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Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
by Harper Lee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.07
260 used & new from $10.89

37 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Can Go Home Again..., July 14, 2015
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Fifty-five years ago Harper Lee stunned the literary world with a little gem of a first novel that was pure magic. In it, she introduced someone who would become the best-loved character in all of American fiction, a small-town Southern lawyer named Atticus Finch. Atticus was presented as a loving father, an able lawyer, and a figure of towering integrity, holding off a lynch mob to protect a young black man falsely accused of raping a white girl. After publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch was all but sanctified as a paragon of virtue. So it came as an almighty shock when it turned out that the literary hero has feet of clay after all and that Atticus Finch, of all people, was a flat-out racist.

Well, given the time and the place, how could he not have been? Atticus, like everybody else, is a product of his environment, and Maycomb County, Alabama adhered strictly to the mores of the Deep South. Black people must be kept in their place. There were thousands of white people all across the South who, like Atticus, treated individual blacks with kindness and courtesy but who were appalled at the idea of black children going to school with their own. Why sakes alive, they might end up marrying each other. Yes, Atticus was committed to justice in the legal sense, but he was never interested in raising the condition of black people where he lived. He sent his children to all-white schools and his devoted housekeeper, Calpurnia, had to enter the house by the back door, and he had no problem with any of it. But his daughter Scout, who was presented as a delightfully devilish little tomboy in TKAM, has expanded her horizons since living in New York City, and on her annual visits back home she has come to realize that segregation was unfair, unjust, and just plain wrong. Scout is Jean Louise now, 20 years older than she was when we first met her, and she feels totally out of place in the world she was born into and raised. She sees Atticus at a meeting of the local White Citizens Council where they are handing out tracts spewing racist garbage and she is literally sick at her stomach. This is the father she has loved unquestioningly since the day she was born and now she has seen another side of him that is totally alien and antipathetic. The big question in "Go Set a Watchman" is if she can still love and accept her father now that she sees him warts and all.

Jean Louise's hometown is going through a crisis set off by Brown vs. the Board of Education in which the Supreme Court decided school segregation was illegal, and it's brought out the worst side of people she thought she knew all her life. The white population of Maycomb County sees the end of their world as they knew it. They look at the black people whom they had always seen as being safely subordinate with fear and suspicion. Jean Louise goes to visit Calpurnia, now old and retired, and it suddenly occurs to her to wonder if Calpurnia had hated the Finches all along for belonging to the race that has oppressed black people for two centuries. Nothing makes sense to her any more.

Harper Lee's laconic and often humorous writing style is still evident in GSAW and the book flows along effortlessly; it's a short, easy read. There are some flashbacks to the first book; my favorite is a description of Scout, Jem and Dill playing Missionary in the Finch's back yard and Dill swipes one of his Aunt Rachel's best sheets, cuts two holes in it for eyes, drapes it over his head and solemnly proclaims he's the Holy Ghost. But Dill and Jem are missing from the present day; Dill was last known to be traveling through Italy and Jem, having inherited their mother's cardiac condition, dropped dead of a heart attack before his thirtieth birthday. Aunt Alexandra is still around, though, as stubborn and stiff-necked as always, and so is Jean Louise's Uncle Jack Finch, who finally helps her to understand that her father is not the paragon she thought he was nor the demon he seems to her now, but is simply a good, decent and yet flawed human being.

Lee wrote "Go Set a Watchman" in the third person, and perhaps this is one reason why it lacks the sheer wonder and magic that ran all through "To Kill a Mockingbird". GSAW was the first draft of TKAM and it's hard to say if it's a prequel or a sequel; certainly it's the latter in view of the time setting. Jean Louise has grown up to be a strong, forceful young woman, and as her Uncle Jack Finch observes, she is one of the very few color-blind people he has ever met. Jean Louise sees people as people, whatever their color. We wonder where she got it from. Wherever it came from, she is very much her own person, still growing, developing and changing, just like the home she left and is gradually finding her way back to.

Judy Lind
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2015 1:57 PM PDT

Scandal: Season 4
Scandal: Season 4
DVD ~ Kerry Washington
Price: $33.98
35 used & new from $25.35

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has success spoiled Shonda Rhimes?, July 13, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Scandal: Season 4 (DVD)
Let us bow down to the Queen of Thursday nights on network TV. Three smash hits in a row is nothing to sneeze at. Shonda Rhimes has hooked the TV viewing audience with "Grey's Anatomy", "Scandal" and most recently "How To Get Away With Murder" and she owns Thursday like no single producer has ever owned a single night before. And as the fourth season of "Scandal" progressed there were increasing signs that, alas, success is going to Shonda's head.

