ARRAY(0xfa54078)
 
Profile for railroadgin > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by railroadgin
Top Reviewer Ranking: 489,830
Helpful Votes: 1

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
"railroadgin" (White Plains, New York USA)

Page: 1
pixel
Love, Greg & Lauren
Love, Greg & Lauren
by Greg Manning
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.36
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars An essential title in the 9/11 library, May 1 2002
This review is from: Love, Greg & Lauren (Hardcover)
A cottage industry of Sept. 11 books is now under construction. Most will cover the same horrific ground. Some will advance our understanding of events leading to the attacks, others might suggest courses of action and new perspectives for a post-9/11 world.
None will have the power of this book. Love Greg & Lauren is being promoted first and foremost as a love story and rightly so. But it is also literature of the first order, in the same way that Samuel Pepys's diaries of London in the time of plague and fire were, as a real-time transcript of people caught in the crosshairs of history. Moreover, it follows the edict of great factual narrative: Report Truly and Well.
This Greg Manning does, in a book notable for its honesty and its eye for detail. The Mannings' lives were changed irrevocably that day, and just the sheer cruel swing of fortune takes your breath away: Greg is late to work and so survives, though most of his colleagues die, while Lauren, despite not being at her desk in the doomed Cantor Fitzgerald offices, is engulfed by a fireball anyway.
The grim tally of the thousands who died that day excludes the far smaller group of attack victims who lived but required hospitalization. And few of those hospitalized were as badly injured as Lauren Manning.
These daily emails are dispatches from a front line lived out over months in a place past the headlines -- a burn unit that, as Greg writes, became "Sub Zero" for the families who were frozen in place praying for their loved ones' recovery and insulated from the swirl of events beyond the hospital doors.
At times, the dispatches are dry eyed and clinical, patiently explaining the complicated yet fascinating recovery process for burn victims. But they also include a widening circle of individuals and events, life in a Manhattan remade by 9/11. Greg's description of his visit to Ground Zero three weeks after the attacks is particularly memorable.
Even so, the letters are restrained and almost laconic; they merely describe the events and actions, never telling you how to feel. And the humor -- yes, there is humor -- is playful and sly. It all makes for great reading, with several dramatic swings, even though we know how things turn out. Indeed, it's the daily reports of how Lauren claws her way to recovery that give this book its power. When Lauren, weeks in a medicated coma, first speaks, it's absolutely transporting.
Those posters who don't like Love, Greg and Lauren are entitled to their opinions, but their reasonings are curiously incomplete. One says the book wouldn't have been published if not for its connection to Sept. 11. Yes, and your point would be?
Another says the book should have covered other issues, but never says what those are.
And for those who feel it somewhat problematic that the Mannings are comparatively well-heeled (or were before the hospital bills), well, that's the thing about history. It rarely selects its chroniclers according to our wishes. As it is, we are very fortunate that Greg Manning is so gifted a writer. Day by day, he produced a book that is both a sweetly intimate account and a document for the ages. Well done.

Wrecking Ball
Wrecking Ball
Price: CDN$ 10.40
24 used & new from CDN$ 4.44

4.0 out of 5 stars a breakout album, but NOT indispensable., Sept. 25 2001
This review is from: Wrecking Ball (Audio CD)
For years, I was urged to get this album, and was quite glad to do so recently. All those great songs by songwriters I admire? That patented Lanois reverb sound? And, not least, Emmylou's ethereal voice?
It's a can't miss, I agree. And the album signalled a new stage for Ms. Harris, who I feel had previously always seemed more comfortable in a supporting role than in taking the turn in the spotlight.
Still, to a degree, Wrecking Ball plays it safe. This is an album of COVERS, after all, great though they are.
If you have bucks for only one recent Emmylou album, the indispensable pick -- the album where she completes her evolution into a singer-songwriter with some fiercely intelligent, achingly beautiful compositions of her own -- is Red Dirt Girl.
Wrecking Ball, though, is an interesting and compelling companion album, to see how Ms. Harris's ambitions spurred her and where they would eventually lead. As weigh stations go, this is a lovely listen.

Wrecking Ball
Wrecking Ball
Price: CDN$ 10.40
24 used & new from CDN$ 4.44

4.0 out of 5 stars a breakout album, but NOT indispensable., Sept. 24 2001
This review is from: Wrecking Ball (Audio CD)
For years, I had been urged to get this album, and indeed, was glad to do so just recently. All those great songs by songwriters I admire? That patented reverb sound any Lanois-produced album features? And, not least, Emmylou's ethereal voice?
It's a can't miss, I agree. And this album signalled a new stage for Ms. Harris, who I feel had previously always seemed more comfortable in a supporting vocal role than in taking the spotlight.
Still, though, Wrecking Ball was, to a degree, playing it safe. This is an album of COVERS after all, great though they are.
If you have bucks for only one recent Emmylou Harris album, then the indispensable pick -- the album where Ms. Harris completes her evolution into a singer-songwriter with some fiercely intelligent, achingly beautiful compositions of her own -- is Red Dirt Girl.
Wrecking Ball, though, is an interesting and compelling companion album, to see how her ambitions spurred her and where they would eventually lead. As weigh stations go, this is a lovely listen.

