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Mindsploitation: Asinine Assignments for the Online Homework Cheating Industry
Mindsploitation: Asinine Assignments for the Online Homework Cheating Industry
by Vernon Chatman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.10
55 used & new from $5.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "When I Enter Spaceship, I See Strange Badgers There.", September 21, 2014
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Vernon Chatman has contrived a masterpiece. This is a wonderful book showcasing the ineptitude of offshore homework companies trying to complete completely inane assignments that Chatman provides. There isn't a page in the book without something to make you laugh out loud. A synopsis is impossible, but a few examples may be of assistance.

When asked to invent a new human limb for a class called "Human Biological Technologism" the result is the "Peanutclaw," a specialized appendage for cracking open seeds and peanuts. The correspondence that ensues ("What is the peanutclaw's prime directive?") is increasingly bizarre and just gets funnier.

For you English majors out there there's a great musing in pseudo-rhyming couplets titled "Poetry of Spite" ("I will remember tickling hair / Of her moustache and loving kiss....")

For the Logistics class an assignment in "Advanced Riddle Solvage" requires several very difficult questions to be addressed, not the least of which is "If there is no such thing as death, what effect would this have on the raisin sales industry?" While the answer provided uses faultless logic, it is rather uninsightful, to say the least.

In a class named "Culinary Delightmaking" the most obscure and disgusting assignment in the book presents the ultimate difficulty for a budding chef: "Create a recipe using meconium." If you don't know what that is, don't feel bad (but do look it up.) If you do know what it is you'll instantly grasp why it’s impossible to create a dish using it as the main ingredient. Despite this, you will be unable not to laugh through your revulsion.

But my favorite assignment of all is for a class ostensibly called "Creative Post-Modern Storywriting 1010101," in which the poor writer is asked to tackle an assignment that is from beyond the fringe: "You must compose an original creative story that is a story within a story within a story about a story within a story about a story about a story. It must constantly collapse into itself and directly reference all five levels. Also, write it in the 51st person." I will just say that the results are hilarious on all five levels and then some.

This book is a great choice for anyone, particularly anyone who enjoys academic humor or the works of Ted L. Nancy. It's not a particularly long book, but it may take you a while to read due to having to take frequent breaks for wiping the tears from your eyes from the excessive laughter. "Mindsploitation" is a brilliant idea that was perfectly executed by a very funny guy.


Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You
Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You
by Greg Gutfeld
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.78
98 used & new from $9.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cult Of Cool Viciously Dissected, September 20, 2014
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"Not Cool" is a brilliant skewering of the mindlessness that passes as intellectualism and culture on the left. I appreciate this book more than I would from other pure-GOP talking heads, as Greg is a genuine libertarian with viewpoints frequently out of lockstep from the mainstream of the right. I applaud that he isn't afraid to defend his own positions even if they are totally unique (and a few of them are.) The principle underlying this book is that liberals define themselves as cool (Greg's logic in explaining this is spot on) and that "the cool hate nothing more than when a genuinely original thinker rejects them" (p.29.) Indeed. The examples he cites are irrefutable and anyone who dares to stand up to this groupthink is deemed "intolerant" or something that ends in "-ist" immediately.

Among Gutfeld's most frequent targets are the loony positions endorsed by celebrities who always claim the high ground even if they are endorsing radicals like the Weather Underground, which Robert Redford used as a basis for his "The Company You Keep," a film with great variance from the facts of the actual killings involved. I heartily approve of Gutfeld's proposal that "celebrities and activists who adore violent radicals should be forced to meet the relatives of those adorable violent radicals" (p. 67.) This is no dry book of political commentary, though: Gutfeld's somewhat random, scathing and sarcastic sense of humor comes through nearly constantly ("I made a vow years ago not to see any movie starring Robert Redford or Susan Sarandon unless they are documentaries that culminate in them being eaten alive in a vat of European congers," p.69.) A sound policy.

