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Andrew S. Rogers RSS Feed (Houston, Texas)

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Jo (Season 1) - 2-DVD Set ( The Cop - Crime Scene Paris (Jo - Season One) ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]
Jo (Season 1) - 2-DVD Set ( The Cop - Crime Scene Paris (Jo - Season One) ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]
DVD ~ Jean Reno
Offered by MEGA Media
Price: $30.88
12 used & new from $14.49

4.0 out of 5 stars "Law & Order: Rive Gauche," sort of, that got better as it went along, September 24, 2014
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Critics cited on various other websites seem to have dismissed "Jo" as a collection of cop-show clichés. I don't think it's quite that simple. Certainly creator/writer/producer Rene Balcer, writer and showrunner of the original "Law & Order" and other parts of the L&O universe, and his team made use of some familiar (and useful, and largely successful) building blocks from L&O days. I might arguably describe that as lazy writing, but not, on that basis alone, as bad writing.

I'm an L&O fan, but I was attracted to this by the fact that my favorite actress, the magnificent Orla Brady, plays the Anita Van Buren/Don Cragen role as "Commissaire Béatrice Dormont." My first thought was that this would be "Law & Order: Rive Gauche." It wasn't quite that, although the familiar elements mentioned above range from the wisecrack at the fade into the opening credits, to the detective estranged from his adult daughter in part because of his own demons and addictions, to the Ell-Tee with lessons hard-won from years of sobriety. There were probably many more. Episode Six nods at the L&O universe with a guest appearance from Sam Waterston (not playing Jack McCoy). I imagine nearly everyone who knows L&O was hoping, as I was, they could contrive to get his character and series regular Jill Hennessy's into a scene together. Episode Eight, which turned out to be the final one of the series, places the show entirely within the L&O universe with the appearance of a well-known recurring character from one of the spinoffs.

I didn't have a problem with the plots, but I did find the dialogue surprisingly wooden sometimes. Tom Austen's lines in the earlier eps, especially, often seemed very awkward (again, this isn't about his performance, but about the writing). Some critics evidently said the show didn't do enough to highlight the Paris scenery. I thought, on the other hand, it did a good job of demythologizing the City of Light and making it a city of actual people.

For me as for some others, the big question mark was someone's decision to have all of these allegedly French people (with the exception of Jean Reno, who really is French) speak in terrible, flat American accents. Having to listen to Orla Brady swallow her natural Irish accent in order to deliver lines like "Well, you need to get up there and show `em how it's done" or "This two-bit drug dealer..." while sounding like she was from Akron or something was one of the true crimes in each episode. On the other hand, Jo had a memorable bit in Episode Five: "He was looking at her the way a man looks at a woman. He's the warden. He should be looking at her the way a grocer looks at oranges." Even Lenny Briscoe couldn't have gotten away with a line like that.

On the whole, I liked "Jo" and thought future series, had there been any, could have had a lot of promise. This is a weird little satellite orbiting on the outer edges of the L&O universe, but it was not in the least an unpleasant place to visit. Even though only eight episodes were made, it's good to know we'll always have Paris.

Love Song for Ulster
Love Song for Ulster
by Bill Morrison
Edition: Paperback
9 used & new from $1.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Ulster history disguised as a single family, September 24, 2014
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This review is from: Love Song for Ulster (Paperback)
This book is the 1994 publication of the scripts of three plays that premiered together in London in March, 1993. To quote the Times Educational Supplement review that forms the foreword to the book, "'A Love Song for Ulster' chronicles the history of a family from the arranged marriage between John, a stolid, decent Protestant, and Kate, a beautiful, tempestuous Catholic free spirit..." At the premiere, Kate was played by my favorite actress, the magnificent Orla Brady (Mistresses, Proof), while Brendan Coyle (later Masterpiece Downton Abbey's "Mr. Bates") played both John and their son Boyd (the playwright specified that both roles should be performed by the same actor).