On Bullfighting
On Bullfighting
by A. L. Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
42 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A deft bit of work, engrossing and informative, Aug. 21 2001
This review is from: On Bullfighting (Paperback)
No, this isn't the definitive book on bullfighting -- it wasn't intended to be, and very few english-language books even pretend to address the subject well. This is a fine companion piece to the voluminous Hemingway "Death in the Afternoon," now almost 70 years old, and in its way better, since it is thoroughly researched and analyzes bullfighting as a window onto the spanish soul without as much romanticism -- or at least, the romanticism is salted with Kennedy's mordant reflections. It also brings current the state of the corrida, discussing contemporary matadors along with the legendary ones.
This is not a book for a summer read on the beach, or a light flip-through; it insists on strict attention. But the careful reader will come away learning something of Federico Garcia Lorca, the poet; and duende; and many tricks of the corrida that only the true aficionado knows. and anyone who has ever attended a bullfight will nod appreciatively at this line: "The spectacle appears to be photogenic, but not filmic -- to show best in frozen moments of poise, set aside from the vagaries of the bull, the slips and fumbles of the man, the interludes and distractions which continually break the sustained artistry described in tales of the matador greats."
The reviewer below who claims the author viewed perhaps four bullfights is well off the mark; while Kennedy never says exactly how many, my count has the number of corridas well into double digits, with six bullfights each.

100 Selected Poems
100 Selected Poems
by e. e. cummings
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.64
45 used & new from CDN$ 2.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars for my money, the single best volume of 20th century poetry, Aug. 3 2001
This review is from: 100 Selected Poems (Paperback)
sometimes specifics are unnecessary. truly great art somehow transcends all assessment. it simply IS...and its admirers can simply luxuriate in its ineffable perfection.
this volume of cummings' work captures the exquisite moments of love in bloom -- sometimes worshipfully, more often with all the playfulness that new lovers share.
joy radiates from every page, even when suffused with a sense of how fragile and temporal such moments are. a profound gratitude informs every piece, no matter how puckish. i read pieces from this collection whenever i need to feel young, or fresh, or renewed.
oh yeah, and chicks dig it.

Napalm & Silly Putty
Napalm & Silly Putty
by George Carlin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.41
62 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars appalling, really, considering the talent involved, July 20 2001
This review is from: Napalm & Silly Putty (Hardcover)
I was given this book as a gift, from someone who knows my admiration for Carlin's comedy and social commentary. He is as caustic and as merciless as we need, yet his bruising wit is usually fortified by his image as someone who avoids association with the ... that clogs our culture.
Who figured he would add to it? All the points raised in other reviews are on the mark: The material here is astonishingly lame and badly assembled -- throwaway lines, retread themes from his shows, unedited rambles and no defining features. Totally unmemorable and immediately disposable.
Indeed, there's so little material in the first place that the book resorts to that trendy-in-publishing use of big airy type and different sized fonts on each page. Sort of like the "new American cuisine" movement in restaurants a few years ago that meant really small portions of food on big, big plates.
In his defense, Carlin has never claimed any particular fondness for or sense of obligation to his audience. I would have thought, though, that he'd have enough self-respect that he wouldn't put out something so damn weak. Wrong.
I'm reminded of the classic Simpsons show when Bart attended a summer camp run by Krusty the Klown that was little more than a prison. "Why, Krusty, why?" Bart asked at the end. "Because they drove a truckload of cash up to my house," Krusty blurted out. Ah. Okay. Got it.

Broken Things
Broken Things
Price: CDN$ 13.15
15 used & new from CDN$ 8.00

5.0 out of 5 stars rest easy, america. alt-country has its loretta., July 13 2001
This review is from: Broken Things (Audio CD)
i do so try not to gush, but ms. miller astonishes, both on this album, and in concert with her husband, buddy. her voice goes from a nanci griffith little-girl whisper to a hard catty yowl, with stops along the entire emotional spectrum...she's the Real Deal, maybe the Realest.
this album is its own reward: not a bad cut on it, shows unusual range, both musically and lyrically, and built for heavy rotation on your cd player. personal favorites jump depending on the mood -- right now it's the title cut, and "i know why the river runs."
why she's not better known to the general public is one of those eternal mysteries -- but at least that means you can see her in the smaller nightclubs when she comes through town. She's certainly got a devoted following in the singer-songwriter community, and can be found on albums by everyone from emmylou to kasey chambers. Like "The Captain"? julie's singing harmony.
be warned. this album will cast a spell. over time, you may start craving a listen like a caffeine addict needs espresso...but i envy you your first hearing of Broken Things, like i envy anyone's first trip to paris.

