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Samuel Chell (Kenosha,, WI United States)
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Understanding Movies with Video
Understanding Movies with Video
von Louis D. Giannetti
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Still the Best Bet., 28. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Understanding Movies with Video (Taschenbuch)
There is no shortage of comprehensive textbook tomes in this competitive market (several new ones have appeared since this 8th edition). But Giannetti achieves the "right" level of diction, readability, and detail whereas the other books tend to disappoint more frequently. Some are simply too obvious, unacademic, unselective in use of illustrations and others too weighted down by film jargon left over from graduate school. Even if Giannetti's distinction between "formalism" and "expression" occasionally seems difficult and overly arbitrary, it provides his overview with a focus that is lacking in the competition.


Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art
Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art
von Will Friedwald
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen Definitive, indispensable but not the last word., 14. Juli 2000
I find myself consulting Friedwald's comprehensive treatment of Sinatra's entire recording career practically on a weekly basis. If this opinionated, non-musician's aesthetic judgements are not always on target, the documentation, historical contexts, and wealth of information are simply invaluable. He's also an entertaining, lively stylist, especially when expressing his distaste for some of the low points in Sinatra's recording career, most notably the "Duets" sessions. But the ultimate book about the century's ultimate vocal artist will be one that manages to account for the apparent paradoxes: the brazen and controversial lifestyle alongside the sheer beauty and fragile emotional depth of the art ; the relation between the screen actor and the introspective "saloon singer"; and above all the relation between the inimitable individualist who made every song his own and the respectful storyteller who, more often than any other interpreter of these classic musical texts, surrendered himself to the composer's intentions and "got it right." Even in the interviews he gave following Sinatra's death, Friedwald mentioned these two apparently opposite qualities without grasping the contradiction let alone explaining it.
But Friedwald's instincts about what counts as quality in musical art are unassailable, even if they lead him to unnecessarily vicious attacks on Bono (It's only a joke, Will) and Carly Simon (listen to the recording again--she does not sing in unison with Sinatra on "When I Hang My Tears Out to Dry"). Just as his zeal to dissociate Sinatra from banality leads him to demonize the opposition, his determination to vindicate the returning king leads him to ignore the embarrassment of "The Main Event," the one time when the "voice" simply wasn't there, and when it counted most--before a national television audience. Sinatra's return to form following this quasi-disaster, therefore, was all the more remarkable. Yet Friedwald gives the opposite impression, suggesting that this concert was a highlight preceding a precipitous decline in Sinatra's vocal power and aesthetic judgement. Nothing could be further from the truth--at least as far as the concerts were concerned. I know. I was there.


Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice
von Jane Austen
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen You're a good man, sister!, 25. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Pride and Prejudice (Taschenbuch)
Humphrey Bogart's line to his secretary in "The Maltese Falcon" could as easily have been addressed to Jane Austen. Long before the woman's movement of the 60s and women's studies courses of the 70s, perceptive and discriminating readers were in agreement about Jane Austen as the supreme master of her craft. In her characterizations, plotting, and language she is the model of exactness and efficiency. There simply is no gratuitous business, no room for sentiment, no place for self-indulgence or personal fantasy. Elizabeth's world is a microcosm of the complex society we habit, each of us making daily compromises, negotiations, and decisions that allow us the maximum degree of self-expression within the limitations of our social communities and of the human condition itself. The rewards of identifying with Austen's heroines are as accessible and satisfying to male as to female readers. Above all, Austens' novels are tributes to the power of language--to create plausible worlds, to capture the meanings of the heart, and to construct the rhetoric of the "self." Where lesser writers require battles and orgies to get a rise out of readers, Austen can elicit profound emotions from the most stoic readers through the description of a raised eyebrow.


Write for College: Softcover College Handbook
Write for College: Softcover College Handbook
von Patrick Sebranek
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 27,29

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Is everything better than nothing?, 20. Juni 2000
As a teacher who has had to use this book for the past 2 years, I would be rather sorry to part with it--from my personal library. After all, it contains an almanac, a six-year calendar, the U. S. Constitution along with all sorts of pointers about how to succeed in college and life. Moreover, for teachers unexperienced in teaching composition, the text breaks down the writing process in both a short, simplified sequence and an extended, more detailed one. And lengthy chapters are devoted to writing every kind of discourse--from literary essays to science reports to business letters and essay exams. When I discovered that most of my students who had purchased the book for a previous course never used it, I tried mightily to incorporate it into my classes, and there was the rub. The lengthy and repetitious sections on the writing process are unwieldy and no substitute for doing it, and the "handbook" section is minimal and of limited practical value. In fact, there's no convenient way for student writers to connect correction symbols with related discussions in the text. A student writer would not find out how to punctuate a compound sentence containing a conjunctive adverb, but he would discover that success in college requires "determination, curiosity, and self-reliance" (p. 544). Perhaps it's just as well that the parental, if not preachy, tone of much of the text assures students will not make use of it: The authors caution students against change, reminding them it's smart "to stick to your values and beliefs" (547). As an educator, I would have to disqualify the book from serious consideration on the basis of that sentence alone.


