, the DVD has the effect of taming Jesus's parables -- of reducing them to lovely life lessons. But the parables are as radical in our day as they were in his. Selling everything you have was meant literally, not spiritualized into doing whatever it took to get into heaven. Try replacing the despised Samaritan with a Taliban or ISIS fighter and see how "sweet" the story really is. And the tale of the dishonest steward was a call to Jesus's disciples to be as clever and creative in their pursuit of the Kingdom as the crooked are in pursuit of patrons.

"Parables of Jesus" is well-meaning and provides easy lessons for committed Christians. But mature Christians who seek more than comfortable nostrums would be advised to look elsewhere.


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