Just because he's sarcastic and scornful doesn't mean there isn't a lot of thought and insight behind his proclamations, for example the chapter "Killer Cool" begins aptly thus: "If you're looking for the worst person in the room, find the guy wearing the "Free Mumia" button, as a show of support for a cop killer." This is a rich vein for Gutfeld to mine, as it is perhaps the biggest chink in the armor of the left, and the thought process comes to a head in the excellent chapter "How Heathens Become Hip," which begins with commentary about Hugo Chávez. When Chávez, a murderous thug, died the cool came calling: "When Chávez bit the dust, who did we see? Sean Penn. Oliver Stone. Jimmy Carter. Joe Kennedy. All decorating the corpse with wreaths of blithering blather." (Do we even need to read Michael Moore's tweets on the matter?) Gutfeld contrasts this to the death of Margaret Thatcher a few weeks later at "the National Union of Students conference in Sheffield, where some delegates actually cheered when told of Thatcher's death" (pp. 96-104.) Mind you none of these students were old enough to actually remember Thatcher, but when a British Celebrity expressed her condolences on Twitter "she was met with vile slurs (all of which rhymed with the word 'bunt.')" "Rolling Stone" putting the Boston Bomber on the cover is cited as an appalling glorification of evil in the amoral world of the cool: he explains that he'd like to read the issue with Bob Dylan on the cover ("the man loved Barry Goldwater") but he can no longer buy it and support the editorial viewpoint it furthers, concluding "Me, I'm getting a subscription to 'Cat Fancy.' When was the last time a cat blew up anything?"

While I've illustrated some of Gutfeld's themes with examples (I could go on, but the review would really take a while...) but perhaps my favorite chapter in the book is "The Rise of the Free Radical" at the end which lists people who are truly cool, and who are infrequently celebrated, even though they should be due to some common elements which Gutfeld defines (p. 230) as honesty, fidelity to principle, unpredictability that starts to make sense once you realize the person has a code, and persuasive correctness. They are morally upright people who do what they genuinely believe to be the right thing even when nobody is watching, and Gutfeld provides a convincing argument for the selections. Examples include such diverse choices as black conservatives, Ambassador John Bolton, Bjorn Lomborg, Ramirez, Hirsi Ali, Iranian metal bands, legal immigrants, Truman Capote, Japan, Mike judge, Margaret Thatcher, King Buzzo, Ben Carson, and my favorite choice on the list, Skunk Baxter (former "Steely Dan" and "Doobie Brothers" guitarist, who now consults for the Pentagon as an expert in ballistic missile defense systems. Seriously.) A list like that does not spring from the mind of a party political hack, and certainly Gutfeld is no hack: he's a scary-smart, insightful, and deeply funny guy who knows how to make a point, and here his overarching point is to think for yourself. I don't agree with everything he says or believes, but that's exactly what he'd want.


Japanese  English Bilingual Visual Dictionary (DK Visual Dictionaries)
Japanese English Bilingual Visual Dictionary (DK Visual Dictionaries)
by DK Publishing
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.58
69 used & new from $5.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Supremely Useful Japanese-English Dictionary, September 20, 2014
The DK Japanese-English Visual Dictionary was one of the two books I referred to most for assisting with communications during a recent three week trek across Japan (the other was the "Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook and Dictionary.") I had previously used the DK French-English Visual Dictionary with great success and this book contains essentially identical photographs from the French volume, but obviously labeled with the English and Japanese terms for everything from lacrosse (rakurosu) to insect repellent (mushiyoke,) and everything in between. This also makes for a fun vocabulary builder to browse through things that you are interested and study the words associated with that theme. The book does have some pronunciation tips and some directions for quirks specific to the Japanese-English version of this dictionary, but this is a dictionary and not a phrasebook. If you want a phrasebook, this is not your best choice, but if you want an easily accessible dictionary that has most any word your may ever need as a tourist (and then some) grouped into sensible thematic sections this is indispensable. One of the great things about the book is that when you are all out of ideas about how to communicate, opening the book and pointing to what you want is hugely effective (I used this technique in several giant department stores in both Tokyo and Hiroshima, with great results.) It's not sophisticated or elegant, but it works. When I go back to Japan, I will definitely be taking this back with me.