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
von Robert Pirsig
  Taschenbuch

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Best Introduction to Western Philosophy, 20. Juni 2000
Despite the book's title, Pirsig's journey is primarily one through the history of Western philosophy, from the pre-Socratics through Plato, Aristotle, the 18th century empricists, and 19th century idealists. On this level alone, the book succeeds in being one of the most accessible and reliable treatments of the field. But the text is also a critique of the whole Western "logocentric" tradition, with its emphasis on reason, or "dialectic." Like Kant ("Critique of Pure Reason") or Kierkegaard ("Concluding Unscientific Postscript"), Pirsig uses reason to expose the limitations of reason. And what does he replace it with? Not Eastern mysticism or Zen riddles but rhetoric. More than the classic rhetoricians that Pirsig exhalts or the 20th-century structuralists and post-structuralists (Barthes, Derrida, Foucault) for which Pirsig's narrative is practically an illustration, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" makes the case for language as the basis for all reality, for all that we think, experience and perceive. It's this conflict between dialectic and rhetoric that drives the narrative, realized in plain yet compelling prose that's capable of staying with the attentive reader for the rest of his or her lifetime. After reading the book twice, I was unable to look at the self, the world, at all things constructed by language in quite the same way. The least successful parts of the book, it seems to me, are the narrator's protracted discussions of the nature of "reality" as a moment inaccessible to human intellect and his somewhat naive, 1960's-style musings on the nature of "quality." Supposedly his English composition students were immediately able to know it when they saw it, thereby making it unnecessary for him as a teacher to talk about "standards" or to establish criteria. (The suspicion arises that Pirsig hasn't had a great deal of experience teaching students how to write.) Nevertheless, even when a cylinder occasionally misfires, this is a book worth reading carefully and more than once. Unfortunately, because of its "cult" status, many people seem to purchase the text but never finish it. Robert Redford owns the screen rights, but a reader would be ill-advised to wait for the movie version. The "visual" elements of the text--the motorcyle odyssey and troubled father-son relationship--are minor metaphors compared to the ambitious and largely successful intellectual quest.


From Ritual to Romance
From Ritual to Romance
von Jessie Laidlay Weston
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,49

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Going to the Source, 16. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: From Ritual to Romance (Taschenbuch)
Because Eliot's "Waste Land" is taught in virtually every British and American lit survey course, the name "Jessie Weston" and the title "From Ritual to Romance" have become familiar to perhaps millions of readers throughout the world. However, if readers hope to get beyond the "trivial pursuit" question of the source to which Eliot was indebted and to a genuine understanding of the "Fisher King" myth, they will need to read that source for themselves. Though not a quick and accessible read, the book repays the reader's patience. Not only does it help bring Eliot's poem to life but it illuminates the poetic tradition from Chaucer to Eliot and makes more meaningful the numerous adaptations of the myth in modern culture--from David Lodge's "Small World" to Robin Williams' "The Fisher King." Not for a sophomore survey course, but definitely for any upperlevel course on Eliot or Arthurian legend.


The Little iMac Book (Little Imac Book, ed 3)
The Little iMac Book (Little Imac Book, ed 3)
von Robin Williams
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 14,39

5.0 von 5 Sternen Nirvana for anally-retentive neophytes., 30. Mai 2000
After purchasing 4 other iMac books, I took someone's recommendation to try Williams' approach. It did the trick: it presented computer/iMac literacy in accessible step-by-step tutorials and clearly told me what to do and what not to do. Previously, the combination of my ignorance and impatience resulted in nothing but crashes, hung programs, and Luddite sentiments. This book forces you to slow down and learn. The author's sequence of lessons is logically conceived, and the style is neither forced nor patronizing. For the next stage, I may go back to the Pogue books (Dummies series), as the author covers more ground and in a zestier style. But I wish I had saved myself some time and money and started with Williams.


Things Fall Apart: A Novel
Things Fall Apart: A Novel
von Chinua Achebe
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 8,70

5.0 von 5 Sternen Potentially deadly, so be careful., 28. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Things Fall Apart: A Novel (Taschenbuch)
Because it's easy to read but hard to interpret, Achebe's masterwork has become a fixture thoughout secondary and higher education. Unfortunately, its current status as a "classic text" as well as a multicultural icon threatens to make it merely another institutional artifact rather than the genuinely provocative text it is capable of being. Achebe does not gloss over the apparently savage, cruel, sexist practices of the Ibo people before the arrival of the white missionaries. Yet students are quick to overlook these tensions in the narrative, preferring to go for the "platitudes" about imperialism that they know are expected of them in the classroom devoted to assuring "diversity" is in the curriculum. The other "tension" that is often overlooked is one outside the text: respecting the autonomy and identity of an African country by staying out of its affairs vs. intervening to bring an end to mass genocide (Rwanda), starvation (Ethiopia), and enslavement of children (Sudan). Why is it a "moral imperative" for the West to interfere in Kosovo but not in Rwanda? If these tensions are not confronted, the novel is a well-crafted folk tale about a tragic hero, and also another occasion for student apathy. Achebe himself has invited strong moral judgements about his text by applying the same to Conrad's "Heart of Darkness."


My Imac
My Imac
von Andrew Gore
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Dated already but helpful., 22. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: My Imac (Taschenbuch)
The clarity and liveliness of the writing style make this a useful book even to purchasers of the more recent DVD model . The pictures are as plentiful and good as you'll find anywhere, and the inclusion of a CD is a nice bonus. But it needs to be updated.


The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary
von Simon Winchester
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 16,84

5.0 von 5 Sternen A Professor's Joy, 26. Januar 2000
Admittedly, I'd rate the book a bit lower for personal, literary pleasure--it doesn't provide penetrating character studies or provocative philosophical questions about the nature of language and semantics. But the book succeeded in doing the impossible--injecting life, energy, and enthusiasm into my (required) linguistics course. My students suddenly became interested in the OED and the history of words at the same time they were seduced into traveling from brothels and prisons in Victorian England to America's Civil War battlefields to questions of human psychopathology and brilliance. The author has taken someone prosaic bits and pieces of history and created an impressive imaginative edifice, call it what you will--docu-novel, new journalism, creative history. It combines scholarly attention to quotations from the OED with a somewhat melodramatic, sensationalist style in a felicitous synthesis that is engaging but never insulting.


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