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Fantail Entertainment "Erik" RSS Feed (Santa Monica, CA USA)

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Plugable USB 2.0 10-Port High Speed Hub with 12.5W Power Adapter and Two Flip-Up Ports
Plugable USB 2.0 10-Port High Speed Hub with 12.5W Power Adapter and Two Flip-Up Ports
Offered by Plugable Technologies

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can never have enough USB ports, April 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This 10-port USB hub works beautifully. We use it to connect external hard drives, printers, media card readers and other USB peripherals to a MacBook Pro. I particularly appreciate the two swiveling ports that are perfect for USB flash drives. It does a fine job of powering hub-powered external USB hard disk, we've have several of them plugged in at the same time and then all spin up without any problems. We haven't been using them to charge our phones, tablets and other devices with rechargeable batteries so I can't speak to how well if would perform that function, but on all other counts this is a solid piece of hardware.

VELCRO Brand - ONE-WRAP Cable Management, Thin Self-Gripping Cable Ties: Reusable, Light Duty - 8" x 1/2" Ties, 100 Pack - Black
VELCRO Brand - ONE-WRAP Cable Management, Thin Self-Gripping Cable Ties: Reusable, Light Duty - 8" x 1/2" Ties, 100 Pack - Black
Price: $6.88
102 used & new from $1.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone wins with Velcro, April 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Say goodbye to brittle rubber bands and twist ties, Velcro is without question the way to go. When you deal with as much electronic equipment as I do, this helps keep all of your wires and cables neat and organized. At $7 for a 100-pk, for the average user it will take you a good while to get through the entire pack.

Ziotek ZT1212518 Power Strip Liberator Plus with Pass Through, 5-Pack
Ziotek ZT1212518 Power Strip Liberator Plus with Pass Through, 5-Pack
Offered by CablesOnline
Price: $35.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthwhile Investment, April 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Okay, so for almost $18 this 5-pack of power-strip liberators might just be a tad on the pricey side, but for the amount of aggravation it will save you trying to maximize use of the outlets on your power strips, it's well worth the investment.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Great, April 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Small and compact, good build quality, and works as advertised. At this price what more could you want? Love the fact that a battery comes included.

In the Cut
In the Cut
by Susanna Moore
Edition: Paperback
104 used & new from $0.01

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim and uncompromising storytelling., March 13, 2002
This review is from: In the Cut (Paperback)
A literary novella with underpinnings in the erotic fiction and murder-mystery genres, Susanna Moore's "In the Cut" attempts-in its brisk 180 pages-to be many things at once: an examination of class struggle and identity, a study of feminine obsession and desire, a meditation on the role of slang in street culture. In the end, however, "In the Cut" will probably be remembered most for its somewhat explicit depictions of sex and violence. Not that there's anything you'll find here that hasn't already been done before, in more garish detail and to higher extremes of depravity. But there is something mildly disconcerting in the way that Moore's strikingly elegant style of prose is put to the service of the story to such shocking effect. This isn't your typical work of hardcore erotica or splatterpunk. Rather, it is a quiet psychological exploration into the mind a white, middle-class, thirtysomething female making her way through a volatile cultural and emotional landscape.
Frannie, the story's protagonist, is a mild-mannered English teacher with a fascination in the regional colloquialisms of urban minority groups. Her research frequently takes her into the streets of New York City where, late one night in a bar, a stolen glimpse of an illicit sexual encounter sets off a series of events which may or may not connect her to the victim of a grisly murder. Soon she finds herself engaged in a passionate liaison with a rugged police detective who could be hiding a dark secret. The book is not structured as a conventional murder-mystery; for the most part Frannie has little interest in finding the killer and nor, it seems, do any of the other characters. The murder serves as more of a backdrop to Frannie's ever-increasingly complicated relationship with the detective. Likewise, although sexually graphic, the book is not a conventional work of erotica. Instead, the sex is used as a way of probing Frannie's inner psyche, revealing deep-seated needs and fixations, leaving the reader feeling more anxious than aroused.
The most problematic aspect of "In the Cut" is that Frannie is not a very sympathetic heroine. Though intelligent and articulate, she is abhorrently self-centered, a reckless risk-taker, and exceedingly stuck-up. It is not until the book's final thirty pages that we begin to feel much compassion for her, which means that the first five-sixths of the book will be, for some, rather frustrating to get through. I am assuming that this is quite intentional on Moore's part; the story's unsettling conclusion seems to reveal a kind of karmic logic that validates much of what leads up to that point. Many have found the book's morbid and gratuitous ending to be morally offensive, but it is ultimately Moore's refusal to supply the reader with an easy resolution that makes the story resonant and affecting.
What is particularly notable about "In the Cut" is the quality of its prose. Moore is a bold and assured writer, and fills the story's passages with style and edge. It is a smart, graceful and refined work of literary fiction that employs the conventions of popular pulp genres as a device for exploring deeper emotional terrain. A worthy read for those interested in gritty, uncompromising storytelling, but not recommended for the faint of heart.

