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Teach Yourself VISUALLY WordPress
Teach Yourself VISUALLY WordPress
by Janet Majure
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.47
90 used & new from $0.01

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Way to Learn WordPress, June 29, 2012
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Teach Yourself VISUALLY WordPress
A great book for those just on the beginning edge of the learning to use such a system. The best of its several features solves the problems I usually critique in such books; show vivid illustrations, screen shots (or a DVD) and use the same language consistently, do not change key words as you teach, because doing so makes it confusing for beginners.

It advances, very evenly in building confidence for those at the very basic steps of learning how to build a website, and walks them through intermediate steps, to more advanced knowledge levels.

When after years of matriculation in undergraduate school, graduate school and working my way up through the ranks from designer, to CEO of our firm, which contained an ad-agency, an architectural firm and an art gallery, if I learned anything it was that keeping explanations simple and consistently using easily recognized language, and heavily illustrated modules, a step at a time, you will best serve the most students.

To me the old adage of "if you hear it, write it, see it, draw it, say it, you will never forget it" is accurate. For the exceptional students, they will ask the questions they need in order to continue to accelerate their rapid learning system and this book answers the most basic questions with ease and find illustrations of each step along the way. Superstar learners with little to no background will whip through this book easily, laying a groundwork for their more rapid advancement to more sophisticated text.

I found that this book had none of the flaws of most how-to books, like those which begin to explain a sequence/thread and then launch into irrelevant wandering off on philosophies or some other unrelated subject, thus snapping the learning path/thread.

The logic of its sequential system of teaching those with minimal knowledge, all but guarantees that they will learn and learn well enough to progress to and through more complex systems and knowledge.

One of its prizes is that it plows through two-page lessons thus keeping systematic simplicity in modules for quicker learning. Making the complex remarkably simple as you are walked through step by step building confidence which is exactly what the beginner needs. The wonderful full-color screen shots are a step by step, near heaven-sent gift.
I give it 4.75 stars, which of course here is rounded off to 5 the five (5) star system. However, I would have added the remaining .25 stars I would have given it if it had a DVD.


Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
by Christopher Hayes
Edition: Hardcover
104 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost There, but Not Quite, June 11, 2012
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Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy

Mr. Hayes writing is easy to digest and is a rather quick read. In fact, if I were not interrupted by necessities, I would have finished it in one sitting. I have read a number of similar books over the years and while this one is less passionate than some others, it rumbles along almost as lazily as a sunny summer day at the beach in Vermont, despite a less than jubilant fini.

Hayes describes accurately the gap between the "elite" and the rest of society. He also lays out in simple terms the seeming impotence of the larger body of our people to articulate to a growing leadership blind and deaf to the needs of society. Up until about the 1980's middle class values and desires were close to those of most elected officials - no longer, nor do they seem to care. What seems missing among the elected class, the wealthiest people and those ever on the make, is the reality that many intellectuals, professionals, upper middle class as well as middle class desire that which, in essence is not all that far from what the lower classes desire most.

That being said, there is not perfect harmony across the board from class to class, yet there is a thing in common between most of the 90%. The views of success change as quickly as do friends on the way up or down the ladder of material success.

While to many over the last 40 years the adages of the philosophers of earlier generations, even of ancient generations, which seemed so naÔve', so quaint and filled with fantasy and science fictional ideas, now appear, in fact, quite accurate and prophetic.

In reality a Meritocracy, as the author and one other reviewer noted, "is designed to create inequality of outcome." It, if one looks back over the ages, is an ever-present danger that those who move upward in income and status, will, unless they have heroic morality, compassion and empathy, dessert the rest. This reality sends a block between each class and often splits the desires of many within each class. Those differences are exploited to divide and conquer, by the ten percent - one percent, to stave off unity among the 90 - 99%.

We have all noted that the sense of (often self-appointed) Royalty/elitism becomes the sour truth and that begets in some, a sense of hostility both up and down. The differential between the Compensation Packages of the CEO's of the post WW II era and today has gone from 25 times average employee Compensation Packages of the CEO's, to 250 - 500 times that gap by the 1980's to now up to 800 times same and if one throws in Golden parachutes and retirement packages, to more than 1,000 to 2,000 times Compensation Packages of average employee. However, though the details I displayed above are not highlighted in detail in the book, the essence is and the results are, as well.

