Book Review


Book Review&Media&Movie TV DVD Review29 Nov 2007 01:32 pm


‘Tis the Season for gift giving, and perhaps a little bit of global, spiritual consciousness in the positive direction. The following is a list of books and DVDs designed to enlighten your friends and family, an update of the list posted well over a year ago on this blog, Education In Terrorism.

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American History&Book Review&Media02 Jan 2007 10:31 am

9/11 Report: Graphic AdapationTwo experienced veterans of Marvel and DC Comics, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon have produced a graphic adaptation of the 2005 9/11 Commission Report, The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation.

It appears to be a careful study, although not all agree on the controversial subject matter, for example the blog AboveTopSecret.com pokes fun at the graphic novel.

The Slate has the first chapter of the book online. More illustrations and reviews are on Amazon . There is an interview with the co-authors on NPR.

The two action superhero editors know a good story when they see one.

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Book Review&Humor&Media30 Aug 2006 08:41 am

Dan Asmussen: BAD REPORTER

If you’re a redneck, from the South, or even a Red State Republican, you may be asking yourself, “What’s a chutzpah?” And what’s beyond it if we haven’t gotten to it yet? Well shmedricks and shmeges, the online dictionary.com definition of chutzpah is:

chutz‧pa[khoot-spuh, hoot] –noun Slang.

n : (Yiddish) unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity; unmitigated effrontery or impudence; nerve.

You can look up colorful, funny Yiddish words you’ve heard in a Mel Brooks comedy movie, or maybe on The View, at the online Yiddish Dictionary.

So what’s the big idea? Just that a professor of Political science at DePaul University in Chicago, Norman Finkelstein, has written a book by this title, Beyond Chutzpah. The basic idea from what I heard today on Democracy Now’s radio broadcast, is that many who criticize Israel are quickly labelled anti-Semetic by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League… in a League of their own, no doubt.

Norman Finkelstein: “Every time Israel comes under international pressure, as it did recently because of the war crimes committed in Lebanon, it steps up the claim of anti-Semitism, and all of Israel’s critics are anti-Semitic. 1974, the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, puts out a book called The New Anti-Semitism. 1981, the Anti-Defamation League puts out a book, The New Anti-Semitism. And then, again in 2000, Abraham Foxman and people like Phyllis Chesler, they put out these books called The New Anti-Semitism. So the use of the charge “anti-Semitism” is pretty conventional whenever Israel comes under attack, and frankly it has no content whatsoever nowadays.

If you open up, like, Phyllis Chesler’s book, The New Anti-Semitism, she says Jewish feminists are anti-Semites, NPR is anti-Semitic, BBC is anti-Semitic, Los Angeles Times is anti-Semitic, New York Times is anti-Semitic, Washington Post is anti-Semitic. Everybody is anti-Semitic. The term is devoid of any content. Anyone who ever criticizes Israel is anti-Semitic.”

Finkelstein continued by pointing out many rampant comparisons by US war hawks of their favorite terrorist bad guys of the week to Hitler and Nazis is actually a form of Holocaust denial.

NF: “You heard the speech by Rumsfeld, where he says that Iraq is like the Nazis in the 1930s. Now, remember, the tenet of the Holocaust industry is, never compare the Holocaust to anything else. Never compare, and if you compare, they say you’re a Holocaust denier. But that side is always comparing. The Mufti of Jerusalem was Hitler. Nasser was Hitler. Saddam Hussein was Hitler. Hezbollah is now Hitler. Iran is Hitler. Hamas is Hitler. Iraq is Hitler. They’re the worst Holocaust deniers in the world, by their own definition. They’re always comparing.”

from the Democracy Now! interview, August 30, 2006 

It takes some chutzpah to report the facts of today’s news, and maybe Don Asmussen BAD REPORTER is the solutionator. The Bad Reporter mangles current events in illustrated comic format twice a week with all the bloody chutzpah of news in a blender. In Asmussen’s world, the planet pluto could be a Holocaust Denier. Who knows? The Bad Reporter may be the illegitimate hier to the Dave Barry humor columnist throne. Whatever he is, I find the flavor of his chutzpah maztoh balls very good and refreshing.

