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The Imposter - How a Juvenile Criminal Succeeded in Business and Life
The Imposter - How a Juvenile Criminal Succeeded in Business and Life
by Kip Kreiling
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.66
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truth and Raw Emotion, May 27, 2010
"Books are like people--they have a soul. In fact, they are people--the dreams, the hopes, the revelations of people."

This book is really a detective story: this transformational biography is the sleuthing of self-discovery.

Clearly, it is motivational. But do not expect the "sunshine and sweetness" you find in other saccharine books. In reading, I learned more about foster homes, drug use, drug dealing, and chemical dependency than I cared to know. A crime story must always depict the underworld in dark and stark colors. Expect the black and white of a 1940s gumshoe, with shadows and midnight.

Kreiling takes these snapshots from his life, then frames them as life lessons. We learn by the power of his own bad example. We learn is that Kreiling's shadows make the Light that much brighter.

Yes, this book is didactic. But it is detective work, too.

The book focuses on six clues that led to Kreiling's conversion to human decency: he was his own stiff. Theses six are ideas--really beliefs--which took the author from being a sallow junkie to a Silicon Valley superstar. One idea was that people can change. Hence the trumpeting title: if people cannot change, then Kip Kreiling is an imposter. And the unsolved mystery would continue . . .

So "Whodunit?" Kreiling gives an underhand tap to his own efforts, but thrusts hand-over-fist the glory to God. Both are needed. And Kreiling holds the door of hope open for all of us.

Case closed.


The Spirit of the Old Testament
The Spirit of the Old Testament
by Sidney Branton Sperry
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The very nerve-threads of Christian life in the first century of our Era lead back into the Old Testament." Page 218., February 18, 2010
This book, The Spirit of the Old Testament, was my first experience with "The Accomplished SBS." And, overall, I am impressed with his accomplishment.

WHAT YOU GET

This book has twenty-three chapters. Wisely, however, SBS does not ram through his subject matter. Here and there he stands back from his commentary and analysis of the Biblical books, and puts the material in a broader context.

Teachers take note from a master teacher: These "operational pauses" serve the same function as speed bumps. We are forced to slow down, take time to smell the rosy theology, and to think about what the material means to us.

The rest of the book is a straightforward analysis. As the name suggests, this book is not a thorough commentary like Rasmussen's A LATTER-DAY COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT. It is selective, thereby capturing the feel, the essence of the Old Testament.

DOES IT WORK?

For the most part, yes. We have the overview chapters, then the primary sources. You come away not only with a deeper understanding of the Old Testament, but a feel for the times and culture of the people.

This last part is crucial. Unlike McConkie and Son's commentaries (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary Vol. 1, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1- First and Second Nephi, Revelations of the Restoration), this book is not a "Doctrinal Old Testament Commentary." The accomplished SBS was an accomplished Hebraist. So the material at times can be a bit over technical. For instance, the two chapters on the Psalms has wonderful material for undergrads studying Hebrew. But for the Friendly, Neighborhood Sunday School Teacher, this material is, well, irrelevant.

Knowing the various structures and meters of Hebrew poetry is crucial for an understanding of material. But it is absolutely irrelevant to the saving of a soul. And that is what most of Sunday School should be focusing on--the transformative doctrines that draw us closer to Christ.

ONE OTHER OBSERVATION

The only other criticism I would have is SBS's using Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures--The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text as his primary text. Most Latter-day Saints would find it unusual not to use the King James Version and the Joseph Smith Translation. At least I did.

Keep in mind why we use the KJV/JST: the KJV set the linguistic pattern for Joseph Smith's revelations. So when you read a phrase in the Triple, it will remind you of an echoing phrase in the Bible. Using the JPS's version deafens us to the familiar echoes and whisperings.

Let me be clear. I have and use the JPS's translation of the Old Testament. But it always is second fiddle to the music of the KJV/JST. The translation may be more accurate, or at least clearer. But out concern is always with the transformational doctrines of the Restoration.