Kate is a wife and mother, and as the TES review says, the trilogy is the story of several generations of her family. But the family is also metaphor for the history of Northern Ireland from the partition to the then-contemporary peace effort. Each family member or supporting character essentially stands in, as best I can tell, for various Ulster populations and/or political opinions. John and Kate's house -- all three plays are set entirely within the house's walls or near exterior -- becomes a representation of Northern Ireland itself, with Kate's children and various outsiders battling for control. I was particularly moved by the central relationship between John and Kate themselves: two people who, although forced together against their will, eventually develop mutual respect and even love, only to have what they built fought over and destroyed from both inside and out. It's ambitious storytelling, and from the reviews printed on the book cover it sounds like it was well received. Certainly I found the story compelling. I don't know if "A Love Song for Ulster" is ever performed anymore, but I'd enjoy a chance to see it -- particularly if the original cast were to reprise their roles.

Contigo Tranquil Bottle, 20-Ounce, Greyed Jade
Contigo Tranquil Bottle, 20-Ounce, Greyed Jade
Price: $9.99
2 used & new from $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine, functional bottle even without the spiritual advantages, September 24, 2014
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I don't know about "tranquility" or islands of serenity or any of the other cosmic virtues claimed for this water bottle, but I can absolutely attest that it performs its function of holding water admirably. The top unscrews in two places — a wider mouth just above the top of the soft blue lining, and then a smaller one just below the circular handle. That makes this easy to fill with ice and liquid, and then easy to drink neatly. The ring on top makes this easy to carry, and the bottle is somewhat insulated too, so drinks stay cold. The bottle is a bit wide for many car cup-holders, which is a minor complaint, but otherwise I like this bottle a lot and use it almost daily. And since I'm drinking water and not caffeinated beverages out of it, maybe it's making me more tranquil too? Hard to say.

Shadows In The Storm
Shadows In The Storm

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ouch. Failed noir only gets the second star because of Mia Sara, May 23, 2014
I watched this for free last night on Amazon Instant Video, and I still think the price was too high. To borrow, with apologies, from the previous reviewer of a decade ago, even if you like Mia Sara, you will not enjoy this film.

Mia Sara became my favorite actress a long time ago, and held that position even as she became, to use her own phrase, "mostly retired" and her work became more sporadic, and someone else recently ascended rapidly to become what I might call my "favorite actress who isn't mostly retired." As consolation, if any were needed, Mia has also become a favorite poet: google the phrase "Mia Sara Writes" or take a tumbl with "where to find Mia Sara" and I think you'll be favorably impressed.

Sadly, there was not much favorable or impressive about "Shadows in the Storm." Reviewers on IMDB describe this as writer-director Terrell Tannen's attempt at a neo-noir, and that seems accurate to me. He didn't succeed, though. The plot matches the broadest description of a noir plot, that being the story of a man who makes a bad decision and then is helpless to prevent the consequences of that decision from destroying him. And the setting in the California woods did remind me of parts of Out Of The Past [HD]. The near-constant darkness and rain worked too. But unlike the typically convoluted, even indecipherable, noir plot, I figured out what was up here very, very quickly. I expected to be squicked by the idea of a romantic pairing between 21-year-old Mia Sara and 51-year-old Ned Beatty (see also 28-year-old Mia's character being sent to seduce 62-year-old Michael Caine in Bullet to Beijing), but it did make sense in the context of the plot, while their one un-graphic and un-sexy sex scene only lasted about 20 seconds, which seemed true-to-life for a man in Ned's condition. And there's at least one plot hole in the resolution that even someone with eyesight as bad as Thelonious Pitt's (yes, that's Ned's character's name) should have been able to see through.

Still, Mia is luminous -- not only herownself, but because for most of the movie she's in white sweaters or dresses that seem to glow in the murky woods or interiors. When she suddenly appears in a black leather jacket in bright daylight, you know something has changed. This was a tough movie to watch for several reasons -- and also to listen to, O bad '80s soundtrack entirely disconnected from the mood of the film. At one point late in the story, Mia's character is sitting in a motel room watching the noir classic D.O.A. -- specifically, the scene where Edmond O'Brien is told "You're already dead." Sad that that should have been the most dramatic moment in this film.

Torani Sugar Free Syrup, Hazelnut, 25.4 Ounce (Pack of 4)
Torani Sugar Free Syrup, Hazelnut, 25.4 Ounce (Pack of 4)
Price: $24.62
5 used & new from $24.62

4.0 out of 5 stars Makes a fine hazelnut mocha, April 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a great-tasting hazelnut syrup, especially given that it's sugar-free. I find the hazelnut taste is much stronger than the tastes of other Torani syrups (I have coconut, chocolate, raspberry, and a couple of others), and so a much smaller pump serves the same purpose. As part a home coffee bar or even a cart or cafe, this syrup is a great option to have around.

Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America
Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America
by Russ Baker
Edition: Hardcover
46 used & new from $4.04

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still an unfolding story, March 5, 2014
On the morning after George P. Bush scored a decisive victory in the Republican primary race for land commissioner in Texas, and when his father Jeb is already showing up in some polls as a frontrunner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, it's clear that the Bush family's place as America's preeminent political dynasty is as secure today as it has ever been. That makes "Family of Secrets," even though it's a few years old now, very far from (to use a Clintonian term) "old news." In fact, it may be getting more important.

Russ Baker is an experienced and perceptive investigative journalist, and is very aware -- as he notes in his final chapter -- that in exploring the "powerful forces" surrounding the Bush family he is skirting the bounds of "conspiracy theory." Some would say, and have said, he crossed those bounds. But he has amassed some pretty powerful evidence behind his revelations. Going well beyond the popular images of George H.W. Bush ("Poppy") as the genial but ineffective and out-of-touch preppy and his son as the bumptious, inarticulate "decider" whose strings were pulled by Cheney and Rumsfeld, Baker also doesn't settle for what you might call the next-level of Bush "revelations" ("Prescott Bush ran businesses for the Nazis," etc.). Instead, he covers a remarkable amount of ground across three generations, showing how the Bush family, and Poppy in particular, were and are central to political and business interests that have dominated the American state for half a century or more.

By coincidence, I was reading "Family of Secrets" more or less simultaneously with Stephen Kinzer's outstanding The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War. Although the Dulles name appears only passingly in "Family of Secrets" and the Bush name, from what I recall, not at all in "The Brothers," the two families have a lot in common. Each occupies that spot on the Venn diagram where big business interests, U.S. foreign policy, and the world of intelligence, espionage, and covert action converge. Almost a decade ago, in reviewing Tom Wicker's marginal George Herbert Walker Bush: A Penguin Life (Penguin Lives Biographies), I wrote "George H.W. Bush strikes me as an interesting historical figure whose legacy (like J.Q. Adams' or William Howard Taft's) will be seen as coming from someplace other than his years in the White House." I'm now convinced by Russ Baker that Poppy's primary legacy -- aside perhaps from his raft of children and grandchildren -- will be his integration of electoral politics and intelligence tradecraft -- an integration that affects, and to some degree explains, so much of the nature of the modern American state. In fact, many of Baker's most important discoveries concern Poppy's long and intimate connections with America's intelligence elite -- long predating his brief service as CIA director.

In that final chapter I mentioned above, Baker writes that he thought of titling this book "Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong." Not many people like books -- or the writers of books -- who threaten their certainties in that way. I encourage you to take the risk and give this book a close reading ... not only for what you'll discover about America's past, but even more critically, because of what it means for our future.

VERANDA The Art of Outdoor Living
VERANDA The Art of Outdoor Living
by Lisa Newsom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $41.96
59 used & new from $24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable homes, beautiful book, February 27, 2014
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Whatever it is I'm doing sitting out in my back yard during the spring or summer, it's clearly not the "art of outdoor living" as portrayed in this book. The many different homes and estates shown here include some truly remarkable examples of architecture, landscape-engineering, furnishing, and the blending of the three to take advantage of — or create — luxurious and welcoming surroundings. While not perhaps as immediately practical as some more downmarket homes might be (in the sense of "Hey, that's something I could do myself"), there is definitely a fair amount of inspiration here for the reader who seeks it. Or if you'd rather just look at beautiful pictures of built environments, this works for that, too.

Jack Black Epic Moisture MP 10 Nourishing Oil, 2 fl. oz.
Jack Black Epic Moisture MP 10 Nourishing Oil, 2 fl. oz.
Price: $32.00
15 used & new from $32.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Not a big "product" user, but I like this a lot, February 27, 2014
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I find it slightly hilarious that the box instructions for using this on hair say something like "apply from middle of strand to end." Given how short my hair is, application is kind of an all-or-nothing affair. I'm finding that about a quarter-pump, or even slightly less, is a great amount for keeping hair neat and under control without looking like I got into either my dad's Brylcreem or my son's "sculpting gel" (disclosure: Dad didn't use Brylcreem, and I don't have a son). I've also used this as a beard-treatment, and while my beard again might be too short to get the full "nourishing" benefit, it does at least smell nice.

