Amazon Vehicles Buy 2 kids' books and save Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Health, Household and Grocery Back to School Totes Summer-Event-Garden Amazon Cash Back Offer TheKicks TheKicks TheKicks  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis Celine Dion Water Sports STEM
Profile for A fellow with a keyboard > Reviews

Browse

A fellow with a ...'s Profile

Customer Reviews: 219
Top Reviewer Ranking: 10,176
Helpful Votes: 3759


Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
A fellow with a keyboard RSS Feed (Durham, NC)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Pure Heroine
Pure Heroine
Price: $9.69
155 used & new from $0.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What is Lorde trying to do with our attention?, September 10, 2015
This review is from: Pure Heroine (Audio CD)
Lorde and her music have fascinated me for months. There is a certain quality to her music and persona that is compellingly mysterious. She first piqued my interest when I learned that she was mocking Bieber and his kin, then caught my ears with her song “Buzzcut Season” (this soulful sound is coming from an 18-y-o?!), and then once I saw her ecstatic dancing in the video for “Yellow Flicker Beat“ my attention was now fully rapt. Who is this person and what is she trying to do with our attention???

Before I start proffering opinions, it’s important that we lay some facts on the table:

-- Lorde is 18. There is some skepticism about her age because she does not seem that young, but what’s undeniable is that she was in high school until last year.
-- Lorde is outspoken about popular music and societal values more generally. I’ve already mentioned the Bieber criticism. She also did a unique/cool thing of posting a photo of one of her magazine glam shots next to an un-photoshopped version of her un-made-up face (with less-than-pristine skin), presumably to say something about the unfair expectations for beauty we impose on [young] women via celebrities.
-- Lorde’s music is largely written by *her* (in collaboration with Joel Little), which is noteworthy because nearly every other popular musician outsources their songwriting to dance-pop factories.
-- Lorde’s lyrics mention almost none of the things typical of popular music: I don’t remember hearing the word “boy” in any of her songs, and she rarely even sings about love. Even “dancing” only comes up in the context of “alone.”

Those are the things we can agree upon. It’s now going to get messier as we dive into the question that haunts me.

What exactly is Lorde trying to do with our attention? I don’t know. I can’t tell. Someone please explain it to me. All I can do is eliminate possibilities.

She is clearly not just trying to earn the entertainment dollar like other popular musicians, because otherwise she would have outsourced her songwriting to the dance-pop factories. Neither does she seem to be trying to break any musical ground. Although she is critical of Bieber et al., and although her lyrics are very atypical of popular music, her sound is very much consistent with the electronic/hip-hoppy/soul-singing feel that predominates today. She doesn’t even seem to be trying to shake or inspire us. Her music is pleasant and enjoyable but doesn’t seem to aim for moving or provoking us. She doesn’t even seem to be trying to say anything in particular. If there is a message or core belief that runs through her songs, I haven’t found it.

It’s clear that Lorde has seen the vapidness of popular music and popular culture more generally, and has shown the courage to criticize it and to forge a different path. But until someone convinces me otherwise, I’m going to assume that Lorde doesn’t currently know what path she is trying to forge. She knows she wants to divert from the Bieber path, but she doesn’t seem to know in what direction she wants to head. It seems that she’s just going with the flow, making music because she likes music and she’s good at it and because why not? Which is perfectly acceptable for an 18-y-o. We can’t reasonably expect an 18-y-o to have figured out her core values/beliefs and to know what to do with the giant responsibility that has been thrust upon her via her popularity as a young person. But then again, we can’t reasonably expect an 18-y-o to be as independent-minded or as soulful-sounding as Lorde, either. ("I am only as young as the minute is full of it.")

The bottom line is that I believe Lorde is awesome and awesomely talented, and I love that she is independent enough (at 18!) to mock Bieber et al. and to write highly atypical song lyrics, but her directionlessness distresses me. It distresses me because I believe that if she had a direction (an anchor, a purpose, a core set of beliefs/values), she could have Madonna-level influence to drag us as a society away from Bieber values. But she can't drag us anywhere unless/until she knows where she's headed.

We need you to save us from Bieber values, Lorde. Please find a direction. We are counting on you.