Perhaps the most galling thing to the lower, middle and upper middle classes is that none of the benefits of the 10% or 1% apply to the 90%, or even some of the 99%. Moreover, neither does the law. As meritocratic elites, (the elected and Industrial elite classes) experience upward mobility, few of the benefits, laws, accountability, restraints and applications and responsibilities of those below them apply, at least in their minds and they make such things match their thoughts. Therefore the best interests of the others have little to no interest to them and the dangers of the depopulationists grows among those who feel excluded, and they are probably correct.

For many as well as for Hayes, Katrina was an expected eye opener. Some of us foresaw the cost of avarice and were on top of the market short selling ETF's in summer/fall of 2008 and again in February 2009. However, we got out and put even more wealth aside. What some of the 1%, or even the 10% do not see, nor is it mentioned prominently by Hayes, is that there are many within the 90% - 99% whose outlook on life is not materialistic and many who certainly could become more wealthy, choose not to do so, either out of a sense of rejection of avarice as immoral, or because they wish to enjoy the things in life they hold more dear. They are also not the least bit interested in the haunts, company of, or trappings of the 1%.

But what Hayes sees as the complacency of the elite, many of which we see as self-appointed, some see as a greater danger. We, some of the people, see that while we do not expect the same level of wealth after retirement as many with much higher incomes, our provisions for life after retirement, are vastly exceeded by the provisions of our elected officials and that is a thing that should not be, and that is greatly resented by both the 90% and even perhaps some of the 99%.

When it was widely displayed how the Katrina victims were alienated, marginalized and mistreated, we foresaw, that which started as an accidental horror quickly became the prophecy of a worse and planned attack by the elites upon our population at large, either as what we now see as a financial attack using unregulated gas/oil prices artificially high and Interest on savings artificially low (near zero) somewhere not to far down the road that paper money attack could widen to something even worse.

The "deep sense of alienation, anger and betrayal directed at elites who run the country..." In a nation of, "national mood of exhaustion, frustration and betrayal" which Hayes mentions, and this time with a passion missing in some other areas of the book, many see as not still going far enough.

To others, me included, the unemployment problem which neither of the last two presidents seem to be able to solve, places a spotlight more on what some of us view as intent, rather than incidental. For instance, the Bernanke near zero Interest paid on savings in American banks is crushing growth. There is $7.77 Trillions of savings in those banks, which with a 5% interest for savers as before the war would yield $385 billions into the market, boosting income, business expansion, buying, selling and jobs.

Applying to the 31 million lost jobs since 1980, almost 17 million of which were lost since 2008, the lack of interest in the problem and an applicable solution, again seems intentional, because both that solution or the Interest rates increase are fairly simple matters to figure out. The simplicity is reverting to post WW II when FDR laid heavy excise taxes on outsourced jobs and goods, in a successful attempt to create import selling prices that equal to or exceed those of similar goods made domestically, Those two ideas would surely solve the problem jobs problem and are right now the only possible way to increase jobs in America. However, Hayes misses those solutions and the elected officials never have mentioned either of them.

I place great weight upon the depressingly suspicious plans of war mongering and avoidance crew on Capital Hill. Our elected leader who ignores rather obvious solutions, which worked before and are working for other nations right now, seems to be inexplicable. There has been not even a murmur about the above solutions from Washington.

The most depressing news Hayes has for us is not meant to be so, but his dream of the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement getting together seem about as remote as the Tea party and Obama getting together. The differential between the Tea party and the Occupy Movement; appear to be as great as the differential between fascism and communism, or between an oligarchy and a Democracy. However, I suppose more distant differences have been resolved but seldom without violence.

Hayes is thinking and trying, but I do not see his ideas as bringing ideologies, which are mega galactic distances apart, together in this election cycle, or ion the near future beyond the upcoming elections.

I give The Twilight of the Elites 4 stars and hope Hayes is right, but I think it would take a New Passover to solve our problems in bringing the many mostly Self-appointed "elites" to realize that in both morality and intellect, they are exceed by many of the 90% who just have different values, and avarice does not rank high for some of them.


Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation
Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation
by Aili McConnon
Edition: Hardcover
87 used & new from $3.96

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The excellence of Road to Valor, June 4, 2012
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Road to Valor: A True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation

Authors Aili and Andres McConnon, began Gino Bartali's journey in a then poverty stricken area of Tuscany, where the evils of austerity continued to ravage their economy in rural place's just as they did here before FDR's election in 1932. Bartali was a skinny, adventures, lad, whose story reminds me in some ways much like that of the great Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez, and in both cases their father's initially refused to recognize their choice of a making a career as an athlete.

Gino Bartali worked hard at a number of menial jobs, saving every penny he could to buy a bicycle and seemingly against all odds for his size and scrawny physique, became a tremendously successful cyclist, breaking record after record in his quest to win both the Tour de France and the Italian classic races. By age 24, he became an international celebrity world by winning the Tour de France. The death of his younger brother in a biking accident did not defer Gino from going forward with his own career. It did bind him closer to the church, however.

I had heard about Gino Bartali as not only a great bicycle racer, but also a strong hero of Italian resistance from my grandfather when I was a boy. Now reading the book brought back fond memories of the growth America underwent after WW II.

More than that, a fellow I met at work when I was fresh out of college, who became a lifelong friend, was also a hero of the Italian underground. He was the celebrated artist/architectural Designer of sacred art, Angelo Gherardi. It was Gherardi who as a teenager, for fought for the Italian underground and was wounded in battle and had to be shipped to America because the Nazis were searching for him to assassinate him for his activities in battle against them. He had destroyed munitions factories; trains loaded with Nazi troops and made heroic attacks on Nazi encampments/ He was later decorated for bravery by both the Italian King who had been exiled by Mussolini, and the American general in charge of those operations.

The primary fame of Bartali was as an Italian cycling Superstar, the fellow who won the Tour de France twice, as well as breaking the record for the longest time span between those wins, ten years, from age 24, and again at age 34 after the war in 1948.

Throughout those ten years and many decades afterwards, he became a legend not only for his great athleticism, in an era in Italy where bicycle racers like Bartali were as hailed much like baseball stars Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio in America. Bartali's fame spread after the war, not only as a great athlete but also for his efforts in the Italian underground helping those trying to escape the Nazi's/Fascist, genocidal maniacs.

Coming off a serious illness, from which at that time there was no antibiotics (pneumonia) Bartali was going to take a pass on the Tour de France at age 24. He had lost weight and was very weak after a life threatening battle with pneumonia, but was literally bullied by Mussolini's Fascists to enter the race despite his weakness, Ted Williams, at risk of his life. He visited the cemetery where his younger brother was buried and prayed for guidance.

Bartali, decided to enter despite his condition for fear of harm coming to his family if he did not. A patriot to the core possessed something lacking in the Fascists, compassion and loyalty. More than that, he was a deeply religious Catholic, a man of great honor and honesty, who prayed regularly and headed the Catholic Action Group. With that faith and an abundance of courage, he became a secret figure of hope in the Italian underground as he participated in dangerous secret missions against the Nazi occupation troops in Italy. Bratali helped the Italian underground in many ways including using his racing winnings to support and hide a Jewish family from the Nazis. He was also busy obtaining and smuggling counterfeit identification documents by secreting them in his bicycle, as he whipped past Fascist/Nazi roadblocks using his easily recognizable celebrity as a national sports icon to loll the soldiers as he rode by on his bicycle during his various underground missions.

Bartali's heroic actions were set in Italy and France against a conspiring political bullying which threatened his life and honor and that of his family. His never wavering battles, after fighting back while still weak from Pneumonia and weakened and tired, under duress from Mussolini to go out and race even if the strain killed him, and then once he showed his strength after being browbeaten during his weakest moments, he scrambled back to victories which were aside from racing, to an outright undercover career to help those in need while at the same time punishing the aggressors, with his missions of Valor.

Three years after the war, in 1948, Bartali battled to reinstate his career, as Italy struggled to rise from the ashes of devastation caused by the war years.

That year, midway through the Tour de France, an assassination attempt in Rome created riots and street occupation by patriots, complicating the racing as well as the safety of all. During the big race, Bartali battled a huge snowstorm in the Alps over much of the more than the treacherous, 2100-mile distance of Tour de France. Never - the - less, at age 34 and a severe underdog he defied all odds to win the most difficult, one man endurance sport in the world.

Bartali's incredible victory inspiring thereby restoring the sense of pride which was muffled during the Nazi/Fascist conspiracy as his spirited, superhuman efforts lifted and unite his devastated and despairing nation, which never wanted to go to war with America to begin with.

