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Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada)
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Interpreter's Bible
Interpreter's Bible
by George A. Buttrich
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from CDN$ 10.89

5.0 out of 5 stars The Full 12-volume Set of This Great Commentary in Its Unsurpassed 1950s Edition, April 25 2013
This review is from: Interpreter's Bible (Hardcover)
It just amazes me that shallow, trendy Christians, pastors or laity, would "ditch" this classic Protestant study Bible, of twelve volumes in total, for any later but inferior edition. I bought my own copy from a Presbyterian pastor, of Neo-Evangelical leanings, who was foolish enough to do just that! The 1950s Interpreter's Bible is a four-barrelled spiritual "cannon" of spiritual weaponry (albeit with only the Protestant "canon" of the Old Testament, lacking the Apocrypha, which at the time not had yet been published, as it at last would be in 1965, for the R.S.V. as this commentary includes the O.T. along with the New Testament). Those four figurative cannon chambers namely are (1 & 2) the full texts of both the great Authorised "King James" Version of the Bible and of the then-recent Revised Standard Version, both of which are scholarly translations (rather than mere paraphrases) of the Biblical texts, albeit, for the New Testament, of significant varying texts in the original language, then, along with that, (3 & 4) the parallel running scholarly and devotional commentaries upon the Biblical text. The commentary's notes are neither fundamentalist-literal in emphasis nor are they corrosively modernist in denial of what the Scriptures themselves have to say.

When the interloper replacement, entitled the New Interpreter's Bible (in 13 rather than in 12 volumes, the index being in a separate volume in its case rather than in the last, twelfth volume of commentary as previously), supposedly to displace the classic edition of the set, which had appeared, for its part, volume by volume, between 1952 and 1957, came along in 2003, it replaced the R.S.V. with the penny-dreadful New International Version, an outright paraphrase of the Biblical text, rather than a true translation, that is not worthy at all of scholarly study (and is not adequate for lay use, either), along with, instead of the great K.J.V. (A.V.), the New Revised Standard Version, which, albeit superior to the N.I.V., is considerably less reliable than the R.S.V. which the N.R.S.V. was attempting to displace and is many times yet less reliable than the Authorised Version of 1611. Stay with the K.J.V. (A.V.)/R.S.V. based edition of this great multi-volume commentary! As the saying goes, "newer is not necessarily better"!

Faqs [Import]
Faqs [Import]
DVD ~ Joe Lia
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 10.68
16 used & new from CDN$ 10.68

4.0 out of 5 stars A Movie That Should Have Been Better, Given the Interesting Theme and Everett's Skills, April 9 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Faqs [Import] (DVD)
Everett Lewis' movie, "FAQS" (T.L.A. Releasing TLAD-155), is a story of a tough male drag queen with maternal instincts who gathers young men around her/him who require some nurture, in some cases who simply need to "come out" as gays, in other instances guys (or lesbians) who already are very decidedly gay and know it very well, but who need to develop better survival skills and defense mechanisms to live as gays in a hostile society. The film should have been better than it is. A too blatant urge to push the message of the film too relentlessly non-stop makes "FAQS" a matter of artifice, and low-cost chic, rather than of the kind of kinetic passion that transfigures most of Everett Lewis' other films, despite their meagre means of production, into major works of cinematic art. This one, "FAQS", just is too stiff; the delivery of the dialogue is too coaxed, the words poorly chosen, the actors insufficiently spontaneous-sounding in delivery. The cast, of men of various physical types, from quirkily boyish to ruggedly macho (and some types between), is appealing, visually, but without acting talents commensurate with their good looks.

For most of his films Everett Lewis has been a marvellous director and/or producer, but this one does not quite make the grade -- by his own standards. In most of Lewis' other, greater films the message emerges principally by means of more cunningly devised interplay of characterisation, plot, settings, and more nuanced gestural and verbal interchanges between players who in his earlier movies simply have been much better actors. In FAQS the "message", with its excessively heavy gay liberationist cargo, is so foremost all of the time that the drama and characterisations are subsidiary to the ideology, unlike the case of most of this director's more subtle and artistically satisfying films.

Watching the DVD's bonus feature of moments from a questions and answers session that Everett Lewis and Joe Lia (who plays the lad who in the film calls himself India) held with a festival audience, as well as replaying the film with the director's running commentary feature on, one sees how intensely Lewis felt and philosophically thought through every moment of "FAQS". Apparently, though, such a burning sense of commitment to what he was seeking to achieve sacrificed the kind of "critical distance" which is so essential to an artist to produce front-rank and esthetically satisfying work. Perhaps Lewis simply failed to exercise the detachment necessary to have a more objective perspective of what he really was accomplishing, as opposed to what he was hoping to achieve.

This motion picture definitely is worth seeing and owning, to view it again at least occasionally, as are all of Lewis' other films worth more frequent multiple viewings, but the director's other movies -- really, any of them -- are better starting points (especially "The Pretty Boys" and "Luster") to discover what this director has to offer at either his more typical (if such a quotient can be said to exist in such a varied output!) or at his very best.

