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Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
by Douglas Coupland
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.07
454 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A Generation with No Apparent Purpose …, August 27, 2014
As a fellow Gen Xer, I found a degree of humor in Douglas Coupland’s novel about three lost souls trying find some sort of meaning to their aimless lives. Far from honestly portraying the generation as a whole, GENERATION X focuses on a more popular segment that, at least in my eyes, is more aptly described as the “MTV Generation”.

Coupland’s story centers around three friends (2 males and 1 female) that illustrate their genre’s penchant for having all the education, but little focus on leading productive lives. Ever observant and critical of everything ranging from “Yuppies” (also fellow Gen Xers) to those enslaved to the endless cycle of working lame jobs (defined as “McJobs”), this trio considers most of the world boring and beneath them. Lost souls filled with too much self-importance and knowledge to waste time working … leaving a lot of time to kill. In order to exercise over-stuffed brains, they prefer to engage in hipster-speak banter to demonstrate a perceived sense of higher self-awareness peppered with a nostalgic twinge of yesteryear (when things seemed to matter).

GENERATION X is somewhat of a tedious read as nothing really happens … like reading a Seinfeld script sans the humor. Gen X “buzzwords” (and their definitions) line the margins of the book throughout. The lingo (of which some was familiar) all seems to echo sentiments of a bored, unhappy and useless generation … yearning to be part of something important. While Generation X is defined as those born in the early 60s through the early 80s, the book really doesn’t look at the generation as a whole, but a niche within. Looking back, I can actually see the contents of GENERATION X being played out in my college and immediate post-college years … by the avant-garde crowd. This was the group where the males wore Forenza and Benetton sweaters designed for girls and represented the majority of the 10,000 Maniacs Unplugged audience on MTV. The group that always sought the deepest meaning of everything (like white toilet-paper representing some sort of institutional racism), professed to have all the answers to everything, yet never really yielded successful results (all ideas and talk … no action).

If anything, I found GENERATION X symbolizing the first generation in a century (or two) that really can’t be identified with anything globally or nationally significant. Previous generations can claim active participation in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, Vietnam and Civil Rights … we Xers have nothing significant, so I guess we’re perceived as consciously trying to find something of meaning to identify “us”. Hell, out of desperation, we even tried to replicate Woodstock (twice) and failed (first attempt was castigated as an example of corporate greed and the second attempt, ironically, was noted for its violence). Coupland’s book may hit a nerve or two in those who feel it represents them in a sophisticated, artsy way, but I really don’t buy the embarrassing sentiment it suggests. In fact, so far it appears we Xers have been one of the only generations able to have our cake and eat it too.

DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Oversized 32 x 38" Jumbo Jenny Flour Sack Dishtowels, Set of 8, White
DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Oversized 32 x 38" Jumbo Jenny Flour Sack Dishtowels, Set of 8, White
Price: $25.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Effective …, August 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have never given much thought to dish towels and have always associated their absorption quality to the thickness of the towel. I was quite surprised how much better these FLOUR SACK dishtowels were on almost every level.


- These towels are large and thin when compared to the “standard” dishtowel you’d pick up in the grocery/convenience store. This “large and thin” combination makes these dishtowels quite versatile. The thinner material allows them to be molded/folded so they can accommodate virtually any task. Having large hands, I always have trouble drying tall glasses and shaker bottles with dishtowels; my hands can’t fit inside and the towels I’ve always used are too thick to reach the bottom. The FLOUR SACK dishtowels easily solved this problem with their ability to be folded/twisted or stuffed into the glass/bottle and cover the entire bottom, including the rim.

- The cotton material absorbs quite well. I find them drying dishes better than the standard towels I’ve used for so long. Even better, the thinner material enables the towels themselves to dry much faster after use. These faster drying towels don’t sour as quickly as other dishtowels, allowing longer use before they need to be cleaned.

- Functional. In addition to the size and absorptive qualities, these towels are very durable and can be used for cleaning as well.

- White and devoid of fancy patterns, there is an aesthetic appeal to them.