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Book Review&Spiritual07 Aug 2006 08:58 am

Painting by Hank Grebe

It has become clear to me that as war and deaths rise in the Middle East and the Congo that the world needs a new dream. Humanity is living a nightmare of its own making by clinging to old agreements.

An inciteful book, the kind I find myslelf recommending to friends and relations is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This inspiring book will help you find freedom from old beliefs and judgements that you may have about yourself and others. It is a pathway to a new dream.

Another fellow human agent of change, is Dream Change founder John Perkins. His ideas involve using your personal power to shape shift your internal and external worlds into a better reality.

Surely by now you must know that you cannot rely on government leaders, priests, politicians or pharmaceutical drugs to make these changes. Too many rely on old ideas, invested in vendettas, based on fear and revenge. We must dream a new dream.

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Animation&Book Review&Media08 Jul 2006 12:55 pm

Timothy Leary's Virtual Reality

A recent New Yorker book review of Robert Greenfield‘s biography of Timothy Leary, aptly titled, Timothy Leary: A Biography, got me thinking about when I saw Leary speak at a computer graphics conference.

SIGGRAPH 1990 could have been virtually anywhere. As the primary conference for computer graphics and interactive techniques, since its first meeting in Boulder, CO, 1974, it’s a pixel pow-wow, a gathering of minds comparing their renderings and notes. My first SIGGRAPH was 1983 in Detroit, not long after the movie TRON was released. I had worked in traditional animation in the 70’s with Steven Lisberger and Eric Ladd in Boston. Taking breaks from tedious hand rendered in-betweening, inking and painting chores, we wondered when computers might come to our rescue. SIGGRAPH was the tribe with the best possible solutions.

So, SIGGRAPH90 was pretty amazing, because computer graphics had advanced into Hollywood’s visual effects, and the world was buzzing about the potential of a big new mind blowing idea: Virtual Reality. VR promised to take elements of what SIGGRAPH CSE’s did best: 3D graphics and intractivity, and enable “realities built for two.” But the truly amazing part was a panel session including Timothy Leary, “Hip, Hype and Hope: The Three Faces of Virtual Worlds.” This link provides a PDF of the entire transcript and some slides from that exciting event.

Even though Timothy Leary had been far ahead of the curve in his explorations of expanded consciousness through LSD, it was refreshing to me as a graphic designer and devotee of Marshall McLuhan to hear Leary speak this way…

“I’d like to make a comment about SIGGRAPH. I’ve not been a regular visitor to these conferences. To tell you the truth, I’m such a slow learner, it took me a long time to figure out that graphics are the key to the whole communications business. The key to the new global language.

Then I recalled the advice of a great prophet who had been babbling to me for years about graphics! Graphics! Graphics!

I am talking about Ted Nelson who patiently tutored me about the importance of eye-balling and rendering and optical realities. I thank you for that, Ted.

During that talk, Leary nearly coined the name iPod:

“But the eye is the pod of the naked brain. It’s spooky when you think of it. We walk around with our moist binocular brains bulging out of our faces.”

Because Leary was not a computer graphics geek or a VR advocate, he added a charming simplicity and unpretentiousness to the panel of sophisticates. Professional turf wars arose during the Q & A session, when Myron Kruger and one of his buddies pitched their pioneering ownership of VR under the name artificial reality. The incident is included in the panel PDF transcription, and is one of those cases of a disgruntled creative coming to grips with what might be called traction. Myron’s term artificial reality did not catch on, and virtual reality somehow captured the zeitgeist of the idea. Imagine the frustration of someone claiming to have invented Google 15 years ago, but gave it an unattractive name like fistulinks or altavista. Ew!

