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Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web
Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web
by Joseph Michael Reagle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.79
51 used & new from $8.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Academically-oriented exploration into internet commentary, July 17, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Joseph M. Reagle Jr is a professor of Communication Studies, so it makes sense that "Reading the Comments" is more about putting all web commentary within the context of communication theory and history rather than an analysis of technological issues or deep psycho-social mores. Keeping that caveat in mind, this is a an excellent academically-oriented perspective on what how internet commentary both differs from and is similar to traditional commentaries such as essays, gossip, letters to the editor, etc.

Contrary to the title's implication, the book is not just about "comments" in the sense of comments appended to news articles or in blogs' guestbooks. Reagle is really talking about commentary in general, which seems to be defined as anything written about primary content material. This is admittedly a very broad definition and a fairly unsatisfactory one (the line between primary, original material and secondary commentary blurs easily when we consider bodies of critical literature), but it does allow Reagle to examine everything from product reviews to fan fiction. Given my own orientation, I found the sections on reviews to be the most interesting particularly an examination of Amazon's Vine review system and how all online review systems can indeed be manipulated by marketers or even the owners of the websites. Depending on your own interests, you may be overly familiar with many of Reagle's examples; I know for sure that I was. Yes, some of the book is related to online bullying, trolling, and other negative aspects of the internet but there are also many positive, neutral, or quirky aspects covered too.

This isn't a light read for waiting in an airport or lounging on a beach, but those interested in commentary within the context of the internet will be well-served by reading it.


Seduction of the Innocent (Hard Case Crime)
Seduction of the Innocent (Hard Case Crime)
by Max Allan Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.16
82 used & new from $1.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Whodunit Set in the 1950s, May 13, 2015
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"Seduction of the Innocent" is set during that weird period in the 1950s when the comic-book industry was attacked by an amalgam of social science, politicians, and parents groups. This is a scene that we've seen repeated many times since with popular music, videogames, movies and the internet, but the anti-comics hysteria was unique in that the outcome of the hysteria forcibly reshaped the content of comic-books for decades afterwards. While not a straight documentary by any means, the book captures the anxious mood of the era and uses it as both the backdrop and prime mover of the story.

Most of "Seduction" is a good-old-fashioned whodunit that's more of a pot-boiler than hard-boiled, which makes for a quick read that's a lot of fun to get through. The setup: An anti-comics crusader (based closely on real-life anti-comics crusader Fredric Wertham) is murdered after giving testimony to a Senate subcommittee, and there's no shortage of suspects within the comic-book industry to blame. This could have been a one-dimensional story in someone else's hands, but Max Allan Collins fleshes out all the lead characters to such a degree that they seem believable - even if you are unfamiliar with the real-life people they are often based on. Collins is well-known for his attention to period detail and mood, and his real feat here is providing a more rounded and even-handed portrayal of Wertham than most of us are used to seeing. Wertham did engage in unfair debate tricks and shameless self-promotion and used questionable logic in his popular books, but he also was an important (if forgotten) individual in the civil rights movement whose concern over America's youth was sincere, if misguided.

The occasional illustrations, done in the style of old-fashioned comics, are always a treat and an added bonus.

While not as engaging as the Nate Heller mysteries, "Seduction" will provide a lot of enjoyment, especially to anyone interested in the end of the Golden Age of comic-books. If you're a hardcore fan of the period, you might want to give this an extra star.


Cookie's Case (The Tug Wyler Mysteries)
Cookie's Case (The Tug Wyler Mysteries)
by Andy Siegel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.91
42 used & new from $5.42

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Satisfying Read, May 4, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Cookie's Case" is the second Tug Wyler novel written by Andy Siegel, and I sincerely hope there will be many, many more in this series. Siegel's writing style is economical, crafty, and perfectly suited to the hardboiled mystery genre. With "Cookie's Case" Siegel's written a book that I had to finish over a weekend because I needed to know what happened next.