The Complete Bob Wilkins Creature Features DVD
The Complete Bob Wilkins Creature Features DVD
DVD ~ Bob Wilkins
2 used & new from $17.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Feature On A Pioneering Horror Host, September 19, 2014
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Being a longtime fan of early horror and cult movies, I had heard of Bob Wilkins, but since I was from nowhere near Northern California I had never seen any of his material. It was my loss. This DVD is an 87-minute treasure trove of cult film paradise. Between 1966 and 1981, Bob hosted over 1,800 movies (!) on his show, and this feature takes you across the breadth of that massive body of work with clips, trailers, stills, audio and video snippets, and vintage interviews with the likes of Boris Karloff, John Belushi, the great William Marshall (a fine actor and singer perhaps best remembered for his roles in "Blacula" and "Star Trek",) and the incomparably prolific man of horror himself, John Carradine! This is a great introduction to Bob Wilkins, its only fault being that it's too short. The titles profiled read like a shopping list of B-movies from days gone by (I was astounded by how many of them I had seen) and the information provided is interesting to true fans of the genre. Wilkins' good humor shines through and it's immediately obvious why he was such a beloved fixture on California television.


Chernobyl Diaries (DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy)
Chernobyl Diaries (DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy)
DVD ~ Devin Kelley
Price: $5.00
107 used & new from $0.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Think "The Blair Witch Project" With Radioactive Mutant Bears, September 19, 2014
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"Chernobyl Diaries" is a pseudo-reality horror film, with lots of atmospheric, panicky hand-held camera work. It features some interchangeable good looking twenty-somethings who go to Kiev and on a whim visit Uri's Extreme Travel for a day trip to Chernobyl and the creepy abandoned town of Pripyat where the Chernobyl workers lived. In reality Pripyat is extremely creepy, and it follows that it makes an effective setting for a horror movie, and it does. When the tour arrives they are turned away, but Uri knows another way in.

Of course much menacing drama unfolds and the party ends up with a bonus overnight sleepover due to the van not starting right on cue. During exploration of the site there are attacks by wild dogs, radioactive bears, and even creepier things all of which hint at the predictable but well-done ending of the film. Much of the movie is highly contrived and utterly eye-rolling, and the excessive yelling and walking around in the dark gets old after a while. It's also a problem when the only vaguely likeable cast member is Uri, an ex-USSR Special Forces operative. As unlikely as it would be to stumble into the reactor control room at Chernobyl, that's the least of the logical issues the film has to deal with. Fortunately, the conclusion is the big payoff and it's handled well, though the closing credits and music are awful. There are a couple of inconsequential extras including the "Chernobyl Conspiracy Viral Video," and an utterly pointless deleted scene.

I have mixed feelings about "Chernobyl Diaries." It is a great and genuinely creepy concept that had a decent first and third act, but act two was illogical and intermittently painful to sit through as I cared about none of the protagonists or their peril, so it's really a problem of execution by the filmmakers (and some especially hammy acting in places.) Fans of the genre will appreciate the movie, and to them I recommend it.


Brooks Men's Infiniti 3" Split Short, Color: Electric/White, Size: XL
Brooks Men's Infiniti 3" Split Short, Color: Electric/White, Size: XL
Offered by Brooks Sports
Price: $55.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Minimalist Running Shorts, September 19, 2014
I love Brooks shoes and (unsurprisingly) love these shorts too. The Infiniti split shorts are well made and carefully thought out. I like the 3" inseam for racing: when you wear them you almost forget they are there; they stay comfortable for long periods even in very warm weather. I am very picky about pockets on my shorts, and here Brooks did a generally good job. I will say that the two side pockets are too shallow for my taste, and the inner pocket on the right hip seems oddly located, but it's not especially disagreeable. The real bonus is the hidden zippered pocket on the inside seam of the right side pocket: it's a beautiful touch. If you do endurance work each side pocket has two elastic loops to hold energy gels, which is a nice feature.