Nobrow : The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture
Nobrow : The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture
by John Seabrook
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.71
152 used & new from $0.01

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Culture as Commodity., March 11, 2002
Where the discriminating tastes of highbrow and the mass-market commercialism of lowbrow incestuously feed off each other is the space that author John Seabrook describes as "Nobrow", in his book of the same title. Seabrook observes that "in Nobrow commercial culture is a source of status, rather than the thing the elite define themselves against." Where culture was once a hegemonic "town house" of High-Low distinctions, we have gradually shifted over time to a new paradigm where these separations have been all but eradicated (the very mosaic "megastore"). Thus, the artwork of Star Wars is a featured exhibit at the Minneapolis Museum of Art, Helmet Lang produces clothing modeled after the styles of The Gap and Old Navy and then sells them for four times the price, and Rosanne is invited to host an editorial meeting at The New Yorker.

One of Seabrook's more compelling observations in "Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, The Marketing of Culture" pertains to the origin of the word "culture" itself, which can be traced back to two European sources: "from the French word `civilisation', which means the process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development, and from the German word `Kultur', which describes any characteristic way of life." It is a fitting way of looking at how our own definition of "culture" has shifted from "the notion that high culture constituted some sort of superior reality, and that the people who made it were superior beings... to the more anthropological, Levi-Straussian sense of culture: the characteristic practices of any group." And, more often than not, these "characteristic practices" are a product of the cultural marketing machine, the almighty creator of the Buzz.
"Nobrow" demonstrates how we are shaped and molded by a select group of Tastemakers; those in the position of controlling the flow of both our financial and cultural capital. They are the Judy McGraths, the George Lucases and the David Geffens of our cultural landscape who manufacture taste rather than respond to it. But taste has also become dictated by the masses, and "cultural equities rise and fall in the stock market of popular opinion". It is why the decision-makers at MTV regularly turn to their twentysomething interns and assistants-their direct channel into the Buzz-for insight into the latest trends and then take those trends, repackage them, and feed them back to the mainstream in a perpetual cycle of codependence.
In the end, Seabrook appears to be perfectly content living in the Nobrow. He finds it completely logical that a fourteen-year-old wunderkind from Greenville, Texas is valued more for his ability to look and act like Kurt Cobain than for his musical talents. That "The Lion King", by becoming a hit Broadway musical, has now entered the ranks of high art. That to many, "Star Wars" is not just a film, but a lifestyle. Culture has transcended the boundaries of taste to become the ultimate market commodity, and John Seabrook is more than happy to be a consumer.