Wildlife Survivors:El Lobo-Son
Wildlife Survivors:El Lobo-Son
DVD ~ National Wildlife Federation
3 used & new from CDN$ 33.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Informative Documentary about the Highly Adaptable Coyote and the Endangered Wolf of North America, March 27 2013
I have just finished viewing "El Lobo, the Song of the Wolf [and] Coyote, America's Top Dog" (National Wildlife Federation NWF-9-50026) in the "Wildlife Survivors" series. Both the main DVD and the DVD that is boxed together with it of extra features (many of them not directly related to these canines) were fun to watch from beginning to end. For sure, this video publication is oriented to a broad, popular audience, so it is not surprising that there is some obvious manipulation of the viewer's feelings and considerable vulgarisation of the subject to make this more appealing to a wide public. That's okay with me; I am aware of all that, so just let myself "go with the flow" and smile now and then at the more obvious attempts to steer my sympathies to the animals and to the cause of conservation. Coyotes are a favourite species of mine and I like to write comical stories about them, and who does not find wolves fascinating, whether appealing for their vigour and beauty, or for how fearsome they can seem (and be)?

Kenny Loggins, the famous singer-songwriter whose career took off into the "pop charts" of the 1960s and 1970s takes part. He now looks considerably (but gracefully) aged compared to his sleekly youthful and lean-and-lanky beauteous self from the era in which he partnered Jim Messina. He sings and plays guitar in this documentary film with his eldest son, Crosby Loggins, who, like his dad, is tall and lanky, as they provide the music for "El Lobo" (but are not involved in the coyote feature). It is a pleasure to see Kenny Loggins sing as well as participate in the film with the naturalists.

If you love animals as much as I always have, and have a lingering affection for Kenney Loggins, you are bound to get some pleasure from this double-CD set!

RMS Queen Mary; queen of the queens,
RMS Queen Mary; queen of the queens,
by William J Duncan
Edition: Hardcover
8 used & new from CDN$ 102.60

4.0 out of 5 stars An Uncomplicated but Adult Account of the Great Ocean Liner, the R.M.S. Queen Mary, March 26 2013
William J. Duncan, the author of this historical account of one of the largest ships in history, is entertaining as well as informative. He peppers his text with numerous anecdotes, too, which add to its charm. Duncan knew the ship well and sailed on the Queen Mary's famous voyage, which he recounts in considerable detail, from Southampton, England across the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, around to the bottom of the South American continent (the R.M.S. Queen Mary being too immense in size to pass through the canal facilities in Panama), on to the Pacific Ocean to the ship's final home in Long Beach, Calif. (this book commentator's home town), where it has become a celebrated museum, hotel, and tourist attraction.

The book is not technical, hence it is the kind that any average reader can enjoy easily and, at 285 numbered pages, it is not too long to try his patience, either, nor is it too brief to do justice adequately to this great ship. The R.M.S. Titanic may be more famous, known for its grandeur and huge dimensions, but one needs to recall that the R.M.S. Queen Mary was close being TWICE THE SIZE of the Titanic, all measurements taken together! Big, dudes, really humongous! It was beautiful, too, the Queen Mary having the classic design and elegant contours of the great Cunard and White Star ocean liners. The very generous number of black-and-white photos more than illustrate how majestic and awesome this vessel really was and, as moored permanently in Long Beach, Calif., still is.

The book seems reliable for the most part. There are mistakes that come easily to an American writer, e.g. using some British aristocratic titles inappropriately, occasionally (but not often) mangling sea-faring terminology, and the like. One amusing error, to anyone who has served in the U.S. Navy ("Yours Truly" included) is giving the famous march's name as "Anchors Away" rather than as, to be correct, "Anchors Aweigh". Suchlike boo-boos are forgivable and the ship described is lovable, so get this one for the collection at home!

The makers of English fiction
The makers of English fiction
by William James Dawson
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars The Novels of the 18th and 19th Centuries, as a Christian Commentator of the Victorian-Edwardian Years Valued Them, March 25 2013
The author of this book, William James Dawson, was a turn-of-the-century (i.e. the 19th into the 20th) Christian writer. His publisher, F. H. Revell, which in 1905 published the "second edition" of this book (amounting, according to the firm's own pagination indications, to 316 pages) about prose literature, also issued some of Dawson's sermons and other religious writings among Revell's other books of which Dawson was author. Therefore, the reader should not be surprised if Dawson's studies of these selected English authors of fiction have a strongly Protestant Christian orientation, but Dawson was among such authors who were of wide sympathies and relatively broad views; indeed, the publisher, Revell, was a Christian firm, but one which came to cater primarily to the Fundamentalist sectarian and conservative Evangelical market (in later decades also for a "Neo-Evangelical" readership). This makes the company's work to publish various books (whether for the first time or after a publisher in Great Britain had handled them, too) by a Protestant author so unmistakably liberal, as W.J. Dawson certainly was, to seem rather unusual.

The writers to whom Dawson most directs his attention at chapter length (or even two), or at only somewhat less extended length than that, are Defoe, Fielding, Walpole, Austen, Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Eliot, Reade, Kingsley, Meredith, Hardy, and Stevenson. Others, of course, are mentioned along the way and there is even a chapter devoted to American authors, with substantial comments within it about novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and short fiction writer Edgar Allan Poe; more about those choices later.

There is, as well (and unsurprisingly), a chapter titled "Religion in Fiction", devoted largely to novelists (among them, J. H. Shorthouse) whose religious motives and intent go beyond the usual presence of religious thought that is present to some degree or other in so much of the English and American fiction of the period. In that chapter, true to his liberal mindset, Dawson gives the highest praise to some agnostic, unbelieving writers, especially to William Hale White (whose pseudonym was Mark Rutherford).

