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Allen Smalling "Eclectic Reader," RSS Feed (Chicago, IL United States)

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Paris When It Sizzles
Paris When It Sizzles
DVD ~ William Holden
Offered by Maple Bar Movies
Price: $7.99
64 used & new from $1.10

3.0 out of 5 stars “Did you ever realize that FRANKENSTEIN and MY FAIR LADY are the same story?”, October 30, 2014
This review is from: Paris When It Sizzles (DVD)
Featherweight 1964 attempt to create a comedic “8-˝” by veteran screenwriter George Axelrod, based on a French novella. Paris-based screenwriter (William Holden) engages rapid typist (Audrey Hepburn) in hopes he can turn out a complete screenplay called “The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower” in two days. His imagination (which later spurs hers) prompts fantasy settings where the two of them play through a disjointed comedy-adventure-musical-thriller screenplay. Cliché elements abound, such as dancing in the street on Bastille Day, flight from a charming vampire, a chase sequence through a movie studio’s prop room, betrayal by a dimwitted boyfriend (Tony Curtis), and a conclusion at the Eiffel Tower. Ten years after SABRINA, the charm quotient of combining Holden and Hepburn doesn’t quite work, but if this movie doesn’t get beyond silly, at least it is inoffensive. Recommended only for those who want to see one or the other principal actors at work. Look fast for Noel Coward as a pushy movie-studio exec.

Amplified Bible Mass Market
Amplified Bible Mass Market
by Zondervan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.29
138 used & new from $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars You have to understand the Amplified Bible to "get it" --, October 30, 2014
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People often misjudge the Amplified Bible (AMP) for being a "bad translation" or "unnecessarily wordy" when nothing could be further from the truth. All modern bibles are translations of one kind or another; The Amplified Bible was translated with the understanding that a word in the original text may not be adequately translated with just one word of English. If one word or phrase is adequate, that's what the AMP will show -- if not, there will be more.

Here's an example of a passage that is virtually indistinguishable from other modern bibles:
Judges 12:6 Amplified Bible (AMP)
6 "They said to him, Then say Shibboleth; and he said, Sibboleth, for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and slew him at the fords of the Jordan. And there fell at that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites."

At the other extreme, note how much more elaborate the AMP Version is from this
NIV Version of Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-5:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth."

Amplified Version (AMP) Version of same:
3 "Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied, and [b]spiritually prosperous--[c]with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!
4 Blessed and enviably happy [with a [d]happiness produced by the experience of God's favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!
5 Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, [e]spiritually prosperous--[f]with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the meek (the mild, patient, long-suffering), for they shall inherit the earth!"

The AMP is not so much a reader's bible or one written with literary quality in mind, but consulting it will give any bible reader or scholar an insight that is often not to be found by consulting any other bibles. This is a modern paperback, modest in size and low in price. I definitely recommend it to people who would like to get a feel for the AMP without necessarily making it their primary bible.

The Fantasticks (Original 1960 Off-Off Broadway Cast)
The Fantasticks (Original 1960 Off-Off Broadway Cast)
Price: $4.99
55 used & new from $2.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Just as much an institution as a play, October 30, 2014
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Just scan the prior reviews and you will see an overwhelming percentage of raves regarding this perennial "little" musical about two hopeful young lovers and their respective fathers, who use reverse psychology to get and keep them together. Here are some other things you should know about THE FANTASTICKS if you don't already:

Its original Off-Broadway run lasted 42 years, from 1960-2002. This makes it the world's longest-running musical of any kind. Then it was revived in 2006, and still continues to play Off-Broadway.

Because it is small-scale, it has had numerous revivals around the world and is a favorite with amateur groups.

The original cast included Jerry (LAW AND ORDER) Ohrbach, and Kenneth (THE BOYS IN THE BAND) Nelson.

The composers, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, have given us I DO! I DO!, a musicalized version of THE RAINMAKER called 110 IN THE SHADE, and numerous other musical plays.