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
by Chris Ware
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.75
166 used & new from $4.98

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of graphic literature., March 10, 2002
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If ever there was a title in the comics medium that could attract the attention of the literary world, "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth" would be it. Indeed, this meticulously crafted tale of estranged fathers and sons spanning three generations has already won much acclaim from reviewers and readers alike who, until now, would typically have never even considered picking up a work of graphic literature. Originally running in serial form in the Chicago's weekly publication New City, "Jimmy Corrigan" took Ware seven years to create, though just by reading it you would never be able to tell. The artwork maintains a consistency throughout that suggests a vigorous discipline on Ware's part to create a cohesive and uniform story. Although it's true that Ware started the work as a free-form narrative experiment-never fully aware of where the story was headed from one "episode" to the next-eventually, as the tale began to take shape, he was able to rein in all the loose themes and motifs and successfully weave them together into a unified whole.
The story opens depicting the title character, Jimmy Corrigan, as a young child living with his mother and already showing signs of an unhealthily introverted personality. His father is noticeably absent from the picture. A one-night-stand his mother brings home becomes a pivotal figure in the development of Corrigan's inner psyche. Moving forward to the present, Corrigan-now a middle-aged man living out a miserable existence still indelibly attached to his mother-is abruptly contacted one day by a man claiming to be his long-lost father. Soon he finds himself on a plane bound for an awkward reunion with his progenitor, and what subsequently follows is a series of events that can only be described as Chekhovian in terms of emotional depth and scope.
Interwoven with this line of action is the tale of another member of the Corrigan clan, raised in an earlier era, with his own set of woeful circumstances also pertaining to his relationship with his father. Parallels both broad and intricate are drawn between the two storylines as Ware delicately shifts between past and the present, between the real and the imagined, between the melancholy and, well, the downright tragic. Shades of autobiography can be detected in the story's theme: Ware himself had never met his father until well into his adulthood, and when he did the results were less than joyous. Although the meeting did not occur until work on "Jimmy Corrigan" was well underway, the absence of a paternal figure throughout most of Ware's own life seems to inform the story in a deeply personal way.
One cannot discuss "Jimmy Corrigan" without mentioning its exquisite visual artistry. The book is simply stunning to look at. The story is primarily told through illustration-dialogue is sparse and largely informed by the image rather than vice versa-and is a masterful example of storytelling by way of composition and juxtaposition. Its muted color scheme (heavy on the earth tones, light on the pastels) and minimalist line-drawing artwork serves to convey the bleak, desolate state-of-mind of the title character. It's a case of style becoming substance as the aesthetics of its design are as integral to the story as its fractured narrative. Ware borrows heavily from turn-of-the-century newsprint art styles, which he obviously regards with great veneration. There is much in "Jimmy Corrigan" that demonstrates his penchant for the nostalgic; not only in the artwork but also in its storyline (the 1892 Chicago World's Fair is prominently featured as a backdrop for one of the story arcs). He frequently contrasts the old with the new, suggesting that there is a certain splendor and majesty to be found in the pop-cultural artifacts of yesteryear that has been replaced in modern times by a drab tackiness that pervades our artistic, commercial and architectural landscape.

The result of Ware's masterful combination of artwork, design and narrative is nothing short of astonishing. "Jimmy Corrigan" is a masterpiece of graphic literature; a quiet, absorbing tale that evokes the hopelessly sad, the desperately pathetic, and the heartbreakingly beautiful. It is a literary treasure that will hopefully find its way into the hands of those who have ever questioned the potential of the medium, and to those who want to be mesmerized by the talents of a wonderful storyteller.

Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush
Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush
by Frank Bruni
Edition: Hardcover
153 used & new from $0.01

53 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He may be a nice guy, but can he become a great President?, March 9, 2002
He refuses to travel anywhere without his cherished feather pillow. He has a habit of addressing individuals around him by affectionate pet names-even those he has only known for a short time. He enjoys drinking non-alcoholic beer, having given up the real thing over fifteen years ago. Once, he almost lost his temper at a reporter for accidentally eating his peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.
Observations and anecdotes such as these are the focus of New York Times reporter Frank Bruni's "Ambling into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush". Bruni was among a select group of journalists who had been permitted to accompany Bush on the 2000 presidential campaign trail. Wherever Bush traveled, whatever rallies and events he attended, Bruni and his colleagues were there, notepads and tape recorders at the ready. They rode with him on the campaign bus, flew with him on his chartered plane, and slept in hotel rooms close to his. Being in such close proximity to "Dubbya" over such an extended period of time gave Bruni a rare opportunity to study the man up-close, providing him with insight to the finer details of Bush's character that few outside of his family and campaign staff ever got to see. Thus, rather than offer an examination of Bush's campaign strategy or revisit the election scandal that will forever remain an unpleasant footnote in our nation's history, Bruni instead chose to make his work an exploration of "the personality behind the policies and the often offbeat character that flickered through the frippery and pomp."
"Ambling into History" is certainly less interested in the politics than in the politician. Bruni is particularly fascinated by the little quirks exhibited in Bush's behavior throughout the campaign, character traits that in Bruni's view simply beg interpretation. Hence, Bush's frequent bouts of homesickness while on the road equate to a longing for traditional and familiar values. His recovery from alcoholism and fondness for daily exercise makes him a model of personal discipline and self-improvement. His penchant for mid-afternoon naps and insistence on a certain amount of "personal time" each workday indicates an inherent understanding of the need to properly pace oneself to get through the long haul.
Not that Bruni's observations are always flattering. Indeed, the overall portrait Bruni paints of Bush resembles something of a cross between a frat boy prankster, an overly sensitive man-child and an uncultured yahoo. That is not to say that Bruni dislikes Bush. In fact, when compared to Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore-who Bruni portrays as "someone so intent on success that he would shift shapes and betray his principles to achieve it"-Bush comes out looking downright wholesome. It is quite apparent that Bruni has developed a certain affection and respect for Bush after spending over a year in his constant presence. He describes Bush as "fetchingly down-to-earth", someone who can often seem childishly playful but also serious and focused when the situation (such as Sept. 11) demands it. He describes a man with commendable family values, a solid display of integrity, and yes, even a strong sense of compassion. And if he isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, well, at least he gets points for trying.
Perhaps the most surprising revelation in the book, however, is Bruni's observation that Bush may not have been as zealous in his quest for the presidency as one might imagine. Bruni contrasts Al Gore's near-obsessive drive to win the election with Bush's at times almost "half-hearted" attitude about becoming president. Bruni furtively suggests that Bush's decision to run was not so much driven by political ambition but rather by a desire to gain approval from his parents (who, it is hinted at, had always thought of brother Jeb as the brainier, more motivated one out of the two) and restore a sense of pride to the family name-specifically referring to the elder Bush's defeat to Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election.
But the most important question of all is whether Bush has the makings of a great president, for as we currently enter into a protracted war against a new kind of adversary and our homeland security is under constant threat, we cannot accept anything less than greatness from our Executive-in-Chief. Bruni's answer is indecisive at best. He demonstrates that at times Bush can be a lot smarter than he appears but, more often than not, when the media suggests that he is doing a good job, it is merely a euphemistic way of saying he hasn't screwed up, that he has exceeded the expectations of his detractors. He may be competent, but is George W. Bush capable of leading our country in these uncertain times? Bruni is content to let history decide that. Meanwhile, the fate of our nation sits in the hands of a man who is decidedly decent and respectable but, ultimately, is still untested in his potential for true leadership.