CONCLUSION

I always hate criticisms. People tend to hear the bad as a shout and the good as a mutter. I think the crucial thing for this book is to remember that it aims to capture the spirit of the Old Testament.

If we can capture that same spirit, and keep the song in our heart, then the book has accomplished it's purpose.


Completely Restored
Completely Restored
by Robert Kerr
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.07
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less HG Wells, More Richard Paul Evans, February 18, 2010
This review is from: Completely Restored (Paperback)
This is a time travel story, but a heart-warming one at that. So expect the standard conventions of both a Back to the Future movie, and a Richard Paul Evans book. Keep in mind that this book is heart-warming, not mind-bending, so the paradoxes are kept to a minimum. Enjoy the ride, without a headache.

As I read, I fell in love with Kerr's symbols. The Grand Central Symbol is the Completely Restored house. This enchanted house parallels the re-enchantment that the aged and weathered family undergoes as they travel back 100 years. Again, families do not need to go back 100 years to experience the good things that 100 year old principles and practices do for families.

For me, the key scene was Christmas 1909, sans tinsel and Gold Cards. Our little trinkets and baubles are as out-of-date as the living antiques the family bought one another in their temporal flashback.

So expect a book with a healthy message about families, and what we need to to to save society and the world.

There are two things that kept this book back. The first was that the ending was rushed. We get this rapid-fire ticking time-bomb scenario, and then the story is resolved in a flashback. It didn't work for Harry Potter, and it doesn't work here.

The second is the language. Here and there words creep up that might offend my grandmother's soul. The editrix should have caught these and been hard-line.

This book is worth a revised edition to iron out these two flaws. It would make a great holiday Movie of the Week, and could spawn several squeals.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 7, 2012 3:06 PM PST


The Reagan I Knew
The Reagan I Knew
by William F. Buckley Jr.
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.83
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epistolary fusillade & the gift of friendship, December 30, 2009
This review is from: The Reagan I Knew (Paperback)
I was expecting a different book. Instead of a solid memoir, this book is a series of snapshot reminisces mixed in with the volley of correspondence between WFB and the Gipper.

And it was the epistolary aspect that engaged me the most. As a historian (BA, BYU '95), I have an eye and a nose for the primary sources. These letters are gems, some of which should have been included in Reagan: A Life In Letters. Gladly, the gems have now been restored to the crown.

Here are some of the surprises:

* The running joke over WFB and the Gipper's disagreement about the Panama (or is it Erie?) Canal.

* Buckley's mock appointment as Ambassador to Afghanistan--this was an ad nausium joke in WFB's letters.

* The intimate--even flirtatious--letters WFB wrote to Nancy.

Indeed, these letters to Nancy were rather shocking, considering the Reagans' proverbially tight relationship, and Nancy's well-know antenna for detecting frauds and shysters. WFB was playful--in ways that I might be with a sister-in-law, but never with another man's wife. But, apparently, the Reagans were fine with the flirtations.

One key letter was included, the outlining of the abortive attempt for WFB and Rush Limbaugh (The Way Things Ought to Be) to hold a celebration for the Gipper in 1994 (p. 234ff). Mr. Limbaugh has referenced it several times, and both have cited Nancy's poignant response "Ronnie is simply not up to it" (236n). This was the beginning of the end, with the announcement of the Alzheimer's eight months later.

So this book is a useful part of Reganalia, tracking him from pre-Gubernatorial days to his passing. But in a larger sense, it is about camaraderie. Two men--the rarified academic and the citizen-politician--coming together, and sometimes disagreeing, but still keeping their friendship in tact. It highlights the relationship, despite disagreements, is above all.

And an enviable relationship it was, rivaling Lewis and Tolkien's great friendship (Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship).

That many the lesson for all of us, regardless of our political stripes.