And finally, I also use this as a moisturizer from time to time. Obviously — since it's an oil — it will leave a more "oily" feeling on the skin than the moisturizing lotions I currently use from Dove or Aveeno. When once again used sparingly, though, this oiliness is noticeable only to the touch, not to sight. And again, it does smell nice.

I don't use this on either hair or skin on a daily basis. More like a couple of times a week. So think even a two-ounce bottle will probably last me for some time. Given what a nice and versatile treat this has turned out to be — particularly for keeping hair under control when needed — that makes the price much more palatable than it would be if I was burning through this quickly.

No Title Available

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and useful, if not the best for your budget, February 20, 2014
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I love the "Internet of things" idea and having home products — particularly ones related to security — able to communicate with each other and with the homeowner. But to get the most out of such breakthroughs, you really need to have more than just the one Net-connected smoke detector, and that begins to cost money. That's the situation I'm in. I like this a lot, but I recognize that I'm not getting all I could out of its functionality and, given the cost of doing that, probably won't for some time, if ever.

Still, there is a lot to like about this, even as a standalone unit. Setup was a little fiddly — because I have a long and complex password on our home wireless network, I was getting timed out of my connection on the Nest app before I could finish entering it — but not vastly more so than other wired devices. I'll be very interested to see where Google takes Nest now, and whether this device really becomes part of a large home-automation setup, or just an expensive-but-functional ornament on my upstairs ceiling.

Coffee Shop Entrepreneurs - Wake Up And Smell The Location Independent Economy
Coffee Shop Entrepreneurs - Wake Up And Smell The Location Independent Economy
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The six pillars of location independence, January 8, 2014
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Amazon recommended "Coffee Shop Entrepreneurs" to me because I read (and loved) Remote: Office Not Required from Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. "Coffee Shop Entrepreneurs" occupies the same "location-independent" economy "Remote" does, but it's otherwise a very different book, and speaks largely to very different people. Remote, by and large, is for managers and employees within corporate structures. "Coffee Shop Entrepreneurs," on the other hand, is aimed at someone itching to set out on their own, and lead a fuller, more satisfying life (defined -- the only way such a thing CAN be defined -- by their own values and preferences). Though I fit the first profile more than the second, even readers like me can get something useful out of the six principles Richard Patey lays out here.

One of the things I like best about "Coffee Shop Entrepreneurs" (and one thing it does share with "Remote") is Patey's firm, indeed defiant, endorsement of escaping the traditional office as a primary value. "I regard achieving (and keeping) financial and location independence as the ultimate state of self actualisation and the most worthy win," he writes. That introduces one of the key ideas in this book, the idea of location independence as a "currency." Whereas the traditional mindset is to have a job to earn money, and then use that money to trade for values like travel or luxury, Patey cuts out the middleman, so to speak, and creates opportunities that will pay him in "a wider range of currencies including time, personal freedom, access to information and excitement."

I won't give away Patey's thunder by revealing all his principles. But I found them a satisfying combination of practical, do-able, and often counterintuitive (for instance, he urges readers NOT to "pursue their passions," but rather to pursue secure income streams -- note the plural -- first, and only then, once your location-independent finances are more secure, go after what you love). If I do have a criticism (aside from one or two areas where some more minor proofreading might have helped), it's the "power of positive thinking" / prosperity gospel / Joel Osteen-y tone he sometimes takes. For instance: "We manifest and attract what we want (people, experiences) by our frequencies which are a result of our thoughts and our feelings. The more positive feelings you have about yourself and what you want to achieve, the higher your vibration and the quicker you will achieve and experience what you want."

But that may be a personal preference. Notwithstanding, "Coffee Shop Entrepreneurs" is a worthwhile addition to the growing bookshelf (or Kindle download file) of books on location independence and remote working. Readers looking to set out on their own and live a vision of life that doesn't include cubicle walls could find Richard Patey's six principles worth thinking about.

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