The authors based on almost ten years of research in Israel, France and Italy, including interviews with Bartali's former teammates, family, and at least one Holocaust survivor, which Bartali saved Bartali saved, along with many others.

Road to Valor is the first English language based book written about Bartali and its depth of research and information surpasses many of the others written in Europe since his death.

An epic tale of courage, comeback, and redemption, it is the once untold story of one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.

I found this book to be most excellently written and detailed with immaculate research and style. Moreover, as a fourth generation Italian American I found within its pages a strong connection for me to the heritage of honor which my elders bestowed upon our family members and the seeds of that system which grew out of a way of seeing life and God, which allows no entrée' for the lure of greed and bigotry. I give it five Stars.


Kellogg's Sunshine Cheez-IT Mozzarella Cheese, 13.7-Ounce (Pack of 4)
Kellogg's Sunshine Cheez-IT Mozzarella Cheese, 13.7-Ounce (Pack of 4)

4.0 out of 5 stars Ouch!, May 18, 2012
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Kellogg's Sunshine Cheez-IT Mozzarella Cheese, 13.7-Ounce (Pack of 4)

I sent for Kellogg's Sunshine Cheez-IT Mozzarella Cheese through my Vine offerings for review from Amazon. However, since the ingredients were not visible, I was unaware that the product contained MSG (monosodium glutamate) to which my entire family, me included, is allergic. So, I asked my neighbor if any of his household was allergic or sensitive to MSG-monosodium glutamate and he said no. So, they became my test group for the CHEEZ-IT with Mozzarella. Three boys high school and college age and their father, they reported as follows:
21 year old: "Excellent Mozzarella flavoring. I liked it with ham added as a cracker snack."
19 Year old: "Wow! Pete thanks, we all liked it and like my older bro I too made cracker and ham sandwiches of it!"
12 year old: "it was good but a little too salty for me, so my brothers and dad ate most of it."
Dad: "It was good and I joined the boys only I added an Italian ham to it, the spicy Capicola and it was great."

There you have it, only one hitch, a suggestion to Kelloggs, RE: I read said that, more than 27% of people are sensitive to or allergic to MSG (monosodium glutamate), so any company or restaurant that uses it is automatically shutting off a sizable segment of their market.

I agree, why cut out ANY of your market just to use a cheap substitute for spices'? I give it 3.5 stars which rounds out to four stars above, I took off 1.5 stars for the MSG added because it limits the marketability of the product and because we could not eat it.


Frommer's Australia (Frommer's Color Complete)
Frommer's Australia (Frommer's Color Complete)
by Marc Llewellyn
Edition: Paperback
47 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Australia Travel Guide!, April 24, 2012
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Frommer's Australia (Frommer's Color Complete)
Because we are considering a trip to Australia we were about to buy a good guide, and there on my next Vine list was Frommer's Australia.

This is one of the most comprehensive, complete and interesting guides I have read in sometime. Everything you want to know is available on traveling through Australia: travel information from city to city, or into the Outback, warnings about traveling alone without proper supplies of water and food, and that cells may not have coverage deep in the country side, and warnings about not leaving the auto if you get stalled in the desert and more.

Also there are lists of restaurants in every town and city as well as reviews of many of them and details of menus the same is true of hotels and other such accommodations.

The book is hugely thick, detailed and jam-packed with information about every possible necessity, or even simply curiosity one could possible imagine. In addition it is cleverly designed for simplicity and ease of discovery of whatever it is you may be seeking, very well organized, utilizing writers who live in the various areas upon which it reports which turn out to be every place on that continent that might attract tourists.

There are many travel guides on the market and this one is one of the very best I have read, and quite possibly the best of the best.

I recommend it highly if you are planning a trip Down Under. Moreover, as of this view today, you can save a considerable discount off the list price of $26.99, though I cannot guarantee that discount will remain.
Give Frommer's Australia (Frommer's Color Complete) [Paperback] a try, I doubt that you will regret doing so.

Have a good trip!


Lefty: An American Odyssey
Lefty: An American Odyssey
by Lawrence Goldstone
Edition: Hardcover
75 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lefty Gomez: A Life; And Then Some..., April 19, 2012
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Lefty: An American Odyssey

THE BOOK:
This book by Lefty's daughter Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone is a winner filled with action of every sort and reads as rapidly as the main characters seem to run, drink, dance and carouse, but always in good taste.