Job: A Comedy of Justice
Job: A Comedy of Justice
by Robert Heinlein
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.47
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking., October 5, 2009
First, I am the author of Consider My Servant Job, a commentary on the Book of Job. This book by Heinlein, however, is not really a commentary on the biblical book. Rather, it is a midrash on many of the themes raised by the Solemn Sufferer, with a dash of Jacob and Laban thrown in.

This is a sci-fi novel. Somehow Alexander H. keeps shifting dimensions and has to assume new identities in new timelines. So, for the first 3/4th of the book, there is not a lot of plot. It is a Magic Flight story; our hero is constantly on the run. Cf. Joe Versus the Volcanoor Homer's Odyssey.

The comedy aspect of the title referrers to the humor of repetition. We get a classic Greek tragedy were a person is doomed to mindless repetition: empty a pool with a sieve, turn endlessly on a flaming wheel, or in Alexander's case, endlessly washing dishes and loosing his fortune at the last (and at the most) inconvenient time. The laughing-gas of repetition and pity.

Being one of Heinlein's later novels, we loose the novelty of his thought. Everything he wanted to say about "how things ought to be" has already been said. This book is more of an older man looking back on the twists and turns of life, and trying to make sense of what he expects to come in the Afterlife.

For example, in Chapter Fourteen Heinlein-Alexander opines about the Dishwashing School of Philosophy. As your hands move mindlessly for eight hours over the china, your mind is free to wander to China, to the Moon, or to any another place in the pluralverse at will.

I agree. I wrote my book about Job doing just that: manual labor in a hospital kitchen.

I'm not sure if this is a religious book per-se. With all the angels and archangels and St. Peter and the Devil, it's clearly Christian, but non-denominational. With the inclusion of Loki and Odin and Valhalla, maybe it is pan-denominational. But the two inside jokes to Mormonism in Chapter 11 are just playful jabs.

Chapter 15 shows Heinlein's social ethic: he originated the concept of "Pay It Forward."

The justice aspect of the title comes at the end, as Heinlein resolves two issues. Number 1, why did Alexander suffer so much? Number 2, does he get his "true love."

Heinlein's first conclusion affirms the Biblical one: Job-Alexander was "perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1; Heinlein, Chapter 27). He was tempted because he was so powerful and so righteous. Pain proves his strength.

Number 2, is yes, ... sort of. Let me back up. Alexander is married, but as he shifts timelines, he picks up the cabin girl Margareth. This raises fidelity questions: if a man shifts timelines, is he still married and obligated to her? My responses is, if he shifts countries or counties, is he still married and obliged to her? Of course--the marriage sacrament withstands time and eternity.

But back to the book. She becomes his co-voyager sliding across the alternate earths. Heinlein solves the marriage problem by 1, saying Alexander never loved his legal and lawful wife, 2, invoking Rahab the Harlot, 3 calling Margareth a concubine, 4. being relativistic (Alex goes to a Christian Heaven; Margareth to Valhalla ), and 5, having them happy in Hell.

I say this carefully: if Heaven is like Heinlein depicts it (and I emphatically disagree with his depiction), then I would agree with him--Hell would be better than Heaven.

But that brings up Milton's Lucifer: ruling Hell and serving in Heaven and Satan's relativism, "Evil, be thou my good" (Paradise Lost) In this context, Helinlein's answer causes more problems--after all, isn't he saying that evil is good and good is evil, that circumstances determine morality, and God is a lowlife son-of-a-gun?

Maybe his concern is not with God, but with people who purport to speak on his behalf, and core human questions such as love and relationships. There are mature themes--the book is PG-13, clearly--but what do you do when you are in a bad marriage, and you know that there is a better female fit for you? Do we keep the covenant, sanctify the sacrament, and mind the mystery, or do we bolt at the first chance? If we made a mistake in judgment once, isn't it possible we are making another one?

And the religious pluralism. How do we iron out all of the religious confusion out there--the war of words, the tumult of opinions, the "lo, here!" the "lo, there!" of differing denominations.

