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Blueman "Blueman" RSS Feed (Bethesda, MD)

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The Partisan: The Life of William Rehnquist
The Partisan: The Life of William Rehnquist
by John A. Jenkins
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from $1.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but one-sided, May 30, 2013
I read through this book in less than two days. It's fascinating and well written. I did not know that Rehnquist was an aspiring novelist! But Jenkins is a bit unfair to Rehnquist. Was he really any more partisan than William Brennan? Brennan was one of the most partisan liberals on the Court. I don't see the difference, except in direction.


I Come To Bury Shaksper: A Deconstruction of the Fable of the Stratfordian Shake-speare and the Supporting Scholarship
I Come To Bury Shaksper: A Deconstruction of the Fable of the Stratfordian Shake-speare and the Supporting Scholarship
by Mr. Steven McClarran
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reservations, May 30, 2013
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I have no problem with McClarran's thesis. He puts together a rock-solid case against Shaksper. But the writing, organization, and editing are all lacking in this volume. No one should be barred from publishing his own work, but books like this would benefit greatly from a good editor.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2014 4:01 PM PST


121 Tips for Better Bridge
121 Tips for Better Bridge
by Paul Mendelson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.95
53 used & new from $2.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be warned, May 30, 2013
This book was written by a British author, with the Acol system in mind. Therefore, many of the examples I'm encountering at the beginning of the book utilize 4-card major openings. Most Americans, including me, do not use these, so the examples and tips he offers don't seem to work for the system I use (5-card majors).


MALICE AFORETHOUGHT: The Killing of a Unique Genius
MALICE AFORETHOUGHT: The Killing of a Unique Genius
by Paul Hemenway Altrocchi MD
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.99
28 used & new from $15.99

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Theory of the Shakespeare Authorship Hoax (with a few holes), January 17, 2011
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The Shakespeare authorship debate has settled into basically two camps: those who believe the traditional story of Will Shaksper of Stratford writing the great works of "William Shakespeare" and those who believe that story is wrong and the real author of the plays and sonnets was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. For the those who belong to the second camp (including myself), the remaining questions have to do with the following: Who was behind the pseudonym and precisely why? Why has the traditional story been protected and maintained? Did Edward de Vere and Elizabeth I have a child who was heir to the Tudor throne, and was de Vere himself the offspring of Elizabeth I?

Altrocchi's view on these matters is apparently based mostly on Hank Whittemore's interpretation of de Vere's sonnets, which Whittemore analyzes in the "The Monument." For those wishing to cut straight to the chase on the matter, read Chapter 16 of Altrocchi's book, which explains the whole theory very succinctly. The rest of the book touches on the major theme of the book but mostly delves into tertiary matters. But if you accept Altrocchi's view (and Whittemore's apparently) that William and Thomas Cecil prevented Elizabeth's and de Vere's son from becoming King to protect their own power and wealth, you'll have to read Whittemore's book or even the sonnets themselves to compare your reading of the original source material with Altrocchi's interpretation. I am not arguing that Altrocchi is necessarily wrong, but you have to look elsewhere for the original material on the matter. One major reason for the enforced pseudonym was that de Vere portrayed Cecil in a bad light in some of the plays, notably "Hamlet," but that Elizabeth I would not allow the plays destroyed because of their greatness. The compromise was that de Vere had to use a pseudonym. Altrocchi says that much of the written record that would make plain de Vere's authorship was destroyed by the Cecils, but the author provides no proof to support this theory. Again, I am not trying to shoot down this theory, but evidence is lacking.

This is an excellent book in many ways. What Altrocchi has to say about the power of "Conventional Wisdom" is good. His analyses of the Droeshout engraving, the Sanders portrait, and the "Bermoothes" reference are likewise impressive. He explains how the "Tempest" originally had a different title, which was referenced well before de Vere died, thus explaining why it was seemingly written after de Vere's death. He explains the "Swan of Avon" reference to the fact that de Vere himself had property in the Stratford area, which is an interesting alternative to the theory that a swan is a mute bird, just as Will Shaksper was mute. So Altrocchi has done some impressive detective work in this volume. In other areas, he is somewhat less successful. He devotes two chapters to the "Roscius Annotation," which was a hand-written annotation about a "William Shakespeare" of Stratford. It was added to the printed version of an William Camden's "Briannia" that referenced two other lesser-known residents of Stratford but failed to mention its ostensibly most famous resident. After two chapters of this, Altrocchi concludes that nothing certain can be made of it. In my view, he may have missed an obvious point--that Camden simply added the reference to Shakespeare without having ever known him or heard about him but simply because he was told that this was the person who wrote the plays and that Stratford is where he was from. I think this would support the notion that the Stratfordian theory is bunk since Camden would have included the reference to Shakespeare in the original printed version if the fact of Shaksper's authorship had been well-known (and true). Altrocchi's discussion of the Queen Elizabeth portrait is fascinating, but the author cannot have been the first to understand or decipher its meaning, if others have painted over and altered the symbols and meaning of the portrait to obscure that meaning.

Altrocchi also devotes considerable space to William Cecil's cleft lip. He's undoubtedly correct that Cecil had a cleft lip, but if Cecil wore a thick mustache to cover it up, and if his descendents altered paintings and pictures of him to cover it up, then why would Cecil have allowed--indeed required--that artists portray him with the cleft lip in the first place, as Altrocchi says must have happened? The author doesn't say. Did the cleft lip partially or mostly explain Cecil's drive for wealth and power? Altrocchi rather implies that it does but he does not speculate. It seems that discussion of Cecil's cleft lip is therefore rather a distraction in this book.

