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takingadayoff "takingadayoff" RSS Feed (Las Vegas, Nevada)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Other America, August 24, 2016
One thing the 2016 election has highlighted for me is just how little I know about the people in my own country. And I suspect I am not alone. Hillbilly Elegy is one small step towards learning a little about what it's like to live in the United States but not in a California suburb, like I did, or in an inner city or on a farm. Lots of people grow up in Ohio and Kentucky like JD Vance did, where there used to be factories that built things and hired many of those "white males without college degrees" that has become a separate demographic lately.

Vance tells his own story of growing up in a fractured family and then joining the Marines and turning the benefits of the G.I. Bill plus some hard work and determination into a college degree and a law degree and a ticket out of Hillbilly Country. I would not recommend joining the military to any young person these days, but back in more peaceful times I joined and it was a great chance to work with and get to know people I never would have known in a direct-to-university lifeplan. Now we have to depend on people like JD Vance to explain working class people to the rest of the population because we are all so sequestered in our own demographic pigeonholes that we can't fathom how people not like us might legitimately have different opinions and even come to different conclusions about who to vote for.

I listened to an audio version of Hillbilly Elegy narrated by the author. I can't imagine anyone else narrating this book -- Vance did a great job.


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Special Rehearsal Edition Script
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Special Rehearsal Edition Script
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.98
145 used & new from $12.60

2.0 out of 5 stars Is There a Charm That Can Make Me Unread It?, August 24, 2016
Even allowing for the fact that this is a play and should be viewed rather than read, and that it wasn't written by Rowling, this fails on several levels. First, I should have trusted my first instinct to not read it at all. I don't need to know what happened to the Potter gang after the war was over. It was bound to be a come down after that excitement. I don't think that Rowling should even have included the epilog that showed the heroes nineteen years later. Too much -- leave it to the readers' imaginations.

The Cursed Child reads well enough, it moves along briskly and keeps your interest. But the characters are just wrong. Harry is a bit of a loser now and Ginny is just standing by her man not really adding anything to the story. Hermione has a government job when it was clear that she would have gone into some kind of work facilitating relations between the Wizard and the Muggle worlds. And the alternate Hermione in which she does not marry Ron is straight out of It's a Wonderful Life. Remember when we realize that if Jimmy Stewart's wife never meets him she is doomed to be a lonely librarian? Horrors. Well, without Ron (not even Jimmy Stewart) Hermione is a lonely and bitter Hogwarts functionary. Grab those men while you can girls! Any man...anything's better than being single!

So just like everyone else, the Potter gang grows up to be boring, slightly sad adults. Who needed to learn that? Not me.


Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare)
Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare)
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Prisons Within Prisons and Plays Within Plays, August 23, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This was my first Atwood novel although I have read some of her nonfiction (essays, reviews, Payback) and liked it. And I was not familiar with the story of The Tempest and have a love/hate relationship with Shakespeare at best.

I prepared for the book by reading the online synopses of The Tempest from SparkNotes and CliffsNotes. CliffsNotes was better, more to the point and organized while SparkNotes was a rambling summary of the story. If only I had checked the back of Hag-Seed before I started I would have seen that Atwood herself provides a couple of pages summarizing The Tempest for those of us who needed it.

Hag-Seed was an enjoyable novel on its own and even better as a retelling of The Tempest. It was fun putting together what characters and which events related to the original story's. I like the idea behind the Hogarth Project of retelling Shakespeare plays as modern novels. This was the first of those I've read, but I'll be looking for others to round out my Shakespeare education in an enjoyable way.


Amope Gelactiv Shoes Insoles, Flat
Amope Gelactiv Shoes Insoles, Flat
Price: $18.55

5.0 out of 5 stars No More Squashed Toes, August 22, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have tried a lot of different insoles because I walk a lot. I've tried the ones for just the heels and the ones for the front part of the foot and now I just go for the entire foot insole most of the time. I like the Dr. Scholl's Active Series which keeps my feet pretty comfortable, but they do take up a lot of room in the shoe and are only practical if I get my shoes a half size bigger than usual.

On first looking at the Amope Gelactiv insoles I was not very hopeful. Gel insoles aren't my favorite and these look wafer thin so how could they do any good at all. Still, worth a try, right?

I'm completely impressed. I've been wearing them all week in a couple of pairs of flat shoes that I usually don't wear for walking because they have little cushioning and leave my feet aching. With the Amope insoles I walked my normal routine and felt perfectly comfortable. Afterwards my feet weren't sore at all. The insoles are rather narrow, but that didn't seem to make a difference to my feet. They are also rather slippery, so you do have to use the adhesive on the bottom to affix them to your shoes rather than leaving the backing on for easy removal to other pairs of shoes. But once inside the shoes and stuck on (and with socks) there was no slippery-ness.