The season started off predictably enough with Olivia and Jake enjoying a blissful hiatus on an unnamed island in the middle of nowhere, hidden even from her psychotic dad Rowan, when they are unexpectedly tracked down by Quinn to let Olivia know that Harrison Wright has turned up dead. OPA has been disbanded; Quinn is off doing her thing, Huck is working in a computer store and is in a snit at feeling abandoned, and Abby is the White House press secretary and acting very bitchy at Olivia running off without telling anybody. The first half of the season proceeds satisfyingly enough, with OPA getting partially back together (Olivia, Quinn and Huck) solving various cases while Mellie is in a drunken stupor most of the time over the death of her son. But for some reason I am at a total loss to fathom, Shonda threw in four episodes dealing with Olivia being kidnapped and auctioned on the Dark Web at the instigation of Vice President Andrew Whats-His-Face (I can't even remember the guy's name), Fitz's old buddy who turns out to be boinking not only Mellie but also the head of the Republican National Committee, known as Lizzie Bear (the purpose behind the kidnapping was evidently to hold Olivia hostage while blackmailing Fitz into undoing some of his more moderate acts which cause his right-wing constituents to have spasms and heaves), and the season disintegrated into absolute chaos. Not even a couple of good episodes after Olivia is rescued by, of all people, her former OPA colleague Stephen who left to get married and have a normal life (of course that didn't work out but who expected it would, given what a womanizer he was?) could save the season at that point. I was almost glad when the season ended before it imploded out of sheer idiocy.

A lot of the problem is Shonda herself thinking she can do no wrong. This is her show and she is running it, and if her audience doesn't like the direction she is taking it in, too bad for them. But Shonda's arrogance is going to be her undoing if she doesn't rein it in. Her audience is what made her show so popular and when they tell her enough is enough, she needs to start listening. This was especially evident when Rowan and the whole B613 story line kept getting dragged into every other episode to the point of sheer exhaustion, never mind ennui. Shonda should have kicked B613 to the curb last season; that story line was already old and stale. But no, she had to keep dragging it along like a desiccated corpse as if anybody still cared about it, and Joe Morton, who I had always respected as an actor, became absolutely godawful, turning each speech into a Shakespearian rant and Wag.ging. His. Head. With. as if this is some new kind of method acting he invented all by himself. Whatever it is, it's a crashing bore to watch. It got to the point where I had to change the channel during his interminable rants. It was either that or throw a shoe at the screen. Another problem was Shonda threw so many WTF moments into this season that they became annoying. A few WTFs add interest to a series; too many is like a 10-course dinner that is 9 courses dessert. It's sensory overload and ultimately ends up being sensory deprivation. Never mind the WTFs, just tell the story.

A third problem is that Shonda seems to be letting her characters run away with her. We always knew Mellie was shallow and spiteful but this season she turned absolutely soulless, telling Fitz their son died to ensure his re-election and going along with a busload of people being killed to ensure her senatorial nomination. Cyrus is a straight-up demon, passively acquiescing to Olivia's kidnapping and hoping she will be killed because she knows too much about him. And Huck... I can't even. Shonda has turned Huck into a bloodthirsty ghoul whose favorite pastime is killing people. He's become an absolute monster. I don't even know if he's redeemable at this point. The only character who has become more interesting is Quinn, who went from being a whiny pest in the third season to going total badass in the fourth season. Nobody better mess with this girl because she is BAAAAD. She's a lot more fun now.

Shonda ended the season by doing a total unexpected re-set. Mellie and Cyrus finally went too far even for Fitz and both of them are sacked -- Cyrus from his job as Chief of Staff and Mellie as First Lady. (Fitz has put Lizzie Bear in Cyrus' place, an act of transcendental stupidity that is going to bite him in the butt before the fifth season is off the ground.) Jake has finally come to his senses and realized Olivia is never going to leave Fitz, and has walked away from the whole hopeless relationship. And Olivia has ensconced herself back into the White House and into Fitz's bed, and it's nice to see them back together while it lasts, which almost certainly won't be for more than an episode or two next season before they have a major fight and everything blows to smithereens. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So -- how to rate this season? I'll give the first half four stars, the kidnapping interlude a big fat zero, and the second half two stars (I'm being generous here) which rounds out to three. Let's hope Shonda gets the series back on track before it's too late.