It was well written, and succeeded in displaying to readers the cleverness and quick witted rapidly delivered one-liners which were a strong part Lefty's legacy. It delved into some sorry and scary adventures of Lefty's mother in which her life and that of her newly born are threatened by what appears to be a completely unreasonable, hate filled paternal relative.

The book focuses a bit less on ball games, and it lacks a list of records and statistics (Baseball Statistics of baseball, are a thing, I, like most boys, dearly love) and the field of play, seasons, than it does on Lefty's drive, his determination and his never ending capacity for work, work, and more hard work, and his legendary quick witted one-liners.

Most of the book centers on the privileged lifestyle of Lefty, his wife June (Dancer, actress, singer, mostly in musical comedies), and their pals, the Babe Ruth family, Lou Gehrig and his wife, Jolting Joe DiMaggio and wife Doti, as well as many others, in which, because of their giftedness, they suffered little of the debilitating horrors which faced most Americans during the Great Depression. Quite the contrary, they lived a life of the Illuminati and had a ball in so doing, and God Bless them for their joy rides, though their lives were, like most of ours, dappled with tragedies, losses, disappointments, painful deaths and illnesses, and the imperialist attitude of the greedy, team owners in an era where there was no union to support and protect the players. One thing was clear, what the players most needed back then, especially if they played for the Yankees under Ruppert, was an anti-quackery dental, appendix, tonsil, protection advocate. You will understand that comment when you have read the book, I would hate to out that bit of insane and unbelievable quackery, before you have had a chance to read it for yourself.

Lefty and his entourage seemed also driven to be the center of attention wherever they went, but which they probably could not help because of their celebrity and their rare, and exalted skills, and unlimited attention of crowds and other celebrities, upon which they seemed to thrive. Such non-stop travels would have worn down most people in no time, but they all seemed to be able to fire on twelve cylinders 24/7/365.

The book displays that Lefty had an incredibly absorbent mind, a fast intellect, and faster self- effacing mouth. Often his remarks were self-effacing and seemingly humble. A thing of merit, but which some felt delayed his Hall of fame induction for decades.

Frequent world wide exotic travels at the very top flight hotels were a mainstay of the of the Gomez's and the crowd, in their words, which they "ran with." Because of that life style, I was quite surprised that Lefty did not experience more affairs, since, though his wife tagged along on many of his trips, she had stage obligations of her own and there were long periods of separation because of their careers. Even more so, after baseball, he traveled day in and day out, alone, putting in superhuman efforts of non-stop work and international travel, seeming, around the clock. How the marriage survived that is beyond me.

MY TAKE BETWEEN THE LINES:
I was drawn to the book as much for what I found a dark secret, a mystery, as for what I did learn from the narrative of the surface events. Lefty's solitary love affair, which almost ended in divorce, not withstanding, he appeared to genuinely love June and Her with him. However, one gets the feeling that somewhere along the line, all of the triviality, all of the wise cracking, all of the attention seeking, gave this reader, as I read along, some concern over the depths of what was being covered up by all of the materialistic partying, in run, run, running about eating up time and space, without looking back. Later in Lefty's life, though we never find out exactly what was bugging him, the depression, which seemed to me evident by the constant seeking of center stage and high living, did appear to come back and bite him, and hard, before being packed away again.

Lefty had much in common with a few other people of a kind of prescient internal fortitude. Like FDR, General George S. Patton and some others, he knew exactly what he wanted to do from an early age, and then did so at the highest performance levels of his chosen field of endeavor. But to reach the point he knew he had to reach, it meant a moment to moment battle of wills with his father, whose actions, while not nearly as dangerous, or frightening, as those of his maternal grand mother's, were never the less, imposing and somewhat threatening, while pointing at education rather than baseball, as the correct path.

Like many well told tales which focus on rapidly unrolling surface events, one has to read between the lines, and wonder what it was that drove him so hard to succeed, so hard in fact, that his eagerness, his desire to be in the midst of the battle, to stay the course, even beyond common sense, shortened his baseball career considerably.