These shorts have reflective details which I appreciate as I live in a location where nightfall comes very early part of the year (although in all honesty, it's normally cold enough then that I wouldn't have these on as an outer garment then.) The liner is extremely comfortable and it is clear that these shorts had a lot of thought put into them: seldom have style and utility been combined into a minimalist short so well. For warm weather and distance running, these are now my go-to shorts and I recommend them without reservation.


Sex Galaxy
Sex Galaxy
DVD ~ Various
Price: $19.95
10 used & new from $12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Sex In A Very Small Galaxy, September 19, 2014
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This review is from: Sex Galaxy (DVD)
I am a huge fan of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," and bought this (for a pittance, thankfully) because of the cover blurb reading "MST3K-Style Tribute to Campy Sci-Fi Romps of Yore." First off, don't let the title fool you. There is no sex in this film, and the adult content would probably garner a solid PG-13 rating today. This film is in no way titillating, and becomes tedious quickly. Essentially the film is a bunch of recycled clips from over 40 old public domain movies from multiple genres put together into a semi-coherent plot and dubbed (badly) with sophomoric dialogue that I would have been embarrassed by in the seventh grade. To tie the film together there's a small amount of contemporary footage of an astronaut and a babe. The movie garners an occasional chuckle but that's about it: the best and most amusing scene comes at the very end, which is very welcome.

The movie has a ton of extras including a fairly boring "making of" feature, some interviews, some extra footage of the modern star from the new scenes (the amply-bosomed Puma Swede,) and a music video by Mr. Chop called "The Caveman," which was the most entertaining thing on the DVD for me. I debated on what rating to give "Sex Galaxy," as with such a lurid title it seems nearly impossible that such a boring movie could possibly result. I seriously considered a one star rating as I was frankly bored and largely annoyed after about the first ten minutes or so, but I eventually settled on two stars for originality as I did like the concept of stitching a feature length film together solely from multiple vintage films. The problem was not in the underlying idea; the problem was in the execution (and particularly the dialogue.) I can't honestly recommend "Sex Galaxy" to anyone for any reason as it was a golden opportunity largely squandered. If you want to see a much better and more entertainingly campy movie, go find Doris Wishman's brilliantly loopy "Nude on the Moon."


Film Socialisme
Film Socialisme
DVD ~ Patti Smith
Offered by Big_Box_Bargains
Price: $15.62
19 used & new from $2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars "Once In 1942, I Encountered Nothingness...It's A Lot Thinner Than You Think.", September 15, 2014
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This review is from: Film Socialisme (DVD)
"Film Socialisme" is a sometimes maddening, often puzzling piece of art from the legendary French New Wave director John-Luc Godard. This film is a departure into the far fringes of anti-narrative filmmaking, and must be appreciated as such; those expecting a conventional movie need not apply.

I was frankly unable to decisively rate this film; two stars seemed too low for a movie that has scenes of such transcendent beauty, but more than three was simply out of the question as the film is deliberately and maddeningly impenetrable, particularly when he gets into the realm of political commentary. Fascism and communism are dealt with, as is socialism, but what he's actually saying is lost somewhere in translation, and one gets the idea that that's just what Godard intended.

The first third of the film was shot on the now infamous "Costa Concordia" and the ultimate fate of that ship makes the theme of a voyage to nowhere even more relevant several years after the film's 2010 premier at Cannes. Onboard the ship there are random snippets of conversation that revolve around various themes (money, opulence, spying, World War Two, etc.) but no real conclusions are ever drawn. None of the characters are approachable, leaving a viewer with more questions than answers. The cinematography in this part is also interesting: most of the shots of the "Concordia" are stunningly beautiful, but they are intercut with deliberately mismatched footage from very low definition sources making some scenes look like they were shot with an onboard security camera. The audio sources are treated likewise, and it is a somewhat disquieting experience. During all this rock legend Patti Smith roams the ship strumming her guitar and a girl walks into a glass partition. This is evidently symbolic of man's inhumanity to man.

