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Andrew S. Rogers RSS Feed (Houston, Texas)

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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
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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
62 used & new from $4.50

3 of 3 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
62 used & new from $24.98

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
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.

An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard
An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard
by Justin Raimondo
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from $49.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The joyous libertarian (to borrow a phrase), January 6, 2014
I'm embarrassed to admit how long this book has been on my shelves without my having read it through systematically (answer: a long, long time). I've read parts of it before, usually in connection with reading some work of Rothbard's own, or to review author Justin Raimondo's précis of Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, which I have not yet read. But I chose this to kick off my 2014 reading, and having now finally been through this exciting text from cover to cover, I really wish I'd done it a decade ago.

One thing I was particularly struck by was Raimondo's skill at explaining the unique synthesis that made Murray N. Rothbard so distinctive. He was, on the one hand, a libertarian philosopher (indeed, *the* libertarian philosopher as far as the formation of modern libertarian thought is concerned). On the other, he was a libertarian activist, central to, or at least present at the creation of, so much of both big-L and small-l libertarianism as a political movement. Even though these two sides of Rothbard's life were not unknown to me, I had failed to realize how key Rothbard really was as both a thinker but especially as a do-er. This book set me straight ... and in an exceptionally readable fashion that anyone with an interest in Rothbard, libertarianism, the Ron Paul Revolution, or related topics will enjoy and get a lot out of.

On a more personal note, I was also surprised to discover how close Justin Raimondo himself stood to Rothbard at certain times of MNR's life -- a fact that gives the author particular insight to those periods, Rothbard's activities, and the battles he found himself engaged in. More than 20 years ago, I lived in California and had professional occasion to run into Justin every six months or so for two or three years. We'd chat when we had the chance, but I had no idea at the time what a resource I could have had in him, completing as I was then my evolution from Buckleyite conservative to Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist. Discovering all that made for a small personal bonus as I read this book.

Mentioning Buckley makes me think of one final thing about this book. The role of William F. Buckley and "National Review" in anathematizing Rothbard and Rothbardian libertarianism from the ranks of "respectable" Cold War conservatism ("conservatism of a sort," as Allard Lowenstein once described it) is well known, while Rothbard partisans are probably familiar with the reprehensible obituary Buckley wrote upon MNR's untimely passing, in which he rejoiced in "the end of [Rothbard's] influence on the conservative-libertarian movement." One area in which we in 2014 have an advantage over Raimondo in 2000 is that today we can see Rothbard's influence is greater than ever, whereas Buckley's legacy -- already fading before his own death as he seemed to recognize -- is now hard to detect. As I've asked in other reviews, who today reads Four Reforms: A Program for the Seventies or United Nations journal: A delegate's odyssey? Meanwhile, Man, Economy, and State, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, and The Case Against the Fed are still in print, enjoying healthy sales, shaping debates, and influencing minds young and old. Somehow I think Rothbard would get a chuckle out of that.

Making Money with Donor Newsletters
Making Money with Donor Newsletters
by Tom Ahern
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.46

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helping you do things that really matter, January 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Newsletters can be the misunderstood child of the fundraising world. Some organizations don't see a need for them at all, while those that do produce them sometimes see them as a way to "educate" the donor about how cool the nonprofit is, or simply to make staff announcements and run "big check" photos.

That's a shame -- or worse. Because when done well, a donor-centered newsletter is not only a powerful fundraising tool, but more fundamentally a great way to develop and maintain a strong, reciprocal relationship with your donors.

The fundamentals are not complex, but executing them can be tricky. Veteran fundraiser Tom Ahern shows you how it's done, and that makes this guide an essential read for nonprofit fundraisers and those who work with them on the agency side.

The cornerstone of Ahern's approach is "the Domain Formula," developed and road-tested at The Domain Group in Seattle starting in the 1990s. Domain vets Jeff Brooks (author of the equally essential The Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications), Bob Ball, and Jeff Schreifels -- all leaders of the creative and strategic team that perfected "the Domain Formula" -- make appearances in these pages, as do many other top fundraisers.

I was at Domain at the same time, so I can attest that what Ahern is giving us is the real thing. He combines Domain's work with other donor-centered newsletters and his own great insights and experiences to create an intensely practical, very readable, handbook. Readers will come away knowing not only what works and why, but how to harness the power of the donor-centered newsletter for their own organizations. Put it to work and let's make 2014 the year of great newsletters.

The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
by Margaret MacMillan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.13
58 used & new from $13.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The war that made the modern world, December 19, 2013
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Time spent studying the origins of World War One is almost never wasted. The 1914-1918 war created the geopolitical world we live in, no less after the fall of Soviet communism than before. As we approach the centennial of the assassination at Sarajevo that started it all, we're blessed with a wealth of great resources to aid that study. "The War that Ended Peace" has made its ways to many "Best of 2013" lists, and I would argue justifiably. Although it's been many years since I read Tuchman's celebrated (and by now somewhat inevitable) The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I, first assigned in high school, I think "The War that Ended Peace" at least equals Tuchman in readability and, obviously, surpasses her in the additional decades of work on the topic now available. This would be an excellent starting point for someone seeking an introduction to the topic.

Naturally, though, I can't let pass the opportunity to recommend further reading, since there's always more to be gained from a variety of perspectives. Sidney Bradshaw Fay's classic Origins of the World War is worth tracking down, while Massie's Dreadnought fleshes out MacMillan's discussion of the vital matter of the naval arms race. Not covered in "The War the Ended Peace," obviously, is America's entry into the war. Fleming's The Illusion Of Victory: America In World War I, Gamble's The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation, and the relevant chapters of The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories, edited by John V. Denson, help here. The war itself is covered well in Ferguson's The Pity Of War: Explaining World War I, while valuable social perspectives (with a UK focus) are added in To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 and The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public-School Ethos.

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