Monday, August 31, 2009

"My Life" abridged audio version By Bill Clinton

mylife"My Life" abridged audio version
By Bill Clinton
read by author
Produced by Random House Audio
Approx 6 hours

Ever since I heard that President Bill Clinton wrote a book that was just over a thousand pages in length I was curious to find out what all he wrote. Clinton did serve two terms as President pretty much covering the 90s as president.he fought to balance the federal budget, presided over a government shutdown, beat back a conservative cultural backlash, skirmished with an ornery Saddam Hussein, ended a genocidal crisis in Bosnia, accelerated the Mideast peace process until its eventual collapse, and began to deal with the budding threat posed by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. But what Clinton is most remembered for are the scandals that plagued his efforts. Beginning with Gennifer Flowers in the 1992 campaign, to Whitewater, Travelgate, the FBI file scandal, Paula Jones and ultimately the Monica Lewinsky affair that led to his historic impeachment, Clinton endured what then First Lady Hillary Clinton termed a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to push him from office. So I'm guessing he may have had a lot to say and maybe a thousand pages could be filled.

I then took the easy way out and listened to the the abridged audio version of the book. Usually I steer away from abridged versions of a book but this time I wanted to know but at the same time the size of the book scared me off a bit. I do wish I had read the full version now and will probably be picking up that book sometime soon. But for now I think I got a good insight.

The book does do a great job of covering the decade of the 90s in politics. Many things that went through the White House affected America culturally. This book would be a nice primer when studying history and wanting to tackle the politics of the 90s. Keep in mind this is from one point of view and many of the issues were hard to look at in a black and white view. It was nice however to get his take on many of the scandals and controversies that surrounded his political career.

The book being read by President Clinton himself, seems like that could be the only way. It is nice to hear the emotion in his voice during the reading. Whenever he would talk about Ken Starr you could tell there was a touch of animosity toward Starr. As a piece of history this is a privilege to have a president speak of his presidency and life.

Speaking of Ken Starr, one of the many insights learned in this book I learned was that there was more to Ken Starr than just investigating the Monica Lewinski matter. Ken Starr was doing constantly trying to find bugs in the Clinton White House, and the Lewinski was the only thing he could find that would smear the President.

So, if you are interested in the book but afraid to tackle the full thousand or so pages give the audio book a try, I'm glad I did.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:30 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"I Am America...and So Can You" by Stephen Colbert (Grand Central Publishing 2007)

In the world of political and current events humor nothing has ever been better than the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. That show launched the career of Steve Carell and has featured other alum such Lewis Black, David & Amy Sedaris and lots more. But most importantly the spin-off "The Colbert Report" starring Stephen Colbert. In a style that "emulates" Bill O'Reilly, Stephen Colbert makes politics fun again.

On the "Report" Colbert proceeds to prove to America he is right. But in a way that pokes fun and at the same time giving the audience something to think about. This book takes that spin and creates a gyroscope of huge fun that if you're not careful you may end up laughing out loud and maybe realize you are laughing at yourself.

Colbert has strong feelings and opinions on many topics and expresses them throughout this book. I should warn you just when the opinion starts to make a little sense Colbert rips with the absurdity and leaves you with your sides aching with laughter. Some of the topics covered in the book are; Homosexuality, Religion, Immigration, The Family, Old People, Sports and more.

An example of some of the absurdity would be when talking about family Colbert has this to say:
"Besides, it doesn't matter how my parents raised me, because I loved my parents. It's in the Bible: 'Honor thy Mother and thy Father,' right after the part about stoning gays. Sure, they could be a little 'strict', but I often think back fondly on the memories I haven't repressed. The truth is, I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for the way my parents raised me. And I love the man I am today -- which means I love the way my parents raised me. You can't spell parentry without 'try'."

Of course he also says:
"You can't spell emotional abuse without bus, that's why I don't take public transportation"

You gotta first realize that this is all in fun and the point is to hit you with absurdities until milk comes out your nose, or whatever you are drinking. If you are not drinking milk and it comes out your nose while reading this book, may want to see a doctor. But coming from a man that claims "baby carrots are making me gay," just prepare for anything.

Trust me you'll get a great laugh out of this book. Of all the people in the world that think they have it right, Stephen Colbert joins them in a farcical manner and allows us to laugh at ourselves.

The video below is not great in video quality but funny. Stephen Colbert reading from his book.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:06 PM Comments: 0

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Raising Atlantis" by Thomas Greanias published 2005

There are many myths / folklore / stories throughout time that speak of a great flood that covered the Earth and there are just as many stories and myths that speak of an advanced island civilization that sank into the ocean. The most common myth of the island of Atlantis. But no one has uncovered real proof.

Thomas Greanias writes a great piece of thriller fiction in Raising Atlantis that explores one of the "what if" aspects of Atlantis. That is; What if Atlantis were Antarctica?