The Captain
The Captain
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 13.95
7 used & new from CDN$ 2.19

3.0 out of 5 stars decent, just not great, June 21 2001
This review is from: The Captain (Audio CD)
This is a debut album from an interesting musician with a fetching voice whose signature song The Captain is stop-in-your-tracks beautiful.
Because of that song and chambers' performance -- raw, aching, haunting -- she has a decent career ahead of her. A piece that singular is enough to excite most ears, and build a fair amount of buzz.
But aside from one or two other songs, this album has nothing that even comes close to the title track. It's just a mix of gospel, country and alt-folk tunes that are pleasant enough but lacking the sheer naked honesty of The Captain and thus forgettable the moment the disc is over.
PLUG: You want an album packed through and through with the kind of emotional electricity of The Captain? Look no further than the liner notes: Chambers credits her back-up singer on The Captain, Julie Miller, with the voice of angels, and she's not far off. Pick up Miller's "Broken Things" and you'll know the future of alt-country is in extremely fine hands.....

The Betrayal Of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President
The Betrayal Of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President
by Vincent Bugliosi
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.50
60 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars exposing the core LIE of our time............, May 21 2001
as others have noted, this book is really just a way to ensure that bugliosi's excellent essay in The Nation is preserved for a wider readership and, truly, for history. Years from now, students seeking to gain a sense of the outrage stirred by the court's "ruling" -- quotemarks because of the absolute legal bankruptcy of the decision -- will at least have this essay as a gifted distillation of the case AGAINST the court.
The original essay is the jewel of the book, though to fatten it up to booklength, a few bells and whistles were added. The forwards by molly ivins and gerry spence, while tasty, are snacks, and the extensive footnotes bugliosi added to the essay -- there were only 7 in the original article -- actually slow down the sheer urgent velocity of the indictment; they could have used a bit of judicious editing.
on the other hand, bugliosi has also added a concise and insightful summary of how the case got to the court -- vastly more relevant than 99 percent of the news accounts now in book form.
to those who would argue that -- in ruling on behalf of bush in a case it would have customarily denied a hearing to -- the court did nothing more than the florida supreme court did on behalf of al gore, bugliosi makes one ineradicable point.
set aside the fact that the fla. court grounded its decisions in established state law, while the supreme court did not find a single relevant federal precedent for its own actions; set aside also the fact that the fla. court's actions were well within the bounds of customary judicial review, while the supreme court's behavior and ruling were not only unprecedented, but it trashed every belief the court had previously claimed to hold paramount. the unavoidable, damning truth is, as bugliosi writes, the fla. court ruled in favor of counting every legal vote, while the supreme court of the united states ruled to suppress the counting of those votes.
may the felonious five -- as bugliosi calls rehnquist, thomas, kennedy, o'connor and their presumed leader, scalia -- know that infamy is theirs, forever.

Eventide
Eventide
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 13.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 9.95

5.0 out of 5 stars a stunner, filled with finely polished pop gems, May 15 2001
This review is from: Eventide (Audio CD)
i stumbled across grey eye glances at my local theatre two years ago, when they were to open for jennifer kimball. instead, to my surprise, kimball -- formerly part of the story, with jonatha brooke -- opted to open for grey eye glances. puzzling, until GEG strummed the first shimmering electric chords to their first song of the night's set. kimball was no dope. as good as her brand of mostly acoustic folk was, she could NOT have followed this act.
GEG has as polished and dazzling a sound as any of the great arena-anthemic bands of the 90's, and yes, i include U2. The songs are dense-packed with strong, memorable melodies, intelligent lyrics and soaring choruses; arrangements are not subtle, but clearly levels above conventional material. Lead singer Jennifer Nobel has a major set of pipes, really a superior voice to front a high-octane band like this.
After the show, the band hung out front to sell their cd's and meet the enthusiastic audience. jennifer herself suggested Eventide as the album that most reflected their performance. and from Hard to Halfway Back to Passing of the Evening, the album delivers. There's really not a bad cut on it.
because it stays within the safer ranges of pop harmonics, i would customarily give Eventide a 4-star rating. But the sheer delight of discovery, and the fact that it bears up under repeated -- and i do mean repeated -- listenings led me to confer all 5 stars. why hold back? the band doesn't.

Page: 1