These “old school” FLOUR SACK dishtowels are more useful and perform better than any of the dishtowels I’ve previously used … another example of a tried-and-true original trumping today’s world of “new and improved”.

Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas
Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas
by Edward Klein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.79
97 used & new from $11.48

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious Look at the Petulance and Narcissism That Consumes Two First-Families …, August 16, 2014
Fed up with the day-in-day-out political spin coming from Washington and its repugnant, drooling followers in the media, I tend to enjoy a good book that aims to tarnish the carefully crafted (fake) image of politicians. Edward Klein’s previous book, “The Amateur” proved to be entertaining enough to give BLOOD FEUD a read and I found it to be just as amusing.

Focusing more on the juicy aspects of the obvious rancor that exists between the Clintons and the Obamas, BLOOD FEUD digs into the roots and extensive nature of the Clinton-Obama animosity rather than divulge any ground-breaking scandalous stuff. One would have to be in the dark or lack a degree of common-sense to assume these two ego-centric families are buddy-buddy after the viciously fought 2008 nomination campaign. Klein simply details how the verbal sparring wounds suffered by both candidates still haven’t healed some six years later. Klein uses numerous anonymous sources to provide a clearer picture of two divergent political power-families who think the world of themselves. While the popular media may casually portray the relationship between the Clintons/Obamas as somewhat harmonious and in-step, BLOOD FEUD paints the more believable and logical reality of the high-stakes game of politics. The end-results of that 2008 game proved Team Clinton to be poor losers with Team Obama displaying equally poor sportsmanship by rubbing it in. Klein humorously illustrates a perpetually irritated/frustrated Bill and Hillary; in contrast, the Obama camp (including the President’s loyal Doberman Pinscher, Valerie Jarrett) appear as smirking and cavalier. While Klein has been vilified for using anonymous sources, it is somewhat revealing that the rather tepid pushback from both Clinton and Obama acolytes have been directed more at Klein’s character than refuting anything in his book … no one’s arguing the content, but Klein’s a jerk for putting it in print.

BLOOD FEUD will surely be panned by readers who view it as a political attack, but it’s not. What Klein does is expose the extreme vanity of high-level politicians who desperately want to be the center of attention all the time while only being exposed in a perfect/positive light. If anything, this book reveals these holier-than-thou high-rollers as being real human beings that occasionally do/say stupid things, are often wrong and act immaturely … just like the rest of us. Is anyone really surprised that “the first black President” Bill Clinton is still smarting from Obama accusing him of using the “race-card” in 08? Or that the Obamas bristle at the cloying presence of the Clintons contrasting Obama with their “vast experience” and reminiscing of how “great” the Clinton years were … I’m sure the Clintons are like athlete’s foot to the Obamas, they never go away (“First Fungal-Family”?). Sure, there are some revealing moments peppered throughout BLOOD FEUD, such as a more extensive discussion on Hillary’s “injury” (but we all KNEW there was more to that story) or how Valerie Jarrett is more of a puppet-master than a “close associate”. The guts of the book, however, involves the exposue of the private/personal side of things we already knew or assumed and this puts the entertainment factor into high gear. Whether it be Hillary’s penchant for slinging “F-bombs”, Bill’s ongoing “fidelity issues”, Michelle’s high-school mean-girl closeness to Jarrett or that the body-odor generated from Barack’s smoking habit steers his family away from him when he sleeps … there are a lot of interesting tidbits that make reading BLOOD FEUD an enjoyable experience.

Scandalous? No … Fun? Yes. Ed Klein isn’t offering a scholarly political tome; he’d rather burst the bubble of omnipotence associated with two powerful political families that have a penchant for putting themselves first at any given moment. I found BLOOD FEUD to be a fun, casual and enlightening read that merely confirms a lot of what is probably already assumed: the Clintons and the Obamas don’t really care for each other. Considering the serious, but tiresome negativity associated with politics these days, BLOOD FEUD is a refreshing change of pace.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 22, 2014 3:06 PM PDT

Gain Flings Laundry Detergent Pacs, Original, 72 Count
Gain Flings Laundry Detergent Pacs, Original, 72 Count
Price: $17.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Fling and Forget …, August 12, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I’m so used to pouring laundry detergent that I never gave the gel packs a second thought. But, after trying GAIN FLINGS (original scent) for two laundry loads, I’m done with the measuring and pouring.


