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Stanley W. Rogouski Jr. "Stanley Rogouski" RSS Feed (New Jersey, USA)

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Union County literature today (Between two rivers)
Union County literature today (Between two rivers)
2 used & new from $246.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Bruce Longstreet, December 18, 2014
The late Bruce Longstreet's poem "route 22" is easily the best thing ever written about Route 22 in Union and Springfield (not that there's a lot of competition).

Every Time I Check My Messages, Somebody Thinks I'm Dead: A Memoir of Occupy Wall Street
Every Time I Check My Messages, Somebody Thinks I'm Dead: A Memoir of Occupy Wall Street
Price: $2.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first person account of the occupation of Zuccotti Park., January 31, 2013
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Daniel Levine spent two months working the information table in Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street encampment and it shows.

Every Time I Check My Messages, Somebody Thinks I'm Dead is a heartbreaking account of the now world famous protest, from its early promise to its destruction on November 15th by the NYPD. Levine doesn't sugarcoat the negative side of Occupy Wall Street, but he keeps it in perspective, showing a detailed, intimate knowledge of its ups and downs of the now world famous protest movement that very few newspaper reporters, even the ones who tried to stay sympathetic and objective, have ever demonstrated.

The biographical asides sometimes get a bit too detailed (we want to get back to his intimate relationship with "occupied" Zuccotti Park as soon as possible), they do, nevertheless, enrich our understanding of what took place in lower Manhattan between September 17th and November 15th in 2011. As a twenty something college student from upstate New York, Levine is almost perfectly representative of the kind of protester he writes about. He's "main stream come to Wall Street," an American everyman in the belly of the beast.

His sometimes hilarious but still sympathetic accounts of the homeless, the mentally ill, and the various professional protesters and self-promoters deepen our understanding of why the Occupation of Zuccotti Park soured, even before the police moved in with their nightsticks and pepper spray. Occupy Wall Street was a movement, not only of young, college educated intellectuals but also of broken, deeply vulnerable people that was faced with the world's biggest, most powerful police force under the command of a mayor who was also a Wall Street insider. Its destruction was as inevitable as it was heartbreaking. This memoir allows us to see it from the inside.

Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848
Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848
by Jill Harsin
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from $18.62

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Survey of 19th Century French Radicalism, November 14, 2011
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Victor Hugo's fictional account of the student uprising of 1832 in Les Miserables is so vividly written that it will always form the images of 19th Century French republicanism in the popular imagination.

Jill Harsin's barricades is a good historical overview of the same era. It moves a little too quickly and is drying written in parts, but since it's one of the only detailed accounts of the movement that existed between the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 in English, it deserves 5 stars.

Among other things, you leave wondering if all of those tourists snapping photos of Mont Saint-Michel are aware that all through the 1830s and 1840s it was used as a concentration camp for political prisoners.

August Blanqui, an important but forgotten historical figure (the real precursor to Lenin), is discussed in great detail.

October 1, 2011: The Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge (Kindle Single)
October 1, 2011: The Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge (Kindle Single)
Price: $1.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally: A Serious Report on Occupy Wall Street, October 27, 2011
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The "reporting" that the corporate media has done on Occupy Wall Street has, with a few exceptions, fallen into one of two categories, lazy journalism or outright propaganda.

Will Bunch is one of those "few exceptions." Even though his article is unabashedbly in favor of the Occupy Wall Street movement, he actually takes the time to talk to the people involved, give a detailed account of the march to the Brooklyn Bridge, and try to place the event in some kind of context. Whether you're a supporter or a critic, you will come away having learned something.

Well worth the 99 cents.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 26, 2011 1:33 PM PST

Rob Roy (Penguin Classics)
Rob Roy (Penguin Classics)
by Sir Walter Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.13
112 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars More Diana Vernon Less Andrew Fairservice, April 28, 2011
Diana's agent should sue.

Scott creates one of the best heroines in the history of British literature, Diana Vernon, and then shortchanges her.