Dawson does not limit his comments, by any means, alone to the religious aspect of the thought and literary production of the various English novelists whom he singled out for treatment. Being a liberal (or "broad") Protestant of his time, the Christian viewpoint from which Dawson examines things is not at all of a narrow or cramped sort of mentality. Indeed, Dawson's views plausibly might seem even to be rather of proto-neo-orthodox orientation, caught up, as Dawson seems to have been, in the theological trend that went, by way of the 19th Century's Friedrich Schleiermacher, to coalesce, a bit later in the 20th Century than at the time of Dawson's book, in the theology of Karl Barth and of his neo-orthodox ilk. Of course, any Christian standpoint, however conservative or liberal it might be, will be welcome to some, or irrelevant to others, in coming to any understanding appreciation of English prose fiction.

Liberal or otherwise, the smugly Edwardian bourgeois values which Dawson espouses, probably from being so much a creature of his own time, are particularly evident in his comments on the novels of Charles Kingsley and of Sir Walter Scott. Dawson admires these novelists, surely, more for the ideals which they express than really for these authors' genuine literary standing, now considerably downgraded.

That is especially so in the case of Scott, whose excesses (of sentiment, romaniticised mediaevalism, and so forth), now so widely derided, seem to be among what Dawson, for his part, most relishes in that man's novels. As well, Dawson has much affection for what is most heroically virtuous and is most romantically antiquarian and quixotic in Scott's own life and tastes. Dawson's values are so utterly bourgeois and moralising that he seems to post vertable sentinels that inadvertently forbid entry to what are the real pleasures of the writing of a figure like George Meredith, obsessing approvingly over aspects of Meredith's art that most modern readers merely would tolerate for the sake of that which is much better therein.

As for Charles Kingsley, that man himself was manifestly bourgeois in both the best and in the most tiresome regards, but he also was a man and a writer of considerable energy and public virtue. Kingsley, indeed, is one of the writers perhaps most akin to Dawson's own character and ideals; although he criticises him, too, Dawson draws a sympathetic portrait of Kingsley which is fairly free of Dawson's own worst excesses in evaluating some of the other writers in his studies of them.

In the case of an author of such relentless atheistic and sceptical worldview as George Eliot (the female of that mannish name), the liberal in Dawson appreciates her principled stance and even, perhaps surprisingly, condones her sexual deviation from the Victorian-Edwardian norm. Perhaps the genuinely Christian core of Dawson's liberal Christianity seeks more resonances with evangelical hangover than Eliot herself really provides. At least Dawson found much in Eliot to which to relate, even if not necessarily on so sound a footing as he may have thought to be the case!

And so it goes with other writers whom Dawson discusses; he provides insights of real worth regarding some, a good example being his assessment of Charles Reade's personal and literary strengths and weaknesses, while, on the other hand, Dawson seems out-of-touch, too awash in sentiment, or just too mired in his liberal-evangelical-bourgeois values to convey to the reader anything of much value about so many of the other writers. The book is uneven, but it is worth dipping into for what is good within its pages.

Although the Dawson's writing is, for the most part, readable enough, if tinted with more than a little stuffiness and pomposity, sometmes - really too often! -- Dawson's prose becomes excessively florid. At times this putative scholar's style is as turgid and contrived, in its own different way, as the overly luxuriant manner that pervades the printed sermons of another (very celebrated) preacher, 19th century Boston's Phillips Brooks. When that occurs, Dawson's writing can induce sheer fatigue in the reader, due to the lush rhetorical moss which proliferates in such passages, rendering them tedious to plow through. An example of such a sluggishly enfeebled portion of Dawson's book is its chapter on Thomas Hardy.

Perhaps it is some unbending earnestness in Dawson's temperament that causes him to underestimate grossly the great contribution of the humourist, Mark Twain, whom Dawson only barely mentions in the American chapter of his book. Mark Twain was author who is every bit, in his own different way, of lterary stature akin to that of Nathaniel Hawthorne!

One has to wonder, too, about Dawson's own critical acumen, given, for instance, his praise (in the chapter centring on religious fiction of alike pious and staunchly unbelieving writers) for the likes of two smarmy passages, oozing sentiment, which he quotes from Joseph Henry Shorthouse. It is true that Dawson takes that novelist to task for what he regards as being yet worse in Shorthouse's prose, but if the quoted passages are among one which Dawson finds commendable (!!), one has to wonder about Dawson's literary judgment! If what Dawson quotes really be of the best that Shorthouse could accomplish, imagine the fetid swamp that so much of the rest of Shorthouse's saccharine prose must be! In the 1905 Revell edition, these quotes, both from Shorthouse's best remembered (i.e. least forgotten) novel, "John Inglesant", appear between pages 274 and 277, interspersed with Dawson's stomach-churningly admiring comments.