Judy Lind

P.S. I'm editing this review to add a brief note: be sure to watch the extended version of episode 22, the season finale. There's some really good stuff in here that had to be omitted from the finale shown on TV due to time limitations.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2015 9:21 AM PDT

The Collected Poems: A Bilingual Edition (Revised)
The Collected Poems: A Bilingual Edition (Revised)
by Federico Garcia Lorca
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.62
80 used & new from $6.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for the original poems, three stars for the translations, May 2, 2015
Federico García Lorca was an astounding poet who left us with a prolific output of his genius before his life was tragically cut short in the Spanish Civil War. This book contains most of his poems, including the familiar Libro de Poemas, Poema del Cante Jondo, Romancero Gitano (my favorite of all his collections), Poeta en Nueva York, and the Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, as well as the less well known Seis Poemas Gallegos, Odas, Canciones, Suites, Tierra y Luna, and the Diván del Tamarit. Each poem is printed in Spanish on the left side of the book and English on the right so that if don't know Spanish that well you can easily follow the translation.

Those readers who are familiar with Spanish are especially fortunate in that they will be able to savor and appreciate García Lorca's brilliant artistry and his haunting, exquisite, shimmering imagery. Just a sample, from the Poema del Cante Jondo: Sobre el monte pelado, un calvario./ Agua clara, y olivos centenarios. / Por las callejas, hombres embozados,/ y en las torres, veletas girando. Eternamente girando./ Ay pueblo perdido, en la Andalucía del llanto! The words in Spanish almost sing. But the English translation, on the opposite page, is flat, pedestrian and tone-deaf. It's this that makes me give this book only four stars instead of the five stars García Lorca's poems deserve. With better translation, this edition of his work would be as irresistible to English readers as it is to Spanish readers. For those who can read García Lorca in his native language, this book is a treasure chest.

One minor cavil: this edition leaves out my favorite of all his poems, "Santiago", from the Libro de Poemas, written when he was only 20 years old. If you google "santiago federico garcia lorca poema", you can find the complete text.

Judy Lind

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix - Net Wt 34.08 oz(2lb 2.08 oz)(966g)
Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix - Net Wt 34.08 oz(2lb 2.08 oz)(966g)
Offered by Whyknot2011
Price: $13.50
27 used & new from $6.51

5.0 out of 5 stars Taste as good as the original -- no kidding!, February 17, 2015
Simplest thing in the world to make and absolutely scrumptious. Mix together one pack of biscuit mix, half a cup of freshly grated sharp cheddar, and 3/4 cup cold water, drop by heaping spoonfuls on a baking sheet (one pack makes nine or ten biscuits), bake for 14-15 minutes and you're good to go. The only problem is these things are like Lay's potato chips -- nobody can eat just one. I damn near ate the whole tray at one sitting, that's how good they taste.

P.S. Don't try a short cut and use packaged shredded cheddar -- freshly grated cheddar is an absolute must.
P.P.S. A friend of mine told me she adds red pepper flakes to the mix. I haven't tried that yet but it sounds delicious.

Judy Lind

Mary Poppins in the Park
Mary Poppins in the Park
by P. L. Travers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.67
89 used & new from $2.67

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mary Poppins warmed over, January 29, 2015
When Mary Poppins opened the door at the end of the third book in the delightful eponymous series, I remember being devastated as a little girl at the thought that, unlike the ending of the first two books, this time she was gone for good. So I was delighted beyond words when P. L. Travers penned the fourth book, "Mary Poppins in the Park". Hooray, she's back! Alas, no, she isn't. In a preface before the book actually begins, Travers pulled a monstrous cheat and said that the stories contained therein took place during Mary Poppins' first, second, and last sojourns with the Banks family and observes that, obviously, she can't keep leaving and reappearing indefinitely. Sooner or later, enough is enough.

I was left with the feeling that Travers penned this book because her fans were clamoring for Mary Poppins to come back, but her heart wasn't really in it. She should have followed her first instinct and let well enough alone. The ending of the third book was magical, literally and figuratively. This book seems more like a pale afterthought. She's not back, she's just been warmed over for another go-round. Fortunately she's still Travers' acerbic Mary Poppins, not the treacly mess Disney turned her into.

So ultimately, what does Mary Poppins stand for? She's not much of a role model; she's conceited, condescending and sometimes downright rude. She's a competent nanny and she seems to be fond of the children in her own way but she but doesn't appear to be emotionally attached to them at all. She has no problem leaving them without a backward glance, and we don't know her reasons for leaving or coming back, or why she finally left for good. In the end, maybe she just represents the fun and fantasy everybody needs in their lives every once in a while.

Judy Lind

Uranium Ore
Uranium Ore
Offered by Sold In Milwaukee
Price: $39.99
2 used & new from $39.95

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It will literally light up your life!, August 23, 2014
This review is from: Uranium Ore
A really great cosmetic product that will give your complexion a wonderful, luminous glow! Your skin will be radiant! You will actually glow in the dark!