This Tom Jones is not the Welsh singer who sang "What's New, Pussycat?" and other pop hits.

"Rape" in this show means abduction, not carnal violation.

The most popular song from THE FANTASTICKS, of course, is "Try To Remember," but "Soon It's Gonna Rain" has achieved wide popularity, too.

At present, the CD of the original Off-Broadway cast album is amazingly cheap. So if you can't see it, HEAR it!

The Street Where I Live
The Street Where I Live
by Alan Jay Lerner
Edition: Hardcover
113 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Everyone who should be here is here", October 30, 2014
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I had high expectations when first I picked up THE STREET WHERE I LIVE, lyricist Alan Jay Lerner's autobiography of his peak creative years, when he and composer Frederick (Fritz) Loewe gave the world the musicals BRIGADOON, MY FAIR LADY and CAMELOT, and the movie musical GIGI (MGM, 1958). Those expectations were gloriously met. Like its author, THE STREET WHERE I LIVE is gloriously witty, chatty, compulsively readable and just a joy. Not all autobiographies and even fewer "as told to" life stories are entertaining; this one is pretty much the gold standard for what such a book should have. You will learn something about the creative process these two talents enjoyed, and even more about the backgrounds of these great shows' creations, as well as the other talents who aided in their creation. I strongly recommend this book to anyone curious about 20th-Century musical theater or that elusive concept, "American Songbook," to which Lerner and Loewe contributed so much.

Used copies of this book are not hard to find, leaving the reader funds to hear for him/herself what all the fuss was about:

Brigadoon (1947 Original Broadway Cast);
My Fair Lady;
Gigi (DVD);

The Best of Archy and Mehitabel (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)
The Best of Archy and Mehitabel (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)
by Don Marquis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.03
62 used & new from $3.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small, cute, and surprisingly affecting, October 29, 2014
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There are several Archy & Mehitabel books out there. This one isn't the largest or the cheapest but it is hardbound, and can honestly claim to be the cutest. Archy & Mehitabel go back to about 1920, when reporter Don Marquis invented the character and conceit of Archy, a poetic cockroach who stayed after hours in Marquis' newspaper office but could only communicate -- with difficulty -- by jumping up and down on the keys, banging his head for each painful character. Of course, upper case was out of the question. In the newspaper office, Archy's first and bestest friend was Mehitabel, a pussy cat -- or should we say alley cat, since Mehitabel's affairs are torrid and occasionally sordid. But wotthehell (to use a common Mehitabel expression), she has always been passionate in all her prior lives, going back to Cleopatra, though she is not all that well informed about the dynasties of Egypt (a failing Mehitabel attributes to the passing of thousands of years and possibly dozens of reincarnated lives). This book is an entryway into an era in which newspapermen (and they were still always men) were expected to be moody, literate, and even poetic. The whimsy, sharp good sense, bracing blank verse and poetic outcries (even if they are cat-calls) are well worth exploring, even by us moderns. THE BEST OF ARCHY AND MEHITABEL is a bit of Americana people are still enjoying today.

Excerpt from the poetry in this book, a complaint by none other than Mehitabel:

archy she said to me
the life of a female
artist is continually
hampered what in hell
have i done to deserve
all these kittens
i look back on my life
and it seems to be
just one damned kitten
after another