To say it just doesn't matter, so we should all go to Hell together doesn't seem to cut it. But I do appreciate Heinlein's thoughts on these thorny issues.


Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul
Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul
by William Irwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.67
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Subject, Mediocre Essays., October 2, 2009
"Superman and Batman are the Plato and Aristotle of the comic-book world." (Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way (Popular Culture and Philosophy), 262).

There are four reasons why we should study Batman--pedagogical, philosophical, existential, and victimological.

First, people read comic books, especially children, and we need to monitor what children read. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

Second, Aristotle observed that poets are more important that historians. The historian deals with particulars, but the poet--the artists and taleweavers--deal with universals, or the ideal. That is why esthetics is a branch of philosophy.

Third, since Batman is a universal idea--an archetype--in a broad sense we are all Batman.

This last one is key. Batman is different from most other superheroes. In fact, he is not a superhero at all. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel or James bond, he is just a normal human who fights with his wits as well as his hands. Superman is too far above us, and, unlike the Green Lantern (all of them) or Iron Man, we do not have power rings or armored suits. We just have our brains, our brawn and nothing else.

The fourth reason is that Batman is a victim. He was a "poor little rich boy" whose parents were murdered in cold blood before his virgin eyes. But the key thing is that he chose not to be a victim. He took his pain, embraced his Jungian shadow, and then sublimated his pain.

In this way he is like Elizabeth Smart (Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope. Both were rich, both suffered trauma at a young age, and both took command of the situation by becoming missionaries. One a missionary for her church, the other became a Dark Friar for justice.

We all must sublimate our pain; we all must become Batman.

Now to the book.

For he most part, the essays are mediocre. I would rate them B to B+. Sometimes we get non-answers to the questions, as on page 25. Other times we get an eclectic (not exotic!) smorgasbord of points-of-view, like the McLaughlin Group. But we do not come to any hard conclusions. This is ABC Gum philosophizing--we chew the cud and pass it along.

An example of a B paper that could have been an A paper is the essay, "Could Batman have been the Joker?"

What I execrated was a discussion about Bruce Wayne becoming evil and a secondary question, after his accident, could Jack Napier become a hero? What we got was a discussion about identity and names. To be sure, this is an important topic--Thomas Aquinas had a treatise on how words mean--but the deeper question was ignored: how are human nature, good and evil, and choice interrelated.

A better essay was "Why Batman is better than Superman." This essay deals with axiology (value theory), and Foresman does a wonderful job of evaluating both Batman's and Superman's abilities and values. And the conclusion is the right one: Batman is more courageous than Superman because he is, in the words of G. K. Chesterton, more "eatable" (Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition, ch. 8). There is more danger involved.

The later sections, on existentialism and the Tao of the Bat, are better. Again, Batman is the best study in self-determination, since he was a normal man who chose to become a hero.

One subtheme has to do with relationships: Batman and Robins, Batman and Alfred, Batman and Gotham, Batman and Gordon, Batman and Catwoman, Batman and Superman, and Batman and Bruce Wayne. He is a man of complex, though distant, relationships. This makes for an interesting study.

Then there is the relationship of Batman to the Joker. No, Batman is not like the Joker--Batman is not a sadist. The Joker twisted two Robins; one was bludgeoned to death, and the other was twisted to become the next Joker (Batman Beyond Return of the Joker (2001)). For his part, Batman let Grayson spread his own Nightwings. The local errors are "undistributed middle" and "hasty generalization." Shame on you for missing them!

Also there is the question of how sane both men are (Ch 6). This is where most people involved with the Batman franchise get worse than silly.

One ugly idea is that the Joker is "super-sane" (134). Sanity is defined in terms of rationality, and rationality is based on the Law of Identity (The Metaphysics (Philosophical Classics)). Something either is or is not, and cannot be more "is" or supra-"is." Like perfectly round squares, this is linguistic nonsense.

