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Bruce Kendall "BEK" RSS Feed (Southern Pines, NC)
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On the Yard (Ign Departement Maps)
On the Yard (Ign Departement Maps)
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Was Expecting Much Better, August 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Amateurish, heavy-handed verbiage from a writer who lacks originality, creativity, or aptitude. The vibe is supposed to be akin to John Fante or Bukowski, I suppose, but comes across as more sensationalistic, striving to shock or prove the writer's macho creds, but much of the time it instead comes off as the product of a severely limited imagination and skill set. I wanted to give the author the benefit of the doubt and buy into it, as I am supportive of prisoners efforts to be productive and better themselves, but this sort of writing panders to all the baser instincts and doles out shopworn sexual depictions, mindless violence and low octane philosophizing. This work reminds me of that of Jack Henry Abbot, whose writings Norman Mailer infamously espoused back in the early '80s. It's about the same caliber and a similar style. If you want to read a grand book written by a prisoner, I would suggest Henri Charriere's account of his life of crime, incarceration in and escape from Devil's Island, Papillon. While maybe not the most truthful tale ever told, it's at least very well written and entertaining. On the Yard is one step above Dimestore trash, to be perfectly blunt about it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2014 12:49 PM PDT


Chance
Chance
Price: $0.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Conrad's Usual Standards, June 28, 2014
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This review is from: Chance (Kindle Edition)
I must begin by saying that Conrad is one of my most highly revered novelists. Nostromo is a masterpiece. The Secret Sharer and Heart of Darkness are, along with Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, the greatest novellas ever written. Lord Jim is great. Victory has it's major merits. Under Western Eyes and The Secret Agent are finely wrought genre pieces. Why then the two star rating for Chance? Frankly, it just strikes me as boring and repetitive and possibly a case of Conrad striving to be too British in the mode of his friend and fellow novelist Ford Maddox Ford, or even Charles Dickens. For readers used to Conrad's concision and condensed urgency, this novel meanders and tracks back on itself and feels mushy and formless. And to top things off, Marlowe (yes, THAT Marlowe, the same narrator as in Heart of Darkness) comes across as a stiff, unlikeable, bore, with a stereotypical seaman's disparaging, misogynistic view of women. I know that Conrad is all about unreliable narrator's, but the notion doesn't really work to rescue the situation in this instance. In summation, even Shakespeare produced the occasional dud (All's Well That Ends Well, for instance), so I just mark this up to Conrad's attempt at fulfilling a Ford Maddox Ford writing assignment, but unfortunately, the grade is a D or a C- at best.


Legendär - Die Diva Kollektion - 130 Klassiche Aufnahmen
Legendär - Die Diva Kollektion - 130 Klassiche Aufnahmen
Price: $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Beat it for Value, April 2, 2014
Like the title says: Legends....as far as popular music female deities go, they don't come much more legendary than this trio. Piaf, Holliday, Ella....the names are immortal in the annals of chanteuses/torch singers/song stylists, etc. etc. The recording quality, while maybe not top notch on every cut, is beyond your usual budget disc standard. More than adequate in most cases. As this is an MP3 download, I'm uncertain as to the particulars regarding the recording sources, but I've heard most of these tracks via various standards in the past (LP, cassette tape, CD) and these measure up quite well in comparison. I'm guessing that the source is German or Dutch and I notice there is a companion collection featuring Doris Day, Peggy Lee and Shirley Bassey from the same distributor.

At any rate, suffice it to say that to fans of these timeless divas, this collection provides hours of listening pleasure for a nominal monetary outlay. A REAL DEAL! Highly recommended.


Puccini Essentials
Puccini Essentials
Price: $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Selections, March 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Puccini Essentials (MP3 Music)
This is a bargain download released by Warner Classics, apparently either unavailable or very hard to track down on CD. The selections are all from first quality recordings, featuring artists up to the task when it comes to interpreting Puccini. Most of the female arias are capably handled by Dame Kiri (Manon, Madame Butterfly) , and while Zubin Mehta might not be the first conductor who springs to mind when I think of Puccini, his contributions are more than adequate in the Tosca selections. A couple lesser lights are not so bad here, particularly Jose Cura, who, while no Domingo or Bjorling, does a credible job in the Manon and La Rondine arias, not so hot in the Butterfly and Turandot. The primary draw for this purchase is value. At a little over $5 at the time of this review, it is a definite bargain. One of the great things about Amazon MP3s is that the prospective customer can sample the music before purchasing. So give the samples a listen and see if you don't agree with me that this is one of the better classical music deals currently available online.