The writers to whom Dawson most directs his attention at chapter length (or even two), or at only somewhat less extended length than that, are Defoe, Fielding, Walpole, Austen, Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Eliot, Reade, Kingsley, Meredith, Hardy, and Stevenson. Others, of course, are mentioned along the way and there is even that chapter, already alluded to, which is devoted to American authors, with substantial comments within it about novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and short fiction writer Edgar Allan Poe. There is, as well and unsurprisingly, a chapter titled "Religion in Fiction", devoted largely to novelists (among them, unimpressively, Shorthouse, already mentioned) whose religious motives and intent go beyond the usual presence of religious thought or incident that are present to some degree or other in so much of the English and American fiction of the period. In that particular chapter, true to his liberal Protestant mindset, Dawson gives the highest praise to some agnostic, unbelieving writers, especially to William Hale White (whose pseudonym was Mark Rutherford).

Dawson is thoroughly of his era, i.e. the later Victorian and the Edwardian years prior to the First World War. His self-satisfied convictions about life and art lead him to pontificate on these and other grand matters insufferably (and too often!), a prime example of that being the book's concluding chapter, the "Concluding Survey", by which time the reader's patience has been strained to the very limit of endurance. However, before that sententious conclusion, Dawson has conveyed much useful information, including not a few at least partially valid judgments. Even if one does not enjoy the fiction or literary criticism from those years of the late Nineteenth Century and the very beginning of the 20th, Dawson's book at least provides a decent, straightforward specimen of the sensibility of those decades.

The makers of English fiction
The makers of English fiction
by Dawson William James
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars If It's an Edwardian Christian Man's Account of the English Novel That the Reader Wants, Here It Is, March 25 2013
The author of this book, William James Dawson, was a turn-of-the-century (i.e. the 19th into the 20th) Christian writer. His publisher, F. H. Revell, which in 1905 published the "second edition" of this book (amounting, according to the firm's own pagination indications, to 316 pages) about prose literature, also issued some of Dawson's sermons and other religious writings among Revell's other books of which Dawson was author. Therefore, the reader should not be surprised if Dawson's studies of these selected English authors of fiction have a strongly Protestant Christian orientation, but Dawson was among such authors who were of wide sympathies and relatively broad views; indeed, the publisher, Revell, was a Christian firm, but one which came to cater primarily to the Fundamentalist sectarian and conservative Evangelical market (in later decades also for a "Neo-Evangelical" readership). This makes the company's work to publish various books (whether for the first time or after a publisher in Great Britain had handled them, too) by a Protestant author so unmistakably liberal, as W.J. Dawson certainly was, to seem rather unusual.

The writers to whom Dawson most directs his attention at chapter length (or even two), or at only somewhat less extended length than that, are Defoe, Fielding, Walpole, Austen, Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Eliot, Reade, Kingsley, Meredith, Hardy, and Stevenson. Others, of course, are mentioned along the way and there is even a chapter devoted to American authors, with substantial comments within it about novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and short fiction writer Edgar Allan Poe; more about those choices later.

There is, as well (and unsurprisingly), a chapter titled "Religion in Fiction", devoted largely to novelists (among them, J. H. Shorthouse) whose religious motives and intent go beyond the usual presence of religious thought that is present to some degree or other in so much of the English and American fiction of the period. In that chapter, true to his liberal mindset, Dawson gives the highest praise to some agnostic, unbelieving writers, especially to William Hale White (whose pseudonym was Mark Rutherford).

Dawson does not limit his comments, by any means, alone to the religious aspect of the thought and literary production of the various English novelists whom he singled out for treatment. Being a liberal (or "broad") Protestant of his time, the Christian viewpoint from which Dawson examines things is not at all of a narrow or cramped sort of mentality. Indeed, Dawson's views plausibly might seem even to be rather of proto-neo-orthodox orientation, caught up, as Dawson seems to have been, in the theological trend that went, by way of the 19th Century's Friedrich Schleiermacher, to coalesce, a bit later in the 20th Century than at the time of Dawson's book, in the theology of Karl Barth and of his neo-orthodox ilk. Of course, any Christian standpoint, however conservative or liberal it might be, will be welcome to some, or irrelevant to others, in coming to any understanding appreciation of English prose fiction.

Liberal or otherwise, the smugly Edwardian bourgeois values which Dawson espouses, probably from being so much a creature of his own time, are particularly evident in his comments on the novels of Charles Kingsley and of Sir Walter Scott. Dawson admires these novelists, surely, more for the ideals which they express than really for these authors' genuine literary standing, now considerably downgraded.

That is especially so in the case of Scott, whose excesses (of sentiment, romaniticised mediaevalism, and so forth), now so widely derided, seem to be among what Dawson, for his part, most relishes in that man's novels. As well, Dawson has much affection for what is most heroically virtuous and is most romantically antiquarian and quixotic in Scott's own life and tastes. Dawson's values are so utterly bourgeois and moralising that he seems to post vertable sentinels that inadvertently forbid entry to what are the real pleasures of the writing of a figure like George Meredith, obsessing approvingly over aspects of Meredith's art that most modern readers merely would tolerate for the sake of that which is much better therein.

As for Charles Kingsley, that man himself was manifestly bourgeois in both the best and in the most tiresome regards, but he also was a man and a writer of considerable energy and public virtue. Kingsley, indeed, is one of the writers perhaps most akin to Dawson's own character and ideals; although he criticises him, too, Dawson draws a sympathetic portrait of Kingsley which is fairly free of Dawson's own worst excesses in evaluating some of the other writers in his studies of them.