This discussion sanity brings us back to my idea that Elizabeth Smart is Batman. Mitchell is her Joker (this fits better with Burton's version where Napier, and not Joe Chill, murders Wayne's parents). Again, this is why we discuss the archetype and subcreation of Batman--things like Batman and the Joker really exist (Man and His Symbols).

The Batman discussed is the late 1980s reinvention--where Batman became too much like Wolverine. So they discuss his moral code (Ch. 1), and what would happen of Batman and Superman fought (Ch. 18).

(Batman would outsmart Superman and would use Krytonite against him, but both would keep each other alive--Batman keeps crime down in Gotham, and Superman and Shazam keep Darkseid at bay).

What was lacking, however, was a compassion to another low-end hero with a stronger moral code--Daredevil (Daredevil (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)). He, along with The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane (and Elizabeth Smart The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ), have religious motivations for doing what they do. Batman is focused on a secular justice, having a "fuzzy-grey" relationship with the established civis. He works outside the civis, but ultimately turns the criminals over to the state.

So this book is good for stoking ideas, but I could have been a bit more penetrating. Any weaknesses are not the fault of the subject matter, but the current state of philosophy and philosophers.


Titus Crow, Vol. 2: The Clock of Dreams & Spawn of the Winds
Titus Crow, Vol. 2: The Clock of Dreams & Spawn of the Winds
by Brian Lumley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.85
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read; hard review!, September 19, 2009
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It is hard to review this twofer. Although they take place in the same universe, the two books are vaguely connected. "The Clock of Dreams" ends Lumley's first Titus Crow trilogy, while "Spawn of the The Winds" begins his second trilogy. It would have been better for Tor to publish the three twofers as two three-in-ones, thereby keeping the trilogies separate.

If they needed to have three books, then the should have published "The compleat crow," the short-story collection, as a third volume. I see The Vortex Blaster Problem in play here: the six official Lensman books are frequently republished, but uniformly "The Vortex Blaster" is dropped from the series. Admittedly, it does not follow the main story line, but neither does "The Horse And His Boy" follow the main Narnia storyline. And in Adam's Hitchiker's Guide omnibus, they include the fragment "Young Zaphod Beeblebrox." It seems to be incomplete, but it is still included because it is relevant to the overall series.

The point being that in all cases, we should include all the relevant books in the series.

End of rant; now to the books.

THE CLOCK OF DREAMS

Five stars for the title alone. This magic coupling of the words--"clock" and "dreams"--was the reason why I began reading the series!

This story tightens the connection between HPL's universe and Lumley's elaboration. We meet the Dreamer Carter (Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft) and also Etienne-Laurent de Marigny from "Out of the Aeons" (The Loved Dead: Collected Short Stories Vol II (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural)). I would have liked an appendix showing where Lumley got his characters. But I guess I will have to bone up on my Lovecraft on my own.

This story abandoned the archival format, and had a detached storyteller format. So we resume a third-person narrative. The first person is always engaging, and makes the story seem real. The distance diminished the emotional impact of the horror.

And this is no longer a horror series, but fantasy-adventure. This is fine--series need to evolve to keep things fresh. Also, since this is the third in a trilogy, we also have the phenomenon of winding down. The loose ends are tied up, the "marrying and the burying" as Twain put it.

I'm not sure if the ending is a Deus Ex Machina. It is close, but since Lumley knows how to end a book with force and power, I forgive him.

Lumley compensates for three of Lovecraft's weaknesses. 1. Courage: There are no victims of horror, but people who fight back. 2. Romance: These courageous people fall in love. 3. Balance: The evil is balanced by a present good that is bold and impressive.

It is this last one--good that is bold and impressive--that fascinates me. Bold and impressive is how I would describe Kthanid, Cthulhu's goody-two-shoes brother.