The New Yorker article is an excellent read, and is a fine reminder of Leary’s trippy times, in which he hoped to solve the world’s problems by coaxing our leaders to drop acid. Perhaps today they could fight out their conflicts through a VR interface into a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG). Far out man!

Additional related readings and listenings:
Erowid Timothy Leary Vault
A recent article by Jaron Lanier
The RU Sirius Show, If You Meet Timothy Leary by the Side of the Road
Timothy Leary: A Biography

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Book Review22 Jun 2006 07:57 am

Bar Scotch, Front CoverBar Scotch poems by Everette Maddox was published in 1988 by Pirogue Publishing, one year before his alcohol related death in 1989.
Photo: Nick Slie and Bruce France

Theatrical group Mondo Bizarro is staging performances based on the poetry of Maddox, called Catching Him in Pieces. He lived the self destructive life of downbeat decay and doom of New Orleans.

“An Alabamian, he loved his adopted city of New Orleans because of its faults, not despite them, just as he demanded that people accept him as he was, and not as they wanted him to be. “The dream of New Orleans seems to be receding,” he wrote, “it seems increasingly unreal. Or am I the one who’s unreal?”

“We’re a city on stilts — what’s holding it up?” One might ask the same of Maddox, who rejected responsibility and respectability and yet dressed like a Southern gentleman, drank like a fish, disdained change, sympathized “with Huck Finn’s taste for the mixed-up” and gloried in “cruising down the river on a Sunday afternoon.” Preferably with a good book. All he asked for was “a front row seat to watch the Titanic go down.”

From David Cuthbert’s recent New Orleans Times-Picayune article.

On a related poetic note, I have digitized a set of photographs taken of Allen Ginsberg when I met him in October 1982 in Madison, Wisconsin. They will be released on this site in the near future.

Allen Ginsberg, October 1982

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Book Review&Media&Politics&Spiritual13 Apr 2006 09:13 pm
Ann Coulter 666 on Godless Liberals

The howling idiot wind of the Republican noise machine is in danger of drowning itself out. With so many lies and explanations for poor intelligence swirling around, how’s a hysterical shrieking banshee to distinguish herself and make a living here? You produce a provocative title such as Ann Coulter’s upchucking, I mean upcoming, Godless: The Church of Liberalism. Holy Cow, are we back on the first grade playground again? I had been musing that some creative events might be planned for 6-6-6 day, but the June 6th release of a template for condemning millions of souls was beyond my sweet little imagination. She really must be nuts.

To cast out the demons from Ms. Coulter’s troubled mind, I recommend religious scholar Garry Willis’s book, What Jesus Meant. On a recent radio interview Willis placed Jesus above politics and systems of justice. He quotes Jesus as saying, “What you do to the least of these, you do to me.” This should be enough warning to the intolerant, holier than thou, would-be Christians.

But listen up people, when a Conservative says it’s true, it’s just true. Believe it, or else you have no faith and are Godless.

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American History&Book Review&Politics27 Feb 2006 09:05 pm

Presidents Nixon and Bush

Conservative columnist William F. Buckley recently wrote It Didn’t Work in which he states, “One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed.”

This implies the overall theme of the past 6 years of the Bush Presidency: he is learning on the job and we are paying for his education. This administration ignores scholarly research and planning, basing policy upon envisioned hopes, croney theories, and faith. More dangerous is their negligence and reluctance to admit mistakes until too late.

Another conservative voice echoing this sentiment is Bruce Bartlett. Mr. Bartlett served in the Reagan administration in the Office of Policy Development and in George H.W. Bush’s Treasury Department as deputy assistant secretary for economic policy. The title of Bruce’s new book, Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacyto speaks volumes.

On recent radio interviews Mr. Bartlett has compared President Bush’s style to Richard Nixon’s, with the obsessive secrecy that often accompanies corruption, and the avoidance of accountability. Former White House counsel to Richard M. Nixon, John Dean, has also makes a similar case in his book, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush.

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