In the case of an author of such relentless atheistic and sceptical worldview as George Eliot (the female of that mannish name), the liberal in Dawson appreciates her principled stance and even, perhaps surprisingly, condones her sexual deviation from the Victorian-Edwardian norm. Perhaps the genuinely Christian core of Dawson's liberal Christianity seeks more resonances with evangelical hangover than Eliot herself really provides. At least Dawson found much in Eliot to which to relate, even if not necessarily on so sound a footing as he may have thought to be the case!

And so it goes with other writers whom Dawson discusses; he provides insights of real worth regarding some, a good example being his assessment of Charles Reade's personal and literary strengths and weaknesses, while, on the other hand, Dawson seems out-of-touch, too awash in sentiment, or just too mired in his liberal-evangelical-bourgeois values to convey to the reader anything of much value about so many of the other writers. The book is uneven, but it is worth dipping into for what is good within its pages.

Although the Dawson's writing is, for the most part, readable enough, if tinted with more than a little stuffiness and pomposity, sometmes - really too often! -- Dawson's prose becomes excessively florid. At times this putative scholar's style is as turgid and contrived, in its own different way, as the overly luxuriant manner that pervades the printed sermons of another (very celebrated) preacher, 19th century Boston's Phillips Brooks. When that occurs, Dawson's writing can induce sheer fatigue in the reader, due to the lush rhetorical moss which proliferates in such passages, rendering them tedious to plow through. An example of such a sluggishly enfeebled portion of Dawson's book is its chapter on Thomas Hardy.

Perhaps it is some unbending earnestness in Dawson's temperament that causes him to underestimate grossly the great contribution of the humourist, Mark Twain, whom Dawson only barely mentions in the American chapter of his book. Mark Twain was author who is every bit, in his own different way, of lterary stature akin to that of Nathaniel Hawthorne!

One has to wonder, too, about Dawson's own critical acumen, given, for instance, his praise (in the chapter centring on religious fiction of alike pious and staunchly unbelieving writers) for the likes of two smarmy passages, oozing sentiment, which he quotes from Joseph Henry Shorthouse. It is true that Dawson takes that novelist to task for what he regards as being yet worse in Shorthouse's prose, but if the quoted passages are among one which Dawson finds commendable (!!), one has to wonder about Dawson's literary judgment! If what Dawson quotes really be of the best that Shorthouse could accomplish, imagine the fetid swamp that so much of the rest of Shorthouse's saccharine prose must be! In the 1905 Revell edition, these quotes, both from Shorthouse's best remembered (i.e. least forgotten) novel, "John Inglesant", appear between pages 274 and 277, interspersed with Dawson's stomach-churningly admiring comments.

The writers to whom Dawson most directs his attention at chapter length (or even two), or at only somewhat less extended length than that, are Defoe, Fielding, Walpole, Austen, Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Eliot, Reade, Kingsley, Meredith, Hardy, and Stevenson. Others, of course, are mentioned along the way and there is even that chapter, already alluded to, which is devoted to American authors, with substantial comments within it about novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and short fiction writer Edgar Allan Poe. There is, as well and unsurprisingly, a chapter titled "Religion in Fiction", devoted largely to novelists (among them, unimpressively, Shorthouse, already mentioned) whose religious motives and intent go beyond the usual presence of religious thought or incident that are present to some degree or other in so much of the English and American fiction of the period. In that particular chapter, true to his liberal Protestant mindset, Dawson gives the highest praise to some agnostic, unbelieving writers, especially to William Hale White (whose pseudonym was Mark Rutherford).

Dawson is thoroughly of his era, i.e. the later Victorian and the Edwardian years prior to the First World War. His self-satisfied convictions about life and art lead him to pontificate on these and other grand matters insufferably (and too often!), a prime example of that being the book's concluding chapter, the "Concluding Survey", by which time the reader's patience has been strained to the very limit of endurance. However, before that sententious conclusion, Dawson has conveyed much useful information, including not a few at least partially valid judgments. Even if one does not enjoy the fiction or literary criticism from those years of the late Nineteenth Century and the very beginning of the 20th, Dawson's book at least provides a decent, straightforward specimen of the sensibility of those decades.

The Makers of English Fiction
The Makers of English Fiction
by William James Dawson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 32.35
5 used & new from CDN$ 27.55

3.0 out of 5 stars The Christian Man's Honest and Earnest (but Perhaps Not Really Fully Adequate, for All That!) History of the English Novel, March 25 2013
The author of this book, William James Dawson, was a turn-of-the-century (i.e. the 19th into the 20th) Christian writer. His publisher, F. H. Revell, which in 1905 published the "second edition" of this book (amounting, according to the firm's own pagination indications, to 316 pages) about prose literature, also issued some of Dawson's sermons and other religious writings among Revell's other books of which Dawson was author. Therefore, the reader should not be surprised if Dawson's studies of these selected English authors of fiction have a strongly Protestant Christian orientation, but Dawson was among such authors who were of wide sympathies and relatively broad views; indeed, the publisher, Revell, was a Christian firm, but one which came to cater primarily to the Fundamentalist sectarian and conservative Evangelical market (in later decades also for a "Neo-Evangelical" readership). This makes the company's work to publish various books (whether for the first time or after a publisher in Great Britain had handled them, too) by a Protestant author so unmistakably liberal, as W.J. Dawson certainly was, to seem rather unusual.