Was Elizabeth I de Vere's mother? Some Oxfordians think so. Books have been written about it. Hank Whittemore seems to think so. Charles Beauclerk in "Shakespeare's Lost Kingdom" argues that case. This is an important debate in Oxfordian circles, and a movie is due out that will promote that theory. But Altrocchi never even discusses the issue. Does he agree or disagree with it? Is he uncertain? I would think he would have to at least acknowledge the controversy in a book such as this.

Other problematic issues: (1) This book was self-published, perhaps unfortunately, as the cover design is not of the highest quality, a trivial point perhaps, but so be it. In a way, the fact that a traditional publishing house would not take his book supports his view of the tyranny of establishment thinking. On the other hand, the book will not get the exposure and distribution it deserves by being self-published. (2) Where does Altrocchi get the idea that "only 3% of humans seem willing or able to question their owns beliefs...without a latent period of 25 to 40 years" (330). A citation would be nice. (3) On another trivial note, Altrocchi refers to himself in the third person in the book, which is rather jarring. Perhaps this is the author's own adherence to the conventional wisdom that one should not use the first person in formal writing.

Paul Altrocchi has a clear, straightforward writing style that makes this book enjoyable to read. Most books about Edward de Vere get bogged down with minutiae of proving the authorship case, and Altrocchi, since he is trying to accomplish something else, is able to avoid that. Overall, despite some flaws, this is a very good book in the authorship debate. The final chapter is worth the price of the whole book because it lays out a theory that makes impeccable sense.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2014 8:35 PM PDT


Margaret Thatcher: A Life in Pictures
Margaret Thatcher: A Life in Pictures
by Elizabeth Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from $2.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, November 25, 2009
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What can I say? This is a fun book, at least if you're a fan of Margaret Thatcher. She's a very attractive politician in addition to being a good one, so it's a pleasure to look through the book as it follows her life and political career. To nitpick just a little, though, two small errors caught my eye. On page 36, a caption says Thatcher is 33 years old, when she would have been 34 at that time. On page 122, Thatcher heads to Reagan's first inauguration on "25 February 1981" when he in fact he was inaugurated on January 20. Still, an impressive piece of work this volume.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2012 2:49 PM PST


Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut [Blu-ray] [English-Dolby Digital 5.1]
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut [Blu-ray] [English-Dolby Digital 5.1]
DVD ~ Gene Hackman
Price: $7.59
65 used & new from $2.07

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lester version better, June 11, 2009
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It was interesting to see the Richard Donner version of Superman 2, but in my opinion, the Lester version is better in almost every respect: plot, acting, dialogue, special effects, and soundtrack. It's true that the Lester version had some flaws, but the "Richard Donner" version is full of them. Many people have pointed these out, and it is quite clear that had Donner been able to finish the film as planned, it would have been better. I'm not sure I'm adding thing new that 230 other reviewers haven't already said, but these are my two cents.


Aftermath: Population Zero
Aftermath: Population Zero
DVD ~ Reg E. Cathey
Price: $9.47
28 used & new from $3.99

38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting enough, December 12, 2008
This review is from: Aftermath: Population Zero (DVD)
If you haven't seen "Life After People," as I have, then you'll surely appreciate this program more than I did. But I did not find it better than "Life After People." You get a slightly different perspective, of course, but there is plenty of general overlap. I felt this program was a bit repetitive in places and seemed to dwell on some favorite matters, like the Eiffel Tower. I got plenty tired of seeing the Eiffel Tower topple. Perhaps because I saw this on DVD, I was jarred by some of the transitions, which seemed more suited to TV. But the narrative and tone of "Life After People" seemed more effective to me than in this program.


Blackjack: Play Like The Pros
Blackjack: Play Like The Pros
by John Bukofsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.22
89 used & new from $0.01

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, May 11, 2008
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This is the best overall of three books on blackjack I've read so far. You get the feeling this man has a very well-organized mind. He's the first author I've read who adequately explains deviations from basic strategy and the matix tables. He nicely discusses the issue of whether to go with a simpler or more complex counting system. Ironically, he is weakest where other writers are stronger: on betting strategy. Here I think he gets a bit too mathematically precise in his betting tables. Would someone with a $20,000 bankroll really bet in amounts of 83, 133, 182, 267, 338...? (p. 122). Of course not. But I completely agree with Bukovsky when he says, "Don't just read this book. Read everything you can get your hands on....Read and reread..." (219). Sound advice, in my view.


The Counting Game: An Accountant Reveals How to Win at Blackjack
The Counting Game: An Accountant Reveals How to Win at Blackjack
by Alan Berg
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from $2.90

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, April 25, 2008
This is the second blackjack book I've read. It's very good and has a lot of interesting and useful information. It also only costs about 10 bucks, but there are two important points here: In Berg's view, one would need to start with about $150,000 to make serious money in blackjack. Second, he uses one of the most complex card-counting methods out there.


Play Blackjack Like the Pros
Play Blackjack Like the Pros
by Kevin Blackwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.68
119 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book with caveats, April 19, 2008
Very good on basic strategy, money management, non-card counting tactics, the internet, promotions, and almost everything else you would want to know about playing backjack seriously or professionally. Blackwood also writes very well and has a number of interesting stories to tell. The book is enjoyable to read for his personal history and general observations. But the book loses one star for advanced strategies. The matrix charts he puts in the book are not adequately explained. He pivots between Hi-Lo and Hi-Opt strategies and between single/double and six decks, which is confusing. He talks about single and double handed blackjack a lot, but he also says that these games are harder and harder to find, especially in the northeast corridor. I doubt it would be inaccurate to say that very few people will master all the "million-dollars strategies" required for winning big at blackjack that Blackwood used. But overall, it's an interesting and worthwhile book.


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