How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
by Scott Adams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.70
78 used & new from $11.63

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars “Optimize Your Probability!,” Scott Adams tells us, September 5, 2015
Scott Adams is brilliant and entertaining and persuasive and successful, and I believe he had generous intentions with this book. He wanted to “give back” by sharing brilliant advice about how to hack your life to be successful like him and thereby live a better life. I am not being facetious when I call Scott Adams or his advice brilliant. He truly has a top-percentile IQ, and a lot of his advice truly is brilliant (see, e.g., systems vs. goals). So why the 2-star review?

This book assumes that success (or "winning big") is basically the same as a well-lived life, or at least that the two are highly correlated. It sounds like Scott's fundamental approach to life is to maximize his probability of, e.g., syndication, movie contracts, high-charting books, highly profitable start-ups. Life Philosophy = Optimize Success!, where success seems roughly to mean money, fame, and influence. And this book is his way of saying, “Look people, I can show you how to live a better life by increasing your probability!”

To be fair, in one chapter, Scott writes about his belief that the meaning of life is to be useful. Being useful is the only thing that has given him real satisfaction, he says, which is why being useful is his primary motivation for writing this book. But based on all the other chapters, it appears that "being useful" to him only means helping people to optimize their probability of money, fame, influence, etc.

It's our default human tendency to want to "win big" and make a name for ourselves and earn loads of money/influence/power, and to desperately hope that others will respect, desire, and like us. We all know the dangers of these types of desires, of being too ambitious, too competitive, too attached to worldly goods and external validation: it has been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables. It is the skeleton of every great story. And yet Scott Adams seems to assume that such default human desires are not only not dangerous, but actually fundamental to a good life, the motivating principles behind which we ought to organize our lives. Optimize your probability!, Scott Adams keeps telling us.

If you are looking for career advice from a very clever person, then I moderately endorse this book so long as you keep in mind that "clever" is not the same as "wise" and that "winning big" is not the same as "living well." If you’d prefer guidance on how to assimilate your desires for external success into a larger life (and what exactly a "larger life" looks like), then I would strongly suggest that you give the ancient philosophers a try (Plato, Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius, Epicurus, Epictetus, Seneca, and/or Marcus Aurelius) or start with an excellent primer called “Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations: Ancient Philosophy for Modern Problems.”

(P.S. - There are better things to life than optimizing probabilities.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2015 5:33 AM PDT


Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations: Ancient Philosophy for Modern Problems
Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations: Ancient Philosophy for Modern Problems
by Jules Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.02
79 used & new from $4.25

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 4 tests of a good book, March 20, 2015
1. Did it excite you intellectually? Did it give you a buzz in the brain?
2. Did it move you emotionally? Did you feel a mild exhilaration or a tumult in the soul?
3. Did it inspire you to pick up 3+ related or similar books or otherwise learn more?
4. Did you find yourself thinking about it or otherwise influenced by it 3+ months after you finished reading it?

For this book, my answers are yes, sort of, yes, and most definitely.

This is, without doubt and without exaggeration, one of the most important books I have read. (I read 4-7 books per month.) I picked up the book not because I had any particular interest in ancient philosophy but rather because I came to admire and respect the author’s writing through his blog (which, by the way, I recommend as highly as the book). Rare and precious are writers who are both thoughtful and eloquent, and even rarer and more precious are thoughtful and eloquent writers who write about the big questions. Questions like, “what should I be doing with myself and why?” or “how should I understand and orient toward things like pleasure, friendship, nature, death, and politics?”

I loved that the author did not try to prescribe one answer but rather outlined several prominent philosophies and the merits and limitations of each, thus freeing us readers to construct and strengthen our own worldviews by drawing connections and addressing holes or weaknesses.

As illustrated by the stories of modern people using ancient philosophy in dire circumstances, there are real and substantial benefits to practicing philosophy. And to “practice” philosophy means much more than thinking abstractly about truth and altruism and free will and AI and other such hooey. (That is unfortunately what academic philosophy has become, but it is not what it meant to the ancients.) To practice philosophy means, firstly, to decide what it means to live well and why. Then it will often involve using “spiritual exercises” (e.g., meditation or journaling) to get to know yourself, change yourself, become wiser, and to endure, flourish, and resist.