- The convenience/ease-of-use that gel packs provide. GAIN FLINGS are simply thin skinned membranes that hold detergent and dissolve completely during a cycle … just toss one (or two, if the load demands it). I was tired of fat detergent containers that seemed to seep sticky detergent no matter how careful I was.

- These gel packs deliver a punch: The detergent is supplemented with Oxi to fight stains and incorporates Febreze to deal with odors. I like that these two elements are incorporated into the mix as we always have a bottle of Oxi and Febreze on hand to assist with laundry.

- I found the scent to be pleasantly subtle and natural. This was a plus for me as I’m not a big fan of “perfumy”/over-scented detergents.

- The cleaning results were satisfying. With two young daughters, every load of laundry presents a challenge in one form or another … there is certainly no shortage of stains to test. I was able to skip the step of pre-scrubbing with Oxi for several food stains.


- Each gel pack is stuffed with detergent and the membrane holding everything inside feels thin/flimsy (like a small water balloon). While I’m sure it would burst if squeezed too hard, none of them have ruptured after dropping (not throwing) them into the washing machine basin.

- GAIN FLINGS are supposed to be placed into an EMPTY basin, BEFORE adding laundry, to ensure the gel pack dissolves completely (as instructed on the container). I have not had an experience yet (7 loads) that revealed any detergent residue or membrane remnants.

- Shorter washing cycles (delicates) may not provide enough time for the gel packs to dissolve.

I like the convenience of the GAIN FLINGS. The effectiveness of the formula and the modest, fresh scent are noticeable enough for me to switch brands.

Simon Swipe Game
Simon Swipe Game
Price: $14.99
14 used & new from $11.43

4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Update of a Classic Game …, August 9, 2014
This review is from: Simon Swipe Game (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Being a kid in the 70s was a wonderful experience. Looking back, kids from that era were able to experience the transition from “old school” toys to the exciting world of electronic gaming. In the mid-to-late 70s, Milton Bradley introduced portable twist to the classic “Simon Sez” game. The original Simon was a pie shaped table top game whose top was quartered into 4 large, colored buttons that light up and had their own distinctive sounds. The goal of the game was to simply mimic Simon’s actions by pushing the buttons in the light pattern presented. The catch is that after each round, Simon’s patterns become progressively more difficult. Now, Hasbro has reintroduced the classic with SIMON SWIPE and I actually find it better than the original.


- Rather than a pie shaped orb with 4 awkward, over-sized colored button, SIMON SWIPE is more streamlined and aesthetic in both appearance and function. Looking more like a steering wheel, this game incorporates arcing “swipe strips” that covers each quarter of the “steering wheel”. Each “swipe strips” represents one of the original Simon colors: Blue, green, red and yellow. The strips are flush with the game and are extremely sensitive; light taps and swipes replace the need to push large panel buttons.

- The basic function of the game is the same: follow the pattern that Simon initiates. The difference is that swipes and u-turn (back and forth) swipes (with their own distinctive sound and light function) are added Simon’s task list. Adding the swipe variations makes the game much more challenging than the original.

- There are 4 different games that can be played … including the original Simon game (with no swiping functions).

- The game is designed so you can lay the game on a table to play or hold it comfortably in one hand.

- There is an on/volume button in the center … the game cuts off after 15 seconds of inactivity. Batteries are included with the game.


- Yes … to a degree. Being a game that simply requires you to copy what it does can become both maddening and boring over a period of time for adults. But, like my experience with the original Simon, kids will always be drawn to it.

Most of the time, the modernized versions of classic games is both disappointing and annoying (see modern versions of “Operation” and the numerous “Monopoly” themes) … the charm of the original always seems to be missing. Surprisingly, SIMON SWIPE manages to provide a better game and still stick to its roots.

Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz
Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz
by Thomas Harding
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.97
97 used & new from $3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Germans …, August 9, 2014
**This book was reviewed as part of Goodreads History Book club which included a free advance copy of the book**

Due to the staggering magnitude of World War II, in terms of events and individuals involved, it is understandably simplified for easier digestion. Peeling back the layers of the war’s events results in a seemingly endless stream of individual accounts that prove to be quite fascinating. Thomas Harding presents one such example with his book HANNS AND RUDOLPH, the story of two German men whose divergent paths in life turned one man into the hunter and the other, his prey during the war only to have those roles reversed once the war ends.

HANNS AND RUDOLPH is essentially a double-biography that details the lives of Rudolph Hoess and Hanns Alexander. Hoess was a disgruntled World War I veteran who becomes an ardent Nazi and the eventual commandant of Auschwitz. Alexander, the son of a well-to-do Jewish doctor who flees Germany, joins the British Army and is given the task of finding Nazi war criminals following Germany’s surrender. While the life paths taken by Hoess and Alexander started worlds apart, those paths ultimately collide.

Although the book’s expanded title alludes to the capture of Rudolf Hoess as being the focal point, Harding takes a much more thought-provoking approach by focusing on the individual histories of both men instead of a singular event. Chronologically written with alternating chapters representing pivotal periods in Hoess and Alexander’s lives, readers are taken along two diverse journeys. The early chapters describing the childhood/coming-of-age years of both men predictably charts their eventual paths in life. Alexander, having grown up in a close-knit Jewish family that enjoyed the comforts of wealth, is portrayed as an innocent young man with a promising future. Hoess, on the other hand, learned to accept life as being an ongoing thunderstorm that included a dysfunctional/unloving family and a never ending state of war. As they are presented, it isn’t hard to figure Alexander taking the righteous path with Hoess naturally veering into the darkness. The rise of the Nazis represents pivotal moment for both men by providing a natural haven for Hoess and a source of fear for Alexander and his family that eventually forces the family to desperately escape the escalating violence in Germany.

The progressing stories of both men are interesting and diverse. While Hoess’ job as the commandant of Auschwitz has made him the subject of other books, Harding digs a little deeper to provide a look at the man’s personal life, his upbringing, his rise through the Nazi ranks, life with his wife and children and how he interacts with the Nazi hierarchy throughout the war. Harding doesn’t present Hoess as evil from the beginning, but he does illustrate the events in Hoess’ life (lack of family, World War I and the violent chaos in Germany after that war) seem to contribute to his psychopathic behavior as an adult. I found Alexander’s story to be a little more compelling. Forced to leave Germany, he joins the British Army to fight against his native countrymen and ultimately is assigned to a unit designed to hunt suspected war criminals. Even though there appear to be more details available in illustrating Alexander’s life, Harding does a good job of balancing both men’s stories. I would have liked a little more information on Alexander’s military experience, mainly whether or not he ever faced combat against his former countrymen. I found the cat-and-mouse storyline of Alexander and his men trying to find Hoess to be the best part of the book. With both men swapping their former roles as hunter and prey, it’s hard not to feel a sense of justified satisfaction as Alexander zeroes in on the scent trail left by the hiding Hoess … the thrill of the hunt somewhat overshadows Hoess’ eventual capture, making it somewhat anticlimactic.

HANNS AND RUDOLPH exposes one of those lesser-known mini-dramas of World War II. The irony of the story (a German Jew capturing the commandant of Auschwitz) is what drew me to the book in the first place. Thomas Harding presents the stories of these men and their ultimate connection in a manner that keeps readers interested from the book’s beginning to its end. Photos peppered throughout the book add clarity to Harding’s already vivid writing. I believe this is a story that needed to be told.

Turtle Beach Ear Force P12 Amplified Stereo Gaming Headset for PlayStation 4, PS Vita, and Mobile Devices
Turtle Beach Ear Force P12 Amplified Stereo Gaming Headset for PlayStation 4, PS Vita, and Mobile Devices
Price: $57.47
30 used & new from $51.21

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works with PC Too …, July 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The TURTLE BEACH EAR FORCE P12 is designed to be optimized for use with the Playstation 4 and mobile units like tablets, phones and portable gaming devices. Much to my pleasure, this no-nonsense headset works just fine with Teamspeak on my PC.