Seaplane Shirts Men's Lime Gingham Button Down Shirt
Seaplane Shirts Men's Lime Gingham Button Down Shirt
Offered by SEAPLANE SHIRTS
Price: $69.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comfort and Style, March 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is my second Seaplane Shirts purchase. I've been extremely pleased with the quality of materials and construction, as well as the speedy delivery of both orders. I definitely feel that these shirts are comfortable, high quality and offer exceptional value for what one pays for them. I will definitely be recommending this company to friends and associates.

BEK


Spartacus: Blood and Sand
Spartacus: Blood and Sand
DVD
Price: $24.99

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blech! and Sand, March 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is just abysmally LCD (lowest common denominator) tripe. By all means, rent HBO's Rome, which has superior acting, scriptwriting, historical accuracy. This isn't even mildly entertaining. At least Bob Guccione's Caligula had a great cast and some actual eroticism. This CGI mess has zilch going for it. The script is a tale told by an idiot. Actors roam around supposed Thrace in the snow in threadbare costumes, displaying nary a goose bump even in the most frigid conditions. The fighting scenes are just gratuitous carnage, no momentum or suspense whatsoever. At least in Alexander or Troy, though the fighting techniques were highly stylized and even unbelievable, at least there was a context that allowed for willing suspension of disbelief. Achilles, for instance, is a demigod, so seeing him fly through the air and perform impossible acrobatics was allowable. The action scenes in this Spartacus debacle are jus plain risible, conjuring up Monty Python at it's most ludicrously sublime "Tennis, Anyone?" . I guess if you want a good laugh and maybe have a popcorn party in which you and your friends can yell Mystery Science Theater type comments at the TV screen, this would be worth renting. Other than that, my heart genuinely repines for those who take this tripe seriously and write five star reviews extolling its supposed virtues.


Leon Blum
Leon Blum
DVD

5.0 out of 5 stars I Didn't Know, March 9, 2014
This review is from: Leon Blum (Amazon Instant Video)
I had only the vaguest inkling of who Leon Blum was. I certainly never was exposed to any biographical information about him in the hours of history assignments I was given throughout high school and college. I am grateful to the filmmakers, therefor, for cluing me in to some degree. He was obviously an important figure in modern French and indeed world history, a brave, stalwart leader who stood for "the common man," for true democracy and against tyranny, injustice and repression in the workplace, in government and in society. He was also an incredibly brave man, standing firm in his principles at a time when most of his countrymen were caving in to one degree or another. He was a hero in every sense of the word and I am really happy that I rented this video and that I now have a new icon to add my personal pantheon.


Melmoth the Wanderer (Annotated)
Melmoth the Wanderer (Annotated)
Price: $0.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as I recalled it, March 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This novel starts out brilliantly. The initial setting and "setup" is genuinely eerie and unsettling. Unfortunately, Maturin can't reign in his impulsiveness and the work drifts off into a series of digressions that end up testing the patience of even the most earnest reader. If you think Poe is overly wordy, just trust me in saying he has nothing on Maturin. An apter title might have been "Melmoth the Meanderer," as the verbiage sinks into a gothic quagmire of excess and the plot(s) lose all semblence of cohesion, reflecting the descent into madness of the novel's main protagonist, which, I know one might argue, is actually a rather postmodern thing, but I think that is giving Maturin a lot more credit than he warrants.

I will say that when I first approached this novel when I was in college and was researching dark romantic and gothic literature I was a lot more receptive and could more willingly suspend my disbelief. But in retrospect, there are a lot better novels written at approximately the same period that are a lot more accomplished. The nearest in terms of theme and genre is The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki. It offers up the same sort of delusional, scattered psyche type of presentation, with similarly numerous digressions and convolutions, yet Potocki pulls it all off in a much more accomplished manner, owing to a superior mastery of storytelling and a knack for creating actual suspense, not to mention his superior verbal artistry.

Then there are the more well known 19th c "horror novels", such as Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, available in an inexpensive Kindle edition, and Ann Radcliffe's complete works, available in a Delphi edition on this site, all of which provide better written examples of Dark Romanticism and Gothic Lit than Maturin provides.