This long, badly plotted, wordy book comes thrillingly alive whenever she's "on screen." But she's kept in the background. Instead we get to spend endless wordy pages with the comic relief, Andrew Fairservice and Nicol Jarvie, two servicable but hardly outstanding characters.

One gets the sense that Scott, the true poet who was on the side of the Jacobites without realizing it, is uncomfortable with his Diana. Instead of venturing outside and experiencing the adventure that his cardboard protagonist Francis Osbaldistone claims to want, he decides to nestle comfortably at home in front of the fire and listen to a contemporary easy listening bagpipe compilation.

In other words, Scott wrote the outline for a great romance that could have rivaled Wuthering Heights or Romeo and Juliet, but, instead, settled for gobs and gobs of Scottish local color.

Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go
DVD ~ Keira Knightley
Offered by Mediaflix
Price: $7.77
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kindler Gentler 1984, February 5, 2011
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (DVD)
(Warning: Spoilers Below)

The first thing to note about Never Let Me Go is how utterly realistic it is.

In the real world, young, underpaid Chinese workers have the life sucked out of them in order to make the cheap laptop I'm typing on. Children in southern Iraq grow up with birth defects caused by the depleted uranium fired by American tanks in 1990 and then 2003 to keep the country under control so I can keep filling my car with gas. The Irish, Greek, and Icelandic people are required to make painful budget cuts so that the bankers can keeping giving one another seven figure bonuses.

In "Never Let Me Go" an entire exploited race of young people are brought up for the sole purpose of harvesting their organs. It's the perfect narrative distillation of the exploitive, near vampirelike nature of late capitalism.

Here's the film's brilliant twist. While the Chinese, Mexican, or Iraqi poor would be unlikely to elicit the sympathy of a lot of rich Americans, the exploited race in Never Let Me Go is made up entirely of good looking, blond, white Anglo Saxons (although almost certainly not Protestants) who go to an expensive boarding school. Outwardly they're privileged, well-dressed, well-fed, and superficially well-educated. Except for one heartbreaking primal scream near the end of the film, they never rebel against their fate. They never cause any trouble. They don't take drugs, kill one another, fight, adopt violent religious fundamentalism, or do anything that most of the world's exploited people do. The exploiters, the "normal" people, on the other hand, look like mundane, everyday British citizens.

The impossibly beautiful Carey Mulligan, who looks as if she just stepped out of a painting by Leonardo or Botticelli, plays Cathy H, and her role is to be a "carer." What she really is is a Kapo, a condemned prisoner who gets to live a little longer in exchange for helping run the extermination camp. Her two best friends, played by Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightly have been engaged in a "long term" love affair, as long as it can be under their circumstances, even though Garfield's character and Cathy H are genuine soulmates. The only hope any of them have is "deferral," the idea that if any two of them can prove that they're genuinely in love, they can live a few years longer together. The way, they imagine, that they can prove it is by creating art, something that reveals their souls.

Deferral, in the end, is an illusion, and this, in turn, makes the fate of the doomed young people in Never Let Me Go crueler than the fate of any Jew in the Holocaust. In Roman Polanski's film "The Pianist," Wadysaw Szpilman saves his life by playing Chopin for a Nazi officer. The Nazi, seeing that Szpilman has a soul, brings him food and shelters him. No such mercy is found in the world of "Never Let Me Go." No work of art can reach people who govern the lives of the doomed, young protagonists. They are cold, utterly logical, and terrifyingly polite vampires.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
by William L. Shirer
Edition: Paperback
160 used & new from $1.42

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cowardness of the German Officer Corps, February 2, 2011
There's a remarkable passage in Shelby Foote's history of the Civil War where Foote speculates on the true nature of patriotism and courage. Describing Pickett's Charge, Lee's epic mistake during the Battle of Gettysburg, Foote first acknowledges the tremendous courage it took for the Confederate troops to march across a mile of open field in the face of the Union Army's guns. But then he goes a step further. True courage and true patriosm, he says, would have been to defy Lee and refuse to make the charge, to tell him he was making a horrible mistake and ordering Pickett's division to committ suicide.