We Were Strangers
We Were Strangers
DVD ~ Jennifer Jones
Offered by The Squirrel with the Dragon Tattoo
Price: $33.50
32 used & new from $3.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Effective, though a bit constrained, October 29, 2014
This review is from: We Were Strangers (DVD)
WE WERE STRANGERS (1949) was Columbia's attempt to combine street fighting with love and politics. Story, set in 1933 Havana, concerns attempts of average citizens to overthrow brutal police-state government. Jennifer Jones and John Garfield, both on loan from other studios, are fine as budding revolutionaries, Jones especially so as mousy bank secretary who (spoiler) takes to the guns by movie's end. Occasional use of exterior day shots adds credibility, and ominous mood generally holds, but this 106-minute feature does not quite have the Warner Bros.-like tautness it ought to. Still, quite watchable. With Pedro Armendariz. Directed by John Huston, produced by "S.P. Eagle," a pun for "Sam Spiegel." The price of this DVD, horrendously high at this time, can be mitigated by buying the eight-movie Silver Screen Romances, 8 Movie Set (The Solid Gold Cadillac/We Were Strangers/Angels Over Broadway/Music in My Heart/The Marrying Kind/It Should Happen to You/Adam Had Four Sons/Down to Earth) for much less money.

Music in My Heart
Music in My Heart
DVD ~ Tony Martin
Offered by My_Treasure_Chest_
Price: $18.69
36 used & new from $3.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at Best, October 29, 2014
This review is from: Music in My Heart (DVD)
Gold-digging girl from the Lower East Side (Rita Hayworth), enroute to her rich fiance on a transatlantic liner, gets in a two-cab collision with a deported operetta star (Tony Martin) headed for the same ship. They miss the boat but find each other, and anyone the least bit familiar with Thirties-Forties Screwball Comedy will have guessed the outcome by now. MUSIC IN MY HEART has some merit, but overall it's a mediocre, 1940 musical given to Rita Hayworth by Columbia Pictures during her build-up phase. Despite some good star power (Hayworth, Tony Martin, Alan Mowbray and Andre Kostelanetz with orchestra), it's actually the bit players who come close to stealing the show, including George Tobias, Eric Blore and Edith Fellows as Rita's sympathetic kid sister. Hayworth's performance is uneven; not surprisingly she is better as a love interest than as the tough girl from Avenue A, the kind of part that Barbara Stanwyck would have done much better portraying.

There are enough songs here to qualify as a musical, but Hayworth does no singing and only a tiny bit of dancing, on a table-top. Other than the semi-classical pieces, expect to hear lyrics along the lines of "Must you be a Pagliacci / Crying only makes you splotchy." It is astonishing to me that this movie in DVD form costs several times more than the much, much better You Were Never Lovelier (Columbia, 1942), which cemented Hayworth's rep as a love goddess as well as offering stellar dancing alongside Fred Astaire. If you must have this 70-minute trifle, consider getting it as part of the Silver Screen Romances, 8 Movie Set (The Solid Gold Cadillac/We Were Strangers/Angels Over Broadway/Music in My Heart/The Marrying Kind/It Should Happen to You/Adam Had Four Sons/Down to Earth) collection.

Cuginos Chicken Noodle Knockout Soup 7.5 Oz
Cuginos Chicken Noodle Knockout Soup 7.5 Oz
Offered by Rocko's Emporium
Price: $10.60
5 used & new from $5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best quick-from-mix soup I've ever had, October 28, 2014
I guess it's because Cugino's is headquartered in a suburb of Chicago, but we've been getting ads on TV for this CHICKEN NOODLE KNOCKOUT SOUP and put this envelope on our shopping list. Preparation requires about half a pound of cooked chicken (we seared chicken tenders, then cut them up), seven cups of water, and the contents of this envelope. I agree with the prior reviewer who found a dearth of veggies in the envelope; our correction was to add about half a cup of leftover peas and carrots. (I thought the broad egg noodles were plentiful enough.) No seasonings were added, and the "stock" (because it is too thick and opaque to be called "broth") came out with a delicious homemade taste. In fact, I haven't tasted any chicken soup this good that didn't start with a carcass simmering in water. The soup was neither too bland, nor (rare with powdered mixes) too salty tasting. Considering that we paid less than a third of what is currently being charged for this envelope, plus less than two dollars' worth of chicken, plus an inexpensive add-in of vegetables, it came out cheap for about half a gallon of hearty soup to serve with sandwiches or biscuits. Previously my "go-to" for quick soups was the Mrs. Grass Chicken Noodle (with the golden "egg"), but I think Cugino's has won my heart. For fifteen minutes' cooking time and no twiddling with seasonings, it comes out real, hearty, and not too expensive.