The writers to whom Dawson most directs his attention at chapter length (or even two), or at only somewhat less extended length than that, are Defoe, Fielding, Walpole, Austen, Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Eliot, Reade, Kingsley, Meredith, Hardy, and Stevenson. Others, of course, are mentioned along the way and there is even a chapter devoted to American authors, with substantial comments within it about novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and short fiction writer Edgar Allan Poe; more about those choices later.

There is, as well (and unsurprisingly), a chapter titled "Religion in Fiction", devoted largely to novelists (among them, J. H. Shorthouse) whose religious motives and intent go beyond the usual presence of religious thought that is present to some degree or other in so much of the English and American fiction of the period. In that chapter, true to his liberal mindset, Dawson gives the highest praise to some agnostic, unbelieving writers, especially to William Hale White (whose pseudonym was Mark Rutherford).

Dawson does not limit his comments, by any means, alone to the religious aspect of the thought and literary production of the various English novelists whom he singled out for treatment. Being a liberal (or "broad") Protestant of his time, the Christian viewpoint from which Dawson examines things is not at all of a narrow or cramped sort of mentality. Indeed, Dawson's views plausibly might seem even to be rather of proto-neo-orthodox orientation, caught up, as Dawson seems to have been, in the theological trend that went, by way of the 19th Century's Friedrich Schleiermacher, to coalesce, a bit later in the 20th Century than at the time of Dawson's book, in the theology of Karl Barth and of his neo-orthodox ilk. Of course, any Christian standpoint, however conservative or liberal it might be, will be welcome to some, or irrelevant to others, in coming to any understanding appreciation of English prose fiction.

Liberal or otherwise, the smugly Edwardian bourgeois values which Dawson espouses, probably from being so much a creature of his own time, are particularly evident in his comments on the novels of Charles Kingsley and of Sir Walter Scott. Dawson admires these novelists, surely, more for the ideals which they express than really for these authors' genuine literary standing, now considerably downgraded.

That is especially so in the case of Scott, whose excesses (of sentiment, romaniticised mediaevalism, and so forth), now so widely derided, seem to be among what Dawson, for his part, most relishes in that man's novels. As well, Dawson has much affection for what is most heroically virtuous and is most romantically antiquarian and quixotic in Scott's own life and tastes. Dawson's values are so utterly bourgeois and moralising that he seems to post vertable sentinels that inadvertently forbid entry to what are the real pleasures of the writing of a figure like George Meredith, obsessing approvingly over aspects of Meredith's art that most modern readers merely would tolerate for the sake of that which is much better therein.

As for Charles Kingsley, that man himself was manifestly bourgeois in both the best and in the most tiresome regards, but he also was a man and a writer of considerable energy and public virtue. Kingsley, indeed, is one of the writers perhaps most akin to Dawson's own character and ideals; although he criticises him, too, Dawson draws a sympathetic portrait of Kingsley which is fairly free of Dawson's own worst excesses in evaluating some of the other writers in his studies of them.

In the case of an author of such relentless atheistic and sceptical worldview as George Eliot (the female of that mannish name), the liberal in Dawson appreciates her principled stance and even, perhaps surprisingly, condones her sexual deviation from the Victorian-Edwardian norm. Perhaps the genuinely Christian core of Dawson's liberal Christianity seeks more resonances with evangelical hangover than Eliot herself really provides. At least Dawson found much in Eliot to which to relate, even if not necessarily on so sound a footing as he may have thought to be the case!

And so it goes with other writers whom Dawson discusses; he provides insights of real worth regarding some, a good example being his assessment of Charles Reade's personal and literary strengths and weaknesses, while, on the other hand, Dawson seems out-of-touch, too awash in sentiment, or just too mired in his liberal-evangelical-bourgeois values to convey to the reader anything of much value about so many of the other writers. The book is uneven, but it is worth dipping into for what is good within its pages.

Although the Dawson's writing is, for the most part, readable enough, if tinted with more than a little stuffiness and pomposity, sometmes - really too often! -- Dawson's prose becomes excessively florid. At times this putative scholar's style is as turgid and contrived, in its own different way, as the overly luxuriant manner that pervades the printed sermons of another (very celebrated) preacher, 19th century Boston's Phillips Brooks. When that occurs, Dawson's writing can induce sheer fatigue in the reader, due to the lush rhetorical moss which proliferates in such passages, rendering them tedious to plow through. An example of such a sluggishly enfeebled portion of Dawson's book is its chapter on Thomas Hardy.

Perhaps it is some unbending earnestness in Dawson's temperament that causes him to underestimate grossly the great contribution of the humourist, Mark Twain, whom Dawson only barely mentions in the American chapter of his book. Mark Twain was author who is every bit, in his own different way, of lterary stature akin to that of Nathaniel Hawthorne!

One has to wonder, too, about Dawson's own critical acumen, given, for instance, his praise (in the chapter centring on religious fiction of alike pious and staunchly unbelieving writers) for the likes of two smarmy passages, oozing sentiment, which he quotes from Joseph Henry Shorthouse. It is true that Dawson takes that novelist to task for what he regards as being yet worse in Shorthouse's prose, but if the quoted passages are among one which Dawson finds commendable (!!), one has to wonder about Dawson's literary judgment! If what Dawson quotes really be of the best that Shorthouse could accomplish, imagine the fetid swamp that so much of the rest of Shorthouse's saccharine prose must be! In the 1905 Revell edition, these quotes, both from Shorthouse's best remembered (i.e. least forgotten) novel, "John Inglesant", appear between pages 274 and 277, interspersed with Dawson's stomach-churningly admiring comments.