This is the underlying theme of Shirer's book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The German soldier was undoubtedly brave in battle, but genuine courage and genuine patriotism would have been to defy Hitler and not obey orders. Tragically, although many in the higher levels of the German officer corps were aware that Hitler was no patriot, but an evil, demonic man leading his country to destruction, few of them had the courage or the imagination to disobey his orders. There was something lacking in the German soul, Shirer argues, that prevented even the best educated Germans from the best families from stopping the Nazis destroying their country in an act of suicidal folly.

The book, in the end, is Tolstoyan for, as Tolstoy argued in War and Peace, Kings and generals, in the end, have little effect on history. Ordinary Germans made Hitler possible. It was ordinary British, Russian, and American soldiers, not the Christian aristocrats on the German general staff, who finally had the courage to fight and die to bring down the Third Reich.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2011 8:31 AM PDT

DVD ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: $4.17
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33 of 76 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Defy the hype and HATE this movie., January 29, 2011
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This review is from: Inception (DVD)
You're not supposed to understand Inception.

The badly written, convoluted plot is the marketing hook.

How do you sell this concept to the studios? The movie will cost over 100 million dollars. There will be no spinoff products, toys, T-shirts, games. It won't be a sequel or a movie within a proven genre. It will be too complicated for most people to understand on one viewing.

First of all, you take Chris Nolan, a proven money maker, who, thanks to Heath Ledger, had a huge hit in Dark Knight. You're guaranteed to draw a large number of Dark Knight fans into the theater on opening day. Then you cast a star with a large fan base, Leonardo DiCaprio. Then you spend a lot of money on marketing. You create a massive buzz of hype around the film just before it opens.

That guarantees you at least 100 million dollars.

Here's the unique marketing hook. You need a bad script, one that's almost impossible to make sense of, one that makes the opening chapter to "The Sound and the Fury" seem surprisingly lucid.

You've already got one. It turns out that Chris Nolan, who's already got a huge fan base, has a vanity project he's been working on for 10 years. Then you create a second buzz. Get every pseudo-intellectual with a Youtube account or a web log to praise Inception as "so good you have to see it several times to understand it."

And there's how you make your money, peer pressure. Most people won't feel confident enough to say "it was a bad movie." Instead they'll say "well everybody else liked it so I must be missing something." That will guarantee that you have enough repeat viewers to make a profit.

I don't intend to see it again. I'd recommend you pass on it.

The script was shockingly bad, full of holes and inconsistencies.

A Japanese tycoon hires a man to infiltrate the dreams of his American competitor's son in order to plant the idea that the father's company should be broken up. It's very, very, very important that the son be fooled into thinking it's his own idea. Why? As long as he decides to break up the company, who cares how he got the idea. Heres a better way. Hire hookers to seduce the son, take photos, blackmail him. Voila. Problem solved. It worked on Elliot Spitzer, didn't it?

The Japanese multi-billionaire doesn't seem to have checked DiCaprio's resume. If you're going to hire a man to infiltrate your competitors dreams, it might make sense to check up on his references. Hmm. He's obsessed with his dead wife. She continually appears in his dreams trying to drag him into hell. Might want to pass on that one.

Marion Cotillard's agent should sue. She gets no chance to act. Any pretty woman with a foreign accent would have done. Her name is "mal." That's "evil" in French. She played Edith Piaf in an earlier movie. One of the film's clues is a song by Edith Piaf. Oh how clever. If "Mal" had been Anglo Saxon instead of French, her first name would have been "Evil," but "Evil Smith" or "Evil Jones" would have been a bit too comic, so they went for French. Baudelaire is rolling over in his grave. If the French invaded Hollywood and brought the guillotine, I would understand.

Ellen Page was wasted. If you're going to infiltrate someone's dreams, why not use a little subtlety. Why throw the guy in a van and hook him up to a machine? Why not get a young woman, Ellen page perhaps, to get close to him and manipulate him into telling her everything he knows? It would save a lot of bullets. It should have been her movie.

And so on.