Tug Wyler is an attorney who specializes in insurance claims, although he's also quite the sleuth. While the tone of his investigations seems jaunty, and while many of the characters in the novel are eccentric to a great degree, at no point does the story ever veer into the realm of farce. This is an exceptionally difficult trick for an author to pull off, and Siegel succeeded. Tug Wyler's New York is an odd world in which very strange things can happen to very offbeat characters. The weird initial setup - a stripper slips on a banana peel on stage - is far from the most outrageous thing to happen in this mystery. My favorite character in the entire book isn't Cookie; it's an oversized, mentally challenged kid name Robert Killroy who is sketched by Siegel with such an eye toward humanity that he literally becomes the heart of the story. I didn't expect to meet anyone like Robert Killroy in this book, but I am so glad that Siegel put him in here.

The novel wraps up a bit too suddenly, but the conclusion definitely serves its purpose and doesn't leave any loose ends. While you'll probably wish the ride Tug Wyler took you on was longer, you'll look forward to the next one.


Star Killer Star (A Crossroads Thriller)
Star Killer Star (A Crossroads Thriller)
by Eyre Price
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.32
25 used & new from $6.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pulp Fiction Meets Lester Bangs?, April 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As with practically all conspiracy thrillers, it's difficult to review a book like this without giving too much away. "Star Killer Star" is part of the Crossroads series, and does not make much sense as a standalone adventure. Eyre Price has created two lead characters that would have fit right in with "Pulp Fiction", but the focus isn't on these Tarantino-like characters nearly often enough. This is a shame because it's great to see well-realized heroes rather than the bland ciphers or quasi-superheroes that usually pop up in these books. Instead, for the most part, Price alternates chapters that are relatively straightforward conspiracy theory with chapters that contain Baby Boomer era-oriented music criticism. The conspiracy theory angle makes a great deal of sense because many talented popular musicians have died under extreme circumstances, and it's a good base to build a thriller on. It's also pretty clear that Pryce is passionate and opinionated about the blues and rock and roll, and would probably write an excellent and coherent nonfiction book on rock's history from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, but it's a bit jarring to have a tale stop dead in its tracks out of the blue so we get a chapter about the Beatles!

Your mileage will vary with this one. If you're already invested in the other Crossroads books, you'll no doubt want this one too. If you haven't read any of the series, and you've already read enough rock criticism to last a lifetime, you're going to find this one tough-going. Personally, I hope that Pryce's next book is nonfiction and permits him to examine music in its own right at greater length.


Realeza 2013 (Alberto Del Rio)
Realeza 2013 (Alberto Del Rio)
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars !Viva Alberto!, February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's a pure musical jolt of Mexican-infused caffeine to get you going. If you're a WWE fan, it's impossible to hear this remix without imagining one of Alberto's trademarked entrances with luxury cars and personalized ring announcers. Alberto got one of the better recent WWE themes of recent years - too bad WWE had no idea how to properly use this man's considerable talents and pedigree. He's still kicking it considerably well at AAA and Lucha Underground, but without this wonderful music.


Old Spice Unruly Texturizing Paste 2.64 Oz, 2.640-Fluid Ounce
Old Spice Unruly Texturizing Paste 2.64 Oz, 2.640-Fluid Ounce
Price: $5.09
24 used & new from $5.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Good styling paste, February 13, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is good styling paste mostly for short hair and conservative hairstyles. I'm not sure how it would work for more avant-garde punk styles, but that's beside the point. It isn't greasy, doesn't look oily, doesn't weigh hair down, and leaves hair looking natural. A very small amount can be combed through hair, and eliminates the need for gel or spray. It's better than other gels or pastes that I've tried.


Glow: A Novel
Glow: A Novel
by Ned Beauman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.79
78 used & new from $4.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Future Cult Item, February 10, 2015
This review is from: Glow: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Glow" is a contemporary conspiracy-oriented thriller that has the potential to have continued cult appeal. Your mileage with "Glow" will vary, depending on how strongly you weigh the book's strengths against its deficits. Out of respect for the author, I'm going to refrain from any spoilers that aren't apparent in the book's description.

On the positive side, Ned Beauman sets his story primarily in a London that many non-British will not readily recognize. Today's London is neither a gas-lit fantasyland nor a holdover from the Swinging Sixties; it is a multicultural metropolis with sizable numbers of immigrants. Beauman has used London's Burmese immigrant community to great effect here. Beauman also incorporates non-mainstream outlets that the British use for experiencing music, such as pirate radio stations and raves, that do not typically appear in mainstream thrillers or movies set in the present day. There's also an almost studious attempt to avoid anything resembling a stock character, which is pretty rare in a conspiracy novel, and Beauman thankfully avoids turning Raf, the relatively flawed and passive lead character, into a dashing action hero as the novel progresses.