- A high-quality headset with adjustable microphone. Contents of package include the headset itself, an in-line amplifier control device (with USB connector), Turtle Beach sticker/decal and instructions.


- The headset’s “ear muffs” are designed to cup/envelope the entire ear which effectively reduces external noise and seals the headset audio from being heard outside. The spongy material that cups around the ear is soft and thick enough to provide a deep recess for most ears to rest comfortably inside without touching the headset (obviously, the size and shape of the user’s ears may result in a different comfort experience).

- The speaker is attached with a solid, yet extremely flexible wire “wand” that is fairly long and can be adjusted in a myriad of ways for desired comfort and/or speaker clarity. The speaker itself is fairly sensitive/responsive … the output clarity is surprisingly impressive.

- The headset’s attached 35” cord has a standard audio-jack adapter that allows it to connect to most mobile devices.

- The in-line amplifier has a speaker on/off switch, a volume dial and a bass-boost dial. The amplifier has a standard receptacle that attaches it to the headset on one end and a generous 10 ft. USB cable on the other end. The in-line amplifier can only be used when connecting to devices via USB.


- This headset is no light-weight, its solid design adds some heft. While there is a pad on the arch that connects the earphones, I found that the comfort diminished after prolonged use.

- Another comfort issue were the earphones, the heat retention cause by their cupping design forced me to switch-out the headset after a while.


- I use TS (Teamspeak) on a Windows 8.1 computer and simply plugged this headset in the USB port, logged-on to TS and ran … no adjustments needed to be made and there have been absolutely no issues what-so-ever using this headset. I did receive commentary ranging from “your voice sounds a little different” to “you’re coming across so clearly”. I chalk up my “different voice” to the adjustable mic. While Turtle Beach has designated the EAR FORCE P12 to be for PS4 use (and there is no reference to PCs in the instruction guide), I believe it to be a marketing gimmick and have designated this as my primary PC headset.

Pure Protein Greek Yogurt Nutrition Bar, Blueberry, 6 Count
Pure Protein Greek Yogurt Nutrition Bar, Blueberry, 6 Count
Offered by Empire Depot
Price: $11.21
4 used & new from $11.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Nutrition, Questionable Taste …, July 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having tried numerous alternative protein sources over the years, I’ve found that there always seems to be a trade-off between the nutritional value and the taste. The PURE PROTEIN GREEK YOGURT BLUEBERRY bars carry a descent protein punch at 20g, but I was a little turned off by the taste/aftertaste.

Trying to board the “protein train”, many common/popular brands of granola/breakfast bars are now offering their version of “protein bars”… unfortunately, the protein content in those bars is usually pretty measly (less than 10g). When I think of a serious protein bar, I’m thinking the content should be in the range of 20-25g (close to that of a 4 oz. boneless chicken breast) … Pure Protein has always offered bars that meet that standard and the GREEK YOGURT BLUEBERRY bars, with 20g, is no exception (there is also a 31g protein version of this bar). What I also like about this particular bar is that the protein source is whey … somewhat of the gold standard of protein sources. While there is an on-going debate whether or not soy (a plant-derived protein source) is good, better or worse, I’ve always preferred whey. In addition to the protein source and the amount of protein, I believe this is one of the better balanced bars: 20g protein, 19g carbs (only 4g sugar!), 4.5g fat and only 115mg sodium. The balanced nutritional content of these bars is better than most, in my opinion. There’s enough nutrition in the bar for it to serve as a small meal replacement.

With the protein source and balanced nutritional values meeting my standards, all that was left was the taste and texture … game-breakers for me. The texture was satisfyingly chewy and similar to that of a Snickers Bar. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the GREEK YOGURT BLUEBERRY bars as much as I’ve enjoyed other Pure Protein bar flavors. I found the taste/aftertaste to be somewhat “chalky” and I never really sensed any blueberry flavor. While Greek Yogurt may be the nutritional rage these days, I’d prefer to eat the refrigerated kind, not the candy-coating variation, which I determined to be the source of the chalky taste in this bar.