Have the confidence to defy the hype and HATE this movie. You'll thank yourself in a few years.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2012 1:58 PM PST

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
DVD ~ Michael Nyqvist
Price: $9.94
28 used & new from $1.42

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Convoluted and Hypocritical, January 13, 2011
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This movie does have some strengths. It manages to convey the idea that there's something rotten at the heart of Sweden's well-ordered, social democratic state. Since most of it was shot just before or after sunrise and sunset, it's visually quite beautiful.

But it's not the progressive, anti-misogynist film it thinks it is.

Let's take the heroine, Lisbeth Salander. The fact that she's already, at 24, a fully developed super genius means that we don't get to see her confront and overcome the limitations the patriarchy puts on her. Compare her to Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs. We get to see Clarice struggling with her own demons as she confronts the dark side of the male sex, and, ultimately, to overcome them. Lisbeth is confronted, not by an evil, but fascinating man like Hannibal Lector, but her dull, sadistic, rapist of a guardian. He's so forgettable, I can barely remember his name. She doesn't defeat what he represents, she simply overpowers him physically. It's more Dirty Harry style revenge against comic book evil than a milestone in the development of a young woman discovering her own strengths.

Take the hero, Mikael Blomkvist. He's just not interesting enough to be the object of Lisbeth's sexual and intellectual interest. He's a passive cipher. And this movie, unlike Silence of the Lambs, which relegates the "good" men to the background and puts the young woman at center stage, crowds the narrative with this frumpy, middle-aged bore.

There's the villain (or is it villains) at the center of the narrative. Unlike Hannibal Lector, this guy (Harriet's brother) is so forgettable I can't even remember his name. He's a Nazi who likes to kill Jewish women. If you really have to make your main villain a Nazi, that would indicate a lack of originality. Would Hannibal Lector have been any scarier had he been motivated by racism? No. He's terrifying because we're unsure exactly what motivates him. Sweden may have a few right wing, racist extremists in high positions of power, but the Sweden depicted in this movie makes George Bush's America look like Woodstock. I simply didn't find it credible.

I'll still give the movie three stars. The film is trying to dramatize something here that's worth dramatizing, that even in a western democracy there are dark forces at work few of us understand. And he does convey a real sense of dread and evil. But on the whole I found it very tabloid like. The film gives us disturbing images of women who have been raped and tortured, but, like with Natalee Holloway or Jon Benet Ramsey, it appeals heavily to our voyeurism.

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Borzoi Books)
The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Borzoi Books)
by Tim Wu
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.69
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was Heaven's Gate Really Worse than Phantom Menace?, December 29, 2010
The strongest section of Tim Wu's history of American "information empires" is his analysis of the American film industry.

If you've ever wondered why the merely boring Heaven's Gate destroyed a Hollywood studio and exiled a major director to the margins of the film industry and the execrably bad Phantom Menace spawned two more films, The Master Switch provides the answer.

Heaven's Gate was a standalone work of art that had to make its money at the box office. The Star Wars prequels were essentially branding efforts designed to sell not only theater tickets by toys, trinkets, coffee cups, t-shirts and anything else they could use the film to advertise.

Tim Wu's discussion of the film industry and of the kind of media conglomerate created by Steve Ross and best characterized by companies like Viacom and Time Warner is so clear and so elegant, it makes you wish the rest of the book were as good.

The weakest section of The Master Switch is, interestingly enough, the last part, Wu's analysis of the Internet and of net neutrality. It's not necessarily bad writing, and it obviously has the disadvantage of covering current events and not history, but it reads too much like a press release for Google.

The first half of the book is a solid history of the telecommunications industry. The writing is clear, precise, and never boring. He introduces figures you've probably never heard of, Harry Tuttle, for example, who barely shows up in a Google search and doesn't even seem to have a Wikipedia page. Wu also discusses events that are as important to understanding our history as they are obscure, Western Union's machinations to help Rutherford B. Hayes steal the election from Tilden.

All in all, I'd give this book 4.5 stars if I could, but I think it closes out too weak for a fifth star.

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