Ain't It Cool?: Hollywood's Redheaded Stepchild Speaks Out
Ain't It Cool?: Hollywood's Redheaded Stepchild Speaks Out
by Harry Knowles
Edition: Hardcover
45 used & new from $0.01

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disingenuousness confessions of a Movie Geek., March 8, 2002
I have always found Knowles to be an intriguing personality. Here's a guy who, with little more than a home PC and a handful of industry contacts, is able to successfully maintain a website that attracts hundreds of thousands-if not millions-of viewers every week, with virtually no overhead costs. Companies routinely invest obscene sums of money trying to acquire that kind of viewership. For a while he was a hot item in the press, an overnight folk hero of sorts, heralded as an ordinary guy simply pursuing his passion and attracting the world's attention for it. Thus, I was looking forward to reading this book to find out what Knowles had to say about the intriguing turns his life has taken.
"Ain't it Cool?: Hollywood's Redheaded Stepchild Speaks Out" starts out promisingly enough. The opening chapter explores Knowles' turbulent formative years coming of age in a severely troubled family environment. Raised by hippie parents who peddled vintage movie memorabilia for a living, Knowles' adolescence was thrown into chaos when his mother without warning abandoned her brood to move back in with her own family in rural Texas. Knowles was soon forced to join her there, amidst the company of relatives that, as Knowles describes it, were "the closest I've personally come to consummate evil". His mother eventually succumbed to chronic alcoholism and passed away under tragic circumstances. By then Knowles, now in his late teens, had returned to Austin to live with his father, whom he lovingly describes as his "best friend". Over the next several years Knowles helped his father run his memorabilia business until, one fateful day, an accident he suffered working at a collectors' fair left him immobilized for six months. This was during the mid-90s, when the Internet was just starting to make its way into domestic households. With little previous experience in computers, Knowles was soon expertly scouring the newsgroups and chat rooms, offering his insight and opinions to an attentive audience of fellow film aficionados. He learned to use the Internet as a research tool, digging up rare tidbits of news, gossip and conjecture and repackaging them for newsgroup distribution. Eventually he started his own website dedicated to the pursuit of providing original, breaking news about films in every stage of development and production. And thus, Ain't It Cool News was born.
Up to this point Knowles' tale is heartfelt, honest, and moving. Quickly, however, the book lapses into a self-aggrandizing portrait of the Movie Geek as Internet Revolutionary. He spends 300-plus pages fervently justifying his existence, bragging incessantly about the influential role his website has served to the culture of film fandom and to the film industry itself. He liberally dispenses anecdotes of his experiences rubbing elbows with Hollywood royalty, having us believe that movie directors routinely call him up in the middle of the night asking for career advice. He paints himself as a steadfastly independent-minded, free-thinking "film advocate" whose loyalty cannot be bought, but can be earned by making a good film. The only problem with that latter point is that, if one were to do a little research, this assertion of journalistic integrity is put into serious question. Knowles himself touches briefly upon some of the more disparaging accusations in his book, such as the controversy surrounding his coverage of the "Godzilla" world premiere in Times Square, but he is more defensive than apologetic in tone about his alleged transgressions and never admits to any wrongdoing.
I was also troubled by two chapters in Knowles' book that aggressively attack fellow Internet reporter Matt Drudge, and National Research Group chairman Joseph Farrell, respectively. In the latter case, I can understand Knowles' disillusionment with the film industry's controversial audience test-screening process (which Farrell's company solely administers), but I fail to see how distributing Farrell's private phone number to the press and obsessively analyzing a list of movies that Farrell may or may not like-in an attempt to infer something about his character-is helpful to Knowles' cause. The chapter dealing with Matt Drudge just feels dirty and cheap, as well completely out of place in the book. It is not appropriate for Knowles' to tout his own "Jeffersonian, liberal-humanist agenda" in the form of a critique on Drudge's personal politics, and then try to disguise it as a discussion on journalistic ethics. That in itself seems, to me, unethical.
The final chapter of the book is a call-to-arms for Hollywood to make better pictures, and Knowles offers a number of (highly unrealistic) suggestions on how the industry can alter its existing business model to accommodate his appeal for qualitative change. While I couldn't agree more that Tinseltown has for the most part been putting out an abysmal product for years, I have to question Knowles' own conviction that "movies should be better". Recalling some of his film reviews I had come across in the past, I decided to go to his website and see just how bad he thinks the majority of today's studio-produced pictures are. "Armageddon", "Charlie's Angels", "Rush Hour 2" and "The Mummy Returns" all received glowing reviews. It seems to me like Knowles is perfectly content with the kind of product Hollywood is churning out these days, so it's mystifying that he would purport to want to see broad changes in the way studios make films. Or maybe he just wants to establish some kind of journalistic credibility by offering a pseudo-intellectual analysis on the state of the industry. In any case, there seems to be a bit of disingenuousness on Knowles' part, both pertaining to his questionable journalistic standards and to the apparent contradictory nature of his attitude about the kinds of films Hollywood should be making.
There is no question that Knowles is a knowledgeable and passionate movie enthusiast who has a lot to offer in the way of film appreciation and connoisseurship and, to that end, his website will always serve a purpose. It is perhaps advisable, then, that the next time he decides to write a book, that should be the sole focus of his efforts.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
by Scott McCloud
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.20
391 used & new from $6.47