After dispensing (mostly) with shipboard life, Godard takes us to a rural gas station where a family is having generational angst that is even more open to interpretation than anything on the ship. The randomesque editing and cohabitation by a llama and mule make this an amusing if confusing passage, but the footage is beautiful with unbelievably vibrant color saturation in parts. The llama at the gas pump at least gives you something to contemplate when the redistribution of wealth discussions are taking place. One thing this film is not is a good advertisement for any specific type of government or monetary policy.

The third part of the film is a summary of historical atrocities organized as a port call list on a cruise liner. Interstitial title cards say things like "Palestine" to set the scene, but then again they also randomly say things like "Kiss Me Stupid." As nonsensical as they sometimes were, I liked the odd wordplay and title cards. The film closes abruptly with large letters saying simply "NO COMMENT," which I view as one of the master touches in the film. The subject of subtitles is bound to come up here, so let me dispense with that as quickly as possible. You have two basic choices, English or Godard's "Navajo English." The English subtitles are merely difficult to follow; the Navajo English take the film to a whole different plane of surrealism: a lengthy passage is summarized with a subtitle reading "Poor things name imposed," in one extremely typical example. If you are only going to watch the film once I recommend the Navajo English subtitles as they make a challenging piece even more baffling. Good luck!


SHARKNADO BEACH TOWEL, ADULT SIZE 30 X 60 INCHES
SHARKNADO BEACH TOWEL, ADULT SIZE 30 X 60 INCHES
Offered by Eighty Twenty
Price: $29.99
4 used & new from $29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Sharknado Towel, September 13, 2014
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The Sharknado beach towel is a great way to celebrate the pageantry that is "Sharknado" either in your own bathroom or at the beach. Of all the towels I own with sharks and/or tornadoes on them, this is my clear favorite. It's not too big to hang on a towel rack adjacent to the shower, but it's large enough to handle beach or pool duties. It loses a star for being fairly thin and therefore a bit less absorbent than would be ideal. When I have a shark towel, I want it to be able to soak up large quantities of whatever liquid lands on it, and since those are Great Whites, that's probably seawater and blood.


Brooks Men's Cascadia 9 Trail Running Shoes, Color: HghRskRed/Orangeade/LemonChrme, Size: 11.5
Brooks Men's Cascadia 9 Trail Running Shoes, Color: HghRskRed/Orangeade/LemonChrme, Size: 11.5
Offered by Brooks Sports
Price: $120.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brooks Cascadia 9: Comfortable, Versatile, And Well Made, September 13, 2014
I have had three earlier vintages of Cascadias, and like them, the Cascadia 9's are great shoes. They are rugged and very durable, and generally quite comfortable, though I would argue for a bit more padding in the heel; that is a personal preference based on the fact that I run more on pavement than off. The lugs on the bottom aren't especially prominent, but give very firm footing, though I don't do a lot of trail running on gravel with a lot of vertical relief. I use these for a mix of on and off road (I tend to like ASICS Noosas for pavement) running. and these were comfortable right out of the box.

A couple of general comments: I am 6'2" and 195 pounds, and am pretty hard on shoes. Cascadias have been some of my longest lasting shoes and I expect this pair to be no different. One thing I noticed is that compared to the older Cascadias the heel is lower and the ride a bit firmer on pavement with these; while I really do like the Cascadia 9, I have to say I prefer running in my older Cascadias for those reasons, though people who do a lot of challenging trail running will likely prefer these. In ASICS I am a size 12 across the board, but in all my Cascadias I am just right at 11.5, so if you have never had Cascadias before and can physically try them on first it would behoove you to do so. I do like the styling and outlandishly garish High Risk Red/Orangeade color scheme, so kudos for Brooks on the aesthetic angle (though many will doubtlessly find them a bit on the bright side.) While the Cascadia 9 isn't my favorite in the long lineage of Cascadia trail runners, I still have no qualms giving them five stars and recommend them for anything from trail running to daily street wear and all activities in between.


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