The writers to whom Dawson most directs his attention at chapter length (or even two), or at only somewhat less extended length than that, are Defoe, Fielding, Walpole, Austen, Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Eliot, Reade, Kingsley, Meredith, Hardy, and Stevenson. Others, of course, are mentioned along the way and there is even that chapter, already alluded to, which is devoted to American authors, with substantial comments within it about novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and short fiction writer Edgar Allan Poe. There is, as well and unsurprisingly, a chapter titled "Religion in Fiction", devoted largely to novelists (among them, unimpressively, Shorthouse, already mentioned) whose religious motives and intent go beyond the usual presence of religious thought or incident that are present to some degree or other in so much of the English and American fiction of the period. In that particular chapter, true to his liberal Protestant mindset, Dawson gives the highest praise to some agnostic, unbelieving writers, especially to William Hale White (whose pseudonym was Mark Rutherford).

Dawson is thoroughly of his era, i.e. the later Victorian and the Edwardian years prior to the First World War. His self-satisfied convictions about life and art lead him to pontificate on these and other grand matters insufferably (and too often!), a prime example of that being the book's concluding chapter, the "Concluding Survey", by which time the reader's patience has been strained to the very limit of endurance. However, before that sententious conclusion, Dawson has conveyed much useful information, including not a few at least partially valid judgments. Even if one does not enjoy the fiction or literary criticism from those years of the late Nineteenth Century and the very beginning of the 20th, Dawson's book at least provides a decent, straightforward specimen of the sensibility of those decades.

Telling Lies in America+Dig to
Telling Lies in America+Dig to
DVD ~ DVD

5.0 out of 5 stars A Film Passed Over in the Awards Ceremonies, but an Amply Full Depiction of Life and Music in the U. S. of A. in the 1960s, March 25 2013
See the various reviews on Amazon's U.S. WWW site for the details of plot and suchlike matters. I like this film for a lot of personal reasons, among other ones, which is what I concentrate upon here. I was the age (maybe plus a year) of the Hungarian immigrant teen, Karchy, in the year of the film's setting at the onset of the 1960s. I recall "Cleavageland" (affectionately erotic name for Cleveland, the supposedly unsexy city of northern Ohio!) itself admittedly from a bit later, when I did my graduate studies at the beginning of the following decade (1970s) in Ohio, in Kent, not far away from Cleveland (though closer to Akron) where campus life at Kent State University certainly included a lot more sex (and pop music) than in ever-so-swinging California and Massachusetts, where I had done my undergraduate studies! Ohioans, however incongruous it may seem to some, always have been hardy and randy folk, as well as practical and pious.

I remember the music really, really well and even performed r&b and "soul" music in public (on double bass, sometimes on piano too) during the first half of the 1960s in a mixed black and white group, and sang and played in gospel music (in both black and white idioms). None of that amounted to much, but it did help to understand and to experience directly the power of that music. What is more to the point, and which does conjure up very effectively the heat that r&b/soul music of those years could generate, is the song that Karchie's black friend, Amos (acted by Damen Fletcher), and his musicians perform a few times here and there in the film, and which they come to record thanks to Billy Magic's intervention, as the motion picture tells its story. I remember, too, the "Payola" scandals that rocked (forgive the pun!) North American news-reporting during the 1950s and 1960s. I remember Church life, too, in those last years just prior to the Second Vatican Council. It's all here in "Telling Lies in America", as I still recall vividly the "look" and "feel" of the time, the furniture, urban architecture and decoration, fads, male and female hair styles, clothing, etc. of 1950s and early 1960s working class America, to which this film is visually faithful to a remarkable extent. Also, of course, I remember the awkwardness of youth that Karchy (played by Brad Renfro) is living through in the film.

This is a fine movie. Kevin Bacon is terrific as the sleazy disc-jockey "Billy Magic", who takes Karchy under his wing and makes him feel important as his assistant, introduces him to some gratifying as well as degrading things in life, only to betray his boyish trust. However, Billy does right by Karchy and by Amos, too, due to some angry (and potentially career-killing) pressure from the white kid to help his black friend, which impels Karchy to come through with the legal break (in his payola case testimony) that gets Billy Magic out of trouble, despite potential harm to Karchy himself in misrepresenting the facts. In the face of some worrisome pressure from the federal agents, intent on ruining Billy, which they exert upon Karchy and on his aging father, eventually both gain their U.S. citizenship, a kindly judge realising the human decency of the father and son, so the film ends upbeat. For music, drama, good acting, and more, this film is a winner!

Telling Lies in America
Telling Lies in America
DVD ~ Kevin Bacon
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 39.98
9 used & new from CDN$ 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Little Film about Music, Life, and Growing up in America of Its Early 1960s National Vintage, March 23 2013
This review is from: Telling Lies in America (DVD)
See the various reviews on Amazon's U.S. WWW site for the details of plot and suchlike matters. I like this film for a lot of personal reasons, among other ones, which is what I concentrate upon here. I was the age (maybe plus a year) of the Hungarian immigrant teen, Karchy, in the year of the film's setting at the onset of the 1960s. I recall "Cleavageland" (affectionately erotic name for Cleveland, the supposedly unsexy city of northern Ohio!) admittedly from a bit later, when I did my graduate studies at the beginning of the following decade (1970s) in Ohio, in Kent, not far away from Cleveland (though closer to Akron) where campus life at Kent State University certainly included a lot more sex (and pop music) than in ever-so-swinging California and Massachusetts, where I had done my undergraduate studies! Ohioans, however incongruous it may seem to some, always have been hardy and randy folk, as well as practical and pious.