On the surface, it may seem that the level of family poverty in which he grew up had some impact upon his desire to succeed. However, a not so small incident, a horrific short study in the life of his mother and maternal grandmother, may have set the stage for a focus of a seeming genetic tick which ended in tragedy, thus drove his mother and father to abandon living with her in-laws shortly after her first pregnancy, which I will not spoil the story by detailing here. I became interested in why he and his genetic line of family reacted as they did to one another. But, on at least two more occasions, three people; Lefty's Maternal grandmother, his father Coyote and Lefty him-self, exhibited a stubborn, all or nothing at all, streaks, a sort of seeming, self-destructive bent, which indicated to me either genetics or learned behavioral patterns or a combination of both, though the genetic path, because of the severity of the patterns, seems more the culprit which led to his view of life, love and work. For me, the mystery went unsolved, but never the less, I enjoyed the fast ride through more than 80 years of the life of his family. If you like good times, baseball, show Biz from one of baseball's greatest eras you will like this book, though if you are like me you wonder what was beneath the surface of all of the jocularity and busy, busy, busy, work and play. One gets the feeling that much of the goofiness was a cover up, pushing his deeper feelings, ever deeper, so deep he did not face them until disaster hit and even then, we the readers, can only guess as to what really was motivating and frustrating Lefty Gomez. Did he have knowledge of what happened to his first sibling? Why did his own wife suffer an experience similar to one his own mother faced, so long ago and before his own birth? Was there an anxiety in his mother after her horrific experience in which she was almost a victim of, at the very least, Manslaughter? And was that anxiety and perhaps knowledge, later passed onto her son, or did he simply sense something long ago had frightened her and this during/through her pregnancy carrying Lefty, him as well?

I go 4 stars for Lefty!

PS: There was one quote attributed to Lefty the book did not mention, so for those who know a bit of baseball history, here is the comment by Jolting Joe and Lefty"
One day, in Joe DiMaggio's first few weeks in center field with the Yankees, he was playing a very shallow center field. A line drive went over his head which might have been a single had he played deep enough, instead was an extra base hit scoring a couple of runs.

Lefty called to him after the inning was over and asked him why he played so shallow, thus playing the single into a triple? Joe said, "I want to make the fans forget all about Tris Speaker" (The Hall Of fame Center fielder), to which Lefty shot back, "Well, if you keep playing that shallow you are more likely make them forget all about Lefty Gomez."


City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago
City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago
by Gary Krist
Edition: Hardcover
65 used & new from $1.88

5.0 out of 5 stars A City of Scoundrels Indeed!, March 23, 2012
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City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago

Beginning on rather riotous and perhaps scandalous series of New Year's Eve events in Chicago, there were omens of disaster in the works. After several months of relative calm, on July 21 1919, the people of the city got a whiff of what lie ahead over the period of next 12 days. Just prior to that date, the City of Chicago had already endured a killing bout with the Spanish Influenza, but now there came a blimp crash which saw bloodied bodies and flaming mechanical parts falling from the sky some of which went crashing through the skylight of a bank, thus initiating a devastating fire, and later though non-related to the crash and fire, a race riot, a labor dispute ending in a strike against the transit authority and a horrific kidnapping/murder of a six year old girl, apparently by a neighbor near the park in which she and friends were playing.

While none of these events was directly related to any of the others, all of them were blanketed by the Hollywood-like machine politics of the day. A key figure in that political machinery was the mayor, "Big Bill" Thompson, who had dreams of further political glory, in higher office.

The author's portrait of "Big Bill"- Mayor William Hale Thompson, on the surface much fits the character often portrayed on the big screen. However, in Krist's far deeper examination of the man's character and that of those who surrounded him as well as other key characters; Krist rockets his readers through a fantastic journey; a historical, political, corporate, and somewhat militaristic, miasma, of a journey.

The book opens with an unexpected, seeming dalliance into a technological flight wonderment; a Blimp called the Wingfoot Express. However, that seemingly lighthearted adventure was soon to become a horrific disaster. Krist appears to have used that opening flight as an icon of premonition for the frightening matters developing just below the sight lines of the average onlooker. The blimp crash in this book thus becomes symbolic of the next dozen or so days. Serious matters which were noticeable, but ignored, seem to suddenly spill out onto the streets.