DVD ~ Sandra Bullock
Price: $9.98
73 used & new from $3.99

16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bland and boring..., July 16, 2014
This review is from: Gravity (DVD)
How did this snoozefest ever get nominated for an academy award? "Gravity" has got to be the most over-rated and over-hyped film of the past decade. What the story amounts to essentially is two people floundering around in space. Two good actors give so-so performances, which was probably the most they could do with a banal script and a silly plot line. From start to finish the movie is a big crashing bore. It's the longest 90 minutes I ever spent in front of a screen.

Judy Lind

Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze (Melendy Quartet)
Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze (Melendy Quartet)
by Elizabeth Enright
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.24
72 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars All good things come to an end..., May 18, 2014
"Spiderweb for Two" is the last book in the series about the Melendy family and it's my least favorite of the four, simply because there are not enough Melendys in it. When the book opens, one year after the end of the third book, the three oldest children are off to boarding school and Randy and Oliver are facing a lonely, boring winter by themselves, until a mysterious letter written on blue paper arrives in the mail, containing the first clue to what will be a year-long treasure hunt. The clues are funny and entertaining, and the adventures Randy and Oliver get into, going from one clue to the next, are enjoyable. But we miss the presence of Mona, Rush and Mark except during the brief period they are home from school for the Christmas holidays, and the adults in the family, Father, Cuffy and Willie, aren't quite enough to take up the slack.

Compared to the first three book, "Spiderweb" is somewhat of a disappointment, and sort of an anti-climax. Why, I wondered, did the three oldest children have to be sent off to boarding school? Were there no good high schools in their vicinity? Or did Enright not know what to do with them now that they are no longer children but teenagers heading toward adulthood? Enright really seems quite reluctant to let some of her characters grow up. She's wonderful when she writes about children, but she seems uncomfortable when they turn into teenagers. She doesn't even mention Randy's age in the book, although we know Randy is four and half years older than Oliver, which means she's already thirteen. But Randy shows no interest in boys, movie stars, popular music, or any of the things thirteen year old girls normally obsess about. Mona comes home for vacation talking about "When I grow up I want to be..." come on! No young lady going on seventeen talks about "when I grow up", in their minds they're already grown up. Enright's young characters seem to be caught in a time warp, frozen in time as perpetual children.

One thing about "Spiderweb" that sets it apart from the first three books is the lack of a time frame. Enright wrote the first three during World War II and the war is at the center of the family's lives and is present in each book; the children are busy presenting a show and working after school to buy war bonds and going on scrap metal drives during the summer holiday. The first three books take place from the late winter and early spring of 1942, through the end of the summer of 1943. But although "Spiderweb" runs from October of 1944 to June of 1945, the war is never even referred to in the book. Even V-E Day in May of 1945 which would have been celebrated all over town, isn't mentioned. Perhaps this is because Enright wrote "Spiderweb" ten years after she wrote the third book and many of her readers hadn't been born during the war; but still, some mention of the events would have given the book a dimension that is present in the first three but lacking in this one.

When I turned the last page of "Spiderweb" after reading it as a child, I was devastated to realize that there would be no more Melendy books. But Enright had the right idea; the next year would have seen Randy herself going off to boarding school and Mona off to college, leaving Oliver rattling around the Four Story Mistake by his lonesome. A depressing prospect indeed. Enright knew where to end it.

Judy Lind
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2015 2:03 PM PDT

Epson Expression XP-410 Wireless Color All-in-One Inkjet Printer
Epson Expression XP-410 Wireless Color All-in-One Inkjet Printer
13 used & new from $44.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You get what you pay for... in this case, not a whole lot, February 20, 2014
I needed a printer with a small footprint that would not take up a lot of space on my desk. For a small printer, the Epson 410 is a fairly good buy. Here is what I like and don't like about it:

1) Space saver.
2) Very light and easy to move around.
3) Scanning could not be easier, especially with an iMac.
4) Print quality is good to excellent. Colors are sharp and vibrant.
5) Copy quality ditto.

1) Ink cartridges are tiny and this printer gobbles them up.
2) The printer won't print at all if even one cartridge is low on ink. Not empty, low.
3) Print heads and nozzles clog up frequently. Run a nozzle check before you use it.

In sum, it's an okay printer for light use. If you do frequent print jobs, get a heavy-duty printer.

Judy Lind

Samsung UN85S9 Framed 85-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV
Samsung UN85S9 Framed 85-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV
Price: $39,997.99
2 used & new from $39,995.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hold off for a bit...., January 31, 2014
You know what? I like it. I'm really tempted. But I think I'll hold off buying this until 2016, by which time the price will be down to $700 or $800 and I will have saved $32,000. That's a lotta loot, when you think about it.

Judy Lind

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