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comics as an Art Form., March 3, 2002
Scott McCloud has been called the Marshall McLuhlan of comic books, which comes as no surprise since McCloud seeks to do for comics what "The Father of Modern Media" did for television. Strictly an exploration of the language of "sequential art" (a term coined by legendary writer/artist Will Eisner, McCloud's direct predecessor in the study of comics as an art form) rather than a history of the medium or how-to guide, "Understanding Comics" deconstructs the iconographic imagery of comic art and how, when married with the written word and arranged methodically on the page, creates a unique mode of expression rivaling any other art form in terms of its potential for effectively communicating narrative, emotions and ideas.
Social perception of the comics medium has been always been marred by the fact that most of us rarely encounter the medium outside of perusing the "funnies" or leafing through the pages of "X-Men" and "Archie" while waiting in line at the supermarket. In the eyes of the public, comics are little more than lowbrow cultural artifacts designed as disposable entertainment for kids and those who don't like to read anything that isn't accompanied by pictures. But one only has to turn to works like Art Spiegelman's "Maus" or Joe Sacco's "Palestine" to realize the literary, artistic and even journalistic possibilities that exist within the confluence of words and images that defines "sequential art".
"Understanding Comics" is not, however, about passing judgment on the merits of any particular style or genre. Rather, McCloud contends that the format is merely a canvas offering the artist unlimited freedom to express his or her distinct vision. Everything from the use of style, composition, shading, juxtaposition, color, panel arrangement and the ever-critical notion that what is omitted from the page is every bit as important as what is included (hence the book's subtitle, "The Invisible Art") is brought together to characterize an exhilarating art form that deserves further study, exploration and, most of all, appreciation.
Early on in the book it becomes apparent that McCloud exhibits a true passion for the subject, and wants his readers to share that love and enthusiasm with him. It's hard to resist the friendly, conversational tone McCloud employs to persuade us to join him in his inner circle of insight and understanding about a medium few ever think to explore. It is only appropriate that "Understanding Comics" is itself presented as a long-form comic book that effectively demonstrates what it preaches. Some of the techniques McCloud uses to (literally) illustrate his points are simply brilliant. He opens the second chapter of the book, "The Vocabulary of Comics", with a real zinger: a cerebral sucker punch of sorts that completely unravels our perceived relationship with the printed page.
To grasp the slippery correlation between the written word and the iconographic image, to understand the many ways that time can be represented by space on the page, to recognize the relationship between the real and the representational... these are the moments of pure joy that the reader can look forward to experiencing throughout the course of the book. In "Understanding Comics", McCloud has created the perfect primer on the subject of "Comics as an Art Form". It's an accessible, intelligent and entertaining work that will provide a wealth of insight to regular readers of comics as well as convince the uninitiated to take a closer look at this fascinating medium.

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