I remember the music really, really well and even performed r&b and "soul" music in public (on double bass, sometimes on piano too) during the first half of the 1960s in a mixed black and white group, and sang and played in gospel music (in both black and white idioms). None of that amounted to much, but it did help to understand and to experience directly the power of that music. What is more to the point, and which does conjure up very effectively the heat that r&b/soul music of those years could generate, is the song that Karchie's black friend, Amos (acted by Damen Fletcher), and his musicians perform a few times here and there in the film, and which they come to record thanks to Billy Magic's intervention, as the motion picture tells its story. I remember, too, the "Payola" scandals that rocked (forgive the pun!) North American news-reporting during the 1950s and 1960s. I remember Church life, too, in those last years just prior to the Second Vatican Council. It's all here in "Telling Lies in America", as I still recall vividly the "look" and "feel" of the time, the furniture, urban architecture and decoration, fads, male and female hair styles, clothing, etc. of 1950s and early 1960s working class America, to which this film is visually faithful to a remarkable extent. Also, of course, I remember the awkwardness of youth that Karchy (played by Brad Renfro) is living through in the film.

This is a fine movie. Kevin Bacon is terrific as the sleazy disc-jockey "Billy Magic", who takes Karchy under his wing and makes him feel important as his assistant, introduces him to some gratifying as well as degrading things in life, only to betray his boyish trust. However, Billy does right by Karchy and by Amos, too, due to some angry (and potentially career-killing) pressure from the white kid to help his black friend, which impels Karchy to come through with the legal break (in his payola case testimony) that gets Billy Magic out of trouble, despite potential harm to Karchy himself in misrepresenting the facts. In the face of some worrisome pressure from the federal agents, intent on ruining Billy, which they exert upon Karchy and on his aging father, eventually both gain their U.S. citizenship, a kindly judge realising the human decency of the father and son, so the film ends upbeat. For music, drama, good acting, and more, this film is a winner!

The Favor
The Favor
VHS

3.0 out of 5 stars A Movie That's Memorable for One Ingredient, i.e. Gloriously Youthful & Beautiful Brad Pitt, but That's Enough to Recommend It, March 23 2013
This review is from: The Favor (VHS Tape)
This is Brad Pitt's movie, a blessedly early one. It does not amount to much as script or film; essentially it is a crappy li'l TV sit-com blown up to movie dimensions. Or one could say that it is a specimen of imitation Neil Simon. The acting of the two female leads, Harley Jane Kozak (as Kathy) and Elizabeth McGovern (as Emily) is heavy-handed and all too obvious. What is good in the film is the contribution of the two most important of the male leads, Bill Pullman (as Peter) and Brad Pitt (as Elliot), fine actors who do their best to redeem the piece of work to which they contribute. Ken Wahl, who plays the backwoods macho masher Tom (whom Kathy also calls Tommy), over whom the two leading ladies make such a fuss, is not on the level of Pullman and Pitt, but at least Wahl's acting is less stilted than what the two actresses playing the rivals for his amourous attentions deliver with such archly mannered coyness.

No matter all that. One of the early scenes shows Brad Pitt, in the role of Elliot, an artist who is an aspiring and upcoming young painter and an accomplished Lothario (though he is more faithful to his lady of the moment than she is to him), who is in bed with Emily, the unmarried promiscuous wench (with whom the artist also is professionally allied) of the two 30-something leading ladies, Kathy being a reluctantly faithful housewife, with wandering eyes and fantasies, married to Peter. The viewer sees actor Pitt lying in bed with actress McGovern, bedcovers halfway down his body, then he gets up, puts on his pants, but remains shirtless. The camera seems to be making love to him. Why not? What young human male possibly could be more worthy of such attention on the part of a movie camera? Brad Pitt the man-boy is so heart- searingly gorgeous, of body, of radiantly lovely, silkily smooth complexion, and of sweetly appealing face, that it just beggars verbal description to tell here of Pitt's beauty adequately! What happens in the silly complexities of plot that follow very well may seem irrelevant to many viewers regarding why this movie might be worth seeing, after that stunning display of Pitt smiling, showing off his nicely muscled (but not excessively overdeveloped) torso, and posing variously and always ingratiatingly.

The film is "The Favor" (i.e., favour, on DVD, widescreen and full screen on opposite sides, as Metro-Goldwin-Meyer Home Entertainment 4003020 in the U. S. of A. and Canada) from 1991, dating from a year earlier than "A River Runs through It" which so memorably showcases Brad Pitt's extraordinary physical and personal charm. At least, 1991 is the date that appears on the screen itself at the end of "The Favo[u]r"; a reference source or two say 1994, but the copyright date which the film credits display and that the DVD box bears is probably more reliable. Anyway, anyone who likes Pitt in "A River Runs through It", or in others of Brad Pitt's similarly early films, owes it to himself or to herself to see "The Favo[u]r"!

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