Taste is a personal preference and it is the reason why there is such a large variety of flavors for so many products. Even though I don’t like this particular flavor, I still find Pure Protein bars to be one of the better protein bars on the market.

GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love
GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love
by Duncan Barrett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.33

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Surprisingly Addictive Read on a Lesser-known Part of History …, July 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When millions of young US Servicemen facing uncertain futures passed through Britain during the course of World War II, preparing to fight the Germans wasn't the only thing on their minds. With most of Britain’s adult male population already gone to fight the war, there was little to interfere with the eager, laid-back Yanks from taking interest in the young, war-weary British women left behind. GI BRIDES provides a thoroughly fascinating look at four British women who were swept off their feet by young GIs and the opportunity they thought life in America would bring. Rather than the life of their dreams, each woman finds herself on a rollercoaster of frustration, hope, fear, sadness and salvation.

Although it’s difficult to find a romantic side of war, the young people that endure the burden of fighting them always manage to find a way. By 1944, GIs started to amass on the island in great numbers to prepare for the Normandy invasion. Their homeland virtually untouched by the war, the GIs exhibited energy, confidence and a casual attitude that many British women found irresistible (if not annoying). For most GIs, Britain was a paradise, an exotic foreign land where the people spoke a funny version of the same language and the lack of British men left them fighting against each other for the affection of British women. The war not only provided them the opportunity to meet, its threat of devastation threw them into each other’s arms.

Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi researched/interviewed over 60 British women who married GIs and left for America following the war and chose to chronicle the lives of four of these women for this book (undoubtedly for their dramatic storylines). One by one, the fantasy of living a dream life in America suddenly turns into a seemingly endless road of hardship as the innocent GIs they married eventually reveal their true identities: an abusive drunk, a compulsive gambler, a serial philanderer and a submissive “mama’s boy”. Each bride’s story line is divided into rotating chapters (simply titled by the bride’s first name) that progress in a parallel and chronological manner (you read a little about one bride, then move on to the next and so on). Using this format, the authors deftly end each chapter with a mini-cliffhanger before shifting gears to the next bride’s situation/ordeal … a written version of the dramatic television show “I Survived”. Presenting the women’s stories in such a manner made GI BRIDES a very absorbing and quick read with the end of each chapter urging readers to press-on to find out what happened next. The success of this storytelling format only works if the content is there; this is where the book shines. The paths taken by each of the brides are diverse, very interesting and full of surprising twists and turns. Barrett and Calvi deliver the bride’s stories in wonderfully visual manner that made reading this book akin to seeing a movie. The journeys of all the brides depicted in the book are quite difficult and with the stories being told from their perspective, it was hard not to feel a great deal of empathy and sympathy for all four of these women who left their families behind and put their faith and trust in men who, for the most part, didn't deserve it. While it would be easy to dismiss the selection of women who experienced less-than-idyllic lives by moving to America, their full stories are not negative, but full of enlightenment, resolve, redemption and ultimately … happiness.

As a compulsive reader of World War II history, I wasn't sure how this book would appeal to me. Needless to say, I found GI BRIDES to be quite an enjoyable read as it allowed me to discover a social aspect of the war that I had pretty much ignored over the years. While the stories themselves really struck a chord, the manner in which those stories are told is what make GI BRIDES such a great read.