Lawrence of Arabia (Single-Disc Edition)
Lawrence of Arabia (Single-Disc Edition)
DVD ~ Peter O'Toole
Price: $9.09
203 used & new from $0.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly an epic -- belongs in everyone's movie collection, October 28, 2014
Here's the cheapest way to get LAWRENCE OF ARABIA on disc, new -- this one-disc version. It does contain the 1988 remastering of the 1962 original but has no side material, just the movie. Even so, since the film and music provided before, during (Intermission) and after the showing run well over three and a half hours, it's quite a package. There is nothing wrong with stretching a viewing over two evenings at home. The color is flawless, as is the sound, and the screen as free from distortion as can be. The widescreen is so wide that even on HDTV sets, there will be significant letter-boxing.

The movie is "epic" from the get-go. Although technically a war picture, so much of it deals with the ordeal of crossing largely "uncrossable" deserts that much of the first half is a stark, man-versus-nature story with T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) trying to whip various tribes of Arabs into a fighting force. At the same time it is a matter of Lawrence's coming to terms with himself. The roughly one-third of the movie that follows Intermission is more of a war story, in which the celebrated Lawrence lets his grandiosity run on a bit too far, until he himself is disgusted by the carnage of war. In a sense, LAWRENCE is both a war movie and an anti-war movie, in much the same way that the story celebrates British military pomp and imperialism and condemns it, too, in the way it shows the complacency of the officer staff and their chauvinism and racism (in one celebrated scene, they don't even want to allow Lawrence's Arab companion into "their" bar for a glass of lemonade).

David Lean's epic is, mostly, like the man's name: lean, with vast spaces and taut acting. When desert vistas burst into urban scenes or close-ups of war, though, we feel the shock of scale, motion and color almost palpably. I should also say that the movie bosts a very strong cast in addition to newcomer O'Toole: Omar Sharif as friend Ali (who would be trusted to play the lead in Lean's DOCTOR ZHIVAGO three years later), Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, Claude Raines, Arthur Kennedy, and Jose Ferrer as a Turkish provincial Bey who arrests Lawrence and shows more interest in him than a 1962 movie could easily get across.

Surely at this price and accessibility, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA belongs in every film fan's home!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 29, 2014 9:15 AM PDT

Food: A Love Story
Food: A Love Story
by Jim Gaffigan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.60
72 used & new from $10.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Don't Have Cable Television, October 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Food: A Love Story (Hardcover)
I thought Jim Gaffigan's latest book, FOOD: A LOVE STORY, was often pretty funny, but bear in mind that I don't have cable and had not had the opportunity to hear the jokes before. On TIM HORTON'S: "I'm applying for dual citizenship." WHOLE FOODS: "Our local Whole Foods store even sells T-shirts that have KALE printed on them. I suppose this does help us identify people nobody wants to talk to." SNACKS: "There are Triscuits people, and then there are Wheat Thins people." Some observations: This kind of thing is much funnier when encountered for the first time. In a way, I have a home-court advantage because I never heard Jim Gaffigan speak these sentiments on television. I don't have cable TV, and all I get to hear him talk about are the service improvements from his own cable company. Another remark: Not all these observations are even THAT funny. He does a turn about how miffed he is when waiters introduce themselves by name. Hasn't this been done to death already, say, back to Robert Klein if not earlier?

This is a fairly generous book, over 300 pages, but the comedy is a little uneven and I'm pretty sure it doesn't improve upon repetition (something I learned from SEIN LANGUAGE over twenty years ago). If I had heard most of these squibs on cable TV beforehand, I might even be tempted to give FOOD: A LOVE STORY three stars. But, being generous, I'll go with four.

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