I can’t promise that this book will be nearly as important/influential for you as it was for me. If you’re just looking for a summary of ancient philosophies as a quaint history lesson, it will work fine for that. But it’s unlikely to do much for you unless (1) you feel that your life might be lacking a sense of meaning and/or a structure for why and how to live and (2) you are a thinking/analytical type who isn’t content to accept just one school’s dogma as the be-all-end-all answer.

FYI, according to his blog, the author is working on a second book about transcendence. I have never felt so inpatient for a book to make its way to shelves.


Big Questions from Little People: And Simple Answers from Great Minds
Big Questions from Little People: And Simple Answers from Great Minds
by Christopher Riley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.12
68 used & new from $7.46

69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you get smart people to say beautiful things?, December 6, 2012
Q: How do you get smart people to say beautiful things?
A: Make them explain themselves to children.

For example:

How do you fall in love?

You don't fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It's like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else's planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signaled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else's orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. And you can bring friends to visit. And read your favorite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don't want to be without. That's it.

PS You have to be brave.


Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Classical Album
Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Classical Album
Offered by B68 Solutions Limited
Price: $8.65
124 used & new from $0.01

45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awful for classical snobs, but good for Fifty Shades readers, November 21, 2012
Ludwig is twisting in his grave at the fact that this is currently the top-selling classical album. Any classical aficionado (ahem, snob) will look at the selections on this album and call them safe, vanilla, uninteresting. Make no mistake: This is an unabashed attempt to profit on the already-ridiculously-profitable Fifty Shades brand, and to do so by selling widely appealing (i.e., "vanilla") music.

But this album wasn't made for classical snobs. It was made for people who want some musical mood enhancers for their reading experience. And for that, it works. You will certainly get a better Fifty Shades reading experience through this album than you will by, say, turning on the radio to Maroon 5 and Ke$ha and Flo Rida.

The music on this album has a subtle, emerging intensity, a mysterious allure with a vague suggestion of danger. Which means it's a perfect complement for the book.


Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years
Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years
by Marla Prather
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $45.46
37 used & new from $17.61

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Regarding "Regarding Warhol", November 21, 2012
The best way to get a taste of this book is to click the link "Search inside this book." The publishers graciously offer an in-depth preview.

This isn't the best book to understand Warhol or his work, nor is it intended to be. (I recommend Andy Warhol: Living Art for a good primer.) Rather, this book is about Warhol's "reach" and "influence." In particular, this book acts as a visual archive of non-Warhol works that seem Warholian in nature. It's one-part analysis and four-parts coffee table book.

I'm not sure it's fair to say that Warhol "influenced" the works presented this book. I think it'd be more accurate to say that Warhol's work from the 60's and 70's remains so relevant and resonant - consider consumerism, the cult of celebrity, issues of sexual identity and gender - that many of the works after Warhol unintentionally look like Warhols. Nevertheless, it's an interesting, well-put-together book.


Born To Die - The Paradise Edition [Explicit]
Born To Die - The Paradise Edition [Explicit]

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The drugged sexuality of a mannequin come halfway to life, November 19, 2012
It's hard to describe Del Rey's music. It's a fairy-dusting of harp laid over top a hip-hop cadence. It's lush instrumentals alongside precise vocal transitions from low and jazzy up to high and girlish. Del Rey has called her own music "Hawaiian glam metal." Others have called it "Hollywood sadcore."

Others have described it in less complimentary ways. One reviewer called it a thin bundle of Lolita imprecations and sun-baked poolside sexuality. Another called it the epitome of a faked orgasm.

Del Rey's music neither soothes nor satiates, but it captivates. One reviewer nailed it: "These are the disturbing movies that you watch because of the intensity behind the storytelling."

That's why I think the most accurate description of this music is "Lynchian," as in the filmmaker David Lynch. On the second disc she performs a deadened rendition of a song from his movie Blue Velvet. In the hands of Del Rey, it's even more Lynchian: twisted and disturbing, the drugged sexuality of a mannequin come halfway to life.

Del Rey, like Lynch, is "the perfect mirror of our time" and "the artist we deserved." She neither soothes nor satiates, but she certainly warrants our attention.