On the negative side, like all conspiracy novels "Glow" relies far too much on happy coincidences that exist only to push the plot forward. Raf may possess a savant-like amount of knowledge regarding the neuroscience and chemistry behind recreational drugs, but his detective work consists of repeatedly stumbling upon characters who then automatically engage him in paragraphs of exposition. We're asked to believe that Raf is deeply troubled by the loss of his friend Theo and madly in love with the enigmatic rave girl Cherish, but there's really not much actual evidence to support of this. In fact, several of the supporting characters steal the show every time they appear. It's difficult to make any emotional investment in a lead character's conflicts if the conflicts don't seem very real. Beauman makes matters worse by occasionally lapsing into some truly convoluted and confusing prose that seems to cry out for a disciplined editor.

If you prefer cerebral thrillers with a certain hipster vibe, you're going to enjoy huge sections of "Glow." If you prefer emotionally gripping and suspenseful thrillers, you won't like "Glow."


Bicycle Luchadores Playing Cards
Bicycle Luchadores Playing Cards
Price: $3.99
9 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The next time someone asks you about tonight's wrestling card, offer them this deck!, February 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Bicycle makes some of the most durable playing cards in the business, and these cards will definitely hold up for many years' worth of playing. They shuffle well, and are glossy enough to be attractive without being so glossy that they slip while dealing. Most of the artwork is stylized and top-notch, and I really liked that the card backing is based on a standard old-school wrestling poster with all fights on the bill listed. The wrestlers, incidentally, are all fictional; you will not find Mistico and the Blue Demon here!

Two minor drawbacks - the number cards are somewhat difficult to read until you get used to them due to the graphics. Also, not all of the Spanish on the cards is correct - which is a bit strange considering that these are supposed to be a tribute to a distinctly Mexican style of wrestling.


Drive Medical Pedal Exerciser with Attractive Silver Vein Finish, Silver Vein (Knock down)
Drive Medical Pedal Exerciser with Attractive Silver Vein Finish, Silver Vein (Knock down)
Price: $20.22
78 used & new from $18.65

3.0 out of 5 stars OK for limited use but not much else, February 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'd rate this 2 1/2 stars if I could. This is a very lightweight set of pedals that is not suitable for long exercise sessions. The base slides around (despite the rubber stoppers) unless it is placed on a carpet. The tension is not the greatest, and isn't adjustable in any meaningful sense. The pedals themselves are on the small size - I take a size 10 men's shoe and I cannot wear my sneakers when I am using these pedals.

I use these pedals mainly because I have to sit for long hours at my job and it helps my circulation to take a break and either climb stairs or pedal at a decent speed for at least five-to-ten minutes. They are not good for a genuinely lengthy workout.


SOLO Executive Backpack, Khaki (VTA730-11U2)
SOLO Executive Backpack, Khaki (VTA730-11U2)
Price: $55.80
22 used & new from $55.80

5.0 out of 5 stars This backpack is a great alternative to a standard, January 22, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This backpack is a great alternative to a standard, traditional laptop bag. I can see this being very useful for independent consultants, adjuncts and graduate students who need to bring their laptops with them to multiple locations in a single day. It's comfortable to wear, roomy enough to include peripherals, and looks pretty sharp. I was impressed by the high quality of the canvas, zippers, and stitching. It is definitely a step up from most laptop cases n this price range and it also is a lot better looking than most cases that come from the manufacturers of laptops as part of a package. Naturally, a backpack like this can also be used to carry books and relatively compact, flat objects instead of a laptop if you wish. (It would not be very good for carrying SLR camera equipment). I would not trust the canvas to be waterproof but then again, I would not trust any non-hardshell case to repel water and would not risk electronic equipment in that way.

I did not find the bag as thoroughly padded as I would have liked, but this is not a deal-breaker for me. I did not expect extreme padding. I would use this bag primarily for transporting my laptop on my body and would not toss this into an overhead compartment or a car trunk if I could avoid it.


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