As if the strong undercurrent of night clubs, scruffy taverns, gambling, grime and crime, were not enough, added to burgeoning of segregated black neighborhoods, which grew exponentially more and more echoing ghettos, when each time a black was lynched or the victim of a hate crime in the South, the result was thousands of black workers and their families migrating/escaping to the welcoming northern cities, crowding in, looking for work and happy to have exited the bigoted hatred shown them elsewhere. The growing and major events, which followed the weeks beginning on the 21st, proved to be a battle between the entirety of the City/State political, racial, business, labor, an imbroglio of major proportions.

This lower class struggles, contrasting against the wealth of the Board of Trade Building owners and patrons, as well The Merchandise Mart and its clients represented a huge wealth of some of the city's highest rollers, was rapidly cascading into a class confrontation only slightly reminiscent of the film "The Last Hurrah", but far more violent.

It seemed that the wealthy, sophisticated Lake Forest crowd and budding industrialism were heading for a moral and perhaps literal conflagration of class warfare, of greed and racism, labor and management, evil versus fair play. The mayor, a wealthy, but more popular homespun sort, rode a collision course with the upper crust Governor. The mayor seemed to identify more with the city's tough, lower to lower-middle class and larger voting population than with the wealthier class. I could go on, but if I do I might compromise the ending.

I am happy that I had the opportunity to read City of Scoundrels by Gary Krist and there are several reasons why. The first being that, he joins the ranks of some of the most articulate writers and his prose are fired out with a such a fantastic rapidity and clarity, that it reads more like fiction than history. His sentences though frequently long, are packed with rocket-like speed and yet without loosing the attentive reader's, concentration and capacity to keep the chain of thought alive tying the beginning and end of such sentences with the proper conclusion. This is an extremely well written book by an author of extraordinary skill with a pen. I see this book as a possible movie or Cable special.


How to Make a Painting
How to Make a Painting
by Irving Shapiro
Edition: Hardcover
65 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watercolor Genius: Irv Shapiro, the Best Ever, February 18, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: How to Make a Painting (Hardcover)
I studied with Irv Shapiro twice. The first time was in my college days where I attended his marker rendering classes, in the years between undergraduate school and graduate school in which I spent three years at The American Academy of Art in Chicago studying figure and anatomy. Some years later later Irv hired me to teach some classes. At that time he he was president of the Academy but still taught, so I studied Watercolor with him the following summer. He was the best watercolor artist I ever saw, and a very bright, articulate fellow. Years later a friend of mine and I tried to buy the American Academy and rehire Irv who had retired to paint, but we were unable to do so.

The book is excellent and I recognized some of the students I knew which were pictured in photos of classes being taught by Irv. Irv shows step by step how to create fine paintings, with clarity and precision. His style soon inspired a great many students and professionals, some of which became very good professional watercolorists. The inspiration I picked up from him allowed me to become an illustrator and painter. Taking his watercolor classes even improved the way in which I handled hard and soft edges with oil's and acrylic's. I also learned more about the 300# and 450# 100% rag watercolor papers.

As for the purchase I had a copy of the paperback version and ordered both a new and used hardcover for old time's sake. I purchased all three through Amazon which was the only place I could find them.

I was inducted into the American Academy Hall of fame a year or two ago and I really miss those days when I was a student studying life drawing and anatomy with Sala, VandenBrock, Mosby and Shapiro for that all too short three year period. Now as a professional painter, even though the vast majority of my work is oil and mixed media, the thing many buyers and galleries are attracted to are my watercolors, and I am proud that they often say, "Your work is unique and yet in some places there is a hint of Irv Shapiro. Did you ever study with him." My answer is always a proud, "Yes, I sure did and he was one of the best art professors I ever had, and those who studied and or worked with him surely miss him and his great paintings."


VMware Fusion 4 [Old Version]
VMware Fusion 4 [Old Version]
9 used & new from $11.90

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VMware Fusion 4 A Great Idea!, February 16, 2012
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VMware Fusion 4
Category: Operating Systems

Years ago we kept at least one PC at my studio, now, however, we have switched to all Macs. We have tried to use a Windows soft ware without success in the past, but a few months ago we replaced one of our old iMacs with a new iMac with Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3 system and I set about looking for a software program that would allow a simultaneous use of Windows and Apple systems. The newer Macs come with BootCamp but you have to reboot each time you wish to go from Windows to Apple systems or visa versa.