As a God-figure He rivals C. S. Lewis' Aslan (The Chronicles of Narnia Movie Tie-in Edition (adult) ). If we can forgive Christ for being depicted as a lion, we can certainly forgive G-d for being depicted as an octo-head in these myths. But it's not his *appearance*, rather his *presence* that conveys a sense of cosmic majesty.

As his "last battle" shows, Kthanid is not a tame octopus!

SPAWN OF THE WINDS

This book is mistitled; it should be called "Child of the Winds" or "Princess of the Winds." Lumley, I think, realizes he has slipped into urban fantasy-adventure. The title hearkens back to his Lovecraftian roots, but it does not fit the story.

The second problem is that this begins a second trilogy. The series is rebooted with new characters and situations---the CCD are there (The Ithaqua Cycle: The Wind-Walker of the Icy Wastes (Call of Cthulhu Fiction)), the star-stones are prominent. And we still have the Wilmarth Foundation, but we meet some of their other operations and their other heroes. So this is both a plus and a minus.

The third problem is that, since this is a reboot, we never meet Crow and de Maurigny. I kept expecting them to appear, so this unmet expectation kept nagging my mind and interfering with the pleasure of writing. The dynamic duo appear in the next volume, so this problem also is a plus and a minus

All else is good. Lumley returns the archival format, with it verisimilitude of classified documents. MJ-12 documents, eat your heart out!

The change of setting is exactly what a series like this needs. Coming from finishing Dune 7 ("Hunters of Dune" and "Sandworms of Dune"), the ice world is exactly what I needed. I felt like I was pulled into the snow-dunes of the early Jack London prospecting short stories (Jack London : Novels and Stories : Call of the Wild / White Fang / The Sea-Wolf / Klondike and Other Stories (Library of America)).

You have the man versus man conflict and the man verses mad demon conflict, but in the background there is the man versus icelandic waste conflict. It does not affect the story, but it does brood in the sidelines.

We have shifted from horror to fantasy adventure. The story has the excitement of The Lost World, but the magic of Indiana Jones. Crow is enigmatic, and de Maurigny has his moments, but Hank Silberhutte is straight from the classic pulps.

I say classic pulp, because the story has all the force of a pulp, but clearly follows the pattern. Square-jawed Texan entering the realm of a fairy princess. A stranger, he masters the realm, vanquishes the evil, and gets the girl in the end. Classic Joseph Campbell.

And this story should be familiar to you--you read it before in She (Oxford World's Classics), A Princess of Mars (Dover Value Editions), the first Titus Crow trilogy, and Doc Savage and The Land of Always Night.

It is a great archetype, and Lumley retells it flawlessly.


100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37)
100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37)
by Bernard Goldberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.36
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3.0 out of 5 stars Read it, but don't buy it., September 18, 2009
This is one of those books that you should read, but do not need to buy. You get it from the library, read it, and return it. You get the idea and then information you need, without having the book clutter your shelf.

Mr. Goldberg's book is informative, and provides a great introduction for people wondering why the country tilts the way it does. But it is thin reading--see Paris Hilton's entry, for example. In some way, this is mature version of the weird lists we passed around in High School about people we hated, etc.

So it is closer to a stocking-stuffer comedy book, than anything else.

This book should have included more documentation. The only real eye-popper is on the back cover. There is Michael Moore's tax form showing he owned Haliburton stock. But we could have used more information.

So for what it is, it is good. And it is informative, if you would like a Rogue's Galley for your right wing family member. But buy it used.


Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone: The 50th Anniversary Tribute
Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone: The 50th Anniversary Tribute
by Douglas Brode
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from $0.87

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Themes and Patterns., September 16, 2009
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As I began reading, I was expecting this book to be a puff-piece. Co-authored by Serling's widow, I knew it would have a bias. And it does. It is friendly, laudatory, and even hagiographic.

But in a way, this is beneficial. We clearly get passion, which is always enjoyable. And it also offsets Zicree's nit-picking (The Twilight Zone Companion).

And as I read, I discovered that this book has other merits.