The Seaweed Bath Co. Moisturizing Unscented Argan Shampoo
The Seaweed Bath Co. Moisturizing Unscented Argan Shampoo
Price: $11.59
7 used & new from $11.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Cleans Hair! Rinses Out!, August 21, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's hard to evaluate shampoo because just about all of them get your hair clean. Everything else is secondary. The Seaweed Bath Co Moisturizing Unscented Shampoo gets my hair clean. It's unscented, which I like, although the natural aroma of the shampoo is somewhat cardboardy. But it doesn't matter because it's an almost neutral fragrance that is easily overshadowed by your conditioner, lotion, deodorant, whatever. It lathers fine, although you do have to shake it up before using. It's expensive and it doesn't work miracles (what does?) so even though it's a fine shampoo, I probably won't be buying it in future because many less expensive shampoos do the same thing it does.


The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads
The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads
by Tim Wu
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Feel Like Buying Something..., August 20, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What an interesting history of advertising! it's the sort of thing I feel as if I must have read already, but almost all of it was new and fresh, not rehashed snippets from other histories. And it's weighted just the way I like it -- it starts in the 1830s and zips through the early history in an entertaining way, but as we move toward the present, it gets more detailed. The final chunk of the book is about advertising on the internet and this is ground that hasn't been covered in one book before, at least not in a critical way. Tim Wu is rather alarmed at the commodification of the consumer -- practically everything we do online and often offline, is being watched by those who would like to sell us something. That is an old trend but it has reached the point where just about everything we do is an opportunity for someone to sell us something or to collect our information for future selling efforts. A bit dispiriting conclusion but impossible to argue with and the whole book is a really fascinating look at advertising.


Van Heusen Men's Traveler Classic Fit Flat Front Pant, Grey Heather, 40W X 32L
Van Heusen Men's Traveler Classic Fit Flat Front Pant, Grey Heather, 40W X 32L
Price: $35.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Traveling Pants, August 20, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Fit just as expected around the waist and the length is accurate. A little room in the thighs, not too baggy. As the "traveler" name suggests, these are easily machine washed and tumble dried, but they are lightweight enough that they could also be hung up to dry and would be ready to wear overnight. The heather gray is a medium to dark gray color. They are very nice looking trousers that can be worn for casual occasions or would not look out of place in a fancy restaurant or at an opera or theater.


Life With Daughters: Watching the Miss America Pageant (Singles Classic)
Life With Daughters: Watching the Miss America Pageant (Singles Classic)
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Family Tradition, August 19, 2016
Here's a 1990 essay by Gerald Early about watching the Miss America contest with is family. As African-Americans, Early and his wife are conflicted about the messages in such a contest. But Vanessa Williams had won the contest a few years back, and then there was a little scandal. Even more conflicted thoughts. The daughters though, fascinated by the pageant, but not at all conflicted, love playing with their African-American Barbie dolls and their white dolls as well. It would be so interesting to her what the daughters, who would now be in their thirties, think about it all today.


Landscapes: John Berger on Art
Landscapes: John Berger on Art
by John Berger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.76

3.0 out of 5 stars The Paintings Are All Leaning to the Left, August 19, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well, I did it again. I forgot to check the publisher before I started reading a book that sounded interesting. In this case, it's Verso, and while I tend to agree with the leftist leanings of the publisher, I don't want to read about Marxism as it applies to absolutely everything. So far I have read about Marxist literary criticism as applied to Raymond Chandler, a Marxist philosophy of walking, and now Marxist art criticism.

Landscapes is a collection of essays by art critic, novelist, poet, and artist John Berger (Ways of Seeing) written over the past 60+ years. Some of the essays are personal rather than about art, more memoir than criticism, others touch on poetry or fiction, and then there's what interested me most -- the art criticism. Much of Berger's writing assumes more background in both art and philosophy than I have, but I especially liked one essay about Cubism. I like Cubist art very much but haven't thought much about why, and the essay investigates how Cubism was more than just a movement of visual art, it also seeped into literature, music, and more. Berger also takes the bold opinion that Picasso and the other Cubists never did anything better than their Cubist works, although he leaves open the possibility that some of their work may have been as good as, but not better than the Cubist work. So Guernica's safe.

Anyway, not the easiest collection of essays you'll read, but there's probably something in here you'll connect with.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2016 3:18 PM PDT


AmazonBasics Memory Foam Bathmat - 18 x 28 inches, Sage
AmazonBasics Memory Foam Bathmat - 18 x 28 inches, Sage
Price: $11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Treat for Your Feet, August 17, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Standard bath mat with a non-skid backing. It's machine washable and the sage color is nice, rather muted. It's very plush and feels quite luxurious to my bare feet. The memory foam does perform quite well -- it bounces back but retains the imprint of your feet for hours afterward. If you don't mind the interesting pattern your family's toes make on the mat (I'm finding it rather avant garde), this is a very serviceable product.


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