In Antarctica an earthquake swallows up a team of scientists and at the same time a large split in the ice uncovers a Pyramid larger than any other in the world and yet built to the same ratios as all the other world pyramids. Dr. Conrad Yeats is trying to escape the Peruvian police as a U.S. Special Forces helicopter approaches him and the soldiers coming out of the chopper offer him a getaway but that getaway consists of coming to Antarctica and help his dad General William Yeats.
Seeing the chance to escape Conrad takes the opportunity but regrets having to face his dad (they've never seen eye to eye since Conrad is adopted and the General will not give him info on his blood parents). Dr. Conrad Yeats is pretty much a rogue archeaologist. He has a reputation of not preserving the finds only publishing the results. Some countries will no longer allow him access.

In Malaysia former nun Serena Serghetti's personal helicopter is nearly shot down by the Malaysian government police. They begin disassembling her personal craft while telling her she needs to get out of that country, her saving grace is that the Vatican wants her, more specifically, the Pope has requested an audience with her. Rather than facing imprisonment by the Malaysians she goes to the Vatican to find what a Pope would want with a Environmental Freedom Fighter, linguist and former Catholic Nun.

They all want Atlantis, the secrets to God are to be found but at what expense?

Once the exploration of the Pyramid begins the Earth is in an upheaval. The machinery in the pyramid begins turning the Earth on it's axis and what is now Antarctica will soon return to the tropical region turning the other sections of the world into an ice age that will destroy nearly all human life.

The discovery of the pyramid and its workings and the ultimate use of the pyramid is a great clue searching adventure reminiscent of Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code." This book is a thrill a minute. I will warn you the book has a pretty good cliff hanger ending, but the sequel "The Atlantis Conspiracy" will be out this month.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:21 PM Comments: 0

Monday, January 28, 2008

Book Review: "The Real Frank Zappa Book" by Frank Zappa with Peter Occhiogrosso

Not only have I had a very interesting adulthood, but I was also lucky to have a very interesting childhood. Sure there were the typical good times and bad times, and there were things I wish I would have done different (like learn to play guitar). But all that aside, My dad taught me to really appreciate music. All sorts of music. In the 70s he would play Frank Zappa alongside Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Ry Cooder, Commander Cody and others and when the 80s hit we became fans of the Talking Heads, Devo and others.

As I grew older I came to further develop this appreciation by learning to love classical music, real hard core blues and more. It all goes back to Frank Zappa. Seriously. Many folks who hear the name Frank Zappa only think of such songs as "Yellow Snow," "Dinah Moe Hum" or even "Valley Girl." Not to mention the unmentionable titles that described various female body parts. For those folks that think of Frank Zappa as only a "potty-mouthed" hippy've got it wrong....WAY WRONG. His greatest works are typically instrumental songs like "Peaches en Regalia," or relatively harmless songs like "Inca Roads." This book describes the best features of Zappa that were constantly overlooked.

Frank Zappa passed away in 1993. (As a side here, in college a friend of mine Jim Damm and I hosted a 6 hour tribute to Zappa on the college radio station, WIDB in Carbondale, IL the night after his death.) He was just in the process of seriously announcing his candidacy for U.S. president, but he found out, too late, that he had prostate cancer and passed away before this could be more than a mention on some talk show. This book was published in 1988. In early 1990, Zappa visited Czechoslovakia at the request of President Václav Havel, a lifelong fan, and was asked by Havel to serve as consultant for the government on trade, cultural matters and tourism. Zappa enthusiastically agreed and began meeting with corporate officials interested in investing in Czechoslovakia. Within a few weeks, however, the US administration put pressure on the Czech government to withdraw the appointment. Havel made Zappa an unofficial cultural attaché instead. So this book doesn't cover the political career of Frank Zappa, but it does have several chapters that show he was getting started.

One of the very unique aspects of this book is that it is the ONLY book about Frank Zappa written by Frank Zappa. On the back cover there is a quote from the New York Post that says, "This book belongs in Every Home." I would have to agree with that. Not for the informative look at his early career, but for the views and opinions on politics, censorship and over-organized religion.

The breakdown of the book by chapters looks like this:

The first 7 chapters cover his career and how he came to do what he did with music and performance art, with some great anecdotes about being on the road with The Mothers of Invention. Chapter seven had me rolling with laughter. This Chapter was about the indecency hearing Great Britain held concerning his Orchestral performance for what would be the movie "200 Motels" starring Theodore Bikel, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and, of course, The Mothers. Apparantly a stage hand had filed a complaint about some of Zappa's lyrics. Which I should note here, his lyrics were all about absurdism. So this chapter takes the court record and reprints it. The funny part is the setup of all the old Brittania Judges (old men in white wigs) reading and trying to determine the lyrics of many of Zappa's songs and Zappa explaining to the best of his ability, I'm assuming while trying to not crack up laughing.

The next chapter of the book is a very in depth look at music. Including scoring compositions for orchestras and the many headaches involved. At this point Zappa explains the personalities of musicians and how they relate to the instrument they play.

The last part of the book is spent on politics, including the famous PMRC hearings in the 80s on Capitol Hill. Frank shares his knowledge of why the wives of senators wanted legislation on music and why certain senators' wives were the ones wanting said legislation. He ventures to say that Tipper Gore was funding what looks like would be a run for presidency for her husband...and this book was 1988?

If you want some fun rock and roll info with some great political discussion and debate thrown in....this is the book for you. I'll tell you Zappa is not what you think...even if you think you know him.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:50 PM Comments: 0