Let me step back for a moment. One of the difficulties in analyzing The Twilight Zone is how to categorize the episodes. Zicree and The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic follow the chronological method--date by date, season by season. This is helpful in following Serling's evolving thought, and works with the obvious flow of time (A Brief History of Time)

But Brode and Serling follow a thematic approach, which was pioneered on an internet fan-page. This trade-off makes the book stronger. We see patterns of ideas emerge, and can discover Rod's thinking and philosophy (Philosophy in The Twilight Zone).

They find these themes, or elements to Rod's writing:

1. The Lonely. Rod loved the underdog, the outcast, and the hobbits in society. His was a "Fanfare for the Common Man."

2. The Time Element. Like Hamlet, time was always out of joint. Clocks are omnipresent.

3. The Ticket. This expression comes from Rod's rewrite of "Where is Everybody?"A ticket is a tangible proof that the odd experiences are real.

4. The Long Distance Call. Not only are clocks omnipresent, but so are long-distance calls. They further the plot, and are really love letters from the angels and demons that roam the Zone.

5. The Second Chance. Rod always balanced Justice and Mercy, which, as we all come to learn, are two sides of the same coin. The meek get mercy and the proud get their just desserts, with a cherry on top.

6. Death Light. This is more of a cinematography element, than a writing element. Before they are embraced by the light, people are given a glow-warning.

7. Mirror Image. Are we backwards, or is the world upside-down?

8. Size. See "Last Night of a Jockey," "The Invaders," and "Four O'clock."

9. Masks and Identity Crisis. Who are we, really?

10. Homewood. The gnawing throb for a return to our own personal Edens.

I have been watching The Twilight Zone since 1981, but I have never paid much attention to overarching themes. I applaud Brode and Serling of the hours our watching and ultimately abstracting these themes. Like Campbell, Rod had his own Unimyth. So this book is The TZ-specific version of The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Bollingen Series).

This may be why The Twilight Zone has such an appeal. There is a coherent and stable philosophy behind the writing. Also, Serling has tapped into universal truths, and had no fear in proclaiming them. This is not to say that "Serling is G-d," but to suggest he may be a literary prophet in the vein of Crime and Punishment or A Christmas Carol, both which could have been written by Serling ("The Obsolete Man," "The Class of '99," "Night of the Meek," "The Messiah on Mott Street").

Flaws.

The painful one is the odd boldfacing-italicizing of the word The Twilight Zone. It makes the word jump out, but it is an unusual editorial call.

Another flaw that I honestly missed was revealed in the last pages. Broade and Serling just analyzed the best episodes of the Zone (p. 233). They write that by allowing the weaker, or even the "turkeys" as Rod himself describes some episodes, Rod's legacy is diminished.

I disagree. The Rod Serling Image is a cultural icon, like Elvis or the Statue of Liberty--you ever see the pinball machine? Not even Rod Serling could destroy Rod Serling.

But more to the point, the worst episode of The Twilight Zone is better than the best episode of the contemporary prime-time rot. I would rather watch a low-def, black-and-white third-rate Serling turkey than anything on TV nowadays, regardless of it being in hi-def and living color.

[Applause line]

The last flaw, and this is not book specific, has to do with Serling-ology. Serling did work before The Twilight Zone, and work after The Twilight Zone. We have yet to see a book that incorporates all of his career. We need to integrate Patterns with The Twilight Zone with Planet of the Apes with Night Gallery.

Of course with Night Gallery, we should follow this books lead of focusing on "The Best Of" episodes and exclusively use Serling's segments.

Until this happens--and may this book can midwife better Serling-ology--read this book and notice the patterns.


Gone with the Wind (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Gone with the Wind (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Clark Gable
13 used & new from $32.29

5 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Run-Around Scarlett, September 9, 2009
This is a complex film. For technical aspects, it has few rivals. The cinematography is majestic, reminding us of the epics that Hollywood used to make--"Ben Hur (1959)," and "The Ten Commandments (50th Anniversary Collection)." The pacing is superb, and as well done as the best episodes of "24: Seasons 1-7." After an hour, I felt like I had seen two hours. And the film keeps this up for four hours. There is much that this film can teach film school undergrads.