We sorted through Parallel and VMware Fusion 4 and I finally decided on the latter. One morning I booted up my iMac and was about to go order fusion when my monthly Amazon Vine offerings email came and I was surprised to see that VMware Fusion 4 was among them so I ordered it. I had to get past several deadlines to galleries before I could install VMware Fusion 4 and a few weeks later I opened the package and noted that a DVD and a USB key were included for easy installation.

Shortly I learned the system and found that switching back and forth from Mac to Windows applications without rebooting was a very simple matter, allowing side-by-side use of both systems on screen at the same time.

This version of VMware Fusion 4 includes more than 90 new features including a solid integration into OS X Lion. VMware Fusion 4 supports more than 200 operating systems including virtualization of OS X Lion along with a new Learning Center, a redesigned user interface as well as 3D graphics performance which is about 2.5x faster than the previous system. The new VMware Fusion Learning Center contains step-by-step video tutorials which explain how to get started, how to switch from a PC to a Mac and how to install a new copy of Windows.

VMware Fusion 4 also includes 18-months of free email support and a 12-month complimentary subscription to McAfee VirusScan Plus to protect Windows from viruses.

VMware Fusion 4 is compatible with any 64-bit capable Intel based Mac running 10.6.7 Snow Leopard or 10.7 Lion. (Compatible with Core 2 Duo, Xeon, i3, i5, i7 processors)

So far it has worked well and I like having both systems up side by side so I can jump back and fourth as I need, but I especially like it when I am trading to be up and ready so I can check movement every now and then without having to reboot.


Magic Town [VHS]
Magic Town [VHS]
VHS
Offered by Cravecomo
Price: $15.98
26 used & new from $5.58

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's Magic in Magic Town, December 8, 2011
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This review is from: Magic Town [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Magic Town [VHS]

Magic Town is a typical post war feel-good movie. Jimmy Stewart is a former basketball star, now a public opinion expert seeking the holy grail of demographic perfection. Long before computers and the Internet, Stewart is convinced that somewhere out there is a small town or city which mimics, with almost pinpoint accuracy, the demographics (and in this case voting preferences) of the USA.

Then perchance he stumbles upon just such a cool place, Grandview (a name which fits the view of Stewart's goal perfectly). He needs to keep the reasons for opening offices in Grandview secret or everyone in his field would be down there reaping the benefits of his discovery, so he and his partner pretend at being insurance men so the secret of his discovery is hidden until the next election is over and which results he believes, Grandview will show perfectly in advance,

True to Romantic Comedies of the era, things rapidly go amiss, and become highly complicated beginning by Stewart flipping-out over co-star Jane Wyman's character, a newspaper editor with a nose for news, which is catching scent of a scam, Re: since there are several already successful and popular insurance companies in a town with a rather small population, why would New Yorkers come down to Grandview to sell insurance?

Before Stewart's character, can get much done, he finds himself falling in love with Wyman's character. Problem is, he has lied to her and everyone else in town, and in his lust for gold, his strategy has enabled him to shoot himself in the foot. Meanwhile Wyman easily, but uncomfortably senses, something is not right.

In the course of his business, Stewart's hoop shooting, basket ball coaching, genius, makes him the idol of the local Basketball team, but his sham has benched him in Wyman's eyes. As expected, his minor cover-up, as cover ups are prone to doing, is in danger of jettisoning, his romance with Wyman and losing his demographic gold mine. While he is struggling to decide which is most important, Wyman's further research is dangerously close to outing him with an OpEd piece, but will she do it and permanently wreck the romance?

Though the plot's strategy and tactics are already a bit unlikely, the expected complications pile up in a needlessly growing mess. How will it end? Will Wyman out him and then dump him? Will he move back to the Big Apple? Or will Cupid set everything right?

The thing about it, especially if you had already landed on planet Earth before, during or right after WW II when America was still a naÔve' and friendly place, is that the movie will bring back found memories of a simpler time, a heaven compared to the present disasters at every turn and the nostalgia will clear up your woes, at least for a while. If, however, you are younger than the Baby-boomers, and your knowledge of history is better than average, you will still probably love this black and white post-bellum oldie movie anyway.

I give it five stars for loving nostalgia; three for plot development, and four for cast/direction, an overall rating of 4 stars. This is a good, not great, romantic comedy well directed by William Wellman, which reminded me of my grade school era and the town in which I grew up. Hope you like it too.


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