Report from the Interior
Report from the Interior
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $6.94

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Artiste, March 1, 2014
Paul Auster was high on my list of contemporary authors back in the '80s. His "New York Trilogy" and "Moon Palace" were particular favorites and I have continued to read and enjoy his fiction since then, but still feel that he peaked in terms of literary quality, with "Moon Palace" in 1989. During that era, Auster was in the forefront of the novelists who were experimenting with what can be loosely termed postmodernism, not that he was particularly hamstrung by such categorization or probably thought himself an exponent of any particular movement, but his fiction did contain elements of postmodern theory, particularly in terms of self-reflexivity, unreliable narrator, etc. I remember thinking when I read those works at the time how many parallels there were to Auster's style and that of another author I was particularly enamored with at the time, Vladimir Nabokov. I even mentioned the parallel to Auster when I spoke to him briefly after a lecture he had given at San Francisco State, where I was attending grad school (he had accepted the invite of Geoffrey Greene, an excellent prof in the English Dept at SF State at the time). In reading "Report from the Interior" now, I am also reminded to some degree of Nabokov's autobiography, "Speak Memory." In both instances I am startled by the precociousness of the young boys who would later go on to become writers. How on earth can one recall incidents from so long past with such vivid detail? Is there something about the artist's temperament or faculties that allows for such focused awareness? Or is the imagination brought into play to provide reinforcement and augmentation to the barely recalled incidents, using the same creative technique employed by the novelist? I know that novelists such as Truman Capote have photographic memories, but still it would seem that incidents from childhood could be extremely difficult to reconstruct with the degree of detail that some authors claim. In fairness to Auster, he does at least admit that some of the childhood incidents he recounts are sketchy, I am still skeptical that his recall is as vivid as we are supposed to believe.

What disappoints me more, however, is the underlying tone of these memoirs. They are just a bit on the precious side and more than a trifle self mollifying. Auster is a cool guy, I already knew that. He spends a good deal of the book (at least the latter half) trying to prove it. Also, this book is purportedly intended as a companion piece to Auster's other recent autobiographical work, "Winter Journal." "Winter Journal," according to the press release, was documenting Auster's physical journey through life, while "Report from the Interior" is what the title implies, a map of the author's inner life. Again, that just strikes me as too self-consciously "artistic" and artificial a conceit. "See the young artiste surviving on crumbs and cheap French cigarettes in a fifth floor garret in Paris....see the young student radical finally galvanized by the protest movement at Columbia...there's a certain Zelig, or Forrest Gump quality that unfortunately attaches itself to such recollections. Equally annoying is Auster's use of second person narration in describing all this. It smacks of Jay Mcinerny and ""Bright Lights, Big City," especially as the New York City association is so apparent.

Which brings me to aspects of the book that I did very much enjoy. Auster is only a couple years older than I am and his recollections of coming of age in '60s Manhattan brought numerous inner smiles. His description of the Times Square area and his venturing into a burlesque parlor was particularly vivid. I think I might have even seen the same old burlesque queen he describes.

In terms of recommendation, I would steer readers to Auster's earlier autobio, "Winter Journal," as it covers much of the same ground in a bit more coherent manner. I wouldn't categorize Auster as a particularly strong or compelling nonfiction author, certainly not in the same league as Auster the novelist. Try one of his '80s novels....NY Trilogy, Moon Palace, etc. or Book of Illusions. All of them are first rate and will keep his reputation secure for years to come.

BK


Trading For Dummies
Trading For Dummies
by Lita Epstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.58
53 used & new from $14.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Bad Overview, February 28, 2014
This review is from: Trading For Dummies (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As with most of the books in this series of publications, this one sticks to the formula of providing very basic, but well organized information regarding its subject matter. I don't have any issue with the presentation, other than there is inevitably not a whole lot of substance to any of the subjects covered. Most of the info could easily be accessed online even by people with limited computer skills, however, the formatting is what one pays for in buying these books and the information, though decidedly skimpy, does have a logical progression and covers all the fundamentals a novice investor might feel he/she needs before entering the investment waters. Charts and graphs are explained in enough detail to at least clear up some of my confusion (my eyes tend to automatically glaze over when confronted with anything resembling a chart, graph, table, etc.). One thing that is lacking in most of these "for Dummies" books is a good bibliography or some kind of reading list for where to go for more detailed information on the subjects so narrowly covered.


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