The setting, however, is a double-edged sword. As the title-card indicates, this film s a glamorization of the Antebellum South. So we get the Code of Honor, dignity, propriety, Southern Hospitality, and all the good things of a refined society. But we also get the slave stereotypes. They are both laughable and sad. However, if you pay close attention, the slaves/freedmen are some the most noble characters in the story. Mammie has the best head on her shoulders.

This film's weakest point is characterization. Rhett is both a Han Solo Star Wars: The Han Solo Adventures (Classic Star Wars) and a Casablanca Rick character, a cultured Wolverine who lives by his own code of ethics, but also can be a good person if need be.

Men take note: this is what women want out of a man--rich, dashing, tall, dark, handsome, living by his own code of ethics, putting up with their catty remarks, pampering their wives. And did I mention rich?

(This is the prototypical chick-flick. Guys, I suggest reading War and Peace (Barnes & Noble Classics).)

We have reams of research about the unreal standards men have for women. But what about the unreasonable expectations women have for men? (Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture and Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men)

For her part, Scarelett is an abomination. For the first half of the film, she is an immature, self-absorbed, pouting tease. In the second half of the film, she is an immature, self-absorbed, pouting gold-digger. She focuses on being the center of attention at parties, complains that her widow's garb makes her look unfashionable, and stops childbearing because it adds two inches on to her waist.

"As for my people, children are their oppressors."

Her greatest folly is her view of love and romance. She loves A, and never comes to terms that she cannot have a married man (Rhett's comment about Ashley's double-standard of fidelity is well-placed), so she marries B out of spite. As a war-widow, she puts off C's advances (Rhett), and marries D, for his money and business. A widow again, she finally marries C (Rhett), who, to his credit, gives up his blockade-ruining and settles down to domestic bliss. But she still pines away for A. Got it?

Rhett suggests that they divorce, so she can have the love she really desires, but Scarlett declines, citing the scandal.

But she admits she still loves A, and when his wife dies, Rhett feels threatened, so she changes her mind again, and wants to stay with Rhett.

Like Kevin Federline (Mr. Britney Spears #2, Playing with Fire), Rhett has the better head on his shoulders and leaves. We wish he had left Scarlett sooner.

Scarlett does have redeemable characteristics. She delivers a baby in burning Atlanta, holds her family together during Reconstruction--becoming a surrogate mother to her younger sisters and addled father. She has spunk and grit, but these emerge in survival or selfish situations. But when it comes to love, marriage, and motherhood, she remains forever a pouty fourteen-year-old.

(And people think Robotech's Minmei is bad! Sheesh!)

We focus on that one famous word at the end of the movie, but there are other problem areas. There are a lot of underwear scenes--the laughable old-fashioned bloomers, but it did began a trend.

Then there is the Up The Staircase scene. Um, as they depicted it, Scarlett seemed to enjoy it. What type of message are sending to women???

And what message are we sending to women about romance and love? Scarlett's one motivation is her love--puppy-love, really--for Ashley. In this aspect, she is as monomaniacally obsessed as Captain Ahab. She is not a person, just an unmet need.

Also, there is a more insidious message--the importance of dealing with life's harsh, but empowering realities. She had three husbands, but that was not enough. Like King David, she coveted the poor person's lambling. She never accepts this empowering reality, and so she never grew up. She spent her days discontented and mopey.

The ending is appropriate. Rhett reads the handwriting on the wall, and packs up. Scarlett, the perpetual fickle teenager, pleas "If you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?"

This is a perversion of Ruth's plea to Naomi: "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."

I think this highlights the inverted ethics of this film. The film is beautiful to watch and well executed, but the ethical framework is an eyesore.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 22, 2009 5:03 PM PST


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