---

Technical note: This album has such poor reviews not because of the music but because of missing tracks. There are 3 missing tracks on the first disc if you buy the CD version. This is not a problem if you buy the mp3s. For those who already bought the CD, it sounds like Interscope is working to fix things, but not sure how/when they will do it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2016 10:42 PM PDT


The Best American Essays of the Century (The Best American Series)
The Best American Essays of the Century (The Best American Series)
by Robert Atwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.65
162 used & new from $4.51

5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not "the best," but certainly good essays, November 19, 2012
I don't like compilations, and I don't like books that are too big and awkward to comfortably hold with one hand, but this book compensates. It has fantastic essays.

The essays are ordered chronologically which is nice but kind of unnecessary since even the old essays still read fresh. One essay about the perils of technology rings just as true today as it did 80 years ago.

The choice of essays can be fairly critiqued as heavy on race & gender issues, as not really "the best," or as just plain seedy since Joyce Carol Oates picked one of her own essays. But in the end it doesn't really matter. Whatever you think of Joyce Carol Oates, anyone tasked with putting together a book of the best essays of the century is probably going to come up with a good read. The pool of fantastic essays is so great that it would be hard not to.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2014 2:09 AM PST


Snagit 11  - Windows 11.2 / Mac 2.1 version or Windows 11.3/Mac 2.2 version
Snagit 11 - Windows 11.2 / Mac 2.1 version or Windows 11.3/Mac 2.2 version

48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In response to "bad for business users", November 19, 2012
I urge you not to heed the angry one-star reviewer who had his undies scrunched by the fact that, faced with a looming deadline, SnagIt didn't help him make a perfect triangle. If "SnagIt didn't help me make a perfect triangle!" is the worst complaint anyone can levy, then you're in for a delightful deal.

I am a generally bitter, cynical person who shakes his fist at every technical inefficiency. I tell you that in order to give this next sentence more weight: SnagIt is a rare software product that has satisfied me all the way to a big, teethy smile.

The one-star reviewer says that SnagIt isn't good for business users, but that's exactly wrong. Outside of Microsoft Office, SnagIt is the software I would least like to do without at the office. You've likely felt what it's like to be stuck in a series of emails in which people who are inept with language flail around trying to make sense of what the other is saying. What you might not have felt is the sweet relief when, in 72% of those cases, the issue can be painlessly resolved with a picture and a bright red arrow.

SnagIt is delightful in many ways. It settles email logjams. It spruces reports. It captures images as well as video. It lets you match colors from the image with a dropper thingy. It pours you a cup of tea and asks about your day. (Kidding, but I wouldn't be surprised if it offered that in version 12.) It is so easy to use, so convenient and efficient, and there are so many things you can do with it. I was skeptical about spending $30 dollars on screenshot software, but now I feel I'd've been silly not to.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2013 10:16 AM PST


Paradise [Explicit]
Paradise [Explicit]

197 of 210 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The drugged sexuality of a mannequin come halfway to life, November 17, 2012
This review is from: Paradise [Explicit] (MP3 Music)
It's hard to describe Del Rey's music. It's a fairy-dusting of harp laid over top a hip-hop cadence. It's lush instrumentals alongside precise vocal transitions from low and jazzy up to high and girlish. Del Rey has called her own music "Hawaiian glam metal." Others have called it "Hollywood sadcore."

Others have described it in less complimentary ways. One reviewer called it a thin bundle of Lolita imprecations and sun-baked poolside sexuality. Another called it the epitome of a faked orgasm.

Del Rey's music neither soothes nor satiates, but it captivates. One reviewer nailed it: "These are the disturbing movies that you watch because of the intensity behind the storytelling."

That's why I think the most accurate description of this music is "Lynchian," as in the filmmaker David Lynch. On this EP she performs a deadened rendition of a song from his movie Blue Velvet. In the hands of Del Rey, it's even more Lynchian: twisted and disturbing, the drugged sexuality of a mannequin come halfway to life.

Del Rey, like Lynch, is "the perfect mirror of our time" and "the artist we deserved." She neither soothes nor satiates, but she certainly warrants our attention.
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2014 3:29 PM PDT


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20