The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s: the Era that Created Modern Sports
The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s: the Era that Created Modern Sports
by Kevin Cook
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.36
63 used & new from $0.18

4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Skewed, but Captures the Essence of the Awesomeness that WAS 70s Pro Football …, July 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was 11 when I attended my first (and only) NFL football game … December 24, 1977. Family connections in Baltimore allowed us to see the AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the upstart and talented Baltimore Colts and those “mean and dirty” Oakland Raiders. The image of sitting in the overcast, pre-snow chill of Memorial Stadium on Christmas Eve for that particular game is indelibly etched in my memory as probably the greatest sporting event I’ll ever see … for the simple fact I was there (Dave Casper’s game-winning double overtime TD catch aside). In those days, NOTHING trumped NFL football and it’s only now, with the NFL having morphed into its current state of being nothing more than a gaudy, money-grubbing entity in which an uber-juicy payday seems to elicit a phony passion for the game (save a few, very few), do I realize how much I miss the grit and grind of 70s brand of NFL. Kevin Cook’s THE LAST HEADBANGERS served me a massive dose of nostalgia that had me searching my personal library the souvenir program I got from that 1977 playoff game. While the book has some gaps, the shear amount of long-lost 70s memories oozing out of each page was satisfying enough for me.

Cook obviously has a nostalgic passion for the 70s and all of its goofiness … those days were drenched in Technicolor expressionism and most everyone, even us kids, soaked every bit of it up. While the Cunninghams, Mr. Kotter, the Rookies and Fantasy Island provided entertainment the rest of the week, Sundays in the fall were pretty much given to the NFL. As Cook explains, the decade of the 70s rubber-stamped pro-football as being THE American sport, finally surpassing baseball. THE LAST HEADBANGERS covers a time period between the “Immaculate Reception” play in 1972 and Dwight Clark’s ballyhooed catch in 1982. The plays are significant to Cook in that he feels the “immaculate Reception” put the nail in the coffin of the 1960s, run-happy, Lombardi-driven era of football and Clark’s catch which symbolized the next generation by introducing a new dynasty to the court (49ers) and the league’s move to become the money-driven empire it is today. What’s in-between is a decade of arguably the grittiest, most colorful and entertaining moments in sports … an era of rabble-rousers who freely gave their bodies, not for money, but for pride … a different breed played and coached the game.

THE LAST HEADBANGERS is simply a fun book to read and there’s a little something for everyone. Each chapter is pretty much assigned to a particular season from the perspective of the season’s eventual Super Bowl champion. I found the organization a little confusing at times as some season tended to blend together, especially when there were back to back champions like the Dolphins and the Steelers (twice). But, what makes the book so entertaining is that there is a lot of story-telling from former players who add plenty of color; it’s enjoyable hearing retired players recall events of their heyday with such vigor and it appears quite obvious that they have wistful memories of an era long gone. Cook’s research effort is definitely evident. While encapsulating the season leading up to each Super Bowl, we get an idea of how the players and coaches approached the game … and it wasn’t about a paycheck. Cook does a fine job detailing how different the game was in the 70s and how that decade pretty much served as the start of the NFL becoming such a dominant entity. Salaries were a pittance compared to those today and the game’s violence led to rules changes that most people today probably think existed all along, but the NFL Commissioner (Pete Rozelle) and team owners implemented numerous changes that really opened up the game. Arguably, players seemed to be tougher in the 70s … the vicious nature of the game was still pretty much unchecked and men played with injuries (often severe). I particularly enjoyed the birth and growth of Monday Night Football; there certainly was a lot more going on in the announcer’s booth that one could have imagined (but they always seemed to pull things off). On and off field chatter, sideline antics and “me generation” players and coaches provide much of the book’s more memorable moments. Additionally, steroids (not banned back then) and alcohol were consumed by players like milk and cookies in a daycare … crazy times.

I wished Cook had expanded the book a little more … I would have loved to read more about the futility of the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976 and unfortunately, that one-of-a-kind double-overtime Baltimore-Oakland playoff game wasn't even mentioned. Understandably, the book is Steeler-laden with a heavy dose of Dolphin, Raider, Cowboy and 49er teams. Some Super Bowl losers, like the hapless Vikings and the Cowboys score a little more attention, but teams like the Rams, Redskins and Broncos only get a line or two. Regardless, this book provided a wonderful trip down memory lane for me … a reminder of how simple and fun things were back then, even in professional sports … kind of like thumbing through a copy of a 1970s Sears Christmas Wish book. I wonder if I can still find a set of those skin-tight, flammable NFL pajamas with a Redskins helmet on the shirt front.

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