This is a light, breezy book in line with the author's own entertaining style. It is made more pleasant by the author reading it himself. What has made Dick Van Dyke such a likeable person is his self-effacement. He really seems to believe that luck rather than talent is the reason for his success. Certainly he was fortunate to team up with Carl Reiner but, viewing his work, one can say that Carl was as fortunate to find him. Surprising was his strong spiritual sense and sincere moral convictions. Unfortunate, in my opinion, was the lack of development in this area. The shallow soil of Tinseltown does seem to make it difficult for genuine spiritual growth. While he occasionally alludes to the demons with which he has dealt, he does not go into details. And that is just as well. Stories of the fall and redemption of celebrities are as boring as they are predictable. In this work one is impressed by the fact that, for the most part, the author has managed to keep these demons at bay. That he has also managed to survive as a genuinely good person in this narcissistic culture is itself impressive. There is hope yet for Hollywood.
As someone who has listened to more than 40 courses from the Great Courses series, this one is simply the best. Since music was not my main interest, I was reluctant to invest $100 in this course from the GC website but jumped when I saw it offered by Audible for 1 credit because Prof. Greenberg had been most highly rated (4.8) by those who purchased the course.
I admit to being initially disappointed by the professor's more informal and expressive approach which seemed geared to college Freshmen accustomed to listening to Hip Hop on their I Pods. But by the second lesson I was hooked for several reasons. First, the man not only knows his music, he loves it and his enthusiasm is infectious. Second, he approaches this course more like a coach than a teacher: leading the listener step by step through the music selections, reviewing main points from earlier lectures to bring the listener back up to speed, and asking leading questions to keep the listener's head in the game. Third, his rants are entertaining whether they are making a point or settling a score with other musicologists and he has some killer throw away lines.
The bottom line is that I now have the classical station preset on my car radio and, with a basic understanding of the approach of the composer and of the era of the music, I enjoy listening to it. Prof. Greenberg provides the key to understanding this music and I suspect that many of his students at Berkeley have also added Mozart and Verdi to their playlists.
The only drawback is that the course notes are not included with the audio download. While this is not important for many of the Great Courses, it would be a valuable accompaniment to this course. But then again, with an $85 savings through Audible, this minor complaint, like Beethoven's Fifth, is resolved by Bob Greenberg's major accomplishment.
This behind-the-scene's view of the Vatican is at times at times tedious, and at times intriguiging. Overall it is informative and very interesting. The portraits of the last two popes is most insightful.For those following the the conclave it is well worth listening to.
This book provides important details that remind us of the inherent problems with Obamacare. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to remain conversant with the actual facts as this issue takes on a new emotional life during the presidential campaign.
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